We preview the 16th series of the BBC's popular dancing show
Saturday saw the start of the fifteenth series of the BBC’s ever-popular dancing show with this year’s celebrities paired up with their professional dance partners. With the group dance offering only a glimpse of each celebrity’s dancing credentials, there should still be plenty of value out there with bookies still unable to fully price up the contestants on their abilities.
As with last year, the three key areas to consider are who we think might actually be able to dance, secondly who the public will warm to most and finally, the professionals!
Based on what we saw on Saturday night, the main pick for this year will be Alexandra Burke at best odds of 11-2. A winner of a public vote in the past when winning X Factor, the popstar looked to have plenty of natural rhythm during the group dance and her experience on stage in musicals should help her with the story-telling required for each dance. She’s been paired with Gorka Marquez who made his Strictly debut last year and managed to show his strong choreography skills when partnering Tameka Empson last season and should be able to get the most out of Burke.
At the top of the market, fellow popstars Aston Merrygold and Mollie King lead the way but I’m not convinced the British public will warm to either sufficiently enough especially, if as expected, they start at a higher ability level than the others.
On the flipside to this, one celeb who might benefit from going on the traditional ‘journey’ is Eastenders actor Davood Ghadami. BBC personalities tend to fare well and in what looks a particularly weak year for the men, his physique and personality should endear him to at least one half of the viewing public whilst his pairing with newcomer Nadiya Bychkova should mean the other half are catered for too! He didn’t look too shabby in the group dance and looks to have the stature to excel in both ballroom and Latin.
Now to the professionals. The curse of Brendan Cole has hit my early fancy Charlotte Hawkins and I can now see her personality being stifled by her at times over-bearing partner. Elsewhere, the 'final banker' Kevin Clifton looks to have been given unfavourable pairing in the shape of Susan Calman and although I’m sure he will bring out the best of her, I’m not sure they hold much hope of making it to the final weeks.
The old charmer Anton du Beke faces an uphill struggle with Ruth Langsford whilst the popular Pasha Kovalev also appears to be up against it with Chizzy Adukolu.
With all that taken into consideration a small play is advised on Aljaz and Gemma Atkinson. Aljaz is a former winner and popular with the Strictly fan base while in Gemma he should find an able sidekick who’s glamour should disguise her clumsy nature early doors.
As I’ve already alluded to, this year’s team of celebrities look to be much weaker than previous series, especially the men. They do boast the current favourite in Aston but females make up three of the top four in the betting with Alexandra, Mollie and Gemma all boasting the right profile for potential winners. Hopefully Davood can muscle his way into contention but bar him and Aston it looks like slim pickings and we should be in store for our first female winner since Caroline Flack in series 12.