The rebooted Daleks look interesting.
It’s back. It may be a little smaller than usual but it promises to be as glitzy and glamourous as ever, and gets off to a very strong with Oti just contempo-wafting about on a beach during sunset?
I’m glad someone is thriving during this cursed year.
The routine quickly dissolves from the delicate dusk-light swishing to an up-tempo Latin number to Free by Ultra Naté in what is a complete failure to read the room.
Truly kicking the show off though are Claudia and Tess who now have to stand 2 metres apart at all times
meaning the gulf between their comedy stylings is just *that much* bigger. I wonder if this means no skits this year? Or more skits because of the fewer dancers?
They welcome the judges who burst onto the screen like a box of Quality Streets, you’ve got The Big Purple One
The Toffee Penny:
The Caramel Barrel?
I dunno, I needed the simile to work, because like the Quality Streets we are down a member because Bruno is trapped the The USA (see, it can always be worse.) due to travel restrictions AND NOT AT ALL BECAUSE THE DANCING WITH THE STARS PAYCHECK IS BIGGER. He will be checking in during The Results Show apparently but he’ll be missed
Our celebs enter the show and truly doing the Lord’s work is Clara Amfo looking phenomenal in gold fringe
And then Jamie Laing and JJ Chalmers looking like the boys who get killed first in an 80s Prom horror movie
This might be forshadowing JJ Chalmers’s dance ability…
But now it’s time to pair everyone up! In order to help them self isolate everyone already knows who they’re partnered with, and if you even keep half an eye on the tabloids you probably know too, I guess it’s hard to sneak both a Strictly professional, a film crew and a beloved British actress into The Globe Theatre without it arousing suspicion…
Personally I cannot wait to see how her years of childhood ballet somehow get her on The Shit List but I think we might have all been a bit distracted and intrigued by the rather stellar leg lift
This bodes well. And just in case you were wondering what to wear for a covert meeting, Caroline has you covered
toeing the line of International Woman of Mystery and The M’lady Men of Reddit. Caroline ran a strong 30% chance of getting The Anton Deal, what with being a woman over the age of 50 and a comedy actress but she pulled through those odds, dodged the bullet and ended up with Johannes who also showed up as a Spy, so long may they solve crimes together on my up and coming ITV comedy crime drama, Murders on the Dancefloor
Apparently I’m just the biggest Clara Amfo stan but I am so happy she is doing the show this year – she’s an absolute blast. She’s best known for her Radio gig but to me Clara will always be defined by her culinary endevours on Celebrity Masterchef
It’s like she had never met food. And who better to to partner her than Aljaž? They’re a match made in heaven and I absolutely cannot wait for Team The Claž so get underway and work their way through Clara Amfo’s Inexhaustible Playlist of Strictly Possibilities.
She’s just too Piers Morgan Adjacent for me, but she seems game and up for a laugh so maybe she isn’t all that bad. But one single cameo from The Morgan and it’s Cancelled from me. Also sweetening the deal is her very cute dog
Hopefully he’s in her bubble.
I’m not sure where Ranvir ranks in the Dance Disaster Possibility Scale, because during the group number she didn’t look bad, or she was at least in possession of a modicum of rhythm, so Giovanni might continue what is maybe the longest run of competent dance partners in Strictly history – I at least can’t see her being any worse than Michelle Visage. Although her first dance being revealed to be a Paso Doble does not bode well, it’s just not a week 1 dance – how I long for the days of the first and second week just being an exchange of Waltzes and Cha Cha Chas.
The Strictly Bubble
And now for a brief interlude to show how exactly this series is possible in The Age of Covid! It mostly involves the pro dancers being sequestered in a very nice looking hotel that does not gets its name mentioned because of BBC endorsement rules, sucks to be them. This year all of the Pro Dance are being pre-recorded so that each of the pros deemed worthy of a celeb partnership (soz Neil, Nadiya, Graziano and JUSTICE FOR NANCY) can successfully bubble-up with their partners.
Now for rehearsals for these dances the pros show up in athleisure wear, an old shirt maybe some comfy dark colours that don’t show off your sweat stains
And then you have Katya showing up like a comedically obvious strumpet in an 80s sitcom that threatens to steal the protagonist’s man
God bless her, may she only continue to Slut It Up.
