Greg Wise described his performance on Strictly Come Dancing as a “horrible feeling”, like a recurring anxiety dream, one of “those dreams when you’re on the Tube wearing nothing but a short vest”.
Last Saturday the 55-year-old actor danced the samba with Karen Hauer to Macarena by Los Del Rio and the best that could be said for it was that they got through it. With a wildly unflattering ruffled shirt, wrong feet, missteps, awkward touches – Greg’s dance hit all the wrong notes.
The couple lost the dance off to Judi Love and Graziano Di Prima and judge Anton De Beke said he “felt that the nerves got to both of the couples ... which is not surprising really, and they both made quite a lot of mistakes.”
But Newcastle-born actor Greg wrote in The Telegraph this week that he and Karen had the routine learned by Wednesday and had performed it perfectly in rehearsal 30 times, so the anxiety that ruined the performance was a shock.
He said: “I hadn’t felt any form of anxiety on any of the previous weeks, but for some reason I was very suddenly, very, very nervous as I stood on the ballroom floor waiting for the dance to be announced. I could hardly form a pucker to blow my conch.”
It’s a surprising revelation from an actor who has performed with poise and power in everything from The Crown, as Lord Mountbatten, to Johnny English and Sense & Sensibility but, as he wrote, “how odd is the human mind?”
Greg added that his acting skills had got him through the previous three weeks, “playing someone who knows how to dance”, but that could only get him so far.
“I have to be able to square up to the fact that I am not a dancer. Or, at least, not enough of one,” he said.
But he revealed that last Saturday would not be his final performance on the Strictly dance floor as he would definitely back for the group dance in the final in December.
He lavished praise on the show, which was more than a television programme – it was a “public service”.
“How it galvanises, and as the nights draw in, gives a chunk of our nation a bit of joyful fun and drama. I feel privileged to have been a part of that, albeit briefly."
Looking back at his tenure on the BBC One celebrity talent show, Greg was most proud of being able to focus attention on his late sister Clare, who died of bone cancer in 2016. He spoke with emotion about being her carer and was grateful to be able to raise “the uncomfortable subjects of death and grief on a glittery dance show”.
“I sat in the garden with a large whisky when I got home after the show and couldn’t quite believe what I’d just lived," he concluded. "As the adrenalin recedes, what is left is gratitude to all the people who make this show possible.”
Who will thrive and who won’t survive week five of Strictly Come Dancing? Watch on BBC One on Saturday at 7.15pm.
One couple who won’t appear is Judi and Graziano after the TV personality was ruled out following a positive test for Covid.
Others who won’t appear on Strictly this week are Greg's wife, Emma Thompson, and daughter, Gaia, who have been in the studio audience watching him every week.
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