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Bill Bailey: How I proved the dad dancing Strictly sceptics wrong

Bill Bailey Strictly Launch Show
(Image credit: BBC)

Comedian Bill Bailey looks ahead to Strictly Come Dancing's glittering grand final…

Bill Bailey has given us plenty of memorable performances throughout Strictly 2020. Whether it's his jaunty quickstep or THAT street-dance routine, the comedian - and star of Sky1’s In The Long Run - has kept us thoroughly entertained.

Christmas TV comes with lots of added sparkle this season as there’s not one but TWO helpings of Strictly Come Dancing.

First up on Saturday night is the grand final, where the remaining four celebs - EastEnders' Maisie Smith, Made in Chelsea's Jamie Laing, comedian Bill and pop star HRVY - will be putting their best foot forward for the chance to lift the coveted glitterball trophy.

There’s no traditional Strictly Christmas special this year but in its place will be Strictly: The Christmas Countdown, a special programme revealing the 25 most memorable dance routines from the past 16 years of the show.

Here Bill Bailey, 55, looks back on his Strictly journey…

How much have you enjoyed doing Strictly?

Bill Bailey: "It's been an amazing experience, a bit of a whirlwind and I’ve been dazed by the public’s reaction. I can understand why people might have assumed I’d be this year’s ‘comedy act’ but almost out of respect for my dance partner Oti [Mabuse], I wanted to take it seriously and give 100 per cent. Watching back clips of me doing the quickstep, for example, I’m thinking: ‘Is that really me?’"

What’s been your highlight?

BB: "I’d say our street-dance routine to Sugar Hill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight was a real high point. Although, I kept hearing afterwards people saying how well I’d danced ‘for my age’ and thinking: ‘Hold on, I’m 55, not 90!’ Do people just expect me to sit in a pub drinking real ale, reading magazines about tractors? I think there's a general self-consciousness about older men making fools of themselves on the dance floor and that classic thing about ‘dad dancing’. But I had a bit more swagger, I think."

Bill Oti Strictly rappers delight

Bill proved one to watch with this slick street-dance routine to Sugar Hill Gang's Rapper's Delight...

Have you allowed yourself to think about lifting the glitterball trophy?

BB: "No, I haven’t yet but I would love to win, of course. It would be wonderful… and certainly unexpected! I do hope I’m doing something for the slightly older dancer in saying: ‘Don’t give up, you're capable of much more than you imagine.’ Age is just a number and, with a bit of perseverance, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be getting on that dance floor for years to come. I mean, Strictly’s catchphrase is ‘Keep Dancing’, so why shouldn’t you?"

Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse

All smiles: Bill with his pro dance partner Oti, who won last year with actor Kelvin Fletcher...

Looking ahead to Christmas, what might you buy Oti as a Christmas present?

BB: "Oti and I first met at London Wetland Centre, which is a favourite haunt of mine; my father and I usually go there on Boxing Day, take our binoculars and have a look at a few of the wintering birds. When I was there with Oti, she kept saying: ’What’s that bird?’ So, I’m going to get her a pair of binoculars to get her into bird-watching. She’s taught me to dance, now I can teach her something."

Do you like Christmas and do you have a favourite Christmas memory from childhood?

BB: "I love Christmas. Getting a guitar one year as a kid was a very significant Christmas present and probably sparked a lifetime of interest in playing guitar and music generally. I have very fond memories of family Christmases as a child with myself, my cousins, my grandparents, my mum and dad, and my aunts and uncles all around a piano, singing and playing instruments. We were like the Von Trapps!"

Strictly Class of 2020

The Strictly Come Dancing: The Final can be seen on Saturday December 19 at 6pm on BBC1. Strictly Come Dancing: The Christmas Countdown airs on Christmas Day at 4.45pm on BBC1.