Well so much for that “SO MANY GREAT JIVES THIS SERIES” proclamation then.
No “Previously On” this week (poor Daisy, denied even that final little bit of attention) as we open with
yet another bloody ringer. How many is too many, that’s the question.
Yes, we’re in Blackpool, home of Peter Purves, Jenna Coleman, Zoe Ball, the dad from Frasier, Miss Lemon from Poirot, half the Pet Shop Boys, and most famously of all La Prenj – Queen Of Blackpool. May she reign forever from her throne made entirely out of Blackpool rock, chewing the scenary forever. We begin as ever at Blackpool with a whistle-stop tour of residents, all of them so excited that Strictly is coming to brighten up their grey little lives.
All except that orangutan at the end there. It’s not been the same for him since Lesley left. His mate had free tickets for the live show and he would have been sat next to Tony Robinson and he still said no. They did her so dirty.
However ropey this series gets I will always give thanks that we somehow got shot of Tameka in Wk 3, sorry not sorry.
We open with
a shot of our 9 male pros, waiting at some set-up dressing room doors, waiting for the stars of our show to emerge. But before they arrive
Natalie! Looking as vampy as she’s ever looked, emerging from the celebs dressing rooms, all but wiping fluid off the corner of her mouth as she does so. What a star. This is, of course, the annual pro-celeb Blackpool opening number, which this year is being performed to “One” from A Chorus Line. After this and the Rogers & Hammerstein showcase for Movie Week I’m wondering what they’ve got saved up for Musicals Week. BECAUSE IF IT’S WALT SODDING DISNEY *shakes fist*
Anyway, it’s a really theatrical and fun opener, with all the celebs getting their own little showcases with Greg
bursting through the door like Superman, and doing a cute little number with all the female pros hanging off him, Cloudia being fitted with a necklace and
swooning about a podium, Danny
leading up a mini-troupe of the pro men which definitely isn’t going to help all those “HE *IS* A BLOODY PRO!” grumblings, Louise
wafting that feather fan again (I hope she’s washed Jamie’s bodily fluids off that thing if she’s brushing it across Brenda’s face is all I’m saying), Rinder
descending sat on a star whilst all the lady pros roll around the floor spreading their legs for him (no comment), Ore doing some
vamping about signing autographs and posing for pictures, all whilst Ed
sits on his arse on a chair being shuttled about hither and yon. This isn’t *filling* me with excitement for his contribution to Two Dance Week it has to be said. Still, this is all Denise Van Outen did in Chicago and she managed well enough when the time came I guess. The judges also get their own little bit
poor Len. I really thought that they’d be going to town for his final series more than they have been. It looks like he’s having to photobomb that bit. Really it’s everything you want from an opening Blackpool number involving celebs – lots of fun and glamour and nobody getting left out.
Once the feathers have all been picked off the floor, as it’s Blackpool, our hosts are introduced as Tess “Kiss Me Quick” Daly and Claudia “Squeeze Me Slow” Winkleman. Zoe “Hold My Hair Back Whilst I Vomit” Ball being still stuck in London. The judges meanwhile are introduced as “as majestic as the Tower Ballroom itself” which feels like a burn on…well everything really.
Claudia Fragapane & AJ Pritchard dancing the jive
I mean, I know wardrobe put it on your outfits and everything, but this is a little presumptuous no? Tess tells us all that this has been Cloudia’s first time in Blackpool, so AJ has been showing her all the sights. The Golden Mile, the pier, the Winter Gardens, Funny Girls, the penny arcade, the abandoned airport, the haunted rollerdisco, Lennie Bennett’s mum’s house, that place where that dog was born with two heads…
VT time and AJ and Cloudia are sat discussing how great their Viennese Waltz was last week. Honestly they are the only two people who remember it even happened. They stuck you on after Ed Balls DOIN DA GANGNAM STYLE with a waltz and memorial chairswing kids, nobody cares.
Training now, and Cloudia tells us that she’s really glad she’s got the jive this week, because it’s really fast and that means there’s no room for mistakes. Well you asked for it hun. We also get at this point AJ reaching
maximum bad acting as he explains to Cloudia that Blackpool is the home of ballroom dancing and everyone who has ever ballroom danced ever will tell you how special and magical it is (except Tristan MacManus who thinks it’s a shithole). I don’t mean to be cruel about AJ (much) but do they not screentest new pros any more? Between him and Oksana the new batch are making Pasha look like Larry Olivier. Maybe they’re all angling with Danny for a role in Hollyoaks. Once they’re in Blackpool AJ shows Cloudia around, first to the Winter Gardens, which is especially special for AJ as this is where he won the British Championships
or based on how old he looks in this picture, where he will win them in 3 years time (I love that Chloe gets to be centre of the shot there, MORE CHLOE PLEASE). Cloudia tries to look impressed despite having come straight from the ACTUAL OLYMPICS. IN RIO DE JANEIRO. AJ then takes her for a donkey ride on the beach and a gawp at the tower, but there’s no rollercoasters or chips and that’s what Cloudia really was looking forward to. Meanwhile AJ
just can’t stop the actings
TO THE BLEACHERS!
Cloudia is doing her jive with a cheerleader theme to “Hey Mickey”, which sounded on paper to me like the recipe for a really good jive, but which in practice goes entirely awry. It starts off well enough with AJ
and a couple of male friends power-mincing their way towards her as she cheerleads on the stage, but once they
toss her off, it all goes a bit wrong. I think the chief problem, not to be indelicate, is she looks like she’s come out without any skirt on at all, which is only serving to highlight when her legs go wrong. Which is often. A cute little ra ra skirt flouncing about and it might have been creating enough movement by itself to cover up her going off on the wrong foot or forgetting when to kick or just…bouncing up and down on the spot, but all she’s got is just a bit of minge-fringe so everything’s highlighted to the nth degree, even with AJ’s boyfriends
literally bouncing up and down on trampolenes at the back trying to pull focus off them. In short, I was expecting gyymnastics, power, and sassy mean girl cheerleader camp joy, I got
Donald Duck doing a one-armed cartwheel and that’s it. PUT SOME PANTS ON.
They wander over to Tess once they’re done, and the first thing Cloudia does is praise the backing dancers, who she says were “amazing”. Well if nothing else the girl was raised right. Or maybe she’s just giving them extra praise because this was two more young men who probably woke up this week with Cloudia’s dad’s face hovering outside their bedroom window mouthing “I’M WATCHING YOU SUNSHINE!”. Tess also gives thanks to the staff here – Davearch’s orchestra. And if you thought that The Man In The Hat was going to get a starring role after Daisy and Aljaz busted him out of Davearch’s basement last week in the back of their shag van then think again. Davearch has got him
right in the back, in shadow
and is going to wave liberally all over his face. Nobody gets the better of Davearch. NOBODY!
Len starts for the judges, saying that Cloudia BLEW HIS MIND and there was no TAKING THE MICKEY with that dance (RETIRE!). He also mentions that he did see some mistakes, and then the audience boo a bit and Len huffs that HE DOES APOLOGISE FOR TELLING THE TRUTH and then threatens to set Judge Rinder on the audience. Is this the corrupt judiciary the Daily Mail is trying to warn us about? Len as the figurehead and Rindy running around behind him with a nightstick coshing dissenters like some sort of spangly Judge Dredd? Bruno’s next and in Cloudia’s honour
unleashes that fart in Len’s face that she was worried about unleashing at the start of her samba. He felt it had the glitz and glamour of a Busby Berkeley musical, but he too noticed that Cloudia went off on the wrong foot in places.
Craig’s next and he sighs that it’s a shame about the mistakes, because if there hadn’t been any it could have got a 10. Well yes Craig, that is how judging generally works. I know Craig said on It Takes Two that he gives a 10 only if a dance transports him to a special fantasy world (in this case one where he gets gang-banged by the entire starting line-up of the Miami Dolphins) but technique has to be the crux of it really. Darcey closes by calling them “fast pumping, jumping magic beans” and telling Cloudia that that routine showed off all her strengths. Yes this feels a bit “well we had nice comments pre-written so it’d be a shame to waste them!” really doesn’t it?
Over to Claud 9 they go, this week as ever carved out of a bit of cornerfloor rather than being upstairs as usual, making me miss the good old days of the Tesspit when the whole thing was done up like a harem. Claudia asks Cloudia if it was an honour to start the show or if it made her nervous, and she said it was both, but she’s glad she got the PARTY STARTED. Fairly sure that was Rinder descending from the ceiling on a giant spangly shuriken. For me. AJ meanwhile gives a little speech about how special Blackpool is whilst I’m mostly
trying to work out which little black dots on his top line up exactly with the centres of his nipples. Scores are in
36. Gorka’s face is us all I think.
Peter Kaye does the Terms & Conditions this week. He’s brought three jokes – that Ed’s surname is Balls, that the autocue’s going too fast, and that Judge Rinder keeps on trying to bum him. Expect him to come back next series and do the exact same three jokes. And the next series. And the series after that.
Ore Oduba & Joanne Clifton dancing the Viennese Waltz
Tess tells us that Ore’s routine will be Rat Pack themed, and start off with Joanne and Ore playing cards, which Tess feels is only appropriate, as Blackpool is the Vegas of the North. Well I guess that makes Morecambe the Reno.
