Almost forgot about this!
Yes it’s time to shut your eyes, push your brain right down into your finger, at point at the pro *you* think is going to be waving that glitterball around come Christmas Eve. When we did this last year, Natalie won, as per usual, and Aliona, the eventual winner, finished a distant 6th. This time we’ve got our largest crop of pros ever, so I’m not anticipating much better, but you never can tell.
The Frontrunners : I know I said this last year at this time, five seconds before she got cast out onto the It Takes Two sofa for a year, but truly they can’t have brought in Joanne Clifton, world champion ballroom dancer and, more importantly, a prime slab of Clifton, only to have her peak choreographically at sticking a pair of styrofoam crab claws on a middle-aged DJ? Right? There are at least three half-decent chances amongst the male celebs this year, and she’s getting one, and she’s going hell for leather. Otherwise I’m going to make a maybe eccentric choice and stick three, yes THREE of the newbies in this category. I think that Gorka Marquez (the new mysterious Eurohunk on a show where the new mysterious Eurohunk tends to rather well in their first year), AJ Pritchard (good looking young tweenbait who seems bolted on to pair an Olympic her…attendee) and Katya Jones (the most high profile and garlanded of the new female pros) all have a good chance of going deep. Particularly Gorka, call me Gorka.
The Contenders : Let’s get Natalie Lowe out of the way quickly – she’s getting Greg, he’s probably going to be rubbish, but if he’s not rubbish he’s probably going to win, so it all levels out about here really. There’s always the chance that when paired with an Olympian, Overcompetitive Aussie Natalie emerges again (and God I hope so) or of course that she doesn’t get Greg at all, but at this point you have to feel better about Natalie’s chances than has been the case for a good while. Next we evaluate our chance of a repeat winner, and as seasoned viewers of reality shows know, you wait ages for something to happen (a female team winning the Amazing Race, a man winning America’s Next Top Model, The X Factor winner flopping horribly) and then it happens two years in a row. On which score I’d bet on the chances of Aljaz Skorjanec and Pasha Kovalev achieving it over…well, the one other possibility. There’s quite a few women floating around the cast with Abbey Clancy/Caroline Flack potential to randomly take despite the odds, and Aljaz and Pasha could both just about recreate their runs to the glitterball. Of the rest, I don’t want to contemplate the thought of Karen Clifton winning other than to acknowledge the very real possiblity of it happening and laying it out there that they owe Oti Mabuse somebody good after being given someone with one arm for her debut run.
The Dark Horses : Oksana Platero it has to be said seems unlikely to be the one to break the duck on female pros winning in their debut year. Her resume is heavily latin biased and she’s been given much less of the limelight than her fellow debutantes. She’s a looker, but I’m not sure she’s a winner. At the other end of the scale, they’ve tried Janette Manrara out with two potential winners in a row now and she’s kind of ended up messing up with both of them. I smell a year off before they consider whether to give her another go. Brendan Cole at this point lives in the phantom zone between here and retirement known as Paychequeville, but could feasibly string another run at the finals again without it feeling too tired. Maaaaaaybe. And finally, male pros tend not to peak in their second year, and whilst Giovanni has Clifton associations and a number of petite women he could feasibly partner up with, I don’t see the trophy in his immediate future just yet.
The Also Rans : Unfortunately this category is tilted somewhat by the fact that there are strong and reliable rumours that Neil Jones and Chloe Hewitt are the two pros who’ll be warming the subs bench this year. So probably not so much also-rans as non-starters but hey, people get things wrong, The Sun lost its otherwise impeccable record of rumouring contestants by putting everything on Angellica Bell strong and early, so let’s put them on the starting docket anyway. Of the other two pros left to consider, it feels slightly bizarre that Anton du Beke is still here after last year’s storyline for him, but hey, if he wants another go, so be it. Just don’t go speculating what his second ever showdance might look like. Kevin Clifton meanwhile has, it has to be reiterated, made three finals in a row and we all need a break for the love of christ
But that’s enough about my opinion. Here, as usual, is a poll.