Next series : the SHOWDANCEATHON. Seven couples all on the floor at the same time with dummies and bacofoil and flaming hoops and giant beachballs and contempowaft hankies and MASHED POTATOES and haybales and drum kits and…
Last week : It was Blackpool. But who even remembers the main show? In the last week we’ve had Jamelia’s ” “” ” Fake Standing Ovation Bombshell, Len forced onto It Takes Two to issue an Official Statement, tapes of the Results Show gone over as though they had been filmed by Zapruder himself, Jay expressing his desire to murder, mutilate, and kick the corpse of a toddler, Natalie managing to win Strictly Come Dine With Me DESPITE HAVING OUTSIDE ASSISTANCE FROM AINSLEY (FIX), Zoe getting a surprise when Karen Hardy stood up pretending she was about to quit the entire show over Jameliagate then revealed that she was instead just CUEING IN A BIRTHDAY CAKE, Karen then declaring Anita’s paso the GREATEST EVER IN STRICTLY HISTORY (lol ok) and criticising Giovanni’s American Smooth choreography for having TOO MUCH in hold (wtf where even are we now?), Ola getting BANNED FROM THE SHOW FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME THIS SERIES, the Daily Mail releasing a DOSSIER OF FIXING including amazing facts like “Jason Donovan is the highest scoring male celeb in Strictly history but lost to underdog Harry Judd”, Jason Gilkison revealing that Giovanni was recruited after being found wandering the streets of Soho (*eyebrow*) and me wondering if I shouldn’t just give in to the madness and do recaps of It Takes Two as well. Ah well, it’ll be back to talking props and the A-Z Of Strictly soon enough I’m sure.
This week :
It’s all about the training room! It says here! Yes we are promised explicitly from the off that all of this week’s VTs will be non-comedic in nature, and focus on the steps, the technique, and the non-stop toil of having to learn TWO DANCES in ONE WEEK. Will we find out the secret of Helen’s dead reindeer though no we will not. In honour of this NEW LASER FOCUS ON WELL HONED SKILLS all the pros are asked to do their best stern teacher looks to camera.
I kind of want them to reshoot her intro section with her doing air quotes. Also possibly a little banner saying “Dance Off Queen”. Maybe some balloons?
To the studio now and as the band strike up and the hosts come on, they provide the sort of awkward unpleasant collision I was expecting from the Quickstepathon. One mark off Tess, one mark off. Claudia tells us that they’ve all just about recovered from Blackpool, and this makes me sad that the scandal of the last week has made sure that any stories about the notoriously wild annual Blackpool Aftermath Blowout have been totally obscured. I wanted a rousing group sing-a-long to “Beware Of The Dog” around the piano in the hotel with the lyrics changed to “Beware Of The Fix”, I wanted Jay requesting a Wanted song from the DJ and being told they didn’t have any and then having a bit of a woobie weep, I wanted Helen getting a little bit too into singing “Chandelier” on the karaoke, I wanted Peter coked off his nut in the corner complaining to CAN Management throughout all “WHERE WERE THE MULTIVOTERS YOU PROMISED ME CLAIRE, WHERE WERE THEY?”, I wanted Kellie zonked out from her busy schedule and toddler, asleep in the corner muttering “not the lightsabres again Kevin, not the lightsabres”, I wanted Georgia walking into the gents toilet by mistake and finding her boyfriend making out with Giovanni, I wanted Anita shrieking TAKE IT OFF at Gleb until he just stripped and danced right in the middle of the floor wearing only The Gleb Collection until he got them both thrown out, I wanted Katie…JUST BEING KATIE in da club at 4am still going, still dancing, still knocking back sambucca shots, still being FRESH AND FORTY FIVE AND FEELING ALIVE, I WANTED IT ALL DAMNIT!
here are the judges. Craig’s growing a beard in again.
Kellie Bright & Kevin Clifton dancing the salsa
Tess tells us that it couldn’t be closer this year – we’re going into Top 7 with everyone remaining in the competition having been in the top 2 at least once and everyone having scored at least one 9. This is indeed a first, although it almost happened in Series 10, with Lisa Riley never getting above an 8 being the only thing stopping it. Claudia then goes on to say that this means anybody really could win. LOL no.
Anyway, Kellie and Kevin are dancing their salsa to a Jackson 5 song this week and are hoping that the judges say “I WANT YOU BACK” to dance next week. Because appparently we NEVER CAN SAY GOODBYE to Kevin because when it’s the time of the year WHEN SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN, he’ll be saying I’LL BE THERE, because on this show there must ABC (Always Be Cliftons). (Any other Jackson 5 songs you can think of? No? Good).
VT now and Kellie tells us that Blackpool was one of the best nights ever
yeah, I wonder why. No wonder she refused the falsies – when’s the last time Danny Dyer cupped her booby like that? Or, y’know, her real husband from real life. We’re also treated to some shots of Kellie going the
Full Norma Desmond backstage, whilst Kevin is maybe starting to look a little glazed over. Between this and his body apparently falling to bits in the run-up to Blackpool, my campaign for Kevin to get a nice restful year off next year with an older lady and a week 4 elimination continues.
