Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman to take on Comic Relief Danceathon

Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman are set to take on Comic Relief’s “longest ever” danceathon next month.

The Strictly Come Dancing presenters and self-confessed “bad dancers” will be on their feet all day and all night to raise money for Red Nose Day.

“Can we stay awake for 24 hours and keep moving?” wondered Tess, as she announced the news on Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 Breakfast Show.

“I don’t know,” said Claudia. “I have two naps most days.”

Every step, turn and twirl will be followed on BBC Radio 2 and streamed live on the red button on 11 and 12 March, ahead of the main Comic Relief telethon on 15 March.

The challenge was last undertaken by Sara Cox in 2017, when she danced to music from the 80s live on BBC Radio 2.

Claudia and Tess are looking to break her record, by extending the challenge beyond the 24-hour mark – with help from Mary Berry and the cast of the West End musical Mamma Mia.

They’ll be prepared for the challenge by Olympic athlete Greg White, who previously helped Zoe Ball complete her Blackpool to Brighton cycling challenge.

“He mentioned this thing called ‘core strength’ and I don’t have it!” laughed Claudia.

Following the announcement, the presenters talked to BBC News about their preparation… or lack of it.

Why have you agreed to extend the dancing. Was 24 not enough?

Tess: It’s 24-and-a-bit, isn’t it?

Claudia: It’s 24-and-a-bit. We adore Comic Relief. Whatever they ask you to do, you just say yes.

Tess: When you’ve seen first hand the great work they do, and the lifelines they provide for people who need help the most, you can’t say no, can you? You’ve just got to keep dancing. That’s what we’re doing. We’re keeping dancing. We’re practicing what we preach.

You’re technically Strictly’s first same-sex dance couple.

Tess: Oh my God! Well if you put it like that, that’s fantastic.

Claudia: And it’s about time.

How are you preparing yourself for this mentally?

Claudia: This is such a good question. People have talked about preparation and I haven’t, I’m going to be honest with you, taken that very seriously. I’ve got Tess, that’s the answer.

Tess: We’ve got each other for moral support, and that counts for an awful lot. Because when one of us is fading and can’t stand up any more, we can push each other on.

Have you started training yet?

Claudia: No, but we’ve got time. We’ve got a couple of weeks. That’s more than enough.

What’s your exercise regime like today?

Claudia: Ah, interesting. Well, brushing my teeth and doing the school run.

I feel the school run is technically the most exhausting activity an adult can undertake.

Tess: Even in a car.

Claudia: So therefore we’re ready.

Your kids are about the same age as mine, so can you do all the Fortnite dances?

Tess: Mine are obsessed with the Fortnite dances. We know how to floss. The children have taught us, so we are down with the kids. We’ll be fine.

Claudia: Here’s the situation. I’m a terrible dancer, Tess is good, but we’ll be upright and we’ll be moving. I’ve got this down [vaguely moves her hands].

What do you like to dance to?

Claudia: We love Beyonce. When we do the show, we love watching people dance. We get really over-excited. When all the professionals take to the floor and they’re dancing, Tess and I have been known to clap. And Gloria Estefan’s opening number in Blackpool? We were screaming.

Tess: We were begging to join in and they said no.

Claudia: That’s a slight exaggeration.

When Dermot did the danceathon, he said the whole thing was an excuse to eat whatever he wanted. Will you be cramming in the carbs?

Tess: I’m using it as an excuse. Mary Berry’s going to come down. I’m hoping she’ll bring cake.

Claudia: We’re not going to stop eating. Apparently, that’s the key. Greg White, who’s a professor, said: “Have burgers, have fish and chips, have pizza. Put pizza on your head. Use pizza as a hat.”

Tess: He’s a human performance expert, so he’s going to advise us how to get through it; and the best ways to eat… cake.

I know your post-Strictly routine is to get a filet-o-fish, right?

Tess: It is! How do you know that?

Claudia: And sometimes a pizza. I’m going to say this, which is quite alarming, and I hope your readers are sitting down: Tess is very happy to have a vegetarian pizza with – wait for this – pineapple on it.

Oh my God, Piers Morgan is going to be furious.

Tess: I can’t eat pizza without pineapple. Is that odd?

Claudia: It’s beyond odd.

Tess: I like the sweet and the savoury juxtaposition. It just works for me.

What about tuna and banana?

Tess: Urgh, that’s disgusting.

Claudia: There’s going to be quite a lot of this kind of conversation when we’re dancing.

Tess: Do you want a sausage roll? Make mine a vegetarian one.

Claudia: Very excited about a vegan sausage roll, this one.

Tess: Ah, can’t wait to try that.

Chris Evans has already confirmed himself for this year’s Strictly. Do you get involved in the bookings? Are you interested in who’s being approached and what negotiations are going on?

Tess: Of course we are!

Claudia: We’re interested but they tell me, specifically, after they’ve told the press because I’ve never been able to keep a secret. I find out when I see it online.

Tess: We do bombard them with suggestions, though, and they ignore us.

Who’d be your ideal celeb?

Tess: A minor royal.

Claudia: Elizabeth Hurley and Neil Kinnock. I’ve asked for both.

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