#StrictlyLiveBlogging Week 3: Second Live Show

It’s that time of the week once again! Good evening to you all, and welcome once again to #StrictlyLiveBlogging, our weekly live blog of the hit BBC One Saturday night dance extravaganza that is Strictly Come Dancing.

Can you believe a week has passed since the first live show? Well we can’t, but it’s here now, and as always tonight, we’ll be here with our warm up preview of all of tonight’s dances at 6:15pm, before we start bringing you our live blog as the show goes live on BBC One at 6:45pm. To keep up with the live blog, just swipe down on your phone or tablet, or press F5 to refresh on your PC or laptop.

And as always we’d love to hear from you – don’t forget to leave your comments below, or you can Tweet us using the hashtag #StrictlyLiveBlogging. We’ve had over 50 readers in the last two weeks so thank you one and all! Enjoy the live blogs and the show tonight and tomorrow.

Alex 😄👍💃📝❤⭐


Welcome everyone! Second live show already! Last Saturday, the fifteen new celebrities and their professional dance partners took to the floor for the very first time watched by an audience of over 10m. Let’s just have a quick reminder of the leaderboard as it stood after the first live show last week:

So right up at the top with 31 out of a possible 40 for their dazzling Foxtrot were JLS’ Aston Merrygold and Janette Manrara, closely followed by Debbie McGee on 30 with her surprisingly dark horse Paso Doble with Giovanni Pernice. Down at the joint bottom on 16 points apiece were This Morning presenter Ruth Langsford and Anton du Beke with their Waltz, and comedian Brian Conley with his partner, Amy Dowden for their Tango.


This weekend of course, is where it all gets serious as the stakes are about to get raised. The public vote will go live this week and will open at the end of the show (approximately 8:45pm) – details of how to vote are, as ever, on the BBC Strictly website.

However, this can also only mean one thing – by this time tomorrow night, the first couple will be voted off the competition, so adding up the judge’s first two sets of scores and viewer votes, it really is all to play for tonight.


Looking ahead to tonight’s dances, and we’ve got a veritable set of delights awaiting, including the first Charlestons, quicksteps and American smooths of the series. Here’s all the dances for the couples this week and what they’ll be dancing to:

And here’s all the couples today after completing their dress rehearsals:


15 minutes to go! Tess and Claudia are raring to go…

As are Shirley and, er…Bruno…


If you missed it last night, we’d highly recommend catching up with the first in the new series of Channel 4’s hit satirical news show The Last Leg on All4 after the first live show tonight. Paralympian Jonnie Peacock and his partner, Oti Mabuse were on as guests along with the absolutely fabulous Joanna Lumley and comedian Russell Howard and it was a hoot as you can see. They even got a good luck message from kid’s TV legend Basil Brush!


5 minutes to go!


Here we go people! Dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah, duh duh dah dah dah…


Tess and Claudia looking amazing tonight!


Some amazing costumes I am seeing tonight! Full credit to Vicky Gill and the wardrobe team!


Tonight’s first couple dancing are Chizzy and Pasha – they’ve got a Foxtrot this week. How will they fare after last week’s Cha Cha Cha?


Chizzy is very light on her feet here but still showing the same level, if not more, of sass she gave us last week!

Our score: 6. A unique and surprisingly well executed foxtrot!


Shirley said the technique was disappointing as she says the Foxtrot is the Rolls Royce of dancing. Bruno says Pasha better not mess with her as she’s getting sassy – but at the expense of the dance sometimes. Craig said her gapping needed work and that he needed less musical theatre and more grace but she was fun to watch. Darcey says she comes to sell a performance. Bit of a mixed bag I’d say!


Chizzy and Pasha’s scores are in:

Craig: 3

Darcey: 5

Shirley: 4

Bruno: 4

Total: 16


Oh I’ve missed the terms and conditions dance!

Aston and Janette are up next with a salsa to the hit of the summer, “Despacito”. Will he be able to shake the dancefloor tonight?


This is really bringing a smile to my face! Aston and Janette bringing all the fun and party alive with a carnival/festival feel! Good work with the lifts too! (And on a totally unrelated note love their tent!)

Our score: 9. A party popping salsa that’s setting the bar high!


Bruno said his eyes were on stalks and that it was a snake hipped smidgen of perfection! Craig said some of the lifts were a bit wobbly but that it had rhythm and timing. Darcey said it was fast, compact and tight. Shirley loved it, loved it and loved it some more. I feel more good scores coming!


Here’s Aston and Janette’s scores:

Craig: 7

Darcey: 8

Shirley: 8

Bruno: 9

Total: 32


Susan and Kevin are next tonight with the first Charleston of the series. Here come the swimming hands!


Susan’s legwork is letting her down a bit but fabulous arms and she’s capturing the comedy of the dance! 

Our score: 5. Fun and action packed Charleston but quite a lot technically to work on!


Craig said she had none of the swivel required for the dance. Darcey said the dance was made for her. Shirley said she was entertaining, bright, synchronized and coordinated. Bruno said she was having too much fun like Pan’s People gone demented. Universally positive I’d say!


The scores for Susan and Kevin are in:

Craig: 3

Darcey: 6

Shirley: 7

Bruno: 6

Total: 22


Charlotte and Brendan next. She has her first Latin dance with the Cha Cha Cha this week. Will she shine like she did with her Foxtrot?


Swit and indeed swoo at you Charlotte! Looking seriously hot in that dress! Bit rusty with the spin there but a lot of sass and attitude throughout.

Our score: 7. Not as on point as last week but still very good!


