Strictly Come Dancing 11 – Week 3 Performance

Apparently Love means “receiving a 7”.

Admittedly there are times in my life when that’s not been untrue.

Last week : Brenda hated Charleston, Abbey hated forgetting the routine, Deborah hated Craig, Rachel hated having to be sexy because it’s SO not like her, Ashley hated 3am nappy changes, Julien & Janette hated the concept of good sportsmanship, Natalie hated waltz-induced nausea, Len hated the thought of not being able to give a sportsman a 7 even though he moved at the speed of half-frozen treacle, Fiona hated a nagging digging sensation she was getting in her lower spine every time she danced with Anton, and Aliona hated everything, a bit like a French film.


give them a kiss

make them a mix-tape (that one is from Brenda to Sophie. All the hits of 1987!)

and practice with them your sado-masochistic choking sex-games with strangers. Pete’s not going to be quite so jolly about Aljaz’s influence THIS WEEK.




We open our Love Day celebrations by interrupting Western Culture’s most high expression of the emotion of lov…

JAMES! You should have gone before you left the hotel! This is holy ground! If you need to go, go and do it behind a tombstone. Jeez…

James is here to get married to Ola, via the medium of a pro-dance to “Chapel Of Love” by The Dixie Cups. Craig’s the vicar, Artem’s the best man and

Iveta & Aliona are the knicker-flashing bridesmaids. Sadly, they miss out the part of the routine where a weeping Aliona has Robin drunkenly pinned up against a skip yelling “TRY IT, YOU MIGHT LIKE IT! I CAN DO IT LIKE A BOY!”. Ah, weddings. James & Ola seal their love as everyone else flounces around in a pastel haze, and then Ola tosses the bouquet.

Always knew he was a catcher.

Business done, we are TRANSPORTED to the wedding disco where James and Ola have their first dance to “Kiss The Bride” by Elton John. A song about how the bride is a cheating tramp who gave it up for a member of the congregation last night. A member of the congregation who is Elton John.

Speaking of “inappropriate”, Robin is having to dance this whole routine having just split up with his fiance in real life. Which, you know, I’m sure was fun for him. Anyway, I am at least pleased to learn that high-level professional dancers are

just as prone to lapsing to fannying about doing the robot at their most emotional moments as the rest of us are. James and Ola finish up their first dance, everyone else wobbles around comically with novelty sized bottles of champagne straight out of the inflatables round from Supermarket Sweep, then

Craig gets pie-faced.

The end.

Once everyone’s cleared off to pick at the buffet and bitch about the maid of honour, the band strikes up to welcome back Tess and, more importantly, Bruce.

Yes, happily, it was only one of those one-week flus we’ve all had, and he’s much better now. Hooray. Just in time for (did they mention?) Love Week, the loveliest week of love that ever loved. Filled up with love, like sausagemeat poured into intestine lining, Bruce tells us that he’s got a confession to make.

Tess briefly panics that he’s going to propose to her, like her granddad did to that Indonesian care-worker at the nursing home, but it turns out he’s admitting to reading a dirty novel. Filth. The audience chuckle along at Bruce’s porno habit including

Alan Carr and Friend. This is me consolidating all of Alan Carr’s appearances this week into one screencap by the way. Just imagine him popping up every 2 minutes, like maybe the producers are telling him “PLEASE BE THE COMEDY POOF NEXT YEAR, THIS JULIEN THING DIDN’T REALLY WORK OUT!”.

Bruce then spends the rest of the intro muttering under his breath about his poor mate Tony Jacklin and how awful it was that Tony Jacklin was the first one out and wasn’t it a shame about Tony Jacklin, time was people had a bit more respect for golfers but nowadays it’s all these trendy sports like snowboarding and WiiWiiTennis and bisexuality and ah well that’s just the world I guess no point worrying about it just enjoy it whilst you’re here that’s what dear old Ronnie Barker used to say, such a gent he was, not like these modern comedians, all they do is just SWEAR all the time and talk about their periods. Meanwhile, Tess introduces the celebrities, whilst thinking

“this time last week, I was running this shit”.

Once everyone has emerged from the love tunnel to do their awkward jig to the theme tune, Bruce tells us all that he bets we’re surprised to see him back. Not really Bruce, there is a certain nagging inevitability to it at this point. He reminds us all that he just had the flu!

It’s not as though he was voted out or anything! The idea of a reality show where we got to vote EVERYTHING out, not just the contestants, is appealing to me. Imagine Big Brother flapping around without a host, I’m A Celebrity without the phony jungle set, just taking place in a bare aircraft hanger, or Sharon Osbourne throwing water over herself on X Factor because all the other judges have been knocked off. Tess quickly reminds us that our “fabulous fourteen” will be dancing to some of the greatest ever love songs. And that one about domestic violence. And “Let There Be Love”, which is crap. (Sorry, it is)

Abbey Crouch & Aljaz Skorjanec dancing the LOVE jive

Jesus, who pushed Jo Wood down the time tunnel? Bruce tells us that Abbey is going to be doing a 1960s themed dance, and he liked wearing miniskirts in the 1960s. Thanks Bruce. Now, eat your peas.

VT time now, and we’re reminded that Abbey’s cha cha of yesterweek was a minor disaster, but that the judges loved it

and audience members Aljaz’s arse, anyway. Abbey tells us that it’s really important to her in life to do her best, and she knows that last week she didn’t. Yeah, that VT acting was SHOCKING Abbey. You didn’t make me believe you were JELUS of Pete and Aljaz’s love connection at all. Take notes from Holly Valance.

“Training” now, and as it’s Love Week, the celebrities will be sharing with their pros what they love. In the case of Abbey it’s

LIVERPOOL! Woo! Aljaz looks less excited, but Abbey soon remedies this by showing him all the sights. There’s The Liver Birds and…erm…

a boat…? Still, it’s a step up in terms from international reknown from Slovenska Bistrica I guess. Aljaz gamely follows Abbey around all of Liverpool’s semi-reknowned haunts, only really looking like he might crack when Abbey starts randomly

snogging the architecture. I mean, there’s loving your city, and there’s LOVING it. I’m not sure there’s any part of Coventry I’d tongue. We close with Aljaz sat down with Abbey’s dad and brother, with them trying to teach him how to speak Scouse. Specifically “dey do doh, don’t dey doh?”.

It’s not the most natural fit in the world. All I want for Christmas is for Abbey’s showdance to start with Aljaz in a Terry Sullivan moustache and bubble perm wig, flapping his arms and going “CALM DOWN, CALM DOWN”

So yeah, as you might expect from the VT, Abbey is dancing her jive to The Beatles, whilst say on a wall on Penny Lane. Quite literally sat on the wall for some of it,

although Aljaz makes sure to throw in some knicker-flashes to keep things ticking over. Choreographically speaking, you understand. Once she’s humptied her dumpty off the brickwork it becomes ever more apparent that Abbey might well just be a ballroom girl, as there’s not really a lot going on, and Aljaz is making her kicks and flicks look very stunted by comparison with his. I don’t think the

sod-off heels are doing her many favours to be honest, or the knee-high socks that might as well be a neon sign saying

NOTHING GOING ON HERE. She’s acting the dance well, and she’s got a lot of energy to her, but it comes across a bit like a 7 year old stamping round her living room to Union J rather than a jive.

It gets a standing ovation, which means I will officially be watching out for anything that doesn’t, because they are going to have to GO SOME. Bruce sniffles sadly to Abbey that he’s still got a cold, so he’s prepared himself a hot toddy

that he appears to have poured into a biscuit tin. BBC staff canteen cutbacks I guess.

Len starts for the judges, saying that it was like a Beatles medley going on on the dancefloor! He explains (you know, ish) that there was a lot of “Please Please Me!”, with a little bit of “Help!” at the end. And I don’t know about you Len, but when she was sat on that wall I think I caught a glimpse of her Octopus’ Garden. Anyway, Len liked her energy and her enthusiasm, but thought the technique needed work. Bruno follows

sucking on an invisible cornichon as he is wont to do. He thought the dance was like a fashion magazine photoshoot which, let’s face it, this is Bruno, so that’s the highest compliment he can give.

