OK, I have to admit, between Arsey Fusshole, the looming spectre of such amazing contestants as Ricky Butcher, Michael Vaughan, the boring one out of Westlife and some cycle bint (YOU AIN’T NEVER GOING TO BE REBECCA ROMERO, SO DON’T EVEN TRY) I was already struggling to summon up enthusiasm for the upcoming run of Strictly. And now Katya’s been cut? For shame. As memorial to her glamazing ways, here, in no particular order, are my own ten personal favourite Katya Virshilas moments.
The Pen Javelin: Katya was just the latest in a long line of Eastern European female pros who were portrayed as dominatrixes in the training room (never let it be said that this show ever missed an opportunity to stereotype by nationality). But Katya took it all one step further when partnered with Phil “Tuffers” Tuffnell when, in between shoving around his wheelchair and playing nursemaid, she seemed determined to actually cause him injury. Shoving him around, yelling, and in one glorious moment, hurling a pen at his leg. Even Miss Whiplash was never literally true.
Never ever ever letting go of Len voting to save Ricky Groves over Phil Tuffnell EVER : At the time of her elimination in her first series she pulled a spectacularly sour face. The next day on It Takes Two she took up pretty much the entire episode explaining why the judges were in fact wrong to eliminate Phil Tuffnell, and diagramming out exactly how the dance-off was woefully misconceived and unfairly implemented. When I saw her and Pasha on tour three years later she was still banging on about it. In this complete inability to let long-settled grudges go, Katya revealed herself to be truly One Of Us, the Strictly Faithful.
The Kiss Heard Around The Ballroom: Many have been the moments on these dance shows, where a pro has choreographed in particularly nauseating “romantic moment” between themselves and their celebrity. They brandish a rose, they hold hands sadly, they kiss chastely in a shipper-baiter sort of way. I guess it plays well with the Mills & Boon audience, but obviously I personally prefer when a pro choreographs in a moment where their celebrity roughly grabs a judge by the head and rams their tongue down his throat. Truly the most classically romantic moment ever choreographed on Strictly. Klaus is a lucky man.
“I Seen You Doin’ A Little Cha Cha”: Judge-bickering is a flavour of Strictly drama that has become fairly tired in recent series, as the show’s desperate attempts to make it seem like James Jordan was ever even remotely in danger of not getting rehired demonstrate. But Katya managed to carry off her own low-key brand of judge-bickering with aplomb, mostly because everyone concerned seemed determined to pretend it wasn’t happening. Katya would stand there, constantly pulling shocked, appalled, disbelieving faces, and the judges would ignore it, where one eye-roll from Aliona would provoke a month-long sulk from Len. Katya’s greatest moment of judge-snipery was bringing up the cha-cha that Craig had done during a Christmas Special that had just filmed, and then kissing her teeth like a gangsta. So ghetto-fabulous. So Katya.
“I’m Thinking Sexy Thoughts”: Gavin & Katya’s relationship in Series 8 was a joy to behold. Whether she was mocking his ab-worship, or if he was wondering if she was feeling hot because the air-con was broken, or she was screaming “DON’T REVEAL MY WEIGHT ON NATIONAL TELEVISION!” or he was muttering that it was only Week 2 leave him alone, or they were both bonding over his hate of jive and all related arts, their low-key bickering brother & sister vibe was a delight in the fairly overwrought final stages of Series 8 (“The rumours are true! We are in love!”, “SCREW YOU ALESHA, MY AMERICAN SMOOTH WAS A WORK OF CONTEMPORARY ART!”, “Oooh James, I’ve accidentally come to training without my KNICKERS on again, won’t Ola be JEALOUS?!” *bends herself over potters wheel and cues up “Unchained Melody”*). Also there was that amazing week where they both ganged up Scott Maslen because Gavin had beaten him by about 2 points, once. But I digress. Really the whole Katya-Gavbot relationship can be best summed up by the legendary exchange :
Katya : I’m thinking sexy thoughts
Gavin : Good for you
The Satanic Devirgining: Series 8 Hallowe’en was, in general, a triumph of high-concept. Leaving aside briefly Tiny Tina being dressed up as Olivia Newton John (after being struck by lightning) and Flavia the Sharted Hamster, the costumes were actually fairly creative. Vincent & Felicity as some sort of Illuminati/Medici hybrid. Artem and Katya as the Phantom and his Christine. And of course TIMEWARP! But trust Katya to turn the whole affair into some sort of wanton spookhouse porno, with her a virgin ravished and ravaged by the devil. Aliona may have got modern and art-school with her performances on occasion, but did she ever try to recreate a hymen breaking via the MEDIUM OF DAHNCE? No, no she did not. That I’m aware.
Katya Plays Rugby: I’m almost put off including this, just because of the sad attempt to recapture the magic with “Tennis With Dan” (number of Dan Lobb related Katya moments on this list : 0), but Katya randomly deciding she was going to play rugby one week was just inspired. And by “play rugby”, I mean “roll around on the grass squealing”
So glam. So dignified.
Team Ka$ha vs Team Bratalie : Whilst Series 9 was…not the best for Katya generally, it did see the formation of the Strictly Power-Couple that was Team Ka$ha. Where before I’d never really noticed Katya in non-celeb performance, she just seemed to work with Pasha, producing firstly a notable jive around Caro Emerald, and then even more memorably this. I’m genuinely sad we will never see the likes again.
The Gav-Waltz: In all seriousness though, I’m sad that Katya never got a chance to truly shine (and no, being forced to do a naff Xmas themed dance with him from Blue is not a chance to truly shine) with a talented partner. As it was I think she got the best she could of the three semi-duffers she got landed with. And the moment that best shows this is Gavin Henson’s waltz. Flashback to the opening group dance of the launch show, and Gavbot could barely walk in time with the music. And yet, a month later, on the first Performance Show, he produced a waltz so competent you’d think that Erin had been involved with it somewhere. His dancing never really got all that much better from there (particularly in Latin) but it’s one of the most marked improvement we’ve ever seen on the show. And it was to “You Light Up My Life” as well, which…gaymazing. Gaymazing indeed.