Darcey said she recovered despite her nerves but to work on creating a character to get over her fears. Shirley said her heart went out to her as she struggled to find technical elements that worked this week but that she went for it. Bruno says she was being dragged from pillar to post but to regroup and strengthen herself. Craig said it was a complete dance disaster but on a positive she’ll never have to dance it again. Poor Charlotte, I want to hug her…


Charlotte and Brendan’s scores are in:

Craig: 2

Darcey: 4

Shirley: 3

Bruno: 3

Total: 12


Joe and Katya are up next with a Tango. Will he pull off his tango face with panache?


Joe’s stiffening up quite a bit but he’s bringing a lot of the storytelling and passion to this dance. As a fellow Scot I am loving his tartan waistcoat!

Our score: 7. Great rousing Tango, and a lot better than last week!


Shirley said it took a bit long to get started and it lost its pace. Bruno said he spent so much time in the wardrobe he was looking for Narnia and he spent the time skipping around like a March hare. Craig said it had too much attack and energy with fingers splayed. Darcey said it’s about balance but that he came out with energy. Mixed bag again I think!


Scores for Joe and Katya are in:

Craig: 5

Darcey: 6

Shirley: 5

Bruno: 6

Total: 22


Brian and Amy – currently joint bottom of the leaderboard – are next with their Cha Cha Cha. Will they shake their groove things sufficiently enough?


Brian’s footwork is still letting him down badly. A bit too much disco and not enough Cha Cha Cha here to be honest!

Our score: 3. Close but no cig-cha cha char!


Bruno said he had the Saturday night fever and a certain case of flu that got stuck in the 70s. Craig said the timing was out and the hip action was stomping. Darcey said it was lively, bright and confident. Shirley said he needs to know his choreography and technique inside out. 


Here comes Brian and Amy’s scores:

Craig: 3

Darcey: 5

Shirley: 5

Bruno: 6

Total: 19


Gemma and Aljaz are next with their waltz. Will she be able to pull it off with grace and style?


Oh wow. Going a bit misty eyed here. Gemma looks so beautiful and graceful, like a ballerina in a music box! Really captured the technicality of the dance and very good arm movements too!

Our score: 8. Don’t doubt yourself Gemma. You’re a ballroom queen for sure and Aljaz has bought that out of you!
Craig said it was an improvement on last week and had nice rise and fall and he enjoyed it. Darcey said she was classy and elegant and control on the rise and fall and changes in direction. Shirley said it was a huge improvement with beautiful footwork and that she stayed with the pace. Bruno said it was a waltz that was stylish with a taste of La Dolce Vita! I’m sensing some good scores again!


The scores for Gemma and Aljaz are in:

Craig: 6

Darcey: 6

Shirley: 7

Bruno: 7

Total: 26


Reverend Richard time! He and Amy are up next with the first American smooth of the series – in an Aussie outback hat?


Lots of beautiful character and charm from the Reverend here. Working the lifts very well too it has to be said!

Our score: 6. A treat of an American smooth from down under there!


Darcey said it was quite lumpy but she said the lifts were divine. Shirley loved his choice of music and his ear for it, but the technique and content needs a bit of work. Bruno said it was more of an Australian bender and created a feast of entertainment in a technical drought. Craig thought falling petals had more grace(!)


Here’s the Reverend and Dianne’s scores:

Craig: 3

Darcey: 4

Shirley: 5

Bruno: 5

Total: 17


Ruth and Anton are next with their Great Gatsby inspired Charleston. Cue more swimming arms!


So much period class and elegance here with the fun element upped substantially. Good swivel action from Ruth too! (And love her wig!)

Our score: 7. Ruth bought her character out with this dance and it really showed!


Shirley said 100% better than last week and loved Anton’s routine and that she nailed it! Bruno said she was a good flapper but needed a few more cocktails to get her crazier. Craig said it needed 80% more energy than it was given. Darcey said the difference and belief she had was stronger and to keep it up!


Ruth and Anton’s scores are in:

Craig: 3

Darcey: 5

Shirley: 6

Bruno: 6

Total: 20


Simon and Karen are next with their Waltz to a football anthem close to his heart – so they’ve gone to Anfield!


Hmm. Simon is trying his best but he’s visibly nervous when in hold. It’s rather letting down the flow of the dance.

Our score: 4. Not completely terrible but not as good as it could’ve been.


Bruno said it started so good but that it needs more flow. Craig said it was a shame it stumbled because it showed a lot of promise. Darcey said he was a strong elegant gentleman but that the emotion overcame him. Shirley’s giving him a hug for encouragement and that she felt the emotion of a special piece of music. God where’s our tissues?


Simon and Karen’s scores are in:

Craig: 4

Darcey: 4

Shirley: 6

Bruno: 5

Total: 19


Nice to see Marvin and Rochelle Humes in the audience tonight! Her Saturdays bandmate Mollie and AJ are next with a tango.


Well it’s safe to say Tallulah the Tango Queen has arrived! Such great poise and attack from Mollie here and great choreography from AJ.

Our score: 8. A much better turn out from Mollie this week. She’s got her tango face nailed down!


Craig said it had attack and intent but that they were getting marked down for an illegal lift(!) Darcey said she had the focus from the beginning. Shirley said it’s the best tango of the series so far. Bruno said she had a much better connection this week and a good interpretation of the dance. Better marks are coming I think (except from Craig)!


Here comes Mollie and AJ’s scores:

Craig: 4

Darcey: 6

Shirley: 8

Bruno: 7

Total: 25


Jonnie and Oti are up next with a Western inspired Jive. It’s Jonnie’s first dance on his blade so how will he get on?


Go Jonny go! I think we’re looking at a contender here people. Good kicks and flicks, and better with the “hat-ography” than Oti even is!

Our score: 8. Seriously good jive from Jonnie B Goode!


Darcey called him Cowboy Jonnie with strength and stamina and said he was fabulous out there. Shirley said his kicks and flicks were outstanding! Bruno said if it looks good, it feels good. Craig said there was a bit of hesitation and that he needs to work on focusing the energy in his arms but brilliant otherwise!


