Fun Fact : Jennifer Gibney is from Ireland
Last Night : Jake Wood was Max Branning, Tim Wonnacott was Terry-Thomas, Judy Murray was Flora McDonald, Pixie Lott was Twiggy, Scott Mills was David Brent, and Caroline Flack was Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction WHY WON’T PASHA SMILE AT HER WHAT HAS SHE DONE ALL SHE WANTS IS TO LOVE HIM.
Tonight : Gregg Wallace is
Fantasy World Dizzy.
Iveta creeping up over Thom’s shoulder is my favourite part of the credits already. Please can we incorporate more of this into their choreography and less uplifting Westlifey pap?
We start with our first pro dance of the series proper, with Aliona centre stage
pondering how she’s going to get through partnering Gregg Wallace with her sanity intact. The answer?
CLONING! Now if you’ll excuse the real Aliona, she’s off to that floor she’s sublet in Tony Jacklin’s Florida mansion to catch up on her tanning. The clones here will carry out the rest of her contract. She’s not programmed in a personality beyond staring off into the distance and looking melancholy but let’s face it, she doubts they’ll need it and it worked well enough Mark Ramprakash. The whole dance is being done to Pompeii by Bastille and the constant refrain of “does it almost feel like you’ve been here before” isn’t doing anything to make the show seem fresher, let’s put it that way. On the whole it’s one of those sorts of routines that marked the dying days of Dancing On Ice in that the producers are expecting us to get really really impressed by video-wall technology in a world in which Pixar and IMAX and The Adventure Game exist, so it all ends up looking a bit like an
album cover circa 1983.
Then Aljaz falls from the sky and
disrespects Anton so Anton punches him into the stomach and he
turns into hearts which turn into butterflies. Can someone make sure that Anya hasn’t taken her demotion to the Choreography Team by hitting the bottle. And mixing it with prescription medication? Meanwhile somewhere on twitter
James Jordan is almost pining for Gary Busey. Almost. Sadly this all eventually settles into some standard
Pro Group Dancing. BOO! I wanted to see Tristan dodging CGI pixel fireballs being thrown by Bowser for the hand of Princess Joanne. All I have to sustain me at this point in the routine is Pasha’s paso cape-work and Joanne’s gurning, both of which are pretty meaty. It all ends with
Janette clutching the glitterball, which I would take at this point to be honest.
The band strikes up, and this time the presenters come in from the wings and Claudia is mercifully
back in black. See? They do listen sometimes. Instead of trying to dance both Tess and Claudia saunter across the stage and clatter into one another.
CLANG! It still lands more comfortably than the script they’ve been given which involves Claudia grimming out that THAT IS THE STANDARD YOU WILL BE EXPECTED TO ACHIEVE CELEBRITIES, LOL (Claudia fettered to an autocue is a sad sight) and Tess calling everyone LADIES AND GENTLEMEN and asking if they READY.
They are indeed ready. Claudia guffaws about how it’d be really awkward if they all shouted “no”. Well…only marginally more awkward than this already is, but ok. Speaking of awkward the judges all then whirl on again and it’s getting ever more noticable that Craig, Bruno and Len are all gyrating around wiggling their hips and pulling sex faces to the camera whilst the Prima Ballerina of the bunch is…just walking and swishing. This is why Alesha was better. She would have charged out doing the Single Ladies dance whilst swigging from a bottle of Lambrini.
The stars of our show called, the stars of our show emerge, and yet again when Claudia tells us that nobody is going home this weekend, the camera
cuts right to Aliona. This isn’t just me. They’re doing this. I’m just commenting.
Mark Wright & Karen Hauer dancing the cha cha
Tess opens for them by accidentally calling Mark “Marky No-Mates” instead of “Marky No-Moves”, which hamstrings a joke which is barely even a joke in the first place (the punchline being “HAS KAREN MADE HIM INTO MARKY SOME-MOVES??!?!?!”).
What a good job we chucked the old duffer because he couldn’t read the autocue eh?
VT Time and Tess reminds us that Mark is a TV Presenter and ESSEX LAD.
Mark tells us solemnly that he’s here to change the image of Essex Boys forever. He thinks that everyone believes that Essex Boys think they’re too cool to dance. I…don’t think that’s the image people have of Essex Boys Mark. In my experience Essex Boys are all too eager to dance, usually whilst yelling “WOOP WOOP!” and pretending every song is “Blurred Lines”.
Mark next grins
not-at-all smugly to camera about how loads of the other guys wanted to get Karen, but then Karen went into the offices of Evil Moira Ross In A Rainbow Wig and told her that “SHE’S NOT PARTNERING WITH GREGG WALLACE, ARE YOU KIDDING ME, BITCH, I’M A CLIFTON NOW AND WE RUN THIS SHOW, MY PARTNER’S AT LEAST HAVING HAIR!” so she wound up with him. Karen for her part says that she’s really happy to be dancing with Mark, because he’s “extremely nice”. Yeah I’m sure that’s what it is. (Good grief, that picture’s even more ridiculous than that one last year of Dawson Taylor-Ashley with his junk covered up with a blender, nice work Cosmo, I thought you were supposed to be *helping* women have orgasms?). Mark closes this segment with a poem :
It could go terribly wrong
Or terribly WRIGHT
All I need to do
Is hit my MARK on the night!
Move over Ovid.
Training now, and Karen tells Mark that they’ll be starting their Strictly run with the cha cha. Mark asks “aint that like a FAST one?”. No flies on this one. They begin rehearsing and I fondly think back to when Mark said that he liked Karen as a potential teacher because she’s so laid back
as she wields a 2 x 4 at him not 5 seconds in. Not liking bananas? THAT’S A PADDLING.
The general theme of this whole VT is the culture clash between Karen (who was raised in New York) and Mark (who was raised in a barn). This clash has arisen because their opening routine is themed around New York city life (why? who knows? could it ever hope to be as touching and emotional as HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NEWWWWWWWWWW YORRRRRRRRRRRRRK from Series 8 I think not Karen don’t even try).
