High Maintenance Doesn’t Even Begin To Cover It

December 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

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In the absence of certainty, the fewer assumptions that are made the better. This is the general principle of Ockham’s Razor and the best reason to watch High Maintenance. It’s a comedy involving pot; where the stories tangentially involve marijuana, but marijuana is rarely the story itself. It’s far more than stoner humour.

Each episode is a 10 to 20 minutes vignette of low stakes drama in which High Maintenance’s co-creator Ben Sinclair – playing an unassuming weed delivery guy – is the utterly delightful part-time protagonist who delivers an unobtrusive look into the disparate domesticity of creative class New Yorkers.

The parameters of High Maintenance are modest and it’s often at it’s best when it’s at its most unassuming. A character half-caught through a door frame, the subtitled argument of a mute couple or the icebreaker that sinks an obnoxious kid’s titanic ego. I spoke to Sinclair, along with his wife and co-creator Katja Blichfeld about weed economics, the amicable bonds of shared illegality and drug dealer avatars.

Do you think the (seemingly almost inevitable) legalisation of marijuana will unemploy your friendly neighbourhood “Guy?”
Katja Blichfeld: No way. It might change his clientèle, sure. There will be those who won’t want to be registered marijuana users, for various reasons. Plus there are others who just like to participate in the black market. So it might just change the customer profile, but The Guy won’t be out of business any time soon.

Was it better or worse creating outside of the constraints of thirty-minute or one-hour formulas?
Blichfeld: We love being free of a time constraint. In terms of storytelling, we find it limiting to be told a story must fit within the confines of 21-45 minutes. Can you imagine if novelists all had to uniformly tailor their work to a specific length – down to the page-count? That would be weird.

When something has DIY origins, it can be difficult to avoid “self-indulgent,” “pet project” perceptions. Was this something you faced?
Blichfeld: We haven’t faced a ton of this brand of criticism, luckily. We’ve never forced ourselves on the world, and have tried to just let our audience come to us as much as possible. Perhaps that’s been a helpful strategy for us.

How much of the show’s popularity would you credit to people’s desire to slip unobtrusively into the private spaces of strangers?
Blichfeld: I’m really not sure! I actually think most of the appeal comes from people seeing themselves, or people they know, in the characters we portray. We hear over and over again that our show makes people “feel normal”. I like to think that’s what compels our audience to keep watching, and to recommend the series to friends. That being said, we’re thoroughly aware of the fact that we represent a very small sliver of the creative middle class, and never purport to represent Brooklyn or New York as a whole. We speak to a relatively small segment of the world at large, and we totally get that.

Does “The Guy” have no name because he’s an avatar for our collective curiosities?
Ben Sinclair: A drug dealer doesn’t usually give you his/her real name. We’ve met dealers who go by animal monikers and others who just make up pseudonyms. We decided our protagonist would simply call himself “The Guy”. The anonymous quality makes it easier for people to be vulnerable and open around him, and yes, as you point out – it makes it easier for him to be an avatar for our collective curiosities. To be a an emotional surrogate for the audience, if you will.

Does the premise’s illegality make it easier to build intimacy between characters?
Sinclair: Definitely. The Guy and his client are complicit in something illegal together. It’s easier to make a connection in that situation, for sure.

High Maintenance is available to watch on Vimeo or at HighMaintenance.tv

New family for Emmerdale’s Home Farm

November 10, 2014 by  
Filed under News

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Emmerdale’s Home Farm will have a new family set to make their mark on village life in the coming weeks.

When Home Farm is put up for auction and an open day held for potential purchasers, feisty Nicola King, played by Nicola Wheeler, is rude to prospective buyer Chrissie White. She has no idea who she is and it’s typical of Nicola to make assumptions. Soon Nicola’s fibs and fabrications are blown apart by the arrival of Chrissie’s fiancé, ex-villager Robert Sugden who has joined his partner to look around the house.

Before long Chrissie’s wealthy father Lawrence White arrives to inspect the property, because he wants to buy in the area and Home Farm seems just the ticket. Lawrence will be played by acclaimed actor John Bowe (Silent Witness, DCI Banks, Prime Suspect, Coronation Street). Whilst his daughter Chrissie is being played by newcomer Louise Marwood.

Forthright in his views, Lawrence is not impressed with Chrissie’s choice of husband and on getting wind of Robert’s reluctance to return to the village, promptly puts in an offer. Could Lawrence be determined to rock his daughter’s relationship? In his first major TV role Ryan Hawley (History Boys, both in the West End and the UK theatre tour) will play Robert Sugden.

Chrissie’s troubled fourteen-year-old son Lachlan played by Thomas Atkinson is set to join his family shortly.

Christopher Eccleston to star in ‘Safe House’

November 7, 2014 by  
Filed under News

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Acclaimed British actor Christopher Eccleston (The Leftovers, Thor: The Dark World) will be joined by Marsha Thomason (White Collar) and Paterson Joseph (The Leftovers, Law & Order: UK) in a new four-part drama series Safe House.

The cast will also include Jason Merrells (Emmerdale, Waterloo Road), Nicola Stephenson (All At Sea, Holby City), and Peter Ferdinando (Doctor Who, A Field in England) and is set to commence filming today; Monday 6th October.

The 4-part drama tells the story of a married couple: Robert (Christopher Eccleston) a former detective and Katy (Marsha Thomason) a teacher who are asked by close friend and police officer Mark (Paterson Joseph), to turn their remote Guest House into a Safe House.

Their first ‘guests’ at the Safe House, are a family in fear of their lives after they are violently attacked by someone who claims to know them. For Robert protecting the family resurrects fears and anxieties bound up in a terrifying night eighteen months ago – where he was protecting a star witness who was about to testify against her gangland husband. Unexpectedly, he was shot, and she was killed. As a consequence of running the Safe House, Robert re-questions this incident and uncovers a web of lies.

Inspired by a real couple, Safe House is a distinctive character-driven drama created and written by Michael Crompton (Kidnap & Ransom, Carrie’s War), and directed by award-winning Marc Evans (Hinterland, Collision).

Black Work for Sheridan Smith

November 5, 2014 by  
Filed under News

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Filming has commenced on riveting three-part thriller Black Work starring Sheridan Smith, Matthew McNulty, Douglas Henshall, Geraldine James and Phil Davis.

Following her critically acclaimed roles in Cilla and Mrs Biggs, Sheridan will play police woman Jo Gillespie whose world is thrown into turmoil when husband Ryan (Kenny Doughty), an undercover policeman, is shot dead in mysterious circumstances. She resolutely sets out to discover who murdered him and has to confront difficult truths about her family life and her marriage to Ryan.

Police officer Jo is mother to 7-year-old Melly (played by Honor Kneafsey) and stepson Hal, a role taken by Oliver Woollford. Understandably Jo is emotionally distraught and heavily conflicted as she unravels the last few years of her husband’s life. Leaning on his colleague and fellow police officer DC Jack Clark (Matthew McNulty) for support.

Writer Matt Charman shed light on his inspiration for the drama:

“Sheridan Smith is a dream to write for because as an actress there’s really nothing she can’t do. And Black Work is a story that pushes her to the limit – it makes her character, Jo Gillespie doubt herself, her family, her friends, everything she’s always taken for granted in her search for her husband’s killer.”

The Black Work cast also includes: Sharon Duce (Coronation Street), Andrew Knott (Spooks: Code 9), Ace Bhatti (Eastenders), Carla Henry (Homefront), Kenny Doughty (Vera), Lisa Dillon (Cranford), Vinette Robinson (Sherlock), and Ben-Ryan Davies (Waterloo Road).

Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling join ‘London Spy’

November 3, 2014 by  
Filed under News

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Two of Britain’s finest actors Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling OBE, confirmed to join Ben Whishaw and Edward Holcroft in BBC Two’s new espionage thriller, London Spy.

London Spy is the story of a chance romance between two people from very different worlds, one from the headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service, the other from a world of clubbing and youthful excess.

Whishaw plays Danny – gregarious, hedonistic, romantic and adrift, who falls for the anti-social enigmatic and brilliant Alex (played by Holcroft). Just as the two of them realise that they’re perfect for each other, Alex disappears. Danny, utterly ill-equipped to take on the complex and codified world of British espionage, must decide whether he’s prepared to fight for the truth.

Filming on the five part drama series, created by acclaimed author Tom Rob Smith (Child 44), started this week in London and sees the Academy Award-winning Jim Broadbent confirmed to star alongside British actress Charlotte Rampling OBE, whose recent role in the BBC’s Restless in 2012 saw her receive an Emmy Award nomination.

Alongside Ben Whishaw, confirmed last month in the lead role, will be newcomer Edward Holcroft. He will be seen on screens soon in the upcoming BBC Two adaptation of Wolf Hall.

