Queen of the Ballroom Erin Boag picks her Strictly winners and losers

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Actor Greg Wise, Olympic gold-winning swimmer Adam Peaty, comedian Robert Webb and Gordon Ramsay’s daughter Tilly are among the star-studded names hot to trot for the show’s 19th series. And as comedian Bill Bailey, 56, proved last year when he became the oldest celebrity to be crowned Strictly champion with partner Oti Mabuse, youth and muscles are no guarantee of success.

So who will shimmy their way into our hearts this year?

Step forward Strictly’s Queen of Ballroom, Erin Boag, Anton Du Beke’s dance partner of 20 years and a veteran of ten series who reached the finals twice.

“I love the launch as it gives you an insight into everybody’s personalities,” Erin says, speaking exclusively to the Daily Express.

“You find out who can walk in a straight line — and who can’t — and it gets everyone excited.”

The glamorous dancer, who is mum to son Ewan, seven, knows how nervous the stars will be as they make their descent down those steps in front of 10 million viewers.

“It is like sitting in the Mastermind chair,” she laughs. “It’s that moment when they will think, ‘Why did I say yes to this?'”.

So what are her Strictly 2021 predictions? “Well, the men look a lot stronger than the females this year, more physically able and I mean that in the nicest possible way – but that doesn’t mean their dancing is going to be any good,” she laughs. The New

Zealander, who also doesn’t rule out a return to the show in a “different role”, makes the following predictions… and reveals whether Anton has got what it takes as a judge.

TOP TIP: Olympian ADAM PEATY, 26

Adam Peaty became the first British swimmer to defend his Olympic title in Tokyo this summer after winning gold in the 10 BEr 100m breaststroke.

Bookies’ odds*: 9/1 to win

Erin says: “He certainly looked good in lycra on my screen – I went ‘Hello!’. He will be physically able but it is the mental strength that sets him apart. If he can get the technique right, he will be really good.”

DARK HORSE: Comedian ROBERT WEBB, 48

Robert Webb starred in Channel 4’s Peep Show and That Mitchell And Webb Look with his longtime comedy partner David Mitchell.

Bookies’ odds: 8/1 to win

Erin says: “He will be quite a character. He proved that years ago when he did Flashdance [for Comic Relief]. At the time I thought, ‘This man has no shame’ – and that’s exactly what you need on Strictly. You have to give it 100 percent. The British love a tryer. He won’t have any problem coming out and giving it all he’s got.”

TWO LEFT FEET: Journalist DAN WALKER, 44

Sports-mad BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker presented Football Focus from 2009 to 2021 and is a giant at 6ft 6in.

Bookies’ odds: 8/1 to be out first

Erin says: “Dan is almost two metres tall and that can make you look lanky on the dance floor. He’s going to struggle with the jive and samba. His best partner would be Nadiya Bychkova. She’s pretty, professional and also tall so is used to dancing with tall men. They would look elegant together.”

FUNNY BUT FAB: Comedian JUDI LOVE, 41

Joker and Loose Women panellist Judi Love hopes people will be laughing for all the right reasons when she makes her moves.

Bookies’ odds: 4/1 to go out first

Erin says: “We need huge personalities on the show, especially at the beginning, and Judi will definitely bring that. She will need to prove herself on the dance floor but she will keep us laughing, especially when we watch her in the training footage.”

VOTES IN THE BAG: TV presenter TILLY RAMSAY, 19

Chef Gordon Ramsay’s daughter Tilly has nine and a half million followers on the social media site TikTok, beloved by youngsters, and hosted four seasons of her CBBC cookery show, Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch.

Bookies’ odds: 12/1 to win

Erin says: “She has millions of social media followers. These days, the newest celebrity is the reality star and the one with the most Instagram and TikTok followers. There’ll be a lot of people out there behind her.”

UNDERDOG: Actor GREG WISE, 55

Handsome Greg, who is married to Emma Thompson and played Lord Mountbatten in Netflix’s The Crown, will add the swoon factor. He’s signed up in memory of his sister and “disco diva” Clare Wise who died of cancer in 2016, aged 51.

Bookies’ odds: 6/1 to be out first

Erin says: “He’ll come out looking debonair and if Emma did tell him he had to do it then maybe she knows something we don’t? Nobody wants their other half to go out and make a fool of themselves, do they?! Maybe he’s a good mover at home.”

