Ed Balls has said yes to eight-hour training days and a “no-beer” diet – but will he get a spray tan?

In his column, the former Shadow Chancellor says he's feeling the pressure on Strictly

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Like many other middle-aged men, I’ve always thought I could show the young ones a thing or two about dancing. At weddings and parties, I only need to hear the first notes of Stayin’ Alive or Greased Lightning, and I’m out on the dance floor before you can say “John Travolta”. But Katya, my professional partner, is less than impressed and has made it clear that our journey on Strictly Come Dancing is going to be a very short one if I carry on like that.


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So instead of wild lumbering, I’m now trying to learn precision. When Katya says move your hips, it turns out she doesn’t also mean I should move my shoulders, knees, ankles and head as well, which is proving quite challenging!

“Be light on your feet when you land from that jump,” Katya yells. Light on my feet, me? It’s a revolution she’s asking for.

The question is, will Katya succeed? She is supportive and encouraging but
 she won’t settle for me trying
 my best; she wants better than that. And every time I say it can’t be done, she tells me I’m wrong – and I nod.

That way, I’ve said yes to eight-hour training days, yes to a “no-beer” diet and yes to practising through my lunch break. Why do I keep agreeing? Because I’m so drained at the end 
of the day, I can barely speak, and certainly can’t get any words out to object.

As for the spray tan, I’ve yet to say yes to that. But the pressure is intensifying from all angles. 

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Apparently if I don’t don the paper pants and climb into the tanning booth pre-show, I’ll look very pale compared with all the other dancers – “It’s the lights, darling, they’ll wash you out!” At the time of writing I’m still saying no, but I can feel my resolve weakening…