John Whaite to make history in Strictly Come Dancing’s first all-male pairing

The Great British Bake Off Champion follows in the footsteps of Nicola Adams and Katya Jones, who were the competition’s first same-sex dance partners.

A smiling man against a sparkly background

Strictly Come Dancing and John Whaite have this morning confirmed that the upcoming season of the show will feature the competition’s first-ever all-male pairing. The announcement was made through Matt Lucas on Thursday, August 5, who was filling in on BBC Radio 2’s Zoe Ball Breakfast Show.

Whaite, who was the Season 3 winner of the Great British Bake Off, now works as a chef and television presenter, and was clearly ecstatic at the news.

“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,” he stated.

“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!”

The groundbreaking moment comes a year after the show featured its first-ever same-sex dance partnership in Nicola Adams and Katya Jones. Unfortunately, the pair’s journey was cut short after Jones tested positive for Covid-19, and they were forced to pull out of the competition. 

Speaking to Matt Lucas on what this opportunity meant, John Whaite said, “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 added, “I hope that kids watch this and see it and it becomes normal for them. They don’t have to grow up in shame, they don’t have to grow up worrying about who they are.

“I hope this kind of sets a bar for kids to think, I am who I am, and I’m proud of that.”

Whaite will be one of 15 stars taking part in the 19th series of the competition, which is expected to kick off in autumn. The other celebrity contestants who have already been confirmed by the show are McFly’s Tom Fletcher, TV personality AJ Odudu, and actor Robert Webb.

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