When politics meets reality TV: Strictly's Ed Balls to follow several other politicians to give it a go


Ed Balls has been confirmed as the first celebrity to be appearing on the forthcoming series of BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.

The former shadow chancellor, 49, has joked that his stint on the popular programme could be down to a midlife crisis and has also said he could "do with losing half a stone".

Ed Balls to appear on Strictly Come Dancing
Ed Balls is to appear on Strictly Come Dancing (Tom White/PA)

But he is not the first politician to take part in a British reality TV series: He is following in the fancy footsteps of three others to appear on Strictly, and several more have appeared on rival TV shows.

1. Edwina Currie doubles up with Strictly Come Dancing and I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! appearances

Edwina Currie
Edwina Currie on I'm A Celebrity in 2014 (ITV/PA)

Former Conservative MP Edwina Currie appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2011 and I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! in 2014.

She did not fare so well on Strictly as she was the first contestant to be eliminated from the competition.

During her time in the jungle for the ITV reality series three years later, Edwina argued with fellow camper Kendra Wilkinson and was involved in a task that saw her covered in gunge. She came fourth.

2. Ann Widdecombe's Strictly success story

Ann Widdecombe
Ann Widdecombe on Strictly Come Dancing in 2010 (Guy Levy/BBC Pictures/PA)

Ann Widdecombe was a contestant of the 2010 series of Strictly Come Dancing, which saw her partnered with professional dancer Anton du Beke.

The former Conservative MP became an unlikely success story for the comedy element in her dance routines and kept her place in the competition until week 10.

3. Vince Cable shows off his fancy footwork in Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas special

Vince Cable
Vince Cable on the BBC Christmas Strictly special in 2010 (Guy Levy/BBC Pictures/PA)

Former business secretary Sir Vince Cable took part in the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special in 2010 after previously admitting to having a "serious ambition" to appear on the ballroom dancing programme.

While he did not win, he was awarded an impressive 36 out of 40 points for his fancy footwork with professional dancer Erin Boag.

4. George Galloway's cat impression on Celebrity Big Brother

George Galloway
George Galloway on Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 4/PA)

Former London mayoral candidate George Galloway made headlines when he appeared in Celebrity Big Brother in 2006 and imitated a cat during a task.

The then Respect MP crawled on all fours, purred and pretended to lick cream from the hands of actress Rula Lenska as she stroked his head.

He was largely criticised for his actions.

5. Nadine Dorries' troublesome I'm A Celebrity stint

Nadine Dorries
Nadine Dorries took part in I'm A Celebrity in 2012 (Steve Parsons/PA)

Nadine Dorries took part in I'm A Celebrity back in 2012, the first sitting MP to appear on the show, but was suspended by the Conservative Party for her appearance.

She later apologised to the Commons over the fee she was paid for appearing in the popular programme, which saw her become the first contestant to be voted out of the jungle by the public.

6. Lembit Opik's jungle bid flops

Lembit Opik
Lembit Opik appeared on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! (ITV/Rex Features/PA)

In 2010, former MP Lembit Opik became the second campmate to be voted from I'm A Celebrity.

The Liberal Democrat survived for two weeks in the Australian jungle, during which time he was bitten by a snake while completing a task.

Lembit has also appeared on celebrity versions of The Apprentice and Come Dine With Me.

7. Winston McKenzie sparks controversy in Celebrity Big Brother

Celebrity Big Brother 2016
Winston McKenzie appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in January 2016 (Ian West/PA)

Former Ukip spokesman Winston McKenzie was one of the most controversial contestants to appear in the Celebrity Big Brother house in January 2016.

The politician, who has previously run for London mayor, sparked over 400 complaints from viewers over homophobic comments he made in his pre-recorded launch show interview. He was the first to be evicted from the Channel 5 reality show house.

8. Robert Kilroy-Silk's early exit from I'm A Celebrity

Robert Kilroy-Silk
Robert Kilroy-Silk on I'm A Celebrity in 2008 (ITV/Rex Features/PA)

Robert Kilroy-Silk had an unsuccessful stint in the I'm A Celebrity jungle in 2008.

The former MEP and chat-show host survived just 12 days in the jungle after going up against former Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick in the public vote.