When that song on the trailer went “LET’S SKIP TO THE GOOD BIT!” I automatically replied “what, next year’s series, when Natalie comes back?”. It’s become something of a tic. I’d hate for you to become the same…
Bruce Forsythe is a cock.
Welcome to Strictly 2013. Always remember it’s only three letters from “Pathe” to “Pathetic”.
Anyway, this is all just the beginning of a concerted nostalgia fest aimed to target those people who witlessly chunter “oooh I think I was secretly BORN to live in the 1940s, not these times!” by which they mean they’re a bit racist, like vintage clothes, and should be primed to have a doodlebug dropped on their head any moment. Yes, it’s been a rather sterling spiffing amazing jolly-good year for Britain, what with us winning The Ashes, Kate Middleton evacuating a child from her womb and
advances in Photoshop technology getting ever-greater. Now do him in the middle of the moon-landing, yelling “BACK OFF! BACK OFF!” to Neil Armstrong as he gets out the lunar lander. All of this culminates in the hyping up the Strictly Come Dancing Launch as the one last great national event of the year, as the gathered press take flash photography of the glamorous Bruce and Tess arriving at Elstree in vintage cars.
Dinky ones that make it look a bit like Tess has taken him out for a fun day at Chessington World Of Adventures. Claudia’s riding along behind them on a giant plastic bumblebee. There’s also some feather-light touch comedy about Craig arriving in a motorcycle sidecar which Len only
enhances with his nuanced comic touch. He then spanks Janette on her bum, she yells “AIIIIIIIIIIII! LEN!” and then they run around for the next 5 minutes whilst the Benny Hill music plays.
All the judgery and presentery arrived, it’s time for our CELEBRITIES to roll up. Whoever they may be. I hear that the log-rolling lumberjacks from the Berroca advert might be in this year (*fingers crossed*). The stars are soundtracked by “Applause” by Lady Gaga, or at least, the chorus not the bit where she waffles on about how she’s got all of pop-culture jammed up her Koonst or whatever she’s on about these days. All of them emerge from glittery fog, arm-in-arm, mostly looking look
minor members of the Swedish Royal Family as they do so. The audience cheer and clap and whoop except for one woman who suddenly realises that
David Tennant was never really going to be in the cast. For her, the Strictly dream is already over.
These women on the other hand are LOVING IT
In fact they squeal “I’M SO EXCITED!”, which turns out to be some sort of secret codeword that triggers all the “photographers” and “security guys” who all do backflips and start off this year’s pro dance, which is, coincidentally enough, to “I’m So Excited” by The Pointer Sisters. Heaven knows what would have happen if the one on the left had said “hold me bag for a bit Bev, I’m going for a piss”. Aliona probably would have choreographed it though. Speaking of which yes
she’s back and
yes, she’s still flinging it around for anyone who’ll ask.
In further “Latin Showcase/Debbie Gibson video from 1989” news, those of you running a sweepstake on when Robin’s tongue would first be seen lolling out of his head like a Great Dane hanging out a car window can have
“2:47” and those of us who are familiar with Anya Garnis will be unsurprised to learn that her first official Strictly appearance shot is of her
grinding her bum against Pasha’s crotch whilst grinning like a woman who’s just discovered what sitting on her washing machine at full spin feels like.
The judges are wheeled in on a kids park roundabout, Tess is carried on by the male dancers
like she’s about to be hurled into a volcano, and “Bruce” (ie a 22 year old man in a grey wig) does a diving forward roll through a paper hoop as fireworks go off. It’s a bit like Kimberley’s showdance from last year, but marginally less arthritic. Also the real Bruce’s tap-dancing has started to resemble a 7 year old who can’t get his Heelies to work. You know, more so. The sad part is that you know this took about 17 attempts to film. First one to find Bruce’s contact lens is automatically immune from firing next year!
Of course, even though they were just introduced, everything has to be reset so they can play the theme music and wheel Bruce and Tess out again because…they just DO ok? They have to do this bit :
We all enjoy that bit don’t we?
Bruce welcomes us all to the new studio, like anyone’s noticed, and the audience all agree that it’s much better than the old one. Much more room to stick roaming reporters from The One Show on the front row and act like they’re Hollywood Royalty. (Although I’d let Joe Crowley onto my A List IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN) (WINK WINK). As if to show immediately the benefits of stuffing the room with more BBC staffers as a favour, “Nice to see you…” gets a response of bland stares and clapping from the front row. ATMOSPHERIC!
Bruce then goes on to brag that this summer he followed in the footsteps of Rolf Harris. I…wouldn’t be bragging about that Bruce if I were yo…oh, he means doing the afternoon slot at Glastonbury. A joke about Bruce being so old that he opened up Stonehenge follows. I think it might be his pet name for Wilnelia (poor Wilnelia). Tess, as ever, is left to bring things back to serious business, as she tells us that this year’s 15 GLITTERING STARS are backstage waiting to find out who they’ll be partnered with for this series. And speaking of awkward pairs…
never has a dress looked more confining and less confining at the same time.
Yes, tonight we’ll be seeing the partnerships matched up, some exciting pro routines, the return of Louis Smith, the annual Car Crash Group Dance and a performance by wheezing soft rock dinosaur Rod Stewart. Oh, and JESSIE J will be here. The other Hairy Biker’s look of
excitement, surprise and curiosity at Jessie J appearing on a BBC Saturday tea-time reality show leads me to believe that he may well have been a better choice than his partner in cooking/motorbiking for this show, at least acting wise.
Bruce tells us all that the show is going to be BIGGER (/longer, get ready for the week when I have to recap 15 celebrity dances in one sitting, and lose all feeling in my left hand side) THAN EVER, so LET’S GET EXCITED FOR OUR 15(/about 6) CELEBRITY CONTESTANTS. Who, in case you didn’t read my preview posts are :
- Sophie Ellis Bextor
- Chalky From Waterloo Road
- That Smug Cow From BBC Breakfast
- That Rugby Player Who Likes Gays But Isn’t Gay
- That Bitch What Hit Our Tyrone
- International Fashion-Designer And Shouter Of Things, Julien McDonald
- (*deep breath*) Vanessa Feltz
- Bruce’s Mate
- The Runner-Up From Britain’s Next Top Model Series 2
- Darren Osbourne
- Your Mum’s Hairdresser Who Met Roger Moore Once And Won’t Stop Going On About It
- The Black Guy From Casualty
- That Girl Whose Name Was All Over Your Dad’s Internet Search History Which You Accidentally Saw Last Time You Helped Him Install Some Software Combined With…Other Words And You’d Really Like To Not Think About It Thanks
- A Hairy Biker
- Her from Dragon’s Den
STARS. ALL OF THEM, STARS!
They give Deborah the tricky task of being the last one out and thus sprinting all the way down the stairs before the music stops, a task she approaches like Indiana Jones pegging it away from the giant boulder in Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Everybody looks very well-polished, although you can just SMELL the lack of effort wardrobe are going to make with Mark Benton and it is officially a
crime to tie up Natalie Gumede’s hair like this. A CRIME. She wins points back though, for giving us our first proper official Bruce Joke Face of the series when he announces that the cast are “totes amazeballs”.
Attagirl. Rachel Riley on the other hand…well, you can tell she earns her living over-reacting to old men’s unfunny jokes can’t you?
Next we’re reintroduced to our judges :
Bruce : “Bruno, I’m thrilled to see you”
Bruno : “So am I!”
Sums it up really doesn’t it? Bruce jokes that he’s surprised to see Craig there, given that apparently everyone had agreed that when they changed studio, Craig wouldn’t be given the new address. Maybe he just followed the smell of fake tan, desperation, and Pickled Onion Monster Munch? (It’s a terrible addiction, but Darcey’s dance background balances out the smell, in terms of what she brings to the show). Len tells us that he thinks this year’s line-up is…fantastic. And that there’s great characters amongst them. And that he’s sure there will be fantastic dancers amongst them. He very noticeably doesn’t call them the best cast ever, or say that he’s heard of every single one of them, as he does every other year.
Well, it’s honesty I guess. Meanwhile they’ve stuck a walnut Julien next to Ben and
already he looks a bit like he should be wearing a fez and banging cymbals on Ben’s donut cart. Speaking of Ben, Bruno starts fisting the air and yelling that his
HANKOMETER IS THROUGH THE ROOF! And I’m guessing it’s not at Dave Myers (no offence Dave, it’s actually safer for you this way anyway). Craig puts on the panto villain act for another 10 second burst, telling the celebrities not to answer back to the judges, like anyone’s done that since about Series 4. Darcey closes by waffling on about putting the hours in and training hard and respecting your pro, but she’s a BALLET DANCER so this is valuable advice, not some toss that a researcher from The Apprentice could throw together in 5 minutes on the back of a fag packet. Oh no. This is backed up with SCIENCE.
TIME FOR SOME PAIRINGS!
First up are the ladies and
oh. I bet that’s how Tess feels on the inside ALL THE TIME. Yes, it’s Sophie Ellis Bextor. Tess tells us that she’s a multi-platinum selling artist who isn’t looking for a number 1……she wants a
NUMBER 10! I hope that’s her face if she gets one as well. It’s like she’s spent her whole career affecting detached boredom and now can’t do anything else isn’t it? Sophie grins to us that her first single with DJ Spiller went to number 1 not just in the UK, but in NINE OTHER COUNTRIES. She doesn’t go on to mention that none of her other singles went to number 1 in any countries.
Sophie then reminisces about the video for “Murder On The Dancefloor” where she played someone who wasn’t a very good dancer, but won a competition anyway THROUGH NEFARIOUS MEANS – spiking drinks, spilling butter, shoving her tits in a judge’s face… She tells us that she hopes she won’t go down that road again but if needs must…Ah don’t worry Sophie, it won’t be anything Ola didn’t do in Series 7 – paying a paparazzo to pretend to be run over by Ricky Nipple, throwing her voice into Laila’s training room to sound like Anton making racial slurs, breaking Phil’s leg, shoving her boobs in Len’s face, giving Ali Bastian a personality transplant, getting Sonia from Eastenders cast as a “main contender”…
Deborah Meaden is introduced next, and she reminds us that, in Dragon’s Den she gets to play the “long-suffering mum” role to the “naughty boy” dragons.
OH THEO! etc etc
She goes on to say that she lives a strange life, straddling the challenging demands of high-powered business,
countryside animal husbandry, and trying not to stare directly at Evan Davis’ wonky eye. She also says she spends a lot of time “delousing pigs”, but that’s enough about Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne.
Deborah says that she hopes we see a whole new side of her on Strictly Come Dancing – a fun side! Given her running around the red button red carpet footage twirling her cape like Bat Fink, I’m guessing the side we’ll really be seeing is “Drunken Aunty Debby”.
Next is Natalie Gumede
See what I mean about her hair? It is a CRIME to restrain that much amazing hair. A CRIME. At least stick a fierce hat on it (/in it). Natalie tells us that her character in Coronation Street, Kirsty, was “troubled”.
I mean…I’m not saying I’d turn to domestic violence, but I’d be troubled if I had that wallpaper as well. She says that she too is really looking forward to showing off the lighter side of herself. Have you seen the spray tans on this show Natalie? Nobody’s showing off a lighter side of anything.
Next up we get Natalie immediately (and probably sensibly) trying to not do a Denise van Outen, and tells us that she trained to be a dancer until the age of 19, but a serious
thumb-biting injury meant that it wasn’t possible for her to reach her full potential, so she became an actress instead. In a way I think this is how Denise van Outen has ruined the show, in a way, because we never had to go through this process of checks and disclaimers with all the other stage school graduates that ever did this show. But…now we do. So hooray.
Oh and they’re still getting people to say “Striclified” like it’s a thing. Never mind.
Hey Rachel, what’s the average age for the demographic who watch this show?
It’s so handy having a mathematician in the cast isn’t it? Here she is doing some HOTT MATHS ACTION on Countdown.
PHWOAR, AM I RITE FELLAS?
Rachel tells us that her mum recently dug out some home videos of her aged 4 dancing around the living room. We get to see the footage, with her running round in circles high on E Numbers, grinning madly and doing forward rolls on all the furniture. Either that or they show us footage of Lisa Riley’s dances from last year again. One or the other, it’s hard to tell. Sophie closes by telling us that she’ll be used to the revealing outfits, because she used to wear really short skirts on Countdown. Used to? Isn’t that the only reason that show still has the 6 viewers it still has?
Back in the studio, Sophie is first to find out who her pro partner is. Bruce makes his first “Murder On The Dancefloor” joke of the series, about Craig. I would suggest starting a drinking game but to be honest, Bruce Forsythe is Nature’s Own Drinking Game already, so why pile on? We also get our first “Anton can’t really dance” joke which…likewise. At least Erin got out before this inevitably happened to her. Sophie of course doesn’t get Anton, because you need to present a bus pass before you get that privilege. Instead she gets
Brenda! Who, after his last few series, is clearly and sensibly cautious about getting excited about anyone. Hopefully at least this one will remember her Week 1 routine after three weeks of tuition. You’d hope.
Upon their meeting, Sophie immediately apologises for any future dance sins, but Bruce tells her that really there’s no harm in Brenda’s soul really. Unless you’re a chicken. They wander off together, Sophie already
kind of terrified and resigned all at the same time.
Natalie is next, and Bruce just about gets her surname out, with some pauses for breath. He then reminds us all that Natalie’s Coronation Street character was a “baddy”(/violent domestic abuser) and ended up being sent to prison. I can’t fathom someone going to prison in a soap and actually being GUILTY. It doesn’t make sense to me. The Universe just doesn’t work that way. She eyes up the male pros
like she’s already planning her next round of battery and then gets partnered with
Artem, which she seems very excited about. It’s starting to feel a bit like a message to Flavia isn’t it? Sort of “oh did you think we’d never give you somebody good ever again just because you won, so you quit? OOPS TO BE YOU”. And we’ve still got Ola’s partnership to come.
Deborah’s next and Bruce
is really not very careful at all about who can see those cue cards is he? Also…you can tell Deborah has done a lot of “visiting with the elderly” can’t you? Bruce tells her and he and Wilnelia love watching Dragon’s Den. Unfortunately he doesn’t then get to do the rest of his pre-prepared jokes because Deborah honks “I’M A REAL LIFE DRAGON” and waggles her boobs at him, so he just starts babbling “business, you’re a businesswoman, business!”. I think I’m going to like Deborah. Even partnered with
Rachel is last to be revealed, and Bruce does a “consonant, vowel, consonant, consonant” joke, which apparently spells out what Rachel says when they asked her to do the show? Although I’ve worked it out and you can’t make “sure, I’m not busy” out of it, so… She’s going to be partnered with
Pasha. I’m sure everyone is going to be just as outraged at Pasha getting three attractive partners in a row as they were when Aliona had the same, and Natalie dared to have two. DEFINTIELY. I’m sure the forums are burning as I speak. I won’t even check, because I *KNOW* it’s happening.
Rachel says she’s very happy she got Pasha, James looks
less so. Never mind James, there’s still Children In Need champion Susanna, hot model Abbey, and stealth ringer Fiona to come. I’m sure you’ll be JUST FINE.
Bruce turns to Len next, and asks him what he thinks about the first four couples. He makes another Murder On The Dancefloor joke. (Murder On The Dancefloor Joke Count : 3)
Next up, Bruce tells us that there will be 5 new dancers this series for us to be introduced to.
You can tell he’s already struggling with the sheer volume can’t you? Even when it’s one or two he makes sure that they install cameras to check they’re not stealing from him. FIVE AT ONCE? WITH FUNNY NAMES! HE’s NOT THE SPRIGHTLY 75 YEAR OLD HE WAS WHEN THIS ALL STARTED THREE YEARS AGO, YOU KNOW!
He reads their names off his teleprompter. It’s like watching him trying to digest a water buffalo.
To really get to know them, it’s time for a…LATIN SHOWCASE!
SEXY! To “Walk This Way”, presumably started because those over-excited women from the beginning are being escorted out by security after flashing their boobs at Pasha.
The dancing is intercut with talking heads from the newbies for some reason. I’m not sure it really works, but at least it’s different (ITV’s motto there).
This is Anya Garnis. She says the hardest part for new dancers is the passion. She’s obviously never seen me try to dance because that’s…a long way down the list.
This is Iveta. And Iveta’s arse. She was kind of sort of half here last year but let’s skip over that. Aliona’s credit card ran out within 4 months anyway. She tells us that music does something to her that forces her to dance. She can’t control it! SHE’S JUST SO FULL OF DANCE! Also she’s won 2 World Championships, and choreographed Ghostbusters.
This is three of Janette Manrara. She tells us that she’s been on Glee. Coming after Iveta’s two world championships it does sound a bit…yeah.
This is Bros.
Oh, no, wait, it’s the boy ones. Erm…
This is Kevin Clifton and…the small of his back? I think? He’s from The North. I’m very excited to see English manhood represented on this show by someone coming from an angle other than Jimmy Jordan and “Anton” “du” Beke, but let’s face it, I’m sure he’ll be doing “Gay Voice” and making fun of fat birds within about three week.
THIS IS SEXY FRANKENSTEIN AND HE HAVE COME TO HAVE FUN!
Back in the room, all of the other pros come out for the end of the routine. All of the new girls get passed around like a Home Counties orgy, whilst Aljaz
grinds around like he’s auditioning for Magic Mike.
LATIN SHOWCASES! (I like Kevin. He looks embarrassed A LOT).
Once they’re done, we are transported to the Tessanine for the first time this series. Up there, Tess is getting very serious, pointing at us through the air
and telling us that the producers SCOURED THE GLOBE (/the cast of Burn The Floor) looking for the VERY BEST TALENT for this show. Then some of it quit halfway through and the producers randomly added an extra contestant so we flapped around and just picked the last two at random.
That lecture over, Tess gets down to the important business of asking everyone if they are nervous. Some of them are nervous. She goes on to ask Sophie if she’s looking forward to getting started (she is), Deborah if she’s going to wear the trousers in the training room (she says no, that’s Robin’s department), and Kirsty if she’s going to be nicer to Artem than she was to Tyrone (she’s not, she’s going to subject him to a months long torment of physical, emotional and psychological abuse until she goes to jail for it, GREAT QUESTION TESS AS EVER). We close with Tess grinning at Rachel Riley, telling her she’s good at numbers…but will she be good at the other kind of numbers?! THE NUMBERS YOU DANCE TO?! ?! Rachel just replies that she can do her times tables to music, but that never seems to go down well at parties.
The poor sad social life of the mathematician.
Now it’s time for Jessie J to perform her new outfit.
I do slightly miss the “Mystic Meg in a second-hand catsuit” era it has to be said. Her new song is called “It’s My Party”. I cry, because I want to. It mostly seems to be about haters on twitter, like so many of the classics. My favourite part is when she implies that everyone who is ever negative about her smells and has no friends
as she pogos around on a giant box surrounded by people she’s paid to pretend to like her. The perks of being famous I guess.
Back up in the Tessanine, six hours later, Tess thanks Jessie (currently doing doughnuts in a Burger King carpark blaring “Do It Like A Dude” out of her stereo with the windows down) for her wonderful performance, and tells us all we’ve got Rod Stewart to look forward to later. Woo. BUT FIRST, it’s time to pair up some of the male celebrities.
They’re having male celebrities on the show this year?! You wouldn’t notice.
First up is Patrick Robinson
He holds that face for a clear three seconds. This really already is the series for shots held about 2 seconds too long until it gets awkward. Tess tells us that Patrick will be hoping to avoid any ACCIDENTS AND EMERGENCYs on the dancefloor. Because he was in CASUALTY. SUCH LARKS. Patrick tells us that he doesn’t like dancing…he loves it!
And then looks far too pleased with himself. I guess that answers the question “where did they dig Patrick Robinson up from?”. Apparently it’s the Strictly scriptwriters room. He does admit that he doesn’t know if he’s any GOOD at dancing or not. (…I think he does). He goes on to talk about all his extensive theatre work, playing Macbeth, Othello,
the Whoopi Goldberg part from Ghost…
He goes on to say that he’s worked with Sean Bean AND Ralph Fiennes AND he’s done a film in Thailand with STEVEN SEAGAL! Yeah…probably should have stopped after the first two there Patrick.
Ashley Taylor Dawson is next and if you were in any doubt as to his designated role on the show.
There you go. They soundtrack him with Robin Thicke, he uses the words “lovable rogue”, end of. Ashley reminds us that in Hollyoaks his character has been shot, stabbed, exploded, faked his dad’s death, and dated a psychopath. All before the first commercial break. He also owns up to his previous career with allSTABS, but says it’s not really that important. We’re shown footage of the band tarting around in outlandish costumes on Top Of The Pops, and he waves it off, saying it’s really basic and asinine choreography that even a five year old could pick up. Either that or it’s footage of Lisa Riley’s dances from last year ETC ETC HA BLOODY HA.
Oh, and Ashley says his wife’s having a baby four days before the first live show. Can you imagine if the same had been true of Tom Chambers? Imagine the carnage.
Next up it’s
Crazy Uncle Julien to go with Drunken Auntie Debby. And…I just imagined they were married, so there’s that thought. He’s there throwing glitter around rather like I imagine (IMAGINE, for legal purposes) him distributing the coke to the models backstage at fashion week. He tells (/yells) us that he has dressed Beyonce, Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Jessie J. And Jessie J STRUGGLED, but he subdued her in the end.
Julien tells us that his proudest moment was receiving an OBE from The Queen.
He didn’t look very impressed at the time. It looks like we’re 2 seconds away from him flinging it in the bin and wiping his hands clean. He goes on to say that he’s doing Strictly to show that the fashion world isn’t all po-faced and self-serious. They can have fun like anybody else.
Last up for the guys it’s Tony Jacklin. They try to make him do Miranda style “turn sideways to camera, say something wacky” banter.
I wish they hadn’t. He tells us all that he has the most Ryder Cup victories to his name of any European captain (with two) and he got the world’s first televised hole in one. Of course we all know Bruce scored HUMANITY’S first recorded hole-in-one entirely, but they didn’t have cameras in 1539/unfortunately it landed in the nose of a diplodocus/something else Bruce would say.
Tony goes on to say that he’s really feeling the pressure of representing all the golfers out there.
He bloody isn’t. The man was born in Scunthorpe in 1949, don’t think you’re having me on by having him come at me talking like X Factor. He tells us that his only experience of dancing is doing the jive in the 1950s and 1960s. Dirty ringer. He closes by saying he hopes he doesn’t score a FORE/FOUR ok, great, let’s move on.
Back to the studio and
already one of the male celebrities is clearly quite uncomfortable with the way Tess is touching him. Get used to it Patrick. Pity Ben, he’s the only guy this year with GUNNNNZZZZZ. Tess then reveals that the sensitivity training that the BBC made her do has really paid off :
“HEY PATRICK, DO YOU NEED AN AMBULANCE? TO TAKE YOU TO CASUALTY? BECAUSE OF YOUR CRIPPLING DANCE FEVER?! HA HA HA HA HA!”
“Oh yeah by the way Natalie Lowe seriously injured herself, potentially ending her career as a dancer and her entire livelihood, so erm…she won’t be dancing this series. Aliona’s back though…yay…”
I love like that they felt they needed to announce that to avoid confusion, given that it was literally impossible to follow what was going on with any of the female pro-line-up until about 5 minutes before the launch show was filmed. Care to explain what happened to Emma Slater Tess? No?
Anyway, Patrick is partnered with…
Anya! Once she’s done squealing, Tess says that she’s the perfect tonic, and asks Patrick if she’s just what the doctor ordered. Or the other way around. It doesn’t really matter. Do you feel like maybe the show is overdoing the medical puns to paper over the fact that Patrick Robinson has pretty much no public recognition value whatsoever?
Ashley is next, and Tess asks him how he thinks all the sequins and sparkles are going to effect his Bad Boy image. He’s in HOLLYOAKS Tess, not the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Ashley says he’s ready to “embrace the lycra”.
You can tell she’s going to order 6 catsuits off eBay the second they stop recording can’t you? Anyway Ashley says that he’s nervous
gurns to camera and then, when it’s announced he’s paired with Ola
pretends to faint. I don’t know about the sequins, but he’s got the whole “drama queen” part down. Then again he is partnered with a woman who reacts to everything like this
so it’s clearly a match made in heaven. Hilariously, as Ola rushes over, Tess apparently feels the need to
point out to her where he’s gone. Because, you know, she might not have noticed him rolling his eyes back in his head, collapsing, and writhing around on the floor with his bum in the air for attention. Maybe she presumes Ola will be used to all that living with James? Tess then announces to us all that Ashley’s AN ACTOR. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to explain the quality of his performance or the desperate need for attention?
Next up is Julien who does a little shimmy for Tess and complains about being
under-dressed. It’s all getting a little Jame Gumb isn’t it? He tells Tess he wants a few thousand more CRYSTALLLLLLLS! I don’t know why you’d be complaining to Tess about what wardrobe have given you Julien. It’s like marching around South Sudan whinging that Mars Bars are a bit smaller than they used to be. Tess informs him that he’s going to be partnered with Jeanette
I feel I might need ear defenders for this partnership. And maybe eye defenders as well. They both joke about how short they are and wander off to be a human two-man hen night.
Last up it’s Tony Jacklin
It’s like they’ve just unchained him from the radiator isn’t it? As he blinks around awkwardly, Tess repeats that he’s the first professional golfer they’ve ever had on Strictly, like anybody cares, and Tony announces that he’s been a swinger all his life. Poor Wilnelia. Tess tells him that he will be paired with…
ALIONA! I’m loving the idea of Aliona just being here to cash a cheque. It was either that or try TERRIFYINGLY HARD to prove they were wrong to sack her and…I’m not sure if I could take it. This way she’s like the show’s alcoholic supply teacher. Tess, absolutely refusing to make eye-contact with Aliona (lol) tells Tony that Aliona won’t let him hold her like a golf club. Not what I’ve heard…
Tess turns to the judges and asks Bruno who he’s already writing disgusting sexually explicit fan fic about, and he tells us that it’s Ashley and Ola.
He says that they’re like “mixing nitro with glycerin”. Let’s not start with that, or I’ll be here all night… Bruno then sings Vogue. *shrug*
8 out of our 15 strong cast paired up, Tess tells us that it won’t be long before we see them perform their first dance routine. I mean…by the standard of what counts as a “dance routine” it’s going to be about a month (or…an infinite amount longer for some of them) but ok. Here they are in “training”.
We start with the pros all lounging around a country mansion all talking about how they’re really anticipating finding out who the celebrities doing the show this year are (both of them). Kristina
dressed as a serving wench, says it’s really terrifying. Is it? It’ll be someone who used to be in Casualty and someone whose last album sold 217 copies. Is that terrifying? It’s not going to Dr Harold Shipman. Yet. Anyway, all the pros march into the Great Hall to find
the celebs all holding glitterballs in front of their faces. Apart from Natalie, who is all but mouthing “CAN I PUT THIS DOWN NOW, MY ARMS ARE TIRED!” to camera. Early blog favourite there. The pros countdown, everyone’s balls drop, and the pros are still none the wiser. I would have loved to have seen Janette “None Of These People Are Famous Except The One I Wound Up Partnered With Conveniently Enough” Manrara’s face. It would have been like Jackie Stallone’s face when she realised that they’d lied and that Celebrity Big Brother didn’t actually contain this generation’s greatest artists and thinkers.
I mean…not EXACTLY like Jackie Stallone’s face, because nothing on this Earth could ever be like that, but still…
Anyway, Giant Lady
(hooray) enters, swinging a school-bell about for some reason, and says she’s going to teach them their dance routine. Oh, no, wait, she’s here to take them all Speed Dating.
Yeah, that makes sense. We learn from this that Sophie speaks Russian, Deborah would like to be partnered with Artem (LOL YES THAT WOULD END WELL), Kristina believes that all real men love spray-tans (maybe this is why she and Joe broke up?) and that Ola is a keen golfer.
Karen Bruce then closes this randomness by quoting FAME at them all, showing with every second why she failed that screen-test to replace Alesha as a judge. This apparently is a segue into actual dance rehearsal. For about 5 minutes. Natalie is the most obvious ringer that ever rang, Ben struggles with rhythm and Rachel
starts wearing the face I envision her wearing for most of the series. Dave reveals that Karen is already helping him by changing the words “cha cha cha” to “beans on toast” and Patrick announces right down the camera-lens that he wants to be the oldest winner Strictly ever had.
Winning friends with the public from Day One there. YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO WANT TO WIN PATRICK! THE CEILING ON YOUR AMBITION IS TO SCORE AN 8, ONCE, IN A THEME WEEK! THAT’S ENOUGH FOR YOU!
Ola interviews next, telling us that every year there’s fierce competition amongst the female pros to show the producers that they’re worthy of partnering one of the best male celebrities in the competition. And this year, the best male celebrities in the competition are…Ashley. And that’s it. So they’re all buzzing him round him like Aliona on custard. Good to know. Nobody and nothing on the other hand, is buzzing around Vanessa.
RUN AWAY KEVIN, RUN AWAY!
As if to demonstrate why, Vanessa closes out this segment, she gurns at the camera that she can’t believe that next week she’ll be doing it with a professional dancer in the middle of the dancefloor. I don’t doubt she means that as well.
Time now for the four leftover ladies to find out who they’re partnered with, and for us to be reminded of why they’re famous or, in the case of Fiona, her name.
Abbey is first up, and Tess tells us that she’s a model, tv presenter (…), wife to a Premier League footballer and “above all else, a mum” (*boke dry heave boke*). Really being a top class model is her best claim to fame though. I mean
it’s the cover of Vogue right there isn’t it? Anyway, Abbey says that yes, she is a mother and her daughter is a girly girl who loves singing and dancing, so she’s really excited her mum is going to be doing Strictly. Above all else, I hope Abbey Clancy sings at some point this series. I hope she’s as good as Jordan. She goes on to say that her husband on the other hand
is less of a mover. There he is, awkwardly doing the robot after scoring a goal. To be fair, it IS hard to get a proper dance beat off a chant of “ABBEY CLANCY, ABBEY CLANCY, DOES SHE TAKE HER UP THE ARSE?”. Abbey cackles that she still finds her husband’s bad dancing hilarious. True love, right there. Abbey closes by gushing that it’s going to be SO GREAT learning such a GREAT SKILL FOR LIFE and from now on she’s going to be the BEST DANCER AT EVERY PARTY SHE GOES TO.
Well this one’s broken already. SEND FOR THE BACK-UP WAG!
Here’s a shot of Fiona in a hot tub with a gross old man.
It might be from when she conned Celebrity Big Brother into letting her on that as well. *shrug* Fiona tells us that being on Strictly will be every bit as nervewracking as being in a Bond movie. You know. She’d imagine. She goes on to say that she’s had a crush on Len Goodman for 10 years now.
Bloody hell, there is no lie that this woman will not tell to get on tv is there? HAVE SOME SELF-RESPECT, JESUS CHRIST. She goes on to say that she puts this crush down to the “naughty twinkle” in his eye. Do excuse me, I think I’m developing a naughty twinkle in my stomach…
oh here we go…
Vanessa is allowed to introduce herself and the first words out of her mouth are “I’m known for being a no-nonsense…” and you can’t hear the rest of it for the sound of THE ENTIRE WORLD LAUGHING. Like, there’s more nonsense in 5 seconds of Vanessa Feltz straddling a giant cannon dressed as a Twinkie crammed into a g-string to the sound of an 80s Cher power ballad whilst watched by Arlene Phillips, Basil Brush and Jodie Prenger dressed up as the guy from Cameo, than most people have IN THEIR ENTIRE LIVES. DON’T GIVE ME “NO NONSENSE”, FELTZ. Anyway she says she’s crap at dancing, but she’s going to try anyway, because she’s going to be a grandmother next year, and she wants to be able to dance with the baby. Yeah sure Vanessa, do a paso with it in the delivery room why not?
Vanessa closes by saying that she wants to prove you can learn something new once you’re over 50, and also to represent “the larger lady”. I’m sure that larger lady will get right back to you on that one, Nessa.
Next up? Susanna Reid, and Tess tells us that every morning Susanna brings us the important breaking news on BBC Breakfast. This is a little undercut by all the footage being off that time she stood outside Buckingham Palace in the rain wondering if it was a little boy or a little girl that was going to come out of Kate Middleton’s fanny.
Susanna reminds that BBC Breakfast have got a great history with Strictly – Bill Turnbull finishing 6th somehow, Chris Hollins winning somehow, and…that’s it, but the important thing is that both are miles better than anyone from TVAM/GMTV/Daybreak/PLEASEGODSOMEONEWATCHUS ever did. Anyway, alongside Sophie and Vanessa and Abbey, Susanna also wants to talk to us about her kids, and how she worries about obtaining a Strictly-life balance. Good grief, is this Strictly or Mumsnet? If someone starts breastfeeding in the middle of a foxtrot, I’m out. Although if it were Susanna, I’m sure there are many men who would very much be in. Speaking of which…
well, she knows what audience she’s aiming for, I guess.
Back in the room, and Abbey is staring out the line-up of male dancers, tossing her hair and eye-fucking them all.
Again, way to win friends early on. There’s already going to be enough “PETER CROUCH IS FURIOUS AS ABBEY DANCES WITH HER DANCE PARTNER…DANCILY!” stories as it is, don’t feed them ammunition. Of course, as Abbey has a famous husband who plays sport, that’s all Bruce wants to talk about. He mutters that Peter is 6ft 7 and Abbey grins that yes, he is a big boy, the dirty besom. Bruce wonders if he’ll be coming to cheer her on, and Abbey points out that he is in fact right there in the front row tonight
looking like the lost 5th Bee Gee. Bruce says he feels sorry for whoever’s sat behind him. Given that Peter Crouch is so lanky as to be translucent, I presume it must be because he has terrible wind. Abbey is to be partnered with
SEXY FRANKENSTEIN! Or as he’s more commonly known “Aljaz” or as Bruce would have it “ALLY………ASH”. Bruce jokes with Aljaz that Peter Crouch is 6ft 7 so…stuff. If he tries to shag Abbey. Bad stuff. Probably. I’m not sure why it’s just Aljaz who’s getting the warning about diddling with the female celebs given that more or less every single female celebrity this year is married. Maybe Bruce doesn’t care about cheating if the partner is a civilian/member of The Feeling). Anyway Sexy Frankenstein
does some hilarious “ME MAKE MYSELF TALLER TO SCARE OFF SCARECROW GENTLEMAN” business so…maybe I like him as well.
Next up it’s Fiona
clearly already worried that Bruce might have got ideas from that hot tub scene in her VT. Bruce reminisces with Fiona about “that Christmas show we did with Ronnie Corbett so many years ago”. I’ve never been more convinced that she’s not actually famous at all. Bruce then makes a joke about how he has a hot-tub but it’s a walk-in one. That’s nice dear, would you like a biscuit? Anyway speaking of slippery geriatric handholds…
FIONA’S GOT ANTON! He capers around on tiptoe and repeatedly makes a noise life a coffin-lid slamming. Based on her ballet background, Anton just got his best partner, 10 years in. I think I just heard a very faint swear from a desert island somewhere… Bruce and Anton both reminisce about all the crap dance-partners Anton has had in the past. And if they weren’t crap when he got them, they certainly were once he’d finished with them.
Vanessa next and
she’s practically guiding Bruce into them. I’m surprised she hasn’t left a trail of sweets down the middle. Upon reading his card, Bruce gasps that Vanessa’s birthday is February 21st. SHE’S A DAY OLDER THAN HIM! Vanessa laughs heartily and fakily and just
wobbles her bangers at him some more. The pairing music strikes up and from the look on James’ face
whichever researcher tipped him the wink that he’d got Vanessa got the reaction they were looking for. Here’s his official one though :
Bruce cackles “THIS IS GOING TO BE FUN!”. And how. Ola with a good dancer and James with a crap one. THE WHEEL HAS TURNED.
Last up is Susanna, who is already pulling Shirley Temple face at Kevin as she walks down the stairs. Kevin meanwhile is all
“yeah I’m good here thanks. Also if I move off my mark early Evil Moira Ross gives the order to shoot”. Once she’s over at Bruce Susanna gives a little “but who have I got Bruce? WHO? WHO CAN IT BE?” action, like Bruce would be capable of going off a script he can clearly barely read already like this. Bruce just tells her to act surprised when she finds out who it is. He goes on to say that if (…) he makes a mistake with the autocue, Susanna can swoop in and do it for him. Yes, I’m sure that’s a thing that he’d let happen.
Also, I thought BARROWMAN was the back-up in Operation Stroke-Out? No? My sources have failed me again.
Anyway Bruce calls Kevin “What’s Left” and “Him” (Fun Fact : these names were also used as the Secret Celebrity Code Names before Series 7) but reassures Susanna that she’s not getting a surprise same-sex partnership with Iveta sliding gleefully down the bannister into her arms. She really is partnered with him.
And his already slightly panto ways. Susanna finds this all rather amusing and by “finds this all rather amusing” I mean
she wets herself like a slow-witted person watching something with Keith Lemon in. Actually…hang on.
“Hey Susanna, James Jordan just got partnered with Vanessa Feltz!”
“Hey Susanna, ITV think they’re going to dent Strictly’s ratings by scheduling Steppin Out against it”
“Hey Susanna, Tess’ Dress”
Yeah, that one’s going in the folder…
Anyway, Kevin sprints up to Susanna, grabs her by the wrist, and frots around her like he’s auditioning for a porno Dirty Dancing, whilst Susanna looks at him as if to say “what the fuck are you doing?” and completely ignores his attempts to give her a final twirl. Already they’re my favourites. Bruce sends them up the stairs whilst singing “Oh Susanna da dump dump dahdle dee”. Born showman.
It is at this point that Bruce introduces the band, but you can’t see The Man In The Hat so I don’t care. Craig is asked what he thinks about the couples that were just created. He says that Abbey and “Ally Ash” are “simply edible” and will no doubt get straight 10s for the entire series, and that James must be praying for a divine intervention with Vanessa.
Put that in some red circles and write “That’s All Folks” around it and he’d look LESS like a cartoon character if anything. In the audience Vanessa’ daughter is quite a bit more into booing Craig than Vanessa’s boyfriend is.
Back to the Tessanine now, where Tess announces that it’s like the first day of school
Has someone wet themselves? Tess tells Vanessa that she’s in very safe hands with James and asks if she’s been sharpening her tongue for the judges. Vanessa promises to give Craig some BADINAGE. Is that to go in his buttonhole? Craig pumps his fist in the air with pleasure, like Vanessa being rude to people isn’t something she doles out like diabetes-inducing sweets during Divali. I saw her about 5 minutes ago doing it on Celebrity Big Brother to something from The Only Shore Is Made In Essex for free.
Tess next asks Abbey if she thinks Aljaz is a good dancer. She does. She’s also shocked that she got partnered with him. Yeah, I thought she’d definitely be put with Anton. Susanna makes a joke about Bill Turnbull’s ties and then it is revealed that Fiona is this year’s THOOPAFAN. There’s always one. She tells us that every week she has her mother on one side of her and her daughter on the other, and they all watch the show together.
Three generations of Strictly fans. All about as famous as one another.
Next up it’s time for someones Tess introduces as “a man who’s sold over 100,000,000 records and there’s no stopping him”. Lord knows they’ve tried. Whacking him with a spade, shoving him under a train, grenades…
IT’S ROD STEWART! His song is, surprisingly enough, not about his haters on twitter but about…I dunno, old man stuff. Robin, Kristina, Kevin and Karen all come out and do a dance for him.
Bless. The song’s called “I’m Going To Make You
Rich”… I MEAN PROUD, SORRY. “I’m Going To Make You Proud”. Don’t know where that came from. Afterwards Bruce comes on and they do banter about the times they performed at Glastonbury. I’ll spare you. To close it all off, Bruce asks Rod if he’d ever do Strictly and Rod can’t sprint off the stage fast enough. Bruce, by the time it takes Rod’s fame to decay to the level where he’d do Strictly, you’ll be dead, and most likely so will he. Don’t worry your head about it. Penny already did it, that was enough.
Next up, it’s an opportunity to drive the nutty Kartem fans even nutti…I mean a chance to remember what level this year’s stars could attain if they really applied themselves and worked hard. Or in Natalie’s case, if they turned up for an hour’s training in week 1 then bummed the rest off to eat ice-cream (RINGAH). That’s right, Louis Smith is here. Before we see him dance though, we get an interview with him with
Flavia sat right next to him like his mum at Parent’s Evening as always. Louis tells us all that Strictly really changed his life and opened up so many doors (/product endorsement deals and naked photoshoots) for him. Now when he’s in his flat, walking from the toaster to the fridge, he sometimes does a little spot-turn. I do that if I’ve dropped the butter as well. His advice to the celebrities is to work as hard as they can (/get a film that middle-aged women like for Movie Week) and they can achieve anything. He says that he got two great things from the show – the experience, and also a great friend in Flavia.
Back in the studio, we learn that Louis & Flavia will be dancing
ohgoodacharlestonIalwaysenjoythem. It’s the one where Louis was a sexy doctor and Flavia was a sexy patient and he did a sexy backflip and erm…there was a sexy stethoscope. He seems…a little out of practice, but the non-ringah winners always do. We’re not talking Wardrobe/Kerplunk levels of “oh, right, THAT won” and the bones of the dancer who won last year are still there. Also, Flavia’s still flinging it round like the rent is due.
Bless her. I can think of worse Launch Show Filler. At least there were no blue rinse old ladies sat in the middle of a pet shop (/park bench/hairdressers/sex dungeon/cruise ship) talking about how they’re so excited by Strictly coming back and they all LOVE THAT FIONA FULLERTON.
(Sidebar : There were two women sat in the waiting area of where I work the other day talking about how excited they were that Vanessa was doing Strictly, and my head swivelled around so fast looking for hidden BBC cameras that it actually unscrewed itself FUN FACT)
Bruce totters on and asks Louis if Strictly has changed Louis’ life, and he says that it has. It’s given him the self-confidence that he’s always lacked before. Yeah, I guess it was only a Bronze medal. Tess then lays a massive effing guilt trip on Flavia for quitting the show and Flavia tells her to calm her tits because she and Vincent will still come back and do their annual Argentine Tango Showcase. Probably. They’ve got a show to promote after all.
Time for our last three celebrities now, as Louis runs off to have a Pot Noodle and play Call of Duty.
First up is
A Hairy Biker. Tess tells us all very sadly that Dave recently learnt the downside of globetrotting and sampling the world’s greatest culinary delights. Dave solemnly tells us that two years ago he could never have done Strictly, because he was really fat and it was shameful. The decision to put this directly before Mark Benton appears seems…slightly misjudged. Anyway, Dave managed to turn his shame over his weight into a lucrative television show and tie-in book (FUNNY THAT) and lost loads of weight as a result. Confessionals like this always remind me of Ulrika strutting around Celebrity Big Brother bragging about how you get free plastic surgery by pretending you were doing an investigative programme about girls low self-esteem or some bollocks like that.
Anyway, Dave is now 3 stones thinner, several grand richer and READY TO DANCE. He tells us that dancing is about the joyous union between the cerebellum and the feet. Yeah, I thought that doing during Widdy’s series, but it turns out that trying to kick someone in the head through your tv screen REALLY HURTS.
Ben Cohen. Just out of shot : Tess Daly, advancing. We’re reminded that Ben Cohen is a World Cup winning athlete, but it’s only moudly old rugby so nobody really cares. The BBC have done sterling work though in tracking down footage of that winning team that wasn’t just of Aryan Superman Johnny Wilkinson.
Which is more than I’ve ever managed. Ben tells us that it was really special to be greeted by 1,000,000 people in a parade down Oxford Street. Big deal – Nancy Dell’Olio gets that just for going shopping. Anyway, Ben is also famous for his philanthropic work (ie posing in his pants a lot). He grins that both his wife and Matt Dawson have told him it’s a bad idea for him to do the show.
Side Bar : Austin Healey then told Ben Cohen on twitter not to listen to Matt Dawson, because he was a shit dancer, much less good than that Austin Healey, so Ben should just ignore him. This is why I love Austin Healey. Well, part of the reason anyway.
Last up is Mark Benton.
He plays Chalky in Waterloo Road. Chalky is the maths teacher. From what I can tell, Waterloo Road only has one teacher per subject which is an interesting way to run a school, but there we are. Mark jokes that he thinks the public perceive him either as a glamorous sex god or a bumbling oaf.
Mark tells us that he’s been taking dance tips from his daughters. The editors could palpably not be less interested in him if they tried. If they wasn’t trying to wring the show’s run out for as many weeks of ratings as possible, I can quite easily see them coming at this year’s run with 8 female celebrities and 6 male ones. If not fewer.
TIME TO FIND OUT WHICH PROS GET THESE LEFTOVER CELEBS! Seriously, this bit is like the segment during the credits of the BAFTAs where the voiceover begins “Also winning this evening : for Best Make-Up In A Short Film Not In The English Language…”. Dave Biker is up first, and Tess reminds him that he’s used to being paired up with a hairy bloke on a motorbike, so how will he cope with being paired with a lovely female Strictly pro. Well…there are certain draws where he’d have the “bike” part sorted…
(NO OF COURSE THERE AREN’T, SOMETIMES I JUST HAVE TO MAKE THE JOKE BECAUSE IT’S THERE, NOBODY’S A “BIKE” CALM DOWN).
Dave chortles away that he wants to be partnered with a “tasty dish” who is as light as a soufflé so he can lift her.(the scriptwriters score through their scheduled jokes for him for weeks 2, 4, and 8) He will be partnered by…
Karen! That’s a look of affection I’m sure. Dave grunts his approval LIKE A MAN, and then Karen sprints across the floor like Daphne in Scooby Doo running away from the Yeti.
I think Simon Biker was maybe hoping for Kristina. Ah well. Dave tells Tess that he’s chuffed as nuts, and Karen guffaws that they’re going to be “The Hairy Dancers”. Your bikini zone is your own business Karen.
Next up, as Ben Cohen comes out, Tess mysteriously disappears and is replaced by Bruce.
Pre-emptive restraining orders are a wonderful thing aren’t they? See, I *knew* he’d listen to Austin over Matt. Also it gives us the following amazing scene :
Bruce : “Did you used to play right wing by the way?”
Ben : “Erm…a bit of both? Left and right?”
Bruce : “Left and right? BUT MOSTLY RIGHT WING, RIGHT” *nudge nudge*
Ben : “No, actually, left mostly”
Bruce : “FOR THE JOKE YOU PLAYED ON THE RIGHT WING!”
Bruce : “YOU DID PLAY ON THE RIGHT WING DIDN’T YOU?”
Ben : “Sure why not?”
Bruce : “SOMETHING SOMETHING WIDDY SOMETHING THE END FUCKING AMATEURS”
It’s alright Bruce, it’s rugby players isn’t it? Don’t get your subtle humour. Walk it off, walk it off.
Partnered with Ben will be
Kristina. Obviously I know all these responses are the pros acting, regardless of the debate of whether or not they already know which celeb they’ve got but…Kristina’s I think always involves the least. Kristina flings herself around him like pole dancers from Poland, whilst Mark Benton watches on
hoping they’ve remembered that he’s still here.
He toddles out, gets no introduction, and then gets shoved at Iveta
does a face
and then buggers off. Part of me hopes he now wins.
Last stop before the Group Trainwreck now and Bruce asks Len if there’s anyone amongst those three guys where he’s thinking “tooty fruity, what a booty!”. Yes, I wonder if between the out-of-shape thespian, the poncy chef and the GREAT BIG BURLY MANLY HAIRY SPORTSMAN WITH THE BIG ARMS AND THE STRONG MUSCULAR THIGHS, Len has identified his crush-object for the series yet? Len says that there wasn’t a grotty botty amongst them. Thanks Len. Tess then asks Bruno for his honest opinion on the couples. What show does she think she’s on again? Bruno says he thinks that Dave Biker isn’t going to be very good.
Darcey next and she’s asked what she thinks lies ahead of the couples. She replies by saying that her advice is for them to sleep, eat and breathe dance and then she launches the following amazing two gems :
“If not one muscle in their body isn’t sore then they’re not doing enough”
“They’ve got to go out there and go for it”
That’s why they pay her the big bucks.
Tess closes us off by asking Craig what he wants to see from the celebrities in three weeks time when they dance properly for the first time and he snits “talent”. Well quite. It would be nice.
Time now for the GROUP DANCE. This is where we all decide who is going to be the best dancers of the series based on 12 seconds of them pointing at the air and wiffling their bum about. Well…it’s how Tess picked Vernon out, don’t knock it. They will of course as ever be dancing to the SONG OF THE SUMMER (1984 Woolacombe Butlins) – This Is It by Melba Moore (and also Dannnnniiiiiiiii Minogue but…pfft).
GO ON! PICK A WINNER! If it’s Sophie, make sure to retrieve her from the top of the Christmas Tree so she can collect her glitterball.
In summary : Natalie’s going to kill everyone, Deborah > Vanessa, Mark > Tony > Dave, Everything > Rachel, Sophie’s a better dancer than I was informed she was (…bloody lying gays), Abbey’s good at throwing her legs up in the air, Ashley and Ben are clearly the best men, Julien’s going to over-sell everything, Patrick’s very mechanical.
See you in three weeks time, when things really get interesting. Hopefully. I can’t believe we got through that whole thing and nobody said “twerk” once.