Strictly Come Dancing 11 – Week 5 Performance

Just one decent paso. Is it too much to ask? I’M DYING HERE.

Last week : Sophie & Brendan danced cheek to cheek, Pasha had a boom-boom, Anton was in a world of his own (where that rumba made sense), U cudnt touch Iveta, Robin made his mind up (he decided on Camp), Kristina was so hard to handle that she kept on slipping out of Ben’s hands and up into the air like a stick of butter (with its boobs out), Dave took it to his limit (three steps of waltz on the spot), Susanna did whatever, wherever, dressed as Tiki Time Parents Hour at Universal Studios, and Julien


This week :




What’s holding her up, you may ask? It’s probably best not to.

The music starts and you can tell Bruce is getting old because

his arms are all wrong for the Velociraptor Dance. Tuck them up and under Bruce. Up and under. We’re lucky Len didn’t have his weekly rant there and then. If you can’t do the most basic of the Dinosaur Dances well, then how are you going to cope when it’s Pterodactyl Week and you have to dance AND FLY (and wear a cone on the back of your head)? Anywho, both Bruce and Tess skitter towards one another and

Tess is the closest she’s ever come to mouthing “HELP ME!” down the camera isn’t she? Meanwhile from the shadows

Elaine Paige watches, waiting, rubbing her hands together villainously and waiting for the day when Anton will be hers. Just another 10 years to wait, and she’ll be old enough.

Bruce jokes to open that this week he got a call from a woman saying that she wanted his body. It was the curator of the Natural History Museum. Those archaeologists are DIRTY aren’t they? Or were those just by thoughts after Susanna’s samba last week? (WHAT? HE WAS WEARING THE GLASSES, IT’S NOT UNDER MY CONTROL). Anyway, it’s a shame, because we all know if the lady curator of the Museum wanted a fossilised bone that she can reliably get to hover in mid-air

we all know who she should have called.

Tess reminds us that last week we said “goodbye” to Team Sparkle. I’d been saying it to them for the preceding three weeks as well, but finally it took. Also my version may have had a few four letter words in it. And gestures. Lots of gestures But still there are TWELVE couples remaining, so let’s plough with weeding out the chaff shall we? The Christmas decorations are about to up in all the shops and we’ve still got a dozen d-listers knocking around. GET TO CHOPPIN.

Everyone troops down the stairs, and once they’ve all stopped wiggling their bits and bobs, Bruce does a quick joke about how, despite a few aches and pains and very tired legs, he’s looking well.

I mean…it’s all relative, isn’t it?

Natalie Gumede & Artem Chigvintsev dancing the salsambchenco

Go on Artem. Smile through the pain. Bruce’s jokes will be over soon. This one’s about “twerking”. Mercifully, we’re still at the “tell, don’t show” stage of Bruce’s jokes about twerking. I’m sure the day will come. This one revolves around how both Tess and her husband Vernon are “Yorkshire People” who “go to twerk”. Vernon is from Bolton. Tess is from Derbyshire. I guess it’s all the same to Bruce.

THE PROVINCES! There are fans OUT there, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to touch them.

In her VT, we’re shown why Natalie is a favourite for the production staff of the show.

Her hair serves as its own boom mic. Natalie tells us that she’s so glad that she got out onto the dancefloor last week, spine crumbling a little bit more with every step, but she wants to put all her injury woes behind her now. There are so SO many other reasons her dances might seem like they might go wrong but then OOPS THEY DON’T that she’s looking forward to playing out, and the producers are scribbling them down on the back of a fag packet now.

Training now, and Natalie says that dancing the samba should be really simple (yeah, notoriously it’s a really easy dance that the male pros of this show don’t dodge like it’s toilet cleaning duty at a clap clinic) but, guess what?IT’S NOT! It’s really super-extra-hard! Natalie complains that she can’t shimmy properly. She can move her titties from side to side, but when it comes to getting rotation on her bubbies, she’s lost. I feel this is a missed opportunity for Special Guest Titty-Helper : Jodie Kidd. It’d be more fun than an acting coach at any rate.  Artem suddenly and randomly decides that ACTUALLY the problem is that Natalie doesn’t get the character of the dance. Natalie sighs that it’s no wonder, because she’s never been to mainland Spain. Important distinction there. Bit like “I’ve never trained as a professional ballroom dancer”. (Also, that’s blatantly an admission that she’s been raving it up on Magaluf isn’t it? Huzzah!).

Fortunately, international man of the world Artem has the solution for getting authenticity into their dance :

dress up as a Mexican, to evoke the spirit of Spain, in a dance created in Brazil. Natalie does that laugh that makes Alesha’s sound demure and ladylike (<3) whilst clacking her castnets like a 6 year old in music class.

In the words of Nancy Dell’Olive Oil…THIS IS NO MADRID.

We close with Arte doing a typical Artem too-cool-for-school

roll of the eyes as he says that he OF COURSE hated every second of it, because Artem Chigvintsev is ONE COOL DUDE who has dignity. He certainly didn’t cry like someone being elected Prom Queen when he won and dress up like a pumpkin for Fern Britton. Of course Artem. We all believe you.


Where all the Spanish stuff in the VT becomes a little more explicable. A little. Because they’re dancing their samba to “Bomboleo” by The Gypsy Kings. Who are French, but their grandparents are all Spanish and stuff so it totally counts. And there’s little bits of flamenco arms and stuff in there, because Artem’s still a bit icky about actually doing a samba. The bigger boys, James and Brenda, told him not to, but ARTEM PLAYS BY HIS OWN RULES MAN. HE’S GOING TO DO A SAMBA (sort) EVEN IF IT KILLS HIM. Anyway it’s a good dance and she’s certainly working her hips ten to the dozen. Although not as much as she’s working her face

which is reaching Karen Hardy levels of Gurnanomics. It’s like she’s trying to prove she can dance and chew gum at the same time. If you saw her walking down the street doing that level of jaw grinding you’d briefly and discretely check her nose as you went past for little specks of white power. Ultimately he one thing it’s lacking for me is bounce. At times I can only tell it’s a samba rather than a salsa because Artem isn’t trying to throw her round in the air like a lawn dart.

It gets a standing ovation (you will all be very glad to learn that I have now in fact started a spreadsheet) (glad and a bit surprised I hadn’t started already). Bruce coos to them that that was so good that Bruce wishes that they could have seen it themselves whilst they were doing it. Bruce, given the amount of painkillers they’ve been jacked up on a-piece over the last two weeks, I’m sure they’d settle for being present in any sense at all. Artem’s clearly off circling the M25 somewhere, on a magical technicolour submarine, being piloted by Holly in her paso gear and a little hat saying “Captain Candy”, where he and Kara eat cucumber slices off one another’s nipples and Robin Windsor stands there spinning a Twister wheel for some reason. Anywho, Bruce goes on to introduce our judges

most importantly Craig, sat on his comfy spangly chair, fresh from his hip operation, grinning sheepishly down the camera, instead of doing his “snotty concierge in a Rattigan play” face. Bruce tells him that he’s “very brave” for turning up this week. Quick! Someone release a Help For Heroes single for Craig’s hip. The Military Wives feat. Iveta Lukosiute. I’d buy it.

Len starts for the judges, saying that that dance had him “palpatating, perspirating and flatulating”.

Strictly – the only show where you get marked based on how much you make the Head Judge fart. The NOISES coming from Len’s bottom whenever Lisa Snowdon danced. Arlene Phillips wasn’t sacked, she just had to spend the next year in an oxygen tent. Anyway, he thought the dance needed more bounce, but other than that it was GREAT. Bruno follows by saying it was hypnotic and exotic with a touch of the erotic. Here’s Bruno’s

Touch Of The Erotic. It’s notable that only the judge on industrial quantities of morphine can look directly at it. Bruno loved Natalie’s lines and her musical phrasing best of all.

