Hang on. There still appears to be a male contestant on the show. Well WE’LL SOON SORT THAT OUT.
Last Week : it was a night of records. Ashley Taylor Dawson set records for the most individual consecutive weeks stuck on the same score, and also the most violent eye-twitching during a dance-off result reveal. Patrick Robinson became the first man ever to score a 10 in the rumba as Darcey Bussell simultaneously, by 3ml, snatched the “Most Dribble Exuded By A Judge On Strictly During A Dance” trophy from previous record holder Arlene Phillips. Natalie Gumede meanwhile took home Guinness recognition for the least amount of touching ever in a paso doble and also for highest volume of laughter emitted during a Len speech, at 97 decibels. Sadly Susanna Reid and Abbey Clancy just had to make do with the minor accolades of “least appropriate Argentine Tango theming ever” and “THE MEEE NYERRRRRVES AWARD FOR THE MOST NYEEEEERRRRRRVOUS NYERVVVVVVVES THAT EVER NYERRRRRRRRRRVED”. Sophie was left with nothing, other than the title of “Brenda’s Muse” although you can redeem that down Tesco Metro for 50p worth of soup vouchers, so it’s still somewhat worthwhile. (It should also be made note of that this week on It Takes Two Kevin won this year’s Pro Challenge for “most convincing sex noises done during basic jive steps”. What a hero)
This week :
Spies and shet. Darcey sets all the contestants a mission to roll around on the floor in black polo-necks looking mysterious, but the segment doesn’t include Pasha for some reason, despite him being the KING OF BLACK POLO NECKS, so it all feels a bit redundant really.
Let’s all take a moment now to reflect on the women who, due to space and time issues, couldn’t take their rightful and deserving place at this, the pinnacle of the YEAR OF THE WOMAN!
Sniff. Really should have been an 8 person final shouldn’t it?
The band strikes up and
she misses her Claudia doesn’t she? You can just tell. At
some points more than others. Bruce there is telling her that her dress looks a bit like being imprisoned and he’s wondering when he can get out.
Jesus, I’ve heard people on day release with smoother chat-up lines than that. Once he’s done oogling and ogling, Bruce welcomes us to the semi-final. On the word “semi-final” the camera
zooms in to try to catch Gethin in the middle of a PTSD episode. Poor guy. Those 8 hours he spent in the freezing cold on top of Television Centre trying to persuade Camilla to step back from the ledge. Doesn’t bear thinking about. Tess grins that all five of our finalists are waiting backstage and raring to go and then Bruce breaks in to tell Patrick directly down the camera lens that, as the last man standing, the hopes of millions of British men are resting on his shoulders.
I suspect the hopes of millions of British men are more resting on the possibility of Abbey’s boobs falling out in her showdance Bruce but…you act like he’s their hero if you want.
From this we cut to one British man whose hopes for Christmas mostly probably revolve around
praying that his mother doesn’t start throwing dog-shit at people. Again. (The lady with him is Cheryl Burke, his partner on this autumn’s Dancing With The Stars, in which he finished 3rd to him from High School Musical and Her From Glee. Of the Dancing With The Stars pro line-up she’s the one I’d steal). As he watches on, Tess splutters minorly through her intro to the STARS EMERGING and Bruce, as ever sat comfortably in his glass house and throwing nukes, makes fun of her. She’d never get that with her Claudia. Claudia would stand there patiently, with a supportive hand on her hip. That then moved slowly downwards.
AHEM. Should probably stop that scenario right there before Caitlin Moran swoops in to make fun of me.
Once everyone’s out, Bruce reminds that it’s TWO DANCE Week and sympathises with the celebrities that after 12 weeks they must be exhausted, unlike those of us who managed to wangle three weeks off, out of the onerous work of standing and reading into our contracts hem hem. Bruce then extravagantly tells them that he’s worked it out with Evil Moira Ross (in a rainbow wig) that they can all have some time off.
Said time off of course hilariously lasts for about three seconds. It’s still more time off than poor old Wardrobe have ever got. FASTER MONKEYS, FASTER! SEW ON MORE GODETS! IF YOU GET ONE ON STRAIGHT, MORE BANANA MUSH WILL BE PUT INTO YOUR FEEDING LINE!
Evil, Dirty, Conniving, Faint-Faking, Tyrone-Punching, Malingering, SICK-CHILD-SNUBBING, Phony, Smug, Wafty, Cackling RINGAH BITCH Natalie Gumede & Artem Chigvintsev dancing the salsa
Bruce tells us that for Natalie’s second dance tonight, she’ll be doing an Argentine Tango with a chess theme, and giant chesspieces all over the floor. Apparently Natalie asked backstage what chess pieces were available, and she was told that she could have a bishop or a castle, but there’s no pawn available as GREG THE FLOOR MANAGER’S OFF TENDING TO HIS NEWLY SPROGGED GIRLFRIEND APPARENTLY, NO I’M NOT OVER IT. (Bruce’s punchline involves his catchphrase from “Play Your Cards” right. Natalie audibly asks Artem if he gets the joke. He says he doesn’t).
VT now, and Natalie says that she never makes any predictions before her dance because anything could happen, and last weekend it TRULY DID! LEN WAS QUITE CRITICAL AND SCORED THEM AN 8! I love that this is Natalie’s idea of something MASSIVELY unexpected happening. She only came THIRD on the leaderboard (and then the Ringahthon put her top again anyway). Natalie says that when Len was mean to her it made her feel like a naughty schoolgirl (saucy), but she knows Len only says these things because he truly deeply cares about her. LOL OK NATALIE. If he remembers your name a week after the series ends I will give you a fiver. We close this section with
some pretty extreme pornography, I’m not going to lie.
Training now and Natalie says that two-dance week has
broken her brain. Fortunately it turns out it’s broken her brain in the good way, like when Ricky Nipple stopped being boring and got amazing, not the bad way, like Matt Di Angelo or Laila Rouass. Artem reveals that Natalie’s dances will be the salsa and the Argentine Tango, and if he can get everyone up and partying with them for the former, then that would be nice. Oh Artem. The only time I’ve got up and partied along with anything on this show is when Widdy got the boot.
