Strictly Come Dancing: This year's stars in quotes

After two weeks of rehearsals, this year’s Strictly Come Dancing stars are preparing to return to the dance floor this weekend for the first live show of the series.

Here’s what they had to say when we caught up with them earlier this month.

The Reverend Richard Coles

  • “There’s a dog collar being pimped apparently, we’re quite excited about that.”
  • “I was preaching quite a fierce sermon recently and a piece of glitter fell out of my hair.”
  • “I’m going to need a miracle. It’s ‘let us spray’ at the moment.”
  • “I’m going to have to launch myself across a dancefloor, which I haven’t done since Ibiza in 1990. And it wasn’t pretty then, believe me.”
  • “I’m very happy to volunteer to dance with Aljaz anywhere, any place, any time.”

Charlotte Hawkins

  • “I jumped at the chance [to do Strictly]. It was a no-brainer for me. It’s afterwards when people go ‘it’s really full on, it’s going to be scary.'”
  • “You’ve just got to throw yourself into it and love every minute.”
  • On Good Morning Britain co-host Piers Morgan: “He’s very excited. Piers said we’re going to have fun with this – but that sounded more of a threat.”
  • “I’m looking forward to the ones [where] you’ve got a bit of performance and attitude – it’s amazing to have that opportunity where you give it some.”
  • On being one of this year’s favourites to win: “I don’t know how they work out the odds because they haven’t seen us dance!”

Alexandra Burke

  • “I am very nervous – it makes me want to throw up because my anxiety shoots through the roof when I think about live shows. I know this is a really funny thing to say coming from someone who won a TV show nine years ago but I hate cameras.”
  • “The moment that I found out that I was going to take part in Strictly, I cancelled everything. I cancelled my album, my single, recording, everything. My mum always said to me, ‘be great at one thing, and the rest will follow.'”
  • “Because I was a nun for a year [for Sister Act: The Musical] wearing flat shoes, I’ve been trying to wear heels a lot more just to try and give my ankles a bit more strength.”
  • On how far she’ll go in the contest: “I want to get as far as my body and my partner can take!”

Ruth Langsford

  • “Everything has this Strictly excitement about it, which is very glamorous – things you don’t get to do every day.”
  • Asked if she would wear skimpy outfits: “I’ll only be getting my kit off privately in the spray tan booth.”
  • On the show’s costumes: “It’s amazing, they gave me a waist – I hadn’t seen that waist for a long time.”
  • On keeping her appearance in the show a secret: “I quite enjoyed the whole rumour mill. Contrary to popular belief, I’ve not been asked to do Strictly before – because not in a million years would I have turned it down.”
  • What her husband Eamonn Holmes said (with tongue in cheek) when asked about the “Strictly curse”: “One man’s curse could be another man’s blessing.”

Davood Ghadami

  • “There’s always something to look forward to [on Strictly]. It seems like a non-stop rollercoaster where you’re looking to the next thing.”
  • On the outfits: “We’ve tried the skimpy, rhinestone-laden clothes and frankly they’re very comfortable and fun to wear.”
  • Asked if he would be showing off his chest: “If the dance calls for it, maybe later on in the competition… if it’s standard in week three, four or five we’ll do it.”
  • On how his on-screen mum reacted to him being on the show: “Bonnie Langford couldn’t help herself. As soon as she found out, she threw herself at me and we had a little dance.”
  • “We’re all going to look back in years to come and say ‘we were part of that’.”

Mollie King

  • On whether being pop stars gives her and Aston Merrygold an advantage: “I think we’re used to being disciplined to a certain degree. But there’s an expectation that people have and I think, Aston and I, we feel we’re both terrified, it’s a whole new world for both of us.”
  • “We don’t want to look like complete wallies. There’s so much for us to learn.”
  • “Obviously we’re lucky that we have performance experience but it’s a whole new world of dance, which is just madness.”
  • On the sparkly outfits: “You go into a fitting and it’s the most sequinned glittery dress you’ve ever seen, and they go to you: ‘Obviously it’s not glittery enough so we’ll be adding more’. And you’re like, ‘what?'”
  • On the chances of winning: “Everybody who’s taking part, obviously it’s their dream to lift the glitterball trophy – but I just want to learn as many dances as possible, that’s my aim. And get a few spray tans.”

Aston Merrygold

  • “I’m actually just excited to try a whole new form of performance. You forget it’s a competition.”
  • “You want to see everyone pull through.”
  • On preparing to be a new dad: “I’m trying to get the daddy stuff done in the morning and the rehearsals in the afternoons.”
  • On training to get in shape for the skimpy outfits: “I’m not as nimble as I used to be. There’s a lot of glitter – I’ve been Strictly-fied.”
  • “I personally would just love to get to the final, to do all the weeks and learn everything on the way and learn all the different styles. But it doesn’t feel like a competition.”

