It’s only a matter of time before we hear the Strictly Come Dancing theme tune and see this year’s line-up take to the dance floor.
The 12th and final contestant was recently confirmed as Labour politician Jacqui Smith, and the show is expected to air this Autumn.
One person who can’t wait to see it all kick off is former contestant Rob Rinder, who competed on the show in 2016.
“I should say Strictly was everything,” he gushed when RadioTimes.com caught up with him for a chat.
“It was an absolute joy, partly and I’ve written about this a lot in my own column, because as a man I was allowed to enjoy it in a different way from the women taking part. I’d show up and often forget my kit and go downstairs to the Sainsbury’s and buy a pair of pyjamas and nobody would comment on my outfit. I could also just delight in it and say, ‘I want to win’ and nobody would care.”
Although the experience was a positive one for Rinder – who came fifth with his professional dance partner Oksana Platero – he does have one regret.
Back in 2017, the TV star made a bold statement about introducing same-sex pairings on Strictly, after comedian Susan Calman was trolled online for dancing with a man despite being openly gay.
Speaking in his column with Radio Times Magazine, he wrote: “Would it be a big step forward for the LGBTQI community if there were same-sex couples on Strictly?” Rinder asks. “Do me a favour! It would not improve the life of anybody to see a Scottish comedian doing jazz hands with another almost-certainly-not-gay woman on TV.
“There are plenty of organisations making a real difference to the lives of gay people around the country that do need our help, so why undermine the wonder of Strictly by politicising it.”
However, he’s since taken back his comments, and couldn’t be happier to see his pal and former boxer Nicola Adams make history as the first celebrity to be part of a same-sex pairing on Strictly.
“I’m thrilled that Nicola is taking part this year. Originally, I made the mistake and it was a big mistake, which I subsequently corrected. I made the mistake saying that I didn’t think same-sex couples would necessarily make a massive social difference, but I’ve totally changed my mind and I’m really excited for her,” he said.
Reflecting on the difference Nicola’s appearance could have on the gay community, he continued: “It may not feel much to some people, but the gay representation is enormously important. Some people may not understand that, but if you grew up and you never had your normal reflected back at you in your living room, where it’s a place of joy – and Strictly is the only programme that galvanises people in that way – [this will impact on you]. And so people sitting round can see Nicola delighting and being judged purely on her dancing.”
He added: “It might be OK for me, but it might just make somebody thinking of coming out in a family that might never have met a gay person, just a little bit safer. I hope she’s going to be amazing, and she’ll be judged for her dancing, but I genuinely think it’s a baby step forward and it’s important.”
So we guess that means he’s backing Nicola to win the 18th series then?
“Oh yeah I’ll be team Nicola!” he said.
“I know Nicola so I’ll be team her anyway. I love Ranvir [Singh] as well because I know she’s gorgeous and of course, Jamie Laing because he’s basically my son. But I sort of change through the course of the series. I’m definitely Team Nicola at the moment!”
May the best dancer win!