No recap of what happened last week to start off with (don’t worry, they’ll more than make up for it later) as we start with a specially remixed credits sequence for the final in which Sophie, for one night only
gets to be the “HO!”. Nobody tell her husband.
We move straight to the dancefloor for the last pro-dance of the series (unless you count flouncing around whilst Robbie Williams “does swing”, which I’m sure we’re all collectively trying to forget/disown as a nation) headed up, in this Year Of The Woman
by Karen Hauer, at her most…Karen Hauerly. It is, of course, a Latin Showcase so our two authentically Latin pros are there swishing and vamping and shaking their maracas whilst Aliona
wonders if she’ll get a free pony written into her contract next year, when she has to replace Natalie again after it turns out she got a bit too tipsy-wipsy at that wedding she choreographed for It Takes Two, and is now pregnant with the baby of the best man. She’ll get her lawyers on it.
Once the LOSER pros who LOST have wiggled their tushies to J-Lo for long enough to justify however much she charged them for buying the rights to play a piece of generic dance crap, when they officially could have created the same level of atmosphere with a Casio preset, our
POTENTIALLY WINNING MALE PROS EMERGE FROM THE FOG. I cannot confirm or refute whether Kevin was making airplane noises at this point. Then a giant
INFERNAL LIGHT-BOX drops from the ceiling, carrying the faces of our four finalists just in case you’ve forgotten what they look like. It then shouts their names out and
gives birth to them, as they slowly descend on a golden platform draped in smoke. Can you imagine this happening in the early series? Chris Parker and Natasha Kaplinsky both stood in the middle of a GIANT LASER SHOW as Anton and Erin did bodypopping to “Take Me To The Clouds Above”? Although I would give cash-money to see how Julian Clary would have styled out this sort of extravaganza. Anyway, as they descend the music changes to “I’m Every Woman” because indeed, all womanhood is represented here. There’s the posh one, the common one, the old one and the black one. It’s like a BENNETTON ADVERT OF FEMINEMINISM.
Oh and incidentally, just how incredibly uncomfortable Sophie looks at this point, dancing to a dance hit of the 80s
should maybe have given Brenda some hints, no?
As everyone heaves their ribcages up and down and gets ready for the evening of DAHNCE ahead, Natalie already
looks like she can kind of SEE the divine already, somewhere in the middle-distance. It’s coming towards her, like a comet hurtling towards earth or an early hours tube train towards someone doing a drunken macarena on the tracks at 3am. She is ready to receive it.
Not so ready to receive the divine is
Tess. Yes that is what he calls it. Poor Wilnelia. Bruce laughs that he nearly missed her there, and Tess grins “not quite…now get your finger out of there”. As they roust up the audience we see just how star-packed it is, containing a veritable panoply of previous winners. There’s
Hobbit and Flippy
and Smuggo and Kerplunk and all of Santa’s other reindeer. Once we’ve run through the opening spiel, and made the inevitable tip of the hat to the fact that yes, this is our first ever 100% female final, Tess
absently pats Bruce on the shoulder and asks if he’s had a good week. He says that he…almost had a good week. It was all going so well until he had to sit through Katy Perry wailing like the Belisha Beacon of pop when he was a guest on Alan Carr : Chatty Man (the enduring affection between Bruce Forsythe and Alan Carr baffles and warms me, and I choose to believe that he deliberately snubs Graham Norton knowing that he is his natural successor, leaving him stuck this last Friday having to sit through Len making dick jokes and pretending not to remember Kara Tointon when we ALL REMEMBER KARA TOINTON LEN, SHE WAS THE LAST INCARNATION OF THE GODDESS OF DAHNCE THAT ACTUALLY WORKED). (Ahem). Anyway, some old woman also felt up Bruce’s turkey in ASDA and that ruined everything let’s move on.
Let’s move on to Bruce trying to work out how to take a selfie.
I’m glad, at least, that if a Trend Of Today had to be worked in to Brucie’s final spiel, it was this instead of twerking. In both cases the fingers would have been in all the wrong places, but in this one, less horrifically so. After he’s done accidentally pulling up that picture that Wilnelia sent him, scarring Tess for life, he tells us all that tonight, the judges scores are for guidance only, and have no impact whatsoever on the actual result.
Also because the 10 paddle has not been devalued enough this series already apparently.
Out everyone comes, elevated in Bruce’s intro because they’re in the final to being SUPERSTARS OF THE SHOW. If this series has any lasting legacy I hope it’ll be that, much like after we saw Michael Vaughan shoving her around in a wheelbarrow swinging an axe and giggling her head off we could never take Natalie seriously as a SHARK-EYED DESPERATE TO WIN megabeyotch ever again,
“Artem Chigvintsev – Russian Terminator” stops being a thing. What a sloppy dollop.
Once they’re all settled, Bruce reminds us that it truly has been the YEAR OF THE WOMAN
but it wouldn’t have been possible without the male pros there to support and guide and protect them and lay their coats over puddles for them and shizz. This is, of course, all one big set-up for another “Kevin From Grimsby” gag (please, God, enough) but happily it gets lost when Bruce “accidentally” calls Brenda “Brenda”.
Which amuses Sophie far too much (NYERRRRRRRRRRRD). When we DO finally get to the punchline, which involves Bruce getting everyone in the audience to shout “GRIMSBY!” because Lord knows this series needed more turning into a panto, the camera cuts right to
these two stars, thinking “nobody ever bloody asked us where we came from” (Sydney and Reading). As we’ve no Results Show, it’s left up to Bruce to hype up the entire evening’s entertainment. We’ve got Celebrities Choice and Showdance and Blobby Williams and the always amazing RETURNING LOSERS GROUP DANCE and of course, my now annual rage-fit when they don’t bother announcing who came 2nd but FIRST, it’s time for the ever-transparent JUDGES PICK.
