One new head judge. Three new professional dancers. Fifteen new contestants. It’s safe to say that this all adds up to an exciting new season of strictly. Not to mention the questions we all have on our minds! Will Shirley Ballas ever be able to fill Len Goodman’s shoes as head judge? Will Kevin Clifton survive having Susan Calman as a partner? And, most importantly, will Bruno Tonioli be able to stay on his chair this season?
First things first, however, I feel we must address the air of sadness which quite rightly fell over the season’s first episode due to the recent passing of the late Sir Bruce Forsyth. Brucey, as he has come to be known by many, was an important part of the strictly family from when the show first began on BBC one on the 15th of May 2004 until the 7th of November 2013 when it was announced that he would be retiring from presenting the main series. He helped shape strictly into the brilliant show that it is today. Sadly, Forsyth died on 18 August 2017. To commemorate him the first episode of the new season included a touching montage of some of Bruce’s finest moments as part of the strictly team. He was then honoured with a recital of fly me to the moon, a song Bruce had sung on the show.
On a lighter note Shirley Ballas is the name on everyone’s mind. Just what kind of a judge will she be? And, more importantly, will she work as well with the chemistry of the judges as Len Goodman did? From the unimpressed look Craig Revel-Horwood gave the camera after she claimed she was quote an “eleven” on the strictness scale if he was a ten you might think there will be some issues, however, from the way Bruno was kissing her arm I think it’s safe to say she’ll do just fine. Shirley, among her many achievements, has won the British championships at age 23, was the European champion and is ten times the United States Latin American champion. With forty years’ worth of experience and considering the fact that when the call came she fell to her knees and that she “couldn’t be more honoured” to have the role as head judge Strictly appears to be in good hands.
Three new professional dancers with three different colours of hair. An Australian, a Ukrainian and a Welshwoman. It sounds like the start of a joke, doesn’t it? Well hopefully for our new contestants it won’t be. Let’s meet the girls. First off, we have Nadiya Bychkova. She is a two-time world and European champion from Ukraine here to “claim the strictly trophy”. She leads a double career for as well as being a dancer she is also a model; Nadiya is also the face of Michael Kors and is an ambassador for the lingerie range Lisca. She’s going to bring “sensuality, femininity and attention to the details” to strictly. As a teacher, she is strict and anyone working with her is going to be working hard. She can’t wait to get to the live shows.
Next up we have Dianne Buswell, 28, from Australia. She’s the former Australian open champion, has recently been involved in dancing with the stars Australia (but has clearly come to the obvious realisation that strictly is the superior dance show) and has been part of various musicals such as Legally Blonde and Rock of Ages. According to the lady herself “She’s fierce and full of energy, probably too much energy” and her “partner better be ready to work hard because I am going to be cracking the whip.”
And finally, one of our own. Amy Dowden is the current British national champion and will be the first ever Welsh professional dancer on strictly. Amy also teaches Zumba locally to community groups and school children. Amy grew up watching strictly and is very excited to be on the show. As a dancer, she is “passionate, determined and competitive” and as a teacher she is “very strict and a bit of a perfectionist.” Finally, she has her eye “on the glitter ball trophy and nothing is going to get in my way.”
Of course, if wouldn’t be strictly without a bit of drama so nobody should be surprised that Susan Calman, being a lesbian role model for many, has ended up in the middle of the long raging battle of should there be same sex pairings on strictly. The poor woman has already had to say that “it is her choice to dance with a man and not a woman on strictly” and that “I wanted to dance with a man,
I am not being held hostage by the BBC, I’m still well gay and proud of it” to her followers on twitter.
Some pairings to watch out for this year would be Aston Merrygold, formerly part of JSL, who has been partnered with Janette Manrara. The dancing training, he had with the band should give him an edge, especially his backflipping ability. Similarly, the Saturdays singer Mollie King, who has been paired with AJ Pritchard, is already one of the favourites to win because of the dancing experience she already acquired as part of the Saturdays. Alexandra Burke, partnered with Gorka Marquez, has already won the X factor and many think she’ll achieve the double whammy.
But with the British love of the underdog there is absolutely no way to tell who will win, especially since we haven’t seen any of the couples dance yet. The couples have been given a fortnight from the 9th of September to the 24th when the couples will first have to dance live. If any of them want to win there’s only one thing to do and that is, as Tess and Claudia put it, to start dancing.
by Catherine Marple