The Christmas tree is up, the ballroom is festooned with huge red bows, tinsel and fairy lights and Craig Revel Horwood is full (ish) of festive cheer.
RadioTimes.com were lucky enough to nab a ticket for the Strictly Come Dancing 2017 Christmas special to watch as six former celebrity contestants returned to the dance floor.
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Colin Jackson, Robbie Savage, Judy Murray, Kimberley Walsh, Katie Derham and Jeremy Vine will all be seen competing on Christmas Day for the chance to win that special star trophy, and although we can’t say who got what score or even who won, we can tell you what we discovered behind the scenes…
1. The Strictly Come Dancing judges form a house band
No, you’re not seeing things and you haven’t had too much sherry. As part of a very special performance from the six returning Strictly celebrities, the judges come out from behind the desk and form a band (in which we’re sure they definitely weren’t just miming… probably…).
Craig takes up the bass, Shirley Ballas is on keys, Darcey Bussell picks up a guitar and Bruno Tonioli takes on the drums, although we have to say Dave Arch’s orchestra don’t have anything to worry about.
When they weren’t getting distracted and mucking about with cocktail shaker props or throwing balloons back and forth with the actual musicians behind them, Bruno was attacking the drums in the same way as Animal from The Muppets does, while a distracted Darcey at one point turned round with the guitar and accidentally whacked Pasha around the head with it. Don’t give up the desk job, guys.
2. The Strictly cast of 2017 all returned to the studio
Sadly they’d left their dancing shoes at home, but the whole class of Strictly 2017 returned to the ballroom for a right festive knees-up and took front row seats to watch the Christmas special.
Competing celebrities like Alexandra Burke and Mollie King were (understandably) a little late to the recording, but crikey did they miss some excitement – namely Brian Conley nicking a microphone and belting out Merry Christmas Everybody to the studio audience, and Chizzy Akudolu smuggling a hamburger into the studio in her handbag. What a legend.
3. Robbie Savage gets thwarted in his performance
And no, it’s not because he trips over Dianne Buswell or stumbles over the Christmas during his routine. No, instead Robbie was scuppered by a door knob!
As the music started up at the beginning of Robbie’s performance, the least challenging aspect of his routine required the football pundit and 2011 Strictly quarter-finalist to walk through a door. Sadly, the handle didn’t play ball and Robbie was locked outside! Everything had to be reset, the music started again and the audience gave a massive cheer when Robbie actually made it through said door on his second attempt.
Thank goodness it wasn’t live, eh?
4. Wish upon a Jeremy Vine
We can indeed confirm that Jeremy Vine gets airborne in the Strictly Christmas special. The BBC2 presenter and former Radio Times Strictly columnist rather bravely and precariously perches on board a star and is placed on top of the Christmas tree while Karen Clifton spins and dances a safe distance away from him back on terra firma. “I never got to fly…and now I’ve flown,” exclaims Jeremy after his performance, also remarking how pleased he was with his gold shoes.
We won’t give away too much about the rest of his performance, but suffice to say there might be a reappearance of a certain signature move.
5. Judy Murray’s impressive lift
And we’re not talking about Judy Murray being lifted, we’re talking about her actually doing the lift herself! And actually, one of the revelations from the Strictly Christmas special is how non-bad former 2014 contestant Judy Murray is…
Perhaps the tennis coach has been having secret lessons with friend and former dance partner Anton Du Beke on the sly? Either way, her Charleston is very energetic and is actually one of the highlights of the show, culminating in her doing a fun and daring lift with new partner Neil Jones that shows she is far stronger than you might expect…
6. Pencils and paper at the ready!
Because the seasonal show is pre-recorded, there’s no viewers’ vote at home to decide the Strictly Christmas winner. Instead, the decision is purely down to the studio audience. Whilst we imagined that the audience would be given Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?-style electronic keypads to choose their favourite dance, the reality is a little more low-tech than that…
Instead, 360 members of the audience – and they are very precise about this – are handed out pieces of paper and pencils (seriously) in which to mark their favourite performance. An independent adjudicator then supervises as the counts are totted up backstage, and it’s imperative that they get all 360 pieces of paper handed in. If they don’t, they have to start from scratch all over again…
Strictly Come Dancing’s Christmas special will air on Christmas Day at 6:30pm on BBC1