Almost actual content, but don’t worry, there’s still a poll at the end.
A new series dawns, and once again we have 16 options placed before us when asked to ponder the eternal question “which professional dancer is going to join the pantheon of hoofers who have lifted the Strictly Glitterball Trophy, leaving their celebrity partner jumping up vainly to try to touch it as well in their wake, like a frustrated cat after yarn, before getting fired the very next series?”. Last year you didn’t do too badly, with Pasha finishing 5th out of 15 in your guessings, and also succesfully guessed that Kevin would once again fall into 2nd/3rd place limbo. Will Kevin finally get closure this year? Will you continue to vote blindly for Natalie just because you like her? And no, really, what’s a Gleb?
Let’s break this down :
The Frontrunners : OK, so, my prediction/hope that last year would be Strictly’s Year Of The Man fell on ground almost as stony as that which choked up BENNETT DOMINATION 2010, as the male contestants all turned out to be duffers, talented-but-unloved, one-trick ponies who fell to bits in the latter stages, or Mark Wright. But it’s a stone cold fact that the same gender has never won Strictly three years in a row, so I’m comfortable making the majority of my suggested front-runners female. Joanne Clifton is arguably in the strongest position as a talented and vaunted newbie who managed to get her inaugural duffer reasonably far in the competition, a British pro in a sea of suspicious forrins, and probably most importantly, as one of the Clifton Clan that has been swarming around and near-missing the glitterball for the last three years now. It’s only a matter of time before one of them snags it, and Joanne seems to be best placed of all of them right now. Natalie Lowe is admittedly a sentimental choice, but the BBCs promotion of her via Celebrity Masterchef despite her complete inability to cook suggests that they’re behind her as a Face Of Strictly and she’s reached the same place Erin was around Austin where it feels like she either wins now or never does. And these days the producers seem much less apt to rig against people not that I’m suggesting that happened to Austin or anything. My third choice for a female front-runner might seem counter-intuitive given that everyone spent much of last year criticising her choreography up and down the street, but y’all said the same thing about Aliona after Series 8 and I’ve got a feeling it might be Janette Manrara‘s time to shine still. After all, I’ve proved by Maths that the way to win Strictly is to do a great salsa, and she’s better placed than most. My pick for token male in the line-up is maybe more predictable, as let’s face it, everyone wants to get balled by Tristan MacManus, yes you do sir, don’t pull that face, you’d turn, and if this year’s faded Pop Princess is Samantha Mumba, Nadine GirlsAloud, or a B*Witched, who would bet against their combined Irish charm claiming the trophy?
The Controversy Magnets : It might be counter-intuitive but ever since James Jordan got fired and started in with that whole “STRICTLY IS A HELLHOLE WHERE NOBODY WOULD WANT TO WORK, IF YOU WANT TO KNOW THE SECRET, SEND £10 TO THIS ADDRESS, THEN FIND FIVE FRIENDS AND GET THEM TO SEND £20 TO YOU, THEN TELL EACH OF THEM TO GET FIVE FRIENDS…” business, Ola Jordan’s fortunes on Strictly have if anything improved, getting one of the stronger male dancers in each of the last two series. Such as they were. Time will tell if she herself dabbling her toes in the scandal pool, getting embroiled in a bullying farrago and binning off the show’s final to go skiing, hurts her, or if it somehow bounces her even higher. Kristina Rihanoff…I think they’ll give her a quiet series this year. And that is the only sentence I’m putting on record regarding this whole Ben Cohen mess.
The Limpers : Let’s start with Anton Du Beke, who basically has residence in this category by now. Anton is not going to win Strictly Come Dancing. If he gets lucky, and something goes very wrong with the rest of the cast, like uncurable explosive diarrhoea or something, he might make a final. One day. But he’s not winning, as much as rumours of him partnering Jane McDonald and going full Strictly circle back to his original series partnered with a powerhouse Northern Diva yelling “LAAAAAAAAAAH” 24/7 might have me personally excited. If Anton is a reliable dumpster for Strictly’ lady-duffers, by contrast Pasha Kovalev is the guy who, until now at least, always got lucky. When you’ve even managed to turn your one lemon into lemonade by way of shagging it until it can’t walk any more, the audience might start to wonder if you’re ever going to suffer a come down. I though have faith that Pasha’s winning will finally cause the producers to pull the trigger and pair him with an 80 year old. There are limits. Rounding this category out is Kevin Clifton just because not even Lilia Kopylova in her pomp could manage three finals in a row, and as popular as Kevin is, I think he needs a cooldown series before he gets overexposed, and I also think the producers know that.
The Rest : I can’t quite believe I’m here having to evaluate Brendan Cole‘s chances of becoming Strictly’s first two-time champion yet again. It feels a bit like…well Brendan appeared to feel for the entirity of last series. Like, it’s an effort having to come up with a new opinion on Brendan on Strictly at this point because he’s been there and done it all now. Except maybe be First Boot. Sure, let’s predict that. Speaking of first boots…Aliona Vilani. Going for her third in a row (fourth if you count Johnny Ball, because Aliona herself certainly seemed to have very strong opinions about how Iveta had ruined all her hard work such that you could conceivably count him as her project) it’s kind of hard to imagine her doing anything other than failing at this point. Seriously, imagine Aliona on a Launch Show actually EXCITED to meet her partner. Even pretend mid-boot level excited. Can’t be done can it? I mean…she’s owed, and by the sounds of it if she doesn’t get what she wants she may well sue, but my brain won’t stretch that far. We’ll see. As for the other two? Most newbies that the show is invested in go through a cycle in their first three series of having two good partners and one “bad” one, or at least on paper. Karen Hauer just got off this treadmill (Nicky Byrne and Mark Wright vs Dave Myers) so it’s hard to tell where she goes from here. I’m not sure she has it in her to win…which is generally how I feel about female pros just before they win, so I wouldn’t bet against her. Aljaz Skorjanec on the other hand is on course for another good partner and continues to seem amiable and doofy enough that the public wouldn’t hold him becoming the first two-time winner against him. That said…Year Of The Man. You know. Probably.
The Newbies : Honestly, it’s the first series in ages where I don’t really know anything about the new kids being lined up. All I really know is
Otile Mabuse is South African, the show’s first black pro, trained in civil engieneering, partnered a pop star in Strictly Come Dancing Germany and finished 6th.
Giovanni Pernice has an ear-ring in each ear, and if you listen very closely you can hear Evil Moira Ross In A Rainbow Wig blowing the dust off the Big Book Of Italian Stereotypes she stuck in the attic when Vincent left.
Gleb Savchenko is the most known quantity, having partnered something called Lisa Vanderpump on Dancing With The Stars and finished 10th. He can also be seen in Channel 4 drama “Humans” as a Synth. Probably. He also looks a bit like someone who finished 19th in Eurovision in 2008 with the song “Pump It In Your Heart”.
I have no idea which one the producers will favour with the best draw. I’m sure you’re all very excited to be joining a season where I’m not yelling “OH MY GOD GUYS, LOOK AT THIS GREAT HIP HOP SHE DID IN WEEK 3 OF SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE ARABIA IN 2009!!!”. Let’s have a poll.