My Strictly Diary:
When my journey ends,
I will miss Karen the most

Thursday 1810 thurs 18102

Meeting Karen in the “It Takes Two” studio. Hope she doesn’t mind me saying that, when my Strictly journey ends, it is my dance teacher & friend that I will miss the most. Her former partner Dave Myers said you feel so jealous when the next season starts and you see her paired with another, and I can imagine that. But that’s looking too far ahead. With your votes we have stayed in so far.

Friday 1620 Friday 1620

First job at Elstree? To meet the CBeebies dog-star Hacker. We are interviewed by him in the most spectacular and hilarious way. Credit to our brilliant press person Debra Clavey who decided we can go off-piste at times! (Debra is just above the selfie-phone, left of Karen’s shoulder). It makes it all so much more fun. Karen wants to take Hacker home…
PS That stick you see protruding from Hacker’s left paw is just a fault on the photo and the top of the man’s head just below it, well that is NOT a puppeteer, just a friend of Hacker who likes sitting on the floor.

Friday 1645 Fri 1645

Absolutely love these two. The heart and soul of Strictly is the wardrobe dept run by Vicky Gill. If I was the entrepreneurial sort I would set up a therapy centre where stressed-out people could be dressed in period clothes by happy people. Specifically, by Megs (right) and Esra (big shout out to her mum Nancy who apparently reads these blogs). Lovely daughter you gave us Nancy!

Friday 1650 Friday 1650

Full costume. They call it “tails,” which to me means Fred Astaire with a white tie on – shows how little I know. The tails in question will be the long (fork-backed) grey jacket which I put on last. By the way, best wishes to Esra on the forthcoming birth of her first child, making Nancy a granny. She is working on Strictly up to the last minute, which I think will mean the little one is born to perform.

Friday 1701 Fri 1701

Carol and Katie look like they’re having some fun.

Friday 1722 Friday 1722

Count the lights! They are being readied for Jay’s quickstep. When every light is switched on and controlled, they do look (like Jay) quite awesome. I am wondering if Strictly is 50% lighting. In normal light the studio looks incredibly ordinary. But like this, BOOM.

Friday 2034 Friday 2034

Dinner. Once again the Village Hotel do a great spread for us. I take this photo of my friends and wonder – am I looking at the Strictly final? I have had a sneak look at Anita’s Tango (that’s not as rude as it sounds) and she will totally storm it tomorrow with Gleb. It makes me think of the best dances I have seen on the series so far: obviously Jay’s Pulp Fiction, then Ainsley and Nat’s “Don’t Touch My Tomatoes,” probably Iwan’s breakdance,  and Kellie’s Charleston with the light sabres. There are more, but off the top of my head those are the ones I’d choose.

Friday 2210 friday 2210

Bedtime reading is the Elvis Costello autobiography as I am interviewing him next week. For those unfamiliar with this great artist, I suggest buying his second album “This Year’s Model” (the year being 1978) and playing it at least 15 times. Every track is like a network of tunnels you never reach the end of, and the complexities they express are unpacked at long last in the book. I underlined “secondary modern” here because that is the title of one of his songs. It begins with the profoundly moving line: “This must be the place; second place in the human race.” Elvis is a complicated creature. He does not do happy-clappy. So the song “She,” to which Karen and I dance tomorrow, is not like 99% of his other work. People who know Elvis through “She” have been badly led astray! To bed.

Saturday 0925 Sat 0924

Breakfast with Kellie Bright (just wait for her jive!) and now, in front of the hotel waiting for my cab, more Elvis. On p64 he describes how he wrote “New Lace Sleeves” in 1980. It’s the first time I have heard his explanation of this very complicated song: “I am drawing a contrast between being captured and being civilised,” he writes. The classic line, “Bad lovers face-to-face in the morning/With shy apologies and polite regrets” might have been written when he was only twenty. The beautiful opener to verse 3, “The salty lips of the socialite sisters/With their continental fingers that have/Never seen working blisters” came from looking at a photo in Country Life in a dentist’s waiting room. I know I sound like such a fanboy, but I love hearing this backstory. Tomorrow they have a short film before our dance where Elvis wishes me well. A total surprise when they showed it to me on Tuesday.

Saturday 1032 Sat 1035

My first sight in the famed wardrobe dept is this beautiful dress…next to a dustbin. Maybe it’s the journalist in me that had to frame the photo with the dustbin, because Strictly combines the glamour and the gladness with, um, a little of the waste disposal unit. You can wear the best dress in the world, but if you can’t dance, you and the dress will be collected by the council dustcart on Sunday morning.

Saturday 1056 Sat 1056

Ah, my name on something! But wait – they call it the “Vine booth” because you record 6-second bursts of video in it (the app, coincidentally, is called Vine). So are they saying my Strictly journey is only six seconds long? Does that sellotape look a bit, well, temporary? (Can you see how paranoid a wannabe dancer can gets?!)

