Craig Revel Horwood was sitting alone on the couch after having tested positive for Covid. He had an epiphany over one of the year’s most controversial celebrities.

He recalls that he was in love with Dan but not expecting to be,

“I had never guessed why so many were choosing to vote for him, just by looking at his dancing. Then I realized, “Oh, that’s why! He’s so sweet!” What made people choose to vote the way they did?

Dan is Dan Walker. He’s a BBC Breakfast Show host and Strictly contestant. His gangly, wooden performance has earned him a spot in the top three for the past three weeks. However, he’s miraculously managed to escape the dance-off.

Craig’s conversion is remarkable, given that Dan had to endure some very harsh adjudications by the notoriously demanding judge.

While in isolation after testing positive for Covid, Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood (pictured) said he 'fell in love' with this year's controversial celebrity contestant Dan Walker

Craig Revel Horwood, the Strictly judge (pictured), said that he fell in love with Dan Walker this year while he was in isolation following his positive test for Covid.

Craig awarded Dan and Nadiya bychkova’s American Smooth an insignificant four. This contrasts with the eight enthusiastic scores from Dan’s fellow judges and Anton du Beke who received nine.

Last week, Craig – the only judge to have been in every show since Strictly started in May 2004 – was forced to miss filming for the first time in 17 years after testing positive for Covid.

He was not able to score a paddle. Instead, he watched the Strictly contestants on TV, which he described as surreal but also illuminating.

According to him, “On one level it seemed a little out of body,” It was also enlightening. I was able to view the show from the perspective of punters and had a totally new appreciation.

“I was able to see things I don’t normally get to see, including all of the special effects and the stories told by the contestants. “I felt emotionally invested.”

Craig enjoyed the new perspective but, despite enjoying it all, Craig, 56 year old is eager to return to Judge’s Hotseat Saturday.

‘Missing the show was quite alarming for me because I never miss work,’ he says of his enforced stint at home near Rutland Water which he shares with horticulturalist fiancé Jonathan Myring.

Resolutely double-jabbed – ‘why people are up in arms about it I have no idea’ he says of the vaccine refuseniks – Craig says he’s enormously grateful for what he sees as the protective bubble the vaccine has given to him and others.

BBC breakfast show host Dan's (pictured) whose gangly and wooden performances on Strictly have earned him a place in the bottom three of the leaderboard for three consecutive weeks

BBC Breakfast Show host Dan (pictured), whose uncoordinated and sloppy performances on Strictly earned him a spot in the top three for the past three weeks.

He says that a lot of his friends contracted Covid in the last year, before they started the vaccine program. One friend ended up being almost admitted to hospital.

He was exactly the same age as I, which is scary. But, thanks to vaccines and boosters people are better protected. I didn’t get it badly – I felt like I just had a small cold – and I think that proves that the vaccine is working. Could have become really unwell.

Craig was positive for Covid on the same day he had his booster shot, which occurred almost two weeks ago. After recording the episode 13 of Strictly on November 13, Craig awoke with a loss of taste and smell.

He said, “I had a positive lateral flow, and then I ran the PCR test, which came back negative, so I knew I needed to isolate for at least 10 days.”

He was marooned in his home and confides that instead he climbing up the walls out of boredom, he took the time to paint the walls.

He laughs, “I literally painted the walls.” 

I also applied five coats with fabulous paint to my cupboards. All the drawers were taken out. I replaced all knobs. Jonathan, my sweetheart delivered my food right to my bedroom.

One reason he’s nesting is that he has a new home: earlier this year Craig relocated to Rutland Water from his previous home in Hampshire to be close to his fiancé’s family and seems to have fallen in love with his new home county.

He said, “I love this, it is absolutely beautiful.” He and Jonathan – who proposed on a holiday in Tanzania shortly before the first national lockdown last year – are planning to get married locally, although plans to wed next year have been put back until August 2023.

Craig's comments are surprising as Dan was given harsh adjudication from the judge, who is due to start rehearsing for his part as the wicked stepmother in a new production of Cinderella

Craig’s comment are quite surprising considering Dan was harshly adjudged by the judge. Dan is now scheduled to begin rehearsals in preparation for his role of the wicked stepmother, which will be part of a new Cinderella production

Craig says, “We cannot get a marquee until then.” It’s difficult to find a marquee because everybody has delayed their weddings. We made the decision to take our time.

