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    Posted: 12 Sep 2010 at 10:34

Strictly dance partners revealed (and after THAT race row Anton du Beke's got Ann Widdecombe)

By Lizzie Smith
Last updated at 1:14 AM on 12th September 2010

After he dragged Strictly into a damaging race row many thought Anton Du Beke wouldn't be asked back.

The dancer somehow managed to hang onto his role, but it seems BBC bosses may have had a more suitable punishment in mind.

As the celebrity partners were revealed tonight, du Beke was told he had the difficult task of turning politician Ann Widdecombe into a dancer.

She was thrilled, labelling du Beke 'my fantasy' as the judges wiped tears of laughter from their eyes - perhaps at the substantial height difference.


Punishment? After last year's race row Anton du Beke has been teamed with politician Ann Widdecombe


I'm just glad to be here: du Beke punches the air; but Widdecombe has already dubbed herself the pantomime act

Whether this is a match made in heaven remains to be seen - the 62-year-old former Conservative minister has already dubbed herself the pantomime act.

But du Beke, who has appeared in all eight series of Strictly, is unlikely to be heard complaining.

The 44-year-old was last year dubbed a 'dead man walking' by the press after telling his dance partner Laila Rouass she 'looked like a P***' after she received a spray tan for the show.


All mine: Charlotte Church's ex Gavin Henson meets his partner Katya Virshilas


EastEnders star Kara Tointon seems thrilled by Artem Chigvintsev

His 'unreserved apology' saw him narrowly survive the media storm which followed, but with Widdecome as a partner it seems the scandal hasn't been forgotten.

The unlikely pairing is not entirely unexpected. There had been wide speculation on internet forums that du Beke would be paired with a celebrity with no chance of winning.

But while unlikely to become a skilled dancer, Widdecombe is popular with the public, and could well receive votes because of her forthright personality.

Now a novelist, Widdecombe insists she is 'very ambitious' and revealed she was inspired to take to the dancefloor by the unlikely success of former journalist John Sergeant in 2008.


Enthusiastic: Not The Nine O'Clock News's Pamela Stephenson meets James Jordan


It's magic! Paul Daniels was teamed with last year's winner Ola Jordan

She said: 'I said 'no' year after year, then along came John Sergeant and I thought the one thing he demonstrated was that you really can do this programme at your own pace and not have to turn into a semi-professional which is how I had previously viewed the programme.'

But she did have some encouraging words for du Beke.

'Anton and I are very ambitious,' she revealed. 'We're not quitting, we may end up eliminated but we are not quitting.'


Bootylicious: Destiny's Child star Michelle Williams meets Brendan Cole


Coronation Street star Tina O'Brien meets her dance partner Jared Murillo

Good Life star Felicity Kendal and former EastEnders actress Kara Tointon have emerged as early favourites to carry off the reality television title.

Kendal, who impressed the other contestants with her ballet moves in rehearsals, revealed her secret weapon was the time she had spent at the venue for another reality show - Pineapple Dance Studios.


She said: 'In my 30s I used to go to the Pineapple Studios to do bar work so I've always done that kind of stuff but that is not the same as dancing.'

Tointon has already won one version of Strictly - the Sport Relief version where she danced with Mark Ramprakash - so the judges are giving her less time to train in case she gets an unfair advantage.


Mum will be proud: Goldie meets Kristina Rihanoff


Tina O'Brien - Jared Murillo

Ann Widdecombe - Anton Du Beke

Felicity Kendal - Vincent Simone

Pamela Stephenson - James Jordan

Patsy Kensit - Robin Windsor

Kara Tointon - Artem Chigvintsev

Michelle Williams - Brendan Cole

Paul Daniels - Ola Jordan

Matt Baker - Aliona Vilani

Jimi Mistry - Flavia Cacace

Goldie - Kristina Rihanoff

Gavin Henson - Katya Virshilas

Peter Shilton - Erin Boag

Scott Maslen - Natalie Lowe

The actress said: 'We are going to start a week behind so I think that makes it fair.'

Meanwhile the biggest star in Strictly might be in the audience rather than on the dancefloor after Destiny's Child star Michelle Williams admitted Beyonce Knowles could 'sneak in' to watch her.

Williams, Knowles and Kelly Rowland sold more than 50 millions records in their time together and the singer, who teams up with Brendan Cole on the hit ballroom show tonight, said she hoped her former bandmates would support her.

She said: 'I hope they get to come in and sneak in and sit up there somewhere or at least be backstage.

'I want my girls to be here, you know, we support each other and we are always on our BlackBerries chiming in and talking to each other and encouraging each other on our individual projects.'

  • The series continues with two live shows on October 1 and 2

She looks nice: Former Blue Peter presenter Matt Baker looks very pleased with his attractive redhaired partner Aliona Vilani


Nice to meet you! Brucie looks on as ex-EastEnders star Scott Maslen greets Natalie Lowe with a kiss


Goal: Former England goalie Peter Shilton meets Erin Boag

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1311147/Strictly-dance-partners-revealed-THAT-race-row-Antons-got-Ann-Widdecombe.html#ixzz0zJ35s4YY
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