Diary of a Strictly day 


I went to bed at midnight so I could lie in and guess what happens? Bang, eyelids open at the normal weekday time. I resist the temptation to put on Radio 2 and see what’s happening in the world. Back to sleep (sort of). Dreaming about dance steps


Now I’m up. It’s the most divine day outside. Sun and blue beyond the blinds. I tweet: 

jeremy vine tweete

When I open my overnight bag I find a heart-melting card, from my wife and daughters, hidden from me. This is what Anna, 8, says:

note from Jeremy Vine's children

Down to breakfast with Daniel O’Donnell and  his wife Majella. Suddenly Jess Glynne music starts pumping out of the speakers — we are electrified. The song is “Hold My Hand,” the first one we all practised together for the introductory group dance. I say to Daniel, “This is like when an old soldier hears a car exhaust backfire and hits the deck…” We both laugh at how we immediately assume we should be on a dancefloor when we hear this song. I have a real bond with Daniel. He is kind, thoughtful, and reassuringly nervous despite having performed in front of millions over the years.  But here’s the thing – when we meet for breakfast he has already danced. I have yet to. Suddenly lost my appetite for the hotel bacon. 


I arrive at the Elstree studios and find my partner Karen in make-up. When I say “this is now real,” she says, “I got your back, babe,” in that wonderful combination accent (New York, plus Venezuela, plus a little Grimsby). KC has been dancing since she was eight; I have been dancing since August 8th. She is teaching me things she learnt when she was ten. She is impeccably patient. Her very handsome and extremely athletic hubby Kevin is a Chelsea fan, so the two of us see eye-to-eye. He tells me he is pleased to see Karen enjoying herself, but I don’t see how she can be! I glance at the monitor and see a man sweeping the studios (on the right of the pic below). So it’s really happening.


Karen and I have found a small area backstage where we can practise.  She communicates certainty but I sense (when we have this pic taken) that she is getting nervous too. Watching the pro dancers, I always come back to the question: do people dance because they are beautiful, or are they beautiful because they dance? 

jeremy vine and karen clifford



Bang on time, rehearsals start. It’s a funny thing, but there are really powerful bonds forming between the celebs even though we are competing against each other. Ainsley is up with Natalie in rehearsal first, and his “beret” routine makes me roar with laughter in the almost-empty studio. But I can also see, as a fellow non-dancer, how much work AH has had to do. I watch from a ringside seat.

Ainsley rehearse1


Now they reveal my set. A polling station! I love the way Strictly embraces our personal histories with such gusto. Me and elections; Jay and rock; Iwan and running, Katie and classical, and so on. This will be the photo that sums up the wonderfully mad embrace the programme holds you in. But I can’t really enjoy the moment, because I am realising our dance is close now … 

polling station

A problem arises in rehearsal. In the final moment, Karen dramatically flings out her leg (doing the splits vertically) and I have to catch it. I miss the leg. So now the stakes double. I must catch the leg whatever happens. This is one problem that can’t be addressed with my famous notepad, the reporters’ pad I have been writing every move in so I remember them.

jeremy vine notebook


Out of respect to Karen I decide the notepad has to go. So now it’s just me and her — oh, hang on. And the football. It’s on in what they call the Star Bar. Boys will be boys, right? Four of us rig up two iPads to watch the Spurs/Man City game (the other one is showing Derby v MK Dons). Here you see pros Kevin and Tristan. Ainsley and I use the football to put the dance-terror aside. 

backstage ainsley harriot


I pop round the back of the set and see my bro and sis in the front row. Can I nip in? Wearing a hoodie I give Tim and Sonya a hug, but of course Tim is famous and so people work out it must be me and — this is an amazing sound for a journalist — they start cheering all round us. That is SO encouraging. I am really buoyed up. I take one more photo — the full studio from behind the main boom camera. Now to join my fellow celebs.

studio warmup


The moment is coming. Being a fan of indie rock, I always quote a line from Howard Devoto of Magazine at moments like this: “I enter the room. Confidence enough. For now I tread a straight and narrow path.”



Two minutes before the show starts, we are assembled in entrance order on the rickety stairs backstage. It’s showtime. Karen has her arm around my waist and can feel me trembling. Whatever happens, I want to make sure the audience see how much I am loving this experience.

strictly starting


Jeremy Vine official website


  • Alanna says:

    Absolutely loved watching you last night. You looked so happy throughout and were an absolute joy to watch. I haven’t got the confidence to get up and dance at a wedding so kudos to you for doing it in front of the nation. Can’t wait to see you next week – you’ll be getting my vote!

  • Linda joy says:

    It would be great if before the end of strictly, you could dance to ‘daddy daddy cool’ – i think your children would enjoy it? Xx

  • Vicky L says:

    Well done on your first dance Jeremy, you did brilliantly! Looking forward to seeing many more.
    Enjoy yourself!

  • Olivia says:

    Well done Jeremy, you did so well. Keep dancing and keep enjoying. X

  • Grace namale says:

    Was watching en cheering for you though through have a closed face. Loved how you gave it your all. Can’t wait next wknd.

  • Michaela nelson says:

    You were so enthusiastic, we loved you, you could tell you were loving every minute of it, can’t wait for ballroom you have the height etc for that but for your first dance my sisters and I were impressed, you’re our favourites! Good luck!

  • June Hickman says:

    Well done on your first dance. We are rooting for you. Onwards and upwards. X

  • Ian Carnegie says:

    Well done on Saturday! Will be listening to your R2 show on Monday for reaction to the show! Keeeeeep dancing!

  • Allison says:

    I loved watching you and Karen dance. Your obvious joy was infectious and I look forward to seeing you dance – and learn – more each week.

  • Sophie says:

    Loved you dancing on Strictly. You gave it your all. I hope you stay in for a long time and hope you do the tour. Keep up the good work.
    Loads of luck.
    Sophie from Tunbridge Wells

  • Dave Kirkbride says:

    Love Strictly and although I am getting to a grumpy old man age (aka Len) where my eyes raise at the attempted jokes and judges comments, etc, I do respect the bravery in a way of some of the ‘dad dancers’ that maybe thought they could dance and can’t and the ones that obviously have a talent for it or were at stage school in an earlier life!
    So I’m waiting to see if you, Daniel and Ainsley pass the dad dancing stage, best of luck!

  • Gill says:

    Loved watching you last night, loved your energy and enthusiasm – Craig as usual missed the mood of the audience but I think you’ve captivated Darcy! Will be voting for you next week!

  • Lennie says:

    Great diary, Jeremy! Hope you stay in long enough to write a whole book … with a Strictly Siblings Selfie!

  • Beverley Smith says:

    I thought you were amazing. Maybe not the best dancer but you looked enthusiastic and as if you were loving it. So hard to dance if you’ve never done it before. Keep up the good work! You’re the favourite in our house!

  • Helen says:

    It was lovely seeing you enjoy yourself last night, the nerves certainly didn’t show. I think you”re very brave as a complete beginner and the skills you learn will be with you for ever I’m sure,
    I would love to do the same.
    Your family must all be so proud, well done.

  • Paul says:

    What a great insight into your day, good to see you can make time to watch the football. The family and I watched last night, everyone was great. I can’t imagine all the training you all have to go through. Thanks Jeremy and good luck for the series.

  • Isla Scott says:

    I imagine your daughter was very proud to watch you wiggle lol I enjoyed watching your dancing on the show on Saturday evening. I like the photos you shared on your blog – it all looks quite daunting but potentially good fun, being on a show like Strictly. I liked your purple top/outfit – very groovy! enjoy the show and its nice that your under the spotlight, rather than your brother, for a change perhaps. Best of luck staying in Strictly (and I’m a fan of your Radio2 program as well by the way).

  • Pauline Owens says:

    I am looking forward to seeing your next dance, it was fun to watch you last night, you did not appear nervous at all. Good luck.

  • Jo says:

    Fantastic last night.

  • Sophie says:

    Really great insight of what occurs behind the scenes. Could you write about the choreographies, do the pros create/design them alone or is there a team of people?
    I loved watching your dance, it was so enjoyable, I’ll be voting for you next week. I am concerned about the popularity that P Andre seems to have! And unfortunately Jannette is definitely the best choreographer, she is a genius!!!

