You don’t need me to tell you that it’s been a weird year, and at times like this we all like to cling on to life’s little certainties. One such cornerstone of modern Britain is the return of the BBC Saturday night stalwart, Strictly Come Dancing. 

Despite The Current Unpleasantness, there was no way that the good folk at Auntie Beeb weren’t going to pull out all the stops to ensure that the annual campfest of sequins, glitter and those absolutely-not-scripted training VTs went ahead.

Yes, there will be fewer contestants but I’m not that bothered. Much as I love the show, the early rounds drag on longer than Wagner’s Ring Cycle and serve only to clear out the two-left-footed dead wood. But of course the stand-out change – nothing to do with the pandemic – is that, at long last, the competition is debuting a same-sex partnership with lesbian boxer Nicola Adams. More of that later but, to all those “traditionalists” who have been complaining that having two women dance together is a (quick)step too far, here’s an image of exactly that which obviously wasn’t taken last week.

Some things will never change. Shirley Ballas will yet again arrive on set several years younger, Motsi’s enthusiasm will leave us all wondering whether or not she’s necked an ecstasy tab, while Craig will doubtless be so waspish that it will come as little surprise if he rocks up in a yellow and black striped frock with a pair of antennae glued to his head. 

Craig. “Waspish”.

Sadly, wavy-armed Bruno’s role will be limited. This is because his commute between the UK and America, where he also judges Dancing with the Stars, is not really practical because of you know what. We shall miss him.

So, what of the class of 2020? Let’s have a gander.

Jacqui Smith

Comes across as a fairly good egg, the former Labour Home Secretary quit after an expenses scandal back in 2009. She achieved further unwanted notoriety when it was revealed that her now ex-husband put in an expenses claim for two porn films which, let’s face it, hardly represents good value to the taxpayer (especially when you can get it for free these days).

HRVY

Heavy? Hervey? Harvey? Whatever. What’s his problem with vowels? Do they cost extra? Presumably signed because of the BBC’s obsession with “yoof”, the YouTuber will be following in the footsteps of the excellent Joe Sugg, one of 2018’s stand-out stars. It’s easy to be snooty but let’s give him a chance.

Jamie Laing

Made in Chelsea’s Jamie had to pull out last year having done his leg in, eventually making way for last-minute signing Kelvin Fletcher who then want on to win. He deserves another crack.

Maisie Smith

Hasn’t Tiffany grown up?

For those of us who haven’t watched EastEnders for about ten years, hasn’t little Tiffany grown up? Filling the obligatory soap star spot, Maisie is a previous winner of a Children in Need Strictly Special. Stand by for ringer accusations from people who take it far too seriously.

Bill Bailey

I have a feeling that 55 year old Bill will surprise us. Unlikely to win, but the funny man is also an accomplished musician and an understanding of music and rhythm may well stand him in good stead.

JJ Chalmers

JJ Chalmers in his Invictus gear.

Disability should be no bar to enjoying dance, as brilliantly demonstrated by paralympians Johnny Peacock in 2018 and Will Bayley last year. Former Royal Marine JJ was seriously injured in a bomb attack in 2011 and has since gone on to win a gold medal at the Invictus Games. Good luck!

Clara Amfo

One of the best radio DJs working today, Radio 1’s Clara has also presented the Brits, Glastonbury and the Proms. She has the look of a winner about her – definitely one to watch.

Nicola Adams

She can move in the ring, but what about the dancefloor?

Nicola is used to making history. The first woman to win an Olympic boxing gold, the first woman to retain her Olympic title and the first out LGBT person to win an Olympic boxing medal of any colour. I love the fact that she’s going to be dancing with a woman and I wouldn’t put it past her to add the glitterball to her already bulging trophy cabinet.

Ranvir Singh

The obligatory Good Morning Britain entry, I can’t say I know too much about her as, every single bloody time I flick over to GMB the adverts are on. But she seems nice enough.

Caroline Quentin

Best known for her roles in Men Behaving Badly and Jonathan Creek, Caroline is filling the Woman Of A Certain Age role. Although I have no basis for saying so, I have a sneaking feeling that she’ll do okay.

Jason Bell

Jason is an American who used to play a sport that we don’t really get over here.

Max George

Boyband members often do well, as evidenced by McFly’s Harry Judd’s 2011 win and Max’s The Wanted bandmate Jay McGuiness’ triumph in 2015. I shall be watching him closely.

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