Strictly 2021 – Week 1, Main Show: The Pansexual Pride Kiosk


If this first week is anything to go by we’re in for one hell of a series – I just hope Vicky Gill manages to find a better ostrich feather and sequin supplier this week.

We start the series proper as we intend to go on, with Greg Wise in a vest

You may have noticed but I am on a one woman mission to turn Greg Wise into The Thirst Trap of the Series, PEATY BE DAMNED!
And Rhys looked as manic as ever

Nancy may have a ringer but good God she’s got a battle on her hands to contain his Cbeebies presenter energy and his tendency to not understand the concept of an inside voice and I expect Nancy may have to power grip him like a ventriloquist dummy during every interview

Claudia is 6 feet away Rhys, she can hear you.
And then all of the celebs meet in the ballroom in a socially distanced circle like it’s the start of a Hunger Games tournament

My money is on Judi Love winning that particular showdown, put all the money you want on Adam Peaty, Judi Love will eat him alive in mortal combat.

There is of course a pro dance to get us all in the mood – or not as it all kicks off in a world of black and white to a simpering John Lewis-y cover of A Thousand Miles as Sad Business Gorka™ finds Black and White Barefooted Karen in her yellow dress

the whole thing is at once extremely La La Land and yet not La La Land enough to trigger Disney’s copyright safeguards on YouTube, but still enough to make me go and watch the Oscar’s mishap all over again YouTube, so thank for that I guess.
Although I don’t remember the part where Emma Stone florally dissipated

so maybe this was actually an Annihilation themed dance? THAT IS NOT A CHALLENGE, although with the soundtrack being compromised of three songs titled “Hopeless Hoping”, “The Mark” and “Sex Music”, maybe it is? Sex Music samba, when?
Karen does manage to return from her botanical breakdown and in true Karen style puts the Strictly Come Yoinking Harness™ to good use

meanwhile Neil got to feel the utter thrill of riding a bicycle for a whole 6 feet

Ah yes, the joy of feeling the wind in your… oh.

With the world having been safely returned back to its lurid technicolour form, which definitely wasn’t just about the exact same theme as the Launch Show pro-dance SHUT UP, we can get on with the show, which tonight is being hosted by Colonel Sanders and A Tall Bucket of Fried Chicken

Do I have permission to make the very obvious Colonel Sanders joke again? I made it on Twitter and got accused of stealing someone else’s joke and getting 2 whole likes more than them. So lock me up and call me Keith Chegwin, I guess?
I spent a whole 5 minutes desperately trying to think of a way to keep the fast food theme going with the judges’ outfits and drew nothing but blanks and it was making me really hungry. But Shirley looked great in her definitely not Taco Bell adjacent racer dress

and Motsi was also simply a knock out

and it will not surprise you that Anton came dressed as himself

by week 3 I will absolutely have given up on screenshotting the many dinner jackets he wears, not that I’m actively encouraging him to pull a Craig and wear a mauve velvet blazer

hands up indeed.

On to the fifteen dances, pour yourself a stiff drink, I insist.

Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden
Cha-cha-cha / September – Earth, Wind & Fire

I am a little surprised that we’re kicking off with Tom Fletcher who by all means comes in to the competition as the favourite to win – mostly because Giovanna will stop at absolutely NOTHING to see it happen. Heads will roll, blood will spill, kingdoms shall fall and Tom shall lift that Glitterball Trophy. Also, the BBC is fast running out of Very Nice Boys™ to throw at Amy. I suppose getting to go first also means that Tom could spend the rest of the TWO HOURS having a nap considering he’s had to both tour and rehearse

his standing foetal position posture is at least passable.

I do rather admire their restraint to not have him dance to a McFly song considering the easy narrative here, although I’m sure they’re absolutely gearing up to a 5 Colours in Her Hair jive – Manic Pixie Scene Girl Amy Dowden is all I want from this partnership. I crave it. Instead it’s an Earth, Wind & Fire Cha Cha at the Pansexual Pride Kiosk

Series 19 truly is the queerest series, we love to see it.
I think we all expected Tom to be at least a little bit good and while a Cha Cha Cha is a pretty staple first week dance, this was quite impressive, or at least his enthusiasm carried him through a lot of it. His footwork gains him a lot of praise, however the spin had all the coordination of the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz

I have a whole list of fictional scarecrows to compare Tom to, so you have that to look forward to!
My biggest take away from the whole dance was wondering how many dances Amy can insert an air guitar solo into

someone must be pissed off that Bill Bailey got to the pyrotechnics spewing guitar first – where do you go from there? That’s a problem for Future Amy.

