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Pamela Stephenson: My Strictly Secret Diary

By Pamela Stephenson

Tears. Battle wounds. And oh-so intimate moments with her toyboy partner. We asked Strictly’s supergran Pamela Stephenson to keep a diary of her six frenzied days before tonight’s final.

Supergran: Pamela Stephenson promises to turn up the raunch for Strictly Come Dancing's final


I woke up at 4.30am, my body still surging with adrenaline, and couldn’t get back to sleep. Still can’t believe I got through to the finals of Strictly Come Dancing last night!

My husband Billy (Connolly) is jet- lagged, so he was up, too, banging the bathroom door as usual. His last words before he fell asleep were: ‘By the way, how’d you get to dance like that?’

‘I told you before,’ I muttered. ‘James!’

‘Oh aye,’ replied Billy. ‘Good lad.’

As he started snoring, I allowed myself to bask in a surge of pride and relief, remembering that last night the judges gave me and my adorable professional partner James Jordan four tens. This was followed by a fit of anxiety at the thought of having to do it all again.

On Strictly, there’s no such thing as a day off. Today, a couple of hours filming at the BBC’s TV Centre in West London was followed by an intense training session, with James in his usual bullish frame of mind.

‘Don’t think,’ he started, ‘that just because you did well last night I’m going to go easy on you this week!’

As if. For the next several hours, ‘Supergran’, as James has taken to calling me, was tortured with relentless teasing about my apparent inability to take three spinning steps to the left and remain on balance.

I don’t know why, but my legs feel like jelly. Oh wait, maybe it has something to do with the fact I just danced the paso doble, the quickstep and a swing marathon (the latter involving four flips over James’s head, two splits jumps, a couple of swings through his legs to a standing position and several other assorted leaps) on live TV watched by 14 million people. Not bad for a 61-year-old, eh?

Saucy: Pamela Stephenson has lost two-and-a-half stone since she started training for Strictly Come Dancing.


Panic set in today, largely because poor James, who is exhausted, has not yet finished choreographing our ‘show dance’. This is supposed to be our ultimate Strictly dance — a mixture of any types of dancing we choose that must demonstrate consummate skill and be a fabulous crowd-pleaser. No pressure!

Naturally, James wants to get it right and his frustration and anger knew no bounds today. I responded by tickling him to get him to relax.

Besides the show dance, we’re also expected to repeat our highest-scoring routine so far (we’ve chosen our Viennese waltz, for which we received a perfect score) and one contrasting dance (Charleston for us, although we have to replace the moving split because I still have a torn hamstring from doing it first time round), plus one new dance — the Argentine tango.

The tango is my all-time favourite dance. It’s smouldering, passionate and, when it’s done right, thrilling. Tango gods Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone came along to help us and watching them dance together was just breathtaking.

Then it was my turn. Imagining myself to be a cool, Argentinian sexpot, I tried gauchos (kicks), ochos (swivels), plus many kinds of lunges, sways and lifts — all the while clutching James in a desperately naughty embrace. Needless to say, I had the biggest smile on my face for hours.

Star turn: Pamela Stephenson practicing with dance partner James Jordan

As for my husband, he left for Los Angeles today to attend the Press junket for his latest movie Gulliver’s Travels (he plays the king of Lilliput).

He has decided to ditch the premiere and fly back just in time to watch me in the finals.
Very nice of him, but I hope he won’t be so tired that he falls asleep in the audience when I’m dancing — not a good look.

My youngest daughter has caught up with the weekend’s events on YouTube. ‘Your dances were out of control!’ she texted. ‘Totally amazing! You rule!’ Nice change from all the sniggering my children did over the years when I took to the floor at parties.


I had an early costume fitting at Chrisanne, the company that makes my Strictly outfits.

They’re responsible for my transformation from dowdy professional woman to dancing glamourpuss.

First, I tried on my show dance outfit and it fitted beautifully.

Verolita Macken, who makes the dresses, always allows for weight loss of up to 3lb per week (I’ve lost 2½ st altogether).

Then I slipped on a version of my Charleston dress from week nine, this time in fluorescent peach. Next, I tried my sexy tango dress — which I love, love, love — and danced a few steps to help them figure out where they should put the splits (sides or back). We decided on both to allow for maximum kicking.

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But, as always, the really big question is: how much cleavage?

James is always worried my breasts are going to fall out. Personally, I don’t mind being risque if the dance requires a touch of va-va-voom, but I’d hate a full-on ‘wardrobe malfunction’.

We also discussed footwear — having had half a cup of fluid drained off my knee last week (I’d injured it way back in jive week), I’m opting for lower shoes.

(Apparently, people phoned the BBC to ask why I was wearing trainers in last Friday’s swingathon!)

After sorting the costumes, dance training started at 11am. The mood was extra tense because by lunch time neither the Argentine tango routine nor the show dance were finished.

James and I usually have a lot of fun in training, but this week I’ve been a bit snappy with him, and finally I’ve realised why: I’m very sad that our time together is coming to an end.