Craig follows, and also calls her out for the lack of bounce and tells her that her elbows were being held in to her sides too much. Darcey closes by saying that the flamenco style really suits Natalie, and that Darcey thinks that Spain is really her place. So get ready for that 10 from Darcey in the paso doble. Also those other authentically Spanish dances like the salsa, jive and Viennese Waltz.

Up the Tessaine where Tess gives Natalie a

sympathetic claw and tells her that she really knows how to get the party started. WITH BUCKET LOADS OF PAINKILLERS! Tess asks Natalie if she enjoyed it, and she said that she did. In fact she

WANTED TO EAT IT. Natalie then clarifies that she is still on some drugs for her back. You don’t say? Tess then reveals that Artem has been dancing with an injury. HIS POOR WITTLE NOSE IS BWOKEN. You might think the first thing Janette did upon being eliminated was to smack him in it in revenge for when he made her bleed in the Prison Themed Pro-Dance. I couldn’t possibly comment. Scores are in


Abbey Clancy & SEXY FRANKENSTEIN dancing the foxtrot

Bruce opens by telling us that Abbey has a beautiful two-and-a-half year old girl. And boy are we about to hear about it. The girl’s name is Sophia (or at least I hope that’s how it’s spelled – Sofia Crouch looks like a budget Bulgarian airline), and Bruce says he’s about to do a joke just for her.

“What did the snail say when he was riding on the back of a tortoise?”


Bit of a dirty joke for a two year old isn’t it? All that inter-species riding. Abbey certainly looks like she thinks so.

No babysitting for Uncle Bruce in future.

In her VT, Abbey says that she was really pleased with the scores she got last week, but she was SO NERVOUS. In fact she doesn’t think you can describe in words the sort of nerves you get on Strictly. Although lord knows, many, many, MANY celebrities over the years have tried. In fact, she says that when she went to touch Aljaz, her hand started shaking. Where were you touching him Abbey? (*poises to get the tabloids on the phone to tell them about Abbey’s intimate shaking of Aljaz*)

Training now and


BABY WARZ TIME!”. Now with added pets. And spangly frocks. And “I wann be dancer like mummy!” (I know, I’d hoped they’d accidentally have X Factor on in the background as well). Abbey says it’s really hard to not be spending 24 hours with her daughter like she’d like to, but she wants to dedicate this dance to her little Sophia. Imagine having a foxtrot dedicated to you? It’d be a bit like getting a barrel of biscuits for your birthday. Plain ones. No chocolate. For digestion.


That Murder She Wrote reboot took an unexpected turn didn’t it? The story of Abbey’s foxtrot is that her lover (played here by Sexy Frankenstein) is writing her a letter saying that he wishes he could be with her, but he can’t, so have this imaginary foxtrot instead. And of course, of ALL the love songs written about letters, the one you’d pick would be “Dear Darlin'” by Olly Murs. A BALLAD by Olly Murs. I ask you. Who wants a ballad by Olly Murs? Women want to imagine Olly Murs being their cheeky workman (I WOULD IMAGINE), not writing letters about his feelings and stuff.

Anyway, Abbey does a

perfectly nice foxtrot. This has been quite a good series for foxtrots so far hasn’t it? Also for damning with faint praise. It’s very dance heavy, looks like a foxtrot, has a good hold and a nice amount of drama. I just wish she’d

not roll her eyes back in her head quite so hard when she has to elegantly present herself because…nobody wants to see that. Roll your eyes at Bruce’s jokes Abbey, not the dahnce. The whole thing ends with one of the lady singers huffing “I UNDERSTAND WHERE HE’S COMING FROM!” in spoken-word (?) before Abbey

wanders off to change and get a frozen-banana-pop ready for Sophia, cause this imaginary foxtrot shizz is boring the arse off her.

Bruce jokes with Abbey as she walks over that

if she’s going to send him secret messages, she has to be more subtle. Erm…Aljaz wrote it Bruce. Think on. He then introduces…

the Man In The Hat! He does so by yelling “GET THE PORK PIE IN! GET THE PORK PIE IN!”. He’s clearly a reader. HI BRUCE. Send my love to Wilnelia.

Bruno starts for the judges, saying that the whole routine was like a love letter set to music. Bruce starts grumping that THAT’S WHAT HE SAID (wasn’t), and Bruno smirks that he was only repeating what Bruce said because it was such a GREAT COMMENT and then all but

winks at the camera. Love Bruno. Anyway, he loved the chemistry, and the wonderful flow. Craig follows by saying that he loved the story, and he felt it carried throughout the entire dance, but she needs to extend her topline a bit more. Darcey looks appalled and Sexy Frankenstein


Darcey follows, saying that she really thinks that Abbey is great at capturing the character of each dance (in this case “someone who can read”) and gives notice that SHE thinks Abbey’s top-line was PERFECT…it’s just her legs that need a bit of work. Len closes by telling Abbey not to listen to “Old Ironside” at the end. Such ableism. I’m calling OFCOM. Anyway, Len tells Abbey that she’s very consistent and every dance she’s done so far has been done to a very high level. Yeah Len, her latin’s been UHMAYZING. As if things couldn’t get better for Abbey

PETER SCORED A GOAL TODAY! I mean…he still lost, but really it’s all about the personal glory isn’t it? And oh good, I was worried we were almost going to go a week without mentioning him then. Remember that one week that Bruce forgot to mention that Pamela was married to Bill…oh wait, that never happened did it?

Up to the Tessanine they bound, where Tess asks Abbey if she thinks she has a lot to live up to, with her score of 35 last week and the amazing judges comments this week. Abbey says that she’s just shocked to be getting such nice feedback. Tess then asks Abbey bout her nerves, and she replies that she thinks everyone is nervous really, as Susanna

manically grins away in the background. It’s alright Susanna, you’ll get to talk about your nerves soon. EVERYONE will get a chance to talk about their nerves soon. Scores are in


Hairy Dave & Carmen Miranda dancing the salsambchonga

Apparently Bruce this week asked Dave how many times you change gear on the back of a motorcycle. Because I’m sure that’s a question that’s going to be of so much use for Bruce’s life.

In his VT, Dave says that he really feels that for the first time last week, he was starting to dance properly. But he doesn’t have a ballroom dance this week so SCREW THAT.

Training now, and Karen tells us all that she has a surprise for Dave. As Darcey told him last week to sort his posture out with a ballet lesson, Karen has brought Dave to

AN ANTI-GRAVITY YOGA LESSON(/sex party). I wonder where she got the address from (blates Flavia). The aim is for Dave to hang and swing and stretch his body in every direction, so that he might open out his muscles and joints in order to produce really elegant and balanced lines. But, let’s face it, Dave is a comedy contestant, so the real aim is for COMEDY LOLZ. In this particular anti-gravity yoga figure, Dave draws inspiration from the most hilarious thing to happen so far this series



I say this with the greatest of respect for Dave – when you’re so lacking in rhythm that you can’t even play the maracas, it might be time to give up. And he can’t. Karen is giving as much Carmen Miranda realness as she can to help him keep shaking them in time, but he just can’t. He Daves around,

a conga happens (is there anything sadder in the world than a two-person conga? I don’t think so), then the whole thing just collapses into a melange of

kicking and stomping and looking confused and…I feel a bit embarrassed for Dave for the first time. I think maybe it’s the music that kind of highlights the haplessness of it all (it’s some soundtrack music from The Mask) but he’s always sailed on through everything on the strength of his personality before, and it’s not happening for me here. Not even Karen’s megawatt smile is doing it for me. A smile that

turns ever so slightly terrified as her hurls her round in an airplane spin. He closes by yelling

SEE YA! or something like that and doing his Dave fingers.

