5 things we learned at a live recording of Strictly Come Dancing

From Claudia Winkleman’s off-camera gags to what the stage really looks like – the experience inside the studio is very different to what you see on the telly

Strictly Come Dancing presenters Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly

Watching a live recording of Strictly Come Dancing requires true stamina. Okay, fine, it’s not quite as intense as doing 50 hours of Paso Doble lessons in heels, from scratch, but still – stamina.


My mother and I were clearly naïve to this when we knocked back a bottle of cava on the train to Elstree Studios. “It’ll be fun!” we said. “It’ll keep us going!” we said. Well, you live and you learn.

Six and a half hours later, we staggered out of the ballroom with mouths drier than the Sahara desert and a medley of Backstreet Boys’ greatest hits ringing in our ears.

Besides a hangover, a lively exchange with Seann Walsh and extremely fond memories – here’s what we gleaned from a night of watching Strictly Come Dancing live… 

Claudia Winkleman is everything

Claudia Winkleman, Strictly (BBC, EH)

“I have wind,” Claudia Winkleman told the Strictly audience the second the cameras stopped rolling. This was the last of a series of revelations from the host, during which she also informed us that she didn’t like her outfit (“Is this dress disgusting? I think it might be disgusting”) and that she was wearing “eight pairs of Spanx”.

When she wasn’t being filmed, Winkleman spent the entire evening hoisting up her Bridget Jones-style underwear and adjusting her designer dress. She’s clearly a natural comic and, we discovered, an over-sharer. A woman after my own heart. 

Mums make up 87% of the audience


Alright, that figure is a slight exaggeration. But there were mums everywhere. I spoke to seven other guests (I know, working the room) and we had all brought our (ecstatic) mothers with us. Just in case anyone’s excitement momentarily lapsed, Strictly’s resident hype man got us all to do a mass singalong of Build Me Up Buttercup, which apparently happens every week.

People queue up from 2am for the best seats in the house

Queue (Getty, EH)

The only people more excited than the mums were the ticket-holders who had queued since 2am (TWO IN THE MORNING) to get the best seats in the house. And they might have been mums, too. Tons of people apply for tickets every year, and only a select few are lucky enough to go – but seats aren’t assigned, it’s first come, first served. 

The dance floor isn’t as big as it looks on TV   

Oti Mabuse, Graeme Swann (BBC, EH)

There is no denying the beauty of the Strictly dance floor, and size doesn’t matter (that much), but it is definitely smaller than it looks on television.

Tess Daly is super-woman

Tess Daly, Strictly (BBC, EH)

Tess Daly’s presenting duties on the dance floor mean she has to run around in skyscraper heels. A lot. From the judging panel to the sweeping staircase to the audience’s seats, Daly is constantly scurrying from place to place, often clutching the hand of a crew member so as to avoid a tumble. Who needs the gym when you’ve got the Strictly studios?


Strictly Come Dancing continues at 6.45pm on Saturday 20th October on BBC1