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Strictly Come Dancing: Backstage with Tess Daly

 
 

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It was a wet and windy Saturday afternoon, but that didn't dampen our spirits as we headed across London to BBC Television Centre, home of the Saturday evening blast of sequins and sparkle that is Strictly Come Dancing.

But though seats in the audience are like gold dust, we went one better: hanging out with presenter Tess Daly, who, despite her gruelling schedule on the day, was more than happy to chat about the show, her style and her favourite on-screen pieces. 

Even off-camera, she was looking stunning in her outfit for the day: leather trousers by Alexander McQueen and killer heeled boots by Isabel Marant.

Tess shows ELLE the way

On the clothes rail were her two outfits for the weekend's shows. Saturday night's was an elegant floor-length dress with leather detail by Catherine Deane, who has a growing celebrity fanbase including Beyoncé, Lana del Rey and Pippa Middleton. Tess couldn't wait to wear it. 'We discuss what to wear sometimes weeks in advance,' she says of working with her stylist Annabel Kerman, who has been working with Tess on the show for several years now. 

Saturday and Sunday's outfits ready

Sunday night's showstopper was to be a knock-out Stella McCartney jumpsuit, which we all wanted to take home with us.

In her dressing room, Tess took us through her rail of costumes from past shows and weeks to come. 

A seriously glamourous rail

 

'When Brucie was away and it was the girls [Tess was joined by regular Sunday co-host Claudia Winkleman for the Saturday night show when Bruce Forsyth took a mid-series break] doing the show, I somehow didn't feel comfortable wearing a long dress. I wanted something that felt smart enough for doing the man's job,' she says of the black Paul Smith dress with white collar and cuffs that she wore. 'And I love this dress!' she says. 'It did the job perfectly'.

The dress she wore the week Bruce was away

Despite being surrounded by beautiful designer clothes, Tess says she loves a bit of high street too. 'Topshop shoes are great. And always very comfortable. Westfield is just next door [to Television Centre] so on my way in I'll have a peek in the shops to see what's new. I also love a bit of Zara Home – I can never have enough cushions.' 

She loves Topshop too!

If you ever wonder where Tess's energy comes from, wonder no more: she has a 'special box' filled with sweets and Lucozade and other treats to power her through the day. We loved this idea, especially as we were invited to get stuck in! 'The box comes to set with me all day - everyone will have a chocolate. Dancers and celebs, we all love the box,' she says. 

Tess's goodie box, we may have had a dip in (or two)

She also claims her secret weapon is... a Polo mint secreted in her bra for during the show. 

The refreshment is necessary, she says, because, 'I can't drink any water for two hours before the show. As we are live, there is just not enough time to get to the loo.' Even when she was pregnant? 'Oh no, that wouldn't have been possible. I was allowed to go then!'

Talking us through her outfits with her mega watt smile

She says a lot of the celebs get very nervous – and she is always on hand for a supportive hug. 

Ooooh look who we bumped into, its Nicky Byrne

'Strictly is home from from home for me,' she says, as she hangs out on set. 'I'll stay here as long as they'll have me.'

Something that is very clear on screen is the chemistry between Tess and Claudia. 'I love hanging out with Claudia, she has a wicked sense of humour,' Tess says of her friend. And their rapport extends to their clothes: their wardrobe on the show is coordinated to so they compliment each other and avoid any clashes – while keeping their individual styles. 

Tess and her stylist Annabel chat through the jewellery for the show, BLING!

Strictly has been enjoying a run of success this year, regularly trouncing The X Factor in the ratings. 'This is our year,' agrees Tess. 'There is such a great bond between everyone on the show.' Of the new judge, Darcey Bussell, she says: 'Darcey has fitted in brilliantly. She has so much credibility and can really handle the boys.' And as for the long standing judges: 'Len is salt of the earth. Bruno is brilliantly bonkers. And Craig is... Well, Craig is Craig!'  

Sarah Burrows, Tess's make up artist "the best in the business"

 

We asked about her favourite personal Strictly moments, she mentions dancing with Anton De Beke. 'I was pregnant at the time but nobody knew. We hadn't made it public yet,' she says.

Getting mic-ed up before rehearsals, she's ever the pro

Favourite past outfits on the show include the stunning Stella McCartney dress she wore for the launch of the show this year – 'I felt amazing in that dress!' – and the yellow Paul & Joe jumpsuit she wore to launch the show last year. 

Those Isabel Marant boots on the famous dance floor...

As our time with Tess draws to a close, she tells us that she loves how much female input there is on the show. The executive producer and series producer are both women, and, alongside Tess, Claudia and Zoe Ball - who presents the weekday Strictly show It Takes Two - it's definitely a girl thing. Which is probably why we all love it.

We head back out in to the dark and rain, sprinkled with a bit of Strictly magic... Now all we need to do it get home in time to watch the show. Taxi!  

Strictly Come Dancing: Backstage with Tess Daly
 
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