Judges’ Scores:
: 4
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 5
Anton: 5

I love that at this point Tom was told he “had set a very high standard.” and with a score of 21, you might think that was decent, however the scoring very quickly became very broken. Truly we are back in Strictly business.

Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin
Waltz / Consequences – Camila Cabello

I am personally shocked to find that Nikita owns clothes that he can’t unbutton to his navel

I am less shocked to find that Tilly Ramsay wears clothing that seems to be apologising for itself

she does after all have the same disposition as a new-born lamb and Nikita keeps comparing her to floppy kebabs. If I wasn’t already convinced that Nikita was the long lost son of Gordon Ramsay, that pretty much confirms it, I’m going to need some serious Strictly Come Genealogy Testing STAT.
As, Nikita gets to teach Tilly how to dance, she gets to teach him how to cook, the fact the… soup?…. stew?… sweet-potato-something-or-other only got shot in a blurry filter that puts the Season 1 filter on Drag Race to shame doesn’t suggest it was an all together very successful culinary experience

it’s still better than that time Kirsty Gallacher put carrots in a paella – it only makes sense that she’s ended up on GB News, doesn’t it?
Tilly’s waltz was at least a much more visually pleasing experience than La Soupe des Divers – her dress was a dream when she spun

and yes, we do indeed pull out the big guns for the first waltz of the series because we have a Waltz Bench

it’s pretty unanimous amongst the judges that the beginning of the waltz was the strongest part of the routine, which seems a little rude considering she was sitting down for it – such is the power of a well deployed waltz bench – but there was also a dip that the two of them really pulled off very elegantly

look, give me fog and a sparkly dress and I’m putty in your hands.
What I don’t love is the fact TessBot is firmly programmed to simper at the end of every single dance that these two will do, so brace yourself for nuclear levels of mother henning.

Judges’ Scores:
: 5
Motsi: 5
Shirley: 6
Anton: 5

Ugo Monye and Oti Mabuse
Samba / Iko Iko (My Bestie) – Justin Wellington

We begin Ugo’s samba training with Oti demonstrating the Volta Step, or at least we’re assured that’s what she’s doing amongst this ring of mirrors

I have played enough fantasy games to know that a ring of mirrors only leads to the summoning of a demon. The hunger for a third Glitterball would draw anyone to the arcane, which might also explain the flaming drums

Oti Mabuse, Demon Summoner.
The volta training was apparently completely wasted – UGO, THEY BOUGHT YOU 5 MIRRORS! – as Ugo just reinvented them and did his own thing, which doesn’t go down entirely awfully as unsurprisingly Anton, a man seemingly on a mission to destroy the very art of Latin dancing, much preferred the newly invented Ugo-Volta. They were considerably less thrilled with just about everything else, but at least he was having fun! I think the second half of the routine was significantly stronger, the scarfography break in the middle seemed to allow him to find more of a rhythm.
Also, I would like to formally found The Ugo Monye’s Butt Appreciation Society

someone had to.
But truly, the highlight of the entire routine was the moment Ugo booped Oti’s nose at the end of the dance

I will protect him with my entire life.
And then after this explosion of New-Volta Joy, Ugo announced that he had come from his father’s funeral that morning, and by this point I imagine Craig had already pushed the 3 button on his scoring keypad and THOROUGHLY regretted it.

Judges’ Scores:
: 3
Motsi: 5
Shirley: 5
Anton: 5

Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu
Viennese Waltz / End of the Road – Boyz II Men

Given that last year, Oti just about crucified Bill Bailey in the name of posture there were big boots to fill in the Strictly Come Torture department

but Nancy certainly stepped up to the plate with a frame that makes Rhys look like he’s had one hell of a BMXing accident

We can rebuild him. We have the technology.
I am surprised that given that this was the first Viennese Waltz of the series that they didn’t spend more time talking about the struggle to manage the spinning, although I do imagine that Rhys Stephenson, Cbeebies extraordinaire, is probably used to spinning around wildly – I wouldn’t be surprised if high octane roundabouts weren’t part of the audition process.

