Alan Dudman successfully tipped Joe McFadden at 20/1 to win last year's Strictly, and our reality TV betting man highlights the best ante-post bets to win the 2018 series - which starts on Saturday...
"With that kind of fanbase, he could, in theory, clean up on the phone vote."
Vick Hope - [4.60]
I stumbled on an article that started with the line "You'd be forgiven for maybe not having heard of Vick." Bingo.
The 28-year-old is a Capital Radio DJ - a local radio station I haven't listened to since the heady days of Mick and Pat. The duo had little rhythm when appearing in their massive chart hit 'I Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet', and I anticipate Vick to have more moves than Mr Brown. He (Mick), wore an oversized suit jacket in that video alongside Pat and his tremendous mullet. Those really were the days.
Hope is the [4.60] favourite and will be partnered by new professional Graziano Di Prima. He got the nod in a rather bizarre new opening show format that left two other dancers without a celeb. A needless new twist introduced to SCD. What happens to those two pros? Banished to all eternity?
The odds are too short for an ante-post punt, especially as markets before the first live TV show in previous years have been hopelessly wrong on occasions. Remember Peter Andre? If you would like to bet into the Top Female market - she is priced at 13/8 on the Sportsbook. I will pass on both.
Ashley Roberts - [5.60]
It's no surprise that [1.38] for Female is the favourite in the Male Or Female market, considering the prominence of Hope and Roberts (and Dooley) against the [2.0] on offer for Male. It's also not a surprise that Ashley Roberts has managed to pop up on yet another reality TV show. Yawn.
A veteran of The Jump, I'm A Celebrity and a stint as a judge on Dancing On Ice, she has it all. I am plotting her next appearance on 'All Star Driving School'. The term 'All Star' is slightly misleading judging by the recent participants, although fellow Pussycat Doll Kimberley Wyatt has appeared or will be appearing in it. I doubt I'll be watching.
On to Ashley, who is basically a professional dancer. Someone tweeted that picking her was the equivalent of selecting Jamie Oliver for Masterchef. So does that make her odds of [5.60] to win attractive? I fear not.
She may be the best at strutting her stuff, but the best dancers often don't win. And whilst everyone has a moan that Roberts is essentially a professional, the same went for Aston Merrygold, Danny Mac, Ricky Whittle and Nathalie Gumede.
With her dancing ability she should go deep, deeper than perhaps her solo singing career. Her instantly forgettable only album to date was called the 'Butterfly Effect' and reached 159 in the UK charts.
The best tactic is to set up a lay at a short price to leave up for the series, or you can trade Roberts as a back-to-lay to reach about [2.0]. We should have more joy with that than her reaching No1 with said album.
Stacey Dooley - [9.40]
A well respected journalist who might come in very handy in using her investigative skills to find out who some of this year's contestants are. We've had a few underwhelming bookings down the years, but you'll need Dooley, Hercule Poirot and Eddie Shoestring to find out who some of the 2018 crop are.
The last journalist to win was Chris Hollins, who I can never talk about after ruining my bet in 2008.
I was mildly surprised at Dooley's price in single figures, but she's most certainly drawn an excellent partner in Kevin Clifton. The professional from Grimsby (a place I am sure he has mentioned before) has a great record in the competition with a series of near-misses down the years. He was runner-up and finished in the semi-final positions in 2016 with Louise Redknapp, 2015 (Kellie Bright), 2014 (Frankie Bridge) and 2013 (Susannah Reid).
Clifton's aim as always is to get to Blackpool, and if Stacey can get there too, she'll probably be a bit shorter to trade from her [9.60] price in the winner market.
She is 5/1 on the Sportsbook for Top Female and is not a member of 1970s pop group The Dooleys.
Danny John-Jules [10.0]
Another celebrity who has had to play down his previous experience. His dancing and choreography skills extend to appearing in Starlight Express in the West End and a Wham! music video in the 1980s - 'Take Me To Edge Of Heaven'. Which is uncanny, as his price of [10.0] is on the edge of eleven.
He isn't the first celebrity to appear in a music video in the background, though. Judge Bruno Tonioli was a dancer in Elton John's 'I'm Still Standing'. Cruise ship crooner Jane McDonald also appeared in Black Lace's 'Superman' in 1983 - shot in Casanova's nightclub in Huddersfield. McDonald has absolutely nothing to do with this series or the column, or anything else for that matter, I just like the link and the glamour.
