[*insert Year Of The Woman mention here*]
Best Judge: Nobody really had a great series did they? Let’s just say Bruno Tonioli, beause that’s where I naturally default
Worst Judge: The boys are right, which means, by process of elimination, that Darcey is not. I feel like it’s getting to the stage where we may well need to stage an intervention where we sit Darcey down, give her a stiff drink, and tell her that it’s ok to be critical sometimes, without prefacing it with “just one thing” and pretending it’s only a minor peccadillo in an otherwise PERFECT performance. At one point this series (I think it was Top 6) I sat down and worked out that Darcey had given more or less every contestant the same amount of points overall, effectively rendering her pointless as a judge. And if you’re going to be pointless as a judge, you could at least have the decency to turn up drunk.
Best Judging Moment: BRENDA ISN’T HERE TO GIVE YOU DIRTY FILTHY RUMBAS!
Runners-Up: Bruno telling Ashley that he was born to be on his hands and knees ; Fiona screeching at Len that she only made one mistake and Len then reeling off about 17 ; Len telling Fiona that “last week you got a snake” the episode after the Curse of Anton’s Boner ; Bruno calling Fiona “Princess Fiona” ; Bruno inventing a new Spice Girl called “Spicey Spice” ; Darcey stages an intervention with Natalie so she doesn’t break her back ; Craig’s Magical Glittery Post-Op Everything ; “Craskers With Maracas…2!” ; Ashley after about Week 8 ; when Patrick yelled at Craig to GET SOME PASSION IN HIS LIFE ; that time Ben mimed bumming Bruno over the judges table and nobody really knew what to do ; that time Natalie just ate bread throughout ; “WHAT JIVE, DAVE?” ; “BRUNO’S ON THE TURN DAHLING!” ; everyone takes the piss out of Anton for getting his paso doble wrong ; Len goes on a rant and Natalie just laughs in his face
Worst Judging Moment: Len calling about 50 different crap people “the spirit of the show” until it basically became the new “YOU’RE MY FAVOURITES!” except Len actually thinks that it reads as GENUINE, so think on that.
Runners-Up: Craig desperately finds a way to get “badinage” going with Vanessa, like somene desperately clutching for the soap in the bath ; “If not one muscle in their body isn’t sore then they’re not doing enough” ; “They’ve got to go out there and go for it” ; “you had a slinky lady effect” ; “the expertise of difficulty could not be better” ; more or less anything Darcey ever said, I’ll be honest ; any time Ben Cohen got a metaphorical blowie ; Julien screaming “I NEED TO BE STRAIGHT!” ; “ABBEY NEVER HAS DANCED BEFORE IN HER LIFE EVAH!” x 50 ; “CAHM ON CRAIG! IT’S LOVE WEEK!” ; Craig actually telling the audience off for applauding Mark’s cha cha ; Len yelling about only seeing the good in people then absolutely slating Mark about 5 minutes later for no real reason ; EVERYTHING IS A VERY HARD EVERYTHING FOR THE EVERYONE TO DO ; Any time Len said that he was GOING TO GET TOUGH FROM NOW ON and then didn’t ; Everyone calls Mark “Dave” by mistake
Best VT Storyline: Aliona spends the entire series in an LA mansion playing golf
Runners-Up: Susanna goes to Grimsby dressed like Zsa Zsa Gabor and visits the Clifton Dance Academy whilst Kevin noms a nana ; Ashley’s Having A BABY! ; Sophie’s Awkward Husband ; Sophie’s High Tea With Her Middle-Class Mum ; Sophie goes vintage shopping ; Sophie has a party ; Sophie records her boring new album with Brenda on tambourine ; Sophie tries to sprint 50m and wheezes like an asthmatic; Deborah locks herself in the spare room in her mansion to do research ; Deborah shows us all her holidays pics of Machu Pichu ; Rachel and Patrick both go TO DAH CLUB – people seem more interested in dancing with Rachel… ; Iveta Lukosiute – Drama Teacher ; Iveta Lukosiute – Etiquette Coach ; Iveta Lukosiute – Ghetto Princess ; Iveta Lukosiute – Lion Queen ; Iveta Lukosiute – Unexpectedly Vulnerable & Far From Home ; Aljaz goes to Liverpool ; the revelation that Patrick’s dad ran away to Jamaica ; Three generations of Fullertons grope Anton du Beke ; Mark’s son’s new suit ; Natalie’s Wide Variety Of Injury Porn (Bad Back/Hysterical Fainting/Hating Tories) ; Dave borrows Flavia’s Sex Swing ; Patrick’s 50th birthday (with crisps) ; Patricks kids turn up to tell him how old he is (pretty fecking old) ; Mark buys Iveta fish & chips – she does not eat any ; ANYA GARNIS IS JULIET CAPULET! ; Ashley’s son prefers Dave to be honest
