Strictly Come Dancing: Opening Night Review

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two weeks, you’ll no doubt be aware that Strictly Come Dancing waltzes back onto our screens this Saturday night, with the celebrity talent show already celebrating its tenth birthday already. How time has flown, I mean tangoed….

The line-up for this year was announced earlier last week, featuring celebrities from a wide-range of backgrounds, including Olympic athletes, soap stars, musicians and Johnny Ball, who at the tender age of 74 is the show’s oldest competitor.

While normally filmed live, Strictly’s first show in the series was pre-filmed, enabling the celebrities to fit in as much dance training as possible. And a few of them may need it, if Saturday is anything to go by, with the evening being a mixed bag for both cast and production.

Brucie was in a fiery mood, and certainly got the spirits of the crowd up, some of whom had been queuing to get in since 9am. His jokes were on-form too, and at the ripe old age of 82 the old crooner in my opinion can still entertain an audience better than the majority of current presenters. Tess was her lovely self, but I can’t help but feel her mind was on other things, with the presenter consistently saying ‘grope’ instead of ‘group’. I can’t blame her though, Sid Owen does have that effect on people..

And despite a camera being accidently knocked over and a lens smashed, the evening went off without a hitch, with the BBC squeezing a lot into this week’s episode. The show opens with a professional dance, before going straight into this week’s business: the partnering of celebrities and dancers. Based on the faces of everyone involved, all looked happy with the selection choices, even Anton for once. There’s also a performance from Mika and dance from new judge Darcey Bussell, followed up by the long-awaited moment the celebrities take to the dance-floor for the first time.

Predictively, some come across better than others, with Louis Smith (who unsurprisingly says he’s “going for gold” in the show), incorporating gymnastic moves into the set and Denise Van Outen throwing off some classic theatre moves. No wait that can’t be right, she apparently can’t dance despite being in a WestEnd dance show. Silly me.

Anyway, the show certainly means a lot to some of the celebs, with Eastenders actor Sid Owen confiding in me that he “would cry” if kicked out the first week. Oh dear, better put the Kleenex on standby, just in case. Larger than life Lisa Riley is in a confident mood, saying she is doing Strictly for “all the chubbers out there.” Don’t write off the big girl from the start either- she’s had a lot of dancing practice in the past.

Some of the contestants are already getting close to one another, with Victoria Pendleton and Dani Harmer looking particularly cosied up. No doubt as they progress through the weeks the rivalry will inevitably drive a wedge through this budding partnership- the cyclist is known to take no prisoners when it comes to competition…

The judges are also on top-form, with Darcy trying visibly to get to grips for the first time with Strictly’s awful chairs. Seriously, if you’ve never been to see the show before, let’s just say the dedicated seating is tight to say the least, indeed I left with no feeling in the lower half of my body.

But anyway, back to the gruesome foursome who rate the stars. Craig’s his usual darrrrrrrling self, and already he’s got the knives out for the celebs and Anton in particular, whom he ripped into from the start. “Darrrrrlings, we haven’t even started yet!” was his retort to a chorus of booing from the crowd. No change there then.

Bruno looks like he’s firing on all Italian cylinders, calling this year’s celebrity line-up a “dream team, with something for everyoneâ€?. But head judge Len and new girl Darcy appear to only have eyes for one contestant: Jerry Hall and her supermodel legs, which really are as long as you think they are.

By popular demand, the dance offs are back this year, a move which is surely displease the judges once again. Like the majority of practical jokers amongst the British public, I voted repeatedly for John Sergeant during his stint in the competition, the look each week on Craig’s face being my reward. As for whom will be this years ‘dead horse’ to flog, I’m not too sure yet, but let’s just say I have my eye on Johnny, Sid and Richard. The real competition begins three weeks from now however, so plenty of time to get that speed-dial organised on my phone. In Brucie’s words, “let the war on the floor” begin!

Strictly Come Dancing will be taking three weeks off to give the contestants time to practice, before the competition starts properly on Friday 5th October