Much like the endstages of Series 11, no more Balls.
Ed & Katya: Today marked the Strictly Funeral of Edward Michael Balls. Or at least that’s how Zoe introduced him. We didn’t hear what Katya’s middle name was, I bet it’s Boudicca or something like that. At his wake, Katya in fact admitted that she didn’t know who Ed Balls was, which means she has something in common with pretty much every Strictly pro, every series, with all their partners. Zoe also got Ed & Katya to recreate the “highlights” of his Gangnam Style routine, which were given an extra level of jeopardy by there being random bits of furniture being strewn around the floor, with nary a “please don’t try this at home”. As if Zoe hadn’t jeopardised the nation’s physical health enough with this request, she then jeopardised its collective mental health, by demanding that the producers put a request in to cast David Cameron next series. NOEP. Finally, in a act of seancery, Zoe asked Ed what the future holds for him. After some fairly typical hedging and evasion, Ed hinted that he would be doing the Tour, and heavily implied that he’s not going to go back into politics. So he’s going back into politics then.
Pro Challenge : Joanne’s turn today, and she made sure to put a Clifton spin on everything, telling us that she’s the favourite child (I feel that comes across in everything that Kevin does, it is not a surprise) and saying that as Kevin and Karen both have Guinness World Records, it’s no her turn. Unfortunately for her, she went for a burton midway through her kicking, and ended up only being able to equal Aljaz’s score, which I think we all know is going to fall at some point soon. I think my favourite part of today’s session of Joanne’s clear obliviousness to Zoe’s growing annoyance at her referring to people like Brenda and Kevin as young. My least part was when she referred to her major rivals as Giovanni, and “the young ones like AJ and them” as her prime opposition. HER NAME IS CHLOE BITCH, LEARN IT, SHE’S COMING FOR YOUR CROWN NEXT YEAR. (Or at least she’d better be)
Erin & Matthew : That’s right, THEY WERE BACK. Not for long enough in my book, but Matthew has a school to run and Erin has a 2 year old to mind. And shade, apparently, as she chuckled with Zoe about the possibility of him doing the show as a celebrity. I guess when you’re a pro with Erin’s eye, you can tell from the off whether your spawn has what it takes to be a Strictly pro. It was actually a little bit of a mini-fest of cattiness today, as Erin purred about how the show was so different when she was on it, before all these props and backing dancers, back when it was about the dancing and Matthew demurred that Danny’s samba really saw him let himself go despite it being such a difficult dance. Of course this immediately ups them both in my book for the possibility of filling Len’s chair. On a happier note, Erin told us that Colin Jackson is still firm and juicy, and Matthew surprised some people by revealing that Christine Bleakley had in fact been his favourite partner, not Alesha. This was no surprise to me though – I remember those holiday snaps in the Daily Mail Online of the two of them on holiday together inn Sitges with Mark Foster and Ian Waite. Photos that the Mail tried to spin a romance angle on. Oh The Daily Mail
Karen’s Khoreography Korner : The operation to ever so slightly undermine Danny’s samba continued tonight, as Karen very subtly dropped in that she noticed mistakes he made in the routine. BUT SUCH DEDICATION! SUCH CORTA JACAS! SUCH SHIRTLESSNESS! Karen also went deeper down the rabbit hole of trying to explain to Cloudia stans why exactly her emotional connection to AJ is holding her back from getting 10s and ended up comparing her to a wet sausage. Yeah, I’m sure that’ll go down well. Elsewhere both Oksana and Kevin received demerits from Karen for making their choreography for their partners too simple and basic, and Ore got…a frankly disturbing display of lust from her as she bubbled over at how he popped his crotch as Joanne crawled across that table. It takes all kinds.
Tunes On Tuesday : All five routines revealed tonight, as we found out that Cloudia will be doing the salsa to “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” from The Lion King (If AJ thinks he can be Mark Benton, he CAIN’T), Louise will be dressing as a cowgirl to “The Deadwood Stage” from Calamity Jane and dancing the quickstep, Danny will be doing a tango (?) to “One Night Only” from Dreamgirls (I loved Zoe saying that Diana Ross has “mixed feelings” about Dreamgirls, which, yes that’s one way of putting it yes…), Ore will be doing a foxtrot to “Pure Imagination” from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, and Rinder will be doing a samba to something from a jukebox musical so I’m not acknowledging it.
