Devastating news pre-Sunday's show.
Strictly Come Dancing fans: breaking news just in.
It's just two days until the final and yet, in a shocking turn of events, presenter AJ Odudu and dance partner Kai Widdrington have confirmed that they've had to step down from the final.
The 33-year-old is thought to have suffered a foot injury so bad she "projectile vomited". She injured herself previously this week while training for the final show.
In a statement, BBC officials have said: "Sadly due to injury AJ and Kai have had to withdraw from #Strictly and won’t compete in tomorrow’s final."
"We want to thank them for 13 incredible weeks on the show and the pure joy they brought to the dance floor every week."
This is heartbreaking news for the pair, who are a firm fan favourite and have worked hard for thirteen weeks to earn their place in the top three.
It's still set to be one of the TV highlights of this weekend, with Bake Off winner John Whaite and dance partner Johannes Radebe now going head-to-head with Eastenders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis and dance partner Giovanni Pernice.
Keen for a throwback look over this year's sparkling lineup? These were the brave celebrities who took part, plus who their professional dance pairings were (although sadly no rumoured Strictly romances this year).
As usual, the 2021 contestants came from a mix of entertainment-related backgrounds, and we loved watching them Rumba their way into the nation's hearts.
Strictly Come Dancing has made history once again this year with the inclusion of the first male same-sex couple to take part in the show.
There were 15 contestants in total, so are you ready to take a look at who was in the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 line up, along with their professional partners?
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Tilly Ramsay
Tilly Ramsay might have a very famous surname curtesy of her had, Gordon Ramsay, but she's got a huge following of her own to cheer her on as she takes her steps towards becoming an expert dancer in this year's Strictly. The 19-year-old is this year's youngest competitor, and says she's "always up for fun new challenges and this will be my biggest adventure yet." With over 9.5 million followers on TikTok, Tilly will certainly have lots of support, but there's just one thing on her dad's mind: "Don’t date those dancers," he told his daughter on This Morning.
Tilly Ramsay's Strictly professional dance partner: Nikita Kuzmin
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Adam Peaty
As if achieving three medals at the Tokyo Olympics wasn't enough, Team GB swimmer Adam Peaty is now on to his next challenge: becoming a pro dancer. The 26-year-old dad-of-one couldn't contain his excitement about taking part in Strictly Come Dancing this year. "I’m really looking forward to doing something totally different and challenging myself away from the pool," he said, admitting that he hopes his "competitive nature" will see him through, even if his dancing skills don't. Acknowledging the fact that he's taken on a lot this year, Adam added: "I think this will come as a surprise to a lot of people." Yup. Some people just can't sit still.
Adam Peaty's Strictly professional dance partner: Katya Jones
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Judi Love
Sprinkling a bit of Loose Women joy into this year's Strictly is Judi Love, who says she's still "in shock" about the fact she's taking part in the much-loved show. A fangirl herself, Judi explained: "I’ve watched it for many years and admired the phenomenal abilities of these dancers and celebrities that have taken part and dedicated themselves to learning a new craft. I’m truly looking forward to pushing myself in something that I could have only dreamed of doing and now it’s actually coming true!"
Judi Love's Strictly professional dance partner: Graziano Di Prima
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Ugo Monye
From the rugby pitch to the ballroom... Former Harlequins and England rugby player Ugo Monye is switching up his sport of choice by taking part in Strictly Come Dancing 2021. "My two beautiful daughters never had a chance to see me on the rugby pitch, so to know they can watch me waltzing and twirling every week is really special to me," he said, adding that he's hopeful he's got "more than just dad dancing moves" to offer. Ugo described his spot on the Strictly line up as "a dream come true" and revealed he's particularly eager to get in costume. "Bring on the sequins!" the sportsman added.
Ugo Monye's Strictly professional dance partner: Oti Mabuse
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Rose Ayling-Ellis
Following in the footsteps of fellow Eastenders star Maisie Smith, Rose Ayling-Ellis, who is best known for playing Frankie Lewis in the soap, will be taking part in the 2021 series of Strictly. And she's making history when she does, by becoming the first-ever deaf contestant on the show. "To be the first deaf contestant on Strictly Come Dancing is sooooo exciting… and a little bit scary," the actress wrote on Instagram, adding that keeping her new project under wraps was "the hardest secret I have ever had to keep."
Rose Ayling-Ellis' Strictly professional dance partner: Giovanni Pernice
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Greg Wise
You might be most recently familiar with actor Greg Wise from his role as Lord Mountbatten in Netflix's The Crown, but he's soon to become a regular fixture on your Saturday nights as he limbers up for Strictly 2021. Everyone has different motivations for joining the popular ballroom dancing show, but there's a particularly meaningful one for Greg, who's doing it in memory of his sister, Clare, who passed away in 2016. "My beautiful sister was a huge disco queen. She left our world almost exactly five years ago in a glitter ball coffin. This is for her," said Greg. The 55-year-old star, who's married to actress Emma Thompson, added that he's "thrilled to be dipping my toes, knees, hips and arms into this wonderful world," despite not having the most accomplished dance skills just yet.
Greg Wise's Strictly professional dance partner: Karen Hauer
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Nina Wadia
It's a busy time of year for Eastenders stars; actress Nina Wadia makes two from the popular east-end soap to join the Strictly Come Dancing line up this year. Also a comedian, humour is what's important for Nina, who said: "I don’t even mind if people are laughing at me, I just want to them to be laughing." The 52-year-old added that she's delighted to be taking part "before I am too old and can’t walk anymore. This is the last year I’m going to wear heels," she said. We feel you.
