Strictly Come Dancing duo JJ Chalmers and his celebrity partner Amy Dowden have spoken about how his injuries caused by a bomb and her Crohn’s disease have meant they’ve bonded even more closely as they prepare for their live debut on Saturday.
Amy told The One Show: “We totally understand each other in so many different ways. The producers walked in the other day and we were talking about having our trips to hospital. We’ve both overcome a lot and we’re quite determined characters to both be where we are today.”
JJ added that his injuries suffered in an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan and her disease, a painful, long-term chronic bowel condition, mean they have a different mindset to others.
“Whenever I hear Amy speak about what she’s had to put up with and how she has driven forward to become the best at what she does you know, it is entirely what I want to do as well, move beyond everything that held me back and I should just look at, you know, the possibilities and that is what the process is about. Doing what you can do rather than what you can’t.”
The explosion blasted holes in JJ’s legs as well as destroying an elbow and fingers. They are injuries that will have an impact on how he dances, not that they’ll be used as any excuse.
Amy said he doesn’t let his injuries hold him back. “If there’s a movement he can’t do he never says he can’t he says he will find a way and we have found our way,” she said.
JJ and Amy also gave insights into the Strictly Come Dancing “bubbles” which mean they can safely rehearse and perform together.
“I’m away from my family up here in Scotland, obviously, and so I leave that family bubble and come down [to London] and Amy lives separately obviously, but neither of us can be with our families so we formed this family bubble.
“She’s the only person who can be within 2m of me, the only person I can give a little touch to.”
JJ said everyone on Strictly was putting in a Herculean effort to make sure the show happened “because people want this and it’s a privilege to be at the heart of it”.
JJ and Amy will be dancing a waltz in the first live show when Strictly Come Dancing premieres on BBC One on Saturday 24th October.
Watch Amy’s BBC documentary Strictly Amy: Crohn’s and Me.