Strictly Come Dancing 2013: Natalie Gumede down plays being the favourite to win and Rachel Riley has had no prior dance training

by Nick Barnes

Strictly Come Dancing 2013 is set to launch this evening with a whole host of new celebrities joining the ranks. Two of which are Natalie Gumede and Rachel Riley, both of which are currently the favourites to win the show.

Speaking at the Strictly Come Dancing launch show on Wednesday (September 4) evening, Natalie Gumede down played being the favourite to win stating it isn’t something that the celebs take notice of. Countdown’s Rachel Riley on the other hand has had virtually zero dance training before, admitting she had one hour of training prior to her wedding.

How are you both feeling about your partners, are you pleased?

Rachel Riley: “I am really, really pleased. The amount of people that came up to me and said ‘well done!’”

What’s your dance experience? Does it extend beyond nightclubs?

Rachel Riley: “No! I had one hour for my wedding and that was it so this is going to be a massive challenge”.

Who do you think will be your biggest competition on the show having seen each other in rehearsals?

Natalie Gumede: “It doesn’t really feel like that because we’re all coming in with different things to learn and we’re all coming from different points of view and different places so the most important thing is we all improve from the point we’re at and we all enjoy the experience”.

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Rachel, you brought a touch of sex appeal to Countdown, are you looking to bring that to Strictly?

“Have you seen the other dancers? They’re incredible. We’re just lucky we get to wear these amazing dresses. My 21st birthday party, the fancy dress theme was Strictly. I had a dress made and I had to sew sequins on myself as it wasn’t how I wanted it”.

Have you been a big fan of the show for a while?

Rachel Riley: “It’s the most glamorous thing on the planet. I used to get back from university and it was my mum’s favourite programme ever. When I got the job on Countdown the first thing she asked me was ‘Do you think one day you’ll be able to get me tickets for Strictly?’ I told her I might be able to get her tickets this year and then I told her I was going to be on it”.

Both of you are the Bookie’s favourites already. Does that add a little bit of extra pressure?

Natalie Gumede: “It’s not something we really take in, we’re here to work hard to enjoy it and to entertain and we can’t control anything else”.

Natalie, there has been a lot of speculation that you have already done a lot of dancing in the past. Are you going to find it easier in the competition?

Natalie Gumede: “I’m an actor who went to stage school so yes I have danced before and yes I danced as a child. I haven’t done Latin or ballroom and I have never danced professionally so I’ve got a lot to learn in a different way. I have never done ballroom so it’s a different discipline to ballet and modern dance. I’m looking forward to that really and we’re all coming from different places really and anything else is up to the audience I think”.

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Natalie, you looked very elegant on the dance floor already during the group dance, do you think that’s something you can keep up throughout the competition?

Natalie Gumede: “I wouldn’t count on it, I really wouldn’t! There’s some fantastic potential in everybody and I don’t think you could ever rest on your laurels on this show and I think you’d be very foolish to be so arrogant really”.

Natalie, your character on Corrie was quite the villain, are you worried people may not be able to separate the two when they’re voting?

“Not really. I think, hopefully, depending on what is shown on the VTs, it will become apparent very quickly that I am nothing like Kirsty. She was a very dark, aggressive, trouble character and I think after Strictly I will have left her behind”.

Nick Barnes

Nick is the Assistant Editor at Unreality TV, along with being a full-time Beyoncé obsessor! Email him at or catch him on Twitter @ImNickBarnes