Strictly Come Dancing returned to our screens tonight to properly kick off the action for the 2014 series.
The first of two live shows this weekend, tonight saw 6 of the 15 couples take to the ballroom for the first time and show off what they’ve learned over the past 3 weeks. Following the launch show earlier this month, the celebrities have been hard at work with their pro partners preparing for their ballroom debut.
Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman helmed the show tonight after being handed the Strictly baton by Sir Bruce Forsyth during the launch show. We’re glad the BBC decided to stick with Tess and Claudia as they’ve proven themselves to be more than capable of handling the show between them.
Of course Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman, Craig Revel Horwood and Darcey Bussell resumed their roles as judges casting an eye over the couples and offering up their usual mix of critiques.
Caroline Flack & Pasha Kovalev
In her intro VT TV presenter Caroline Flack said there was something about Pasha Kovalev that made her notice him when they first met; we wonder what that was? Pasha is confident that Caroline could go all the way in the competition. For their first dance Caroline & Pasha performed a cha cha cha and in training Caroline was struggling with her dance face often looking a bit too serious.
The dance: A great first dance from Caroline and what an opener for the show. Full of energy and the technique looked great. A very funky cha cha cha to the Jackson 5’s Can You Feel It. Colour us impressed.
The comments: Len said it’s ‘always nice to start the night with a glass of champagne’ and called her ‘Sweet Caroline’. Bruno said it was ‘Caroline Flash’ and told Caroline that her arms were impressive. Craig said Caroline had ‘great musicality’ but told her that some of her lines ‘need finishing properly’. Darcey called Caroline a natural performer and a natural dancer complimenting her ‘lovely legs’.
The score: 27 out of 40
Tim Wonnacott & Natalie Lowe
Bargain Hunt presenter Tim Wonnacott told viewers not to count him out just because he’s the oldest contestant. Partnered with Natalie Lowe, Tim seemed to have a ball in training and was full of energy. Natalie surprised Tim during the filming of Bargain Hunt before they got back to some serious training. To kick off the series Tim and Natalie danced the cha cha cha.
The dance: Well that was an interesting take on a cha cha cha. Tim walked around the dancefloor for most of the routine but Natalie was fantastic. The judges looked a bit bemused. Could this be the new Dave Myers?
The comments: Bruno said he appreciated Tim’s ‘sense of confidence’ and told him ‘if you can sell this, you can sell anything’. Craig said he didn’t enjoy it telling Tim ‘your gait is extremely wide and you look like you’re wearing a soiled nappy’. Darcey said dancing is about being entertaining and told Tim she ‘loved it’. Len said Tim’s footwork wasn’t ‘too clever’ but commended him for giving it everything.
The score: 18 out of 40
Jake Wood & Janette Manrara
EastEnders actor Jake Wood was the third celebrity to dance tonight and he admitted that he’d been told by co-star Jo Joyner that he has a ‘grandad dance’. Jake is paired with Janette Manrara for the series and the two have been practising their tango in the training room. In preparation for their dance Janette told Jake to tap into his EastEnders character Max Branning.
The dance: A good effort from Jake with the tango. The moves were all there but he needs to loosen up a little and not look quite so serious. We expect he’ll relax into it as the show progresses and the audience loved the performance giving him a standing ovation.
The comments: Craig said he was impressed and that the routine was full of ‘intent and purpose’. Darcey said it was ‘cool’ and admitted she was shocked at how easily he took to the dance. Len said Jake was ‘far better’ than he expected and called the dance ‘terrific’. Bruno said Jake ‘took care of business beautifully’ but told him he wants to see his softer side.
The score: 28 out of 40
Judy Murray & Anton du Beke
Tennis trainer Judy Murray seemed pleased as punch with her pro partner Anton du Beke. In her intro VT the two were seen laughing and joking around and Anton headed up to Scotland for training. Judy admitted she wasn’t the most graceful person which may prove difficult considering she’s kicking the series off with a waltz.
The dance: We’ve never seen a Scottish-themed waltz before but Judy and Anton tailored it to suit Judy’s heritage. It was a nice enough performance with Judy getting all of the steps right but we’re more interested in seeing her in the Latin dances if she progresses in the series.
The comments: Darcey said she could see Judy’s nerves coming through. Len said the footwork was good but the posture wasn’t great. Bruno said it was like a flight that hit turbulence and told her to enjoy it more next week. Craig said he was on the edge of his seat because he felt Anton was ‘dragging Judy around a bit’.
The score: 18 out of 40
Scott Mills & Joanne Clifton
Radio DJ Scott Mills is partnered with new pro Joanne Clifton for this series. In his VT he admitted that everything about the show scares him and revealed that he’s not a dancer. Joanne said that she’s delighted to be paired with Scott and determined to turn him into a dancer. For his Strictly debut Scott is doing a cha cha cha and during training he was getting the moves right but struggling with the flow of the moves.
The dance: Scott’s debut was a fun routine and Joanne did a great job but he’s not a natural mover is he? We admire the energy he gave the routine but he’ll need to up his game to progress in the competition. It was a little all over the place for a cha cha cha.
The comments: Len said it was a dance that would be ‘better on the radio’ and told Scott his ‘footwork was poor’. Bruno said ‘the vibe was there but it didn’t travel down to the feet’. Craig said ‘a zimmer frame has more movement than I saw there’ and told Scott he was ‘lifting his knees like he was having a tantrum’. Darcey said there was a ‘cheeky connection’ between Scott and Joanne but told him she was impressed with his attack.
The score: 16 out of 40
Pixie Lott & Trent Whiddon
Popstar Pixie Lott said in her VT that she’s used to performing but she’s usually hiding behind her microphone. Paired with new pro Trent Whiddon, Pixie managed to hit him in the face early on in training. Ouch! The two are performing a jive for their first dance and we’ve got very high expectations from them.
The dance: A confident and energetic first performance from Pixie but we’d expect nothing less from the popstar. We’re fairly sure she’ll cause an outcry of ‘unfair’ from the audience but we enjoyed her performance. She could have had a bit more movement in her legs but for a debut pretty good.
The comments: Bruno said it was a ‘great, great performance’ and told her it was a ‘great debut’. Craig said that the ‘energy was fantastic’ but he noticed an error in the middle. Darcey said ‘wonderful energy and action’ but told Pixie she could have had more leg action and bounce. Len said ‘lots of marks because I think that’s terrific’.
The score: 27 out of 40
The leaderboard for tonight was:
Jake Wood and Janette Manrara – 28
Caroline Flack and Pasha Kovalev – 27
Pixie Lott and Trent Whiddon – 27
Judy Murray and Anton du Beke – 18
Tim Wonnacott and Natalie Lowe – 18
Scott Mills and Joanne Clifton – 16
Strictly Come Dancing continues tomorrow night at 7pm on BBC One. Take a look at our gallery to see images of tonight’s couples in dress rehearsal earlier today: