Strictly Come Dancing Blackpool: Bobby Brazier, Nigel Harman and Layton Williams share their excitement about coming to town this weekend
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Ahead of their arrival, celebrity reporter Aimee Seddon spoke to all seven couples to see how they were feeling about making it to Blackpool, hear about their memories of the seaside town, and find out what else they have planned for their trip!
Below we have collected the best from the chats with the last men standing in the competition – actor’s Nigel Harman, 50, whose professional dancing partner is Katya Jones, Bobby Brazier, 20, whose partner is Dianne Buswell and Layton Williams, 28, who is paired with Nikita Kuzmin.
How do the couples feel about making it to Blackpool?
Bobby kicked off the interview by saying “I've never actually been before so to finally be here – dream come true!” to which his partner Dianne, 34, commented “You’re in for a real treat!”
The Eastenders actor, whose mother is the late Jade Goody, then added: “I'm really grateful to be in the top eight, thank Dianne, she’s pulled me up into the top eight.
"You know when you die, you get a seven minute playback of your life apparently, this will be in my seven minute.”
Bad Education and Everybody’s Talking about Jamie star Layton said: “The fact that we've made it to Blackpool and we get to dance there, that's like a massive tick. There’s so much history and nostalgia, I think it's going to be a beautiful moment so it feels like a win getting there – I can’t wait.”
His partner, 25-year-old Nikita from Ukraine, added: “I made it before to what was supposed to be Blackpool but we had Covid unfortunately so yeah, first time in Blackpool, we're really excited."
Nigel and Katja, 34, meanwhile have taken a more jokey approach to celebrating their achievement as for one Blackpool rehearsal this week, they are dressing the other up from the head upwards, so expect some crazy headwear and makeup!
“As a celebration for getting to Blackpool, we’re allowed to make each other look ridiculous!” Nigel said, whilst Katya corrected him “it’s motivational!”
Nigel, of Eastenders, Casualty and Mount Pleasant fame, added: “Blackpool’s a very distant land when you first start this show, and then it’s honing into view and then suddenly, we're here, and that is kind of amazing, it is a hell of an achievement.”
Do any of the celebrities have memories of Blackpool?
Although Bobby is a stranger to the seaside town, Nigel and Layton have graced Blackpool’s stages before and were keen to share their memories.
Bury born Layton, who appeared in Hairspray at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens in 2017, said: “I love Blackpool… Blackpool was like my Florida when I was a kid. We didn't have any coins so from Manchester to Blackpool, it was just an hour or whatever, so we would pop over. The amount of times I've been in a car under them Blackpool Lights, I thought they never got old.”
When Nikita shared memories of himself visiting Blackpool as a child, Layton added: “We're really excited to be there together. It actually does like bring back so many memories of me, from my being a kid, and obviously it's the same for you so there’s nostalgia for us both actually.”
Nigel meanwhile is hoping for a more successful performance in Blackpool this time around, recalling the time he performed ‘Summer Holiday: The Musical’ at the Winter Gardens in 1998 alongside Darren Day and Isla Fisher.
The father of one explained: “We were there for four months but Summer Holiday had been there two years before so the year I was in it, no one came to see it because everyone comes back to Blackpool and they'd already seen it. There was 2000/2500 seats but we had about 250 people in a night… I vividly remember the last number – which was the megamix of the show – was me in hotpants and espadrilles, topless singing Cliff Richards’ songs in front of 250 people – 50 of those with packing up to leave – and thinking hey, how's it going? But I loved Blackpool, I had a really good time in Blackpool.”
When asked what else he got up to in the seaside resort, Nigel said there was a bar with a pool table across the road from the Winter Gardens which they used to frequent, as well as “Betty Legs Diamond’s place” – the iconic Funny Girls on Dickson Road.
Nigel added: “We used to spend our Saturday nights after we’d come out of a pub, siting in the dunes ... I was about 25.”
What do the dancers say about performing in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom?
Despite admitting that the weather is worse and the judges harsher than at Elstree, Katya said: “It’s quite grand, and you feel proper, it’s a proper ballroom venue and all around it is like history, you feel like you're making history whilst dancing there. The first time I performed there I was 12 – me and Luba [Mushtuk], eliminated with actor Adam Thomas in week seven], we've got a photograph there taken together – for the Junior Blackpool Dance Festival. So yeah, a lot of history has been made there and every year Strictly comes there and makes more history – not all of it you want writing in a history book!”
The Russian born star added: "Blackpool is a big deal and big part of my life story actually. I love it with all its flaws and everything it’s got to offer so I’m excited to be here.”
Australian dancer Dianne similarly said: “I love performing in Blackpool, I think because as a little girl all I wanted to do was perform in Blackpool with my dancing and mum would never let me go so my first time dancing in Blackpool was on Strictly. It makes me feel like oh I’ve finally made it when I go there.”
When an amazed Bobby replied “A young ballroom and Latin dancer from the other side of the world, Australia, dreamt of going to Blackpool, that’s interesting”, Dianne added: “I even did my own little fundraisers and everything and never managed to make enough money to go but I always dreamed of it so to go every year, it gives me like a little buzz.”
Looking outside of the ballroom, Dianne commented: “I actually quite like Blackpool because of the feeling and vibe about it, I don't know what it is but there's something about it that I kind of go ‘I quite like it here’ – it reminds me a bit of a movie.”
Nikita said: “Blackpool is the mecca of ballroom dancing. Ever since I joined the show I’ve always wanted to go to Blackpool and dance with my partner, it's just so beautiful.
“In Blackpool, you do have to level up. Whenever you dance there as a competitor, you just have to perform better, you do perform better because it's just so iconic. Even the ceilings, the balconies, everything about it. The carpets even have history on them.
“You have a responsibility, and it's really an honour just to perform there. The moment that they announce your name... and you just see the whole of the Blackpool hall in front of you, it's almost like a goosebump moment, it’s one of the best moments in your career.”
Will the stars be getting up to anything else whilst in Blackpool?
Turning to Nikita, Layton declared: “I'm taking him on the Big Dipper because I can't believe he's not been on here. I'm shuck about that – how can you go there as a child and not go on the Big Dipper?”
Nigel revealed the “one thing [he] really wants to do” is have fish and chips at Harry Ramsden’s. He added: “[It is] the ultimate destination so I'll be spending most of my time in there and everyone's welcome to join!”
Meanwhile, Dianne might have put Bobby off going to Blackpool beach as her warning that “the seagulls are massive!” prompted a stern “oh no” from the Eastenders star!
She did however recommend the arcades which Booby called a “lovely treat” before he expressed a desire to test out all of the rollercoasters – much to Dianne’s dismay, who replied “I’m not one for a ride. We're probably gonna drift in Blackpool, because I will not do those rollercoasters, sorry about that.”
Find out how the stars get on in Blackpool by tuning into Strictly Come Dancing on BBC One at 6:40pm Saturday and 7:20pm Sunday.