The former Royal Marine carrying the flag for Scotland on Strictly Come Dancing has spoken of his pride at giving the nation a little light at the end of a dark year.
Invictus Games medallist JJ Chalmers, who danced in a specially-made kilt on last night’s show, said he felt he was on a mission to give viewers hope during the pandemic.
The presenter, who, as we reveal today, has always loved the kilt, said: “Every week we all feel this immense sense of purpose. It is just a telly show, but 11 million people tune in, 11 million people that want something a little bit normal right now, and we’re trying our best to give them that light at the end of the tunnel.”
Father-of-two JJ – real name John-James – suffered devastating injuries in 2011 while serving in Afghanistan and had to undergo 30 operations and learn how to walk again.
He was given a boost during rehearsals for Strictly earlier this month when his friend, Prince Harry, called him on Zoom to wish him luck.
But the 33-year-old said: “I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m here for a sympathy vote. My disabilities have made me who I am, but I wouldn’t want them to define me.
“I watch the other dancers, thinking, ‘I’d love to be able to do that,’ but I have to focus on the things I can do, and with a beautiful routine I feel the disabilities melt away.”
The kilt he wore was crafted from Cameron of Erracht military tartan after JJ made it through to this week’s Strictly show.
Emma Wilkinson, who works for Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers in Edinburgh, spent 14 hours making it perfect to be showcased during JJ’s Viennese waltz.
She was sent a video by JJ and his dance partner, Amy Dowden, thanking her for her efforts.
Emma, 27, said: “I was a bit teary and I’m so excited about having the kilt I have made on TV.”
Zoe Ball is also due to be returning to her role on Strictly’s spin-off show It Takes Two this week after having to take time off over a Covid scare.
The presenter was off as a precaution after developing flu-like symptoms but is understood to have been given the all-clear.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe