RELEASE THE SHIRLEY!
So it’s a grand tradition amongst Strictly pros to, if things don’t go entirely your way, just pretend otherwise. A celeb New Yorks when they should be promenading? It was choreographed like that! A celeb forgets the choreography? It was an INTERPRETIVE MOMENT OF CONTEMPLATION! A celeb falls on their arse? It’s the Reverse Caterpillar! Your celeb is Nancy Dell’Olio? Ha ha MARVELLOUS! So what I’m saying is that, even though the BBC decided to schedule all 15 celebs on one night, they can’t stop me recapping it like they broadcast 6 on one night and 9 on the other, as we had all agreed was a sensible schedule for my wrists. Which, let’s face it, with Davood and Pasha and The Horny Adventures Of Deborah McGee : 56, are going to be taking a battering this season anyway.
So let us begin
Remember this? The Launch Show? Broadcast in fuzzovision on your little old 1950s Panoflexic television unit? So long ago as to be ancient history. In the two weeks since then, our contestants have already become fully “strictlified” and are feeling the effects of the full force of the spirits of the Holy Trinity of dahnce, glitter, and props in their day jobs
Richard as a vicar
Simon as a chef
Susan as a stand-up comedian/professional vibrator dropper
Davood as a serious actor
and Jonnie as…erm…give me a minute it’ll come to me. Let’s hope that the show’s sense of humour hasn’t infected Susan’s comedy too much, as I presume she does need to earn a living from it in venues other than the burnt-out remains of the Wheeltappers & Shunters Club.
I can’t believe they’ve actually included his title in the actual credits, please be aware that I am not going through the process of spending about a month of trying to work out what I’m referring to him as, like I did with Judge Rinder (who I clearly wanted to call “Rindy” the whole time but resisted for a while for reasons of probity and the respect I hold for the office of pretend-judge on ITV daytime), he’s just Richard. And for those of you who like to keep track of these sorts of things both Charlotte and Brian get a “ho!”, so have a poll here
We start, because the show isn’t overstuffed enough, with a pro dance
which appears to be about how Strictly has come to save us all from our miserable little lives in our hovels tucked up under a raggedy blanket on the corner of the sofa, shoving Malteasers into our mouths by the fistful and trying to remember when the last time we had a decent dream about Pasha was. TOO LONG, THAT’S HOW LONG. COULDN’T YOU HAVE AT LEAST HAD HIM ON CELEBRITY MASTERCHEF INSTEAD OF VIC REEVES HE CLEARLY DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO BE THERE. Ahem. Anyway, in this routine we’re all being played by Oti, just like we all would be in an actual movie about our lives. The spirit of Strictly, as played by Giovanni
then flies through the window and carries us off into outer space whilst the Strictly singers bellow “YOOGODALURRRRRRRRRRR” as Florence & The Machine surgically removed all the gaps between the words of this song a long time ago. I will tell you this, it is really really really early in the series to be having to check that someone didn’t swap my Pringles out for actual LSD before turning on, and I am taking this to be a good sign. After they fly around like Superman VI : The Quest For A Decent Weave (seriously get on it Wardrobe you’re letting our girl down sorely this year) they come back to Earth
and all the other pros appear and dance around them and stuff, in random pairings as is the style nowadays, as half these couples met when Jason Gilkison set them up for a date backstage at Bum The Floor, like some sort of dance tindr rather than in actual ballroom competitions. Finally Oti has a little moment of doubt
as she considers switching over, as she heard that Slavko from Eurovision was auditioning on X Factor tonight, before Giovanni reminds her that nobody watches that shit anymore, it’s 2017 and somehow Sharon Osborne is STILL ON IT, stay here baby.
We’ve got Debbie McGee and Gorka’s arse.
The band strike up and you’ll notice that the people standing by the grand staircase here
and the people standing by it two seconds later
are completely different, because I think pretty much all the pro routines are going to be pre-recorded this year. And possibly some of Debbie’s as well, because Standards & Practices are going to have to check if they’re fit to be broadcast pre midnight.