Susanna Reid & Kevin Clifton dancing the quickstep
Bruce says that he’s SICK AND RUDDY TIRED of people asking him all the time who is going to win Strictly Come Dancing when it’s SO OBVIOUS WHO IT’S GOING TO BE! His insight? “It’s going to be a LADY!”. Not if you listen to the Daily Mail it isn’t Bruce. They’re none of them ladies by their standards. Maybe Sophie, but even she had a child out of wedlock. Bruce goes on to say that, whoever wins, they are contractually obliged to have a selfie with him. Like there’s any chance of him leaving enough time after the results have been revealed to take a selfie. He’ll be out that door and in his private jet, so he can get back to the Cryochamber before 11pm, at which point his bones turn to dust.
SO. At this point every year, you all have to suffer through a Monkseal blog tradition known as “Strictly Fairy Tales”, because all the VTs in the final are dead boring. And this year, in the YEAR OF THE WOMAN, there’s a very special tome being cracked opened and dusted off (no, not you Arlene). It’s entitled “The Girls Of St Tessian’s : The Legend Of Daly’s Gold”. *puts on Kevin Clifton style reading glasses*
““OOOHH, OOOH, PICK ME, I KNOW!”. Suzie’s well-manicured hand rocketed up, her eyes a-flame with the glee of being right, almost knocking her continental sunglasses off her well-tanned forehead with excitement. The other girls in Mrs Lowe’s Australian Geography class all rolled their eyes and went back to doodling adorable kangaroos on their desk-tops in ball-point. Ever since Little Suzie Reid had transferred from Breakfast Academy she’d been simply insufferable, showing off her solid-gold fountain pen and prizewinning pony at whatever tenuous circumstance she could find, and buttering up matron by sneaking her gramophone records on the sneak. Everyone knew that she was only Teachers Pet because her uncle, the famous B.B See, was head of the school Chair Of Governors and Ambassador to Finland. Every other girl in the Upper 6th had seethed as she swanned maddeningly into the post of School Newspaper Editor without any experience at all, simply because of rotten nepotism. Phoo! And now she was angling for the post of Strictly Head Girl, and with it the legendary KEY TO DALY’S VAULT, wherein it was rumoured one could find all sorts of golden treasures.
It was even more rotten luck for the green-eyed gals of St Tessians, that Suzie has somehow angled that her campaign manager be Kevin Clifton – the groundskeeper’s son! Every girl in St Tessian’s longed for Kevin’s gentlemanly touch in ways they could not yet identify because they were still young ladies and had not learnt yet of the ways of the flesh, and would not until they were safely married off to either the son of a marquis or a big mover in the oil industry and had to produce two children, under sufferance, between their husband’s visits to the golf course. Kevin was so handsome! So sweet! So shy! So exotically NORTHERN and FORBIDDEN. Rachel Riley sat staring at him out of the window as Mrs Lowe droned about how AMOYZING OOOOLAHHHHROOOOO was, hoeing the soil earnestly, wearing a flat-cap and coal-grimed braces. She remembered, blushing, the occasion that Fullerton had snuck in that foxed copy of Lady Chatterly’s Lover for them all to giggle over during lights out, and the next day, giddy on ginger ale, Rachel had accidentally called him “Mellors”, then fair nearly passed out from shame. Oh it was simply TOO unfair. As the school bell rang, and Susie skipped merrily out of the classroom, clutching her pristine satchel and brand new textbooks, leaving naught but resentment and jealousy in her wake, Rachel pondered how it was that God shone his light so much more fulsomely on some girls than others. If only she had put in for Head Girl, rather than spending so much extra time on Maths lessons. She was a YOUNG LADY in the 1920s! What need had she for figures and equations and complex mannish matters such as that? It was beastly unfeminine of her, and she felt a shame to her sex.”
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
So Susanna is reprising the quickstep because she lost the footwork last time, and the judges want her to correct that. Apparently Susanna was glad about this because she adored Kevin’s choreography, and wanted to “DO JUSTICE” to it this time. Except the original relied on the Busby Berkeley overkill of backing dancers for the sheer spectacle of it, and apparently Lovely Shem is getting his roots done for the final, so…it’s not quite there. Susanna does dance it a bit better, by which I mean it takes a little longer for her to say “oh sod it” and just start randomly hoofing air. Still, her greater comfort on the floor does give her greater freedom to unleash that
Susanna Reid Performance Style that we’ve all come to know and…erm…recognise. Her assault on the couch at the end is also
a little more stable than last time. So really, all in all, an improvement, if still not one of my favourite dances of hers by some distance.
Just assume everything gets a standing ovation this evening by the way. It’ll be quicker for us all. If you need a sorbet to refresh the palette, the slightly astringent look of
Fiona Fullerton : Soph…Abbey Super-Stan at this point should help. As the whooping and hollering goes on, Bruce sighs that they’ll be running over time if they’re not careful. Because he’s normally so assiduous about that. And because it wouldn’t be perfectly easy to edit out 5 minutes or so from Atlantits and have it make no difference at all to the coherence of the plot. Bruce quickly runs through introducing the judges and then follows this up with a quick joke about Bruce asking Len if, once the series if over, he’s off anywhere sunny. Len apparently took umbridge at this, thinking Bruce was calling him “Sonny”, rather than his usual name for him : “Bitch”.
Indeed, it’s left to Len to start for the judges, as he congratulates Susanna on the wonderful start to the evening she just had. The dance had a real “Feelgood Factor” and it was a KNOCKOUT in this FIRST ROUND. Good grief I should have prepared myself for how inane these comments were going to be ahead of time, but there’s only so much vodka left in Waitrose after the Christmas rush. Bruno is next, and as usual for a final, Bruno’s contribution is being measured solely in faces.
Craig is next, and he highlights the gapping, the frantic top-line and the laboured footwork
I know! Someone’s being critical in the final! Don’t worry though Susanna & Kevin, because he thought it was AN AMAZING PERFORMANCE. Jeez, most of us stick “I love you but…” at the beginning of the critique, not the end. It sounds so much more genuine that way. Darcey closes by saying that it was fast and fun and without faux pas. It was just YUMMY like gooseberry & cinnamon yoghurt on special offer at Ocado, HUZZAH.
