Just another set of Blackpool Eliminations.
We start with a sequel to hit Oscar-winning period drama “The King’s Speech”.
You can make up your own punchline. After 7 glorious series of Strictly on this blog, I’m sure you can guess what I’d go for. Ahem. Craig announces, in his best clipped 1920s voice (so…marginally less strangulated than his normal accent) that couples are gathering at Blackpool for the dance event of the season. A SERIES 11 PRO DANCE THAT’S NOT SHIT! Backstage all the professional dancers are preparing and
I include this shot not because it’s funny, but because it just encapsulates how the show’s marketing Kevin better than anyone else this year. Study it in your advertising agencies chaps, and maybe we can come up with adverts that are just a touch above “A CARTOON BEAR DONE SLEEP AND A RABBIT DONE WAKE HIM UP SO CHRISTMAS!!!!”. Meanwhile Janette acts like this
is hilarious sabotage, when we all know that in the real world of Strictly, Brenda subbed her a pony to slip Natalie a Mickey Finn last week.
From this pointlessly retro intro we cut to the main stage where
Anton (for some reason in fancy dress as Burgess Meredith era Penguin) is getting a shoulder massage from Iveta. As though there haven’t been enough crippling back injuries this series. So basically the whole point of this dance is that all of the professional dancers and contestants are swivvel-eyed bitches who hate one another and will do anything to win the glitterball. A bit close to the bone isn’t it? Here are my own personal favourite moments of bitchery from the whole routine :
a) Ashley’s bitchery is clearly being aimed directly at the choreographer
b) I NEED a picture of Artem looking smug and superior delivered to me directly
c) Fiona Fullerton vs Iveta Lukosiute is a fight I would crawl over hot coals to see and it should headline Wrestlemania 30.
d) That’s one for Robin’s wank bank isn’t it?
e) It doesn’t surprise me one bit that Sophie Ellis-Bextor is a hair-puller
f) It doesn’t surprise me one bit that Kristina was front and centre for that one last desperate lunge for the tropy
g) The best bit is probably when Sophie, Abbey and Susanna all stomp out in unison. Abbey is doing her best catwalk strut, Sophie is radiating ice-queen pop-star glamour, and Susanna is hoofing around like she just discovered porn under her teenage son’s bed and she is NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT
h) The only pro not required to act mean or vicious or catty is Pasha, who spends the whole routine apologising for Anya, because he is 100% cast-iron copper-bottom sweetheart and nothing will ever change that, bless him. Imaginary bunny ears and all.
Once they’ve picked up all the body parts, the music strikes up and
it’s come to something when a “Kiss Me Quick” hat is the least tacky part of your ensemble hasn’t it? She looks like a human Ferrero Rocher. She and Claudia welcome everyone back to Blackpool and then sigh that everyone really does want to get their hands on the glitterball. I notice the podium there has clearly marked spots for second and third on it. Just saying. We’re reminded that tonight, two couples will face off in the dance-off, adjudicated by these
experts of dahnce. Incidentally if you zoom in very closely on the trophy, you can see the inscriptions, reading
2004 (Spring) : Natasha Kaplisnky
2004 (Autumn) : Jill Halfpenny
2005 : Darren Gough
2006 : Mark Ramprakash
2007 : Alesha Dixon
2008 : AUSTIN WUZZ ROBBED!
2009 : Chris Hollins
2010 : Kara Tointon
2011 : Harry Judd
2012 : Louis Smith
2013 : Susanna Re…OOPS I MEAN IT COULD BE ANYBODY!
As well as the dance-off, we’ll be enjoying Len’s Glans, and the musical stylings of JLS and Andre Rieu & His Smugface Orchestra. Also there’ll probably be a naff “advert” for It Takes Two somebody knocked up during their fag break.
But first…backstage gossip.
Len found a way to get to Blackpool that was safer and, let’s face it, quicker than having Claudia driving him in the minibus.
Susanna tells us that “this is Blackpool hair and make-up”.
If anything Susanna, I think it’s a bit too subtle for that. Maybe draw on some cheekbones with lip-liner.
Blackpool is the home of ballroom. They may have mentioned this before, in other segments, but I’m just including it here to make sure the fact is recorded. In the UK at least. It might have a second home in the Canaries.
Natalie thinks she’s found the “secret lair where all the magic happens”.
Natalie, it’s a sodding van, lower your dose.
Ben is a nail-biter.
Abbey was dead nervous before she did her dance, no really.
Sometimes, if you’re very lucky, and the stars align just right
you can capture two sights of outstanding natural beauty in the same picture.
Fiona was dying for a glass of champagne after her American Smooth. It’s Blackpool Fiona – there’s a plastic cup of Carlsberg over by the radiators.
