21 Celebrities Who Turned Down Strictly Come Dancing (And Their Reasons Why)

(Photo: BBC via PA Media)
(Photo: BBC via PA Media)

(Photo: BBC via PA Media)

For a host of celebrities, the idea of learning a new skill, boosting your public profile and stepping out of your comfort zone is a huge draw when Strictly Come Dancing come calling.

However, not everyone finds the idea of the Strictly ballroom so irresistible.

Indeed, every year big names from the worlds of music, TV, sport and politics turn the BBC down flat. Here are 21 of those stars who gave Strictly the thumbs down, and their reasons for saying no…

Gyles Brandreth

(Photo: David Levenson via Getty Images)
(Photo: David Levenson via Getty Images)

(Photo: David Levenson via Getty Images)

The Celebrity Gogglebox star and Countdown regular has spoken candidly about turning down Strictly down on multiple occasions, revealing there’s one major thing holding him back from saying yes.

“I ain’t got rhythm… I REALLY ain’t got rhythm,” he tweeted in August 2022.

Diane Abbott

(Photo: SOPA Images via Getty Images)
(Photo: SOPA Images via Getty Images)

(Photo: SOPA Images via Getty Images)

It seems that Gyles isn’t the only one to have refused Strictly due to concerns about dancing in public.

When Jacqui Smith signed up for the show in 2020, Diane Abbott admitted she’d also been approached in the past, but wasn’t interested.

“You’ll be surprised to know I’m not someone with natural rhythm and I didn’t want it exposed to millions of television viewers,” the Labour MP commented at the time.

Steph McGovern

(Photo: Dave J Hogan via Getty Images)
(Photo: Dave J Hogan via Getty Images)

(Photo: Dave J Hogan via Getty Images)

The daytime favourite told HuffPost UK in 2022 that she’d been approached about signing up for Strictly Come Dancing several times, but had never been able to make it work with her schedule.

“I love the show and so many of my mates have been on it and they’ve all loved it,” the Steph’s Packed Lunch host said. “If I do it, I want to totally commit to it and as things stand, it would be near on impossible. I would worry about my little girl and not seeing her for so long.

“It’s interesting because the very first time I was asked to do it was probably when I should have done it, but then I had a baby. I’ll always say never say never but I’d just want to give it my all if I ever do it.”

Piers Morgan

(Photo: Dominic Lipinski via PA Wire/PA Images)
(Photo: Dominic Lipinski via PA Wire/PA Images)

(Photo: Dominic Lipinski via PA Wire/PA Images)

The former Good Morning Britain host told The Sun in 2018 that he has no desire to “humiliate” himself on Strictly, despite the apparent vast amounts of money he claimed producers were willing to offer him.

“Dancing is not for me,” Piers explained. “They’ve offered me vast sums of money to go and humiliate myself on national TV.

“But I prefer to do it with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s in the privacy of my own home.”

Melanie C

(Photo: JOCE/Bauer-Griffin via Getty Images)
(Photo: JOCE/Bauer-Griffin via Getty Images)

(Photo: JOCE/Bauer-Griffin via Getty Images)

However, Sporty Spice has a rather different experience of being offered a spot on the Strictly dance floor to Piers.

She claimed in 2016 that a major factor for her turning down Strictly “every year” was the fact that the money they offer is, in her words, “shit”.

“I have had a meeting with them – they ask me every year to do it,” she told the Daily Star. “The problem is if you do Strictly it’s so high profile and you’ll find yourself in the [Daily Mail’s] sidebar of shame every day. And the money’s shit!”

Melanie later followed in the footsteps of bandmate Mel B by , where she and partner Gleb Savchenko (ahhh, remember him?) finished in 11th place.

Patrick Stewart

(Photo: Michael Kovac via Getty Images)
(Photo: Michael Kovac via Getty Images)

(Photo: Michael Kovac via Getty Images)

In 2017, the Star Trek legend was guest hosting Have I Got News For You when he let slip that he was a Strictly fan, and had even considered signing up for it when the BBC made him an offer.

“It’s a wonderful show, it’s delightful. I wanted to [do it] at the beginning,” he explained, before cryptically adding: “And then the tone, it changed somewhat, and I thought…. yeah, I’ll pass.”

Dawn French

(Photo: David M. Benett via Getty Images)
(Photo: David M. Benett via Getty Images)

(Photo: David M. Benett via Getty Images)

On their podcast Titting Around, the Vicar Of Dibley star told comedy partner Jennifer Saunders she’d only be up for taking part on Strictly on one condition.

“If I did it, I’d want to properly dance. I’d want to be taken seriously and you can’t. At this age, you’re not taken seriously,” she claimed.

