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Strictly Come Dancing

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BBC1 / Fourteen new celebrity contestants have been paired up with our internationally renowned professional dancers and put through their paces. Packed full of glitz and glamour these contestants learn everything from the Tango to the Paso Doble, and perform in front of a live studio audience.

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      12.12.2011 16:14
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      I wish it could be me.

      Every year I say to myself 'it can't get any better than this' but each year the BEEB seem to outdo themselves with this fantastic show. I thought I would wait until the final to review this year's programme, but having watched the tearful goodbyes of the two couples who won't be going to Blackpool for the final has changed my mind. I think I'll be far too choked up by then to write anything at all.

      I never expected to become so fanatical about a TV series but this has to be the best television of all time and that is counting even Morecombe & Wise. But as soon as September comes around I'm like a kid at Christmas time, knowing that for the next few months my Saturday nights will be pure magic. I can take or leave such offerings as other talent shows and I'm not a fan of Big Brother or any soaps, I just love everything about Strictly with its music, the dancing and the celebrities who make the show for me.

      The Format.

      For anyone who hasn't seen it (there must be a few out there), the show has been running since 2004 and it's always hosted by Sir Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly. Each year a certain number of contestants are chosen from various celebrities and get to dance with a partner who is a professional dancer. The numbers have changed over the years and this year there were 14 couples that started out without any idea about what would be the outcome. There are a core of professional dancers who have been in the competition from the first series but each year a few drop out and new dancers are introduced to the show.

      The celebrities are chosen from all walks of life and usually there are some from a sporting background, some from television series including soaps and presenters, some from a singing background and others who are hardly known. The ages range from eighteen to over 60 and there are always a few celebrities who wouldn't be expected to put one foot in front of another, let alone dance. When they are paired with a professional dancer anything can happen and usually there is at least one couple that may not be able to dance but delight by being game for a laugh even at their own expense. It's the spirit of the show that makes it so good and nobody who follows a complete series could say that the celebrities don't try their hardest.

      The Judges.

      Love them or loathe them you can't deny they know their knowledge of dancing and entertainment. The head judge, Len Goodman comes from a background of being a dancer and a teacher and is known best for liking a good 'old-fashioned' dance routine. He's strict but very fair and loves a 'trier'. Bruno Toniolli is also a dancer and is best known for his flamboyant gestures. He's as camp as a five-bob note but is straight as a dye. Alesha Dixon took over from Arlene Philips after she was hounded off the show three series back. She was a contestant and won the title the previous year. Better known as a singer she is a fair judge who offers a lot of advice having gone through the process herself. Craig Revel-Horwood is the judge that everyone boos because he's the token 'baddie' that every show seems to have. He's camp as well but his demeanor can send shivers of fear down your spine with his ferocious looks and his cutting remarks.

      The Contestants.

      This year's performers were no different initially to any other year. Each year the panel of judges and the presenters say the dancers are the best yet and normally they are about the same as previous years. There are always a few that stand out each year and go on to reach the semi-finals and often win or are placed in the runner-up position. I have to say that this year has been an open contest right from the start. There were a few who looked promising, like McFly's Harry Judd, Jason Donavon (of Neighbors fame and a star of West End shows). Lulu also looked promising and from the beginning Holly Valance looked as if she could go the distance.

      But like a horse show (and I'm not being unkind with my analogy) there are thoroughbreds who show true spirit, the dark horse who isn't expected to do well, the plodders who sometimes become front-runners and the triers who are fabulous to watch. In the end they are all winners because they bring pleasure to the viewers who, like myself, often dream of doing something well that they have never tried before. I think this is very much a part of the show's popularity, as we British just love the underdog who comes out fighting against all odds. But, also being very British, in the final few rounds, the semi and the finals, the British public votes for the couples that dance the best.

      My Troopers.

      What a wonderful mixture of personalities there were this year. From the likes of Robbie Savage who managed to become well liked, to the antics of Russell Grant, to the fun and sparkle of Alex Jones (one of my favourites) and the amazing Chelsee Healey who stunned everyone with her fabulous moves. There were others who fell by the wayside, including Anita Dobson who was amazing for her age, at over 60 she made me look like an old woman but also gave me heart that life doesn't end at 60!

      My heart went out to both the couples that went out of the semi-finals on 11th December. Alex Jones tried her best and despite the fact I think she's a wonderful personality and definitely became a true dancer, the others were just a bit better. Holly Valance was also good and her place seemed assured, but a surprise failing in the last dance of the semi-final made her lose points and she didn't recover. In the end I voted for Harry and Chelsee for the semi-final, I didn't vote for another couple, knowing the result was going to be as it turned out. Despite my annoyance with Jason Donovan's show-off nature he did deserve his place in the final, the guy almost bust a gut getting a place.

      How will it end?

      Like each year since the start I think the place will go not just to the most popular couple (otherwise Alex Jones would have been in the finals), but also to the best dancer. It's the public's choice and each year they vote sensibly despite what the heart may say. I am guessing that Harry Judd will win this year. He's an excellent dancer, a modest man and a natural mover who could go on to be a pro if he wanted to. Second place will go to Chelsee who, despite always annoying me with her girlish giggles, is also a natural dancer.

      Final Thoughts.

      Whatever way it goes, I am sure of one thing. The final next Saturday will be watched by millions and the final being held at Blackpool the home of the dancing show, will add that extra finesse. I will watch it on the TV even though it can be watched at the cinema. I can laugh, cry, cheer and boo to my heart's content having no one else to watch it with me. I'll forget my aches and pains for one night. My feet will start tapping the moment the music starts, my hands will go clammy with tension, my heart will thump with the beat and the pressure of staying still (I used to love to dance though I wasn't any good), but most of all my smile will be enough to power every light bulb in my house.

