STRICTLY COME DANCING 2018 – JUDGES, PRESENTER & CONTESTANT INTERVIEWS 0 128

Dust off your dancing shoes, Strictly Come Dancing is waltzing back onto BBC One for its 16th series.
The NTA and Bafta award-winning entertainment show produced by BBC Studios returns with more sparkle, glitz and glamour than ever.

The celebrities strutting their stuff on the dance floor this series are Ashley Roberts, Faye Tozer, Kate Silverton, Katie Piper, Lauren Steadman, Stacey Dooley, Susannah Constantine, Vick Hope, Charles Venn, Danny John-Jules, Graeme Swann, Joe Sugg, Lee Ryan, Dr Ranj Singh and Seann Walsh.

On Saturday 8 September at 7.35pm, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman host an exclusive premiere and roll out the red carpet to welcome the celebrity class of 2018 as they prepare to begin their Strictly adventure.

The fifteen celebrity contestants will make their grand entrance from the red carpet into the famous Strictly ballroom to discover which professional dancer they will be paired with. Once the pairings have been announced the celebrities and professionals will take to the dancefloor for the very first time for what promises to be, an entertaining group performance, launching the new series in Strictly style.

Our four fabulous judges Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood, Dame Darcey Bussell and Shirley Ballas return to the panel and will be casting their expert judgement every week.

Three new world-class dancers are joining the show, Italian Latin Champion Graziano Di Prima, Professional South African Latin Champion Johannes Radebe and four-time winner of the Italian Dance Championship Luba Mushtuk. They join Strictly favourites AJ Pritchard, Aljaž Škorjanec, Amy Dowden, Anton Du Beke, Dianne Buswell, Giovanni Pernice, Gorka Marquez, Janette Manrara, Karen Clifton, Katya Jones, Kevin Clifton, Nadiya Bychkova, Neil Jones, Oti Mabuse and Pasha Kovalev.

Once the celebrities are paired up with their professional dancer, they will have two weeks to rehearse before returning to the ballroom to perform live to the nation every Saturday night. There will be no public vote in the first week and the results show with Tess and Claudia will begin from week two on Sunday nights. From then, each week the two couples with the lowest combined scores, from the judges and public vote, will face each other in the dance off, and one couple will leave the competition for good.

At the halfway stage of the competition and now a Strictly Come Dancing tradition, the show will travel to the international home of ballroom dancing where the celebrities and their partners will perform at the world famous Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

Zoë Ball will also return to host Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two on BBC Two. The weekday show is back with even more exclusive access and backstage gossip than ever before.

Finally, there will be exclusive behind-the-scenes action available on the official Strictly website at bbc.co.uk/strictly and across social media on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. And this series for the first time they’re collaborating with BBC Three who will be creating exciting additional content across their digital platforms. There will also be even more Strictly news to enjoy via the official Strictly Come Dancing podcast.

MEET THE PRESENTERS – TESS DALY AND CLAUDIA WINKLEMAN

Meet Strictly’s fabulous presenting duo Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman.
Tess Daly
Tess returns to co-present another series of Strictly Come Dancing. She has the role of introducing the dances and probing the judges for their comments, whilst co-host Claudia Winkleman hosts the post-dance interviews with each couple.

After working around the world as a model and before landing her role on Strictly Come Dancing, Tess presented many other TV shows including SM:tv Live, Get Your Kit Off and the Royal Variety Performance. She also presented BBC One’s celebrity singing talent show Just the Two Of Us alongside husband Vernon Kay.

Earlier this year Tess hosted Sir Bruce: A Celebration, very special event which honoured the life of one of the UK’s biggest and best-loved entertainers and former Strictly Come Dancing presenter Sir Bruce Forsyth. She is also one of the hosts of the BBC’s Children In Need every year.

As well as being a successful columnist Tess is also a published author with titles The Camera Never Lies and It’s Up To You, New York to her name.

Tess has also been a proud patron of Great Ormond Street Children’s Charity for the past 11 years and acts as an Ambassador for the Princes Trust Charity.

Claudia Winkleman
Claudia Winkleman returns as co-host of Strictly Come Dancing with Tess Daly and will be providing first-hand reactions from the couples hot off the dance floor in the ‘Clauditorium’.

Claudia is a firm favourite with the Strictly audience, she has co-presented the Sunday night results show alongside Tess Daly since 2010, having previously hosted Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two. In 2015, Claudia was named Best Entertainment Presenter at the Royal Television Society Awards for her work on Strictly Come Dancing and has twice been nominated for Best Entertainment Performance at the Bafta TV Awards.

Claudia also hosts BBC One’s Britain’s Best Home Cook and presents a weekly show on BBC Radio 2.

MEET YOUR STRICTLY JUDGES

Bruno Tonioli
Bruno Tonioli has worked with some of the biggest and best names in the industry such as Elton John, Duran Duran, Freddie Mercury, Tina Turner, Paul McCartney to name but a few! He splits his time between London and Los Angeles to record both Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars, two of the most successful shows either side of the Atlantic. In 2015, he also served as a guest judge on Dancing with the Stars in Australia.

Bruno left Italy at the age of 18 to join the Paris-based dance company La Grande Eugene before joining the Lyndsay Kemp Company when he decided to make London his home. He worked as a freelance dancer (even appearing in Elton John’s music video for I’m Still Standing) before eventually moving over from dance to choreography.

In a twenty year career he has worked on a number of films and TV shows, from collaborating with Steve Coogan and French & Saunders, to instructing on dramas such as The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Blonde Bombshell. He has also had a hand in a number of movies including Little Voice starring Jane Horrocks and Ella Enchanted starring Anne Hathaway. He has also had a cameo role in the US sitcom Full House, and created the TV show formats Dance X and Dance Wars for BBC and ABC respectively.

In 2017 he fronted two arts documentaries for BBC Two; West Side Stories: The Making Of A Classic, and Saturday Night Fever: The Ultimate Disco Movie. He has a second series of Bruno Tonioli at the Opera returning to the Radio 2 airwaves later this year.

