We’ve been delayed by a week but finally Strictly Come Dancing is up and running for 2022, and boy do we need a bit of sparkle in our lives right now, huh? If you take away the slightly dodgy overdubs where Tess had to reference ’tomorrow’ rather than ’next week’ it was the perfect show, proving as always that just because you only know one or two of the cast, you absolutely can’t judge what a year is going to be like based on their pictures alone.
We’ve got an incredible group of people from such different backgrounds, a variety of ages, two same-sex couples, and the wonderful Ellie Simmonds representing. And when the judges arrived, I forgot just how much I love Motsi’s brilliantly quirky ways.
Let’s have a quick rundown of our 15 nervous participants, in order of being paired up:
- Ellie Simmonds - love her and have followed her swimming career for ages. I guessed the pairing with Nikita and think they make a cute partnership, but even Ellie admits she’s not sure how dancing with dwarfism is going to work.
- Tyler West - on the one hand, this guy’s confidence is a bit much for me, he was not at all nervous. On the other hand, it’s quite refreshing to see someone not quaking in their boots. Dianne’s his partner, so can’t see these two being one of my favourites. The glitter torch was fun, though.
- Kym Marsh - yay for Hearsay! I also guessed this pro dancer correctly. We’re still trying to figure out who the go-to-Anton-replacement is now, and my money’s on Giovanni or Graziano, the latter being Kym’s partner this year.
- Will Mellor - I can’t help but chant Jambo, Jambo, whenever I see Will. He was way too cool for school, a thumbs up at the top of the stairs?? Also chatting to Anton about going to the tip, I mean, there’s down to earth, and then there’s down the tip, right? Partnered with Nancy which I think will be fascinating, he’s surely going to be exhausting by her enthusiasm.
- Helen Skelton - a long time favourite and partnered with Gorka, which makes sense once she said her partner needed to like dogs, children and understand a northern accent. I think Hels will be one of those who either does really well or falls quite early.
- James Bye - I don’t watch Eastenders so don’t know this guy and cannot remember his name so will most likely refer to him as Martin Fowler for the forseeable future. He seemed nice, though, quite cute, and teamed up with Amy, they’ll be a sweet partnership.
- Fleur East - love her hair and her energy, plus the surprisingly deep but wonderful voice. Fleur got the first newbie of the year with Vito who was incredibly endearing right from the start. These will be one to watch.
- Hamza Yassin - I don’t know this guy either but he just seemed adorable from the start, and that hair! They’ve teamed him up with the new pocket rocket Jowita, and I reckon she’ll be able to get the best out of him. He seems like one that will need bringing out of his shell, so curious to see the journey.
- Matt Goss - Of course I will most likely be calling him Bros for his time in the show. Bros is a thing that has passed me by though, even with that recent documentary. I didn’t warm particularly to him here, and he seems like a bit of a perfectionist, which will work well with Nadiya but might end in frustration at some point.
- Ellie Taylor - love, love Ellie and she had us in stitches from the get go. I love a list of potential partners that just has the same name three times and phew, she got her wish. Johannes will no doubt be laughing for a considerable portion of the training time too!
- Molly Rainford - I don’t know Molly but she seemed fun and had that sort of nervous confidence that comes with being a child star. Partnered with another newbie, Carlos, I didn’t totally get good vibes from their partnership, but it’s hard to tell when it’s the pro’s first year, he’s probably just as nervous as she is!
- Richie Anderson - this guy was a hoot from the moment he started sharing his story, and I cannot wait to see him and Giovanni leaping around the dancefloor together. Richie seems to be of the more tall and lanky build so will need some work on posture and control to get good scores but Gio can bring it out of him.
- Jayde Adams - the first of the ‘Adams family’, so, so excited for this pairing with Karen. A comedian with a Bristolian accent is always welcome and they were so cuddly together right from the start, I can’t wait to see what they bring to the dance floor.
- Tony Adams - I mean, he’s the token dad dancer of the bunch, and I feel like so many years in football isn’t going to help get good hip action. But you never know, and he’s partnered with Katya who is a little ball of fire that has worked wonders on the past.
- Kaye Adams - I wondered if last year I didn’t warm to Kai because I didn’t particularly warm to AJ but it’s carried on to this year as well, which is a shame. However, that’s not Kaye’s fault and hopefully they can work well together to get some good dances going.
It’s worth mentioning that Rose’s return to bid farewell to the competition had us blinking back tears again, I don’t know how she manages to have this effect every single time she’s on TV. But the dance she did was so good, usually when the reigning champion returns there’s a year’s worth of dust on the old dancing shoes but this was perfect. Can’t we just do last year over again please?
Not really though, the group dance came at the end and showed sprinklings of potential but plenty of work to be done. I have the feeling this year may not be up to the standard of the past few years, which is fine because hey, it’s supposed to be for people to learn to dance not just be amazing at it from the off. In the group dance, Fleur and Kym seemed to stand out as having good rhythm and skills first off, whilst Tony and Kaye were potentially a bit lower down the list but hey, it’s super early days.
Full predictions will come after week one which is… oh wait, it’s today. Eek! Let’s get dancing!