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There’s some stiff competition on the Strictly dance floor this year, with Maisie Smith bringing the moves and Bill Bailey providing the laughs – but we’re still rooting for Made In Chelsea favourite Jamie Laing!
The comeback kid, who had to pull out of the show last year after a foot injury and was replaced by eventual winner Kelvin Fletcher, was given a second shot by bosses this time around, and he’s clearly loving every moment.
In 2019, Jamie was paired with Oti Mabuse, but now he’s shimmering up a storm with Karen Hauer – and they suit each other perfectly. And no, we’re not just talking about their identical blonde crops!
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“She’s so good with me,” Jamie gushes as we catch up with him during a break from rehearsals. “Karen’s a tough taskmaster, but that works! I’m a fast learner and I respond well to instruction.”
It’s only fair to point out that in the first couple of weeks of the show, Jamie, 32, has been outshone by better dancers, but we’re expecting his competitive side to come out.
After all, this is the man who’s shared screen time with Spencer Matthews,Ollie Locke and Sam Thompson, so he knows a thing or two about competing with big personalities!
Also sharing his life now is girlfriend Sophie ‘Habbs’ Habboo, 26, who Jamie recently revealed he’ll propose to if he wins the Glitterball trophy. Sounds like it’s serious!
Here, Jamie tells us how it’s going on the show, the support he’s received and which Strictly stars he has bonded with…
Hi Jamie. How are you finding training?
Karen and I are pretty ruthless. Every day this week we’ve got back at 9.30pm and we start at 10am. The blisters are bad. I woke up the other night and my feet were honestly walking away from me as they were so sore. I said, “Please come back guys, I need you!” You’re using parts of your body that you’ve never used in your entire life.
Have you noticed any other changes with your body?
I’m a little bit skinnier, which is good. My girlfriend says to me, “Oh, you look skinnier!” So that’s sweet. I never eat fried chicken, but I had two portions yesterday. I’m literally eating as much as I possibly can.
Is it harder than you thought it would be?
It’s definitely harder than I thought, but it’s also amazing. It’s an insane experience.
Have you discovered any pre-show rituals?
I don’t think there’s anything yet. I just try not to throw up! And I do a lot of heavy breathing, but I don’t know if that’s just because I’m incredibly nervous.
Does Karen keep you calm?
Karen’s the ultimate pro, but I really don’t want to mess up for her. You have that pressure as well.
Who have you bonded with the most out of the other contestants?
I’m bonding really well with Max [George] from The Wanted, I’m really good buddies with HRVY and the pros Janette Manrara, Giovanni Pernice and Gorka Marquez. Those guys are my homies. We’re having the biggest laugh.
Who’s your biggest competition?
I honestly didn’t think HRVY was going to be as good as he is. He’s fricking insane! HRVY, where did you get those little steps from?! I’m just so impressed with everything about him.
What’s it like standing in front of the judges?
The whole thing is exhilarating, fun, intimidating and terrifying. I’ve never experienced anything as scary as it. Ever. And I’ve done bungee jumps and all sorts of things. I was thinking, “If I got a 7, that probably would be very good’ – and then I got a 4 from Craig! And the other guys only gave me a 5, so it was only one up.
Has hearing their feedback made you more determined?
One hundred per cent. All I want to do is go back and dance and do it again and again. I’m now so competitive. I want to dance for the rest of my life and prove that I can actually do it.
It’s fair to say Strictly is a far cry from your early days on Made In Chelsea…
When we started the show we were 22 years old. We were going out a lot, meeting new people, partying a lot and we thought we were famous! But you soon realise that a life being unfaithful to women isn’t a charming life to live. It’s not respected and people don’t look at you terribly fondly. You soon realise your mistakes and learn from them – I’ve certainly learnt from mine. I don’t regret anything, but I’ll never forget upsetting others and myself.
Your pal Spencer Matthews had quite the reputation, didn’t he?
[Laughs] He did, but then we all had some degree of fame and we always had each other’s backs. It was a fun time. Imagine travelling and partying with your best mates! We grew up together and we’ve had this journey together – it was an amazing experience. If you speak to Spencer I’m sure he’d regret how he behaved in the past, but look at him now!
Well indeed, his glow-up has been quite something!
We’re both so removed from where we started. Spencer is the most wonderful father and husband you could ever meet. Going from someone who was the total opposite of that, to now, I’m so proud of him. He and Vogue [Williams] are the most perfect couple in the world. I adore their children Gigi and Theodore. They’re like my own children!
Has he been supportive of your Strictly journey?
Oh, he’s thrilled. Although deep down I’m sure he’s hoping I’ll fall flat on my face! [Laughs]
If you could pick one other Made In Chelsea co-star to do Strictly, who’d be the best?
I think the best on Strictly would actually be Spencer.
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Do you think he’s a bit jealous?
You know what? I think it’s the sort of show everyone wants to do! If one of my buddies got it and I didn’t, I’d be jealous. It’s a special thing to be a part of.
And how is Habbs coping with you being away and training with Karen?
She is totally secure, and believe me, when I’m dancing with Karen I’m not thinking about anything other than getting the steps right!
What’s next for you?
I’ve always wanted to be a presenter. I host my podcast Private Parts , but I’d love to have my own chat show. If people see me on Strictly and like me, who knows where it could lead?
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