JJ Chalmers
TV

Strictly 2020: Who is JJ Chalmers and how does he know Prince Harry?

From former marine in Afghanistan to Strictly Come Dancing contestant, JJ Chalmers might just have what it takes to win...

| Updated:

Strictly Come Dancing’s undoubted hero has to be Scottish former marine JJ Chalmers – short for John James – who went on to compete in the Invictus Games.

Will he do Prince Harry proud and win Strictly?

Who is JJ Chalmers?

John James Chalmers is a former marine turned TV presenter, public speaker and Invictus Games medallist. He is participating in Strictly 2020.

He was born on December 20, 1986, and grew up in Renton, Scotland, where his father was the minister of Renton Trinity Church and moderator of the Church of Scotland between 2014-2015.

JJ graduated from the University of Edinburgh a Bachelor of Education in 2009 and went on to become a craft, design and technology teacher at Balerm Community School in Edinburgh.

jj chalmers lorraine
Chalmers recently appeared on Lorraine to discuss joining Strictly (Credit: ITV)

Read more: Strictly Come Dancing plans moving TV special tribute to Caroline Flack

How did JJ get injured?

JJ was a Lance Corporal in the marines in 2011. He was wounded by an IED, during operations in Afghanistan.

In a blast that claimed the lives of two of his friends.

He suffered injuries to his arms and legs, lost two fingers and was left with scars on his face and chest, where one arm was temporarily grafted to his body.

For the first five years after the blast he admits that he struggled to fight back but eventually began to regain his confidence.

I went from the most independent guy in the world to nothing. My body was wrecked and I was just a head in a hospital bed.

“My hands were smashed up, my arm was sewn into my stomach and I felt like I’d never walk again. I couldn’t imagine going home.

“When I finally did, I had no idea how to live or what I could do that I’d care about as much as the marines, which was everything to me.

“It’s only when I look back that I realise how lost I was.”

Strictly JJ Chalmers
Does JJ Chalmers have what it takes to go far in Strictly? (Credit: BBC)

Read more: Strictly Come Dancing: Jamie Laing is confident he will win this year

He says that watching the Paralympics in 2012 inspired him to believe that life could be better.

“There are things in this world to be miserable about, but there’s a lot to be damn happy about – and that, to me, is what the Paralympics is all about,” he told The Sun.

“It’s about saying ‘I won’t allow the [bleep] part of this to define me. I’m going to use it to make me stronger and I’m going to become a champion’.”

Is JJ Chalmers friends with Prince Harry?

JJ met Harry in June 2014 at a rehabilitation triathlon and the pair became firm friends.

The same year, the ginger royal persuaded the plucky former marine to enter the first Invictus Games.

He ended up winning a non-amputee cycling event, bronze in the 1-mile time trial and a bronze in the 4x100m mixed relay race.

Prince Harry invited JJ and his wife to the Royal Wedding in 2018.

“I’m just happy my friend is settling down with somebody,” he said of Harry’s marriage. “So many of our other friends are all settled down and have kids, so he needs to catch up.

How did JJ Chalmers move into TV?

JJ moved into TV presenting in 2014, Prince Harry recruited him to help promote The Invictus Games.

However, his big break came in 2016 when he persuaded Channel 4 bosses to give him a chance to co-host their coverage of the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics.

“I told Channel 4 I would love to be part of this, but I didn’t expect a presenting job,” he said. “I think my enthusiasm came across though, and they decided to take a punt.

“And it has been the biggest eye-opener. I’ll never change what happened to me but my life now is about the silver lining.”

He went on to host The People Remember, a series honouring heroes both on the battlefield and the home front, and has been a regular co-commentator for the BBC’s coverage of the Lord Mayor’s Show.

JJ also joined seven celebrities, including Neil Morrissey and Debbie McGee on the show The Pilgrimage: Road to Santiago, which saw them recreating a medieval pilgrimage, across the North of Spain.

Read more: Strictly Come Dancing: Tamzin Outhwaite admits it’s a ‘box she wants to tick’

The Pilgrimage: Road to Santiago with JJ Chalmers
JJ Chalmers took part in The Pilgrimage: Road to Santiago (Credit: BBC)

Who is JJ Chalmer’s wife?

JJ Chalmers married his wife Kornelia Chitursko back in 2015, with whom he has a daughter called Hayley.

Chalmers calls his wife ” unbelievably supportive”.

“I’m hoping that what I do now will make her proud for the rest of her life.”

Strictly is back on Saturday 17 October with 12 celebrities aiming to impress the judges

Do you think JJ Chalmers has what it takes to go far in Strictly? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.