The It Takes Two favourite has been without a place on the main show for two years on the trot, and this autumn will mark his third series as part of the Strictly pro line-up… but that doesn’t guarantee him a chance to compete.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com about whether he’ll be taking to the ballroom with a celeb this year, Neil says: “I still don’t know! Between a few of us we’re still not sure. Of course Brendan [Cole] left, and we didn’t want him to go, but he’s six foot something. I’m a lot smaller than him, so it now all depends on the celebrities. Because Brendan danced with Charlotte [Hawkins] last year and there’s no way I would’ve been able to dance with her because she’s taller than me.
Chloe Hewitt – who has also spent the last two years without a partner – has departed the series along with Brendan, but Strictly has already cast two new professional dancers, Graziano Di Prima and Johannes Radebe, who are “quite tall” according to Neil.
Which means the dancing partnerships will be “all down to which celebrities they’ll be bringing on the show.”
Height is important on Strictly, as it’s taken into account when matching up celebrities with professionals. But no matter what happens this series, Neil is excited about his role on Strictly.
“I’ve been around the show for so long now, if I have a partner – fantastic. If not, it doesn’t matter. You know what, I’m still part of the show so that’s good.”
Neil’s wife and fellow Strictly professional and reigning champion Katya Jones chips in, too, adding: “Neil’s always positive! He says if it happens again that he doesn’t have a partner, he’s told me it’ll give him more time to focus on bringing a new show and choreographing – so whilst I’m every day in the training room, you’ll be preparing our tour!”
“She’s just worried if I get a partner that I’ll beat her,” laughs Neil. So if he had a partner, would he be competitive in wanting to win Strictly this year to double the number of Glitterball trophies in the Jones household? “Oh, 100%!”