There are two vastly different drivers to the engine of a format such as Dancing with the Stars. The first, and perhaps the easiest to interpret, is the relative celebrity of the contestants. This 12th season kicks off with two A-listers in its line-up: Kerri-Anne Kennerley, late of Nine and newly relocated to Channel Seven, and singer-actress Danielle Spencer, daughter of Don Spencer and wife of Russell Crowe. That's better than it sounds - many shows start with no one.
The remainder of the contestants are a curious hotchpotch of the known, the notable and the not-so-certain. AFL star Brendan Fevola, yachtswoman Jessica Watson and singer-songwriter Shannon Noll lead the field, followed by TV presenter Erin McNaught, actor Zoe Cramond, '80s rocker Brian Mannix, ironman Caine Eckstein, a guy named Johnny Ruffo who is described as an ''X Factor sensation'' (side note: participation in one reality TV show is not qualification as a ''celebrity'' for another) and Vogue Williams, who is described as an ''international DJ'', whatever that means.
The second driver is dancing skill, which, as past seasons have shown, quickly replaces the fame game once the contestants are knee-deep on the dance floor and doing the rumba for their lives.
The ever-young Daniel MacPherson returns as host, with former Spice Girl and job hog Mel B replacing Sonia Kruger, who moved to Nine to host Big Brother.