Strictly and EastEnders star James Bye reveals why there is ‘added pressure’ for him to reach the final

RETRANSMITTED ADDING EMBARGO EMBARGOED TO 0001 SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 17 For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only Undated BBC handout photo of James Bye, one of the contestants for this year's Strictly Come Dancing on BBC1. Issue date: Friday September 16, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SHOWBIZ Strictly. Photo credit should read: Ray Burmiston/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: Not for use more than 21 days after issue. You may use this picture without charge only for the purpose of publicising or reporting on current BBC programming, personnel or other BBC output or activity within 21 days of issue. Any use after that time MUST be cleared through BBC Picture Publicity. Please credit the image to the BBC and any named photographer or independent programme maker, as described in the caption.

EastEnders actor James Bye has revealed he is under “added pressure” to make it to the final of Strictly Come Dancing.

James, 38, who played market trader Martin Fowler in the BBC soap since 2014 has opened up about his nerves ahead of Strictly.

James has revealed there is “added pressure” on his shoulders

James as Martin Fowler in EastEnders

The family man has explained how the success of the Albert Square residents who have previously competed on the reality show is very daunting.

Asked whether he has the glitterball trophy in his sights, James said: “I’d love to get to Blackpool, then you can say you really gave it a good go. There is also the added pressure that the last three people from EastEnders have been in the final!”

James is of course referring to Rose Ayling-Ellis, who played Frankie on the show, who won last year with Giovanni Pernice.

Prior to that, in 2021, Maisie Smith, aka Tiffany Butcher Baker, was runner-up, while in 2020, Honey Mitchell actress Emma Barton finished third.

And even those Walford favourites who didn’t make the final made quite the impression.

James revealed: “My best friend, Davood Ghadami [Kush Kazemi] was on the show years ago, and I came to watch and he was great. I remember him doing the Paso Doble and that did look good.

“At the time I wound him up about it, but I was really proud of him. Also Jake Wood, when he did the snake hips to Mambo No. 5, that was a million miles from Max Branning.”

James also sang the praises of reigning champion Rose.

“When the music dropped I think she brought the nation to tears,” he said. “It was beautiful and she is such an incredible human being.”

As for any advice his co-stars past and present have given him, James told how they have all their wise words are “pretty much the same”.

He added: When I was announced I had lots of people calling me, Brian Conley, Tameka Empson and obviously Davood. The advice to be honest, was pretty much the same and it was just enjoy yourself and embrace it.

“It’s completely different to anything else. I think Brian’s words were ‘You’re never going to have an experience like it, so just don’t miss a beat, just go with it’, and I’m really going to hold on to that.”

Of course juggling a full time role on the soap with Strictly’s intense training schedule isn’t easy, but James has worked with EastEnders bosses to make sure he can do both.

He told HOAR Online: “As far as I’m aware at the minute they’re going to quieten me down as much as possible.

“I’m still going to be in the show, but the beauty is that we film across the road [from Strictly studios] so as soon as I’m finished filming I can shoot over to this and rehearse.

“We’re just going to have to find time where we can to start with, but they’re really understanding at EastEnders, they’re brilliant at that.”

James with best pal Davood

James cosies up to wife Victoria

Rose and Giovanni are a tough act to follow