MOR Week really is the deathliest of all Theme Weeks isn’t it?
Last week : Frankie defied gravity, Caroline’s samba made us all freak, Pixie produced a high voltage tango, Jake’s face was smeared with ram jam (by the looks of it), Sunetra’s love of latin was further tainted, Steve couldn’t quite move dem bones, and the heights of Alison’s public support wuthered whilst Simon no longer found himself to be box office poison. Also some other couples danced to song titles I couldn’t riff off and Scott Mills finally went home.
This week :
Oh lord, the Great 10 Explosion is about to begin isn’t it? And it’s Blackpool next week as well. Brace yourself.
(lol at Trent and Pixie having a full-blown True Blood Series 2/The Secret History Bacchanalian orgy over their 10 paddle though)
Remember the horror of Simon’s cone-hair? Now it’s gone, truly he is Samson in reverse.
The band strikes up and, unfortunately Claudia is still unable to be with us, as she is still at her sick daughter’s bedside (because there are so many tabloid reporters massed up around her bloody house she can’t even get the doors open). Tess informs us of the situation, thanks Zoe for stepping into the breach
and stares down the camera as if to say “don’t even think about it Evil Moira Ross In A Rainbow Wig, if you axe me I’ll make James “they tried to make one of the pros dye their hair once it’s like Nazi Germany or something” Jordan look like the small fry he is. I know what you made Jared Murillo do to get the job, he still can’t sit down”. Zoe reminds us that last week Scott left the competition and tries to make everyone go “awwwwwwwwwwww” right as the camera cuts to
some people who have probably in their lives seen far more to commiserate over than a crap dancer getting cut from a reality tv game show after almost two months of crap dancing.
Tess next reminds us that next week is BLACKPOOL WEEK. It comes to something that I have heard far more “PLEASE LET ME GET TO…” mugging about Comedy Dress Up Spooky Week this series than about getting to dance at the HOME OF BALLROOM DANCING. Determining who gets to Blackpool to dance and who ends up there to open a new branch of Netto are
of course, these four. Like Charlie’s Angels being photobombed by a tramp. All the celebrities parade down the stairs and Zoe jokes that the tension in the run up to Blackpool is getting too much for her as she yells “HOLD ME TESS, HOLD ME!”
Tess does not, in fact, hold her. Remember how long it took her to let Claudia touch her? How she used to greet every attempt to start “KEEP DANCING!” from her with a look that basically said “err, back off ya lezz!”? Yeah, I’m thinking the Zoe-Tess relationship may take a…similar time to grow.
Simon Webbe & Kristina Rihanoff dancing the quickstep
Tess tells us that for this dance Simon will be playing the role of an actor at a film première. She gushes that he’s got the movie star good looks and the beautiful leading lady. Maybe…not the legions of screaming fans though.
In his VT, Simon tells us that he’d gone into Hallowe’en Week confident that he knew his routine inside-out and back-to-front but on the night something went wrong. Kristina explains that they missed one another’s hands for a trick and from there it got lost, although of course we have to be reminded that Darcey put the mistake down to Simon being ENRAPTURED BY KRISTINA’S RAVISHING BEAUTY because lord knows Darcey’s views on gender relations in dance all stem from 1957.
Training now, and the music instantly cues up with “Mama” by The Spice Girls which…unless we’ve all been very wrong with our speculations as to which female pro was most likely to get up the duff this series,
means that we’re in for a family visit.
Yup, here’s Simon’s mum. It says something for Simon’s gene-pool that you could line up his mother, him, and his daughter, and could conceivably pass them off as one set of siblings. She tells Simon to do his best, believe in himself, and not listen to anything the judges say. Simon tells her to FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STAY AWAY FROM THE STUDIO, IT’S CURSED AGAINST MUMS THIS YEAR. Kristina interviews that Simon’s mother is very wise and looks at her
like this, like some sort of ancient cult adherent. I love that Kristina is treating “always think you’re amazing and don’t listen to the judges because they’re full of crap” as thought it’s Ancient Chinese Wisdom, because I’ve got a feeling Kristina has very much lived her Strictly Life to the drumbeat of that philosophy for a while now. The VT closes with Simon’s mum saying it really makes her happy to see Simon having fun on the telly given what could have happened with his life coming from Moss Side and…I mean, not to harp on Claudia but…that’s kind of where he comes from. In answer to that question.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Jesus, who parked that? A few inches further forward and it’d be like the end of the Italian Job. Simon and Kristina are dancing their quickstep to “I Got Rhythm” and make beautiful work of the stairs at the start, lightly sweeping down to the dancefloor as the music gathers pace and then
leaping off as the trumpets really kick in. I do like good use of the stairs in ballroom – see also Patrick’s American Smooth last year. Anyway, there’s something about Simon’s slightly flaily unfinished style that really suits the quickstep. Let’s face it, unless you’re an Anton/Erin devotee you’re not here for a quickstep that looks a bit like a slightly faster foxtrot with a couple of hops in it. You want
pizznache and showbiz and jazz and excitement. It’s a little sloppy around the edges and manic and they miss the right place to take one another’s hands again at one point, but I always say the best way to come back from the death sentence of multiple Bottom 2s is to just have fun with what little time you have left, and Simon certainly finally seems to be doing that.
It gets a Standing Ovation, which of course dies as soon as Tess mentions it.
Apart from Wayne Bridge, who remains standing. Always nice to see friends and family being supportive of the other couples Janet Ellis. Tess introduces the band, and then moves to Len, asking him “could we ask for anything more…than that?”. Len looks at his notepad, and frantically scribbles out “SIMON, WE COULDN’T ASK FOR ANYTHING MORE?” and sidetracks to “quickstep isn’t simple…SIMON!” and does some basic colour work about how Simon is a BOY IN BLUE on the RED CARPET who is going to the GOLDEN TOWER next week. He closes by saying that the other judges will probably talk about the technical faults (lol ok) so if we don’t mind he’s just going to
shout incoherent bollocks for the rest of his judging. Bruno follows by praising Simon for giving him plenty of razzle-dazzle tonight.
