News Flash: Bruce Forsyth steps down from hosting Strictly

  • Mark Ramprakash Winner
  • Matt Dawson 2nd
  • Emma Bunton 3rd
  • Louisa Lytton 4th
  • Carol Smillie 5th
  • Claire King 6th
  • Peter Schmeichel 7th
  • Ray Fearon 8th
  • Jan Ravens 9th
  • Georgina Bouzova 10th
  • DJ Spoony 11th
  • Jimmy Tarbuck Out
  • Mica Paris 13th
  • Nicholas Owen 14th


Strictly 4

Strictly 4

Fans know they've been TV tangoed

FANS of Strictly Come Dancing waltzed into a Northampton shopping centre to see two of the show's professional stars take to the stage and offer tips.

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, who appeared on the hit BBC series last year, visited the Weston Favell Centre for the second year running, giving enthusiastic onlookers the chance to be put through their paces on the dancefloor.

The pair – partners for Louisa Lytton and Jimmy Tarbuck – signed autographs and posed for photographs with delighted fans of all ages.

Flavia told the Chronicle & Echo: "It's been going well. The first session was at 11am, which was very quiet last year because it was quite early, so we had to get people to stop. But this year, we got here at 11am and it was packed.

"They were nice people. So far, we have had a really nice reception. The show links in with Valentine's Day."

Vincent said: "We have been doing the salsa, the cha cha cha and some jive. We had a good response.

"There was a real mixture of ages, from four-year-olds to 60-year-olds. We will come back again next year."

Elaine Luck, 48, of Weston Favell, was in the audience with her family and said: "I have been looking forward to it. It's great, apart from the fact we can't see.

"I watched a lot of Strictly Come Dancing. I enjoyed all of it, especially the costumes, and it's amazing the dedication that went into it."

Melanie Vaughan, 32, of Irthlingborough, said: "I'm here with my two daughters and my niece. They havewatched every show of Strictly Come Dancing."

Fellow fan Janet Knight, of Brafield-on-the-Green, said: "I did not miss an episode, if I could help it. It's such a lovely show."

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

Louisa's dancing for joy

STRICTLY Come Dancing and former EastEnders star, Louisa Lytton, dances into her old school to celebrate its "outstanding" Ofsted report.

Louisa, who played EastEnders' downtrodden Ruby, added a touch of sparkle to the celebrations at St Peter and St Paul Primary School in Compton Street, Finsbury, on Monday.

She dropped in with Vincent Simone, her dancing partner on BBC celebrity talent show Strictly Come Dancing, to teach youngsters the Viennese Waltz.

The schoolchildren also have another reason to dance for joy. A recent Ofsted report described the school as "an outstanding school where pupils thrive in an atmosphere of high expectation and challenge".

Headteacher Daniel Keane said: "It is a successful school where every child matters in practice and where all the staff, pupils, parents and governors have contributed to its continued success.

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

Adele: Sorry Brendan...

Emmerdale star Adele Silva clearly knows how to dent a man’s ego…Just a day after the Mirror exclusively pictured her leaving lothario Brendan Cole’s house, the 26-year-old insisted there is nothing between the pair.

The 11 hours they spent together at his South London home have obviously not convinced Adele the Strictly Come Dancing favourite is the man for her.

She said last night: “Brendan is a really lovely guy but contrary to what people have said, he’s NOT my boyfriend.

“I’ve known Brendan for a little while and I’m not going to deny I’ve spent some time with him.

“But I’m very much a single girl and I’m loving being on my own right now.”

Perhaps that would explain why Kiwi Brendan, 30, looked so forlorn wearing just a towel at his window while Adele trotted out of his house.

No doubt he would have been beaming from ear to ear if the gorgeous soap star had followed up the fling by telling him they had a romantic future together.

Brendan’s spokesman had said he and Adele – slapper Kelly Windsor in the ITV show – were an item and got together a few weeks ago.

But clearly nobody told the actress that.

Adele, who split with former Blue singer Antony Costa last year, added: “I’m an independent woman and I’m nobody’s fool.”

Since breaking up with former fiancée Camilla Dallerup, Brendan has been linked with Abi Titmuss, Natasha Kaplinsky, Lady Victoria Hervey, Sophie Anderton and Martine McCutcheon.

He should look on the bright side. With that track record it shouldn’t take him too long to find someone to help repair his damaged ego.

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

The Cha-Cha Charmer

Guess who’s fallen for the cha-cha-charms of Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan Cole.Emmerdale babe Adele Silva was pictured leaving the legendary lothario’s flat yesterday morning after an overnight stay.

Lads’ mag favourite Adele – slapper Kelly Windsor in the soap – split from former Blue heart-throb Antony Costa just two months ago.

She is the latest in a long list of beauties to fall for the cheesy Kiwi dancer who failed to pull on ITV’s Love Island.

Brendan and Adele disappeared into his South London flat on Wednesday evening.

She reappeared alone 11 hours later at 9am – make-up free and dressed in a ruffle-front white cotton blouse, skinny jeans and knee-high brown boots. Wearing just a towel, Brendan peered through the curtains as Adele set off for a photo shoot.

Carrying a Louis Vuitton suitcase, designer Marc Jacobs handbag and make-up case, she had obviously made plans for the night.

Adele, 26, and long term lover Antony were due to wed later this year. But she moved out of his £1million mansion in Sawbridgeworth, Herts, when the pressure of commuting to film the Yorkshire-based soap became too much.

