2012 Premiere: 15th September 2012
After months of fevered speculation, most of which involved people saying "Nicky from Westlife and Kimberley from Girls Aloud" over and over again, we finally got confirmation of the Strictly Come Dancing 2012 cast earlier this week, which led to a chorus of "yes, I thought so" and the occasion "hang on, who?" But, as we all know by now, that is only half the story, because the pro dancer you're paired with can make all the difference to your potential success, just like it was all Hayley Holt's fault that Mark Foster didn't win series six, as he made a great point of telling everyone who went to see the tour this year. So tonight we have the now-obligatory gala launch event in which the celebrity contestants make their official debut and discover which professional dancer they're about to get very intimate with, and the pros all attempt to perfect those "surprised" faces they've been working on since series eight. Except Ola, because we all know she mastered it ages ago.
As ever, we are at Television Centre, and there is so much glitter and fake tan on display that I would recommend everyone who watched this books themselves in for an eye test at their earliest convenience, because I suspect we all just got a little bit blinder. Fern Britton is the first of this year's crop of celebs that we see, and she appears to be trying a little bit too hard to look excited, but then she's already got a Christmas special under her belt, so this is probably all old hat as far as she's concerned. Denise Van Outen tells us that she has sequins, lashes and big earrings, so she's in an Essex girl's dream. Or, as I understand it, an Essex girl's everyday life. Colin Salmon casually mentions that he was in a Bond film, the way that people who didn't actually have particularly big parts in blockbuster films tend to do. Dani Harmer notes that Jerry Hall's legs are taller than her, and also more famous than she is. (Okay, that last part might have just been me.) Jerry, in turn, says that she's inspired lots of drag queens across the world, and that makes me hope that someone impersonates her for Snatch Game on the next series of RuPaul's Drag Race. Richard Arnold comments on the other, more famous, people because that's his day job. Johnny Ball is 74. Nicky Byrne looks a bit crazed. Kimberley Walsh thinks she's been "well and truly Strictly-fied". She has also been dressed in such a fashion that her tits look amazing, if I may say so. Also, her hair takes up almost half of the screen. I think it might even get its own credit in the opening titles. Some really tall bloke says "fabulous", and I have to ask my boyfriend who he is; it turns out he is Michael Vaughan and he is a cricketer. Then Darcey Bussell reminds us all that she's on the panel this year by running up to the other judges and hooting that she's so excited, and I may as well repeat here what I said when I first heard she's landed the job: I thought she was a pretty hopeless judge on her brief guest stint in series seven, but that being parachuted in at such a late stage didn't really leave her with a lot to do, so I'm willing to start with a clean slate and evaluate her as though she is a brand-new judge. That's fair enough, right? Bruce interviews that it's all very well having a new judge, but why only one? As ever with Bruce, it's hard to tell what's a joke and what's the gradual advance of senility. Louis Smith says that he and Victoria Pendleton are naturally competitive, and Victoria has brought along her Olympic gold medals to show everyone, which I'm sure Carrie will be delighted about. I know I loved it. Lisa Riley is having a ball. Sid Owen thinks "it's definitely on". The pros dance across the red carpet and parade through the part of Television Centre where everyone waits for their taxis (see, you need a former insider like me for detail like that), bearing Tess aloft, then the routine advances through what's left of The Star Bar and the Audience Entrance, and there is some choreographed comedy as the pros help Darcey out of a taxi while James slams the door in Craig's face and Craig pouts.
Finally, after all of that nonsense, we're in the ballroom where we belong, and the pros finish off their routine, and I notice that Kristina's hair is really long this year. Also, someone appears to have written lyrics to the show's theme tune, and I hope this means that someone from the cast is going to record it and release it as a single. Especially if that person is Natalie Lowe. If anyone is interested, Pasha is now paired with Aliona while Artem has new girl Karen Hauer, and the rest of the pairings are unchanged (so Vincent/Flavia, James/Ola, Anton/Erin, Brendan/Natalie, and Robin/Kristina). I miss Katya already. The judges enter down the stairs at the back of the set, with Craig and Darcey coming down the stairs stage left, and Bruno and Len on the right, and finally Bruce and Tess make their entrances in time-honoured fashion. Well, almost: this time Bruce attempts to kick his leg up and Tess attempts to catch it. I can only assume that the insurance required for those three seconds of business must have required the show's budget to be increased significantly this year.