Which, after he’s taken his personal cut, Bruno will be selling on a street-corner for a 25% mark-up.
Craig follows by saying that he thought that Simon’s posture and head-placement could have been improved
(old Kristina is so close to coming back, I CAN FEEL IT) but he has definitely improved and Craig now really thinks that Simon is a contender to win the whole show. Well I guess after last year’s winner took the trophy despite a full leaderboard plunge having a winner who has been in two dance-offs is the next taboo to break. Darcey closes by saying that she loved what Kristina did with her entrance (…) and how the choreography and dancing really captured a jazz feel.
Up to the Ball Pit (I love how we’ve come full circle with the names there) they skitter, where Tess immediately congratulates them on Craig having anointed them as real contenders to win. Simon says that really is all he wanted to hear. My he…is competitive isn’t he? Zoe then reminds us all that there are ONLY FOUR MALE CELEBRITIES LEFT. You might want to get used to this general tone of “woe is men”. It’s not going to stop. Zoe then asks if all the men might maybe have formed a fourway (sweaty, shirtless) bromance backstage and Simon says that everyone, male and female is like a big family backstage.
He then rather treads on this nice gesture by
lecturing us all to remember that it’s Remembrance Sunday. Save it for when Rememberance Sunday actually starts Simon – on the Results Show in 90 minutes time. There then follows some brief Blackpool Begging culminating in Kristina stamping “HE’S NORTHERN, VOTE HIM IN”. Scores are in
33. Zoe smiles that those are the first 9s Simon has ever got. A Christmas 9 being much the same as a Donny 10 I’m guessing.
Caroline Flack & Pasha Kovalev dancing the waltz :
Tess tells us all that Caroline is a self-confessed (“professed” Tess, confession implies guilt) tom boy but she’s going to have to be extra-super special girly for her waltz tonight. I’m guessing Breaking Gender Stereotypes Theme Week isn’t until Week 10. Can’t wait for Judy as Calamity Jane rumba’ing out her secret love.
In her VT, Caroline says that her Hallowe’en samba had been great fun, but she almost found it hard to look at Pasha’s face in that wig. That’s why she spent the whole time staring right at his crotch. The wig thing. Totally off-putting. She goes on to say that it was the first dance she’d done on the show in which she didn’t make a mistake, so OF COURSE Craig pulled her up on it being “too perfect and over-rehearsed”.
Good Serial-Killer face there Caroline. Very Hallowe’en.
To training now and
OH NO, IS SHE INJURED? Sorry, it’s just whenever I hear sad music and see abandoned shoes I always think of Artem and the seventeen times he crippled himself in the name of dahnce. Anyway, Caroline’s not lost a limb, it’s just that she’s feeling sad because the waltz is a dance for elegant people and she just doesn’t think she’s a very elegant person. Well…not the way Wardrobe have been styling you, no. At this existential crisis of elegance, Caroline hits upon a failsafe solution. When you want to appear as a mature, elegant, sophisticated, debonaire woman on Strictly
ask a five year old. This is Caroline’s sister and her children. They tell Caroline not to tread on Pasha’s toes and to wear a tiara and just shut her eyes and feel the romance and
sorry but Pasha is hugging children, I’m off to howl at the moon for the next half-hour.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
They’re dancing the waltz to “Three Times A Lady” and I’ll tell you there’s many things I’d do once, twice, three times with Pasha and none of them are very ladylike. And none of them would involve me having
knitted-on boobs I can tell you. In a very real way it looks like the Curse Of The Mummy has been extended for another week, given that she looks ready to be popped into a sarcophagus with Tutankhamen. On the other hand quite a few of the things
might involve these faces, or something like them. We are only a few seconds into the dance at this point Caroline, I don’t think it needs quite this level of…erm…vaginal throttle. Ladylike elegance, if that’s what you’re aiming for, doesn’t usually involve this level of implied panty-flood. It’s quite a nice waltz, really over-acted, and with some unnecessarily literal choreography (Caroline is ONCE (*spin*) TWICE (*spin*) THREE TIMES A LADY (*SPIN*). She can however
do that leg thing what Pixie can do, right up over her head. Imagine Stephanie Beacham on red button commentary for this series, it would be very heaven.
As if I hadn’t had enough Pasha-flibble this evening
he winks at her when it’s over. A-sploosh. Tess greets them over at the Judges by hooting “YOU ARE A LADY! A BEAUUUUUUUTIFUL LADY!” in exactly the same Little Britain tone of voice she probably wanted to avoid for that statement specifically. Bruno starts by saying that that waltz really put him in the mood for romance and dance and LOVE. Len
farts in Bruno’s general direction, and then Bruno goes on to praise Caroline for being “totally honest in her commitment to dance” (/hammer than Dr Pamela at a Tennessee Williams festival). Craig follows by saying that Caroline spent the whole of the dance up on her toes without any heel leads at all and that her topline was incredibly blocky.
If looks could kill. SHE UNDER-REHEARSED THAT ESPECIALLY FOR YOU CRAIG, YOU BASTARD.
Early 80s Phil Oakey is next
and says that Caroline was a very smooth lady in that routine and she loved the PIVITS. She does agree with the boys however (*fast forward*). Len closes, by saying that he did see a lot of tension in Caroline in the routine, but the waltz is such a slow and controlled dance that really it’s like you’re spending the whole thing on Len’s Glans.
Well quite. He thought it lacked rise and fall, but was still beautiful.
Up to the Ball Pit they sweep and Caroline tells Zoe that Pasha winking at her was a sign that she didn’t need to worry about anything because he thought she did the dance perfectly. (Flibble and a wobble and a twang twang twang). Zoe asks Caroline if her nieces gave her any advice for this week and she says that they just told her to be nice to Pasha, as if anyone could either be other. It is at this point that I catch sight of
Joanne. I hope she dresses like that under all casual circumstances. Just popping down to Tesco Metro to get some Haribo in her great big pink froo-froo ballroom gown, don’t mind her. Zoe goes on to reveal that “Three Times A Lady” is Alison’s song that she has with her partner and she was up in the pit getting emotional the whole way through that dance and IF YOU DON’T MAKE ANY JOKES ABOUT HOW MANY TIMES A LADY ALISON IS THAN NEITHER WILL I. Anecdote wise, Caroline immediately one-ups this with the fact that she was once an extra in one of Lionel Ritchie’s videos and Zoe gasps “IN HELLO?!?!”. Hello was filmed in 1983. I hope that was shade. Scores are in
Jake Wood & Janette Manrara dancing the BLOKERUMBA
Tess tells us that Jake’s rumba will be set on a ship, which hasn’t been the setting for a rumba since the days of the Widdytanic. She then larks that she hopes that Jake doesn’t…GO OVERBOARD.
Tess’ comic timing defined in a single picture there.
In his VT, Jake says that last week was tough, the paso was always destined to probably not be his best dance and that Craig’s criticisms were all totally fair.
It’s really hard to tell when Jake is genuinely fed up and when he’s…just being Jake isn’t it?
Training now, and Janette tells Jake that his dance is going to be themed around the idea that he is a captain of a BEAUTIFUL SHIP and that as Remembrance Sunday is coming up it’d be a great idea to go to an actual navy ship and meet some veterans. Jake is
SO EXCITED ZOMG.
Off they go to HMS Belfast where Jake doesn’t spend the day so much glad-handing with grizzled old sailors (maybe they were all too busy being entertained by Bruno?) as he does
sitting in the Captain’s Chair like a big boy and bossing Janette about below decks like a galley-slave. Some really, really, really profoundly not interested sailors turn up at the end to watch Jake do two steps of rumba and then mutter something about how they’d well give it a 10 before wandering off again. I think Jake has found his people.
TO THE SEVEN SEAS!
This is some of the worst theming I’ve ever seen, although it may just be my proud indifference to military uniforms as sex objects. He looks like Captain Birdseye, not Richard Gere, and instead of a mighty warship it looks in fact like Janette has given him a little tug. Anyway, this rumba is just awful on every level. I know people just handwave off “OH IT’S A BLOKERUMBA” but I swear, Ben Cohen did a better rumba than this last year and he gave off the impression that moving his hips took all the force of a continental plate fracture. Jake barely does anything, Janette vamps and poses and leans around him more than I’ve seen a female pro do on this show for anybody in a good long while, Jake occasionally throws in a truly grotesque over-rotation of his hips every so often that looks bizarre outside of the context of the faster latin dances and
he’s not even acting it well. He’s supposed to be the romantic lead but he’s giving her a proper “DUHHHHHH BOOOBS!” look the whole time. How long is he supposed to have spent on this ship? I think the worst bit is when Janette runs up the steps in time for a key change, upon which she just…falls on top of him. It’s a very X Factor sort of “dramatic moment” and therefore falls very flat in this sort of room
/ferry docks/wherever the dance is supposed to be set. Bah.
Once they’re over at the judges, Craig says that Jake’s hand-shaping wasn’t shipshape. In fact it was…SPATULISTIC. (One of the greatest of all of Craig’s Greatest Hits there). On the whole he thought the dance was too safe, and far too subtle (?!). Tess then tells Darcey to tell everyone that the rumba is a VERY DIFFICULT DANCE FOR THE MALE CELEBRITY TO DO, and she does so. Len follows, and of course doesn’t need telling. We don’t understand how hard it is for the male celebrities, we aren’t told it enough, we don’t appreciate the true horrors of maybe looking a bit gay, blah blah blah. Bruno closes by saying that he liked the performance (with the obligatory reference to “cruising”) but Jake didn’t get the continuous movement that you associate with the rumba. That is, the continuous movement of viewers to the bathroom to take a piss-break.
Up to the Ball Pit they sail, where Zoe tells Jake that everyone in her pit was lost in the romance of his rumba. Also in the fog. Janette says she’s very proud of Jake and then Zoe tells an anecdote about Jake backstage that doesn’t really work at all because it revolves around a silly dance he did (…I’m sure you had to be there) but the upshot is that Jake is definitely a WACKY FUNSTER, not the Oscar The Grouch in tight slacks he may appear to be. Honest. Scores are in
Judy Murray and Anton du Beke dancing the paso doble
Tess asks the audience if they’re looking forward to Judy’s paso doble, ladies and gents, and they all cheer. Then Brucie creeps up on Tess and everyone yells “HE’S BEHIND YOU!” and then everyone does a dance to “I Like To Move It Move It” and they all lived happily ever after in panto land.
In her VT, Judy tells us that she really enjoyed the American Smooth because it was full of lifts and kicks and she got to shout at the beginning. She then guffaws that the actual dancing, she wasn’t so enamoured of. She knows she’s a rubbish dancer, but less of a rubbish dancer than when she started.
Anton should get that as a testimonial for his dancing school, should he ever open one.
Training now and it begins thusly :
Anton : “Hey Judy Moo, we’ve got the paso doble this week, want to do some training?”
Judy : “NO, ANDY’S IN LONDON FOR SOME TENNIS RUBBISH, LET’S GO TROLL HIM!”
Judy : “HAA HA HA HA HA AH HAAAA hello darling”
Andy : “How’s it going this week?”
Judy : “It’s a bit fast for me”
Andy : “Isn’t it always?”
