Thursday, 30 September 2010

The Winning Formula - revisited!

As we rub our hands together with glee waiting for the new spangle-tastic series of SCD to beging tomorrow I thought it was time to revisit last year's Winning Formula post. The formula stood up to some scrutiny last year, even if our poll didn't - I am looking at all you people who thought Joe Calzaghe was going to win! This year's poll suggests Jimi Mistry or Matt Baker might just grab that glitterball, but we know better when it comes to this perfectly calculated set of variables...

So who will win this year...let us find out!

1) Get the party started
This was one of the most fascinating and steadfast rules of SCD, dance first in the opening show and you will make it to the final. Unfortunately last year managed to ruin that! Whilst the blame cannot be entirely placed on Rav Wilding or Natalie Cassidy it has made me a bit grumpy for the rest of the year. The dance first formula even worked on Let's Dance for Comic Relief BOTH years! So whoever dances first this year, I have my eye on you...

2) Quit your day job
Another variable that needs a bit of fine shall now be known as 'Quit your day job, unless you are a BBC newsreader'. Since Natasha and Chris are the only two to win the show whilst doing a day job there must be something super-steely and hardworking about those who hang out in the BBC newsroom. Now Scott Malsen, you may think auntie beeb is doing you a favour shifting your filming around, but I think Jack Branning needs to take a few weeks off from Albert Square if you're gonna go all the way!

3) Blondes don't have more fun
Yet again last year the blonde was pipped to the post, hot favourite and blonde Ali Bastion does not make the final *tear*sob*sigh*, in fact she came third, as did Emma Bunton and Zoe Ball. Spooky? No, it's spangly scientific fact. Plus one of our favourite blonde pro dancers Katya has gone to brunette this year, she knows what she's doing! As for this year's people, Tina, Felicity, Pamela and Patsy had better consider a trip to the hairdressers before the semi-finals!

4) Latin Fever
Our darling Ola kept up the tradition of latin experts winning the show last year, so what chance do Anton, Erin and Natalie stand? Well, as Clover would say, Erin and Natalie will be trapped in a Bond Girl-style battle of wills all series so that will be quite distracting for them. Anton on the other hand...well if anyone wants to see Ann Widdecombe do the Argentine Tango and a spectacular showdance get voting tomorrow night!

5) Embrace the sparkle!
Ah my favourite of all variables, getting down to some serious sparkle! As a celeb you are used to a glamorous lifestyle but when it comes to SCD you aint seen nothing yet. Lock yourself in the fake tan booth, wear so many crystals you're too heavy to walk and dance down the street because you've got to give it your all! Chris had the time of his life last year and emerged the colour of a Christmas satsuma...speaking of satsumas (satsumi?) Gavin Henson is already pretty orange, but also looks quite bewildered so needs to embrace the sparkle. Others like Pamela and Jimi already seem to be totally getting into it, so bring it on!

So with a few tweaks the winning formula now looks like this...

(Try to) dance first - day job (unless BBC news-bod) + brunette x latin pro + sparkle = VICTORY!

See you on the dancefloor...

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Strictly Come... Libraries?

Clare-from-work and I looked on in complete jealousy at Frankie's post about the dresses. I mean, we have the illuminations here but that's nothing compared to Louisa's jive dress, is it, if we're honest? So, in a flurry of sequins and feathers (that we just happened to have lying around, oooh yes) we created our own little Strictly-themed display. And that got us thinking how many Strictly-related books have sprung up over the years. Of course there's the obvious guides and annuals...and Anton's book (aka The Bible)...and forgotten gems such as Darren Gough's Dazzler on the Dancefloor (Have you seen it? It's wicked. Wicked? How old am I? Eight - circa 1993?) Last year saw the release of a Strictly 'Step by Step Dance Class' book in addition to the usual series guide and let-us-not-forget Craig and Len's biographies...

But it's not only books about the show itself- fiction writers are capitalising on the rising popularity of ballroom, latin and other forms of dance. There's The Ballroom Class by Lucy Dillon, which follows the lives of characters who are attending their local ballroom class. Arlene (yes the Arlene) says 'It's for everyone who loves to watch dance, join in a dance and all those whose heart is in dance' Definitely aimed at Strictly superfans then, no?! Next up is Strictly Love by Julia Williams...and the connection is obvious from the title. And perhaps not so explicitly connected, but definitely worth a mention, is Living La Vida Loca by Belinda Jones. Its shocking pink cover and dance-fuelled storyline will appeal to the Strictly Set just as much as the previous two.

