Strictly Come Dancing star Danny John-Jules blasts wannabes and says they aren't proper stars like Norman Wisdom — and that 'he only signed up for the Strictly curse'
Newer “stars” such as online BBC3 host Stacey Dooley and YouTuber Joe Sugg made the 2018 line-up the most Z-list in its 14-year history.
Now, in a no-holds-barred interview — that is bound to make awkward reading for his dance rivals — Danny claims celebrities on the show are “an insult” to genuine entertainers such as Cliff Richard, George Michael and… himself.
The 58-year-old, best-known for his role as Cat in sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf, says: “I’m not a celebrity, I’m an entertainer, that’s the difference.
“I’m a different level. I’m talking about variety artists. I came up working with people like Norman Wisdom, Bernie Winters, Freddie “Parrot-Face” Davies and Vince Hill and on and on and on… They’re stars. Celebrities today are an insult to those guys.”
But Danny does not blame Strictly’s new booker for the line-up. He says it is nearly impossible to find a “real star” these days.
He adds: “You can be on two episodes of Love Island and become a celebrity.
“The difference is you can be a celebrity nowadays by entertaining by buying a lady’s bikini.
“In our business there’s a lot of confusion with what is celebrity and what is entertainment.
“I tell you when you know who a star is — it’s when you’re in a room full of celebrities, because the celebrities will be looking at the star.”
It is not just his Strictly dance mates however who will find his views uncomfortable.
Wife of 17 years Petula Langlais — with whom he has children Dante, 12, and Danae, ten — might want to stop reading now.
When asked about the show’s infamous curse, he says deadpan: “I only came in for the curse because I’ve been trying to get rid of my missus for years.
“Who’s frightened of a curse? That’s mythical. That’s like saying, do you believe in Santa Claus? Are you frightened of Santa? No.
“I’m an entertainer, the celebrities can worry about the curse, but I don’t worry, I’m an entertainer.
“That’s rubbish. I would not waste my time — we’re talking about a fantasy here — there’s more reality in a Red Dwarf script than that curse. It’s laughable.”
Danny keeps his distance from the Strictly celebrities.
Bernie Winters, Freddie 'Parrot-Face Davies… they're stars. Celebrities today are an insult to those guys
He says: “I haven’t socialised with any of those people outside the show. My focus is my next number.
“I have not been out after work with one single member of the cast, not once have I been out with them, whatever it is.
“Anything which is part of our contract — for example It Takes Two — I’ll do, but as far as socialising, I have not been out with one member of the cast.
“We came here to be tested, not to prance up and down like some old luvvie, drinking martinis and having the odd knees-up.”
Danny, who toured with George Michael in the Eighties and appeared in Wham!’s 1986 music video The Edge of Heaven, believes the late singer, who died in 2016, is an example of what a star really is.
He says: “What I loved about George Michael more than anything — and it’s what I look for in all the people that I work with — he was the ultimate, consummate professional.
“I rode the same aeroplanes, I stayed in the same hotels, I had four costumes — each of them specifically designed for me, made to measure and they were silk.
“I don’t know what else you could ask for in a boss. Time of my life.”
Another entertainer he believes worthy of the label “star” is Sir Cliff Richard.
He says: “He’s another one, I was in a show with Cliff in 1987. When I auditioned for Red Dwarf I was working with Cliff Richard.”
Referencing the dropped sexual assault allegations against Sir Cliff, he adds: “And then all this scandal came out.
“You could go and see my social network and I told everybody this is crap.
“This is not the guy I know. I’ve been to Cliff’s house, I’ve got a photo of me and him in his garden.
“There’s a difference between people like Cliff Richard and these so-called celebrities, who aren’t stars.”
I don't fear Strictly curse… I've been trying to get rid of my missus for years
Danny also has plenty to say on the continuing controversy surrounding whether Strictly should be booking stars with previous dance experience — such as him, Ashley Roberts and Faye Tozer.
Danny has appeared in West End productions, including the original Starlight Express, and was once part of a dance group called Second Generation.
He says: “Having dance experience is nothing.
“If you go to a party and have a knees-up does that mean you’re an experienced knees-up artist?
“Why am I more experienced than anyone else?
“Believe me, if we were as good as they say, why are we rehearsing for a week?
“Why don’t we just do ten minutes and show our prowess, and why am I here? Hey, I could be at home watching Jeremy Kyle, why am I here?
“I wouldn’t come here and train if I didn’t need to.
“It’s ridiculous, it’s ridiculous because the three of us are there 24/7, grafting it out and we’re not working any less than Joe Sugg or Katie Piper.
“Why would we bother? If we were so advantaged, why come to work every day?”
And all that “grafting” seems to have taken its toll on Danny.
He shocked fans on spin-off show It Takes Two last week by claiming he had collapsed in rehearsals.
However, he was quick to backtrack during our interview, saying he meant he only needed to have a lie-down due to old age after practising the jive a few too many times.
He says: “It was recuperating, that’s the thing. When you’re my age, it’s the recovery that’s tough.
“If AJ (Pritchard) did that number three times he’d probably walk around and have a laugh afterwards but he’s got youth on his side.
“But the recovery for myself and people like maybe Susannah (Constantine) and (2010 contestant) Ann Widdecombe, we’re not going to be recovering like the others.”
But as the Strictly saying goes, Danny is definitely going to “keep dancing."
When his time in the ballroom comes to an end, he hopes to launch his own one-man show.
And, as a self-proclaimed “real star”, he claims he would thrive if given the opportunity.
He says: “That’s the difference between a celebrity and a star, because a star can go and fill a theatre, do a two-hour show and people walk out having had an experience.
“Who can fill up a theatre and do two hours on their own in this climate, in this pool of celebrity?
“You name anyone who can do a two-hour show.
“That’s why I like to push the boundary. I could do a two-hour show called a one-man show.
“I’d only need a microphone to entertain a crowd. That’s all you need as an entertainer.”
I wonder how many of his Strictly dance mates will turn up to see him.
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