Andy : “I do enjoy watching mum dancing every week (lieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees) but it’s hard to watch the judges be mean to her (especially if they use lines that I wish I’d thought of using first)”
Anton : “Why don’t you try dancing with your mum Andy?”
Andy : “…crap”
One Nation, Under A Judy : “HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
Watching Judy trying to teach someone else how to dance it’s like…well it’s like a Martian conversing with a Furby.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Now people have criticised Anton in the past for choreographing his routines, not to match his partner’s strengths, but to make them look as foolish as possible. So it behoves me to congratulate him for choreographing this routine strictly according to what Judy is best at and enjoys doing most.
Shouting and being thrown about. Their paso is being done to “I Fought The Law” which is apposite because Judy’s story is very much “I Fought The Floor (And The Floor Won)”. That bad boy taught her a lesson long ago and she is staying as far away from it as she possible can. Seriously, there’s parts of this routine where Judy is so averse to making contact with terra firma it looks like she’s doing wirework. I’m not sure it really works as a paso doble track though. I know that complaining about the song choices for the…lesser celebs is a bit like throwing good money after bad, but making a metaphorical tango out of a metaphorical Defying Gravity is much easier when you’ve got the raw materials. Judy mostly stays as close as she can to Anton, holds on for dear life and
stumbles around like a drunk at closing time after every spin. In the end, she slams Anton right in his cage and
gives one of my favourite Strictly faces of all time. It’s the very picture of “‘MON YE BASTARDS!”
Once the…hysteria has died down, Tess asks Darcey if she’s reached a verdict. She says that she’s looking at a
hung jury. This would have truly been the perfect moment for a Thom Evans cameo. And maybe Iveta as a HAHT CAHP. She thinks Judy showed what a really strong lady she is in all the jumps and lifts and…not so much anywhere else. In her opinion Judy lacked the necessary exaggeration of movement and grandiosity of gesture required for a paso doble. Also?
ANNEKA RICE EVERYONE. If she’s not doing the rumba in a full Treasure Hunt jumpsuit with Anton with his big furry boom mic out this time next year, I’d be very surprised. Len follows this up by saying that if stiffness were a crime then Judy would get life. Len, if stiffness were a crime then Anton would be doing a 10-stretch from his cha cha with Fiona Fullerton.
Bruno follows, flailing lyrical about how Judy is a revolutionary outlaw redefining the laws of dance as we know it (truly, she is the Che Guevara of the ballroom) and Craig closes by engaging in TURBO-BANTER with Anton about whether what paso doble walks should look like. There’s always a nice edge when the pros take on Craig over ballroom technique, especially when it’s one so apt to wrap everything in twaddle as Anton, because Craig clearly has no idea how to respond.
Up to the Ball Pit they rattle, where Anton claims that Judy has redefined ballroom to the extant that out there she was actually dancing contemporary.
Zoe says it was great to see “Lovely Andy” in Judy’s VT, which I guarantee is the first time that nickname has been used, although I hope Judy chooses to take that ball and run with it. Judy tells Zoe that Andy just mutes the judges now, and then we all indulge in another round of Judy’s mum’s shortbread. Well…Simon does. Scores are in
Sunetra Sarker & Brendan Cole dancing the foxtrot
It’s like a best man and a maid of honour that don’t really think the wedding should be going ahead because the bride’s controlling/the groom’s a drunk. They don’t hate one another so much as the situation. Speaking of which
I bet it reeks of vinegar. ALSO ZOMG NO ANGELS REUNION. Jo Joyner’s down the other end as well.
In her VT, Sunetra talks about what an honour it was to open the show and what a lot of pressure she felt to perform. She was really happy with the judges comments, not so much with the scores she got and hopes to move onwards and upwards this week. To a NOT Latin dance! (LOL on It Takes Two when Brendan basically said “oh I can’t be arsed with Latin any more the celebs are always crap at it and they all hate it” and Sunetra replied that “ACTUALLY Alison and Jake well prefer Latin to Ballroom so you are WRONG” and then it was kind of awkward? Such fun times).
Training now and
Brendan tells Sunetra that he’s going to make her foxtrot extra demanding and make her put loads of extra hours in and then Sunetra’s all “whatever, no you’re not, I’m bringing my mates in and we’re having a piss-up”
WOOOO! The joke in this VT is that all of Sunetra’s Casualty friends are much more excited to see Brendan than they are her and talk about how jealous they are that she gets to dance with him. Also Colin Jackson’s sister pins Brenda in the corner for three hours until he tells her that the Muppet Dance was definitely riggage by the producers yes, now please stop sitting on my throat.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Oh there he is. Though we’d lost him for a minute there. Sunetra is foxtrotting to “All Of Me” by John Legend. Yet another in the vein of “Not Bad For A Fat Lass” negging romantic classics alongside “Just The Way You Are” by Billy Joel, “Just The Way You Are” by Bruno Mars”, and “Little Things” by One Direction. I like Sunetra’s ballroom a lot, because she does have a certain lightness and sweep that the other female celebrities lack but good lord
this is cheese on toast. There’s a lot of wafting, a lot of spinning, and a lot of
gapping and it feels to me a bit like Sunetra’s got the mood down here a lot better than she’s getting the actual dancing. Maybe those Casualty hours are getting to her? The second half in particular goes badly wrong – it’s been a while since I’ve seen the Brendan Shuffle (Anton’s always been more one for just talking his partners through routines when they’re going wrong – Brendan will just keep on shoving you with his mouth clenched shut until he do what you’re being directed to which…I guess is more admirable in a way) and her frame just collapses. Good first half, if a little saccharine. The ending…not so much.
