Strictly Come Dancing 14 – Week 4 Performance

LET THE FAN WARZ BEGIN!

Last week : MOVIE NIGHT! Mary Poppins and sparkly vampires and Zorro and spies and gangsters and Fred Flintstone and Bollywood and to cap it all off, in the dance off, in a true tribute to Hollywood Boulevard itself, a hooker squared off against a crooked cop and came out the victor. THAT’S FOR DIVINE BROWN!

This week : those keeping score of the CURSE OF NOT TAKING PART IN THE PRE-SHOW COMEDY VT will be relieved to hear that both Anastacia and Naga were involved this week (along with Greg, Ore, Cloudia, Ed, and Judge Rinder) so I will never mention it again.

LIVE!

I just thought it had been too long since my crappy MS Paint skills had been showcased on the blog, y’know? Far far too long.

The music starts, and Giovanni and Kevin are on accompaniment duties this week for

good lord. One’s ready for the oven, the other’s ready to audition for the role of a saucy witch in a late-night relaunch of 90s kids tv favourite Knightmare. You’ll need a helmet on your head to navigate that dungeon I’ll tell you that much. Now just inch a little more to your left…

They remind us that last week was indeed Movie Week, featuring That Samba. You know? The one from Ed Balls? He had funny face-paint on and said “SOMEBODY STOP MAY (because Jeremy Corbyn’s not doing a great job of it at the moment)” a lot? No? I think maybe the show needs to learn that putting “That” before whichever dance got the most Youtube hits of the week doesn’t automatically make it a Strictly Classic that will be treasured forever. They also tell us that, as we probably know, Will Young has left the competition for personal reasons. Tess’ face on

“personal reasons”, it’s just so warm and sympathetic isn’t it? It’s odd, because I remember (oh how I remember) when John Sergeant quit, and his reasons basically boiled down to “I can’t be arsed with this any more”, and we all sat and watched and laughed at It Takes Two, as James Jordan expectorated all over the carpet about how John was a big pussy coward who’d let Kristina down and his fans down and I HOPE YOU GIVE THEM A REFUND JOHN, and now that Will’s done more or less the same thing and so many people have…become James. Which is, of course, your choice. Personally I’m just glad of a three person final and one dance fewer to recap each week. Godspeed Will. Thanks for saving my fingers if nothing else. Until the next openly gay person on this show who is allowed to just dance and not be forced into lobster outfits to dance with a milkmaid *chink*.

Greg Rutherford & Natalie Lowe dancing the salsa

That’s a lot of pink and rose in their combined ensemble for a redhead but ok. Tess tells us that he’ll be dancing to Wrapped Up by Olly Murs tonight, which is QUITE THE COINCIDENCE, because Greg has suffered an injury in training, and as a result his wrist is WRAPPED UP. Can we get confirmation that Evil Moira Ross In A Rainbow Wig didn’t demand a last minute change of song for exactly this pun? I wouldn’t put it past them. Also, if you wanted further proof that Natalie is living her best life this series, I counted no fewer than THREE winks in the space of their intro.

Here is just one.

VT time and

Greg and Natalie are out in Judge Rinder’s cornfield. Does this mean they train in the same place? What wacky hijinks, I bet they’re like the original Odd Couple. Greg tells Natalie that he never thought he’d love dancing as much as he did last week with his American Smooth. The fact that he spent a lot of it with

her tits superglued to his face as he hauled her around the dancefloor has NO BEARING ON THIS. NONE. PURITY OF DAHNCE.

Training, and Greg tells us very excitedly that his salsa is going to feature some of the most epic lifts ever seen on Strictly Come Dancing ever!

Don’t ask what muscles of Natalie’s are gripping on to what muscles/organs of Greg’s there. It’s before tea-time. All the lifts are going fabulously, until, as usually happens when things go awry, one fairly innoucuous one leaves Greg feeling a lot of pain, meaning we’re getting some quality

INJURY PORN! Take THAT Anastacia! Here we’ve got a real doctor (not a collection of pixels), wearing ACTUAL DOCTOR GLOVES, an ultrasound, Greg looking pensive, a pen and paper for note-taking AND Clinell wipes, all preceded by a shot of Greg in the waiting room looking scared. This is far more like it. We were only 2 or 3 notches on the meter away from “THIS WRIST INJURY COULD END MY LONG JUMP CAREER FOREVER SOMEHOW!”. Needed more Natalie looking worried through a crack in a door though, preferably wearing some sort of peasant scarf or shawl. The doctor tells Greg that his dancing has caused severe wrist inflammation and lots of leaking fluid (and that’s just in my living room) but he should be ok to dance on Saturday. As if this drama wasn’t enough, Olly Murs also drops in on training at Greg’s invitation causing Natalie to

absolutely scream her face halfway off. Like, even for NATALIE LOWE this is a ridiculously OTT positive reaction. She loves Olly Murs, this is amoyzing, this is the best day of her life etc etc.

TO THE SHAKE SHACK!

No idea why. They probably had it pre-ordered in for a Grease themed jive for Melvin last week and never got to use it, so why not? Speaking of things that are left over from last week

I wouldn’t eat that Bruno, it’s probably been on the floor since Naga had it up in her Carousel. As a salsa, Greg’s dance seeks to answer the question “just what can you do with lifts with only one wrist?” and the answer is apparently


quite a lot when you’re partnered with Natalie Lowe, even if it isn’t always

the most elegant getting her up and down again. The rest of the salsa? I hesitate to say it because it’s a little blasphemous but it’s a little Ola Jordan. There’s a knee slide, there’s a “jump off this thing”, there’s that bit where the guy just stands there wafting the lady’s skirt up so we can all see her knickers, there’s the side-by-side choo choo train arms, there’s the

duck-faced, duck-arsed shimmies, and there’s a bit where he just wiggles his bum at the judges. We don’t get to see his Starfish but most of the rest of it’s in there. Clearly someone somewhere decided to play it safe outside of the lifts which, given Greg’s complete lack of ability to make his movements match the music organically, was probably wise. Fortunately, the lifts go on for long enough that the actual dancing is of secondary concern, all leading up to the last one, where he hangs her around his neck and spins around for a good 5 or 6 seconds before

press-lifting her above his head, his right arm shaking the entire time because it’s carrying ALL the weight. As he pulls her down again she screams. I love it when Natalie screams, so this has been a good week all round for these two.

It gets a standing ovation, and once Greg is over at Tess, she coos over his wrist, but he says that he’s fine, because “adrenaline is a wonderful thing”. Adrenline and a family pack of cortisone and painkillers. And the family in question is the Manson Family. Whilst he gets his fix, Tess introduces the live singers and of course

Davearch.

IF U WANT TO KNOE WHY WILLIAM RILLY LEFT THEN ASK HIM ABOUT WHAT HE SAW UNDER THE STAIRS AND WAT HE TRYED TO DO BEFORE HIS BOLLYWOOD SALSA, HE’S LUCKY I LET HIM LEEV ALIVE, I’VE HAD TO TIGHTEN THE MAN IN THE HAT’S CHAINS AGEN *AND* REFILL THE BUCKET.

Len starts for the judges, saying that the routine was like the candy floss Bruno’s now get all over his face and down his pants. Mostly tasty, but a little sticky in the footwork. Yes, I hate when my candy floss goes sticky in the footwork. Mostly this is why I avoid treading on it, mostly. Bruno follows, yelling that Greg is both a hurricane and a tiger with a butt of marble. Stitch that image together if you can. Greg promises to take Bruno for a session of squats to improve his arse. Does this need to be a comedy VT yes it does.

Craig’s next, and says he would have liked to see more hip action and he thought that Greg was stomping it out a bit, but he enjoyed his shimmies. He does tell Greg that he lost his dignity a little by presenting his arse to him so blatantly. He will NOT be pandered to! Not be ANYONE other than Lisa Riley or as he calls her, the Twyla Tharp of Emmerdale. Darcey closes by saying that she loves Greg’s energy but thinks he could stand to calm it down a bit, because he was pushing Natalie into overbalancing at points. Mostly I am distracted by the combination of Darcey’s low cut top, the camera angle, and an errant mic loop

making it look a bit like she’s got her nip out.

