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Strictly Speaking: James and Ola Jordan predict this year's dark horse & reveal their favourite pairings

Find out James and Ola's thoughts on Strictly week one

Sophie Hamilton
Parenting Editor
19 September 2021
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Strictly is back for its nineteenth series and so are the lovely James and Ola Jordan, who are here every week to discuss Saturday night's show.

The former professional dancers, who are two of Strictly's most-loved stars, are known for their honest, down-to-earth opinions of the show and its dance pairings.

Here, in the first week of their column, Strictly Speaking, couple James and Ola give us their views on the new pairings. Find out what they had to say here…

MORE: Ola and James Jordan's daughter Ella tries on mum's Strictly costumes - see video

WATCH: The official Strictly trailer

James and Ola's favourite Strictly pairings

James: "It's a great lineup this year! I think Katie McGlynn and Rose Ayling-Ellis will go far in the show out of the celebrities.

"Rose is the first deaf person Strictly have had on the show, which I think is fascinating. I also think Rhys Stephenson will do very well. He looks young, like he should be a good dancer."

rose strictly

James and Ola tip Rose Ayling-Ellis to do well

James: "John Whaite looks like he'll be good too and Tom Fletcher should have rhythm. The only thing with Tom is he's got a lot to live up to with [McFly bandmate] Harry Judd being so amazing – who in my opinion was one of the best guys - so he's going to be compared to him. It's tough for Tom I think."

Ola: "I'm looking forward to seeing Dan Walker. He's very tall and paired with Nadiya who's also tall. They'll look nice and smart in the ballroom dances.

"I'm also looking forward to seeing Tom Fletcher and seeing what he can do. AJ Odudu could be quite good as well. She's young and fit."

MORE: Giovanni Pernice reveals what girlfriend Maura Higgins thinks of Strictly 'curse' 

tom fletcher

Does McFly's Tom have the moves?

James: "The more I look at the line-up, it's actually a very exciting year. I'm really interested to see Rose. I'm interested to see how she interprets the music, because obviously, she's probably going to feel it through sense, so as a dancer I'm quite excited to see how that's going to work.

Ola: "It's challenging for both of them – not only for her but also for Giovanni. I'm sure he's never danced with anyone like that before. It's a nice challenge."

James: "If I was on the show I'd want Rose as my partner, purely because it's the first time and you'd get so much satisfaction out of someone like her doing the show and creating something beautiful. I think it could be very emotional."

MORE: Tess Daly shares never-before-seen wedding photo with Vernon Kay on 18th anniversary milestone

James and Ola's Strictly dark horse prediction

James: "You often get a dark horse on Strictly but this year I don't know. Maybe someone like Robert Webb or Greg Wise possibly?"

Ola: "Yeah I think Greg Wise could be quite good."

strictly celebs

This year's celebrity line-up

James and Ola on Strictly sports stars

Ola: "Then we've got Ugo Monye and Adam Peaty. Sports stars used to do well on Strictly when people didn't have as much training, but nowadays people have more training."

ugo strictly

Will his sports background help Ugo Monye in Strictly?

James: "The reason rugby and sports people used to do well was because of their work ethic, but it doesn’t matter how good your work ethic is if you're going up against someone who's had dance training already. It's very difficult to compare.

"If people have had dance training, of course, it's a massive advantage doing a show like that, but the sportspeople do work bloomin' hard.

"Ugo Monye looks very fit and strong and Adam Peaty is good looking – he could just stand still and gets 10s couldn't he! 'Don't move, stand there, hit a shape and you'll win!' I think he'll have his top off a lot. If I was him doing the show I just wouldn't wear clothes – you'd get the public vote wouldn't you [laughs]."

James and Ola on previous dance training

James: "As a professional dancer, as soon as I see the first show, it's very easy to tell if a celebrity has had dance training - even if they haven't admitted to having dance training.

"It's the way people move and certain things they do that have to be taught – you can't just pick it up in a couple of weeks. It's the subtleties you can see. Sometimes they'll dance in a way that's not from the ballroom world, but from stage school.

"I think it's better to be upfront and honest at the beginning and say, 'Yeah, I've danced before'.

"We do need people who've had dance training on the show though. There's nothing wrong with it. If everyone hadn't danced before it could be really bad. You don't want 15 Ann Widdecombes do you? One is enough!"

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