If you’re anything like me – and let’s all hope they find a cure for that and soon – then you just find yourself glued to the television screen on Saturday evenings watching the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing programme. It’s simply a perfect blend of elegant ballroom dancing, sexy latin dancing, judges who have become parodies of themselves, and laughing at celebrities with no natural rhythm and two or more left feet that forms a ratings winner.
This year has seen the introduction of two new changes to the programme format in a bid to freshen the show up and get people talking about it. I’m talking about so it must have worked!
First off is the voting results show being on a Sunday night instead of later on the Saturday. Far from enabling longer in the editing room to pad out the highlights clips and produce more programming hours for lower production costs whilst simultaneously trying to enforce channel loyalty and shift the ratings on Sunday evenings away from competitor channels, this move instead is due to "research" indicating that "the people" wanted their Sundays filled thusly. What people and what research? All will be revealed after Christmas in the new BBC TV series Strictly Come Dancing People And Research Secrets Revealed. Claudia Winkleman will also host the fanzine show It Takes Clipboards.
The second change to the programme is in the way the dancers are now voted off the show. The old method of the judges’ scores being supplemented by the public licence fee-payers democratic phone votes was deemed to be unfair to those celebrities who the judges had taken a shine to early on and decided should progress despite their obvious failings and clear bias from the panel. The makers of Strictly Come Dancing decided that a system that didn’t allow viewers of the programme to overrule the predetermined wishes of the tuxedoed elite was more in keeping with the spirit of a light entertainment programme. The judges now have a veto.
But enough bitterness, just who are the competitors (left at time of writing) in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing competition?
Dominic Littlewood & Lilia Kopylova
Dominic Littlewood is the cheekiest chappy known to mankind. It’s pretty near impossible to mention Dominic without using the word "cheeky" or some derivative in every sentence. His natural cheekiness is enhanced by dousing with Calvin Klein’s Eau Seau Cheeky on a daily basis. This envelops Dominic in a misty field of supercheeky particulates that scientists label "The Cheeky Zone". He fancies one of The Cheeky Girls; the gormless one.
Lilia is the fiery Russian minx that nobody would dare try turning into a fur coat. Oh wait, that’s mink. Anyway, what I’m trying to say here is that attempted skinning of Lilia should be avoided.
FACT: The combined heights of Dominic Littlewood and Lilia Kopylova comes to 8 centimetres.
Kelly Brook & Brendan Cole
Actress, model, television presenter and she sleeps with Billy Zane on a regular basis. I know! The Billy Zane. He was great in that thing he was in, wasn’t he? Anyway, that’s Kelly in a nutshell.
New Zealand professional dancer and keen amateur lothario Brendan Cole would like Kelly Brook in a nutshell if you know what I mean! That sounded more like an innuendo and less like a Roald Dahl fantasy sequence in my head. It doesn’t matter, though, because he’d have to fight Billy Zane to fulfill his nutshell-related dreams and there’s not a man alive who would try.
FACT: Billy Zane.
John Barnes & Nicole Cutler
John Barnes once scored a wonder goal against Brazil worthy of Pele. A little later he "rapped" on New Order’s England anthem World In Motion. Then he started wearing shiny silver-grey suits a lot and appearing as a pundit on various football programmes. Shiny silver-grey suits with your skin tone? John! Are you blind man?
Nicole Cutler is the South African former wife of fellow dancer Matthew Cutler. That’s right: it’s not just a coincidence them both having the same surname! The couple divorced acrimoniously in 2003 and must be kept separated by armed guards backstage on the show.
FACT: John Barnes has confessed to Nicole that his eternally happy demeanour is partially the result of too many headers during his professional football career.
Gabby Logan & James Jordan
Gabby Logan – former gymnast and current sports presenter – has got the edge in this year’s competition: the Celtic edge! Her Welsh heritage and marriage to Scottish rugby star Kenny Logan should make her a firm favourite when the celebrities perform the Jig.
James Jordan is married to Polish-born fellow dancer Ola. That lucky, lucky bastard.
FACT: Nobody dances the Jig in Strictly Come Dancing so Gabby’s screwed.
Matt Di Angelo & Flavia Cacace
Matt Di Angelo, most well-known for his role in the BBC’s Eastenders by those mad enough to watch it, was nominated in the "Sexiest Male" category at the British Soap Awards. There is no truth to the rumour circulating that he finished second behind Pam St Clement.
Flavia is a two-timer! A two-timer when it comes to winning the world championships for the Argentine Tango that is! She would never actually two-time her partner Vincent Simone though as he has electronically tagged her.
FACT: Matt has struggled to understand Flavia’s Italian accent during training so the pair have resorted to communicating via the Graffiti application on Facebook.
Letitia Dean & Darren Bennett
Letitia is the second star from Eastenders to be competing in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing and has the better legs of the two. Eastenders-based celebrities in the competition have traditionally done well so Letitia has a lot to learn if she wants to do as well as Jill Halfpenny, Patsy Palmer, Louise Lytton, and Ethel’s Little Willy.
Darren and his wife Lilia Kopylova are Britain’s number one Latin American pair. Ask them anything about Latin America and they’ll tell you the answer. Population density of Costa Rica? They know that. President of Honduras? They know that too.
FACT: To calm Letitia’s nerves before dancing Darren has been secretly injecting her with horse sedative.
Gethin Jones & Camilla Dallerup
Gethin is one of the current hosts of children’s TV show Blue Peter. He’s no Peter Duncan though. Or Simon Groom. Or Mark Curry. Or Yvette Fielding. Or John Noakes. Or Janet Ellis. He probably looks most like Janet Ellis out of that lot but there are still differences. Scary differences.
When Camilla isn’t dancing she likes nothing more than relaxing with a pint of Carlsberg and a bacon sandwich while watching Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis in The Vikings. Just like all Danish people.
FACT: Camilla and Gethin’s training has suffered so far due to Camilla refusing to believe that Gethin is a real name. She’s got a point there.
Kate Garraway & Anton Du Beke
Kate Garraway is the second presenter from GMTV to appear as a celebrity dancer on Strictly Come Dancing but she probably won’t be the last as rumours abound that Roland Rat may star next year.
Anton has earned something of a reputation for his wit and occasionally "naughty" remarks. As such he has become an unwitting rival to head judge Len Goodman and has been the subject of over thirty assassination attempts in his time on the show.
FACT: Anton has made Kate laugh so much during rehearsals that she now has appendicitis and a dislocated jaw in addition to her tendonitis.
Kenny Logan & Ola Jordan
Kenny Logan wrote the songs "I’m Alright" for Caddyshack, "Footloose" for Footloose, and "Danger Zone" for Top Gun but these days is best known for dancing like he’s Diarmuid Gavin and Quentin Wilson rolled into one.
Ola’s husband and fellow dancer James is one lucky, lucky bastard.
FACT: Ola has expressed extreme frustration this year because her dance partner is frequently confused with Kenny Loggins.
Penny Lancaster Stewart & Ian Waite
Photographer and model Penny is married to rock star and football fanatic Rod Stewart but doesn’t share her husband’s devotion to that particular sport, instead preferring the challenge of kickboxing with Janette Krankie in her spare time.
Ian Waite’s great height can be attributed to his many years on the rack being tortured for heresy against the church. While the Inqusitors stretched him he escaped into a fantasy world where he was an elegant dancer and so, upon his release, he gave up his previous career as Danny Devito’s stunt double and became the man we know today.
FACT: During a storm Penny and Ian act as lightning rods.
Willie Thorne & Erin Boag
Former professional snooker player Willie Thorne is the most moustachioed celebrity appearing on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing and has surprised viewers and judges alike already with his light-footedness in the quickstep. Those who know Willie will not have been so shocked, though, as he is actually a helium-based lifeform.
Erin’s first two partners in the competition’s previous years were Julian Clary and Colin Jackson. For the native New Zealander this was an affront to her upbringing with rugged men and rugged sheep and rugged rugby training in the rugged nunnery where she was educated. Ruggedly. Subsequently, the producers of the show have bowed to her wishes and foisted upon her the largest men they could find in Peter Schmeichel and Willie Thorne. You don’t want to anger a Kiwi.
FACT: Willie and Erin’s shared interest in crime fiction has led to their forming a detective agency specialising in Steve Davis-based murders.
Alesha Dixon & Matthew Cutler
Alesha was one third of nineties girl band Mis-Teeq. Then she was one half of the failed duo Alesha And Tony. Currently she is entirely her own individual but intends to form a new group after Strictly finishes where she will be seven fifths of The Top Heavy Fractions.
Matthew Cutler lists on his website that his favourite foods are anything from Indian to Sushi. Anything outside Indian to Sushi sends Matthew into a fiery rage though and that includes chips, bread, tortillas, and apples. Especially apples. Give Matthew an apple and he’ll tear your throat out like Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse.
FACT: Matthew has told viewers that he finds Alesha’s Muttley-like laugh endearing but his body language indicates he’s about five chuckles away from snapping and throttling her to death.