Bruno is now in his 16th series of Strictly Come Dancing and his 27th season of Dancing with the Stars.

Craig Revel Horwood
Craig’s work has taken him all over the world and along the way he has picked up a prestigious Olivier Award for his work on the West End musical Spend, Spend, Spend. Craig is constantly on the go choreographing and directing new stage projects – including the Strictly Live Arena Tour every year. Craig has also judged on the New Zealand version of Strictly Come Dancing.

Craig was born in a sleepy Australian town called Ballarat and when he was old enough, he moved away from his hometown to the bright lights of Melbourne where his dance career began. He appeared in productions including West Side Story, La Cage Aux Folles, Me and My Girl and many more.

He eventually headed to Europe where he joined the Lido Du Paris as a dancer in Panache and then as principle singer in Formidable at the Moulin Rouge, finding himself a year later in the UK tour of Cats in Edinburgh and Dublin. Craig also appeared in the original concert version of Jesus Christ Superstar. In the West End, Craig has performed in Cats, playing the part of Munkustrap, Miss Saigon and was an original cast member playing the part of Harry in Crazy For You. Craig has recently returned to his performing roots, playing Miss Hannigan in Annie.

Craig has directed numerous stage shows including most recently the hugely successful tour of Sister Act and the new Dusty Springfield musical Son of a Preacher Man.

Craig is now in his 16th series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Dame Darcey Bussell
Prima Ballerina Dame Darcey Bussell DBE is a former Principal Dancer at The Royal Ballet.

Darcey became a Principal at The Royal Ballet in 1989 aged only 20 years old and remained at the company for her entire career. She also performed as a principal guest artist with leading companies around the world, retiring from ballet in 2007. She came out of retirement to dance the ‘Spirit of the Flame’ at the Olympics closing ceremony in 2012.

Amongst her many patronages, she is President of the Royal Academy of Dance and International patron of the Sydney Dance Company. Her extensive broadcast work includes presenting documentaries such as Darcey Dances Hollywood, the ‘Looking for’ series on BBC One and she has presented The Royal Ballet’s popular worldwide cinema simulcasts since 2014.

Darcey first appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2008 when she performed a segment of Viva La Diva with Katherine Jenkins. She then appeared as a guest judge on the series in 2009, during which she and professional dancer Ian Waite danced a Jive together. Darcey joined the judging panel full time in 2012.

Shirley Ballas
Head Judge Shirley Ballas is a British-born ballroom and Latin dancer and international coach who joined Strictly last year.

Originally from Wallasey, Shirley is a former British Open to the World Champion and European, German, United Kingdom, United States and International Latin American Champion. She retired from competitive dancing in 1996. Shirley is now an acclaimed and respected international coach to many of the top professional and amateur dancers as well as a highly renowned sought-after adjudicator for ballroom and Latin American competitions judging all around the world.

Nicknamed the ‘Queen of Latin’, Shirley is one of the top and most decorated professional dancers in the world. She is three-time British Open to the World Latin American Champion, 10-time United States Latin American Champion, and multiple-times British National Champion.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
CONTESTANT INTERVIEWS

ASHLEY ROBERTS INTERVIEW

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?
Well the show is obviously amazing! I’m excited to put on the costumes, get glammed up and become characters. And also to learn a part of dance that I’ve never learned before and just have fun!

How would you rate your dancing?
I do have rhythm which is always a bonus and I think I’ll be able to pick it up well but it’s just really understanding the weight and the movement and the style and having the guy lead is just foreign to me because we did choreographed pieces and what I’ve done in the Dolls was booty popping and I don’t know if there’s booty pops in the Tango!

What are you looking for in a dance partner?
Someone that is focused and is ready to work hard with me but they have to be goofy. I love having fun and I want to take this seriously but we have to have a bit of fun in order to enjoy it. I’m quite goofy!

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
The live telly bit! Even though I’ve done performing I’m just a bit nervous and I don’t want to mess up, I don’t want to fall or miss a step or something. I’ve heard it’s really intense so I think the whole thing is going to be a challenge but I’m up for it.

Have you been given any advice or helpful tips by anyone/previous contestants?
I haven’t told a lot of people! From friends that have done it in the past they’ve all just said how amazing it is, the bond that they have with everybody that’s on their cast, so that’s what I’m really looking forward to. Finding some new friends and having a new group of people to hang out with, that’ll be fun.

Do you think your previous performance experience with The Pussycat Dolls will help with your confidence on the dancefloor?
I think so, in a way. Just understanding the performance side of things, how could it not? It’s just for me about learning something that’s different. I haven’t been on stage in this kind of capacity since the Dolls really and I did some stuff with Saturday Night Takeaway, but not performing performing!

CHARLES VENN INTERVIEW

How would you rate your dancing?
I’d like to think I’ve got rhythm. In terms of rating my dancing, I would say I’m probably a 6, still 4 more to go! Between a 5 and a 6 I’d give myself.

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
My biggest challenge will be mastering the steps, memorising them. Hopefully from learning scripts that’ll put me in good stead but I take nothing for granted and this is completely different for me

How much time can you commit to Strictly? What else have you got going on?
I’m currently shooting Casualty, I’m playing a series regular on that so that’s going to be challenging, no doubt about that. I will still have to put in 2-3 hour sessions per day so it’s going to be tricky but like I said, life is all about challenges.

What do your Casualty colleagues will think of you doing the show?
Oh I think they’ll be excited. I’ve been told many a time ‘I think you’d be great on Strictly’, so they’ll be very surprised that I’m doing it but excited.

What do your children think of you doing the show?
My son was like ‘Oh Dad, don’t embarrass me’ and the others were like ‘It’s weird you’re going to be dancing with another girl’ that sort of thing.

DANNY JOHN-JULES INTERVIEW

Are you a Strictly fan?
I’m a fan of dance full stop. I started dancing in nightclubs and did a few dance classes to be better than the guys in the clubs. A lot of club dancers did that and went on to be professional dancers.

