It’s been a good year on the box, hasn’t it? SkandiNoir is now a generic term to describe any moody, atmospheric murder mystery being unravelled in damp weather, while Mad Men did the unthinkable and ended.
The ‘Hints’ blog post was becoming a little too long, so I split them into two parts – just like the Strictly Come Dancing Final itself!
The Strictly Come Dancing Final is upon us!
It’s normally the celebrities who experience a rollercoaster ride but this year, it seems that Series 15 itself is suffering more.
The People’s Strictly kicked off last night – and shares in Kleenex must have soared!
With an audience potentially split between this, The Brits and Wolf Hall, it quickly became clear that for depth of character, drama, passion and all round life affirming goodness, BBC1 was the place to be.
This wasn’t just any emotional rollercoaster. This was us being more emotionally rollercoastered than ever before, as we met three of the deserving Strictly Come Dancing fans being given their chance to shine in the Strictly ballroom.
Michael, Cassidy and Heather are three of the most inspiring people you’ll ever meet. Their selflessness in the face of shattering adversity in their own lives just serves to remind us how powerful the human spirit really is. Read all about them below, along with Trishna, Anna and Phil, who we’ll be introduced to next week and whose stories are just as incredible.
From left to right of the above image (top row and then bottom):
- Anna Kennedy, who set up a school for people with autism, is dancing with Robin Windsor
- Former Marine medic, Cassidy Little, is dancing with Natalie Lowe
- Heather Parsons, who set up a charity to support intensive care patients and their families, is dancing with Ian Waite
- Youth theatre company director and fundraiser Phil Barnett is dancing with Janette Manrara
- Multiple Sclerosis fundraiser and awareness campaigner Trishna Bharadia is dancing with Aljaz Skorjanez
- Meningitis fundraiser and awareness campaigner Michael Pattie is dancing with Aliona Vilani
The couples will compete for the People’s Glitter Ball in a live show on March 11, hosted by Tess and Claudia. We’ll vote for our winner, who’ll be crowned The People’s Strictly champion during Comic Relief on March 13.
The Twitter timeline was awash with virtual tears and tributes to these amazing people. Here’s a selection (to prove it wasn’t only me sobbing my heart out!)
The Three Heroes (click to read the quotes)
The Heartbreaking One
The Men Sobbing
The Competitive Edge
The Unashamed Tributes (a fraction)
The Last Words
… and watch out for the B word.
Yes, it’s the annual week-before-we-go-to-Blackpool bonanza.
But back to my original reason for coming here. OLA!!! Steve can dance – just because he can throw throw you from one side of the dance floor to the other doesn’t mean we didn’t want to see those amazing Charleston moves again that we saw so brilliantly in the quickstep, and all too little of, in this Charleston. Grrr – so frustrated last week, – that could have been the dance that netted them the undying devotion of a whole bunch of viewers, just like it did for Team Cola. Such a missed opportunity 😦
It was the same disappointment I felt when Natalie walked out in a leotard with Ricky Whittle, and similar repulsion for Lisa and Brendan. As for the World Champion Show Dancers, well, I’d rather watch Scott and Joanne’s foxtrot again. Seriously – I agreed with Len, re the dance off – Scott’s foxtrot was much cleaner than Alison’s, and the whole routine was a pretty decent effort, considering where he’d come from.
Frankie and Kevin stormed the dance floor again with their tango – such an emotional song and they danced it perfectly, she’s become a strong favourite for me. Mark and Karen have brought themselves right into contention – and the training footage for tonight looks to cement that position.
Caroline is still being Miss Consistent, Sunetra still has her lovely arms, I too noticed Jake’s flappy foot a couple of week’s ago, and Steve will hopefully put in a strong showing in the Paso – he needs a big dance. As I write this, Carmen’s Overture has just begun playing on the radio – a good omen, perhaps? Let’s hope so!
I love Movie Night on Strictly. This, combined with one of my favourite songs from a favourite movie being used by one of my favourite couples dancing one of my favourite dances means I was a very happy bunny last weekend.
Team StevO did everything and more that could possibly be asked of them, with a fun, bright and lively routine to I Wanna Be Like You that must have cemented them as firm favourites of those who like their dancing with bucket loads of personality. And that’s the last use of a word threatening to usurp the ‘J’ word with an ‘F’ word!