I was also slightly confused by the styling of this Viennese Waltz given that Nancy and Rhys both looked like the usual vintage-esque couple and yet apparently the same courtesy couldn’t be extended to the luggage and they had to settle for a gym bag from Footlocker

Look, it costs a lot to rent the Waltz Bench, ok?
We all knew this would be good and I think the judges considerably played down how good it actually was, especially the 6 from Craig… and I do look forward to Rhys and Nancy going absolutely bonkers at the end of every dance they do

he has to find an outlet for his Cbeebies energy somewhere.
Also looking forward to Tilly Ramsay looking like she’s seen a ghost every after every Rhys and Nancy performance

Nikita, please hug her. NOW.

Judges’ Scores:
: 6
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 7
Anton: 7

Sara Davies and Aljaz Skorjanec
Cha-cha-cha / The Boss – Diana Ross

If nothing else, Sara Davies at least got to wear this killer pair of heels in her VT

and that alone is worth probably being the first boot next week.
Their routine was, obviously, themed around Dragons Den with Aljaz’s business idea being his abundant balls

insert take-my-money-fry.gif here.
Sara was clearly nervous during the entire routine and you could visibly see her struggling to concentrate on trying to get a semblance of the steps correct while also trying to find which camera she was meant to be mugging to and I’m not sure managed either task particularly successfully. But I really loved her in this blue velvet number

and I’ll never say no to a horizontal be-suited Aljaz

we’ve all had this dream, right?

Judges’ Scores:
: 3
Motsi: 5
Shirley: 5
Anton: 4

Dan(iel) Walker and Nadiya Bychkova Hostage Situation
Quickstep / Everybody Needs Somebody to Love – The Blues Brothers

Nadiya, blink twice if you need help.
I believe the only way we’re allowed to introduce BBC Breakfast presenters to the dancefloor is through a dance themed around a newsroom, and as Dan Walker is spiritually connected to the curved red sofa, a pale semblance of its glory is brought onto the floor

It’s no Waltz Bench, but it’ll do.
I also love that despite it being a song from The Blues Brothers, apparently they couldn’t convince Nadiya to don a suit and so she instead came dressed in a jumpsuit that I am at least 80% sure was used in one of the Christmas Specials

Vicky Gill had a lot of outfits to make and ostriches to bid for on Ebay, some corners had to be cut.

With Dan Walker, in all kindness, built like Julia Donaldson’s Stick Man, I was bracing myself for a gangly mess of a quickstep AND YET, despite his feet getting thoroughly confused and going off like a grape stomper at a couple of points – he pulled off the energy and speed of the quickstep remarkably well for a first week. Sometimes a dance just has a really fun vibe and this is one of them, also Nadiya running along the sofa was worth AT LEAST a 6

Shut up, I’m easily impressed.
What Dan does need to work on is not constantly talking throughout the routine as he went from singing along, to counting to what I fully believe was him dictating his weekly shopping list. I just want to know if he was doing it all in the Russian accent he started using in his interview with Claudia – the speed at which she IMMEDIATELY cut him off after he uttered “Flepjeck” in a Moscow drawl was honestly iconic – Claudia Winkleman is a PRO.
I am thoroughly looking forward to the whole segment on It Takes Two in which Nadiya samples various flapjacks once they start running out of content in Week 4. Nadiya Hussain can bake them, it can be a whole thing!

Judges’ Scores:
: 5
Motsi: 5
Shirley: 7
Anton: 7

Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice
Jive / Shake It Off – Taylor Swift (in the wrong key.)

