Just weeks ahead of the return of Strictly Come Dancing, judge Craig Revel Horwood has exclusively opened up about his excitement and what he'll miss the most about the series this year.
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The 55-year-old, who has been part of the nation's favourite dance show since day one, has admitted it won't be the same without fellow judge Bruno Tonioli, who has remained in Los Angeles due to the pandemic.
"I'll miss Bruno, but he'll be back with us for the last few shows and he'll be commenting from afar," Craig exclusively tells HELLO!. "We usually have dressing rooms next to one another and as the walls are paper thin, I'll say: 'Bruno, will you keep it down?' when he is whingeing about his rider requests not being right."
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For the first time since Strictly began in 2004, Bruno's chair will be empty while he takes part in the US version Dancing with the Stars. However, he will still be involved remotely in the Sunday-night results shows.
"I love him. I've known him since the start of the first series so we're very close friends, and see each other socially when he is in the UK and not at his home in LA," added Craig.
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Of being reunited with the other judges Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse, the choreographer says: "As Motsi lives in Germany, I don't really see her away from Strictly, but I had dinner with Shirley recently. She's so happy with her partner Danny [Taylor].
Craig with fellow judges Shirley Ballas and Bruno Tonioli
"Her eyes are alight and full of love. Shirley has had her ankle dilemmas lately [she broke her ankle in June], but she is off the crutches now. Danny has been so supportive to her during her recovery."
Meanwhile, Craig cannot wait to "unleash myself on the contestants". From his home in Hampshire, he explains: "I haven't mellowed in lockdown at all. The nation needs entertaining, darling. I'm raring to go.
The TV star has been on Strictly since 2004
"I really believe this will be our best year ever," he adds. "The whole country is ready to be cheered up and what show does that better than Strictly? It's important people get some sense that life can go on.
"We'll all need our Strictly dance fix and, due to the circumstances, it'll probably be one of the most interesting years we've had. I think we've got some really good contestants this year," says Craig of the new series, which will reportedly launch with the hotly anticipated pairings on Saturday 17 October, followed by the start of the live shows a week later.
For the full interview, pick up this week's HELLO! magazine, out Monday!