Strictly Come Dancing – the celebrities interviewed

Strictly Come Dancing – the celebrities & their motivation for joining the show

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Get ready for another spectacular series of Strictly

It’s time to slip on your dancing shoes once again, as Strictly Come Dancing waltzes back onto BBC One this autumn with a star-studded line-up for what promises to be the most entertaining series yet.

Sir Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly return to add some sparkle to Saturday nights, kicking off the action with a red carpet launch show at at 6.10pm on Saturday 10th September 2011.

The biggest ever live programme will come from Wembley Arena in aid of Children in Need, in front of an audience of 6,500 fans. In another first, the grand final will be broadcast live from the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool in 3D for the first time since series 2.

Len, Alesha, Craig and Bruno return as judges, with Claudia Winkleman joining Tess on the Sunday evening results show. Zoe Ball takes over It takes Two every week night on BBC Two.

Here, the celebrities for 2011 talk about why they’ve taken to sequins in a big way!

Strictly Come Dancing celebrities

Photograph : BBC Pictures

Nancy Dell’Olio

What made you decide to take part in Strictly?

I have been approached several times, and this time I felt ready for the challenge,and the big commitment. I am looking forward to really enjoying myself and I hope to entertain everyone.

What are you looking for from your professional partner?

Charm and he must have patience! I hope to learn a lot from him and he will learn from me too, I hope!

How do you feel the British public see you now and how do you think taking part in Strictly might change the way they see you?

This will give a real opportunity to see who the real Nancy is and I hope to create an enthusiastic following!

You’re known for your glamorous dress sense, are you looking forward to donning the costumes in the show?

Of course! I have already been working with a designer to create some great outfits.

Robbie Savage

What made you decide to take part in Strictly?

I just want people to change their perceptions of me. Off the field I’m a down to earth, normal guy and I want to learn something new in my life.

I’m quite a nervous guy, on the football pitch I’m very secure but anything else I’m quite shy, so I’m hoping Strictly helps me to come out of my shell a bit.

What are you looking for from your professional partner?

I’m not just looking for someone to teach me how to dance but someone to be a friend, and to have a nice time with.

Are you worried that your colleagues and former sportsmen will make fun of you taking part in Strictly? If so who might be the worst culprits and why?

I know they will! I think Lee Dixon, Kevin Keegan and Chris Moyles will be the worst culprits. Plus, no doubt I’ll get some stick on Twitter from the likes of Rio Ferdinand. I know they’re all going to hammer me but I’m ready for it!

How do you think you’ll fare being criticised by the judges?

I think I’ll be fine. One thing my mother taught me is to respect your elders and respect people who know what they are doing. If the judges dis’ me, who am I to tell them what they’re doing?! I’d never argue off the field, it’s not who I am. My mother would kill me if I talk back to the judges. She calls me up on the radio regularly to tell me off!

Chelsee Healey

What made you decide to take part in Strictly?

I’m a big fan of the show and thought it would be a challenge. I enjoy dancing and love the show so thought it would be a lot of fun.

What are you looking for from your professional partner?

I would like someone who will work me hard and provide me with a challenge. I’d also like someone who is also fun to work with so we can have a laugh when needed, but who will whip me into shape at the same time.

You’re already used to appearing on TV in Waterloo Road but how are you feeling about the challenge of live TV and dancing in front of millions of people at home?

Absolutely petrified!! But I do like to perform in front of people, so hopefully I’ll be fine.

Are you single at the moment? If so, are you looking for a Strictly romance?

Yes I’m single and yes why not, I wouldn’t rule anything out.

Rory Bremner

What made you decide to take part in Strictly?

What’s not to like? It’s one of the best things the BBC does, a brilliantly made programme and a great opportunity to learn a skill we’d all secretly love to have. It’s an invitation to one of the best parties on television; they always get an interesting cross-section of people. Everyone I’ve spoken to who’s been involved with Strictly has thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It fits nicely with my mid-life crisis and offers fitness, a unique experience and all the fake tan you can ask for. Yay!

What are you looking for from your professional partner?

Patience, tolerance, a sense of humour, good teeth, excellent personal hygiene, a low centre of gravity, own transport, willing to babysit and clean at weekends.

You’re famous for doing impressions of other people – will you employ any of these techniques on the show, taking off any of the dancing greats like Fred Astaire?

I might have to. If I can’t be a dancer I’ll have to imitate one. At the moment I’m at the John Sergeant level. Mind you he was very entertaining. I’ve got Brucie taped and Bruno, Len and Craig look do-able. But I’ll probably be saving the impressions for when I need them, i.e. when the dancing’s hopeless.

What preparations have you done so far?

I’ve bought a Fred Astaire video and I may go to see Billy Elliott. And I’ve bought lycra, earmuffs and skates. That’s the thing isn’t it? I’ve also had half a dozen gym sessions with a mad Brummie trainer lady in the Scottish borders. I can now touch my toes and talk like Adrian Chiles. My will is up to date and I’ve increased my insurance premium.

Holly Valance

What made you decide to do the show?

