0 19 mins 11 yrs

The line-up has been announced for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, which begins on Saturday 7 September.

Check out the male celebrity contenders below:

Ashley Taylor Dawson


Hollyoaks hunk Ashley Taylor Dawson, 31, is best known as bad lad Darren Osborne in the Channel 4 soap, and is one of the longest serving cast members on the show. He got his first acting break with the National Youth Theatre when he was 17, before becoming a member of former pop band allSTARS* in 2001. Ashley loves sport and plays football, tennis and basketball. When time allows he can be seen playing charity football matches with the Hollyoaks All-Stars around the country. Let’s hope he hasn’t got two left feet then!

What are you looking for in your dance partner?

I’m looking for someone who can teach me how to dance! I’m a bit of a work horse, when I get my mind on something I want to do it right, and I think I’ll be a bit of a perfectionist. So just someone who’s going to push me as hard as they can, and not be scared of pushing and pushing me.

Have you done any special preparation for your debut on the dance floor?

I had a go at doing some gymnastics funnily enough, because I can’t even touch my toes and I had a go at doing hot yoga, and I was terrible at both. I’m about a foot away from touching my toes, I’m so un-supple. I thought I’d try and do something to encourage my body to move, so that’s what I’ve been having a go at and failing miserably!

Who’s your Strictly hero or heroine from previous series and why?

Louis Smith was a solid performer, and obviously being a gymnast, the strength he has helped a lot – so I’m just hoping there are no Olympians on the cast this year. They’ve got an advantage with their body strength and the way they use their body. Obviously Ricky Whittle was fantastic when he did it. He has real rhythm, and that’s something hopefully I can learn, because you’re sort of born with it aren’t you? I think they’re the guys to look up to for me. They’re the ones who led the field.

Ben Cohen


Rugby World Cup champion Ben Cohen MBE is a sporting hero having being part of the England team who took the tournament title in Australia in 2003. As the 10th-highest point scorer in England rugby history, Ben, 34, began his professional career at the age of 17 and went on to play for Northampton Saints, French side Brive, and Sale Sharks. In 2011 he retired from his successful rugby career to concentrate on running his charitable foundation, combatting bullying and homophobia. Can Ben bring his rugby skills into play and tackle his opponents when it comes to dancing?

What made you decide to sign up for Strictly this year?

When I’ve seen other people on the show before, I’ve always been in awe and thought fair play because that really takes some guts. I’ve always watched from a distance, and never ever in a million years thought I’d be in this position now.

Being a sportsman do you see yourself as being competitive?

No I don’t. I’m not in competition with other people in my eyes, I just want to do the best I can. If someone’s better than me on the day then fine, I’ve given it 100% and that’s all I can give. I don’t have any preconceived ideas of where I want to come in the show. For me it’s going to be week by week. You won’t know the dance, and you’ll only be as good as your last week and your last dance. If you’re here the next week you’ll learn something else. It’s like a cup competition.

What are you looking for from your professional dance partner?

Someone who is a good teacher and is easy to learn from. It’s a crash course, and crash courses are intense. I haven’t come into this saying ‘I’m going to learn a dance, we’ll do a couple of hours here and there and everything will be great’. I know it’s going to take time and a lot of hours and I’m prepared for that. I’m not a workshy person, I never was when I played. I enjoy a challenge.

Dave Myers

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One half of the Hairy Bikers Dave Myers, 55, has fronted many popular TV series, based around travel in pursuit of great recipes, and cooking. He has written a number of books off the back of his TV success, making the Hairy Bikers the third most popular cookery book writers in the UK. Dave’s versatile skills have taken him to some unusual places – working as a furnaceman in a steelworks to finance his Master’s degree in fine arts, before joining the BBC as a make-up artist to specialise in prosthetics. Dave is hoping that his recent three stone weight loss, spurred on from his BBC Two series – The Hairy Dieters will help him in the competition.

How would you rate your dancing skills out of 10?

