Steven Arnold & Nina Ulanova
It’s such an honour to finally be involved in the casting process for a reality tv show I can’t tell you. Year after year I sit in front of pointless fodder contestants and think “I never would have put them on the show”, and now, finally, MY VOICE CAN BE HEARD! Admittedly, it doesn’t really SEEM much a casting process as a couple of early double eliminations masquerading as a “pre-show”, but hey, Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby kept on telling me otherwise, over and over again, and who am I to doubt their word. To be honest, in my position of power as Casting Director, Steven Arnold would be my choice to slice out on the male side this early on because I’m not a fan of “comedy routines” at the best of times, never mind in week 1, never mind to flipping “House Of Fun”. It’s a shame, because his Brand New Pro Partner seems like a laugh, in that she’s a comedy Evil Russian who does things like calling Steven too fat to live and giving him comedy evil glares every time he stumbled (which…was a lot) but well, we’ve already got Frankie One-Name The Evil Pixie-Witch for those duties. Not sure we need another, or at least not enough to have put up with the second coming of Todd Carty, except even more florid. I can’t wait for him to totally spontaneously skate into Torvill & Dean’s Spectator Chairs or something. He survived. This once. I’m hoping when the judges (…and we’ll get to them, oh how we’ll get to them) count for something, he might bugger off.
Angela Rippon & Sean Rice
Our first casualty then (although only chronologically, as I’d wager cash-dollars she got more votes than Nadia Swahala), and rather hilariously so, as she was once a judge on this very show. I know it’s in reverse, but that’s a bit like if, instead of signing Alesha Dixon onto Strictly, they instead went for Stephanie Beacham. Except that would have been legit AMAZING (and played to her primary performance strength of having a nice sit-down) so scratch that thought. Angela Rippon’s brief stay on the show saw her represent a phenomenon not common on this show, but always obvious when it happens – that of a very BBC personality suddenly let loose on a very ITV show. It’s all very well to be an Inspirational and graceful older woman Angela, producing a restrained and balletic and smooth number to Etta James, but you’re on a COMMERCIAL CHANNEL now bitca. Get off your tits on lasers and fall on your arse, and stop being so bloody stagey. I wasn’t overly stuck on her new partner, because he’s a patented Dancing On Ice Burly “Bet You Never Thought A Pro Skater Could Be This Butch Or This Boring Eh Ladies?” and they’re always crap and dull (cept that one who looked a bit like the inbred banjo player child from Deliverance) but then he decided to tell us all that Angela both lived to inspire and inspired to live, which is, I think, the most idiotic thing I’ve heard on a reality show in a while (she’s an ex-newsreader.) and therefore he can come back next series. I think I would have kept her, just for age equality sakes, but…not great.
Laura Hamilton & Colin Ratushniak
There’s generally a rule on this sort of show that if you can’t really understand why they were cast, in terms of fame, or bringing something to the show, then it’s because they’ve got some sort of latent natural talent (see : Pamela Stephenson). And so it proved with Laura Hamilton, a random Nick Jr presenter who literally nobody watching had heard of. No. No. Don’t lie and say you had. You totally hadn’t. And yet…this then didn’t matter, as she burst onto the show in a glamorous burst of OTT Positive energy, screaming some obnoxious 5 year olds song in her VT, taking a chunk of muscle out of her own leg in training and not really caring, and then charging around the floor doing cartwheels and backflips to Kelly Clarkson’s last gasp of relevance with her boobs flying literally everywhere, as her partner – French Stewart from Third Rock From The Sun, with NO EYES did actual backflips and stuff. Never has someone gone from “who?” to “yay!” in my living room in such a short time. Although apparently in my living room alone, as she then polled fewer votes than Vanilla Ice, and found herself skating for her life. Ah well. She’ll have judges scores to save her in the immediate future, as she BLOODY WELL SHOULD HAVE.
Johnson Beharry VC & Jodeyne Higgins
Oh boy. Obviously this is genius and amazing casting, and he is an actual inspiration on both a Victoria Cross and a Cool Runnings level, and I particularly enjoy his hair-cut, both because it’s a constant reminder of how awesome and bad-ass and brave he was in carrying on driving that AV and its crew to safety after taking gun-fire to the face, and also because it makes him look a bit like a human Matroyshka Doll. But on the other hand I can’t say as I’m rubbing my hands with glee at the prospect of all the tedious Hero/Soldier/Disability wank that goes with this sort of person being on reality tv, with everyone deciding they know why everyone else is voting for somebody and the inherent rightness/wrongness therein. I had much more fun casting side-eyes at the crazy Boyzone “DOIN IT 4 STEVEN!” power-voters last year than I’m going to enjoy wading through this. And of course thank you to that sole woman screeching “YOU’RE A HERO!” at him through the eerie silence before his routine But…cut through all that, I liked him, his skating wasn’t awful (screw off Jason…)good. His Brand New Pro partner seemed a bit pretty and bland, but then she is married to Mr “Live To Inspire, Inspire To Live”, so maybe there’s inner reserves of batshit crazy in there waiting to burst out. I damn well hope so.
