I like comedy. I can’t stop watching Blackadder repeats because the writing is so good. And The Golden Girls. Bea Arthur is a genius. Those shows haven’t lost their sharpness at all.
Do you ever watch Strictly Come Dancing?
I’ve been doing it for 14 years and I never watched a single show because I don’t want to become self-conscious. But we recently made a DVD of all the best dances from Blackpool – that was the first time I watched something back.
Do you see a big difference between British and American television?
No, when you go on Netflix there’s all the British shows like The Night Manager and Broadchurch. There was a brilliant Spanish show called The Plague on BBC4 recently. We’ve become so global.
You are currently a judge on Dancing with the Stars as well as Strictly. How do you cope with commuting between Los Angeles and London every week?
I don’t go out for two months. I stay home in the evenings, I go to the gym and stay fit. It’s like being a nun. By the end I’m exhausted. Never mind Lady Gaga, it’s Bruno Gaga. But I’m very lucky and I will do it for as long as I can and as long as they want me.
How is Len Goodman – do you tell him all the Strictly gossip?
No, there’s no time! We’re doing a job. We’re not just sitting around having a cup of tea, you know! It’s not a holiday.
Does Strictly’s head judge Shirley Ballas ever tell you off for being so flamboyant? You’ve nearly hit her in the face a few times…
Oh Shirley has very good timing, she knows to duck down as soon as she sees me getting excited.
Tell me about your Radio 2 show Bruno Tonioli at the Opera
We did one last year that went down very well and this is the second series. Being Italian, I love opera: the passion, the beauty of the music – it’s magical. The series is very light-hearted with everyday language to draw you in. We’re not talking down to people.
Have you always loved opera?
Yes. I’m from the Emilia-Romagna region, where Giuseppe Verdi was born, so it’s something you’re aware of from a young age. At school we were taught Va, Pensiero, the very famous aria from the opera Nabucco. It’s part of my DNA. I’m not an expert, I’m a member of the public who loves it.
People think of opera as being posh and difficult, don’t they?
Yes, but it’s not any more. We should not feel intimidated. It’s a great art form that should not be forgotten. And in fact in the 19th century operas were very popular and they’d be performed in the street – the equivalent of watching an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical now.
How does opera make you feel?
If I like it, I cry. Floods of tears; it’s embarrassing. Or sometimes I don’t like it and I get furious. But that’s my nature. I’m passionate.
Bruno Tonioli at the Opera begins on Tuesday 6th November at 9pm on BBC Radio 2
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