'I just don’t want to look like Donald Trump' | Robert Webb, Judi Love and Nina Wadia on their hopes and fears for Strictly © BBC

'I just don’t want to look like Donald Trump'

Robert Webb, Judi Love and Nina Wadia on their hopes and fears for Strictly

Robert Webb on Strictly Come Dancing

What made you want to take part this year?

It's just a straightforward wish to jump up and down in funny costumes for the viewing pleasure of the ladies and gentlemen of the British public mainly. There's also the fact that two years ago, I had to have quite a big heart operation, which made me think, ‘This is no time to be cool’. It gave me a slightly different perspective. Between yes and no, yes felt like the bigger and more generous and more expansive answer. No would have left me feeling like a coward.

Are any dances you’re excited to learn?

They all look really exciting. I hope I'm there long enough to try a few out. I've always loved the attitude of the Tango. The performer in me is looking forward to acting those different sort of styles and doing all of the faces really!

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

I'm up for an extreme costume. You can spray me most colours but I just don’t want to look like Donald Trump.

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

I loved Bill Bailey and  Oti Mabuse’s dance to Rapper’s Delight. I thought that was classy and wonderful. I mean, it's all just so joyful.

There’s such a good feeling about the show because it's like, ‘Let's work out a dance and then show the grownups and then the grownups actually give you marks out of 10!’ It's just a really big, massive, beautiful entertainment show.

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

Very excited. In fact, I’d tentatively say they are more excited than me and that is pretty excited.

Do you have any previous dance experience?

The only thing I've done that was structured choreography was when I did Let’s Dance for Comic Relief in 2009, recreating the famous dance scene from Flashdance. That was fun but it was really hard.

I'm no better than anybody else learning or remembering moves but I know from the outside it looks like that because I went on to win it. But, I know the truth and the truth is that the first live performance was the first time I got from start to finish without stopping! I was just utterly terrified beyond belief.

I’m hoping it won’t be as bad this time as I’ll have longer to rehearse and a partner.

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

She's got to be very, very patient and have fabulous forgiveness because I'm a pretty slow learner. Once I’ve got it, I usually make a reasonable attempt to sell it but it takes a while for me to get it. So just a very patient person please!

What are you doing to prepare for the show?

I’m trying to stay reasonably fit. I had a calf strain, which meant I had to stop running for four weeks which was very frustrating, but I know that I'm going to need a bit of stamina.

I used to do absolutely nothing but since my heart operation, I’ve been doing weights and running. It took me about a year before I could run, but since then I've become quite a sporty person, but I've had to stop for a while.

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

I don’t know anyone personally who’s done it before but I have worked with Mark Benton and Seann Walsh.

I do remember advice that Shirley Ballas gave at the beginning of one of the previous series which was, ‘Leave your ego at the door of the rehearsal room’. I think that's very good advice because you just haven't got the energy to spare. You're dancing all day long. You haven't got the energy to get to cross with yourself, all of your energy has to go into failing better until you're not failing anymore.

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

I think in the early weeks, I'll be hanging on for dear life and just trying to survive from one moment to the next but if I get halfway through then I think I will start to invest in putting trip wires outside dressing room doors and spiking their energy drinks with laxatives.

Judi Strictly

Judi Love

What made you want to take part in Strictly this year?

It's such a fantastic opportunity, especially after the last 18 months. Also, to have something to really look forward to and have the chance to develop a new skill is most people's dream. I'm just excited to take part in a show that has such a phenomenal reputation of seeing people push themselves in something new.

What do you think will the biggest challenge?

I think the biggest challenge will be learning the moves and retraining my body. The challenge of getting rid of old habits and pushing yourself physically.

Are any dances you’re excited to learn?

The Rumba, Salsa and the Jive. All of them!

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

Oh I’m up for that! Come on, who wants to turn down a bit of glitz and glam?!

Do you have any contestants from previous series that were particular favourites of yours?

I’ll definitely say Alesha Dixon because she just looked like a professional. The way she just flowed with the music… it was great.

What has the reaction been like from friends and family to you taking part in Strictly this year?

It's been fantastic! People are telling me they’re going to start a campaign for me! They’re just so excited. It’s completely out of the box of what I would usually do so they’re happy.

Do you have any previous dance experience?

Only dancing in the clubs and partying in the house.

What are you looking for in a dance partner?

Someone who’s really determined to bring out the dancer in me. Someone who’s not going to be too fluffy. I want someone who’s going to push me but be compassionate - compassionate but tough!

Have you had any advice before taking part in the show?

Everyone’s advice has just been enjoy, enjoy, enjoy and don’t worry about anything. And to really put myself into different characters every time I go onto the dancefloor. Also, not to read anything on social media and not to see it as just a competition but to see it as I’m experiencing something that is a whole moment – from putting on the outfit to going out on the stage. That’s what I lot of people have been saying to me.

What do you think of your fellow contestants? Did you know them previously and who’s your biggest competition?

I knew AJ before this but at this moment I'm not thinking of it as a competition. I see myself as my biggest competition because I believe it’s your thoughts and your mind and what you think about yourself that gets you through it.

Nina Strictly

Nina Wadia

What made you want to take part in the show?

This year feels like the perfect year to just let off steam. It's been a bit of a dark time for a lot of people, and it certainly was in our family as well, so I just want to go out and enjoy my life.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge?

I think it's going to be my stamina. It's going to be energy levels because I have been inactive during the pandemic, I've been walking but not really exercising so that's going to be the toughest challenge.

Is there anything you're doing to prepare?

I am stretching and you know just taking my general fitness level up a notch, but just a notch!

What has the reaction been like to being part of the 2021 line-up?

My daughter is very excited. My son's told me not to embarrass him. And my husband said he doesn't want to sit through a long time of filming so I can give his ticket elsewhere!

Do you have any previous thoughts experience?

I trained when I was a very little girl, I did some Indian dance training called Bharatanatyam, from ages 4-9. And then when we moved to Hong Kong from 11-16 I did tap dancing.

What do you want in a dance partner?

Someone who's fun and who's going to make learning fun and make dancing fun. That's what I care about. I need someone who is going to be a bit strict, because I might slack off if I get the chance, but I want to make sure I am happy.

Have you had any advice before taking part in the show?

Christine Lampard said it's very hard work and you’ll get blisters, but enjoy it as it’s so much fun.

What do you think of your fellow contestants?

They seem like such a fun group. I think there's some characters in there, and I think I'm going to come out with a bunch of friends from this. I think Robert Webb is going to be good competition, his Flashdance routine is still ingrained in my brain.

Published: 13 Sep 2021

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