The morning after Hillary Clinton’s shocking defeat I woke up and took those usual sleepy few seconds to remember why everything felt so awful. Of course, good grief, Donald Trump.
For a moment, I sat in the kitchen thinking, “Should I really be spending the day learning the salsa, let alone Gangnam Style?” But then I looked at my phone and saw dozens of people on Twitter telling me it was only the prospect of seeing that dance on Saturday that was cheering them up.
It brought something home to me. We’ve just had the most polarised, poisonous American election in my lifetime. We’ve had similar tension here at home over Brexit.
This year, people on both sides of the Atlantic have too often been at each other’s throats. We all need to remember that there is so much more that brings us together than drives us apart. And in a small but important way, Strictly does just that.
For a start, the competitors reflect our society: we’re different ages, colours, sexualities, from different backgrounds, and no one cares what religion we are, or which party we support. What we share is a love of dancing, music, laughter and entertainment, which transcends every barrier.
So no matter how sad or fearful I felt about what had happened in America, I thought, “Go and do your bit in cheering people up and bringing them together.”
Blackpool with Katya was a nostalgic return to a seafront I love, a town where I have spent so many long days at Labour and trade union conferences. Dancing there was a dream come true for me, something I never thought was possible at the start of the series.
It was an honour; I hope I did Katya and the viewers at home proud.
It’s a long way from the Blackpool Tower to Trump Tower, but Donald could learn a thing or two by watching Strictly – not just about dance, but about what really makes a country great.