Training (ACTUAL TRAINING) is mostly
a series of botchtastic attempts at lifts and me worrying at just how red and sore Kevin’s nose looks. Get in bed, have some Lemsip and let Pasha dance with her for Musicals Week. We’ll all understand. He goes on to say that there’s one lift in particular in this routine where if it goes wrong, Kellie could have a broken nose “just like that”. As he snaps his fingers at the “just like that”
he looks the most genuinely happy I’ve seen him in a good few weeks. I like Kevin, but he is a bit odd, at times. Anyway, Kellie says that the hard training and the preparing for two performances and the throwing herself around like a teenage girl when she’s pushing 40 are all starting to take a toll on her body, as her back in particular feels like it’s on fire. The show, of course sympathetic to her feelings and her aches and pains
choose to show her in the best possible lighting for this segment.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
I’m not sure which of Kevi’s Heroes this routine is supposed to be in honour of. Maybe the Cliftons watched a lot of Duty Free growing up? Anyway, the story here is that Kevin is too busy with his smartphone to pay attention to his girlfriend
so she throws a drink in his face and storms off, before
oh Christ on a Cracker. TWO Smiley Faces? Yeah that’s sure to work Kevin. That’ll balance out the aubergine and two watersplash emojis you just sent Mrs Wilberforce from room 72. Also if a lady’s just told you off for using your phone too much, you might want to not apologise using your phone just a thought. Of course Kevin also apologises via medium of salsa, on which topic I have to say it probably wasn’t a great idea of Kellie’s to highlight her age before this started because by gum does she feel right on the verge of middle-aged in this routine. It’s slow, the arm crossovers are a little tired looking, the booby-shakes look practically asleep,
I’m not a huge fan of the Frankie Howard “ooooooooooh madam” faces she’s popping throughout and when it comes, the perilous lift/drop that could potentially break her nose
doesn’t really seem worth it. She looks great, the footwork seems very well-rehearsed and neatly deployed, it’s alright as a bit of flirty fun, but it didn’t really do anything for me.
It gets a “standing ovation” (yes in honour of Jamelia, I am going to be putting air quotes around all uses of “standing ovation” this week) and after they walk over to Tess, she takes this opportunity to introduce The Wunnderful Orchestra and our singers, Hayley, Andrea, Tommy and Patrick.
Len starts for the judges, saying that he’s going to put his critique for Kellie into “text talk”. He thinks it was “GR8”. Or as he would put it “GR7”. He calls her a sizzling sausage with a bionic bum (try not to think about that too much) although whilst he thought the lift was great, she did come out of it a little wobbly. Bruno’s next and hoots that the first of the MAGNIFICENT SEVEN HAS RIDDEN OUT MAGNIFICENTLY! It’s worth bearing in mind that most of the Magnificent Seven were dead by the end of the film. This gives me high hopes for the Quickstepathon at any rate. He too, though, noticed an awkward exit from a lift
Craig follows, and says that he loved the “Joan Collins Stroppy Opening” (can you imagine Joan Collins dating someone who sent emojis?) and says that he loved her energy but he too pins all the problems with that routine on the lifts. Good job that Kellie still has both the American Smooth and Argentine Tango to do then! Darcey closes by saying that THE BOYS ARE RIGHT about the lifts but she puts this down to Kellie trying too hard with them. She should just sit back and let Kevin do all the work.
I don’t think Kevin’s ready Darcey. I don’t think he’ll ever be ready. Darcey does promise to Kellie though that all she needs is just a bit more experience.
Up to Claud 9 they romp, where Kellie immediately starts screaming “I DIDN’T FALL OVER! I DIDN’T FALL OVER!”
Claudia’s dead-pan “I know” to this is a thing of beauty. Claudia then turns to Kevin and says that she heard him say that was the hardest dance he has ever done on Strictly, and he says that it was, by far.
Kevin goes on to say that he gives all credit to Kellie, because it went wrong a lot in training and he kept asking if she wanted to simplify it and she said no. Kellie then honks “I’M MAD, CLEARLY!”. She is, indeed, mad, her. She then goes on to talk about what an exhausting week it’s been doing lifts for the first time. Did she not do any lifts in her Charleston? I guess I would remember IF YOU’D LET ME RECAP IT RATHER THAN MAKING ME SIT THROUGH PETERS OF THE CARIBBEAN! Scores are in
Again, I’m loath to pad out this recap with recapping what happens after the scores come in but
Peter’s face slowly creeping into shot as the Terms & Conditions go on cannot be ignored. You could have told him Janette!
Katie Derham & Anton du Beke dancing the Argentine Tango
Goodness Katie I know it’s an Argentine tango, but that’s no reason to make such an aggressive attempt to seize his Malvinas. Tess tells us that as this is an Argentine Tango there’s supposed to be a lot of attention on the lady’s legs, although she thinks that when Katie dances, there’s always a lot of attention on her legs. If Tess’s perving is going to branch out lesbionically I’m giving up. It’s bad enough with her restraining herself just to the men.
VT now, and Katie says that dancing ballroom at Blackpool with Anton was a very special night. He himself reminds us that they scored 35, which as far he’s concerned he’s counting as 40 because it’s as close as he’s ever going to get. True that. I can see Darcey, Len or Bruno wavering if they get the right theme or a dance traditional enough but hell itself will freeze over before Craig Revel-Horwood gives Anton a 10. Katie says as far as she’s concerned the whole night was Mission Accomplished as I
mostly feel sorry for whichever it was of Anton’s henchmen who ended up stuck halfway into the audience like a spare part for the grand finale.
Training now, and Katie says that Argentine Tango’s all about kicks and flicks and sliding your feet about. Up your partner’s legs, up your own legs, across the floor, across the walls, across the toilet door, across the bar, across the face of the nice young man who comes to load you into the back of the ambulance… At one point the kicking gets so intense that during an assisted scissors kick, Katie actually manages to crack herself right in the heel.
Do you know what’d help with that Katie? If you put an Ugg Boot on first. Classic Anton Partner Foot Injury Therapeautic Technique. As with Kevin, Anton’s primary response to one of his partners really hurting themselves mostly seems to be amusement. I guess dancers are a harder breed than the rest of us. Happily though, this minor mishap only inspires Katie to train even harder, well into the night, and even on her own at home.