Up to the Tessanine they kick, where we learn the saddest news of the evening. Separated from his Iveta, Mark has started to grow a
bit of hobo beard. She never would have let that fly. Cold hard Lithuanian woman know the important of being groomed at all times for all seductive eventualities. Or maybe he’s been cast as Greengrass in Heartbeat : The Musical? As we all ponder on that, Susanna grins to Tess that she’s so glad that the sofa didn’t eat her. Has Natalie been passing her painkillers around? She then launches into a little speech about how great it was to be able to deliver Kevin’s beautiful wonderful choreography successfully, which is undercut only slightly by Ben Cohen
reaching across to stroke Ashley’s face throughout. So much homoerotic touching this year. To finish, Tess asks Susanna what we can look forward to in the Showdance, and Susanna says that there’s a distinct possibility Craig might die. Whether this is from her MASSIVE LIFT or the toxic gas being pumped into the studio throughout, she doesn’t specify. Scores are in :
Abbey Calncy & Aljaz Skorjanec dancing the waltz
Bruce starts with a joke about how he perved on Abbey and she told him to drop dead.
Apparently it’s his favourite joke of them all. My favourite joke is :
“Why couldn’t the lifeguard save the hippie from drowning?”
“BECAUSE HE WAS TOO FAR OUT MAN!”
It’s all in the delivery.
“CLANCY! KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL!” bellowed Ms Boag, through a mouthful of fishfinger sandwich (which she had invented and which would not hit the mass-market until 30 years later until patenting issues were sorted out, hush) , as Abigail tripped coltishly over into a ginormous muddy puddle. “BUT MISS! ME NYERRRRRRRRRVES!” the radiantly blonde Abigail spluttered, brushing the worst splatters of detritus off her gym skirt. This was simply awful. Just because she was courting (chastely) with Peter, the captain of Stoke Boys Grammar rugger team (football was a game for the lower orders, and not encouraged amongst young ladies and gentlemen of Abigail’s standing), everyone presumed that she too would be a maven of the sporting arena, when instead she found it thoroughly beastly. Because of her NYERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRVES. She would much rather spend an evening doing embroidery or practising her stylish deportment than trying to compete for the hockey ball with Thumper Feltz and that Lithuanian exchange-student who always BIT so in the scrimmages. What feat of wizard ingenuity would it take for a girl to be let off Physical Instruction permanently, and allowed to retire delicately to her dorm to practice becoming the new Coco Chanel, or Yves St Laurent, or Victoria Beckham, rather than inevitably ending up face-first in manure and barked at by an Antipodean termagant?
As she showered demurely after the match was over, making sure that if any young gentleman from the village were watching through the window they would only catch her most fragrant and feminine angles, Abbey overheard two girls from the 4th, just on their way in to rhythmic gymnastics with Miss Vilani (a mysterious figure recently rehired after a scandal involving the school canteen, a vat of custard, and Mrs Daly’s pet Yorkshire terrier Mittends) talking about the election to the role of St Tessians Head Girl which she had previous been unaware of, due to her NYERRRRRRRRRRRRRVES (for some reason, just go with it). According to these young’uns the competition was weaker than ever this year, due to mysterious undefined “rigging” from the school Board Of Governors to favour the daughter of one of those noble scions. The prize of a trip into Mrs Daly’s vault to hunt for deeply buried treasure was so deliciously tempting to Abigail, knowing as she did of the rumours of a mysterious solid gold sewing machine lost years ago in a storm. But who to pick to guide her hand towards the victory? Peter was the obvious choice, but he knew naught of popularity contests, having spent most of his life in Liverpool. But there was one amongst his rugby team who fascinated her. A young COSSACK type chap from EUROPE’S MYSTERIOUS EAST, with an enchanting twinkle, old-fashioned manners, and a cracking arse. And if there’s one thing that Abigail knew won the race to becoming Strictly Head Girl, it was an enchanting twinkle…
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Abbey is reprising her waltz because the judges want to give it 40. That’s pretty much exactly what they say, although they said that about Denise van Outen’s jive last year and then they didn’t bloody do it so *shrug*. Personally I’m glad that she’s reprising it, because it was one of my favourite Week 1 dances and also…
alright, yes, I don’t need to use words, do I?
For all us sat here wondering how exactly Abbey Clancy plotted out a course from 10th of 10 and at least 4 places behind Fiona Fullerton in the public vote (no offence Fiona) to champion of Strictly Come Dancing Series 11 it’s a good chance to reflect on her trump card, dancing wise
her BLAZING CHEMISTRY with Aljaz. It’s like she looked at Natalie’s Argentine Tango last week and thought “yeah, nice try bizzotch, but THIS is how you do nearly snogging someone”. Really it’s quite a simple waltz, with a lot of pauses and wafting about, but she does what she does more or less flawlessly, and it’s a nice pause after the over-the-top frenetic quickstep we just had.
Once they’re over at Bruce, he asks her if she POINTED HER TOE THAT TIME, in what he thinks is a Scouse accent, but which is more likely to have just given poor Chelsee PTSD flashbacks to when he treated her like a scullery maid whilst staring at her boobies. Bruno is up first to the bat for the judges.
Thanks Bruno. Craig follows by saying that he’d just like to point out that he said in week 1 that he knew that Abbey was going to be amazing and OH LOOK HERE SHE IS, BEING AMAZING. Not that he wants to brag of course (or that it’s easy to say that when you subsequently get to set the parameters on what “amazing” means). Abbey of course at this point is
in floods of tears.
Darcey follows by saying that the difference between Abbey now and Abbey in Week 1 is simply magical. The arch of the back, the lines, the constant nearly but not quite snogging. She’s never seen a celebrity have quite this sort of journey before – she never would have expected in week 1 (when she scored Abbey at the top of the leaderboard) to see Abbey in the final. Darcey obviously has a very low opinion of her own persuasive powers.
Len closes by yelling that that dance should be designated as an
AREA OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY! Area of Oustanding Natural BOOTY moar lyk. Also careful where you’re sticking that pen, Len. Apparently she has the greatest “girl celebrity” top-line in the history of both this show AND Dancing With The Stars. Wow. I bet Lisa Snowdon just broke something.
