Catherine Tyldesley has said that dancing with Johannes Radebe on Strictly Come Dancing gave her her confidence back.
The former Coronation Street actress said the South African professional had taught her to “own” her “big, strong, sexy legs” and helped her overcome a back problem.
Tyldesley, 36, was eliminated midway through the competition after a dance-off against Mike Bushell and Katya Jones, in a decision some viewers branded “ridiculous”.
Appearing on Good Morning Britain, she said: “This man has buckets of sass and when I started Strictly my confidence was quite low because I had had an injury, I wasn’t able to train for a long time.
“I really felt like Johannes gave me my confidence back. I got there and I was like ‘Oh you know, I’ve got big legs and big bum.’
“And he was like ‘Girl, you’ve got big, strong, sexy legs – own it, go for it’ and I was like ‘Yeah!’
“It just made me more grateful for what my humble body could achieve. Dancing is so joyous. It’s a brilliant form of exercise and I can’t recommend it enough – I am addicted.
“I’m really going to get on his nerves because every time I’m with him I am like ‘Can we waltz? Can we paso?’ It’s just been joyous.”
Radebe, who is gay, made history during the series when he performed the show’s first same-sex individual dance with fellow professional, and close friend, Graziano Di Prima.
Citing the positive reaction from fans, he said it was a joy to be living in “such progressive times”.
He said he and Di Prima danced “every single day”, before adding: “And for the fact it was so well received, it’s just humbling and it’s lovely to be living in such progressive times.”
Tyldesley added: “It’s fantastic. I can’t believe it’s only just happening, if I am honest. How wonderful and, like you said, the opportunity to dance with your best friend. More of that please.”
The soap star said she was excited to perform in the Strictly live tour’s first relaxed performance, which has been modified for children and adults with conditions including autism, learning difficulties or dementia.
She said: “We’ve got our first relaxed performance as well. So that will be in Nottingham on the 5th of February, the matinee performance.
“And it’s just because everybody loves Strictly so it’s to make it more inclusive if people with learning difficulties or autism perhaps…
“And the house lights will be left on, there won’t be any loud bangs, there will be help on hand, people can roam around if they want to.
“It’s the first time they have done it, which is absolutely fantastic.”