Strictly Christmas Special 2019
Christmas Day on BBC One at 4.40pm
It's basically all the perks of Strictly without any of the stresses and worries, which I absolutely love.Gemma Atkinson
What made you want to return to the dancefloor this year?
The fact that very few people get a second chance to do Strictly, and I loved it so much the first time round. I thought why not have another crack at it without all the pressure of being eliminated or the fear of being in the bottom two. It's basically all the perks of Strictly without any of the stresses and worries, which I absolutely love.
Have you carried on dancing since you left the competition? What's your dancing like now?
I've not danced at all, no. People always say to me: "Do you and Gorka dance together at home?" And we've never danced together at all. All I've done since Strictly is have a baby.
What are you most nervous about returning to the ballroom?
My stamina has completely changed, massively. During Strictly, one of the dances I found the hardest and got the lowest score for was the Jive, and that's what we're doing for the Christmas special - so I've been thrown in at the deep end again. It's just something I need to try and get over and enjoy it.
Have you kept in touch with many of your old classmates?
All the pros I see a lot because of Gorka. Debbie I still speak to a lot. Simon Rimmer I see a lot, because he's up in Manchester. Me and Aston chat a lot on Instagram because he's good friends with Gorka as well. We're all in a WhatsApp group and we're all supportive if any of us are doing anything or there's an event then the group gets messaged and we'll all get an invite, which is nice.
What's it like to train with a new dance partner?
It's weird but it's good. You kind of see it all from a new perspective, which is good. Dancing with Aljaž was so amazing. Dancing with Gorka is funny because he's very authoritative in the dance studio, which makes me laugh because at home it's me that wears the trousers! I've never seen Gorka at work so to speak, but he's a fantastic teacher. He's not giving me an easy ride, he's put his foot down for the time we're rehearsing - phone down, shoes on and let's get on with it. He was quite strict with me, which I liked.
Who's your biggest competition?
I'd say everyone! Strictly is one of those things where everyone is good at different dances. On the main show we all said Aston was our main competition, and that he was going to do amazingly. Then he got voted out. So it depends on the specific dance. Because the jive is one of my weakest dances, and you need a lot of stamina which I've not got at the minute, I'd say everyone is my biggest competition, definitely.
Have you been watching the show this year? Who's your money on?
I love Kelvin and I love Chris. They're both great entertainers. Kelvin's physique means he looks like he shouldn't be able to move like he can. I think it's really impressive. And the progression Chris has had from his first dance, which for me is what Strictly is all about. It's great watching the dances, but you want to see someone progress and I think Chris has definitely done that.
How much training have you been able to do?
We've had about six hours and that's it! I'm not winging it obviously, I know the routine, but if it was the main show then I'd be absolutely bricking myself right now and thinking I'm going home this week. Gorka's busy with the main show and we live in Manchester so we've been Face Timing at night and rather than the whole soppy "I miss you", we've been going "right, 5, 6, 7, 8" and trying to do the dancing. It's been quite funny.
What will you be doing on Christmas day?
We're all at my mum's. In the lead up to Christmas we go to Spain and see all the family there. Christmas day - it's a traditional Christmas, all the turkey, all the trimmings, we'll eat too much, put our Christmas hats on and enjoy the Strictly Christmas special.
Name your three dream Strictly Christmas dinner guests…
Gorka would obviously have to be there. I'd probably go with Gorka, Aljaž and Giovanni. The three of them together, the three amigos, are the best company. Individually they're all ace, but put them together and it's like a comedy show! We'd have the Slovenians, the Spanish and the Italians. My brother in law is from Italy so he'd get on with Giovanni.
What does Christmas mean to you?
It means family and fun for me. I love the fact that everyone gets to relax. No one is having to dash off to work or think about anything other than being with their loved ones. Eat, drink and be merry.
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