Well at least it still wasn’t Tim Lovejoy.
Davood Ghadami :
Nuff said? I mean I don’t like to objectify men or anything (lol) but it’s actually really hard to find pictures of Davood with clothes actually on, so I think this is ok? Davood plays Kush in Eastenders, and as far as I’m aware his role in the show is to stand around with his top off looking gormless as various women do him wrong, and we the audience wonder what divine inspiration struck the casting director who decided to have his mother played by Bonnie Langford. Yes *that* Bonnie Langford. I eagerly await her being front row every week cheering her tv son on to Blackpool, with a whole army of Strallens sat behind her ready to be unleashed backstage to network. Anyway, Davood is this year’s Soap Hunk and yes, again, a step up on that score from Jake Wood (no offence to those of you with a Grumpy Cat fetish).
Richard Coles : Does anybody remember the good old days when you couldn’t hear the comedy contestants coming from further away than a tanked up hen party? I swear the Telegraph had a “IS RICHARD COLES THE NEW ED BALLS? GET HIM TO BLACKPOOL!” article written up within 5 seconds of the reveal. Maybe it’s like the Royals dying dying and they have a whole raft of these profiles prepared and ready to go, from Adam Woodyatt to Zeinab Badawi. Anyway Richard is here because he’s a vicar and everyone loves a comedy vicar. From All Gas & Gaiters to Rev via The Vicar Of Dibley and the hot one from Keeping Up Appearances (SHUT UP, I WAS DEVELOPING!) comedy clergy are a British staple. And even BETTER Richard Coles isn’t just a vicar, he’s a GAY vicar. So there’s the usual comedy tension from when someone gets power within an institution that histtorically sought to undermine and debase them, like when Frasier Crane seized control of the Wine Club, or when a black man became president of the USA. And even better, Richard Coles isn’t just any gay vicar. Oh no, he did the vwoop vwoop electronic noises for THE COMMUNARDS, the gayest band of the 80s. So gay they make Erasure look like Hard Fi, and Boy George like…I don’t know are there any totally straight male solo artists in the music industry? Gary Barlow? Anyway, the joy of Richard Coles is how any coversation can veer from talk of the Ecclesiastes to an anecdote about how he once saw Jimmy Sommeville get fisted by Mark Ashton whilst off his face on poppers in a lay-bye in Hemel Hempsted. All human life indeed.
Joe McFadden : I suppose the hope that the long-rumoured Paralympian this year is Richard Whitehead is too much to ask right? Not that I’d be praying for the opportunity to make gags about semi-forgotten songwriting duos of the 1970s (MCFADDEN AND WHITEHEAD! THEY DID “AIN’T NO STOPPPING US N…oh suit yourselves) because I’m struggling to find anything to say about a guy who I sort of recognise from looking like a little twink lots in ads for broody millennial dramas (The Crow Road! Sparkhouse! Erm…Sex, Chips & Rock’N’Roll!) and more recently in the role of “oh is he in Holby City now good for him” in Holby City. Looking at his resume Joe has also done a looooot of musical theatre from all over the map, from Rent to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, and some of that has had to involve some dance routines right? Hopefully Joe brings some charm and twinkle to the floor and let’s hope he isn’t just Tom Chambers Mk 2 I’m not sure I could cope.
Simon Rimmer : The Rimmerveal wasn’t noteworthy so much for who he is, but for how it was done, to the extent that I think there’s a big possibility that come the end of the series I will remember it more than I remember anything he does as a participant. The scene was Channel 4s Sunday Brunch, and amidst the articles about how kindness can help you lose weight and the new song by Louis Tomlinson (called “Take Me Back Daddy Harry” or something like that) we were teased with potential contestants one by one. Mathew Baynton (unlikely but yes please), Lee Ryan (no), Danny From The Script (NO, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD NO) and Martine McCutcheon (YES, HOOK IT TO MY VEINS, SECOND COMING OF DENSE VAN RINGAH BUT MORE SO) were all mooted and teased and then…it turned out to be second tier host/resident chef. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Simon, because he seemed into it (and who doesn’t love an enthusiastic Rimmer?) but veering from extreme to extreme like that left me feeling entirely Zen and neutral and opinionless about his participation. Other than the fact he looks really good for 54. The show’s not had the…best track record with dancing chefs, as Aliona and Karen Hardy’s shared, very rich, therapist will tell you, but maybe Simon will be the one to change all that.
