By Alistair Cochrane
IT is that time again to sew on the sequins, polish the dancing shoes and put on the best smile… Strictly is back.
But it’s not just Tess Daly, Claudia Winkleman and Co returning to BBC TV for a 16th series.
For a fourth successive year, they’re tripping the light fantastic for Strictly Kershaws.
And you can join in the fun and help raise funds for the Royton Hospice by quick-stepping down to Queen Elizabeth Hall on November 2.
The popular dance competition features an all new line-up of well-known locals pairing up with professionals from Shaw dance school Madd For Dance.
Leading the way is Michelle Dickens, executive principal of Alt Academy, pairing up with professional Marco Maesto, and aiming to raise money in memory of her mother who was cared for at Dr Kershaws.
Solicitor Claire Egerton is also dancing to raise money in memory of her mother and her aunt, who passed away from cancer. Claire will be dancing the Tango with partner Jack Easton.
PC Damieon Hartley-Pickles will team up with Shannon Royal to perform a Paso Doble, and owner of popular Royton takeaway Ree Ming, Kwok Wong, will be demonstrating a Foxtrot with partner Lea Kiely.
Madd for Dance pros Amy Rogers and Abby Royal will team up with Chairman of Heyside Cricket Club Joe Warburton and Home instead manager Mick ‘twinkle toes’ Sheehan respectively.
Madd For Dance School Principal Sean Madden has been putting the pairs through their paces, making sure they will be ready for the big day.
He said: “Every week they train for an hour and a half, being coached by myself and my wife Carole on a two-on-two basis.
“They get their dances allocated then they have to learn the choreography and the music.
“They’re not just learning to dance, they’re learning to do a performance, it’s more involved than just learning to dance.”
Dancing in front of such a large audience is an unusual feat for the non-professional dancers, so preparation and commitment will be key to their success on the night.
Sean added: “They’re a bit nervous which you can understand.
“When they sign up for something like this they don’t know entirely what it involves.
“But they’ve all thrown themselves into it and by the time it comes along they should be ready to perform.”
This year’s show will be hosted by Dave Thompson, who was a judge at last year’s event.
Judges this time around include dancer Lee Marsh, and Saddleworth School dance teacher Cath Wolfenden, with others to be announced shortly.
As well as the six pairs, who each dance twice, there will be a ballroom dance demonstration and a performance by local group Fierce Dance.
Tickets for Strictly Kershaws (£40 including a two-course meal and cheese and biscuits), are now available and are expected to sell fast.
To purchase tickets, call the Hospice fundraising team on 0161 624 9984 or go to their website: www.drkh.org.uk/events