Anyway. Made Up was invited to the venue earlier this week for a chat with former Coronation Street actress O’Brien and new Strictly pro Murillo to plug the tour, which will be in our neck of the woods in January. It was one of those soulless promotional affairs, with a revolving door of regional journos paraded in front of the pair, all trying to get them to say they’d rather be in Liverpool than anywhere else when the spin-off tour comes round. Other names signed up so far include our own beautiful Ricky Whittle, Pamela Stephenson, Patsy Kensit and Kara Tointon.
O’Brien and Murillo were voted off the ongoing show two weeks ago, leaving them both massively disappointed (“kicking and screaming” is how they both describe their exit). Both seemed keen on the opportunity to keep rolling on the Strictly bandwagon and working with the friends they made. It was, the actress says, a completely new experience to what she’s used to.
“I’d never been tempted to do anything like this before,” she said. “Strictly seemed different, that it would teach me something and give me a skill. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the live element, that wasn’t something I really knew about. And it was strange that this would very much be about me. Obviously when I’m acting, I’m a character, I get given lines, but this is very much showing me. But, I’m really glad I did it.”
Least of all because she’s made a new pal in American partner Murillo. They are close – very close if the tabloids are to be believed – and although having company to get you through junkets like these must make it a bit more entertaining, they had a habit of starting to answer a question then turning it into an in-conversation between themselves. Whether they are a couple is almost neither here nor there. They have become regular fodder for the Daily Mail, which likes to cast Mormon Jared as some innocent creature about to be snared by a loose woman. This week, the dubious headlines included: “Oh what a tease! Temptress Tina O’Brien escorts her Strictly virgin beau for another night out… in a daringly low cut dress”. Sheesh.
“I find it quite funny,” O’Brien says. “Ever since I’ve been single, I’ve been linked to every guy I’ve gone in a ten mile radius of. That would mean I’ve been quite a busy bee. But, as long as my family know the truth, it’s just funny to me.”
She then described how recently one tabloid pictured her having an “intimate conversation” with X Factor contestant Aiden Grimshaw, while another ran a story, with pictures, of her having an “intimate moment” with Murillo. These encounters, she says, were happening at the same time when all three met outside the studio, with the pictures for both ‘exclusives’ taken at exactly the same meeting from different angles.
While O’Brien sees the funny side, Murillo is even more nonchalant about press intrusion into his private life. “I dated a celebrity before in America, Ashley Tisedale [Sharpay in the High School Musical series], and we just had paparazzi left and right, so this wasn’t new to me, it’s no big deal. I was more like, ‘you call these paps?!’ They’re not as bad as the States, where they will actually come into your home, which they did one time. This is nothing.”
Both say a Strictly tour is a good way to connect with the show’s fans, especially those outside of London who have no chance of seeing the studio show live. And the pair seemed genuinely excited when talking about being reunited with contestant pals like Kara Tointon. Catch them back in town for the full extravaganza on January 24 – 26. Meanwhile, here they are in action: