They are the Strictly stars who showed a whole new side to themselves on the dance floor.
Out of all the contestants in Strictly Come Dancing, two women revealed personalities we didn’t expect.
Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden has a reputation as a hard-nosed businesswoman who doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
But on the dancefloor we saw her beaming, and giggling like an excited schoolgirl while rehearsing with partner Robin Windsor.
And TV viewers knew actress Natalie Gumede as evil Kirsty in Coronation Street, who physically abused boyfriend Tyrone. They’ve been able to see the person behind the character and voted her into the final, where she topped the leaderboard with two perfect 40 scores.
Now both women are continuing their Strictly journey by going on the live UK tour, which kicks off in Birmingham on January 17.
Hosted by former contestant Lisa Riley, it features Deborah and Natalie alongside winner Abbey Clancy, runner-up Susanna Reid, Ben Cohen, Mark Benton and Nicky Byrne.
Deborah, 54, is thrilled to be “back in the Strictly bubble”. She was perhaps the most disappointed to be voted out of the contest in week five after her Viennese waltz with Robin Windsor, with whom she is reunited on the tour.
She seemed to be having a ball on the show and showed off her softer side, though suggest she wasn’t that bothered about winning and her response is as fiery as a Dragon.
“Oh, I am highly competitive,” she insists. “We trained every day for 10 hours. Don’t get me wrong, I want to win!
“But I think people have seen a different side to me. I’m not ruthless and if people think of me as that, I find that a shame.
“I have rules but I don’t do things at all costs – that’s not me.
“I am investing my own money in Dragons’ Den, it’s a serious thing and it would be very disrespectful if I sat there giggling.
“But that’s in the Den. There’s more to me and people have very generously seen me through a wider lens. They have really embraced me and I so value that.
“I have a real giggle with Robin. I don’t take instruction well and he realised early on that I have to be engaged and enjoy myself if I am to learn.
“There was nothing else in my mind apart from the next dance when I was competing. I have a business head and a Strictly head, as there’s no room for both at the same time.
“But when I left, it felt like unfinished business, so I knew that I had to do the tour or I would regret it.”
So could someone take advantage of this softer side of Deborah in the boardroom? Let them try, she says forcefully!
Deborah and Robin’s dances included a tango to Money Money Money, a cha cha cha to Respect and a jive to Bucks Fizz’s Making Your Mind Up.
But her favourite dance was the quickstep to Higher and Higher by Jackie Wilson.
“I would love to do our quickstep again on tour, as it was the dance when I suddenly got it and had a joyous moment. I was really beaming.
“I went on the dance floor really looking forward to doing it, whereas prior to that I was terrified.
“I love that dress, too. It’s a beautiful white and blue sequined dress with lots of memories attached to it.
“I kept my ballroom shoes and I will keep dancing with my husband.”
Deborah’s husband Paul surprised her during the competition by revealing he was secretly taking dance lessons too.
“How lovely is that?” cries Deborah. “I had my first dance with him the other week and it was wonderful.
“He’s not a natural dancer, he finds it very difficult and he’s very tall so we don’t fit very well, but he was actually very good. I’d have told him if he wasn’t!
“We did an American smooth which I never did on Strictly, so he was teaching me the steps.
“I had to say yes to Strictly as I’m such a fan, but I didn’t know how much I would love it. I’m so pleased I did it. At my age, to find something you love is special. I hope I’ve encouraged other people to have a go. With the pleasure I get from dancing, I want everyone to feel what I’ve felt!
“So try it, please, as it’s never too late.”
Natalie Gumede impressed the judges with her almost-perfect dancing in the final, especially in her show dance with Artem Chigvintsev to Steppin’ Out With My Baby.
Natalie, 29, says: “We don’t have long to relax after the final before we’re back rehearsing for the tour.
“I’m looking forward to it. The pressure is off and we are going round the country thanking people for their support, really.
“I have been completely bowled over by the public reaction. You share yourself, your performance and your heart in a show like this and put so much into every dance. For people to respond positively has just been overwhelming.
“I spent so many years being told no and being rejected, so for people to get behind me is really humbling.
“Mind you, I’m not sure everybody has dismissed the horrible woman from Coronation Street yet! She was a big character and her spectre still looms large. A show like Corrie has a massive impact and people invest in the characters. I was so lucky to have played someone like that for two years.
“It will take longer for Kirsty to disappear, but I hope people have seen the real me.
“Strictly is very life enriching. You think you are going on to do a bit of dancing but it’s so much more than that.”
Natalie is looking forward to coming back to Birmingham, where she has appeared twice in the TV soap Doctors in different roles, the last time in 2009.
“It’s a rite of passage for any actress – you’re not a proper actress until you’ve been in Doctors!” she laughs.
So did she take anything away from Strictly, and will she carry on dancing?
“My souvenir is a nice picture of me and Artem from week one which they blew up into a massive poster, so I will still be able to look at his face long after he has gone from my life.
“I think he has got his chest out in the picture, but that’s old news. I see it every day, the novelty has worn off!
“Strictly has re-ignited my love for dance so I can’t let it go completely. I might do a dance class just for myself.”
* Strictly Come Dancing Live comes to Birmingham’s NIA for five shows from January 17-19. For tickets ring 0844 338 8000 or go to www.theticketfactory.com.