Strictly star Gorka Marquez will never forget the moment that changed his life forever – and how he almost missed out because he was on the other side of the world at the time.
Spanish-born Gorka has become one of the most popular professional dancers on TV’s biggest show. But he was previously one of the pros on live dance show Burn The Floor, which has been a platform to success for other dancers such as like current champion Kevin Clifton.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” said Gorka, 28, who is in Glasgow tonight for the first Scottish date of the Here Come The Boys tour.
“It was a Wednesday and I was doing Burn The Floor on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.
“We had just come into Bermuda and there had been a few emails but I hadn’t seen them because I didn’t always have internet at sea.
“Then the Burn The Floor team said the producers of Strictly had been in touch with them saying they wanted to interview me. So, I had to go ashore and find a little café that had wifi so I could do a FaceTime call. It was such a weird moment, it will always stick in the memory.”
Gorka joined the show in 2016, being paired first with EastEnders star Tameka Empson.
And he admits nothing prepared him for the level of interest that comes with appearing on the BBC’s flagship Saturday night entertainment show.
“When we did the red-carpet launch that year at the BBC’s Elstree Studios I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said Gorka.
“When I walked down the stairs with all the lights and cameras and this huge crowd screaming I had to pinch myself.”
Gorka went on to reach the final in 2017 with singer Alexandra Burke and was paired with Katie Piper last year.
Although they were eliminated in week four, he says Katie, who was the victim of a horrendous acid attack, made a huge impression.
“I learned so many positive things from Katie,” said Gorka. “Her strength and the way she approaches life is so inspirational.”
Gorka has found more than fame on Strictly. He fell for Gemma Atkinson, who reached the final with Aljaz Skorjanec in 2017, and they are now expecting their first child together.
Aljaz and Gorka are two of the three boys in the show, the third being Giovanni Pernice.
They’re sure to delight audiences with dazzling routines showcasing their different dance backgrounds. And Gorka says he couldn’t wish to be on the road with better buddies.
“They are my two closest friends on the show. We’re the same age, like the same things and we’ll be aiming to bring our own talents to the stage.
“It’s like three best friends touring the country.”
It can be a punishing life for a dancer – they have all just finished the first Strictly Come Dancing: The Professionals show – and Gorka actually missed the end of the last series with a back injury.
“I’m fine now but it was upsetting at the time,” he adds.
“It’s like a professional footballer missing a big final.
“You work so hard and you don’t want not to take to the floor.”
Here Come The Boys Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, tonight, Eden Court, Inverness, Tue-Wed, Aberdeen Music Hall, Thur, Perth Concert Hall, Fri