Bill Bailey Reveals The Secrets Behind His Most Famous Strictly Routine: 'It Was Nerve-Wracking For Oti'

The couple stormed to victory in 2020 after their Couple's Choice routine entered the Strictly Hall Of Fame.
 Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse were crowned winners of Strictly Come Dancing 2020
Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse were crowned winners of Strictly Come Dancing 2020
Guy Levy/BBC via PA Media

Bill Bailey has revealed his Strictly Come Dancing partner Oti Mabuse’s nerves ahead of what became one of the most beloved performances in the show’s history.

The comedian was crowned champion of the 2020 series, part in thanks to a joyous Couple’s Choice routine that was set to Sugar Hill Gang’s hit Rapper’s Delight, which they reprised in the grand finale.

In an interview for our Back To The Ballroom series, published next weekend, Bill opened up about the concerns Oti had before they performed it for the first time in week four of last year’s competition.

He told HuffPost UK: “Because we were out of hold, I pretty much had to dance it on my own. Normally, at least you have your partner as a guide and you can communicate with them. I was completely off the leash in that routine, so it was nerve-wracking for Oti.

“A lot of the time, she goes, ‘You’re dancing behind me, so I can’t see what you’re doing and I’m going to have to trust you are doing it right.’”

Revealing just how complex the routine was, Bill continued: “It was stuffed with things to do that require enormous concentration and synchronicity.

“It took a long time to get into my body on how to get this routine together, because there’s a lot of complex, complicated stuff to get right. It was incredibly detailed.”

Bill and Oti also had the help of two choreographers to help them create the routine, which scored 27 out of 30 when they performed it for the first time.

“Tommy Franzen and Lizzie Gough are the go-to hip-hop choreographers. What they did was to brilliantly incorporate some old hip-hop moves, some popping and locking and lots of complex business with props,” he said.

Bill also had a special connection to the song, adding: “It is one of my all time favourites. When I was a teenager, I learnt the entire nine-minute long version, so I used to perform it at parties as a party trick. So the chance to dance to this was fantastic.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Bill also revealed how Oti encouraged him to ditch his on-stage comedy persona while dancing on Strictly.

He said: “I’m used to going on stage, seeing an audience and you ramp it up – the light goes on and something happens, I’m in performance mode. Oti said to try not to do that, because what happens is you rehearse and rehearse and everything is going fine, but then you step out on the floor and you turn into Bill Bailey the performer. The performance is then great but the steps go out of the window.

“What she was basically saying was to try and control that and rein that excitement in and channel it into the steps and routine, and then you can enjoy it after – don’t enjoy it too much through the steps. And it was very true.”

Read Bill’s full Back To The Ballroom interview on Saturday 18 December on HuffPost UK.

Bill’s En Route To Normal tour kicks off in Plymouth on 12 December. Tickets and dates can be found at

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