Since then, the petite beauty has said she’s looking for a mature man.

Adele, who boosted her boobs from 32A to 32C with an op two years ago, said: “I wouldn’t rule out going out with someone older because boys can be a bit more immature than girls.”

At 30, Brendan – last seen on BBC1 singing contest Just The Two Of Us – fits the bill. But compared to him, Adele is a virtual novice when it comes to romance.

Despite the bed-hopping reputation of her flighty Emmerdale character – currently embroiled in avenging her father’s murder – she has had only two serious lovers, Antony and Luton Town footballer Warren Feeney.

In contrast, Brendan’s roll call of conquests reads like a Who’s Who of Z-listers.

He split from former fiancée and fellow ballroom star Camilla Dallerup during the first series of Strictly Come Dancing when he was linked to his dance partner – BBC newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky.

Since then, he has been seen out with Abi Titmuss, Lady Victoria Hervey, Martine McCutcheon and dancer Jodie Binsteed.

And he reportedly had models Sophie Anderton and Leilani Dowding fighting over him at a recent party. But the ladies’ man has not had it all his own way.

His Love Island co-star – former Big Brother winner Kate Lawler – was totally turned off by his advances and branded him a sex pest.

Brendan insists: “I don’t go out on the prowl looking for women. But my eyes are open – I’m always on the pitch. I wouldn’t say I’m the best-looking guy in the world, but I’d give myself a seven to eight out of 10.

“I’m generally into tall, slim women with a little bit of class.

“And elegant and eloquent – someone who knows how to hold herself with confidence and is aware of her energy. Oh, and sexy, of course.”

Brendan’s spokesman Jon Roseman confirmed the romance with Adele.

He said last night: “Yes, they’ve been going out for a few weeks, but it’s still early days.”

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

Madeley is Strictly on for it...

Richard Madeley is itching to take part in Saturday night TV hit Strictly Come Dancing, he has revealed.But his wife and chat show co-host Judy Finnigan is likely to skip it.

Richard, 50, said: "Every year I get asked to go on Strictly Come Dancing. It is the only one I'd do."

"Nobody on the show has been a sad, ex-celeb. They're mostly people with valid careers who do it because they want to."

But Richard, who is hosting the new ITV show Fortune: Million Pound Giveaway, admitted: "I'm s*** at dancing."

He also told Heat magazine: "I've no wish to go on I'm a Celebrity or Big Brother and be controlled by a bunch of sadistic producers.

"You have no control, and I'm a bit of a control freak. Also I think, 'What's in it for me?'"

A spokesman for BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing, which has 12million viewers, yesterday did not deny Richard would be appearing, but added: "We can't discuss it yet."

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

'It was a challenge

'Strictly Come Dancing' success may make it hard for the Surrey batsman to reach the Oval by tube, but he could still keep the Test side on their toesWhen I last met up with Mark Ramprakash, in May last year, he was on the threshold, at the grand old age of 36, of his best season in an already distinguished county cricket career. In helping Surrey to promotion he scored over 2,000 runs, the first Englishman to do so since, erm, M R Ramprakash in 1995. Moreover, he struck his 2,000th run in only his 20th innings, a record. He hit a career-best 292 against Gloucestershire, topped it with 301 not out against Northamptonshire, and ended the season averaging over 100, only the sixth man ever to do so in an English summer. He won the Professional Cricketers' Association Player of the Year award by a street. And yet by the close of the year he was better known to the British public for his salsa and quickstep than his cover-drive and square cut. How odd is that?

"Very odd, very ironic," Ramprakash concedes, in the improbably prosaic surroundings, for a Strictly Come Dancing champion, of a Toby pub carvery in an outer suburb of Birmingham. He chose it for our rendezvous because he, his wife and their two daughters are staying with his parents-in-law, and it is conveniently close to their house. But the barmaid does a double take, as well she might, when she sees who it is asking her for a Diet Coke. We install ourselves at a quiet corner table.

"Last summer I could travel by Tube down to the Oval without being disturbed," Ramprakash says, "but now my life has changed big time. It will die down, but at the moment, wherever I go, I'm getting attention I've never had to deal with before. I never realised how popular that show was.

"It all came about when a guy I know rang me in late August and said did I fancy going on Strictly Come Dancing? I said, 'Look, mate, I'm really sorry but it's not my thing. If you can get me on the football show on Sky I'll happily do that'. He said, 'Well, why don't you think about it for 24 hours?' I knew my wife and nine-year-old watched it, but I somehow always had something else to do at the time it was on. I'd only ever danced at the odd nightclub before.

"So when I said I'd been asked, my nine-year-old, who's a keen dancer herself, fell about the floor laughing. But my wife said, 'Why not? Darren [Gough] had a lot of fun with it'.

"And the more I thought about it, the more it appealed. My life had been cricket for 20 years, why not try something else? I'd done the level four pro-licence coaching course, which is a lot about knowing yourself, and it emerged that I was quite an introverted, quiet character. So this would be a challenge, take me outside my comfort zone. And it was a massive, massive challenge."

How comparable were the nerves, I ask, between waiting to bat in a Test match at Lord's, and waiting for the ballroom band to strike up? "Very comparable: the butterflies, the long wait to bat, never able to relax; the big roar as a wicket falls; putting your helmet and your gloves on; this was very similar. But the difference is that I've trained for so long to play cricket. As I walk out I have certain things to remember: look to be aggressive, watch the ball closely, play straight, let a few go outside off stump.