At the moment it would have to be a 2 to 3. It’s funny, I can go to a party and strut my stuff and fling myself around and not get too knackered, but I went on a cruise a couple of years ago and went to a few of the ballroom dancing nights and felt really inadequate. Some of those people really could move and danced beautifully. I just want to learn to dance like that, really.

Do you have a target of how far you want to get in the competition?

For me I want to get to Blackpool. I live in Barrow-in-Furness, which is just across the bay. I can remember going to Blackpool Tower Ballroom with my mum and dad when I was a child and have such great memories so it would be fantastic to go back there with Strictly Come Dancing – that’s my personal ambition for the series.

Do you have any tactics up your sleeves?

I want to enjoy it and I am going to be enthusiastic. I am going to wear as much fake tan and glitter as possible. I’ve never fake tanned before – I’ll do anything! This isn’t the type of thing you can blag; it’s going to take solid hard work. I’ll be terrified but if I can do enough preparation so that I can do things automatically then I will start to enjoy it. It’s a bit like when we are doing our live shows where we cook in front of 3,000 people. We will work out the choreography beforehand between us so we know the recipes. Doing that helps to give us the flexibility to lark about a bit and that’s when it gets a bit magical. I am hoping to recreate that approach on the dance floor.

Julien Macdonald

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As Strictly’s very first Fashion Designer, Julien Macdonald OBE is a genuine exclusive. He started his career working for Karl Lagerfeld, and in 2001 was named British Fashion Designer of the Year. He is famed for his show-stopping, high glamour dresses, and boasts a star-studded international client list. Julien, 42, has been a judge on the television series Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model, and for the last two years has made appearances on It Takes Two as a resident fashion expert. Now it’s his turn to don the diamantes and dazzle on the dance floor.

Have you thought about what sort of dance partner you would like?

I’m going to need somebody who’s able to stand up to me and put me in my place, because I’m used to telling other people what to do, and what to wear. So for me it will be an interesting challenge. I want somebody who is glamorous, funny, and has a great personality.

Being the first fashion designer on the show, are you looking forward to the costumes?

That is one of the reasons why really I want to do it. I’ve spent my entire life dressing a variety of different people from all different backgrounds, shapes, sizes and ages. For once in my life, somebody gets to dress me. For me, I like the fact I can have the sparkles and the crystals, and the glamour that I’ve spent my life putting on other people. For me it’s the fun part of it. It’s camp and funny. That’s my personality anyway so I don’t want to wear a boring old black suit, because I wear that anyway. I’m loving the rhinestones and lace, and the crystals. I just want more and more. I’ll probably look like a Christmas tree by the end of it!

What feedback would you like to hear from the judges?

Whatever they give me I’m going to give them back. If there’s one thing I never understand when I watch the show is when the dancers and celebrities take beatings from the judges and don’t say anything. If it’s constructive feedback then fair enough. I’m going to give it my best shot and work hard, but I’m definitely not going to stand there and let Craig lay into me. I’m not afraid of the Revel Horwood.

Mark Benton

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Mark Benton, 47, is best known for his roles in ITV’s Northern Lights, BBC One’s drama Land Girls and more recently as playing maths teacher Daniel Chalk in Waterloo Road. After participating in a number of productions with the Middlesbrough Youth Theatre, Mark’s initial acting experience was on stage, featuring in As You Like It and Invisible Friends. The stage and screen actor graduated from RADA (The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) and got his first film break in 1997 in Mike Leigh’s Career Girls. He is currently touring the country playing the iconic role of Edna Turnblad in the multi-award-winning musical Hairspray.

What made you decide to take part in Strictly this year?

I just thought that it would be fun. I’ve never thought about doing one of these types of shows before, but out of all of them this is the one to do. I like to start a job thinking ‘I’m not sure if I can do this’ and I really love a challenge. It’s very easy to get comfortable when you are an actor, so I like to look at taking part in Strictly as an adventure. I must also remain positive and keep my fear under wraps. It’s nice to try and learn a skill and maybe get a bit fitter too, which is another great reason to take part.

