Strictly Come Dancing 11 – Week 1 Performance (1)



Or at least the part of it that watches Strictly. Endless leafy cul-de-sacs all leading into one another with no way out. The inhabitants all sit drinking red wine, dreaming of escape, and wishing they were all just a bit more like Darcey Bussell. Oh, it may seem idyllic on the surface but look closer…

There’s ball-bearings in the popcorn

a “The Hours” style manic-depressive housewife is trying to operate the tv with a Wispa Gold

they’ve chained the help to the radiator. Let’s all escape this nightmarish dystopia by watching a soap hunk do the cha cha!

Love, don’t fuss, I’m sure Craig won’t mind if your husband sits on his face.

So anyway, first order of business is to work out who the “ho” is. The “ho” being the person visible when the theme music goes “ho!” in the opening credits to the show. It’s fairly simple, and also you get to call someone a ho, which is always fun. Because there are far too many contestants this year, they’ve added an extra ho, as part of some sort of BBC PRODUCER CONSPIRACY to make sure a ho wins. Here are your options :

And yes, there is a lot of random gurning in the opening credits this year. Gone are the days when every clung to one another demurely, like they’d just been sprung in the cupboard at the Christmas Party having a crafty shag. Now everyone’s pulling “LOL SEXY TIME!” faces and honking their partner’s boobs. I blame Vanessa Feltz. If anyone’s the Patient Zero here it’s her.

Credits over with, the band strikes up and

IT’S PEANUT BUTTER TESSY TIME! I like that she’s establishing a strong visual identity, because the show hinges more on her this year than ever before and less and less on

the world’s worst gynaecologist here. Bruce mugs disappointment that Tess didn’t extend her leg all the way out, and Tess explains that if she did that in this dress she’d be flashing her muff to Alistair Appleton in the front row. Also let’s ask Wilnelia about disappointment that things aren’t getting all the way up any more, EH BRUCE?

“Nice to see you…” yields

a complete refusal to play along from Janet Ellis, who just gives an indulgent smirk. Let’s all remember that when she’s asking for indulgence for crying and snotting everywhere every time her daughter manages to stay upright for 100 seconds. Tess grins that they’ve got a GREAT line-up for us this year! There’s even a world class golfer! FINALLY, THE WAIT IS OVER!

Bruce tells Tess that Tony Jacklin isn’t all that. In fact Bruce beat him once.

And then Ronnie Corbett and Jimmy Tarbuck and Charlie Williams all lifted Bruce onto his shoulders and chanted “BRUCE! BRUCE! BRUCE! BRUCE! BRUCE! BRUCE!” and all the so-called professional golfers looked around sullenly and kicked the ground with their feet and then Miss World 1968 presented Bruce with the trophy for being the best at golf and then she turned into a pelican and Bruce woke up.

Such reminisces over with, Tess turns to Bruce and says “the time has come!”. Don’t say that directly to Bruce Tess, the doctors have given him at least another 5 years. You’ll frighten the poor bugger off. In actuality what it’s time for is for the celebrities to finally actualise their three weeks of training (/27 years of ringerdom) and finally get on the dancefloor and DANCE. Tess whispers that if you listen closely, you can probably hear their hearts beating backstage.

Not Susanna Reid Tess, she has no heart (ice-cold bitch-queen of the breakfast sofa <3).

Time now then to introduce our celebrities, including “pop princess Sophie Ellis-Bextor”, “star of stage and screen Mark Benton”, “England rugby hero Ben Cohen”, “golf legend Tony Jacklin”, “tv chef and hairy Biker Dave Meyers”, “anything that isn’t ‘married to Peter Crouch’ Abbey Clancy”, “Nobel Prize Winner Patrick Robinson”, “inventor of the microwave, Rachel Riley” and “from Hollyoaks, Ashley Taylor Dawson”. As they all descend the stairs and line up for the shakedown, it looks like Pasha is trying to get some last-minute practice in with Rachel. It looks like Rachel…is less ready for this development.

Once everyone’s out Bruce gazes at them all through his cataracts, and tells us viewers that some of them are looking nervous, some of them are looking excited (THE DIRTY AWFUL EVIL OVER-CONFIDENT SMUG IN LOVE WITH THEMSELVES WOULD KILL THEMSELVES IF THEY DON’T WIN BITCHES), some of them are looking for the exit, and some of them are looking

for a mirror. Tess goes on to say that fortunately none of our celebrities will be going home this week (woo….) but unfortunately the judges paddles will be making an appearance. Based on Bruce’s face, I’d hate to speculate where.

Oh yeah, and the dance-off is back again.

Normally I’d complain, because I hate it and it’s boring and AUSTIN WUZZ ROBBED and so on, but after the last two annodyne series I’m begging for a shock boot. It’s been too long since Len cacked himself over having to choose between two GOOD DANCERS because that’s NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HIS JOB, we’re supposed to be getting rid of the BAD DANCERS, BAD PUBLIC, YOU’VE RUINED IT FOR LEN. Bring it on.

Ashley Taylor-Dawson & Ola Jordan dancing the cha cha

Not so much the cat who got the cream as the cat who brought down the cow and has got her chained up in her basement permanently hooked up to a milking machine isn’t it? I’ve not seen such needle-eyed glee since after Kristina got Jason Donovan but before he’d opened his mouth. Before they dance though, Bruce has an announcement :

“Ashley’s wife was due to give birth to their second child yesterday”. Nothing like dampening the ardour of Britain’s housewives before the series has even started. It’s almost as though they want a female winner. Look, you can see

Tess’s vagina fizzle out right before your very eyes. Anyway Bruce says that he hopes that Ashley’s wife gives birth tonight, because then he’ll have to leave, and it means that Bruce will get to do twerking with Ola.


