Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas treats: Strictly Come Dancing

Since October we have been enjoying the annual BBC dance competition "Strictly Come Dancing" each weekend (in America its "Dancing With The Stars"). This year's intake did not seem very interesting at first, with maybe what seemed a rather lacklustre, second tier ranking of celebrities, but it has turned out to be the most enjoyable in a long time.  What is fascinating about this series - as opposed to say "The X-Factor" is seeing how the contestants improve each week, as the no-hopers are weeded out one by one. Finally we come down to the last and best six .... and unlike that other TV juggernaut there are no fake or contrived dramas, but a lot of hard work, as people one would not normally expect to dance suddenly find their dancing feet. 
We have been entranced this year by Mark Wright (left and top, with Karen), an ITV2 Essex boy re-inventing himself and being utterly charming; the Blue boy Simon (being put through his paces by Kristina, who trained up Ben Cohen and Ben Calzaghe in previous years), and rugby player/model Thom Evans (of those French Diex De Stade calenders fame! - below right, with Iveta) who departed too early, and Jake (so obnoxious on EASTENDERS) with those amazing hip movements. The Girls have been wonderful too - another minor TV celeb Caroline Flack has stunned us, as has Frankie from The Saturdays (below left). They are all in the final this weekend.  It seems a more level playing-field now with the exit of stage-school trained Pixie Lott, who was hotly tipped to win, but the others are all new to dancing ...
We love the professional dancers too: Natalie, Aliona (who won with Harry Judd in 2011 - see Dance label), Iveta, Kristina and the departed Ola.  Shame that Flavia (who won with Louis Smith in 2012 - ditto) and Vincent are no longer with the show, and Artem has not been in this year's either. but Pasha and Aljaz (who won last year with Abbey Clancey) have more than compensated. We liked a lot of the previous dancers too: Erin Boag, Darren Bennett, Camilla Dallerup and more. I see Caroline and Pasha (below) lifting the trophy this weekend. (They did).
There were also of course the baffling contestants, this year's being Judy Murray! Poor Anton certainly gets the joker card each year .... the dances too have been marvellous, particularly those Argentine Tangos and some great ballroom moves, rumbas and charlestons. 
All their dances are on YouTube - enjoy. There is also a Christmas special on Christmas Day, with fun previous contestants like Russell Grant, and the return of Louis Smith, and of course Bruce Forsyth. This year's hit has been the wonderful Claudia Winkelman (or Claud - left) sharing duties with Tess Daly. The divine and very droll Claudia is now back and better than ever (after a family accident kept her out of the show for some weeks).   

Then there are the judges: Len, Bruno, panto villain Craig, and the most stylish woman on television: Darcey Bussell (above right). The weekly range of costumes dazzle too, as does the marvellous house band and vocalists, and the guest stars. In a world of increasing daily horrors, we need Strictly more than ever! 
The sheer logictics of the show are stupendous: 14 "celebrities" teamed with 14 professional dancers, for three months or more of hard training, and then the might of the BBC wardrobe department to come up with all those costumes, the group dances and the weekly programmes and results shows. Its glamour overdrive!  

In the Christmas show, winner Louis Smith returns and wins again with Aliona (below):
while last year's professional winner Aljaz was just was as marvellous this time, with popstrel Sophie Ellis-Bextor: - right.
(while Russell Grant - in blue below - amused us all again. while judge Craig was the pefect Wicked Queen! 


  1. I have to say I gave the show a miss this year (despite being very happy to see Bruce finally retire as well as the obnoxious James Jordan get his marching orders) precisely because, as you say, the line up didn't seem very interesting at all. Hopefully they'll pull in some bigger and better names for the next series. They don't have to be A list, just someone I'd like to spend a couple of hours at the weekend with.

  2. I would have agreed totally earlier in the series, but have a look at the final this weekend - Mark, Simon, Frankie and Caroline are all marvellous, they have certainly stepped up to the mark, and as I said, re-invented themselves.

  3. Well dahling, by now you know my thoughts on the subject. For several weeks now my top four have alternated between Simon, Caroline, Frankie and Pixie who we no longer have to bother about as she was a surprise exit! For me it will totally depend on tomorrow night's performances but I think it will be a close call between Caroline and Frankie to collect the trophy.