It’s time for a cast preview.
Vanessa Feltz : And so…it begins. With Vanessa Feltz. That’s right, if you’re reading this next week, having returned from a lovely holiday somewhere Strictly-free, yes they decided to lead this year’s reveal of the cast for Strictly Come Dancing with Vanessa Feltz. No, I’m not sure why either. Often there’s a nagging itch that settles in one’s brain when one reads the new cast for a new year of Strictly. It goes something along the lines of “hang on, haven’t they already done Dancing On Ice/I’m A Celebrity/X Factor : Battle Of The Has-Beens”? Vanessa on the other hand exists on another plane of reality stardom entirely, having done literally everything, on every level, even things that would make Gavin Henson blush. Celebrity Wife Swap. Celebrity Kidney Swap. Celebrity What Service Industry Business Am I Going To Pretend To Set Up Out Of My Living Room For Other Celebrities To Judge Oh Right It’s A Dog Salon This Time Is It Cool. There is pretty much no wide-eyed, pushy, “I Went To Cambridge And I Learned Words There”, slightly frantic, angle of Vanessa Feltz that has not been explored via competition based reality tv. It’s hard to decide whether her peak/nadir was this, or of course that time she had a meltdown on Celebrity Big Brother and scribbled the lyrics to an Alanis Morissette b-side on the dining room table in 10p classroom chalk because…I dunno, early menopause or something. It is in the spirit of optimism that I hope that somewhere the show can find a new flavour of Vanessa Feltz to show us, possibly involving her doing things well, with dignity. FINGERS CROSSED.
Monkseal Suggested Pro Partner : Pasha Kovalev. NO I WAS NOT KIDDING.
Rachel Riley : Personally my interest in Countdown died with Richard Whitley (imagine him on Strictly! Imagine! OH DEATH, YOU ARE SO AWFUL!) just like my interest in Deal Or No Deal died with the light behind Noel Edmonds increasingly mascara’d eyes (don’t imagine him on Strictly *shudders*). But it does feel like beyond time that Rachel Riley took up the mantle of Carol Vorderman, and forge a path in celebrity beyond being the pretty girl who flips the cards over on Countdown and does basic maths, and hopefully doesn’t turn out to be a right-wing nutcase whilst she does it. And let’s face it, The Gadget Show isn’t going to cut it on its own. Rachel Riley seems nice, smart, pretty, has a blandly attractive husband (MY FAVOURITE KIND! STICK HIM IN THE FRONT ROW EVERY WEEK PLEASE, PRODUCERS! BLOCKING OUT JON CULSHAW PREFERABLY!) and has promised to all of us that she can’t dance, so she’s totally non-threatening! I’m quite excited to see if she can do anything as iconic as Vorderumba. Maybe even in a way that doesn’t require scouring your eyeballs with Mr Sheen afterwards.
Monkseal Suggested Pro-Partner : The most overwhelming sensation I get from Rachel Riley is grounded sanity, and let’s face it, after the last…five series, one pro deserves that working environment more than any other. I say give Rachel to Brendan.
Abbey Clancy : I mean…if we were going to go for Britain & Ireland ‘s Next Top Model runner-ups in the cast I would go with all of Joy “Can I Go Now?” McLaren, Louise Who Threatened To Punch Kelly Cuntrone out, Queen Cathreen, Sophie Sumner, or either member of the Evil Axis (imagine Bruce trying to say “Juste Juozapaityte” or “Anastasija Bogatirjova”, IMAGINE IT) over Abbey Clancy, but I guess none of them married an England International after leaving the show, so their star has dimmed too far. Although I’m sure the Evil Axis are working their way through the Championship relegation zone as we speak. Yes, Abbey is the spouse of Peter Crouch (but chose to keep her own surname, odd that) and thus joins a long line of luscious Strictly sexpots only noted for the people they were married to (Jo Wood, Pamela Stephenson) or who they pretended they were (Lisa Clooney, whatever Kelly Brook thought her “dating” Billy Zane came off as), which has got quite a few people wound up over the shabbiness of it all but you try finding a model who isn’t hitched to another famous person. It’s either that or a millionaire property developer and…I would rather Holly Valance stay innocent and pure in the history of Strictly rather than have to suffer some knock-off imitator.
Monkseal’s Suggested Pro-Partner : She feels like a dirty ringer, so really she should go to a newbie and Aljaz just feels…righter. So him.
Susanna Reid : Ever since Sian decided she was too good to move to Salford, Susanna Reid has reigned supreme as Queen of BBC Breakfast TV, like Boudicca but with a slightly bigger breastplate. And I couldn’t be more glad, because her unique combination of regal imperious indifference and willingness to “accidentally” flash her knickers/show a bit of thigh/spend 5 minutes before going on air rubbing her nipples with ice-cubes is unaccountably about the only thing that gets me through the 20 minutes of scanning twitter whilst brushing my teeth that apparently is supposed to serve as my morning routine. Well…it’s certainly not Charlie Stayt at any rate. Susanna has Strictly Form, having won that half-arsed “Battle Of The Sexy Newsreaders” they had a few series ago. Given that said “Battle Of The Sexy Newsreaders” involved them all running round like Benny Hill never happened with Ian Waite serving as an impromptu may-pole I wouldn’t read too much into it. Certain sections of the Internet haaaaaaaaaaaaaate her, certain section of the Internet are apparently contractually obliged to accompany every mention of her name with a “TALK ABOUT “GETTING ME UP IN THE MORNING” HURR HURR HURR”. It’s going to be special. Probably quite short-lived. But special.
