The BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing has successfully ridden the waves of TV tribulation for eight years. In that time we have seen everything from Arlene-gate, voting fiasco’s and if you wait long enough the occasional mesmeric dance performance. September saw the premiering of its 10th glittering series. The show on average pulls over 9 million viewers a week so producers can rest easy in the knowledge that they are doing something right. So what has this series held in store so far?
This year welcomed prima ballerina Darcey Bussell to the judging panel and has finally restored a shred of credibility to the line-up after three series of Alesha “You guys was amazing!” Dixon. Although, undoubtedly a ballerina by trade, Bussell danced an American Smooth in the launch show that banished any chatter that she is simply a ballet girl, it was beautiful, with both extensions and technique to kill for. Moreover, she is articulate, knowledgeable and has the strong grasp of English grammar that her predecessor so lacked! Gone are the empty statements about how fierce everything is and in are the critiques on dance technique such as when she advised Dani Harmer (of Tracey Beaker fame) to exaggerate every movement of her Cha Cha and gave Richard Arnold (no, me either) the advice to clench his glute muscles to help with the tilt of his hips. I doubt such constructive assistance is in the vocabulary of la Dixon. In addition, Darcey also brings with her a fascinating hybrid accent which is worth a listen in itself, it falls somewhere between ponyclub goes on a gap yah to Sydney but I’ll leave you to see for yourself.
So what of the competition then? As ever it’s “The biggest and best series ever and so tense … “Oh my God, can you deal with the tension of what awful dress Tess will have been squeezed into? Of course not! Olympic Golden Girl Victoria Pendleton and bad boy of Ballroom, Brendan Cole certainly made for an eye catching pair in the launch show, and so the nation made a collective gasp when it transpired in her Cha Cha that most citizens can negotiate the staircase after a heavy night on the town with more grace than Pendleton. Annoyingly, however, she comes with the “Nations Sweetheart” tag swinging around her neck and the judges are nervous to criticise her.
The surprise of the series so far has to be Lisa Riley. At the launch all assumed she would be the comedy joke act every series features … but no, Riley can move. Her opening Cha Cha was something of a sensation and her Jive was similarly energetic and rhythmical even if costume did dress her as a boudoir lampshade. It remains to be seen whether she is exposed as a one trick pony as she has already danced most of the faster Latin styles already.
Another Olympian, gymnast Louis Smith has fared rather better than his medal winning counterpart and his Tango from this weekend prompted the judges to dust off their 9 paddles for the first time this series. Smith and partner, Flavia (Strictly veteran and target of girl crushes throughout the country) are aesthetically perfect in stature as well as technique and I can easily see them pulling out stunning routines on a weekly basis, in what has at times been a bland crop of celebrity hoofers.
All in all after four series without her I still miss the passion of Arlene dreadfully but Darcey’s fresh and insightful words enhance the show with dance credibility, making Strictly definitely worth catching so you can see for yourself that Miss Bussell rocks. Okay yah?
First published on www.londondance.com