Richard Arnold talks about the 2019 Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special.

Richard Arnold is best known for his showbiz slot on Good Morning Britain.

The GMTV, Daybreak and Good Morning Britain face is one of the six celebrities returning to the dance floor in this year’s festive outing.

Richard and his professional partner Luba Mushtuk will be competing against Chizzy Akudolu and Graziano Di Prima, Debbie McGee and Kevin Clifton, Gemma Atkinson and Gorka Márquez, Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell, and Mark Wright and Janette Manrara.

Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will oversee proceedings as head judge Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood give their verdict on the contestants’ performances before the studio audience chooses a winner.

The Christmas special will open with a magical festive group routine with the celebrities and their professional partners, alongside Strictly pros Johannes Radebe, Nadiya Bychkova, Giovanni Pernice, Katya Jones, Nancy Xu Xi, Aljaž Škorjanec and Liam Payne will also be performing his new song All I Want For Christmas.

Below Richard ponders his return to the Strictly ballroom…

Have you carried on dancing since you left the competition?

No! I’ve thrown a few shapes at parties but once you’ve been in firm hold with the best teachers in the business you’re spoiled for life.

What’s your dancing like now?

Best ask my partner Luba. I must admit, even though I am a veteran of the Strictly experience and seven years-older, I feel less like a dinosaur lumbering towards extinction like I did first time around!

What are you most nervous about returning to the ballroom? Are there any moves you can’t do anymore? Are you as fit as you were before?

I’ve always kept myself fit. Strictly for me was always mentally more taxing. I’m so used to free-wheeling and improvising on live telly that making my feet behave is like trying to ask my tongue to stick to the script.

Have you kept in touch with many of your old classmates?

What a year 2012 was! When it was revealed I’d be back in the ballroom, there was a flurry of messages from my old co-stars. Notably, Michael Vaughn who was very much a brother in arms throughout my initial turn round the floor.

What’s it like to train with a brand new dance partner?

My favourite thing about Strictly is the training. It’s a real privilege to be with a pro who is, frankly, an Olympian at their sport.

Who will you be bringing to the show to cheer you on?

My Mum. She didn’t get to come down to the show last time around. She is absolutely over the moon that I’m doing it again. She’s always the first to lay out the nibbles on a Saturday night and settle down in front of Strictly. She’s then on the blower discussing it with her friends.

Who’s your biggest competition?

The joy of the Christmas show for me is that there is no jeopardy. My face will be lit up no matter what my feet are doing!

Have you been watching the show this year? Who’s your money on?

I’ve loved Emma Barton and Kelvin Fletcher especially this year. Kelvin and I often get mistaken for each other. It’s like looking in a mirror.

How much training have you been able to do?

Every free minute between Good Morning Britain. I’m not always awake but I am definitely in the room.

What will you be doing on Christmas day?

I’m cooking this year as always. The kitchen is my favourite spot. I love all the prep on Christmas Eve, having a cheeky glass to myself and then nodding off in front of the fire that night. Come Christmas Day, it’s the Queen, lunch, and Strictly. It’ll be the one and only time I’ll ever be able to put my feet up and watch myself safe in the knowledge I made it through to the following week: because there isn’t one!

Name your three dream Strictly Christmas dinner guests…

Anyone with a stomach for my company and cooking. Craig for his loose lips, Bruno for his swivel hips and Shirley for sheer glamour and to keep them apart!

What does Christmas mean to you?

Time spent with those I love.

Richard in a macho moment from his first run on Strictly.

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