BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker has said his time on Strictly Come Dancing gave him a new appreciation for the skill of professional dancers.
Presenting the morning news show for the first time since his elimination from the competition on Sunday night, the 44-year-old admitted he had felt “closed off” from dancing for many years.
He and professional partner Nadiya Bychkova, 32, missed out a coveted spot in this week’s semi-final after losing the dance-off to AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said: “We get to see people at the very top of their games in sport and in all sorts of areas of life.
“I had no appreciation of how good pro dancers were until I saw it up close and personal and started trying to learn it myself.
“They’re just so good at what they do.
“I appreciate what dancing is all about now and for many years… (I felt) closed off from that world.”
Walker said it had been a “privilege” to be part of the much-loved dancing competition, and thanked BBC viewers for the support they gave to him and Bychkova.
“I know there’s some people that get angry every week that we managed to stay in but the overwhelming love and the lovely comments have far outweighed all of that,” he said.
“I think the right people are in the semi-finals, the best four dancers in the competition. My time had come to an end, there’s no way I could compete.
“But to get to the quarter-finals of Strictly having never danced before when I started is amazing and that’s all down to Nadiya, who is just brilliant.
“I feel that it’s always been a privilege to be part of the biggest show on telly, other than BBC Breakfast of course.”
Four couples – TV presenter Odudu and Widdrington, EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice, Bake Off winner John Whaite and Johannes Radebe, and CCBC host Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu – remain in the competition for the semi-finals
Walker said he had “loved every second” of Strictly but “need(ed) a rest now.”
“My body’s given up,” he said.
“It lasted eight weeks – a lot longer than I thought it would – but it’s been great.
“It’s an entertainment programme, isn’t it, and I told Nadiya the first day we started ‘I want you to enjoy this as much as I will and I will love every second of it’, and I have.”
The pair will appear on Strictly spin-off It Takes Two on Monday.
– The Strictly Come Dancing semi-final airs on December 11 at 7.05pm, with the results show on December 12 at 7.20pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.