Belfast Telegraph

Gemma Atkinson: Strictly success has inspired broader women to dance

She was warned her “broad, tall” figure may work against her in the competition.

Strictly Come Dancing star Gemma Atkinson was told she would be too muscular to take part in the competition, she has revealed.

The former Hollyoaks actress has proved the doubters wrong as she and partner Aljaz Skorjanec are set to take to the dance floor in the show’s grand finale on Saturday night.

With no previous dance training, Atkinson said she was warned her “broad, tall” figure may work against her in the competition.

“I’m not your usual petite dancer’s physique,” the 33-year-old said during a press conference with fellow finalists Debbie McGee, Joe McFadden and Alexandra Burke, and their professional dance partners.

“Everyone said to me ‘There’s no way you’ll be able to do it because you’re too muscular or too much of a tomboy’.”

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The four finalists (BBC/Guy Levy)

She added she felt “more comfortable in a boxing ring” than on the dance floor and had received comments from armchair experts when she had struggled with some routines.

The ex-soap star said one of her favourite parts of being in the show was inspiring other women into dancing.

“I’d like to think any women who aren’t 5ft and tiny can do it, you can do it being my height and my build, and you can enjoy it,” said Atkinson.

“I’ve loved the fact that women who perhaps do weight training or boxing or don’t like wearing dresses at the weekends and don’t like the spray tans have said to me ‘you know what I’m gonna try and do some dancing because you can do it’.”

“You shouldn’t be fitted into a stereotype because of your build or because of what you naturally gravitate to as your hobby,” she added.

“I, in a million years, never thought I’d have a frock on dancing a Viennese Waltz with Aljaz.”

She revealed Skorjanec had made her “laugh until my stomach hurts” during every single one of their training sessions and the pair have already planned a trip to his native Slovenia for his birthday.

They will perform three times on Saturday including a paso doble to Coldplay’s Viva La Vida and a showdance to Show Me How You Burlesque by Christina Aguilera.

:: Strictly Come Dancing’s grand final airs at 6.30pm on BBC One.

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