It gets a standing ovation, including plaudits from

Anneka Rice and Gloria Hunniford. Gloria’s been a contestant by the way. A special bonus point if you can remember ANYTHING about her stint on the show at all. When they’re done, Karen plucks a banana from her crown, and she and Dave share bites.

First time anybody’s chowed down on a banana during judges comments (unless you count that one time Bruno brought along that young man with the spaced-out eyes and told everyone he was work-experience and just shadowing Bruno for the day, he’s just going to sit here under the desk, don’t mind Bruno). Craig starts for the judges by saying that Dave should have investigated the possibility of remaining on the fruit trolley throughout (darling).

“Remaining On The Fruit Trolley Throughout (Darling)” being the title of the second volume of Craig’s autobiography. This all then descends into a minor bun-fight where both Bruce and Dave accuse Craig of laughing along happily all the way through Dave’s dance, so they don’t know what the grumpy act now’s all about. 11 series in Bruce starts wondering this. Dave grins “THE SALSA’S A PARTY CRAIG, YOU’VE JUST GOTTA GET DOWN THERE AND GET WITH IT”, sounding a bit like Bez. A more sober Bez, but still Bez. Can you imagine Bez on Strictly? (Dirty ringah professional dancer that he is)

Darcey follows by accusing Dave of not using his maracas properly, but Dave protests that he was just doing it the way Jim Carrey does it. An excuse that can be transferred to any dance, I feel. Len follows by saying that Dave has the unique ability of never letting his left leg know what his right leg is doing. I imagine if any part of him knew what his right leg was doing Len, it’d abdicate in horror. Anyway Len thinks Dave’s dances are top-quality entertainment, as he thinks about everyone who can’t dance EVER SINCE THE INCIDENTS OF SERIES 6.

Bruno closes by saying that the whole routine was

CRACKERS WITH MARACAS 2! As always, ever so slightly inferior to the original. He congratulates Dave on his achievement in being off time on every single step. Karen just carries on munching her nana.

Up they run to the Tessanine, Karen spraying the last chunks of her banana behind her as she goes and then

handing the remnants to Pasha. Bless him, he doesn’t look quite comfortable handling a bananaskin. I’ll teach h[JOKE REDACTED]. Tess and Dave both discuss how he did a FUN dance this week after doing a NOTFUN dance last week, and how different it was, and then Tess asks Karen if she thinks Dave is a contender to win. Karen does her best

Wheel Of Fortune sales job on him. It’s like she’s showing off a top-loading tumble drier isn’t it? Scores are in


Drunken Auntie Debbie & Her Friend Robin dancing the Viennese Waltz

Bruce’s opening “joke” in full?

“Deborah is really enjoying this whole experience, so I told the Dragon from Dragon’s Den that there’s no business like show-business”.

No, me either Deborah.

VT now, and Deborah says that she really struggled with the jive. There were so many steps, and she couldn’t remember half of them. She promises this week she will be much technically better (at pushing tables). She doesn’t point out that this will be because she’ll be wearing a skirt that doesn’t have a DEATH GRIP on everything from the knee upwards.

Training time and Deborah tells us that her Viennese Waltz will feature elements of the boardroom in it.

Specifically the little trolley they wheel the sandwiches in on. In response to this, Robin has decided she needs to get back into the real-life boardroom, in order tap into her fearsome dragon businesswoman persona. To this end he asks her

what her business plan would be for her Viennese Waltz. No really, that actually happened. Deborah decides her business plan is to go from a frowny face to paddles saying 8, via a mixture of music and steps. Then

this happens.


I appreciate that sticking a whole boardroom in there would be a stretch, but seriously, if you squint Robin looks like a toddler in a baby bouncer. If we’re going for the grand epic dramatic sweep of gender interplay and power as represented in their music (“It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s Man’s Man’s Man’s Man’s Man’s Man’s Man’s Man’s MAYUNS Man’s World”) then…it might have paid to aim a little higher. Deborah runs up

hurls all of Robin’s documents off the table, and then they have sex on i…oh, no, wait, they just kind of shove it around a bit.

As an ardent SYTYCD fan, I feel like Robin is aiming at the atmosphere of this. He’s not hitting it.

Then, briefly, Deborah does the Viennese Waltz and she’s really quite good at it, producing some nice sweep and drama and keeping more or less in time with the mu

oh no, wait, she’s doing the paso now. By which I mean she’s hoiking up her skirt whilst Robin prannys around her. Then she does a bit more Viennese Waltz.

Then it’s over.

It’s more the wasted opportunity I resent than anything else. Although it gets a standing ovation, so what do I know? Maybe it was just her time to go, and it was nothing to do with the furniture removal routine. Bruce does say “how lovely for you” about the ovation though,  rather than, say yell “LOOK AT IT DEBORAH! LOOK INTO THEIR EYES AND FEEL IT DEBORAH! CAN YOU? OR DOES IT BURN YOU! LOOK AT THEM!” so…small mercies.

Darcey starts for the judges by saying that was an “…interesting twist to a Viennese Waltz”. I assure you, the pause is all hers. She says that she liked it though, particularly the “power game” going on between her and Robin. She does though bring out her favourite critique of yesterseries though

HER BEAUTIFUL NECKLACE. She tells Deborah to imagine that she’s wearing one, and it’ll help. Len’s next and says that he really saw a touch of romance between Deborah and Robin when they were in hold. He terms this romance “Mills And Boon” which…not that copy I found stuffed down the side of my nan’s sofa – the men in that tended to be straight. Len goes on to say that the bit at the beginning though was more like “meals on wheels” and he didn’t like it at all because it took them far too long to stop faffing and start dancing.

In fact there was so much faffing it even offended BRUNO.

BRUNO! KING OF FAFF! Bruno, who I can’t even imagine getting out of bed without it involving some sort of theatrical production involving a top hat, a parrot, and his jockstrap from the “I’m Still Standing” video. He says the start of the routine was like watching a divorcing couple fighting over custody of the table. (lol). He does think it was an improvement over last week though. Craig closes by snarking that at least Deborah proved that it’s possible to push a table in waltz time. So there’s that. He does say that he liked the paso bit though which…ok Craig.

Up to the Tessanine they MAYUN, where Deborah grins that she really meant that dance. She was getting that table come hell or high water. You can tell how she become a millionaire can’t you? Tess asks her how getting a standing ovation feels (although she already got one for her quickstep) and Deborah says it felt great. Tess then compliments her on looking a lot fitter and…I don’t think Auntie Debbie’s planning on doing a tie-in DVD Tess, but I appreciate you offering up the marketing line to her. Scores are in

27. I don’t know what Darcey’s so amused by. Maybe Bruno said “shit” again.

Patrick Robotson & Anya Garnis dancing the salsambchinjury

Seriously do you think there are any painkillers left backstage? Someone’s going to break an arm and all there’s going to be is Calpol and Junior Disprin. Bruce tells us that Patrick used to be a member of the RSC. He was discussing this with Bruce, and of course Bruce had to be all “oh yeah, I dun that as well” like that guy at work who always has to one-up everyone. Bruce apparently told Patrick that he starred in a comedy version of Hamlet

He was Yorick.

In his VT, Patrick says that he knows that he didn’t do one step of his cha cha incorrectly and he’s really glad he got nice comments from Craig. THANKS PATRICK.

