Annabel Croft says Strictlys Johannes Radebe made her laugh like husband did
Annabel Croft has said her Strictly Come Dancing partner, Johannes Radebe, made her laugh like her husband used to.
The 57-year-old ex-tennis player, who came fourth in the BBC One dance competition, said she had found the experience “life-changing”.
Croft’s husband, Mel Coleman, died earlier this year after being diagnosed with cancer, and the former British number one dedicated a dance to him that was hailed as “divine” by Strictly head judge Shirley Ballas.
Speaking about the moment she knew she was in safe hands with professional dancer Radebe, Croft told the Mail Online: “That came when he made me laugh.
“The thing that has most surprised me was how much I have laughed over the past weeks.
“When Mel died, I didn’t think I would ever laugh, or feel joy, again.
“But during our training I would end up in hysterics about something.”
She added: “I remember looking at him and thinking ‘You are making me laugh like my husband used to make me laugh’ – because that’s what I miss most about Mel, his sense of humour, his ability to never take a situation too seriously.”
Speaking about whether she feels guilt in moments of happiness, she said: “I did wonder if I should feel some guilt, but ultimately I know that Mel would not want me to feel unable to find any joy in life.
“I think what Strictly has done is give me the energy to look for the point in life. Music helps, and the physicality of it.
“There is something freeing about dance. I did do ballet as a child, and I got to the stage where I remembered how it made me feel then.
“Tennis took over for me, and it’s different. It’s gladiatorial. Dance is… freeing.”
Of her experience in the dance competition, she said: “It’s been life-changing.
“I’ve had to find a strength I didn’t know I had. But it’s been exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating.
“I think I’ve been through every emotion possible.”
The former athlete and broadcaster also spoke about her grief and how “unpredictable” it can be.
She said: “It’s still not something I can control.
“Some days I’d be blindsided by a piece of music or a particular memory, or I’d be showing someone a picture of Mel and find myself losing it.
“Other days I’d be able to just chat about him.
“It’s unpredictable, grief, but I think I understand it a little more now. I think Johannes does too, which helped.”
– The final of Strictly Come Dancing 2023 took place on Saturday evening with the glitterball trophy awarded to actress Ellie Leach and her professional dance partner Vito Coppola.
Published: by Radio NewsHub