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.
After last week’s launch show it’s now competition time. Jason Bell tells us more about how he’s feeling about taking part…
What reaction have you had since everyone found out you’re on the show?
The reaction has been a lot of intense excitement. Everyone I know personally is excited. Everybody I work with, especially the NFL is just over the moon about it. I’ve always known the show is huge but the reaction I’ve had has confirmed that and I’ve been overwhelmed by the whole process and just really enjoying it because it feels like a celebration for everybody.
What do you think about the line-up this year?
It’s great! I love meeting people from all different backgrounds. So I’m looking at it like, I got a bunch of new best friends.
Who do you think is going to be your biggest competition?
You know, and I’m answering this honestly, I don’t think like that because of my sports background. If you start to worry about things you can’t control, it actually hurts your performance. So I’m just so focused in on what I got to do, because that’s the only thing I can control.
Why did you want to take part in Strictly?
I wanted to take part because it made me nervous. At some point, I’ve always challenged myself – sports has forced that – but when I retired and went off and did other ventures, everything I was scared of, I took that challenge on and I’ve learned something from it. I’ve learned about myself and how I operate.
Having to learn a new skill and compete and be judged by the best; it’s a lot of pressure and I think I’m gonna really hone in some skills that I didn’t know I have yet.
What are you looking for in a dance partner?
A good coach. Someone with patience and not that they have to be hard on me because I’m hard enough on myself. But don’t be scared to push me and to challenge me to go out of my comfort zone.
What do you think is going to be your biggest challenge?
Embracing the fear. It’s gonna be hard physically it’s gonna be hard mentally. It’s gonna be difficult, but thank goodness because of whoever your partner is, you have a teammate, somebody who’s teaching you, somebody with you and who cares about you having individual success as a team.
Are you in it to win it?
Yeah, I’m competitive. The longer you’re on the show, the more of an experience you get and I don’t want that to end. So obviously, you want to make it to the end because you get to be on the show and get the best out of the experience.
How do you feel about being Strictly-fied with all the sequins and glitter?
I’ve been wearing tight uniforms my whole life (laughs). I’ve been putting face paint on to block the sun and all kinds of stuff. I’m ready for it. It’s gonna be fun. The show has the greatest stylist and costume designers in the country, you just got to let them do their thing.
Well, speaking of your past life, would you rather lift the Super Bowl or the glitter ball trophy?
Oh, gosh. Oh, that’s tough. That is tough. Can I go with both? One in each hand? That’s what my former teammate Emmitt Smith did. He won Super Bowl and the glitterball trophy.
Who’s the first person you told you were doing Strictly?
Nadine (Coyle) my daughter’s mother. She just kind of looked at me for a minute. She’s not very quick to tell you her opinion, she listens to all the facts. So when I told her, she just was like, are you sure your back can do it? I talk to her all the time about preparing for dance routines and stuff like that, and how long does it take and what do you need to do. She’s an expert, so I’m lucky because of that.
Who out of your friends and family are most excited about you being on the show?
Osi (Umenyiora), who I do the NFL Show with couldn’t be more excited. Every time we get on the phone, he just starts yelling at the top of his lungs something about strictly I mean, it’s out of control. And my mum, she’s just so happy. She’s in the States, she was supposed to be out here, obviously can’t travel because of all the restrictions. But I’m hoping things settle down so she can come out here and be able to watch it on television because she is so proud.
Do you have a favourite competitor from previous years or from Dancing with the Stars in the States?
I love Ore (Oduba) who won. I was watching with my daughter who was really young then. Watching him, he looked like he was having so much fun he was just flying all over the place.
Also Kelvin (Fletcher) who won last year. When I watched him last he looked like he was in crazy shape, the energy, he looked really athletic out there and I thought that was super cool.
Don’t miss Strictly, Saturday nights on BBC One. Stream via iPlayer.