Strictly’s Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly have joint pact on quitting show
Strictly Come Dancing’s long-standing hosts Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly have made a joint pact on when they will step down from the show.
Since working together on the BBC’s flagship reality series, the pair have struck up a close friendship and say they cannot imagine continuing without each other.
Claudia, 49, and Tess, 52, have fronted the show since 2014, when Tess’ original co-host Bruce Forsyth stood down.
At the time Claudia was presenting weeknight spin-off It Takes Two and jumped at the chance to front the main show with Tess.
A female primetime presenting primetime duo was a dream to Claudia.
“I am totally happy where I am at. I am not at the top but I am incredibly grateful for what I have,” she admitted on the Is It Just Me? podcast in 2019.
“Imposter syndrome, I’ve got it in capital letters,” added the humble star.
During the same interview, Claudia let slip some details of her do-or-die pact with Tess about when they will both leave the award-winning series.
“Tess and I will leave at the same time,” she said. “We’ve made that pact over pizza. We’ll go together, whenever they’re done with us.
“Even if they phoned me now and said, ‘You’re done’, I’d still think I have had the best career possible.”
Despite the agreement, Claudia admitted she almost went back on her word to pack in the show during a tearful phone call to producers.
The star was pushed to breaking point when she feared her duties on Strictly would keep her away from her children at a milestone moment.
Claudia told BBC bosses that she refused to work a certain date because it fell on the same day she was due to take her eldest son to university.
The mum-of-three said she was determined to be with 18-year-old Jake on his first day as a fresher because it is ‘something parents have to go through.’
Admitting there were ‘plenty of tears’ during her ultimatum phone call, Claudia said she told BBC boss Sarah James “I’m out” after hearing the uni start date clashed with filming.
Recalling her emotional turmoil on BBC Four’s Women’s Hour, Claudia said: “I phoned the boss of Strictly quite dramatically and said, through tears, ‘Sarah I love you.
“I don’t want to leave Strictly and Tess [Daly] and I have agreed we will leave together when they’re done with us, but if the first show is September 13, I’m out and you’ll have to go with somebody else.
‘And there was a beat. And she said, ‘Quite dramatic. We don’t start that week.”
“I was like, “alright”. I have to go and put up his posters. It’s not that I love him more than others love their kids, but this is something parents have to go through.”
Claudia and husband of 21-years Kris Thykier are parents to Jake, Matilda, 15, and Arthur, 10.
Strictly began broadcasting on BBC One in May 2004 with Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly hosts.
While Bruce was a showbiz legend with decades of experience under his belt, Tess was then a relative newcomer with her biggest role to date presenting Saturday morning kids’ show SM:TV live.
Strictly’s series one winner Natasha Kaplinsky took over from Tess to present for the first five weeks of series two, when she was on maternity leave.
Due to illness, Bruce temporarily stood down from hosting duties 2009 with comedian Ronnie Corbett taking his place.
Zoe Ball, a contestant in series 3, also stood in for several episodes.
From series 8 onwards, Claudia joined Tess on the results show before joining the main Saturday night show from series 11 following Bruce’s departure.