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Review of Strictly Northampton 2014 at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

Celebrating its fifth year, I found myself at Strictly Northampton for the first time not really knowing what to expect. Turned out it was an entertaining (and very long) evening.

Having sat in a few theatres this year, it took some getting used to the somewhat different crowd for such an event. People were talking, coming and going, and most angst of all, playing with their phones and shock horror actually filming the stage. This was all permitted, but took some getting used to such a different crowd.

The show itself featured 16 couples made up of "locally significant" people paired up with a partner of generally a reasonable dance ability (although there were a few where it was difficult to tell the difference, hello Hayley Cole and Steve Church). Before the grown-ups took to the stage though, there was the small matter of the final of Junior Strictly that had semi-finals during the day. These school groups were better than many of the adults to come really and also provided in my cruel way one of the highlights of the night as heated argument could nearly have spill into full blows with squabbling over who was to hold the trophy (ironically the runner-up one). Congratulations however to Wooton Primary School, you were the best, and that was the only time this night the best was going to win.

However onto the grown-ups, and as expected a mixed bag were on show. The preliminary dances were in pairs doing alternately a jive and a waltz and these were thankfully well divided to save some embarrassment. They were the least exciting of the routines as the later free dances were the best for all couples. They did however provide the chance for Miss Northampton, Abbey-Anne Gyles to attempt to get the male vote with the shortest skirt of the night. It was a cracking attempt, and boggling from the fifth row, but ultimately failed in her pursuit of glory.

The free dances were where it was at and these while not always particularly well danced, all had excellent presentation and story telling behind them. There was quite an abundance of old people dressing-up and then throwing off their ailments and getting down and grooving. The best of these was the excellent routine from Victor Agboola and Belinda Quilter, where the latter kept in the old person style throughout to great comic effect. A well deserved 30 score and a travesty that they didn't make the final five, I mean six finalists.

In the absence of a UKIP representative, Conservative MP Michael Ellis and prospective Labour Sally Keeble were always going to have a chance of winning. Well until they danced that is. Nothing to write home about, but Ellis claimed a moral political victory with his routine. Who wouldn't want to see a Tory doing Hip-Hop?

However after two hours and a 20 minute interval, our solid host John Griff whittled the sixteen down to six, after a slight counting issue was resolved. As expected, the crowd text voting got their favourites through and in many cases the wrong ones. Thankfully there was no Judy Murray in the final though.

While the final, final votes were counted we were treated to two excellent performances. First from two proper dancers (sadly I am missing their names) who gave the perfect example of how it should be done. They were simply incredible and might nearly have got a nine out of Craig Revel Horwood. Also superb was dancing contestant Jordan Herbert doing his singing day job. Tackling the tricky "My Way", he dealt it with aplomb.

The eventual winner perhaps from the crowd noise going on behind me was not surprising and the added kid factor of the performance may have got more than a few more votes also. However Heather Brown and Guy Duggan were worthy winners ahead of the true winners with over £30,000 raised for the Cynthia Spencer Hospice. A hugely entertaining evening indeed.


Strictly Northampton 2014 was held on Saturday 22nd December at Royal & Derngate, Northampton and was sponsored by Aspers Casino Northampton in association with the University Of Northampton. Also supported by Outcast Hair Salon, Brand Print, Belinda King Creative Productions and Northampton Chronicle & Echo.
The charity supported for the event was Cynthia Spencer Hospice.

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