All the pros skitter off, and are of course replace by
our hosts. I quite like both of their outfits there, let’s start in a spirit of positivity until Tess comes out with something lime green zebraprint with a slit halfway up her hips on backwards again. She opens by thanking Jason Gilkison for choreographing that routine and the Yr 9 Audio-Visual Club at King Henry VIIs in Rochester for doing the green-screening. At this we cut to Kate Garraway and
someone who I initially thought was Karen Hardy but is in fact Susanna Reid stealing focus by WEARING GLASSES, the cunning wench. What diabolical plan will she come up with next in her quest for airtime? Tonight, apparently, six of our celebrities will strut their stuff before we come back tomorrow to watch the remaining nine. No vote though, as scores will be carried over to next week, so everyone will have had a chance to dance twice before we cast judgment. Via our phones anyway.
The judges walk on and here’s a comparison of her and Bruno trying for delicate flamenco lines at the same time.
Get ready guys, Shirley’s coming for your spots and she’s not stopping.
The celebs emerge down the stairs, and Tess reminds them all that come December, one of them will be lifting the glitterball trophy. By past precedent, not if their pro gets their first. I don’t think Tom was able to prise that glitterball out of Camilla’s hands for a good month or so afterwards, and he had to use a lot of soapy water to loosen her grip.
Gemma Atkinson & Aljaz Skorjanec dancing the cha cha
Tess introduces the first couple here by saying how terrifying it must be to have to open the show, when she’s made a hash out of it 9 times out of 10 for the last decade or more and it hasn’t hurt her career any (LOVE YOU TESS).
As this is the first Live Show, our “Previously On” segment of the intro VTs focuses on The Launch Show, specifically the moment when the celebs “realise” who their pro partner is, with their happy faces bursting through a shower of CGI confetti, which in this case
has given Gemma a wee moustache. Albeit still a more convincing one than the one Kevin’s currently got drawn on his face. Gemma tells us that she’s pleased to have Aljaz, because she wants to “learn and graft” but also have fun. And everyone she’s spoken to has told her that she’ll “enjoy it with Aljaz”. Not if Janette has her way you won’t. Also, Alison and Daisy I think had fun – Abbey was on shovels of meds for her NEHRVES the whole time and the less said about the psychotic mental hellscape Helen George slowly spiralled into the better. Aljaz closes by saying that he can’t tell us how happy he is to be partnered with Gemma. Why, is it embargoed? It hasn’t stopped The Sun this year.
Training now, and Gemma is pleased that she’s got the cha cha first, as it will allow her to bring out the fierce sexeh woman within. Basically, she says, she’s going to be playing J-Lo.
Not in those shoes you aren’t madam. Aljaz tells us that Gemma managed to get the technique down well to begin with, but now she’s having to make it match the tempo of the music they’re dancing to, she’s starting to have problems. And how do we sort out problems with moving at speed as a Strictly pro? We *checks script*
go to Gemma’s day job to get to know her better? Jesus, they really do feed this thing through a belnder before broadcast don’t they? Aljaz turns up to Gemma’s morning show, and her co hosts rib him about the terrible acting the pros do at acting surprised on the Launch Show and Aljaz very earnestly says no that’s all real genuine emotion, Giovanni really does act like he’s just found out this his wife is Ghostface and stabbed his mum to death every time any minor unexpected happening occurs in his life. Then they play Ed Sheeran five times in a row and Aljaz plays a game where he has to guess which presenter just farted. Is my experience of morning radio.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
I love these dances that start with the ladysleb just hanging out casually by the staircase. That’s what all the cool kids are doing these days. There’s endless youtube videos with millions of hits of Millennials leaning on stairs. People find it really relaxing. Anyway, Gemma is dancing to “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” by Shawn Mendes, the latest clean-cut ambigulously straight Canadian pop sensation, and it’s interesting that Gemma is the one who’s supposed to be playing Miss Booty Queen herself J Lo when
they’ve stuck Aljaz in those trousers again. You could rest a whole round of (PROPER NORMAL DED NORTHERN, LIKE, BODDINGTONS) pints on there. As a first dance generic pop cha cha goes, it’s not too bad although Gemma has absolutely no knack at all for making movements look natural. You can hear the mental cogs turning with every time she moves her arms in particular. She looks like she’s enjoying herself, which is really half the battle at this point but nobody who won this show ever came out so “STEP PAUSE STEP PAUSE PIVOT PUNCH STEP BUM WIGGLE STEP STEP AVOID ALJAZ’S GIANT SWINGING DERRIERE, STEP
FALL INTO ONE ANOTHER’S ARMS EXHAUSTED AND ELATED”. Let the dance breathe a bit Gemma.
