Let’s dance!

TV Times - - Cover Story - Emma Bul­limore

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…

Strictly Come Danc­ing FRI­DAY / BBC1 / 9.00Pm

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

friend Frankie

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