Tess Daly lifts lid on Strictly: celeb pool is getting smaller…and Mark Ramprakash painfully shy

Presenter says sports stars are the most buttoned-up...but refuses to comment on being called a "pneumatic bird-brain" by fellow BBC presenter Michael Buerk

The Strictly Come Dancing celebrity pool is getting smaller co-host Tess Daly has admitted, adding that the show’s creators are surprised the entertainment has lasted as long as it has.


“We never thought it would last this long and I don’t want it ever to end, but the celebrity pool is getting smaller,” she admits in an interview with this week’s Radio Times.

Speaking ahead of the start of the 11th series which airs this Saturday (September 7) Daly also cites the show’s roster of sports stars as being among the most tricky to handle within the format.

“Sports stars are difficult as they’re not used to talking about their feelings,” she said of the former England cricketer who won series four in 2006: “Mark Ramprakash could barely make eye contact, he was so crippled by nerves.”

However she added: “It was wonderful when he found his dancing feet and grew to love it. Then we couldn’t keep him quiet.”

In the interview Daly also addresses the highly personal criticism she received for her part in last year’s Diamond Jubilee coverage which she was involved with.

Fellow BBC presenter Michael Buerk launched perhaps the most blistering attack on her in which he said: “The Dunkirk Little Ships, the most evocative reminders of this country’s bravest hour, were ignored so that a pneumatic bird-brain from Strictly Come Dancing could talk to transvestites in Battersea Park.

“I was so ashamed of the BBC I would have wept if I hadn’t been so angry,” he said, adding: “A succession of airheads preened themselves or gossiped with even more vacuous D-list celebrities. With barely an exception they were cringeingly inept.”

Daly’s friends rounded on Buerk in the immediate aftermath of these comments but she herself refused to respond and continued in a similar vein in her latest interview.

She told Radio Times: “If you’re in the public eye, criticism comes with the territory. I’m confident of my ability to drive a show in on time and do my job well. I like to think I can rise above that.”

The new issue of Radio Times is on sale from Tuesday, priced £1.60