EastEnders’ Scott Maslen talks about how his family has inspired him to take to the Strictly dancefloor…

How are you enjoying the costumes?
“I’m used to weird costumes. I’ve done restoration plays, I’ve played transvestites, all kinds of stuff. My fishing mates are going to rip me to shreds though!”

What about the dancing?
“My day job is telling stories, and my stories usually involve being intimate with women! I’m a married man with a kid, but when I go to work I play characters. This is the same thing – I’m dancing, but it’s an act. I can understand why the sportsmen and newsreaders get completely freaked out by it though!”

Was it hard combining the training with your work in Walford?
“Initially it was a bit hairy because I had a very busy storyline while I was training for the launch show, but luckily my workload has lightened for the next couple of weeks, so I can get my head down and train. Zoe Lucker, who plays Vanessa and danced in last year’s Strictly, has been giving me advice. She was really excited when she found out I was partnered with Natalie. I’m just glad to get out of the wheelchair – Jack has made a miraculous recovery!”

Why did you decide to do it?
“My grandmother was into ballroom dancing and she met my granddad when he was playing snooker below the ballroom where she used to practice. They always danced together, too. My grandmother passed away last year and Natalie and I will do our first dance on the anniversary of her death. When I was offered Strictly my grandfather said, ‘You’ve got to do it.’ My grandparents were like parents to me, so it is a tribute to my nan. When training is going well, I have moments where I feel how good it is and I can imagine that that’s what she loved about it.”

Do you think you have a chance of winning?
“I have always been ridiculously competitive since I was little. My goal is to get to the final three and I’ll do my best to achieve that.”

How have your castmates reacted?
“It’s been overwhelming – everyone at EastEnders wants to come down and watch. I didn’t realise what a big deal it is, but that’s typical of me. I don’t realise these things until I have signed up and then I think ‘Oh my God.’ It’s too late now though – there’s no way out. Pray for me!”

*Strictly screens on Saturday and Sunday evenings on BBC1