A year on from his shock Strictly sacking, Brendan Cole says he is dancing into a new future.
It was on January 30 last year that the fans’ favourite, who had been on the show since it started and was the first winner in 2004, revealed that producers hadn’t asked him back for the latest series.
But as he prepares to tour with his new live concert, Show Man, 42-year-old Brendan said the birth of his son and a packed schedule has helped him to leave behind the disappointment of being fired.
“I knew it was coming, but it was still weird to think I would no longer be a Strictly dancer, and about the uncertainty of what lay ahead,” he said. “It was hard to speak about it without being emotional.
“I used to worry the phone wouldn’t ring but I’ve struggled to keep up with it all, although I know that may not last forever.”
His son, Dante, was born just a few weeks after he left Strictly and gave him something fresh to focus on.
“It was a bit daunting,” admitted Brendan, who also has a six-year-old daughter, Aurelia, with wife Zoe. “I didn’t know what to do with a boy, being the father of a daughter.
“He’s 10 months old now and is a lovely wee boy. These are the great times, with all the cuddles and watching him take his first steps.
“But juggling two is hard work. I don’t know how people with three or four kids can do it – two is more than enough for us.”
Although Aurelia is already showing a talent for singing and dancing, Brendan insists he would never make his children follow in his footsteps. “I would never push them into anything,” he says. “I want them to find their own feet.”
Being signed up by a weekly magazine to write about Strictly meant Brendan never missed a moment of the last series.
“Sitting through the first episode was hard, the first I’ve never been involved with, but after that one passed I was over it. From then on, I just looked at it critically.”
Brendan says he wouldn’t rule out a return to Strictly – but it would have to be in a new role.
“I would never go back as a dancer, but if the right opportunity came along, I would take a look.
“The judges are pretty established, so I’m not looking at that as an option, but whatever decision I would make would be based on what’s right for my family.”
Not being involved in Strictly gave him the chance to star in panto over Christmas and he also filmed a new BBC documentary series, Pilgrimage, that goes out later in the year, following eight TV people on a journey from Canterbury to the Vatican.
“It was an incredible thing to do, featuring all different personalities and religions. It was fascinating.”
He also has a new fitness series on Sky, Dance Fit, with former Strictly dance partner, Kelly Brook. But most of his time is being spent on new live tour, Show Man. It’s his 11th year of performing an annual show.
Brendan says: “This one is more theatrical. There have been so many films recently like La La Land and The Greatest Showman and I wanted to have that slant, but it also has everything people love about Strictly.”
Brendan knows he will never escape Strictly’s shadow and is happy for it to remain part of his identity. “People still stop and ask how Strictly was this year, and I have to explain I’m not part of it, and then they say, ‘Well, what do you do now?’
“It was a big part of my life. I put a stamp on the show, and what I did helped form what it became, but that’s put to bed now and I’m looking forward to the new chapters of my life.”
Brendan Cole’s Show Man tours Glasgow, Perth, Edinburgh and Dunfermline between February 27 and March 16