So there's a few suggestions for filling up your Strictly Bookshelf...or...if you think about it...all will be available to order from your local library ;-)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A Close Encounter of the Strictly Kind...Part 4!

Here we are again with another of our random SCD-related encounters, can you believe we're up to number four?!

So, the BBC decide to put some dresses on display at BBC TV Centre, I have some time off work, it's a match made in spangly heaven and I go out and take some photos! Be warned it was a sunny day and I was taking them through some glass, so the quality is not the best. But if you're in the area they are totally worth a look at!

Here we start with Aliona's opening number frock from last year, just in case you were wondering it is held together with two bits of sparkly dental floss at the back!
Getting this close to the dresses was a real treat, this is Ali's Viennese Waltz dress, the detailing you can see is gorgeous, I spent ages staring at it!

Next up was Cherie's rumba dress, ooh what a sophisticated treat it was. If you look carefully you can actually see where the leotard bit is that all the costumes are built around. The mesh inset at the side also made remember just how very orange the contestants have to be!

Next I had a right old giggle at Joe Calzaghe's Eye-of-the-Tiger-what-the-bejibbens-is-going-on-here paso outfit! The welsh dragon detailing was great, can't believe someone went to the effort of making all that! I also went to the effort of going inside the studios like a stalker loon to get a photo of the back of the Calzaghe cape for you all. I had to say 'excuse me' in my politest voice to an old man sitting on a chair next to it and everything.

Coming back to some more beautiful frocks, here we have Natalie Cassidy's foxtrot dress. I remember thinking this was lovely at the time, but up close it is gorge-ous. The style makes me think of Erin and the stoning and detailing on it really is a treat. The back is just as good as the front, as with all good ballroom dresses.

On the end of the first half is the joy that is Julian's tour samba costume, complete with sparkly maracas! I saw this on the tour with Clover, we loved it so much at the time and it brought back some funny memories. Too bad there wasn't Lilia's seriously over-the-top outfit in the same colour to go with it, but I think it might have blinded passing pedestrians!

Turning the corner I saw the second half of the costumes and gasped in succession as I looked down the line, at this stage I wasn't too bothered if a security guard came to ask what I was squealing at! First up is both Camilla and Tom's Salsa outfits. If they could get anymore fringing on that dress then I don't think she would have been able to walk.

Next in line *gasp* Zoe's tango dress! This is one of my all-time favourite dresses (more on that later) so this was totally making the trip worthwhile. Zoe has a tiny ribcage by the way. Again get more intricate detailing and it looked pretty heavy.
Hitting me with shocks along the line, we then come to Louisa's jive dress! The jive dress, in all it's lime green spangly glory! *sigh* what happy memories. At this point a random man came by and decided to have a look at the dresses near me, I was tempted to shout "These are historical artifacts to me!" but I thankfully restrained myself.
And THEN came the one and only Ramps' salsa shirt! The shirt that caught on the microphone, but we won't hold that against it. By the looks of it Ramps has very broad shoulders, pwhoar.

Next up in the pleasant surprises is Rachel's' rumba dress, again the detailing in this thing that you might not have noticed on the show is amazing. This was a particularly hard one to get photos of as its so dark but it really is stunning.
And finally, last but certainly not least, we come to Zoe's American Smooth from last year. This really was a surprise for me, because I didn't really remember it but when I saw it I went straight back and spend the rest of the afternoon singling My Girl to myself. It really is gorgeous, like a strictly wedding dress!

That was the whole selection and it was a fun way to spend some time of an afternoon, if you are in the area I would certainly recommend popping by for a gawp. There were lots of other people having a nosy as they walked past, admittedly not taking photos and squealing to themselves but each to their own! Plus if you stick your head around the door and go into the foyer there are some rather amusing cardboard-cut-out surprises!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

La Musica!

