Strictlys oldest-ever contestant Angela Rippon proves age is just a number

Angela Rippon recalls sweet moment with Kai

Strictly’s oldest-ever contestant Angela Rippon says keeping her famous pins flexible meant she could high-kick her way back into the headlines.

And the former newsreader reckons her dazzling performance on Saturday night’s show proves age is just a number.

The presenter, who turns 79 in a fortnight, pulled off a gravity-defying standing split at the end of her routine with Kai Widdrington, 28.

It was almost 50 years on from another big TV moment – when she put in the legwork for a star turn on the Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show in 1976.

In her first newspaper interview since her Strictly performance, Angela said: “I’m feeling absolutely fine. I am reasonably fit for my age – and very flexible. That helps! My legs? It’s a party trick. I am lucky I am able to touch my nose with my knee.”

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Angela was 31 and presenting BBC One’s Nine O’Clock News when her high-kicks on Eric and Ernie’s Christmas special first stunned the nation.

The sketch, consistently voted one of TV’s most memorable moments, starts with her reading the news before she pushes back the desk and breaks into a ­sizzling dance routine in a tight-fitting ivory dress.

Angela said: “It’s incredible to think it was almost 50 years ago and yet people still remember.”

The skit made her an instant sex symbol – and fans reckon her Strictly routine shows she still has what it takes.

Angela said: “Sex symbol? It’s a huge compliment, but a big surprise. I am enormously flattered. I mean, who wouldn’t be?

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“I was very nervous before Saturday night because this is off-the-scale compared to anything I have done. But I decided it’s a privilege at my age and I am wearing the fact I’m 78 as a badge of honour.

“You can’t write people off because of what it says on their birth certificate. I am a great advocate for our ageing population.

“And if you are able to do something that is fun and not a chore, like ­dancing, and I can get that across – well, that will be my glitterball trophy right there.”

Plymouth-born Angela is determined to keep up the hard work. She said: “I am in the ­studio six hours a day and it’s a physical effort.

“But I am loving every second of it and learning so much. It’s great for the body and mind and the whole thing is bringing me unbridled joy. I hope some of that inspires others and shows that your senior years don’t have to be isolated and lonely. They can be happy.”

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