Dan Walker reveals motivation behind signing up for Strictly Come Dancing

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TV presenter Dan Walker has said he signed up to do Strictly Come Dancing to do something “fun” and have a “giggle” after reporting on difficult news stories during the pandemic.

He will continue to host BBC Breakfast and The NFL Show while competing on the popular BBC One dancing series, which returns to screens on September 18.

Walker has hosted the BBC morning programme for the last five-and-a-half years alongside Louise Minchin, who presented on the show for the final time on Wednesday.

He said: “I cover a lot of news and the last 18 months has just been grim story after grim story.

“So I thought, an opportunity to do something that’s fun, that’s very different, that doesn’t involve reading headlines about awful stuff, and just have a bit of a giggle, and to learn a new skill.

“And I don’t think there are any opportunities in anything I’ve ever done before, where you get to learn from people who are literally the best on the planet.

“So with regards to that, I might be terrible, but at least I’ll be learning from someone who’s excellent at it.”

The broadcaster, 44, said his co-presenter Minchin has been “very surprised” when she found out he would compete on the dancing show but that she was “really excited” to watch him on the programme.

He also said he would continue hosting BBC Breakfast while in the dancing competition, as well as presenting The NFL Show with Jason Bell and Osi Umenyiora.

Walker announced earlier this year he was stepping down after 12 years at the helm of BBC Football Focus.

He said: “I’ve got like two jobs plus Strictly to do.

“I’ll fit the training in where I can. I’m determined that I won’t go out of this competition for not trying hard enough, that might be my curse, but I will definitely do as much training as I possibly can around other stuff.

“I think probably not doing 100% Strictly gives you a good bit of perspective for a normal life as well, which I think is probably important.”

The presenter said he felt “40% excited, 60% terrified” about taking to the dancefloor, and had similar feelings about swapping his suits for the extravagant Strictly costumes.

He added: “So far, there’s been a few funky tuxedos and some rather tighter shirts than I would normally wear.

“I’ll be concerned once we get towards the sort of see-through numbers, I’m trying to avoid that, leave that to the boys with the muscles.

Strictly Come Dancing 2021
Dan Walker alongside the celebrity line-up for Strictly 2021 (Ray Burmiston/BBC)

“But that’s part of it, isn’t it? You’ve got to understand that you will wear stuff that you don’t normally wear.

“And I think my kids are particularly looking forward to that.”

When asked what he was most anxious about, he added: “I wouldn’t say I’m anxious about it.

“I’ve learned from Louise, my sort of breakfast partner, it’s good to do stuff that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable or scares you every now and again.

“I’ve always been with somebody who doesn’t want to be comfortable all the time.

“And I think it’s good to be tested and to put yourself under a bit of pressure and to feel that sort of natural adrenaline.”

The 15 celebrities, which include Olympian Adam Peaty, rugby star Ugo Monye, TV presenter Judi Love, former Bake Off winner John Whaite and more, will be paired with their professional dance partners during the first episode of the series.

Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One on September 18.

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