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Strictly : It Takes Two | Interview with Janette Manrara



And we’re back! This is Strictly’s 20th series, how does it feel to return to It Takes Two for such a monumental series for Strictly?

It feels so wonderful to be back on It Takes Two with Rylan! It was a dream come true for me last year and so to be back for my second year, I could not be happier! The 20th series feels like it will be a very special one so I’m absolutely honoured to still be a part of such an amazing show!!

What were you doing when you were 20?

I was working at a bank, going to university, and dancing every spare minute of my day.

Strictly has captivated audience for 20 series, what keeps them coming back for more?

I believe it just gets better and better each year, but it’s also the tradition of it. It’s the lead up to Christmas, and being able to watch something with a cuppa with your whole family is so special. There really is something for everyone on the show. It’s the most beautiful escapism, filled with joy and great storytelling and entertainment.

What is your absolute favourite thing about working on It Takes Two? Do you have a favourite moment from hosting the show so far?

I have always been a fan of Strictly, even when I was competing in it. To be able to now be a proper fan and also provide that space where the couples get to share with us, and the audience their joy and frustrations is really special. I used to love coming to It Takes Two, it always made me smile. Now I truly enjoy now being that person for our couples and hopefully the audience as well. Highlight? Definitely dancing with Rylan for our final episode! He’s got moves!

Do you have one stand-out dance and/or celebrity dancer from a previous series of Strictly Come Dancing?

There are too many to pick! I think last year, the moment when Rose and Giovanni did their contemporary dance just showed the power of dance and the power of Strictly. It was so moving. And then, of course, watching my husband and Sara Davies, who is now a friend for life, dancing together, was wonderful for me. I love watching Aljaž dance, and Sara was a gorgeous partner and beautiful to watch on the dance floor too. 

What about your own greatest memories from your time as a pro?

I will never forget my first dance ever with Julien MacDonald, we did Madonna’s “Vogue”. Then my salsa with Jake Wood, being a Troll with Aston Merrygold, my contemporary dance with Will Bayley, and of course my gold sequinned tail suit American Smooth, with HRVY to “One Singular Sensation”, which became my last dance with a celebrity partner on the show. I have had so many wonderful memories with all my partners! And we still talk all the time. I feel very fortunate to have made some wonderful friends.

What’s your earliest memory of Strictly Come Dancing?

My first ever group dance to “I’m So Excited”! It encapsulated exactly how I was feeling about being on the show. Excited and thrilled!

Which is your favourite themed week and why?

Blackpool! It always felt like it was a big school trip with all your friends, and dancing in that beautiful space is a feeling like no other.

The BBC 100 themed week will see some of the couples dancing to iconic BBC theme tunes, is there a theme tune you’d love to dance to if you were still a pro? 

The BBC News theme is great. I can see a couple’s choice hip-hop, or Tango, or Paso Doble being done to it!

What can we expect from It Takes Two this year?

More fun, more exciting facts about dance and our couples from this series and throughout the years, and just an overall feeling of true appreciation and love for one of the best shows on telly.

Did any moments from last year’s Strictly make you wish you were still a pro dancer on the show?

I always loved the pro dances and last year there were some truly spectacular ones. Watching them and watching my friends dancing really made me wish I could have been there doing it with them. I have so much admiration for our creative team and the professional dancers; the backbone of the show.

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