Strictly’s Sawtry star Lauren Steadman is ready to Samba her way through the semi finals of the hit BBC show this weekend.
World champion para-triathlete Lauren and her partner AJ Pritchard are down to the last five couples in the battle for the famous Glitterball Trophy, and will dance for their place in the final this weekend.
While she has propped up the leaderboard for the last two weeks, the Peterborough star has thrilled the public, who have been voting in their droves to keep her in the show.
Speaking to The Peterborough Telegraph during a break in rehersals, Lauren said: “I am overwhelmed by what has happened. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get this far. It has been amazing.
“It is fantastic that the public are enjoying our journey, and want to see the progress we are making.”
For the semi final, each of the remaining couples will have to take on two dances - with Lauren and AJ performing a Tango to ‘Nutbush City Limits’ by Tina Turner and a Samba to ‘Rock The Boat’ by The Hues Corporation.
Lauren said she preferred ballroom dances over Latin routines, naming last week’s American Smooth as her favourite dance of the season - the dance which also saw her post her highest score yet.
But the pair are not resting on their laurels, and AJ said: “We are working harder than ever this week. We start at 8.30am and finish at 10pm.
“It is refreshing to have two different dances to work on though.”
Lauren had no previous dance experience, and while learning the steps of all the routines she has had to master has proved a challenge, she said she was also having to learn how to perform in a TV studio.
She said; “Learning to perform in front of a camera has been a real challenge - finding the red lights on the cameras and things like that.
“Some of the comments from the judges can be bit disheartening as well - but I do like constructive criticism.”
AJ said he had faced another challenge, choreographing routines around Lauren’s disability.
Lauren was born missing part of her right arm, and AJ said: “It has been great working with Lauren. I had never worked with a Paralympian before, and it has given me the chance to be creative with my choreography.”
Both Lauren and AJ - who has been knocked out of Strictly at the semi-final stage in the two series he has performed on - thanked the public for backing them as they progressed through the competition - and they have a dedicated group of fans at Great Gidding Primary School - where Lauren went as a child.
Staff, pupils and their families have been voting to keep Lauren in the competition, as well as writing messages of support to her.
Emma Penniall, teacher and PE coordinator said; “The whole school is behind her. We sent her a book of pictures and messages to support then, and they sent back a signed picture - and we got a letter from Lauren’s mum thanking us for our support.
“Now she is in the semi final, the children have sent more messages - we are all so proud of her. She is a real inspiration to everyone here.”
The Strictly Come Dancing semi final will be shown on BBC1 on Saturday at 6.35pm, with the results broadcast on BBC1 on Sunday at 7.15pm.