Daisy plays a groupie, Rindy pays tribute to the Greatest Generation, and Katya brings it to us from her South Korean roots. It’s Heritage Week on Strictly Come Dancing!
Last week : It was a busy week for the pros as Oti rang a ringer, Kevin gave Louise therapy, Joanne got her Tina Sparkle on, AJ showed us all his big pink paso, Oksana played it straight, Natalie made peace with Craig, Katya took Ed’s wood right to her face, and Giovanni just kept spinning and spinning and spinning and spinning and spinning and spinning and spinning and spinning and spinning and spinning and spinning…
This week : Forget Hallowe’en Week, forget Vorderumba, forget Widdy’s public vote popularity, forget even Dominic Littlewood advancing on Louise making gropey-bum-bum motions, it’s time for the most terrifying Strictly sight of them all
VTS SET ENTIRELY IN THE TRAINING ROOM! RUN FOR THE HILLS! I mean, the dances are going to be terrible this week. How are the dancers supposed to get into character without visiting a bar/an actual bullfight/San Francisco? How are they expected to learn proper ballroom technique without John Barrowman/a food historian/the entire starting line up of 1987 Coventry City FA Cup winning team to teach them? This is going to be a MESS.
I’ve just noticed that they’ve put a statue holding the actual sword and scales of justice behind Rinder here. Symbolic. (Greg has a lion, Naga has a mirror, Lesley some stairs, Claudia some pink flower blossom, Ed a gothic window, Will a more modern one, Daisy some curtains, Melvin an archway, Danny the Empire State Building, Anastacia a chandelier, Laura an angel, Tameka a…twig, Ore a folly and Louise…well not much of anything. Let’s all say this means it’s rigged for Louise to win yes lets)
The band strikes up and out come our hosts, all dressed up in
red and black, as it’s Remembrance Weekend, when we all pay tribute to those who fought in Baby Warz past. All those babies grinning emptily down the camera lens. All those toddlers holding up homemade scoring paddles. All those bored looking teenagers hoping their mates don’t see this. We will remember them and the sacrifices they made to their street cred so their dad could finish 3rd to one of the Saturdays and the host of Shag Island. *sniff* Speaking of rememberance, Tess reminds us that last week, five couples got their highest score yet (that’s nothing Tess, in week 1 15 of them got thieir highest score yet!) and Claudia that all of the judges last week gave a 10, except Craig. Yes, that tap is well and truly wedged open now isn’t it?
Daisy Lowe & Aljaz Skorjanec dancing the salsa
Tess tells us that from Week 1 when she topped the leaderboard to now, when she finds herself having been in two dance-offs, it’s been a rollercoaster of a journey for Daisy. Sounds more like a flume to me. Tess goes on to say that now the only rollercoaster that Daisy’s interested in riding is the Big One in Blackpool. Can’t say as I blame her. Poor Janette.
VT now, and we start with Daisy grinning at Aljaz that she had the best weekend last week. Just like Laura had the week before that with her tango. And Anastacia the week before that with her quickstep. And Lesley the week before that with her Charleston. Spot the pattern here guys. It’s like that story in the news about that whippet being given one last happy day at the beach before it’s put to sleep, over and over again. Daisy recounts how she avoided the Bottom 2 and
I think we have officially hit peak Daisy grin here. It was never getting broader than this, this was the right time for her to go.
Training now and Daisy is very excited for salsa, because it means she gets to do lifts.
I think this is my favourite Daisy moment yet. She’s just realising that with Aljaz in charge, gravity does not apply to her any more. That face, it’s like a 6 year old going to their first planetarium. Aljaz flips her around in the air whilst she yells “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” a lot, and then he talks about how difficult it is doing lifts with Daisy when they’re both so tall.
For the record, if I ever saw Aljaz, this is how I would say hello. Possibly whilst singing “I’m A Little Teapot” who can say?
TO THE SHAG VAN!
Ah the 70s. Daisy’s already in there but Aljaz
is looking to get a threesome going. If you thought last week was a daisy chain Len, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The pair of them are dancing to “Groove Is In The Heart” and it all begins with Daisy
emerging from the shag van, with a glamorous toss of her head and a pout and a peace sign and automatically it’s one of those routines that I can recognise immediately isn’t going to be very good but which I love all the same. It’s all very psych-revival and ironically “groovy” and Daisy’s legs look
absolutely amazing throughout. That said, whilst she’s working as well as she can with what she’s got but there’s nothing down and dirty about Daisy at all and her legs just look like she’s doing the cha cha again the whole time. The choreography’s not doing her any favours either as, other than building up the energy to fling her calf over the back of Aljaz’s head again, none of thise feels very effortful. I’m fine with cool, but she and Aljaz stay at most 6 feet away from the van at all times, like they’re worried Bruno’s going to take advantage of the sexual opportunity Aljaz offered him to slip under the bonnet in a very different way, hotwire the van, and drive off into New Mexico in it to start a taco stand. Bruno Bonito Burritos. They’re fishy!
What it does get is the most genuinely rapturous audience reaction Daisy’s got. Compare it to say, her quickstep, which also opened the show and featured people clearly being yelled at on camera by production staff to get up already. She went out loved. Although it’s only when we get to the band introductions that we truly find out why.