I guess Proms Money pays slightly better than being in The Wanted. Although I notice the cafetiere in the middle of her living room there, just in case she fancies a quick Irish Coffee. It’s part of a nutritious breakfast!
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Well this is more than a little Edward Hopper isn’t it? Katie and Anton are doing their Argentine Tango to proper orfentic moosic innit and yes
she has legs, and she knows how to use them. It’s very much the return of the vamp that she last deployed in her tango, but with a slightly sultrier more midnight air. She’s flitting around the dance-floor flicking her legs about with abandon, although I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for Anton, who seems very reluctant to stray from the more traditional ballroom tango hold towards the more initimate Argentine Tango one. It’s odd, because you’d think Katie would really suit a hold that at times resembles a drunk leaning on a lamppost for support
but I get the impression that in Anton’s mind it was either this or samba to get out the way before the run to the final and he chose the lesser of two evils. It’s also kind of noticable that every time they go into a lift the cameras sprint away with the speed and determination of Kellie Bright elbowing her way into a post dance-off hug. I know a lot was made of the fact that Kellie is pushing 40 but Ant’s nearly 50, I’m not sure he’s going to be able to cope with lugging Drunky Derham here through two dances in the semis should the time comes (although I hope it does). More atmosphere than technique, but enough, I think, to justify her continued place in the competition despite having an average score currently nestling between Ben Cohen and Robbie Savage.
YEAR OF THE ANTON!
It gets a “standing ovation” and…well which judge do you think of when you think of routines that prioritise atmosphere over technique?
MY SPIRIT ANIMAL! He thought it was drop dead gorgeous and that she was a “high class courtesan with irresistable appeal”. Isn’t that part of the lyrics to Top Cat? Anyway Bruno asks Anton if he’s sure he can afford Katie’s services and he’s all
“HA HA MARVELOUS HOW MUCH IS A BOTTLE OF WHITE LIGHTNING?”. Bruno loves how the routine showed off her legs and thought she danced circles around Anton but maybe her hooks could have been a little bit sharper. She does state though that she was snorting some of the best lines he’s ev…sorry SPORTING some of the best lines he’s ever seen. And Bruno knows good lines. Craig’s next and says he agrees with Bruno about the ganchos – Katie really needs to bounce off Anton’s inner thighs.
Neither of them look over keen do they? Oh and also she was picking her feet up too much and she was wobbly out of the spins and she wasn’t really following Anton’s lead particularly well (she’d have to find it first) and so on and so on. Other than that, great!
Tess next asks Darcey if Katie’s legs will take her all the way to the quarterfinals and Darcey says she thinks so. Personally I think there’s always a possiblity you might have to stick her in a wheelbarrow, but ok. Darcey then rambles on about how it’s really hard in Argentine Tango for the woman to feel really in control but she thinks that the clarity wasn’t there (there’s irony for you coming from Darcey), because Katie is never properly still – she’s always shaking or trembling a little. Len’s last and says it was a good dance, but for him the hold was wrong and it didn’t transport him to the quaysides of Buenos Aires. I mean it can be arranged…Anyway one person boos, a bit, really more of a mumur to be honest, and then Len gives it the whole “I SAID IT WAS GOOD YOU TWAT, WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM MUG, I SHOULDDA BROUGHT A HARD HIT WIMMEE YA PACK OF JUMPED UP OIKS!”
Oh it’s one of those evenings is it? Joy.
Up to Claud 9 they vamp, where Claudia reveals that Katie signed up for the entire show just so she could do the Argentine Tango. Well it is now that the samba has been exorcised from the line-up Anton’s put on the menu. Katie says she had such fun dancing it, and Claudia asks Anton if he ever thought he’d ever stay in a competition long enough to do the Argentine Tango. Given that since it’s been unchained from the semis in Series 8, Anton has only been eliminated twice before the first AT of the series, I think the thought might have crossed his mind. That he might ever stay in long enough to not be able to dodge it on the other hand… Scores are in
Helen George & Aljaz Skorjanec dancing the Viennese Waltz
Tess tells us that the story of Helen’s Viennese Waltz is that of a woman missing her long lost partner. This drives her to call up The Sun and tell them all Strictly is fixed coz Aliona got a good partn…oh no, wait, sorry. Never mind, got my wires crossed. Tess mithers that she hopes this doesn’t mean that Aljaz is still stuck in Blackpool. I’d put my money more on Helen being stuck in Blackpool and this being a clone – she seems much more together than usual.
In her VT, Helen tells us that her Blackpool Experience was incredible but
I’m too busy trying to scry her jumper for coded messages. I think I can just about make out “HELP! REINDEER GHOSTS ARE TRYING TO KILL ME!. She does think though that it’s a shame that, given that the dance she did there was so theatrical, she didn’t impress Craig more, and she’s embarassed that it made her so emotional. Well we all know what this show does with embarassing moments that the contestants never want to see again right?
