Tim Wonnacott: There are never enough practice hours for Strictly Come Dancing

"I have never been bungee jumping but I bet that the whoosh when in free fall is the closest to being launched into your cha cha cha"

In my time doing TV I have experienced some pretty hairy moments. Live performances are obviously the most fraught because there is no ‘going back’ and the sure fire knowledge that every trip, fall, stumble, curse or swear word will forever haunt you for better or worse definitely releases some supercharged adrenaline! For some performers it is just this dose that they crave but the difference with Strictly is that the arena in which the performance takes place is not by a long chalk your norm.


For the amateur dancer there have never been enough practise hours and one is never well enough prepared simply because dancing will never (until perhaps a year or two down the line) be your area of expertise or comfort.

The build up for the first instalment of Strictly is particularly fraught because half the pack of nervous celebrities dance on the first night and this painfully draws out the process. Splitting the group in this way seems to increase, if anything, the injection of fear.

Friday night was my night along with fellow hopefuls Pixie Lott, Caroline Flack, Scott Mills, Judy Murray and Jake Wood. All are pretty seasoned yet showed the signs before going ‘on’. The odd nervous tick, the dry throat and demand for water, the wringing of palms, the ‘shakes’ in one form or another, all precede the moment when you are ‘on’ and there’s no turning back. I have never been bungee jumping but I bet that the whoosh when in free fall before being arrested by the rubber band is the closest to being launched into your cha cha cha ha ha!

What happens then?…well, if you have had enough training, the rhythm of the music and the drumming that your partner has given you kick in and with another whoosh you are off into what may be a routine littered with little mistakes (which is what happened to me), which you hope no-one notices and boom, before you know it, it is all over on average after just 90 seconds.

Now for the judges. They are something else aren’t they? Having worked really hard for a couple of weeks with maybe 8 tough sessions behind you to have your gait compared to a person wearing at least two soiled nappies could be seriously upsetting! Actually though if you strip away the florid bits of josh and banter, the judges deliver valid criticism and if my legs really are so far apart (when dancing!) I had better do something about it smartish!

Roll on next week and the waltz yet another mystery for me to master. Some say it takes five years to master a good waltz and I have got less than two days once you have excluded my trip up to Yorkshire this week.

Tickets for all the Strictly shows are like gold dust and one of the lovely things when not actually dancing is standing in the area outside Claudia’s upstairs eyrie looking down at the other competitors dance and then cheering them when they come upstairs. Thom Evans’ waltz was enough to make one swoon and Simon Webbe’s and Mark Wright’s raw muscular skills defy belief. Sunetra and Jennifer literally run rings around the dance floor and as for Alison Hammond…….. well she’s just a riot!

More fun and games on Saturday. Keeeep Dancing!!


Strictly Come Dancing is on BBC1 on Saturday at 6:30pm