Tessa van Duuren is a South African model, professional A-grade show jumper and television presenter best known as a continuity announcer for SABC1, from 2006-2008.
She won the presenting job on SABC1 in a nationwide search for presenters conducted by the channel in April 2006, in which the final positions were decided by viewer voting.
Van Duuren grew up on a farm with her older brother, a life she says was a privilege because of her love for horses. Her father owns an engineering company in the Western Cape.
After she finished her matric she moved to Rondebosch and studied a BA in film and media production at the University of Cape Town. During that period she worked as a newsreader at the campus radio station for a year.
She also produced and edited a number of documentaries including a public service announcement for the Vuka Awards.
In February 2006 she moved from Cape Town to Johannesburg to focus on her career as a showjumper, but shortly thereafter won the presenting job on SABC1.
Strictly Come Dancing
Tessa's Strictly Come Dancing 5 Blog
Tessa was one of the 10 celebrity contestants in the fifth season of SABC2's Strictly Come Dancing reality competition, in 2008. Her coach and partner was Grant Esterhuizen.
The first two weeks of the competition were non-elimination rounds, with the judges scoring dances by the male celebrities in Week 1 and the female celebrities in Week 2. Although the scores didn't count, Tessa and Grant were the top-scoring couple in Week 2.
In Episode 3 - the first elimination episode - Tessa and Grant were the top scoring couple for a second week in a row (32/40), with a graceful, confident Quickstep to the tune of "The Lady is a Tramp".
Dave Campbell loved it – "You were not on a trot... that was a gallop!" He was particularly impressed with their combination of intricate and basic choreography.
Salome Sechele called Tessa "a floating butterfly – certainly no tramp".
In Week 4 - despite scoring 30/40 for second place - Tessa confessed she found the Jive a challenge, going so far as to say “the Jive hates me”.
Her cheeky and energetic rendition with Grant detailed with splits and jumps, however, had the judges raving. Tyrone Watkins suggested that she bring more than the technically correct moves to the party.
In the fifth episode the couple received the night's highest score (30/40), with Tessa gracing the floor in a silver gown reminiscent of a bygone, elegant era.
Dave liked the strength underlining her grace and beauty, and Lilian Phororo – despite noticing various foot faults – loved the way she floated across the dance floor.
In Episode 6 disaster struck.
Tessa and Grant gave the Samba a Wild West-theme, something that would prove a dodgy decision in the long run. Dave commented that she seemed to have one foot in Rio and one in Texas, and that they clearly disrespected the character of the dance.
All judges agreed that, once again, Tessa was the belle of the ball. They scored 27/40.
Despite being clearly the least talented dancer in the competition, racing driver Gugu Zulu and his partner Sarah Cooper were saved from the dance-off by viewer votes, even after scoring the lowest score of the night from the judges.
That placed Tessa and Grant in the Bottom 2 dance-off with actress Hlubi Mboya and Khutso Khunou. The judges and presenters expressed their disapproval at this turn of events, but after the dance-off were forced to elect either Hlubi or Tessa to leave.
Here's who the judges voted to save:
Tyrone Watkins: Tessa
Salome Sechele: Hlubi
Dave Campbell: Tessa
Head Judge Lilian also vouched for Tessa, immediately sending Hlubi home.
The following week - Episode 7 - saw a return to form for Tessa and Grant, once again scoring the night's highest points (30/40).
Dressed in a romantic wide-sleeved turquoise gown, and for the first time with the hair down, their dance got a mixed response.
It left Dave “stone cold”, although he did acknowledge the fluidity and grace. Tyrone noticed good technique and thought that the chosen theme was in line with the character of the dance.
Episode 8 was the first occasion where the final five were expected to bring two flawless attempts to the dance floor, from a selection of styles chosen from the Latin and Ballroom genres.
Tessa and Grant's Rumba got the season's highest score to date – 37 out of a possible 40. Even the judges applauded.
Their confidence and victorious attitude remained during the Waltz, equalling the Rumba's score. With the trophy in sight, Tyrone suggested they dig deep to rekindle the "sizzle".