Scores for Jonnie and Oti are in:

Craig: 6

Darcey: 7

Shirley: 8

Bruno: 8

Total: 29


Dark horse Debbie and Giovanni are up next tonight with their Viennese Waltz. Will she surprise us all as she did last week?


Again as with last week, so much grace and the air of a natural dancer has our Debbie! This dance really suits her.

Our score: 8. As with Jonnie, definitely one to watch I think!


Shirley says she was like a beautiful English rose. Bruno said it was graceful, with gorgeous fluidity. Craig gave his first UH. MAY. ZING. of the series! Darcey said it was effortless with ease! More good scores I think!


The scores for Debbie and Giovanni are in:

Craig: 8

Darcey: 9

Shirley: 9

Bruno: 8

Total: 34


Davood and Nadiya has the first quickstep of the series next. Can he bring it the speed and athleticism needed?


So much cheekiness and content to this from Davood, and great choreography from Nadiya! Very light on his feet too!

Our score: 8. Very enjoyable first quickstep of the series! Davood’s another contender I think!


Bruno said it was like a race straight to the bedroom – the fast and furious of ballroom! Craig said it had a lot of style and a lot of incredible energy. Darcey said impressive but difficult quickstep but to control the upper body energy. Shirley said she was a traditionalist and had a bit too much faffing around beforehand.


Craig: 6

Darcey: 7

Shirley: 7

Bruno: 7

Total: 27


Closing the show tonight is Alexandra and Gorka with their Paso Doble. I have a feeling she’ll do well with this!


So much attack and panache from Alexandra and Gorka here! She beautifully captures the mood and feel of the dance here – good music choice too!

Our score: 9. Charging the ballroom dancefloor with drama and passion!


Craig’s just given a standing ovation and a fist pump! Darcey praised the strength and drama that was beautiful to watch. Shirley said she can shift weight from foot to foot and that will stand her well as she loved it. Bruno said she blew him away and that he felt everything she felt with the dance.


Here are Alexandra and Gorka’s scores:

Craig: 9

Darcey: 9

Shirley: 9

Bruno: 9

Total: 36


So that’s it – all the dances done and what another fantastic show! Lines are open to vote now – we’ve cast for our favourites but have you? We’ll see you back here tomorrow at 6:45pm for a recap of tonight’s show and our live blog of the results show that starts at 7:15pm. See you all then!


#BlastfromthePast: Live and Kicking

Those casting a bleary eye over this morning’s TV schedules today (Saturday, 30th September 2017) may find an unusual creature in amongst all the cookery shows and endless reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond. For the first time in God knows how long, the BBC is bringing mayhem, pop, cartoons and hell even a bit of gunge back to Saturday mornings, with it’s new BBC Two/CBBC series Saturday Mash-Up. Hosted by newcomer Jonny Nelson with BBC 1Xtra DJ Yasmin Evans (and CBBC’s Hacker T Dog), it’s the shot in the arm Saturday morning telly in the UK has needed for some time.

It thus marks the grand return of the tradition of kid’s TV with a wide appeal on weekend morning television to the masses. Those born before 1998 will be able to remember the format at its height through all number of incarnations. Kids of the 70s will remember Noel Edmonds in his pre-opening red boxes days on Multi Coloured Swap Shop. Kids of the 80s will go all dewy eyed thinking back to the old silver fox himself, Phillip Schofield and Gordon the Gopher on Going Live. And if you, like me, were a kid of the 90s, it was all about Live & Kicking.

Launched in the autumn of 1993 as the natural successor to Going Live, the first presenting line up consisted of the Broom Cupboard’s Andi Peters and Emma Forbes (daughter of Nanette “My hands are still soft as my face” Newman) and the ever witty announcer Mitch. Coming along at the precise moment when the likes of 90s pop legends like Take That and Eternal were at their height (the now manband legends were on the first show performing “Relight My Fire”), and bringing in a mix of cartoons – Nickelodeon’s Rugrats being the most enduring, and a mainstay of virtually all of L&K‘s eight year run – and US imports like Clarissa Explains It All and Sweet Valley High, Live & Kicking quickly became, to quote the show’s famous tagline, the only way to start your weekend.

After three years, Andi and Emma bade the show an emotional farewell, and in their place for the fourth series in 1996, came arguably the show’s golden couple – Zoë Ball and Jamie Theakston. Bringing a bit of rock ‘n roll to those early rises (along with the borderline terrifying Leprechaun puppets Sage and Onion, and Mr Blobby), their series started just as the likes of Spice Girls and Boyzone – who quickly became regular guests on the show – took off, and ratings soared to the two million mark, with the show even picking up a BAFTA along the way.

Also chief among the show’s highlights was the catchphrase ‘Miss It? Miss Out!’ and the infamous jingle for the phone number (0181 811 8181), celebrity guests being interviewed in ‘The Hot Seat’ (who can forget when Peter Andre got severely roasted by one caller that turned the air blue?), and even comedy from ‘swing your pants’ Trevor and Simon (who’d also been on Going Live) and then later, Ben, Jez and Rich.

Also chief in the Zoë and Jamie years were features like Cloud 9 and Blobby’s Office Trolley, two phone based games that occasionally reinforced why the joys of live telly are called that for a very good reason, and a panel review show called Hit Miss or Maybe, where three celebs reviewed the latest music videos via the medium of comedy thumbs up hands on sticks.

As the show got bigger, so did the guests – everyone from Jennifer Saunders to Cher, and even the original king of chat shows Michael Parkinson. And as Zoë juggled her early rises with both L&K and the breakfast show for Radio 1 and became the 90s equivalent of Fearne Cotton, so too did Jamie, hosting that and Top of the Pops become an icon of 90s TV and the gossip rags, even famously dating All Saints’ Natalie Appleton (which made for a thoroughly awkward and sadly not available on YouTube episode when they came on to promote a new single not long after their split. Oops).

