Series / Strictly Come Dancing

This entry discusses the British version of Strictly, a show known under its U.S. version as Dancing with the Stars. There are several other versions, which can go into their own entries.

Now (2017) on its fifteenth season, it's a Celebrity Talent Show in which 15 celebrities are paired up with professional dancers, the latter of whom have to teach the former how to dance. They dance each week and one couple is voted off each week via a combination of judges' scores and public voting until the the final, which is decided by audience vote alone. The final is intended to have 4 couples (3 in earlier series) but sometines there are less if someone has dropped out.

In early 2000s, the BBC hit on the idea of bringing back Come Dancing, except with celebrities. The show was designed so that dancers would be judged partly by professional judges and partly by a public vote. The show debuted in 2004. Two series aired that year; since then it has always aired in the last months of the year with a final in mid-December.

Originally hosted by Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly until the 2014 series, Brucie's role has been taken overnote  by previous Sunday show host Claudia Winkleman, the first both-female presenting duo in a British Saturday evening show.note 

Each dance is marked out of ten by the four judges who consist of:
  • Craig Revel Horwood - theatre choreographer and director; the nastiest and most brutally honest of the four judges. Strict about the rules and likes anything innovative or unusual.
  • Darcey Bussell - former prima ballerina; previously guest-judged the final stages of the 2009 series before taking over permanently in 2012.
  • Shirley Ballas - former latin ballroom dancer and currently a judge within the dancesport competition circle, considered the "Queen of Latin"; also happens to be the mother of Dancing with the Stars pro dancer Mark Ballas. Replaced Len Goodman as head judgenote  in 2017.
  • Bruno Tonioli - choreographer for TV and film; generally quite generous, flamboyant and Camp Gay (Craig is bisexual, but it's less obvious with him).

Craig and Bruno have been judges in every series of the show. Arlene Phillips was a judge until 2009, but was replaced with 2007 champion Alesha Dixon, much to the disgust of news hacks. Dixon jumped ship for Britain's Got Talent after three series, whereupon Darcey Bussell took over. Len Goodman, one of the original four judges, departed after the 2016 series, with his role of head judge being taken over by Shirley Ballas.

Some recurring types of contestant appear:
  • Late-middle-aged male TV presenter who usually goes out in the first couple of rounds. Unless we're talking about John Sergeant, who survived nine rounds due to the public vote, despite low judge markings and active statements by them that he should go, before sensationally pulling out of the 2008 contest on 19 November.
  • "Lads' mag favourite" female who does quite well.
  • Medium-fame female singer.
  • Well-known, somewhat hunky, sportsman.
  • Christmas Cake older actress.
  • Slightly larger "novelty act".
  • Actor or Actresses from a soap opera (generally EastEnders or Coronation Street). May overlap with any other categories.

The show also has an attributed 'curse of Strictly', with a string of widely-publicised breakups between celebrities and their established partners, sometimes in favour of the pro they were paired with for the show.

The winners to date are:
  • Series 1 (spring 2004): Natasha Kaplinsky, beating Christopher Parker
  • Series 2 (autumn 2004): Jill Halfpenny, beating Denise Lewis and Julian Clary
  • Series 3 (2005): Darren Gough, beating Colin Jackson and Zoe Ball
  • Series 4 (2006): Mark Ramprakash, beating Matt Dawson
  • Series 5 (2007): Alesha Dixon, beating Matt Di Angelo
  • Series 6 (2008): Tom Chambers, beating Rachel Stevens and Lisa Snowdon
  • Series 7 (2009): Chris Hollins, beating Ricky Whittle
  • Series 8 (2010): Kara Tointon, beating Matt Baker and Pamela Stephenson
  • Series 9 (2011): Harry Judd, beating Chelsee Healey and Jason Donovan
  • Series 10 (2012): Louis Smith, beating Denise van Outen and Kimberley Walsh
  • Series 11 (2013): Abbey Clancy, beating Natalie Gumede and Susanna Reid
  • Series 12 (2014): Caroline Flack, beating Frankie Bridge and Simon Webbe
  • Series 13 (2015): Jay McGuiness, beating Georgia May Foote and Kellie Bright
  • Series 14 (2016): Ore Oduba, beating Danny Mac and Louise Redknapp
  • Series 15 (2017): Joe McFadden, beating Gemma Atkinson, Alexandra Burke and Debbie McGee