"Dancing was such unknown territory, and with the show being live, you fear that you'll freeze or forget the routine. Also, the audience was so close, you could see their faces. In cricket they're 70 yards away."

For the benefit of those who didn't watch Ramprakash and his partner, Karen Hardy, beat Matt Dawson and his partner in the Strictly Come Dancing final shortly before Christmas, I can report that he was astoundingly good, and positively oozed sex appeal and charm.

In a way, the charm was the most surprising thing. Over 15 weeks Ramprakash worked at his dance routines with the intensity he has applied to refining his batting technique down the years, so he was always likely to get good at it. But he can be a moody, introspective fellow, so it was pleasing to see him practically enslaving choreographer Arlene Phillips, the strictest of the judges, with his dazzling smile.

It was pleasing, too, to see another cricketer win, and while Gough is not known for his twinkle-toed footwork at the crease, clearly it helped Ramprakash. "Yeah, in most dances there are times when you're up on your toes, on the balls of your feet, and it's the same when you're batting, particularly playing in England. When I started the ball moved around a lot, more than it does now, so I had to learn to be fully committed, as early as possible, to playing forward or back. That involves the balls of your feet, and good balance."

There is a further parallel, I venture, in the relationship with a partner. "Yes, when you have long batting partnerships you do get on a similar wavelength. Mike Gatting was one I felt very comfortable with at the other end, Graham Thorpe another. But you can multiply that by a thousand for dancing. I would never have won if Karen had not been my partner, and as well as being a great dancer, she's a great coach. If I go into coaching at the end of my career, I'll have learnt a lot from her, because she made it such fun."

The end of Ramprakash's career is not imminent: he has verbally agreed a new three-year contract with Surrey, which will take him beyond his 40th birthday. An England recall remains highly unlikely, although at least one respected pundit was calling for him to replace Marcus Trescothick at the start of this ill-fated Ashes campaign, describing him as "the best technician of his generation". Besides, despite an indifferent Test average of 27.32, he averages over 42 against the Aussies.

Ramprakash has not watched much of the Ashes; the demands of Strictly Come Dancing dictated early nights. "But I've seen enough, and I've been surprised. I expected a 1-1 result, but that was obviously wishful thinking. When I look at the side on the morning of the Brisbane Test I can see a lot of question marks, which is all very well with Harry hindsight, but it was clear enough that Duncan Fletcher wanted to bring the 2005 side together, and that was always going to be a dangerous game, because form is so important in cricket and several of them had hardly played any cricket for a year, while Geraint Jones' form, for one, was nowhere near where it should have been.

"I was really surprised that Fletcher publicly undermined Chris Read by saying that Jones handled pressure better. It was very unlike Fletcher to do that, I thought.

"And I'm not picking on Jones, but in his previous 11 Tests he had averaged 19 with the bat, he'd been left out against Pakistan and after that I watched quite closely and saw that he didn't score any runs for Kent. If you perform then you've got a case for going on tour, but he didn't perform, yet he was still selected for the Ashes tour and put in as No 1 keeper. Whoever's responsible for that, it's not an acceptable situation.

"There was so much confusion around the selection. With Monty Panesar all I kept hearing was what he couldn't do - he couldn't bat, he couldn't field. But what about [Stephen] Harmison, [Matthew] Hoggard, [James] Anderson? Are they better batsmen than Panesar? I don't think they are, particularly, so why were they not left out because they couldn't bat? It made no sense, because if one bowler made an impact in the summer it was him, getting out top players of spin.

"I'm not saying that we would have won if things had been different. The Aussies have done brilliantly, and they have no weak links. But an old school of thought, and not a bad one, is that match practice puts you in good shape. Anderson, [Ashley] Giles and [Sajid] Mahmood needed cricket. [Andrew] Flintoff needed cricket. And they were up against the world champions, who wanted blood. Harmison has bowled quite well in Sydney because he's match-fit at last.

"I know I suffered on the New Zealand tour in 2002, because there'd been an eight-week break after the tour of India, and seven of us went out for the Test leg of the tour, then played only two three-day warm-up games, one of which was played on a green wicket, while the other was rain-affected. I think England have come very close to coming a cropper before."

As for Flintoff's captaincy, Ramprakash thinks it has been a burden too far. "He really wanted it, and he's so inspirational, so I could see why they gave it to him. And I wouldn't want to judge his captaincy too harshly because he's been up against a fantastic side, and he's had so much to deal with, not least his own injury. But the bottom line is that the influence of Freddie in 2005 was massive, absolutely massive, and by giving him the captaincy I don't see how England could gain any more from him, but they stood to lose quite a lot."

Flintoff's opposite number, meanwhile, has done nothing but build on his illustrious reputation. I ask Ramprakash where he thinks Ricky Ponting belongs in the annals of the game?

"He's a magnificent player, he bats No 3 so he doesn't hide, he does the hard yards, and he stands out in the modern era, with [Brian] Lara and [Sachin] Tendulkar. Those three stand out. But I'm always hesitant to compare eras. When I started, Viv Richards and Greg Chappell were still playing, and there were no helmets. Also, because of the volume of cricket now, it's hard to keep your best attack fit all the time. There's always someone missing, so perhaps runs are easier to get."

