Bobby Brazier isn’t burdened by blisters. Not a new tongue-twister – a genuinely surprising fact about someone who has danced continuously for nine hours a day, every day for two months as part of his intensive Strictly training.
“My body’s doing well, it’s adapted to dance life quite well. I’m quite proud of it,” he reports as if it’s a separate entity, which it probably feels like at this stage. He does have a pain in the neck though, and no of course he’s not talking about pro partner Dianne Buswell.
“Last week, with the Argentine Tango,” he says. “I’ve never felt pain like it. My upper shoulders, my upper back and my neck were in absolute pieces because of the lift… that Craig gave us a six for.” I start booing at the memory of this travesty, and Bobby laughs: “No, no, I’m only joking. It’s OK.”
Bobby and Dianne are taking a quick break from rehearsals for tonight’s show to chat, and say training is going well. “At this point in the week, there’s not much more information I can really give to Bobby,” Dianne explains. “So it’s all about running it through to make it feel comfortable and ready.
“We’ve been training from nine till six lately, as the competition goes on we get a few more hours in because your dances get a bit more complicated, and the expectations get higher. So you kind of up the ante with everything.” Since EastEnders star Bobby Foxtrotted onto the Strictly floor this season, in the glow of his National Television Awards win for Best Newcomer, he’s captured the hearts of the nation.
He seems to have a unique appeal, to people of all ages, from every walk of life. It’s hard not to assume that he is instantly applauded by everyone he sees all the time, cheered on every step, lifted up on strangers’ shoulders and carried adoringly wherever he needs to go whenever he walks down the street.
“Well, that would be lovely, but I don’t really walk down the street,” he says, amused. “I’m in the training room too much. The other day, for the first time in literally two months, I went out, I went to the Tottenham game with my dad and my brother and there were lots of people there, very supportive, and like ‘Oi oi!’ and that’s always lovely. To go out and do something normal in a big crowd, it felt quite surreal because it had been so long, but it was really, really, really nice.”
So it’s fair to say that Strictly has taken over his life completely? “That’s true,” he agrees, “But that’s what we signed up for. And also, I wanted to learn how to dance. The other day for the first time, I had to remind myself that actually, this isn’t going to last forever. But actually, it’s just a short three months, if I’m lucky.”
Dianne has to juggle this intense schedule with her relationship with actor Joe Sugg, whom she met when they partnered on the show in 2018. Luckily, he is well used to her disappearing on this yearly glitterball quest. “Since I’ve been with Joe, I’ve been in this job and I go off on tours and I come back and then Strictly season starts,” she says.
“So I barely get to see him much. But he understands. He was one of the contestants, so he understands how much time and energy it takes and how much the show means to me. He’s always supportive. Whatever I do with my dancing, he knows it’s my job and it’s my passion, and he’s always been so supportive of me and Bobby.”
Bobby has met Joe a couple of times, and when pressed on whether that was awkward, especially after all the speculation about whether Bobby and Dianne kissed at the end of last week’s routine, the pair dissolve into giggles. “Of course, it wasn’t awkward! I don’t feel awkward at all,” Dianne insists.
She stays in touch with all her old dance partners but the bond between these two is something special. “Bobby and I will definitely be friends for life, that’s for sure,” Dianne says. “I feel very grateful that I was paired with Bobby. I knew from the minute I met him that he had a lovely aura about him and when I danced with him in the very beginning, his passion and love for learning really made me smile. I love the fact he puts so much passion and energy into each performance and that’s what I fell in love with in dancing, the whole telling a story aspect, and Bobby does that.
David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock for NTA)
“I feel very lucky and honoured to be his partner, and teach him.” Bobby has had a positive attitude to trying new things instilled in him by his dad Jeff. In his NTA speech, Bobby quoted his catchphrase, “Because I Can.” “Growing up, I remember hearing him say that a lot,” Bobby explains. “It was just something that he’d say and as a result, I think I’ve grown into someone who thinks they can do quite a lot of things. It’s not a bad mindset to be in.”
Being a positive person feels like a tall order in the world today, never mind for someone who lost their mum, reality star Jade Goody, at the age of just five. Bobby says: “I think my willingness and desire to find peace and be in love, that being at the forefront of my mind as much as I can… people say seek and you will find, you know?”
I wonder if knowing how loved Jade was, and how many people are rooting for Bobby because of this, feels like extra pressure. “It feels like a blessing,” he says. “It feels like I’ve been given a head start. I’ve been given an opportunity and I can do my own thing.” When he says he wants to be in love, does he mean that he’s on the lookout for a relationship? He replies: “I want to be in love with everybody.”
Does he know that everybody is in love with him? He laughs again. “I think a lot of that comes from being Dianne’s partner. Dianne is the most popular person I’ve ever met. I’ve been given so many blessings and fortunately, I get to walk in them all.”
Bobby’s plans after Strictly are vague – he’ll go back to EastEnders but doesn’t know for how long. He adds: “I think my next big step is a small role in something with a good director. I want to master my craft.” The world outside the Strictly bubble doesn’t exist for Bobby at the moment. Does he think he can win?
He replies: “Well, I’ve seen the support that we both get in the studio, on social media, everywhere. Our place in the show is determined very much by these people, and I’m seeing so much of it that I can’t help but feel that they’ll take us further.” He won’t come out and say it, so I will. He stands a very good chance of winning, and he deserves to. Because you can, Bobby, because you can!