Training now and Aljaz says that this week he and Helen have the Viennese Waltz, and he thinks they have a lot of work to do because the judges are looking for perfection from them. Helen giggles “NO PRESSURE THEN!” and
oh God hide the knives. Aljaz says he’s choreographed a very traditional Viennese Waltz with all the usual moves and Helen sighs that she just wants to get it right for him, because it breaks her heart when she sees his little face looking disappointed when she can’t get the hold right. Aljaz’s disappointed face looks
positively Cro-Magnon by the way. There’s also a lot of huffing and puffing about how this is a diffcult week for her and how she’s totally lost all her confidence, which is how you can tell it’s going to be good YOU’RE NOT FOOLING ME SHOW, NOT FOR A MINUTE.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
What a trumpet. The idea behind this routine is that it is the olden days of grammophone records and War Widow Helen is putting on an old record (“At Last”) that reminds her of her lost love. I’d just like to take a moment here to appreciate the subtle transition in Helen’s face between “happy wistful” and “melancholy wistful”
Truly it is one of the greatest slices of melodrama I have ever seen on this show. It’s so deliciously and overwhelmingly hammy that I can practically feel it giving me bowel cancer as I watch it. Then Aljaz appears, out the musical trumpet of history and
offers her his hand for a Viennese Waltz which
she takes before
nuzzling his face like a happy puppy. If they had just fallen on the floor and thrashed around like dying otters from this point onwards I would have given this a 10 for the intro alone. What a composition. I don’t think there’s ever been a better intro to a dance in the history of this show to be honest. They should hang this in the Louvre. Fortunately the Viennese Waltz is almost as good once it starts (following a visual transition into colour HOW SYMBOLIC!) moving around the floor quickly and gracefully and without a fault to be seen, with delicious little moments of ornamentation and embellishment scattered liberally but not overbearingly throughout, culminating in a gorgeous
just barely touching the floor spin to close. At the end
they walk off together. That opening though. What a dance.
It gets a “standing ovation” and once they’re over at Tess, she purrs that that gave her goosebumps and was technically perfect from where she was standing. Behind her pillar. She asks Craig if that was better than last week, and Craig says yes it was – a lot better. “A lot better” being worth…one extra mark apparently. He loved her rotation and her movement and her storytelling all. Darcey follows and says it was like “being in your dream” and…probably not one of Helen’s dreams Darcey. A lot less DARKNESS AND DEATH AND LIGHTNING BOLTS AND WITCHES AND UNSTOPPABLE CLONE ARMIES. She then says that it was close to perfection and
that’s Helen destiny fulfilled right there.
Len’s next and yells “TICKLE MY BUM AND CALL ME DONALD!”. No. He goes on to say that dance is a marriage between “movement” and “music”. Also occasionally “ham” and “cheese” and as this is Aljaz also “bun”. To think this show featured a polyamorous marriage before a gay one FOR SURE. Bruno closes by rhapsodising the sweeping lightness of it all. He thought Helen looked weightless and that this was her breakthrough dance. I can’t believe nobody punned off “AT LAST!” there. They’re slacking.
Up to Claud 9 she ascends, where Claudia reminds her that her hero just called her “a treasure to watch” and “near perfection” and Helen sighs that she’s going to faint. I may have started chanting “FAINT FAINT FAINT FAINT FAINT FAINT FAINT!” in my living room at this point, I’m not proud. Claudia tells her that if she’s going to faint can she please go and do it somewhere else (<3) and then tells Helen that she's had a very emotional week. Helen agrees and goes on to say that tonight she "got very emotional down there". She's referring to the dance-floor. I think. Anyway then she blathers some more about how
embarassing she's being (what's fun for this segment is to watch how unimpressed Georgia is with this whole spectacle throughout, I don't think they have the finer emotions in the norf). Aljaz then talks about how proud he is of Helen and then Claudia comes crashing in with "HELEN, YOU'VE NOT HAD A 10 YET HAVE YOU???". She might as well have closed that sentence by yelling
"WELL SUCK ON THESE BAD BOYS!" mightn't she? 39
Jay McGuiness & Aliona Vilani dancing the tango
So we’re halfway through the show and therefore it’s time for Claudia’s comedic interlude.
Can you give those back to Helen please Claudia, I hear that she’s lost them. The joke here is that Claudia is spreading her marbles on the dancefloor in order to make the Quickstepathon more interesting, which would make more sense if it wasn’t still 30 minutes and three more performances away. I guess it at least gives Jay fans yet another chance to yell sabotage. Oh and the fact that Claudia’s hands are out of shot for most of the skit makes it look a bit like she’s firing the marbles Singapore Style.
If that’s what you’re into.
VT time and Jay talks about how well his salsa went, how glad he was that Craig gave him recognition for his acting, and how he hopes this is a proper breakthrough and not just a blip. I have to admit, I’m finding it hard to pay attention because this is all being said overlaying footage from his salsa from last week in which we can see the audience and somehow every single one of them, every single person crammed into the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, is waving their arms about out of time with the music, all in a completely different way. It’s horrific. It’s like they’re being watched by an epileptic sea anenome. Why are people trying to wave their arms to Cuba?
Training now, and it’s an insight into the creative process behind every Jay McGuiness joint – first Aliona gets the music, then she works out the choreography, then she shows Jay his part of the choreography with him copying her as her shadow
a few steps behind, then she morphs back into her part of the dance to stick the two together and work out the kinks. THEN THE GHOST OF NANCY DELL’OLIO FLIES THROUGH THE WINDOW AND SAYS WE’VE GOT TO GO BACK JAY, WE’VE GOT TO GO BACK TO THE FUTURE! (What? It’s a normal training VT, how am I supposed to augment it? “Jay really likes the song “When Doves Cry” “?)
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
I’m not sure any pro before has had the task of rising to the challenge of outdancing TWO iconic routines done to the same piece of music, so it’s no surprise to see Aliona
at her most orgasmic right from the off. We’re talking flaming braziers, we’re talking cherry lipstick, we’re talking
crimson corstetry. Those of us who have followed Aliona from way back know that in at least one routine per series she will be pretending to be a vampire, and this is clearly that one. They may have taken away her Hallowe’en Week but they’ll NEVER TAKE HER FREEDOM (to overdo the powder-effect spackle make-up). In reality the routine is somewhere between the cold chilly terrifying technical perfection of Rachel’s Argentine and the throaty blood-soaked melodrama of Kimberley’s and as such either a perfect combination of both or a slightly lacking falling short of the heights of either. Or you’ve never seen either of those routines, have no idea what I’m wittering about, and are judging it on its own merits which are manifold. I think my own personal favourite part is when, just over a minute in, they play with just how sloooooooooooowly they can move whilst still keeping in perfect keeping and timing with the music. It’s proper Matrix bullet-time stuff, and a more subtle kind of flashy than you normally see on this show. Although there are plenty of head-flicky, quick-turning, staccato bits as well if that’s more your speed. The only bit I’m not really huge on is a bit near the end when he goes full
Ministry Of Silly Walks into a high kick but otherwise? Spot on
AND BACK TO THE CRYPT SHE GOES!
