Strictly Come Dancing 2013 final: Susanna Reid or Mark Benton for the win, says Lisa Riley

Former contestant and It Takes Two co-presenter tells RadioTimes.com why she's backing Susanna and Mark, how Strictly changed her life and why she wouldn’t return as a contestant

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Last year’s Strictly Come Dancing sweetheart Lisa Riley is backing BBC Breakfast’s Susanna Reid and actor Mark Benton to win this series.

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“I do hope either Mark or Susanna do it, definitely. Susanna for the girls and Mark for the boys, completely,” Lisa says.

A former contestant, now presenting segments on spin-off show It Takes Two, Lisa adds, “Remember I’ve done it and I know how it works. I watch it as a viewer even though on I’m on Takes Two and week after week you go, ‘Ah, they’ve put the hours in’ and I know that. So those two 100%.”

Lisa, who confirmed she will be hosting this year’s Strictly arena tour (from January 5 2014) says if she was given the opportunity to get back out on the floor she wouldn’t.

“No. My year was my year and I feel like I’ve come out as a winner. Just because I don’t have the glitter ball, that doesn’t matter to me.  I was the most changed contestant. I’ve come out of it with my bestest friend [her professional partner Robin Windsor] and I don’t need a big shiny ball to them me that. I’ve had my moment.”

Of the recent exit of Robin with his 2013 Dragons’ Den partner Deborah Meaden Lisa notes, “He shouldn’t have gone last week. It was really strange. There’s a point on the leaderboard that you never want to sit. I think if you’re three from the bottom it’s a really dangerous place. The public think they’re safe and don’t pick up the phone.

“I think Deborah is the epitome of what dancing’s all about. She’s plus 50, she’s gone out there, she’s given it her absolute all and it’s worked. She’s adorable, she’s lovely, she’s great,” Lisa enthuses.

Speaking about the latest batch of professional dancers Lisa says “Aljaz Skorjanec [model Abbey Clancy’s pro partner] is like oh my god. He’s perfect” and says Susanna Reid’s partner ‘Kevin from Grimsby’ is “great”. The former Emmerdale star adds that Casualty star Patrick Robinson’s partner Anya’s a “dream”. Lisa goes on to credit her as being “up there with Artem Chigvintsev” who this year stars with Coronation Street’s Natalie Gumede as a choreographer adding – “She’s one of the best”.

The importance of Strictly in Lisa’s life is evident in the fact that her upcoming autobiography, Never Judge A Book By Its Cover, kicks off during her time in Strictly. She explains, “My whole life has been completely flipped on every single level and that’s purely for the good.” Lisa credits the show with helping her through the grief after her mum passed away and says, “Everything that’s come out of Strictly has been beyond brilliant.”

Although, she did joke that judge Bruno Tonioli falling off of his chair during this year’s series literally made her pee her pants… but we’ll forget that one, eh Lisa?

Never Judge A Book By Its Cover by Lisa Riley is on sale from today (November 7), Orion publishing

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