Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams has said it feels “amazing to be a part of the movement for change” after being announced as part of Strictly Come Dancing’s first ever same-sex couple.
The boxer, nicknamed The Lioness, was confirmed for the 2020 line-up following other stars including singer Max George, actress Caroline Quentin and former NFl player Jason Bell.
Last year, Strictly was praised for featuring a same-sex dance by two professional dancers in one episode, but the show has never had a same-sex partnership competing before.
Adams, who won gold at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, is dating model Ella Baig and appears alongside her on the sofa on Celebrity Gogglebox.
The LGBT role model said she was “really excited” to be joining the “incredible” Strictly line-up for the 18th series, and said she was a “huge fan” of the show.
“People might know me from work in the ring, but I’ll be every bit as passionate and dedicated on the dance floor too,” she said.
“I also wanted to thank the BBC for supporting me and making me the first ever all female-pairing; and it’s amazing to be a part of the movement for change, diversity and breaking boundaries in the entertainment industry.”
The 37-year-old said she told producers she wanted to do the show with a female dance partner.
“I know it’s going to be tough, I know the training is going to be hard and I can’t dance at all so this is going to be a totally new challenge for me,” she said.
Adams was confirmed for the show on BBC Breakfast on Wednesday, with some other contestants announced on The One Show on Tuesday evening.
Quentin, 60, star of shows including Men Behaving Badly and Johnathan Creek, said she was “thrilled and terrified in equal measure to be taking part”.
George, best known for his time in boy band The Wanted, will follow in the footsteps of his former bandmate Jay McGuiness, who won the show in 2015 with professional partner Aliona Vilani.
“Buzzing to be on Strictly this year,” the 31-year-old said, and joked: “Not really one for the dancefloor, but I take a lot of comfort in the fact that Jay McGuiness set The Wanted’s bar so low.”
Bell, who used to play for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, is best known to UK audiences as the host of The NFL Show on the BBC, alongside Osi Umenyiora, with whom he also hosts The Jason & Osi Podcast.
The 42-year-old also has a daughter with Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle, his former partner.
“My six-year-old daughter never got the chance to see me run out on the field at an NFL game but she is very excited about me taking to the dance floor,” he said. “I hope I can do her proud.”
Good Morning Britain presenter Ranvir Singh and BBC radio presenter Clara Amfo are also among the celebrities confirmed for the show, with more stars still to be announced.
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This series of Strictly will be shorter than usual due to precautions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
The show would usually return at the end of September, with the final just before Christmas, but its 2020 launch is expected to be slightly delayed.
And judging favourite Bruno Tonioli will be missing from the panel for Saturday night as he is in Los Angeles, on the panel for the US version of the show, Dancing With The Stars, and will not be able to travel back and forth.
However, he will be involved remotely in the Sunday night results show each week and will return to the show full-time towards the end of the series.