Craig pricks the bubble by droning that Abbey seemed to spend a lot of time sat on Penny Lane. A very different sort of photoshoot there. Her timing was out, her pas de bourrees were laboured, and she lacked attack. Over all this comes a cacophany of booing which can only be described as “Scouse Booing”. You can just tell. I always love when the friends and family get over-invested. It’s part of what made the latter days of Lisa Snowdon so…interesting. As he finishes the noise is joined by Len, yelling “COME ON CRAIG, IT’S LOVE WEEK!”

Head Judge, everyone. Darcey closes by telling us that jive is hard for tall people, and that Abbey should work on her core. Two generations of Strictly cliche working together there.

Up to the Tessanine they clomp,

which has been decorated straight out of a 99p store bless it. Tess asks Abbey if she thinks she’s done Liverpool proud, and Abbey says she hopes so. Aljaz, steeped in the traditions and speaking for the city, says she did. Tess then gets Aljaz to do his funny voice

the funny foreign man. Poor Sexy Frankenstein. All he want to do is dance, and experience emotion humans call love. Scores are in

28. Darcey yells her score “SEH-VUHN” like Len. Never mind Bruce, between this and TALL PEOPLE I CAN’T JIVE I think she’s the one who’s been infected.

Patrick Robotson & Anya Garnis dancing the LOVEtrot

Bruce tells us that this dance revolves around the idea that noble piano-player Patrick is trying to save poor misguided lounge singer Anya from being seduced by the glitzy neon sin of Las Vegas. Not that Anya is still overtheming everything you understand. Although…if Results Show Matt Goss is all that Vegas has to offer these days, I doubt it’ll take a lot of persuading.

VT time now, and Patrick says that he thinks that all the hard work he put into his tango last week paid off. Anya says that she’s very proud of Patrick.


Patrick’s Love Week presentation is about his dad, because this week he will be dancing his foxtrot to “Let There Be Love” by Nat King Cole. And his dad loves Nat King Cole. The VT editors, in an act of wanton cruelty choose to soundtrack the rest of Patrick’s speech with “Unforgettable”.

Just mean. Patrick tells us that Anya’s choreography for their foxtrot is really special, and he thinks that his dad would be really proud to see him dance it, but he lives in Jamaica now, and they don’t get Strictly there. Also the phone lines are really bad because Patrick keeps on calling up but the line always gets cut dead in the middle of his telling his dad just how exciting he’s finding Strictly. And/or he falls asleep.

Yes, here’s Anya, that vampy seductive Arlene Phillips lookalike, contemplating a life of sex and booze in Vegas. Fortunately Patrick is here to save her soul with a…foxtrot.

Many things in life have persuaded me at the last minute to change my mind and avert from a path of sin. My inner morality ; a sudden burst of inner strength ; his girlfriend watching from the corner. But never a foxtrot. Done well though, a foxtrot can be enchanting, romantic and memorable. Done by Patrick

slightly frozen-faced, stumbling occasionally and leaning away from Anya throughout, it’s not much of anything. Might be time to revise down your expectations from “first person over 40 to win” to “first black guy over 45 to make it past week 4 in a series that’s a Prime Number”. Or similar. At the end, it looks as though Patrick hasn’t so much lured Anya away from a life of sin in Vegas so much as he’s lured her to

a life of boinking on the piano. Which I could get behind. As long as I can bring a cushion. And there’s no tinkling on the ivories.

They go over to the judges (no standing O) and…some people get welcomed here. Can’t say as I remember who they are though. Not a star amongst them. Bruno starts, saying that the dance showed a correct, proper, and distinguished kind of love. So obviously, Bruno has no time for it. If he’s teeth aren’t going to rattle, don’t bother. Nice moments, but too restrained for him. Craig follows, calling out both the lack of swing and sway, and the “gapping issues”, but he says that Patrick just IS style

at Debenhams.

Darcey follows, saying that Patrick has brought panache and class to the show, and she wasn’t expecting that from him at all. (*BACKHANDED COMPLIMENT DETECTOR BLARES WILDLY*) She does think it was a bit safe though. To be fair Darcey, Patrick could come out naked and clutching a firework between his teeth and it’d come across as safe. That’s just how Patrick is. Len closes by saying that he liked the ease and the elegance, and thinks that Patrick has “style with a smile”.

Len totally slept through that entire routine didn’t he?

Up to the Tessanine they flow. Tess is already calling it her “Love Den”. Poor Vernon. She tells Patrick that it looks like he was channelling Gene Kelly. That’s no way to talk about Anya, Tess. Patrick coos appreciatively, and says that he’d be really grateful to be able to recreate anything Gene Kelly did.

Really Patrick? Anything at all? Don’t take that thought too far, we might all regret it. Tess asks Patrick what the dance meant to him. Patrick says it meant a lot. Tess asks Patrick if he’s loving Strictly. Patrick says he is. Scores are in


Hairy Dave & Karen Hauer dancing the Paso LOVELY

Apparently Bruce and Dave were chatting earlier about Spanish food, with Bruce expressing fondness for paella, tapas and the Benidorm Special, egg and chips. Reminds me of my favourite It Takes Two section that never was : “Things That Are Not Madrid, with Nancy Dell’Olio”.

In the VT, Dave says that he thinks his American Smooth last week was a great improvement on his cha cha but some of the judges negative comments really resonated with him. In fact Darcey reminded him of his mother used to tell him that he has arms like a monkey. I mean…of all the things of Dave’s to say is like a monkey’s and you start with the arms? OK.

Training and Dave says, not a little cod-smugly, that he think paso doble is going to be his

“signature dance”. In that it’s the dance easiest to take the piss out of and get away with it. Tit around in a foxtrot and you get Middle England’s hackles up. Stamp out a paso, and no-one cares, cause it’s Spanish and stuff innit? Call it the “Anton Latin” rule. Or alternatively it could be his dance because he gets to

skulk around in the cape like he’s in his dressing gown of a Saturday morning, scratching his nuts and reading the Telegraph. I feel that would be many men’s “signature dance”. Dave’s love?

Motorcycles. Karen really does suit being partnered up with a helmet (save your comments about Kevin please, I get very defensive where my Strictly Loves are concerned, until I pass them over the next series for a shiny new pro of course).

Anyway, it is a noble tradition every year that at Top 14 I skip whichever dancer features the least actual moving around, for timesaving purposes, to avoid trying to be funny about people trying to be funny (which is why nobody recaps sitcoms), and a little for the sake of my own sanity (AND OF COURSE, THE PURITY OF DAHNCE, ALWAYS THAT). Last year it was Jerry Hall. Before that it was Russell. Before that it was Widdy (a few times actually). This year?

Have a face

Have the scores

16, with Tess saying it got the biggest standing ovation in the history of the show and Len calling him the People’s Champion and let’s move on.

The Grin Twins dancing the WALTZ OF LOVE

I believe the phrase is “try following that”. With a waltz. Bruce reminds us that last week Fiona & Anton had “a little hiccup”. That’s one word for it.

In her VT, Fiona sighs that it was all going so well in her cha cha last week until she stepped off on the wrong leg. IE Anton’s leg. The third one. Anyway, this all ruined Anton’s carefully thought-out and considered Latin choreography (100 seconds of bum-grinding and a disco dip). Fiona sighs that she thinks the judges were very generous and she’s grateful for that. She plans to move ahead with the words of Bruno ringing in her ears


Her Love Week Speech begins with Fiona pondering out loud about what love is. I think love might be

agreeing to appear on camera whilst your mum does this. (Don’t ask what that finger’s supposed to represent, I’m sure we all know). Anyway, Fiona thinks love is about family, children and your husband, so TOUGH TITS all you single people. Get back to your Haagen-Dazs and leave Love Week alone.

