Here comes the judge…
We start our first show of the series with a little montage of all the contestants delivering little self-help mantras to themselves as they go about their daily lives about facing their fears, believing in themselves, embracing their inner diva and learning to love themselves, just as they are. Also maybe some stuff about learning to dance. I think it was somewhere towards the end. This montage also serves as our first bit of brand building for the series.
LOUISE IS A MUM! (and toast thief)
CLAUDIA IS A DAUGHTER!
NAGA IS BUSY BUSY BUSY!
DANNY IS A MIRROR HOG!
ED BALLS IS THE WORLD’S MOST GORMLESS HUMAN BEING!
GREG, LESLEY, LAURA AND ANASTACIA ARE LAUNCHING A NEW RANGE OF STRICTLY SUNGLASSES! WHICH FAB-YEW-LUSS FRAMES FIT YOUR FACE?
WILL IS TURNING INTO MATTHEW KELLY BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES!
So, after that, our first order of business here is obviously, who is this season’s “HO”? Which is to say which contestant is it who is visible on screen during the opening credits when the backing singers shout “HO!”, not which contestant it is who’s going to be papped by The Daily Star at 4am coming out of one of the pro’s hotel rooms with a bit of jizz dribbling out the corner of their mouth. RINDER. (“It was cake icing! We were enjoying Bake Off and cake what of it?”). And this year your two options are
Balls and Louise.
That decided (and don’t worry, we will be discussing the opening credits this year in more detail as the series goes on, I’m pacing myself), the band strike up and Tess and Claudia descend the staircase, accompanied by Anton and Brenda, as our two oldest hands on the show. You put in all those hours and all those years and what do you get? The odd 4th placer thrown to you and Tess Daly’s talons gripping onto your arm as you guide her down a flight of stairs. Once safely grounded, Tess’n’Claud remind us of the premise of Strictly Week 1 these days. 6 celebrities dance tonight, 9 celebrities dance tomorrow, and there are no eliminations. Particularly in the case of the men – they’ll just have to wait until Vicky Gill cuts them out of their trousers at the aftershow party with the Jaws Of Life, she’s not sewing them back into those trousers again. Despite this lack of jeopardy, the scores will roll over to next week, so we still need judges.
No we do. Honestly. Look at them all lining up for your vote for Head Judge 2017. IT’S THEM OR ANTON, MAKE YOUR CHOICE WISELY BRITAIN!
Like night follows day, It Takes Two follows Eggheads, and a period of intense gastrointestinal distress follows looking at James Jordan’s twitter feed, the judges entrance is followed by that of the contestants. Of particular note is Will and Karen doing a little skit at the top of the stairs wherein he can’t find the audience and Karen has to point them out to him.
I need them to stop this before I resort to a “no Will, it’s your CAREER that’s behind you, not your fans” joke. Irritation makes me mean like that.
Laura Whitmore & Giovanni Pernice dancing the cha cha
CelebrityWatch for these two yields Stacy Solomon and Joe Swash. I guess this is what happens when you invite…ITV2 people onto the show, like we didn’t all learn our lesson in Series 12. WHERE’S BENEDICT CABBAGEPATCH? WHERE’S GORDON BROWN? WHERE’S THE ENTIRE GB MEN’S GYMNASTICS TEAM WITH THEIR TOPS OFF? Come on guys, let’s start calling in some favours here. Tess tells us that Laura is doing her cha cha to Venus and hoping the judges go “Bananaramas” for it. Personally I’m hoping for more of the original flavour of the song and for the judges to go Shocking Blue, by which I mean I want Bruno to yell “BULLSHIT!” or “BOLLOCKS!” again, because I always want that.
VT time, and Tess reminds us that Laura has stood near some of the biggest names in showbiz, gamely yelling questions about Justin Bieber and 5th Harmony at them, as they desperately try to look for someone from the BBC to talk to instead. She’s excited, she’s nervous, she
can fit her entire fist inside her gob probably, and she’s partnered with Giovanni. Laura tells us that “obviously” Giovanni is a “gorgeous Italian stallion”
but she’s quite feisty, so she’s sure there will be some fights between them. By the looks of it
the sort of fights that involve a lot of hitting one another with pillows, tickling, and which finish with one person pinning the other to the floor, breathing heavily, hovering just 5 cms or so away from their lips. Because so far this feels like an own-brand sequel to “How To Be Single”.
