I’ll be upfront about it - I’m not expecting great things from this year’s Strictly. Part of that is that I don’t know many of the contestants, although that’s not a dealbreaker. The last few years have seen me fall in love with lots of the contestants that I had previously never heard of, so not being too excited about the lineup at first glance might not be a problem.
The other side of it is those previous couple of years. They’ve been amazing and there’s no way this run can continue, can it? Bill Bailey, Rose, Hamza… three incredible champs topping fantastic and emotional years. It’s about time for a dud.
However, I’m still watching and more than happy to be proven wrong by this year’s batch of potential dancers. Yesterday they were paired up with their pros and next week the dancing proper begins, so let’s have a quick rundown of the 2023 cast.
- Amanda Abbington - obviously aware of Amanda from her work in Sherlock and other things, she looked like she might have some early skills in the group dance, and Gio brings out the best in people.
- Zara McDermott - I don’t know of Zara, she seems nice enough although by the time we’d got to the group dance I’d already forgotten that she was in the crew. Partnered with Graziano, though, who is the new housewive’s favourite.
- Jody Cundy - the cynics will say that Jowita has been partnered with our paralympian because he’s unlikely to win it but he looked more confident than I was expecting so watching this space!
- Krishnan Guru-Murthy - unfortunately Krishnan is my prediction for being first out, not just because of what we saw in the group dance but also being partnered with a newbie, Lauren, who needs some time to get a following.
- Bobby Brazier - already he’s the little cute one of the group, Dianne proclaiming him her new little brother, she’ll bring out the best in him for sure.
- Layton Williams - Layton is probably the highlight of the cast for me, although so many complaints already about his stage school past. Partnering with Nikita is going to be fascinating!
- Nigel Harman - I thought Nigel was going to be a bit on the dull side but actually he was quite funny, and being teamed up with Katya will shake things up for him.
- Angela Rippon - lovely Angela who showed up everyone with her presenting skills in her VTs, is partnered with Kai who I’ve said is not my favourite but you can’t argue that he’s not a gentleman!
- Ellie Leach - I don’t know Ellie, but she seems nice, and partnered with Vito. It’s amazing how quickly last year’s first time professionals have become familiar.
- Eddie Kadi - Partnered with Karen to presumably rein him in a little bit, Eddie seems like a breath of fresh air and comedy for the dancefloor.
- Annabel Croft - lovely Annabel from all the tennis, she’s a favourite in this house but if I’m honest, I don’t know that she’s going to go too far… even with JoJo on her team!
- Adam Thomas - such a loud laugh on this guy! I thought he was vaguely familiar to me before realising it was his brother Ryan. Anyway, partnered with Luba, I think he’ll have some rapid improvements early on.
- Angela Scanlon - I didn’t know Angela but I’m already in love with her, the accent obviously, the comparisons of ballroom with Irish dancing, and partnered with Carlos, we’ll see how that goes.
- Nikita Kanda - Nikita reminds me so much of someone but I don’t know who it is, so that’s annoying. She’s got Gorka on her team though and we all love Gorks.
- Les Dennis - obviously an old-time family favourite, I love that he’s not expecting to dance well at all and embraces if he ends up making people laugh for the wrong reasons. He’s with Nancy which I thought might not work but the fact he’s already teaching her to speak with a Scouse accent means they’ll be fine.
Watching the launch show did make me feel a bit softer towards this year, as it always does. Hearing directly from the participants, even when you don’t know who they are, kicks off the journey that may last just a couple of weeks, or could see us through to Christmas.
They’re a mixed bag of abilities, as the group dance shows, but they’ve got a full week before we get to see the first live dances so it’ll all be fine. Right?