Advertisement
TV

Claudia Winkleman: ‘Representation is everything’ on this year’s Strictly

The Strictly co-host sheds light on casting decisions on one of the biggest shows in the BBC calendar.

Fun, elegance and joyful abandon are the terms more commonly associated with the BBC’s smash-hit dance competition Strictly Come Dancing, but representation and inclusivity are becoming watch words too, according to co-host Claudia Winkleman.

EastEnders actor Rose Ayling-Ellis, the first deaf person to dance on the show, has taken the competition by storm in recent weeks, raising pulses, awareness and top scores from the judges in equal measure. The cast and crew have been leading by example and making sure they are inclusive.

“We have all done awareness courses,” says Winkleman, in a new interview in The Big Issue magazine out on Monday November 22. “I’m trying to learn as much sign language as possible – not necessarily to do on screen, but for when I’m communicating with her off air. The first thing I wanted to learn – although I haven’t needed to use it yet – was how to say ‘The judges are horrid.’”

This isn’t the first time the show set out to use its sequins and sparkle to address more serious issues of inclusivity. Producers have been praised for introducing same-sex couples, members of the LGBTQ+ community and Paralympian athletes in recent years.

“I’d like to think that it wasn’t controversial,” says Winkleman, in a new interview in The Big Issue magazine out on Monday November 22. “I think it’s important, but I would also say – and maybe I just have a positive outlook – that I think most of the UK just go [shrugs].”

“Strictly decided a while ago to try and widen who was doing it,” she added, “because representation is everything.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

That wasn’t always the case among TV executives. Winkleman became co-host alongside Tess Daly when Bruce Forsyth retired in 2014, a move that was seen as controversial at the time.

“They were like, ‘Two women!?’” Winkleman exclaimed. “We were like, erm, OK, all right, well, we’ll give it our best shot.”

But the average viewership for the seven full series since that change has never dipped below 10 million per episode as the show goes from strength to strength.

Subscribe to The Big Issue

From just £3 per week

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work. With each subscription we invest every penny back into supporting the network of sellers across the UK. A subscription also means you'll never miss the weekly editions of an award-winning publication, with each issue featuring the leading voices on life, culture, politics and social activism.

She also shed light on the Winkleman family Christmas plans, which include joining together to help out at the local food bank “either on Christmas Eve or in the run up” and putting together a reverse advent calendar.

“We’ve been doing that in my house forever,” she said. “Where you get a box, and every day in December we take turns to put something in it.

“It could be fancy biscuits, perfume, one excellent idea was to get cinema vouchers. It’s a really clever idea. Then you deliver it to the food bank towards the end of December. My kids really go to town.”

The full interview with Claudia Winkleman will be in The Big Issue magazine from Monday November 22, available from your local vendor. Find your local vendor on our vendor map or sign up for a subscription to make sure you don’t miss out.

Advertisement

Support The Big Issue Winter Appeal

Big Issue vendors can’t work from home and with severe weather warnings on the cards, they face a very tough and uncertain Winter period ahead.

Recommended for you

Read All
Screw creator Rob Williams: 'We don't always look at prisoners as individuals'
TV

Screw creator Rob Williams: 'We don't always look at prisoners as individuals'

Rose Ayling-Ellis: 'Suddenly it became quite cool to be deaf'
Strictly Come Dancing

Rose Ayling-Ellis: 'Suddenly it became quite cool to be deaf'

What real entrepreneurs think of The Apprentice
TV

What real entrepreneurs think of The Apprentice

Plants are still running the world… but new David Attenborough series The Green Planet shows they need our help
Green Planet

Plants are still running the world… but new David Attenborough series The Green Planet shows they need our help

Most Popular

Read All
Government branded 'disgrace' after bid to strengthen Sarah Everard inquiry voted down at 12.30am
1.

Government branded 'disgrace' after bid to strengthen Sarah Everard inquiry voted down at 12.30am

What are the Kill the Bill protests?
2.

What are the Kill the Bill protests?

Rose Ayling-Ellis: 'Suddenly it became quite cool to be deaf'
3.

Rose Ayling-Ellis: 'Suddenly it became quite cool to be deaf'

The Met Police is being sued for not investigating a Downing Street Christmas party
4.

The Met Police is being sued for not investigating a Downing Street Christmas party