BRENDAN Cole is battling back from the flu when I phone him ahead of his new show a Night to Remember which heads into the North West next week.

He may sound a little hoarse and our conversation is interrupted by the odd cough and splutter but his enthusiasm for the dance spectacular remains undiminished.

"There's never a great time to be ill," he said, "but you just keep going."

That's an understatement as he reveals that the previous weekend he had to pull out of a performance for the first time after requiring hospital treatment.

"I got through the Saturday night but needed a quick trip to hospital and I just wasn't well enough to do the Sunday show," he said.

But professional dancers are made of stern stuff and Brendan is looking forward to bringing A Night to Remember to Manchester, Preston and Blackpool as part of a major UK tour.

"I love the feeling of being on the road and I'm very proud of this show," he said.

A Night to Remember is Brendan's third touring production and is, he believes, his best yet.

"I think I've done around 270 shows over three tours now and you learn something from every one of them," said Brendan, one of the most popular professional dancers on the hit BBC show Strictly Come Dancing.

"The touring show is only ever going to be one thing," he said. "It doesn't have a storyline running through it, it is in essence a variety show with professional dancers and a live band.

"The important thing is to think outside the box and make it as spectacular and entertaining as possible and I really believe we have done that.

"When I look back to when I started with touring shows six years ago I feel we have improved the shows so much - you do get better with age.

"I am involved in every aspect of it from the choreography to the sets and from the lighting to the chose of music and I love that.

"It is a very demanding show for all involved but I want to push everyone. With any professional show the art is to make what is actually very difficult look easy."

Brendan, 39, has been part of the Saturday night TV spectacular Strictly from the outset, winning the inaugural series with his celebrity partner, Natasha Kaplinsky. The show has become one of the most watched on TV.

"The great thing about Strictly is that it has brought dance into people's living rooms and demonstrated that as well as being great entertainment it is also an expressive art form," he said.

"The show has been so important for everyone who loves dance. Let's face it, without it," he said tongue-in-cheek, "I would not be a household name."

Over the years Brendan has failed to repeat his initial success on the show and has been paired with celebrities including Olympic champion cyclist Victoria Pendleton, model Kelly Brook and last year, TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher.

"We have absolutely no say in who we get as our partner," said Brendan, "it comes as a complete surprise to us.

"But that's how it should be as it's all part of what makes the TV show work so well. Some of the personalities who are less talented are often great characters and make great viewing. But I would love to win the show again."

Every week on the show, the professionals have to devise dance routines for their partner.

"The good thing about being a professional is there are set bits of choreography which we all know," he said. "There are basic groups of steps which work, the trick is how you go from one group to another, how you link them up and then how you can perhaps take them beyond being just basic.

"Of course that can be where things start to go wrong but generally you do know what works.

"Choreography is something I really enjoy and devising the routines each week is not something I worry about. There are one or two of the pros on the show who really stress about it and will spend all day working out a routine but I just have a think and put something together in about 10 minutes.

"Because we are professionals we are naturally competitive and through that we do improve each other.

"Occasionally you will watch a routine and think 'wow that was good, I might just try that in future'."

Working in such a pressurised and competitive environment you might expect that the pros on the show didn't get on to well, certainly if the tabloids are to be believed.

"For the most part they are all a pretty good bunch," said Brendan. "One or two of them have had their moments but everyone is different.

"You do really need to have team players on board for the show and occasionally an individual might not find that too easy but they get there ... eventually."

Audiences at A Night to Remember will have the chance to learn more Strictly secrets as Brendan has fit a question and answer session into the night's entertainment.

But will he be back for the next series of Strictly in the autumn?

"If I'm free and all is well and good I'd love to be back on the show for another series," he said.

Brendan Cole: A Night to Remember, Manchester Opera House, Saturday, March 6; Preston Guild Hall, Thursday, March 10 and Blackpool Opera House, Friday, March 11.