It gets a Standing Ovation (*twitch*) and if you were wondering who was going to take over Len’s “repeat the title of the song back to the contestant as a compliment” gig, it is in fact Tess. I hope she’s taking over all of Len’s duties, and will be yelling about getting her pickled walnuts out in Tesco if Joe McFadden goes home this week by Week 4 at the latest. Gemma huffs and puffs and squeaks (for someone who’s supposedly a gym bunny…not so much the cardio on this one apparently) that she’s glad that it’s done so she can just chill and relax and watch everyone else have a go. Hun, given how long the show’s going to be you can go chill, relax, watch everyone else, catch a flight to Hong Kong, eat a seven course tasting menu in a Michelin star restaurant, go to a K-Pop concert, fly back, catch up on your sleep to avoid the jet lag, and read the morning papers, and they’ll still be going. Tess introduces Davearch’s Wunnerful Orchestra, but I can’t see the Man In The Hat, so they can nob off.
Shirley starts for the judges, saying that Gemma really opened the show (she sure did), but then the camera
cuts to MORE PEOPLE IN THE AUDIENCE, WEARING GLASSES, THE SHAMELESS HUSSIES. Presumably these people are Gemma’s family and this is a desperate ploy to boost her vote already. Shirley goes on to say that Gemma looked good when she was twisting and rotating, but not at any other time, because she couldn’t get a straight leg. Bruno’s next, saying that he loved all the pouting and the attitude. The dancing? Not so much.
Craig’s next, and says it was all a bit blocky and square for him. Whatever Craig, it’s as peachy and round as ever, why don’t you try to wear trousers that tight, I’m sure yours would look like a wet sack of Muller Rice Pud…oh, right, the dance. Carry on. Darcey closes by congratulating Gemma on succesfully managing to be drawn arbitrarily out of the four people doing cha cha this evening to open the show. And we all know that takes work. Apart from that, it was cheeky, it was flirty, Darcey likee.
Up to Claud 9 they romp, where Claudia congratulates them on breaking the ice, and letting everyone else see that it’s ok, they’re not going to die out there. Well not literally anyway. Scores are in
20. Another series of Darcey looking disgusted by Craig’s score and then going only one higher is ahead by the way.
Brian Conley & Amy Dowden dancing the tango
Tess tells us that as Brian has the tango, he will need to work on his posture, and make sure he has a straight back and even more importantly, a straight face. My favourite part of this intro is of course
Shirley and Bruno already having a good old gossip in the background, and then
Darcey trying to join in and Shirley blanking her. I don’t want to get right down on the playground already (I absolutely do) but it’s so tempting…
VT time and Tess tells us that Brian has been entertaining the nation for four decades now [CITATION NEEDED] but he’s finding “his experience no laughing manner”. Brian then tells us that he’s the oldest man in the competition this year and it’s really starting to make him feel his age.
God but “Brian Conley confronts his own mortality” is not a storyline I had pencilled in for this year’s show. What if he dies mid run (at the INCREDIBLY ADVANCED AGE OF 56) and the pros do a big moving tribute dance that ends with them all stopping, staring into a giant astral projection on the video wall, and screaming “IT’S A PAHPETTT”. Brian then speechifies that as an entertainer he has “embraced the journey, but Amy holds the map”. Based on Amy’s face
it’s not a big map. Basically it’s the map you draw when you’re having a house party and you need to scribble down where the nearest Tesco Metro is on the back of a Post It for your mate to go get some more jars in whilst you wait in for the Dominos to arrive. Amy is the British Latin champion, and tells us all that her plan is for there to be “less talking, more dancing” from Brian. If you could aim somewhere around zero on at least one of those scales (AT LEAST ONE) it’d be great hun, thanks.
Training now, and Brian has turned up in clothing that makes Amy laugh uproariously
She then tells him to put some trousers on before she calls the police. Guess what though? TV funnyman Brian is so funny that the gales of laughter at his capering and joking (mostly coming from Brian) are disrupting the very serious rehearsals for the very serious dance that is the Strictly tango
, so Amy is going to have to do something to flush the jollity right out of his system. Remind him he hasn’t had a regular comedy gig on mainstream television in 15 years? NO!
Laughter yoga! Imagine appearing on tv proud of the fact that your job is instructing people in how to laugh correctly. Eva gets Brian and Amy to sit on the floor, and tells them that this is a safe space where one person will laugh and then the other two will “support them in whatever they’re laughing about”. Good grief. And yet still a step up from being a body language expert on Big Brother.
TO THE MAGICAL SHOE SHOP!
