Michelle Visage has revealed that she repeatedly turned down Strictly Come Dancing’s US spin-off because she was obsessed with getting on the British version of the show, which returns to television tonight.
The RuPaul’s Drag Race judge said that she had been offered a slot on Dancing With The Stars but that she had held out for Strictly because it was “more true” to the spirit of ballroom.
Visage is one of 15 new celebrities set to debut on the dance floor this Saturday when the show’s pre-recorded launch airs on BBC One.
Among them will be Made In Chelsea star Jamie Laing who on Thursday announced that he was pulling out of the show after injuring himself during the recording.
Visage, 50, is no stranger to the stage, having previously been in the New York pop band Seduction.
She told the PA news agency: “This is the first time I’ve been asked to do Strictly. I’ve been asked to do Dancing With The Stars but I kept saying no, hoping for Strictly to come through.
“It’s more true to what ballroom really is, and I’ve been obsessed with ballroom for years – just watching it, never taking it, never trying it.
“I’ve watched it, I’ve had friends that did Dancing With The Stars so I got into it, and it’s just more of what I think it is.
“I don’t like the freedoms and the craziness. I like the technique.”
Visage said she was most excited to try Latin ballroom but admitted that she had already fallen behind in her training regime.
“They’ve had two weeks – I’ve had an hour,” she said of her co-stars such as double Olympic gold medallist rower James Cracknell and former Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley.
“So we’ll see how that goes. I was in America. I was here the first day when we were in a room and I didn’t even do the choreography that day.
“The only thing I did that day was the waltz, because I left, I had to catch a flight. I was filming a documentary back home, so that had been planned for a year.
“When I got the call for this, it was like ‘I have to do that’, so that’s why I had to miss the red carpet.
“So I had an hour last night after I got off the plane, that’s all.”
Visage also revealed that TV star and drag queen RuPaul had been surprised by her decision to sign up for the BBC One flagship show.
She said: “He was like: ‘Why do you want to work that hard?’
“And I was like: ‘I’ve got a new body, I’m 50, I want to show my kids that nothing should stop you.’
“You know? If you want to do something, meet your challenge and do it.”
Motsi Mabuse, the sister of Strictly pro Oti, will replace Dame Darcey Bussell on the judging panel this series.
The South African dancer, 38, has appeared on Let’s Dance, the German version of Strictly since 2011.
The BBC has not yet said whether it plans to replace Laing on the show.
Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One on Saturday September 7 at 7.10pm.
The live episodes, which mark the start of the competition in earnest, will begin on BBC One on September 21.