Angela & Kai’s Win Takes Them To Blackpool!

Angela Rippon CBE

With Strictly returning to the home of ballroom this weekend, all eyes will be on former Come Dancing presenter Angela Rippon…

After another captivating dance-off on Sunday, Angela Rippon CBE and Kai Widdrington have made it through to the Strictly Come Dancing Blackpool Special on November 18, beating Krishnan Guru-Murthy and his dance partner Lauren Oakley.

Judges Craig, Motsi and Anton all voted for Angela and Kai, with only head judge Shirley Ballas indicating her vote would have been for Krishnan.

Craig said, “Krishnan you really upped your game in that dance off, it was magnificent. Angela you nearly lost your supporting leg, darling, in the kick but you saved it, miraculously. But the couple that I would like to save and go through to Blackpool is Angela and Kai.”

With the show heading to the iconic Tower Ballroom we can expect even bigger and better performances this weekend on a dancefloor that’s nine times larger than the usual one at Elstree studios. We can’t wait!

Angela On Her Strictly Journey

What made you want to take part in the show this year?

It was a combination of things really… I’ve been involved in dance for a lot of my career, I’m not a dancer but have been associated with it in one way or another. I’m now an ambassador for the Royal Academy of Dance’s Silver Swan programme, which aims to get older people back into dance.

When I did a series called How To Stay Young they did proper scientific based research that found that dance was the best exercise for 50-60 year olds, it’s perfect for all round mind and body exercise to keep you strong and supple. It’s good for balance, stimulates your brain and social activity – it’s a package!

For older people, dance beats those two terrors of old age – isolation and loneliness. You’re never going to be lonely when you go to a dance class.

I love dance and I’ve been promoting dance as a way of keeping strong, fit and agile and balanced, so I suppose I wanted to do the show because of that and to prove that dance can help you, in so many ways, no matter what your age.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge?

When my agent rang me and said, “Angela, they want you to do Strictly” the first thing out of my mouth was “why didn’t they ask me ten years ago?!” I took a long time to decide if I wanted to do it… my brain says fun… my body says “what the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

When it was announced I was doing it I had so many people online saying ‘Cheers for 70-year-old dancers!’

This is a very public way to put my money where my mouth is!

Are there any memorable or standout moments for you, from previous series?

Over the years there are many stand out moments. Kym Marsh’s Argentine Tango was amazing, I thought it was stunning. I know Helen Skelton, so it was lovely to watch her develop through her series. There are some wonderful moments in some of the very early competitions too. I expect that the audience stay because at the start there are 15 outstanding moments, then there are 14 outstanding moments, then there are ten, nine etc until you get to the final. Every year there are outstanding moments for everyone!

Do you have any previous dance experience?

I’m not a dancer, but like a lot of people, I went to dance classes when I was young – I was sent there when I was five until I was 17. I had knock knees, my family doctor gave my mother a choice… I could have built up shoes or I could go to dance classes… fortunately my mother sent me to dance classes! I ended up going to one of the really good ballet schools in Plymouth.

I’ve always been too tall to be a dancer, too tall to be a ballerina. My mother wouldn’t let me go and be a bluebell girl so that was it… I knuckled down to education!

I have been, in one way or another, associated with dance for a long time subsequently. Particularly after I did the Morecombe and Wise sketch. For that, the show producer asked what I could do, could I sing? I said, “no, I would empty the studio in 30 seconds flat… but I can dance a little bit”, but that was the first time I really did any proper dancing in 20 years, and I was 37 at the time. But I’m flexible, and they choreographed what would work for me!

Have you had any advice from anyone who has done the show before?

I’ve spoken to Gloria Hunniford of course, she said she regretted not being able to give as much time rehearsing and practising as she would have liked to, so I’m going to make sure that I do. I have Rip Off Britain of course, but I will do my best.

Helen Skelton sent me some super stuff and Sara Davies said “just go out there and enjoy yourself!”. You know, this isn’t brain surgery, it’s fun!

Do you have your eye on the Glitterball?

It would be lovely to win. But if I’m honest with myself, I think that is probably an ambition too far!

Do you have a signature dance move you always do at parties?

Definitely the Charleston Swivel Steps!

Watch all the fun on BBC One from 6.40pm or on BBC iPlayer.

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Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.