There have been lots of rumours about who would be participating in Strictly Come Dancing this year, and all I’ve heard for ages is people saying other people would like to do it. The best example was everyone’s favourite Master Baker Paul Hollywood pausing at all the “wrong” moments in conversation with Chris Evans. It was a fine example of the art of misdirection, which only became apparent yesterday when the celebrities were revealed.
Without seeing them on the dancefloor, without knowing who their partner is, with only a glimpse of half of them in sequins, here are my early thoughts on the celebrities we’re going to get to know much better in the coming months.
First up there are two Olympians. Fresh from medal-winning glory is cyclist Victoria Pendleton and gymnast Louis Smith. If we’re putting aside the actual desire to learn to dance and all that, I can understand why Pendleton wants to take part – she’s retired from cycling now so there’s only a downhill slope out of the public eye in the future. Smith confuses me slightly, he doesn’t seem like a dancer and he’s probably Britain’s best known male gymnast. In terms of ability, I would guess cycling is less prohibitive – you get to have strong legs and no muscles in the wrong places. Smith’s enormous arms might get in the way, but I can’t begin to imagine the lifts he could pull off.
The rhyming couplet of Jerry Hall and Johnny Ball make up the older contingent this year. Ball was probably convinced and/or inspired by his daughter’s previous appearance, plus her day to day involvement in last year’s It Takes Two. He’s part of my childhood so it’s a bit of a worry in case those cherished memories are ruined, but equally, it’ll be good to hear his voice again. Hall I know very little about, but she looks like she’ll be tenacious, to say the least.
Two women who I think will have less confidence are the Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh (or as Mr C refers to her, the third most attractive one), and Dani Harmer. These are people who sing, dance or act for a living, but are likely to succumb to nerves in the live environment. Nicky Byrne is another one of these, Westlife having given him confidence with the lungs, but perhaps not the feet. We’ll see. I’m rooting for Harmer, though. I do so love Tracy Beaker.
On the flip side, there’s Denise van Outen who is a musical veteran at this point. She must have the advantage at the outset, but we know that previous experience doesn’t always translate to the dancefloor. Nerves will likely affect her less, but it may also be a matter of untraining some West End habits.
Along with Jerry Hall, two unknowns for me are Richard Arnold and Michael Vaughan. I have at least heard of Hall and Vaughan, whereas Arnold is a mystery. GMTV presenters are not known for doing well, but someone somewhere has to break that chain, surely? Cricketers, meanwhile, do often fare quite well, so Vaughan has some big shoes to fill.
The traditional Eastenders appearance comes from Sid Owen. I give it five seconds before Brucie makes a joke about Bianca. Poor Sid must be trying to break away from that catchphrase that he doesn’t even get to say, but it’s going to be hard for him. On screen, he’s a lovable oaf, clumsy but cheeky, etc, etc. If he’s anything like that in real life, clumsy won’t help but personality will endear the nation.
The three oddities (for want of a better word) left are Fern Britten, Lisa Riley and Colin Salmon. The two ladies are sure to be caring and take everything to heart, whilst Salmon is a bit of an enigma. At this stage, I haven’t worked out who the obvious comedy element is. In previous years it has been clear from the outset who will be flying out of a cannon, but this year it is not immediately obvious to me. Perhaps that means they’ll be taking things more seriously? We can but hope.
In pro-dancer news, Katya Vershilas is gone to make way for someone else. I don’t remember anything particularly wrong with Katya, but it’s always nice to get some fresh blood in. The last time things were shaken up, we got the choreography genius that is Artem, so who knows what we’re in store for this year!