Strictly star Ed Balls has issued a direct challenge to Alan Sugar following his cutting remarks about his Mask-themed Samba last week – let’s have a dance off.
Balls told RadioTimes.com that the Apprentice star should put his dancing shoes where his mouth is following his cutting remarks about his appearance on Strictly Come Dancing.
“If Alan Sugar would like to go head-to-head doing the Samba I’m up,” said Balls of the “fat canary reference” adding: “I think people in glass houses should get dressed in the basement.”
Following his appearance in a yellow canary get-up and green face in last week’s show, Sugar tweeted:
Now it seems that he may have to eat his words and get dancing.
Are you up for it Alan?
Speaking to RadioTimes.com at the Cheltenham Literature Festival Balls said he has been enjoying his time on the show which has already exceeded his expectations.
“I have already stayed in the show longer than I thought I could stay in. I was the favorite to go out in the first week. My first week waltz, I didn’t think I really committed to the performance, but then the Charleston was much better and I think once I had won the public vote in that first week from now on it’s great fun, I hope to stay in but I have got no control over it at all. It’s up to them.”
He added that his wife, MP Yvette Cooper still thinks he should lose more weight, but adds: “I have lost three-quarters-of-a stone so far, but it’s not bad. And there’s more to go. I have just had a chocolate biscuit. In fact I am starving.”
Asked if this was now the happiest he has ever been, he said: “No, because I think I really miss the purpose of politics. I miss making big tangible differences to my constituents’s lives, I miss being a Cabinet Minister. I miss the thing which we did which had a long-term impact on the quality of life of people in Britain.
‘So I am not doing that now. It was different then. When our children were being born and I was in the Treasury and I was a Cabinet minister, they were in different exciting, happy times. So happy is not the right word. I think maybe relaxed is the right word. In a sense I have absolutely no idea what I am going to do next year.”
So he still misses politics?
“Definitely. I miss the politics but I think it’s always bad in life to look back on it. So I am not planning to go back to what I did. Who knows whether an opportunity opens up in the future. If I can do something that has the same responsibility and purpose and tension as being a Cabinet Minister then I would do it like a shot. If someone said to me you can help save the Labour Party I would go and do it like a shot but I am not really sure if that is really going to be for me now, and that’s OK.”
Balls is also delighted that he has received cross-party support for his Strictly run, with former foe George Osborne coming out in support.
“He came to my book launch and he said he thought it would be a brave thing to do and he said he didn’t think he would be brave enough or be able to dance well enough to do likewise but he then texted me a few weeks later to say ‘well done’.
“We knew each other before he was Shadow Chancellor. Sometimes people think in politics people can’t get on but it’s not true. Our relationship was always respectful. We disagreed about important things …but the thing about Strictly Come Dancing is that it transcends politics. And you can enjoy the show and be supportive whether you are Labour, Liberal, Conservative or nothing.
“Theresa May, Michael Gove, Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown are all supporting me and there aren’t many issues where you have that. Unusual coalitions can be formed on Strictly Come Dancing!
“Conservative MPs as well as Labour MPs like the idea that someone is one of them is out there who will change the perception of MPs as a group.
“Gordon Brown is a new fan of the show. I am not sure that he ever watched it before. He texted me saying ‘all the family are loving it’ so that’s nice.”
Speaking about the departure of fellow contestant Will Young, Balls added that all the dancers on the show were sad to see him go.
“Everybody was really really disappointed that he withdrew. But everybody understands that it’s a really really tough, weird environment. And if he’s got things going on which I don’t know about at all then you’ve got to respect that.”
As for his own chances on the show he declined to speculate on how long he would stay in but he added: “Someone said to me that had seen odds on me at 100 to 1 to win and they had put 15 quid on and I said, ‘save your money, save your money!’”
“I am a politician and I know the public decides so I will listen to the message from the ballot box.”
Ed Balls’ memoir Speaking Out: Lessons in Life and Politics is out now