Strictly Come Dancing 15 – The Lovely Ladies

It begins!

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.

Charlotte Hawkins : So after saying that the show had officially given up on its quest to find an ITV breakfast presenter who could dance…here we are again! Charlotte here is apparently occasionally a co-presenter, but mostly the newsreader on Good Morning Brian (named, in case you need reminding, after its one viewer). Yes, I know, Good Morning Brian has an actual news section and I presume it’s not just a long list of factual corrections to whatever garbage just came out of Piers Morgan’s mouth about how JK Rowling hired a transman to assassinate the glorious eternal high hierophant Donald Trump praise be upon him forever he’s not that bad you know he let me win a gameshow. To be honest, outside of that, I know absolutely nothing about Charlotte Hawkins other than that she probably did ballet lessons as a girl and also she’s older than she looks, well done her, maybe she and Simon Rimmer can have a chat about that and also how three middle aged morning tv hosts from the commercial networks all got cast on the same series, along with three X Factor contestants, two gay comic relief contestants, and, yes, two actors from Holby City. WELL DONE CASTING EVILS FOR GETTING PISHED IN THE OFF SEASON AND DEVELOPING DOUBLE VISION APPARENTLY.

Chizzy Akudolu : Thanks goodness this year saw the return of Let’s Drag Up For Comic Relief. Not because it was any good (it wasn’t) but because it allowed us once more to see something like the first stages of auditions for the show, as a general dance warm up. Previously the show has been a fertile proving ground for subsequent Strictly stars, like Tracy Beaker, Ore Oduba, Ricky Whittle, Drunken Auntie Debbie Meaden and…erm…Richard Arnold? Anyway whilst certain people clearly being lined up for a potential run on the BBC 1 reality flagship of flagships flopped harder than Omid Djalili on Celebrity Splash with Tom Daley (looking at you Danny-Boy Hatchard from off of Eastenders), Chizzy booked herself a spot by somehow single-handedly managing to get a comedy medical routine based around Uptown Funk all the way to the runner up slot for the entire series. And she beat previous Strictly alum Melvin Odoom, Dominic Littlewood, Iwan Thomas, Russell Grant Alison Hammond, AND both James and Ola Jordan on the way. Other than that she played a bossy surgeon on Holby City and a zombie in Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set but did I mention she beat both Ola AND James Jordan? Worth it.

Debbie McGee : So seven years after her husband was a second boot, and a year after he died, here comes Debbie McGee, trailed and dogged by that one liner about how she’s a gold-digger everywhere she goes. Seriously, even on the fluffy lovely One Show it was used to introduce her, which seems a bit much, especially as she is now almost 60 and therefore a bit beyond playing the scheming eye-fluttering ingenue. For over 30 years, Debbie was the glamorous assistant of Paul Daniels, using her dance training with the IRANIAN NATIONAL BALLET (ringah do’dingah singah fo’fingah RIN-GAH! OY!) to get in and out of boxes and then in and out of other boxes and then in and out of the first box again but this time on fire. And then giggle. Magician’s assistant is a new casting for the show and, let’s face it, not one that’s likely to be filled again in the immediate future, so let’s enjoy her for however long she’s here, and all pray she gets paired with a male pro I can make a lot of wand jokes about.

Alexandra Burke dot com : Goodness me, when they crack open those X Factor floodgates they never stop do they? After Mollie, Aston, and actually come to think of it Debbie McGee was first boot on X Factor : Battle Of The Stars so let’s crowbar her into this as well, really stretch the point, now we get Alexandra Burke, winner of Series 5 and recorder of what is still the best selling winners single in the history of the show. Alexandra’s path through X Factor was an interesting one, as she kept her personality very firmly under wraps off stage until the final, when it exploded all over Beyonce’s face, along with a load of snot and tears and belt notes and culminated in her snatching her winners cd out of Dermot O’Leary’s hands before holding it aloft at the audience roaring bloody murder like she’d just decapitated him in the Colisuem. So it’ll be interesting to see how this new “with a personality” Alexandra goes over on a show where she’s a musical theatre/pop star ringah who’s spent the last year being Craig Revel Horwood’s muse. Based on her One Show appearance, where she made an early head start sprinting towards the record for “Most Times Telling Us Her Dance Experience Doesn’t Matter In One Series”, maybe not well? We shall see.


46 thoughts on “Strictly Come Dancing 15 – The Lovely Ladies

    1. Stormy

      He better not. Kevin better get an 80-something with hip trouble. I’m sick of seeing him get either pretty young things or women who already have dance experience. Or both.