Anyway, as well as being Love Week, this week is also Fiona’s birthday. For a special treat, Anton has arranged for her husband to come and meet them in a cafe for brunch and cake. Fiona’s husband CLEARLY does not want to be on camera, so I will respect his wishes for the remainder of this recap.


They’re like the little couple on top of the blobby badly made Wedding Cake aren’t they? They’re dancing their waltz to “True Love” from High Society, and really this whole dance could not have been more set up as a little gift to Anton with a little bow on it made out of tweed (within the remit of what this show will allow Anton to do, obviously). Apart from how the blazer is

a mite too long for him but…well, precautions. It’s all very gentle, graceful, charming and powder-pink. She’s not entirely steady on her feet yet, but I’m sure that’ll come by the time comes for the foxtrot and the quickstep and whatever else her good dances are going to be. The only real negative I have personally is that the balletic elements do occasionally feel a little

…exaggerated (seriously love, he’s not a ballet bar), but seriously, when little old women from Kentucky describe things as “just darling”, this is what they’re talking about. This series does feel a bit like Anton’s victory lap in the same way last year did for Flavia.

Over to the judges they go, without a standing ovation (rude). Darcey starts the commentary, by telling Fiona that she’s turned into Grace Kelly. Pre car-crash, you’d hope. She does thinks that she needs to open up her neck more.

I love how Darcey demonstrates all her advice physically, often in a way where you look at it and go “…well if I end up looking like that I’m probably not going to, no offence love”. Len follows up by telling Fiona that her time on Strictly has been a lot like Snakes & Ladders. Last week she got a snake.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. If Len did that on purpose, then I know where my vote for Best Judge is going in this year’s Monkies. Obviously I should base it on constructive criticism and that, but last series I gave it to Bruno for yelling “FANNY CLUB!” so…

Anyway, this week Fiona got a ladder, well done Fiona. For those wondering, a “snake” is worth a 5, whereas a “ladder” is worth a 7. Whole world of difference there. Bruno follows up by telling Fiona that her dance was very classy, and calling her Princess Fiona which…is less of a compliment than he imagines. Craig closes by saying that Fiona’s chest needs to be higher (way to give a girl a complex, Craig) and that she overbalanced at one point, but the whole thing was extremely elegant.

Before they hurry off to the Tessanine, Bruce asks Fiona if she had a lovely birthday

a bit like he’s talking to a child clutching a party bag with cake still all round their mouth. Which I guess, to Bruce, she is. Fiona says she did, and Bruce announces that today is his wife’s birthday. She’s 53. Which makes my joke about Bruce seeing Fiona as a child that much more awkward let’s move on. Ahem. Once they’re on the Tessanine, Tess asks her if getting the dance right was the best possible birthday present, and Fiona says that it was. In the background Abbey thinks

“worrever, Pete got me a yacht once”. Scores are in


Rachel Riley & Pasha Kovalev dancing the cha cha CHARMING

I love that Rachel’s journey to Latin Competence was “put some extensions in”. Still more of a journey than Darren Gough ever had (*bitter*). Apparently, as she is a hostess on Countdown, Rachel asked Bruce earlier in the week if he’s any good at English. You would have to ask wouldn’t you? Bruce then splurges out a comedy display of bad grammar that would make Alesha Dixon blush. (Congrats on the baby Alesha!)

In her VT, Rachel says that she knew the salsa wasn’t going to be her best dance, but she went out there and tried really hard and had fun, and to be honest she thinks it was a bit mean when Craig called her a slug.

Can you have a female woobie? I guess we’ll find out if she gazes sadly out of a few more rainy windowpanes.

Training now, and Rachel tells us what her love is. Her love is “Strictly Come Dancing”. In fact her 21st birthday party was themed around Strictly, and that was before she even knew she was going to be on it, so she’s definitely not just sucking up. IT’S TRUE LOVE!

All the old people left early, she didn’t recognise half the guests, someone scored every five minutes or so, someone who tried FAR too hard to be funny hung around for FAR too long, there were a bunch of “professional” women hanging around not wearing an awful lot of clothes, there was a lot (A LOT) of alcohol involved and at the end a weird old man who thought he owned the place ran in yelling at everyone to BACK OFF, BACK OFF as he shooed them out the door. What a night.

Rachel goes on to insist that her first wedding dance was “Strictly themed” and I’m not trying to be cynical but I suspect this theme went as far as “it was a man and a woman dancing”.


Does any man on this show love wearing braces and a vest as much as Pasha does? No, no they do not. Rachel is dancing her cha cha to “When Love (Week) Takes Over” by Kelly Rowlands and it’s basically her salsa from last week with (mercifully) less armography and exaggerated bum-shaking and (not so mercifully) more attempts at

come hither faces to Pasha and

the world in general. It’s not hugely exciting and I’m always a bit bored when we’re still getting Week 1 Cha Chas in Week 3, but every time I feel negatively about Rachel I just remember the hot flaming trainwreck mess she was in the Launch Show dance, and remember that she of all the female celebs bar maybe Deborah represents most that whole “learning how to dance” thing this show is supposed to be about, so…well done. The Nice Young Lady Journey continues.

No standing ovation comes, ah well, and Len starts for the judges by telling Rachel that she certainly got her hips moving but occasionally she loses control. Yes Len, that was WILD. I was worried I might lose an eye. Bruno follows by giggling that “my little Rachel is starting to feel the tingle”.

But that’s enough about his private life. Anyway, he likes how Rachel was using her assets (/shaking her bubbies) to her advantage in that dance.

Craig follows up, by saying that he didn’t like Rachel’s “look of concentration” during the dance. That’s just her sexy face Craig. She’s working with what she’s got. Rachel protests that she was just concentrating on Pasha, as Pasha

conjures up as sweet and gormless a face as he can muster. Well it worked on me. Anyway, apparently Craig just wanted her to smile. What is it with Craig and smiling this series? And what about party latin demands smiling anyway? Natalie didn’t bloody smile at me through my tv, she looked like she wanted to kick me in the cossacks, and I loved her for it. Oh and Craig also didn’t like how Rachel plonked herself. Can’t say as I noticed, myself. Darcey closes by congratulating her on improving her arms from last week and also appearing confident. Well…more confident anyway.

Up to the Tessanine they shimmy, where Rachel immediately starts honking away that she was really worried about getting the cha cha immediately after the salsa (or the salsa after the cha cha or the salsambacha after the sambchamambo or whatever) she was worried, but it seems to have gone ok. Tess asks her if it’s difficult to go out there and dance, not being from a performance background, and Rachel says it’s hard to be sultry and dirty when she’s normally a really happy, bubbly, innocent person.

Pasha’s face suggests this is not a Rachel he recognises from the training room. The idea of Rachel as a SECRET TERMAGANT does kind of amuse me it has to be said. Scores are in


Mark Benton & Iveta Lukosiute dancing the AMOREican Smooth

Her cheekbones terrify me.

(Iveta Sidebar : Before the series started, they put a “meet the new pros” clip up on the website. One of the questions was the usual “how would your friends describe you in three words” corporate training day bumf. Kevin said “Normal. Northern. Lad”. Janette said “Funny. Loud. Passionate.” Iveta said “COLD, HARD, LITHUANIAN WOMAN”. This is why Iveta is my favourite newbie).

In his VT, Mark tells us that last week’s dance felt like it went really quickly, and he had tunnel vision. I think that might have been his shirt warping his vision. And his perception of time/reality as we know it. Mark says it was a real compliment to get praise from someone as experienced and wise as Len. He’ll learn. We close with Mark giving Iveta a cheeky bum-bounce and Iveta

not reacting at all <3.

Training now, and Mark tells us that Iveta doesn’t appear to know it’s Love Week, as we see her snitting “DO NOT WALK INTO MY SPACE!” when he messes up. I do love the idea of randomly not telling Iveta when a theme week is coming up and see what happens. I doubt you’d notice the difference. Anyway, Mark says that it being Love Week has spontaneously got him thinking about love. More specifically, the love he has for

his wonderful John Lewis kitchen set. Oh yeah, and his kids. Mark tells us that they range from 15 to 8. Don’t ask him which one’s which though. The little girl one’s probably the youngest. She looks about 8 *shrug* In training, Iveta asks Mark if any of his kids are coming to watch him dance, and Mark says that he’s bringing his son along. He’s even

brought a new suit. Wow, that’s more effort than Wardrobe have gone to for Mark all series.


