Dawson: Dancing comes before birth
Strictly Come Dancing contestant Ashley Taylor Dawson has said he may have to miss the birth of his child - because it could clash with the first live show.
The Hollyoaks actor, who will be seen taking to the floor in the launch programme for the BBC One dance series tonight (September 7), is to become a father for the second time later this month.
But the due date is just two days before the live shows begin on September 28. Ashley said he did not want to miss the start of the competition and may have to perform a quickstep to be at his fiancee's side shortly after the birth if the two were to coincide.
He said: "I've got a baby due on the 26th, I'm full time at work. We'll work it out as we go along but I don't want to miss the first show, I know that much. I don't want to be worst father of the year either.
"I think I'd dance really quickly and get back to the birth," he said.
Ashley, who already has a two-year-old son with partner Karen McKay, said he had been pondering what to do for a while.
"From the beginning we've thought about this - I assumed contractually I'd be here and if you're here, you're here so I don't know. I work with the producers here and my producer and see how it happens, but fingers crossed it comes early or late, or just not on the night."
He is among 15 contestants who are taking part in this year's show, who also include BBC Breakfast presenter Susanna Reid, singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Countdown maths boffin Rachel Riley.
Bookmaker William Hill has placed Coronation Street actress Natalie Gumede as favourite to win this year's competition, with Riley the second most fancied.
Strictly's launch will go head to head with ITV rival The X Factor and bookies say the dance competition is favourite to win the battle for the biggest audience.