The story here is that Brian is an innocent punter, captivated by the spell of Amy’s mysterious and villainous shopkeeper, and I wish I’d got all the laughter out of my system before this routine, because Amy starting the routine by going
“LOOK AT MY EEEEEVILLL SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOES!” is far far funnier than anything involving Brian Conley has any right to be. The shoes then
DISAPPEAR (/go behind a very obvious card insert) and
APPEAR ON BRIAN’S FEET IN A PUFF OF SMOKE! NO BRIAN! RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE FROM THE DEVIL SHOES! BUT YOU CAN’T! BECAUSE THEY’RE ON! YOUR! FEET! MWAHAHAHAHAHHAHA!
Ahem. The idea is that the shoes give Brian magical tango powers (I think. There’s not really a big difference in character work from before the shoes to after the shoes. Cept the lights go red and he does a bit of a
RIGHT, NOW I’M A WRONG’UN pose), and from there Brian and Amy go on to do a reasonably adequate tango with Amy doing a lot of vampy overacting and Brian staring off into space because that’s what he’s been told you’re supposed to do in a tango, something to do with bad breath from all the sweaty pampers or whatever. It doesn’t really look like he’s leading, his hold wanders and the choreography is alternately a little uninspiring and
a little weird but it’s watchable enough considering it’s Brian Conley and I was planning on sitting most of it out behind the sofa. In a different room. In a different house. In Peru.
On the other hand, it was danced to “Temptation” by Heaven 17 which actually deserves a romper-stomper showstopper of a performance not whatever that was, so *scales geesture*
Also Brian rewards me being benevolently lukewarm by mugging all “oooh me back I’m so old me back”
afterwards so that’s what you get for being nice.
Bruno starts for the judges, leaping out of seat purring about how he loved the passion, the drama, the intensity and the tragedy. Bruno adding a lot of extra plot there to a dance that was basically “look at my shoes, aren’t they magic? (also evil)”. Just like with Gemma though, he thought the dance was lacking. Apparently, says Bruno, you don’t do steps in the tango, you glide and prowl like a panther.
Shirley already looking a bit twitchy there. Get ready. Craig follows, criticising Brian for his lack of v shape and lack of drive and also the bit where his hold consisted of pinching the back of her neck wasn’t great.
Darcey’s next, saying that the intent was there and the timing was there, but the boys are righ(*fast forward*). Shirley closes by saying that she loved the character he did, and she was impressed by the five-step and the promenade and the erm…well the attempt at a contracheck. He tried. To this praise, Brian plucks his rose off Amy and hands it to Shirley instead.
Shirley does not then sadly bite the head off it and spit it on the floor.
Up to Claud 9 they go, where Claudia congratulates him on doing all those technical things Shirley said that she doesn’t understand, tee hee, she’s just a simple Claudia definitely not been here for fourteen years at this point. Brian’s all “Amy did everything” and gives himself some credit for getting through the choreography succesfully and nothing more, because that’s the first time he did it right all the way through. Yes, before one of the magic shoes turned his left leg into a tentacle it was most embarassing. Scores are in
16. Which is the second lowest tango score ever, which seems a bit much but there we go, don’t expect me to defend Brian Conley too often this series, breathe it in whilst you can.
Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez dancing the waltz
Tess tells us that Alex and Gorka’s waltz will be themed around a tropical beach, because why not. All those palm trees in Vienna, makes sense.
VT time and
yup, still all the way open. I swear there are pythons that look at Alexandra Burke and envy her ability to unhinge her jaw. Why, she could swallow Gorka whole and…well write your own punchline and save yourself the time there. Alexandra and the editing crew then take further advantage of her expressive features by having her talk about the full range of emotions she’s felt whilst on the show.
Realising That When Greg The Floor Manager Told You To Take A Piss Break Now Because You Won’t Get Another One For Five Hours He Was Right!
Regarding Gorka, Alexandra says that as soon as she knew she had him she flung her entire body weight at him, to which Gorka replies that he’s glad that Alexandra has so much energy, as he also has a lot of energy. Let me just think on that for a minute or ten.
