Strictly Come Dancing 14 – Week 7 Performance

So it’s Danny vs Louise now? Not Danny vs Ore? So hard to keep up these days.

Last Week : serial killers and demons and bloodythirsty vampires and reanimated corpses and vengeful ghosts and practitioners of the dark arts and vile experimenters and death itself and then the worst archfiend of them all

This week : at the halfway point, our remaining celebrities are taking this pre-show time to pay tribute to their pros. Giovanni is incredible, Natalie really understands how to get the best out of Greg (it’s rumbadodging), Joanne and Ore have the best time together, Claudia wants to make AJ proud, Daisy feels like Aljaz has become like her

BROTHER, HE’S LIKE HER BROTHER, DON’T GET IT TWISTED TABLOIDS, and Danny thinks that Oti is a massive inspiration to everyone.

That time they played Whack-A-Mole in training was so much fun. He definitely won’t forget the routine ever again. Some other things he can’t remember now – what day it is, what his name is, that sort of thing. But the routines? Never again.


These two were best of friends as well, BIG DADDY LOVES HIS LATINASTACIA HOT SPICY MAMA YEE H…oh have they turned the cameras off right, bye love, I’ve left a complimentary mint in your suitcase, if you want to speak to me again call my agent.

The band strikes up and if you were worried about the lack of theme this week, then don’t worry

it’s Tess Wears A Hideous Jumpsuit Week. That’s always a classic. Who can forget that heartwarming interview with Sunetra Sarker where she said that her Dead Nan always used to wear hideous pastel coloured jumpsuits and she just wanted to stay in to see Tess wear one? And hey remember when Anton wanted to make it this far because he won all of his Ballroom Championships wearing hideous jumpsuits? Memories. At any rate, it’s Bonfire Night on Strictly, so get ready for bangers galore (thanks Wardrobe), the judges spinning like Catherine Wheels, and most perturbingly, a neglected old damp squib of a rocket that goes off in everyone’s faces when it’s least expected. By which I mean Len’s after Louise’s Argentine Tango.

Danny Mac & Oti Mabuse dancing the jive

I know it feels like this series has been on for a long time, but I didn’t realise it was Christmas already! I haven’t done any of my shopping! Tess reminds us that Danny muffed up his foxtrot last week, but we’re all hoping for him to come roaring back with his jive flicks and kicks. Speak for yourself. In my darker hours I’m starting to hope for the multiple car pile-up that only a Greg-Rinder-EdBalls final could provide in this Year Of The Man. Don’t tell me it wouldn’t be memorable. Imagine three showdances of that calibre, more over Tom Chambers.

VT time, and indeed it’s given over to Danny making a mess of his foxtrot. The great thing is that this all means that the show has to try to wring drama yet again out of slow-motion foxtrot footwork

LOOK! IF WE SHOW IT FROM THIS ANGLE IT SORT OF LOOKS LIKE OTI TROD ON HIS FOOT! ISH! DRAAAAAAMAAAAAAAAAA! I think my favourite part is Danny waffling on about how it’s alright, they went wrong, but it’s cool, they just have to pick themselves up, not sweat it, carry on, know there are worse things in life than mucking up a dance etc etc and then at the end Oti

just eyeballs him and says “…and do a better job”. I don’t think forgiveness comes easy to this one.

Training, and Oti tells us that Danny’s jive this week will be set in a pool hall.

Already I think I can make out Danny’s billiards if I squint. Anyway, this sets up another round of Danny vs Oti : VT Wars. After he bested her at fencing and she bested him at conducting, the final (please) game is a winner take all round of pool. As you might expect it turns out that whilst Danny is good at pool, Oti is amazing

and capable of pocketing all the balls at once via the power of skill, precision, and a researcher hiding under the table with a vacuum cleaner on full suck. They’ve borrowed him off Bruno for the week. This all gives Danny a great opportunity to show off his

Hollyoaks Surprised Faces acting. It’s like one of those Youtube videos where someone does a magic trick for a Labrador Retriever. Oti wins, handily, let’s all hope that this pretence they’ve set up where Danny exists even on the same competitive plane as Oti Mabuse in any field ends now.


LOL ringer. Oti and Danny are jiving to “Long Tall Sally” which I was really excited about until I remembered that no human being alive, and certainly none in the Strictly Band, is quite Little Richard’s equal. It all starts with a moment of

impeccable side-eye sass and then they’re off to the races. Definitely this is a dance that’s serving its purpose tonight – to intimidate the hell out of everyone else still to come with its sheer force of ringerness and ever pumping limbs. Technically it’s almost certainly the best dance of the night, and he’s also performing the hell out of it, even with his trousers pulled up to his armpits. There’s

powerful high kicks

double sliding splits

hair-slickin’ “gettin a beej in my lunchbreak” hands

and even a jumping splits off the pool table to finish it off. If I have one criticism of the choreography it’s that the routine is pretty much backloaded with all these stunts – I know if I was taking screenshots of the first 45 seconds rather than the last 45 then it’d just be a lot of him stomping about very decorously. I do wonder if after he blanked out last week Oti was a little bit…safe here, and hopefully we’ll soon get a routine where they get to the fireworks factory a little bit quicker.

I know he can do it. I can just feel it happening on a Charleston and I really don’t want it to happen on a Charleston, because it’s a frigging Charleston.

He huffs and puffs over to Tess, who takes this time to introduce the usual suspects.

