Strictly’s Eddie Kadi ‘feels’ presence of late grandma and she’s supporting him

Strictly star Eddie Kadi reckons his late grandma is supporting him from beyond the grave as he bids to lift the Glitterball.

And the comedian even feels her presence when he steps into the studio. In his most candid chat yet, he reveals: "My grandma died a few years ago. But whether I see her or not, I always feel her. She has travelled the world with me. I’ve always taken her with me. I am an extension of my grandma, so is my mum."

Eddie shared a very close bond with his gran and she was a big inspiration for him as a child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"We were very close when I was growing up,” says the 40-year-old. "She pretty much raised me until I was nine and came to the UK. I loved her so much. She was my best friend. She could do no wrong in my eyes. She was so joyful and she was my biggest protector.

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"She always said, 'I want you to experience things I’ve never experienced'. So me doing this show would be beyond her wildest dreams. Eddie is hoping to do a dance routine in her honour during his time on the BBC One show.

He says: "Every time I dance, I think, ‘I am representing my grandma’. I would love to do a ballroom or a Latin moment that I could dedicate to her. I’m doing this for her. It’s a full circle moment."

Last week Eddie ended up joint ninth on the leaderboard after scoring 22 points for his quickstep with pro partner Karen Hauer. But doing the show in honour of his grandma means there is extra pressure to perform well, and Karen, 41, has been helping calm his nerves.

"We have a technique to help me deal with nerves. I breathe in twice and then breathe out," he explains. You can’t help but be nervous. Being nervous shows you’re taking it seriously. If you’re too confident, then you’re being blase.

"It’s about finding a balance. Karen said to me, ‘'You have to understand that the people at home want joy so just enjoy it, don’t overthink it'. Last week I did a quick prayer to God during my dance. I was doing the quickstep and I said, 'Sorry God, take care of me'."

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Despite his jitters, Eddie wouldn’t swap his spot on Strictly. He adds: "There’s nothing I would rather be doing than Strictly right now. It’s like, 'Hey, what’s the worst that can happen?'" As well as his stand-up – he is the first black British comedian to have headlined London’s O2 Arena – he has also been carving out a radio and screen career.

He appeared on panel show Sorry, I Didn’t Know plus had film roles in 2011’s Anuvahood and follow-up Sumotherhood, which is out next month. And now Strictly is set to turn him into a household name, he is hoping to be as big as the show’s former host, the late Sir Bruce Forsyth.

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Eddie says: "When I was growing up, Bruce was on Saturday nights. I used to watch The Generation Game. He’s one of the people that gave me inspiration. At the time, I didn’t realise he was inspiring me. It was only when I got older that I realised I would love to be like him. I would love to follow in Brucie’s footsteps.

"When I started on Strictly, I was like, 'Oh my God, Bruce Forsyth walked these floors’. It’s amazing.'." Many of his Strictly rivals are also heroes to him. Eddie admits: "When I’m on the show, I’m trying to get the steps right but then I look up and see Les Dennis and Angela Rippon. These are people I grew up watching. I am living the dream."

Strictly Come Dancing continues Saturday night at 6.20pm on BBC One

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