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Mark Wright explains the special request he had when taking part in the Strictly Christmas special

Could this give Mark the advantage?

Francesca Shillcock

After five years, Mark Wright has returned to the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom alongside Janette Manrara as they compete for the Glitterball trophy in this year's Christmas special. But the TV personality could be at an advantage, as he revealed that he was able to put in a special request prior to signing up for the festive competition.

Speaking to HELLO! and other reporters before the show, Mark explained that he asked for a fast dance instead of a ballroom number. "You're not supposed to change, and you don't want to look like you're trying to request anything," he explained. "[But] I was really kind of like 'I'm coming back for once and once only, just let me do a fast dance.'"

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Mark and Janette are performing a salsa in the Christmas special

And it seems his question was answered, as he revealed: "I didn't choose what dance [specifically] but they gave me a faster dance." Janette then revealed that it was in fact Mark's former partner Karen Hauer that advised them to avoid ballroom. "It was when it came down to picking what dance we do for the Christmas special [and Karen said] 'he hates ballroom! Don't do ballroom!'" explained the pro. Luckily for them, the pair escaped a ballroom dance and went on to perform a salsa in the special.

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Mark first competed in the show in 2014

Despite being pleased with a faster routine, the former finalist did reveal that he had been struggling with some of the lifts in the routine, and subsequently suffered a back injury. "The lifts have damaged my back," he explained, before Janette stated: "We had a bit of a scare that he might not be able to do all the tricks in the routine because he hurt his back, but we're on good form [now]."

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The 32-year-old first appeared in the Strictly ballroom for the show's twelfth series in 2014. The former TOWIE star danced alongside his then pro-partner Karen Hauer, with whom he reached the show's final, before coming in fourth place. Competing alongside Mark in the festive special were other former Strictly stars including Gemma Atkinson, Joe Sugg and Debbie McGee.

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