“I want the nicest dresses, the most elegant other dancer and to take it seriously, and nobody would want that.”

Jennifer agreed: ’We’re up for making people laugh. We’re not up to be laughed at, that’s the big difference.”

Dawn reiterated this point in 2022, telling Graham Norton on his talk show: “I might have been asked to do Strictly, but I fear I would be regarded as the funny one and made to do silly things.

“I take dancing seriously and I would like to do proper dancing.”

Alan Carr

(Photo: Dave J Hogan via Getty Images)
(Photo: Dave J Hogan via Getty Images)

(Photo: Dave J Hogan via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, fellow comic Alan Carr had a rather x-rated concern that led to him saying no to Strictly.

He revealed on his podcast Life’s A Beach: “I get asked about what I think about same-sex dancing and I say no… I say no because I’d get a lob on if I dance with Aljaž [Škorjanec] or Gorka [Marquez].

“If I get on a bus, the vibrations make me hard. So doing the Argentine tango, forget it – that’s a sexy dance.”

He did agree with Dawn in a previous interview with Radio Times, though, insisting: “They always ask me to do Strictly and I say no because I want to be sexy doing the Argentine tango; I don’t want to be a joke.”

Nadiya Hussain

(Photo: MelMedia via Getty Images)
(Photo: MelMedia via Getty Images)

(Photo: MelMedia via Getty Images)

Unlike fellow Bake Off winner John Whaite, Nadiya declined Strictly’s offer to learn to dance, as she simply loves the show too much.

“I got asked to do Strictly, but I said no,” she told The Guardian. “I love the idea, but have no rhythm and I enjoy watching it too much; once you see how a programme works from the inside, it changes how you see it. That’s why I can’t watch Bake Off like I used to.”

Mary Berry 

(Photo: Jeff Spicer via Getty Images)
(Photo: Jeff Spicer via Getty Images)

(Photo: Jeff Spicer via Getty Images)

Nadiya’s pal, former Bake Off judge Mary, has also turned down multiple offers from Strictly.

“My husband and children would kill me!” she told Radio Times in 2016. “I have two left feet and would make a terrible fool of myself.”

Alan Titchmarsh

(Photo: Samir Hussein via Getty Images)
(Photo: Samir Hussein via Getty Images)

(Photo: Samir Hussein via Getty Images)

Gardening expert Alan said he prefers a cosy night in front of the box to being on it these days.

“I’ve been asked to go on both Strictly and I’m A Celebrity and you won’t see me on either,” he insisted in 2021

“I’m very flattered to have been asked, but all things considered, I’d rather sit down and watch Doc Martin, which my children call ‘old fogey television’. I’m happy to be an old fogey.”

Maya Jama

(Photo: David M. Benett via Getty Images)
(Photo: David M. Benett via Getty Images)

(Photo: David M. Benett via Getty Images)

Back in 2018, the Glow Up host revealed she declined the opportunity to appear on Strictly as she felt she’d be one of the lesser-known contestants.

“I don’t think now is the right time, maybe later in life,” she told Good Morning Britain.

Two years later, she told Hello! magazine: “I love a dance, so I wouldn’t say no forever.”

Greg James

(Photo: David Levenson via Getty Images)
(Photo: David Levenson via Getty Images)

(Photo: David Levenson via Getty Images)

During 2020’s “pandemic” series, several celebs who’d previously turned Strictly down because they were too busy found themselves with a freer schedule, and therefore signed up.

However, Greg was not one of them.

Although Strictly did make him an offer, the Radio 1 host said the last 12 months had left him “too tired” to say yes.

Kate Humble 

Kate Humble (Photo: TV Times via Getty Images)
Kate Humble (Photo: TV Times via Getty Images)

Kate Humble (Photo: TV Times via Getty Images)

Unlike many of the stars on this list, the Springwatch host got pretty far through the process of trying out for Strictly, only to change her mind when things started getting a little bit too real.

“My agent phoned me up to tell me Strictly wanted me to do the show,” she told The Mirror in 2017. “I hooted with laughter at the thought and then went back in to tell the Springwatch team what I had been asked to do. They looked at me and said ‘you have to do Strictly’. It started to make me wonder if I was being really stupid as it is such a great show.”

Kate continued: “When we got to the meeting, the more talk there was of sequins, make-up and It Takes Two, the more I could feel myself pouring with sweat… I was literally about to have a panic attack at the thought of wearing make-up and dresses! My agent realised and gently put her hand on my knee as if to say ‘it’s OK, don’t worry’.”

