It’s almost impossible to fathom that a brand new series of Strictly Come Dancing is already upon us, but excitement for its much-welcome return is definitely mounting.
The 15 celebrities getting put through their paces in the ballroom this year have already been confirmed, and this Saturday we will see them paired up with their professional partner ahead of their dancefloor debut later this month.
In the lead-up to the launch show, HuffPost UK was among the media outlets who got to sit down with this year’s stars to chat all things Strictly. Here’s what they had to say…
Krishan Guru-Murthy has previously turned the show down, but there was a reason he had a change of heart
“We’ve been through a very difficult time, the pandemic, working from home, Ukraine war, political chaos. Things have felt very intense and I’ve said no lots of times because I’ve thought ‘I’m a serious person and I can’t deviate from that’. Whereas things have been so serious for the last couple of years I thought ‘you know what? You’ve been stupid saying no to this, you should go and enjoy this and experience something’.
“We only have one life and you’ve got to grasp everything when it’s there.”
Layton Williams literally cannot wait for the the whole Strictly wardrobe experience
“As long as it’s fabulous, as long as it’s me, as long as it’s authentic to what I would represent. The team has been so good. Obviously there will be certain costumes for the type of thing you’re doing ie. the storyline.
“I dress many different ways when I’m Layton, so why wouldn’t I do that on Strictly? I want to represent me, represent my community, and go out there, feel cute and slay.”
Ellie Leach was relieved to see some familiar faces on the line-up after signing up
“I knew Adam beforehand. So It was nice to find out Adam was doing it, because it was like a friendly face and made me feel a little bit less nervous. And Les actually… We worked on Corrie at the same time, but not in the same storyline.”
Angela Rippon is wearing her age as a ‘badge of honour’ after becoming Strictly’s oldest contestant
“You can’t get away from it, I shall be 79 in 3 weeks time!
“I made the film with Chris Van Tulleken, How Yo Stay Young [in 2016], where we did proper scientific research with a group in Germany into what’s the best kind of exercise to do as you get older. It was decided that actually dance is the overall best mind and body exercise, and I’ve been pushing that ever since.”
Nigel Harman previously worked as a dancer on a cruise ship
“I did a diploma in musical theatre when I was 16, so I’m used to dancing but I wasn’t in the top stream.
“When I left college, I was on a cruise ship for six months as a dancer. There were levels of cruise ship – we weren’t the best one. We tried hard and I had to wash the costumes in the shower – full glamour. And this is the truth, I didn’t tell anyone for five years because I was too embarrassed. It has a stigma to it, but now I’m quite proud of it. It makes me laugh!”
Nigel won’t be filming Casualty while he’s on Strictly
“I left Casualty at the beginning of August. I finished my last scene on Monday, and was here on the Friday.
″’m on screen until the end of February, and [there are] no plans to return at the moment. Basically, I’m dedicating my life to sweating and feeling anxious.”
Similarly, Bobby Brazier has been written out of EastEnders while he’s on the show
“I’m taking a break. I’ve filmed it all, and I’m not telling you [what happens]... I’ll be back.”
Bobby isn’t feeling the pressure of being the bookies’ early favourite
“I think that’s just because I’m young, they have no reason to think that. Just, I’m young and apparently quite fun.”
Angela Scanlon has The Fear about a certain dance
“I guess the Rumba… it strikes a bit of fear into me because it’s so slow. From watching it, you don’t get away with much. You can’t dazzle them with a silly hat.
“I’m kind of looking forward to the Charleston – although I feel like anything that involves that level of physicality… that’s going to be testing, I feel.”
Likewise, there’s one Amanda Abbington isn’t looking forward to either
“I’m not interested in doing the Jive!”
She adds of training for the show: “I feel like I’m chasing my body down the road going ‘come back!’. You suddenly realise you need an element of physical fitness I’ve never seen before. It’s brutal, but it’s good.”
Jody Cundy is more nervous for Strictly than he was at the Paralympics
“Strictly is the most nerve-wracking of all of them. When it comes to the Paralympics, I’ve spent my life training and I know everything that’s going to happen on that bike all the way to the finish line. So I know how to control myself, and I’ve got the crowd in the background.
“With Strictly, I don’t know how to dance. So I am going to basically learn how to dance and show everybody how to do it, in the space of about four or five days. So, that’s terrifying, and then to know there’s however many millions of people watching on TV, and I’m going to get feedback – that’s the next level of terrifying!”
Eddie Kadi was ‘numb’ when he got the call for Strictly, and says it was the ‘best moment’ of his career
“Honestly it was surreal. Growing up, Bruce Forsyth was my hero. I grew up watching people like Forsyth doing his tap dancing, Ronnie Corbert, all these guys. I was grounded a lot as a child, so I had to stay in and watch.
“I was like, I can’t believe this is happening. And it’s been such a journey to get to this point, in terms of my career. The best moment ever.”
Zara McDermott says it is ‘incredible’ to be the first Love Islander to do Strictly
“I was on Love Island for 10 or 11 days, and as much as I’m not ashamed of my reality background, at this point in my life, I’m a documentary maker. That’s what I do, that’s my full time job and it has been for three years now.
“As much as Love Island is where I started and it gave me a platform to do what I do now, which I’m so grateful for, that feeling of being the first person to come from that place is incredible. And I’m proud of myself and how hard I’ve worked to change perception around reality TV.”
Les Dennis is looking forward to being introduced to a new demographic
“Somebody will come up for a selfie and their kids will be going ‘who’s that?’. So it’ll be nice that those kids might go ‘you’ve got his photo, dad’.
“It’s a massive audience and it’s really diverse, so it’s lovely to be part of that.”
Annabel Croft admits that training has been ‘a shock to the system’
“How quickly they have thrown many steps at us. That was a shock to the system. It’s like a rollercoaster ride and you’re trying to play catch up all the time. I was shocked at how fast [the group dance] is and how quickly the moves were thrown at you.”
Adam Thomas’ years of publicly manifesting doing Strictly have finally paid off
“Every fucking year! I’m like, take the hint guys! The papers were going ‘Adam’s doing Strictly this year’ and I’m like ‘am I?!’.
“Because I’d been putting it out there for so many years, when they actually asked me to do it, I was like ‘don’t know if I want to do it now’. But I’m so happy that I did because again it’s one of those shows I’ve always wanted to do.”
Adam’s famous brothers had a typical reaction when they heard he was doing the show
“They just laughed. They were like ‘I don’t understand why you’d want to do a show when you cannot dance’.
“My kids are great dancers so they’ve been teaching me and showing me a few things, my son’s nine this week, Elsie’s five, so they’re going to be watching it and they’re huge fans of the show already.
“We’re going on this journey, but it’s not just us, it’s our family as well. They’ll be watching us every night, cheering us on, that’s what it’s about for me.”
Nikita Kanda is trying not to think too much about stepping out from behind the radio mic
“I do live radio every day, but no one can see me, so it’s like a different ballgame when you’re got millions of people watching you. That’s the scary bit, I try not to think about that.”
Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday at 6.35pm on BBC One.
These interviews were edited for length and clarity.