Up to Claud 9 they floss with Natalie

blowing a kiss as they ascend. Once they’re up there, Claudia gushes that she heard Greg say on It Takes Two that he feels like a donut when he dances, AND THEN HE COMES OUT AND DOES THAT. He was probably just feeling peckish Claud. Greg replies that it’s all due to Natalie’s teaching and also people like Judge Rinder constantly giving him stick backstage which motivates him to succeed. Again, the Greg/Rinder relationship fascinates me, I must know more. Natalie at this point breaks in yelling “FUCK THAT, WHAT ABOUT OLLY MURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!”. Scores are in

28

Laura Whitmore & Giovanni Pernice dancing the quickstep

Tess tells us that, as these two were in the dance-off last week, they’ve come back determined to do better than ever, so in training Laura enlisted the help of Mick Jagger. After the roaring success of Jerry Hall on this show, what could possibly go wrong?

In her VT, Laura tells Giovanni that she was really pleased with her salsa, because she wanted to go out there and give it a load of energy and do something “different”. Well certainly, it was that. We’re reminded that all of the effort was for naught, as she found herself in the bottom 2 with Tameka, and surviving on a split vote, all whilst

wearing the face of a circus clown being forcibly given an enema. She goes on to say that she feels stronger as a result of being in the dance-off and hopes to use it to power on through the competition. I’ve got a feeling that if Laura gets a little bit stronger every time she survives a dance-off she may well be headbutting her way through concrete by the end of the series.

Training now, and Laura says that, as the quickstep is so demanding, she’s drafting in someone who can help with their stamina and performance. MICK JAGGER! Giovanni having to act like he actually thinks Mick Jagger is going to turn up and he’s SO excited about it

certainly doesn’t reach his eyes, and in fact barely makes it past his teeth. Anyway in the end it turns out that

Mick Jagger is a dog. And Giovanni doesn’t like dogs. Was this also a VT last series, I think it might have been. They dance for the dog, the dog

gives them a 10, it’s all quite cute but nowhere NEAR as cute as this.

TO THE BALLROOM!

I notice Giovanni got the plum position in front of the mirror there. They’re dancing to “Ballroom Blitz” which has me already feeling a bit resentful because it’s just going to make it that bit harder to google this whenever I want to cheer myself up by watching Fiona Fullerton almost getting into a catfight with Iveta. Laura & Giovanni’s interpretation is of course dictated mostly by the speed of the track, which means that they’re almost always either absolutely pelting it around the dancefloor or doing Charleston style interludes. The one time they do try to slow it down a bit and pull the dance closer to the dance’s foxtrot roots look most unnatural, although not as unnatural as

Laura’s Dance Face, which is downright eerie and pointing off at really odd angles. She mostly does a good job of keeping up, although her top half is bobbing up and down like gangbusters the whole time. I can see why they came back ROARING, narratively speaking, but I feel like Laura’s definitely one of those contestants who works best a little less manic.

It gets no ovation (mark your scorecards) but once they’re over at the judges Bruno starts, telling us all that Strictly has no speed limit (this is true, but it works both ways – you wouldn’t want to be stuck behind Tony Jacklin in Sunday traffic if you had somewhere to be) but if Laura did that down the M1 she’d lose her licence. I think if Laura did that down the M1 she’d lose more than her licence Bruno. Craig’s next and tells Laura that he loved how quickly she moved around the floor, and he thought the Charleston section was “standoutish”. Well quite. Ish.

Darcey follows, saying that that was much better than last week, and definitely very busy down below. As it to confirm this, Laura fans her lower quarters generally in her direction. Can everyone stop directing their bums and fannies at the judges this week please, this is not some sort of Amsterdam shop window. Darcey does think though that Laura lost her poise a little when she had to travel across the floor. Len closes by criticising her head position but also bringing out “IF YOU’RE IN THE BOTTOM 2 I’LL PICKUW ME WAWNUTS!”. So that’s that settled.

Up to Claud 9 they blitz, where Claudia calls her “baby” and tells her that everyone so admires how she responded to being in the dance-off, because sometimes people get despondent, down-hearted, and just give up. For example when Rachel Riley was in her first bottom 2, she just locked herself in the toilets with Pasha and refused to come out. The MOANING, you wouldn’t believe it. Anyway, Laura responded well and came out and proved herself etc etc scores are in

33

Anastacia & Brendan Cole dancing the rumba

Not sure why they’ve done her make-up a la Pepe The Alt-Right Nazi Frog there, but ok. As this is the first rumba of the series, Tess asks Len what he wants to see. As usual, Len uses this opportunity to request no raunch or sexual content of any kind. He really sees the rumba as more of the story of a developing flirtation and courtship. Furtive glances, delicate footwork, the odd hip wiggle, promenades in the rain walking your neighbours dogs, talking about how neither of you like abroad much, 6 hour games of miniature golf, putting your feet up and watching the cricket whilst she makes your dinner for you, reminiscing about the war, whipping your old chap out at the back of the top deck of a Number 46 to Peckham for a larrrrrrrrf… Lovely stuff.

VT time and Brenda congratultes Anastacia on having a good weekend and she responds by going cross-eyed and yelling

“YOU TOO BIG DADDY!” at him. I know I do this poll every year but…

Training, and Brenda tells Anastacia that rumba is a dance that requires a great deal of confidence (only if you’re a man Brenda, did you not get the memo women are all born ready to walk around in front of millions rubbing their boobies and pulling sultry faces in their third best La Senza nightie) so he’s going to try to boost her confidence up by reminding her of what it’s like to be in her element – holding a mic and singing. So they go to a Ronnie Scott’s so she can give him a private performance. I love the idea that Anastacia doesn’t walk around singing all the time anyway. I bet not a week has gone by so far without her bellowing out their Tune Of The Week with half of the consonants removed right down Brenda’s lugholes. She puts on her private show anyway, yelling “I’M AHHHTA LERRR” with the lyrics changed to be about the rumba (…) and Brenda’s face

is a picture. This and Bloody Lulu on the soundtrack in the same week? The life-threatening lung infection must have been a picnic in comparison.

TO THE DANCEFLOOR!

Someone really did get a 2-for-1 on green eyeshadow this week didn’t they? Anastacia is dancing her rumba here to “The Way We Were” by Barbra Streisand, or as Anastacia probably sings it “DAWAY WI WUHHHHHHHHHHH”. Amusingly enough the backdrop, both in terms of the video wall and the floor, is lots of pictures of Anastacia’s Strictly Journey, meaning that the misty water coloured memories of the way we were, are from about two weeks ago and are of stuff like Anastacia pretending to not know what a 10 Downing Street is with her gob hanging open. I’m not sure this is what Babs had in mind when she originally sang the song, but ok. At any rate, unlike the last two weeks, this is exactly what I want from Anastacia, by which I mean it is the highest of High Camp. Lots of bad overacting and thrashing her hair about

and erotic lip-biting and chewing the scenary and

bum-sniffing and

assisted goosestepping

kung fu panda poses, all done to a very tasteful and subdued suburban dinner party soundtrack. Truly it is the Abigail’s Party of rumbas and Anastacia is its Alison Steadman. This bit near the end is just divine

It’s like she literally pissing dance right out of her body and up the lamppost of the British public.

After it’s finished, it gets no Standing Ovation and up on Claud 9

Louise looks like she’s not having that happening at one of her and Jamie’s candle-lit suppers thank you very much. Now for the whole of these judging comments you’re going to have to imagine that Brenda is turning very pale and constantly puffing his cheeks out like he’s about to blow chunks. It’s very distracting. Sadly, this is due to a lung infection, and he’s not about to vomit on Tess. The dream I’ve had since Letitia Dean lives on. Craig starts for the judges, saying that it was periodically stilted and lacking in fluidity, but he did like her ronde and her storytelling.

(Vomit, vomit, vomit, vomit, chant it with me now). Darcey’s next and says that she loves Anastacia’s expressive arms, but thinks her body needs to undulate more. Brenda smirks that they’ll work on that later wink wink. Poor Mrs Brenda.

Len’s next

(what a pro covering the mic whilst he hacks away incidentally) and he complains that there were lots of “lines and wiggles” and that he would have liked more actual content. Whatever Len, the Brenda Wiggle is a core rumba step, it’s on all the syllabi. Finally Bruno praises Anastacia’s rumba for being “subtle and refined”. Which tells you all you need to know about the routine without even having to watch it does’t it?

