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Strictly in retrospect: Origins of BBC’s best-loved show and how 2020 series can learn a lot from the early days

It’s Could 2004 – Tony Blair is prime minister, the Summer time Olympics are simply round the nook, Shrek 2 has simply landed in cinemas and the likes of McFly, Britney Spears and Busted are dominating the charts.

A model new TV format arrives on BBC One in which celebrities should learn a series of ballroom routines and carry out them, stay on air, alongside their designated skilled dancer – it’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Sixteen years on, the long-running dance competitors remains to be going robust, with its viewership nearly doubling since series one graced our screens – a mean of 10.36 million individuals tuned in to observe final 12 months’s series which noticed Emmerdale’s Kelvin Fletcher and fan-favourite professional Oti Mabuse take house the Glitterball trophy.

With series 18 quick approaching, I made a decision to cha-cha-cha again to the show’s beginnings and revisit Strictly’s very first episode, in which newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky (the eventual winner), Eastenders’ Christopher Parker, soprano Lesley Garrett, rugby professional Martin Offiah, Brookside’s Claire Sweeney, Holby Metropolis’s Verona Joseph, Cut price Hunt’s David Dickinson and comic Jason Wooden grew to become the show’s sequin-wearing, paso doble-dancing guinea pigs.

The episode opens with the digital camera panning down the line-up of visibly nervous celebs as they pose subsequent to their seasoned companions. With solely eight massive names collaborating in series one, it feels rather more intimate in comparison with latest years (15 {couples} competed final 12 months), nevertheless the ballroom vogue clearly hasn’t modified since the early noughties – the girls’ shimmering attire seem like 80 per cent glitter, whereas David Dickinson is seen sporting a bejewelled see-through shirt with an extremely deep V-neck.

Not solely was the well-known line-up visibly smaller in Strictly’s first series, however so was the stage, viewers and vary of dances on supply. In the very first episode, the celebs had to decide on both the Waltz or the Cha Cha Cha as their debut efficiency while all through the series, they’d solely get to check out the Rumba, Quickstep, Tango, Jive, Foxtrot, Paso Doble, Samba and the Showdance (in the event that they made all of it the solution to the remaining).

In newer years, contestants have been tasked with studying a a lot wider selection of dances, with the Argentine Tango, the Charleston, the American Clean and the Viennese Waltz being launched in a while in the show’s historical past, whereas Up to date, Road and Jazz classes had been added to the roster in 2018.

Strictly Come Dancing series one's final two – Natasha Kaplinsky and Christopher Parker

Strictly Come Dancing series one’s remaining two – Natasha Kaplinsky and Christopher Parker

The primary episode additionally highlighted Strictly’s excessive turnover of professionals, judges and even hosts all through the years. 55 skilled dancers have taken to the Strictly stage over the final 17 series, with the solely remaining dancer from its first season being, of course, Anton du Beke, whose first phrases on-screen sarcastically had been: “The rationale I need to half on the show is as a result of I need to win it.” Perhaps this 12 months will lastly be your 12 months, Anton!

The judging panel consisted of long-running specialists Craig Revel Horwood (whose first ever critique was classically detrimental, telling Natasha Kaplinsky he thought she was “uninteresting, uninteresting, uninteresting”) and Bruno Tonioli, who’ll sadly be absent from this 12 months’s judging line-up. They had been joined by queen of tough-love Arlene Phillips, who left the show in 2008, and Len Goodman, the ying to Revel Horwood’s yang who departed in 2016.

Over the years, varied judges have picked up the paddle boards, together with series eight winner Alesha Dixon, ballet extraordinaire Darcey Bussell, visitor judges Jennifer Gray, Donny Osmond and Alfonso Ribeiro in addition to present judges, Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse.

Nevertheless, one of the show’s key gamers from the very starting, whose absence remains to be sorely felt to this present day, is Bruce Forsyth – Strictly’s co-host from 2004 till 2013. The late comic and presenter’s quick-witted repartee with the judges, charming conversations with contestants (“You’re my favorite”) and much-loved catchphrases (“Good to see you, to see you good”) had been clearly embedded inside the material of the show from day one, and re-watching Strictly’s first episode is a nice reminder of how Forsyth’s charisma and vitality established the series as a feel-good household favorite in the nation’s eyes.

Strictly presenter Bruce Forsyth

Strictly presenter Bruce Forsyth

While evaluating Strictly’s first episode to the most up-to-date series, it grew to become clear how far the show has come since 2004, nevertheless with the upcoming series making varied manufacturing adjustments attributable to COVID-19, it’s potential that series 18 may look a lot like series one.

This 12 months’s Strictly Come Dancing line-up, which options the likes of Caroline Quentin, Nicola Adams and Invoice Bailey, has been decreased to only 12 celebs for a shorter run, not dissimilar to the first season’s eight-week length, whereas it’s potential that Dave Arch and his orchestra could also be absent for the 2020 series (Arch didn’t be part of Strictly till 2006 – till then pianist Laurie Holloway led the stay band).

This 12 months’s contestants may even be performing to a “decreased viewers” in mild of the pandemic, a sight which may mirror the sparse quantity of studio spectators seen cheering from the sidelines throughout series one.

With Strictly giving its followers a stripped again model of the competitors, there’s a lot that can be learnt from revisiting the show’s very first series – going again to fundamentals received’t hinder the show in any means. Series one was very profitable and regardless of the restricted quantity of contestants, dances and viewers members, it nonetheless drew in tens of millions of viewers and embodied the spirit of the campy, glitter-filled, entertaining hour of family-fun that’s the Strictly we all know and love.

Strictly Come Dancing will return to BBC One later this 12 months. Should you’re on the lookout for extra to observe, take a look at our TV Information.

About the author

Mr josh

Mr. Josh is an experienced freelance journalist. He has worked as a journalist for a few online print-based magazines for around 3 years. He brings together substantial news bulletins from the field of Technology and US. He joined the team for taking the website to the heights.

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