I really love the idea of taking part in a show the whole family can watch together. I’m excited about learning a new skill and getting super fit and strong. Obviously the show is incredibly popular and I’m proud to be involved in such a successful and loved programme that promotes a really positive and uplifting message.

What are you looking for from your professional partner?

Someone who is patient, perseveres with me and will push me to be the best. I’d also like to have a real laugh at the same time. I’m tall, so I also need someone who physically complements me, so I don’t look like I’m leading!

Do you think stepping foot on to the ballroom dance floor will be more nerve-wracking than first stepping on to Ramsay Street?

Yes, If not more! There’s no chance of a ‘Take 2’ on Strictly!! I have to get it right and blow it out of the water first time!

Your appearance in the video for your hit song Kiss Kiss was famously provocative… are you prepared for some of the sexy Latin outfits on Strictly?

The question is…are the outfits prepared for me?! Ha! Listen in all seriousness, I’m very excited about the theatre of the costumes and the thrill of a live show. But I’m not riding on my outfits to get me through, sheer hard work and skill is what I’m going for!

Harry Judd

What made you decide to take part in Strictly?

I love a challenge and this will certainly be the biggest challenge I’ve taken on. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.

What are you looking for from your professional partner?

Someone who will push me and be able to cope with my obsessive nature. I’d also like someone I can have good fun with.

You’re used to performing on stage in front of thousands – will you be more nervous taking to the dance floor?

Yes! Way more nervous. I’m used to using my hands on stage and not my legs!

How do you feel about going solo without the rest of your band mates? And what do they think about you taking part in the show?

I would certainly feel a lot better if they were doing it with me! I would love to see Dougie trying to dance. They are excited and nervous for me and they are also happy that their Saturday night entertainment is sorted for at least a week.

Anita Dobson

What made you decide to take part in Strictly?

All my life I’ve wanted to learn to ballroom dance. I’ve always had huge respect for dancers and it’s one of my biggest regrets that I didn’t train. I’m completely terrified of course but decided it was time to do it anyway. Time to go for it!

What are you looking for from your professional partner?

Someone who is a good teacher – who will teach me to learn to dance and make it fun and make it accessible for me to learn.

When you take to the dance floor will you be performing as Anita or do you plan to adopt a character? If so who, Ginger Rogers or Margot Fonteyn?

I don’t think you can really adopt a character of a dancer. I’m an actor, a wordsmith, and I work with words rather than anything physical. I’ll certainly try to adopt the attitude of the dance. I suppose it depends on my teacher, the better he is, the more I’ll be able to adapt. But this sort of thing exposes you much more as yourself. You can only adopt a bit of a character when you’re on the dancefloor.

Kara Tointon did a show-stopping routine to Don’t Stop Me Now in last year’s finale – do you plan to dance to any Queen songs in tribute to Brian?

I don’t plan to dance to anything – it’s all down to my partner really, who will choose the music they think best suits the routine. I like music that is evocative of different styles, I think that’s more important than just picking a pop song. But all those decisions are just down to my professional partner!

Russell Grant

What made you decide to take part in Strictly?

For me, Strictly Come Dancing is the most theatrical of TV shows – it IS glamorous, glitzy, and glorious. It is encapsulates everything I live for and adore. I have never learned to dance properly and the prospect of learning how to dance excites and thrills, especially ANYTHING Latin but I’m worried about the waltzes!

What are you looking for from your professional partner?

Patience, sunny persona and a spirit of fun! A wicked sense of humour is also a must! I love to laugh and I really want to live a little longer than I would have done a few years back. I am at that time of my life when I do things that I want to do, not what everyone else tells me I must.

Did the stars influence your decision to take part in Strictly?

No! But my weight did – having lost nearly 10 stones, I’d like to take a couple more off. So my health definitely influenced my decision.

Has your profession helped with you decisions and can you see what the future holds for you in the show?

No! I don’t look into the future and never have done, it’s not an astrological thing! Astrology is about compatibility so there are certain signs that will be good for me. I’m really excited to find out who I am paired with, as a compatibility chart WILL have to be done. The best signs for me, strictly sun signs you understand, are Pisces and Libra – so any of the girls who are these signs can potentially bring out the best in me.


What made you decide to take part in Strictly?

I did Let’s Dance for Comic Relief earlier this year and performed Soulja Boy’s Crank That. I had so much fun!

What are you looking for from your professional partner?

Someone with the most patience! And someone I can have fun with would be a bonus.

You’re used to playing large venues – are you nervous about potentially performing in front of 6,500 Strictly fans at Wembley?

Yes!! I wouldn’t be if I was singing but this is something completely out of my comfort zone.

Dan Lobb

What made you decide to take part in Strictly?

I’m looking forward to the challenge. I will be completely out of my comfort zone, facing probably one of my biggest fears! But as well as being terrified, I’m really looking forward to having some fun. Opportunities like this don’t come around very often.

What are you looking for from your professional partner?

The professional dancers clearly know what there are doing but it will be great if they have a good understanding of how nerve racking this is actually going to be for me! Maybe some patience? Definitely some TLC! Oh and a good sense of humour would be comforting, although I know I have to be a well behaved student. We have witnessed some great success stories over the years, so maybe there is hope!