Up to Claud 9 they rampage with Brenda spluttering the whole way, and Claudia pronounces rumba to be the HARDEST DANCE. Anastacia says she agrees and she felt extra pressure because she was dancing to Barbra Streisand so you have to keep things simple and classy

she says with her aubergine theme make-up and hair blown out to Ursula. Scores are in

27

Claudia Fragapane & AJ Pritchard dancing the foxtrot

Nobody asks Len what he’d like to see from the first foxtrot of the series. Let’s aim for not falling into a collective national coma as a baseline, and work up from there.

VT and Cloudia and AJ wax lyrical about getting 9s and topping the leaderboard and almost pieing Len Goodman in the face. Almost.

Training now and Claudia is fretting that she won’t be able to do the foxtrot because it’s so slow. Yeah, that’s the least of your worries love. Wait til you get your song-choice in/see the set. AJ gives an interview next, and I swear this is verbatim :

“The concept is that we’re in a school corridor! There’s going to be lockers! It’s going to be something special!”

God, Gilkison’s got him whipped something good hasn’t he? THERE’S GOING TO BE LOCKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT’S THE NEW JILL’S JIVE! (not jay’s though don’t hit me) ICONIC!!! To help get Cloudia in the mood to be in a school themed routine, AJ has invited her teachers to come in to training. Claudia clarifies to everyone that she left school two years ago, honest, but it’s great to see the gang anyway. There’s her PE teacher, her “key skills” teacher (?), her Head Of Year and her RE teacher. She dances for them, and they give her four 10s and an actual

gold star. Jesus Christ. Next week : her babysitter, her Auntie Jean, and her swimming teacher.

TO THE SCHOOL!

OH MY GOD LOCKERS! GIVE IT A 10! Ahem. What kind of school has rainbow coloured lockers anyway? One that is apparently blaring Carly Rae Jepsen through the speakers, in this case “I Really Like You”. Now I love Jeppo, but this is not her strongest song and above all else it’s not a foxtrot. Again with the just picking whatever song is on first when the Blindfolded Dart Throwing Song Choice Monkeys have Disney FM on in the office. If this IS an LGBT school, then Claudia is clearly riding the B or the T bus in, because she is into AJ *bad*. She’s got pictures of him up all over her

OH MY GOD LOCKERS, AGAIN SORRY I JUST GET SO EXCITED! ICONIC LOCKERS, YAHHHHHHHHHS COME THROUGHHHHHH! LOCKERRRRRRRS!

Ahem. Between AJ’s outfit (pink shirt AND a pink little dicky, strong look) and his seduction technique being all

Fosse and sassy, I can see problems in this relationship from the off. In terms of the dance? It’s ok. She’s still a little mechanical, and the height difference makes it hard to see her head or her face a lot of the time but I think given the bizarre theming it’s about the best you could hope for out of the dance. There’s a bit of a sad bit towards the end where they go up the stairs, pause dramatically, and then just do a little bunny hop off them again, which is a bit misguided, but otherwise it’s all fine, if not really capitalising on any momentum she gained last week. It all ends with

AJ being more in love with his reflection (/HIS ENTIRELY ON FLEEK LOCKER, LOCKER IS BAE, 10 FOR THE LOCKERS!) than Cloudia. Ah teenage boys…

It all gets a somewhat confused reaction from the audience (seriously, Twilight needs explaining 50 times but *this* just gets put out there with no prep) and Darcey kicks off for the judges saying that she loved that story of young love that was portrayed throughout. Darcey remembers being young kids! She’s just like you! Keeping it 200 hashtag catface hearteyes emoji! She loved the travel and glide and Cloudia’s stunning topline because of guess what? CLOUDIA’S AMAZING CORE. I can’t believe it’s taken til Week 4 for Darcey to mention someone’s core, I’ve missed it so much. Remember when Victoria slopped around the floor every week forgetting the routine and crying and Darcey was all “…still, amazing core strength”. Happy days. Len’s next and takes about half an hour to say he didn’t like it because there wasn’t enough in hold and then he still gives it an 8 later anyway. I do love how bored

Cloudia and AJ look throughout. It’s very “alright Granddad”.

Bruno’s next and calls them the “Ideal Teen Dream Team”. You can tell he identified so much with AJ in that routine. I bet there was a little heartbroken Cloudia in some Italian school in whatever year Bruno was last in the education system. 1952? 1953? He thinks Cloudia is always eager to please, which he likes, but sometimes comes across as though she’s trying too hard. Craig’s last and hated it. He saw gapping, he thought it was graceless, and he loathed how she “whack-kicked her batement”. Bit personal.

Up to Claud 9 they go, where AJ talks about how Cloudia does her best under intense pressure (I can’t imagine AJ exerting immense pressure on anything other than…well insert your own punchline about what teenage boys have a death grip on I can’t do *all* the work here). Scores are in

30

Time now for Claudia’s Surreal Prop Interlude

This needs to end now, and quite badly doesn’t it?

Ed Balls & Katya Jones dancing the paso doble

I mean, with the Charleston it was because it was the Charleston and with the samba it was because it was Movie Week but this is just dumb. Can we have a week off the meme-hunting for once? Nobody died in Week 1 when he just did a waltz.

VT time now, and Katya and Ed talk about what an amazing time they had last week in his samba, where he played the part of an

angry pea. Katya reminisces about the crowd going wild as we see that

Ore is even pleased for other people in the most ostentatious manner possible. Ed closes by saying that he’s actually very proud that he’s getting scores like 23 and 24 overall, because it’s much better than he was expecting, which I absolutely believe, and which is sweet and which makes what’s about to happen even more of a bump.

Training now, and Ed tells us the full story of his paso. It’s to Bonnie Tyler, there’s a dragon, Katya is tied up, and she needs a knight to save her. Oddly enough, it was Bonnie Tyler where Scott Mills went absolutely sailing over the shark with me as well. Who’d have thought it? Watch out anyone doing a comedy tango to “Faster Than The Speed Of Night” next year. To practice for this, Ed goes combat training to learn how to slay a dragon and to the show’s credit

he pulls “no really, this is dumb” face over and over again.

TO THE MAGICAL KINGDOM!

I see news of the forthcoming vacant Head Judge post has reached Arlene. She’s back to take back her kingdom! Fortunately she’s about to be stopped by

The Daily Express? Ed sprints towards the dragon like Benny Hill charging after a runaway milk float and then slays it by, and I kid you not,

jumping up and pointing in its face. Could they not even spring for a toy sword? What becomes abundantly clear is that, after this bit, and once Katya’s free, he has absolutely zero memory of the routine he’s supposed to be doing until they get to the caping that he’s supposed to do at the very end. Zero. Zip. Nada. When Katya gets him in hold she does a creditable job of pushing and pulling him around, and when she can get in his eyeline she does her damndest to get him to copy her by giving him the most frantic and intense eye-balling I’ve ever seen on this show. Somehow it is both maternal and encouraging and also a death stare all at the same time. The rest though? Just random flailing about, stitching random half-remembered bits of routine together. I’m not sure if it’s lack of training or just a genuine memory blackout but it’s ALL gone. The one saving grace? Once they get to the caping and he picks it up again, it’s not half bad considering some of the efforts we’ve seen over the years.

Still, an absolute bloody state from beginning to end.

It gets a Standing Ovation because of course very little about the celebration of Ed Balls is about merit, really, not that that’s such a bad thing. Once they’re over at Tess, she blows his spot by saying that she noticed a few things went wrong. At least let him try to front it out Tess, come on. Len starts for the judges by grumbling that NEVER MIND HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO, HE WAS HOLDING OUT FOR A PASO! Ed’s sad little

wounded turtle face in response is quite something. Len goes on to say that they’ve had many Balls on the show over the years – Zoe, Johnny, Bobby, Michael – but none of them won the show. And he’s not sure Ed is going to either, but it won’t be for lack of trying. I think the “well done for putting your all in” to somebody who didn’t have the routine down at all is a bit much to be honest. I mean, he probably just forgot it, but none of that spoke of effort. Bruno’s next, and calls Ed a demented traffic warden with terrible shaping and awful capework. Ed’s all “the caping is literally the one thing I managed to remember to do properly, come on” which…he has a point.

Craig’s next and basically just goes “GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!” at him as a critique before Darcey closes by saying that Ed put plenty of gusto into it, but his arms were terrible, and she knows he can do better. We live in hope.