How would you rate your dancing?
When I was in a local drama group in a church hall I was in the world disco dancing championships in the Hammersmith Apollo. That was the only competition I ever did and I came second or third.

Are you nervous about taking part in Strictly?
I’m not really nervous; I don’t have a fear of losing.

How do you feel about being Strictlified? (Hair, make up, costumes, spray tans)
It’s a bit like my career has been in the past really – dressing up, spangly clothes, diamantes, big earrings, and more makeup than Tina Turner.

Who’s the first person you told? How have people reacted?
My other half who was loving it! They watch it with the kids so they’re all over the moon and so is everyone who knows me pretty much.

Who’s on the list to come watch you dance?
Pretty much everyone who knows me thinks they’re on the wish list!

FAYE TOZER INTERVIEW

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?
I’ve wanted to take part in Strictly forever and it’s just an absolute dream come true! It’s something that I always wanted to do. Last year, Steps came and did the Halloween special and that just spurred me on even more.

Who was the first person you told? How have people reacted?
I was on holiday in Portugal and I was just walking down the street with my husband, got the phone call and I literally bawled my eyes out, I was in shock. I was so amazed and so over the moon. It was brilliant, absolutely wonderful.

How would you rate your dancing?
I think I’d say that I’m a pretty good dancer. I’m very well known for throwing a few shapes with Steps anyway but I’ve never done any ballroom or latin and looking back on past videos and YouTube and things like that, it is a really specific thing so I’m ready to give it my all and give it a go.

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
Keeping my nerves I think, because it’s a completely foreign situation for me. I can get very nervous and I can actually be quite shy which is probably something that you wouldn’t know. It’s a completely different format for me so I don’t know how I’m going to be.

What are you most nervous about for Strictly?
I think, blanking in the middle of a routine and forgetting where I am! I won’t have the audience doing the moves back to me this time; it’s going to be just me on my own. Tripping over is a bit of a fear, a bad dream that I’ve been having. Falling down the stairs – I mean, anything could happen!

Do you think your performance experience with Steps will help you with your confidence on the dancefloor?
I think my experience in performing on TV is going to help me a little bit because I kind of know what to expect but I’ve never been on my own in the situation I’ve always had the four others to bounce off of and have them to calm me down. H usually says to me if I’m feeling nervous before a show ‘don’t worry you’ve got the job, you’ve got the job. Go out and give it to them’ so I’m going to have to remember that.

GRAEME SWANN INTERVIEW

Why are you taking part in Strictly this year?
Basically because my kids asked me to!

What are you most looking forward to on Strictly?
The outfits and the actual performance aspect. I love performing in front of people, I miss that from when I played cricket so I think I’ll really enjoy the live shows. Most people apparently get really nervous and don’t look forward to it but I’m the opposite. I’m not looking forward to the training but I am looking forward to the show.

What are you not looking forward to?
Having my chest waxed potentially. That’s not happening – I’ll fight to the death if anyone tries it!

Are you going to give all your time to Strictly?
That’s one of my worries actually – I’ve got so much going on as the cricket season is still going on and my job for the BBC is to talk about cricket. So fitting it in may be a bit tricky but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. I think the later shows when we get to autumn will be great because the cricket season finishes but the September shows – eeek!

How far do you hope to make it in the competition?
If I’m honest I hope to win it! I’m not going to go into a competition unless I’m going in to win it. I’m a sportsman. You won’t find sportsmen doing anything they don’t think they can win.

Winning The Ashes or holding the Glitterball trophy?
Well I’ve won the Ashes three times and I like new challenges…!

JOE SUGG INTERVIEW

Why are you doing Strictly?
So, I’m taking part in Strictly because I have been doing YouTube for six years now and I love it, to me it’s the best job in the world but I love a challenge. And I can’t dance, my dancing skills aren’t great at the moment but I’m excited to learn a new skill.

I wrote out a big list of the pros of doing the show and it was quite a long list, and there were lots of good points – especially knowing my mates and family would love it. Especially my grandparents, because they’re just obsessed with the show. It would make them really proud, I think, to see me go on there and give it a go.

Are you a fan of the show?
Yes! I was in year eight when it started so it’s been a part of my growing up basically. The family all love it which is what got me into it, it’s always been a big thing within our family so it’s very exciting.

How would you rate your dancing?
At the moment I would rate it a 2 out of 10 and that’s me being nice to myself.

How far do you think you’re going to make it in the competition? Are you competitive?
I do have a competitive side but if I’m not very good at something then I usually admit that I’m not good at it and try to turn it into comedy, whereas with this I’d love to actually progress more and more. I played tennis recently for the first time in a long time and I realised why I don’t play tennis very often and it’s because I’m useless at it. It’s one of those things where I know that I’m bad so I try to make everyone laugh by being bad. Hopefully I will do alright.

How do you feel about the spray tans and outfits?
Because it’s going to be on in the autumn and winter you have just got to embrace it, I’m just going to go for it. I’m a big fan of spray tans, I’m happy to get spray tanned if it means I look tanned in the winter. From what I’ve seen of the outfits so far they’ve all be fine but I’m sure more and more sequins will be added each week. I’m excited, bring it on!

Who was the first person you told?
The first person I told was my sister I think. Because she is a big name in the YouTube world and a big name to the public I wanted to get her advice and blessing as I knew straight away that I would be referred to as Zoella’s brother in every news article. Which is completely fine with me but obviously if she doesn’t like that kind of stuff then I would have appreciated that. So I wanted to check with her that she was cool with me doing it and she was like you would have to do it. I think she would love to do it but she’s just a little bit too scared and nervous.

Who is on the list to come and watch you dance?
If I ever got to Blackpool, which is quite far in isn’t it?! If I was lucky enough to get there, I would love to get my 96 year old nan up as she used to dance there when she was young. My nan and grandad as well as they’re one of the main reasons I wanted to do the show. And lots of my YouTube friends, I have to prioritise people I guess as I don’t know how long I will be on there for! So I might have to put the most important people first.

