From one BBC set to another, Bobby Brazier is no stranger to the small screen. The EastEnders star is one of 15 celebrity contestants taking part in this year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing, where he will be competing against Paralympians, TV presenters and fellow actors.
EastEnders fans will know Bobby, 20, as Freddie Slater, a role he stepped into in September last year. Brazier had zero acting experience when he auditioned for the part, but clearly won producers over.
Outside of TV, Bobby has worked as a model for Dolce & Gabbana (he was scouted on his way to school, aged 16), making his runway debut in Milan. He has been spotted sitting front row at London Fashion Week next to Formula One star Lewis Hamilton.
Many will remember Bobby’s late mother, Jade Goody, who rose to fame as a contestant on the third season of reality TV show Big Brother in 2002. Goody died aged 27 in 2009 from cervical cancer. While her time on the show was riddled with controversy, leading to her being branded the “most hated woman in Britain”, Goody’s public image softened upon the news of her diagnosis in 2008.
Her cancer diagnosis was widely credited with sparking a surge in requests for cervical screenings by younger women, which reversed a decline over the previous decade. She had two sons during her relationship with TV presenter Jeff Brazier: Bobby, who was born in 2003, and Freddy, born the following year. Jeff Brazier, who rose to fame on the reality TV show Shipwrecked, raised Bobby and Freddy after Goody’s death, keeping them out of the public eye while they were still children.
Before then, both Bobby and his younger brother made appearances in Goody’s spin-off reality shows after her stint on Big Brother. These included the 2005 series Jade’s Salon, Just Jade (2006), and Jade’s Wedding (2009). Bobby also featured in the 2010 documentary released by Living following her death, titled Jade: A Year Without Her.
In an interview with The Times earlier this year, Bobby described his EastEnders castmates as friends and said he “always knew” that when an opportunity like the soap came along, he’d deliver. He won the Rising Star prize at this year’s National Television Awards.
“Not a whole lot,” Bobby responded when asked how much he remembers of his mother. “Maybe memories of memories. I’m always being told about her and what she meant to people. I guess I know my mum through other people’s memories of my mum.”
Bobby describes himself as a spiritual person, who went on a journey of self-discovery after leaving school aged 16. “For two years through [Covid-19] I got away with not doing anything,” he told The Times.
Sign up now for a 30-day free trial
“I did an apprenticeship [in social media], left that, played football, but had a lot of time to sit with myself. That’s when I started to meditate, to look at myself and think, ‘Right, this isn’t who you are.’ It’s gradually been a process of letting go and going deeper into my heart space. It’s been a real journey and will continue to be.”
Bobby added that he believes there is a different between therapy and spirituality, saying: “For me spirituality is the therapy above therapy. People will probably not grasp what I’m saying, but it makes sense to me. I think I’m a healer. I’m more of a healer than I am an actor or a model. I feel like people are put through certain things and given certain traumas because they’re ready for it, and can heal through it and then heal other people. That’s where I get all my fulfilment from.”
Speaking about his involvement in Strictly, he said: “I’m so excited to be part of the Strictly lineup, I can’t wait to start training like a professional dancer and adding a few moves to my locker.
“I’m looking forward to performing in front of everyone, it’s going to be so much fun!”
Meet the full lineup of Strictly Come Dancing 2023 contestants here.
Strictly Come Dancing returns Saturday 16 September at 6.35pm on BBC One.