How to watch Strictly Come Dancing online and stream the launch show for free from anywhere

Put your dancing shoes on, get a spray tan, add some sparkle, and watch Strictly Coming Dancing online as it returns tonight with its launch show

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 celebrity contestants
(Image credit: BBC)

The celebrity contestants have been revealed. It's about time we found out who they'll be taking to the ballroom with this year. Make sure you know exactly how to watch the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 launch show for free and from anywhere.

As the nights draw in and the inevitable countdown to Christmas begins (sorry, not sorry), it's a sure-sign that celebrities we know and love will be working on their footwork, finding their rhythm, and hip rolling as they compete to raise the Strictly Glitter Ball above their heads come the final.

This year's gaggle of 15 contestants includes soap stars Rose Ayling-Ellis and Nina Wadia representing Albert Square, going head to head with Katie McGlynn from the cobbles (that's Coronation Street for less British-soap versed individuals). Meanwhile, there's definitely such a thing as too many chefs in the kitchen as Gordon Ramsey's daughter Tilly brings the heat alongside season 3 Bake-Off winner John Whaite.

With Tom Fletcher being the last of the McFly boys to hit the dance floor, many will be keen to see who he's partnered up with as we watch the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 launch show. Keep reading to find out how you can catch the action, and even use a VPN while abroad to make sure you don't miss a beat.

What time can I watch Strictly Come Dancing in the UK?

Find out who the 2021 celebrities will be partnering up with as the Strictly Come Dancing launch show sashays onto our screens at 7.45pm BST on Saturday, September 18.

The following week on September 25 will then see the 15 contestants take to the dance floor for their first scored performance at 7pm BST.

How to watch Strictly Come Dancing 2021 in the UK

Once again, the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom finds its home on linear TV channel, BBC One, which is free-to-air with a valid TV license. 

Whether you want to watch Strictly Come Dancing online live or on catch-up, you can do so over on BBC iPlayer.

No need to be limited to watching on your desktop either. iPlayer is available to watch on a number of devices, including:

  • Smart TVs: JVC, Philips, LG, Polaroid, Panasonic, Samsung 
  • Desktop: Windows, Mac
  • Mobile: iOS, Android
  • Media streamers: Amazon Fire TV, Now TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku
  • Consoles: Xbox One, PS4

How to watch Strictly Come Dancing if you're abroad

From the UK, but currently abroad? You can still watch Strictly Come Dancing 2021 with our best VPN pick, and relish in all the home comforts of the Beeb. iPlayer locks its content to UK viewers only, but with the powers that be - namely the aforementioned VPN - you can easily quickstep away from those geo-blocks.

With most VPN providers offering thousands of servers to choose from, all you need to do is connect to a server within the UK to switch your IP and appear as if you're watching from home as usual while you're away. Just make sure you use a streaming VPN that actually works with successfully unblocking iPlayer.

Of course, we're happy to recommend the VPN that we think would raise the glitter ball...

ExpressVPN - Watch Strictly Come Dancing wherever you are with the best VPN

ExpressVPN - Watch Strictly Come Dancing wherever you are with the best VPN
Able to successfully unlock BBC iPlayer's extensive library of British entertainment and beyond, ExpressVPN also boasts fabulous security features on top of its geo-unblocking talents. As the champion of VPNs, its speed and device compatibility certainly gives it the right to strut its stuff as our recommended provider.

Sign up now and snatch ExpressVPN's annual plan, where you'll receive an additional 3 months free, as well as benefitting from its 30-day money back guarantee.

- Give ExpressVPN a try with its 100% money back guarantee

Strictly Come Dancing title

(Image credit: BBC)

How to watch Strictly Come Dancing online elsewhere

Unfortunately, with the US and the like having their own variations of the show, there are no official broadcasters for the 2021 series of Strictly Come Dancing outside of the UK. However, if you happen to be abroad and want to access BBC iPlayer, you can download a VPN to bypass geo-restrictions and stream as if you were in the UK.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021 contestants

  • Adam Peaty (Olympic swimmer)
  • AJ Odudu (TV presenter)
  • Dan Walker (presenter)
  • Greg Wise (actor)
  • John Whaite (chef)
  • Judi Love (comedian and TV presenter)
  • Katie McGlynn (actress)
  • Nina Wadia (comedian and actress)
  • Rhys Stephenson (actor and children's TV presenter)
  • Robert Webb (comedian)
  • Rose Ayling-Ellis (actress)
  • Sara Davies (business entrepreneur and TV personality)
  • Tilly Ramsay (chef and social media influencer)
  • Tom Fletcher (musician and author)
  • Ugo Monye (former rugby player and TV broadcaster)

Professional dancers for Strictly Come Dancing 2021

(Image credit: BBC)

Professional dancers for Strictly Come Dancing 2021

This year, four new professional dancers join the ballroom line-up, as Anton Du Beke takes up permanent residence on the judging panel and Janette Manrara gives up her dancing shoes to co-host Strictly spin-off, It Takes Two alongside Rylan Clark-Neal.

  • Jowita Przystal
  • Kai Widdrington
  • Nikita Kuzmin
  • Cameron Lombard
  • Alijaz Skorjanec
  • Giovanni Pernice
  • Gorka Marquez
  • Graziano Di Prima
  • Johannes Radebe
  • Neil Jones
  • Amy Dowden
  • Dianne Buswell
  • Karen Hauer
  • Katya Jones
  • Luba Mushtuk
  • Nadiya Bychkova
  • Oti Mabuse
  • Nancy Xu

Strictly 2021 judges

  • Anton Du Beke
  • Craig Revel Horwood
  • Motsi Mabuse
  • Shirley Ballas

How to use a VPN to unblock any restrictions

If you're outside of your preferred broadcaster's boundaries, you can use a VPN to unblock any geo-restrictions and watch Strictly Come Dancing 2021 as if you were right at home. Here's our step-by-step guide on how to do just that.

  • VPN - standing for virtual private network - offers security and anonymity as you browse online, using set protocols to encrypt your data and make it unreadable to outsiders.
  • As a part of that, you can also switch your IP address, which identifies your location.
  • Most VPNs offer a list of locations where its servers are based to join. Connecting to them switches your IP to appear as if you're browsing from that country/city. In turn, you can then access content locked to that country.
  • When it comes to finding a VPN, you should make sure you find the best one that's suitable for your chosen device, with VPN providers offering compatibility for a ton of devices, including VPN for MacVPN for Android smartphones, an iPad VPN, and even a range of fairly nifty free VPNs.
  • Once you've made the decision for the most suitable VPN for your device and your means for using a VPN, sign-up and install it
  • To watch Strictly Come Dancing, all you need to do is select a country showing matches from its list of available servers and connect. You'll then be able to hop over geo-restrictions, with BBC iPlayer opening its online gates to you.
  • We also want to ensure your money is well spent, so we would recommend going for a VPN that offers a risk-free trial. ExpressVPN is one of many providers that has a 30-day money back guarantee.

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Alice Marshall
eCommerce Editor

Alice is eCommerce Editor at Future, with a focus on streaming services such as Disney Plus, Hulu, and HBO Max, as well as VPN. Nowadays she looks after and writes guides and how to watch articles across TechRadar and CinemaBlend. Previously a Commercial Content Writer for Trusted Reviews, Alice has worked in the eCommerce space for over five years and over two years writing about consumer tech.