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‘Terrifying’: Strictly star Kaye Adams on her fear of performing live on television

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Kaye Adams mocked over school photo on Loose Women

“The fear I felt for this is in a league of its own,” she admits. “It was a feeling of dread. The two nights before the first live show I couldn’t sleep. I was terrified. I have been scared before – Margaret Thatcher was a huge one – and then I presented Central Weekend, which was a big, live debate show, which I’d always wanted to do.

“I was nervous and I can remember pacing up and down beforehand, but those things are in my line of work, whereas Strictly Come Dancing is completely outside my expertise.

“I’ve never regretted it, it’s an incredible opportunity and it’s a great joy to be surrounded by really talented people who love what they do, but when you are in that moment on the dance floor it’s incredibly exposing. You’re going to stand there and be judged on how you look, how you move and how you come across; it’s a bit like a Roman circus.”

Despite her fears, Kaye and partner Kai Widdrington danced a sultry Tango that earned them 21 points on the leaderboard, including a surprise six from notoriously difficult to please judge Craig Revel Horwood.

Before the show, Kaye, 59, was dreading Strictly’s sexier dances and being given the Tango as her opening routine did not help. “I was waiting on stage, standing in my dress with my fake drink thinking: ‘Oh my God, this looks like Grab a Granny night!” she laughs.

“But my worries don’t stop me going out. I’m a confident person and I’m not looking to seduce anyone; it’s not really a set of skills that I need at this point in my life!”

Kaye Adams says Strictly debut was the ‘scariest moment of her life and career’ (Image: BBC)

It’s left to Kaye’s partner, Kai, to ease the dance out of his nervous partner.

He says: “She was absolutely petrified, but you have to remember that Kaye has never danced in her life and she was about to do something in front of ten million people, so I understand the nerves.

“It took a lot of courage, so for me it’s a case of building up her confidence and making her believe that she can do it. And she’s so determined – I don’t think I’ve seen this level of perseverance from anyone I’ve taught before.

“We’re supposed to start training at 10am and she gets there at 9am to get in an hour’s practice before I arrive. Even though she puts herself down in a humorous way, she really does try hard.”

This week Kaye and Kai are dancing a Charleston. But while it’s Kaye’s favourite dance, the training has been even tougher and on Thursday evening she noticed a bruising on her ribs during a challenging lift and headed to the Strictly physio.

Meanwhile her right shoulder and right leg have both had to be strapped this week.

Kaye and partner Kai Widdrington danced a sultry Tango that earned them 21 points on the leaderboard

Kaye and partner Kai Widdrington danced a sultry Tango that earned them 21 points on the leaderboard (Image: BBC)

Kaye says: “I felt pain doing a lift and was sent to see the physio. Apparently, I’ve strained my intercostal muscle. I’m wearing tape across my ribs because I think it looks really cool, I don’t think it’s actually doing anything, I just quite like to think of myself as an athlete!”

The pair are hoping that the injury won’t affect their performance on the night. Kai promises: “We’re throwing everything at it. There are lifts, she’ll be thrown around the room and she’s smacking my bum – expect nothing short of Cirque du Soleil meets Strictly Come Dancing. It will be the wow moment of the evening!”

Calm and cheerful and with a self-deprecating sense of humour, Kaye has been a popular presenter on our screens for decades.

She’s been a panellist on Have I Got News for You, took part in both Celebrity MasterChef and Celebrity Mastermind and recently launched her own podcast How To Be 60, where she interviews a host of celebrity guests on their attitudes to ageing.

But it is Loose Women – the show she joined at its launch in 1999 – for which she is best-known.

“I absolutely love Loose Women and I’ll stay as long as they’ll have me,” she says. “I’ve been there 22 years. If I didn’t like it, I’d have walked away years ago, but it’s part of who I am.”

Dance isn’t part of who Kaye is however and by her own admission she’s barely set foot on a dance floor since she was five, when a dance teacher branded her ‘kipper feet’ and asked Kaye’s mum to remove her from the class.

She credits partner Kai with having instilled her with the confidence to try again.

“He’s even-tempered, good-humoured, patient, professional and a brilliant dancer. I really couldn’t have wished for a better partner,” she says.

“He does push me – he’s not a soft touch – but he’s never lost his temper, I do not know why. Maybe he does, maybe he goes to the bathroom and thumps his head against the wall, but he certainly doesn’t let it show.”

Kaye lives in Glasgow with her tennis coach partner Ian and their two daughters, Charly, 20, and Bonnie, 16, but she reveals they won’t be in the Strictly studio audience watching her this weekend.

“They’re too busy to come!” she laughs. “Ian’s got a tennis final, Bonnie’s got a party and Charly is at university.

“We’re really close and they’re very supportive and enthusiastic, but they’re not showbiz kids. Bonnie is at school, she’s studying for her exams and like every other teenager she’s more concerned about what party is on at the weekend.

“But they watched it on TV and they were impressed. They were prepared for the worst and girding their loins – ‘oh my God, what are we going to say to her if it’s a disaster?’ So I think they were pleasantly surprised and thought – ‘That wasn’t as bad as it could have been!’”

When her Strictly journey ends, Kaye is planning to devote more time to her podcast and perhaps try any other new challenges that come her way.

She explains: “My podcast How To Be 60 is the first thing I’ve done where I’ve taken ownership and that’s a nice feeling. It’s very much me. With television and radio, you’ve got management and all sorts of different people who have an opinion on what should and shouldn’t go in the show, so it’s nice to do something that I take control over.

“Apart from that, my main ambition at this age is very much not to get stuck. I don’t want to be one of those people who do what they do because they’ve always done it. I want to keep changing, I want to do new things, I want to keep learning new things, I want to keep meeting new people and I want to stay interested in life.”

Meanwhile however far she goes in Strictly she says the experience has changed her for the better. “All those years I spent not dancing at weddings and parties and just standing at the bar saying: ‘I can’t dance’ – it was a waste,” she reflects.

“Because whether I could or couldn’t dance, I should have just got up there and enjoyed it, like everybody else. I now realise that.”

So will Kaye now be the first to hit the dance floor whenever she gets the chance? “Oh no, because everyone will expect me to do the bloody Tango, won’t they?” she laughs.

“Can you imagine the reaction I’d get to that at a Glasgow wedding!”

  • Strictly Come Dancing is on BBC1 tonight at 6.30pm. Kaye Adams: How To Be 60 is available on all good podcast players, including Apple and Spotify.

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