Entertainment & Arts

Ed Balls 'scared to death' over Strictly Come Dancing

Ed Balls
Image caption Balls lost his seat at the 2015 general election

Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls is the first contestant confirmed for the next series of BBC One show Strictly Come Dancing.

Speaking to Chris Evans on the Radio 2 breakfast show, Balls said he was "scared to death".

He described taking part as a "dream come true", adding that "Parliament was much easier than this".

Balls, 49, who has run three London marathons, told Evans he was trying to get fit for "those moves".

'Enjoy every minute'

"From the beginning of September, I'm definitely going to be doing 12 hours a week training but everybody says I'll have to do quite a few more hours than that," he said.

"Our family have been massive fans of Strictly for years. I've taken the view that if you have a midlife crisis, make sure you plan it well and enjoy every minute."

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Media captionEd Balls reveals his wife's reaction to the news he's taking part in Strictly

Strictly Come Dancing will return to BBC One next month. Head judge Len Goodman is stepping down after this series.

"It's a dream come true," said Balls. "And to do Len's last series, my only hope is it stays a dream and doesn't become a nightmare."

The former politician is married to Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who Balls revealed was a tap and ballet dancer as a teenager.

She tweeted that she was "so, so envious" of her husband's appearance on the show.

Balls was spotted on the dancefloor at the Labour Party conference in 2014 doing a Gangnam Style dance alongside his wife.

He is the first male politician to appear on the series, but former MPs Ann Widdecombe and Edwina Currie have both been contestants, in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Former business secretary Vince Cable also appeared in a Christmas special in 2010.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The BBC had fun with the announcement on Twitter

Strictly tweeted the news of Balls's inclusion with a nod to his infamous "Ed Balls" tweet in 2011.

Balls, who was searching Twitter for an article written about him, accidentally entered his name in the wrong box and sent a tweet saying "Ed Balls".

It was then retweeted by thousands. The incident is now celebrated by Twitter users as Ed Balls Day on its anniversary.

'Something for everyone'

Strictly hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman recently revealed that they already know who all the contestants are for the new series.

Winkleman said: "There's something for everyone... there's young, there's old, there's small, there's tall, there's cuddly, there's abrasive.

"Actually there's no abrasive ones, I miss the abrasive ones."

Balls was the UK shadow chancellor from 2011 to 2015, when he lost his Morley and Outwood seat in the general election.

He also served in the Cabinet as secretary of state for children, schools and families from 2007 to 2010.

Since leaving Parliament, he has become a visiting professor of King's College London, a senior fellow at Harvard University, and was appointed chairman of his hometown football club Norwich City.

He also appeared on The Great Sport Relief Bake Off earlier this year.

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