THEY SAVED HIM! THEY SMUGGLED THE MAN IN THE HAT OUT OF DAVEARCH’S BASEMENT IN THEIR SHAG VAN! STRICTLY HEROES THE PAIR OF THEM!
Len starts for the judges, saying that he was twitching and gyrating for the whole of that dance. Just like he was during Louise’s Argentine Tango the week before. He then goes on to say that there’s no one better to give us a routine full of flower power than Daisy. Also Aljaz in Slovenian actually means “peonies” (or at least that’s what I heard) so it’s a double pun! (I love that
Daisy’s eye make up already makes it look a bit like she’s crying over her elimination). Bruno follows, saying that he loved the legs, the lifts, and the hips, and that it was a routine full of an easy earthy sex appeal and so full of perfect ingredients that Mary Berry would have approved.
Oh look she’s in the audience. Get ready for a lot of food metaphors from your judges this week guys. Bruno then mentions that it was a shame Daisy stumbled out of a lift, but he’d love to see that routine again to see if she can correct it. Well, funny you should say that…
Craig’s next, and he says that Daisy’s footwork was sloppy and disjointed and he thought the transitions into and out of her lifts were sticky but…erm…nice legs? Darcey closes by saying that Daisy was hot and groovy and she wasn’t aware that Daisy had the self-confidence to come out dressed as she did. She’s a model Darcey, she’s worn worse. And less.
Up to Claud 9 they groove, where Claudia immediately gushes at Aljaz that he didn’t make it easy on her did he? Well no he didn’t Claudia, because he didn’t choreograph it. Daisy grins that it was like having a party on the floor, and then thanks Claudia for having her. Said with the practiced polite air of a girl who sucked up ably to all the parents whilst spiking the kiddy punch with rum and redistributing the contents of the goody bags quite liberally. Scores are in
Greg Rutherford & Natalie Lowe dancing the paso doble
That picture EMBODIES the whole “female pro is well into it, male celeb is just glad to be there” aesthetic this show so often trades in doesn’t it? Nat’s going to tell you why Greg is the GREATEST DANCER EVER ON THE SHOW EVER, and Greg’s going to apologise to you in the car park afterwards and pay for the damage she did to your Vauxhall Corsa with her locker-room keys. Tess tells us that Greg has been praised over the weeks of the competition for the drama and attack of his routines, so a paso doble should be right up his alley. I remember that praise about as much as I remember “Strict Aljaz” being a real thing outside of Claudia’s 50 Shades fantasies but ok.
VT now, and one that only backs this up
as we’re reminded of Natalie having a full body drama orgasm all over the banquette last week, whilst Greg focused chiefly on not regurgitating BBC canteen Thai Green Curry all over everything. Probably would have burnt a hole in Natalie’s dress for a start. Greg says it was one of their best weekends yet (you can tell he’d still favour farting around dressed as Robin Hood/A victim of Hallowe’en ghost-rape if he was pushed) and he’s dead chuffed to be progressing in the competition. As are
any gay men operating the cameras by the looks of how most of these shots of the dance are being framed. He does *have* a front, guys.
Training now and
this pretty much sums it up. Tess tells us all that Greg is learning how to be manly from Natalie. Make your own jokes. Greg tells us that he believes that paso doble means “two step” in Spanish. Sign the man up for a weekly It Takes Two segment guys, this is as edumacational as it gets on this show. Natalie tells us all that the dance is all about a matador facing a bull and yet it’s
her that looks like she’s got the horn here. You’re the CAPE Natalie. The CAPE. Remember what Nancy Dell’Olio taught us all. You’re the CAPE. Greg goes on to tell us that he’s finding the paso doble very hard, mostly because he finds it very difficult to be down on his knees all the time. Spoiling a lot of fantasies at home Greg, I have to tell you. Somebody find this man a cushion! (Also apparently a lot of sad cases were picking on Greg’s kid last week for “dressing like a girl” because he sported a topknot and was wearing a top that sort of looked pink if you were colour-blind and I like to believe that Greg’s turning up to training this week in a pair of what are quite clearly womens leggings is a form of counter-protest
I haven’t seen such a pair of clingy feminine bottoms on this show since the last time Bruno critiqued Judge Rinder).
TO THE HACIENDA!
Yes Natalie is swishing before the cameras are even on her. If you’d panned back when they were introduced before the VTs she probably would have been swishing then. Heck, she’s probably still swishing now. When Natalie does paso, she goes method. Indeed, Greg starts the routine by spending 8 seconds sat on a chair tapping out the rhythm whilst Natalie does her thing, and not tapping it out terribly accurately either, and it all proceeds in much the same vein from there after some
truly truly iffy capework with Natalie’s shawl that looks a bit like he’s trying to shake the moth eggs out of it. The main problem here is that Greg isn’t hearing the music at all – everything’s done very dramatically and athletically and passionately but it’s sort of all being thrown haphazardly at all the beats like someone trying to play Guitar Hero with their feet. Oh and his paso face
is ridiculously pouty and pinchy. We’re in full Woll Smoth territory here people. I think Greg would have benefitted from a more stately and sweeping paso doble here to be honest. There’s signs of the basic technique in there, but the spanish guitars here are pinging off all over the place at such a rate that he can’t keep on it. Give Danny Mac or even Ore something of this tempo and they might be able to keep on it. Greg can’t, even if his arse does look cracking in those high trousers
A fact the end pose only serves to…erm…highlight.
