Natalie Lowe

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


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