The Clifton Family Smile-Time Variety Hour (feat. others).
Last week : Patrick got the first non-ringer 10s of the series, Sophie did the first Argentine Tango of the series, Dave did the first Venezuelan-Scottish fusion tango of any series, Mark did sadly the SECOND Bond themed rumba of any series (and it wasn’t any less tragic than the first one), Abbey dropped a prop for the FIRST TIME IN STRICTLY HISTORY but nobody reacted at all (in stark contrast with Dancing On Ice, where it would have been treated like the Kennedy Assassination, with a slow-motion tape of the hat hitting the floor and clattering about a bit treated like the Zapruder tapes with added “BOOOM! BOOOOM! RATTLE RATTLE RATTLE!” sound effects), Natalie had the second faint of the series but she’d also had the first one so she got rushed off to the Artem Chigvintsev Memorial Wing at Northwick Park, and Ashley’s quickstep innovated in no way whatsoever, but was still quite fun, and that’s why we love Ola Jordan.
THE GLAMOUR! FIRST TIME SOMEONE’S DANCED WITH A JCB AT BLACKPOOL SINCE GAVIN HENSON’S AMERICAN SMOOTH!!
Apparently the response from the audience to Susanna’s Paso Doble was the loudest noise ever recorded at Blackpool Tower Ballroom. I think she probably got lucky certain people weren’t still in the competition, is what I’m saying. One scream of “RUFFFFFFFFFFFFFLES!” would have beaten her hands down.
We start tonight’s festivities with a great big Carnival themed group dance featuring
brightly coloured costumes, Pasha’s chest-hair (hooray), Anton’s chest hair (…), lots of pointing at the audience, a veritable
army of hyper-mobile, exceptionally talented, body popping toddlers who are out to destroy humanity (one of them’s mouthing the words, and I’m sure Grinny in the middle will have him terminated after the dance forthwith), also some old people, Brenda doing that Brenda-move where he does a cartwheel and then, because he can’t pull off a backflip, just flails around angrily in the air like a cat that’s just got sat on,
a merry-go-round, Sophie Ellis Bextor looking like
a 10 year old who has been dressed up as a flower fairy for May Day and really doesn’t want to because she thinks she’s too old for it now, Abbey in the same dress but
customised by Julien MacDonald to show off her fanny, Ben giving a brief and horrifying preview of what’s going to happen if (/when) he gets to two-dance week
as he just stands there, arms outstretched, looking confused, Mark and Ashley having a
gurn-off and most bizarrely of all, the Strictly singers yelling “WHAT’S THIS? IT’S SOMETHING….SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY!”. Although to be fair “what’s this? it’s something…” has been my reaction to most pro dances this series as well.
Incidentally, every single dancer there is a member of the Clifton family. THEY ARE COMING FOR US ALL.
The music starts up and as usual at this time of year, the Spirit of Blackpool has taken Bruce
and given him a hernia. Although that’s nothing compared to the pain that Tess is currently in. Bruce welcomes everyone to Blackpool, and says that he can smell the pickled eggs from here. Bruce and his knowledge of the North is always a joy isn’t it? Remember how he just knew that Chelsee Healey downed pints of ale and went greyhound racing regularly. Funny Northern people. Bruce and Tess then get into a slightly
meandering pre-amble over how much was raised last night for Children In Need. Bruce thinks it might have been £3,000,000. Let’s just leave them to it for a bit, whilst Deborah Meaden sits by and thinks
“oh how cute, that’s what I spend on Christmas presents in a year when I’m budgeting”.
Once the haggling has been completed, Bruce sadly recalls how last night he was out walking on the pier mugged for his chips by a bunch of seagulls. And that’s the nearest any birds have been to Bruce’s saveloy in a long time.
Bruce goes on to say that one of the gulls reminded him of Tommy Cooper, and does an impersonation.
Oh Bruce, you probably shouldn’t be inviting comparisons with Tommy Cooper. For a number of reasons.
Tess reminds us that, in the absence of Bruce last week, Dave Myers was eliminated. Just like in the week he missed earlier in the series, Tony Jacklin got the boot. Yet another reason Bruce should take more time off there. Bruce sighs sadly that Dave was his favourite. Never mind Bruce, I’m sure you’ll find another one to give your benediction to (by grabbing their belly, giggling, and protesting to the judges that they don’t dance badly for a fat bastard). I’m sure they can’t wait.
The stars emerge from the wings as the denial to me of her Proud Mary jive becomes ever more tangily painful when it’s revealed they’ve
screwed a Fisher-Price clip on wig into Natalie’s head. I hope her true mane still exists in there somewhere, and they’ve not shaved it all off in preparation for an Aliens 3 themed paso doble for Movie Week.
Once everyone’s out, Bruce welcomes them to the bearpit of ballroom, and coos that they’ve all got such fabulous tans for having only been in Blackpool for 24 hours. Apart from Sophie of course, whose decision to hold out on the fake-bake is being held up as some sort of post-feminist crusade on a scale along with bra-burning and refusing to shave your nick-nacks. Bruce says that Anton looks particularly lovely this evening.
Fiona looks like she doesn’t agree. Fiona incidentally appears to be wearing about 7 different dresses at once. She looks like the sort of very gentille shoplifter who always gets nicked in the produce aisle at Harrods, smelling faintly of cat food.
Netball Captain, Duke of Edinburgh award medallist and Akela first class Sophie Ellis Bextor & Brenda Cole dancing the quickstep
I can only imagine the newsletter that went round after she got her tattoo, telling all the other girls not to copy and that she’d be having it laser’d off in the summer holidays. Bruce tells us that Sophie will be dancing to “The Lady Is A Tramp”, a song all about manners and etiquette. This segues into a joke about how Bruce is rude. I’m a little bit in love with the Brucie joke face of this woman in the bottom right hand corner.
I bet she’s a nurse. That’s a “yes Mr Forsythe, now it’s time for your cannula” smile if ever I saw one.
In Sophie’s VT, we cover her Argentine Tango, or as I prefer to remember it
the Kama Sutra of chair-sitting. Sophie says that she thinks her dance went well, and she was glad that she got such lovely comments from the judges, “with a general note to start bringing more character to the performance” (/give it more welly GURTCHA kapow blam WANGAWANGAWANGA). Brendan, dressed in a
Snood Of Despair grumbles that Sophie has a great attitude and really wants to be there and do well. I feel like there was a lot of editing out of things that Craig can stick up his arse from this clip. Sophie for her part just gaminely sighs about how nice it is to be able to dance at Blackpool, because she remembers watching Come Dancing with her mum. Ugh. Dancing just for dancing’s sake without any celebrity angle? What’s the point? I bet there wasn’t even Injury Porn.
