Strictly Come Dancing 2020: the contestants – ranked

A former cabinet minister, a comedian, a Good Morning Britain presenter … this year’s lineup at least has all the usual suspects. But who will go all the way and who has no cha-cha-chance?

For a while, it looked as if Strictly Come Dancing might not happen this year. After all, the whole operation hinges on physical proximity so sustained that it ends up making almost all the contestants cheat on their spouses. How is that supposed to work in the age of Covid?

Nevertheless, the BBC has managed to pull it off, with the 2020 Strictly Come Dancing lineup having just been revealed in full. The series is a little shorter than usual, with fewer contestants than we have come to expect, but that doesn’t change the fundamentals. Some contestants will be good, and some will be absolutely terrible. Here – as always – is this year’s lineup, ranked from worst to best in terms of probable success.

Jason Bell

Jason Bell.
Jason Bell. Photograph: BBC

Former American football player Jason Bell is a man most famous in the UK for having fathered a daughter with Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud. He will almost definitely be the first contestant to be eliminated from Strictly because he is in possession of an obscurity so clangingly dense that it defies science.

Ranvir Singh

Ranvir Singh.
Ranvir Singh. Photograph: BBC

Ranvir Singh is a Good Morning Britain presenter. This means two things. First, Strictly is guaranteed to receive wall-to-wall breakfast coverage, thanks to Singh’s co-hosts Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway endlessly reminding everyone how they were, respectively, quite good and awful at dancing when they were on the show. Second, it means we have to nudge the Doomsday Clock slightly closer to the date when Piers Morgan inevitably does Strictly. You’re right to be scared.

Clara Amfo

Clara Amfo.
Clara Amfo. Photograph: BBC

On paper, Clara Amfo has a lot going for her. She is a Radio 1 DJ, so she will appeal to the youth in ways that older contestants will not. She is unafraid to discuss bigger issues, which more than ever lends this year’s Strictly Come Dancing a sheen of much-needed social relevance. Everything about her suggests that she’ll do well, which in the upside-down world of Strictly means she might not do well?

Caroline Quentin

Caroline Quentin.
Caroline Quentin. Photograph: BBC

Caroline Quentin is probably the closest thing to a national treasure in this year’s lineup. We probably have Covid-19 to thank for her inclusion, since she has lots more time on her hands now that lockdown has prevented her from making any soupily indistinguishable travelogue programmes.

Jamie Laing

Jamie Laing.
Jamie Laing. Photograph: BBC

Jamie Laing was initially due to appear in last year’s series, until injury ruled him out. So allow me to just lazily paste what I wrote about him then: “There was a time when Strictly placed a ban on reality stars. But not any more, because here comes Jamie Laing: a loose assemblage of teeth and flesh who only exists because some idiot once thought that Made in Chelsea would be a good idea.” Hey, it still fits!


Strictly Come Dancing. HRVY
Strictly Come Dancing. HRVY Photograph: BBC

Hrvy s n nglsh sngr nd tlvsn prsntr. Hrvy hts vwls s mch t mks hm sck.

Jacqui Smith

Jacqui Smith.
Jacqui Smith. Photograph: BBC

The former home secretary must have seen Strictly, so she’ll know that the only way a former politician can survive on the show is by transforming into an embarrassing parody of herself. It worked for Ann Widdecombe. It worked for Ed Balls. If Smith can find it in herself to obliterate every last shred of the dignity she spent decades amassing by gurning in a glittery suit to an appalling novelty song, she may just about make it to the halfway point.

Bill Bailey

Bill Bailey.
Bill Bailey. Photograph: BBC

Bailey is the enigma here. He doesn’t look like he would be particularly good at dancing, primarily because he looks like he might smell like the damp bit at the back of a secondhand record store. On the other hand, he’s charming and deeply musical. He’ll either be great or awful, which is why I have placed him somewhere in the middle.

JJ Chalmers

JJ Chalmers.
JJ Chalmers. Photograph: BBC

JJ Chalmers is this year’s most inspirational contestant, having been injured by a bomb blast during his time as a marine in Afghanistan. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s more likely to win Strictly, but it does mean I’m slightly more hesitant to be offhandedly mean about him on the internet.

Max George

Max George.
Max George. Photograph: BBC

Max George is a former member of the Wanted, who were a boyband some time ago. The last time a former member of the Wanted appeared on Strictly, he ended up winning it. Does that mean that George will also win Strictly? No, of course not. You don’t suddenly amass magic Strictly-winning skills just because you once performed a song called Let’s Get Ugly.

Maisie Smith

Maisie Smith.
Maisie Smith. Photograph: BBC

Maisie Smith is an EastEnders actor and tabloid favourite, primarily because she doesn’t wear many clothes and was recently photographed smoking a joint. But if she’s so notorious, why am I putting her so high on the list? Simple. It’s because Maisie Smith is a woman of endless poise and grace, as evidenced by the time she performed a karaoke version of Firestarter by the Prodigy on EastEnders as a child. Make her dance to Firestarter on Strictly and she’ll romp home.

Nicola Adams

Nicola Adams.
Nicola Adams. Photograph: BBC

Not only is Nicola Adams everyone’s favourite gold medal winner from the 2012 Olympics, but she’s also making history. When she appears on Strictly, she will be the first contestant ever to dance with a professional of the same sex. Moments after this was announced, the former Strictly professional James Jordan tweeted: “We have become a scared little embarrassing country that panders to political correctness #fuckoffPCbrigade.” And, since Jordan is notoriously completely wrong about every single thing that ever happens anywhere in the world, I’m calling Adams as the winner.


Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

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