Dan Walker ‘gutted’ by reports Strictly Come Dancing partner not competing this year: ‘Like putting Messi on the bench’

Dan Walker has offered support to his former Strictly Come Dancing partner Nadiya Bychkova amid reports she will not have a celebrity partner in the new series.

The Ukrainian dancer joined the BBC’s popular dance competition in 2017, placing 6th in her first year with EastEnders star Davood Ghadami.

In the years since, Bychkova has danced with Lee Ryan and David James and Dan Walker, the latter of whom she achieved her highest position of fifth place with. As one of the tallest female dancers, Bychkova is often partnered with the tallest male celebrities.

After failing to make it past the first few weeks with partner Matt Goss during last year’s competition, reports emerged this week claiming that Bychkova will not be in a couple for 2023.

The professional was reportedly “fuming” at the “devastating” news, with a source telling The Mirror: “Nadiya lives and breathes Strictly, and so to hear that she wouldn’t have a celebrity partner this year was crushing for her. She was both gutted, and very, very angry.”

Bychkova, who will still appear in Strictly’s group dances, is yet to address the reports directly.

But while she has continued to post pictures of her young daughter Mila and boyfriend Kai Widdrington, a fellow Strictly pro, on social media, fans have shared their frustration at Bychkova allegedly not receiving a partner.

Among them was Walker, who tweeted: “Looking forward to the new series of Strictly. All the pros are great but gutted that @NadiyaBychkova hasn’t got a partner. I’m sure she’s still looking forward to being part of the biggest show on TV but it feels a bit like putting Messi on the bench for the World Cup final!

“She is so talented, the best teacher anyone could hope for, a top class lobster and she’s the Yorkshire Barmaid!”

Walker’s barmaid remark referenced his hilarious 2021 clip, in which he filmed Bychkova pretending to serve him a pint and attempt a Yorkshire accent.

One fan responded: “I’m really sad for Nadiya, she is such an amazing dancer.”

“I can’t believe she hasn’t got a partner this year either,” another echoed. “Shocking! She is immensely talented,” one commenter wrote.

Nadiya Bychkova and Dan Walker on ‘Strictly Come Dancing' (BBC/Kieron McCarron)
Nadiya Bychkova and Dan Walker on ‘Strictly Come Dancing' (BBC/Kieron McCarron)

“So no celeb partner for Nadiya this series allegedly? Disappointing as I really hoped she’d have one,” one fan wrote.

The Independent has contacted the BBC for comment.

There are 15 celebrities taking part in Strictly 2023, with their pro fancer pairings to officially be announced during Saturday (16 September) night’s launch show.

The first live show will then take place on Saturday 23 September.

Strictly Come Dancing returns Sunday 16 September at 6.35pm on BBC One.