Word life. Anyway, Mark tries to sound American and Karen tries to sound Brentwood and this all could be so easily resolved if someone just told Karen that Essex is the New Jersey of the UK but hey, we have to eke a VT out somehow.
TO THE SCAFFOLDING ON THE BUILDING SITE IN NEW YORK FOR SOME REASON!
GLITTERY GOLD SCAFFOLDING!
They’re dancing your cha-cha to “I’m Your Man” by Wham! solely because it contains the line “if you wanna do it, do it RIGHT/WRIGHT!”. I still have no idea on the whole New York thing. Actually as someone with pretty much no brief for anybody or anything from TOWIE (mostly because they seem like quite a dull lot of people) I find the whole thing quite appealing. It’s very obvious that he’s trying as hard as he can to do the steps properly and perform it and he has quite a winning
“PLEASE LIKE ME!” look on his face the whole time. What can I say? I’m a sucker for desperation. It reminds me of the sort of Week 1 cha-cha we got from guys like Gethin or Harry. Not quite there yet, but capable of growing. I even don’t mind the
bizarre donkey-kick, although I do very much draw the line at
Mark Wright’s Worm. Put it away love. Just because it’s more spectacular than Darren Gough’s flacid effort doesn’t mean I want to see it.
It gets a Standing Ovation and Mark huffs that he was really nervous and tells Tess that before he came out on stage he was panicking to Karen that he couldn’t do it. Tess completely ignores this and grips Mark’s shoulder and tells him that he’s now MARKY LOTS-OF-MOVES. You’d think the first thing they would have told her now that she’s the face of the show is that she really should listen to the words other human beings are saying and respond with different words to what they just said to imply empathy or at least LISTENING AND PROCESSING, but it’s still all very “either repeat back what was just said or resort to script”.
Len starts for the judges by saying that it started off very encouragingly but then Mark got over-excited and started going too quickly and Len took this to mean that he wanted to get it over with which hurt Len’s feelings and then he started doing a load of moves that made Len uncomfortable, especially the “Free Willy” and…is Len talking about the routine or a dream he had? I guess Mark is the (was a) SPORTSMAN (but got injured before becoming a professional) of the series and Len always likes them almost as much as the real thing. Anywho, this woman’s face as Len criticises Mark for doing a handstand
is a picture. Don’t mess with the ovary-voters Len. They will CUT YOU. Bruno follows by cackling that he thought Len liked a bit of willy (<3) and saying that he likes Mark’s chutzpah. I bet he does.
Craig is next and he says that he didn’t like Mark’s walks or his flat hands but he did like his caterpillar.
Darcey closes by saying that she loved what a showman Mark is, but he needs to watch his “cheeky shoulders” because they bounce up and down too much. Too many years in the clubs of Essex will do that to you. Some nights you look out and all you can see is shoulders bobbing up and down…
Up to Claud 9 they toe, and of course Claudia is much better at wheedling out human emotion than Tess, so she’s immediately onto the fact that he’s on the verge of tears, asking how he thinks that went, and is he emotional and what does he think his girlfriend thought and if she doesn’t quite get a visible tear to roll down his cheek
she gives it a good go. Scores are in
Alison Hammond and Aljaz Skorjanec dancing the cha cha
Can we all just take a moment to appreciate Alison’s hair here? Magic. Tess introduces the pair of them by saying that they have a really productive teacher-pupil relationship as Alison hangs on to Aljaz’s every word. And a few other things of Aljaz’s as well.
VT now, and Alison tells us that she is This Morning’s roving reporter who interviews celebrities and travels the world.
(Still not as wet as she was when she met Denzel Washington). My favourite Alison interview is when she got Beyonce to play Connect 4 with her because it is a hard job to break through Beyonce’s shellac’d exterior – not even Graham Norton managed it. She tells us that she’s so ready for Strictly and was born ready to dance. Please don’t encourage them to say you have Natural Rhythm Alison, my liver couldn’t take it.
Alison reminiscences about when Tess told her she had Aljaz and she immediately molested him, and then the man himself appears and says that he considers himself very lucky to be the reigning champion of Strictly Come Dancing. You and me both love.
Training now and Alison has turned up in her best
Lilt Lady chic. Aljaz tells her that the cha cha is about the “chickiness” between a man and a woman. I’m not personally seeing a lot of chickiness between Aljaz and Alison, just a lot of her
staring at him lovingly and “joking” that she wants to marry him and bear his children and wake up every morning AND JUST WATCH HIM WHILST HE’S SLEEPING HA HA HA CAN YOU IMAGINE HA HA HA? No “I’m just doing this to learn how to dance for my beloved husband” here. We’re also two weeks early for Movie Night, as Alison enthuses to us all that she’s going to be playing Whitney Houston, and Aljaz is going to be “the security guy who is hired to look after her”. I can’t think which Whitney Houston film that could possibly be? Waiting To Exhale? (I guess if Alison hugs Aljaz much harder…he will be)
TO THE GLITTERY CURTAINS!
The soundtrack song from “The Security Guy Who Was Hired To Look After Her” this is being danced to is “I’m Every Woman”. Although looking at Aljaz, you might as well call it
“The Hen Night Stripper”. “I’m Every Woman” is one of those diva standards that Whitney Houston latched onto because it allowed her to just lapse into making noises from about halfway through the song, and no disrespect to the Strictly Singers but they aren’t Whitney and they certainly aren’t Chaka so that bit’s going on mute.
Obviously Alison is going to invite comparisons to Lisa Riley (I mean…she has actually literally invited those comparisons herself) but beyond the obvious foregrounding of personality
I think they’re actually very different performers. Lisa’s Week 1 cha cha was a concentrated fireball of camp attitude and aggression directed right in Craig’s face, whereas Alison is a lot more measured and low-key sassy and maybe more easily digestible over a longer period of time by those allergic to jazz hands. And to be honest the dance looks more like a cha cha than most of the ones I saw over this weekend. Well…apart from the part where Alison’s arse is so huge it knocks Aljaz to the floor and then she pulls
this face but…well it made me laugh so who cares?