And yet another insight into the life of Iveta Lukosiute : Life Thief. She’s got the great big camera for spy pictures, and the “autograph book” so she can copy his signature for later forgery. The spy camera also works for

temporarily blinding your target so you can nick his credit cards. Crafty Iveta.

They’re dancing to “It Must Be Love” (the Madness version) and Iveta’s version of love is apparently

stalking someone until they give in. As a routine, it’s very sweeping and glamorous, although Mark is maybe slightly over-doing the pie-eyed romantic a bit.

Unless Iveta’s camera’s like that sex-spray from Torchwood, in which case it all makes sense. He’s clearly really, really deeply concentrating on his hands and what they’re doing throughout, which is a little off-putting, but ultimately he’s just a very charming dancer, and I can’t help but root him on. Also the ending of the routine is amazing in its randomness. Mark runs off behind the doors

and then

comes back out again. Brilliant. Any other pro would have had him come out again with a bouquet of flowers, or a giant life sized photo, or SOMETHING. Even Aliona would have him reveal he’s a vampire or something. Iveta? No. Just two grown adults playing peek-a-boo.

Such a bizarre human being.

No standing ovation (*pout*) apart from, I’m guessing,

his wife (d’awww). Bruno starts by saying that he loved the storytelling and the feeling of the dance, but for an American Smooth there were a few rough passages. And if there’s anyone that knows about rough passages, it’s Bruno. Craig follows, and if you didn’t know what Craig was going to pick on, you either don’t watch this show, or only previously watched it when Arlene was here, when it was her thing, before Craig inherited it from her along with the crate of whiskey and the…toys.


Darcey follows, and she didn’t really like it either. She think it lacked the flair of glamour of an American Smooth. Iveta’s face reads

“screw you lady, I have plenty of glamour. I painted over my nipples with taramasalata for this gig, I don’t need your hassle as well”. Darcey also thinks that Mark dances really small for such a…tall gentleman. Natalie Cassidey definition of “tall” being used there. Len closes off by saying “IT’S MADNESS REALLY ISN’T IT?” then treading all over the joke by saying “MADNESS! MADNESS! LIKE THE SONG, WHICH WAS DONE BY MADNESS! MADNESS!”

Is he auditioning for the hosting gig? Anyway, Len really likes how Mark captures the spirit of every single dance. You will be surprised to learn that under Len’s definition “Latin” counts as a single dance, with a single spirit. The spirit of FORRUN.

Up to the Tessanine they glide, where Tess beams that they can always count on Mark to tell a story. Just like you can always count on Tess to act like a human Daily Express, as she coos over Mark’s son in his NEW SUIT in the front row.

It’s a wonder she doesn’t run down and pinch his cheeks and tell him how much he’s grown from the NEVER she’s met him before and ask if he’s got a girlfriend yet JUST KIDDING, you don’t have to tell Auntie Tess if you don’t want to. Mark mutters to Tess out of the corner of his mouth about how mortified his son is looking until she stops. Scores are in


Big Ben Cohen & Kristina Ruhanoff dancing the rumBELOVED

Oh good, an undone bow tie. We all know how I feel about those, right? Bruce informs us that Ben only has 50% hearing. And when Julien stands on the other side of him on the Tessanine for an interview, the other ear-drum will give out as well.

In his VT, Ben tells us that he completely forgot to emote during his routine last week. In fact the only time he did smile was when he needed to, to try to

cover up a huge mistake. In retrospect it’s…kind of obvious isn’t it?

Training now and

Ben is showing his usual motility. Kristina, with all the commitment and thespian ability of someone in a school’s information film about VD, asks Ben what love means to him. This prompts Ben to have a small existential crisis about missing his family so he

goes and has a lie on the floor at home instead. Ben, you’re supposed to be rehearsing for the rumba, not contemporary. GET UP. Ben’s wife then gives a short interview to the nation.

“As a husband Ben ticks all the boxes. He’s great with the kids, he cooks, he cleans, he never pees on the loo seat, and he makes me gasm so hard my head spins round, U JELUS LADIES?” Something like that anyway. The rest of the VT is devoted to Ben putting his kids to bed and them both lowing “WE WUVV DADDY AND MUMMY AND WE MISS DADDY WHEN HE’S DAHNCIN!”

Ball’s back in your court Ashley. GAME ON.

We cut from this to daddy

walking up behind Kristina as she pouts into the mirror and then

ripping her clothes off (boobs first because, after all, this IS Kristina). It…well, as ever Phoebe Buffay said it better than I could. It’s a juxtaposition, let’s put it that way.

It’s clear from the first move that this is going to be a different sort of dance for Ben, as he fair SPRINTS backwards to ease the journey of

Kristina’s hyperdrive vagina from one side of the floor to the other. If he’d done that at the speed he moved in his cha cha, we’d still be there half an hour later. Kristina probably would have had to have made the “THIS VEHICLE IS REVERSING” beep boops over the top of it as he went. He even moves his

flipping hips at one point. IT’S A BREAKTHROUGH! I mean, as a dance I’m not 100% convinced (as someone said in the comments, there’s points where he’s jogging it like it’s a training exercise in which Kristina is the rugby ball) but it’s more than I ever expected from him based on the last two weeks. Also I like this move from Kristina

I believe it’s called the “Try And Get Another Girlfriend Who Can Do This Calzaghe, You Arse”. Not so much on the bit where Ben has to pull out Kristina’s hairpin and he flumps his fingers at it like he’s trying to pick out a daddy long legs.


It gets a standing ovation and Bruce coos “oooh Ben & Kristina, look what you’ve done” like Kristina’s just been successfully potty trained or something. He then starts sighing that Ben has a “certain way about him” and then Ben grins

“do you like me?” and puts the moves on Bruce. Bruce then of course does the Gay Panic shuffle and starts telling Ben not to do THAT. Not with all the women on his side. Yes Bruce, with the VT of his adorable children and his wife basically waving a carving knife at the British female population, THAT’S what’ll put them off.

Anyway, we move straight to Craig, who drones that he wants to love Ben like Bruce does

(what Universe is this show even taking place in at this point? A bisexual choreographer is scrapping with a heterosexual octogenarian married to Miss World for the love of a heterosexual rugby back, who’s just danced the rubmabumba with a Russian nutcase (who shagged a tiny Italian lothario in a cupboard on tour) who’s just split up with a Welsh middleweight boxing champion and whose professional dancing partner is a Muscle Mary from Ipswich who talks like an Australian and who has just broken off an affiancement that was born on a helicopter with Lisa Riley watching. It makes Sunset Beach look non-convoluted.) and erm…HE DID. He thinks Ben danced well this week. Ben then sprints up to Craig and kisses him and Bruce acts put out some more and then Ben notices one of his shirt buttons is undone and starts giggling about how he’s undressing for Craig already and good grief can we have something uneventful happen now, my head’s starting spin.

There we go. Darcey liked the connection.

Len’s next and he says

“it’s nice to see a big butch bloke”.

Oh, no, wait, there’s more. It’s nice to see a big butch bloke being gentle and getting in touch with his feminine side and all that palaver. Of course you’d never catch LEN doing all that flowers and chocolates rubbish but…you know…nice. Bruno closes by saying it was like watching a series of erotic freezers.

That Bruno, always been a fan of Smeg. Oh, no, wait, FRIEZES. EROTIC FRIEZES. My bad.