Up to Claud 9 they bounce, where Claudia pulls the “well we all loved it up here” card, which really is the new “you’re my favourites!”, except less knowing isn’t it? Claudia tells Ed she’s heard that he listens back to the judges comments every week to learn, and Ed says that’s true because he definitely wants to improve – tonight wasn’t the best but he wants to move forwards and improve. At this point Anastacia whoops “THAT’S RIGHT!” and start clapping like she’s at The Ryder Cup bless her. Scores are in

16. One mark off the lowest ever for a paso. Claudia calls for a group hug to make Ed feel better and

I genuinely think Cloudia nearly dies in the crush.

Naga Munchetty & Pasha Kovalev dancing the Charleston

[*PUNCHLINE REDACTED*]

Training now, and Pasha praises Naga for recovering so well from her buckle not unbuckling at the start of her tango last week. Naga replies “I enjoyed it though” in the same tone of voice used by someone who really enjoyed spending their caraving holiday inside the entire time playing Boggle because it bucketed it down the whole time. No really. It was a bonding experience. Also Naga claims to have taken inspiration from Len telling her that she’s better than she thinks she is, I think possibly (and I’m just guessing here) because it’s the first time she’s heard that in her entire life.

Training now, and to get Naga in the mood for her aquatic Charleston, Pasha is taking her to the Sealife Centre. The joke is that Naga turns up expecting to get in the tank with all the fishes (and why not, they made Ashley Taylor Dawson do it) but

they can’t even commit to that, having her saunter on in snorkel, flippers, diving mask and JEANS AND A SWEATSHIRT. I think my favourite part is when Pasha says that he’s brought Naga to meet a whole load of new friends

right before it cuts to some sharks. Is there subtext here, it’s very subtle if so. Pasha and Naga Charleston around the place and make weak sealife puns and let’s get on with it shall we?

TO THE OCEAN FLOOR!

Well I’ve never been forked by three prongs at once before, but if Pasha’s in charge then [*PUNCHLINE REDACTED*] He and Naga are dancing to “Minnie The Mermaid”, which I’ve never heard before, but it’s one of those old-school songs that begins with pootling oompah tuba noises, which makes the whole thing already seem a bit farcical from the off. The idea is that Pasha

disturbs a mermaid, and then turns her into a human with a peck on the cheek, after which point they Charleston. And maybe it’s just that literaly anything would come across as a peak after Ed’s paso, but this is easily her best dance yet. She looks actively engaged really for the first time and I think it’s done her the world of good to be forcibly crowbarred off Pasha. Unfortunately the show has now driven “CHARLESTON AS PERFORMANCE BASED TURNING POINT!” so bloody often now that you have to do something special for it to stick and with the best will in the world, this wasn’t, not even with Pasha getting his shapely calves out. The whole thing, mostly due to the choreography, is just a little bit haphazard and forgettable

weird lifts aside, and she starts to lose time badly and repeatedly towards the end. And I’m not sure that

“Stuck On Car Window Garfield Toy” is the best choice for an end-pose.

It gets a Standing Ovation from Katie Derham and her husband, which leads to the rather unfortunate incident of Tess yelling “THEY’RE ON THEIR FEET…………OVER THERE!” pointing several miles out of sight of the cameras. Tess then tells Naga that that was the first time she’s had to embrace comedy, like we didn’t all see the wig they put her in for Tina Turner Week. Or her handling a torch (NEVA 4GET). Bruno starts for the judges saying that Naga was a bit slippery in her footwork, but you’d expect that from a mermaid wouldn’t you? I guess so. Maybe it was a character choice? Craig’s next, and says that it was all very messy and wild and he didn’t like it. Pasha tries to rally with a “DID IT MAKE YOU SMIIILE?” (oh pasha…) but Craig just goes on to say that she looked like she was being harpooned during the lifts. Chance’d be a fine thing.

Darcey follows saying that she really appreciated that Naga tried hard to get the character right, but it meant she got over-excited and made mistakes with her timing, and we close with Len throwing a hufty at Craig for saying that Naga was TOO WILD AND MESSY when before he’s criticised a Charleston for being TOO NEAT AND PRECISE. Can someone introduce Len to a little story called “Goldilocks And The Three Bears”?

Up to Claud 9 they swim, where Naga’s all

YAY FOR CHARLESTON I HAD FUN I DEFINITELY KNOW WHAT FUN IS AND THAT WAS IT! Meanwhile, I’m saying it now, best hair Pasha’s had since joining this show. At least they’re both going to be leaving the series on a high. Scores are in

24. Darcey gives it only one mark more than she gave Ed, which is a sign of what happens when your floor is a 5 I guess.

Louise Redknapp & Kevin Clifton dancing the foxtrot

Something’s gone very wrong with Kevin and the fake tan machine there hasn’t it? Very wrong indeed. They’ll be chipping away trying to get all that off for the next three weeks at least. Tess tells us that the story of this routine is that Louise is going to use a remote control to take command of Kevin. Could she maybe start by pointing it at his face and turning the contrast down?

VT time, and Louise talks about what a magical time she had doing Flashdance. She particularly enjoyed the point where she walked up to the judges desk and saw that Bruno was doing exactly the same moves as her. Hun that’s not a good sign. At any rate, Louise grins that it made her night. Is anyone surprised Louise is easily pleased? Anyone?

Training now, and we’re eschewing the Comedy VTs everyone else has been lumbered with for another Relatable Louise Redknapp : Megamum tale.

Look at her! Being all relatable and normal with her wardrobe larger than my entire living room (I bet it goes on for a good 7 or 8 feet past the edge of that shot as well). She’s off to meet Kevin to do the foxtrot! Once there, Kevin sits her down and tells her very solemnly, like daddy’s cancelling Christmas, that she’s just unlucky to have entered Strictly in a year when the standard is so incredibly high! Oh are we getting our excuses for yet another 3rd place finish in early? Let’s break the field down at this point :

Melvin : No
Tameka : No
Will : Quit
Ed : NO
Naga : Lol No
Anastacia : Not Even Without The Injury
Rinder : Good grief no
Lesley : Bless her but not really
Greg : Bless him even more but also not really
Laura : Who even knows, maybe in Bruno’s head and his alone, but she’s hardly terrifying opposition at this point having wammed into the Dance-Off in WEEK THREE and barely beaten Cackles The Comedy Contestant
Cloudia : Great flippity McDoodads (madam) but a clear foot shorter than her pro
Daisy : Holly Valance 2 with even less public vote appeal and added nehrves
Ore : Good until the week when we inevitably recreate Flat Stanley when Joanne actually drops the entire Props Closet on top of him
Danny : Fair enough

I’d take my chances with this compared to Series 6 and 8 for a start.

Anyway, Kevin says that as a result of this they have to focus on getting her foxtrot footwork absolutely perfect. Because in past series, that has made all the difference. Caroline Flack’s foxtrot footwork is still the topic of at least three threads a week on Digital Spy. I’d do a poll about which winner had the best foxtrot, but I think the resulting Fan Warz would actually break the wordpress server, so for the sake of your health let’s move on. Louise practices the foxtrot in her big relatable kitchen

the end.

TO THE LIVING ROOM!

OH LOOK IT’S THE 60S AGAIN! The thing with Kevin getting good partner after good partner after good partner after good partner and doing this chintzy retro Perfect Housewife routine with all of them, is that after a while it starts to feel like a pattern is building up. And I am talking a serial killer pattern here, like Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Robot Stepdad.I want Louise to break out from the foxtrot and rush to the basement and find Susanna, Frankie, and Kellie’s heads all stuffed and mounted on the wall with nameplates saying “Wife 1”, “Wife 2”, and “Wife 3”. Susanna was the rich glamorous one, Frankie was the young innocent one, Kellie was the loud fun bit common one, and all their torsos are now in the ice cream freezer next to the boiler. At least Louise seems benign enough to be the one who finally escapes and tells the police. They’re dancing their foxtrot to “Tears Dry On Their Own” by Amy Winehouse and if you’re wondering how that even remotely fits a 60s themed foxtrot about a

magical remote control, then don’t, because it doesn’t. This is Kevin Clifton who last year interpreted “Love Aint Here Any More” to mean “because it moved next door”. The foxtrot? Is nice. A little fast. But nice. But there’s still too many competing elements going on here and as a result I think whilst it was much better danced this did even less for her than last week. At least last week was fun.

I’m not sure what this was. I’d say it was one step too far into beige but that would neglect the colour of Kevin’s face.