KATE SILVERTON INTERVIEW

Why are you taking part in Strictly this year?
When asked in previous years I have either been away reporting from Iraq and then Afghanistan or raising a young family so the time was not right for me personally or career wise. This year felt perfect and a wonderful interlude to my work in news and journalism.

How are you feeling now that you’ve signed up to the world of Strictly?
I feel absolutely liberated and gleeful about it. It is wonderfully beyond my comfort zone. The nearest thing would be having done Children in Need with my fellow newsreaders – and I remember how nervous we all got about doing that so this will be magnified a thousand times! But life should be nothing if not an adventure and I am looking forward to embracing the experience.

Are you a fan of the show?
It is a show I love watching – usually from the newsroom when I am working on a Saturday night! In the past I could be seen writing my headlines whilst keeping an eye on who is tackling the tango or sizzling in the samba… I have no idea how the professional dancers get complete novices like me to put anything like a routine together but I guess I am about to find out!

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
All of it will be a challenge – put it this way I have not worn skirts that short since playing netball in high school. I have never had a man ‘lift’ me and certainly never danced in front of millions so I am headlong into a very steep learning curve!

Have you been given any advice or helpful tips by any previous contestants?
Katie Derham told me it will be like ‘nothing else I have ever done’ and described it as being a rhinestoned blitz spirit with everyone pulling together through an extraordinary (and glittery) few weeks and months. She also added to have lots of blister plasters and knee supports! Everyone I know who has done it – from Naga (Munchetty) to Charlotte (Hawkins) and Denise (Van Outen) have all said how utterly fantastic it is and just to have the most fun – train hard and have fun.

Are your kids excited?
My son is four and a half and my daughter nearly seven so she is more aware of the programme now although this will be the first time she will have been allowed to stay up late to watch it! I think until they actually see me in costume and dancing they will find it difficult to grasp as a concept. I have simply told Wilbur that mummy will be shaking her bottom and as anyone with a four year old boy will know – any talk of bottoms is utterly hilarious so he’s all in favour.

KATIE PIPER INTERVIEW

Why are you taking part in Strictly this year?
I think it’s a totally new challenge. It’s something I’ve never done before and its totally new territory and I really believe in pushing yourself and taking on new challenges. Probably mainly because it’s actually fun and I’m so excited to do something that I’m excited about, and excited to talk about and I’m going to learn something new. No matter how far I get I’ll notice a big change in myself that will continue after the show.

How would you rate your dancing?
I’m not even on the scale, like seriously! I’m so bad I can’t even clap to the beat when I’m watching a musical!

What are you looking for in a dance partner? Who would you like to be partnered with?
Somebody that’s really confident and who can teach me how to be that confident when moving and dancing on the floor but somebody who can help me have fun with it. I want them to be determined and professional but also help to get the best out of it enjoyment-wise.

How much time can you commit to Strictly? Or are you giving your time to Strictly? What else have you got going on?
I’m going to try to commit as much time as possible. The struggle won’t be other work but more my role as a mum because I have two girls. One was only born in December and my oldest girl loves dancing so I’ll try involve her and get her excited her about it.

How do you feel about being Strictlified? (Hair, make up, costumes, spray tans)
I think that’s one part that I’m going to revel in. I’m quite a glamourous person and I love tanning and makeup so I’m going to be so excited by that. I’ve had a costume fitting and that was so cool because you think where else would you ever get to wear this?!

LAUREN STEADMAN INTERVIEW

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?
I think Strictly, for me, has always been a chance to learn something new, not necessarily make a fool of yourself but just go out there with no pressure and learn a new skill. Obviously dance with a partner and I just love the fact that with Strictly, the whole country gets behind you and it’s more of a family and a community. It’s been my favourite TV show since I was a little girl. Every Saturday night I’d sit down with Mum and Dad with our dinner and watch it and I always thought ‘wow’. I suppose every little girls says ‘I wish I could dance like that’ so that sparked it and then it actually became something that might be possible.

What are you looking for in a dance partner and have you got anyone in mind?
I wouldn’t say I’ve got anyone in mind I’m pretty flexible. But someone quite similar to how I’m coached as an athlete would be ideal: to-the-point, direct, straight talking but with an element of fun. If it’s all work and no play I just don’t function, I need to have a little bit of balance.

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
I have looked at some of the dances and seen the different styles and the moves and I think the biggest challenge will be getting around certain moves with my arm, that’s a challenge I’ll take on with my pro. I’m not worried about it but I know we’re going to have to think outside the box and perhaps do things differently but we’ll get around it.

How far do you hope to make it in the competition?
I think it’s hard to ask an athlete why are you here? How far do you want to go? Definitely when I start things I’m in it to be the best that I can be. Whether that takes me all the way to the end, I hope it does, I wouldn’t see the point in coming in and not trying to finish but that is just my attitude. If not, I’d just love to get my dancing to the point where I’m proud of myself, I’ve learnt a new skill, gained a new confidence in an area that I didn’t have before , then I’ll be chuffed.

How are you balancing your athletics career with Strictly?
So the World Championships are on the 15th of September so I’m in full training mode until then. I fly home and go straight into Strictly mode. Normally after the championships, triathletes have four to five weeks off but I will be fully focused on Strictly and then I’ll slowly build my training back in. But I have no competitions until April so it’s Strictly all the way!

How do you feel about the Strictly makeovers?
That’s quite exciting because I can be quite girly but most of the time I’m pretty sporty so it’s nice to not be in trainers, sweaty hair, no make-up, sports kit for once!

LEE RYAN INTERVIEW

Are you a fan of the Strictly Come Dancing?
How can you not be a fan? Simon (Webbe) is still talking about his experience four years later!

Have you any previous dance experience?
I did learn dance at Italia Conti when I was young but it was never my favourite class. I used to sneak out and wait for the singing lessons! I asked my son Rain if I am good dancer, he said no…

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
Learning all the different routines, I am so out of my comfort zone with this. All we have in Blue is a shoulder move!