That said, Ramprakash does not underestimate how hard it will be to score the 13 more first-class centuries he himself needs to accumulate a hundred hundreds, putting him on a par, whether he likes to compare eras or not, with some of history's greatest batsmen. It is true that only two of those centuries were scored in Test matches, but one was in Barbados against Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh at their most hostile, the other against Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath at the Oval in 2001. It's not beyond all credibility that, if he carries his 2006 form into 2007, he might yet get another shout, although it won't happen with Fletcher at the helm.

"People say it's up to him whether he stays or goes," says Ramprakash of Fletcher. "Well, hold on a minute, surely it's up to his employers? I don't think he's earned the right to decide for himself, I don't think that happens in the big wide world. And we've been building for four years for this year's World Cup, but where are we? I don't know the line-up, and I don't think the players do either. And before all that we've got to play one-day cricket in Australia against New Zealand as well, which isn't going to be very easy. I fear for [England in] the World Cup."

So if Fletcher goes, who would Ramprakash like to see in his place? "I'm very impressed with [national cricket academy director] Peter Moores. He's very, very thorough. They wouldn't go far wrong with him."

And does he ever entertain even the faintest dream that his own England career might not yet be over? He just smiles, although it is not the smile that dazzled Arlene Phillips, but an altogether more enigmatic one.

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

Sexy Claire to step on telly wives

Strictly Come Dancing star Claire King has waltzed into a new role - in smash series Desperate Housewives.The former Emmerdale and Bad Girls superbitch impressed producers of the US show who spotted her when they visited Britain.

Sexy Claire, 42, will appear as the secret English sister of Edie Britt, played by fellow Brit Nicolette Sheridan.

But there's no chance of a happy family reunion as the pair compete for the same men.

Blonde Claire hopes for scenes with Housewives' heart-throb Jesse Metcalfe, 28, who plays John Rowland.

An insider said: "Claire is so excited and will be playing on her strengths as a strong and sexy character.

"She'd love to get her hands on Jesse - he's a real hunk."

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

Pro-celebrity ballroom

...is 90% inspiration and 10% perspective. Perspective: not a word you often hear in and around the pro-celebrity ballroom dancing circuit. Yet it was rightly, and generously, applied by Matt Dawson in the immediate wake of his defeat by Mark Ramprakash in the final of Strictly Come Dancing. “Let’s get this in perspective,” Dawson said when the phone votes had been counted. “The real dancer,” Dawson went on, had won.Were truer words ever spoken in a programme involving Bruce Forsyth? And was justice ever more clearly done? Coming so soon after Leona’s victory over Ray in The X Factor, it seemed to confirm a new dawn for challenge television and the integrity of its electoral procedures. (In the event that the London-based diva had lost out to the baby-faced and, frankly, flat Liverpudlian, many of us had vowed to swear off televised talent contests for ever. And then what would we have done with our lives?)

Perspective. You felt it had been honoured again when Colin Jackson snatched the Strictly Come Dancing champion of champions contest on Christmas Day. True, this gala-style add-on is some way south of the grandeur and significance of the main competition. Yes, it brings together some of the top couples from the contest’s recent history in a glory-or-bust dance-off, but it has an underpowered, second-hand air about it. It’s a bit like European football’s Super Cup in this respect. You feel it ought to mean more.

Still, Jackson took the trophy. And what a trophy — a big silver star on a stick. I’d hazard a guess there is nothing like it on Jackson’s mantelpiece. Or on anyone else’s, with the possible exception of Sir Elton John’s.

For the former sprint hurdler, it was consolation for his disappointment on the big stage a year ago. Jackson — very much the Ramprakash of the previous series — had carried his flag towards light entertainment’s summit, only to see the mildly implausible figure of Darren Gough nudge him aside on the final ascent.

Of course, to a certain extent, Jackson and his partner only had themselves to blame on that occasion. And, accordingly, what a pleasure it was this Christmas to see him dance unimpeded by the puppet that played havoc with his routine last time out.

One’s head still shakes in bewilderment to reflect that Jackson and his partner, with the title all but in their grasp, chose to dance with mannequins rather than each other. The boundaries are there to be pushed, obviously, but this was an act of post-modernism too far.

Still, Jackson, Gough, Dawson, Ramprakash, Roger Black, Denise Lewis . . . you’ll spot the connection linking the contestants at the Strictly Come Dancing sharp end in the past few years of competition. It’s almost worrying, the extent to which the format leans on these people. If sport ever collapsed, what would become of pro-celebrity ballroom?

Pro-celebrity quiz shows, however, would probably survive. It’s not a big arena for the outgoing sports star, the Celebrity Mastermind selectors tending to favour instead the likes of Clare Balding, the BBC horse racing presenter. Who was utterly brilliant the other night, by the way. Her specialist subject in “the infamous black chair” was the Derby from 1970 to 2000. Winning horses, horses that didn’t win, names of trainers, lengths by which victories were achieved — you name it, Balding was on it.

She even rode hard through the general knowledge section, although it may be some time before one forgives her entirely for crediting Stevie Wonder’s immortal My Cherie Amour to Sacha Distel. All this, however, only to have victory snatched away from her by one point at the death by some bloke from Brookside. Ah, well. She’ll be back.

Christmas Day normally finds Sky Sports 1 looking about as ritzy and festive as downtown Kabul. It is never the easiest period for any channel whose backbone is live sport. Which perhaps explains the Christmas night offering of a Tribute on Ice to Michael Bolton.

I’m not making this up. At one end of an ice rink in Connecticut sat the formerly mulleted popular singer, running through his scenery-chewing versions of some luckless soul classics. And in front of him, stars of world ice dancing took it in turns to give it some triple salchow in his honour.