Up on the Tessanine, as if Ben hasn’t already been pawed enough, he gets jumped by

THE CLAW. SHE’S COMING FOR YOUR GUNZ BEN! LOOK OUT! She cackles that Ben managed a Strictly first! Making Craig blush! You’re forgetting that time Arlene forgot which dressing room was whose and decided to take a shower, Tess. Easily done. She then starts babbling on about how poor rugby guys can’t be expected to get in touch with their feminine side and yes, we almost managed to get through a BLOKERUMBA without someone saying how hard it is for the poor male celebrities etc etc thank you Tess. Ben just says that it was interesting. Scores are in

28. Fun Fact : the only male in Strictly history to get higher than a 6 for a rumba from Craig and not make the Final 2 of the entire series was Gethin Jones. Quite something to live up to there.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor & Brendan Cole dancing the SAMBA OF LOOOOOOOOOOVE

Apparently Sophie made Bruce promise that, just because she’s a singer, Bruce wouldn’t use it as an excuse to just start randomly singing.

Like he ever needed an excuse. He blarts out the theme tune to The Generation Game, which has the bonus of being a better song than anything Sophie ever did. (OH NO HE DI’NT)

In her VT, Sophie’s Charleston starts to take on a mythic quality, as Sophie talks mystically about how all the stars aligned and the fates came together and that Faustian Pact that Brenda made wherein he had to sell his soul and put up with Lulu before getting another contender finally paid off.

SHE DAHNCED. Sophie tells us that she just tried to enjoy the fact that it was happening, and that she scored 36, because she knows it might well not ever happen again.

Don’t worry about it love, I’m sure Brenda can sacrifice another goat for you. He’s got plenty.

Training now, and Sophie tells us that she’ll be dancing this week to “All Night Long”, by Lionel Ritchie. It’s special to her, because it was the first dance at her wedding. Her wedding to

this man, who the show presents popping up in the doorway like Nosferatu, just as Sophie and Brenda are practicing their pelvic thrusts.


With her husband there, Sophie reminisces to Brenda about her wedding, and how she got a choreographer in to put together a little routine for her. ZOMG DIRTY RINGUH! SHE’S DONE CHOREOGRAPHY AND PUBLIC PERFORMANCE OF DANCE BEFORE, BAN HER. Obviously this is a neat psychological move on Sophie’s part, because you can now guarantee Brenda’s wheels are spinning in his head to make sure what he choreographs is 20 times better and 50 times more AUTHENTICALLY 80S. I wouldn’t worry Brenda

it doesn’t look like you’re competing against much.

Sophie’s husband stands at the side sighing about how much he’s in love with his wife, so Brenda (because he’s Brenda) demonstrates to him how his wife’s bottom is shortly going to be

brushing up against Brenda’s digeridoo. Of course Sophie’s husband gets all “HA HA HA HA PLEASE DON’T DO THAT!” about it, which is kind of both hilarious and sweet and very very English all at the same time. In the movie of Sophie’s glorious Working Title march to Strictly victory, Sophie’s husband will be played by Domhnall Gleason.


where Artem’s lampposts have gone disco. The music plays and Sophie takes to samba

pretty much as you’d expect her to. Which is to say, skittish, wriggly, coltish and all shook-loose refinement. Brenda’s kept the tempo up and the mood playful so you’re never looking at her doing the same thing for too long, which is probably wise – the routine’s as much of a pick n mix as her dress, but it’s fun, and less awkward than it could have been.

Apart from the part where they’ve given her a skirt that’s too short for skirt-wafting, so it just looks a bit like she’s airing out a fart. Oh and there’s fewer rolls in her samba rolls than there are in the Strictly buffet after Lisa Riley’s hit it, but again, there’s three attempts of them, so off we pop to

the end-pose. Where the lighting unfortunately makes it look a bit like someone smashed an egg on the floor. GLAMOUR.

It gets a standing ovation, and I ponder on the irony of the fact that it is in Love Week that Sophie has obliterated the “family” on her tattoo by covering over it with gaudy sequins. SYMBOLOGY. Darcey starts for the judges, saying that she loved the choreography, but she felt like Sophie brought a cool party vibe when she needed to see a sexy carnival vibe. And let’s not forget that Darcey saw a sexy wild uninhibited Bacchanalian vibe in Ali Bastian. So it doesn’t take a lot. Len’s next, and he felt that whilst Sophie did lack toning (well yes, she’s paler than a post-draining vampire victim) she also performed a really wide range of samba steps, which Len liked. In fact Len refers to them as

“his greatest hits”. The look of bafflement on everyone’s face at Len referring to samba moves as his “greatest hits” is quite something. You’d expect Len’s greatest hits to involve fleckerls and knees-ups and cornering SPORTSMEN backstage and asking for their autographs. In the shower. Len then reels off the list of step names and Sophie knows what all of them are, the GREAT BIG STRICTLY NERD.

Bruno is next and he tells Sophie that her samba was very sophisticated and effortless and she looked great doing it, and Craig closes by saying he wanted more double-bounce action but he really loved the whole thing anyway.

Seriously, SUCH a nerd.

Up to the Tessanine they bounce and yup

still a nerd. Sophie huffs that she was so nervous before that started that she thinks she scared Brenda. Oh Sophie. Brenda was dance partners with Fiona Phillips. Nothing scares him any more. Tess asks Sophie which was more nerve-wracking : the first dance at Sophie’s wedding, when she was surrounded by family and loved ones, messing about on the happiest day of her life with the man she adored, or doing the hardest latin dance in front of 10 million people clucking about her skinny legs and lack of technique.

I know Sophie. Sometimes we all wonder how she comes up with them as well. Scores are in


Team Spackle dancing the ROMANTIC jive

I fight ever more each week with my urge to call her Ronette Ranrara, like I’m Scooby Doo. Bruce tells us that Janette & Julien have been described by the judges as being “a pair of pocket rockets”. That went off and burnt one of your testicles.

VT now, and Julien sighs that the tango was a really hard dance for him to master, and he’s so glad that he’s now shot of it. He then says

“I am more of an orchid” without any pause or self-consciousness at all bless him. That must take some…Julienness. He says that he kind of knew he was going to be in the Bottom 2 (although, obviously not enough to not bluster all over Loose Women and It Takes Two about how it was wrong) but what he really hated was having to go through the motions of that bloody dance again. You and me both Julien.

Training now and the love of Julien’s life?

His handbag dog. Julien’s favourite thing about his handbag dog is that he can make it do tricks. Julien’s whole “41 year old puppet child emperor of a decaying European state in a Gothic novel” persona gets deeper and deeper doesn’t it. Janette fortunately seems like she’s also a fan of Julien’s handbag dog.

In fact she looks a bit like she’s contemplating a partner swap. Let’s face it, the dog probably would have more chance of winning. Then this happens

Oooh trampettes! I haven’t seen a trampette on this show since Tracy Beaker’s tango. They both jump up and down and this is apparently supposed to be making Julien springier for his jive, but I think it might more be that Janette hasn’t got a clue what to do with this death-spiral of a partnership she’s in, so why not?

Hence erm…

The Blues Brothers tribute. In Love Week. One of the few films in Hollywood history that doesn’t just shoe-horn in a romantic interest for no reason, unless you count Carrie Fisher trying to murder them both with napalm. Although Janette’s favourite film is apparently Ace Ventura so…who knows how she interprets cinema *sniff*. Anyway if you didn’t know that this dance was going to indulge all of Julien’s most

Julien instincts, then shame on you. He pretty much spends 100 seconds hoofing it round the dancefloor kicking at random, pointing at demons, mouth wide open, having a ball. In fact, often it seems like he’s trying to kick with both legs at the same time, which I guess is what happens when you’re taking most of your cues in the training room from someone with four.

SHAZAM! For all Julien’s protestations that he’s an orchid…I think that was probably his dance. Such as it was.

Over to the judges they go (no standing ovation, for those keeping track with your spreadsheets) and Julien immediately thrusts his hips at Bruce and yells that he’s been

DANCING IN HIS SLEEP! Somehow Bruce doesn’t bat back the response about sleeping during Julien’s dances. Len starts by grinning that he really enjoyed that. He thinks Julien had a wild, “devil-may-care” attitude to the whole thing, which was really appealing. Yes, nothing says wild like

Dr Hamela’s prayer-hands of thanks. Bruno also thinks that Julien really got into the spirit of the dance, and the character of a Blues Brother – a dangerous wanted criminal with a love of the music of the bayou.