Last year we posted suggestions for some of the music we’d like to see used on Strictly Come Dancing. Last year saw some highs (such as the great Sonora Carruseles tracks Acuyeye and Micaela for salsas) and some lows (too many rock/pop ballads for the tangos and pasos) I was considering writing a plea for more authentic latin music to be used for tangos, sambas and salsas, but I realised that would make me sound like a pedant. Generally, they make the mood of the dance stronger – either broodingly passionate for a tango or tropical-coconuts-and-maracas-with-sprinkles for a samba. But sometimes an unexpected arrangement can work remarkably well (Case in point, Darren Bennett’s use of Maneater for a tango). So I won’t rant too much...
Strange and Beautiful – Aqualung- Waltz
I’m still lobbying for this one; I think it would be lovely.
Proud Mary – Tina Turner – Jive
Suggested on Twitter by jitterbug96. It has been used as a pro jive before but it’s a great choice as it’s currently popular due to Glee!
Pack Up –Paloma Faith –Jive or Quickstep
I suggested jive; shortysheila thinks quickstep. Either could work. Nice current song.
Temba Tumba y Timba – Los Van Van; Abre que Voy – Miguel Enriquez; Ay! Ay Amor – David Calzado y Charanga Habanera – salsa
Some nice Cuban salsa or timba tracks. I believe the salsas work so much better with real latin music. Tweet @chrisofthetelly with your salsa music suggestions and he said he’d put the best to the producers.
El Cantante – Hector Lavoe/Marc Anthony; Salsa Dura/Duelo de Bongo –La Excelencia; Correla – Salsa Celtica - Salsa
Some ‘harder’ salsa sounds but still catchy.
The Best Years of Our Lives – Modern Romance – Samba
Suggested by Gin_Girl.
Toxicity –System of a Down – Paso Doble
Frankie’s all time favourite suggestion. Will someone just do it to put her out of her misery?
Uprising – Muse – Paso Doble
Suggested on Twitter by ShellyM1987
Bumpy Ride – Mohombi; Batacuda – Sergio Mendes; Jump in the Line – Harry Belafonte – Samba
Bumpy Ride is bound to be an autumn hit and would make a great samba. So much by Sergio Mendes and similar artists make great sambas...why use a disco track when you can have real atmosphere with something like this, or Aquerela do Brasil...or...? And the Harry Belafonte? For Beetlejuicy novelty value.
La Complainte de la Butte – Rufus Wainwright (from Moulin Rouge); Once Upon a Dream – from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty; Paris – Edith Piaf; What’s New Pussycat? – Tom Jones; My Favourite Things – Big Brovaz – Viennese Waltz
Our Viennese Waltz suggestions from last year.
We Belong Together – Gavin DeGraw – Rumba
Last year’s quickstep suggestions
Tu vuò fà l'americano – Renato Carosone; Why Don’t You Do Right? – Peggy Lee/Imelda May
Both of these tracks have been remixed into dance hits this year. Tu vuo fa...would make a great quickstep. The original Why Don’t You Do Right by Peggy Lee would work as a foxtrot or American Smooth; Imelda May’s version would make a great jive.
More or less anything by The Baseballs – Jive or Rock and Roll
German Rock and Roll cover group. Like the male ‘50s style version of The Puppini Sisters.
Cry Me Out – Pixie Lott – Viennese Waltz
Suggested by SharonFindlay on Twitter.
You Know Me – Robbie Williams – Viennese Waltz
An obvious choice. These 3/4 tracks are pretty hard to come across.
Rock the Casbah – The Clash; Mony Mony – Billy Idol – Cha Cha Cha
Some kitsch rocky cha cha chas.
Blame it on the Girls – Mika – Cha Cha Cha
Frankie’s suggestion. She always thinks it would work well as a group number.
Remedy – Little Boots – Tango
Another suggestion from Ms. Frankie. I think this might have been on our list last year. We like this girl because she’s from Blackpool!
Empire State of Mind- Alicia Keyes – Foxtrot
The stripped down version. Frankie says it so could be jazzed up for an American Smooth though.
It Must Be Love – Madness – American Smooth
Unconventional choice by Frankie for an American Smooth but it is the ultimate choice. The lifts would fit in marvellously.
I Just Haven’t Met You Yet –Michael Buble – Foxtrot/American Smooth
As Frankie says, sooo cheesy but sooo right for Strictly.
Dimelo – Marc Anthony; Corazon Espinado- Santana – Cha Cha Cha
Two Spanish language cha cha tracks that would work well.
Everything I Can’t Have – Robin Thicke; You’re Fine – Alex Wilson – Salsa
Two English language salsa tracks that would be great to hear on Strictly.
More suggestions on last year’s post here
Tweet your suggestions using the tag #strictlysongchoice or comment below!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Strictly Blind Date

Here we go then, everyone is decked out in their finery and Bruce has been brought out of the freezer, it's time to start the show!

