Strictly Come Blogging

Louise. Lou. Loulabelle. Loulabelle44. Louby.
Proudly blogging about Strictly Come Dancing ALL YEAR ROUND since 2006.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lesley Joseph For Strictly?

Lesley Joseph has reportedly joined this year's Strictly competition. 

If the report in The Sun is true, she would be the oldest female contestant in the show's history.

A source told the paper: Strictly bosses have wanted Lesley for years. She is determined not to just be the token older contestant.”

Lesley's Birds Of A Feather co-stars Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson would be delighted, I'm sure. Both are big fans of the show.

Lesley took part in Let's Dance For Sport Relief in 2010 alongside Linda, Jenny Eclair and Susie Blake, so you can get a sneak peek of her dancing skills and judge for yourself.

'Deadlock' For Strictly?

Could Strictly start using an X Factor-style 'deadlock' tiebreaker?

Speculation has been running rife since it was announced that head judge Len Goodman will be leaving the panel at the end of the upcoming series.

One suggestion is to take the 'deciding vote', which Len currently has in tied situations, away from the panel and turn it over to the public. If the judging panel are tied, the public vote would decide the winner.

A source told the Radio Times"I would very much doubt that the new member of the panel would come in as Head Judge and have the final say. Darcey’s the most sensible out of all of them. Craig’s the harshest and Bruno – would he take it seriously? Out of those three you couldn’t help but think Darcey. But then Darcey hasn’t been in the show as long as the others... There's arguments for all of them."

The whole point of pooling the judges was avoid the 'John Sergeant Effect', where poor dancers were being voted through at the expense of those with more skill. But all that has really done is make viewers work even harder to save weaker dancers and keep them out of the bottom two altogether.

Deadlock is an interesting notion, and would expose the Jamelias - unpopular with the public but saved by the judges. But it could also lead to judges 'fence sitting', and forcing votes to deadlock so they do not look like the bad guy.

Congratulations, Ben & Kristina!

Kristina Rihanoff and her partner Ben Cohen have welcomed a baby girl into the world.

The news was confirmed in an official statement to Hello! last week: "Ben and Kristina are delighted to confirm they are the parents of a beautiful baby girl. They would like to thank friends and family for all their kind wishes at this happy time."

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Len's Final Countdown

The BBC have announced that the upcoming series of Strictly Come Dancing will be Len Goodman's last.

Len, Bruno, Craig and Darcey are all returning for 2016 alongside hosts Tess and Claudia, but this will be the final year we'll hear "Seveeeeeeeen!" and "It's a 10 from Len".

Len said: “In 2004, I was asked to take part in a brand new BBC Saturday night show and who would have thought me, old Len Goodman, would still be part of this amazing series more than 10 years on. This adventure began when I was 60 and now that I’ve reached my 70s, I’ve decided after this year it’s time to hand the role of Head Judge to someone else. It is an honour being part of the wonderful Strictly Come Dancing family and I’m looking forward to my last series very much and to whatever comes next.”

The announcement has sparked speculation about the future make-up of the judging panel. Will he be replaced, or could we have a three-judge panel like Dancing With The Stars?

Several names have already been suggested, including Karen Hardy and Ian Waite, both of whom have regular analyist roles on It Takes Two, former pro Flavia Cacace, Camilla Sacre-Dallerup, who served as a judge on the Strictly live tour in 2015, and current pro Anton du Beke, who has been with the show since the beginning and may be looking to move into a non-competitive role.

I would hope that all of the names above are considered. Any replacement for Len must have a ballroom and latin background in order for the series to retain any level of integrity, which even with Len on the panel has been questionable in recent years.

Last series, in virtually every case, the dance-off result was decided before we got to Len's vote, and in most of those cases he said he agreed with his colleagues. Perhaps we need someone with some differing opinions.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Daisy, Daisy

Has Daisy, Daisy Lowe given her answer to Strictly producers?

According to the Daily Star Sunday, the model has said "Yes" to taking part in the next series.

A source said: “Daisy is a great signing – she’s one of the girls of the moment. Producers hope she will help give the show a new lease of life and attract some new younger viewers. She’s part of that trendy young Primrose Hill set and is quite edgy compared to a lot of those who normally sign up.”

And it appears that she's not wasting any time to get ready for the show: “The show doesn’t start for over two months but she has already started practicing. She’s taking it really seriously and wants to do well.”

Aliona Could Return As Choreographer

Aliona Vilani could return to Strictly as a choreographer.

Despite quitting the main show at the end of the last series, she has always expressed an interest in staying involved, and is now trying to formalise that with the producers.

