Robin Windsor and Lisa Riley continue to go from strength-to-strength on Strictly Come Dancing as they sailed through to the semi-finals at the weekend.
The couple have become the people’s favourites proving that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. Robin’s clever choreography combined with Lisa’s natural dance ability have captivated the nation and put a big smile on their faces.
We caught up with Robin this week to talk about making it to the semi-final, judge Len Goodman’s battle of head versus heart, and what it would mean for him and Lisa to get to the Strictly final.
It was fusion dance weekend on Strictly last week. How do you feel it went?
Last week we danced the Cha Chango and it was just brilliant. There were so many mirror balls on the dancefloor and I looked like a mirror ball! Once Lisa’s dress came off she looked like a mirror ball! It was all about mirror balls last week and Lisa did great. I thought the Tango part of the Cha Chango was the best that she’d done any ballroom. She really started to get her arch out. For someone of her size that’s really, really difficult to do. It’s still not how I’d like it to be but because of her size she’s quite limited. I hope the public realise how difficult that is for her and that she’s getting better at it week-on-week.
The routine really split the judges as to which part of the dance they thought was strongest. Darcey said she thought the Tango was the stronger of the two…
In all honesty I’m with Darcey here. I actually thought the Tango was much stronger. Lisa’s great at the Cha Cha. There were a couple of little hiccups but again she covered them well. Most people’s faces would just turn to worry but Lisa just continued on and we got through to the end. The crowd loved it. As soon as the costume change happened the crowd went wild.
Well the audience at home must have loved it too as you’ve sailed through to the semi-final. How does that feel?
We were certain that we were going to be in the dance-off last week. Thanks to the amazing public support that we’ve got we were called out before the dance-off. We were both so excited. You could see from our reaction, which might have been a little over the top from me but I was so excited at the fact that we’d actually got the semi-final.
The pair of you always look so worried every week and once again they left you towards the end again…
Leaving us towards the end of the results show every week is just horrific. It really can’t be good for your health (laughs). The nerves and the adrenalin going through you at that time is immense.
At the start of the series did you ever think you’d get to the semi-final?
I thought at the beginning of the series that we might be able to make it to Wembley. That was the first goal. We’ve taken it week-by-week so far and all going to plan we’ve only got to take it one more week then it’s the final.
It’s gone so fast this year hasn’t it?
It’s completely flown by. It’s just been a rollercoaster from day one to this point. To come this far and not make it to the final would be absolutely devastating. We’ve worked exceptionally hard this week, especially as we have two dances, but at the end of the day if the worst happens and we were to go home this week we could leave with our heads held high. It’s just been an amazing experience.
For the semi-final you’re performing the Salsa and the American Smooth. What can we expect?
Well we are allowed three lifts in the American Smooth but due to limitations we’ve decided to do a Smooth with no lifts. I’ve had to do a slightly different routine to give people the wow factor. Some people need to use half the dance to do lots of lifts we’re going to be doing a full dance on the floor. In the Salsa we do have quite a dangerous lift. If it goes wrong it could end in absolute disaster and I’ve taken lots of chances by throwing myself at Lisa so we’ll see what happens.
Can we expect the usual twists and surprises that we’ve come to love from Team RiRo?
The American Smooth is not a conventional American Smooth. We’re doing a Foxtrot American Smooth and there are lots of different elements in there. There are parts in hold, parts side-by-side and us dancing apart. It’s got a very 1920s feel to it.
What songs are you dancing to this week?
For the American Smooth we’re dancing to All That Jazz from Chicago. Our Salsa is to Best Years Of Our Lives by Modern Romance.
How’s Lisa getting to grips with learning two routines this week?
To learn one dance we’ve normally got four days. To learn two dances we’ve still only got four days. It’s double the amount of work in the same amount of time which is really scary. Lisa’s doing really well and she’s picking them up. We’ve been dancing through the routines over and over and over. The hardest part is for Lisa to remember both routines and what steps belong to which dance.
Len Goodman has been talking about Lisa this week saying he is having a battle of head versus heart because he loves watching her every week but thinks she’s technically one of the weaker dancers left in the competition. What do you think about those comments?
I saw all of Len’s comments during the week and he’s quite right. Lisa quite openly has said she knows she’s not technically the best dancer in the show. What she lacks for in technique she makes up for in what the others don’t have. It comes down to preference and opinion.
You and Lisa, Dani and Vincent , and Louis and Flavia haven’t been in the bottom two yet. That surely must give you an advantage at the weekend?
Yeah. Not being in the bottom two so far throughout the whole series has been fantastic. The problem we’ve got this weekend is that the other four couples left are exceptional. It’s going to be really, really tough. A lot of it will be down to the public and who they want to see in the final.
They’ve supported you this far! Why should they support you again this weekend and secure your place in the final?
To be able to make the final would just be the best Christmas present in the world. Lisa’s worked so hard and she’s inspired so many people throughout this series. She’s proved that you don’t have to be a size 10 to be able to dance. Her inspiration is just going a long, long way and because of that people should vote Lisa into the final. It’s not about me. I want to get there for Lisa because I think she thoroughly deserves it and she’s worked so hard.
Whatever happens this weekend, Lisa has proven people wrong and shown that you can do anything if you work hard and put your mind to it…
Like you said whatever happens this weekend Lisa has inspired people up and down the country to get up and dance no matter what size you are. People should never feel embarrassed about who they are, how they look, their sexuality, colour or anything. It just goes to show that anybody can do anything.
The ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ semi-final is at 6.30pm tomorrow night on BBC One and BBC One HD. Watch Lisa and Robin performing the Cha Chango in last weekend’s quarter-final: