The music has stopped, the lights have gone out and the judges are off for lavish holidays in the sun. If you’re suffering withdrawal symptoms after the end of Strictly Come Dancing, there’s still some terrific choreographic action to be had. Bringing ‘A Night to Remember’ to Brighton Dome, Brendan Cole will be beating off those winter blues with a lavish dancefloor spectacular.
A cruel twist of fate sees us speaking just after Cole, and partner Sunetra Sarker, have been voted off Strictly Come Dancing. He’s remarkably upbeat over his exit from the show however. “It was incredible,” he cheerily tells me. “Ten weeks is such a terrific run in the show, so it was a good time to leave.” Professional stoicism perhaps, but the departure may be sweetened by the approach of his extravagant new tour.
Following his last sell-out show ‘Licence to Thrill’, the charismatic choreographer and performer will lead audiences on a journey of music and dance. With 48 shows across the UK and a cast of dancers, musicians and singers, the tour is spending six weeks bringing waltzes, quicksteps, tangos and salsas to every corner of the nation. “I get to really be myself; you’ll get to see the cheeky and naughty side of Brendan Cole. I have a lot of fun when I’m onstage and I really hope that comes across to the audience.”
The show features the French Dancing with the Stars champion Fauve Hautot, Germany’s Patrick Helm (who also worked on Strictly this year) and professional dance instructor Crystal Main. “I’ve put everything together myself. This isn’t a show I’ve just signed my name to. I’m very involved in every aspect.” To compliment his dancing vision, Cole’s brought in a live 14-piece band which boasts some of the UK’s best musicians, alongside stunning lighting design and plenty of pyrotechnics.
Now, without the burden of mere seconds to impress the audience on Strictly, Cole and his team of professionals are free to offer something which evolves and unfolds. “It’s a reflection of my personality. As opposed to just being a part of a successful TV programme, I’ve created a whole stage show.”
Combining ballroom magic and Latin exhilaration, he’s produced a live music and dance extravaganza that fully showcases his skills. With the inevitable cheeky dialogue, high production standards and of course amazing dance routines, it’s light-hearted, intimate and precisely choreographed entertainment. He’s relaxed and totally charming, even finding opportunity to slip a cheeky slice of subtle innuendo into our conversation. Perhaps it should be unsurprising for someone used to performing in front of millions, on the nation’s most popular reality show every weekend.
This year’s Strictly Come Dancing saw Cole celebrate an incredible 11th season performing with the show, something equalled only by Anton Du Bec. Despite the unavoidable competitive element to the proceedings, he maintains everyone concentrates more on providing spectacle than potential rivalries. “There’s not that much competition in between the professionals. Obviously everyone wants to do the best they can, so the show is as entertaining as it can be.” He admits the extensive training schedule demanded by the show can be challenging. More so if his celebrity partner has responsibilities away from the show’s Elstree Studios base, as they often do. “There is a lot of pressure. This year I was also travelling to Bristol to train with Sunetra.”
Now their time together on the show is over. Considering his partner’s lack of formal training the progression she made through the process is admirable, as is the motivation and training offered by Cole himself. “I can only teach so much. If there’s no ability, then we’ll just have to focus on entertaining people.”
Producing some kind of show-winning dance ability plays a big part in the process, but on a personal level it’s vital the professionals get along with their celebrity partners. Cole’s adamant every partner he’s had on the TV show has been wonderful, although in many different ways. One of the standouts has to be Sophie Ellis-Bextor, who went really far in the competition. “I also loved working with Kelly Brook and, although she wasn’t the most talented dancer; Jo Wood!” He’s lucky to have found a lasting connection with so many participants, as obviously the pair will end up spending a lot of time together. “I don’t have an ideal partner. But I’ve worked with so many great people.” Diplomatic and charming to the end, in the unlikelihood of the dancing not working out he could find his calling as a cultural ambassador for his native New Zealand.
So now the current series of the country’s biggest reality show has finished, and Brendan Cole’s attention has firmly shifted to his mammoth UK tour. Strictly’s most charismatic performer is certainly looking forward to playing the perfect host up and down the country. “To be honest I can’t wait! It’s going to be so good!”
Brendan Cole: A Night to Remember comes to Brighton Dome on Fri 30 Jan 2015