Ed Balls has said he is relishing the chance to be doing something that “makes people smile” as he embarks on the Strictly Come Dancing live tour.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the 30-date tour, which kicks off on January 20 and will visit Sheffield and Leeds.
The former Labour MP for Morley and Outwood in West Yorkshire, who became a fan favourite during his time on the BBC One dancing show, said he hopes his return to the dance floor will bring joy to those in the audience.
He said: “I reckon in life you’ve sometimes got to embrace new things and this is certainly new for me. But it’s been great fun.
“In politics, you do tough things and sometimes make very hard decisions, but I’m having a time at the moment where I can do things that make people smile.
“And maybe after the last year, where there’s been a lot of division and disappointment and problems in the world, maybe it’s good to let people smile a bit and hopefully they’re going to smile on the tour.”
Balls will waltz across the country with other returning Strictly favourite’s including last year’s winner, sports presenter Ore Oduba, Birds Of A Feather star Lesley Joseph, former Eternal singer Louise Redknapp, soap star Danny Mac and model Daisy Lowe.
Former Strictly semi-finalist Anita Rani is the new tour host and she will be joined on the road by the judging panel of Len Goodman and Craig Revel Horwood - who also acts as the tour’s director - and former Strictly pro Karen Hardy.
Goodman stepped down as head judge of the television show at the end of 2016.
Television star and barrister Judge Rinder will give his Manchester fans a treat as he joins to perform at all of the shows being held at the Manchester Arena, dancing with his partner from the TV series, Oksana Platero.
He will be delighting fans following news that Balls will miss the Manchester performances due to prior commitments.
Oduba, who beat Redknapp and Mac to win the Glitterball trophy, said he had been on “cloud nine” ever since winning.
Talking about life has a “champion”, he said: “It has been wonderful, I haven’t come off cloud nine since Christmas. I think I’ve found cloud ten actually because this tour has just made it even better, it’s wonderful.”