Reigning Strictly champ Ore Oduba recently returned to the show to perform his infamous jive. Here, the host of this week's National Lottery Awards reveals what he REALLY thinks of the class of 2017...
TV presenter Ore Oduba talks about his recent return to Strictly and how his latest project, The National Lottery Awards honours life's unsung heroes...
What was it like going back to perform on the Strictly launch show recently?
"It was amazing going back and the weird thing about the whole day is that it felt so normal. It was like we hadn't been away and that the Strictly final was only yesterday. I loved getting to perform my jive with Joanne [Clifton, Ore's partner from last series] again - just being back on that ballroom floor again was wonderful. And to be welcomed back by the same audience that voted for us to win last year was really touching. Though, fortunately, I didn't cry this time!"
Ore and Joanne recently returned to the Strictly dancefloor to perform their popular jive
Having done the show last year, can you understand how the Class of 2017 will be feeling? "Definitely. It was really lovely getting to spend a bit of time with the new 'cast' because we were in exactly the same position as them 12 months ago. What was really exciting for me to see is that all of them are going to go on this journey; they're all going have these highs and lows and they don't even know what's in store. And, obviously, one of them is going to win… just like I did."
What do you make of this year's line-up? "They’re a really good bunch and you can already see the closeness between them. I can't wait to see where they go from here and how the competition's going to unfold."
Who do you think has the potential to go all the way? "I'm not going to say because I know how much pressure they put on themselves and I think that's enough. I feel I've got this empathy with what everyone's going through and I know they'll read stuff and go: 'Oh, that person thinks I'm going to be good or that person thinks I'm going to be bad' and, when you read stuff like that, it adds extra pressure. So I'm just going to say that, as a collective, the Class of 2017 are going to be wonderful."
Ore is expecting big things for the 15 famous faces taking part in this year's Strictly
What advice would you give them to succeed in the competition? "I'd say to them that they've got to just go out there and enjoy it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn, to be among great people and to perform on a Saturday night. So they have to enjoy it because when it's over, it's over! Oh, and always listen to your dance partner – there's no winning that argument, it just makes things simpler!"
So, as they say on Strictly, after you won, did you ‘keeeeep dancing!?’ "I did actually. It is difficult to shoehorn it back in your day to day life. But Jo and I went recently to one of the big studios in London, so I've been with her. I’ve also been with Louise Redknapp and I’ve been a number of times on my own. I try to go whenever I can fit it in during the week."
So, you and Jo are still really close then? "Oh, so close. You don't sign up for Strictly thinking: 'I'm going to make a new best friend out of this programme', you go on to learn how to dance. But actually the best thing about doing Strictly was gaining Jo as a friend – we've got this amazing friendship, which means that even though our competition’s over, we can live Strictly forever."
As well as dancing, next Wednesday night, we'll see you hosting The National Lottery Awards on BBC1. Why were you keen to present the show? "I've been involved with the National Lottery for a number of years now and, what's lovely with these awards, is that most of the public probably aren't aware of the good that they're doing by buying a lottery ticket. Everybody wants to win a few quid but, actually, the money that's raised through the National Lottery goes to some fantastic causes and, on the night, we will be celebrating some incredible people and some amazing projects around the country that are bringing communities together."
Ore will be hosting glitzy The National Lottery Awards on Wednesday night
Is The National Lottery Awards a glamorous affair? "Yes! It is a glitzy, glamorous night and there's always a lovely turnout of well-known faces because they just want to lend their support really. Our celebrity guests, such as Hermione Norris, Bill Bailey and JJ Chalmers, visit these projects to surprise the award winners. It’s a huge deal for them because these celebrities are people that they see as inspirational and who they look up to. Now here the stars are, celebrating these everyday heroes! We just want to give them the stage for the night and say: 'Hey, these guys are awesome!'"
Can you tell us about any of the projects being honoured on the night? "Well, all of these celebrities have a connection to the project they’re honouring. So, JJ Chalmers is a TV presenter but he was also in the armed forces and he visits the winner of Best Voluntary Charity project, Bravehound. He’s knows exactly the impact that people make in helping ex-military personnel deal with conditions like PTSD. JJ knows more than most how PTSD can impact on a person and what a difference a group like Bravehound can make to individuals. So there will be some really touching moments on the night."
Do you play the lottery and what would you do with the money if you won? "Well, I'm always aware that the days of rain do come, so I'd probably just do something really sensible like put it away for child school fees or invest it in property. We love seeing new places, so we'd probably go away on holiday."
Would you buy a yacht? "Did you not see me in Hell on High Seas? Nooo…. Me and yachts are spending some time apart for now!"
Ore with wife Portia - the couple are currently expecting their first child
Your next major project is fatherhood! How are you feeling about becoming a dad? "I'm still speechless really. Myself and my wife Portia always wanted to start a family and there's a long road ahead but we're really excited. Of course, we feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility… but I'm more just grateful than anything. I've had a pretty insane 12 months and I've been very lucky, so let's just bring this baby into the world and keep riding this wave of fortune."
The National Lottery Awards – the annual search for the UK's favourite Lottery-funded projects – can be seen on Wednesday September 27 at 10.45pm on BBC1. To find out more visit www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk
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