We are re-introduced to Ashley via the visual medium of

one of those many times in Hollyoaks when OOPS, ALL HIS CLOTHES FELL OFF. So inconvenient when you’re trying to make a smoothie. What Tess doesn’t mention is that Ashley Taylor-Dawson’s name is SIX American valley girl names all in one. And that’s without playing with the hyphens. Ashley Dawson-Taylor, Taylor-Ashley Dawson. Dawson Taylor-Ashley. Try it! It’s fun for all the family! Ashley bungs out some story about how he could have been a SPORTSMAN!, honest, to try to suck up to Len, but the sport in question is tennis so…good luck with that Ashley. If you’re not ramming some part of you into another man’s thighs, Len’s not interested. Ashley closes by telling us that his first reaction when he got Ola as a pro partner was “sheer delight” (/to stage a melodramatic fake faint) and that she makes him feel comfortable when he looks into her eyes.

Don’t encourage Tess, Ashley. Seriously. No looking into anybody’s eyes, because she’ll be buying a hat right there and then.

Ola meanwhile

is not at all smug about having got Ashley. Oh no. She preens that she bets all the other female pros secretly wish they were dancing with Ashley, because he is “fit and good-looking”. Nice to see her priorities are in order. Dancing what now?

Training now and

Ashley’s already got the look of Scott Maslen circa week 8 about him, and the show’s only just begun. What gives? Well, what gives is that Ashley has got several major storylines filming on Hollyoaks and also he’s got a baby on the way. Over a montage of him doing Ola’s patented waggle-dancing whilst she sticks her bum in his face, we hear Ashley drone ever more monotonously about the stress of it all until he starts

slapping himself in the forehead and panicking about burning out. Week 1 this is. Week. 1.

Ola for her part is worried, because normally it takes until

Week 4 or 5 at the very earliest til she’s got her dance partner crawling around on their hands and knees crying. Patented Jordan rumba choreography right there. She’s particularly bothered by the fact that Ashley’s fiancee is about to pop a baby out any second, which will probably interrupt their training. Never mind Ola…just think of the Baby Wars. That’s at least 3 weeks guaranteed immunity from elimination right there. Also…”fiancee”? Because Bruce said “wife”. Do we think nobody’s told him that Ashley is LIVING IN SIN, lest he stroke out right there?

In actual fact, impending babydom is already causing problems because it means that Ashley is

glued to his phone, waiting for the notice that the labour’s started. Hey, maybe Chelsee should have used that excuse with Pasha?



Very pink. Ashley and Ola are dancing their cha cha to “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction, which is hilarious to me, because it’s a song about how someone is sexy because they’re demure and shy and hate themselves because if you don’t have low self-esteem about your body as a woman then there’s clearly something wrong with you and heaven forbid that you KNOW that you’re good looking, and it’s being danced by

Ola Jordan, dressed like that

and doing that.

Also it’s hilarious to me that because the singer doesn’t know the words and the band are playing the bass notes by squeezing the Man In The Hat until he farts.

As crummy week 1 cha chas by hunky blokes who later turn out to be contenders go it’s pretty generic but it’ll do. It’s very mincey and campy

and sharp edged, but he’s certainly throwing himself into it and it looks like his hips could potentially do things other than Canal Street realness later on, when he gets some of the less embarrassing variations of latin. Also, instead of Disco Latin, Ola is pioneering the furrow of

Hip-Hop Latin, previously only ploughed by Aliona Vilani in Matt Baker’s showdance. Which…is at least different. Even if Ashley looks profoundly uncomfortable jacking his body round like one of MC Hammer’s video girls.



They totter over to Bruce, who sighs that he’s so disappointed. That could have been HIM! THAT COULD HAVE BEEN BRUCIE! I know Bruce, we’re all better singers than Louis Tomlinson but his arse is just better than yours. Get over it. Bruce then half-heartedly somehow gets over the pain of not getting to sing masterpieces like “Little Things” and introduces the judges.

Already all projecting their own unique personalities. Bruce congratulates Len on getting married recently, a fact that I’m informed by an attendee that Tess was blissfully unaware of on the Launch Show, and says that he hopes that he and Sue have many years ahead of them “pickling his walnuts”.

Looks like Sue might already have started under the desk. Bruce goes on to grin that Len’s “good lady” is now a “Goodman”. Well, I’m surprised a man of his generation is so accepting, but I guess shame on me for judging.

Len starts for the judges, saying that Ashley’s leg action could have been a bit straighter

and there could have been more hip action, but overall he thinks Ashley is going to sail on through the competition. Bruno follows this up by saying that he thinks Ashley was born to be on his hands and knees. Bruno Toniloi : already marking people based on the sexual fantasies he has about them based on their VTs. Never change Bruno, never change. He liked Ashley’s timing, but he needs to work on his hip action and not throwing the moves away.

Craig is next, and he tells Ashley that his footwork was feral and his hips were impliable, his legs were bent, his isolations were woef…

at this point Darcey extends an icy claw and shakes Craig by the shoulder. Yeah, that’ll stop him Darcey, well done. She herself says that actually she thinks Ashley was competent. WOO! COMPETENCE! I’M EXCITED FOR THIS SERIES! She tells Ashley that when he spins, to keep his head up, because otherwise he’ll lose his balance. Yes Darcey, but Ola’s boobs are DOWN. What’s a guy to do?

