Natasha Kaplinsky has said the BBC ‘forced’ her to take part in hit ballroom show Strictly Come Dancing.

The star, who won the first series in 2004 with professional partner Brendan Cole, said she was cajoled by BBC bosses and eventually ‘ran out of excuses’.

She told the Daily Mirror: “I got completely forced and put into a corner at the BBC.

“I’d just started at BBC Breakfast and obviously the bosses at Strictly had a shopping list and a newsreader was on it and I was their easiest target.”

Her appearance in Strictly sparked rumours of an affair with Brendan, but the newsreader said the speculation was not true.

She said: “There was chemistry, of course, and I certainly fell in love with dancing, but I did not fall in love with Brendan.”

Natasha made a high-profile move to Channel 5 in February 2008 after becoming a household name presenting the BBC Six O’Clock News bulletin and hosting flagship events including Children In Need.

Her debut immediately doubled the usual audience for Five News, but just six weeks into the reported £1 million job she announced she was expecting a baby.

She eventually left the channel in 2010 after giving birth to her second child.