Strictly Come Dancing received its first big surprise of the series when it moved to the first week of live shows last weekend. Expectations have been high over which celebrity would dance the best and Kimberley Walsh, Louis Smith and Denise Van Outen were expected to outshine the competition.
It came as a complete surprise then when they were all beaten to the top of the leaderboard by none other than former Emmerdale star Lisa Riley. Defying the critics and surprising the judges, Lisa performed a very energetic and entertaining Cha Cha Cha with her partner Robin Windsor.
We gave Robin a quick call to find out how Team RiRo is feeling after their victory at the weekend, talk about Lisa proving her critics wrong, and to find out how rehearsals for this weekend’s show are going.
Well Saturday was a big surprise! How do you feel about it?
Both Lisa and myself are still on cloud nine after the weekend. It was just such an amazing experience to hear the audience, the other professionals, the celebrities and the judges all going off because they loved what we did so much. It was so nice and such a proud moment for both of us.
Nobody had any idea how good Lisa would be. When we spoke to you recently you said she had rhythm and could dance but nobody expected her to be that good did they?
Everybody had written Lisa off before the show had even begun as the token Ann Widdecombe or the Russell Grant so the fact that we were able to come out and prove everyone wrong was just the icing on the cake. I knew it was a good, camp, fun routine that people were going to like because it was just such a fun routine but I just didn’t have any expectation of it going to quite the level that it did.
You even managed to get praise from Craig. How did that feel?
Obviously on the launch show Craig did say ‘Robin – good luck’ and we kind of wanted to prove a point to him hence why we had that little slap towards him on the butt from Lisa which everybody just went completely nuts over. He just fell in love with it. To get an 8 from him on week one is just unheard of. It was just amazing. There are no words. I’m not often speechless but I was just speechless.
From watching the performance you could tell that both of you were just loving it. Do you think that energy is what the audience connected with?
I think it was concoction of everything. There was the music which was absolutely fantastic and it was one of those tracks you can’t help but tap your feet along to. The choreography worked. Both me and Lisa were having such a fun time and we’d just been looking forward to dancing it because we’d spent three weeks doing it every single day. I knew I’d got it to the best I could get it; it was just a case of being able to do it in front of the public. We were just eager and excited and I think you could tell because it was written all over our faces.
We’ve been reading that the bookies are in a panic because the performance turned everything on its head. Do you think there’s a real chance you could win this year?
It’s only week one. Yes it was a phenomenal week one but we’ve still got a long way to go. At the moment we’re just taking it week-by-week and we’ll see what happens. There are some fantastic dancers on the show this year and I think there’s going to be huge competition. At this stage we just have to take each week as it comes.
Craig’s been praising Lisa in the press but saying that he thinks she’ll struggle with ballroom with her posture and her pose. Is that what you’re working on this week?
Yeah this week we have the Viennese Waltz which is the complete opposite to the Cha Cha Cha. Lisa has so much energy so it’s all about finding a way to contain that energy on the inside but bring her personality out at the same time.
How are the rehearsals going this week?
Good. At the beginning the Viennese Waltz was a huge struggle but I find that Lisa is very determined to make sure she gets the steps right. She’s wants to make sure she does a good job because she’s working so hard and day-by-day it’s getting better and better. It’s getting close now because we’ve only got a couple of days before the live show.
Are you feeling confident?
Quietly confident. You generally find with the Viennese Waltz and the Ballroom dances that they don’t get everyone as pumped up as the Latin dances so we know this one isn’t going to create as much of a buzz as last week’s did. Especially because I was jumping on Lisa at the end and she was the first woman in Strictly history to lift her dance partner up so there was all this buzz and excitement. We now have expectation on us because we did so well. We just want to go out there and do the best job that we can. Everything that I’ve taught Lisa over the past week, I just want her to go out there and do the best job possible.
Obviously EF has pledged Team RiRo for this year’s ‘Strictly’. What message do you have for our readers that are supporting you?
I just want to say thank you on behalf of myself and Lisa to everyone that is supporting Team RiRo. The response has been absolutely magnificent to last weekend. Keep supporting us and we’ll do the best job we can for you guys.
Team RiRo will be dancing the Viennese Waltz on this weekend’s instalment of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ which airs Saturday at 6.30pm on BBC One. Don’t forget you can follow them on Twitter @RobinWindsor and @RealLisaRiley