I include this picture only to give Lance full props for wearing literally the tiniest Rememberance Sunday poppy I have ever seen, right in the middle of his tie. It’s like a sandtrap for the Poppy Patrol to go charging headlong into. Oh and of course


Len starts for the judges, and gushes that Danny is back in the game, and he’s not sure that that’s LONG TALL SALLY so much as it was FAST FOOT DANNY. Or more accurately Fast Food Danny – quick, dirty, a little bit greasy, and leaving me feeling a little thirsty… Still, as it’s Len, he thought Danny’s legs were a little bent. Oti’s all

“sometimes hitting your partner in the knee with a crowbar because they forgot their foxtrot can have lasting effects yes, but I stand by my methods”. Bruno follows, hollering that Danny is a MAJOR LEAGUE HUSTLER and that he doesn’t know what’s going on this year with men and their suddenly being able to jive. You wait until Ed has a go Bruno, I’ve got a feeling that, as Chloe – Queen Of It Takes Two might say, that he’s going to take it to a WHOLE NOTHER LEVEL. Anyway Bruno flails around gurning about how Danny was on it and cool “just went right under him in a most unexpected way” (…?!…) and then Craig has to break in to say it wasn’t that good darling. Oh Craig, let Bruno feel his fantasy, he’s losing his best girl tonight. Great pirouettes, great jumping split, but he needed more restraction in his legs. Darcey finishes off, saying that she loved the “pull and tug” between Danny and Oti (I bet she did, the dirty birdy) and she’s not surprised he didn’t have strong straight legs given the speed of everything. Darcey criticising something before giving it a 10 there.

Up to Claud 9 they duck where Danny talks about how nervous (drink) he had been about blanking out and forgetting the routine again like he did last week. He says that he was worried, but then wiped it out of his head by remembering just how good he felt in those first few weeks when he was MegaRinger and nothing could touch him, and he broke through. Also Oti took him out to the carpark and showed him a duffelbag in her car boot that contained a blowtorch, some pliers, and a set of very fine needles. Scores are in

38. Jesus, is Tess somehow managing to grope his GUNZ even from the studio floor?

At this point Chas & Dave come out to do Snooker Loopy over the Terms & Conditions, and everyone goes mental, singing along, clapping, dancing about and acting the fool. Everyone that is

except Oksana who looks confused and bored. Rindy’s attempts to perk her up, like someone who’s accidentally brought their flamboyantly gay son to a football match, are adorable indeed.

Daisy Lowe & Aljaz Skorjanec dancing the Viennese Waltz

Tess tells us that Daisy’s had a tough week, what with being in the Bottom 2 and all, but this week she’s coming back with a Viennese Waltz set at a flower stall. Apparently Aljaz has made sure that she’s well watered, given plenty of direct sunlight, and then he fed her after midnight and she turned into a Gremlin. Something like that.

And lo, in her VT,

Daisy is lit from behind with soft-focus sunlight, making it feel as though she is speaking to us from beyond the grave, from Strictly heaven. Those sun-dappled uplands where Rachel and Vincent dance the rumba dressed as cherubs forever, and Alesha feasts on everlasting nibbles. She tells us that she knew she was going to be on the dance-off last week, as she felt like she hadn’t given her paso her all on the night, but she’s glad that she got to do it justice when she performed it again in the dance-off. If she says so.

In training, after last week’s slightly self-pitying affair

it’s all smiles again for these two. That’s Daisy thinking about floaty dresses, princess tiaras and “beautiful balls in Vienna” apparently. I’ve never bagged an Austrian, so I’ll take her word for it. As Daisy is so inspired by the authentic Viennese origins of the dance, the BBC have sprung for a free holiday for her in

North London. What, did you think she was Louise Redknapp or something? Busfare expenses only and Evil Moira Ross In A Rainbow Wig wants the receipts on her desk by Sunday morning. Daisy is taught by “Gary & Martha”, who work the markets, how to sell fruit and veg. And by “how to sell”, I mean Daisy repeats customers orders back to them whilst someone else handles the bagging up and all the old dears flock round Aljaz looking for a photo opp. Bless Daisy, I don’t see her bellowing out “FIVE FOR A PAAAAAAAAAAAAHND” down the markets any time soon, even if the modelling work does dry up. Based on her lung capacity as demonstrated on the show so far she’d be reaching for the inhaler 10 minutes in anyway.


I’ve looked and I’ve looked but I can’t see any hint of Aljaz’s plums there. The quest continues. Daisy is waltzing to “Daisy Bell” aka “Daisy Daisy”, a music choice so on the nose I can’t believe it wasn’t used for her in Week 1. Actually it would have made a cracking Hallowe’en dance for her as well. Aljaz could have been AL500, an insane dying robot who shoves Daisy out the airlock at the end. Hire me for Hallowe’en theming guys, I am very much available. The theming here? A little overtwee for my liking. It all begins with Daisy twirling into the marketplace

with Aljaz AGOG at her beauty.

AGOG I tell you, and then proceeds to a very cutesy Viennese with lots of little hops and skips and

moments where they’re pretending to ride a tandem bicycle together. Daisy having way more self-control regarding her hand placements in that segment than I think any of the rest of us would have. It all feels like it’s aiming for the full on LSD Euromadness of something like Pixie Lott’s Viennese Waltz and isn’t quite landing it 100%. Apart maybe from in this moment

where flower petals start falling from the ceiling and Daisy genuinely looks like she’s just been told this week’s dance-off results. A lovely dance, and her ballroom technique is (mostly) still reasonably clean, but not a roaring comeback so much as a solid entry in Daisy’s portfolio moving forwards.


Afterwards, Daisy gets a fit of hysterics so all-encompassing I worry that flower petals weren’t all that was being pumped in through the vents during the dance. Bruno is worryingly calm for his comments as well, all about how Daisy was light and elegant as a feather, which only goes to confirm it for me. If it’s calmed Bruno down those are some powerful drugs indeed. I’m not even sure he stood up once! Craig’s next, and says he thought Daisy coped very well with all the changes of direction, and loved the quirky choreography, but he thought she messed up the throwaway oversway. Aljaz jokingly (or not) protests that it was only meant to be a throwaway. This is one of those moments I have to plead total ignorance I’m afraid.

Darcey’s next, and she says that she loved all the rotations (it’s a Viennese Waltz love) and can only imagine how dizzy Daisy got in there, but she’d love to see her exaggerate her topline just a little more. Still, Darcey thinks she’s got a beautiful aura, and that’s what counts. Does it surprise me that Darcey believes in auras? Not a bit. I bet she’s well into her homeopathy and her healing crystals and her magnesium infused air filtration systems as well. Len closes by saying that it was a charming dance, and reminded him of a daisy chain. Let’s not speculate on Len’s involvement or otherwise with daisy chains, and just appreciate how deftly and subtly he tells Darcey she’s talking utter arse about top-lines.

