Okay, so it’s finally here … after what always seems too long of a wait, it. is. here. Not, however before we had to endure some girl winning £1600 for kicking herself in the head on Epic Win. I could write a whole other blog about that but I won’t because I clearly don’t have a bitter or twisted bone in my body.
Last year’s opening dance involved all 14 professionals and was to “Boys and Girls” by Pixie Lott and for some reason has always stuck in my head. I think it was the coming together in one moment of all the dancers dancing together once again after 8 months after having not seen them on TV all together in the “Strictly” capacity for this long there’s a a sense of anticipation I’ve grown to feel … What unattractive shade of red will Aliona’s hair be this year? Will Brendan have developed middle aged spread …. which pro will get the “Is she pregnant?” speculation surrounding her all series? So the show starts and there we have out 2011 pro’s, unchanged from last year other than in the dumping on the incapable Jared Murillo for the very much more experienced and talented seeming Pasha Kovalev. I watched the opening routine to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” omitting little yelps intermittently like an unfortunate sufferer of tourettes syndrome – I can never contain my excitement. (Most of) my favourite dancers, all dancing together for the first time in months, dancing to one of my favourite songs of the year, in what of course were some sexy, short costumes that with out fail make me wish I was a stone lighter. It’s pure televisual perfection!
And from a quick production point of view, something I know nothing about, the set is the same as last year with the balcony at the top and as seems the tradition with each series that passes the BBC will attempt to fit more of the public into that tiny studio audience. I look forward to series 17 where it will probably be standing room only and the oxygen starts running out. The costumes are great, although I didn’t understand the relevance of everyone wearing blue/green.
I’m not going to pour praise on the thing because everyone knows I love it. However the opening number didn’t give me chills on the first viewing like the Pixie Lott number did last year. The choreography seemed a little clumsy and the BBC cleverly didn’t tell us who was responsible for it although I assume it was Karen Bruce who choreographed the celeb/pro group number seen at the end.
And yes, Bruce and Tess are still there … hanging on, refusing to let some fresh blood take over for another year. Initially one of Tess’s boob’s looking like it’s trying to make an early escape when Bruce grabs her for a shuffle off the staircase to introduce the fourteen celebrities my Winter months will be filled with thoughts of this year.
Credit where it’s due I truly believe this is one of the strongest line-ups ever in terms of the high profileness of the celebrities. I have usually heard of about five of the contestants – tops. This year, however, no less than 12/14! Names that caused me particular excitement were Alex Jones, Rory Bremner and Chelsee Healey although on seeing the latter talk I realised she doesn’t actually act in Waterloo Road, she just plays herself!
So first to be paired up are:
Robbie Savage & Ola Jordan – Big tick. I like this pairing. Robbie seems shy and unassuming in a Gavin Henson kind of way but with a better personality. Ola looks sensational as always.
Dan Lobb & Katya Virshilas – Looking at the group dance he is going to be a lot of work.
Harry Judd & Aliona Vilani – A massive sigh from the Strictly loving nerds. Aliona blew it last year with weak choreography for Matt and doesn’t really deserve another chance with what will undoubtedly be a talented partner this year.
Now it was time for the new boy, Pasha to show us what he can do in a dance designed to showcase his talent. The lucky boy had the skills of all seven female pro’s at his disposal and it made for a quick, sexy and very impressive routine full of intricate choreography. I can’t decide if his dance style is a bit feminine or not, he’s hot anyway, so big tick there and I have no doubt of his technical skill, the lack of which made Jared look like a joke last year. I also couldn’t help but notice here that Katya seemed to be getting a lot of focus in this dance and the other professional dance, she could very possibly be becoming a Beeb favourite this year.
Next pairings: Chelsee Healey & Pasha Kovalev – Much to my disappointment she has about as much class as a Kerry Katona on a hen night, but I’m putting all my hope in the Pash to transform her into a lady, a bit like how Matt Cutler refined Alesha Dixon in series 5. Also, can we have a word with whoever is styling Chelsee? I’m not buying this whole “tart with a heart” persona. She has a beautiful figure and high waisted, jewell encrusted shorts with a slutty basque is not the was to showcase it!
Anita Dobson & Robin Windsor – Interesting partnership, I’d like to have seen her with Anton or James. I see her as a bit of a Cherie Lunghi, judging from the group dance she can certainly move and has an amazing figure. Robin did a good job with Patsy last year although I could never really take to him, especially after my awkward encounter with him at Move It in March I’m very dubious. Hopefully some of Anita’s inherent niceness will rub off on him and they will be spectacularly gay and showbiz together.
