Why I’m glad I didn’t wın Strıctly

Danny Mac, last year’s run­ner-up, says the real curse of Strictly is that the champ will for­ever be known as just that

Daily Mail Weekend Magazine - - NEWS - Jenny Johnston

Strictly curse? What Strictly curse? If ac­tor Danny Mac didn’t run off with his lithe and lovely pro­fes­sional part­ner Oti Mabuse last year, then per­haps there’s hope af­ter all. Most of us will have vivid mem­o­ries of Danny – bare- chested, arms flail­ing – per­form­ing one of the show’s most siz­zling rou­tines ever. His raunchy samba with Oti was hot stuff, even for the fa­mously un­shock­able judges. Bruno To­nioli likened what he’d just seen to a ‘pa­gan mat­ing rit­ual’.

How must it have felt to be his fi­ancée, fel­low ac­tor Car­ley Sten­son, in the au­di­ence? Well, thank­fully, she can’t have been too dis­traught to see her hus­band-to-be in the throes of such pas­sion be­cause this Au­gust the pair fi­nally tied the knot. Did they recre­ate that par­tic­u­lar dance rou­tine for their wed­ding guests, with Car­ley tak­ing the fe­male lead? Well no. In fact, Danny laughs up­roar­i­ously at the idea, pre­sum­ably be­cause no wed­ding dress could sur­vive that sort of ex­cite­ment. ‘No, we had a very tra­di­tional first dance. No big set-piece. We kind of shuf­fled round, like most cou­ples do.’ Oh, what a shame. ‘No, it suited us,’ he ob­jects. ‘We’re quite or­di­nary, we just wanted ev­ery­thing to be… or­di­nary.’

Danny, 29, and Car­ley, 35, have been to­gether since 2011 (they met on the set of Hol­lyoaks) and have al­ways been used to quite low-level at­ten­tion, but his ap­pear­ance on Strictly last year shot them to an­other level. His wed­ding pics even made their way into Hello! magazine. ‘It’s the weird­est thing,’ he ad­mits. ‘Be­fore, I was recog­nised mostly by young peo­ple. Now, it’s ev­ery­one – grannies, very young kids. I didn’t re­ally watch Strictly be­fore I was in it, and I’m not sure I was aware of the breadth of that au­di­ence.’

Danny was back at work three days af­ter the wed­ding, re­hears­ing for a na­tional tour of Sun­set Boule­vard, An­drew Lloyd Webber’s mu­si­cal ver­sion of the 1950 Billy Wilder film about a faded film star des­per­ate to re­gain her for­mer glory. Danny plays the male lead, Joe Gillis, the im­pov­er­ished screen­writer who gets sucked into the life of the star, Norma Des­mond. Mean­while, his new wife is in Les Misérables in the West End. ‘No, no hon­ey­moon yet,’ Danny says. ‘We’ll get round to that later.’

He didn’t ac­tu­ally lift the cov­eted glit­ter­ball last year, los­ing out to sports pre­sen­ter Ore Oduba in the fi­nal. Not that Danny uses the word ‘lose’. ‘I al­ways say I didn’t lose, Ore won. And Oti and I won on the Strictly tour, so I got a ver­sion of the tro­phy. My mum has it on her din­ing ta­ble, so ev­ery time I go home I see it in all its glory.’

Some­how his mum’s de­light in see­ing her son on Strictly summed up the Strictly ex­pe­ri­ence. His mum sounds any­thing but or­di­nary, given that she works as a nurse in a hos­pice (‘It does give you per­spec­tive,’ Danny says. ‘I do some­times think, “What good is my job to any­one?”’), but she threw her­self into the Strictly she­bang, even dress­ing the fam­ily dogs in mini suits to match what Danny was wear­ing on the show. Now he re­veals that the joy of watch­ing him com­pete couldn’t have come at a bet­ter time – his mum and dad had split up not long be­fore, and as he puts it, ‘She’d been through a hard time. Strictly was bril­liant for giv­ing her some­thing to laugh about.’

But did he gen­uinely not mind not win­ning? ‘I ac­tu­ally think it was prob­a­bly best for my ca­reer that I didn’t win,’ he says. ‘I mean, Ore will never be able to get away from the Strictly win­ner thing, even if it’s been the mak­ing of him.’ Yet there’s no deny­ing that Strictly opens doors. The fact Danny is now head­ing the cast of Sun­set Boule­vard might not seem linked to his Strictly suc­cess (he was of­fered the part be­fore he signed up for the show) but in a way it is. ‘I said no when they first of­fered the part, be­cause I didn’t think I could play it. I mean it’s epic – I’m on

stage for pretty much the whole thing. Thank God they waited, though, be­cause when they asked again I’d been through Strictly, put my­self in an­other sit­u­a­tion where I wasn’t sure I’d be a suc­cess, and my mind­set was dif­fer­ent. I thought, “Why not? What do I have to lose? Maybe I can do this.”’

Sun­set Boule­vard isn’t his first ven­ture onto the stage. In fact he acted in the West End aged 11, in his first pro­fes­sional role – coin­ci­den­tally, it was in Les Misérables too, as Gavroche. But de­spite that prodi­gious start, his back­ground is very – here’s that word again – ‘or­di­nary’. His dad was a fruit and veg trader, so it’s fair to say act­ing wasn’t in his blood. When he was of­fered a place at drama school, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to take it up. ‘ The fees were £13,000. My fam­ily didn’t have that sort of money. I ap­plied for a schol­ar­ship, and got it, thank­fully, but if I hadn’t I don’t know what I’d have done.’

He came across as quite the strut­ting pea­cock on Strictly ( he blames the Cuban heels) but in the flesh is self­ef­fac­ing, even shy. He’s the male celebrity with the high­est se­ries av­er­age score in the his­tory of the pro­gramme, though, which is quite some­thing. Has he been watch­ing this year’s show, to as­sess whether he could be knocked off his perch? ‘I’ve seen enough to be blown away by the stan­dard,’ he says, sin­gling out the rou­tines of As­ton Mer­ry­gold and Deb­bie McGee. ‘But it’s such a strong field. It’s wide open.’

This year Oti has been get­ting up close with the Par­a­lympian Jon­nie Pea­cock. ‘I think Oti thought she’d get a com­edy act this year so it’s been bril­liant for her,’ says Danny. ‘It’s been in­ter­est­ing to see how they’ve worked to­gether be­cause they’re both used to win­ning. They’re both very com­pet­i­tive.’ And pity poor Jon­nie’s girl­friend, 400m Par­a­lympian Sally Brown, who’s been hav­ing to watch. Maybe Danny’s new mis­sus of­fered her a few tips.

‘Be­fore I was recog­nised by young peo­ple. Now it’s grannies’

For de­tails of Danny’s show visit uk tour. sun­set boule­vard the mu­si­cal. com. Strictly Come Danc­ing, tonight, 6.35pm, BBC1.

Above: Danny with for­mer Strictly part­ner Oti Mabuse. Left: with wife Car­ley Sten­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.