Up on Claud 9
I’m not sure what this look to camera from Katya is supposed to indicate. Either she liked it, or she thought it was stupid, or she still isn’t used to being near cameras yet. We shall see. Once Greg is over at the judges, insanely out of puff, Bruno starts by yelling that Greg was SO STRONG AND VIRILE, LEAPING ABOUT LIKE A TRIUMPHANT STAG HAVING CONQUERED NEW TERRITORIES! Is that stag playing Risk? What’s the metaphor here Bruno I’m lost. He goes on to say that he does think, however, that it lacked artistry, particularly in the arms. Tess chirrups up here that artistry takes years to learn. Quite. She’s been at the art of presenting for almost two decades now and the finer points (comic timing, human emotion, not touching people where they don’t want to be touched) still fail her on occasion. Craig is next, and he agrees with Bruno – it felt panicked and rushed and like Greg was often off the beat. Natalie protests that that was all part of the choreography to be panicked and rushed. Just like it’ll be part of the choreography when she chases him through the bar later wielding a half-empty bottle of Blue Sapphire.
Darcey’s next, and as usual sticking up for the tall amongst us, praising Greg for the power his natural stature gave the dance, but also saying at times he was trying too hard and could have afforded to ease off a little and focus on the finer points, like tucking his hips under more and lifting his eye-level. Len closes by saying he can sum it up in two lines :
“There was plenty of aggression, plenty of attack, it just lost a little finesse in the technique, and that’s what it was, and that’s what they’re all saying but in a convoluted long way but there you are, that’s all she wrote.”
For 5 marks, adjust the puncutation in that list of words so that it forms two sentences.
Up to Claud 9 they stomp, where Claudia tells Greg that they all loved it up there, and that Greg is sweet, and that he takes the judges comments so well and that when the dance finished AJ, who loves the paso by the way, AJ jumped onto his feet and said that he had to tell Greg how he felt about him and it was fantastic. Bless Claudia there’s nothing close to a question in there is there? Natalie just gets very intense and stares at Greg and tells him he did so much and she threw so much at him and he couldn’t have done a better job. Greg’s only words in this segment? “Yeah loved it” and “thanks”. Scores are in
Judge Rinder & Oksana Platero dancing the foxtrot
Tess is in the audience with Rinder’s grandparents to introduce this bit and
god bless them but they are the pair of them, especially her, nattering all over the top of his introduction, chatting to one another, getting to Tess’s lines on the autocue before she does, telling her that they’ve watched her husband on the telly a lot and they think he’s a nice young man and Tess has no idea how to handle it at all God bless her. She’s never sitting in the audience ever again.
VT time now, and as if the Rinder-Oksana alliance couldn’t get weirder, we start with a shot that’s framed exactly like
he’s about to shove her down the stairs. He talks to her about how Darcey gave him a 9 last week for his American Smooth and also asks “how amazing is Len?”. I presume this is a rhetorical question, because she doesn’t answer. Not with words anyway. There might have been gestures out of sight of the camera.
Training, and Rinder has the foxtrot this week, which Oksana tells him is a very difficult dance because of all the switching between “quick”s and “slow”s. We also learn in this bit that, despite her Barbie Blonde image amongst the pros, Oksana
has a tattoo on her inner arm. Either that or Rinder’s doodling on her in idle moments and she’s not noticed. Judge Rinder goes on to say that as the competition goes on it’s getting trickier for the men, because they’re starting to have to lead the dances. In his case because the batteries on his pro are starting to wear down a bit.
TO THE PARK!
So much booze in that hamper, goodness me. Mind you, last time I tried to make it with a woman that amount of alcohol was downed by me as well, so I empathise entirely. Rinder and Oksana are dancing to “You Make Me Feel So Young” and
squint a bit and it’s very “Anna Nicole and suitor” isn’t it? I think it’s Rinder’s cropped hair and the fact that he’s come dressed for the Rotary Club, but this is going beyond “old-fashioned” into straight up “old”. It’s all very in-keeping with Rinder’s current “no, now I am a serious artist, please don’t ask me about my previous work” campaign – tasteful, demure, elegant, neatly danced, only one or two
outrageous flaps of the mouth. I mean, it’s not as though he could have come out and roared around the floor to Fuck Buttons dressed as an actual peacock, because it’s foxtrot but I appreciate the effort to hold on to playing it straight, for the grandparents (we’ve all been there). At least until whatever they’re going to do to him at Blackpool. The only real extracurricular thrill here is Oksana’s mane of hair, which she is
whipping about like a mad’un periodically.
Looking at her face here, it’s about the only passion she’s getting from this love affair.
