Clare Sinclair enjoys the mix of dance and pantomime elements in the tour of the hit TV programme.
Strictly Come Dancing is arguably one of the most glamorous and glitzy programmes around, and as a firm favourite of the nation it’s hardly surprising that the live tour is always a storming success. The live show follows on from the completion of the televised competition where a variety of celebrities pair up with professional ballroom dancers to various effect; often hilarious and sometimes surprising.
Unlike the BBC programme, the tour is hosted by Kate Thornton – leaving Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly behind – and although most of the judging panel is present, Alesha Dixon has been left out. Judge Craig Revel Horwood is also director of the spectacular touring production, while head judge Len Goodman and Bruni Tonioli give their professional opinions to the couples as they perform through the evening.
Walking into the SECC hall, it’s clear to see that spectacle and glitz are the themes for the evening – a giant disco-ball over the dance floor replicating the studio set up feels familiar, as does the format of the show. The judges come out decked in Scottish tribute outfits: Craig in a smart black kilt, Len in some fetching tartan trews and Bruno in a rather small kilt, leaving little to the imagination. The audience seem to love the effort they have made for them, and the excitable nature of the crowd carries through the night.
This year’s tour comprises of 7 couples; Robbie Savage with new partner Katya Virshilas, Anita Dobson and Robin Windsor, Mark Foster (from the 2008 series) with Natalie Lowe, Nancy Dell’Olio dances with Artem Chigvintsev, Jason Donovan and Kristina Rihanoff, Chelsee Healey with Pasha Kovalev, and current champion Harry Judd with Aliona Vilani. Each couple have two chances to impress the crowd – and there’s a vote for your favourite to see who takes home the Glitterball trophy for that evening.
As the celebrities strut onto the stage for the first time though, it’s clear to see who’ll be in the running for the top spot based on the reception each couple receives – and this year the front runners are undoubtedly Harry Judd and Jason Donovan. The predominantly female audience can barely contain their excitement at them, or in fact at any of the male professional dancers – all costumed to show off their assets to best effect. To this end, this show ends up feeling a little bit like a tame hen night, with some pantomime thrown in for good measure.
Robbie Savage becomes the token villain as he unwisely criticises the sporting talent in Scotland – ensuing a cacophony of boos and hisses each time he re-enters the arena, while Nancy Dell’Olio takes the comedy crown for both her dancing, and the deluded rant she later has as she tries to convince Craig of how excellent she really is. Yet while the dancing is excellent from the outset, it’s the pantomime element which is most remembered. Strictly Come Dancing is undoubtedly a high octane show, slick and professional, and full of the glamour we’d expect but should let the dancing speak for itself rather than trying to give an exact replication of the format we see on a Saturday evening.
Strictly Come Dancing’s run at the SECC has ended but its tour of the UK continues.