Despite the fact that she rarely watches TV these days, Anita Dobson has previous when it comes to ratings records. 30 million people tuned in to watch her get ditched by EastEnders bad-boy Den Watts on Christmas Day 1986 – still a record figure for a soap opera – and last weekend, Strictly Come Dancing topped X Factor for the first time in it’s history. Maybe the producers over at Daybreak should give her a call..
“I’ve caught bits of Strictly in the past and it looked like such fun!” she says as we sit around a desk in BBC Television Centre. “I’d been thinking about it for a few years and I finally decided to do it. I’ve always wanted to learn to dance properly and it’s so exciting to be involved. Each week there’s something new to enjoy, I just love being on the show so much!”
Everyone at home can tell how much Anita enjoys being a part of Strictly and the fact that she lives on the same road as Gary Barlow and Simon Cowell makes things just a little bit sweeter. Well it would do, if Anita was a competitive person, but she’s so delightfully nice when you meet her that you doubt she’s ever said anything bad about anybody..
“I haven’t seen Gary recently, but I’ve heard the ratings are slipping!” she says. “I think the fact that there are so many strong couples is exciting for audiences. Apparently in previous years there’s been one celebrity who was clearly favourite which isn’t the case this year.”
So why does she think that Strictly has edged ahead of X Factor in the ratings? “I’m not sure, but it would be great to think that the fact that all the contestants get along so well together has something to do with it. I don’t want to watch people being upset – that upsets me!” Well it’s certainly got nothing to do with her hubby Brian May, who has by all accounts developed a penchant for Kitty Brucknell.
So what does the future hold for Anita Dobson? She mentions that she’d quite like to do another TV drama. but you get the impression that she goes where life takes her. Even if she had wanted to, she couldn’t return to Walford after Angie was killed-off by writers in 2002. “They tried to get me doing a spin-off series, but it didn’t feel right. They tried to get me back a couple of times, especially at Den’s first ‘funeral’, but I wanted to leave on a high. I enjoyed my time with EastEnders but why would you want to come back and tarnish that?”