Up to the Tessanine they sprint, to Tess who is

morphing into Cilla ever more by the day. She asks what it was like being the first celebrities to dance this series, and they both sigh that they weren’t very confident at all. AND THAT’S WHAT MAKES THEM BEAUTIFUL! In fact Ashley says he’s still shaking. Fiona Fullerton (who?) moos sympathy from the side.

We run briefly through how the show has Pendledrama outside on a bike ready to whisk Ashley to the hospital if his fiancee starts the Big Push, and also that how, even in this series where Ola has a hunky dunky ringer, things haven’t shifted sufficiently for

Tess to say her name properly. IT NEVER ENDS! Scores are in


(Sadly it later turned out that Ashley’s phone memory was so full of JAMES JORDAN MINT BANTER LADZ WINDUP KING texts that Ashley missed the call indicating that the birth of his second child started 7 hours ago)

Tony Jacklin & Aliona Vilani dancing the waltz

Looks thrilled doesn’t she? Give the people a little wave Aliona.

There we go.

Bruce tells us that Tony & Aliona’s routine is going to be a waltz, based on that age old story of “boy meets girl, girl gets on train, girl sits on train for 90 minutes waiting for something to happen, girl sods off and catches a bus to finish off her journey herself”

Poor Wilnelia.

To reintroduce us to Tony, Tess tells us that as Tony is the show’s first golfer, he might have a FAIRWAY to go to fit in! Well…he’s certainly got the part about having constant crap puns made about his day job because there’s nothing else to say about him down. Tony disputes this anyway, saying he’s already well prepared for Strictly because in his days as a golfer, he wore lots of bright clothes. Yeah…that’ll work.


he easily would have fit in in One Direction wouldn’t he? Or at least in Union J. Tony goes on to say that Aliona is a consummate professional and he’s sure that she has very exacting standards whilst Aliona

plots out the terms of her contract for returning at such short notice after getting the shaft so publically between series. I imagine it goes something like “1. Wine, 2. Guaranteed Week 2 Exit, 3. Full Pay, 4. Reference Letter For Dancing With The Stars, 5. Wine, 6. One Of The Male Pros Has To Flash Me For 10 Whole Seconds And I Get To Pick Which One, Not Anton, 7. Wine”. She announces to camera that she’s sure that there’s a Fred Astaire buried deep somewhere in Tony. Somewhere towards the back. And he’s probably dead. BUT HE’S DEFINITELY THERE. *reaches for wine*

Fortunately for Aliona, she soon perks up when she hears that

all training will be taking place at Tony’s great big fuck-off mansion in Florida (“8. I get to live in Tony’s mansion even after he’s eliminated”). The training itself looks very halting and faltering and Tony clearly has fairly severe issues with keeping his balance. He interviews that he’s sure with his persistence and Aliona’s patience, he’s sure that they’ll get through this waltz. Aliona interviews


Aliona spends the next 8 hours tarting round the golf course whilst Tony carries her drinks to her on a silver tray in a waltz rhythm. Or something like that. It’s more fun than when Martina made Matthew play tennis against her anyway.


And two dances in, our first props/staging has arrived. Frankly by today’s standards that’s relatively restrained. Tony & Aliona are dancing to the Birds Of A Feather theme tune

and yes the dance could probably do with a cameo from a shag-happy Dorian Green, replete in golfing regalia, to liven it up a bit. Tony’s efforts mostly seem to be focused on not stumbling and counting the rhythm out loud, and Aliona’s efforts mostly seem to be focused on

nicking Natalie’s signature moves to wind her up. To his credit, Tony does seem

to know what to do with his arms, if not his legs. In that sense he’s the anti-Sophie and well…I’m sure the leaderboard will be testament to which are more important in dance (except in salsa obviously – armography <3). Also if you’ve got a soft spot for gnomey old men, I’m sure it’s very charming.

It all ends with Aliona waving Tony off into the sunset and yelling “BYEEEEE!” after him.

One more week Aliona. One more week.

As they wobble over to Bruce, he yells “THAT’S TOUGHER THAN 36 HOLES ALL IN A ROW!” right at Tony. I’ve already made enough Poor Wilnelia jokes for one recap haven’t I? Yes I have. Anywho, it’s time to introduce Davearch, His Wonderful Wonderful Orchestra and most importantly the Man In The


Bruno says that in hold Tony is like a Galapagos Turtus (?), Craig criticises him for taking too long to get into hold and dancing like the Hunchback Of Notre Dame when he did, Darcey says she empathises SO MUCH with Tony’s nerves, Len calls Tony “the spirit of the show” whilst Aliona

rolls her eyes and thinks about the REAL spirit of this show (vodka. mixed with wine), and because Tony is a sportsman and Bruce’s mate, Bruce rambles out a paranoid gay-bashing fantasy involving Craig and a golf ball and is it me or are Bruce’s Gay-Bashing fantasies getting more and more homoerotic but actually I DON’T CARE BECAUSE WHERE IS THE MAN IN THE HAT AND WHERE IS ERIN AND WHERE IS NATALIE AND WHERE IS STARSHIP KAREN AND WHERE IS LOVE AND OH MY GOD THIS IS TOO MUCH CHANGE FOR ME *goes full Ashley Taylor Dawson Week 1 Meltdown Mode*.

