Strictly Come Dancing Live Wows the Crowds in Birmingham

I can honestly not think of a better way to spend a rather cold afternoon, than enjoying the endless delights of Strictly Come Dancing, performed live on it’s arena tour. For sheer glamour, fun and family entertainment, it is hard to beat, as a packed house at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena discovered yesterday.

Presented by the lovely Zoe Ball, and with a new judging panel that now included 2008 champions Camilla Dallerup and Tom Chambers (swoon and double swoon – read my previous post to find out why), the live show combines the best of the television series – the most accomplished dancers (in this case reigning champion Caroline Flack, the returning Rachel Stevens and Simon Webbe), the surprise packages (Mark Wright, Thom Evans and local favourite Alison Hammond), and those who never quite got it (poor old Scott Mills). All these elements go to make superb family fun, with memorable moments that never stop coming.


The standout dance of the afternoon was the Argentine Tango, a sensuous, mysterious dance performed by Simon Webbe and his partner Kristina Rihanoff that totally raised the roof of the Barclaycard Arena, and had the audience jumping to their feet in a spontaneous standing ovation. Also popular was Caroline’s American Smooth, performed with new partner Tristan MacManus, and Mark Wright’s two dances, which had the female members of the audience swooning.


Alison Hammond gave the show a sassy, disco edge and finally passed the fabled ‘7’ score when she was awarded a nine by the always charming Tom, whilst Rachel Stevens mesmorised with two dances that totally belied the fact she had only 6 days to learn them after stepping in for Frankie Bridge. Thom Evans showed why it was disappointing that he left the show so early – his ‘On the Town’ routine was another highpoint, and his partnership with Iveta showed real chemistry.


And then there was Scott Mills, not a dancer by any measure, but totally entertaining, particular when he made his entrance dressed as a crab. His banter with Craig Revel Horward was another entertaining strand to an afternoon full of them. (I loved it when he asked Craig if he was ever happy, and then told him to try telling his face.)

Strictly is the epitome of clean, wholesome family fun, and the live show is totally entertaining from start to finish. The finale, which included the whole ensemble and judges performing, is like a 1930s musical coming to wonderful life.  I couldn’t recommend it enough.

For information on venues and tickets, click here.


Strictly Come Dancing Live is back

The sparkles and sequins were all there, the glitter ball was back in place, and yet again, the Barclaycard Arena had put the chandeliers up. All this could only mean one thing, Strictly Come Dancing – The Live Show was back. Yesterday saw the press call for the most glamorous show around, with celebrity favourites and professional dancers giving press a sneak preview of what, once again, promises to be a fantastic show. I was lucky enough to be invited along, and to even grab a few words with Alison Hammond, Simon Webbe and new judge and former Strictly winner, Tom Chambers.

The 1.00pm press call started with the couples coming out onto the floor to pose for publicity shots for the assembled regional and national press, before stopping to chat to the press from television and radio. Thom Evans and his partner Iveta were first onto the floor, both heart-stoppingly gorgeous in full dance costumes. They were followed by Rachel Stevens and ‘Kevin from Grimsby’, Rachel of course replacing the pregnant Frankie Bridge. The celebrity count continued to rise, as Simon Webbe and Kristina Rihanoff, Mark Wright and Karen Hauer, Brummie fave Alison Hammond AND Aljaz Skornajec and Scott Mills and Joanne Clifton all took to the floor. Missing was reigning champion Caroline Flack and new partner Tristan MacManus (not sure why?).


Thom Evans


The glamorous (and very tiny) Rachel Stevens

thom and iveta

Thom and Iveta

Mark and Karen

Mark and Karen


Rachel and Kevin

I had a quick chat with Alison, who was most definitely looking forward to coming home, and admitted she hoped to lift the glitter ball at least once on ‘home soil’. She also giggled when I told her how she was my little boy’s favourite on the show, and how he had cried when she left in week 7. Alison admitted that she seemed to have lots of little fans when on the programme, and that they all seemed gutted when she was voted off. She also cast her eyes to the upcoming local Derby between West Brom and Birmingham City, backing her team, Blues, all the way.



