On Saturday this week, some of the xoJane crew were at London Fashion Week, enjoying the work of Britain’s hottest designers, drinking designer cocktails and, I’ll assume, wearing designer clothes. I was in Dublin, wearing my pyjamas and drinking Lemsip, while waiting to witness the premiere of what is surely the most important sporting competition of the year.
Fuck the Olympics. Strictly Come Dancing is back.
This Saturday saw the show’s “red carpet premiere”, which introduced viewers to the competing celebrities, and the celebrities to their professional partners. The competitors will spend the next three weeks in seclusion, before beating each other to death Hunger Games-style in October.
Actually, that's not true at all, they’re just learning how to dance. But the series, which runs from October until Christmas, will still be amazing.
Strictly in Sixty, round-up courtesy and copyright BBC
Who’s Hosting?In spite of the pins my mother’s been sticking in voodoo dolls all year Brucie, and his bloody jokes, are back. So is the lovely Tess Daly, who presented the first show in a Stella McCartney dress, which recalled many of the dresses she’s worn in previous series.
We’re not allowed to snark on xoJane so I’m going to put this is in the kindest way. Why is her stylist so mean to her? Tess seems nice and has the kind of figure that’s easy to dress. So, why?
Who’s Judging?Apart from me? Aleesha Dixon abandoned the three mainstay judges, Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel-Horwood this year, so they called in a much better qualified lady instead, former Prima Ballerina Darcy Bussell.
Darcy, who celebrated her first night as a full-time judge (she’s guested before) by performing a slinky American Smooth with pro-dancer Ian Waite, seems like a very poised and elegant lady. She’ll offset Craig’s bitchiness, Bruno’s outrageousness and Len’s saltiness nicely.
Also, IAN WAITE is back!!! Now, if they can just work out how to get that nice Matthew Cutler, who won the show with Aleesha in 2007, back on, I’ll consider giving up crisps for them. Or jelly babies. Their choice.
Who’s Dancing?There’s Olympians in the medal-winning forms of the lovely, and abs-tastic cyclist Victoria Pendleton and gymnast Louis Smith, who’ll be dancing with Brendan Cole and Flavia Caccace, both of whom have a bit of a rep for ‘romancing’ their partners. Brendan in particular looked keen to live up to his reputation. She’s engaged, you dog.
There’s the obligatory cricketer, Michael Vaughan, who was introduced as a “legend” (?) and is getting to dance with the lovely Natalie Lowe, and an apparently well-known Hollywood actor called Colin Salmon (??) who’s been paired with my favourite dancer, Kristina Rihanoff, and her amazing flexi-legs.
Also on smoking hot form is one Kimberley Walsh from Girls Aloud. She’s been teamed with jailbait-y Russian dynamo Pasha Kovalev, who I love so much after his turn with Chelsee Healey last year. He’s my fave guy dancer even if his hair did look a bit… like I say, we don’t snark but… IT WILL GROW.
Gamblers out there probably already know that Team Kisha (don’t blame me, blame Twitter) are likely to be in the final with Flavia and Louis, and our other pop contender Westlife’s Nicky Byrne (are Westlife still a thing? Does anyone know?) and Nicole Scherzinger Karen Hauer, aka the new girl dancer, who’s been bought into replace Katya Virshilas. Karen looks as fun as she is sexy if her flirting with Sid Owen during the rehearsal interview was anything to go by [What's Sid Owen doing there? Is that a typo, Alisande? Oh no...apparently not --Rebecca].
This year, a few of the celebs come under the broad category of “TV personalities”. Fern Britton (who, in the interests of full disclosure, I cannot abide) has been teamed with 2010 series winner Artem Chigvintsev. Showbiz reporter Richard Arnold (who I’m also not keen on) is partnered with the lovely Erin Boag, and 74-year-old Johnny Ball, who was introduced as a “boffin” but is probably better known these days for being Zoe’s Dad, has landed Aliona Vilani as his dance-mate. Dunno how Aliona feels but awwwww, I love old people!
Less old but still likeable is Denise van Outen who’s been teamed with James Jordan. Now, Den can protest all she wants about “not being a trained dancer.” I’ve seen her on-stage. Sister can really shake it down. I think she’s one to watch.
Soap contributions come from Eastenders’ Rickaaaaay (Sid Owen) who, as I mentioned above, managed to get his flirt on before the series had even begun. He’s dancing with the always fabulous Ola Jordan.
Lisa Riley who used to play Mandy Dingle in Emmerdale is also appearing. I love her, and she’s timed this well because recently I’ve been wondering where she’d gone. She’s dancing with Robin Windsor, who also seems lovely. I rate all the dancers on their personalities, btw. Any pro can perform a step-ball-change.
There’s also a young actress called Dani Harmer, who’s famous amongst tweens for playing Traci Beaker in the CBBC adaptation of Jacqueline Wilson’s books of the same name. I know nothing else about her but she’s cute, sassy and dancing with Vincent Simone, which is always a good thing. Vincent’s probably my joint second favourite of the guy dancers, tied with Robin and James. I don’t fancy any of them. I just want to state that overtly, OK?
Finally- and ohmygod I am so excited- JERRY FUCKING HALL IS ON THE SHOW. Look at her! She’s hoping “to inspire a lot of drag queens.” She stands like a supermodel and talks like that even when the cameras aren’t focusing on her. She is the campest thing ever. I fear (hope) her dance partner Anton du Beke has met his match. They’ll never win, but it is our duty to keep this couple in for as long as possible. Camp gold.
The Celebs, BBC ad courtesy and copyright BBC
Favourites So Far:I love them all! One of the reasons Strictly is my favourite show is because of the sportsmanly nature of the competition each season. Unlike some reality competitions, Strictly seems to foster a lot of camaraderie between its entrants with even the mal-coordinated cheering loudly and applauding the more talented competitors, and vice versa. The 2012 crew seem, after one heavily edited hour’s viewing, to be an especially nice bunch.
But if I have to choose… Jerry Hall. She’s my spirit animal. But not Anton du Beke, if I’m honest. This is a man who openly wants to be the next Bruce Forsyth. No.
Lisa Riley and Robin Windsor. I doubt they’ll win but they seem so lovely. Also, Lisa’s sparkly blue dress. Yes.
Denise van Outen and James Jordan. Granted, he’s mouthy which can put people off but James is very, very talented but has never been teamed with anyone good enough to make the final. Denise might be the girl with the goods. And it would really piss off mean judge Craig Revel-Horwood if James won.
Louis and Flavia. He’s an Olympic gymnast and she’s Flavia. Put money on them.
Kimberley and Pasha. Likely to be a favourite couple with all members of the general public, with men who’ve previously not shown any interest in the show being brought round by Kimberley’s charms. I tried to find a less sleazy way to phrase that. We all know what I mean.
That’s 4 and a half couples of the twelve who are entered. Never ask me to make such a decision again.
Least Favourites: Not doing this bit. It’s mean. Besides which, I almost always change my mind about the ones I think are idiots after a few weeks.
Quotes of the Night:“Chubbers can move.” - Lisa Riley. Yes, ma’am. I so want her to prove mean Craig R-W, who has already managed to be mean about her and James Jordan before they’ve even danced, wrong.
“I’m hoping to inspire a lot of drag queens.” - Jerry Hall. Lady, I salute you. It’s a totally realistic expectation.
Strictly Come Dancing is back from Friday 5th October
Alisande has finally succumbed to the charms of Twitter. Celebrate my following her! @AlisandeF