Strictly 2018 star Dr Ranj Singh: fitting in dance rehearsals around hospital night shifts has been a struggle

Radio Times' Strictly 2018 columnist reveals all about his incredible first week on Strictly – all while working in A&E...

DR RANJ SINGH (BBC)

Everyone loves Strictly. Kids, grown-ups, even the Prime Minister (apparently) all look forward to seeing the latest bunch of contestants don their sequins and shimmy onto the dance floor.

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As a superfan, I had dreams of maybe one day getting that special call… but dismissed them quicker than one of Donald Trump’s advisers.

Then it actually happened. After screaming in a train toilet as my agent broke the news over the phone (I dread to think what the other passengers thought), the reality started to sink in. How could I possibly do this?

I had already organised the next six months of my life, including starting my new NHS job in a major trauma centre in London as a paediatric emergency medicine physician! But there was no way I could pass this up.

After a couple of weeks of nervous trepidation, I finally got the go-ahead from my bosses. Soon after the public announcement came the filming of intro sequences, trying on of outfits (I asked for extra rhinestones, of course) and the exciting launch show. I was genuinely stoked to be matched with Janette Manrara. The two pocket rockets of Strictly 2018 were ready to launch!

Before I could say paso doble, we were learning cha-cha-cha steps in my local gym. Not only is dance choreography totally out of my comfort zone, but going from six hours of exhausting rehearsals straight into a 13-hour night shift at the hospital has definitely taken it out of me. There have been times when even standing up on my ward rounds has been a struggle, as my legs felt like jelly. And I’ve looked a right plonker trying to practise my steps down the corridors when nobody’s looking.

I can’t describe how electric and simultaneously nauseous I feel about our first live dance together. It’s been a tough start, and I realise it’s only going to get tougher, but I’m so glad I gave my dream a cha-cha chance.

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Strictly Come Dancing continues on BBC1 on Saturdays and Sundays