THE LADIES ARE COMPLETE!
Laura Whitmore : If you were expecting them to shuffle out one of their least famous names into the spotlight in the immediate wake of two of their more famous ones, congratulations, you are right. Laura Whitmore presents the spin-off show for I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, and also does news bits on MTV UK, making her very much the Aldi Caroline Flack. 37 in FHM’s Sexiest list as opposed to Number 5. Hosting the BRIT awards nominations ceremony rather than reporting from the event itself for ITV. Probably shagging that wee blonde Irish one from One Direction rather than Harry Styles, probably, maybe, don’t quote me on that. At the moment, Laura, whilst very pretty and seemingly very nice, does have that whiff of “makes the final but finishes third, because deep down nobody cares” about her, but we shall see.
Louise Redknapp : At only the seventh time of rumouring! Yes, after year after year of rumours, near misses, and “no, really, definitely this time”s and “oh she was going to do it but backed out because Jamie wussed out at the last minute”s and “SHE HAD HYSTERICAL EXPLOSIVE DIARRHOEA, OK!s”, the woman who attempted to pass herself off as the most bland mononym in pop history (you wouldn’t spell “LOUISE!” out in frankfurters at a 8 year olds birthday buffet, let alone put it up in lights) is finally doing Strictly! So let’s peel back the many many layers of dance ringerdom here.
1. Louise went to Italia Conti, along with other talent-reality ringers Pixie Lott, Natalie Gumede, Steph Fearon, Bonnie Langford, Kelly Brook, Sam Attwater, Zaraah Abrahams, and DEREK HOUGH.
2. Louise was in hot 90s R & B girl group Eternal and it wasn’t because she could sing like Dionne Warwick, let’s put it that way
3. Louise then had a solo career built entirely around dance routines because her songs sounded like the sort of thing you’d hear playing out of an 8-bit birthday card
4. Louise was such a sexy mover that in 2004, FHM named her the sexiest woman of the decade. IN 2004! Like, they just gave up and called it there, like how we all knew by Week 4 that Jay had won but for some reason carried on with the series anyway
5. Louise was a judge on two series of the UK version of So You Think You Can Dance, during which time she was asked to judge ballroom dancing routines, which really means that either she was underqualified for that, or she’s overqualified for this. Fortunately, I was the only person who watched two series of So You Think You Can Dance, so they’ll proably get away with it.
Other that that…she seems nice, I guess? Here’s hoping Jamie is front row and often, eh?
Daisy Lowe : A model, for those of you going “who? who?” like a particularly demented owl (and for those of you judging the quality of the cast based on familiarity remember this – before Series 9 you HADN’T heard of Chelsee Healey, and you HAD heard of Bloody Lulu), and like every model ever on this show, one who exists but one degree of separation away from another famous person, being the daughter of Pearl Lowe (of the Primrose Hill mob) and Gavin Rossdale (of being Mr Gwen Stefani). Which means two things – firstly that her family fuck-tree stretches out forever in two directions, like what happens if you stand between a pair of mirrors, and secondly that rather hilariously she has one set of half-siblings called Alfie, Frankie and Betty and one set called Kingston, Zuma and Apollo (ah the transatlantic culture gap). Still, as a model on this show, Daisy has better industry cred than some of the rest. Daisy has appeared in Tatler & Vogue – Jo Wood was the answer to a crossword clue in Take A Break once ; Daisy dated a Dr Who – Lisa Snowdon dated a pretend Dr that now says “who?” every time her name comes up in conversation ; Daisy walked for Karl Lagerfeld and Vivienne Westwood – Abbey Clancy walked for canine muscular dystrophy and raised £62.80 via justgiving.com! She may not have much name value with Strictly’s core audience, but Daisy Lowe’s lived damnit.
Naga Munchetty : Well, as someone whose pre-series discussion of potential celebrities every year is 99% “which BBC Breakfast presenter will it be this time?” and 1% “I mean, Paul Rudd MIGHT not be filming something, it IS possible, he *does* love the UK, I saw him say it in an interview once”, I am shocked and delighted to hear that we’re getting two of them early risers this year, as Ore is followed into the Strictly arena by Naga Munchetty. Breakfast wise, Naga sits in the seat previously held by Susanna Reid, ie the “Controversial Woman” main presenter seat ie the one who occasionally expresses an opinion or talks or wears SKIRTS where you can see her KNEES if you sit and painstakingly freezeframe 3 hours of footage every day and then post it on Youtube, endless, endless clips on youtube of 1mm square of Breakfast presenters knickers and bits of bra END THE MADNESS. Ahem. Anyway, despite her ultra-modern, chic, pixie-cut facade, Naga is a woman of many old-tyme hobbies, including golf, jazz trumpet, mixology, and coyly hinting that she shagged Prince once, but who can say whether dancing the foxtrot will soon be counted amongst them? Also, and let’s just get this out the way now, so we can all get the juvenile giggling out of our systems, her married name is Naga Haggar.