Aston Merrygold: So Strictly breaks its embargo on former X Factor contestannts with JLS, currently the third most succesful group in the show’s history and the most succesful to audition as a group in their own right. Consisting of Daddy JLS (Marvin), Fedora JLS (Oritse), Merry Christmas JLS (JB), and the One Who Actually Sang And Danced And Did Stuff JLS, and it’s no surprise that it’s that JLS that has made it onto the big name reality shows first (no Celebrity Masterchef doesn’t count, and Stepping Out CERTAINLY doesn’t count, why are you even asking?). Like Louise before him, Aston has the minor obstacle in his road to victory of having publicly judged a televised dance competition before, although he has the advantage of said televised dance competition being Sky 1s “Got To Dance” which even fewer people watched than So You Think You Can Dance. Yes, that is possible. They invented numbers that low, I think it was the Persians who did it. Anyway, depending on your perspective, Aston is either a massive ringer, or it’s all hippity hop and it doesn’t count. Get ready to hash it out in the comment forums of the Internet for the next four months and a bit!
Brian Conley : Some of you may be confused by this, as it feels like Brian Conley has been part of this cast longer than anyone else already. In my head it feels like we’ve known Brian Conley has been on for even longer than we’ve known who Nadiya Bychkova is. This is because, as he is wont to do, Dan Wootton leaked all over Lorraine Kelly, and so we’ve all had to sit here for the last week pretending it didn’t happen. And now we find out he’s on 5 seconds before Bruce died, so it’s even more of an anti-climax. Anyway, Brian Conley was the Jim Davidson of the 90s, except with the racism dialled back a bit, playing numerous comedy characters on ITV, all of whom have devolved in the cultural memory into one soggy half formed mush screeching “IT’S AAAA PAPPPPPETTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!” nonstop for a decade. Fortunately for my eardrums and sanity Brian Conley buggered off from television to the wilds of regional musical theatre as soon as the Millennium hit, except for periodic appearances in things like a crap Marple and “The Life And Times Of Vivienne Vyle” (ooft). Out there he has starred in Oliver!, Barnum, Hairspray, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Music Man, played Buttons in panto 15 (!) times, and also starred in a touring version of a Neil Diamond musical directed and choreographed by one Craig Revel Horwood (*wink wink*). Anyway, let’s hope his time in the wilderness has made him more bearable I bloody hope so.
Jonnie Peacock : So, more ground broken with our final male contestant – Jonnnie is officially the first Paralympian to ever compete on Strictly (although not, despite the banner headline, the first contestant with a disability) (I know, what fun, let’s all sit and debate exactly what “disability” means I can’t imagine a better use of time). For those not caught up in Paralymics fever, Jonnie’s particular event is the 100m sprint, his particular disability is that he has a prosthetic right leg due to a bout of meningitis when he was 5, his particular level of success is two gold medals, in London and Brazil, and his particular level of sexy fit hotness is “quite very”. There is already an established record of contestants with protheses doing well in the franchise (Cassidy winning The People’s Strictly, and Amy Purdy and Noah Galloway both reaching the final of Dancing With The Stars) (no Heather Mills didn’t do terribly well but she’s HEATHER MILLS) so hopefully they don’t make too big a deal of how much he has to overcome, whilst at the same time respecting he has a higher hill to climb than, say, Aston Merrygold. Also if he and Davood could do some sort of shirtless rumbathon for bonus points that’d be grand, thanks.