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My daughter and I sped off to Birmingham this morning to catch the Sunday matinee of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing Tour.  What a show it was! The emphasis with the live tour is on providing sheer entertainment value, as the larger arena venues do lose the intimacy of the TV studio. Many of the exchanges between judges, host and dancers are semi-scripted – but it works, because they all stray all over the place and Bruno, Len and Craig are in fits of laughter half the time, leaving it to competent and glam hostess Kate Thornton to keep it all together (can’t see Tess being as successful!).

First up after the initial pro dance was footballer Robbie Savage, dancing with Katya (as Ola and James are not on the tour this year) to ‘entertain us’ with his salsa.  Not a great dance, but a good opening number.  Following him was Anita Dobson with Robin doing their Charleston which was fun. Next came tall swimmer Mark Foster, brought back from 2008 to dance with Natalie, and a rather nice but slightly wooden waltz.

Then it was Nancy’s turn. Thankfully, she was now dancing with Artem, and his tweaking of Anton’s ‘Be Italian’ tango routine played down the slapstick, but upped the comedy with a great fun pass the rose from mouth to mouth sequence.  She commanded a real presence where the judges were concerned and declared that she was after Craig!

Then we had the three finalists – Jason’s ‘Wham’ jive with Kristina – great fun and no wrong steps; Chelsee’s airline stewardess quickstep with Pasha, and Harry and Aliona’s steamy argentine tango.  Then half-time ice-creams beckoned and we texted in our votes so far.

All seven couples danced again in the same order inthe second half.  Robbie did his groin-clutching ‘Bad’ Paso – and yes he did jump up on the judges desk again! Robin and Anita did their samba (or was it a salsa?) to a Harry Belafonte number.  Mark did his wooden cha cha cha in the seethrough black shirt that got ripped off to reveal his pecs (‘They didn’t invite me back for my dancing’, he quipped).  Then came Nancy…

Artem and Robin dressed as slaves carried her in as Cleopatra recumbent on a bier cum stretcher and she Walked Like an Egyptian for a bit and brought the house down.  She is comedy gold!  Then we had the big three again.  Jason and Kristina danced a perfect Argentine tango (loved K’s red dress), then Pasha and Chelsee did their show dance, and one of the lifts went wrong which put her off a bit, poor love. This left Harry and Aliona to clean-up with their lovely quickstep.

Predictably, Harry won, but this is only the beginning of the tour.  Some of the dances are a little rusty yet, and who knows – I wonder if they do the same ones every show?   I was willing Jason to win today – Harry has had his turn.  Better luck next time Jason.

The tour goes on through February around the UK, and goes over to Dublin too.   We went last year too.  My daughter like this year’s more, I’d be hard picked to choose,  but if there is one next year, we’ll definitely be going again.

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