When they’re done she mutters “…sorry” into his ear and he tells her not to apologise as Simon begins
Operation Mug4Days up in the Ball Pit. It gets a Standing Ovation apart from the front row, who then hilariously leap to their feet as Tess runs screaming past them like an ambulance (why is she never ever on her mark ever, when Bruce could manage it even with his dessicated bone structure?) yelling “STANDING OVATION FOR YOU SUNETRA!”. Len starts for the judges, sighing that there were a couple of incidents in the routine, to which Tess honks “WERE THERE?”, forcing Sunetra to admit that there were. I think where Sunetra got really unlucky is that the worst of it did happen about 2 ft away from the judging table itself. Of course the audience mutters a bit in disagreement/sadness/feeling a bit sad that the routine they liked so much was technically a bit ropey so Len starts his whole Shylock “IF I’M A PRICK DOES IT NOT MAKE YOUR EARS BLEED?” routine again and SHUT UP LEN.
Whew. Bruno is next and says that Sunetra really gets ballroom, and it’s just a shame she made those mistakes. He also thinks that she didn’t cover them up particularly well, and if she’d bluffed it a bit better then nobody would have noticed OTHER THAN THE JUDGES OF COURSE HA HA HA HA BECAUSE THEY SEE ALL HA HA HA HA. Bruno’s insane laughter at this point makes the audience laugh nervously and Brenda give a killer eye-roll and look down the camera-lens, all
“…but more in the case of certain dancers than others, eh?”
Craig follows, after Sunetra gives a little speech about how ballroom makes her feel really special and in the moment, to the interest of neither Tess nor Brendan, by saying that that was a real shame because there were moments of beauty in there. Darcey closes by saying that she loved Sunetra’s top line but the boys are right *fast forward*
Up to the Ball Pit they bounce where Zoe
immediately demands a cuddle. Again, actual human warmth rather than bellowing “WELL WE DIDN’T NOTICE, DID WE LADIES AND GENTS?!” into thin air. Zoe tells Sunetra that she looks beautiful and had a great song to dance to, which immediately jolts Brenda into giving the whole speech about how amazing the band and the singers are that he neglected to give last week. He’s being so so odd this year, I love it. Maybe the baby’s keeping him up. Maybe this is why more male pros don’t have kids. Sunetra reiterates her disappointment and scores are in
Alison Hammond & Aljaz Skorjanec dancing the Charleston
In her VT, Alison tells us that her American Smooth was one of her favourite dances and that she thinks that secretly the judges wanted to give her 9s. Yes Alison, I’m sure there’s nothing deep down in Len’s heart that he enjoys more than pseudo-contemporary wafting to an 80s song but, you know, he has to keep up the “ballroom judge” appearances. It’s a tragedy really – if he was a braver man this show would be naught but rumbas to “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and jives to “I Think We’re Alone Now”.
In training now, and Alison tells us that she will be doing the Charleston, which is “fun, fast and totally up my street” (/”gurny, stompy, and a dance where you always get at least three 7s just for being under 40″). It’s also a dance where Aljaz
gets to do a star jump, bless his grinning ickle face. Can you imagine him doing a star jump with Abbey? No. It’d be “BABE CAN YOU NOT, YERR FLAILIN ARMS ARE MAYKIN ME NYERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRVOUS! I MIGHT SMEAR ME MAKE-UP!”. Anyway, Aljaz cottons that this is an official Charleston Comeback Week, and so he doesn’t really have to bother training so much as let Alison have her ITV id run rampant on the dancefloor. This truth acknowledged, he suggests that they have some fun instead instead of training.
No not that sort of fun Alison.
BOWLING FUN! She also brings her son along with her, because why not? Everyone else is doing it. It turns out that Aljaz is crap at bowling (a fact greeted with peals of laughter by Alison so raucous that even Alesha would be like “…woah”) and has to use a
chute to roll his balls down. Make your own innuendo, because sometimes it’s just too too easy.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
WOAH! That is an extreme close-up on Alison’s dress th…
oh. Team GLIHAH are dancing their Charleston to “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin and it really is a complete Lisa Riley special. As much as I’ve tried not to make comparisons too much, it’s hard to ignore.
The top hats, the bombastic soundtrack, the side-by-side, the canes, the great big ham faces… The one area where she does improve on the Lisa Riley original is opting for
jazz-tits over jazz-hands. It’s like a normal shimmy, but with an extra zesty zing. She’s also making an extra strong effort to get the technique of the dance, such as it is (a lot of it really is her just standing there watching Aljaz show off
and occasionally groping him whilst he does so), with swivel and bounce and so on but…it all feels a bit Seaside Special for me and Aljaz’s comparative spryness is showing her up more in this dance than any of the others. It all ends with Alison planting a great big kiss on Aljaz, which is hard to capture in a picture.
So their faces in the aftermath will just have to do.
It gets a Standing Ovation, and I hesitate to comment on “genuine” standing ovations vs “feel like they’re being carried out at gunpoint” standing ovations, but this is definitely the former. Or it might just be that
the ITV contingent of any audience is always slightly louder/hen night-ier than others. Bruno, eventually, starts for the judges by saying that Alison is really vivacious and has a great natural affinity for slapstick (certainly she’s seemed really dogged about getting Aljaz to work his slapstick into every routine…) but she lost the routine slightly in the middle. He thinks she recovered by the end though and then starts
shouting and slamming around so vigorously that I worry he might do a Scanners. Craig follows by saying that the routine was very stylish and chic (?!) with a wide variety of steps, but it could have been better technically.
Darcey’s next, and she marvels at how much Alison’s stamina has improved over the series, but goes on to say that she thinks that Alison’s right leg is stronger than her left and it made the whole thing feel a bit lop-sided. Len closes by saying CAME AHT and variations thereof about fifty times. Alison next takes an opportunity to say that for a “girl like her”, it’s unbelievable that she’s getting to appear on a show like this. Now people have chided Alison for this statement here and when she says a similar thing in the results show, saying she’s going a chip on her shoulder, but let’s all be grown-ups and face the unpalatable truth about Strictly. The anti-Midlands bias is appalling. How many of us have been allowed to make the final, let alone win? It’s shameful.