Up to Claud 9 Daisy parps, where she giggles about being a princess and Darcey telling her she has a lovely aura, and Claudia tries to tell us that Stern Aljaz came out in training this week.

How would we ever know, we never bloody see any. Maybe someone tried to shoplift a bunch of bananas from the marketstall and he WASN’T HAVING IT? Scores are in

34. Still fairly resolutely “early 30s” isn’t she?

Ore Oduba & Joanne Clifton dancing the salsa

I still think he’s very handsome gawd bless him.

VT time and there’s a lot of “well it was fun” and “I enjoyed myself!” about their Charleston, because I’m fairly sure it’s illegal on this show to express hatred of the Charleston. Imagine if they’d given it to Gavbot. His absolute loathing of it would have been legendary. Having to dress up stupid, having to pull faces, having to heft Katya about, probably not being able to take his top off. LOATHED it he would have, and I would have loved every second. Anyway, at this point Joanne is just about ready to admit that the lift went wrong, as we see it

repeated in slow-motion with a sound-bed of her going “woooAARRghhARGH” over the top, making it all resemble an old kung-fu movie.

Training now and throughout

Ore is modelling this leftover from the Will Young collection. Joanne tells him that in salsa, you always have to be moving, and nothing is allowed to stop or be still or be quiet ever ever ever ever ever. You’d think this would suit Joanne down to the ground wouldn’t you? Ore on the other hand is finding it a little difficult to integrate his hip movement with the fact that he also has to do lifts, especially after the mess that happened last week.

Well good luck to him.


Every woman who’s ever worked behind a bar will recognise that lean and that facial expresion. Not many will remember it positively. Meanwhile at the other end of the room

Joanne looks sort of terrifying. I know people have said it a lot about Natalie, but that is pure Vicky Sparkles right there in the flesh. The two of them are dancing to “Turn The Beat Around” by Vicky Sue Moore and for a routine that started with a VT focusing around the need to never stop moving

he appears to stop moving quite a lot throughout, usually with the same puffed-out cheeks effortful face, usually to support Joanne doing…something or other. I think he’s been let down by choreography here, as the whole routine seems to be him supporting Joanne showing off (and with the best will in the world, Joanne is not a salsa dancer), and it looks laboured, especially in the lifts, all of which just about come off, but all of which also require a lot of set-up and throughout all of which Ore handles Joanne like she weighs twice her actual body weight. Could it have hurt to give Ore a few moments to show himself off, beyond the odd (and I mean) odd moment where he

swings his butt at the audience so hard it almost takes out the entire front row? Apparently this routine was choreo’d by Mr Oksana himself, and as I said way back in my preview posts for the new pros I’ve never liked his work when I’ve seen it on So You Think You Can Dance, so it’s no surprise, but still a shame. It all ends with Ore goosing up the crowd for the endpose

Joanne falling backwards down the stairs. And I’ve done that many times whilst drunk and never expected applause for it.

We get a quick pan to Claud 9, and I don’t want to spoil anyone’s fantasies specifically but

there’s a bit of a family resemblence there isn’t there? Can we trace Mummy Anton’s family tree back through Spain? I want a Who Do You Think You Are? style tearful reveal in the finale please. (Congrats to Anton for the baby news incidentally. So many pros sprogging these days…) Once Ore reaches Tess she yells “THOSE HIPS! THOSE LIFTS!” as Ore goes to

give Joanne yet another squeeze that leaves her looking a bit longingly wistful for her personal space. Wherever that went all those weeks ago. Craig starts by saying that Ore is now back in it, as those lifts were brilliant and he liked the accents Ore put on everything, but he felt the hip action was missing. Darcey’s next and says she liked it, but felt like Ore was overemphasising his arms at the expense of his legs. She then demonstrates this

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in a way that borders on the terrifying.

Len’s next, praising Ore for his fun, flair and flamboyance and saying that he was staring at Ore’s arse throughout and didn’t detect any problems. Good to know. Finally Bruno closes by yelling that Ore TURNED ON THE HEAT. Well it is that time of year isn’t it?

Up to Claud 9 they wriggle with

time for a quick mug to camera on the way. Ore tells Claudia he was crestfallen last week but he has fallen in love with salsa, and he and Joanne have never had as much fun in training as they’ve had this week. Who would have thought anything could be more FUN FUN FUN than Charleston, I can’t believe it. Apparently at one point Joanne told him to be a jellyfish. MADNESS! Scores are in


Ed Balls & Katya Jones dancing the quickstep

Tess tells us that Ed last week did a cha cha that was full of both content and comedy (/inappropriate self-touching) and says that Ed is going to try to be more serious this week in his quickstep. She’s not holding out much hope for that though, as he and Katya are dressed as Laurel & Hardy. Looking at them it’s fairly obvious they’ve been dressed as Hardy & Hardy, because they just can’t let that wig die.

VT time, and Ed tells Katya that from the first second he stomped out and went “OOH AHHH” he knew that his cha cha was going to go down well. Ah the benefit of diminished expectations. Katya jokes with him that now Bruno’s given Ed an 8, he can’t take it back. I doubt he’d want to. I doubt he remembers he gave it. I doubt Bruno even remembers who any of these people are when they’re not stood 10ft away from him. If any of us saw him in the street and asked him about Ed Balls he’d say “who?” and then giggle because you said “balls”.

Training, and Ed tells us that his quickstep routine this week will be a tribute to the actors who starred in silent movies, like Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, and Tom Chambers. Oh wait, my mistake on that last one, I just got confused because I used to hit the mute button every time he appeared on screen. This is all the set up for a Comedy VT wherein Ed becomes more and more like a silent movie star every time Katya appears and honestly

stick a wig on this and it’s how I remember Widdy. On the dancefloor. Just imaging Anton farting about around her with a rose or a matador’s cape or whatever and we’re right back there.


