Angela Scanlon: The Irish presenter and style icon’s journey to the Strictly dancefloor

Strictly Come Dancing is back, and among this year’s star-studded you’ll find Angela Scanlon, one of the 15 celebrities pointing their toes and shaking their hips on the 21st series of BBC’s long-running dance competition.

Born in County Meath, Ireland, to a father who worked in construction and mother who worked in administration, Scanlon, 39, began her career as a journalist specialising in fashion.

But before then, aged 18, Scanlon was a dancer with the O’Shea Irish Dance Company. As a member of the troupe, Scanlon performed in the show Irish Thunder on tour in the US. This information has already frustrated some Strictly fans, many of whom claim that celebrities with previous dance experience have an unfair advantage on the show.

However, Scanlon did not pursue a career in dance. She always had a keen interest in fashion, and she began her career working as a stylist and journalist.

As a writer, she penned a weekly fashion column for the Irish Independent’s weekend supplement, with additional bylines in Tatler, Grazia and The Sunday Times Style. Her broadcasting career began also in the fashion sphere, with Scanlon hosting fashion shows for Ireland’s national broadcaster RTÉ around 2012. She quickly branched out into other presenting roles on the channel, including on popular entertainment series The Saturday Night Show with Brendan O’Connor circa 2013 and 2014.

Around this time, Scanlon also kicked off her career as a documentary maker with the 2014 project Oi Ginger! about the way redheads are treated by society. Over the years, she has also made documentaries on subjects including Donald Trump and Tourette’s Syndrome.

Scanlon moved from Ireland to the UK in 2016 when she was unceremoniously “sacked” from the holiday show Getaways, in what she later called her “Sliding Doors” moment.

“It sounds like I packed my bags and headed for London. I didn’t have a job so I left,” she told presenter Tommy Bowe in 2022. “I was sacked from Getaways. I mean, gently, it wasn’t like I did anything particularly [wrong].” Asked why she was fired, Scanlon said: “I don’t know, I never got told. It was just not the right fit anymore.”

Fortunately for Scanlon, the presenter’s career flourished when she moved to London. She became a Garnier ambassador and presented across the BBC, hosting an early morning show on Sundays on Radio 2 from 2018 to 2021.

From 2016 to 2018, Scanlon was also the co-host of rebooted competition series Robot Wars with stand-up comedian Dara Ó Briain. At the time, the Irish comic was the host of Mock the Week, but had also fronted a number of science programmes due to his background studying mathematics and theoretical physics.

In a recent interview, Scanlon explained that she had felt “very much out of her comfort zone in terms of the subject” while presenting, seeing herself as “the newcomer, the rookie” next to a “massively established name” like Ó Briain.

Hosting ‘Your Home Made Perfect' (BBC / Remarkable TV)
Hosting ‘Your Home Made Perfect' (BBC / Remarkable TV)

Scanlon claimed that she was viewed as the “glamour” of the show, alleging that one producer referred to her as the “tits and teeth” of the programme and spent time in a meeting discussing her clothing over her presenting work.

“It felt so reductive and so presumptuous that I would have arrived with my lippie on and my legs out to entertain the lads, and that was my value,” Scanlon said. “Absolutely not.”

Since then, the presenter has become best known as the host of BBC Two design programme Your Home Made Perfect and spin-off Your Garden Made Perfect. At home in Ireland, she can still be seen on screen in her popular RTÉ chat show Ask Me Anything.

Scanlon still lives in London with her husband, businessman Roy Horgan. The pair married in 2014 and have two daughters, Ruby Ellen, five, and Marnie Fae, one.

Strictly Come Dancing airs on Saturdays on BBC One from 16 September.