Brendan & co in ‘A Night To Remember’ • pic: Shane Finn

Strictly Unforgettable

13th February 2015

Once known as the ‘bad boy’ of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ – sometimes scathing, always outspoken and with a string of romances linked to his name – Brendan Cole now describes himself as ‘a slightly cheeky pretty normal fella’. He’s married, with a small child, and he’s just embarked on a 48 date tour of the UK and Ireland. Al Gordon caught up with him in a brief break in his hectic schedule, and managed to fire off ten quick questions…

What can the audience expect from your national tour, ‘A Night To Remember’?

I like to think everything!

It’s probably best described as An Evening With… full of live music from a phenomenal 14-piece band who are on stage with us, Latin and Ballroom dances from my superb eight-strong dance cast (four female dancers, three other male dancers and me) and some chat thrown in for good measure. It's a real variety type show with all you'd expect to see on Strictly, but more intimate as it’s geared for a live audience.

We have all of the dances you'd expect: Argentine Tango, Salsa, some beautiful Waltzes, Charleston, Quicksteps… they’re all there. I host the show and perform throughout. I love the fact that it’s very intimate between me, my cast and the audience.

When you were a child in New Zealand, was it always your ambition to become a dancer?

No, not growing up but, as you get older, opportunities present themselves and you make the decisions that are best for you at the time. I believe you create opportunities and it's whether or not you choose to take them which defines your path. I could have very easily stayed in New Zealand and created my life there but my dreams were bigger than that. I didn't know that it would be dance necessarily, I just knew I wanted more.

What is the best thing about touring – and what do you look forward to the most?

To me, the excitement of performing and having a reaction from a crowd is what I love best. I love looking out at the audience just before the show starts and seeing people’s anticipation of what they are about to see and then again at the end to see their reaction. To see people smiling, and discussing what they have just been a part of, is so satisfying.

I also look forward to hanging out with my cast. We have an incredible time together travelling around and performing… it’s always sad when it comes to an end. It’s like having a party that you really want to be at that lasts for more than two months and doesn’t get boring.

Was winning series 1 of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, alongside Natasha Kaplinsky, your greatest achievement in dance?

Thank you for remembering! Not my greatest achievement. no, although certainly a highlight. My greatest achievements in dance are definitely my shows. They’re not put on by a production company with me just coming in to headline, they are mine from start to finish creatively. I’m extremely proud of what my cast and I achieve.

I've had some magical moments on Strictly, though. Last year with Sophie Ellis-Bextor I did some of my finest work and making the final to me was a bigger achievement than winning. I was also ranked in the top 12 of the world competitively pre-Strictly which I am immensely proud of.

Do you have any pre-stage rituals to ensure that things go well for you in every venue?

Not too many. I generally try to get my adrenaline going which isn’t hard when you have an excited audience ready to
be entertained. I shake my legs as fast as I can and get myself pumped up, try to contain my excited grin and burst out!

Your shows are so wide-ranging – how do you begin to create the concept?

It’s a massive process. Myself, my musical Director Barry Robinson and my wife Zoe started throwing music ideas around whilst we were producing my show last year. As music choices begin to take shape, I start planning the running order and the logistics of getting on and off stage, costume changes etc. During this time, I start to think about my cast and who I would like to have join me whilst Barry does the same with our musicians. This year Fauve Hautot is back as my leading lady – she is amazing. Patrick Helm and Crystal Main are also back and then we have some new dancers who people may well recognise!!

Over the space of about ten months, the show takes shape. It’s a massive job and one that I am very hands on with.

Did you enjoy being judge of Dancing with the Stars’ in NZ?

I loved the role as judge – you never get voted off and you only work one day a week. I love that I'm a dancer on the show here but it's been fantastic to experience both sides.

It must be difficult being away from your family while you’re on tour. How do you cope, in order to concentrate on the job?

It's definitely hard but that’s part of the job and my wife Zoe is very supportive. Strictly is more challenging, being six and seven days a week for more than four months of the year. My tour only lasts a couple of months and I make sure I schedule two days off each week to spend with the family. I also ensure the cast have time for their bodies to recover as it’s a full on show.

What do you hope that the audience will take away from one of your live shows?

What I want is for them to be entertained from start to finish and to leave with a smile on their face. Hopefully they'll feel they have met the real me – a slightly cheeky pretty normal fella – and feel excited from having seen some magic on stage!

How do you plan on kicking back once this demanding 48-date tour is over?

Holiday! Sea, sun and lots of time with my beautiful family. The hardest thing is being away from them for long periods of a time, especially from my 2 year old daughter Aurélia.

Brendan Cole’s ‘A Night To Remember’
is at Watford Colosseum on Friday 20 February

See for more info

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