I thought I was used to pre-show nerves, having been involved in live performance since I was an eight-year-old chorister; but pre-Strictly nerves are something else.
On week one, which now feels so long ago, it was not so much the imminent prospect of performing in a metier for which I have neither experience nor aptitude in front of a crowded studio audience, ten million people at home, four judges, and a company of world champion dancers, that gave me the collywobbles (if you even begin to think about that every joint will lock and muscle spasm).
No, it was the slow ascent to the heavens in the fluffy cloud on which I made my entrance.
Jared and Gareth, cloudwranglers, helped me up onto the platform hidden by giant cotton wool buds, strapped me into my sparkly harness, and up I went, higher and higher, carried aloft by an electric motor and steel cables until I was on a level with the giant strictly glitter ball in the gods.
As I get older, like lots of people, I find I get shakier at height, so I was holding onto my golden harp with grim determination wondering if my Strictly entrance might also be my Strictly exit.
Then Alan “voice-of-Strictly” Dedicoat said, “And now…” the band struck up, the motor whirred, and I realised that as I descended, wobbling like jelly, I had to twang the harp in time to the music and look like I was having the time of my life.
Fortunately at that moment I saw my partner Dianne below, encouragement beaming out of her smile, and suddenly boldness suffused me, and I twanged that harp like Jimi Hendrix his guitar. I hope boldness holds up because at the time of writing I’m in the middle of learning our second number, the American Smooth, which I adore, but it’s fiddly, with a foxtrot and lifts and even a twirl.
By the time this is printed the judges will have marked it: grant us, O merciful Craig, a generous three. Amen.
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- Antiques Roadshow 40th anniversary special – Fiona Bruce celebrates her best moments on the show
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- “Why Doctor Foster sets an awful example for parents” – Professor Tanya Byron talks her main problem with the BBC drama
- An Hour to Catch a Killer with Trevor McDonald – we go behind-the-scenes of ITV’s gripping new documentary
- The best quotes ever from Only Connect’s Victoria Coren Mitchell.