Darcey Bussell: I turned down Strictly the first time I was asked

In the Radio Times Christmas issue, the dancer reveals that she originally said no to the Saturday-night show

Darcey Bussell, who at 19 was the youngest ever principal dancer at the Royal Ballet, has revealed that she said no to being a judge on Strictly Come Dancing the first time she was asked.

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“Strictly wasn’t something I wanted to do. I got asked a couple of times, turned it down once… But I decided to do it because I love dance and love it being celebrated,” says the Strictly judge in the Christmas issue of the Radio Times.

“I didn’t think about being on live TV. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have done it! I remember watching it back and thinking, ‘Who is that person? That doesn’t sound like me.’ And then all these stupid mannerisms that I didn’t recognise! I don’t blame anybody for criticising me. But I learnt pretty quickly that it was just a matter of ironing out my nerves”

The dancer says that she is so used to people “analysing every aspect” of her personal life and career, she’s grown a thick skin.

“I’ve come to realise that being on Strictly is like being in another theatre company and performing a live production. The only thing I’m now conscious of, as the only woman on the panel, is not to look like the old lady who fancies all the young men on the dance floor!”

Bussell also revealed that she wouldn’t want to see an all-female final because she finds “men more interesting to watch…”

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Read the full interview in the Christmas issue of Radio Times – on sale now and on Newsstand for iPad or iPhone