The theme here, to a dance being performed to “Help” by The Beatles (that classic silent movie music) is very much slapstick fun with Ed

wafting his wood in Katya’s face

recreating Daisy and Aljaz’s iconic credits pose (CHOREOGRAPHY THIEF!)

this (which I believe was Aliona’s first offer when the show got in touch to ask her to come back when Natalie got injured)

and…just…dragging Katya around by the ankle? Whatever it is, it works, and certain other pros (*cough*Giovanni*cough*) could take lessons here in how to choreograph around your partner’s deficiencies without leaving anybody watching feeling particularly cheated. The quickstep? All told there’s about 30 seconds of it, and it mostly involves Ed boinging from one side of the ballroom to the other up on his tippy toes. But he’s got a decent turn of speed, and it looks better than any of the other ballroom he’s done so far. It all ends with Katya knocking his hat off and him kicking her into

a final splits. Quite sweet.

They wander over to the judges, where Darcey starts by praising his slapstick and saying that she wasn’t expecting him to be as light on his feet as he was. She does however, think it got a bit too bouncy. Len’s next, and he says that Ed needs help with his footwork, and help with his posture, but no help at all with being fun and entertaining. Len, as ever, needing no help at all with being incredibly patronising. Bruno follows, saying that if he was marking the dances on comedic mayhem, Ed would get a 10 every time. Wait, he’s not? What is he marking them on then? I’m lost. Finaly Craig closes us off by saying that he was annoyed by Ed’s thumb sticking up but, and he can’t quite believe he’s saying this, Ed is definitely improving.

That fucking wig isn’t.

Up to Claud 9 they romp where Ed calls Katya a choreographical genius, and Claudia asks him how it feels to be back in ballroom after so many weeks of latin. The collective simultaneous strained

“you wot mate” grins on the faces of Daisy and Greg here are quite something. Ed Balls says it was fast and rhythmic and that’s how he likes it and oh look there goes my dinner. Claudia then asks Ed if it’s too early to say the “B word” and yes it is, always. Although Ed thinking she’s talking about his bottom rather than about Blackpool is rather sweet. If a little presumptuous. It’s not bad, but you’re not Greg mate. Scores are in


Laura Whitmore & Giovanni Pernice dancing the samba

Tess tells us that it’s been a mixed series for Laura, and I think this is the week that Laura clicked for me as a contestant, because “Superfan For Whom Everything Goes Wrong” is a Strictly niche that’s never been filled until now. In her head Laura was a Kara Tointon. In reality she was a Tiny Tina with the added indignity of the show trying constantly to angle it like she wanted to shag her Jared.

VT time, and it all opens with Giovanni telling his Bella that she danced so well last week. Laura’s all

“MY NAME’S LAURA!” (she’s not, but wouldn’t that have been funny?).

Training now, and Giovanni tells Laura that the concept for their samba this week is red carpet glamour and as practice this week he’s going to take her to an awards ceremony. Because that worked out so well for Tameka. Laura does her best to sell “well I’ve been on the red carpet many times interviewing, but I’ve never been there learning a new dance!” as a line God bless her. Sub Uwe Boll that dialogue. Anyway, she and Giovanni go to the Pride Of Britain Awards, where nothing much happens other than

Joan Collins sidling up to them like Darth Sidious all “destroy Ed Balls for me bloody lefties hiss hiss” before disappearing in a cloud of smoke. She’s definitely too old to do the show now right? Just checking. I’ve only got so much garlic in the house.


Laura and Giovanni are doing the samba to “Bamboleo” and I’ll give the show credit for this – their stage-managed removal of the midtable women has been seemless so far. Anastacia gets a lovely high with her quickstep and is then bounced immediately afterwards by being buried under Brenda theatrics, and now Laura gets a lovely high with her quickstep and now gets a samba quite literally rolled all over her poorly ankle. Good luck getting any bounce here. There’s a nice moment of

over-the-shoulder Hollywood glamour to start and she manages some nice initial wiggles and jiggles, but from the moment Giovanni decides to have her pelt across the floor flinging her arm out like she’s throwing sweeties to the crowd at the big “…BAMBOLEO” moment, just like he did with Georgia at the exact same moment in Volare EXCEPT HER LEGS WORKED GIOVANNI, GET A CLUE. From that moment on it’s just Giovanni overdancing terrifyingly whilst Laura kind of exists somewhere near him trying to bob saucily upside down whilst not aggrevating everything. I think my favourite bit is when Giovanni does about 50 batucadas/cucarachas/whatevers whilst Laura literally just stands there hopping up and down

recreating the “excuse me but I’m about to give birth” animation loop from The Sims. And her mouth

stays like that for the duration. Someone get this girl some gas and air. This all culminates in a moment of what I hope is going to live for the ages as a Strictly moment – Laura actually DISAPPEARING for the end pose so we can all watch Giovanni do 10 spins across the floor instead.

This is what happens when a pro doesn’t have to do their dues with a duffer. These newbies need to learn. This was pure Ola but with a girl.

Once they’re over with Len he says that Laura’s a star whatever she does (I mean, she’s an ITV spinoff show host and MTV interviewer let’s not go crazy) but he would have liked to have seen more of her at points and less of Giovanni spinning off into the ether. Laura’s

face to camera at this comment feels kind of indicative. Len liked that Giovanni gave her a lot of basic samba steps to do, at least at the beginning, but he noticed mistakes, and felt she couldn’t cope with the speed of the track. Bruno’s next and he’s all

I’M GIVING IT A 9 WHATEVER! In retrospect, Bruno’s weirdo crush on Laura is my favourite thing about her stay in this series. If you look closely, you can see a researcher hiding out with his 10 paddle behind Craig waiting for the signal from Evil Moira Ross In A Rainbow Wig upstairs to hand it back again for the next dancer.

Craig’s next, and he tells Laura that he felt it was all looking a little awkward until the running promenade section, when it took off and got going. I…felt the exact opposite but here we are. He also doesn’t understand why Giovanni didn’t get her to do any batucadas. Possibly because her ankle’s still buggered? I’m not saying redeploy her injury for sympathy votes but at least don’t say things that are completely at odds with its transparant existence. Darcey closes by saying it’s a shame that Laura made some mistakes but she personally enjoyed Giovanni’s end. Wow, the random sexual partnerings just keep on coming this series don’t they? What, next Greg The Floor Manager and Gorka elope together yes please.

