Sewn in underwear, nerves and the coolest WhatsApp thread: what Strictly’s stars are saying about the new series

Ed Balls is stitched in, Anastacia is banishing the nerves and Melvin Odoom is loving the group texting... the Class of 2016 reveal all to Radio Times

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Strictly Come Dancing’s Class of 2016 is taking this ballroom thing pretty seriously. Ed Balls has got an interesting new shirt-cum-underwear combo, Laura Whitmore has to be snipped out of her dress to use the toilet, and Melvin Odoom has had his own dance studio built.

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Ahead of the dance debut, we caught up with each contestant to find out just what life in the training room is like and how they’re feeling about that first spin. 

You can read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times magazine, but here’s a taster…

ED BALLS

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Former Shadow Chancellor, 49

On the clothes: “Now I’m having to get used to performing a choreographed jive, or wearing a shirt with the boxer shorts sewn in so it feels like pulling on a romper suit. How on earth did I end up doing this?” 

JUDGE RINDER

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Criminal barrister, host of ITV’s Judge Rinder, 38

On making his grandparents proud: “As I watched the group dance I didn’t even notice the terrible mistakes I made. Instead I took a call from my grandfather. “We love it, my son,” he said. “I knew he meant it and it made the whole thing worthwhile. I could not give a fig whether I forget the steps or embarrass myself from now on. Because I know that, whatever happens, I’m part of something that brings genuine joy to millions and, more importantly, that i’ll be making my grandparents proud.” 

ANASTACIA

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Singer, 48 

On nerves: “I never get nervous. I’m going to make sure I can do every dance blindfolded, so when I hit the floor I can enjoy the show. I’m a workhorse – I just came off a 60-date tour – so I can do 24-hour dance sessions.” 

DAISY LOWE

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Model, 27

On avoiding the spray tan: “I don’t think I will [fake tan]. I like being Snow White!” 

WILL YOUNG

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Singer and actor, 37

On the tight outfits: “They look great on the dancers but Karen tells me Bruno [Tonioli, Strictly judge] likes tight clothes. It gets you points. The tighter the clothes, the better it is for you. So we’re getting tight.” 

GREG RUTHERFORD

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Olympic gold medal-winning long jumper, 29

On following his bronze medal in Rio: “I wasn’t happy with my Olympic performance, but I’m here to do as well as I possibly can and if anybody can get us to the final, it’s Natalie!” 

TAMEKA EMPSON

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EastEnders actress, 39

On being competitive: “Me, no… am I? Yes, I want to win!” [Her pro partner Gorka adds: “Will we be in the final? Yes, it shouldn’t be a question.”] 

LOUISE REDKNAPP

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Singer and TV personality, 41

On the costumes: “When I got into costume I said: “I know that as time goes on I might wear something more revealing, but to begin with I’m not confident enough.” I want to do this as tastefully and respectfully as I can. But I’m hoping by the end I’ll be back in my bikini on holiday and shouting: “Have we got any paps around?” I’ve not done that in years.” 

NAGA MUNCHETTY

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BBC newsreader and Breakfast host, 41

On her fears of signing up: “I had a lot of reservations. I’ve got a serious persona on air and it’s important the public trust and respect me. I was concerned they’d see me spinning around in sequins then not take what I’m saying as seriously.” 

DANNY MAC

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Hollyoaks actor, 28

On getting close to his pro partner Oti Mabuse: “I’ve been fortunate to work with lots of beautiful women, so I’m not nervous about getting close and personal with Oti. I want to have that level of attraction, make it intimate. Fortunately my fianceé completely understands because she’s an actress, too [fellow Hollyoaks star Carley Stenson]. 

ORE ODUBA

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BBC Sport Presenter, 29

On his dance experience: “I haven’t stood in the corner at a party since I was ten and scared of girls. I love getting out there and going for it. I’m good at the Russian dance where you crouch down and kick your feet I pulled that one out at my wedding. A lot of dances came out that night… some never to be seen again!” 

LAURA WHITMORE 

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Presenter, 31

On the outfits: “The dresses are quite comfortable – I’m sewn into this one. Every time I need to pee I have to tell someone so they can cut me free and sew me back in.” 

MELVIN ODOOM

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Kiss FM DJ and TV presenter, 36

On his new Strictly pals: “We have the coolest WhatsApp group I’ve ever been in. It’s the most random group of people and everyone’s inviting each other to parties. Ed Balls has a book signing next week and he’s like, “Come down!” I didn’t ever think I’d be rollin’ with Ed Balls but it’s happening.”

According to his pro partner, Janette, Odoom has also built a two-person studio at home: “So he can do homework. That, to me, means he’s in. We can go all the way!” 

CLAUDIA FRAGAPANE 

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Commonwealth champion gymnast, 18

On how gymnastics won’t help her that much: “I’ve been doing the same floor routine for ages, I only change it once every two years, so a different dance every week is going to be pretty crazy. Dancing in heels is also hard.” 

LESLEY JOSEPH

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Actress, 70

On her ideal dance: “I want to waltz to the Birds of a Feather theme tune What I’ll Do. That would just finish me.”

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See Strictly Come Dancing Friday at 9:00pm and Saturday at 6:30pm on BBC1

Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times available in shops from Tuesday 20th September and from Apple Newsstand

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