Training and Laura tells us that it feels like being in the movie Fame. Or to a lesser extent, the tv show, which was also called Fame. Presumably mostly the part where she has to yell at people to remember her name (“LAURA! WHITMORE! I’M A CONTESTANT! NO, I AM, I’M FROM THE MTV, NOW LET ME IN THE STUDIO! OK FINE, I’LL CALL GIOVANNI TO VOUCH FOR ME!”). She and Giovanni practice
this move a lot, and then her storyline is this :
Giovanni : The dance is good so far, but there’s a very important part we need to work on!
Laura : What’s that?
Giovanni : The arms need to be better and more authentically cha cha.
Laura : I used to do Irish dance as a teenager.
Giovanni : OK TEACH ME THE IRISH DANCE!
Doesn’t make any sense whatsoever does it? It’s almost as though the editors just made sure they’d got a few shots like this
in there, and completely forgot the rest had to make sense right?
TO THE MUSEUM!
Ah Venus and Adonis! The story of the sex goddess and the child of incest who wasn’t that into her and got killed by a pig. A love story for the ages! Fortunately for us, this is just the story of some statues of them coming to life and doing a cha cha, so we don’t have to deal with the…less salubrious aspects of that particular myth. Having worked the pole in their VT, Giovanni and Laura do a bit of podium work to start off with here, before Giovanni LEAPS off the stage and they take to the floor. Can the pros not think of new ways to get the party started beyond jumping off things? So far as the dance goes it’s very much a wk 1 cha cha – she looks like she’s enjoying it, but her fringing is doing more of the heavy lifting for the dance than she is, and her isolations
look more like she’s doing the Funky Chicken. (I’m also very distracted by whoever’s decided to staple-gun Giovanni’s shirt to his trousers.) Also, they probably should have worked more on her legs than her arms in that VT (not that they actually worked on either) because whilst the latter are a little flyaway they’re better than her lower portion stomping around like…well I was at a wedding this weekend, so imagine that. With less hairy calves. Thankfully they do more or less succesfully pull this off
so those hours of training weren’t completely wasted.
As the pair of them reach Tess, and start to get their breath back, it’s time to introduce our singers, Davearch, His Wunnerful Wunnerful Orchestra and
The Man In The Hat Under The Stairs. Getting his one outing a year before Davearch jealously shoves his star power back under a bushel. Once they’re done, Tess asks Laura if that was nerve-wracking, and she says it was, particularly the part where she caught Craig’s eye and had to force herself not to smile and wave. I love Craig’s Strictly evolution from fighting contestants’ husbands in car parks in the middle of Series 4 to now, where contestants want to go “cooee!” mid routine. What a neutering.
Len starts by saying that the routine was fun and had plenty of content, but she lost timing and her legs were too bent. Which is all very subdued and sensible, so of course Bruno follows this up by pursing his lips and screaming that he
NEEDS A FIRE EXTINGUISHER! before flapping his arms around randomly and telling Laura that she’s a “kipper”. (I think he means “keeper”. But it is Bruno.) See, NOW the party is started.
Craig’s next, and says that her shoulders were too hunched and she danced the whole thing on bent legs. When the audience boos, he drones “I’m only agreeing with Len dahlings!”. I’m telling you now, I do not need a whole series of Craig copying Len to try to look more Head Judgey. Not at all. But, he goes on to say, on the other hand she had clean turns and “looks nice”. Darcey closes by saying that Laura was sweet & sassy, but lost personality at the end of the dance. No, she was turning back into a statue Darce, keep up, it’s not hard. If you found that storyline hard to follow just wait for Ore…
Up to Claud 9 they go, where Laura immediately protests that she was so nervous she couldn’t even feel her legs, so that anything at all was going on down there, bent or straight, is a miracle. She had become more fringe than woman. Claudia tells her that she can at least spend the next two days now pointing and laughing at everyone else, as her contribution to procedings is over. I mean…we all remember Anton routines were he was clearly pointing and laughing at proceedings during his routines, so not even that Claud. Giovanni tells Laura she did very well for a first time, and scores are in
25. Claudia congratulates them on getting the highest score of the series so far (lol) as yes
that is Judge Rinder warming his mouth up already in the background.
Naga Munchetty & Pasha Kovalev dancing the waltz
Tess tells us that Naga has been up since about 4am today, as she was presenting BBC Breakfast 15 hours ago. Yeah, this seems like sensible scheduling well done guys.
VT time, and Naga reminsces about being on her first red carpet ever with a giant sparkly red spaceship. The way you hear her recount it you’d think she was sleep deprived recording this VT as well as the main show (“AND THEN A MAN CAME OUT AND GAVE US ALL SQUASH AND ALSO THERE WERE BEARS I THINK”). She moves on to saying that when she heard she’d be partnered with Pasha, she didn’t know what to do with herself, so she
flashed her pants. Same, to be honest. Pasha says that Naga is “focused” and “driven” and “wants to do well” and several other codewords for “will smack her head into a brick wall until it bleeds every time she misses a batucada to teach herself a lesson”. Ah, the Kimberleybot year, I remember it well. Naga goes on to say that she’s not just the Competitive One, she’s also the Tomboy One, and she’s learning to embrace the elegant dresses and spangly crop tops of Strictly. Not so much the bras though. Based on the VT evidence so far.
Training now and Pasha is SHOCKED when Naga tells him that the waltz is the one dance she’s been dreading. Oh Naga, not even Len pretends the waltz is hard, give over. She says that it’s because when she tries to be elegant she looks like this
Seriously hun, it could be much worse. That’s about as elegant as Caroline Flack ever looked in ballroom and she won. Pasha tells her not to worry, because he’ll make her fall in love with waltz and then she…doesn’t, so much, but she tells us she’s slowly learning where her head should be, how her arms should look, and that she shouldn’t jab her heels through Pasha’s toenails quite so much. She definitely feels like she’s becoming more graceful though. The fact that the editors choose to demonstrate this
via the medium of shadow-puppetry only, suggests maybe not.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Balcony? Check. Whitney Houston? Check. Giant billoughing tablecloths framing everything like it’s all taking place in the Bonnie Tyler Turn Around Dance Academy? Check. If Pasha was trying to ease Naga into the show via the familiar and just let her get into the swing of things without forming any sort of lasting impression either way, positive or negative, then good job because this performance, with this theming, in the Death Slot, washes out the memory instantly. It’s very nice, and very safe, and she was probably a little right to be worried about looking elegant, because she’s not too steady on her feet and also a little hunched up. The chemistry between her and Pasha
is a bit like he’s trying to put the cat out for the night and it won’t go. It’s a nice enough start, but less “Run To You”, more “Vaguely Wander In Your Direction”.
They walk over to Tess, where Naga says that she’s relieved that the dance is over, but she loved it. I’m really feeling the mixed messages here. Bruno starts for the judges by saying that Naga started off “ethereal, lyrical, and elegant” but her mistakes in the middle sent her off course, and she needs to take tips from Craig as to how to do drags properly. Maybe not. Craig’s next, and tells her that she needs to lift her chin and sort out her rise and fall but erm…he sees potential.
I see potential, but maybe not for better dancing. I’m thinking more potential for slashed tyres in the staff car park.
Darcey follows by saying that she can see that Naga was incredibly nervous, but she should focus on her neck, because it’s the best attribute she has. Totally. Can’t wait to see her neck in action in the salsa, should be WILD. Len closes by giving his usual line about how any mistake in the waltz is magnified, whereas you can do any old faff in the latin and no-one cares (I would mock but Craig is about to prove this not entirely wrong with Anastacia in about 22 hours time), so it was very noticable she did one step too many in her wing step. If you say so Len.
Up to Claud 9 they go, where Naga’s face to Claudia on arrival
says it all. Claudia immediately pulls out the Mum Card by saying that Naga’s parents looked very proud of her from their seats in the audience. Naga’s parents promptly
do their best to try to recreate their faces at the time. Bless. Scores are in
Judge Rinder & Oksana Platero dancing the cha cha
It’s telling that they go from this
to this the second the cameras turn on. American Gothic to America’s Sweethearts in 5 seconds flat. Also, even for this show, have you *seen* a woman look more like a Barbie doll? Tess says that she hopes there’s going to be no illegal lifts in this cha cha as there are plenty of witnesses in the ballroom. Yes those are some words stereotypically associated with the legal system well done.