London Spy is directed by Jakob Verbruggen whose credits include the hugely successful first series of The Fall, plus episodes of the US The Bridge.

Creator and writer Tom Rob Smith says: “London Spy has gathered an exceptional cast and a visionary director. I couldn’t be more excited, or proud.”

Mad Men – What Don, Peggy and Betty did next…

November 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

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As Matthew Weiner’s stylish, critically acclaimed and brilliantly nuanced series draws to a close, we’re taking a look at the cast that shaped the iconic series over the years, and how their careers have progressed since taking up their roles at Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Pryce.

Jon Hamm – Don Draper
Jon Hamm’s defining role as the tortured, brilliant Don Draper has won him legions of fans, and elevated him to the A-list, but success wasn’t easy to come by for the Missouri-born actor. He was dropped by the famous William Morris Agency and saw his audition for Mad Men as his final shot at success. Since winning the role of a lifetime, Hamm has taken on a diverse range of roles- including a scene-stealing performance as Kristen Wiig’s lecherous love interest in box office smash Bridesmaids, a hardened FBI agent in the Ben Affleck-directed crime drama The Town, and a maverick sports agent in Million Dollar Arm. He’s also jumped behind the camera, honing his directing skills on a couple of episodes of Mad Men.

Christina Hendricks – Joan Harris (nee Holloway)
Hendricks’ role as the office queen bee and eventual partner in the agency was originally intended to only be a guest role. However, Matthew Weiner was so impressed with her screen presence that she was promoted to a cast regular. Her career has stepped up a gear since taking the somewhat iconic role of Joan Harris, with roles in Nicholas Winding-Refn’s critically-acclaimed Drive and Sally Potter’s drama Ginger and Rosa. She’s also starred in two high-profile directorial debuts- fellow Mad Men alumni John Slattery’s crime drama God’s Pocket, and Ryan Gosling’s urban fairy tale Lost River.

Elisabeth Moss – Peggy Olson
Arguably the real central character of Mad Men, Moss’s turn as Peggy Olson has garnered her five Emmy nominations, and countless other awards. Olson’s evolution from shy office secretary to ambitious, confident and complex Copy Chief is handled masterfully by Moss, and she shows no sign of slowing down – her recent work includes award-winning performances as Detective Robin Griffin in mini-series Top of the Lake, and as one half of a struggling married couple undergoing unusual therapy in The One I Love.

John Slattery – Roger Sterling
Slattery was born to play the suave, charismatic and irresistible Roger Sterling, a character who is often cited as a fan favourite for obvious reasons. Since the series began, Slattery has expanded an already impressive filmography, with roles in Charlie Wilson’s War, Iron Man 2 and The Adjustment Bureau. He’s also directed several episodes of Mad Men, and made his feature directorial debut with crime drama God’s Pocket, which starred the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and fellow cast member Christina Hendricks.

Vincent Kartheiser – Pete Campbell
One of the most loathed characters in the series, the moral complexities of Pete Campbell are reflected in the audience’s equally complex relationship with the character. Vincent Kartheiser’s brilliant portrayal has often left viewers disgusted, frustrated, and occasionally elated (particularly when taken down a peg or two by Don Draper). Over the last few years, he has starred in an impressive range of both high-profile features and indie shorts, including Alpha Dog (the drama based on the life of drug dealer Jesse James Hollywood), short thriller Waning Moon, and sci-fi blockbuster In Time.

January Jones – Betty Francis
Jones originally auditioned for the role of Peggy Olson, but was eventually cast as the icy, Grace Kelly-esque Betty Francis (formerly Draper). Her difficult relationship with ex-husband Don, as well as her increasingly strained relationships with daughter Sally and husband Henry provide much of the drama in Season 7, as her inability to connect or empathise becomes increasingly problematic. Jones has since starred alongside Liam Neeson in action thriller Unknown, as well as Marvel super-villain Emma Frost in X Men: First Class.

Jessica Pare – Megan Draper
As the third Mrs Draper, Megan has proved a thoroughly divisive character, garnering sympathy as she struggles to deal with Don’s indiscretions, and also derision for her sometimes petty, immature behaviour towards others as she pursues an acting career. One thing that most agree on, however, is that Pare’s casting breathed new life into the show. Pare has since shown a penchant for comedy, starring in The Trotsky, Suck and Hot Tub Time Machine among others.

