Erin loves a touch of Hollywood glamour
Strictly Come Dancing favourite Erin Boag is adding a touch of tinseltown magic to her latest show, as Nigel Powlson discovered.
THE problem with being married to one of the most famous ballroom dancers in the country is that you never dare to step out onto the dancefloor for fear that the world is watching your every false move.
Which is probably why Strictly star Erin Boag's businessman husband Peter has to "have a few drinks" before joining her for a twirl or two.
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"He danced at our wedding," says Erin. "But that was a very nerve-racking time for him. He feels like everyone is watching him but he can dance a bit. He's not got two left feet but his timing is a bit off."
We are, of course, more used to seeing Erin glide across the floor with her elegant partner Anton Du Beke. The couple came together professionally 17 years ago and have brought style and glamour by the bucketload to the nation's Saturday nights after being ever presents through a decade of Strictly Come Dancing.
But as soon as the latest TV series ended, Anton and Erin were strapping on their dancing shoes again and heading out on tour, giving fans the chance to see them live.
It's their fifth live show and it promises to be their most glamorous yet. Anton and Erin Go To Hollywood comes to De Montfort Hall in March and it will be dripping with tinseltown magic.
"Everyone loves a bit of Fred and Ginger," declares Erin. "The Hollywood theme seemed perfect because of all the great music.
"We travel with an orchestra and when you have them and great music, it's very easy to put a show together. Hollywood music is so glamorous and wonderful and something we enjoy doing.
"Anton loves the whole top and hat tails thing, and I can dress up in my fabulous rhinestone outfits and we can go out there and do our stuff.
"I think after ten series of Strictly, the audience do know what they want to see and what they expect to see and, hopefully, we deliver.
"We also have our fabulous singer, Lance Ellington, who brings down the house – he's too good really and we are thinking of firing him in case he gets more applause than us!"
It's a demanding schedule that requires Anton and Erin to be fighting fit but Erin does know the secret of keeping healthy.
"A good breakfast," she declares. "Our job's a physical one, so we have to be pretty fit. It's demanding but also enjoyable and when you love what you do, half the battle's won. So plenty of sleep and a good breakfast, that's what I always do."
The live shows are only possible because Strictly Come Dancing have made Anton and Erin household names. So they owe a lot to the Saturday night phenomenon hosted by Bruce Forsyth.
"There are only three of us left from the original series," says Erin. "Anton and I and Brendan Cole are part of the furniture really. People come along to the live shows because they love Strictly Come Dancing. It brings in a wide audience, people who never would have thought they would enjoy dancing love it.
"When the BBC put together the format it wasn't even called Strictly Come Dancing and I'm not sure anyone expected it be such a success. For the pilot we called our celebrities 'guinea pigs' as we didn't know how it would work. It didn't just work, it went around the world and is in the Guinness Book of Records for the TV show being seen in the most countries. It's just started in Thailand and the Lebanon. It's big in India, Australia, everywhere."
So what does Erin think is the show's secret?
"There's nothing in that you can't enjoy whether you are five years old or 85," she says. "A whole family can watch it together. There's beautiful music and costumes. The reason it works with celebrities is that people relate to their back grounds. They are all different types of people and every emotion comes through. Before Ann Widdecombe came on people thought they knew her, but they really discovered her through the show."
Erin has had a wide variety of celebrity partners with different degrees of natural talent including Julian Clary, Peter Shilton, Rory Bremner, Colin Jackson and Austin Healy.
She's smiled through some tortuous sessions but says she's still been lucky.
"They have come in all shapes and sizes but I'm very fortunate because I can honestly say that I haven't wanted to hand any of the 10 back. They have all been great, whether they can dance or not, and are all still friends.The two best dancers I have worked with are Colin and Austin."
She danced with former Olympic hurdler Colin in the last Christmas special, recreating the magic that took Erin to her highest place in Strictly, second in 2005.
She admits though that it's a worrying moment when she finally gets to know who her celebrity dance partner will be in each series.
"We don't have any say, the BBC partners us all up – through personality, height, who knows. Sometimes you go 'wow' and sometimes you say 'Oh my God, this is going to be a long one'. I learnt very early on that it's better to get someone full of life and personality than someone who can just dance."
Erin was born in New Zealand and started dancing when she was just three years old. She moved to Australia as a teenager and came to England initially for two years to further her dancing career but never returned home.
She says: "I wouldn't want anyone to think I had pushy parents. It was just a little bit of fun at first.
"It's a very sporty lifestyle in New Zealand so I did hockey, gymnastics, swimming and I danced. But it was just a hobby until I was 15 and I decided I really wanted to do it properly.
"So I moved to Australia when I was 19 and then here when I was 21. Now, I'd rather be here than anywhere else."