VT time and Ore tells us that he was really looking forward to his rumba, and also really nervous about it. That’s performance anxiety for you. We’re then shown in quick succession that part of the routine where Joanne
faked orgasm harder than When Harry Met Sally and Ore’s frankly
spafftastic reaction to being put through first last week. Which is a little bit much for what is supposed to be a family show. Joanne waxes lyrical about how this is the first time she’s ever ever danced at Blackpool with her celebrity on the show and it’s only your second series love, wind it in.
and it briefly looks like Ore will be performing at Blackpool on his own whilst Jo hangs out on the shoe bin, but then I remember this is probably one of the bits where he’ll be dancing with an extra. As it’s Viennese Waltz this week for Ore, we run through the usual rigmarole about dizziness, until Joanne says she’s got a solution. She’s taking Ore to this
the grim and grisly looking “Strictly Props HQ” to strap him in to a piece of apparatus that will help him learn to control his nausea. Oh God have they hauled Flavia’s sex swing out of mothballs again? I guess that rumba did awaken something after all…
Oh no, wait, it’s just your standard gyroscopic chair let’s move on.
TO THE CASINO!
So the start of this dance is pretty clearly a homage to the Mannequin Challenge, with everyone else very still and posturing and Ore
and then Joanne
sliding around them all smoothly like a couple out of time, trying to play them all.
It’s a cute conceit but this dance is already so burdened with having to try to make a foxtrot song fit a Viennese Waltz that it didn’t need an added layer of complication thrown on top to be honest. Joanne’s choreography this whole series has been riding the line between the theming and the storyline and the performance elements adding to Ore(A. Smooth, Jive, Rumba) and detracting from him (tango, cha cha) and I think this whole production number falls more on the side of the latter. Although I do very much enjoy the bit where
this sassy bitch pulls out a Queen Of Spades that Joanne’s had hidden down her boobies the whole time. The Viennese Waltz? It’s ok, once they get to it, but I did not need to see a fleckerl that lasted for, by my count, TWENTY TWO SECONDS. There’s pleasing Len and then there’s running the bath for him with extra bubbles and rose petals and leaving the rest of us stood out on the stoop in the freezing cold with microwave pizza. Especially when they look
so bloody pleased with themselves afterwards. I know that’s kind of incumbent with a Rat Pack theme but still. Anyway, Ore pulls out an Ace of his own, then they go spinning around the floor some more before he spins her round on her bum for the grand finale.
It’s routines like this where Craig’s “if it had been better then it could have been a 10!” actually makes sense to me, because there was definitely something here. I’m just not sure it landed. I do love that
the backing dancers stay frozen as Ore accepts his applause and standing ovation. Such stagers. Unlike Cloudia’s boys, they get no thanks from Ore once he reaches Tess as he’s too busy yelling “HELLO BLACKPOOL!” and
loving himself silly bless him. Bruno starts for the judges, calling Ore an Ace in the pack and saying that that was a really fun jazzy take on the Viennese Waltz, straight out of Ocean’s Eleven. I know! If only there were ballroom dances appropriate for a jazz aged theme we’d see routines like that more often… Craig’s next, and less keen, as he thought Ore’s topline in the fleckerl was poor and that he got too skippy at the end of the routine. But he loved the jumps and the showmanship.
Darcey’s next, and tells Ore that he’s got the longest fleckerl that she’s ever seen on Strictly (ooh err missus) and that he should ignore Craig, because no-one else on the show could have held their top line so well throughout. Len closes Joanne for working in an old dancer’s trick into the choreography – “the longer you do something, the more people start clapping”. Odd, because it seems to be working the opposite for Len…
Over to Claud 9 they go, where Claudia says she counted 12 rounds of that fleckerl and asks how Ore managed that without collapsing. Ore admits that he did chuck up a few times in the week, and I find myself cursing the VT editing yet again. I guarantee if they’d showed him actually vomitting on Joanne I would have voted for him even if he came out and did Vorderumba 2. Scores are in
Louise Redknapp & Kevin Clifton dancing the paso doble
Very smiley this week aren’t they? Tess tells us that over the last few weeks, Louise has really come out of her shell and shown her personality for the first time. The personality is “Avon calling”. At any rate, Tess hopes that Louise comes even further out of her SHELL this week as she’s at the SEASIDE.
Well in her VT, Louise is back in a baggy pale blue jumper so loose
I briefly think Kevin might actually be visiting her in hospital pre-surgery, so that’s one step back in terms of being vibrant and upbeat. She tells him that if someone told her at the beginning of Strictly that she’d make it to Week 8 and be doing routines like the Big Spender number she would have called them a liar, and she can’t quite believe she’s made it all the way to Blackpool.