Training now and Gorka is eating his words within five seconds of the tape starting, as Alexandra is basically spending her whole time running round screaming and
doing the hammer dance. In waltz training. Such is her joie de vivre. As response, Gorka decides to sit her down and tell her that she’s banned from drinking coffee for the duration of her stay in his training room. This feels a little like when Brenda made a big deal out of telling Michelle Williams she could no longer ingest so much “sugar” every week. Up her nose. Alexandra tells us that it’s really intense for her this week, as they’re dancing to “Natural Woman” which is a song that her mum always used to sing with her. At no point is this contextualised with the fact that her mum is dead and also…died recently. As in “a few days ago” recently. It feels like an X Factor storyline is trying to manifest itself through gauze, and then boom we’re back with the coffee storyline as Alexandra keeps on trying to “sneak it” into training
and Gorka gets all “REMEMBER NO COFFEE!” about it, like a b plot from a minor episode of Fawlty Towers. It’s odd.
TO THE TROPICAL ISLAND!
Fortunately the theming is limited to the video wall and the fact that Gorka has a few buttons popped. Like off the back of the MAGIC EVIL SHOES this theming seems invisible to the point of pointlessness, but I’m quite glad that Gorka isn’t making her feel like a natural woman whilst dressed as a pineapple. The dance itself is very wistful, and maudlin, with a lot of
dewy-eyed hanky work but there’s no avoiding the fact that Alexandra feels a little bit abstracted and absent throughout. Maybe she’s thinking about her mum in tribute, or maybe she’s focusing more on the steps than the performance but she and Gorka don’t really have a lot of connection so far, as much as they might be closing their routines with
close-lipped suggestive endposes. A nice warm-up but she’s really going to have to blaze it up next week in the latin to really make her mark on the competition early doors.
They walk over to the judges, and Alexandra is crying and a little wobbly already. I do hope that she keeps it together, we don’t need another Kelly Brook happening. Although Len’s gone, so the worst of that whole period won’t be recurring. Craig starts for the judges, telling Alexandra that her chin kept on sinking into her chest and her shoulders occasionally lurched up. To be fair, if I was with Gorka, my gaze would be downwards and…well something would be lurching up, maybe not my shouders. Also there was gapping and sickled feet but that’s enough padding so nobody accuses him of being biased coz she was in The Bodyguard what he choreographed, so he loved her arms and her feel for the music. Darcey’s next and says that she really could tell that Alexandra was breathing through every transition in the phrasing of the music and it made the dance so much more effective. Dances are always better when the participants are breathing yes.
Shirley’s next, and says that she could tell that that dance was really emotional for Alexandra, as she felt herself getting really emotional with her. Again, odd that they keep winking at the situation here but not saying it out loud. Anyway, Shirley tells Alexandra that she’s a “true feeler” and not in the way Dominic Littlewood was that meant Darren Bennett punched him out halfway through his exit dance with Lilia. Shirley then tells Alexandra that she’s obviously going to be a frontrunner and about three women in the audience theatrically gasp at this and…it’s Alexandra Burke can we not? If she’d said that to Susan Calman maybe. Anyway we close, as Tess mutters more about how emotional this all is for Alexandra, with Bruno full on stroking Shirley’s boobs.
No idea. Is randomly stroking a woman’s bubbies a way to lighten the mood in all situations, I have to admit, I’ve never tried it. As Bruno moves on to randomly waffling about Alexandra’s artistry, Darcey gives Shirley a little supportive squeeze under the table. Presumably Bruno’s had a go on Darcey’s bussells many a time, what a terror.
Up to Claud 9 they go, where Claudia talks to Alexandra about the really hard time she’s had of late and then mentions her family members in the audiences. Alexandra…cries. Scores are in
24. A score also attained in waltz by Daniel O’Donnell, Craig Kelly, Esther Rantzen, and Willie Thorne. People are raucously cheering a Bruno 7 here, what an evening.
Simon Rimmer & Karen Clifton dancing the paso doble
Tess tells us that the judges have issued a special edict for this paso – they want it well done. I’ll tell you now , regardless of that pun, I think Shirley Ballas absolutely takes her steak crimson with the blood still dripping out of it. Possibly still attached to the animal.
VT time and goodness
the show is ageing Simon. He almost looks as old as he actually IS here. He tells us that he’s really determined to learn to dance (…), and if that fails, he’ll just bring some nice food in for everyone. And parade it before the camera really austentatiously, just in case Paul Hollywood decides he’s sick of everyone hissing at him in the street and leaves Bake Off. It’s on Channel 4, Simon already knows his way around, job’s a good’un. Karen’s all “i was very excited to get simon he will work very hard” and I think she’s still suffering a bit from last year poor thing.
