They have battled exhaustion, sore feet and an endless scrutiny from the country’s national media.
But on Saturday two of Dunstable and Luton’s favourite daughters will take to the dance floor for the final time to to do battle for the prestigious Strictly Come Dancing crown.
The Steps star Faye Tozer started her road to fame in Dunstable, treading the boards at her local amateur dramatics society and starring in her first pantomime at the age of six. She attended music school, where she perfected her singing and saxophone skills.
Of Strictly she said: “I’ve wanted to take part in Strictly forever and it’s just an absolute dream come true! It’s something that I always wanted to do. Last year, Steps came and did the Halloween special and that just spurred me on even more.
“I was on holiday in Portugal and I was just walking down the street with my husband, got the phone call and I literally bawled my eyes out, I was in shock. I was so amazed and so over the moon. It was brilliant, absolutely wonderful.
Faye joined pop band Steps at the age of 21. The five-piece found instant chart success, releasing a strong run of hit singles, albums and touring the world. With over 20 million records sold worldwide, Steps disbanded in 2001 and reformed in 2011 with a Sky One reunion show, leading to a sell-out UK tour and new music. In 2017 they released another new album and several signature Steps singles to mark their 20th anniversary.
Bookies favourite Stacey Dooley, who was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List earlier this year, was born in Luton and attended Stopsley High School.
The 31 year old shot to fame when she first appeared on television at the age of 21 as one of the participants on the documentary TV series Blood, Sweat and T-shirts.
Her successful appearance on the show, partly because of her interest in labour laws in developing countries led to her own series being commissioned and Stacey Dooley Investigates began in August 2009. Since then she has made several hard hitting documentaries exposing injustice around the world, and was awarded her MBE for services to broadcasting.
She said: “I know it’s a bit of a cliché but I have always loved the show. I think it’s brilliant that it’s something the whole family can be involved with and also you’re learning a genuine skill.
“My work is so heavy and it’s quite hard-core and it can be quite harrowing at times, Strictly is total escapism. A real treat in that sense, dancing and enjoying myself and not have to be too earnest or too straight and just celebrate that side of me.”
Speaking before the show started she said: “The thing about my dancing is, I actually think I’m magnificent. I think I really look the part. Everyone else around me is like ‘You’ve got to be joking. You’re so erratic, really over the top and you’ve got no rhythm whatsoever’ so it’s a bit of a split jury. We’ll soon see.”
Faye’s dancing partner is Giovanni Pernice while Stacey is partnered with Kevin Clifton.
Also in the live final on BBC 1 on Saturday is YouTube star Joe Suggs and singer Ashley Roberts.
Who will you be voting for? Take part in our fun vote at www.facebook.com/heraldandpost and www.facebook.com/DunstableGazette