'Strictly Come Dancing' Week One: Rugby player Ugo Monye dedicates first dance to late father

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Rugby player Ugo Monye dedicated his Samba to his late father whose funeral took place earlier the same day. (BBC)
Rugby player Ugo Monye dedicated his Samba to his late father whose funeral took place earlier the same day. (BBC)

Rugby player Ugo Monye dedicated his debut dance on Strictly Come Dancing to his late father, whose funeral took place on the same day as the first live show.

The 38-year-old sports pundit and former England player did the Samba with partner Oti Mabuse and had all the audience up on their feet clapping along to their feel-good performance.

Monye told Strictly host Claudia Winkleman: "My dad passed away a couple of weeks ago of prostate cancer and we had his funeral this morning, and during the funeral they spoke about today being a day of celebration.

"And that's exactly how today felt. There's no better way of celebrating than by dancing. That felt really special."

Read more: 5 things we've learned about 'Strictly' this week

The judges were impressed with Monye's performance, despite his problems with the footwork, and praised his effort and his enthusiasm.

Harsh judge Craig Revel Horwood even admitted the dance had put him in the mood for a carnival, telling Monye, "Well done."

Ugo Monye and Oti Mabuse danced the Samba for their first 'Strictly' performance. (BBC)
Ugo Monye and Oti Mabuse danced the Samba for their first 'Strictly' performance. (BBC)

Meanwhile, Tom Fletcher has already been tipped to make it to the final, after making his debut on the dancefloor.

The McFly singer was the very first contestant on the dancefloor, doing the Cha Cha to September by Earth, Wind & Fire with partner Amy Dowden.

Pro dancer Anton Du Beke, who is now a fulltime member of the judging panel, told Fletcher: "A fabulous start - well done you, you've set the bar. Straighten up your leg actions and I think that will see you all the way through my old sausage."

Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden kicked off 'Strictly' 2021 dancing the Cha Cha for the very first dance of the series. (BBC)
Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden kicked off 'Strictly' 2021 dancing the Cha Cha for the very first dance of the series. (BBC)

Revel Horwood said: "I thought it was a little bit wooden, but what you do have is amazing rhythm.

And Motsi Mabuse said: "I think we are going to see you go far. With that start, what can go wrong?"

The All About You singer has previously admitted feeling under pressure given he's following in the footsteps of bandmate Harry Judd, who won the show in 2010.

Anton Du Beke has joined  Motsi Mabuse, Craig Revel Horwood and Shirley Ballas as a 'Strictly' judge. (BBC)
Anton Du Beke has joined Motsi Mabuse, Craig Revel Horwood and Shirley Ballas as a 'Strictly' judge. (BBC)

The first live show of the series saw the contestants making their debut on the dancefloor. The judges scores for this week's dances will roll over to next week when viewers will have their first chance to vote and the first couple will be eliminated from the competition.

As well as the unveiling of this year's first all-male coupling between Bake Off's John Whaite and Johannes Radebe, this year's launch saw pro dancer Du Beke make his debut as a full-time member of the judging panel.

Alongside Monye and Fletcher, this year's contestants include BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker, Gordon Ramsay's daughter Tilly Ramsay, Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty and EastEnders stars Nina Wadia and Rose Ayling-Ellis.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 contestants Greg Wise, Katie McGlynn, Dan Walker, AJ Odudu, Rhys Stephenson, Tilly Ramsay, Tom Fletcher, Judi Love, Adam Peaty, Rose Ayling-Ellis, Robert Webb, John Waite, Nina Wadia, Ugo Monye, Sara Davies. (BBC)
Strictly Come Dancing 2021 contestants Greg Wise, Katie McGlynn, Dan Walker, AJ Odudu, Rhys Stephenson, Tilly Ramsay, Tom Fletcher, Judi Love, Adam Peaty, Rose Ayling-Ellis, Robert Webb, John Waite, Nina Wadia, Ugo Monye, Sara Davies. (BBC)

Comedian Robert Webb, actor Greg Wise and Coronation Street star Katie McGlynn are also among the stars taking to the dancefloor in the hope of winning the coveted glitterball trophy.

Read more: 'Strictly's Tom Fletcher says his kids cringe when he dances with wife Giovanna

Du Beke is filling in for Bruno Tonioli, who is unable to take part because of the complications of travelling between the UK and the US, where he judges Dancing With The Stars, amid the COVID pandemic.

Watch: Who is Ugo Monye?

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