You used to be a tennis professional. Will you be pulling in any of the fancy footwork that you learnt on the court?

Hmmm I can’t make any promises…but maybe my tennis foot work memory will come in handy! Not sure it’s anything like the Salsa?

Have you done any special training or preparation already?

Absolutely none whatsoever….this will be interesting!

Edwina Currie

What made you decide to take part in Strictly?

After being approached previously, I had second thoughts this summer, as I broke my ankle in January and was in plaster for weeks and then found it hard to get back up on my feet. For a while I got quite depressed about it and wondered if I might ever walk without a limp again. But slowly it has improved, and then came the invitation. I thought, really I should try, and if I can do it, then it might encourage other people who have had injuries or accidents (especially older people like myself) that they should get out of the chair and start dancing. Life is to live – to make the best of yourself – and to enjoy!

What are you looking for from your professional partner?

He will need to be strong – I’m a solid Northern lass! And experienced. And kind, I hope because I’m a complete beginner chair and start dancing. Life is to live – to make the best of yourself – and to enjoy!

How do you think dealing with criticism from the judges will compare to dealing with questions at the despatch box in parliament?

Oh, no problem. I’ve been yelled at by Margaret Thatcher! The judges are no competition.

Have you thought of any tactics which will help you to curry favour with the judges and the public?

I’ll do what I’ve done all my life: try to be the person I would vote for. And always, always do my best, the way I was brought up to do. I hope that will strike a chord with the viewers.

Audley Harrison

What made you decide to do the show?

Of all the shows out there, this one really tickled my interest. It gives me an opportunity to connect with the British public in a new arena and I’m hopeful they will see me for who I really am – a fun-loving guy, who doesn’t take myself too seriously, and is up for a laugh.

What are you looking for from your professional dancing partner?

I’m looking to my dance partner for leadership, direction and support. I will be a willing student as I’ve been told I have two left feet on the dance floor!

You’re used to a very a strict training programme, which has led to a number of titles. Do you think it will help you to lift the glitterball trophy?

Having not boxed in 2011, I do not have boxing fitness, but my career as a professional boxer and Olympian will be an advantage in terms of adapting my fitness, preparation, focus, and staying power. On the flip side, it won’t help me if our dance routines are not up to scratch. To talk about lifting the glitterball trophy is hard to say at this early stage; but I’ll give my all and hope the judges and public agree.

Your professional sport is very masculine, how are you feeling about wearing the outfits – all the glitter and sequins?!

I’m not that comfortable as I’m not in the same shape I have been in the past when competing and training. If I last in the competition, my fitness will come fairly quickly, so my inhibitions will dissipate, and I’ll be twirling in my sequins without a care in the world!

Jason Donovan

What made you decide to take part in Strictly?

I wanted to go outside of my comfort zone and hopefully get fit at the same time! People will think that because I’m in the theatre dancing is just part of the whole package but I’ve never had any formal training in movement. My father says I have two left feet and this is the perfect opportunity to prove him wrong. I believe that a person can succeed at almost anything for which they have unlimited enthusiasm. A good suntan also helps!

What are you looking for from your professional partner?

I’d like my partner to be understanding, patient and committed, with a sense of humour. I’ve never been a natural at anything, I have basic rhythm, that’s it but I like to work hard and I believe success comes from that!

As a seasoned performer of pop concerts and West End productions, how do you think strapping on your sequins and dancing in front of the Strictly audience will differ?

Having spent nearly 18 months as a drag queen in the West End’s Priscilla, I’m certainly not afraid of the odd sequin here and there! Sequins, Spray Tans, Craig Revel Horwood…bring ‘em on! No waxing though, I think I will stick with the masculine hairy chest for those open Latin collars and remain true to the real me!

You’re good friends with Gary Barlow – are you going to keep it friendly now that you’ll be Saturday night rivals?

Gary’s a big fan of Strictly. I think he’s always fancied himself in sequins doing the Rumba or Cha Cha Cha. I’m sure he will be monitoring my progress and avoiding telling me the truth at all costs!

Alex Jones

What made you decide to take part in Strictly?

I think mainly because I’ve watched Strictly since it began and it’s every girls dream to wear the dresses they wear on the show – the ultimate girlie glamour! I also want to take part because we don’t get to move around much on The One Show so it will be nice to stretch my legs. It is the ultimate dream come true!

What are you looking for from your professional partner?

More than anything I’m looking for someone to have fun with but also someone who has the patience of a saint. A good looking partner wouldn’t go amiss but overall I’d like someone who is going to make the journey fun.

What advice has co-host of The One Show Matt Baker, last year’s runner up, been giving you so far?

Matt has not shut up since the day I told him I was taking part in Strictly. He has a line of advice for absolutely everything from what to eat, who to be partnered with, to hopping on one leg for balance! I go to bed hearing Matt Baker’s voice. I think when I’m practising with my partner we’ll see Matt’s head bobbing at the window taking notes on me.

What will you be doing to get Wales and the rest of the nation behind you?

Bribing them! I think on a show like this you have to be yourself. Hopefully The One Show viewers will support me but short of paying people I’m not sure.

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