Karen and Kevin Clifton: ‘Strictly Prom will be out of this world’

Strictly Come Dancing is firmly established as Britain’s favourite way to spend Saturday night and this week it brings it's unique brand of glitz and glamour to another national institution – the BBC Proms

The spectacular Strictly at the Proms is full of everything from the Charleston to the waltz and will see series popular pros, including Karen and Kevin Clifton, take to the floor.

TV Times caught up with husband and wife team Karen and Kevin as they prepare for a very special evening to talk Strictly Proms, iPods and their surprise wedding dance….

What can we expect from Strictly at the Proms?
 “I’m pretty sure we’ll have a little bit of everything – a little bit of waltz and a little bit of samba. It all depends what our mastermind choreographer is thinking and how he is going to shape it. But it’s always something absolutely out of this world and brilliant!

“We’re dancing with our fellow pro dancers from Strictly and we’re a great team so hopefully we’ll put something together that will blow people away.”

What will make this Prom so special?
 “There’s something ridiculously magical about the Royal Albert Hall. We watched the Proms last year and there’s something about the event itself that everybody really enjoys – even if you’re not usually a fan of that kind of music, there’s something very celebratory about the event.

“All performers, when there’s a huge energy in the room, tend to perform at their best because we feed off that energy. I think that’s what I’m most looking forward to. It’s going to be really exciting!”

How will dancing at the Royal Albert Hall compare to dancing in front of millions week after week on Strictly? Will you be nervous?
: “Well, on Strictly you can’t really see them! Being on that stage and feeling the presence in such a magical palace is like a dream come true. I’ll probably be a bit more nervous dancing there than I would be on Strictly!”
Kevin: “I think it’s slightly more nerve-wracking, because even though you’re on Strictly and it’s a huge show, all you see is the audience in the studio and the cameras. You don’t see the millions of people at home.

“But with the Proms, it’s not like you’re performing in a studio and then that’s going out to millions of people sat at home; the energy and the audience is all around you.”

As dancers and choreographers, how do you find the inspiration for your routines? Kevin: “Usually whatever song is playing on the radio, there’s a subconscious thing going on in our heads thinking, ‘What could we do with this?’ To be honest, if people are round and you put your iPod on I’m always a little bit nervous – between me and Karen it could go from heavy metal to musical theatre show tunes to classical opera. You just don’t know what’s going to come on!

“The music is probably the most important thing. If you can hook into the music and if it has a particular vibe or if it evokes some sort of emotion or tells some sort of story then you can really run with it.”
Karen: “It’s much easier when you can relate to the song. The song makes it easier for you to kind of let go and be creative.”

You recently got married – how was your first dance? Was it a big choreographed routine?
 “I’m going to massively disappoint you now… Basically we did the old hold on to each other and rock from side to side! I think everyone was expecting a choreographed piece, but we didn’t feel like we could possibly live up to expectations and we didn’t want the pressure of having to choreograph something good on our wedding day.”
Karen: “It was already enough that Kevin was going to forget what he was saying for his speech!”
Kevin: “Karen obviously didn’t tell me what her dress was going to look like beforehand, but anything I suggested she was like ‘No, it’s not going to work.’

“Her dress was very long and tight with this train along the side so we just rocked because she couldn’t move very far. Every now and again I would do a little ‘ronde’ to kick the dress out of the way!”

And finally, with Strictly fever heating up again, what tips do you have for the incoming celebrities?
 “I think for us, the most important things are that they want to have fun, embrace the show and that we get along with them. We spend so much time with them that you want them to be normal and nice!”
Kevin: “I think embracing it is the key. If you come on and you are worried about not looking cool then I think you’re going to struggle with Strictly Come Dancing! You’ve just got to embrace it and run with the whole over-the-topness.”
Karen: “And embrace the tanning and the sparkles!”

BBC Proms: Strictly Proms screens on BBC4  on Friday, July 22