By the end of the show’s sixth run in April 1999, Zoë and Jamie were ready to move on. But a solid force of competition, in the shape of ITV’s SMTV Live and CD:UK with Ant & Dec and Cat Deeley, was building up just as they left, meaning the show’s next presenters that September – CBBC’s Steve Wilson and former model and MTV VJ Emma Ledden were on a back foot from the off. Despite forming a good bond, they fell someway behind in the ratings.

Having failed to engage viewers, they were gone within a year, to be replaced by another new presenting line up – The Girlie Show‘s Sarah Cawood, Ortis Deley, Blue Peter‘s Katy Hill and creepola MTV VJ Trey Farley. They halved the viewing figures and interest even further, and a move to a year round slot rather than the traditional September – April run that L&K had operated on from the beginning sealed its fate. The show came to an end in September 2001, featuring a live performance from Steps to mark the end of an era.

Hopefully with Saturday Mash-Up on track to bring back anarchy and anything can happen antics to the young (and not so young), let us all hail Live & Kicking. Solid gold weekend viewing that set the standard for unmissable morning madness.

What are your memories of this week’s #BlastfromthePast? Tweet me now @ThePensmith10 using the hashtag #BlastfromthePast and I may feature some of your Tweets in next week’s blog!

An open letter to Bob Shennan, controller of BBC Radio 2 re: Ore Oduba.

Dear Mr Shennan sir (ooh. Sounded like Basil Brush),

Hello to you. My name is Alex and I am 28 years old. About five years ago now, with my ever advancing age (mid 40 year old in a twentysomething’s body. Just saying), I made the glorious leap to listening to BBC Radio 2, the station you have been controller of for the last eight years. Ah yes, that oh so glorious leap, as Miranda Hart once observed, that you take when you stop pretending to be a teenager or down with ‘da yoof’, knowing full well you’re never going back to Radio 1 ever again. 

Radio 2 is just my cup of tea on all fronts. Whether it is Chris Evans getting me up in the mornings, Ken Bruce playing another round of Popmaster (one of these days I will call up and do it, chart nerd that I am), Sara Cox delivering some 80s grooves on a Friday night, Dermot O’Leary easing me gently into Saturday morning after a lie in, or Claudia Winkleman winding down my Sunday evening. (Although your recent schedule shift means I have to listen to Anneka Rice’s Happening on catch up, in lieu of her being shifted to a midnight slot. Is this how you treat a national institution, I ask? I digress). It’s their like the audial equivalent of slippers and a warm blanket.

But one addition to your schedules recently has me quite the happy and excited. Prior to his (well deserved) victory on Strictly Come Dancing last year, I quite liked Ore Oduba in his slot as sports reporter on BBC Breakfast. Of the times I was able to catch the show on a day off from work, I always felt – and still do – that he had a natural charm and flair that only a consummate professional can have (as well as being a dab hand with a jive and an American smooth. Again, I digress).

When Ore filled in for Steve Wright on his afternoon show for a week in August, it also turned out he was quite the natural on the airwaves. Friendly with a nice easy style, and actually just the sort of disc jockey (yes I said the word disc jockey. Again, 40 year old in twentysomething’s body) your station has needed in its schedules for a while.

So the news that he was going to be filling in for Claudia Winkleman’s Sunday evening slot whilst she did Strictly – that’s 12 to 13 whole weeks people – coloured me very excited. And last Sunday my excitement was confirmed to be well placed. Ore has proved himself not just able to fit comfortably into filling in for staff absences, but to be more than capable, I think, of having his own show full time (Ore, if you are reading this, because I know you are one for being overwhelmed by praise, please don’t cry good sir. Just speaking as I find).

Now Mr Shennan sir (again, Basil Brush. What is with that?) whilst I’m not suggesting Jeremy Vine needs bumping off the airwaves any time soon, or that Simon Mayo needs to drive off for longer than the drivetime slot (although Vanessa Feltz needs vacating greatly. Some things are best left in the 90s), consider this. If the personality and appeal is there for a presenter, surely it’d be silly not to make the most of such an opportunity?

No pressure of course, you understand. And my Strictly live blogging duties for the results show on Sunday night aside, Ore Oduba has a guaranteed listener in yours truly. Here’s to hoping I am not alone in such an activity.

Yours with kind regards etc,

Alex MacGregor.

#SongoftheWeek: Craig David – ‘Heartline’

  • ARTIST: Craig David
  • SONG: Heartline


He makes it look easy, doesn’t he? Winner of our Comeback award in last year’s end of year prizes on this here blog, pop’s very own Phoenix from the flames, Craig David, has had another stellar year by all accounts, touring to mass acclaim – and also storming the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury in what was one of the defining sets of that year’s edition of the legendary festival.

But he’s equally not been resting on his laurels where new music is concerned, and now, here he is again with the first single off his forthcoming new album “The Time is Now”, the follow up to last year’s chart topping comeback album “Following My Intuition”.

“Heartline” continues what has been a blinding run of hits since his return, all hiccupy, technicolour beats and a chorus that’s just as addictive. A pleasing mix of what made him such an appealing talent all those years ago when the “Born to Do It” album was released, but bringing his sound up to date whilst at the same time not sounding like it’s chasing after any particular bandwagon.

If I’m a betting man, I’d say that this is going to prove once and for all why Craig’s recent renaissance in fortunes are no flash in the pan. If anything, it’ll prove that talent and knowing how to deliver a banger always wins out. And you can’t ask fairer than that.

“Heartline” is available to stream and download now, and Craig’s new album “The Time is Now” is scheduled for release on 26th January 2018, both via Sony/Insanity. Twitter: @CraigDavid

Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts of my song choice this week on my Twitter using the hashtag #SongoftheWeek!