I'm starting to think in purple. Just so yer know. Frankie blogged as she went along and my comments come with hindsight from watching the whole show. This really was a cracker. Waay better than a Cream Cracker; definitely a Tuc at least. It feels like the show has gone back to basics - but the basics are better. And that it's the dawn of a new Strictly era.

Group pro number

Perfect starter to the show. I totally didn't recognise Katya with her brown hair, thought it was someone new! Didn't notice the blingy new set until Clover texted me about it, thankfully Brucie pointed it out to us slow old people. Not 100% sure about the brown outfits, but I guess it might mean the grey elephant-skin material has finally run out and there's none left in the bargain bin

As for the contestant walk down, I loved Pamela Stevenson's wobble, feel sorry for whoever gets her when she can't manage some stairs. And can I point out Ann Widdecombe is not an MP anymore so is not the right honourable anything anymore, especially after jigging about on this show! Kara blatantly knows someone in wardrobe, as she has all the best outfits a la Kelly Brook. Loved Goldie's little jig down the stairs, really want him to be the 'gusto' contestant this year!

And it's kick-off time, and ooh look Peter Shilton is in the first batch, how punningly appropriate...

Scott and...NATALIE!

OOH she's got the big guns again this year! Wow, I guess being tall means she gets all the big men and there are no bean-poles like Chris Parker this year.

Natalie aka Arch Nemesis looked muchos pleasos with this partner. They were all standing there and they must have been playing the 'guess by height' name too, so it can't have been too much of a surprise to her. Because really, how Lowe can you go? *groooan*

Matt and...ALIONA!

Hey, this could work. He's a gymnast, she's wee, could be perfect. Matt is proving to be value for money, what with his promise to be incredibly cheesy and taking his partner out mud-samba-ing.

This might give Aliona a bit more of a go than last year. Wondering whether the Bad Girl of Ballroom persona will come fully into fruition this season, or last series' illegal lift was a minor blip. This couple look like what the Bennetts would look like if you stretched them.

Peter and...ERIN!

Wow, it is actually the law that Erin nearly always gets a sprotsman! Feel she's drawn the short straw yet again, more Willie Thorne than Colin Jackson, is that Natalie I can hear cackling away in Tess' Area? (which is a lot bigger this year *snigger*)

Flashback! Flashback! Last time she had a goalie (called Peter) Erin (aka Evil Genius) achieved nothing more than subjecting the general public to a veery odd kind of shoulder shimmy. It was sort of a shimmy. Gone very, very wrong. It's possible we should expect similar things of this partnership. Natalie 1 Erin 0.

The New Boys

I was expecting Let's Hear It For the Boys by Sinitta, but I guess a fab swishy paso will have to do! Strangely I will always think of Letitia Dean and her skirt lifting antics. Loved Aliona's gravity-defying lifts with Jared. And of course this is the only show where you can have fringed hotpants and feathers, yet somehow look a bit classier than usual.

This is it! This is what we have been missing. New boys! Jared is the new Brian. Only he looks about 12 (someone tweeted me saying that was generous - perhaps - but I am a giving person...) The other two were on fire - most particularly the partnership between Robin and Kristina.

Michelle and...BRENDAN!

So happy Brendan has Michelle, he deserves someone good after Jo Wood! Expecting lots of fun, flashy choreogrpahy already. Loving Michelle already, she's playing the loveable Yank to perfection.

Did you see Brendan's face? Couldn't believe his damned good luck. She seems competitive though and it's a trait that doesn't go down too well on female celebs. But the cutesly cuddsly Yank performance may work on us, if it pans out. It's novel if nothing else. Ya'll love her. Maybe.

Pamela and...JAMES!

