■ The Strictly winner, 33, on hosting the show’s live tour, becoming a dad and running as Santa in aid of Great Ormond Street
Why are you encouraging people to do a fun run dressed as Father Christmas?
It’s the Great Ormond Street Hospital Santa Dash around London’s Clapham Common. It’s a fundraising day for the hospital. We’re trying to get thousands of people to run 5k or 10k around the common dressed as Santa, which will be a sight, to raise money for these amazing kids who need all the help we can give them.
Does running while dressed as Santa Claus increase the risk of injury?
It’s happened before — the suits are provided, it’s a hat and a Santa jacket and people run marathons in much heavier garments than that. There’s a brass band playing and they get a non-alcoholic mulled drink and a mince pie. It’s a chance for families to get out and have a bit of fun and all the money goes to a great cause.
Do you run many 10Ks?
I’m not a runner myself. I’ve covered the London Marathon many times and thought it’s something I should do but I’ve never done it. This is just about having a good time — you don’t need to sprint it. I’ve gone to Great Ormond Street Hospital, met some of the kids and seen how the place very quickly becomes a home to them.
Has Christmas lost its religious significance?
Christmas has a different meaning for everyone. For me, it’s a chance to spend time together with my family and the people I love — and it’s our son’s first Christmas, which brings a new dynamic to it in our house.
Will you be dressing him up like a reindeer?
His mum and granny have already decided what he’s wearing. I think it could be quite elaborate. Maybe a Father Christmas outfit before lunch and then a reindeer outfit afterwards and maybe a North Star outfit to finish the day. Whatever he’ll be wearing, he’ll be seriously cute. My wife [Portia] has already bought the Christmas Babygros — I think she bought them in July. She’s really looking forward to it. Our whole family is excited to have another addition around the table.
Has fatherhood changed you?
I feel my life has been preparing me for it. It’s the role I’ve been looking forward to my whole life. The sense of responsibility — everything my wife and I do is for him now. It’s about giving him the best possible life.
Are you looking forward to presenting the Strictly tour?
Absolutely — and I want to bring my dancing shoes to the party. It’s such an amazing show and I loved being a contestant. Having a chance to host the tour and meet the fans who have made the show what it is for 15 years is really special. Having been there and done it I know what the couples have been through from August to Christmas. It’s intense. Your life becomes this Strictly bubble. I know what they feel like. We did 30 shows last year and I could have done 100 more. I had the best time.
What impact did winning it have on your career?
You’re invited into people’s homes every Saturday to take part in a show that people really love. It’s an amazing launch pad and then it’s up to you to use it how you want to use it. Here we are two years later and I’m hosting the tour. I’ve been a fan of the show since it started, I’ve watched every series since 2004, and being part of it feels like family. Everyone involved in it has become a good friend. It’s a show with so many loyal fans I’ve been really fortunate that they’ve come with me. I’ve done the royal wedding in May, hosted two Saturday night quiz shows — Strictly was able to open a lot of doors.
What career ambitions do you have?
I’m living the dream at the moment. I have a lot of variety and I enjoy the work I’m getting. I’m sitting in for Sara Cox on Radio 2 over Christmas before she takes over the drive-time show. Radio 2 is always on in our house and it’s a nice time to do it — when people are hanging out at home grazing their way through Quality Street with Radio 2 on in the background. There will be Christmas tunes aplenty. And I’ve always wanted to host game shows so hopefully I can continue doing that. I’ve never been more at home than hosting the Strictly tour — getting the chance to dance and sing the odd note.
What’s the worst job you’ve had?
I worked picking and packing leaflets in a factory when I first left school. There was a huge table with loads of leaflets on it and you had to pick up a certain amount and put them in a box. I remember falling asleep at the packing table when I was standing up. I lasted one day. I was temping. The agency said, ‘Please just last for one day if you can.’ When I made it past 4.30pm, I knew I wasn’t going to go back in the morning.
Oduba officially starts the London Santa Dash in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity on Sunday. Sign up at gosh.org/santadash