For the next part of training we get some truly horrific filler, where in order to buoy their celebs up, their pro brings in a tablet-phone with messages of support from the public on it. Here are Natalie’s fans
and by that, I do mean all of them. My own personal tribute was cut for time and also for all the swearing and also apparently “CRUSH ALL THEIR BONES BENEATH YOUR GLORIOUS RINGAH HEELS” wasn’t considered an appropriate sentiment for teatime television. Natalie
boggles at all her 6 fans (/5 fans and one older brother of a fan who doesn’t really look like he wants to be there) like she can’t believe they exist. She says to camera that her salsa is a big thank you to everyone who has supported her. The Argentine Tango is just hers though, so NOB OFF.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
The music starts (“Wanna Be Startin Something”) and it’s clear that what Natalie wants to be starting is
finally fulfilling that glorious ringah potential she showed way back in Week 1. The villainous come-hither fingers, the nigh-on sexual self-touching, the amazing SmugFace, the effortlessly dirty hip action, the Michael Jackson finger-clicks, Artem deciding to one-up Ola by doing a
ONE-LEGGED KNEE SLIDE, CAN YOU HANDLE IT?, the aggressive playing to the audience, the even-more-aggressive
yelling of “YOU’RE A VEGETABLE!” right in Artem’s face (Natalie Highlight Of The Series right there), the constant constant spinning that she does at the end (seriously there are at least 15 in a row and they’re all amazing) and just generally the sense of righteous triumph that builds over the whole thing during the “mama se mamma sa mamacusa” bit.
It’s the sort of dance that both confirms to me that I love Natalie, but also that I don’t really want her to win because…you should have been doing this before now girl, rather than miring yourself into week after week of boring routines to substandard R & B.
It’s such a triumph of evil ringerdom of course that it gets no standing ovation. Such purity of form. After they wander over to Bruce, he asks her how many spins she did at the end, and she snorts that it probably wasn’t as many as she should have done. After Evil Moira Ross (in a rainbow wig) had the floor reinforced so she didn’t drill all the way down to China, as well. Bruce then jokes that Natalie’s dress has put the price of turkeys up. Well I’m glad that the market has recovered somewhat after the show’s previous experiments with Bacofoil. Natalie guffaws that she’s so hot that she’s basting. Bruce repeats the joke so the audience can laugh. They don’t.
We next introduce the judges, and Bruce tells us that Len’s grumpiness last week upset some of the dancers.
Len is of course incredibly apologetic. Bruce asks him if he’s going to be grumpy tonight and he yells “I WASN’T GRUMPY LAST WEEK BRUCE, SOD OFF AND MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS YOU ANTIQUATED FART!”. Well that’s him told. He starts in with Natalie, telling her that THIS IS THE TIME TO SHINE because it’s the rush to the final and it’s the tightest race they’ve ever had. Anybody remaining could win it (lol) and anybody remaining could go home tonight (LOL), so every step they take, every move they make, every rule they break,
THEY DON’T HAVE TO PUT ON THAT RED LIGH…no, wait. Anyway Len tells Natalie that if her second dance is as good as that, she’ll be in the final. Bruno follows by telling Natalie that she is “luscious and sensuous” but also really rhythmical and fluid.
Just like his pants. Incidentally the
Tessanine has never been more full of love than it is right now.
Craig follows, and says that he’s very upset about Natalie’s salsa…because he couldn’t find much wrong with it. He does say that’s the most animated he’s seen Natalie ever. Woo. A cartoon Natalie with a giant afro fighting crime and in-hold ballroom is kind of an amazing thought. Darcey follows by congratulating Artem for “putting everything into that suitcase”. And no, she’s not going to get any more coherent as the evening rolls on. At all.
Off they go to the Tessanine with Artem
expressing his own chivalrous side heedlessly as ever. Once they’re up there, and Natalie has rearranged her knickers, Tess hoots Michael Jackson noises at them and tells them that’s the way to start a show. Meanwhile Glasses Kevin watches on thinking
“oh sure, but when I do Michael Jackson, everyone just stares awkwardly at their shoes. NOT FAIR!”
Natalie says that she just went out there and danced like it was her last chance, and then Tess reminds her that it couldn’t have been, because it’s TWO DANCE WEEK and she still has one dance to go. Natalie’s then all “SCREW YOU, PEDANT! IT COULD HAVE BEEN!” and then faints on the spot to prove it. (Not really). Scores are in
40. Welcome to semi-finals scoring.
Boring, Robotic, Try-Hard, Who Is He Again, Judges-Pet, Darcey’s Favourite, Overmarked, Ashley-Robbing, OLD FART Patrick Robinson & Anya Garnis dancing the waltz
Bruce spends the start of Patrick’s segment off by yelling at the audience for not giving Natalie a standing ovation. Yes Bruce, that’ll make them like her. Sadly this whittering isn’t sufficient to rob Bruce of the opportunity to make a joke about how Patrick’s rumba last week gave him the horn.
VT time, and Patrick says that he was really anxious about the rumba last week because he couldn’t get the steps initially and also when Darcey “popped in” unannounced to watch his training just wearing a big brown mac and a suspender belt it was kind of unnerving… Fortunately, on the night, Darcey turned up clothed and Patrick finally “got the rumba”. He thought it was “really lovely” as Anya thrashed around like a Shannon Tweed film on fast-forward. He goes on to grin that being top of the leaderboard for the first time gave him some kudos points…for a few seconds before being plunged into the dance-off. WOO! FULL LEADERBOARD PLUNGE! We’re then reminded that the judges saved Patrick, although the part where Len screamed that it was a TRAVESTY and threw his wah-wah rattle on the floor is mysteriously edited out. The VT closes with Anya saying that it’s the semi-final, so she’s going to put everything out on the line for Patrick. What…more than last week? MUMS OF BRITAIN, GET READY TO EXPLAIN SOME THINGS TO YOUR KIDS!
