Former Strictly champion Camilla Dallerup on waltzing, Walton and weddings
A former Strictly Come Dancing champion, ballroom dancer Camilla Dallerup has barely stopped since leaving the hit TV show. Here, the Walton-on-Thames resident chats to Surrey Life’s Tracy Cook about what comes next career-wise, her wedding this summer to Hollyoaks actor Kevin Sacre and how she likes to relax when she’s back at home in Surrey
When I first set eyes on Camilla Dallerup, I’m blown away. She’s even more radiant, more blonde and, yes, even more slim in ‘real life’ than she looks on television.
A professional ballroom dancer, and a former winner of Strictly Come Dancing, she may not be in sequins and slinky dress today, but she still exudes that Saturday night glamour.
Dressed in a red, white and blue tunic, jauntily set off by a nautical style jacket and topped off with gold bangles and belt, she is all set to wow the crowds who have come to learn the cha-cha-cha at a masterclass she is hosting at Kingston’s Bentall Centre.
Within moments of meeting her beforehand, I start babbling about my 13-year-old daughter, a massive Strictly fan, who is distraught that she can’t be here today. But despite the fact that Camilla is about to go out and teach ballroom to literally hundreds of people, she is all brisk, kindly energy.
“Does she have a phone?” asks Camilla. “Well, let’s send a photo over to her. Why don’t we do a good luck photo with our thumbs up. Would she like that?”
Would she like that?! We pose arm in arm, me grinning like a Cheshire cat, and I text the photo over.
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Later, we talk over sandwiches ‘backstage’ at the Bentall Centre. Not quite the same as a Sunday roast perhaps, but Camilla, 36, is used to working weekends. However, at heart she’s a real homebody and confides that she has had to tear herself away from her place in Walton-on-Thames where she lives with her fianc�, the Hollyoaks actor Kevin Sacre.
“Funnily enough, my whole life I’ve worked weekends, when other people are off,” she says. “But luckily, because Kevin is an actor, we have similar schedules and he sometimes has time off in the week. We just have to grab that time together.
“I love it when, once in a while, we do get a weekend together, though, and we can just watch a movie, relax at home, catch up with friends... very casual. We go out a lot in our work lives, so I love just being at home, spending time with the dog and eating Kevin’s cooking. It’s so sad, isn’t it?” she laughs. There’s a lot of laughter when you’re talking to Camilla, I notice.
And if Kevin’s away, she is not one to cook. “I’m addicted to Carluccio’s, either in The Heart in Walton or I’ll go over to Esher. They all know which is my favourite pasta, because if Kevin’s away I get a takeaway. And I love Pizza Express and that new Japanese in Esher, Maru.”
Born in Denmark, Camilla has danced since the age of three and has had great success over the years at the Latin American with dance partner Ian Waite and previous partner and former fianc� Brendan Cole. She moved to England over ten years ago and has lived in Walton for the last two. It’s important to her that her home is near the River Thames where she walks their dog, an English bull terrier cross called Sven.
“It doesn’t matter what mood you’re in, if you go down by the river, it just makes you feel better,” she says. “I suppose because I grew up in a country surrounded by water, I just need to be by it.”
Now she and Kevin are busy house hunting. “We really want to stay in this area and we’ve been looking at places such as Weybridge and Cobham. My other half has got a place in Liverpool (where Hollyoaks is filmed) so we want to get somewhere together. It’s the next step really.”
Another big step is her wedding this July, after Kevin proposed on bended knee in Capri, Italy, last June. “I can’t wait!” she grins. “I’ve selected my wedding dress, and I’m really excited about it. My parents were with me when I chose it.” Sworn to secrecy by Hello! magazine, Camilla says she is getting married abroad.
“It’s a secret location. Even the guests don’t know where they’re going. There’ll be some of my colleagues and partners from Strictly and friends from Hollyoaks, too.
“The best thing about it is my engagement ring. There’s a perfect wedding band that goes with it – it comes as part of a pair! Little did Kevin know when he bought it from Tiffany’s!” she jokes.
Her wedding is just another in a whole line of big steps for Camilla since she made the difficult decision to leave Strictly Come Dancing. She took part in six series, getting to the semi-finals with chef James Martin and TV presenter Gethin Jones, before finally lifting the trophy glitter ball with former Holby City actor Tom Chambers in 2008. It was then she decided to leave the show and is keen to branch out in new directions.
“I felt ready to do the next journey in my life,” she says. “I’d watched six partners being challenged and I wanted to be challenged. And that’s what happened. I’ve done so many different jobs since I left!”
One of the most watched was I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! Camilla had to leave the jungle early on doctor’s advice due to exhaustion and severe weight loss.
“I’m not a quitter,” she says. “I really didn’t want to go, but I was losing too much weight, too quickly.
I just went into survivor mode. I didn’t care about the rats or the spiders, all I could think about was food. I was so hungry, I even considered eating leaves! I’d do it all again, though. I’d just smuggle protein bars in my knickers!”
Now Camilla can’t wait to do more television presenting. In January, with GMTV’s Dancing Queen Diet, she took viewers through daily dance routines. “Oh, that was my dream job! It was just amazing, because people you wouldn’t have thought would dance were trying it. I was on a train and the conductor said, ‘I was having trouble with those arms this morning!’” Later in the summer, she will be guest starring on BBC2’s Shooting Stars with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer.
She has also brought out a fitness DVD, Camilla’s Cardio-Dance Workout, and works hard to keep fit. She loves running and trains at Weybridge Health Club where she is also taking up tennis lessons. “I love it, but I’m absolutely hopeless, with the ball flying in all the wrong directions! I just really like trying new things at the moment.”
And in that spirit, Camilla will also be the guest of honour at Sandown Park Racecourse’s biggest social occasion of the year, Ladies Day, when she will be judging the best dressed ladies contest. Does she feel under pressure herself to look good all the time?
“I love to dress up in all the sequins and sparkles,” she says. “But day-to-day, I think you should just be who you are. Everybody’s seen me at my worst in the jungle – there’s no hiding now! Just as well, really, when I’m out in my wellies!
“It’s funny, sometimes when I go to Sainsbury’s in Walton, people say to me, ‘oh, you look just like that girl on television.’ And I’m like, well, actually, I am that girl on television!”
My Favourite Surrey...
Restaurant: My favourite Chinese is The Orient in Esher. I’ll drive all the way to Esher just to get my Chinese takeaway and then bring it home again! I love it.
Shop: I use The Heart in Walton a lot. One of my favourite stores at the minute is River Island and you’ve got Next there, too. And I love Kingston.
Place to visit: My favourite thing in summer is to go to Richmond Park and have a hot dog. It reminds me of home – back in Denmark they’re such a big thing. Then we just walk for a long time. My dog Sven loves it. He learned to swim there. One year, he wouldn’t get in, the next year he just jumped in the water. We were standing watching him like proud parents!
Place to chill: I really like the Weybridge Health Club. When I’m exhausted, there’s nothing better than a sauna and steam. It’s lovely there across the fields – you feel like you’re leaving the world behind.