The main reason that I signed up for Strictly in the first place was to have fun, so I’m really pleased with how our Cha Cha Cha went last week, especially after a hideous dress-rehearsal on the Saturday afternoon. My professional partner Gorka Márquez’s approach is for me to not get hung up on the little things and to just have a good time. When we finished our dance we were the happiest out of the lot of us. Everyone was really feeling the nerves, but we were on cloud nine.
Of course, it’s hard not to feel the pressure, but this isn’t heart surgery on kids, this is an entertainment TV show, so I’ve always got that in the back of my mind. The whole thing about having to be “more confident” and “more sexy” – well, the fact that I’ve put my hand up to even be in this competition shows a level of self-assurance, I think.
That said, it is horrible when people have to leave. Even Gorka, who has done seven years on the show, said it doesn’t get any easier standing under those red lights waiting for the results. As soon as it came to the Sunday show, and we realised that one of us had to go home, I became really conscious of the voting. And it does make you question yourself – if no one votes for me does that mean no one likes me? It’s a new level of pressure, I suppose, and it’s something I didn’t really think about before I took on this challenge.
I was really proud of Kaye [Adams, who was the first to be eliminated] as like me we are both feeling out of our comfort zones and still putting ourselves out there. I am proud of her for agreeing to do it. Kaye is someone that I really respect. She has amazing life experience, a brilliant perspective on things and is a real good egg. I feel grateful that she’s an ally and we’ve been speaking a lot on the phone since the weekend.
To be honest, we’re all really close as a group and there’s constant banter. I don’t know how Tyler [West] is managing after running the London Marathon at the weekend. We were all very impressed with him, though Gorka was winding Tyler up by saying that he’d only run one marathon, whereas I’ve completed three in one day [the Namibia Ultra Marathon in 2009 as part of a Blue Peter challenge]. It’s nice that he’s constantly being my cheerleader, like a little brother who’s always got your back.
Incredibly, we’re onto Week Three already and it’s Movie Week. I’m dancing to Hopelessly Devoted to You from Grease, which is without a doubt my favourite film. Although, I’ll let you into a little secret with this one – I actually think that Gorka is more excited about being Danny than I am about being Sandy! I love having a cuddle and watching a movie with
my kids, but I can’t really let them watch Grease, because there’s quite a lot of adult content so I have to fast forward through most bits.
It’s such an iconic film though, and Sandy is such an iconic character. Olivia Newton-John, on and off the screen, means a lot to different women at different stages in their lives. Sandy is such a relatable woman – you can watch Grease at any age and identify with what Sandy is feeling.
As many people know, Newton-John was a breast cancer ambassador. Like many families, mine has been touched by breast cancer so it’s really important to do a tribute that is fitting, so I consider this an opportunity and a real privilege to dance to this song. Her character and her campaigning resonates with me on a lot of levels so I’ll find it quite emotional when it comes to performing at the weekend. I’d say that’s probably the thing I’ve struggled the most with on Strictly – having to bare your soul.
Our dance is a Viennese waltz. I thought I’d like the fast dances more but I’m really enjoying the ballroom routines. However, all the spins in this one are hard and the steps are complicated – one foot wrong and you fall over eachother. I don’t usually get dizzy, but we’ll find out for sure on Saturday night!
Helen Skelton was speaking to Rachel Ward; Strictly Come Dancing is on BBC One on Saturday at 6.30pm and Sunday at 7.20pm