First Dates host Fred Sirieix is hopeful his beloved daughter will cheer him on in the upcoming Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special
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First Dates star Fred Sirieix cheered on his daughter in the Olympics this summer – and now he hopes she will do the same for him when he takes part in the upcoming Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special.
The French restaurant manager says Team GB diver Andrea has inspired him to take part in the show and has been supporting him through the gruelling training regime.
Fred, 49, reveals: “When I started rehearsals I was joking that this was like I was representing France at the Olympics. I have been showing Andrea the dances since the first day of the rehearsals and she said to me, ‘Dad, you just have to focus’, which was her main advice.
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“She has been very supportive, she has seen my improvements and has been very encouraging.”
Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix, 17, finished in seventh place in the women’s 10m platform diving final at the 2020 Tokyo Games, held this year due to Covid, though Fred had to support her from home as restrictions prevented him travelling to Japan.
He says: “I remember watching her on television and seeing her on the 10m platform with the whole world watching her and thinking about the positive mental attitude that you’ve got to have to be able to do that.
“When I was getting ready for Strictly I was thinking about her and her confidence, because she’s been there and she’s done it, and now I have to do it and perform something very hard for a big audience.”
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Fred has been partnered with professional dancer Dianne Buswell for the Strictly special, on BBC1 on Christmas Day.
The pair are due to perform a quickstep to the Shakin’ Stevens festive classic Merry Christmas Everyone – and the three weeks of gruelling rehearsals have taken their toll on Fred’s body.
He says: “The first day we danced together, my feet ended up bleeding.
“I came back home from the rehearsal and I was violently vomiting because it was so hardcore. I’ve also lost 3kg [half a stone].
“Because Dianne and I had some days where we were busy with other work, we had to practise from 8pm until 11 o’clock at night.” But despite the toll it took on him he persevered.
He says: “Even though it was tough, I knew that to do well on the show you have to put in the hours. I didn’t take part in the Christmas special just to do a dance – I did it to win.”
Stars up against Fred on the dancefloor will be Jay Blades of BBC1’s The Repair Shop, TV presenters Mel Giedroyc and Adrian Chiles, newsreader Moira Stuart and singer Anne-Marie.
Brought up in Lim-oges, central France, Fred started off his career in the restaurant industry. He shot to fame in 2013 when he was chosen as the maitre d’ who was on hand to greet potential lovebirds appearing on Channel 4 ’s First Dates.
Since then he has been on BBC2’s My Million Pound Menu and C4’s Snackmasters, and has travelled through Europe with close pals Gino D’Acampo and Gordon Ramsay for ITV ’s Gordon, Gino and Fred: Road Trip. And Fred says that Gordon, whose daughter Tilly came sixth in this year’s Strictly, has joined Andrea in being there for him through his punishing rehearsals.
“Gordon sent me some good luck messages,” says Fred, who got engaged to the girlfriend he calls Fruitcake last year.
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He insists he did not get any insider help from 20-year-old Tilly, saying: “Tilly didn’t give me any tips, but I was very impressed with what she did on the show because she reached the later stages of the competition.
“I really love Tilly, she’s a lovely young girl and very down-to-earth and she did so well.”
Fred will be following a typically foodie festive theme with his Strictly performance.
He says: “Dianne wanted me to be a turkey during the dance. I was initially concerned it may hinder me from dancing, but it worked out quite well in the end.”
*The Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special is showing on BBC1 on Christmas Day at 7.10pm