Bay artist’s portrait of dancer stars in Strictly special

Strictly dancer Graziano Di Prima with Julie's portrait

Strictly dancer Graziano Di Prima with Julie's portrait - Credit: Archant

Fans of Strictly have been dancing in their homes after the return of the much-loved BBC show featuring ballroom professionals alongside an array of celebrities.

At the height of lockdown, however, there was serious doubt over whether the programme would go ahead in 2020 and series producers appealed for artistic contributions to be shown on some special edition broadcasts to celebrate the Strictly phenomenon.

Torbay artist Julie Hogarth-Jones heard their call and submitted her superb portrait of professional dancer Graziano Di Prima, which soon made its way to national TV screens.

“During the lockdown, they weren’t really sure if the series would go ahead, so they planned some special shows,” said Julie.

“My painting was shown on the Strictly Blackpool Special with a video of Graziano Di Prima. It is a picture with Daisy the dog, who I believe belongs to his fiancée Giada’s family.

“I painted Graziano in 2019, and when we were lucky enough to get tickets in the audience draw, I took it with me to last year’s final in London, where it was passed to him by the security staff.

“In the summer, I saw that they were looking for art and crafts related to the show for the Strictly Specials, which showed the best bits of the all the series’ to date. The Blackpool Special was shown a few weeks ago.

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“There was a montage of arts and crafts displayed during the show, featuring a clip of Graziano saying he loved the painting. He has been really nice, popping up on my Instagram feed to like my work.

“It all started when I contacted him to ask if I could paint a portrait. It was done from photos on his Instagram feed and the image with Daisy the Dog just seemed to work. It was great to see the picture on television.”

It is another stamp of recognition for Julie, who was also included in a national exhibition this year for her portrait of an NHS hero from the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Graziano Di Prima will also be featuring in a show at the Princess Theatre in July 2021.