Shhhh…Strictly’s West End Secrets Revealed!

The glitter ball is back…and it might be borrowing more from the West End’s Theatres than you think! This weekend is the Series 14 launch of Strictly Come Dancing and since the show began back in 2004, we’ve seen hundreds of celebs shimmy, foxtrot and cha-cha-cha their way across the sequin-strewn dance floor. Little surprise then that so many of the judges, contestants and professional dancers have appeared in the West End, prior to, or in some cases as a result of appearances on TV’s top rated entertainment show! Join us for a waltz around the world of Strictly West End Theatre.


Strictly Come Dancing owes much to the traditions of light entertainment, where TV personalities learned their trade in the theatres and musical halls of Britain’s towns and cities.

Bruce Forsyth hosted Strictly Come Dancing for ten years
Bruce Forsyth hosted Strictly Come Dancing for ten years

Bruce Forsyth (2004-2013)
West End Credits:
1962 Every Night At The Palladium, starring alongside Morecambe and Wise
1964 Little Me – Cambridge Theatre
1978 The Traveling Music Show – Her Majesty’s Theatre

Brucie also appeared in numerous films, including Star! with Julie Andrews and Bedknobs and Broomsticks with Angela Lansbury.

Ronnie Corbett came to the rescue when Bruce Forsyth fell ill
Ronnie Corbett came to the rescue when Bruce Forsyth fell ill

Ronnie Corbett (Guest host)
West End Credits:
1963 The Boys from Syracuse – Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
1965 Twang!! – Shaftesbury Theatre

Ronnie Corbett is one of only five people ever to present the SCD main show…the others being Bruce Forsyth, Tess Daly, Natasha Kaplinsky and Zoe Ball.


Strictly’s judges, past and present, have a huge number of West End shows under their collective belts and dance tights…

Strictly judges - fine figures from the many worlds of dance
Strictly judges – fine figures from the many worlds of dance

Bruno Tonioli (Judge 2004-Present)
West End Credits as a choreographer:
1993 Viva España – Arts Theatre
1998 Steve Coogan’s The Man Who Thinks He’s It – Lyceum Theatre
2006 Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens – The Venue/Leicester Square Theatre

Craig Revel Horwood (Judge 2004-Present)
West End Credits as a performer:
Cats (Munkustrap), Miss Saigon and Crazy for You (Dance Captain)
West End Credits as a choreographer: Spend, Spend, Spend, Beautiful and Damned, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, Hey Mr Producer!

Arlene Phillips (Judge 2004-2008)
West End Credits as a choreographer: Time, Fire Angel, Starlight Express, Grease, Saturday Night Fever, We Will Rock You, The Sound of Music, Flashdance and The Wizard of Oz.

Darcey Bussell (Judge 2009-Present)
An illustrious career at the Royal Ballet, Covent Garden propelled Darcey Bussell to worldwide fame as a Prima Ballerina. Before joining the Royal Ballet School at 13, Darcey attended Arts Ed.

Judge Arlene Phillips was a member of Hot Gossip, a dance troupe who backed Sarah Brightman in I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trouper


The Strictly pros are all uber talented, and many have now brought those talents to the West End stage…

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace
Vincent & Flavia have enjoyed West End seasons at the Phoenix Theatre (Midnight Tango) and Aldwych Theatre (Dance ‘til Dawn). The pair returns in 2016 for The Last Tango.

Kristina Rihanoff and Robin Windsor
Kristina and Robin fronted the 2013 return of Burn the Floor (see also Ali Bastian & Brian Fortuna) at the Shaftesbury Theatre. The show also featured the then less well-known Kevin Clifton, Karen Hauer and Aljaz Skorjanec.

Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag
Anton and Erin Cheek to Cheek was seen as part of the 2009 Sadler’s Wells Dance Season at the London Coliseum.


There are so many Strictly contestants who have come from or gone on to appear on the West End stage that it’s hard to know where to start. So, to quote Julie Andrews, “let’s start at the very beginning…”

Series 14 celebrities line up for the 2016 season
Series 14 celebrities line up for the 2016 season

Claire Sweeney (Series 1)

West End Credits: Roxie Hart (Chicago), Adelaide (Guys & Dolls)

Lesley Garrett (Series 1)
West End Credits: Mother Abbess (The Sound of Music), Nettie Fowler (Carousel)

Aled Jones (Series 2)
West End Credits: Bob Wallace (White Christmas)

Jill Halfpenny (Series 2)
West End Credits: Beverly (Abigail’s Party), Cora (Calendar Girls), Roxie Hart (Chicago), Paulette (Legally Blonde)

Emma Bunton (Series 4)
West End Credits: The Narrator (Charity Performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show)

So tell me what you want, what you really really want...
So tell me what you want, what you really really want, Emma

