Strictly Come Dancing contestant Helen Skelton’s tap-dancing past revealed

<span>Photograph: BBC/PA</span>
Photograph: BBC/PA

The Countryfile and former Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton, who is in the lineup for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, won a tap-dancing competition as a teenager – but has insisted she cannot dance.

When asked to reveal a little known secret about herself in an unearthed 2016 interview, Skelton replied: “I won a Ken Dodd tap-dance award when I was 17.

“Not a lot of people know this, but I’m very good at tap-dancing. People are often amazed I can tap-dance.”

But before her appearance on the 20th instalment of the celebrity dancing contest, the 39-year-old said she could not dance and was using the show as a chance to learn.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 live last week, she said: “People keep saying, ‘Can you dance?’ and I say, ‘No’ because isn’t it the point to learn to dance?”

In the 2016 interview, unearthed by the Sun, Skelton said she won a tap-dance award 22 years ago.

The award was named after the comedian Ken Dodd, who died in 2018 aged 90. He was a patron of the International Dance Teachers’ Association and donated two special awards for male and female nominees in the tap section, in memory of his agent Keith McAndrews.

Skelton also appeared on Strictly’s Christmas special in 2012, when she was partnered with the Russian professional dancer Artem Chigvintsev and was praised highly by the judges.

Other celebrities in the lineup for this year’s series, which starts on 17 September, include the EastEnders actor James Bye, the singer Fleur East and the former England footballer Tony Adams.

The comedian and actor Jayde Adams will also take part, and has talked about how she competed as a disco dancer during her childhood.

She said that from the age of five to 17 she would regularly take part in freestyle disco dancing competitions with her older sister, Jenna, who died from a brain tumour aged 28.

“One of my favourite things is people going, ‘But she’s a trained dancer! She did competitive freestyle disco dancing when she was younger! Surely that’s against the rules!’” she said.

“I’m like, babes, if [the Pussycat Doll] Ashley Roberts can do Strictly, then I definitely can do Strictly.”

Other celebrities on this year’s lineup include the Bros singer Matt Goss, the Kiss radio host Tyler West, the Britain’s Got Talent finalist Molly Rainford, the wildlife cameraman and presenter Hamza Yassin and BBC Radio 2’s Richie Anderson.