This show contains examples of:

  • Always Second Best: Professional dancer Kevin Clifton has finished as runner-up four years running (the only professional to be runner-up more than once without winning, let alone four years in a row), which is almost every year he's been on the show.
    • Subverted by another pro, Pasha Kovalev, who finished as runner-up twice in his first two years and looked like he was going to go the same way when he got into the final again with Caroline Flack two years later (as they'd already been in the dance-off, which is generally a sign that you're unlikely to win), but they managed to beat the favourites and win. (Ironically, the favourite they beat was Frankie Bridge, who was dancing with Kevin.)
    • Yet another pro, AJ Pritchard, has had it even worse, as he has finished as a semifinalist on both of the years he's been on the show.
  • Ascended Extra: A lot of the professional dancers are now recognised as celebrities in their own right, and the show has capitalised on this by making a big deal of which celebrity gets which pro and pairing them up live in the studio.
    • Iveta Lukosiute first appeared as a reserve pro in Series 10, briefly covering for Aliona Vilani and Ola Jordan in a couple of weeks due to injury and family emergency. She then became a regular in Series 11.
    • During 'The Peoples Strictly', as Craig was unable to be a judge due to prior commitments, professional Anton du Beke, famous for his disagreements with the judges, took Craig's chair on the judging panel.
    • Neil Jones started out as an extra dancer and choreographer during the 2014 and 2015 series, before he and his wife Katya were officially ascended to pro status in 2016.
  • Beard of Evil: Craig has grown these in the 2014 and 2015 series for his Pantomime role as Captain Hook in Peter Pan.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three female professional dancers introduced in the 2017 series, respectively: Nadiya, Amy, and Dianne.
  • Brutal Honesty: Craig can and will tell the contestants just how bad their dancing was in both his comments and markings. The other three use the paddles for less than 5 once or twice a series at best.
  • But Not Too White: Most of the contestants have to go for a spray tan before filming to avoid glowing white under the studio lights.
  • Butt-Monkey: Anton du Beke is definitely this amongst the professional dancers; he has been on every series to date (one of only do pros to do so), has never received a 10, and never had he reached the final prior to Series 13 with Katie Derham. His stints with Ann Widdecombe and Nancy Dell'Olio have only cemented his status as this.
  • Camp Gay: Bruno and Robin. Not to mention Russell Grant in 2011 and Julian Clary in 2004. Craig too seems to have gotten more and more camp over the years, especially in the side-show "It Takes Two"
  • Catch-Phrase:
    • Sir Bruce Forsyth would often tell contestants that "you're my favourite".
    • As well as Brucie's personal phrases, usually "Nice to see you" but he's used others, Len Goodman has a particular way of pronouncing "Seven" (Seerrrvvvvveeeeen!)
    • Goodman and Forsyth did a gag where the latter asked a series of questions to which the former would answer "Seven", concluding with "What river runs through Bristol?" "Sevvvveerrrrrrnnnnn!". Next week, they had to do it again, properly, as people pointed out the Severn doesn't run through Bristol. It's the Avon...
    • Also a scoring catchphrase from Len: "It's a ten from Len", which in recent years has evolved into "From Len, the ten!"
    • In recent series, closing the show with "Keeeeep dancing!"
  • Christmas Episode: As the BBC's only really successful light-entertainment show in recent years, this rapidly became a staple of the Christmas schedules. Initially this took the format of inviting back past contestants alongside the top three from the most recent series in a standalone competition; in 2010 it was changed to feature new celebrities who didn't have time to do the full series, but in 2014 reverted to an 'All-Stars' format.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Most of the professional dancers have their own specialist field of dancing and can struggle when they have to choreograph, teach and perform in a style they're not used to. Anton Du Beke in particular is a superb ballroom dancer, but his Latin routines are notoriously poor.
    • In special cases, such as with the Salsas, Argentine Tangos, and Charlestons, the routines are choreographed by specialized choreographers. There are exceptions, though, such as Janette Manrara, who is originally a Salsa dancer, and Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, who were originally brought in as Argentine Tango specialists before being promoted to competing pros.
