Nine facts about Sheffield presenter Dan Walker as he takes Strictly Come Dancing by storm

Dan Walker has been dazzling viewers with his moves on Strictly Come Dancing and proving a few doubters wrong in the process, including old foe Piers Morgan.

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 7:47 pm

But how much do you know about the Sheffield-based BBC Breakfast presenter as he and dance partner Nadia Bychkova continue to impress judges on the hit show?

He first came to Sheffield as a young boy

Dan grew up in Crawley but was only around four when he first visited Sheffield. He has told how he ‘vaguely recollects’ looking around Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet at the time. He would not return until the mid-1990s when he attended the University of Sheffield.

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Dan Walker and Nadiya Bychkova in action on Strictly Come Dancing 2021 (pic: Guy Levy/BBC/PA Wire)

This time, he said ‘from the first minute I arrived I absolutely loved it, making some wonderful lifelong friends too’.

“My wife - who is actually from the city - and I have lived in Liverpool, Manchester and London but we both always wanted to get back to Sheffield,” he told Welcome to Yorkshire.

He was nervous about embarrassing his daughter on Strictly

Dan told earlier this year how he had previously turned down several offers to appear on Strictly but was eventually convinced to take part by his children, who said it was one of the only shows they would love to see him on.

Dan Walker and his Strictly Come Dancing partner Nadiya Bychkova have made an impressive start on the show (pic: BBC/Guy Levy)

However, he revealed he was worried about disappointing his daughter when he made his debut on the dance floor.

Speaking on companion show Strictly It Takes Two, he said: “She gave me this lovely little wave and said I love you, Dad. So from going don't embarrass me Dad to being really proud, I mean I loved the dancing it was brilliant, but that was such a special moment.”

He’s a seriously talented golfer

Dan is a member of Hallamshire Golf Club and he’s rather handy on the greens and fairways.

Dan Walker and his dance partner Nadiya Bychkova in training for Strictly Come Dancing (pic: Dan Walker/Twitter)

When golf courses reopened this year, he revealed his official handicap was just 0.1, meaning he is almost a scratch golfer – a feat which has been a goal of his for some time.

Earlier this year, he shared a photo of himself playing golf with former Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder and ex-football pros Alan Shearer and Jon Newsome.

He doesn’t work on Sundays

Dan grew up in a Christian household, with his father being a pastor, and his religion is an important part of his life.

Dan Walker and Nadiya Bychkova have been training in Sheffield for Strictly Come Dancing (pic: Ray Burmiston/BBC)

He has spoken in the past about how he doesn't work on Sundays due to his faith, and he likes to have the day free to spend with his wife Sarah, their two daughters and their son.

Luckily, the Strictly results show which airs on Sunday is filmed the day before.

While his commitment to his faith has not held him back in his broadcasting career, it did put a dampener on his footballing ambitions.

He previously told how when he was nine or 10 he was asked by a number of clubs to go for trials and play in their youth teams.

Although he says he wasn’t a Christian at the time, he told how he began thinking about the importance of the ‘Lord’s Day’ and refused to play on a Sunday, which resulted in his being rejected by those clubs.

He has a soft spot for Sheffield Wednesday

Dan supports Crawley Town but has spoken in the past about his fondness for Sheffield Wednesday.

Asked on Twitter whether he supported the Owls, he told how he had ‘serious love’ for the club.

“I went to go and watch them when I was a student in Sheffield and Chris Waddle is one of my top three footballers with Zidane and Brazilian Ronaldo,” he added.

He studied history at the University of Sheffield

Dan graduated from the University of Sheffield in 1998 with a BA in history, before studying for a masters in journalism at the same university the following year.

He began his career in broadcasting by doing work experience at Hallam FM and, having started working for the station the week after he graduated, within six months he was the sports editor at Key 103 in Manchester.

He took over as the presenter of Football Focus in 2009 and became a regular on Radio 5 Live, Final Score and Match of the Day.

He has been a co-anchor on BBC Breakfast since 2016, when he replaced Bill Turnbull.

He now sponsors and mentors two bursary-winning journalism students at the University of Sheffield every year, and in 2019 he received an honorary doctorate of letters from the university in recognition of his achievements.

He’s a big fan of Indian cuisine

Prithiraj restaurant on Ecclesall Road is a big favourite of Dan’s and he recently took his Strictly dance partner Nadiya Bychkova there to sample the delights with his family.

He has supported the restaurant over the years with its fundraising efforts for Sheffield Children’s Hospital and other good causes.

He is unsurprisingly a popular figure at the restaurant, where waiter Mohammed Arafat told how he comes in for a takeaway ‘most weekends’ and is a ‘really nice guy and very friendly, very humble’.

He has the most adorable dog

Dan is a big fan of Twitter but likes to keep his family out of the limelight, rarely sharing photos of his wife or their children.

He makes an exception, however, for the family pet Winnie, an adorable cockapoo, who it seems has been missing his attention of late.

Sharing a photo of Winnie with a dog toy in her mouth, he said: “I’ve not been around much this week so I think Winnie just wants a day of me playing with her little raccoon.”

He’s a long shot to win Strictly

Despite his promising start, Dan remains a big outsider to take home the coveted glitterball trophy this year, according to the bookies.

You could still get odds of 27/1 this week on him triumphing, with AJ Odudu, John Whaite and Rose Ayling-Ellis being the early favourites to claim the crown.