SOAP ROYALTY: Actress ROSE AYLING-ELLIS, 26

The men look a lot stronger than the females this year, more physically able and I mean that in the nicest possible way

Erin Boag

Known to millions as Danny Dyer’s on-screen daughter Frankie in EastEnders, Rose is Strictly’s first deaf contestant. She wears a hearing aid and can identify the beat, but not lyrics so will “feel the vibrations” and “read her partner’s body language”.

Bookies’ odds: 11/2 to win

Erin says: “It won’t matter that Rose is deaf – ballroom dancing is all about harmony. She will find her own rhythm and learn to follow her partner so it will be about the touch, hold and sight for her. But her partner will have to be extremely smart and not let her go too far.”

BIGGEST EYE-OPENER: CBBC presenter RHYS STEPHENSON, 27

Actor and children’s television presenter Rhys has presented Blue Peter and Newsround and is an ambassador for Place2Be, providing mental health services in schools.

Bookies’ odds: 7/1 to win

Erin says: “He’s young and fit and is definitely going to surprise a few people.”

FANS’ FAVOURITE: Sports pundit UGO MONYE, 38

Former Harlequins rugby star Uno, rumoured to be partnering Oti Mabuse, is one of the new team captains on BBC1 panel game A Question of Sport.

Bookies’ odds: 7/1 to go first

Erin says: “Rugby players are usually mentally fit, nimble and fast with their feet but the bigger they are, the more they struggle. What Ugo has is this great personality and that will come through. The contestants tend to put that into their dancing as the weeks go by.”

McFLY BOY: Singer TOM FLETCHER, 36

Fans are convinced that McFly’s Tom is partnered with dancer Amy Dowden after he posted a picture of her feet on Instagram. The father of three is married to I’m A Celebrity Queen of the Jungle Giovanna Fletcher.

Bookies’ odds: 9/2 to win

Erin says: “The teenagers will love Tom Fletcher as he’s young and gorgeous like all the McFly boys.”

And drummer Harry Judd won in 2011.

NO CHANCE: Dragons’ Den panellist SARA DAVIES, 37

Craft entrepreneur Sara Davies MBE became the youngest ever Dragon in 2019.

Bookies’ odds: 6/4 to go out first

Erin says: “She’s a businesswoman. I can’t see her being able to dance.”

BACKSTAGE ROMANCE? KATIE McGLYNN, 28

Sultry Coronation Street star Katie is planning on embracing the fun after winning praise for her heart-wrenching portrayal of Sinead Tinker who died of cervical cancer.

Bookies’ odds: 12/1 to win

Erin says: “If Katie is put with Giovanni Pernice, they would make a very attractive couple. There is a no kissing rule this year but that’s never stopped anyone before. Giovanni is even more gorgeous in real life than on TV. He has beautiful blue eyes and an Italian accent. She won’t be able to resist him.”

TALKING POINT: Baker JOHN WHAITE, 32

The 2012 Great British Bake Off winner will form the show’s first male same-sex pairing, and “really wants” to dance with Johannes Radebe.

Bookies’ odds: 12/1 to win

Erin says: “He’ll probably wear a tail suit and so will his partner and they’ll be classy. There’ll be a leader and follower and John could be either. They could change halfway through.”

GLAMOUR FACTOR: TV presenter AJ ODUDU, 33

AJ has co-presented The Voice and Big Brother’s Bit On The Side. She’s already joked she’s in “agony” from dancing in stiletto heels.

Bookies’ odds: 8/1 to win

Erin says: “She’s extremely attractive and will look amazing in a dress. She has elegance in abundance but we have to see whether she can hold that glamour, and her nerves, on the dance floor.”

BRAVE FACE: Actress and comedian NINA WADIA, 52

Goodness Gracious Me comedian Nina played Zainab Masood on EastEnders and Mrs Hussein in Still Open All Hours.

Bookies’ odds: 5/2 to be out first

Erin says: “Comedians know how to make fun of themselves and how to make quick, witty comebacks to the judges. Nina will know how to do this and put on a character on a stage.”

AND IT’S A 10 FOR ANTON

Erin thinks we might see the steel behind the smile of Anton Du Beke this year, although she says he’ll never be a Craig Revel Horwood. “He will be fantastic, and will bring knowledge and experience because he knows both sides,” says Erin. “He understands what the celebrities will be feeling, where they can improve and how their partners can pick them up if they’ve had a bad week. He’ll be fair, but he’ll want people to work hard, not muck around, and produce a good show.”

● All betting odds from Ladbrokes

● Tickets are on sale now for Anton and Erin’s 2022 Showtime tour

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