AJ Pritchard says 'Strictly Come Dancing' is tougher than 'Celebrity SAS'

AJ Pritchard (Channel 4)
AJ Pritchard passed Celebrity SAS. (Channel 4)

AJ Pritchard has said even the SAS selection process isn't as tough as teaching celebrities how to dance as he admitted he found Strictly Come Dancing harder than Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.

The former Strictly pro spent four seasons on the BBC One show coaching novice dancers and said that having to play "therapist, life coach and taxi man" to his famous partners was a lot more exhausting than military challenges in the Jordanian desert.

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Pritchard, 27, was one of four celebrities to pass Channel 4 show Celebrity SAS in Sunday's finale and spoke about the reality of how difficult it was to be shouted at by directing staff, deprived of sleep and made to take on seemingly impossible physical challenges.

He told PA news agency: “It’s a really hard one. I think for me, SAS was so therapeutic and so beautiful and I feel like I achieved what I wanted.

“But Strictly itself, being a professional dancer you are a life coach, you are the driving force, you are the person that puts it all together and holds it together when it’s going wrong so mentally and physically, Strictly is a hell of a lot longer at six months.

“And probably if SAS was for six months it’d be hard but Strictly for being six months is harder than SAS. I have to be open and honest about that.

“You are a life coach through and through – therapist, taxi man, everything else that comes along with it.”

Mollie King and AJ Pritchard on Strictly. (BBC)
Mollie King and AJ Pritchard on Strictly. (BBC)

Pritchard partnered Claudia Fragapane, Mollie King, Lauren Steadman and Saffron Barker on Strictly and admitted it had been emotionally draining.

He said: “Emotionally when you’ve got somebody on a rollercoaster every single week being happy, sad, happy, sad – it’s hard to keep it up.”

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The dancer originally took part in Celebrity SAS alongside his brother Curtis Pritchard, but he was sent home by directing staff in episode four after failing to impress on challenges.

Curtis and AJ Pritchard go up against each other in Celebrity SAS. (Channel 4)
Curtis and AJ Pritchard go up against each other in Celebrity SAS. (Channel 4)

He also added that he had taken part in the series after the traumatic experience of watching then-girlfriend Abbie Quinnen engulfed by a fireball in a social media video that went wrong.

He said: “The reason why I went on the show was to deal with a situation of not being afraid to make decisions in a split second.

Maisie Smith, Calum Best, AJ Pritchard and Ferne McCann passed the challenge. (Channel 4)
Maisie Smith, Calum Best, AJ Pritchard and Ferne McCann passed the challenge. (Channel 4)

“And to actually be really open with Billy and Foxy there in that mirror room was so rewarding for me to actually watch it back.

“Because even if you go to therapy and you talk about a situation, or even if you talk to your friends and family, you talk about it.

“And watching it back and hearing myself talk and hearing the tremors in my voice and how raw it was and how open it was for me… it was really quite therapeutic to see that back.”

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