We’ve been captivated by his sexy moves and jokey manner – but Will Mellor admits he wouldn’t be on the show if he hadn’t developed a new perspective on life after losing his beloved dad.

The star, who shot to fame in Hollyoaks, has referred to his dad Bill as his “hero” and says he was left “crippled” when he died just two weeks after being diagnosed with cancer during the pandemic.

But while Will, 46, says it was a “horrible time”, it has taught him he should be “grabbing opportunities and making memories”. And he’s now thrilled to be taking part in mum Shirley’s favourite show – even if it does mean challenging himself.

Will, who has been supported in the audience by wife Michelle and their kids Jayden, 18, and Renee, 14, is paired with professional dancer Nancy Xu, 31, in the BBC contest.

Opening up about joining the show, he said, “I lost my dad in 2020 and my mindset completely changed. I just thought: ‘You’ve got to grab life, you’ve got to do things’.

“And I just said, ‘I’m gonna say yes to more stuff, and create memories as that really is what life’s about.’

“You realise that when you start losing people. I just thought, ‘What am I afraid of?’ You know, I’d rather look back and go, ‘I’m glad I did’ than ‘I should have done that.’

“And so they asked me and straightaway I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do it!’”

A source told OK! Will had been approached for Strictly in previous years but he only felt like the time was right now.

And with him already being tipped to lift the Glitterball, they said the show will undoubtedly boost his career.

“Will has been turning down Strictly for years but realises this could be a whole new chapter for him,” the source said. “He’s a great character with a big personality and audiences love him. His career will be turbo-charged after this – but the sole reason he wanted to do it was for his dad.”

Will shared his grief on podcast Two Pints With Will And Ralf, which he co-presents with his Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps co-star and longtime pal Ralf Little. He said talking about his feelings publicly helped him and he hopes it helped other men in pain do the same thing.

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