Until recently, Davood Ghadami wasn’t looking like a strong contender for the Strictly Come Dancing 2017 final. But what a difference a couple of weeks can make.
After an amazing American Smooth and an even more amazing Charleston – for which he scored 35 and 38 respectively – Head Judge Shirley Ballas said that he could well be a contender for the Glitterball trophy.
“I don’t know about that,” Davood laughs when RadioTimes.com catches up with him just as he arrives in Blackpool. “It’s been a really good few weeks for us and we’ve had some good scores, but we all know how that can change easily within one week.
“Nadiya [Bychkova, his professional partner] and I have always looked at this a week at a time,” he continues. “We’ve concentrated entirely on this Paso, and our main aim is to get out there and give as good a performance as I can, but also to come out enjoying it, smiling, and making it unforgettable.”
Davood’s Paso for Blackpool is a James Bond-themed routine – something he describes as “like a dream come true. For any man to pretend to be James Bond in front of an audience – well, it’s a real gift,” he laughs. “I’m stupidly excited to get out there and do this dance. It’s one that I really wanted to do from the very beginning.
“It’s a big and bold dance and we’re in a big old space as well. Being able to do a Paso is just the most wonderful thing.”
As a viewer, it feels as though the past few weeks have seen Davood come into his own and he now seems to be enjoying his Strictly journey more than he perhaps was at the beginning of the series. Would that be a fair comment to make?
“I think it is,” he agrees. “I think it’s easy to say early on, ‘Go out and enjoy it and have fun’. But when you’re out of your comfort zone as much as I am with dancing – or, I should say, I was with dancing – it’s really hard to just let it happen and be free and fun and open.
“Now I certainly feel like I’m falling in love with dancing, which is something I never thought I’d be able to say.”
Despite that, Davood’s Strictly journey hasn’t all been plain sailing. His Rumba in Halloween Week was quite heavily criticised by the judges, while his Samba in Movie Week landed scores of 7 from Shirley, Bruno and Darcey – and a 4 from Craig Revel Horwood.
With many viewers complaining about erratic scoring, does he feel as though he’s been on the receiving end of inconsistent marks?
“Obviously it has been controversial, and I think it probably is every year,” he says. “I’m a bit of a Strictly fan and every year there’s always some discrepancy. Some weeks are worse than others, and the score lines vary so much from week to week. But it’s all part of it. You have to respect the judges’ comments and their scores. And ultimately – and we’ve seen the results of this – it’s the voters at home that make a big difference.”
Over the years, other actors like Tom Chambers and Danny Mac have gone on to star in stage productions following successful stints in Strictly – could Davood go the same way?
“I hadn’t even thought of that,” he smiles. “At the beginning of this whole journey, I didn’t expect to come out of this actually really enjoying the dancing quite as much as I do.
Davood Ghadami and Nadiya Bychkova on Strictly Come Dancing 2017 (BBC Pictures)
“I adore theatre,” he continues. “Having been in EastEnders now for over three years there’s always that urge to get on stage and perform. I’m filling that gap a little bit with Strictly, I guess, but let’s see what comes of it. I’m not sure if anyone will want me!
“I wouldn’t say I’m quite ‘at home’ with dancing, but I’m happy that I know a little bit more of what I’m doing now. So yeah, I’ll see where that leads.”
But for now, his focus is solely on his Paso performance at Blackpool this weekend.
“It’s only in the last couple of weeks that I feel like I’ve got to the point in this competition where I can feel really proud,” he adds. “Whatever happens at the end of this weekend, and whether I go on that Sunday, I’m just happy with where I’ve got to.
“If we go home, and we go home on a high. If we progress, then that’s brilliant. Whatever will be, will be.”
Strictly Come Dancing airs Saturday and Sunday on BBC1