It gets a standing ovation, and even up on Claud 9 Brenda is doing some sort of weird fist pumping “YOU GO GIRL!” sort of thing. And given how assiduously he’s always avoided getting a partner above a size 12 that’s saying something. The man chose CAMILLA as his professional partner, who was a black hole of body fat through which no cholesterol passed. Bruno starts for the judges, and after a good 20 seconds of wiggling around yelling “VIVA LA DIVA” and grabbing his crotch he settles down to tell Alison that he loved her “wholesome radiance”. Way to make her sound like a granary sliced loaf Bruno. Craig follows by praising her confidence and “Instinctive Rhythm” (*half a drink*) although he does think she was a bit flat-footed, probably due to her lower heels. Given the twitter picture Alison was gleefully sharing of half the male cast of the show plus Hot Greg having to lace her into her footwear, I’m guessing she has…complexities down there. That will definitely not be explored via pictures, ever, don’t worry.
Darcey’s next and says that Alison is infectious and moving but, guess what,
THE BOYS ARE RIGHT. She needs to work on her footwork. I think “The Boys Are Right” might actually be the Bussell Family motto. Len closes by telling Alison that she is his type of girl – big, bold and bouncy. As you can tell from the magazines that he keeps under his desk. If you can prise the pages apart.
Up to Claud 9 they ascend, and I think it’s fair to say that Janette
is a bit more fond of Alison than she was Aljaz’s last partner. Claudia tells Alison that all she can hear in the corridors of the BBC is Alison’s laughter as she’s training with Aljaz. To be fair, it was the same in Alesha’s series but everyone just put the noise down to the drains being blocked. Alison pays tribute to what a great teacher Aljaz is and the crowd goes “awwwwwwwwwwwwww”. Between Mark’s almost-tears and this, the show’s getting a bit sappy for me. It’s only Week 1! Leave your endless feminine EMOTIONS til the end please. Scores are in
Steve Backshall & Ola Jordan dancing the tango
Tess introduces them with a joke about how Steve has come to face with some of the deadliest, most terrifying, repellent creatures on the planet, but now he’s about to have to deal with something more terrifying even than that
her inability to land a punchline.
In his VT, Steve brags that he’s been handling snakes since a very young age
whatever Steve, if that’s all you need to do to get on Strictly then sign me up for Series 13. YEAR OF THE MONKSEAL (going out in Week 5). He talks up how used he is to roughing it, having once spent an entire summer in the Arctic without changing his clothes once. WHAT? Not even to do a semi-nude photoshoot? What sort of kids tv presenter are you? Anyway, Steve is apparently very uncomfortable with being primped and preened for tv, but he’s getting used to it. Hun, the dancing is nothing, you wait for the comedy VTs. You’ll be BRURIED. We’re reminded that Steve is partnered with Ola, whose arrival is soundtracked rather hilariously with
“Timebomb”. Like the countdown is on before she “accidentally” gets pregnant and has to pull out leaving the show in the lurch oh what a pity never mind did she mention that Karen Hauer is a great big lezbo who has to wax her moustache every other day oops byeeeeeeeeee.
Steve confesses that Ola terrifies him
(now there’s a face that’s seen a few too many baking hot days in the Sahara) and Ola smiles that of course she does because she tells it like it is and is just being honest and is tough but fair and JORDANBRANDINGJORDANBRANDING GET THAT REALITY SHOW ON ITV2 GETITGETITGETIT.
Training now, and Steve says that he’s really chuffed that he got the tango for the first dance, because he thinks his personality really fits the idea of stalking across the floor like a big burly bruising hulk. Never has one man’s perspective of how traditionally macho he comes across been so at odds with reality. Don’t get me wrong, I love that Steve is a legit bad-ass who is built like Stallone but talks like Tyson, but COME ON. He goes on to say that he’s really enjoying learning to dance, but all the steps and moves and attitudes and poses are too much for him to take in in the time given, and inside he just feels like SCREAMING OUT sometimes. Hmmm. How can we best give Steve the time he needs to fulfil his potential?
Comedy VT? Just what I was thinking.
TO THE HIGHWAY!
I’ll be honest, I’m not much of one for muscles but if he stayed in that position for the entire dance it would have worked for me. Although when you pan back
it looks a bit like he’s about to hop off it and then maybe go play on the swings, or the climbing frame, and then have a juice before nappy time. As you can probably tell from the staging and the props and the fact that this is an OLA JORDAN TANGO this is a rock n roll tango, being done to “Born To Be Wild”, complete with actual
cartwheel over the bike that makes the whole thing look uncomfortably like an ACTUAL road traffic accident. Well, if Ola *will* hang around on motorway verges dressed like that…
The whole thing actually feels very Meatloaf’y. The leather, the purple lipstick, the
bruised overplayed masculinity. I have to admit that I’ve missed this sort of straightforward butch nonsense in the last two series, wherein the only decent bloke tangos were done by guys dressed as the festering dead. Also having sat through Andrew Castle’s headbanging and Sid Owen’s…wig, it’s nice to see Ola finally find a muse that she can really exploit this style with.
Even if I don’t have a clue what this is and never want to see it again.
There’s a weird paso bit that makes no sense and isn’t done particularly well, and at times he seems to be a bit ahead of the music but other than that?
It gets a Standing Ovation that stops the very SECOND Tess goes to point it out which results in a rather hilarious
“…oh shit” face. Bless her. Craig starts for the judges and sighs that Steve’s muscles *were* rather a distraction. I would imagine that was rather the point. He liked the cartwheel, although thinks it could have been better done, and found that Steve led with his elbow to the extent that he lost his frame on occasion, but other than that he thought it was a strong performance. Darcey follows by saying that she liked Steve’s focus and strength and thinks the dance really suited him. However she thinks his muscles are overdeveloped and that it’s going to hold him back. Such body-shaming! What’s he supposed to do Darcey, get the West Nile Virus to take some tone off them?