Danny was best known for his role as 'The Cat' in Red Dwarf, so cue hundreds of feline references. At 5/2 on the Sportsbook, he is the favourite for the Top Male and will need to use up his nine lives to win. I was a bit of a fan of Red Dwarf in the Cat days alongside Norman Lovett (who played Holly).
Faye Tozer - [15.0]
From Northampton originally, Tozer is no stranger to reality TV either having tied the knot on Sky Living's Celebrity Four Weddings. An excellent programme that really should have received better reviews.
However, it's her musical career with Steps with 25 million singles and 14 million albums sold worldwide that makes her one of the stars here, although she's another contestant who has had to fight off criticism regarding previous musical theatre experience.
Indeed, appearing in Andrew Lloyd-Webber's 'Tell Me On A Sunday', the musical 'Love Shack', 'Me And My Girl', 'Over The Rainbow', 'Rhinestone Mondays' and 'In The Spotlight' should have no relation at all to dancing and performing. And that's without mentioning all of the Steps' big hits.
Faye also toured in 2012 when appearing in 'Christmas With Steps'. Sadly I missed that.
Her partner is Giovanni Pernice - who is ace at the Argentine Tango. You can back her at 8/1 with the Sportsbook to be the Top Female.
Joe Sugg - [15.0]
Maybe the bookers got confused and wanted Suggs from Madness?
I had no idea who Joe was until I viewed his YouTube page - for which he has 8.2 million subscribers. He also has over 5 million followers on Twitter. Those giddy numbers make him a real head-scratcher in terms of a bet. With that kind of fanbase, he could, in theory, clean up on the phone vote. You'll only need a fraction of that number to vote to keep him in every week - but as Sugg admits himself, Strictly is traditionally watched by an older audience and he's looking to bring the show to a younger generation.
That's the challenge, and I have often argued down the years (and learnt from painful betting experiences), it comes down to a phone vote over talent.
Talking of talent. I watched Joe performing some impressions on his channel. Mike Yarwood he isn't.
You can back him with the Sportsbook as Top Male at 4/1, but we'll have Lee Ryan in that - so it's worth having a back of Sugg purely on the potential of polling a high number of votes. He is a huge star in his world, and let's face it, we don't get too many celebrities with that kind of following on SCD.
Lauren Steadman - [21.0]
The Paralympic champion and Triathlon star has recently been in the ITU World Championships in Australia and will easily be the fittest in terms of dealing with the gruelling training regimes. She'll also have a dancing edge on some of her rivals with her own revelation that she dances salsa every week.
She's been paired with AJ Pritchard, who is fresh from a stint on Celebrity Masterchef and fresh from all those tedious 'will they or won't they?' headlines from last season's series with flat singer Mollie King.
Steadman will be the second para-athlete to appear on the show following Jonny Peacock's appearance last year - and his words following his exit were probably the most genuine and warmest ones ever heard on SCD.
She comes from Peterborough - the same town of previous Strictly winner Louis Smith.
Graeme Swann - [22.0]
Swann was a wonderful Test spinner for England who claimed 255 wickets, and he was a real joy to watch with his right arm looping deliveries and turn. Whether it will be quite as enthralling watching him dance is another matter, but cricketers have a fine history in Strictly.
Darren Gough and Mark Ramprakash were previous winners in 2005 and 2006, although Michael Vaughan and Phil Tufnell were not so good. Tufnell was another cat incidentally.
The legendary C.B Fry (Test cricketer and international footballer) probably would have been a whizz at dancing too - he was exceptional at everything he tried from Ice Skating to journalism. Swann needs to do a C.B here and excel with another skill, although I do enjoy listening to him on BBC's Test Match Special.
He partners Oti Mabuse, who might enjoy his impressions, the endless impressions. Then again, she might not. Swanny is priced at 6/1 as the Top Male with the Sportsbook.
Charles Venn - [24.0]
Not exactly a household name, not even at home, Venn qualifies through the well-worn path of Eastenders and Casualty - two of the heavyweight programmes currently aired on BBC One.
The Casualty/Holby City axis can often lead to gold; as displayed by complete unknown Joe McFadden winning the Glitterball last year. I hadn't heard of Tom Chambers either, and he was a winner too, so the Holby/Casualty theme really is the nub of the matter. Or rem acu tetigisti.
