As the stage is set for the semi-final of Strictly Come Dancing, Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice look back on their Strictly journey…
Having swapped Downing Street for the dancefloor, Good Morning Britain's political editor Ranvir Singh has certainly been pushed out of her comfort zone on Strictly Come Dancing.
Bursting into the ballroom with a fiery Paso Doble in the very first week, Ranvir quickly surprised herself by becoming one of the favourites to lift Strictly's coveted glitterball trophy, thanks in large part to her magnetic on-screen partnership with Italian pro-dancer Giovanni Pernice.
With the stage set for the semi-final on Saturday night, all the remaining celebrities will be pulling out all the stops to make it past this crucial hurdle to next week’s Grand Final.
We chatted to Ranvir Singh, 43, and Giovanni, 30, about their Strictly story…
We adore your partnership on Strictly. Ranvir, what makes Giovanni a great teacher? And, Giovanni, what makes Ranvir a star pupil?
Ranvir: "Giovanni is very determined and has a really strong vision of what the end product should look like. His energy is so strong that it sort of carries you along because he doesn't rest until something is as good as he wants it to be or as good as he thinks I can make it. He just wants me to shine as much as he thinks I can - often he believes more in what I can do, than I do!" Giovanni: "Ranvir really puts the hours in in training, alongside the job that she does, plus she's a mum, which means she has a big job and a full life. But she’s listened to me and, every week, she’s delivered the best performance she can. It’s nice spending time in the training room together because she's very determined to make sure we deliver a good performance."
Ranvir, do you feel you’ve really grown in confidence during your time on Strictly?
Ranvir: "Well, I think you always have to dig deep because it's always a new process on the Monday of learning something completely new and unlearning things from the week before, so you know your body has thought about one thing but then you have to think about something else. I couldn't have imagined all those weeks ago that I’d come from nothing and then start doing all these things. It's been quite a revelation really."
Giovanni: "If you ask me what’s the best routine we've done this series I’d say the foxtrot. But, for me, it’s not just about the dancing. It’s the fact that Ranvir’s confidence has really grown more than anything else."
Ranvir, would you say there was a turning point for you in the competition?
Ranvir: "The week of the cha-cha-cha I found exceptionally tough, so it was quite overwhelming to be voted through by the viewers. Even though I’d found it a real struggle and I knew it wasn’t technically good, that gave me a reassurance that I’d persevered, got there and done it, which lifted that inner pressure you put on yourself that can sometimes push out the joy. From that point, that sense of feeling overwhelmed and nervous lifted. It was a wonderful feeling."
We understand you've also dropped two dress sizes since being on Strictly…
Ranvir: "I know, it’s amazing! I wouldn't necessarily recommend the routine to anybody out there. I mean, it’s not normal. In my day job I'm very static, you know, behind the desk or stood still in front of a camera. But, doing Strictly, you’re on the move a LOT. And it’s a lot more fun than going to the gym, that’s for sure!"
Do you enjoy Strictly's themed weeks? We had Musicals Week most recently…
Giovanni: "I LOVE musicals! I’ve seen all the musicals in the West End. Musicals has always been one of my favourite weeks on Strictly, just because we get to play a character. The routine for this series meant a lot to me because it's from one of my favourite musicals, so I was looking forward to enjoying the storytelling of the dance." Ranvir: "The themed weeks are fun because hair, makeup and costume go all out because you're creating a character that people at home will recognise. That really helps in the dance actually as you’re being transported somewhere else. I’ve enjoy tapping into the acting side to sell the story."
Ranvir, before Strictly launched you described being a finalist as ‘a crazy thought’. Have you allowed yourself to think about lifting the glitterball trophy?
Ranvir: "Our focus has always just been on the next dance. And I think that’s the best way to be because, as we’ve seen, anything can happen in any given week. So you've just got to try and do the best performance you can on the night, then it’s in the hands of the viewers. So I'm not really looking at the end goal. The 'end goal' for me is to do a great performance on Saturday and to give people a great show. It’s an enormous privilege to be part of Strictly any year but, even more so, this year. You don't take any time you're here for granted, so anything is an absolute bonus!"
How do each of you hope to spend Christmas?
Giovanni: "Hopefully I can go back to see my family in Italy, otherwise I’m spending it here in England. It all depends on what I'm allowed to do!" Ranvir: "I’ll be spending it with my son and my family, depending on how many people we can have around on Christmas Day. The priority for me is to make Christmas special for my son because, bless his heart, he’s seen mummy dancing on the telly and being in training and working, so I just really want to make it special for him. He’s been so patient and so supportive that he deserves everything and more this Christmas."
What gifts might you buy for each other this Christmas?
Giovanni: "I’d buy Ranvir some blister plasters for her feet as a Christmas present!" Ranvir: "I’d buy Giovanni a weekly theatre pass for when the theatres re-open." Giovanni: "Aww, thank you." Ranvir: "But you won’t get that if I’m only getting blister plasters!"
The Semi-Final of Strictly Come Dancing can be seen on Saturday December 12 at 7pm on BBC1.
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