Natalie Gumede, alias Coronation Street’s evil Kirsty, reveals her hopes as Strictly Come Dancing kicks off with its first live show…

Have you had any dance training before?

“I trained at the Italia Conti Academy and did dance as a kid, but not for over 10 years, and I haven’t done ballroom before, so I’m looking forward to learning that and wearing a big ballroom gown. I’ve never done things like high-kicking either, so I really am learning new skills.”

Your partner, Artem, has done really well in the past, even winning with Kara Tointon – does that put pressure on you?

“Not really on me, more on him, I reckon. He’s going to be a hard taskmaster and I want him to be, but hopefully he’ll still be lovely…”

Are you loving the amazing costumes, glitter and sparkles?

“I am and I don’t actually recognise myself, which is just bizarre. With some of the straps on the outfits, you can’t even imagine where they’re going to go. We take ALL day getting ready, with more make-up, more hairdressing and more sequins applied all the time. You’re just on this merry-go-round until your inner drag queen is unleashed!”

Have you had any words of encouragement from your former Corrie cast friends?

“Yes, I’ve had a few text messages and tweets and they’re all really excited! Most knew how much of a fan of Strictly I was, so they’re chuffed for me. I reckon some of the girls will be a bit jealous I’ve been teamed up with Artem because he’s so adorable, but then, most of the nation will be pretty jealous, to be fair.”

You must be hoping that, by doing Strictly, people get to see you’re not like nasty, violent Kirsty from Coronation Street?

“Kirsty was a very difficult, troubled and dark character, but I can’t protest enough the difference between myself and her. I’m sure when they see me Strictly-fied it will close the door on her, and I can shine through!”

Tune in for a bumper weekend of Strictly Come Dancing, starting on Friday September 27 at 9pm on BBC1.