Strictly Come Dancing’s Anton Du Beke has said he is overjoyed to be dancing with Emma Barton because she is younger than his average partner – and still has all her teeth.
The ballroom veteran, 53, has been on the show since its first series, but has never won.
He has often been paired with the contest’s older female stars including 71-year-old Ann Widdecombe and 57-year-old Susannah Constantine, regularly crashing out in the early rounds.
This year, however, he has been coupled with EastEnders star Barton, who he described as “an absolute dream”.
Du Beke told the Radio Times: “I’m very excited about this one. Emma’s tall, gorgeous and talented.
“She’s an absolute dream and, I’ve got to be honest, younger than I’m used to.
“And she’s got her own teeth. That’ll do for me.”
Soap star Barton, 42, is best-known to audiences as Honey Mitchell in EastEnders.
Barton said she was equally excited by their burgeoning partnership, adding: “I’m the biggest Strictly fan on the planet, I’ve watched every year.
“I’m not shy of working hard. If you’re given an opportunity like this you have to go for it, 100%.
“I trained in musical theatre 20 years ago, so I’ve got musicality – and I’ve got the best teacher with Anton.
“We’re like two peas in a pod. I think we’ll be ridiculously silly and fun. Absolute winner.”
Barton is touted by the bookmakers as a contender to win.
Coral has offered odds of 4/1, placing her just behind CBBC presenter Karim Zeroual, who is the favourite with odds of 7/2 to win.
The live episodes of Strictly Come Dancing will begin on September 21.
Read the full interview in the Radio Times.