They went together like . . . well, like Michael Bolton and ice skating, I suppose. All I would offer, by way of a general comment, is this: if a Tribute on Ice to Michael Bolton is possible, can a Tribute on Ice to Peter Andre be far behind?

Five used Christmas to pose the festive question, David Icke: Was He Right? In other words, was the former Coventry City goalkeeper and BBC sports correspondent correct to claim, in 15 years of books and talks composed on the Isle of Wight, that politicians and royalty are an interbreeding front for evil reptilian creatures that are manipulating the world?

There was no phone vote at the end of David Icke: Was He Right? But my sense is that people would probably have gone for “no”. Perspective, you see. It’s the new rage.

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

Dancing left Emma 'exhausted'

Former Spice Girl Emma Bunton has been reportedly been left "exhausted" and "tearful" after her stint on BBC show Strictly Come Dancing.The 30-year-old blonde and her dancing partner Darren Bennett were booted off the hit show in the semi-final - at the same time that her comeback album Life In Mono clocked into the charts at No 65.

A insider told the Daily Star: "She worked really hard and put everything into these projects.

"But she didn't anticipate feeling so sad and tired. Emma in normally such a bubbly, happy person, but she's been in tears."

Friends added that the singer is keen to settle down with her long-term partner Jade Jones.

"They have bought a place together, and Emma is hoping marriage is on the cards," the source said.

Throughout her time on the show, the star clocked up an impressive 50 hours training each week and hoped her popularity on the show would spill into her musical career.

The source added: "Emma has worked so hard and thought appearing on Strictly Come Dancing would guarantee a chart hit. Sadly, it didn't happen."

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

The Christmas Special

Colin and Erin were crowned the 2006 Christmas Champions. In a special Christmas special edition of the show, the top four contestants from this year's contest took on two of the top couples from last year.

In the end Colin Jackson and Erin Boag - who narrowly missed out on the Strictly Come Dancing crown last year - were named the Christmas Champions of 2006, after the judges' scores were combined with that of the studio audience.

Here are the judges scores and clips from all the routines.

Louisa and Vincent

Craig: 9, Arlene: 9, Len: 9, Bruno: 9 = 36

Emma and Darren

Craig: 9, Arlene: 9, Len: 9, Bruno: 9 = 36

Zoe and Ian

Craig: 9, Arlene: 10, Len: 9, Bruno: 10 = 38

Mark and Karen

Craig: 9, Arlene: 9, Len: 9, Bruno: 9 = 36

Colin and Erin

Craig: 10, Arlene: 10, Len: 10, Bruno: 10 = 36

Matt and Lilia

Craig: 9, Arlene: 9, Len: 10, Bruno: 9 = 37

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

BBC triumphs in Christmas ratings battle

The Vicar of Dibley, the Richard Curtis sitcom starring comedienne Dawn French, helped the BBC dominate the Christmas ratings war with ITV for yet another year. According to industry figures 11.4 million viewers tuned in to watch the first of a two-part finale for the sitcom, which has seen Dawn French play Geraldine Granger since 1994, edging out the demise of Pauline Fowler in EastEnders.

ITV1 managed to achieve third place with its top soap Coronation Street, which was watched by 9.6 million viewers, while Emmerdale came in ninth with 7.2 million.

BBC1 took all the remaining places in the top ten programmes, however, although the 7.6 million who watched the Queen's speech were shared with ITV1.

Popular science fiction classic Doctor Who, starring David Tennant, came in fifth with 8.7 million viewers, while 7.3 million tuned in to watch Colin Jackson win the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special.

"What this shows is that family viewing is alive and well and in excellent health," BBC1 controller Peter Fincham told the Press Association news agency.

"We've had a wonderful schedule of programmes that audiences love - Doctor Who, EastEnders, The Vicar of Dibley, Strictly Come Dancing and Little Britain have proved an irresistible combination."

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

Vicar of Dibley tops Christmas TV

Dawn French's sitcom The Vicar of Dibley scored the highest ratings of any TV programme in the UK on Christmas Day, according to overnight estimates.The BBC One show was seen by 11.4m viewers, compared to 10.7m for the last episode of an East Enders double bill.

Coronation Street was third, followed by the first half of East Enders.

The BBC's Doctor Who, Little Britain Abroad and Strictly Come Dancing were next, with ITV1's main drama of the night - Doc Martin - ninth on 5.3m.

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

Christmas Special in detail

Colin and Erin won the show, beating Zoe and Ian into second but do you know what songs the couples danced to and their scores?The couples were scored like so:

Colin & Erin (40/40): Quickstep (Craig - 10, Arlene - 10, Len - 10, Bruno - 10)
Zoe & Ian (38/40): Rumba (Craig - 9, Arlene - 10, Len - 9, Bruno - 10)
Matt & Lilia (37/40): Waltz (Craig - 9, Arlene - 9, Len - 10, Bruno - 9)
Louisa & Vincent (36/40): Jive (Craig - 9, Arlene - 9, Len - 9, Bruno - 9) 
Emma and Darren (36/40): Samba (Craig - 9, Arlene - 9, Len - 9, Bruno - 9)
Mark and Karen (36/40): Salsa (Craig - 9, Arlene - 9, Len - 9, Bruno - 9)

They danced to these songs:

Louisa & Vincent: (Jive) Rockin Robin
Emma & Darren: (Samba) I’m In The Mood For Dancing
Zoe & Ian: (Rumba) Perfect Year
Mark & Karen: (Salsa) La Bamba
Colin & Erin: (Quickstep) I Get A Kick Out of You
Matt & Lilia: (Waltz) Silent Night

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

Ramprakash wins crown

Cricketer Mark Ramprakash has waltzed off with the Strictly Come Dancing crown.Ramprakash, the bookies' favourite to win the hit BBC1 show, beat former rugby star Matt Dawson to first place.

