Terrifying tangos… quivering quicksteps… spellbinding salsas… it can only mean one thing: It’s time for Strictly Come Dancing’s annual Halloween fright-fest!
With some out-of-this-world outfits, magical makeovers, and, of course, some fiendishly fabulous dancing, Halloween Week always serves up a spooktacular show.
For presenter and social-media influencer Tilly Ramsay — daughter of outspoken TV chef Gordon Ramsay — it seems competing on Strictly while studying at university isn’t daunting enough and she can’t wait to embrace the fear of its fang-tastic Halloween show.
In an exclusive interview, Tilly, 19, and her professional partner Nikita Kuzmin, 23, talk all about their journey so far, and reveal what really scares them about Strictly…
Tilly, how has your 'Strictly' experience been so far?
Tilly: "Strictly has been amazing, I mean it, truly amazing! The new friends, the live TV experience, the hair, make-up, costumes. Oh, and getting to learn to dance with the most incredible teacher in Nikita!"
What’s he like in training?
Tilly: "I feel like I’m going to use the word ‘amazing’ a lot in this interview, but he truly is amazing. He really knows when to push me hard and when to give me time and space. His patience and kindness to help me, a total beginner, learn new routines week after week is the perfect balance, with the drive to make me a better dancer and for us to improve our performances and techniques."
Nikita, what’s Tilly like as a student? And how are you enjoying your first year on 'Strictly'?
Nikita: "Tilly is a dream student. I couldn’t have wished for a better partner for my first year on Strictly. I’m enjoying every single moment. I thought it was going to be fun, but this is even more than I expected. I’m loving it!"
Tilly, has your dad stopped crying yet after seeing you perform on the show?
Tilly: "I still can’t believe he cried, he’s SOOO not that kind of guy! The whole family are so supportive and hopefully proud of me. Without their support really none of this would be possible."
How much are you looking forward to Strictly’s Halloween show? Are there any teasers you can give us about your performance?
Nikita: "I’m so excited for the Halloween show, the week we can combine the two things I love: Halloween and Strictly. How could it be better?"
Tilly: "The Halloween show is going to be epic! Strictly does themed weeks so brilliantly and we are completely overwhelmed to be taking part. But, no, we’re giving nothing away, you’ll have to tune in to watch!"
Not even just a tiny hint?
Nikita: "Oh, OK… It’ll be spooky!"
How much are you looking forward to getting into costume and make-up on the night?
Nikita: "The Strictly costume and make-up crew are the absolute best. I cannot wait to see what they have in store for us on Halloween."
Tilly: "It really is a highlight of the whole process whenever you get into hair and make-up. The glam team are insanely talented and the costume department are geniuses to create amazing costumes every week. I know they are all very excited about the Halloween Week costumes."
Who in the 'Strictly' cast — pro or celeb — do you think would give out the best goodies to trick-or-treaters?
Tilly: "Ooh, great question!! I think if you stopped by Aljaz and Janette’s house they would definitely have some spooky tricks ready to prank you with. Judi Love would be throwing a super fun party and I would have all the candy for everyone!"
Nikita: "I love Halloween but I’ve never been trick-or-treating. Looking forward to changing that, maybe this year?"
Which judge would you most like to take trick-or-treating?
Both: "Craig [Revel Horwood]!"
Tilly: "You’d have to take Craig. I’ve seen that he loves dressing up, so would totally get into costume."
Nikita: "Craig really knows how to get into character and I think we’d have just too much fun."
On a scale of 1-10, how scary is Craig?
Nikita: "I wouldn’t say he’s scary, maybe because I’m always looking forward to hearing his opinion on the dance. So I’d give him a scary-scale score of 3/10."
Tilly: "Oh, he would be a total 10 for me, for feeling all the fears!"
Have either of you ever seen a ghost? Do you think the 'Strictly' studio is haunted?
Nikita: "I’m very easily spooked. I’m a bit afraid of dark to be fair. I’ve never seen a ghost… and REALLY don’t want to! When the Strictly studio is empty and quiet, it is pretty scary. So, it might be haunted. Tune in on Saturday night to find out."
Who out of the Strictly cast is most likely to play a Halloween prank?
Tilly: "I think most of us would probably play great jokes on each other but [TV presenter] AJ Odudu has a fantastic, fun personality, so I reckon she would really go for it!"
And which ‘scaredy cat’ of the 'Strictly' cast would you love to see on a ghost train?
Nikita: "Tilly, definitely! She is so much fun, and so easy to scare!"
None of the couples want to be in the dance-off. On the results show, how scary is it waiting to hear if you’re through to the following week?
Tilly: "OMG it’s terrifying! That music, the atmosphere while you stand there waiting to hear your name be called. I can’t help but physically shake with fear, it’s so, so scary!"
Nikita: "It’s one of the worst feelings ever. We absolutely love to dance on the Strictly floor and not knowing if you’re gonna have a chance to dance ever again is really scary!"
Finally, what would it mean to you to win 'Strictly'?
Nikita: "Everything! It’s the final goal. To achieve something that you’ve wished for and work hard for all your life would mean absolutely everything!"
Tilly: "I’m trying not to think about that right now. Each week is a new dance and a new challenge. I’m trying to learn to dance for the first time, start my university studies and make my amazing teacher Nikita proud - so for now that’s enough."
Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturday at 7.10pm on BBC1.
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With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for WhatToWatch.com, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!