Strictly Come Dancing is back for its 11th series and set to dominate Saturday night’s UK viewing figures between now and Christmas, despite the best efforts of Simon Cowell‘s X Factor on the commercial network.
Last year saw arguably the highest standard of celebrity dancing in a decade, with Olympian Louis Smith a worthy winner. But this season’s entry is, to say the least, disappointing. We have the glamour again with Abbey Clancy (wife of England striker Peter Crouch), Countdown‘s Rachel Riley, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and BBC Breakfast‘s Susanna Reid, while the the more mature ladies are represented by actress Fiona Fullerton, ‘Dragon’ Deborah Meaden and Vanessa Feltz.
The latter looks as graceful as one of those balletic hippos that the BBC have a habit of using to introduce early evening shows and has probably been brought in for comedic value, like Lisa Riley, Ann Widdecombe and Nancy Dell’Olio. The early-morning radio host is 200/1 with Ladbrokes and Skybet. Susanna Reid won a Comic Relief version of the show in 2011 and that should stand her in good stead. She is 7/1 with Stan James while the stunning attractive Rachel Riley has been lucky in drawing Pacha Kovalev as her partner. She is a best 13/2 with Skybet. Fiona Fullerton has had ballet training, though that was some time ago.
Overall, the women look a lot more promising than the men this year. Best of the male entries may be Hollyoaks actor Ashley Taylor-Dawson at 4/1 with Ladbrokes and William Hill, though Ben Cohen can obviously move a bit and rugby players have done very well in Strictly down the years. Cohen’s big problem is that he’s partially deaf, but if he can’t hear Craig Revell-Horwood‘s unhelpful barbs that can’t be a bad thing. Big Ben is 62/5 on betfair. Unfortunately, it looks like ‘Hairy Biker’ Dave Myers will be back in the kitchen sooner rather than later and he’s 80/1 with Coral and former golfer Tony Jacklin looked positively miserable in the preview show and wondering why he signed up to humiliate himself. He is 100/1 with Coral, Ladbrokes and Skybet.
Natalie Gumede, Coronation Street’s Kirsty Soames, has been made the early favourite (best 13/5 with bet365) after it was revealed she’d trained as a dancer but Denise van Outen had similar credentials two years ago and came up short in the final vote. Sophie Ellis-Bextor looks as though she has some rhythm and those long legs are going to dazzle in the Latin sections. She’s my choice to end up with the glitterball at a general 10/1.