Strictly’s Mark: ‘I don’t care about the dancing, I just fancy a leotard!’

Waterloo Road’s Mark Benton is hoping he’ll soon be lighter on his feet when he takes to the dancefloor as a contestant in the new series of Strictly, which premieres on BBC1 on Friday…

Why did you want to get involved in Strictly?
“I think it was the challenge – something so like nothing I’ve ever done before. I’ve always shied away from reality TV before. But this came a long and it’s such an uplifting show – you’re not sitting in a room talking, you’re actually learning something. That was the attraction for me, learning to dance.”

How has playing Edna Turnblad on stage in Hairspray prepared you for the show?
“Well, obviously I do a bit of dancing in Hairspray dressed as a big woman, but it’s very different to this. Doing a musical has been great for me in terms of stamina because I’m a big fella.”

Celebrities have been known to lose lots of weight through doing Strictly…
“Getting fit is part of the reason for doing it. Since I’ve been doing Hairspray I’ve dropped three trouser sizes so hopefully I can carry that on during my run in Strictly. With all the rehearsing, and if I eat the right things, I will definitely lose weight.”

Your former Waterloo Road co-star Chelsee Healey was runner-up in the ninth series of Strictly in 2011 – has she been offering advice?
‘She’s really sweet. She Tweeted me saying if you need any tips, just give me a ring.”

Are you ready to embrace the sequins and spray tans, alongside your professional parter Iveta Lukosiute?
“Oh yeah! I’m actually not bothered about the boogie-ing – I just fancy putting on a leotard!”

Is there anything you think you might struggle with on Strictly?
“As an actor, you often find it hard to just be yourself. I guess that with each dance I do, I’ll have to try and find a character to play. But I’m certainly up for the challenge!”