First three contestants for Strictly 2019 revealed
David James, Chris Ramsey and Emma Barton have been unveiled as the first three contestants for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.
The trio appeared on The One Show on Wednesday night to announce they had signed up for the BBC programme.
All three were stood behind a screen before hosts Matt Baker and Stacey Dooley – the 2018 Strictly winner – revealed their identities.
Footballer James said he had been asked to do Strictly a few times but was talked into it by former contestant Mark Foster.
He said Foster told him "it was an amazing show and experience".
James said in an official statement: "I'm really excited to be on Strictly this year. Not just competing against this year's stars, but being compared to previous sport stars from previous Strictly seasons. I have some big shoes to fill, #LetsGetLive."
Comedian Ramsey said he was "really buzzing" about the opportunity.
He joked that he had struggled to keep it a secret and had told a few friends he was taking part.
Ramsey said he was "both excited and absolutely terrified".
He said: "You will not find me on the dance floor at parties, you will find me at the buffet table. All night. At my wedding I danced with my wife; that one song took about six months practice, and I definitely stood on her feet a couple of times. So I'm looking forward to the possibility of making a fool of myself in front of millions of people ... there better be a buffet after the live shows."
Barton, who plays Honey Mitchell in EastEnders, said she was a Strictly super fan and that she was "over the moon" when she received the call to appear on the show.
She said she was "whipping off Honey's 'Minute Mart' tabard and diving right in to all the glitter and sparkle". "From Albert Square to the Strictly dance floor – I just can't wait!" she said.
This year's series will see the return of judges Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli while Motsi Mabuse, sister of Strictly professional Oti, will replace Dame Darcey Bussell on the panel.
Motsi was previously a dancer and then judge on the German Strictly equivalent Let's Dance.
The series, hosted by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, also has a new face in the form of Latin dancer Nancy Xu who joins the professionals line-up.
Xu was a finalist on So You Think You Can Dance? in her home country of China and performed in hit West End and Broadway show Burn The Floor.
She takes over from Strictly professional Pasha Kovalev, who announced his departure from the show earlier this year, telling fans it was "time for me to find a new challenge".
Bookies have sent odds on speculative contestants including names like Sam Allardyce, Jodie Comer, Una Healy, Michelle Visage and Chris Evans.
Radio DJ Evans revealed last year that he had spoken to Strictly show bosses but more recent reports have suggested he may not be among this year's line-up.