It gets a “standing ovation” and rapturous applause and then we would go to Darcey to comment first but
it appears she’s burnt her mouth on some soup, so we can’t, what a pity. Len breaks in to the gap, saying that Jay sadly missed one or two heel leads
the audience boo at this point and Len gets all snarly “SORRY THAT I CARE ABOUT FOOTWORK” about it, but then relents and calls it a “mango of a tango”. Hasn’t something this series already been a “mango of a tango”? Let me check the spreadsheets…yes, ok, apparently it was Katie’s. I guess that just got downgraded to a satsuma. Maybe a kumquat.
Bruno’s next and
activates the ovary voters immediately, calling Jay macho, strong, compelling, focused and brilliant before Tess asks Craig what he thought of Jay’s tango face. Happily, Craig is still awkwardly fleeing from that particular crime of a storyline like a burglar with a guard dog humping its leg, so he completely ignores her and says that what he really loves about Jay is that he hears the music and really does everything exactly to the beat. (He also wasn’t particularly fond of the big kick at the end though).
Up to Claud 9 they scuttle, where Claudia delves further into the training process of Team Jaliona by saying that she hears that Aliona doesn’t let Jay listen to their song at all for the first two days. Aliona clarifies that it’s only one day but yes, she wants him to get the moves down first before attaching them to music. Jay meanwhile
stares vacantly and cheerfully at Claudia like a Parks & Rec character, before managing to get through a brief one line interview (“I liked the song and the choreography was hard”), just about without saying sorry. Although his voice does crack like a 13 year old on “hard”. Bless. Scores are in
38. COZ LEN DONE CARE ABOUT DA FEET AND THAT WHAT YOU LOOKING AT HIM LIKE THAT FOR YOU PACK OF…GURTCHA GET ON WITH YOURSELF HE’S ONLY AN OLD LEN LEAVE HIM ALONE. And etc. Oh and in yet more post-scoring news, Jay reaches out to squeeze Tristan’s face as their number’s read out.
Which isn’t that funny except for how
Natalie gets the wrong end of the stick.
Peter Andre & Janette Manrara dancing the American Smooth
Now there’s some smiles that aren’t quite reaching the eyes. Or in his case even the mouth. Tess tells us that their American Smooth will be set in a bakery, because even in this, the ALL TRAINING, PROP-LIGHT Week Peter’s dance needs more propping up than Katie Derham after a night dowwn Oddbins. Unfortunately for Peter, Tess has
nicked his cupcakes. So greedy. Although if that guy on the left is looking for some muffins to nibble on…
In his VT Peter tells us very solemnly, regarding his Blackpool jive that “let’s make no mistake – I deserved to be in that Bottom 2”. I like that he says this like anyone is saying otherwise. You deserved to go home mate.
We’re also reminded that when Peter was called as being in danger, he gestured to the crowd to calm down because it was all ok and he was fine about it, don’t kick off on his behalf.
I love how Peter is perpetually talking to an audience that’s a lot more in favour of him than the one that actually exists. He tells us that he went out there and really enjoyed the dance-off performance (you were the only one love) and that “you have to understand that there will be highs and lows”. I do understand that yes Peter, don’t worry, that crappy jive didn’t shake my otherwise rock-solid view of you as dancing perfection, trust me.
Training now and
lots of lingering shots of Janette mulling over her frothy coffee and saying that she and Peter might have had a rough week in Blackpool, but she’s determined to bounce back. I do feel a bit sorry for Janette in the middle of all of this. If you’d told me after that Week 1 blitz that Peter wouldn’t even have make it into December I would have been…well, pleased mostly. But also a little surprised, especially given this year’s transparently flimsy male line-up. Anywho, Janette pulls a whole display case of cupcakes out from under the table and tells Peter that he can have some if he trains hard for the American Smooth and Quickstepathon. This is admittedly a much more tempting bribe than “get me to the final and I’ll sing at your wedding”. Peter and Janette then train and he talks a bit about how he’s feeling that his confidence has been knocked a bit after last week. Oh well.
TO THE BAKERY!
This is just begging for a Luisa Zissman cameo isn’t it? Peter polishes up his display and then Janette walks in, a pretty young lady who Peter has a
very subtle crush on. She doesn’t seem too into it until he gives her
free food, then she’s all his. I presume Aljaz is taking notes. Janette is clearly anybody’s for a bit of extra frosting. They’re doing the American Smooth to “I Get The Sweetest Feeling” (coz it is set in a BAKERY where they make CAKES and cakes are SWEET) and after he plonks the cake down in the most awkward baton change since the British 4x100m relay team, in which his fingers are literally
pawing the air like Wile E Coyote running off a cliff, they get going and the problem is pretty much exactly as you’d expect. As much as I’m sure he’d like to think he’s capable of it, Peter Andre is not smooth (good luck with that swing album!). Even next to Janette, who is probably the least naturally debonair of the female pros apart from maybe Karen
he stands out as being stiff, blocky, choppy and to be honest
not a little bit pained. I think asking Peter to do anything and make it look effortless was always going to be a stretch. The end-pose really is the most obvious case in point. At the end Peter walks her over to the table, and they sit down, and she bips him on the nose. Then he’s all “DID YOU PUT CAKE ON MY NOSE?” and she
does it, and then he’s all “SO YOU ACTUALLY DID IT IN THE END!!!”. Yes, because you just told her to. Spontaneity is dead and its mausoleum is Peter Andre.
