Officially there’s no Theme this week but over the course of the evening, an unofficial thread of redemption weaves itself through several couples performances, with a number of pairs either pulling themselves up from previous mistakes or reaching their own personal pinacles. Carol and Ainsley for example both reach their best yet in terms of actual content and performance, and in dances (paso doble and waltz respectively) that are relatively straight unmuddied attempts at dances you wouldn’t think would suit them. Peter and Georgia both manage to overcome slightly…leftfield dance choices (a tango to Blue Monday and a quickstep to an incredibly manic doublespeed version of Reach that I like to think matches the noise in Rachel Stevens’ head any time she got a 10) to be as good as they’ve ever been before. Which is to say that Peter is still too snappy and aggressive and boxy and Georgia still needs to work on her stamina and being less stage school, but you know…good for them.
Clear top of the Redemption Arcs Of The Week though are Jamelia and Katie, both embodying the best of New School and Old School Strictly. The former really finds herself in a Paula Abdul Charleston (?) with a fun and carefree performance that’s still a little muddy and unpolished but which at least looks like she’s having a laugh doing what she’s been told to as opposed to being miserable doing whatever she wants. Katie though gets gifted one of the greatest pieces of Anton choreo ever, whirling and whirling and whirling almost non-stop to an Elvis ballad without significant gimmicks, right in the Pimp Slot. She’s a little wobbly, so it’s only the one 9 rather than the Len 10 you’d think it was storylined to get, but it’s the most obvious moment of triumph this show’s had since…well last week.
As some people crest, others plateau – Anita’s beach party massacre samba is fun and flirty but is fatally lacking in bounce and when called out on it Gleb resorts to stripping off in a most Glebby manner, that leaves even Claudia at a loss as to what to say. Helen’s salsa is basically her cha cha with a different softcore theme (doctor and nurse rather than mechanic and customer) and some ridiculous lift and isn’t as much of a leap as she probably needs this week to keep pace with the other frontrunners, impactwise. Jeremy’s back to full on comedy of ineptitude as he takes the “TALL PEOPLE CAN’T JIVE” mantra and sprints to the endzone with it, flailing all over the place and spinning around on the floor with a fully clothed bathtime themed jive with Karen as rubber ducky. Daniel does his best with an airport themed American Smooth, but if there’s anything that highlights his lack of charisma it’s being asked to provide old school Hollywood glamour to a Frank Sinatra soundtrack, and Kellie does a good, classic foxtrot but maybe pushes it too far into the zone of X Factor sentiment by having the ghost of her nan and granddad literally floating over the dancefloor the entire time via photograph.
Only two dancers really crash though – Jay’s quickstep is an overambitious deflated souffle, as he crashes, skids, slides and trips calamatously around the dancefloor to My Generation like the Andrex puppy in a Louis XIV wig, and Kirsty’s paso doble is awkward, stilted, and cringy to levels that even Pendleton (EVEN PENDLETON) would find embarassing. One of them responds slightly better to adversity than the other, as Jay cops to all of his mistakes and reacts appropriately to the low scores, and Kirsty whines non-stop about the poor music choice (U2 – Beautiful Day) from the second the orchestra stops. By rights it should win her the boot in a week where all the other duffers at least hold their own, but stranger things have happened…