Worst VT Storyline: Patrick gets crippled whilst roller-skating
Runners-Up: Natalie TAMES THE TERMINATOR! ; Ben practices wiggling his hips in the supermarket check-out queue ; Julien is too busy DOING FASHUN to bother rehearsing ; Patrick’s ever shrinking rehearsal-shorts ; VANESSA GONNA BE A GRANDMA! ; Vanessa TOUCHES THE DIVINE 10 weeks early ; Abbey’s NYERRRRRRRRRRRRVES! ; Karen says the names of foods as an hilarious teaching aid ; Aljaz & Peter Crouch are TOTES GAY for one another ; Julien’s bloody Handbag Rat/Dog ; NATALIE HAS FRIENDS! ; NATALIE LOVES KIDS! ; NATALIE DOES TRAPEZE (what bad back?); Vanessa spends an entire VT licking her boyfriend ; Julien McDonald’s GENERATION GAME ; Abbey squeals her way around an assault course ; Deborah & Robin DO THE BOARDROOM SHUFFLE ; Hallowe’en Week (except for Artem in the microwave) ; Aljaz nightmarishly tapes Abbey’s mouth open ; Fiona rides a mechanical bull ; Chris Hollins lurks around Susanna’s training room like her hobbit stalker ; Dave desperately pretends to be Scottish ; Anton takes Fiona up the Tower ; Ashley goes swimming with sharks (WHY?) ; Abbey does karaoke
The Cowboy Builder Special Award For Services To Lying Down On The Job:
Feud Of The Series : Ashley vs The Magic Carpet
Runners-Up: Fiona vs Susanna ; Len vs Artem ; Cliftons vs Jordanzzzzzz
Best Pro/Group Dance: Ballroom Blitz!
Runners-Up Aliona is Titanium ; the romance of Aliona and Dynamo ; Celebrity Finals Show Carnage!
Worst Pro/Group Dance: Geisha Dress-Up Time
Runners-Up: The Baking Themed Dance feat. Mary Berry as the stag-night stripper in the cake ; Bad Romance ; Kristina flails around in a champagne glass
Most Awful Honking Unpleasant “Classical Crossover Performance” : Il Divot
Runners-Up : The Tenners ; Alfie Boe ; Andrea Bocelli ; I feel like Matt Goss and Robbie Williams should both count as well somehow
Best Host : Claudia Winkleman
Worst Host : Natalie Lowe when she did that 5 minute long It Takes Two segment about dresses. You know I love you Natalie Lowe but you are NOT A TV HOST.
Most Homoerotic Tess & Claudia moment
Best Reason Vanessa Was Doing Strictly : Attention
Runners-Up Because she’s about to become a grandma ; to pay off her gambling debts ; to lose weight ; so she can keep up with her toy boy on the dancefloor ; to TRULY FEEL THE PURITY OF DAHNCE ; to get over her ex-husband ; a gypsy’s curse ; for all of the women over 50! ; because doing Let’s Drag Up For Comic Relief was such fun ; to land a lead role in the West End ; to match wits with Craig Revel-Horrid; a bet ; a dare ; a contractual obligation that came with getting her own Radio 2 show ; by mistake ; because she’s worth it ; to wear the pretty dresses ; to scare off tourists so she could claim the pirate’s treasure buried under the Strictly dancefloor and she would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you meddling kids!
King Of All Pros : Brenda Cole – his legend is now confirmed forever
Runners-Up: Kevin Clifton ; Artem Chigvintsev ; Aljaz Skorjanec
Queen Of All Pros : Iveta Lukosiute – never has a pro showed so many sides to themselves in their first (proper) series
Runners-Up : Anya Garnis, Kristina Rihanoff, Aliona Vilani
Worst Celebrity (Talent): Dave Myers
Runners-Up: Vanessa Feltz, Tony Jacklin, Julien Macdonald
Worst Celebrity (Personality) : Julien Macdonald unless he’s disqualified on the grounds that shouting is not a personality.
Runners-Up: Vanessa Feltz, Patrick Robinson, Abbey “ME NYERRRRRRRRRVES” Clancy
Best Celebrity (Talent): Natalie Gumede
Runners-Up: Abbey Clancy, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Ashley Taylor Dawson
Best Celebrity (Personality): Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Runners-Up:Mark Benton, Natalie Gumede, Ashley Taylor Dawson (once he hit the 35 Zone)
Monkseal’s Ten Least Favourite Dances Of The Series
10. Deborah Meaden’s Jive: Robin’s obsession with high camp reaches its grizzly peak, as Deborah tries to do the jive in a dress so restricting she can barely walk, just they can do the *iconic* Bucks Fizz skirt-rip.