Time for Safety Sex-Faces now
and our first couple in danger.
Again. He sadly trudges over to the judges, as Tess makes sure to point out that it’s his birthday, just to extra rub it in. She asks Darcey what Mark can do in the dance-off, and Darcey of course tells his just to do exactly the same thing again. Lots of performance and sparkle and DON’T YOU STOP BEING YOU MARK, and all that.
I wonder if Darcey’s like this at the Royal Ballet. Girl face-plants in the middle of a retire and Darcey just says “I dunno, try doing exactly the same again it MIGHT not happen *shrug*”. Tess tells Mark that Darcey is clearly right, because he scored his highest score yet at Blackpool. Jeez, who didn’t Tess? The man with the foof malfunction, the woman who lives constantly in the shadow of THAT CHARLESTON, and a woman for whom not throwing up all over Anton was the real victory. And that’s it. Mark just says he’s excited to do it again. WITH ADDED DINOSAUR.
Over to Claud 9 now, where we catch Abbey
mid…something. I would say yawn, but I don’t think we can count out demonic possession entirely. Claudia tells Susanna that she thought she was going to burst out into tears at getting the first 39 of the series. I would mock, but we all know that 39s are better than 40s, FACT. Also, can you imagine if Susanna had cried with all that cack on her face?
It would have looked like the end of Raiders Of The Lost Arc. Kevin grins that it was his best night at Blackpool ever. Apart from that time Karen let him take her up the Winter Gardens. Claudia next turns to Abbey and asks her to celebrate her three 10s.
She does so. Noisily. Claudia then perfunctorily congratulates Ashley on doing sort of an alright paso, although not in any sort of way where you think this might not be the YEAR OF THE WOMAN obviously.
We might let you in the final if you’re lucky Ashley.
Next up, we all ask ourselves the question “How Smug Can One Man Get?”
They we are. It’s Andre Rieu, and his Smugface Orchestra, all dressed in massive frowsy ballgowns for absolutely no reason other than so we can all make believe it’s 1842, apart from how they’re all performing Andrew Lloyd Webber twaddle (I think it’s “Music Of The Night” although don’t quote me and also don’t correct me because the less knowledge I have about “Phantom Of The Opera” the better). At some point, to lower the smug-levels a smidge, Anton and Iveta come out and do some smooth ballroom.
It’s so odd seeing Anton do this stuff with someone other than Erin, but then I guess Erin was watching this from her sofa in her trackies, shovelling fishfinger and Marmite sandwiches in her gob, so I’m sure there was no alternative. Sometimes I like to imagine the sorts of conversations Iveta and Anton might have backstage, as Strictly’s newest and oddest pro coupling. It’s fun. You try. To be honest, it’s the only way I’m getting through this routine.
Other than wondering just how much this harpist wants to murder the smug git.
I bet it’s a lot.
Once they’ve finished and all the women have hoiked their bustles off the dancefloor, it’s time to return to Claud 9 for this week’s round of Len’s Glans.
Craig’s glittery walking aids diminishing by the week. By next week it’ll just be a spangly pair of orthopaedic sandals.
We start with a request from Claudia to see Darcey completely losing her dignity during the opening carnival group dance
God it’s like those grizzly old pictures of Princess Di shaking her thing to Duran Duran isn’t it? Darcey “jokily” demands that it be turned off, because she can’t bear to look at it. We follow this up by singing the praises of the children who were involved in the routine, as they are the “future of British ballroom”. Len then goes slightly odd and starts rambling about how the girls aren’t allowed to wear too much make-up any more. Like they’d be able to tear it off Susanna, and how the boys all have to wear white shirts and black trousers. I’m not sure if he complaining or…just being Len.
Len’s clip that he’s picked if of Kevin using Susanna as THE CAPE during the paso doble, including a bit where she hurls all her body weight at him like
she’s elbowing him out the way in a dash to the ice-cream van for a Calippo. It’s a violent dance to be sure. Len praises them for letting Susanna BE THE CAPE (just like Nancy was) rather than resorting to flashy tablecloth twirling. Ben’s pressage lift of Kristina is covered next, with Darcey whispering in hushed tones that Ben might have twisted her leg off if he’d done it wrong, or something like that.
Bruno is next to choose, opting to look at the unique details of Natalie’s Charleston. Specifically the unique details of
her going entirely out of sync with her partner. Everyone claps and applauds Artem for his unique and different and exotic choreography, and all participate in the collective delusion that Natalie’s charleston was a work of beauty that blew the roof off the Tower Ballroom. As if last night’s highest scoring dances hadn’t been undermined enough
a nation shouts “GAPPING” in unison, once again. Still, to make up for it, we close on a sound clip of Abbey joyously yelling “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” as she does a leap near the end, and a nation loves her again.