Training now, as as you might expect Paso Week is going to be peak
I’M SO NICE AND LOVELY AND SWEET I CAN’T from Louise’s corner. Kevin asks her if she’s excited about going to Blackpool and she tells him like bollocks she is, this show sent her to Paris and she’s supposed to be excited about flipping Blackp…I mean yes she’d love to go Kevin super duper! She’ll just pack an overnight bag and be right with you! As with most of the other pros, “Kevin” has organised a “special Blackpool treat” for Louise – in this case it’s that she gets to make her own stick of rock with anything she likes written through it. Louise chooses “L & K – Blackpool” because she is just that boring. At the making of the rock she gets to squeeze the mould herself.
It looks like a guinea pig having a seizure. As for the finished product
well it’s the thought that counts isn’t it?
TO THE ARENA!
So this is absolutely it. You can keep Strictly going for 14 more series, as far as I’m concerned you won’t get a more melodramatic paso than this. Even soundtracked by the same twiddly faux-classical music that Emma Bunton had for her paso, which sounds like it’s been composed solely to soundtrack car adverts, this is crazy bonkers. Cathedrals and thrones and lashings of make-up and crow feathers and burning braziers and Game Of Thrones nonsense and Louise starting the whole thing off in a massive gothic dress
with poor runners stood at the side actually hand-wafting the thing for drama. It’s so ridiculous and silly and Blackpool paso that I love it and
actually for the most part I think Louise is acting it fairly well. I doubt rampaging snarling bitch queen was ever going to be in her wheelhouse, but I’ve felt more from her here and in her Argentine Tango than I have in most of her dances. And of course
Kevin getting to unleash his full Goth Kevin side isn’t exactly hurting either. Everyone present is working everything to its maximum the whole time they’re out there, whether it’s raw paso technique or
doing flamenco under the light of the stained glass or
grabbing one another by the face and snarling or even
just flashing your knickers, swishing your skirt and going “woo woo!” I know I’m more of a Louise booster than most of the people reading this (by which I mean she’s my 3rd or 4th favourite of the 6 celebs remaining after this week’s episodes are done what a stan I am) but I think the Lord every day she was cast in this series of Strictly rather than, say, Series 4, because the theming and gimmickry is doing wonders for her. Imagine Louise in a series where she was playing it straight every week, it’d be…well it’d be Emma Bunton. Actually that’s unfair, Louise is a much better dancer than old Bunto.
AND SHE CASTS THEE OUT.
No really I love Louise’s snarl though
it looks like she’s got a bit of fishing line snagged in there. Jamie in the audience meanwhile…
baffled. Utterly baffled. They wander over to Tess, who is undermining her from the off by baby-facing that she “STIW SAW WIDDLE WOOWEES’S SMIWEE FACE COMING FWOOO DARE”. Nob off Tess. Craig starts for the judges by saying that Kevin always does brilliant pasos and that was no exception. Erm, do you want to rewind to last year when he was jumping and down on a giant kitchen table to Alice Cooper and farting around with a light-up magic wand? He profoundly does not. Anyway, Craig reels off everything he liked about it and closes by proclaiming it to be “full of gorge”. Oh no Craig she was wearing knickers, we saw them, no gorge in sight. Darcey’s next, saying that it was all very dramatic and strong, and that it took a lot of guts from Louise to do that entrance. It was literally just walking down stairs Darce. Although actually seeing the hash Darcey herself makes of it very week…
Len’s next, saying that pasos in Blackpool always deliver
and that he was blown away by that just like he was blown away on the seafront this morning. Poor Mrs Len. Bruno closes by getting very excited, as you might expect
and all but mounting Len. Tick tock to that wrap party hook-up guys, tick tock tick tock. Len was already giving him a naked massage for Children In Need, it’s going to happen.
Over to Claud 9 now, where we revisit the fact that Louise is apparently too nice to paso. Louise grins that Kevin had to constantly tell her to stop smiling in training, and then Claudia says that yes, Kevin can be quite strict. What is it with Claudia needing all the male pros to be strict this year? Kevin is not strict, Pasha is not strict, flipping Aljaz is not strict. Scores are in
38. The audience go beyond booing those 9s and leap straight into HOWLING about them by the way. Natalie is OUTRAGED as well.
Danny Mac & Oti Mabuse dancing the Charleston
She knows they’re saving all their 10s for her. She knows it. Tess introduces Danny by saying that this week he will be playing the role of a waiter in his dance, and quite possibly will be TOP OF THE TABLE when it’s all over. Oti’s full body
revulsion at this pun is beautiful. It’s like that rare medical condition where every bone in your body slowly turns to stone.
