'Strictly' vaccine rows and couples revealed: 5 things we've learned about 'Strictly' this week, 18 - 24 September

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·5 min read
Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: 18/09/2021 - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Launch Show (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  The Strictly Come Dancing Professional Dancers - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
The 'Strictly' pros have hit the headlines this week. (BBC/Guy Levy)

After the buzz of the Strictly launch show, things turned a little sour this week when it emerged that some of the pros were refusing to get a COVID vaccine.

Everyone from Boris Johnson to James Jordan has waded in on the resulting row, while fans keep their fingers crossed that there won't be a competition-ending outbreak.

Read more: All you need to know about Strictly Come Dancing 2021

Meanwhile, we're looking forward to seeing the new couples take to the floor for the first time this weekend, although predictably, Dan Walker hasn't managed to find a supporter in old breakfast TV rival Piers Morgan.

Here's the week in Strictly news.

Unvaccinated dancers row overshadows week one

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: 18/09/2021 - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Launch Show (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  The Strictly Come Dancing 2021 Celebrities and Professional Dancers - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy
Some celebs are coupled with unvaccinated dancers. (BBC/Guy Levy)

With Nicola Adams and Katya Jones forced to drop out of last year's Strictly when they tested positive for COVID, everyone is keen for the couples to stay healthy this series.

So it came as a surprise to many to hear that three of the pro dancers - who haven't been named - have refused their vaccinations.

Read more: Where is Bruno Tonioli and who is judging Strictly?

The show's stars have mostly closed ranks, saying it comes down to personal choice, but it sparked a debate as to whether refusing the jab was selfish to their celebrity partners and families who would be in close proximity over the coming weeks.

Former Strictly pro James Jordan was typically outspoken as he told Good Morning Britain: "I definitely believe they don’t deserve their right on the show and the celebrities have every right to refuse to dance with them.

"I just think it's a really, really selfish thing to do."

James Jordan was clear on his views about unvaccinated dancers. (Getty)
James Jordan was clear on his views about unvaccinated dancers. (Getty)

Even PM Boris Johnson had something to say about it, commenting: “I don’t want to bully people or to lecture them but, well I don’t mind lecturing them, I’ll lecture them."

Dancer-turned-judge Anton Du Beke shared some of the behind-the-scenes worries when he told GMB: “The worry of course, is that if you get something that spreads through the group, well that’s the end of the show."

Couples revealed - including all-male pairing

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 21:30:01 on 18/09/2021 - Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: n/a - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: *NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL 21:30hrs, SATURDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER, 2021* John Whaite, Johannes Radebe - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
John Whaite and Johannes Radebe are the show's first all-male couple. (BBC/Ray Burmiston)

On the brighter side of dancefloor news, the weekend brought the excitement of the launch show where 2021's couples were revealed for the first time.

Top story from the pairings was that former Bake Off winner John Whaite got his promised male partner in Johannes Radebe, the show's first all-male couple.

We also saw Nancy Xu join the main line-up for the first time, partnering CBBC presenter Rhys Stephenson.

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: n/a - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Nancy Xu, Rhys Stephenson - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Nancy Xu and Rhys Stephenson look like a strong pairing. (BBC/Ray Burmiston)

Other notable pairings included reigning champion Oti Mabuse, who'll dance with ex-rugby union player Ugo Monye, while Karen Hauer was matched with Greg Wise.

This weekend we'll see the full line-up take their first steps into the ballroom after some intense rehearsals.

The celebs we're tipping for ballroom glory

Programme Name: Strictly Come Dancing 2021 - TX: n/a - Episode: Strictly Come Dancing - Generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Neil Jones, Nina Wadia - (C) BBc - Photographer: Ray Burmiston
Nina Wadia surprised with her confident moves. (BBC/Ray Burmiston)

It's tough to get a read on who's going to be heading for the final from the early days of the contest, but the launch show gave us a glimpse of who looks comfortable on the dancefloor.

Viewers were wowed by Rhys Stephenson's moves, who admitted to loving dancing at weddings, but will he be as good in the choreographed routines as when he's freestyling?

Watch: Who is Strictly's Rhys Stephenson?

Former EastEnders star Nina Wadia was a surprise to many viewers as she showed good rhythm and plenty of confidence in the group dance.

We can't wait for this weekend's first live show to find out who has been hiding some secret talents, and who will crumble under the pressure of performing.

Craig Revel Horwood wants both Anton and Bruno for dream judging panel

Craig Revel Horwood spoke to Kate Thornton about the judging line-up.
Craig Revel Horwood spoke to Kate Thornton about the judging line-up.

Anton Du Beke is set to make his debut as a judge this series, finally joining the panel for a full series rather than just a guest appearance.

Bruno Tonioli's seat at the table became free when he confirmed he wouldn't be able to do Strictly this series because COVID travel restrictions would stop him flying between US filming commitments at Dancing With The Stars.

However, Craig Revel Horwood has said he doesn't necessarily think that Du Beke joining the panel spells an end to Tonioli's time on the show.

Anton Du Beke has finally got a seat at the judging table. (BBC)
Anton Du Beke has finally got a seat at the judging table. (BBC)

Revel Horwood told Kate Thornton's podcast White Wine Question Time that it was "only COVID keeping him away" from returning, and hinted at a judges dream team that would feature both Du Beke and Tonioli.

He said: "What I'm saying is that there's always room for another judge, isn't there?"

Piers Morgan is already winding up old rival Dan Walker

Piers Morgan has been stoking his old rivalry with Dan Walker. (Getty)
Piers Morgan has been stoking his old rivalry with Dan Walker. (Getty)

There's famously no love lost between Piers Morgan and Dan Walker after their long-running rivalry when Morgan was still at Good Morning Britain and Walker hosted BBC Breakfast.

So it'll come as a surprise to no-one that it doesn't look as though Morgan will be calling in to vote for Walker and his dance partner Nadiya Bychkova.

Morgan took a drop in launch show ratings as his cue to stick the boot into Walker, following the same theme as their old row about breakfast TV ratings.

The ex-GMB anchor tweeted a link to the news that Strictly's launch show ratings had hit an 11-year low, commenting: "Congrats @mrdanwalker".

Watch: Who's judging this year's Strictly?

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