      This is the best series ever, until the next time; I just hope our Bruce will still be here to host another show. I never liked him much before but now he's proved over and over his dedication to the best in British TV presentation, long may he reign and Strictly go on like Casualty, an institution of the best TV.

      Thanks for reading and keep on watching.

      ©Lfuller2011.

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        18.10.2011 14:29
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        I'm in the mood, for Dancing!

        Every September, I start to get a bit excited. Not just because it is time for the kids to go back to school, but because the nights start to draw in, and one of my favourite television programmes starts a new season.

        A few years ago, I would not have believed that I would be saying this, but we had my in-laws come to stay once, and they asked to watch it, and from then on I have been a bit hooked. I'm the sort of person who doesn't really bother that much about what is on the telly, but this is something I now watch rather religiously.

        The current season started a couple of weeks ago, and is the 9th season of the show, screened over Saturday and Sunday evenings, and hosted by Sir Bruce Forsyth, Tess Daly, and Claudia Winkleman.

        As soon as the music for the show starts, I feel the hairs on the back of my neck prickle up in excitement, as you never know what you will see. Maybe someone will pull off a daring lift this week, or maybe they will trip up on the live show if their heel gets stuck in their dress. One thing that I am never prepared for is how well the people involved dance.

        The show, for those with no experience of it, is a dancing competition which pairs modern celebrities up with a professional dancer. They have to learn a particular dance style, in a routine choreographed by their professional dancer over a week, and then perform it in the live show in front of a studio audience and a panel of 4 judges. Each dance is scored by the judges, then the public can phone in to vote for their favourite pair. The 2 pairs with the lowest number of votes are then put before the judges, who then decide who stays and who goes.

        The judging panel consists of 3 male judges and 1 female judge. Head judge is Len Goodman, who has a background of being a professional dancer, dance judge and dance coach. He is known for being fair, and has a preference for dances that showcase the dance steps, rather than those that distract with props and faffing around. He is often mocked for the way he awards the score 'Seven'.

        Next judge is Craig Revel Horwood, who comes across as being a bit mean, 'Dahrling', and is known for being very nit picky and awarding scores which are lower than the other judges and a bit unfair. He is a particular stickler for marking down dancers who use illegal lift moves in their choreography. He is a little camp, and talks in a bit of a lovey way which might be annoying to some, such as the over emphasis of words like 'AH-MAZE-ING', and 'Three words, darhling, that was FAB-U-LOUS.' I haven't really liked him that much until the last couple of series, and I warmed to him most after seeing him in the live show last January because he showed that he does have a sense of humour, he is just acting the part of the baddy here, and he is as good at taking the mickey out of himself.

        The last male judge is as camp as a row of tents at Glastonbury, almost enough to make you cringe at times. He is Bruno Tolioni, an Italian choreographer, who comes across as a bit over the top, but he means well and tries to provide encouragement to the contestants. He picks a joke and takes it a bit too far for me too. Like last series, one of the contestants was the Eastenders actor Scott Marsden, and he swooned over him every week till it was an embarassment to watch. He doesn't mind people taking the mickey out of him though, as Gavin Henson started one routine giving him a big smacker on the lips, and he took it all in his stride.

        The female judge is a bit controversial. Originally it was Arlene Phillips, but a few years back she was replaced by Alesha Dixon, who apart from being a dancer in the show the previous year, had no dancing background. This started an ageism row. Alesha is enthusiastic, and encouraging, and does fit in well with the rest of the panel.

        ===Show Format:===

        The dancing all occurs on a big stage with the audience around 3 sides, and the judging panel on one of those sides. The main show is introduced at the start by Bruce and Tess, who announce all the couples who walk down the main steps.

        Tess and the contestants then go to an area on the balcony for the rest of the show, while Bruce introduces each pair before there dance along with cheesy wisecracks, while Tess does backstage commentary with the couples after their performance.

        Each dance is accompanied by live music from the Dave Arch band. Some people criticise the singers, but I find that it adds something to the show to have them there.

        Each couple get their few minutes to perform their piece, a few minutes of feedback from the judges, and a quick chat backstage with Tess before their scores are given and placed onto the leaderboard.

        Early shows, each couple dances 1 piece, but as the weeks go on and the number of contestants reduces, you sometimes see 2 or 3 dances from them.

        Some weeks also have special themes, such as last weekend was a Broadway spectacular with dances choreographed to tunes from musicals such as Hairspray, Chicago, Priscilla and Phantom of the Opera. Halloween is usually themed too.

        The series runs almost up until Christmas, and is the highlight of my TV viewing. It is nice to snuggle up with the kids to watch Mummy's Dancing Ladies.

        The Results show used to be later on the Saturday evening, but is now on the Sunday, and presented by Tess and Claudia. This is a shorter show of approximately half an hour, and less important to me if I miss it. Here we see a dance put on by the professional dancers, there is usually a performance by a singer such as Take That, Dolly Parton, Will Young - usually someone touring currently or about to release a record. This splits up how the results are given. The couples are stood on stage under a spotlight. Between the other entertainment, it is announced who will go through to the next week, with the suspense ramped up to maximum. Some poor couples don't find out for about 20 minutes if they are through or not.

        When you are down to two couples, the judges make their choice of who is going to stay to dance another day, and the couple who have lost are invited to perform a last dance.

        ===Show highlights for me:===

        I love everything about this show. I personally prefer the latin moves compared to the ballroom, and seeing how well the celebrities can perform after a few weeks of training. Matt Baker was amazing last year as he could add acrobatic moves to his routine, and really shone as the weeks went by.

