The Pashawagon goes ROLLING ON INTO 2012.
Best Judge : The best judge this year wasn’t even on the show (…probably), but for bringing a well-needed dose of humour and fun to the judgery, the prize can only be awarded to Drunk Alesha. Necking a bottle of red wine, hand-waving the entire competition as a foregone conclusion about halfway through COZ HARRY IS WEW FIT, and burbling away merrily about how horny everyone got on the main show, Drunk Alesha provided the most likable face of judgery in years.
Worst Judge : Again, not even visible on the show, the prize for Worst Judge goes to Jennifer Grey’s scriptwriter. Little insight into the dancing, awful deployment of the obvious soundbites (“YOU’RE MY WATERMELON CHELSEE, AND NOBODY PUTS US IN A CUPBOARD!”), and some random crap about Lulu’s lumpy porridge that I don’t even want to think about.
Best Judging Moment : Alesha’s 2 paddle
Runners-Up: “DESIGNERGEAR! DESIGNERGEAR!” ; “Put your vagina away Nancy”; “You should have stayed in the coffin”; “HANDS HANDS ! SPATULSITIC! BIG OLD BANANAS AT THE BACK!” ; Holly cracks herself up at a joke nobody hears ; Kristina’s bitch-faces ; Pasha laughing at everything ; “I think they noticed dear, they’re not daft” ; Nancy defusing homophobia with a fiery kiss ; Nancy telling Bruce that he INVITED HER TO HIS DRESSING ROOM ; Alesha cussing Edwina out for chatting with Vincent rather than listening to her ; Aliona pissing herself laughing at Len turning the colour of a beetroot
Worst Judging Moment : Jennifer Grey
Runners-Up : Len falling asleep on the “I HATE ALIONA AND HARRY” button for a month ; “sexless, cold, and stiff” ; James vs Len (however many times that happened, I can’t even remember…) ; WHY NOT PUNCH CRAIG AUDLEY? (however many times that happened, I can’t even remember…) ; Len calling another human-being puerile ; every time someone called Anita “inspirational” for not dying mid-routine ; every time someone told Chelsee that they never expected she could be elegant/get through a dance without shitting herself ; Edwina endlessly poking Vincent into saying “I know nothing” whilst crickets chirruped ; Robbie probably tweeting his disapproval at Craig’s scores as they came
Best VT Storyline : Nancy On The Farm
Runners-Up : Any time anybody did any actual training ; Holly brings her own helicopter and racing car and everyone else just watches ; Erm… ; Lulu’s so awful that she has to rehearse on her own with a broom rather than interacting with other human beings ; Alex Jones giving James the finger ; Holly strips Artem with her sword for absolutely no reason other than because she can ; Harry is a 1950s gentleman ; Pasha interacts with children in an ovary-meltwing fashion ; Satan talks to Anita ; Holly “mourns” for Artem’s shoulder
Worst VT Storyline : Jason Donovan
Runners-Up Let’s make Chelsee a lady ; Alex Jones is repeatedly electrocuted and this is supposed to be helping her learn to dance ; Dan Lobb picks a fight with Craig – a nation yawns ; “I’M A COUGAR!” ; Russell is haunted by a glowing green fart ; Robin Hood – Prince Of Sheathes ; Lube – The Musical ; Basically anything where Aliona did porn-acting ; Ola blows snot-rockets on a prone Robbie ; Robbie IS UGLY OH NO ; Robin is Billy Connolly ; Katya desperately tries to recreate the Gavbot magic by playing tennis with Dan – a nation yawns ; Lulu runs around with an Andrew Lloyd Eyebags mask on
Best Host : Zoe Ball
Worst Host : Tess Daly
Most Amazingly Wonderful Pointless Controversy : The Nancy Dell’LOLio real-life troll bandwagon. Pretending someone sabotaged her dress, threatening to sue everyone over everything, claiming the show was pointless without her – all amazing.
Most Tediously Awful Pointless Controversy : JASON DONE SOME TRAINING FOR A BIT OR SOMETHING
Runners-up : ALEX JONES WORKS FOR THE BBC, THE HOOR! ; Robbie hates someone, will reveal all on Monday (never does) ; Alesha points out that Jason has as much chance of winning the show as a deodorant stick tied to a tea-tray, carnage ensues ; Audley’s wife said a thing probably about Natalie and stuff ; Robbie’s wife said a thing about Natalie and stuff
Best Pro Dance : BISEXUAL ROLLING IN THE DEEP MAYHEM
Runners-Up : Born This Gay, Artem Is The Singular Sensation, another Argentine Tango showcase, Team Ka$ha jive with Caro Emerald, Addams Family Values
Most embarassingly poor guest-performer : Cee Lo Brown’s tailor
Most bullshit elimination : None of them really (see, I can do this, because it’s my blog, so there. Everyone went out in more or less the right order, for once, which was nice)
Top Holly Valance “Not Giving A Shit” moment : Laughing when she was in the Bottom 2
Runners-Up : Spending an entire Argentine Tango sat on her arse ; reacting to her first 10 like it was a mild tickling sensation ; openly hating on the Charleston all over twitter, to anyone who would listen ; spending half an It Takes Two segment joking about her tits ; riding into a VT in a helicopter ; deciding she didn’t really want to do ballroom dancing, so could the whole show change to being ballet based please? ; sitting on the floor in the Swingathon and refusing to move ; sitting on the floor in her rumba un-picking her knickers
King Of All Pros: Pasha Kovalev, duh. I WAS RIGHT! I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG!
Runners-Up: Brenda Cole, Artem Chigvintsev, (*cant quite believe he’s typing the words*) Anton du Beke
Queen Of All Pros: Kristina Rihanoff, for pumping out a level of choreography I’m not convinced Jason deserved
Runners-Up: Natalie Lowe (now Duffer-Tested), Aliona Vilani, Flavia Cacace
Worst Celebrity (Talent) : Nancy Dell’Olio
Runners-Up: Edwina Currie, Lulu, Audley Harrison
Worst Celebrity (Personality): Bloody Lulu
Runners-Up: Robbie Savage, Dan Lobb, Edwina Currie
Best Celebrity (Talent) : Chelsee Healey
Runners-Up: Harry Judd, Jason Donovan, Holly Valance
Best Celebrity (Personality) : Nancy Dell’Olio
Runners-Up: Holly Valance, Harry Judd, Alex Jones
Monkseal’s 10 Least Favourite Dances Of The Series
10. Holly Valance’s Quickstep : Let’s see how many dances from the show’s entirely misguided attempt to cram two people doing ballroom dancing in a stadium setting I can get into this top 10 shall we?
9. Dan Lobb’s Viennese Waltz : Stay emo, Dan!
8. Harry Judd’s tango : A piquant reminder that even though Aliona’s choreography this year was almost entirely on point, especially at the end, she was still capable of some utter bollocks.
7. Alex Jones’ rumba: Ola’s catsuit has never been more misused…
6. Anita Dobson’s samba: Fuck off Eileen
5. Jason Donovan’s Argentine Tango: Like that end-of-rumba Serial Killer face, but for an ENTIRE DANCE. Very rarely have my stocks of brain-bleach been so sorely tested.
4. Lulu’s cha cha: HA HA HA I’M LULU, ISN’T IT FUNNY HOW AWFUL I AM? (except not)
3. Robbie Savage’s salsa: WOO WOO! WOO WOO! And some podiums. And an aborted leapfrog.
2. Russell Grant’s “jive”: If someone can proffer an argument as to how this dance was consistant with the “he’s much better than Widdy, he’s ACTUALLY TRYING TO DANCE!” defence then I’m open to hearing it. Bumped up quite a few slots by the show pretending it was amazing and everyone loved it and will remember it forever.
