Strictly Come Dancing judge CRAIG REVEL HORWOOD reveals why he fell in love ...

Strictly Come Dancing judge CRAIG REVEL HORWOOD reveals why he fell in love ...
Strictly Come Dancing judge CRAIG REVEL HORWOOD reveals why he fell in love ...

At home on the sofa, in isolation after testing positive for Covid, Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood had what can only be described as an epiphany about one of this year's more controversial celebrity contestants.

'I rather fell in love with Dan, and I didn't expect to,' he recalls.

'Looking at his dancing, I had no clue why people were voting for him before. But suddenly I thought, 'Oh, I see why - he's really sweet.' I learned a lot about why people vote for who they do.'

Dan, of course, is Dan Walker, the BBC breakfast show host turned Strictly contestant, whose gangly and wooden performances have earned him a place in the bottom three of the leaderboard for three consecutive weeks but who has, to date, miraculously escaped the dance-off.

Craig's conversion is particularly surprising given Dan was on the receiving end of some particularly harsh adjudication from the notoriously exacting judge.

While in isolation after testing positive for Covid, Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood (pictured) said he 'fell in love' with this year's controversial celebrity contestant Dan Walker

While in isolation after testing positive for Covid, Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood (pictured) said he 'fell in love' with this year's controversial celebrity contestant Dan Walker

It was Craig, after all, who awarded Dan and his professional partner Nadiya Bychkova's recent American Smooth a paltry four in contrast to the enthusiastic eights from his fellow judges - and one nine (from Anton du Beke.)

Last week, Craig – the only judge to have been in every show since Strictly started in May 2004 - was forced to miss filming for the first time in 17 years after testing positive for Covid.

It meant no scoring paddle for him: instead, he had to watch the Strictly contestants dance on television like the rest of us, an experience he describes as both surreal and illuminating.

'On one level it was a bit of an out of body experience,' he says. 'But it was enlightening. Becoming a punter meant I saw the show for the first time through the eyes of the audience and gained an entirely different appreciation for it.

'I saw stuff I never normally get to see - all the special effects but also the contestant videos and stories beforehand. I felt completely emotionally involved.'

For all he enjoyed this new perspective, 56-year-old Craig is champing at the bit to get back to the judge's hotseat on Saturday after emerging from isolation on Wednesday.

'Missing the show was quite alarming for me because I never miss work,' he says of his enforced stint at home near Rutland Water which he shares with horticulturalist fiancé Jonathan Myring.

Resolutely double-jabbed – 'why people are up in arms about it I have no idea' he says of the vaccine refuseniks - Craig says he's enormously grateful for what he sees as the protective bubble the vaccine has given to him and others.

BBC breakfast show host Dan's (pictured) whose gangly and wooden performances on Strictly have earned him a place in the bottom three of the leaderboard for three consecutive weeks

BBC breakfast show host Dan's (pictured) whose gangly and wooden performances on Strictly have earned him a place in the bottom three of the leaderboard for three consecutive weeks

'A lot of my friends got Covid last year before the vaccination programme and one ended up almost hospitalised,' he says.

'He was the same age as me, and that's scary, but now because of the vaccine and boosters, people are a lot more protected. I didn't get it badly – I felt like I just had a small cold - and I think that proves that the vaccine is working. I could have been really ill.'

Craig tested positive for Covid the day before he was booked to have his booster jab nearly two weeks ago. He had recorded the November 13 episode of Strictly the previous evening but awoke having lost his sense of smell and taste.

'I did a lateral flow which was positive, then I did the PCR test and that came back positive, so then obviously I had to isolate for 10 days,' he says.

Marooned at home, he confides that instead of climbing the walls with boredom he used the enforced time off to paint them.

'I literally was painting the walls,' he laughs. 

'I got five coats of fabulous paint on my cupboards, too. I took all the drawers off. I changed all the knobs. And my food was delivered to my bedroom door by my lovely, Jonathan - thank goodness he was here to look after me.'

One reason he's nesting is that he has a new home: earlier this year Craig relocated to Rutland Water from his previous home in Hampshire to be close to his fiancé's family and seems to have fallen in love with his new home county.

'I love it, it's absolutely stunning,' he says. He and Jonathan – who proposed on a holiday in Tanzania shortly before the first national lockdown last year – are planning to get married locally, although plans to wed next year have been put back until August 2023.

Craig's comments are surprising as Dan was given harsh adjudication from the judge, who is due to start rehearsing for his part as the wicked stepmother in a new production of Cinderella

Craig's comments are surprising as Dan was given harsh adjudication from the judge, who is due to start rehearsing for his part as the wicked stepmother in a new production of Cinderella

'We can't get a marquee until then,' laughs Craig. 'It's so hard because everyone has postponed their weddings so it's impossible to get things. We decided to allow ourselves some time.'

Craig is particularly thrilled by the warm reception given by

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