You must be absolutely knackered…
That’s right! My whole body is aching. Every part: every toe, my feet, arms, legs, back. You name it. It’s intense, yes. No doubt.
The reaction from the public must make it worthwhile, though. Everyone loves you!
That’s very kind of you to say. The show does afford that, doesn’t it? It gives a bit of escapism on a Saturday night and that’s something we’re in dire need of at the moment. It’s been difficult to gauge the reaction, really, as we don’t go out anywhere! We dance and then we go home. Normally I imagine you’re much more aware of it but apart from the occasional glance at social media, it’s difficult to tell.
Have you surprised yourself?
I’m completely taken aback by all of it. I had no idea that I’d still be in the competition. I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up. I know a couple of people who’ve been on the show and they spoke about how hard it was and how tough it is physically – and these people were a lot younger and fitter than me.
What has really surprised me is my ability to pick up the steps and perform the dances. It’s like learning a new language is dance, it really is. You suddenly become aware of all kinds of things you weren’t aware of: what your shoulders are doing, what your head is doing, what your ribcage is doing – all these things I never even contemplated before coming on the show.
You and dance partner Oti Mabuse seem to have struck up a good friendship.
We have. We come from different worlds: she’s been immersed in the world of dance since she was a child and, for me, it’s a completely new experience. But we’ve developed a great friendship built from mutual respect. She likes to work hard and get results, and I’m prepared to put the hours in.
Certainly, yes. You generally become much more limber. Oti is very good about stretching and moving and has a schedule all prepared to make sure we’re warmed up before we get started so I don’t get injured. That’s what I thought would happen: I figured I’d get injured in week one because I’m so clumsy and I half expected to go over on my ankle and that would be that. But I feel quite energised by it.
The nearest experience I have to compare it to is like doing a 20-mile walk and although you feel pretty done in by the end of it, at the same time your whole body is tingling and alive.
There seems to be a good camaraderie between the contestants. Is that because this year’s Strictly has never been tougher?
We’re all rooting for each other. We’re all cheering and clapping because everyone knows how hard it is. We’re making this show in a very strange time and Oti was saying how this has been a shortened run – it usually goes on for a few weeks longer – and so it’s a lot more intense and everyone’s having to learn things quicker.
In a normal year you’d get more chances to get to grips with things but there’s not that much time this series and so everyone is feeling the heat.
You’ll have earned a lie-down after Strictly but instead you’re heading to the Lyceum Theatre to perform your Christmas Larks show. Excited?
I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that. This is what I love doing – live comedy in front of an audience – and I’ve not been able to do that since March. I’ve done a couple of outdoor gigs this year and they were so much fun. We’re taking all the precautions so hopefully we can go ahead. I love performing at Christmas time, it’s a great time to do a show.
Maybe incorporate a few of your new dance moves?
If you look back at my shows, I’ve been subtly incorporating dance for years. There was the Hokey Cokey in German performed by Kraftwerk and recently I was doing the Dance Of The Red Bird Of Paradise. Who knows what might happen? I have thought about putting some contemporary dance into the show. Maybe the paso doble? To try and find some way to interpret world events through the medium of dance. I think that’s something I can turn my hand to now with a degree of confidence.
What will it mean to make the final this weekend?
I never expected to still be in the competition – especially not the semi-finals. If this is it and we’re out this weekend, then I’ve had a fantastic time and I’ve got some amazing memories.
Dancing to Rapper’s Delight was just fantastic. I got video messages sent to me from The Sugarhill Gang and Janet Jackson tweeted about it – it was just ridiculous. And if we do stay in then we’ll just keep dancing until somebody tells me to stop!
Bill Bailey’s Christmas Larks is at the Lyceum, London, from December 28. He’s touring En Route To Normal next year. Tickets at billbailey.co.ukCredit: Original article published here.