Training now and Anya sits Patrick down and tells him that
his ballroom frame is still a bit crap, so the waltz might be a bit of a problem. I’m hoping her solution is to do the entire dance on those great big space-hoppers in the corner there. A bold new take on waltz. And at least the rise and fall wouldn’t be a problem. Anyway, it’s an important week, with no room for mistakes so
here’s some fan messages! Yeah, I’m not recapping these bits any more. Remember last series when everyone’s families came in and we got to meet and greet with Kimberley’s Fit Brother? Couldn’t we do that again? Rather than watching someone quasi-ironically call Patrick “a smooth legend” ffs?
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Patrick & Anya are doing their waltz to “Unchained Melody” and as such are trying to compete with the overbearing levels of tacky drama produced by Dr Hammie and James in their own Viennese Waltz to the song. Obviously, they don’t quite manage it, because neither Patrick or Anya have that couple’s…”je ne sais WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?!” but they give it their best shot. The twinkly lights and the crescendos in the music and the singing and the band’s playing all combine to create a really nice atmosphere, but there’s no getting around the fact that
Patrick moves Anya around like the removal men taking out Joey’s giant ceramic dog in Friends. It’s all just a bit stiff and lacking in tenderness and there are points where I swear
he looks more like an actual robot than any of the Strictly Bots ever did before. I guess things have worked the other way around than normal this year – usually it’s the men who get the waltz out of the way early, leaving the women to do them towards the end of the series. This time around it’s the men that have been going last and…it’s been a bit underwhelming all round.
Still, there are worse ballrooms to go out on.
By this point the Tessanine’s looking a bit busier but
the lasting impression is still Aliona’s overall disinterest in everything. It gets no standing ovation, and most of the post-routine chat with Bruce is swallowed up by the fact that Patrick’s mic fell off during the dance, and Bruce’s efforts to reattach it. Because Patrick always has so much to say. Bruno starts for the judges, praising Patrick for his sense of distinction and poise. He could tell that he was getting a little tense, and then hoots “DON’T!”
as we cut to Bruce fiddling away in his area, making it very hard not to. Craig follows, saying it was all absolutely gorgeous but it could have done with a bit more swing and sway and a stronger heel lead. Oh Christ, Craig’s trying to talk about proper ballroom technique. He’s lucky James isn’t here to swing in from the rafters and tell him off.
Darcey follows by telling Patrick that “the improvement in your topline (…) was so improved” but sadly there was a slight impingement at Patrick’s shoulder.
How rude. 12 weeks of nothing but constant doe-eyed support and this is how you repay her? TSK. Len closes by saying that the dance had a lovely flow and movement to it but where last week Patrick was doing heel leads when he shouldn’t have been, this week he wasn’t doing them when he should have been. Oh the life of a Strictly contestant.
Up to the Tessanine they sprint, where Tess tells Patrick that she knows he’s a latin guy through and through
but she just loves him in the ballroom dances. Patrick thanks her, and then thanks Craig for his lovely comments about the dance. He’s really put so much into each dance and is just taking each week as it comes. Thank goodness Bruce fixed that microphone eh? Tess asks him how it’d feel to make Strictly history and become the oldest man ever to reach the final.
Patrick looks like he may be very slightly starting to regret making that “his thing” on the Launch Show, but gamely says that he’s here doing it for the over 50s.
I’m sure they’re so grateful. Scores are in
Dead-Eyed, Too-Cool-For-School, Monotonous, Stuck-Up, One-Trick-Pony, Charleston-Coasting, Droopy, Needy, Flop-Star Sophie Ellis-Bextor & Brendan Cole dancing the paso doble
Bruce tells us that Sophie and Brendan will be dancing to a piece of music from the scene in the ballet “Romeo & Juliet” in which Juliet gets sent out to buy 10 items for the opening of the Ritz Verona but only comes back with 6 AND accrues time penalties, so she gets fired after a final ballroom consisting of her, Mercutio and Nurse, when Nurse promises she wouldn’t let William Shakespeare down if he makes her project manager next week. I think. Bruce then makes a ballet joke especially for Darcey which I won’t repeat but suffice it to say that it’s about as funny as you’d expect any joke made specifically to amuse Darcey Bussell to be.
VT now, and Sophie says it was really important of her to dance well in the quarter-finals last week, especially the performance side of her dance, as she felt it had a really fun and cheeky side to it. Mostly when she bounced her arse into Brendan’s balls and he went “OW!”. Brenda’s light choreographical touch at work there as ever. Sophie then gets an eerie grin on her face
as she says that as it’s getting near to the end of the competition, it’s starting to feel like she might as well go for it, hell-for-leather, because she’s got nothing left to lose. I’m hoping this means we’re due a truly transcendentally awful Showdance. God knows there were rich pickings on that score last year, but I always CRAVE MOAR. MOAR BOTCHED LIFTS! MOAR HIP-HOP! MOAR DINKY GLITTER BUCKETS! MOAR 80S SOFT ROCK!
In training, this new wild, crazy, reckless Sophie
has got some owies from the paso doble. Poor thing. Send her to nurse and get her to put some iodine on it. Sophie tells us that it’s hard learning two dances in one week at the same time as having to meet other commitments like
charity functions at 10 Downing Street with all of the other contestants (minus Natalie who bummed it off because she hates Tories/hates children/had a pre-booked choreography session/Artem isn’t allowed in after that incident with SamCam and the courgette/her hair couldn’t fit through the door). We’re shown both David Cameron pressing the flesh
as Glasses Kevin looks on with the world’s soppiest look on his face (you can go off a man you know…) and Sophie herself
huddling up with a tiny ickle baby. Sadly they’ve edited out the part where Abbey asks if she can have a go holding the baby and Sophie then replies “NO, YOU’VE ALREADY DONE BABY WARZ, FIND YOUR OWN” and thumbs her in the eye.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Oooh, the drama. As indicated, Sophie will be dancing her paso doble to the theme tune from The Apprentice. It’s an interesting choice, as I kind of half expect 16 yuppie sprots to march right through them half way through, trailing wheelie suitcases and doing their best power walking. The dance begins with her being spun on the spot over and over by Brenda until she looks a bit like
an angry cupcake on a bakery revolve. “Angry” really is the operative word for this paso, given that Sophie spends the whole thing
furrowing her brows so hard I’m worried that one might go rogue and slide off down her nose. I have to admit that I appreciate the passion, but as a whole I’m really not a fan of the dance. The choreography is wilfully bizarre when it’s not focusing on Sophie’s Latin Strengths (eg, having Brenda spin and fling her) and at one point she just winds up sprawled on the floor not really looking like she knows what’s going on. Her skirt swishing is a bit awkward and
overstretched and there’s parts where she’s walking where she is swinging her arse harder than I’ve seen her do in any of the party latin. It’s just an odd dance, and I don’t really enjoy it, as much as I was hoping it would be her LATIN BREAKTHROUGH TRIUMPH.