Nadia Sawalha & Mark Hanretty
I kind of think there should be a rule that, once you’ve won a reality show, or at least a major channel one, not, like Deadline or some shit, you shouldn’t be allowed to do another one. Or at least discouraged from it. Because I remember Nadia Sawalha cutting through the second series of Celebrity Masterchef in a terrifyingly awesome “probably could have competed to a Finals Level on the Non-Celebrity Version” kind of way, and generally being an inspiration, and now my last reality tv memory of her is her wobbling around, barely able to stay upright to Proud Mary, doing weird arm-things whilst being partnered with a Brand New Pro who looked an awful lot like Michael York. I guess if she’d gone on she could have been a genial enough Comedy Contestant, but really I think she should have been spared the indignity, and she would have been the female cast member from this half of the draw I would have cut, if I’d had to, although to be fair, that’s only because Katona’s run on this show feels too much like Destiny to be able to swim against. Also, to be honest, her egregious crawling to Jason pushed me over the edge slightly. Nobody needs to encouraging Jason Gardiner to speak MORE on this programme.
Kerry Katona & Daniel Whiston
With Kerry Katona and Daniel Whiston I feel a bit like I’m back I’m back last year with Mad Heather and Lovely Matt again. Except that Kerry is unstable in a slightly less exciting and hilarious way than Mad Heather was, and also Lovely Matt > Lovely Daniel forever, you know it’s true, don’t bring your “Two Titles” nonsense at me, Stefan Booth WUZZ ROBBED. So, whilst her presence on the show is an obvious necessity, just to reinforce the whole ITV-ness of the edifice, I don’t think I can wring out as much enjoyment as I did from Mad Heather. I mean, when she said in her VT that she was putting all the bad stuff behind her and this was going to be a fresh new start it felt like the start of every single programme made about her, none of which I’ve seen any of outside of inter-programme adverts, but which I feel like I know all too well anyway. Like, woo, I’m happy, I’m doing this for my kids, I’m trying to get myself clean and respectable, I don’t want to be an embarrassment… been there, done that, will end up being disappointed when she upchucks on the ice during a triple toe-loop. Who knows, maybe this really is Kerry “putting herself right” but… she seems kind of abstracted already, just vaguely mumbling witchity grubs and muttering off into the ether about nothing at all. Poor Daniel. Winning always means a comedown the following series but…Kerry Katona.
Jeff Brazier & Isabelle Gauthier
Can anyone remember who Emma Bunton fancied last series? Because I know it was somebody, and I know it was bloody annoying, but I can’t quite remember who it was, and my brain keeps on telling me that it was Dr Hitlary, which is clearly wrong. This, the section for Jeff Brazier, who was alright, with a Brand New Pro Partner, who was also alright, and also nothing particularly exciting, outside of her name, which is , is probably as good a place as any to make reference to just how stupid the judging panel this year is. Because my God it really is. For a start, suddenly deciding that you’re going to score out of 10 is kind of bizarre. I mean, the old scoring system was basically scoring out of 12, and you’d think you’d want to keep that increased range when you decrease the judges, not decrease it. Also – only one of them has any real working knowledge of skating whatsoever. We don’t even know if Bunto can skate. But the worst bit (THE VERY WORST) is that Karen is still there, except on the other side of the studio, and she is still having arguments with Jason, but this time from the other side of the studio, so they both have to SHOUT VERY LOUDLY at each other about how much they disagree, and then at the end, she doesn’t even get a score. This is going to go on all series, and it’s barely amusing NOW. Anywho – Jeff Brazier – alright, bit annoying, can stay.
Vanilla Ice & Katie Stainsby
(/Vanilla Ice & Bonnie Tyler/Stevie from Miranda/Lightning From Gladiators). As officially 1/10millionth of this show’s Casting Director I have to say I approve whole-heartedly approve of casting people based solely on their names. Surely we need more pun-related contestants than just Vanilla Ice though? TV historian Dan Snow? Star of Famous & Fearless Jenny Frost? One of the people from Coldplay who aren’t Chris Martin? Whatever – more pun related names. I’ll always have a soft spot for Vanilla Ice for his epic feud with Paul Daniels on The Farm, the second greatest The Farm feud of all time (after Lionel Blair vs Flavor Flav (*fans self*)), but I can’t help feeling that this performance was a mite over-rated. Certainly I can’t see Jason’s opinion that it was the best performance of the night. Maybe you had to be there to see those devil-horn hands for real to appreciate it. I guess it makes a change for a male celebrity to be over-praised for constant lifts rather than a female one. Still, he makes my official Cast List.
Now who’s next? Oh. A Madeley.