Training now and
Simon has brought some paella and an eclair with him. Karen hoovers this up in seconds and demands MOAR. I swear I remember Karen’s days as the surly sexpot on So You Think You Can Dance ever more every time this show boils down her six years experienc (!) now as a Strictly pro, with all the memories, dances, and laughs that come with all that, down to “Kirby The Food Hoover”. Simon and Karen then go to one of his restaurants, where they go into the kitchen and Karen stirs some salad about a bit and pretends she’s done a full service and says now she knows how Simon feels and stuff. This was…a VT.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
I’m not one of those people who think that you can’t do a paso doble Week 1, I’m just saying that taking a man with no performance background and making him do a rock paso on the set of some sort of hybrid of Mad Max and Les Mis, with the singers performing Song 2 like they keep on treading on lego, with Karen dressed as some sort of post-apoclayptic Peterborough panto Pocahontas, might have been a bit too much to handle. It’s just bad. He bunny-hops off the stage, his hands keep on doing finger guns for no earthly reason, his Spanish lines look more like the scarecrow from The Wizard Of Oz
it’s VERY stompy, he can’t even clap in time to the music, he keeps on doing that weird thing BLOKES do in the paso where it looks like they’re running up to take a penalty at a Sunday League game and trying to dummy out the keeper, a lot of it is him standing there as Karen
punches him and flings herself about and tries to pull focus from the fact that, well, it’s just bad. I mean, it’s funny-bad but you feel less guilty about laughing at funny bad when it’s the comedy vicar mincing about in a cha cha wearing a glitter-glue halo compared to something this earnest.
Or at least I do.
Over to the judges they go, where Darcey starts by going “um, well, um” and
clearly trying to find something in her brain to find nice to say about it. She…erm…liked the determination. Basically, as we’ve heard for pretty much every dance so far this evening, she thinks the performance was there, it was just that the technique was lacking. In particular she felt he needed to push his pelvis forward. Shirley’s next and as if she wasn’t already enough of a Boss Bitch
she’s got the Steven Moffatt Mummy Issues Dr Who Villain glasses out. She too liked Simon’s determination and felt he was better “in closed hold” ie when he was stood still and Karen was doing everything.
Bruno follows, and does what Bruno is apt to do in these circumstances – thrashing about and taking the piss. He tells Simon that it looked like he was crushing cockroaches. Shirley’s all “yes he’s supposed to, hence the name of the step” and God you can tell she’s gearing up to proper poke someone in the eye and Darcey just got unlucky. Bruno rounds off his statements by telling Simon that he needs more refinement, and he can’t just whack it in someone’s face and hope for the best. Karen pips up that that’s how she likes it and Tess’ face reads pure
“calm it the heck down with the dick jokes Karen, I’m already probably going to have to do a full OFCOM over Bruno molesting Shirley’s mammers from men who just DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY GAY MEN ARE ALLOWED TO DO THAT BUT I CAN’T”. Craig closes by mocking Simon’s posture and saying that it was just a lot of “mean stomping” and self-flagelation.
Off to Claud 9 they hie, where “NEVER DANCED BEFORE!” gets a lot of play, like we couldn’t already tell. Claudia also reveals that Simon’s daughter Flo has stopped using his surname at University, as she’s worried about being associated with his bad dancing. Yes, I cannot think of any other reason who you might drop the name “Flo Rimmer” at the first possible opportunity, I really can’t. Scores are in
17. What I love is when you cut to the judges table you can see Bruno, Darcey and Shirley in full animated debate with Bruno in particular wanting an absolute explanation as to how that was worth a fucking 5, before they realise the cameras are on and stop. I feel like the whole Darcey-Shirley-Bruno dynamic is going to be a ROLLERCOASTER.
Charlotte Hawkins & Brendan Cole dancing the foxtrot
As this is our first foxtrot of the evening, Tess asks Shirley what she wants to see. Shirley says that wants a nice slow gliding motion, a beautiful ballroom frame and (as Adele once sang I think) rolling in the feet. Having seen Charlotte on the Launch Show dance I think I would be setting the benchmark at her not voiding her bowels all over the dancefloor, but I’m no Head Judge.