Up to Claud 9 they hobble, where everyone is spinning like dervishes in tribute to Giovanni’s finishing move. Claudia’s compares the whole thing to “one of those toys you have where you pull it and then you just do it and you do it and you do it”. Presumably she’s keeping this toy in a drawer beside her bed? Laura says that she feels bad about making a mistake and Claudia tells her that NOBODY NOTICED HONEST in that way she has and then scores are in


Claudia’s Surreal Prop Interlude?

Is all out of ideas. You did “all Spanish women have moustaches” a few weeks ago guys and it was a bit dodgy then.

Juge Rinder & Oksana Platero dancing the quickstep

Bless her but she’s never going to look quite comfortable being here is she? Tess tells us that over the last few weeks, Judge Rinder has made it clear that he wants to be taken seriously as a dancer. Yes the part where he launched himself off the balcony dressed as one of Liberace’s backing dancers really drove that home last week didn’t it?

VT time now, and Judge Rinder tells us what a lark it was last week to inhabit the character of an extremely butch moth.

We’re also reminded that Rinder’s current storyline is that his scores keep on going up (/not going down) every week, but as they’ve now breached the 30 barrier, that’s going to be difficult to maintain. I would agree. As much as I’m looking forward to a RindyRumba, I doubt it’s going to bother Rachel Stevens overmuch…

Training now, and Oksana tells us that as we’ve reached the halfway stage of the competition, she’s going to kick things up a notch an push Judge Rinder hard with her choreography. Remember at the start of the series when Rinder was all “I WANT TO BE DOMINATED, WHIP ME RUSSIAN DADDY, WHIP ME” and now he interacts with Oksana a bit like someone delicately prodding some bread that’s got jammed in the toaster with a fork to see if he can dislodge it without electrocuting himself? Fun times. His major difficulty with the quickstep is the counting, because it doesn’t follow regular rhythm. He even gets very

Kimbotley Walsh let’s punch myself in the face over it. Although Kim’s thing was more to bounce her head repeatedly off the wall, but I guess when it’s made of titanium you can do that. Meanwhile Oksana adjusts her ponytail and says that she can see Judge Rinder is frustrated but she knows it’s a sign of how much he cares. The Ex Machina levels of “according to my programming human emotions work like this” delivery she gives this observation are truly outstanding, especially as it’s followed by “you need to change your emotional state right now”. THEY’RE BONDING!


I love that they’ve given Oksana a coathook just to

hang her feather boa on. Like any woman on this show’s ever wearing a COAT, I guess. She and Judge Rinder are doing the quickstep to “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Aint Got That Swing” and it’s very much Judge Rinder making it known that he is here to win this whole thing, as after several weeks of comedy gurning to pull in the votes, this is very much “but look, he can REALLY dance!”. Given that Ed and Greg are also aiming for the same market (“look, Ed’s quickstep has 30 whole seconds of content in it!”, “LOOK! GREG’S HAVING A BALLROOM BREAKTHROUGH!”) it’ll be interesting to see which of them actually pulls it off best. This is a fairly straight trad quickstep with lots of lighthearted skipping around the floor and it’s jampacked with steps from beginning to end. They even fit the traditional

flying leap in there, getting surprisingly good clearance off the ground. Sure, some of the faces are a little

“End Of Raiders Of The Lost Ark” but good for him. It’s been a good series so far for quickstep, and we’ve still got three frontrunners to come.

Very nice.

Once they’re over at Tess, Rinder launches into a little “overcome” speech about how everyone should just learn to dance because it’s great and such joy. Bruno, Darcey and Len all give him a little clap, whilst Craig looks at him like he wants to gut him with a fish-hook. It’s Bruno who starts for the judges, saying that the straight-down-the-line quickstep that Rinder was doing was so good that he didn’t need to do the silly facial expressions. Rinder mugs slightly unconvincingly that that’s just the JOY OF DAHNCE speaking through him, he cannot control it. Yeah, he’s found an angle Bruno, you ain’t getting him off it. Craig’s next and he says he agrees with Bruno – Rinder needs something to hold his jaw in place.

You offering love? He thinks Rinder is a very good dancer, but the faces spoil it. Maybe true, but nobody came at Laura for doing the second half of that samba like she was trying to suck a golf ball down an invisible length of hose.

Darcey’s next and tells Judge Rinder to ignore everyone else because she thinks he’s great. It’s interesting that Darcey is out there at the front with Judge Rinder almost as much as Bruno is with Laura, but nobody comments on it. I guess because…well who’s paying any attention to Darcey, let’s be honest. Len closes by saying that the face is the mirror of the soul. Jeez, is Anastacia writing these scripts now? Suffice it to say that Len buys Rinder’s line that him unhinging his jaw is just PURITY OF DAHNCE being excreted from his body, which surprises me not a jot. He does however, think Judge Rinder went a bit wrong “when he was on top”. No comment. He closes by saying that he was expecting Fred & Cringe but he got Fred & Ginge. Nice accidentaly burn on Oksana there. I know she’s a latinspecialist but still…

Up to Claud 9 they doo wah doo wah doo wah doo wah doo wah doo wah doo wah TONY GAGA, where Greg

immediately returns the favour he got from Rinder last week by going right for his pec. Judge Rinder for his part immediately launches into defending his faces, saying they must be accidental, because he doesn’t pull them in court. Hopefully he produces arguments…slightly more logically watertight in court as well. Scores are in


Louise Redknapp & Kevin Clifton dancing the Argentine Tango

Tess tells us that Louise and Kevin are about to do the first Argentine Tango of the series, so OF COURSE we have to ask Len to contribute to tell us what it’s all about. Hot, passionate, ganchos, ochos, nightclub, steamy, prostitutes fresh off the pampas etc etc. You get the drill. To be honest, I’m surprised Len’s annual introduction of the Argentine Tango hasn’t won that Bad Sex Award thingy yet.

In their VT, Kevin tells Louise that he was proud of her last weekend because she had a breakthrough and showed a different side of herself, and he especially loved it when she started growling and screaming at the judges. WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN? I would have paid to watch Louise go feral. Two glasses of red and a couple of Mummy’s Little Helpers and she’s telling Darcey that SHE AIN’T NO FAHCKIN LADY I’ll bet. Louise then tries to replicate this breakthrough in the training room.