VT time, and Tess starts in again, telling us all that Judge Rinder is “dedicated to bringing justice to the courtroom but what is he going to bring to Strictly?”. I’m hoping that it is also justice. I’m hoping that next week he comes with armful of court orders saying that the court-recordings are to be amended to say that Jamelia beat Peter Andre in the dance-off, Austin Healey won Series 6, and any and all references to Judge Donny Osmond are to be stricken from the record. The man himself says that he will bring 150% to the programme, but then snarkily corrects himself to say that’s nonsense, and he of course is only going to bring 100%. Based on what follows…he was right the first time. He tells us that he’s nervous but quietly confident, because Oksana is the prettiest girl and the best teacher.
I’ll give her that she’s pretty. We’ll see on the rest.
Oksana for her part says that she is Ukrainian Champion and also American Champion. She doesn’t say of what. Pony-rides at a tournament held at her Dream House quite possibly. Poor Skipper. Always second best. Judge Rinder goes on to say that he hopes Oksana is a hard taskmaster, and yes this is all getting a bit racially stereotypey but Oksana plays it off with a nice line of “hey, if he’s actively ASKING me to beat the shit out of him
I’m quite happy to actually do it”, which I think kind of works.
Training now and
already the subtitles are out. Which is pretty prompt, given that some of us have needed them for Bruno for about 6 series now. Judge Rinder asks Oksana if there are any words or phrases in Russian than he should learn immediately. Maybe “I’m from Ukraine, dickhead”? Anyway, Oksana teaches him “Yeshche raz” meaning “again”. Or at least that’s what my Google Translate is telling me. Rather hilariously, in return, she asks to be taught how the English legal system works (ask Aliona) and of course Judge Rinder’s day job is to filter the English legal system through the lens of ITV daytime, so he teaches her to shush people so hard she ends up spitting all over them
and rampant smug face
Both of which of course she deploys immediately all over the training room but modified so she’s
jabbing her finger right in his mush. I’ve got a feeling these two are going to be…an eventful partnership. (Oh also she yells “ORDER IN YOUR FOOT!” which makes NO SENSE and therefore I guarantee right now Tess is stealing it for her next intro for these two)
TO THE COURTROOM!
Ok for a start, after we move past the giant scales of justice with glitterballs on them, let’s focus on the fact that Oksana is in the dock wearing handcuffs symbolically made out of the tackiest bangles Claire’s Accessories has to offer. And that she’s dressed (pre-sentencing) in prison duds, but with her hair fully blown out and with a face full of slap on. Let’s move on to the
gavel that sprays glitter everywhere and then Judge Rinder himself
hurling himself off the stage like he’s going skydiving using his judges robes as a parachute. From there we can enjoy Oksana taking about half an hour to change her dress behind the podium, whilst Judge Rinder does four increasingly out of control Chaines turns like a demented Mother Superior, cape twirling everywhere like Batman getting trapped in a revolving door on maximum spin, to cover for her. Let’s move on to his dance face, or more accurately his dance mouth
which is always open, but never showing a hint of teeth, making him look a particularly horned-up newt. Let’s deal, collectively, whilst our therapist bills for the episode are only in 4 digit numbers with Oksana
ripping all of his clothes off whilst he pulls a face like he just dipped his nads in ice cold water. (Rinder has one of those bodies that is EXACTLY 50% muscle and 50% fat and it’s kind of hypnotising to watch. It’s like he’s got muscles that fold exactly the same way fat would, whilst also clearly being muscle) Let’s process
Oksana choreographing a bit where he just stands there with his arms folded leering at her arse. Let’s wonder most of all why we had Laura “start the party” when this was waiting in the producers back pocket.
It’s one way to get yourself off I suppose.
It gets the first Standing Ovation of the series, because duh, it was the first surprising thing we’ve seen all evening, even if it was a complete and utter mess, and I guarantee that if you asked him to repeat the same routine again it would look completely different. You will not be surprised to hear that, most of all, Anastacia bloody loved it. Once they’re over at the Judges Table, Tess tells Judge Rinder she personally would give him a 10 for “facial choreography”. It’s sweet and…kind of indicative that Tess thinks those facial expressions were rigorously pre-planned.