VT time and Charlotte calls Strictly a “magical sequinned sparkly world” but so nervewracking, so she’s glad she’s got a safe pair of hands in Brenda Cole. How you can say that without cracking up I do not know, has she never watched before? Shall we show her Snowdance? A clip from the Launch Show of Brenda reveals incidentally that he absolutely did jump the gun and start reacting before his name was officially called out, which obviously starts being a problem at his age. James Jordan for example started screaming in his sleep three clear weeks before Tess said he’d got Vanessa Feltz. Anyway, Brenda says that Charlotte is tall, elegant and beautiful and there’s nothing more he’d want in a partner. That very much is the AXIS of what makes a Brenda partnership isn’t it? Be a leggy model and he’ll chase the judges round the carpark with a fire extinguisher for you even if you dance like Jo Wood. If you’re built like Sunetra then good luck.
Training, and Charlotte says that she’s so glad to be getting started at long last, with the foxtrot. She really has done a complete memory wipe of that Launch Show dance hasn’t she? Brenda and she slump against a wall after a little while of twirling, and he says he so admires her for combining her job as a newsreader on Breakfast tv with doing Strictly.
Is he mentally replacing her head with Kerplunk’s? Possibly. She’ll probably be about the same standard as a dancer, why NOT another glitterball for Brenda, that’s what I say. Charlotte’s all “Oh you REALLY want to admire my tenacity and restraint as a human being? Let me introduce you to Piers Morgan and a whole canteen full of cutlery without bloodstains on it”. As such Brenda is
up with the lark and ready to go and off to Good Morning Brian, complaining constantly about how hard it is to get up this early in the morning. Erm, isn’t Mrs Brenda due to pop another one out soon? You might want to get used to it. What am I saying, they’ll probably be dispatched til the garden shed til the baby’s sleeping through the night and Mrs Brenda’s figure’s rebounded.
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
We were told in advance this dance was set in an orchard so…erm…there’s a tree. And of course, far more importantly, a bench. They’re dancing to “The Best Is Yet To Come” which I do appreciate as a choice for a first dance because it literally could not be untrue. It is, despite saying that, actually pretty enjoyable. Charlotte seems far more comfortable in this sort of elegant old-school style than she did bashing it about to Footloose
and the styling absolutely suits her “Princess Grace Of Monaco reads out Trump tweets” vibe down to the ground. She does some nice vamping and goosing on her own, and when it gets into hold it’s actually one of the better examples of Brenda’s early ballroom tactics ie you will go where he puts you whether you like it or not. Brenda’s got a lot of virtues as a teacher, but patience is not one of them. You’ll follow the rotation and if your feet actually touch the floor at any point then that’s an added bonus. There’s a few points where she’s clearly a little surprised by where she ends up, feet wise, but otherwise it’s mostly well done and there’s no glaring Fiona Phillips moments. Admittedly the bit where Brenda’s choreographed in a nearly-kiss to go with the lyrics she
could be a little bit more comfortable with, in that she could try not to look like he just fell on her on the Night Tube reeking kebab, but a good job. And yes at one point they go over the bench and yes it all ends up with Brenda plonking her on the desk
but this is Brenda, he ends up plonking all his partners on the desk eventually. Or so the tabloids say.
Once they’re over at the judges, Tess turns to Shirley and asks if she got what she was looking for. Shirley very brightly replies that she got “some elements” of what she was looking for. Ouch. Particularly she liked the attempt (lol) at a heel turn. Bruno follows, calling it classy, elegant and traditional, but warns Charlotte not to lose her frame because her shoulders keep on riding up. Craig criticises her for not dancing as a unit with Brenda (to which Brenda purrs “oh yes we were” by which I presume he means “oh I was doing everything trust me”) and finally Darcey praises her as showing potential, but let’s face it, none of us are listening because
SUSANNA REID IS STILL WEARING GLASSES, THAT MACCHIAVELLIAN FIEND OF PR!
Up to Claud 9 they sprint, where Charlotte talks to Claudia about losing herself in the world of dahnce and forgetting everyone else around you watching you and judging you. Yes I can see why working on Good Morning Brian you wouldn’t have to worry about anyone watching. Brenda then says that he could not be prouder of THIS GIRL and there we go. The series has officially begun. Scores are in
This week’s Claudia Comedy Prop Interlude sees her confusing a mirror for a picture of an old lady. Bit close to the end of the show for a Claudia Comedy Prop Interlude but what do I know?
Chizzy Akudolu & Pasha Kovalev dancing the cha cha
Tess tells us that in the upcoming routine Chizzy will be playing a heart surgeon. Does this mean Pasha will be doing the whole routine in a modesty gown I do hope so. The old fashioned ones.