Kiernan Shipka – Sally Draper
Kiernan Shipka’s pitch-perfect performance as the troubled, wayward adolescent Sally has won her critical acclaim, and at the age of 14, she is one of the youngest to appear on rite-of-passage Inside the Actors Studio. Shipka’s portrayal of Sally’s teenage rebellion is masterful, and her scenes with on-screen parents Don and Betty are key highlights of Season 7. The fact that she is able to hold her own at such a young age amongst acting stalwarts is commendable in itself, but her recent appearances in TV movie Flowers in the Attic, and shorts A Rag Doll Story, Squeaky Clean and We Rise Like Smoke have further cemented her status as a formidable acting talent in the making.

Robert Morse – Bertram Cooper
Founding partner and self –assigned godfather of the office, Bertram Cooper’s eccentric ways often mask his wily and self-serving true nature, while frequently providing comic relief in tenser moments. Robert Morse is an acting stalwart and Broadway veteran, earning multiple nominations and wins for Tony’s, Drama Desk awards and Emmys over the course of five decades. Since joining the cast of Mad Men, he’s taken roles in dramedy-western The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez, as well as lending his voice to animations The Legend of Korra and Sofia the First.

Christopher Stanley – Henry Francis
Since joining the cast in 2009, Stanley’s character has evolved from Betty’s saviour to a subtle menace. Season 7 sees him slowly revealing an insidiously misogynistic side, leaving Betty considering the unpalatable idea she may have simply swapped one prison for another. Since 2009, Stanley has expanded his resume by starring in the critically acclaimed Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, as well as short film The Terrain.

Mad Men: Season 7, Part One is available to pre-order now, and is released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 3rd, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

Gomorrah

October 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Reviews

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For a municipality that is older than Rome Naples has had a far greater impact upon European culture than is commonly recognised. The poet Virgil lived there. The Renaissance humanist Giovanni Boccaccio spent his formative years on its streets and it was where Caravaggio painted some of his finest works. Not to mention that it was a Neapolitan called Giambattista Basile who first wrote down many of Europe’s folk fables.

Peter Robb in his book ‘Street Fight in Naples’ describes the city as a “dense impasto of soft yellow tufo and hardened black lava and chips of brilliant white marble, of bits of Greek wall and Roman amphitheatre, of cavities and blocked water springs and unexploded bombs, of bricks and tiles and seashells and used syringes.” Which means that the city hadn’t changed much from when the Spanish conquered it at the beginning of the sixteenth century, when they found it “a very rundown city whose whole infrastructure badly needed making over”.

It is against a reasonable facsimile of this backdrop that Gomorrah (pun intended) takes place. Based upon Roberto Saviano’s 2006 bestseller about the Camorra – a work which got him greenlit by his book’s protagonists – the TV series is set and shot in Scampia and Secondigliano like the 2008 film of the same name.

Gomorrah has all familiar elements of gangster narrative: ambitious footsoldiers, rival crime families muscling in, a militant matriarch, and a surplus of boys trying to prove they’re men. However unlike Mob operas derived from The Godfather or Sopranos template, Gomorrah places much more emphasis on the clan members integral to the day-to-day running of operations. Those links between the order and the action; the impact and the consequences.

Most notably a portrait of corruption, cynicism, intimidation and greed, Gomorrah is also a reasonably sombre but well-paced study of crime in urban Naples that plays well within the constraints of the gangster paradigm. Comparisons to David Simon’s The Wire aren’t unreasonable; the show’s aspirations to cinematic majesty contrast well with the angst-fuelled drama. Although it’s quite likely that the blissful ignorance of my ears to the intricacies of Neapolitan make me more susceptible to its charms than the patois of Baltimore cornerboys.

A very worthy drama but perhaps not quite the epic its scope would have you believe.

Gomorrah is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Download now

Lesley Sharp reveals all about DC Janet Scott

October 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

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How is Janet at the beginning of the series?
“Janet is single, facing life without a husband, a seemingly balanced home life and at a point in her life where she can choose the direction in which she goes.”

She is sitting her Sergeant’s exam, is she ready?
“As her careful nature would imply she’s fully prepped for the Sergeant’s interview and handles it brilliantly. Unfortunately, almost as soon as that plan of action is put in motion, a crisis with one of her girls and her mother leaves her feeling as if she’s failing at the home front and she considers putting her own ambitions aside and once again staying where she is in her life to attend to others.”

How are things at home for her?
“As a recurring theme for Janet, we watch as she understands the nature of this, at work, with her family and her romantic life, and by the end of the series we see a Janet who is determined to be herself, to have fun, to put herself on the line and to stop worrying about when is the right time/ right plan/ right man and that sometimes you just have to go for it….”
 