VT time, and it opens with Danny telling us that his Argentine Tango last week went brilliantly. Gosh, thanks for the update Humblor. He tells Oti that it was the most connected and focused they’ve ever been as a couple in the competition, like they’re really combined now on a deeper spiritual level than ever before. Oti says “I agree” like someone who has given this no thought before and never will again. Personal connection, personal schmonnection WHERE’S HER TROPHY? Oti and Danny then celebrate getting to Blackpool. Said celebration chiefly seems to involve her punching him in his leg over and over again.
Training now, and Danny tells us that this week his Charleston has a “really cool theme”. He’s going to play the head waiter in a restaurant. Yes Danny, but are there LOCKERS, that’s what’ll really push it over the edge. Anyway, to prepare, Oti has asked Danny to dress up as a waiter and meet her at a restaurant.
So odd to see a male Strictly contestant filming themselves with clothes on these days isnt it? (Dan Lobb it is now apparently. DAN LOBB. WHO’S HUNTING FOR THAT?). Anyway, it turns out the restaurant is a humble fish and chip restaurant ho ho ho. Danny at some point sneaks in a “so this is what REAL WORK feels like” reference as he dishes out his battered sausage to let us all know that he’s definitely still got love for the streets and understands all our very real lives at gome. GET ON WITH IT!
TO THE SAVOY!
So many comedy VTs used to tenuously prepare someone for their dances. So few dances used to tenuously prepare someone for their future career. Oh and just in case you were wondering
no Oti Mabuse ain’t playing no fricking waitress. Danny is dancing here to “Puttin On The Ritz” and it says something about the British gymnastics team that their Olympic medal-hopeful tonight pulled off a less exciting and impressive
one handed cartwheel than the Hollyoaks cast-off hunk. I know Oti didn’t necessarily choreograph that in herself, but it’s a pleasing image to think of her sneaking an illicit peek at training footage of AJ’s routine for Cloudia and thinking “I’ll show you little boy” isn’t it? From there it’s just very accomplished dancing from him and Oti all the way through, really taking advantage of the sprung floor at Blackpool to keep Danny feeling light and bouncy throughout. Well that and the
tables, which he takes liberal advantage of. It’s not necessarily the tightest routine we’ve had so far – he and Oti go a little incongruous with one another a couple of times
(Exhibit A) and he sometimes looks a little bit slippy on his feet – but in terms of standard setting performances Danny is getting increasingly difficult to beat. Whether that’s what people want from their Strictly champion having already just had two DIRTY RINGAH champions in a row is hard to say, but he’s certainly making his case for his corner of the voting spectrum here. I’m particularly fond of
this lift, and not just because it makes Oti look like the queen she is.
(I also love that one spare anonypro totally popping her booty at the side there, you go girl, twerk it like a champ, maybe you can show us all how to do the lambada on It Takes Two next year). Strictly Kingmaker Carley Stenson?
Radiant. This is her time. She can feel it. Her mantlepiece. It is ready. Darcey starts for the judges, and she was a big fan of the synchronised single handed cartwheels as well. Understandably so. She tells Danny that he’ll definitely hold on to his place at the top of the leaderboard after that routine. Way to ruin the surprise Darcey. Oh and it’s getting increasingly hard for her to tell when she watches Danny’s routines who she’s seeing who isn’t a professional dancer. I think it’s The Man In The Hat isn’t it? Even in his shadowy corner. Meanwhile in the audience
Carley is going full dance mom gremlin I love it. Len’s next and says it was Choreography Overload and there were so many moments where Danny could have lost it totally and didn’t, and that’s what he loves about dancing, that feeling of being right on the edge of disaster but always avoiding it. That and CHAMIN AHT and GIVIN IT SAHM and so on.
Bruno follows and he tells Danny that that was like watching a Broadway show with virtuoso dancing, and he liked it because it wasn’t too slapsticky considering it was a Charleston. I can’t believe Bruno has a slapstick limit. This is like when he got extravagantly outraged over Katie Derham disrespecting Puccini, stop pretending you’re educated refined fish Bruno, we’re not buying it. Craig closes with his first “FAB-YOO-LUSS” of the series.
Over to Claud 9 they go, where Claudia pretends there’s any jeopardy with Danny, saying that she knows that he sometimes finds the dances scary and goes blank and asking him if he thought that was going to go horribly wrong. Danny’s all “yes yes me nehrves, they’re terrible” and you can see Kevin actively going
“oh aye mate” in the background. Scores are in
40. God bless Ore getting right in the middle of that celebration there.
Ed Balls & Katya Jones dancing the jive
Even in a situation where, if I’d had my druthers, Ed would have left a few weeks ago, I have to admit his continued presence is almost worth it for that delicious “keyboard tie & keyboard dress” combo these two are working. Just beautifully naff. Tess tells us that Ed will enter suspended on wires playing the piano. Yes we know, you’ve been telling us all since about halfway through last week’s performance show. One day something on this show will be untelegraphed again. Speaking of which
here’s Claudia with her Surreal Prop Interlude.
