Ipswich: Strictly Confidential, Lisa Riley returns to the dancefloor

Lisa Riley is starring in Strictly Confidential which is playing at Ipswich Regent Theatre on July 6

Lisa Riley is starring in Strictly Confidential which is playing at Ipswich Regent Theatre on July 6. For more info visit www.strictlyconfidentialtour.com. Pictures: Guy Levy - Credit: Archant

She was the undoubted star of last year’s Strictly Come Dancing, now she’s coming to Ipswich. Entertainment writer WAYNE SAVAGE talks to actress Lisa Riley about why she can’t say goodbye to the dance floor and what notorious judge Craig Revel Horwood is really like.

Natalie Lowe, Artem Chigvintsev, Lisa Riley and Ian Waite in Strictly Confidential

Natalie Lowe, Artem Chigvintsev, Lisa Riley and Ian Waite in Strictly Confidential - Credit: Archant

AMAZING. He’s as soft as butter you know,” says Lisa, of her current boss Craig. “Throughout the whole series we hit it off. It was really weird because when I first got paired in the show he said ‘oh Robin Windsor good luck’ and I think that’s what the whole nation thought.

“After our first dance he said ‘you can dance’ and that’s become one of the most famous quotes in Strictly history which was great. I think he loves how camp I am and how I just love performing - it’s in my blood, it’s what I do, it’s where I’m happiest.”

New show Strictly Confidential, written and directed by Craig and also featuring professional dancers Artem Chigvintsev, Natalie Lowe and Ian Waite, gives you the chance to get up close and personal with some of the stars of the hit BBC One show.

They will take fans on an intimate journey into their backgrounds and motivation live on stage, providing a personal insight into what led them to their Strictly Come Dancing adventure and what happens behind the scenes, told through music, song and dance.

“When I first signed up to Strictly I had no idea I’d be able to ballroom dance, so I was thrilled to be asked to do the live tour. Being able to be a part of Strictly Confidential as well is such a great opportunity and I’m really looking forward to continue working with Craig, Artem, Natalie and Ian,” says Lisa, best known for her role in Emmerdale, who will be singing during the show too.

“They say once you’re in the Strictly family you’re there for life. It’s something I’m desperately proud of, it gives you confidence and you learn a skill you didn’t know you could do. When Artem starts teaching me there’s going to be even more things I’m going to learn and that’s even more exciting... I always say the day you stop learning is the day you should stop your job.”

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Signing up for the TV show, Lisa didn’t think she’d get further than one ballroom and one Latin dance.

“I think people put me in a bracket but Robin (her Ipswich-born professional dance partner) kept saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. People thought I was going to be a Ann Widdecombe or a John Sergeant. On the morning of the pairing show the bookies had me at 88-1 and the second me and Robin danced it was 6-1.

“People saw that I never stopped trying and I looked like I was enjoying myself. That was what I was taught at drama school, if you’re enjoying being on a stage or in front of a camera then hopefully everyone at home will be.

“Robin used to say to me about not being competitive and I swore to myself when I got Strictly I was going to be myself - if you see me in a wine bar or see me on Strictly I’m exactly the same.

“I couldn’t be competitive, but I think in a way that was a good thing because people saw that just by being yourself and doing something you love you can get far without being ‘I want to win, win, win’.”

She has so many favourite memories of her time on the show, but one in particular stands out. Wembley Arena.

“Bruce couldn’t speak. We opened Wembley and that was why we both cried because... you couldn’t even bottle that feeling when Bruce Forsyth, who’s like the biggest legend in the world, can’t even say the opening link because everyone’s shouting mine and Robin’s name. I’ll never have an experience like that in my life.”

Speaking of Robin, she must be missing the chance to dance on stage with him again?

“I was out with him last night funnily enough and we’re going on a holiday in the summer so I think it’s proof in the pudding that what everyone saw, that we were so close and that camaraderie we had was completely true. I’ve got a friend for life and I’m so pleased for that.

“He’s doing really well, he’s in the West End doing Burn The Floor and I’ve been to see it loads. He’s going to come and see me in Confidential, but I’m really excited about dancing with Artem.

“I’ve danced with him before... on Wembley week when Robin got food poisoning I had Artem as my tutor. We’ve done the training for this and he’s a great tutor, I love his passion for dance and the way he teaches. I’ve just got to make him a little bit more camp that’s all. I can do that it’s no bother don’t you worry,” laughs Lisa.

Fans can expect some standout moments from her run on the show, such as her foxtrot and cha cha cha. She’s also going to be dancing to one of her mum’s favourite songs.

“That’s going to have a really big place in my heart as well; I’m very much looking forward to that. We’re not telling anyone (what the song is), you’ll have to come and see it and then you’ll know. It’ll be a really beautiful moment.”

Any message for audiences?

“As you’ve been so loyal to me and Robin throughout the whole series it’s my way of saying thank you so much and I’d love to be able to show my passion of dance so please come along and see us.”

It wouldn’t be Strictly without a final word from Craig.

“It’s exciting to give fans an autobiographical take on this hit show, while also incorporating some of the shows favourite moments. I’ve been working on Strictly Confidential for a while now and it’s a dream that everything is all coming together.”

Strictly Confidential visits Ipswich’s Regent Theatre on July 6 and Southend’s Cliffs Pavilion on June 20-22.

Also interviewed online, Strictly stars Katya Virshilas and Pasha Kovalev.

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