Ahead of the Strictly Come Dancing 10th Anniversary Tour opening at Barclaycard Arena tomorrow, I headed to the arena to get a sneak peek at the glamorous stage and catch up with the Strictly stars and their professional dancers.
For three months every year, more than 12 million people across the country find themselves sucked into the sparkling world of Strictly Come Dancing, where we spend our Saturday nights watching some of our favourite celebrities blossom into beautiful dancers in hopes of getting their hands on that glitterball trophy.
Last year’s spectacular series saw BBC sports presenter Ore Oduba take the crown with his partner Joanne Clifton – who sadly couldn’t join him on tour due to previous commitments. Being the Strictly fanatic that I am, I made my way to Barclaycard Arena this afternoon to have a chat with the 2016 Strictly Come Dancing Champion, model Daisy Lowe, Louise Redknapp, Ed Balls and Danny Mac, who will be taking to the stage tomorrow for the opening night of the 21-date tour which includes three nights in Birmingham before it travels across the country, closing in London’s prestigious O2 Arena.
First up was the gorgeous Daisy, who won over the hearts of the nation with her professional partner Aljaž Škorjanec. “I’m absolutely ecstatic to be back in Strictly again,” she beams. “I’m so happy to be here it’s actually overwhelming how happy it makes me. During the live shows, I got so nervous that actually for me the tour is just about being able to enjoy it and loving dancing, and having the opportunity to perform in front of all the people that support the show.”
Before I know it, the champion was heading my way. Ore wowed Strictly fans and the judges with his incredible Jive to Bruno Mars’ Runaway Baby, with his partner Joanne. He’s now formed a partnership with Karen Clifton for the tour, and what I was keen to know was if Birmingham – and the rest of the tour dates for that matter – would be lucky enough to see said jive.
The pair weren’t giving anything away, with Ore telling me he didn’t want to ‘ruin the excitement’ – fair enough, we’ll have to all wait until tomorrow to find that one out for ourselves. “I’m not going to give it away,” he giggles. “We love doing it, and for those of us who have had the pleasure of doing said jive routine know that it’s one of those dances that never stops you from smiling, and should the people of Birmingham get to see that I think they’ll be smiling too. But let me tell you, anyone who is coming to see the show won’t be disappointed.”
Next up was former politician Ed Balls and his partner Katya Jones. It’s fair to say Ed caused quite the stir in the last series; from dressing up as The Mask for movie week to nearly dropping poor Katya in their American Smooth, and, of course, who could forget that Gangnam Style performance in week eight.
Ed made it to week 10, and it’s clear how much he really appreciated all the support and his time on the show. ” I think for people who go out early in the show it’s a real disappointment because you’re just getting into your stride, and I know I would’ve been disappointed to go out in week two or three,” he says. “But because we did 10 weeks and we got to Blackpool we had a really big experience. I knew I was never going to get to the final but we had a great time.”
I’ll leave it to you to guess what dances you’ll be seeing from them on the tour…
If there was anyone that I was desperate to speak to, it was always going to be Danny Mac and his partner Oti Mabuse. I mean, did you see that Samba? Danny’s no stranger to TV with his role in Hollyoaks, but performing in an arena in front of 10,000 people is a little different compared to his normal day job.
“It’s nerve-wracking,” he tells me. “I think once we hear the buzz of the audience from backstage it’s going to be quite hard to comprehend but looking around now it’s just so similar to the studio but it (the arena) is also ginormous, it’s magnificent.”
Speaking of that samba, I needed to know whether audiences across the country would be lucky enough to see it live. After all, it was the first samba to ever get a perfect score in Strictly history! The secret of the whether Danny and Oti’s samba will be performed is safe with me – no spoilers here!
Finally, I caught up with fellow finalists Louise Redknapp and her partner Kevin Clifton. “I’m really excited but nervous too,” she tells me. “I just want to make sure that I get everything right and obviously we want to put on a great show, people come and watch and you want to deliver everything that they’re expecting. These guys (the professional dancers) are brilliant, they don’t forget anything and dance their socks off every night.”
Let me tell you something, fans who are heading to see the show this weekend are in for an absolute treat. Expect lots of sparkle, thrilling lifts and spectacular group dances from the celebrities and the Strictly professionals.