More packed with emotional incident crammed into the last third than an episode of Call The Midwife. A CHRISTMAS episode of Call The Midwife.
Last Week : The trolls came out on top, it was a good night for Dr Zhivago and a giant mouse, Ginger Rogers found herself just below Julie Andrews on dance ability, Indiana Jones couldn’t get his whip to work, a Bond Girl got dinged for not being sexy enough, John Travolta found himself inappropriately inserted into a Pimp Slot, and Buzz Lightyear found himself in a fight to the death with Flash Gordon, and only just came out on top. And most surreal of all? NO TIES ON THE LEADERBOARD! A bad week for spacemen, a good week for the PURITY OF DAHNCE!
This week :
all the celebs over 50 are putting together a group letter to send to the producers about how the lighting on this show could be used better. Also, for all that I find the melodrama of these black and white grimdark intros with the “HARRRRRRRRRRRRRNK” noise from the Inception soundtrack laid over them a little bit eye-rolling
this right here is legitimately like a Renaissance painting representing Charlotte and Brenda’s time on Strictly. Such a serene, beautiful, slightly cross-eyed innocent Grace Kelly angel and her fierce masculine protector/tormentor.
Can I just say that every week I appreciate that in the background of Chizzy’s intro it looks like she’s trying to actually fit her head up Pasha’s arse? Woman after my own heart.
The band strike up, and Tess and Claudia emerge from the wings and Tess bless her
I know many women like to dress to enhance their cleavage, but normally they try to enhance both boobs at the same time. Don’t pump all the air into one tyre of the bicycle otherwise you’re going to tip over the handlebars. They remind us that last week was indeed Movie Week, and just like The Exorcist, ended with a priest hurling himself out of a second floor window. Some aftershow parties are more hardcore than others. The judges are then introduced and
some weeks, Darcey’s entrance is even more inexplicable than usual. TOUCH THIS SKIN! TOUCH ALL OF THIS SKIN DARLING! Shirley meanwhile has come as
Catherine Of Aragon. Did someone tell her it was Historical Figures Theme Week, I would watch that it has to be said.
Mollie McGee & Giovanni Pernice dancing the cha cha
Tess reminds us that last week Debbie’s scores “took a bit of a hit” in her quickstep, due to Craig invoking the “No Using A Newspaper As A Prop In A Date With A 7 In It” rule. Debbie’s little
puganacious face at the memory is a delight.
VT time, and there is no greater show of domestic bliss I’ve ever seen on this show than
Debbie and her Giovanni in pink (for a girl) and violet-blue (for a boy) with matching yoga mats. True love. Debbie talks about how she really enjoyed her quickstep last week, as Giovanni swept her off her feet with romance and classic elegance but then that Craig RUINED it all with his RULES, like the “10 Second Rule”, the “Stop Faffing Rule” and the “No Doing That On The Catering Table People Have To Eat Off It You Know Debbie Rule”. The sheer array of faces Debbie and Giovanni pull at being called out on their faffing by the way
are wonderful. More emotional range in those few seconds than half these wannabes are showing in entire routines, even the actors. We close with Debbie calling herself a “naughty schoolgirl”. No dear, that’s three weeks time. The “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” tango? Keep up.
Training now, and the patented Debbivani VT magic this week is not being used for teleportation, but for the transforming of Giovanni into a UPS delivery man. Much like Evil Moira Ross In A Rainbow Wig is going to do to Brenda in a few weeks if he doesn’t stop giving Shirley the sassafrass. This is the start of a comedy VT wherein Giovanni gets into character for the dance to come by constantly trying to deliver parcels to Debbie at awkward moments, like when she’s getting her hair done or when she’s enjoying a quiet moment at home.
I do notice a man’s hat on the rack in the hall there, not suggesting at all that Giovanni has moved in for the duration of the series you understand. Just a frivolous side observation. Maybe Debbie’s just wearing his hat like he enjoys wearing her…anyway. It all culminates in Giovanni delivering a parcel that actually CONTAINS Debbeh McGee, end scene. I love that this all had Debbie in hysterics on It Takes Two this week, it takes all kinds.
TO THE OFFICE!
You need to put some paper in it Debbie. Happy to help. ANYWAY, Debbie and Giovanni are dancing a cha cha to “The Shoop Shoop Song” and it does all kind of justify the vague ill-feeling I had in my waters about Debbie and the faster latin. She plays it off quite well with a lot of
filthy vamping and flirting and
sticking her leg up so far over her head I half expect Stephanie Beacham to pop in and call her “That Debbie Creature” but she looks very tottery on her feet and there’s no real weight or power to anything. It’s not quite balletic, but Giovanni’s there ripping his shirt open and giving it the full porno thrust and she’s just playing a little coy and demure and up on her toes. In the end, Giovanni’s delivery turns out to be some
balloons. Which is also less filthy than what I was expecting(/hoping for) but ok.
It all gets a very loud reaction in the room, albeit no Standing Ovation. Maybe everyone’s just wooping because Giovanni’s advancing on them with top artfully popped open, who can say. Once they’ve reached Tess, she introduces the singers, including “New Boy Jamie”
don’t get used to it New Boy Jamie, they’ll use you for the high notes in the Darkness song and then toss you in the bin, they’ve done it before. We all remember Anthony (or at least I do). One night stand with Davearch and then never seen again. Like a piece of meat. Speaking of which, Shirley starts for the judges by telling Debbie that she looks really gorgeous in her dress tonight. Always a harbinger of bad things to come, and indeed she tells Debbie that it was too balletic for her, and Debbie’s legs were too straight.
