STRICTLY 2019: JAMES CRACKNELL OBE JOINS LINE UP 0 15

James Cracknell OBE, is a former rowing World Champion.

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.

James says: “I’m really looking forward to being a part of Strictly this year. Having spent so many years mucking around in a rowing boat with big men in tight lycra, it’s time I learned a new skill. I need to apologise to my kids in advance for the embarrassment.”

A former rowing World Champion and double Olympic Gold Medallist, James won Olympic Gold in both the 2000 Sydney Games alongside Steve Redgrave & Matthew Pinsent and the 2004 Athens Games.

Since retiring James has carried out dangerous and gruelling challenges including The Race Across the Atlantic, where he and Ben Fogle finished first, and the Yukon Arctic Ultra, cycling over 430 miles in the race across the frozen Alaskan countryside becoming the highest placed Briton ever finishing 12th.

In 2010, James attempted to cross America by cycling, running, rowing and swimming in record time. It was during this trip that James suffered a near fatal accident after being struck from behind by a truck while cycling through Arizona. After a difficult six-month recovery period, James went to the Canadian Yukon, completing The Coldest Race on Earth.

James is the BBC’s commentator for Rowing, and was heavily involved in the coverage for the Rio Olympics in 2016. He has more recently become the oldest ever Boat Race champion at 46 as part of Cambridge University’s crew as they rowed to victory at the 165th Boat Race. He has also just finished studying for his Masters in Philosophy from Cambridge University.

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STRICTLY 2019: ANNEKA RICE JOINS LINE-UP 0 18

Anneka Rice is an award-winning broadcaster.

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.

Anneka says: “I haven’t danced since I was seven and Miss Beer sent me home from my ballet class because I was hopelessly uncoordinated. My family and friends haven’t seen me dance since, not at a wedding or round a handbag so it’s going to be a challenge for my partner. In fact I’ve asked for two, one on each side. I can’t see myself in a long frilly dress either. But I’m feeling recklessly excited. Strictly has always been my Autumn’s entertainment and now I’m part of it! My children will probably leave the country”.

Anneka Rice shot to fame in this country as the Sky-Runner in Channel 4’s Treasure Hunt.

She also presented Sporting Chance, TV-am, Driving Force, Wish You Were Here, Capital Woman, Combat, Holiday, Hell’s Kitchen, The Royal Variety Performance and numerous other shows.

She went on to devise the award-winning Challenge Anneka for BBC One, shining a spotlight on issues like disability, homelessness and animal welfare and has raised millions of pounds worth of supplies and services for charities and communities.

Her radio work includes the Radio 2 Saturday Breakfast Show which she presented for six years; Pick Of The Week, Friday Night Is Music Night, The Arts Show, Sunday Love Songs, Loose Ends, and the award-winning podcast Fortunately.

She is a Patron of Operation Encompass, Help for Heroes and Horatio’s Garden.

CASUALTY NEWS: JANE HAZLEGROVE TO RETURN AS DIXIE 0 19

Casualty fans can expect to see a familiar face back on screen soon, as Jane Hazlegrove is set to reprise her role as Dixie for two episodes in Casualty’s new series this autumn.

Making an appearance as part of the HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) team, Dixie arrives at a call out in the nick of time to assist the paramedic team with a young lad who has a life-threatening chest injury.

But it’s not just the patient who Dixie will have an impact on. Seeing an old colleague taking on a whole new challenge really leaves an impression on Iain and leads him to think about his own future.

Jane Hazlegrove says: “It was really great to see some familiar faces again and of course to hang out with Sir Michael Stevenson… despite the fact that his jokes haven’t got any better!”

Simon Harper, Executive Producer Casualty and Holby City, says: “It’s wonderful to have the brilliant Jane Hazlegrove back in the Casualty family fold. Dixie was and remains a massively popular character with the audience who miss her to this day, and she and Iain are clearly going to have a lot to catch up on after his tumultuous year.”