Mmm hmm.

Training now and

right away you can tell this is going to be Louise’s dance. Look at that face. That is pure Lars von Trier “Breaking The Waves” crossed with “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?”. Jamie’s got Harry around for the Sunday roast and they’re just talking about bloody football again. Arsenal this, Tottenham United that. Meanwhile she’s three glasses of Merlot deep, making a hashjob of carving the turkey and wondering why she never had a daughter to leaven all this masculine energy or took time out to learn how to do pottery like she wanted to do when she was young. 42 and her dayjob is shilling bingo websites and pretending she wants to do the sodding Charleston dressed like a circus clown. WELL NOW IT’S HER TIME. IT’S ARGENTINE TANGO WEEK

KEVIN’S GOT HIS CHEST HAIR OUT, SHE’S GOING FOR IT BABY. (Also she keeps smiling all the time in training and Kevin has invented a story for the dance or something like that, let’s get on with it).


Oooh the lampposts are back. You can’t see it from this picture, because the movement itself is obscured a little by the glittery fade-in, but Louise does a proper “AND NOW I’M IN CHARACTER” body roll to start off here and it’s adorable and hilarious and a little sad all in one. From there though

her hands are right in her foof, no messing.






But seriously this is the rare (/solitary) Louise dance where her performance outmatches her technique. Her feet aren’t caressing the floor so much as jamming right down in through the zipper for a good old grope, but I do not care because after 6 weeks of magnolia and seaside special and delicate assignations under a miniature golf course Eiffel Tower, Louise is letting it all hang out here and then some and I’m loving it.

Now do this again in the Propah Tango and we’re talking.

After the dance is over we cut to the audience and

Jamie’s nowhere to be seen. He’s probably in the toilets beating up a hand-dryer. Once Louise reaches Tess, the latter gurns that Louise’s footwork is now better than her husband’s.

Yup, Bland Louise is back in the room.

Craig starts for the judges saying how lovely it is to see Louise be serious for a change in a routine. Yes because normally the problem with Louise is that you can’t get her to be calm and stop larking about. She’s a LAUGH RIOT. Darcey loved how she did all the complicated choreography without showing any effort and then Len

well Len is turning a most peculiar colour and getting very over-excited and grunting about Kevin strutting about sexily and I think at this point Mrs Len is probably putting an extra lock on the door and getting a bottle of Windex ready. He’s sleeping in the car until she feels safe! Bruno is positively subdued in comparison, claiming Louise rules the backstreets of Buenos Aires as QUEEN OF THE HOOKERS(/night) and telling her that she should change her name from Redknapp to Redhot. Which I believe is pronounced “Redoh”.

Up to Claud 9 they go, where Louise talks about the pressure and the honour of doing the first Argentine Tango of the series. If you say so hun. Scores are in


Greg Rutherford and Natalie Lowe dancing the Viennese Waltz

Tess starts by reminding us that last week Bruno, Len, and Darcey all liked his rumba, but Craig didn’t. As far as Tess is concerned though, as Greg is an Olympic athlete who has never danced before, three out of four aint bad. Well as far as Natalie’s concerned

Craig is a POO HEAD.

VT time and Greg tells Natalie that despite everything, he loved the rumba. Or whatever it was that they did last week. Natalie meanwhile is defiant. The only thing she would have changed about the routine last weekend was the scores.

Training now, and Greg is on Viennese Waltz this week, so it’s the tipping point of his time in the show. Either he turns into a Sportsman Ballroom Boy and sails to the end, or he doesn’t and he doesn’t. And what do you bring out at any time in a great Strictly Battle when you need extra firepower on your side?

BABY WARZ! Looks like Milo Rutherford has borrowed some of Oksana’s leggings there. Ostensibly Milo is there because he loves spinning around and getting dizzy, so he’s ideally placed to help Greg with his basic Viennese Waltz steps, but we all know it’s because Greg needs to dangle something in someone’s face to get votes somewhere other than on his Instagram page. It’s all very cute but is it Kellie Bright’s son with a DANCIN WOWOT no it is not.


Greg and Natalie are doing the Viennese Waltz to “You Don’t Own Me” so no pretty balls in Vienna here, it’s straight up

Natalie being a scenary chewing drama diva beeyotch, wailing and writhing and greetin’ all over the furniture whilst Greg does his best perfume advert frown and just about holds her back from doing a forward roll right into the front row. Of course it’s Natalie, so as soon as the drama stops and they take up ballroom hold, she’s grinning her face off as usual. The dance itself is ok – it travels around the floor nicely, although Greg does have a tendency to lurch and rock a bit like a ship in a gale. The most distracting thing, and it’s hard to capture in a still frame

is just how nauseous he looks from abut halfway through. Natalie has opted to keep all the faffing at the beginning and end rather than spreading it about, which is a noble decision, but Greg reeeeeeeeally didn’t want to be doing that many spins one after the other. We’ve seen a few people right the edge of chundering whilst talking to Tess afterwards, but this was the first time in ages I’ve worried about someone launching a vomit comet midroutine.

The drama though. The drama!

He totters over to the judges, still clearly a bit queasy and Darcey starts us off for the judges by praising him for his confidence and his big gliding moves. She does think he abandonded his free arm a little too often though. Greg meanwhile

is just focusing on a spot on the floor. Just for now. Give him a minute. Len follows, saying that Greg is back with a bang, with a great frame, and he loved all the larking about on the “how’s your father”. Well that’s one word for it. He thought Greg lost energy towards the end, and agrees with Darcey about Greg’s free arm, but he’s finally back after three weeks “in the wilderness”. Latin Len. It’s called “latin”.

Bruno’s next and he tells Greg that he’s certainly cornered the market in melodrama, because that was full of drama, possession and recession. He proclaims it to be a Tennessee Williams routine brought to life. Presumably with Natalie as the Maggie, Greg as the Brick, and Bruno himself as the Skipper. Craig closes, saying that he loved it when Greg clocked him glowering at his sticky-out thumb and popped it back in again, because he found it funny, but otherwise other than the skippiness he couldn’t find much fault with it, and he loved Natalie’s choreography. Natalie’s all

“apology accepted – the deactivation code is 150880, you can now safely return to your dwelling”.