Have you been given any advice or helpful tips by anyone?
Simon has been a great help, he just told me to watch and listen to everyone around me and give it my best and that’s all I can do.

How far do you hope to make it in the competition?
I’m in it to win it!

How have people reacted to you taking part?
Once we knew it was happening, my manager told me I couldn’t tell anyone, there’s always this big secret about Strictly so I think for many it was a shock when it was announced. Even the band didn’t know! The feedback has been good; I have had a lot of phone calls and text messages!

DR RANJ SINGH INTERVIEW

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?
Gosh – it’s always been a dream. Strictly is one of those shows that is loved by so many people and it has a special place in everyone’s lives, it IS Saturday night and I’ve always wanted to be a part of it.

What are you looking for in a dance partner?
I would say someone who is patient because it takes me time to pick stuff up. Somebody who is direct and is able to be honest with me and just say it like it is because I won’t take it the wrong way. And above all that somebody who’s fun really, who can have a laugh with me.

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
Trying not to get in my own head. I’m a perfectionist and I want to do everything perfectly and it’s good to try and get out of that mind set and think sometimes you just have to be good enough. There’s only a limited time to do this so I’ve just go to lower my expectations a bit.

What are you most nervous about for Strictly?
Two things: going out in week one, I just don’t want that but someone has to but I don’t want to! And falling over… oh and three, splitting my trousers!

You got your first GCSE when you were only eight years old, which proves you’re a quick learner! Will that come in handy when learning the dances?
I am a geek. I like to study and study things until I get it right and I’m hoping that attention to detail in learning will help me pick stuff up but what I’ve learned is that learning movement is totally different to learning information so I don’t know what it’s going to be like, I really don’t.

SEANN WALSH INTERVIEW

Why are you taking part in Strictly this year?
I’m taking part in Strictly because I think it would be absolutely amazing to come out of something having learnt a skill and with the way I am, when I’m not doing stand-up I tend to just sit there and watch television or go to the pub with my mates so this is the way to go. For me to become a fully formed adult I want to do more things like this. After Strictly Come Dancing I want Strictly Come Cooking and then Strictly Come Spanish, Strictly Come Guitar, Strictly Come Driving – do you know what I mean?

Are you a fan of the show?
The last two series I’ve been watching, following it and I’ve started to form an opinion. What happens is, if you’re a bloke your partner might force you to watch it and you might reluctantly view it and then half an hour in you’re going ‘Come on… that was not a 7. That was a 9. That was a superb Paso Doble!’

How would you rate your dancing?
I’m not just saying this; we’re starting at zero here. It’s bad. I’m hoping that we start at zero and we go on a journey and I’m fearful of, we start at zero and we end on a zero.

How do you feel about the hair and makeup on the show?
Well I play a character in a Jack Dee sitcom who’s a sort of rock star called Grizzo. He’s quite flamboyant and I love being him, he wears make-up and his clothes are a bit more extravagant so I’ve got a bit of a taste for it. Getting done up, let’s just do it!

Have you been given any advice or helpful tips by anyone?
I told my mum and the first thing she said was ‘But Seann, you can’t dance?’ And I’ve told my closest friends and all they’ve done is laugh very loudly and continuously for five minutes. Each and every one of them has had the same reaction.

STACEY DOOLEY INTERVIEW

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?
I know it’s a bit of a cliché but I have always loved the show. I think it’s brilliant that it’s something the whole family can be involved with and also you’re learning a genuine skill. My work is so heavy and it’s quite hard-core and it can be quite harrowing at times, Strictly is total escapism. A real treat in that sense, dancing and enjoying myself and not have to be too earnest or too straight and just celebrate that side of me.

How would you rate your dancing?
The thing about my dancing is, I actually think I’m magnificent. I think I really look the part. Everyone else around me is like ‘You’ve got to be joking. You’re so erratic, really over the top and you’ve got no rhythm whatsoever’ so it’s a bit of a split jury. We’ll soon see.

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
There are a couple of things, the nerves. I think everyone thinks because work is quite rock and roll that I’m quite brave but I am quite nervous, so dealing with those nerves. Also, I’ve got so much work in September I think it’s going to be tricky juggling the dancing, the training and the work.

How do you feel about being the Strictly makeover?
You have to jump in with both feet I think. Normally I’m quite reserved and quite stripped back, I don’t really wear make-up to work and I never look particularly fancy but watch this space.

Which would take centre stage on your mantelpiece, your MBE or the Glitterball trophy?
The Glitterball of course! Must you ask…

SUSANNAH CONSTANTINE INTERVIEW

Why are you taking part in Strictly this year?
Because after twenty years of helping other women gain confidence I think I need some myself and I think Strictly will give me that.

How would you rate your dancing?
Terrible.

Are you a competitive person?
I am very competitive and I have to be realistic about how far I’ll get so I’m keeping my expectations very low but my hopes high.

How do you feel about being Strictlified? (Hair, make up, costumes, spray tans)
I can’t wait to be Strictlified – that’s part and parcel of the show. Seeing how all the clothes are made, I’m obsessed with the whole design. It’s like being made a couture wardrobe, everything is made to measure and those girls are incredible. The way they can manipulate your body with the shapes and sequins, frills, and re-proportion your body and make it look okay.

How do you feel about the Strictly costumes? Will you be critiquing them at all?
I would like to be involved but not directing the costume team as they know what works far better in this instance so I’m just going to be really interested but not controlling.

Who’s on the list to come watch you dance?
My kids and Trinny (Woodall), in fact she was the first person I told and she said to me ‘oh my gosh you’ll be brilliant’ but I don’t think she meant the dancing…

VICK HOPE INTERVIEW

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?
I love dancing, it makes me really happy. I’m not professionally trained or anything, I did a bit of contemporary when I was younger which has nothing to do with latin or ballroom. I used to pretend to be a tree or a rock and express myself experimentally. When I go to a club I don’t think there’s a happier place than when you’re dancing and feeling the music.