Hah! Really don't think he deserved this, but then again he did have the good-ish Zoe Lucker last year. Saying that, Pamela has personality and what the Americans amusingly call spunk, so she won't take any hassle from him!

Now I was watching this girl in the group dance...and maybe it was a fluke, but my, she could dance. I totally didn't say that if she turns out to suckbigtime. But her timing seemed spot on and she was enjoying herself immensly. (Gosh was Zoe Lucker only last year? It's all a big GabbyZoePennyLaila mash these days to me.) Thing is, though, she said she wanted someone with a sense of humour. And then got James.

Tina and...JARED!

Wouldn't she have been perfect for Darren Bennett? *sigh* Anyway, Jared is cute and fun so they could be the new Tiny Little Cute Couple.

The new Louisa and Vincent. Love them like cupcakes.

Paul and...OLA!

I weep for the poor woman, I really do. She's bigger than him! Although I don't feel they will be getting as far as lifts. Oh well, at least he was nice to her, she'd better have the patience of a saint.
The girls all lined up, like they were on death row. The camera panned across their faces. "Not me...not me...not me..." And Ola, bless her. She did a good show of being delighted. Of course, she'll possibly have the attitude, OK, so I won last year, fair game. Perhaps he'll make her costume disappear mid-dance. It's not like there'd be much to get rid of anyway. And it would be a nifty diversion from what almost certainly will be awful, awful dancing.
Patsy and...ROBIN!
Erm...don't really know what to make of this really. Saying that, I am wary of the length of her dress, looks like we have a shy one. We'll have her in Kylie hotpants by week 4.

Her biog on the BBC website reads like a Dave Pelzer book, though. She's got a family full of eccentrics and done things you'd never expected, yada doo da - but still looks a million dollars. Kudos.

Goldie and...KRISTINA!

This is one of my favourite pairings already! Please don't let him be a duffer, let Kristina dance with someone good! He should at least know about rhythm and timing and woohoo he's enthusiastic!

I want him to be good but - and I'm hoping my eyes were deceiving me - in the dance at the end, he did look a bit drunkle-at-a-wedding (in the style of Gary THE HORROR! THE HORROR! Rhodes). Another one, like Patsy, who's had a couple of good runs around the mill (where is this mill people talk about?) Might be expected to be found in a sepia picture on the cover of a book entitled something like Why don't you like me? or My tragic upbringing: Read and weep. (Does what it says on the tin.) But no, fab DJ career and now Strictly? That's the spirit!

Pro number

I watched the opening with my mouth wide open, I suspected Flavia and Vincent were robots but I didn't know they could fly! My word, they are working these pros hard already. Love the light up dresses, where can I get one for popping down to the shops in?

Paul Daniels performing a levitation trick on Wee Vincent and Flavia I see. This is the last time I shall be using the prefix 'Wee' to describe Vincent. It hardly seems fair when there's now a toddler on the show.

Kara and...ARTEM

Loved the way Tess mumbled his last name! They looked happy since it was obvious both of them didn't know who the other was.

Frankie, how come you object to women in dresses with two sleeves, yet you claim a dress with one is the 'best costume'? You are a complex creature. And to think, I actually deliberately counted the sleeves on the ladycelebs' dresses tonight for you. 5, if you're wondering.

Jimi and...FLAVIA

Woo, man with rhythm for Flavia! Get to it girl, we will forgive you if you want to use Jai Ho again!

Alarm bells! Alarm bells! Oh no,'s J.I.M.I. not J.I.M.M.Y.; it's 2010, not 2007; and no one looks as though they're about to pop their cuban heels on the dancefloor (though let's try and speak to Ola after half an hour's training...) This guy can mooove. Without seeing any training footage or anything yet, these two are starting off as my favourites. Yes, Flavia will be kicking herself she wasted the Jai Ho! tango on Craig, but there's the whole soundtrack to Bombay Dreams to work through. What? Don't remember it? Fair point.

Gavin and...KATYA

And a nice man for Katya too. Is it me or do the male celebs seem to have a fair bit of potential this year? This is going to sound really silly, but I hadn't realised how Welsh Gavin Henson is!

