Strictly Come Blogging

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

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Next! Mel Giedroyc

TV presenter Mel Giedroyc has revealed she turned down Strictly Come Dancing because she feels she's not quite ready to be the comical contestant.

Speaking to the Radio Times, Mel said: “I was asked and I said no. I love watching it so much, I almost didn’t want to spoil the pleasure by being on it. And it’s tricky for a woman moving into middle age. You’re not the comedy old bag yet, which would be the joy of going on Strictly. If I did it, I’d want to be Ann Widdecombe. I’d want to be out there getting the laughs, being dragged around.”

Mel settled for presenting the Strictly tour in 2016 instead. Mel's only 48 - maybe we'll see her in a few years' time. I'm sure she'd be better than she thinks.

Next! Amanda Byram...

TV presenter Amanda Byram claims that she turned down Strictly Come Dancing.

Amanda, who is co-host of the Irish version of Dancing With The Stars, told the Irish Mirror: “I did think of doing [Strictly] as a contestant, but I can’t dance very well so I chickened out. I was presenting Total Wipeout the few times I was asked to do it."

Next! Martin Kemp...

Musician, actor and Let It Shine judge Martin Kemp claims he has turned down Strictly Come Dancing multiple times.

The List reports that he revealed the news at the National Television Awards: "They ask me a lot but I think they've got so used to me saying 'No', they've not asked me. I can't dance. There are some things I have to admit I can't do."

It's a shame. I'd love to see him on the show.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Ricky's Regret

Royle Family actor Ricky Tomlinson admits that he regrets not doing Strictly years ago.

Ricky, who is 77, told The Sun that it would be too difficult now, due to arthritis: “I wish I’d have taken part in Strictly Come Dancing when I was younger. I’ve got really bad arthritis now, but I’m a big fan of all things dancing – especially ballroom. I’d have love to have done it now. It upsets me that I didn’t go on there."

Although he's not ruling it out completely: “Would I go on Strictly…? Well, I don’t know. But I love it. I think I’d be older than anyone on it this series."

Sounds like the perfect candidate for a Christmas special, to me.

Rochelle Would Not Consider Strictly

Rochelle Humes from The Saturdays says she would not consider taking part in Strictly Come Dancing, despite having taken part in the 2013 Christmas special.

Rochelle, who is currently pregnant with her second child, believes the commitment is too big.

TellyMix reports that she told OK! magazine: "[Strictly]'s not for me at all. I love watching it, I just don't have the bug for it. As a contestant I would find it so hard learning a new dance every week, remembering all that. I think you have to be so committed to it and I don't love being on the go that much, but I really love the show, it's classic Saturday night TV."

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Next! Noel Edmonds...

Noel Edmonds claims he has been repeatedly invited to take part in Strictly, but has declined so as not to upset his wife.

Noel's wife Liz used to be a dancer, and had offered to help him train, but he told The Sun he's still not interested: "I said [to Liz], ‘Do you really want to see me spending eight hours a day for four months draped over some half-naked woman?’And she had a think about it and went, ‘Hmm . . . I can see your point!’”

I'm not sure what to make of this comment. Is it just an excuse not to do it? Does he think it would be embarrassing for her to see him in this way? Or can he not trust himself with the gorgeous professionals, which would make him a bit pervy? Or does he think that he is so irresistible, that the 'Strictly curse' would take over and it would be the end of their relationship?

It doesn't have to be weird. Ed Balls was totally classy throughout. There was nothing seedy about his relationship with Katya.

Perhaps it says more about Noel than about the show... Frankly, I think we can live without his participation.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

NTAs Shortlist - Vote Now

It's time to vote for Strictly Come Dancing once again, as the NTA shortlist has been announced.

Strictly is nominated in the Talent Show category, against Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor.

There is also a new TV Judge category, for which Len Goodman is nominated against Nicole Scherzinger (The X Factor), Mary Berry (The Great British Bake Off), Simon Cowell (The X Factor/Britain's Got Talent) and David Walliams (Britain's Got Talent).

Click here to vote. The winners will be announced on 25th January.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday Musings: Week 13 - The Final

The confetti has settled. The 2016 series is over. And the result what somewhat unexpected.

Round 1: Judges' Choice

It was no surprise to anyone that the judges chose the American smooth for Ore & Joanne. It was brilliant the first time, and they nailed it again. Brilliant choreography from Joanne, brilliantly danced by Ore.

