Ed Balls: I had a responsibility to do Gangnam Style after the US election

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Ed Balls has said he felt a duty to "cheer people up" by dancing Gangnam Style on Strictly Come Dancing in the wake of the US election results.

Describing the election as "the most polarised" and "poisonous" he had ever seen, he said that events such as Strictly helped to remind people about the importance of sticking together.

The former shadow chancellor, 49, told Radio Times: "The morning after Hillary Clinton's shocking defeat I woke up and took those usual sleepy few seconds to remember why everything felt so awful.

"Of course, good grief, Donald Trump.

Ed cheered up the nation with the most anticipated dance of the series.
Ed cheered up the nation with the most anticipated dance of the series (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

"For a moment, I sat in the kitchen thinking, "Should I really be spending the day learning the salsa, let alone Gangnam Style?

"But then I looked at my phone and saw dozens of people on Twitter telling me it was only the prospect of seeing that dance on Saturday that was cheering them up."

Comparing the divisive election to the result of the EU referendum in June, he said: "We've just had the most polarised, poisonous American election in my lifetime. We've had similar tension here at home over Brexit.

"This year, people on both sides of the Atlantic have too often been at each other's throats.

Ed heads home with another Strictly triumph.
Ed heads home with another Strictly triumph (Danny Lawson/PA)

"We all need to remember that there is so much more that brings us together than drives us apart. And in a small but important way, Strictly does just that."

Describing the Strictly contestants as a miniature representation of worldwide diversity, he added: "We're different ages, colours, sexualities, from different backgrounds, and no one cares what religion we are, or which party we support.

"What we share is a love of dancing, music, laughter and entertainment, which transcends every barrier.

"So no matter how sad or fearful I felt about what had happened in America, I thought, "Go and do your bit in cheering people up and bringing them together"."

Although he has regularly come bottom of the judges' leaderboard in the show, Ed's popularity with fans has seen him through every episode of the competition, including to Blackpool last weekend, with his partner Katya Jones.

"Dancing there was a dream come true for me," he said, "something I never thought was possible at the start of the series.

"It's a long way from the Blackpool Tower to Trump Tower, but Donald could learn a thing or two by watching Strictly - not just about dance, but about what really makes a country great."

Ed features in this week's issue.
Ed features in this week's issue (Radio Times/PA)

:: Read the full article in this week's Radio Times.