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Strictly Come Dancing 2021 | Interview with Dan Walker

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What made you want to take part this year?

I’m taking part for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, my kids. They never asked me to do any specific shows other than Saturday Mashup and Strictly. So, I did Saturday Mash Up and then they said if you get asked to do Strictly, please say yes. So I said yes!

The other reason is because I work in news, the last 18 months has seen so much death, misery, heartache and a lot of people have had the worst 18 months of their lives. I just thought that you don’t get many opportunities to do stuff that is just fun and joyful so if you’re going to do it, now is a good time to.

The third reason is as I stopped doing Football Focus, I’ve had my Saturdays free for the first time in years, so here I am!

What do you think will the biggest challenge that you’ll face?

I feel really comfortable with all the other bits of it apart from dancing, which is important! But, I’m a good student and I’m really willing and keen to learn. It’s just the great unknown for me. Am I absolutely horrific? Am I average or do I have a modicum of talent? So, this is me finding out where I am on that scale and if I can do it. I also think because I’m so tall, I feel quite awkward. Here’s a chance to put it to the test in front of millions of people on a Saturday night!

Are there any dances in particular you’re excited to learn and perform?

Everyone just assumes, probably quite rightly, that a tall bloke can’t jive or move quickly and in time. I’ve been reliably informed that I’ve got some element of rhythm, so that’s a start! I love the technical side of sport, so that’s something I really want to get into. The elements of learning where you put your body and how you make it look good, easy and comfortable – I’m really looking forward to that. I just hope I can move in the right direction!

How do you feel about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

My normal dress for BBC Breakfast is quite casual with a suit and tie so the wardrobe here will be definitely be different so I’m looking forward to that that side of it. There aren’t many occasions in life here you get to wear white trousers!

Do you have any dances from previous series that are particular favourites of yours?

I remember watching Alesha Dixon doing the Cha Cha Cha in a gold shimmery dress with my family and all the women just gasped in amazement. It was one of those wow moments. And Ed Ball’s Gangnam Style is still absolute belter! It’s memorable, there’s talent in there somewhere and he had the Ed Balls to pull it off!

What has the reaction been like to you taking part in Strictly 2021? How have your family and friends reacted?

My wife said, ‘Have they seen you dance?’ and my kids asked me not to dance with my mouth open, but they’re really excited. My friends are all really excited and most of them are saying they’re going to watch and support. Largely, I have had a really nice reaction from people on social media telling me that they’ve been waiting for me to do the show and they’re so happy I’m finally doing it. The nicest message I got was from two women that had both sadly lost their mum to Coronavirus. They told me that I was their mum’s favourite TV presenter and that Strictly is their favourite show. They said that they wished they could have watched me on the show with their mum but they’ll be watching anyway to support. That’s a really nice motivation, to not worry about the fear of dancing and just be able to put a smile on someone’s face.

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

Patience and height! Just somebody’s who is a good teacher (which they all are) and someone who is willing to work with raw material!

What are you doing to prepare for the show?

My 14 year old daughter Susie has been teaching me a few things as she does dance lessons, and her sister does ballet and tap.

I’ve also watched quite a few of the professional dancers teach dances online during the lockdown.

Have you had any advice before taking part in the show? Have you spoken to anyone who has done it before?

I know and have spoken to Jason Bell, Ranvir Singh, Mike Bushell, Naga Munchetty, Carol Kirkwood… so I’m prepared! I also know Zoe Ball really well and in fact, she was the first person I spoke to about it. They just told me to enjoy it and that I’m perfect for the show as I don’t take myself too seriously. They’ve all really encouraged me.

What do you think of your fellow contestants? Did you know any of them previously? Who would you say is your biggest competitor?

I met John on Steph’s Packed Lunch and I’ve interviewed Adam Peaty a few times. I’ve met Ugo, Judi and interviewed Tom, but I’ve not met the other celebrities. They’re all lovely and really nice, excited, fully into it and there’s no negativity.

I think AJ will be brilliant, and I’ve seen John pull some moves on Steph’s Packed Lunch. I also think Judi will be magnificent. She’s got a fantastic personality and I think people will love her. I’m also looking forward to seeing Robert Webb after his brilliant performance on Let’s Dance For Comic Relief, so I think he’s going to be great.

I think the people who are either actors or performers will do well, but I also enjoy watching people like myself or Adam who do things in front of people but in a totally different world.

Would you say you’re a competitive person? Are you in it to win the Glitterball Trophy?

Yes, I’m competitive but I haven’t reserved a spot for the Glitterball Trophy. I haven’t got that in my headspace in any way shape or form. My idea is that I want to go home on a Saturday night, see the kids and hear ‘Dad, that was good!’ If I get just one ‘Dad, that was good!’, that would be great.