Also ends with sexy choking. Which is never my favourite.
It gets a massive standing ovation, including from Sophie’s Awkward Husband
, who must be hoping she doesn’t bring that attitude back home to doing the dishes or getting the kids ready for the school run. What would the neighbours say? He’ll never get invited back to the golf club again…
Craig starts for the judges and
oops, he didn’t like it. It was too starchy and stiff, it lacked Spanish Line, and her shoulders were too raised. But he liked her…erm…”attitude”. Poor Sophie. The judges are never going to fully buy her as a real wild child are they? Darcey follows by saying that the theme tune to The Apprentice means SO MUCH to her – she remembers being sat on her sofa wearing her own personal knitted beret rooting Lucinda on to the win, and crying for THREE WHOLE HOURS after that awful Interviews Round – so she’s glad that Sophie managed to produce a performance that matched the RAW POWER of Nick Hewer.
Len is next, and he congratulates Sophie on successfully interpreting the drama of the music and goes on to say that he’s glad that she showed toning and strength. Now she just has to come out and wow in the American Smooth like she just wowed there.
Sophie’s Nerd-Face is a perennial delight isn’t it? Here’s another one.
Bruno closes by saying that she’s finally delivered the passion and intensity they’ve always asked of her. This journey ending really does feel a bit…fumbled doesn’t it? Never mind.
Up to the Tessanine they squizz where Tess congratulates her on bringing the POWER to the paso doble, and for getting the first standing ovation of the evening. Sophie grins that she tried to take a snapshot of the moment in her head. Don’t worry Sophie, I’m sure your mum has it covered, and will be sharing it with strangers over afternoon tea for many years to come, in between trying to persuade them to come and see her starring in Abigail’s Party in Rep. Tess next asks Sophie what the public reaction to her has been, and she replies that it’s so great
to be so popular and supported by the public. You can tell Aliona’s thinking “oh, yeah, sure, I was popular once. Runner-up, then tour champion, then overall champion. Now see where I am. Partnered with an antique, first boot, and having to scrap with hoofers like Ronette Ranrara for pro-dance lead. TIMES CHANGE”. Scores are in
35. At Craig’s 8 Brenda
storms off, or has a pretend storm-off or…I dunno, Aliona’s face sums up my reaction, as is increasingly becoming the case.
Smugsy, Stomping, Gurning, Gasping, BBC-Favourite, Phony, Wotsit-Tanned, Needy, Desperate, Shark-Eyed Susanna Reid & Kevin Clifton dancing the foxtrot
Bruce’s joke :
“As Susanna is a BBC lady I thought I’d buy her a little Christmas present, but the sales assistants where I went were so rude! I asked one sales assistant how much a box of chocolates was, and she just stared at me and walked away. I asked another one how much a bottle of perfume was, and she just stared at me and walked away. So I found the manager and I asked “WHAT SORT OF SHOP IS THIS?” and he said “A Pound Shop
now go and put some trousers on”
VT time now, and Susanna tells us that last weekend she did an Argentine Tango that to her felt really passionate, but which apparently did nothing for the judges, and then she did the Swingathon, which she worked REALLY HARD ON, and which also did nothing for the judges, as she was out first. These two calamities combined to leave Susanna adrift at the bottom of the leaderboard, needing a miracle to survive and, as Woe poured upon woe, Kevin sadly sighed that
if he and Susanna left that evening, he’d really feel like he’d let her down, not just as a professional teacher, and not just as a friend, but AS A HUMAN BEING. Then Ashley went home instead LOL.
Training now and a sunnier Susanna
is much looking forward to the week ahead (dear the Strictly tanning department : don’t use someone’s own top as a colour-guide) as she’s got foxtrot and salsa, one of which Kevin has even danced before in his life ever! She tells us earnestly that for her to get to the final, her foxtrot needs to be perfect and beautiful. Oh Susanna, no it doesn’t. It needs to exist. Susanna goes on to say that every dance for her has had its own challenge. In the foxtrot it’s all about maintaining the right shape of ballroom frame, and creating a sense of flow with her steps. In the salsa it’s going to be about not getting jaw cramp.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Their foxtrot, being danced to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Andy Williams, revolves around the idea of Kevin as some sort of Orville Redenbacherish nerd trying to woo Susanna with chocolates. This of course being the exact opposite tack of the one taken by James Jordan with Georgina from Holby City and which works about as well, as Susanna scooches down the bench away from him and
acts all demure. Kevin of course, doesn’t take no for an answer, tries the old “yawn and hug” resulting in Susanna
body-swerving him and running away. Then they get up and foxtrot. I think Kevin might have got bored of storyboarding this one 10 seconds in to be perfectly honest with you.
The whole routine is very sweet and not a little twee, with pivots galore, bench-sitting, and Susanna
grinning her head off throughout. Technically it seems fine, although foxtrot was never one of my favourite dances, and I don’t think the ’50s bobby-soxer dress is really helping her in terms of making her legs look elegant. It’s a fine dance, but not one I’ll particularly remember, which is often a problem with semi-final dances I guess. Everyone’s so busy ramping up for the final and the return of such big hitters as THAT PASO and THAT CHARLESTON that they tend to get lost in the wash a little. Kevin ends the routine by making out like they’re going to leap the bench, like they did at the end of their quickstep which almost sent her arse-over-tit but comedically they pull back to end the dance on a
Ben Cohen special. The sitting down part, not the necking.