Anastacia See Louise? THAT’S how you do being a one-name popstar. Like a long missing Russian princess, a line of cosmetics for drag queens, or a stripper hitting the pole in order to pay her way through vet school, the name Anastacia speaks of a mystique and an exotica that maybe doesn’t quite match Anastacia’s chosen method of musical delivery – belting everything down her nose like she’s trying to dislodge a particularly stubborn snot rocket. Or like Kenneth Williams struggling to claw his way out of the grave through a mouthful of dirt. Or like an electric lawnmower accidentally driving over a rock. One of those. Still, God looked down and decided to make one wedding singer legitimately famous (at least in the UK and Australia and bits of Eastern Europe) and he chose Anastacia, with her hit singles Am Ahtta Lerr and Lefta Sarr Alerun, her terrible terrible taste in sunglasses, her authentic loud’n’obnoxious Chicago personality, and thank god he did, because he could have chosen Carol Manners-Whiting who does nothing but Whitney Houston covers and always nicks more than her fair share of the wedding cake. Anastacia is on one level a massive ringer, in that she she started out her career as a professional dancer for pop videos in the 80s, but on another very real level probably isn’t any more, as her life has been one brush with illness and death after another (Chrons disease, mutiple hernias, superventricular tachcycardia, breast cancer (TWICE), sciatica…) so who knows what she can do these days, other, of course, than be a crystalised Gay Icon par excellence. And for that we salute her.
Claudia Fragapane : And now that the sun has set on Rio (well almost, I’m sat watching the basketball final as I type this) the Olympians can be revealed! Who to match golden goddesses Denise, Victoria and Audley, silver superstars Louis, Colin, Iwan, and Martina, and bronze babe Anthony? It’s…erm…well she was there, that’s the main thing. To be fair, Claudia is only 18, and has plenty of time left in her career as a gymnast, but you’d think that after our most succesful Olympics ever in terms of medals won (nobody counts 1908, it went on for 6 months and half the events literally only had British athletes in them, and even then we rigged the shit out of everything just in case) they might have been able to land someone who got one? Never mind, a female gymnast is at least something new, as is a female celebrity weighing in at just under 4ft 6, and there’s possibly a more prestigious male Olympian in the pipeline for tomorrow, so let’s all count our blessings. Time will tell whether Claudia is a Louis level success or a Gabby level failure, but I think we can at least safely say now that if she doesn’t end up partnered with new minipop pro AJ, I will PICKLE MY WAWNUTS AND SHOW ME BAHM IN TESCOS etc etc
Tameka Empson : Those of you who are versed in Strictly lore will know that Tameka was all signed up and confirmed to appear as part of the cast of Series 11, but then oops, she got up the duff, so she was replaced at the last minute by Natalie Gumede/Vanessa Feltz/Susanna Reid/that estate agent one (*delete as per your preferences*). What a woman. AND NOW SHE’S BACK! Back to deliver that Kim Fox/3 Non Blondes/Background Role In A 90s themed gay film/runner-up on Lets Dance For Comic Relief magic. Tameka has been in Eastenders for 7 years now, during which time her major storylines have been (*checks wikipedia*) giving birth in the Queen Vic toilets, marrying Richard Blackwood, and opening a speakeasy, presumably as part of some sort of time travel week wherein Ian Beale accidentally introduced Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson oops, and Peggy Mitchell parachuted into Vichy France. In terms of her ringer locker, Tameka doesn’t appear to have a lot to draw upon other than a whooooole lot of panto, but then again, this is Strictly 2k16, so…it’s as good a parcel of experience as you can get to be honest.
Lesley Joseph : I love that Lesley Joseph was our last, 15th, and final celeb revealed for Strictly this year. Partly because it’s LESLEY JOSEPH being announced as effectively the headline act on an edition of The One Show that also featured Greg Rutherford’s reveal, but also partly because it’s been so obvious that she was cast for about two months now, and that she’s been in a constant vibrating state of excitement wanting to tell everyone ever since, bless her. Lesley Joseph aka comedy slutty neighbour Dorien Green aka…no that’s it isn’t it…anyway, Lesley has the honour of being by some distance (five years!) the oldest female contestant ever to appear on the show and also possibly the biggest gay icon in a cast already bubbling out of the seems with them. Is there a gay man my age who doesn’t remember her peerless performance of Like A Virgin on that one episode of Birds Of A Feather, skipping merrily about the karaoke stage in a multicoloured bodystocking, and think that right there that that was everything you wanted to be in life encapsulated in 3 minutes of barely there teatime 90s BBC 1 weekend comedy? I hope for the ssake of all our colours of the rainbow that she does slightly better on Strictly than her best mate Biggins just did on Big Brother anyway…