Friday Five #4: Strictly Come Dancing

Regular readers will know that I am a huge fan of Strictly Come Dancing. I was lucky enough to go to the live show in 2014 - you can read my post about it here - and most Saturday nights in autumn find me glued to my sofa enthralled by the fancy footwork and gorgeous costumes. So, on the opening weekend of the new series (I'm rooting for Greg, Naga and Will in particular), what better pick for a Friday Five than my favourite Strictly routines?

I have to admit it was a struggle to pick routines - I really wanted to include a jive (my favourites being Austin Healey, Scott Maslen and Jodie Kidd) - and was very keen not to have two from the same series or two from the same couple or professional, which is why Austin Healey's paso isn't here either. They're also mostly from 2007 onwards as that's when I really started watching the show

1: Tom Chambers & Camilla Dallerup - Showdance to 'If My Friends Could See Me Now' (2008)
Tom and Camilla were one of my favourite pairings (though I loved her partnership with Gethin Jones the year before as well) and this is everything I want my showdance to be. For me the showdance isn't about how many lifts and tricks you can cram in, but rather about showing off everything you've learnt - see also Chris Hollins - and they do that brilliantly with sections of tango, quickstep and Charleston before Charleston was ever a thing on Strictly. Their musicality and timing is fantastic too and they just look like they're having the best time! Nick's stepmum and I sneaked off from his brother's wedding to watch this and it was worth every second.



2: Chris Hollins & Ola Jordan - Charleston to 'Fat Sam's Grand Slam' (2009)
I could probably have done a list of five favourite Charlestons - Louis Smith, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Kimberley Walsh, Denise Van Outen and Caroline Flack are all in my top routines - but if I had to pick one it would definitely be Chris Hollins and Ola Jordan. Having been consistently middle of the pack for most of the series, he suddenly came into his own midway through and peaked with this routine. It's full of exaggerated moves, perfectly co-ordinated and great musical timing, and set the bar for every Charleston since. And it's seriously fun to boot.



3: Simon Webbe & Kristina Rhianoff - Argentine Tango to 'El Tango De Roxanne' (2014)
Simon and Kristina were one of my favourite couples in the 2014 series - I loved their jive in particular - but this is by far and away my favourite Argentine tango I've seen on Strictly. As well as dripping with sensuality and drama, their footwork is utterly amazing and the amount of control demonstrated in the lifts, kicks and flicks is fantastic. Plus the music choice and raspy vocals transport you to a smoky bar in Buenos Aires, creating exactly the right atmosphere. The icing on the cake is the incredible lift at the end, but the whole thing is completely mesmerising.



4: Katie Derham & Anton du Beke - Quickstep to '42nd Street' (2015)
I'm fully aware the cheese stands alone on this one, but I am an Anton du Beke fan and it was fantastic to see what he could do given a decent partner like Katie Derham, making it all the way to the final for the first time ever last year. Quickstep and jive are two of my favourite dances and, as Anton is ballroom king, I had to include this one (honourable mention here to my other favourite quicksteps from Tom Chambers and Jodie Kidd - you can tell I like the same couples a lot can't you?). It's light, bright and although there are a couple of little mistakes in there her performance and willingness to keep going is what carries it through for me.


5: Michael Vaughan & Natalie Lowe - American Smooth to 'New York, New York' (2012)
One of the things I love about Strictly is watching the journey the contestants go on. I always have a soft spot for people who start out a bit awful (see Jeremy Vine last year and his hilarious tango) and in 2012 that firmly went to ex-cricketer Michael Vaughan, who produced possibly the worst jive I have ever seen on the show. But he hung in there week after week and improved dramatically, culminating in this amazing routine at Wembley Stadium which is straight out of a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film and shows just how far he'd come - lovely posture, beautiful footwork, great control in the lifts. And the look of triumph on his face at the end is just utterly brilliant, to the extent it makes me a bit emotional.


Will you be watching this series of Strictly?

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