Strictly Come Dancing star Lisa Riley talks to TV Times magazine about why her size won’t stop her lighting up the dance floor…

How are you finding your Strictly Come Dancing experience so far?
“My professional partner Robin [Windsor] told me I should go for a ‘double dip’ spray tan because I’m so pale, but it’s really shiny and I’ve ended up looking like the tin man from The Wizard of Oz! I’m getting used to it though, it’s the new me!”

Has being on the show had any other impact on you?
“I’m 36 years’ old and I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I’m not a vain person, but after a couple of weeks’ training with Robin I am becoming a little vain!”

This is a bit of a departure for you, though, isn’t it?
“Normally I play scruffy tramps and now I’ve got the false eyelashes and a rail of gorgeous frocks. I feel like Alexis Colby!”

What do your family think of it all?
“They’re all loving seeing me look a bit more glamorous.”

What do you think about the critics who have been vocal because of your size, even before you’ve performed your first dance?
“The paper said that I’ve got odds of 66-1 to win and I want to get that down. Obviously I’ve got a mountain to climb because of my size ,but I don’t want to be a caricature, I want people to enjoy my dancing. I’m not JLo, but can I hold a rhythm? Yes, I can.”

Do you hope to be an inspiration to other women who might feel inhibited by their size?
“If I can come out of Strictly having made just one person start dancing, then I’ve done a good job. Yesterday I went out shopping and people were saying, ‘Come on Lis, you’re doing it for big girls.'”

Is must be tough hearing bad comments, though…
“I’m an easy target to be picked on, but nothing embarrasses me in life and I’m going to try my hardest, so hopefully I’ll break those barriers down.”

How are you getting on with your dance partner, Robin?
“We’ve got a very similar sense of humour and we struck up some banter really quickly – we’re having a riot! I’ve always thought he was the best professional and it does come in handy that he’s got arms of steel!”

You’re training in Manchester alongside Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton…
“Vic is fantastic, I’ve had my picture taken with her Olympic medals and we’ve become the Mancky girls! The good thing is she can teach me that winning streak, because she’s a champion and it’s driven into her.”