The Pro Challenge : Oksana up to bat today, and to be honest I stopped paying full attention as soon as Zoe told us that she is the proud owner of a parrot called Maputo. What a woman. What an image. Oksana’s major tactic for the Pro Challenge was not breathing for 30 seconds, and it appeared to work, as she ended up with 54 kicks to her name, seizing control of the top of the leaderboard. Zoe tried to spook her by implying that some of them might end up being disqualified, but Oksana was, in her own words “pretty confident with her quality”. And rightfully so.
Cha Cha Chart Show : Yes this filler again. This time counting down the best judging moments. 5 was Craig entering the studio at Blackpool riding a flaming guitar, 4 was Darcey twerking one time, 3 was Widdy leaving Craig speechless with her crap salsa, 2 was Bruno repeatedly falling off his chair, and 1 was a combination of Gavin snogging Bruno, Mark Wright pecking at Craig’s face, and Patsy flinging her husband detectors at Len with abandon. No “Fanny Club”, no “THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF BULLSHIT!”, no “I JUST WANT RAW SEX!”, no Arlene calling Alesha her heroine and then trying to start a mass standing ovation and failing horribly, no Alesha asking Nancy if that woz supposed to be funny, no “DESIGNER GEAR DESIGNER GEAR”, no…in fact all of the judging from Nancy’s salsa that should have been on there, no “HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY CRAIG!!!”, no Bruno just giving up and yelling “WOSS THE BLAHDDY POINT?” at some hapless comedy dancer, no Julian calling Craig “that one on the end” and “silly old queen”, no Craig calling Patsy Palmer a scrubber in a Puffa jacket and her threatening to sue, no Carol Vorderman drunk-dialling It Takes Two to call Arlene a dried up old cun…I mean I could go on, where is this show’s history even at any more?
Judge Rinder & Oksana : A post mortem on the Rindyrumba dominated the show today, with Judge Rinder saying that he enjoyed it a lot, and he didn’t mind the judges comments on it, just as he doesn’t mind any of the judges comments as long as they are delivered with authenticity and honesty. So he minds all of them then. Also Oksana talked about how she got emotional on the evening because she could feel something really unpleasant and saddening approaching, and not just the Cha Cha Challenge. She does so wish we could see the improvement Judge Rinder made in rehearsals over the week. What does she think this is Series 3? We had irrelevant old drama teachers to meet! Rinder also received support from his old allies Greg and Laura via the medium of rehashed tweets, although you could tell he was hoping for plaudits from people slightly higher up the food chain of fame. Where are you now Benedict, when he needs you most? Their dance this week is the samba, which is Oksana’s favourite dance. Hang on…wasn’t it salsa two weeks ago? I guess we all say things just to keep our husbands happy…
Waite’s Wednesday Warm-Up : BUT FIRST Ian would like you know that Cloudia was very undermarked for her Argentine Tango and deserved a 10. Cleave to him Cloudia fans cleave to him. Wouldn’t he make for a much better Head Judge than that Karen Hardy? And she looks so CUTE in her salsa training and is DEFINITELY now engaging with AJ. Yes, that’ll work. Elsewhere, Louise’s quickstep at this point mostly looks like Kevin farting about pretending to a cowboy, Ore is getting CBMP (whatever that is again) and Ian seems dubious of Danny’s chances of getting a third 40 in a row with his upcoming tango, as he’s not bending over enough for Ian’s liking. Say no more. Fortunately for everyone, Judge Rinder’s samba looks as ropey technically as you’d expect it to, so nobody needs to worry much.
Strictly Selfies : No
The Pro Challenge : Chloe’s turn tonight, taking kicks and flicks TO A WHOLE NOTHER LEVEL. As ever with Chloe there were more quotable moments than I can shake a stick at, ranging from her delight at remembering that AJ had hysterical vomiting on the day and couldn’t compete to her yelling “IT’S LIKE A BRAINTEASER!” immediately after finishing standing on the spot for 30 seconds and kicking via her talking about “my competitive animal that’s in me”. Is it a
panda by any chance? Anyway Chloe got a load of kicks disqualified and is now dead last and will probably remain there but she is still very much my favourite.
