Strictly Come Dancing 2012 – Before they start

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!

9 thoughts on “Strictly Come Dancing 2012 – Before they start

  1. The new girl is called Karen Hauer, and she’s danced with Pasha (and possibly Artem) before, in the stage show Burn The Floor.

    Dani did Lets Dance for Comic/Sports Relief, and wasn’t terrible, and I’d be surprised if nerves get to her. I’m also not sure Kimberly will suffer with them, as she’s been doing Shrek on stage. I do think Victoria will be nervous, and whether or not she can cope will depend which pro she gets. Denise could either be fantastically entertaining, or really annoying, and that is going to depend on the pro partner too. I think if she gets someone like James who won’t take her too seriously she might come over better.

    Really looking forward to seeing Louis, he’s got a music background, and auditioned for the X Factor a few years back, so his inclusion has the added bonus of probably annoying Simon Cowell 🙂 Michael Vaughan I have some hopes for – he’s got a very dry sense of humour so he could be very good value. Colin I suspect will be lovely and elegant but probably not so great at fast latin. Jerry could either go out the first week or be another Pamela, which I think will come down to whether she throws herself into the whole thing or seems a bit embarrassed by it all.

    Hope they don’t stick Lisa with Anton, would be good to see her dance properly and see what she can do. This means Fern will probably be stuck with him, which is a bit of a shame as she was ok in the Christmas special.

    Wow, that was more of an essay that I thought. I may be quite excited for Saturday 🙂

  2. I forgot about Kimberley doing stage work too, that should help her enormously. I also forget who has already done a bit of dancing in the specials and things so my post is very uneducated. I need you, Lisa 🙂

  3. or as Mr C refers to her, the third most attractive one

    technically, being the 3rd most attractive one, also makes her the 3rd least attractive one.

    that said, aside from the dancers, she is the only one remotely worth paying any attention to this year. it’s not a young persons season at all, is it.

  4. Ha! I knew my encyclopaedic knowledge of Strictly would come in handy one day. I am at your service 🙂

    I’m not sure about that, Mr C – Dani is clearly a contestant for the younger viewers, and Louis, Nicky and Kimberly are also aiming at younger fans. Part of the problem is that the audience for the show is older, so it’s never going to aim hard at the teenie group – that will go to X Factor and the BBC get yelled at if they compete too hard. I think it’s a nicely balanced group this time, there are enough contestants at the younger end that we should see some good dancing but it’s not loaded with people the core audience won’t have heard of. They will never get a lineup which will make everyone happy, not on what they can afford to pay, anyway!

  5. Usually the first thing I do with Strictly is try to figure out who Anton will get stuck with. Like Lisa I came up with it being either Lisa Riley or Fern Britton.

    It looks like the usual selection of sports people, soap stars, musicians and morning TV presenters. They need to find some different groups to source people from to get some variety. They are in danger of every series blending into the next.

    Who is Paul Hollywood by the way?

  6. What other groups should they be looking at, though, Steven? We’ve had serious journalist (Sargeant), politicians (Currie, Widdecombe), WAGs (Jo Wood, Nancy Delusional). Sports people who are actively competing are unlikely due to time pressures, and the risk of injury (Jade Johnson). Big name stars are too expensive for the BBC, and there’s not much in it for them if there’s the chance they won’t be any good. They tend not to use people who have done loads of other reality, or at least they did until recently, and I don’t think it would be popular with anyone if they go down the ‘famous for being famous’ road.

    I have always found that it matters less what groups the contestants come from, as long as we get some genuine characters. Pamela Stevenson was a left field choice, and while she wasn’t universally popular, she was interesting. Alesha was a washed up pop singer who wasn’t *that* famous to start with, but she won people over by genuinely enjoying herself. Rachel Stevens on the other hand was probably better known and technically a better dancer but could not bring any real personality to anything, which is probably why she didn’t win. Kara Tointon was far from a household name, but it was really interesting to watch how she worked around her dyslexia to learn, and the producers lucked into the chemistry with her and Artem. Mark Ramprakash and Darren Gough both became completely different people on the dance floor and I’m not sure anyone expected what we got from Russell Grant last year. It was easy to write him off as a joke act, but he really did try to dance at least some of the time, and he was always fun to watch.

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