Len’s next and says that Steve exceeded his expectations, but got a bit too aggressive at times. Never mind Steve,
it looks like Bruno likes it a bit rough. In fact he describes Steve as being “Popeye Meets Marlon Brandon” which is something I’ve always aspired to personally and a sexual fantasy I never knew that Bruno had. Or wanted to know. It’s up there with “Montgomery Clift Does Dennis The Menace’s Dad”.
Up to Claud 9 they ride, where Claudia gushes that they must both be pleased with the judges comments. Steve grins that he’s very pleased with the constructive criticism and the fact that there was more good stuff than bad, but let’s face it, with Ola wearing this dress, nobody was going to be looking at his footwork
PHWOAR LADS, KNOW WHAT I MEAN YEAH, TITS AND STUFF. I mean…I think we’re all well used to looking at Ola in a state of the semi nudey nud by now Steve but ok. Claudia deadpans “we weren’t looking at your feet love”, which is why I adore her. Scores are in – 26
Jennifer Gibney & Tristan MacManus dancing the jive
Tess dubs these two “Team Ireland” and asks if Irish eyes will be smiling when they’re facing the judges. To be honest I’m surprised that whoever did the song choices and props for this week didn’t catch the hint with these two and have them both jiving as two leprechauns fighting over a POT O GOLD to something by The Pogues, all ending with Jennifer twatting Tristan over the head with a shillelagh for refusing her an abortion. GIRL POWER AND BEGORRAH!
VT now, and Claudia tells us that Jennifer is looking forward to her Strictly debut, although Jennifer herself seems to be less sure, saying she’s fall of nerves and terrified about falling over in front of the nation. Well it’s a good job they’re easing her in gently with the dance styles then…
Jennifer tells us that her character on Mrs Brown’s Boys isn’t known for her dancing as this picture
amply proves. Although I’m fairly sure everyone on Mrs Brown’s Boys gets exactly one and only one personality trait each anyway. She grins that she and Tristan are both Irish, so she hopes they’ll have the luck of the Irish. I hope to God the storylining for these two gets more interesting or I’m going to fall asleep. At least Judy had a cake. Tristan tells us that he’s really glad to have got Jennifer because she’s got a super personality, seems really determined
and she’s 30 years younger than anyone he was partnered with on Dancing With The Stars (barely an exaggeration). Jennifer closes by joking that they’re SO IRISH that she doesn’t think anyone at home will be able to understand them. SO VERY IRISH THEY BLEED GREEN.
In training (IN IRELAND), Jennifer’s catchphrase for the series appears to be “let’s do it again”. To be fair I can imagine that if I were locked in a room with Tristan or 6 hours a day that could easily become my catchphrase as well. As long as he wore long sleeves the whole time. Maybe arm-bands? Tristan seems pleased that Jennifer wants to do the steps over and over until she gets them right, although based on the actual routine they probably could have been there til February and she’d still be at “getting on and off the table”. For some guidance Jennifer and Tristan go to an
IRISH radio station to speak to fellow IRISHMAN and former Strictly also-ran
Nicky Byrne. He gives her some tips on dancing, she passes on some tips to him from her husband about how to make your penis less bloody visible the whole bloody time.
TO THE SOFA!
The details that go into the props on this show. There’s a strapline at the bottom about whether Thom Evans (I think) is going to be the new James Bond (lol ok he’s about as wooden as George Lazenby was I guess) and even a crossword on the back. All for the blessed thing to be hurled away as soon as the music starts (“Happy” by Pharrell Williams) and Tristan to start
bizarrely gyrating his crotch at Jennifer. She faints and then he catches her and then they jive. I swear, the storylines in porn make more sense and have more realistic motivation than they do in this show.
In terms of jive it’s a nice light routine and I’m impressed with how Jennifer doesn’t really seem to have given herself room to pause for breath. Although at times I wish she would. She’s a far more natural spinner and twirler than she is a kicker or a bouncer (by which I mean she daintily flicks her legs about very low down like she’s trying to remove an errant piece of loo-paper) and there’s one really horrid bit where she
gets up on the coffee table and does a bit of Riverdance (BECAUSE SHE IS IRISH) and part of me’s wishing that Alison had been introduced to the thing pre-dance to stop this occurring.
They maunder over to Tess and Jennifer says she’s just glad that she got to the end without falling over. I love that we’re 11 years in to this nonsense now and still the only person to properly rack themselves on this show is Ian Waite. Tess tells Darcey that that song was called HAPPY and asks if Darcey was HAPPY and Darcey says that she was…
HAPPILY EXHAUSTED that is. I’m not really sure that’s a thing Darce, but ok. She praises Jennifer for her energy and verve and zest for life and all that and please
God don’t let this show’s waxers get their hands on Tristan, I beg you. Len follows by saying that he spotted the Riverdance reference in the dance, but that was the problem – Jennifer was dancing as though she was in an actual river. The audience groan lightly at this laboured insult and Len then gets all huffy and
WHY ARE YOUSE PICKING ON ME, STOP IT, WHY ARE YOU BEING SO MEAN TO AN OLD MAN tip again. Do you think he misses Bruce? Maybe he feels isolated now that he knows that everyone around him grew up in houses with electricity?
Bruno follows, saying that he’s really impressed with Jennifer for managing to keep up with a very hard routine, but next time she should work on her energy, precision and presentation. Given that she’s going to be wearing a giant Guinness hat Bruno, I think that might be hard. Craig closes by harping on her free arm, calling her a hunchback and then snits about her little bit on the table saying “if you’re going to put yourself on a pedestal darling, you’d better do something spectacular”. He does realise the dances he does at the start of the show are on tape forever now? And his own putting himself up on the pedestal of “Sneery Judge In Chief” might be a little undermined by him starting each show gooning around like one of the Piggly-Wigglies?
