Gearing up for Christmas apparently…
Laura & Giovanni : After this impeccable deployment of shade I was hoping for fireworks from Laura & Giovanni’s interview, but really they seemed very civil with one another. Closer to Brendastacia than Lesley & Anton but still touchy feely and friendly Maybe it was a temporary thing. Well…by “very civil” I mean Laura talked 16 to the dozen whilst Giovanni sat there looking a little awkward about the whole thing. Zoe can also claim victory tonight, as she finally managed to GET SOMEONE TO CRY! Well the VT editors did, as Superfan Laura spilled them everywhere over her best bits. Also kudos to said same VT editors for including this shot in said Best Bits montage
I’m not much of a Giofanni, but this did send me a little. Laura also in this interview joined the long line up of people who, upon prodding, declared themselves for Ore. Say what you will about him, but he’s a popular boy backstage by the looks of it.
Karen’s Khoreography Korner : I’ve always been a Karen booster as, for all her foibles, she has genuinely made Khroeography Korner her own little corner of Strictly, but lord you could hear the collective national groan upon her return looking very fresh-faced after a long holiday in New Zealand to judge one dance competition. Was it a dance marathon? Did it take three weeks to kill them all off? Anyway, rest assured Karen was back to tell us all that the dance is about “the master inviting the lady” in respect to Greg and Natalie, and telling us all not to pick on Judge Rinder for his facial expressions because he’s BORN THAT WAY. Also Louise has had a breakthrough and Ore didn’t get the salsa basics down. She’s back tomorrow, I’ll tell you if she says anything you don’t already know.
Backstage Gossip : It was a Greg The Floor Manager special today, but I feel I focus on his face enough around these parts so
here’s a hairy forearm. We watched as Greg hunted Anton down, and giggled about walking in on Oksana in the semi-nud. Oh Greg. In other backstage news, Ed Balls chatted about how he wanted to play the woman in the Argentine Tango and wrap his legs around Katya (Oh politicians) and Chloe – Queen Of It Takes Two celebrated AJs birthday with a “delicious chocolate cake” that looked a bit like she’d picked it up for £3.99 from the Eurozone.
Christmas Special Reveal : Today was the day that the reveal of this year’s Xmas Special celebs took place. It felt somewhat deliberately paced as we led off with Denise (my favourite Strictly contestant ever) and Dr Hamela (one of the most insane contestants ever) and then followed this up with…Melvin. From this year. Who went out first. It does feel a little like someone pulled out doesn’t it? This was followed by Frankie (sound solid choice) and Ainsley (will he really with someone other than Natalie?) and finally Gethin. Gethin’s arrival being followed by Karen making a bunch of innuendo about how he’s been resting his bones (not based on his backstage reports he hasn’t…) but we’re ready to see them up more! From that line-up I’m guessing a Frankie or Gethin win, depending on how far back the memories of the audience goes, but have a poll anyway
Ed & Katya : A breakthrough this week, as apparently the quickstep was the first dance that Ed’s done where people talked to him more afterwards about the dance-steps than the entertainment. You fugging up that lift was a dance-step Ed, and we heard endless amounts about that, don’t lie. We also got a Stat Attack that Ed had the “highest lowest Week 7 score” ever. What an achievement. I’m surprised they didn’t make a trophy. Here’s the lead-table if you’re interested :
Ed Balls – Quickstep (Help!) : 27
Peter Schmeichal – Foxtrot (Something’s Gotta Give) : 26
Julian Clary – Foxtrot (Fever) : 24
Patsy Palmer – Cha Cha (A Little Less Conversation) : 24
Craig Kelly – Waltz (Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me) : 24
Ricky Groves – Rumba (Licence To Kill) : 24
Richard Arnold – Salsa (Club Tropicana) : 24
Victoria Pendleton – Paso Doble (Bicycle Race) : 24
Chris Parker – Tango (Toxic) : 21
Kate Garraway – Paso Doble (Somebody Told Me) : 21
John Sergeant – Foxtrot (I Wanna Be Loved By You) : 20
Ann Widdecombe – Foxtrot (You Make Me Feel So Young) : 20
Audley Harrison – Cha Cha (Uptight) : 20
Dave Myers – Tango (I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)) : 20
Judy Murray – Paso Doble (I Fought The Law) : 18
Carol Kirkwood – American Smooth (Man! I Feel Like A Woman) : 17
Zoe puts this down to the standard of dancing this year. I? Say Mark Inflation. More marks than ERIN ISLAND GOT? DO ME A FAVOUR! Their dance this week is Gangnam Style.