First of all, these two are too adorable for words

The Mr. and Miss Congeniality titles are in the bags for them, for sure. I’ll make a sash and flapjack sommelier Nadiya can tell me where to get some flapjacks worthy of being a prize.
This must have been quite a week of training for them both – with Giovanni having to learn a whole new way of teaching someone how to dance and Rose having to contend with the jive as her first dance, and it also being Giovanni’s favourite dance, so at least she got to look like an absolute delight on Saturday evening

Was it worth scalping the entire cast of My Little Pony for? I’m going to say yes.
It may not have been the most adept Jive, she needed to commit a lot more to her movements but it was hard not to just smile the entire way through her routine because she looked so happy, and yet apparently she was dying inside and absolutely hated every second of this jive and just wanted to fully Jamie Lannister Giovanni

who knew that Rose was the Bolton of the cast?
And while I obviously loved the routine, my favourite part of every week from now is going to be watching Rose’s interpreter flee into the night once the judging ends so that she can make it up to the Claudia interview in time. Godspeed!

Judges’ Scores:
: 6
Motsi: 6
Shirley: 4
Anton: 6

Katie McGlynn and Gorka Marquez
Tango / Black Hole – Griff

Here’s hoping to the fact Gorka’s sheer excitement at being even tangentially involved the filming of a Hollyoaks scene means that he can continue the hopeful tradition of Strictly Professionals Being Awkward on Hollyoaks

Katie, you have ONE JOB now. And if you’re wondering where Hollyoaks is with its filming, I’m assuming their doing the Christmas special

that, or Katie’s character banged her head and now lives in a perpetual festive loop which wouldn’t be the strangest thing to happen on Hollyoaks this year unless I hallucinated those adverts with the evil fortune telling dummy?
They are of course dancing the Tango this week which meant there was of course a montage of Katie’s various Tango Faces, personally I favour the curler in the fringe edition

I wonder if it’s possible to choreograph a Tango to the Corrie theme tune and then dress someone up as Hilda Ogden?
Though I may favour the curler, Katie looked damn incredible on Saturday night

tango hair and makeup is just always on another level.
I don’t know if the dance was necessarily particularly interesting, it felt very much like a Tango Lite and there wasn’t any particularly wow moment in the dance other than any time a camera came within 5 feet of Katie’s face. They were slightly hampered by the fact they had been dealt the Obligatory Use of the Brit Award Rising Star’s song – which while I do like Black Hole by Griff, I’m not sure it inspired the best tango that Gorka could have put together.

Judges’ Scores:
: 6
Motsi: 5
Shirley: 5
Anton: 6

Robert Webb and Dianne Buswell
Cha-cha-cha / Rasputin – Boney M.

Of course all everyone wanted to talk about this weekend was how Robert Webb was dressed like an Emperor Ming inspired bedroom designed by Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen, which came at the expense of the tiny little octopus that had taken up residence atop Dianne’s head

I for one appreciate you, you tiny little hirsute cephalopod.
And while we’re talking about Dianne’s hair, I am just pleased that someone else has the same issues wrangling their fringe

granted she had probably been dancing for several hours but that centre part will be the death of me one day.

Obviously they were going for the comedic angle this week (and I imagine every week) so none of this was ever meant to be serious and quite frankly the entire routine was everything I feared that Will Ferrell’s Eurovision film would be. So of course the judges loved how entertaining it was, before Motsi and Shirley dumped a pair of ice cold 4s on it. Lure them in with love AND SLICE THEIR THROATS WITH A PADDLE.

Judges’ Scores:
: 6
Motsi: 4
Shirley: 4
Anton: 6

Greg Wise and Karen Hauer
American Smooth / That’s Life – Frank Sinatra

Karen was very quick to remind both Greg and us that she had managed to make the finale last year despite seemingly the entire universe working against her and Jamie Biscuits. And she said that as though any of us had forgotten Jamie launching himself off the balcony like a vengeful Messiah

that dance has 109k views on YouTube and at least 107k of them are just me.