In training, we begin with the following scene from Masterpiece Theatre :

Anya : “Salsa is super-energetic. It should look like fun! Actually….IT IS FUN!!! What do YOU do for fun, PATRICK?”

Patrick : “Injure myself filming silly comedy VTs!”


We move on to some serious Injury Porn including a worried looking Anya

sat miserably toying with her phone, waiting for news from Patrick about his injured wrist, as he gets

shoved head-first into an MRI scanner. Although even rollerskating Injury Porn ends on an indifferent note for Patrick, as the consultant basically tells him that his wrist isn’t fractured, so he can do what he wants, agonising pain allowing. Patrick closes by saying that Anya has had to change their entire routine last minute to accommodate the fact that he’ll be doing it one-handed. First time a pro’s had to adjust for that since Matt Di Angelo got a bit over-excited in the training room that one time. Flavia. WHAT A WOMAN.


Patrick is very much the sort to buy a programme isn’t he? Anyway, Anya’s method of rechoreographing has been to

make it all about her, and good for her. The show’s clearly not going to give her a gimmick like it’s given the other newbie pros (Kevin is Northern, Aljaz is Sexy, Janette is Loud, Iveta is COLD HARD LITHUANIAN WOMAN) so she’s going to have to carve her own niche. It’s one she might have to mud-wrestle Kristina and Ola for, but so be it.

Anya stalks out, plucks Patrick from the audience of her burlesque revue and he then

fills up with the spirit of dahnce. Being filled with the spirit of dahnce does look a bit like receiving ECT, it has to be said. Then of course Patrick miraculously does the salsa with a poorly wrist.

Albeit making it entirely obvious at all times that he’s got a poorly wrist, in terms of what his arms are doing. The least they could have done is given him a spangly wrist-brace rather than a boring old white one. Jazz it up a bit. In a way it’s my favourite Patrick routine yet, just because I always like a nice story of triumph over adversity. I’m not going to think too hard about what it says about me that it took almost breaking his arm to get me to care about Patrick. I can’t imagine it’s good.

At least it’s more than the audience give them though, as he goes without a standing ovation.

Len follows up by telling Patrick he should feel right at home tonight as a star of a medical drama, what with his injured wrist and Craig’s hip and Artem’s broken nose. Yes, because those are the sorts of ailments they have on Casualty, not a submarine disaster or an exploding pancreas or Uncontrollable Falling Down Disease. Len goes on to congratulate Anya on the job she did rechoreographing at the last minute. Bruno follows by saying that it all felt a bit unfinished and stop-starty, although he can see why. (THE HAND)

Craig follows, saying there was no flow to it and it’s no excuse that he was doing it one-handed. On the other hand…great natural rhythm. (*ticks off box*). Darcey closes by saying that she loved seeing a man in control of the dance (yeah, sure, Patrick was definitely the one leading things there, as Anya threw cartwheels over his pinkie finger) but she wants him to try to finish off his arms.

By taking a sledgehammer to them? Hold up Darce, we’ll stick Anya in a fat suit and do Misery for Hallowe’en Week.

Up to the Tessanine they hobble, where Tess tells Patrick that he’s obviously happy to be doing Latin (well, DUH, it’s NATURAL RHYTHM innit?), asks him how it felt to be doing a new routine made up at the least minute (scary) and asks Anya how she thinks Patrick coped (well). Always fascinating isn’t it? Scores are in


Grin & Grinner dancing the quickstep

Bruce says that he went up to Anton and said “you must be pleased” this week. Anton asked if it was because he was doing the quickstep, I asked if it was because Erin was having a baby, and Bruce decided it was because it’s Week 5 and he’s STILL HERE. If you’re playing along at home, Anton has made it to Week 5 in three of the four series prior to this one. Even NANCY made it to Week 5, and looking at Fiona’s gradual unhinging

was maybe slightly more sane by this point as well.

VT time now, and Fiona says that she’s always really excited and up for it when she steps out onto the dancefloor, but then something awful always happens to ruin it

in this case it was called “Anton’s Westlife Party Rumba”. Fiona finds all this immensely frustrating, she says, and then starts talking about the little annoying voice she hears that keeps on saying

“YOU CAN’T DO THIS, YOU CAN’T DO THIS!”. Well, that’s what the Internet is for Fiona. Glad you’ve noticed us.

Training now, like Fiona needs to bother doing any on an Anton/Erin’s Quickstep week. This is basically annual leave for them. Len’s already got his 8 paddle ready. The whole segment is an intervention between Anton and Fiona where they discuss why she keeps on going wrong all the time, in order to try to turn her into a DAHNCER.

Is it Fiona over-complicating things? Is it her nerves? Is it something deeply psychological to do with something that happened with a hedgehog in her granddad’s garden shed when she was 6? Whatever it is, Anton doesn’t give a shit. He tells Fiona to just do a big smile over the top, maybe go “HA HA!!!” a few times, and carry on regardless. It’s got him through 10 years of this show.

Then Fiona gets a very special message from a very special friend.

“I’ve started the hot-tub up Fiona. Get your cozzy on…or not *wink*”


Yes, Anton is taking Fiona to an old-fashioned tea-room to take scones and champagne.

Classy. They’re dancing to “If They Could See Me Now” from Sweet Charity and yup, that’s officially the last of the painkillers gone. They’ve had to load all the remaining stock into tranq darts, lest Camilla come roaring out onto the floor yelling “MY SHOWDANCE! MY SHOWDANCE! MY GLITTERBALL! IBBLE WIBBLE”. The routine is all very much what you’d expect, lots of basic quickstep (none of this charging around the floor pogoing up and down malarkey) and a few

comedy notes thrown in there to keep things lively. We are post Series 7 after all. Even the most old-school of the old school have to give in to props occasionally. There’s a couple of awkward moments where Anton hops and Fiona…doesn’t (and vice-versa) but overall he keeps a tight rein on her and it pays off. Not quite their waltz, but good enough.

It gets her a standing ovation (her first of the series, leaving Rachel as the only remaining contestant to remain bereft), and Bruno starts us off for the judges, like any of us are here for anything other than Fiona vs Len : The Rematch. He congratulates Fiona for finally “putting on the glitz”. He thinks she played the routine really well, although he noticed some mistakes in the footwork.

DON’T POKE HER BRUNO, SHE’S HANDY. Bruno then backtracks immediately, gibbering “BUT WE DIDN’T NOTICE!!!”. Smooth Bruno. Smooth. Way to avoid a handbagging. Craig of course slides in to say he definitely noticed all the mistakes because heaven forbid there be mistakes that Craig, even dosed up Temazepam, doesn’t notice, but he did admire the way Fiona glided around the floor.

Darcey scoots in next by thanking Fiona for performing with confidence, and calls it her best dance yet, and then Len closes by giving us the eternal Strictly equation :


Up to the Tessanine they step, and Tess hoots that there’s SO MUCH LOVE IN THE ROOM FOR FIONA

as you can clearly spot Pasha and Rachel off having a crafty pre-dance fag in the corner. Tess asks Fiona if she thinks she’s conquered her nerves now, and Fiona says she thinks she has.

She hasn’t seen…the thing since the cha-cha, she’s sure it’s not coming back, it’s all safe Tess, she’s fine, it’s ALL GOING TO BE FINE. Tess asks Anton if Fiona did him proud and he says that she did, and what’s more she DID HERSELF PROUD. Wow, this feels like School Sports Day all of a sudden. Scores are in


Paula Hamilton & Gary Barlow dancing the paso doble

No really, it’s uncanny Of all the inspirations Wardrobe have drawn from this series, this seems the most…outre. Bruce tells us that Rachel was so affected by her stint in the Bottom Two last week that she’s been praying all week for salvation. Well, Bruce has news for her – you don’t get anything for a prayer, NOT IN THIS GAME. Not with “Louise Rainbow” (aka Evil Moira Ross) in charge. Draw a pentagram on the floor and sacrifice a chipmunk Rachel. That should do it.

