It’s a bit early for my dance buddy I think! She is having some Radio 1 tea while we wait to go into Nick Grimshaw’s studio to do an interview about Strictly, plus appear on the humungously popular Happy Hardcore feature, where apparently I just shout “MAD FOR IT” a lot over loud music. Meanwhile I try to revive Karen with caffeinated drinks.
Okay … I think Grimmy’s producer has got my number. She is worried I don’t quite have the hardcore thing, so she has written out phrases that will help. Shout after me:
Oi Oi Let’s Have It! Strictly Crew on BBC Radio 1! Jeremy Vine In The Place! Big Up the Strictly Crew!
This is hilarious, right? When the first caller comes up from Stoke, I shout OI OI LET’S HAVE IT. The voice in my headphones doesn’t really sound like me.
Taken by the Grimster himself, a pic of us doing our Strictly “Thriller” routine in the R1 studio as he plays the record. Michael Jackson released it in 1982. That year, I was 17, and Karen was a newborn baby. Cue Vincent Price laughter …
Meet the runners. If your son or daughter wants to be in broadcasting, this is the place to start: aged 22, on a huge show like Strictly. Tash (left) and Olivia are like engine oil for the production. Their job is to make sure no one gets locked in the loo or misses an appointment with the costume dept. Strangely enough, showing the range of what the Beeb does, the first time I worked with Olivia she was doing the same job on the 2015 General Election in May (in the studio next door). Love these girls! With a career start like this it is not beyond the realms that one of them could run the entire BBC one day. That’s why I try to keep in with them.
It is not just Strictly that has a home here at Elstree. This car must be part of a drama production. Either that or Kristina’s autobiography is selling very well indeed.
On the floor on a Friday morning. Normally I come later on a Fri, because I can’t leave Radio 2 Towers till 2.15, but this week I have a break from my noon show (Vanessa Feltz is standing in). This is a plain-clothes rehearsal for a pro dance on Sunday. Now here’s what fascinates me in this photo. Not the pros going through their steps, but the floor itself. You see a chessboard projected onto the ballroom. It looks like it’s raised, but it’s not there! How is it done? If it’s projected from the ceiling why don’t the shadows from the dancers block the effect? Strictly is at the cutting edge of 21st century stage effects, for sure.
There are three boys left in the contest. I wondered if the programme would acknowledge the rout of males or pretend it wasn’t happening — full credit to Strictly for being honest about it, and even making a feature of it. Here you see Jay, Peter and me — the endangered boys — discussing how to put a spell on the girls using a cauldron. The spell would apparently stop them dancing. We will float about like ghouls and I will touch Jamelia’s neck in a spooky way. This will be a film for the top of the show. The green sheet allows the producers to add a background later; the same technology we use for the election. And I thought Strictly couldn’t get any crazier. Look how serious our faces are; we are so up for this (mad for it, is that the phrase Grimmy would use?).
Nailed it. Hug for Mr Andre. We feel proud because we stayed in character as ghosts throughout. At the end of the video he has to laugh in a totally over-hyped way and I have get a bit dignified and tell him, “That’s a bit over the top, mate, isn’t it?” which made us laugh because every single thing that happens in this building is over the top.
Kellie Bright decided she wanted an early night, and then this happened! A game of “Heads Up,” where you have to guess the word on your forehead from clues shouted by your friends — in this case Oti Mabuse, Joanne Clifton and Katie Derham. Oti knows how to party, that’s for sure. The table was so loud I had to apologise to a family sitting near us, but luckily they gave us a pass based on the fact that their little girl loves Strictly and recognised all the pros. Then the dancers all asked me to “give us some Eggheads questions,” and you can see what happened when I found them here.
Breakfast with Katie. She does a weekly column in the Telegraph and when I read it last night I saw they had inserted this (get ready to blush) survey. Katie and I laugh about it. When we chat about this online in our Strictly Whatsapp group one celeb says, “Katie couldn’t shake them any more, she would have someone’s eye out.” Someone else responds that it would be one of few good ways to lose an eye. Boys, boys! All a bit cheeky. By the way I have no doubt that Katie and Anita, the two best dancers-with-no-previous-experience, can win the Glitterball. Katie’s Viennese Waltz was stupendous and Anita’s Tango was one of the top three dances in the entire competition…
…which gets me thinking over the hotel eggs and bacon: which have been the best dances on Strictly so far? Choosing just four, I am going to go for Jay’s Pulp Fiction jive; Anita’s Temper Trap Tango; Ainsley’s “Don’t You Touch My Tomatoes” with Nat, which made me roar with laughter on the balcony; and Iwan’s breakdance in week one, which gave us the first spectacular moment of the contest, as well as Len saying “I don’t know what that was.”
The clothes rail tells the story — by Halloween the men in this contest are feeling seriously spooked. Just me, Peter and Jay left now. SCREAM!! The rail has mainly dresses on. Wondering if Halloween will change this.
Becoming a zombie with Tara. There are no words. It took an hour and 15 minutes, which was pretty speedy work; some of the other dancers were in the chair for more than two hours. Makeup and costume are doing the most sensational job today, running hot. What’s nice is to sit there in Tara’s chair for all that time and talk about life. She used to be a dancer herself and she modelled for art students at the school one of my kids goes to.
See what I mean? Tonight this must be the most fun rooms in the whole country (I want to shout: JEREMY VINE IN THE PLACE!) Here you can see Jay — in case you can’t, he’s the werewolf; spot the green contact lenses. There’s Helen with the fabulous hair (is it all hers? I want some!); just behind her Pasha, who is having his Frankenstein bolt fitted; and I think behind Pasha you can just see Aljaz and Georgia. Jay has been a werewolf since 10am. All the makeup artists are going off photos from movies and books. They are absolutely lovely.
Then there’s Tom, one of the runners. A keen graduate with a big future, no doubt. But for now he has to fit into the Strictly suit of armour. Costume and hair/makeup are both operating at full speed now, not least because there are TWO extra routines in the show, and one involves all the celebrities. The producers also have to film the pro “Chess” routine and then get the pros back into the Halloween costumes to record the results show which is taped on Saturday for broadcast on Sunday. So Pasha, for example, will have to clean up and then be swiftly re-Frankensteined. In our joint Hellraiser dance (for the start of Saturday’s show), I briefly partner Janette, who is Karen’s best friend. She is hilarious. She always yells “JEREMY!” to get me in place at the right moment.
End of the dress rehearsal. Helen in the hair, up on the balcony with Claudia (to her right). We are allowed to celebrate the crazy scores the judges give us in rehearsal — those “judges” are stand-ins, normally runners, who just throw out a figure. Mind you, Helen and Aljaz are dancing well enough for those tens. Good luck all.
Don’t get tangled up in those cobwebs…