By: Emma Bullimore
It’s sad for Strictly Come Dancing fans, but nobody is really surprised that Zoe Ball is stepping down as the host of sister show It Takes Two.
I remember interviewing Zoe when she first got the job. She told me she’d got the call from her agent while eating chips outside a Paul Simon gig, and she couldn’t believe her luck. It was the perfect opportunity at the ideal time, and it propelled Zoe into an exciting new phase of her career.
When I met her on set, she showed me her racks of sequinned jumpers and glam shoes she’d spent months gathering, like a Strictly magpie – she was starting her dream gig and was positively fizzing with excitement.
Spin forward a decade, and while Zoe’s enthusiasm for the show is still abundant, her career is very different. The first woman to host the Radio 2 breakfast show, she’s hot property and her early wake up calls are exhausting.
There’s no need for her to be hosting a BBC Two spin-off show, fun as it might be – if anything she should be fronting the main event on a Saturday night. Splitting ITT hosting duties with Rylan Clark-Neal showed how much she wanted to stay, but ultimately it was untenable.
So, what now for It Takes Two?
It’s easy to forget that it was Claudia Winkleman who launched It Takes Two originally, and created the blueprint. She elevated what could have been another hastily-compiled companion show and turned it into a must-watch, personality-filled event. Always providing juicy titbits, but never straying into nasty gossip. Cosy and fun, but never twee or try-hard.
Zoe kept that tone going, and brought the added bonus of being a former contestant, who could empathise with the celebs as they complained about sore feet and Craig Revel Horwood.
So, who will take over now? Here’s who could be in line for the big job.
The easy thing to do would be to give the show to Rylan – he already splits presenting duties with Zoe anyway, and has proved a brilliant, relaxed host. But something tells us he might not find the time: he’ll wax lyrical about his deep love of Big Brother in a way he doesn’t talk about Strictly, and remember he’s also juggling lots of his own projects. Ultimately, he may have the same scheduling issues as Zoe does.
Super-sub and former contestant Gethin is always waiting in the wings. If Zoe or Rylan is off sick, he’s the first person the producers call, and he has a great relationship with all the professional dancers and judges. Plus, the ITT audience knows him very well and trusts him to deliver all the behind-the-scenes gossip. Could Gethin be due a promotion?
Surely Stacey is under consideration for this role? Not only is she a former Strictly champion, she’s also no stranger to interviewing people, both in her hard-hitting documentaries and on more fun shows like This is My House. She’s part of the Strictly family and seems an obvious choice.
Many Strictly fans feel Clara left the competition too early last year, dancing with Aljaz. Perhaps her vindication could come with a presenting role on It Takes Two? She has tonnes of presenting experience at Radio 1 and beyond, and is likely to be high up the BBC’s wish list.
Anton Du Beke
It’s no secret that Anton loved his stint on the Strictly judging panel, and isn’t averse to the odd bit of presenting (remember the silver unitards of Hole in the Wall? Genius). Although he has already been announced as part of this year’s professional dancer line-up, there would still be time to switch his role.
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Thinking back over Strictly champions with presenting experience, Ore Oduba would be a great choice to host. He has presented the Strictly tour and he knows everyone behind the scenes – surely it would be a wonderful fit?
Strictly is forever in pursuit of a younger audience, and its most successful influencer contestant to date has to be Joe Sugg. He not only won over the heartland demographic, but also started a long-term relationship with pro dancer Dianne Buswell. Could he be ready for a big presenting gig like this?
Miranda Hart and Mel Giedroyc
ITT fans will know that two of the most popular members of the celebrity Friday panel are Strictly superfans Miranda Hart and Mel Giedroyc. It’s an outside bet, but wouldn’t they be a great double act to host the series? Let’s start the campaign now…