When you’re younger you are constantly learning and then you grow up and you stop learning because you have a job and a routine. Learning is so stimulating and exciting and it’s a real privilege to learn something and get my teeth stuck into this.

How would you rate your dancing?
I love dancing although it doesn’t mean that I’m particularly very good at it. At Capital whenever we’re playing songs I literally throw myself around the studio, I like to move to music and I’ve broken chairs, a bit of the wall, spilt coffee everywhere!

What will be your biggest challenge during Strictly?
Ballroom styles, the techniques and the technicalities. I literally don’t have a clue, I’m going to start watching ballroom dances and Fred Astaire to get to grips with it, I have no picture in my mind of what it’s supposed to look like. I’ve seen it on Strictly but I think you need to back to the very beginning and watch them to know what it’s supposed to be.

Previous ArticleNext Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

JOE MINOSO TALKS THE ‘CHICAGO FIRE’ MID-SEASON FINALE & WHAT 2019 HAS IN STORE 0 96

Having been acting since he was a teenager, Joe Minoso is no stranger to entertaining audiences, but it’s his role as firefighter Joe Cruz on the hugely successful series Chicago Fire that’s brought him to trans-Atlantic attention and earned him a growing army of fans and supporters. With the show airing its mid-season finale tonight, ThisIsTheLatest spoke to Joe about what fans can expect from the exciting episode, the many shows he’d love – and would have loved – to appear in and his advice for aspiring actors.

TITL: What is it about acting and performing that you enjoy so much? Do you still get that thrill and rush that you used to when you first started out?

Joe Minoso: Especially in television, I appreciate that there’s new stuff thrown at you all the time. As an actor, I think you get joy in figuring out the puzzle of being a character that is always evolving… Some days it can feel like you’re dealing with the drudge of any 9 to 5 job. But there are always days, even seven years later, where you can’t help but feel the electricity in the room.

TITL: Have you ever thought about taking up another career, or has it always just been about acting for you? 

JM: I have been acting since I was 15 years old and it’s always been my first love. I’ve recently started looking into directing. But if I weren’t an actor, I would probably be an editor. I think it’s probably the most fascinating part of what we do. It’s amazing how many things get dictated in the editing room.

TITL: What do you think it is about Chicago Fire that keeps fans so interested in the show? What’s its selling point?

JM: I think that family is the one thing that sets Chicago Fire a part, even from the other Chicago shows, and also our blend of action and comedy. First responders, firefighters and paramedics specifically, see some of the most horrific things you could ever see as a human. Because of that, they find themselves goofing off and finding excuses to laugh as often as possible. We strive to translate that on screen with every episode. I think that’s a quintessential part of the show, always being there to make each other laugh in the face of gruesome circumstances.

TITL: What first interested you in the role of Joe Cruz and how have you enjoyed his character arc and development as the show has gone on? 

JM: I was interested in any role that I can get when I got the role of Joe Cruz. I was just lucky enough to be hired. His name was originally Timothy Haze when I auditioned. Once I got the role, they changed the name to Joe Cruz. I would say if the character has evolved in anyway it would be more lighthearted than they originally planned. And maybe less of a ladies man.

TITL: The mid-season finale of the show is today, Wednesday 5th. Without obviously giving anything away, is there anything you can tease fans about what to expect from the episode in general and your character’s part in it?

JM: It’s actually a pretty big episode for Cruz. A girl he’s been seeing pretty seriously is involved in a major car crash. So the episode becomes about the emotional journey for Cruz as he has to navigate whether or not she will survive and also meeting her parents for the first time.

TITL: Any fun stories you can share from set this season? 

JM: I can say that Yuriy, along with my wife, planned a surprise party for my 40th birthday this year. Pretty much everyone from Fire and many people from the other Chicago shows were there. It was an incredible day filled with a treasure hunt, that led me to places from my past in the city. It ended with an incredible party at the Flamingo Rum Club with a Cuban band and dancers and drinks named after me. It really was insanely special.

TITL: You’ve also appeared in Shameless, Prison Break and Man of Steel, among several other big projects. Do you have any favourite memories or moments from your time on those sets?

JM: I just think it’s pretty funny when people ask me about Man of Steel and how impressed they are that I worked on that movie. I worked for one day, I am literally a blur on screen in that film. But it was incredible to be on such a big budget set. It was slightly overwhelming to see just how many people it took to take on an endeavor of that size. We were filming a major scene where a building basically falls on a bunch of citizens. I got to work with Laurence Fishburne. Tremendous experience.

TITL: Of the many projects you’ve been a part of, which might you say you’re most proud of? 

JM: Chicago Fire. I’ve had the opportunity to do the most varied work of my career on this show. I think Cruz is a really good guy with a big heart and that’s a lot of fun to play.

TITL: If you could appear in any other TV series, past or present, and not including the ‘Chicago’ group of shows, which would it be and why? 

JM: So many! The Wire, The Office, Breaking Bad, Westworld, Stranger Things, One Day At A Time, and Game of Thrones. I think the main reason for any of them is because they do amazing work in whatever regardless of genres. Whether comedy or drama or action, I consider them the pinnacle of what they do and it would be tremendously exciting to be a part of something like that.

TITL: Away from the screen, you’re involved with many charities and organizations notably Shriners Hospital For Children, the Salvation Army and WWF. How important is it to you that you’re able to give back and help the communities and people around you less fortunate than yourself, and speak out about issues that are important to you? Would you like to see more people in the public eye do the same? 

JM: I recognize that this job has given me something of a small platform where I can highlight causes that are important to me. I think it’s important for anyone who has a means to communicate with a large portion of the world, to be responsible and try to make that world a better place. Anything that I can be involved with that is helping children, or first responders is at the top of my priorities right now. I also recently lost my mother to a battle with cancer. So I have been trying to focus on cancer organizations that are working on raising money and awareness. The way I see it, if you have a pretty good lot in life, you have to reach out and help those who don’t.