The judges chose the cha cha for Louise & Kevin. It was a good choice, since it was one where Louise started to show a bit of personality. They also won the cha cha challenge, so it is a dance the judges thought they were proficient in. This performance was perhaps more confident than in Week 3.

I wouldn't have chosen the quickstep for Danny & Oti. The American smooth was so much better, but since they only did it last week I guess they had to choose something else. I'm surprised they didn't choose the Charleston. But anyway. I was gutted to see Danny make a massive mistake in the middle. It proved he is human, but the final is the wrong time to mess it up so noticeably. 

Round 2: Showdances

With little to split the couples, the showdance was a chance for them to get a finger on the glitterball.

Ore & Joanne's routine was classic Hollywood. I'm not sure they needed the "massive props", but they made good use of them. The jumping up and down the drums was not dissimilar to the jumping up and down the stairs in Singin' In The Rain. But as Lord Sugar says, "stick to what you know". The performance was pretty faultless. It was big, with the right amount of dancing, performance and lifts. And Joanne looked gorgeous in that dress.

Louise & Kevin's 'journey' routine suited Louise well. She did a good job at the freer, more lyrical style. The lifts were nice, and competently executed. The male pros must have an advantage when it comes to the showdances, as they are so much more used to lifting partners. Years of training, versus just a few weeks. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a massive lift of Dirty Dancing proportions on the big crescendo at the end. That was missing for me.

I wasn't sure about Danny & Oti's showdance in the beginning. I spent half of it just hoping that they didn't trip over the frame as they leapt from one side to the other. But unlike Louise & Kevin's routine, it built to a cracking finale. The final chorus had lots of lifts, and ended with the brilliant frame-dropping moment. I loved it.

Round 3: Favourite dance

I like watching the favourite dances again, because it's clear that the couples enjoy performing them again. And they know it's their last dance, so give it everything.

Ore & Joanne's jive delivered once again. High energy, exciting and a pleasure to watch. Ore was deservedly compared to Jay McGuinness after this routine the first time, and it may have been even better on Saturday night.

I wasn't that fussed with Louise & Kevin's Argentine tango first time around, but they did a decent job on Saturday. The ending was still my favourite part.

It was a pleasure to see Danny & Oti's samba again. After their American smooth, it was definitely their best dance, and a real series highlight. They smashed it on Saturday.

By last last week, I was convinced that Louise would win. She had the popularity of Kevin behind her, and after four finals, I thought that the public would finally put him out of his misery and vote him to win. But of the three, Louise was the least deserving in my mind. I supported Danny for the most part (although I still don't think that Charleston deserved a 40), and was behind him to win. But messing up the quickstep might have cost him. And being in the bottom two last week should have been an indicator of things to come.

I can't dispute that Ore was the best on the night. He delivered on every single routine on Saturday. They were all flawless. I felt so dispondent last year after Jay & Aliona didn't show up for the final and still won, while Kellie & Kevin gave it everything. So to see Ore pull it out on final night and win it, when most people thought one of the others would win has restored my faith in Strictly Come Dancing and the viewers who watch it. Congratulations, Ore & Joanne!

I'm off to put a tenner on Ellie Simmonds.

Here are the videos...

Ore & Joanne - American smooth

Louise & Kevin - cha cha

Danny & Oti - Quickstep

Ore & Joanne - showdance

Louise & Kevin - showdance

Danny & Otui - showdance

Ore & Joanne - jive

Louise & Kevin - Argentine tango

Danny & Oti - samba

The moment of truth...

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Glitterball Is Almost In Reach...

It’s two days before the final. Ore & Joanne, Louise & Kevin and Danny & Oti are sitting on sofas in the BBC Radio Theatre looking relaxed and happy, considering they are missing valuable training time to address the nation’s press, and a few bloggers. The glitterball trophy sits just behind Joanne, literally almost within reach. This is the Strictly final press conference.

The conversation covers lots of areas such as nerves and pressure, the cast’s comradery, and some of the best and worst moments of their experiences.

The nerves and self-consciousness were a problem at the start of the competition. Oti recalls meeting Danny: “He was sitting under a table, on his phone, not talking to anybody because he thought he wasn’t good enough to be there, and he didn’t belong.”

