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Caroline Quentin: Strictly’s going to be difficult but it’s sexy and it’s fun. What’s not to like in a time of Covid?

© BBCActress Caroline Quentin
Actress Caroline Quentin

Despite feeling “thrilled and terrified” about her latest role, award-winning actress Caroline Quentin is hoping to inspire older viewers to take up dancing when she waltzes on to their TV screens.

“One of the reasons I thought about doing this now is because we should be taxing ourselves and learning something new as we get older,” said Caroline, who celebrated her 60th birthday in July.

“It’s been a difficult and dark time for mental health issues, for a lot of people. I hope this encourages people 60 and over to do a bit of dance, even if it’s just on your own to a bit of music. It’s so good for your mental health and wellbeing.”

The star of TV shows including Jonathan Creek, Blue Murder, and Kiss Me Kate, Caroline is most famous for playing Dorothy, opposite Martin Clunes, in the hit ’90s sitcom Men Behaving Badly, and hopes her acting experience will serve her well on the dance floor.

“Having showed off for a living, I’m hoping I won’t be too embarrassed to really go for it during the more dramatic dances, and can use that to cover up any nasty footwork or bad arms,” she said.

© Ray Burmiston/BBC/PA Wire
Caroline is looking forward to hitting the dancefloor

Despite her extensive theatre experience, Caroline admitted to being plagued by pre-show nerves. “I am feeling quite trepidatious about the live shows,” she said. “I suffer quite badly from first-night nerves when I’m in plays. It takes a long time to get rid of the shakes and I get quite nauseous.”

Caroline will have her husband Mike and two children cheering her on, especially, to her surprise, her 17-year-old son and his friends. “He’s a brilliant rugby player and what’s funny is that his mates really follow Strictly. They have been really sweet and supportive, and excited I’m on it,” laughed Caroline.

While Caroline has been able to keep working despite the coronavirus pandemic, she remains separated from her family as she bounces from one filming bubble to another.

“I was shooting a feature film so I was just in a Covid bubble with my unit and co-stars. The hardest thing for me is not being able to see my husband and the kids,” she said.

“My bubble for Strictly is going to be very small. It’s probably easier to steer clear of family and friends as much as I can but hopefully we’ll be able to go for a distanced walk at least. There’s no question it’s going to be hard but I don’t want to moan because I want to stay in and do well in competition.”

The Strictly hopeful also enjoys the support of celebrity friends such as Liz Hurley, with whom Caroline recently filmed forthcoming movie Father Christmas Is Back, as well as her Men Behaving Badly co-star Clunes.

“I’ve not spoken to him personally but I hear he thinks I’m in it to win it,” said Caroline. “I was shooting with Liz Hurley and her son Damian and they gave me tips. They love it!”

Above all else, Caroline hopes that the sparkle of Strictly will help banish viewers’ winter blues and provide a dose of cheer in what has been a tough year.

“Everyone I speak to is envious of me being here,” she added.

“Most of what I’ve had is really sweet messages about how exciting it is that, in a gloomy time, I’ll go and have a laugh and enjoy it because it’s been bleak. People long for the joy of it, the sparkle, and the comedy. It’s sexy and it’s fun. What’s not to like in a time of Covid?”