The dance gets a modest reaction, but no standing ovation, as the Tessanine bears host to three smiles of
varying strengths of warmness. I am slightly in love with Iveta’s hair here though. So full of secrets. Once the pair of them have arrived at Bruce, he sighs to them that their dancing is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. But likely it’ll be full of fudge and nuts. Darcey starts for the judges saying that she really enjoyed the storyline of when Susanna played hard to get. For about 10 seconds. I guess such is the power of The Glasses. Anyway, Darcey says that the technique was all there, and Susanna is shining again.
So grateful. So very, very, scarily grateful. Len follows and says that it was a lark in the park and that
there was nothing GRIM about that dance choreographed by KEVIN FROM (just outside of) GRIMSBY. Poor Len. The strain of finding TWO WHOLE THINGS to say about these people per show is starting to take its toll.
Bruno follows by saying that that was the NATION’S SWEETHEART at their very best. And Susanna wasn’t half-bad either. He loved the changes in pace in the dance from the lovely slow sweep to PIVOT PIVOT PIVOT PIVOT PIVOT, and how she had a “face for every expression”. And there’s not many people you can say that about. As Craig tees up, Susanna clings to Bruce, as well she might, because he thinks the dance was
“sickly, saccharine, sweet and all the things I detest. 9!”
Up to the Tessanine they sweep, blowing kisses and depositing chocolates as they go. Once there, Tess tries to interview Susanna but she’s
too busy farting around with Kevin’s glasses to pay her any mind. Valid choice. This is the interview :
“What does it mean for you to be here in the semi-final Susanna?”
“It would mean the world, especially as it’s Kevin’s first year”.
Bless her. Looking for more sense elsewhere, Tess asks Kevin what we can expect from their second dance, and Kevin reveals that he’s shaved his chest for their salsa. CRIME. Scores are in
Shrill, Chippy, Brain-Dead, Coat-Tail Riding, Not-Really-Famous, Flirty, Name-Dropping, Bottle-Blonde FLOOOOOOOOOOZY Abbey Clancy & Aljaz Skorjanec dancing the samba
Getting plenty of time in to let it sink it, Bruce tells us that Abbey’s second dance will be based on a PROM and that a PROM is an AMERICAN TERM for a PARTY YOU HAVE WHEN YOU LEAVE SCHOOL! If it’s anything like my school, it’ll end with Abbey downing half a bottle of Jack Daniels and TP’ing Len’s car. And then Len.
VT time and Abbey tells us that last weekend was so funny and odd. She felt
SO NYERRRRRRVOUS. Yes, that would make it stand out, I guess. She’s so glad that her dance went well and that she’s been the biggest surprise of the series for Craig. Just like Joe Calzaghe and Michelle “MORE SUGAR PLEASE!” Williams were for their series I guess. Abbey goes on to say that she’s going to learn two dances in four days this week, which makes her feel really AFRAID with her N’YERRRRRVES. Yeesh.
Training now, and Abbey tells us that her first dance for the night is the samba. Abbey says she only knows one thing about the samba and that’s that it scares the life out of her. OH REALLY, HOW SURPRISING AND FASCINATING *repeatedly bashes self around the head with a tea-tray* DO TELL ME MORE! She goes on to say that she had a really terrifying moment in training where she realised that no matter what she did, it was just going to wind up looking ridiculous.
Well…yes, it’s a SAMBA. That’s what it’s FOR. At least you aren’t being made to dance it dressed as Pocahontas/a hot dog/a giant steaming turd, or any of the other fancy-dress themes Ashley Taylor Dawson got lumbered with.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
I do love that whenever Abbey does get a ludicrous theme it’s always still somehow flattering. For her Fancy Dress Weeks she got to be a SEXY 60s model, SEXY Miss Havisham and a SEXY Disco Diva as opposed to, say, Porno Aladdin, Cha Cha Rasputin or Gladys The Backalley Lobster Vampire Dentist. Even now, her inappropriate music choice (“Faith”) allows Aljaz to dress up as young sexy George Michael and her just to be one of his video-girls.
And this is 80s George Michael, so he does sexy dancing with her, rather than, say, blowing her off to go wank off a policeman in a public toilet instead.
As a dance, their samba is quite enjoyable, and that’s only 95% because
Aljaz is blatantly choreographing to point his booty at the camera as much as possible. It’s fast and fun and dynamic, and were I to swing that waywards for anybody, then I would say that Abbey looks very sexy throughout. It’s just that there doesn’t seem very much there to get hold of (other than…you know…the obvious that I’m not going to mention specifically again because my ongoing fixation on it makes me feel a bit like I’m Dominic Littlewood). I don’t know if it’s the song or the choreography but it all just feels a bit…empty.
Abbey’s Latin for you, I guess.
It gets a standing ovation, and Bruce wheezes to her that he just knew it would. Maybe he could read it on the prompter ahead of time… Len starts for the judges, talking about how hard it is to combine rhythm, technique and performance. Poor Mrs Len. He thinks that Abbey managed it though. Well done. Bruno follows saying “screw technique!” and then
making a series of grunty noises like a disgusting sexxx-pig then closes by saying that Abbey really turns him on. He always finds one per series doesn’t he? And oddly it’s more surprising when it’s a man (poor Scott).
Craig is next, and starts by wryly smiling that he feels like Bruno might be on the turn, as Darcey screams
like he’s going to be after her next, chasing her round like Benny Hill. I wouldn’t doubt it. Bruce cackles and snorts that he’ll do the jokes thank you very much. The idea that Bruno would ever put it in a woman truly is the funniest joke of them all. Craig goes on to say that he would have liked more bounce, but he loved how she coped with the rhythm changes and it was, all in all, amazing. Darcey closes by saying that Abbey has the vibe. She’s hip, she’s fresh, she’s totally now. I swear with each passing week Darcey reminds me more and more of Fiona from the Josie & The Pussycats Movie.
