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Interview with Aylesbury resident Brendan Cole, the sensational ballroom dancer famous for his risquÃ© rumba and cheeky chat on BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing...
Its hard to believe that a dancer who is widely tipped to finish in the top three of this years Strictly Come Dancing competition, dancing with former Destinys Child singer Michelle Williams, used to hate dancing. But at the age of six, Brendan Cole had to be dragged to lessons. His mother encouraged him to attend Ballroom and Latin American dance classes, but he tried all sorts of tricks to avoid going: pretending to be ill, hiding and even climbing out of a window!
We meet backstage after a performance of his own show, Live and Unjudged, which toured the country this summer to critical acclaim. Despite having spent three hours jiving, waltzing and fox-trotting round a stage, Brendan looks cool and well dressed in a starched, white shirt and smart jeans.
He recalls his early days of trudging off to dance school, reluctant and moody.
I hated every second of it! he says with an easy smile. Mum said I had to go dancing, so I did. I had no choice. I began to win competitions and I liked all the pats on the back and trophies. I made lots of friends and then I really got into it.
Brendan was born in Christchurch, New Zealand in April 1976. He has one brother Scott, who is also a dancer, and a sister who is a dancing teacher. He says he was very competitive, even in the early days, and this fueled his interest in dance. Once he started winning competitions and gaining a reputation for being good, he was hooked.
I liked the thrill of coming first. I did get quite a bit of teasing from other kids, I suppose. But even then I was the kind of person who fights back. I stood up for myself; I had to.
He became the Juvenile, Junior and Youth Champion of New Zealand which allowed him to travel the world in international competitions. He went on to win the New Zealand and Asian Open Professional Champions with his ex-professional partner Camilla Dallerup.
Since then he has shot to fame by appearing on BBC1s Strictly Come Dancing. He has become known for his defensive retorts and controversial comments to the judges, but the audiences love him and he is one of only three male dancers to have been on the show every year since it started in 2003. He explains: If Im outspoken its because I feel wronged. If the judges are unfair then I feel that needs to be addressed.
I suppose the trait I dislike most is my temper. It doesnt take much to wind me up, but I cant let a problem stew. I have to let it out, or it could be an absolute nightmare! My anger usually comes from the right place and once its passed I forget about it.
Creating his own dance show has been his biggest challenge to date. It was something he had always intended to do. The curtain call on that first night is a moment he will remember for the rest of his life.
I was just blown away: 1,000 people clapping and cheering was out of this world! I was quite emotional: which is unusual. When you do something and it turns out even better than you dreamed, it is absolutely amazing.
When he is so busy Brendan appreciates the peace and quiet of his home just outside Aylesbury even more. He married model Zoe Hobbs in July and posed for photographs with the likes of Bruce Forsyth and Craig Revel Horwood for Hello magazine at Nether Winchendon House, near Aylesbury.
Our cottage is very beautiful. Inside it is decorated in a very minimalist, understated way. There is no clutter or rubbish around the place. I love going home.
Zoe particularly loves exploring the area and she will often encourage Brendan to join her on an expedition that usually takes in a few of the local villages and a lunch stop somewhere picturesque.
Zoe is the one who inspires me to go walking. Sometimes we go to Henley and have a stroll by the river and some lunch in a pub. It is very beautiful round Marlow and we often head there to walk.
We have some cracking pubs near us. The Crown in Cuddington is our local. Its a pretty thatch-roofed pub that is typically English. The Angel at Long Crendon is gorgeous as well; they serve fabulous food and the service is great.
Brendan admits that staying at home, relaxing and just hanging-out with Zoe is a favourite pastime. He certainly likes arranging romantic gestures for her, but its the simple things, like a night in with a DVD, that they enjoy. His one guilty pleasure is something that reminds him of home. Anzac biscuits. They are my all-time favourites. Theyre made with oats, syrup and coconut. They are traditional New Zealand biscuits and I love them!
Brendan is sporty: golf, go-karting and playing cricket for his local side, Cuddington. On a nice day theres nothing better than a day of cricket or a round of golf. Stoke Park is a favourite course. Ive also done sky diving and bungee jumping. A bit of danger is good for you now and then!
He endured the greatest possible danger last year when he travelled to Vanuatu experiencing some of the South Pacifics most challenging islands for Sky Travel.
My trip was hard; harder than I could ever imagine, but it was awesome. I had to walk for three days in the jungle, climb hills that were ridiculously steep, carrying a pack-pack that weighed 15kg. It was absolutely gruelling. My body was screaming, there was no water, I ate revolting roots to survive and there were some moments when I really wondered whether Id make it.
But, the experience changed my life. The leader of the tribe I visited made me a gift of a bow and arrow and it is my most precious possession. It was a remarkable, generous gift and I treasure it.
On the dance floor, walking in the jungle or on the cricket pitch: where is Brendan happiest?When I am on stage performing, but I am equally happy when I am at home with Zoe, just going about our business. Now I couldnt have one without the other.
A few years ago it would have been a very different response. My dancing was first and foremost. But now, its the right time and Im in the right place to have my career and private life in an ideal balance.It seems Bad Boy Brendan isnt so bad after all. His greatest inspiration was his paternal grandfather. He was a Geordie and a real character. But, Brendan reckons he has matured a great deal over the last few years.
The one big lesson I have learned is that we all have the same fears and insecurities, its just how you deal with them that matters. Theres no need to be shy or nervous in any situation. How I might dress or how I talk does not change me as a person. We are all equal.
Strictly Come Dancing is onBBC One on Saturday nights.