Phil Tufnell is looking forward to pulling on his shiny costume for Strictly Come Dancing’s live show, he tells Laura Davis
IN A single episode of Strictly Come Dancing’s 2009 series, Footballers’ Wives actress Laila Rouass and her sprained ankle had to be carried off stage by Anton duBeke half way through a rumba, Olympic athlete Jade Johnson sustained a knee injury and stand-in host Ronnie Corbett nearly tumbled down a staircase.
But it was Phil Tufnell who suffered the biggest catastrophe – sent out of the competition by lead judge Len Goodman after performing the American smooth.
He is back in the game however, this time in the live version of the show, which tours to the Echo Arena later this month.
The former England spin bowler is, he says, looking forward to slipping back into his shiny costume but, until he began the recent round of rehearsals with professional dance partner Karen Hauer, had let the ballroom dancing slide.
“I won’t lie,” says the 46-year-old.
“Me and the wife perhaps have a little waltz around the kitchen once in a while but I haven’t particularly been keeping it up. But I’ve been practising with Karen and it’s all coming back to me.”
Tufnell is not giving much away about the show (“I’m not sure I can tell you”) but promises “some gyrating”.
“I don’t know whether that’s a good or a bad thing,” he adds. “We’re doing one Latin, one ballroom and some group dances as well.”
The live show will also feature Tracey Beaker star Dani Harmer, TV presenter Fern Britton, former Emmerdale actress Lisa Riley, Olympic gymnast and 2012 Strictly winner Louis Smith and former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan.
Tufnell hopes there will be less pressure on the celebrities than there was in the TV show when being given a bad score could get you voted off.
“The television show is quite stressful,” he explains.
“Everyone’s quite keyed up and nervous. I think on the live tour people might let their hair down a little bit and do a bit more mucking about.
“My mate Michael Vaughan is doing it too so it’ll be good fun catching up with him and I’m sure we’ll have a bit of banter.
“And I thought, what a great way of getting a few Christmas pounds off, because the last time I did Strictly I got myself amazingly fit.”
It is nearly 10 years since Tufnell retired from professional cricket and moved seemingly smoothly into a TV career.
After his winning appearance in reality show I’m a Celebrity. . . Get Me Out of Here! in 2003, he became a team captain on the sports quiz show They Think It’s All Over, which he left in 2005, and is currently a team captain on BBC’s A Question of Sport.
“Retirement is quite a difficult time for sportsmen. Every time you put on an England jumper and represent your country is a big thrill and I met a lot of good people,” he says.
“But luckily for me I managed to have a few other things to do and the television thing just sort of happened.”
Despite no longer playing cricket except for the occasional charity match that “usually revolves around a rather long lunch and a glass of wine before we all tootle out and have a little game”, he keeps a critical eye on the sport as a regular summariser on BBC Radio’s Test Match Special and is feeling positive about England’s chances in the Ashes this summer.
“It’s going to be brill,” he says.
“We had a great result in India, winning that series for the first time since 1984. The likes of Alastair Cook, the new captain, breaking all the records was fantastic and sets them up to go to New Zealand and then the Ashes.
“I think English cricket is in fine fettle at the moment.”
When his sporting commitments have calmed down again can we expect to see Tufnell on another reality show?
“Never say never,” he says.
“We’ll see what comes up. I’m quite a game boy in that respect – whatever comes my way I give it my best shot.”
Strictly Come Dancing – The Live Tour 2013 is at the Echo Arena on January 29 and 30.