Louise is the one who looks the least comfortable of the six, shrinking into her seat, or often into Kevin. The same Louise whose eyeline is down on the floor during her routines. But when she speaks, she is so confident and clear, at odds with the body language. She is quick to point out that she doesn’t, and never did, have self-confidence issues, but admits that she was nervous about getting involved in the programme after focusing on her children for so long. “For ten years, you don’t go on stage, you’re at home, and for me it was just getting back into it.” The inevitable Strictly scrutiny is tough. “When you do a show like Strictly, you know that everyone is going to have an opinion on you, and it had been a long time since anyone had had a major opinion about me that I had to read about, and that is what I was kind of nervous of… The first day I did feel overwhelmed by everything.”

Ore admitted to feeling the pressure sometimes, but the humour among the cast often helps, like looking at your colleagues and the realisation you’re all dressed as Von Trapps. “When you can split the tension with a knife, and you’re just about to go on stage, and you can hear the theme tune, there’s the pre-titles film and then all of a sudden you’re out. It’s those funny moments that just make you go ‘OK, relax’, because it’s easy to get really het-up and to be overly focused”.

The emotion of Strictly is apparent. Louise describes one of her lows. “It was when I cried in rehearsals trying to learn the rumba, and I’m not that person. I don’t cry when I can’t get something, I just go with it. I thought ‘Wow, this is really affecting me’. I never thought Strictly would affect me like that”.

The pros get emotional too. We saw how Natalie reacted after the judges didn’t like her rumba choreography. They all feel a responsibility, which spills over into emotion. Oti felt the same way when she and Danny landed in the bottom two. “I remember apologising to him, like ‘I’m so sorry. I didn’t do a good enough job to get you to that final, and I wish I’d done more so we weren’t in this situation’. You do take it all on.”

It’s not all emotional, though. The brother-sister banter between Joanne and Kevin is fun to watch. Joanne claims their parents “vote for me more because I’m the favourite child”. Kevin quips “They told me they were going to vote for Danny & Oti.” When asked if they would like to replace Len as a judge, Joanne would jump at the opportunity. “I’d like to be on the panel. I’d love to criticise my own brother. Yeah, it’d be great.” On choreographing the show dances, Kevin explains the challenge. “The show dance is the most difficult to choreograph… You can pick any song in existence, any kind of props, any kind of style. It’s almost too blank a sheet of paper, so it’s quite difficult”. “Finding it difficult, Kev?”, Joanne interrupts.

Looking forward to the final, Danny is asked about his perceived professional background. “It was three years at drama school. Never before, never since.” He points out that his limited past training should get not get credit for getting him the final, but rather his partner. “It’s completely, 100% down to her. I was never going to be a dancer, that was never going to happen. I’ve never been employed as one.”

Saturday will give Kevin a forth chance to raise the glitterball. "I'm starting to think I’m running out of chances.”

But Oti sings Kevin’s praises: “We look up to people like Kevin (“I don’t!” Joanne interrupts), who’s been in the final four times. How do I make it four times into the final? And you have to admire that because it’s three months, non-stop. We don’t get days off, you still have to be creative.”

So, show dances. What can we expect? No-one reveals more than we already know from It Takes Two. Joanne explains she chose I Got Rhythm because Ore suits the Gene Kelly style dances. All she will say is “We’ve got massive props”.

Kevin has taken the journey angle. “It’s going to be based on Louise… Her story and how she’s developed since the beginning to the end.”

“I think we might have been in the same dream”
says Oti. “Ours is about Louise as well” Danny exclaims, leading to laughter throughout the crowd. Oti continues, “Ours is about Danny. We tried to make it about the journey that not a lot of people got to see."

Picture: ©BBC

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Rinder To Join Tour In Manchester

Robert Rinder will join the Manchester leg of the Strictly live tour, replacing Ed Balls who has other commitments.

Robert said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Strictly tour in Manchester and I’m particularly excited to be performing in such an enormous arena. I can’t wait to share my love of dance in such an amazing city.”

He will dance with Oksana.

The pro line-up has also been announced. Louise, Danny, Ed and Daisy will dance with their partners from the series. Lesley will dance with Gorka on tour, as Anton is on tour with Erin. Ore will dance with Karen, as Joanne is starring in a tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie.

