Nothing, but nothing, now more clearly marks my official start of autumn and the Christmas countdown, than Strictly Come Dancing returning to the BBC. I’m a relative newbie to Strictly, truth be told. I’d catch glimpses of early series, snatch snippets of water-cooler chat, glance at tabloid headlines; but, other than watching Mark Ramprakash and Darren Gough dance on YouTube (‘cos it’s a cricket thing, OK?), that was that. However, that started to change in the year of ‘Rachel wuz robbed!’ – 2008. I hadn’t watched the early stages in the competition, but became gripped by it when visiting a friend’s house (it’s all Mo’s fault) in time for the final where ‘Rachel wuz robbed!’. I, like so many others, hid behind a cushion while Lisa Snowdon had her bacofoil moment – wonderful in its awfulness – and then shouted at the TV when ‘Rachel wuz robbed!’. The following year, I promised myself I would stay away from Strictly and not give a whatever about any of the contestants and not be drawn in to those deadly water-cooler chats at work. It worked, but only for a year. 2010 and I was back and how. Dunno why, but I watched right from the very beginning and was hooked. I backed Kara Tointon all the way and was riveted as she won the title and got her man, despite an abysmal show-off dance (showdances are usually crap, in my limited experience) and a damaged arm (made worse by being caused by rubbish show-off dance). I cheered even harder for not liking the two runners-up (as they happily became) and for being marooned in an apartment surrounded by snow and ice with both my arm and tooth badly broken. Luckily, I’d ordered in provisions before the grocery delivery lorries slid to a halt on the A12 and so was able to wash down my painkillers and antibiotics with champagne. This last might go some way to explaining my tearful, borderline hysterical, reaction to putting money on the winning dancer. By the following year’s competition, my arm and tooth had been fixed and I’d calmed down (well, was back on a solid diet). I supported Chelsee and Pasha, but not fanatically (tho’ they wuz robbed) and motored along through the various stages of the competition in the company of the digital spy Strictly forumites. They are, for the most part, a great crowd. I like to have the laptop up and running for their comments as the dances take place. One of their number is (The Mighty Mighty) Monkseal, whose wordpress blog is essential reading for Strictly fans. Gets me laughing out loud every week. I was back on winning form in 2012 (though admittedly it was a pretty easy call)and so very happy for Louis Smith and Flavia Cacace to win (she was my favourite female professional until she sadly left *sobs*). This year, the year of ‘The Winner Must Be A Girlie!’, I’ve got my eye on several and my money on no-one (yet). I enjoy watching Natalie, Sophie, Abbey, and Ashley and their partners dance and Ben ‘cos he’s Ben and he’s with Kristina (who’s simply gorgeous in her gorgeousness – as long as she doesn’t choreograph any more bad sex/ S & M tangos. Jason, I mean you. You made me feel very, very ill and I have never forgiven you). I’m happy with the line-up on the judging panel, but would like to see Tess and Claudia as the presenters for the whole of this series (bye-bye Sir Bruce, pretty please) until they can get Graham Norton as a presenter. So there and that’s that. I’m all ready for tonight, with good food, good wine, and the digital spy forum up and running…Keep dancing!