Strictly fans were in luck this week, with the sparkle being split over two live shows. Last night we saw the first six celebrities take to the floor. EastEnder Kellie Bright had the nerve-wracking job of opening the series, while Call the Midwife star Helen George impressed toping the leader board with an impressive 29 points.
It’s was all to play for tonight though, when the remaining nine finally got to showcase their new moves.
First up was The Wanted’s Jay McGuiness. He looked a little peaky at the prospect. We all hoped he could channel his nervous energy into something splendid, and kept our fingers crossed he wasn’t headed for an All Time Low.
On the floor Jay looked pretty good, if petrified. His Cha Cha impressed the judges too, who like me couldn’t help but pull out a few Wanted references.
“Don’t you go anywhere. You’re Wanted,” said Len. “Oh Jay, I’m glad you came,” added Bruno.
His first turn on the floor secured a 5 from Craig, an EIGHT from Darcey, a “SEVEN!” from Len and a 7 from Bruno. A strong start.
Kirsty Gallacher was up next. Strictly fans had high hopes for the Sky Sports presenter, who was taking on the Waltz.
Kirsty and Brendan went for a romantic, atmospheric number. She looked elegant and confident. But there were a few wobbles and the judges were quick to pull her up on them.
“There is always tomorrow,” said Bruno, rather meanly. “It lacked a natural continuous flow,” added Craig, criticising her balance.
She was awarded a 4 from Craig, a 5 from Darcey, a 6 from Len and a 5 from Bruno. Brendan was visibly disappointed but promised these would be their lowest scores of the competition.
Jeremy Vine followed Kirsty onto the floor. He might be the bookies’ favourite for the first elimination, but he didn’t seem bothered. The BBC Radio 2 presenter wiggled his hips with abandon, clearly enjoying being clad in purple sequins. He wasn’t technically perfect, but it was hard not to enjoy his enthusiastic performance.
“That dance would qualify for the World Dad Dancing Championships,” said Craig, calling Jeremy’s bottom wiggles “bizarre.” But Darcy called it “strangely fabulous” and the studio audience clearly agreed.
When the scores came in he got a meagre 2 from Craig, a 6 from Darcey, a 6 from Len and a 5 from Bruno. The audience were appalled, clearly of the opinion that his bottom wiggles deserved more respect.
Georgia May Foote was up next – and it was no surprise to see that she was already brilliant. Her Jive was flirty, fun and really easy to watch. The judges were fans of the former Corrie star’s attempts, too.
Darcey called it “impressive” and “brilliant.” “Fast and sharp. I really liked it, well done,” added Len.
“I can feel the g-force,” smiled Bruno and even Craig joined in, calling it lively and bubbly.
Her scores reflected their praise. She bagged a 6 and three 7s.
Ainsley Harriott was the next celeb to take to the floor. The former Ready Steady Cook star couldn’t stop talking his recipes for success but thankfully there were no chefs hats to be seen in the studio.
Ainsley clearly put his heart and soul into his Abba-inspired Tango but Len reckoned he had a “touch of the gallops.”
Bruno likened him to a rooster chasing a hen and Craig was critical too but he can’t help smirking a little through it. “The acting I have to say was absolutely brilliant,” he concluded, kindly.
When it came to the scores, he got a 4 from Craig, a 5 from Darcey, a 6 from Len and a 5 from Bruno.
Anton du Beke and Katie Derham were up next. Strictly is supposed to be about the celebs, but we all know this pairing is about du Beke and his eternal quest for the Glitterball. The serial loser hasn’t stopped grinning since he was paired with her three weeks ago and he didn’t stop during their performance either.
Katie’s dance was energetic and fun. Anton was clearly excited by the prospect of choreographing for someone with real potential, and seriously put Katie through her paces.
“I’ve never seen anything like that at the Albert Hall,” purred Bruno. “The most sophisticated and stylish Jive we’ve ever had on the programme,” Craig added.
“Anton, this could be the year you realise Strictly goes right up until Christmas,” giggled Len, while Anton beamed.
The pair got a score of 26 out of 40 and Anton beamed some more.
Iwan “glitter man” Thomas was on the floor next. He was at a disadvantage this week, having only completed three days of training. He’d been jetting off around the globe on filming projects and Strictly had taken a back seat.
Craig called his Tango “lumpy” and criticised his protruding bottom. “You’ve got the ready, you’ve got the steady but it didn’t quite go,” added Len, while a catty Bruno added: “I wish you’d kept running.”
In the end the Iwan and his professional partner Ola were given a 3 from Craig, 5 from Darcey, 5 from Len and a 4 from Bruno.
Jamelia was on next with a super sparkly and graceful Waltz.
The audience were fans, but Darcey reckoned she lost concentration. “It started like a dream… it didn’t continue like that but the beginning was very encouraging,” agreed Bruno.
She ended up with 21, a fine score for week one.
Peter Andre was our final performance of the night, and it was a good ‘un. Seconds’ in it was clear that his skill set isn’t limited to oiling up his pecs and emerging from waterfalls a la Mysterious Girl – and Andre got a well deserved standing ovation after his Cha Cha to Ain’t No Other Man by Christina Aguilera.
“The best dance of the two nights,” said Len. “Fantastic. I love the performance level,” agreed Bruno, while Craig gushed: “You rocked it, darling.”
With Craig and Bruno awarding him a 7 and Darcey and Len dishing out 8s, Andre then de-throned Helen George and took his place at the top of the leaderboard.
And that’s how we left it. Andre in the top spot with 30 points, and Carol Kirkwood still in last place with 16.
There’s no results show this week as all the celebrities are safe from elimination or that dreaded dance off. But it’s worth remembering that the scores are being carried through to next week, when we will, unfortunately, have to say our first goodbye…
Strictly Come Dancing returns on Saturday at 6:20pm on BBC1
Robin Windsor, Alex Jones and Sir Bruce Forsyth will be at the Radio Times Festival this weekend. Tickets are available here.