It gets a “”standing ovation”” and up on Claud 9 it really does look like Anton is mouthing
“awful” to Katie out of the corner of his mouth. Yeah, that really didn’t seem like Anton’s speed at all. He then of course breaks into a big smile and claps and woops along with everyone else. Oh Anton. It’s the greatest “oops am I on camera?” of the week until
Bruno gets caught digging for nose-gold a few minutes later. Once they reach Tess, Peter says that Janette’s been great all week (I bet she has, the end is in sight) and Len starts by saying that there’s two things ladies love : cupcakes and Peter Andre.
He liked the performance and the joy of it all, the technique…not so much. Bruno’s next and says it was all so sweet that he got a sugar rush. I mean this is clearly a lie, he’s still got his clothes on. Other than that he’s with Len though – he thinks it was a fun performance but about as smooth and well put together as the bottom half of Craig’s face.
Craig’s next and his biggest critique is that Peter didn’t put the cupcake down elegantly enough. Seriously. This goes on for a good 15-20 seconds of audience booing and Darcey pulling faces and Craig resolutely defending his devotion to proper cupcake handling. It’s quite something. Tess then asks Darcey if that routine was better than last week. She says that it was. Yes, what a mountainous hurdle to vault. She tells Peter that she knows how hard it is to come out of a dance-off (does she? Is that how they decided places at the Royal Ballet?) and that she can see all the effort he put in and how hard he worked. In places…a little too much effort, as he looked more careful and tense and less relaxed than usual.
Up to Claud 9 they go, where Claudia hands Peter a tissue to sort his nose out (Bruno could have done with one a minute ago to be honest) and Peter tells us that this is the most nervous he’s ever been in his life ever. More nervous than when Jordan revealed her secret diamond mine for the first time? Give over. Janette then talks about the fine line the pros all walk between pushing the celebs really hard and being positive enough that they don’t get discouraged. A line Natalie Lowe lambada’s all over in a JCB. (EVERYTHING’S AMYOZING!). Regardless, Janette thinks she got the mix exactly right this week.
Not so much – 31
Anita Rani & Gleb Savchenko dancing the rumba
So if you’re wondering where it all went wrong this week I’d start with them not doing their usual super-intense gaywad regional theatre stare-down to start. Kind of gives away that she’s not that into it. Tess tells us that this week these two are ddoing the Dance Of Love, and as Gleb is such a stern taskmaster (they decided 2 weeks ago after mandatory Regional Stereotype Training) he made Anita practice all the sauciest moves over and over and over again until she got them right.
He really is the most Johnny Bravo person ever to do this show isn’t he?
In her VT, Anita calls her paso an “out-of-body” experience. I mean, a lot of it looked like an
“in-my-body” experience to me, but she’s the one who danced it, so I guess she’d know. She remenisces about the standing ovation and the 10 from Darcey, but goes on to say that everyone left in the competition now is a good dancer, so the pressure’s really on. Gleb’s reaction?
“performing in that place was really awesome” (psst, it’s called “Blackpool”).
Training and Anita has
an attack of the sexy tummy-aches, because it’s Rumba Week! She tells us that it’s very different from the paso because she has to be sensual and sexual. Whatever Anita, do not try to tell me you weren’t feeling your oats in the middle of that paso, it was written all over your face. And other parts. Gleb meanwhile is being his usual charming self, barking “MAKE IT PRETTY, NOT UGLY!” as Anita tries a particularly erotic writhe right in his face. I used to have boyfriends like that.
Not so much like that. Gleb tells us all that the rumba is the most sexual of all the dances (clearly he’s never seen what Nancy Dell’Olio did with/to the salsa) (also I have to say that in my opinion the most erotic dance-genre is the “anything involving Pasha”) and that Anita needs to let it go. What she needs to let go he doesn’t say. Anyway, Anita goes on about how she’s never seen herself as “that kind of woman” (ie a ho-bag) but she hopes she can tap into the energy on Saturday Night.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
I have to say, as distraction tactics go “a giant copy of Jane Austen’s Persuasion” is the last thing I was expecting from Gleb. Clearly he is a man of myriad depths and surprises.
They’re dancing to “Read All About It” (coz of da massive BOOK coz a BOOK is a thing that you READ with your EYES in your FACE) Anita emerges from behind the book and then it all gets even sillier. I can’t quite decide if she’s dancing it like she’s taking the piss out of the choreography or if it is genuinely impossible to dance this choreography without looking like you’re taking the piss out of it. It’s a lot of
boss-eyed reaching and
this which looks like he’s passing her entire body through a hula hoop made of his arms and
this lift, which I’ve not seen since the heady days of HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NEW YORRRRRRRRRK. Which as regular readers will know, is not a compliment. Whatever the reasons, Anita is overdoing every minute of it and making it look even more ridiculous, and it doesn’t help that I’m expecting her to get garrotted by her own dress at any moment. I think that Gleb’s done a fine job so far of bringing a new choreographical flavour to the show without straying so far from the familiar as to be unrecognisable but this is just naff, and what’s worse is that you can kind of tell that she thinks it’s naff, and her hips and legs are doing absolutely nothing throughout.
Of course Persuasion famously ends with someone being blindfolded. I feel slightly envious.
Still, it gets a massive “standing ovation” with lots of whooping and hollering, and when they get over to Tess, the latter squeaks that she bets all the viewers’ tv dinners just went flying off their laps. Tess’ contempt for her audience not at all in evidence there. Bruno starts for the judges saying that that truly was a classic tale of endless love unfolding right before his eyes.
