A few weeks ago I was a guest at the wedding reception of the beautiful Crazy Gazey, famed for her Salsa, Waltz and Rumba, the Waltz a Bond themed extravaganza filled with menace, phantoms, falling skies, views to kill for, days to die for, though not that night, maybe another day.
The wedding was the normal balance of glitz and beauty, emotion and alcohol, a flawed opening dance, the usual idiot drinking too much and causing mayhem. No not me. No Fatwas this time. It was an evening of jollity, admiring looks, sober fun and Judgge Lulu dancing around her hand bag.
Reel back to July 7th and a little excursion to the Loire Valley, the Château de Chissay to be exact, another memorable day, another wedding. My mate Klaus had rung telling me how he’d pulled this stunner, Lithuanian he said, and my mind wandered to the Baltics and to the friendly red Russians of Turkey.
‘She just wants a passport,’ I said, knowing that such a beauty wouldn’t really fancy him.
And so they were wed.
Nothing to do with his Swiss bank account. Or joint citizenship.
His mum, glorious, bon chic bon genre, said a few words, his brother joked about the day Klaus was filmed running naked around a field, high on fizzy pop, his arms out like an aeroplane chanting, trying to dodge the cow pats whilst doing Viennese crosses. As ever the fleckerl caused most problems. His dog, Toby, watched.
His dad, Mr Klaus to his mates, did the speech of the day. The bride, one Katya Vershilas, was smiling for the first time in a week, a week filled with reservoirs of tears since she was dumped from the 2012 series of Strictly Come Dancing. New producers, let’s call them Glenn and Andrea, made up names, had been in touch, there was a shake-up, fists were clenched, voices roared, threats sent but it was only Katya who received the modern day version of JK Rowling’s ‘Screamer’.
So much for the shake-up. Rumours abounded about how the trouble-causing pros were on their way out but only Katya was released, this following the defection of Juddge Alice to another channel, another Swiss Bank in the offing. This too was a shame. I have spent the last two years teaching young Alice how to speak properly, her, a veritable Eliza Doolittle, was-ing instead of were-ing, and once cured of her Chavvish tones she’s off, my task now to introduce the hostess of the show, Tess ‘Twice’ Daly, to the letter ‘G’, something that I am sure she is dreadin’.
The good Knight remains as host.
As one door shuts another opens and much to the relief of the real world Darcey Bussell, one time juddge, one time Prima Ballerina, took the plane from Down Under to add class, knowledge, sagacity and grace to the juddge’s table, a balance to the theatrical Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum of Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli, an aristocratic cuppling with Lord Len Goodman in the centre, Darcey the new Princess of Strictly.
The other new addition, no princess just a thoroughbred, is Karen Hauer, a professional dancer from Valencia, Venezuela, thirty years old, a New Yorker since the age of 8, the star of Burn the Floor, So You Think You Can Dance and the World Mambo Champion of 2008. Whilst once again the producers have overlooked the professional dancers of this country (????) at least Karen adds that Latino touch, hips to torture and is a sure fire ratings winner.
I am told that some viewers have added a cardboard cut-out to the mirror on their bedroom ceiling already.
This seems like an apt place to introduce you to the stars of the show, possibly the best ever, though unlikely, in no order other than that of the alphabet, by surname.
Before I begin with Richard Arnold I should say that of this season’s crop I had heard of, or knew, thirteen of them. Number fourteen is this fella, a 42-year-old journalist who specialises in celebrity, filling the screens when normal folk are at their day job. Apparently he has worked for ITV Breakfast, Hello Magazine, Woman’s Own and Daybreak. At first glance he is sharp, witty and very possibly a man who traverses the genders. He wanted to partner Anton. He got Anton’s professional dance partner Erin Boag instead, still married and still off the list to do the washing up at Travolta Towers.
A few years ago Zoe Ball graced the Strictly dance floor, performing well with Ian Waite. During the day she is the annoying, ditzy, fast-talking (not a good thing) bimbo who spoils the airwaves with talk of her husband and son, not great content, a plague on Radio 2 at the moment. Now she has the opportunity to add her dad to the cast because the septuagenarian has lucked out, a fat fee and the body of Aliona Vilani to play with. Sorry, dance.
