The times, they are a changin’. There are lots of new things for Strictly this year – new dancers, a new (ish) Sunday night results show (Tess and Claudia will present, and there’ll be no dance-off – you can see full details here), and the subject of this post – the grand launch show, where the celebs met their pro partners for the first time.
The celebrity lineup was announced last Wednesday, although a lot of the names had already been bandied about in the media for a while so it was no shock to see pictures of Ann Widdicombe looking uncomfortable in a gold satin bolero. I do have a few issues with the publicity pictures:
Tina O’Brien is 27. You wouldn’t know it looking at this picture, you’d think she was at least 10 years older. And what on earth is that on her head?
I’m getting more of a Strictly Come Murdering vibe from this delightful shot of poor Peter Shilton.
Matt Baker demonstrating the ‘creepy mannequin’ look.
HOLY PHOTOSHOP, BATMAN.
So, with plenty of fanfare the first ever LAUNCH SHOW was shown on Saturday. There was a bit of red carpet action at the start, with celebs and dancers arriving at TVC all spangled up. This bit had the whiff of a low rent telly awards show, not, perhaps, what Auntie Beeb had in mind. After the usual Brucie and Tess intro we were treated to a pro dance with the all the professionals clad in varying shades of creosote, making it hard to distinguish costume from skin.
This year’s new male dancers are Artem (“I guess am new Strictly hunk”), Robin (looks like a bouncer), and Jared (is 12).
Scott Maslen, already heartily embracing the Strictly spray tan magic, seems to be billed as the ladies’ favourite. He’s partnered with Natalie, who looked as pleased as someone with no soul can. Ok, that’s probably a bit harsh, but I really didn’t warm to her last year.
I can’t find an awful lot to say about Matt Baker, except that he describes himself as “remarkably cheesy” and will be dancing with Aliona. Peter Shilton has National Footballing Treasure status and can look forward to being dragged around the floor by Erin (who else?) for a few weeks. Poor man.
In Michelle Williams’ VT, although she refers to the dancing experience she gained in Destiny’s Child (“It wasn’t ballroom!”), no mention is made of her stints as Roxie Hart in Chicago in the West End and on Broadway……..She does seem like she could be fun though, with her cry of “bring him to Mama!” while waiting to hear who she would be dancing with (Brendan).
Pamela Stephenson hoped for a partner with a sense of humour and got….James. Ha ha! (or, you know, not). She wrote a piece for the Guardian earlier in the week that gave us all a little TMI on her preparations for the Strictly wardrobe of tight lycra and sequins. Thanks Pamela, but there are some things we’d rather not know.
In the VT for Tina O’Brien Tess proclaimed her to be “one of the sexiest women in the world”. Eh? She *is* a pretty girl,yes, but I wouldn’t put her alongside the likes of Angelina and Beyonce. She’ll be dancing with Jared.
Paul Daniels apparently never listens to music, so it will be interesting to see how Ola copes with him over the next few weeks. I may have to mute the telly every time he’s on as Brucie will no doubt trot out his catchphrases at every opportunity. And make bad magic related puns.
I think the pairing of Goldie with Kristina has promise – I’m sure he’ll be a better mover than Joe Calzaghe or John Sargeant. Ok, ok, I know, that wouldn’t be hard.
Patsy Kensit says she’s doing the show for ‘all the older mums’. I’m sure all the older mums out there are grateful. There’s a lot of focus on her early career in the VT – she describes Mel Gibson as a good kisser rather than a ranty anti-Semitic loonbag, so this bit could have been filmed in 1993. And was it just me or did it look like she was wearing one of those boxing prize belts? Robin will be her dance master. Please know that just typing that made me feel a bit ill.
Kara Tointon took part in the Sport Relief version of the show, and there’s been media speculation that she’ll receive less training than the others to compensate. We are told that she is a ‘soap star turned model’. Heh. She’s the lucky girl to get the ‘new hunk’ Artem.
I’m hoping Jimi Mistry and Flavia will make a good partnership – he’s got rhythm, and visually they’re well matched. Plus I like Flavia and it would be great for her not to be lumbered with a git this year.
Poor Gavin seems very shy. He’s hoping that participating in Strictly will take his mind off his split from Charlotte Church, although I’m sure that the inevitable media speculation about him and dance partner Katya (sporting brunette hair this year) won’t be quite what he had in mind. Or perhaps it is…..(Katya will need to remind him that he has heels, as he spent the whole group dance trotting around on his tippy-toes).
And so to the last 2 celebs awaiting their ‘partner reveal’. Ann Widdicombe (henceforth and forever after to be known as Widdy) is at pains to demonstrate that she knows she’s this year’s pantomime element. Anton’s punishment for last year’s casual racism is, of course, to be partnered with Widdy. She’s not going to stand for any nonsense from him, that’s for sure.
Widdy seems happy though, saying that she’s “always wanted Anton” – Brucie’s attempt to cast this as her ‘fantasy’ is firmly and disapprovingly rebutted. Really Brucie, please shut up.
Felicity Kendal and Vincent are the final couple. By this point it felt that the launch show had been on for 5 hours, so the only note I have is that Felicity promises to show us her dark side. It’s not Macbeth, love. The show finished with the first group dance, which wasn’t a complete disaster, and that’s it for now until the competition starts on Friday 1 October.
I’m not convinced that the launch show was such a great idea, certainly not for an hour. I adore Strictly but as you’ve no doubt gathered I got a little bored toward the end. I’m sad to see some of the old professionals go, especially Lilia, and disappointed that now Ian’s with the show troupe he’ll not get a chance to win. But! I’m still excited about the competition starting, and of course the fact that come 4 October CLAUDIA’S BACK! It Takes Two is *the* best thing about winter 🙂
So, thanks for sticking with me through this long and windy post. I’ll be back here blogging the competition in a few weeks (they’ll be shorter posts, if only for my own sanity). In the meantime, what did you think about the launch show? Who do you think will be first out? Was scrapping the dance-off a good idea? And will Widdy succumb to the lure of the spray tan?