Feature: Strictly with Vikki 2013 week one

Wednesday 2 October 2013 by Vikki Jane Vile

Abbey Clancy and Aljaz Skorjanec. Photo: BBC

The nights have pulled in, it’s Friday, curtains are drawn, takeaway ordered and the phone is off the hook. It is finally here. Strictly Come Dancing burst onto our screens with the first live show, not only to affirm the arrival of the weekend but that our winter viewing is now sorted until Christmas, writes Vikki Jane Vile..

Of course it wouldn’t be Strictly without another awkward fashion moment from Tess, this time channelling part woman, part banana split. One of the greatest delights of the first live show is to witness the genuine terror in our celebrities faces; it’s as if they’ve been tied to a sofa and forced to watch Stepping Out with Davina at full volume – harrowing.

Staircase Observations: James Jordan is a delightful shade of teak and Artem [Chigvintsev] has come dressed as a pirate. Deborah Meaden appears to be showcasing her Christmas tree outfit three months too early and new professional Janette Manrara is keen to impress the male viewership, appearing only in a couple of bandages around her chest and some tinsel.

It with great relief I can confirm that, for this week at least, those horrific scripted training VTs appear to have been banished, instead we had authentic training footage which features what can only be described as a lightly perspiring Artem (woman of the UK grasp their wine glass a little more tightly); Deborah’s stable of ponies and Robin’s truly stunning collection of training vests. That’s much more like it.

Night one of the series opener saw impressive displays from the ladies. Sophie Ellis-Bextor was an elegant delight in her Waltz with an unsettlingly mellow Brendan who doesn’t appear even related to the tetchy tempered dancer who acquired the “bad boy” tag in series one. As anticipated, Coronation Street’s Natalie Gumed excelled in her Cha Cha already appearing polished and professional. Will the audience quickly tire of her if she is this flawless every week? There was also an unexpectedly strong display from BBC Breakfast’s Susanna Reid. The newsreader coped admirably, giving every shred of energy she had. Early shows from Ashley Taylor Dawson and Tony Jacklin proved disappointing while Waterloo Road’s Mark Benton used his acting skills to great effect in a promising Tango.

Night two and the first live Saturday show saw the remaining nine celebrities take to the floor. Early indications suggest that Bruce’s batteries are running a little low as he fluffs links and dodders away when left by himself. Tess meanwhile has come dressed as a bruised knee. The women continued to rule as Abbey Clancy impressed in a glittering gown with moves to match. Her Waltz with new professional Aljaz [Skorjanec] (choosing to don a white baby grow on this occasion) was smooth, graceful, romantic and very impressive for week one. Countdown’s Rachel Riley gave an understated and careful performance whilst still managing to pull off a cracking Princess Di impression.

The men continued to disappoint. Rugby star Ben Cohen didn’t appear to possess a pair of hips with which to have an action. He does have jolly lovely arms though, so that’s nice. Meanwhile, my words cannot possibly convey the quality of fashion designer Julien Macdonald’s performance. In Julien, we have found a man who Bruno Tonioli deemed as “too camp” and who makes Davina McCall seem muted.

Now, a word of warning for next week – with all fifteen couples dancing next Saturday this will be a two hour endurance test – bring snacks, my friends, whatever alcohol and other legal substances you can find. We will get through this, yah? Early indications show it’s all about the ladies, at this rate Blackpool week threatens to resemble a hen party…

Strictly Come Dancing, BBC1 Saturdays

Vikki Jane Vile is a freelance dance writer and regular contributor to Dance Today and Dancing Times magazines – and Strictly aficionado.

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