OK BRUNO. I’m guessing Julien finally gave him some of his stash back.

Craig next, and he says that, to be honest, the energy was a bit much for him. It was like a three year old at a dance recital after 10 bags of sweets. Is this Michelle Williams’ “sugar addiction” again? You’re fooling nobody Craig. That wasn’t fuelled by liquorice dib-dabs. As if to prove this, Julien then starts singing (?)

about how he’s asked Craig to “love him specially tonight”. I think you’ll have to get in the queue behind Ben Cohen for that one, Jules. Darcey closes by saying that “the only thing” (LOL) that would have polished that performance would have been if he’d pointed his feet a bit more. “Pointing your feet a bit more” apparently being worth a whole 5 marks from Darcey.

Up to the Tessanine they exhaust, and Julien starts honking on about dancing in his sleep again. Anton

wears a smile so forced I almost start to wonder if he might serve as Princess Anne’s double for when she has to do the line at the Royal Variety. Janette throws in a little serious line about how much Julien’s work-ethic has improved this week and Julien promises that he is trying his best. Ah well. Scores are in


Susanna Reid & Kevin Clifton dancing the Viennese Schmaltz

Bruce introduces Kevin as “Kevin From Grimsby”. I feel like this is one of those partnerships that’s starting to become slightly more about the pro than it is about the contestant. I feel like, for Susanna’s sake, this might not be such a bad thing. What also might not be a bad thing for Susanna is if they don’t set the make-up gun to “panto”. No Brucie joke, probably because SUSANNA’S EVIL BIASED BBC PAYMASTERS WHO ARE RIGGING HER WAY TO THE WIN won’t let him. *dons tin foil hat*

In her VT, Susanna invests the thought of only ever getting to dance her beloved tango once with all the seriousness and anguish of a story about Syria.

You can do it in the final if you really want, Susanna. Or just for fun. Maybe you and Kevin can have a 10 year reunion on Children In Need or something and you can do it around whoever the weather hunks are then. Don’t worry. Backstage, Susanna asks Kevin if he’s willing to dance with her again next week. He says yes. Would that there was an actual rule that the pros were allowed to say “no”. Or do swapsies. The female pros could have bought a one week timeshare in Harry Judd.

Love Week Update now and

I think we all know what I think this section should be a tribute to. Susanna though thinks that her love week love should be *sigh* FOOTBALL. Specifically Crystal Palace Whatever. Not even the most hardened tribalist football hooligan loves the game as much as I love Kevin’s glasses. I would smash up a bar in Marseilles for them any day of the week. Anyway, this love of football comes in handy when their training room apparently proves too small to hold the sweep and majesty of Kevin Clifton, so in response Susanna books out the entirety of Selhurst Park to train in.

Woman of the people, right there. Anyway, apparently all the extra space and freedom of movement really helps Susanna connect with the elegance and glamour of the Viennese Waltz.

Doesn’t it always? Just once I want one of the celebs to emerge from the football stadium or the steam room or the ashtanga yoga yurt and say “well that was a waste of fucking time wasn’t it?”.

Nice scarf though. Not Fierce, but it’ll do.


Susanna and Kevin are not sadly dancing to “Glad All Over” or even Terry Venebles’ seminal cover of “Bye Bye Blackbird” but to “Annie’s Song”. John Denver’s romanticist ballad about how the love of a woman fills him up like the raw power of nature. The beauty of a night in the forest, the flowers in springtime, a storm in the desert and a sleepy blue ocean all being represented in the BBC studio by

one tree wedged in the corner as someone lobs dried-up dead leaves at the camera. I swear, if they’d given Susanna to Aliona like SHE DESERVED she would have had her waltzing through the flipping jungle in a pith helmet as buckets of water were lobbed at them by Bruno and Darcey (dressed as vampires, natch).

Susanna’s Viennese Waltz?

is being milked for all the old-school glamour it can be. I like it – Susanna’s never going to be the lightest of movers (it’s why I liked her jive so much – light movers in the jive tend to fly off round the room) so it’s best to go for the razzamatazz and the show of a dance and I think she gets it. She glides nicely, she rises and falls nicely, she grins nicely. It just works.

Over to the judges they go, and it gets a standing ovation, and one of those standing ovations that Bruce gets weirdly aggressive about. Like “LOOK SUSANNA, YOU UNGRATEFUL SOW, THEY’RE ALL APPLAUDING FOR YOU! LOOK! YOU’LL NEVER EXPERIENCE LOVE LIKE THIS IN YOUR LIFE EVER AGAIN, WHY ARE YOU NOT ON YOUR KNEES THANKING THEM FOR EVEN NOTICING YOUR SILLY DANCING? LOOK!”. That sort of aggression. Bruce is odd sometimes.

Bruno starts for the judges, telling Susanna that she’s really versatile, and always lovely to watch. Coincidentally also that’s what Bruno has on his grindr profile. Craig meanwhile tells her that her chin’s too far down and she does funny things with her arms when she extends them.

Kevin looks outraged on behalf of his woman, and the audience boo lustily. Craig protests “I’m only trying to make it better for you darling”. Oddly enough, that’s what HE has on his grindr profile.

Darcey follows, praising Susanna for her technique, particularly her footwork. But she does wish that Susanna would do

THIS instead of

THIS. Or maybe the other way around. *shrug* Thanks Darcey. Bruce and Len banter next over whether Viennese Waltz is a difficult dance (guess what? IT TOTALLY IS!) and whether Len is in LOVE with Susanna’s dancing in this, LOVE Week (guess what? HE TOTALLY IS!).

Up to the Tessanine they float before Susanna (pretends to) faint (HI ASHLEY!), where Tess greets her by calling her “Miss Thing”. No really, she’s actually talking like a drag queen circa 2003 this series. It’s a new Tess-setting, but I’ll take it. She tells Susanna that Len was in love with her Viennese Waltz. Susanna sighs that she’s in love with Len.

Fiona will fight you for him.

Tess asks Kevin and Susanna how hard it was pretending to be romantic with someone they’re just such great matey matey banter mates with, and Kevin snarks that apparently Susanna found it very hard because every time she tried looking him in the eyes she started giggling. You know what the answer to that would be Kevin? ALWAYS WEAR THE GLASSES. Don’t ask me the logic behind it, just do it. Susanna for her part smiles that it’s easy to be in love with Kevin…for two minutes.

That’s all I need baby *cracks knuckles*. Scores are in


Vanessa Feltz & James Jordan dancing the tanGORGEOUS

I guess this is what happens when you get your hair-stylists from the doggy salon. Bruce jokes that he heard Vanessa when he was in the bath this morning. He’s no idea how she got in his house.

That wasn’t your house Bruce, that was the BBC canteen…

VT time now, and we remember Vanessa Feltz’s Emotional Journey Into The Unknown World Of The Purity Of Dahnce. She says the experience was like floating on air and being the star of your own private musical.

Hamalot? The Cryin’ King? Girl Crazy? Oklahogodmakeitstop?

Training now, and James tells us that he’s slightly concerned about the tango, because it’s proving a bit too fast for Vanessa. I think when a TANGO is the dance that’s a bit too fast for someone then we might have issues. If it was a jive then I could see it, but all that really goes on in a tango is that you walk about a bit then swing your head from side to side (don’t question me dance experts, I’ve been watching this show for 10 years now, I KNOW). Anyway, as a distraction, the LOVEWEEK LOVE of Vanessa’s life swings by.

It’s that guy from Phats & Small! I believe this one is Phats. Vanessa tells us that the real reason she wants to do Strictly is because Phats is such a fantastic dancer and she wanted to be able to keep up with him.

