Strictly’s Ellie Taylor ‘kept apologising to husband’ amid dancing success

As a comedian, actor and TV presenter – Ellie Taylor is at the top of her game. However, after an incredibly busy 12 months, which saw her foxtrot on Strictly Come Dancing, steal scenes in Ted Lasso and launch a new quiz show called Cheat with Danny Dyer, Ellie didn’t spend the summer on set. Instead, she took time out to make memories with her daughter Valentina and husband Phil Black before their new baby arrives to make them a family of four.

“We had lots of adventures as a family,” shares Ellie. “Lazy mornings in our pyjamas and lots of colouring in, I find it mindful.” They even went to their first family festival.

“Valentina absolutely loved getting all dressed up with loads of glitter, face gems and funky outfits and dancing,” smiles Ellie. “It was really special to spend that weekend with her. “We were watching Mel C playing, who was brilliant, and my four-year-old liked it at the beginning but then wanted my phone and watched CBeebies.

"I was like, ‘There’s an actual Spice Girl about 10 metres from you, you have no idea how lucky you are and you’re watching Charlie & Lola on my phone’. I thought, ‘Well, mummy is having a lovely time dancing to Spice Up Your Life.’”

Not only is Valentina getting a sibling – she’s also just started school and her first day left Ellie feeling very emotional. “You always see people go, ‘Oh, I’m going to cry on their first day,’ and I never thought I’d be like that. But I do see that it’s a big change, it does feel sad for some reason, because you are sort of waving goodbye to their little years.”

Ellie might be saying farewell to her daughter’s younger years, but she need not worry as she’s got another one on the way! Ellie announced the news on Instagram when she posted a picture of herself and her daughter kissing the bump and captioned the post, “Excited. Terrified. Grateful. Hungry.”

Strictly Come Dancing season is upon us and for most it signifies the start of autumn and means cosy evenings in front of the television. But for Ellie, it takes her right back to last year where she took to the dance floor herself and was “all-consumed” by the competition.

“It really sucked up the end of the year,” she says. “I was physically in the house sometimes, but not particularly present. It was full on, especially because I didn’t think I’d be in the show for very long.”

The star, who turns 40 next week, competed in the 20th series of the show against the likes of Fleur East, Helen Skelton, Tyler West and wildlife presenter Hamza Yassin who went on to win the Glitterball trophy. Ellie was eliminated in seventh place, and is still shocked at how far she got.

“I thought I’d be there for a maximum of three or four weeks,” she laughs. “Every week I was voted in I’d go to my husband, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t know this would happen!’.

“God knows how I managed it, but everyone was very sweet, we had lovely support. I absolutely loved it, but it is all consuming and I think it has to be. To commit to the show and do it justice, you really have to dig your heels in and get involved, and I really did. I’m really pleased with how I did, I’m really proud of myself.”

Ellie was partnered with Johannes Radebe who this year is dancing with tennis star Annabel Croft – and Ellie hopes they will be the ones to win.

“I’ll absolutely be rooting for Johannes,” confirms Ellie. “But after doing Strictly, I’ll be rooting for everybody because I know how scary it is and what it takes to do a live dance on TV every week.

“It’s so exposing and nerve-wracking. Just to do it is enough, which sounds so cliché and boring, but it really is true. It’s really tough. But of course I’d love to see Johannes win, I really would.”

Ellie’s highest score was during Halloween for the Couples Choice and says she loved “being a different character every week”, but admits she’s since decided to hang up her dancing shoes.

“After a three-month career, I’ve graciously retired from the ballroom world,” reveals Ellie. “I really enjoyed it, but nothing will be able to compete with dancing with Johannes six days a week. No evening class in a community centre on a Thursday for 90 minutes is going to do it for me.

“I was one on one with one of the best dancers in the whole wide world, I’ll leave it where it was, and it was amazing. I just remember it beautifully.”

Being a comedian, actor and presenter, Ellie truly is the triple-threat – but it was her role as Sassy in Ted Lasso that threw her into the limelight more recently.

“I’ve had quite an eclectic career so people know me from different things,” she explains. “I get some people going, ‘Are you Sassy from Ted Lasso?’. It’s quite often Americans – the show is big in the UK, but in America, it’s crazy.

“Quite often Americans approach me in odd places, like in a play park or in a dodgy little cafe like, ‘Are you Sassy?’. Someone came up to me in a toilet the other day and asked. It’s just been amazing to see how much the show captured people’s imaginations and how much joy it’s brought people. It’s lovely to be part of such a hopeful show that means a lot to people.”

Sadly, Ted Lasso came to an end in May, but it left Ellie with the opportunity for other roles, like Knuckles the live-action miniseries based on Sonic the Hedgehog with Idris Elba as Knuckles the Echidna.

“I work with a man who is moving a puppet, which will then be revoiced as Idris Elba,” laughs Ellie. “I can’t say I’ve had any interaction with Idris Elba, but it sounds good when you say, ‘I’ve had fight scenes with Idris Elba’.

“But the actual show itself, I can’t wait to see when it’s revoiced and Idris is in it. It was a fabulous show and so different to anything I’ve done before – like doing action sequences and stunts. I played a baddie, it was wicked.”

Another campaign Ellie has been working on is with Sky Protect who she’s partnered with to make sure people’s homes are safe with smart tech.

“Home insurance is a boring purchase,” admits Ellie. “It’s quite a nice challenge to make it more appealing and a bit sexier. With Sky Protect, it feels like you’re getting something even if you don’t claim, you’ve got the app and all the smart features.

“I love a bit of smart technology, anything that makes my life easier and I can boss around is nice. I like smart doorbells because I’m quite nosy. It’s just so clever. You can keep an eye on your house while you’re away, which is quite reassuring – to protect all the things that you care about.”

With all of her new projects, a four-year old and a baby on the way, Ellie has got a juggling act on her hands… “I’m like anyone who’s got a family and a job, I think everyone equally feels busy – you have to prioritise different things at different times,” she says.

"Sometimes work gets prioritised, sometimes family time, or sometimes sleep – that’s a good day. I find it funny when people say, ‘How do you juggle it?’ But honestly, who doesn’t find it tricky? Who isn’t busy these days?”

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