Look at Tess, having to bury her true self under those phony Northern vowels. SHE KNOWS.
Up to the Ball Pit they careen, where Alison grins that she loved doing the Charleston, and Zoe immediately tells her that she’s got lipstick on her teeth and might want to sort that out. Such sisterhood. She then turns to Aljaz and lets him know that he’s got it all round his mouth as well. It’s alright Tess, I don’t think Janette would have noticed enough to be annoyed. Not without a stepladder. Alison talks about how last week made her realise just how important being on this show is, and if you needed an illustrative example of the process of jadedness in being a Strictly pro
just compare Kevin and Aljaz’s face to Brenda’s here. Do 90 episodes kid, then see how you feel. Scores are in
27. Zoe asks Alison if she’s disappointed by that 6 from Craig, and she says that really her aim now is to get an 8 so she’s a bit down about all the scores.
Mark Hauer & Karen Wright dancing the waltz
Well, that’s how Tess introduces them anyway. Nice job on spinning that rumour-mill that little bit harder there Tess.
In his VT, Mark gushes that last weekend was like a dream. When Bruno said that his jive was his best dance yet
THAT MEANS IT WAS BETTER THAN HIS SAMBA! THIS MEANS HE’S GETTING BETTER! AND IMPROVING! AND DEVELOPING! AND GOING ON A JOURNEEEEEEEEEEY! We’re then treated to shots of him backstage after the dance all
“ME? MARK WRIGHT? FROM TOWIE? GETTING FREE NINES? I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!” and crying. If/when he gets a 10 they’re going to have to put up a splash guard on the front row and hand out the ponchos aren’t they? I’d be surprised if the Blackpool Tanoy didn’t announce to patrons on the way in : “caution, those of you in the front four rows may get wet”.
In training though, sadly Mark’s euphoric high can’t last for long, as he is having to tangle with that most dreaded of all Strictly dances.
The waltz. If you want to give £5 a month to celebrity men who are so lacking in self-esteem that they get terrified by the thought of a waltz, two months into rigorous dance training, then please send your details to firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will be in touch. You will receive a brochure, speeches on tape from your chosen celebrity letting you know how they’re getting on, and for £10 a month, a cuddly Tiny Tears Mark Wright pull-string doll will be dispatched to your address. It has 8 unique phrases including “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!”, “FANK YOU SO MUCH!” and “*gasp* *choke* I CAN’T SPEAK”. To solve Mark’s problems with the control and balance needed for a waltz
Karen takes him to soccer drills with his brother, what is a footballer for Leyton Orient. They’re really struggling with the lack of SPORTSMEN! this series aren’t they? Did Len make them do this? Mark and Karen draw at keepy-uppies and then they do a penalty shootout and Karen wins the end.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Nice to see that football really helped Mark’s posture, as he stands there like a toddler at a wedding. Except the toddler would probably cry less. They’re dancing to “Weekend In New England” and
oh lawd here comes the slushy stuff again. Apparently Mark claimed on It Takes Two that he’s never heard of Barry Manilow which…I refuse to believe you can come from Essex and work for Heart FM and not know Copacabana or Could It Be Magic? Come on. In terms of the saccharine trio tonight I actually like the tone of this one best, although that may be because I actually like “Weekend In New England” as a song (SHUT UP), even if Karen has
inherited Sunetra’s glittery bum-crack stain. It’s a little careful and a little, as Len would put it “MINCY PINCY WOO WOO”, and he still feels a little hunchy, but on the whole it’s a winning performance. (I know using “winning” in the same sentence as Mark Wright has started giving a lot of people the twitch, sorry, I won’t do it again). At the end, to represent an ICONIC New England autumn, some people in the wings throw a load of dead leaves at them.
CHAMPION (sorry, sorry, did it again).
It gets a Standing Ovation, whilst up on the balcony
Operation Mug4Days continues. Once they’re over at the judges, Tess asks Mark if he needs a tissue. I dunno, is there a mirror around? Craig starts for the judges, saying that the dance was certainly very amorous and romantic, right up until the moment where he get smacked in the face by a dead pigeon because Evil Moira Ross In A Rainbow Wig forgot to sort through the leaves properly. Darcey follows by saying that Mark truly is becoming a performer, as he showed by how he sensitively lead Karen around the dancefloor. He needs to work on not hooking his hands in his extensions though.
Len follows up by saying that unfortunately there wasn’t any swing and sway to the dance but WALTZ IS A VERY HARD DANCE FOR THE MALE CELEBRITIES TO DO DAH SWING AN SWAY IN TESS SO IT DON’T MATTER. And his footwork was good as well. (My favourite part of Len’s rant is when he says that the male celebrities are at a disadvantage because the male pros have been dancing for years, which makes the male celebrities look bad by comparison. Unlike the female pros obviously who just started ballroom dancing yesterday) (NO JOKES ABOUT JANETTE, I HEAR YOU TITTERING, DON’T THINK I DON’T). Bruno closes by joking that Mark now has his wedding dance sorted.
Up to the Ball Pit they advance, and Zoe asks Mark if he ever thought he’d make it to halfway through the competition. Mark briefly, mentally
flicks through his Rolodex Of Sincerity and comes up with “No Zoe, I didn’t, I was just trying to get to Hallowe’en Week”. Again with Hallowe’en Week. Sid Owen got to Hallowe’en Week, calm down. Scores are in
Frankie Saturday & Kevin Clifton dancing the samba
Briefly I worry for Frankie’s chances of staying in, as clearly the only reason that anybody would wear that top Kevin’s in is if their mum had given it to them for Christmas and she was popping round. CURSE OF THE MUMMY! Tess tells us all that this week Frankie has been in sunny Spain with The Saturdays, so Kevin had to go there to train with her and drag himself away from Grimsby, oh no.