A source told the Daily Mirror: “She is bored and really keen to get back on the show in some capacity. She is currently talking to show bosses about having a choreography role, and she is their number one dancer to turn to if someone has an injury."

Seeing Double?

Will we be seeing double when Strictly returns this autumn?

According to The Sun, it's a distinct possibility, as the producers are trying to sign up TV doctors, and identical twins, Xand and Chris Van Tulleken.

A source told the paper: "Over the years, Strictly have had contestants from pretty much every industry. But they’ve never signed up siblings, let alone twins. Chris and Xand are both intelligent, charismatic guys who the audience are sure to warm to. And watching how they compete would be fascinating. Chris is quite on board with the idea, but Xand still needs to be persuaded. So now they are really pulling out the stops to convince him to go ahead.”

I don't know anything about the Van Tullekens and I've never seen them on TV. But the idea of having identical twins on the show is an interesting one. Are identical twins really as similar as everyone thinks?

And who could resist a partner-swap bit on ITT...?

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Rumour Has It...

Oh my gosh! So many Strictly Come Dancing rumours. I feel that there may be too many for one post, but I'm going to attempt it anyway...

The Daily Star reports that Will Young is being courted. A source told the paper: “Will is a brilliant signing for us. He is extremely popular, he is a true professional, he can be quite competitive and he is no shrinking violet. He famously put Simon Cowell in his place on Pop Idol when he slated his performance and called it “average”. So we cannot imagine he will hold his tongue when facing the wrath of judge Craig Revel Horwood.”

Will has been a musical guest multiple times. It would be great to see him be part of the show. I think he'd take it very seriously.

Another past muscial guest, Anastacia, is also rumoured to be taking part. A source told The Sun“Anastacia is on tour at the moment but she is incredibly excited about appearing on Strictly in a few months’ time. BBC bosses are also very pleased to have her on board, as they are sure the British public will really warm to her.”

Anastacia is very charismatic, and as a singer, should have a good sense of timing.

The Sun makes it sound as though Louise Redknapp is a done deal. A source said: “Louise has been top of the Strictly hit list for years. She’s a huge star and they feel she will bring class and glamour. They’re absolutely thrilled they’ve finally got her.”

Louise is no stranger to performing after her years in Eternal. She could be a good choice.

The Sun also reports that TV presenter Laura Whitmore has been signed. A source told the paper: “Laura loves the show and is partial to dance on a night out so Strictly is a great fit.”

I'm not so convinced that Laura is a done deal based on this comment.

The Sun's smug showbiz reporter Dan Wooten claims that Judge Rinder, or Robert to his friends, has signed up. Though I'm surprised anyone is willing to talk to, a source apparently said: “Anybody who has watched Judge Rinder will know that he is going to be a brilliant match for Craig. Producers hope they will go for each other and are predicting that new viewers will tune in just to see them go head-to-head. We don’t know whether he can dance or has a background in it, but we know he certainly is entertaining."

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Three New Pros, Gleb Departs

The BBC have announced the pro line-up for 2016, with three new pros joining the competition.

Photos Igor Malakhov; Gorka Marquez; Edward Gelhaus

Gorka Marquez is a Spanish latin specialist and a veteran of Burn The Floor (of course!). Here is a clip of him performing a paso with his professional partner Irene Martin in 2012.

He said: “I feel very excited and grateful to be joining Strictly Come Dancing and to be one of the professional dancers for the new series. It’s something that every dancer dreams of and something that I always wanted to have the opportunity to do.”

The name Katya Jones might ring a bell with some. Russian-born Katya is the wife and professional partner of Strictly choreographer Neil Jones. Here is a clip of Katya & Neil performing a show dance in 2013.

Katya said: “I am so privileged to be joining Strictly Come Dancing. I know it is extremely intense, but so am I! I am fierce, fabulous, and would love to win!”

The final newbie is Oksana Platero. Oksana is from Ukraine, and was formerly a troupe dancer on Dancing With The Stars in the US. Here she is performing a samba on the show with Kiki Nyemchek.

Oksana said: “Words cannot describe how extremely excited I am to be joining the Strictly Come Dancing family this year. I am so fortunate to be given the opportunity. It feels so surreal and I cannot wait to get started.”

It has also been announced that Gleb Savchenko has decided not to return: “I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the last series of Strictly Come Dancing and especially the way that the UK gave me such a warm welcome but due to family commitments I won't be returning to the show for the next series - I'll definitely be tuning in though.”

A nation mourns the fact that the 'Gleb special' will not see the light of day again.

