You’re joining Strictly’s class of 2019! How does it feel?

Is this really happening?! It’s been the most surreal week of my life! I’m a massive fan of Strictly so it’s incredible. I’m so happy that I can be a part of it. But at the same time it’s quite bittersweet! I’m coming in on the back of Jamie’s injury – I keep thinking about him! I can’t imagine going through all this excitement and then having to pull out. My thoughts are with him – he seems like a fantastic guy and I hope he’s doing OK.

How are the nerves?

It was all so unknown…! When I first found out I didn’t know who I’d be with, what costumes I’d be wearing… It’s intense! I feel like I’ve been thrown in at the deep end. I’ve also not had the chance to meet any of the other contestants yet, so I’m looking forward to that. I took my daughter for her first day at school last week and I feel like I’m going through the same thing myself now!

But now you know you’re with Oti… How did you feel when you found out?

Oh god I was so nervous before. But I couldn’t believe I’d been lucky enough to get Oti. She’s my favourite. It’s brilliant. I’m so happy.

What kind of student do you think you’ll be with Oti?

I pride myself on my work ethic so if we need to stay in the studio to get a certain dance move right, that’s fine. I hope I’ll be a good student. I think I’ll get frustrated with myself if I can’t get a move. I want to get it right. I know it’ll feel so good when you do get it. I think I’ll really enjoy it – and I’ve got the most amazing teacher!

Have you ever danced before?

My experience of dancing is exclusively at weddings or parties with alcohol involved and in the dark…! So suddenly to be confronted with moves and choreography – it’s so new! I think it’ll be tough but I want to learn. When you watch it on TV it looks amazing, but when you take it apart and break down what goes into the dance, it’s amazing. I’m in awe of what Oti and the other professionals do and how good they are.

You’re an actor and a racing driver – are those skills transferrable to the dance floor?

Well I’m sure there’ll be a narrative and a storyline to every performance so I’d hope I could do that bit right! But the biggest thing for me is the nerves… I am a performer but this is such a new territory and a new skillset. It’s live! I don’t want to let anyone down and I don’t want to let myself down.

Are you a competitive person?

I’m competitive when I’m racing, but in this it’s totally different. It’s more about not letting myself down and trying to do the best I can. I can’t wait to see the others do well too. I’ve got an idea of how I’d love to look. I want to be smooth, going around the dancefloor like John Travolta. But in reality that might not be the case! I’ve just got to work really hard. But I also want to really enjoy it, I’m really looking forward to it.

Are there any dances in particular that you’re looking forward to?

Something a bit funky! I don’t know really. It’s all so new. The Foxtrot? Which one’s that? I’m an absolute novice. Now I’m a dad – maybe I can just do a dad dance??

How do you feel about the glitter and the tan?

Oh I’m a fake tan addict! I did the All New Monty this year, which was amazing – they gave us all spray tans there. I was stood there with Alexander Armstrong, Willie Thorne – all the guys had them. Half of them were naked with socks on certain areas! That was normal! So I’m excited to get tanned again! It’s all part of it. I can’t wait for the costumes too. When else am I going to get the chance to wear sequins and glitter?! No one’s ever seen me dress like that! It’s a great chance for people to see a different side to me – I’m all for it and will give anything a go.

How will your kids react to watching their dad dance on TV?

My eldest is three, so they’re only little but I think they’ll love it. I spend most of my time at home dancing with my daughter to things like Frozen and The Greatest Showman. I think she’ll be really excited to watch me do it for real.

How will your former Emmerdale colleagues react?

There are a few of them who are MASSIVE Strictly fans. I think they’ll be quite surprised to see me!

Do you have any signature moves?

Um… probably just taking my top off! Every time I’ve had a beer that’s something I’ve done with my friends! All of my friends are all different shapes and sizes so it’s not even about how you look. I think it’s a northern thing?!

How do you think you’ll do with the lifts?

My only experience of lifts is in a swimming pool with a three year old – so I think this will be quite different! It’ll be really new for me. I hope to god we can get it right.

Strictly Come Dancing’s first live show will air on Saturday 21 September at 7pm.

By Eastieoaks

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