GABBY LOGAN: Why did Strictly viewers love my husband for being so keen to win but hate ME for the same reason?
You cannot please all the people all the time – and never has that been more apparent to me than when I took part in Strictly Come Dancing.
I loved learning to dance and applied myself in my usual ‘Gabby’ way, focused, sure that hard work and determination would see me through. I was happy to go as far as my talent and tenacity would let me. I wanted to soak it all up.
Wrong approach, Gabs.
It was 2007, the internet was really taking off with chatrooms and forums – and it soon became clear that I was not a favourite with the viewers.
‘There’s something I just don’t like about her,’ wrote one chatroom user. ‘Yeah, she’s just too competitive,’ another agreed.
Folks, let’s be clear. I wasn’t saying things like ‘I want to beat Alesha Dixon [who eventually went on to win] to a pulp after her tango today’, or ‘I’m going to put grease on Kelly Brook’s ballroom shoes before her foxtrot’.
I was just training hard, and then perhaps looking a bit too disappointed if I got a low score. Essentially, I think I was showing all the signs of being a ‘sportswoman’ – which, until 2012, was a dirty word.
Only with the London Olympics did we finally wake up to the possibility in this country of women being respected for being good at sport.
COMPETITIVE: Gabby Logan on Strictly Come Dancing
My husband Kenny, the Scottish rugby international, appeared on the same series of Strictly and he was smashing it when it came to the public vote. People loved him. He was showing all the signs of being a ‘sportsman’, of course – which was perfectly fine, a bloke apparently being competitive and training hard was OK.
Perhaps I should have been a bit more hapless or humble, displaying more of a ‘thanks for giving me this opportunity’ kind of demeanour, more what the audience at the time probably expected from a woman.
James Jordan, my dance partner, talked to me about ‘playing the game’, but I was insistent that wasn’t for me, even though I didn’t know what it meant. ‘Be yourself,’ people say. Well, I was – perhaps ‘too much’ of myself.
That period was one of the best of my professional life and simultaneously one of the most frustrating and sad. I adored every second of my time on the show. It is a total honour to get to dance with these otherworldly beings.
It was also a little strange, as a married woman, to meet your dance partner at 10am and by 10.30am find yourself crotch to crotch, practising a ‘hold’. I get why ‘things’ happen – and that people talk about the Strictly curse. But I don’t think the show can be blamed for that. If you are happy in your relationship, you’ll be fine. If there are cracks, then the show might expose them. And if you’re single, well, go on and fill your boots with some of the fittest humans on the planet.
But the experience made me examine who I was. I realised that the traits that had served me well in my sporting and broadcasting life didn’t necessarily translate to winning votes on a reality show.
Husband: Kenny Logan on Strictly Come Dancing with partner Ola Jordan in 2007
‘People really don’t like me,’ I cried into the sofa the day after I was knocked out. I had finished in the top half of the leaderboard for my samba, according to the judges, but came rock bottom with the public, before being ousted in the dance-off.
Not being liked is fairly tough to process. Maybe I needed to change myself? Surely, in my mid-30s, I wasn’t beyond a bit of ‘personality-tweaking’? Maybe I needed to be less competitive, to be more nurturing, to get more emotional when things go wrong, and to stop battling through the tough times.
My head was a mess. Did society need to catch up with powerful women and accept them in the way it did men, or did I need to change to fit in with the society I was working in? Probably a bit of both.
To become the first woman to host a live football match on television, I’d had to have the guts and determination to battle my way through a man’s world, ignoring some of the gender-based criticism levelled at me, while trying to retain the essence of what made me a woman.
Who’d have predicted that a reality dancing show on TV would throw all of that up in the air for me?
By the time Kenny and I had been trying for a baby for two years, it became clear that I was the one stopping us becoming parents.
James Jordan, my dance partner, talked to me about ‘playing the game’, but I was insistent that wasn’t for me, even though I didn’t know what it meant. ‘Be yourself,’ people say. Well, I was – perhaps ‘too much’ of myself
We tried so many things. We even got ourselves a boxer puppy – apparently, having a puppy helps conception because it brings out the caring hormones and makes the woman more likely to stay pregnant.
We had tests and investigations, only to be told: ‘Well, you are in the 20 per cent of infertile people who have no explanation for their infertility. Just keep trying.’
As a proactive person, I wanted a plan. Something that would change our circumstances. I finally got the consultant to admit that we might need ‘intervention’.
Well, why were we waiting? All that was happening was that, at 31, my eggs were getting older. I wanted to get help now.
After the normal conversations and weighing up of issues, we eventually started IVF. The weeks of hormone injections were done in secret. I carried on travelling for work and exercising and trying to be as discreet as possible.
Kenny and I used our sporting backgrounds to good effect. We’d eat our best, be as fit as we could and, come the embryo-creation day, he’d give it his best shot. If we failed we’d go again.
Everyone is different, and I know many women who hated the effect the hormones had, and even some whose relationships didn’t last the test. But I didn’t feel too bad. I was a bit weepy at times, but that was probably the stress of the subterfuge as much as anything else.
My beautiful twins Lois and Reuben were born on July 28, 2005. I stared at them in awe: two marvellous creations, perfect little people who were totally reliant on us
The embryos were implanted in November 2004 by a lovely man in Loughton in Essex with a long needle while Heart FM played loudly in the background. It took all of two minutes.
My beautiful twins Lois and Reuben were born on July 28, 2005. I stared at them in awe: two marvellous creations, perfect little people who were totally reliant on us.
I am the luckiest person in the world, because whatever I have been working on and wherever it takes me, I go home to my family – to Kenny, Reuben and Lois – and they are truly my motivation, my reason to push on and be the best example I possibly can.
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