Up to the Tessanine they bounce, where Abbey squeaks about how amazing it is to get to dance the waltz in the final with Aljaz, and then apologises for crying like a big baby. After the final It Takes Two of the series, which was basically a competitive crying competition culminating in Susanna’s mother crying out a poem to a crying Susanna, a crying Kevin, and a crying Zoe Ball, I’m kind of over the waterworks, it has to be said. Bloody YEAR OF THE WOMAN. Control your ovaries ladies, I know it’s hard. Tess asks Abbey what the atmosphere in the studio’s like and she says that it’s amazing, and that the crowd are insane. To be fair, Kerplunk is bringing the average up. Tess asks Aljaz how he’s feeling and he says that he just agrees with Abbey, as Abbey squeals
“I’M SMEARING ME MAZZY!”. She then explains to Tess that means that her mascara is running, and it’s not a euphemism to do with illegal drugs. Scores are in
Natalie Gumede & Artem Chigvintsev dancing the cha cha
This, sadly, is the first point where Bruce says that EVERYONE’S A WINNER TONIGHT. No. There is one winner tonight. Abbey is the winner. That’s it. Get over it. It’s a nice sentiment and all but…no. I will maybe allow you to expand it to two winners, if the other winner is Aljaz. Three is you include his arse as a separate entity, which I believe the UN are working on as we speak. But other than that? NO.
Natalie undoubtedly stuck out from the other girls at St Tessians. This was partly because she was a 5ft 10 28 year old black woman with a giant afro at an English girls boarding school in the 1920s but also because she was, simply speaking, a bearcat. A palooka. A top-drawer bona-fide balled-up dame. An outcast. She was a 7 jar Jane in a 6 jar world. All of the other young ladies at St Tessians viewed her with suspicion. On so many occasions she had so nearly come out, and graduated from the school with honours, but something always stopped her. She fainted clean away into a fugue state. Her back went into seizures. A giant bell started ringing and disrupted the ceremony. People confused her from that Dutch girl who claimed to have just sat in a chair rather than revising before her A* exams, and ran her out of school. She was now on her 15th school, and as she sat in detention (for wanton wafting on school grounds) under Mr Kovalev making bunny puppets and singing her feelings, she felt further away from becoming a woman than ever.
But suddenly! Lo and Lawks! In her ear she heard a whisper through the high-window of the detention hall. “My name is Artie Chumley-Fyfewarner and I can make you free!”. Natalie turned behind her to see a quiet boy who she had never paid much mind before, mostly because his teeth seemed like the sort of thing that might set off her tremors. “I know a St Tessians Head Girl from seri…I mean years past. Her name… it was Kara, and she is now a big st…mediu…she was in a play. Apparently nobody remembers her because she became Head Girl in the same year that Ann Widdlestone burnt down the chemistry labs, but I REMEMBER, because with my avant-garde artistic jazz-age DANGEROUS choeography, I set free the beauty within and allowed her to see the wonders of Mrs Daly’s vault”. Natalie worried that Mr Kovalev would hear their fraternising and shoo Artie away, but fortunately he was too busy nursing a tiny sparrow with a broken wing back to health, so she asked Artie what she had to do to be Head Girl and have friends and TOUCH THE DIVINE. Artie told her to meet him behind the school gym at midnight. And bring the outsized novelty chess pieces from Mr Forsythe’s board-game club, because she was going to need them…”
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Natalie is reprising her cha-cha because apparently the judges want to see a new and wild party latin side to her they haven’t seen before. Given that they…just gave her 40/40 for her VEGETABLE-MUNCHING salsa from last week, I’m not sure who they think they’re kidding. They just want to get Artem dressed up a numpty and have some decent fast latin in the final, because lord knows they’re not getting it from anybody else. Well mission accomplished because Artem looks like an utter prune
and this cha cha is about as fun as a cha cha can get without featuring either MC Hammer or Alesha living out her Beyonce fantasies. This enjoyment on my part may well be because I spent the whole thing coming up with various combinations of new words for Cha Cha Rasputin rather than watching a week 1 cha cha being unaccountably being performed in the final.
Once they’re over at the judges, Artem starts randomly doing Cossack dancing (please remember that Artem hates every second of dressing up because he is a serious artist) and Bruce snorts that he used to be able to do that, but he’s not going to try now. What, being entertaining? Craig starts for the judges, saying that he loved her hip action and that she had impeccable timing, and Darcey follow by gushing that she never thought it possible for Natalie to be cleaner or tidier. And yet despite all this…it remains a week 1 cha cha.
Len is next and says that they’ve got a great combination here – a Lancashire Hotpot and the BEEF FROM THE EAST
Looks more like the HAM FROM SIAM to me. Bruno closes
Up to the Tessanine they swing
where Artem starts a mass Boney M clapalong. I reiterate – he hates the naff dressing up and the themes. Tess asks Natalie how it feels to be in the final, and she answers that the audience are phenomenal and it’s been the best experience of her life. Oh God, another one? Having gone a whole half-hour of a final without licking someone’s gunz for once, Tess whoops that Artem is a RUSSIAN LOVE MACHINE and demands that he TAKE HIS TOP OFF
How much testosterone do you think there needs to be next year to balance this tidal wave of ovary-juice out? I’m thinking a whole World Cup’s worth at least. Scores are in
Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Brendan Cole dancing the Viennese Waltz
What happens next is
Bruce walking up and down the stairs, over and over again, for about a minute. Some people have said this is Bruce seemlessly filling for some technical fault that was holding up the set-up for Sophie’s dance (presumably they were having trouble stuffing the kittens into the parcels again). I would dispute the “seemlessly”.
WHAMMO! Sophie, startled, looked up from her textbooks to see that that frightful Natalie girl was practising swinging from the hockey-pitch goals again, and this time had somehow managed to pull them over. How terribly annoying! It was 2am! Nice girls were not awake at 2am for anything other than algebra homework or writing essays about which of the colonies would be the greatest loss to the glorious British Empire (the correct answer being that as a good Christian it would be more pertinent to ask FOR which colony departure from the bounteous bosom of Queen Mary would be the most damaging). Frankly Sophie had noticed a great deal of the OTHER SORT invading the walls of St Tessians recently, dancing in a frankly FILTHY and DIRTY manner, and rousing all sorts of unpleasant foreign passions. The other day, as she was dissecting a frog in Mrs Jordan’s anatomy class (a class in which Mrs Jordan herself was usually most frequently the life model), some member of the 5th form she was supervising even tried to ask her what a CLITORIS was. After she had jammed her ears with paper towling and screamed a verse from Thessalonians and reported the girl to the Headmistress’s Office, Sophie resolved that what St Tessians needed as Head Girl was not some NOUVEAU-RICHE or some ECCENTRIC or some FLOOZY WHO WAS ALREADY COURTING BOYS but a strong pure hand on the tiller to guide its ship forward into the next decade.
