2012 was a big year for James Bond and also saw Strictly Come Dancing hit a purple patch, so it seems inevitable that a theatre show should combine both elements.
In truth, Brendan Cole’s dance show is a little lighter on Bond music than its publicity would suggest - although it does allow Cole to place a few well-aimed barbs at former celebrity partner, and Bond chanteuse, Lulu - but that’s no bad thing. This lively romp through the ballroom and Latin repertoire covers a far greater range of musical styles than one film franchise could offer.
Cole’s easy-going banter with the audience, including anecdotes about his newborn baby, suggests that he has left the truculent persona he acquired in Strictly’s first years behind - although the occasional glare offstage when pyrotechnics don’t quite work show that his passion for the best possible performance remains.
Cole is helped by the dancers he has assembled for this show - his brother Scott, Patrick Helm, Melanie Hooper and Crystal Main - all deliver superb performances. But it is Fauve Hautot who stands out, every bit the match for Cole in a range of dance styles, culminating in a beautiful English waltz.
This is the sort of show that serves the Strictly audience better than the official tour of cavernous arena spaces. It also demonstrates Cole’s increasing confidence as an all-round entertainer - even if his singing shows that his Saturday night appearances belong on BBC1 rather than that other show on ITV.