Lulu & Brendan Cole – Undoubtedly the BEST reaction when discovering their partner, ever! Lulu was clearly expect someone who would match her height, such as Vincent, but no the producers clearly want fireworks, and a few years ago I would have said you would get them by pairing her with the Cole but has no one cottoned on the fact the boy has MELLOWED in recent series? He’s settled, got himself a wife and everything. He’s all grown up. He doesn’t do the stompy fits anymore, that stuff is left for James Jordan. (also married but it’s not the point) So as much as I think the Beeb will be hoping an explosion, I don’t think they’ll get it. (And can we just talk about how Lulu look vaguely hot for 62?)
We then had a VT or group training, always interesting to see who gets on with who and as per usual they seem a happy crew at this stage although I’ve still not seen Nancy exchange words with anyone other than herself.
Next pairings: Jason Donovan & Kristina Rihanoff – Interesting and not an obvious partnership but on reflection I think it’s slightly inspired. Finally someone Kristina can get her teeth into, in a dance capacity that is. I clocked immediately than Donovan is in this for the long run, he’s taking each step deadly seriously, clearly panto didn’t want him this year and he’s here to get himself noticed for good reasons.
Rory Bremner & Erin Boag – This pairing really pleases me. I’ve seen Rory interviewed a couple times and the fact he is completely in love with the whole experience already makes me very happy. I like it when people appreciate what a wonderful opportunity Strictly is. Erin, by far the most classy, adept and skilled professional in the ballroom, and knowing where Rory’s talents will lie (if anywhere) it will be in the ballroom. They can just have fun with the Latin. I wish them well, I think they’ll be sweet. He’s probably the type to cry when he gets voted out – I like that.
Audley Harrison & Natalie Lowe – Had to be so with the height. It’s about time Natalie got a touch of reality after two years of coasting through to the semi-final. Judging from the group dance, Audley possesses less dance aptitude than a dance off between Widdy & Sargeant. This will be a test of Nat’s teaching skills, but I predict an early exit due to lack of fanbase.
Russel Grant & Flavia Cacace – There are obvious jokes I could make but I won’t because I think his enthusiasm could take him a long way. He moved that bulk of his quite effortlessly in the group dance and I think could be a surprise hit. Flavia needn’t worry. Everyone knows she’s wonderful by now. having five series under her belt.
Alex Jones & James Jordan – Here are my favourites. Over the last few months on hearing rumours I’ve watched Alex with interest on The One Show and really like her. She has a lovely down-to-earth personality and comes across as the kind of friendly girl who would talk to anyone and it probably grateful for everything that comes her way. Moreover, the Beeb will be praying she does well so they can plug the show into oblivious every evening on TOS. She’s paired with, James, the man who has had no end of decent partners and still never held the glitterball. I sure hope they do this year, although Alex needs to work on how she uses her spine straight away if the group dance is anything to go by. She reminded me of Christine Bleakley in that sense.
Edwina Currie & Vincent Simone – Well, I don’t like either of them. One is a little too arrogant for my liking the other slagged off my favourite celebrity’s dinner party on Come Dine With Me. Karma’s coming guys … mwahahaha.
Holly Valance & Artem Chigvintsev – Another interested and unpredicted pairing. I wonder does it bother anyone else that Holly is stunning but doesn’t have a waist to speak of? SHE IS PLANK WOMAN. WHAT IS GOING ON THERE. And I don’t care what anyone says, she’s still living off her “Kiss Kiss” fame from NINE years ago. Good luck Artem, she’s no winner, the public won’t love her enough, but I predict top 6. Also interesting to note Artem’s lack of poker face when he thought Edwina was coming his way.
And finally. Nancy Dell’Olio & Anton Du Beke FINALLY, THE GODS ARE REJOICING, ANTON HAS A PARTNER WHO CAN WALK IN A SRAIGHT LINE WITHOUT AN ISSUE. But at what a price! She is completely hideous, in her personality. In looks she is quite attractive but only in an intimidating, woman-who-wears-leopard-print-and-steals-your-husband sense. (Thanks go to Clare Balding for that one.) I hope Anton grinds her down into a blubbing wreck at some point … but it’s probably about as likely as hearing that Matt Cutler kills puppies.