Catherine Tyldesley admits her husband is getting ribbed about it, Will Bayley has no such fears because, he says, he’s “too ugly”, while James Cracknell is more concerned about his lack of dancing skills.
The ex-Coronation street actor, Paralympian and retired Olympic rower are among 15 contestants about to submit themselves to not only the 17th season of Strictly Come Dancing, but also its so-called curse: the risk of the end of a relationship as a result of becoming romantically linked with a dance partner.
After having the phenomenon explained to him, the Made in Chelsea star Jamie Laing said: “Oh no, everyone’s going to become pregnant?”
Laing will avoid any trouble after being forced to pull out this week with an injury, although he will appear on Saturday night because the opening show is pre-recorded.
The idea of a curse might be funnier if it hadn’t happened so often. Tyldesley admitted it had been a topic of conversation with her husband, Tom Pitfield.
“Tom has got a WhatsApp group with all his mates. A lot of them are rugby players so there is a lot of banter going on. They are all like: ‘Oh mate, you’re screwed.’ But he’s just like: ‘Whatevs.’ It’s not something … we’re happily married. It’s [the curse] a bizarre thing isn’t it?”
In previous years, Cracknell was reportedly asked by his then wife not to sign up because of curse fears. He said he was not dwelling on it, however, because he suspected he might not be on the programme for long.
“I’m more worried about not being able to dance, that’s the biggest concern for me … I’ve got no skills in my locker.”
Last year the programme got wall-to-wall curse headlines after the comedian Seann Walsh and his dance partner Katya Jones, both of whom were in relationships, were snapped kissing.
Asked about the risk, this year’s comedian contestant Chris Ramsey turned the question into a promotional opportunity.
“Me and my wife have been married for five years, we’ve got a child, but more importantly, me and my wife have got one of the top podcasts in the UK and if you think I’m jeopardising that for any kind of fling you’ve got another think coming.”
Every year, Strictly viewers complain they have not heard of the YouTubers, DJs and soap stars who regularly make up the roster of celebrities.
This year they have the reassuring presence of Anneka Rice.
“I’ve always said no, no, no! This year … I’ve done lots of new things and I just feel slightly reckless and out of control.”
In contrast, the table tennis champion Bayley said yes to going on Strictly in a heartbeat. “No one knows who I am so I’m getting it out there.” Is he worried about the curse? “No, not at all. I’m too ugly!”
The bookies’ favourite to lift the crown is the former footballer Alex Scott, followed closely by the EastEnders actor Emma Barton.
The outsiders are the former footballer David James, and an American who is a superstar to many, but completely unknown to most.
Michelle Visage is RuPaul’s judging sidekick on the show Drag Race. She is also making a documentary about the breast implants she had removed six months ago. “I was sick for 20 years and didn’t know it,” she said.
“Toxins are leaving my body that have been in for 30 years. It is kind of like a new body, a new beginning and I want to show women that they are not their bodies and they are not victim to what society says they need to be.”
James, like Rice, had been asked several times to be on the show and always declined, including this year. “There is a thing about celebrity, as an ex-sportsman, which didn’t sit right and I just assumed that celebrity shows were all similar, blah blah blah.”
It was a chat with with his friend, the retired swimmer and former contestant Mark Foster, that changed his mind.
And now he was in it, James wanted to win. As did everyone, he said. “The whole group are competitive.”