This seems like as good a time as any for our first Daly Dresswatch of the series, and dare I say it's not that bad: it's a floor-length number, belted around the waist, with a sort of curvy black silhouette with lighter parts at the sides. It's very flattering, anyway, or at least it is when Tess remembers to stand up straight. Bruce attempts further comedy by pretending to forget the "nice to see you..." part of the proceedings, but again it's one of those moments where far too many of us are worried that it's real for it to be truly funny. The comedy continues as Bruce pretends to have trained Mo Farah and Usain Bolt in the Olympics - not at running, but in the art of a well-honed arm pose. As is often the way on this show, everybody gets the joke about a minute before the actual punchline comes, but I'm sure we wouldn't have it any other way.
After that, it's down to business. 14 celebrities are waiting backstage to see who they'll be partnered with this year, and we can also look forward to some dance showcases and a group routine from this year's celebs. There's also Mika, but let's try not to think about that.
Then it's time to meet the stars of our show, all of whose intros I shall transcribe verbatim for posterity: from Girls Aloud, Kimberley Walsh (that just reeks of "will this do?", doesn't it?); Irish pop royalty, Westlife's Nicky Byrne (especially when that's the sort of intro they're giving to one of the world's most boring men); TV presenter Fern Britton (who trips over one of the steps on her way down); Olympic gymnast Louis Smith (who does a little shimmy on his way down the stairs and goes straight on to my list of favourites for this year); star of CBBC's Tracy Beaker, Dani Harmer (what, no mention of After You've Gone?); EastEnders star Sid Owen (also doing a little shimmy, although only from the chest upwards, so no place on my favourites list for him); Olympic cycling star Victoria Pendleton (with a set of abs arguably more impressive than Natalie's or Erin's); showbiz reporter Richard Arnold (looking a bit sheepish); star of stage and screen Denise Van Outen (about as appropriate a description as it was for Jason Donovan last year, I suppose); cricket legend Michael Vaughan (could not be less memorable if he tried); soap star Lisa Riley (what about all those years she presented You've Been Framed?); TV boffin Johnny Ball (looking legitimately thrilled to be here, bless him); Hollywood star Colin Salmon (AHAHAHAHAHA); and finally, supermodel and actress Jerry Hall (taking a leisurely walk down the stairs and milking it for all she's worth).
Tess says that the contestants will now have three weeks to practice before the first live show on 5th October (mark that in your diaries!) but tonight there's no voting and no scoring, just the pairing up of partners. Bruce then welcomes the returning judges, Craig, Len and Bruno, and adds that there's a new face on the panel: "once again, over the summer Craig had some work done." Ba-doom-tish! No, it is of course Darcey Bussell, who slightly overdoes the "who, me?" humility when everyone applauds. Bruce tells Darcey that he loves the bit of the ballet where the dancers go up on their tiptoes and asks what that is called. She sighs "being en pointe" back at him, clearly already unenthused at being the straight man in one of Bruce's comedy bits (I imagine they don't put that in the job description) and Bruce, of course, goes straight into "what do points make?" Oh dear.
