Ann Widdecombe reveals why the time has come for a politician to strut their stuff on Strictly Come Dancing

What inspired you to want to take part in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing?
“I would say no year after year because I thought I simply couldn’t do it. Then along came John Sergeant and the one thing he demonstrated was that you really can do this programme at your own pace, you don’t have to turn into a semi-professional in two weeks!”

You’ve been paired with Anton Du Beke – how do you fancy your chances?
“Anton and I are very ambitious and we’re not quitting. We may end up getting eliminated but we’re not quitting.”

What do your political peers think about you appearing on Strictly?
“They think it’s absolutely hilarious but we all know there are other politicians who want to do this. Mandelson’s never made any secret of wanting to and Vince Cable apparently wants to. I’m quite pleased it’s me.”

Which of the other Strictly celebrities do you see as your main competition?
“I think reality says that I see all of them as rivals.”

How did you enjoy performing your first ever group dance on Strictly’s launch show?
“I wasn’t aware of the audience, I was just concentrating on trying to get through the dance. In training, I shan’t be looking to do things quite so quickly. I don’t want uncomplicated moves but I don’t want one after the other.”

What do you think of the glitzy costumes you have to wear?
“The glamour side of things is fine but I told the producers that the costumes had to be modest. What I wouldn’t show the Pope I shan’t be showing the audience!”

How are you preparing yourself for the judges’ criticism?
“It’s not serious, it’s just a good, fun dancing competition. Will I answer back? Let us see…”

Watch Ann and the other celebrities perform live for the first time on Friday October 1 and October 2.