Ed Balls reveals who could be the ‘dark horse’ of this year’s Strictly

Former Labour MP Ed Balls has labelled BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker one of the “dark horses” for the upcoming series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Balls, who left politics in 2015, was part of the celebrity line-up for the BBC One series in 2016 and performed a show-stopping routine to Gangnam Style with partner Katya Jones.

Other contestants singled out by Balls from this year’s celebrity line-up include TV presenter and influencer Matilda “Tilly” Ramsay and former rugby player Ugo Monye.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021
Dan Walker is among the Strictly line-up this year (BBC/PA)

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Balls said: “I think of myself as a retired former professional dancer.

“And of course, dancing the tour. I played the O2 and the arenas of Britain, as well as on the Saturday night show, but it was really fun.”

He said of this year’s line-up: “I think this is kind of (an) interesting year. There’s lots and lots of people who could be really good.

“I think Dan Walker’s a dark horse. Ugo Monye, we know rugby players have been really good in the past. I reckon Tilly Ramsay could be a star.”

Nineteen-year-old Ramsay, the daughter of chef Gordon Ramsay, has amassed a following of more than 9.5 million on TikTok, where she regularly posts videos with her father.

Monye, who has played for England and Harlequins, said previously of signing up for the dancing series: “My two beautiful daughters never had a chance to see me on the rugby pitch, so to know they can watch me waltzing and twirling every week is really special to me.

“I love an outfit at the best of times, so bring on the sequins.”

Balls, who is married to Labour MP Yvette Cooper, also spoke about his latest venture, a memoir called Appetite which is interspersed with recipes around which he bases anecdotes in the book.

In February this year he was crowned the winner of BBC’s Celebrity Best Home Cook and dedicated his win to his mother Carolyn, who has dementia.

The upcoming series of Strictly will see professional dancer Anton Du Beke sit on the judging panel in place of Bruno Tonioli, who is a judge on US series Dancing With The Stars and unable to take part due to travel uncertainty around the pandemic.