So, the waiting is over ! The Strictly celebrities and their partners have had three weeks to rehearse and practice their routines – either a Waltz or a Cha Cha Cha. Seven celebrities take to the floor tonight, with another seven tomorrow. No-one is eliminated this week, but the scores will be carried forward to next week, when public voting starts. Brucie’s jokes don’t seem to have got much better, and 9pm is slightly late for a live family show, but Bruce and Tess received a warm welcome from the studio audience, sitting in the new set.
A canary yellow dressed Felicity Kendall kicked things off with her partner Vincent Simone, and she didn’t look nervous; she looked confident and playful. Felicity has great feet, but she could work on her hips more and that will come with practice. Her routine was very neat, a little bit sexy, and she and Vincent have a lovely partnership already.
Scott Maslen and Natalie Lowe – last year’s Strictly finalist. Many thought that she and her partner Ricky Whittle should have won, as they were the better dancers, so Natalie is ready to hit the highlights again. The waltz really does suit Scott, he has huge presence on the dancefloor and he’s been well drilled by Natalie. He’s used to live tv which is bound to help during the first few shows. Len Goodman decided his waltz was raunchy rather than romantic, which of course Alesha loved ! So did the other judges – Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel-Horwood, who called it “dangerously romantic.”
Goldie, and his partner Kristina Rihanoff, wearing a sports bra and finged, stripey skirt (just), made a good stab at the Cha Cha Cha, but Goldie likes to have a laugh and he doesn’t have the presence of Scott Maslen to carry it off. Entertaining, “disco” according to Alesha, it needs work.
Three couples in, and none of them seem too nervous this season.
Actress Patsy Kensit is partnered with new professional, Robin Windsor. Robin is very encouraging in rehearsals, but will Patsy panic on the live show ? They have a Waltz, with Patsy dressed in red, and they start confidently. Her dress is slightly too long and hides her feet some of the time, and there is quite a lot of space between them (echoing the song “miles and miles of empty space between us”) which Craig picked up on, and Patsy’s lines need finishing, but a good first dance !
Matt Baker, partnered with Aliona Vilani, gets the prize for the strangest outfit of the night, and I recall on the launch show that he barely touched Aliona, which worried me. He’s a farmer, and presenter (Blue Peter, Countryfile) and Aliona wants that glitterball this year. Should be interesting ! Strangely, in rehearsals Matt says that he has no fear of putting his hands on Aliona, likening her to the sheep on his farm. Trying not to be distracted by the custart topped, checked waistcoat, he’s certainly got the hip action though his feet aren’t yet pointing. I’d say he’s worked really hard; the routine was fast and sharp. The audience loved it ! And then there was Craig…. stony faced but then he says “you, sir, are one to watch.” Len says it was the ‘best of the night.”
Pamela Stephenson is paired with James Jordan and I’m imagining a real meeting of minds. Strong characters. In a beautiful blue sparkly dress, she starts off turning on her own and then, once in hold, they dance a romantic, dreamy waltz with plenty of smiles at the end. Alesha described Pamela’s dance as “breathtaking” and Bruno was in raptures over her arm positions. Pamela started crying and gave Bruce a kiss. Lovely that it means that much to her!
Magician Paul Daniels and Ola Jordan seem, on the surface, an unlikely match. Ola needs magic ! In rehearsals, Paul spends time hiding behind curtains and pillars, but Ola is determined. Oh dear; he starts his Cha Cha Cha routine with a magician’s box – pulling Ola out. Ola has her work cut out. Paul wastes all that time at the start, and then proceeds to walk around the floor in a very camp manner, doing his own thing. If there is a dancer in there, Ola is going to have to dig deep. The routine lands a 2 from Craig.
Matt and Aliona and Pamela and James tie at the top with 31 points. Matt has been the bookie’s favourite all week, but on Strictly it doesn’t always pay to start off really well. remember the ‘journey’ word!
Fair outcome ? What do you think ?
Tomorrow’s show, with the seven couples who have yet to dance, plus Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams (singing, not dancing) starts on BBC1 at 6pm.