Strictly Launch Show 2015

Last weekend the Strictly season began again when the launch show was broadcast on Saturday night. After the couples are paired up on the launch show, they have about 3 weeks to train before the first live shows at the end of September. The programme returned with all the campness, cheesiness and dancing that we have come to expect and I loved the sketch at the beginning with all the pros in the house and then the train with Bruno shovelling glitter.

Despite a lot of the press bemoaning the “lack of stars” in this year’s line up, I am quite looking forward to it. The only celeb I didn’t know before was Daniel O’Donnell as I don’t think I am the right age demographic to be one of his fans. There has also been moaning that many of the celebs are employed by the BBC. I don’t see the problem with this as although I enjoyed last year’s line up many of last year’s celebs wouldn’t have been recognisable to the older, more constant members of the audience. I think it’s also quite clever to use BBC stars in a time when the BBC is under scrutiny by the government as it showcases the talent that the BBC uses. Generally, from a dancing point of view, none of the contestants look to be completely awful or obvious comedy contestants so there will hopefully be more focus on the dancing and more spectacular dances! However, this could mean some shock boots in the early part of the series.

So let’s analyse the couples…

Natalie Lowe and Ainslie Harriott

Natalie Lowe and Ainslie Harriott

I like this pairing! I love Ainsley – I remember him from Ready Steady Cook when I was little and he remains one of my favourite episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? as well. I had the same levels of excitement as Jack Whitehall when Ainsley was revealed on The One Show because it just seemed perfect for Ainsley, why hadn’t he done strictly sooner? I like the pairing as they are the right height for each other and Natalie will be able to get him to the halfway stage at least. Ainsley was part of a calypso band and seems to have some natural rhythm so his Latin should be good. If anyone can control his personality and hips for ballroom, it’s got to be Natalie! Their first steps video isn’t up yet but from Natalie’s twitter pics I would guess that it’s something Latin or maybe Charleston which would suit Ainsley well.

Jay McGuinness and Aliona Vilani

Jay McGuinness and Aliona Vilani

Finally after having ‘first boots’ for the last few years i.e. since she won, Aliona has someone young and possibly a contender. Jay apparently has experience in contemporary dance so he has danced before. However, he was surprisingly extremely nervous in the launch show and as a result, appeared very stiff in the group dance. He does seem to be quite witty on his social media so Aliona needs to work on removing the nerves and bringing his personality through on the live shows. No clue as to what they are dancing yet but as long as he can control his nerves, his dancing should be fine.

Ola Jordan and Iwan Thomas

Ola Jordan and Iwan Thomas

Iwan’s over-eagerness to be in skintight clothing/half naked and his busy personality are already wearing thin with me. However, I found Simon to be a bit weird and unlikeable in the launch last year and then he ended up being one of my favourites. If the press are to be believed, Ola was unhappy that she got Iwan and not Peter Andre but I think Ola couldn’t have got Peter due to her almost sabotaging her career last year. I think Iwan was probably her best option despite a difference in height. Not sure what he is dancing yet but he seems to be jet setting all over the place so a key concern for this couple will be if they can get enough training hours.

Jeremy Vine and Karen Clifton

Jeremy Vine and Karen Clifton

I quite liked how Jeremy came across on the programme but I am still not a fan of the new Mrs Clifton. It’s interesting that all the pro finalists from last year (bar Kevin) have partners who are not likely to be finalists. Despite Jeremy’s enthusiasm and average dancing in the group dance, I think he will be an early boot because I don’t think his fan base will be as big as the other contestants. I think he may be good at ballroom but his latin might need work.

Helen George and Aljaz Skorjanec

Helen George and Aljaz Skorjanec

I think this couple is promising as Aljaz has proved he can win already and that he is quite fun as a teacher. Helen has a degree in musical theatre so she should be a very good dancer so I sense a strong partnership which is technically very good. She looks very delicate and petite – she will look amazing in ballroom. Again, her latin may be her downfall and need more work but I think she could be a good all-rounder and possible finalists.

Jamelia and Tristan MacManus

Jamelia and Tristan MacManus

This is an interesting partnership. Jamelia is this year’s marmite contestant. I liked her songs when she was a popstar when I was younger but since then she has become a controversial figure as a panellist on Loose Women. In training pictures ahead of the launch show, she was seen practising in the breaks and this worked as she looked confident and promising in the group dance. This suggests she has a good ethic towards rehearsing. This could be good for Tristan who left early with Jennifer Gibney last year and has had older partners on Dancing With The Stars for many years too. Tristan will need to show he can produce more complex choreography to get far in the competition.

