Aston Merrygold’s proud stepfather believes the Peterborough star can continue to shine after seeing him star on the Strictly dancefloor at the weekend.
The Peterborough pop star topped the judge’s scoreboard after the first week on the hit BBC1 show on Saturday - and Oz Merrygold said he was sure it was a sign of things to come.
Aston - who found fame as a member of boyband JLS - wowed the judges with his foxtrot, performed to ‘It Had To Be You’ by Harry Connick Jnr.
Oz, who was watching the foxtrot from the front row of the studio, said: “We were pleasantly surprised by what we saw. We were very nervous, especially as he was the last one to dance, so we all had a long wait. We had seen all the others, and they had done so well, and not made any mistakes. Aston is a very professional person, and has performed in front of big crowds before, so I think we were more nervous than him.”
Aston and partner Janette Manrara were labelled as ‘the one to watch’ by judge Craig Revel Horwood after they scored a total of 31 - but some viewers on social media claimed Aston had an unfair advantage over other competitors due to his performing background.
But Oz said: “There has been a bit of a frenzy on social media about him being a pro-dancer, but he has never had a lesson in his life. He is a self-taught street dancer, and has never danced with a partner is his life. This is a completely different discipline.
“But you can’t teach that ability to move to the beat - you either have it or you don’t. I think he is a natural. He is so good. He is a hard worker as well, and he has put in lots of hours to get to where he is.
“I think he has the ability to go a long way in the competition. Blackpool ( a special live show from the Blackpool Tower part way through the series) is a big milestone, and he certainly has the ability to get that far, and I am sure he can go further too.”
It is not the first time Aston has been the star attraction on Saturday night prime time TV, after being discovered on rival show The X-Factor in 2008.
Oz said: “It is very different to The X-Factor. The way the studio is managed in Strictly is so slick - it is incredible to see how the final version looks on TV after seeing it live.
“It is hard to believe The X-Factor was nine years ago now. We are very proud of what he has been able to do for the city. He is a great role model for youngsters, and has shown them you can achieve your dreams.”
Aston is not the first Peterborough star to don the sequins, and follows in the dancesteps of friend and gymnast Louis Smith, who won the competition in 2012.
Oz said: “I know Aston has spoken to Louis, who has given him some tips. If Aston can win, Peterborough could be the centre of the dancing universe!”