Tess Daly: All the backstage Strictly gossip and getting into the festive spirit

Tess Daly gives us a behind-the-scenes look at Strictly, cheeky hamster troubles and getting festive.

Wow. Last week was certainly a diverse and very busy one! Never a dull moment, that’s for sure.

(Copyright: Tess Daly)On Saturday Strictly was back on home turf at Elstree Studios and WHAT a show it was. The judges are getting tougher now that we are just three weeks away from the Final. This week I thought the girls in particular looked gorgeous. Susanna Reid told me she feels fitter than ever and she looked sensational in her gold cha-cha dress. Sophie Ellis Bextor always looks so cool and chic too. She manages to make all her ballroom costumes look as though they're straight off the catwalk!

During the results show Claudia (a keen baker) was thrilled to welcome ‘The Great British Bake Off’’s Mary Berry, making a cameo appearance in the show’s cake-themed opener.

After three weeks in the dance off, funny man actor Mark Benton was chosen to STAY by the judges. Poor Ben Cohen became the latest star to leave the show. Backstage we had been marvelling at his strength as he held partner Kristina aloft over his head in a series of breath-taking lifts during his final Charleston routine. I managed to get a taster of that muscle power when he hoisted me up in the air!

[Tess Daly: Meeting Oprah Winfrey, Strictly in Blackpool and Christmas shopping!]
[Tess Daly: A DRAMATIC Strictly and my Children In Need plans]

(Copyright: Tess Daly)With Strictly, one of the big perks of the job (aside from getting swept of my feet by rugby hunks like Ben – literally) is the amount of gorgeous dresses I get the opportunity to wear. This week I have a fitting with stylist to the stars Annabel Kerman to find frocks for the Strictly Final on December 21st and for the Christmas Day Special.

Traditionally we opt for show stopping gowns and this year I'm hoping to have a hand in the designing of the dress! Eeek! After ten years of wearing designer gowns and often working collaboratively with the designers themselves their enthusiasm and knowledge of the style, cut and drape of the gowns can't help but rub off on you.

I nipped over to Ireland and went to Dublin and Limerick as I was helping to host a fabulous fashion show.

The legendary warmth of the Irish people always makes for a welcome break and every time I visit I find myself not wanting to leave - which probably has something to do with my Irish blood. My grandmother, who passed away before I was born, was from Cavan in Ireland and I've only recently learned a lot more about my Irish heritage thanks to research by a TV show that looked into my family tree.

I also did a glamorous shoot in the studio for L’Oreal that was a lot of fun. I got to work with a couple of THE best hair and make-up pros in the business. Make-up artist Val Garland is the A-listers' go-to pro and is regularly painting the beautiful faces of Kate Moss and Jennifer Lopez and the like. Hairstylist Ken O’Rourke is a Vogue and Hollywood A-lister favourite too. Of course the big bonus of working with the best in the beauty business is getting the top tips!

Thankfully, this week is slightly calmer on the work front so I've booked in all those things I’ve been meaning to do for ages. I’m looking forward to a long overdue catch-up lunch with friends and I'm also hoping to squeeze in a little early Christmas shopping too.

[Tess Daly: Spooky Strictly, Bonfire night and a new addition to our family!]
[Tess Daly: Half term, Halloween and the benefits of Strictly]

Wednesday is Amber's school nativity and I’ve no idea if this four-year-old shepherd is going to remember all her lines on the day!  We have been busy practising at home and she's been performing her role with gusto. However I know there'll be a LOT of nerves on the day. Still, your child's first nativity is one you never forget and her dad and I wouldn't miss it for the world.

New family member Smartie the hamster had us all running around in circles (quite literally) the other day after she escaped. She didn’t just get UNDER the sofa but got INTO the sofa! We were left with no choice but to cut open the base of it to get her out! It's a plastic running ball for your exercise from now on little lady!

Since I'm a sucker for Christmas I'm getting into the festive spirit early. This weekend we will be putting up our tree. It’s nine feet tall and there have been some VERY heated discussions about whether it will actually fit in the living room or not!

Since most of them open from this weekend, I'm planning on taking the girls to our nearest Santa’s grotto. I love going to see Santa as it reminds me of my own childhood when I eagerly waited in line to meet Father Christmas. Ah sweet memories!

Here's to a fab-u-lous festive period for all!

Lots of love, Tess xxxxx

Read more from guest writer Tess Daly:

Tess Daly: Back To School, Back To Strictly
Tess Daly: Sneaking in their five-a-day and meeting Prince Harry
Tess Daly: After school fun and all the gossip from Strictly

Tess Daly: I can’t wait to be reunited with my Strictly BFF!

Tess Daly: Missing Bruce on Strictly, laughing with Alan Carr and the awkward reproduction chat!
Tess Daly: Bonding on Strictly and the Dummy Fairy
Tess Daly: Strictly, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Disney Princesses
Tess Daly: Half term, Halloween and the benefits of Strictly
Tess Daly: Spooky Strictly, Bonfire night and a new addition to our family!
Tess Daly: A DRAMATIC Strictly and my Children In Need plans
Tess Daly: Meeting Oprah Winfrey, Strictly in Blackpool and Christmas shopping!