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Strictly Come Dancing: Strictly’s Back!!!

Strictly Come Dancing is officially back. Three weeks ago the celebrities shimmied their lycra-ed selves onto the dance floor and were paired with some of the best dancers in the country ready to strut their stuff in the ballroom for us all the critique eating takeaway on the sofa. I jest. Kind of.

Last year, my friend and housemate Emma and I teamed up to write a weekly live review of the show. As much as we were pleased when the posts went, and as great as it was to look back and see what we thought, the actually writing of the post as we watched detracted from the enjoyment of the show. So this year we have abandoned the posts, and instead, I am going to do a little bit of a weekly round up and review of what I thought.

So, sit down, get comfy, and be warned…there are sparkly spoilers ahead!

There are a few changes to this years line up. Some of the dancers have left, and there are three new women to take their places. Len has sadly left the Strictly ballroom and has been placed by the fabulously fierce Shirley Ballas. I like her and Darcey’s ho-mance already, and think she is going to be a brilliant judge. She offers useful tips and critiques, and finds something positive to say about every dance. And for the first show everyone has pulled out all of the staff. The male judges look wondefully suited in normal outfits, the ladies look stunning, and I love Tess’s dress and adore Claudia’s jumpsuit. Well done everyone!

The first show of the year always means a pro number. OK, so the beginning was weird and I didn’t like seeing Oti sad, and I really didn’t like the male focus dancer being Giovanni, but I like these Pro numbers. And of course, a pro group dance always means a little bit of Neil on our screens!

Here we go:

Gemma Atkinson and Aljaz Skorjanec | Cha Cha to ‘There’s No Holding Me Back’ (watch here)

Oh these two are so adorable and excitable. They look so tall and perfect together. I think these are going to be good, or at least, they’ll go on a journey. There it is, the first mention of the series and we haven’t even seen the first dance yet. She looks simultaneously nervous and amazed.

Aww that was sweet. It looked pretty and good, and although it wasn’t brilliant she got through it well, looked beautiful, and didn’t make any mistakes. Well done for opening the show Gemma!

Craig: 4 Darcey: 5 Shirley: 5 Bruno: 6 | Total: 20

Brian Conley and Amy Dowden | Tango to ‘Temptation’ (watch here)

OK, see here is my problem with these two. I don’t like Brian and don’t find him funny. I don’t know Amy and she didn’t instantly do a Kevin or Neil, so I think these will just fall by the wayside for me. I don’t think they’ll be any good, but I don’t think that they’ll be bad enough if that makes sense?

True to form, it was pretty diabolical. It was barely recognisable as a tango and he did nothing more than walk around the floor. I just don’t see how he will survive long, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is in the first dance off actually. The red shoes didn’t help things along either.

Craig: 3 Darcey: 4 Shirley: 4 Bruno: 5 | Total:  16

Alexandra Burke and Gorka Marquez | Waltz to ‘You Make Me Feel’ (watch here)

Oh Gorka, your jaw is a chiselled work of art, you are just beautiful. Alexandra, you’re not bad either. I really like Gorka, how is someone that pretty quite so dorky at the same time. I’m not quite sure what it is, or why I feel this way, but I find something about her dislikeable. I’m hoping this show, and her partner, changes my opinion of her.

Her dress is beautiful, just stunning. He is, well, just something else. They make the most gorgeous couple. They got pretty close as well. Will they be this years strictly couple? I don’t think I’d be disappointed. Their dance was very graceful, had poise and serene. They will be good, I can feel it.

Craig: 5 Darcey: 6 Shirley: 6 Bruno: 7 | Total: 24

Simon Rimmer and Karen Clifton | Paso Doble to ‘Song 2’ (watch here)

I quite like Simon, and to boot he isn’t bad looking. And of course Karen, well, we all like Karen, so I think these might be one of my preferred pairs. My worry is that he is going to be looked over and forgotten. If he Dad dances like he does in the promo then he will be terrible. I hope he isn’t.

There is nothing wrong with a stompy, marchy Paso. It’s the best time to be stompy and marchy. He actually looked better than I thought he was going to. I really hope he does well, but the dance was quite forgettable. I’m worried about him next week, not gonna lie!

