Strictly 2023 contestants

Strictly 2023: Our top five contestants so far – and the scoreboard doesn’t lie

A long way to go yet though

The performances for the first show proper of Strictly Come Dancing 2023 last weekend seemed to impress fans. Or, at least, ensure they were left satisfied with their first helping of what’s on offer.

There were a few spectacular moments. But for an initial showing, the beginners started reassuringly well. Very solid. In some cases, the dancers even exceeded first week expectations – a first hurdle where it becomes apparent how many left feet each famous face possesses.

The judges’ scores at this stage are like gold stars dished out to school kids with a little bit of sellotape to attach them to their sequinned costumes. Everyone gets a little well done, a few words of encouragement, and a meaningless points tally which in no way is consistent with scoring a few weeks done the line. But that’s exactly what contestants – and viewers – need in week one.

Nigel Harman
Nigel Harman aced it (Credit: BBC iPlayer)

The Strictly calendar

The show is now such a fixture in telly viewers’ lives that the Strictly calendar is almost a sign of the changing of the seasons.

Speculation about which celebs are involved occupies us throughout the summer, before announcements are confirmed while we’re still enduring heatwaves. Excited chatter about who could be paired up with which pro, and whether Neil Jones will have a celeb partner (usually, he won’t), takes us through to the middle of September.

From there, we’re sliding towards the regular Movie week, Halloween, and Blackpool specials as the leaves fall. And before you know it, it is December. Celebs who once we couldn’t pick out in a police line up are more adored than family members, and at least one of the judges has become utterly despised for at least a few days for offering up valid criticism of how a fave points their toes.

Strictly 2023 contestants scoreboard
Hard to disagree with the scoreboard (Credit: BBC iPlayer)

Strictly 2023 contestants ranked: Week one

And so, longtime viewers have come to expect a degree of reliability, dependability, and comfort from one of the last appointment TV series out there. Last weekend’s first show provided just that.

The celebs floating around the top of the scoreboard, mooching around in the middle, and flailing slightly at the bottom were exactly as might be expected. Ranking them from first to last may be a little harsh. But ultimately they’re all paid plenty of wonga to get involved. So we doubt they’ll be crying into their bank statements.

Strictly 2023 contestants
Will Les Dennis go? (Credit: BBC iPlayer)

But at this point, in late September when nobody has been instructed to foxtrot off the dance floor, everyone’s pals. We even still pay attention to what Tess Daly says, just in case interesting words come out of her mouth.

Saying that, the range and smoothness of motion, as well as their energy, set leaders Nigel, Layton, and Ellie apart.
If you had to pick three finalists at this ludicrously early stage, it’d be had not to pick them. Amanda Abbington and Bobby Brazier received the same scores as Ellie, but she was several steps ahead of them.

Strictly 2023 contestants Angela Rippon
Go Angela! (Credit: BBC iPlayer)

Who will go first?

It’d be great to see Angela Rippon make it to that final, too. Hopefully she hasn’t had her big moment already, having demonstrated she could pick a basketballer player’s nose with her toes.

However, the competition begins now. Many fans will probably end up thinking it should be Les Dennis to go out first. But it may be Nikita and Eddie who end up in dance-off danger.

Our top five Strictly 2023 stars – ranked!

1) Ellie Leach aimed high and wowed everyone with her Jive. People will soon always refer to her as Ellie, rather than Faye from Corrie, with energy like that.

2) Layton Williams put in one of the most compelling week one performances. For those who moan it is a ‘fix’ because he has dance experience, do you think performers turn up on day one and busk it?

3) Nigel Harman clearly has the skills to be among the top contenders. But will his face be as expressive as his moves?

4) Krishnan Gury-Murthy has played down his chances on Strictly. But his dedication to dropping a few pounds proves he’s taking the daft business of Strictly very seriously. We think he could go far!

5) Les Dennis is already under pressure, and expect his age to be mentioned again and again, and probably held against him. Les, crucially, however, realises this show is probably more about entertainment than expertise. We’re rooting for him to do well! It’s always nice to see someone start off not so great and make their way through the weeks, improving each time!

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And at the bottom of the ED! scoreboard…

There’s always one celeb who ahead of taking to the dance floor bangs on about how much they love Strictly. How much they’ve always wanted to take part and it means. And then they turn up, having had several months knowing they’re on the show… and it is like they’ve done very little to prepare.

Sometimes that can take the form of not going above and beyond for the physical challenge, ahead of a few months on prime time BBC TV. It doesn’t matter if they’re beginners or not, just whether it appears whether they’re up for it… put some energy into what they’e doing, demonstrate some charisma. Unless they’re holding back for future performances, what the heck were those that lacklustre efforts from Zara McDermott and Adam Thomas all about?

Read more: Most shocking Strictly Come Dancing exits of all time revealed

Strictly Come Dancing 2023 is on BBC One this Saturday, September 30, at 6.20pm – and will return on Saturday October 7, too. It Takes Two airs on weekdays on BBC Two at 6.30pm.

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Robert Leigh
Freelance writer