It's round one of Strictly this Saturday, and Alan Dudman is on hand to preview the first set of dances, and also looks to some new markets for the 2017 series...
"An easier option would have been the ballroom, but poor Chizzy has been given the Latin - which is never easy for a first routine."
After the two week hiatus, the live Strictly shows begin this Saturday. The Beeb have ditched the usual two day format for the 15 celebrities, and will now cram them all in to a two hour and 20 minutes extravaganza. At least it's better than watching two hours of Eastenders. Oh the joy. Imagine watching that for 120 minutes.
How will Saturday work? Well, hopefully more uplifting than events in Walford.
Be aware there are no eliminations for the first week (although the masochist in me would love it), so betting opportunities rely on an early look to the 1st Elimination market - and also the new Head To Head markets on the Exchange. More on those later.
The scores from this weekend are carried over to the following Saturday, so we can have a closer look at those nearer the time.
Liquidity was very light at the time of writing, so expect plenty more action in-play once the series kicks off. These early exchanges will be all about jostling for position and getting a decent trade set-up on one or two of the big prices.
TV 'funny man' Brian Conley (not my words, a tabloid's), was trading at [3.0] with £30 to take on Thursday evening, and he's the only celebrity with the Tango to tackle. His dance partner is one of three new faces to the show and they'll dance to Heaven 17's Temptation. I've already stated in the preview that Conley will be fine with anything ballroom-y (is that a word?), so this potentially is a low-scorer with a tricky Latin routine.
However, down to the public vote, I wouldn't touch that [3.0], as he'll have plenty of fans I am sure who watched the great 'Brian Conley TV Show'. Now that was funny.
Charlotte Hawkins was [4.90], but this could change rapidly. She's admitted she cannot stop laughing during rehearsals - but that'll teach her for watching re-runs of Conley's TV show. She has Brendan Cole to help, and they start with a Foxtrot. This is a relatively easy routine, and she'll be dragged around by Cole by doing very little, and she doesn't have to lead.
She's a similar price to TV chef Simon Rimmer, who faces the toughest dance of all in the Paso Doble, and at around [5.50] for the chop, he warrants plenty of interest - unlike the The Sunday Brunch. Mind you, he should be good at chopping.
The bet that most appeals is going for the back of [7.20] on Chizzy Akudulo. In terms of searching for Strictly news and gossip with a few clips thrown in, I was inundated with Mollie King stuff and not a mention of the Holby star. An easier option would have been the ballroom, but poor Chizzy has been given the Latin - which is never easy for a first routine.
She is the bet.
Bravo for those that came up with these new markets, but again, we'll have no real handle on these until the series gets underway. Liquidity at the time of writing is waiting to warm up, but there's nothing wrong with taking on early position and being a market maker yourself.
The match-ups here are: King v Burke, Coles v Rimmer, Peacock v Ghadami and Langsford v Akudulo.
Mollie King against Alexandra Burke is the big draw here, and it will be fascinating to see how the market sways with this. The Saturdays singer is 7/2 on the Sportsbook to win, whilst her rival is 4/1. It's a market we'll leave alone for now until we see a few dances.
Attempting a tissue price for this is not easy, but I would certainly have the Rev Richard Coles to beat Rimmer in a head-to-head. Coles is this year's funster, and he's already given a glimpse of what's to come on the launch show. You'll do well to turn the chef into a funster, and I cannot see Rimmer lasting to Blackpool - but I can see the Colester getting there - and he starts on Saturday with a Eurythmics song.
I was going to call this the H to H bet, and had fond memories of ITV's brilliant 80s thriller Hart To Hart and the dog Freeway. Freeway might stand a better chance to win this than Rimmer.
My other recommendation here is to side with Ruth Langsford against Chizzy. The former has been paired with Anton Du Beke, and they'll be starting with a Waltz - which happens to be Du Beke's signature dance. We can get a good start with this bet over Chizzy's Latin - and a price of around [1.80] might be generous.
I'm pleased with my ante-post pick of Joe McFadden and his first dance on Saturday. He's got the Jive, and this was the routine Ore Oduba virtually sealed the Glitterball last year with a 39 point corker. The Jive could be outdoing the Charleston as the go-to dance for the series. The Holby superstar (and let's face it, they don't come much bigger than McFadden) has a brilliant song choice too with Rockin' Robin.
Mollie also has a Jive with AJ Pritchard, and Mollie is certainly in the news this week. Doing nothing.
Aston Merrygold's first dance will hopefully be better than Peter Andre's and Joe Calzaghe in the past - as he is one of the favourites, and the pressure is on. The singer has a Foxtrot, so we'll know a lot more about his credentials away from anything contemporary by starting with a classical ballroom - and he has to lead. The JLS man has a great first song with Harry Connick Jnr's 'It Had To Be You.'
I've heard of Connick Jnr, unlike Lloyd ft Andre 3000 - a song which Davood will be strutting a Cha Cha too.
Recommended Ante Post Bets for Strictly 2017