        The chemistry between some of the couples can be amazing. Kara Tointon had it in abundance last year, and her dance partner Artem became her partner after the show ended.

        The costumes are also amazing. What girl would not admire all the glitter and sequins, or seeing people dressed up like princesses for the ballroom routines.

        I love watching over several weeks, predicting who might make it, and who is going to go pretty quickly. Last year, I predicted in week one that Kara would win. This year I am backing Holly Valance and Jason Donovan for the top prize. I am also loving the passion that Russell Grant is showing for the dance, and been blown away as for a short fat guy, he is absolutely brilliant, and I really hope the public take him to heart and keep him on board.

        I also love seeing the physical transformation of some of the stars. The intense training makes them drop a lot of weight and look amazing. Pamela Stephenson said she lost 2 stone last year, and Audley Harrison has already lost a stone this series. It makes them develop in confidence.

        I haven't learned to recognise the steps or how well they are being danced, but I know when I am being entertained and this is a good use of my license money to me.

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          30.09.2011 23:05
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          A lovely addition to your weekend but prepare your ears for some pain!

          Strictly come dancing has to be in my top three shows. It is fascinating to watch novice celebrities grow into real accomplished dancers. It's also all the more captivating to watch relationships develop into, in some cases, more than just a sound friendship ;). Here is my review for Strictly Come Dancing:

          1. The Format

          Well the format of this show is a group of a celebrities all novices when it comes to ballroom and latin dancing. They are then paired with a professional dancer and taught by their partner how to dance a certain dance in the course of a week before then performing it to their best potential on the Strictly dancefloor live in front of the country's TV audience. The judging panel then review the couple's efforts and then score them out of 10 (though not always rationally but that's part of the fun!). At the end of the night, the country vote on who to keep in the competition. Then when all the votes are counted, the bottom two have to dance again, and the judges have to decide who to keep. Len is the head judge, so in the event of a tie, he has the deciding vote.

          2. The Judges

          The judges are Craig Revel Horwood (the Simon Cowell of ballroom and latin dancing in my opinion!), Len Goodman (a proper Londoner who knows his ballroom and my personal fave), Alesha Dixon (who in my opinion needs to brush up on her elocution: 'you was really good tonight', and who replaced dear Arlene Philips) and finally Bruno Tonioli (an Italian joker who brings the humour to the show).

          3. My View

          I love this show. I have watched all 8 series and now series 9 is here, I'm enjoying winding down to a nice cuppa and a bit of Strictly on my friday and saturday evenings. I personally think the best winners have to be Kara Tointon (she played Dawn on eastenders) and Artem last year, the chemistry between them was priceless and you do see some celebs on here that are plain awful, but then you get some that blow you away, if not always the ones you expect! Austin Healey and Darren Gough are good examples. A rugby player and a cricket player who excelled at the ballroom dances. Did not expect that! The only prob I have is the singing. I wish this show would take a leaf out of Dancing On Ice's book and play the song by who it's sung by, rather than by the awful singers on Strictly, particularly the woman! Put it this way, if any of the singers went on x factor, they'd get 4 No's straight away!

          Overall I do enjoy watching Strictly but the singing is yet to be desired!! It's on BBC One friday and saturday evenings, times vary sometimes.

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            16.01.2010 10:41
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            A really watchable programme (from the couch)

            This is one of those ideas that has rapidly become a nations favourite. To the uninitiated, this involves taking celebrities and teaching them to dance - ballroom and latin - teaming up with professional dancers. Each week the judges score their performance and the public phone in to vote. Each week the lowest two couples dance in the dance off and the judges send one celebrity home. And that's it in a nutshell - quite a simple idea really.

            And yet its not - often I have no idea who the celebrity is and yet we watch each week as they take their first tentative steps. As the weeks progress these people become less like celebrities and more like people who genuinely care about what they are trying to achieve. Many of them are fans of the programme anyway and success rally matters to them - and anyone who has tried to learn to dance will know that it demands hours of practise - it is not something that you can just turn up on a Saturday night and do.

            The judges - Len, Bruno, Craig and (this season, Alesha) - have become central to the success of the show. Whilst we missed Arlene Phillips this season, the judges provide a mixture of critical review and pantomime baddy comedy. Holding it all together is the host Bruce Forsyth who, despite his increasing years, uses his experience to ensure that this is a piece of family entertainment.

            I really look forward to Strictly in the autumn - and have tickets for the live tour. It is a great piece of reality television.

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            23.11.2009 15:05
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            Suitable for all the family!

            ***The Format***
            Fourteen 'celebrities' compete with their professional dance partners to land the trophy at the end of the series. Each week, the bottom two couples (ie those with the lowest score) dance again in a 'dance off' and the judging panel vote to save one of these and send the other home. I've only really got into Strictly this year but as far as I can tell, each couple either perform a Latin or ballroom dance and alternate between these depending on which they didn't do the previous week.

            The couples' overall scores are a combination of marks from the judges (up to a maximum of 40 out of 40) and public votes. Once the leaderboard is complete, the bottom placed score from the judges receives 1 point and it goes up from there, to be combined with the public votes for which a similar leaderboard is presumably used to determine overall scores. On this format, those at the top of the leaderboard usually survive the week unless others below them pick up a whole load of viewers votes (and they don't).

            ***My Thoughts***
            At the beginning of the series (when there are fourteen couples), the Saturday night show can easily last for two and a half hours despite them only doing one dance each, the training clips being fairly short and there being no adverts. I find this a long time to sit without a break and will often end up watching X Factor instead and taping Strictly so that I can pause as I wish.

            I wasn't particularly keen on Alesha Dixon being on the judging panel to begin with as I was sure she was going to be another Cheryl 'I only ever state the obvious or use lots of cliches' Cole but she's got a lot better as the series has progressed and now seems to offer real advice and constructive criticism. I've always liked the other judges as they are a good mix of professionals who know what they're taking about, and Bruno can usually be relied on to come out with something amusing during his critiques. One thing I'm not keen on is the judges' tendency to mark according to some kind of personal criteria and depending on how much they like or dislike that person as it's not always in line with their critiques.

            I'm probably in a minority here but I'm not keen on the presenters. I don't find Bruce's jokes very funny and I've never been very keen on Tess Daly.

            The switch back to having a combined show and results show means that there's a good chance to see the professional dancers in action, and I'm always fascinated by their routines. I could live without the musical interlude as it's usually people who I'm not particularly interested in - probably to reflect Strictly's older audience in comparison to X Factor.

            Speaking of X Factor, I wish there wasn't a clash in the scheduling as once Strictly is down to about halfway my usual viewing involves watching the bulk of Strictly, flicking over to X Factor once it starts and alternating between the Strictly results and the X Factor to see what's happening in both. That gets quite irritating and I'll invariably miss something in one or the other so I wish Strictly started a bit earlier as I'm sure I can't be the only person who wants to watch both.

            All in all, Strictly is usually good family entertainment, although it's probably not for you if dancing isn't your thing but I like the fact that the judges know their stuff (unlike X Factor) and there isn't lots of filler to pad things out. As is typical of reality type shows, it usually becomes a personality contest with viewers voting for the people that they like best, rather than the best dancers and that does tend to grate on me but that's not really the show's fault!

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              17.11.2009 12:22
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              Entertainment for all ages.

              Well it's that time of year again; the dark nights are closing in, the temperature is dropping, and 'Strictly Come Dancing' is back on our TV screens. What is basically a rehash (with added 'celebrities) of the BBC's long lasting show 'Come Dancing', has become a surprisingly huge hit, dominating Saturday night television from September right up until Christmas.

              The format is simple; the BBC recruit a number of celebrities (from just 8 in the first series to a whopping 16 in it's current run), pair them up with a professional dancer, and watch them progress from novice to 'slightly-better-novice' over 3-4 months. Each week another couple are eliminated culminating in a usually very exciting finale just before Christmas. As with most 'reality' shows, the format changes from year to year, with varying degrees of success, but it's basic premise has always stayed the same.

              Each week the celeb/pro couple 'take to the floor' and perform either a ballroom dance (waltz, foxtrot, tango, American smooth, quickstep, Viennese waltz) or Latin American dance (salsa, samba, cha cha cha, jive, rumba, Argentine tango, paso doble) in a bid to impress the judges and the viewing public. The panel consists of four judges; Craig Revel Horwood, Len Goodman, Alesha Dixon (who controversially replaced Arlene Phillips), and Bruno Tonioli. The judges each score the couple a mark out of 10; the higher the score, the better position the couple are on the leader board. The public are then invited to phone and vote for their favourite; the public vote and the judge's scores are then combined and we are left with the 2 couples who have received the lowest combined score. In the first few series, the lowest scoring couple would then be eliminated. This often led to a good dancer leaving the show, perhaps because they didn't have the same fan base as others, so a new rule was introduced; the 2 lowest scoring couples now compete in a 'dance-off' and then the judges get the final say on who goes home.

              The show is hosted by British television legend Bruce Forsythe and Tess Daly. I'm not too keen on either presenter; Bruce churns out one cheesy joke after another and manages to make himself the centre of attention every time he appears on screen. Tess interviews the couples backstage, and in my opinion, doesn't do a great job; she's forever looking at her notes, and asking irrelevant questions. Despite my feelings here, it's hard to imagine the show without either of them, and I can't see them departing anytime soon. Mention must also be given to the hilarious Claudia Winkleman who presents 'Strictly Come Dancing - It Takes Two', the BBC2 sister show, which gives us a little more insight into how the couples are coping, and lets us see more action from the training rooms.

              I could quite happily see any of the judges replaced (except for Craig who provides a much needed sense of reality amongst the sycophantic opinions of the other 3 judges) especially Head Judge Len Goodman; fair enough he's kind to the contestants who can barely stand let alone dance, but he dishes out 10's like there's no tomorrow, and for me, this takes away from the really special dances which truly deserve a high score. I was happy to see the back of former judge Arlene Phillips but I wasn't delighted with her replacement Alesha Dixon; Alesha won the show a few years ago and as fantastic a dancer as she was, she really isn't qualified to judge; I find myself cringing when it's her time to comment on the dances. Bruno Tonioli provides quite a bit of entertainment but has recently become very cutting with his critiques. My suggestion for a new panel; keep Craig, being back former professionals Karen Hardy and John Byrnes, and introduce Phillip Jackson (who used to provide commentary on the dances, on the BBC's digital 'red button' service) as the new Head Judge.

              Each year, the group of celebrities is made up of stars from various backgrounds; sportsmen and women, actors, presenters, musicians, and newsreaders, all make regular appearances. Some are more famous than others but what I like about Strictly is that it very rarely recruits the kind of cheap, trashy celebs that other reality shows, like 'Big Brother' and 'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here', sign up; you'll never catch the likes of Katie Price or Michelle Heaton strutting their stuff on the Strictly dancefloor. Now in its seventh series, some of the professional dancers have become minor celebrities in their own right; Anton Du Beke has presented a couple of BBC shows, and former pro Camilla Dallerup has just popped up on ITV's 'I'm a Celeb'.

