Strictly Come Dancing 2012 pre-match interviews – the girls

We talk to Victoria Pendleton, Kimberley Walsh, Jerry Hall, Dani Harmer, Fern Britton, Denise Van Outen and Lisa Riley as they prepare to dance...

Olympic gold medallist, 32


“I have to admit this isn’t the first time I have danced. I took ballet when I was little but after two lessons I told my mum that my feet hurt and I wanted to stop. In truth I was just bored so I told a big lie. I found good toes, bad toes, good toes, bad toes, good toes, bad toes so tedious…

Brendan Cole has assured me that there won’t be any of that but my feet are already killing me. Honestly. I have spent the last couple of weeks hobbling around trying not to get cramp. I’ve been banned from wearing heels for the last ten years and wearing them all day is agony. The flexibility in my feet is also very limited, which has always been an advantage in cycling. When you are pedalling, you need to keep your foot in the same position throughout the revolution otherwise you don’t get 100 per cent power transfer to the pedals. Now my stiff ankles are a disadvantage and I’m struggling to change.

It is exciting and terrifying in equal measure, turning my back on cycling and starting something completely new, but having another focus straightaway has helped me. Other people would have taken a holiday but stopping training entirely and losing the structure of a daily routine would have been impossible for me.

I can’t wait to get my spangly new dress on and get out on the dance floor on Saturday because there is no pressure on me to be any good at this. I’m definitely nervous about the live shows and elimination, but I’m not dreading it at all. Dread is stepping up to the starting line at the Olympics with millions of people watching and only one chance to get it right. I have had a lot of pressure on me for the last few years so I just want to enjoy this and if I trip up on my feet, fall flat on my face and drag Brendan crashing down on top of me it isn’t the end of the world.

I have been the best in the world at something already. I can’t be greedy – it would be selfish to want to conquer the ballroom and the velodrome.

From Girls Aloud, 30

Why are you doing Strictly?

I watch it every year with my mum and my nan and gradad (who is 92 and very excited about coming to see me) and wish I could dance like the pros, so this year I had the time and decided to go for it. I was a bit worried so I asked Cheryl Cole what she thought and she convinced me it was a good idea – she knows me really well and would never advise me to do something I wouldn’t enjoy.

Are you competitive?

I’m from a family of four with a brother who is the most competitive person ever and I have never backed down.

Have you had your first spray tan?

I’m going to avoid them for as long as possible. I’m going to end up tangerine in two weeks’ time, aren’t I?

Pasha: She is a natural performer so I just have to make sure she’s as comfortable as possible.

Actress, 23

Why are you doing Strictly?

I’ve wanted to do it for years. I love the glitz, the glamour, the dancing – and this year I had the time as the tour I was meant to be doing was cancelled ages before I signed up.

What are you most looking forward to?

I can’t wait to start training and get fit again because I have let myself go recently. I had a McDonald’s before the first training session for the group dance – I’m going to have to cut that out if I want abs like Victoria’s, aren’t I?

What are you dreading?

I’m dreading my dad seeing the outfits I am going to be wearing – even though I’m 23, he still questions what I’m wearing whenever I go out in something revealing.

Vincent: I’m very happy to get a girl who I really have a chance at winning the competition with. Everyone should watch out because although we are little people we are going to be fast – we call ourselves the speedy smurfs!

Actress, 36

Why are you doing Strictly?

I did a play that involved a pole dancing scene this year and I think one of the Strictly producers saw it so I got the call. I was a bit nervous because all the dancers are so dinky and, well, I’m not. But I have a right to dance whatever my size.

What are you looking forward to?

It will be amazing to be pampered and get a full face of make-up and big hair done every Saturday night. Hopefully people will forget how I looked as Mandy Dingle.

What are you dreading?

The lifts – I am so worried Robin isn’t going to be able to get me off the floor. I’m also a bit worried about Craig because he can be vicious – but I have not qualms about knocking him out at 6 o’clock on Saturday night on BBC1!

Robin: I can lift anyone, any size so she has nothing to worry about. She is fabulous.

Actress and presenter, 38

Why are you doing Strictly?

It’s everything I love – performing, primetime TV, dancing, tans, sequins. It doesn’t get more showbiz!

What are you looking forward to?

Everything! I can’t wait to really get started – the launch show really whet my appetite…

What are you dreading?

Working with James – we have already had a warning to keep it clean. We are very mischievous and naughty but we are having so much fun.

Who will vote for you?

James says it’s not really a dancing competition but a popularity contest and he’s worried because he thinks he isn’t that popular with viewers. But I’m hoping to get the whole of Essex behind me.

James: I am so pleased with Denise that I promise to be good and not get angry with the judges. I don’t know how long it will last…

TV presenter, 55

Why are you doing Strictly?

I have wanted to do it for a long time but something has always come up. so this year I cleared my diary for the whole of autumn in the hope I would get the call again!

Do you like all the sequins?

Whenever anyone is worried they are going over the top with the costumes, hair, make-up or glitter, the line is – “Of course not, this is Strictly!” I won’t be going too skimpy to start with, but I could be worn down to a size zero after a week, in which case the costumes might get shorter.

Have you had your first spray tan?

The biggest row my husband Phil and I had was when I first put fake tan on. Being a chef he is very sensitive to smells and he can’t stand it. We didn’t speak for four days. I have convinced him it’s an essential part of the Strictly experience and he will be sleeping in the spare room on spray-tan days.

Artem: She is smart and intelligent so the key is to use that and have clever concepts and ideas behind every dance.

Model and actress, 56

Why are you doing Strictly?

My agent talked me into it – he’s very persuasive, darling. And I am hoping to inspire drag queens around the world. I like a challenge and to scare myself, so this will be fun

Any dance experience?

I love dancing and I will always be on the dance floor as long as there is good music on. I won’t just dance to anything. People won’t be surprised to hear that the music that really gets me moving is rock ‘n’ roll. But I’m like the penguin in Happy Feet – the more I dance the better my mood gets.

What are you looking forward to?

I am thrilled to bits that my partner is Anton. I get bored quickly but he makes me laugh and will keep me entertained. He’s going to ride me hard.

What are you dreading?

I am hoping I have the stamina to keep up with Anton and that the judges aren’t mean. I think I’ll have to work on Len with my charms – I’ll win him over.

Any secret skills?

Well I feel confident with an audience having had years on the catwalk and at the theatre. I also know how to make clothes look good.

Strictly Come Dancing starts tonight at 9:00pm on BBC1


Meet the boys competing in Strictly Come Dancing.