It gets a Standing Ovation and Craig starts for the judges, saying he truly enjoyed that performance, particularly the musicality and cleanliness. Mmm. Clean. Darcey’s next and says she really liked the story and how it flowed into the dance but she thinks that Louise is coasting a little bit and Kevin needs to push her harder. I agree with Darcey for once. Although not the bit where she says she wants to see Louise SHOW HERSELF and then pulls this face

Louise can’t be Norma Desmond until Musicals Week Darcey.

Len’s next, and he loved the footwork, but thinks that Louise was a little too far to Kevin’s right side, which was causing her arms to stretch unnaturally. I love the idea that Len could think anything was too far right. It seems unlikely. Bruno closes by telling Kevin not to pick a fight in real life like he did in that routine, because a woman that beautiful never loses any arguments. Well let’s stick Kelly Brook on Question Time and find out shall we? Anyway, he thinks it was a wonderful soap opera of a dance hooray.

Up to Claud 9 they chintz, where we get a MEGAMUM BONUS as Claudia chats with Louise about how she practiced her foxtrot on the school run, and also discuss how Louise’s own mother and mother-in-law sit with their arms entwined in the audience every week. And speaking of intertwining arms

Greg and Gorka are having a bit of a moment at the back there. Powerfully erotic. Scores are in

33

Danny Mac & Oti Mabuse

I just realised that the clues to him being the latest Strictly Bot were there in his name the whole time. Tess starts with a lame joke about how Danny impressed everyone with his coup de pique last week, but better hope he hasn’t COUP DE PIQUE’D TOO SOON! I recount this mostly because I could take about 50 screengrabs of Oti’s face at the idea that Danny might have peaked too soon and they’d all be amazing

Just savour this one.

VT time and Oti asks Danny if he enjoyed the dance last week. He says he didn’t until the judges started talking. Oti then gives him the hose again. THAT’S STILL ENJOYING IT TOO MUCH! IF YOU’RE HAVING FUN YOU’RE NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH! SAVE THE CELEBRATIONS FOR WHEN YOU GET HER HER GLITTERBALL, AND NOT A MOMENT’S REST UNTIL THEN

NOW SAY YOU HATED EVERY MINUTE AND SHE’LL UNTIE YOUR LEGS, PEASANT. DON’T MAKE HER PINCH YOU AGAIN.

Training, and Danny tells us that he’s got the quickstep, which he has never heard of and knows nothing about. Fortunately Gloti and Carly Stenson have got some subliminal tapes to play into his ears whilst he sleeps, so Conscious Danny doesn’t need to know anything about quickstep. He’s just a willing, slightly dim, affable meatpuppet for them, and apparently now the Jaypet Army in their never-ending battle against The Cliftons. I can get behind this storyline to be honest. To teach Conscious Danny about the quickstep, Oti has a field trip for him. I swear the tone Oti puts on “I have a surprise for you! YOU’RE GONNA LOVE IT!” is exactly the same as Blofeld would use on a hapless minion before opening the trapdoor above the shark tank. In more mundane reality she’s actually taking him to see

Mario from Big Brother 11, and his wunnerful wunnerful orchestra. Both Danny and Oti try conducting – he is not good at it, Oti is (although she seems to be doing it mostly with her arse), let’s move on.

TO THE ORCHESTRA PIT!

I know that’s proper attire for the opera, but it really does look like he’s got two little legs dangling there over his chest. It looks like he should be partnering Cloudia. He and Oti are dancing to “I Won’t Dance” by Fred Astaire (sadly not the TONY GAGA version, what a missed opporunity) and let’s get this out of the way first – I think Len had a point about the faffing. Out of a 90 second routine, it takes a good third of it before they get into hold, and whilst it’s impressive that he can keep in time with Oti in the Charleston/Pendulum steps on the stage without

even looking at her, I didn’t need 30 seconds of jumping up and down on the stage before they started my favourite ballroom dance (Quickstep > Tango > V. Waltz > Waltz > Foxtrot). Having said that, once they get going, they get going. It’s full of content without being manic, it’s fast without his looking like he’s riding a motorbike over cobblestones (*cough*Laura*cough*) and for the first time he’s showing real actual personality beyond that of a background character from Magic Mike XXL on the dancefloor. There’s just a real lightness, ease and charm to it and I wish they’d packed out the full running time. It all builds a big run across the floor at the end with leaps and checks and


they’re just so very together, it’s great.

Now, I think, he has arrived.

It gets a standing ovation, albeit one that seems to fade fairly quickly, and Darcey starts for the judges, saying that that was pure class. She spent the whole time he was on the stage waiting for him to get started, and when he did, he just sailed. She was particualrly impressed that he clearly led the dance, because that’s very difficult for the male celebrities to do. Tameka of course, did it with ease for the ladies. Len’s next and says that he was impressed with the amount of swing and sway Danny got into the routine but, as you might expect, the stuff on the stage went on for too long and got on his wick.

Oti’s “DILLIGAF” face is a delight as ever. Maybe I should start a sideblog that is just pictures of Oti’s face at this point.

Bruno’s next, and he says that it was all right up there with Fred Astaire, and then

deploys the signal for the ovary voters to start mashing their ladyparts up against their laptops. They’ve changed the log-in procedures ladies, you’re really going to have to jiggle them. He does think that Danny “missed an arm in the slide” though. Whatever that means. Sounds like an unpleasant accident in a kiddy playground. Craig closes by groaning that Danny Mac is on fire. Do you think Danny Mac would notice if he was on fire? I don’t. I think he’d just think there was a bbq going on near by.

Up to Claud 9 they bound, where we learn that Danny’s mum dresses up her dogs every week to match Danny’s costumes.

Or is this next week? Are he and Oti going to be orthodox rabbis? Also, yeah, sure “Danny’s mum”. I hope Carly has them back at Battersea Dogs Home by the end of the weekend or they’ll double the fees. Claudia next turns to Danny and says that he told her that he was looking forwards to the quickstep most of all, and Danny says “yeah, ever since I was a little kid”. Erm, your VT started with you saying you didn’t even know what it was, can we get some internal consistancy here? I know the mastermind behind this whole thing grew up on the Hollyoaks set but this is some sloppy storylining. Scores are in

36. For those of you keeping track, to follow up from last week, over the first four dances, only Alesha and Natalie Gumede have got off to better starts. By one point. If he gets 37 or higher next week he surpasses them. With a blokerumba.

Daisy Lowe & Aljaz Skorjanec dancing the rumba

Turns out, when people hang out together for too long, they start to get the same face. It’s a very strange phenomenon but here we are. Tess tells us that last week Daisy was children’s favourite Mary Poppins, but now she’s “all grown up” with a sexy rumba. Ugh, way to sound like The Sun counting down to when its readers could legally pop Charlotte Church’s cherry Tess.

VT time, and Daisy is chatting with Aljaz about her quickstep, saying that her two favourite moments were when she clicked her fingers at the beginning to make Aljaz appear and afterwards when Darcey was nice about her footwork. Erm

and she’s wearing a nice top? I’m not sure a little bit more effort couldn’t be going into the women’s edits this series, texture wise. I’m starting to miss last year when you had genuine mental cases like Helen George and Katie Derham looning around the place, Anita wanting to stab Gleb in the neck with a biro the entire time, Jamelia’s VTs gradually becoming ever more manic variations on “THIS WEEK I WAS IN THE SODDING DANCE OFF A-SODDING-GAIN” and heck, even the sheer volume of Kellie was at least good for waking you up if you were nodding off. This year? Laura has a dog, Louise has a kitchen, Daisy has a nice top.

Training now and Daisy tells us she’s really excited to have the rumba, and I’m really excited to have yet another new side of Aljaz – Strict Aljaz. Excited for all of about 5 seconds because seriously

this is the best that they can do? It’s like a Championship footballer getting a bit shirty with the referee. About all I get out of it is Daisy actually uttering the sentence “when Aljaz is firm, you know he means business” and even that’s only a minor fit of the giggles. Aljaz is apparently being strict because he knows that Daisy has a lot of potential (to finish 4th, if she pushes herself, like, I’m still not convinced she doesn’t evaporate as soon as she has to jive). To this end, Daisy goes home and films herself practicing at home.

I love the contrast with Louise’s home counties mansion here. I’m half expeca flatmate to wander through in the background in his pants.