Recently she had many interesting offers from young men who, blinded by her classic statuesque beauty and notorious purity, offered to aid her in her quest for the position of Head Girl (Mrs Daly’s supposed treasure held no allure for her, Sophie having checked the school’s library and deemed the rumours of bonanzas of lucre to be pure unadulterated tommyrot). But Sophie knew that if she wanted to win, she would have to hold her morality at bay, and select an aide-du-camp who had seized the metaphorical crown of womanhood before. An older boy of her acquaintance. A boy called Brenda. Rumour had it he had strayed into the ways of the flesh before, with a “Natasha”, a “Kelly”, and a “Lisa” but pleasingly he was now a born-again believer in the need for chastity, purity, faithfulness to the rules and most of all NO FILTHY DIRTY RUMBAS. Seeing the Gumede girl, flaunting her haberdashery for everyone to see, was the final straw that crippled Sophie’s camel. Things were going to have to change round here. And fast!
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Sophie is reprising her Viennese Waltz because…I dunno, her neck or something.
I have been pondering where Sophie went so wrong in the final that she was dumped out in last place, despite having beaten both Natalie and Abbey in previous votes. We’ll get to her showdance later but I do think, despite it being one of her Fan Favourite dances that the Viennese Waltz was a poor pick simply because
it feels so much like one of those awful Christmas adverts we’ve spent the last month being force-fed like geese making the transition to foie gras. The public couldn’t stand it and REBELLED. This was our revenge for the Bear And The Hare and the awful ageing make-up in the Tesco advert and that dancing gingerbread twat and Helena Bonham Carter and SANTAZBIN! SANTAZBIN! and having the same three bars of “You Give A Little Love” drilled into our foreheads when all we want to do is watch the STRICTLY FINAL IN PEACE. In terms of the required improvement, I think she looks a lot
freer and more elegant in her arms, but as for the neck, goodness only knows. She still looks a bit strained. I know Captain von Trapp was supposed to be a wee bit of a bastard but
it shouldn’t look quite so much like the bones in her hand are being crushed by his kung-fu grip.
As it gets a rapturous reception, the cameras cut to
Janet Ellis’ giant teary face. What a journey Janet Ellis and I have been on this series. In many ways it feels like she was the 16th contestant.
Darcey starts for the judges saying that she really felt like Sophie captured the character of that performance straight away and also held her neck properly. It was SO much better than last time, and a real pleasure to watch. Of course, Darcey gave it a 9 last time, so the scope for recognising how much “SO MUCH” is, is rather limited. Bruce sighs that Sophie’s neck was just like an ostrich’s and Sophie
struggles briefly to grasp how much of a compliment that was both meant to be and is. Len follows, saying that he saw wonderful rotation and he loved the pivits and the fleckuws, that Sophie really sorted out her top-line and the whole thing had a lovely whimsical feel. And who doesn’t love a lovely whimsical feel at this time of year?
and Craig finishes up by saying that he thinks Sophie’s posture let her down a bit in that dance to be perfectly honest, but he loved how she and Brenda “moved as one”. With bad posture. *shrug*
Up to the Tessanine they twirl, where, if anything
Fiona Fullerton : Soph…Abbey Superstan looks even more beatifically proud than Brenda. I have to admit there’s never been a THOOPAFAN before who was quite so much of a THOOPAFAN of her own series. Lord knows what would have happened if Susanna won. It probably would have been the first negative stage invasion following a win. Brenda of course at this point launches into yet another
speech about how amazing and beautiful and perfect Sophie is at the first opportunity available to him. I bet his wedding speech to his wife was a joy. I bet it lasted for well over an hour and had dramatic re-enactments in it. Tess asks Sophie how it feels to be in the final and she’s all “…yeah, it’s cool, I guess”. She then says that she’s very aware that it’s a privilege to be in the final, as it really could have been anybody else in the cast standing there instead of her, before waving her hand at…Julian McDonald. Snerk. We then briefly touch on Sophie’s mother crying again and also the fact that this is Brenda’s first final since 2008. Yes I’m sure he wanted reminding of that joyous evening Tess… Scores are in
Time for the first round leaderboard and remember, this is for your guidance only
Feel sufficiently guided? Good.
It is at this point that the voting lines open for the very first time, prompting the usual cacophony of cheers and larking about and shoving people around. My favourite is of course Aliona’s
“what a bunch of effing children” face throughout.
LET’S GET READY TO SHOWDANCE!
Given his own…chequered history with the genre, I’m not surprised Pasha looks a bit less excited than everyone else.
Susanna Reid & Kevin Clifton dancing a romantic waltz SHOWDANCE
Or as Bruce calls her “Suzanne”. It’s not the first time he gets someone’s name wrong this evening, you will be absolutely lacking in surprise to find out.
VT now, and, after about half an hour of her and Kevin just…clinging one another and crying, Susanna explains to us that her showdance will be a “big chunk of ballroom” but with lots of death-defying exciting lifts in it. Also that it’s really important to get every single step of it exactly right because otherwise she’ll definitely definitely be out of the final in fourth place. LOL ok Susanna. Technical inexactness hasn’t exactly hurt your vote up to this point. Really the crux of all these pre-showdance VTs is that the celebrities have bought their pros a present that represents their time together on Strictly.
Except that we don’t know yet that this is going to happen in every VT, so when Susanna announces that she’s bought Kevin a present to show how much he means to her, and it turns out to be a
toy robot, she just looks really cheap. Apparently the robot represents how she used to move like a robot or something, I don’t know. Oddly enough, from the way Kevin opens it
it looks a bit like he got her a very special present as well.
TO THE CAULDRON!