Once the dance is done we of course
immediately cut to the grandparents in the front row, who are applauding. I was secretly hoping she’d be fishing about for Polo mints or trying to chase Claudia down to ask her how Bruce is holding up because she’s had some health problems as well recently would you like to hear about them and what’s that Patrick Grant like on the Sewing Bee he seems like a proper old fashioned gentleman like you had in the old days before all those hippies in the 70s came and ruined no offence to Daisy and Alykash obviously but you wouldn’t get her in one of those minivan things not at her age no thank you she used to go in a caravan sometimes when she was younger, down on the coast, down to Woolacombe or Minehead but those vans they were something else, her daughter went off in one with a gentleman friend once and well she won’t tell you where they ended up having to go and what they had to do to sort things out again but it was an eye-opener she’ll put it that way it’s no wonder young Robert turned out the way he did not that there’s anything wrong with it but in her day they had a word for that sort of thing but it’s the twentieth century now so all change isn’t it and in a way that’s a good thing really isn’t it?
But no she’s sat there paying attention damn her.
Once Rinder’s over at Tess he gives a little speech about how whatever’s going on in the world, his generation are able to have this sort of fun because of what his grandparents generation did. Now Judge Rinder’s grandparents look a bit young to me to have taken an active role in World War 2, but if they *did* I would pay good money to know what it was. Particularly her. I can picture her with a bayonet.
Craig starts for the judges, saying that Rinder didn’t have any swing or sway and he also didn’t drive off with enough power in his heel leads, an accusation which causes Rinder to react with
pantomime levels of horror. Oksana meanwhile is all “great, I’ll be hearing that from Nana Rinder the whole way through the aftershow party”. He then moves on to telling Rinder he’s at least improved his face this week and Rinder’s all “LOL WAKE ME UP WHEN YOU CAN TELL ME THE SAME” and Craig’s all
“I HAVEN’T SCORED YOU YET BITCH, GET READY NOW THO WHY I OUGHTA!” and everyone laughs. I’ve tidied that up considerably from how ham-fisted they were in carrying it off in reality, because I’m kind and if I can make the bitch-fight in my head better than the one that occured in reality than I will do it. Darcey follows by praising Judge Rinder for his diligent study and improving his flow and stretching himself, making this all sound a bit like Kung Fu Panda with her as the wise old tortoise sensai. Rinder looks very moved by these kind words
although I’m mostly including this picture as evidence of how Oksana’s face never moves. Ever. Regardless on whether her celeb is receiving praise of receiving criticism. Occasionally the lips move apart to show the teeth but that’s about it.
Len’s next and says that the foxtrot is NO PICNIC but that was a WALK IN THE PARK like a MARY BERRY SOUFFLE with NO SOGGY BOTTOM (RETIRE!).
Bruno closes by saying that it’s great to see “Proper Robert” out there on the dancefloor, dressed in a nice suit, dancing like a gentleman, sober, correct and considered. I love that we’re at the point where this guy is now two different people entirely – Robert who lives by day, dancing sober ballroom, who loved supporting the elderly and the Armed Forces, talking sincerely about his very real love of the feeling you get when you do a dance properly and technically right so it all flows magically, and Judge Rinder, his superhero/villain alterego who throws himself off balconies dressed as a 6ft moth with his nips hanging out to Lady Gaga whilst yelling “I’M QUEEN OF THE BUTTERFLIES!” whilst his dance partner tries to headbutt her way out of a giant condom. Anyway, Judge Rinder at this point is supremely obnoxious and shakes his ear whilst looking at Craig and gesturing to Bruno. I guarantee you the idea that Bruno is a better judge than him would cut Craig in his fleshiest parts, so I love it most of all.
Up to Claud 9 they go, where Robert speechifies that he came here to do that dance because so many years ago his grandmother tried teach him that dance and he didn’t listen and then The Joker gunned her down in an alley and that’s when he became…JUDGE RI…oh no wait sorry, went off a bit there. It’s a tribute to the Greatest Generation and his wonderful teacher
Mavis Beacon here. Scores are in
Ore Oduba & Joanne Clifton dancing the rumba
Tess tells us that this week Ore and Joanne are dancing to “Ordinary People” by John Legend, but with them dancing it it’ll be anything but ordinary. In the background you can see Len screwing up his notes for this dance and starting again.
VT time, and Ore said that last week he was looking forward to his salsa, because he thought he could go out there and put on a show, but then it all went wrong. Ore says, as so many of his fellow kids tv presenters have said before him “nothing prepares you for the red light”. It causes your entire Strictly life to flash before your eyes when you know there’s only one dance that stands between you and going home apparently. Which means that Daisy’s had to revisit her Charleston outfit three times now bless her.