The two finalists performed five dances each, including their favourite ballroom and Latin dances of the series.

Ex-England cricketer Ramprakash, 37, chose the Tango and the Salsa with partner Karen Hardy.

Former rugby international Dawson, 34, and partner Lilia Kopylova opted for the Waltz and the Samba.

Last night was the second time a cricketer has won the show, after Darren Gough triumphed over athlete Colin Jackson in last year's final.

Ramprakash's position as the favourite was not dented despite the fact that he recently admitted to having an affair behind his wife's back.

He was signed up as a cricket professional at the age of 17 and is considered one of the most technically gifted batsmen of his generation.

Reacting to the results, Ramprakash hugged his family before thanking his dancing partner.

"From the very first day I met Karen Hardy she has given me the experience of a lifetime," he said. "It has been an absolute privilege to be on the show.

"I want to compliment all the dancers here. Anyone could have won it."

But Matt Dawson said: "There was no question, there was one winner here."

Just before the results were announced, Ramprakash's wife Van expressed her support, saying: "I'm always proud of him. It doesn't matter what he does, I'm always proud of him."

Ramprakash's most popular move of the night was an impressive overhead lift which won a double standing ovation, led by judge Len Phillips.

The other judges were equally impressed, with Bruno Tonioli calling the performance "the crowning glory of a spectacular night".

Craig Revel Horwood said: "That has to be the winning dance."

Arlene Phillips said: "I was right, the boy can dance. Most dancers can't do those lifts in 16 years, let alone 16 weeks."

Ramprakash's Salsa also went down a storm, winning him top marks from each of the four judges.

Mr Goodman told him: "Watching you do that Salsa has given me so much joy."

And the judges loved both contestants' waltzes. Craig Revel Horwood said: "The standard so far is exceptional ... both of these guys have literally come from nothing."

An enthusiastic Mr Tonioli added that their dancing was "like watching two princes on a magic roundabout".

Presenter Bruce Forsyth told the pair that, as sportsmen, they had "that inbuilt discipline and that will to win". He added: "I'm so proud to have met you."

Last night's winner was chosen by a combination of the judges' scores and viewers' votes, with a total of more than 12 million people voting.

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

'Perfect' Ramprakash claims crown

Cricketer Mark Ramprakash last night became the fourth winner of BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing after his salsa wowed the judges into giving him a perfect score.Former England rugby star Matt Dawson, partnered by Lilia Kopylova, was runner-up in the final of the celebrity dancing competition, which attracted 12 million public votes.

Ramprakash, who still plays professionally for Surrey, and his partner Karen Hardy received plaudits for all three of their dances, with the perfect 40 out of 40 awarded for their salsa.

The victorious 37-year-old said it had been a "privilege" to work on the show, which originally began with 14 couples in October.

"From the very first day I met Karen Hardy she has given me the experience of a lifetime. I want to compliment all the dancers here. Anyone could have won it tonight," Ramprakash said.

The bookies' favourite becomes the second cricketer to triumph in the show, following in Darren Gough's dance steps from last year.

Compere Bruce Forsyth said that the standard on this year's series had been "exceptional", while co-host Tess Daly said last night's spectacle was "the final to end all finals"

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

Ramptastic!

Jubliant cricket ace Mark Ramprakash last night hugged loyal wife Vandana after winning TV's Strictly Come Dancing final.The couple put on a united front as Vandana rushed up to congratulate the former England batsman.

Mark's marriage was rocked two weeks ago when he admitted a six-year affair with 27-year-old single mum Sadia Saleem.

But after beating former England rugby international Matt Dawson and his dance partner Lilia Kopylova, it was a time of sheer joy.

Mark, 37, embraced Vandana and their children Cara, nine, and Anya, four.

And the emotional star admitted: "I've had the experience of a lifetime. It's been incredible. It's all been so worth it."

Defeated rival Matt, 34, shut out his near-miss heartache to praise Mark. He said: "Let's get something in perspective. There's only one winner here."

Heart-throb Mark and dance partner Karen Hardy won the tightest final yet.

Around 12 million votes were cast, raising more than £1.5million for Children In Need.

Mark and Karen had led the judges' votes almost from the start and were five points ahead of Matt and Lilia after the first show.

Matt and Lilia danced first, waltzing to Louis Armstrong's What A Wonderful World. It beat Mark and Karen's tango to The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby.

But Mark and his partner immediately hit back with a perfect 40 for their salsa performance to Buster Poindexter's Hot Hot Hot.

Matt and Lilia could only manage a disappointing 31 with a samba to Faith by George Michael.

But the couples were tied in the third round with both performing to Jackie Wilson's Higher And Higher.

Matt and Lilia did the quickstep and Mark and Karen the samba but nothing could separate them.

For their penultimate dance - and with only the viewers' votes counting - the pairs went head-to-head, waltzing to Lou Reed's Perfect Day. And in their final chance to wow the public, the couples danced freestyle to Say A Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin.

Matt and Lilia were up first and impressed the judges with a jive. But they were outdone by Mark and Karen's jive to Lulu's Shout - a performance that did enough to sway the 12 million voters.