9. Rachel Riley’s Paso Doble: Who could have thought the idea of Pasha in a cage could be so unenticing?
8. Vanessa Feltz’s Cha Cha: A dance so bad that it even made James Jordan admit he was wrong. Wrong to try to get people to laugh at Vanessa Feltz on purpose when it normally comes as naturally as breathing.
7. Ben Cohen’s Cha Cha: Kristina really did do a great job of hauling Ben up into semi-watchability by the end of the series, considering the fact that this teak mess was his starting point.
6. Dave Myers’ American Smooth: I feel like the “50s throwback ballroom” tag ended up ultimately attaching itself to Susanna and Kevin but lest we forget that this is where it all started, with Karen cooking up a greasy fry-up for her biker hubby, then letting him lift her like a mob victim rolled up in a carpet. It never really worked for either couple, let’s be honest.
5. Dave Myers’ Salsa : Probably the worst piece of dancing seen all series, leavened only by all that glorious fruit.
4. Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Jive : This series saw Brenda reach new heights, at least in terms of the praise he received from the judges, with Len more or less every week making sure to have it known that Brenda’s classy, classic, old-school choreography was showing Sophie off to her best potential. It also saw him choreograph this, where Sophie wiggled around dressed as lobster vampire and he frantically ran around acting to thin air.
3. Mark Benton’s Rumba : Mark didn’t want to do it. Iveta didn’t want to choreograph it. The judges didn’t want to mark it. None of us wanted to watch it. Thanks Producers!
2. Natalie Gumede’s Tango : The most disappointing tango since Jade Johnson’s wasn’t that much cop in the end. I’m sure that it was absolutely fine technically, but this is a list of my least favourite routines, not the worst, and I wanted to SMACK IT IN DA MOUF.
1. Fiona Fullerton’s Rumba : Four words : Anton’s Westlife Party Rumba. A legend is born.
(Honorary mentions to everything Julien did ; Ashley’s rumba which only didn’t make it because it became an hilarious plot point ; Tony’s Charleston which only didn’t make it because of Aliona’s face throughout ; and Susanna’s Argentine Tango which only didn’t make it because I forgot)
Monkseal’s Twenty Favourite Dances Of The Series
20. Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Foxtrot – Cheek To Cheek (Week 4)
If nothing else the Monkies voting convinced me that whilst both my readers and I love Sophie Ellis Bextor, we love her from very different angles, as this didn’t even make your shortlist. Sophie in full 1930s glamour mode in a beautiful dress fresh off the back of a vintage shopping spree. What’s not to love?
19. Mark Benton’s Salsa – Bom Bom (Week 2)
Mark Benton’s three comedy Party Latin dances (and yes, they’re all on here) represent the three discrete stages of his Strictly Journey. This one was part of that period when he and Iveta were establishing themselves as more than just the couple that nobody really cared about dashed through in 5 seconds at the end of the Launch Show, via sheer force of personality(/insanity). I very almost put Dave’s Cha Cha in this spot, as it was also hilarious but, let’s face it, IVETA DID IT BETTER. A glorious acid-washed Eurodisco romp.
18. Ben Cohen’s Salsa – Hard To Handle (Week 4)
Let’s face it, everybody ranks Ben Cohen dances based on how much they want to do him, based on the costume, and “greasy mechanic” just did it for me more than any other outfit. Also features Kristina hurling herself around more than any other female pro has done in any other latin routine in Strictly history, which warrants at least some praise.
17. Ashley Taylor Dawson’s Tango – Beautiful Monster (Week 6)
Another year, another decent zombie bloke tango.
16. Abbey Clancy’s Viennese Waltz – Delilah (Week 11)
It’s kind of sad for me that neither of this year’s GODDESS OF DAHNCE contenders really clicked until the very end in terms of their dancing, but Abbey definitely clicked hard for me in this Viennese Waltz, by which I mean she played a MASSIVE BITCH. It’s a shame she wasn’t called upon to act more often.
15. Natalie Gumede’s Rumba – Love The Way You Live (Week 3)
Portraying the DARK SIDE OF LOVE in Love Week, this is really the only Natalie routine in the whole first half of the series I really remember for reasons OTHER than Artem being dressed like a complete goober with “ting”ing teeth. Dark, dramatic, passion and the most exciting her hair got all series, as the picture above shows.
14. Susanna Reid’s Waltz – You Light Up My Life (Week 7)
PIVOT PIVOT PIVOT PIVOT PIVOT PIVOT PIVOT PIVOT PIVOT PIVOT!
