Sweet Caroline

PUBLISHED: 16:40 16 December 2014 | UPDATED: 16:40 16 December 2014

Caroline Flack in Strictly Come Dancing, BBC/Ray Burmiston

Caroline Flack in Strictly Come Dancing, BBC/Ray Burmiston

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Norfolk born television presenter Caroline Flack tells Rachel Buller about her joy at being in Strictly Come Dancing and why she can’t wait to come home for Christmas.

Caroline Flack is catching her breath after rehearsing the quick step for her next performance on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing.

“This dance is definitely true to its name – my feet have never moved so fast,” she laughs.

The presenter, who grew up in Norfolk emerged as an early favourite in the series and she can’t hide her delight at being asked to take part.

“It was first mentioned to me at the start of the year and as soon as I heard, I was just ‘yes, yes, I have to do this’, I was just so excited as I had always really, really wanted to do it.”

Having jumped ship from one Saturday night prime time juggernaut as a presenter on the X Factor and Xtra Factor, she is no stranger to live television.

“To be honest, I was a different kind of nervous. I love doing live television, the challenge and thrill of it, but I was so nervous of forgetting all my steps and of letting Pasha down after he has spent so much time practicing. He is very, very patient,” she chuckles.

Caroline, who is paired with Russian-born Pasha Kovalev, says that while the show is hard work, she would happily spend even more hours in the studio.

“You are only really in the studio rehearsing on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and then it is dress rehearsals on Friday and the shows on Saturday and Sunday. It is a whirl; it never feels like enough time. I get in at night and just go to bed.”

Her mum Christine and dad Ian, have been to watch her perform, along with all of her friends and family.

“They are really enjoying it and strangely I think they are more proud of this than anything I have ever done before. I have to remind mum that I have done some other quite good things before,” she laughs.

Growing up near Thetford with her brother Paul, sister Elizabeth and twin Jo, Caroline attended Great Hockham Primary and then Wayland High School in Watton, where she was a keen member of its dance group The Gug.

At 16 she left Norfolk to study music and theatre at college in Cambridge before making the move to London to pursue her career.

“I always wanted to work in entertainment but it took a long time and a lot of hard work to get there. You think you will just go to London and get a job in television and that will be that but it is not like that.”

Her first big break came playing Bubbles on sketch show Bo’Selecta in 2002 which led to a series of presenting jobs for a variety of music and entertainment shows and children’s television. Her breakthrough came on the ITV2 spin off show of I’m a Celebrity…Get me Out of Here and then in 2011 she joined the X Factor team – firstly as presenter of the Xtra Factor, and then working on the main show itself.

“I have always loved light entertainment, you really can’t have any inhibitions in television. You can’t take yourself too seriously and you have to learn to laugh when it goes wrong or it just won’t work. Live television is definitely a skill and you are always learning, but I love the thrill of it.

“I still watch X Factor on ‘catch up’, just like I used to watch Strictly. The shows are more similar than you think. They are great family Saturday night entertainment.”

She says her parents visit her in London a lot and that she tries to get back to Norfolk when she can.

“All my family still live in Norwich and as well as my brother and sisters, I have lots of nieces and nephews who I adore.”

Do they love watching their aunty on Strictly?

“They absolutely love it, but it makes me laugh as they also love Pixie (Lott) and Steve (Backshall), so they asked me if it is okay to vote for them,” she says.

“I am coming home for Christmas, which will be great, because I will get to see all my family and the children as well. There will be a lot of popping in and out of everyone’s houses and I love going to the Garden House pub.”

Before Caroline began rehearsing for Strictly she took her first trip to Africa to see how cash raised through Sport Relief 2014 was already changing lives.

“It was both difficult and brilliant at the same time. It was strangely uplifting to be reminded how much other people are still willing to help others in need, despite the constant negativity we live with.

While making films for the charity, she visited the World Jewish Relief project which supports and teaches skills to those orphaned during the devastating 1994 genocide.

“Being there makes you think how lucky you are and it also makes you really appreciate your family and those you love,” she says.

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