VT time and Ed and Katya are discussing Gangnam Style, which Ed declares to have been “totally epic”
Sometimes I forget that, even with Bruce gone, this show still operates in a cultural space located about 5 years ago where people dancing badly to Gangnam Style and posh middle-aged men ironically referring to things as “epic” is still fresh. Otherwise known as BBC 1.
Training now, and Katya tells us that Ed has the jive this week, which is a very fast and bouncy and difficult dance, so she’s going to have to pull out every trick in the book to make Ed look good. So she’s going to have him start the routine by playing the piano, which he can already do. But WAIT! SHE’S HAD ANOTHER IDEA! Why not combine Ed’s piano abilities with dance training and
haul this old thing out of mothballs. I can’t believe they didn’t use this opportunity as a chance to crosspromote with Jay being in Big : The Musical. This is like when The Voice last series actually went backstage at Kinky Boots and didn’t even mention that one of their old finalists was the star. They don’t help themselves sometimes. What a wasted chance. In Series 7 we had all the past champions (except Kerplunk, because she’s crap) come back and do a group showdance, showing their elite dancing prowess across both ballroom and latin. This year we could have the reigning and future champion jumping up and down on a toy piano. It’d show how far we’ve come.
Anyway, Ed jumps and down on da piano, Katya
pulls a face, let’s get this gig up in the air shall we?
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
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Ed Balls descending playing the piano is one of those things that probably sounded a cracking wheeze, but the reality of it turns out to be a platform being very slowly lowered to ground, with the cameramen really struggling to find a shot where you can tell that he’s really flying, just because the platform’s so huge it wrecks your perspective. This
is probably the best they do with it but fortunately someone backstage has had the bright idea to enliven the whole thing by
setting it all on fire. After the series this has been this feels like an increasingly good idea. LET IT ALL BURN! Ed is of course jiving to “Great Balls Of Fire” and it’s baaaaaaaaasically, once he gets off the piano, 90 seconds of unreconstructed
dad dancing, on the spot. Not that I was expecting Ed & Katya to make full use of the Blackpool floor, but I guess this is what you get when you park a bunch of podiums and stuff in the middle of everything. Please have mercy on those of us who don’t find this instinctually funny, trying to find anything say about a minute and a half of random hoofing, every week, with varying costumes. This week
Terry Wogan apparently. (There was one nice kick section, towards the end, don’t spread it about too widely)
Other than Louise, it gets the loudest reaction of the night still, so we can all see where this is heading. Get your coal shovels ready, it’s been a while, but it’s time to get the fires roaring on the John Sergeant Memorial Panic 2016! Len starts for the judges, saying that Ed must be improving, because last week he was 8th, whereas the worst he can do this week is 7th. And the best, I suspect. Bruno follows by saying that even before that routine started he’d already booked a shrink, a chiropractor, and a trip to a retreat in the Himalayas. Oh is he sorting out Louise’s VT for next week? Anyway, Bruno says that routine was a pleasant surprise, because most of it looked like a jive. What a low bar we’ve sat ourselves.
Craig’s next, and he tells Ed that he looked like someone playing hopscotch in a girls’ school. Yes that’s where we are now with Craig’s Wicked Witticisms. “You dance like a girl”. Darcey closes by saying that she spent most of that routine really waiting for the energy to kick in, but she started to feel it by the end. She does think that he could have had more retraction in his kicks. Bless Darcey still trying to critique him technically. Nobody cares love.
Over to Claud 9 they slide, where Claudia reveals that off his own back Ed took a trip to the Winter Gardens this week to watch whatever championships are going on there currently. Ed speechifies about how the pro dancers he saw there were a true inspiration, so on point and technically perfect, and really motivated him to keep on trying to get better. Joanne’s face pure reads
“I’m a world fucking champion mate and I’ve been sat in front of you the whole time. Ask me for a demo, I DARE you”. Scores are in
Greg Rutherford & Natalie Lowe dancing the quickstep
Say what you will about these two, they’re going out tan. Tess tells us that Greg’s really proud to have made it to Blackpool, but 250 miles from London is nothing compared to how far he’s come as a dancer. Jeez, are Tess’s intros being provided entirely by inspirational Facebook quotes now? Next week is it going to be revealed he walked along Blackpool beach with Natalie but lo when he looked back there were only one set of footprints in the sand, as their spirits were as one (/she was giving him a piggyback ride wheeeeeeeee)
VT time now and Greg talks about how he so wanted his paso doble to go right because he put so much effort into it but he found himself making mistakes on the live show that hadn’t happened in training. Those trousers for one. I do find it interesting watching someone come from such a simple athletic discipline (you run, you jump) having to deal with something as multifaceted as dancing. Anyway, he was in the dance-off, gave it his all, felt bad about knocking Daisy out when she was such a sweetheart and trying so hard, you know how these post Bottom 2 VTs go now.
