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Local war veteran, Cassidy Little, chats to ESP’s Mikey Clarke  about winning the first ever People’s Strictly dance competition…

Peterborough has proven time and time again that it has talent. The latest star to emerge onto our televisions is Cassidy Little from Market Deeping, who not only took part in BBC One’s The People’s Strictly for Comic Relief… he won it!

During our exclusive chat, I asked Cassidy to explain what made this show different from the standard Strictly Come Dancing format. “The People’s Strictly is an evolution of the show we all know, raising money for Comic Relief,” he said. “Instead of using celebrities, they decided to use six normal, everyday people from the public. We got paired up with professional dancers before dancing to the nation.”

The four-part series – which aired on BBC One in the lead-up to Comic Relief – featured the moment that Cassidy discovered he was going to be a contestant. For those that didn’t see the show, he explained, “They surprised me. They jumped me! I was on Nelson’s old ship – the HMS Victory – doing a report for BFBS and Forces TV. Things weren’t quite adding up. I noticed the show’s producer had turned up in a smoking hot dress… and my wife was there. The moment was like when someone organises a surprise party for you – where you get the feeling something is going on but you’re not sure what. Then, the Royal Marines Marching Band – the best band in the world – came out of the ship alongside a load of dancers and cameras. It wasn’t until I saw Kimberley Walsh and Brendan Cole that I figured out it was Strictly related.”

For those who aren’t familiar with Cassidy Little, he was serving in Afghanistan as a medic for the Royal Marines when he was severely injured, losing the lower half of his leg in an explosion. With that in mind, it must have been a difficult decision to enter the show? “You assume that you can’t do things because you have a prosthetic,” he said. “It’s not that you can’t, but you’ve almost defeated yourself because you’ve said ‘I have a prosthetic and it’s going to be different for me’. And this goes through the minds of all amputees every day with everything they do. The challenge is to shatter that and just break straight through it. I’m a Royal Marine and I will always finish the race! I may not come first. I may come last. But I’ll always finish. The problem I had with Strictly is that I wasn’t even sure I could start the race.”

We’ve all watched Strictly and wished we were a contestant, right? I wondered what it was like for someone from the public entering the popular competition. “Being on the show was amazing,” Cassidy said. “But, it was slightly ruined by my nerves. We all did two dances – the group dance where we all dance together, and the individual dance where it’s just us and our partners. The group dance was fine and I wasn’t nervous – you’re just dancing with your friends and having a good time. During that dance it didn’t matter if you accidentally stepped left or right when you weren’t supposed to. The nerves before the individual dance were just horrible.”

Peterborough is now the proud home of TWO strictly champions. With Louis Smith being a celebrity mentor for The People’s Strictly, Cassidy had the pleasure of speaking to him. “Louis is simply a legend,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if we’d have much to talk about. He’s this big Olympic figure and the poster boy for all things awesome in the UK. It turns out we got along really well.” Describing his own celeb mentor, Kimberly Walsh, he told me, “Kimberly is an amazing human being. I don’t know why but I expected her to be a little false. I thought she’d be this big showbiz character – but I was so wrong. She’s so down to earth and I pray that I get to work with her again in the future.”

As we all know, a big part of Strictly is the sequins – something that the lads down the pub would surely tease him for? “At the start of it, the guys down the pub were like, ‘You’re going to be bright orange’ and the Royal Marines said, ‘Ah man, we’re going to have to see you on the tele again!?’ But, when I went out and did my dance, that all stopped immediately. My dance partner, Natalie Lowe, and I got four tens – which we worked really, really hard for.”

The Strictly winner had a lot more to say during his time at the ESP office. Read more on him in April’s edition of the mag – and see this interview in full by watching the video below.

Photos: Andy Vernum @ Studio One for ESP Magazine and BBC.

Video: Mitchell Brewster Media for ESP Magazine


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