Born Graham Ball in Bristol in 1938 Johnny then moved to Bolton, served in the RAF, was a red coat at Butlin’s and he did cabaret on the northern club circuit. How he graduated from that to being a maths and science geek who knows. Johnny has been on the telly on and off since 1967 hosting shows like Play School, Think Again, Knowhow and Think of a Number. The latter might get an airing or two as the juddgies search for their paddles.
When I heard that Fern Britton, daughter of esteemed actor Tony, had married Phil Vickery I did a double take. Blimey, the England Rugby World Cup winner has gone all celeb and bagged himself an older lady. And one off the telly to boot. Then I saw the photo and it turned out to be some celebrity chef. A huge sigh of relief all round.
Phil the Chef is Fern’s second husband, the father of their child to add to her previous three. Does Fern really need to be introduced? Ready Steady Cook. This Morning. Mr & Mrs. Westward TV. She is a TV icon whose cuddly frame has reduced drastically with the help of a gastric band, something slightly different to our next star. Artem Chigvintsev has the task to keep Fern in the show as long as possible; the GBP will help.
Nicky Byrne used to play in goal for Leeds United. This automatically makes him a good guy. Sadly he didn’t quite cut it, he got very sore hands behind a flaky defence and then he took up singing with a boy band called Westlife. This doesn’t automatically make him a bad person. I say band, they’re just a bunch of lads singing, no guitar in sight. He partners Karen or Hottie Hauer as she is now known at Travolta Towers.
Having been bedevilled by Nancy Whatsherface last time out and one of the Tory MPs the time before Anton du Beke, Anthony Smith of Bristol, real name, landed the lone star that is Texan Jerry Hall, former Mrs Jagger, nearly Mrs Ferry, definitely the voice from the Cadbury’s Caramel advert. One of the original super models Jerry is the sort of girl you’d hope to meet up with in ‘The Graduate’ sort of way. Tall, slinky, rich, a veritable Jessica Rabbit.
Anyone of a certain age will be fully aware of the dysfunctional, mysfunctional TV shows that kids and teenagers are corrupted by these days. Have you seen Waterloo Road? Drugs, alcohol, young pregnancies, abortions, abductions, affairs, gang fights, gay kissing before the watershed. And that’s just the teachers.
Move then from there to the orphanage and the foster home, ranting, screaming, fighting, stealing, egos, selfishness, bitterness, all before tea-time. In our house this show is called Tracy B*st*rd Beaker. The star, Dani Harmer, the first of our Baker’s Dozen plus one to have been to stage school, is partnered with Vincent Simone, both special guests at the next ‘Umpa Lumpa’s Ball’.
Ola Jordan is of the same dap, auditioning for the role of munchkin, and she has been paired with David Sutton, the first of our little gang to have changed his name, another from theatre school. He was on Top of the Pops once, great show that, singing ‘Good Thing Going’, he was third in ‘I’m a Celebrity’. You probably know his as ‘Ricky!’ He now answers to Sid Owen.
The great summer of sport heralded heroes from all disciplines. Brad the Bike did well, so too the Mo-ster. Ben became the most decorated yachtsman in the history of the Olympics. Murray got minted. Dave Weir won four gold medals at distances from 100m to the marathon, bionically propelled in his racing chair, surely this year’s Sports Personality of the Year.
The Paralympics, the Paras as we call them, a fine comparison, and the Olympics brought cheer and tears of joy, our nation united, allowed to be happy. For one Olympian the dousing of the flame brought nothing but relief. Having spent her adulthood on a competitive bike Victoria Pendleton, nine world titles and three Olympic golds (one lost – poor Jess Varnish), retired, a shadow lifted, a career full of pressure, drama and tension over.
And so she accepted Strictly instead. More of the same then. Replace her demanding father and coach with young Brendan Cole. Vic studied at the same polytechnic as my nephew. That makes her a good person.
