Strictly Sheffield support for Blue star Simon

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The glitterballs were already boxed up and ready to go when Star entertainment writer Julia Armstrong dropped into the Strictly Live Tour rehearsal rooms in London to talk to some of the stars who are heading to Sheffield next week.

BBC One’s smash hit entertainment show Strictly Come Dancing returns to the Motorpoint Arena next week after one of the most exciting series ever, won by TV presenter Caroline Flack and her dance partner, Pasha Kovalev.

The final line-up for the 2015 Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour includes a new live tour judging panel, featuring the legendary Craig Revel Horwood, who will be joined by the winners of the 2008 BBC1 Strictly series, Tom Chambers and Camilla Dallerup.

Series winner Caroline will be joined by fellow celebrities Simon Webbe, Scott Mills, Rachel Stevens, Thom Evans, Mark Wright and Alison Hammond.

Completing the line-up is Strictly favourite Zoe Ball, who will host the tour.

Rachel Stevens will be stepping in for Frankie Bridge, who is pregnant and has reluctantly withdrawn on the advice of her doctor.

The tour comes to Sheffield next Tuesday. Tickets: in person at the Arena Box Office, by phone on 0114 2565656 or online at www.motorpointarenasheffield.co.uk.

Here’s Julia’s chat with Biue star Simon Webbe:

Blue star Simon will have one special Sheffielder on his side as his brother Quinton lives in the city.

He’s not sure where, though. “I’ve never been. His house doesn’t sound very nice!”

Apparently Quinton, who came to the city for university and now works for a bank, still lives in a student-style house that’s a bit like the one on The Young Ones.

Simon said he couldn’t wait to start dancing again on the Strictly live tour. He said:”This has been one of the most amazingly .... not just for me and my boys, who have been supporting me all the way through, but also for my family.”

Simon has been very open about the lows of depression and drinking after his post-Blue solo career failed to take off.

He said: “I didn’t share it with anybody, not even my band members. Another one was going through rehab and needed my support.”

Simon said that as the oldest member of the band, he tends to be like the big brother that everyone looks to, not the one who needs help.

Then he signed up for Strictly and says it helped turn his life around again.

“I said I’d do it not realising how big Strictly was. When I was told it will change your life, I took things with a pinch of salt.

“When I was criticised early on, it appeared like a dagger to the heart. I was more disappointed in myself. I wasn’t listening to the technical side of things.

“Everybody came back on side and were so supportive. I had to prove to my fans, family and myself that I could do this.”

He said that his daughter, Alanah, who was seen several times in the TV show audience, was brilliant during the show. “She used to do this thing when she was little where she used to hold me and scratch my back.

“Every time I hug her, she still does it. She did it every time I was in the dance-off.”

The proud dad said: “She’s 18 now and there’s nothing holding her back. I’m looking for a job for her. She wants to be around dance.

“It’s going to be hard for her but everybody needs help at some sort of job.”

Simon said that Alanah lives with her mum in Birmingham at the moment but he hopes she might move to London to live with him for a while.

The star was full of praise for all the backing he got.

“The Strictly family is not just the people you see on camera. The celebs and pros were all behind me but so were all the backroom staff at the BBC. I made so many friends in the crew, it was unbelievable.

“Everybody had a hand in me coming through this process. I feel like I’m still growing.

“I feel like a new man and these are exciting times.

“It’s sunshine every day for me, like I’m in one of those yoghurt adverts!”-