Have you done any special preparation for your debut on the dance floor?

I’d love to say that I have been waking up at 6am and doing yoga each morning, but the truth is I have been waking up at 6am in cold sweats! Seriously though, I have been doing Hairspray where I dance every night, so I suppose that has been my preparation. Aside from that I am a blank canvas.

Do you know any of your fellow celebrity contestants?

I know Dave (Myers). We actually worked together years ago on a Catherine Cookson programme called The Girl, he was my stunt double! There was a scene we had to film with a big ox that was going mad and I was too scared to do it, so they dressed Dave up as me and made him do the scene instead. It’s been a while since I’ve seen him but he is still the same lovely guy he was before.

Patrick Robinson

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Patrick Robinson, 49, is best known for playing Martin “Ash” Ashford in BBC One’s longstanding medical drama series Casualty. Patrick joined the cast in 1990, taking on the role of the popular charge nurse for the next six and a half years. In 2013, 17 years after leaving the show, he made his return to the series as a doctor. Patrick was classically trained at LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) and worked for several years with the Royal Shakespeare Company – becoming the first ever black actor to play Romeo in Romeo and Juliet.

Have you done any special preparation for your debut on the dance floor?

The only extra stuff I have done, other than my usual work out and bike rides is some more stretching, flexibility exercises. I have done a little bit of yoga, but that’s about it.

Who is your Strictly hero/heroine from a previous series and why?

I just have to say Mark Ramprakash, because he was so fabulous, and I played football with him for the Arsenal ex-professional and celebrity team. One of the things about Mark is that he is lovely, and he was brilliant, so he is the hero to try and emulate.

Will you be roping your Casualty colleagues in to help rehearse?

I always like to keep my energy up on set, so I have always been one to be messing around physically, trying to do old dances, time steps and stuff like that. I’m always pulling people in to do little bits and pieces. No doubt, here and there, I’ll be rehearsing with them, but I think I will have plenty on my plate being a consultant when I have to be on set, and when I have to train with my partner, whoever that is.

Tony Jacklin

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Sporting legend Tony Jacklin CBE, 69, is the most successful British golfer of all time. He has won a multitude of tournaments including the PGA Tour, European Tour and Senior PGA Tour, and his name hangs in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Tony has an extraordinary track record and has been the Ryder Cup Captain an incredible four times. He is universally recognized as the man who changed the Ryder Cup, taking the European team to its first victory in 28 years in 1985. Since retiring from golf, Tony’s passion for the sport has continued and he now designs courses around the world. Let’s hope his swing is as good off the golf course as it is on!

What made you decide to sign up for Strictly this year?

I thought why wouldn’t I? I suppose one aspect of it, not having lived in the UK for a while, is there’s a generation probably who don’t know who I am or what I did. So there’s a bit of a challenge there. Maybe they will remember that actually I was quite good at what I used to do. So this is an opportunity to reintroduce myself.

How do you think you will fare on the Strictly dance floor?

Until the training starts and you have your disciplines it’s very difficult to get your head into it, but I shall endeavour to take in all the instruction and take it to heart. I want to do as well as I possibly can and I’m sure I’m bound to be worn out once the training starts but if that’s what it takes that’s what it takes. I’m here to do as well as I can and I don’t want to let my partner down in particular. She’ll be a professional and it’ll mean a lot to her. I just want her to know it means a lot to me too.

Being a golfer and having to master your techniques might make dancing a little easier for you?

Well maybe. I love music and I do think I’ve got a sense of rhythm. Music has been a big part of my life, all my life, and maybe that’ll work in a positive way. I hope so. I love lyrics so if they play songs that I know, that may be an inspiration too. But first you’ve got to know the steps. It’ll all be new territory, I need guidance. I know posture is important and how I present my dance partner. I’m assuming those issues are an important aspect to the overall judging.