Strictly Come Dancing is finally, properly, back with six of the celebrities taking to the floor with their professionals for a night of live ballroom action.
Last year Olympian Louis Smith took the glitterball trophy but who will be claiming victory in a few months’ time? As has become tradition the first live show of the series is split over two nights giving Strictly fans a weekend full of their favourite show.
Tonight was the first chance we’ve had to properly see which of the celebrities can dance, which need to train harder and which will be leaving soon. Following three weeks of training it was time to finally shine the spotlight on the couples.
Opening the show tonight was Ashley Taylor Dawson, best-known for his role as bad boy Darren in Hollyoaks. Having formerly been in a pop band we suspected that Ashley may be quite the mover on the dance floor. In his VT Ashley said he was out of his depth but admitted he was very happy with getting Ola as his partner. Ashley also admitted he was struggling with being tired following the long rehearsal sessions. The couple danced the Cha Cha tonight but were they any good?
We were impressed with the standard but what did the judges think? Len said Ashley’s leg action could have been a bit straighter but admitted that he would ‘sail on’. Bruno said Ashley was ‘born to be on your hands and knees’ and complimented him on his timing. Craig said Ashley had good rhythm but criticised the stiffness of his hips and called the footwork ‘feral’. Darcey said she thought it was a ‘very confident first dance’ but told him to look out on his turns rather than at the floor.
Ashley and Ola scored 25 out of 40 from the judges.
Next on the dancefloor was golfer Tony Jacklin and his partner Aliona Vilani. In his VT Tony admitted he used to love wearing bright clothes to stand out so he’s found the Strictly costumes easy to get on with. In training it looked like Tony was struggling with his balance but he was determined to pull it together for the live show. Tonight Tony and Aliona danced the Waltz.
Bruno said it he didn’t see much romance or floaty moments which is what you’d expect from a Waltz. He went on to say he thought it was down to nerves and could see Tony counting as he did his steps. Craig called Tony ‘the Hunchback of Notre Dame’ when he was in hold and said it got ‘worse and worse’. Darcey told Tony to come back confident and competitive now he’s got over his nerves. Len said Tony is ‘the spirit of the show’ as he had no prior dance experience and told him ‘well done’.
Tony and Aliona scored 16 out of 40 from the judges.
Third to dance was actor Mark Benton and his partner Iveta Lukosiute. In his VT Mark revealed that he wanted to lose weight and that was part of his motivation to join Strictly. During training Mark got frustrated with himself but seemed determined to get the steps right. Tonight the couple danced the Tango. Did Mark manage to get the steps right?
Craig started off the judges’ comments telling Mark he had ‘intent and purpose’ before criticising Mark’s right thumb. Darcey said it was ‘brilliantly played’ and she loved watching it admitting she was ‘well impressed’. Len was surprised by Mark’s performance and admitted that he was shocked at how good the performance was. Bruno said he loved the ‘Tango with a comedic twist’ and commented on the amount of content in the routine.
Mark and Iveta scored 24 out of 40 from the judges.
BBC Breakfast presenter Susanna Reid is giving Strictly a full go this year after winning the Children In Need special in 2011. Paired with new professional Kevin Clifton, Susanna would be tackling the Jive for her first dance. In the training video Susanna seemed to take her journalist training with her as she inundated Kevin with questions. Could she claim victory on the dancefloor once again?
Well the audience loved the performance giving their first standing ovation of the series. Darcey said ‘wow’ saying Susanna ‘sold her the jive’ but told her to try a lower heel to help with her bounce. Len said Susanna got one of the hardest dances for her first dance and called it ‘terrific’. Bruno said Susanna can ‘shake it’ and told her she had a ‘fantastic stage presence’. Craig was, as usual, more critical calling it ‘heavy looking at times’ but admitted he liked her energy and personality.
Susanna and Kevin scored 28 out of 40 from the judges.
Popstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor was the penultimate dancer of the evening. In the VT she admitted she’d found it difficult to get to grips with the body contact she needs to have with her partner Brendan Cole. The training video didn’t give off the impression that it was all plain sailing. Could they pull off a perfect Waltz?
Len said he liked the routine but criticised Sophie’s tendency to lift her feet. He did call the dance ‘gorgeous’. Bruno said Sophie was very Audrey Hepburn complimenting her musical phrasing but told her to extend her top line. Craig agreed with the criticism of the top line but said he liked the performance. Darcey called it ‘beautiful, lilting, elegant’ and thanked Sophie for her performance.
Sophie and Brendan scored out of 40 from the judges.
Coronation Street actress Natalie Gumede was the last to dance tonight with her professional partner Artem Chigvintsev. During the launch show Natalie looked like one of the best dancers in the celeb bunch but how did she perform tonight? In her VT she said she felt ‘complete terror’ and was a bit worried about ‘Russian Terminator’ Artem. The couple danced the Cha Cha this week and their training looked very encouraging.
The third and final standing ovation of the evening suggested that Natalie had done really well. Bruno called Natalie ‘sexy and sensuous’ and told her to work on her hips. Craig said Natalie was a brilliant dancer but agreed she had to work on her hips. Darcey said she loved the amount of detail in the dance. Len called it ‘clean and precise’ but agreed with the other judges about her hip movement.
Natalie and Artem scored 31 out of 40 from the judges.
The scoreboard for the evening was:
Natalie Gumede & Artem Chigvintsev – 31
Sophie Ellis-Bextor & Brendan Cole – 28
Susanna Reid & Kevin Clifton – 28
Ashley Taylor Dawson & Ola Jordan – 25
Mark Benton & Iveta Lukosiute – 24
Tony Jacklin & Aliona Vilani – 16
Tune into Strictly Come Dancing tomorrow night at 7pm for the next live show as we see the remaining celebrities take to the dance floor for the first time.