  • Adam says:

    Just watched it on iplayer….first class entertainment. Bravo !

  • Frances says:

    Loved every minute, you could be the dark horse Jeremy,can’t wait for next week.

  • Karina says:

    I love Strictly, I love Jeremy. I Cried with laughter in a nice way at your dancing and your infectious enjoyment last night – I shall be voting

  • John Reed says:

    Well done Jeremy, as a firm fan of you on Radio 2, I was looking forward to seeing your efforts, and so far have enjoyed it all thoroughly. I am older than you by some years, but admire your commitment, and your energy.
    Looking forward to seeing you in the final.

  • Kirsten Johnson says:

    I have really been looking forward to the start of the new series & it didn’t disappoint. You impressed me Jeremy, and your enthusiasm shone through. You look like you’re having the time of your life & you are genuinely excited to be taking part. Just stumbled across your Strictly Blog, which will give the show a whole new element. Good luck Jeremy & enjoy it.

  • Debra Newhouse says:

    You were the favourite in our house this week, and we’ll be voting for you as soon as we can! Your sheer joy and enthusiasm was infectious and we all smiled throughout your entire routine. Can’t wait for next week, well done Jeremy!

  • Suzanne says:

    Jeremy,after watching the show last night,all I can say is, A STAR IS BORN And I really hope you stay till the bitter end. Good luck &shave fun x

  • Suzanne says:

    Jeremy,after watching the show last night,all I can say is, A STAR IS BORN And I really hope you stay till the bitter end. Good luck & have fun x

  • Well done! You’re a braver man than me, that’s for sure. #Strictly

  • Loved watching you dance! Great enthusiasm and a joy to watch!
    Started Latin and ballroom dancing this year with my partner and it’s incredibly hard! Great fun to do but so much to learn and like you I’ve hit my 50s. Definitely watch scd with different eyes this year. Keep up the good work with Mrs C!! Will be voting for you

  • Catherine says:

    Jeremy I thought you were absolutely brilliant. Your energy and enthusiasm were amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed watching you dance. Really enjoyed the diary too. Looking forward to your dance next week. Keep up the good work.

  • Sue Harries says:

    A quote from Miss Saigon that I remind my dance daughter of is “dance like it’s the last night of the world” Have fun, smile and enjoy!

  • suzanne johnson says:

    Well done, everyone did really well its a very close competition. Keep up the good work.
    Loving the diary too.

    By the way I write everything down too, nothing wrong with that.


  • Claire says:

    Enjoy yourself, get into the zone & forget about who’s watching!!

    Good luck & best wishes x

  • Patricia Lee says:

    Thought you were brilliant for the first week. Forget Craig just enjoy Will be watching every week

  • Sam says:

    Not at all cringey- just natural, infectious, un-forced enthusiasm. Really entertaining stuff. But our big plea is not to go down the Scott Mills road of comedy dances. Not necessary. Just patronising.

  • Tracy says:

    Great to read how it is from the celeb point of view 😉 you looked like you were enjoying it very much, hope you go far!

  • Elaine says:

    You had the widest of smiles and huge enthusiasm – great to watch!

  • Helen McLean says:

    You are such a joy to watch …. Full of enthusiasm and with a clear promise to do well for Karen as well as yourself. You looked so confident and I just know that we are going to enjoy more of you. Karen is one of my favourites…you’re in excellent hands. Please blog more…it’s great to read….thank you. Bring it on…..onwards and upwards …..great stuff Jeremy and Karen xx

  • Sharon says:

    Well done Jeremy! Give it a few weeks and you’ll be doing the jive to ‘This Charming Man’ like a pro!

  • Julie Smith says:

    A.though I did watch you with my with my hands over my eyes,and cringed a bit. Strangely I loved it. Go Jeremy Vine

  • Tina Barratt says:

    Wow Jeremy – well done, good on you, keep going, enjoy, smile, laugh, and good luck! Cool cool cool !

  • Joan Thomas says:

    Loved every minute of your dance. What a partner you have, so natural and caring. Looking forward to seeing you both again just think of the smiles you and Karen bring to so many people. Genuine couple ! X

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