New Strictly Come Dancing pros - all you need to know

Strictly Come Dancing returns this autumn and we've got a sneaky peek at the new professional dancers

New Strictly Come Dancing pros
(Image credit: BBC Pictures)

Strictly Come Dancing fever is already gathering pace as the BBC confirms the names of its 20 professional dancers for the upcoming series - including FOUR new pros.

The reality dance contest is set to have its biggest professional dancer line-up in history when the multi-award-winning dance show returns this autumn to BBC One and BBC iPlayer, once again bringing glitter, glamour and glorious dancing to homes across the nation - followed by a Strictly live tour in 2023.

But that's not all, Strictly fans will be excited to learn that FOUR new world class dancers are joining the professional troupe alongside some of the Strictly 2021 pros confirmed for the upcoming series: Dianne Buswell, Nadiya Bychkova, Graziano Di Prima, Amy Dowden, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Neil Jones, Nikita Kuzmin, Cameron Lombard, Gorka Marquez, Luba Mushtuk, Giovanni Pernice, Jowita Przystal, Johannes Radebe, Kai Widdrington and Nancy Xu.

Last year's contest wasn't without drama, as the final was in jeopardyand Bruno Tonioli has confirmed he won't be returning as judge, along with Oti Mabuse quitting Strictly as a dancer. We look at the new professionals who will be gracing the dancefloor this year....

Who are the new Strictly pros?

Vito Coppola

As an 11-time Italian Latin American Champion, Vito Coppola is not to be scoffed at. He began dancing at the age of six and by 10 years old he was winning national championships. Among some of his prestigious awards is being a 3-time World Championship finalist and European Cup Winner. 

Despite leaving the competition world behind him in 2021 in order to explore onscreen opportunities, having most recently competed in and winning Ballando con le Stelle, the Italian version of Strictly Come Dancing, Vito now has his sights set on the UK glitterball trophy.

Vito Coppola said, “I am really excited to become part of this family. I cannot wait to start this new adventure and to challenge myself. Strictly sto arrivando! (or: Strictly I am coming!)”

His Instagram boasts many snaps, with one caption telling fans, "Always invest in yourself" as he pumps some iron.

Carlos Gu

Carols Gu is a Chinese National Champion dancer who has landed multiple world semi-finalists under his belt, having placed 3rd at the German Open Championship before becoming Amateur Latin Rising Star Runner Up at the 2017 UK Open. 

But his talents don't end there - he has further experience in ballroom, ballet and contemporary dance, and viewers will see him bring a wealth of dance knowledge to the Strictly ballroom.

Carlos Gu said, “I’m thrilled to join Strictly and very excited to get started. It’s a new chapter of my life and a new challenge as well. I’m absolutely ready to take on this journey and to shine.”

Lauren Oakley

Birmingham-born Lauren Oakley might look familiar to some Strictly fans and that's because she has most recently been the leading lady to Giovanni Pernice and Anton Du Beke in their national tours.

Before joining Strictly as one of the new professionals, Lauren has spend her lifetime dancing having taken her first steps to competing professionally from the age of two.

She has had some early successes including becoming Juvenile Champion at the prestigious Blackpool Dance Festival - winning across both Ballroom and Latin disciplines.

Lauren Oakley said: “I’ve grown up watching Strictly, always hoping that one day I could be part of the best show on television, doing what I love the most. Now that it’s happening, it doesn’t quite seem real. I can’t wait to start this new sequined adventure and join this incredible family.”

Lauren has toured all over the world after being crowned Under 21 British National Champion where she explored a career on stage.

Michelle Tsiakkas

Cypriot Michelle Tsiakkas first started dancing at the age of six in her home country of Cyprus and has reached Latin dance champion status winning national titles consecutively from 2001-2011 before moving to London to study.

When she's not working academically, Michelle spent her time competing, representing England at major international championships before joining the world touring dance show Burn The Floor which has starred former Strictly Pro Kevin Clifton and Graziano Di Prima.

Michelle Tsiakkas said: “Being a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing has been my dream ever since I was a little girl. I cannot believe my dream has come true! I’m so grateful to be joining this incredible family and I can’t wait to step on that magical dance floor and give it my all!”

You can see a clip of Michelle in action on the dancefloor below...

Strictly Come Dancing returns for its 20th series this autumn on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

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Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)