Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Sequins are Go - Couples for new series announced

Let's get that glitter ball dusted off and pull on our dancing shoes, cos it's that time of year again - the new season of Strictly Come Dancing is upon us!

I thought I'd revive this blog for this new series. I've tried the patience of my readers of Caron's Musings enough with copious postings about Formula 1, and I fear that I may lose some of them for good if I add too much Strictly to the mix, too.

Several of us across the Twitterverse have been awaiting the announcement of the participants for this year. And here they are.

The problem is that when you've had months of speculation about Fern Britton and Sharon Osbourne, a list that doesn't include them is bound to disappoint a little.

I'm pleased to say that I have actually heard of most of them. There's 5 sports people, and 5 soap stars to start with, so I'm fearing we're not quite going to have the diversity of previous years.

Anyway, let's have a look:

The Girls

Natalie Cassidy and Vincent Simone

The actress has the dubious honour of dancing with the occasionally sleazy Vincent Simone, who previously partnered her ex Eastenders colleague Louisa Lytton and last year got Rachel Stevens to the final. Since Natalie left EastEnders, she's done a fitness dvd which has led to her being stalked by the more pathetic elements of the press who think they have the right to take the mickey out of her weight at all times. There is comedy potential in this partnership and I suspect that Natalie will be able to dance having been co-ordinated enough for a fitness DVD and having been to stage school.

Lynda Bellingham and Darren Bennett

Lynda, of Oxo ad, All Creatures Great and Small (I'd forgotten she played Helen Herriot), Calendar Girls and Loose Women Fame. she should be around for quite a while even if she's not great at dancing on personality and support from her current tv audience. She also has a fantastic partner in Darren Bennett who will get the best out of her. Hopefully Darren will be around for much longer than he was last year with Jessie Wallace.

Zoe Lucker and James Jordan

Zoe's the first of the Footballers' Wives alumni to take to the floor in this series. She's interested in the Dalai Lama and his teachings. She might well need his calming influence given that she's been paired with fiery, grumpy James Jordan.

Martina Hingis and Matthew Cutler

Former tennis champion Martina follows in the footsteps of lucky women like Alesha Dixon, Carol Smillie and Christine Bleakley as Matthew's partner. I suspect that if she can dance, they'll go a long way.

Jade Johnson and Ian Waite

Another athlete for Ian Waite. Can he repeat his successful partnership with Denise Lewis of 5 years' ago with long jumper Jade?

Laila Rouss and Anton Du Beke

I'm quite excited that Anton hasn't been given the oldest contestant this time as he has for the past few years. This is a partnership with potential - let's hope Laila can dance.

Jo Wood and Brendan Cole

This partnership has disaster written all over it. Why take someone who's not used to being in the public eye in her own right, who's maybe not all that confident in her ability (as she said to 5 Live a few minutes ago) and give them to Brendan? Cruel and unusual punishment, surely? Surely Matthew, Brian or Darren would have made more sense? Brendan is not known for being kind to his partners - Clare King, Fiona Phillips and Sarah Manners all felt the sharp end of his tongue. He and Lisa Snowdon made the final last year, but unless he calms down a bit, their bid will be over before it really begins.

Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna

I don't know much about Ali apart from the fact that she used to be in Hollyoaks and is now in The Bill. She's lucky to have Brian as a partner, though - he was very good at dealing with Heather Small's nerves last year and probably kept her in for about 2 weeks' longer than she should have been.

The Boys:

Joe Calzaghe and Kristina Rihanoff

John Sergeant stayed in last year for much longer than his dancing ability merited, partly due to his own entirely lovable personality but partly down to the fun dance routines created by Kristina. This year, she's been rewarded with a young sportsman - but will he have the grace and elegance for the dancefloor. He's also popular - he beat Lewis Hamilton to Sports Personality of the Year in 2007. One to watch, and he'll get the Welsh vote.

Rav Wilding and Aliona VilaniWell, Crimewatch presenter Rav has been in the Army, the Police and survived 3 months on a desert island for a tv show. I wonder how he'll cope with the finesse of the ballroom and will his service background inhibit him from really letting go in the Latin?

His partner is Strictly newcomer Aliona Vilani, one of 3 new girls brought in to replace the departing Karen Hardy, Hayley Holt, who apparently found out by e-mail that her services were no longer required and Camilla Dallerup, the highly popular series winner from last year who left on her own accord.

Phil Tufnell and Katya Virshilas

No pressure, either, for ex cricketer and King of the Jungle Phil Tufnell as he has to defend a strong cricketing record. Darren Gough took series 3 by storm. He found himself unexpectedly being bitten by the dancing bug and went from the guy who danced an ungainly cha cha cha in episode 1 to the gentleman who danced an amazing foxtrot to Big Spender. He also won subsequent Christmas specials. Then there was Mark Ramprakash whose sultry Argentine Tango and hot, hot, hot salsa with Karen Hardy propelled him to the 2006 title.

Ricky Groves and Erin Boag

The actor who plays EastEnders' Garry Hobbs teams up with former finalist Erin. Erin will be after a victory after being robbed in the quarter final last year. I wonder if his ballet training as a youngster will help. He could be our unexpected gem.

Chris Hollins and Ola Jordan

Will Ola Jordan be able to whip BBC Breakfast Sports correspondent into shape? The programme has a proud record, with Natasha Kaplinksy winning and Bill Turnbull being something of a legend. No pressure, then........

Richard Dunwoody and Lilia Kopylova

Champion jockey Richard Dunwoody has been teamed up with Lilia Kopylova, who's had successful partnerships with Aled Jones, Matt Dawson and Darren Gough. She has had a good record with her sportsmen. Richard Dunwoody may be 45, but he's recently completed a 1000 mile charity walk, so he's fit.

Craig Kelly and Flavia Cacace

Can Flavia do a Matt Di Angelo with actor Craig, who to be honest I'd never heard of, but if he was in the highly acclaimed Queer as Folk, I'm hoping he'll be interesting.

Ricky Whittle and Natalie Lowe

I have to say I know precious little about either of these, not ever having watched an episode of Hollyoaks in my life, so let's hope they are in long enough to get properly aquainted with them. Natalie is a veteran of five series of Dancing with the Stars in Australia which Craig judges, so she's no stranger to what it's all about.

There are a couple of changes - this year it's not going to be girls in first show, boys in second - we're going to have a mixture, and for the first two weeks, there will be two shows, one on Friday, one on Saturday. I presume the idea behind the Friday show is to hook you in so you decide you'd much rather watch Strictly than the X Factor on the Saturday. We'll see.

It all kicks off on 19th September. I can't wait. Bring it on!

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