BBC Strictly’s Angela Rippon ‘caught’ Kai Widdrington ‘muttering’ about her age

Angela Rippon made history as Strictly’s oldest-ever contestant, as the BBC presenter turned 79 while competing with Kai Widdrington, who is 51 years her junior, in the 2023 series. Despite the pair getting on very well, Angela has now admitted how she once “caught” the professional dancer “muttering” about her age behind-the-scenes.

Opening up about their unlikely friendship, the Rip Off Britain host shared that she and Kai “clicked immediately” when they were partnered up in Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom before the series began. However, since the couple’s Strictly elimination, Angela revealed the thought has crossed her mind about whether Kai, 28, may have had his reservations about dancing with a 79-year-old woman.

Reminiscing on the moment they first met, Angela exclusively told “When I realised it was Kai, I mean, we just clicked immediately.

“And, you know, he is 28 and I’m 79, and I have thought, subsequently, I wonder when they told this really gorgeous young man, ‘you’ve got Angela Rippon’, he would have discovered very quickly I was 79 and I wonder if he thought, ‘Oh God, I got the old bird!’

“I didn’t have any qualms at all, but I did wonder whether or not he might have had in the way that darling Anton [Du Beke] was always dancing with older people. I wondered if he thought, ‘oh, gosh, you know, they’ve given me this old bird to dance with!’”

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Despite pondering the subject, Angela explained she’s never asked Kai about his first impressions of being paired with her on Strictly.

She added: “So I never actually asked him, and he’s always said the age difference never made any difference to us, because we’ve had such fun, we laugh a lot together, we enjoy each other’s company.

“I adore his partner, Nadiya [Bychkova], who is absolutely super. And collectively, we’ve just become very, very good friends, and the question of age has never really come up.

“But I must ask him some time, ‘did you think, oh I’ve got this 79 year old woman, what the heck are we going to do?’

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“But it worked out well because he’s a terrific teacher and I just loved working with him. And I think the feeling was mutual, because we had a lot of fun!”

Angela went on to reveal that the subject of her age only came up once during her rehearsals with Kai for Blackpool Week, where the couple eventually lost out in the dance-off to finalists Bobby Brazier and Dianne Buswell.

Reflecting on the discovery, the star chuckled: “I did catch him on one occasion, when we were doing the last dance that we did when we were at Blackpool – I had to do that lift at the end with the other dancers, where they sort of threw me up in the air and turned me over.

“And I did hear him mutter, ‘she’s 79!’ In, kind of, shock! And when I was doing the double splits in the Rumba and he said, ‘I can’t believe I’m asking a 79 year old woman to do the splits!’

“That was the only time this type of question has come up, then I think he dismissed it because I did do it!”

Amazon is working with Angela Rippon to raise awareness of the power of technology to help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. The study, which provided Amazon Echo devices to people aged 65+ across the UK finds that 81% of elderly people felt less alone by using an Alexa-enabled device.

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