Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
Strictly speaking - here come the girls
Denise Van Outen and Lisa Riley are brimming with excitement at the chance to continue the sparkle and razamatazz of Strictly Come Dancing with the live shows, but mostly, they say it is about being able to "Keep Dancing!".
The Strictly Come Dancing Live roadshow reaches Birmingham NIA on Friday January 18 and sees stars of the show, including Van Outen and Riley, perform for three nights in a replica of the television contest format until January 20.
In panto style, it is complete with larger-than-life judges Craig Revel Horwood, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli, plenty of boos and cheers from the audience and hopefully a few '10s' or even a 'Sev-ern' from Goodman.
Riley says that she signed up for the tour to keep dancing with her "wonderful partner" Robin Windsor. "We are like brother and sister," adds Riley. "We just hit it off right from the start.
The brilliant thing about the tour is that we have our two dances that we do each night, so I think it will be much less pressure than the show where we're learning different dances each week.
Lisa Riley is happy to keep dancing with partner Robin Windsor
Riley, who reveals that during the competition she dropped from a Size 26 to a Size 18, explains that she achieved more than just losing weight on the programme, but also learned "just to be myself".
I'm so proud of that," says Riley. "I've just been myself from the start and it turns out that that's what people like, which has been amazing. I never set out to win; I achieved what I wanted to on the very first day which was to be myself and learn to dance. The response from the public has been amazing - apparently I'm the gay icon of the year, which I'm very proud of!
I've broken down barriers and shown that everyone has a right to be who they want to be. It's still going on now - Robin and I can't believe it when we walk down the street and people keep coming up to us and saying they've loved watching us, and they say, 'Thanks for entertaining us'. We're like, 'What the hell is going on?'.
It's amazing but we can't get our heads around it. It's all so positive. We are the people's champion, apparently! Unbelievable.
As for the tour I'm looking forward to hanging out with Dani Harmer and Denise Van Outen as I really clicked with them. And Michael Vaughan - the four of us are like Lethal Weapon Four! We have similar personalities."
Finalist Van Outen is also embracing that camaraderie and fun with her fellow celebrities and dancers on the tour.
"The show is so high-pressured in front of the TV cameras," explains Van Outen. "It will be nice to just go out and dance and feel a bit more relaxed.
"It will just be about dancing and enjoying myself. And when am I going to get the chance to perform in front of that many people again? I'm not in a pop group! I'm used to much smaller theatres. I got such a buzz being at Wembley, so hopefully that's what this will be like.
"I'm going to bring my daughter, Betsy, to some of the dates. Michael Vaughan has a daughter the same age - two and a half - so we've said we'll make sure we bring them on the same dates and we can all hang out."
Celebrities in this year's tour include former England Cricketer Phil Tufnell, Tracey Beaker star Dani Harmer, much loved TV presenter Fern Britton, TV actress Lisa Riley, GB Olympian Louis Smith and former England Cricket captain and legend Michael Vaughan.