Somewhere Aliona looks up from her sunbed from outside Tony Jacklin’s Florida mansion and says “amateur”.
In her VT, Frankie says that it was a lot of fun dancing the tango dressed up as a witch, because it allowed her to be someone completely different. Also it landed her the first “REAL TEN!” of the series. And the Donny Shade doesn’t stop.
Training now, and Frankie says that she’s doing the samba to La Bamba, but AY CARAMBA…she’s got to go to Spain. And possibly eat a Wham Bar. The show of course treats the cultural transition across the channel with the usual sensitivity
by sticking Kevin in a sombrero and blaring out “VIVA ESPANA!” by Black Lace. The comedy in the VT lies in the fact that Frankie is SO BUSY, SO EFFING BUSY, BUSIER EVEN THAN PIXIE LOTT COULD EVER DREAM OF BEING that she has no time to train with Kevin so he just sits on his own in a
great big Spanish hacienda with full swimming-pool feeling sorry for himself. Hey Kevin! Why not go skinny-dipping! Just…leave the glasses on.
(This blog turned into a niche fetish website so slowly I barely even noticed)
Eventually the other Saturdays turn up
in full winter coats (BALMY SPAIN) and watch Frankie and Kevin train for them, and then maybe kill him and eat him in the manner of a giallo horror film, who can say?
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
I will say now that I’ve never seen a dance on Strictly with such an…insistent light show. It could just be the studio lights pinging off Kevin’s top, but there’s yellow and blue bars of light flying everywhere throughout and it’s most distracting. Frankie’s dancing is similarly a bit all over the place, being a little bit early and a little bit late and a little bit lost all on occasion, as she seems to be struggling to stay on the choreography. If we’re talking in Spanish terms she’s not so much running with the bulls as trying to rodeo them, and frequently on the verge of being bucked off. There’s a lot of skirt swishing and New Yorkers and it all feels a bit like a samsabchaso doble. Were such things possible. Also
this looks erm…interesting.
Just chalk it all up to lack of rehearsal time and move on, I’d say.
It still gets a Standing Ovation, moving Frankie into the lead on the Standing Ometer and the only person in this series still with a 100% record. So that’s something. Frankie incidentally already looks a bit pissed off with herself at this point. Darcey starts for the judges by saying that there was an awful lot of content in the routine and she could see Frankie coming unstuck a couple of time. She also would have liked the dance to be a bit sexier. Lord knows how you’re supposed to do sexy when your partner is dressed like Mark Curry circa 1987 but ok. Len follows by saying he saw quite a few incidents as well, but he admired how quickly Frankie recovered from them.
Bruno again follows by saying that the choreography seemed a bit too hard for Frankie and he was expecting more from her, and Craig finishes by snotting “your worst dance yet!”.
I presume if he was “ending on a positive”, as he always professes to try and do (lol) it was under the table.
Up to the Ball Pit they jog, with Frankie’s face having a proper wobble on the way up and to be honest, I’m not sure if
running straight into this would make it better or worse. If I’m having a crisis of confidence I’m not sure I need a neon pinata and people yelling “LA LA LA LA BAMBA!” in my face. It’s not even as though she can get catharsis for herself because Brenda is there
smacking the donkey with a quite deranged look in his eyes before she can even get close. Got some rage issues you need to work off Brenda? Zoe asks Frankie if she thinks Craig’s comment was fair and she says it was because she made loads of mistakes, and then gets a little choked up. It’s always kind of awkward when the frontrunner you feel the most natural empathy for is also the one whose dancing you generally find the least engaging isn’t it? To lighten the mood, Zoe “congratulates” Kevin on “carrying off” that outfit and gets him, as the British Pro, to give a little speech about the magic of Blackpool. Scores are in
32. For those of you worrying
Brenda did eventually allow Frankie to get a swing in. The doctors are working on grafting his fingers back on as we speak.
Pixie Lott & Trent Whiddon dancing the foxtrot
Hilariously, Tess’s “POOR FWANKIE AND HER TEARS!” commentary at this point is so insincere that you can hear at least two people in the audience tittering. Tess tells us that Pixie is dancing this week to “When I’m 64” and is desperate to get a TICKET TO RIDE to Blackpool WITH A LITTLE HLP FROM HER FRIENDS.
You remember when Claudia used to do this schtick and people used to actually laugh? It feels so long ago.
In her VT, Pixie says that she really enjoyed her tango last week because it allowed her to get into a completely different character. I know this is the first time we’ve had two “pop princess”s in the same series producers, but there’s no reason to use literally the same script for both of them. She says that she was really happy with Bruno’s 9, and she’s really looking forward to going to Blackpool, if she survives this week. Oh alright, they’re reusing that list bit of the script there for everybody. (Apparently the fourth Theme Week this year is “Around The World Week”. I can’t wait for Caroline to sob out that it was always her dream as a kid to dance the Argentine Tango dressed as a penguin. IT WAS ALWAYS HER AIM TO GET TO AROUND THE WORLD THEME WEEK! FOR HER DEAD PENGUIN NAN!)
Training now, and Trent tells Pixie that this week they will be dancing a slow foxtrot.
Something about Trent tells me that he lives most of his life quite slowly. It’s nice to get a new pro who’s not all pep and squeaky voices and pop-eyes. He tells Pixie that it’s his favourite of all the ballroom dances, and Pixie sighs that it was her grand-dad’s favourite ballroom dance as well, and he was off at a Charli XCX concert when they filmed the last “MEET THE FAMILY” VT sooooo…
here he is now!