VT time and Chizzy opens by saying that she can’t put into words how excited she is to be on Strictly this year so she’s just going to scream right down the camera lens instead.
I love that there are officially two Loud Black Women this year, everyone who tut tutted that Alesha was too much is going to be having so much fun. Pasha tells us that Chizzy is very flirty, but whilst it’s good to show personality, you have to be very very particular about technique. At this point the soundtrack yelps “SHUT UP AND DANCE!” so I think the message is being transmitted very clearly. Chizzy tells us that, as far as dancing goes she can do the splits. Well…she can willingly go down, it might take half an hour or so to persuade her to come back up again. Pretty sure I’d be th[PUNCHLINE REDACTED]
Training now and
kudos to Chizzy for officially being the first to allow her training video to air consisting mostly of shots of her with deep rings round her eyes, sweaty, and with her hair looking a mess. I notice Brenda for example still had a face full of cake for his candid 3am waking up shots. At any rate, Chizzy takes to cha cha with gusto, although when Pasha says that he’s saying a lot of “Cheezy Energy” from her, I’m not sure if that’s him mispronouncing her name or just an accurate description of what’s occuring. He tells us that Chizzy is very focused on the little details of the dance and speaking of attention to details.
I know Aljaz and Gorka are currently the Big Two as far as this show goes, some of us still appreciate the old favourites. Chizzy talks about her she’s finding everything very tiring and then…that’s it. No comedy elements at all. I am SHOOK.
TO THE HOSPITAL!
OK, first of all, I was told she’d be a surgeon, and she’s clearly a radiologist here. Secondly, if we’re going to run a full body scan of Pasha, please make it a PET scan rather than an X Ray, it’s just better for picking up the important medical details that I’m sure we’re all dying to find out about. Once the music starts, they’re dancing to Boogie Fever (because Chizzy played a DOCTOR in A THING and doctors TREAT FEVERS) and yes, it’s disco latin o’clock. It’s fun enough, but Chizzy’s movements are very muddy and not particularly finished and that only gets worse
after she rams her heel through her dress, recovers it, and then spends the rest of the routine trying to not do it again. Disco and cha cha are always an odd mix, because disco is super high energy and cha cha…isn’t, generally, so it always falls between two stools unless you give it some proper Lisa Riley/Alison Hammond Week 1 oomph, and Chizzy isn’t really doing that here. It feels odd to say it but I could do with Chizzy, well, turning up the volume in future dances, if she survives long enough to do another latin.
It gets a Standing Ovation (ah…hmm) and Tess tells Chizzy that the whole audience has now caught Boogie Fever. Is this like that week last year when the entire cast had the shits, that was great fun. Bruno starts for the judges, purring that the diagnosis here is very good ie, he’s going to be able to make a LOT of innuendo about boobs for as long as she’s here. Moreover he thinks he very much could get addicted to “Fizzy Jizzy”. Well so could we all really. It’d be different at any rate. Craig follows by saying that to him it looked like it was all disco and not a lot of cha cha, but she had a great sense of rhythm, if you miss out the entire section she did out of time.
Darcey’s next and calls Chizzy “one sassy lady” with “natural built in boogie” in her body (*Harry Hill Face To Camera*) but she did see some issues with balance. And that’s just talking about her bra. Shirley closes by yelling “LET’S GET BUSY WITH LIZZY!”, and between this “Cheezy” and “Fizzy Jizzy” I’m wondering if Chizzy isn’t regretting, as much as a fun nickname might get you some attention when looking for work in a competitive field, not going by her birthname, which is Andrea. Anyway, Shirley praises Chizzy for moving through the dress problems without missing a beat, but tells her to be more definite with her footwork. Before they hie off Chizzy asks if she can just say that she turned to Pasha on the first day of rehearsals and told him that the first rule of dancing with Chizzy Akudolu is “don’t fall in love with me”. She then burbles on another joke which I don’t really understand but which certainly makes her laugh. Yeah, I don’t see this lasting much beyond Week 3, if that. But I’ll enjoy her whilst she’s here.
Back up to Claud 9, where Claudia reminds Chizzy of her positive comments, particularly when Bruno said that he loved watching her. Chizzy jokes that she loves watching herself too and
here’s a poll
Scores are in
21. Bit of an odd choice for the Pimp Slot, but there we go, share them about a bit I guess. No end of one scoreboard either, GET IT TOGETHER GUYS!
See you for Show Two as soon as it’s up on iPlayer!