Strictly Come Dancing 2016: Everything you need to know about the contestants so far


Laura Whitmore

Presenter Laura Whitmore at the Baftas

Irish TV presenter Laura Whitmore, best known for presenting ITV2 spin-off I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here Now! from 2011 to 2015, will bring her bubbly personality to Strictly - where she is determined to throw herself in to training and "embrace the sequins".

The 31-year-old, who is the current favourite to win, first hit public attention when she landed a role as an MTV presenter. She is most used to interviewing other people - from Sir Michael Caine to Justin Timberlake to Justin Bieber - and has an A-List studded Instagram, but she will have to get used to being the star of the show herself when she heads to the dance floor.

This year she hosted online coverage for the Baftas, so she may also struggle not to grab the mike from Claudia Winkleman or Tess Daly.

After revealing she was competing, Laura told Nick Grimshaw: "When I was a kid, I Irish-danced, but not well ... It was just the legs that moved. Apparently now I have to use my hands as well."

On what she is looking for in a professional partner when she gets paired up later in the month, Laura, who has previously dated singer Danny O'Reilly and rocker Rory Williams, said: "I just want someone who can lift me."

Ed Balls

Ed Balls to appear on Strictly Come Dancing

Ed Balls is an enthusiastic dancer - judging by clips of him having a boogie - but his skills may not stand up to Craig Revel-Horwood's scrutiny, if the bookies' odds are anything to go by.

The 49-year-old former shadow chancellor and some-time "dad dancer" is making the most of his free time after losing his parliamentary seat in a major upset in 2015, having a go at the Sports Relief Bake Off and now putting on his dancing shoes.

Ed said being on the dance show was part of his "post-politics bucket list" and that he could "do with losing half a stone".

Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper

But he told Chris Evans on his Radio 2 breakfast show that he was "scared to death".

However, he added, "I've taken the view, if you're going to have a midlife crisis you should make sure you plan it well and enjoy it."

The long-time politician is married to Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who admitted on Twitter that she was "so, so envious" of her husband's invite to Strictly. They have three children.

Will Young

Will Young

Will Young was catapulted to fame after winning the first-ever UK Pop Idol in 2002, and with a background in singing and musical theatre he should be well-placed to take on Strictly Come Dancing.

With hits including Evergreen and Leave Right Now, the 37-year-old has also appeared in the BBC's Mrs Henderson Presents, in the Marple drama The Mirror Crack'd From Side To Side, and in a production of Cabaret, for which he received an Olivier award nomination.

Will Young won Pop Idol in 2002

The star, who came out as gay in 2002, has previously opened up about his addictions to booze, sex, porn and shopping.

The Brit Award winning singer said he had always imagined himself on the show, but said he worried because "there will be no microphone or band, just me, my partner and the dance floor."