STRICTLY Come Dancing star Brian Fortuna has agreed to be a judge in the Chronicle & Echo’s own version of the hit BBC1 television show at Royal & Derngate next month, the Chron can reveal today.
The 29-year-old, from New Jersey, USA, will be in the town this Christmas to play the lead role in Aladdin at the theatre, and had no hesitation in agreeing to be on the panel of judges at Strictly Northampton on Saturday, November 26.
The show, run by Step By Step Dance school and the Chron in conjunction with BBC Radio Northampton and Barclaycard, will see 18 well-known names and faces from the county perform a waltz, jive and freestyle routine in front of an audience of more than 1,000 people at the theatre to raise cash for the paper’s appeal with Macmillan Cancer Support to raise £1.55 million for a new blood cancer treatment unit at Northampton General Hospital.
Brian became a household name as one of the professional dancers on the primetime BBC 1 series Strictly Come Dancing, famously partnering actress Ali Bastian, with whom he reached the semi-finals in 2009, totting up the highest scores in Strictly history for the Viennese waltz.
He said: “In a world full of death, devastation and war, any time you have the chance to give back as a person is good.
“I achieved success on television and as a result it takes very little effort for me to give a little back.
“It is a wonderful charity you are supporting and building a new cancer unit will help so many people.
“Cancer is one of those diseases which affects our whole planet and it’s a privilege to have been asked to be a judge in Strictly Northampton.”
Brian also had some words of advice for all the contestants.
He said: “Looking and learning when preparing makes opportunities.
“Work to prepare but try to enjoy it on the night.
“A lot of people get very nervous but remember the audience doesn’t know what your routine is and 10 mistakes from someone who’s having a great time is far more enjoyable to watch than someone who performs a perfect routine.
“Strictly is a very special experience and everyone should have great fun, especially as it’s for such a worthwhile cause.”
After his Strictly experience, Brian re-trained as an actor and singer, as is looking forward to performing in Aladdin, which will be his first pantomime.
He said: “When I told my family back home in New Jersey I was in a pantomime they were like ‘What’s that?’, and asked if I’d be miming in it. Panto is a uniquely British tradition which is why I wanted to be in one.”
Aladdin runs at Royal & Derngate from December 9 to January 8.