When the BBC unveils its Strictly Come Dancing line-up each year, celebrities are at pains to say any previous dance experience is irrelevant.
But Emma Barton, an EastEnders actress who was unveiled on Wednesday as one of the 2019 contestants, has already admitted to an unfair advantage.
She previously starred as Roxie Hart in a UK tour of the musical Chicago. And when she was asked during that run whether she would ever appear on Strictly, she said: “I might consider doing it, though after all this time dancing in Chicago, maybe it wouldn’t be fair.
“I would feel a bit like I shouldn’t take part because I have too much experience.”
Barton appeared in the musical in 2009, performing the routines nightly. It was one of more than a dozen stage productions she appeared in – she also played Lily in Annie and Marty in Grease.
At that point she had already been approached at least once by Strictly producers “but nothing came of it”.
The unearthed interview, given to the Birmingham Mail while she promoted Chicago, may prove embarrassing to the BBC, which released new quotes from Barton in which she described herself as “very much a dance around your handbag kinda girl”.
Barton is best known for playing Honey Mitchell in EastEnders, and professes to be “one of the biggest Strictly fans on the planet”. She said: “I’ve been given this wonderful opportunity to learn all the different styles of dancing from the very best in the business.
“So I’m whipping off Honey’s ‘Minute Mart’ tabard and diving right in to all the glitter and sparkle. From Albert Square to the Strictly dancefloor – I just can’t wait.”
Barton is one of three celebrities confirmed for this year’s line-up on the BBC One show.
David James, the former England goalkeeper, follows footballers Peter Shilton, John Barnes, Peter Schmeichel and Robbie Savage.
Only two sportsmen have taken home the Strictly glitterball and both were cricketers: Darren Gough and Mark Ramphrakash.
James said: “I’m really excited to be on Strictly this year – not just competing against this year’s stars, but being compared to previous sports stars from previously Strictly seasons. I have some big shoes to fill.”
The third name to be released was Chris Ramsey, a stand-up comedian, who said he is “both excited and absolutely terrified to be doing the show”.
The 17th series of Strictly returns in the autumn on Saturday and Sunday nights.