For some reason at this point Bruce does an odd awkward little dance to somehow prove the show is live.

I wouldn’t have bothered Bruce, Rachel’s about do an even odder one in a minute.

In her VT Rachel says that she found the quickstep really difficult all week, and she really wasn’t happy with her performance last Saturday night. We cut to her backstage, telling Pasha that she really wants to go out there and dance it again and do it right and Pasha’s all

“OH WELL DONE ON JYNXING IT RACHEL, THANKS, IT WAS HARD ENOUGH KEEPING KIMBOTLEY OUT OF THE DANCE-OFF WHEN SHE DANCED WELL, NEVER MIND YOU THROWING HOODOOS EVERYWHERE!”. Once they’re done going through their quickstep again in said dance-off, Rachel tells us that she’s so glad to still be here, and she’s going to come out fighting (/pulling bizarre faces and doing the robot).

Training now, and it’s paso doble time, and as Rachel is a lovely smiley daytime tv presenter, guess what? It’s too HARD for her to be mean and snarly, she just doesn’t have it IN her. Etc etc. So it’s time to get in the acting coach. And what an advert for his services this is going to be. He tells Rachel to get all her anger out and connect the FIERCE movements of her legs to her

FIERCE SEXY FACE. WITH SHAZAM HANDS. I mean…what deep-seated anger do we think Rachel has to get out? Brewing internally? I’m thinking she’s going to have to dredge up something her brother did to her Polly Pockets when she was 7.

Terrifying. Anyway the acting coach talks a load of gubbins about connecting with her inner fire and channelling it up out her nose and whatever and seriously…can we stop with “acting coaches” already? It just about worked when you conveniently gave them to a hot man just before he had to do a dance where he could run around shaking his tits and pointing at housewives, but this ain’t fooling nobody.

Good grief.


I have to admit, Pasha in a cage is doing less for me than anticipated. They’re dancing to “Maneater” by Nelly Furtado, and if you weren’t hoping for a very special guest vocallist then you don’t know reality tv, and I am sorry for you. I think what bothers me most about the performance is her arms

I’m sure there’s a time and a place for a tribute to the arms of the Countdown clock (I went to a fancy-dress party as it once, FUN MONKSEAL FACT) but it’s not in a paso doble. Everything her limbs do is very hard and jerky and there’s none of the power or the flourish that you’d associate with the dance. Just clunk-clunk-clunk-whack-whack-whack. Also any move where she suddenly has to hurl her head forward or back I want to instinctively hold her hair because, because it seriously looks like she’s throwing up, and hard. On the plus side it is mostly fairly in time with the music, so that’s getting better. Although regarding that acting coach

get a refund, gurl. She stays in character for an embarrassingly long time afterwards as well. So Method.

Over to Bruce they tromp, and Rachel, in that “just dropping this joke in” method of comic timing she has, chortles “I think I’m full now!”. BECAUSE SHE’S A MAN EATER. AN EATER OF MEN. Bless. Maths grads. Anyway Bruce has his own little joke, and tells Rachel that she should have got Pasha a ladder and a little bell.

Not a clue, what he’s on about. Not a clue, either of them Never mind Pasha, you can have my little bell.

Hang on…

Anyway Craig starts for the judges saying the whole routine was far too full of tension and it felt like a whole forest full of trees being felled. Far too stiff, and Rachel doesn’t dance well enough on her own to carry off the sort of story that Pasha was trying to sell. The kicks weren’t finished, her back wasn’t arched, her balance was off, Pasha was wearing a shirt…oh wait, that last one’s mine. Anyway, a DAHNCE DISAHSTER, says Craig. Darcey is next, saying the paso doble is a VERY HARD DANCE FOR THE FEMALE CELEBRITIES TO DO because it’s easy for men to be the matador.

Whilst I appreciate the vague attempts at gender parity, when was the last decent male celebrity paso doble we had? That wasn’t decent only because Erin burnt the studio down? Austin? Matt Baker maybe if you squinted? Anyway, Rachel is too lovely to be mean or cold or, you know, ACT, so poor woobie *pats head*.

Darcey tells her that if she focuses with her eyes, she might find it a bit easier to be hard. Works for me – every time I focus my eyes on Pasha I [JOKE REDACTED] Also, you know, core and that.

Len next, and he says that he knows that Rachel is working hard and he appreciates her CAHMIN AHT, but some dances don’t suit some peepuw etc etc and Bruno finishes up by joking about how it’s hard to be a maneater if you’re not suited to it, like what Bruno is. He felt that Rachel had all the moves in the routine, but it was the “vegetarian option”. Well who would pass up the option to nibble on Pasha’s carr[JOKE REDACTED]

Up to the Tessanine they stomp, where Rachel whines that she’s been trying to channel mean and moody all week, and Pasha insists that she WAS mean and moody on the dancefloor. Pasha of course being the expert. Every time I look at Pasha I mentally add the bunny ears. Everyone in the Tessanine

roars their approval. Tess asks Rachel if she thinks she’s going to be in the Dance-Off this week, Rachel says she hopes not, and then Tess asks Pasha if he thinks Rachel is improving each week, and Pasha says she is. He keeps ramping up the difficulty every week and she keeps on delivering. Maybe…don’t ramp the difficulty up next week Pasha. Just a suggestion. Anyway, Pasha insists that only HE knows because HE was the one on the dancefloor with her and she was terrifying. Terrifying like THIS

Like I said, bunny ears. Scores are in :


Bunton Paso Scale Score: 0.87 : Pissy Little Lobster

Mark Benton & Iveta Lukosiute dancing the waltz

Bruce starts by reminding us that Mark walked out onto the dancefloor in his cha cha last week with a massive boom-box on his shoulder. Apparently Mark asked Bruce if he’s ever had access to a boom-box. Bruce replies “one night, when Wilnelia got very drunk…”

In his VT, Mark tells us that the cha cha was his favourite dance yet, and got such an amazing reaction from the audience. That’s right, it was more than just his wife standing up for once! Sadly, Craig then burst Mark’s bubble by being all mean and that. Don’t worry Mark, on the basis of this week he’s far too floaty to tell the audience off for having a different opinion this week.

Training now and Mark is getting into the character of the waltz with some patented

Natalie Lowe face-touching. This however is not enough for Iveta, who has a letter for Mark

from Lady Henrietta Rous. In case you were confused, she’s signed it twice, just to drive the message home. This, incidentally

is Lady Henrietta Rous, and I’m not ENTIRELY convinced this is actually a finishing school. Not like that right proper one Holly Vallance attended for that one VT she just about managed to scrape up the energy for. It just seems to be

some posh bird’s sitting room. Some posh bird dressed in a manner that Lady Gaga will no doubt be ripping off as soon as possible. She’s not done “tartan excess” yet has she? Anyway Mark gamely says that he really believes that saying “how now brown cow” and walking around with a book on his head is going to help with his waltz, whilst Iveta remains mute and roots around in drawers for the title-deeds. She could totally pull off being a Lady Henrietta Rous. Piece of piss. She sit in House Of Lords in full tartan and make orders to bomb Estonia (*spit* ESTONIA *spit*)


