In a shocking (and as yet unexplained) twist, Jonny Labey’s EastEnders character Paul Coker has just been killed off – and it seems his exit could well be perfect timing for him to join Strictly Come Dancing 2016.
Labey’s proven popular in the long-running BBC1 soap but while he’s a well-liked actor, he’s actually a dancer by trade.
Labey graduated from the Bird College of Dance in 2014 and boasts skills in jazz, tap, ballet, commercial and contemporary dance (to name a few) as well as being an experienced gymnast, stilt walker, juggler, ice skater and martial artist.
Sure, if he were to be added to the line-up, his background may well cause a few grumbles. But Strictly’s cast always boasts a range of experience. Last year’s winner, singer Jay McGuiness, earned his fair share of criticism for his past dance training, yet still proved to be a popular winner.
Famous faces from the world of soap are common on the show, too. Including those from Enders. Last year, Kellie Bright juggled ballroom duties with those at the Queen Vic. In 2006, Louisa Lytton did a Tango or two after leaving Albert Square. In 2010, Kara Tointon won the Glitterball Trophy. And in 2014, Jake “snake hips” Wood reached the semi-final.
And, lest we forget, Labey’s already shown off his fancy footwork on Children In Need when the cast did ‘EastEnders does Top Cat’. I’m no Strictly judge – or indeed Len Goodman – but he gets a ‘ten from Em’.
Labey’s agent declined to comment on the speculation, but did confirm he comes “from a very dance background”.
We’ll have to wait for any developments though, as Labey’s off to Edinburgh next month to lead the cast of Verge of Strife, a play following the story of WWI poet Rupert Brooke.
Other names rumoured for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing series include presenter Ruth Langsford and twin doctors/presenters Chris and Xand Van Tulleken.
Strictly Come Dancing returns to the BBC later this year