Former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls is the first contestant to be confirmed for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing. The unlikely salsa dancer confessed on Radio 2 this morning (8 August) that he will enjoy his "midlife crisis" on the reality television show but that he is "scared to death" by the challenge that awaits him.
The 49-year-old – who is married to former Shadow Home Secretary and Labour MP Yvette Cooper – also admitted that the show may instigate weight loss as he could "do with losing half a stone", as well as being part of his "post-politics bucket list".
Balls has run three London marathons, but told radio host Chris Evans that he is trying to get fit for "those moves". He described the dancing show as harder than his former day job, joking: "Parliament was much easier than this."
He said: "From the beginning of September, I'm definitely going to be doing 12 hours a week training but everybody says I'll have to do quite a few more hours than that," he said.
"Our family have been massive fans of Strictly for years. I've taken the view that if you have a midlife crisis, make sure you plan it well and enjoy every minute."
Though the much-loved series will return to BBC1 next month, it comes with a bittersweet taste as head judge Len Goodman is stepping down from his post once it ends.
Commenting on Goodman's departure, Balls continued: "It's a dream come true. And to do Len's last series, my only hope is it stays a dream and doesn't become a nightmare."
The official Strictly Twitter page confirmed news that Balls was joining the series with a nod to his infamous 'Ed Balls' tweet. In 2011, while searching Twitter for an article written about him, the politician accidentally entered his name in the wrong box thereby simply tweeting his own name.
Strictly hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman recently revealed that they know who all the contestants are for the new series, with the latter stating: "There's something for everyone... there's young, there's old, there's small, there's tall, there's cuddly, there's abrasive. Actually there's no abrasive ones, I miss the abrasive ones."
Balls was chief economic advisor to the Treasury (2006-07) and served as Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families in Gordon Brown's government from 2007 to 2010. He is currently a senior fellow at Harvard University Kennedy School Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government and a visiting professor of the Policy Institute at King's College, London.