John Whaite (L) and Johannes Radebe. (BBC)
Strictly Come Dancing sensations John Whaite and Johannes Radebe have admitted they had serious reservations before taking part as the show’s first ever all-male pairing.
Since starting Strictly last month, John and Johannes have proven to be a hit with viewers and the judges alike, earning the first 39 points of the series and receiving resounding praise from the viewing public.
The pair are currently bookies’ second favourite to win the competition, something which should come as a relief to Radebe, 34.
The pro dancer recently admitted his pre-competition fears to Hello! magazine.
“There was no doubt in my mind that the dance side of it would work, but I was scared of the reaction it could bring,” he explained.
“I thought criticism would come from all sides. After speaking to my therapist I realised what was holding me back was still feeling ashamed.
“Despite my fear, I couldn’t let this opportunity go to anyone else.”
Former Great British Bake Off champion Whaite, 32, expressed similar concerns to his long-term partner Paul Atkins, he told the magazine. “He told me: ‘Don’t do it if you feel that way.
“My emotional well-being was all that mattered to him and that’s one of the things I love most about Paul. Deep down I knew that doing Strictly was the right thing to do. It was time to flick the switch and, as Jo says every day, go for gold.”
John Whaite and Johannes Radebe are Strictly’s second same-sex couple, following in the footsteps of Nicola Adams and Katya Jones last year, and first all-male pairing.
Whaite explained how their childhood experiences of homophobia drove their desire to accept the opportunity to represent the LGBT+ community on national television.
“When Johannes and I were young lads, we saw so much hate towards people like us because being gay was deemed to be scandalous,” said Whaite. “So we’re doing this in honour of all those people. It’s another step towards being equal.”
Radebe agreed, adding: “John and I dancing together demonstrates that we live in a progressive society, but it stands for something far bigger than we actually realise.
“There are still societies that don’t accept homosexuality and where people who don’t have human rights. That’s one reason why it’s important to keep breaking down those barriers, and people seeing John and me on the dance floor is a big step towards that. If we win, that message would be even louder.”
The positive reception the pair have enjoyed so far is “overwhelming”, saod Whaite. “When I see how people appreciate the beauty of our dances and accept us without judgement, I feel overcome.”
“To know that people love us is a breath of fresh air,” Radebe added.
On Sunday (October 24) night’s results show, the South African dancer was moved to tears over the positive reception to his partnership with Whaite.
When asked by host Claudia Winkleman if the duo’s success meant more to him as the weeks went on, Radebe admitted: “It really, really does. I can’t tell you how happy I am with this partnership – thank you very much.”