2 Minutes with Simon Webbe

I also managed a (very) quick interview with Blue singer Simon Webbe.

FM: Simon, you have spent a lot of time in Birmingham over the past couple of months, is it a second home now?

SW: Well, I grew up in Birmingham, I moved here when I was seven from Manchester,  and lived in Bordesley, and although I don’t live here now, I still have lots of friends and family here, my daughter is still here, so it is great to spend some time here again.

FM: Are your friends and family coming to see you?

SW: Yes, it’s great they’ll be able to see me dancing ‘in the flesh’ so to speak.

FM: Does that add any pressure?

SW: (Laughs)…errrrr….YES!

FM: You started really well on Strictly, then it seemed that you might get voted out after being in the bottom 2, but then you turned into the surprise package – appearing at the top of the leader board again and again – what do you put that down to?

SW: Kristina. She always had total belief in me, from day one. You don’t realise what you are stepping into when you agree to do Strictly, the pressure and levels of work. I think, at first, I took it too seriously, you need to relax and enjoy it. Kristina had the belief in me, helped me to adapt and relax and actually enjoy it.


Shameless Selfie with Simon Webbe

Shameless Selfie with Simon Webbe

The two new judges, Tom Chambers and Camilla Dallerup were also in attendence, with Mr Nasty, the fabulous Craig Revel Horwood and new presenter Zoe Ball. All looked fabulous, with the ladies wearing stunning gowns in midnight blue.


Five Minutes with Tom Chambers

New judge Tom Chambers, who totally resembles a 1930s matinée idol, stopped to have a chat with me, and I have to admit to now having a total girl crush (think Cary Grant – just so charming!). Tom was already a favourite of mine, I watched him win in December 2008 from my hospital bed, three days after giving birth to Joe, so his win is very memorable for me in more ways than one.

FM: Tom, Strictly Come Dancing really opened a lot of doors for you.

TC: Totally, I wouldn’t have had a lot of the opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to have without Strictly. I’ve been able to play leading roles in the West End in musicals like Top Hat because of Strictly. As you can imagine, Fred Astaire’s shoes are large ones to step into, but Strictly totally opened that door for me.

FM: And Christmas saw you starring in White Christmas.

TC: Yes, it was a fantastic show and I am very proud to say that it totally broke Box Office records for the Dominion Theatre in London where we were playing. Audiences just seemed to love it.

FM: Which role were you playing in White Christmas?

TC: I was playing the Danny Kaye role which meant I had a seven minute tap routine – which is pretty incredible. I have played the Bing Crosby role in Sunderland, but it was great to recreate Danny’s role.

Fm: You came into Strictly as a bit of a novice in terms of dancing.

TC: Yes, I’d done a bit of basic dance at drama school, but hadn’t done any Latin or Ballroom, which is a little like saying you can drive a moped rather than a car. But I was always fascinated by movement and dance, particularly tap dancing, I’d copied a Fred Astaire routine by freeze framing a video and copying the steps bit by bit. Being invited onto Strictly was like winning a golden ticket from a Willie Wonka bar – a total no-brainer for me.

FM: Simon Webbe says you have no idea what you are letting yourself in for when you agree to go on Strictly – would you agree?

TC: You have no idea how much pressure there is, the fear of going out and doing intricate steps and routines that you have had only five days to perfect. You have to get the routine into the body – get it memorized in the head. It is tough, but it is also a fantastic experience.


Tom Chambers stands centre stage with Camilla Dallerup, fellow new judge and his winning partner from 2008.

There was just time for a sneak preview of what I believe may be the opening dance, before a pretty wonderful afternoon came to an end.


The Strictly Come Dancing Live shows start tonight at the Birmingham Barclaycard arena. You can find details of tickets by clicking here or here.

