Posted on September 7, 2015
After seemingly decades of celebrity reveals on every BBC outlet known to man (“Now the ident hippos will announce ‘Peter Andre’ via synchronised swimming!”), Strictly has finally begun in earnest and the pairings unveiled to an eager nation. Well, ish. To address the elephantine crystal ball in the room: this wasn’t so much of a reveal as a confirmation of the Mirror’s spoilerific “astrologer” “predictions” (truly, those are the hardest-working air quotes in history). I’ve consulted my trusty psychic hole punch and can predict Pulitzers for all involved.
Waltzing into Series 13, it’s hardly surprising that contestant narratives are becoming eerily familiar, but this year’s crop – or at least the carefully calibrated “J word” intro summaries – seem particularly haunted by past celebrities. So, look out for sparkly new segment Ghostly sightings. And, of course, please welcome back…
Tess’s dress: impressed or depressed?
“You SHALL go to the ball! In a bedazzled blue duvet cover!” Honorable mention: Claud’s combo of beach wave hair and armoured boob tube. Should you run into trouble while clubbing in Newquay.
Other highs and lows:
And now let’s meet the class of 2015…
Vital stats Who knew about the Calypso Twins? And has anyone else been watching this on a disbelieving loop for 24 hours? Get out on the streets! Oh yes – also cooking. Ghostly sighting: will he sink to Gary Rhodes or Gregg Wallace levels? The hole punch remains silent.
Partner Alas, poor ringer-less Natalie.
Most likely to… Win coded praise for “natural rhythm”; wear even more shirts Maria Von Trapp fashioned out of Liberace’s shower curtains.
Vital stats Runner/aspiring stripper; about as attention-averse as Katie Hopkins; personality already equivalent to drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth. Ghostly sighting: similarly stag do-minded Gavin Henson.
Partner Ola, immediately upended by Iwan, leaving her in one of her “tasteful” calendar states of undress. Bodes well.
Most likely to… Sport matching thongs by Week 3.
Vital stats The one who made no impression in that boyband you’ve already forgotten. What a booking! Sports either a marvellous man bun or Mick Hucknall wig; so cripplingly shy it seems unlikely he can even leave the house, let alone participate in any form of public entertainment. What a booking!
Partner Aliona, who’s been sporting her “Another geriatric no-hoper! I’M THRILLED!” sarky smile for so long, she’s forgotten how to express human joy.
Most likely to… Spend a morning with an acting coach learning how to embody a three-legged rabbit trapped in a box.
Vital stats Might there be some sort of pun involving his election coverage swingometer and a dance style? MIGHT THERE? Family prop points for swiftly referenced daughters; already shipping him and his sparkly top hat.
Partner Karen. The Strictly gods have not forgotten Mark Wright. Their judgement is swift and merciless.
Most likely to… Make so many bad jokes that even Tess starts to get antsy.
Vital stats Let the Ringer Race 2015 commence! Contender No.1: the Call the Midwife star owning her Sylvia Young heritage by mentioning a childhood bedroom plastered with Darcey posters. Take that, Week 7 Daily Mail “SHE’S A FRAUD!” scoop. Ghostly sightings: ye olde ringers, still haunted by that shock exit.
Partner Aljaž, aiming for his second trophy in three years. (A reminder: Anton has been on the show for 300 years.)
Most likely to… Chuck Darcey-baiting ballet moves into everything on their way to the final.
Vital stats “Most people know me from my song ‘Superstar’.” Keep telling yourself that, love. Ringer Contender No.2; Family prop points for handily photogenic daughters; has never had an unexpressed thought. Ghostly sightings: similarly gregarious washed-up pop star Alesha and bemused Matthew Cutler.
Partner Tristan, who didn’t manage to get in a single word. And never will again.
Most likely to… Lip sync while dancing (some habits are hard to break); make it to the final two.
Georgia May Foote
Vital stats Couldn’t pick her out of a soapy line-up? No matter: she’s already dished up her J word in handy bite-size pieces. She’s the youngest (YOUNGEST) and people see her as a girl (YOUNGEST) but she wants to be thought of as a woman (YOUNGEST). Also Northern, in case that garners the odd vote. Ringer Contender No.3; Ghostly sightings: major Vincent and Louisa Lytton vibes.
Partner Giovanni (YOUNGEST), this year’s recipient of the Bruce Forsyth Memorial Comedy Foreigner Prize.
Most likely to… Start strong and face a shock dance-off mid-series.
