Tx: 10th September 2011
Hurrah and huzzah! Strictly Come Dancing returns for another series! Our intrepid celebrities and pros will be entertaining us right up until Christmas and we will be here to mock all their endeavours.
As always, the show is marshalled, if you can call it that, by Bruce and Tess. However, there has been a grave development over the close season of Strictly. Bruce finally has his knighthood, because apparently the Queen got bored with Tess's constant entreaties. If you'd forgotten this little piece of news, bitches, don't worry - the show will remind you of this on a regular basis.
So, after the montage of the celebrities' red-carpet entrance (in which, inevitably, everyone is fake-tanned to within an inch of their lives and barely recognisable, Alex Jones is adorably excited about seeing Jason Donovan, and the crowd are entreated to chant "Sir Brucie!"), it's time to enter the ballroom for a pro dance to 'Born This Way'. Anton is trying to look sultry while doing Fosse-esque movements with his top hat. That is all you really need to know.
Alan Dedicoat announces SIR BRUCE FORSYTH and Tess Daly (dressed in a canary-yellow jumpsuit which gapes worryingly at the sides of her bosom), who descend the stairs and welcome us to this series. Tess, naturally, takes the opportunity to declare once more that Bruce is now a knight of the realm, and Bruce, I suppose to his credit, self-mockingly says he'd have never have mentioned it if she hadn't. Bruce dances; Tess shouts: "Save yourself!" Has she been borrowing Russell Grant's crystal ball? Is she warning us away? Later on, we will have a special guest appearance from Dolly Parton, the queen of country (though Julianne Hough may disagree). [I make a virtue of never paying attention to anyone named Hough. - Steve]
Enough of this. We want celebrities. And we have them; there's only one of them I haven't heard of this year, and I suspect Steve is familiar with her work, so all in all it's a good crop of famous people. And here they are: star of stage and screen Jason Donovan; Chelsee Healey (no idea) [gasp! She is Janeece, sassy secretary to Amanda Burton and the undoubted star of Waterloo Road. - Steve]; impressionist Rory Bremner (a graduate of King's College London, like me); Lulu and her entirely new face; boxer Audley Harrison; this year's Tory bint but certainly not a virgin Edwina Currie; McFly's Harry Judd; The One Show's Alex Jones; astrologer and former narrator in The Rocky Horror Show Russell Grant; actress and pop star Holly Valance; sports presenter and former tennis player Dan Lobb (NB: he worked at Sky when I worked there, and we universally referred to him as Lovely Dan. I adore him); the legend that is Anita Dobson; football player and pundit Robbie Savage; and Sven-shagger Nancy Dell'Olio.
Len makes the now-traditional joke of being excited, and that's not very easy at his age. YES OK LEN WE GET IT YOU ARE OLD AND HAVE ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION PLEASE TO STOP TALKING ABOUT IT NOW KTHXBAI. Craig confesses to a penchant for Lovely Dan (hooray!); he'd like to dance with him, or alternatively with Harry. Bruce then makes the first "Craig, you MINCE! You're a BIG GAY! Ewwww!" joke of the series. Seriously? A knighthood for this shit? And you keep it in the edited pre-recorded show? For shame, BBC.
They are our celebrities, but they need partners. And now they shall get them. Harry does a VT and does at least admit that he did the Strictly Children in Need special. Still, that won't stop all the "ringer" accusations. Lovely Dan talks about his dance experience: to wit, inventing the "shopping trolley" move while in a routine with Diversity. Robbie seems to be proud that he is "the most booked player of all time", and informs us that his hair and teeth are the most important things in his life. He is partnered with Ola. It is a flurry of beautiful blonde hair. Lovely Dan gets paired with Katya. Harry gets Aliona, who is inexplicably still employed after her terrible choreography last year. They got rid of Jared pretty sharpish, but this one's still in a job? Really? [As appalled as I am that Aliona (a) is still on this show and (b) somehow managed to get another contender to ruin, my favourite part of this whole sequence was Harry's "FUCK. Seriously?" look to the camera when he learned who his partner was. - Steve]
Speaking of getting rid of Jared, he's replaced by Pasha, who is gorgeous, I think we will all agree. [No argument here. - Steve] He gets the chance to show off his skills in a spotlight routine with all the lady pros to Ain't No Other Man.