Once I’m done throwing my toys out the pram, Bruce says that he knows that all European golfers will join him and Tony in wishing Bernie Gallacher a full recovery.

Aliona concurs.

Up to the Tessanine they go, where Tess calls him “Teddybear Tony” and tells him that everyone up on the Tessanine agrees with Len.

EVERYONE. Tony guffaws that he feels just as hot under the studio lights as he does when sunning himself in Florida. (“9. By “mansion” I mean “mansion” in Florida, not just any old mansion. Although of the 50 states I will also accept mansions in Hawaii, California, Maine, and New York”). Tess finally swallows her clear naked terror of engaging with Aliona and asks her tentatively if Tony has done her proud. Aliona replies that Tony has worked so so hard and she’s never seen anybody

SWEAT SO MUCH, EW. Aliona’s disregard for the show’s niceties this year almost make me wish she could be fired and rehired EVERY series. Scores are in



Mark Benton & Iveta Lukosiute dancing the tango

Bruce is obscenely proud of his ability to get Iveta’s name right by the way. And all it took was writing it on the autocue in size 72 font. Phonetically. With a three week training course attached. Anyway, Bruce goes on to say that Mark is an amazing actor and has even been in films (/some Mike Leigh movie nobody remembers and *shudders* “The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus”). Apparently Bruce’s favourite film is The Wizard Of Oz. BECAUSE!

UNNECESSARY FILM REVIEWS BY BRUCE! Next week : why Oliver Stone’s a bit shit.

In his intro VT, Tess reminds us just what Mark’s stage and screen stardom (as referenced in his “walking down the stairs” intro) entails, in that she cues up a load of shots of him playing Mr NotAPaedo in Waterloo Road. I watched Waterloo Road the other day. There was an Emergency Nudepix Assembly and that alky who tried to burn the school down was headmistress. Plus ca change.

Mark tells us that his inspiration for becoming an actor during his childhood in Middlesborough was his uncle, who is also an actor. Mark used to see him trudging home every day from drama school, exhausted, and think “I want to be just like that”. Very different sort of Hovis advert that one isn’t it? Mark goes on to say that his main motivation for doing Strictly is to get fit and lose weight. Which makes it very cruel indeed that they left that

giant pyramid of Ferrero Rocher lurking around backstage.

We’re reminded of when Mark met Iveta, and Mark says that when he was partnered with Iveta he was in shock. Oh Mark – Anton only goes with the comedy female contestants. So far. Iveta for her part says that she wants to make their dances memorable and technically excellent. If you want to be a pro on this show Iveta, I’m afraid you’ll have to pick one or the other.

Mark : “I love Iveta, she’s so funny”
Iveta :


Training now and it’s being soundtracked by “Big Girls (You Are Beautiful)” by Mika. Did they just have this lying around after Lisa Riley last year? Mark is a BOY, producers. A BOY. Are there no songs about how the heftier gentleman deserves love too? Anyway, Mark putters around messing things up and talking about how Iveta makes everything look easy but in reality it’s HARD. He’s far more used to the dancing he does in his day-job, caked in make-up, wearing a wig, and tottering around on high heels. Is he a Darren Bennett tribute act?


He (/the producers of Hairspray, looking for free advertising on the BBC) invite Iveta along and she immediately

picks out all the props she’s going to nick. She’ll have THAT ONE, AND THAT ONE, AND THAT ONE, AND THAT ONE. Mark closes by saying he’s doing this dance for all the big men out there (having said that he’s doing the show because he wants to lose weight).


Psst, Mark, the mask might disguise your identity better if you wore it over your EYES, just saying. Anyway, yes, it’s a comedy tango, and Iveta manages to just about make the story fill the full length of the dance so it’s not just a bit of comedy faffing at the beginning then some dancing. That said, the dancing is…a bit bobby for a tango, and his face is doing almost all of the work telling the story. His body’s just there doing the steps. Although once they’re tango’ing there are quite a lot of steps, and not, say waving your arms about pretending to be a disco hip hop vampire. So it’s a good start for Iveta and Mark I’d say.

It gets the series’ first standing ovation, at dance number 3, for which Bruce congratulates them, although mercifully without yelling “LOOK AT THEM! LOOK AT THEM LOOKING AT YOU AND LIKING LOOKING AT YOU! LOOK!”

Iveta’s pleased anyway. I think.

Craig starts for the judges, saying that Mark’s dance was definitely full of intent and purpose but unfortunately, just like Kimberley’s last year, Mark had his thumb stuck up in the tango.

Which apparently is a no-no. Not that literally anybody watching cares. Anyway Craig also didn’t like how Mark picked his feet up all the time. Oh, and his hand-shaping needs work as well. So there. Darcey follows saying that she found it all very entertaining but she was concerned with how Mark’s chin was

stuck in. I must say, as criticisms go, it’s better than picking on the thumb in week 1.

Len follows, saying he was concerned before Mark’s dance, because it felt like a sneeze. You could feel it coming on, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Also because Iveta appears to be wearing a hankie. But then Len liked it because it was full of attitude and had “recognisable steps”. Where has this show come to that “recognisable” is enough on its own for a 7? Bruno closes by saying that the routine was like “Carry On Thieving”.

Iveta’s got a title for her autobiography already. I notice that necklace from the routine is already round her neck, and I’m sure Darcey’s ear-rings can’t be too far behind.