How are things between Janet and Rachel this series?
“Her relationship with Rachel is up ended slightly by Gills unfortunate take and request on a situation, but we are seeing a very much more mature and engaged version of the dynamic between Janet and Rachel this year. They know how to work well together and have fun.”
 
Janet goes speed dating in this series was that fun to film?
“The speed dating and online situations get Janet into a few scrapes that are wittily handled and were very enjoyable to play. Janet is a 3D character who always appears to be in control but as in life has to keep learning how to bend and shape to the issues around her.”
 
This is series 4 how does it feel to return to the character of Janet and how much do you enjoy playing her?
“There is a 10 page interview scene which was extremely difficult to learn and was a brilliant acting opportunity. All of the interviews I’ve had to learn and be part of this year, have felt like great opportunities for me as an actress and for the character of Janet. By the end of the series Janet has significantly moved on, with her children, her single status and a realisation about her special skill set at work. All of our writers have honoured the imperative that was so clearly and brilliantly put in motion by Sally Wainwright, and it’s an immense privilege to get the opportunity again to engage in such detailed and rich work.”

Simon Cowell: “You’re going to hear a different kind of singer this year.”

October 6, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

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Simon Cowell is, amongst other things, a record company executive, a television and film producer…and a global TV star. Renowned for his sharp eye for talent and candid opinions, Simon Cowell has completely transformed popular culture in the 21st century, through his TV and music interests.

Cowell’s company, Syco Entertainment, is a world-renowned music, film, and television production company responsible for some of the most successful global music and television franchises. Syco’s television assets include the two international TV phenomenon formats: Got Talent and The X Factor. This year, Syco Music was named the No.1 A&R label in the UK, for both singles and albums. To date, Cowell has worked with artists who have sold more than 350 million records.

So Simon how does it feel to be back in the UK for this series?
It actually feels really good to be back in the UK. I think in a weird way it’s good I’ve had a break from the show, I’ve watched the show from a distance and now I feel like I’m back in control again. I like it.

What are you most excited about?
There’s always that feeling when you’re on the panel that you’re going to find a new star. I don’t know who they’re going be, where they’re going to come from but it’s that that excites me the most.

What did you miss most about the show while you were away?
You miss British contestants. I’ve always thought on these shows, for whatever reason, the best people have come from Britain. You can take people like Leona Lewis or One Direction or Olly Murs, JLS, Ella Henderson, Cher Lloyd, they’ve all come from the show and gone on to have big careers. So we’re lucky the show does attract people who do want to be big recording artists, rather than wanting to win a singing competition – there is a difference.

What’s going to be different about this year?
I think you’re going to hear a different kind of singer this year. The show is going to look different in terms of the line up. I’ve done the small room auditions already, and then we’re going back to arenas, which is the real test. I’ve already seen 5 or 6 people that have got massive potential. Some of these people, when you put them in front of the big crowds, they fall apart. And on the show this year there are a lot of hurdles to overcome. You’ve got to go from the small room to the arena to the six chair challenge, which I think is a great addition. Then you’ve got to do the judges’ houses visit, then you make it on the live shows. So anyone who gets to the live shows, they’ve earned their spot.

How competitive are you and the other judges feeling this year?
You don’t get competitive until you get your category. At that point, for whatever reason, you almost forget about the artists at that point – it’s so much about you winning. Or so much about someone else not winning – it’s about your competitive nature, which is why you put competitive people on the show because if you don’t want to win, it’s kind of a boring show.

How does it feel to be reunited with Cheryl?
It feels good to be reunited with Cheryl, I’ll be honest with you. She’s been on good form. It’s almost like the last four years disappeared. We just picked it up straight away. She’s been fun and annoying, but good to be with.

Cheryl said she came back after a lot of grovelling. What did you say to persuade her to come back?
We had a lot of conversations before Cheryl agreed to come back. But what was interesting, was that once we got past whatever we had to get past, we then started talking about the show and we reminded ourselves of the past series we made which was a great series. It’s how we wanted to recapture that again, and make a show which is fun, big and most importantly find a star, or maybe more than one star.

Is there a particular type of contestant you’re looking for this year; a specific genre or category?
I’m not interested in a sob-story, I mean seriously, I’m just so over them. I always say the same thing. I want someone who can become a star in this country, but just as importantly, can become a star in other countries. You want somebody who’s different, you don’t want a second rate version of someone who’s already out there, but you want somebody who’s different from anyone else in the charts at the moment.