Craig starts for the judges saying the dance was “frenetic, frenzied, frantic”, as the autocomplete software in his head goes on the fritz, and then tells Judge Rinder that it looked like he’d had excessive collagen injections. In return Judge Rinder deploys
“takes one to know one” blowjob mouth. This is exactly the Algonquin Round Table level of discourse I was hoping for between these two. Masterful. Tess then does the Judge Rinder spitty-shushy thing at Craig and everyone ignores her. Again, bless. Darcey’s next and says that was the wildest surprise she’s ever had. Oksana’s face could not read more
“English women…” if it tried.
Len follows, saying that Judge Rinder “puts the boy in flamboyant”. This is Lenese for “you are gay”, in case there are any new people in this evening. Based on the pair of tits Rinder’s got on him, I’d say he more accurately puts the “buoyant” in “flamboyant”, but then I’m not Head Judge am I? Len also says “if entertainment’s a crime, you’re guilty”. It’s not though is it Len? Bruno then yells “THE JURY’S HUNG!” before leaping to his feet so
Len can establish if this is true for himself. I’m telling you, these two, the wrap party, 14 series of raw sexual tension. It’s happening.
Up to Claud 9 they romp, where Tameka
immediately goes for a high five, and Judge Rinder looks at her like there’s not enough hand sanitiser in the world. DON’T GET EASTENDERS ON HIM, IT’S IN HIS CONTRACT! Claudia repeats what Darcey said about it being a massive surprise that Judge Rindeer is a big ol’ ham (…) and the man himself deadpans that “it always helps when there’s sort of a moderate degree of threat at the end”, referring of course to Oksana. This storyline was somehow more convincing when it was referring to Series 2 Erin, aka the most hard-faced woman alive, as opposed to a woman who is 5ft 2 and whose hair looks like the beach from a Sandals advert. But less hilarious. Scores are in
Lesley Joseph & Anton du Beke dancing the waltz
“Well that’s my costume change out the window then…”
Tess tells us Lesley is as nervous as anyone else this evening, but, “partnered with last year’s finalist Anton” (…) who would bet against her getting off to a flying start as a Bird Of A Feather, because that’s what she done once, a programme called Birds Of A Feather and birds fly like, except ostriches and emus and penguins and maybe chickens, do chickens fly can we get a fact check on that guys thanks.
(Also I see that Anton and Katie are counted as finalists NOW, when it suits them, but from halfway through the actual final they were IN THE BIN, so the show could try and claim it had three equally deserving “finalists” of exceptional dance talent) (yes I am still bitter thank you)
VT time now, and Lesley talks about how the whole Strictly experience is so surreal and she has to keep on pinching herself to make sure it’s all real. Well after Rinder’s cha cha I bet her arms are red raw. She then moves on to telling us that she definitely wanted to be partnered with Anton, yes she did, because “he is a legend” and “she loves him” and there are definitely no interviews on record with her saying she was deperate to be partered with Kevin and her looking like a wet weekend in Woking at the Launch Show when she got partnered with Anton was just a delayed reaction. She thought Tess had said she was getting partnered AFTER THE BREAK not ANTON DU BEKE damn these hearing aids… Anyway, the show itself follows this gush up with
this shot so who knows? Maybe they’ve started doing irony outside of Claudia’s script now? Anton for his part says that all he wants from Lesley is her enthusiasm and her personality.
This shot suggests otherwise.
Training now, and Claudia says that Anton has a surprise for Lesley with his choice for their Week 1 waltz. Is it Bitches Aint Shit by Dr Dre? NO! IT’S THE THEME TUNE TO BIRDS OF A FEATHER! Lesley of course is delighted, and says it’s like they’re melding the two shows together. My dream of a Dorian Green cha cha to “Like A Virgin” complete with her rubbing her lady parts against a bonus backing dancer (or five!) continues apace. Once the actual dancing starts, Lesley says that she thought waltz was going to be easy, but it’s not! I’m sure it’d help if her
face wasn’t buried in Anton’s armpit half the time. Smells like a pub floor in there. Y’know, I’d imagine. It’s all very hard work, and she tells us that by the end of rehearsals, she was dripping.