Tweet Hee Hee: Episode 3

Happy Monday, and happy new week people! If the seasonably late September sunshine where you are isn’t enough to bring on the smile to your face today, fear not, as we’re here once again to bring you a guaranteed smile and laugh with Tweet Hee Hee, my weekly round up of all things funny I’ve encountered on social media this last week.

So let’s bring on the LOLs for a brand new week…


Tonight Matthew, the bathroom sink is going to be Sam Smith…

The kettle is going to be House of Pain…

And this toilet is going to be Adam Ant…


Coming up after our next break, sir…


Over to you for this one, Storm Huntley…


New archive footage emerged this week of an episode of the classic BBC children’s story series deemed not fit for daytime…


A: In Tom and Giovanna Fletcher’s case, with brownies.


A very handy bit of advice to those battling receptionists as cold and flu season approaches:

#StrictlyLiveBlogging Week 2: First Live Show

Welcome back one and all to another week of #StrictlyLiveBlogging, our weekly live blog of the BBC’s hit celebrity ballroom contest Strictly Come Dancing, as it returns for its long awaited new series. 

Two whole weeks have passed since the launch show, and tonight, 15 nervous celebrities and their professional partners are taking to the floor for their very first dances. We will be here bringing you all the happenings from the dance floor as and when we get them from 6.25pm, and with a warm up from 5.45pm looking ahead to tonight’s show and the dances we can expect to see!

Please don’t forget to comment below with your thoughts or Tweet me using the hashtag #StrictlyLiveBlogging!


So here it is. Our Saturday and Sunday nights from now until December are officially starting right here! As we left the last live blog, the fifteen new celebrities were paired up with their professional partners on the launch show.

Tonight, in a whopper of a two hour and 20 minute live show (best get some drinks and snacks in), all of them will take to the floor for their first dances. A quick reminder, courtesy of the BBC Strictly Twitter, of who’s been partnered with whom – and more importantly, what their first dances are and which songs they’ll be dancing to:

And here’s the class of 2017 shortly after finishing dress runs today:


As with previous first shows in recent years, the judges will score the first dances tonight as usual, but there’s no dance off this week. Instead, their scores from this week get carried over and added to the scores next week, along with the public votes which go live next week also – details on how to register to vote for free are on the Strictly website here.


Several former Strictly alumni have been reminiscing/sending their good luck wishes to the new class of 2017 today – amongst them, 2006 runner up and Spice Girl, Emma Bunton, and 2012 runner up and Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh:


Looking at Twitter, it’s safe to say the new celebs are a mixture of raring to go and cacking their pants (metaphorically):


20 minutes to go!

It’s worth mentioning at this juncture, to our delight, that last year’s winner and current reigning champion Ore Oduba is still very much a part of this year’s series, as he is hosting the first ever official Strictly podcast every Monday from next week:


Big shout out has to be given at this point as well to our fellow Strictly nuts on here, Strictly Support Group, who are just as excited as we are about tonight’s live show (Hi guys!):


15 minutes to go! Also to mention here that the delightful Zoë Ball is back with It Takes Two, Monday to Friday at 6.30pm on BBC Two from next week. It appears she’s a bit excited, yes:


10 minutes to go!


Nothing like a bit of banter with the band pre-show…


Here we go people!


Loving this professional dance to ‘You Got the Love’! Oti looking very graceful it has to be said!


That is some entrance from the judges there. Darcey and Shirley looking lovely!


Gemma Atkinson and Aljaz Skorjanec opening the show tonight then, with a Cha Cha Cha. A standard first week dance ahead? Let’s find out…!


Gemma says she wanted to bring out her inner J.Lo…safe to say she is doing that so far! Very good New Yorkers!


My score: 7. Really great first dance to open the show, lots of potential.

Shirley loved the cheekiness of the dance. Bruno says she’s like an Amazonian catwalk queen. Craig thinks it’s a bit blocky and square. Darcey says that it’s fast and full but congratulated her on breaking the ice for the others!


Scores for Gemma and Aljaz:

Craig: 4

Darcey: 5

Shirley: 5

Bruno: 6

Total: 20


Brian Conley and Amy Dowden up next, doing the first tango of the series. Not expecting much for this I’ll be honest!


I think it’s safe to say one of the places for next week’s dance off is secure…

Our score: 2. Don’t expect Brian to be around long with performances this wooden!


Bruno loved the intensity, passion and tragedy…almost. Craig said his posture was poor and that he wasn’t leading, but it was something to work on. Darcey says the intensity is there but he has to work on working the dance into the ground. And Shirley? She loves Brian’s character and promenade and a good performance overall.


Brian and Amy’s scores from the judges:

Craig: 3

Darcey: 4

Shirley: 4

Bruno: 5

Total: 16


Alexandra Burke and Gorka Marquez next with a waltz…will they deliver the romance and passion needed?


It appears Gorka is anti-caffeine, ladies and gentlemen…


Safe to say Lexy is moving with all the grace of a leading lady!

Our score: 8. As beautiful a first waltz as you could hope for!


Craig says her hold and shoulders need a bit of work, but loves her expressive arms and feel for the dance. Darcey says she loves how Alexandra gives the musical expression to the dance and that sold it to her. Shirley said she could see the dance meant something to her and that she could be a front runner. Bruno says he felt so good and like he was enveloped by silk. That’s some good scores coming I feel!


Alexandra and Gorka’s scores are in:

Craig: 5

Darcey: 6

Shirley: 6

Bruno: 7

Total: 24


Sunday Brunch’s Simon Rimmer and Karen Clifton are next with the first Paso Doble of the series. Will he be able to stand the dancefloor heat?


Hmmm. He’s got the command and intensity of the dance right but his footwork is a bit stumbly. Not a bad first go though!

Our score: 5. Not bad but a lot to work on!


