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BBC Breakfast newsreader and Sunday Morning Live presenter, Naga Munchetty has swapped the red sofa for Strictly sequins and is currently hitting the dance floor every Saturday night with Russian dance hunk, Pasha Kovalev – who, in 2014, won the series with partner Caroline Flack.

The Strictly star took time out from dance rehearsals to speak to TNT’s Kaye Holland

How’s the training going?
Brilliantly. It’s hard work, but I’m really enjoying it. I love learning something new every day and right now I am learning 50 million new things a day, so it’s fantastic.

What kind of dancer were you before Strictly Come Dancing?
I was the kind of dancer who used to get up and throw themselves around on the dance floor. I can’t say I had any skill but I’ve always enjoyed dancing. I had two dance lessons ahead of my wedding, 12 years ago, but it didn’t go well. I actually fell over in a big puff of wedding dress!

You’re used to pressure with your day job. Is this tougher?
It’s a different kind of pressure from my day job. With my day job, the pressure is to inform and dispense the news accurately and in a way that people can understand. With Strictly the pressure is entirely on myself: the only content I have to work with is the dance steps. And I have to look the part and perform - which is all new to me.

Do you reckon you will be a ballroom babe or give Shakira a run for her money in the Latin department?
You know I always thought that I would be no good at ballroom, but I adored the waltz [Naga and Pasha danced to Run to You by Whitney Houston in week one]. And I have to say that after the cha cha, I loved being back in hold for the tango last Saturday night.

Which dance are you most looking forward to performing?
Before we started training, I’d have said the Charleston or the Jive - both just look to be such great, fun dances. However so much of the Charleston and Jive is spent on your own, which worries me. I didn’t think I would like the waltz and ended up loving it and I thought the cha cha would be my dance but found it incredibly difficult, so it’s hard to say. The tango has probably been my favourite dance so far.

How are you finding the glitter and the sequin-tastic outfits? It’s a world away from your BBC Breakfast look…
The costumes are amazing! I love trying out new outfits - Vicky [Gill, Strictly’s head costume designer] is absolutely incredible and puts me in something different every week. 

What happens if you don’t like your costume?
Well there’s a fitting process a couple of months before the show starts, so that the wardrobe department can determine the colours and styles that suit the celebrity contestants. We’re also able to say what we’re ok with and what we’re not - for instance I don’t mind my back and legs being on show, but I’m not keen on revealing my cleavage - which means you pretty much get what you want. We try on the costumes every Friday and then if changes need to be made, there’s still time before the show on Saturday.

Who is the main competition?
I don’t think like that. My main competition is me. I compete again myself every week. I’m probably a lot harder on myself than I should be, but each week I want to be better than the last.

What’s it like working with Pasha?
Pasha is great. He’s very intuitive and quick to get my mood and how I am feeling each day and with the dance. And if I am not picking things up, he invents new ways of getting me to master the steps. Aside from being a wonderful, patient teacher, he’s just a lovely, lovely person.

Away from the dance floor, you’re a keen golfer [Naga has a handicap of 9 and, in 2013, was crowned the winner of Celebrity Mastermind on the subject of The Ryder Cup]. Are you suffering from golf withdrawal symptoms?
I’m still playing, but only on a Sunday afternoon, at Moor Park Golf Club. After I have finished presenting Sunday Morning Live, I’ll have some lunch and then get out on the golf course with friends. It’s how I reset - golf keeps me grounded. We’re in such a Strictly bubble, plus I am away from home in Manchester with the BBC Breakfast team for much of the week so golf, on a Sunday afternoon, is my way of de-stressing.

Strictly is your first taste of celebrity reality TV. Will we see you on I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! or Celebrity Big Brother in the future?
I can’t think beyond the next 10 weeks! But I wouldn’t think so. Strictly - not that I even think of it as a reality show - is the best one by far. It’s family entertainment that every generation can sit and watch together on a Saturday night. Plus people want you to do well. They want you to improve, and the comments from the public have been so kind and encouraging. I’m very happy.


Meet Naga Munchetty
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