Strictly Come Dancing: The Official Podcast from BBC Sounds returned for its first live show on Sunday, ahead of the TV show’s 21st season, which is coming back later this week. The companion podcast caters to all Strictly fans, both die-hard and casual viewers, and has built a community where listeners can share their thoughts about the show with the hosts.
PodPod interviewed the show's co-host, YouTuber and actor Joe Sugg, about his move into podcasting, the advice he wished he received when he first started out, and how he learned to get over freezing up when interviewing his celebrity heroes.
How would you describe the podcast?
As part of the big Strictly machine, there are so many different ways to get things you didn't know from the celebrities, whereas I like to think that with the podcast, we're trying to get even more behind the scenes. So for example, earlier on we were recording some links. We were sat in the boys’ dressing room, and there was a pair of old smelly socks next to Kim on the sofa.
We were trying to work out whose they were; turns out, they were Neil Jones’, because he could hear us outside, and he came in. So it's like a behind-the-scenes of the behind-the-scenes, in a sense, and we play fun little games with the couples and just sort of try and give a little bit extra on the podcast to people that want even more of a Strictly fix.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started?
I feel like I did get really good advice when I first started, so I feel quite lucky with that. I've been a guest on some podcasts before, but not so much hosted a podcast. In a way, I think it's more on the presenter side, which is something that was a little bit out of my comfort zone initially. But also with a podcast, you don't want to be straight-up presenter-y.
Sometimes, I feel like some of the best moments are just after you stop recording, and then you get an absolutely beautiful bit of something afterwards. So now I feel like I've learned to keep the mics rolling as long as possible. If you had a chat normally and pretended it wasn't a podcast, that's when you get the real, natural, good stuff. I'm always learning to be better each year, but we're getting there; I’m definitely feeling a bit more confident as the years go on.
How many people does it take to create an episode of your show?
I've been on the set of quite a few different shows now, and they're all amazing, but there's something about Strictly; it blows my mind how well run it is in terms of the logistical side of it. If I had anything to do on that side of things, it would be quite daunting and scary.
There’s also a social media team. My year was probably one of the first years they brought in the social media arm - so it’s ever-evolving and it's a beast. What I do love about this show as well is, I’m here today to record the first bit of the podcast, and coming back here and seeing everybody, it's like once a year you get to meet up with all your old schoolmates. It really is that sort of feeling.
How do you promote your podcast?
Strictly definitely do their side - at the end of every episode they always plug the podcast, which is really great for us. Last year, Claudia had this thing where at the end of each show, she'd say ‘And you can now go listen to the official Strictly podcast with the glorious Joe Sugg’ and she'd always change that word to something different each week.
It got to a point where she was running out of words, so we actually put it to a poll for the listeners to come up with new words. We have an inbox where listeners can message in, and it's nice to have that. I mean, coming from my background of YouTube as well, it's always nice to have that relationship with the people that are enjoying your content.
Who listens to your podcast?
Initially, it was more the sort of die-hard Strictly fans that just want to get every bit of Strictly content. They want to really get to know these new batch of celebs and feel like they're going on that journey with them. I do feel like as the years have gone on, I think it's become more and more broad.
Podcasting is getting bigger and bigger as the years go on and it's becoming such a big platform for so many different types of shows. I feel like it is obviously attracting that [die-hard] Strictly audience, but I think hopefully, we're getting to the point where it's starting to really establish itself now and reach out to quite a big portion of that [general] Strictly audience.
What have you learned about yourself since starting your podcast?
I've definitely learned how to feel more at ease and comfortable with interviewing somebody. There was a time where I worried that I might freeze up and that I might be reading off the question sheet, whereas I've always wanted it to feel a lot smoother than that. This year, it's definitely been a lot easier.
I feel like I've learned that they're all just as nervous as you are, because they're about to go and do this new thing that's completely out of their comfort zone, so I feel like I'm getting it. I think especially with how me and Kim work as hosts, even going back to the first series compared to now, when you work with someone for that long it gets so much easier and there’s more chemistry there.
What was the last podcast you listened to?
The last podcast I listened to was Athletico Mince with Bob Mortimer and Andy Dawson. When I think of ones that are sort of half an hour of just comedy bonkers, it's things like that.
That's very much a podcast that my dad has put me on to - my dad's also a big podcast listener, so we sort of share podcasts, and he's really into that kind of comedy.