Tag Archive: Strictly Come Dancing


Strictly in the Spotlight

For the last six or seven years, Strictly Come Dancing has been the highlight of my television calendar. From September to December I religiously watch every live show, every results show, and most episodes of its sister programme It Takes Two. With Series 10 reaching its grand conclusion last night, I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some of my thoughts on the 2012 competition and explain why I’m such a Strictly addict.

Let’s start with something positive: why do I love Strictly? In short, because it’s fun and nobody’s livelihoods are at stake, unlike in some reality/entertainment shows I could mention (cough X Factor cough). There are no real sob stories, everyone genuinely seems to get on well every year, and it makes me smile. Dani and Vincent Viennese Waltz

Series 10 has been no exception to these generalities. An excellent celeb line up, the addition of Darcey Bussell to the judging panel, and a great new pro dancer have all contributed to making twelve fantastic weeks of television. Oh and the dancing’s been rather wonderful too!

If I had to pick a favourite dance of this series it would probably be Dani and Vincent’s Venetian-themed Viennese Waltz; it was so beautifully choreographed and performed. I had been routing for this couple, nicknamed Team Smurf, when the final kicked off last night, and I do believe that with a different show dance they might have won. It was such a shame that nerves took hold and that perhaps their show dance was a tad too ambitious.

I always feel a bit of loyalty towards some of the professional dancers who have been on the show a long time, so much so that I admit it actually affects my voting to a degree. I never do vote until the last two weeks of the competition, but right from the start I wanted Vincent, James or Flavia to be in with a chance of finally lifting the Glitter Ball trophy. Of course I would never vote for the pro alone, which is why I was delighted to see that all three had celebrity partners who not only seemed to be nice people, but who steadily developed as talented dancers.

JamesDeniseCharlestonHowever, it seems I have been in a minority when it came to supporting James and his partner Denise van Outen. It actually saddens me a little to write something negative about Strictly, but it has been truly disappointing to read how vindictive and unpleasant some fans have been about Denise and her performance background on various forums/social media channels this year. So what if she’s been on stage and danced in Chicago? Kimberley is from a musical background and appeared in Shrek, and several past contestants have also attended stage school and had some dance training. Was there ever a backlash like this against them? I don’t believe so. It’s a shame that, for whatever reason, people were so vocally negative about a contestant who actually trained around 100 hours more than anyone else in this year’s competition and who didn’t have prior experience in the Ballroom and Latin disciplines. The mistakes she made  – and there were a few – should have been proof that she was learning too.

Right, I’ve got that off my chest and promise to rant no more in this post. On to the final!

After Dani left I still had my hopes for Denise (what a spectacular show dance!), but had an Louis-FlaviaSCDChampionsinkling that it would be Louis or Kimberley taking the crown after the second round of voting. Kimberley was absolutely fantastic over the second half of the competition, whilst Louis had found his inner performer and proved his popularity by never being in the bottom two. Any of the four finalists would have been deserving champions, so I wasn’t disappointed when Louis and Flavia were declared the Strictly Come Dancing 2012 winners. With the judges’ scores only putting one point between all of the top three couples, it was always going to come down to a slight popularity vote and that gymnastic physique may well have swung it in the Olympian’s favour!

I could go on for many more paragraphs, discussing dresses, more dances, the wonderful Lisa Riley, Halloween night, the judges, and the bewilderment I feel whenever Claudia Winkleman appears on screen, but I’ve probably babbled long enough. Suffice to say there will now be a Strictly-shaped hole in my weekends and I have absolutely loved this series. Bring on the Christmas Special and I look forward to more FAB-U-LOUS dancing in autumn 2013!

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What with one thing and another – finishing my MA, job hunting and numerous family events – it’s been rather a long time since I blogged.  September was a pretty good month for me telly-wise though, with the BBC kindly broadcasting the Strictly Come Dancing launch show on my 23rd Birthday and Series Two of Downton Abbey starting a week later.  Who Do You Think You Are? returned as my staple 9pm Wednesday night fare in August and I made a couple of new discoveries that completed a very satisfactory weekly TV menu, keeping me entertained as the evenings drew in this month. So, without further metaphors (I really should stop with the food analogies!) here’s a breakdown of my Top Five summer-into-autumn shows…

My Own Route 66 Adventure: Pops

5.     Billy Connolly’s Route 66 

I was drawn to this four-part ITV series for two reasons.  Firstly; it was made by Maverick, where I was lucky enough to have a placement earlier this year.  Secondly; I travelled halfway across America in May, including a short stint on Route 66, so I was fascinated to see what else this iconic road has to offer.  Although Connolly didn’t visit Pops, the only landmark on Route 66 that I went to, the series did provide an insight into both the physical and cultural breadth of the USA.  It’s hard to imagine somebody doing a better job presenting this sort of travelogue than Connolly, hitting the highways on his trike and telling stories about people and places with honesty and humour.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and am now following the programme that’s taken over its Thursday evening slot: Joanna Lumley’s Greek Odyssey.