1. Edwina Currie’s Foxtrot : Just because it still annoys me. Having spent a pre-series claiming that Edwina was “far wittier than Widdy” (which, let’s face it, would not be hard, as Widdy’s summed witticisms from her two months on the show basically amounted to “OH MY GOD JUST YOU WAIT I’VE GOT (X) NEXT!”) and then being cautiously optimistic after her cha-cha in which she at least tried, we got THIS AWFUL MESS where she didn’t even dance and then dissolved into incontinent incoherance afterwards. SHAMEFUL and Vincent is going to have to deliver a dance at least the quality of Rachbot’s Argentine Tango next series to make up for it.
Monkseal’s 20 Favourite Dances Of The Series
20. Audley Harrison’s Foxtrot
Normally I’m not one for the “LET’S GIVE THEM A DUFFER AND SEE WHAT THEY CAN DO!” school of Strictly thought. I’ve never really seen the point of watching people “pay their dues”, and I’m not sure what is ever really learnt from it. What did we learn about Vincent this year? About Aliona with Rav Wilding (that precluded them from loading contenders on her anyway)? About Lilia with Richard Dunwoody? (apart from that there are miracles even she cannot work). And yet I can’t help hoping that this series was the making of Natalie with the public. One of the few pros to pull their celebs further than they warranted on talent alone in this very “to form” series, Natalie achieved this via a mixture of Erin-esque Latin, poking out the endearing side of Audley’s personality, and EPIC SKIRT-SWISHING, of which this routine was surely the romantic peak?
19. Nancy Dell’Olio’s rumba
I promised it would be here at the time, and here it is. Nancy lurches out of her coffin, drunk, gets molested by a zombie, then traps him in her crypt. We’ve all been there haven’t we ladies?
18. Holly Valance’s rumba
She really did have more on-floor chemistry with Brenda though didn’t she? I don’t think her dancing would have been as good technically with him necessarily, and I doubt the combination of their personalities would have been particularly edifying (Brenda + Someone Who Seems Like They’re Not Really Trying = NOT PLEASANT) but in terms of chemistry? They had it.
17. Anita Dobson’s salsa
Probably a controversial choice, but as Anita’s stay on Strictly further descended every week into neediness, madness, and repeated routines where Robin made her play the role of a 14 year old girl, this was incoherent lip-syncing fun in an absolutely hideousmazing Bertie Bassett dress. When I want to remember Anita fondly, it will be like this. Slung over Robin’s shoulder and popping her hips and bellowing “OK! I BELIEVE YOU!” noiselessly.
16. Russell Grant’s foxtrot
I was almost tempted by the whiff of Flavia’s clam, but in the end, Russell’s one appearance in this ranking has to be for this magnificent deployment of umbrella, and for once tapping into a gay vibe of triumph that didn’t feel forced or rote or just yelling “KYLIE!” over and over again.
15. Chelsee Healey’s samba
At the time I dismissed it as Chelsee on auto-pilot in Latin once again, but nothing else in the party dances this year has approached the level of art quite so much as her face wobbling with excitement as fireworks shot out of her arse. The giant balloons didn’t hurt either, or the fact that it almost felt like the dance filled the space it was set in. Almost. It was (yet again) a woeful year for salsambchas, but this out-shone them all.
14. Brendan Cole’s rumba
Rumour has it that Bloody Lulu was involved in this routine somewhere. I can’t recall seeing her myself. She must have been somewhere towards the back. Behind all the fog.
13. Nancy Dell’Olio’s paso doble
It’s been a real stretch this year to admit to myself that I loved a comedy contestant. Obviously there was my dalliance with the Gavbot last year, but he was really more of a LIKABLE SPORTSMAN ON A JOURNEY, and Katya’s tin-ear for comedy being what it is, we were mostly spared from purposeful comedy. No, usually I’m more of a “PURITY OF DAHNCE” kind of guy, but this year, Nancy pushed me over the edge. And truly this was her apex. The glamour of the Comedy VT, the stirring of the music, the giant bull blowing smoke behind her, the lobster’s claw, the counting out loud…Truly, more than any other female dancer to take this dance on, she WAS THE CAPE.
