Tess Daly teases first contestant to join Strictly Come Dancing: ‘Great starting point!’

Strictly: Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman open the show

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Tess Daly, 51, is best known for being a host of Strictly Come Dancing, a role she has held since the show started back in 2004. In that time, she has seen more than 100 celebrities showcase their moves on the main stage of the BBC programme. It could be said she knows a thing or two about who would be the best people to sign up and after hearing about the talents of a famous professional footballer, the presenter has hinted they would be “perfect” for a spot on the 2021 line-up.

Since retiring from the game in 2015, Rio Ferdinand, 42, has become a pundit and presenter for football coverage.

The father-of-four usually appears on-screen with former Strictly contestant Gabby Logan, 47, who took part in the competition in 2007.

Unfortunately, she failed to win the coveted title of champion but she is convinced her colleague could go all the way.

Speaking with Tess, the sport’s veteran said: “I was trying to persuade Rio Ferdinand. You need to get your producers onto him.

“I almost had him,” she continued, going on to recall a conversation she previously had with the Manchester United legend.

“He said, ‘Did you really enjoy it?’ I said, ‘How often do they ask you?’ He said, ‘Every year’. He’d be incredible, and he’s a dancer.”

Hearing that Rio had also participated in ballet lessons as a youngster, Tess replied: “He would have a natural grace.

“He’d make it look good. That’s a great starting point. Welcome Rio, 2021,” the host said on Gabby’s Mid-Point podcast, hinting the professional footballer could be the first contestant to sign up.

However, ahead of his retirement, the father-of-four seemed to confirm if he would ever consider signing up.

“You will never see me on Strictly (Come Dancing) ever, no chance,” he said in his autobiography #2sides.

“I know David Seaman and Robbie Savage have, but it’s just not me,” he remarked.

It will be some months before the official cast list for this year’s season is revealed as the show doesn’t usually start until September.

In the past, contestants have been unveiled in the summer months as they then go into rehearsals with the professionals at least a fortnight before the first live show.

Having held the role of host for almost two decades, Tess has said she feels “lucky” to have been able to continue working on the show.

“The industry can be quite fickle. It can spit people out,” she continued to tell former contestant Gabby.

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That’s a great starting point

Tess Daly

“My eldest daughter Phoebe, who’s now 16, is a visual reference as to how long we’ve been on air because I was pregnant with her in series one,” Tess added.

“So yes, it’s a long time,” she commented and it seems there is no sign of hanging up her duties any time soon.

It is hoped Tess and her co-host Claudia Winkleman, 49, will be overseeing proceedings of a full, 13-episode season this autumn.

Fewer contestants took part last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, making it the first socially distanced season in the show’s history.

Some of the famous faces rumoured to be featured in the 2021 line-up include stars from the world of music, sport, television and much more.

Coral bookmakers has Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan, 55, as one of the favourites to sign up for the all-star cast.

They have the journalist’s chances of taking part at 10/1, with comedian Alan Carr, 44, standing at 4/1 to join.

Spokesperson John Hill said: “After Bill Bailey’s success on the show in 2020, we think more comedians may be tempted to take the plunge onto the dance floor on Strictly this year.

“Alan Carr has been linked with the show before and is prominent in our betting to be a contestant on the next series.”

Strictly Come Dancing is set to return later this year on BBC One.

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