Training now and immediately there’s a problem for Natalie. It’s just too big and powerful and she can’t take it. Yes I’m talking about Greg’s running jump in his quickstep. Hem. Every time they go to do the big leap, Greg takes it too far and leaves Natalie dragging behind him. Who would have thought that Natalie Lowe would finally meet her match this series with a mediocre SPORTSMAN? Anyway, where better to help Natalie get up to speed than with a training space where there’s notoriously lots of room for running and jumping about
A Virgin Pendolino! More dedicated Natalie fans will know that she met her husband on a train, so I’m guessing this VT goes out to all those people who detect seering sexual tension herein. Anyway, she and Greg run off from their seats and practice their dance in the shop carriage, and Natalie says she’s so overwhelmed and surprised by the number of people who turned up to watch them. First of all Natalie, they wanted a Ginsters and you were in the way. Second of all based on the lighting
I can see a couple of reasons why people might have turned up to gawp, and they’re neither of them dance related.
TO THE PROM!
Greg and Natalie are dancing here to “Born To Handjive”, as we get yet another routine that could easily have taken place in Musicals Week or Movie Week but which instead chose to roam freely around the supposedly non themed weeks. And appropriately enough, Natalie has set Greg his toughest acting challenge yet here – playing a jock who’s alternately cocksure and overwhelmed. It…doesn’t really come off, with Greg mostly just looking confused, but hey, it’s an effort to do something other than just stand there looking manly and brooding as she writhes about smearing ectoplasm all over his furniture, so I appreciate the effort. Oddly enough, the part he looks most at sea during is the
handjive itself, which is done sitting down on a bench. He looks so lost bless him. The actual quickstep itself is very fast and springy indeed and a lot of fun, although a little too springy in places as it looks a bit like it’s all being done on a trampolene. Also at one point he’s not just skippy but actually skipping which I’m sure isn’t the done thing. Oh and
the running jete is a bit of a mess. But all of this is forgivable just for the sheer silliness of the thing, and the fact that of all Natalie’s partners, it’s Greg who can finally give her what she wants. The opportunity to do her infamous running splits for
the entire length of the Blackpool floor, her enormous head cackling as it steams right for us, inviting us to instinctively dive out the way like those early cinema goers who saw footage of a train for the first time. What a moment.
Now someone get a medic for that poor guy who apparently got trapped underneath her wheels.
Greg takes them over to Tess, where he says that that was one of the most fun moments he’s had so far on Strictly. Bless. Bruno starts for the judges, saying the routine was SPORTY AND BOUNCY, like a SPRINGBOK ON THE RUN. We really have reached the point where it becomes obvious that Bruno has nothing left to say to any of these people isn’t it? Regardless he liked how cheesy and fun it was after the last few weeks or so of brooding Matalan catalogue faces from Greg. Craig’s next, saying there was too much power, it was too bouncy, and that Greg went off on the wrong foot in the jete. Natalie is
not having this last one in particular. Bless her, at that point she was probably too busy covertly lubing up her labia for the big floor slide she wouldn’t have knows what Greg was doing.
Darcey’s next, and she says that she really admires how well Greg travelled, but she felt like his natural inbuilt spring combined with the sprung floor and made things get a little bit out of control in places. Len closes by saying that he thought Greg showed admirable control in keeping his frame together, but he thinks it’s queer that as a long jumper the only part he really messed up was the long jump towards the end. Well he did get SHAMEFUL BRONZE in Rio Len so… Natalie’s face
is still not having that he messed that jump up by the way. Not having it.
Over to Claud 9 they jive, where Claudia reveals that ever since Natalie’s been paired up with Greg she’s constantly been muttering “I need to do the quickstep with that man” under her breath. Sounds plausible. Natalie tells Greg that he was super amazing and so good until yet again the scores are in before he gets a chance to talk. Poor chap.