Debbie McGee

  • On doing ballet dancing in the past: “Strictly has changed over the years. At the beginning it really was that you didn’t have any training. Lots of people have done it now who have. I did train as a ballet dancer over 30 years ago. But it’s like if you were at school and really good at high jump, and 35 years later you’re asked to enter a competition and you’ve got to do long jump.”
  • On late husband Paul Daniels, who previously took part in the show: “He would love it. He always wanted me to do it. He’d be smiling down on me, that’s for sure.”

Susan Calman

  • On having a moment with professional Gorka: “When I walked into the dressing rooms, one of the male dancers, I’m not going to say who – Gorka – had his top off. And I’ve actively avoided any contact with the male species for my entire life. And I went…. ‘he’s beautiful!'”
  • “I went home and my wife was like, ‘how’s it going?’ And there aren’t words to process what’s happening.”
  • On her fellow contestants: “We’re all in the same boat – we’re all going to learn how to dance.”

Simon Rimmer

  • “I feel I’ve made 14 new friends, whatever else happens. I know more about Joe and Davood than I do about people I’ve known 10 years.”
  • “It’s like a holiday romance. The minute you meet each other, you have to bond quickly because you’re all in the same terrifying situation.”
  • “There’s two WhatsApp groups. There’s the official one which everyone involved in Strictly gets to see. Then there’s the private one we have with the dancers which they don’t get to see, which is the proper fun one.”
  • On his family’s reaction to him taking part: “My wife rolled her eyes and shook her head.”

Joe McFadden

  • On the whole Strictly experience: “We’re all thrown together and going through this crazy thing together.”
  • On appearing in Holby at the same time as Strictly: “They’ve assured me they’re going to give me some light storylines. It’s filmed across the road – I always wanted to see what goes on over here and now I can.”
  • “We’re all getting rhinestone envy a bit. Jonnie had one the other day that was all different colours – it was really nice – and we had plain ones.”

Gemma Atkinson

  • “It sounds really cheesy but we’re in a nice bubble and we’re all in it together. It’s all good.”
  • “My worst fear is – you know when you run up the stairs after you dance? Falling off the stairs – that for me is more nerve-wracking. You’re going to be wobbly and out of breath.”
  • “My family have all been saying ‘You’ve done so well, it’s amazing… but it would be good if you could do Strictly.’ So they’re all going to come down. Everything’s happened at the right time.”

Chizzy Akudolu

  • “Forgetting the dance is the biggest fear. And falling down the stairs – but if we fall, we just pose and get up again.”
  • On advice from previous contestants: “I know Tameka [Empson] who did it last year – she said ‘enjoy it, enjoy it, enjoy it.’ She would have loved to go further and said ‘I’m going to live it through you.'”
  • “I’m dreading the waltz – it just hurts your legs! I’ve never done anything like that, and holding your arms up like that for a while, your back muscles…”
  • “I think our personalities change the minute we’ve got our make-up on, and the hair and the dresses. I become Aretha – that’s my nickname.”

Jonnie Peacock

  • “It’s a whirlwind at the moment – I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as possible. And then you sit at home and you get really nervous that you’re actually doing it.”
  • On seeing Davood at a costume fitting: “I got to stare at this lovely man’s derriere in a pair of tight Latin trousers – there’s not many better sights.”
  • On whether being an athlete will be an advantage: “Athletics is quite a high-impact sport. It’s going to be very different but that’s what I’m really looking forward to. I’m not sure it’s an advantage because it’s so far removed.”
  • On advice on training from former contestant Greg Rutherford: “I had a text from Greg saying – ‘they’ll say it’s 12 hours, it’s more like 40.'”

Brian Conley

  • “It’s so special. It’s the biggest show on national television and the level of professionalism from everyone is second to none. And we get very posh cars picking us up – my car had a massage chair. I’ve never been in a car so posh!”
  • “I’m very excited – genuinely excited. I love the show, my family have, so you do feel you know it. But you work so hard all week for one-and-a-half minutes live to the nation and worry that something silly might go wrong. You just want to do your best.”
  • On working with judge Craig Revel Horwood in the past: “I was really worried about working with Craig – it was on a show about Neil Diamond. But he was a pussycat. I’m sure he won’t be on this! He’s so knowledgeable – that man knows his stuff. He’s known as the ‘evil one’ but what he says is very constructive and it’s good to take that on board.”
  • On only getting two tickets for friends and family per show: “I’m selling mine on eBay – 10 grand each. I want to stay in the show so I could make 20 grand a week.”

Strictly Come Dancing is on BBC One on Saturday at 18:25 BST.


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