"I just wish my mum could be around to watch me dance. She passed away when I was 19, the year that Strictly started," says the former EastEnder of her participation in the show
Photo: © BBC
Ronnie's Wood's estranged wife Jo will also be donning sequins for the TV dance competition
Photo: © BBC
With the new series of Strictly Come Dancing just a month away, the final lineup of contestants who will be battling it out on the dance floor has been revealed.
Among the 16 celebs vying for the top spot are Jo Wood, Footballer Wives stars Zoe Lucker and Laila Rouass, and Loose Women presenter Lynda Bellingham.
Also part of the lineup is former EastEnder Natalie Cassidy, who says her late mother would be delighted by her participation in the show.
"I just wish my mum could be around to watch me dance. She passed away when I was 19, the year that Strictly started," says the actress.
"She never was able to watch the show but she would have absolutely loved me being a part of all this."
The 26-year-old, who has been teamed with Rachel Stevens' former professional partner Vincent Simone, also says she hopes taking part will stop the obsession with her weight.
"It bores me to tears. I'm just here to dance, I'm fed up with it all," she says.
Swiss tennis star Martina Hingis is favourite to win the competition.
Meanwhile dance pro Kristina Rihanoff is hoping to go all the way to the final this year with her celebrity partner, boxer Joe Calzaghe.
Last year her star partner John Sergeant quit the show after public voting kept him in for ten weeks despite his questionable dance skills.
Other men hoping to take the Strictly crown include soon to be ex-EastEnder Ricky Groves, BBC Breakfast presenter Chris Hollins, Coronation Street actor Craig Kelly, Crimewatch host Rav Wilding, and cricket ace Phil Tufnell.
Making her debut as a judge will be Alesha Dixon, who replaces Arlene Phillips - though she will be returning to the programme as a choreographer.