Strictly Come Dancing has ‘signed up’ blind celebrity for 2024 series

Strictly Come Dancing has reportedly signed up its first contestant for 2024 – and it will mark a historic first for the series.

The BBC competition, which has found itself in hot water due to alleged complaints against professional dancer Giovanni Pernice, is set to return in September for its 22nd series.

With just three months to go until the show comes back, producers are hard at work trying to sign up the stars who will be competing to take home the Glitterball trophy, following in the footseps of Ellie Leach, Hamza Yassin and Rose Ayling-Ellis.

The first star is believed to have been selected, with The Sun reporting Chris McCausland will be a contestant on the 2024 series.

McCausland, 46, is a comedian and CBeebies actor, and his appearance would mark a first for Strictly as he is blind. The star lost his sight when he was 22 due to a hereditary condition called retinitis pigmentosa.

His booking would follow Ayling-Ellis’s victory in 2021; the EastEnders star, who was partnered with Pernice, was the first deaf contestant to appear on the show.

While his appearance is unconfirmed., a source said:”bosses are delighted by the signing and think Chris will be great on the show” as “he has a hilarious sense of humour and an infectious personality”.

They added that producers are “really keen to showcase disability on TV and are conscious of how important it is”, adding that McCausland “is determined to show it won’t hold him back on the ballroom dance floor”.

The BBC declined to comment on the report, calling it “speculation”.

As well as being a comedian, McCausland plays Rudi, the market trader, in CBeebies show Me Too! and previously appeared on Channel 4 series Scared of the Dark.

Chris McCausland is reportedly the first 2024 ‘Strictly’ star (Getty Images for BAUER)
Chris McCausland is reportedly the first 2024 ‘Strictly’ star (Getty Images for BAUER)

For the show, he spoke openly about his experience of going blind, saying that “when it started happening it was scary and embarrassing”.

He added: “I got myself into bad situations because I didn’t want to ask for help. I will never be on a level playing field with everyone else.”

McCausland, who is married and has a 10-year-old daughter, explained that he can “still see light and space” and has “an awareness of the space around me, not in terms of objects and things, but in terms of the room and whether there might be something in front of me”>

He also said at the time he does not want to “bang viewers over the head” with his blindness, stating: “It’s great that there’s people coming through who are able to represent disability while also having the experience to do the job properly. There’s no point fast-tracking performers on to TV before they’re ready.

“My attitude has always been to represent by not banging you over the head. I think the best way to represent a disability is to make people forget about it whenever possible. It’s always part of you.

Chris McCausland would be ‘Strictly’s first-ever blind contestant (Getty Images)
Chris McCausland would be ‘Strictly’s first-ever blind contestant (Getty Images)

“But if you can do a show where, say, 80 per cent of it isn’t about being blind, that makes it more impactful and funnier when you do talk about it. I believe in representation within the mainstream.