      1. Laura

        I’m so glad it isn’t just me who thinks this. The man has made four finals on the bounce by virtue of consistently getting good partners; I want to see what he can do with someone who isn’t naturally decent to start with.

      2. monkseal Post author

        OK, I don’t think Clifton emnity is really *that* uncommon, come on, I remember the end of the last series. And the one before that.

  1. ChaChaChavvy

    TWO Saturdays and neither of them Rochelle? Dull, dull, dull! She’s an odd choice for the first announcement, being neither current nor a big name nor unexpected. The off-season rumours have been particularly underwhelming this year. I’m hoping for a few big surprises.

    1. monkseal Post author

      OK but Anne Robinson better be on, that’s all I’m saying, I can’t believe it’s taken this long.

  2. jgcameron1992

    If we are holding out for more old girl band members – I’m praying for a girls aloud member. Since Cheryls babying, Sarahs in CBB and Kimberley has already done it. I guess that leaves Nadine or Nicola.

  3. Marcella

    Hi, Monkseal!
    Great to read your blog again!
    Very excited, it’s on now, the wait is finally over.
    Unfortunately that also means that Christmas is around the corner and you realise that you haven’t even got halfway through your 2017 to do list :s

  4. DJ Mikey

    Rochelle is clearly the only acceptable member of The Saturdays, or at the very least Una – as it would probably mean Ben Foden in the audience…

  5. Laura

    Google tells me Ruth is only an inch shorter than Kevin, so I think that rules him out (and Pasha and probably Gorka as well). Given that Brenda and Aljaz are both due someone decent (not that that ever stopped the producers before mind you), I will frankly be amazed if she gets anyone other than Anton.

    1. monkseal Post author

      I would…put Aljaz somewhere towards the back of the queue in terms of deserving someone decent after having Helen and Daisy (and also never having had a celeb over 40). Behind Neil, Gorka, Brenda and Pasha at least, and probably Giovanni as well, given how crocked Laura was. (Obviously Anton would be “due someone decent” as well if he were playing by the same rules as the rest of them, but he’s his own special case).

      1. Matthew

        I’d put Ruth with Aljaz, as Monkseal said, we’ve not seen him with a lady over 40, and the only limitation physically he’s had to contend with is Alison’s size. Plus, is it just me or I don’t think she’ll be THAT bad, I don’t know why someone would actively campaign to be on a show where they would embarrass themselves.

      2. monkseal Post author

        Erm, he also had to deal with Abbey’s NEHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHRVES, that’s a pretty major handicap.

  6. MartianAndy

    If Gemma’s good (and i hope she is) I say give her to Brenda.

    It’s been too long since we’ve seen the naked desperation in his eyes. I want another series of ‘Don’t blow it, Brenda’.

    1. monkseal Post author

      Brenda seems to be spending most of the reveal chuntering that he’s not going to get anyone under 40 because he’s too old now, so I am absolutely here for desperate naked Br…well something like that.

  7. ChaChaChavvy

    Long-suffering Ruth Langsford, as she’s known in our house. I’ve got nothing against her, but I kind of feel we know exactly what we’re going to get.

    I’m glad they’ve plundered Emmerdale for a change, and Gemma seems spunky and tomboyish (like a slightly more mature Chelsee, perhaps?). I wonder if they’ll put her with Pasha, as she’s based Up North. She’s tall, but so was Carol.

    I’ve been having fantasies about Kathy Burke and Mary Beard signing up; a VT where Mary and Aljaz foxtrot down the Appian Way as she teaches him his declensions. I aim too high and then I’m always disappointed.

    1. monkseal Post author

      I’d pay to see someone take Aljaz up the Appian Way, although I may be thinking of a slightly different context.

  8. ChaChaChavvy

    Glaswegian lesbian comedian is, at least, new ground, although I don’t want Kevin to get a comedy duffer, I want him with the kind of duffer Pasha has had for the past two years, where the hard work is in making them interesting.

    I know people tend to moan every year about the calibre of celebs, and I always end up voting for someone I never expected to vote for anyway – or, in Danny’s case, someone I’d never heard of – but I really hope the bookers pull things around with the last six names. Last year, Anastacia, Ed, Lesley, Will, Greg and Louise had really good name recognition, but this year no-one seems to transcend their particular niche.

    1. monkseal Post author

      It does feel like they cashed in a LOT of people they’d been grinding down for a while last year and now it’s all a bit “…what now?”

  9. Isolde

    Please let Susan be partnered with AJ. Kevin can have an elderly duffer, but the thought of AJ’s confused little face fills me with joy.