              Over seven series there have been some truly horrendous performances (John Seargent's paso doble, Kate Garraway's entire repertoire), which provide great laughs and entertainment, but for every dud, there's a diamond; Jill Halfpenny's amazing jive in series two is still the most talked about dance in the show's history. Between the dancing, the fabulous costumes, and fantastic music, Strictly will be around for a long time to come.

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                15.11.2009 16:54
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                A good show; worth a try

                Really a successor to earlier show 'Come Dancing', Strictly Come Dancing, or Strictly as it is now known to many, is a show about...dancing, yes. Unlike its predecessor, however, Strictly Come Dancing is another celebrity reality TV series, in which celebrities (and in some cases 'celebrities') are paired with a professional ballroom dancer and have a different dance (two dances this series in fact) to learn every week. They then all perform their week's work on Saturday evenings, live to the nation, after which they are judged by the four resident judges and voted for by the public at home. Each couple earns between 1-12 points (in the first week, then 11, 10, 9, 8, etc), based on who receives the highest scores from the judges, and then similarly with the phone-in vote. The overall result then narrows it down to the two couples with the least amount of points. These couples must face the dance off and then the judges will decide which couple they would like to keep. The head judge casts the deciding vote in case of a tie. Celebrities who have featured on the show in the past include Zowie Ball, Rachel Stevens, Natasha Kaplinsky, Lesley Garrett, Austin Healey, Matt Dawson and Tom Chambers.

                The Judges...

                The head judge on the show is the legend Len Goodman, who is a ballroom expert having been a dancer himself. In my opinion, he is the most knowledgeable and experience of the judges, and is always fair in his scoring.

                Then there is Italian Bruno Tonioli, who has also been a dancer. Bruno is rather excitable and a bit crazy! He is very funny, and usually knows what he's talking about and is mostly fair.

                Craig Revel Horwood is a dancer and choreographer and does know what he's talking about, particularly with regards to technical ability, etc. However, he can be mean and rude and definitely has unrealistic expectations of novice dancers! He is the nasty judge on the panel; the Simon Cowell of the dance world if you will!

                Finally, there is Alesha Dixon. Now there is some controversy here: ex girl band singer Alesha participated on the show as a contestant in 2008 with Matthew Cutler, and winning the show, she has been probably the most successful participant yet; yes, she can dance.

                However, she has now been made into a judge, replacing original judge dancer and choreographer Arlene Phillips. This is ridiculous! Arelene was a great judge who knew what she was talking about and added a great female element to the judging panel, always getting all hot and bothered about the male dancing contestants, etc! She was good fun and a figure that men and women could respect.

                There has been speculation that the BBC sacked her because she was too old, and I believe they have said that they wanted to inject some youth in to the show (there has also been the sacking of oldest FEMALE dancer Karen Hardy and Camilla Dallerup left the show, although she said this was her own choice). So what about all the older men on the show? I see their jobs are safe.

                However, this is just speculation. The thing is that a wide range of age groups watch the show, and Arlene was a figure who suited every age group. The show is supposed to be a bit cheesy and traditional, and for me, Alesha has ruined the feel of it a bit. She isn't a dancer, she doesn't really know what she's talking about. Yes she can add the sense that she knows what the celebrities have been through, but in my opinion, she hasn't really taken this into account when judging anyway. The people I have spoken to about the show are just irritated by her, as she isn't qualified to judge, and the professional judges must feel highly patronised at being judged and mentored by her! It was a shame as her personal previous success on the show had endeared her to the nation, but perhaps this is a step too far. I don't have anything personal against her, but for me, I preferred Arlene.

                This year, Darcy Bussell will also be guest judging on the show later on in the series.

                In 2009, the dancers are:

                Anton Du Beke, partnered with Laila Ruoss of Footballer's Wives fame
                Vincent Simone, partnered with Natelie Cassidy from Eastenders
                Brendan Cole, with Rolling Stones' Ron Wood's wife Jo Wood
                James Jordan, with Zoe Lucker, also from Footballer's Wives
                Brian Fortuna, with Ali Bastian
                Matthew Cutler, with Martina Hingis
                Darren Bennett, with Lynda Bellingham
                Ian Waite, with athlete Jade Johnson

                Erin Boag, with actor Ricky Groves
                Lilia Kopylova, with jockey Richard Dunwoody
                Ola Jordan, with presenter Chris Hollins
                Aliona Vilani, with presenter Rav Wilding
                Kristina Rihanoff, with boxer Joe Calzaghe
                Katya Virshilas, with Cricketer Phil Tufnell
                Natalie Lowe, with Ricky Whittle of Hollyoaks fame
                Flavia Cacace, with actor Craig Kelly

                The show is now in its seventh series, and I think it's quite fab! It's a great winter show, adding some sparkle and glamour to the winter months, starting in October and finishing at about Christmas. The dresses which are made every week for the female dancers are just stunning.

                Every week, we see each couple in training and preparation for the weeks dances, which is interesting and often funny; the chemistry between the couples is usually very good and many of them stay friends.

                In fact, many of them are also linked as couples! This year Joe Calzaghe and his partner Kristina Rihanoff and Ali Bastian and her partner Brian Fortuna have both been romantically linked, and all this in the papers really does become dull, but it's great when they really do get on well and are genuinely great friends.

                Then there's the dancing itself. It's quite amazing how much natural talent some of the celebs have for dancing, and how they develop and progress each week. Other celebs just can't do it, but they try hard and are still entertaining. Each week, some couples are amazing and some are terrible, but often funny still!

