Life is strictly dance for Norwich-bound Brendan Cole
Strictly Come Dancing star Brendan Cole has wowed millions of viewers and is now bringing his fourth and final run of Live and Unjudged to Norwich. He tells RACHEL BANHAM about his dance show with a difference.
Fresh from the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing, Brendan Cole is excited about getting back on the road with his Live and Unjudged tour, his hugely successful live show.
'It's been the biggest thing I've ever done in my career. I absolutely love it. I've tried to create a show that's probably quite different to any other dance show people will have seen,' he says.
'It's a bit more intimate with the audience. With the dancing there is a lot of chat. There's a part where the audience can ask some questions, there's a bit where we get the entire audience up in their seats – those that are willing, those that want to – and they can do a little salsa with us.'
He adds: 'I wanted a show that never has a dull moment. It's filled with all the ballroom and Latin dances that you see on Strictly, from the beautiful waltzes to the bit more saucy stuff in the Latin, and I chop and change it all the time.
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'I'm one of these people who goes to the theatre or a show and gets bored quite quickly if things don't change all the time, so I want something that suits everybody – men, women and not just the Strictly audience.'
Brendan will be joined by a 14-piece band and a cast of six dancers, including his brother Scott, who will give the audience an insight into another side of Brendan.
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'The people that know me from Strictly, they know a certain me. I really want to be a bit more intimate with the audience and show them the real me I suppose, and a big part of that is my family and my brother,' Brendan says.
'It's lovely to be able to tour with him and he tells a lot of funny little anecdotes throughout the show. He quite often tells something crazy from my childhood that people wouldn't know.
'It brings a whole different dimension to the show when people actually walk out hopefully knowing a bit more about the real person rather than the one on Strictly.'
Brendan has previously brought Live and Unjudged to Ipswich, and enjoyed performing in front of a large audience in this region.
'The bigger the crowd the more you perform, and it almost seems more exciting, and I'm sure that comes across in the performance. The last time we were there was probably a year and a half ago. The show has changed quite a lot since then.'
However this latest tour includes Norwich Theatre Royal for the first time, a venue Brendan is excited to be visiting, describing it as 'a great theatre'.
'I'm almost disappointed we didn't put two dates on there… it's sold very well,' he says. 'This tour we have tried to go to quite a lot of places we have not been to before. Norwich is one of them, so it's very exciting for us.'
Having won the first series of Strictly Come Dancing with Natasha Kaplinsky, Brendan partnered singer Lulu in the 2011 series.
The couple were voted out of the competition in week six, but Brendan continued to play a valuable part in Strictly, standing in for his fellow pros when they were unable to compete.
He danced with former Neighbours actress Holly Valance on one show when her partner Artem Chigvintsev was injured, and then partnered former EastEnders actress Anita Dobson when her partner Robin Windsor suffered an injury too.
Brendan has taken part in every series of Strictly Come Dancing. His partners have included models Kelly Brook, Lisa Snowdon and Jo Wood.
'There are a couple of dances I did with both Kelly and Lisa that really stand out. I had a ball dancing with both of them,' he says.
'Dancing also with Jo Wood was an absolute pleasure. She was a delightful person and, as much as the dancing wasn't fantastic, she was great to work with. I really loved going to work with her every day as well as Lisa and Kelly.'
Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, Brendan was just six when he learnt ballroom and Latin American dance, soon becoming junior champion and going on to international competition.
Strictly has brought dance to a wider audience, and Brendan hopes that Live and Unjudged will do so too.
He says that this was one of the reasons he originally decided to take part in the programme.
'To show people what's it's like on a live TV show, which is huge and a massive part of British life now, is just perfect,' he says.
'To think that you've been a part of that success is amazing, and it allows you to take it to a different audience going to the theatre.'
The 'bad boy of ballroom' seems to have mellowed recently. He has also married British model Zoe Hobbs. Are the two events linked?
'I suppose they are connected in a way. You know when you're happy, when your life is where it should be and there's nothing to prove and you're in love,' Brendan says.
'My wife is the most important thing in the world to me. Once you've got that you want to protect it. If I ever did anything to embarrass Zoe I'd be devastated. I'm happy I don't need to be quite as punchy maybe as I used to be.
'I still argue with the judges here and there, but most of it is actually about protecting your partner. That's how I've been throughout the series of Strictly which is why I've always had that reputation of being a bit of a bad boy. It's not a bad tag to have!'
t Brendan Cole – Live and Unjudged, Norwich Theatre Royal, January 31, �28.50-�6.50, 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk
t Another version of this article can be found in February's edition of Let's Talk magazine, on sale now.