Gavin is-he-a-bit-fick-or-a-bit-Welsh-or-both Henson looked completely bemused by the whole experience. Like he'd accidentally stumbled upon the set mistaking it for a beer. He thinks people know him for rugby, not for shaving his legs. No, honey, it is for shaving your legs. But roll with it, sunshine.

aka Dads' Army plus 4 wannabes.

Ok this is weird, Darren is not dancing with Lilia. Hold it together, do not cry, gather, gather...Thankfully the number is as camp as Christmas so we should get through all this. Is it just me or is Ballroom Blitz some sort of hybrid of the Time Warp and Walking on Sunshine? Dancing was obviously amazing, but really don't know what to make of it yet.

Yes, Darren without Lilia was...sad. The new boy reminds me of someone. Creepy. I think it's what Michael Buble would look like if he were in A Clockwork Orange.

Ann and...ANTON!

'This is a dancing competition, it is not a world war' little she knows! Well she had to have Anton, didn't she? She does at least have a sense of humour and isn't taking it too seriously, let the panto begin.
Obviously. And he has no right to moan about getting a good partner. And boy, I bet he knows it.

Felicity and...VINCENT!
Ah the Wee People, I didn't know she was so wee. Thankfully she is cloaked in sleeves as BBC regulations state no woman over 45 is allowed to bear her upper arms. She does at least look rather nice.

I love her. She's just beautiful. I'd love her to be elegant but, if I'm honest, I can see a little Cherie pie problem here. She may fuddle through the ballroom but the latin's going to be tricky. She's just too twee and British. Unfortunately, after a week or two, I imagine it will be (Rosemary and) Thyme to go. Ohhh, you love it really.

As with the choice of celebs, I think they've done really well with the pairings this year. Agreed. Nothing looks glaringly awful just yet. Anton hasn't danced yet, The group number didn't hold any surprises, Ann walking, Peter dad dancing, people staring at their feet. Nobody fell over. Shame.

Don't know about you, but I'm excited! MUCHOS!

Erin's Arch Nemesis

In 2008, we exclusively revealed Erin Boag’s secret identity as an evil genius. Single-handedly, she took down Hazel Newberry, Izabella Hannah and Hayley Holt (who?) – all talented ballroom pros, but only managed one season each on Strictly. Armed with nifty gadgets and cunning plans (each more cunning than the last...) Erin has managed to secure her place in the eighth series. That is because she is the undisputed Queen of the Ballroom. Or is she? For last season emerged another feisty ballroom specialist who was not to be taken down easily. Ohhh no. Whilst Erin was playing the ‘I’m having fun with this odd chap with strange expression’ and personality-will-win-the-day-ness (delusion, much?) Natalie was flaunting a hottie. Not only that, but a hottie that could dance. (Quite possibly very little more than a robot really but for argument’s sake...)

Lowe is in another league altogether. She has the power of Newberry, Hannah and Who Holt combined. In 2009, Erin only just managed to fix the final so Lowe didn’t claim the glory That Should Have Been Hers (we believe the plan involved some hobbits and quite a lot of torture, though this assertion is purely conjecture on our part). It was a close shave. And Boag didn’t manage, this time, to stop Lowe returning for another series. Is Erin losing her touch? Or has she found an arch-nemesis?

For yes, for Lowe clearly likes to win; she has a look of steely determination (no, you can’t read her Paso face...) And yes, we can exclusively reveal, that like Erin, our old Antipodean friend, is a genius super-spy a la James Bond only evil and a woman. So not really like him but that’s as far as my spy references go.( No I’ve never seen a James Bond movie. DEAL WITH IT.) Where Erin is Machiavellian, Lowe is a bulldozer, she’s so old-school (some say, trained by Stalin himself) At Erin’s every attempt at thwarting her chances, Lowe and her partner could be heard rallying the cries of POWER THROUGH IT! POWER THROUGH IT! POWER THROUGH IT! (It could be heard clearly as far as Dunstable – and there were even reports of tremors as far north as Watford. ) And that they did. They powered through to the semis. When Erin managed to disguise herself as a photographer and hassle Whittle enough to lead to assault, she’d done enough to set public opinion against him and ruin any chance he had of claiming the glitterball. But it had taken too long this time – Lowe had already made an impression on The General Public™ - some even liked her. And that is where we stand now, my friends: Natalie Lowe, super genius, but more over, survivor. How the battle will play out this series, nobody knows. But Erin Boag is proving herself undefeatable, surviving a mass cull of latin pros as well as dealing with the battle with Lowe. Our money’s on her.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Strictly Season Begins

It's that time of year again, the Strictly Season is upon us! The line up has been revealed so it's time to pick your favourites and dust off those paddles...(or at least those score cards you get free in the programme at the live tour...)

