Unmissable: Why Strictly Come Dancing is helping me keep my nerves intact

Anthony Ogogo. Photo credit: BBC/PA Wire

Anthony Ogogo. Photo credit: BBC/PA Wire - Credit: PA

An unexpected sense of calm has descended on Furniss Towers this week.


I say unexpected because although my wife is just days away from giving birth to our first child, she’s not returned to work as a primary school teacher for the new term.

Despite all that lies ahead, everything seems at peace. Before you say it, I know that’s about to change. We’ve been harmoniously cooking up chilli and cottage pie to reheat as and when they’re needed – most likely when we’re simply too tired to cook – and hanging out all our baby clothes in anticipation of the new arrival.

And as with the start of the new term, which Mrs Furniss has long since been able to put to the very back of her mind, this time of year heralds the return of those Saturday night juggernauts.

Last week we had the launch of this year’s X Factor – which saw some of the lowest ever ratings for the show’s opener – and this week it’s time to dig out the mirrorball and welcome back Strictly.

The early signs are that despite the efforts to reinvigorate Simon’s talent search behemoth, ITV are set for a disappointing 2015 run.

The first weekend saw the usual mix of over-praised average singers, joke acts and tedious pre-recorded sequences that lack any sense of authenticity and only go to show how little the producers, and Cowell himself, credit the viewers’ intelligence.

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It seems to be the same story every year - a case of ever diminishing returns for a show in terminal decline.

So let’s hope that Strictly, no matter how much you like sequins, can save our Saturday nights – goodness knows I won’t be going out again between now and 2033 when my young offspring turns 18.

And not only is Strictly back on our screens, but this year there’s a Suffolk star in the running.

Over the coming weeks many will be going gaga over Anthony Ogogo as the London 2012 Olympic bronze-medallist and his muscles take to the dancefloor.

“I’ve faced a lot of tough opposition in the past, but I’ve never faced anyone as tough as the Strictly judges before!” the Lowestoft lad said.

“My mum is a massive fan of the show so I will be trying my hardest to make her proud.”

Unlike most sports stars who tend to sign up, Ogogo has not even reached his prime yet but is currently recuperating from an injury and decided the time was right to raise his profile.

“In my last fight I suffered a shoulder injury which required a small op,” he said on Twitter. “I am unable to box until December at the earliest...

“So this amazing opportunity has presented itself whilst I’m recovering from my shoulder operation. My choices were sulk and sit on my backside...or whilst I’m unable to box make the most of this amazing opportunity.

“Besides Floyd Mayweather did the US version of Strictly whilst training for his fight vs Hatton. He’s gone on to be an international star!”

Let’s just hope that Ogogo can out-dance Mayweather, who went out in the fourth week back in the 2007 US series.

Also on the line-up are singer and TV star Peter André, Irish singer Daniel O’Donnell, BBC weather presenter Carol Kirkwood, celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott, broadcaster Jeremy Vine, former Coronation Street star Georgia May Foote, EastEnders actress Kellie Bright and newsreader Katie Derham. Then there’s TV presenter Anita Rani, Call the Midwife’s Helen George, former Olympian Iwan Thomas, pop star Jamelia, former The Wanted singer Jay McGuiness and Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Gallacher.

Not the most star-studded line-up we’ve seen, but with Strictly’s tried and tested formula and the always entertaining double-act of Tess and Claudia, it should be well worth watching. I know I’ll be tuning in, although I may be having to press pause every now and then for the odd nappy change.