Craig Revel Horwood has revealed his tips for who will get to this year's Strictly Come Dancing final, as well as his hopes of scoring the Christmas number one slot, in an exclusive interview with HELLO! in which he's joined by his best friend Rietta Austin.
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The Strictly judge names actress Rose Ayling-Ellis and professional dancer Giovanni Pernice, chef John Waite and his partner Johannes Radebe and presenter AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington as the couples who'll make it through to the last three.
"If I was choosing, that's who it would be," he tells us. "The standard has been so high this year, though – we've never had dancing like it. And there's been no joke act – no Anne Widdicombe, or John Sergeant – it's been fair and square and tough competition.
Craig and singer Rietta Austin are releasing their first Christmas single this year
"And the closer they get to the end, the more competitive they're all becoming because they can see themselves holding that Glitterball - and with that always comes offers for new shows. So there's a lot at stake really and they're all hungry for it."
Talking of his and New Zealand-born singer, songwriter and dancer Rietta Austin's bid for the number one slot with their single, It's Christmas, Merry Christmas, he says: "We were going to do it last year, but there was too much competition … I mean, no one can beat Mariah, darrrling, but Ed Sheeran and Sir Elton John? We figured that was easy!"
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"Everything joyous about Christmas known to mankind is in there," adds Rietta, who hit upon the idea of her and Craig releasing a Christmas single after seeing him in panto as the Wicked Stepmum in Cinderella two years ago, a role the Strictly star is reprising this festive season.
"Last year's Christmas offerings were all a bit sen-ti-men-tal. I thought, 'We don't want that'. Dancing around the Christmas tree, that's what we want, and with a bit of luck people will be playing it for years to come," Craig, who is also working on an album of duets with Rietta, due for release next year, laughs.
Craig & Rietta release It’s Christmas, Merry Christmas on Thursday 2nd December.
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