Zoe’s Dance Card : Remember this? Tonight’s lesson in dance was in the tango and provided by Ian, and so was mostly an excuse for them to reminisce about her most memorable routine from Series 3, and by “reminisce” I mean mostly that they cantered around debating good naturedly over whether Zoe still has it and how Ian particularly liked the bit where he murdered her at the end. I feel like all this is leading to one of those episodes where the whole episode is a two-hander with just the two of them talking, like that time on Eastenders when Dot euthanised Ethel. The chief lesson of this session really was that the tango comes from Argentina. Which is a little confusing let’s be honest. (Oh also it reminded me that Kellie and Kevin are one of only two couples to get a perfect score for a tango which is still Just. Stupid)
Louise & Kevin : Still I came into this interview with a positive frame of mind, despite that, and find that the bond between these two is actually growing stronger, even if it is via Kevin teasing Louise over just how much she hates his thigh-slapping cowgirl quickstep choreography and threatening to get his chest out like Danny did if it means Louise gets to top the leaderboard. I…can’t really see that swaying any of the judges except Len, although maybe that’s why hKevin’s been growing his chest hair in this year? One last display of unbridled Northern masculinity for Len before he goes. Otherwise the discussion revolved around how mortified Jamie Redknapp was to be seen dancing on camera (very), Kevin good-naturedly highlighting the fact that yes he knows Louise spends a lot of time looking down at the floor and he’s working on it ok?, and how Louise shoulders shrugging in her waltz really was a stylistic choice. Honest. Louise herself, of course, remains relentlessly unambitious and uncompetitive.
(Chris was out this evening, so this is Steve filling in again. Apparently I’m still allowed on here, but not to do Fridays because of the risk of the entire post being a 7000 word Gorkin fanfic, which is fair enough really.)
Let’s Get Fucked With Vicky Gill : Ore’s Willy Wonka trousers are currently green but they may be purple on the night.
The Pro Challenge : Pasha’s turn tonight, wearing jeans so tight that it was almost like 3DTV was back in fashion. Zoe made a big deal of the fact that Pasha has competed four times and never won, and in response Pasha failed spectacularly at doing spontaneous self-aggrandising banter. I guess if you’re bad at acting, you’re probably not going to be great at improv either. Pasha completed the challenge with a typically sunny grin plastered across his face the whole time. He ended up with the highest number of completed kicks and flicks so far this year (61) but due to sloppy technique he also had the highest number of disqualifications (10), leaving him in fourth place overall. Pasha’s take on the whole thing is that he normally aims for quality rather than speed. Lucky Rachel.
Global Glitterballs : Over to Germany with Oti this week for a look at Let’s Dance, where she’s still on the roster of pros during the Strictly off-season and where her sister Motsi is one of the judges, so this was basically a chance for a small family reunion. Let’s Dance looks like it embraces all of the worst excesses of Dancing With The Stars (contemporary as a competitive dance, duels, theme weeks every sodding week, every dance being a liftathon) as well as something peculiar called the Discofox Marathon, which Oti made very clear that she won the year she was partnered with Daniel Küblböck. Apparently Oti is the Karen Hardy of German Strictly. Also one of their comedy contestants was so bad that he spent one dance sitting on his arse eating a hot dog while his partner danced with one of the other pros – and he still didn’t get eliminated that week. Also Oti would like us to consider Motsi for the vacant spot on the judging panel thank you pls.
Danny & Oti : First of all Danny wants to make it clear that yes, he did say he was never going to get his tits out on the show, but that the samba was different because everyone agreed it was artistically justified. Sure hon. Apparently he was averaging a 12-hour day of training last week and it was mostly Oti physically shoving his hips into place with her bare hands. This week they’re doing a tango to ‘One Night Only’ from Dreamgirls, and Oti is clearly not impressed with the idea of having to produce a disco tango, but nonetheless she’s pretty sure she can turn it around. (Also Zoe asked Danny which Dreamgirl he would be, and the answer is clearly Anika Noni Rose.) Then Oti and Danny played a quick round of Mr & Mrs where it turned out that Oti actually knows everything about Danny including the full name (yes, the FULL name) of the character he played on Hollyoaks. Danny’s knowledge of Oti-related trivia was sadly not tested, but maybe they’re saving that for Final Week.
Gethin’s Homoerotic Backstage Adventures : I am sad to report that Gorka’s post-Blackpool quietness has left Gethin quite bereft, and he’s
stopped shaving. I worry for him, I really do. A limited range of interviews from Gethin today, as he only really spoke to our Ringahs Supreme, Danny and Louise. And as the latter is now actively treating every opportunity as an opportunity to pull faces that look like she’s passing kidney stones rather than admitting she’s in a competition at all, let alone one she’d like to win, there was nothing much doing there. He also met the Props Department (two of them at least) and I have to give them props (lol) for appearing on camera without pixelated faces or fragmented voices like Gerry Adams used to get in the 80s. Finally we got an absolute cavalcade of spoilers for the Christmas Special, which I think is the most I’ve ever said “WHAT?” in such a short space of time in my life. Ainsley and Karen are going to be doing a dance based around the movie Home Alone. Dr Hammy and Pasha are going to be doing a cha cha based around LOVE ACTUALLY. Gethin and Chloe are being that creepy Christmas train movie where everyone has Tom Hanks’ face. It all sounds a total mess, I can’t wait.