                Personally though, being more interested in dancing than celebrity tv, I'd rather just watch the professionals every week and see them able to really go for it! However, this is addressed to some extent by the professional couples dancing for guest singers and bands (acts such as Katherone Jenkins, Andrea Bocelli, The Bee Gees and Rod Stuart have guested in the current series), while they perform on the show, and sometimes we see exhibitions by professionals. However, I would like to see a proper competition between the professional couples!

                However, some couples are just more popular than others, depending on how much the public like them, much of the time regardless to whether they can dance or not, and these days, it also depends a lot on the professional dancers, who now often have more celebrity status than many of the 'celebs' themselves!

                For extra gossip and more behind the scenes action, along with dance classes (of a fashion!) and a sneak preview of dresses, dances and song choices for the coming week, there is Strictly Come Dancing; It Takes Two every week night on BBC 2 at 6:30pm with Claudia Winkleman. This show is great, and Claudia does a great job presenting it, as she's so funny and wacky! She has judges, dancers and costume designers, etc, come on the show each night for short interviews and Len tries to teach her (tries) to dance in her ridiculous heals! Great if you're a real fan of the show.

                Strictly Come Dancing can be seen on BBC 1 and HD, Saturdays at 6:50pm and is usually on iplayer, along with It Takes Two, if you miss it.

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                  04.11.2009 18:22
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                  This or the x factor, tv is bad these days...

                  Fast becoming one of the BBC's flagship shows, this dinosaur of a program made a comeback a few years ago with a glossy overhaul and has become a firm favourite for a lot of people staying in on a Saturday night. The show, on BBC 1, is an on going contest between 14 'celebrities' and their professional dance partners.

                  The show is hosted by Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly. Their combination is not very good as 'Brucey' is in need to a good retirement home these days and Tess Daly seems to be there purely for cosmetic reasons rather than any genuine interest in ball room dancing. They are joined however, by a panel of judges who are there to give scores and critiques of each of the dancing pairs' performances with the result being that the lowest scoring partners at the end of the night will go into a dance off with one being eliminated. This process continues each week with a few twists such as different kinds of dances being required and sometimes extra dances being thrown in until the grand final around xmas time and the new winners crowned.

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                  17.10.2009 19:51
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                  A BBC Classic

                  The Show:
                  'Strictly Come Dancing' is the modern version of the BBC long-running TV show but with celebrities dancing with professional partners. Each week the couples perform either Latin or Ballroom dances and are marked by a panel of 4 judges. Then we, the public get to vote for our favourites to keep them in. Therefore, it is often a mixture of public popularity as well as how well they can dance which keep the celebrities in the show.

                  The Presenters:
                  Bruce Forsyth is an impressive host. At 81, he seems to have more energy then younger presenters, often dancing about himself! He can be a bit cheesy at times but is a likable character - a British institution - and always has some encouraging words for the dancers, however bad they may be!
                  Tess Daly is also likable but for me not quite the natural entertainer that Bruce is, but maybe that's just because he is more experienced. She always looks fabulous though and recently had another baby so well done her for getting back into those tight dresses so quickly!

                  The Judges:
                  The show just wouldn't be the same without them. Head judge is Len Goodman, a previous British champion and professional judge in 'real-life.' He tends to score higher then the other judges but is a bit of a traditionalist so can mark couples lower if they do anything too outlandish or break rules!
                  Italian judge Bruno Tonioli is a flamboyant and expressive character, who often gets out of his seat when judging! He was also a professional dancer and is now a respected choreographer. He likes dancers who put a lot of effort and passion into their performance.
                  Craig Revel Horwood is the pantomime villain on the show. He is theatre choreographer and can be quite picky about technique and tends to score the lowest overall. He seems to have mellowed a bit this series though!
                  Newcomer to the panel is Alesha Dixon. This was after the controversy of replacing former judge Arlene Phillips. I loved Arlene and I can see why people were outraged as it did seem like the only reason she was replaced was because the BBC wanted someone younger to compete with ITV's X-factor. However, I do like Alesha and she can understand what the celebrities are going through since she has experienced it herself. Her performance as a judge in the first episode in this series was awkward; she was hunched over and seemed to make no detailed comments. But she has improved and I think she does add something new to the panel so wish her well.

                  The Celebrities:
                  Over the years it is a bit dubious if all of them have actually been celebrities but that aside, each year there have usually been some interesting characters and familiar faces. Notable this year are current favourites: Ali Bastian (from The Bill) and Ricky Whittle (Hollyoaks), Ricky Groves for his entertaining twists on dancing (Eastenders), two Footballer Wives actresses who both seem very good and may improve (Zoe Lucker and Laila Rouass) and Jade Johnson (athlete). Natalie Cassidy (again from Eastenders) is also very enthusiastic and entertaining each week and may well stay in longer with the public vote. I think Joe Calzaghe and Jo Wood should leave soon as they are quite clearly not as good as the others.

                  The Professional Dancers:
                  Some of the dancers themselves are now minor celebrities. Brendan Cole, previously a bit of a bad boy but is another one who seems to have mellowed, is still entertaining. Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag, have been in the TV show since it started but are yet to win it so I am sure they are hoping to change that this year. Ola and Lilia always both look beautiful and I am sure the men enjoy their very small outfits each week! My favourite dancer was Karen Hardy who won in 2006 with Mark Ramprakash is sadly no longer in this series - she seemed to really enjoy it, was a great chorographer and always pushed her celebrity dancers.

