He might have been kicked out of Strictly Come Dancing a lot earlier than he thought he would be, but Peterborough’s Aston Merrygold is enjoying his latest opportunity to show the public he should have survived .
The former JLS star says that stepping out onto the dancefloor again is unfinished business in Rip It Up, a celebration of the 1960s, which opened last month and comes to the Royal and Derngate, Northampton, on October 10 (writes Steve Mills).
He stars alongside Strictly winners Harry Judd and Peterborough pal, Olympic gymnast Louis Smith.
Backed by the exceptional Rip It Up live band (guitarist Lewis Hall provides another Peterborough link) and a supporting cast of singers and dancers, the Strictly champions dance to songs from British legends to American superstars, soul classics and Motown legends and celebrate some of the most iconic sounds, sights and events of the decade.
Aston said: “It’s unfinished business. That’s the best way to put it. My run on Strictly felt like it was cut a bit too short for myself, just because there were certain things I expected from myself and wanted to achieve. I also wanted to try and learn. This way I get the best of both. With Rip It Up I get to perform every single night, and I only have to do one lot of rehearsals and wrack my brain a little bit.
“It was the team around the show and the performers that appealed. I had to jump at the chance because I think it looks like more fun than other, regular shows.
“I have known Harry from within the music industry and I have known Louis since before I can remember. Our parents went to school together, so it is just funny that we are now doing a show together.”
It might surprise people to hear what Aston thinks will be the biggest challenge.
He said: “I think it will probably be the fact that it is a dance show and that everyone presumes that I am a trained dancer and that I can dance, when I am as rough around the edges as anyone else out there.
“I’ve never had any formal kind of training. Strictly was my first ever sample of training. People get training and experience mixed up. No one has told me ‘this is right’ and ‘this is wrong’. Before, I just got up on stage and did it.”
He also praised another musician for helping him at the start of his career.
Aston said: “I think the best advice we were ever given was from Seal. He sat myself and the JLS boys down and he said, ‘No matter what you do, just enjoy it. Take a minute, sit back, look around and enjoy.’ I think this industry - and especially this generation - is always so busy flying around that we don’t do that.
“Too many people stress about one thing that won’t matter in an hour, and don’t stop to look around them and enjoy the moment. Seal just said, ‘Sit back and enjoy the ride. You only get one go at it.’ And that’s always stuck.”