A minute on the clock: James Martin

15 December 2005
A minute on the clock: James Martin

James Martin, celebrity chef and Strictly Come Dancing star, talks to Emily Manson about the show

What made you agree to do Strictly Come Dancing? More foolishness than judgement, but I wanted to do it for charity more than anything and, having done The Full Monty a while back, I wanted to give it a go for Children in Need.

Did you ever think you'd get as far as you did? No, I genuinely thought I'd be out in the first round. We were the underdogs the last few weeks, and the public want someone with fight who tries and tries and tries. I'm no Billy Elliott, but it was quite amazing to get through as far as I did.

What was it like being in the semis? No different really. Each week we had to learn something new, so it didn't feel that different. At the end of the day, I've tried my best and it's been great fun.

Which dance did you enjoy most?
The waltz, or anything ballroom. I'd never danced before - well, only when I was pissed in the pub - but I've discovered I'm a ballroom dancer. It's a revelation. People train for years just to get the action, but it just comes naturally to me.

What was the worst moment? My back has never been as bad as the other week. It's the old chef's thing. I'm 6ft 3in and have been leaning over benches for my career. You only discover the problem when you dance and get into strange positions.

Did working in a kitchen help your dance floor moves? Not at all. But the amount of hours I've put in was like cheffing. I've also got the experience of putting everything in, getting knocked down, coming back again and never giving up.

Did you miss working in the kitchen? I didn't have much of a choice while doing the show, but I'm still very much in the kitchen. Last week I was there for four days, but you can't do it full-time and still put in 30-40 hours' dancing practice. You have to get your priorities right and juggle what you're doing. I'd never give up completely, though, as if all the TV work falls apart, I'd still have a job to come back to.

So, come on then - are you dating your dance partner, Camilla? No, I'm not. It's all media puff, and that's the next day's bog roll anyway.

How do you feel about being branded the housewives' favourite? I don't give a shit what people think. I guess I'm just a typical chef. People can think what they want about me. The fact is, I know I'm alright. It's only hard when people slate you on national TV and insult you. Then it starts to get personal.

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