What would you say is your biggest fear doing a show like this?
If I’m going to be totally honest it would be that people are going to have very high expectations because I’m a professional dancer, but they forget it’s on ice! I can’t ice skate, so it’s a lot harder than I thought. I want to really enjoy my time on the show. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself because I know everyone is expecting me to be good, but I think they should bring their expectations down a bit. I’m going to work hard, as hard as I can, but I can’t ice skate.
Do you think that as you’re a dancer you’ll be able to use that to your advantage, being able to mask any flaws or hide your insecurities while performing?
Yes. I think I’ve probably got an advantage over people, where I can maybe sell a performance…as long as I’m still standing up right! If someone said ‘we’re doing an emotional dance this week’ then I should be able to do that, which for example a sportsperson may find more difficult. Remembering choreography, I suppose, but it’s not steps and I’m used to remembering steps. This is something totally different. I do have some advantages for sure, I understand that but I can’t ice skate. We’re all starting pretty much from the same place. I’m not going to be one of these people that says it doesn’t make a difference that I’m a dancer because of course it does. At the end of the day, it is very different if you’re lifting someone and your feet are planted on the floor to when you’re lifting someone and you’re on ice skates. The fear must be horrendous because it’s bad enough when my feet are on the floor, let alone when I can’t stand up myself!
On a more positive note, what excites you most about doing the show?
I am really looking forward to learning a new skill! I did ‘Strictly’ on the other side, I was always teaching someone my skill and I want a professional to teach me their skill. As I can’t ice skate at all, I want to see how good I can get and that excites me. I do work hard so I want to see how far I can push myself. I’m not getting any younger, I’m 40 years old now but I still want to see what I’ve got left in the tank.
Do you think whoever you’re partnered with has a bit of an advantage in that they’re getting someone who understands the rigour and what goes into the process?
Yes, I think there are a lot of people that when they join ‘Strictly’, they don’t realise how much is involved, like how tiring it is and how physically demanding it is on your body. I kind of already know what to expect a little bit. The only thing is, I’ve tried the boots on and they are so uncomfortable! Dance shoes are much more comfortable than ice skates but it’s part of the show and everyone is going to go through the same thing. I’m one of these people who thinks ‘I’m not going to give up and I’m going to give them everything I can.’ It might not be enough but I’m going to give it 100%.
Would you say professionally that this is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced because it’s very much out of your comfort zone?
Definitely. I would say this is the biggest challenge I’ve ever had, definitely out of any TV show I’ve done before, because I’m starting from scratch…apart from the fact, yes, I can dance. For me, I want to impress the judges with my skating technique, rather than my dancing ability. I want to really work on the skating, for me that is key.
Are you nervous in any way about the criticism that you’ll have to deal with every week?
I’ve been critiqued my whole life so I’m quite happy being critiqued. I was always the one who was quite protective on ‘Strictly’. If I felt someone was being too harsh on my partner I’d always speak up! Maybe I’ll be the one going back at the judges, but I’ve watched the show before and most of the time they’re pretty spot on in what they say. So, if they say I’m rubbish, you’ve just got to take it on the chin.
As you’re stepping into the shoes of a contestant, do you think that might give you a sense of understanding that you didn’t have before?
Yes! That’s another thing I’m excited about. To actually know what it’s like to be reliant on your pro. I did ‘Strictly’ for 8 years and I had 8 female celebrities who were listening to everything I said and trusting me 100%. I’ve now got to put my trust in someone else and let them take control, whereas I’m so used to being in control.
So, it’s going to be so different for me and it is quite daunting really because I am a bit of a control freak, but they’re the experts, I’ve got to listen to them otherwise I’m not going to get anywhere. I am excited about that!
Is it quite daunting that you could be spending the next few months on the ice?
It is a long time and I spent 20 minutes on the ice when I went for my initial meeting and my feet were killing me afterwards! Six months is a long time from start-tofinish but what an experience! I want to know how good I can get and push the boundaries. I’m excited. You’re learning a skill from the best people in the world. Not many people get to do that, it’s an honour really!
Looking back on the history of the show, is there any contestant whose success you’d like to emulate?
Last year, for me, I watched Jake Quickenden and I thought he was phenomenal. He’s far more flexible than me and he was amazing on the ice. If I can be half as good as Jake, I’ll be over the moon because I thought he did such a great job last year. Who is the best that’s ever been on the ice? Of course, Ray Quinn. There will never ever be anyone…ever, like Ray Quinn! He’s a freak of nature!
Who do you think your biggest supporters will be?
Obviously, my wife! My wife will be my biggest supporter and my family. I’ve got some celebrity friends out there so hopefully they’ll be supporting me and tweeting their support.
Do you think this could inspire Ola to take up a skill like this?
Possibly. The only thing is, Ola did The Jump and she got severely injured so I think that is always in the back of her mind. She wants to do it but she’s much more scared than me because of what happened to her before. She just wants to see me fall over! As long as I don’t break anything, she just wants to see me fall over I think…which is going to happen!