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It’s Strictly come Thornton

SHE has been one of the most recognisable faces on TV over the last few years.

Kate Thornton will be presenting Strictly Come Dancing Live when the hit show’s UK tour comes to Newcastle in the New Year. Daniel Thomson talks to her.

SHE has been one of the most recognisable faces on TV over the last few years.

But after leaving ITV’s ratings juggernaut, The X Factor, few thought presenter Kate Thornton could find a bigger show.

But somehow she has managed it – by jumping ship to Simon Cowell’s main Saturday night rival, BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Kate will be the show’s guest host when it hits the road for a tour of the UK’s arenas in January.

Strictly Come Dancing Live will feature stars from all five series of the hit show, including Zoe Ball, Letitia Dean, Matt Di Angelo, Darren Gough, Christopher Parker, Martin Offiah, Louisa Lytton, and more, and it promises to be a spectacular mix of music, dance and choreography.

So what does it feel like to be taking the reins of the ratings rival to the show that made her famous?

Kate says: “It feels great. I was a fan of Strictly Come Dancing from the very start because, like most of the country, year in year out I become completely absorbed by it.

“I’m very much looking forward to hitting the road with the tour.

“Strictly is the number one Saturday night show, so to be taking part as the guest host is a huge honour. I was thrilled to be asked.”

Strictly Come Dancing has been a ratings sensation for BBC1 since making its debut in 2004.

A fourth series finished in December 2006, attracting an audience of more than 12 million viewers, making it one of the highest rating shows of the year.

The television format, also known as Dancing With The Stars, has been successful around the world, broadcasting in 25 countries from Australia to the Ukraine, and in America where the current series is a ratings winner for ABC.

Kate says she can’t wait to become a part of the hugely successful show and will be bringing her own experience of hosting live events to the dance spectacular.

“I’ve done a few shows in arenas before,” she says. “The most recent being Take That’s Countdown to Midnight on New Year’s Eve 2006, which was an incredible gig to be asked to get involved with and a fantastic way to ring out the old and bring in the new.”

Kate has been watching the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing and was rooting for a couple of celebrities in particular.

“I think Alesha Dixon was a revelation and I thought it was such a shame to see Kelly Brook depart from the show – although her decision to go was completely understandable – but I really enjoyed watching her dance and thought she and Alesha in the final would have been incredible.”

One show Kate has not been watching this year is The X Factor – after Dermot O’Leary controversially replaced her as presenter.

She says: “I haven’t watched it this year, but when Dermot got the job I wished him well and still do.”

A former editor of Smash Hits magazine, Kate became internationally famous as a TV presenter when she was chosen to host The X Factor in 2004.

After leaving the show before the latest series, she quickly bounced back by presenting Red Nose Day 2007: The Big One and also recently co-hosted The Royal Variety Performance.

“The Royal Variety Performance was a dream come true and I loved every minute of it,” she says.

Strictly Come Dancing Live will stick to the tried and tested formula of the BBC show, including verdicts after each performance from judges Len Goodman, Arlene Philips and Craig Revel Horwood.

Celebrities will also be paired up with series regulars such as Darren Bennett, Flavia Cacace, Matthew Cutler, Nicole Cutler, Camilla Dallerup, Lilia Kopylova, Vincent Simone and Ian Waite, who are amongst the world’s leading professional dancers.

Kate lists dancing as one of her interests, so is there any chance of the presenter ditching her microphone and taking to the floor herself?

“I have danced in the past,” she says.

“As a teenager I used to teach kids Ballroom and Latin American, but I’m strictly a presenter these days.”

Strictly Come Dancing Live will be at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on January 21, 22, and 23. Tickets are £45, £40 and £32.50. Tel: (0844) 493-6666.

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