Strictly stars slip into their dancing shoes in Portsmouth

Louise Redknapp and her professional dance partner Kevin Clifton at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for Strictly Come Dancing Picture: BBC

Louise Redknapp and her professional dance partner Kevin Clifton at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for Strictly Come Dancing Picture: BBC

David Sanderson

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MILLIONS watched as the glitz and glam of Strictly Come Dancing came to Portsmouth as the hit BBC show aired last night.

The city played a key role in the preparation for competition duo Louise Redknapp and her professional dance partner Kevin Clifton.

Louise Redknapp and her professional dance partner Kevin Clifton salute officers Picture: BBC

Louise Redknapp and her professional dance partner Kevin Clifton salute officers Picture: BBC

The pair romped to an impressive start in the second night of the competition, performing a fast-paced jive, ending up in second place on the leaderboard.

And audiences were treated with a behind-the-scenes view of the couple’s final phase of preparation, which saw them perfecting their moves at the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

The couple offered visitors to the popular attraction a sneak preview of their sailor-inspired first dance when they took to the First World War veteran warship, HMS M33.

TV audiences were shown the pair in full flow as they practised their dance moves onboard the 100-year-old vessel.

Warrant Officer Dickie Henderson welcomed the couple on board M33 to inspire them with their sailor-based jive.

And to stick with the navy theme of their routine, the dancers were also shown how to salute Royal Navy-style on one of the world’s most famous warships, HMS Victory.

Dickie, who is Victory’s executive officer said: ‘It’s been really good fun and any opportunity to show off the Royal Navy on TV is just great.’

Louise, a former member of girl band Eternal who’s married to football pundit Jamie said: ‘It’s amazing to be able to practise our dance on this incredible ship and how exciting to be able to bring a little of the Strictly sparkle to her.’

M33 saw action in the First World War during the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.

She was designed and built in seven weeks. The 72 crew were deployed and did not return for three years.

Kevin, four-time finalist on the show, added: ‘I’ve learnt to salute properly because apparently I wasn’t doing it right before and the crew weren’t impressed.’

Celebrities hoping to impress on the dance floor this year include: Birds of a Feather actress Lesley Joseph, pop superstar Anastacia, model Daisy Lowe, I’m A Celeb presenter Laura Whitmore, BBC Breakfast host Naga Munchetty, Olympic gymnast Claudia Fragapane and EastEnders star Tameka Empson.

There is also ex-shadow chancellor Ed Balls, Pop Idol star Will Young, double Olympic medal-winner Greg Rutherford, Xtra Factor presenter Melvin Odoom, Hollyoaks star Danny Mac, sports host Ore Oduba and TV legal eagle Robert Rinder.

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