Up to the Tessanine they hop, where Mark immediately announces that his mouth is really dry. Tess somehow does not respond “do I look like a barmaid?”

I feel like in a lot of these Tessanines I’m going to be suddenly struck with the image of Julien hovering in the background looking like some one’s ventriloquist’s dummy. This week – Anton’s. Anyway, Tess makes Mark repeat his tango face, and then yells “OLE!”. Wrong dance, Tess. Scores are in

24. I feel Darcey’s baffled face of disgust every time Craig scores below a 7 is going to get old. Especially as she only gave Mark a 6.

Susanna Reid & Kevin Clifton dancing the jive

Bruce explains that in the story of this dance, Susanna is playing a breakfast presenter. Well, that’ll be a stretch. Kevin will also be playing the role of “floor manager”. Apparently a floor manager’s job is to tell the presenter where to stand, and when the camera is on them, and who the rest of the cast are, and what day it is, and who’s Prime Minister now, and where the canteen is, and how the toilets work, and how yes we let women play sport now Bruce, and that’s BRUNO Bruce, you like Bruno, he’s the funny one and no we can’t cast Larry Grayson as a celeb dancer Bruce he’s dead and yes of course we’ll let Ramps dance again Bruce now LET GO OF ME.

At least on this show that’s what they do.

Susanna’s VT starts with her

hurling glitter everywhere and screaming. It’s a start. Susanna tells us that she feels like she’s fully landed on Planet Strictly in a sequinned glitterball rocket. Previously, apparently she wrote all of Bruno’s judging comments for him. She carries on this metaphor by saying that the air on Planet Strictly is slightly different and unusual. Has Bruce been at the baked beans again?

At this point Kevin hurtles into view and says that it feels like only 5 minutes ago that he was sat at home with a cuppa in one hand watching Susanna on BBC Breakfast. Like most men would, he neglects to mention what was in the other hand at the time, otherwise Karen Hauer would probably belt him one.

And nobody would want to be on the receiving end of that. Susanna meanwhile says that she thinks that all of the pros have the ability to turn on a bit of sex appeal, so it doesn’t really matter who she gets on that score.

*cough cough*

Kevin closes by saying that he wants to reveal the new sassy and sparky side of Susanna. Has he seen BBC Breakfast? She’s plenty sassy. That’s why she got the biggest hatebase of any of the contestants so far, and we’ve barely even started (<3).

Training now and technically speaking it’s our first Comedy VT, and we all know how I feel about those, particularly if the comedy is completely unrelated to any actual real world training room events, like if Jive Bunny or a haunted mariachi band or Aliona just turn up and start ACTING everywhere, and in this one Susanna and Kevin are pretending to be newsreaders so it definitely fits that bill so I should hate it but


Anyway the idea is that Susanna is a newsreader and journalist and so can’t stop asking questions yadda yadda




Anyway, where Mark’s tango was one of the few examples ever on this show of someone actually making a story integral to every step of the dance, Susanna’s jive totally isn’t. She’s just sat on a sofa at the beginning and then bellows “BACK TO YOU BRUCIE!!!!!!!!!!!” at the end, sort of, through a rapidly deflating lung. But who cares, it’s a bonkers jive and I can forgive them a bit of stage-setting. You can tell Susanna’s going to be one of those contestants who hurl themselves into acting the dances despite not having any prior acting experience by the way her face

randomly and awkwardly lights up at the first note of the song (“Shake A Tail Feather”) and it’s super-endearing. It’s like Bill Turnbull spiked her tea with LSD or something, and let’s face it, you wouldn’t put it past him, the wily old bastard. The routine itself is very fast and fun and varied (not just 72 different variations on “bounce up and down whilst kicking at the floor, thank fuck) and whilst Kevin is undoubtedly a lot more energetic than Susanna, I’mma just going to fan-wank that he’s flapping away like any good floor manager would when finding their star newsreader doing the watusi and the mashed potato whilst talking about the war in Syria.

I can’t quite fan-wank him pointing at her arse going WOOOOOOOOOOO thought but…no pro’s first piece of choreography was ever going to be 100% perfect. Besides, he more than makes up for it by working in my favourite piece of Week 1 choreography

“Stomp Towards Craig Scowling And Pointing And Telling Him Not To Mess Around With You Because You Are Not Here For His Shit”. Always a classic.

She also gets through a good 80-90 seconds of the routine before it all falls to bits as well, which is more than I remember from the first time watching it.


She gets a standing ovation

except from Janet Ellis (I mean I don’t want to seem like I’m picking on Janet Ellis but…loosen up a bit woman). Anyway, Bruce then announces to Susanna that she wouldn’t get a dance like that with Bill Tuffnell. Well…quite.

We start with Darcey

who was very impressed. I know. Darcey’s Pre-Series DanceOMeter is looking pretty silly now isn’t it? And…it did at the time as well, but still. She loved the speed, the energy and the style, and Darcey thinks she didn’t lose it at any point. Darcey was presumably distracted by a pigeon during that cartwheel. Len follows by saying that Susanna got one of the hardest dances in the whole draw to do in Week 1, and what he got was “Chicken Soup To The Eyes”.

