As the new series launches tonight, reigning champion Bill Bailey shares his top tips with this year’s celebrities on how to snare that famous glitterball...DISCARD YOUR INHIBITIONS WITH A SPRAY TAN
One of the many firsts I experienced on Strictly was my first spray tan. Stepping shirtless, sockless and trouserless into a pop-up tanning booth was a bit of a shock. For starters, I was not prepared for how cold the tanning spray gun is. It’s like standing naked in a one-person marquee in the prow of a speedboat in rough sea and emerging as buffed and bronzed as Captain Ahab.
Well, I say naked — you can go commando if you like, but I am a little too prudish for that. For the men at least, the only visible tanned areas are above the waist, so I saw no need for all-over tanning — and the thought of having to is making me shudder...
I was more comfortable about wearing make-up after years of filming, but another first was the application of eyeliner, or as it’s called for men, ‘guyliner’
Judicious application of make-up was part of a wider lesson about Strictly; that what seems too much actually looks good on TV
I was more comfortable about wearing make-up after years of filming, but another first was the application of eyeliner, or as it’s called for men, ‘guyliner’. There is something ancient about this, as it recalled to me the many dark-lined eyes of ancient Egypt, on the Pharaoh’s minions. They weren’t dancing the jive though.
Judicious application of make-up was part of a wider lesson about Strictly; that what seems too much actually looks good on TV. Although it might raise an eyebrow when you stop for crisps at the all-night garage on the way home.
Bill Bailey celebrates with a bottle of champagne in his Strictly dressing room
In fact, it was only in a couple of dances that the make-up featured heavily, and each time it enhanced the look immeasurably. The most striking of these transformations was when we danced the Argentine tango to the Phantom Of The Opera soundtrack.
Initially, I wore a mask in rehearsals, to get used to the sensation. But after many incidents of the mask catching on Oti’s hair, or her costume, or it slipping over my face, or me sweating underneath it, and trying to swipe it away mid dance, it was decided that it should be replaced with make-up. The final effect, expertly applied, solved the problem and looked great . . . so much so, viewers assumed it was indeed a mask.BECOME ONE WITH YOUR SHOES . . . LIKE A HOBBIT
They may be soft on the sole, but they’re as hard as Wolverine’s claws on the heel — so there will be blisters
Dance shoes are specialist bits of kit that have to be ordered in, and my patent ballroom dance shoes are like nothing I’ve ever worn.
They may be soft on the sole, but they’re as hard as Wolverine’s claws on the heel — so there will be blisters. You can’t avoid them, so get hold of some blister plasters, pronto.
The first few weeks will be painful . . . and you just have to smile through it. These pro dancers are as smooth, graceful and bendy as sparkly manta rays, they smile and laugh often, but no amount of whimpering will elicit an ounce of sympathy from them, and rightly so.
The best thing is to wear them around the house to break them in — and don’t be afraid to ask for different sizes. There’s quite a bit of give in them, and they do stretch — what you don’t want is them to be at all loose-fitting.
They should become part of you, so you forget you are wearing shoes, and just imagine you have leathery feet like some sequinned, waltzing hobbit.FAMILY SUPPORT WAS KEY TO MY VICTORY
I wasn’t to know it at the start, but my Strictly experience would last many weeks. And to stay fit and healthy, and maintain equanimity, you need great support from your family. Very quickly, my routine took on a much greater significance.
My teenage son, Dax, was sceptical about my involvement in the show, but when he saw the work that went in and the skills I was acquiring, he became quietly impressed — although with each week he became more amazed that I hadn’t fallen over yet.
My wife Kris’s renowned cooking skills now became a necessity. She was behind me the whole way, encouraging me, supporting me, and was a massive part of my success.
Every night after training, I would arrive home a wreck, hardly able to open the car door, and stagger to the house. Once inside, I was presented with a cold drink and a tasty home-cooked meal. I can’t tell you how important that is.THERE’S NOTHING BETTER THAN A BATH
As I lay in the bath before