No, but seriously this time.
So, yes, according to the BBC, at the last time of asking, barring any last minute injuries, blow-ups, or better offers from Dancing With The Stars Albania, this is your pro line-up for 2014.
Anton du Beke
It feels a bit like the opposite of last year’s pre-series shenanigans. Then, all of the departures felt organic and right and predictable (Erin quitting to have a baby, Flavia quitting immediately as soon as she won aka “pulling a Camilla”, and Vincent quitting because…well Vincent without Flavia just doesn’t make sense) (to be fair, Vincent WITH Flavia didn’t make sense half the time…) but the hiring process seemed like it had been arrived at by Evil Moira Ross In A Rainbow Wig shutting her eyes and pointing at Bum The Floor. This time around it’s the hirings that feel like the sane and predictable inevitabilities, and the quittings/firings/”let’s just pretend they never existed”s that are random and sloppy, and in some cases actually feel like they might only be temporary. Let’s take them in alphabetical order :
Anya Garnis : Poor Anya. After dragging the pentagenarian black-hole-of-personality Patrick Robinson all the way to fifth place and last-man-standing with her choreography, Anya finds herself a One Season Wonder, tossed on the pile along with Isabella Hanna, Jared Murillo and Justin Lee Collins. Truly an ignominious end. Sure they may say she’s being kept on to “help with the choreography” for the group dances but…how much work can that be really? I could probably story-board half of last year’s pro-dances and the only dance experience I’ve had in 2014 is awkwardly shuffling in the corner of a karaoke booth as my entire workplace hollered out “We Are Family”. *Fart around with props* *wheel Mary Berry on inside a giant cardboard meringue* *fish Aliona out of the custard and put her knickers back on*. How hard can it be? Poor Anya. The fulsome goodbye press releases have barely mentioned her, nobody’s screaming at the official facebook account that Anya leaving is THE FINAL NAIL IN THE COFFIN OF THE DAY THAT STRICTLY DIED, and let’s be honest, the producers never really wanted her in the first place, but for some of us, Anya’s cut is the hardest of them all. For those of us for whom Patrick’s American Smooth and Quickstep were amongst the dances of last series mostly due to her choreography, for those of us who thought she filled a pair of fishnet tights rather well, for those of us who always appreciate when It Takes Two tries to make people act who really can’t act, and yes, alright, for those us who watched all of So You Think You Can Dance USA Series 3 and still ship her and Pasha, we’re not getting any closure. Unless of course someone breaks their legs or Ola decides to follow her husband out the door after all. I won’t say I live in hope. At this point, I think I probably care more than she does anyway.
Artem Chigvintsev : For all that Artem is one of my favourite pros of recent years (I hid it so well didn’t I?) his departure actually feels kind of right. In fact in two ways, his departure feels distinctly Artem. Firstly because you know, deep down, he would actually have left the country to avoid getting partnered with DIRTY NON-RINGAH Fern Britton, let alone any more of her filthy useless sort, and let’s face it, it was time. Secondly, the whole reasoning behind his quit is so very Artem. I like to imagine him hanging out the window of a 1930s biplane dressed like Rudolph Valentino dressed like Laurence Of Arabia, telling a crowd of adoring and weeping women that Artem never stopped loving them, only Artem’s visa stopped loving them. Then he could fly off into the sunset with a banner saying “The End…?” slowly fading in over the top. It’s so suitably that Artem’s Strictly end is every bit as ridiculous, vague, and implausible as the man himself. I hope Artem can find work in the USA for however long he wants, be it as a professional dancer on Dancing With The Stars, a special guest ballroom choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance, or as a lighthouse, periodically turning in San Francisco harbour, guiding all those party boats safely to shore with his toothy grin. I have faith that America has a place for a man who knows how to waft. Now who do you think cried more when they found out he was leaving, Kara or Robin?
James Jordan : So it finally happened. After countless series of the press telling us that James Jordan was on his way out the door, it’s finally happened, and he’s got the shove. Kudos to whoever it was on the Strictly Production Team who made the decision to “offer” him a “reduced role” as a back-up dancer and periodic partnerner of Christmas Special dregs. But then again, points off for not getting a video-tape of his reaction to being “offered” it. Of course James has recognised this brush-off for what it is, blowing up all over twitter yelling that the BBC are FULL OF LIES and that he was BRUTALLY SACKED. All this as Evil Moira Ross In A Rainbow Wig puts out cheerfully press-releases about what a hard-working and dedicated dancer James Jordan was on Strictly Come Dancing and how everyone will miss him. All of this is made even more hilarious because for whatever reason, they decided to ask Ola to come back, and she said yes. If you thought the atmosphere last year, when Aliona swept back in five minutes after getting sacked, I would imagine it’s going to be nothing compared to the frostiness going on this year. I cannot wait. Needless to say, James’ departure and Brenda’s mellowing with age has left a room for a new Bad Boy Of Strictly to rise. Who will it be? Aljaz? New Boy Tristan? My money’s on Pasha turning up at the start of next series dressed all in black with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth like Slutty Sandy at the end of Grease.