So, the female line-up will be Katya, Oksana, Karen, Janette, Natalie, Oti and Joanne, who returns to the competition after only featuring in pro numbers last year.

The male line up will be Gorka, Anton, Brendan, Aljaž, Giovanni, Kevin and Pasha.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Putting The 'Strict' Into Strictly

Strictly Come Dancing's professional dancers are facing a raft of new rules in their new contracts, which will attempt to prevent controversy around the Saturday night family favourite.

According to the Daily Mirror, the new rules prevent pros from cutting their hair, having cosmetic surgery or setting up call centres to generate votes.

A source said: “Some of these stipulations are ridiculous, it’s always funny when they come through. There’ve been instances where dancers have run into trouble after flouting these rules.”

Dancers must also be respectful of their partners on social media and declare any political involvement, and the BBC retains all final decisions on make-up and costume.

Len Set To Return To DWTS

Len Goodman has decided to resume judging duties on Dancing With The Stars, enticed by a £3m pay deal.

A source told The Sun“Len genuinely wanted to take a step back and enjoy a bit more free time. But he still has the energy of a man half his age so he thought why not. And the money is a bonus.”

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Theatre Review: Norma Jeane - The Musical

When Joanne Clifton first announced she would be starring in a musical, I raised an eyebrow.

I'm usually first in the queue to support the Strictly fraternity in their endeavours outside the programme. A theatre tour. Maybe a panto. But this was something that no other dancer from the show had done - a proper acting role.

Norma Jeane - The Musical is set in the mind of the eponymous movie star, as she spends time in Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in New York. She is visited by relatives, all voices in her head, and looks back on her troubled life.

On stage, Marilyn is represented by three actresses - Sarah Rose Denton as the troubled and lost Norma Jeane, Joanne Clifton as the glamourous and confident Marilyn Monroe, and the pair are later joined by Ruth Betteridge as a young Norma Jeane.

So, what of Joanne and my raised eyebrow?

Joanne Clifton and Sarah Rose Denton

Joanne is a marvelous Marilyn. She embodies the sexy, glamourous and confident persona of the starlet, deluded and caught-up her own hype. She sings and dances, and delivers some of the funniest (and most profane!) lines in the show. And this is no cameo. No token casting to get bums on seats. Joanne pulls her weight with the rest of the cast, only leaving the stage at brief moments to change into another one of Marilyn's signature outfits. Not once did her character slip.

Joanne can carry a tune too, performing several songs, although at times her voice was lost in the music. I'm sure she'll only improve as the run goes on. The music itself tells the story, but you probably won't leave the theatre humming any of it.

While this is far from being a dance show, those who cannot live without for a bit of Strictly fairy dust are catered for. Choreographer Adam Scrown has included some dancing for Joanne, so you get to see her do what she's known for.

The rest of the cast are not to be forgotten. Denton is the perfect juxtaposition to Joanne in her role as Norma Jeane. And Joseph Bader keeps things moving as her uncle Marion, serving as the piece's narrator.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and I wish the whole cast and crew a very successful run.

Norma Jeane - The Musical is on at the LOST Theatre in London until 18th June. Visit TicketSource to purchase tickets.

I attended the press night on 1st June 2016.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Congratulations, Katya!

Congratulations to former Strictly pro Katya Virshilas and her husband Klaus, who have welcomed a new baby son into their family.

A spokesperson for the couple told Hello!: "Katya Virshilas and Klaus Kongsdal are delighted to announce the birth of their beautiful baby boy. Mother and baby are doing well."

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Michaela Wants To Dance

Wildlife presenter Michaela Strachan would love to appear on Strictly, but has never been asked.

The Daily Express reports that Michaela told Event magazine: "I've never been asked to go on Strictly Come Dancing. I wonder if producers overlook me because of my dance background, but if they're reading this, come and get me! I used to be a can-can dancer. When I was training as a dancer I formed a little can-can troupe with some of the girls I was studying with. We did a lot of shows - the biggest one was a charity do at the Royal Albert Hall. We did a 15 minute can-can, which was totally exhausting."

I think Michaela would be a great choice. She so fun and likable. Make the call, BBC!

Actress To Get Down-ton?

Strictly producers are reportedly keen to sign former Downton Abbey actress Michele Dockery.

A source told the Daily Mirror: Strictly bosses have been trying to get her on the show for years. But she’s always been tied down to ITV because she was in a contract with them, and filming with Downton would always overlap with Strictly. Now she’s not working for ITV they’ve pounced on her. They know she could be a star attraction.”