Strictly stars ready for Ballroom blitz

Strictly Come Dancing at Blackpool Tower Ballroom'Anton du Beke and Fiona Fullerton
Strictly Come Dancing at Blackpool Tower Ballroom'Anton du Beke and Fiona Fullerton
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Thousands of sequins, hundreds of dance steps, 14 professional dancers, nine celebrities and the one and only Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

Television’s biggest show, Strictly Come Dancing, has landed in Blackpool, filling the Tower with its glitz and glamour.

Ahead of a long day of rehearsals the celebrity dancers told The Gazette just how excited they are to be dancing in the mecca of ballroom tonight.

“It’s going to be really special,” said singer Sophie Ellis Bextor, who’s been excitedly Googling information about Blackpool between gruelling rehearsals with partner Brendan Cole for their quickstep.

The duo took to the sprung dancefloor for rehearsals yesterday, leaving the mum-of-three exhausted after three successive run throughs of the energetic routine.

She added: “I’m super excited. The room is beautiful.”

Coronation Street actress Natalie Gumede, who had to sit out last week’s show after fainting twice during rehearsals, said: “I’m really excited to be in Blackpool, especially after everything that happened.”

The celebs have been hearing about the allure of the ballroom from the professional partners all week.

And the show’s four judges, Len Goodman, Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Darcey Bussell are equally gushing about the opportunity to dance in Blackpool.

Bruno said: “Blackpool has such a mystique – it is the temple of ballroom.

“It’s where the world championship is held. It is incredible, beautiful, stunning.

“There are very few places that have that allure. It creates a sense of event that permeates the performance.”

BBC Breakfast presenter Susanna Reid visited the resort with dancing partner Kevin Clifton earlier in the week. She said: “Kevin is a like a stick of rock with ballroom dancing all through him.

“He took me to the Ballroom and put his hands over my eyes and said the first time you see it just drink it in and breathe it in because it’s an amazing thing.”

It’s the “greatest ballroom in the world” according to professional Anton du Beke.

His dancing partner, former Bond girl Fiona Fullerton, added: “It’s surreal to think that I’m still in [the show] and not only that, I’m in Blackpool in the Ballroom.”

Dancing under the bright lights of the set is a far cry from model Abbey Clancy’s usual Fylde coast past time, when she’d visit to watch her younger brother Sean play for Fleetwood Town.

She said: “Being in Blackpool is incredible, I never thought in my life I’d be dancing in Blackpool Tower.”

Patrick Robinson, the Holby City actor, is looking forward to performing again Blackpool having played shows at the Grand Theatre in the past.

He added: “Everyone was saying you’ve got to get Blackpool and see the ballroom, it’s like the Wembley of ballroom dancing.”