Karim Zeroual reckons being in the dance-off means he's 'got to experience everything', as the Strictly Come Dancing final looms...
Karim Zeroual has said he doesn’t feel at a disadvantage going into the Strictly Come Dancing Grand Final despite being the only finalist to have been in the dance-off twice.
After 13 weeks of hard-fought jiving, waltzing and quickstepping, on Saturday night CBBC presenter Karim, 26, will battle it out with ex-Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher and EastEnders actress Emma Barton for the chance to lift the coveted glitterball trophy.
Speaking at a press conference in London ahead of the final, when asked if he felt slightly on the back foot as the only finalist to have been in the dance-off, Karim replied: “No, not at all actually. I was never naïve enough to not think that I couldn’t be in the dance off. In a weird way, it’s like I’ve got to experience everything on Strictly, which is a nice way to look at it.
“It’s never really knocked me because we’ve always taken each week as it comes and I think you’ve got to experience the highs and the lows. For me, I’ve come back each week, just happy to dance and I’m really proud of myself in terms of how deep I can dig to go back out there, keep pushing and put on an amazing performance that I hope people enjoy.”
Karim – who is partnered with Latin American Dance Champion Amy Dowden – admitted, however, that out of all the finalists he thinks he’s struggled with nerves more than anyone else in the competition.
“The nerves can be quite hard to deal with and I’m probably one of the most nervous before I dance, I just try and hide it very well,” he said. “It’s the best feeling once you’re out there performing and it’s done but when we walk up the stairs beforehand I’m shaking like a leaf. And it doesn’t get easier. It’s something I’ve really struggled with.”
On Saturday night, all three finalists will perform a routine selected by the judges, their favourite dance of the series and, of course, that all-important showdance. After all three have performed, the winner will be decided on public votes alone.
With the end in sight, Karim dismissed suggestions of any rivalry between him, Kelvin and Emma.
“I’m not competitive with these guys, I’m more competitive with myself,” he admitted. “We really all do genuinely support each other and want each other to do well. I always wanted to get through to the semi-finals, only because then I’ve done the whole stint and I thought, if I can get to the final, then I can breathe. Now I’m here, I just want to go and enjoy my three dances. I’d love to lift the glitterball trophy – it would be amazing!”
Who will win? Strictly Come Dancing: The Final can be seen on Saturday December 14 at 7.05pm on BBC1.