Training no…oh no, wait, Sophie’s talking about her mum some more.
I suspect these may be distraction tactics along the lines of “oh…you want me to point my adorable children at the camera and exploit them for votes? Erm…erm…DID I MENTION I STILL HAVE A FAMOUS MUM?”. Sophie tells us that her mum is mostly (/only) famous for Blue Peter, but she did train as an actress. She can also play the ukulele, speak Russian, and legally drive a minibus. If you’re looking to hire. Sophie sighs that her mother is very “in touch with her feelings” and “theatrical” as though we hadn’t discerned that from the weekly bursting of the Hoover Dam going on weekly from the front row. This is all capped off with a shot of Sophie
being used as a prop on Blue Peter, and seriously, the Saffy & Edina parallels are hard to avoid aren’t they?
Anyway, in order to get hints on how to be a massive ham, Sophie decides to
take her mum out for afternoon tea at the Savoy. You can see why Rachel never had a chance for the Middle-Class Mums vote when things like this go to air can’t you? Janet flaps at Sophie that she
“needs to give her head permission to be fine” and then waffles on about the nature of performance and an artist’s life and how it still feels to her like Sophie is 10 years old and doing her ballet recitals (DIRTY RINGAH). Sophie just
eyes up the jam and goes to her happy place. I suspect Janet Ellis might not be a fan of wire hangers.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
The music strikes up and suddenly
some people who aren’t Brenda appear. As it’s early in the evening, and I’m not yet aware that every dance is going to have the entire cast of Gandhi wandering around in the background, I briefly fantasise that the lack of training footage, and the near complete absence of Brenda from that VT means that he has finally thrown a MASSIVE STROP and quit the show, telling Evil Moira Ross (in a rainbow wig) to STICK THIS RIGGED RUBBISH UP HER ARSE, BECAUSE THIS GIRL DESERVED TO WIN (“this girl” of course meaning Brenda) AND IT’S CLEARLY BEING RIGGED FOR ABBEY CLANCY WHO I SHOULD HAVE GOT ANYWAY, BECAUSE BRENDA COLE ALWAYS GETS THE MODELS ALWAYS forcing Sophie to try to cobble together the world’s first one woman quickstep with the help of some passing waiters. Sadly, Brenda has (for now) held on to his tongue and he
appears, and they quickstep. Because this is Blackpool Strictly where everything takes on the vibe of
some sort of infernal ballroom obstacle course there’s tables and chairs and chaisses-lounges all over the dancefloor, which she periodically dances round, over, or on. I’m a little surprised she doesn’t go down a slide into a giant pit of gunge at the end.
As a quickstep, it pretty much embodies that metaphor Len and Karen always go on about where the celeb is a swan, with their top half serene and their bottom half going crazy, and periodically they’ll try to break your arm. Although at points Sophie’s bottom half goes beyond frantic and it starts to look a bit like she’s running for the bus. Other than that, it’s definitely her era, definitely her style, and her hair is unfettered to fling itself around glamorously, so all in all it’s fun. She closes by launching herself off a chair into the arms of some waiting backing dancers.
I love how Sophie is still, two months in, slightly “tee hee” over guys touching her. (I’ll take the one on the left).
They wander over to Bruce and seriously, the Blackpool seating makes it impossible to tell who’s getting a proper Standing Ovation and who’s just getting 5 people stood near the judges to their feet, so excuse me if my perception and the holy spreadsheets are tarred by bias this week. Sophie, I think, gets one, after some awkward “oh shit, she’s coming this way, I’d better do one” shuffling. Sophie of course pulls
Sophie nerd-face and says what a lovely room this is.
Bruce introduces the judges by joking about Craig’s hip again, before Len
rears back like a spitting cobra so he can yell “SHUT THE DOOR AND CALL ME MARY!” and “YOU CAME AHHHHHHHHHHHT!” and “WAFTIN!” and other such Lennisms.
So, you know, he liked it. Sophie
cheers like someone just stumbled on “mnemonic”, gifting her the school spelling bee trophy. Bruno follows by saying that Sophie is definitely not a tramp…she’s a TEASE. He then does his “glamorous lady” voice and I guess the downside of this Year Of The Woman is we now have to hear Bruno do his seductive lady voice at least three times a week.
Craig is next and says that whilst he loved the “story” (woman goes for dinner, slags up the waiters, jumps on a chair) Sophie lost her top-line a fair bit and he felt like the whole dance was loose and jagged
and she sometimes forgot to worry about her left hand. Well who hasn’t done that occasionally? Darcey closes by saying the only thing (*twitch in one eye*) letting Sophie down was her top line – other than that, it was divine.
Sophie skips off gingerly and, as there are no stairs in Blackpool, it’s time for the one-off return of the
TESSPIT. It’s the little curtain that makes it home. Tess asks her what it was like to get a standing ovation in the Tower Ballroom, and Sophie says she’ll have to update her CV. I love that is Sophie’s first thought. Admin. I would expect nothing less. Tess asks Brenda if Sophie did him proud, and he says that he’s got a little twinkle in his eye and that that dance just made him a bit moist.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I BET IT DID.
Ahem. Anyway, he calls Sophie “young lady” (*boke*) and a “star” (oy) and then the scores are in
34. Storm’s a brewin’
Patrick Robotson & Anya Garnis dancing the samba
Bruce reminds us that Patrick used to be a member of the RSC – he then does the same joke he did a few weeks ago about Hamlet, but this time about MacBeth. VARIETY ISN’T DEAD!
Patrick and Anya’s joke faces are about the same as well. Nice continuity there.
In his VT, Patrick tells us that all his hard work last week definitely paid off
apart from the past where Anya nearly died but hey, nobody ever made an omelette without dropping a few pro dancers on their heads. He loved the music and he loved the choreography and he “just loved doing it”. He liked getting the nice marks and comments from the judges, and Anya smiles that she’s so proud of Patrick for “giving it 150%”. Still not the MOST fascinating pair are they?
