Strictly's Kevin Clifton was rejected at his first two auditions for hit show

Strictly's Kevin Clifton was rejected at his first two auditions for hit show


At his first Strictly audition, Kevin Clifton dressed all in black to match his lank, dark hair, kohl-lined eyes and jet nail polish.

His message, he says, was clear: “Don’t think that I’m your average ballroom dancer, guys.”

But, sadly for him, their reaction was: “You’ve Goth to be joking.”

In a Strictly special on Saturday that focuses on the dance pros and their road to fame on the BBC hit, Kevin recalls that audition, where he danced with Karen Hauer, his then-girlfriend.

He says: “They said, ‘We’d love to take Karen, but not that guy.

Nadiya Bychkova as a younger dancer

Young Janette Manrara

“We’ve no need for that gothic scarecrow who thinks he’s the rock star of the ballroom’.”

Kevin, 36, who won last year’s show with Stacey Dooley, 32, now his girlfriend, was rejected again when he went back the following year.

He auditioned alongside Aljaz Skorjanec and Janette Manrara.

The couple, now married, were welcomed with open arms on what Aljaz, 29, describes as “one of the best days of my life”.

He says: “Strictly is the best job any dancer can get. To be doing it with someone you love is incredible.”

Johannes Radebe with dancing trophies

Neil Jones before turning pro

Janette, 35, says that being born into a Cuban household in Miami, she was born with “happy feet” that never stopped moving.

After his second rejection, Kevin appeared in the trailer as the “invisible dancer”, a man in a bodysuit dancing with celebs, who was airbrushed out.

It was worth it, as it finally got him accepted on to the show.

Karen, 37, whom he later wed, says she began dancing after leaving Venezuela for New York, aged eight.

She says: “It was a culture shock – I’d never seen snow or worn a coat. I was literally like that kid out of The Jungle Book. But that was when I started dancing.”

AJ Pritchard long before Strictly

Anton Du Beke, 53, Giovanni Pernice, 29, and Aljaz admit they started dancing to meet the girls.

Aljaz says: “All the boys were doing football, wanting to be firemen – all the girls were dancing. I’m going to go with the girls.

“I loved it.”

Amy Dowden is one of the pros

A young Anton du Beke

Anton says: “I went with my sister. It was a room full of girls. I was 14, so I thought, ‘Hello’.”

Giovanni says: “If I play football, I’m going to have, for the rest of my life, to shower with boys.

“So I’m going to be a dancer and spend time with the girls.”

  • Strictly The Professionals, BBC1, Saturday, 7pm



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