Holy glitterballs! We cannot believe the new series of Strictly Come Dancing has already launched and it’s only moments away from us getting our first dose of the couples in action.
The sparkling launch show brought all of the usual glitter, thrills, spills and razzle dazzle. We were sad to see Brucie bow out of his legendary 11 series stint but happy to hear he’ll back for the Children in Need and Christmas specials soon.
With old-hand Tess Daly and newbie Claudia Winkleman now officially at the helm (carried in on red velvet chairs no less) and after an incredible opening group dance incorporating the pro dancers and the judges, it was time to pair up our couples.
Here’s who’s with who and how we think they’ll all get on…
Alison Hammond and Aljaz
Ali, Ali, Ali, Oi, Oi, Oi! With names like theirs we can’t wait to see if their dancing partnership is as compatible. Alison has got rhythm and is not afraid to use it. She has enthusiasm and energy in bucket loads and has already thrown herself into the solo spot she was given in the first group dance. We think she’ll remain in the competition until at least the half-way point when, possibly other more technically skilled couples will out shine even her vibrancy and vigour.
Caroline & Pasha
The Flackster has gone from prime-time Saturday night ITV flagship show the X Factor to its rival on the BBC and we so hope it pays off for her. She already has a solid fan base from her previous high-profile presenting jobs and has a bubbly, likeable personality so those less familiar will warm to her too. Judging by her participation in the group dance she can move with enough flair and coordination to keep her firmly in the contest for a while. Plus, her and Pasha make an incredibly good-looking couple so it’s a match made in ballroom heaven really.
Frankie & Kevin
How beautiful did Frankie look on launch night?! If she can Samba as well as she scrubs up then she’s surely on to a winner. As the lady herself said, it’s already been a crazy year for her what with her wedding to footballer Wayne Bridge and the birth of her son Parker, so lifting the glitter ball would certainly cap it off very nicely. She’s danced throughout her years with The Saturdays and S Club Juniors so isn’t exactly a novice but there’s a huge difference between a wiggle behind a microphone and Strictly. We hope that Kevin Clifton can take Frankie right the way through to the finals as he did with Susanna Reid last year, and if we’re honest, we’d put money on him being able to.
Gregg & Aliona
Oh Gregg! He may lack in ability he will make up in showmanship and energy and we can’t wait to watch him ditch the spatula in favour of the sequins. Before Strictly, he had no experience of dancing whatsoever so credit due to him, however long he lasts, he’s going to be trying his hardest to keep his place on the programme. If the enthusiasm doesn’t creep into the realms of annoying he might just cling on for a little while.
Jake and Janette
Showing signs of early promise in the group dance we wouldn’t underestimate the East End lothario one bit this year. He has the firecracker that is Janette as his partner who, luckily for him, is more petite and won’t tower over him like one or two of the other ladies might have. Jake seems the sort of no-messin’ man’s man who wouldn’t be seen dead in bejewelled lycra but give him a week or two and we think he’ll be camping it right up and embracing the glitz. He might not make the final, but he’s still one to watch.
Jennifer & Tristan
Jennifer and Tristan are probably the couple we feel we know the least about ahead of the contest getting underway. Obviously, we’re aware Jennifer stars in sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys alongside husband Brendan O’Carroll and that Irish dancer Tristan McManus is new to the show and has lots of tattoo’s but that’s about it. We doubt Jennifer will feel out of place troweling on the fake tan as the Mrs Brown’s Boys cast regularly tango up before filming anyway. We guess it remains to be seen how they’ll get on, they’re the enigmas of the line up! If their instant connection is anything to go by though, things bode well.
Judy & Anton
She may be a newcomer to the dancing world but don’t underestimate Judy’s fitness levels as she’s coached tennis for 25 years and is the current British Fed Cup team captain. Mum and ex-coach to tennis legend Andy Murray, this tough lady must have nerves of steel to sit as composed as she does at Wimbledon every year and we think she’ll draw on this to cope with those long, dramatic pauses each Saturday and Sunday night. She wasn’t shown off very much in the launch night’s group routine but Anton will make a dancer of her yet in his own unique and loveable way.
