Former Bake Off winner John Whaite will take to the Strictly Come Dancing dancefloor as one half of the first all-male partnership on the series, it has been announced.
The 33-year-old chef is the fourth contestant to be confirmed for the forthcoming 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 dancefloor 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.
The cookery author said he is “very, very nervous” about taking part in Strictly following the announcement on BBC Radio 2, but that it will be an honour to be one half of the show’s first all-male partnership.
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.”
His professional dance partner has not yet been confirmed.
Whaite told Lucas: “I couldn’t pick a single one (person) because they are all so supremely talented.
“Obviously, I’m six (foot) two so it needs to be someone quite tall, I think, so that kind of narrows it down to a few a few dancers”.
University Challenge star Bobby Seagull was among the people congratulating Whaite.
He tweeted: “Well done John. I’ve been looking forward to seeing a Bake Off star on the dance floor! And excited to see the first all male dance pairing.”
Whaite joins the already announced line-up of McFly star Tom Fletcher, Peep Show’s Robert Webb and TV presenter AJ Odudu.
This year’s Strictly Come Dancing series will see professional dancer Anton Du Beke 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.