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Strictly's Angela Rippon, 79, shares secret anxiety battle

The Strictly Come Dancing star opened up about her partnership with Kai Widdrington

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 21:  Angela Rippon attends the Julien Macdonald Fashion Show for National Osteoporosis Society at Lancaster House on November 21, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images for the National Osteoporosis Society)
Georgia Brown
Senior Lifestyle & Fashion Writer
24 October 2023
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At 79, Angela Rippon has made Strictly Come Dancing history as the oldest contestant to take part in the BBC show. 

Her age is by no means an obstacle, however. In the words of judge Craig Revel-Horwood, Angela "puts the rip in Rippon" as she continues to defy expectations in the ballroom.

Despite her age-defying performances and unrivalled stage presence, the BBC presenter very nearly didn't go ahead with Strictly after suffering from "huge anxieties" before she met her dance partner Kai Widdrington, 28. 

Kai Widdrington & Angela Rippon on Strictly Come Dancing© Guy Levy / BBC
Kai Widdrington and Angela Rippon have defied expectation on Strictly Come Dancing

Speaking to Saga magazine, Angela recalled being surprised when she was asked by the BBC to take part in the show. "I must admit my reaction was, 'why didn’t you ask me ten years ago when I was a bit younger'," she said. 

Touching on her partnership with Kai, the Rip Off Britain star admitted: "I had huge anxieties until the point when I met him because I was really worried about doing something which is in many ways out of my comfort zone." 

Angela and Kai doing the Foxtrot © BBC
Angela and Kai wowed the judges on musicals week with their Foxtrot

Angela said she couldn't compare Strictly to anything else she had faced in her career before. "Covering the Queen’s funeral for Australian TV didn't faze me, but Strictly is quite, quite different," she added.  

The dancing queen also confirmed she has "enormous trust" in dance partner Kai. The doting duo have already been dubbed one of the favourite partnerships of the season, loved for their close friendship and spellbinding performances.

Angela Rippon© Kieron McCarron
Angela Rippon is the oldest celebrity to take part in Strictly Come Dancing

"He said to me: 'Don’t worry, whatever happens I’ll catch you'," Angela added. "Once someone as gorgeous as him says that, you don’t worry about the little things." 

Angela's interview comes just after the BBC star dazzled audiences last Saturday night with the first Argentine Tango of the season. Taking to the dancefloor in a stunning black velvet dress, Angela and Kai performed a steamy Latin duet to Tanguera by Sexteto Mayor, collecting the star's highest scores of the season.

Angela Rippon and Kai Widdrington dancing the Argentine Tango© Guy Levy
Angela and Kai performed the first Argentine Tango of the series

Long before she joined Strictly, Angela had already discovered her passion for dance, which she raved about in a 2018 interview with Irish News. 

"I love dancing. When I was young, I even considered making it my career – it's great for tone and balance," she said. 

"I'm an ambassador for the Royal Academy of Dance Silver Swans ballet classes for the over-55s, and I regularly go to their classes. I stretch for 10 minutes every morning, which has been my routine for all of my life, and I don't smoke or drink."

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