WITH SWEAT. CALM DOWN. Anyway, the most obvious problem here is the height difference which…let me just repeat AGAIN that Lesley clearly should have been with Kevin this series and we’ll say no more about it.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
GET THE SCHMALTZ CANNONS READY! I have to say, after this, Craig has a nerve coming for any other couple for being saccharine. The story of the dance is that Lesley is remembering her dead husband, who returns IN GHOST FORM
played by Anton to do a midnight waltz with her before leaving forever. If you’re questioning why the present day is in black and white but the flashback is in colour…just go with it. Also kudos to whoever put together this
mocked up photograph, it’s actually almost convincing. The storyline is clearly the strongest thing about the dance, as Lesley (over)acts the wiggins out of it, all mournful glances and scrunched eyed remenisces and blissed out grins, all capped off with a sad reminder of the inevitability and irrevecoability of death (WELCOME TO STRICTLY 2016!!!) but there’s no avoiding the fact that
this isn’t exactly a sympathetic hold. He’s supposed to be the one playing the walking dead, not her. Her hands are up round her ear-holes for most of it, and whilst her footwork holds together for the most part the effort starts to get to her from about halfway through.
Still, we all needed calming down after Rinder’s out-of-control funbags didn’t we? Maybe this is the sedative we all required. The clear best part, of course
Linda Robson’s face collapsing faster than Susanne Reid after a paso doble.
Once they’re over at Tess, she asks Lesley if it’s a dream come true to be dancing a waltz with Anton du Beke. Lesley’s reponse? “It is, slightly”. Hee. Darcey starts for the judges saying that the routine was sophisticated (…) and romantic but Lesley needs to be careful not to get lost in Anton’s chest. Don’t worry Darcey, if she does get stuck, he’s got a broomhandle he can deploy to poke her off again. We all remember Fiona’s cha cha. Len’s next and he says that he loves to see the men on the show dressed like Anton is, and he thinks that Lesley is a lovely sophisticated lady and isn’t this nice weather we’ve been having for this time of year. Also her posture was garbage, but didn’t we all have a nice time?
Tess looks like she’s counting down the seconds doesn’t she?
Bruno follows by saying that he found it both “very touching” and “almost moving”, which would be a contradiction in terms if we weren’t talking about an emotional state as inherently erratic as Bruno’s. He also found it incredibly boring and orgasmically exciting and then she stood up and started dancing. Craig closes by saying that Lesley’s biggest problem is her posture (I feel like we will not be saying this the second we see her party latin) and she had to be dragged about in places but y’know, the story and tone was nice.
Up to Claud 9 they go, where Claudia gushes to Lesley that she must be feeling quite emotional because Linda Robson herself is in the audience this evening. Wait, is Linda Robson Lesley Joseph’s dead spouse?
PLOT TWIST! Lesley says that she’s lived with that song for 25 years, making it sound like a particularly mangy cat, and says that she’s glad that she got to bring it to life in a different way, ie a way that involved her, not just Pauline Quirke’s baby photos. Scores are in
Ore Oduba & Joanne Clifton dancing the tango
Remember when we didn’t take it on trust that people with no performance background would be able to just start capital-A Acting in wk 1? Simpler times. Tess, as though this was scripted to make Joanne look as bad as possible, immediately turns to Len and asks him what we should be looking for in a tango. SPOILERS : it’s not bicycles or doing a butterfly kick off a park bench.
VT time, and Tess tells us that Ore Oduba normally cuts a cool, calm, and collected figure in front of the camera, until Strictly came along that is!
And he started fake vomiting and “dancing everywhere” and having aviophobia and instgramming everything and hashtagging everything with teamname this and #strictlified that. We call this…Cliftonitis. The only cure is CALMING THE CHRIST DOWN FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY. Ore tells us that he’s been dreaming of this moment for as long as he can remember. Ore apparently can’t remember anything at all before the age of 15. Joanne recounts how when she was announced as being Ore’s partner they both started screaming, spontaneously flailing about and doing the robot. She says that this means that he is the PERFECT partner for her. Personally I would say this meant the EXACT opposite, but we shall see. Ore closes by saying that he’s looking to be the best dancer he can be, even if that’s a bad dancer. Even if it’s a dancer who’s not dancing and is in fact riding a bicycle.