Training now, and Patrick says that after getting 10s for his American Smooth, if he wants to top that he’s going to have to do a samba that fills the Tower Ballroom. Oh Patrick. There isn’t a special Blackpool 11 paddle. Although…I wouldn’t put it past them.
Anyway, he and Anya talk a lot about his NATURAL RHYTHM and then Anya decides she needs to do something to inspire Patrick into bringing said NATURAL RHYTHM out in his performance. Is it rollerskating? No, it’s
going to see a real samba band. I can’t help but feel that Davearch and emogirl82 playing the bongos is going to be a bit of a comedown in comparison. Anya gets Patrick to have a go at the drumming and then
he breaks his other wrist, the end. (Not really, but it would have been funny) (Well, not FUNNY funny, but you know what I mean).
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
If you squint, it kind of looks like Samuel L Jackson’s starring in a Ronald McDonald biopic. To start he winks at me and then gestures at me to follow him. Possibly to his van. I’m not sure it was really fair to have this on only 15 minutes or so after the OPENING CARNIVAL EXTRAVAGANZA, because it does feel a tad muted in comparison. And not just because it’s Patrick. Anya’s certainly
working it pretty hard, but I don’t think Patrick quite has the energy levels to pull off the very quick choreography she’s laid out for him. And of course there’s the point where Anya works it TOO hard and gets her heel caught in her bum foof
and the whole thing just falls to bits. He forgets to stick his arm out, he goes really out of sync with Anya, he just looks
sadly outmatched when she starts pulsing her nunga-nungas at the judges. Also for a samba being danced to Copacabana, it’s not nearly camp enough.
Had to be said.
It gets about three-quarters of a Standing Ovation, which Bruce yells at Patrick to ACKNOWLEDGE AND ENJOY. Which he does like this.
Now, if the whole dance had been that flamboyant, we would have been cooking. As Patrick gazes into space dementedly, Bruce congratulates Anya on dealing with her second wardrobe maflunction in as many weeks.
Anya knows where he’s talking to, clearly. He notably doesn’t congratulate Patrick, who responded like someone getting sucked into a pool filter.
Bruno starts for the judges, saying that that was a blistering hot samba, full of flavour. In fact it was so hot, he swears he heard a lady panting from the side. Oh Bruno, that wasn’t a lady. Walking from one side of the Tower Ballroom floor to the other takes it out of a Brucie. He tells Patrick that, despite the mistakes, he’s one of the best male samba dancers they’ve ever had. AND WHAT COMPETITION!
Craig follows, and says that he agrees with Bruno that Patrick is one of the best male dancers they’ve ever had. It’s just unfortunate that that particular dance all went horribly wrong. Of course this sets Bruno and Len off grumbling and Darcey whining “it was just one thing” (WAS IT DARCEY? WAS IT JUST ONE THING?). Craig sighs that he hopes that Patrick gets to do this dance again, in the semis. Lord only knows how they’ve tarted up the format so that can happen, so let’s just pretend he misspoke and carry on. Darcey’s next and praises Patrick as the argument rumbles on, for giving her a fast and pure technical samba.
Anya looks so bored of this show’s nonsense, two months in. Let’s start a prayer circle. Len closes by yelling that
THAT WASN’T A SAMBA! THAT WAS A WHAMBA! And that’s a good thing, not like when Louis’ salsa wasn’t a proper salsa and then when he did exactly the same dance in the final it was, somehow. A WHAMBA is a valid form of samba, no 6s from Len, phew.
Over to the Tesspit they boing, with Anya pouting and slouching the whole way bless her. Once they’re in, she beats herself up over how she ruined the dance again, and then Tess tells her not to worry – it’s not her faults, it’s Wardrobe’s.
And if there’s anybody who knows about getting screwed over by Wardrobe, it’s Tess. (And maybe Colin and Zoe if we’re taking about the Dancing variety). Tess goes on to talk about Patrick’s natural rhythm some more, and then just reads off judges comments randomly, knowing full well nothing interesting’s coming out of this combination of people and circumstances, until the scores are in
Kristina Rihanoff & Three Blokes dancing the American Smooth
Even Bruce sounds bored of calling him “Big Ben” at this point. And when Bruce is tired of ramming a catchphrase into the ground so hard it disrupts a nest of Mole People, then you know we’re in trouble. Bruce tells us that apparently Ben can’t decide whether to dance with his shirt off. In the end he decided not to.
Dance, I mean.
In his VT, Ben says that jive is a really fast dance, and involves you standing up and moving your limbs, so he had a problem with it, but he’s still a bit sad that Craig only scored him 4. This is nothing compared to Kristina who, as we all saw, put in a display of fury over the score that would have had Pazuzu hiding behind a cushion. Ben’s so glad he got through though, as he’s sure dancing ballroom at Blackpool will feel just like playing rugby at Twickenham. And be about as elegant.
Training now, and Ben explains that he will be dancing his American Smooth this week to “Fallin” by Alicia Keys. We’re treated to several shots of Ben gooning around in rehearsals, and Kristina snorts that Ben is not treating the American Smooth with the solemn dignity it deserves.
Ben sighs (again) that he’s lost his competitive edge (again), so Kristina decides on a plan to bring it back. That plan being
Buckaroo. He loses, easily, mostly I would imagine because of the sheer effort he’s having to exert just to keep the upper half of his torso off the ground.
That’s better. He has the same problem in Twister, as gravity takes its toll about 5 seconds in, and he slumps, nearly crushing Kristina in the process. Then they go to a fun-fair and Ben wins on a “Test Your Strength” machine. He says this has now brought out his competitive side again. Sure it has Ben. Sure it has.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Never has she looked more like a campy 60s Bond villain called Vera Spetsnatz. I feel like her burly henchman should have names like “Oleg” and “Viktor” and “Spork” emblazoned on their black jumpsuits. I feel like every time they make contact with her or Ben a little cartoon star should appear saying “WHAMMO!” or “SPLAT!”. Sadly, Kristina is not here to perform the best Batman themed routine since Chris Parker ran round with his cape over his head. She’s here to
do literal American Smooth to “Fallin”. Ben is here to watch, mostly.
Maybe join in a bit if he feels like it.
Maybe help Kristina change some of the lightbulbs in the chandelier (hey, a boy has his uses). What dancing he does is alright, although he’s very very airy and light up on his toes. It’s not elegant, but it gets the job done without being too hard to watch.
