Pupils take to the floor for a few steps with the stars

26th November 2010 at 00:00
Aberdeenshire dancers showed their best moves when a couple of Strictly contenders dropped in

When a BBC crew arrived at Strathdon Primary to film a sequence for Strictly Come Dancing with Pamela Stephenson and her dance partner James Jordan, the children were hugely excited.

This Aberdeenshire village in the Cairngorm National Park is home to Pamela Stephenson and her husband Billy Connolly. So when Pamela took James to visit their Scottish home for the show, the village school was thrilled to be included in the filming schedule.

The day Strictly came to Strathdon was described by nine-year-old Cara Mathieson as "mind-blowing". She is one of the pupils who joined a workshop with the dance stars on the cha-cha, which the couple performed in the competition two days later.

These children have been learning the tango and the marengo from dance teacher David Robinson, who teaches ballroom and Latin American in 15 primaries across Aberdeenshire as part of the Active Schools programme.

The children will be taking part in their own competitions later this academic year. "At the end of the sessions, schools within the network all gather together and have a competition and the winning children get a trophy," says David.

"The children may well give them some tips for Saturday," headteacher Lilian Field says.

Thanks to the TV series, dancing has become a firm favourite with children this age. "I hear from parents about children practising at home and just gliding across the kitchen floor," she says.

The dance stars arrived to cheers of excitement. Ms Stephenson knows some of these children personally and runs to give a hug to one of the boys. The couple then spent an hour dancing with the children, showing them the steps for the cha-cha and having photographs taken with them.

Teacher Sally Hunter says she was astonished when she heard the film crew was visiting. "I thought it was a joke," she says. "But they're here and they are so good with the children."

One of the boys, Jamie Foreman, danced the cha-cha with Pamela, while Cara danced with James Jordan. The children also got a chance to show off their tango.

"I couldn't believe they were coming," says Cara. "It was just mind-blowing. James is really smooth with his steps and he really concentrates and he's very good at it."

"It's just lovely to get back," says Ms Stephenson. "And we were just saying that for a rural school with only 30 pupils to be ready to do the tango for us, that's amazing!"

The night before, she and James danced at a ceilidh with members of the local community. "It's lovely to feel the support of the people in Scotland, especially in this area," she says.

Meanwhile, her partner James says he has thoroughly enjoyed getting out of the city and coming to Scotland.

"This for me is paradise - it's absolutely beautiful," he says. "It's a really nice community and everyone seems really friendly."

Amy Callard from P7 watches the show every Saturday with her mum: "It's been ace - I've really enjoyed it," she says.

Minutes after the guests depart, teacher Angela Roberts is organising the children for their next appointment at the village War Memorial, where they will lead a service of remembrance.

"I think it went really well," says Mrs Roberts. "The children loved it and I enjoyed it as well - we'll all be watching this week."


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