It’s like the third witch got stage-fright before the start of a radical re-imagining of MacBeth isn’t it? (to be fair, she would have been nude). This swirling fog is here because Kevin has choreographed a very overblown and theatrical showdance to the version of “Your Song” used in “Moulin Rouge”. Except they seem to have added the synths from “Beat It” to the start for some reason, so I spend the first 30 seconds worried that Kevin is going to break into his Michael Jackson impersonation (ie THE LEAN) again.
Fortunately, once they get going it’s basically their waltz again, but turned up to 11, but which is really all I ever asked of their showdance. There’s the
melodramatic stretching, the
EROTIC RING-AROUND-THE-ROSIE, the
SENSUAL HAIR-SNIFFING, the
SIDE-BY-SIDE, and with an exciting new addition
A GREAT WHACKING GREAT LIFT WHERE SUSANNA HANGS ONTO KEVIN’S NECK AND HE SWINGS HER ROUND LIKE TITANIC. It’s my favourite showdance of the evening (sorry) mostly because it is definitively Susanna and definitively Kevin and definitively mental. And that’s all you can really ask of a showdance.
Once the bangers are off the floor, and Susanna & Kevin are over with the judges, Len decides to share with us all that the secret of a good showdance is to “go with what you know”. Which I guess is why Julian Clary did his dressed as a sailor. Anyway, what Susanna knows is “elegance, style, sophistication, and grimly clinging to a guy’s neck as he tries to throw you off” so that suited her to a tee. Bruno is next
and he sympathises with Kevin.
Craig follows, saying that it was classy, stylish and AIRBOURNE. Just like Holly Valance when she flew into that VT in a helicopter, swigging champagne and laughing her head off. I miss her. Ahem. Anyway, Darcey closes by randomly sticking the knife in by saying that it was lovely, but it had no “wow factor”.
Excuse you Darcey, Susanna Reid did not almost strangle Kevin Grimsby to death for you to say it had no wow factor! TAKE THAT BACK!
Up to the Tessanine they gallop, as Fiona Fullerton makes a note to send Darcey an extra-tender poussin from the farm for Christmas. Once there, Tess asks Susanna if she’s looking forward to dancing her favourite dance again, and she replies that she’d love to, but what she’d REALLY love is to dance it with Kevin.
Eh? Is there some sort of last-minute twist going on? Does the woman with the lowest scoring showdance have to do their favourite dance with Anton? Have you snuck another twist by me, oh Evil Moira Ross (in a rainbow wig)? CURSE YOU! Scores are in
Abbey Clancy & Aljaz Skorjanec dancing a dramatic paso/tango SHOWDANCE
Bruce reminds us that Abbey was the first celebrity this year to get a perfect score. Apart from Julian (OF SUGAR – lawyers note).
Her VT starts with Abbey mewling that she’s definitely under pressure this week, as she has THREE WHOLE DANCES to do. Whatever Abbey, you don’t know you’re born. Back in the old days you had to do five dances for the final, and I’m damned sure none of them would have been a wk 1 waltz. She goes on to say that her showdance is going to be paso-y, tango-y and full of lifts.
This of course immediately brings back memories of Alesha almost dying at the end of her 80stastic showdance. At least Abbey won’t be hungover for hers, and so will have a bit more chance of getting through unscathed. (DRUNK ALESHA <3).
Anyway, Abbey’s showdance rehearsal goes badly and all the lifts go wrong and Aljaz thinks it’s nowhere near ready and yadda yadda
ABBEY’S GOT HIM A PRESENT. Aljaz’s reaction to getting a present is the best. Seriously, Kevin snotted all over Susanna’s shoulder for about half an hour over getting something that conceivably could have come out of a Christmas cracker, whereas Aljaz is giving it Pasha-Levels of bad VT acting. The present Abbey has got for her SEXY FRANKENSTEIN?
A picture of Abbey Clancy. OH MODELS.
TO THE CATWALK!
Seriously mate, there are creams you can put on that. Anyway, this pose is not held for more than 2 seconds before
someone sprays a fire extinguisher everywhere. This is the story of Abbey’s showdance – she’s so DAMNED HOT that the producers have to spray her down with foam, completely obliterating any dancing we can see, just to make sure she doesn’t set the sprinklers off. The magic of Strictly would truly be spoiled if Bruno was judging with Grecian 5000 running down his face.
It’s all being modell…I mean danced to “Sweet Child O Mine” by Guns’N’Roses, and it all feels very Zoolander.
Like Abbey and Aljaz are Derek and Hansel and they are having a
MOTHERLOVING POSE-OFF. It’s also, unfortunately, less interesting than that makes it sound, apart from the occasional glorious moment where Aljaz squints Blue Steel so hard his eyes actually bounce out of the back of his eyes sockets, into his brain, then back out again (yes that is how human anatomy works be quiet). I’ll be honest, this probably could have been passed off as a paso doble in earlier weeks, before they were being snitty about lifts (although…did that EVER happen?). Also there’s the rather tragic moment where they got for a lift and
Aljaz can’t get it up, so Abbey has to just delicately extract herself and pretend that it’s absolutely fine, it happens to all the pros, never mind, we can try again on tour, if you feel comfortable. It’s more noticeable for being directly before the one bit where Aljaz realises this should really be a showdance not just a bog-standard paso so he and Abbey sprint to a random podium and
just kind of thrash around a lot until the fire extinguishers not only hide Abbey, but everything.
In many ways it’s a relief.
She’s damned lucky that Artem Chigvintsev had a seizure in Series 8, otherwise that would easily be the worst showdance ever done by a winner. Easily. It feels kind of appropriate that afterwards we immediately cut to
Tony doing a quite literal “golf clap”. Once she’s over at Bruce, he asks her what time the train came in.
Oh is that what they were doing behind the smoke? Nobody tell JELUS JANET! Bruno starts for the judges and
quite liked it, and Craig follows by saying that whilst he can’t be as animated as Bruno (poor Craig’s hip) he thought it was full of drama, intent and purpose. Wow. Intent AND purpose. Rare you see those at the same time.