Ore & Joanne : The post Bottom 2 redemption tour was on here, as Ore took the line, with a straight face, with Ed Balls and Greg The Sportsman On A Journey Who Can Barely Get Through A Waltz Without Vomitting still in the competition, that everyone’s so good that it really could be anybody going home on merit. Joanne meanwhile just settled on them needing to dance better. Which seems like a fairer bet. Joanne also expressed a fear that Ore’s volatile emotional nature might lead him to fall apart in the dance-off which, again, fair. Their dance this week is the rumba, and Joanne is promising us all a classic and family friendly rumba, as she doesn’t feel she or Ore is really there to be sexy. This doesn’t really surprise me. Disappoint me maybe, not disappoint me.
Karen’s Khoreography Korner : A slightly better showing for Karen tonight, if only for the amusement of watching her pick glowingly over all the quickstep choreography in Ed’s routine, but actually having to play the same bit of clip twice in order to fill the segment. Bless. Otherwise she was very pleased that Daisy’s topline improved in her Viennese Waltz over…whenever it was she was last in ballroom, August or whenever it was, and disappointed that Cloudia only did her paso on one level, without dipping down dramatically or really pulling up through her spine. Unfortunately we closed on a mixed message for Danny, as Karen got up to demonstrate that in Jive you had to put your weight forwards…and then danced it leaning back almost off the stage. The mystery continues.
Tunes On Tuesday : And if you wanted further bad news for Danny Mac, he hit his first ropey song pick of the series in this segment, with “I Heard It On The Grapevine” coming out for…an Argentine Tango. On the other hand it’ll at least allow him to play up hs sex appeal right? In other news Louise has Big Spender for an American Smooth and I swear they were going to call that for Judge Rinder right until the moment the wheel landed on Louise’s grinning face. Daisy? Has got Groove Is In The Heart for a salsa. Dig.
Dances From Around The World : After Spain and Turkey we move on to India for a lesson in Bhangra dancing, and further more lessons in presenting for Neil, as he got a lesson in presenting, asking far more questions about Bhangra’s origins as a dance amongst rural farmers, and how it feeds along with other regional traditions into the melting pot of “Bollywood” dancing, than either Chloe or Janette got in their segments. Whether this means he has more plans for him in future than those girls or he was just better at it, who can say.
Natalie & Greg : Natalie’s run of intensity continued here, as she graciously accepted victory over Craig in terms of her choreographical prowess, but also made sure to tell us that he could have given that Viennese Waltz to any of her previous partners, but only Greg gave it that special flavour. Personally I would have loved watching Ainsley Harriott tossing her about manfully on a chaise longue, but that’s her choice. Although apparently even the chaise longue was an obstacle to overcome for them, as they didn’t even rehearse with it properly until the day of the routine. THE DRAMA! Greg for his part made us aware that he didn’t poke his thumb back in during the dance because he saw Craig looking, but because he is truly learning to dance and becoming ever more aware of what his entire body is doing on the dancefloor. Their dance this week is the paso doble, and Natalie is promising something pure and masculine and incredibly over the top. Woot woot.
Waite’s Wednesday Warm-Up : Ian came pre-prepared with CONTROVERSIAL opinions about the events of the weekend, just in case anybody was pondering extending his reign over the training footage to include Choreography Corner is Karen gets the summons next year. For instance he thought that Laura and Ore were a suitable bottom 2 because they both did worse than they did the week before at Hallowe’en (really? ORE? Do you want to think on that hun?) and also that Danny deserved a higher score than Louise. This week? Ore (rumba WHICH IS HARD FOR MEN) needs to improve his hip action again, Greg (paso doble) is looking plodding and laboured, and Daisy (salsa) too delicate and refined. Finally Rinder (foxtrot) is producing a decent frame, but dodgy footwork. So a great week to come then!
Claudia & AJ : When asked by Zoe to defend himself from the charge as levied by Len that he “oveerpowered” Claudia in their paso doble, AJ defended himself by saying “I absolutely smashed it at presenting Claudia”. Which I guess is an argument. If not an entirely modest one. Otherwise the interview focused on AJ & Claudia’s ever-deepending connection and also the trials and tribulations of being a teenage Strictly gymnast, as we got an entire VT of her rolling around on the floor moping about how hard it was, like Louis Smith never left, and also sat marvelling as we watched her having turned up for her interview as 1984 Cher. Ah teenage girls, finding themselves. Their dance this week is the Viennese Waltz, which apparently features an inordinate amount of face-stroking that Claudia is really not keen on.
Zoe’s Dance Card : The dance on the doors this week was foxtrot, as taught to Zoe by Anton du Beke. Now this was a dance that Zoe has done, but, well, it’s still a FOXTROT, so I don’t remember if she was any good at it. It’s ballroom, so let’s say she was. After a brief interlude to congratulate him on having double-strength sperm and fathering twins (that’s how it works right?) Zoe got Anton to take her through some ballroom basics as he talked about his days dancing foxtrot with all the girls because it was the coolest ballroom dance to do, back in the day. Bless.