13. Ashley Taylor Dawson’s Samba – Love Is In The Air (Week 3)
Could it be that Ola Jordan of all pros is the only one who really GOT Love Week? Yes it could. A gloriously overwhelmingly cheesy schmaltzfest featuring Ashley in a shirt slashed open to the waist and Ola descending onto the dancefloor in a giant love-heart (whilst looking like she was going to wet herself). In terms of thematic appropriateness nobody else even came close, possibly all series.
12. Mark Benton’s Samba – I Just Can’t Wait To Be King (Week 10)
This Comedy Latin represented the end of Mark’s journey. Outmatched, exhausted, in a dreadful costume, with a bizarre song choice and yet? Best thing on the show.
11. Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Quickstep – The Lady Is A Tramp (Week 8)
What was missing from a lot of Sophie’s performances, let’s be honest, was fun. A lot of the time, especially in the latin, ESPECIALLY in the cha cha, she looked like she’d really rather be anywhere else, and not in the “cool, reserved, aloof” way, but in the “5 seconds away from hyperventilating into a paper bag” way. This quickstep on the other hand was pure fun from start to finish, even if the fun was mostly derived from wondering just how much faster Sophie could run around without giving herself a stitch.
10. Susanna Reid’s Jive – Shake A Tail Feather (Week 1)
Every year needs someone to come out in Week 1 and blow everyone else away with their sheer energy, verve, and lust for life (/running round with your mouth open). Last year it was Lisa Riley, this year it was Susanna Reid, botched cartwheel and all.
9. Patrick Robinson’s Quickstep – The Man With The Hex (Week 6)
Patrick’s quickstep saw him come back from his unfortunate rollerskating accident stronger than ever, as Anya learnt the best way to get Patrick’s personality to come out in a dance was for her to start overdancing crazily and hoping he came up to meet her. And as stereotyped roles for black men go, “Villainous Voodoo Preacher” is at least a step up from the same old tired “NATURAL RHYTHM” stuff.
8. Natalie Gumede’s Salsa – Wanna Be Startin’ Something (Week 12)
“YOU’RE A VEGETABLE! YOU’RE A VEGETABLE!”
7. Natalie Gumede’s Argentine Tango – Monserrat (Week 12)
Natalie’s semi-finals breakthrough was a revelation wasn’t it?
6. Abbey Clancy’s American Smooth – Sweet Caroline (Week 12)
And Abbey Clancy’s sweetheart American Smooth made it pretty much the best semi-final of all time!
(Sorry this is starting to sound a bit like a Buzzfeed article isn’t it?)
5. Mark Benton’s Cha Cha – U Can’t Touch This (Week 4)
And this Comedy Party Latin represents the ZENITH of Mark Benton’s Strictly journey. If this isn’t the dance he does on tour (TWICE!) it will be the most bizarre decision made regarding that show since they made Chelsee Healey do her awful showdance again 9 times a week including matinées. Taking the hilarity of his salsa and then refining it down to its purest form, then adding a hip hop theme, then adding a ghetto-fabulous Iveta doing the “Here’s My Vagina” Leg-Lift IN SLOW MOTION. The greatest Comedy Latin moment since TIME WARP.
4. Patrick Robinson’s American Smooth – It Had To Be You (Week 7)
The week that Natalie fainted, it was left to the remaining contestants to seize the momentum and snatch this rare opportunity for somebody else to top the leaderboard (because let’s face it, based on training footage, Natalie’s jive would have slayed them all) and it was Susanna and Patrick who did the best job. Susanna’s pivots have already been covered but ultimately it was Patrick’s old-school American Smooth that spoke most to me, grabbing a 10 from Darcey despite the final slightly fluffy lift.
3. Susanna Reid’s Paso Doble – Los Toreadors (Week 8)
I spent the entirety of the first half of the series begging and pleading and praying to the gods(/Evil Moira Ross in a rainbow wig) for a decent traditional old school Strictly paso doble. And then I got it. With flamethrowers on.
2. Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Charleston – Rock It For Me (Week 2)
Sophie’s Charleston is now not just a legendary Strictly dance, but also a Strictly story in its own right, with Sophie cut off the very second before she was about to dance it again and score 39 (I’ve got a feeling Craig would have held off, call it a hunch), cementing its place in Strictly legend forever. People may before have talked of contestants being WUZZROBBED (never me, obviously, I am above such things) but Sophie’s Charleston is probably the very first case of a DANCE being WUZZROBBED.
1. Natalie Gumede’s American Smooth – And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going
Touching. The. Divine.
Your results? Appear tomorrow.