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Braunton's Lisa Hanson shares Strictly gossip ahead of the final

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 20, 2012

  • STAR: Panto fairy Lisa has met many Strictly stars, like Artem pictured above. He will be appearing in Strictly Confidential in Plymouth in June. Turn to page 8 for more information.

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HIRSTY for some Strictly goss ahead of this Saturday's final? I know just the woman. If, like me, you will be unfastening your glittery slingbacks, uncorking a bottle of sparkling (what else?) before waltzing (or even quick stepping if I could only get the timing right) over to the sofa on Saturday night to watch the ultimate dance-off, read on.

Lisa Hanson, from Braunton, has met many of the Strictly professional dancers and judges, and, thanks to Len Goodman, when it comes to waltzing, knows her "heel leads" from her "reverse turns".

"Len is the true gentleman. He taught me to waltz," said Lisa who organises BBC and Warner Hotels Strictly events, a chance for members of the public get to meet the professional dancers and judges from the TV show in an intimate setting.

Apparently, during rehearsals for one of these events, Len was busy divulging tips on how to do the waltz when Lisa admitted she wasn't quite sure what he was talking about. He promptly whisked her on to the dance floor to demonstrate.

"I got my own one-on-one tuition with Len Goodman," she exclaims excitedly. "He is exactly what you see: straight forward and the absolute gentleman. It was nice to have a waltz with him and I spent many an afternoon sharing a cup of tea with him."

What then of Strictly's very own panto villain, Craig Revel Horwood? Is he as catty away from the camera as he can be in front of it?

"Craig is an entertainer," she says. "I can't express how professional he is. He knows exactly what he's doing and has a wealth of knowledge. He's a director and choreographer in his own right and he is as entertaining off stage as he is on stage."

As for the dancers, Lisa thinks Anton du Beke would be the natural successor to Brucie if the veteran TV presenter ever took off his tap shoes and decided to finally retire.

"Anton tells story after story. If you've ever seen him live in his own touring show, you will know he is a born entertainer. He would be the one to take over from Brucie because as well as being a ballroom dancer he really understands the craft of variety."

Her favourite dancer though is undoubtedly James Jordan, currently partnering Denise van Outen. There's no hiding her soft spot for the cheeky dancer, known for his outspoken banter with the judges.

"He's such a playful and mischievous boy. If there is any trick to be played he will play it and if there is any sport to take part in, he will be there. He is very competitive."

When Lisa used to hold rehearsals, apparently James would be nowhere to be seen, only to be found challenging someone to a game of archery or finishing off a round of golf.

Lisa plays the Forest Fairy in this year's Queen's Theatre panto, Robin Hood. It's a role she feels honoured to play:

"It's absolutely magical," says the actor whose first role was as an extra in Coronation Street. "When you are in your fairy costume, for all little girls, it is a bit of magic. And that's a very privileged position to be in, so I'm looking forward to getting all the cheers and creating some magic for families."

Lisa has worked both behind the scenes, as the company manager and on stage for the Queen's panto. Last year she understudied the role of the Wicked Queen in Snow White and got to star for a couple performances.

"I've never played evil. It was amazing as I've never been booed before."

She describes the Queen's Theatre panto as having a real "family" feel.

"From the moment you walk in the door there's a sense of welcome. That's what comes across," says Lisa who moved to North Devon five years ago.

She's enthusiastic about this year's show, Robin Hood.

"This is brand new written," she says. "It's an exciting script and it has got magic and it needs the audience's involvement to make the end of the story happen. I can't say what it is but it involves everyone."

As for Strictly, who would she like to see win Saturday's nail-biting final?

"I worked with Vincent and Flavia and neither of them have ever won so I would really love one of them to win. I know it would mean a lot to them."

Robin Hood runs at the Queen's Theatre Barnstaple until Saturday, January 5. Tickets: £10 to £19. Box office: 01271 324242.

The Strictly Grand Final is due to be shown on BBC One on Saturday, December 22, 6.30pm.

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