Darcey agrees with us on the determination and focus not being aimed correctly but that with time this will come. Shirley (with some nice glasses) said the choreography was strong but that he needs to rotate more. Bruno said it was like a pressure cooker about to explode but that he was like a crashing cockroach(?). Craig said there was a lot of ‘standing there and stomping around darling’ and that it was lacking a lot of shaping.


Here comes Simon and Karen’s scores:

Craig: 3

Darcey: 5

Shirley: 5

Bruno: 4

Total: 17


Charlotte Hawkins from Good Morning Britain, and Brendan Cole are next with, unusually, the first foxtrot of the series. Shirley’s expecting a lot as it’s a notoriously difficult ballroom dance!


Oooh. Definitely getting Katie Derham vibes from Charlotte. Very graceful like a Hollywood film star from the golden age of movies! Good navigation with the bench too!

Our score: 7. Stunning first attempt at a foxtrot, lots of potential here!


Shirley got everything she was looking for. Bruno said it was classy, elegant and traditional. Craig saying lots of potential, as does Darcey who says she needs to use her back.


Time for Charlotte and Brendan’s scores:

Craig: 5

Darcey: 5

Shirley: 6

Bruno: 6

Total: 22


So at this halfway stage have to say Charlotte and Alexandra are our favourites so far. Who are yours?


First of the Holby City stars now as Chizzy Akudolu dances with Pasha Kovalev for a Cha Cha Cha…expecting a lot of exuberance and life here!


Woop! Chizzy is shaking it like a disco queen! Bit of wobbly feet placement but she’s selling it for me!

Our score: 6. A fun and fab-u-lous first dance!


Bruno says he could get addicted to ‘Fizzy Chizzy’ and loves to see her on the dance floor! Craig said it was a bit too disco but a great sense of rhythm. Darcey says she’s a sassy lady and wants her flirty attitude. Shirley said she wants to get fizzy with Chizzy also. An order of Chizzy all round I guess!


The scores for Chizzy and Pasha are in:

Craig: 4

Darcey: 5

Shirley: 6

Bruno: 6

Total: 21


Jonnie Peacock and Oti Mabuse are next up with the first waltz from a male celebrity…will he be the perfect leading man?


Very good placement it has to be said! Jonnie’s really selling the feel of the dance. Great choreography from Oti as well.

Our score: 7. Surprisingly lovely first dance!


Craig is impressed despite some minor movement quibbles. Darcey says she’s impressed by his focus and determination but needs to bring the character. Both Shirley and Bruno loved how endearing and charming it was. Got to say I agree!


Jonnie and Oti’s scores are in:

Craig: 4

Darcey: 5

Shirley: 5

Bruno: 6

Total: 20


Joe McFadden is the next of the Holby City actors to take the stage with Katya Jones with the first jive of the series.


Hmmm. Bit stompy and lacking flicks and kicks that really bring this dance alive. Joe needs to let go a bit more I think!

Our score: 5. Not quite polished but a diamond in the rough!


Darcey loved the focus and choreography but agrees with us re: kicks and flicks. Shirley loved Katya’s choreography also. Bruno said he rocked the house and was handy with a chamois cloth. Craig says HE. LIKES. JOE. That’s him impressed then!

See? Craig. Likes. Him!


Joe and Katya’s scores are in:

Craig: 7

Darcey: 7

Shirley: 8

Bruno: 7

Total: 29 – top of the leaderboard now!


Comedian Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton are up next. How will they fare with the first Viennese waltz of the series?


Susan’s definitely brought a light hearted, comedic air to this dance. Bit flat footed in places but a lot of grace too!

Our score: 6. We’re going to be quite mad about this partnership for sure!


Bruno said like a weird and wonderful arthouse film. Shirley says she needs to work on focusing the technique. Craig said she got the essence of the dance. Darcey says she captured the storytelling of the dance but to tone down her (obvious) love of Kevin!


Here comes Susan and Kevin’s scores:

Craig: 5

Darcey: 5

Shirley: 5

Bruno: 5

Total: 20


Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernici are next up with the second Paso Doble of the night. Will they cast any magic spells of dance tonight?


Big surprise from Debbie there. A lot of finnesse and attack for a first dance, and for a Paso too!

Our score: 7. Dramatic and full of content. Really good first go!


Bruno said it had a lot of bite and content. Craig said she danced like a 20 year old (I agree) and that Darcey said she was on fire and is going to go a long way. Shirley said she’s got it all and is outstanding. A dark horse indeed I think!


It’s time for Debbie and Giovanni’s scores:

Craig: 8

Darcey: 8

Shirley: 7

Bruno: 7

Total: 30 – that now puts them top of the leaderboard!


Davood Ghadami and Nadiya Bychkova are next with a Cha Cha Cha. Will it bring the entertainment factor of an EastEnders epic storyline?


Sparky but a bit of hip action and feet placement lacking. Good start though!

Our score: 6. Lots to work with but a lot of good too.

Craig agrees with us on the hip action. Darcey and Shirley admires the capturing of the partnership. And Bruno said he couldn’t think about dancing. I wonder why…? 


Davood and Nadiya’s scores are in:

Craig: 6

Darcey: 7

Shirley: 7

Bruno: 7

Total: 27


Ruth Langsford from This Morning and Anton Du Beke up next with a waltz. Will she make her hubby Eamonn Holmes proud?


Ruth is so graceful and elegant, quite rounded shoulders mind.

Our score: 7. Very beautiful and elegant waltz!


Darcey and Shirley agree with us on the shoulders and upper part of the body but agree about the elegance. Bruno says she doesn’t need to grab Anton so hard. Craig agreed by saying it was ‘Stumble and grab’ time (bit harsh)!