TO THE DANCEFLOOR!

Jeez, are they trying to summon Annie Lennox back, no thank you. Although, every time they take the camera to this angle I see a Smiley Face, which isn’t really setting the mood. In terms of rumba, the potential is clearly there for great things (they’re dancing to Careless Whisper, which contains the MOST obscene saxophone noises in the history of mainstream pop) but the whole raunchy effect is ruined by the fact that she does. not. shut. her. gob. once. I think she’s approaching this like a true model, in that the whole breathlessly post-coital parted lips thing works in still frames, and if a photographer were going through 200 rapidly fired off shots of this routine he could probably find some very sexy ones and it’d look great but



when you’re actually just walking around for 90 seconds solid like you’ve just left the dentist and the novocaine hasn’t worn off, it looks bloody odd at times. Also, after three attempts with able partnters, I’m just not sure the Aljaz rumbas are for this show. Every other major male pro has had least one that I liked a lot but Aljaz has just whiffed on Strike 3 – there’s alogether too much self-touching for one. Seriously, go back and watch Kara’s or Rachel’s or Cherie’s, they don’t do the titarubba at all but Daisy’s touching herself here more than that weird old man on the bus, and self-touching in the rumba on this show only ever comes off one way. That is to say VORDERUMBA. Technically? Her legs and hips look great, her arms look shonky

All in all, for the first time, I am disappointed in Daisy. I JUST WANTED RAW SEX.

It gets about 0.55 of a Standing Ovation whilst up on Claud 9

Chloe looks at Janette all “urrrgh, do you do that with Aljaz in private time? Grown up are so weird. I’m never having sex. AJ wanted to but I said just kissing and even then you have to watch Miss Congeniality 1 AND 2 first”. Len starts for the judges and reels off a list of rumba moves that Daisy did that he liked, and this is followed by Bruno huffing “CARELESS WHISPER? MORE LIKE BREATHLESS JUDGE!”. I love that Bruno is capable of taking Len’s most hackneyed basic form of judging dances and mishandle it. He then snarls that he is tingling, “shrivering”, and panting TO THE POINT OF TURNING. So when someone says the women never get letched over on this show…there’s your evidence.

Craig is next, and picks on her free arm, saying it like direction and definition, and then follows this up by saying he felt no chemistry between them on the dancefloor.

I love how affronted Aljaz is by this. “How dare you! Aljaz has chemistry with everything! Female, male, old, young, animate, inanimate, everything! Two year ago Aljaz had intense sexual chemistry with a levitating obese phantom from the West Midlands! IT IS NOT POSSIBLE THAT ALJAZ HAS NO CHEMISTRY WITH ONE OF THE WORLD’S SEXIEST WOMEN!”. Darcey closes by saying that in this case she thinks the BOY IS WRONG and that they had plenty of chemistry and she personally appreciated Daisy’s long and languid movements.

Up to Claud 9 they saunter, where Daisy tells Claudia that Strictly is the best experience of her life, and then we pretend that Aljaz was in any way strict or scary this week. It’s still not very convincing. Scores are in

31. Honestly, if you told me at this point that Daisy, Rinder and Louise had all scored exactly the same for all four of their dances I would believe you. MIX THINGS UP A BIT GUYS. MORE HIGH, MORE LOWS, FEWER CREAMY MIDDLES.

Judge Rinder & Oksana Platero dancing the Viennese Waltz

Tess cheerily introduces these two with the fact they’re dancing to “Boom Bang A Bang”, a song that won Bloody Lulu the Eurovision Song Contest. At the Judges Desk,

Darcey and Bruno idly wonder what exactly it is that Brendan’s doing up on the balcony there.

VT time and of all the comments from last week to revive, it’s Len’s dog-rough “I’M GIVIN THAT A U CERTIFICATE!” that the editors pick. The choices this show makes sometimes. There’s also a silly little skit about how Oksana and Darcey are both now competing for Judge Rinder’s love, and whilst I am a little tired of the “GOSH I NEVER THOUGHT I’D HAVE TWO WOMEN FIGHTING OVER ME (THE SUBTEXT IS THAT I AM GAY)” angle, because this is about the fourth time now, I’m still very much into how Judge Rinder cannot get through a sentence talking to Oksana without saying her name. It’s like he thinks she needs reminding.

Training now, and Judge Rinder grins wickedly that he’s going to be dancing to what is surely one of the most beautiful and…memorable songs of all time. “Boom Bangy Bang” by Bloody Lulu.

I wonder if “you all now hate Bloody Lulu” is part of the induction for this show now, or if she’s just rampaged around showbiz that much that this antipathy happens naturally? At any rate, the major focus of this VT is that Judge Rinder finds the constant twirling of the waltz makes him nauseous and sweaty, but at the same time he knows that he’ll only be any good at it if he just lets it come naturally. I’m not sure Judge Rinder lets anything come naturally (wouldn’t you agree Oksana?) so good luck.

TO THE ALPS!

Why, I have no idea. I have scoured the lyrics of “Boom Bangy Bang” (it didn’t take long) for any references to Switzerland, milking, lederhosen, or giant plastic cows, and come up with nothing. Either the logic is just

“Oksana is blonde, Heidi is blonde, let’s go with it” or I’m starting to think that they had the rights for another Eurovision classic taken away from at the last minute. The idea is that Oksana is a saucy coquettish milkmaid, who leads Rinder a merry dance until he ends up

snogging her cow, after which point she consents to let him Viennese Waltz with her. A bit. It’s basically one circuit round and the floor and one diagonal – the rest is a lot of faffing and wafting and yo ho ho aren’t I a jolly Swiss Mountain Lad stuff all with the usual

“facial expressions”. He’s making a decent fist of the technique (although he’s not perfect) but increasingly, as I mentioned after Daisy got her scores, he feels a little bit stalled out. The trappings and themings and props are increasingly feeling like a crutch that’s going to get kicked away any second and I’m not sure his dancing alone is strong enough to justify his being there too much longer, because more and more with the routines, there’s not a lot of “there” there.

Boom Bangy Bang indeed.

It gets a Standing Ovation that dies so quickly I’m not sure it’s not a Mexican Wave and when they get over to Tess, Judge Rinder points and waves to Boris Becker in the audience presumably because he’s…from…that area of Europe…ish. Which just prompts the real question here.

Bruno starts for the judges by saying that that was unusually restrained for Judge Rinder. Even with the plastic cow and the milkmaid get-up and the comedy wooden pails and the lederhosen and the panto thigh slapping and the gawping mouth and the Bloody Lulu on full shout in the background and the eye-burning neon blue of the video wall, that does feel true. In a diminishing returns sort of sense. (Wouldn’t you say so Oksana?) Bruno liked how full of content it was and that it showed that Judge Rinder can play it straight if he wants to. Yeah, I just think Bruno didn’t watch that dance at all. It happens. Craig’s next and we settle in for another round in another series of Craig vs Facial Expressions. This year it is Rinder, and they are too goofy. Last year it was Jay and they weren’t goofy enough. The pendulum swingeth.

Darcey’s next and she tells Rinder that he’s very good in hold, but out of hold he starts to over-exagerate all of his movements, and in this case she thought it “grinded with the narrative” they were telling. Yes, the very subtle and moving story of the boy who nearly fucked a cow. Len finishes, beginning by squawking “I LIKED IT!” in that way that indicates he really didn’t but on the other hand he tells Rinder about one time he saw someone on this show who inserted lots of little comedic elements into his routines, and told him to cut it out, and he did, and then he was eliminated the next week, so Rinder should just keep on going. I have no idea who he’s talking about. Once this show sends someone comedy, they never come back. Maybe he’s thinking of Dancing With The Stars?

Up to Claud 9 they moove, where everyone’s doing some sort of weird dance in his honour. I’ll give him this, Judge Rinder seems to be very popular backstage. Claudia asks him about the discrepancies between Craig telling him to straighten up and Len telling to keep mucking abaht, and Judge Rinder says it’s like if you ask three lawyers the same question you’ll get three different answers. And the fourth lawyer will then say THE BOYS ARE RIGHT. He goes on to call Oksana his beautiful Heidi, and then starts yodelling. I think. Scores are in

27

Lesley Joseph & Anton du Beke dancing the Charleston

Isn’t it nice to see these two getting along? It’s always nice when something that seems a little tentative and awkward on the Launch Show ends up working out. See also : Daisy’s dancing. Tess opens by telling us that to succeed in the Charleston you need cheeky moves, fun choreography and impeccable comic timing. Ah yes, the impeccable comic timing of Louis Smith and the blandest member of Girls Aloud. Magical.