Up to the Tessanine they romp, where Tess grins that Abbey just left Bruno speechless. But sadly, not noiseless. Abbey says she was just trying to have fun because it could be her last dance and yet again Tess Daly, dance-pedant swoops in to remind her that she still has her American Smooth to come.
Yes Tess. WAG THAT FINGER. Otherwise she’ll never learn. Tess then reminds us that Abbey started the show as a novice, and nerves have been a factor. DID SHE? HAVE THEY? PLEASE TELL ME MORE! *HOLDS TOASTER OVER BATH-TUB* Scores are in
Given the vote-leak, or even without it, I bet Sophie’s glad there were two dances this week, eh?
Fierce, Strong, Independently Minded, Best-Dancer-The-Show’s-Ever-Had, Best-Hair-The-Everything’s-Ever-Had, Avant-Garde and Artistic GODDESS OF DAHNCE Natalie Gumede & Artem Chigvintsev dancing the Argentine Tango
Now for this segment we’re getting the return of JUDGES HOLODECK, the segment wherein all of the judges sit around and decide what the contestant’s storylin…I mean, strengths and weaknesses are. It doesn’t feature Alesha and Bruno cackling and singing b-grade 90s pop classics to one another any more, so I’ll just give you a quick summary of their findings.
Pros : Technical Perfection, Lyricism, Fierce Hair, The Transfixatits
Cons : Technical Perfection, Predictability, Wafting, Random Bursts Of Hysterical Laughter
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
I have to admit, I had expected (/feared) that the giant chess-pieces would be all over the dance-floor, rather than just shoved over by the stairs. Sadly Natalie and Artem aren’t themselves dressed as chess-pieces unless “Out Of Work C-Beebies Presenter” is now a chess piece. It’s a shame. That’d be one fierce Queen out on the dance-floor.
I’m glad that we’re finally getting a really strong Argentine Tango this year anyway. Between this, Sophie, and Susanna’s we’ve had one very good one, one good one and…Susanna’s. Which is about the ration of quality we always used to get in the Old Days of the Argentine Tango, as much as people like to romanticise it as being otherwise. As a dance it’s not got the tight precise defined fleetness of Rachel’s, or the overwhelming theatrics of Mark’s or the seedy glamour of Kara’s but it is
pretty darned sexy. It’s beyond time too, as for being such a strong dancer she and Artem have been outgunned on the on-floor chemistry front by pretty much every couple so far. But I swear there’s like, one point where it totally feels like they’re going to SNOG and stuff (*SQUEALS AND WRITES FAN-FIC*). She occasionally loses her footing a bit and she never quite feels like she’s doing the whole “lead-and-response” aspect of the dance as she should but for depth of feeling alone this is a highlight I feel. Also
the dance has a false finish
which I am ALWAYS in favour of. Always.
THIS time the dance gets a Standing Ovation, which pleases Bruce : Keeper Of The Keys To The Purity Of Dahnce immensely. So of course we don’t see it and instead cut to
Iveta looking bored, Aliona going “MOOOOOOO!” and Kristina yelling “YOU ROBBED MY BEN, YOU BITCH! WATCH YOUR BACK!”. Don’t question it, I can read lips. Bruno starts for the judges, saying that what astonished him was the precision and the placement. It felt like a “surgical operation”. Yes, I’m sure that’ll pull those nay-sayers over Bruno. Often casual fans watch this show and think “you know it’s good, but I’m missing the forceps and the smell of bleach”. Craig follows, saying that he agrees with Bruno, but her ganchos need to be looser because the whole dance didn’t look improvised enough. Maybe she should have asked the audience to call out a genre of film, a type of fruit, and a Disney villain, and worked around that. Josie Lawrence could have wandered on halfway through and had a hoe-down. Such fun.
Darcey’s next, and says “the expertise of difficulty could not be better”
Len closes by saying that some dances are like fire and should warm, but Argentine Tango should BURN. And that SIZZLED.
It’s very rare that someone can mix metaphors so THOROUGHLY using only one original metaphor as their base. Well done Len.
Up to the Tessanine they en passant, where Tess lasciviously praises Natalie for her womanly curves, and Natalie
clutches her chest and squeals that she feels obscene. Sophie : President Of The Strictly Chastity Club thinks “darn right harlot – put those dirty pillows away, God is watching”. Tess asks Natalie how she’s feeling, and she replies that she’s “on Claud 9”. Not til the results show, love. She’s then asked how much the show means to her and she says both “I’ve never felt so alive” and “we’ve been THRILLED to perform for you!”
right down the camera lens. What a nut. I’m not sure if I’m finding Artem or Brenda’s face more hilarious there. Scores are in
The Inspirational, Elegant, Sophisticated, Charming, Quietly Charismatic, Debonair, Laurence Olivier Of Casualty, Only Ever Non-White Romeo and Best Male Dancer Of The Series Patrick Robinson & Anya Garnis dancing the paso doble
Pros : Natural Rhythm, Inner Groove, Inspirational Elder Status, Nobody Wanting Anya To Cry
Cons : Penis
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
What a classical beauty shot of Patrick. If this were America’s Next Top Model (and let’s face it, the points of comparison are literally endless) this would be his Covergirl shot. The effect is kind of spoiled somewhat by the camera pulling back to reveal Anya sprawled on the floor going
“ROARRRRRRRRRGH!”. You know, just like Tyra would.
That right there is pretty much the story of the dance to be honest – Patrick looking a bit bored and distant as Anya flings herself around like she just graduated from the Kristina Rihanoff School Of Dance Distraction. It doesn’t look like he’s leading her at all, not once, and there are points where it honestly looks like he’s
trying to sneak a crafty glance at his watch to see how much longer he’s got left. Just to encapsulate it, compare the energy levels between the two dancers at this moment in the dance.
