Mollie King : Just like in 2014, our first reveal is a Saturday, making this the first time the show has ever double dipped into the same pop band, unless you count how they scouted both Tameka and Kellie from this iconic performance (the bit where Tameka forgets her choreography and just…bobbles off being particularly illuminating). Really it’s no surprise that the show’s first slip into repeat casting has come via The Saturdays, as they were all good looking, just succesful enough to have a couple of indelible hits and for people to be able to remember they had names (if not exactly what those names were) but not so big that they would be able to consider themselves above the show. Mollie is the blonde one who looks a bit like Sienna Miller but with shinier teeth, who dated David Gandy and almost but not quite got to the live shows on X Factor. Her casting also reveals that the start of “Higher” was in fact a prophecy revealing the order in which all five Saturdays will do Strictly, which means that in 2020 we will be seeing some b tier Olympians competing with Una Foden aka Granny Saturday aka Mrs Ben Foden aka get Ben Foden in the audience now please preferably without a top on thanks.
Ruth Langsford Probably the show’s longest running storyline over the years (other than “Anton du Beke eh? What’s going on there then? Still live with his mother does he?”) was the show’s ongoing quest to find a GMTV contestant who could DANCE! Then it turned out they couldn’t. So now apparently the show floats liberally like a loose zeppelin round the ITV schedule trawling for contestants from anywhere to pull in that key working class mum demographic to the BBC. A Loose Woman here, a Judge Rinder there, even former Big Brother contestants can get in if they’re loud enough to get noticed and their show airs between 10 and 4. And a substory of this has been Ruth Langsford, waving sadly up at the sky and desperately trying to get cast, her agent sprinkling her name to the tabloids as a “rumour” every year since about 2012. And for their part, the casting team have almost certainly been waiting and waiting until she’s famous enough that she can be cast in her own right as a celebrity by herself, so they don’t have to deal with Eamonn Holmes on a daily basis. And now…HERE WE ARE. THE HOUR HAS COME! Ruth is ready to live out her daytime dreams of dancing with an Aljaz or a Pasha or a What’s That Spanish One Called Again, Gurkha?
Gemma Atkinson : So, if so far the names have been, whilst predictable, not the usual faces you see churning through the reality tv/celebrity quiz content machine……well here’s Gemma Atkinson. Previously a contestant on (*deep breath*) I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here (5th place), Soapstar Superstar (5th place), Celebrity Masterchef (Early Boot), Celebrity Weakest Link : Couples Special (dunno), Celebrity Family Fortunes (lost to Anthony Cotton), and Celebrity Chase (won, but against Shaun, the worst Egghead) (no offence Shaun). So…you know, she gets about a bit. But that’s not all! As an actress, Gemma has managed the unusual feat of being a regular on not one, not two, but three soaps, playing Lisa Hunter (surly teen, stalking victim, walking PSA about self-harm) on Hollyoaks, Hollyoaks : Let Loose, Hollyoaks : After Hours, and Hollyoaks : In The City ; Tamzin Bayle (paramedic, bit shit at it, love interest died in a minibus explosion) in Casualty ; and Carly Hope (shop owner, serial fiancee, did a bit of light fraud) in Emmerdale. So say what you will about Gemma Atkinson, she’s put her time in at the coal face of fame, she’s not been put on after three months on Corrie and a photoshoot in Grazia Magazine. Could the casting department be more creative though? Maybe…
Susan Calman : So after some fairly predictable and safe choices (*eyes upwards*) we finally have a mould breaker! Firstly a female comedian, which is a first if you don’t count impressionists as comedians, and lord knows I don’t. Secondly she’s a lesbian which, yes that’s a first as well, even as we approach the show’s 15th incarnation we’ve never before had a female woman person who is also a full time public swimmer in the LGBTQ+ alphabetti spaghetti. Thirdly, and even more of a sign of the times, she’s the first married gay contestant the show’s ever had, meaning we as a community are FINALLY RESPECTABLE, GLORY BE let’s make a statue. She’s also tiny and approaching middle age, and of no dance or performance background whatsoever, and therefore feels exactly like the “duffer” that Kevin has spent the last couple of years orbiting ever and ever closer to. Now let’s all imagine Kevin in a VT with an actual COMEDIAN to complement his…leanings, and hunker down for the winter. And at the same time imagine how they could put her with AJ and it could all be much much worse.