Training now, and Ore says that the tango is going well, but Joanne has decided that she needs to do something to push him just that little bit harder. Ore says that she should meet his wife. Again, these thoughts in no way follow on from one another, Strictly scriptwriters. “How shall we improve your arms?” “I’ll teach you Irish dancing”; “How can I push you to train harder?” “Meeting my wife!”. These read like jokes made up by 3 year olds. Anyway, Joanne and Mrs Oduba
meet cute, sit with him in a cafe, and discuss him whilst he makes exasperated “why aren’t these ladies letting me talk?” faces. He admires David Beckham, he’s afraid of birds
he enjoys under-the-table double fisted handjobs…ORE ODUBA! Now that Joanne has learnt all about Ore, and met his wife, he is sure that the three of them will make a fantastic team. It says here. I’m telling you now producers, if we get Friends & Family Week, with Mrs Oduba, Louise’s kids, and Yvette Cooper all as human props, I am OUT OF HERE!
TO THE PARK!
Joanne and Ore are dancing their tango to “Geronimo” by Sheppard. So we’re in a situation where the song, the theming, AND the style of dance have no points of contact with one another at all (and in the case of the song, has no point of contact with the range of the guy trying to sing it). Great. The idea (I THINK) is that Ore is an off duty superhero, riding around incognito, who spots an attractive lady
reading a comic book based on his adventures (try to look surprised that Joanne Clifton is reading something that has no words, only noises and exclamation marks). He tries to seduce her
but she rebufs him, so he wows her with displays of athleticism
…erm…other things, before ripping his glasses off, revealing his true identity, and then tango’ing her heart away. If you’re thinking this is too much for Wk 1 YOU ARE CORRECT. And we still haven’t covered him
blowing a raspberry down the camera lens and this bit
where she does flamenco on the bench whilst he goose-steps about. I mean the tango they do looks decent, but watching it, it at no point FEELS like I’m watching a tango – it feels like I’m watching a test to determine what brand of ADHD medicine I should be taking. And whatever *is* picked, I’m going to need a higher dosage. I also
don’t understand the end pose. Not a bit. I’m lost. I had high hopes for Ore before the series started, but we’ve only just started and I already feel like he’s been buried under so much junk that it’s going to take my digging constantly until at least Blackpool before I see him again.
Even up on Claud 9, Kevin looks a bit like he doesn’t have a clue what that was, and we all know how much the Cliftons got one one another’s backs. Louise isn’t even clapping. Once they’re over to Tess, Ore apologises for having hit an audience member when he threw his nerd glasses off. I’d be more concerned about the person the bike nearly collapsed on to be honest.
Len starts for the judges, with his annual rant about
FAFFING ABAHHHHHHHHHHT. To be fair he’s right, you could have fit three whole Dancing With The Stars routines in there before anyone got started. Len says that he’ll forgive bad dancers for needing the gimmicks, but Ore is a good dancer (we’ve decided based on no evidence) so he’s annoyed with him. Tangos are supposed to be PASSION AND DRAMA, not LOLLIPOPS AND ROSES. Bruno is next, and of course as us usual in these circumstances he liked it. It had a cheeky spin, and he particularly liked the “mise en scene” because it allowed Ore to play multiple roles – The Geek and The Controller. Len’s face on “mise en scene” in particular
is a picture. He prefers fish and chips imself. Bruno closes by saying he liked it because it’s something we’ve never seen before. And hopefully never will again.
Craig follows, saying he loved the storytelling at the beginning, because it really set up the tango (HOW? HOW DID IT SET UP A TANGO? IT WAS TWO PEOPLE BUMPING ONE ANOTHER OFF A BENCH!) and felt it was really well done drama. Darcey closes by saying that she loved the ease, the strength, and the attack, and she felt that Ore kept his focus up throughout. Even if none of the rest of us were able to.
Up to Claud 9 they go, and Claudia reminds Ore that three weeks ago he couldn’t even hear the theme tune without crying. Ore’s all
“yes I think that was my storyline then, because I entered into a trinogomous relationship with a Clifton and became afraid of birds”. He then goes on to praise Joaanne for teaching him what a tango was, and that it includes benches and high-kicks, and then calls her “Choreography Clifton”. Yes, there certainly was…a lot of it. Scores are in
Greg Rutherford & Natalie Lowe dancing the jive
Tess reminds us that on the Launch Show, Greg said that the dance he was most looking forward to was the jive. So after this week he’s got nothing to look forward to then, ho hum.