  • Demoted to Extra: The fate of some of the professional dancers who weren't asked to partner celebrities in the 2010 series; those who agreed were put into a "professional dance troupe". The following year the dance troupe was removed, although Ian Waite is apparently too popular to lose altogether as he still regularly appears on It Takes Two and occasionally partners celebrities in special charity or Christmas editions.
    • Since their debut in 2016, neither Neil Jones nor Chloe Hewitt have partnered a celebrity on the main show.
  • Dramatic Pause: Taken to excess at times. The Reveal of who's out in each episode takes ages.
  • Elimination Catchphrase: "It's the moment of truth."
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Visit the SCD forums and count how often the name "Ola Jordan" appears in close proximity to the phrase "girl crush".
    • Flavia Cacace also deserves a mention here.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Well duh. Most of the outfits will have some sparkles on them.
  • Fanservice: The costumes of a lot of the female dancers (particularly the professional ones) qualify, especially Lilia Kopylova and Ola Jordan, and sometimes the men as well.
    • Ola once wore a Sexy Backless Outfit black animal print number with Absolute Cleavage. It looked like it had been sprayed on.
    • Ola is married to James Jordan, another of the professionals (although he has now left the show). Does that make her Mrs Fanservice?
    • Also a Truth in Television, as outfits on the professional and even amateur ballroom and Latin circuits can be surprisingly racy.
    • Contestants tend to up this as they go along; mainly as they've lost a lot of weight during all the training.
  • Filler: Brucie can do filler like nobody's business.
    • The VT's played before each routine can count as this. While they are introduced as being about the contestant's training, they often feature the professional dancer meeting the contestant's friends and / or family, the professional visiting the contestant's work or the two hanging out somewhere.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Shirley Ballas seems to wear glasses purely for this effect. If her specs are on, her gloves are off.
  • Four Point Scale: For Len and Alesha at least (even Ann Widdecombe's salsa warranted a 4 from them). Craig and to a lesser extent Bruno avert this.
    • Arlene also averted it to a degree; so far she's the only judge other than Craig to have ever given a 1.
  • Funny Background Event: One dance in the 2015 season saw a bucket of confetti being thrown over the judges. Shortly after this, Darcey could be seen trying to pick bits of confetti out from her cleavage. Likewise when she was giving her opinion, Craig was picking the confetti out of her hair.
  • Funny Foreigner: Bruno Tonioli- he wouldn't be able to get away with half of what he says (see Getting Crap Past the Radar) if he didn't have the 'Franc from Father of the Bride (1991)' persona, and thank god he does because he's brilliant!
    • The comedy training VTs sometimes play this up with the non-English professionals, as do some of Bruce's jokes.
  • Freudian Slip: Arlene when scoring (not the happiest of phrases perhaps) Mark Ramprakash declared outright on live television 'I just want raw sex!'
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Where the judges' comments are concerned, there is no radar and they get away with saying the most outrageous things to the contestants. Also, the Wembley show in the 2011 series included performances to two songs that were, not to put too fine a point on it, about filthy sex: "Relax" and "Come On Eileen". The former had actually been heavily sanitised ("Relax" without the sexual references!) when it was used on sister show So You Think You Can Dance a few months earlier.
  • Halloween Episode: The 2010 series onwards introduced "theme nights", starting with this on the weekend closest to Halloween.
  • Happily Married: Despite the show's infamous reputation of ruining celebrity relationships, several of the pros are in happily committed marriages, as is the case with James and Ola Jordan and Neil and Katya Jones (both couples were already married when they made their respective debuts on the show) as well as Kevin and Karen Clifton (who got married before the start of the 2015 series), and Aljaz Skorjanec and Janette Manrara (who got married before the start of the 2017 series).
  • Hurricaneof Puns: Claudia has a tendency to do lot of puns related to the contestants profession when reading out the numbers for voting.
  • Important Haircut: On the 2015 series, Jay McGuiness was convinced by his partner Aliona to chop off his then shoulder-length curls in order to look more presentable. They ended up winning the season.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: Invoked by Richard Arnold after a disastrous foxtrot where he forgot half the routine: "We're going to be on the Internet forever!"
