Dust off your dancing shoes, Strictly Come Dancing is waltzing back onto BBC One for its 18th series. The NTA and BAFTA award-winning entertainment show produced by BBC Studios returns with more sparkle, glitz and glamour than ever.
The celebrities strutting their stuff on the dance floor this series are Bill Bailey, Caroline Quentin, Clara Amfo, HRVY, Jacqui Smith, Jamie Laing, Jason Bell, JJ Chalmers, Maisie Smith, Max George, Nicola Adams and Ranvir Singh.
On Saturday 17th October, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman host an exclusive premiere to welcome the celebrity class of 2020 as they prepare to begin their Strictly adventure.
What’s the reaction been like since it was revealed you’re taking part?
It’s been genuinely overwhelming. I think the reaction has sort of reminded me that sincerely lovely strangers still exist! Your friends and family are always going to back you, so the kindness of people has been so lovely. I’m genuinely trying to surrender myself to the experience and just enjoy it.
Have you had any good advice from the other Radio 1 DJs that have taken part in the show?
Melvin (Odoom) did a funny thing on the radio the other day; he said “Don’t be too good in the first week!” That was said very tongue in cheek! Dev (Griffin) said “You have to give yourself to it and enjoy it” and Vick (Hope) said the same thing. Mollie (King) was one of the first people to message me – she sent me a voice note singing the Strictly theme song! Basically every single person at Radio 1, all they’ve done is sing the theme tune. That’s all I’m going to hear from my team now!
What do you think of the line-up?
The magic twelve! It’s a strong group and there are definitely some dark horses in there! I reckon Jamie Laing is absolutely going to be one to watch, 100%! I can only imagine how frustrating it must have been for him last year! You are absolutely going to come back with fire in your belly. So I think Jamie is definitely one to watch for sure.
What dance style are you looking forward to most?
I think Latin over Ballroom for me. Ballroom scares the hell out of me, because I only accepted about a year or two ago that I’m quite a clumsy person. I think there isn’t a week where I don’t bang my elbow like on the door or step on a plug or hit my knee on something. For me to be graceful takes a lot of concentration.
What previous contestants stand out for you?
There are so many, but I thought Jay McGuinness and Aliona Vilani were fantastic. He had a great story as well. His ascension was wicked! I remember watching it and when he was announced as the winner and the shock on his face. I loved their Salsa to Cuba by the Gibson Brothers. I love that era of music.
What was the main reason you wanted to take part in the show?
I just think it’s just unadulterated joy that everyone loves. I want to just surrender myself into it. It’s an absolute fantasy world. I just want to be able to just throw myself in and literally pretend to be a dancer and then hopefully learn to be one in the process.
What are you looking for in a dance partner?
I’m very much a chemistry person. First and foremost, I think the basis of any good partnership is just a decent friendship. I want someone who is going to push me – I don’t want someone to go easy with me. I want fun to be the pinnacle of what we do, but I’m not afraid of hard work.
When it comes to the glam side, how do you feel about being Strictly-fied?
I’m a late sequins fan! I only got into wearing sequins a few years ago. My mate is a designer and lent me this sequinned red dress and I was like, “Oh, OK right I get it; I get what all the fuss is about.” So I’m definitely a sequin convert.
Who is the first person that you told when you signed up for the show?
The first person I told, besides Grimmy [Nick Grimshaw] by accident, I think was my brothers. We’re in a group chat so I think I told them first! The thing about my family which is really good is that everyone’s proud of me, but I don’t get any kind of special treatment. So it’s just like “Cool wicked like, well done we’ll be cheering you on.”
How would they rate your dancing?
The thing is I know they’re going to make fun of me! If I get to try a Jive or if I get to try like a Rumba, I know they’re going to laugh at me. The Jive is so energetic and so animated, that they’ll find that very entertaining but then the Rumba… knowing my brothers that is such a sensual dance that they’ll be like “I can’t watch!”
How does your mum feel about you taking part?
She is excited. She will absolutely have an opinion on what I wear there is no doubt about that!
Are you competitive/ in it to win it?
To win it would be an absolute dream. It’s just such a privilege and it’s such a joy to be in the show, it’s this once in a lifetime thing. So for me, at the risk of sounding cheesy, I’m just genuinely happy to be there. Of course, I would love to last as long as I can.