Brendan Cole on his Licence To Thrill Tour, dancing and his guilty pleasure

PUBLISHED: 15:40 14 February 2014 | UPDATED: 15:40 14 February 2014

Brendan Cole

Brendan Cole


His Licence To Thrill tour came to Eastbourne last month as part of its 48 date UK-wide tour. While in Sussex, Brendan caught up with us to talk dancing, detail and...dinner mints

“I live in the now, and I never look back.” To say that Brendan Cole is an optimist is almost to understate the point. He is quick to name this tour as one of the highlights of his career to date, alongside his BBC appearances on Strictly Come Dancing, which he describes as “a high-pressure whirlwind,” but is reluctant to be drawn into any talk of regrets or low points. “They’re in the past, and that’s where they’ll stay. Hopefully none of them will ever need to be revisited.”

His focus instead is very much on the brighter side of life, and indeed to talk to him is an incredibly cheerful experience. I ask him what really makes him laugh – and on cue, he laughs. “Everything! Every day – I am a pretty happy chappy.” When he stops chuckling for a moment and tries to really think about it, he decides that the root of his sunny disposition is his one-year-old daughter, Aurelia. “When she laughs, I laugh – her giggles are contagious. She makes me so happy.”

When he first started out as a dancer, which he says his mother “forced” him into: “oh yes, it was very much against my will – what young boy wants to be a ballroom dancer? Actually I suppose quite a few now, as it’s so much cooler than it was, but in those days – no!” He admits though that he’s now very grateful that she did: “it’s my life, and I love it, but in the early days it wasn’t so easy.”

Somewhat reluctantly, Brendan talks about the time that he spent trying to make it as a professional dancer, almost visibly shuddering at the thought of some of the really hard moments. “I had a hideous job dancing in the street in Hackney, to try and make people want to come into a shop to rent a TV. It was embarrassing and it was incredibly cold, but when you want something badly enough, you will literally do anything to get there.”

Now that he is there, Brendan says he is “loving life”, and by his own admission has no dreams or ambitions that he has yet to fulfil. “I honestly have everything that I ever dreamed of. My dreams are being realised. I am so lucky, and I couldn’t ask for anything more from life.”

When not dancing, he’s a huge rugby fan, and loves spending time with his daughter. “Your dreams change. And that’s the only dream I have left really, to give everything to her and my wife, Zoe. And to keep getting better”

His current show, Licence to Thrill, is what he describes as “a real career high”. His excitement about it is palpable, “there is a cast of 20 that I’m responsible for – I choreographed it with their help, there’s an amazing live band, and I am so proud of it.” But right up to the first date of the tour, he admits that they were still putting pieces of it together. “Oh God yes, every spare moment is still taken up with tweaking it and making it better, always.”

So much so, that he admits he doesn’t really get any time to see each county in between shows. “But you do get a real feel for the local people, and you get to meet a few of them at the stage door, or during the question and answer section of the show. You definitely get a sense of what they’re like.” He starts chuckling to himself again, and can’t resist adding that, “they’re much more raunchy up north than down here in the south!”

On the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing, Brendan has a reputation for being a perfectionist when it comes to his dancing. “It’s both my biggest downfall, and what makes me a good dancer,” he says. “I am meticulous about every little detail in everything that I do. And, to be honest, I spend too much time dwelling on things that I simply cannot change, often things that don’t even really matter.”

He says that the two areas where he has no control are the partnering: “but I was incredibly lucky in the last series. Sophie (Ellis-Bextor), was literally my perfect partner.” And the judging: “I never dance for them. I dance for the audience, for my partner, and for me – that’s all I can do.”

So does he ever let loose, release control and totally let go? He seems perplexed at the very thought, and has to really try and think of an occasion when this might have happened. He draws a blank. “But my greatest guilty pleasure is After Eight dinner mints….does that count?!” – Not really, comes my response, but for a man whose job it is to be in control, look immaculate, and of course to lead, I point out that it really isn’t the worst fault in the world. And he certainly seems to have done alright for himself so far…

For fans who fear they might have missed out, and would still like to catch Brendan in action, the Licence To Thrill tour will be at the Portsmouth Guildhall on 20 February and Poole Lighthouse on 8 March. For more information or to buy tickets, go to

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