Olympic boxer Nicola Adams will make Strictly Come Dancing history by becoming the first contestant to be part of a same-sex pairing.
She told BBC Breakfast she was the one who suggested having a female partner when producers asked her to take part.
“I think it’s really important,” she said. “It’s definitely time for change.
“It’s definitely time to move on and be more diverse, and this is a brilliant step in the right direction.” Her dance partner has not yet been revealed.
Adams said she didn’t mind who she’s paired up with, but added: “I’d only be wanting somebody who’s maybe a little bit on the short side because I’m a little bit small.”
She told Breakfast: “It will be nice for the LGBT community to be able to see there are same-sex couples on the show as well.”
Adams won a gold medal for Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics, and again in Rio in 2016. She retired from the sport last year.
Asked whether the idea to have a female partner came from her or the show’s producers, she explained: “I asked the show about it. They wanted to know if I wanted to be on the show and I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it, but I want to dance with another female dance partner.'”
Strictly has previously featured two male professionals dancing together in a one-off routine, when Johannes Radebe and Graziano di Prima performed to Emeli Sande’s Shine last year.
Some applauded the show for the routine, but the BBC received 189 complaints from viewers who found it offensive.
Adams will be the first celebrity to be part of a same-sex couple in the BBC One show’s 16-year history.
Singer Will Young, who took part in Strictly in 2016, welcomed the news. “I think it’s fantastic, as long as it’s done in the right way and it’s not done in a sensationalised way, in a sort of cursory way, which I’m sure it won’t be,” he told Breakfast.
Those applauding the move on Twitter included 2018 Strictly champion Stacey Dooley, fellow former contestant Dr Ranj Singh, and ice skater Matt Evers.
Earlier this year, Evers was part of the first same-sex couple on ITV’s Dancing On Ice, along with pop star Ian Watkins – better known as H from Steps.
In July, there were reports that Westlife star Mark Feehily would be part of a same-sex pairing on Strictly this year. So far, six celebrities have been confirmed.
Adams will join Clara Amfo, Max George, Ranvir Singh, Caroline Quentin and Jason Bell on the dancefloor.
“I can’t dance at all, so this is going to be a totally new challenge for me,” Adams said. “The only thing I’ve been doing is TikToks, and that’s about as far as my dancing goes.”
The 18th series of Strictly will begin in October but will be shorter than usual, and judge Bruno Tonioli will have a reduced role amid coronavirus restrictions.