We do get a few glimpses into the pro routines for the series, and they promises high concepts like
Nancy in a trolley, hey if it gets her screentime, I’ll take it. And…
Nancy on The BatBike? The Matrix? Again, I’ll take anything. AND
A Priscilla number! I cannot wait. And then:
Anton looking more like Uncle Bryne than he ever has. They can keep that one.
And now it’s time to unveil one of their High Concept Masterpieces, it’s Nadiya’s Foray Through Prohibition Era Speakeasies
Not gonna lie, rather stealing the spotlight is Oti in a gold velvet dress and pink fingerwaves
The show truly knows its Ace, doesn’t it? Katya just bazonga-ing directly to camera
And then because Anton isn’t allowed to join the line-up of Intimidating Gangsters
because he looks like your dad going for a walk to the shops
He gets to have a little sing-song and honestly if I was Nadiya I would be royally pissed, THIS WAS HER MOMENT.
Back to the pairing.
He gets to meet his partner at Wembly Arena because apparently HRVY has had a sell out show to 10,000 screaming girls
I’m not going to say I hate him, he seems like a lovely guy but I’m sceptical of anyone that mentions both their 1.5 billion Vine streams (a dead media platform) and their Instagram following count so casually – and I hope that all 15 people who follow this blog agree. He’s very worried that his little noodle arms aren’t going to be able to manage the lifts (someone tell him about the rules) so it’s probably a good thing that he got paired with Janette, the tiniest pro with the core strength of an alligator’s jaws – her abs can lift her themselves – they defy gravity. They dub themselves Team Fiery Mess. Truly flaming.
Jason is our first NFL player as Tess lets us know several times! He gets to meet his partner at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the home to the NFL in The UK – you truly do learn something new every day. He gets paired with Luba and congratulations to this show for not putting her in a cheerleading outfit
We’re really making strides, huh? Personally looking forward to Movie Week when they do a very emotional The Blind Side Routine – just Luba in big sunglasses, a wildly swinging crucifix pendant and a very appropriate beige church dress. ALSO JUST PUT JASON IN THE UNIFORM FOR VERY PROFESSIONAL REASONS.
Heir to A Biscuit Empire, Jamie Laing.
It is exceptionally brave of the show to allow Jamie Laing anywhere near a Vespa , especially on a wet day – the man is a liability; wrap him in cotton wool. Last time he was partnered with Oti but because she won she can’t be given anyone who might stand a chance of making Week 6, so it’s Karen for Jamie and my God these Spot the Difference puzzles get harder every year
Best known for being an International boxing superstar with gold medals from The Olympics, The Commonwealth Games, Mario Kart and The European Games (or her main credential is being a lesbian depending on which paper you read) and absolutely my new favourite person just for the giggle alone, but also The Style:
The double breasted camel coat and the flash gold watch? It’s nothing but correct. And as I’m sure everyone knew she was going to be our first same sex couple because Strictly got shamed into it by Dancing on Ice (you could have done this first if you had listened 4 years ago…)
She meets her pro in The Royal Albert Hall, home to her last professional fight and it’s none other than Katya, known for her inventive and unique choreography AND NOTHING ELSE who has shown up in the full Robin Sparkles double embellished denim fantasy
And Luba had to dress up as a referee. I’m really excited by their partnership and the possibilities that a same sex couple offers and anyone who asks “who is the man in your partnership” will be booted straight into the sun. Also, these two dancing in an empty Royal ALbert Hall looks like a scene from a movie I desperately want to watch
No. Gun to my head and a choice between banning comedian or politicians from the show and it’s politicians every time. They will never be good at it. Poor Jacqui did garner some symptahy as she had to act out my literal worst night: Anton du Beke sneaking up on me while wearing Groucho glasses and forcing me to dance with him
A cinematic masterpiece more chilling than The Exorcist and more sexually confusing than Cats. Jacqui is just thrilled she has a parner that can take her to a much higher level of dance
Maisie Smith, THE DIRTY RINGAH
Well she’s the bookies’ favourite, which I’m not entirely sure bodes well for her because women who are very good right out the gate don’t usually win, we call this The Ashley Roberts Effect. I do however have to admire the wearing of the tiara, it’s not exactly going to endear her to anyone but I do love it.
She gets to meet her partner in the illustrious Strictly Studio because apparently everyone except for cast and crew has since been outlawed from the Eastenders set – that’s gonna ruin a lot of their VTs. She’s our youngest contestant and due to a lack of AJ is partnered with Gorka, who I learned this weekend decided to try and outdo Neil for the prize of Worst Back Tattoo on Strictly
I’m all for prison abolition *BUT* this makes a strong case against that.