                  Overall:
                  A great family TV show which never fails to entertain. It's great watching celebrities do something outside of their normal comfort zones and improve throughout the weeks. OK, and occasionally it is amusing to see the ones that just can't manage it as well!

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                    12.10.2009 14:38
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                    An entertaining show for Saturday night. Part of Modern British TV & well worth a look

                    Strictly Come Dancing is BBC's modern version of Come Dancing which was a long running & resonably popular Dance Show from the 1970's & 80's. In it's modern Strictly guise it has been running since 2004.

                    The way the show works is by gathering Male & Female "Celebrities" (& I use the term loosley as every year there are 1 or 2 I've never heard of) & Pairing them with a Male or Female Professional Dancer. The Professional Dancer them teaches the celebrity to dance. This is done in a weekly format & most weeks the celebs have to learn one dance from their professional partner & then both people perform the dance live on Saturday Night.

                    The performances are then judged by four judges, each allocating a score from 1-10 with 10 being the highest. Based on their score, the couples are then allocated points depending on where they are on the leaderboard. The Public are then ask to vote on who they would like to keep in the show. Once this has been done, a second score is allocated to the couples. The 2 scores are added together & the 2 couples with the lowest combined score are made to dance again. The 4 judges then declare who they would like to save & the couple with the least votes is ejected from the competition.

                    This goes on week by week until (usually) 3 contestants remain (although sometimes 2 if someone pulled out for personal reasons). A final then takes place to decide a winner which uses the same format.

                    This is the show that gets the TV in my home on a Saturday night. It's not a bad show. I know a lot more about dancing than I did before it started (although I know I'm no expert). The show has lots of glitz & glamour. It usually has at least 2 or 2 duff dancers who the public always seem to take to & protect for a while resulting in some controversy. Equally it usualy has at least 1 or 2 really gifted celebs who take to dancing like a duck to water & are very watchable. I would recommend wathcing a show even if you never have & think that it isn't for you. Whether or not you like it will really come down to how much you like dancing.

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                    10.10.2009 23:44
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                    take your partners!

                    It is that time of year again when Strictly Come Dancing hits our screens again for another series. It is Series 7 of this popular show and its as entertaining as ever. The excitement of names of who is competing starts in august when the celebs names are released, then there is the anticipation of who might be good and who will be this year's John Sergeant. September sees the start of the show and to the end of Saturday nights from now until Christmas!

                    This year 14 celebs fight it out for the right to lift the glitterball trophy. the celebs include Lynda Bellingham (Oxo mum), Craig Kelly (Coronation St & Queer as Folk), Rav Wilding (Crimewatch), Richard Dunwoody (jockey), Ali Bastian (The Bill), Ricky Whittle (hollyoaks hottie), Jade Johnson (long jumper), Jo Wood (ronnie Wood's ex), Joe Calzaghe (boxer), natalie cassidy (ex eastender), ricky groves (eastenders), zoe lucker (footballer's wives), Laila rouass (footballer's wives) and martina hingis (tennis player).

                    Some are oboviously better than others at the Latin and Ballroom dances - ricky whittle, ali bastian and zoe lucker are early favourites. This years series has also been courted by controversy with the BBC getting rid of Arlene Phillips as a judge and replacing her with Aleesha Dixon, a past winner. Early indications are not particularly favourable for the change - only time will tell.

                    sequins, fake tan and tripping the light fantastic are part of the charm of strictly and it is fabulous!

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                      10.10.2009 20:51
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                      Are You a Strictly or an X-Factor Fan? Or Maybe Both?

                      ***Strictly Come Dancing - Series 7***

                      Saturday night - you're either in the Strictly camp or X-Factor. In our house the girls watch Strictly on BBC 1 and the boys watch X-Factor (ITV)and then we catch up on Sunday with whatever we haven't watched.

                      ***What's It All About?***

                      For those people who have lived in a bubble for the last 6 years, Strictly Come Dancing is a dance competition, where professional dancers are teamed up with celebrities. It is presented by Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly. The celebrities are made up of sports personalities, actors and actresses and presenters etc, both young and more mature.

                      Each week (we are now in week 4) each couple perform either a latin or ballroom dance. There are four judges that offer constructive criticism and then score each dance out of 10. In the later stages when there are less couples they are required to do two dances.

                      There is a leader board, which is updated after each dance and at the end of scoring, it is then up to the public to ring in and cast their vote for who they wish to see back next week.

                      The bottom two couples then have to repeat their dance and then the judges decide who they would like to save (until the end of the series, when it goes over to the public).

                      After this dance, while votes are being counted, there is usually a famous singer and a display from the professional dancers, until the results are announced at the end of the show.

                      ***Opinion***

                      What I like about this show is that it is good old fashioned family entertainment. It is something you can look forward to on a Saturday night and watch it together. My daughter especially admires Bruce Forsyth, as she likes the fact that he is still working at something he loves aged over 80.

                      I also like the fact that once or twice a series there is a dance that is outstanding; that captures the imagination of the audience. I am thinking back to Mark Ramprakash and Karen Hardy, or Matt Di Angelo and Flavia in particular. Now my daughter is twelve she sits and watches it, but in past years she would dance around the living room, copying the dances. The dancers costumes are also stunning and well put together. The dancers are also accompanied by a live band and singers.

                      Strictly is also never short of controversy and so there is always something to talk about at tea break on a Mondaye This week that would be Anton Du Beke's careless comment - at the start of the series it was the new judge that was the talk of the town. There is also the live element; we love it when something doesn't go to plan or a mistake is made - it makes the show that bit more exiting.



                      It does keep re-inventing itself slightly, with scheduling changes and new dancers brought in, but at around the two to two and a half hour mark at the moment, it now feels to go on for ages and detracts from some of the pleasure.