AJ, Chloe, Neil, Oksana, Janette and Giovanni are also in the cast, performing in group numbers.

The 30-date tour begins in Birmingham on 20th January.

Who's Up For 2017?

The glitterball hasen't even been raised by one of our finalists yet, and the press are already speculating about who might take part in 2017!

Danny Mac's fiancée, Hollyoaks acress Carley Stenson, is reportedly keen to take part, having spent time cheering Danny on this series. 

A source told The Sun“Both parties [Carley and producers] have arranged to speak in the new year about making her desire to follow Danny’s sensational footsteps in this year’s series.”

Multiple gold-winning Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds is also reportedly on the BBC's hitlist. The Daily Mirror reports that she was invited to the semi-final last week, and appeared on It Takes Two, to see how things are done. 

A source told the paper: “They wanted to introduce her to the Strictly family and to get a feel for the place and the programme. By all accounts she had a fabulous time. It’s early days, but we would love her next year. She is our number one choice by a country mile.”

And they are reportedly not concerned about her 4'1" height, since Claudia Fragapane is only 4'7" and did just fine dancing with AJ who was much taller.

Is Darcey Set To Be Head Judge?

Rumours have been been swirling for the last couple of days that Darcey Bussell will be the head judge on Strictly next year.

Len Goodman bids the show farewell this weekend, meaning that should the current model continue, someone else should assume the head judge role, and more importantly hold the 'casting vote' in the result of a dance-off tie.

A source told The Sun: "The executives would like to see a female in the role, and Darcey has established herself as a major figure on the show. They wouldn’t be comfortable bringing somebody in over her head. The job is quite a calm and level-headed one, for which Darcey would be perfect ­— and the viewers love her.”

I'm not really sure how I would feel about having Darcey as the head judge. I think it really depends who the new panellist is. Darcey is a much better choice than Craig or Bruno, but would she be better than someone with a ballroom and latin background? Would you want Darcey as head judge over Brendan or Anton? Possibly not.

If the bosses want a female in the head judge role, then why not appoint Karen Hardy? We can have two female judges on the panel, can't we?

The only non-former pro name in the frame to join the panel is Gary Edwards. With him in the line-up, I'd agree with having Darcey as head judge, as the public know little about Gary, and I'm not sure they would buy a stranger as the role.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sunday Service: Week 12

The semi-final seems a bit more brutal this year. If it wasn't for Will's premature departure, the four remaining couples would have likely all been in the final. But now, we are forced into seeing one couple miss out. Such a shame that any of them have to leave.

I was a bit dubious going into Louise & Kevin's tango, as despite the accents in the music, Glad All Over felt like an odd track. Then we had the packing line prop which made no sense. But once they got into the routine, I thought it was very good. The choreography went well to the music, which Kevin picking up the accents and using them to good effect. The thing that continues to bother me about Louise is her eyeline. She spent more time inspecting the floor than any any of the glitterballs on her packing line! Not good enough in the final.

Their samba was quite nice. Not showstopping, but I kind of liked it. Although if I had a quid for every time Louise looked at the floor, I could have paid for my Christmas turkey, and probably the trimmings too. I don't know if it is embarrassment and self-consciousness, or what, but I'm finding it intolerable. It's possibly excusable in an Argentine tango or rumba, but not in a bloomin' samba.

Danny & Oti's salsa was great. I felt that perhaps Danny could have had more to do, but this is salsa, and the idea is to show off the lady, which Danny did to a tee. He knows when he needs to shine, and when he needs to present Oti, and he does both so well.

Their American smooth was a complete showstopper. I could watch it over and over and over. The lifts were gorgeous, the storytelling was magnificent, and that final leap that Oti did into Danny's arms was heartstopping. So beautiful. So amazing. So emotional. So worthy of a place in the final.

Claudia & AJ's rumba was very well danced. Claudia hit all of the positions, and the transitions between steps were smooth and effortless. As the judges commented, her développés were beautiful. The only thing they were lacking was the emotional connection required in the rumba. AJ seemed to look intently, but Claudia didn't reciprocate. It's a shame, because an emotional connection would have lifted the dance from very good, to amazing.

Their quickstep put them back on track. I was worried that their height difference was going to lead to loads of gapping, but actually they were together most of the time. I liked the choreography, especially how they came out of hold for the short bridges in the music. For once, Claudia seemed to be able to keep up with the fast music.