12. Alex Jones’ Viennese Waltz
I’d hate to come across as more favourable towards the self-indulgent blancmange that was Broadway Week than I actually am, following both Russell and Brendan’s dances from it appearing on this list but…second best breakthrough dance of the entire series yes? Simple, but effective.
(11. Where Harry Judd’s Waltz would have sat if it had been more than just a first half of greatness followed by twaddle)
11. Harry Judd’s Argentine Tango
Not really a vintage series for Argentine Tangos was it? The pros did their best, but Chelsee was too smiley and floppy, Holly too lazy, and Jason too…terrifying for any of the top tier to really stamp their mark on Argentine Tango history. Harry’s effort was by far the stand-out of the series, and all the better for being far too subtle for Len.
10. Alex Jones’ tango
UNLEASH THE ARM-HANKIES!
9. Jason Donovan’s tango
And another dance from Broadway Week. Hmm…anyway, it was still rubbish, let’s move on. Ahem. Early Jason really was the best Jason wasn’t it? Before the weeks of training got to him, and all that personality stuff reached a critical mass, and before Kristina went off her head a little in general. When he was happy to just to be a camp melange of tango and disco and to wave big pink fans around with abandon. Joyful nonsense, and a reminder of the less tense side of Jason’s Strictly story.
8. Chelsee Healey’s American Smooth
Oh Pasha, the Literal School of Strictly Choreography gets us all in the end doesn’t it? I am happy to admit that I am one of that breed that held Chelsee’s American Smooth about her paso doble in that semi-final rank-off, if only because its dreamy lyricism actually finally delivered on that long-running storyline about her learning self-control and elegance. Thank goodness sitting through all those awful VTs and patronising Brucie accents was, in the end, somewhat worthwhile. Shame about those splits though.
7. Harry Judd’s quickstep
Still the best end-pose of the series yes?
6. Jason Donovan’s quickstep
I have to admit to being mildly disappointed that his reprise for the finale was his tango instead of this. I get that he “had to go with what the judges chose” (*snort*) but this would have been an even greater farewell for Jason than even his showdance was. Inventive, charming, well danced, and Kristina at her choreographic peak for the series. He never quite topped this for me, no matter how hard he tried.
5. Holly Valance’s American Smooth
Say what you will about Artem’s tendancy to go off-piste on occasion (I’m still trying to forgive him for those lamp-posts. It’s quite an effort), but the man knows how to choreograph for a Themed Week. And this was the first time this series Holly really rose to match him, playing the Black Swan to his White Swan. Balletic, vaguely haunting, and slightly dangly of leg (LIKE A REAL SWAN ZOMG IT WAS A CHOREOGRAPHIC CHOICE) this was the dance where Holly put herself on the map, then wandered off to get a pizza.
4. Chelsee Healey’s jive
Would obviously be higher if they hadn’t done…that, to Pasha’s lovely gap-toothed face.
3. Chelsee Healey’s quickstep
All week Ian Waite had been promising me this was going to be a trainwreck of Titanic proportions. The awful training footage, the admonishments over not wearing proper footwear, the fretting about the lack of training time. And so it was I came in to Chelsee’s quickstep expecting the worst dance of the week, if not the series. And she went and did not only her best dance, but also the best quickstep of a series replete with excellent quickstepping. Never have I been more disappointed in Ian, not even that time he choreographed that jive for Penny.
2. Harry Judd’s Viennese Waltz
SO MANY FEELINGS!
1. Holly Valance’s paso doble
As much as it’s great to see a wonderful technical performance, or a masterclass in showmanship, or a tumbling of emotional torment and drama in a routine, nothing quite beats a dance that has you bouncing up and down on your seat yelling “GET IT GIRL!” as someone fulfils the potential that they’ve held back on unleashing for an entire series. Holly was never this good before, and she certainly wasn’t afterwards, but something about the paso doble, combined with two bottom 2s in a row, pushed her to her limits and dragged this out of her. In many ways, it was the TIME WARP of Series 8, and what higher praise is there than that for a dance? None. Quite frankly.