Entertainment & Arts

Strictly: Judy Murray swaps tennis balls for glitter balls

Judy Murray
Image caption Tennis coach Judy Murray is a long-term Strictly fan

Having spent years watching her son, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, on Centre Court, Judy Murray is looking forward to being centre stage on the 12th series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Murray, who qualified as a tennis coach aged 17, has been a fan of Strictly for years and hopes her sporting experience might be an advantage when it comes to learning the weekly dance routines.

"I know how to train as a player and as a coach, so I know about repetition being the mother of skill," she says, during a break in rehearsals at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire.

She admits she was "spectacularly bad" on the first two days of training, so she bought the CD of the song and practised on her own. "I got my high heels on and danced to my heart's content on the wooden floor in my kitchen."

Murray, who is also the mother of Wimbledon Mixed Doubles champion Jamie, was once ranked the eighth best female player in the UK.

"When I told the boys I might do Strictly, Jamie said: 'Oh mum, you love that show' and Andy said: 'You'll be absolutely terrible!'"

But she hopes that Andy - winner of Wimbledon men's singles title in 2013 - will make an appearance in the Strictly studio to support her.

"He'll come if he's able to. I can see him taking a seat in the back row and slowly sliding underneath the chairs. It's payback time."

'Calves in crisis'

As in previous years, this year's Strictly line-up will see stage school alumni rubbing sequined shoulders with absolute beginners.

Among the novices is the Bargain Hunt host Tim Wonnacott who admits he has "zero" dancing experience.

"I don't know how to do the Salsa. I don't know how to do any of them. I thought the Paso Doble was a double portion of something in an Italian restaurant."

Image caption Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly are co-hosting the 12th series of Strictly
Image copyright PA
Image caption Strictly judges (from left) Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman, Darcey Bussell and Craig Revel Horwood will return for the 12th series

The antiques expert, who says that his "calves are in crisis", also sought tips from former contestant Gabby Logan, who told him: "You're not considered to be a proper Strictly dancer unless you've got bleeding feet".

BBC Radio 1's Scott Mills is another first-timer. "I cannot dance, so I'm going to do the maximum training I'm allowed. I'll go in the morning, do my radio show and then train again in the evening. I've been aching in places I've never ached before."

By contrast, pop star Pixie Lott trained in dance at stage school and is also the bookies' favourite. "I don't think you can pay attention to that because you never know what's going to happen," she says. "I'm just going to have fun and enjoy myself."

Tess Daly will return to host of the show alongside Claudia Winkleman, after Sir Bruce Forsyth stepped down in April.

For the first time Strictly will go head to head with the X Factor as both programmes will have broadcasts scheduled at 8pm on Sundays.

As last year, the 15 celebrities will have their dancing efforts judged by Len Goodman, Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood.

Simon Webbe, from boy band Blue, says he's good at handling criticism. "I take it and I turn it into a positive. No-one's perfect and if someone's trying to help you, you take it on the chin and you go with it."

Alison Hammond, This Morning's showbiz reporter and a Big Brother contestant in 2002, says: "The criticism is part of Strictly - you've got to have a thick skin. I think I'll be all right."

Image caption Alison Hammond was a contestant on Big Brother 3 in 2002
Image caption Masterchef judge Gregg Wallace is removing some tattoos before he goes on the dancefloor

MasterChef's Gregg Wallace says the irony is not lost on him that he's going from being a judge on one show and to being judged on another.

"I love dancing. I'm always the one trying to get my mate's gran up on the floor. But I didn't realise how dissimilar proper dancing is. It's as different as paddling is to swimming the channel."

Wallace confirms he is having some tattoos removed ahead of Strictly. But, contrary to some reports, the Millwall FC tattoo on his chest is still in place.

"I'm very attached to my Millwall Lion," he says.

The other celebrity dancers are TV presenter Caroline Flack, Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge, EastEnders actor Jake Wood, Mrs Brown's Boys actress Jennifer Gibney, The Only Way is Essex and TV Presenter Mark Wright, naturalist and presenter Steve Backshall, Casualty actress Sunetra Sarker, and ex-rugby player Thom Evans.

The celebrities' professional dancing partners will be revealed in the BBC One launch show on Sunday at 2000.

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