Strictly Come Dancing star Brendan Cole drew huge crowds as he turned on the Christmas lights at Springfields Outlet Shopping.
The fans’ favourite who’s been with the popular BBC series since the start was the special guest joining Heart FM in getting the festivities underway on Thursday October 27.
Brendan and his celebrity partner Anastacia sadly left the competition after being voted off in the Halloween weekend’s dance off with their jive, but of course he’ll still be featuring in the series in the pro dances.
Hundreds of people lined up in the shopping centre to meet the professional dancer who’d been recovering from a chest infection and had to miss a previous performance.
Despite feeling poorly Brendan was delighted to be there and was a real hit with the crowds who’d packed the outlet centre for the switch on.
ESP’s Sarah Tempest grabbed a quick word to find out how he was doing.
“I’m back on the mend, certainly better than I was,” he told ESP. “It’s been a tough week not being able to breathe properly and being away from the show but I’m back on the mend and it was just a bit of a chest infection.
“It was really frustrating watching the show from the sofa and just not being able to be there as part of the team. We’re a big group and we just want to be there supporting each other but I was sitting at home feeling a bit redundant so it was difficult but it was still nice to see the show as a whole, as a concept, rather than being in it, so it was quite nice to sit and watch it because I don’t usually watch it the next day or anything, I’m just in it.”
For that particular show new Spanish dancer Gorka filled Brendan’s dance shoes so was he a little peeved when the couple gained their highest dance score while he was absent?
“No! The exact opposite actually, I thought ‘wicked!’ they both did really good.”
Brendan’s time with Anastacia may now be over on the show but we asked what he hopes for in his celebrity partners each year and in general it appears he’s up for the fun of it more than just that coveted glitterball trophy.
“I’d rather have a celebrity partner that’s great fun but really rubbish than a boring partner who’s quite good any day of the week. Obviously it’s great to get a great dancer and hopefully make the final and do some good stuff but ultimately you want to have a good time, it’s too long a process not to.
“You’ve got four and a half months in the rehearsal room it’s really intense, up close and personal so if it’s not going well, it can be really tricky. Ideally somebody you really gel with is the best way.”
The lights switch on was a big success but the special events continue with the Springfields Music and Fireworks Show on Thursday November 3. It’s always impressive and this year will take you on a musical journey through the decades accompanied by a fantastic light show with the fireworks lighting up at 8pm and the shops open until 9pm.
Local heroes Children of the Revolution will get the night rocking from 6pm. Get your advance tickets for £6 adults, £4 children (under 1’s get in free) or on the night, £8 adults and £5 children.
The festive season officially gets started when the big guy in red arrives on Thursday December 1. Santa will arrive on the centre’s Land Train at 7pm and the Grotto will open for a limited number on the night once he’s there.
Now that Christmas shopping is also in full flow the centre’s not only a great place to meet Santa but to tick off a few things on your own Christmas list too. The outlet centre is packed with bargains and with names like NEXT, Fat Face, Gap, M&S, Game and the new Ernest Jones jewellers along with dozens of other stores you should be able to get your gifts at a great price leaving you more cash for the sales!
Late night shopping starts on Thursday November 10 and runs right through until Friday December 23 and during the week they’re open 10am – 9pm. For last minute shoppers your last chance to pop in is on Christmas Eve between 9am and 4pm.
If you join their VIP scheme there are special double discount VIP nights too so head to www.springfieldsshopping.co.uk
Read more of our interview with Brendan Cole in the December issue of ESP.
Photos: Chris Brudenell for ESP Magazine.