Strictly Come Dancing 11 – Week 2 Performance Summary

So…15 couples in one show then? More than they’ve ever had to get through before, and enough to get Bruce begging off with “the flu”. Fortunately Claudia is hanging around the studio, for whatever reason (isn’t she normally only there for the LIVE RESULTS SHOW on Sunday?) so she fills in with Tess in the usual formation. You can tell she’s been caught unawares, because she’s wearing COLOUR (green) and her make-up doesn’t look like it’s been done by a rabid blindfolded raccoon.

In a vain attempt to assay this bloated crop, let’s split them arbitrarily into four groups :

The People Who Got Worse, Apparently : So obviously you’ve got the usual suspects in this group, that is, the people who don’t handle the transition from ballroom to latin with aplomb. Abbey seems stunned into awkwardness by a VT in which it looks like she’s cheating on her husband with Aljaz but WAIT A MINUTE, IT TURNS OUT HER HUSBAND IS CHEATING ON HER WITH ALJAZ, THAT’S MUCH BETTER SOMEHOW! I would be a lot more interested in this storyline if Abbey’s husband was, say Gerard Pique rather than Peter Crouch. Fiona also struggles to make the switch, although you have to wonder as always in Latin how much Anton is helping, giving that he turns up for a cha cha dressed up for a Shooting Party episode of Donwton Abbey and…has a…no I can’t say it. A TROUSER SITUATION. Undisputed queen of the Latin bombsites though is Rachel Riley who wears a rictus grin throughout and squeals “I CAN’T BE SEXY!”. Well…not with that attitude you can’t. On the upside, Pasha appears to be growing his chest hair in, and lord knows positive Pasha Hair News has been thin on the ground recently.

On the male side, Mark also fails to switch genres successfully. Well…that’s what the judges say. The gloriously Eurotrashy salsambchambo mess he and Iveta conjure up says otherwise to me, but what do I know? Personally I also disagree with the judges assessment that Julien has got worse between weeks, but that is mostly because he’s stopped shouting. So much. All the time. His tango posture is all over the place, and it says a lot that he dances to a Lady Gaga single and it’s STILL not the most ill-advised music choice of the week, but, you know. My ears. Tony also slides even further down, breaking a record for the lowest ever Charleston score ever on the show. A record set by Widdy. That’s right, we’re at SUB-WIDDY levels here. Tony just grips a golf club whilst Aliona does awful cartwheels. Poor Tony.

The People Who Stayed About The Same, Apparently : Deborah performs a cha cha routine that’s so gay that Craig actually calls her an actual drag queen and it feels like it doesn’t nearly cover it. She flounces, she lip-syncs, she swings her bum around with abandon. There’s some Alesha-level “just making it up as I go along” in there, but it kind of works. Also plateauing quality-wise are Dave (I mean…it’d be hard to get much worse/amazing than last week delete where appropriate) who walks and bench-presses Karen through the entire 1950s, and Patrick, who dances a Michael Jackson/mechanical toy themed tango about as sloppy as his jive, and gets about the same score. The judges do give him notice that they’re about to lose interest REALLY SOON though. Anya remains impactless, sadly, apart from a comedy VT where she dresses up as Arlene Phillips. I presume it was a homage.

The People Who The Judges Said Got Better, BUT I’M SORRY, I JUST DON’T BUY IT : The show throws everything it can at Ben, including ballet lessons and BALLROOM BOY storylining and it’s still doing nothing for me. He moves slower than continental drift and I’m sorry, you can throw her a bone by pretending she invented the head roll all you want, but scoring this 5 points higher than the Week 1 Waltz work Natalie Lowe got out of Michael Vaughan is a CRIME. They also act like Susanna’s tango to Bruno Mars (?) was much better than her jive and I’m NOT BUYING THAT EITHER. HER JIVE WAS A WEEK 1 REVELATION AND THIS LOOKED LIKE SHE WAS ASLEEP FOR THE FIRST HALF OF IT. Come at me, stans.

The People Who The Judges Said Got Better, Apparently : Natalie’s journey through ringerdom continues, as Artem puts some bloody clothes on, chips the last layer of tan off, and keeps his gob shut so as not to blind passing pigeons, and choreographs a modernist waltz to Alicia Keys. It is in this waltz that we learn that Natalie, bless her, is a bit of a ham. This is where Natalie Lowe’s patented head rolls get mentioned, because there are a LOT of them. She looks a bit like a dog constantly scanning for its dinner. In the nicest possible way. Amazing dancing, as ever (/last week).

The big batallions though are saved for Ashley, Vanessa, and Sophie. Ashley in the obvious manner that his fiancee/wife/girlfriend/whatever just gave birth and that child is all over his VT like Julien on godet (/screaming about godet). His strictly-by-the-book American Smooth is also a vast improvement on his cha cha, if a bit more ginger than Fred. (arf). Vanessa in a marginally less obvious manner, in that she’s realised her cha cha last week was an embarrassment, and she has hours to put in. Both in terms of effort in training, and also in terms of having a reality tv friendly emotional breakdown (I KNOW, FROM VANESSA FELTZ, WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT). Last week the menopause, this week feeling pure artistic joy for the first time ever etc etc. I don’t think James gets to speak once.

It’s Sophie though, who owns the week, with a bearable Charleston (HOORAY!). She’s really heavy getting into and out of the (otherwise spectacular) lifts, but other than that it’s an absolute triumph. Vibrant, flirtatious, and very in-keeping with the age of the dance. She scores 36, tying the all-time record for highest score in a second dance (with Colin’s quickstep and Alesha and Louisa’s jives). BUT WHERE DOES SHE GO FROM HERE? Unfortunately for her, and for all us, straight into Love Week.