An Audience With Darcey Bussell : Darcey descended from on high to grace us all with her insights on the series so far, particularly, you will be unsurprised to hear that she thinks it’s been the highest standard of dance ever ever ever this year. EVER. She said that she was most surprised that Greg had turned out to be good (really?) and copped that Danny had probably deserved a 10 before now but she had just been a bit slow getting round to it. She’s been busy ok?! The audience were also allowed to submit questions, and via these we learnt that she thinks the best fit for her as a pro partner would be Natalie, Oti, Ian or Aljaz (yahs, SJW same-sex dancing advocate Darcey Bussell) and thinks her worst dance would be the cha cha. Personally I can’t really see her doing much of a Charleston but…it’s her choice.
Judge Rinder & Oksana : Judge Rinder’s fogeyish credentials were put on display here, as he claimed to having nothing on his iPod from after 1950 and stated a clear intention to “Party Like It’s 1899”. So God knows what his thoughts were when he received music like “Marvin Gaye” and “The Flintstones Theme Tune” earlier in the series for his American Smooth and his Charleston. You might say that he’s getting another good music draw this week for his foxtrot, with Frank Sinatra, but who could begrudge him? His grandparents will also be in the audience this week to cheer him on, although hopefully Oksana will have toned down the level of eyeshadow she’s wearing by then, as if they’re old fashioned I can’t imagine they’d approve of her running around looking like a saucy panda.
Let’s Get Fucked With Vicky Gill : This weekend Louise will be wearing a peach dress
Waite’s Thursday Thaw Down Obviously the clear highlight this week was
Ian attempting a lift with Zoe that went slightly awry. It’s a good job for Zoe’s average score that she was in a series where there was only one dance where lifts were allowed, and even then you were only allowed one. They were recreating a portion of Louise’s American Smooth, which also seems to involve a lot of falling over on the part of Kevin. Meanwhile Danny’s Argentine Tango appears to be lacking in moments of stillness, whilst Ed’ salsa appears to be lacking in moments of salsa, and Cloudia’s Viennese Waltz on current evidence may well turn out to be the dance of the night.
Global Glitterballs Much like Louise in her Rumba Week, Ian blagged a free trip to France here, to see how they do Strictly on the other side of the Channel with “Danse Avec Les Stars”, which is apparently currently being dominated by this chap. Unfortunatlely for Ian, he instead just had to settle for meetings with the show’s Brendan Cole equivalent, and Shouty Salsa Chris from The Early Days and “the French Bruno” Jean-Marc Genereaux (who is yet another Strictly adjacent person I know chiefly from So You Think You Can Dance), who are both judges. These interviews raised the grizzly spectre of “Personal Story Week” which is Shouty Salsa Chris favourite DALS theme week and which is as exactly as vomitous as it sounds.
Daisy & Aljaz : Obviously the best part of this segment was Aljaz’s complete inability to sing “I’m A Little Teapot”, let’s not pretend otherwise for a second. And not even all of it, just the first 15 words. Apparently teapots have snouts now. And sprouts. Or scouts. Something like that. It was hilarious to see Daisy affect her revenge at her teacher completely failing at something she excelled at. Even more so that it was nursery rhymes. Other than that Daisy was very happy to be saved, was thrilled beyond all logic by Darcey admiring her aura, and is very excited to do the salsa this week because she loves Groove Is In The Heart. You and me both Daisy, you and me both.
(Hello everyone. Chris was out this evening enjoying himself, so it’s Steve here subbing in for your regular Friday update.)
Gethin’s Homoerotic Backstage Adventures : Clearly that strongly-worded email I wrote after last week’s disappointingly unhomo, unerotic adventures worked because this week we were back to business as usual.
Look at Cloudia throwing herself in there, get it girl. We were also treated to a picture of Ore and Greg modelling the shirts they wear for the show that are sewn into their pants, which they’ve taken to referring to as “shants”. Ore said that he and Greg have embraced walking around together in their shants, and believe me I spent a long time trying to figure out if there was meant to be a comma in the middle of that sentence.
#ladzontour. Here is where we discovered that Gethin assumes that now that Giovanni is out of the competition, his main duty is being AJ and Gorka’s on-call masseur. However, the true star attraction of this section was the pure and true love that we (/I) have come to call Gorkin, as under the ruse of pretending to sledge each other about their upcoming rivalry in the Christmas special, Gethin and Gorka proceeded to
flirt outrageously with each other YET AGAIN. Oh for goodness sake you two, just kiss. (Chris is never going to let me have his password ever again, is he?)