Up to Claud they twirl, with Natlie honking “SHALL WE TELL THEM ABOUT THE STICKY TAPE???” the whole way up and Greg urgently telling her not to. I mean, I presume she’s talking about to sort his thumb out but you never know. Once safely in, Natalie gushes that she was so glad the judges loved the “chairography” because she wasn’t sure they would like it, and then LAUNCHES into a speech about how AMOYZING Greg was this week throwing her about and waltzing hither and yon. Bless her she is trying. Next week she passes Kristina and moves into third place in the list of longest serving female pros. You don’t last that long on this show without seizing the opportunity for a grandstand now and then. Greg then speeches right back and actually calls Natalie “This Girl”. Watch it Greg, Brenda’s got copyright on that one. Scores are in


Claudia Fragapane & AJ Pritchard dancing the paso doble

But first

LOOK WHAT TESS HAS FOUND! IT’S CAROLINE FLACK! So if you were wondering why you hadn’t seen Pasha all episode, there’s your answer. He’s in hiding.

In her VT, Cloudia tells us all that she liked her Hallowe’en American Smooth, particularly the lifts. Good grief these two are obsessed with lifts. I know she’s a gymnast but her feet have to hit the floor occasionally. AJ says it was great to get all 9s and nothing but positive comments from the judges. If not from the Little Mix fans who spent ages barracking him on twitter coz like the song choice was clearly supposed to be a dig at Perrie over Zayn cheatin on her admit it BBC shill trying to destroy lil mix.

Training now

with Cloudia and AJ framed like two teens about to get slaughtered in a Friday The 13th. This is AJ telling Cloudia that paso doble is his favourite dance and that he’s got something planned that’ll definitely help her out.

“They’re big, they’re fast, it’s real life bulls!”. Except it sounds more like “balls”. Bless AJ, we might rag on Pasha for his bad acting but he keeps on stalling out somewhere around “reading out loud”. Unsurprisingly it turns out that AJ does not mean the animals he means the

Bristol Bulls professional basketball team, and I’m sorry but this just looks like five guys they rounded up off the nearest builing site. Anyway, Cloudia and AJ play basketball and Cloudia is good and AJ is not but they have to chop up the footage about five times to make it watchable and BLECH quite frankly BLECH.


I see the EDM styling has now spread from tango to infect the paso as well, although the music choice in question is actually fairly standard American chug-rock “Shut Up And Dance”, which sounds a bit like The Feeling trying to convince themselves that they’re heterosexual. And it’s not a bad effort, although for the second time in a row that’s she closed I wonder why they’ve picked her out to do it on this particular dance. It’s not quite the damp squib of the samba, but it does look a little comical

having AJ puffed up to his full height with Cloudia skittering around somewhere around dick level. It’s a show opener rather than a big closer. If they’d swapped her and Danny around the running order would have made a little more typical sense, but I guess underdogging Danny is the plan for the moment, and why not? Cloudia’s giving good drama and swish and fun, and AJ is only very occasionally having to shove her into position or forcibly extract her face from his armpit, so its’s all in good fun.

Fireworks and done.

They go over to the judges, and Len starts by picking a fight with AJ, I think just for something to do. He tells him that he overpowered Cloudia there, and it’s a shame because Cloudia was showing great power and artistry. The thought of AJ overpowering anything other than his straighteners by leaving them in too long is hilarious to me. Len then starts giving out about how the audience need to stop booing him even though definitely this time now a single person is making any noise whatsoever. Cloudia’s face here is pure

“oops, grandma’s being racist again”. To make things more embarassing Tess then pipes up at Len not to be mean to AJ because it’s his birthday. Well I just cringed so hard I’ll never walk straight again.

Bruno somehow has to follow that mess and he tries, by telling Cloudia that she’s clearly got so much energy within her that she doesn’t know what to do with it, but he thinks she’d come across stronger as a seductress Mean Girl if she flowed through the moves rather than bing so stop starty. At this point Tess pips up all “SHE CAN’T BE A MEAN GIRL BWUNO SHE SUCH A COOTY PIE!” and god this judging session dissolved quickly into mush didn’t it? Craig liked it, Darcey wanted more shaping, let’s move on.

Up to Claud 9 they go, where Brenda is currently

wrangling balloons for AJ’s birthday. He’s 22 apparently. And if you believe that… Scores are in





37 thoughts on “Strictly Come Dancing 14 – Week 7 Performance

  1. Even rats dance

    Reaching new levels of crawling sycophancy here, just wanted to say I’ve only read as far as Whack A Mole (about three lines in …) and stopped there to say thank you for all the hours you put into putting together this stuff. Makes every Strictly so much better and makes me laugh even after truly horrible days.

    (Fair warning though – next week I might not even bother to read you at all, I’ll be watching Ed Balls on a loop.)

    The Mirror are currently telling us he’s going to be WALTZING to Gangnam Style – actually that might be even better.

    Can. Not. Wait.

  2. Pam Smith

    I’m glad someone else picked up on ‘Whole nother level’. I think she said it twice when she did a VT in It Takes Two and it really made me laugh 😀

    1. monkseal Post author

      It is one of those lines from this series that pops into my head periodically and makes me giggle. That and Anastacia’s goodbye song.

  3. Coz

    I reckon Ore was trying to duck away from Tess’s claws by using Jo as a shield and she wasn’t having it. Great summary as always. Greg’s face was one of my personal highlights. A good week overall, wasn’t it – I’m always happy when there’s more good stuff than bad stuff to watch (for whatever the reasons).

  4. ChaChaChavvy

    Bloody Camden types, going down the market on a tandem, wearing just a nightie. I bet they went to one of them Cornflake Cafes afterwards. The trendies!

    Cloudier’s VT was so random I’d forgotten the entire point of it. Ummm … she’s Italian, basketball players pass-o di ball, she’s doing the pass-o doble?