Ta’dum. I can’t quite believe that in Week 1 he was the one I was praising for trying to do the dance fully and properly.
It gets about half a standing ovation, if that. Down in the Tesspit, Fiona thinks
“oh sure, Kristina gets four burly men for HER American Smooth, I get an Anton”. Craig starts for the judges, yelling that BIG BEN IS BACK IN THE BALLROOM!
That invisible baby’s never coming down is it? Anyway, Craig goes on to say that Ben motored around the floor, but he would have liked to have seen more style. Darcey follows by saying that Ben carried that off with ease. “That” presumably being Kristina.
Len follows by saying that for him he thinks it’s stupid for Craig to say that Ben’s come back when for Len, he never went away. How ironic he says that following a dance where Ben was barely on camera for the first half of it. He praises Kristina for bothering to teach him heel-leads, because lord knows half these new female pros from Bongo Bongo Land don’t bother, but he thinks that Ben was “too whimsical” out of hold. To be fair, Len might be right. He might have popped on a Groucho Marx fake moustache whilst Kristina was doing her thing, we’ll never know.
Bruno closes by praising Ben for producing a performance of great warmth and care. Jeez, with all the dry ice flying around the last thing I’d praise is “warmth”. I bet Kristina’s down-belows are FREEZING.
Over to the Tesspit they charge, where Tess stares intently at him and starts jabbering that Ben’s competitive side has clearly kicked in. Whatever Tess. I don’t think I’ve seen a SPORTSMAN give less of a damn ever. Even Ramps cared a little bit, mostly because Karen would have stabbed him if he didn’t. Ben’s all “LOL no it hasn’t but whatever, it was fun”. Tess then brings up Craig’s 4 again and
STEP BACK, SHE’S GONNA BLOW! Scores are in
32. Tess swiftly lines herself up to block Brenda rolling his eyes in the background.
Jordan Taylor Jordan & Ola Dawson dancing the paso doble
It’s like if Simon Cowell had forced Will Young to stay in the closet and marketed him his way isn’t it? Bruce tells us that Ashley had decided he’s going to be a cowboy this week. Sure he has Bruce. Sure he has. It was ALL HIM. (It’s times like these I sorely regret never getting a screencap of Gavin being asked if he enjoyed being a cowboy. It would have been in the Pantheon for sure).
Anyway, apparently Ashley asked for a pair of wrinkly old chaps and the costume department immediately sent for Bruce and Len.
Oh God, the thought of Bruce’s wrinkly old chap just made me throw up in my mouth a bit, do excuse me.
VT time now, and Ashley says that he really enjoyed the dance, and he’d quite like to get copyright on Len’s comment about the dance being “taylor-made” for him. Good luck wrenching anything Len’s ever said off him. I personally have to pay him 50p every time I use the word “seven” in one of these recaps.
Training, and Ashley informs us that his paso doble will have a “Wild West” theme. Presumably in that it will involve the attempted wrangling of a hell of a lot of bull. Ola tells us all very sternly
that Ashley will have to be strong, masculine, rugged and aggressive. Whilst dressed as Woody from Toy Story On Ice. To help him get into his rootin, tootin, rowdy rustlin character, Ola has brought in
a giant noose. Hang on Ola, he’s not that bad! This not working because Ashley’s about as good at handling rope as I am, Ola decides to move her tactics up a notch.
In a Blackpool arcade for a novelty photoshoot. Only time will tell if this shot features in Ola’s forthcoming calender : “Ola Jordan : Squintin’ And Spreadin’ ‘Em Around The World 2014”.
TO THE SALOON!
Look at Ola there, queening it up as the Barbara Windsor of the Alamo. There she stands, flirting away with some ranch-hands, until the saloon doors swing open and
HERE COMES THE STRIPPER! Sadly, the hen party has already departed for 2-for-1 shooters at Jumpin Jaks, so Ashley’s going to have to paso doble for his money. He swings his cape around as the music starts (noted cowboy anthem “You Give Love A Bad Name”) and Ola’s henchmen do the most hilarious combination
of burly and mincy around him as he does so. Like, they’re swinging their fists and hunching their shoulders like Wreck-It Ralph, but their bottom halves are skipping round the floor like Pepe Le Pew. Ah, dancers. This swishing arouses the Queen Of The Old West from her whiskey-induced stupor
and also Ola. Bruno will just have to watch.
Once Ola’s done pawing at Ashley’s face she
nicks his hat ’cause she thinks it looks pretty. Then she and Ashley have a slap-fight over who gets to wear it. Seriously, this is the gayest paso ever. This happens
and I swear, if you listen hard enough, you can hear the one on the right going “ooooh, get her!”. It’s odd because he’s acting the dance pretty well with the face
but his boy-band style dancing and slight swishiness combine with all the leatherette and the Brokeback Drag-Queen theme to deflate the whole thing slightly. It is a right laugh though. I think I might only really adore Ashley Jordan-Ashley when he’s playing dress-up. How many theme weeks have we got left? (like that makes any difference these days). Oh also
KNEE-SLIDES! It would be remiss for Ola to choreograph them in and me not mention them.
It gets about half a Standing Ovation (screw you and your awkward seating Blackpool Tower Ballroom, seriously) and Darcey starts for the judges, telling us that the paso doble is all about the man being a strong matador, and whilst Ashley wasn’t a matador, a cowboy will just have to do. This after weeks of Meatloaf, Spaceman Spiff, Ben The Jizz-Lord and…well…Anton. Now we comment on it. Apparently. Anywho, Darcey thinks Ashley had strong attack and created some good lines. Not as good as the ones Evil Moira Ross (in a rainbow wig) was snorting when she foisted that theme on them. Darcey particularly praises them on the quality of their “tuck”. Like I said, total drag queen routine. Darcey closes by saying there’s just one thing that she would oops just put my foot through the telly how embarrassing.
Len’s next, and he praises Ashley for getting stronger and stronger(/gayer and gayer) throughout the routine and says that this makes two weeks in a row of greatness for Ashley. He then starts yelling
“WHIP IT AND WAIT! WHIP IT AND WAIT!”. Thanks Len. Real insight into your private life there. Bruno follows, yelling about his private cowboy fantasies and he disagrees with Len, saying that he thinks Ashley was strong (/gay) from beginning to end.
