(Picture, left, shows Rory Bremner, 50, with dancing partner Erin Boag)
If you’d told me six months ago that I’d be dancing through the streets of Greenwich behind Edwina Currie, Russell Grant and Robbie Savage, I’d have called you barking mad. If I tell you I enjoyed every minute of it, the boot may be on the other foot. Welcome to Planet Strictly.
When I was first approached, I was amazed by the warmth people have for the programme. It’s an inspiring show, and I quickly realised that far from being mad to do it, I’d be mad not to. It’s the best party on television.
I can’t believe our journey began barely two weeks ago: it feels like months. Psychologists call it Stockholm Syndrome, where hostages empathise with their captors. It’s a far cry from the day we arrived, one by one, to be met by a rack of garish lycra outfits and a knowing look from the costume lady.
I’ve never worn lighter shoes or better-fitting clothes. Come to that, I’ve never put on a shirt feet-first before. As the zip reaches your chest, you feel yourself standing taller. I may not have lost weight, but I’ve already gained height.
Nothing quIte prepares you for the blitzkrieg of rehearsals and publicity around the launch show. As we were led out that evening, one by one, to be greeted by a cheering crowd corralled by the BBC to welcome us, I felt like a Chilean miner. I’ve done some sketches in my time, but this is the biggest. And no one knows the script.
The cast are lovely, bonding quickly and swapping stories about the codenames used for us (“Lion” – me, “Lily” – Robbie Savage, “Twist” – Nancy Dell’Olio etc). Jason Donovan and Harry Judd show early talent, Dan Lobb is a natural charmer and Russell Grant is blissfully happy auditioning for a part in La Cage aux Folles. He’s the beating heart of the show, Anita Dobson the calming aromatherapy candle. And Nancy? “Well…” as Sven would say.
The euphoria and fake tan of the first show have faded. Now the hard work starts. Thank God I have Erin Boag as my partner. She made Willie Thorne look like Gene Kelly. I hope I don’t let her down. And if so? Well, we’ll always have Greenwich.