No greater love hath a man than a Gleb for his Gleb. Bruno thought it was so soft and rounded and high and ti…wait what was he talking about again? Oh yes, the dance. He congratulates Anita on being less angular than she came into the competition being but thinks she could have done more with her hips. Craig’s next and says he absolutely disagrees with Bruno – it was angular, and all too spiky and aggressive, although he loved the “contemporary feel”. Do you mean you like that Gleb was wearing a billoughy white see-through top Craig, yes I think you do. Anyway, he thinks that she could have done with pushing down into the floor more, but in terms of performance he now thinks she’s a really fine actress. I guess anyone who could keep even half a straight face through that nonsense does deserve at least a sniff at a BAFTA yes.
Darcey next, and we all yet again go on and on about how hard rumba is. She thinks that Anita gave a really comitted performance but that there were little things missing, technically. Like the rumba maybe? Len’s next and
oh christ we’re off. I DUN’T LIKE IT I’M ONLY TELLIN THE TRUTH GORR BLIMEY I’M NOT HERE TO BLABBER ON AND WHAT WAS THAT BLEEDIN ILLEGAL LIFT WHAT STOP BOOING WHAATCHOO WANT ME TO SAY THAT HE INT DAHN A LIFT YA STUPID…SORRY I MEAN I’M ONLY OLD LEN GURTCHA FROO DA LEGS WOSS THAT ABAHTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT WHERE’S THE BASIC RUMBA PICKUW ME NANNA’S KNICKER ELASTIC ME OLD CHINA HOO HOO CALM DOWN DO NOT PRICK ME I’M AN OLD MAN RESPECT YER ELDERS ONLY OLD LEN CUP OF HOT MILKY TEA IN A WORLD OF WAFTY STOOPID FAHCKIN CHATTY LARTAYS BUNCH OF OLD TOOT WHERE’S ME WASHBOARD RIGHT I’M LEAVING BLAHDDY FORRINS CAHMIN OVER HERE WITH THEIR FILTHY DIRTY BALLY WOSSNAMES OLD LEN WORRRGH GURTCHA MY OLD SON WHY CAN’T YA JUST CAHMMMMMMMM AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHT.
Please bear in mind that we’ve still got Aliona’s rumba to go, potentially. I really think this could be the year he breaks,
Up to Claud 9 they waggle, where Anita is quickly told by Claudia that Jay was shouting “amazing” at the end. Jay adorably nods like an ickle puppy to confirm this. She also says that all the pros up there agree that that was a great rumba. Anton…tactically shuffles to hide behind Natalie. Anita says that she and Gleb knew they were taking a risk with the choreography, but she thinks the words to the song are very appropriate because she feels like she’s really finding a voice she never knew she had via Gleb. She thanks him for this and then he actually
pats her on the head. Oh Gleb. Scores are in
Georgia May Foote & Giovanni Pernice dancing the paso doble
Do we think that’s what he was wearing when Jason Gilkison found him wandering Soho? Tess reminds us that for the last two weeks Georgia has scored 10s and topped the leaderboard, and that in the COUNTDOWN to the FINAL, both of them are desperate to be on top again. Not dressed like that he isn’t…
In her VT Georgia says that last weekend was amazing and it was great dancing in the Tower Ballroom wearing her grandma’s jewelry and her grandma was there and that was great and she got two tens and it was amazing and then a man came and he had a dog and he let Georgia pet the dog and then they had ice creams and fish and chips and her mummy and daddy let her stay up until 10 o clock and that is what Georgia did on her holidays.
In training, we’re right into Giovanni singing again, as he warbles to Georgia that they will be dancing to THE FINAL COUNTDOWN! Georgia says that this is appropriate as this is indeed the Final Countdown. No Georgia, the Final Countdown was when security failed to stop Caroline Flack getting into the studio and she went mental on Numbers Bitch with a screwdriver she’d hidden in her bra. It’s nothing but re-runs of Celebrity Come Dine With Me all day on Channel 4 now. Giovanni tells us all that to do paso doble you need to be “really bad boy”. Jesus, between this and the leather-twink get-up all the subtlty’s gone here isn’t it? This is a BBC 1 Saturday Tea Time reality show, not your grindr profile Joe. Anyway, of course, Georgia can’t do paso because she’s really really nice, like we didn’t see her all in the rumba looking like actual Girl Satan. Giovanni says that he’s really struggling to get her to do the appropriate frowny face until he asks her to do two digit multiplication in her head
see? Easy. Georgia then clarifies that she and Giovanni are like brother and sister, like ANYBODY IN THE WORLD thinks these two are shagging. Seriously.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
So yeah, Rock Paso, with Joe Varney on drums. Despite his portestations, I think we all knew that as soon as Georgia got the eyeliner and purple lippy on she’d be
perfectly fine playing the bitch. It’s a very skirt swishy paso indeed, and actually the fact that the skirt/cape that she’s wearing is tattered and black lends a quite cool
almost fractal effect to a lot of the shapes she’s making with it. As you’d expect from Georgia, it’s a fast and furious paso, with not a lot in hold or a lot that really requires complete tension through her body, but the pair of them are doing a really good job of performing a rock paso without it getting too campy or Las Vegas and there’s a lot of energy and attack to the whole thing. The only really unfortunate moments are when she’s required to move swiftly forwards or backwards in a straight line whilst gathering her skirt and her tippy tippy tippy starts to resemble no less a dance luminary than Porky Pig. It happens at least three times and it’s never less than unfortunately hilarious. It ends, as all pasos must with the lady
dead on the floor. As she gets up Giovanni barks “STAY!” at her, in a mickey-take of Gleb’s theatrics from last week. Although if you rewind a few more seconds, you can see another tribute to Gleb’s choreography of last week.
