Following my initiation into the world of ballroom dancing, the rest of my world collapsed. I’d been so thrilled to be asked to take part in Strictly that I’d forgotten I’d actually have to learn to dance. On the first day, in among the wonderful pro dancers and my youthful fellow contestants, I’d never felt so ungainly, uncoordinated and, yes… old. I was appalling. I looked and felt like a mad woman fleeing her burning home. I’d made a terrible mistake.
That night I called my husband [businessman Sten Bertelsen] in tears. He told me I was being negative: “You’ve forgotten all the great things.” He was right. There are too many wonderful aspects to Strictly to let fear get in the way.
The class of 2018 bonded immediately. It was as if the gods had brought this eclectic group together, knowing we’d been a family in a past life. I’d assumed that the pros would be serious, with no time for fun. Oh my, how wrong I was. They’re wild! Funny, kind, full of unbridled energy and genuinely excited to be back on the show. I would have been delighted to be paired with any of them, boy or girl, but I had my heart set on Mr Du Beke. He’s the boss and I knew he would take no whingeing.
When Anton announced our first dance was to be the samba, I spat out my tea. It’s fast. Really, really fast. Usain Bolt would have trouble keeping up with Tico Tico sung by Carmen Miranda, the song chosen for us on the first live show. Didn’t the producers witness the carnage of my contribution to the first group dance? I told Anton I couldn’t do it, but the word “can’t” isn’t in his vocabulary.
Wind forward a week and this incredible dance whisperer has got me to a place where I’ve learnt enough not to embarrass myself irreparably… I hope. I’ve got a long way to go, but my home is no longer ablaze.
Strictly Come Dancing continues on BBC1 on Saturdays and Sundays