Training now, and Ore tells us that the rumba is probably the greatest challenge he’s faced in the competition so far because it’s so slow and controlled but also very technical and complicated. I refuse to believe it’s a tougher challenge than havng to sit there in silence whilst make-up affixed that rusty merkin to his face for the Charleston. REFUSE. Joanne sits him down and tells him the rumba basics he has to remember – no heel leads, legs straightened, turn your feet out, and most terrifying of all you have to be romantic. Ore immediately of course gets all “protest too much” about this saying this is going to be SO HARD because they are just BEST MATES with NO SEXUAL TENSION WHATSOEVER
WINK WINK. Yes that is Ore trying to wink and failing bless him. The rest of the VT is just Ore laughing and laughing and laughing and laughing at the idea that he and Joanne might ever get it on. It’s exactly the same laugh I used to use when strangers used to confuse me and my best straight friend for boyfriends. Oh how I *laughed* and did not cry myself to sleep and write bad poetry afterwards.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Now there’s a story to this dance, but I’m not sure what it is other than
Joanne looks pretty damn annoyed at the start. Maybe I need two old people saying “now Betty was very annoyed because I’d accidentally used her sisters name when I was taking her from behind in the Anderson Shelter because we couldn’t afford the risk of pregnancy” over the top in voiceover to explain it to me. Anyway other than that, as an official blokerumba apologist this is the first dance of Ore’s I’ve liked since the Supposed Third Coming Of The Holy Jive. Hooray! It’s quite nice to see Ore trying to be
tender after so many weeks of clunky whamming it about all over the place. There’s a certain grace to it all, even if that is
occasionally the grace of an off-Vegas magic revue, and despite protestations otherwise
there’s definitely some chemistry here of some sort, whether they want to try to baby-voice it away or not.
His arms are doing a lot more work than his hips and occasionally his grip on Joanne gets away from him, but there was definitely something here that he’s been missing lately, and it’s a welcome return to form.
Whatever it is, it’s got Tess feeling frisky anyway, as she tells him he’s looking very dishy this evening and then puts a
patented Daly pinch on his hand. Seriously, go back and watch Ore’s thumb at this part, it is doing frantic work trying to slide the rest of his fist out of there but she’s having none of it. Darcey starts for the judges, saying that it was tender and romantic rather than sensual and that she liked how Ore’s arms came from his back and torso. I think Darcey might be high guys. It’s a fine line every week but between Daisy’s beautiful aura and this, there is some fine weed-talk coming out of this woman’s mouth every week now. Len’s next and he praises Ore for keeping to the rumba beat with just a piano and a vocal to work to, without any strong percussion. If only the audience had been clappng along eh? He does however, think Ore could have pushed his heel through his calf. Just like Oti does with Danny in training every week. LEARN FASTER MEAT PUPPET!
Bruno’s next, and says that he loved the tonality of the performance, and it looked like Ore was trying to protect Joanne from the vicissitudes of the world. Personally I feel like Joanne can probably handle herself. Just about. Craig closes by saying that Ore hit the dance too hard, causing it to lose fluidity, and made a mess of the drag, but was very expressive and evocative all the same.
Up to Claud 9 they swish, where Claudia tells them it must be so nice to have such lovely comments, especially after “Danceoffgate”. Literally just putting “-gate” after everything now aren’t we? Ore says he felt himself getting emotional at the end, because Joanne choreographed such a beautiful routine. To which Brendan starts running around yelling “WHERE’S THE TISSUES?”. Because he’s Brenda. Scores are in
Ed Balls & Katya Jones dancing the salsa
If you look very closely in the reflection from those shades, you can see Honey G. The pair of them, reflecting one another back and forth, forever. Ahem. Tess tells us that there are many types of salsa in the world – Cuban style, Miami style, Puerto Rican style, disco style, Bollywood style, Hallowe’en zombie style, Nancy Dell Olio style, Cheerleader Hip Hop style, Iveta Bom Bom Bom style, whatever that thing was that Caroline Flack did when she came back at the start of Series 13 style…and now Gangnam Style! Well I guess it was always the logical endpoint.
VT time and Ed is sat down for a casual coffee with Katya, saying wonderously that for the first time people are actually coming up to him and complimenting him on his technique, rather than just on being funny. Didn’t we have this after his Charleston? And the foxtrot parts of his American Smooth? And his cha cha? Ed & Katya whammying the “BUT HE CAN REALLY DANCE!!!” faster and more frantically and more frequently even than Team Cola after a night on the sherbet dibdabs there, except of course with Chris it was actually true. Well…more true. Truer. Closer to truth.
Training now, and Katya talks about how much fun it is training with Ed because you never know what’s going to happen. Except this
a lot. Apparently Ed’s adding his own ideas and moves to the routine again, including one where he falls backwards and Katya catches him. I’d save the comedy corporate awayday ideas for one of the 50 ballroom dances you’ve got remaining because the show only knows how to do OTT pieface comedy with the Latin guys. Maybe a foxtrot that includes blindfolded falls, mood boards, and tossing around an idea ball, all culminating in you and Katya fighting for control of a mobile phone on top of a climbing frame in tribute to The Thick Of It. For this week though, surely Gangnam Style is enough. Please.
It just occured to me that both salsas this week have their roots in the exact same X Factor comedy routine from about half a decade ago. Maybe this is why I’m so jaded – I’ve been here before and that time there were sexy pandas (genuinely, all of them, male and emale, would. Slutty panda is obviously my go to don’t spread it too widely). This is Ed doing some bad salsa (basically just the marching from “Is This The Way To Amarillo?”) interspersed with one good, one decent and one terrible lift, and bits and pieces from the Gangnam Style video.