Monkseal’s Suggested Pro-Partner : Artem. Just enough talent to keep him happy and busy, not so young that his alleged tantrum over Fern Britton looks like it’s being rewarded.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor : *girds self against the gays* From the moment Sophie Ellis-Bextor was first rumoured I have hoped and prayed that she wasn’t doing the show, because so so many of my friends/passing acquaintances/gays who propositioned me on twitter once and then just sort of stuck around are bona fide fans and…I kind of think she’s the worst mainstream female pop-star Britain ever produced, right up to the second when Eliza Doolittle…birthed itself. And this isn’t just because she only became famous because the British public wanted to spite Victoria Beckham. Honest. “Murder On The Dancefloor” is the sound of someone mumbling over the arse-end of disco, “Take Me Home” quite frankly spits on Cher’s legacy and don’t even get me started on the idea that a pop song should contain the lyric “music gets the best of me, BUT GUESS WHO GETS THE REST OF ME?!?!?”. Not that I don’t like Sophie Ellis-Bextor as a person obviously. She’s Blue Peter royalty. She wears dresses well. She was mildly hilarious in her guest judging slot on Project Catwalk which turned out to be during one of those (frequent) weeks where all the dresses were hideous and she had to pretend otherwise and that she really liked one and would totally wear the one that made her look like a Fuzzy Felt Pocahontas. I will say that, being acquainted with many Sophie EB fans as I am, I hear that she can’t dance for shit.
Monkseal’s Suggested Pro-Partner : Give her to Robin, he’d wet himself
Natalie Gumede : I don’t watch Coronation Street myself, but apparently Natalie Gumede is the latest in that noble tradition of soap villainy : the Domestic Abuser Of The Weeeeeeeeeek. Unlike a glamorous murderess or a handsome gangster, the boo-hiss domestic abuser is doomed to blaze a brief trail of evil and then have a house fall on them, never to return. For some crimes there truly is no return. Charlie Stubbs, Trevor Jordache, Trevor Morgan (something about the name?), Marina “Face Of Evil” Bonnaire. (The major exception being Brendan Brady, which just goes to show that teenage girls really will romanticise any old shit that involves homosexuals). Krazy Kirsty’s Karnage lasted for two whole years, and then she admitted she was evil ALL ALONG and then she went to jail hoorah. All of which rather leaves Natalie Gumede at something of a loose end, so why not parlay her wave of public affection and barely hidden ringer history to an appearance on Strictly Come Dancing? Something to do, isn’t it? There is of course the small problem that Coronation Street actors have always somewhat struggled for votes on BBC 1 reality shows (and vice versa for Eastenders stars on ITV). Maybe she can fake some sort of connection with Blackpool? Maybe she got a cat from there once.
Monkseal’s Suggested Pro-Partner : Kevin Clifton. For too many years now Strictly’s winners have been soft Southern bastards. We need a new IRON NORTHERN ALLIANCE to recreate the glory days of Jill and Darren.
Deborah Meaden : Over the course of the last 7 years, Deborah Meaden has slowly whittled away at the notion of female enterpreneurial excellence on top “recapping what just happened and also 4 minutes of content” business show “Dragons Den” until it was carved solely in her image. It looked like she might have some competition from Hilary Devey for a while there, but then Deborah…shoved her under a bus or something like that (I wouldn’t doubt it). This year more than any other my Sacred Strictly Spreadsheets have been updated with new categories of celebrity. Fashion designer. Golfer. Whatever Fiona Fullerton pretends she did. Food writer but DEFINITELY NOT A CHEF. And now “entrepreneur” (no, Jo Wood does not count, any more than Penny Lancaster counted as a photographer or Jimi Mistry counted as a HOLLYWOOD STAR or Ann Widdecombe counted as a human being). To be fair, we’ve already seen Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne have a go at ballroom dancing for a Children In Need special with Natalie and Lilia, and they were both crap, so it can only be onwards and upwards for Britain’s Business Community from there. I’ve always liked Deborah, because she’s always seemed to me a bit like your friend’s mum who regularly embarrassed them by telling really inappropriate sex stories after two glasses of retsina. And ALSO she’ll give you £75,000 for 42% of your yoghurt idea. What could be better?
Monkseal’s Suggested Pro-Partner : After last year, James needs the edges taking off him again, and I can’t think of anybody who could do a better job out of this line-up.
Fiona Fullerton : No, I’ve no idea either. Do you know her? She’s claiming she was the Bond Girl from A View To A Kill but…we all know who that was right?. God love, at least pick one of the Bond films that nobody remembers, like Octopussy, For Your Eyes Only, or Bedknobs & Broomsticks. I mean, her BBC profile actually contains the line : “A succession of high-profile roles followed in the 80s including Clarice Mannors in the TV series The Charmer.” WHAT TERRIFYING PARALLEL UNIVERSE IS THIS? Anyway, the first law of Strictly states that the less famous someone is the more likely someone is to be a stealth ringer-bitch, so I expect this Fiona person to make Cherie Lunghi look like Esther Rantzen, in terms of dancing talent. Already in her website profile she looks like she’s about to be hosed down in a wet t-shirt contest so…that’s that theme week sorted then.
Monkseal’s Suggested Pro Partner : I would say Anton. Give him someone with potential without making it look ridiculous.