Saturday 1315 Sat 1315

Lunch. And we are always midway between relaxed and dance-minded. Here the graceful Anita Rani (in tango outfit) gets a helping hand from Megs while Gleb and Kristina, the Russians, look on. The food is chicken and sweetcorn by the way…

Saturday 1323 Sat 1323

…and I have just noticed that Ainsley is the relief server behind the counter! So you can get your food served by one of the great chefs. He and I are always talking about what a surreal experience this show is – and Ainsley is one of the most grounded people I have ever met. Being served is Matt, who chooses the music track for each dance.

Saturday 1405 Sat 1405

You might recognise the fastidious hand of Francis, the dresser. He doesn’t want the shirt to ruckle between the braces so he is sewing it in place with thread through the shirt as well as the brace (look carefully in the white of the brace and you see he has actually chosen the right shade of red thread too). Having clothes sewn onto my body is (a) thrilling, and (b) inconvenient if you want to go to the loo. Later, I am told this grey/red combo doesn’t look good on me because the set is partly grey, so they switch with classic white tie and black tails and change Karen’s dress as well. All the sewing is snipped by scissors, in a second.

Saturday 1516 Sat 1516

Want to know where the “brain” of Strictly is? If the costume dept is the heart, this is the room that controls all the limbs and vital functions. The director Liz sits here calling in camera shots and angles. You can see from the monitors how many cameras there are. And it’s live — so she only gets one chance! Okay, are we ready for the show? Put those butterflies away!

Saturday 1919 unnamed

I found the waltz difficult, in truth, because you feel a little locked-in which makes it hard to express yourself. You get over-focussed on the steps and that is constraining. But if the Strictly journey ends for me, this is the photo I want to keep. Because I hope it shows the genuine and sincere admiration I feel for my dance buddy. And they were right about the tails, weren’t they?

Jeremy Vine official website

28 Comments

  • Jackie says:

    Awww lovely words. I’m glad your loving every minute of your strictly experience. Being a fan of your daily show. I have enjoyed watching you. You have had a fantastic positive attitude. Good for you.
    xx

  • Gemma says:

    People like you are what makes Strictly so watchable. I hated listening to Bruno – he forgets some of the celebs have had dance training and others, none. It really is about the ‘journey’
    Hang in there – you and Karen are fabulous!

  • Nikki says:

    Go Jeremy! You’re what Strictly is all about. You make me smile the minute you get on the floor. Keep it up. #JeremyForTheFinal

  • Denise says:

    I am so glad you are enjoying doing strickly. i think it’s Craig who is a moody sod, he should give you and Karen a higher score that 3. your waltz was lovely last night. i voted for you I hope you go through to the next round.

  • Allison Hubbard says:

    I love reading your diary Jeremy…I thought your waltz was really good and your best dance yet. You were most certainly undermarked. The judges failed to see how attentive and tender you were towards your dance buddy, it was beautiful to see. I hope it wasn’t your last dance but if it was, you leave on a high, having given us such an interesting insight into the workings of Strictly, thank you for sharing your “journey”!

  • Beverley Smith says:

    If there was a prize for effort and enthusiasm it would be yours. Love watching you try so hard. Hope you aren’t too hurt by harsh comments or, worse, Bruno’s sniggers. Keep dancing, your family must be so proud

  • Abbie says:

    Another great insight. You are always the gentleman. Plus you have used one of my favourite words – ‘ruckle’ x

  • Kaza P says:

    Go Jezza, my strictly favourite. No you won’t win it all but getting this far and entertaining the nation is just as important. In some ways I would rather capture the hearts of the nation with genuine enthusiasm and gratefulness than be the best dancer. Keep going Jeremy and Karen

  • Jo says:

    I agree so much with what you said about the lighting. I really feel the costume department and hair/make up people are always complemented (rightly so) but never hear a shout out to lighting. I think it’s marvellous. Keep dancing Jeremy – love you and your constant smile 🙂

  • Julie says:

    Haven’t watched strictly for a few years but knowing you and a couple of others were on I decided to re-visit. Am glad I did, you have made me smile and even got hubby watching and although he may not like to admit it, think he’s enjoying! It’s a big 10 for effort! Keep dancing!!!

  • Helen Breeze says:

    Both my husband & I love watching you! Your journey from a novice dancer has been amazing to watch. You really have got better each week which is what Strictly is all about. You seem such a genuine guy & we look forward to watching you each week.
    Keep it up & don’t change that lovely smile of yours!

  • elizabeth anderson says:

    you are doing great Jeremy and as a fan of your show I am supporting you. It is always great to watch you and you are always trying so hard and always polite. Hang on in there!!

  • Sheila says:

    Well done Jeremy,keep focused on your dancing and smiling we are all willing you onwards and be so proud of your progress.

  • Anne-Marie says:

    Keep going Jeremy. You and Karen are fabulous. Strictly isn’t all about dancing as far as the fans are concerned. It’s also about personality, attitude and often sense of humour. I’d give you 10 for each one!!

  • Sophie says:

    Love you on Strictly, Jeremy! Your enthusiasm and enjoyment of dancing is so infectious and such a pleasure to watch.
    I’m really enjoying following your journey on your blog.
    Best of luck to you and Karen. x

  • Allison says:

    I was entranced by your waltz. I feel the judges look only with their eyes and don’t allow their hearts to feel. If they did, they would surely have been moved by the tenderness you showed towards Karen. It was a beautiful dance.

