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Strictly Come Dancing reveals first two contestants for Christmas special

The rest of the line up will be announced in the coming weeks.

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(Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

(Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

(Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

First Dates host Fred Sirieix and Repair Shop presenter Jay Blades have been announced as the first two celebrities taking part in the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special.

The news was announced on BBC Two spin-off It Takes Two on Monday night.

French maitre’d Sirieix, 49, will dance with Australian professional Dianne Buswell during this year’s festive special.

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Fred Sirieix (Ian West/PA)

Fred Sirieix (Ian West/PA)

Fred Sirieix (Ian West/PA)

Appearing in the studio, he said: “I got the phone call and I was as excited as I was scared. Because I was so scared I thought I have got to do it. There is no way I can turn this down. I have got to do it.”

After a career working front of house at Michelin-starred restaurants, Sirieix launched a TV career as the personable host of First Dates on Channel 4.

He has since appeared in a number of series relating to the food industry, including specials alongside TV chefs Gordon Ramsay and Gino D’Acampo.

Furniture restorer and TV host Blades, 51, will be dancing with choreographer and dancer Luba Mushtuk, from Russia.

Speaking from Barbados via video link, he told BBC Two spin-off It Takes Two: “It is probably one of the things I love doing most, which is challenging myself and doing something I have never done before.

“I could do a dad dance but I can’t do full dancing. So let’s dive in there and have a go.”

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Originally from Hackney in east London, Blades was made an MBE earlier this year for his services to craft.

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Jay Blades (Matt Crossick/PA)

Jay Blades (Matt Crossick/PA)

Jay Blades (Matt Crossick/PA)

He worked in a number of jobs after leaving school, including in a frozen sausage factory, a bottle factory and a Christmas card factory, before retraining aged 29 and becoming involved in charity work.

The rest of the line-up will be revealed in due course.

Last year, due to Covid-19, the Christmas special was replaced with a countdown of the top 25 most memorable dances in Strictly history, with 2015 champion Jay McGuiness and Aliona Vilani’s Jive to You Never Can Tell/Misirlou taking the number one spot.


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