4.     Who Do You Think  You Are?  

This is one that divides my housemates, some of whom claim  that who your great-great-grandparents were really has no bearing on you.  Whilst there is a degree of logic in this, I  have always seen WDYTYA as a fascinating avenue into history first, a genealogy programme second.  You never know what  era of history might be encountered as the celebrities trace their ancestors.  Larry Lamb’s episode was one of my favourites in this latest series: his mother’s family were travelling showmen, famous for their menagerie of exotic animals, and he actually tracked  down a previously unknown relative in America.   J.K. Rowling’s journey took her to France and Germany, giving an insight into the impact of the Franco-Prussian war on ordinary families.  No two episodes of WDYTYA are ever the same, historically or in the reactions of the celebrity participants.  It may be a little bit of sentimentality that draws me in as well as the history, but regardless of my friends’ opinions I’ll  certainly watch the next series when it reaches our screens. 

The Formidable Grandmother: Maggie Smith

3.     Downton Abbey

It’s all happening at Downton Abbey and the twists and turns this series have seldom brought happy news for the Crawley family.  It’s hardly surprising, given that the Great  War has been dominating the bulk of the storylines, but it would be nice to have some small glimmer of hope for Lady Mary and Matthew or for Mr Bates and Anna in previews of the next week’s episode.  Intriguing as all the relationships are at Downton, whether they’re platonic,  amorous, or crossing class boundaries, the heightened drama seems to be prohibiting even one match between two characters being satisfactorily cemented.  The costumes and setting are exquisite and Maggie Smith is still delivering superb lines as the Dowager Countess, but I’m hoping for more resolutions and less mini cliff-hangers over the coming weeks.

2.     Fresh Meat

Fresh Meat is a  new Channel 4 comedy that follows the escapades of six university students  forced to share a house after missing out on their places in Halls.  The characters and situations are often exaggerated for effect, but nevertheless strike a surprisingly realistic chord about the  ups and downs of moving to a new city and living with strangers.  Its appeal lies in the subtle but astute observations about how Freshers deal with the strains of University life,  creating new identities (who can forget the Pussy Man?) and desperately trying to please and impress new acquaintances, even if it does lead to one night stands with housemates.  The main characters represent a bunch of stereotypes who aren’t actually as stereotypical as they initially seem; from posh lad JP to alternative, don’t- care Vod.   We’ve all got mates who remind us of at least one person in Fresh Meat, or can personally identify with some of the scenarios – even if we wouldn’t admit it!  Each episode leaves me chuckling and it’s no surprise that a second  series has already been commissioned.

Russell and Flavia's Foxtrot, Week 3

 1.      Strictly Come Dancing

Admittedly something of a guilty pleasure, but I’m an avid Strictly fan, including tuning in for It Takes Two most week nights.  Sometimes I think it would be worth becoming famous just for the slight chance that I could be asked to take part in Strictly.  Not for the hair and make-up, but just for the opportunity to learn to dance with a professional like James (hint hint!) or Vincent, who’s certainly the best match for me height-wise…Dreaming aside though, I love watching Strictly because it’s solid entertainment: a visual spectacle, that ‘journey’ element, and plenty of amusing moments.  Yes, it’s sad when somebody leaves undeservedly, like Rory Bremner last weekend, and occasionally the judges go a little OTT, but nobody’s livelihoods are at stake in this competition; it’s really a very positive process.  Indeed, the ballroom bug seems to infect all who take part.  Russell Grant may not be the best dancer to grace the floor, but is truly a joy to behold as he learns each new routine.  I’m slightly apprehensive about seeing what Nancy Dell’Olio and Anton present this Saturday in the Halloween Special, but I wouldn’t miss it for anything.  Besides, it wouldn’t be so fun to watch if I couldn’t voice my own criticisms about dresses and routines.  My favourite to win? It’s early days yet, so perhaps I’ll save that for my next blog…