Four winners, one runner-up, and a Hammond.
The Strictly Christmas Special has gone through a number of mutations over the years. Firstly it was used to find out whether the cream of Series 1 or the cream of Series 2 was better (SPOILERS : it was Series 2). Then it was used to determine whether the cream of Series 3 of Strictly was better than some also-rans from Dancing With The Stars (SPOILERS : Strictly). Then it slowly morphed into an annual opportunity for the best of the best from all series to meet, greet, compete and most of ALL GET DRUNK to prove who was were the true champions. Then Ali Bastian somehow won one and it all felt a bit like the bottom of the barrel had been reached. Then for the next four years after that it served as a chance for celebs who were too BUSY AND A LIST to commit to a full series to get a small sip of that Strictly Magic. A List superstars like Su Pollard, Rufus Hound, Ronni Ancona, Katy Brand, and Fatboy from Eastenders. (It also turned out quite a few of these people OOPS HAD TIME AFTER ALL as two of them went on to actually do full series). And then finally, last, year, the show sloughed off another layer of skin to arrive in its final form. A panto. A bit like the “best of the best” format, but with everyone dressed up as cats, genies, nutcrackers and Lisa Riley. Louis Smith claimed the yuletide crown last time, but let’s have a look at who’s playing this year.
Abbey Clancy & Brendan Cole : As Aljaz is still competing in the show, the Series 11 champion (somehow) has found herself casting around this year’s early boots and ITT cronies to find someone willing to partner a young tall leggy blonde with the potential to win Strictly. And OH LOOK, HERE’S BRENDA! WHAT SERENDIPITY! Of course Brenda and Abbey have history. Firstly obviously there’s the fact that she robbed Brenda’s favourite THIS GIRL ever of the Series 11 crown. Secondly she robbed Brenda’s favourite THIS GIRL ever of getting the 10s for her iconic Charleston that she deserved. Thirdly he taught the girls ballroom dancing on Series 2 of Britain’s Next Top Model and didn’t pick her as the winner, instead picking that bitch Tamar. So you might expect some friction between them but…let’s face it, Brenda’s got a supermodel, like he cares about the past.
Alison Hammond & Robin Windsor : Another of Aljaz’s ex’s here, and one who maybe got a slightly less exciting draw. You can tell that Robin’s just going to bung out one of the routines he’s got left over in his choreographical wardrobe that weren’t quite good enough for Lisa Riley. And…I mean…look at some of the routines that apparently were good enough for Lisa Riley. Still, Christmas is a time for the eerie and uncanny as well as the fun and festive so part of me can’t help hoping that Ebenezer Scrooge might be visited by Jacob Marley, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, and
CAFFEEEEE BABES! (I’m also fairly sure that this is the only couple that doesn’t contained anyone who thinks they can win, which should be a nice respite from the barely-hidden elbows I see coming out elsewhere)
Cassidy Little & Natalie Lowe : I have to admit, I’m one of those rare people who not only didn’t care for The People’s Strictly, I didn’t even manage to get through even half of the first episode, so I’m not really sure how much I can write for the preview for this one. He’s a solider, he won, he’s got one leg, he’s Canadian, he’s an even bigger dirty ringah than even Natalie Gumede was, and he got Natalie her only ever Strictly title so he’s alright with me.
Harry Judd & Joanne Clifton : With the re-emergence of the dread wraith Charlie Simpson from the shadows and Busted reformed, and McBusted hence unformed, Harry’s obviously at a bit of a loose end as to what to do with himself these days. There are so many naked Attitude photoshoots a man can do in a lifetime, so hey, why not come back to do Strictly again? Of everyone in the cast he seems most poised to win based on past form, having just won the show’s most popular male winner ever (and hence, let’s face it, most popular winner ever) poll and been partnered with a pro who has to be chomping at the bit to show off what she can do with those Ballroom Showdance champion credentials, having spent the last two series partnered with a man dressed as a lobster and awkwardly clutching a mic and saying “OK!” in lieu of interviewing people. But can they beat a sympathetic soldier? We shall see.
Lisa Snowdon & Pasha Kovalev : Can you imagine though? Lisa running back into the studio eagerly, probably with three or four shopping bags with her and sunglasses on, ready to recreate some of that Lisa & Brendan magic again? Ready to slag off all the other contestants, get 10s, cry, get more 10s, adjust one anothers boobs, and dance to some 80s classics? And then…sorry Lisa, but…you’re 43 now, time’s changed, Brenda’s moved on. Still, here’s PASHA! The perfect port to sooth a broken heart. I can only hope that Lisa gets so enraged (and drunk) that they try to recreate Snowdance but in reverse, with Pasha in the skin-tight bacofoil (and if that turkey needs basting I kno[PUNCHLINE REDACTED]). She’d probably make a better first of lifting him for a start. It’d be almost as iconic as when she rampaged all over the Series 7 finale!
Tom Chambers & Oti Mabuse : Oh hi Tom welcome back. I’ll be honest the thought of Tom Chambers and panto styling fills me with a unique sense of dread that I can’t really articulate. Hopefully Oti’s wearing something fab…