Bruce asks Len for his thoughts on this year's line-up, and Len claims this is the first time he knew all of the celebrities when the line-up was announced. This makes me wonder exactly how much time Len spends watching The Story Of Tracy Beaker on the CBBC channel. He thinks it's great that we've got some hunky guys and some gorgeous girls. He doesn't mention how exciting it is that we have two SPORTSMEN (and a SPORTSWOMAN), but I suppose he's got to save something to get excited about in October. Tess asks which of the contestants have got Bruno's blood pumping, and he deadpans "are you kidding?" back at her, because after ten series this is really not the sort of thing we need to be told any more. He says that he is THROBBING to the point of hyperventilation and he can't wait to see Victoria, Denise and Kimberley doing a raunchy rumba or a saucy salsa. And he also can't wait until Louis gets his shirt off, I'm guessing. Tess asks Craig how he's feeling about the cast, and he says he's looking forward to this lot - especially Richard. Richard, still looking slightly shamefaced, vamps it out with a little shimmy, and gets a whoop from the audience for his trouble. Finally, Darcey's opinion is sought and after some tedious "everyone's a winner" stuff about what an excitingly diverse cast it is, she admits to being excited about Jerry Hall and those legs.
There follows a tribute for our fabulous singers, Dave Arch, and his wonderful, wonderful orchestra. I know, right? First Tess turns up dressed presentably, and then Bruce gets his commas in the right place. This is like watching Bizarro-Strictly. Anyway, it's time to pair up our first three female contestants: Fern, Dani and Victoria. Although if you didn't know who Dani was going to be paired with the second her casting was announced, then it's like I don't even know you. In Fern's intro video, she tells us that she's been on TV since 1980, which makes this her 33rd year, "which is odd, because I'm only 24." Heh. She says that her dance experience is limited (Christmas special notwithstanding) but back in her 20s she had to do a tap dance on local TV. She says that doing the Christmas special clued her into the joy of dancing, and now she can't wait for the pleasure of the full experience. I hope that everything she says throughout her run on the show is a vague double entendre like that, because it makes my job so much easier.
Dani's intro is essentially a shrug to the people who didn't already know who she was, saying that "your kids definitely will", and presumably she's here to bring in that all-important Younger Demographic, and possibly also get a part in Waterloo Road or Holby City. Dani says that she started playing Tracy when she was 12, and that if Tracy found out she was doing Strictly, she'd probably say "bog off", which is apparently one of her catchphrases. Of course, all of that would be conditional on her, y'know, not being fictional. She also mentions having done five series of a CBBC sitcom called Dani's House, which I'm fairly certain I've seen a few times when I've been off work, but can remember very little about. She's nervous about doing Strictly because she's never done ballroom before. I hope that means her Latin's going to be AMAZING.
Victoria Pendleton won gold at the Beijing Olympics and indeed at London 2012. I love how all the shots of her at the start of her intro have her clutching her gold medals. I hope she treats them like a security blanket and that she insists on continuing to clutch them throughout every routine. She says that she thinks a lot of people will picture her crying, and does a Miranda-style look to the camera saying "I do get quite emotional" with the air of someone whose main emotion is uncontrollable rage. Despite having been called "Queen Victoria" in the press, she doesn't think she'll be queen of the dancefloor, but she vows to take it very seriously.
Back in the studio, Bruce is with Fern, and it's time to see which of the seven male pros she'll be paired with this year. The camera pans down all of the male pros to remind us what they all look like and OH MY GOD PASHA WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO YOUR HAIR? This is terrible. It's all shaved down the sides but still long on the top and greased back like Professor Green's. I mean, I know his old look wouldn't last forever because it was a bit of a 12-year-old boy's haircut, but this was not the way to go. Oh, Pasha. We really need to talk. Anyway, back to business: Fern's partner is...Artem Chigvintsev. Fern looks thrilled, and Artem races across and puts his arm around her, gingerly lifting her into the air. This is an interesting assignment, because given that Artem was paired with Nancy Dell'Olio on the tour, I assumed they were grooming him to have a comedy contestant in the near future (and to be fair, he played the role of the long-suffering partner very well), so does this mean that Fern is a comedy contestant? I thought she might be the Inspirational Older Lady. I guess we'll see. Fern declares it's "like Christmas" and Bruce reminds her that she can't take him home with her, to which Fern replies "no, but it's like a library book - I can take him out for a bit, can't I?" I have a feeling I'm going to like her.
