For once, one of them is actually exciting! Well…for me anyway.
Remember 2010? Remember the cull? The smell in the air like frying bacon? Matthew, Ian, Darren, Brian and Lilia all being sloppily dispatched, their replacement pros looking kind of…lame, the unholy news of the creation of Strictly Pan’s People, the promise of a “new and exciting” dance style (what did that turn out to be in the end incidentally? Swingamajig? Ghostbusters? Whatever it was Michelle Williams was doing most of the time?). The turmoil was tremendous. The wailing, the gnashing of teeth, the rending of garments, the going over of every interview with the surviving pros with a fine toothcomb then hurling abuse at them if they weren’t sufficiently distraught. Everyone wondered if this was the show choosing to respond to the freefall it was in after driving over the edge of a cliff at the end of Series 7, not by deploying a parachute, but by repeatedly bashing its face into the cliff-face on the way down.
And then everything was mostly fine. In the end. Livable at least.
Well, this year’s set of changes are positively small fry in comparison. So let’s hop to them, starting with the most painful.
But Claudia, we weren’t even bored-a-ya : Yes that’s right, my devotion to godawful lyrical puns is truly the most painful prospect of the oncoming series. You wait until I re-write the words to Edge Of Glory to be about Anton’s chest-hair. Then you’ll be sorry. Coming in shortly after this is the fact that there will be no more Claudia on It Takes Two. The horror. I mean, yes, she’s still on the Results Show but…well we all remember what the Results Show is like yes? Big ol slice of Who Cares? It Takes Two on the other hand is the 6:30pm glue that holds the whole show together. It’s where Jodie Kidd produced her breast. Where Brian broke down in tears over Ali’s stubbed toe. Where Craig got drunk and sang like a drag queen EVERY YEAR. Where Carol Vorderman rang up to scream abuse at Arlene Phillips. Where Jared learnt how to be a spy by marching into bars announcing boldly “SO WHERE’S THE BOMB?” to his contact. Where the Christmas Tree was rooting for Matt Dawson. Where Erin fell in love with a machine, and Lilia fell in hate with one. Where Aliona said things about custard that really any sane person would keep to themselves and Artem proclaimed his desire to be reborn as a coffee-maker so he could make everyone happy in the morning THE GIANT WUSS. Where a thousand restraining orders served on Marian Keyes were born. Where Sergeantgate went to die in a glorious one-hour technicolour explosion of overwrought naffness that will never be bettered. Where if you stepped on the right note at the right time you’d gain points, but if you stepped on the wrong note at the wrong you’d lose points. Where Pauline Quirke admitted to voting for everyone every single week and we all backed away slowly. Home of the Friday Panel, Len’s Masterclass, Choreography Corner, Ask Len, that Stats Man who was always wrong about everything, and the only place on British Television you’d ever see a Michael Ball music video. And at the centre of the madness was Claudia. And when we turn in this series at 6:30 and it’s Zoe Ball, or Fern Britton, or Lisa Snowdon dressed up in bacofoil, it won’t be the same. Come back soon Claudia. At least do the Xmas one. Do you really want to miss Craig off his tits on drambuie singing the Destiny’s Child version of the Twelve Days Of Christmas? Even for a baby?
Be On Your Way Jared Murillo : So…someone got Hayley Holt’d didn’t he? It always seemed like, if anybody was being thrown overboard this series it’d be Jared. He got shock-booted with an early contender and, unlike Flavia and Kristina, he didn’t have a wellspring of goodwill built up from past appearances, so he got the chop. He also never really stood out as a dancer, except for the fact that he looked like he’d fallen out of the cast of a Bugsy Malone revival. I for one will miss him, if only on the grounds that really jokes about a ballroom dancing virgin Mormon in a boyband write themselves much more than gags about…say…Flavia do. Except when she unleashes her tango natch.
It’s all about Pasha, Pasha, Pasha : OK, I have to admit, my reaction to the BBC press release this series was about 3 hours of incoherent leaping up and down with excitement that Pasha Kovalev is going to be a pro on the UK version. I knew my So You Think You Can Dance USA obsession would pay off for me more than encouraging people to watch the UK version and then hearing the collective “…oh. This?”. Now I get to proselytise at everyone about Pasha. He’s super-handsome in a mushy faced, gap-toothed, over-active eyebrow kind of way. He dances not too shabbily really by my eyes, often without wearing a shirt if you’re into that sort of thing. (There was also one week where he danced the rumba to Bonnie Tyler at a mannequin. We try to forget about that one.) He’s got the sort of dorky upbeat personality that’ll fit in quite well on Strictly I’d imagine. My only qualm is how they’ll deal with the fact that it’d be very very easy to make him appear an Artem redo when they are BOTH AMAZING IN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT WAYS. I have my hopes up Evil Moira Ross, don’t let me down.
Death Of A Dance Troupe : So yes, Old Yellah got took out the back and shot in the head. The two line disposal of them at the end of the press release was quite bitterly hilarious. I half expected a promise that the dance troupe would never come back, honest, don’t worry. I’d kind of glad and surprised they’ve given up on the idea, because really this is the sort of thing the BBC usually let flap on for longer than they should in stubborn refusal to admit they made a mistake. I’ll miss Ian and Darren, but I did most of my mourning last series. They were always gone, it’s just taken until now for it to stick. Part of me had hoped that they’d find another 6ft 6 Glamazon for Ian to partner, but that part of me will now be devoted to hoping he wrests control of Choreography Corner off Karen Hardy. I’ll miss Lovely Shem, but he’s all over ITV dancing in the back of everything anyway, so I’m sure I’ll see his face and other notable parts on a regular basis. I erm…quite like the black woman as well? Tanya? Yeah, I’m thinking this segment is telling its own story…
The rumours that there is going to be a same-sex couple this year and it is going to involve Anton and oh the horror, the horror, the unimaginable horror : No. Just…no.