Daisy’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing Special’ - Christmas
By Daisy Mae
I don’t recall sending a letter to Santa this year – but if I had, my top favourite present would have been a visit to Strictly Come Dancing! - Santa must have been listening!
(Maybe my date with Santa Jingles last year, had something to do with it? ... )
I always enter the draw for Strictly tickets, and always get a rejection. So, when I opened the email which said “Congratulations, you have been successful! Here are two tickets to the Strictly Christmas Special“– I couldn’t believe it!
I actually phoned the BBC to ask if it was a hoax!
Now it was a double surprise because we (Edward and I ) were getting married (!) - Yes - it’s been a big secret!) – and the email arrived just a day or two before the wedding! A wedding present from the BBC! (I just knew it was really worth paying my subscription all those years!)
We Love Strictly!
To say We Love Strictly is an understatement. This is for numerous reasons. When we first met, four and a half years ago, we started ballroom dancing and joined our local dance school – The DM Dance Centre, Portswood. Our lives were transformed from the very first class. We have loved our dance classes, dinner dances, Balls, going to watch dance shows, dance demonstrations and competitions, dance weekends, dance holidays – and Yes – the Donaheys Strictly weekends - Dancing with the Strictly stars!
When Strictly is on the TV over the winter, we watch it all the time, including ‘It Takes Two’. We love Ian Waite and his magic pen and always stand in front of the TV trying to copy his advice. We love the highs and lows of the competition. The Strictly final we spend with dance friends, eating fish and chips and drinking champagne! When it’s over for another year we feel bereft – we need therapy! If anyone appreciates Strictly tickets - OMG – it’s us!
So the date for filming the Strictly Christmas Special was Monday 26th November. I rang my now-best-mate at the BBC , and she explained we would need to get our tickets validated at 9am that day, then be sent away to come back for the show at 3.30pm.
With a horrible feeling of gloom I worked out we needed to queue – Yes, she said – and we had to be there by 5am (!) to guarantee our tickets would be stamped!
So - unbelievably – as it was the end of November, and bitterly cold – that’s exactly what we did!
We stood there for 4 hours, hopelessly - as it turned out - unprepared.
Everyone else in the queue had camping chairs, sleeping bags, flasks of hot tea. We just had an anorak!
The only good thing was – it didn’t rain. I was so cold, Edward made me sit in the car for half an hour, but I felt so guilty he wasn’t able to do this as he had to wait in the queue, I only did this for half an hour. My legs were like lumps of raw ice. In the end I walked to the nearest big Tesco and bought fleecy tights to put under my trousers and hats, scarves and gloves, plus two large takeaway cups of tea. Edward distracted himself listening to the radio on his mobile. I don’t know how we got through it, but we did.
Eventually, feeling like Nanook of the North - x 2 - we got the tickets stamped at 9am, and staggered on frostbitten limbs back to the car. As we had to be back at the studio at 2.30pm, we decided to do a bit of a reccie and find a suitable car park. We located one, not too far away , where there was a swimming pool, a lot of people coming and going, and where there were a few spaces. This would do for later.
Back at the hotel we ate poached eggs on toast, and drank a gallon of tea. I tried to sleep but just could not get warmed up. I think my core temperature had plummeted. By 12 o’clock we were showered and dressed for the Christmas Special in Christmas best! They said dress up – no jeans! Edward wore his red Christmas jacket, and I wore a bright pink dress. We had been warned we wouldn’t eat until it finished around 10.30/11.00pm, so we needed to eat lunch, and we had more food, even though we weren’t really hungry – and set off.
Disaster (darling!) – no spaces in our chosen car park – we went round and round – and no spaces anywhere else either. What then ensued was a John Cleese, ‘Clockwise’, moment – tractors, buses, Police cars etc .. no-where to turn round – temporary traffic lights ... we were frantically thinking we had come all this way and would miss out just because we couldn’t park the blasted car!!
In the end, Edward dropped me by the studio, where I joined (another) queue – and he went off alone to try and find a parking space. I was worried, waiting in the queue, about what would happen if he didn’t appear. Had we really done all this only to be thwarted by UK traffic congestion?
However – all turned out well – as he appeared next to me in the queue about 40 minutes later - having parked at the hotel and walked nearly 2miles, as fast as he could, to get back in time!
Around 3.30 pm we were ushered into a marquee, where we handed in our coats, and mobile phones. No phones allowed inside the studio! Then we sat there for 3 hours! There was a BBC stall selling memorabilia, and you could have your photo taken against a Strictly back drop for a fee – the queue for this was humungous and so we didn’t do it. There was a small bar and we had two very expensive, and not very nice, glasses of wine in plastic cups.
Eventually they announced we could go in to the studio. We were called forward by ticket number, and followed the usher round the side of the studio to our seats.
This is where things got very much better. The studio was all decked out for Christmas with a red theme and falling snow flakes, all around the walls. We sat 6 rows back behind the judges, at the Bruno end. So we could see well and were very close to the action. We saw Dave Arch and his band, Tess and Claude, and recognised the stairs up to the Claudetorium. The dance floor was white – like a skating rink.
I hadn’t realised we would have a warm up man, who was excellent. He got us all to practise clapping, and standing and sitting for a standing ovation. During the session he told jokes and also ran a little competition during which a few lucky people won prizes – books written and given away by Darcy and Craig. Not us sadly! (One prize was for the couple who had been married the longest – this was 53 years! If the prize had been for the couple who had been married the shortest it might well have been us – 24 days!)
I have never seen a TV production before. It amazed me that they filmed it backwards, so we watched the end of the show first.
Strictly Special at Christmas – the Verdict!? – Very Special Indeed!
What was the verdict? Going to Strictly is a bucket list experience. Loads of sparkle!! We were so excited to be part of the show, and will remember it forever. If you get the chance – do it – but be prepared – unlike us – for hypothermia, body melt down and fatigue!
We have slept like proverbial logs the past 2 nights – and been completely unable to get up in the morning. In our mid 50’s – this Arctic wilderness experience which took place in Elstree – knocked the stuffing out of us.
But you know what – we did it! – and we have a BBC Strictly coffee mug to prove it!
But if Jim could fix it for me – I would love to dance on that dance floor – just once in a lifetime. I probably need to dream on – but a girl can have her aspirations!
My Strictly Christmas – if you watch the TV carefully on the Strictly Christmas Special – I’m the pink blurry blob, right behind Bruno’s right eye!!
Daisy Mae x
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Then we watched the 6 couples dancing in The Christmas Special competition, and the judges giving their comments. If something went wrong, they had to do the whole dance again. The TV crew were clearing up and setting the scene again for the next dance, we had to wait in between dances.
The dancing as always, was incredible. I just love being up close and personal to these talented people. Amy Dowden deserves a mention, as she danced so exquisitely. They all take my breath away.
I don’t want to write too much and spoil the show, so I won’t say too much detail. There was a lot good fun, laughter, and some excellent scoring and comments from the judges.
Eventually we were asked to vote for the winning couple. While the votes were being counted we were given carton of juice and chocolate Freddo – most generous of the BBC!
When it was all over, we walked back to or hotel and bought a little midnight feast at the garage on our way past! So we sat up in bed with cups of tea and nosh and relived the day!