Review: Kevin and Karen Dance into town at the Ipswich Regent

Strictly Come Dancing stars Karen and Kevin Clifton. Picture: RICHARD HAUGHTON

Strictly Come Dancing stars Karen and Kevin Clifton. Picture: RICHARD HAUGHTON - Credit: Richard Haughton

The love for the supremely talented duo could be felt all around Ipswich’s Regent theatre as they brought their Kevin & Karen Dance 2017 tour to town, says Sophie Furniss.

Strictly Come Dancing stars Karen and Kevin Clifton. Picture: CHRISTOPHER MANN

Strictly Come Dancing stars Karen and Kevin Clifton. Picture: CHRISTOPHER MANN - Credit: Archant

To the casual Strictly Come Dancing fan, it may seem like the celebrities are the stars of the BBC1 Saturday night extravaganza.

However to aficionados in the know - those who really love the show - it’s the professional partners who really make the whole thing worth watching.

Whether it’s uppity Aussie Brendan Cole or Ipswich’s own Robin Windsor, the pros have always had big followings.

But in recent years, thanks to a combination of a true love story and some genuinely breathtaking routines, Kevin and Karen Clifton have emerged as the couple increasingly at the heart of the series.

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Grimsby lad Kevin and Venezuelan vixen Karen, who married in 2015, have firmly replaced Ola and James Jordan as the most high-profile power couple.

Karen’s partners have been a mixed bag - Nicky Byrne was good, less can be said about Jeremy Vine, drop-out Will Young and Hairy Biker Dave Clifton - meaning the highest placing she’s achieved is 4th with Mark Wright a few years back.

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Kevin, on the other hand, has come second in each of his four seasons, with partners Susannah Reid, Kelly Bright, Frankie Bridge and Louise Redknapp. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride for Kevin. Maybe this year his luck will change?

For certain, it’s not through a lack of public support.

Last night, there was a mix of audience participation, stunning turns from the headline duo - with or without their backing troupe - and a smattering of onstage banter.

One energetic tango saw the couple get so feisty with one another that Kevin even took a bit of a battering from his fearsome wife.

And it wasn’t just Kevin and Karen taking to the stage. Ipswich hearts fluttered as fellow Strictly pro Gorka Marquez showed off his moves - and his six-pack.

And fans will remember how perennial runner-up Kevin was again gazumped in the most recent Strictly final, relegated to second place by younger sister Joanne, who picked up the trophy with her parter Ore Oduba.

Well, Joanne was in the audience last night and took to the stage with members of the crowd to help judge a special Ipswich Glitterball competition.

However, the real stars of the show were young Gracie and eight-year-old Sam, who triumphed in the challenge with their impressive disco skills.

Supremely talented and as engaging a pair on stage as they are on screen, Kevin and Karen look set for stardom long after they leave their Strictly days behind them.

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