Danny Mac reflects on his first weeks on Strictly and why he turned the show down until this series

When former Hollyoaks heartthrob Danny Mac cha-cha-cha-ed onto the Strictly dance floor a few weeks ago it wasn’t just Len Goodman who sat up and took notice.

A whole nation gasped as the 28 year-old impressed with extraordinary flair and footwork, making a perfect match for pro partner, Oti Mabuse.

So TV Times had to give Danny a call to catch up on his spectacular start in the ballroom.

Danny, you’re a modest man. But you must have known you had those show-stopping moves up your sleeve?
“Not at all! We did basic dance training at drama school and I’m not saying I’ve never danced in my life, that wouldn’t be fair to the people on the show who really haven’t, but you can’t take any credit away from what Oti has achieved with me these past few weeks. I’m so proud and it means so much to me that people think my dancing is of a decent standard.”

Did you friends and family know how good you would be?
“No, my friends from college have been texting me saying, ‘Mate, we thought you’d be good… but wow!’ Strictly is so far away from what they ever saw me do. Even my fiancée, Carley [ex Hollyoaks co-star Carley Stenson] tells me I dance like an idiot when I’m drunk at weddings.

“Essentially I’m very good at taking direction, so when Oti tells me what to do I can follow what I’m told, I’m just not good at improvisation. I’m a dancing monkey!”

We hear that Oti is showing no mercy?
“She’s fantastic, but the training has been a real shock. It’s taking its toll with the aches and pains, I keep waking up like an old man. But I wouldn’t complain – my mum’s a nurse and my dad worked on a fruit and veg stall when we were growing up, so they’re really hard working people and I could never say that what I do is difficult!”

How does it feel to be one of the favourites?
“It’s scary because I don’t like the pressure and I’m worried there’s a long way to fall, but it’s also lovely that people are enjoying our dances. Everyone has been ringing me, Ashley Taylor Dawson left me a voicemail the other day telling me I need a PA because nobody can get hold of me!”

Have you conquered the nerves yet?
“I was almost physically sick before the first live show. I’m a bit calmer now, but the scariest part is still being myself on screen and being interviewed by Tess and Claudia. I try to become somebody else when I’m dancing…”

You’ve turned down Strictly a few times. Why was this year the right time?
“The only reason I’m having so much fun is because I waited till I was a bit older and my head was in the right place. You have to be really careful with yourself, especially on a show like Hollyoaks – I didn’t want to be one of those kids who gets a good job and then gets splashed about all over the papers for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to give myself a chance to grow up a bit before taking on something like Strictly.”

Strictly is a great platform for any performer – are you hoping it will lead to more exciting roles?
“I have lots of pipe dreams, but I’m open minded about what might be to come. I’d love to carry on acting and take on some new roles that stretch me, or bigger parts in bigger things. I definitely don’t want a chat show though – I can’t go from hating being me on screen to having my own show!”

Is the Strictly regime similar to your old Hollyoaks schedule?
“It is actually and you work as hard as you can. I don’t know how Tameka is juggling EastEnders and Strictly! There are a minimum number of hours you have to do for Strictly, but beyond that it’s up to you. Fortunately I’m not working on anything else so I’m able to throw everything at it.”

What are the judges like backstage?
“They all really lovely, but I’m still taken aback by them. I walked past Darcey the other day and I couldn’t even speak. It’s ridiculous, but there’s something about her, she steps into the room and she’s like a princess. I’ve spoken to Craig a couple of times and he’s brilliant. He’s been a bit too nice so far, I’m worried!”