The scores for Ruth and Anton are in:

Craig: 3

Darcey: 4

Shirley: 4

Bruno: 5

Total: 16


So excited about this next one – it’s the Rev Richard Coles and Dianne Buswell with a cha cha cha! Praise be to the heavens…


He’s on a cloud with a harp. Just give him the glitterball now! A bit like the parson’s eggs – good in parts!

Our score: 6. For the sheer entertainment factor he has my blessing!


Shirley said it was a fantastic surprise and says he’s loveable. She was also impressed with the syncopated Cuban break. Bruno said it was full of heavenly delights and diabolical technique! Craig said all the problems began when the cloud landed (bit harsh to the cloud I think) and Darcey said absolutely divine and can’t wait till next week. Nor can I! Heaven knows we need a laugh (yes I just went there)!


The scores are in for The Reverend and Dianne:

Craig: 2

Darcey: 4

Shirley: 6

Bruno: 5

Total: 17


Mollie King and AJ Pritchard are next up with a jive. Come on Team Sats!


Good golly Miss Mollie indeed! Loving all the kicks and flicks. Nice, fun and feel good!

Our score: 7. Best jive of the series so far I think!


Bruno loves that she wants to impress but that she has to work with her partner and following their lead. Craig agrees and says she needs to react to AJ but great rhythm. Darcey said she will get stronger and get the attack required but she delivered with style. Shirley said a good job and lots of potential.


Mollie and AJ’s scores are in:

Craig: 4

Darcey: 6

Shirley: 7

Bruno: 6

Total: 23


Closing the show tonight it’s JLS star Aston Merrygold and Janette Manrara. Can he end the show on a high with his foxtrot? The water bottles seem to agree!


Aston is Mr Foxtrot indeed! This year’s Ore Oduba? Quite possibly!

Our score: 8. A very solid start indeed!


Craig’s not fond of the flashy show off moments but likes his sense of musicality. Darcey said it was controlled, confident and stylish with a modern twist and is one to watch. Shirley said it had elements of traditional foxtrot with a decent frame. Bruno said Aston’s his favourite – slick and flowing like a DB11 – a classic in the making. Seems like the best came last!


In come Aston and Janette’s scores:

Craig: 7

Darcey: 8

Shirley: 8

Bruno: 8

Total: 31 – he ends top of the leaderboard for the first live show!


That’s it for another #StrictlyLiveBlogging. The first Charlestons and Quicksteps are next week and I for one can’t wait. See you back here next weekend at 6:45pm (with our warm up at 6:15pm) and in the meantime…keeeep dancing (and live blogging)!

😄😄😄 🎉🎉🎉 💃💃💃 📝📝📝

#SongoftheWeek: Louis York – ‘I Enjoy You’

  • ARTIST: Louis York
  • SONG: I Enjoy You


It’s been a little shy of two years since I last mentioned Louis York, the collective name for songwriting legends Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony – who between them have been behind hits for Whitney Houston, Olly Murs, Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson to name a few.

Their debut release, ‘Clair Huxtable’ was a beguiling cut of atmospheric, almost trip hop-esque R&B. It’s safe to say they’ve remained a best kept secret of mine since then, and since the release of their debut EP, ‘Masterpiece Theatre’. Now they’re back with easily the smoothest offering of jazz and blues we’ve heard this side of Gregory Porter’s last album.

‘I Enjoy You’ is the sort of song that builds promisingly, delivering a spine tingling finish and vocal turn from Claude. You immediately feel, on hearing it, like you should be in some smokey jazz bar in New Orleans, cocktail in hand whilst the world around you passes by in a haze, whilst you lushly sloth in your own world.

As touched on with Nerina Pallot a few weeks ago, it seems wrong that artists like Louis York aren’t already selling out Madison Square Garden and selling albums on every continent. Selfishly, on the other hand, when the music’s this good – and seemingly underappreciated by others – you feel like the Ferrero Rocher adverts off the 90s; that is to say, giving it away grudgingly.

‘I Enjoy You’ is available to stream and download now via Weirdo Workshop. Twitter: @LouisYorkMusic

Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts of my song choice this week on my Twitter using the hashtag #SongoftheWeek!

#CrazyStupidPlaylist: Louise

90s and 00s pop fans the land over (present writer included) jumped for joy last week when one of its biggest names, Louise Redknapp, announced her return to music after a break of almost 15 years, with a (now sold out) comeback show scheduled for London in December.

Perfecting the fine art of ‘pulling a Zayn/Camila’ in a time before they were even out of nappies, Louise left the R&B/soul girl group Eternal in 1995 after a string of hits and a million selling album. But it was a risk that paid off handsomely, as she went onto score three smash hit albums, and twelve UK top 10 singles to her name.

So as one of the 90s original pop pin ups gears up for her long awaited return, here’s our playlist of some of her best moments to date…

1. STAY (1993)

It’s not for nothing that Eternal were considered one of Britain’s finest girl groups of the 90s. Their powerful blend of harmonies and streetwise beats with a nod to the ‘New Jack swing’ era of US R&B made them a huge hit here and across Europe. Their debut hit ‘Stay’ kicked off their phenomenal success that lasted even beyond Louise’s departure.

2. NAKED (1996)

Louise launched her solo ventures in the autumn of 1995 with two pleasant but modestly charting singles, ‘Light of My Life’ (#8) and ‘In Walked Love’ (#16). But it was in June the following year that she sent pulses racing with the saucy, Madonna-esque title track of her debut album, scoring an immediate top 5 smash.


Following the platinum selling success of ‘Naked’, Louise’s second solo album ‘Woman in Me’ appeared a year later to great success. The album’s biggest single was its second release, a cover of the Average White Band’s 1980s disco hit, bringing it bang up to date for the dancefloors of the 90s and Louise to another top 10 smash.