Apparently Patrick has explained that his complete lack of “giving-a-shit”ness about this dance was because it was being danced to “Because The Night”, which is so wrong I can’t even start, because Ashley had to dance to Disney puke, so don’t start complaining you landed a BONA-FIDE 70S POWER BALLAD CLASSIC, Patrick Robinson. People have danced amazing pasos to Andrew Lloyd Webber, Wings, The White Stripes, and Lady Frickin Gaga before, get over yourself. (Alright, not necessarily AMAZING but…at least they tried). Admittedly, Anya hasn’t choreographed the most exciting ending for him
she just falls over. But still. Not exactly going out on a high.
It gets about half a standing ovation, at the heart of which is, I’m guessing
Patrick’s dad? Anyway Bruce can’t quite decide whether to point this sort-of-ovation out or not, and also what these new-fangled pros are supposed to be called, eventually settling on “Anna”. Speaking of which, up on the Tessanine, Pasha appears to be looking around for solidarity over her thrashing but
finds only another ex. Poor Pasha.
So many jokes that went unredacted this series.
Craig starts for the judges, slightly lost for words, saying that the dance “had control” (in that it’s very hard to lose control of the role of “stand here whilst muggins goes mental”) and “command” but it didn’t feel Spanish at all. It was all very square, and Craig thinks that it exposed all of Patrick’s weaknesses. Like walking. Ooft. Darcey is next and she says that she’s very sad that Patrick didn’t “turn it on”. Whatever “it” is, and I’m sure we can all speculate. She thinks there was command as Craig said but no
…yeah, that. What a pity.
Len follows, and says that he saw Attitude and Arrogance and Verve and Energy and other gay magazines for retirees , but it was a bit “off and on”. I…thought it was entirely “off” to be honest Len. Like…all the way off, and wedged there with a broomhandle. Bruno closes, and praises Patrick for his power and determination but says the whole routine lacked detail and artistry. It DID have Anya’s pants though. Quite a lot. So what’s to complain about?
Bruce sends them off up to the Tessanine with a hearty “AT LEAST THEY ALL STOOD UP FOR YOU!” stood next to…quite a few people who demonstrably didn’t, but oh well. Pretend Standing Ovations count just as much. Tess asks him how he feels and he says he thinks that went better in rehearsals, but it was ok. When asked if he thinks he’ll make the finals, he mysteriously says that nobody knows the powers of the black magic box.
Well, that’s one name for it. Finally Tess asks if we’ll be seeing some of his famous lifts (?) if he makes the final (lol) and Anya chirps “YES YES YES!” like a merry little cartoon chipmunk. Bless. I think an Anya Showdance would have been…perky. Scores are in
Demure, Porcelain, Perfect, Perenially Undermarked Pure English Rose, Queen Of Pop, Denier-Of-Evil-Fake-Tan, And Ruler Of Charleston Forever-More Sophie Ellis-Bextor & Brenda Cole dancing the American Smooth
Pros: Cleanliness, Purity, Classiness, Loveliness, Nerdery, Being “THAT GIRL”
Cons: Peaking In Week 2, Acting, Giggling, Self-Confidence, Lack Of Ability To Be Both Filthy And Dirty
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
They’re dancing to the Lisa Stansfield (?) version of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”.
Brenda did his best to stymie all this before it started by promising last thing on It Takes Two this week that the routine would contain really unusual, exciting, and difficult lifts. So…
here they are. I hope your mind is blown by the CRAAAAAAAAAZINESS. I do love the last one, but then again Brenda has always known how to punctuate an American Smooth with the last lift. And yes I am thinking about Kelly Brook And The Greatest Illegal Lift Of All Time when I say that. As for the dance itself, she creates some lovely
little moments of dreaminess, but it all looks a little bit under-cooked, and she still doesn’t quite know what to do with her arms a lot of the time. I think Sophie might possibly have suffered the most from the leap to two-dance week, just because her dances have both looked a bit raggedy around the edges. Based on the lifts though, we’re in for no repeat of Snowdance (thank goodness/oh drat) (*delete as appropriate*). Also
Brenda sliding down the bannister will always be amazing. It was even amazing when he did it with Bloody Lulu for goodness sake.
Once they’re done, and they’ve accepted their Standing Ovation, and they’ve wandered over to Bruce, he guffaws that Brenda sliding down the bannister really did remind him of himself in the morning. Wilnelia really does grease those stairs up good doesn’t she? One day…
Darcey is on first, and says that American Smooth is SO Sophie’s dance. All of the lifts were graceful, and the way she got out of them was SO CLASSY. You didn’t even see her vag once. Len is next up, and says that he really liked the lifts and the musical interpretation but occasionally her head went a bit “how’s yer father?”.
Excuse you Len, Sophie’s head doesn’t DO “how’s yer father?” except with her husband, once a month, with the lights off and his socks on.
Bruno follows, and says that Sophie spread magical stardust around the room. Hold up Bruno. We’ve just had the Nigella scandal, I’m not sure Britain can cope with another English Rose brought low by dru…oh, metaphorical magical stardust. Carry on. Whatever the fuel, he thinks it was her best performance to date. Craig closes by sighing that he thinks that Sophie only really works when she’s in hold with Brendan. On her own…she’s lost. Still, it was a beautiful dance and really stylish and blah bling bling blah. Craig really has given up on constructing positive criticism hasn’t he?
Up to the Tessanine they hurry, where Sophie sighs that Strictly really was meant for dances like that one. By which I suspect she means “none of that latin muck”. Tess asks Brenda how proud he is of Sophie, and he says it’s really difficult to put into words.
