The professional dancer: Kevin Clifton
The lad from Grimsby who isn’t afraid to let his passion for dance show has become a firm favourite with Strictly fans in a short time.
Kevin’s enthusiasm for going on the road seems typical of his positive attitude to life, which shone through during his weeks partnering Frankie Bridge from The Saturdays.
Kevin said: “I love the tour. When I came to see Karen a couple of years ago (his fiancee, Strictly dancer Karen Hauer) a couple of years ago I really enjoyed watching it.
“I was really hoping that I would get asked to do the tour. I think it’s really good fun and I can’t wait to do it again this year.
“The pressure of getting kicked off the show isn’t there any more. You’re not worried about going home if you don’t do well on that night.
“Everyone can dance with a little more freedom and less pressure, just having good fun.
“There’s a really nice atmosphere and you get to see how popular the show is. You don’t get a sense of it on Saturdays, just seeing the TV studio audience and judges and other couples.
“Suddenly you see just how many people are crazy about the show.”
Kevin admitted he was a little apprehensive about the last TV series, though.
“The first series I did was amazing and I didn’t know how the second one was going to compare. “When I was paired with Frankie, I thought I might do alright.
“To make the final again and for me and Karen to both make the final was just like the dream for us.
“If I’d known that beforehand I would have gone mental. It’s been an amazing experience. Frankie was a brilliant partner.”
As the pop star announced she was pulling out of the show due to her pregnancy, Kevin has now paired up with S Club 7 singer Rachel Stevens, who was runner-up in 2008.
Kevin and his professional partner Karen got engaged when he proposed on stage as they appeared in the West End dance show Burn the Floor.
He said: “We would have got married during last year but there just wasn’t time. I didn’t think it through when we got engaged.”
The couple were on tour last year in Australia and Japan with Burn the Floor, as well as appearing in both Strictly live and on tour.
This series it’s become even more of a family affair as Kevin’s younger sister and childhood dance partner Joanne joined the show, dancing with Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills.
Kevin said: “It was great having Jo come on the show. I was hoping she would get the job.
“As a brother you want her to do well, and I was hoping that Karen and Mark would do well too. Jo and Scott were under pressure every week they were in. It was triple the nerves!
“If one was in the dance-off you’d be nervous for the rest of the weekend.”
He added: “Jo seems to have lived her life living off my mistakes. It’s the same with Strictly. She came in a year later, so she could learn from all the things I did right and wrong.
“It’s always been like that. When we were competing, I was the first one to leave and do stage stuff. I was always the one looking for something else to do.
“We’ve both been dancing since I was about four and we started competing and dancing together when I was six or seven, until I was about 15.
“We didn’t really want to dance against each other. We both kept up ballroom and latin and then when we stopped dancing together she did latin and I did ballroom.
“There’s a lot of dedication and hard work but it’s what we’re used to really.”