It’s hard to pick your favourite Strictly Come Dancing professional. Everyone has one, but it’s still hard to choose.
But no matter who tops your leaderboard, it’s highly likely there will be at least one Clifton near the top.
Kevin Clifton and wife Karen Clifton, along with his sister Joanne Clifton, have created something of a Strictly dynasty between them over the past five years, swiftly becoming amongst the best-loved pros on the dancefloor.
This summer, the husband and wife duo are embarking on their first ever solo tour, Kevin & Karen Dance. Ahead of their 22-date tour, RadioTimes.com spoke exclusively to the couple about why this project is their “baby”, always narrowly missing out on the Glitterball (poor Kevin) and who they want to see as the next Strictly judge…
As a married couple, can it get quite intense living and working together?
Karen: We’re obviously doing something that we love and we enjoy doing together. I think that’s one of the best things about us – that we absolutely love working together, especially when it’s something that really means something to us that’s very special. We like to call this our little baby. We’ve been dreaming about this moment [their own tour] for a very long time. We’re going to put as much effort and as much love as we have for each other into it.
Kevin: When it comes to our working relationship, we’ve never really had a crossed word. We’re both very passionate about it.
Do you both take your work home with you? Can you often be found dancing around the kitchen together?
Karen: I don’t allow him in the kitchen! [laughs]
Kevin: Karen’s better at switching off than I am. Karen likes to come home from work and finish and switch off, and I find that quite difficult. We’ll be watching TV and I’ll see something that will spark an idea. I’ll start talking about and Karen’s like ‘Just shut up!’
Karen: We do choreograph all of our dances at home where we feel safe and nobody’s putting pressure on us with time, mainly because we’re so relaxed at home that we use our living room as our rehearsal space and our space to create. Even the dog is dancing along with us!
Kevin: We can book a dance studio for a few hours and we go in there and potter around and not sure quite what we want to do, and then we’ll come out at the end of the three hours that we’ve booked with nothing feeling a bit stuck. And then we get home and as soon as we’re home we can do it in 20 minutes.
How does it feel to be doing your first ever tour together?
Karen: It’s one thing that we’ve always had plans to do. It’s a little bit of a dream of ours to do a tour together and it’s something that we’ve been thinking about for a very long time. It’s extremely exciting for us.
Kevin: I think there’s a lot of responsibility because it’s our tour rather than a tour that we’re in, so yeah I suppose there’s a bit of extra responsibility. We really want this to be awesome.
Can you explain a little bit about the concept behind Kevin & Karen Dance?
Kevin: In the end we decided that we wanted to tell our story. It’s kind of a weird thing that we’re together really. Karen’s from Venezuela, I’m from Grimsby and we met in New York. When we got together, I think a lot of people thought that it would probably never work.
“It is insane because we are so different as people but somehow we compliment each other and we get on really well. It’s kind of an odd story that we’re together and we’re an odd couple but we decided that our own show would be the best way to do it. It’s our love story and we went about finding songs that worked with each little segment of our lives.
Are you both definitely coming back to Strictly this year?
Kevin: We don’t know yet. They usually wait for a little bit after Strictly’s finished. I’d love to. If they ask us back then we’d definitely love to do it.
Karen: It varies every year. It’s very late sometimes, actually. You just have to keep your schedule clear.
Kevin: The first time that I did Strictly I found out I had the job about a week before it started. Sometimes it’s been a month or two before and last year they told us really early in the year.
The new Strictly judge will be announced soon. Who would you like to see take Len Goodman’s seat on the show?
Kevin: I think Anton [Du Beke] stepping into the judges’ role would be great, but I don’t know if Anton wants to stop dancing. I don’t know. I think he would be great because he’s from the Strictly family. We’ve got Karen Hardy judging the Strictly tour at the moment – it’s Craig, Len and Karen Hardy and she’s done an amazing job so she would be brilliant at it. One of those two – I mean, that would keep it in the Strictly family. I think sometimes what is good about Strictly is you know what you’re going to get.
“When I was a kid and used to watch things like The Generation Game on a Saturday night and you know exactly what’s going to happen all the time. It’s watching one of your favourite movies – you’ve seen it, and you love it and you sort of know generally what’s going to happen and you know everything’s going to be OK. You know nothing’s going to be changed up on you.
“I think that’s why people carry on liking it and loving it so much. With everything that’s going on in the world right now, Strictly is that bit of comfort blanket that you know what you’re going to get with it. But I think in terms of keeping it as it is, and not making too many major changes and keep it in the family is a good idea.
Kevin, you’ve come second every single year that you’ve been on Strictly, with Susanna Reid, Frankie Bridge, Kellie Bright and Louise Redknapp. Is it something that’s starting to annoy you?
Kevin: Do you know what, I’m really proud of it to be honest – just the fact that I’ve been in the final. Of course I’d love to win one day, but I think being in the final is a massive achievement and for me it really is about the celebrity enjoying themselves and getting something out of it. As long as they feel like they’ve had a good time and that they’ve learnt to dance, then I’m happy.
Tickets for the Kevin and Karen Dance live show are now on sale.