Anne Widdecombe

So the old bird fimally caved then, who's ready for a week one rumba? I also feel the BBC may have made a blunder here with axing both Darren and Matthew, the nice-as-pie-grin-and-bear-it dancers who can be lovely to a duffer and not threaten to break their legs. I feel we shouldn't mock too much, apparently she is a proper fan of the show, but my disappointment at the lack of Lembit Opik will continue for a long time. She is no cheeky girl.

Do I need to start apologising for my earlier comment calling her...shh, I'll spell it out U.G.L.Y. (she ain't got no alibi) ? She's really kind of, yer know, famous and this is quite a rarity in the Strictlyverse of late. So oil painting or non, she's a catch as far as I'm concerned. Mwah.

Michelle Williams

From one end of the scale to the other! She's like from America and everything, the show will be as excited as when the GIs came over during the War and start asking her for nylons or something. She's obviously not going to be completely inept, but she'll have to make sure she's endearing or no one is going to warm to her. Speaking of warm, why didn't she go on DWTS and spend her winter in sunny LA rather than braving cold, frosty London?!

Also known as the-one-what's-not-Beyonce. Is she famous enough for DWTS? I agree with Frankie that perhaps she may find it tricky to win over us sceptical (aka cold-hearted, miserable, cynical) Brits. Having said that, I should imagine she's a decent dancer anyway so the judges won't let her go too soon. Give her to Anton, though, and she's already screwed.

Tina O'Brien

The first of our soap starlets, there's always got to be a few, but it has been quite a while since she left the show. No panto bookings this year then? Not sure what to make of this one, she could be D-U-double-L or cute and relateable.

Meh. Kinda. At least I didn't have to Google her.

Scott Malsen

Over on 'the other side' we have an current member of the Eastenders cast, wow, is Jack Branning going to have a mystery holiday or spell 'inside' in a few weeks? This is the mum's favourite to me this year; quite sexy but also a normal bloke. For all we know he could go far in a Darren Gough/Matt Dawson type way.

OK, OK, so I did have to Google him. And now I've forgotten again so I'm actually multitasking and ReGoogling right. at. this. precise. moment. (BRB) Ohhhh, he was/is in The Bill. Or was/is in Eastenders. Or both? Ach well, I means, we needs these types so I'm OK with it. Frankie's right, the mams will like him.

Kara Tointon

Didn't we have this as a massive rumour last year? Ah Strictly deja-vu, gotta love it. I feel she beats Tina in the soap hottie stakes, plus she has always been a bit perma-tanned so it seems meant to be.

Will the papers go la crazy on her due to PREVIOUS BALLROOM/LATIN EXPERIENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ? I think I'll let her off. One samba (was it a samba?) on Sports Relief does not constitute enough to warrant a riot (though, like The Kaiser Chiefs, I do predict one...) However, we do already kinda know she's kinda good. So she could be high on the bookies' list of faves. Meh.

Gavin Henson

And speaking of perma-tanned...we have an orange sportsman, this man was made for Strictly! He's 28, which is practially a sequinned spring chicken considering the drought of men under 30 in the last few series, so hopefully that will bring the teenage girls in. When I saw this I thought 'oooh a sportsman I've heard of!' but then realised it's just the Charolotte Church connection, we shall see where the loyalties of Wales lie. Oh it would have been so much fun if they'd both gone on....

Poor guy, yes, definitely more famous for his wife than his sport. But then, woo, we've heard of him and... he's ...wait-for-it NOT OLD ! Double whammy. I would love for him to embrace the whole sequinned and Swarovki-ed experience and he may well just do that. Famously, erm, vain...costumes a la Julian Clary would be a treat. Though a tad unlikely.

Peter Shilton

Used to play in goal for England apparently, I did vaguely remember the name from somewhere. I'm trying to think of a cheesy football-related joke Brucie-style, but I'll leave that to the old pro himself.