Ore & Joanne : A revelation indeed from today’s intervew – Ore applied his own eyeliner for the paso doble last week. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that there are serious cutbacks backstage. Especially before Musicals Week. Cloudia has many skills but I’m not sure face-painting AJ as a lion is one of them. Otherwise today saw the ongoing storyline of “Ore isn’t calling his mum enough” get another airing, as well as ever encroaching influence from Bonus Cliftons, as Joanne’s parents are now apparently pulling the strings on this pairing from behind the scenes. Possibly so that their favourite girl child can beat their less favoured boy child who can say? Their dance this week is the foxtrot, which they are performing in tribute to Gene Wilder. I cannot tell you how happy I am that they aren’t basing the routine off the Johnny Depp version. But it’s a lot. Apparently Willy Wonka was an iconic (*drink*) figure in Ore’s childhood and he and Joanne are hoping that this week’s routine will be the one to get him that “elusive” 10 from Craig. We’ll see. (Also Zoe shaded Natalie Lowe by implying her tan colour of choice is that of an Oompa Loompa. FOR SHAME!)
Pro Dance Rehearsals : This week’s main pro dance is West Side Story, and is being told as a triptych. Firstly we’re having the Jets vs Sharks dance-fight, then we’re having Aljaz and Janette as Tony and Maria, then finally we’re getting America with Karen as Anita. No word on whether Anton will be putting in a cameo as Officer Krupke.
Brenda’s enjoying himself at least.
The Friday Panel : I’m still recovering from the horror of Alexander Armstrong singing “Fields Of Gold” in a cod Gilbert & Sullivan light opera voice. However many albums that man has released now, truly it is too many. Do people want to shag him *that* much? Other panel members were Jenny Eclair (Daisy will be sorry to have missed her) (yes, “Daisy loves Jenny Eclair” was a thing) and Sheree Murphy, who seemed to be there chiefly to act as Louise’s best mate cause they went to school together. Mostly opinions were as they usually are at this point – everyone’s great, anyone could win, honestly they’re all great we’re totally ignoring the fact that Rinder’s average score is a clear four points lower than the rest of the field tum ti tum. Otherwise the legend of Cloudia’s Argentine Tango inflated ever further, as Xander declared her to be a better dancer than the female pros (?!) and everyone agreed yet again that she will get at least one 10 this weekend or they will riot. In terms of predictions the entire panel predicted Rinder would go home (Xander prevaricated but you could definitely tell) and stated a preference for a Louise win. Incidentally it became clear during this section that Zoe has not seen a single musical being acted out this week. Not a one. MUSICALS WEEK!
Chloe Goes Gangsta : This week It Takes Two saw a gap left in the market by the departure of Honey G from X Factor, and sent Chloe out to learn breakdancing. But how could she, a sweet innocent “English Country Girl” learn such a hardcore urban dance style?
Not very well. In fairness, she was ok standing up, it was just when called on to get down on the floor that things went askew. Still she got an official “B-Girl” name out of it. “Chlo Lo”. I know.
A Cute Child Sings: In this case, a song from Matilda : The Musical.
Cloudia & AJ Please lord let this
be the apex of Cloudia and AJ having to behave like actual children it’s starting to get a little creepy now. HE’S 22 (BRENDAN). Otherwise a lot of talk of lifts, as they segued from discussion of their lift heavy Argentine Tango (which, guess what? Apparently it deserved 10s!) to what’s looking like it might be an even lift-heavier salsa. Rest assured, AJ has not dropped her once yet. Honest. Cloudia also talked a bit about having to improve her acting, especially as she comes from a non-entertainment field of celebrity. She told us that she is asking AJ for a lot of tips in this area. I think this is…probably not the best idea. To be honest.
Strictly Ballroom The Musical : This segment was basically 5 minutes of free advertising for a new stage musical version of Strictly Ballroom, which normally obvious I would be against, but in this case I am all in favour of because it featured the long-awaited return of
COCKPHONE, this blog’s own personal favourite So You Think You Can Dance Series 1 contestant. And, y’know, it was a competitive field. Also, I’ll be honest
the male lead isn’t unappealing. Nice casting Cockphone.