In his VT, Claudia introduces Greg by saying that he has “long jumped his way around the sandpits of the world”. And the climbing frames and the see-saws and one or two of the swing-a-ma-jigs. She then asks, in earnest, if he “will crash land in the ballroom glitterpit” and I’m sorry this show has *never* sounded more like an episode of Brass Eye. Greg tells us that he was so nervous on Launch Show night that he forgot to invite any of his friends to come.
Greg goes on to say that he hasn’t had a new coach (/friend) in a while, but he’s definitely super happy to have Natalie. Natalie tells us that she’s so excited to get Greg that she’d do a backflip right here on the spot if she could.
Oh god, in all her 7 series on Strictly I’ve never seen Natalie so depressed. #sadnessinhereyes
Greg closes out his VT by saying that he’s here to learn, not to be a joke. It’s alright Greg, I don’t think they’ve cast the handsome buff 20 something Olympian as the joke contestant. Proably.
Training now, and Natalie begins by saying “everything I’m getting Greg to do is completely unnatural”. Yeah, that’s how my training sessio…oh wait she means because he’s a long jumper and his body is highly trained in ways that are completely incompatable with dance. As a long jumper he has to take big steps, and not change direction, whereas jive is all about small steps and changing direction often. At this point Greg says that
it might help Natalie to come and watch him train for long jump, so she can understand him better. Yeah, it sounded like she understood pretty well already Mansplainy McGee, but I guess the Outside Broadcast team have to earn ther wage somehow so
here we are. Natalie is in awe of Greg’s jumping prowess, and then they practice pointing his toes properly on the run-up track. Well that’s that sorted then.
oh wait, he’s off already. JUMPING OFF THINGS. AND
MORE THINGS! AND
OVER THINGS! He and Natalie are jiving to “Get Ready” by The Temptations. But mostly he’s jumping off things. And goosing up the audience. And pointing. This right here is Natalie doing Wk 1 right, which is getting a tricky dance out the way with the minimum of fuss by bowling people over with energy and pizazz and fun, whilst subtly sliding things like the need for you to pick your feet up or control…anything you’re doing under the carpet never to be mentioned again until we get another party latin, hopefully in a Theme Week. He’s got good rhythm, and likeability, and he can turn quickly and neatly, but the only thing holding some parts of this back from being Michael Vaughan exactly is that he’s not dressed as a lumberjack.
It gets the second standing ovation of the evening after Judge Rinder, and Tess asks Greg if he feels like a dancer now. Greg says he feels like more of a prancer really. Other reindeer are available. Bruno starts for the judges by yelling the Greg could go ALL THE WAY
I can’t see Natalie lasting the series at this point. Honestly, she is going to explode. Someone get Chloe ready, and bring the 12 inch heels. Craig is next, and he says the dance was flat-footed and stompy, and Greg needs to sort of his pigeon toes and learn to retract his feet more sharply in his kicks. Oh and his free arm was crap. Still Craig enjoyed it enormously by which he means he could see Greg’s willy flapping about through his trousers as he lept off his desk. Probably.
Darcey’s next, contradicting the wisdom of 13 series in one go by saying that, as a tall muscular man, Greg is built to jive. Gone, like a sandcastle in the rain. Next you’ll be telling me that rumba is no easier for women than men and the Argentine Tango isn’t ALWAYS about whores! She liked his rhythm, his energy, and his lightness. Len closes by saying that it was good as anything they’ve seen tonight, and Greg CAME AHT and WENT FOR IT, although Craig was right about his free arm. Regardless, this is the last SPORTSMAN Len’s ever going to have on this show, so don’t expect stronger criticism than that. Ever.
Up to Claud 9 they race (with Natalie yeling “FUCK YEAH!” and immediately covering up her mouth when she realises, bless her), whre Claudia gushes that Greg has never danced before, not even at his 21st birthday party, and then he just did THAT. To be fair Claudia, he’s a professional sportsman – he probably spent his 21st birthday drinking wheatgrass in an icebath. Greg gushes about how amazing that was and how amazing Natalie is and then the scores are in
Ding ding round 2 coming up soon.