Brendan Cole: Who knows when Strictly will say goodbye?
Strictly Come Dancing dance professional Brendan Cole is returning to Belfast with his latest production, All Night Long. Dubbed the 'bad boy' of the show, the proud New Zealander tells Joanne Sweeney how his fiesty reputation comes from a good place
NO SOONER had the glitter settled as Strictly Come Dancing drew to a close just before Christmas than a press story was published saying dance professional Brendan Cole was seen "holding hands" with his stunning blonde professional dance partner, Nadia Bychkova at the show's wrap party.
The reality was very difficult, as Cole explained on a promotional visit to Belfast earlier this week, the day after he appeared on RTE One's Dancing With The Stars.
"You can write anything you want about me and I'll take it with a pinch of salt as I know that it's a nonsense, that it's made up," Cole, whose wife Zoe is due to give birth to their second child within weeks, said. "It's frustrating but it comes with the territory, and we use the media for good and bad.
"I will use the media for my personal gain and they will use me for their own gain. The problem is that it affects other people – my wife, for example. She hates it. If they write a story about me with Nadia or anyone, she feels stupid.
"It can also affect one of the celebs when their wife is sitting at home feeling insecure – when something is written, what are they going to think?"
Speaking about the famous Strictly curse, which sees long-term relationships under strain or marriages end due to the close relationships which develop between the celebrities and the dancers, Cole added: "Yes, it does happen, but it happens everywhere in human nature. Unfortunately on the show, it is heightened. [The media] can write whatever the hell they like and you have no reply. They will put whatever suits them but not all of the details. For example, I spent the entire time at the wrap party drinking with Nadia's fiancé – but they don't write that.
"These are the things that really infuriate us. But you take the good with the bad."
The 40-year-old said he was excited about returning to Belfast and the Waterfront Hall again on March 28 and 29 with his new show, All Night Long. He and the cast will then end this current tour with two shows in Dublin's RDS on March 30 and 31.
Created and hosted by Cole himself, All Night Long is a two-hour show packed with dance, music, comedy and song where he and his championship-standard dancers are backed by a 13-piece band and singers.
"Because it's my show, I want people to have an incredible time. I'm on stage for an hour and 40 minutes of the show and in 11 or 12 numbers out of the 20 performed,” he said.
The Strictly star said that his real enjoyment was making people happy and he particularly loved the way that a Belfast audience gets lost in the emotional rollercoaster that the dance and song of the show brings.
"I want people to be thoroughly entertained from start to finish. One moment we can be doing a beautiful waltz which tells the story of an affair and then three minutes later we are doing this incredible Argentine tango which is just pure passion and drama."
While he's looking forward coming back to the Waterfront, where he has performed in his own shows on three other occasions, the dancer said he was a bit nervous as he is likely to be a father of two by then. The thought of what is entailed with the upheaval of having a newborn at home has been weighing on his mind.
"It's going to be a very interesting time, yes, particularly with the baby and the tour,” he said. “It's going to be a whirlwind. Our daughter Aurelia is now five, so she's going to school and you start getting a little bit of life/parenting balance back again and all of a sudden we'll be right back to the nappies and everything.
"Before you have a baby, there's this excitement over what the baby will be like, how life will be? But once you have one, and you're going to have another one, you know what's coming and it's a tough gig. So I'm not quite as excited this time around but can't wait to meet the little person."
Describing himself as a "hands-on dad" who does his bit at night when his daughter wakes up, Cole said fatherhood had changed him significantly.
"You become less selfish as you can't be selfish when you have a child. And it's made me enjoy the good times even better, as on a tour like this we have a ball."
He and his wife, model Zoe Hobbs, live in Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire and enjoy a few months away each year at their home in Majorca where Cole gets a chance to do some manly stuff around the home than he does with his when on Strictly, which involves – perhaps ironically for someone who owns a home in the Balearic islands – a lot of stepping into tanning booths.
"I'm always pottering around, chopping wood, cleaning out the pool, doing stuff outside. I love the heat of the sun, but I can't lie around in it," he said.
The proud New Zealander, who left home in Christchurch at the age of 19 for his dance career in England, would be working in construction if his dance career had not taken off.
He revealed that he has not been back to his home city, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2011, since his father died at around the same time.
"I'm going to have to go back sometime and I really do want to but it will be a bit raw for me and I'm not sure if I'm ready for it as the whole city has changed and my dad's not there," Cole said.
He and his brother and sister were sent off to dance school by their mother when he was just aged six to learn ballroom dancing. Although he was teased at school for his dancing, he says it helped to make him the strong individual he is today.
He accepts that he's known as the feisty one on Strictly, and he, along with Anton Du Beke, are the only remaining original dancers since the show started in 2004.
"I am feisty but it comes from a good place. It comes from a place of passion. Anyone who's feisty is normally passionate about what they do. I'm just very honest," he said.
"Let's not skirt around the issues. If someone says something that I disagree with, I will say something unless it doesn't matter to me. But Strictly does matter to me. "
And does he think his Strictly 'journey' will continue much longer?
"Who knows? I don't know when the final curtain will be drawn on Strictly. I'm hoping that it will last for a very long time."
He continued: "One day the BBC will say thank you very much. We've seen enough of you, Mr Cole – goodbye. Or maybe one day I will think my passion is not there any more and I'm ready for the next chapter. I don't know when that will be, but I can tell you that my passion is still in the show."
:: Tickets for Brendan Cole – All Night Long are available by calling 028 9033 4455 or online at www.waterfront.co.uk