Pixie and Trent dance the foxtrot for Pixie’s grand-dad and he waxes nostalgic about how he used to dance the foxtrot with Pixie’s nan and he’s sure that she’d be very proud of Pixie for how she’s dancing on Strictly. Not for that “Mama Do” crap though, what a bleedin’ racket.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
The theme of Pixie’s foxtrot is that she and Trent are a young couple setting out on life together in the 1940s, with her slaving away at the mangle and him just sat there drinking a cup of PATRIARCHAL TEA. Once he’s done, Trent goons around winningly with a tea-towel on his head
and then they foxtrot. It’s a nice enough dance, and there’s no denying that she looks the part
but the whole thing’s a bit musical theatre for my taste and her frame’s really odd.
It feels like she’s trying to tuck herself under his armpit half the time. There’s a lot of business and distractions and
Trent is starting to seem so determined to get her locks up his nose that I’m starting to think he’s got a bit of a hair-sniffing fetish. I think maybe a whole evening of really sentimental ballroom has left me numb. I find myself in the rather unexpected position of having Simon Webbe having done my favourite routine of the night, think on that.
Yes there was glitter in her laundry, why do you ask?
It gets a standing ovation (albeit one that feels a bit…pushed), as Tess asks Pixie if she’ll still be dancing when she’s 64. Pixie says that she hopes so. IF THERE’S A REALITY TV RESULTS SHOW THAT’LL HAVE HER, SHE’LL BE THERE. Len starts for the judges, saying that that was a lovely charming dance, but she was too far to Trent’s right side, and that makes her arms too stretched and her legs have to work ahead of the music, so it was a bit awkward looking. I’m so alarmed that I’m seeing the same technical issues that Len is seeing in things all of a sudden. If I start talking about gettin me bum out in Tescos then you have my permission to shoot me. Bruno follows by saying that Trent choreographed a very original foxtrot that was different from the usual Fred N Ginge. Trent chortles away merrily that it was more Pat and Marge. Maybe that’s an Australian thing…
Craig follows by droning “GAWJUSS” and Darcey closes by saying that she thought it was even more gawjuss than Craig thought it was, so there.
Up to the Ball Pit they romp, where Pixie blows kisses to her grand-dad Charlie and Trent drawls “I’m sure he loved it!” and then starts mumbling away about how he’s sure that Charlie’s tv appearance will get him a lot of action with the ladies down at the golf course (*wink wink fluttery wink*) like he’s extra extra stoned. I heart Trent. Scores are in
36. (Zoe does a bit of maths afterwards (Pixie’s age + Trent’s age + week of the competition + number of judges = 64 which I am only mentioning because of Trent’s deep deep deep reluctance to admit that he’s 30 years old and also the look of
utter blankness on both of their faces as they try to do mental arithmetic)
Steve Backshall & Ola Jordan dancing the paso doble
BEST OF FRIENDS! We start with a joke from Tess about how Steve was so annoyed by Craig’s score for his Charleston that he’s going to physically assault him. Just in case you thought those jokes would leave with Bruce, like so many things that were blamed on him…that are still somehow here.
In his VT, as the mournful strings of Lana Del Rey play yet again, Steve sighs that his Charleston had gone so perfectly in rehearsals and just got cocked up on the night. We’re reminded that Bruno called the dance overambitious, and Steve says that’s not true – he mucked it up. Given the rampant excuse making for Steve this week (IT WAS THE COSTUMES, IT WAS THE MAKE-UP, IT WAS OLA’S FAULT, IT WAS THE CHOREOGRAPHER’S FAULT, IT WAS THE ILLUMINATI!) it’s quite refreshing for him to just come out and say unequivocally that it was him. We’re shown him joking with Ola backstage
that at least he got the DANGEROUS bits right so she didn’t die. His resemblance to a spooky panda here will never stop being amusing to me.
In training, Ola explains to Steve that the paso doble is a very masculine dance. Given the dance that’s about to follow, I will say that her pronunciation is very very close to “mescalin” there. SHould have been a sign We’re shown Ola demanding that Steve scare her with his masculinity and then laughing at his efforts (TEH EVEL BULLY!) and then Steve saying that he’ll show Ola his true power by taking her to watch him do martial arts.
Whoops. Ola yells at him to get his PASO FIRE out until he gains the strength to
beat up a woman. WOO!
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
So you remember after his (really enjoyable) quickstep with a jazzy twist people talked about how his charleston was going to be amazing? And after his (really enjoyable) tango with an aggressive twist people said that his paso was going to be amazing? Neither of those actually ended up happening really did they? I think the difference here is that both of those dances used his slightly brutish appearance a little cheekily and ironically (being a muscle-biker and an actual gorilla respectively). This is straight up
leather-daddy hen-night stripper sleaze. The joy of Steve to me has always been that he’s a soft-spoken kids tv presenter trapped in a mafia lunkhead’s body. This routine on the other hand is the sort of thing that camp was born to parody. His paso face is so outlandishly butch as well
that oh yes, I will be dusting off an old friend to close this recap. The technical side of his performance I don’t think is so bad (although he misses a beat really obviously at one point and the less said about his arms generally the better) but it’s so over-acted.
This looks like the end of Mad Max 4, not a dance.
It gets a Standing Ovation, not entirely undue to the partial nudity I’m sure. Bruno starts for the judges and well
we all know who loves over-acted semi-shirtlessness don’t we? He yells that Steve is CONAN THE DESTROYER and it looked like he was trying to break Ola rather than dance with her. He felt that the dance did need more refinement though. I’m…not sure I wanted that concept refined any further than it already was. It was pretty raw. Craig follows by saying that he’s still in shock from what an angry brute Steve was in the dance. He doesn’t look particularly like it’s the bad sort of shock, if you catch my meaning.
Darcey’s libido flutters like a broken drawstring blind throughout her entire commentary and Len closes by saying that he felt it did lack a bit of artistry.
Up to the Ball Pit they charge where Zoe asks Steve if he enjoyed that dance.
He did. He gushes that it was his favourite dance in his favourite costume to his favourite song in the whole wide world. Bless. Scores are in
Bunton Paso Scale : 0.87 : rampaging panda.