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Catherine Tyldesley on why she’s doing Strictly and what she loves about new BBC comedy Scarborough


Summer’s officially over, which means it’s time to embrace the glitz and glamour of Strictly Come Dancing when the shiniest show on television makes its annual return this Saturday.  And one of Manchester’s own will be flying the flag for the city when they shimmy down the Strictly stairs.

Best known as Eva ‘the Diva’ Price in Coronation Street, Catherine Tyldesley, who left the cobbles last year, is a Strictly super fan and can’t quite believe she’ll be one of the contestants stepping onto the dancefloor for the 17th series.

“I’ve tried to watch it as much as I can since the first show. I don’t think they [my old Corrie friends] were surprised that I’m taking part. Every year, when Strictly’s on, it’s all I can talk about. They know it’s my favourite show,” says the Salford-born actress who has a four-year-old son, Alfie, with husband Tom.

And that’s not the only appearance she’ll be making in the coming weeks. On Friday nights, she’s starring in Scarborough, a ‘comedy soap’ from Benidorm creator Derren Litten.

Before Catherine, 35, waltzes onto our screens, she talks confidence, competitiveness and feeling comfortable with fellow Mancunian, Jason Manford.

Photo: BBC/Kieron McCarron

Bar the fact you love the show, why did you want to take part in Strictly?

I went to drama school, but I never had the confidence to take part in the dance classes – often I’d avoid them completely. I was a lot bigger than I am now and I just didn’t enjoy it. My old dance teacher was very surprised when she heard I was doing this. I want to prove to myself I can do it. I want to learn a new skill. I’m in complete awe of what dancers can do.

What’s the reaction been like so far?

A lot of people were surprised because dancing is not my forte. But everyone has been so supportive and so excited. I don’t think there’s anybody I know who doesn’t like Strictly. It’s such a huge part of our year, we can’t wait for it to start. All my friends and family are the same, so they’re thrilled.

Are you looking forward to the sparkles and spandex?

The dresses! The dresses! The costumes are breath-taking. I’m a girly girl so that’s probably the thing I’m most excited about. I can’t wait to get glammed up every week. Hopefully, even if my dancing is bad, my dress will look great.

Anything giving you palpitations?

The thing I’m most nervous about is waiting in those wings and hearing my name. I can’t begin to imagine the nerves. I get nervous with any live television, but singing and presenting is more within my comfort zone. This will be so far removed from that.

Have you had any advice from friends who’ve taken part?

Gemma Atkinson and Tina O’Brien are friends of mine who have done it before. They weren’t really dancers before they started either, but they both said it was amazing. Lisa Riley was the same. They said if you are ever given the opportunity to do Strictly, I should go for it. So, I knew I had made the right decision.

Are you often found on the dancefloor?

It’s very rare that I dance, and when I do it would be a cheesy old dance routine. I’ll just copy what other people do because I’m not hugely confident. I’m a side-stepper kind of girl.

What are you looking for in your partner?

I think I’ll need someone supportive. Dancing is so out of my comfort zone; I will need someone very patient.

How do you think you’ll cope with criticism?

The judges know what they’re talking about, so any criticism I get I will know they are right, even when it’s a bit difficult to take. The opportunity to have those experts give you notes on your dancing is invaluable.

What does your son, Alfie, make of it all?

He’s only four but he loves it. He’s been watching all the old dances on YouTube. He’s obsessed with the Disney and Harry Potter dances. He’ll watch each dance again and again. I’m going to get him a sparkly waistcoat.

Do you consider yourself competitive?

No, I’m not competitive. I’m not good enough to be competitive. I’m just grateful and will have to take it week by week. I would be thrilled if I could make it to Halloween. Obviously, Blackpool would be a dream. Blackpool was a huge part of my childhood. My family would love it if I made it that far.

Photo: BBC/Kieron McCarron

You’re shining the spotlight on another northern town with Scarborough. What can you tell us about the show?

I think people will fall in love with the characters. I’m hoping each week they can’t wait for the next episode because the storylines and the sub-plots are super interesting and get you hooked. You can relate to the characters, you care about them, and that is key for me in any comedy. Derren [Litten] has gone into so much detail you can tell that he really cares about them.

What’s your character, Karen, like?

She’s a hairdresser and works in this lovely little hairdresser’s called Geraldine’s. It’s like the hub for all the matriarchs of Scarborough. Five years ago, she dated Mike [Jason Manford], but things didn’t quite work out and they went their separate ways. They’re now trying again, but this is last chance saloon, so if it doesn’t work, then that’s it.

What attracted you to the role?

I’ve always been a fan of Derren’s writing, he writes so well. For me, it’s hilarious but it’s so genuine and so warm. It’s completely character-led and all of them are so wonderful. In terms of Karen and Mike, a lot of couples will be able to see themselves in them. I’ve been reading the scripts with my husband at home and said ‘Oh god, it’s us’. So, it’s very relatable, very warm, very genuine and extremely funny. I fell in love with it the minute I read episode one.

What it’s been like working with Jason Manford?

This is my first time working with Jason and right from the audition process we hit it off. He made me feel super comfortable to work with. He’s been an absolute joy because yes, he is funny but he’s a bloody good actor and he can sing! He’s an all-rounder. I think he’s going to surprise people, he’s absolutely brilliant.

Is he coming to watch you on Strictly?

Yes, he’s said he wants to come, and my Corrie friends too.

Scarborough begins on 6th September and Strictly Come Dancing on 7th September, both on BBC One.

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