Garth Collins and Hayley Bennett were eliminated from the show but reinstated the following day after a computer error was detected. Nobody was thus eliminated in Episode 8.
In Episode 9 three couples competed in the dance off for the first time - and two of them finally got the chop: Anele Mdoda and partner Brandon Eilers Le Riche, and Garth Collins and Hayley Bennett.
It was evident from the start that the judges were intent on driving home the fact that Garth did not belong in the final, and that they were disappointed by the public's lack of support for Tessa and Grant.
Couples performed two dances – one during the Ballroom round (a Foxtrot or a Tango) and the second during the Latin round (a Paso Doble or a Jive).
When the judges’ scores and viewer votes were tallied, the three couples that received the lowest judges’ scores seemed to have made a similar impression on the viewing public.
These were the two mentioned above, as well as Cindy Nell and partner Jonathan Broadway.
Tessa and Grant scored 36 for their first dance and 35 for their second, placing them second behind Rob van Vuuren and Mary Martin (and out of the danger zone). They thus made it through to the finale.
In the season finale the couples had to perform three dances. Cindy and Jonathan were eliminated after the first dance, leaving Tessa and Grant to fight for the title with Rob and Mary.
Tessa, elegant as ever in a turquoise ballgown, managed a near perfect 39 for her Waltz with Grant. Tyrone, however, required a bit more “spice” for the next routine.
Their Rumba to “Ain’t No Sunshine When She's Gone” (the routine that got the first perfect 10 score of the series) delivered exactly that. There was consensus though that the couple suddenly appeared nervous.
Their freestyle to a Michael Jackson medley was “wicked” according to Lilian and Grant himself said that dancing to Jacko was “every coloured’s dream”.
The bottom line came from Dave, who said that this couple had set the standard for the series right form the start.
Despite scoring 39, 36 and 37 (for a total of 112/120), Tessa and Grant were nonetheless beaten by Rob and Mary, who scored an incredible 119/120 (only a solitary 9 from Tyrone denied them the full house).
After viewer voting Tessa and Grant were unable to make up ground lost and it was Rob and Mary who won the competition, with Tessa and Grant runners-up.
STRICTLY COME DANCING 5 GALLERY
TessA bit of background
I was born and raised on a farm near Cape Town. I have a degree in Film and Media Production, and was a newsreader on UCT Radio. I have a passion for communications, travel and show-jumping - I competed at International A Grade level with my horse, Romantic Axe.Pet Hate
Pretentious people/trafficFavourite food
SushiFavourite form of relaxation
Taking a long hot bubble bath or chilling on the beachFavourite Tourism destination
Any tropical Island paradise with lots of sunshine and warm seaFavourite hangout
Any place where I can dance to good music with great friendsFavourite Movie
Love Actually. I’m a hopeless romantic.Favourite TV programme
Friends and Desperate HousewivesFavourite actress - Local
Leleti KhumaloFavourite actor - International
Bruce WillisFavourite music
My family and friendsBest advice you received
What you are afraid to do is a clear indicator of the next thing you need to do.Worst advice you received
I’ve never received bad advice. There’s always something you can learn from someone else.Your source of inspiration
Life and all its possibilitiesHow do you keep in shape?
I do tai chi, hip hop dancing and show-jumpingFavourite drink
MiloFavourite item of clothing
Jeans and topsThree words to describe yourself
Passionate, fun-loving, ambitiousWhat qualities do you admire most in a person?
A person who can have fun without caring what they look like or what other people think of them. I also admire people who stay optimistic in any circumstance.You'd never forgive a friend who...
The friends I keep would never do anything unforgivableThe person you SMS the most is...
...my best friendsThe one thing that your life would be meaningless without
Something to do/someone to love/something to hope forOn what do you enjoy spending your money?
Clothes from Y.D.EDo you cook well?
No, I’m a terrible cook. If I had the money, I’d hire a personal chef.Who had the most influence on you as a child?
My MomWhat was the hardest lesson you've learnt?
That I cannot trust every personYour hobbies
Horse-riding, dancing, reading, watching moviesMost memorable experience
Sky-diving over Table MountainTessa's Strictly Come Dancing 5 Blog