    1. monkseal Post author

      Actually in certain lights AJ does have that “lesbians who look like Justin Bieber” vibe, I think it could work, to tell a romantic story. Let’s turn him into a drag king!

  10. Jane

    Excited about Susan, but not sure she’s the first female comedian; what about Dr Hammie? Or doesn’t she count because she’d changed career by the time she did Strictly? (Those of us of a certain vintage remember her “Not the Nine O’Clock News” days…)

    1. monkseal Post author

      I’d say Hammie was an actress who specialised in comedic parts rather than a comedian (Tameka’s the same sort of niche but probably closer to counting because of Three Non Blondes) but it’s all just splitting hairs isn’t it?

      1. Jane

        OK, I am graciously conceding the point, on the basis that Susan is much funnier than Hammie. I wonder who she will be partnered with; I think all the male pros will be far too tall for her. Maybe this could be the year of Strictly’s first same-sex couple? I know, I know – we’ve been saying that every year for… well, a year or two at least, and I suspect it’s still a step too far…

  11. ChaChaChavvy

    No celeb announcements until Friday? This feels unplanned. A couple of last minute dropouts, perhaps?

    When I saw no new announcements today, I actually checked out who was on Newsnight. I was having visions of Kirsty Wark and Grayson Perry.

      1. Penny

        He’s talked about it in May in a couple of interviews and said that a) they’ve approached himm he’s up for it – the plan would be for him to wear a suit for normal episodes and a frock for Halloween/Movie week. But perhaps he’s been a bit too open for someone who was actually signed up.

  12. Krumholtz

    I am excited about the Calman. Though I usually find that my favourites pre dance are entirely different to my faves during the competition…

  13. ChaChaChavvy

    Well, what a humdrum shower! They really capitalised on the Ed-factor, didn’t they? We know they’re not going to sign Adele and Daniel Craig, but there is a level of household name celebrity between there and where we’ve ended up. Possible theories –

    a) Charlie from Casualty has all the money.
    b) Alan Dedicoat was right, and all these people seem exciting when you’re off your head on coke.
    c) The media was wrong, and instead of looking at Ed last year, they looked at the success of Ore, Danny and Claudia and thought, “We don’t need big names to make this work.”

    I love this show, so it’s really frustrating when the producers get complacent and unimaginative. Where’s the ambition? I’d hope the ratings take a hit to give them a kick but, if that happened, they’d probably revamp the pros, or the judges, or the format, and not give the producers and bookers the shake-up they so obviously need. There are a couple of ok names in the mix, but a second Saturday, two washed-up X-Factor people, four soap people (two from the same second-tier soap), two ITV daytime presenters, a comedian who was old-hat when he was actually famous, a TV chef who doesn’t even have his own primetime show. What were they thinking?

    1. monkseal Post author

      Maybe they’re all still popping Advil after the NON STOP SCANDAL of last series, and fancied a quiet year. I can’t see any of this bunch tripping the same sort of high drama buttons that Anastacia/Will/Tameka did.

  14. BeyonceCastle

    Mollie = Frankie
    Rev = Ed
    Davood = hot Tham
    Ruth = Fern but more popular
    Gemma = Chelsea/Georgia
    Simon = James
    Aston = Louis
    Susan = Jan (can only hope)
    Joe = Jimmy
    Brian = Mark (unless Brendan Walsh has been on and I forgot!)
    Charlotte = Laura
    Chizzy = Tameka
    Alexandra = Jamelia (awesome)
    Jonnie = Cassidy
    Debbie = Carol but better dancer

    It will be fine. More than fine.
    Final 4 : Jonnie, Mollie, Debbie, Aston or Ruth depending if Janette’s choreo/Anton’s popularity are wearing thin. I’d like to see Ruth with Brendan actually (and tell him a) she’s not a girl and b) she’s not doing the splits pimp pose ta muchly!)

    1. monkseal Post author

      Are we saying that Brian is Mark Ramprakash, Mark Wright, or Mark Benton?

      (Also do you mean Bradley Walsh?)

    1. monkseal Post author

      They might be able to get Michelle Williams back again if they lay a trail of a…suitable substance to the studio door.

  15. Marcela

    Alexandra is my token figure of immense dislike this year.
    Every year I have to have one, otherwise where is the fun?

  16. Matthew

    Also on the presenters of The One Show being weirdly inappropriate to the lovely Debbie McGee, Matt Baker referring to Paul Daniels as her “former” husband, which I mean, yes he is, but that usually means divorced, right?

    1. monkseal Post author

      It was also odd coming in the middle of a tribute show for another Saturday Night Entertainer who married someone much younger.


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