Wouldn’t you agree Oksana?
Backstage Gossip : Apparently Joanne thinks that we might not have been aware before Saturday’s show of what Anton’s singing voice sounded like. If only love, if only.
Rinder & Oksana : Zoe struck gold tonight, as Oksana surpassed Natalie’s record for It Takes Two tears (now there’s a Pro Challenge with drama), clearly having started weeping in the taxi on the way to the studio, and at no point being in any mood to stop. Really this was one of those lovely final segments for a couple which was 50% sincere talk of how dance has changed the contestant’s life forever, and 50% naked pitch for the pro to get their contract renewed next year, as Rinder told Zoe what a great teacher Oksana is over and over and over again. Otherwise we learnt that in return for teaching him how to dance Judge Rinder has started to teach Oksana piano (please show eight short clips of this instead of “dance training” this weekend producers hugs and kisses Monkseal) and also that “Oh! What A Night!” is the favourite song of a good friend of Judge Rinder who died recently and he was performing in her honour. At this point Evil Moira Ross In A Rainbow Wig fired three researchers for this not being milked into the ground in his VT WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? YOU SHOWED THE CURRENT CAST OF JERSEY BOYS INSTEAD?! NONE OF THEM ARE EVEN FAMOUS!
Cha Cha Chart Show : No complaints about this segment this time, which this week was a journey through the greatest mid-show accidents in Strictly history, as it showed both Kara tumbling down on her arse in her cha cha and Ian slipping on a fan in Zoe’s showdance, both of which are the best ones, and also Mark’s mic cord getting tangled, which is a PIVOTAL moment in Strictly history. Well done researchers. It also featured Caroline slipping on her dress in the American Smooth which was a valid entry but just left me annoyed that the producers didn’t pick that routine for her to repeat and improve in the final and instead opted for her WEEK ONE CHA CHA WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT. Oh and Robin skidding on his way up the stairs took up a slot to Claud 9 one time but it can’t all be gold can it?
Darcey Bussell : Yes Darcey twice in one series and Craig God only knows how many times but never Bruno? It’s a CRYING SHAME. I saw him shilling his new Italian album on BBC Breakfast the other day and he gave no indication that he even remembered Naga (WHO WAS INTERVIEWING HIM) was on the show this year it was great. Anyway Darcey told us that she did no rehearsal for the opening routine on Saturday because she didn’t exactly have to do an awful lot, she wishes Rinder was still in the competition (you and me both love), and that the four remaining celebrities are the exact same four she expected to be here at this point. Woo the excitement. Also she wishes that she’d given Danny’s quickstep a 9 and she wants to see Boris Johnson do the show next year so that’s today’s recap done whilst I go and vomit byeeeeee.
The Pro Challenge : Today’s Pro Challenge segment focused around Janette, and therefore chiefly a rivalry between her and her fiance Aljaz as to who could do the most kicks and flicks in the space of 30 seconds. It’s odd the sort of thing that couples fight over isn’t it? Apparently Aljaz has been proper rubbing it in since he won whatever the Pro Challenge was two years ago in partnership with Karen so this was Janette’s chance for revenge. And she got it, as she flew to the top of the table to equal Oksana. It’s hard to take these rounds seriously with Kevin’s florid face flapping around in the intro clip, clearly doing about 70 kicks a seconds, but I guess this can be the calm before the storm.
Karen’s Khoreography Korner : Today’s Khoreography Korner saw Karen in brooding mood, as she came for all and sundry, albeit with a fairly transparent soft spot for Ore. The rest? Danny’s tango was a quickstep, Cloudia’s salsa shouldn’t have got a 10, and Louise got swallowed up by Musicals Week. Say what you will about Karen Hardy these days, but at least she transparently loathes Musicals Week as much as the rest of us do. Still whatever her theme week related woes, she still found time to get up and show us all how to pop our pussies correctly in the salsa (or whatever that move is called). Zoe, for health and safety reasons,
retreated to a safe distance after the first few spasms.
