Angela Scanlon explains why Strictly was like going to ‘therapy’

Angela Scanlon has shared how her Strictly Come Dancing experience acted as therapy, making her “bulletproof” after years of anxiety and eating disorders.

Scanlon partnered with Carlos Gu and finished in sixth place on the 21st series of the show which took place last year.

The 40-year-old Virgin Radio host, who describes herself as a recovering workaholic, said that the pressure from “the glamourisation of this constant girl boss culture” had left her struggling with perfectionism.

“Before, I’d never allowed myself to be amateur at anything,” she told The Times.

“My tendency would be to beaver away, get myself up to speed in secret and then emerge as if it all came seamlessly to me. But on Strictly the massive appeal was to learn something and go out there and be absolutely shite.”

The opportunity to make mistakes in front of an audience proved a relief as she said Strictly “acted like therapy.”

“You can lie down on the couch and talk, but things don’t change until you actually teach yourself and your body that you can survive,” she said.

“So going out there every week, thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m so mortally embarrassed in this moment,’ and then standing in front of the judges and having everyone and their granny have an opinion about your footwork, and still being like, ‘Oh, I’m actually grand,’ is quite galvanising. It makes you feel bulletproof.”

Scanlon said the experience had been ‘galvanising’ (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Scanlon said the experience had been ‘galvanising’ (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

The mother-of-two said she intended to use the opportunity to “indulge the child version of myself”, despite previous contestants including actor Amanda Abbington and Countdown’s Rachel Riley reporting that their experience had left them with post-traumatic stress disorder.

However, Scanlon believes that the show affects people differently depending on their history and the timing of the contest in their lives.

“Different people experience different things in different ways and go into Strictly for different reasons and sometimes it can show something that’s missing in your real life, which then you have to address when you come back to reality,” she said.

“I was really clear I was going in to indulge the child version of myself that loved to show off, that over time I’d shied away from. But other people do it at certain points in their careers and that may come with a pressure that possibly impacts the whole experience.”

For anyone struggling with the issues raised in this article, eating disorder charity Beat’s helpline is available 365 days a year on 0808 801 0677. NCFED offers information, resources and counselling for those suffering from eating disorders, as well as their support networks. Visit or call 0845 838 2040

If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to to find a helpline near you.