A Witchford dad is among five firefighters to dance alongside Diversity on TV on New Year’s Day after wowing producers with their zombie-themed safety video.
Cambridge Black Watch crew commander Jeff Whitlam, 40, will be joining colleagues Myles Strickland, 23, James Ball, 35, Chloe Housden, 26, and Dom Mould, 29 as they perform on Diversity Presents Steal The Show, which is being broadcast on ITV at 7pm.
The five firefighters were snapped up by TV producers after appearing in a video promoting safer Halloween costumes on behalf of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The producers were wowed by their performance, which shows the group re-enacting Michael Jackson’s Thriller, with the opening shot of one of the firefighters crawling out of a drain dressed as a zombie and another sliding out of a drawer at the back of the rescue vehicle.
Jeff, who lives in Witchford with wife Justine and children Leo, five, and Neve, three, last year appeared in a video promoting chimney fire safety, where the watch performed as chimney sweeps to Mary Poppins hit tune, Step in Time.
Jeff came up with the idea for both videos together with James.
He described the TV performance as a “crazy experience”, adding: “Obviously none of us expected to be on the show from the videos we have done then suddenly we have ended up on a TV show with Diversity.
“We never would have imagined it in our wildest dreams.”
Hosted by dancer and choreographer Ashley Banjo, from the UK’s number one dance troupe Diversity, the show sees three unknown dancers come together in a big dance off, culminating in a prize trip to Las Vegas.
Also part of the show is ‘The Office Dance Off’ – where the Cambridge firefighters go head to head in a dance-off with a group of dentists.
Performing with Black Watch on the night will be Diversity dancers Perri, Warren and Terry, along with Britain’s Got Talent stars Stavros Flatley, a Greek father and son comedy dance duo consisting of Demetrios Demetriou and his son Lagi.
The group is up against a team of dentists from London who are dancing with Ashley and other members of Diversity along with X-Factor rapper Honey G.
At the end of the show, all the dancers come together for what ITV describes as a ‘show-stopping finale performance.’
Jeff jokes that the watch will need to think of a different way to promote a new message next year. But with three of the watch set to move to new stations in January, including Jeff, it means whoever joins next might have to adopt its creative approach to promoting important safety messages on behalf of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service next year.
Since being launched at Halloween, the Thriller spoof has gone viral, being viewed over 220,000 times on CFRS’s Facebook page, featured in an article on The Mirror online and reached far flung countries including New Zealand and Australia.
Black Watch Commander Darren Thompson, who was in the audience last Friday when the show was recorded ‘as live’ at the Pinewood film and TV studios, said: “I was immensely proud of them. They did amazingly well.
“To ask somebody to stand up on stage in front of 400 people is one thing but then to know you are going to be seen by about three million people on New Year’s Day on ITV is another.”