It might not feel like it, with the recent heatwave across much of the UK, but – if you listen very carefully – you can hear the rustle of satin and sequins that heralds the arrival of autumn.
Yes, Strictly Come Dancing is back on our screens in a matter of days, with 15 celebrities teaming up with professionals to learn new moves, get spray tanned, and hit the dancefloor.
The action starts on Saturday (16 September) when viewers will discover who’s dancing with who during the launch show.
But for now, find out all the backstage gossip from this year’s stars – from Adam to Zara – as they took a break from rehearsals to spill the beans.
Adam Thomas is worried Craig might make him cry
The Emmerdale star says his children (who are nine and five) are excited and have been teaching him some moves, but adds: “They know I can’t really dance”.
His actor siblings – twin Scott and brother Ryan – “just laughed” when they found out he was on Strictly. But, he notes: “That’s why we’re here, to learn to dance. Everybody wants to see the progression through the series, and I’ll definitely give them that.”
He says he’s sensitive, adding: “If Craig [Revel Horwood] says one bad word about me, I think I might cry.”
But as for who he really wants to impress? “My wife, I’m just trying to impress my wife.”
Amanda Abbington is flying blind
Actress Amanda, who’s been in TV series including Sherlock and Mr Selfridge, says taking part in Strictly feels like “flying blind”.
“You suddenly realise you need an element of physical fitness I’ve never seen before,” she says. “It’s brutal, but it’s good.”
On being in the public eye more because of the show, she says: “You can manage how much you want to give away. Me and my ex-partner [actor Martin Freeman] never had our children on show until they were at an age where they wanted to.
“I think you can manage it yourself, and see how much you want to let people in. But this does catapult you which I find really funny.”
Angela Rippon says dancing makes you live longer
The former Come Dancing host and Rip-Off Britain presenter turns 79 later this month and is the show’s oldest ever contestant – something she says she’s “wearing like a badge of honour”.
“We’re an aging population and I think if we can get the message across that dance is great – even if you’re in your 20s and 30s, think ahead to when you’re going to be old – and the number of people now who are dancing in their 60s and 70s, 80s and their 90s is fantastic.”
She adds: “If you want longevity – dance!”
Angela Scanlon is collecting sequins
The Irish TV presenter says she’s looking forward to dancing the Charleston – but admits there are already some dances she’s dreading. “Anything that involves that level of physically… I’m not great on a trampoline – I’ve got an 18-month old.”
As for the Rumba? “I mean, it strikes a bit of fear in me because it’s so slow,” says Angela, who did Irish dancing as a child. “From watching it, you don’t get away with much, I feel. You can’t dazzle them with a silly hat.”
As for her daughters, Angela says: “The baby has no idea, obviously, but my oldest is five and she’s very excited.
“We’ve made a box and we’re going to bring home sequins and whatever hangs off the ceiling so she’ll have a little stash of stuff. Hopefully she’ll be into it.”
Annabel Croft feels like she’s been matched with Roger Federer
The presenter and former tennis player says she’s doing Strictly for the “joyfulness and learning new steps”.
“I can’t do it – but I think what an amazing opportunity,” she says. “It’s like being told you might be partnering up with Roger Federer, to be partnered up with these amazing dancers, it’s so special.
“And the music, it’s emotional. I think the fact they have a live band there… music evokes goosebumps.”
Bobby Brazier might just talk back to the judges
EastEnders actor and model Bobby – who’s just won the rising star award at the National Television Awards – says the most important tip he’s been given so far for Strictly is to “eat”.
Asked about being an early favourite this year, he says: “I think that’s just because I’m young, they have no reason to think that.”
Bobby, the son of presenter Jeff Brazier and the late Big Brother star Jade Goody, says of the judges: “I’m excited to hear what they have to say and take it back to the studio.”
But will he answer back? “It depends what state of mind I’m in,” he admits. “And how much sleep I’ve had.”
Eddie Kadi will be shaking his hips at all times
Stand-up comedian Eddie Kadi, who presents BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Official UK Afrobeats Chart Show, says he felt “numb” when he got the call to be on Strictly, adding it was “the best moment ever”.
“Honestly, it was surreal,” he says. “[Former host] Bruce Forsyth was literally my hero. I grew up watching people like Forsyth doing his tap dancing, Ronnie Corbett, all those guys.”
And how about the fact fellow contestants have already noted Eddie’s hips? “Being Congolese, we like moving our hips for no reason,” he says. “So when everyone’s talking about snaky hips and stuff, you know what, bring it on. Any opportunity, I’m throwing it.”
Ellie Leach is glad of familiar faces
The Coronation Street actress, who played Faye Windass, says she was glad to have people she knew taking part in the show, fellow soap actors Adam Thomas and Les Dennis. “It was like a friendly face, and made me feel a little bit less nervous,” she says.
