Former Bake Off winner John Whaite will take to the Strictly Come Dancing dance floor as one half of the first all-male partnership on the series, it has been announced.
The chef, 33, is the fourth contestant to be confirmed for the upcoming BBC One show.
He follows in the footsteps of boxer Nicola Adams, who last year was one half of the first female same-sex dance pairing, alongside professional Katya Jones.
Whaite said: “I’m so grateful, excited, and nervous to be joining the Strictly 2021 family. I’ve been wearing sequins and jazzy attire since I was three years old and can’t wait to hurl myself, full throttle, around the most glamorous dance floor on earth.
“What’s more exciting for me, is that I’m going to be one half of the first all-male partnership, which is a great step forward in representation and inclusion. Whoever it is I’m paired with, I hope they are up for a challenge as I want our routines to include lots of spectacular lifts!”
He won the third series of The Great British Bake Off in 2012 and currently presents a weekly cooking segment on the Channel 4 show Steph’s Packed Lunch.
He added that he is “very, very nervous” about taking part in Strictly Come Dancing, following the announcement on BBC Radio 2.
He told programme host Matt Lucas: “It’s an honour. When they asked me if I’d be interested, I just bit their hand off because I thought, you know, to do that and represent the LGBTQ+ community is one thing, but also just to see two men or two women dancing together is not necessarily about sexuality, it’s just about intimacy and respect.
“And I think that’s going to be such a great thing in our culture, where men are sort of conditioned not to open up and not to be emotional, I think it might help to combat that.
“So I’m excited on so many levels to be doing the first all-male partnership. I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet. And I don’t think it will until I find out who I’m actually dancing with.”
Whaite joins the already announced line-up of McFly star Tom Fletcher, Peep Show’s Robert Webb and TV presenter AJ Odudu.
In this year’s Strictly Come Dancing series professional dancer Anton Du Beke will join the judging panel in the place of Bruno Tonioli, and will also feature four new professional dancers to put the celebrities through their paces.
The official broadcast date is yet to be announced.