Up to Claud 9 they jig, as the “Jen” chants start up. What’s interesting is, if you listen in closely, you can hear that it’s Claudia starting them. Jennifer is clearly out of breath bless her, so just about manages to wheeze out an “I loved every second” before it’s time for the scores to come in
Thom Evans & Iveta Lukosiute dancing the waltz
Pronounced by Tess as “Luckershutter”. She goes on to say that Thom is nervous about the waltz, but if there’s one thing you can rely on a rugby player to do, it’s “try, try, try again” (/lie flat on his back on the training floor not moving for half an hour/bin off training to stare at himself in the mirror/whatever Kenny Logan did because whatever it was certainly didn’t improve his dancing one bit).
VT Time now and if you needed reminding then this picture should tell you that
Thom Evans is a third-rate male model and amateur pornographer. He tells us that being an ex-SPORTSMAN he’s always going to be at least a little bit competitive, and that he has in the past rolled his top off(/trousers off/pants/off foreskin up for the American market) so he’s not daunted by getting Strictlified or wearing sequins or whatever. He also says that he was ecstatic to be partnered with Iveta. Thom’s affect throughout is so flat that I doubt he’ll ever actually look ecstatic, even when his current career trajectory reaches its natural end-point and he winds up spaffing all over some twink’s face on collegemedicals.com.
Iveta for her part was
VERY EXCITED BECAUSE SHE THINK ALL GIRLS PROS WANT TO DANCE WITH THOM. ALSO ROBIN SEEM VERY KEEN BUT IVETA PUT STOP TO THAT HEH HEH. We’re reminded of how Claudia immediately tried to play matchmaker between Iveta and Thom at the Launch Show, which gets ever more hilarious the more we discover that Thom and Iveta have the least sexual chemistry of two people ever, in the world, ever and yes I am including Gregg and Aliona in that equation. Thom lies that Iveta was blushing and seemed really embarrassed BUT YOU’LL HAVE TO ASK HER WHY and then we get this amazing shot of Iveta trying to look coquettish
/give herself a blonde moustache to disguise herself as Inspector Graves Of Scotland Yard. NO TROUBLE HERE MISTER, INSPECTOR IVE…GRAVES CHECK ON ROBERY OF RICH OLD LADY’S CREDITS CARDS AND PERSONAL DETAILS, LEAVE THIS TO PROFESSIONALS OLD SON.
Training begins with Iveta gushing that
SOCIAL MEDIA HAF BEEN GOING MAD FOR THOM, HOW HANDSOME HE IS!
Please, please, please can IVETA LUKOSIUTE SOCIAL MEDIA CORNER be a segment on It Takes Two this year? I really want her to tell me which pros have the best scores in Bejewelled Blitz and who take CUTEST SELFIE WITH MARVIN FROM THE JLS and who is BLOWING UP TRENDING TOPICS IN LEEDS and I want the set to look like Going Live circa 1992. She needs to be wearing a baseball cap and dungarees at the very least. And wearing roller-skates. Maybe a high-pony. She goes on to have the following amazing exchange with Thom :
Iveta : MY MOTHER TELL NEVER TO TRUST A GUY WITH BROWN EYES.
Thom : Why?
Iveta : I DON’T KNOW.
She is so going to carry this partnership I can just tell. Anyway, Iveta gets Thom to show her some of his “in the club” moves and they actually look quite good. Will Thom be the first SPORTSMAN on this show ever to be better at Latin than Ballroom? Watch this space. Further evidence on this score is Thom telling us that he doesn’t like the waltz because he likes to be looking at the person he’s dancing with(/staging an erotic poolside romp with). That Thom. Such a people person.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Oh Lord. So Iveta isn’t messing around, and has gone straight into “You Raise Me Up” for a Week 1 waltz. She’s not here to mess around this year, and I hope the results are GORY. Also, now that Bruce isn’t here to complain about the men’s styling 24/7 I would like to complain about the fact that Thom is in full tails, which I DON’T LIKE and also wearing a cummerbund up to just below his nipples
WHICH I ALSO DON’T LIKE (sail on Bruce, sail on).
As a routine it’s very schmaltzy and very chintzy and a little bit timid and awkward and clumsy. Basically if this were Downton Abbey this would be the Lady Edith of waltzes compared to Frankie’s Lady Mary (Judy’s being the Lady Sybil – fiercely socialist and died halfway through birth). Also I know Thom is awkward about not being able to look at Iveta but someone should have told him he’s allowed to look at SOMETHING. The Hallmark Channel soundtrack combined with his never-ever moving eyeballs make it look like he thinks he’s
telling the inspirational story of a blind person.
It doesn’t get a standing ovation, and in fact Thom and Iveta catch Tess on the hop, because she’s not even on her mark by the time they reach the judges, necessitating a quick sprint-ofrom the wings. And when TESS is uninterested in the hunky sportsman du jour, then you know things have gone a bit pear-shaped.
Len starts for the judges, telling Thom that it was all a bit careful and nervy, but he liked Thom’s frame. And how it’s hung. Hem. Bruno follows by saying that it was really sweet how Thom was treating Iveta with such tenderness and sweetness, like she was made of glass, but let’s face it, this is the Iveta who did this. She can take a bit of knocking about. MORE SEX PLEASE, HE’S BRUNO. Thom’s reaction to Bruno demanding more sex?
This face. COME ON KID, GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME. If you can’t respond to Bruno flirting with you, you might as well be bagged and tagged and sent to the morgue.
Craig goes on to say that he thinks Thom let Iveta down by overbalancing her at one point, had poor hand shaping, bad elbows and crap thumbs, and was trying to produce rise and fall through his knees rather than his feet. But other than that he loved it. Darcey closes by telling him to be less safe and to get his tits out.
