For Friday night's Strictly Come Dancing launch I donned my glad rags – including glitterball earrings – and settled down to watch the first six celebrities take to the dance floor. There was excitement, nerves and a whole lot of sparkle. So far, so Strictly. The difference this time was that I wasn't at home on the sofa but in the actual SCD ballroom. So what do you get to see here that you don't on the telly? Here's what I found out...
Things happen very quickly
A minute is a lifetime in the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom. You’d think the dance floor would be clear, the dancers poised, Dave Arch and his band ready to strike up a good half an hour before the show is due to start. This is live telly after all and you wouldn't want people at home to see the ropes, the audience members dashing from the loo, Claudia checking that her underwear is just so…
In fact, minutes before the floor manager counts down to zero there are still plenty of production staff on set, the warm up act (hard to miss in a leopard print suit) is still entertaining the crowd and the co-hosts are having a good chat. There’s no panic. Well, apart from the crowd, who I’m sure want to yell 'HURRY UP'. But then in three, two, one... everything is as it should be and they're ready to go. Amazing.
The judges keep their paddles in office-style document organisers
I don’t know why this amused me, but watching the judges’ desk get set up, I noticed that their scoring paddles are kept in the sort of document box you’d have on your desk at work. Except they were gold-effect, of course. This is Strictly, after all. Even the mundane has to be fabulous darling.
Tess runs a lot
I honestly don’t know how Bruce Forsyth managed it for all those years. But Tess Daly runs a lot between the dance floor and the back of the audience in between her bits to camera and the dances. And this in sky-high heels, I should add. How she doesn’t fall face-first and end up doing her interviews with the judges and contestants from around their ankles is beyond me.
Petals have to be scooped back up
During Saturday night’s show you'll see a stunning group performance from the pro dancers, and this involves new Strictly dancer Oti being showered with petals. It was pre-recorded on Friday night and when it needed to be re-shot (and hats off to them for only needing two takes, as there really is so much going on) the dancers had to wait while all the petals were scooped up and she was ready to go again. Why waste a good petal, eh?
Anton is a crowd pleaser
Anton Du Beke need only walk onto the ballroom floor and he is greeted with rapturous applause. He’d not danced a step, but this is a pro the crowd want to see.
The pros really do support each other
Yes, it’s a competition, but the professional dancers – and celebrities – really are supportive. Before the very first dance, performed this year by EastEnders actress Kellie Bright and partner Kevin Clifton it was all high-fives, backslaps and good lucks. Clifton also got a rather sweet peck on the forehead from his new wife Karen.
One lucky member of the crowd gets to ‘play Strictly’
If you’ve been lucky enough to score a ticket for this year’s show, get ready to throw your hands in the air, because the warm up act plucks someone from the crowd to walk down those famous steps. Oh yes, you get to pretend you’re in a dancing couple, have a fake chat with the judges (there’s no one there) and then walk up the other staircase as if you were off to have a chat with Claudia. Bowing and waving to the crowd at the end optional (but encouraged).
As the couples wait to dance, their VT package plays to the viewers at home. During this bit the majority of the set changes are done. But it’s also nice to see how the dance partners interact with each other before their big moment. Kellie was doing a few steps, Carol was giggling as her fellow BBC presenters Sally Nugent and Steph McGovern cheered her on, Daniel O’Donnell watched his video before having a quick good luck hug with partner Kristina Rihanoff.
You will wish you were famous...
... purely so you could have your chance on the dance floor because it looks like a whole lot of fun!
Strictly Come Dancing continues tonight at 6:15pm on BBC1