Strictly Come Dancing champion Chris Hollins talks about his success and hopes for the future.
So has your Strictly Come Dancing victory sunk in yet?
“I’m just absolutely shellshocked, really. Never in a million years did I think we could win this blooming thing! It’s only when I walk around my house and occasionally see a newspaper with me and Ola on the frontpage that I think: ‘Oh my goodness gracious, it did actually happen to me.’”
Have you had time to think how it will change your life and career looking forward?
“I read the papers and it sounds as though I have an amazing year coming up! Max Clifford is going to make me a million pounds, I’m lined up to host The One Show, I’m taking over from Brucie on Strictly – I cannot wait for this 12 months to start. Back to reality, my alarm is still set for ten past four every morning to get up to do BBC Breakfast and I still love working for them. But, of course, like anybody else, I’m always looking for the next adventure. If anything came up, I would give it a go. But so far my life hasn’t changed that much yet.”
What would be a dream job?
“Again, I would love to say that I have got loads of offers flying in, but the only thing I have is more dancing – I’m on the Strictly Come Dancing tour. I would love to do primetime television, that would be a dream come true. A programme I have always thought was brilliant, and I would love to bring back would be something like The Generation Game! Brucie is my all-time hero. The other day, there I was in complete and utter shock being presented with the Strictly trophy, and there was Bruce Forsyth – Bruce Forsyth! – saying: ‘How do you feel, Chris?’ I grew up watching him and I loved it.”
What are your memories of the final?
“All I remember is the lovely feeling of everybody coming back. Rav, Natalie, Joe Calzaghe, Jo Wood, Jade – it was a really good happy party atmosphere for the final. The other over-riding feeling is that I was absolutely exhausted! Ola and I knew Ricky was a better dancer than me, so all week I had been training extra hard because I didn’t want to be humiliated. That was my motivation. We wanted a good start to relax our nerves, but then Ricky went and got maximum score with his first dance. Follow that!”
Which other dancers did you bond with?
“In terms of the pro dancers, I obviously got to know James very, very well. And he is a terrific guy, he helped me out incredibly. He used to come and pick up Ola from training, but the little ratbag would turn up an hour early! Then he would shout at me: ‘Don’t drop my wife! I don’t want any more bruises on my wife!’ I dropped her so many times learning the showdance. ‘She has a bruise on her bottom, her back, lumps on her head – what are you doing to my wife!?’ No, he was very generous and a really top guy – I’ll be seeing more of both Ola and James away from this competition.”
Your dad John played football for Arsenal, Chelsea and England, and you played for Aldershot Town and cricket for Oxford University. Were your parents proud of your dancing success?
“They have been used to seeing me competing at a high level – though obviously I didn’t get to the level Dad did. They found it quite weird to see their son dancing in front of millions of people when it is not really his job or his forte. But they have been impressed, and mum came up to me and said she was pleased and proud of the way I handled it all.”
Are you looking forward to life getting back to normal?
“I’m trying to grab my life back. I obviously have used up far too many favours with family, friends and loved ones, so now it’s payback time! I love the idea of going back to normal life, whatever that means. I am looking forward to spending a lot of time with my family, catching up with everyone and being a little bit normal. I’ll probably get an ear bashing from everybody for being useless these last four months!”
How has your girlfriend, Sarah, taken the extra attention and demands on your time?
“Sarah has been great about it all, she is very relaxed. But she has put so much effort into things. She has been brilliant. The extra time and the extra pressure they talk about hasn’t really affected us because we are fairly well grounded. It is not as if we have been out and about, we just haven’t had the time. We will probably get a sense of that over the next couple weeks, if life has changed at all. We always make loads of plans to go on holiday, but we never get round to doing it. I am going on the tour in January and February, so nothing is going to happen until probably March.”