Fun Fact : Jennifer Gibney is from Ireland
Fun Fact : Judy Murray is from Scotland.
Where last night split neatly into two halves of the loved and the not-loved by the judges, in the second half of the show there’s a lot more Shades Of Grey. Not the ones there will be when Iveta gets Thom to Movie Week and lets loose, but shades of grey all the same. Riding the middle of the Strictly wave are Sunetra (loose frame, lack of drama, overbearing medical theming, dancing to a Robert Palmer song that isn’t Addicted To Love WHY WOULD YOU?), Mark (better than you’d think, still kind of tacky and seaside stick of rock campy), and Thom (alright tender Week 1 Waltzes by Big Burly Rugby Blokes not really cutting it any more apparently). Still, Thom can soothe himself with the fact that he is BLOWING UP SOCIAL MEDIA LIKE WOW. According to Iveta. I think someone just got her first retweet. Almost rising out of the middle-mire are Steve and Allison who both struggle with their bulk, although for entirely different reasons. Allison gives it full on Lisa Riley camp to “I’m Every Woman” but can’t quite finish the routine off, getting out of puff two thirds of the way round. It’s Steve’s muscles on the other hand that are holding him back, as he’s too bulky to be properly ballroom. Still, to “Born To Be Wild”, it’s the best Ola Jordan Rock Tango…ever? So he’s got that in his favour.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t highs and lows, because there are. Particularly lows. Particularly Gregg Wallace. It’s like watching a man drowning via dad dancing, as he stumbles around his cha cha doing wedding moves to no particular end. Of course what makes it amazing is Aliona swanning around in a fancy hat with loads of shopping bags watching him slowly fall to bits. Watching her wiggle around smiling and waving at him from a distance as he goes under is truly my highlight of the week. Jennifer also isn’t very good, but she sucks entirely in the way you’d expect a woman of her age and storky build to suck at a Week 1 jive so it’s not particularly notable. Right at the other end, the pop stars own the night, Frankie with a very sweet waltz with prop umbrella to a version of “Someone Like You” that’s been crowbarred into waltz-time so ham-fistedly it just makes the singer sound drunk, and Simon with a casual-as-you-like jive that Kristina apparently let him choreograph some of himself. I bet it was just, like, the bit where he pretended to play the piano, but still, it shows faith.
Most exciting of all though is a pro dance with some AMBITION. Maybe a little too much ambition, but after last year’s “oh everyone’s a cake for some reason” vintage, I’ll take it.
We’re back! With new credits complete with comedy skits based around Tim kicking, Scott mouthing obscenities, Thom almost dropping Iveta on her face and Allison being REALLY FAT LOL. This will be the beginning of a long and slightly awkward process wherein the show tries to sort out where it’s going to put all the end-of-the-pier comedy weight that’s been displaced with the departure of Bruce, whilst making sure NONE OF IT RESTS ON TESS AT ANY TIME. The culmination of all this loose farce sloshing around is a floor manager sprinting around the Judges Desk right at the end of the episode a la Benny Hill. I hope it was because Hot Greg gave her a shove out there and then laughed and laughed and laughed…
So last year’s first performance show featured five of the ultimate Final Seven of the series. This time around…maybe not so much. The whole night separated neatly into two races, the race to the top and the race to the bottom. Anton’s bottom specifically, as the entirety of his waltz was spent with the whole audience on the edge of their seats (looking for their sick bag) hoping against hope that his kilt would STAY DOWN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Judy looked more terrified than anyone. The judges tried to make out it was first night nerves, but we all know it was fear of THE CURSE. Also going for the comedy vote were Tim (on purpose, in an auction themed routine that looked a bit like Quentin Wilson had spent the last 10 years practising and not got much better) and Scott (…maybe by mistake? Maybe? Maybe Joanne can explain what she was going for choreographing a contemporary routine based around a gay mid-life crisis, on It Takes Two, I can’t wait to find out). Personally I found Scott the most cacklesome, but opinions may vary.
In the saunter to the top (not a sprint, don’t want to look too much like you’re trying to win yet tum ti tum) Caroline probably makes the best start if you’re sick of Dances With Stories, as she does the only routine of the night without overbearing theming, doing a Series Starting Cha Cha in a golden shower of a dress to The Jackson Five, punching her arms about like the hen party is just! getting! started! If you’re a fan of semi-surprising ringers (because lets face it, he at least went to Sylvia Young come on) then you were probably pleasantly warmed by Jake Wood coming out and doing a decent tango to Britney Spears. To be honest, after last year, you can sense the audience is even more surprised than Janette is involved in something non-horrific. Finally if you’re a fan of Ashlee Simpson’s hoe-down on Saturday Night Live then Pixie’s jive is for you, as it breaks down at the midway point to let her just awkwardly jig her arms and legs about and then accidentally flash her knickers to the nation. It’s a flaw! Not quite Kara falling on her bum dressed as a community theatre Catwoman but it’s something! She might not be a total Bott!
Tomorrow : the rest of them and hopefully they just let Claudia dress in black again already because she looked like she wanted to die out there in hot pink.
These doughs are straight up RUSSELL GROUP, yo.
Or “old people week”, if you’re Martha.
A new, less doddery era begins.