From today's Daily Mirror:
Exclusive: Heather Small's Strictly Come Dancing Diary Secrets
By Sara Wallis 27/09/2008
Famed for her big voice and even bigger hair, Heather Small is now Moving On Up as Strictly Come Dancing's top diva.
With her athletic body and bubbly personality, the 43-year-old M People star has got what it takes to waltz to glory in the latest series of the Beeb's celebrity ballroom dancing contest.
Not that Heather thinks so right now - she is a "nervous wreck", her feet are aching and she is terrified of a tongue-lashing from the judges.
Here, Heather opens the pages of her Strictly diary, and gives us an exclusive glimpse into what's happened backstage in the week running up to her first live solo performance tonight...
Early start for training today. My dance partner is the all-American new boy Brian Fortuna. Today was the first time my moves were captured on camera - and I fell over. Brilliant! It wasn't just stepping on his toes, like usual, I fell backwards and he was supposed to catch me but the way I hurled myself was all wrong. Brian flashed me a look that said: "That ain't nobody's fault but your own!" I can't have a whinge with Brian, he's straight talking. I am not exactly a wallflower, so I need someone who is not afraid to give it back.
Saw the TV set for the first time and it hits hard that there is an impending live show. I remember my 11-year-old son James's advice: "Don't fall over and don't get voted off Mummy." So no pressure. I can't let him down.
I've been trying to learn a group dance this week and the competition is hot. The women look good and, my goodness, they can move. I saw Christine Bleakley and Rachel Stevens throw down some moves during the funky routine and knew I'd have to up my game. The other contestants are great fun and there is an instant feeling of camaraderie, but it's just like being back at school when the teachers can't control the classroom - we get "shhhhed" a lot.
Total humiliation. Practising the dance I finished about five minutes before everyone else, I just missed out a whole section. There I was standing with my back to everyone with my hands in the air, quite happy, not realising that I was on my own. This was one of many, many times I have wondered, "What on earth am I doing here?" I didn't have a clue. I was impressed with Don Warrington - he's so cool.
Woke up in a panic hours before training, feeling sick to my stomach. It's the day of the live show. My relaxation techniques failed. I feel completely out of my depth.
Make-UP and a new hairstyle at the BBC studios, very glam. I have gone really quiet - almost mute. Not like me at all.
We break for sandwiches in the BBC canteen. I've brought my own chocolate rice-cakes. Well, you have to keep up your energy!
People help us squeeze into the tight outfits - I wonder if a crow bar would help.
I'm having a good laugh with last year's winner Alesha Dixon - we're the cackling queens.
Terror sets in when I hear the theme music. But suddenly I'm dancing.
I wonder if the judges take bribes? They're so harsh. If you make any mistake they magnify it and to see someone get a tongue-lashing on live TV is terrible. Craig Revel Horwood has the harshest tongue - that man has not come to play!
I'm exhausted but it's buzzing backstage. This is great fun.
A day off, thank goodness. My feet are killing me. I can't stop thinking about the brutal elimination process. I don't want to be the first woman to leave. But the other women are so lovely I haven't been able to muster up enough of a competitive spirit. My incentive is to get through as many frocks as I can. I am embracing the sequins - you can never have too many sequins.
It's nice to have time to relax with my partner and my son. But I can't stop thinking about yesterday. It's hard to pick a front runner, but I think the girls are the leaders of the pack.
The sports guys are in it to win it. That's what's needed, it's impressive.
Brendan Cole is much sweeter inside than he appears. Miss Lisa Snowdon has unleashed the sweetness. He is a gentleman - not such a bad boy.
THERE's nothing like an elimination to focus the feet so we've added an extra hour to training. I was sorry to see Phil Daniels go - Saturday was terrifying, like being in the stocks where the judges can throw anything at you.
Poor Brian, I'm always treading on him or knocking into him. I'm small but solid! He is a very polite young man but he's not shy. He asked me to lift up my backside and I told him it has a natural African-Caribbean curve. So he said: "Get that African butt up!" I love it.
I've had a breakthrough with the quick step. Brian has resorted to drawing diagrams - he says he does it with everyone. Yeah, right. Still it worked. Everything's going OK.
My luck didn't last long. My rear end crashed into some equipment and broke it. Oops! Still, I have the power. I'll just shake my booty!
Three days to ladies' night. I'm very nervous and the ballroom is challenging.
What have I gotten into?
My son saw me training. When I said I needed a lot of drama in my performance he replied: "You'll have no trouble with that." Ouch! Then he said: "It'll be fun Mummy, enjoy it." So I thought, 'Yeah, I can take short-term humiliation."
Wide awake, tossing and turning, thinking one two, cha-cha-cha. When I do sleep I am seeing dance moves and dreaming about forgetting my steps in the middle of the live show. Not a good sign.
I give myself a mental talking to over breakfast to stop my nerves getting the better of me. I can't let Brian down. I need to calm down. At least my mother, sister, partner, niece and nephew will be cheering me on.
I'm getting the hang of moving my hips now, although maybe not in time. I can't help giggling over all these funny arm movements.
Training over. I'm exhausted and panicking about tomorrow.
The worst thing I could hear from the judges is that the whole thing is rubbish. If that happened I'd find it very hard to be polite.