In an exclusive interview and photoshoot, former Strictly Come Dancing star Brendan Cole has announced that he will be writing a weekly column on the new series of the BBC One dance show for HELLO! magazine online. Brendan will be giving his verdict on everything from the judges' comments to the performances of celebrity contestants. "It's really nice to be joining HELLO!. I'll be open, honest, frank and positive," he said. And he added that he is looking forward to bringing his own opinions to the table – opinions which may clash with those of the Strictly judges.
Normally at this time of year, the 42-year-old New Zealand-born star would be preparing to find out who his celebrity partner would be on the hit BBC show. But that all changed in January, when Brendan revealed his contract had not been renewed and he would no longer be a Strictly dancer. "When something like Strictly comes along and you are no longer in it after so many years and all your friends are doing it, it's a strange feeling," he shared. "I quite often disagree with the judges," he added. "But that's the thing about dance – it's subjective. Everyone has a different opinion on it and everyone sees it from a different place."
Brendan Cole is going to be writing his very own Strictly Come Dancing column for HELLO! online
Elaborating further, the star continued: "For me, as someone who has studied the ins and outs of dance, there has to be a balance of performance, technical ability, artistry and chemistry. Judges are always looking at it from a different point of view and that is what makes dance so difficult to agree on. So I look forward to hearing their opinion and seeing if I agree or disagree with their point of view while watching it." He revealed is hoping to see the contestants "shine over their time on the show". He explained: "It is a once in a lifetime opportunity."
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Since he lifted the coveted Glitterball trophy on the 2004 series of Strictly, when he was partnered with newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, Brendan's quite often been able to predict the star dancers from early on. "I've only missed a few," the dancer said. "When you meet the cast for the first time, you see how people carry themselves, how they move." After being a part of the show's success from the beginning, it is no surprise Brendan still feels part of the Strictly phenomenon. "Just because you finish something you don't disappear," he shared. "I still feel like I've been a massive part of it. I can look back at some of the things I was less keen on and think: 'Actually, you were lucky to be there.' But now it's: 'Right, what's next?' It's an exciting time."
He is still in touch with many of his former colleagues, including Craig Revel Horwood and Dame Darcey Bussell from the judging panel, but said: "The judges and the dancers and the contestants don't really mix on the show as you have your different timetables, so you see each other to say: 'Hi' in the corridor and have a little chat and then you do the show and that is that. I still stay in touch with some of the judges – Craig, Darcey, even Len [Goodman, the former chief judge]. He is a great chap and a great television personality."
The former Strictly pro will be giving his verdict on the contestants on this year's show
And he remains on great terms with the Strictly dancers. "We have WhatsApp groups, which have the pros and the celebrity contestants on them," he revealed. "You form really strong bonds on the show with the contestants, too." There are plenty of positives from no longer being in Strictly, not least the opportunity to enjoy life with his wife Zoe and their children Aurélia, five, and five-month-old Danté. "While I was doing Strictly, I wasn't just away personally but I was often away mentally. You have to immerse yourself in the show and give it everything you have to be successful," said Brendan.
He has also, for the first time in many years, been able to spend more of the summer with his family at their home in Majorca. "It has been really lovely, quality time," he added. It was while sitting poolside at his holiday home that Brendan recorded a video message for his Strictly pals before their training started. "I have great friends on the show and I wanted to wish them all good luck at the beginning of the series," he explained. "I wanted to send them a message saying: 'Go get them. Have a fantastic series. I'm thinking of you and missing you.' And of course, there are the new ones I wanted to welcome."
After 14 years, there are many highlights to discuss and, while he can't pick one in particular, his last season, when he partnered Good Morning Britain presenter Charlotte Hawkins, is among his favourites. "I really enjoyed last year. I enjoyed the professional performances and I enjoyed working with Charlotte," he noted. "You're everything for your partner. You see each other ten times as much as you see your loved ones. If you have a good relationship, then it can be an amazing thing. I’m lucky to have had that with several of my partners."
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Now Brendan is looking forward to watching the opening show of the new series with his family. Aurélia is a huge fan, he told HELLO!: "She loves watching Strictly and she's excited about it. I don't know if she has quite grasped the fact that I am not going to be on it any more, but it will be nice to watch the show together. My wife told me that when it was on, Aurélia didn't sit and watch it because she was up dancing in front of the TV. It'll be nice to see if I can get her to sit still for a little bit and watch it with me." Danté, meanwhile, is at "an amazing stage in his little life", Brendan continued: "I'm pretty sure he's proud of himself when he does certain things, like standing on his little feet. You can see his face light up." As to whether his children could follow in their dad's footsteps and become dancers, Brendan said: "Not necessarily. I hope they will follow their own paths and do whatever they want."
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