Strictly Come Dancing | Backstage with the Judges

Strictly Come Dancing | The Judges

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Darcey Bussell was announced as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing earlier this year, and has recently talked about her expectations of the series.

So, what do the other judges – Len Goodman, Craig-Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli make of Darcey ? Let’s start with Head Judge, Len Goodman.

Darcey Bussell, Len Goodman - (C) BBC - Photographer: BBC

Darcey Bussell, Len Goodman – (C) BBC

What’s the single best thing you love about Strictly Len?

It’s great to be a part of such a successful television programme, and one that as far as I’m concerned has a charm about it like Strictly has I think.

And what’s the toughest thing about being part of the show?

The toughest thing regarding the judging is if you have to be critical, I like to try and do it in a positive way. I like to find the positives first and if there are negatives mention them after. I don’t like the way some judges brutalise people and just go for the jugular with negative, negative, negative. There’s always something you can commend someone on however bad it is, even if you just say ‘well you came out and you gave it your best shot’. You’ve got to find the positives for someone, and then I sometimes get grumpy with Craig when he just goes for the critical all the time, I don’t like that – I don’t think it’s right. You’ve got to admire the celebrities, they’re attempting something that most of them have never done before and you’ve got to give them a little bit of praise for that, and if you don’t I think it’s deplorable.

Darcey Bussell is joining the panel this year, how do you think she’ll be as a judge?

Well you can’t knock Darcey’s credentials as a dancer, which I think is marvellous. I think she’ll bring a different element to the judging because of her ballet training. She’ll be looking for musicality, lyrical movement, things like that which sometimes us three tend to gloss over a little bit. I think she’s going to be terrific.

You and Craig often disagree on things, are you sworn enemies or is it all good natured?

I think Craig is a charming chap, I like him very much, and I get on well with him. When we’re on the tour we have lots of fun and we go off to lunch together all the time, but sometimes I disagree with his critiques, in the same way he probably disagrees with mine. We’ve all got dance backgrounds but they’re slightly different. I don’t like it when he just attacks people, and I just try to defend them. I don’t like bullies, and a bully is someone who attacks someone who can’t defend themselves. I know they can (defend themselves) those celebrities but quite often they don’t and they just stand there and take it, and I try to come to their defence a little bit.  As far as getting on with each other is concerned we’re great mates, and whatever I say to him or he says to me, by the time the shows over we’re having a glass of wine and carrying on as though nothing had happened!

Do you have an all-time-favourite, stand out Strictly moment?

When Mark Ramprakash got tied up in his mic and Bruce came to the rescue that was a stand out! The thing is this, what’s bizarre about Strictly Come Dancing is if I said to you ‘do you remember John Sergeant performing?’ you’d say ‘yes I do’ but if I asked you who won it that series you probably couldn’t remember. Obviously Russell Grant is still our minds, but the same goes for Ann Widdecome. It’s a funny thing how it’s the bizarre ones who stay in your mind and the really good ones sometimes get left behind!

What was life like for you before Strictly?

When I first got asked to do it all my mates were saying ‘oh you’re going to be a megastar’ jokingly, but I’ve always just told my family and friends if I ever start acting like anything different from Len Goodman the dance teacher from Dartford, you’ve got to let me know and punch me in the stomach because I would hate that. I am who I am, I am a dance teacher who got a bit lucky and got on a television programme. I know within the ballroom dance world there are people definitely more qualified to judge, far better dancers than me to be a judge, so I just say thank you very much at how lucky I was.

 Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell - (C) BBC

Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell – (C) BBC

Craig Revel-Horwood

What’s the single best thing you love about Strictly?

What I absolutely love about Strictly is that even people with two left feet manage to get a good 30 seconds out of dance. Generally everyone becomes really passionate about dance, and that’s what I love about it. I love that every year there is another generation of potential and wonderful dancers out there and I’m absolutely proud as punch to be involved in such a successful show.

And what’s the toughest thing about being part of the show?

