Strictly Come Dancing stars to wow live audiences at Leeds arena

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They’ve already waltzed their way into the nation’s hearts as the stars of TV’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Now the same silk and sequin-clad celebrities are set to wow live audiences at Leeds’s First Direct Arena.

The £60m venue tonight welcomes the touring version of the hit BBC1 dancing competition.

And arena sales and marketing director Tony Watson is promising fans a veritable ballroom blitz of entertainment.

He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It’s going to be an awesome experience for the audience.

“We’ve got a team of builders turning the arena into a replica of the ballroom from the TV show.

“It’s one of the first television spin-offs we have done and there are obviously a lot of people to take care of, but when you’ve done Sports Personality of the Year then all being well you can handle just about anything!”

Strictly Come Dancing The Live Tour continues at the arena tomorrow and Sunday.

Tomorrow’s programme comprises a matinee and an evening performance, while Sunday sees a matinee show alone.

Celebrities appearing include model Abbey Clancy, Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden and TV presenter Susanna Reid.

Rugby World Cup winner Ben Cohen, Coronation Street’s Natalie Gumede and Westlife heart-throb Nicky Byrne are among the other well-known faces hitting the dancefloor in Leeds.

The visit to the city should be something of a trip down memory lane for Nicky as, before making it big with Westlife, he had a spell as an apprentice goalkeeper with Leeds United in the mid-1990s.

Another person on familiar territory is the show’s host, Lisa Riley, who spent six years on Leeds-based soap Emmerdale.

Lisa has handled presentation duties on previous Strictly Come Dancing live dates and, speaking recently, told of her excitement at repeating the role.

She said: “I had a ball [last time] and was blown away by the amazing reception I got from the audiences across the country. I can’t wait to go back on the road.”

TV favourites Craig Revel Horwood, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli are filling their usual judges’ roles in the production.

l For details on tickets to the Strictly Come Dancing shows in Leeds, visit www.firstdirectarena.com or ring the box office on 0844 249 1000.

Ian Kelly.

Ian Kelly: A life in dance