AJ Pritchard‘s dad has revealed his son is a ‘wimp’ and ‘scared of everything’ ahead of his first trial on Monday night’s I’m A Celeb.
Adrian, 64, told MailOnline the professional dancer, 26, is ‘under pressure’ to perform when faced with tonight’s challenge as it will be ‘completely different’ to the ‘glamour’ he’s used to on Strictly.
In an exclusive interview, Adrian said his son is afraid of rats, snakes and spiders, and watching him take part in the trial will be a very ‘nerve-wracking’ experience.
‘He’s scared stiff’: AJ Pritchard’s dad has revealed his son is a ‘wimp’ and ‘scared of everything’ ahead of his first trial on Monday night’s I’m A Celeb
Speaking to MailOnline, he said: ‘When you consider Strictly Come Dancing, it is completely different – all the costumes and glamour, suddenly he’s gone into a castle so it’s entirely different to what he was used to.
‘He will be very nervous because looking at it, being in the dark and all those little creatures, he’s scared stiff of.
‘We live in a property which is almost 150 years old so we have spiders, the spiders we’ve got here – when you take your slippers off watching the TV, they can move them across the floor. AJ is a wimp on these sorts of things!
‘Our house used to be a school, we have the air raid shelters, the very old well, at night we have bats that fly out, we have foxes, badgers – we have all those weird and wonderful things that AJ doesn’t like.
‘He’s competitive but with things like this he’s scared stiff.
‘Put to the test’: Adrian said the dancer is ‘under pressure’ to perform when faced with tonight’s challenge as it will be ‘completely different’ to the ‘glamour’ he’s used to on Strictly
‘It’s going to be so hilarious because people will see the other side of AJ – he’s a lovely dancer and looks after he’s a partner but suddenly tonight he’s going to be under pressure.’
The former professional dancer, who taught AJ and brother Curtis, 24, how to perform, explained he’s been there alongside his sons throughout their careers – but nothing compares to the worries he’s felt while watching I’m A Celeb.
He said: ‘It’s going to be very nerve-wracking. I’ve been with the lads throughout all their competitions, dancing – you have all the nerves of waiting for results, the World Championships, and it’s going to be no different.
‘Even last night when they say “maybe it’s you” suddenly your heart is beating. Then we saw the clip of where he’s going – oh God, we will be on edge. Would I want to do it? I don’t think so!’
Terrified: AJ and EastEnders actress Jessica Plummer will take part in tonight’s trial, that is set in darkness and sees the stars crawling through pitch black tunnels
‘Your heart is beating’: Adrian explained he’s been there alongside his sons throughout their careers – but nothing compares to the worries he’s felt while watching AJ on I’m A Celeb
I’m A Celeb viewers were quick to complain about AJ’s lack of airtime during the first week of the show – while campmates such as Shane Richie and Jordan North have taken the spotlight.
AJ’s dad has reaffirmed that his son did not signup to the show to be a wallflower and he aimed to complete a trial a night before moving into the Welsh castle.
Adrian said: ‘AJ didn’t want to go on the show and just make the numbers up. He wanted to go in there and he wanted to do those things. He said ‘put me up every night and I’ll do it.’
‘When they showed different clips on Saturday night’s show I started to see, “oh he was doing a lot of things!” It’s just how the format goes but he was saying things, he was doing things, the show is fantastic – no wonder so many people watch the program but now he’s starting to come out his shell.
‘I have been voting all the time:’ It hasn’t been just the general public to vote for AJ to do the trials – Adrian has also been putting his son forward to face his ultimate fears
‘He was so desperate to do one of those trials and now it’s actually happened so obviously the public felt like ‘yes lets get him in there.’
It hasn’t been just the general public to vote for AJ to do the trials – Adrian has also been putting his son forward to face his ultimate fears.
He added: ‘Oh yeah I’ve been voting – get him in there; it’s what you call character building! I have been voting all the time.’
Adrian turned down Strictly on behalf of his son four times after he was headhunted to star on the BBC show while competing at a dance championship in Blackpool.
As a dancer, Adrian viewed the TV opportunity as a potential setback in AJ’s career as at the time he was training to become the best in the world.
Adrian turned down Strictly on behalf of his son four times after he was headhunted to star on the BBC show while competing at a dance championship in Blackpool
It wasn’t until head judge Shirley Ballas convinced him to allow AJ to join, which saw him compete on the show for four years before announcing his departure in March.
He said: ‘Strictly came to the biggest dance competition in the world, they came to Blackpool and that’s how they saw AJ dancing with his partner Chloe and it started from there. I was very shocked at the time – there were 600 couples dancing and they wanted AJ.
‘They came to me, we had a meeting in a coffee bar in Blackpool and they said, “we would like if AJ would come on Strictly” and I said “why do you want AJ? He’s only young – he’s very competitive. I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
‘At that time my idea is that the dancer has to become the best in the world – it’s not about doing TV, it’s about being the best. AJ said “well it’s up to you, dad” and I said “I don’t know” but they kept ringing.
Persuaded: AJ’s dad said head judge Shirley Ballas convinced him to let his son compete in the series, after she told him ‘you can’t turn this down’
‘At that point I said, “why not” and if it goes wrong he could go back to competing because he was still very young – but originally, I said no. I remember talking to Shirley Ballas and she said “you can’t turn this down, do you realise what a chance this is for AJ?”‘
Adrian wasn’t easily persuaded by AJ when he wanted to quit the dance show, after their entire family loved watching him perform each week with his celebrity dance partner.
He added: ‘He wasn’t moving on and being that age, you need to do other things and I’ve got to give credit to him, he is ambitious and he felt “where do I go from here?”
‘Yes, I love to see him dancing all the time but I couldn’t argue with that. People say, “how could he leave Strictly?” It was a gamble. But you’ve got to make it work.’
‘I trained him but I didn’t show him any of those steps!’: Adrian said watching son Curtis show off his moves on Love Island was ‘interesting’ and said that style was ‘his own speciality’
It isn’t just AJ who’s found fame on TV as Adrian’s younger son Curtis spent eight weeks in the Love Island villa last year.
Adrian and his wife Debbie were unfazed watching Curtis date the likes of Amy Hart and Maura Higgins on the show, with the family more alarmed by their son’s eating habits.
He said: ‘Remember in the entertainment and dancing business – we are dealing with very good-looking couples all the time. It went straight over my head – it was nothing new!
‘Very interesting when Curtis did his dancing – I trained him but I didn’t show him any of those steps! That was Curtis’ own speciality.
‘He treated it like a complete holiday. He was just filling his face and I said “good! Did you do any training?” And he said “well…” all I saw was Curtis living in the fridge!’