Strictly Come Dancing 9 Monkies – Monkseal’s Picks

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


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



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



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.


13 thoughts on “Strictly Come Dancing 9 Monkies – Monkseal’s Picks

  1. Marmot

    I’m a bit disapointed not to see Rory Bremner’s quickstep in the top 20. It was technically inferior to some other QS and it was tiresome Rory but it felt like a dance perfect for him and I enjoyed it much more than anything Alex did.

    1. monkseal Post author

      I am too jaded from 9 series of Erin at this point. It just felt very autopilot on her part and I never really got the joy. I’m glad he enjoyed himself though (*patronising patronising*)

  2. Carl

    I have a soft spot for Anita’s samba. The first time i saw it I was convinced that she and Robin did nothing but run around clapping their hands and jumping in the air. Anita’s desperate grin fitting a very desperate and frenetic song. Anita having very possibly her best hair of the series, and colors which flattered her. We aren’t talking about dancing, but she seemed to stop dancing in those last 2-3 weeks anyway. I liked her energy in her salsa but I couldn’t get past the dirty talking and thrusting at the judges.

    Nancy shutting down Bruce’s bewildering “nancy” joke was the moment many fell in love with her. I think that got her a few more weeks (why not?). Now why couldn’t she do that in the Christmas special? The “Viva Espana” grinding down to nothing when Nancy and Anton get to the farm was the funniest moment this series.

    Totally agree with you about Natalie this series. She was great with Audley, always patient, supportive, and choreographing to his strengths and weaknesses. She also looked beautiful – apparently the wardrobe people are afraid she’s going to steal their husbands/boyfriends and are being nice to her.

    I think the idea of giving a pro a dud partner makes sense in the context of someone not getting to hog all the good partners, and not having the pro overshadow and become the story. But I don’t think it would work as well now as it may have in past years. I don’t think Aliona or Artem would be the same with a duffer as Lilia or Darren may have been. People want to see them choreographing these memorable routines to showcase talented people (or they may want to see what craziness will be on display).

    Holly’s quickstep should be among the worst just because of that version of Valerie. It sounded like a drunk Daffy Duck. VAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALERIEEEEEEEEHHHHHHH…

    One of my favorite judge moments was the second or third (how many were there? I can’t remember anymore) time where Len was raging at Aliona and Harry, and Harry stopped Aliona from responding to Len. That was a big relief for me at the time because up to that point I was terrified Harry was going to become Matt Baker and neurotic his way through the rest of the competition.

    I liked the VT near the end when Holly sabotaged all the other contestants. Chelsee’s VT in this episode was also fun. If the whole series hadn’t been full of shit VTs then these might have been more appreciated.

    Thank you for your recaps, which somehow I’d never really read before. Not only have I loved your work this series, but I can go all the way back 3-4 years and enjoy all over again. I wish more of the first few series were available so you could recap those.

  3. kelly

    Reading this waiting for 2012 to arrive (crazy at my house!) and drunk alesha is back on Alan Carr’s New year show. <3. Can the BBC provide all the judges with alcohol next year please?

      1. Kelly

        No, just the person next to him.

        And suddenly the real reason Alesha hit the bottle(s) becomes clear.

  4. Nikki

    Chelsee wuz robbed. Her QS should have won. As you explained in your awards report, this was a perfect example of props, music, outfits, storytelling and dancing coming together perfectly. And no mention of her paso? You must watch it again; I appreciate more with each viewing. As annoying as Len is, I find the smile he gave Craig when he finally whips out his 10 paddle very heartwarming – underneath all his arguments, seVENs and pickled walnuts, it’s nice to discover there is a squidgy soft core.

    Not a Nancyphile but I loved the Sarge in series 6 and voted for him in the first half of the competition, so I understand where you’re coming from. He’s the only duffer I’ve ever supported – apart from him everyone I’ve supported has made it to the final 2. I think we should all be allowed the occasional departure from the sublime to the ridiculous 😉

    MY highpoints of the series: Pasha, Chelsee, drunk Alesha, Len’s lens for Alesha’s frocks, Zoe, Kristina getting to the final, the Famous 5 sketch for its hideous acting, the absence of bullshit eliminations, and no dance off – long may the latter continue!

    And not forgetting THAT brown haired, brown eyed, gap toothed, dimpled chin sweetheart from Siberia…

    Thanks for all your reviews. Already looking forward to this year’s!


  5. jean

    I still think that Chelsee QS was the dance of the serie.All week some of us were worried that oh no we should really vote for her b/c her training didnt look good(I remember seeing Ian midweek report where Pasha was just dragging her around the floor ) and she didnt even have enough time to train.Needless to say that I was expecting a disaster, then saturday come and I was stunned:):).Everything worked with that routine prop,costume,storytelling, it was perfect.
    I remember a lot of her routines and cant seem to remember some of Harry routines.Anyway, it was such a pleasure to read your blog throughout this serie:).
    I hope that Vincent and Flavia get contenders next year and that Artem,Pasha(yes Pasha) Aliona gets duffers.

  6. cleo

    I have to confess that Jason’s AT would have been in my top 10. It was mental, but I loved it.

    Here’s hoping Vincent gets a good partner next year. Also Pasha, otherwise we won’t get to enjoy his loveliness for long enough. Aliona and Artem must be in line for duffers.

    Thank you monkseal for a stupendous Strictly blog. I’m going to go back and rifle through previous years now:-)


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