Sadly Karen hadn’t managed to convince them to allow her the privilege of the harness for their American Smooth – I imagine it was either the harness or a bountiful ostrich feather hem. I personally can’t blame her for taking the extra ostrich feathers because the dress moved like a dream

adding that dress to the wish list.
And while Karen bargained over feathers and harnesses, here’s more Greg in Vest specimens

It was very hard to get a read of Greg last week, I think he’s incredibly nervous of the whole process and masked a lot of it behind self-deprecation which made me think we’d be veering into a wealth of comedic routines but this wasn’t that! Not entirely, there was a dramatic point that could rival River Medway’s

but for the most part this was your standard Golden Age of Hollywood American Smooth that of course had Anton turning a bit misty eyed and I suppose regretting the fact he leaned so hard into just making duff Latin numbers in his final years as a Strictly pro. YOU MADE THAT BED, LIE IN IT.
The tone of the dance was a little strange, as noted it did have comedic elements and leaned in to those classic movie musical tropes but then occasionally Greg did look like he was about to challenge Karen to a boxing match

which obviously she would win. Hands down, no questions about it.

We also have a Dame Emma Thompson Sighting

and if you’re wondering where she stands in the hierarchy of Strictly Family Guests, she gets a worse seat than AJ’s parents but does get her own spotlight

I think that’s fair.

Judges’ Scores:
: 6
Motsi: 6
Shirley: 5
Anton: 7

If Anton scores a single American Smooth lower than a 7 I will eat someone’s top hat.

Nina Wadia and Neil Jones
Samba / Mi Gente – J Balvin & Willy William feat. Beyonce

Nina set herself a high bar right from the outset saying that she wanted to channel her inner-Beyoncé and then Neil announced that they had got her a Beyoncé song to dance to. As it turns out they’re not going to splash out on a Beyoncé song in Week 1 so she got one with her as a featured artist. She seemed happy, I would have thrown a chair. She was still wanting to deliver “a diva queen vibe” that she hoped the audience would get and I can safely say that serving up some nuclear-grade camp right from the beginning certainly told us everything that this dance was going to be

Nina Wadia remains a gift that we must treasure for as long as possible.
All of the judges were a little taken aback by how good Nina actually was, but after years of any woman over the age of 50 being subjected to an Anton Samba, anything was going to be an unexpected improvement. Shirley had particular high praises for her and was very hung up on the fact everyone made fun of her for talking the fundamentals that Greg was lacking and then goes on to list everything she loved about Nina’s feet like she was writing an image description on WikiFeet.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 6
Motsi: 6
Shirley: 5
Anton: 7

John Whaite and Johannes Radebe
Tango / Blue Monday – New Order

I was very worried about how sexy this tango was going to be allowed to be, especially after their bit in the intro has them striking a pose that made them look less like a couple and more like a pair of sitcom housemates who are polar are opposites and shenanigans ensue (also, they’re just really good friends)

and then of course, John’s initial attempt at the tango head snaps looked like a cat being forced to take medicine

Johannes had quite a lot of work cut out for himself but his approach to it was really appreciated, especially in regards to who was the leader and who was being lead because naturally when Strictly started doing same gender couples, there was a worry that we would have the tired “who’s the man and who’s the woman?” or even worse “who’s the top and who’s the bottom?” but as Shirley said, it’s a testament to the same gender couple that they do have more freedom to play around with leads and follows – and for Shirley to describe them as “exquisite” meant a lot, I think for a lot of us we never dreamed that any sort of a queer relationship could be lauded so beautifully and they truly were exquisite – it was sharp, it was sensual and it was just damn good

and to think a couple of years ago Aljaz passing Graziano an umbrella in the pro dance would have been considered Premium Gay Content™

We ship the crumbs we are given.

There are obviously some minor issues, you could see Johannes having to tell John to keep his chin up but mostly John’s thumb stuck up like he was hailing a taxi – Rose could always cut it off and save them any future issues.

looking forward to that after all of their dances.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 7
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 8
Anton: 8

Judi Love and Graziano di Prima
American Smooth / Chain of Fools – Aretha Franklin

I am constantly surprised to learn that Graziano has a surname, I just think he radiates a One Named Diva energy, which makes him and Judi Love a perfect partnership – she did after all kick off the whole VT by loudly singing I’m So Excited by The Pointer Sisters and thus using up all of Nina’s Beyoncé Budget in the process but it’s lovely that she is so keen and you could see how much she wants to learn in her training VT. I think it mostly payed off – there were a few moments when her frame slumped slightly and she needed to put a lot more power behind her kicks but she and Graziano were just really fun together and serving enough camp to make Craig consider this entire number for a drag show

and who could blame him, her dress was gorgeous, although her capelet could have used at least 3 more ostriches worth of feathers

apparently the Strictly Ostrich Farm had a bad harvest this year.

