Strictly Come Dancing 2006 winner Karen gives her exclusive judgment on the hits and misses from the first week of the new series…

Who was your highlight for the first week of shows?
“The biggest highlight for me has to be Ricky Groves, coming out doing his cha cha – what I loved was his pure energy! Also, there was a great dance from Jade and Ian – considering it was the first week they did a brilliant cha cha cha. To already see them really confident and doing so well was great. Jade stole the show for me.”

From what you’ve seen so far, which couple do you think could win?
“There to stay for a while I think will be Chris Hollins. And I think Rav might be our slow burner, he’s got the male thing kicking in at the moment – so he has to get over that mentally. Once he masters it, though, I think he’s going to be great. Ali, she was just incredible, there was a great working relationship there between her and Brian. I had my money on Joe Calzaghe, I was a bit disappointed there.”

The couples who weren’t dancing in the ballroom and Latin rounds this weekend did the group mambo. Did any celebrities stand out for you in that?
“Ricky Whittle stood out immediately: he has rhythm, that guy’s body can move.”

So do you think he might be the pin-up for this series?
“I think this year there’s several pin-ups: him, Rav – they all look gorgeous when they have their tops off. And Rav with his trousers off (when they split) in rehearsals! It was a good job he had shorts on underneath! And Joe Calzaghe, his body is fantastic. The girls are all beautiful, too. This year it’s a great, great line-up.”

*Karen Hardy will be back next week to sort those with twinkle-toes from those who’ve got two left feet at whatsontv.co.uk*

Karen has just launched a state-of-the-art dance studio in the heart of Chelsea. To find out more about expert tuition for all levels, visit Karen’s website

karen studios

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