Inside the secret code names given to Strictly stars – from dogs to fruits


STRICTLY Come Dancing’s line-up is one of the most fiercely-guarded secrets by the BBC every year before it is official unveiled.

In a bid to try and keep the identities of the dancing stars on the hit show under wraps, bosses go to extreme lengths – including giving the contestants secret code names.

Contestants such as Fleur East are given code names to protect their identity before the show launches

They use this mysterious monikers internally to try and stop any leaks prior to their grand unveiling.

Over the years the powers that be have come up with increasingly creative code names, which often follow different themes each year.

Here we take a look at some of the cunning codes they have used behind the scenes…

2016: Shakespeare characters

Louise was known as Portia behind the scenes

The 2016 cast of Strictly were named after characters coined by the Bard himself.

Louise Redknapp was known as Portia, the beautiful heroine in The Merchant of Venice.

BBC Breakfast’s Naga Munchetty was given the name Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing, while Laura Whitmore asked if she could go by the villainous Lady Macbeth.

Chatting to Nick Grimshaw on the Radio 1 Breakfast Show, Laura said: “I asked for Lady Macbeth. I didn’t really think about it because then there’s a car outside your house and it’s for Lady Macbeth!”

2017: Classical characters

Alexandra went by Aphrodite

Five years ago, the cast took on the names of the Gods and heroes from Greek myth.

Alexandra Burke was known as Aphrodite behind the scenes, while Debbie McGee was given the name Circe, otherwise known as the goddess of sorcery.

It was an apt choice, given she is the widow of magician Paul Daniels.

Good Morning Britain’s Charlotte Hawkins had a code name that was also fitting for her early hours job.

She was called Aurora, the goddess of dawn, while Gemma Atkinson went by Athena.

2018: Cheesy twist

Claudia teased the cheesy names

Producers really had some fun back in 2018, naming the contestants after various types of cheese.

Host Claudia Winkleman teased fans by revealing that the cast would go by all different flavours of fromage.

Claudia said that the person named Wensleydale was “nice, northern and creamy” – and it later transpired that this was Radio 1 DJ Vick Hope.

Seann Walsh, currently on I’m A Celebrity, went by Gouda, while Stacey Dooley was known as Cheddar.

Katie Piper, however, was called Brie, which Claudia described as “better than Stilton” and “not too smelly”.

2019: Superheroes

Saffron earned the moniker Supergirl

Superheroes were the order of the day to keep everyone under the radar three years ago.

David James was known as the Hulk, thanks the the footballer’s strapping frame.

YouTube sensation Saffron Barker was Supergirl, while funny man Chris Ramsey lucked out with Banana Man.

EastEnders star Emma Barton was named after Mystique, the X-Men baddy.

2020: Getting Fruity

Maisie and co went by various fruits

It was all about the healthy options in 2020, with the code names taking inspiration from the fruit bowl.

Maisie Smith, Nicola Adams and Jamie Laing were among the cast that year who got citrussy nicknames.

By the time they were all revealed, the names were long forgotten and it was Bill Bailey who was named the eventual champion.

2021: Cartoon favourites

Tom shared a name with his son

Last year’s bunch got the animation treatment.

McFly’s Tom Fletcher was known as Buzz Lightyear – the same name he gave his son with wife Giovanna.

Marge Simpson was chosen for AJ Odudu, while Robert Webb was given Spongebob Squarepants.

Among the other stars in the mix were Dan Walker and Katie McGlynn.

The eventual winner, however, was Rose Ayling Ellis.

2022: Dog Breeds

Kaye was called the Scottish Terrier

It was like an episode of Crufts behind the scenes this year as bosses chose dog breeds to disguise the mystery stars.

Kaye Adams, who was first out, went by the Scottish Terrier, referring to her nationality, while Fleur East was a Husky, due to her husky vocals.

Ellie Simmonds was known as a Golden Retriever due to her blonde mane.