TV Times talks to the unlikeliest Strictly duo Ann Widdecombe and Anton Du Beke about their blossoming friendship and thoughts of winning…

First, Ann, why did you agree to appear on Strictly Come Dancing?
Ann: “Year on year I’d been asked to do the show, and every time I rejected it. However, it was seeing John Sergeant take part in 2008 that convinced me that Strictly was, in fact, do-able.”

So now you’re finally on the show, how are you finding it?
Ann: “I’m enjoying myself enormously. I certainly wouldn’t have agreed to be on the show if I thought I was going to hate it, but I am definitely surprised at how much I’m positively enjoying dancing.”

You both look like you have fun dancing together…
Anton: “I feel like I’ve found a friend in Ann. I actually think she’s absolutely brilliant. We do get on enormously well, and we have a really lovely relationship. She also really makes me laugh.”
Ann: “Anton is great. Even when he’s despairing he still manages to laugh. And he has despaired on a couple of occasions. But he’s certainly persevering. That’s the thing about Anton – he never gives up.”
Anton: “I genuinely enjoyed the waltz we did on the first show. It was a little bit of Strictly heaven.”

And Ann, is the dancing helping to keep you in shape?
Ann: “I’m afraid I haven’t lost a pound.”

Are there any particular dances you would like to perform together?
Ann: “Well I want to last long enough to do the Paso Doble, because I fancy being a cape.”
Anton: “Yes, Ann has a little penchant for the Paso Doble. She does have this desire to be a cape.”
Ann: “And I think Anton would deal with me magnificently. We got through the salsa, after all…”

We’ve noticed you having a bit of fun with the routines – is that all Anton, or have you had some input into that, Ann?
Ann: “Largely, it’s Anton. He thought of the comic twist in our salsa. He said, ‘There’s no good trying to impress them with a salsa, so we’ve got to try and make a little play out of it’, which is what we did.”
Anton: “To come up with the routine, I’ll run some ideas past Ann and see how she feels about things. Basically, if she’s game, then we’ll do it. And she’s definitely more game than you might think.”

What do you think about some people saying that Ann being on the competition makes it a bit of a farce?
Anton: “If everybody in the competition was fabulous, there would be no point to the show. It would just be the same as watching the pros dance, and that would be a different programme. That’s not what Strictly Come Dancing is all about.”
Ann: “People are obviously entitled to have their opinions. But as I keep pointing out – if Strictly Come Dancing were solely about virtuoso displays, then it would be covered by BBC Sport and not by BBC Entertainment. It’s Saturday night, primetime, family entertainment. And therefore, I think a bit of pantomime doesn’t come amiss.”

But obviously a couple has to leave the competition every week…
Anton: “It’s always sad to see somebody leave. You never like it. When the voting part of the show starts, the show takes a different tone. Everything’s jolly until somebody has to go. People in the competition say ‘Well, I don’t want anybody to leave!’, but they’re obviously hoping they’re not the ones getting the boot.”
Ann: “Personally, I just want to last as long as possible – but we’ll have to see. We could go out next week. I mean, that is the point of Strictly. You just don’t know.”

So have you got your sights set on the infamous glitterball trophy?
Anton: “Even if Ann dances wonderfully, we’re always going to be around the bottom of the judges’ scoreboard. So we’re going to be reliant on the viewers at home.”
Ann: “I’d really love to stay in the competition until the end, but I think that might be a bit ambitious…”
Anton: “To me, it’s never been about winning. It would be nice, but you have absolutely no control over it. And it’s not the point, really. It’s about doing what we’re doing each Saturday, and that is going out there and having a lot of fun.”

Do you have a feeling as to who you think might win?
Anton: “I really don’t know. There’s always one that develops and comes through. I remember Darren Gough being quiet at the beginning of the series in 2005, but then he went all the way to the final and won the show.”
Ann: “Personally, I would put a small wager on Matt Baker – but only a small one, because there are lots of good contestants. I just don’t think you can know at this stage.”

Watch Ann and Anton take to the dance floor yet again as this year’s Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday night at 6pm on BBC1.