This is kind of cute I guess, and I’ll give him that it’s a full routine of dancing and travelling around the floor instead of squatting 2ft from a van at all times but I don’t know. Much like with the paso doble I feel like at this point they’ve gone too far past the point of “trying too hard” with this particular routine for me to find this amusing, particularly as he’s been giving vague interviews since midweek about how somehow he is the one bringing the nation together and is what we need to defeat Trump. Trust a politician to spoil it all by getting ahead of themselves.
The audience, naturally, love it
except this one woman who it’s given a bit of a migraine. She is, to a degree, my spirit animal. Tess is whooping it up as well, gushing that the band even managed to sing that IN KOREAN. Which is pretty much the definition of diminished expectations when you think about it. Well done on singing the song in the language it was written. Meanwhile on every other version of Strictly in the non-English-speaking world…
Len starts for the judges, saying that there aren’t words in the dictionary to describe what Ed just did. Oh I think there are. He goes on to say that with Ed what he enjoys most is the sense of anticipation you get, far more than any other couple. Well yes, the other couples don’t quite get the…trailers that Ed does. Really what’s getting an 8 here is the show’s marketing department. Bruno’s next, and says that made him feel “queasy and queer”. Well me too, but I wouldn’t be saying it ostensibly as a compliment.
Craig follows, with the usual “OMG” truncated comment he uses when something was crap but saying so would get him actually lynched, and Darcey says that that will go down in Strictly history without doubt. I would tend to agree, but then everyone said that last year about Jeremy Vine riding in on a plastic horse and who even remembers that happened now? Other than Jeremy Vine obviously. At length.
Up to Claud 9 they Gangnam Style where everyone is whooping along and dancing about and Claudia asks us all to ponder the face of Ed’s little brother.
Another spirit animal to add to the pile. Scores are in
Claudia Fragapane & AJ Pritchard dancing the Viennese Waltz
AJ’s hair here gets the honour of a new list I’m starting entitled “Things I Found Funnier Than Ed Balls Doing Gangnam Style”. Tess starts by telling us that Cloudia has achieved many things on Strictly, including being joint top of the leaderboard one time (lol at that REACHING) but whilst we’re all enjoying her time on Strictly, nobody’s enjoying it as much as she is. Now that feels like a stealth burn if ever I heard one.
VT now, and it all feels very revisionist as, despite getting broadly negative comments and a reasonably low leaderboard position and having to watch AJ get chewed out by Len for being overpowering, Cloudia has only good memories of her paso, the edit only shows the positive judging comments, and AJ talks glowingly about needing to continue in that vein if they want to get to Blackpool. It feels a bit like during the Results Show when you can kind of tell which dances are going to be in the bottom 2 because all the negative comments they got are aired during the recap, whilst dances with similar or slightly lower scores that are safe get all the positive ones aired. Between this and her being plonked out after Ed Balls maybe they have more faith in her vote than I do. Oh and
AJ’s Professor Brainstawm hair here gets another entry on the list.
Training now, and AJ is in the middle of telling Cloudia that the Viennese Waltz is the oldest of all the ballroom dances, so they’ve got to include lots of steps that will entertain Len. Meow. The highlight of AJ’s “PLEASE LEN IT’S WORTH A WHOLE POINT!” campaign is, as ever with the Viennese Waltz, the “fleckerl”. Unfortunately the fleckerl is
VERY HARD. At least for Cloudia, who as a gymnast is used to being very rigid and repetitive rather than light and flowing and elegant. I love this second coming of the gymnasts on Strictly, where we actually talk about how gymnastics and dancing are incompatable genres of physical expression in some ways, whereas with Louis it was always “this is difficult because I’d rather be having a Pot Noodle and a wank”. AJ closes the VT by complaining that he can’t do lifts in the Viennese Waltz (always with the lifts this one) so instead he’s choreographing in one of those “almost lift”s where it’s not a lift because the celeb’s pinkie toenail is scraping the floor the whole time. How this makes it in any way meaningfully different from a lift such that it doesn’t count as one is beyond me but hey that’s ballroom dancing!
TO THE SWING!
Ah how I’ve missed this swing. It’s got me through some rough times. Cloudia and AJ are performing their Viennese Waltz to “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson and it’s very
floaty and dreamy and for all that AJ said that he was going to choreograph the whole thing to please Len he does appear to be trying to innovate with the stuff he’s throwing in here. This moment where he and Cloudia embrace and then nearly fall over backwards before recovering into individual separate spins and wafts
is presumably a tribute to Abbey & Aljaz’s quickstep hold for example. It all just loses a bit of momentum when it gets to the fleckerls, of which I think there are two, one directly after the other, both of which go on for just that little bit too long, robbing the routine of some of the momentum it was starting to build up. Other than that though it’s a very creditable performance from Cloudia that maybe deserved better than to be ignored in the wake of everyone apparently rushing to Youtube to watch Ed again. (Also, to be churlish, it’s transparent that her foot stays NOWHERE NEAR the floor during the final “not a lift honest” but that’s camerawork for you I guess)
They go over to the judges, where Tess belms on about her inner loveliness and Bruno refers to her and AJ as the “cutest couple in all the land”. So no danger of her being treated like an adult at any point soon if you were wondering. Craig follows by saying that he loved Cloudia’s movement across the floor, but she does have a habit of spotting the floor whilst out of hold that she apparently hasn’t bothered correcting even though they’ve told her to before (*handbags*). Darcey praises Cloudia for staying in character throughout the routine and her smooth serene quality and Len closes by telling her it was a lovely performance, but you can tell he’d rather be jumping up and down yelling “OPPA EDBALLS STYLE!”