Vital stats Yes, she’s a sportsperson and sportspeople are competitive and of course she loves being the best, but not as much as HAVING FUN! She’s totally chill, guys! Life of the party! I mean, not the kind of party where people can ignore drinks coasters or play silly games without a clear winner, but still… Rebranding! Woo! Ghostly sighting: hello, Gabby Logan 2.0.
Partner Reformed uber-competitive Brendan. Watch him backslide at double speed.
Most likely to… Inspire a thousand think pieces about double standards for overtly competitive men and women.
Vital stats Injured his shoulder, so naturally a strenuous televised dance competition was what the doctor ordered. And by “doctor” I mean “agent” and by “ordered” I mean “waved cheque around madly while mentally upping the fee for future metrosexual modelling gigs”. Ghostly sighting: let us take a moment to remember the cautionary tale of Joe Calzaghe.
Partner “Hi, Oti, welcome to the show. Have a one-armed boxer!”
Most likely to… Mention the injury regularly en route to a respectable top half finish.
Vital stats The size of Daniel’s fanbase cannot be overstated. You are never more than six feet from a Daniel devotee. Or is that rats? Other blessings include : ringer-lite dance experience; Irish vote; Catholic vote; granny vote; smile and hair both remain unmoving in a stiff breeze; dead behind the eyes like a shark.
Partner Kristina, getting a welcome tabloid breather.
Most likely to… Extend the running time of each show by about 20 minutes while royally waving to his fans.
Vital stats Reality TV in human form. Family prop points instantly for cute kids; quick flash of the “Mysterious Girl” abs; gives Mr Vine a run for his money in the terrible jokes department. Also the early favourite and Ringer Contender No.4.
Partner Janette. But he wanted Anton! Not this year, mate. (For my thoughts on Strictly same-sex pairings, see our October issue.)
Most likely to… Earn more Family prop points than the rest of the cast combined; reach the final two.
Vital stats Just days ago, Anita was some unfortunate exclaiming over cow dung on Countryfile. Now, she is the voice of a nation. “I’m not sure how he’s going to teach me to dance, because I can’t actually look at his face,” she sensibly explained when told that smouldering hunk of Gleb would be partnering her. Ghostly sightings: designated tomboys like Caroline Flack. (By “tomboy”, we mean “Doesn’t yet have their own line of organic lip gloss”.)
Partner Aforementioned hunk of burning Gleb.
Most likely to… Be this year’s Jeremy Corbyn AKA surprise package.
Vital stats Welcome back, hoary “The one part I’m scared of playing IS MYSELF” nervous soap actress storyline. Ghostly sightings: Patsy Kensit et al. Ringer in theory with Sylvia Young on the CV; gets in the demanding work schedule excuse early; exhibits the jittery energy of one mentally counting her remaining diazepam pills.
Partner Kevin, who is apparently her parents’ favourite. Just what every bloke wants to hear. “He’s never been in a dance-off!” points out Claud. Kellie openly weeps.
Most likely to… Provide a solid couple of episodes for Strictly’s more sadistic viewers. (Hi!)
Vital stats The doyen of the Proms is clearly a cuts-deflecting fembot developed in a BBC lab to hit David Cameron’s naughty-but-nice, oh-so-middle-class sweet spot. Family prop points for marginally embarrassed but jolly supportive daughters, one sporting an on-trend circle scarf. YOUR MOVE, DAVE.
Partner Anton, still in the throes of a wild dancegasm since this one can actually count!
Most likely to… Hear the words “class” and “lady” regularly; be felled by Latin. See also: Ghostly sighting Cherie Lunghi.
Vital stats Forecast: enough terrible weather jokes to make the Met Office think they’re better off out of it. If things get desperate (AKA Week 1), we may also get a visit from the Ghosts of BBC Breakfast Champions Past, much as we’d all like to pretend Chris Hollins never happened.
Partner Last year’s winner Pasha. His lips say “Fantastic!”, his eyes say “Taxi!”
Most likely to… Draw Craig’s 3 paddle and the series’ first “disaaaaahster”.
This is, of course, the highlight of the series, though there’s been disappointingly little carnage over the past couple of years. Instead, it’s become a good barometer of performance (I mean, not tabloid “astrologer” good, but for us mere mortals…). To that end:
What do you think? Are you happy with the pairings? Who’s your pick for the trophy? And what dances and themes do you want – or not want – to see this year? Leave your thoughts below or contact me on Twitter: @mkmswain
I shall return when the competition kicks off on September 25. In the meantime…keep dancing!