Giovanni Pernice and Georgia May Foote

Giovanni Pernice and Georgia May Foote

A promising pairing in terms of talent because as an actress, Georgia must have some dance experience or stage school experience that will help her. I expect her to be better at the latin as I think her height will be better for those like jive and salsa. Their training, from what I can see from Twitter, seems to be going brilliantly and their dance is fast and exhausting so it indicates that team GG has a latin dance. What I think will get tiring is if they try to build on the similarities of Louisa and Vincent which they were trying to replicate in the launch show with Georgia’s lime green dress and Giovanni’s whole introduction which felt like he was chanelling Vincent without the cheekiness.

Anita Rani and Gleb Savchenko

Anita Rani and Gleb Savchenko

This could go either way. I couldn’t see much of Anita in the group dance so can’t tell if she showed promise but from her build, I think she could be good with the right teaching in both latin and ballroom. There’s a bit of a height difference which could affect some of the dances but Gleb with all his “international experience” should be able to adapt choreography to suit Anita. I am definitely going to tire of the ‘how good looking is Gleb’ thing after a week or so. Not sure what they are dancing yet but from their social media, they seem to get on very well which is a good sign for their partnership.

Kevin Clifton and Kellie Bright

Kevin Clifton and Kellie Bright

Again, as an actress Kellie should have some, however minimal, dance experience. I think Kevin has been quite lucky with his partners’ abilities so far during his time on the show. Kellie seems enthusiastic but let’s hope Eastenders doesn’t give her a challenging storyline which will exhaust her like Jake Wood/Scott Maslen meaning that Kellie and Kevin leave earlier than expected. Their training video is online already and from the steps it looks like they will be dancing the tango. It looks good but it seems Kevin just teaches choreography and routine rather than technique.

Anton du Beke and Katie Derham

Anton du Beke and Katie Derham

Anton appears to have got a more capable partner than usual so hopefully no comedy routines and less of an arrogant Anton this series. My only worry with this pairing is that Anton’s latin choreography when he has had good partners like Patsy Palmer/Laila Rouass has been underwhelming so I hope that he gets help with this choreography as Katie looked VERY good in the group dance. Their ballroom should be brilliant.

Pasha Kovalev and Carol Kirkwood

Pasha Kovalev and Carol Kirkwood

After three finalists and one halfway stage (and later girlfriend), Pasha finally has an older partner not obviously destined to be in the final. Carol is very positive and enthusiastic so she will tackle every dance she is given. However, she appeared to be the weakest female celeb in the group dance. She may stay in longer than expected as she is very popular and has many fans who will vote for her. It will be interesting to see how Pasha choreographs for an older, less experienced dancer.

Kirsty Gallacher and Brendan Cole

Kirsty Gallacher and Brendan Cole

I was a bit annoyed with Brendan last year as he seemed withdrawn and as if he didn’t want to be there which looked very disrespectful to Sunetra. However, I think he will be committed this year as him and Kirsty seem to be a perfect partnership. She is sporty and fit with a good work ethic, like Gabby Logan was (who coincidentally is one of her best friends). Not sure what she is dancing yet but she has revealed blisters on her social media which look like they could be from latin shoes rather than ballroom so I would guess they have the Cha Cha Cha.

Oti Mabuse and Antony Ogogo

Oti Mabuse and Antony Ogogo

On paper this looks to be a good partnership as Anthony will have the sportsman work ethic and Oti, the most engaging of the new pros, looks to be a lot of fun but strict when necessary. However, boxers haven’t done very well in Strictly before and with an injured shoulder, he probably won’t be able to do all the lifts that Oti loves. That said, I think their latin will be very energetic and exciting – it looks from their Twitter comments that they are doing something fast like jive for their first dance.

Janette Manrara and Peter Andre

Janette Manrara and Peter Andre

Despite Ola’s alleged disappointment, I think Janetter and Peter are very well suited together as the shortest male celeb and shortest female pro. Janette proved herself to be good with contenders last year as she got very far with Jake Wood. He looked very confident and good in the group dance compared to the other men. His training video emphasises this as he seems to be picking up steps and the routine quickly. It looks like he will be doing latin so probably a cha cha cha.

Daniel O'Donnell and Kristina Rihanoff

Daniel O’Donnell and Kristina Rihanoff

I quite like this pairing – predictable it is given Kristina’s recent press coverage. Like the other pro finalists, she has been given more of a novice dancer to train with this series. Despite not knowing who he was and his slow pace when talking and most likely dancing, he seems willing to learn and improve. His ballroom will probably be better than his latin as the aforementioned pace suggests! Even if he is not great, apparently he has a legion of fans who will vote for him so he may be in longer than expected. It looks like they have the waltz for their first dance from their training video which I think will be the perfect dance for them. A little part of the routine is covered but what I like about their training is about how Kristina teaches the basics and helps her partner understand technique rather than just marking a routine with no understanding of steps. I noticed this last year when Simon could name and recognise the steps and looked forward to learning them.

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