Up to Claud 9 they float where Claudia reiterates what Cloudia said in her VT, in slightly less authoratitive terms, that in gymnastics “you have to learn how to stop but in Viennese Waltz you just have to keep going”. Cloudia says it has indeed been difficult learning to master her flow for the first time. Wow, I didn’t think she was THAT young. Although you do know what they say about gymnasts and their body clocks… Scores are in
36. Oksana’s face when Claudia tries to tell Cloudia that Blackpool, where she’s never been before, is magical?
Number 3 on the list.
Danny Mac & Oti Mabuse dancing the Argentine Tango
Tess tells us that tonight Danny will be performing an Argentine Tango to a Marvin Gaye track and she’s got a feeling it’s going to be good. Because he’s a massive stage school ringer who’s done a good dance every week he hasn’t been tied to his partner via a bungee cord? NO! BECAUSE SHE HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE!
The audience boo this. As well they might.
VT time, and Danny talks about how much he enjoyed his jive last week, not least because it gave him his highest score yet. That’s more or less it. Not a lot of texture to Danny’s journey it has to be said.
Training, and Oti is telling Danny that for the Argentine Tango he’s going to have to play a really strong masculine character. Unlike all those other weeks where he pranced about in a tutu, z-snapping and calling Oti “girlfriend”. Danny asks if this means he should just be angry the whole time.
God Hollyoaks is a veritable Juilliard of the British dramatic arts isn’t it? Oti informs him that there in fact going to have to be layers to this performance, and not in the Hollyoaks sense where he first takes off his jumper, then his t-shirt, then his trousers. DRAMATIC LAYERS. There’s also, says Oti, “a segment in the routine called the ganchos” which involves a lot of kicking and flicking of the legs around one another, which Danny is going to have practice at home.
Danny might want to question who has installed a hidden camera in his toilet. Also good luck with that raw masculine energy with the little Dick Emery kick you’ve got going on there though.
TO THE SEEDY MOTEL!
The story here is that Danny and Oti are checking in for a night together when out of the blue
a phone rings
to tell Danny that Oti’s a slaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag. (Number 4 on the list) You wonder who’s making that call. Maybe Anthony Ogogo’s not let go of his truncated run last series that easily. What follows feels very much like a
Showdance “with an Argentine Tango twist” with Oti flinging herself around Danny at 100mph and both of their legs flicking around madly and seemingly at random. Not too many of those “moments of pause and tension” that Ian was hoping for on It Takes Two this week as it’s full pelt kitchen sink audience bait flash from the off. I think my favourite bits are when Oti
more or less kicks herself right in the back of the head and when
this happens, which I’m not sure I’m convinced isn’t CGI in some way shape or form. It’s all very impressive and fun and dramatic and if we are going crash-bang-wallop with Danny’s routines then this is probably as good as it’s going to get. It’s no surprise that this routine was choreographed by Mr Oksana, who is a salsa specialist rather than an Argentine Tango specialist. It is kind of a surprise with that in mind that I like it more than any of the actual salsa routines I’ve seen that he’s choreographed. If you don’t like frantic then I can see why it’s not for you but the whole thing reminds me of a screaming pub car park row at 2am, and those are my favourite kinds of fight to rubberneck. The end move where Oti
flings herself through his legs like she’s diving for the last Rolo and doesn’t care that it’s been dropped on the carpet is a little inelegant, but otherwise I enjoyed it.
Craig starts for the judges with a torrent of criticism – there was no A-frame, Danny wasn’t leading with the torso, it was too aggressive…but it was incredible (9!). I feel like, like many critics who mostly carp, Craig’s lost the ability to articulate why he likes things. A little. Darcey’s next, also calling the dance frantic and busy and too aggressive and saying that she didn’t see a story through the movement like she would have liked. There was no intensity and no desire. Just as a reminder, this dance is about to score 38.
Len’s next and he says that normally as a judge he’s in favour of Argentine Tangos that are small and intimate (can someone flash back to him giving Lisa Snowdon a 10 for one that consisted mostly of her trying to kick everyone in the front row in the face?) but he loved the clarity and precision of that. Mmmm, clarity and precision. It’s left to Bruno Tonioli, the greatest cheerleading section in the world to try to get everyone going by growling
DANNY’S ON THE BOIL! (At this point Len feels the need to chuckle in all “hurr hurr Danny Boyle” and nobody feels the need to explain your crap jokes for you Len hush up). WITH THE RAGING PASSION OF AN ARGENTINIAN STALLION. IT WAS A KILLER DANCE! OVARY VOTERS
DEPLOY DEPLOY DEPLOY! I mean, he did his best, but I feel like we just got the comments for a Katie Derham level Argentine Tango welded onto something that’s about to get the scores of Alesha Dixon’s.
