Strictly’s Nigel Harman gushes about the ‘joyful hours’ he and dance partner Katya Jones spend together ‘laughing a lot’ – as he reveals his wife brings their daughter to watch them rehearse
Strictly star Nigel Harman has gushed over the ‘joyful hours’ he and dance partner Katya Jones spend together ‘laughing a lot’ as they rehearse for the BBC show.
The former EastEnders actor, 50, hopes to earn enough votes to see the couple through to Blackpool next weekend, which will be Katya’s first performance at the iconic ballroom in five years.
But Katya, 34, who has won multiple dance championships at Blackpool with ex-husband Neil Jones, insists she doesn’t ever push her celebrity partner, saying she would rather Nigel have fond memories of the show than be ‘tirelessly’ worked to the ground.
Following their Couples’ Choice performance to Bruno Mars track Just the Way You Are on Saturday and achieving a high score of 34 points from the judges, the pair are hoping that they have done enough to reach the Strictly milestone.
Speaking about their bond, Nigel said: ‘I love working with Kats, she is so intuitive as a teacher, choreographer and person, we spend hours together and it’s joyful, we laugh a lot, and we get a lot of things done.
Strictly star Nigel Harman has gushed over the ‘joyful hours’ he and dance partner Katya Jones spend together ‘laughing a lot’ as they rehearse for the BBC show
The ex-EastEnders actor hopes to earn enough votes to see the couple through to Blackpool next weekend, which will be Katya’s first performance at the iconic ballroom in five years
‘She’s making me into a better dancer, I don’t know how she’s doing it but she is.
‘Do I find her strict? I don’t think I do, no. Sometimes I need a bit of discipline because if you’re not careful I’ll start rambling about anything just to distract her, so I don’t have to dance.’
The Blackpool Tower Ballroom holds sentimental value for Katya after she earned several titles there with ex-husband and Strictly co-star, Neil, who last month welcomed his first baby with Love Island star Chyna Mills.
The professional dancers split after Katya was caught kissing her former celebrity dance partner, comedian Seann Walsh in 2019, and their 15-year relationship fell victim to the Strictly curse.
Katya said: ‘I went to Blackpool championships for the first time when I was 13, I believe… so, 20 years ago, and ever since I won lots of titles there with Neil so there are a lot of memories and tradition, love for this place, and to take Nigel, a celebrity…
‘I actually haven’t made it to Blackpool since 2017, if we do that would be quite special to show them what it means for us and it’s nice that Strictly goes there to pay that respect to the tradition of ballroom dancing.
‘It is a very different experience, going there as a competitor, athlete, and as a professional on Strictly, it is more about sharing with others rather than going there and defending your title.’
Following the tense dance off between Adam Thomas and Angela Rippon during last Sunday night’s results show, where the soap actor was voted out of the competition, the stakes are high as to which couples will make it to Blackpool.
The Blackpool Tower Ballroom holds sentimental value for Katya after she earned several titles there with ex Neil, who last month welcomed his first baby with Love Island’s Chyna Mills
Following their Couples’ Choice performance on Saturday and achieving a high score of 34 points, the pair are hoping that they have done enough to reach the Strictly milestone
Nigel and Katya were praised by the judges for not stepping a foot out of place on Saturday night, with Shirley Ballas even getting emotional over their performance
Nigel explained that the uplifting number was in tribute to his late parents, who he wishes could have seen him perform on the show
Regardless of their place on the show, Nigel insists he will find a way to perform at the ballroom.
He said: ‘It is a landmark on the Strictly map and it’s an important landmark for everyone. Now we are here I would really like to be part of that. Ballroom dancing has been there for over 100 years so to be a tiny spec of that history would be lovely.
‘I know how the show works so if it doesn’t work out this weekend we will just go anyway and dance outside the chippy.’
Katya, who won Strictly with former X Factor star Joe McFadden in 2017, says it’s important to maintain perspective when competing on the BBC show and while she’s a stickler for technique, she wants Nigel to enjoy the process of learning how to dance.
She said: ‘You want to enjoy this… yes, we do a dance on Saturday and yes, we get scores and yes there’s a competition element but when this is over those are not the things that will stay with you.
‘The things that stay with us are laughing about a squirrel or watching deer in the carpark, those are the things that we are going to remember and that will create memories and feelings about your experience rather than the details about keeping your elbows up.
‘This is really important to remember that this is a lot more wholesome than just training someone tirelessly.’
Katya even says that the work stops once their training at the end of the day has finished and Nigel is ‘free’ to return to his wife Lucy Liemann.
Katya says it’s important to maintain perspective when competing on the BBC show and while she’s a stickler for technique, she wants Nigel to enjoy the process of learning how to dance
She insisted that she doesn’t give Nigel any homework and once their training day ends, he is ‘free’ to return to his wife and daughter
She added: ‘I am not giving Nigel any homework… absolutely not. Dancing talk stops the moment it is 5pm and he’s free to go and do what he needs to do.’
Nigel has revealed that his wife Lucy and his daughter, whose name and age is unknown, have been supportive throughout, even joining him in the training room each week to get a sneak peek of their performance.
He said: ‘My family are really enjoying it, they come to the rehearsal room every Wednesday after school and they watch us dance, they bought the dog this week, it’s one of the loveliest things and a gift about this show is how much you can involve your family and how they can come along and support.
‘They send me out with a packed lunch every day. My daughter the other day made me a smoothie to put in the fridge before she went to bed because she was worried, she wouldn’t be awake by the time I had to leave. It’s those moments I cherish.’
After weeks of intense dance training, the actor admits he is seeing changes in his body, and he’s gone from fearing aches and pains to embracing the physical challenge.
He said: ‘I am definitely noticing the difference.
‘The first 3-4 weeks were really hard… it was like being run over by a train every day and now I have gone through the niggles and the injuries, and my body seems be returning and I feel much stronger and much more durable.
‘When you first start this show whenever you get a strain, you think ‘oh my gosh, I may not ever walk again’ and you think it’s disastrous and then you realise it’s just part and parcel of doing the show.
‘Every day when I get out of bed there’s all sorts of old man groaning going on. I am really enjoying the physical side of it, and I actively look forward to it.’
However, Nigel says right now, he has no intention of continuing dancing once his Strictly experience is over, insisting ‘I have no plans to carry, but I do really enjoy it!’
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