So this year’s Strictly is shaping up to be one of the best yet as it isn’t obvious who’ll win…
Claudia: “I know! Often you’ve got an inkling or know who the top two will be, but I don’t think anybody’s got a clue this time – and that’s what makes it so thrilling.”
Tess: “It’s anyone’s game. The women are doing very well, but the guys – Ashley Taylor Dawson, even Ben Cohen – could be the dark horses…”
What do you love most about being part of the Strictly juggernaut?
Claudia: “It feels like Christmas every week, I don’t know how else to describe it. Strictly lives in a slightly different world and when you step into it, you go: ‘Ah, slight time change’. It’s like you’re in a snowglobe. It’s warm and also non-competitive. Of course they want to do well, but it’s not mean, it’s full of joy.”
Tess: “I agree, there’s an infectious joy that surrounds the show. Being live also adds a frizz of excitement; the adrenaline in the audience is palpable. Many of the crew have worked on Strictly since it started and there’s a genuine team spirit behind-the-scenes.”
What’s your favourite moment of the show?
Tess: :Seeing them dance for the first time in costume with the live band during the dress rehearsal is a real ‘Ooh, ahh’ moment.”
Claudia: “I like anything that isn’t to do with me! So, even though it’s awful, it’s the drama of the red light when Tess announces who’s in the dance off. I can’t take my eyes of them wondering who it’s going to be.”
Do you record the show to watch back in case you miss anything?
Claudia: “Noooo! I never watch myself on television. Hilariously, my children and I watch the Saturday night show obsessively and then they never know who goes out. They don’t really know what I do on the show, they just know mummy goes to work on Strictly at the weekends.”
Tess: “My daughter wanted to watch the Halloween special again because she’d missed some of the costumes and routines – being a girl she loves the sparkling spectacle of it all. So we watched it back and it was interesting to see the show from a viewer’s perspective.”
Claudia, TV Times was in the audience when you stepped in for Brucie in week one. Before the show started, you said you felt a bit nervous.
“No, not a little bit – I was almost sick! I hate it. I feel like I can’t breathe. It’s too nerve wracking. I don’t know how Bruce and Tess do it every week.”
Viewers wouldn’t have guessed…
Claudia: :Tess helps because I love her and she looks after me. I feel like she’s the pro. She guides me and just gives my arm a little squeeze.”
Tess: “Aww, I’m the mum in the relationship. Claudia’s adorable and gets quite nervous but I say to her, “Don’t worry, darling. Look we’re mothers, we’ve been through childbirth, this is nothing!” And she laughs.”
Claudia: “Once the show’s up and running, the worse that can happen is I make a huge mistake, I’m fired, life will continue. But before it starts, it feels like so much is riding on it. I’m just terrified. I’m not used to viewers, I don’t like viewers, I don’t know what to do with them!”
With all the TV bromances, it’s nice to have a womance on our screens…
Tess: “Isn’t that great? I think it’s wonderful we get to stand side-by-side on a primetime show like Strictly because I can’t think of any show on television with two ladies hosting it.”
Claudia: “And Tess and I get on brilliantly. We laugh and laugh and laugh.”
Tess: “Claudia’s a blast! She’s so cheeky and is side-splitting funny – I keep telling her to do stand-up. When I lived in London, we’d bump into each other with our baby buggies and have a chat en route to the shops, but I got to know her well doing Strictly. The more I know her, the more I like her. She’s a real girls’ girl.”
Talking of being girly… Do have fun comparing notes on what you’re wearing?
Tess: “Yes, we’re in and out of each other’s dressing rooms, Claud shows me her shoes and we discuss outfits. We’re girls, we love talking fashion, what can I say!”
You’re hotfooting it back to Blackpool this week for a seaside special. Excited?
Claudia: “I love Blackpool! The history and beauty of Tower Ballroom makes the show feel extra special. All the celebs want to get to Blackpool and none of them want to go out there. We have the best time. I eat more fried food than I know what to do with.”
“One night we stayed in a hotel and I remember eating chips, laughing and drinking in the bar with Tess and Pamela Stephenson until someone had to come up and say ‘Oi, go to bed!’ This year though, as my two-year-old believes he’s nocturnal, what I really want to do is sleep.”
Tess: “It’s two years since we were Tower Ballroom and it’s fun as it’s so iconic and the home of ballroom. We make the most of it, it’s barm cakes and sticks of rock all round! I love it because I’m from the north so it feels like going home. We’re already planning outfits!”
How does Blackpool bling differ to normal Strictly bling?
Claudia: “It’s full-on glamour – they might use a feather!”
Tess: “It’s essentially a normal show, with a bit of Northern sparkle.”