After three-and-a-half months together, I feel very close to him, and it’s going to be hard to let go. I am aware people tend to pick fights in an unconscious effort to make parting easier to bear, and I’m going to have to control myself.

Towards the end of today’s session, we received a text containing devastating news. I hadn’t realised that the final will be in two parts.

All three finalists will dance twice, after which the public will vote, but then one person will be eliminated and only the two remaining contestants will get to dance their last two dances — which in my case would include the Argentine tango. I may not get to perform it — how cruel!

Bound to feel a void: Stephenson dreads having to say goodbye to Jordan after tonight's final


Not an easy day. There’s a particularly difficult lift in our show dance that requires extreme precision from me as I spin towards James. I have to remember to place my arm and leg in the right position — in less than a second — or it will not work.

What’s more, if I don’t weight my body correctly when I get on his shoulders, we will both be in agony. The other problem is dizziness — he whirls me round so fast.

We are also doing a floor spin — the tricky move I failed to recover from in our salsa, which led to my infamous ‘teetering moment’. I know we’re tempting fate, but I love that we’re taking a risk. The floor spin also involves a painful grip on my forearm, so I found a pair of socks and made them into wrist guards.

They served double duty to protect my arms from the trouser burns sustained in our Charleston lifts (‘Mum, how do you even get trouser burns?’ asked my girls.

‘From putting my hands backwards between James’s legs, rummaging around until I find the right bit of flesh to hang on to, then using it as a lever with which to flip over his head.’ Well, they did ask!) Frankly, we were nearly beaten by the Charleston lifts today.

In this dance, James cartwheels over my thighs, which means I have to carry his entire upside-down weight, then put him down and roll upside down over his shoulders before flipping over his back, landing in a backbend and high-kicking in time to the music.

The third time we tried it, I came down very hard after the 360-degree flip and felt a searing pain in the ball of my foot.

Embarrassing: Stephenson accidentally grabbed Jorday in the wrong place during rehearsals

Nothing, however, was broken, and James suggested his usual remedy — opening a can of ‘Toughen-Up’. (His way of saying: ‘Get over it.’)

By comparison, the Viennese waltz was a piece of cake, although I am still struggling a bit with the ‘fleckle’ —a tricky turning step with required footwork that must be precise and clean; if you don’t start it correctly, you will never catch up.

But I love the emotion of that dance — it’s so romantic, and James looks at me so tenderly I sometimes want to cry. Actually, I did have a bit of a cry. James had got upset with me because I kept getting something wrong and everything got to me.

When James and the crew took a coffee break, I lay down and allowed a few tears to drizzle out in secret.

However, no time for weakness. By 6pm we hadn’t even touched our Argentine tango. We finally launched ourselves into it, but again the lifts were killers. At 9.45pm, he said: ‘That’s it. I’ve got no more to give!’

So we called it a day.


Our last training day ever — I’m sad about that. Thankfully, the dances came a little easier, and we had time for a few giggles and even a full-on water fight. I seem to revert to the age of seven when I’m around James — it’s great fun.

Something really embarrassing happened in the afternoon. When we were doing a pesky Charleston lift, I accidentally grabbed James in the wrong place — and I really mean the wrong place! We laughed about it, but thank heavens they can’t put things like that on BBC1.

Billy called when we were having coffee, wanting an update. I don’t like to worry him when he’s travelling, so I told him it was plain sailing. I passed the phone to James, who said: ‘I’m knackered, mate. Don’t know where your wife gets her energy!’

I wanted to take James aside today and have a private conversation, but we’re always on camera and wired for sound. I’m confused about how he views our relationship.
Is it just for the cameras? Or will we still be friends after Strictly is finished?

Finishing touches: Stephenson and Jordan practice together for a final time on Friday in the Strictly Come Dancing studio

I hope he and his delightful wife Ola will remain in my life, but I can’t tell. Strange. I may be a doctor of psychology, but this scenario is off my radar.

I imagine most contestants find it hard when their time on Strictly ends. After intense training and performing with a partner for up to 12 hours a day, one is bound to feel a void. The experience has been so brilliant — I really don’t want it to stop.


We've been back at Television Centre, having our first rehearsals on camera.

Today, there were final costume fittings, last-minute brush-ups of the routines, press chats and, of course, spray-tans all round.

I’m crazy with nerves — after all, the final is tomorrow!

Later, I wished my fellow finalists good luck. It will be a marathon, but I’m looking forward to it and, whatever happens, it’s going to be fun. I really hope I get to dance the Argentine tango — it’s full-on sex!

Strictly has been a joyful experience for me. I came into it not expecting to last very long, yet here I am. I just hope this sexagenarian can heed my husband’s best dance tip: ‘Just keep smiling and avoid the furniture.'

Eyes on the prize: The three pairs of finalists: Artem Chigvintsev with dancing partner Kara Tointon, Pamela Stephenson with James Jordan and Matt Baker with Aliona Vilani