Darcey follows, and reveals a little bit of backstage Strictly magic as she does so, by saying that all the smoke meant she didn’t have a CLUE what was going on half the time, but fortunately there’s a
tv in the ceiling above the judges, so she could follow it on that. Whilst Julian was dancing she used to switch it over to Dad’s Army repeats on BBC 2. Bliss. From what she could tell, she loved Abbey’s power and drive. Len is last up, and says that he loved the mixture of ballroom and latin in there, but there were bits of that dance that were surplus to requirements.
Aljaz’s trousers for one. (Have we established what that tattoo on Aljaz’s arm is incidentally? Looks a bit like a grumpy bok choy). Anyway, the audience boo and Len actually snots “AM I BOVVERED?”. What a…Len.
Up to the Tessanine they magnum, where Tess grins that that was probably the most “rock n roll” routine they’ve ever seen on Strictly. Including the two ACTUAL Rock’N’Roll routines they had in Series 7 (neva 4get). Abbey says that she both loved it and also that it was amazing. Tess follows up by reminding her that, after a clear month of saying “I NEVER WANN IT TO END!” in every interview, it is, in fact, about to end. In fact that right there might have been her last dance. At this point, Abbey’s very own ORIGINAL super-fan and best friend, Rachel Riley off of Countdown, mouths
“NOOOOOOOOOOO!” in the background, looking a bit Mrs Danvers as she does so. Bless. Such pals. Abbey says that she is TRAUMATISED that it’s almost over, and soon she’s going to stop being surrounded by a big warm family of people who love Strictly and are so happy all the time. Behind her, Fiona gets Susanna in a headlock and Ola pushes Karen Hauer over the balcony, whilst Kristina chases Ben down the stairs yelling “WE CAN STILL WIN BEN! TAKE YOUR SHIRT OFF! I’VE DRAWN OUT OUR SHOWDANCE ON THE BACK OF THIS NAPKI…oh shit that’s my outfit for the closing routine…”. Scores are in
Natalie Gumede & Artem Chigvintsev dancing the tits’n’teeth stage school end-of-year production SHOWDANCE
This feels like as good a place as any :
In her VT, Natalie is wearing
a great big magnificent pair of furry boots, and can’t believe that she’s somehow made it into the final. Given that Natalie at the very least making the final was the most bolted on thing this series outside of Pasha continuing to be adorable, it’s hard to share her disbelief. Except…
Artem shares her disbelief, quietly, after which Natalie repeatedly punches him in the knee (hard) cackling about how excited she is to be able to dance HIS showdance. Yes, if I’d seen his last effort at one I would have disowned this one before it started as well. Artem then tells her that it’s going to be a medley of all the waft…I mean, best things she’s done. This, sadly, is a lie. I didn’t see her yell “YOU’RE A VEGETABLE!” once. This is followed by Natalie unironically wringing her hands together villainously, staring off into space and saying “SO IT’S GOING TO BE LIKE OUR GREATEST HITS THEN!”
when Natalie’s “hits” have for most of the series been the equivalent of listening to anything Madonna recorded after 2005. Did I mention that I love Natalie in this final? I so do. Her present for Artem.
That iconic onesie. It’s not so much the gift I appreciate as much as it is Natalie shrieking with laughter with her hands on her hips like the Jolly Green Giant on ketamine. Artem confirms that every time he sits in front of the fireplace wearing his onesie, he’ll think of Natalie. So that’ll be “never” then.
TO SYLVIA YOUNG!
So yes, if we’re ranking, this is my second-favourite showdance of the evening.It starts with Natalie
descending to the dancefloor on a giant glittery pole from the heavens in the MOST HIDEOUS DRESS EVER IN A SHOWDANCE, FACT
and from there it gets more overblown and frantic with every passing second. it features tap,
Also probably more foxtrot than her American Smooth had. It’s all very fun and upbeat, and I appreciate the chutzpah it takes to make your showdance basically a “CALL ME!” showreel for any West End producers watching (hey, it worked for Tom Chambers) and ALSO that Natalie is a total lift-dodger, but it’s a bit too frenetic and kitchen-sinky to be an absolute classic. She dances it all impeccably, but the “WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT????” aspect of it gets a bit wearing at time, making it all feel a bit disjointed. Also it bears repeating that she is wearing a jade trapeze artist’s dress with ELBOW-LENGTH GOLD LAME GLOVES AND AN AVOCADO CAPE.
I’m not a Fashion Gay but even I have my limits.
Once they’re over at the judges, three of them are giving her a standing ovation along with the audience. Bruce of course makes sure to point this out to Natalie about 5 times, until she’s clearly on the verge of saying “YES ALRIGHT BRUCE, I HAVE EYES!”. Our non-standing judge starts and just says
“WOW!”. He proclaims it to be “the Showdance to end all Showdances”. If only. Darcey is next, and just decides to gank Craig’s catchphrase of “FAB-YEW-LUSS” rather than trying to invent a new one of her own. Probably for the best. She then
laughs like a muppet Darcey Bussell would. She says that normally she doesn’t like it when people use a structure to enhance a dance effect (who does?) but she loved the pole-dancing, and thinks that was a really classy dance. Nice juxtaposition of images there.
Len follows, whooping it up about how that was an EYE-POPPING, JAW-DROPPING, SHOW-STOPPING SHOWDANCE and then launching into one of his classic Len speeches about how the British might well love an underdog but we all LOVE JUSTICE MORE and if Natalie isn’t in the final three after that, then there IS NO JUSTICE IN THE WORLD!
FLOURISH, FLOURISH, I REST MY CASE YOUR HONOUR!
OK, in watching 11 series of this show now, I know how Len operates well enough to know that he is very careful to always be right about things like this. Always. When he says someone’s going to be in next week or he’ll bare his bum in Tescos, he’s right. When he says someone’s in jeopardy (until he saves them via Swingamarig marking) he’s right. When he yelled on about justice for Ricky Nipple in Series 7, despite him having been in two dance-offs in a row, he was right, and it pushed him into the final past Ali Bastian. So something about the voting, I think, was enough for him to be confident about this. Between this and the repeated reversals of fortunes in the public vote this series (Abbey being 10th of 10 in Hallowe’en Week then winning the series, Sophie sailing into the final then finishing dead last, Natalie having beaten everyone in the top 6 (except maybe Susanna) at some point in the series despite being a DIRTY RINGAH) I’m starting to think that…gulp…this ACTUALLY might have been the closest series yet. Not just marketing guff. FOR REAL.