I thought I’d reserve judgment until three weeks in, so I could get a good look at all them doing Latin and Ballroom. In the meantime, we’ve lost Gregg and Jennifer (and, very sadly, the lovely Tristan 😦 …) and I’ve decided I’m only going to concentrate on those I enjoy the most (rather than having to be positive about those I don’t – because I’m not an Internet Troll and don’t say nasty things about people – regardless of what I might be thinking!).
So Team StevO, having stormed upon us with a fantastic tango, followed with a passable cha cha that just needed a bit more hip action – which we have seen – so I’m hopeful for tonight. You might remember that Ola and Chris Hollins began with a terrific tango, and Steve is pretty much a bigger version. Normal, happy, fun, keen to learn. I’m just sayin’ … There is a danger we could see the rise of an ‘N’ word as we go along. I can’t be doing with grumpiness and tears (see earlier Strictlyfied post).
Frankie and Kevin’s Paso Doble blew me away. The passion and attack were brilliant, her timing, the acting – it was fierce. A lovely waltz and a slightly strange yet wonderful charleston-come-jive means she’s in my top three as a beautiful dancer but very natural and n… down to earth.
Caroline and Pasha I think are brilliant together. The rumba kept moving with some lovely shapes and lots of action, especially those twirly things – supported promenades? A sassy cha cha and a dramatic tango, all delivered with real commitment. And she’s n … n …. oh, what the hell. Normal. No drama, no grumpiness, just like one of us.
As a fiction writer, I know conflict is everything, and I know TV producers probably encourage it. But Strictly (as with the Great British Bake Off) is a different animal. We want cosy, we want cheesy, we want to sit there wearing a soppy smile along with our sequinned aprons. Which is why, as an audience, we generally vote for the down to earth, good dancers, who aren’t having to work hard in front of the cameras. One piece of constructive criticism for Simon – don’t be grumpy! That’s the only reason you ended up in the bottom two.
Tapping on the window, looking in at my top three are Jake, Alison and Sunetra. Jake’s salsa was incredible and his waltz and tango showed off his acting abilities with great technique. Alison is fabulous, so groovy and bags of personality brought onto the dance floor with her in all three dances so far, cha cha, foxtrot and jive. Sunetra is going to get better and better I feel, and will be challenging the top of the leaderboard – a 9 from Len for her American Smooth? Come on! She’s also shown how nifty she can be in Latin.
So will things change around tonight? Will someone else make a breakthrough onto my shortlist? Will one of the above have a complete meltdown and totally shred my musings into the nearest bucket and be thrown into recycling? I hope not …
It’s back, and with Tess and Claudia in charge as many of us wanted, so Yay!
First impressions … Greg was wearing a permanent, infectious grin and Jake looked pretty nifty but too stoney faced. Frankie and Pixie, as expected, were trim and precise, but Alison outshone both with bags of oomph. Judy seemed a little stiff but her posture looked good – she’ll no doubt warm up, while Thom could well be the whole package – as long as he’s not too earnest. Tim made me laugh – twice – his partnership with Natalie (hurrah, she’s back) already very charming and natural – and he likes flinging himself around, which is something I always want to hear. Simon clearly has a lot of talent, as we’ve seen before, and Caroline can channel the Strictly on Wheels experience to good effect. I didn’t see enough of the others to pass any judgement.
The ‘Unfair advantage’ lot are already pointing fingers, so let’s stop for a moment and discuss: It’s bullshit. Learning to dance ballroom and Latin is totally different to shaking your booty. The pop stars may have the timing, but the sporty folk have the stamina and discipline and the actors bring character. The TV and radio presenters have less experience being on stage but the nature of their jobs is to make the most of their personalities.
Which brings me to the Dos and Don’ts of how to win Strictly:
Don’t be too earnest and over analyse everything – let yourself go and enjoy it.
Don’t moan, cry or complain – we’d give our right legs to be in your position. Which would make things bloody awkward but you get my drift.
Do what your Pro tells you.
Don’t backchat the judges – they know better than you. However, they (and we) love a bit of banter – learn the difference.
Don’t keep telling us how funny you are. It’s like laughing at your own jokes, don’t do it. Make us laugh without meaning to – see note re Tim above.
Be confident, not arrogant.
Do fall in love with dancing – it’ll be obvious to us if you don’t.
Do realise that the worst case scenario of falling over, forgetting your steps or having a major wardrobe malfunction is still massively offset by being given, at the very least, four weeks intensive training with a professional, and two days of pampering and spangly frocks/tuxedos to play at Cinderella or Prince Charming.
Easy, isn’t it?