The race is on for this year’s Dancing Strictly competitors, who are desperately trying to cram in as many rehearsals as they can before the grand final.

Among the line-up is 50-year-old Paul O’Donoghue and his sister-in-law Elaine Porter, 52, who will go head-to-head with eight couples in the North London Hospice contest next month.

The dancing duo were supposed to perform the waltz, but after a few difficulties, they have switched to the tango two weeks into training.

Paul, a decorator from Whetstone, said: “It’s a mission and very stressful because now we’re playing catch-up. But we’re having a good go at it and I’ve organised some extra lessons on the side.”

All proceeds from the contest will go to the hospice, which cared for Paul's sister, Mary, and father, Paddy, in their final days.

He said: “I just want to give dancing a good go and hope to raise as much money as we can for the hospice. It’s an amazing place with amazing people."

The pair will take to the stage at the Millfield Theatre in Edmonton on Saturday, February 22 in the hope of impressing a panel of judges to win their very own glitter ball trophy.

Elaine, a teaching assistant at Broomfield School in Enfield, said: “I’m getting really excited. I think I’ll be pretty nervous but we’re going to give it our best shot.”

As well as perfecting their dazzling ballroom routines, each team has been tasked with raising as much money as they can for the hospice.

To sponsor Paul and Elaine visit