Her down-to-earth manner and endless jokes on Strictly have made her one of the BBC’s highest paid stars.
But Claudia Winkleman admits she is racked with nerves before hosting the show with Tess Daly.
She explains: “If you ever see Tess doing the show wearing something with a big sleeve, it is because I have hurt her arm where I have squeezed it because I am so nervous.
“I can’t do that right now, but I do get really scared.
“Not because I think I am doing anything important – I am not in scrubs holding a scalpel – it is just because I don’t want to let this magical team, which is what they are, down.
“In live TV, we are tiny cogs and if you go off-piste and talk too long then you mess it up for everybody.
“I just want to be obedient. Being obedient at work, not at life, is a good thing. So I never really sleep the night before Strictly.”
Claudia, 48, who is worth an estimated £9.4million, joined Strictly when it began in 2004 by hosting BBC2 spin-off, It Takes Two.
But despite her success, she reckons she looks like an alien and thinks anyone in TV could do her job.
“Someone else can easily do what I do,” says Claudia. “I don’t mean
it in a bad way.
“I look like ET, all torso and feet. I want to look like a pirate. I am this close to getting a parrot.
“I also don’t feel famous on any level and that is because I am on the Tube all the time.
“People are polite as they would rather read a book.
“I also feel that I am just doing ‘this’ for a bit. It has gone on longer than I thought and than it possibly should and so I am incredibly grateful. I am not sure this is the thing.
“I mean, it is a great thing – Strictly – and I love it but everything is a state of mind, isn’t it? I love telly and live television and I don’t mind what it is about. Whether it is about people cutting avocados or people making a skirt or people dancing. I feel as if it is a test.”
Claudia has three children and says she will encourage them to enjoy whatever they decide to do in life.
“I am trying to teach my kids to relish,” she says. “I don’t want them to do live telly but they can do whatever they want.
“I want them to relish the test. I want them to just show up. I am not going to be a mum who says, ‘This way’. I want them to work hard and be polite and kind.”
Claudia also says she misses feasting on pizza with Tess after the shows – as they did before the pandemic.
She says: “I have never been good with drinking and I am not interesting with a hangover.
“But after the show, I will go to Tess’s room and debrief and order as much pizza as we can.
“Tess is loyal and she is the perfect individual apart from the fact she has pineapple on her pizza. I have pepperoni passion with double cheese. We eat ourselves into a stupor and crawl into a cab.”
At home, Claudia says she has also discovered the joy of knitting.
She explains: “I am 48 and we are dinosaurs. I knit scarves. I love knitting. Let’s know our limits.
“There is a new thing with big knitting needles and I like the noise they make. All I want is Neil Diamond and to knit.
“The young communicate in a totally different way, and that is how it should be.”