It’s been a great start to the new season for reigning Champions Liverpool, but it’s just got even better for Connolly, who is the winner…
The BBC’s flagship entertainment series, Strictly Come Dancing, returns to our screens this autumn with hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman at the helm once more. The 18th series is expected to be somewhat shorter than usual, with the Blackpool and Christmas specials cancelled, and no red carpet launch. The group performances will be pre-recorded and there will be quarantine requirements for the 12 contestants and their professional dance partners. Interestingly, too, tickets will be available to the public only for family/household groups of four. Registration for tickets closes on 20 September so you still have time to apply if you are a big fan of the show.
The line-up for the 2020 series is the usual eclectic mix of celebrities and near-celebrities across a wide age spectrum. This show favours the young and fleet-of-foot and it is no surprise that the bookmakers’ odds reflect this reality.
|Odds were correct at time of publishing but may be subject to change|
19-year old Eastenders actress, Maisie Smith, leads the pack with odds of 7/4 from bookie SkyBet that she will lift the famous glitterball trophy shortly before Christmas. Maisie won the Strictly Children in Need special last year, cha-cha-ing to acclaim with one of the show’s favourite professionals, Kevin Clifton. She has been up front about her talents, saying “I’m not going to lie, I’ve got dancing experience. I’ve done a bit of hip-hop and street dance throughout my time but I have no technical ability at all”. Despite her self-deprecation, Maisie is definitely one-to-watch as a potential winner.
Former singer-songwriter with The Wanted, 31-year old Max George is also fancied to win, with odds of 9/2 from bookmaker BetVictor. Boy band members have a great track record on Strictly. Harry Judd from McFly triumphed in 2011 and Max’s fellow band member Jay McGuiness won the show back in 2015.
YouTube star, HRVY, is also tipped to do well and bookie BoyleSports offers odds of 6/1 that the 21-year old will triumph. The singer and TV presenter, whose real name is Harvey Cantwell, is greatly looking forward to his Strictly experience and his tender age will surely be a positive as young’uns tend to be a little more flexible and fitter than older contestants.
Odds of 8/1 are on offer, from BetVictor, for 31-year old Jamie Laing. The Made in Chelsea star was forced to pull out of last year’s series, due to injury, allowing Kelvin Fletcher to take his place. This was a great result for Kelvin – as he won the final with professional dance partner Oti Mabuse – but Jamie still feels he has something to prove, saying “I’m over the moon I actually get to come back and dance again. It’s going to be unbelievably amazing!”.
Boxing star, Nicola Adams, is also appearing on the show. The 37-year old, double-gold Olympic phenomenon, is breaking the mould by dancing with a female professional partner. She commented in The Guardian that by participating she will be “breaking boundaries and showing people that it’s ok”. Last year’s show featured a same-sex couple for one performance, professionals Johannes Radebe and Graziano Di Prima, and the 2020 show is making further efforts to foster inclusion and diversity. Bet365 offers odds of 8/1 for Nicola, putting her at level pegging with Jamie Laing at this early stage in the betting.
Jason Bell is the only former sportsman this time round, and the 42-year old American Football star is excited at the prospect of joining the show, saying “I am thrilled. I’m a huge fan of the show, I’ve been watching it since I came to this country”. If you fancy a flutter on Jason, bookmaker Bet365 offers odds of 16/1 that he will win the competition.
Caroline Quentin has enjoyed a hugely successful career as actress and broadcaster and the 60-year old is taking on the challenge of Strictly with her typical good humour, saying “I hope my knees don’t let me down and I hope the foundation garments live up to expectations when I start leaping about!. We are confident that the BBC costume department will not disappoint Caroline. Bookie BoyleSports offers odds of 16/1 that she will win the series.
Clare Amfo, 36-year old Radio 1 presenter, shares the same odds as Jason, this time with bookie BoyleSports. She acknowledges the importance of the Strictly Come Dancing show to the nation’s psyche, saying “As we know this year has been a real challenge, and escapism through dancing is something I know we all enjoy”. Hear, Hear!
In the middle ranks of the dozen celebrities, we have Good Morning Britain presenter Ranvir Singh on 28/1 from Bet365 and JJ Chalmers, formerly of the Royal Marines and Invictus Games medalist, with odds of 33/1 from bookie William Hill.
43-year-old Ranvir follows in the sparkly shoes of fellow GMB contestants of years past including Susanna Reid (runner-up in 2013), Richard Arnold and Charlotte Hawkins. She lacks belief in her abilities, saying “It feels like I’m on a rollercoaster…Hopefully after the first dance I will feel exhilarated rather than sick”.
John-James Chalmers is no stranger to adversity, having suffered severe injuries in Afghanistan during his service as Royal Marines reservist. The Scottish broadcaster acknowledges the challenge Strictly will place on him but declares himself ready to take it on!
Finally, we have the rank outsiders. Past series have shown us that some contestants may not have twinkle-toes but can, nonetheless, provide the viewers with top-flight entertainment nonetheless. Who can forget the irrepressible Mike Bushell on last year’s series, or Ann Widdecome a decade ago? Pure TV gold!
Comedian Bill Bailey knows he is unlikely to win that glitterball trophy, saying “I’m not Lord of the Dance, more Caretaker of the Dance”, but the 55-year old TV personality is willing to give it a go. Bookie SkyBet offers odds of 80/1 that Bill will win the show.
Politician Jacqui Smith is even lower in the pecking order, with odds of 100/1 from bookmaker William Hill. The first female Home Secretary, in the Labour administration under former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, 57-year old Jacqui has no dancing experience that we know of, save a Scottish Highland dancing bronze medal achieved some 50 years ago. But you do not achieve high office in the government without grit and determination, and we are sure she will seek to prove the bookies wrong.
Strictly Come Dancing will launch on BBC One on Saturday 24 October, with the Final taking place on 19 December.