‘Aston was robbed when he was voted off’ - Dancing trio talk Strictly as Rip It Up tour comes to East Anglia
- Credit: RYAN X HOWARD
With Strictly Come Dancing back tonight, we spoke to champions Harry Judd and Louis Smith MBE and people’s champion Aston Merrygold who have teamed up for the jukebox theatre show Rip It Up, touring the region next month.
With Strictly Come Dancing’s return at the weekend, we spoke to champions Harry Judd and Louis Smith MBE and people’s champion Aston Merrygold who have teamed up for the jukebox theatre show Rip It Up, touring the region next month.
The judges’ decision to take Aston, considered one of the best celebrity dancers in Strictly history, and his professional dancer partner Janette Manrara off the show after week six was one of the BBC series’ biggest upsets. Harry and Louis, however, have Aston’s back.
“Aston going out when he did was a joke, really. He has got some unfinished business on the dancefloor so he will be showing everyone who comes to see us on this tour exactly what they missed in the later stages of Strictly.
There is no doubt he can do it. He is a great mover,” says McFly drummer Harry, who won in 2011 with Aliona Vilani. Voted the best ever Strictly winner in a nationwide poll before winning that year’s Strictly Christmas Special with Joanna Clifton, he knows what he’s talking about.
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Sporting superstar Louis, who lifted the Glitterball trophy in 2012 with Flavia Cacace and won the Strictly Christmas Special in 2014 with Aliona Vilani, says his old friend Aston was robbed.
“He definitely deserved one. Aston is an extremely talented dancer.”
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The JLS star admits having his Strictly journey cut short makes joining Rip It Up particularly appealing.
“One hundred per cent. It’s unfinished business. That’s the best way to put it. My run on Strictly felt like it was cut a bit too short for myself, just because there were certain things I expected from myself and wanted to achieve.
“I also wanted to try to learn. This way I get the best of both. With Rip It Up I get to perform every single night and I only have to do one lot of rehearsals and wrack my brain a little bit.”
Everybody presumes he’s a trained dancer and that he can dance, when he’s actually as rough around the edges as anyone else out there having never had any formal training.
“Strictly was my first ever sample of training ever. People get training and experience mixed-up. No one has told me ‘this is right’ and ‘this is wrong’. Before, I just got up on stage and did it.”
Aston - who scored five UK Number one singles, sold 10 million records worldwide and received two Brit Awards and five Mobo Awards with JLS - has a secret weapon in the shape of his fiancé Sarah, a trained dancer, giving him some help behind-the-scenes.
“Yes, definitely, 100% She was a big part of the Strictly process. As much as I had Janette, Sarah was there when I took the video home and she’s got a killer eye for that. She is probably one of the most incredible dancers in the commercial dance industry, so I’m just lucky enough that she’s my partner at the same time.”
Their son, Grayson Jax, may be able to succeed where his dad didn’t, already showing some talent for throwing shapes.
“Oh yes, the energy has already been shown. I think me and Sarah are going to be in for a bumpy ride,” he laughs. “He responds really well to music.”
A disagreement over their costumes for this tour aside - “It’s all about the slick and suave stuff all the way now. None of that Strictly glitter for this,” says Aston. While Louis says: “Being focused on the 1960s, I think they are going to be a bit more garish than last year.” - all agree the music will be great.
Following the smash hit success of Rip It Up’s 1950s-themed debut last year, selling more than 50,000 tickets across the UK; the 2018 tour sees Harry, Aston and Louis dance their way through many of the hits from a defining decade for music.
Backed by a live band and a supporting cast of singers and dancers, they will perform to songs from British legends like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, the Bee Gees, Small Faces and The Kinks to American superstars such as The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, The Byrds, The Doors, The Mamas and The Papas and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to name a few.
“Listen, anything by James Brown is always going to be good. I will definitely be trying to do a couple of my Brown moves. I will be reaching for that and saying we have to put a few of those tunes in. For me, that’s the life and soul of the 1960s,” says Aston.
For Harry, it’s The Beatles and The Beach Boys.
“I certainly grew up listening to a lot of music from the 1960s, so it feels very natural for me to be tying into that music. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Louis loves Motown and swing which blended into last year’s theme.
“There’s a lot I like from Elvis Presley, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations... all of that music is right up my street, so I’m really looking forward to rocking it out.”
Apart from dancing, we may also hear Harry and Louis sing too.
“I always played drums. We will see, though; I am up for trying all sorts of things out for the show,” laughs the former.
“I don’t know if I am singing,” adds the latter. “I want to get my stamp on the show and I am sure they are going to try to persuade me.”
• See Rip It Up at King’s Lynn Corn Exchange, October 20; Southend’s Cliffs Pavilion, October 21; Ipswich’s Regent Theatre, October 23 and Cambridge Corn Exchange, October 27.