Artem leads Fern off, and we move to Dani, who is clearly getting Vincent because she's so tiny, so let's not even bother to pretend otherwise. Dani is very happy to get Vincent, and Bruce calls her "a lovely little sweetheart" because I think he genuinely thinks she's 12. Dani and Vincent head off, and Victoria sprints right over. Bruce attempts to read his joke off his cue card while she stares at him with barely-concealed disdain. I love her already. She'll be partnered with...Brendan Cole! I predicted they'd be paired together, and I'm thrilled - fingers crossed Brendan goes back to being the Bad Boy Of Ballroom and they spend their whole time sticking two fingers up at all the other couples behind their backs while twirling their moustaches and tying Tess to the railway tracks. Brendan declares himself "the luckiest guy in Great Britain" right now and taps Victoria's abs meaningfully.
Bruce asks Len what he makes of the first three couples, and Len is very excited about all of them. He's clearly been working on these lines for weeks, but he's also been honing his delivery and it's masterful. Oh, and since I've only just noticed: Len is no longer sitting next to Craig, because Darcey is in between them. Presumably this means Len will be picking fights with Bruno rather than Craig this year, as logistics dictate.
From there, we go into a montage of all the contestants arriving to meet each other for the first time, wearing Brucie masks to avoid being identified by the paparazzi (a plan that failed demonstrably, but points for effort). They troop into a room where the pros are waiting, and then the celebrities removes their masks and everyone totally pretends to recognise everyone else. Victoria is particularly excited about meeting Jerry Hall. Louis is scared. Kimberley hugs Victoria (SHOWMANCE!). They do a little showcase of their abilities for each other: some juggle, while Fern does the splits and Louis does some flips. Richard and Johnny plot to take him down the pub, get him "on the ale" and firmly out of shape.
Back in the ballroom, Tess is up in the Tess Circle with the celebrities, and gets Dani to recreate her pelvic thrust of victory that she gave off-camera in response to having been allocated Vincent as a partner. Tess asks Richard if there are any rivalries forming yet, and he says that he doubts anyone's particularly worried about him as a rival right now because earlier on he was discussing which dances he was looking forward to with Denise, and she had to remind him that American Hot is a pizza, not a dance. Then Victoria is asked if she's excited to get back into training after having just retired from cycling, and she is, though she's worried about remembering all the steps. Tess asks Fern about that split we saw in the video, but Fern cautions that it was more of a demi-split.
And with that, we go into a pro routine, led by Artem and Karen, to Jennifer Lopez's 'On The Floor'. You may or may not know that Karen, like Artem and Pasha (and to a lesser extent Aliona) joins us from the US version of So You Think You Can Dance, where my boyfriend reliably informs me that she was on season six (a season I did actually watch, but rather unfortunately I didn't start until the week after she was eliminated), where she finished 12th and was up for elimination pretty much every time she was eligible to be, but the judges loved her and always talked about how sexy she was. And she looks like an even skinnier, somewhat goofier version of Nicole Scherzinger. So there you have it. The routine is very showy and aerial, and I'm fairly rubbish at describing dance when it's a big group number, so let's just skip ahead, shall we?
From there, we go to the first bunch of men: Sid, Nicky and Johnny. Impressively, Sid's intro does not attempt to ignore his ill-advised attempt at a pop career, and even goes as far as to refer to him as having been a "pop star", which I think is a little bit generous for someone who released one single which peaked at No.14. Anyway, it wisely reminds us that he's best known as RICKAAAAY, and that he gets that shouted at him in the street on a daily basis. He admits that he can't dance, and says that some EastEnders people have done the show and done really well. The Phil Daniels/Gillian Taylforth/Jessie Wallace pile-up of series seven is not acknowledged at this point.
Nicky immediately trots out all the statistics about how many hits singles Westlife had and how many copies they sold, because that's really all you have to fall back on when everyone knows your band was a bit rubbish. He cracks the obligatory joke about how the closest Westlife got to dancing was getting up off their stools during the key change, and he hopes the other boys will be voting for him.
