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Strictly Come Dancing: Runners and riders 2011

The new series hasn’t kicked off properly yet, that doesn’t happen for another three weeks, but last night everyone showed up, booted, suited, sequined and spray-tanned, for the ‘mix n match’ celebrities to pro-dancer event. Reassuringly, very little has changed since the end of the last series, which was won by Kara Tointon and Artem ‘the chest’ Chigvintsev. Bruce Forsyth has been knighted in the meantime of course, but nothing about that man has really changed for forty years, it’s just the women he twirls who get replaced with a younger model. Tess Daly remains his Strictly Anthea Redfern, and last night was given a twirl in a slightly alarming canary yellow jumpsuit. But, hey, this is not a show for those who enjoy the understated. The judges looked exactly the same, in a good way, other than Alesha’s most peculiar pony tail (and the award for best description goes to Velocity Girl’s mother on Twitter who said she looked like: “a cheap Barbie doll rip-off where they can’t get the hair right”).

And on that note, of Alesha I mean, I’ve been pondering the still slightly radioactive issue of the removal of Arlene Philips as a Strictly judge. I support older women on telly to the hilt. Always loved Moira Stewart, feel Mary Berry kicks culinary butt as a judge on the Great British Bake Off  (as does Prue Leith on Great British Menu). But the problem with Arlene was that I didn’t really like her judging style, and not because of her age. She’s gorgeous of course, and she rocks as a Hot Gossip choreography legend, but when she was commenting on performances in Strictly, I found her over-worked, tortured ‘puns’ to be excruciating to listen to. Not worse than the pantomime donkey, Bruno Tonioli of course. So I’m sorry everyone. I like Alesha and I don’t really miss Arlene.

My favourites are the acerbic tongued Craig Revel Horwood and the down to earth, reassuring hand-on-the tiller head judge Len Goodman. And I think all four of them work well together.

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