Craig: 3 Darcey: 5 Shirley: 5 Bruno: 4 | Total: 17

Charlotte Hawkins and Brendan Cole | Foxtrot to ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ (watch here)

I’ve got an ingrained dislike of Brendan that has gone back years, pretty much since series 1, and funnily enough that hasn’t changed. Charlotte is a presenter on something I don’t watch, and I feel like already it’s all about her children and her early starts. C’mon guys, she’s got to be more than that?

She looked absolutely stunning in her long ivory gown, and to be fair Brendan was suited and booted well too. They make a tall and attractive pair. I’m almost disappointed that she looked alright. The dance was nothing special, and I can’t help but think already that she will be clutching to the ballroom weeks (if she lasts that long!)

Craig: 5 Darcey: 5 Shirley: 6 Bruno: 6 | Total: 22

Chizzy Akudolu and Pasha Kovalev | Cha Cha to ‘Boogie Fever’ (watch here)

I don’t know if words have been created that describe how hilarious and vivacious Chizzy is. I absolutely love her. Shame a little bit that she is with Pasha. That sounds like I hate Pasha, I don’t, he just kind of passes me by. I think she is going to be fab. She will be seriously fierce and funny and fabulous.

SHE DID NOT LET ME DOWN. Wow she gave that some beans. She just looks like she is having the absolute time of her life! You can’t fault her effort, or say she isn’t moving. OK, so it wasn’t technically the best, but she was living and breathing that Cha Cha.

Craig: 4 Darcey: 5 Shirley: 6 Bruno: 6 | Total: 21

Jonnie Peacock and Oti Mabuse | Waltz to ‘When I Need You’ (watch here)

I love Oti, she was the revelation of last years show. I’ve been a fan of Jonnie Peacock since the 2012 London Games. He is so good, very nice guy. I wish he’d cut his hair though. He was so much more attractive with shorter hair. OK, so, I know this is going to sound cruel, but, I am waiting for him to do a charleston, because I just don’t understand how you can get swivel when you don’t have a leg. Well, I mean he has a leg, but I mean a real leg.

Urgh she always look so stunning. I really thought they might be rubbish but they were actually OK. I am glad they have eased him in with a ballroom dance. I want him to do well, he’s going to be in my top 3 pairs for sure.

Craig: 4 Darcey: 5 Shirley: 5 Bruno: 6 | Total: 20

Joe McFadden and Katya Jones | Jive to ‘Rockin’ Robin’ (watch here)

Emma is excited, I’m excited, Joe is excited, Katya is excited. I think these are Emma’s favourite pair, and along with Susan and Kevin, and Jonnie and Oti, are going to be the pairs that we back in this house. He is so adorable and smiley, I just want to squish his ickle face. And Katya, well she chose Neil so I trust her judgement in life implicitly. I think these should be a great pair.

That was pretty good. It was fast, it was technical, it had faults but we can brush over all of those and blame dancing in jeans and his short legs (who knew!) A jive is a hard dance to get in week 1, but he did well. I think he’s going to be really good, which makes me very happy!

Craig: 7 Darcey: 7 Shirley: 8 Bruno: 7 | Total: 29

Susan Calman and Kevin Cliftin | Viennese Waltz to ‘Mad About The Boy’  (watch here)

This pairing is literally a fan girl’s dream. I love everything about it, and to be honest, I think they do. Susan and her wife and her cats are the cutest and most welcoming family ever and I genuinely believe that they are the most perfect match. I’m not sure how brilliant I think she is going to be, but it has been a long time since I have seen such pure joy and fluffiness as this pair on the launch show so I am definitely going to be backing these.

OK, so it wasn’t the most technically perfect dance ever, but she was pretty good! The moves were all there, it was quick and light. There were funny elements (mostly Kevin’s horrendous drawn on tache!) They’re just so adorable and she looked like she was just having the best time.

Craig: 5 Darcey: 5 Shirley: 5 Bruno: 5 | Total: 20

Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice | Paso Doble to ‘Be Italian’ (watch here)

I am going to try and be careful about what I say about this pairing, because it tends to come out like word vomit, and get abusive. I can’t stand Giovanni, like really don’t like him, and can’t help disliking the mummified barbie (as my friend so accurately called her.) I don’t really why she is famous, and I also think that as a trained dance she shouldn’t be allowed on the show.

I tried to look away as much as possible in this dance. I found it very uncomfortable, and was gutted when it was actually quite alright. I’ll give Debbie her due and say she is flexible and can move, but I’d expect nothing else from her.

