Judge Rinder, Lesley Joseph and Louise Redknapp reveal all about Strictly training,
texting Ed Balls and why Claudia Winkleman is the new Oscar Wilde…
hey do it to us every year. after the excitement and glamour of the Strictly launch show, there’s a seemingly endless wait before the live shows begin and the couples finally take to the floor.
This year we’re set to be captivated by celebrities including former pop star Louise Redknapp, 41, dancing with popular pro
Kevin Clifton, TV legal eagle Judge Rinder, 38, partnering new girl Oksana Platero, and Birds of a Feather star Lesley Joseph, 70, shimmying across the floor with Strictly veteran Anton Du Beke.
And, because TV Times is horribly impatient, we asked Louise, Judge Rinder and Lesley to entertain us ahead of the live shows, sharing tales from training and news of Will Young’s new vacuum cleaner…
Twhat made you sign up? louise: I’ve always been a big fan, but this is the first time my children were old enough to allow me to do something for me. This is a fun way of getting back out there and performing like I used to. lesley: It allows you to act out your fantasies and do everything you’ve always longed to do on a dancefloor, even if it’s ridiculous! I’d love to stay for Movie Week and play Annie in a ginger wig. I also suspect a lot of the Strictly audience are slightly older, so I hope they’ll get behind me. Judge rinder: You get free outfits, which was a draw, but the reality is I’m really into dancing. Plus my grandparents really enjoy Strictly and if I said no then they would have missed out on an opportunity to come. It’s much more than escapist telly to their generation, there’s authentic nostalgia there. How did it feel performing at the launch show?
Judge rinder: It was so surreal. There’s a moment where you think, ‘Gosh, I’m on the Strictly set, dancing with Ed Balls’. I really enjoyed meeting Claudia Winkleman, she’s extraordinary – like the embodiment of Oscar Wilde doing jazz hands. louise: It brings those nerves back from being on stage. But everyone is in it together, so it’s actually quite heart-warming. You realise it’s going to be a really nice time in your life. lesley: I’ve worked at the BBC for years and I’ve never come across anything that gets the same reaction as Strictly – there are people queuing outside the studios at 9.00am and the atmosphere is electric. It’s very exciting and the first time I’ve been in a make-up room where someone says, ‘No, you’re not wearing enough glitter!’ you all seem delighted with your professional partners? lesley: I’m thrilled to get Anton. I was worried they’d think, ‘Let’s put Dorien with a younger man,’ but I’m not Dorien and I need someone to guide me. Anton will be superb because he’s got great patience and a sense of humour. Judge rinder: I was hoping for a Victorian schoolmarm, but more attractive, so I’ve done well. Oksana is amazing, she’s harsh but kind and promises that if I do well in training she’ll permit me to take her shopping. She is also threatening real physical consequences if I get the steps wrong – what’s not to like? louise: I’m really pleased because I’m friends with Frankie Bridge, who danced with Kevin in 2014, and she kept saying how nice he was and how much I’d enjoy dancing with him. He’s so downto-earth and I’ve always noticed his great choreography. what fazes you most about it? louise: I think my biggest hurdle is going to be having the confidence to get out there again. It’s so important to me to make the most of it and give it everything I’ve got. lesley: I think my limbs will be like jelly for the first show. But I’d like to impress the judges with my commitment. I haven’t lasted this long in the business without taking my work incredibly seriously and I’m honoured to do Strictly. Judge rinder: People keep coming up to me saying, ‘Gosh, you’re going to be training so hard’ and I keep thinking, ‘When’s the work going to start?’ My career took me to Sierra Leone where I really had to work hard. Now I get up in the morning and I’m taken by an extremely brilliant woman to learn how to dance. Then I put on costumes that people have made for me and they tell me how fabulous I am! are you prepared for the judges? lesley: The very odd thing is that I know Craig, because I’ve just been job-sharing with him, playing Miss Hannigan in Annie. It’s wonderful to be working with him on Strictly. Judge rinder: I’m star-struck whenever I see Darcey. She’s a legend, just as some of the other judges are. Craig seems pleasant but mildly intimidating. Being introduced to him was like meeting a spinster aunt. louise: I think I’ll just take any criticism on the chin, I’m not naturally comedic like Rob [Judge Rinder]. I only get feisty when I really have to – that’s when ‘Lewisham Lou’ comes out! is there a lot of camaraderie? louise: Everyone’s lovely and people keep saying that me and Tameka Empson are the new
Patsy and Eddie from Absolutely Fabulous! We all look to each other for support and keep in touch via a Whatsapp group. The other day Will [Young] was working out whether to get a warranty on his new vacuum cleaner and Naga [Munchetty] was telling him it was a waste of time. Then Anastacia said, ‘Are we really talking about vacuums, guys?’ It’s priceless, and really bizarre to get texts from Ed Balls on a Saturday night… are you excited for your friends and family to see you dance? louise: I am, my sons are going to be making regular appearances at the dance studio and my husband, Jamie, says he’s going to bring me packed lunches. That’ll last three days, then he’ll be at the golf course! lesley: Linda Robson was at the launch – I couldn’t keep her away! She’s incredibly excited because she’s been telling me to do it for years. I’m hoping Pauline [Quirke] will come to watch a show, too. Judge rinder: I’ve told all of my friends that this is one moment where kindness is more important than truth, so they’re being nice to me. It’s exhausting for them! Although I did have one friend, an Oxford don, who texted me saying he was perplexed because he thought I was going to be baking…
the Judge wants Oksana to lay down the law
One friend was perplexed… he thought I was going to be baking
judge rinder Lesley’s glad that anton’s hardly a toyboy Louise’s partner Kevin was highly recommended by