Johnny Ball taught maths to the nation's kids for many years, but is now struggling to do the maths to figure out how long he's been in the business. I hope that was a comic bit and not a genuine struggle, because that's just heartbreaking otherwise. He's the oldest man ever to take part on Strictly, and while he doubts he can make top three like daughter Zoe, he vows to do his best.
Tess is in the studio with Sid, and he's going to be paired with...Ola Jordan! Both Sid and Ola seem fairly pleased by this turn of events, and then Nicky arrives with his shirt with the sequinned shoulder straps, which I rather like. Tess asks him how his dancing is, and he says that it's "non-existant". He'll be dancing with...Karen Hauer! She does a grinning shrug and skips down to him, all arms and legs. Tess declares them "hot", and Karen does a "careful, I might burn you" joke which doesn't really land, but hey, at least she tried. That leaves us with Johnny, who says that Zoe's been very happy and supportive for him. Still, I bet it'll be a strange feeling as Monday approaches and she has to think "I hope I don't have to see my dad today." Johnny's paired with...Aliona Vilani, who doesn't even pretend to give a shit. Amazing. At least certain corners of the internet can stop boring on about how ZOMG UNFAIR it is that she always gets the ringers now.
Tess turns to Bruno, who thinks the characters are brilliant this year, and he's hoping for stormy relationships from Ricky and Bia---sorry, Sid and Ola. He wants Karen to bring out the wild side of Westlife, and hopes that Johnny is going to be elegant.
Time for another video, this time of the celebs being trained for their first group routine by choreographer Karen Bruce, known affectionately to me and my boyfriend as Giant Lady. Lisa is impressed that she's been lifted off the floor, while Kristina and Karen are both fairly pleased with the levels of male totty this year. Colin impresses with his skill at lifting and Erin notes that she'd "like to keep him", while Louis reiterates that he wants to win and Victoria complains that she feels like "a big dough ball of uselessness". Kimberley and Richard establish themselves as captains of the booty-shake, and Jerry cusses out Michael for never being in his spot. Fern and Denise compare blisters, and Kimberley describes the routine fearsomely as "ambitious". Dani is looking forward to it, but thinks she's going to need a bath first, because she's been sweating.
Back in the Tess Circle, Tess asks Denise if she's been finding training difficult, and Denise says that she now has about 10 blisters on her feet, which is perhaps the hardest part. Jerry is asked who her ideal partner would be, and she drawls that she wants someone tall, handsome and with lots of stamina. She doesn't say who she'd settle for in the event that Captain America does not become available in time.
After that, we have a showcase performance from Darcey, who's dancing the American Smooth with Ian Waite. Hooray for Ian Waite! But boo for the routine being to fucking Adele, and for it looking more like a paso (or possibly a rumba) than a traditional American Smooth of the sort we're used to. Still, yes, it's lovely and Darcey is a very accomplished dancer, that goes without saying. I just don't know how I'm going to cope without Twitter erupting into "SACK ALESHA FOR HER BAD GRAMMAR AND LACK OF TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE" every five minutes, though. Also, it does feel slightly odd that the new judge gets more of a dancing showcase than the new professional dancer, but perhaps that's why I don't get to decide these things. Then it ends, and Bruce tells Darcey that she passed the audition, ho ho ho.
Time to pair up the four remaining ladies: Kimberley, Jerry, Lisa and Denise. Kimberley reels off Girls Aloud's achievements, which aren't quite as numerically impressive as Westlife's, but Girls Aloud actually made music that you'd want to listen to voluntarily, so I feel theirs was the moral victory. She thinks people will assume she'll be able to dance because of Girls Aloud and the fact that she had to do a big tap dance number as Princess Fiona in Shrek: The Musical, but she's never done ballroom before and that is, as pop stars are always at pains to remind us, a very different skill set. Kimberley says that the other girls are all very excited that she's doing the show, and that Cheryl forced her into it, so if it all goes wrong, she's blaming her, which means Cheryl will have to account for Kimberley's failure on Strictly AND Cher Lloyd. That's a lot of burden for those slim shoulders.
