So who is going to dance with who?
The X Factor began last week, and this weekend sees the return of its Saturday night rival, Strictly Come Dancing (Saturday, BBC1, 6.50pm).
Admittedly, the pro-celebrity ballroom contest won’t start in earnest for a couple of weeks, but this launch show, hosted by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman, gives us a chance to get a good look at the Class of 2016 in all their newly sequinned, fake-tanned-glory. Even more importantly, we will also find out which professional will be paired with which famous face.
Quite a few of the male dancers will be hoping to get Olympic gymnast Claudia Fragapane, who has emerged as the bookies’ early favourite to win the glitterball trophy It’s not hard to see why- not only do gymnasts have a good track record on the show (Peterborough’s Louis Smith won in 2012), she’s also fit, flexible and used to performing under pressure while wearing sparkles and revealing outfits. But at just 4 foot 7 inches, Claudia admits that she’s hoping to get one of the more petite pros: “I don’t have a favourite, but just someone of a similar height so it is easier to dance with them.”
She’s not the only person to go straight from Rio into the ballroom as Greg Rutherford is also taking up the Strictly baton, clearly undeterred by the injury his fellow long jumper Jade Johnson picked up when she did the show back in 2009.
He says: “I love being challenged and taking to the Strictly ballroom is like nothing I have ever done before - doing this is definitely a long jump from my day job for sure!”
We’ll have to wait and see whether the athletes absorbed any Brazilian rhythms during their time at the Games, but they will both face some stiff com- petition from the rest of this year’s intake - especially pop performers Will Young, Anastacia and Louise Redknapp, who as a former judge on So You Think You Can Dance should have a good idea what the panel are looking for.
That hasn’t settled her nerves though, as Louise says: “I’ve sung in front of crowds of thousands before, but the idea of stepping out onto that famous dance floor with a world-class professional dancer gives me butterflies just thinking about it!”
And we wouldn’t bet against there being one or two lovely little movers among the rest of the celebrities, namely fashion model Daisy Lowe, TV presenters Laura Whitmore, Na ga Munch et ty and Ore O duba, actors Tameka Emps on, Danny Mac and Les ley Joseph, DJ Melvin Odoom, TV legalea-gle Robert Rinder and former politician Ed Balls.
We’ll get the chance to assess everyone’s form as they take to the floor for a group number, which will be closely observed by judges Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Len Goodman, who has announced that this will be his final series. ( So get those shouts of ‘sev-un!’ in while you can).
And as an additional treat, the music comes from old X Factor mates Rebecca Ferguson and Olly Murs.