Up to Claud 9 they go, with Danny already seeming a bit emotionally edgy, and Oti tells Claudia that they struggled with that dance all week, but they just went out and did the best they could with it and had fun, so they don’t mind that the judges didn’t like it. Danny then puts serious face on, voice wibbling, and says that Oti’s held his hand through a difficult week and that one was for his dad. Well who knows what’s going on there. Scores are in
38. This show sometimes…
Louise Redknapp & Kevin Clifton dancing the American Smooth
Already looks like a coiled spring ready to explode with fun doesn’t she? Tess reminds us that last week Louise was top of the leaderboard with her Argentine Tango and scored 39 points, and then asks if she can top that tonight. No Tess. No she can’t.
VT time, and Kevin tells Louise that she was amazing last week in her Argentine Tango, dancing with a real passion and fire that he’s never felt from her before and which made a real delight to dance with. Louise’s response? “Nawwwwwwwww, thanks”. What a Louise. You will also be pleased to hear that it was a lot of fun and she’s chuffed to bits. Feels like that super-hot firey passion may well have been a one week thing. Maybe it was the sight of Kevin’s chest hair that did it, some women go a bit funny over that sort of thing.
Training now, and Kevin tells Louise that they will be dancing the “American Smooth Foxtrot” this week, to which Louise replies “aren’t they all foxtrot?”. They are on this show yes. I think a couple of pros tried quickstep once but it never went down well. Kevin then further explains that all American Smooth means with regards to ballroom is that you can add extra bits and go out of hold. Well by that token every single dance done on this show now is American Smooth well done. Our subplot for these two for the week is that Kevin has supposedly incorporated a lot of Fosse style movements into the routine, which people will, according to Louise, know best if they’ve ever seen Chicago. Or…erm…Sweet Charity? The musical from which you’ve drawn the number you’re dancing to? Maybe? Anyway, Louise tells us she’s always enjoyed watching Fosse but she’s never tried dancing it, because she opted to take tap classes with Mr Jan-Smith that semester at Italia and she didn’t regret it for one minute because let me tell you that man could fill a pair of spats.
TO THE STRIPPERARIUM!
I think this dance was a little doomed for me from the moment that Claudia joked earlier on Claud 9 that Louise was going to be dancing to “Hey Big Blender” because it brought to mind Housewife Louise again, and that’s a hard thought to dislodge, especially when she emerges from behind the curtain wielding erotic burlesque fans
that look a bit like feather dusters if you squint. It’s less genuine hooker-stripper mayhem than it is
“Kim & Aggy Get Off For Children In Need”. She can
throw herself at Kevin
and high-kick to the heavens all she likes, producing a big beaming routine full of technical content and camp thrills as Kevin slides all over the floor begging for a dirty shag from an experienced older madam, and I’m still getting “HEY BIG TOASTER! PLEASE USE A COASTER!” running through my head. There’s a real joy coming off Louise in this performance, but it’s not the joy of someone ensnaring her man, more the joy of someone who’s finally got that suspicious crust off the bottom of the oven after 30 straight minutes of scrubbing.
Fun, but if I sound underwhelmed blame Claudia guv, she ruined it. More fussy than Fosse.
They totter over to the judges, where Darcey starts by saying that Louise looked the part and danced the part (or Overexcited Customer in an Avon advert on ITV daytime), with so many lovely details in there, it was only a shame that her shoulders rode up occasionally in lifts. Len’s next, and he says that whilst Louise had a couple of fans during the routine, she’s now got an even BIGGER fan in Len, and he reckons she’s going to get a big score.
Bruno’s next, and he wheezes out “VAMP IT UP LOOOEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZ” (Number 5) and tells her that that routine had it all! She was cheeky, sassy, naughty, classy, tarty, spicy and the seventh dwarf in Bruno’s production of Snow White, Cokehead. Finally Craig tells Louise that his cork was popping all the way through that number, which makes me feel a little nauseous to be honest. TMI Craig, TMI.
Up to Claud 9 they sprint, where Claudia discusses with Louise how Kevin has to spend the first half of every week telling her that she doesn’t look stupid before they can start training. I mean, I’m not an Ed Balls fan but I can see how his attitude is a plausable and welcome alternative to “stage school pop star in Week 8 having more or less nailed every dance still has to spend 3 days being told she’s pretty before she even starts the routine”. Claudia then praises Kevin for showing off Louise in that routine, to which Kevin replies “how could you not want to show off Louise?”. I feel some of the nausea from Craig’s comment coming back to be honest. Scores are in
37. At this point Karen and Joanne start doing a little jig and singing “undermarked! undermarked!”. They never learn do they these Cliftons? Daisy and Ore join in a bit, but it’s not enough to start a mass movement and they stop and look a little embarassed.
Anywho, final leaderboard?
IT ALL FITS IN ONE PICTURE! THE GREATEST TIME OF THE SERIES! GOODNIGHT!