Belfast Telegraph

Anneka Rice joins most diverse line-up in history of Strictly Come Dancing

Five of the 15 contestants this year are non-white.

Anneka Rice (Ian West/PA)
Anneka Rice (Ian West/PA)

Anneka Rice is the final contestant to join the most diverse line-up in the history of Strictly Come Dancing.

The veteran broadcaster, 60, joked that she has not “got a shimmy in me” as it was revealed she is the 15th star to join the line-up.

Five of the 15 contestants this year are non-white, the highest proportion so far.

She joins rower James Cracknell, former football stars Alex Scott and David James, Made In Chelsea’s Jamie Laing, RuPaul’s Drag Race star Michelle Visage, Paralympic champion Will Bayley and ex-Coronation Street actress Catherine Tyldesley.

Also competing this year are EastEnders star Emma Barton, comedian Chris Ramsey, YouTube personality Saffron Barker, Radio 1 DJ Dev Griffin, chef and socialite Emma, Viscountess Weymouth, BBC sports presenter Mike Bushell and children’s TV host Karim Zeroual.

After she was announced on BBC Radio 2, Rice said: “I have never danced in front of one member of my family or anyone who knows me.

“I haven’t danced since I was seven, since I was sacked from ballet because I looked like a big pudding, a rice pudding, that was my nickname.

“She sent me home because I was plain and podgy, so I haven’t danced since because I’ve had a complete thing about it.

“My sons said it’s a joke but this is the year for me, my last son has just left university.

“I’m feeling reckless, I’ve done two reckless things this year, I did stand-up for the first time and I took part in the Sky Arts portrait artist of the year competition, having never drawn a head before.”

At 60, Rice will be the oldest contestant this year, while Barker will be the youngest at 19.

(PA Graphics)

Rice said she attempted a Zumba class in 2011, but it was a “disaster” and that she could not follow it at all.

The TV stalwart, known for flitting across the country in colourful jumpsuits on Channel 4 gameshow Treasure Hunt and then her own series Challenge Anneka in the 1980s and 1990s, said she is not a “girly girl” and is concerned about wearing “flouncy” dresses on the dance floor.

Rice followed double Olympic gold medal-winning rower Cracknell, who was confirmed as the 14th star on the Strictly line-up earlier on Wednesday.

The sports star, who was unveiled on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, said that his ex-wife Beverley Turner had previously banned him from taking part in the show because of the so-called Strictly curse.

The former rowing world champion said of his family’s response to him joining this year: “They’re really embarrassed for me!

“Bev was supportive and the kids went ‘No’.”

“My 15-year-old said ‘You’ve got to do some dad dancing’. That is my dancing!”

In a major departure from tradition, there are no musicians or singers among the contestants.

It is the first time this decade that those professions have not been represented on the show.



From Belfast Telegraph