Craig closes by saying that the theming didn’t really do it for him, and Ola’s look of comedy outrage only confirms that
that theme had literally nothing to do with her whatsoever. Craig snorts that he’s into the “bizarre and the extraordinary”, which would certainly explain his infatuation with Lisa Riley.
THAT’S GREAT HUN WELL DONE YOU FOR HAVING AN OPINION OTHERS WOULD DISAGREE HAVE A FAB WEEKEND! xxx
Sorry, don’t know how that one got in. Ahem. Anyway, Craig thinks it was good. I think. Despite the theme.
Over to the Tesspit they shoot, where Tess gets all conspiratorial and chummy about how Ashley is a
REET NORTHERN SALT OF THE EARTH LAD BACK TO DANCE IN THE NORTH EE BYE GUM ECKKY THUMP WHIPPETS AND BARM CAKE. Ashley is from Wilmslow. Ashley says it’s great to be back, and Ola says she’s very proud that she and Ashley have got this far, as Tess sprays her cue-cards around everywhere like a malfunctioning rolodex. Scores are in
Bunton Paso-Face Scale : 0.44 – disgruntled goat
Fiona Fullerton & Anton du Beke dancing the American Smooth
Ah, so that’s why they went out. The grins went out of sync. Also I neglected to score Fiona’s paso face last week, so I’ve run the old Buntometer over the footage, and it came out as a 0.73 – “Pissy Mrs Tiggywinkle”. So now you know. Bruce tells us that the theme for their routine is “airport”. I think Evil Moira Ross (in a rainbow wig) might have pulled these themes out of a “learn to read” book. A is for Airport, B is for Beach, C is for Cowboy, D is for Desperately Shoehorning Backing Dancers In Because Your Partner Has All The Motility Of A Shopping Trolley…
Of course, this won’t be the first time this series we’ve seen Anton’s jumbo jet.
In her VT, Fiona says that she was really pleased with her paso doble last week, because she gave it plenty of welly. Well, if she’d drawn it out of the Strictly Sorting Hat for this week, there would have been even more welly, as she would have been dressed up as Charlie Dimmock with Anton as a cheery sunflower. The cape would have been a tarp, and all the backing dancers would have been giddy garden gnomes. Then the judges would have slammed her for being too cutesy. Anyway, Fiona says she was really hurt when Craig said that she was forgettable
so she’s going to try her damndest not to produce another forgettable routine this week (LOL OOPS).
In training now and
oh…erm…I’ll just leave you two to it. Ahem. Fiona tells us that the most terrifying part of the American Smooth for her will be the lifts, as we see her being hauled around pulling a bunch of faces that look like NASA cadets going through their G-Force training. On another TOWIE tea-break
Fiona says that she’s never done anything like this before, and Anton tells her not to worry. “On The Couch with Anton” is probably my favourite aspect of the training of these two. Imagine having Anton as your therapist. He’d make you look in the mirror 5 times a day and say “HA HA MARVELLOUS!” as your life-mantra.
As therapy for Fiona’s fear of lifts, Anton
takes her up the Blackpool Tower. Write your own jokes.
TO THE AIRPORT!
Seriously, I bet if you gave her a light shake, a load of quails eggs and smoked salmon would fall out. As Fiona checks in her baggage
even more of it arrives, in the form of Anton and his Bitchy Flight Attendants. Including one who really seems to be struggling with the concept of “gloves”. My favourite is the one who’s all
“LOOK AT ME! I’VE GOT A CRAVAT, BITCHEZ!” Sadly, these seductive minxes are not enough for Captain Anton, who abandons their feminine wiles to go dance with Fiona, to “Come Fly With Me” (but of course). I have to say, for all that Anton is King Of Ballroom, his American Smooths are always a little bit phoned-in for me. I don’t think he trusts being out of hold, or lifts, for the sort of delicate older ladies he’s usually partnered with. On both scores Fiona
looks reasonably comfortable on her own doing the soft-shoe shuffle but
in lifts she looks a bit like she’s suffering a dodgy uncle, kindly. Just to remind you, in passing to that last lift, at the start of the series we all though Fiona was going to be a secret BALLET RINGER. Think on.
Even in this environment I can tell it gets no sort of Standing Ovation, and she wanders over to Bruce, whilst we get a brief and probably unintended shot of the Secret Life Of The Tesspit
with Tess potentially being interfered with by a runner. CALL VERNON. Len starts for the judges by saying the attitude was first class, the movement was a little bit business class, and the lifts were a little bit economy.
Len Goodman – Man Of The People there. Using “business class” as an insult. He and Anton then trade banter whilst Fiona tries not to reach for her stiletto. Bruno follows by doing his glamorous lady voice (again) and says it was first class, but at times when she turned her head she looked a little lost, like she was saying “where’s my handbag?”. It got confiscated by security because she stuffed a couple of bottles of Premier Krug in there Bruno.
Craig follows, saying that he would have liked the dance to be smoother throughout, and the timing on the “back-up step, when she went back up the stairs” was “out of whack”. Technical advice from Craig there. Whatever sweet Fiona’s sucking on for landing, I think it might be
slightly sour. Craig says that he did like the soft-shoe section though. Darcey closes by saying that she too liked the little details Fiona put in during “that shuffle thing” but she criticises Fiona heavily, ballerina to ballerina, for not being helpful to Anton with the lifts. Particularly the fact that
her legs were splayed wider than the Blackpool Tunnel. Anton lythely jokily lies that he choreographed that bit especially for Darcey, and then Bruno snorts loudly that Anton really will say anything won’t he? Pot, kettle, entire kitchenware section at Debenhams…
Over to the Tesspit they fly, and Fiona immediately starts pouting over blowing the lift.
Tess hoots that Fiona didn’t blow it. As far as she could tell. From underneath the runner. Tess then reveals that it went even worse in Dress Rehearsals, thanks a lot Tess. She then gets Anton to do his “King Of Ballroom” schtick, as he says “marvellous” a lot and guffaws that he was born here in the Tower Ballroom. Spiritually speaking. Scores are in
Abbey “ME NERVES” Clancy & Aljaz Skorjanec dancing the quickstep
Bruce tells us that he tried to get Abbey to go and see a Punch & Judy show whilst in Blackpool, but apparently Sophia, Abbey’s daughter, doesn’t like Mr Punch. Too right.
