Joanne Clifton: “I really want to go back to Strictly”

In her last blog for RadioTimes.com, Joanne talks about living with Katya and Neil in 'Glitterball House' – and why the Strictly final has made her want to return to the show

Strictly jo clifton

I’m so emotional about the whole Strictly Come Dancing final, and I don’t know whether it is because I’m remembering the emotion of winning last year with Ore Oduba but everyone’s just done such a great job and this weekend has made me go ‘Oh my God, I want to go back’. I’ve missed it.

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I’m very happy doing musical theatre and my goal is still musical theatre. Also I’m on tour next year with Flashdance at the same time as Strictly’s on so I can’t go back next year, but I’m now thinking I really want to go back – maybe the year after next? I would just love to go back and do it again!

I am over the moon that Joe McFadden and Katya Jones won. I’m so proud because at the moment I live with Katya and Neil Jones and we’ve now renamed the house Glitterball House because we have the two trophies. We’ve even changed our WhatsApp group name to Glitterball House as well!

Strictly Come Dancing 2017 - TX13 LIVE SHOW

I’ve seen it first hand how Katya was up all hours choreographing. Often I’d wake up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water and she’d still be up at 3am with bags under her eyes, choreographing. She’s worked her bum off and she really deserves it.

Although it’s not sunk in for her yet at all. She’s gone straight off on holiday, she’s sending me messages on WhatsApp going ‘Jo, when are you in the house because I need to sort out when the cleaner’s coming…’ and I’m like ‘Do you understand that you’ve just won Strictly Come Dancing?! You’re talking about the cleaner with me – are you serious?!’ She’s just being so normal. But it will sink in eventually. The same thing happened to me – and I only started watching our dances back six months after winning.

We’ve each got our Glitterballs in our bedrooms but we might now put them together in the living room – that would be fun. We just need Neil to win one now!

Debbie McGee in the Strictly final

Although the finalists were all absolutely brilliant, I think Joe and Katya’s Showdance was the most unexpected. I got goosebumps watching Alexandra Burke’s, though, because she’s an inspiration to me when it comes to performing and musical theatre. Debbie McGee had a beautiful song and concept of being a ballet dancer in a music box. The way that she used her legs and feet to me is amazing and it’s an inspiration. I’d love to be like her when I’m her age.

With Gemma Atkinson, you could see that she was trying so hard and that they’d put right so many things in their other two dances. She’s corrected a lot of stuff from the other dances and I just thought ‘go on, girl!’-  she’s good at the Paso Doble fierce style and getting a character out and I thought it was the perfect Showdance for her. I was so impressed, honestly.

Strictly Come Dancing Grand Final 2017

There has been a lot of inspiration this series as well. Whether it’s people who have surprised us like Susan Calman, or whether they’ve just embraced the whole Strictly experience like Rev. Richard Coles or Brian Conley – or the likes of Jonnie Peacock who just came out and is able to dance all this amazing stuff, Debbie being able to do the splits and everything else at her age. It’s inspiring what you can do. And then you’ve got people like Joe and Gemma who have just come on a journey and you think how they started out and what they have achieved.

The pros have been really adventurous this year, too, pulling out all of the stops and playing to the strengths of the celebrities. 

People have to realise the amount of work that the professionals do. They have to come up with routines quickly and they have to teach a non-ballroom and latin dancer the right technique, the right steps, the right posture and add performance value on top of that in four days. It’s very stressful and it’s non-stop work. I don’t think they get enough credit and I can’t explain enough how impressed I am by them this year.

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Strictly just continues to go from strength to strength and I cannot congratulate the BBC, executive producer Louise Rainbow and the show’s head of choreography Jason Gilkison enough. Yes, I’ve complained a little bit about this series, but actually Strictly is just a brilliant flipping show and after the ups and downs, seeing how happy everyone was in the final just makes the programme what it is. And it’s made me so happy, too!

Joanne Clifton currently stars in Flashdance – The Musical in theatres across the UK. Visit the website for full details of tour venues and dates.