Nina Wadia's Strictly professional dance partner: Neil Jones
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Dan Walker
He's usually a companion of weekday mornings, fronting BBC Breakfast, but now Dan Walker is going to feature in your Saturday and Sunday nights too, as he confirmed he will be dancing in this year's Strictly line up. Revealing the news on his very own breakfast show, Dan shared that he holds very low expectations for his dancing nouse. "I'm not making any room on our shelves in our house for the Glitterball," he said, adding: "I'm one of those people, I've danced at three weddings, two school discos." But the main thing is, he's having a good time. "I'm enjoying the experience of actually being able to learn to dance, have a bit of fun... we'll see what happens," the presenter added.
Dan Walker's Strictly professional dance partner: Nadiya Bychkova
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Katie McGlynn
She's done Hollyoaks. She's done Coronation Street. And now actress Katie McGlynn will be starring in a different show entirely: Strictly Come Dancing. The most exciting part for Katie? Shaking it up and doing something completely new. "Although I do get to have so much fun as an actress, a lot of my roles have involved quite serious and challenging storylines, so I'm fully ready to let my hair down and do something different, even if it is completely outside of my comfort zone," she said. Like many of her Strictly Come Dancing 2021 co-stars, the hardest part so far has been the secrecy surrounding her involvement in the show, but now the cat's out the bag, Katie is ready to get her game face on. "It's been so hard keeping it a secret, but I can finally say that I'm getting ready to shake my shimmy and become part of the Strictly family!" she told the BBC.
Katie McGlynn's Strictly professional dance partner: Gorka Marquez
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Sara Davies
Dragon's Den star Sara Davies revealed on Monday 9 August that she'll be taking part in Strictly 2021. The businesswoman earned her place on the Dragon's Den board of investors after founding her own crafter's supply company, Crafter's Companion, while she was at university in York. It's safe to say she's pretty pleased with her swerve into the dancing world, though, describing her involvement in Strictly Come Dancing as one of her life long ambitions in an interview with Good Morning Britain. "It always felt like a pipe dream until I joined the Dragons Den panel because Deborah [Meaden] had done it," she said. As for her dancing expertise? "I'm really good when I've had a few drinks on a Saturday night," she shared. "In my head I think I'll be really good but the reality might be quite different." Yeah, probably a bit different.
"The business world has taught me that tenacity, drive and determination deliver results, I hope that I can bring that to the dancefloor," added Sara. We can't wait to see her get going!
Sara Davies' Strictly professional dance partner: Aljaž Škorjanec
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Tom Fletcher
McFly singer and guitarist Tom Fletcher was the first celebrity to be announced for this year's Strictly, and we can't wait to see him find his groove on the dance floor. Tom will no doubt be hoping to follow in the footsteps of his bandmate Harry Judd, who won the series in 2011, and he says he "genuinely can’t wait" to get started. It's been a big 12 months in the Fletcher household where reality TV is concerned; his wife and co-author, Giovanna Fletcher, was crowned Queen of the Castle in last year's I'm A Celebrity. So it's game on for Tom to earn his very own crown!
Tom Fletcher's Strictly professional dance partner: Amy Dowden
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: AJ Odudu
TV presenter AJ Odudu was the first female contestant to be announced in this year's Strictly Come Dancing. As well as presenting the likes of Big Brother's Bit On The Side, AJ is also a trained PT, which will no doubt set her up very well for honing her dancing skills. Speaking about taking part in Strictly, the 33-year-old said she's "beyond chuffed" that she's getting involved. "I absolutely love the show and am fully committed to making the most of every second of the Strictly experience. Bring it on!" she added.
AJ Odudu's Strictly professional dance partner: Kai Widdrington
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: John Whaite
Former Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite will become one half of the first same-sex male pairing in Strictly history when he starts dancing in the autumn, following in the footsteps of Olympic boxer Nicola Adams, who danced with Katya Jones in the 2020 series. Sharing the news with Matt Lucas on BBC Radio 2, the baker said it’s “an honour” to take the trailblazing role. “When they asked me if I’d be interested, I just bit their hand off because I thought… to do that and represent the LGBTQ+ community is one thing – but also just to see two men or two women dancing together, it’s not necessarily about sexuality, it’s just about intimacy and respect,” he told Lucas. “I am so excited,” he said, adding that he's “very, very nervous. I’m not gonna lie, I’m actually shaking inside. But I’m so excited, I can’t wait to get going, I was born to be on that dance floor."
John Whaite's Strictly professional dance partner: Johannes Radebe
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Robert Webb
Peep Show fans will be delighted to see that one of the show's stars Robert Webb is embracing his rhythm and joining the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 line up. The 48-year-old said he was "ludicrously excited" to be taking part, describing it as a "big, generous, joyful show." The bit he's most thrilled about, though? The outfits. "I can't wait to get packed into a spandex onesie and fired from a glitter cannon directly at Claudia Winkleman," he said. Neither can we.
Robert Webb's Strictly professional dance partner: Dianne Buswell
Strictly Come Dancing 2021: Rhys Stephenson
Another Strictly celeb comes in the shape of children's TV presenter Rhys Stephenson. He's used to tackling all the challenges Blue Peter throws at him, but how will he fare at training with a professional dancer? Well, he's confident. "I cannot wait to experience it all: the costumes, the orchestra, even Craig’s glare! I am READY!" he said, adding that he's "dreamt" of being on the show for years. "I know for a fact that it is going to exceed every expectation," said Rhys. Nothing like a fan boy to boost everyone's enthusiasm!
Rhys Stephenson's Strictly professional dance partner: Nancy Xu
With the first episode down, which saw Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly introduce the audience to this year's dance couples, we're now awaiting the first live show with excitement, this Saturday 25 September. Roll on the weekend...
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Cat is a Senior Editor at Marie Claire, covering news and features across the brand's key purpose pillars, including women's issues, politics, career, mental health, female empowerment and equality, as well as books.
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