Amanda Abbington’s surprising decades long bond with Strictly co-star Layton Williams

Amanda Abbington has told how she has a decades-long bond with her Strictly Come Dancing co-star Layton Williams after working with him in one of his earliest roles.

Sherlock star Amanda, 51, and Layton, 29, both had roles in the 2011 CBBC mini-series Postcode about a Somali boy and his family who move to London and are now set to be reunited in the Strictly ballroom.

And although Amanda admits to being competitive and having her eye on the Glitterball trophy, she is tipping her old co-star, Bad Education's Layton, for the top spot in this year's BBC series.

From her 70s disco moves to top tips from Catherine Tyldesley and Sunetra Sarker, Amanda tells us all about her Strictly experience so far.

Hi Amanda! Do you know any of your fellow 2023 contestants?

Yes, I sort of knew Les via social media. and we finally got to meet the other day. I know Nigel Harman through a friend and I knew Layton because I worked with him when he was little, we did a television show together and so it was lovely seeing his name come up, It’s a small world.

Who do you think is your biggest competition?

This year is really strong, isn't it? I mean, there's loads of really good dancers in there, I think both Angelas are really strong! And everybody's got like a lovely kind of, special thing, a little spark. But I think Layton’s the one to watch… he's amazing.

What made you want to take part in the show this year?

I've always wanted to do it, for years and years, it was always my favourite sort of reality show. I'd got to 51 and I thought, I'm peri-menopausal and I've been offered it and it would seem silly not to and I just wanted to have a bit of fun as well, and I wanted to embarrass my children, because, you know, that's what Mums are supposed to do. You're supposed to embarrass your kids and I haven't yet embarrassed them… so now's the time.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge?

I think the biggest challenge is that I'm very competitive and I have to keep that in check. I've got to remember that you're going into it and it's a competition, but that's not the be all and end all, I need to go in and have fun and a nice time.

How do you feel about being ‘Strictly-fied’?

I'm quite a slob in my day-to-day life, I just wear jogging bottoms and T-shirts and vests and things, so I'm really looking forward to wearing all the sequins and glitter. I was rewatching some of the dances and those costumes are wonderful, I'm so excited about the costumes…. and false eyelashes!

Are there any memorable or standout moments for you, from previous series?

I love Giovanni and Rose’s performances…their last dance was just so beautiful. I loved Anita Dobson and Jill Halfpenny’s performances were really good. Catherine Tyldesley… there’s loads of memorable ones that I love.

Do you have any previous dance experience?

I danced a bit from the age of about five to 17, I did ballet at my local town hall. I went to Laine Theatre Arts for a year from the age of 16 to 17, but then I got an injury so I stopped dancing. I dance at weddings and parties and in the kitchen.

How are you preparing for the show?

I’ve set up an ice bath outside, I did it once the other day and hated it and won't ever go in it again! Jonathan, my partner, is super fit and he used to be a stunt performer, so he’s putting me through my paces and just getting my strength up because I'm lazy. I haven't been to the gym for ages, so I'm trying to get my fitness levels back up, but I'm not doing any dance training. I'm going into it completely fresh. I just want to learn it all from scratch from the professionals, I think that’s the best way to do it really.

Have you had any advice from anyone who has done the show before?

Yes, everybody that I've spoken to like Catherine Tyldesley and Sunetra Sarker have said just go in and enjoy it. Don't go in to win it, just have the best time and take it step by step literally. You'll have the most fun then and that's what I wanted to do… just come in and have a nice time.

Do you have a signature dance move you always do at parties?

I like a bit of 70s disco, I can 70s disco a bit and I like Northern Soul too!

Do you have your eye on the Glitterball?

Oh, come on everybody has their eye on the glitterball! Everyone's fairly competitive, aren't they? So yeah, I’d love that ball…and the confetti moment!

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