Mark & Karen
The last time a well-known man named Mark partnered a professional dancer called Karen they lifted the glitter ball trophy high with pride as they were crowned the winners of Strictly Come Dancing. This was back in 2006, when cricketer Mark Ramprakash and ex-pro dancer Karen Hardy stormed the series; so this year’s duo has a lot to live up to. We don’t think it’ll be a huge struggle for them though; they’re a popular partnership that are predicted to do well in the show. They’re ridiculously good looking, fit and young and after all, who doesn’t love Mark Wright? Votes ahoy!
Pixie & Trent
Uh-oh, uh-oh. Can Pix dance as well as she sings? Well we’re about to find out and we doubt we’ll be disappointed. Pixie has already shown what a graceful mover she is in her video for Cry Me Out (YouTube it) and she did dance training at Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts so we hope this won’t turn voters against her. Trained dancers have got a bad rap in past series, even though there’s a vast difference between ballroom dancing and other disciplines. Whatever the outcome, we’re excited to see how she and Strictly newbie Trent Whiddon – who’s a pro on Dancing with the Stars in Australia, get on when they take to the floor. She’s an early favourite and we’re expecting great things.
Scott & Jo
It’s a brave man who announces their participation in Strictly live on Radio One whilst in conversation with Craig Revel Horwood but hey, that’s how DJ Scott Mills rolls. He’s a bit of a closed book that we’re not sure how it will turn out for. We’re not sure why, but we can just imagine Scott being quite light and nimble on his feet and quick to pick up a new skill in dancing. No, we don’t think he’ll make the final five but neither will he be first out. It’s also the debut of Jo Clifton – Frankie’s partner Kevin’s sister, so we’re looking forward to seeing her in action too.
Simon & Kristina
Simon Webbe is a man that can move and we have high hopes for this boy from Blue. He’s got some killer hips and so will take to the latin dances really well. Just like Frankie, his music days saw him dancing as well as singing but learning complex and technical routines for Strictly is new and unchartered territory. We don’t think for a second Simon will let himself down with his efforts, he’s rumoured to be another early favourite to do well. Watch this space.
Steve & Ola
Wildlife loving Steve is usually found in the arctic or rainforest, so his forthcoming journey into the showbiz ballroom environment may be his biggest challenge yet. We hope he’s prepared! Although he’s a newcomer to all things dance related, we think he’s in fairly safe hands with Strictly stalwart Ola-chops. After all, he bounced back from a back injury that almost paralysed him so he’s made of tough stuff. Surely a bite from a snake will sting more than acid-tongued judge Craig…
Sunetra & Brendan
Just like Anton Du Beke, the viewers seem to like and support any partnership Brendan is involved in. He’s another show stalwart that people respect and we can’t remember the last time Brendan’s partner failed miserably and went home early. We’re looking forward to seeing how Sunetra takes to ballroom dancing, as she doesn’t seem to have any previous experience in it. She handled herself well in the group dance so we think it’ll be a mostly positive experience for her. We’re also watering at the mouth to get our fix of Mr Cole’s choreography again.
Thom & Iveta
Ah Thom. We were so busy staring at that pretty face and incredible physic we barely even noticed he was dancing. Was he any good? Who knows, but he suits black lycra ridiculously well! Joking aside, we have some really high hopes for ex-Rugby forward Thom and think he’ll get enough votes to keep him quickstepping into the last few contestants like Austin Healey did a few series’ back. Plus, he’s already admitted having a crush on dance partner Iveta Lukosiute, so could this pair be the new Kara and Artem?
Bless Tim! What a great sport he is for swapping his antiques for arabesque’s to take part in this year’s series. We can’t help feeling that this partnership has been assembled to ease Natalie Lowe back in after taking last year out due to a foot injury. Having already admitted to a lack of dancing ability, Tim’s chances of success may appear a little remote but hey, who saw Russell Grant doing as well as he did?
Tune into BBC1 at 9pm to see them in action for the first time.