    I know it’s been said that the pros signed a two year contract this time, but I’m starting to wonder if Oksana will be Anya-ed, in that she’s doing very well on the dancefloor but is completely blank off it.

    Won’t at least one of the pros refuse to wear a poppy this year? Refuse to wear a poppy, go on ITT saying you hated your feckin’ song, and say ‘schmackpool’ every time they say ‘Blackpool’. Just to make me happy.

  5. Minxy

    Oh, oh,oh. That picture of Oti’s ❤ reaction to Tess bringing up that Foxtrot.
    I love you Monkseal!
    (And nevah change Oti – we love you just as you are)
    Off to finish reading the recap

  6. grandhibitch

    Poor Oksana, she didn’t get Birthday Balloons! I feel like the producers already have their favourites…

    Louise’s AT was nowhere NEAR worth 10’s. I got Strictly rage at that. She Kept breaking character into a smile throughout! Maybe I just hate her too much though. Bland, bland, bland.

  7. phoebefair

    What? No ‘All Of The Above’ option on the Len’s Most Annoying Habit poll? Or even an ‘All of the Above Plus A Few More’ option??

  8. Sue Howarth

    Well we got through remembrance without scantily clad women inappropriately sexy squirming in front of very elderly soldiers. Losing Bruce,Kristina and Ola may have improved taste levels.
    Rinder could easily win, but, he has a foxtrot on a non theme week having just done hollywood glamour. Also Oti may have noticed he is competition now

    1. monkseal Post author

      I don’t know that Rinder could *easily* win. I think all of Ed/Rinder/Greg need the other two to stay in as long as possible. If this were Survivor, I’d suggest forming an alliance.

  9. BeyonceCastle

    Thank you for the recap Chris. Loved it as always.
    I am still sulking that they had a pool table prop.
    I get it, I really do. Werewolves of London is a hard one to dance to (See Maks’s samba) and they went in a different direction for Halloween week. BUT they have a ringer, who could do the Tom Cruise pool cueography in his sleep as well as the “and his hair was perfect” bit.
    So why they did not use Danny for The Hustler in movie week I’ll never know. That said, I would have also had Ore as Jay in Men in Black. (cue J/Jay comparisons and typecasting controversy).
    I like the Xmas line up but would have preferred Joan Collins doing an AS (actually, I’s rather see her tango but she is 83) and BRIAN BLESSED doing a waltz (dodgy ticker but looks good suited up).
    I didn’t warm to her but Laura got screwed with the time signature of that samba. Cloudia got screwed with that paso music. Never thought I’d see the day when Brenda’s Beautiful Day paso sounded good in comparison.
    You missed Holly’s jive in that list…still the best one for me stylistically. But I am biased. For some reason I had it in my head that Kevin had called Lou his girl this week…Greg getting a touch of the Brendas is still all kinds of wrong seeing as Blanche Dubois is 36.
    Ore being handsy, Ed being handsy, Tess being handsy…they all appear to be channelling Chris Tarrant when he used to insist on putting his hand on the shoulder of every contestant ever at the end of Millionaire. Body space dammit, as Patricia Hodge would say “we’re not Spanish”.
    Talking of which, good spot with the GorkyBeak resemblance. It has now replaced young Kevin Kline in the lookalikey stakes.

    1. ChaChaChavvy

      Brian Blessed as Father Christmas, Natalie as a saucy elf, they’re doing a quickstep to ‘I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm’; I would be catatonic with delight until New Year’s Day. Why do they never give me what I want?

    2. monkseal Post author

      I’m not sure there’s anything from the Hustler soundtrack that’s really well known enough to be performed to…

  10. DeltaBlues

    I’m not entirely convinced that Bruno’s inexplicable crush on Laura isn’t an entirely more explicable crush on Giovanni.

    Great recap as usual, Monkseal. Particularly liked “Maybe true, but nobody came at Laura for doing the second half of that samba like she was trying to suck a golf ball down an invisible length of hose.”

  11. Huriye

    The lady sitting the other side of Tess, with Flackers is none other than TV cook Gizzi Erskine, and I was disgusted that Tess completely blanked her like she was a nobody.
    And I was going to praise Tess sometime soon for coping with Cloudia Fragapane so well, which makes a pleasant change. Though she still says “Saltzer”, which is so annoying.

    Anyway I wondered if Gizzi was there to support Ed, as they both live in Stoke Newington, dont’cha know!

  12. Carl

    After seeing your list I went back to watch Tish Dean’s paso – what awful awful singing (it’s always that one guy…). Very spirited, and yes, very camp, but she makes Judge Rinder faces.

    Vicki Sue Robinson.

    Joanne reminded me of an Amy Poehler in that dance. Joanne and Kevin never seem like real people, somehow.

    I wish Danny Mac didn’t look so much like Peter Andre at random angles.

      1. Carl

        Mostly with hair like the style he had for the jive, I guess. Or the “intense” face. Just a certain catch of the eye. Triggering…

  13. Mushypea

    Oh Lordy, a real jive at last and a performance that was more than the sum of its stunning parts. YEEEESS. Had me smiling with pleasure the whole way through and wishing I could dance like that. Understood Darcey giving it a 10 in spite of the ‘retraction’ comment. When a performance is shot through with joy, exuberance, pitch perfect musicality and totally captures the essence of a dance style what else is to do? You thought the pyrotechnics came too late. I thought it was a nice build up to them and Danny’s innate musicality in those ‘acrobatics’ was joyous and prevented them from looking like showing off or fancy add-ons. I love their big hugs of relief at the end of each dance. Their smiles during dances are natural and appropriate and not of the gurning/stage school type. After feeling a bit indifferent to these two at the start of the series I’m loving them more and more. Yep, I thought I could see Danny’s billiards too in that shot. Love your blog. A real chortle to look forward too after each programme.

  14. wcswh

    lol at the crits that Joanne gets for jive knicker-flashing-skirtography while Oti gets none for doing more.
    Gotta keep those two narratives going though eh.

    1. DJ Mikey

      Not everybody criticised Joanne for flashing her knickers – some of us, like me, just criticised her for being Joanne..


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