In her VT, Abbey says that she thinks her Charleston went really well, and she never imagined in all her life that she’d hear Darcey Bussell say the words
“Well done Aljaz, you have made a true dancer out of Abbey”. Well…yes, that would take some imagination, especially as for most of her life I’m sure Abbey would have thought “Aljaz” was a brand of detergent. Next she closes out the segment by rolling out her Blackpool credentials.
When she was little her mum used to take her and her brother to see the illuminations. Eh, I’ve heard better. Craig Kelly rescued an entire box of orphaned kittens from a Tower Ballroom blaze once. I think.
Training now and
I would quite like an “I Feel sLOVEnia” t-shirt, if anybody’s offering. I honestly think I don’t abuse my readers for gifts enough. I don’t even have an Amazon giftlist set up. You’re so lucky. Anyway, Abbey says she thinks dancing the quickstep at the Tower Ballroom will be like stepping back in time, and guess what, Aljaz has a plan to help her get into the mindset of the 1920s.
LET’S GO HARASS SOME OLD PEOPLE!
Needless to say all the old dears stare blankly at Aljaz all “wtf? You’re not Kevin from Grimsby? We were promised LOVELY KEVIN FROM GRIMSBY not some immigant. NIGEL FARAGE IS RIGHT, THROW EM OUT!”. Well apart from
this one. She loves a bit of Aljaz. She tells Abbey to cling on to him as tightly as possible, and never let go. Also during the quickstep. The rest of them? Abbey and Aljaz do their quickstep for them and they’re all “eh, it’s worth about an 8” and then Abbey speechifies that she wants to go to Blackpool and do her new friends proud as they all
nibble on their Hob Nobs and wonder “oh is she still filming?”
TO THE SEASIDE!
Who would have thought Aljaz’s booty could get more ample? Anywho, Abbey is dancing her quickstep to that old-tyme classic “Walking On Sunshine”. It’s quite jaunty and quite giddy and it’s trying very very hard to be fun and carefree without quite landing it. I also hate to go on about it, because it’s one of those words that gets picked up excessively by us non-dancers watching the show, as we feel it’s one of the few technical areas we can spot to comment on, until it gets driven into the ground and becomes the only thing talked about with regards to a dance that has lots of technical aspects (see also : “swivel”, “Spanish Lines” and new for this series “top-line”) but
gapping gurl, look into it.
The messing around near the giant bucket and spade lends the whole thing a slightly surreal edge as well, less “Seaside Special”, more
“Honey I Shrunk The Scouser”. That said, the Charlestony sections are quite charming, it feels quite precise and neat outside of the GAPPING, and I do like the kicks
can’t think why.
It gets…three-quarters of a standing ovation, I think. Although an entire quarter of those is
Peter Crouch, blocking out all light to those poor people stood behind him. Bruce grins at them that he’s loved that dance ever since he saw it in rehearsals. BRUCE TURNS UP FOR REHEARSALS? I am surprised. I figured it was Hot Ginger Floor Manager doing an impersonation whilst Bruce sunned himself in his cryopod until showtime. Bruno starts for the judges, cackling that that was a quickstep on PLEASURE BEACH. She deserves a refreshment…and it can only be
CHAMPAAAAAAAAAAGNNNNNNNNNNNNE. If there’s any left. Also did anybody mention that Abbey is a NON-DANCER? Because Bruno’s about to do it again. Craig follows, slightly more subdued
saying there was too much gapping, her chin was too far down and her frame was too loose. Bruno yells “CUT THE CRAP!” and then grabs his nose in mock-disgust. Normally I love a good Bruno swear but “crap” is nothing and it felt about as uncontrived as when he fell off his chair. Bruce’s face through this is AMAZING though
He looks like Craig just shot Bambi.
Darcey follows up, whilst scratching her leg (so into it) that for a tall and leggy lady, Abbey has shown us all that she handles quick moves really well. EVERY dance now being difficult for the tall celebrities to do apparently. However, there was JUST ONE BIT (………..) where Abbey’s elbows started jiggling madly like Riverdance on Crack. Other than that it was very controlled. Certainly nothing that would prevent someone getting a perfect score (*wink*). Len closes by saying that if Abbey were a stick of Blackpool Rock, she’d have “Talent” written right through her. Also she’d be a bit less skinny, let’s face it.
Over to the Tesspit they bounce, where Tess apologises for Bruno’s language. Whichever one he’s speaking in today. She then turns to Aljaz and asks him if this is his first time in Blackpool
CAUSE HE’S FOREIGN, INNIT. HE PROBABLY DOESN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT A BLACKPOOL IS. Aljaz says it’s not the first time, but definitely the best time. Then he winks. Everyone then yells “SMOOTH!” at our Sexy Frankenstein, and then Tess decides to lampshade what’s about to happen by asking Abbey how it would feel to get a 10. Scores are in
37. What a surprise!
Mark Benton & Iveta von Tussle dancing the jive
Bruce tells us that Mark was in the dance-off last week, but it was because people decided not to vote for him just so they could see Iveta in the catsuit again. Logic-mangling worthy of a Digital Spy poster there.
VT time now, and Mark sighs to us that he found the rumba extremely hard to do. Especially without the bonus points all the poor widdle macho sportsmen get for having to reveal their FEELINGS(/Kristina’s boobs). He says that he had trouble getting everything to flow together, and he really feels like he let Iveta down. We’re shown further evidence of this from last week, as we get a post-show interview where he just stands there going
“BLORB BLORB BLORB” like a goldfish before collapsing crying on Iveta’s shoulder. Iveta clearly is
bemused but understanding of these human emotions. COLD HARD WOMAN NO CRY OVER SPILT RUMBA! WHEN IVETA SISTER CRY AS CHILD, NO POTATO FOR HER! *spit*
In training now, Mark tells us that he’s got the jive this week, to be danced to “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from Hairspray. Because lord knows Paso and Rumba in a row wasn’t enough. Iveta takes Mark to one side and tells him that he really needs to nail the technique of all the kicks and flicks and the bounces and Mark
goes pale and says that he doesn’t think he’ll really be able to bounce given the state his knees are in. Iveta’s all “KNEES? FUCK KNEES! WHO NEEDS KNEES? MOST 10-DANCE CHAMPIONS (WHICH IVETA IS, TWICE) HAVE ONLY ONE FUNCTIONING KNEE AND BY END OF CAREER EVEN THAT IS LOCATED SOMEWHERE AROUND MIDDLE OF SHIN. DO YOU NEED KNEE FOR ACTING CAREER? NO! YOU CHARACTER ACTOR, YOU PLAY PLENTY CRIPPLE, NOW GET TO IT! IVETA HAS ALREADY EXHAUSTED ETIQUETTE LADY’S LIFE SAVINGS ON FUR COATS AND PRIVATE JET! DANCE MONKEY DANCE!”.