Who? Oh yeah, football. But does fall under the category from earlier seasons I do so so love: highlyrespectedinchosencareer, which is the ideal prerequisite for the partakence in Strictly. And I do so love a sportsman to do well. It's the only way I remember who they are.

Matt Baker

I know I'll be beaten with glittering sticks if I say it's Gethin Jones all over again, but it is the obvious comparison. With his gymnastics background I'm hoping he gets a teeny weeny little partner so they can do some crazy moves. With sticky back plastic.

Someone's been doing her research. Gymnastics? Nice one. I want to see the splits. And I ain't going home until he does 'em.

Felicity Kendall

Speaking of deja-vu, anyone else having Cheri Lunghi flashbacks? Might as well just put her with James Jordan and be done with it. And I will bet my prized silver sparkly shoes that she only wears dresses with long sleeves for the enitre time she is on the show. Be prepared for my 'sleeeeeeeves?!' ranting once more.

She's twee. I loooove her. And she's not Cheri Lunghi. She's better than Cheri Lunghi for the very reason that I didn't have to Google her. So ner. And she might have good upper arms, Frankie; she might have the upper arms of Jennifer Aniston...yoooou don't know.


I thought this was a joke, I really did. But oh god I'm happy about it now! A totally random signing that could give us some real fun this series, do we think he knows what he is letting himself in for? The BBC love him since they discovered he could put on a suit and wave around to fancy music, maybe they think that will translate well here!

Could be a diamond in the rough, here. I mean, he's a DJ, recording artist what'avya, he's bound to have a little musicality, (pleeeease). If I were his dance partner though, I'd be scared of being blinded by his teeth. Erin may use them to transmit gamma rays. His actual name is Clifford.

Jimi Mistry

We have seen him dance in The Guru. Can Bollywood transform itself into Ballroom? He seems like a tall sort of man. I'm not sure who the tall girls are these days so who knows who he'll get...

He might have been in proper movies, like, but he's still the doctor out of 'Enders isn't he really? Wonder if he'll bring a little (East is) Eastern Promise to his performance (Ohh, I just couldn't help myself...)

Paul Daniels

And just when you thought it couldn't get weirder, but at least it's not Russell Grant! Did anyone even hear this as a rumour? Did the BBC just have him in the back of a cupboard somewhere? He is only 5'4 after all, maybe he was under a desk. Oh yeah and he's 72, that's 10 years older than Widdecombe! Ageism? Methinks you doth protest too much BBC!

72! And weird! Nice one. Kind of reminds me of Saturday night TV as a kid. All in all, I'm just thanking my lucky stars (perhaps Monsieur Grant had something to do with it?) that Debbie McGee is not involved.

Pamela Stephenson

Oh to be someone's wife, then you get to go on TV. I was rather surprised by this, but not in an 'oooh I'm excited' way, just in a 'huh?' way. I guess she can psycho-analyse all the contestants and maybe even suss out that Evil Genius Erin.

How IS Erin still on the show? I mean, Karen gone, Camilla gone, Lilia gone...yada yada yooo. You know, good on her an' all but it is in-ex-plic-able. But back to the point. Yes, does this mean that we get Billy Connolly in the audience? And if that is the case, does it mean he will dye his beard pink for the occasion?

Patsy Kensit

I don't know what happened, but her name wasn't in the press release I saw. But I saw a photo of her in a sparkly frock so she's either in it or gone totally insane!

Perhaps she was gate-crashing. Perhaps she just likes turning up places in fancy frocks. Perhaps she sneaks pictures of herself into random stacks of photos. Um, I-thinks-probably the most likely explanation is that she's our number 14. Well, she's just on the right side of celeb.

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This is a good. line. up, people. Every single one of these people is, as I mentioned earlier, highlyrespectedinchosencareer (going all Germanic with me compounds today...) We have no squillions of Hollyoaks actors or owt like that. This is a classy set of people, if not individually, then certainly as a group. This is back to the old days when the celebs actually were more famous than the pros. When we didn't really know who Karen Hardy was, what Brendan likes for breakfast and the name of Darren's auntie's pet giraffe. Perhaps this is just what we need.