Judge Rinder & Oksana Platero dancing the salsa
I love that the one celeb who spent all of the pre-season saying that Blackpool is silly and everyone who spends their whole time on Strictly begging to get there is silly and that he can’t understand the fuss gets the pimp slot there dressed as a saucy parrot dancing a profoundly silly routine to the Spice Girls. Tess tries to get the crowd goosed up and yelling for this big party dance of a show closer, and frankly neither Mrs Ore nor Mr Louise give a decent response so they’re both going on the list. This is worse than when Janet Ellis refused to clap for anyone other than her Sophie.
VT time now and
I swear I just find everything about these two funny now. Oksana’s “smile” here had me laughing for at least as long as Ore’s fleckerl lasted for a start. She doesn’t speak for this entire segment either, so I’m choosing to believe that her voice settings are borked and everything she says comes out sounding like John Wayne. Anyway, Rinder loved the foxtrot, and it was everything he thought ballroom dancing would be, and he’s so glad that he got to do it in front of his grandparents. Even if his grandma did say “was that it, didn’t look like a foxtrot to me, where’s that nice Greg Rutherford, he’s won an Olympic medal you know, he doesn’t need to slum it on ITV, we never even have that on in our house you know that, why can’t you host Newsnight or something clever like that, I notice your friend Benedict just had another baby as well, when are you getting on making me a great grandma you know I’ve not got long left AND we should have been in that pro dance rather than those other old farts your granddad shot a Nazi you know, well he shot a German once, well he shoved him over in Tescos but it’s all the same thing really now where’s the ladies room what do you mean other people still have to dance I’m not pissing all over the floor like some sort of animal they might do that on ITV dear but I don’t” afterwards.
Training now, and Oksana says “congratulations on getting to Blackpool” like she’s a particularly morose automated tram announcement, and then they get on with rehersing the salsa. Rinder’s finding the lifts particularly difficult, so Oksana comes up with a “solution”.
Quite. Brilliantly Rinder calls this out as stupid and tenuous but Oksana laughs (/parts her lips then moves her teeth apart and together a few times whilst emiting a harsh barking noise) that she’s going to make him do it anyway. I love that the show is scripting in how bad and irrelevant the Comedy VTs are now. So meta. Rinder goes up and down the machine a few times, snarling and pouting the whole time whilst Oksana looks
genuinely enraptured bless her.
TO THE CARNIVALE!
So festive. Oksana and The Judge are closing our show out with a salsa to “Spice Up Your Life”, a song that this band has tried many times now and never quite got right, mostly because the singers seem to think it’s a football chant. I’m kind of in love with it from the moment that Rinder comes off his float by
botching a lift but
then styles it out brilliantly. Next time I take a tumble in the street I’m going to do the exact same thing. Probably not wearing the same outfit though. The routine itself is pretty ropey (I still think Mr Platero doesn’t give the best salsa, even with his wife as muse) but in parts it resembles what is surely the very core of the Rinder Latin experience
just a gay guy and his best Judy in the club, not flagging still at 1:30am, giving it some and shaking their bum to the Spice Girls. I guess whether you connect more to this on a non-dance level or to Ed’s own…dancing like nobody’s watching is a deeply personal thing. Still Rinder’s hips are going fifteen-to-the-dozen and his twerking is inspirational, as is probably the most Rinder Rinderface yet
as he gets Oksana up into a press-lift. If we’re closing a slightly off-kilter with anything I guess this is as good a choice as any.
Once they’re over at Tess, he gives her an extra little wiggle, to which she squeals and points “oooh LOOK AT THE BOTTOM!”. How dare you Tess, Judge Rinder is a versatile top I’m sure. Rindy then gives full notice that he has been fully converted to the Blackpool experience. I swear, if he says he’s been “Strictlified” at any point then he’s dead to me. Craig starts for the judges, saying that it was all “hiptastic” apart from the wobble coming out of the assisted somersault, and from now on he’s going to call him “Judge Grindr”
Keep it for backstage boys, none of this sick filth here thanks it’s a family show. Darcey’s next, saying that she’s never seen a man as great at shaking his cheeks as Judge Rinder is. Poor Darcey.
Len’s next, and he calls Judge Rinder “Young Spice” to his “Old Spice” and tells him that he came up with a very fragrant dance, but he thinks Judge Rinder got over-excited at points, and something queer definitely happened in that first lift. Yeah, he wishes. The audience boos Len and then Judge Rinder gets all authoritarian again and tells them to hush up because Len knows what he’s talking about. Bruno closes by telling Rinder that he was hotter than a Scotch Bonnet and that that was a great way to end the evening, even with the losses of technique throughout.
Over to Claud 9 they romp, where Claudia congratulates Judge Rinder on carrying off that lift, to which Rinder replies that honestly Oksana weighs about 40lbs it’s no big deal. Scores are in
33. Darcey really is welded to that 9 with him isn’t she?