Have I mentioned that I love Strictly Come Dancing more than almost anything else in the world? Thought I had. And after this week's opening double bill I am reminded why. This show is better than sliced bread. It's the cat's pyjamas. The mutt's nuts. I. Love. It.
But first, before my not at all biased and completely inciteful thoughts on the couples, I wish to have a moan. I actively enjoying moaning and it's good that even Strictly provides me with material: over marking. Judges (especially you Alesha): it's week one. Get a grip please. The amount of completely undeserved 7s and 8s dished out this week was ridiculous. Stop offering stupid platitudes because you don't want to look harsh and start offering proper constructive criticism to help the celebs improve. Like Craig does, if you could ever hear what he said over stupid audience booing. I have particular problems with Alesha in this regard - something which I'm sure I'll return to as the series goes on. Suffice it to say, I am one of the legions of people who would weep with joy at the return of Arlene...
Anyway, griping over. Let's talk dancing.
Felicity and Vincent (cha cha cha)
One of my favourite couples - they're so cute! Felicity looked amazing in yellow. Forget Michelle Williams, it's Felicity's legs I want! Their cha cha cha was pretty good too. It was fun and energetic and Felicity clearly has the potential to do well in a Cherie Lunghi sort of way. I can't wait to see her ballroom! A good start from them. I'd give them a 5.
Scott and Natalie (waltz)
This was not for me. From the second Scott strutted out in a dinner jacket not white tie and tails - he looked more like a sommelier than a dancer - I was unimpressed. It was also not a proper waltz in my book. Too dirty, not enough proper waltz steps and too much an exhibition of how hot Natalie is. Technically I didn't rate it either. So stiff it may as well have been starched! Scott clearly has potential though and I'm looking forward to seeing him in future weeks. They'd get 5 from me.
Goldie and Kristina (cha cha cha)
This was a bit of a classic Strictly moment for me. Almost zero technique and few actual cha cha cha steps, but so much fun. I love Goldie and he's proved time and again how versatile he is. He can only improve - as can Kristina's choreography. A 4, but with a smiley face attached!
Patsy and Robin (waltz)
I find watching Patsy slightly heartbreaking. You can actually see the sadness in her eyes. She's had a god awful year and it shows. I want her to do well so badly. And I thought her waltz was really nice. Perhaps slightly controversially, I preferred it to Scott's - the choreography was much more classic even if new boy Robin looked ridiculous in his vest and braces combo. Patsy was almost cripplingly nervous but she did ok. Her progress in the series will depend on getting control of her nerves. I really hope she can. A 6 from me.
Matt and Aliona (cha cha cha)
Latin dance of the opening two shows by a country mile, Matt completely owned this routine. And, despite the fact I'm not a fan of the cha cha cha, I really liked it (apart from the naff beginning). Matt is shockingly snake hipped and got his footwork down well. The choreography was fab too - nice work Aliona. Great stuff, I can't wait to see Matt's ballroom now. A definite highlight: 7 from me.
Pamela and James (waltz)
Oh. My. God. This was so beautiful. Proper waltz choreography done with flair and grace. And James was wearing tails. Sigh. I'm not sure how Pamela will deal with Latin dances but if all of her ballroom is this good I'm not sure I care. My favourite dance of the two nights: the only one that justifies an 8.
Paul and Ola (cha cha cha)
Poor Ola. From champion last year to... Well... This. There was nothing I liked about this technically but Paul tried hard, bless him. Maybe his ballroom will be better. It couldn't be much worse. At the risk of being booed, 3 from me.
Jimi and Flavia (cha cha cha)
So onto show 2. Jimi appeared to be wearing a shirt at least two sizes too big and untucked, which annoyed me! His cha cha cha was pretty good though. Some nice choreography and he pulled it off well. Jimi is my one to watch this series: he has real potential. Can't wait to see more of him (in many senses...). A 6 from me.
Peter and Erin (waltz)
I love Erin. Her choreography is always spot on for the ability of her partner and this was no exception. Sadly Peter just couldn't pull it off. He was stiff and nervous. The moment at the end when he more or less dropped Erin says as much about her professionalism as it does his lack of dancing ability! A 4, entirely earned by Erin!
Michelle and Brendan (cha cha cha)
So disappointing. Flat, safe and (sorry Brendan) rubbish choreography. I genuinely don't understand why the dance wasted so much time at the beginning just walking down the stairs. I think Michelle and Brendan are a great couple though - and amazing characters - so I'm sure they'll be back with something impressive soon. Until then, a disappointed 6.
Gavin and Katya (waltz)
It pains me to admit this as I've never been a Gavin Henson fan in the slightest, but I really liked this routine. The choreography was gorgeous, the hold completely firm and the footwork near perfect. Gavin's rise and fall was spot on too - very impressive for week one. I'm excited to see how Gavin gets on in the series. He'll be a real contender if he can just get the acting side of the competition right. A 7 from me.
Tina and Jared (cha cha cha)
Such a cute couple! Sadly another disappointing routine though. The choreography was ok, but not a cha cha cha. And Tina was so nervous. Still, clearly these two have potential and I hope Tina can get control of her nerves so they can fulfil it. Especially as newbie Jared is uber cute! For this week, a 5.
Kara and Artem (cha cha cha)
Yes I know I'm taking this out of sequence. You'll see why, if you haven't already guessed..! I have to admit I can't really remember this routine beyond Kara falling over and Artem's chest. Mmmmmmmmmm Artem's chest... Sorry. They are clearly going to be contenders though. Having just watched them back on YouTube, I give them a 6.
Ann and Anton (waltz)
The performance of the two nights by a long way! By the end I was crying with laughter. Ann, bless her, tried so hard and clearly had a blast. And you know what? I love her for it! Overall, the routine went ok. It was genius choreography from Saint Anton (as I believe he must now be) which worked to Ann's advantage and showed off Anton at his graceful best. There were two moments of comedy gold in it though: the way Ann jogged round Anton when he was doing his beautiful leg extended turn and her attempt at a kick which was really more of a goosestep. Overall though this was nowhere near as bad as it could have been! And I literally cannot wait to see their "comedy" salsa next week. I'm not going to score Team AnnTon (I can't bring myself to actually objectively asses them!) but I do think Craig's 2 was incredibly harsh. And Anton, my darling, I love you even more now than I ever have :)
Bring on Week 2!