Strictly's Angela Rippon reveals how dance helped her through the 'terrors' of 'isolation and loneliness' faced by 'older people'

"You're never going to be lonely when you go to a dance class"

Angela Rippon
(Image credit: BBC/Kieron McCarron)

Ahead of Strictly Come Dancing's 2023 return, 79-year-old contestant Angela Rippon has revealed how dance has helped her through the feelings of 'isolation and loneliness' that so many 'older people' face on a daily basis.

The time is nearly here, Strictly Come Dancing is coming back to our living rooms for its hotly-anticipated 2023 run. Hitting screens once again on Saturday 16 September, many are already speculating about who may fall victim to the iconic curse this year while others are putting the finishing touches on the parties they have planned for the big occasion.

But while viewers can't wait, we're sure that some of this year's contestants are starting to get a bit worried. One of those, who has now admitted she is wondering 'what the hell' she was thinking by agreeing to appear on the show, is 79-year-old journalist and television presenter Angela Rippon.

Speaking about what swayed her decision to join this year's Strictly Come Dancing line up, she revealed, "It was a combination of things really... I’ve been involved in dance for a lot of my career, I’m not a dancer but have been associated with it in one way or another. I'm now an ambassador for the Royal Academy of Dance’s Silver Swan programme, which aims to get older people back into dance.

Angela Rippon

(Image credit: BBC/Kieron McCarron)

"When I did a series called How To Stay Young they did proper scientific based research that found that dance was the best exercise for 50-60 year olds, it’s perfect for all-round mind and body exercise to keep you strong and supple. It's good for balance, stimulates your brain and social activity- it’s a package!"

For Angela, dance is more than just a reason to get out of the house and move your body. She believes it's the perfect way to beat, what she called, the 'two terrors of old age.'

She said, "For older people, dance beats those two terrors of old age – isolation and loneliness. You're never going to be lonely when you go to a dance class."

"I love dance and I’ve been promoting dance as a way of keeping strong, fit and agile and balanced, so I suppose I wanted to do the show because of that and to prove that dance can help you, in so many ways, no matter what your age."

Strictly Come Dancing contestants 2023

(Image credit: BBC Studios/Ray Burmiston)

Still, that does not mean that Angela isn't worried about her time on the show. At nearly 79-years-old, she personally thinks it's 'bonkers' that she has decided to join the lineup. 

"When my agent rang me and said ‘Angela, they want you to do Strictly’ the first thing out of my mouth was ‘why didn’t they ask me ten years ago?!’," she said. "I shall be 79 years old in October and it’s bonkers really that I’m doing this. I took a long time to decide if I wanted to do it... my brain says body says ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’!"

But the reaction to her spot on the show is spurring her on and she is determined to use her time on Strictly to get 'people of a certain age' back into the spotlight when they've been 'invisible' for so long. 

She shared, "When it was announced I was doing it I had so many people online saying ‘Cheers for 70-year-old dancers!’ I was in the grocery store the other day and the lady next in line, who was of a certain age, tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘can I just say that I and my friends are thrilled you’re going to Strictly... sometimes I feel people of a certain age become invisible and you’re going to make a few headlines for us.’"

"So I’m doing this because, if I can last a few weeks and demonstrate that it is possible in your 70s..that you can do something that keeps you fit and strong and agile, that will be brilliant."

"This is a very public way to put my money where my mouth is, but it will be a challenge!" We wish her all the luck in the world! 

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Freelance news writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with Good To, BBC Good Food and The Independent.