4. 2 FACED (2000)

Complete with a spoken word intro that has now passed into pop legend (‘Hi girls – HIIII LOUISE!!!’), Louise returned at the dawn of the new millennium after a two year break with her third album ‘Elbow Beach’. A funky, sassy kiss off to superficial haters, ‘2 Faced’ gave her her biggest hit to date by reaching the top 3 in July 2000.


Released to promote her greatest hits album, Louise took on another well known pop classic – this time, the Stealers’ Wheel smash from 1973 – complete with a video that made a tongue in cheek nod to the film Reservoir Dogs that utilised the original version. Stuff what the purists may think – this is a great version of a great song.

    Tweet Hee Hee: Episode 2 (Animals Edition)

    Morning! Welcome to your weekly ease into the week with a laugh and a smile, courtesy of Tweet Hee Hee, my weekly round up of funny and amusing goings on on social media. This week’s a special edition, as I wanted to give focus to one thing on social media that’s always guaranteed to bring me the laughs: animals.

    I have been guilty of many a time in recent memory where I have fallen down a YouTube black hole searching for ‘dog funny’, spending up to an hour watching the same 20 second clip of a dog barking at it’s own reflection in a mirror whilst hysterically giggling like Muttley on acid. Hopefully, today will bring the same effect on you, dear readers – so let’s get laughing.


    For any green fingered fans out there, here’s a sure fire device to keep pesky woodland creatures from nibbling those seeds you’ve planted for next spring:


    Pretty self explanatory:


    In which one of our four legged, furry friends misunderstood when their Cockney owner said they were making ‘apples and pears’ for dinner:


    If you struggled to get up this morning, rest assured you are not alone:


    Proof, if needed, that dogs can nap anywhere they so choose:



    #BlastfromthePast: A1

    Again, I’ve been somewhat slack with weekly trips in my blogging DeLorean. Rest assured, even with Strictly live blogs returning next Saturday, things are back to normal where #BlastfromthePast is concerned. Ready or not, here comes today’s one…

    As a pop kid at heart, there is a place in it – and a fond one at that – for a good old fashioned boyband. By which I mean outlandish hairdos and outfits, tight harmonies, powerful pop choruses, and an epic dance routine or two. 

    In fact, it was for these reasons at the turn of the millennium, whilst watching CD:UK or Top of the Pops, or busting some moves *NSYNC would be proud of at school discos (see below photographic proof), that I had a burning but secret desire to be in a boyband.

    *NSYNC were one such boyband that fuelled that desire. Five were almost certainly another. But so too, for 11/12 year old me, were Ben Adams, Mark Read, Christian Ingebrigtsen and Paul Marazzi – better known, like the motorway running between North London and Scotland, and the steak sauce before them, as A1.

    Formed by the same management team who bought us Steps, if you picked up a copy of Smash Hits or watched Saturday morning kids TV with any kind of regularity around 1999 or 2000, there is a chance you’d have seen them – but mostly Ben – winking back at you from the TV screen or magazine pages.

    Not only going for the dance routine and matching outfit jugular, whilst also having a strong hand in writing many of their hits, the excellent likes of ‘Be the First to Believe’ and ‘Ready or Not’ ticked all the boyband boxes neatly and quickly raced their way up in to the UK top 10 in 1999.

    But it was only a year later, with the release of their second album ‘The A List’, when they covered a-Ha’s 1985 smash ‘Take on Me’ as its first single, that they went one better than the original, by taking it all the way to number one that September, and geniusly recreating it’s flying cyber space video at that year’s Smash Hits Poll Winners Party (video is in the below playlist). 

    They then quickly followed up with the actually brilliant ‘Same Old Brand New You’, also reaching the top of the charts a mere ten weeks later, leading to their picking up of the ‘Best British Breakthrough’ award at the 2001 BRIT awards.

    And then a hush descended in their camp when, following a mall signing in South East Asia, where several of their fans were crushed in a stampede, they understandably took almost a year to follow up this incredible success they’d enjoyed to that point. When they came back in January 2002, they did so with arguably one of the greatest boyband songs, or pop songs generally, ever made: ‘Caught in the Middle’.

    Eschewing the dance routines and matching outfits that had bought them success on their first two albums for instruments and a more pop rock sound, it quite simply is the sort of song that had Take That released it as their comeback single c.2006 would’ve been hailed a classic. Alas the ‘Make it Good’ album that followed it failed to find an audience willing to accept that this was A1, but reinvented.

    Following Paul’s shock departure from the fold that year, the remaining trio of Ben, Mark and Christian announced they were splitting for the foreseeable future. All three released solo material and or produced for others – Ben notably worked with Alexandra Burke and Har Mar Superstar, Mark with Westlife and Olly Murs – in the intervening four years, before, following Ben’s star turn on Celebrity Big Brother in 2009, they reunited – albeit in Christian’s native Norway.

    Originally only planned to be for one single release – the brilliantly anthemic ‘Take You Home’ – for the Norwegian version of Red Nose Day, and a tour, the response they got was of Take That levels, leading to their two albums, 2010’s ‘Waiting for Daylight’ (from which the title track was a single, all blissful and yet heartbreaking) and 2012’s ‘Rediscovered’ coming out to huge success. Both are on Spotify and are well worth investigating.

    They were last seen properly on our shores taking part in the second series of The Big Reunion for ITV2 in 2014, but they still gig regularly together. Ben’s also currently touring in a stage version of Flashdance with last year’s Strictly pro champ Joanne Clifton, whilst Christian is busy with releasing solo music back in Norway, and Mark is also dabbling with work with former Strictly pros as he is touring shortly as music provider for a new show starring Kristina Rhianoff and Tristan McManus.

    For now though, here’s to this week’s #BlastfromthePast, A1. A first class boyband who did exactly what they said on the tin.

    What are your memories of this week’s #BlastfromthePast? Tweet me now @ThePensmith10 using the hashtag #BlastfromthePast and I may feature some of your Tweets in next week’s blog!