Matt Willis

(Photo: Mike Lewis Photography via Getty Images)
(Photo: Mike Lewis Photography via Getty Images)

(Photo: Mike Lewis Photography via Getty Images)

The Busted star told OK! magazine in 2021 that he’d rebuffed Strictly every time they came knocking due to the “pressure” of being on live TV.

“The idea of Strictly terrifies me,” he admitted. “I’ve been asked a few times and always said no. Can you imagine standing there and suddenly you hear: ‘Tonight, dancing the cha-cha-cha, it’s Matt Willis!’

“You know something like 12 million people are watching – no thanks.”

However, it doesn’t sound like Matt had much choice in the matter.

His wife Emma Willis claimed in 2016: “He’s an amazing dancer… but I don’t want him grinding against hot women. I do get jealous, but I think that’s normal.”

Noel Edmonds  

(Photo: Clive Mason via Getty Images)
(Photo: Clive Mason via Getty Images)

(Photo: Clive Mason via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, it seems Noel also couldn’t shake the infamous Strictly “curse” from his mind when the BBC came knocking.

He previously claimed: “I have been asked to do Strictly. [Noel’s wife] is a fully-trained singer and dancer and a couple of years ago she said, ‘Why don’t we cheat? Why don’t we say you’re a novice and I’ll teach you before’.

“Then I think there was one of those curse moments and I said to her, ‘Are you comfortable with me spending five or six days a week with a half-naked woman draped all over me?’ And it’s funny how the conversation just changed.”

He added: “I would be a cross between Ann Widdecombe and John Sergeant. But in my head I’m Fred Astaire. I don’t know why, nothing works — it’s hopeless, so I’d never do it.”

Louis Walsh

(Photo: Anthony Devlin via Getty Images)
(Photo: Anthony Devlin via Getty Images)

(Photo: Anthony Devlin via Getty Images)

Back in the days when X Factor and Strictly were still considered TV rivals, long-serving judge Louis admitted that there was a time he came close to jumping ship, during one of his and Simon Cowell’s numerous spats.

He told Heat magazine in 2007: “The funny thing was, the day before the call from The X Factor [asking him to return], I got a call to be a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing! I thought: ‘I’d love to do it, just to annoy Simon!’.”

Michelle Keegan

(Photo: Neil Mockford via Getty Images)
(Photo: Neil Mockford via Getty Images)

(Photo: Neil Mockford via Getty Images)

Undoubtedly one of the most-rumoured celebs in Strictly history, Michelle is named in the press as a potential contestant pretty much every single year, but has never actually made it into the ballroom yet.

“I have [been asked] a few times,” she told Jonathan Ross in 2021. “But for me, it’s the live audience… it’s a skill. It takes a lot of dedication and skill.

“[Mark Wright, Michelle’s husband] did it, like, five years ago. It’s the music before it happens and the audience is really quiet and the lights come on. My heart was in my mouth for him. I couldn’t be on the dance floor, I’d be too scared, too nervous.”

Gordon Ramsay

(Photo: NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(Photo: NurPhoto via Getty Images)

(Photo: NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Although the TV chef’s daughter Tilly Ramsay made a big impression on Strictly in 2021, the man himself is less keen to take part, even refusing a one-off appearance in the Christmas special.

“I would love to do it, though,” he admitted. “Secretly, I’d love to do it. I’ve always wanted to dance.”

Noel Gallagher

(Photo: Jim Dyson via Getty Images)
(Photo: Jim Dyson via Getty Images)

(Photo: Jim Dyson via Getty Images)

This is a tough one to imagine, but the former Oasis star was contacted about taking part during what he described as his period of “not doing anything”.

“It was just when Oasis split up and I didn’t do anything for like a couple of years,” he recalled to BBC Radio 6. “There’s obviously someone there going ‘You know what. He’ll be up for it now. He’ll be desperate now’.

“My manager called me up, saying I don’t really want to, legally, I have to inform you of this. Are you aware of Strictly Come Dancing?’. ‘Eeeeeeee, the phone goes’.”

Meghan Markle

(Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty Images)
(Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty Images)

(Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo via Getty Images)

OK, we’d probably take this one with a pinch of salt, but it was too good not to include anyway.

In Tom Bower’s book Revenge: Meghan, Harry And The War Between The Windsors, the author claimed that the future Duchess of Sussex first travelled to the UK in 2013, where she apparently set up an audition for Strictly.

Unfortunately, she was still acting in Suits at the time, and her schedule – which required her to be in the US for nine months out of the year – meant she had to “reluctantly” decline.

Strictly Come Dancing returns for its landmark 20th series in September.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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