Strictly’s Karim Zeroual will dance this weekend despite illness

Karim Zeroual and Amy Dowden

Karim Zeroual will take to the Strictly Come Dancing dancefloor this weekend just days after being forced to miss It Takes Two due to illness.

The CBBC presenter, 25, was due to appear on Strictly’s spin-off show alongside his dance partner Amy Dowden on Wednesday night.

Dowden told the show’s host Zoe Ball – who missed a few days presenting It Takes Two herself due to the flu – that he was “so disappointed” not to be there.

She said: “He’s got the lurgy so he’s resting up because obviously we need him fighting fit, ready for Saturday night.”

Zeroual said on Friday he was on the mend, telling the PA News agency: “It started off with a sore throat, just a bit of a cold, (I’m) just run down, (I’m) really just working hard, I just needed some bed time.

“I literally just sat there (in bed), drank loads of water, honey lemon and ginger, but I’m on the way up now.”

He added: “It would take a lot to not get me down (there) on Saturday, that’s for sure. But that’s kind of what I had in mind.

“I thought you know what, if I need to just have a bit of a bed day so I’m alright for the dress run on Friday and I’m alright for the show on Saturday, that was my main priority really.”

The pair will perform a tango to George Ezra’s Paradise on Saturday night.

They are currently sitting mid-way on the Strictly leaderboard, with a score of 26. Soap star Kelvin Fletcher and Oti Mabuse are in the top spot with a score of 38.

Zeroual and Dowden have so far impressed the judges and earned high scores of 31 and 32 respectively. When scores were combined for week one and week two, they found themselves at the top of the leaderboard.

Asked if he suffers pre-show nerves, he said: “I am pretty confident, but with Strictly, oh my goodness. I’m the one on the Saturday calming everyone down.

“And then before we go on, we’ll run it through and I make silly mistakes and then I start shaking like a leaf.

“I go out there, the first four steps, I’m a mess, I’m looking around and there’s nothing that can prepare you for the actual live. And then I just shake.”

Two celebrities – Anneka Rice and James Cracknell – have left the series so far.

Strictly Come Dancing airs on BBC One on Saturday at 6.40pm.

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