Kelly Brook (Series 5)
West End Credits: Jeannie (Fat Pig) and Celia (Calendar Girls)

Letitia Dean (Series 5)
West End Credits: Ms Darbus (High School Musical*) and, as a juvenile, Pepper (Annie)
*Hammersmith Apollo isn’t Strictly the West End we know…

Phil Daniels (Series 6)
West End Credits: Various roles at the National Theatre, Royal Court, and earlier in 2016, Thenardier (Les Miserables)

Jessie Wallace (Series 6)
West End Credits: Maureen (Rent Remixed)

Tom Chambers (Series 7)
West End Credits: Jerry Travers (Top Hat), Phil Davis (White Christmas)

Tom Chambers tapped his way to Strictly Champion
Tom Chambers tapped his way to Strictly Champion

Lynda Bellingham (Series 7)
West End Credits: Anita (Vincent River), Chris (Calendar Girls)

Ali Bastian (Series 7)
West End Credits: Burn The Floor, Shaftesbury Theatre (2010)
*Ali is the only Strictly celebrity to perform on the West End stage with her professional partner (Brian Fortuna).

Felicity Kendal (Series 8)
West End Credits: Judith Bliss (Hay Fever), Sheila (Relatively Speaking), Mrs Warren (Mrs Warren’s Profession), Florence (The Vortex), Julia (Fallen Angels) plus many more performances at the National Theatre and throughout the West End.

Kara Tointon (Series 8)
West End Credits: Eliza Doolittle (Pygmalion), Evelyn (Absent Friends), Giny (Relatively Speaking).
*Away from the West End, in 2015, Kara played Maria in the live TV broadcast of The Sound of Music to rave reviews.

Kara and Artem...possibly Strictly's most beautiful couple
Kara and Artem…possibly Strictly’s most beautiful couple

Rory Bremner (Series 9)
West End Credits: Crestwell (Relative Values)

Anita Dobson (Series 9)
West End Credits: Mama Morton (Chicago), Joan Crawford (Bette & Joan), Chris Harper (Calendar Girls), Mrs Meers (Thoroughly Modern Millie) Gladys (Pyjama Game) and Budgie with Adam Faith.

Jason Donovan (Series 9)
West End Credits: Joseph (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat), Tick/Mitzi (Priscilla Queen of the Desert)

Russell Grant (Series 9)
West End Credits: The Wizard (Wizard of Oz)

Jerry Hall (Series 10)
West End Credits: Cherie (Bus Stop), Mrs Robinson (The Graduate), Mother Lord (High Society), Celia (Calendar Girls)

Jerry Hall: No stranger to the West End
Jerry Hall: No stranger to the West End

Denise Van Outen (Series 10)
West End Credits: Roxie Hart (Chicago), Herself (The Play What I Wrote), The Girl (Tell Me on a Sunday), Maureen (Rent Remixed), Paulette (Legally Blonde)

Kimberley Walsh (Series 10)
West End Credits: Jovie (Elf) and Princess Fiona (Shrek! The Musical)

Series 3 and 11 are the ONLY series where we couldn’t find a contestant with links to West End Theatre.

Pixie Lott (Series 12)
West End Credits: Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
*Pixie trained at Italia Conti and appeared in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Palladium aged just 13.

Simon Webbe (Series 12)
West End Credits: Curtis Shank (Sister Act) and Big Bad Wolf (The 3 Little Pigs) 

Snake hips Simon Webbe: like ketchup, best with the top off
Snake hips Simon Webbe: like ketchup, best with his top off

Helen George (Series 13)
West End Credits: Woman in White and Love Never Dies

So, what sequinned surprises lie in store for the contestants of series 14? Well, keep a close eye Eastenders’ Tameka Empson who has West End form and put in a fine comedy turn as Billie in Our House, Pop Star Will Young whose performance as the Emcee in Cabaret earned him an Olivier Award nomination, and Lesley Joseph whose packed career includes a West End stint as Miss Hannigan – a role she has shared on tour with Judge Craig Revel Horwood.

SCD Series 14 contestants also include: Anastacia, Claudia Frangapane, Daisy Lowe, Danny Mac, Ed Balls, Greg Rutherford, Laura Whitmore, Louise Redknapp, Melvin Odoom, Naga Munchetty, Ore Oduba and Robert Rinder.

Tess and Claudia - back on our screens...we can't wait!
Tess and Claudia – back together for series 14…and we can’t wait!

The new series launches on Saturday 3rd September BBC One at 6.50pm and runs until 8.15pm and will be available on BBC iplayer immediately after broadcast. It seems likely that the full series 14 will then begin on Friday 23rd & Saturday 24th if BBC scheduling runs to form, with the series finale broadcast on Saturday 17th December (the weekend before Christmas).

Be sure to vote for your favourites and most important of all…keeeeeep dancing!