Zoe Ball was awful at dancing at first laughs Strictly Come Dancing star Ian Waite
- Credit: Archant
Zoe Ball, a bad dancer? Terrible at first reveals Strictly It Takes Two star Ian Waite, visiting the region with Natalie Lowe.
Ian and Zoe Ball wowed judges and viewers alike when they danced together during the third season of Strictly Come Dancing, finishing in third place. It could’ve gone very differently.
The professional dancer recalls being invited on the BBC Three sister show of short-lived series Strictly Dance Fever, which Zoe presented.
“She said to me ‘I’m thinking of doing Strictly’ and I thought ‘oh my God she’d be amazing’. They asked me to come on the show for the final and do a little bit of a dance with Zoe. She was so terrible. She ended the wrong way up in a lift and she was awful,” he laughs.
“We went to the wrap party and Zoe said ‘I’ve told my agent I want to do Strictly but I’m only going to do it if I dance with you’. I thought ‘oh no’ because she was so terrible. But she was so talented, she picked things up so quickly and within weeks she was already a great dancer so I was really lucky.
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“It’s great... You see that chemistry, the fact we know each other so well, that we get on and people say you can see that on screen.”
The radio presenter and It Takes Two host needs friends around right now after the death of her boyfriend, cameraman Billy Yates; whose funeral was earlier this week.
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“I’ve been in contact with her and I think she just needs time to be honest,” says Ian, who has been appearing on Strictly’s BBC Two sister show for the last five years.
“Zoe’s the best. She’s encouraging, she’s fun, she’s very down to Earth. She’s a friend. It’s a great thing to do with her every week and the team are a great bunch, I’m really lucky.”
He spent seven years on Saturday night ratings winner Strictly Come Dancing. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since he left.
“To be honest, it was kind of out of my hands, I was repositioned if you like,” he laughs. “I loved it but it was so hard... I had that sort of seven year itch if you like and wanted to move on. The BBC offered me a job within It Takes Two as a presenter and I thought ‘why not’? It’s been amazing.”
Viewers will be pleased to know filming the tea-time companion series is as much fun as it looks. Ian remembers a saucy slip of the tongue one time, when Claudia Winkleman was still the host.
“I was dancing with Jodie Kidd and Claudia said ‘what do you expect from Jodie at the weekend’,” he laughs.
“I said ‘I just hope Jodie produces her breast’ - I meant to say her best. It was right at the end of the show so the credits were rolling and everybody was crying with laughter; it was hilarious.
“Claudia turned round and said ‘well, if you can’t produce your best, produce your breast - I’ve done it’. Nat tells a story during our tour about mistakenly hearing a friend was coming to see her; it’s hilarious but I don’t want to give it away.”
Stories like this feature large in Somewhere in Time – An Audience With Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe which includes specially choreographed versions of their favourite ballroom and Latin dances.
It stops by the Ipswich Regent May 27, Norwich Theatre Royal May 28, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, May 30; King’s Lynn Corn Exchange, June 2 and Cambridge Corn Exchange June 3. It’s their second tour together.
“Having spent a bit of time over that way we do love it there. Last year we did 52 shows, this year we’re doing 68. Funnily enough last night was our 52nd show so we’ve got to the stage where we’d have finished,” says Ian, about to leave York and head to Bridlington.
“Getting your costumes ready every night, because we’re doing our own, gets tiring. Natalie gets a little help, but I have to wash my shirts and things every night because they get dirty.
“I’ve been dancing for 30 odd years so, it’s still hard. Obviously we’re on stage all the time so it’s a challenge because to do that every night and have the energy every night... Sometimes you’re tired going into it, but once the first bit of music comes on you’re just away with the music and the next thing you know it’s the last dance. Because we’re so busy in the show there’s no time to really sit back and think about it.”
As well as all favourite ballroom and Latin dances, there’s a Charleston and Argentine tango in there too to mix things up. The duo are also joined by singers who accompany them and perform solo.
“There’s a lot of interaction with the audience and participation. We ask them to ask us questions and get them up in places. We do a little section where we get some people up to do some Fitsteps, which is a dance fitness programme Natalie and I devised. That’s always interesting and fun.
“Obviously there are lots of chats about Strictly in-between; things that have happened to us while we’ve been on the show which are great fun.”
Surprisingly, he and Natalie didn’t know each before Strictly Come Dancing.
“I remember the exec producer saying to me she had a lovely tall girl coming over from Australia... I’d seen a little bit of footage. Once we started dancing together it was like the perfect partnership. She was such a great dancer and we matched each other physically because I’m very tall, I’m 6ft 4in and Natalie is probably like 5ft 10in; by the time she’s in heels she’s nearly 6ft.
“We’re the same sort of dancers, we’re very emotional dancers, we like to dance to emotive music and that’s what our dances are like... When you go to our shows you do go on a journey and have an experience. A lot of people say when they come out it just felt like they were really part of the show and that’s what we love about it.”
Turning our attention back to Strictly Come Dancing, Ian thinks new judge Shirley Ballas, who replaces Len Goodman, will be fantastic. He should know, training under her for five years when he was a teenager.
“She’s renowned as an amazing dancer. She changed the face of Latin dancing, she had her own style and was quite a pioneer. She trained me from the age of 17-22 and during that time I became european youth champion and also (got) in the top six in the world in the amateur Latin. I do put that down to going to her because she was such an amazing coach and such an amazing influence on people. I think she’ll be like that (on the show).”
Called The Queen of Latin, she’s well-known to fans of Strictly’s stateside counterpart Dancing with the Stars. Her son, Mark, was a pro dancer on the show and she also helped train sister and brother champions Julianne and Derek Hough.
“She’ll definitely have strong opinions, whether you like it or hate it; it will be interesting to find out. Obviously she’s going to be compared to Len but I think she’s going to be fantastic. She’s glamourous, she’s opinionated. She’s the perfect person to take over.”