Strictly Come Dancing unveils line-up for Christmas special

Six stars will compete to lift the Silver Star trophy.

Press Association
Last updated: 5 November 2019 - 7.10pm

Gemma Atkinson will return to the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom for the show’s Christmas special just six months after giving birth.

Mark Wright, Joe Sugg, Debbie McGee, Chizzy Akudolu and Richard Arnold will also dust off their dancing shoes for the all-star festive episode on BBC One on Christmas Day.

The former soap star, who welcomed Mia with Strictly professional Gorka Marquez in July this year, was runner-up in the 2017 series.

National Prince’s Trust Awards 2019
Gemma Atkinson and Gorka Marquez before they welcomed Mia (Ian West/PA)

Atkinson, 34, and 29-year-old Marquez met on Strictly in 2017, when she was partnered with Aljaz Skorjanec and he was dancing with Alexandra Burke.

Atkinson said she was “overjoyed” to be returning to the show that “changed my life”.

She said: “I had the absolute best time on Strictly and it completely changed my life so I am absolutely overjoyed to be returning to the dancefloor this Christmas with a new challenge, and of course to be back with the gang!”

Dianne Buswell and Joe Sugg recall first meeting on Strictly
Joe Sugg’s time on the show led to romance with his partner Dianne Buswell (Aaron Chown/PA)

Sugg, who competed last year, said: “I’m really excited to have a go on the Strictly ballroom floor again this Christmas.

“Strictly feels like a home away from home for me so I will be giving it my best shot and ending the year on a high.”

Reality star Wright said: “It’s been a while since I was on the dancefloor but I’m very much looking to forward to dusting off the dance shoes for Christmas!

“I can’t wait to be back – let’s get going!”

The social media star found romance with his professional partner, Dianne Buswell, and the pair are still together.

Strictly Come Dancing 2014
Karen Hauer and Mark Wright on Strictly (Guy Levy/PA)

The special episode will also see the return of McGee, who reached the final of the 2017 series, and Akudolu, who became the first celebrity to be eliminated that year.

McGee, who rose to fame alongside magician husband Paul Daniels, said: “I thought all my dreams came true two years ago when I was asked to do the series, but to be one of the rare people to be invited back to do the Christmas Special is the icing on the cake.

“I can’t wait to be back dancing with my Strictly family”.

Akudolu said: “I am so excited to be coming back to Strictly this year, and being able to get back on the dancefloor once again!

“I’m still the biggest fan of Strictly so it’s wonderful to be back with old friends, in front of and behind the camera, and hopefully some new ones for Christmas.

Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour Launch – Birmingham
Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice (Joe Giddens/PA)

“Bring on the sparkle, and maybe an odd 10 – it is Christmas after all…!”

Celebrity journalist Arnold added: “I can’t wait to get back out on the dance floor and throw shapes beneath the glitter ball once again.

“I just can’t promise you’ll recognise them or that they’ll be in any particular order.

“What I can promise is that one of us will be a professional.”

The programme will be hosted by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, with Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Bruno Tonioli and head judge Shirley Ballas dishing out the critiques.

The professional dancers and pairings will be revealed in due course.

The Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special will air on BBC One on Christmas Day.

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