  • Jeremy Vine says:

    Thanks for these amazing comments. I have read them all and they mean a lot to me. Every week starts with me and Karen saying, “The comeback starts now!” Best wishes, Jeremy (logged in as site manager Natasha)

  • Ellie P says:

    CONGRATULATIONS JEREMY! We were a bit worried, you sounded a bit despondent today, so we all breathed a sigh of relief when your name came up! If you’re not being dressed up as Jack Skellington next week – long legs and all – then someone’s missing a trick. Good luck!

  • Kate Kay says:

    It’s a delight to see someone who is genuinely embracing the full strictly experience. I am really enjoying your diary, you give a wonderful insight into the effort which goes into strictly programmes, from celebrities, pro dancers and all the back room staff. I’m glad you’ve answered a question which puzzled me, I wondered why you appeared in grey in one picture and in an immaculate black tail suit on the programme. Karen looked amazing as ever, but I’m sure this was the dress Helen was supposed to wear. Clearly the wardrobe department have to work right up to the last minute to ensure you all look your best. I’m thrilled you’ve got through again this week, let’s see what Halloween brings. Good luck to you and the DB.

  • Gill says:

    Great diary Jeremy, and good luck to you this week for Halloween special. We really enjoy watching you dance and sharing your experience through this blog, brings it to life! Love to Karen, brilliant dancer and by the sounds of it a great teacher and friend too – her dress on Saturday was my favorite of the series so far, and the black tails looked so much nicer on you than the grey!

  • Helen McLean says:

    Between Sunday night through to the following Saturday night and with the exception of ITT I sometimes feel like there’s a huge fabulous party going on that I’m not invited to. You help give us all an inside view to the party….I love reading your diaries. I love seeing you improve week on week and I love seeing you enjoy yourself dancing. Karen really is a sweetheart and you are doing her proud. Keeeeep dancing….keeeeeeep smiling…….and keeeeeeeep enjoying every moment X X

  • Lynette Tan says:

    Jeremy, hello from Sarawak, Borneo! I love Strictly and I think your attitude towards the Strictly experience is exemplary. What you said to Martin is the perfect reply. Your daughters are lucky girls to have you as a role model. I’m enjoying reading your Strictly diary too – so glad I stumbled upon it. All the best!

  • Lawrence Burton says:

    Fantastic work Jeremy! My sentiments reflect all of the positives above! Wishing you the best of luck for the remaining shows! :-).

  • Angela Renshaw says:

    Jeremy!
    I have just read an article of your taken from Radio Times when you describe the first live show and reaction of audience in terms of the ‘front row of gloriously positive women’ . I ,along with my sister and SQFs ( Strictly Queue Friends) was one of those women seated on the front row. We had queued since 03.30 and my goodness was it worth it! I am a massive fan of Strictly, my husband calls me ‘The Strictly Fundalmentalist’ …To see you dance live, and so close up, along with the other celebrities and professional dancers meant so much more than a glittery TV entertainment to me and i wanted to share with you how great i think you and Karen are and just how fabulous it is to share in your joy from an audience point of view. I think i am a couple of years older than you, but can well remember in the late ’60 s early ’70s , the innocent ‘family rich days’ spent learning to dance in the local Miners Welfare Centre in my silver sparkly shoes that my Mum had saved to buy. Ballroom dancing then was very popular, both on TV and socially. However good or bad i was, i remember the feelings of utter joy at being able to put into action the sequence of steps taught to the wonderful music played on scratcy vinyl, partnered by the only boy in the class who had two left feet who no one else would dance with. Then later on that evening, returning to the same venue with my parents to a social dance, with glitter ball, where i watched in awe as the adults danced and i saw my parents whirl across the dance floor and love each other. I loved to see my Dad dance, he wasnt the worlds best, but it didnt matter, he simply enjoyed the moment of being there with my lovely Mum in his arms and living it. When i see you dance, i reminisce of those innocent days of my childhood and see you dance with a spirit of pure joy that you give to the audience with beautiful Karen is so rare to see on TV . Thank goodness for programmes like Strictly that continue to fly the flag for decent family viewing and remind us of good times gone by when we could all experience joy together on a Saturday evening. I wish you every success tomorrow, i will be gloriously cheering ‘Go Jezzer’ from the comfort of my armchair .

    • b3mpt says:

      From Jeremy Vine: Angela, what an absolutely beautiful message about your parents and your love of dancing. I hope you see this – and just in case you see it early enough, I wanted to let you know that Karen will be joining me on Radio 2 tomorrow at 1.30pm. Your message about dancing is exactly the kind of thing I wanted to be able to reflect on with her. So glad you saw the show in the studio! JV

  • Catherine says:

    Loving the Strictly Diary. Keep it up until the final!

  • Deb says:

    Enjoyed reading you blog and enjoy watching you dance. You are like a breath of fresh air.
    I have a question for you. Why is your shirt red in all the preparation photos but you are wearing a different one on the show?

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