Ore & Joanne's quickstep was fast and furious. They flew around the floor. Joanne also choreographed nicely to the accents in the music, and it was clear that this is her favourite dance. They kept glued together. I think there may have been a tiny incident somewhere in the dance, but blinked and you missed it. Or maybe I was mistaken. I do wish wardrobe wouldn't dress both partners in black, though.

And then they were both in grey for the Argentine tango, which isn't much better. I was intrigued to hear the arrangement of Can't Get You Out Of My Head as a tango, and it kind of worked. Ore didn't seem to do very much in the routine, but like the salsa, it's kind of the point that the man shows of the woman. He didn't seem to command the routine enough. He and Joanne felt like equal partners. I prefer to watch more of a battle between the couple. The mood just wasn't quite there.

Personally, I think I'd rather see Louise go home than any of the others. Her floor-gazing embarrassment isn't going to win the competition. She lacks the technique of Claudia and the emotion of Danny. But since Kevin is so popular, I suspect they will be spared the dance-off. I think we're likely to see Ore and Claudia in the dance-off. And then it will come down to which dance they preform again. If they both do their quicksteps, it will be virtually impossible to split them. Whoever goes home, it will be emotional. 

Here are the videos...

Louise & Kevin - tango

Louise & Kevin - samba

Danny & Oti - salsa

Danny & Oti - American smooth

Claudia & AJ - rumba

Claudia & AJ - quickstep

Ore & Joanne - quickstep

Ore & Joanne - Argentine tango

DVD Review: Best of Strictly Come Dancing - Len's Grand Finale

It's been three years since the Showstoppers compilation DVD was released, so it was high time for another, and with Len's departure from Strictly around the corner, the perfect opportunity has arisen.

The new DVD - Best of Strictly Come Dancing: Len's Grand Finale - is hosted by Len, and is a walk through some of the most memorable Strictly routines of the last 13 series.

The DVD is divided into categories, and Len hosts the links between each set of routines. Having presented a few shows for the BBC in recent years, Len is a relaxed and competent host. But what I loved about this DVD is that it's focus is very much on the dancing. It contains great routine after great routine, with Uncle Len there just to gently move things among.

Of course, there are routines that had to be in here, often memorable for very different reasons. We have Jay & Aliona's jive, Simon & Kristina's Argentine tango, and the full version of Mark & Karen's salsa, complete with re-start. Then, of course, we have Anne & Anton's samba, John & Kristina's paso doble and Russell & Flavia's jive.

What I liked most, though, was being reminded of dances and couples I hadn't thought about in a long time. Mark Benton, Dave Myers, Patrick Robinson, Jason Donovan, Ali Bastion, Chelsee Healey.

The DVD is perhaps a little Charleston-heavy, but they are such great routines that it's a pleasure to see them again. And, yes, Chris & Ola are on there.

Toward the end, Len takes a look around Elstree, and he visits with some of the people who make the show happen. Personally, I would have preferred this to come a little earlier, to break up the relentless dancing throughout the rest of the programme. But I do understand why it was at the end - it's Len's goodbye.

Len chooses his favourite all-time dance at the end. I won't spoil it - you'll have to watch to find out what he chose.

The DVD was an absolute pleasure to watch. Get it for Christmas, and it will be perfect for a grotty Sunday afternoon in January when there is no Strictly to look forward to for nine months. 

Still not convinced? Watch this trailer...

Disclosure: Thank you to the nice folks at BBC Worldwide for supplying a copy of the DVD for me to review.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Hosts For Irish DWTS Announced

Irish broadcaster RTÉ has announced the presenters for the Republic's version of Dancing With The Stars - Nicky Byrne and Amanda Byram.

Both have Strictly connections. Nicky made it to Week 10 with Karen Clifton in 2012. Amanda, who is probably best known to UK viewers for co-hosting Total Wipeout for BBC One, hosted the Strictly live tour for selected performances in 2012.

There will also be a spin-off show called Can't Stop Dancing, hosted by Bláthnaid Treacy.

The series will start on Sunday 8th January. Celebrities and pro dancers are still to be announced, but rumoured names include former newsreader Anne Doyle and Big Brother UK runner-up Hughie Maughan. Former Strictly pro Robin Windsor was reportedly in talks to be a pro dancer on the show.