39 thoughts on “Strictly Come Dancing 11 – Week 2 Performance Summary

  1. camis71

    Vanessa is not better. She is just not quite as crap. I never want to see Julien again (and my votes reflect this). Sophie deserves Charleston Goddess status for this week. Ben and Susanna? Meh. At least Bruce wasn’t there to crack inappropriate jokes

    1. monkseal Post author

      If I used “not quite as crap” to mean better for Gavbot, then for fairness sake I have to use it for Vanessa as well.

  2. Left Feet

    Sorry Bruce was ill, but they got through 15 couples with comments from all four judges, not sure they could do that with Bruce these days.
    Great dance for Sophie and Brenda (must be his best score since Lisa Snowden) also really liked Mark Benton despite myself. At least he was in on the joke unlike Dave last week. Agree about Ben Cohen, Len gave him a 7 for being a sportsman.

    1. Penny

      Absolute favourite bit was Claudia, with her encyclopaedic knowledge of Strictly, and transparent honesty telling Brendan that that was by far the best dance he’s ever done. Somewhere Lisa Snowden is knocking back the gin. Natasha, I assume, is shrugging “fair point”.

  3. Kate

    I thought Craig was calling himself the Drag Queen, not Deborah? As in, she may be a dragon but he is much fiercer than her?
    And I’m expecting you to screen grab the bit of Kevin from Grimsby squinting at the auto cue behind Claudia.

    1. Neio

      That’s what I thought too – it was a play on the ‘Dragon vs. Dragon’ headline on the fake newspaper Robin was reading at the beginning of the dance with Deborah and Craig’s photos. And Craig used to work as a drag queen back in Australia.

      1. monkseal Post author

        He still works as a drag queen here, albeit in panto. Mostly. Who knows what goes on at the wrap parties.

  4. Pops

    When they announced Sophie was doing Strictly, I expected her to be a bit rubbish based on some vague memory of her looking awkward in videos, and I also found her waltz slightly underwhelming. But that Charleston was bloody amazing. I love a non-gurny Charleston (see also Kara Tointon) and I was half-dreading the judges saying she should have hammed it up a bit more. so I’m glad they loved it too.

  5. Justice Bellingham

    Most disturbing part of the evening was Anton’s trouser situation. Even more disturbing than Nicky’s no-no last year.

  6. Stormy

    This is very weird, but my biggest reaction from tonight is how nice it is to see Anton actually NOT having to do comic relief dances. Fiona didn’t do great, but at least she can do well enough that he can try to look like the other pros and not just a clown out there to goof off.

  7. Ferny

    Poor Tony, he seems really sweet but he must have lost 2 litres just walking around the floor…what would be like if he had to jog?!
    And I apologise but I actually felt a bit sorry for Julian this week and I ..liked him, although not so much his dance. I feel like he definitely read some online comments and he seemed subdued (for him).

    And Sophie’s Charleston is going on my ‘best ever’ dances list, and largely that is due to her being the perfect build/look/style for that era. Suited her down to the ground, but hopefully that wasn’t her peak.

  8. A Frog at Large

    I completely agree with you re Mark and Julien. I actually found Mark’s dance very enjoyable. Not good, and definitely NOT sexy but it was fun.

    And Julien! Who knew he was capable of looking so, for lack of a better word, normal? I still hate him with a passion but at least he wasn’t screaming/laughing manically/on crack.

    I thought Tony looked exhausted after his dance despite the fact that it was a glorified ‘turn about the room’. He barely lifted his feet off the floor throughout, I don’t think he has enough energy for the show tbh.

    1. monkseal Post author

      I think that tango only looked normal in comparison to last week’s effort to be honest. The faces were…special.

  9. JB

    Abbey’s problem was that she was in the wrong costume; any fule no that “Let’s Get Loud” only works to a black-with-large-yellow-polka-dots latex dress style!

  10. minxy

    Claudia looked so damn good – is this the first time she hasn’t worn a sack/something 6 sizes too big?
    Mark’s bum bongo was the best/least cringeworthy bum bongo evah.
    Sophie really outdanced Brenda didn’t she? He was slipping into the curved back dad dancing style again!
    awww I liked Tony’s dance for some reason … and no way is he as bad as Widdie
    Toned down Julian was so much more bearable … even almost likeable
    As was Craig when he stopped being the panto villain judge … what happened? Such a dramatic switch.
    Did MITH manage to get his arm in the shot we will not name, and wave to us?

    Looking forward to the full report

  11. Soph (@dexychik)

    I much preferred Julien this week, but his silence during the judging was eerie. Like they’d given him ketamine. Because that’s the sort of level of intervention needed to tone him down.

  12. Definitely Not John

    I think the show thinks that Abbey will be a lot more popular than she actually is. She desperately needs some humility that’s not “I’m a normal person” if she ever wants to get higher than 3rd place.

    Also looks like Dave’s this years 4th place.

  13. Neio

    I just rewatched Rachel and Pasha’s dance. Is it just me, or was ‘Get Lucky’ really wasted on… that? A bit like when Flavia wasted ‘Jai Ho’ on Craig Kelly.

    1. monkseal Post author

      Get Lucky doesn’t really feel like a salsa song for me anyway. Although I don’t know where it would fit, and they were bound to use it somewhere so…

  14. Pasta

    I gather that there are about 30 assorted moppets and toddlers waiting in the wings from the contestants this year, so I’m hoping Ashley’s ability to wave around a 3-day-old in Week 2 might make Baby Wars a bit subdued this time. No-one else can compete, surely?


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