Of course, she’s only being motivational. She has a
Mark next plays his “I am Northern So I Love Blackpool” card and says that he can’t wait to show Iveta around. Iveta’s “YAY!” when they arrive suggests she bloody hates it (<3). It does appear she has taken a brief detour en route to
life-thief the abbot of a nearby monastery. Mark has bought her some fish and chips. She grins “MY FAVOURITES!” and then noticably does not eat any of it on camera at all.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
I would just like to take this moment out to appreciate Iveta’s utter lack of reaction as the female backing dancers flail around to the backing music.
So Iveta. So Ivetamazing.
As attempts to get Mark to do a dance Mark was never going to be able to do, it easily out-points his rumba. Obviously he can’t, as Brenda so elegantly put it, pump into the floor, but he’s got a nice rhythm to his movements, it’s fun to watch and
THE DINOSAUR makes an appearance. He’s also noticeably managing to get
more air off his kicks than either Ben or Abbey did in their respective jives, so well done. It’s all very musical theatre and frantic and there are times where it’s blatant that they’ve just lifted bits from the routine he does in drag from Hairpsray, but whatever, the blatant unfairness of the dance draw has left me firm in rooting for these two. It’s definitely less grim than when Robin made Anita Dobson dress up as a teenage girl to do the same routine.
It gets no standing ovation, and Mark stomps over to the judges where Bruce is immediately on him, hooting about how if ever there was a dance that WASN’T FOR MARK this was it. Yeah, because the rumba was a flipping peach of a draw last week wasn’t it? Craig starts for the judges saying that it was flat-footed and stompy, and it looked like Mark had flippers on the ends of his leg. Just you wait for his frogman themed foxtrot Craig. Danced to “Under The Sea” from The Little Mermaid. Craig closes by saying that he knows it’s ENTERTAINING because that’s the magic codeword for crap dances these days to stop people voting for them. HE GETS THAT MARK BRINGS SOME EXCITEMENT INTO YOUR GREY LITTLE LIVES PEOPLE, HE DOESN’T LIVE IN AN IVORY TOWER. He personally would like more technique but…he loved the song? Yes, this is Craig “ending on a positive note” people. “I liked the song”.
Bruce snots that Craig is like a fun fair – he’s not fun and he’s not fair (?). He then starts going on about how Craig needs to bear in mind how difficult jive is for a man of this size (*jabs hand at Mark*)
and I feel the Earth just opened up and swallowed us all.
Darcey swoops in to try to save us by grinning that that was a
show-stopping performance, but Mark needed to get his weight further forwards, and get up onto the balls of his feet. Len follows, praising the dance for being joyous and light-hearted and then starts talking about a massive organ
which I’m happy to not go into in any further detail if you are. Bruno closes by thanking Mark for giving him a fantastic and fun ride (…) that put the feelgood factor through the roof. Mark danced more than he ever has before, and whilst the kicks and flicks could have been sharper, Bruno had a great time watching him. Sometimes it would make me laugh if Craig hooted “CUT THE CRAP!” when the other judges soft-shoe someone like this but…I guess the days of Craig going full panto are over. He’s got investments to protect.
Over to the Tessanine they spray, and Mark tells her that he loved doing that. Tess grins conspiratorially at him and tells him
that she’s heard it’s his birthday today! Everyone cheers, whilst Mark looks down bashfully, perhaps aware of the reality tv curse around people getting eliminated on their birthday/wedding anniversary/day they would have graduated from college if they hadn’t chucked in school for their dream of becoming America’s Next Top Model. Mark says it was a really nice birthday present to get to do such a fun dance etc etc, and then Tess asks him if he think he CAME BACK FIGHTING after knocking Dave out last week. Mark says he did. Thanks Tess. Scores are in
Susanna Reid & Kevin From Waltham dancing the paso doble
Some guyliner left over from his days as a goth there. Bruce tells us that Kevin and Susanna will be doing a traditional Spanish paso doble. What no dressing up as seafood? No giant water-slide leading down to the dancefloor? No disco music? *buckles self in* Apparently Bruce was told by Susanna that she’s going to close her eyes and imagine she’s in Madrid. Apparently she picked the tip up from Karen Hauer. Apparently she does it every Friday night. Regular as clockwork.
VT time, and Susanna declares that her dancing her waltz last week was
“just one of those Strictly moments”. Like Jill’s jive, or Tom’s showdance, or when Letitia Dean almost threw up on Tess or Bruce chased all of McFlea round with a broom yelling “FUCK OFF!”, we will remember it forever. She then says that Len “lights up her life” just like her waltz song said, and oh God here comes dinner again… We’re then treated to her post-dance backstage celebrations and
apparently she decided to recreate her samba. It doesn’t really work out of costume, Su.
Training now, and Kevin tells us that Susanna will be dancing the passionate paso doble on the grandest stage of them all. He reminisces about his time dancing as a boy as we are treated to some
super-grainy home video footage. Really that could be anybody dancing there. It’s a bit like in the old days when I tried to get screencaps from the Standard Definition feed. Susanna meanwhile says that she’s been to Blackpool in her role as a serious journalist (I think it was a hard-hitting Breakfast News item about how whelks are BACK ON BRITAIN’S MENUS AND SEXIER THAN EVER) but she’s never been there for a fun day out. Well…Kevin’s going to put a stop to that, in all his
He walks Susanna into the Tower Ballroom blindfolded so that her reaction upon seeing it for the first time can be recorded for all eternity.