I’m not saying that she DEFINITELY stole that dress from Lady Henrietta, I just think it’s a possibility. She may be borrowing it. Anywho, the music starts up and it’s a slightly odd twinkly version of “Apologise” by OneRepublic so yup

we’re getting an emo waltz. Iveta is the ghost of a wrong that Mark has done come back to haunt him. Betweem this and Aljaz being a letter and…Deborah’s Viennese Waltz, it feels like most of the ballroom dancing done so far tonight has been imaginary. As a dance it’s very floaty and very dreamy and quite elegant

allowing for Mark’s natural shortcomings, mostly because Iveta is WORKING that dress for all its worth, although I do wish he’d occasionally shut his mouth. It’s a really nice effort in atmosphere and drama, and definitely the soft cushiony landing they needed after the madness of last week. In the end, it looks like Iveta is going to forgive Mark whatever he did (peeing on the toilet seat, I don’t know)



Mark just stands there

staring at his hands. It’s not exactly very Shakespeare but it IS very Iveta which, let’s face it, is the next best thing. It gets a sort of standing ovation. I’m not sure how to quantifty it – it’s about three quarters of the way there, and then Elaine Paige stands up and as soon as she does everyone else sits down. Sorry Elaine. Bruce asks Iveta how she could leave Mark like that and she smirks “IT WAS TOO LATE!” (<3). I do love that people keep on making jokes to Bruce like he knows what the words to these modern pop songs are.

Darcey starts for the judges, saying she was transported! One week Mark is “Latin Man” (…) and the next he’s a really elegant gentleman! It needed more rise and fall, but overall, Darcey liked the tenderness. Soppy cow. Mark’s wife and daughter exchange appreciative glances whilst

Mark’s son worries that Tess is going to notice him again and advance on him with a hankie. Len follows by saying that he liked Mark’s naturalness and ease, but his frame was a bit sloppy because his left arm was too far forward.

Speaking of naturalness…here’s Bruno! He didn’t think much of Mark’s top-line or posture either, but Mark spun things so well with his top politician powers that he doesn’t really care. Craig closes by saying it was so much better than that GHASTLY dance last week. And yet it will only score 2 points more, so shows what you know Craig. BRING ON THE VANILLA ICE!

Up to the Tessanine they sweep, where Tess congratulates them on performing such an emotive waltz. Mark replies that he wanted to do something different, and not just be funny every week, and he’s glad that Craig liked it. Scores are in


Jordan Ashley Taylor & Ola Dawson dancing the jive

So tired. So very very tired. Bruce says that, as Ashley is in Hollyoaks, he decided to watch some of it this week. He found it so depressing he had to watch an episode of Eastenders to cheer himself up. I guess to remind himself that the writing, plotting and acting could always be worse?

In his VT, Ashley says that he felt really good going into his Viennese Waltz, but on the night he definitely stiffened up and he thinks the judges were right to criticise him. We are at this point reminded of said judges criticisms : Len yelling GURTCHA and Bruno yelling WOOMPH! Maybe Ashley didn’t mind the criticism because it gave him some new play words to use with his two year old? Anyway Ashley says that he was

deflated because he didn’t deliver up to the standard he could have. Nobody mentions how the entirety of the judging was overshadowed by Bruce picking at his clothes the whole going going “ooooh, who dressed YOU, Stevie Wonder?” like he’d been briefly posessed by the spirit of bitchy old Project Catwalk era Julien McDonald because…that was just weird.

Training now, and Ashley reveals that he has the jive, and also that his sleep-deprived Strictly meltdown is now reaching

“Blanche Dubois at the end of Streetcar Named Desire crossed with an Annie Lennox video” levels. Ola, presumably worried he’s going to accidentally set fire to the studio, more or less gives Ashley the week off, slashing his training hours to only 10, possibly because “jive” is the one dance any stage school brat can do off the top of their head. Sadly, Ashley is still really busy even with these reduced training hours

stumbling around the Lorraine studios like he’s auditioning for The Walking Dead, doing

phone interviews, and

tacky magazine photoshoots with adoring female journalists and also, of course It Takes Two and the baby and the two-year-old and Hollyoaks and OH MY GOD, STOP THE MADNESS. Rarely have I felt so concerned for the emotional and physical well-being of a contestant. This series isn’t going to be much fun if the winner dies halfway through their showdance. And not in the metaphorical way, like Lisa did.


Ashley is dancing to “Johnny B Goode” and it begins with a guitar solo

on an electric guitar that isn’t plugged in, BBC LIES. I’M CALLING OFCOM! Frankly it’s a mercy he remembers to stop pretending at the choreograhed point and doesn’t just stomp round the dancefloor playing air guitar for 100 seconds, periodically stopping to shout “LOOK BUDDY, DADDY PLAY GUITAR ON THE TELLY WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” down the camera. It all culminates of course with a patented

Ola Jordan knee slide of DOOM, although it’s really more of a knee-slam and he’s in serious danger of toppling over forwards at the end of it. The whole routine to be honest is very much a “The Greatest Hits Of Strictly Jive” – lots of flicks and kicks and

pointing at the ceiling and wheeling around in circles clutching one another and of course

the leapfrog and the

“Ola swings between someone’s legs pulling Ola Face” step. It’s nothing terribly exciting or innovative but for 10 hours training and a level sleep deprivation that should be bringing on hallucinations any day now, it gets to the job done, albeit in a slightly “on the edge” way.


It gets a standing ovation, and Bruce congratulates Ola on choreographing a great routine. Once you get to that age I guess familiarity is always welcome. Len starts for the judges by saying the dance had SPEED, ENERGY and PLENTY OF GURTCHA.

The technique was all over the place but still…GURTCHA. All that matters. Bruno follows by saying the routine definitely rocked. He wasn’t sure if it was Elvis rock or Shakin Stevens rock but still…IT ROCKED. I don’t know if it was either of them Bruno. For all Shakey’s British provincialism he never went out with a

Shredded Wheat on his head.

Craig follows by saying that he hopes they got Ashley making a complete hash of getting out of his knee-slide on camera for It Takes Two. So do I. It could be the new “that time Dr Hammie sort of tripped a bit and we milked three weeks of segments out of it”. He then carries on with probably his best piece of criticism yet.

“You’ve got to be aware that you do have feet, darling”


Darcey closes by telling Ashley that that dance wasn’t safe (I’ll say, I was getting ready to run on with the defib paddles during the bit where Ola cartwheeled over his shoulder) and as such it was brilliant. She loved the spring in his step and how he kept it up throughout. There then follows a brief discussion on the merits of Ashley’s shoes for dancing jive in. Weary from Bruce’s sartorial nit-picking last week, Ola makes sure to say “IT WASN’T MY CHOICE” about 15 times.

Up to the Tessanine they clump, where Tess asks him if that jive felt good. Ashley says actually he thinks it’s the first time he’s really enjoyed a routine.

Yup, the delirium’s kicked in. Scores are in


Susanna Reid & Kevin Clifton dancing the American Smooth

Kevin’s hair is coming from so many different directions this week here it’s hard to know where to start. Bruce tells us that the BBC received a lot of complaining letters last week after Susanna’s “saucy samba”. I guess the Carry On films were a kind of saucy. Anyway, I’m sure those complaining letters are about as real as all those complaining calls to OFCOM about how Ashley and Ben are just too damned sexy and hot and naked all over BBC 1 Saturday nights every week at 6:30pm *wink* I’m sure they definitely didn’t all come from the same guy in the show’s Press Department trying to get the show in the papers. Definitely. Down with this kind of thing.

In her VT, Susanna reveals that last week she and Kevin wanted to deliver something “big and a bit crazy”

ie her cleavage. She says that she knows what the judges were saying with their negative comments, but she quite likes the thought of having done a “muddy samba” on Strictly. “Doing a muddy samba” does sound very much like a euphemism doesn’t it?

