Stacey Dooley has said taking part in Strictly Come Dancing has given her such a love for dance that she watches video of Shirley Ballas on her phone during tea breaks.
The documentary filmmaker is the bookies’ favourite to triumph in the live final, where she will compete against Joe Sugg, Faye Tozer and Ashley Roberts to lift the glitterball trophy.
The broadcaster, who has made documentaries for the BBC about subjects including child labour and women in developing countries, said she was happy the series has given her the chance to show a different side of herself and now enjoys watching videos of the head judge when she was a Latin champion.
She said: “The lovely thing for me personally is you’re able to have conversations with the general public about lighter, celebratory things.
“Sometimes work is so intense and can be so harrowing, it’s very serious and it has to be, the subjects are very dark a lot of time.
“So for me it’s just been people stopping me in Sainsbury’s saying ‘I loved your samba, when you had feathers coming out of every part of your body’. Or when they say ‘I danced to that song at my wedding’ and they are so invested and I have loved it.
“I really didn’t realise I would love it this much. I love dancing, I love ballroom dancing.
“Sometimes Kev (her professional partner Kevin Clifton) walks in and I’m making a tea and watching ballroom dancing on my phone like a complete lunatic, or Shirley Ballas in the 80s, she was amazing.”
The four remaining couples will each perform three times during the glittering finale – a judges’ pick dance, their own favourite routine from the series and a new show dance.
Dooley said: “I feel good, I feel calm. I just want to go into this final with no real expectations in terms of what is going to happen, I want it to feel like a massive party.
“We have had such an incredible couple of months, all of us, so I want us to come together collectively and celebrate.”
Speaking about her plans for the future after the show wraps up, Dooley said: “I am a documentary maker who makes serious programmes but I also am just a young girl who enjoys the entertainment side of things so ideally would do a bit of both in an ideal world.
She joked: “Also I’ve got to take into consideration that Strictly are probably going to ask me to be a professional next year so from September to about December I will be wrapped up with that.”
Dooley admitted she had “totally underestimated” the workload of Strictly and added: “I didn’t realise. I’ve been asked to do lots of different shows and I’ve always said Strictly is the only one I would do because it’s such a classy show.
“It’s the biggest show on telly, there is a really nice feel about Strictly, it’s not cheap, it’s brilliant so I thought it will be great, I will be in the UK for a couple of months, I will stop before Christmas, I will dance for six hours a day, perfect.
“But you train for like 12 hours a day, everything hurts, you’re in bits, you don’t know the routine, you’re driving yourself loopy, it’s a hard gig but it’s so worthwhile.”
The Strictly Come Dancing final is on BBC One at 6.30pm.