VT time, and Anton and Lesley talk about how wonderful marvelous it was to do the quickstep for Movie Week, but it all ultimately ended up being a little marred by the fact that they were left until last to be called safe. Yes, well, that’s just the totally random order that Tess is given to read out that totally randomly always leaves someone with a comparatively crummy score until last. It really is no particular order guys. Totally random.

Tr

holiday time now, as Lesley is off filming Birds Of A Feather in Malta, and Anton has flown out to join her to train for their Charleston.

This picture just reminds me that I will not be satisfied this series until Lesley dances in some form of animal print. Leopard, tiger, zebra, heck, even giraffe. Lesley recounts a typical day for her – start filming at 7, finish filming at 5, train until 8, then go to bed. Anton does not recount a typical day for him on Malta, possibly because it involves so many banana daiquaris that he can’t keep his hours straight. On the last day of filming Anton gathers the entire cast and crew to watch Lesley do the dance, and Lesley acts like this is nervewracking and distracting when

I swear, Linda and Pauline get closer than that on a weekly basis anyway. They’re not even screaming “GO ON DOR!” and crying their faces off here.

TO THE CLASSY BAR CUM LOUNGE SET!

Two martinis before your Charleston Lesley? Be careful, we all saw what happened to Katie Derham last year. They’re doing the Charleston to “Won’t You Charleston With Me?” from The Boy Friend and it’s odd to see someone go out and play Charleston this straight. I know it’s down to the choreographers rather than Anton or Lesley, but it’s refreshing to just see someone go out and do basic Charleston moves quite well, rather than all this “I’M A MERMAID! I’M BY THE SEA! I’M A COWBOY!” stuff you always get now, even outside the theme weeks. I mean, the dramatic peak of the entire routine is

Anton doing a cartwheel for goodness sake! But it all just works because of how endearing and engaging Lesley is just dancing. She’s just so bouncy and energetic and fun. Who cares that she’s not entirely in sync with Anton some of the time, that her swivel and cross disappears entirely in the last 30 seconds, and the choreographers have installed a few “Lesley just stands still and catches her breath whilst Anton vamps” breaks in there?

IT’S DORIAN GREEN GODDAMNIT!

Anton parades her past the front row in that lift at the end, which is a surefire way to goose up a Standing Ovation well done, whilst up on Claud 9

Naga wonders on how she just got comprehensively outdanced by a woman a good 30 years older than her. Craig starts for the judges, saying that was all shocking…SHOCKINGLY GOOD THAT IS. He says that he could never keep that level of stamina up for that amount of time. Poor Mr Craig. Darcey’s next, praising Lesley for her high kicks and calling her a “cheeky naughty little girl”. Not so much patronising as just plain weird there.

Len’s next and wishes Lesley a happy birthday. He tells her that that was her best dance yet, and if she carries on dancing like that, there will be many more happy returns to come for her on Strictly. Jesus, how long is this series going to go on for? Is there a secret second lot competing somewhere that we don’t know about that are going to be thrown in at Blackpool? Are we going to get a record scratch effect halfway through the Last Dance segment, and have Syed Masood, Keisha Sugababes, and Comedy Contestant Duncan Bannatyne all march out ready to drag this series out til 2017 and Lesley’s next birthday? I mean, its been fun but I have my limits. Bruno finishes by mewing that Lesley always delivers, and telling her that she looked like a 20 year old out there. But a 20 year old what?

Up to Claud 9 they bundle, where Lesley collapses on Claudia like she’s just finished running a marathon, huffing that she’s been waking up at 5am every day this week for work. Anton’s been getting up at 5am a lot as well but…that just happens with men’s bladders at that age. Also, Lesley’s heavily pregnant daughter is here

Hello Lesley’s heavily pregnant daughter. Get ready to push it out soon, mummy doesn’t need extra votes quite yet but you never know and we all remember how Vanessa’s daughter utterly failed her in that regard, the selfish cow. Scores are in

31

Ore Oduba & Joanne Clifton dancing the jive

Jeez, did they have that eye make-up left over from the Geisha dance of whatever series that was in. Tess does this intro from the audience and

can we stop doing this, I have never seen in my life a woman who less wants to be on camera at this moment in time and I sat through an entire episode of Nigella’s chat show.

VT time, and Ore tells Joanne that last Saturday was one of the greatest nights of his life. Yeah you just wait. He says that social media has blown up and he’s receiving SO MANY TWEETS. Again, just you wait…Anyway, Joanne returns to the topic of Gene Kelly’s widow and how even SHE said that she’d be proud. Now this has been mentioned so many times now they’ve pushed me to Google, because I was expecting some sort of adorable coot old Joanne Woodward lady giving her benediction here, but instead we’re talking about a woman who was married to Gene for 6 years at the end of his life, after they met when he hired her to write his memoirs, who is a good 40 years younger than him. Not that there’s anything wrong with that obvious, I’m just leaving the information to help you with the visual. Oh and she also apparently pops up quite often when reality tv shows use Singin’ In The Rain for anything. But still, a magical magical moment.

Training now and

jesum crow Ore, put it away. Anastacia spreads her legs less widely than that when she does the splits. He and Joanne are doing the jive, which requires lots of leg power and stamina and teamwork and performance. So what better place to go than

WEMBLEY! Home of the England Football Team, famous for being overcompensated, unpopular, and never winning tournaments. Watch and learn Ore! Joanne has Ore jiving up the stadium steps, in the dressing room, and down the tunnel, although it’s very noticable they don’t seem to have been allowed on the actual pitch. Anyway, Ore jives about until he hobbles himself and then stumbles upon a

sleeping Joanne. England matches often have that effect on people, so I hear, especially these days. (Can we move on now so I can stop trying to make football jokes, thanks bye)

TO THE DANCEFLOOR!

Ore and Joanne are dancing to “Runaway Baby” as previously performed to by blog mascot Holly Valance. I point out this repetition not just to show off my spreadsheets again, but because I watched it again before recapping this dance, and it certainly provides some context if we really want to talk about sloppy legs in a jive because jeeeeeeeeeeeeeesus. This is much more energetic, lively, sharp, and if it gets a little wild and sloppy then heck it’s a jive that’s what it was made for. What put me off St Jill’s Holy Original in the long term was that she danced the whole thing like she was straight out of a saloon in Westworld. It’s packed with content from beginning to end (including my very favourite piece of choreography ever “doing dance stuff whilst going up and down stairs” seriously I NEVER get bored of that stuff EVER), flies around the floor, and mercifully for a Joanne Clifton routine, CONTAINS ZERO USE OF PROPS.

Although slightly too much use of her hoiking her skirt up like she’s fording a stream on a Geography field trip. Is it a very very top tier jive? Probably not. Am I going to deny getting a profound electrical charge in my knicker-elastic from the sight of him repeatedly rabbit kicking HARD into the floor with a supremely cocky look on his face?

No, no I am not. (Although good grief Clifton, what are you doing there, this isn’t a photoshoot for Bunty)

The fireman stuff is forgiven.

It gets a raucous standing ovation, a lot of which appears to be coming from Claud 9, particularly Danny, Greg and Brenda. All boys together isn’t it? Once he’s over at Tess, she asks Darcey if Ore will be needing some tissues this week in reference to his histrionics of the week ebfore, and Darcey gushes that forget that SHE’S GOING TO NEED TISSUES AT THIS RATE. I would offer some up but erm…I just used my last one, sorry. She really admires how Ore understands implicitly every genre he dances. Do you want to go back and look at his tango Darcey? Because I don’t. Len’s next and he shouts that it was “showstopping, jaw-dropping, and eye-popping” and then decides to go thee whole hog and headbutt the Drama Button by proclaiming “move over Jay”.

Feel the excitement. Feel the fear. Get ready to change your locks and hammer that Block Button Ore. (The hilarious thing is that, given his background, his general style in Latin, and his overall marking so far this easily could have been Danny eating the wrath of the Jaypet Army, give or take a few bonus rage points for being not partnered with a Clifton. Easily.)

