Catherine Tyldesley is counting down to her first routine with her Strictly Come Dancing partner Johannes Radebe - however in a new and exclusive photoshoot and interview with HELLO! magazine it is her first dance with her husband Tom Pitfield she is remembering - as Mr & Mrs when they wed three years ago.
"There were no nerves back then, it was nothing like I'm feeling now. We hadn't choreographed anything and it was more Tom and I just shuffling along in a prolonged hug rather than a full-on dance routine," recalls the former Coronation Street star of taking to the dancefloor to Ed Sheeran's Thinking out Loud. Catherine reveals in HELLO! how fitness trainer Tom is already good friends with her professional dance partner. "He hit it off with Johannes straight away. He has already invited him round for dinner, so I think Johannes will become part of our family."
On the inevitable speculation over the closeness that naturally forms between celebrity dancers and their professional partners, Tom tells HELLO!: "My friends have always given me a lot of stick. I am easy pickings for them with a wife on TV so, when the whole Strictly thing came up, they were rubbing their hands getting ready." Adds Catherine: "His mates wind him up about everything. They used to wind him up when I got a new boyfriend on Corrie, but Tom just takes it on the chin.
"He is so selfless, my best friend, and the greatest support to me. If ever I am doing a live performance, having Tom there just calms me down." Keeping her nerves under control will be Catherine's big challenge while she is in the 'Strictly Bubble' as she tells HELLO! she already has her very own 'Bubble'.
"I am a big fan of meditation so before any live performance I go into what Tom calls my 'Cath Bubble'. Because normally I am so bubbly and talkative, everyone says, 'Are you okay?' But I am visualising everything going completely to plan, so at the minute I am visualising me and Johannes and those perfect 10s from the judges! To get to Blackpool would be the dream. "I used to go most years to see the illuminations, it was a huge part of my childhood. My dad has said, 'If you get to Blackpool I'll be happy', and I said 'Let me just get to week two first!'"
She is determined to do her best for her professional partner. "I am really hoping to do well for Johannes as this is his first year with a celebrity, and I am determined to make him proud."
Catherine also told HELLO! about the first thing that went through her head when she heard the news about joining the BBC show. Catherine admitted that she was "absolutely thrilled to bits," adding: "Not only is he a phenomenal dancer and performer, he is held in the highest regard by all the other dancers and all the crew – and that speaks volumes. We got on from day one. So I couldn't have been any happier." It sounds like a match made in heaven!
The Corrie star also spoke about their friendship, and we're already jealous of how much fun it sounds like they're having! The TV star elaborated: "We get on like a house on fire. From start to finish we did nothing but laugh. We're already getting into trouble for laughing. I'm really looking forward to getting to know him more and spending more time with him."
Strictly marks a return to the limelight for Catherine, who left Coronation Street in June 2018 to spend more time with her personal trainer husband Tom Pitfield and their son Alfie, who is now four. But how is Catherine going to manage her hectic family life while she's on the show? The answer is simple – she's just going to make her dance partner Johannes a part of the clan! Catherine joked that she's going to "adopt" the professional dancer, and added that: "Tom met him the other day and Alfie's been sending him videos. Alfie's really excited because Johannes is really tall, and Alfie is excited about being lifted up and being spun round. He's going to be coming to the training sessions! Tom's already said that he's going to cook a meal for Johannes."
Read the full interview in HELLO! magazine, out on Monday 16 September.