Today, BBC bosses have confirmed plans to pay tribute to Caroline Flack in an upcoming 'Strictly Come Dancing' special. The news follows the recent release of the book by Emily Herbert, also in tribute of the presenter and entertainer.
Herbert has kindly given Female First permission to showcase an extract from the new book.
On 20 December 2014, the twelfth series of Strictly Come Dancing reached its triumphant finale. A little-known television presenter named Caroline Flack had won. It was a massive triumph, catapulting her into quite another league and setting the scene for a glittering career which would make her a household name, afford her some of the most high-profile roles on television and present her with opportunities afforded only to a few. Caroline was to go on to lead an extraordinarily glamorous life that will remain in the public memory.
And although she already had a substantial amount of television experience before she took to the dancefloor – to say nothing of a private life that had also attracted a certain amount of attention – it really was Strictly that started it all. Many felt it was her finest hour and as she became the series winner, she had never looked better or happier. Paired up with the Russian Latin and ballroom dancer Pasha Kovalev, this had been by no means a foregone conclusion: other contestants included Frankie Bridge from The Saturdays, Simon Webbe from Blue, pop star Pixie Lott and Jake Wood from EastEnders, who put in a pretty impressive salsa early on. Nor was Caroline an obvious hoofer: to begin with, at least, she came across as faltering and nervous, with a very shaky cha-cha-cha as her debut.
But as the weeks progressed, a change seemed to come over Caroline, with her confidence and ability growing in equal counts. For a start, she was clearly enjoying herself, not always a given in these shows. Secondly, the public loved her. Beautiful, photogenic and sporting a gorgeous array of costumes, Caroline began to show an increased ability, a sense of rhythm and a screen presence that, while it had always been present in her television work, was increasing by the day. There was a nail-biting moment when she once finished in the bottom two, but Caroline rallied like the pro she was.
A rumba, a quickstep and a paso doble all impressed, followed by a jive in Blackpool that really knocked the crowds for six. In an unashamedly high-spirited performance, the couple danced to Elton John’s ‘Crocodile Rock’, Caroline dressed in a Union Jack dress and Pasha as a Buckingham Palace guard, complete with distinctive hat: they scored thirty-seven points that night, to the delight of the crowd. Judge Bruno Tonioli gave her a ten; head judge Len Goodman, giving her nine, said: ‘If you are in the dance off this week I’m going to run to the end of the pier and dive off naked.’ (He didn’t.) ‘You can’t half flick, Flack.’ There was also a nine from Darcey Bussell and another from Craig Revel-Horwood, who commented, ‘I thought you executed that with military precision.’ Judy Murray was the contestant to leave that week.
Indeed, the audience loved the performance: Caroline’s dress was reminiscent of the famous appearance made by Spice Girl Geri Halliwell at the 1997 Brit awards, clad in a Union Jack miniskirt that she later confessed she’d made from a tea towel and which went on to achieve iconic status. And it was that image that Caroline put on Instagram the year after Strictly, when reminiscing about her time on the sequin-heavy show. ‘I just loved it,’ she later told You magazine. ‘I loved pretending I was a dancer every day, going to rehearsals in my legwarmers with my coffee in my hand. That was the bit I loved most – the performance days were terrible and nerve-racking, to be honest.’ Not that it showed – Caroline was getting so good that there was even speculation about a future role in a musical on the West End stage.
Extracted from Be Kind: A Tribute to Caroline Flack by Emily Herbert, published by Ad Lib, £8.99. Copyright © 2020 Emily Herbert.