Yes…that’s erm…quite some reaction. You’re a bit old to be auditioning for Disneyland Paris adverts, love. Kevin walks her in, and tells her that he’s about to show her something very few people get to see. Then she has
play on his Wurlitzer. Filth.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
IT’S ON FIRE! I feel like the last few series of cowboy pasos, spacemen pasos, pasos where Pasha has half a bog-brush stuck to his face, pasos where Bloody Lulu is launched at me dressed like a bat waving her knitting needles in my face, pasos on flying bicycles, pasos that mostly involve Robbie Savage grabbing his dick in Craig’s face, Countdown Clock tribute pasos and whatever it is that Russell Grant did, have all been leading up this moment, where Kevin Clifton takes things FULL PASO. Not that Susanna doesn’t play her part, swishing her skirt
twizzling her hands
and Zoolandering her face, but this is Kevin’s dance, and she’s just caping in it. Special credit must go to him for wearing those matador pants
despite not having the assets of, say, Aljaz, to fill it. He leaps, he twirls, he stomps his cucarachas, he snorts up his Spanish lines like Colombia’s finest, he leads, he commands, he bites his wee teeth like a little snapping turtle and he summons up a
GIANT TIDAL WAVE OF BLOOD to symbolise when he stabs Susanna to death at the end. For some reason my favourite part is when they both stomp forwards clapping their hands in time to the music like they’re doing the end of Radio Gaga.
SO SPANISH THAT ELIZABETH THE FIRST JUST SHAT HERSELF.
Susanna herself is…I dunno…maybe a little stompy and the overarm turns at the end are a little mangled but…you can’t deny the spectacle can you? I asked for her to give me something different from gurning 50s showbiz and she did it. She looks like she’s about to try to break the Guiness record for “World’s Biggest Car-Park Brawl Over Looking At Her Man” funny. Actually, can we have that over this year’s It Takes Two pro competition?
Of course, Susanna lies there
Ashley Taylor-Dawson’ing herself for the next half hour, because whilst the rebirth of the GODDESS OF DAHNCE in her three-yearly cycle has been botched with injuries and exhaustion from her vessel, the reincarnation of Dr Hammy has been a perfect match. Bruce of course yells “SUSANNA, DON’T GO TO SLEEP!” because there’s a standing ovation happening and Lord knows she can’t miss out on that.
Darcey starts for the judges, calling it a wonderfully traditional paso doble and telling Susanna that she ate the dancefloor up
Like a giant ham? She loved the drama and the dynamics and thinks Susanna was a beautiful gypsy girl. Len follows by calling it a buffet of tasty morsels, like a Spanish tapas. I particularly admired the shots we got of her patatas bravas. Susanna grins “thank you Len” like she’s only a nanosecond away from throwing up the prayer hands. Bruno follows by just
throwing out his O face mostly, and Craig closes by saying that he thinks Susanna was “channelling Chita Rivera”. Filth. Meanwhile
Brenda seethes, ever so slightly. I kind of wish they’d replaced Starship Karen (RIP) with Brendacam, so I could check in on his complex emotions at any point during the show I wanted.
Over to the Tesspit they bull, where Susanna goes
slightly glazed over and talks about how magical it all was. Kevin meanwhile goes on about his ballroom heritage with Tess, again, some more, for the 50th time this series. Scores are in
Bunton Paso-Face Scale: 0.60 – Blue Steel Squirrel
The Ever-Disintegrating Natalie Gumede & Artem Chigvintsev dancing the Charleston
Bruce tells us very solemnly that Natalie couldn’t dance last week, and hence was given a bye to this week. Can you remember a time when Natalie’s VT wasn’t slowly disintegrating? I do find it hilarious that people think she’s fabricating and exaggerating all this for votes. It’s…not exactly a marketing strategy I’d consider.
VT time and
the hair…the hair we lost. Such a tragedy. Anyway, in the end it turns out it was just exhaustion so she’s READY TO GO AGAIN WOOOOOOOOO. *wobble* *twitch* *wobble* The angst continues as she and Artem
slump on the sofa and she wails to Artem that she feels like she’s let him down by not getting to dance his jive on the show. Artem’s all “whatever, I choreograph them in about 5 seconds to be honest, remember Kara’s jive? No? Neither does anybody else”. I do feel intensely sorry for Natalie at this point, because her time on Strictly for the last month or so has been here careering from one disaster to another, and even a DIRTY RINGAH deserves better. I hope she gets to do something genuinely triumphant at some point.
Training now, and Artem and Natalie both say that this week is about taking it slowly and easing back into the competition. And because it’s a Charleston, you can do that and still get 10s whatever. Natalie sighs that Artem has been so gentle and supportive and sensitive to her needs
5 seconds before footage of her doing this. Repeatedly. It’s a wonder any of his partners live to see the end of the series isn’t it? Natalie then slams her “erm I’m actually from Lancashire unlike every single other person ever to beg to get to Blackpool ever” card down. And good for her.
TO THE SPEAKEASY!
Artem knocks on the door, and says the password is “Blackpool”. Part of me does hope the backing dancer behind the door says “no it isn’t”, slams the shutter closed again, and that’s the end, and Artem wanders off looking baffled. Intsead, he enters
and I will says for all the rest of its faults, I do love the opening panorama. Artem picking up gangsters behind him as he goes as he dances up to Natalie, who is Betty Boop/Josephine Baker’ing it up on a solo podium. If the whole dance had kept that energy and vibe up the whole way through, I would have loved it. Instead it just goes a bit
messy and off-kilter. The music isn’t helping – “Bang Bang” is a somewhat inspired choice for a Charleston if you can find a band who can do it, or are on Dancing With The Stars and can just say “sod it” to Charleston, throwing in hip-hop for the hip hop bits. But instead there’s no real edgy elements, and the band have slowed the music right down so the whole thing just feels a bit
awkward. I think Natalie really could have danced a genre-defining Charleston, I just think that due to her obvious current limitations and the thematic mess of it…she didn’t. This face is quite fun though
as gurns go.
It gets about half a Standing Ovation, if that. Len starts for the judges, yelling about the BLACKPOOL ILLUMINATIONS, then Bruno yells about William and The Great Gatsby and Josephine Baker
whilst Darcey continues to scratch her calf with utter disinterest. Craig follows, as we rapidly run out of time, telling her it was sensational, and Darcey closes by saying that she loved the details Natalie gave the dance, as well as the character.
Over to the Tesspit they sprint, where Natalie hoots, voice cracking ever so slightly, that she’s sorry to have worried everyone last week but SHE’S BACK!
BACK WITH FUN! NO DRAMA! NO FAINTING! NO EPIDURALS! NO BROKEN NOSES! JUST FUNNITY FUN FUN FUN! God I hope so. Or at least a murderous paso doble. Scores are in
So much overscoring. So little time.