Bruno is next, proclaiming A Star Is Born and that the Holy Trinity Of Jive is now “Jill, Jay, and Olly”. Was that a write-in from Natalie Lowe? To this

yup, Ore’s crying again. Craig closes by saying that as far as he’s concerned, Ore is now the one to beat, and he hopes Danny Mac was watching, because he JUST GOT A STORYLINE TO MAKE HIM LOOK LESS INCREDIBLY ONE NOTE AND BOR…I MEAN HE JUST GOT SOME COMPETITION!

They charge up to Claud 9, with Ore in floods of tears, wailing “NOT AGAIN!” at his own wussiness. Anastacia

finds this all so hilarious she might burst. Not since the glory days of Michelle Williams screaming “WE LOVE YOU AAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNN!” right down Widdy’s ear hole has Claud 9 seen such Americanism. Claudia then moves on to saying “Jay” so many times I worry he’s about to suddenly appear like Beetlejuice or Candyman or a teacher that you were in the middle of slagging off and

I’m not sure if they’re overawed by this or realise they’re screwed but enjoy the really persistant enemies this show just dumped on your doorstep like a basket of feral kittens on Christmas morning guys. Scores are in

39. If nothing else this has demonstrated scientifically the exact point where Darcey feels comfortable giving out 10s. It’s Week 3.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001.

Final Leaderboard?


The biggest scoring gap between top place and bottom place since the last gasps of Widdy there. NIGHT!

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38 thoughts on “Strictly Come Dancing 14 – Week 4 Performance

  1. Pops

    Loved your Anastacia/lamppost analogy!
    I think I share your fascination with people dancing on stairs – I’m hypnotised by this clip of James Cagney. (Maybe it’s because I watched Over the Rainbow where half the Dorothys could barely walk down the staircase in heels, bless ’em.)

    Reply
      1. Baby Jane Hudson

        Oh yes, totally agre – the Nicholas Brothers stair dancing / stair splits is jaw droppingly amazing. I love Fred and Ginger dancing up the stairs to Never Gonna Dance in Swing Time too.

  2. ChaChaChavvy

    Greg looks like he’s wandered into Monsoon and not realised it’s a shop for middle-aged ladies. And yet, somehow he carries it off.

    I feel they’ve sent Rinder in a bizarrely wrong direction. I was envisaging an AS to Ethel Merman, a VW to Dusty Springfield, a rumba to Dame Shirl, a Paso to Sparks, a tango to some noir-ish 80s synth-pop. If ever there was a celeb capable of being darkly camp or fiercely dramatic. I don’t know why they’ve declawed him so much, especially when Comedy Ed is in the same series.

    Is Cloudier this year’s celeb who Craig’s going to mark down for a misplaced thumb, while giving someone else a 9 for being stagey?

    Reply
    1. monkseal Post author

      Judge Rinder as the MC in Musicals Week would be very the one (like he’s getting that far ah well).

      Reply
    1. monkseal Post author

      I remember Anya lobbing a drink in his face at the end and looking outraged, which is one of my favourite Anya looks.

      Reply
  3. DeltaBlues

    I assumed the whole Rinder/Oksana theming came about at the end of a long and arduous producers’ meeting at the point where everyone really just wanted to go home. Someone eventually shrugged and said “fuck it, Viennese… Vienna… Austria… mountains… cows… milkmaids and lederhosen. Right, sorted, let’s all fuck off to the pub.”

    Reply
  4. Baby Jane Hudson

    Danny and Oti’s quickstep was the best thing I’ve seen on this show for ages and only reinforced how much an appropriate piece of music that works with a dance, rather than fighting against it, is so important.
    I think I may be team Danny and team Daisy now, so that’s a good indication that neither of them is going to be lifting that glitter ball – sorry Oti.

    What has happened to Kevin that he is unwilling to choreograph a routine with any emotional depth beyond an episode of Rainbow? In fact I think Zippy showed more emotional range than Kevin is willing to convey. I know the tempo was fairly upbeat, but the song is about a heart rending break up and doesn’t really scream domestic tiff about a remote control rictus grinned foxtrot. It’s bizarre.

    Reply
    1. John G

      I think the deal with Kevin is… well let’s say I’ve guessed where the Curse of Strictly is going to land next, though it probably won’t be Louise’s fault. His face when Karen was doing her demented fraggle dance at the end of Live Show the other week really was something. Course I could be wrong and those two could be Nutters 4 Lyfe.

      Rinder does need to darken it up a bit ChaChaCavvy, that’s a great idea. He also needs to bitch-off with Craig more because it’s funny (to me).

      BTW – Keep them both?!? You folks are easily pleased. Bin AJ pronto please.

      Reply
      1. DJ Mikey

        Looking forward to a dark and moody Tango by the Judge.

        Also AJ does need binned, but I will allow him to stay on the condition that he somehow eliminates the Clifton Siblings..

      2. redfred

        I had same thought re AJ. Not sold on him at all yet, though that might be different if the producers stopped painting him and Claudia as a pair of 12 year olds. I’m extra grumpy because he’s still there and Gorka is left to look pretty in the background. Mostly.

        I disagree with Len – I want to see what Rinder can do when he’s not being lumbered with props/comedy stylings. Plus I like Oksana, and the fact that both of them seem to be taking the whole thing with a large pinch of salt.

  5. Martin

    I would love “My słowianie” used for a dance but (a) I haven’t a clue which one would fit, (b) the singers would kill whoever suggested it and (c) it would have to be the year that Samantha Fox or Melinda Messenger did Strictly… 🙂

    Reply
  6. BeyonceCastle

    Is Nat putting in an early bid for Olly next series?
    Jo looked Nicole Kidmanesque in that 60s do.
    Holly’s jive still my fave. Hush your mouth about sloppy legs Christopher 😉
    Looks like Cloudia’s picked up Will’s samba music for this weekend, Laura seems to have got Cloudier’s jive music by mistake and the less said about Ed’s the better….
    X

    Reply
    1. monkseal Post author

      I feel like Will and Anastacia between them have done for the “OH I WAS A GUEST PERFORMER AND IT LOOKED LIKE SUCH FUN!” thing for a while. Because, y’know, turns out not.

      Reply
  7. farfetched

    Lesley is coming across great – although she has been a reality tv GOAT since she did Come Dine With Me. She let her cats walk all over the food and didn’t tell anyone, then undercooked her beef and everyone had to fry it themselves. That week was an all round classic as far as I can remember; I think Linda Lusardi won, Paul Ross was unbearable and everyone hated Abi Titmus. I wonder what the venn diagram between CDWM and strictly is?

    Reply
  8. Mr. AsNTM

    No Jeppo poll? I know she only have one and a half album out and only a few singles people care about, but I was hoping for a poll. “Run Away with Me” FTW!

    Reply
  9. wh-wcs

    Back off on Girls Aloud’s blandest’s charleston- I effin’ loved it.

    And NObody beats Waggy Clancy for time spent dancing with her mouth hanging open.

    Reply
  10. Laura

    Cucumberpatch is this year’s Andy Murray. The most we’re getting is him saying ‘Good luck Bobby!’ via iPad in a VT, which will incidentally be the week Rinder goes home.

    Re: high standard, I think it’s that there is no-one left who is that terrible (well apart from Ed) rather than that everyone is outstandingly good. People that we’d have expected to be middling at best when the series started have surpassed expectations, and even those who aren’t particularly brilliant have some mitigating factor – fanbase, popular pro, ‘comedy’ value etc – which has helped keep them off the bottom (other than Anastacia and perhaps Lesley). Either that, or all the stage school kids are cancelling each other out.

    Reply
  11. DJ Mikey

    I was wondering how long it would take Danny to become a bot – I don’t think we’ve had an official bot, since Kimbotley Walsh!!

    Reply
  12. redfred

    Given their quicksteps this week, I’m quite keen to see both Laura and Danny’s Charlestons if/when they get to do them. I’m hoping, probably in vain given what normally happens, that they get to do them without masses of props and cheese as they’re both perfectly capable of doing it well without needing that to distract from the dancing.

    Not too sure on this week’s music choices… though wondering if Anton can pull out another surprise tango like he did with Katie last year.

    Reply
  13. MorticiaA

    Love your interpretation of Kevin as a serial killer. To me he is channelling Freddie Highmore’s junior Norman Bates in the fabulously campy Bates Motel..
    Also agree with whoever wants Rindy to have a week without comic theming and overactive face. He showed promise in the AS. Would love to see him do a classic ballroom.

    Reply

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