Series 13 of Strictly Come Dancing will begin its conquest of the Saturday night sofa slot this weekend with what can only be described as a curse hanging over the show.
Four series ago Aliona Vilani was the darling of the dancefloor, having coaxed the inner Fred Astaire from McBusted and former McFly drummer Harry Judd.
Yet since that victory the Kazakh professional has become synonymous with both Strictly’s veteran participants and with the earliest of eliminations.
Vilani, who specialises in ’10 Dance’ (the decathlon of the movement to music world), has partnered the first celebrity to go for the last two years running.
Two years ago 69-year-old former golfer Tony Jacklin was her partner in opening round ejection – last time around it was 49-year-old TV chef Greg Wallace.
In fact Aliona may well have attained an unfortunate hat-trick when Wallace copped the boot were it not for injury intervening when she was due to join forces with Johnny Ball, 75 at the time of filming, three series ago.
That steady stream of elderly and inelegant partners has brought its fair share of conspiracy theories, including from Vilani herself.
In 2013 the disgruntled dancer, a replacement for the injured Natalie Lowe, claimed she had known the creaking Jacklin would be her partner.
She then found herself in hot water with the show for re-tweeting a slew of comments castigating it for constantly allying her with such inept associates.
With Strictly 2015’s pre-recorded opening episode understood to be filmed today, the identity of Vilani’s accursed protégé will soon be known to all.
At the time of writing, bwin.com are the sole fixed-odds bookmaker offering prices on the first celebrity to be eliminated.
Aliona’s partner is sure to come in for sustained backing following the revelation of their identity.
Strictly punters are advised to keep their ears to the ground if they want to snaffle a good price about them being shown the earliest of doors
Who will be eliminated next? Jeremy Vine 7/2, Carol Kirkwood 4/1, Kelly Bright 7/1, Katie Derham 7/1, Daniel O’Donnell 7/1, Ainsley Harriott 9/1, Anthony Agogo 9/1, Anita Rani 9/1, Iwan Thomas 12/1, Jamelia 25/1, Jay McGuiness 33/1, Helen George 33/1, Kirsty Gallacher 33/1, Gerogia May Foote 40/1 and Peter Andre 100/1.
Given her recent track record, Daniel O’Donnell must earmarked as another potentially aged partner for the allegedly hexed Miss Vilani.