Strictly Come Dancing | The Judges Interviewed
Why do you think celebrities are so keen to be part of Strictly?
Darcey Bussell: It has such a positive light and there is so much fulfilment and enjoyment you can get. People think learning a new skill will be hideous but actually, they underestimate the dancing journey you go on.
Len Goodman: It’s a mix of things. It’s a challenge for some, others genuinely want to learn to dance, which is a social skill and for some, if their career is flagging a bit, it’s a wonderful way of showcasing again! Everyone has a personal reason.
Bruno Tonioli: It’s better than going to rehab and it’s great exercise. Why pay a trainer when you can do Strictly? You get the best body of your life and you learn a great skill, so it’s a win win situation.
Craig Revel Horwood: The show pulls in millions of viewers, it bumps up your career and it is great Saturday night entertainment. The whole family loves it and your personality goes across to a massive cross section of people.
Can anyone top last year’s winning partnership of Louis Smith and Flavia Cacace for impressive moves?
Darcey: The honest truth is I am not sure. The nice thing about what Flavia did with Louis was she brought out the uniqueness in him to do a Show Dance with a contemporary feel. It was a big risk but they were so excellent. It was incredible to watch them.
Len: Who knows! I admire the professionals so much. How they get the celebrities to the standard they do is amazing. There have been some wonderful dancers.
Bruno: Everyone comes and surprises us. Louis and Flavia did so well, but we have so many people every year that do very well. Each winner has their own very particular and defining qualities, but it won’t be the same because partnerships are unique. It changes every time.
Craig: I think it can. Of course it can. Everyone said that about Jill Halfpenny and she was in series two. We are in series eleven now. That is what is incredible about Strictly. It has lasted so long in this country and it has been sold around the world.
Louis Smith was the third sportsman to become Champion, do you think professional athletes make the best dancers?
Darcey: Yes I do. They are used to being knocked down because someone else is winning. They have the fight in them to come back. For anybody else it can be hard to take criticism.
Len: You can never be sure who is going to be good. Why is it that there have been two cricketers who have won it? What is the connection between ballroom and cricketers? There is no connection. You just have to see how things pan out.
Bruno: Sports people are used to training and taking direction from their managers or coaches and they have the winning mentality. They are used to being under pressure and they have to deliver. It could be an advantage that they are used to competing, but then again dancing is very different to what they usually do.
Craig: What happens with sportsmen compared to actors is that they aren’t very emotional. They take criticism on the chin and use it to make their dance better, whereas actors take it personally and start crying. I think that is the big difference.
What new style of dance would you like Strictly to adopt if it could?
Darcey: This is really hard. I was watching a piece by some French guys called Les Twins. It is not body popping but they have a way of dancing where the technique is constantly changing. It is incredibly diverse and they move in slow motion and then they speed up. They can isolate parts of their body and watching them is amazing.
Len: I am an old fuddy duddy. I only like Ballroom and Latin American dancing.
Bruno: I love jazz, Jerome Robbins American jazz, the kind of thing that you would imagine in Westside Story. American jazz would be great because it encompasses such a wide net of interpretation.
Craig: Hip Hop would be funny. I would like to see someone do that.
What would your advice be to our new line up of celebrities this year, before they begin training?
Darcey: Take any advice and criticism on board. People can get slightly freaked out by a professional dancer but they shouldn’t. They should enjoy the experience and if a celebrity is prepared and ready, then they will be flying ahead.
Len: To enjoy the experience. It is one of those things you will never forget and whether you get kicked out on week one or you stay until the end, it is a unique experience and you should savour the moment.
Bruno: I always say to them put the time in, listen to your professional partners because they know what they are doing and they are very good at it. It’s going to be hard work, but if you don’t put the hard work in, you won’t get the result. Enjoy it, embrace the whole thing and have fun. Roll with the punches.
Craig: Listen to your partner and train as hard as you can. The hours you put in make all the difference.
Strictly just goes from strength to strength, what in your opinion makes the nation love it so much?
Darcey: People love watching dance. They love to see us perfect something. For a reality show, Strictly is up there as being one of the most special shows. When you see people dance, it gets you on the edge of your seat. Everyone is smiling.
Len: It’s a good old fashioned dance show. So many people tell me they can’t wait for Strictly to start and then say when it’s over, ‘what am I going to do on a Saturday night?’
Bruno: Well it’s very simple. It’s uplifting, inspiring entertainment – it’s the simplicity of it. Keep it uplifting, keep it fun and keep it entertaining. There is an element of inspiration to it as well, because it gets people out there doing something. It is very subliminal, we are not telling people to do this and do that, they are watching it and getting inspired as well as being entertained.
Craig: It is great family entertainment and it is fun. They like listening to the judges’ comments. They find my comments amusing. We all have a good time.