Craig was especially thrilled by John’s and Johannes’s warm reception from viewers of Strictly, which is the show’s first gay dancing pair. This follows last year’s record-setting female pairing, boxer Nicola Adams and professional dancer Katya.

He says that he tried to make this happen for five year.

“People were outraged at the thought of two men dancing with each other, but I said that if the idea isn’t for you darling then change it. They are brave for putting their ideas out there.

This is considered another small step on the way to acceptance of sexuality. He said, “You don’t get to choose what you’re or who you’re not.” 

“It’s terrible that society has this judgment, but our thought processes are shifting and making us more inclusive. It’s a small but important step towards that goal.

John and Johannes have a good chance to make it to the final. He is also optimistic about Rose Ayling Ellis (EastEnders’ first contestant with deafness), and AJ Odudu (whose dancing Craig loves). He said that the three standouts are John and Johannes.

He is desperate to return to the chair of his judge tonight. “It’s impossible to wait,” he declares. He said, “I can’t wait for it to end.”

Craig will be rehearsing Monday for the part of the wicked stepmother in the Southampton Mayflower Theatre production Cinderella. This show also stars former Strictly contestant Debbie McGee, who is now a good friend.

The show promises to deliver an unforgettable experience with its special effects, set design and costumes.

He says, “There is a lot of innuendo and lots of strictly nonsense.” “I enjoy playing evil characters, it’s great entertainment.

Craig awarded Dan and his professional partner Nadiya Bychkova's American Smooth a paltry four in contrast to the eights from his fellow judges - and one nine (from Anton du Beke)

Craig gave Dan’s American Smooth and Nadiya bychkova their professional partner a mere four, in comparison to his eights (from Anton du Beke), and one nine from his fellow judges.

Craig is not only an Australian citizen, but he also started his career as a performer in the live theatre. He loves sharing the joy of the shared experience with the audience.

He has been dismayed by the devastation Covid has wreaked on the arts and is fervently hoping that – aided by a bumper panto season – theatre is on the road to recovery.

He says that the last two years have been terrible for arts. “Amazing venues are now empty,” he says. He also claims that creativity is being hampered and entire swathes have been forced out of business. 

“It’s not only the actors that have been affected but also the backstage staff and front-of-house staff, as well as the cleaners and people running the next coffee shop.

This is one reason that he loves the panto season. It has been a major income generator for theatres in the past and helps to keep them going during periods of low attendance.

He said, “It’s important we encourage people go to these shows. “Things are changing, thanks to God – entertainment is back. Because two years is so long.

Panto is a favorite of his, and he views it as a gateway drug to live theatre. 

He says, “It helps children get off their iPads or their gaming devices and has them react to live productions. That hopefully sets them up for theatre going the rest of their life which is so essential.”

It’s something everyone can do, even adults. Adults get just as much enjoyment from it than children. The sing-alongs are incredibly popular, while the kids love to shout.

This year, it was the case of “so close but so far”: Craig set his sights on the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood’s Woking production. However, it ended up being canceled by Covid restrictions at its opening night.

Last week, Craig (pictured with Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas and Anton Du Beke) was forced to miss filming for the first time in 17 years after testing positive for Covid

Craig, pictured here with Shirley Ballas, Motsi Makase and Anton Du Beke, was forced to cancel filming last week after he tested positive for Covid

“Woking entered tier 3 on the opening night so that we could perform it with only four of our front-of-house staff, and then all of us went home,” he said. “It was quite strange.

All involved in Cinderella are praying for the opposite. Although Strictly has seen more Covid dramas than it can count, they have managed to get around them. However, things are harder in a panto setting, especially if one or both of the lead actors is killed.

He said, “We need to move on from this.” “I believe that everyone will be affected by Covid eventually in some way. I don’t know many people who haven’t experienced it. 

“I believe everyone will get it eventually in some way shape or form, and hopefully we’ll all build up natural immunity. We have to be willing to accept it and do our best.

As a professional, he is hoping fortune smiles upon his Cinderella and the remaining weeks of Strictly.

Could his sofa epiphany be interpreted as a gift to show that he cares more about the contestants? It does not seem so for Dan Walker.

“I am there to perform a job, darling,” he declares. He said, “Nothing has ever happened that will alter my perception of what I see on the floor.”

* Craig Revel Horwood is starring in Cinderella at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton from 10 Dec – 2 Jan 2022. Visit to book your tickets