Lisa rose to fame playing Mandy Dingle on Emmerdale, obviously, and got naked for two years in the musical of Calendar Girls. She says that she wants to do the show "for all the chubbers out there" to prove that they can move too, and a particularly insensitive editor lines up One Direction's 'What Makes You Beautiful' to underscore this.
Jerry talks about beginning modelling at the age of 16 in Paris and being a part of the rock 'n' roll world with Mick Jagger and Bryan Ferry, including the memorable video for 'Let's Stick Together'. Jerry says that her children were amazed when they heard she was doing the show, and that her daughter's reaction was "Mom...aren't you kinda lazy?" If Jerry Hall was my mother, I would never be that sassy with her. With those long legs, I'd never be entirely sure I was out of kicking distance.
Finally, Denise Van Outen - "TV star and West End performer, and one of the original '90s ladettes". Denise vows that she's left that naughtiness behind her now because she is married to Leading Man Lee Mead and she's a mum. Denise tries to play down the concept that she's the ringiest ringer that ever rang by saying that in Chicago she was sat on a chair. Yes, Denise, for ONE SONG. The rest of the time, you did a lot of dancing, and you were very good. I know, because I came to see you. Seriously, if you want to downplay your West End experience, at least come up with a credible story. I would have gone for "I played the same part that Michelle Williams played". Denise is looking forward to learning proper dancing, and getting all the fake tan and sequins on.
Bruce is in the studio with Kimberley Walsh, and Kimberley's Hair, and Kimberley's Imposing Bosom. She'll be partnered with...Pasha Kovalev! My two main hopes for the partnerships of this series were Victoria and Brendan and Kimberley and Pasha, so I am a very happy man right now. Pasha and his awful new haircut shimmy across the floor to Kimberley at breakneck speed, and she declares herself happy with that outcome. Jerry is next, and she'll be dancing with...Anton Du Beke! After last year's adventures with Nancy, he is understandably thrilled. So that leaves Lisa with the choice of Robin and James, and while I hope against all hope she'll get James, she's paired with Robin. Robin slides across the floor so fast he nearly knocks her over, and lifts her up into the air. That means that Denise is with James, who's landed himself a contender for the eleventieth year in a row. Seriously, how many incriminating photos does this man have? Oh well, at least if I know from the outset that I'll probably have to put up with him for an entire series, I can brace myself for it.
Bruce asks Craig if he can see any potential there, and Craig says he thinks Kimberley and Pasha have the potential to be dynamic and explosive, and then jokes that Jerry must be disappointed because she was after someone tall and handsome with lots of stamina, and she got Anton. Well, I'd argue that anyone who made it to sixth place with Widdy must have more stamina than the average man, but I can see how that would be subjective. He cattily wishes Lisa and Robin "good luck", and finishes by saying that he hopes Denise might get James to shut the fuck up this year. Fat chance: he'll be complaining that she's not being scored highly enough like he does with all his partners.
Up in the Tess Circle, Lisa is excited about what Robin will be able to do with those biceps, and Jerry is asked who'll wear the trousers in her relationship with Anton. She replies that she's "hoping he'll lead, but if not, we'll see." I think she pretty much just has one mode of speech - drawling with heavy irony - but hey, that works for me. Tess asks if there'll be girl band vs boy band rivalry between her and Nicky, and she laughs that they've never beaten Westlife before, so she's got to try.
Then we have a performance of Mika's new single. Mika is not relevant and he isn't even using the show's dancers, so that's all the recapping that he's getting.
