SOUTHAMPTON’S Kai Widdrington has taken the nation by storm with his appearance on Strictly Come Dancing.

Last week saw him and his celebrity partner AJ Odudu receive their highest score of the series for their romantic American Smooth, and the pair are set to dazzle today with a samba.

The pro dancer grew up in Chandler’s Ford and attended St Swithun Wells Catholic Primary School and Toynbee School.

Kai learnt to dance in Hedge End at A&L Dance Academy and later had lessons at Dizzyfeet Dancing.

Despite living away from Southampton, he has close links to the city that he loves.

Kai said: “I love being from Southampton. I grew up there and the majority of my childhood was spent in Southampton and my memories as a youngster and a teenager come from being there.

“There’s not many people from Southampton who are famous, other than Craig David, so it’s nice to put Southampton on the map.

Daily Echo: Kai Widdrington and AJ Odudu. Photo: BBC Kai Widdrington and AJ Odudu. Photo: BBC

“I try to come back to Southampton whenever I can, but during Strictly it’s hard because I virtually have zero free time. My friends asked me to go to the pub with them last week and I was like, ‘when?’.

“There’s not much time right now, but hopefully after Christmas I can.”

This is Kai’s first year as a Strictly professional, although he did appear in last year’s group dances.

He is hoping that being on the show will help to inspire young dancers from Southampton.

Kai said: “There weren’t many dancers I could look up to from my childhood. It was only those in the movies or watching people like Michael Jackson that really inspired me to do dancing as a kid.

“I hope that I can be of little help to those who want to dance and are from Southampton. If it does help, then I’m doing my job.”

Today will see Kai and AJ take to the dancefloor to perform their fourth dance of the competition – a Samba.

Speaking about the upcoming performance, AJ said: “It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s really hurting my feet.

“But we’re having lots of fun. It’s a brand-new opportunity to learn and I have Kai who is so passionate and so brilliant at dancing.

“It’s a new dance, a new challenge but we’ve got a great song and I’ve got a great teacher.”

Kai added: “We’re just going to try and do our best each week and the judges will have their own views and their own opinions on it.

“Hopefully the dance impresses them as much as it does the people at home.

“We’re doing alright so far; we’ve got a nine each week. If we keep that going then we’re on to having a good run on the show.”

Keep an eye on our Instagram page @dailyecho for a special message from Kai and AJ.