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“Strictly” legends

Posted on November 14, 2011

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russell-front-pageDance Today‘s “Strictly” blogger, Marianka Swain, remembers her favourite “Strictly” partnerships

As promised, I’ve been compiling a list of my all-time “Strictly” legends. Whether good, bad or downright Crazytown, these 20 pairings have, in my opinion, defined the show, and with Russell cementing his place in this illustrious company, now seems like the perfect time to unveil it. So, without further ado, here they are!

1) Jill Halfpenny and Darren Bennett One word: jive 

2) Darren Gough and Lilia Kopylova Blokes can dance. All it takes is a teacher who knows how to get the best out of their student (Aliona: take note)

3) Mark Ramprakash and Karen Hardy Hot, hot, hot. Their salsa and breakthrough Argentine tango are among my favourite dances in “Strictly” history

4) Fiona Phillips and Brendan Cole Well, someone has to be the benchmark of sheer eye-watering awfulness, right?

5) Russell Grant and Flavia Cacace Putting the show in showbusiness – without sacrificing the dancing

6) Colin Jackson and Erin Boag Oh, Colin. If only Dollgate had not befallen you

7) Widdy and Anton Du Beke Flying. Titanic. And, most memorably, perfect panto chemistry with Craig

8) Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole The original “journey”, the original showmance and the original deserving champions

9) Gethin Jones and Camilla Dallerup I still think he was robbed. STILL. Injustice never dies

10) Austin Healey and Erin Boag Also robbed! Well, based on earlier performances at any rate – see topless paso

11) Alesha Dixon and Matthew Cutler Ah, those halcyon days when Alesha was a lovable contestant with a Muttley laugh…before she started grappling with big words and clunking clichés on the judging panel

12) Cherie Lunghi and James Jordan The welcome surprise of Series 6, flying the flag for mature women, especially in that exquisite rumba, and – finally! – putting James in his place

13) Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev Yes, she was good from the start, but her blossoming relationship with her partner (nudge, nudge) made this a beautiful “J word” to watch

14) Christopher Parker and Hanna Karttunen The original People’s Choice contestant set up the all-important dynamic of public vs judges (though unfortunately scared off Hanna for good)

15) Rachael Stevens and Vincent Simone Yes, she wasn’t exactly Miss Personality, but there’s no arguing with her sensational ability 

16) John Sergeant and Kristina Rihanoff Would he really have won? We’ll never know. But we’ll always have the paso

17) Ricky Whittle/Scott Maslen and Natalie Lowe Two outstanding male celebs, both within agonising touching distance of the glitterball. Nat’s time will come…

18) Denise Lewis/Zoe Ball and Ian Waite Sadly, Ian’s probably won’t, though he did brilliantly with these two Amazonians

19) Pamela Stevens and James Jordan Producing one of my all-time favourite Claudia moments – howling with laughter over the “almost fall”

20) Chris Hollins and Ola Jordan Worthy winners? Debatable. But boy could they swim on dry land

Shortlisted: Emma Bunton and Darren Bennett, Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna, Julian Clary and Erin Boag, Gavin Henson and Katya Virshilas, Tom Chambers and Camilla Dallerup, Matt diAngelo and Flavia Cacace, Kelly Brook (what might have been?) and Brendan Cole

Do you agree with my choices? Who else would you like to see immortalised? Do add your suggestions in the comments below!

Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Today she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success. Her debut novel, The Girl Before You, was published last year in paperback, ebook and audiobook.

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