STRICTLY 2019: ALEX SCOTT MBE JOINS LINE UP 0 107

Alex Scott MBE is a sports pundit, presenter and former professional footballer.

The 17th series of the NTA and Bafta award-winning entertainment show produced by BBC Studios will return in the autumn on BBC One putting the sparkle back into Saturday and Sunday nights.

Alex says: “I am absolutely buzzing to be signed up to Strictly. It’s the show I’ve always wanted to do and I can’t believe I’m finally going to be part of it. I’m super excited, but also terrified at the same time… The football pitch is a bit less glam than the ballroom, but I’m ready to try the sequins and dresses! Bring it on!”

The former Arsenal captain is a well-regarded pundit for BBC and Sky Sports and a regular on BBC’s Match Of The Day.

Alex signed with Arsenal aged eight and stayed with the team for most of her career. Alex helped the club achieve a domestic double of the FA Women’s Cup and the FA Women’s Premier League. She was also a key figure in the historic quadruple season for Arsenal in which they won all their trophy competitions. Alex then led the team as captain for the 2014/15 season. While playing for England, Alex travelled the world playing football, also representing Great Britain in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. When she retired in 2017, Alex was the second most capped England player with 140 appearances.

Since her retirement in 2018, Alex has begun a successful broadcasting career. Alex is a key member of BBC Sport’s football broadcasting team and has become a regular face for Sky Sports football coverage. Alex made history last August as the first female Sky pundit on a Sky Sports’ Super Sunday and made waves as a fresh addition to the BBC World Cup commentary line up.

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STRICTLY 2019: CHRISTMAS STARS REVEALED 0 77

Six of the most-loved Strictly contestants from previous series are returning to the dance floor for an all-star Christmas extravaganza special, coming to BBC One on Christmas Day.

This year the ladies set to sprinkle some Christmas magic on the dancefloor are Chizzy Akudolu, Debbie McGee and Gemma Atkinson.

Chizzy says: “I am so excited to be coming back to Strictly this year, and being able to get back on the dancefloor once again! I’m still the biggest fan of Strictly so it’s wonderful to be back with old friends, in front of and behind the camera, and hopefully some new ones for Christmas. Bring on the sparkle, and maybe an odd 10 – it is Christmas after all…!”

Debbie says: “I thought all my dreams came true two years ago when I was asked to do the series, but to be one of the rare people to be invited back to do the Christmas Special is the icing on the cake. I can’t wait to be back dancing with my Strictly family”.

Gemma says: “I had the absolute best time on Strictly and it completely changed my life so I am absolutely overjoyed to be returning to the dancefloor this Christmas with a new challenge, and of course to be back with the gang!”

The gentlemen set to rock the dancefloor are Joe Sugg, Mark Wright, and Richard Arnold.

Joe says: “I’m really excited to have a go on the strictly ballroom floor again this Christmas. Strictly feels like a home away from home for me so I will be giving it my best shot and ending the year on a high.”

Mark says: “It’s been a while since I was on the dancefloor but I’m very much looking to forward to dusting off the dance shoes for Christmas! I can’t wait to be back – let’s get going!”

Richard says: “I can’t wait to get back out on the dance floor and throw shapes beneath the glitter ball once again. I just can’t promise you’ll recognise them or that they’ll be in any particular order. What I can promise is that one of us will be a professional.”

Each of the six couples will perform a Christmas inspired routine in a bid to be crowned Christmas champions 2019.

Hosted by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, the show wouldn’t be complete without the festive foursome on the judging panel: Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, Bruno Tonioli and Head Judge Shirley Ballas.

The judges will be on hand to score each couple and spread some cheerful joy, yet it will be down to the studio audience to vote for which dancing duo will win the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special 2019 and lift the famous Silver Star trophy.

The professional dancers and pairings will be revealed in due course.

WILL BAYLEY LEAVES STRICTLY AFTER INJURY 0 96

Sadly, due to the injury sustained last week, Will Bayley is leaving Strictly Come Dancing.

Executive Producer Sarah James said: “We are so sad that Will is unable to continue on the show. He is an incredible and talented person who has brought us some unforgettable moments this series – in particular his powerful and moving Couple’s Choice routine. He will be greatly missed and we wish him a speedy recovery.”

Will Bayley said: “I’m gutted my Strictly journey has had to come to an end. I’ve loved being part of the show, and am so grateful for the phenomenal support we have received. I want to say a special thank you to Janette for believing in me and giving me the confidence to believe in myself. The things we achieved, from our Couple’s Choice dance through to the lifts in our Salsa, will stay with me forever. I’ve had the time of my life.”

Janette Manrara said: “Absolutely devastated that Will and I will not be able to continue dancing. We made some incredible memories that I will never forget, and I am pleased to have shared them with such an inspirational person, whom I can now call a friend for life.”

Will and Janette will be on It Takes Two tonight from 6.30pm on BBC Two.