Maisie has enough of a personality that she might be able to Stacey Dooley herself a reality competition hosting gig if she plays her cards right – she can be a correspondent for The One Show if she doesn’t. She’ll be dancing what this show passes off a Samba for her first dance.
The Return of Kelvin “The Grimace” Fletcher
Oh boy. With Oti having to sequester for 2 weeks to learn the pro-routines and then bubble-up with Bill, there clearly wasn’t enough time or space to rehearse her and Kelvin’s routine that stuck very much to the Old Arkansas Laws of Dance, with daylight between partners being mandatory at all times – there can be no hussies at this hoedown. It’ll certainly not go down in the Pantheon of Winners’ Return Dances – but given the circumstances it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and Kelvin did the jumping-jack-press-up thing
Which forgives a multitude of sins, the worst being the fact they were out of sync by a least 2 seconds.
JJ Chalmers (He’s Friends with Prince Harry y’know?)
They have made it very hard for me to champion JJ as The Hot One by putting him in such an ill-fitting satin suit – Vicky Gill must pay WITH BLOOD. Because JJ was a Royal Marine, he’s off to the Royal Maritime Museum to meet his dance partner – and it’s a joyous union of Independence with Welsh Amy! Unfortunately it’s bound not to last very long because JJ dances like the whitest white man that ever whited. But he does have a 6 year old daughter who he is having to spend time away from so get ready for that VT guys. *sobs*
I’ll admit, I have been quite vocal in the past about how much I do not like comedians on the show – I think they slip very easily and far too quickly into the LOL DANCE LIKE A PLONKER state of affairs – which is my least favourite state of affairs since LOL ISN’T THE CONSERVATIVE OLD LADY FUNNY? *stares at Jacqui Smith suspiciously*. BUT after last year when Chris Ramsey seemed to take the show mildly seriously and was genuinely not a bad dancer – I was willing to maybe give them a new shot – after all the politicians are the true enemies. Now, Bill Bailey I’m not sure is the contestant to get me on your side – I just don’t trust the show not to dress him up as a giant toucan the first moment they get – and also I’m just generally creeped out by anyone that looks like they are going to be doing table magic at a steampunk convention
BUT AGAIN, he is with Oti and I don’t see her letting him be a joke – I hope. I did very much enjoy them trying to keep up the suspense of who Bill will get as a partner when it was quite obviously Oti because the show has… just we say a *mild* diversity issue. They’re first dance is a cha cha cha (thank God) but if he doesn’t dance a waltz to his parody song “Love Song” then I truly feel that this is a wasted casting opportunity.
And our final celeb! It’s One of the Other Ones from The Wanted, or if you close your eyes he is just Paddy McGuinness – it’s uncanny. Because of their chart success (prior to 2014 because woof at the 117th chart position for Glow in the Dark) Max gets to meet Dianne at th Abbey Road Studios when she very quickly gives him a body complex by squealing about his very long arms, his GREAT BIG THICC neck and his wee tiny legs.
He also has to compete with The Legacy of Jay (who I had forgotten was in The Wanted) so that’s going to be a fun inferiority complex to watch unravel over the course of the next few weeks.
The Group Dance
As is tradition the newly paired off group do a series of mostly hand movements as they stand on the spot and/or are lifted and spun in a circle by their professional partner – I mean Nicola and Katya literally just did the hot potato. Caroline serves some excellent face
And JJ, completely aware of how terrible his dearth of rhythm is gives this long, hard look to camera
They did, against better judgement, allow Jamie Laing to participate without any safety apparatus – just put him in a giant zorb ball, or wrap him in bubble wrap at the very least – the man has biscuits for bones – it’s The McVities Family Curse. Maisie is very good and incredibly light and sharp on her feet and Jacqui Smith is as terrible as you could imagine – Bill Bailey skips and stomps around like he’s trying to put out a rampaging forest fire and Clara Amfo showed off a very promising body roll, which is a relief given the terrible history of the body roll on this show, lest I remind you of Magic Mike Bushell…
Under the circumstances I think they’ve managed to put together and incredibly stellar line-up – it does have a tinge of the Nobody-wanted-to-do-it-so-this-is-all-we-could-get about it, but it’s managing to bring all the joy it usually does and quite frankly that’s all we need right now.
My personal favourites so far are Clara, Caroline and Max. I want to like JJ but I know not to get attached to someone who dances like literal white bread.