Ashley Roberts has broken down in tears on the eve of the Strictly Come Dancing final.
The former Pussycat Dolls star began to cry after being shown a series of video messages from her mother and friends on Strictly spin-off It Takes Two.
In a pre-recorded message, her mum Peggy said the show had helped her daughter deal with the death of her father, who took his own life earlier this year.
She said: “Strictly came at a time for Ashley when she really needed it. Her dad would have loved this. He would have loved watching her dance. This is where she needs to be. She needs to be on stage.
“Strictly brought back her spirit. There are no words for how proud I am of that child.”
Ashley’s friend Kimberly also praised her for her “resilience”, adding that she had been brought to tears by Roberts’s contemporary couple’s choice dance in memory of her father.
She said: “Ashley is full of resilience but let me tell you, this has been a year that has put that to the test. When I saw her doing her first dance I knew she was in the right place.
“Knowing everything she has been through with her father this year. Knowing that, her contemporary piece left me in tears.”
Earlier in the day, she admitted she has found Strictly Come Dancing to be an “emotional rollercoaster”.
The former Pussycat Dolls star – who, along with professional partner Pasha Kovalev has been in the dance-off for the last three weeks – admitted she’s been under a lot of “mental strain” and gripped with doubts throughout rehearsals but insisted the stress has all been worthwhile.
She said: “The emotional rollercoaster ride, it is such a process throughout the week, what you go through.
“You start doubting yourself [and think] ‘how is this all going to come together on Saturday?’ but it does.
“I thought it would be physically challenging but also the emotional and mental strain that sometimes happens is whoa!
“But it’s all worth it when you look back; we’ve all done such amazing work.”
After three weeks in the bottom two, the 37-year-old singer admitted she stopped taking it to heart and just wanted to focus on using the extra time on stage to “give a little show”.
Asked how she’s stayed motivated at a press conference for the show’s finalists in London, she said: “The motivation comes naturally, when I first got the call to do this show I was so excited and so grateful to be part of this amazing show.
“The first two times in the dance off I was like ‘OK this is a bit of a bummer’ but Monday hits, it’s a week, it’s a fresh start and you get in there and you get focused.
“By the third time I looked at Pash and said, ‘OK hunny should we just give them a little show because we’re here’.”
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And Ashley – who will compete with Pasha against Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton, Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell, and Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice to scoop the glitterball trophy – is determined to enjoy every second of the show’s final on Saturday night (15.12.18).
She said: “The amazing thing though is that we did have battle it out to get to the final but I’m so grateful to be here and just go out with these fabulous people and enjoy it.”
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