Ipswich Regent bound Strictly Come Dancing star Brendan Cole interviewed
- Credit: PA
Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan Cole talks fatherhood, the secret to his success and why he’s a calmer man nowadays.
Cole’s twirling his favourite dancing partner around the room and the tiny blue-eyed blonde shrieks with delight and demands one of his famous “lifts”.
The Strictly professional has had a string of glamorous celebrity partners during a decade appearing on the series, but clearly dancing with his two-year-old daughter Aurelia is in another league.
“She loves dancing, which is really sweet to see. I actually haven’t encouraged her. It’s just something she naturally enjoys, especially when I swing her up in the air,” beams the patently proud father.
He’s packing in as many special moments with her as possible because family time’s going to be limited during his 48-date tour of the UK and Ireland with his dance spectacular, A Night To Remember - arriving at the Ipswich Regent on February 14.
Cole describes the show as revealing “the real Brendan, who is more fun, naughty and cheeky away from Strictly, which is controlled and scripted”.
“In this, I host throughout and I’m happy to answer questions from the audience,” he adds. “There’s a wonderful cast and a fantastic programme of music and ballroom and Latin dance.”
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So while theatregoers are set to gain an insight into one of the series’ favourite performers, he’s also allowing a rare glimpse into his private domestic bliss - and explaining the remarkable effect it’s had on his life - as he chats at the home he shares with his model wife, Zoe Hobbs.
For years, he had a reputation as the “bad boy” of Strictly because of his feisty nature, his outspoken and sometimes scathing comments, and his romantic links to a bevy of beautiful women.
“I’m a different person these days,” declares the 38-year-old who married Zoe, 32, in 2010, with Aurelia born on Christmas Day 2012.
“It was certainly close to love at first sight when I met Zoe, even though at first I thought she was so ridiculously attractive and I thought that she was far too good for me! But fate played its part and here we are today together.
“When you’re happy and fulfilled in a relationship, it gives you more stability and a different perspective on life. I was very outspoken in the past, but you change as you grow older and you become a bit more thoughtful and considered. Put it this way, nowadays I’m not afraid to be controversial if it’s necessary, but I do think before I speak!
“When you have the responsibility of being a husband and a father, it’s different. I never want to do anything to embarrass my wife or daughter, whereas in the old days, when I was single, there wasn’t anybody to worry about upsetting.
“I don’t want Aurelia looking back on footage or reports of me when she’s older and saying, ‘My dad’s an idiot!’ and I wouldn’t want Zoe to be embarrassed being married to a man who’s ranting and raving.”
The New Zealander, who started dancing when he was six, has admitted that adjusting in his 20s to the level of fame he enjoyed in those early years of the series wasn’t easy, but he’s now the longest-serving professional dancer on the show, along with Anton du Beke, and that famous youthful volatility has been replaced by calm.
“Now I’ve learnt to fight only the battles I need to, the ones which mean something to me. I tell myself, ‘Stay cool, there’s no point having a go, it won’t change anything. Take a chill pill and get on with it’,” he says with a smile.
Although the opportunity to lift the glitter ball for the second time has as yet eluded him, he has reached the final with Lisa Snowdon and Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
In this year’s 12th series, he partnered Casualty star, Sunetra Sarker and the pair were eliminated in week 10.
The secret of success on Strictly, he insists, is a partnership where the professional dancer enjoys a “rapport” with the celebrity.
“It’s absolutely necessary. If you don’t gel it’s tough because you’re spending eight hours a day with that person. You can fake it if you need to, but after a while, strained relationships will become obvious,” he says bluntly.
Cole’s only too aware that outside relationships can suffer when celebrities are caught up for months in intensive training and are far from their families - dubbed the “curse” of Strictly.
“I always tell my dance partners, ‘Get your boyfriend or husband as involved as they want to be’ and then there’s no problems of misunderstandings and jealousy. It’s good if they can come to some of the sessions and see what goes on, so they don’t feel left out of the process which does literally take over your life for a period.”
He practises what he preaches and his wife regularly visits rehearsals and has helped him create his touring show.
“Zoe’s extremely supportive of me and I love her input because she looks at everything from the perspective of not being a dancer. Would I teach her to dance? Er no, I’d rather keep my marriage! That would be about as risky as trying to teach someone you’re close to how to drive!”