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Tess Daly on Strictly Come Dancing and her shoe collection

You’re promoting tights…

I’m an ambassador for Scholl’s Light Legs and I’m a big fan of their products. I use their insoles in my high heels because I couldn’t go eight-hour days in them and still have a smile on my face otherwise.

Are you fussy about your shoes on Strictly?

I can’t wear an overly high heel — anything over four inches and I’m pushing my luck because I have to run on and off set and dash between cables. It would end in tears. I once lost a shoe coming down the stairs but I’ve not fallen over yet.

Did you have any shoe-related disasters when modelling?

I did a Vivienne Westwood show once and those shoes were notorious. I had to walk in a pair of eight-inch platforms and you had to walk and turn. It’s an art balancing on those.

Do you have a big shoe collection?

I archive mine. I’ve got 130 pairs in storage that I’ve kept in case my daughters want to wear them one day. I’m a great fan of the British high street — we have the best high-street shopping in the world. My sister lives in New Zealand and there were street parties when they got an H&M. So I’m usually high-street but go a bit high-end with shoes.

Do you have a favourite designer?

Sophia Webster does beautiful things with butterflies but then you don’t want to walk in them because they’re like works of art. Here’s a tip: ladies, if you’re shopping for outfits for weddings this summer, buy high heels in a half-size bigger. That’s what I do and they’re more comfortable.

Are you looking forward to Shirley Ballas joining the Strictly panel?

I can’t wait to meet her. She’s one of the most successful Latin American champions ever. She’s trained so many winners. She’s replacing Len Goodman as head judge and she’ll be firm but fair and fierce and fabulous. She has unshakable credentials and I’m thrilled to welcome another lady to the panel.

How has Strictly changed your life?

It’s been so long I can’t remember my life before Strictly. I was pregnant with my first child during the first series, I had her, then six weeks later I was doing the second series. Natasha Kaplinsky presented the first half of that series while I recovered from childbirth, then I went back. It was quite incredible for them to swap hosts midway through that run and I really appreciate that loyalty. It’s quite rare for that to happen. Strictly’s been part of my children’s lives since they were in the womb. They look forward to it every year. I’m lucky to have enjoyed such a long run on such a great show.

You were friends with legendary gay writer Quentin Crisp. How did that come about?

I was living in New York, modelling, and he was in the New York phone book and you could ring him and if you paid for dinner he’d come out and talk. He called it ‘singing for his supper’. So I invited him out for lunch. We walked up Second Avenue. He was wearing his trademark hat and silk scarf and everyone knew him and he had a kind word for everyone. He’d collect glass bottles and return them to the local convenience store, get quarters back for each one and give the money to homeless guys he knew. That’s a small example of how thoughtful he was. We met up several times and I’d just sit and listen to him recount his adventures, which were varied beyond belief.

What else did you like about him?

It wasn’t just his life story and his intelligence, he lived fully present in the moment and was so open to life’s experiences. His brain was so sharp. He loved to meet new people. I filmed one of our chats as part of a showreel as I was trying to get into TV. We filmed it with a shoddy little camera and he was so fascinating. A real gentleman. You learn so much from people like that and you can only gain that sort of wisdom from living life.

Who is a good role model for your daughters?

I’m a big believer in equality and affirm to them that women can do anything so I’m always pointing out positive examples of women who are successful. My eldest has just studied Rosa Parks at school. Women don’t come more inspirational than that. I find Oprah Winfrey inspiring and was lucky enough to meet her. She’s broken down so many barriers and worked so hard.

Tess Daly is fronting the Scholl Light Legs tights campaign.