Strictly 2020 finalist and former EastEnders star Maisie Smith will be joining the celebrity line-up for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing Live UK Tour which kicks off on 20 January for 33 scintillating shows across the country.

Maisie, who will dance with Strictly pro Kai Widdrington, will replace AJ Odudu who has had to withdraw from the tour on medical advice following an injury to her foot last December.

Maisie said: “I’m thrilled to be asked to restart my Strictly journey on this year’s arena tour.  Kai and I will be dancing the Quickstep and the Samba – I can’t wait for rehearsals to start next week.  It will be a joy to dance with everyone and so great to see my EastEnders friend Rose again.  I wish AJ a speedy recovery.”

AJ Odudu said: “I’m devastated not to be able to take part in the Strictly tour due to injury. I had hoped for one last dance with Kai, but I must obviously follow the medical advice. I wish my Strictly family the very best of luck on the road and I’ll definitely be there to cheer them on.

Maisie and Kai will join Strictly 2021 winners Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice, alongside Sara Davies and Aljaž Skorjanec, Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin, Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu, John Whaite and Johannes Radebe, and Max George and Katya Jones.

Rose Ayling-Ellis said: “I have loved every minute of my Strictly journey so far, so to be able to continue it on the live tour next year is so exciting! I can’t wait to perform live in front of all the fans who have supported me through this incredible series.”

Sara Davies said: “I loved my Strictly experience – it was my absolute dream to take part in and, as viewers saw, I wasn’t quite ready for it to end. Going on tour will give me the chance to dance with Aljaž again – who has told me what an amazing experience it is. To meet the fans and perform in from of a live audience – will be the icing on the cake for me – I can’t wait!” 

Max George said: “I’m buzzing to be invited to join the Strictly tour.  I know how exciting it is to perform in front the huge arena audiences – it’s incredible.  And this time I get to dance with Katya (who’s a fave of mine) – roll on January, it’s gonna be sick!!!”

Tilly Ramsay said: “‘Taking part in Strictly over the last 10 weeks was the best! A life changing experience where I learnt to dance and made friends for life.  I’m so excited to now have the opportunity to be a part of the Strictly tour.  I’m going to take all the fun from the TV studio to the venues around the country and I can’t wait to dance with a real live audience!  See you there!’

Rhys Stephenson said: “I cannot think of a better way to start the New Year! It will be fantastic to get my dancing shoes back on after Christmas and perform live in all those iconic venues.”

John Whaite said: “I’m so excited to continue this sparkling journey with Johannes on the Strictly tour! More sheer tops, more spray tans and more tight trousers? YES PLEASE!”

As well as the couples’ dances, fans will have the chance to see some breathtaking group performances throughout the show. Professional dancers Nadiya Bychkova, Amy Dowden, Neil Jones, Jake Leigh, Cameron Lombard, Luba Mushtuk and Jowita Przystal will be bringing even more wow to this super-sized dance extravaganza, which features live music from the Strictly singers and band.

The previously announced Live Tour judging panel of Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli; together with new tour host Janette Manrara, make this a sparkling line-up for the whole family not to be missed.