Tess Daly reveals why she's so excited for Strictly this year – despite still missing the late Sir Bruce Forsyth.
Tess Daly is one of the most recognisable faces on the television as co-presenter of the nation’s favourite entertainment show, Strictly Come Dancing. The 16th series kicks off next month and Tess says she can’t wait.
She beamed as she told our sister site Woman’s Weekly: ‘I love Strictly. I always feel so grateful working on such a wonderful show. Every year I think, “Yay! Here we go again – this is fun!”’
She even confesses she would have loved to take part as a contestant – with Anton du Beke as her partner!
‘He’s got that wonderful sense of humour and you’ve got to laugh when you’re learning a new skill,’ she says, though she adds, ‘Whether or not I would have embarrassed myself remains to be seen!’
One thing Tess does miss on Strictly, however, is Sir Bruce Forsyth, who she presented the show with until 2015, as he sadly died in August 2017, aged 89.
Despite now presenting the show with her good friend Claudia Winkleman, Tess says: ‘I still miss Brucie terribly. Every time I saw him I would tell him I loved him and give him a hug.’
But before Strictly starts, Tess tells us that she is more than happy spending time with her husband, presenter Vernon Kay, and daughters Phoebe, 14, and Amber, 10.
She says: ‘I love my work and it defines who I am. But I get more pleasure out of being a mum than anything else in my life. I’m very motherly, it’s my favourite role. I’d describe myself as firm, kind and caring – hopefully! I had a very happy childhood myself and I know these formative years are so important.’
Tess tied the knot with Vernon 16 years ago, after meeting in 2001, and the couple play tag-team looking after their girls.
She says: ’Vernon has been travelling the globe the first six months of the year presenting Formula E Racing (electric racing).
‘Then he takes over in the autumn and winter. Parenting is a constant juggle.’ So what’s the secret to their long-lasting relationship? As long as you can still chat to each other across the dinner table and have lots to talk about, you’re winning,’ she says.
But she laughs as she tells us her girls also want to join her and Vernon for date nights. The presenter says: ‘We still have grown-up dinners where I put my high heels on, but my children are of an age where they want to come. They say, “Don’t leave us! We love sushi too!”’
As well as sushi, Tess is eager to introduce her daughters to the fun of horse racing. She is an ambassador for Great British Racing and is promoting their new Under 18s Race Free campaign.
‘It’s a wonderful initiative at race meetings up and down the country this summer, where you can take your children to the races and they don’t have to pay on entry,’ she explains. ‘It makes it a cheap day out for all the family compared with other live sporting events, which can be really expensive and put a lot of parents off.’
Tess celebrated her milestone 50th birthday in April, and on and off screen, she always exudes youthful and stylish glamour – whether she is pictured just out and about with her family, or dressed up and looking glamorous in the Royal Box at the Wimbledon tennis Championships with Vernon and famous companions.
Still looking young and fresh today, she confides that one of her beauty secrets is always keeping her face out of the sun.
‘One of my best friends is a dermatologist and 20 years ago she said the best advice she could give me was, ”Don’t let the sun damage your skin. It’s irreversible.”‘We went on a special family holiday to the Maldives for my birthday in April, and there I was in my sunhat! But it was paradise, we had the best time.’
So how does she feel about ageing?
She pauses: ‘I embrace growing older. I’m happy at 50 and there’s nothing to complain about, and I’m not going to start. Of course I look in the mirror and wish the wrinkles away but what are you going do? For me, it’s more about the bigger picture, about being healthy, and being able to look after your children. Enjoy life and just get on with it! I’m Northern, that’s what we do.’
Good on you, Tess!