By her own admission, Kaye Adams isn’t the most obvious person to join this year’s Strictly Come Dancing line-up.
The popular Loose Women presenter has spent her entire life avoiding dance floors, describes herself as “not good at the sexy stuff” and admits that the one and only time she took dance lessons she was asked to leave.
So, her decision to take part in this year’s contest is one that even she still can’t quite understand. “I don’t know what came over me, I really don’t!” Kaye laughs.
She continues: “I’ve never had it in my head to do Strictly. Not because I don’t like the programme – I love it. I’ve just always seen it as something I couldn’t do.
“I’ve always been the person sitting at the side of the dance floor nursing my drink, looking at other people dancing and thinking it looks wonderful to be able to let go like that and enjoy music. But I can’t do that.
“I never even did dance lessons as a child. When I was five the ballet teacher very diplomatically asked my mum to take me away; she called me Kipper Feet. I’ve never forgotten it. Even at five, I got the vibe that I wasn’t going to be Margot Fonteyn!”
Strictly is famous for its sequins, sparkles and short dresses, and while there are fun dances aplenty – including the Charleston and the Jive – Kaye admits that one of the hardest parts of the show will be unleashing her sultry side in the more passionate numbers.
“I’m really not good at all the sexy stuff,” she says frankly. “I’m pretty good at performance if it’s jokey because I’m a bit of a show-off. I’ve done some ridiculous things on Loose Women – I’ve laid half-naked in a bed of cabbage and I can’t even remember why!
“But I would not be able to transport myself to an Argentinian bordello to do the Tango. I’m going to need a sequinned balaclava! I’ll try my best, but I don’t know how I’m going to do it, these things are pretty hard-wired in by the time you get to my age.”
At 59, Kaye is the oldest contestant in this year’s line-up. In the past, that has often meant a pairing with veteran professional Anton Du Beke, but now he’s on the judging panel Kaye has no idea who she might be teamed with.
“Good old Anton, come back!” she jokes. “But seriously, I will be happy with whoever I’m paired with, I just hope that they’re patient.
“I appreciate that they really want to strut their stuff and push the boundaries and that it will be difficult for them if they get somebody like me, who is starting dancing straight out of the freezer, not even defrosted!”
Despite having many close friends on the show, in true Strictly fashion, Kaye kept the news secret from them, only confiding in her tennis coach partner Ian and their two daughters Charley, 20 and Bonnie, 15.
Not surprisingly her colleagues were shocked when they learnt that she was taking part. “They were absolutely aghast!” Kaye smiles. “Lots of them have known me for 20 years and they said I was the last person they ever thought would do it.
“A few of them have done it and a few others would like to, but nobody expected that I would. I’ve always stayed away from the dance floor, but with a sneaking yearning to be able to do it.
“I’ve spoken to Judi Love who took part last year and Sunetra [Sarker] and Frankie [Bridge] who’ve both done it and they all said the same thing – try to enjoy it.
“But they said that is actually much harder than it sounds. Certainly, for me personally, that is what I’ve got to aim for – to get some joy from dancing. So, if I do manage to enjoy it, then that will be job done for me.”
Kaye has been preparing by watching YouTube videos and dancing in her kitchen, but she says she hasn’t roped in Ian to help her, even though he’s a better dancer than she is.
“He’s a very good tennis player, but he’s never taught me tennis, because he annoys me too much and I think it would be the same with dancing. I don’t need to have it rubbed in my face by him!” she laughs.
Kaye’s TV career began as graduate trainee at Central Television, where she concentrated on politics and news. Then at 26 she landed a role on the nightly TV news programme Scotland Today.
Since then, she has worked on countless shows, from This Morning to Have I Got News For You. But it is Loose Women – the show she joined at its launch in 1999 – for which she’s best known.
“I enjoy the camaraderie,” Kaye explains. “I always find people who interest me, people who make me laugh and people who I can sit down and have a heart to heart with.
“Some of them live lives that I don’t lead and have experiences that I haven’t, but I find that endlessly fascinating. I’ve been there 22 years. If I didn’t like it, I’d have walked away years ago and once you get past a certain point it becomes part of what you are.”
There are regularly rumours of backstage bust-ups among the presenters, but Kaye insists that any fallouts are quickly resolved. “The outside world always wants to know about the arguments and whether we all get on, but we’re
all realistic about it and I think we deal with our disagreements really well,” she says.
Kaye adds: “We’re a big group of strong women and there will be stronger relationships between one group and another and one individual and another, but that’s just life.
“There are times one person doesn’t agree with someone and it can get a bit tetchy, but they go away, simmer down, come back and we forget about it.”
Away from Loose Women, Kaye has her own show on BBC Radio Scotland and she recently launched the podcast How To Be 60, which she’ll be performing live at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Kaye started it to confront her fears of turning 60 later this year, after decades of trying to hide her age from friends, colleagues and even at one point her daughter.
“Parents always lie to their children and when Charley was younger, I told her that her dad – my partner Ian – was 10 years my senior, when actually we were both born in 1962,” Kaye says. “Now I think it was pathetic, but at the time I did it without thinking.
“My age is something I’ve got my knickers in a twist about all my life. I celebrated my 30th birthday with friends, but somehow, I felt as though I’d peaked. After that I stopped marking it and when Ian organised a surprise party at our house for my 50th I had to paint on a smile.”
Kaye, who lives in Glasgow, believes she inherited her age phobia from her mum, who always refused to reveal her date of birth, even getting into trouble with the law over her secrecy.
“She got stopped by the police for speeding once. I was seven and in the back of the car with my brother,” Kaye recalls.
“We actually got taken to the police station because she wouldn’t tell the officer her date of birth! My dad had to go down to the station and quietly reveal it to the desk sergeant!”
When her partner Ian was relaxed about his own 60th earlier this year, Kaye thought it was time she confronted her fears and How To Be 60 was born.
“I’ve definitely shifted my views on ageing and the podcast has been instrumental in making me accept it,” Kaye explains. “If I hadn’t embarked on the podcast then I definitely wouldn’t have accepted Strictly.
“Previously I was stuck in a mindset that getting older was rubbish. But on the podcast, interviewing so many people with different perspectives on ageing has really made me reflect.
“I decided that I wanted to make the last year of my fifties memorable and there’s no better way to do that than joining Strictly Come Dancing.
“I now think it’s far healthier to embrace growing old than denying my years. We don’t know how long we’ve got, so we’ve got to grab life while we can.”
Not that Kaye is completely cured yet… She says: “A nice older man came up to me in the street the other day and he said, ‘Oh, you don’t look 60!’ He was lovely and I smiled, but there was a little bit of me that thought, ‘Oh, keep your voice down!’ It’s clearly a work in progress!”
Kaye Adams – How to be 60: Live! is at the Edinburgh Fringe this week on 23 and 24 August. Find Tickets at edfringe.com. The How To Be 60 with Kaye Adams podcast is available now.
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