Vanessa and Phats sit around and

suck face and isn’t it very nice to see such a nice couple finding such heartfelt love a second time around? (*hammers “fast forward button like he’s playing Whack-A-Mole*)


I honestly can’t remember anything more embarrassing on the head of anyone who has ever done this show, apart from on Bruce, obviously, and we’re all had 576 years to get used to that. Vanessa’s tango is being danced to “Lay All Your Love On Me” by ABBA, and the story is that Vanessa has been stood up for a date with James as he is off cavorting with

erm…disreputable women. Vanessa

SEES THIS THROUGH THE RESTAURANT WINDOW, which shows that James is about as skillful and subtle an adulterer as you’d expect him to be. Anyway, Vanessa does

Pissed-Off Vanessa face, and it’s again a bit less intimidating for the fact that she’s dressed up like the missing fourth Powerpuff Girl, and then they do a tango and she’s not very good at it. James is pulling her around the floor, she can’t get the head-turns to sync up with his and

the acting that blossomed out of her last week has been replaced by a wall-eyed gorp and the odd gnashing of teeth. Who would have thought Vanessa better at faking romance than faking raw animal hatred? We’ve at least learnt that about her in her short stint here. Also the entire dance appears to be taking place on

the Hellmouth. Which I hear isn’t a very good restaurant anyway so I’m not sure what she’s being so pissy about.

Over to the judges they tromp (no standing ovation) and Craig starts by informing Vanessa that she had a broken wrist throughout the dance. I think she’d notice if she did Craig. Just saying. She also had her head in the wrong place, messed up the whole of the first chorus and lacked focus. Vanessa then launches into another speech which might as well be her launching an entire roll of word-a-day toilet-paper at his face.

Which would have had the added bonus of being far more amusing as well. BOINK. Darcey meanwhile liked the fire in Vanessa but “it’s not about liking the smell of your man, you’re not supposed to like the smell of him”.

Apparently this is a reference to Vanessa’s dodgy head placement, but I like the implication that all the male winners of this show STANK. I mean, we could all get the whiff of Lynx, baked beans and crusty socks coming off Louis Smith’s teenage aura through our tv screen, but it’s nice to have it confirmed.

Len is next and says there was a lot of content in the routine but he found the whole thing a little bit decaf coffee. By which he means there was a lack of bite and attack. It certainly didn’t want for froth on the top (*eyes to Vanessa’s ‘do*). Bruno finishes by saying he liked Vanessa’s playing the battleaxe, but the footwork was poor, and she lost momentum after the beginning.

Up to the Tessanine they flee, and James starts immediately, saying that if there’s one thing you can say about Vanessa Feltz, it’s that she really sells it.

Kristina looks put out for some reason. Like “EXCUSE YOU, NOBODY SELLS IT LIKE KRISTINA! MY BOOBS WERE OUT 5 SECONDS IN!”. He says he’s also glad that Len noticed the level of content in the routine. Like “there was a lot of content” isn’t the “…well the important thing is that you TRIED” of the Strictly panel. Tess asks Vanessa if she’s falling in love with being in the ballroom, and Vanessa

emotes that she is. Oh well. Scores are in

20. James at this point decides to announce that Strictly is about taking someone who has never danced before and improving them.

Taylor Dawson-Ashley & Ola Jordan dancing the HANDSOMEba

Bruce tells us that samba is “the party dance” (along with cha cha, salsa, jive, and occasionally paso doble depending on how drunk you get) and that for this party, Ashley’s playing host, and Ola’s just going to “DROP IN”.

A hurr hurr hurr. Apparently we will see what this means in a minute. I hope it means that Ola bursts in drunk two-thirds of the way through the dance with some guy she picked up down the park and her own bottle of cider. Don’t mind her. Now can she just borrow your bedroom?

In his VT, Ashley thanks Darcey for giving him a 9,

like a nice young man, and hopes that he can improve on his American Smooth. Or, failing that, get his tits out.

Training, and Ashley says that samba is his nightmare, because it involves moving his hips, and he can’t do it. He does a little demonstration of his technique and…yup, looks like two kittens rolling round in a sack. To help, Ola’s brought in a prop.

It’s some Essex girls ear-rings, so Ashley can wine it like Amy Childs! Ok, no, it’s hula hoops. For one glorious moment I think Ola’s going to stand there whirling one around each hypnoboob (ALL HAIL THE HYPNOBOOBS) but instead Ashley uses them to get his bum working.

Or not. Ashley disgruntedly comes to the conclusion that Ola just brought it into the training room so she could show off, twirling around doing it perfectly all by herself. Are you talking about the hula hoop or you, Ashley?

Anyway, Ashley says that all this has brought home to him what Love Week should be all about.



Now this is Love Week. Everyone else, tip-toeing around the edges, plonking shrubbery down and reminiscing about Nat King Cole? Watch and learn.

Slash your celebrity’s shirt to the waist, and get the harness out. They’re dancing their samba to “Love Is In The Air” (of COURSE they are) but a really really cheesy lounge music version which has been slowed down and has added bongos (!!!). Ola descends on her love swing

Ashley points, and we are READY FOR LURRRRRRRRRRVE. It’s incredibly cheesy, a little bit sleazy and I have to admit that I was a bit premature when I said that I saw Ola’s starfish.

Close, but no cigar. They both bounce around wiggling their hips and licking their lips and shimmying their shoulders and it’s just perfect. It’s like having a whole Valentine’s Day display in Clinton’s fall on your face. I want it reprised in the finale with a marching band, and at the end a biplane flies past with “MARRY ME” on it, before Ashley gets down on one knee and proposes to his baby-mama. I also want Ola to be dressed as Cupid.


It gets a standing ovation, although one woman’s not impressed.

One COLD HARD LITHUANIAN WOMAN. (*spit*) As they wait for the noise to die down, Bruce asks Ola if she’s feeling well, because he’s heard she had a bit of a cold this week. Jeez, what is, Strictly or a doctor’s waiting room? Darcey starts, telling Ashley that she liked it, in the tones of someone who has been told that this is the contestant they’re pretending to fancy this year. (They should have got Zoe to do it. Apparently she wouldn’t need to pretend…) She liked the passion, and the performance, but thinks he should have lifted his eye-level up a bit more. Len follows by saying that Ashley’s voltas were too heavy, but he thinks Ashley coped well with a very difficult dance. And he’s going to show that appreciation by scoring it the same as Julien wanging it about any old how.

Bruno’s next, leering that Ashley is a

dreamboat from Brazil. Between this and Deborah’s cha cha last week I’m starting to wonder if I’ve misjudged South America. Is the president of Brazil Andy Williams? Anyway, Bruno saw Ashley get his feet wrong at one point, but otherwise he did a great job. Craig closes by calling Ashley’s hip rolls FILTH. Always with the constructive criticism that one.

Up to the Tessanine they pulsate, where Tess congratulates him on being the highest scoring male celebrity last week (an achievement on a par with beating Anton in a competition to name all of One Direction’s singles) and asking if he thinks the same will happen this week (THE TENSION). Ashley says that he was just concentrating on getting the dance right. (Ooooh, ooh, I’ve just decided, when they do this again I want there to be an ELEPHANT). Scores are in


After the scores are in Tess presents Ola with a cake to celebrate 10 years of “wedding marriage” with James.

Here’s a photo of the happy day.

So many haircuts ago. So, so many. Also Ola as a NotBlonde just feels wrong.

Natalie Gumede & Artem Chigvintsev dancing the ROM(ANTIC)BA!!!

Yes, in order to soften Natalie for the public, they’ve styled her as the baddie from the video for “Stay”by Shakespeare’s Sister. I really want this to be her Showdance, rampaging over a comatose shirtless Artem with a special guest cameo from JELUS KARA sat wringing her hankie at his bedside. RINGAH SMASH!

Ahem. Apparently Bruce was telling Natalie this week about how, when he kisses a woman, he keeps his eyes open because he can’t quite believe there’s a woman there. To be fair, one time Wilnelia did sneak out in the middle and replace herself with a melon on a broomhandle. (Poor Wilnelia)

In her VT, Natalie says that she’s learnt from the last few shows just how much she loves to dance. She was really pleased to get some great comments from the judges, and she was really surprised to be getting scores of 9 in Week 2.