  • Invincible Hero: The dance-offnote  can lead to this because it is always obvious who will survive, even if they fall into the bottom two multiple times. Lisa Snowdon in series 6 was saved from the dance-off four times in all, including against Austin Healy (the favourite to win the series), leading to complaints from viewers that a couple the viewers didn't like were being repeatedly saved; when she finally got to the final and the dance-off was removed, she was of course eliminated straight away.
    • Louis Smith; a hunky, likable gymnast who'd won a silver medal at the London Olympics three months before the show. Everyone had called him as the Series 10 winner from the very startnote .
    • Pixie Lott looked set up to be this in Series 12, as she seemed completely unbeatable. Her low approval rating with viewers however led to her finally being booted from the show.
  • Joke Character: There will inevitably be a few celebrities each series who actively can't dance. At least one of them will probably turn into a Lethal Joke Character if they get the public vote on side, surviving over several better dancers before going out once there's nobody left they can credibly stay in ahead of.
  • Large Ham: Bruno
  • Latin Lover: Played for laughs with Vincent Simone whose dark looks and thick Italian accent and positively obscenely overactive eyebrows are undercut by a lisp and rather diminutive stature- his partners tend to either be teenagers or much older women. If anything, the trope appears to be a lot more effective with Giovanni Pernice (who is also Italian, but much taller) as well as Spanish pro Gorka Marquez.
  • Live but Delayed
    • Averted for the Saturday show, which has led to more than one embarrassing incident; Bruno used an expletive meaning "nonsense" live on air (the expression in question is usable before the watershed but strongly frowned upon in a show intended as wholesome family entertainment) amd later compared a dance to dogs' testicles. During an argument Len once called Craig a "silly sod".
    • The Sunday results show from 2007 onwards is pre-recorded on the Saturday night. This means that the elimination is leaked by members of the audience, and in the first year the non-liveness became pretty clear when one of the celebrities appeared thirty minutes after the show had gone out doing live rugby commentary. From France.
  • Long-Runner Cast Turnover: The professional lineup; as of the 2017 series, only Anton and Brendan have appeared in all fifteen series.
  • Lovely Assistant: Tess Daly.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The ultimate example would be Matt Baker's romantic Viennese Waltz to Where the Wild Roses Grow though only the first verse and chorus were used so without knowing the whole song you could be excused for not seeing it as such.
  • The Mean Brit: Something of a subversion - since SCD is a British show, it has a mean Australian instead, in the form of Craig Revel-Horwood.
    • Len Goodman occasionally has his moments as an actual Mean Brit. Being the traditionalist of the panel and a stickler for the rules, he will mark down a dance if it goes against the status quo e.g. with a routine that has too many lifts. Case in point: Kara and Artem's American smooth in 2010. The other judges gave it 9's and 10's. Len gave it a 6. Why? Because Kara and Artem weren't in hold long enough.
    • Shirley Ballas. Although her scoring is actually fairly generous, she's delivered some withering judge's comments. She's also not afraid to smack down the other judges and even had a dig at Claudia over her poor posture.
  • Market-Based Title: Dancing With the Stars, because the original long-running Come Dancing series isn't well known outside the UK.
  • Mr. Fanservice: To judge from the comments on the show's message boards, Matthew Cutler and Brian Fortuna both fill this role. There's also always at least one young, good-looking male amongst the celebrity contestants every year. Unsurprisingly, given the show's predominantly female fanbase, these guys tend to do quite well.
    • Amongst the current crop of pros, it could be said that Aljaz, Giovanni, and Gorka are the best examples. AJ's been slowly growing into the role, too.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Also present, generally the "lad's mag favourite" female contestant, plus professional dancers. Especially Ola.
  • Mrs. Robinson: Arlene Phillips who was not afraid of voicing her appreciation of certain male contestants.
  • Nice Hat: Claudia has been known to wear these, randomly, on occasion.
  • Non-Gameplay Elimination: Several contestants have had to pull out after suffering injury or bereavement. John Sergeant is the only competitor to leave of his own volition (as he feared he might end up winning the series).
  • Older Than They Look: Pros AJ Pritchard and Chloe Hewitt were both 21 when they first joined the show in 2016, but several viewers have pointed out that they look much younger.