IT BURNED! IT BURNED! (Not really, it was tasty and satisfying and there were bits of meat floating around throughout)

Bruno is next and

randomly aggressive, yelling “THIS GIRL CAN SHAKE IT!” like he’s screaming it directly through Digital Spy forums or something. I’m scared, in this Series Of The Woman, that Bruno is going to go full mental and start defensively ripping everyone else to shreds. And by scared, I mean “hopeful”. Bruno on the warpath sounds hilarious. Oh for a soundbite as iconic as “the hills are alive with the sound of BULLLLLLLLLSHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!” again. Craig closes in full “I’m going to tell you the truth DAHLING” schitck mode, telling Susanna that she was laboured and danced like she had no neck. He does at least call out the cartwheel which…somebody needed to. He closes by telling Susanna that she had lots of personality and energy though, and Susanna

blows him a kiss. Bruce then reprimands her and tells her that if she’s going to kiss anyone on the show, it’s going to be him. Jeez, alright Christian Grey.

Up to the Tessanine they caper, where Tess greets them by gushing that she’s so excited that Susanna got a standing ovation for her first dance, because she doesn’t think that’s EVER HAPPENED BEFORE?

Erm…it happened 10 minutes ago Tess. With Mark. Jesus wept, but you really don’t see any men who don’t have TEH GUNZ, do you? Susanna thanks Kevin for all his hard work, Kevin gushes back that Susanna was awesome, and Tess sighs in awe that Susanna was able to do that despite having THREE CHILDREN ZOMG. Meanwhile Kristina

subtly maneouvres herself into shot in her pants. BEN COULD ALSO BE GOOD! BEN IS ALSO FIT! DON’T COUNT KRISTINA OUT! SHE’S IN HER PANTS!

Scores are in


Sophie Ellis-Bextor & Brendan Cole dancing the waltz

I suspect if she lasts past week 6 they’re going to get her to shorten her surname because Bruce’s teeth are already nearly falling out every time he tries to say it. Bruce tells us that for their romantic waltz, Sophie & Brenda will be recreating a scene from that famous movie “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”

Tess reintroduces us to Sophie by telling us that she’s “pop royalty”.

Which I guess explains why I’m a pop republican. She tells us that she’s always dancing at her own concerts, because if she’s not dancing, how can she expect the audience to dance as well? Maybe we could apply that logic to Robbie Williams every time he expects the crowd at one of his concerts to sing all of the songs for him? She does admit that she’s not very good but…well she’s a trier.

Sophie goes on to say that she thinks a lot of ballroom and latin dancing is all about having chemistry with your dance partner and getting up close to them and touching them intimately. And this worries her, because the only man she’s ever touched intimately before is her husband.

Or at least that’s what she’s told him anyway. Brendan meanwhile muses, not a little smugly,

that the British are very proper and stiff upper lip and conservative, like he didn’t have Kerplunk throwing her knickers at him five seconds in. And Sarah Manners wanting to hack his face off with a melon-baller five seconds in. Maybe he’s just forgotten. It was so long ago. Sophie does admit there was one moment on the Launch Show when she was being twirled around and she just had a moment of pure bliss and thought “I LOVE THIS!”. Well, you’re with Brenda now, so that won’t last.

Training now, and Sophie tells us that everyone keeps on telling her that she’ll find the waltz really easy, because she’s such a naturally elegant and serene person. Sophie protests that she

FAHCKIN ISN’T *burp* *fart* *spit* As they share a smoothie Sophie basically asks Brenda

what her motivation is in this routine, and God bless her for being utterly unafraid of looking pretentious this early on. Brenda says that the point of the routine is really to be the epitome of femininity. Brenda, she asked what HER motivation was, not yours. Anyway, Sophie goons around the training room making silly noises, and Brenda sighs sadly that he’s not sure what Sophie’s going to be like on the night. There speaks a man who in the last 5 series has suffered through Michelle Williams on crack(/”sugar”) to Paloma Faith, Pendledrama and Bloody Lulu both forgetting their routines, Lisa Snowdon’s salsa and Jo Wood’s…erm…Jo Woodness in his first routines of the series. You can tell he doesn’t want to get his hopes up. Sophie for her part says that she thinks she’s getting the routine right about one time in three.

There’s many a dancer in this show’s history that would take those odds Bextor. Many a dancer.


Oh God, this routine is already too twee to live. The moon is actually in the sodding river. So yes, they’re recreating that scene in Breakfast At Tiffany’s where Tiffany sat in her room in the middle of the night dressed in a party frock and then a ballroom dancer appeared and

Tiffany looked at the goods and decided she didn’t want any but then did a waltz with him anyway and

Tiffany was I think a bit pissed? Anyway, her footwork’s lovely and I’m sure the atmosphere is a fairly good swing at a variety of romanticism that my brain will forever be locked away from but

I’m hoping she’s looking more comfortable touching another human being by the time the Latin comes along, otherwise we’ve got problems.

Of course when they finish Brendan gushes “THAT WAS PHENOMENAL!” right down her ear-hole because, compared to when Victoria threw up on him, it was. It gets a standing ovation from about…70% of the audience, including a

very weepy Janet Ellis. Mums eh? Can’t take them anywhere. Bruce tells Sophie that he’d heard that she didn’t want to do the waltz in her first week, and Sophie just sighs in a gentile fashion that she’s normally very stampy. Which…suits so many other styles. It’s basically just the paso doble isn’t it?

Len starts for the judges, saying that the routine was quiet and understated (lol, I’m surprised her face didn’t appear in the moon at the end, “understated”) and that he loved the fluidity of it. But she picked her legs up too much and her neck was too floppy.