Venn has also appeared in 'Footballers' Wives' and has 59K followers on Twitter. He might be short on numbers compared to Joe Sugg, but I reckon he's a better impressionist. Swann certainly is.
The actor is a price that can be traded at [24.0] considering the hospital drama link. Maybe some sort of diagram is in order to outline his chances. A venn one would be handy.
Lee Ryan - [24.0]
Poor old Lee has been lumbered with the tabloid obsession of 'Strictly curse' headlines before he has even set foot on the dancefloor with Nadiya Bychkova. But away from all that nonsense, he is probably the bet for Top Male at 6/1 on the Sportsbook.
Fellow Blue bandmate Duncan recently said in an interview that Lee wasn't even the best dancer in the band, which reminds me of the great quote concerning Ringo Starr - who was once described as not being the greatest drummer in the world. I enjoyed the quip in reply, that said: "He wasn't even the best drummer in the Beatles."
The best dancer in Blue was Simon Webbe - who got to the Strictly final in 2016. He had an outside shot at winning that too. Webbe was good.
Back to Ryan, whom a source said: "Lee will make great TV as he's naturally charismatic and funny." Which makes you wonder with his fun and cheery outlook, what an earth he is doing on Eastenders?
Kate Silverton - [46.0]
The 48-year-old was announced as the tenth celebrity for this year's series, and I suspect the bosses have tried to get her on a few times previously. The BBC newsreader is looking to follow on the footsteps of fellow newsreader Natasha Kaplinksy - who landed the Glitterball back in 1934. Brendan Cole danced then, and it's a real shame Cole is no longer on the series. He'll be much missed by the viewers.
Kate will be partnered by Aljaz Skorjanek and is probably a little over-priced. Remember, Debbie McGee was chalked-up at a massive [70.0] plus for last year's series, and she was the real surprise of the whole show. That's the essence of Strictly, and the essence of finding the big trade. The person with no dance experience who can surprise.
I should temper that with her price of [3.75] in the First Elimination Market.
Seann Walsh - [80.0]
At massive odds to triumph and 20/1 in the Top Male market, I reckon Bradley Walsh has got more chance of winning - and he isn't even in it. Perhaps there was a slip-up in the booking process here? Get a comedian, get a Walsh - you know the man.
He's best known for his work in 'Bad Move' (no, me neither).
The only plus is that he's drawn Katya Jones as a pro partner - but he's dropped her in training already. A comedian has never won Strictly, and won't be winning this year. Last year's funnyman Brian Connelly was an absolute disaster.
Katie Piper - [22.0]
The 34-year-old TV presenter has a big chance of out-dancing her odds of [22.0] and she has a tremendous partner in Gorka Marquez - who I once saw in Euston station.
Piper is learning the ropes to the dancing game and has already praised Gorka for having the patience of a saint. He reached the semi-finals with Alexandra Burke last year, and whilst I am not convinced Katie can go all the way to the semis, I think she'll do pretty well and could easily pass through the first few weeks.
She is 12/1 on the Sportsbook for Top Female.
Ranj Singh - [60.0]
We've had a Reverend (Coles), a lawyer (Rinder), a baker (Rimmer) and now a doctor. It's shaping up into quite some game of Cluedo. Perhaps a new show? All-star celebrity Cluedo?
In fact, doctors and medics have enjoyed plenty of success down the years (as did Dr and the Medics) with Holby's cardio registrar Tom Chambers and Casualty medic Joe McFadden both winning the Glitterball.
Ranj has admitted he was a last-minute addition to the show and might be behind the other contestants in terms of training and routines. He'll be partnered by Janette Manrara - who was very hard done by last term with the early exit of Aston Merrygold. I fear it could be another early departure for her.
Susannah Constantine - [280.0]
I don't need Stacey Dooley to investigate Susannah's chances here judging by her price.
She's also drawn the short straw with Anton du Beke.
The fashion guru is already at [1.30] for the Lowest Score in Week 1, and also trades at [2.22] for First Elimination. However, her partnering du Beke means that she will be this season's funny person - although the competition for that moniker in recent shows has not exactly been fierce.
The comedy factor means she'll stumble her way through until about week 7 - when everyone will have had enough. However, we can lay her price at around [2.22] for Elimination in the first week, and that tactic could pay off.
Incidentally, her list of credits includes an appearance in Dr Who as a voice. Did I mention I played cricket against someone who played a Dalek in the series? Or was it the Master?