Kevin Clifton was one of the hottest male pros in his rookie year last year and he’s kicked off the 2014 series of Strictly Come Dancing proving that he means business.
Dancing with Frankie Bridge from The Saturdays, Kevin worked his magic and landed the pair of them at the top of the week 1 leaderboard. Their waltz was beautiful and won much acclaim from the judges.
Ahead of week 2, we caught up with Kevin just before he’s about to step onto the ballroom for tonight’s live show to talk about week 1, find out about his week 2 Charleston and discuss Frankie’s ankle injury.
Congratulations on topping the leaderboard in week 1 with your waltz. How did that feel?
It was absolutely incredible. It was more than we could have ever expected. Frankie was really nervous going into it and during rehearsals she was very nervous about that but she kept encouraging herself.
We had a bit of a nightmare when we first went on the live show. We waved our hands at the top of the stairs and the wardrobe department noticed that my pits were sweating through my shirt so they rushed me down to wardrobe to sow some things into the armpits of my shirt. I was aware that Frankie was left all on her own up in Claudia’s area and I was saying ‘Frankie needs me!’ and getting all stressed out about it. I walked out to Claudia’s area and told Frankie ‘sorry’ and she looked at me and said ‘it’s OK, it’s totally fine’.
A couple of numbers before our dance we had a quick practice down the back. When it got the actual performance she was absolutely amazing and she danced it the best she’d danced it at any point.
The judges commented on how effortless and beautiful Frankie was. We know that she was really nervous before the show so that must have been a big confidence boost for her?
Yeah really nervous. She just didn’t know how it was going to go but she danced it so nicely and calmly. We couldn’t believe it when Len said it was the best dance of week 1 and to be top of the leaderboard…we were so happy. Hopefully that’s a big confidence booster for the two of us.
Does starting the series at the top of the leaderboard add even more pressure for you this week?
That’s the thing. I hope that people don’t expect too much. We’ve got a completely different dance this week and we’re doing the Charleston, which is all energy whereas the waltz was slow and elegant. I was just saying to Frankie that all we’ve got to do is do the best that we can do and not worry about people’s expectations or what the judges might say. We’ve just got to do the best that we can and whatever’s going to happen is going to happen.
The Charleston is a mean dance to have to perform in week 2. How is Frankie getting to grips with that?
At first it was pretty tough. I’m really enjoying it now and Frankie, as she did with the waltz, has just worked and worked at it and she’s got it to a place now where I think she’s having a lot more fun with it. She’s brilliant to work with and she works really heard but yes it is a mean dance to do week 2. Our routine is really full on so it’s quite exhausting.
We heard that Frankie hurt her ankle during training this week. Has she fully recovered from that now?
Yeah she’s ok. It was my fault actually. We’ve got quite a difficult lift in our routine. We did this lift where Frankie flips over my back and because I didn’t get enough height on it as I was meant to, she came down on it quite hard and at a funny angle on her ankle and she just went down on the floor. I just thought ‘no, no, no!’ She’s ok and it was just a sprain so she’s ok.
Is Frankie looking forward to showing off more of her personality in the Charleston?
We’ll see the happy and goofy side of Frankie now. The first week was all about being soft, romantic and elegant and now she’s getting to have some fun. She’s like that in training, all fun and goofiness. It’s like real Frankie coming out now (laughs).
Now that Frankie has tackled a Ballroom routine and is about to do Latin tonight, is she coping better with one than the other or is she doing well with both?
I think she’s loving doing both. The two dances are at complete opposite ends of the spectrum and I think she’s absolutely smashed both of them!
Strictly Come Dancing continues at 6.20pm on BBC One tonight. Watch Kevin and Frankie’s leaderboard topping waltz below: