Best known for playing Zainab Masood in EastEnders and for starring in classic comedy Goodness Gracious Me, Nina Wadia intends to bring the fun factor as one of the 15 famous faces who’ll be strutting her stuff on the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.
As the Class of 2021 get ready to meet their professional partners for the first time this Saturday night, here Nina, 52, reveals her hopes for the series - and how she really feels about being Strictly-fied…
Why did you want to take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2021?
"I want to learn how to dance! Like, really well! Genuinely, I just want to know how they do all these dances, how do you get everyone who actually doesn’t know how to do it, to do it. Same reason I did the memory show [C4’s Can I Improve My Memory?], I just wanted to improve on what I can do. I’ll be too old after this - I’m 52, and my joints hurt!"
How do you feel about being Strictly-fied?
"I hate it! I’m very much a t-shirt and jeans girl. When I played Zainab Masood in EastEnders, I was like, ‘Don’t worry about hair and make-up, just make Zainab as plain as possible’. I don’t like sitting in the make-up chair for too long, I don’t like people pulling on my hair, and shiny things just scratch me and irritate me - so Strictly is the best show for me to do, isn’t it, really? [laughs]"
Have any of your industry pals who’ve done Strictly given you any advice?
“I know Cath Tyldesley and Sunetra Sarker, who’ve done it and they’ve said it’s the hardest thing you will ever do, but you will also love every minute of it. And of course, loads of EastEnders’ stars have done it. I loved watching Jake Wood, I thought he was brilliant. I love that he threw himself into it. I remember Scott Maslen was filming EastEnders when he was on Strictly and he was exhausted. He would come into work looking absolutely half his size and shrivelled!”
How do you rate your dancing skills?
“I’m the type of person who, you put any song on at a wedding and I’m the first person on the dancefloor and the last one to get off. On Strictly, I can’t take all the glitz and glamour seriously but what I can take seriously is the actual technical stuff. I genuinely want to learn how to do these dances.”
What dance are you most looking forward to learning? And the least?
"The Argentine Tango - I just think it’s the sexiest dance I’ve ever seen. I’d love to learn how to do that. I’d love to learn how they stick their legs in all those different directions! I’m least looking forward to the waltz. It just looks really boring and slooooow! And holding your neck and head up, looks painful! So I’m not looking forward to the waltz."
We’re used to seeing you do comedy. Do you want to bring the fun factor to Strictly?
“I will take Strictly seriously, but I need to have the comedy in there in order to get through it. I want to do the best I can, but I want to have fun doing it. I’d rather have fun, whatever weeks I get, than a miserable run to the end. My aim is just to entertain everyone and enjoy every minute that I am given by the viewers.”
Strictly Come Dancing starts on Saturday September 18 at 7.45pm on BBC1.
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