By rights, Holly Valance should be the hot favourite to win the current series of Strictly Come Dancing.
She was the glamour girl of Neighbours when the Aussie soap was still popular, topped the charts in her pop career, and there’s no doubt the girl can dance.
But something is clearly going wrong. Holly and her dance partner Artem Chigvintsev have ended up in the bottom two for the last two weekends in a row.
And they are steeling themselves to be voted off tomorrow after viewers failed to warm to the Aussie star.
“I do think that this could be our swan song,” sighs Holly, 28. “For the last two weeks we’ve been in the bottom two which was really disappointing especially as we performed well and got decent scores.
“I don’t know why the public vote didn’t reflect that, but someone’s got to go out.
“I didn’t expect to win, but I’d like to get a bit further in the competition.”
So what is the problem? Perhaps it was the rumours of a romance with Artem – said to have caused blazing rows between him and girlfriend Kara Tointon, last year’s winner – that put viewers off voting for Holly.
Or perhaps they think she is a tad stuck-up, now that she’s got a billionaire boyfriend and a jet-set lifestyle.
Holly is dating property developer Nick Candy. He and his brother Christian turned a £6,000 loan from their gran into a £9billion global property portfolio. She now shares Nick’s opulent homes in London and Monaco, flies around on his private plane and holidays on his £50million super-yacht.
It’s all a bit of a change from her humble beginnings. Holly shot to fame as a sexy schoolgirl in Neighbours before topping the pop charts with Kiss Kiss, Down Boy and Naughty Girl – her steamy videos still get millions of hits on YouTube.
The lads’ mag favourite recently recreated the famous Goldfinger Bond movie scenes for one of her saucy Fosters lager ads. It’s certainly not hard to see what attracted billionaire Nick.
But chatting to Holly during a break from training, rumours of any flirtation between her and Artem seem way off the mark. If there is any sexual chemistry between them, it isn’t on show today. For tonight’s show they are doing a number from The Legend of Zorro.
Holly says: “We did a fencing scene for the pre-dance video with me whipping Artem into shape. I’ve been dying to do the Paso for ages. It’s so fiery and strong. I’m not really into the fluffy stuff – I’m really not a fluffy kind of girl.”
Clearly. So what did Holly make of those romance rumours? “People are so unimaginative,” she sighs. “Every year someone has to have that storyline. I knew there’d be c*** from day one.
“Kara has been giving me lots of advice, which is brilliant. But I’m just doing the job I’m here to do. I’m a professional. I am being paid by the BBC to make a TV show and that’s it.”
At least someone is excited about it.
“Nick has been to watch me every single week and has been taking it REALLY seriously,” she says. “He is very proud and really supportive. He loves Artem and everyone I work with. It would be awful to have someone who wasn’t interested.”
When Holly began dating Nick in 2009 she had no idea of his vast wealth.
Last year she showed off her £20,000 gold Rolex birthday present and gushed: “The wealth and lifestyle were overwhelming initially. It was like ‘Wow!’ When I saw the boat I was stunned and said, ‘Oh dear God, it’s a mansion on water’. It’s incredible.”
I ask if she is now more at home with the luxury lifestyle and she replies curtly: “It’s just someone’s job.”
A pretty good job though, Holly?
“Well, if you worked as hard as he does you’d have a pretty good job, too,” she snaps. “There can only be a handful of other people in this country who work as hard as he does.” I fear I’ve touched a nerve. Holly’s no shirker herself. Growing up in Melbourne, her parents separated when she was four. Fiercely independent, she got a part-time job at the age of 12 just to pay for school books and shoes. She ended up modelling and earning £20,000 in her first year.
Didn’t she pick modelling because she was too young to do the job she really wanted to do – work in McDonald’s?
Barely stifling a yawn, she says: “That little titbit has been dragged up for the past 15 years – but, yes.
“I couldn’t work in McDonald’s because you had to be 14 years and nine months and I was 12.
“I did modelling for four years while still at school. It wasn’t something I loved doing, just something I was OK at and got paid for.
“Then I went for an audition at Neighbours and got it. And then everything snowballed.
I HAVE been very lucky – but then I’ve always taken the opportunities that were given to me and run with them.
“Strictly was an opportunity not to be missed. I love the fact that it is family orientated.”
Have she and Nick got any plans to tie the knot and have kids?
She says: “We do want a family one day, but I’m certainly not ready for that. I’ve got too much to do and I’m not ready not to be selfish.”
And she also still has her saucy side. The night before she bumped into Nancy Dell’Olio and asked about her rumoured deal to pose naked for Playboy.
“She said it was being discussed,” laughs Holly. “God, I REALLY hope she does it, that would be so awesome.
“It’s not something I’d do now, but if I was 50 and someone asked me to get my gear off, of course! Why not?”