Sunday, 12 September 2010

Season 8 Launch Show: the secrets revealed!

So we've had the first show of the 2010 series. I presume this is the BBC's attempt to give us a wee taster in order to re-ignite our enthusiasm for the show so that by the time the shows start proper on 1st October.

I'm still feeling a bit battered and bruised from the way the producers have ridden roughshod over so much of what, and who I like about the show, so it's going to take more than that.

Having taken away no less than 5 of my favourite dancers, they then insult my intelligence by trying to get me to believe that the celebrities had no idea who their partners were going to be before the show started. That'll be why they all ended up with their actual partners at the end of their group dance, then.

And then there were no opening titles. And the screen went totally blank at the start of the show, leading to my friend Elspeth and I madly texting each other, thinking our tellies were broken. But of course there were no titles - cos they have the couples' names, on, silly. Sometimes I wonder about myself! 

But lets not dwell to much on those sorts of things. There is a nice new set, and Tess's area is no longer the cosy, plush, secluded backstage place it used to be. She now has a glass tower which overlooks the dance floor. It's a bit like a fancy cocktail bar rather than the. Its positioning kind of ruins the idea of it being a secret place, away from the audience and the judges, where contestants spill out their private thoughts or cry when Craig's been mean to them. This new place is a wee bit too sophisticated for me.

The Judges were all there, Alesha looking as if she was wearing nothing other than newly straightened hair. I'm glad they're all back, but, for goodness sake, what was the point in asking them to comment on the newly formed partnerships without seeing them dance? And even after a year, I miss Arlene.

The show started with a group dance from the professionals. I'm not convinced it went as smoothly as it was supposed to be as there seemed to be a bit of faffing around at the top right of the screen.

Then the contestants made their entrance. A few of the girls, Tina O'Brien and Pamela Stephenson notably, came very gingerly down the stairs. Hard to think that if they stay in until the end, they'll be using them as part of their dance routines. It's always interesting how they are actually introduced. Screen siren was the term used for Patsy Kensit. I knew she was in Holby, but I thought she provided more than the ambulance noise.... And Miss Widdecombe got her full title, The Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe. It'll certainly play up the comedy value.

So it was down to the real business of the night - revealing the couples who will be entertaining us until Christmas.

The disappointing thing for me is that having mucked around with so many things that we fans were quite happy with, so many of the pairings were incredibly predictable. 

Erin got an aging sportsman, and this one's called Peter as well. Aliona was paired up with another TV presenter, Natalie was given another soap actor. James has the middle aged lady.  Mix it up a bit, for goodness sake. I am annoyed that Erin has yet again been given somebody who might last until mid season if we're lucky.

In full, here are the new couples:

MIchelle Williams and Brendan Cole - I loved Michelle's attitude - she seemed very enthusiastic and genuine. Brendan is clearly delighted. This partnership has the potential to captivate us.

Patsy Kensit and Robin Windsor - she didn't seem too comfortable with herself last night, very self conscious. Let's hope Robin can get her into the groove or she'll be going fairly quickly. She'll have to watch that she doesn't become one of those bland mid table people who don't attract votes and who go when people are trying to save the people at the bottom.

Tina O'Brien and Jared Murillo - they don't come much cuter than the sweet blonde actress and the ex High School Musical dancer. The candy floss couple!

Pamela Stephenson and James Jordan - this has the potential to be funny, fiery and fantastic. Let's hope they don't get the Samba (James' dance of doom) for a long time.

Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev - they put her in an Argentine Tango style dress for the first show and she wore it well. I don't know enough about either of them to really predict what they'll be like. One to watch, though, given her previous experience.

Felicity Kendal and Vincent Simone - I think this pairing could be excellent as long as it goes beyond the usual Vincent sleaze. It has potential comedy value and if he can unleash her sensual, darker, side, they could really make an impact.

Ann Widdecombe and Anton Du Beke - he obviously knew. He doesn't normally bare his chest to that extent so early in the season. I'm clearly going to have to keep the launch show on my Sky + box because I'm probably not going to see much more of it. I'm just praying to the gods I don't think exist that they have the waltz rather then the cha cha for the opening show.  Personality wise, I think that they'll get on. She'll like his suits and his humour. He'll like the banter that will no doubt develop between them as she tells him what she thinks. She knows it's not all about the dancing - although she is going to have to put a bit of work in. I like her attitude - she has a refreshing amount of perspective about the whole thing. 

Now that she's bagged my favourite dancer, who, for all his many faults, rarely fails to make me laugh, she'll have my unqualified support for the duration.

Gavin Henson and Katya Virshilas - I love her, can't stand him. Let's see how this pans out. Andrew is quite taken with Mr Henson, so I'd better be nice in case he makes good his Twitter threat to fall out with me.

Peter Shilton and Erin Boag - well he kind of looked like he was made for the wrong side of that study on the BBC about the link between good dancing and male health. Having said that, the study is clearly nonsense given that the man's had a career in football which requires a certain amount of fitness.  Fingers crossed that they don't go too soon.

Goldie and Kristina Rihannof - this could be quite a gutsy, gritty partnership if he can dance. 

Jimi Mistry and Flavia Cacace - I hope he's got enough time to put the training hours in. Otherwise the dangers of the mid table await

Matt Baker and Aliona Vilani - Matt has a background in gymnastics, so should be co-ordinated and flexible enough. I wasn't impressed with Aliona's grumpiness and lack of bonding with Rav last year so we'll see if she's got any better this year.

Paul Daniels and Ola Jordan - poor, poor Ola. I guess she was due for someone who couldn't win, but this was going a bit too far. Enough said.

Scott Maslen and Natalie Lowe I reckon they could be quite a good couple. Natalie won a lot of friends last year when she partnered Ricky Whittle to the final.

The reveals were punctuated with another professionals dance - to Two Tribes, which had Vincent and Flavia flying in on a wire. Very good.

We also had the three new boys doing a swishy swashy paso doble type thing. 

And the professional dance troupe, with Ian and Darren in it. Darren without Lilia was just wrong. Strictly without Lilia is even wronger. Their routine was ok, but the same sort of standard as the professional dances we've always had. The whole project is a net loss, I'd say.

All the contestants did a brief group dance at the end which confirmed that Patsy needs to get rid of her inhibitions, Pamela thankfully doesn't seem to have found any since the 1980s and Felicity can really move very gracefully. I thought it was very good given that they haven't actually started their proper training yet. The choreography was simple, with the professionals doing most of the hard work, but it didn't look at all bad.

One of the things I'm most looking forward to is Billy Connolly being around. Can you just imagine Billy and Claudia on ITT?  

I shall keep you posted with any little morsels of gossip from the training rooms which come our way over the next few weeks. 


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