Training now, and Susanna tells us that this week she has the American Smooth and that also she’s really learning to love dance, all thanks to one man. Her agent. Oh no, wait, it Kevin Clifton. The show’s newest star.

Sidebar : every series since Series 7 I’ve done Initial Approval Ratings Polls for the newbie Pros. Here is a historical record –

Pasha : 95
Kevin : 92
Artem : 89
Katya : 84
Iveta : 80
Aljaz : 76
Natalie : 75
Anya : 59
Robin : 48
Janette : 43
Aliona : 41
Jared : 17
Karen : 9

Not bad going is it? Also…I miss Katya

Anywho, this week Susanna spontaneously decided that she wanted to learn more about the man behind the LEGEND, so she asked Kevin if she could go and meet his parents in Grimsby at their dance school. They head off to windswept Grimsby with Susanna sashaying through having taken inspiration from the

Natalie Dell’Olio school of mixing with the proles. It’s Lincolnshire in October Susanna, I don’t think the sunnies are necessary.

They arrive at the Clifton Dance Academy And Greyhound Racing Arena where Susanna

pulls some proper Dr Hammy faces before being swarmed by a mob of squealing teenage girls. None of them give a crap about Kevin. I’m sure this is the exact opposite of what happens the rest of the time.

Susanna then does a little shuffle with Kevin’s dad whilst beaming “MAYBE I’M DANCING WITH THE WRONG MR CLIFTON!!!” down the camera-lens. At this point, Kevin clumps sulkily into shot all

“excuse me, I thought we were coming here to learn about me?”, nomming a nana. Obviously it’s a couples thing. This whole segment is a bit like when someone “meets the parents” and the parents always end up acting like they like them far more than they like their own child. That always happens to me. And my boyfriends have hated me for it. Susanna closes by explaining that she’s liked Kevin from the start but “going to Grimsby has really cemented out friendship”. And that’s the first and last time anyone has said that.


They’re dancing to “On The Sunny Side Of The Street” and there is some literal choreography going on here. In that it suddenly becomes SUNNY

and then THERE IS A STREET. Sadly at no point does Natalie Lowe drive down it on a tractor with a straw of hay between her teeth, but maybe I’m expecting more Natalie Lowe cameos than I’m going to get after last week’s high. Also in terms of styling I think it was very nice of Susanna, not just to visit those children but to allow them to design the costumes for her and Kevin as well. (“THE MAN SHUD WEAR PURPLE AND A GOLD TIE AND THE LADY SHOULD BE IN A PRETTY YELLOW DRESS WIV FETHUHS ON IT”). The routine is very sunny and upbeat and happy and whilst it won’t be circulated on any “Best Of The Series” lists

it has at least produced some dance-faces for the ages. Everything’s so bright I’m starting to think the levels of drugs in everybody’s system has reached critical levels, and the evaporation of it through the skin into the air has caused a mass-level LSD freakout. So odd that a week so barmy on so many levels has produced so many quite bland dances.


No standing ovation, as Bruno starts for the judges by beaming that

“IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN SUSANNALAND!”. Except that one time Charlie Stayt nicked her special biscuits, but we don’t talk about that one. They were digging that fork out of the back of his thigh for HOURS. He still can’t walk right in winter. Anyway, Bruno loves the positive energy Susanna brings every week and thinks she’s always a joy to watch. Craig follows this up with a “ONE WORD : GORJUSS”.

Susanna rapidly approaching Defcon : Hammie here. Watch out Karen. Bruce meanwhile responds with “ONE WORD : THANK YOU”. Oh Bruce.

Darcey follows by telling Susanna that she loves her focus

and that she thinks there’s a movie star in her. Yes, she had Babe for dinner last night with some apple sauce and dumplings. Darecy does think she looked a little tentative in her lifts though. Len closes by saying that where last week was all bounce, bum and bongos, this week is all “smooth, suave and sophisticated”. Which probably explains why I won’t remember it 5 minutes after the show’s finished.

Up to the Tessanine they sprint, where Susanna grins that it’s so great to have Craig back and in such a GOOD MOOD. Tess puts this down to the medication, and asks Susanna if she felt safe in Kevin’s arms doing her first lifts of the series. Susanna


MASSIVE HE-MAN MUSCLES. Never mind Kevin, we all know lifts come from the legs anyway. Tess then asks Kevin if he thinks Susanna can win, and he says that she’s certainly got his vote. Just the one? Lazy. Flavia was autodialling for Louis all the way through that showdance (well it’s not as though anyone was looking at her was it?). Scores are in


Ben Cohen & Kristina Rihanoff dancing the quickstep

Ben amply demonstrating that yes, his hands are as big as Kristina’s whole head there. Think on that one, ladies. Bruce yells “IT’S BIG BEN TIME, LADIES!”, as the audience get their fivers out to tuck in his g-string. Bruce quickly recounts Ben’s interactions with the judges over the weeks, although the kisses have been downgraded retrospectively to hugs, lest people complain to OFCOM.

Craig knows though. He felt that tongue. It was real.

In his VT, Ben tells us that his dance last week was a really good opportunity to let go a little bit :

Really? If you’d let go a little bit, I would imagine Kristina would be suing you for the cost of a new nose. Ben goes on to say that it was lovely to get nice comments from Craig (mostly/entirely about how hot he looked) and they’ve inspired him to play the lottery this week. Are you suggesting the scores given out by the judges are entirely random Ben? I’m saying nothing…

Training now and

Ben’s levels of complete inaction are reaching parodic levels. Kristina crows that people are seeing Ben as a serious contender now, whilst Ben lolls around on the floor rubbing his eyes and sighing that he can’t really be arsed. Kristina tells him that he to believe in himself, and Ben hand-waves that he’s retired now, piss off. Kristina implores him desperately, for both their sakes, to get his will to win back, so Ben wanders off grumbling and immediately

sinks into the sofa of his uncle, World Cup Winner George Cohen. I guess desperately shoe-horning in barely relevant references to 1966 counts as a sort of competitive. The pep talk goes a bit like this :

Ben : “Really I feel like I’m just in a competition with ME, not with anyone else, and based on what I’ve done so far I think I’m fairly easy to beat so *shrug*”
Uncle George : “If you win, you get a trophy”
Ben : “Wooooo….” *slides off edge of sofa and falls asleep*


It’s like he’s finally found his dance.

He’s never looked more comfortable. (Although I’m surprised he hasn’t comically up-ended the thing) I think this could be his defining moment. Forget his rumba, forget his salsa truly this could be Ben’s breakth…

oh wait, he’s having to actually get up off his arse and dance. Never mind. He does at least have a really half-hearted

pillow fight to try and transition himself into it.

People (including me, a little) were gearing up all week for this to be his grand breakthrough, based on three seconds of training footage on It Takes Two, but I guess we were always kidding ourselves that someone of Ben’s size and…erm…girth could ever haul ass around the floor in hold like Michael Vaughan did. As should be obvious they’re dancing to the Friends theme tune and it’s a little unambitious (twice around the floor with some occasional stops for Kristina to spin her head around or for them to both to do little hops) but he carries it off fairly charmingly. Let’s face it, this is all just a stop-gap until he gets the guns out for a Hallowe’en Paso. Cannily, Kristina sets up the end-part of the routine as far as she possibly can from the sofa, so the greatest turn of speed Ben gets in the whole routine is sprinting back to it so

he can have a nice sit down again. Remember when Stephanie Beacham actually had to walk off the dance-floor to get this sort of relief? Not any more.