Arelieved Mark said he now intended to make up for lost time with his family over Christmas.

He said: "I've missed the children's plays and I've missed their Christmas carol concerts.

"I think Anya was an angel - which she is anyway - but I don't know what Cara did." He added: "We'll all be dancing around the Christmas tree.

"But this time it won't be choreographed - we'll be freestyling."

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

I sacrificed my family to win

Strictly Come Dancing finalist Mark Ramprakash last night admitted he had sacrificed everything for the show - including family life.The cricket star revealed he had not seen either of his daughters perform in their school Christmas plays.

And he confessed he wasn't even sure what roles four-year-old Anya and Cara, nine, had.

Moments before taking to the stage for the grand final of the BBC1 hit, Ramps said: "I've had to make a lot of sacrifices because this has been so time-consuming.

"I've missed the children's plays and I've missed their Christmas carol concerts.

"I think Anya was an angel - which she is anyway - but I don't know what Cara did."

But the ex-England batsmen said he would make up for lost time with wife Vandana and their children over Christmas.

Mark, 37 - who earlier this month confessed to a fling with 27-year-old single mum Sadia Saleem - said: "We're really looking forward to spending quality time together.

"We'll all be dancing around the Christmas tree. But it won't be choreographed - we'll be free-styling."

It's not the first time his family has had to play second fiddle to the Surrey ace's public life. He shunned his honeymoon in 1993 because of sporting commitments.

And once - just four days before Christmas - he flew off to join England as a reserve even though he knew he was unlikely to get a game.

But last night it all seemed worthwhile as he and rugby hero Matt Dawson performed an amazing FIVE routines in their bid for the dance crown.

Ramps said: "It's incredible.

I can't believe I've come so far."

Around 12million fans tuned in to watch the grand final.

Mark and partner Karen Hardy did a tango and salsa before World Cup winner Matt, 34, and partner Lilia Kopylova did a waltz and a samba.

Then both couples had to dance to the same piece of music chosen by the judges.

Next up was a Viennese waltz, with both couples on stage at the same time.

Finally they had to tackle a brand new show dance.

Ramps was so desperate to win that he and Karen were STILL rehearsing backstage minutes before going on air. He said: "I've put my heart and soul into this.

"I have tried not to think about winning.

"But I'd be lying if I didn't say it would mean a hell of a lot."

Meanwhile, Matt paid tribute to dance partner Lilia.

He said: "If I had a different partner my chances of getting through to the final would have been much slimmer. Lilia is a great teacher - but it's also about our interaction away from the studios.

"Lilia has made it enjoyable and has taken a huge amount of time to make it work.

"The mental approach is really important and I wasn't switched on to the fact it's dance theatre, not just dancing.

You've really got to understand each other - and if you spend a lot of time together that gets far easier."

Matt added: "I've been playing a lot of golf and spending time with friends and family.

"If I hadn't had time away from dancing, I would have gone mad."

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

Matt: Dancing is my Passion doble

Star obsessed with his steps. Strictly Come Dancing finalist Matt Dawson told last night how he has become so obsessed with practising his ballroom moves that it's left tired for romance.Former England hunk Matt, 33, who with ex-beauty queen Joanne Salley, says: "Night and day, I have my dance routines permanently pictured in my mind.

"It has become a, totally all-consuming passion. And it has left me exhausted - physically and mentally."

He added: "Rugby is too competitive for me now - it's one of the reasons I retired. But dancing has given me something totally new to throw myself into."

Since it launched in 2003, the BBC show has become a hotbed of romance for those taking part.

In the first series, newsgirl Natasha Kaplinsky waltzed off with dance partner Brendan Cole. They both denied it but split with their partners soon after the show finished.

And just two weeks ago the Sunday Mirror revealed how Matt's fellow finalist, ex-England cricketer Mark Ramprakash had been having a six-year affair with a single mum.

But Matt insists former Miss Northern Ireland Joanne is the only woman for him - alhough he does admit she will be happy when life returns to normal. Matt says: "A relationship has to be based on trust and Joanne and I have absolutely no problems with that whatsoever."

Last night 10million people watched Matt and dance partner Lilia Kopylova take on favourites Ramps and Karen Hardy in the final. Both couples did a Viennese waltz, a dance of the judges' choice, anew one and their two favourites from the series. Ramps and Karen did a tango and a salsa, while Matt and Lilia did a waltz and a samba.

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

The show that's made the world into a ballroom

Cricket star Ramprakash wins Strictly Come Dancing - a global phenomenon the BBC first ignored.It was a sporting showdown that promised intense competitive fervour and athletic fireworks as well as frilly shirts, sequined waistcoats and the odd paso doble. The final of Strictly Come Dancing on BBC1 last night saw cricketer Mark Ramprakash crowned Christmas King of the Ballroom.

The Surrey player picked one of his daughters up for a hug after the result was announced, and said it had been an 'absolute privilege' to appear on the show. After 12 weeks of competition the judges branded his final performance 'sensational.'

His opponent Matt Dawson, who used to play rugby for England, was gracious in defeat proclaiming 'there was no question who was the winner here.'

Twelve million people voted in the finale of a show that might once have been described as a peculiarly British phenomenon; camp irony has always been a feature of the national character. But Strictly is no offbeat cultural backwater; it has become a global money-making engine, climbing up the ratings in 30 countries, including Brazil, Croatia, Russia, the US and South Africa.