Anyway, sorry, I forgot Bruno’s contribution to panel
there we go. Thanks Bruno.
Up to the Tessanine they cackle, where Natalie sighs that she can die happy now. Iveta looks a bit like
she’s considering taking her up on that offer. Iveta can play abusive spouse no problem WHAM. LIFE THIEFED. Tess then asks Natalie how it would feel if that was her last dance with Artem, and Natalie replies that it was the best moment of her life (AGAIN) and she wouldn’t mind. Artem then
proposes? A marriage of dahnce? I don’t even know. I’d say these two went insane so quietly but…I think we all know she was pretty noisy about it. Scores are in
40. Len wonders where his 11 paddle is. As if Abbey’s routine hadn’t referenced Spinal Tap enough this evening.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor & Brendan Cole dancing the *shudder* DISCO LATIN SHOWDANCE
Bruce tells us that Sophie will be dancing to “I Want To Dance With Somebody” which apparently “sums up the spirit of Strictly”. Particularly the amended version with the lyrics “I Want To Dance With Somebody Who Loves Me For A Period Of A Year Until The Contract Runs Out And We Sell Out Break-Up Story To Heat Magazine”
In her VT, Sophie says that Brenda has asked her to bring some of her own ideas to the table for the choreography.
Oh Brenda. That has only ever been a good idea once, and it was called
THE DINOSAUR! Brenda interviews that the showdance is going to be a culmination of everything that Brenda and Sophie have done, and will be very special to them. And nobody else. Very quickly it’s time for Sophie to give Brenda his present and she tells us all that Brenda has brought out her love of dancing so she thought she’d help bring out Brenda’s love of singing. Oh hun, too late. Anyway, she’s bought him a
TO THE DISCO!
OK, so, I think we all know at this point that my love for Brenda knows few bounds. He’s one of the three pros I gave a 10 to in my last Pro Poll (speculate away at will as to who the other two were) and this series he’s been a joy both choreographically and in terms of his personality. That having been said :
10 Reasons Why This Was, Technically Speaking, Worse Than Snowdance
1. Snowdance was being performed out of competition, by a contestant who was doomed to finish 3rd (and not “doomed” like Denise and Natalie were, ACTUALLY doomed). This was being performed IN competition, by somebody who could have won.
2. It’s Sophie Ellis-Bextor doing Disco Latin. At least we didn’t KNOW from past evidence that Lisa Snowdon couldn’t do dramatic contemporary thrashing (although really, you could have guessed)
3. It’s Sophie Ellis-Bextor doing Disco Latin dressed as
the fringing from Erin Boag’s ill-fated Monster Munch tango dress from Ricky Groves’ tango, when Sophie Ellis-Bextor has looked divine all series.
4. It’s being danced to b-grade 80s Whitney Houston. The only acceptable 80s Whitney Houston tracks for a Showdance would be : “How Will I Know”, “So Emotional”, “One Moment In Time”. Imagine a showdance to “One Moment In Time”. Frankly, I am tearing up already. Regardless, “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do Anal)” is a CHOON, and this is not.
5. Sophie Ellis-Bextor doing this showdance means we never got to see her Charleston score the 40 it rightfully deserved. Snowdance meant we didn’t see 7 more VTs of Lisa and her entire family crying.
6. I liked Lisa Snowdon more than most people, but she was out of control by the end of that series and it felt like a bit of a comeuppance for her rampaging around complaining about how everyone else was overmarked but her. Sophie did NOTHING TO DESERVE THIS.
7. The singers got all the words of the Meatloaf song right, juss saying.
whilst impressive, does look a bit like a dramatic re-enactment of that episode of Only Fools And Horses with all the blow-up dolls being thrown around.
9. All of the other showdances tonight, as well as the best showdances of series past, felt like an extension of the celebrities personalities. If jigging around awkwardly to 80s pop music is Sophie’s personality, she’s kept it fairly well hidden. (Snowdance felt very Lisa Snowdon in that you could basically see her watching the Exhibition Dance/Showdance/Power-Lifting/Swimwear Round From A Provincial Beauty Pageant/DON’T COME FOR ME, I’M JUST A HUMBLE BLOGGER from the week before and think “I WANNA GO!”)
10. For all Snowdance’s faults it was at least hilarious and memorable and a beacon of Strictlyness we could all warm our hands around in years to come and reminisce and bond over. This was boring as hell.
Really it feels like Brenda sat and watched the tapes of the Series 6 final and realised he’d made a terrible mistake, and that in retrospect, there was another showdance performed that night that really brought the house down and which he should emulate if he ever hoped to win Strictly again. And then for some reason he decided that showdance was in fact Rachel Stevens’ one.
Once they’re over at the judges, and Janet Ellis has stopped screaming her head off, Darcey starts for the judges by saying that it must have been a dream come true for Sophie to achieve that pressage split lift. She could tell from the joy in her face as she spun around that she was really loving being in the Strictly final. So that’s nice. Len follows by saying that he loved the lifts and also the fact that Sophie was giving her all. Bruno
pulls a face and Craig doesn’t get to speak. Oh well.
Up to the Tessanine they whitney, where Tess has given up on questions and just asks Sophie to beg for votes with a speech. Sophie says that she really hopes that was a feelgood moment for everybody watching and the whole dance just felt like the sort of thing that happened at the end of a movie as the credits rolled.
Is her Charleston supposed to be the hilarious deleted scene played after half the audience have left the cinema? You can tell Brenda’s kind of thinking “NO! NO END CREDITS! SAY NATALIE’S A RINGER AND THAT SUSANNA’S USELESS AND THAT ABBEY IS FILTHY DIRTY RUMBAS PERSONIFIED AND THEN EVERYONE WILL GO YES YES SOPHIE IS RIGHT AND I WILL WIN!”. Scores are in
35 jeez. A Bruno 9 AND a Craig 8. In a final. It wasn’t THAT bad guys.
OH THE TENSION. Everyone back here after Christmas for That Paso, the greatest celebrity group-dance ever, and, most importantly TOUCHING THE DIVINE.