How are you enjoying Strictly?
I absolutely love it, but it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, as I’m not a dancer. I’m 51 and nothing is as bendy – knees, shoulders, back – as it was when I was 20. It’s an opportunity to challenge myself and my body, and hopefully show my daughters and women over 50 you’re never too old to learn something new.
How do you get on with your Strictly partner, Giovanni Pernice?
I felt an instant connection with him. I prayed I would get him, because he’s perfect – the right height and personality and we have the same dark colouring, so we look like a good pair. We’re both Virgos, both Italian, so we are explosive and disagree, because that’s just the way we work. But he’s somebody who can handle me and all I care about is not letting him down.
What do you think about the so-called curse of Strictly?
It’s a crazy question. I’m not going into this looking for an affair and neither is Gio. I’ve been married for 22 years and I have no interest in messing around.
How is your good friend Drag Race host RuPaul?
We’re soul mates on a friendship level, have been best friends for 30 years and together on Drag Race for 10 years. He’s my rock, like my other husband, and I look up to him. It’s so exciting creating a quintessentially British version of Drag Race here. The contestants, drag humour, the wit, the chat and grittiness – the fabulousness.
You have two daughters, Lillie, 19, and Lola, 17. How important is motherhood to you?
It’s everything. My daughters and I are very close. They’re brilliant, strong, independent kids, but have both battled depression in the past. Lillie’s had quite a journey exploring her identity. She likes girls and identifies as queer. She’s flying the nest soon and I’ll be devastated, but I’m super-proud of her.
How do you look after yourself?
I’m a steady Betty, I don’t do ups and downs. I don’t like getting myself into a tizzy any more. I had an eating disorder at 13 which lasted until I was 24. It’s so tough to hate the skin you’re in. Exercise in the gym, having at least eight hours sleep a night, and a good diet – gluten free and vegan – all play a part.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
RuPaul told me once to stop taking life so seriously. It’s about living life and enjoying it. Of course, there are moments which aren’t going to be fun, but nothing bad lasts forever. Age brings lines, but also wisdom.
Strictly Come Dancing continues on BBC One tonight at 7.20pm, Drag Race UK is on BBC3 iPlayer
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