The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Feature - COM­PILED BY BARRY DIDCOCK AND ANN FOTHERINGHAM

AS­TON Mer­ry­gold has un­fin­ished busi­ness with Strictly. The for­mer JLS star had barely put a foot wrong in the 2017 se­ries when he sud­denly found him­self in the dreaded dance off, and kicked off the show at the half-way point.

Book­ies had the young singer as a favourite to win from the start and of all the styles of dance per­formed in the show, As­ton had achieved the high­est marks for four of them.

But As­ton fans will be de­lighted to know he is back, for one night only, in the Strictly Come Danc­ing Christ­mas Spe­cial on Christ­mas Day. Here’s his take on the show:

Have you car­ried on danc­ing since you left the competition?

I have! I do it ev­ery sin­gle day but it’s nice to have dif­fer­ent tricks and styles in the arse­nal when per­form­ing so I try to add dif­fer­ent things. I’ve been on tour with two for­mer Strictly cham­pi­ons as well – Louis Smith and Harry Judd. I’m join­ing them and an­other Strictly cham­pion, Jay McGui­ness, in Jan­uary in Lon­don’s West End.

How’s it to be back train­ing with your part­ner Janette Man­rara again?

Hon­estly, it’s like I never left. We picked up where we left off. It was cut too short. We’re happy to be back in the re­hearsal room. Janette’s great and I’m very lucky to be able to con­tinue the part­ner­ship we made and see if the jive works.

Who’s your big­gest competition?

Caro­line [Flack] won – she’s ev­ery­one’s competition! She’s the cham­pion.

How much train­ing have you been able to do?

Four days so far. It’s been very chilled.

Name three past Strictly con­tes­tants you’d like to have round for Christ­mas din­ner?

That’s easy – Harry, Louis and Jay. I’m go­ing to be with them for the best part of the next six months any­way.

What is the best thing about Christ­mas?

This year it’s our son’s first Christ­mas. We’re go­ing to start our own new Christ­mas tra­di­tions – so it feels like it is ex­cit­ing all over again.

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