Up to Claud 9 now, where Claudia asks Iveta if she feels like Thom let her down. She replies that no, of coure Thom would never let her down and he’s the best partner she could ever have etc etc. Sated for content, Claudia starts demanding that Thom and Iveta KISS. KISS RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE, IN FRONT OF GOD AND EVERYONE. Thom asks if they should maybe not rush into a showmance in Week 1 and Claudia yells ALRIGHT WEEK 4 THEN I’M GOING TO BE A BRIDESMAID!
I bet she turns up dressed just like that as well. Scores are in
23 (LOL one fewer than she got for her first dance with Mark Benton)
A quick recap later and
…I guess Iveta had to take that score out on somebody. Never mind Claudia. Time heals all wounds. This also serves as an introduction to
Sunetra Sarker & Brendan Cole dancing the tango
This is because Sunetra pretends to be a doctor on tv. By the same token Tess asks Claudia if she’s going to wear a chef’s hat to introduce Gregg, as he pretends to be a chef on tv. Claudia says no, that would be going too far, like Claudia even knows where “too far” is at this point as she
leans in for a snog for no reason. So it’s 51 minutes in that Claudia loses touch with reality. Get your stopwatches ready for next week…
VT time, and Tess tells us that Sunetra is most at home in the emergency department. Is she a bit of a weekend drinker? The VT evidence would seem to support this, as she takes a
whacking great stumble forwards during her walk to camera. Good luck Brenda! She grins amiably that the show better have some doctors on hand for her first dance because she’s bound to seriously injure herself. Don’t worry about it Sunetra, Brenda’s learnt by now always to have medics on hand for his partners. Normally seconded from the psych ward. She goes on to say that she never expected Brendan to be her partner, because he’s a Strictly legend and also she’s really short. (Is it sad that I’m more surprised that they partnered Brendan with one of the least famous members of the cast than that someone’s been put in a total height mismatch? Sad in the sense that I would think I had that level of casting knowledge about this show I mean?) Brendan for his part
really really really tries to sell thinking this is the right partnership for him. I mean…I love Brendan and all (he was one of my three Pro Poll 10s, believe) but I partly love Brendan *because* if Frankie suddenly developed an allergy to Grimsby and she had to be partner-swapped, he would leave Sunetra staring at a cloud of Brendan-shaped dust SO FAST…
Training now, and Brendan isn’t going in easy as constant shots of them
clinging together like two shop mannequins the visual merchandisers have hilariously arranged to look like they’re bonking prove. Oh and also of
Sunetra falling flat on her arse
and staying there. The real problem is the PIVOTS that Brendan has choreographed in, which apparently are completely throwing off Sunetra’s balance. She asks him what will happen if at the end of training she hasn’t learnt how to do them, and Brendan tells her that he’ll just give them back to Ola – she got a job lot of them cheap 8 years ago and has been burning them off ever since. Sunetra grumps that she doesn’t WANT Brendan to have to make the routine simpler for her, so she’s going to work extra hard to get the pivots rights. This is of course a sharp contrast to everyone’s favourite Pendledrama, who was apt to scream “TAKE THIS MOVE OUT BRENDAN, I CAN ‘T DO IT, TAKE IT OUT! AND WHERE’S MY PUPPY?”.
operating theatre and honestly I could deal with this if they were doing a tango to the Casualty theme tune, just about, but of course it’s a Brendan 1980s Special so they’re dancing to “Doctor Doctor Give Me The News” by ROBERT PALMER so I can’t. This is too much silliness and I’ve been taken out of the routine. I really want to like Sunetra, because as she’s a woman of colour from Casualty/Holby City I will be literally the only person who will remember she was even here after her Wk 4 boot but this is too silly, even for me.
She gives good bitch-face and it’s all very dramatic and flourishy but I’m distracted by the fact that her
left elbow is pointed skywards the whole time. The over-theming ultimately results in Brendan having to choreograph
I think the worst Strictly end-pose of all time. That’s so bad Tyra wouldn’t even do it as a photoshoot on America’s Next Top Model. And one of the photoshoots on that was to pose in a giant bowl of Greek salad.
It all gets a fairly muted response and Bruno starts for the judges by crowing that he bets that you DON’T GET THAT ON THE NHS EVERY DAY. No, not since Jeremy Hunt farmed out erotic dancing provision to a PFI.
He liked her bent back, but he thinks she let her “assets” get out of control and it made her wobbly.
You have to feel a bit sorry for a woman who has trouble handling tits if she’s partnered with Brendan Cole.
Craig follows praising her for her SENSE OF RHYTHM (*half a drink*) and acting ability but saying that he thought her frame was woeful. Darcey follows by saying that she agrees with Craig, and Len closes by saying that there was more right with that whole routine than wrong with it. Given Len’s stubborn refusal to go below half marks except if a contestant actually defecates on the floor (and not even then in a Charleston because it’s just that sort of dance so far as Len’s concerned) this doesn’t mean an awful lot. He does confirm that I was right about her left elbow though YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! I HAVE LEARNT.
Up to Claud 9 they bobble, where she gets an immediate YOUR ICKLE FACE from Claudia, and sighs that that was just like stepping up to take a penalty for England. Brendan’s “oh so that means we’re about to eliminated then” reaction and the
“EXCUSE ME I’M GOING TO STRUGGLE ENOUGH FOR THE PUBLIC VOTE AS IT IS THANKS” face are both equally excellent. Actually that’s a pretty great set of reaction all round isn’t it? Bonus Points to Jennifer roaring her head off at the back. Claudia asks Sunetra if dancing with Brendan is like dancing with a Jedi Master and Sunetra replies that she think she’s finally the one to tame him. Oh Sunetra. They say that every series. It’s rarely true. Scores are in
Gregg Wallace & Aliona Vilani dancing the cha cha
Tess introduces this couple by first saying that Gregg is a top chef. Well at least she made me laugh once this episode.