TITL: Being on such a demanding show such as Chicago Fire must take a toll, so how do you unwind after a long shoot or hectic filming schedule comes to an end?

JM: My wife and I are big-time homebodies. We love to sit on the couch and either watch TV or listen to music or play board games. I would say during hiatus though, we try and take advantage of traveling when we can. My wife loves the outdoors and has turned me into something of a nature lover myself. we do our best to find waterfalls wherever we can.

TITL: What advice would you give to anyone just starting out in the entertainment business? Is there anything you wish you’d been told, or comment/piece of advice you always come back to and reflect on? 

JM: Be true to yourself. Be confident in your art.  Arrive prepared but ready to play. Be a professional but also a friend.

TITL: Are there any other projects in the pipeline you can tell me about? 

JM: Fire takes up a lot of the year but I’ve been meeting with writers about directing something, and I’m currently working on a pilot script with Christian Stolti and Yuri Sardarov. Just laying foundations for a future project.

TITL: Finally then, the holidays are just around the corner, as is 2019. What are your plans for the festive period and what does the new year have in store for you personally and professionally? 

JM: Spending time with the family. And resting as much as possible. I’m excited to have this year over with!  It was a rough year for me personally and I am happy to have the opportunity for a reset. Things feel like they are in an upswing though.  I’m very excited to have recently signed on with Abrams Artist and the opportunities that will bring. I look forward to cultivating a path forward with them and hope to see big things happen in 2019!

The mid-season finale of Chicago Fire airs tonight at 9/8c on NBC in the US and you can follow Joe on Twitter. Header photo credit: Brant Brogan.

ITV ANNOUNCES FESTIVE SEASON HIGHLIGHTS 0 64

ITV has a stocking full of Christmas and New Year treats for viewers this year, including new drama, Christmas specials of viewer favourites, new documentaries, entertainment events and free to air film premieres.

Brand new one-off drama, Torvill & Dean (Christmas Day, 9.15pm), premieres this Christmas on ITV. Starring Will Tudor (Game Of Thrones, Humans) and Poppy Lee Friar (Ackley Bridge, In The Club) as the iconic leads, the feature-length film explores Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean’s early years and the creative impetus that finally drove them to become ice dancing royalty. Written by acclaimed film, television and theatre writer, William Ivory (Made in Dagenham,Burton and Taylor), the one-off drama will follow the pair’s humble beginnings and family life in Nottingham and how they came together to become Olympic champions.

Also this Christmas, ITV brings viewers the free-to-air premiere of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (December 30th 8pm), plus festive favourite Elf (December 16th, 6pm) will back on television for its premiere on ITV.

Viewers will also have the chance to watch the classic 1984 Gremlins (Christmas Eve, 9.30pm) which will follow The Keith and Paddy Picture Show: Gremlins (Christmas Eve, 9pm), in which which Keith Lemon and Paddy McGuinness recreate the iconic movie with the help of an all-star cast. For this festive one-off they recreate the 80’s classic with guest stars including Zach Galligan, Kara Tointon, John Thomson, Su Pollard, Les Dennis and Arthur Bostrom. Further comedy comes in the form of a Bad Move – Festive Cheer Christmas special starring Jack Dee and Kerry Godliman (Christmas Eve 8.30pm).

There will be Christmas specials of shows including Through The Christmas Keyhole (December 14th, 9pm), The Jonathan Ross Christmas Show (December 22nd, 9pm), What Would Your Kid Do? (December 23rd, 7pm), The Chase: Bloopers (December 23rd, 8pm), Judge Rinder’s Christmas Kids Court (Christmas Eve 5.30pm), Tipping Point: Lucky Stars Christmas Special (29th December 7pm) and Paul O’Grady for The Love of Dogs Christmas (Christmas Day, 5.55pm).

It will be an eventful Christmas in ITV’s soaps this year, for Coronation Street and Emmerdale. In Emmerdale Jessie’s planning a surprise festive wedding with Marlon Dingle, but will she manage to dupe the unsuspecting groom and get him down the aisle? With such secretive plans for the nuptials and Marlon believing he’s doing the catering, Sam thinks he might be the lucky groom. With one misunderstanding after another will Jessie and Marlon exchange their vows and seal their partnership with a kiss under the mistletoe?

Meanwhile Bob is facing a bleak Christmas alone in his room at the B&B, following his break up from Laurel. Beyond the point of crying, Bob is a shadow of his former self and it’s clear Christmas has well and truly broken him. It is the season of goodwill to all men, but Bob isn’t feeling festive. Will 2019 bring him health, happiness and prosperity?

In Coronation Street affairs of the heart will set pulses racing in Weatherfield as the residents get into the festive spirit. But as families gather and glasses are raised will there be peace on the cobbles or will anyone find themselves on the naughty list?

Johnny’s infidelity with Liz is still playing on Jenny’s mind and, having overdone the Christmas spirit, the Rovers’ landlady does something she will live to regret. With Sally behind bars for the festive season Gina is enjoying her time with Tim, perhaps a little too much. Meanwhile, Daniel is determined to make this a Christmas to remember for him and his pregnant wife Sinead.

At the Platts’ Audrey has a surprise for her dysfunctional family and at Bessie Street Primary School, Bran hosts a nativity with a difference that leaves the pupils and parents open mouthed, just not necessarily for the right reasons.

Entertainment treats this Christmas include The Royal Variety Performance (December 11th, 7.30pm) this year hosted by Greg Davies, an unforgettable evening of the best UK and international musical performers, extraordinary theatre and brilliant comedy as well as a number of surprises along the away. Stars lined up to appear include one of the UK’s biggest bands, the multi-award-winning Take That, the West End cast of the phenomenal hit musical Hamilton, chart topper George Ezra, award winners Clean Bandit, West End cast of Tina – The Tina Turner Musical and the legendary Andrea Bocelli & his son Matteo.Also taking to the stage are, Britain’s Got Talent winner, comedian The Lost Voice Guy, a special performance from Rick Astley, comedian Rhod Gilbert, the mesmerising Cirque Du Soleil, plus music from Sigrid and cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Circus 1903 will be unveiling their unique and beautifully crafted performances with their extraordinary elephant puppetry, and there will be more comedy from stand up comedians Gad Elmaleh and Rod Woodward.