  • One Degree of Separation: Alexandra Burke and Aston Merrygold, two of the celebrities competing on the 2017 series, were already acquaintanced with each other, as Alexandra's career took off after she won over Aston's group JLS on the 2008 series of The X Factor. As if that wasn't enough, Aston's bandmate Marvin Humes is married to The Saturdays singer Rochelle, whose own bandmate Mollie King also decided to do the show on the exact same year as Alexandra and Aston.
  • One Steve Limit: Subverted in the 2016 series, which had co-host Claudia Winkleman as well as contestant Claudia Fragapane. This was lampshaded in the launch show when Winkleman decided to do backflips around the ballroom floor when Tess made a reference to Fragapane's gymnastics abilities.
  • Only Known By Their Initials: Pro dancer AJ Pritchard (full name Alex Joseph Pritchard), at least within the show.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: This is fairly common in ballroom dancing.
  • Rule of Cool: The 2010 series changed the rules to allow props, leading to a few cases of this; Matt Baker started his Charleston on a unicycle and magician Paul Daniels began a routine by making his partner "appear" from inside a box, but the ultimate example was the opening to Russell Grant's Jive in Wembley Arena (being "fired" out of a cannon).
  • The Runner-Up Takes It All: Kara Tointon's acting career since winning series 8 has been far from poor, but runner-up Matt Baker received a bigger boost in his presenting career (his performance on the show resulted in him getting the job as host of The One Show, a role he had been passed over for before because of doubts as to how popular he was).
  • Running Gag:
    • Craig's pronounciation of certain words (like "disaaaaastaaaaar", "Ah! May! Zing!" and "Chaaa chaaaa chaaaa")
    • Anton Du Beke being Bruce's "love child".
    • Bruno and chairs
    • In season 8, Bruno's "Sccccccccott!"
    • Darcey Bussell ending sentences with "Yah".
    • "Seerrrvvvvveeeeen!"
    • Bruce's introduction of the judges, which would always end with him insulting Craig.
    • Season 10 started a joke about Len and pickled walnuts.
    • "Kevin from Grimsby"
    • Anton getting stuck with older female contestants that can't dance and the subsequent mockery of this; this said, he finally did well with Katie Derham, ending up in the final (2015).
  • Sensual Slavs: A lot of the female dancers including Kristina Rihanoff, Ola Jordan, Lilia Kopylova and Aliona Vilani hail from former Soviet bloc countries.
  • Shipper on Deck: Nearly everyone in the 2017 series for Mollie/AJ.
  • Shirtless Scene: Happens frequently. Special mention goes to the Halloween pro dance which featured no less than five of the professional male dancers (or former, in the case of Matthew Cutler, who had left the previous year) dancing topless.
    • Artem's "costume" for his paso doble with Fern Britton involved him wearing nothing from the waist up. The comments that this was an attempt to get votes may not have been entirely in jest.
  • Show Stopper: A really entertaining performance will warrant a standing ovation from the audience.
  • The Smurfette Principle: There's typically been one female judge on the panel, versus three males. It was at first Arlene Philips, then Aleisha Dixon and currently Darcey Bussell. But as of the 2014 season both presenters are now female. In fact as noted above, Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman are the first female duo to have ever presented a Saturday evening show.
    • It has recently been announced that Shirley Ballas will take Len's place as head judge from the 2017 series onwards, finally averting the trope.
  • The Snark Knight: Craig Revel Horwood
  • Stripperific: Almost all of the dresses worn by the female contestants and dancers during the Latin-American dances. Sometimes the men too.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: A few contestants, but the prize has to go to cricketer Mark Ramprakash who basically became the Mr Darcy of the ballroom much to the glee of Arlene.
  • Team Dad: Len Goodman, head judge and on the whole one of the most generous judges. He's got a bit more finicky lately probably to compensate for the loss of Arlene (who with Craig made up the 'harsh' side of the judges) but still very generous and warm towards contestants adding the human touch to technical criticisms.
  • Technician vs. Performer:
    • Quite a lot of dancers fit the trope, and the younger performers often provide a serious challenge for the technicians, as their skill increases over the course of the series, but the technicians never learn to really sell a dance. The case in point in 2009 is Chris Hollins, who started off poorly skilled but a good performer, and by the end was both skilled AND a good performer.
    • Among how the judges make their decisions, Craig tends to make more technical comments, while Bruno tends to focus on the 'feel'. The other judges tended to fall somewhere inbetween.
  • Up to Eleven: The Wembley Arena and Blackpool Tower shows tend to go for this wherever possible.
  • Vapor Wear: The support cups are attached to the dresses.

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