It doesn’t get a standing ovation, although up on the Tessanine, Ola’s face still reads

“oh shit, I’m going to lose to that aren’t I?” You might not Ola. You might not.

Craig starts for the judges, saying that Ben looked out of his comfort zone, and it all looked a bit “Joey” (well better than it being “Ross”, let’s face it, as much as Ross was my favourite) and it didn’t look like he was leading Kristina. She did throw the popcorn first, I guess. But anyway rest assured, Craig loves Ben’s face.

Craig, as ever, providing technical support.

Darcey follows, saying that she disagrees with Craig and thinks that Ben looked really light on his feet. The short period he was on them. She thinks Ben did the whole routine effortlessly, which was really the problem – it clearly wasn’t hard enough. Len is next and HAS SOMETHING TO SAY


Part of me wishes that Sophie and Brenda were now sat backstage waiting to come out with three changes of hat, a unicycle, a trampolene and a full marching band. Bruno closes by saying that he agrees with Len – if Ben had carried on faffing any longer at the start Bruno would have joined in and brought a pizza. Wearing his pyjamas. Just the bottom half. He claims that Ben has been teasing him for 5 weeks now and seriously Bruno

he’s just not that into you.

Up to the Tessanine they sproing, where Tess asks Ben if he’s enjoying himself on Strictly, and Ben says that it’s taken him a while, but he thinks he’s finally starting to get it now. Now that he’s had the bed installed in the training room. Scores are in


Sophie Ellis-Bextor & Brendan Cole dancing the salsambchurtains

Bruce tells us that he was talking to Sophie the other day about his singing career. Bet that was a short conversation. Although he DID once sing with the British Beyonce…

In her VT, Sophie tells us that before she went out onto the dancefloor last week for her foxtrot she was petrified, but as soon as the music started, something kicked in and she loved every second. I’d make a joke about drugs here but…clearly there have been enough of those already this week, so let’s say it was a LOVELY CUP OF TEA. Sophie sighs that the memory of the lovely comments from teache…I mean Len, brings a rosy glow to her cheeks even now.

Quite. Her VT closes with her saying that she thinks she’s going to find the cha cha… “CHA CHA CHALLENGING”. Seriously, worraspod. (<3)

Training now, and Sophie’s immediately complaining that she’s finding the cha cha far too fast. Brenda then announces, with a palpable note of despair in his voice, that as the cha cha is so fast “he” has “decided” that they’re going to try something “different” in training.

He deliberately loses this running race to make…Sophie think she is faster than he is so…on the night she is…really…comforted by how out-of shape he…oh bollocks to this, let’s get on with the dancing. (Incidentally, Sophie sprints in a manner that Phoebe Buffay would find ludicrous)


Looks like Brenda’s still wearing his jogging bottoms. Sophie is dancing her cha cha to P.Y.T by Michael Jackson, and it is everything I expected her party latin to be at the start of the series, which is to say

pigging awful. She looks by turns bored and embarrassed, her limbs are all over the shop, she misses step after step and does dad-dancing to cover.

I can’t believe it’s possible for someone to do really well in the samba and then flunk cha cha, but here we are. It shouldn’t be possible. PULL IT TOGETHER SOPHIE, WE BELIEVE IN YOU. I take some comfort from the fact that it was in the Pimp Slot and therefore probably went better than this, at some point.

It’s not much, but I’ll take it.

It gets nae standing ovation, and Darcey starts for the judges,

a bit lost, saying that a cha cha has to be lively, slick and cheeky and she thinks Sophie gave that.

MM’KAY. The only thing Darcey saw wrong with it was that Sophie has soft knees. Len follows and mercifully says that he disagrees. It was competent, but she clearly wasn’t feeling the spirit of the dance. It was too brittle. The audience boo, a bit, so of course Len

gets the face out again. She yer mahths and bow before Head Judge Len, peons. It was BRITTLE. He says he didn’t see any interplay between Sophie and Brenda and then Brenda smirks that he DEFINITELY felt some interplay and it all gets a bit weird and Len kind of implies that they had it off in rehearsal or something.

Bruno follows and straight-up fan-wanks that it was a sassy cha-cha where Sophie played a teasing temptress, and calls the whole thing “very nice”, and even Craig closes by saying that he “didn’t mind it”. I guess apple-polishing does pay off.

Up to the Tessanine they P.Y their T’s and Sophie tells Tess that she agrees with absolutely everything that all of the judges say. Brenda of course mutters

“I don’t”. I do love that Strictly’s original Johnny Castle bad-boy legend rebel-in-his-own-mind has actually finally been paired up with the judge-worshipping teacher’s pet who says “golly gosh” and probably knows the score averages for the winners of Dancing With The Stars Albania. Such a pairing.

Scores are in


And here is your final leaderboard


34 thoughts on “Strictly Come Dancing 11 – Week 5 Performance

      1. Genevieve

        …and in my opinion wearing black shoes for that jive was her undoing. Build me up Buttercup btw.

      2. Pops

        I seem to remember Arlene telling Gloria Hunniford and Darren that there was nothing more sensual than an older woman dancing with a younger man and they shouldn’t be afraid to be sexier together, and they both looked mortified. I can’t remember if that was after their jive or not, because I don’t know how much raw sexuality it’s possible to convey while jiving to Build Me Up Buttercup. Maybe they also did rumba?

      3. monkseal Post author

        I’m not saying that it’s cast-iron evidence that this week of the show was a bit dull that I’ve managed to derail the comments section into a discussion of Gloria Hunniford but…here we are.

  1. tal27

    Ross was really your favourite? I didn’t think anyone liked Ross? I hope “Captain Candy” will be making many more appearances!!

    1. Missfrankiecat

      Ross was my favourite – the leather trousers episode, the one where he got a fake tan, the one where someone ate his sandwich, “they were on a break” – isn’t he everyone’s favourite?

  2. Missfrankiecat

    Glad someone has called out Natalie as gurn queen – she’s a fantastic dancer but on the evidence of her facial portrayals a lousy actress. I found this week a really lacklustre week after enjoying it all up to now. Natalie’s tour de force aside (and good dance though it was, it was very far from samba as we know it) they were all a lot poorer than the judges were letting on with the points really being given for how well the pro concealed their mishaps. It’s coming to something when my favourite dance of the night was a simple, untechnical waltz even I could dance from Mark, simply on the strength of his well acted delivery.

    1. monkseal Post author

      I’m sure they’re all just gearing up for the inevitable first 10s of the series next week. But HOW MANY, that’s the question.

  3. conners1979

    Patrick and Anya doing ‘Misery’ for Hallowe’en week! I like it…

    This could be a goer, let’s make it a Stephen King theme week – Robin could really get the furniture moving in his ‘Carrie’ routine, Anton’s rictus grin is made to play Pennywise and frankly what’s not to love about a demented, axe wielding Iveta smashing through a bathroom door – “Here’s COLD HARD LITHUANIAN WOMAN”.

    Hey it would beat love week.

  4. Marquis

    Loved the Brendon quiz what about his other partners such as “bloody lulu” or that mad cyclist Penderton (?). Brendan has had some great partners. He must have really annoyed the person in charge of the pairings.

  5. John

    Can’t believe Karen Hauers approval rating was so low! She’s so lovely and smiley. Was it basking in Nicky’s likability void that did it?

    1. monkseal Post author

      A lot of her early choreography in Series 10 was…erm…”questionable”. Still shocked she scored lower than Jared who surely is the poster-child for making a bad impression.

  6. Left Feet

    Natalie close to the full five Chambers levels of gurning there. Mostly the actors either overplay the performance side or underplay it. Take that away and that Samba was bloody good, given that most samba’s are usually forgetable or awful.


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