Early bookmakers’ favorites include former Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton, Coronation Street’s Kym Marsh and rapping radio DJ Fleur East. All three have previous dance experience on their resume, so expect rumbles of “ringtones.” Actor Will Mellor, who formed a promising couple with Nancy Xu, admitted he had an unusual link with Anton Du Beke’s jury: “He lives near the same village as me and I saw him at the tip.” Mellor must hope it wasn’t a sign that his dance was going to be bullshit.
The proceedings started with a hair-raising group dance by the pro troupe, partly in Blackpool – indicating that this run includes a return to the prestigious Tower Ballroom after a two-year absence. The return to post-pandemic normality also meant a full studio audience for the first time since 2019, adding to the infectious party atmosphere. Fan favorite Du Beke, now a regular replacement for Bruno Tonioli on the panel, was beaming with joy the entire time.
Four new pros were introduced via a cinematic Latin-spiced track. Soul star John Legend sang his apt new single, All She Wanna Do (Is Dance). Reigning champion Rose Ayling-Ellis reunited with Pernice to re-enact their magical Viennese Waltz, including a sign language interlude – all the more powerful during International Week of the Deaf.
Before the traditional crescendo, everyone made their dance floor debut in a chaotic group number. With this sneak peek at their skills, Anderson, comedian Jayde Adams and former football player Tony Adams might surprise a few people. East, Marsh and CBBC star Molly Rainford could be in the frame for the glitter ball. By contrast, comedian Ellie Taylor and Kaye Adams of Loose Women may just be home in time for Halloween.
This opening show was a tad too long — nearly two hours for a glorified trailer — but after a tumultuous two weeks, it was a television tonic. It wobbled. It seemed. It provided a welcome dose of dizzying glitzy escapism. An irresistible curtain riser for a series that seems to keep our cockles warm until Christmas. It’s also not long before the match really starts, with the first live show airing tomorrow night. We might as well surrender to the sequins now.