STRICTLY singer Lance Ellington is as big a part of the hit BBC One Saturday night show as the glitter ball trophy.
Joseph Okpako/Getty Images
(Pic: Joseph Okpako/Getty Images)
And over the last 14 years there’s nothing he hasn’t seen or done.
He famously sang Gangnam Style as former MP Ed Balls danced the salsa, performed a special duet with Sir Bruce Forsyth, singing his dad’s song The Three Bears, and belted out Reach for the Stars as Russell Grant was fired out of a cannon at Wembley.
In a special Strictly exclusive for the Daily Star Sunday, Lance takes us backstage behind the glitz and glamour of TV’s biggest Saturday night show by sharing his pictures with us.
Lance, whose dad was the jazz singer and drummer Ray Ellington, is up at six o’clock in the morning and down at the Strictly studios by eight where the dancers rehearse with the band for the first time.
He said: “It really is such a joy to stand in front of the band with such great lead vocalists and perform every week. Of course you get a little nervous as it’s live tele and you want to do the best that you can. We spend Friday night in rehearsals and then Saturday is a full on day.
For a lot of the band, apart from the rhythm section and singers, they haven’t seen any of the music until the Saturday morning. They are incredible musicians and they just come in and read that stuff and make it sound fantastic. We then do a full rehearsal where everyone gets to do their dance a couple of times. It’s the first time they get to dance to our versions of the song.
The flexibility of having a live band means that where they might have choreographed an arm punch they can do that on the day.
We run through everything twice to make sure the celebrities and their dance partners are happy. We then go straight into a full dress rehearsal before having a little break and then coming out for the live show.”
“It really is such a joy to stand in front of the band with such great lead vocalists and perform every week”
And on his favourite memories over the years, Lance added: “One of the stand out moments was singing Gangnam Style for Ed Balls.
I got sent the lyrics in Korean on the Tuesday and that number was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Another big memory was when Ann Widdecombe flew over the tops of our heads.
There’s not many show’s that as a singer you get to sing and have a politician fly over your head in front of a live audience! But I think my fondest memory was singing one of my dad’s songs with Brucie.
It is a moment I will never forget, I just wish my dad could’ve seen it. Shortly after that performance I was sent a picture of Brucie and my dad performing together at the London Palladium, it really was such a special thing for me to have done. I remember Brucie calling me up to tell me what he had planned and I didn’t believe it was him at first.”
Although it’s too early to call it Lance reckons that the girls are particularly strong this year – and joked that Kevin Clifton is long overdue a win.
He said: “The standard is very high this year and I think the girls are very strong. Ashley Robert and Faye Tozer are definitely ones to watch but I think Stacey and Kevin are a great partnership. And he’s definitely due a win. What’s great is how the whole show comes together. I get on well with all the judges and of course Tess and Claudia are both fantastic. It’s a real honour to have been part of something so special for all these years.”
Strictly the results show is on BBC One tonight at 7.15pm.