Dani Harmer reveals all to TV Times magazine about her transformation from child actor to Saturday night starlet in Strictly Come Dancing

How has your Strictly experience been so far?
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it’s the most fun I’ve ever had! I absolutely love it – what girl wouldn’t want to wear so much glitter? Although my bed sheets are now covered in fake tan and false eyelashes, so it’s all gone a bit wrong!”

How’s the training going?
“I am really enjoying the training, but it’s getting harder every week. Vincent is really pushing me, which is brilliant, but this week is difficult already and it’s only Tuesday!”

Both you and your partner Vincent Simone are small…
“I was a little bit worried when I first signed up, thinking that everybody was going to be 6ft tall and then there was little, tiny Vincent so it was fine!”

How have you both been getting on?
“We get on so well, he’s absolutely brilliant – he’s such an amazing dancer that you fall in love with him every time you dance with him. If I’m not with Vince for five minutes I get a little bit worried!”

How have you been getting on with Vincent’s professional partner, Flavia Cacace?
“Flavia and Vincent are so close, they’re constantly speaking on the phone and she will always give me a few tips. She makes sure that she and Vincent watch each other’s dress rehearsals as well, just to make sure that we’re doing our best. Sometimes Vincent might miss out something because he’s not a girl, so it’s nice to have Flavia’s point of view.”

Have you formed strong friendships with anyone else on the show?
“I get on really well with Denise Van Outen and Kimberley Walsh, and I spend pretty much all of my time with Lisa Riley – if I’m not with Vince I’ll be with her. They cannot get rid of me! I call Fern Britton ‘Mum’ – she gives the best cuddles and even though I’m 23 I still need mothering. Thank goodness she’s there!”

What’s the reaction from your fans been like?
“They are absolutely loving it. They’ve started a Twitter campaign and by the sounds of it they are encouraging people to vote, which is awesome. I’m hoping that will continue and they’ll keep me in longer!”

You left your Tracy Beaker character behind in March this year. What was that like?
“It was difficult and I’m going to miss her, but it came to a point where if I’d stayed any longer I probably would have resented her. It was such a massive part of my life, but I definitely left at the right time, it just felt right.”

What was it like being a child star?
“I had a completely different childhood to anyone else I know and you do miss out on a lot, like going to school and having a social life, but then again I got to meet the Queen! I don’t regret it, I had the best upbringing that anyone could ask for.”

What’s life been like without her?
“I played Tracy for a very long time, half of my life, so it’s really nice just to be me and be doing something completely out of my comfort zone… I don’t actually know what I’m doing! Every week I ask why I am putting myself through this and then I realise it’s just the best feeling after I’ve done the dance and Vince looks at me and says he’s proud of me.”

Do you hope that starring on Strictly will lead to more acting work?
“It would be absolutely great. It’s not the reason for doing Strictly – I have always wanted to learn how to ballroom dance – but you’re performing for millions of people every Saturday night and it’s great exposure. I would like to go into films and dramas or I’d love to be the assistant in Doctor Who, that would be awesome. I’m going to keep saying that in interviews and hope it comes true!”

Will we be seeing you perform an Argentine tango with Vincent?
“Every week I ask him if we can do it and he says we will save it! I don’t think I’m going to be any good at it though. He laughs at me when I am trying to be sexy because it doesn’t come naturally, but we’ll work on that. I’m going to have a champion teaching me so we should be all right!”