The second round of safety sex-faces next
this just leaving Ben and Fiona waiting to hear their fates, with Kristina of course
scowling away like Wardrobe left scorch-marks on her best bra again. She’ll be fine though because she and Ben
live to strip another day. A forgotten Bond film there.
To the judges they wander, where Bruno is reminded he called her American Smooth “proper and dainty”. Well who wouldn’t want to vote for that? I love that the judges have spent the last few weeks repeatedly acting like Fiona is some hushed china doll tip-toeing round the tulips when I suspect
she could definitely take Bruno down without even breaking a sweat. Bruno incidentally has a different approach to Darcey for giving dance-off advice. He just says
“focus focus focus” over and over and over again until it sounds a bit like “FUCKUS” and everyone giggles a little. Oh Bruno. Save it for Ben. Tess asks Fiona how she’s feeling and she gushes and curtseys and says that she’s had the most incredible time and never expected to get this far, and I’d understand her talking like this if she were up against Abbey, or Ashley, or whoever, but this is MARK. Don’t give up so easily Fiona.
Back to Claud 9, where Claudia is yelling at Natalie that she HAD A WEEK OFF but now she’s COME BACK WITH A BANG. Natalie’s face reads
“…yes, apparently that’s how they’ve storyboarded it”. Claudia then turns to Anya and tells her that she’s won for having the best face when the results are announced, because it looked like she was going to swallow Patrick. Erm…I think we all know who awards that trophy Claudia, don’t get ahead of yourself. Again. So rude.
We turn to Brenda next, and Claudia says that she heard that he was a bit emotional. Well…thanks for setting him off Claudia. He speechifies that he gets an
enormous sense of pride from looking after his “little girls” on the dancefloor. Sophie snorts that she’s 34, BRENDA. HOORAY! It’s about time someone said it. The sassing of course, is only a very minor bump, and doesn’t halt the speech at all. At least she tried. We close with Ben being asked if it was nerve-wracking being left til last to be revealed safe AGAIN. He says it was. Can’t wait til they do it to Sophie. She’s going to BLOW CHUNKS.
JLS AND A WHOLE BUNCH OF LASERS WOO! Strictly here devoted to picking guest musicians that’ll either make you say “oh I thought they’d split up” or “oh I thought he was dead”.
Next, as we rattle through the content-free bits of the Strictly Results Show it’s time for that It Takes Two advert.
Seriously, in a few months time when we find out this was all for an advertising task on The Apprentice, try to look surprised.
We return to the sight of Claudia
grinning and applauding rapturously about how amazing and clever that bad parody of an 80s advert was. Just in case you wondering why they’ve diluted her down with a third critic on Film 2013. She goes on to splutter apologies to all about to meet their fate, and Claudia turns to Iveta for her last minute advice to Mark.
“MARK! LET’S DO WHAT WE DO BEST! RIP OFF OLD LADY FOR THEIR LIFE INSURANCE POLICY! AND ALSO HAFF FUN!”. What a pro legend. To think we only know who she is because Aliona had a boo boo. What might not have been…
Anyway Claudia turns to Fiona and asks if she saw this coming. She says that she did.
From the sounds of it
including this bit. Craig was her one fan by the way, and Len made sure to milk his casting vote for all it was worth, making sure to tell Fiona that she made LOADS of mistakes in the dance-off, because we all remember how well that went down last week.
In her goodbye lap, we’re reminded that Fiona was this year’s superfan (there was a “half-term report” style article in the Radio Times where Claudia bigged up Fiona’s bona fides as a THOOPAFAN by recalling the time she told Claudia that something really reminded her of Gavin’s paso. I would pay cash money to find out what reminded her of Gavin’s paso) (the same article also missed Patrick out entirely LOL OOPS) and she also thanks the producers for casting her in the first place, when they so easily could have picked a celebrity instead, and compares the experience of being on Strictly to being at a really fabulous party.
I mean, some of the serving girls they got were a bit useless, but what can you do?
She goes on to thank Anton for being unbelievably patient with her, considering the fact that she has a memory like a colander.
I wonder what poked the holes in it… Anton for his part gives his usual Mr Wonderful speech about how what really makes Strictly fun for him has been the wonderful people he gets partnered with every year, especially the ones who weren’t Nancy Dell’Olio.
Bye Fiona. Try not to be too sad next series when Anton opens the Launch Show by talking about how he’s only had shit partners for the last 172 series. It’s just part of the Strictly cycle.