29th September 2022

Tyler West Q&A: Strictly, Team GB Handball – and fist bumping King Charles

Fans among us of Saturday night staple Strictly Come Dancing may notice a familiar face in the celebrity line up for this year’s series. 

That’s because former Team GB handball ace-turned radio DJ Tyler West is taking part in this year’s show, pairing up with professional dancer Dianne Buswell.

They kicked off their 2022 series last weekend, doing an American Smooth to Harry Styles hit Falling, receiving a score of 22 from the judges. 

But how did Tyler’s rise to celebrity status come about, and what role did handball play? 

Below, he speaks to England Handball about how he got into the sport, getting told off for talking in training, fist bumping King Charles III – and how featuring on Strictly is a “dream come true”.  

Can you tell us a little about your handball history?

I began playing handball at school. My school, Carshalton boys, was the South England handball academy. From a serious amount of training, I made it into the England u16s progressing up to the GB u21s. It was during one of my handball training sessions I was interviewed by CBBC and this was my first step into the world of TV.  

Is handball a sport you’ve always enjoyed, or did you play other sports when you were younger?

I played basketball a lot when I was growing up and I found that some skills from basketball were transferrable for me with handball. When I was introduced to handball at 15 I glued to the sport as quick as I was introduced to it, and was excited to learn about this new sport and where it could take me, it was SO fun, I have some amazing memories from playing.  

Are there any standout moments you can remember from your handball career?

My first international fixtures abroad at the Partille Cup in Sweden were so exciting and I loved travelling with the whole squad. Just seeing how big handball was around the world was surreal. I then also scored my first goal and discovered I could hipshot. 

What is it about handball that makes it such a great sport in your opinion?

The physicality and exciting atmosphere. I don’t think people realise that handball is so different from other sports especially when you embrace the culture of it. It’s such a fast paced game and whether your team is winning or losing, it can change in minutes. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your life outside of handball as a DJ?

So from getting told off by Ricardo Vasconcelos, Bobby White or sparky Mark Hawkins for talking too much in training, to working in radio and talking to millions is quite similar! To then performing DJ sets around the world, the only difference is 99% of the people in the crowd have better dance moves than the coaches (not that that’s so hard). It’s a two-step for me now and not a three step. 

How did you end up getting into the music/radio industry?

Music has always been a passion of mine and I’ve worked on TV from when I was 18, through various different channels and TV shows. I then produced an original podcast with the aim to get into the world of radio and from there Kiss invited me down for a radio demo. After that the rest was history. 

Are there any career highlights for you so far? A memorable festival for example?

I’ve met some of my heroes along the way, from Idris Elba, JLo, Ricky Gervais, Jack Black, some of my idols in the world of film, music and TV. But an iconic moment must’ve been fist bumping King Charles III - we’re now homeboys. 

Any other interests outside of this (we spotted that fashion, film sport and fitness are all in there!)?

I’m obsessed with movies and Biscoff biscuits - I have a packet of Biscoff every night before bed. 

Is Strictly something you’ve always wanted to do?

Strictly Come Dancing is an absolute dream. It’s something I’ve always dreamt of doing. It’s been such a big part of my family so it’s always been up there on my bucket list. It doesn’t matter where you started, it doesn’t determine where you end up. I am SO excited that the Strictly dance floor is part of my journey. 

What do you think will be the hardest part about the show?

I think the technical bits, it’s not just a step to the left and time your movements, it’s point your toe and do the right heel. Also, I thought my feet would hurt on a handball court. Nah. The dance floor is another level. 

What are you looking forward to the most?

Honestly all of it. Every week learning a new dance, getting sewn into the maddest of costumes and putting on a good show for the nation every Saturday night! If you’re smiling when you watch it, enjoy it with the family, feel motivated or just laugh, then I’ve done what I hoped to do.

Posted in England Handball Association, Premier Handball League