I mean…Gregg’s VT even begins with him saying that he’s not a chef – he’s a greengrocer(/”ingredients expert”). And given that Gregg’s been bigging up how surprised we’re all going to be by how good his dancing is, he doesn’t seem much to be given to false modesty. He tells us that he will be juggling his Strictly commitments with having to film the new series of Masterchef. Please, please let him last long enough that Aliona gets to go on a set visit and pig herself senseless on fine dining and champagne and then not turn up for training ever again.
Speaking of the lady :
“Gregg likes to tell jokes all the time”
“All The Time”
I don’t think an intro VT has ever summed up a partnership more. (Gregg actually tells a few jokes, but they just make me miss Bruce even more, so I won’t…)
“HEY HEY, ALIONA, WHAT’S THIS?”
“A PEA ON A FORK!”
Oh Gregg. She’ll have your P on a fork fairly soon if you don’t knock it off. Indeed, given that Aliona spent all of last year sunning herself on Florida golf courses thanks to her cast-iron contract to come back at short notice, she has heard quite enough of this sort of humour, and tells Gregg to knock it off and do the dance. Because that’ll be funnier than any jokes he could possibly tell. Gregg then asks her if he can film her feet so he can watch the tape at home.
In fairness, Gregg does film himself training as well and sends it to Aliona, for fairness sake.
I can’t think of anything that probably went in the bin faster since the last time I got a UKIP letter through my front door.
TO THE RESTAURANT!
The idea of this routine is that Aliona is a rich glamorous successful beautiful woman with a fierce hat and lots of shopping from designer stores which she’s made the BBC buy her for partnering Gregg Wallace, and Gregg Wallace is Gregg Wallace who has to do dad dancing for 90 seconds and like it, as she
flitters around him more or less laughing in his face about how bad he is and sneering how she deserves much better. She actually choreographs in a bit where he goes to take her hand and she waves him away to the other side of the floor. I mean, it’s all being danced to “Hot And Cold” by Katy Perry, so you could all say that it’s part of some sort of business about how Aliona is seducing Gregg by playing hard to get but I’m fairly sure all he’s leaving with is the bill.
(I could talk about how absolutely awful Gregg’s dancing is but…look at Aliona’s face. That’s how bad)
As they walk over to Tess we pan up to Claud 9 and
I’ve never seen Anton more amused by something not choreographed by Anton. I think his dentures might be about to fall out. Craig starts for the judges by saying that never mind “Hot And Cold” that dance was sub-zero. He tells Gregg that he’s not going to be MEAN about him, like Gregg was mean about his pink peppercorns on Celebrity Masterchef (too much information), he’s just going to be honest – Gregg looked like a wind up toy with a camp broken wrist and mincy walks that had somehow contrived to get samba bounce into a cha cha. Aliona’s all
“FINALLY! SOMEONE WHO APPRECIATES MY GENIUS!”. Darcey’s next and she just collapses into a fit of giggles about how she found the whole thing weirdly entertaining.
I’ll have what she’s having.
Len follows by saying that it was all a bit dainty and over-rehearsed and lacking in flair for him. If you say so Len. Bruno then closes by calling the routine a
“mince pie with a soggy bottom” (*snort*). He can’t wait to see Gregg’s next dish as he’s sure it’ll be just as interesting.
Oh, Aliona will make sure of that.
Up to Claud 9 they roly-poly where the “Gregg” chant is already in full throat. He starts giggling away happily about how he really enjoyed the routine and thinks it was really great and Aliona looks at Claudia as if to say
“how do I break him Claudia? You’ve destroyed men before, I can tell. How is it done?”. Scores are in
18. (I’m not one to complain overmuch about overmarking any more but how that got exactly the same marks as Jennifer at the very least is a mystery to me)
Claudia gets a trifle out. Gregg sticks his face in it.
Frankie Bridge & Kevin Clifton dancing the waltz
If The Saturdays were hoping to improve ticket sales for their Greatest Hits tour
they should probably avoid pictures like this being in the public domain. Now if it was CLAUDIA in Frankie’s place, I’d be all over it. Imagine her belting out “Ego”. Magic.
VT time and
bless Frankie, I know she’s not got *that* much more personality than Pixie or Thom but this face looks a bit like one of those adverts you see between spurts of Countdown that ask if you want to adopt a puppy/child/abandoned helper monkey called Tito. I can’t help but warm to her.
Frankie tells us that she’s used to being nervous, but normally she’s got four other people to hide behind (/have do all the singing as she struts around being a clothes horse). Don’t worry Frankie, Kevin does enough dancing for 7. It’s be like being back in S Club Jrs! My nascent crush on Frankie is only furthered with this shot of her looking in the mirror going
“OOOOH, I’M WEARING A DRESS!”.
Training now and Frankie and Kevin meet with a
not unawkward hug, and Kevin tells her that this week they’ll be doing the waltz. Sadly for their training, Frankie is on the verge of
falling asleep the whole time. She explains that this is because she’s so busy being on tour with The Saturdays. Yeah, I’d stuggle to stay awake if I had to perform “Issues” it has to be said. Kevin’s all “SATURDAYS TOUR? SIGN ME UP!”.
He wanders around backstage merrily until
NO KEVIN DON’T, SHE ALMOST KILLED IAN DURING THE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL AND HE’S TWICE YOUR SIZE, STAY AWAY. After he’s met Frankie’s bandmates Scary Saturday, Sporty Saturday, Podiatrist Saturday and Farty Saturday the show starts and Frankie gives Kevin a shout-out from stage mid-routine. Kevin beams that if Frankie brings that to Strictly, they’ll make the final! Presumably he means her energy not…a Saturdays dance routine. No offence Farty.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Oh no, it’s about to rain! But it’s alright
KEVIN’S GOT AN UMBRELLA! And it matches Frankie’s dress, which is very important style-wise, this season I hear. They’re waltzing quite balletically to a version of “Someone Like You” that has been crowbarred into waltz time HARD and on which the singer is schlurring all her esshess so it really does sound like end of the night drunken karaoke. It’s very nice and sweeping and the umbrella creates some lovely images
but I do get the feeling that if I looked on Youtube I could probably find the Saturdays doing a very similar routine with umbrellas if you know what I mean? Although kudos to her for managing a patented Natalie Lowe Exorcist Head Roll
in her first routine. I don’t think she quite gets her bonse to swivel the full 360 degrees, but she gives it a good old go. There’s no noticeable mistakes, although she does feel a little dainty and fragile. I refuse to be caught off guard like I was last series, when a Nice Week 1 Waltz was enough to win the whole show but…I think it’s good but not quite that good.
