To a sensitive issue: my choice of dancing pants. Americans, look away now: By “pants” I do not mean trousers, like you do. I mean underpants. It turns out there is a rule of dancing, a rule never explained to me by the Strictly producers when they were persuading me to take part: you’ve got to wear good pants.
A lot of mine are baggy boxers bought ten years ago. They have rips in inconvenient places, they are faded blues and greys, and they do that uncontrollable thing that bad man- pants do of ballooning over the top of your jeans. But that doesn’t matter much when most of your life you can hide any escaping pant-material below the desk at Radio 2.
All of this has changed. I now squeeze into my top hat and tails, or sequinned shirt and leggings, in front of a phalanx of costume designers who are arranged in front of me like Manchester City’s midfield and watch me dress to know what they need to adjust. They stitch me up as tight as a kipper and sometimes actually reach towards me with a needle and thread to sew clothes onto my body.
This means undergarments have to be skintight. More importantly, I must get used to stripping in front of strangers, many of them female – which was never required when I presented Newsnight. “You can’t wear anything that catches the air and balloons,” said my wise-owl pro partner Karen Clifton, or, as I call her, the Divine Being.
I currently spend at least five hours a day locked in a room with the DB. When I first hid behind a pillar to whip off my denims and pull on tracksuit bottoms for dance practice, I could tell from her desperate glance at the fire exit that she’d caught sight of the offending underwear. She soon gave it to me direct.
“Now that you have become a Latin dancer, Jeremy, you have to think sexy, manly and attractive – and you get that by wearing smaller pants. Briefs, not boxers, please! Channel David Beckham when we’re dancing!”
I went home and rifled through some drawers. There at the back I found a pair. My baggy boxers would have fitted a retired racehorse; these are brief enough for an active whippet. There is only one problem. They say MERRY CHRISTMAS across the bum.
Come to think of it, maybe that’s an omen. Strictly ends in the run-up to Christmas, doesn’t it? If I get that far, I now have a stunning idea for my final dance.