Never mind. Len thinks the “beauty of the dance was gorgeous”. I think the redundancy of Len’s comments is unncessary. Bruno next, lowing about the “aura of sophistication” whilst

looking like a background dancer-gay in a Baccardi Breezers advert. He loved Sophie’s phrasing, but thinks her top-line was a bit hunched. Craig agrees that he thinks the top line is what ruined it, and Len chunters away all “what choo talking bout Horwood?” in the background like he didn’t just say exactly the same thing but you know, a bit Nicer and a bit more Lenny. He chunters that Craig’s theme tune should be “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, like his own shouldn’t be “Nienteenth Nervous Breakdown”. Darcey closes by saying that it was beautiful. Thanks Darcey.

Especially for the Dr Hammy Prayer-Hands.

Up to the Tessanine they bobble, where Tess greets them by pulling a sad face and asking Sophie how she feels about her

mumsy-wumsy cwying so much over her bwootiful dancing? Sophie says she doesn’t care – her mum’ll cry at any old shit. (LOL) Tess asks her what she was thinking out there, and Sophie says that she was trying to remember all the notes (presumably the Post-Its Brenda left on her fridge saying “NO CAKE FOR YOU, BEXTOR!”) and just to enjoy herself. And not vomit. Well it’s more than I managed. Scores are in


Natalie Gumede & Artem Chigvintsev dancing the cha cha

Jesus Christ, did he get stuck in the toaster? I suppose his tits are so pneumatic this year it’d be easy to get wedged in there. I know all of Boney M were black, but this feels like a couple of seconds longer in the spray booth away from an angry letter from the NAACP. Bruce says he’s not watched Coronation Street for a while, and yells up to Natalie to ask her to tell him how Ena Sharples is. Natalie then deploys both her Brucie Joke Faces. The actual :

and the internal :

In her VT, Natalie gets right in there with her own initial move in what will no doubt be a series long tactical battle with her own ringerdom. In her case she goes for the “performing on a live stage dancing is NOTHING LIKE working in tv, what I have been doing for the past 5 years” variation. We’ll see how this plays out. I have faith she won’t fall into the “dancing jazz actually makes you WORSE at dancing ballroom FUN FACT” pit or the “I just sat on a chair” deathtrap. Anyway Natalie then mugs to camera “if something goes wrong…you CAN’T DO IT AGAIN! THERE’S NO TAKE TWO!”.

If she’d tacked on a “…but there IS an “It Takes Two”, live every week day with Zoe Ball on BBC2 at 6:30pm!” and done a wink, I may have given her may vote. Even though the lines haven’t been opened and I may still be charged.

Natalie then next moves on to talking about Artem, saying he’s a “self-proclaimed Russian Terminator”. I mean…I’m fairly sure the makers of lamewad Comedy VTs came up with that first, but ok. She reveals that his first words to her after the Launch Show were “don’t cry on the Saturday Night, if you haven’t trained until you cried during the week”. The camera then pans to a giant black puff of smoke where Janet Ellis used to be (NOT REALLY! NOT PICKING ON HER!). Artem then says that Natalie seems like his perfect partner. The camera then pans to a giant black puff of smoke where EVERYTHING used to be (thanks Kartemites!).

Training now, and we begin with Natalie pacing the floor and angrily slurping her tea because Artem is 30 MINUTES LATE FOR TRAINING.

She then fully nags Artem through the process of tying his shoelaces up,

angrily drinks a bottle of water at him and then

works him so hard he collapses on the floor a worn out ball of stress, tears and quite possibly blood. This is giving me such strong Gabby Logan flashbacks that I furtively start scanning the cast for who might secretly be Natalie’s husband. Ben Cohen? Seems the most likely. The footage closes with Natalie perkily grinning “I HOPE IT GOES ALRIGHT ON THE NIGHT!!!” as Artem vomits in a corner somewhere.



They’re dancing their cha cha to “Ra Ra Rasputin”, so obviously I’m singing “CHA CHA RASPUTIN, ARTEM’S HIT THE TAN MACHINE!” and laughing the whole way through. Ra Ra Rasputin’s just one of those songs that’s always funny, regardless of the context, and in this case the context is Artem spinning around on his knees with his boobs hanging out. His teeth are so white that if you turned the lights off he’d look like a lighthouse. A lighthouse dressed up like

a gay version of The Pirates Of Penzance. I think the weirdest thing about the routine though is that he’s

smiling broadly throughout. Smiling. Artem. This feels wrong somehow.

Anyway, Natalie is very sexy and very self-confident, and her hips are moving nicely, if not quite at full cha-cha tilt, but seriously, given what we’ve got coming up tomorrow it’s positively cha-cha heaven. I hope she gets a softer routine next week that will show off a more vulnerable side, because she’s hit the ground running with “SUPER COMPETITIVE RINGAH LATIN SEX GODDESS SLAVE-DRIVING EYE-ROLLING GODDESS” that I swear I heard half of the audiences heads shooting into their turtle shells never to emerge. The dance closes with the singer gurgling “OH THOSE RUSSIANS” and Artem’s teeth going


They get a standing ovation, including from Janet Ellis, so I take back everything almost bad I almost said about her. Hooray for Janet Ellis! Bruno starts for the judges yelling

“NAH NAH NATALIE, HURRY UP AND COME TO ME!”. Seriously, so aggro this week. It’s almost as though one of tomorrow’s dancers has been at his stash. Naming no names. Natalie’s pleased though.