I think the toughest thing about being part of the show is actually having to make the judgement on people that aren’t necessarily dancers. I think that’s very, very difficult? but I guess that’s the game I’m in. I’ve been employed as a judge – and judge them I will – but it’s great for the audience. They get to watch some incredible dancing and some not so incredible dancing.

Darcey Bussell is joining the panel this year, are you worried that there could be a new Queen of Mean on the panel?

I’m slightly concerned about Darcey Bussell being a little bit bitchier than myself. However, I am going to do my absolute best to out-bitch her!

You and Len often disagree on things, are you sworn enemies or is it all good natured?

It’s only good-natured after the event! We don’t carry it home with us on a Sunday, but it does get a little bit heated, and that’s only because we have our opinions and we have a very different background in dance. Len is a purist, I’m up for a little bit more freedom-of-expression in dance. I like people bending some rules – so of course we’re going to sometimes disagree – but that’s fine.

Do you have an all-time-favourite, stand out Strictly moment?

One of my favourite moments in Strictly Come Dancing was Ann Widdecombe doing spins across the floor and crashing into her poor dance partner Anton. I thought that was one moment out of the nine series we’ve done so far, that has made me laugh and laugh and laugh. There is another similar moment, and that was Pamela Stephenson who saved herself from falling over ? and I have to say in slow motion that has to be one of the funniest things that I think I’ve ever witnessed. So camp – I think I rewound that moment about 45 times!

The contestants this year, what are you looking for from the line-up?

I’m looking forward to raising the bar. I want somebody to be better than Harry Judd. I want somebody who is better than Jill Halfpenny. I want somebody who will come through the ranks from the dance gutters like Mark Ramprakash did – and beat him at his own game. I want somebody FAB-U-LOUS to win this year.

Does live TV make you nervous?

I get slightly nervous when the music starts for the very first time on the very first show. After that I just enjoy it. Live TV doesn’t make me nervous, in fact I think I enjoy it more than because there’s more at stake. Whatever comes out of your mouth – unfortunately – is going to be there to haunt you for the rest of your life!

And Bruno Tonioli :

Judge, Bruno Tonioli - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ray Burmiston

Judge, Bruno Tonioli – (C) BBC – Photographer: Ray Burmiston

Strictly is back for a tenth series. Are you looking forward to it with relish?

Strictly is always good. Last year’s series was very good and we are all puffed up to do even better. I am ready to go and I am really looking forward to it. I still enjoy being a judge. If I didn’t think it was fun, I wouldn’t do it.

How will the arrival of Darcey change the dynamics on the judging panel?

It will add something different. I am really pleased she is joining. She is great and it’s going to be really fabulous. We have had a lot of fun filming the promo for this year’s Strictly and she will do well. My advice to her is to stay true to herself.

Aren’t you dying to get your celebrity friends on the show?

I do have my wish list of people, like Kate Moss, just as everyone does. But the judges don’t get involved. I think that is right. It means everybody is then treated equally and fairly.

Do you get annoyed when a celebrity isn’t very good or answers back at the judges?!

No. I love the characters that take part on the programme. They are what make Strictly tick. But at the end of the day, the public always vote for the best dancers. The standard of the celebrity dancers keeps getting better and better.

Will you be jumping out of your chair again in the new series when you are giving your critique?

Yes. I do it naturally. It’s part of my TV persona and it is right for me. I love the repartee with Len and Craig. It works well.

It’s musical chairs on Strictly this year and you will be seated next to Len. How do you feel about being seated next to him?

I don’t mind at all. We sit next to each other in America anyway and so something like this doesn’t bother me. We are all such good friends.

Both you and Len will be commuting between Britain and America again to also film Dancing With The Stars. Do you ever worry that you are overdoing it?

Sometimes I do but you just have to deal with it. I said yes to both shows and so I have to get on with it. I have been preparing myself all summer for this very intense period. But I love both shows so much. They are both very different.



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