You’ve brought Louis back to the show for his 11th consecutive series. What do you think he brings to the show that nobody else does?
Louis brings madness to the show. I’ve known Louis for about 15 years, he’s a nutcase, and he has a very different view of the world than I do. But that’s what I find interesting about Louis; he is an optimist, whereas I can be a bit cynical. But he loves music. He loves doing the show; I mean if he had a tail he’d be wagging it. And the one thing you forget about Louis is that he is a really good manager. I mean he’s sold over 100 million records – you don’t do that with luck, you do it because you’re smart.

And what’s it like working with Mel, what kind of judge is she?
I wasn’t sure whether Mel was going to fit in or not, but within 5 minutes I got her. She brings an incredible energy to the show. She isn’t a judge for hire, which a lot of people are nowadays. She loves the show and is really interested in the mentoring aspect of the show, because she did the show in Australia where she did a good job. Plus she’s really fun to be around, although I get why she’s called Scary!

What’s your biggest audition turn off?
I think it’s normally a boyband that’s been put together by a manager, and told what to wear, what to say, they all come running in and everything they say is scripted, and they pretend to laugh at each other’s jokes, I hate that. I’d rather find something much more raw – like we had with One Direction.

The age limit’s been lowered to 14 this year. Do you think that someone this young can cope with the pressure of being on the show?
On Britain’s Got Talent we’ve had no age limits, we’ve had really young people do well on the show. You have to make a judgement call before you put teenagers in front of us, about whether they can cope with it or not. When they come to see us, we can make a pretty good call as to whether we think they’re too young or too inexperienced. On the other hand we’ve had really good 14 / 15 year olds, who are better and more assured than some of the 30 year olds.

Judy Murray is in it to win it

October 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

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Tennis coach Judy is a self-confessed Strictly fan and is best known for being mother and coach to two very high achieving tennis players: 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and Wimbledon Mixed Doubles champion Jamie Murray. Born in Bridge of Allan, Scotland, Judy qualified as a tennis coach aged 17 and went on to become the eighth best female player in the UK. Judy is passionate about encouraging the next generation of youngsters and has supported both her professional tennisplaying sons throughout their careers.

How are you feeling as the launch draws ever closer?
I am very excited. I’m not nervous yet but I think the nerves will kick in on the night that we do anything live. I’ve loved meeting all the other contestants and everyone else who works behind the scenes. It is fun for me already and it is so different to anything I have ever done before. My life has been saturated with tennis so to experience life behind the scenes on my favourite show is not something I ever thought I’d have the opportunity to do so I think I am going to love every moment.

What made you sign up?
Like millions of others I am a huge fan and I’ve been following the show for five or six years now and I never miss it. I might not always be at home when the show is on but I always make sure I catch up. When I come home and have been away for three weeks I will always come home and watch it in sequence, I never jump because I’ve always enjoyed watching it from the start. I love watching how unbelievably good everyone becomes by the end of the series. I’ve never danced, so the challenge of learning a new skill and being part of something I love watching is a real thrill.

Have you done any special preparation?
I think from my coaching background I understand how people learn. I am coming into this as a complete novice. I will be careful with what I eat, try to go to the gym a bit more and I may even wear high heels around the house to get used to that but whoever the poor soul is that has to dance with me, it is all going to be down to him to teach me what to do!

What are you looking for in a dance partner?
When I watched the show in the past my favourite professional dancers were Ian Waite and Artem Chigvintsev. Neither of them are on the show this year but I really don’t mind at all who I dance with as they are all such unbelievable dancers. I guess the important thing is the height but more so I need someone who has a good sense of humour and who will be patient with me because I am such a rookie!

What feedback would you like to have from the judges?
I don’t think I will mind at all what they say. I have watched the show for such a long time that I know how each of them is going to tackle the way they give their feedback. They are all completely different from each other. But I am aware that they are experts in their field and I am not! You have to take on what they are saying, but I think you have to giggle and laugh it all off if it is bad.

Who will be supporting you this series? Family? Other celebs?
When I am watching Strictly I identify with the people who are slightly older, or those who are starting from scratch. I loved watching Deborah Meaden and Fiona Fullerton in the last series. I also enjoyed watching Abbey going from a rookie start to being absolutely amazing. I hope the 50 something ladies out there will be able to identify with me and will be looking out for me.

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