The man who partnered Stacey Dooley to victory on Strictly in 2018 (and who now partners her in real life), Kevin talks parenthood, showbiz and why he couldn’t say no to the chance to star this year’s Marlowe Theatre panto, Aladdin

Kevin – it’s been quite a year! How’s the family? How are you and Stacey finding parenthood?

Minnie is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to us. We’re at the stage where she’s just started crawling and she’s such a little smiler. It’s also terrifying and exhausting at the same time. It’s made me appreciate mums a whole lot more because Stacey is amazing. She’s the best mum. She basically hasn’t slept since January but she’s an absolute machine and me and Minnie are lucky to have her.

You stepped away from Strictly to pursue other projects and you’ve certainly been busy since then! What have been some of your recent highlights?

Yeah I’d done a west end musical before I was on Strictly and it was always my intention to return to theatre at some point. Since leaving I’ve been lucky enough to have done another five musicals: Rock of Ages, The Wedding Singer, Singin In The Rain, The War of the Worlds and Strictly Ballroom. Playing Cosmo in Singing In the Rain and playing Scott Hastings in Strictly Ballroom were parts I’d dreamed of playing since I was a kid.

We of course know you’re a brilliant dancer and an accomplished actor, but we noticed that the Guardian review of your performance in Singing in the Rain praised your ‘lovely voice’. Have you had lessons in the past?

I’ve been singing for quite a while, at first learning from Broadway and West End friends of mine and then getting a full time singing coach. It’s something people never really knew because for seven years everything was all dancing because of Strictly. I’ll definitely be singing in the panto.

Aladdin at The Marlowe's your first panto isn't it?

Yes! It feels mad that I’ve never done a panto before . My sister Joanne has done a few, so when I was asked if wanted to do one I called her. When I told her who it was with and that it was the Canterbury panto she said I had to do it, it was a no brainer because it had a reputation of being one of the best in the country. I can’t wait!

How are you feeling about basing yourself in Canterbury over Christmas? Will the family be near by?

Stacey and Minnie are going to come down with me and we are going to stay together not too far from Canterbury for the Christmas period so we don’t have to be away from each other. I’ve played The Marlowe a few times with different shows and I love it and the area around it, although there isn’t usually much time to explore. I’m looking forward to getting to know the area better and I can imagine it’s beautiful at Christmas.

What’s on the cards for you for 2024? Will we be seeing you back on the dance floor?

In 2024 I’m doing another musical, ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’, which I’m really looking forward to. As an actor it’s always exciting playing characters that are completely different to myself or anything I’ve played before. In this I’ll be playing an older drag queen. Stacey is ecstatic about this!

Dancing-wise I’m not sure. Acting, singing and writing has kind of taken over now but never say never.

Finally, thoughts re this year’s Strictly contestants and whose chances you rate? (We’re big fans here on Kent Life of Annabel Croft, as she was born and bred in the county)

I think Annabel is a lot better than people expected her to be . She’s really surprised me. I’m also a big fan of Ellie and Vito - I love watching them. Bobby and Dianne bring a lot of joy to their dancing. It will be interesting to see who improves as we get to there latter stages of the competition but I’m loving this series already.

Kevin Clifton stars in Aladdin at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, Fri Nov 24 to Sun Jan 7 2024,