One of this year’s new recruits has opened up about his past

One of the new Strictly Come Dancing professional dancers has said that he almost died at birth along with his twin brother, and that his unlikely survival is the poignant reason behind his name.

Graziano Di Prima, a 24-year-old Latin dance champion from Italy, has also told of how Strictly judge Bruno Tonioli is thrilled to have another Italian on the show.

Graziano told Hello! magazine of his past: “I was born prematurely and had a twin brother, who sadly died.

Graziano Di Prima
Graziano Di Prima (Hello! magazine)

“I was so weak that it was uncertain whether I would survive. I was lucky, though, and my parents named me Graziano, which means ‘thank you’.”

Graziano, who has been dancing since the age of six after his mother enrolled him in dance classes, said he is still in disbelief about landing a job on the BBC1 show.

“I followed my dream and it came true. Now I can’t wait to dance,” he said.

“It was so good meeting the judges. Bruno told me how pleased he was to have a fellow Italian on the show.”

Graziano is one of three new recruits for Strictly this year, along with South African Latin champion Johannes Radebe and four-time winner of the Italian Dance Championship Luba Mushtuk.

The three new dancers will give the show its biggest line-up of professionals, according to executive producer Louise Rainbow, taking the number up to 18.

Graziano, who was born in Sicily, has represented Belgium at the World Championships and for the past three years he has toured the world with the dance company Burn The Floor.

Hello! magazine is out now.