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Strictly Come Dancing is Back!

One of my most treasured television treats twisted, tangoed and shimmied it’s way back onto our screens last night. Strictly Come Dancing is back, and the new series already looks like being an absolute corker.

The first episode gave us the serious chemistry of Pasha and the gorgeous Caroline Flack, the swinging sixties appeal of Pixie Lott and lookalike partner Trent Whiddon, and the seriously impressive tango from Eastenders Max Branning, aka actor Jake Wood. We also had Tim Wonnacott who was adorable and hilarious, and could be this year’s John Sargeant. It was a seriously entertaining start to the new series, and with the judges on fine form too, this is the perfect lead up to Christmas.


I’m looking forward to seeing Mark Wright perform, and will certainly be cheering on Birmingham’s very own Alison Hammond, who I met a couple of years ago and just loved. Friendly, funny and sassy, she is sure to light up the screen.



I have to say that I had a serious style crush on the black Temperley London jumpsuit that the always impeccable Tess Daly wore. It was a very grown up, glamorous look. There was a lot of love for the outfit on Twitter, I was definitely not alone in thinking she looked great.


 £895.00 click to visit Temperley London

£895.00 click to visit Temperley London

Of course, as well as the television series, we also have the live shows, which are always the perfect start to the new year. This year will be the eighth of the touring show, which is always expertly directed by the acerbic, but undoubtedly hilariously Craig Revel Horward. This year the live tour begins in Birmingham, arriving at the NIA on January 16th for a three day stay, before moving onto a series of dates around the country.


I go to the live shows every year and have to say they are just so entertaining. The final line up is not yet announced, but you can expect to see the best dancers there, as well as at least one of the comedy also rans. The setting of a large auditorium, the glamour and glitter, and, of course, the chance to vote on your phones for your choice of winner, all adds up to an unforgettable experience for Strictly fans.

Tickets for STRICTLY COME DANCING THE LIVE TOUR 2015 will be on sale from 29 September 2014.

Ticket Information

16 – 18 January                Birmingham: The NIA                    0844 338 8000

(Friday 16th at 7.30pm, Saturday 17th at 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 18th at 1.30pm & 6.30pm)

20 – 21 January                Nottingham: The Capital FM Arena            0843 373 3000

(Tuesday 20th at 7.30pm, Wednesday 21st at 2.30pm & 7.30pm)

22 – 23 January                Leeds: First Direct Arena                0844 248 1585

(Thursday 22nd at 7.30pm, Friday 23rd at 7.30pm)

24 – 25 January                Manchester: Phones 4u Arena                0844 847 8000

(Saturday 24th at 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 25th at 1.30pm & 6.30pm)

27 January                Sheffield: Motorpoint Arena                0114 256 5656

(Tuesday 27th at 2.30pm & 7.30pm)

28 – 29 January                Newcastle: Metro Radio Arena                0844 493 6666

(Wednesday 28th at 7.30pm, Thursday 29th at 2:30pm & 7.30pm)

 30 January – 1 February        Glasgow: The SSE Hydro                0844 395 4000

(Friday 30th at 7.30pm, Saturday 31st at 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 1st at 1.30pm)

3 – 4 February                Liverpool: Echo Arena                    0844 8000 400

(Thursday 3rd at 7.30pm, Friday 4th at 7.30pm)

5 – 6 February                London: The SSE Arena, Wembley            0844 815 0815

(Thursday 5th at 7.30pm, Friday 6th at 7.30pm)

7 – 8 February                London: The O2                     0844 856 0202

(Saturday 7th at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, and Sunday 8th at 1.30pm and 6.30pm)

Tickets costs: £35 – £65 (bands venue dependent)

The O2 prices are £36 – £66 (Inclusive of a £1 per ticket venue facility fee)

All ticket prices are subject to a booking fee

To book tickets please contact the venue or call 0844 875 8758

For online bookings please visit or for more information please visit