Craig: 8 Darcey: 8 Shirley: 7 Bruno: 7 | Total: 30

Davood Ghadami and Nadiya Bychkova | Cha Cha to ‘Dedications To My Ex’ (watch here)

I don’t know much about Davood but he always seems to be happy and jokey, and the muscles don’t hurt his case. I don’t know that much about Nadiya, but what I do hear, I really don’t like. I think this could be the Strictly Curse couple.

I feel like I have just watched a mating ritual. I feel like I have just watched a show from the streets of Amsterdam. I feel like I might have just watched them have sex on live TV. There was more hair flicking in that than a L’Oreal advert. I see why she now has the reputation she does! I’m not sure I’m going to ever feel comfortable watching them dance!

Craig: 6 Darcey: 7 Shirley: 7 Bruno: 7 | Total: 27

Ruth Langsford and Anton DuBeke | Waltz to ‘This Was Nearly Mine’ (watch here)

I just think it was never in doubt that these two would end up together, and that they are going to have a filthy and hilarious time together. I never used to like Anton that much, but there is no denying that dancing with him must be a delight. He is always smiling and laughing. As always, they’re bound to be so much better at the ballroom, sometimes I wonder whether Anton himself can even do Latin, never mind his partners.

I think this was harsh, this was harshly marked. You could tell what it was and she looked graceful and pretty. And Eamonn, oh Eamonn, you look so proud!

Craig: 3 Darcey: 4 Shirley: 4 Bruno: 5 | Total: 16

Rev. Richard Coles and Dianne Buswell | Cha Cha to ‘There Must Be An Angel’ (watch here)

Despite my better judgement, I just love these guys. I am confused as to how he is so funny, and even though I know about his past in the Communards, I am confused when he says things like ‘I haven’t danced since 1990 when I nearly fell off a podium in Ibiza.’ It’s just not something you expect a reverend to say. I literally know nothing about Dianne, but I think being with the Rev will probably make me like her. I know he is awful, but he is embracing it to such a degree that he is probably going to end up going back round the other way for me and being quite good.

OK, so maybe he was just bad. The cloud with the harp was hilarious, and the dance was brilliantly crap. He just embraced it and gave it so much welly that you couldn’t fault the enjoyment and entertainment factor. I hope he stays in for a while, because I really like him. He’s just too funny.

Craig: 2 Darcey: 4 Shirley: 6 Bruno: 5 | Total: 17

Mollie King and AJ Pritchard | Jive to ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ (watch here)

She looks about 15 and he looks about 12, I see why they have paired these two together. They are going to have more energy than anyone else combined! They look so cute and peppy together. I feel like these could be really good. But they also might be bad, i don’t know. We’ll see.

Not gonna lie to you guys, I was a bit disappointed. Yes she looked great, but it was really blocky and AJ did a lot more of the dancing than she did, she spent a lot of time showing off her (incredible) legs. Hmmmm, I bet she will look stunning in ballroom. I’ll reserve judgement until next week I think.

Craig: 4 Darcey: 6 Shirley: 7 Bruno: 6 | Total: 23

Aston Merrygold and Janette Manrara | Foxtrot to ‘It Had To Be You’ (watch here)

I quite like Aston and I really like Janette, and even though I know he can dance and flip and stuff, I know that I will inevitably really quite like these two. I am going to say it now, I am expecting a lot from these and I think I will be quite surprised if they are not in the final in a couple of months time!

They saved the best for last. That was a seriously good dance, and so playful. I don’t care what the judges said, I liked the funny light moments because they fit with their personalities and the jazzy music. They are going to be difficult to beat because I think they will be even better when it comes to the latin dances!

Craig: 7 Darcey: 8 Shirley: 8 Bruno: 8 | Total: 31


Well there we have it guys, that was the first week of Strictly 2017. I think there is some obvious front runners: Aston and Janette, Alexandra and Gorka, Joe and Katya, and I think it’s obvious that this years amusing flop is Rev Richard and Dianne, but I actually think all in all this year is quite close. I think there are a lot of names in the middle of the pack. There are some people that I feel could really improve, and some who will embrace it like there is no tomorrow.

This week, as it’s the first week, there is no vote or dance off. Everyone who danced ballroom this week will dance latin next week, and vice versa, and once everyone has done one of each and danced next week, then we’ll be able to vote to keep our favourites in!

Tune in next week for another Strictly round up!

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