Take That’s Howard Donald on why he won’t do Strictly Come Dancing

Take That star Howard Donald said he has turned down Strictly Come Dancing a few times because he “doubts his own ability” to get through the gruelling rehearsal schedule.

The singer was speaking after he was revealed to have been Zip in ITV’s The Masked Dancer at the weekend.

The 53-year-old came third during Saturday night’s finale of the series, which was won by former gymnast Louis Smith, who was disguised as Carwash and was crowned Strictly champion in 2012.

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Asked if he would now do more reality TV shows, Donald told PA news agency: “I’d obviously want to do dancing, because the dancing is the thing and that is my thing and singing isn’t my thing. I can sing, of course, but dancing is my thing.

“I’ve been asked many years, probably for the past three or four years, maybe even longer than that, to do Strictly and I’ve always turned it down, because I’ve always said I’m not really sure if I’ve got the work ethic in me to actually be rehearsing.

“And if you want to do well in that competition, you have got to be on it, and that is probably one of my favourite kind of dances – Latin American – because it’s so difficult, so physical. And I do sort of doubt my own ability to be able to get through that sort of competition over four or five weeks, you know it’s hard core.”

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Competing alongside Donald’s character Zip in The Masked Dancer on Saturday was the show’s runner-up, Squirrel, who was revealed to be actress Bonnie Langford.

The 56-year-old theatre and soap star shocked the panel of Jonathan Ross, Davina McCall, Mo Gilligan, Oti Mabuse and guest Holly Willoughby when she was unveiled after a performance which included some high leg kicks and ended with her doing the splits.

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Donald said he had “mixed emotions” after being unmasked.

“It’s kind of a relief, also quite emotional as well,” he said. “It’s funny, because you’ve been watching yourself for a full week on TV and then all of a sudden it stops.

“You’ve had this game going on with different people and following people on social media, especially the fans – ‘Who is it, is it you?’ ‘Is it Olly Murs?’ ‘I think you’re Carwash’, all this sort of stuff going on. You’re so dying to say something, but you know, be calm.

“(And) Even to your own families. Obviously my wife knew about it. I told my two daughters I was on it, but I never told them who I was because I wanted them to experience it”.

The Masked Dancer – ITV
Zip on ITV’s The Masked Dancer was later revealed to be Take That star Howard Donald (ITV/PA)

The pop star said the character’s breakdancing and shoes were also clues to his real identity.

“I made my addition of breakdancing just to sort of give away a little bit of a clue, and it was a massive clue in retrospect, because I’m guessing probably 70%-80% of the fans on social media follow me or follow Take That, they guessed me,” he said.

“They’ve been watching me (for) 30 years and they know certain styles and breakdancing moves… Some even said even when I walked on stage they knew it was me.

“And the Converse gave it away because every time the other guys wear their smart suits and they wear nice, shiny leather shoes or boots, I always wear Converse, because I don’t like wearing shoes.”

Other celebrities taking part in The Masked Dancer included Kelly Brook (Frog), Burlesque star Dita Von Teese (Beetroot) and Radio 2 DJ Zoe Ball (Llama).