Training now, and Natalie tells us that what she Loves, for Love Week, is all her friends. In fact she loves them so much that she invited them all (/both) round to her flat to watch Dirty Dancing with Artem dressed in onesies. On the one hand…sure you did love. Anybody who remember the heady days of Over The Rainbow will instantly have been reminded of this VT for the ages :

It does feel a bit “Natalie has friends (who appeared in Shameless)! Just like you! She’s totally normal! Don’t fear her!” and that never ends well. On the other hand

Artem in a onesie. What could be funnier? Anybody suggesting that Artem might have got his revenge on Natalie with the old popcorn trick.

Clearly have dirtier minds than I do.


No, really, she looks Satanic. I approve. She and Artem are dancing to “Love The Way You Lie”. The version where Rihanna sings on her own. Nobody’s going to try to rap, you can come out from behind your sofas now. Obviously this means that instead of a lovely rumba of slushy love it is

emo as anything. Like, when Vanessa said on “It Takes Two” that she and James were going to “explore the dark side of love” when in fact she was going to stomp around throwing things and going cross-eyed, it probably would have fit this better. It’s a really good rumba, and Natalie’s expressing every inch of it. The only thing holding me back from loving it is she’s slightly over-powerful for me at points. In particular there’s some hot rolling on the floor action where she’s smacking herself down like she’s trying to put out a chip-pan fire with her tits. On the other hand…this only makes me anticipate her tango and paso doble (you know, the good dances, not this wafty twaddle) all the more. Also

the hair, my God, the hair. It is life.


It gets a standing ovation, and Bruce gives her a very timid “look…you know…if you want, I’m not trying to force you” as he is clearly as terrified as her shiny-edged ringerness as the rest of us are. Len starts by telling Natalie that the dance was fabulous so Artem obviously does his thing and

wanders halfway off to the car-park to let Natalie take her moment. Poor Fern. He never did that for her. And he did it for Holly, so it clearly doesn’t take a lot. Bruno describes her as “beauty in perpetual motion”. I don’t think Bruno knows what perpetual means. Although…would you expect him to?

Craig says “love” three times (coz it is Love Week innit?) and Darcey closes by telling Natalie that she speaks with every single part of her body.

As opposed to Darcey, who just has the two places, which she switches between on a more or less 50-50 basis.

Up to the Tessanine they glide, where Tess sighs to Natalie that three weeks in a row now she’s done great dances. Is there ANYTHING she can’t do?

Win? You know, I’m guessing. Anyway, Natalie gives the non-answer “dance with my hair” when THAT WAS THE BEST BIT. Tess blatantly isn’t paying attention anyway because Artem has started crying, and crying is to Tess as blood is to a great white shark.


36. After they get their scores, Natalie starts laughing for no reason and it sounds like swan sex and goes on far too long until everyone feels a little bit awkward.

Seriously, still so on track to be my favourite evah. BRING IT HOME, GIRL.

Drunken Auntie Debbie & Robin Windsor dancing the lovable huggable darling romantic heartfelt swoonsome passionate LOVE WEEK QUICKSTEP

Bruce tells us that apparently Deborah got confused by Craig’s stony-faced reaction to her cha cha last week. Bruce blames this on the botox.

I blame it on it being a bit crap (in the best possible way of course) (that way being “Happy Hour at Madame Jojo’s”)

VT time and Deborah tells us all that she loved the cha cha, and she’s never had a feeling like that in her life. What, never? Not even at the Dragons Den wrap party when you all get trollied on champagne and everyone gathers round the piano to hear Duncan Bannatyne sing “Like A Virgin”? Again. Because that looked like drunk happy to me. Deborah smirks that she’s sure she doesn’t know what Craig meant when he said “dragon vs drag queen”. No, neither did anyone else.

In training, Robin wonders who better could represent Love Week then him and his Deborah? There’s no greater love than that between

middle-aged woman and gay best friend, after all. Deborah tells us all the dancing is now the new love of her life, and she wishes that she’d discovered it sooner, because it feels like it’s come too late. Jesus, Deborah, you’re 54. Dr Hamela was still going strong at twice your age. Anywho, as Deborah is so grateful to Robin for introducing her to the new love of her life, that she decides that she wants to introduce HIM to the old love of her life.

Horseshit. It’s alright Debs, he was partnered with Patsy Kensit, I’m sure he’s used to it.


Here Deborah waits for her beau. Her beau approaches skipping in the most homosexual fashion I’ve ever seen. It’s…Nigel Lythgoe Disco 70s Dance Troupe gay.

He skits up to her and when they take up hold you can see in her face that

she knows. He’s just not that into her. After that though, it’s another of what’s rapidly becoming Deborah Meaden’s signature style on the show. Not much finesse, but plenty of gusto. It helps that she’s dancing to “Higher And Higher”, because it really matches the ebulliance of her performance.

See? He’s totally not into it.

It gets a standing ovation, and Bruno starts for the judges by yelling that THE DRAGON IS TURNING INTO A BUTTERFLY!

I often like to imagine Bruno delivering his judges critiques just walking down the street. At the same volume. To passers-by. Craig follows by saying that Deborah put a smile on his face, and that he really enjoyed that dance. She totally is his random favourite isn’t it? Well, I can think of worse people for it to be.

Darcey follows by saying that she’s glad that Deborah didn’t sink into Robin’s chest, but her shoulders were starting to creep up by the end of the dance, and Len closes by yelling that it was Deborah’s BEST DANCE TO DATE. WOO!

Up to the Tessanine they jackie, and Deborah immediately tells Tess that she’s far too out of breath to speak, so don’t bother interviewing her. As someone who has written nigh on 12,500 words on this episode at this point, I thank her.

28 is scored.

Final Leaderboard?


22 thoughts on “Strictly Come Dancing 11 – Week 3 Performance

  1. Robbie

    Julien as the Gothic puppet emperor and Bruce calling Susannah an ‘UNGRATEFUL SOW!’ had me laughing so hard I was almost at Natalie swan-noise-awkward levels. Brilliant, as ever.

    I think what I dislike about Dave the most is not just the sheer inevitability of all the Sargeant/Widdyness of it all, but the fact that in his VTs EVERYTHING sounds so ridiculously pre-scripted. Like, worse than his cooking shows scripted. Maybe they should send him to an acting coach…

  2. Katy

    I’m afraid that Vanessa’s Ben is neither Phats nor Small. He’s just some one they dragged in off the streets to sing on one of their songs (/only song).

    And Why oh Why did lighting decide to project massive penises on the floor for Julien’s dance? I can’t think of any good reason. Oh, wait… love week…

  3. Soph (@dexychik)

    The absolute worst wedding song is Someone Like You by Adele. Why anyone would think that’s appropriate, I know not. “FINE, be HAPPY THEN, I’m REALLY HAPPY for your NEW WIFE, don’t mind ME doorstepping you after four YEARS, just to REITERATE MY HAPPINESS.”
    Saying that, I had Truly Madly Deeply and am now (nearly) divorced.

  4. Charlotte

    Mental images of Scooby Doo introducing “Ronette Ronrara” and Bruno wiggling down the street yelling critiques at randoms. Love, love, love!

  5. greenjadedragon

    Natalie & Artem’s hysterical laughing was because Fiona was growling at Artem behind their backs in the Tessanine. She was barking at him! ;p

  6. Missfrankiecat

    Just want to declare that KevinFromGrimsby (KFG) is now my favourite pro after his piss take of Artem on ITT this week. Uncannily accurate and passively aggressive – Grimsby boys know how to fight dirty!

  7. tal27

    Rachel is morphing into Gwyneth Paltrow – I can’t see anything else now particularly after those hair extensions whipping Pasha in the face repeatedly. I am now officially having a Scooby Doo day, applying the Ronette Ranrara to every new name I hear…

  8. secretsock

    Scooby Doo. Sexy Frankenstein. Cold Hard Lithuanian Woman. Judicious use of different types of quotation marks (did you think nobody noticed?!). Four reasons why this recap is one of your best.


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