Susan and Kevin on their Strictly ‘romance’, JK Rowling – and why they think this will be their final weekend

The firm fan favourites take a break from rehearsals to speak to RadioTimes.com about geeking out, their Come Dancing chances, and judges' criticism

Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton

It would be fair to say that not many people thought Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton would make it this far in Strictly Come Dancing. Least of all Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton.

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I’m getting a sofa delivered today,” Susan laughs as she speaks to RadioTimes.com. “My wife’s had to take a day off because I thought I’d be out of the competition by now.”

And it’s not just the sofa. Susan admits that she now doesn’t have enough clothes to wear on It Takes Two as she thought she would only need around six outfits in total for her time on Strictly.

“I thought if we were lucky we would get to Movie Week,” she says. “So I’ve now had to start repeating my outfits and I can’t do it anymore because I stole them from Armchair Detectives which is currently showing – so I now can’t wear those clothes.

“I’ve had to find other clothes from the bottom of my wardrobe. I’m going to be wearing some horrific t-shirt that I won in a competition that’s got the Dulux Home Decorating Centre on it!”

Although Strictly fans would love for this to be the case, Kevin – who has famously made the final every single year that he’s competed on Strictly – thinks that this will most likely be the couple’s final week.

Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton Strictly Blackpool Week
Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton Strictly Blackpool Week (BBC)

“With the standard of the competition the way it is right now, we’re probably likely to be down the bottom of the leaderboard, and you know, we’re odds-on going to get eliminated this week,” he tells us. “So we might as well just go there with no pressure, go and have fun, do the dance as best we can, enjoy the moment, and then whatever happens happens.”

The pair’s endearing and very genuine friendship – soon to be sealed with matching ‘I Love Grimsby’ tattoos – has completely won over viewers, and the pair joke that their relationship turned far more into a romance. “I would say we are courting,” laughs Susan.

The chemistry was instant. Before this series of Strictly had even begun and the celebrities and professionals had been partnered up, the pair found kindred spirits in one another as they bonded over Ron and Jon.

“Even before the launch show, we were just bonding over things like Game of Thrones and Harry Potter,” says Kevin. “And we were going, ‘Imagine if we got partnered together and we got Halloween Week, we could do a Game of Thrones number,’ and we were geeking out over the whole thing. I feel like we’ve been mates for years now.”

Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton on Strictly Come Dancing 2017

Although like in most relationships, there’s a bit of jealousy, too. Namely concerning former partners.

“I’m slightly jealous of his ex-dance girlfriends,” says Susan, turning to him. “And with Kellie Bright in particular, you did Star Wars and Harry Potter with her – which is slightly annoying because that’s what I would like to do!”

Another good mate of Susan’s is JK Rowling, who visited the Strictly studio and sat in the audience at Blackpool Week. She “loves” Strictly, and Susan says that the author is even part of a message “support group” of women cheering her on each week.

“She’s been a really good friend of mine for a few years now,” says Susan. “Every day I send them photographs, I send them the dance in advance so they know what’s happening and I tell them what the costume is. They’ve just been very supportive for the past 11 weeks. They’re just lovely, lovely women.”

If they get through to Musicals Week, Susan reveals they will be doing a Salsa to ABBA’s Take a Chance on Me from Mamma Mia. During rehearsals her and Kevin “turn into 12-year-old kids” apparently – and during training for their Jive in week 7 they would have “lightsaber battles with each other” using the broom handle props.

They are clearly having so much fun, but often the judges have been more critical of their Saturday night performances. Not that Susan’s letting the comments get to her.

“The thing is, my past life is as a stand-up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival,” she explains. “And when you’ve stood in front of 150 people completely silent on a Saturday night, that hurts. I’ve been doing stand-up for a long time with a lot of people critiquing what I’ve done in a less nice way than the judges are doing.

Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton

“The thing about the judges is it’s part of the show; a lot of the criticism has been justified. It’s just part of it. So no, it’s absolutely fine.”

Although the judges aren’t always impressed, viewers most certainly are. Despite regularly landing in the bottom half of the Strictly leaderboard, Susan and Kevin have never faced the dance off and are being kept in week after week by the public.

“The audience that have continued to vote for us are remarkable and beautiful human beings,” Susan smiles.

Keen Strictly fans will remember Susan saying at the start of Strictly that she would quit Twitter during her time on the show in order not to ruin this “once in a lifetime experience”. And those same fans will now have noticed her fervently tweeting through her Strictly journey week by week.

“People get really invested in Strictly which is one of the reasons why it’s so beautiful. And I think when people start to leave the competition – their favourites – people get really upset about. So I have spent less time on Twitter than I normally would,” she explains. “Especially after results shows and things like that. People get upset about things and sometimes people get a little bit more upset than I would like, but generally I have to say the response is so positive.”

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Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturday 24th November on BBC1