It gets a “standing ovation” and Craig starts for the judges by saying that it was a very dynamic routine, but he did miss the full Spanish Line that would have been created if she’d properly pushed her shoulders back. Darcey’s next and says she feels like Georgia takes too much on through the shoulders, but otherwise that was fabulous. Oh are we rushing again? Len follows by saying that it was brave to start on her own and there was a lot of energy, but it was all too aggressive for him and there was too much skirt wafting, then Bruno closes by yelling that she’s a POCKET ROCKET! Yup definitely rushing.
Up to Claud 9 they rocket, which is already looking a bit deserted pre-Quickstepathon. Georgia says she’s exhausted, and then scores are in
33. It does occur to me that often the reason one of the best dances of the night goes in the Pimp Slot is that if we’re running over the judges can just go “WOO YEAH GREAT” to catch up.
NOT FINAL LEADER BOARD?
NOW LET’S GET READY!
Claudia promises that this is going to be our most difficult “-athon” ever, and well it might be with SEVEN WHOLE POINTS on the line WOWIE. Although they really should define “difficult” as from what I can remember Susanna Reid didn’t even survive 5 seconds of the Series 11 swingathon. Fortunately, Len is here to help explain via the medium of VT just how it’s going to work.
Rule 1 – HEY TRISTAN, HOW MANY DANCE-OFFS HAVE YOU BEEN IN NOW?
That’s right. It’s also the number of couples who will be taking to the floor in this year’s Quickstepathon. All couples have drawn their starting positions out of a hat, so everything is fair and square underline this bit for emphasis after the last we…oops.
Rule 2 – All the couples must stay in hold for the full 90 seconds of the Quickstepathon, and all seven couples will compete for the full time period allotted. There will be no lifts, and they also must stay within the boundaries of the ballroom. If they stray over the marked edges…
sorry Pasha, no, no, you’re right, this isn’t the time. *collects* *rezips*
Rule 3 – Participants will be judges based on hold, footwork, floorcraft, and just how badly we need Peter Andre to be in the dance-off to make all the bad headlines go away
Rule 4 –
Bitchez be craycray. Even so, try not to hit one another too hard.
Rule 5 – Ola being suspended means you’re all guaranteed new contracts for next series.
HOORAY! Also winners receive 7 points, runners-up 6, and so on down to 1 point for last place. Len says this has the potential to turn the leaderboard upside down but…Helen is already 8 points ahead of both Peter and Anita so not so much. Nice thought though. Things meaning stuff.
TO THE ARENA!
Those about to die in the pursuit of Saturday Night Entertainment, we salute you. As usual it’s very hard to tell what’s going on with the quickstepathon as the cameras are flying all over the place and some people are wearing much more eye-catching colours than other, but I’ll give it a go :
Anita & Gleb – quite flashy – are the only ones to tease a start out of hold before sliding into it just in time, Gleb quite forcefully tries to poke Katie & Anton into a corner early on, repeat quite a few of the brassier moves from their earlier routine including the running jete and that jazzy move Anton taught him
Georgia & Giovanni – as has been said before about these two very nippeh. Seem to deploy the best floorcraft in that they always seem to have the most space around them, and move assuredly into some if it opens up. There’s a couple of occasions in particular where they could really put a hurting on Peter but don’t, which gets them bonus points from a technical standpoint if not in terms of my viewing pleasure
Helen & Aljaz – seem to put on the most assured performance in that both of them look serene and together throughout. Other than that I think they feature the least on camera out of everyone which is…unfortunate given that they y’know, win.
Jay & Aliona – fast and furious and deploying the twirling pivots as an aggressive weapon so frequently they start to like like one of the spinning combatants from Robot Wars. Definitely the most eye-catching couple in the whole thing and oddly enough given that he’s not the pro, one of the more assured in putting pressure on the other couples.
Katie & Anton – mostly play it safe, keeping to fairly simple elegant technique and trying to stay out of everyone else’s way…until the last 15 seconds when he makes a powerplay on Giovanni before almost going out of control completely into Peter as the music stops. Maybe it was supposed to be a flourish or something, I don’t know.
Kellie & Kevin – seem to vary between just skipping around the edge of the dancefloor without much variety to the steps and getting wedged for ages somewhere in the middle hopping frantically on the spot. Kind of confirm my opinion that there wasn’t an awful lot to her routine last week.
Peter & Janette – oh dear… I think he’s just glad to get to the other end of the routine alive to be honest with you. Plodding, awkward hold, lots of moments dancing on the spot, looks insanely uncomfortable as soon as anyone goes near him, a fact which the other male pros play on mercilessly
All that said, can you imgine any other final 7 doing this so smoothly, no you can’t. Imagine Lisa Riley and Michael Vaughan right in the middle of this, it doesn’t bear thinking about.
Our judges convene, by which I mean
the grown-ups discuss who’s won and lost whilst Bruno blathers on explaining what they’re doing. It’s all very complicated apparently, although as Claudia points out, not so complicated that we’re suddenly not on live tv love, so get a jog on. Craig then breaks in to say that he gives particular congratulations to the male celebrities for having to lead through that. Peter then applauds Craig saying how hard he had it out there. Oh Peter. Anyway, the order then :
7th – Peter & Janette (Peter is FINE with this guys, it’s FINE, don’t boo the peop…oh wait you’re not)
6th – Kellie & Kevin (Kevin
clenching his jaw so hard that he briefly develops cheekbones and clapping so sarcastically hard I think he breaks his mic)
5th – Jay & Aliona
4th – Anita & Gleb
3rd – Katie & Anton
2nd – Georgiaa & “Jervada”
1st – Helen & Aljaz
Well from what I saw the bottom 2 are right and who knows about the rest? Anton…possibly got a little lucky there and looks like he knows it but other than that
it’s done wonders for the Leaderboard.