Strictly Come Dancing 2019: An ‘energetic’ new judge, the show’s first ever reality star and the arrival of ‘mischievous’ Rylan - 5 reasons why everyone's talking about the return of Strictly

Fans are getting excited for brand new Strictly on BBC One this year - and here's why...

It's almost time to take to the dancefloor once again as the nation’s favourite celebrity dance contest returns to BBC One.

After confirming the line-up in full, Strictly Come Dancing 2019 has got people talking for a whole host of reasons, including introducing a new judge, a new professional dancer and a brand new co-presenter on It Takes Two.

Here, we reveal why Strictly 2019 is the show on everyone's lips - and why you should tune in.

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1. There's a new judge AND a new professional dancer 

After seven years on the Strictly judging panel, Dame Darcey Bussell stepped down from the show in April 2019 - leaving big shoes to fill.

After much speculation as to whose Darcey’s replacement would be, Motsi Mabuse - the sister of the show's professional dancer Oti - was confirmed as the new fourth judge in July 2019.

Originally from South Africa, Motsi has plenty of experience in a similar role, as she's been a judge on Let’s Dance (the German version of Strictly) since 2011.

After it was announced that she'd be joining the Strictly family, Motsi said she hopes to add her "own bit of sparkle to the show” while the Beeb said that Motsi's "natural warmth, energy and passion for dance makes her the perfect addition”.

She'll sit on the judging panel alongside Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood, who'll return for another series of bickering and dancefloor musings, and head judge Shirley Ballas.

But Motsi isn’t the only new addition to the 2019 professional line-up - there’s a new dancer, too!

Fan favourite Pasha Kovalev has quit after eight years on the series, during which time he won series 12 with Caroline Flack and reached the 2018 final with Ashley Roberts.

Pasha's replacement China-born Latin star Nancy Xu, below. She will not have a celebrity partner in her first series on the show, but will appear in the group routines with the professional dancers.

strictly new dancer

A finalist on So You Think You Can Dance in her home country, she has also performed in the West End and Broadway show Burn The Floor. 

We can’t wait to see what all the new additions bring to the show this year!

[Everything you need to know about Strictly 2019]

[What to watch on BT TV this month]

2. The controversial line-up - including the show's first stand in!

There’s always some controversy when the Strictly line-up is released - and this year is no different. 

Both the Telegraph and Entertainment Daily both labelled it ‘the worst Strictly Come Dancing line-up yet’ - but fans of the show took to Twitter to call it the ‘best line-up in years’. You can’t please everyone!

Whichever way you feel about the line-up, there’s a clear skew towards the younger demographic, with this year's celebrities including a YouTuber, a children’s TV presenter, a Radio 1 DJ and the show’s first ever reality TV star.

The YouTuber in question, 19-year-old Saffron Barker, was no doubt in the running after the show’s first ever vlogger, Joe Sugg, made the final last year.

And Strictly lifted its own, famous 'no reality stars' ban for Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing, who was widely praised following his appearance on Famous And Fighting Crime earlier this year.

Although sadly, Laing has now been forced out of the TV series, after injuring his leg during the pre-recorded launch show. He's been replaced by former Emmerdale actor, Kevin Fletcher.

jamie laing

Only time will tell whether the would-be dancers with a younger fan base will have the last laugh!

Here's the full celebrity line-up:

Emma Barton (EastEnders actress and stage star)

Chris Ramsey (Stand-Up Comedian, actor and podcaster)

David James (Former England goalkeeper)

Saffron Barker (YouTube star)

Catherine Tyldesley (Former Coronation Street actress)

Mike Bushell (BBC Breakfast presenter)

Karim Zeroual (CBBC presenter)

Emma, Viscountess Weymouth (Model and Longleat heiress)

Will Bayley (Table Tennis paralympian)

Michelle Visage (TV star)

Jamie Laing (Made in Chelsea star)

Alex Scott (Footballer and pundit)

Dev Griffin (Radio 1 DJ)

James Cracknell (Radio 1 DJ)

Anneka Rice (TV and radio presenter)

3. Will the Strictly curse strike again?

The Strictly curse was in full swing in 2018, with many couples succumbing to the infamous negative effect that the show has on romanctic relationships.

