AFTER appearing in 15 series of Strictly Come Dancing, Brendan Cole was recently told his contract would not be renewed by the programme’s producers. The dancer, born in New Zealand, moved to the UK to further his training in his late teens before going on to make a career here. Cole tells EDWIN GILSON about his mixed feelings about leaving Strictly and how family is his priority

You’re doing a two-hour dance every night at the moment – isn’t it exhausting?

It’s a full-on schedule so it’s not easy but it’s the way we’ve always done it. It’s nice because every night feels different – we can muck around with the audiences a little bit.

The show promises to mix ballroom and Latin dance. Do these two styles go hand in hand?

They do but they also make for a varied evening. One minute you’re bouncing around on stage and the audience are clapping along and the next minute it’s intimate and you’re telling a beautiful love story. The audience go on an emotional journey – one minute they’re laughing, the next they’re crying.

You’ve been dancing since a very young age, right?

I’ve been a dancer since I was six or seven years old. You name it, I’ve done it, whether it’s sport, dance or whatever.

You were a manual labourer before you chose to study dance. Do you think you would still be doing that if you hadn’t made that decision?

I would have have just done whatever I was successful at. I started off roofing houses and then went into the building trade. I left school at 16 because I wanted to earn my own money and see what I could be successful at. One thing lead to another and I found myself chasing the dream of becoming a professional dancer. It’s weird how life takes you on certain journeys. Look at Strictly – it came along and all of a sudden my life was in a very different place to the year before.

I imagine there’s a lot of sacrifice involved in the life of a young dancer. But did your ambition keep you going?

It isn’t a sacrifice because you want it so much – that’s your purpose for being. Certainly back in the early days I had no cash flow at all. In fact I had a lot of debt when I became a professional dancer. When you’ve had a really hard road to it it’s very special. That’s pride. People have that drive whether they own a restaurant or are an accountant. That shines through.

Was there a point when you wondered if it was all worth it?

Oh, many times. There were many moments like that but it’s character-building. You have those moments of adversity when you think, “right, what am I going to do, go back or go forward?” I had the drive to think it would all work out. I guess successful people get over those obstacles.

How did you adapt to life in the UK after moving from New Zealand in your teens?

It’s a weird one because you’re 19 years old wanting to live the dream, and there were certainly moments when it’s not as nice as you would like. But I had a dream and made a decision to do something, and when I do that it will stick.

Was homesickness a factor?

Only briefly. That first year was quite tough because I was still quite young. At times I thought, “is this too hard”. But they were short-lived.

You revealed you were leaving Strictly just over a month ago. How do you feel about it now?

It’s a lot less raw now. It’s quite exhilarating, actually. There is a lot of opportunity out there. That part of my life was like a chapter but now that page has been turned. Obviously there was initial disappointment because I spent a lot of time and energy in the show and I was a big part of it for a very long time. To not be part of that any more is different but a month later I’m excited and optimistic. There are lots of offers coming through that I’d never have been able to entertain let alone accept if I was still on Strictly.

Life on Strictly must be pretty all-consuming. Is it difficult to look outside of the show when you’re filming?

Well, you can’t. You’re involved from the end of July until Christmas and you can’t work on any other jobs during that time. It’s all-consuming for that chunk of the year.

You said that you’d drive yourself crazy if you thought about the decision to cancel your contract too much. How do you avoid that?

There’s not much time to think about it as I’m in the middle of this tour. The focus is on that and making a production that is the best of all the Strictly shows.

There were some rumours that your assertive manner on the show caused the decision. How do you react to that?

I’m indifferent. They made the decision for whatever reason they did – I don’t tend to dwell on those things. It’s kind of irrelevant. It’s like my tour – if I make a decision it sticks. It’s the same with any TV show. You move on.

Will you keep watching Strictly?

Definitely. I’ve always maintained I love the show and am proud of my part of developing the show. I’ve got some great friends on there so I wish the show the very best. I have no ill-feelings.

Can you reveal what your future plans are?

I’ve still got a month on the road and will be developing the new show straight after that. I’ve also got a baby coming any day now, so there isn’t much time to focus on much else. I’m thinking about family at the moment.

Has your young daughter shown an interest in dance yet?

She certainly has but I want my kids to experience everything and make your own decisions. If she wants to dance I’ll encourage her but if she wants to play sport or be a writer she has my support too.

Brendan Cole: All Night Long
The Hawth, Crawley
Wednesday, March 14, 7.30pm