                      It would perhaps also liven things up if perhaps they could introduce some new dances.

                      The show is discussed during the week on it's sister show on BBC 2 - It Takes Two, which is also fun to watch if you have the time.

                      Will this show survive in it's current format? - I am not sure, but I still look forward to it on a Saturday night!

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                        30.09.2009 22:47
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                        Not for me

                        There is something intrinsically irritating about Strictly Come Dancing. Beneath its pseudo-campness lies a desperate show trying to squeeze the juice out of already washed up nobody's pretending to dance. Now, I'm going to show my age a bit here, I remember the original Gloria Hunniford presented 'Come Dancing' back in the 80's that appeared on Sunday nights around the same time as 'Antiques Roadshow'. Little has changed to urge me to watch the show.

                        My partner is an avid fan of Strictly, even going so far as to watch the 6:30 show with Claudia Winkleface on BBC 2 every night. I suppose its something that I just cannot relate to in any way shape or form.

                        For example there are the would be celebrities. This year they have got rejects from Eastenders and Ronnie Wood's ex-wife (announced by Forsythe as an 'entrepreneur'). Hardly the most thrilling of contestants to vote for.

                        Out they come week after week and prance about in their skimpy outfits to modern hits and then be judged by a band of crackheads calling themselves 'judges'. The dancing isn't in the least bit entertaining and at its worst is extremely embarrassing.

                        One of the other more irritating things about the show is the media furore that surrounds it. My weekday paper and weekend paper has page after page of nonsense devoted to it. Who gives a monkey's if someone has been voted off or sacked from being a judge. Its only a matter of time before the first onscreen death occurs on this programme (quite possibly old Brucie himself).

                        The BBC have thrown such a huge amount of money at this show. The costumes themselves are so opulent and apparently are thrown away after every performance - thats mine and your license fee!

                        No I'm not a huge fan of this programme. I remember the good old days of Saturday Night TV, before people found binge drinking as popular weekend entertainment. It was Little and Large, Noel's House Party, Big Break and You Bet - not this trashy drivel.

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                          26.09.2009 21:17
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                          Keeps the wife happy I suppose

                          It's Saturday night, I'm sat at home with the wife and... we're watching Strictly Come Dancing (SCD). It's a programme that's unfortunately become a firm feature in our household over the winter months, much to my disappointment.

                          For any of you lucky sods that haven't seen it, SCD takes some celebrities gives them a professional dance partner and asks them to perform in front of a panel of judges. The judges then tell em how well (or poorly) they've done and the public get to vote for their best/favourites. Each week, the two couples who are bottom of the leaderboard perform a dance-off against each other and the judges save the one which they think are best. This then continues til what feels like eternity and the week before Christmas we have a winner.

                          If you couldn't tell, I'm not SCD's biggest fan, but I am made to watch it by the wife. It's presented by Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly - Tess comes across as a nice lass who's a very good professional presenter. I've not quite made up my mind about Bruce Forsyth yet though - sometimes he's quite funny, but sometimes his "jokes" are pretty cringe worthy! Mind you he is about 300 years old, so we'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

                          The show itself is very, very, very drawn out - often lasting for 2-3 hours per week, with a regular midweek show as well which can make it all very boring.

                          So why do I sit through it? Easy - some of the outfits the girls wear are excellent! Short skirts, low-cut tops, fantastic legs and the odd flash of pants too! ;)

                          It can also be quite entertaining to listen to some of the judges' put-downs as well, with Craig Revel-Horwood being particularly difficult to impress.

                          So, all-in-all, it is somewhat watchable and will get you into the other half's good books. Plus it's either this or X-Factor and if the wife wanted to watch that I think I'd have to kill myself.

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                            24.09.2009 19:02
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                            It used to be charming, now its an overinflated popularity contest

                            Back in the day their used to be a programme presented by Angela Rippon called Come Dancing, where ballroom dancers would be given a late night slot to win a live televised Ballroom dancing competition amongst the UK. It was a real opportunity for the great and the good of the slightly overtanned communities to get together and show the nation their moves.

                            A few years ago the format was revived but with a now familiar twist, rather than having two great dancers, they decided to have one great dancer and a celebrity, they would then work together to create dance routines which would be voted on by judges and the general public with the least popular couple leaving the show.

                            Presented by Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daley it was twee and charming and developed quite a large following. The celebrities were good, poor or absolutely hilarious and the dancers were very good, the judges, Craig Revell Horwood (Famous for not much as far as I can tell), Arlene Phillips (Veteran Choreographer), Len Goodman (Professional Judge) and Bruno Tonioli (Ex Dancer) would encourage and disparage as they saw fit and to a level for which they could compete with old meanie Cowell on the other channel.

                            The show had some good stories with competitiors like Mark Ramprakash and Darren Gough becoming adept dancers, but somewhere along the way, this little programme got a bit big for its boots, started having a nightly spin off show, two shows a weekend and became a gross, overfed beast, Forsyth was shown up as a doddery old man who made occasional offensive remarks and wandered round missing his cue at will, whilst a judge was replaced by the younger Alesha Dixon for no discernible reason other than to compete with the X Factor.

                            The lives of the dancers are in the papers daily, as are the judges stories, the preparation for a dance is reviewed nightly, the glamour has gone, the hype has taken over, its too much effort just dipping in and enjoying it now, the spark has gone for me and it may never come back.

                            The show is on Saturdays and Sunday nights and can take up most of your weekend if you let it, but the bigger and more publicity hungry its good, the more you realise it lacks that lovely charming factor which made it so good in the first place.

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