Judges’ Scores:
: 6
Motsi: 6
Shirley: 6
Anton: 6

Someone pass me a top hat, I’m famished.

AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington
Jive / Gold Dust – DJ Fresh

If you were wondering who the Designated Social Media One is this year, it’s firmly fallen on the (enviable) shoulders of AJ

which is maybe a touch weird considering Tilly Ramsay has been billed as “Social Media Star, Tilly Ramsay” but I suppose she’s busy with university and having The Daily Mail try to convince us that she and Nikita are madly in love – whatever gets you clicks.

I think we all knew we were in for one Hell of a jive from the moment AJ took to the stage looking like she was starting a very special anniversary episode of Looney Tunes

there has to be some sort of law against looking this good? It feels painfully unfair and quite frankly rude of her.
And as if looking like a total knock out wasn’t enough, she started that jive and she just exploded into a frenzy of energy with kicks and flicks the likes of which you’re unlikely to see again until at least Week 7 – if everyone else lacked commitment and strength in their legs, AJ if anything had too much and each flick of her toes threatened to tear through the fabric of our own reality

and as good as they were, my favourite move was of course The Jazzy Duck Waddle

and with the dance already surpassing 100k views on YouTube, I think it’s fair to say AJ might be sticking around for a while, which does at least make my mission of personally dragging her to the finale at any cost significantly easier.

Judges’ Scores:
: 8
Motsi: 8
Shirley: 9
Anton: 9

Adam Peaty and Katya Jones
Cha-cha-cha / Beggin’ – Mankesin

And we end with the big guns, Adam Peaty’s big ring

I mean, they knew exactly what they were doing with giving them Beggin’ by Maneksin and dressing Katya up as a sort of fetishy feather duster

and it worked a treat as Craig, Shirley and Motsi all fawn over his rhythm and in no uncertain terms his spherically blessed butt

although I’m not sure describing it as “oozing” is the compliment Shirley thought it was.
While most of the dance was very good, the pot stirrer, which in true Katya-style, had been modified to be done with Adam’s feet wasn’t exactly the most elegant move we’ve ever seen

mostly because Katya slipped but also a little bit because a cocked leg has certain connotations.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 7
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 8
Anton: 8

And thus ends our marathon of a First Week, and here’s the leader board going in to Week 2:

  1. AJ and Kai Celebrate Bugs Bunny’s Legacy
  2. Team The Gays!
    • Adam Peaty’s Big Ring
  3. Rhys and Nancy’s Post-gym Meet Cute
  4. Dan and Nadiya Killed Louise Minchin
    • Greg and Karen’s Anton Cosplay
    • Nina and Neil’s Demi-Beyoncé
    • Judi and Graziano Ruin a Bar
  5. Rose and a Now Handless Giovanni
    • Katie and Gorka’s Tango by Numbers
  6. Tom and Amy said Pansexual Rights
    • Tilly and Nikita go to Prom
  7. Robert, Dianne and a Tiny Octopus
  8. Ugo and Oti Summoning a Demon
  9. Sara and Aljaz’s Business Opportunity

And if you’ve enjoyed this recap of the Strictly’s first week as much as I enjoyed writing it and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small donation via my Ko-fi HERE.

2 thoughts on “Strictly 2021 – Week 1, Main Show: The Pansexual Pride Kiosk

  1. Ariadne

    Hi Ariadne

    As a relatively new fan of Strictly from Australia, I have been casting around for good writing on the series, making do with the Guardian live blog, but sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until you’ve found it.

    This recap is so perfect… full of the analysis, meta-analysis, great jokes and great writing that I was looking for and this will be the first place I come every episode. I laughed out loud several times, but the AJ/Looney Tunes joke was the one that got me.

    Off to donate to your Ko-Fi. Thanks so much for writing these and I hope you keep going, they are wonderful.

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