Danny & Oti : Easily the highlight of this section was Oti firmly stating that they will NOT be discussing the foxtrot again, and in fact she’s filed paperwork with her lawyers (Aliona gave her the number of a good one) to ensure that any mention of it comes with a risk of up to three months in prison. Danny, meanwhile, told us how the jive was the one dance he’d been looking forward to and the main reason he was doing the show in the first place, having forgotten that he’d already done pretty much that exact story for his quickstep in week four. Apparently the inspiration for his double-splits jump was Kenickie from Grease, but it left him feeling rather sore Down There and even after a week of ice-baths he’s still walking like Barbara Windsor. This week their dance is the Argentine tango.
Pro-dance preview : Chloe and AJ are the leads this week for a Remembrance special, based on the true love story of a couple who will be in the audience watching it. Also, Aljaz would like us to know that since he’s come to the UK he has learnt a lot about Remembrance Day and how important it is to our culture, he loves Remembrance Day now, please give him all the poppies and definitely don’t send him back to Slovenia when we Brexit or anything.
The Friday Panel : A strong selection this week in Mel Giedroyc, Hairy Biker Dave and Anneka Rice, which inspired this excellent pre-titles sequence:
where Zoe rocked the hell out of a hot pink jumpsuit and a very game Craig played the role of her sound man. Hairy Dave didn’t really contribute that much beyond telling us that had he made it to Blackpool in his series he would’ve been doing a rumba to ‘He’s The Greatest Dancer’ (never have I ever been more proud of those votes I cast for Mark Benton, let me tell you), but Mel and Anneka more than made up for it with Mel the iconoclast declaring that Danny and Oti needed something to shake them up, preferably an appearance in the dance-off (at which point Anneka pointed out that they were about 20 metres away in the green room where Oti has access to lots of sharp metal) and went on to compare Louise to Dr Hamela, despite the latter being one of the most gushingly effusive contestants this show has ever seen, and the former being someone who occasionally remembers to clap when the red light comes on. Anneka, on the other hand, declared that after watching the US election results come in during the week she decided to cope with her trauma by “opening a bottle of wine and getting into Ore’s hips”. Oh, and Zoe opened the whole thing up by thanking Mel, Sue and Mary (but not THAT TRAITOR PAUL HOLLYWOOD) for their loyal service to the Bake Off and saying how much we’re all going to miss them, which was strangely sincere for this particular part of the show.
Christmas Special Update : Following on from the announcement of the celebrity contestants earlier this week, we now know who their professional partners will be. Melvin and Janette are back together again, which seems both obvious and entirely redundant, Ainsley will be dancing with Karen, Frankie is with Gorka, Dr Hammie with Pasha (she is going to EAT HIM ALIVE and it is going to be TREMENDOUS), Denise with Anton (lol) and best of all, Gethin is dancing with Queen Chloe. Why even bother having the competition at all, just crown them now.
An Audience With Craig Revel Horwood : Yes, not one but two sitdowns with the judges this week, and Craig’s main takeaway is that he thinks it will be the audience rather than the judges who decide who makes the final this year because they are “marking relatively evenly” at this point, which is certainly one way of putting it, although I’d have gone for “barely looking up and giving everything an 8”. He also thinks it’s entirely possible that Ed could make the final and that if it happens he’ll probably end up doing panto with him next year at which point Zoe shouted “he’s behind you!” and Craig fell over cackling at the very thought of being bummed by Ed Balls and Zoe blushed and remembered that it was still only teatime. A stat attack revealed that Craig has given out 87 fewer points than Bruno overall this series.
Louise & Kevin : No hat for Kevin this week, although apparently he’d been planning to wear one until the make-up team did such a good job with his barnet, and he sat there running his hand through it every five seconds just to really ram the point home. Louise reached possibly new levels of Peak Mum by declaring that she had such a lovely time with her Argentine tango last Saturday that really she’d quite like to just call it a day and go home now because she’s had all the fun she’s going to have and anyway she’s left her jam on the stove and she really needs to get started on the kids’ costumes for the geography pageant. She also revealed that her favourite parts of training are when Kevin is performing the female part to show her what to do, and she’s following behind him mimicking his moves like a couple of gal pals. When are we going to see that on Waite’s Thursday Throw-Down, eh? This week’s dance is the American smooth, and it looks camp. as. tits.
Remembrance Day Special : It Takes Two marked the occasion at the end of the show by sending Naga off to Llandudno to attend a tea dance for service veterans who are losing their sight. She looked far more comfortable here than she ever did at any point during her entire tenure on the show, though they did still make her dance at the end, at which point all the terror clearly came flooding right back. Poor Naga.