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Exclusive: Strictly Come Dancing star Melvin Odoom on his dance partner and fellow contestants

Julie Delahaye

With the Strictly Come Dancing live shows kicking off in just a few weeks, the pressure is on for the contestants as they up their training routine. For radio host Melvin Odoom, training may be intense but his dancing partner Janette Manrara has been the key to keeping him motivated.

"I think she's the best partner that I could have got to be honest," the 36-year-old told HELLO! Online exclusively. "Because she's the perfect balance of being able to take things seriously, but she's very fun at the same time."

He added: "She does work me quite hard but she's really worked me out, she's taken some time to get to know me."

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Melvin Odoom has spoken exclusively with HELLO! Online

Melvin admitted that ahead of the competition, he has turned to former contestants including Pixie Lott and Caroline Flack for advice. "Pixie I saw at V Festival, who's a really good friend of ours, she was amazing," he revealed. "She said, 'Melvin, really enjoy it because it's over sooner than you think and at the end of it you realise how great it is'. Caroline was really amazing as well, she said it was one of the best things she's ever done."

However, despite receiving advice and support from his family and friends, it was Eastenders star Jake Wood who particularly "touched" Melvin with his words of wisdom. With Jake having competed in the 2014 competition with Janette as his partner, Melvin admitted that the actor's advice particularly resonated with him.

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Melvin is paired with Janette Manrara for the competition

The KISS Breakfast Show host explained: "He was like, 'Melv look, anything you need just tell me. You’re going to have days where it's really tough, when I was doing Eastenders it was tough for me. The rule is just rehearse as much as you can, get home, eat and sleep.'

GALLERY: THE STRICTLY COME DANCING 2016 CONTESTANTS

"Coming from him, everything really struck a chord because no-one else really knows what I'm going through other than him. He had exactly the same partner, the same workload and he was going through the same process. So it felt more real coming from Jake."

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The TV presenter said Jake Wood gave him great advice

Melvin had his first taste of what to expect from the shows following the contestants' group dance at the launch, which he described as "wicked" and "a lot of fun". There, the TV presenter quickly bonded with his fellow contestants, revealing that they have since all formed a Whatsapp group so they can support each other and keep in touch off the dancefloor.

"Ed Balls is hilarious, Tameka [Empson] has me crying, she's too funny. Ore [Oduba] is a just proper lad, Danny [Mac] is a proper sweet boy and also cool, Claudia [Fragapane] is super sweet, Daisy [Lowe]'s amazing. Everyone is so nice and so cool and has something to offer. Naga [Munchetty] is the organised one, she's walked in and said, 'Right, we need to set up a Whatsapp' and she's the one who set up the Whatsapp group."

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He revealed the contestants formed a Whatsapp group to stay in touch 

While it seems that nerves haven't hit Melvin yet, he admitted that he thinks they might appear before his first routine. "I think I will be more nervous when it's literally just me and Janette alone on the dancefloor in front of everyone," he said. "That's when I am going to be worried I think."

It's not just the public who'll be watching – Melvin has revealed there's one judge he would particularly like to impress. "Craig! Craig doesn't mince his words, the guy does not mince his words," he said. "I want to try and impress everyone, but Craig is going to be a tough cookie to crack – everyone knows that."

As he amps up his training, Melvin admitted that he "thought I'd be able to pick up things easier than I have", adding that winners such as Jay McGuiness and Abbey Clancy had made it seem easier than it looked.

He explained: "I have a newfound respect for people like Jay, people like Abbey and Alesha Dixon, all the people who have done so well in the past in this competition. My respect levels went so high for them in the last few weeks, because what they did, they made it look so easy and they actually looked like professional dancers when they were on the show and it's not easy."

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