Ann Widdecombe has revealed none of her friends wanted her to do Strictly Come Dancing but she relished the lack of responsibility.
The former Tory minister partnered Anton du Beke in 2010's series of the hit BBC ballroom dancing show and said her success and popularity came as a huge surprise.
Ann revealed: "Nobody who was my friend wanted me to do it. They thought: loss of dignity, loss of fan base. They thought it would give the wrong impression and diminish me in the eyes of the public.
"I said, 'Hang on, I'm not an MP any more, it's no good expecting me to behave as an MP'. I thought Strictly would be fun. It was also the best-paid show in town.
"My first sensation when doing Strictly was the absolute loss of responsibility. Until that moment, everything I had done in my whole adult life could have affected other people, from the way I voted in parliament to the policies I espoused as minister.
"Strictly? Other than Anton's shins, what could I affect? Absolutely nothing. It was a huge release."
Ann recalled she had expected to be booted out in the early rounds and couldn't believe how well received she was.
She said: "I wasn't expecting it to last for more than three weeks. If you'd have said to me, you're still going to be there in week 10, then you're going on the live tour, then you're going into pantomime, then you'll be on at the Royal Opera House (in a cameo, non-singing role), all as a result of Strictly, I'd have said, 'Have an aspirin'."
:: Strictly Ann by Ann Widdecombe is published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, priced £20. Available June 13.