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How Strictly Come Dancing helped Tyler West gain confidence and overcome the trauma of his youth

As the stars of Strictly Come Dancing prepare to foxtrot and salsa into Belfast's SSE Arena next month, Jenny Lee caught up with DJ and presenter Tyler West and his professional dance partner Dianne Buswell

Tyler West and Dianne Buswell competing on Strictly Come Dancing
Jenny Lee

SEQUINS, dance shoes and afro wig at the ready, Tyler West is thrilled to be on the road in the Strictly Come Dancing Live Arena Tour.

Together with Australian professional dance partner Dianne Buswell he entertained television fans with an intense tango to the Doctor Who theme tune, dressed up as Beetlejuice to dance the cha-cha and performed challenging lifts while donning an afro wig and flared trousers in his salsa routine.

"I am so happy my Strictly journey isn't over quite yet and I can't wait to relive some of our favourite dances and live like a pop-star on tour performing for audiences each night," enthuses the 26-year-old, who hosts the weekday afternoon slot on Kiss FM.

He started out in children's TV, with a number of shows on CBBC, including Match of the Day Kickabout, before going on to host BBC Three's Flat Out Fabulous and The MTV Movie Show.


Tyler West will be hoping for glory when Strictly Come Dancing Live comes to Belfast's SSE Arena


Tyler's DJing career began in 2019 and he now performs internationally, including bringing his signature upbeat energy to Ibiza.

His musical passion shone through in Strictly where he surprisingly performed a garage megamix – the first time the musical genre has been danced to in the show's 20 year history - featuring MC Neat's A Little Bit of Lunch and So Solid Crew's 21 Seconds.

Although eliminated from the competition in week eight at Blackpool's Tower Ballroom, Tyler is only taking positives away from his Strictly experience.

"I never realised how much dance would change my life but I can't express how much I've loved it and fully embraced this opportunity to learn to dance with the best dance," he says.

The Strictly star recently opened up publicly about living with the trauma of witnessing a fatal stabbing when he was just 14 and how he still struggles with it to this day.

"I wouldn't leave my bedroom, I became a recluse. I wouldn't talk to anyone, I was going through a real bad sort of mental health moment back then," he said, speaking on ITV's Loose Women.

Having undergone many years of counselling, Tyler tells me he credits dancing on Strictly with being the best therapy of all.

"Strictly was the polar opposite to who I was as a child, suffering with social anxiety. Dancing with Dianne made the whole journey and process for me so much easier to the extent I've got the next level of confidence to try things I probably wouldn't have contemplated before.

"She supported me along the way, not just with dancing, but mentally and socially as well. It was a beautiful experience to go through and I couldn't have asked for a better partner."


Hamza Yassin, Molly Rainford, Will Mellor, Ellie Simmonds and Tyler West are all competing in Strictly Come Dancing Live Arena Tour


Dianne also praised her size 12-footed partner, describing him as an "absolute joy to work with".

"I do believe everyone can learn to dance but musicality is something that is harder to teach. I was really lucky that Tyler had so much rhythm and musicality," she beams.

Tyler recommends dancing to everyone for not just fitness, but for mental wellbeing.

"The physical side of it is just like a little escape. But it's more than that. When I first started the show Dianne was talking about dance being this and dance being that.

"To me dance was dance. But then when you learn a routine and perform it and you feel this real sense of achievement and euphoria, you understand the true meaning of dance."

When The Strictly Live Tour stops off at Belfast's SSE Arena next month, the audience will get the opportunity to lift up their paddle boards and vote on who wins.

"It's just like the Strictly TV show. Every night there's a winner and a glitter ball trophy. So readers, Tyler and Dianne would really love to lift that glitterball trophy," pleads Dianne.

They will have tough competition from reigning Strictly Come Dancing champion Hamza Yassin and his partner Jowita Przystal, as will other celebrities Helen Skelton, Fleur East, Will Mellor, Molly Rainford and Ellie Simmonds, with their dance partners.


Strictly Come Dancing Live judges Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Anton Du Beke


And for the first time, Anton Du Beke will join fellow TV judges Shirley Ballas and Craig Revel Horwood on the Strictly Live Tour.

"There are lots of lifts and lots of energy involved in our two dances," says Dianne.

"Whilst there will be new costumes for five new celebrity pro dances, the couples dances will feature the same costume actually worn on the TV show."

"I'll need new trousers though, because I ripped mine," pipes up Tyler.

With so many new routines to be perfected in a short time, I ask Dianne the secret to learning the choreography.

"I definitely do lie in bed thinking of the dance moves a lot. My brain is always filled with steps and counts of eights - it's pretty crazy. But because I've danced since I was a little girl, muscle memory helps.

"A lot of steps that you do in every new dance you've already done before - it's just a different order.

"There's still times I go, 'Oh my gosh, what's next?', but Tyler maybe found it harder to remember the choreography because he hasn't been a dancer for as long."

"It was a struggle, but as you progressed in the competition it got easier," he admits, naming the Charleston and the jive as his favourite styles of dance.

"The slower ones, were I got to over think where my toe was going next, was a struggle for me."

Tyler reveals he got some extra dance practice in ahead of tour rehearsals.

"When Crash Bang Wallop! came on in the club, I was up there doing my Charleston. And I went on holiday to New York with my mum and taught an air hostess how to do some of the dances," he laughs.

Having represented GB in handball, before giving it up to concentrate on a career in TV presenting, I ask Tyler if the sport helped prepare him for dancing?

"Dancing and handball are totally different disciplines, but being able to take criticism and train really hard and pushing your body, was something I was used to with handball.

"Playing on an international level was quite nerve wrecking at times and the pressure was on, but dancing in front of millions of people is a whole other ballgame."

So what does his future hold?

"I'd love to be presenting prime time television and radio – entertainment shows and documentaries. If I can put a smile on people's faces from the work that I'm doing, I'm doing something right. And I want to continue dancing," he adds.

The Strictly Come Dancing Live Arena Tour comes to Belfast's SSE Arena on February 7 and 8. Tickets from and


The full line-up of The Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour 2023


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