Arlene Phillips 'questioned everything' after finding out she'd lost 'Strictly'

·3-min read
Arlene Phillips (Getty)
Arlene Phillips (Getty)

Legendary choreographer Arlene Phillips says she had to find herself again after finding out she'd lost her Strictly role when Radio 5 Live called her for comment.

The theatre director and former dancer, who was on the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel from 2005-2009, said she questioned everything after losing the role.

Speaking to Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time, Phillips also said the entertainment business has highs and lows that are not understood.

She said: “I think there’s a very large lack of understanding of what it's like to be in entertainment. Everybody loves you.

WATCH: Arlene Phillips opens up on how it felt to become a Dame

“You’re heralded, you can do no wrong. You’re asked to do all kinds of things that you probably know nothing about simply because you're in entertainment. Then suddenly with one fell swoop, when you’re removed from a certain role, it's like that.”

Phillips, who is only the second choreographer to be made a Dame, spoke of how she brought herself back from losing her role on the hit BBC dance show.

Read more: Arlene Phillips turned down Strictly three times

“What you lose is the belief in yourself. You question every little thing you’ve ever done, ever said. And then... I started comparing myself, what did I miss out on?” she continued.

LONDON - JANUARY 21:  (UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS OUT) 'Strictly Come Dancing' judges Bruno Tonioli and Arlene Phillips arrive at the after party following the UK premiere of
'Strictly Come Dancing' judges Bruno Tonioli and Arlene Phillips pictured together at an event in 2007 (Claire Greenway/Getty Images)

“Gradually you realise it’s just a job and you just step forward and step out of that mirror and go to the next one. The feeling of failing is an awful feeling and I spend my life trying to build confidence in people.

“It’s so important. It's the best thing that you can give a child, it’s the best thing you can give to human beings. To be able to just feel confident no matter what happens, is like the gift of life.”

Listen: Arlene Phillips talks about campaigning with Andrew Lloyd Webber

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The pair talked about how they supported each other through their own situations on Strictly arena tours shortly after the birth of Thornton’s baby.

Read more: Arlene Phillips 'didn't have the strength' to fight BBC during 'Strictly' ageism row

“It was really interesting watching you go through that whole pregnancy and then motherhood, your relationship. You were actually going through a lot of stuff in the time that we spent together, I realise that now. In my own time I'd gone through a lot of stuff,” Phillips said to the host.

She added: “They talk about people being cancelled today. It’s hard. Not because you have lost that job or because you’re not wanted for the job.

Arlene Phillips attending the Only Fools and Horses the Musical opening night at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Tuesday February 19, 2019. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Arlene Phillips attending the Only Fools and Horses the Musical opening night, 2019 (Ian West/PA Wire)

“That isn’t what's hard. It's the way suddenly you're elbowed out of the way like you’re nobody. You think, well who was I? What happened to that person?

“Am I still that person because I'm not made to feel like I’m the same person. It takes a lot of strength to build up.

“You supported me to find myself, to find who I am.

“Because suddenly when everybody suddenly ignores you, and it happens in a second, it’s like ‘oh well who was I and where will I find I’m still that bouncy person’?”

Hear Arlene talk about what it was like to work with Whitney Houston, Diana Ross and more in the new episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on Apple podcasts and Spotify.

WATCH: Arlene Phillips on making music videos with Elton John, Freddie Mercury, Whitney Houston and Diana Ross

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