As evidenced by his last 27 cringey speeches on the topic. BUT HERE HE GOES AGAIN! Tonight’s been a delight and it’s really topped off a magical Strictly experience for him, the audience are fantastic and THIS GIRL is fantastic also. Scores are in
Inspirational, Mother-Of-Twenty, Pulitzer-Prize-Worthy, Warm, Friendly, Approachable, Relatable, Sweetheart-Of-The-Sofa & The Nation’s Favourite Susanna Reid & Kevin Clifton dancing the salsa
Pros : Being “What This Show Is All About”, The Surprise Factor, Likability, The International Choreographical Crucible that is Grimsby
Cons : Her Faces Are Sometimes So Terrifying That Demons Come
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
They’re doing their salsa to “Move Your Feet” by Junior Senior, with a sort of video-gamey “Dance Dance Revolution” sort of theme, presumably in homage to the original video. I would speculate on which one of them is supposed to be Junior and which is Senior, but we all know it’s rude to speculate on a lady’s age, and besides we all know that Kevin is the adorably pissy cartoon squirrel anyway. The dance is basically her samba, minus the costumes and the “KEVIIIIIIIIIIIINNNN!” but with extra armography and
random jumping up and down and screaming like someone’s mum took a bit too much gin to numb herself before the One Direction concert she’s accompanying her flamboyant teenage son to. No, really, can’t you imagine this in the front row to “Best Song Ever”?
Then her asking Kevin which one he thinks is TEH HOTTEST BECAUSE SHE THINKS IT’S NIALL and him replying that she’s really embarrassing him because HE’S NOT GAY, HE JUST REALLY LIKES ONE DIRECTION, OK. Hey, it’s more of a story than Kevin’s given this, amongst the beep-boops. It’s absolutely mental, although her titty-shaking has sadly somehow got less pronounced from the glory days of samba though. Maybe she’s worn out, bless her. She has been ill. And hey, if One Direction isn’t enough of a cultural reference then how about this bit
where they basically just break into The Routine? Apparently the results of all this is that Susanna wins.
You know. Spoilers and that.
Over to the judges they wander, mid standing-ovation, where Bruce asks Kevin if he’s shaved his chest.
It turns out he has. Bruce says that he finds that a blowtorch usually works best for hair-removal. Yes Bruce, but they already used it up making him that colour in the first place. There’s a man who’s done all the way to the middle. Len starts for the judges saying that he loved the energy and the sense of risk and abandonment to it, but that same risk and abandonment meant that it was, occasionally, at times
a complete fucking mess. Bruno says that he agrees, lots of energy, but no precision. Kevin huffs chivalrously that he doesn’t care, and Susanna is the sort of salsa girl he likes dancing with. Susanna then proceeds to
take a loo break?
Craig follows and says that if he had a pound for every time that Susanna pulled a different facial expression, he’d be a rich man. Wasn’t that the business plan behind Lisa Riley : Strictly Confidential? Anyway it was heavy-footed and messy but erm…vivacious?
That one’s got to be worth at least a fiver no? Darcey closes by saying that Susanna looked more relaxed and natural in that Latin than she ever has before, but about everything else, guess what? The boys are right.
Up to the Tessanine they go, where Tess asks her if she had fun. She did, and she’s glad that she can add a messy salsa to her muddy samba on her DAHNCE RESUME. She and Kevin then hug one another and talk about how much they wub one another whilst Aliona thinks
about the last time Harry Judd called her. A long time ago. Scores are in
Beautiful, Amazonian, Tanned, Leggy, Humble, Likable, Down-To-Earth, Natural Beauty, and the Brigitte Bardot-Of-Merseyside-BUT-BETTER Abbey Clancy & Aljaz Skorjanec dancing the American Smooth
Pros: The Journey, The Elegance, The Perfect Scores, The Arse
Cons: The NYERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRVES
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Such racism, it’s appalling. Abbey’s American Smooth is set at that great British institution, the American High School Prom, where her yearbook has been projected onto the floor. Presumably this is some sort of Carrie-esque hazing, as nobody’s signed it for her, THE SHAME. But Abbey doesn’t care because
SHE’S GOT PINK BAWOOOOOONS!
They’re dancing to “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond (yuss!) and it’s a genuinely really sweet and engaging dance. It’s full of pizazz
and sweetness and really lovely light nostalgic choreographical touches including a genuine bona-fide
Prom Spin as the music reaches its crescendo. The lifts are maybe not as impressive or as memorable as Sophie’s and there’s a bit more
hi-NRG kncker-flashing than I’m here for, but other than that I’ think she’s got her beat if we’re comparing across the evening (I don’t have to say who I thought did the better salsa between Natalie and Susanna right? Right?). I have to say, when she’s on-song, I don’t think anyone can touch Abbey for ballroom this series. All in all, between this, Patrick, Ashley’s breakthrough, Sophie’s first 10 and Natalie’s apotheosis of wafting THAT MADE HER FEEL ALIVE (I can forgive it in an American Smooth) I think it’s been a good year for the whole American Smooth genre, and it’s normally a dance I’m not terribly interested in. The dance ends with a hug
and a Standing Ovation rather than how the last dance of my own Prom King & Queen ended, with a desperate snog and him furtively trying to finger her through her tights. Maybe if they do it again in the final?
Bruno starts for the judges and…do we really need to go through again what Bruno thinks of Abbey at this point?
He thinks she’s alright. Craig is next, and says she’s charismatic, charming, and really watchable. Unfortunately…
her foot was just sickled in a lift. A bit. Bruce snorts that nobody even saw it apart from Craig, and Darcey hoots “I SAW IT AS WELL!”. And then scores her (SPOILERS) 10. Well done Darcey. She goes on to compound the error by calling Abbey “High School Musical Glamour”. Yes nothing says “glamour” like having a piss fit on a golf-course, then having a debate with your own reflection, all done whilst the colour of a satsuma. Len closes by saying that he’ll see her next week in the final.
LEN’S BOLD PREDICTIONS there. I notice he still didn’t put his walnuts on the line.
Up to the Tessanine they swoosh, where Abbey squeaks some more about how much she loved that dance. Tess asks her how much she wants to be in the final and she replies that she’s desperate to be in the final because…say it with me now…
“I JUST DON’T WANT IT TO END!”. I’m thinking if they released draw-string Princess Abbey dolls on the basis of this series, the recording session wouldn’t last for a terribly long time. Scores are in
TO THE FINALSMOBILE!