Lulu talks about her immense career, which apparently she struggles to remember, but does not talk about her immense surgery. Chelsee does a really annoying VT where she talks about being single and wanting to meet men. Yeah, cos Strictly is packed with eligible straight men. Anita's achievements apparently include getting married. Ah, feminism - just something that happened to other people, according to Strictly. That husband, Brian May of Queen, is sitting in the audience with his immense grey perm. She's paired with Robin, who knee-slides over to her, and they both squeal and basically queen around. I think I am going to love them. Steve will probably hate them, because he hates Robin (homophobe). [I don't hate Robin, I just don't especially rate him. I am open to being proved wrong. - Steve] In the studio, Chelsee's bosom looks INCREDIBLE. What the hell kind of scaffolding is keeping those things up?! She gets Pasha, anyway, and looks pretty happy. Lulu gets Brendan and is really pissed off. [Hooray! - Steve] It's absolutely incredible. Brendan slings her over his shoulder and marches off.
Some VT footage of everyone in rehearsals for the group dance, notable for the following:
- Lulu is wearing a baseball cap;
- Lovely Dan is appalled by even the mention of flirting;
- Holly Valance likes sweaty men;
- Robbie Savage mocks Audley Harrison for his utter failure against David Haye;
- Jason Donovan dances by himself because if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.
In the studio, Jason is apprehensive, Russell has lost ten stone, and Robbie is nervous. Thanks, Tess!
Musical interlude - Dolly Parton, clad in fringed white bermuda shorts. and pinstriped top. No pro dancers accompanying her. That is all.
Russell tells us he used to wear gay jumpers. Really. That's what he says. He is not going to have a spray-tan. Audley's amateur career is focused on, and his pro career explained away with the claim that he is not that serious. Maybe you could have mentioned that before that multi-million pound Haye fight which ripped us all off. He talks about his heritage meaning he has natural rhythm. Wow, a 'natural rhythm' mention in the first show of the series, and from one of the contestants, not Len. Wouldn't have guessed that. Jason tells us he is rubbish at dancing, which is why he always had a guitar in his pop videos. He gets partnered with Kristina, who needs to use more tit-tape. Just sayin'. Rory does his Bruce impression on cue, and then gets paired with Erin. Obviously Audley is partnered with Natalie, as the tallest woman there, leaving little Flavia for Russell.
Another pro dance? Why, yes please! We begin Sweet Child O' Mine with a bit of caping - and Brendan is actually CAPING WITH NATALIE. Incredible.
Edwina talks about her "association with eggs" and says she has no skeletons in her cupboard because she's already released them all. I can't wait until Craig or Bruno make the first reference to her shagging John Major. Alex squeals girlishly about wanting to do better than Matt "TEN GIVE ME A TEN TEN TEN PLEASE TENS" Baker. She's paired with James (poor child), but they're not partnering off Edwina yet, just for the lolz and to torment Anton further.
Nancy is officially barking. She thinks she is the second-most famous Italian in the UK, after Sophia Loren. Bitch, Gino D'Acampo is more famous than you, and I had to look up his name. Holly does herself no favours by saying she likes being on the Sexiest Women lists in misogynist objectifying lads' mags, but wants to be further up the rankings than she is now. She gets partnered with Artem, which I'm sure Kara Tointon will be thrilled about (even Bruce makes a comment about it), while Nancy gets shoved in Anton's direction, leaving Edwina to dance with Vincent. I'm not sure who to feel sorriest for. Probably Vincent, I think. He's done nothing to deserve it, although at least Edwina is a known quantity - Nancy seems totally off the wall. [Nancy is going to be AMAZING, and I will brook no argument on this. - Steve]
So Vincent and Flavia seem to have drawn the short straws partner-wise; I'm speculating that this is because they need to have lots of time to work on an epic Argentine tango for the end of the series. [Also, the three pros who made top three last year got the three people who had the best pre-series odds. Just saying. - Steve] Still, we can judge better after the group dance, which is always a clusterfuck. Lovely Dan is laughing in an adorable fashion; Nancy seems to be struggling to walk in a straight line; Jason is working really hard but his concentration shows and he doesn't seem to be enjoying it that much (and also has to haul Nancy out of his way at one point); Holly looks good; Edwina and Nancy seem to be trying to have some kind of bitch-off; Anita stands out because she has a lovely smile, is obviously enjoying dancing, and her hair is great. She could be this series' Pamela Stephenson. She even has a HUSBAND.
And that's it. Bruce promises us the best series ever, as he does every year, but we must wait three weeks until it gets going - it's a double Strictly special on Friday 30th September and Saturday 1st October. Let us know in the comments who your favourites are and who you think will win (not necessarily the same thing, as we are all well aware); and follow us on Twitter at @tellybitching (or you can follow us both individually at @carriesparkle and @stevenperkins). We'll see you in three weeks, and until then - keeeeeeeeeeep dancing!