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Formation Teams &
The Early Days of ‘Strictly’

Memories of the Starline Formation Team


“It was Chris who was the dancer when we met nearly 40 years ago. Dancing had been in his family - his grandmother was an ‘Old Time’ or ‘Sequence’ dancer and teacher! His mum and dad danced at ‘the work’s do’ - formal dances at Christmas time, which were very much the norm back then. So it was that Chris began to take an interest in dancing too. But it was not through dancing that we met. Gradually I was...  introduced to the dancing scene and we realised it was something that we both really enjoyed.  


When we got married, life became very busy. I was a newly qualified teacher and Chris had night school, so dancing began to take a back seat……. until one day we decided that we should take it up again.


Little did we think when we returned to dancing, that someone would consider us good enough to join a formation team! That was about 30 years ago and the name of the team – ‘The Starline Formation Team’ – trained by Max and Gwynne Bishop. We were then in our late twenties, but others in the team were much younger. Three times a week we would practise. Looking back, we don’t know how we found the time!


First came the black dresses for the girls, bought from a High Street store, while the guys wore white shirts, black trousers and a black bow tie. These became the practice outfits until the white dresses with layers of tulle were made by Gwynne herself. Later on came the black motifs on the dresses and sequins ……. stuck on with Bostik! There was also a trip to London so that the men could be measured for tail suits.


Being in the team meant travelling long distances sometimes – on one such occasion we visited Holland for a weekend! And of course there were various venues in which we danced, The Royal Albert Hall being just one memorable place. Then there were the other teams we competed against and inevitably the ‘dance off’ against Peggy Spencer’s Latin Formation Team, a force to be reckoned with at that time.


Our claim to fame was appearing three times on the original

‘Come Dancing’ TV show, hosted by Peter Marshall at that time. We were the formation team representing Midlands and West that came away with winners’ medals in 1980.


It was unfortunate, but somehow inevitable, that the time came when the team decided to disband. It was great while it lasted and a wonderful experience. The thing we miss most about the formation team is that you had the room to stride out a bit and dance a few show off steps that are not possible at social dances.


We dipped in and out of dancing in the years that followed, until the day we spotted an advert for ‘Dance at 8’ and decided to take up a past-time that we both missed and enjoyed. We just couldn’t keep away! We enjoy dancing very much, even though we can’t always remember the steps like we used to, it’s always great Fun.”

                                                                 Judith & Chris Ford

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