Thursday, 23 August 2018

The Surprise Class of 2018

It feels like 2018 has flown by, and all of a sudden Strictly contestants are popping up all over the place! By which I mean on carefully selected media outlets, but despite the lack of rumours in the build-up, we've had a very interesting crop emerge this year. Sure there are the typical popstars, sportsmen and newsreasders, but also some real left-field signings that mean this series is sure to hold some real surprises. Onwards!
Katie Piper
Exhibit A, there was no rumour around Katie and I don't think I'd ever seen suggestions she'd like to do the show, so she made the first announcement all the more exciting. Like a fair few contestants this year, her potential dancing ability is more of an unknown quantity, but whilst she might lack a typical 'performance' background she's incredibly likeable and used to being in front of a camera. Hoping she gets a pro that she really clicks with and can bring out the best in her. I'm thinking Pasha.

Faye from Steps
Yes, that is her official name, and she is such a classic Strictly contestant I'm surprised it's taken this long. Yes, yes, Steps did dancing, but they were hardly the Royal Academy and did moves specifically designed for small children and drunk people to copy at parties. Her time in musical theatre since seems like more relevant experience.

Danny John-Jules
I made an Cat-like squeal when this surprise announcement was made, it might seem random but it makes total sense. He's known to various generations from Red Dwarf, Maid Marian and her Merry Men, The Story Makers, and is current and mainstream BBC with Death in Paradise. He's also hilarious and can clearly move, the fact that he's one of the older contestants will probably be quickly forgotten. I cannot wait until they let him loose on the dancefloor.

Joe Sugg
Ah, the most controversial signing of the series, from some people's reaction you'd think they'd signed a Russian Eurovision entry. All I'll say is that every year a sportsman who's been retired for years is signed and I don't throw a tantrum that I don't know who he is. Back to Mr Sugg, I'm not sure he completely understands what he's let himself in for, and is going to be heavily reliant on his female pro to guide him through this weird and sparkly world. Put in some hard work, and the British public will love it.

Vick Hope
This was my first real 'who?' of the announcements, but she seems pretty fun and is brimming with enthusiasm. She also has awesome hair. Her wiki page also reveals she began her career as a journalist in Buenos Aries, and I can guarantee that will be flogged to death when the Argentine Tango comes around.

Graeme Swann
So, yeah, retired sportsmen...This is much more in the Classic Strictly Signing space, I wouldn't be surprised if they brought Erin back to partner him. I'm not expecting much from him, but the last cricketer we had on the show was Michael Vaughan who brought us one of the greatest rollercoaster experiences in Strictly history, from the low of the jive of death to the triumph of the Wembley American Smooth. He's also 6ft 1, which means he'll tower over a lot of the female pros.

Dr Ranj Singh
Another classic Strictly signing, in that you always need someone who will get you some free coverage on ITV. I was vaguely aware This Morning had upgraded Dr Chris had upgraded to a younger, sexier model to talk about something other than the menopause, but I didn't know he also did a show on CBeebies on children's health. Someone I work with who has kids claimed it's about "not pooing your pants" but I'm sure there's more to it. I have no idea whether he can dance or not, but more than happy to give him a chance, I smell a J-word...

Stacey Dooley
We're back on the random train (don't confuse it with the porn train), I think there was the odd rumour about Stacey but no one really too it seriously. Another unknown quantity without a performance background, I think confidence could be the key here - although her current Twitter freakouts are totally relatable.

Ashley Roberts
Here is the Official Ringer Target of 2018, because, well, she's been a professional dancer. Can't pass that one off with 'I just sat on a chair', and her dance experience being the justification for her place on the Dancing On Ice judging panel. I'm not about to have kittens over this (pussycat, kittens, see what I did there?) because we're sure to get some fun dances out of her and I'm excited to see who she gets paired with. She also survived The Jump without sustaining serious injury, which is pretty impressive.

Kate Silverton
Are we sure she's not already done this? A Christmas special? Children In Need? Apparently not, although I still can't shake the image of her in a ballgown, so maybe she's just made for it. No discernible dance background, but a lot of sport experience as a youth, I'm expecting some sort of 'jolly hockey sticks' joke somewhere. She seems like a shoo-in for Anton, but maybe they will mix it up this year? 

Seann Walsh
From the totally predictable to the completely random once again, I've never seen a rumour about him, and we've always been pretty light on comics on the show. I haven't the foggiest whether he can dance a step, and again, I think confidence will be the key here, as it feels like he's way out of his comfort zone. Also, will he be having the ceremonial haircut like Jay McGuiness (only to then have two dances where long hair would have worked)?

Lee Ryan
Gotta get your popstars of yore in, and despite Blue being more of the shuffle-about-and-look-moody school of boybands, he has a fair bit of stage school experience from in his youth to fall back on. Or is he our Eastenders contestant this year? Have to economise and all that. At 5 ft 9 he's tall, but not massively so, which leaves the field fairly open for a female pro - who will also have to deal with his rather eccentric streak. You know what I'm talking about.

Lauren Steadman
She's got a lot to live up to after the joy of Jonnie Peacock last year, but always happy to have a Paralympian on board. Not only is she super-fit and used to training (I can't even think about a triathlon without feeling tired), she also confessed to a love of salsa dancing on The One Show - Clover will be watching this with a beady eye!

Charles Venn
Charles or Chucky? He goes by Chucky sometimes and I really want to go for it for the kitsch vibe, this is Strictly after all. He's being pitched as the Casualty/Holby contestant of this series, but I don't watch those and will forever remember him as the Footballers Wives character who went to a team mate's Pride and Prejudice-themed wedding as a slave. That's woke AF. At 6ft, he's one of the taller male contestants this year, but other than that, we'll just have to wait and see.

Susannah Constantine
Can she strike out as one half of a double act? We know the BBC are always desperate for a double act. I'm more interested in whether she can throw off the tyranny of sleeves on the older woman, which I have been railing against since the days of Cherie Lunghi (seriously, there are dusty blog posts about this). Everyone's saying it's a choice between her and Kate for Anton, and she'd totally dig Anton's sense of style, but if this year has already taught us something, it's that you can't predict what's going to happen!