Strictly star set to sizzle in Harrogate

Brendan Cole with Aliona Vilani.
Brendan Cole with Aliona Vilani.

By Graham Chalmers

Despite an injury to his leading lady, dance star Brendan Cole is looking forward to his new live tour with genuine excitement.

Times are good right now for Cole who made the grand final of the recent series of BBC TV’s Strictly Come Dancing with his partner Sophie Ellis-Bextor, never an easy feat to achieve any year.

He said: “I had an incredible time on Strictly this year. To make it to the final with Sophie was a huge privilege and honour. She is such a beautiful dancer and a fantastic person.

“I loved every minute of it and it was an absolute pleasure to be partnered with her.”

New Zealand-born Brendan is now busy preparing for the return of his live show Licence To Thrill which swings Harrogate’s way on Wedneday, January 29 at the Royal Hall with breath-taking dances and stunning choreography in prospect.

Kicking off on January 16 in Eastbourne, the 48 date tour will include all of the Ballroom and Latin favourites seen on Strictly wth a cast of 14 musicians and six world class dancers.

But the two-hour dance and big band extravaganza will be without the leading lady of Brendan’s previous hit tour, Live and Unjudged.

France’s Fauve Hautot had been planning to return but has been unable to join Brendan after injuring cruciate ligaments in her knee.

Stepping into Fauve’s shoes and joining Brendan and the rest of the Licence To Thrill cast is fellow Strictly Come Dancing professional Aliona Vilani, who was a winner with McFly drummer Harry Judd in the 2011 Strictly series.

Brendan, 37, said: “It is such a shame to not have Fauve returning to join me for the tour, she is a phenomenal dancer and will very much be missed on the tour.

“But I am really excited to have Aliona stepping into her shoes. Having worked with her on Strictly since 2009 I know what an incredible dancer she is and I can’t wait to see what she brings to the show.”

It’s fair to say the entire cast are of a stellar quality.

Australian dancer Melanie Hooper, who first joined Brendan for the final run of Live and Unjudged, Germany’s Patrick Helm, who has been assisting the artist director on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing as well as performing in a number of the professional dances, and home grown dancer Crystal Main will all be returning.

Also returning is Brendan’s brother Scott who always brings something unique to the evening.

Brendan said: “My dance cast is truly international with a collective CV from competition, theatre, stage and television.

“I’m very lucky to have a cast that have been in Dancing With The Stars around the world as well as stars from the Broadway hit Burn the Floor and, of course, Strictly Come Dancing.”

The audience at the Royal Hall can expect to see the full range of Brendan’s talent on display.

The Waltzes and Foxtrots will take audiences on an emotional journey while the fast-paced Quicksteps, Tangos and American Smooths will undoubtedly take the breath away.

The excitement of the Latin dances with the likes of Cha Cha, Samba, Salsa and Jive will have people itching to get up and join in right there in their seats.

The live band is led by musical director Barry Robinson and includes impressive vocalists Ian Mackenzie and Julie Maguire and some of Britain’s best musicians.

On stage throughout the show, they will perform songs from across the decades from Nat King Cole to Gladys Knight to Michael Bublé.

Brendan said: “There is a small nod to James Bond with the music. One of the big songs is Gladys Knight’s Licence to Kill (hence the Licence to Thrill title) and there is a dance-off between the males in Live and Let Die.”

For tickets, call the Harrogate Theatre box office on 01423 502 116 or book online at