Having left Corrie in March, she’s now ready to focus on Strictly. “Which is great for me, so I’ll be able to put all my energy into that.”
But Ellie says she’s worried about dancing live every week. “I’m so nervous about the live element of it,” she admits, “mainly because it’s so different from anything I’ve ever done before.”
Jody Cundy says Strictly is more nerve-racking than the Paralympics
The Paralympian says it’s an honour to take part – humbly commenting: “I just ride a bike, I’ve swum and won a few medals. But to be invited to be one of the celebrities, that means I must have made it.”
He says it’s a great chance to help others with disabilities in sport and also wants to “get people up off the sofa, doing stuff they never thought they could do, because they’ll see somebody doing it with one leg”.
Asked how it compares to his day job, Jody – who’s represented Great Britain at seven Paralympics, winning eight golds in swimming and cycling – says: “Oh, Strictly is the most nerve-racking of all of them. When it comes to the Paralympics, I’ve spent my life training.
“With Strictly, I don’t know how to dance. Then to know there’s however many millions of people watching on TV, and are going to give me feedback – that’s the next level of terrifying.”
Krishnan Guru-Murthy wants to show his non-serious side
The Channel 4 newsreader says he’s turned down the show “lots of times” before.
“I’ve thought – ‘I’m a serious person and I can’t deviate from that’,” he says. “Whereas things have been so serious for the last couple of years, I thought: ‘You know what? You’ve been stupid saying no to this, you should go and enjoy this and experience something.'”
Guru-Murthy, who has a genetic heart condition, adds: “We only have one life and you’ve got to grasp everything when it’s there. I’ve got a couple of health issues, and I think if I don’t do it now, I might not be able to in three or four years’ time.”
Layton Williams wants to show all his different sides
The West End star is set to be the first male celeb on Strictly to wear a dress.
He says of the outfits: “As long as it’s fabulous, as long as it’s me, as long as it’s authentic to what I would represent. I dress many different ways when I’m Layton, so why wouldn’t I do that on Strictly? I want to represent me, represent my community, and go out there, feel cute and slay.”
Layton, who’s also appeared in TV series Bad Education and I Hate Suzie, says he’s thrilled with his dance partner.
“I was in awe when we had our little taster day,” he says. “We were going around and I had a thought who it might be and then it would change every time I switched partner.”
Les Dennis is ready to be Strictly-fied
He’s had a career spanning five decades – taking in acting, performing in musicals, and presenting classic quiz show Family Fortunes – and now he’s ready the challenge of Strictly.
“As actors, you get different costumes anyway,” he says. “When I was in Hairspray with Michael Ball, I was playing Wilbur Turnblad who owns a joke shop, and you don’t get louder than that. So I’m looking forward to being Strictly-fied.”
And the sequins too? “Absolutely”, replies Les, adding: “To get out on that Strictly stage is iconic – you feel that little tingle – and make sure you don’t fall down the stairs.”
“I’m excited to go into my 71st year thinking – do something outside of your comfort zone,” he says. “I didn’t hesitate.”
Nigel Harman is bringing the zen
The former EastEnders actor – seen most recently on BBC hospital drama Casualty – says of the Strictly experience: “It’s a little bit overwhelming. It’s like being fired out of a cannon and you’re not sure where you’re going to land and hoping it’ll be safely and sometime soon.”
He says did a diploma in musical theatre when he was 16, but admits “I wasn’t in the top stream”. He then worked on a cruise ship for six months (“as a dancer, I hasten to add – not just doing the bingo”).
Nigel, who’s also trained as a meditation coach and already has fellow contestants lining up for sessions, jokes it could be “the most peaceful show ever”.
“I did a little bit today, because I could feel my heart going. When the Saturday shows come and you’re in the stream of this brilliant show, finding the time to take for yourself, a little breath here and there can do wonders.”
Nikita Kanda is a not-so-secret raver
The Asian Network Breakfast host says she’s still going to be doing her morning show and then training in the afternoon and evening, adding: “It will be like double shifting, but I’m up for it.
“I’ll be behind the mic doing my steps – no one can see me on the radio anyway.”
Asked for her signature dance move, she says: “I’m a raver, so that’s it – one arm in the air. I feel like when you dance at a club or a party or a wedding, you just go with the flow, you’re not thinking about it.
“No one’s judging you, are they? This is so different.”
Zara McDermott is hoping a royal fan will watch
The documentary maker, who was on reality show Love Island in 2018, says some special people will be in the audience to watch her.
“My mum and dad are going to be there, every, single week. Probably crying their eyes out,” she smiles.
And asked if known Strictly fan Queen Camilla will watch, she laughs: “I hope so! That would be amazing.”
While her career has changed, she says she’s proud to be the first person from Love Island to appear. “I’m proud of myself and how hard I’ve worked to change the perception around reality TV,” she adds.
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