Strictly Su­san’s go­ing to be this year’s Ed Balls

Comic could sur­prise, says Janette

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - TELEVISION - By Bill Gibb bgibb@sun­day­

STRICTLY pro Janette Man­rara reck­ons Scots co­me­dian Su­san Cal­man might just turn out to be this year’s Ed Balls.

Glaswe­gian Su­san has taken some flak from crit­ics and is one of the book­ies’ top tips to make an early exit.

But Janette, favourite to win with JLS singer As­ton Mer­ry­gold, hopes Su­san is the sur­prise pack­age who wins view­ers’ hearts in next Saturday’s first live show.

“I’ve been chat­ting with Su­san loads and I’ve got a lot of time for her,” said Janette, 33.

“When she learned the first group num­ber she came and told me how amaz­ing she felt putting the steps to the mu­sic.

“Ed was one of my favourite peo­ple last year. He wasn’t a Danny Mac but he was so in love with the danc­ing and ev­ery­thing that goes with it.

“So, you can never judge a book by its cover.”

And Miami-born Janette in­sists Su­san’s fel­low Glaswe­gian Joe McFad­den, a big favourite with Holby City fans, has real po­ten­tial, too.

The “Strictly curse” has been blamed for numer­ous re­la­tion­ship break­downs, most re­cently the re­ported split be­tween last year’s fi­nal­ist Louise Red­knapp and footie pun­dit hus­band Jamie.

But Janette has been loved-up with fel­low pro Al­jaz Scor­janec – who is paired with ex-Em­merdale star Gemma Atkin­son who says she’s sin­gle – for years and they tied the knot a few weeks ago.

“We don’t feel it makes any dif­fer­ence,” she con­fides. “We had our six- year an­niver­sary just be­fore we got mar­ried. We’ve lived to­gether for a long time.

“It was re­ally just a case of mak­ing what­ever we have of­fi­cial. Noth­ing else has re­ally changed.

“I’m just so happy and the only thing Al­jaz is find­ing strange is wear­ing the ring. We’ve just moved into our first ‘Mr and Mrs’ flat and have been do­ing that up.”

This is the 15th series of the Saturday night sen­sa­tion which seems to outdo it­self each year.

Shirley Bal­las has taken over from Len Good­man as head judge and Janette says con­tes­tants and pro dancers alike should pin their ears back.

“I’ve known Shirley for a while and she has so much in­for­ma­tion to pass on,” she said.

“She’s the queen of Latin and she knows so much about the tech­niques of that and ball­room.

“I don’t know yet whether she’ll be nice or strict, but it’s nice to have an­other lady on the panel.

“I think bring­ing in an­other woman changes the dy­namic. We’ll have to see if it will work, but I think it will.”

The launch show paid an emo­tional trib­ute to for­mer host Sir Bruce Forsyth and Janette ad­mits news of his death left her in tears.

“He was so kind to me when I first joined,” adds Janette. “You al­ways felt he was on your side.”

Strictly Come Danc­ing, BBC1, Saturday 6.25pm.

■Janette is favourite to win.

■Pro dancer Janette Man­rara, far left, has tipped co­me­dian Su­san Cal­man to be the “new Ed Balls” in this sea­son’s Strictly.

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