I've waited until after yesterday's broadcast of the launch show last night before commenting on the celeb line-up that was revealed on Wednesday morning, so I can cover everything else we know so far.
Have to say I was generally rather perked up by the show last night, though the whole premise of the launch made for some odd, unfamiliar moments. First difference was the absence of the usual 'parade of couples' title sequence, as we were there to witness the coupling happening first-hand. In fact, that was almost all that happened in the show. Even the judges had nothing to do, so it was merely courtesy having them there.
The remainder was mostly made up of set piece numbers by the professionals, now split between competing dancers and a smaller band of resident show dancers. Luckily we had three new competing dancers to be introduced to as well - is it just me who thinks the newbies all look like gay porn stars of various flavours? Robin especially reminds me of Ross Hurston (Google at your own risk), Artem looks like your typical Eastern European muscle-hunk and Jared is the supple, doe-eyed twink. Not to say that detracts any from what seem to be effective performers.
Have to say these made the show for me last night - I'd have been fast-forwarding the pairing up 'reveals' if I'd recorded it. Even if it was meant to be what we were tuning in for I'm not convinced that's a USP and I guessed about half of them (Tina & Jared wrote itself) but was surprised at handicapping Widders further by going for Anton, a partner who towers over her. Usually Vincent gets the short girls! Poor Ola has drawn Paul Daniels, but then she did win last year.
Anyway, here's the show's opening, including a storming set piece by the professionals. Some of it I saw for the first time on this YouTube clip as BBC Scotland (I assume) blacked out several minutes of vision just before it cut to the studio. I'm sure there was a lot of fury at such incompetence.
As I said, not much celeb dancing went on, with the exception of an only slightly practiced group dance right at the end, after the pairings were revealed. Some have noted that this somehow means everyone knew the pairings in advance, but I'm not convinced as this was an organised chaos of partnering off (even the unfortunately captured preview still has Paul and Widders lunging for each other and Scott Maslen can also seen in the embrace of ex-co-star Kara Tointon). I think the dancers will have been told, for obvious preparation reasons, but not the celebs who wouldn't really benefit from knowing. It's not much to go on, but most seem satisfactory in this number. The wobblers I spotted were Widders - who has god given handicaps - and Gavin Henson, who appeared to think it was a conga at a wedding. Widders will be kept in beyond her ability of course. Gavin though seems to be deliberately building a public personna as a bit of a conker-tinted plonker, so that may not be the best for getting an audience lifeline in this show.
Anyway, I checked the betting odds for who'd be this year's champ when the celeb line-up was announced, but before this show taped on Wednesday night so I looked again this morning to see the difference. And there wasn't much actually. I've reproduced them below.
I'm dismayed to see Kara on top there - frankly she shouldn't be there. For one thing she has a strong whiff of 'stand-by' in a year where the show has generally upped its game in casting. It also makes Strictly 2010 too heavy with people who are or have been in "Eastenders" (Scott, Goldie & Jimi being the others) and I suspect the bosses would rather not have done that. More importantly, she's already had a crack at it for Sport Relief, and that should disqualify you I think. So I hope the bookies are wrong there.
No surprise to see ex-gymnast and ready-for-anything Matt Baker as top placed male celeb. He'll also have a wide audience appeal from both "Countryfile" and his "Blue Peter" days. Plus he's 'a very nice man' (and sexy ... if not sitting next to Richard Bacon, Simon Thomas or Gethin Jones) Remains to be seen if he's got rhythm, though his era of BP did involve some musical stunts and he once was a disco dancer of some description . Jimi and Scott will have to have good stamina and attitude to keep up I think, but that's perfectly possible.
Pleased to see Felicity placed so strongly - I hope she makes it to the final in fact. And I'm trusting Bruno that Pamela will also be a dark horse. Those two laydeez were such potent sex-bombs to my generation of telly watchers that even I'm not immune to their charms... and if Pam stays in I can also ogle James ;)
So that's my initial thoughts. I'll probaby be back in three weeks when each of them give us a waltz or a cha-cha. The latter is always a good laugh at the very least, though I hope they give Widders & Anton the waltz first. She's surely experienced enough Tory balls over the years to wing that.
ISTR no-one is being elimated that weekend though, so all the couples get a chance at a ballroom and a latin.
The launch show is on iPlayer until next Saturday night, so obviously not being seen as a part of the series proper.