Artem Chigvintsev has to be one of the luckiest blokes on telly. While his Strictly colleagues are dragging people like Anne Widdecombe, Edwina Currie around the dance-floor, in his two years on the show he’s been paired with Kara Tointon (with whom he is now shacked up) and Holly Vallance. No wonder the poor bloke’s back has gone. But when we shlepped all the way out to Wembley to meet the Australian singer/dancer/Neighbour, we were wondering what her boyfriend made of the way his bird had been paired with such a charmer.
“He couldn’t give a sh*t to be honest,” said Vallance in that lovable Aussie brogue of hers. “We all saw the stories coming a mile off, so it wasn’t as if we weren’t prepared. We’re both professionals and we’re here to do a job..” At the time of typing Artem will be making a comeback on Saturday after damaging his spine last week (these dancers put soft footballers to shame don’t they?) but Brendan is primed to step in if something ‘terrible’ happens on at the last moment.
While the gossips will be disappointed to hear that Artem and Holly’s relationship is strictly professional (no pun intended) it’s interesting to hear Vallance speak up in defence of good friend Nancy Dell’Olio. “I really miss her because she’s such good entertainment, she’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” explains the ex-soap star. “A lot of people don’t realise that she’s not serious – ever. I think because of the accent, some people don’t understand the tone, but she’s fabulous.”
“She’s been getting a bit of stick for being so outspoken since she left the competition but it’s all said in jest. We sit and cackle to each other down the phone about it. I think it’s a bit silly and naive to think that all of that is real. She’d be a massive egomaniac! She’s actually very sweet.”
So can she and Artem win? (fitness permitting) “..We try not to think about it. If you don’t have any expectations then you can’t be disappointed. I could be here until Christmas or it could all end tomorrow. We’re just trying to do a good job every week.”
And what a job Holly is doing, consistently at the right end of the leaderboard (she’s threw a few shapes during that pop career of hers) but you can’t help but feel that for Vallance, the competition is business rather than pleasure. When we ask her what her plans for the future are she tells us that she’s not sure how long she’ll be ’employed’ by the Beeb, so she can’t say what’s on the horizon or when. The girl from Melbourne isn’t short of offers, but is “holding off for as long as possible” before committing to anything.
Neighbours fans definitely shouldn’t expect to see her coming back to Ramsay Street any time soon, if ever, but we could be seeing a bit more of her in the UK after the competition ends. “I’ve been in America for a few years but I have had some TV offers here,” she explains before hinting that a film career is what she really wants. “One project I’m currently looking it is a gangster film, something like Revolver,” she says. Let’s hope Guy Ritchie is a Strictly fan.