It’s that time of year again as Strictly Come Dancing is about to return to our screens. While the competition won’t start until the end of the month, Saturday sees the launch show in which the celebrities meet their professional dance partners for the first time. Meanwhile, last night’s edition of The One Show introduced us to the fifteen stars who will be foxtrotting and tangoing to a potential victory in December.
Profession: Model and TV Presenter
Best Known for: Being the partner, and later wife, of England footballer Peter Crouch as she was one of the many WAGs who came to prominence during the 2006 World Cup. Abbey has also participated on Britain’s Next Top Model, Hell’s Kitchen and is now the regular fashion expert on This Morning
First Thoughts: Model Abbey obviously works out on a regular basis so has an advantage on some of her less energetic rivals. However, a good body doesn’t always equate to a good dancer and Abbey’s height may well count against her
Initial Odds to win: 6/1
Best Known For: Playing the character of Darren Osbourne in Hollyoaks on and off for almost fifteen years.
First Thoughts: Another member of this year’s cast who has youth on his side, Ashley obviously keeps fit as he has to pose for those Hollyoaks Hunks calendars every year. Hollyoaks alumni Ricky Whittle and Ali Bastian both went far in the 2009 series and I’m sure Ashley’s legion of female fans will keep him in the contest for as long as possible.
Initial Odds to Win: 8/1
Profession: Rugby Player
Best Known For: Being part of the England team who won the Rugby World Cup in 2003 he’s also the 10th highest point scorer in English rugby history. Ben, who was awarded an MBE in 2004, retired from the game in 2010 in order to concentrate on his charity work.
First Thoughts: Sportsmen are a mixed bunch when it comes to Strictly however rugby players have performed well over the years – most notably Matt Dawson and Austin Healey.
Initial Odds to Win: 6/1
Profession: TV Chef
Best Known For: Being one half of The Hairy Bikers team, he and Si King have presented various cooking shows since 2004. Before being known for his cooking, Dave was a make-up artist for a number of TV shows with his specialism being prosthetics .
First Thoughts: I’m not really predicting big things for Dave and he does seem like one of the contestants who will crash out in the earlier rounds. Having said that, on The One Show, Darcey Busell did describe him as surprisingly nimble so he could shock one or two viewers.
Initial Odds to Win: 33/1
Best Known For: Being one of the Dragons on Dragons Den and investing in many businesses from wool manufacturing to baby products.
First Thoughts: Deborah has previously forayed into the world of TV dance competitions as a competitor on Let’s Dance for Comic Relief. There she was accompanied by her fellow Dragons but, on her own, I don’t fancy her chances that much.
Initial Odds to Win: 25/1
Best Known For: Being a Bond Girl as she played KGB temptress Pola Inova in A View to a Kill opposite Roger Moore. Fiona’s other acting credits including taking the lead in the 1972 adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and being part of the ensemble in TV drama Angels.
First Thoughts: She’s not really somebody I know that much about but she may be one of the older contestants who can still move around the dancefloor pretty well.
Initial Odds to Win: 16/1
Profession: Fashion Designer
Best Known For: Creating a brand of affordable designer clothing for Debenhams and being a judge on Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model. Julien has also worked for Chanel and Givenchy and was awarded the OBE in 2004.
First Thoughts: Julien actually has a modicum of dancing experience and he was interested in becoming a tap dancer in his youth. I feel that Julien is the candidate that most will know little about and will probably surprise one or two viewers
Initial Odds to Win: 14/1
Best Known For: Playing Daniel Chalk in Waterloo Road and those incredibly annoying Nationwide adverts. Mark is an incredibly famous face on British TV and has over 100 credits to his name. His most notable roles include Northern Lights, Murphy’s Law, Early Doors and Catterick.
First Thoughts: I have to say I’m not particularly expecting that much from Mark and I’m really surprised that an actor of his calibre has decided to take part in Strictly. In fact his participation is the biggest shock since Rory Bremner appeared on the programme two years ago.
Initial Odds to Win: 33/1
Best Known For: Playing Kirsty Soames in Coronation Street and being part of one of the soap’s most memorable storylines as she abused her fiancée Tyrone.
First Thoughts: I would pick her as the series favourite especially following the revelations that she’s been dancing since she was very young. The fact that somebody has already put a massive bet on her to win must mean there’s plenty of confidence in her abilities.
Initial Odds to Win: 5/1
Best Known For: Playing ‘Ash’ in Casualty and DC Jacob Banks on The Bill. Patrick also has plenty of experience on the stage most notably with the RSC where he played the first ever black Romeo.
First Thoughts: Patrick previously put in a memorable performance on the 2009 series of Let’s Dance for Comic Relief where he and Lisa Maxwell did a great Riverdance. His previous experience in football means he’ll be incredibly nimble and he’s my dark horse pick to win the whole thing.
Initial Odds to Win: 10/1
Profession: TV Presenter
Best Known For: Being the letters and numbers guru on Countdown since 2009. Oxford graduate Rachel was plucked from obscurity when she became the replacement for Carol Vordeman.
First Thoughts: Another bright young thing whose youth and size will obviously be an advantage as she progresses through the competition. The current favourite, I have a feeling that Rachel might struggle with some dances and might not be as good as some think she might be.
Initial Odds to Win: Currently the bookies’ favourite at 9/2
Best Known For: Her hit singles ‘Groovejet’ and ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’. Sophie’s first TV appearance came before she was even born when her pregnant mum Janet was presenting Blue Peter.
First Thoughts: I don’t think there will be any murder on the dancefloor when Sophie takes to the stage as I really feel she’ll be one of the best. Obviously her background in pop music has left her quite fit and I reckon she’ll stay in the contest for quite a while.
Initial Odds to Win: 6/1
Profession: Newsreader and TV Presenter
Best Known For: Presenting BBC Breakfast alongside Bill Turnbull. Susannah was previously a mainstay of BBC News 24 and also appeared on Radio 5 Live.
First Thoughts: Susannah has previously stepped onto the Strictly stage as part of a Children in Need special where she competed against three other female newsreaders. She definitely showcased her strengths during her short stint in the studio and I feel she’ll have a lot of support from the BBC Breakfast team.
Initial Odds to Win: 8/1
Best Known For: Being one of the most successful British golfers of all time, Tony rose to prominence when he became the first ever golfer to hit a hole-in-one on live TV. He was one of the only players to hold the US and European Open titles at the same time, Tony was later awarded with an OBE.
First Thoughts: I don’t think Tony’s going to go very far at all and I feel he’ll be a Peter Shilton/Johnny Ball character who’ll crash out after a couple of weeks.
Initial Odds to Win: He’s the current outsider at 66/1
Profession: Broadcaster and Journalist
Best Known For: Her short-lived chat show as well as her televised breakdown in the Big Brother house. More recently Vanessa has been pulling double duty hosting shows on both Radio 2 and London 94.9. In addition Vanessa made a memorable appearance on Celebrity Wife Swap when she clashed with her temporary spouse Paul Daniels.
First Thoughts: Anybody who saw Vanessa on Let’s Dance earlier in the year is probably already trying to erase the memory of her Cher performance out of their heads, however there’s no denying she was entertaining. It remains to be seen if she’ll be this year’s comedy entrant or if she’ll surprise us like Lisa Riley did last year, we’ll have to wait to see if she’s paired with Anton.
Initial Odds to Win: 40/1
What do you think to this year’s Strictly line-up? Is it a good bunch or a little underwhelming? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or by leaving a comment below.