It gets a standing ovation and if you want an update on the reaction of The Saturdays – Rochelle was amazed, Una was all “I know rite?”, Vanessa joined in because everyone else was, and Molly didn’t give a fuck.
Darcey starts for the judges, saying that that routine was a major hit, and she got a beautiful feeling the whole way through the dance. Although that may just have been the aftershocks of her Greggasm. She does think Frankie was getting a “little too comfortable” in hold. Whatever that means – it sounds like something Daily Mail would print over a shot of Karen Hauer looking a bit pissy. Len follows snarking “I’m surprised you could dance so well in this weather” to which Tess guffaws “WHAT? THE RAIN?!”. How Len refrains from replying with “no, the force 10 gale whistling through your ears, madam” I don’t know. Anyway he *actually* says that that was easily the best dance of the weekend.
Seriously, for only £10 a month, you could adopt a Saturday.
Bruno also is particularly pleased with how Frankie gave meaning to every gesture of the routine. He says that he loves it when people give him the full extension. MMM HMMM. Craig closes by saying that he didn’t like how up-on-her-toes she was but he loved her arms, as well as her grace and elegance.
Up to Claud 9 she twirls, where Claudia asks her if she enjoyed herself and Frankie giggles that she thinks she did…but she’s not sure.
Kevin’s obviously heard that from girls before. Kevin then puts in a quick plug for the Saturdays Greatest Hits album (is that allowed?) before Frankie says that she was really hoping that her bandmates would hop up and join her during the routine. They actually probably could now that Bruce has gone and taken his broom for chasing off pop band members with him. Scores are in
Simon Webbe & Kristina Rihanoff dancing the jive
Tess says that when Simon found out that he was partnered with Kristina he was ecstatic but now Tess wonders if the weeks of hard training have left him feeling…a little Blue.
Because he was in the band Blue. That’s the joke. Sigh.
In his VT, Claudia wonders aloud what the other boys in Blue might think of his Strictly makeover. Given that last time he was here he was dressed as
Frosty The Christmas Pimp, I’m sure whatever joys they come up with this time will barely register. Simon tells us that he’s been going to the gym to train for Strictly – mostly boxing to help with his footwork. Yes, because when I think of the most ginger movers on Strictly…I think boxers. Anyway, all that gym work has left Simon confident that he will have no problems lifting Kristina.
I don’t think you need muscles for that Simon. Kristina is a woman for whom the laws of gravity don’t apply. As long as she’s got a run-up and a head to wrap her legs around, she’s up up and away.
Training now and Kristina tells Simon that they’re going to be starting with the jive – the fastest of all the Latin dances. Simon struggles a little bit, but then about 10 seconds later Kristina’s telling him that she has so much faith in him that she’s going to let him have a solo and he’s going to choreograph it himself. I mean…I’m not sure it’s a great idea to present a partner who’s already coming across as “competitive and cocky” as able to choreograph his own jive routines week 1, journey wise, but…I’m not the pro. Although based on the moves he’s planning on putting in
I’m not sure Pasha’s got anything to worry about.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
So we’re closing on a pop-star jive again, and I think it’s safe to say that this one had a little more impact than Pixie managed yesterday. Even if Simon’s piano playing is amongst the least convincing I’ve ever seen. Put it this way – I’d sooner believe that Kristina was
playing it with her foot than he was with his fingers. They’re jiving to “Good Golly Miss Molly” and it’s a very fast frenetic routine (once Simon has stopped tinkling the ivories on Kristina’s tittage, presumably a tribute to the Karen Hardy school of “Body As Musical Instrument” choreography). I’d try and pick out which bit of the choreography was Simon’s but there are a couple of bits that to be honest look like he’s making them up on the spot so maybe he’s gone rogue. This is what happens when you give the celebs freedom Kristina. They go MAD WITH POWER. His kicks and flicks are nice
and there are a lot of them, so it’s a good job. I also enjoy this move
quite a lot, because it genuinely confuses me. All in all a job well done, and the best jive of the weekend I think.
It gets a standing ovation and if you want a Blue In The Audience update, Anthony is excited for Simon, Lee’s eyeing up a promo girl and Duncan
appears to have got some odd plastic surgery. Len starts for the judges, saying that he liked Simon’s ease and casual nature, after which Bruno follows by telling Simon that he liked his springy bounce. It reminded him of a little frisky rabbit. Simon’s all “hurr hurr depends where I am” and then winks right at Bruno. See Thom? That’s how you do it. Watch and learn.
Craig follows by telling Simon that it was a little flat-footed and he needed some more retraction on his kicks, but all in all he did a really fantastic job, and Darcey closes by saying that she loved the choreography but Simon needed to keep it crisp right til the very end. Simon protests that he was getting TIRED AND IT WAS HARD. Poor baby.
Up to Claud 9 they bowl where Claudia marvels that Simon has progressed from a simple shoulder move to THAT JIVE in three weeks. Simon then floops into a small pit of roiling modesty as he says he’s really disappointed in himself because he knows he could have done that so much better and everyone else is so great and performed so well that he feels inadequate and there’s a really good shot here of Joanne going
“mmmmmmmmmm hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm”. She knows what’s up. Scores are in
See you next week!