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Interview Brendan Cole

Ali Schofield talks celebrity, touring and Googling his own name with the bad boy of Ballroom

Interview: Brendan Cole

“As it came out, it was the worst thing I could have ever said… I apologise profusely for that. It was one of the times where me going too far was way too far.

“I screwed up big time.”

Brendan Cole is filling me in on the story behind that comment he made to Fiona Phillips – ‘you’d be a crap shag’ – when the GMTV presenter was partnering him in the third series of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

To be fair to the dancer, the whole episode does seem to have been blown up out of proportion.

Teaching a two-left-footed celebrity the Tango must, for such a competitive ballroom dancer as Cole, feel a bit like a stiletto to the toe, literally. Particularly after his well-publicised win, both professionally and personally, with first series partner Natasha Kaplinsky which led to his split from fellow ‘Strictly…’ dancer Camilla Dallerup.

“I wasn’t getting anything out of her and so I was trying to push her buttons… I said ‘what would you do if you were trying to seduce your husband?’ or you know, something along those lines and again she did exactly the same as what she’d done the last time, so I said, ‘oh crikey, you’d be a crap shag wouldn’t you?’.”

The New-Zealand born former builder is no stranger to controversy but then, he is the first to admit positioning himself just-so in the media spotlight. Since ‘Strictly…’ began in 2004, Cole has appeared on ITV’s ‘Celebrity Love Island’, Living TV’s ‘Britain’s Next Top Model’, Sky’s ‘Intrepid Journeys’ and the BBC’s ‘Just the Two Of Us’ with singing mentor Beverley Knight.

“I hate the people that are on the TV and getting some media attention and then they say ‘It’s so intrusive’ and ‘I want them to go away’, well get off the television, go and do a normal job!” Cole says.

“All media is a little bit pushed to make it seem more extreme than it actually is. The only time I really mind is A, if it’s not true or B, if it affects your loved ones, your family.

“At least you’re an interesting enough character for them to write something about you.”

Indeed, it seems unlikely that many of the other, less ‘interesting’, dancers on ‘Strictly…’ could command their own show on a second 23 date tour, as Cole is currently occupied, with two evenings at Leeds Grand this fortnight.

The Live & Unjudged tour sees Cole joined by a 12 piece band, two singers, four fellow dancers and his brother Scott Cole, himself a dancer.

He admits the tour has been the ‘most rewarding’ work he has done as I speak to him the morning after a date in Ipswich, during which he invited a 13 year old street dance enthusiast on stage.

“This was the first time I invited anyone on stage but I think I’ll do it more. This young girl wanted to challenge me to a hip-hop dance so she came up on stage and she was the most delightful young thing.”

I wonder if the dancer, who has gained a reputation for his angry exchanges with the judges on ‘Strictly…’, would prefer the rest of his career to be ‘unjudged’.

On the contrary, Cole, who is himself a judge on New Zealand’s ‘Dancing with the Stars’, says, “The show would be a bit rubbish without, wouldn’t it?

“I like the whole judging thing, I like being slagged off by Craig, it adds to the drama of the show.”

Cole remains philosophical about the judgement his private life courts, too, even admitting to the occasional Google search.

“I certainly have, it’s something you need to do to find out if somebody’s written something about you that’s not true, so you have a little look.”

Similarly, when I mention the many tributes to him on You Tube, he says, “I have seen them, they’re very sweet, people are lovely.”

Cole is disarmingly honest, happy to talk about anything from his imminent wedding to British model Zoe Hobbs, to his bad boy image, cultivated since childhood. One can’t help but warm to him.

“I did get a lot of stick for being a dancer so I probably do have another part of me that’s a bit more outspoken and a bit of a bad boy and there’s been a lot of crap written about women or whatever. But I think if you’re going to have a tag it might as well be that one.

“I’d hate to be known as somebody who’s a bit softer or not known at all.”

15 & 16 June, Leeds Grand Theatre, £20-£32.50, 7.30pm

Posted on Wednesday 9th June 2010

Grand Theatre & Opera House

46 New Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6NZ

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