New Strictly Come Dancing ‘roll’ for Wigan's star baker John Whaite
A Wigan chef will be swapping the kitchen for the ballroom as he joins the 19th series of Strictly Come Dancing.
Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite will compete as one half of the first all-male partnership on the show as he bids for victory in another major TV reality event.
He follows in the footsteps of boxer Nicola Adams who last year was one half of the first female same-sex dance pairing, alongside professional Katya Jones.
He won the third series of the Great British Bake Off in 2012 and currently presents a weekly cooking segment on Channel 4 show Steph’s Packed Lunch.
John, who runs a cookery school in his home village of Wrightington, said: “I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family.
“I’ve been wearing sequins and jazzy attire since I was three years old and can’t wait to hurl myself, full throttle, around the most glamorous dance floor on earth.
“What’s more exciting for me, is that I’m going to be one half of the first all-male partnership, which is a great step forward in representation and inclusion.
“Whoever it is I’m paired with, I hope they are up for a challenge as I want our routines to include lots of spectacular lifts!”
His involvement in the series, which is due to air in the autumn, was announced by guest presenter Matt Lucas during Zoe Ball’s Breakfast show on BBC Radio 2.
The cookery author said he was “very, very nervous” about taking part, but told programme: “It’s an honour. When they asked me if I’d be interested, I just bit their hand off because I thought, you know, to do that and represent the LGBTQ+ community is one thing, but also just to see two men or two women dancing together is not necessarily about sexuality, it’s just about intimacy and respect. And I think that’s going to be such a great thing in our culture, where men are sort of conditioned not to open up and not to be emotional, I think it might help to combat that.
“So I’m excited on so many levels to be doing the first all-male partnership. I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet.”
John said he hopes “kids watch this and see it and it becomes normal for them, they don’t have to grow up in shame.”
He will join the already announced line-up of McFly star Tom Fletcher, Peep Show’s Robert Webb and TV presenter AJ Odudu.
Last year John made another surprise career turn when he joined Wigan Little Theatre for a performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
This year’s Strictly Come Dancing series will see professional dancer Anton Du Beke join the judging panel in the place of Bruno Tonioli, and will feature four new professional dancers to put the celebrities through their paces.
The remaining celebrity contestants joining the new series will be announced in due course.
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