Strictly Come Dancing: Ex England rugby ace Ugo Monye ‘first celeb for 2021 series’

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Strictly Come Dancing's contestant rumour mill has already begun with former England rugby player Ugo Monye said to be the first celebrity signed up to the 2021 series.

Ugo, 38, is said to be headed for the ballroom after being convinced to take part by pal Jamie Laing, who competed in the 2020 series.

According to The Sun, a source said: "Ugo can’t wait to get out on the dancefloor and show off his moves. He’s not known for his dancing, but he isn’t afraid of a challenge.

"Ugo became friendly with Jamie when they worked on a travel show together in 2019 and after seeing how much he loved the experience, Ugo jumped at the chance."

The ex rugby ace also has another new high-profile role at the BBC as one of the team captains on the revamped, A Question of Sport.

Jamie has had plenty of experience of the Strictly journey as he was originally supposed to take part in the 2019 series with Oti Mabuse, but had to drop out after getting injured during the launch show.

He then returned to compete in 2020 with Karen Hauer as his partner.

Meanwhile, Oti won the 2019 series with Jamie's replacement, former Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher, and then won again in 2020 with comedian Bill Bailey.

Whether or not Ugo has signed up to Strictly, the series is said to have one of the most interesting line-ups of recent years.

Back in May, head judge Shirley Ballas told This Morning of the celebs taking part: "It's outstanding. You will be mesmerised, surprised, and really, really intrigued."

She added: "Just when you think it couldn’t get any better with intrigue and excitement, it does."

Presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield asked if there was any truth to the rumour that Carrie Johnson was on the call list, but Shirley was pretty definite that it was a no.

Asked if she was sure, she said: "99.999 per cent. It is a family show, it's not a political agenda."

There is also a shake-up on the judging desk this year as for the second series in a row as Bruno Tonioli is unable to attend the live shows because of coronavirus travel restrictions.

He will be replaced by Anton Du Beke, the longest-serving professional dancer on the show who has taken part in every series so far.

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