Strictly Come Dancing is set to make a dazzling return with an all-star Christmas special, promising a magical fusion of dance, glitter, and festive joy. Six new celebrity contestants will grace the dance floor, vying for the coveted title of Christmas Champion 2023.

Interview with Danny Cipriani and Jowita Przystal

How are you feeling about being a part of this year’s Strictly Christmas special?

Danny: I feel absolutely privileged that I get the opportunity to learn a dance with professional dancers who are experts in their role, and I get coached by them, to get to a level where I feel happy enough to go out and perform it to an audience. It’s been an amazing experience.

Jowita: It’s so nice, I love doing the Christmas Special I’ve done it once before, my first year was with Adrian Chiles, and it was so magical. There’s a feeling about the Christmas special, the atmosphere, everyone is so calm and so happy, there’s no stress and even if something goes wrong, it doesn’t matter because its Christmas.

What made you want to take part?

Danny: It was something that I definitely wouldn’t have done years ago. But I was with my friend and they said, ‘you have to do it, you love to dance’. I felt it in my chest that it was the right thing to do, so I committed to that and felt like I wanted to do it, so I said yes.

Have you got any previous dancing experience?

Danny: Just a lifetime of stepping into the beat. I really enjoy dancing. Learning steps is different but now I understand a bit about the Cha Cha Cha and what I need to do to bring it alive, so I am looking forward to that.

Do you think you’re naturally a good dancer?

Danny: I enjoy the way that I move to the beat of the music. Because it makes me feel good. I think everyone looks good when they dance if they are giving it their best shot, even if they are out of beat, it still is a talent to do that because that’s different. There is no right or wrong way. So I enjoy dancing myself. Whether I look good or not is not down to me.

Jowita: I’m telling you, you look great. Your Cha Cha looks great!

Danny: Cheers coach!

Tell us about your partner…How are you finding training?

Jowita: He’s just an absolute trooper he learnt the dance so quickly, we can switch the roles because he can teach me to dance, he’s got the moves.

Danny: Maybe not the Cha Cha Cha, she can teach me that! No it’s been a whirlwind of an experience. It’s a blessing and to step into Jowita’s world, and for her to teach me some special moves, but also the humility and the grace that she works under, it’s the essence of who she is, while being an absolute genius at what she does, it’s so nice to be around. She’s world class, but so humble.

Jowita: Danny understands my crazy. I just met him and said, right, this is the lift, this is the step, this is the trick and he just looked at me and was like ‘ok, cool, let’s do it.’ There was no hesitation, no ‘wait what do you mean I am going to jump up on your shoulder, what do you mean I’m going to spin 70,000 times on the spot, and then I’m up-side down?’ There was none of that.

Talk us through your outfit…

Jowita: Well, we’re dancing to Celebration! So it’s a Christmas party song, and Danny is… Mr Santa Claus and I am Mrs Claus.

Danny: I’ve got a waistcoat on and… no shirt

Jowita: It’s a modern version of Santa Claus

Which judge are you hoping to impress the most?

Danny: I think they’re all going to like me, it’s fine. I’m going to enjoy the moment, so I’m not trying to worry about that too much.

What is your signature dance move at the Christmas party?

Danny: Well what people know me for is the Dougie, because when I was 22, I scored a try and did the Dougie afterwards. Now I do the Dougie everywhere I go because I like it and add bits to it. It’s a good one to put smiles on faces!

Jowita: So if we win this Christmas show, that’s what you’re going to do right?

Danny: No problem

Do you think you will be taking home the top prize this year?

Danny: I haven’t thought about it. It’s not in my control, so I could be pleasantly surprised, or clap happily for whoever wins either way… or do the Dougie.

What is the best present you have ever received?

Danny: The opportunity to do the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special was a very early Christmas present. But when I was a child one Christmas I got a Spider-Man and a Batman toy.

Jowita: I gave this present, but it was also a present for me, because I was working on the cruise ships, and I booked for my parents to come and visit me over the Christmas week. But as a child I got a CD, it was the band t.A.T.u. and I remember me and my cousin danced all day. 

What do you love most about Christmas?

Danny: I love the fact that everyone comes together and family comes to unite and people spend time together, they’re not worried about their day-to-day lives. I love that part of Christmas. But I don’t like the fact that it is just one day, everyone should do that every day. 

Jowita: For me Christmas is the time when I can actually see my family. My Mamushka! I’ve missed many, many Christmases due to work and competition, so if I have the opportunity to be at home during Christmas, it means so much to me.

Do you have a Christmas tradition?

Jowita: When I can go home for Christmas I make Pierogi with my mum in the morning, and stop my dad from picking out of the fridge before dinner is ready. My mum puts the music on, and we start preparing everything, I dress the table and I pick my grandparents up, it’s all about family, it’s what I love the most.

Also we always celebrate my moms birthday on Christmas day because we are all together, it’s her birthday on the 28th and then watching Strictly at home with my family in Poland is so amazing. It’s part of our tradition to watch the Strictly Christmas special, we watch it every year. 

Will you be making a New Year resolution?

Jowita: No I hate it, everyone always says, ‘I’m not going to eat this, I’m not going to eat that, I’m going to look after my mind, body, health’ and then January 5 comes and its gone! No I think just to have an even better year, make it more memorable and be kind, live every day, oh and get another Glitterball!

Danny: To keep living from my heart.