Strictly Come Dancing kicked off properly tonight as the first batch of celebrity contestants took to the dance floor for the first time. It’s been three weeks since the launch show and the celebs have been hard at work training with their professional partners.
Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman returned to host the show with judges Craig Revel-Horwood, Darcey Bussell, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli all returning to critique the performances. This is the last series that Head Judge Len will appear in as he’s decided to step down.
Tonight 6 of the 15 couples danced for the first time. Who impressed and who disappointed? Keep reading to find out…
Laura Whitmore & Giovanni Pernice
Irish TV presenter Laura Whitmore had the unenviable task of being the first to dance on the 2016 series. In her training video Laura admitted that it was harder than she was expecting and admitted that she needed to get some confidence. She also took the time to show Giovanni how to Irish dance to lighten the mood but he was more interested in practising their Cha Cha Cha, which they danced to Bananarama’s Venus.
The dance: Opening the series is never an easy task but Laura acquitted herself well. It was a little bit stompy in places for a Cha Cha Cha but Laura looked like she was having fun. It was a fairly safe routine, which is to be expected, but it was enjoyable.
The comments: Len said it was a lovely way to start the show with a good amount of content. He did say that she lost timing towards the end and told her to work on straightening her legs. Bruno said that he would need a fire extinguisher if she continued to perform like she did tonight and told her she had wonderful musicality. Craig criticised Laura’s knees and told her the routine was unstable but he liked her turns. Darcey said that Laura was sweet and sassy during the performance and she told her she enjoyed the upper body but her lower body wasn’t great.
The score: 25 out of 40
Naga Munchetty & Pasha Kovalev
BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty was the second celebrity in the ballroom tonight and she admitted that dressing ladylike was new for her. Partnered with Pasha Kovalev, Naga’s heart sank when he told her that they would be dancing the Waltz. During training Naga struggled with her elegance and frequently stepped on Pasha’s toes. Naga and Pasha danced their Waltz to Whitney Houston’s Run To You.
The dance: It was a pleasant Waltz but Naga struggled in the middle. She seemed visibly nervous throughout the routine and we think that nerves got the better of her. It was a decent effort though!
The comments: Bruno said that Naga started off ethereal and elegant telling her that she had a nice poise for ballroom. He did go on to say that she fell apart in the middle but she managed to rescue it. Craig said that Naga’s rise and fall was bumpy but told her that she had ‘wonderful, wonderful potential’. Darcey said that the quality of Naga’s performance was serene and told her that she had a beautiful neck. Len said he loved the elegance and Naga’s potential.
The score: 23 out of 40
Judge Rinder & Oksana Platero
In his intro VT, Judge Rinder said that was going to give 100% and that he felt quietly confident going into the first live show. From the looks of their training video Judge Rinder and Oksana have definitely bonded as the pair laughed and swapped witty banter. Would their bond shine through during their Cha Cha Cha to Duffy’s Mercy though?
The dance: If there’s one thing you can’t criticise Judge Rinder for it’s not having enough energy. He bounced around the ballroom like he’d had three cans of Red Bull prior to the show. He was better than I expected and gave a really entertaining performance.
The comments: Craig said that it looked like Judge Rinder had undergone lots of collagen but told him that he definitely had rhythm. Darcey said that the performance was extraordinary but told him that she couldn’t get his shimmys out of her mind. Len said that Judge Rinder put the ‘boy’ in ‘flamboyant’ and told him ‘if entertainment is a crime, then you’re guilty!’ Bruno said that Judge Rinder had his vote after performing with such gusto.
The score: 25 out of 40
Lesley Joseph & Anton du Beke
Birds of a Feather star Lesley Joseph said that she was delighted to be partnered with Anton du Beke. She acknowledged that she would have to dance within her limitations as she’s the oldest contestant in the series. Anton revealed during training that they would be performing a Waltz to the Birds of a Feather theme tune.
The dance: Colour me impressed, that was a gorgeous and elegant performance from Lesley and she’s proving that age ain’t nothing but a number. She reduced her Birds of a Feather co-star Linda Robson to tears in the audience and I have to admit I was a bit misty eyed too.
The comments: Darcey said that Lesley was elegant but warned her not to get lost in Anton’s chest. Len said he enjoyed the traditional take on the Waltz and told Lesley she had very clean footwork and she danced beautifully. Bruno told Lesley the performance was lovely and touching telling her that she acted it very nicely. Craig agreed with the other judges that Lesley had trouble with her posture but said she danced with ease.
The score: 23 out of 40
Ore Oduba & Joanne Clifton
BBC Sports presenter Ore Oduba had the honour of doing the first Tango of the series. Fresh from the Olympics, Ore admitted he’d wanted to be part of Strictly Come Dancing for years and he was delighted to be partnered with Joanne Clifton. During training, Joanne met with Ore’s wife to find out more about him while they got to know one another. Tonight Ore and Joanne danced the Tango to Geronimo.
The dance: Ore has a lot of potential. I’m not sure that there was a whole lot of traditional Tango in there but Joanne has definitely crafted a memorable routine. Ore is a natural mover and he has comedic charm.
The comments: Len complained that he didn’t think the Tango was going to get started but said once they got started it was good. He told him he wants to see a full routine next time. Bruno said the performance was original and fresh and told Ore he enjoyed seeing something new. Craig said he loved the story-telling at the beginning and didn’t criticise him. Darcey said that Ore made it look easy.
The score: 27 out of 40
Natalie Lowe & Greg Rutherford
The final celebrity dancing tonight was Greg Rutherford. The Olympian has admitted that he wanted to quit the show as soon as he had his first training session. He also said he was so nervous during the launch show he forgot to invite anyone to support him. Partnered with Natalie Lowe, Greg had to work to undo everything he’d learned previously. Tonight Greg and Natalie did a Jive to Get Ready.
The dance: It was a speedy Jive but Greg was a little all over the place. He kept up the energy but his moves and timing were a little off throughout the routine. It was a good effort and the Jive is a mean dance to give anyone to start with.
The comments: Bruno said that Greg went for it and told him that he had talent. Craig said that Greg was stompy and flat-footed but told him he enjoyed the performance enormously. Darcey said that she enjoyed Greg’s performance and complimented his rhythm and energy. Len said that Greg gave it full-on attack and told him he’s a really good dancer.
The score: 27 out of 40
The leaderboard for the night was:
Greg Rutherford & Natalie Lowe – 27
Ore Oduba & Joanne Clifton – 27
Judge Rinder & Oksana Platero – 25
Laura Whitmore & Giovanni Pernice – 25
Lesley Joseph & Anton du Beke – 23
Naga Munchetty & Pasha Kovalev – 23
Strictly Come Dancing 2016 continues tomorrow night at 6.30pm on BBC One. Get a look at the couples who danced tonight in rehearsal in our gallery below:
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