Lisa Riley shot to fame as Mandy Dingle on Emmerdale, the show that doesn’t have a farm any more, having graduated from Oldham Theatre Workshop. Since then she has been in Calendar Girls, Fat Friends, Holby and pantomime. In the nicest possible description Lisa can be said to be ‘not small’ so it will be interesting to see how she copes with the physical demands of the show. Robin Windsor, her partner, was last seen down the gym buffing up in case any of the routines include lifts.
The Sylvia Young Theatre School has produced many of the familiar faces you see on TV. (I’ll let you look them up). One of the best known is Denise Outen, actress, singer, TV presenter, formerly engaged to Jay Kay of Jamiroquai, now married to Joseph, the one with the coloured coat, a girl from Basildon who added ‘Van’ to her name to make her stand out, a bit like my old mate White Mann. Denise is touted as being a favourite for the title having starred in Chicago and Tell Me on a Sunday in the West End. First sighting seems to back this. There may be one thing against her though for as she chases the Dutch voat she did say that she would ‘Essex it up’. Now that does make her a bad person. James Jordan, son of Big Joe, last seen drinking in The Cambridge Arms, will make her badder.
When Kristina Rihanoff looked up all she could see was his navel. Her eyes continued upwards, and further, and further, and then eventually as her gaze hit 194cm, the swarthy good looks of Colin Salmon greeted her with a diplomatic, charismatic and white teethed smile. You may know Colin for his three appearances in the Bond movies as Charles Robinson or for his work with the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust. In another world he and Kristina could have been on opposite sides of the Iron Curtain. As is her task is to get him to dance. He was a drummer in a punk band in his youth and these days he plays the trumpet in a jazz quartet so he should have rhythm. Will it be enough?
Another to adorn our screens at London 2012 was Louis (Lewis) Antoine Smith, the greatest exponent of the pommel horse in the world, a man conned out of his rightful gold medal by juddging frivolity. His silver and team bronze are displayed
proudly with his ten other medals from senior championships in the corner of his lounge. In the drawers below are hundreds of hairdresser magazines and his letter of rejection from the 2008 X Factor show. Lou has been selected to be with Flavia Cacache, a cupple also touted for the final. Let’s hope he keeps the flick-flacks down to zero.
When Michael Vaughan retired from cricket he broke down in tears. So did I. When I retired, not him. Vaughany is an honorary Yorkie having lived in Sheffield since he was 9. We can’t really blame him for his parents’ poor decision making, to be born near Manchester. He played for and captained Yorksher and England, leading the latter to that infamous Ashes win against Australia in 2005.
He was a good laker was Vaughany, full of tactical nous and a blinder with the bat, at one time being the number one batter in the world. Now he has swapped his whites for sequins and I’m sure the production team decided to have a laugh by pairing him up with Natalie Lowe, our favourite Aussie. Tee blinking hee.
The last dancer, alphabetically, is the Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh. Girls Aloud, an all girl singing combo, were formed from a reality TV show, Pop Stars, The Rivals, and the group have gone on to have twenty top ten hits, four number ones and their five albums have gone platinum. ‘PDG,’ I can hear you saying. I can name but two of their tracks. Another from stage school, Bradford Stage 84, a true Yorkie, she has just finished a stint in the West End in Shrek. She played the princess, not the ogre. Pasha Kovalev is afforded the honours.
And that folks, as they say, is that. It all kicks off at 9:00pm on Friday 5th October, another show the following day (6:30pm), the dance world waiting, the dancers’ nerves chafing, the executives hoping.
I should add one minor piece of information at this stage. Whilst researching the show I traced the family tree of Len Goodman. And then I did the same on Bruno Tonioli. And blow me down with a feather I read that back in 1890 Len’s granddad was serving in the army in Italy and he fathered an Italian boy. It was hidden given the lack of mobile phones and Facebook back in the day.
It transpires that the Italian was called Luigi Tonioli Rossi, the father of . . .
I know, unbelievable, but Len and Bruno are half-brothers.
October 2nd 2012