Tunes On Tuesday : An X Factor (VOTE SAARA) crossover to start Tunes On Tuesday, as it was revealed that Cloudia will be performing a rumba to “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis, the song that was earmarked for Tiny Tina’s rumba afore the pox took her. Louise meanwhile will be doing her tango to “Glad All Over” because apparently one PTSD flashback to Kellie’s mod tango per series apparently wasn’t enough. And with it went my hopes of any more decent tangos before the end of the series. Danny will be doing his salsa to something that sounds like a Eurovision 13th placer but is apparently proper orfentic and stuff coz it’s sung by a Latin. Finally Ore is doing his Argentine Tango to “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” by Kylie Minogue, because apparently it’s not enough to hammer the last nail into the coffin, we know have to weld it shut.
Jason Gilkison : I’m sure Jason is a lovely man, and if nothing else he brought Iveta to Strictly so he is forever in my credit, no matter how many pro dances themed around video walls and bad contemporary he’s responsible for, but Lord have mercy I did not need a third interview this series with him where he says things like “I did a West Side Story themed routine because I really like West Side Story” and gets asked questions about what his “process” is. We did learn that his favourite dance is the rumba, so that’s something I guess.
Ore & Joanne : To be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve listened to much that’s come out of these two in interview. You drift in and it’s all “WILLY WONKA IS ICONIC I WAS GLAD TO BE SO ICONIC” and “WE’RE AT THE STAGE WHERE THE JUDGES ARE LOOKING FOR ANY NITPICKING EXCUSE NOT TO GIVE A 10 IT’S SO HARD” (a nitpicking excuse like not doing heel leads in an effing jeffing tango?) and then you drift out again. BUT they did provide quite the
fashion parade this week. Look at Joanne’s new do! Look at that top! Look at Ore’s shirt being casually slashed open to the navel, not that he’s fishing for votes or anything. In fairness we did also learn tonight that Ore’s dad is flying in from Nigeria for the show this weekend, and he’s 80 years old. That Ore has super-old parents is about as surprising to me at this point as it is that Joanne is the favoured Clifton, which is to say, not at all. Their dances this week are the Argentine Tango and the Quickstep.
Waite’s Wednesday Warm-Up : I came to Waite’s Wednesday Warm-Up hoping for augers of a better Two Dance stage than we’ve sat through the last two years. I was not entirely comforted. Both Cloudia and Ore are showing copious gapping early in their quickstep training (although Cloudia’s just looks a mess in general), Ian struggled to find anything nice to say at all about either Danny or Louise’s latin (other than that Louise has “nice hands” which is of course what we all look for in a samba). Fortunately Ore’s Argentine Tango and Louise’s tango are looking a little better, although in both cases this is of course without the music that’s probably set to actively hamper them, just like 99% of the tango music choices this series. Otherwise Cloudia’s rumba looks fine albeit a little stiff, and Oti has made the interesting choice of doing a Viennese Waltz based American Smooth, like Georgia did at Blackpool last year.
The Pro Challenge : Today we learnt that Gorka does it very loud and yes impeccable technique. Yes we’re still talking about the Pro Challenge, as Gorka brought his full weight to bear on the floor, producing an almighty thudding and managed to become the first pro to get through the challenge without having any deductions. Sadly this was only enough for 3rd place, and Gorka reiterated what all the pros have been saying – none of the heavy hitters have gone yet. Also Gorka has a refrigerated segment in his backpack, which I find just darling.
The Singers : An actually interesting auxilliary interview tonight as Tommy, Lance, Andrea, and emogirl82 came to the studio in person to chat about their musical highlights of the series. For Lance it was singing “Unforgettable” for Daisy’s waltz, for emogirl82 it was singing “I’ll Be Seeing You” for Basil & Madge’s Rememberance Sunday routine, and for Andrea it was taking on Whitney for Ore’s waltz. They also revisited some of their greatest live gaffes, like when Tommy suddenly screamed “WHY DO YOU?” several bars too early in TAHM and Iveta’s foxtrot to Build Me Up Buttercup, and when all the other singers left Andrea to shout “GHOSTBUSTERS!” on her own with no support one time. Seriously, good chemistry here, a nice chat, all topped off with “Winter Wonderland” good job.
Danny & Oti : The modesty (false or otherwise) was laid on thick tonight as Danny claimed that he didn’t even notice he was top of the leaderboard with his tango and he was so shocked to get 10s and he was so nervous the whole time and he thought all week it was going to be another FOXTROT. Maybe Danny’s feeling the pressure a bit moving into the endgame but it didn’t really feel like a week where he’d just topped the leaderboard and sailed through to the semifinals. Fortunately Oti was there to liven things up by telling us all that she’s an official Joanne Clifton, and used to have all her posters up on her wall as a girl. The thought of Joanne Clifton having posters is quite something isn’t it? This revelation was in service of the fact that all four pros remaining are great friends and there’s no rivalries here, honest guv’nor. Their dances this week are the American Smooth and Salsa, so there’s a whole lot of lifting going on. Oti doesn’t sound particularly convinced so far. Particularly about the salsa.
Let’s Get Fucked With Vicky Gill : Joanne will be wearing a silver velvet dress for her Argentine Tango with Ore this weekend.
The Pro Challenge : We were keeping up with the Joneses today, as both Mr and Mrs had a go at the kicks and flicks. After a quick update with regards to where the Jones’ stand with Ed Balls (he’s cooking roast beef for them and walking their dogs) we were right into the thick of the action, with Neil even donning a gold headband especially for the occasion. And if we were keeping up with the Joneses then all of the other pros were surpassing them as due to…eccentric deployment of technique, Katya and Neil ended up at the bottom of the leaderboard. Neil in particular was a spectacular failure producing 104 kicks…with none of them being recognised as jive kicks. Not one. You’d think he might have hit one by mistake but no. Standing there kicking the air, like a cross between a cossack dancer, knees up muvvah brahn, and this classic Simpsons bit, truly it was an It Takes Two moment for the ages. Neil Jones, with that 0 you just made yourself famous.
Claudia & AJ : Much talk this evening of how Cloudia unleashed her inner beast with her salsa and (and I’m not sure if this has been mentioned on the show already at this point) got her first 10. Personally I was more interested in her training updates for her two dances this week – the quickstep and the rumba – which at some point started taking on a most Lisa Snowdon “well we’ll get one dance perfect to do in the dance-off and the other one can go in the bin to be honest” tone. Although if that is the case we might get a decent rumba out of it, as AJ thinks it’s going to be her best dance yet. Tonight’s episode also marked the point when the advertising campaign officially began for her showdance, and specifically the gymnastics that she’s going to be doing throughout. Make mine two back sommies and a chocolate flake.
(Hello. It was Chris’s office Christmas party tonight so it’s Steve here again for the Friday write-up.)
The Friday Panel : An interesting combination chemistry-wise this week as Gaby Roslin, Jason Donovan and Ellie Simmonds joined Zoe on the sofas, and Gaby and Jason chatted away happily like old mates whereas I don’t think Ellie felt quite as comfortable in this format, and was slightly more hanging back and waiting for Zoe to ask her things. As a result we didn’t hear an awful lot from Ellie other than that she’s a big fan of the show who likes watching it in her PJs with a pizza (and is therefore a woman after my own heart). Gaby nailed her pro-Danny-and-Louise colours to the mast from the outset while Jason remained the most painfully earnest human being ever to set foot in the studio. (Biggest revelation: he didn’t like doing the rumba because he is a Man and therefore it was Hard.) The general consensus was that Ore’s probably going home this weekend and that even though Danny is great Louise should win, with Ellie being the only “Danny ftw” outlier, and then Jason Donovan sang ‘Too Many Broken Hearts’ with what sounded like the actual karaoke backing, looking for all the world like a man whose spirit has been crushed but who still has bills to pay.