Smiling to herself this Christmas Eve morning is the woman who came up with the idea and who, with her late mother Melly, can claim a lot of credit for its triumph. Fenia Vardanis, a former BBC entertainment executive, has been thrilled by the rise and rise of the programme that was originally ignored by executives at the BBC.

Vardanis, now 43, used to watch Come Dancing with her mother. They both admired the sparkly dresses and the glamour and Fenia went on to take ballet lessons. From this enthusiasm came the idea for a show that last night saw batsman Ramprakash give us his tango and his salsa, while Dawson, formerly a member of the World Cup-winning England rugby team, twirled through a waltz and a samba, each beside their respective professional dance partners, Karen Hardy and Lilia Kopylova.

'I first thought of it in a BBC strategy meeting about young audiences,' Vardanis says. 'We were discussing what was not on television at that point. I suddenly said, "Dancing! Why don't we do celebrity Come Dancing?" but nobody took much notice. I wrote to a commissioning editor who was looking for a series and received a reply saying he already had plenty of ideas.'

It was a moment to go down in entertainment history along with that misguided assessment of Fred Astaire - 'Can dance a little' - and Decca Records decision to turn down The Beatles: 'Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr Epstein'.

Six weeks later Vardanis met Jane Lush, then head of BBC entertainment and now her partner in the independent television company Splash Media.

'I kept saying that we needed entertainment ideas with a capital E,' said Lush, 'It was one of those ideas where you see it all from the beginning.'

Lorraine Heggessey, the former controller of BBC1, who now runs the television production company, Talkback, said: 'I immediately loved it. I thought it was such a neat idea. It was a no-brainer.'

The key feature, she believes, is that the contestants have to put themselves on the line. 'You are interested in them because they are celebs, but their celebrity counts as nothing. I saw all the bruises and the blisters on their feet and that was what made it different. The fact they had to do it live added an element of jeopardy too.' Lush agrees that audiences warm to the contestants who 'make the biggest journey' on screen.

In America the show, which is called Dancing with the Stars, is an even bigger hit. The final to the first series drew in more than 22 million viewers, while the final of second series was watched by almost 28 million viewers. The audience share in Slovakia, Finland and Austria regularly reaches more than 60 per cent.

So how did Vardanis come up with the idea for an entertainment show of global proportions? It seems obvious now, but critics were slow to spot the potential. The Sun's influential television writer Ally Ross concluded that the first series was 'a late-night Seventies show burdened with a prime-time slot'.

Licence-payers, he decided, deserved better than a show that was 'the TV equivalent of a geography teacher hand-jiving at the school disco'. But, as Heggessey points out: 'Critics rarely get popular TV when they first see it.'

Who danced to victory?

July 2004

Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole
They beat Christopher Parker and Hanna Karttunen.
Where are they now? Kaplinsky is a co-presenter of the Six O'Clock News. Cole has just joined Just The Two Of Us, a new show of stars singing duets.

December 2004

Jill Halfpenny and Darren Bennet
They beat Denise Lewis and Ian Waite.
Where are they now? Halfpenny went on to make her debut on the West End stage in the musical Chicago in 2005.

December 2005

Darren Gough and Lilia Kopylova
They beat: Colin Jackson and Erin Boag.
Where are they now? Kopylova became a UK citizen in 2004 and is married to Darren Bennet. Gough still harbours ambitions to play in the 2007 World Cup.

Source

Leave a comment

Strictly 4

Ramprakash bowls 'em over

What is it about sportsmen and their dainty feet? Mark Ramprakash, the former England cricketer, waltzed away with the ballroom crown on BBC television's Strictly Come Dancing last night watched by more than 10m viewers.The bookmakers immediately placed odds of 7-4 that a sportsman would win the 2007 final of the sequins and swirls show.

Admittedly Ramprakash, 37, was up against another sportsman last night, Matt Dawson, 34, the former World Cup-winning England rugby star. But his win follows 14-stone Yorkshire bowler Darren Gough's victory against former Olympic hurdler Colin Jackson last year.

Among names already being touted as contestants for next year's series are Shane Warne, the retiring Australian spin bowler, and Will Carling, the former England rugby captain.

Ramprakash was the favourite to win last night. 'It's been incredible,' he said.

His good looks won over the female viewers despite revelations earlier in the series that he had been cheating on his wife. He had been nicknamed 'Mr Sex in Sequins' and one of the judges, Arlene Phillips, said of him: 'He's a beautiful man with a beautiful body.'

His dance partner, Karen Hardy from Bournemouth, is a former world Latin dancing champion. Last month one of their routines had to be stopped after their microphones became entangled.

There were no such glitches last night. Together they scored a perfect 10 from the judges for their samba, earning them a standing ovation from the studio audience, and a similar tribute from the judges for their routine to Lulu's song Shout.

More than 12m votes were cast by the public, 50% more than for last weekend's The X Factor and more than for any party in the last general election.

Rupert Adams of the bookmaker William Hill said: 'Viewers are more impressed by sports people as they have no dance training, which makes it all the more impressive that they can perform such intricate moves.'

Dawson often fared less well with the judges than Ramprakash. His attempt at the tango in an earlier programme prompted Phillips to say he had the 'sex appeal of a gnat'.

The show has been a huge hit for the BBC, which has now chalked up £20m in sales from marketing it abroad. The government credits it with doing more than almost anything else in recent years to make people get active. It has trebled the number of people dancing as a hobby.

Source

Leave a comment