A HUMBLING EXPERIENCE
Tom, 38, whose final show dance was one of the most memorable Strictly performances, says winning in 2008 was a humbling experience.
I think the most incredible thing is that people you've never met are voting for you. ? He's dancing a Charleston to Santa Claus is Comin' to Town with pro dancer Oti Mabuse. My brain thinks brilliant' and my body has been screaming at me, No, not again, ' he says.
The show had a big impact on his career. Without a doubt, I would not have got the amazing West End jobs like Top Hat, says the former Holby City actor, who recently appeared in Casualty and will be on a nationwide tour of Noel Coward's Private Lives from January.
Lisa, 43, agrees that Strictly had a really positive effect on her career.
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The model and presenter, who is doing a quickstep to Let it Snow, is leaving her role as co-host of the Capital Radio breakfast show at the end of the month. It's sort of gone full circle, she says. In July 2008 I started at Capital, then did Strictly in August. Now I'm finishing at Capital and doing the Christmas special, so it feels as if it was meant to be. I am excited about a new start and a bloody good lie-in. ?
Rock those frocks (from left): Oti Mabuse, Natalie, Alison, Abbey, Lisa Snowdon and Joanne compare sumptuous gowns She loved meeting the other contestants and particularly admires wonderful former Marine medic Cassidy, who lost his right leg in a blast during a tour of Afghanistan in 2011. The stories he tells us are amazing, says Lisa.
Forces TV presenter Cassidy, who does a jive with his People's Strictly partner Natalie Lowe, says they've had to adjust their routine to Cool Yule by Bette Midler. I don't use crutches, literally or metaphorically, he says. During training Natalie has constantly had to tweak things so we can show our best side. ? Alison, 40, is dancing a cha-cha to Celebration by Kool and the Gang with Robin Windsor. I am going to try to carry on dancing after this, because I love the buzz of it, she says. I am really overweight, and it brings happiness. This is the only way I love to exercise. .
Nor does Abbey want to say goodbye to the dancefloor: I just want Strictly to do an all-stars series so I can do it all over again. ? UJ