It’s all change on the Strictly Come Dancing tour this year.
While Craig Revel Horwood will still be giving his acerbic comments to the celebs, his cohorts Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli have been replaced.
Craig will now be joined by the winners of the 2008 BBC1 Strictly series, Tom Chambers and Camilla Dallerup, who will all be giving their views on the dance routines by the line-up of celebrities, all bar one from the 2014 series, and their professional dance partners.
The Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour is at the Metro Radio Arena this Wednesday and Thursday and with the demise of Frankie Bridge who is pregnant, the only non 2014 contestant will be S Club 7’s Rachel Stevens, who will be partnered by Kevin Clifton, who danced with Frankie in the series.
He’s looking forward to it. “On the tour everyone dances slightly more freely as no-one is scared of getting kicked off the show. There’s a bit of pressure on the TV as it’s a competition, you don’t want to get kicked out,” he tells me during rehearsals.
“Here it is a bit more of a company feel, like we are putting on a show together as opposed to competing against each other.
“I feel like there’s a little bit of pressure been lifted and everyone dances maybe a little bit better on the tour.
“The big thing is you have a chance, if you didn’t win on the show, which of course is everyone except Caroline (Flack), you have the chance to lift the glitterball.
“There are thousands of people screaming and shouting so if you manage to get a good reaction from everyone that night you are in with a chance. Hopefully you won’t get booed by everyone. I haven’t heard of that happening.
“What you want is to entertain everyone and hopefully everyone enjoys what you do and if you do get to lift the glitterball it becomes an amazing night.”
Celebrities from this year’s series taking part are Simon Webbe from Blue, Radio 1’s Scott Mills, ex rugby star Thom Evans, TV presenter and current champion Caroline Flack, TV and radio personality Mark Wright and TV presenter Alison Hammond, while Strictly favourite Zoe Ball will host.
Since winning the 2008 Strictly series, Tom Chambers has won a prestigious Olivier Award nomination for his performance in the award-winning West End musical Top Hat. “Wow, what an opportunity. Having won the 2008 TV series and performed on the tour with Camilla, I know what it’s like to be on the arena dance floors and take the comments from the judges.
“I can’t wait to get into the famous judging seat and see which of the celebrities wins the competition at each performance,” he says.
Camilla is well known to Strictly fans, having competed in the first six series of the TV show. On her new role as a judge, Camilla adds: “I’m thrilled to have been invited to return to the Strictly Live Tour as a judge. I can’t wait to join Craig and my former dance partner Tom Chambers in arenas from January. I’ll be using my background as a dancer on the TV series to give the contestants help and advice throughout the competition. See you on the dance floor.”
Kevin, meanwhile, has quickly proved a popular pro dancer since joining the series in 2013, when he partnered Susanna Reid.
“This year it is very much the cast of the 2014 show. Usually you have quite a few mixed in from a few other series,” he says. “This time most know each other and are good mates, so I hope that shows in the performances.
“Everyone has a good camaraderie and sparks off each other already. I think it is going to be a great tour and it was a really good cast too as we have all stayed good mates and supported each other all the way through.”
Kevin has settled well into his Strictly role in his two seasons on the show. In 2014 his sister Joanne also joined the TV series as a pro dancer and she too is on the tour.
“The pressure gets harder and harder throughout the series. At the beginning you can’t think past Halloween week and that is week six and the first milestone in the competition. Once you get to Halloween week, Blackpool is on the horizon. That is week eight and everyone wants to get that far,” reflects Kevin.
“Once we made it to Blackpool it was `right now we only have a few weeks to the final and it would be good to make the quarter final’. Then it’s all about the final. Once you make the final you say it’s great to have made it that far but really you want to win.
““For anyone who doesn’t make Blackpool the tour is the first time they experience that bigger setting than the TV studio.
“When they get to the arenas it is awesome. I don’t think my sister realises just how big it is going to be and the noise everyone makes.
“It’s like a rock concert. I love it from doing it last year and it’s one of the best parts of doing Strictly.”
Performances are on Wednesday at 7.30pm and on Thursday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Details on www.metroradioarena.co.uk or tel. 0844 4936666.