The first night of a new Strictly Come Dancing season is upon us and there’s no better couple to sit down and watch the show with than James and Ola Jordan. On top of being former Strictly pros, and global dance champions themselves long before they hit the BBC screens, they’re also a lot of fun.
And as HELLO! recently revealed, the pair are excitedly expecting their first baby together – which is why Ola is sipping a glass of milk rather than a glass of champagne to toast the start of the Strictly Season 17. But with or without bubbles, the opening night of Strictly is always cause for celebration.
"Let's just say TWO of the judges were really good!!"
James and Ola will be with us for every show over the next 4 months – revealing their thoughts on the highs and the lows, the dancing and the drama. Welcome to their first Strictly Speaking column!
James: The opening night is always a fun because you need to work out who everyone is.
James: But it’s true! By the end of the show we get to know them, their characters and everything, but Strictly’s amazing in that way that you don’t necessarily need to have people in the show who are massively well known.
Ola: That is true. I was actually saying to James that Saffron Barker's got millions and millions of social media followers but I’ve never heard of her.
James: And we predict that she’s going to go very far. I think it’s a great pairing. They’ve also got that young cute thing going on. I don’t know which one’s the prettiest – her or AJ! But they are very sweet. We think they’re a good one.
Ola: Of course the whole Strictly curse thing means some people watch the opening show thinking about who might become couples.
"Strictly's become like the BBC's Love Island"
James: It’s become like the BBC’s Love Island. This isn’t Love Island, okay!
Ola: It’s a sad thing for me that some people are watching it for that reason rather than for concentrating on who is going to win. We need to remember that not every professional partner does this. It makes me sad that because one person does it, everyone thinks all professional partners sleep with their celebs but it’s not true. I never did it and you can’t tar everyone with the same brush.
James: The pros get a lot of scrutiny too, especially when they're in relationships that split up (like Neil and Katya, and Karen and Kevin).
Ola: I guess it affects your livelihood potentially, if you can’t get on with each other then one of you or both of you will get the sack so I think you have to suck it up and get on with it. But I do think it would be very hard. I don’t know if I could do it to be honest.
James: Yeah but we’ve been together for years. Kevin’s been married three times already. I mean I guess he’s not very good at it!
Ola: [Laughs] Alright, enough about love lives, let’s get on with the pairings. My favourite couple by far is Karim and Amy. He seems like a really sweet boy and from what we saw in the group dance he can dance quite well. Amy hasn’t had an amazing partner before so it’s a great chance for her to shine. She’s really such a sweet girl, she’s not loud in your face, a lot of the dancers are jumping out to be noticed but Amy’s not like that so I think it’s nice she’s got a good partner and a good chance.
"Karim and Amy are our favourite couple"
James: I actually agree with you! They’re going to go a long way in this competition. Bets on them for now.
Ola: What do you think about Kevin and Anneka because I think it’s the right decision. Kevin’s been very lucky over the years, he’s had 4 or 5 partners who have been really good so now it’s only fair that he gets one of the older contestants. It’s not fair that Anton gets them every year.
James: Anton was TV gold with his reaction though wasn’t he! It was so funny. When he said, ‘Book me in ‘til Christmas!’ - that was the line of the night for me. Anton always says just the right thing at the right time.
But with Kevin I guess we’ll see. Maybe Anneka has hidden talents, I don’t know yet until I see the first live show. But if she isn’t good, it will be nice to see how Kevin gets on with someone who is a little more challenging.
Ola: I’m so happy Neil finally got a partner! He was involved in the show even back when I was on it, choreographing, so he has waited a long time. And what people don’t realise is that he is one of the best dancers on the dancefloor.
James: Actually he is THE best. He has the highest credentials of everybody.
Ola: It’s true. People are focussed on looks and saying AJ’s cute and whatever, but Neil Jones has massive credentials.
James: In our business he’s a world-renowned dancer. In the professional dance world, away from Strictly, nobody knew why he didn’t have a partner. But finally he has and good luck to him. The public loved him and I think after what happened last year they’ve gone, ‘You know what, he deserves a chance.’ He’s going to bring something new to the show I think. Clever choreography and he’s got a good partner in Alex. People need to watch out for them.
"Neil is THE best pro"
Ola: Mike and Katya are interesting - I would not say he’s too much of a challenge – definitely not the worst partner she could have got. I think she’ll be happy. She will whip him into shape and he seems like a person who can take it.
James: I see him as a bit of a Chris Hollins if he works hard. I think he has the potential. He’ll be a bit of a slow burner but he’s got that likeability so I think people will fall for him.
Ola: We actually know a couple of the contestants ourselves.
James: Yeah – Kelvin’s in now, replacing Jamie Laing. I play golf with him! I haven’t spoken to him yet but I guess he was on some kind of short list then was busy doing his little voodoo doll thing at home and suddenly bang! He’s on the show! No, seriously, he’s an amazing person. If I get to talk to him I’ll say to lose his inhibitions because he’s quite shy. He’s really adorable but hopefully the show and his partner will bring him out of himself.
Ola: He’s lovely and he could do well. He looks good, he’s got lots of muscles, he will have a good work ethic. I’m sure Oti will get the best out of him.
"The celebrities will be the ones who are nervous"
James: I was excited about Chris Ramsay too because I know him as well and he’s a really likeable, funny guy. I’m just not sure about the pairing. He’s so fun and bubbly and Karen’s more on the harder side, so I really hope his personality can come through because he’s such a great guy.
Ola: I guess we’ll have to see when the live shows start. It’s a funny time after that first show because some of the pros will be happy and some of them will be disappointed.
James: [Laughing] Some of them will be devastated!
Ola: That’s normal, everyone wants to get the best partner and if you don’t get the best partner, it’s hard work and you’re probably not going to get very far.
James: But they get two weeks which is easily long enough. The pros won’t be stressing – if anyone’s stressing it’s the celebrities.
Ola: Or the judges! Especially if they have to dance again.
"Two of them should stick to judging!"
James: Yes that was interesting! Let’s just say that two of them were really good!
Ola: And two of them should stay behind the stage. Stick to judging. We’re not naming names!
James: On the plus side, for the celebs, it’s always nice to know the people who are sitting there judging you aren’t always necessarily qualified to do so!
James and Ola will be back on 22 September to bring you their thoughts on the first live shows. Be sure to tune back in then.