Craig is next, calling her hip-action out as being artfully hidden by her fringing, and then saying that she’s a brilliant dancer. Well that’s it then, bish bash bosh, Natalie’s a brilliant dancer, the end. He goes so far as to say that so far, she’s the front-runner.

LOL. So she just heard how that sounded as well. You can hear the cogs whirring going “DO HUMBLE FACE! DO HUMBLE FACE!” at warp speed. Darcey follows up by lying that she never expected Natalie to be so good right out of the gate, and she really thought the eye contact between her and Artem was brilliant.

Len closes by saying that the dance was clean and precise and had style, but Craig is right about her needing more hip action. He goes on to say that Craig is wrong however about her being the front-runner. I appreciate he’s trying to claw back a bit of mystery but who the hell is it supposed to be? Susanna and her busted cartwheel?

Bruce goes on about how there’s a Russian dance move called “cobblers” for so long that EVEN LEN starts rolling his eyes and telling him to knock it, and then Natalie and Artem hussar off up to the Tessanine.

Tess opens by joking with Natalie about how she has left Artem a poor raw bloody stump of a man and Natalie’s all

YEAH I DID HAHAHAHAHA! Artem just mutters that yes, that is true. Well, this is going to end well. Scores are in


If you’re wondering who low-balled the sexy glamazonian fiery leggy ringer-lady it was…Bruno? Yeah, something’s definitely not right there. Oh and when Natalie says that she’s shocked, the audience openly guffaw in her face. Yup, definitely going to end well.

(Sidebar : I’ve always held that Denise Lewis was my favourite Strictly contestant of all time and that nobody could ever replace her in my heart but…something about Natalie tells me that the time might have come. Watch this space.)


29 thoughts on “Strictly Come Dancing 11 – Week 1 Performance (1)

  1. JillianBoyd

    Sophie’s husband looks like a strange hybrid between Brian Fortuna and Peter Jones off Dragon’s Den…
    Also of note, Artem looking like he’s about to spit fire throughout that routine.

  2. Ferny

    I know I’m on the wrong show but I feel like Dave calling Tess ‘Tessa’ was a protest to her treatment of Ola over the years. There’ll be placards next.

    I can’t believe you think Denise could be replaced by Natalie…traitor 😉

  3. Scottieboy

    Natalie’s streak of “yeah, I am THAT good” is brilliant, but I suspect the rest of the nation won’t agree. Also there are all the mad middle aged ladies who’ll refuse to vote for her because she was so beastly to nice Tyrone on Coronation Street.

    1. monkseal Post author

      This is why I think she might be my favourite. I don’t think anybody could be unless they were a little bit innately doomed for being TOO AWESOME.

  4. Missfrankiecat

    I was idly wondering why tennis was missing from your list of new sporting options for future celeb recruitment – I have high hopes of watching Andy Murray dancing an hilarious Charlston choreographed by Natalie Lowe on the theme of a disputed line call – when I realised I had totally forgotten Martina Hingis. The tricks of memory.

    1. monkseal Post author

      Yeah, there have been quite a few tennis players on international versions and they’ve all been…well, of about a standard with Martina Hingis.

  5. PosiePebbles

    Love your stuff, as always but I’m a bit confused by ‘Sophie just sighs in a gentile fashion’
    Is there some way of sighing in a specifically Jewish fashion that nobody has ever told me about?
    Still, as far as gentle typos go, it could have been worse…

  6. minxy

    Ahhhhhh Monkseal/Strictly/Screencaps – winter is a coming on. You make the transition to full on hibernation enjoyable xx

    Lolling at Artem’s inability to get the grin off his face at getting a dancer unafraid of hardwork again (yeah he is missing Fern soooooooo much lol) even during NotDead’s joke … the eyes gave it away tho lol. Nothing else moved at all in all 3 shots.
    Even during the long shots in the dance those teeth were shining out and distracting me – he’d be handy to have around in fog!

    Loving Aliona for the whateva attitude (where was custard on the list?) but want to slap her for doing it to Tony. He is such a sweetie now and I am old enough to remember him in his prime, not a golf fan but he was HOT and fairly local.

    Kevin really does look better in the specs doesn’t he? He also gets an awww for being from my hometown (even if short visits are as close as I will ever get to living there again lol) – wonder how much Karen enjoys visiting?

    1. monkseal Post author

      I wish SEXXY SEXXPOTT SEX-QUEEN Karen Hauer had been introduced last series with lots of shots of her partying down in Grimsby.

  7. Lougarry

    One of my favourite moments was when Tony was asked why he agreed to go on the show and he straight out said, ‘My agent thought it would help raise my profile,’ or words to that effect. I love a bit of honesty, me.

    I too thought perhaps James had bribed Dave to call Tess Tessa until she manages to pronounce Ola’s name right JUST ONCE.

  8. fembot

    If Natalie doesn’t pull off the ringerist dance moves and faces every single week I will be inconsolable – she’s far and away the most talented and confident dancer the show has ever had, I think.

  9. tal27

    Is it just me, or is the BBC logo ridiculously HUGE this year. Why oh why? Although I now play “spot-the-hat” in all the screenshots you put up which distracts from the giant logo – Susanna’s cartwheel? WHO CARES, there’s the MITH! Tony’s arms? WHO CARES, there’s the MITH…

  10. Minstrelgirl

    Love your comment about Julien being a ventriloquist dummy – spot on!
    Thank- you for all your hard work, I think I enjoy your recaps more than the show.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.