Robbie Savage talks to TV Times magazine, about his transformation from football bad boy to the star of Strictly Come Dancing

Hi Robbie! How are you finding it being on Strictly?
“I love ballroom! I’ve only been dancing for a few weeks so to go out and perform a waltz in front of millions of people on a Saturday night is incredible.”

Did your life as an athlete prepare you for this?
“You do an hour of football a day and you do eight hours here – it’s very hard work! I’m quite slim as it is and I’ve dropped an inch off my waist. It’s amazing what you can achieve and how many friends I’m getting.”

Who are you closest to on Strictly?
“I’m great mates with Harry Judd and Russell Grant – a McFly drummer and an astrologer, it’s weird. Opposites attract, I didn’t see it coming but Russell did!”

Has Strictly changed your image?
“I suppose so, but this is me how I am normally. Football is an entertainment industry and that was my job. Off the field I’m just a normal guy who loves life and I go into everything I do with 100 per cent. It’s so nice that people want me to do well. The other day a 93-year-old lady made a huge fuss of me and said she stays in for me on a Saturday night, then yesterday two little girls wanted their photo taken with me!”

How have you found the criticism especially from Craig?
“I don’t know what I’ve got to do to please Craig. I can’t put any more effort in. It’s soul destroying when you get low marks from him, but sometimes the best dancer doesn’t win this show. People love a tryer. I’ve never been to see musical theatre and I’ve never danced other than the first dance at my wedding, so I hope people see the improvement. I’m proud of myself.”

What prompted you to take part?
“It was after my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I hoped dancing would prove a distraction for my parents. It’s such a horrible, cruel disease. The sad thing for me is that every time I go home to see my parents I just burst out crying. I tend not to go as much as I’d like because it just devastates me every time I see my dad.”

And is it true you are donating your fee for the show to The Alzheimer’s Society?
“Yes, I’m an ambassador for the charity.”

And is your mum enjoying your performances?
“My mum loves it, it’s a bright spot in her life at the moment. It’s quite different to watching me at football matches! I’m doing this for her and my dad and my whole family enjoys it.”

And what about your wife, Sarah?
“My wife is going to take dancing lessons when I finish, but not with me – she’s going to find a handsome hunk of a teacher and get her own back!”