STRICTLY Come Dancing contestant Jacqui Smith has spoken about the hard work of the show's rehearsals, saying her muscles are "screaming out loud" from the intense training.

The former Redditch MP and home secretary, who taught at Haybridge High School in Hagley before turning to politics, admitted the dancing shoes had been "punishing" following four days of "proper training" for the programme, which launched on Saturday night.

Appearing on Times Radio on Sunday evening, the former Labour politician, aged 57, also revealed she would be dancing the foxtrot with partner Anton Du Beke in next week's show.

When asked about rehearsals, she said: "I'm fitter, much fitter now, than I ever was when I was in Parliament, but there are muscles in my body that I did not know existed before and that are now screaming out loud from the training.

"My feet are, you know, I have run out of plasters for my feet, the shoes are punishing.

"We're all saying this, all of us in talking to each other, including some of the sort of young, fit ones, we're all saying, 'blimey, this is hard work'.

"But it is also absolutely joyful to go off to a rehearsal studio and be learning the steps for the dance that I'm going to do next Saturday."

Smith also revealed she had agreed to appear on the BBC One dancing competition "almost immediately" after being approached by producers back in March.

"I didn't go chasing this, I sort of thought that really if there had ever been a chance of me doing it had sort of gone," she said.

"They talked to me about how it would work and I thought, this isn't a chance that comes around very often, so I said, 'yes, I'm interested' right from the very beginning."

The launch programme featured a group performance from this year's entire cohort of contestants, but the couples only got within close distance of their own partners due to coronavirus rules.

Either the professional dancer or the celebrity is living on their own for the duration of the series as they form an exclusive support bubble.

Referring to the coronavirus crisis, Smith said that she had been "blown away" by the number of people who said they were pleased that the show was going ahead.

"Anybody who saw it last night will see, you know, it's got all of the elements you would hope to see in Strictly," she told Times Radio.

"Fantastic professional group dances, lots of glitter, the music, the band, all of the sort of razzmatazz that you would expect."

She added: "Having that bit of joy on telly, I think, is just brilliant."

Strictly Come Dancing continues next Saturday on BBC One at 7.25pm.