Despite being a Strictly Come Dancing fan favourite, turns out that professional dancer Kevin Clifton was previously rejected from the BBC1 show. In fact, the reigning champ and four-time runner-up was turned down twice.
Revealing the misstep on the Strictly special documentary The Professionals, Clifton recalled how he struggled to be considered for the contest.
“I had long, black hair, eyeliner, black fingernails… ‘Don’t think that I’m your average ballroom dancer, guys!’” he recalled to fellow professional Aljaž Škorjanec.
“They said, ‘we’d love to take Karen [Clifton, his former wife and fellow dancing professional], but not that guy. We have no need for this gothic scarecrow who thinks he’s the rock star of the ballroom.’
“The next year I went in and auditioned on the same day as [Aljaž] and Jeanette [Manrara] did. You and Jeanette both got the job, I got told no again. I got turned down twice.”
Clifton also revealed that although he was turned down for the competition, he appeared in its trailer. Well, sort of.
“The idea for the trailer was that all these Strictly stars will be dancing with an invisible partner – ‘who’s it gonna be?’” he explained.
“That invisible partner was me. That was me in a morph suit carrying all the Strictly pros about, but I’ve been rubbed out of the trailer. And about two or three days later I got the call to say, ‘oh, we can have you on the show?’.”
Goth life pic.twitter.com/e3iO1zMO2y
— Kevin Clifton (@keviclifton) September 14, 2019
Finally joining Strictly in series 11, Clifton reached the final with partner Susanna Reid. He’s since paired up with celebrities such as Frankie Bridge, Louise Redknapp, Susan Calman and 2018 winner Stacey Dooley.
As revealed on the 2019 launch show, this year Clifton will be partnered with TV presenter Anneka Rice.
Strictly Come Dancing returns 14th September, 7pm, BBC1