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Strictly speaking

Posted on September 12, 2011


Dum-da-dum-dum-dum-da-da… Oh yes! It’s time! After a long, cold, sequin-less eight months, “Strictly Come Dancing” is finally back on our screens, and other than Brucie becoming “Sir”, it was business as usual in Saturday’s launch show. Bruno made salacious suggestions, “dahling” Craig prepared his putdowns, Len opened up his box of Carry On metaphors and Alesha… stated the obvious. And had great hair.

The high (and low) lights included:

  • Brucie’s usual cracker jokes, “dancing” and chat-up attempts (Holly Valance definitely edged away in fear)
  • Tess’s on/off relationship with fashion – this week, more “off” with her yellow-submarine jumpsuit and occasional HD-enhanced side boob
  • Hello, Pasha! The tasty Siberian pro is a vast improvement on last year’s miniature High School Musical milquetoast. (Watch Pasha in action on the US “So You Think You Can Dance” – I’d recommend his audition cha cha cha and Argentine tango)
  • Fantastic dancing – welcome back, pros, and thanks for making it props week with your canes and Vegas feathers – and gloriously god-awful dancing – ah, the bumper-cars group number; its drunken-wedding mayhem has become a fine tradition
  • Just when you thought it couldn’t get any camper, here’s Dolly Parton, wearing an astonishing amount of fringe even for this stage! And a curiously small hat. Or perhaps she just has really big hair. Disappointed not to see a cowboy-styled accompanying pro dance

But of course, the main event was the pairings – and there were a lorra lorra surprises in the “Blind Date” segment. Anyone else think not putting Nancy Dell’Olio and Vincent together was a wasted opportunity for a subtitled Italian diva-off? How hilarious was Artem’s mega-relieved reaction when he escaped Edwina Currie? (Note: poker is not your game.) And just why were Lulu and Brendan so horrified to get one another? I can’t wait to find out. Here’s a quick rundown of this year’s “Strictly” couples, from best to worst.

WHO’S HOT (“Strictly sensational” on the sequinometer)

strictly_sensationalweb-chelsee_and_pashaChelsee Healey and Pasha
He’s new and fit. She’s single and ready to mingle. Wow, I wonder where the “Strictly” romance story is coming from this year?

strictly_sensationalweb-holly_and_artemHolly Valance and Artem
Rivalling them is another hot-hot combo – it’s a “Strictly” sex-appeal face-off! Take that, “X Factor”. (Kara – keep an iron grip on your man. Holly’s after that FHM No 1 sexy lady spot…)

strictly_sensationalweb-harry_and_alionaHarry Judd and Aliona
Just what did Aliona do to land a great celeb two years running? Let’s hope she doesn’t squander him like Matt Baker (*cough* Giant swing...  “Spinning around” *cough*)

strictly_sensationalweb-jason_and_kristinaJason Donovan and Kristina
He may be a lovable 1980s entertainer (according to the VT), but he has a steely glint in his eye that says: “I will fight to the death for this.” Kristina will approve

strictly_sensationalweb-lulu_and_brendanLulu and Brendan
Two words: expect fireworks

WHO’S TEPID (“Simply so so” on the sequinometer)

simply_so_soweb-russell_and_flaviaRussell Grant and Flavia 
First impression: Oh, poor Flavia. The girl cannot catch a break. But Russell was the astonishing star of the celeb group “dance”, with bags of audience-pleasing potential. Who wants to see him make an airborne Widdy entrance? I know I do! (Sidenote: is astrology something we actually take seriously now?)


simply_so_soweb-audley_and_natalieAudley Harrison and Natalie
Could go either way with the sporting giant – Darren Gough or Joe Calzaghe. His first Latin dance will reveal all…

simply_so_soweb-alex_and_jamesAlex Jones and James
Can she best Matt Baker in their “friendly” “rivalry”? My gymnastics checklist is at the ready

simply_so_soweb-robbie_and_olaRobbie Savage and Ola
Ken and Barbie look SO PRETTY together, but may be more dumb blonde than blonde bombshell

simply_so_soweb-nancy_and_antonNancy Dell’Olio and Anton
Wow. Anton’s golf games with the BBC controller are really paying off. Or perhaps not. If he lets her down, Nancy will likely kill him with her shoe

WHO’S NOT (“Struggles to sparkle” on the sequinometer)

struggles_sparkleweb-rory-and-erinRory Bremner and Erin
Can Rory do an impression of a dancer? Hey! That’s hilarious! Because he DOES IMPRESSIONS. Is that the last impressions pun we’ll hear? Sadly not

struggles_sparkleweb-anita_and_robinAnita Dobson and Robin
Robin seemed genuinely thrilled with his partner, so the soap queen may have some tricks up her sequinned sleeve (other than full access to the Queen back catalogue)


struggles_sparkleweb-dan_and_katyaDan Lobb and Katya
Will he break the Garraway curse? Our survey says: hmmm

struggles_sparkleweb-edwina_and_vincentEdwina Currie and Vincent
Obvious cannon fodder. Ah, poor Vincenzo. Is someone out to get the Argentine tango dancers?

Who are your hot picks for this year? And who are you most excited about seeing in action? Share your views below. Join me again to dissect the first competitive dances of Series 9 after the Week 1 “Strictly” fest on September 30 and October 1. In the meantime…keep dancing!

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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