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Strictly and Ap­pren­tice girls go for glory

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

Strictly’s Sawtry star Lau­ren Stead­man is ready to Samba her way through the semi fi­nals of the hit BBC show this week­end.

World cham­pion para-triath­lete Lau­ren and her part­ner AJ Pritchard are down to the last five cou­ples in the bat­tle for the fa­mous Glit­ter­ball Tro­phy, and will dance for their place in the fi­nal this week­end.

While she has propped up the leader­board for the last two weeks, the Peter­bor­ough star has thrilled the pub­lic, who have been vot­ing in their droves to keep her in the show.

Speak­ing to The Peter­bor­ough Tele­graph dur­ing a break in re­hersals, Lau­ren said: “I am over­whelmed by what has hap­pened. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get this far. It has been amaz­ing.

“It is fan­tas­tic that the pub­lic are en­joy­ing our jour­ney, and want to see the progress we are mak­ing.”

For the semi fi­nal, each of the re­main­ing cou­ples will have to take on two dances with Lau­ren and AJ per­form­ing a Tango to ‘Nut­bush City Lim­its’ by Tina Turner and a Samba to ‘Rock The Boat’ by The Hues Cor­po­ra­tion.

Lau­ren said she pre­ferred ball­room dances over Latin rou­tines, nam­ing last week’s Amer­i­can Smooth as her favourite dance of the sea­son the dance which also saw her post her high­est score yet.

But the pair are not rest­ing on their lau­rels, and AJ said: “We are work­ing harder than ever this week. We start at 8.30am and fin­ish at 10pm.

“It is re­fresh­ing to have two dif­fer­ent dances to work on though.”

Lau­ren had no pre­vi­ous dance ex­pe­ri­ence, and while learn­ing the steps of all the rou­tines she has had to mas­ter has proved a chal­lenge, she said she was also hav­ing to learn how to per­form in a TV stu­dio.

She said; “Learn­ing to per­form in front of a cam­era has been a real chal­lenge - find­ing the red lights on the cam­eras and things like that.

“Some of the com­ments from the judges can be bit dis­heart­en­ing as well - but I do like con­struc­tive crit­i­cism.”

AJ said he had faced an­other chal­lenge, chore­ograph­ing rou­tines around Lau­ren’s dis­abil­ity.

Lau­ren was born miss­ing part of her right arm, and AJ said: “It has been great work­ing with Lau­ren. I had never worked with a Par­a­lympian be­fore, and it has given me the chance to be cre­ative with my chore­og­ra­phy.”

Both Lau­ren and AJ who has been knocked out of Strictly at the semi-fi­nal stage in the two se­ries he has per­formed on - thanked the pub­lic for back­ing them as they pro­gressed through the com­pe­ti­tion - and they have a ded­i­cated group of fans at Great Gid­ding Pri­mary School - where Lau­ren went as a child.

Staff, pupils and their fam­i­lies have been vot­ing to keep Lau­ren in the com­pe­ti­tion, as well as writ­ing mes­sages of sup­port to her.

Emma Pen­ni­all, teacher and PE co­or­di­na­tor said; “The whole school is be­hind her. We sent her a book of pic­tures and mes­sages to sup­port then, and they sent back a signed pic­ture - and we got a let­ter from Lau­ren’s mum thank­ing us for our sup­port.

“Now she is in the semi fi­nal, the chil­dren have sent more mes­sages - we are all so proud of her. She is a real in­spi­ra­tion to every­one here.”

The Strictly Come Danc­ing semi fi­nal will be shown on BBC1 on Satur­day at 6.35pm, with the re­sults broad­cast on BBC1 on Sun­day at 7.15pm.

Lau­ren and AJ in ac­tion

Khadija tries to sell an in­flat­able pink seat (left) and hair curl­ing gad­get on a TV shop­ping chan­nel. Copy­right: BBC

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