After that, it's time to pair up the remaining men: Michael, Louis, Richard and Colin. Michael has captained England to more test match victories than anyone in history. Cricket cricket cricket cricket, says Michael. Michael is aware of the illustrious history of cricketers on the show thanks to Darren Gough and Mark Ramprakash, but he thinks he'll be more of the Phil Tufnell style of dancing. He thinks he'll be able to take the judges' criticism because he has faced so much of it already as a SPORTSMAN, and his favourite judge is Len. Yes, it would be.
Louis Smith won a silver medal on the pommel horse at London 2012 (for those of you who didn't watch the Olympics, let me just confirm that this is a gymnastic discipline and not an equestrian one) and he says that it was a massive experience for him, and the best feeling he's ever had in his life. He talks a bit about how important it is to look different in gymnastics (I don't really understand why, but I'm happy to take his word for it) and says that after getting a bronze and a silver, he's after a gold in Strictly. Although, isn't the trophy silver?
Richard Arnold has rubbed shoulders with the famous and influential as a showbiz reporter, and also done lots of daft things in the name of breakfast television. (Disclosure: he has also hosted a talk radio show on which I was a studio guest several times, so this is the first time that I've had to recap someone I actually know. I mean, we're not besties or anything like that, but we know each other to say hello to and our paths still cross professionally from time to time, so I shall try to remain as unbiased as possible in this rather unexpected situation.) His only experience of dancing was doing the hand-jive with Strictly alumnus Kate Garraway on Let's Drag Up For Sport And/Or Comic Relief, after which one of the judges called him "a tubby Shakin' Stevens". He's looking forward to being a part of Saturday night telly, which is fair enough.
"Renowned actor" Colin Salmon shot to fame in Prime Suspect before starring in "countless Hollywood movies". Countless, they are. Countless! He reels off a list of the very impressive people he has worked with, and says he's been very lucky. He thinks the public are used to seeing him being very serious, so he's looking forward to showing the lighter side of himself on the show. (Sidebar: I interviewed him a little while ago for a new show that he's got coming out in a month or so, and found him very likeable with a filthy sense of humour, so I'm really hoping that comes across on the show.) He says he knows he has rhythm, but whether he can learn to dance is another matter.
So we're back in the studio, and Michael's up first, telling Bruce that he retired from playing cricket because of his dodgy knee, and his foot movement was terrible when he batted, so he's off to an excellent start. He'll be partnered with...Natalie Lowe! That should make for some interesting conversations about the Ashes, I suppose. Next up is Louis, who says his dance moves aren't too sharp, so he's just going to try to have fun. He'll be dancing with...Flavia Cacace! After a year with Russell Grant, I don't think there are words for the feelings of relief she's experiencing right now. So that leaves Richard and Colin with Erin and Kristina, and Richard gets Erin, who cheers in a "yay! I only have to do a couple of weeks on the show and then I can become a regular on It Takes Two!" sort of way, and Richard gives her a big showbiz kiss. That pairs Colin with Kristina, which should be interesting because she's about half his size, so I'm wondering if we might be in for posture problems in the ballroom dances, but we shall see.
Bruce asks Len who stands out from everyone they've seen, and Len says that he's pleased they've got a celebrity dancer that's older than him for the first time - Johnny Ballroom. Bruno thinks it's an interesting line-up with something for everyone. Darcey can't wait to see Kimberley and Pasha because she thinks he'll be giving her a lot of passion on the dancefloor, while Craig thinks there's potential for disahhhhstah in all of them, particularly Jerry and Anton and Richard and Erin at this early stage.
And here's our first chance to see what they're capable of: it's the group dance! They're dancing to 'Don't Stop Me Now', and early signs suggest that Michael and Nicky will not be big on the performance front, while Kimberley shows potential and it seems everyone was right to be ringing their big ringer bells when they heard Denise was in the cast. Louis's lifts look promising, and Sid's dancing is a bit scary. Also, Lisa seems to have good rhythm, but I wouldn't bet on Johnny getting any high scores.
That's it! We'll be back in three weeks for the first live show. We're looking forward to it, and hopefully we'll see you then!