In the run up to Christmas ITV will celebrate 20 Years of The Black Eyed Peas (December 22nd, 10pm), with Joanna Lumley presenting a one-hour special featuring exclusive performances of some of the global super group’s greatest hits. A whole host of international celebrities and faces from the music industry, as well as the friends and family that have shaped their lives, will share their insights into the group and what makes them such a unique and special act. Away from the bright lights on stage, the show will take a look back at how The Black Eyed Peas came to be.

Best Christmas Ever with Alexander Armstrong (December 16th, 9pm) is a one-off festive special, hosted by TV favourite Alexander Armstrong where he’ll be joined by some very special celebrity guests, all on a mission to find out what really makes the best Christmas ever. Much like the big day itself, there will be games, sing-along and polite but firm disagreement as our celebrity guests battle it out to crown the best Christmas food, song, movie and much, much more.

Plus Olly Murs will be heading back to his Essex roots as he takes over an entire pub to put on a jam-packed night of games, chat and performances of all his biggest hits. As he celebrates a decade at the top with his sixth album, You Know I Know, Happy Hour with Olly Murs (December 15th, 9pm) will be the ultimate homecoming party with a specially invited audience of friends, family and famous faces. With the bar packed to the rafters, there will be laughs aplenty as Bradley Walsh – who Olly affectionately calls his ‘showbiz dad’ – is pub landlord for the night. Emma Willis will be the resident Karaoke Queen as she hosts special singalongs for any game guests that choose to step up to the mic and entertain the crowd. Fellow Voice coach Sir Tom Jones will be dropping in to join in the fun and there will be a very special exclusive duet from Jennifer Hudson and Olly.

In The Big Soap Quiz: Coronation Street v Emmerdale (December 21st, 9pm) hosted by Stephen Mulhern, the casts of the two soaps will battle it out to find out who knows their soap best. Headed by team captains Jack P Shepherd and Mark Charnock, which soap will lift the trophy this year?

In Bradley Walsh: When Dummies Took Over The World (December 29th, 9pm) Bradley Walsh tells the fascinating story of Britain’s most famous puppet stars including Orville, Emu, Sooty, Lord Charles, Dicky Mint, Spit the Dog, and Nookie Bear. They were once the stars of Saturday night TV, but what happened when the limelight faded? Bradley Walsh discovers where they are now and brings together some of them for a very special reunion.

And Re-Play 2018 with Richard Osman will see Richard Osman and Scarlett Moffatt join forces for a brand-new quiz testing the nation’s best-loved celebrities on the most-talked about events of the year where the winner doesn’t have to be clever, they just need to have been paying attention.

Singing superstar Alfie Boe returns to present this year’s Christmas Carols on ITV (Christmas Eve). An array of stars including Ruby Turner, Claire Richards and Rebecca Ferguson will sing in Christmas day during this very special evening of celebration and commemoration which will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Brand new documentaries this Christmas include a chance to relive an unforgettable World Cup for England in World Cup: Summer of Love (December 19th, 9pm). Gareth Southgate and his team helped unite and delight the nation as they made it through to the semi-finals in Russia. The memorable story is retold by the manager and players inside the camp and complemented by the insights of those who followed their journey back home, including Piers Morgan, Susanna Reid and Sir Clive Woodward.

Over the last eight years Long Lost Family has reunited over 200 relatives desperate to find that one person missing from their lives, to make their family complete. Now for the first time many of these families are brought together under one roof, to celebrate Christmas and the joy of finally being together, after the agony of years apart. Long Lost Family Christmas Reunion (December 17th, 9pm) will find out what it means to spend your first Christmas with your loved ones and reflect on how lives have changed for people since finding their relatives, with some guests meeting new family members for the very first time during the programme.

Plus, Global Adventurer Bear Grylls will take on the wild with England football manager Gareth Southgate for an ITV special, Bear’s Mission with Gareth Southgate (December 20th, 9pm). The leader of the Three Lions squad and former Premier League player will swap the football field for some of the UK’s toughest terrain, to tackle the ultimate challenge, as he joins Bear on a mission across some of the country’s most rugged, unspoilt moorlands. Bear’s mission will test Gareth’s composure and poise under pressure, as they battle the wilderness together.

Film highlights on ITV this Christmas also include Monsters Inc (Christmas Day 4.10pm), Casino Royale (December 23rd, 9pm), Quantum of Solace (December 26th, 8pm), Skyfall (December 27th, 8pm) and Spectre (December 31st, 8pm).

Plus on ITV2 Keith Lemon takes a look back at all the best, most-juiciest bits of Celebrity Juice’s illustrious 10-year history in Celebrity Juice: 10 Years of Best Bits (December 20th, 10pm). So expect to see all the best games, gags and mayhem from 10 years of Celebrity Juice. And in Love Island: The Christmas Reunion (December 17th, 9pm) ITV2 is bringing the cast back together one last time for a festive reunion. Hosted by Caroline Flack and with voiceover from Iain Stirling, this is the perfect Christmas present for Love Island fans.

The new year starts on ITV with a brand new series Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? (January 1st, 9pm) which see’s Jeremy Clarkson return as host following the success of the anniversary specials, and also the launch of Bradley Walsh & Son: Breaking Dad (January 2nd 8pm), which sees actor Bradley Walsh and his 20-year-old son Barney hitting the road together for a brand-new four-part series, travelling over 2000 miles from Los Angeles to New Orleans. They might be father and son but when it comes to travelling they are worlds apart, with Bradley keen to relax while Barney wants to live life a little more on the edge. Worried his old man is too stuck in his ways, Barney has decided to take matters into his own hands with an adventurous trip that his dad will never forget.