Last year, the show's professional dancer Katya Jones was rocked by scandal after she was seen kissing her celebrity partner Seann Walsh - made all the worse as her husband Neil is a professional dancer on the show too.

Not to mention the winning couple, Kevin Clifton and Stacey Dooley, below, who were also rocked by romance rumours throughout the show, as Dooley had a boyfriend at the time.

The winning couple became an item and in a recent interview with the Guardian, Dooley confirmed they're still very much together.

strictly stacey kevin

This year, it looks like one celebrity may have already fallen victim to the curse, as there are rumours that Jamie Laing has been dumped by his girlfriend Sophie Habboo ahead of the dancing show's launch.

A source revealed to Mail On Sunday: "As Sophie knew fellow Made In Chelsea personality Jamie had been chosen to appear on Strictly Come Dancing, she gave him the elbow, claiming lothario Laing struggles with monogamy at the best of times, let alone while he’s dancing the tango with a beautiful woman."

The pair later appeared at the press launch of the new series of Made In Chelsea together, suggesting the curse may not have stuck just yet.

Chris Ramsey’s wife Rosie joked that the couple had also fallen victim to the curse - after the comedian failed to call her when it was announced he was joining the show (all in jest, of course).


Can’t think of a caption. Robin has gone to bed with Mamar. We’re on the lash. 💁🏼‍♀️💁🏼‍♂️

A post shared by Rosie Ramsey (@rosemarinoramsey) on

She later confirmed: “He rang, our marriage is safe. I’m really looking forward to having something to actually do on a Saturday night.”

But one person who won’t fall victim to the Strictly curse is James Cracknell, the Olympic rowing gold medallist, who split from his wife earlier this year.

It was reported by The Sun that James' former partner 'banned' him from competing in the competition, which James later confirmed on Good Morning Britain.

4. A new Strictly baby!

2019 welcomed a new addition to the world of Strictly babies - Mia Louise, the daughter of former celebrity contestant Gemma Atkinson and her boyfriend, one of the show’s professional dancers, Gorka Marquez.

Gorka has been in the Strictly pros crew since 2016 and reached the final in 2017 with Alexandra Burke - the same year that he started dating ex-soap star, Gemma. 


Attempt 14 at getting a family pic 🤦🏻‍♂️🤪😂 @glouiseatkinson

A post shared by 𝗚𝗢𝗥𝗞𝗔 𝗠𝗔𝗥𝗤𝗨𝗘𝗭 (@gorka_marquez) on

Fingers crossed baby Mia will be watching at home from the comfort of the sofa with mum!

Gemma and Gorka aren’t the first celeb/professional pair to have a Strictly baby, as former celeb contestant Ben Cohen had daughter Milena with former pro dancer Kristina Rihanoff in 2016. 

The couple were partnered together for the eleventh series of the show, waltzing their way to the ninth week in 2013.

And another former celeb contestant, Rachel Riley, recently announced her pregnancy with new husband Pasha Kovalev, who was a professional dancer on the show until this year.

The couple announced their baby news in May 2019, with their little one due in December.


Pash and I have a conundrum for have till December to work it out! We’re over the moon excited 😍

A post shared by Rachel Riley (@rachelrileyrr) on

The pair met after dancing together on the BBC show in 2013, before confirming their relationship in 2014.

A Christmas Strictly baby!

5. The arrival of... Rylan

From the X Factor to BBC Radio 2, Rylan Clark-Neal has become one of the nation’s favourite TV presenters in recent years.

So much so that he’s been invited into the Strictly family to co-present its spin-off show for the very first time.


Rylan will join Zoe Ball on BBC Two's It Takes Two, which airs every weeknight in the autumn. 

According to the BBC, Rylan's signing is likely to mean the pair will now take turns to present, but they may also host together occasionally.

Hosting fewer editions of the TV show will ease the workload for Ball, who otherwise would have been presenting a morning radio show followed by an evening TV programme every weekday for months.

Of joining the show, Rylan said: "I've always been a massive fan of It Takes Two and to be working with the amazing Zoe Ball is a dream.

"I'm extremely honoured to be joining such a television institution and can't wait to bring a lot of mischief to the Strictly bubble. I'm looking forward to getting started and seeing you all soon.”

Bring on the mischief, we say!

Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturday nights on BBC One. Catch up with the BBC iPlayer app on BT TV.

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