Brendan Cole's brand new show All Night Long is heading out on a national tour which visits Lighthouse on 10 February and Brendan couldn’t be more excited – but he’s also a little nervous…
Had your mum seen something in you that suggested learning to dance might be a good idea?
No but she loved music and dancing and she wanted her children to learn to dance. She wanted us to do lots of things. I did loads of sport too.
Does your own daughter like to dance around?
Yes, she loves it. She goes to a little kids’ group and she wanted a pair of tap shoes like her friend has, so we’ve just got her those.
Is it true that you were a builder and roof layer before becoming a professional dancer?
Yeah, when I left school I went into that kind of trade, building and roofing houses for a few years. I did a proper job until I was 24 working on building sites and for an insurance company, in warehouses. You name it, I’ve done it.
Could you still turn your hand to a spot of bricklaying if required?
Yeah, I don’t like to have anybody else doing things for me. Quite often you get somebody in to do something and then you have to redo it properly.
You moved from NZ to England when you were 18. If you could have a word with your 18 year old self now, is there any advice you’d like to give him?
Yeah, do it all! Don’t hold back. We’re all quite insecure as youngsters and tend to let our insecurities rule our future. You’re better off being forward thinking rather than negative and holding back.
Your latest show, All Night Long, opens in January. What are you most looking forward to about the tour?
This is very much my show, not something that somebody else has put together for me. The creative process is amazing, trying to put your vision onto the stage. It’s down to you to make that happen.. There are 21 of us on stage and we’re very much a family - really good friends. We have a ball - both on and off the stage. Then to have that interaction with your audience is such a feeling. On Strictly we have the live studio audience but you’re a very small part of a very big show. With your own show people have come along to see you and what you’ve created. When you tell a story that’s an emotional thing, obviously you’re just dancing but people pick up on that emotion and the meaning’s changed because they’re watching it and interpreting it as if it were in their own life. You know you’ve done a really good thing when an audience is moved by a dance. If something is well-received - when people are on their feet cheering you - that’s a phenomenal, very powerful feeling and you can’t really recreate that in any other industry.
All Night Long is a great Lionel Richie number – does it feature in the show?
It certainly does. We open with that number. I love Lionel Richie. You’ve probably seen Monsieur Richie’s numbers hundreds of times on Strictly. It’s got a great vibe. We’ve got a live band onstage, 13 musicians all doing their thing, so it’s not just a dance show. The quality and class of the musicians playing a full-on Lionel Richie number, it’s phenomenal. You’d want to go to watch the band alone.
There are many different types of music in the show to reflect the different dance styles. Do you have a favourite?
The waltz is definitely my favourite because of the power of the music. We tell the story of an affair and it’s really moving. But with a show like this, we have to have it all. Strictly fans have an expectation because Strictly has every genre of music, and my show has to reflect that. One minute doing this beautiful waltz, the next minute an Argentine Tango –and finish with a massive jive. I want Strictly fans to walk out saying: “Bloody hell! That was the best night. I can’t believe we saw as much as we did!” It’s really important to me for every person to have a really special and exciting night. One of my favourite things to do is, just after the show has finished, to peek out from behind the staging and get a little reaction as to what people are saying!
If you could have a dance named after you what style of dance would it be?
Oh crikey! It has to be something like a foxtrot. Something really classy, beautiful and emotional. If you think back to the greats, like Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, they had class, real power in their dance and something really special that you just want to be a part of it. I want to be a dance that would reflect that, so yes, a foxtrot.
What’s the worst thing anybody has ever said to you about your dancing?
Crikey! There have been so many comments! Most critics have been really positive. I have had occasional run-ins with the Strictly judges because I don’t agree with their comments on a lot of the contestants. I tend not to get hung up on negative comments because I think it’s quite damaging. I don’t mind constructive criticism but I tend to hold on to the positive things more. The fact that we entertain so many and people love watching what we do, that’s a fantastic thing for us and hopefully we’re pretty good at it. Even if you don’t like it, you can’t say it’s bad. It’s just not to your taste. People say some horrible things on social media but for every horrible thing there are a hundred positive things. If it was 50/50 I’d have to start questioning it!
After being involved through all 15 series of Strictly, do you still get nervous?
No, we’ve got no time for nerves on Strictly. If you’re nervous on that show then you’re letting your partner down a little bit because they’re already nervous and that’s going to be tricky for them. On an opening night of a brand new production, that’s different. You want it to be amazing and everything you planned it to be. There are opportunities for things to go wrong – sound, lighting, dancing, costumes, you name it. If you’re not nervous then, you’re a lunatic.
You fell 40ft off a ladder while carrying a chainsaw earlier this year. What went through your mind as you plummeted to the ground?
Watch your leg! Don’t touch the blade! I’m quite clumsy and accident prone so being up a ladder with a chainsaw I should have realised there may be problems. But like I said, I’m a do-it-yourself kind of guy so I don’t get people in to do things.
Tell us something we might not know about you?
I used to make dresses for a living.