Chris Hollins: Strictly celebs take unofficial dance lessons before show starts
The standard of dancing has rocketed since Strictly Come Dancing first arrived on TV screens in 2004.
Former Strictly winner Chris Hollins says celebrities take unofficial dance lessons as soon as they are booked for the show.
The standard on the dancefloor has rocketed since Strictly Come Dancing first arrived on TV screens in 2004.
Presenter Hollins, 46, the underdog when he won with no previous experience in 2009, said that some contestants book themselves in for lessons – not with their dance partners – before training even begins.
He told BBC Breakfast: “The style of the show very much changed and it changed after my year.
“We had a whole lot of people who had never danced before and maybe didn’t make a spectacular show on Saturday.”
He said: “A lot of people now, if you knew that you were going to do Strictly, you’re going to have some lessons, whether it’s a little reminder or maybe just a little taster of what’s to come.
“And most people would say, ‘Well, of course you would’. And there are lots of people who have had lots of experience and that happened even before I took part.”
Breakfast host Naga Munchetty, a contestant on last year’s show, said that she was told dance lessons were not allowed before official training began.
“We were told we couldn’t,” she told Hollins.
Hollins said that he “couldn’t dance”, but added: “The talent that’s out there now, they have to come up with bigger and better dances, whereas Ola (Jordan) my partner was just trying to hide me somewhere.”
He spoke ahead of Saturday night’s BBC1 final which will see Debbie McGee, Alexandra Burke, Joe McFadden and Gemma Atkinson compete for the coveted glitterball.
If McGee, 59, or McFadden, 42, wins, they will be the oldest contestants to lift the trophy, taking the record off Hollins, who was 38 when he was crowned winner.
“It’s a very tight one to predict,” Hollins said.
“I think Joe is a hot favourite because he hasn’t been in the dance-off.”
But he added: “I think it will all come down to the showdance.”