I was already a great fan of Strictly before I started on the show. I loved watching the professional dancers, and how they got the best out of the contestants.
With Len, I bow down and say “I am not worthy”. He’s such a gentleman, and he makes my knees turn to jelly when he smiles at me.
At the beginning, everyone was critical – of everything I did! I knew the public would either totally hate me or love me, but I’ve been criticised throughout my career. That’s part of the game, so I knew it came with the territory.
And then there were the “yahs”! Weirdly, I didn’t even know that I said “yah” all the time. As the nerves went, the “yahs” went as well.
And then, of course, the producer was upset and wanted them to return!
I say to my kids, “It’s definitely all about hard work.” It might be only about ten per cent talent, but the rest is hard work. And if you want something enough, and you’re determined and slightly thick-skinned, it does help.
I found my thick skin, but I was pretty pathetic when I first started at the Royal Ballet School. I felt very sorry for myself when I first started.
A teacher actually suggested I give up. But I thought, “I have to prove her wrong.”
When I was performing, there were certain things I just couldn’t do. I couldn’t go out – I’d stay in to conserve my energy. On big tours, it was so tempting to go and sightsee, but luckily, I loved my job enough that it didn’t feel like I was missing out.
Through dancing I learned discipline, and that never goes away. But I have let my guard down and I can have a bit more fun than I used to. These days I drink more than I used to; I like Champagne and red wine.
Everyone thinks that we ballerinas don’t eat, but actually you have to eat incredibly well. Like a marathon runner, you burn off food very quickly.
I didn’t know instantly that Angus was The One – and nor did he! We met through friends at a drinks party. He works in the city, so he was often at work at 6.30am and I wasn’t waking up until nine, then I wouldn’t get home until midnight. It’s amazing it worked!
The secret to a successful long-term relationship is keeping busy. You both have to have the same feel for life – in our case, you go out and get it; you don’t hang around waiting for it.
My approach to ageing is to age gracefully and slowly. I think if you can keep it at bay as long as possible, that’s great.
The way you look after yourself is essential for your self-esteem. I just take that extra bit of time now, and I feel so much better for it. I love Sanctuary Spa Resurface & Refine Ultra Polish. The citrussy smell really wakes you up.
Botox terrifies me! I used to think “Why not?” but I have to say I’m really pleased I’ve never done it.
The best thing about this age is having a different kind of confidence. Everything is put into perspective when you have children. I’ve learned what is right for me and to go much more with my instincts.
This is an edited version of Darcey’s interview. To read the full article, pick up the September issue of woman&home, out now.