Strictly Come Dancing: Brace Yourselves!

It’s back! The countdown to Christmas begins with the proper return of Strictly Come Dancing (I’m ignoring the pre show the other week when we saw which professional had been landed with which celeb). Even the announcer beforehand seemed to be camping it up for the start of the Strictly season.

Unlike X Factor’s drastic revamp, Strictly has kept things pretty much the same. Bruce’s ‘jokes’ remain as strained and awkward as ever, and his carer, Tess Daly, continues to wear the weirdest of outfits, prompting the weekly, “what has she got on?” from Mrs OMITS. I do like Bruce, though. There’s something comforting about having him still as a regular Saturday night feature on our screens (I know it’s Friday, but you know what I mean). My Mum doesn’t agree. She is visiting for the weekend, and watched it with us. At one point, Bruce quipped “I nearly went off there.” I distinctly heard “I wish you would”, emanating from the aged P.

The judges remain unchanged too, though Craig Revel Horwood has had a new hair cut foregoing the mullety look of last year. Len Goodman’s still a bit grumpy (‘You’re getting on my wick already”, he said to the audience after they booed a negative comment), Shy and retiring Bruno Tonioli needs to work on his confidence but I’m sure will come out of his shell as the series continues, and Alesha Dixon provides a generally supportive and matey flavour to the comments  from someone who’s been there and done it. I like Alesha, but I do hope she manages to sort out her tenses this year -“You was excellent” does tend  to grate a bit after week five.

For the first weekend (half on Friday, and half on Saturday) no one leaves the show, but their points do get carried forward to next week when someone will be kicked off. I know she hasn’t danced yet, but my money’s on Edwina Currie as the first to go. Not sure why, other than I find her irritating. Always have. Mind you not as irritating as Ann Widdecombe last year, and look what happened to her.

One of the strengths of Strictly is, I’ve always thought, Dave Arch and his Orchestra. That band can do anything. The vocalists are consistently amazing, often delivering performances that outshine the originals and add to the sensitivity of the dancing. Amazing stuff.

This year, we do get the option of live commentary from Karen Hardy and a celeb (tonight, Katy Brand) on the red button, but I instantly forgot that, and didn’t avail myself of their services.

Holly Valance (emphasis on the ance) and Artem kick things off with the cha cha cha, and for a first dance, put in a pretty solid performance. Holly said that her experience of cavorting around in pop videos doesn’t make her a dancer, but it obviously gave her a physical confidence that your present correspondent never developed during ‘music and movement’ at school.

Len said, ‘not the best first dance I’ve seen’ (booo), ‘but it was close’ (hurrah!)

Dan Lobb (from Daybreak – I know – I’ve never seen it either)) and Katya Virshilas do the waltz, and to my untrained eyes, seemed to do pretty well. Craig wasn’t pulling any punches though, even for a first night; ‘hideously rigid topline’ and ‘transformations were clunky’ or something.

Next came Lulu and Brendan Cole with a cha cha cha. Hopes had been high for Lulu, who looks in great shape, and is a proper showbiz legend, but who looked devastated to be given Brendan has a partner. Oh dear. It all went very wrong. Len succinctly summed it up; ‘lots of boombangabang, but nothing to shout about.’ Craig was even more focussed in his critique; ‘disaaaaaaaaster’! Alesha was more encouraging, but then she can’t criticise Lulu can she?

Audley Harrison and Natalie Lowe performed a waltz and he was surprisingly light on his feet for such a large chap. Len liked it, though Craig was back in the ‘disaaaaaaster’ zone, moaning about his hands or suchlike. I’d be careful laying into his hands too much, to be honest, in case he gives you a closer look, Craig.

Robbie Savage and Ola Jordan were next.  Hmmmm. I like Ola, and it turns out we share the same birthday, so she gets my vote. The Savage fella, I’m less sure about. To my mind, being known as the dirtiest player in the Premiership is nothing to boast about, especially when one looks like a preening fop, and this bad boy image is going to get rammed down our throats until he’s voted off. They danced to – ahem – ‘Bad Boys’. A bit of strutting and some dodgy pelvic thrusts, and Craig rightly pointed out that it was all about the look rather than the dance.

Anita Dobson & Robin Windsor turned in a very nice waltz. You can tell the performers – they have a distinct advantage over sportsmen and other celebs who don’t have that experience of expressing themselves on stage. The judges loved it.

It was the turn of Russell Grant and Flavia Cacace next. I must confess a bias here as Flavia is my favourite professional and looked stunning.  I wasn’t really looking at Russell Grant, though I hear he did quite well for a ‘comedy’ turn and will probably be very popular. Mrs OMITS queried whether you could see his testicles down the leg of his trouser, but, as I say, I wasn’t looking.

In the round up clips at the end of the show, Holly Valance looked even better than she had first time round. By then we’d realised what everyone else looked like, and she and Anita Dobson were in joint first place, with Lulu, rightly, and unfortunately, languishing at the bottom of the table.

Tonight, the remaining celebs get to Dance. Will the collision of Edwina Currie’s and Nancy Del Olio’s egos cause a rethink of the laws of physics? I can’t wait to find out.

Posted By Our Man In The South

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