Gethin’s Homoerotic Adventures : Will NOT be happening this week, because Gethin is dead. Or sick, or on holiday, I forget which. In his absence, Neil Jones was given a microphone and sent to Elstree, because the one thing we’re all thinking is that Neil has not had enough airtime this week. He lacked a bit of Gethin’s natural ease at presenting as evidenced when he had to interview Danny and Cloudia together and it quickly became apparent that the two of them have all the natural chemistry of two people forced to make small talk about the quality of the in-flight meal during the ten-minute wait for an aeroplane toilet. Then Neil went to meet Alan, king of the floor managers, and discovered that Alan has three assistants (lol, the other two must be furious that Greg gets all the attention/letters/flowers/handwritten sonnets). Finally he sat with Natalie, Aljaz and Katya for some fairly inessential quickfire where it turned out that everyone still loves Gangnam Style, and that Natalie thinks Darcey has been the pickiest judge this year. Sometimes I just wonder if all Natalie hears is whistles and clucks, you know?
Golden Glitterballs : Oh, okay, turns out the reason Gethin couldn’t be in Elstree was because he was actually in Norway on the set of Skal vi danse, Norway’s answer to Strictly. Both of the presenters are former contestants: Katrine, the Tess, won the first series, and Samuel, the Claudia, finished 3rd last year. Gethin had a bit of an awkward hug with Samuel, but don’t worry guys, I’m sure he was thinking about Gorka the whole time. The show was preparing for its own Broadway week, but I didn’t spot Alexander Rybak, Margaret Berger or any of the cast of SKAM rehearsing their routines, so that was pretty much my entire knowledge of Norwegian popular culture exhausted. Gethin ended the segment by saying that he was pleased that he’d at least learnt to say “shall we dance” in Norwegian. (The only thing I can say in Norwegian is “you need dick”, which I think would have made for a much more interesting sign-off, but there you go.)
Louise & Kevin : I feel like the tone for what we can expect from Louise this week was established when she told us that her dances for Saturday are “tango and… what’s the other one?” SAMBA, Louise. Samba. (Louise has apparently spent most of her samba training saying that she feels like a wally and telling Kevin that she doesn’t want to wear a fruit hat.) They said that their favourite judge was Bruno, as opposed to last week, when it was Darcey. And the week before, when it was Len. Ooh, it’ll be Craig’s turn just as the time comes to start buttering him up for a 10 in the final, how convenient! A viewer clip revealed that somebody’s dog did more quickstep during Louise’s routine last week than Louise did, and a stats update revealed that, at this stage in the competition, Louise is Kevin’s highest scoring partner, with Frankie 2nd, Susanna 3rd and Kellie 4th. Also, after watching Danny and Cloudia give Neil absolutely nothing to work with earlier, I am left deeply concerned that Louise might actually be the second least-boring interviewee remaining in the competition at this point. Out of the celebs, anyway. Christ, if Ore didn’t have a comedy mum, she might actually be the most interesting one. THINK ON THAT.
The Pro Challenge : Zoe hit fast-forward to get it out of the way before finals week by bringing in the last three contenders – Karen, Kevin and Giovanni – and informing us that one of them was the winner. All three of them looked like they performed reasonably well in the cube, although Kevin was definitely the flailiest of them all and clearly knackered himself out with about 15 seconds to go. In the end, Karen ended up joint-second with Oksana and Janette after doing 59 kixenflix and having five disqualified, while Kevin and Giovanni both managed 62, but Kevin had 10 disqualifications leaving him joint-sixth and Giovanni only had seven, putting him in first place overall with 55. Giovanni will be taking the certificate home to Sicily for his mamma.
This Week’s Group Dance : Is a jazz-contemporary number (oh good) where Janette is a bird in a cage and Pasha is a bird who is not in a cage and they find their way to each other and then end up back in the cage, and somehow I think this is not going to have as much in common with the video for Tatu’s ‘All The Things She Said’ as I want it to. The soundtrack will be ‘Chandelier’ by Sia. Chloe seems very excited about the whole thing, and that’s good enough for me.