Daniel O'Donnell's Strictly Diary; Week 2

Daniel in training with Kristina
Daniel in training with Kristina

Let me tell you, Kristina Rihanoff is a lady with an endless amount of patience.

And it’s just as well because I’ve certainly been testing her good nature in the last week.

I thought I could dance until I joined Strictly, but boy have I a lot to learn.

I am so consumed by the whole experience that I’m not sleeping properly. I wake up at three or four in the morning, get out of bed and start practising my steps.

Some days as I walk down the street in London and I’ll suddenly break into a dance move. I don’t care who sees me.

Before going back into the dance studio after last weekend’s TV launch, I took the opportunity to wind down and enjoy a couple of shows in London’s West End with Majella.

We went to see the Carol King musical, Beautiful and Kinky Boots.


I begin work on my dance with Kristina. I can’t reveal the dance until it’s on the telly, but it’s different to anything I’ve ever done before. I watch a recording of it to see the geography of the moves. 

Then the thought goes through my head: ‘What on earth have I let myself in for?’ 


I glance across the dance studio at Kristina and wonder where she gets her patience, as I struggle to master the steps and moves she’s teaching me. 

Kristina looks so graceful when she dances, whereas I am just plain awkward at the moment.


I’m like the character Virgil out of the TV series Thunderbirds. I’m trying to get my figure and arms in the right position. Then when I get that sorted, I have my head to think about. My head is supposed to be steady, but like Virgil it’s tilted and wobbling as if it’s on a string.


Kristina is really encouraging. “That was good, that was good,” she says with delight. Maybe she’s just making me feel good, but I’ll take all the compliments I can get.

Another choreographer comes in and shows me some moves. My heart sinks. I realise I know nothing.


After a night’s sleep my confidence is back up. I’m not dragging myself down, I’m just raging with myself that I can’t master it quicker.

I want to be able to do it now. Kristina puts me through my routine for five-and-a-half hours and I see some progress.

It’s a great challenge at my time of life. It demands so much of your time and your body. But now the road behind me is further than the one ahead, so I’ll keep going.

For Daniel's Week 1 diary click here and you can catch his insider guide to week 3 in Sunday's Sunday World