Bruno’s next and he has no worries (and he’s normally such an angsty human being!) – he thought Debbie was on-time, exact, and efficient, and also very bendy. As bendy as Felcity Kendall? There is a primetime face-off I would pay to see. Debbie McGee and Felicity Kendal doing competitive yoga, air it instead of the World Cup please BBC 1. See who can last longest in the Downward Dog. Bruno then praises Debbie for the lack of “faffing about” and for some reason that really sounded like “fucking about” and I apologise for anyone whose hopes I raised by reporting it thus.
Craig follows by calling Debbie a Barbie Doll, and Darcey closes by calling her out for straight legs and over-extended arms, but none of this is as awkward as the fact that up on Claud 9
Dianne and Chloe have turned up in the same top! What a fashion faux pas!
Up to Claud 9 they go, where Claudia sympathises with Debbie, and tells her that it’s around Week 4 that the judges start getting really pernickety. Yes I well remember that from last year when Laura got straight 8s and a 9 for a quickstep that was mostly running about in a big circle, Louise got the same for a foxtrot to a cha cha track, and Ore got 39 for The Unholy Jive. Debbie says that it’s fine, because their criticisms weren’t anything that Giovanni wasn’t saying in training. Scores are in
27. Normally I don’t cover Terms & Conditions, because it’s so much dead air, but I feel Karen’s attempts to
pull focus as Neil dances around like a transvestite serial killer are too much to be ignored.
Brian Conley & Amy Dowden dancing the paso doble
Remember, this is not a Theme Week. Tess tells us that this week Brian will be playing a rock star, and Amy will be playing a massive fan. Yes, heaven forbid the woman actually be in the band, despite being dressed as the offspring of Joan Jett and Terri Nunn.
VT now, and Brian and Amy agree that their Movie Week performance was their best yet. Still got voted out of the recap though so…how good was it really? If I haven’t written about it, it’s not worth watching. We’re also reminded of Amy’s OTT reaction to getting a 5 from Craig and I swear, Amy’s reactions to the scores are probably driving more votes for these two than the dancing is.
I thought it was Davood and Nadiya who were doing the Fifty Shades routine this week no? Ah well, the violence doesn’t last long, as we move right from two seconds of training footage to Brian deciding that Amy has put so much hard work in, that as a treat he’s taking her out to dinner with his family. At a La Tasca. Mmmm, mid-range eats. Over tapas, Brian and family discuss how cool he is now, whilst Amy mostly stays quiet, and then she and Brian rehearse their paso doble.
And clear the room.
TO THE ARENA!
So yes, this is a very dramatic opening. The pose, the plumes of smoke, the dramatic stamping out of the beat on the amp before the music kicks in. It’s all very promising. And he certainly gets off the amp with more aplomb than with which Simon Rimmer got off the barricades in his rock paso a few weeks ago. After that…I’m not such a fan. It’s one of those Duffer Pasos in which it’s really obvious that the pro has picked out two static spots on the floor, a distance apart, in which the dancing will take place, most of which will be done by the lady pro vamping about and gnashing her teeth, and between which there is a short and fairly uneventful commute each way during the routine. Other than that the mic stand looks more like a three wood than anything you’d sing into. In terms of rock star, it’s very Alice Cooper : The PGA years. And some of the faces being pulled
well. I hope he’s got some decent health insurance and that it covers kidney stones.
It gets a decent reaction, and once they’re over at Tess, Amy goes into a lengthy spiel about how Brian has stolen both her eye-liner and her nail polish for his outfit. Does Mrs Ant know the celebs are going off-brand? She’s got a contract with Boots Own-Brand to keep up. Bruno starts for the judges, chortling that that routine made him crack his desk and lose his paddles.
Shirley’s alliance with him is becoming ever more steadfast I see. He goes on to call Brian “Johnny Rotten” and then does an impression of his thrashing about, and then Brian does an impression of Bruno doing an impression of him thrashing about, and claims his thrashing about was in fact an impression of Bruno’s thrashing about in the first place. I need to draw a diagram I think, I’m losing track. Craig follows, calling it “dancing by numbers” and “stompy”.
Darcey’s next, saying that, like me, she loved the intro and, unlike me, she saw great improvement in Brian’s performance, although she does say that Brian seemed to convey conviction chiefly through his lips. True for many of us I think. Shirley closes by saying that this week Brian wasn’t playing a funny character (…) and she was impressed with what he managed to do without that to hide behind, although she did see some mistakes. She then
rises out of her chair in order to do an impression of a blowfish/Debbie McGee when she was told about the Ten Second Rule. Apparently this represents Brian inflating himself out to his full potential. Apparently. Meanwhile I marvel at
whatever booker plonked Gok Wan next to Tim Lovejoy in the audience, what a meeting of minds.
Up to Claud 9 they rock out, where Brian very aggressively kisses Aston on the face, and Claudia says that she loves the relationship the two have. Mercifully, she does not say “bromance” so I don’t have to get the hose out. Brian then says that he loves every minute he’s spending with his Special Lady, meaning Amy. I’ve not heard the term “Special Lady” to describe a woman since the last time I watched Just Good Friends by mistake. Claudia brings things back to decency by reminding Brian that he’s doing this for his family, and Brian sighs “aren’t we all really?”. Well that and the paycheque. Scores are in
Mollie King & AJ Pritchard dancing the salsa
Tess is in the audience again, with Frankie Saturdays & Merry Christmas JLS. Tess aggressively pats Frankie repeatedly on the knee like a larbrador trying to climb out of a swimming pool, and asks her about her bandmate. Frankie, before Mollie has to go out and do a sexy salsa, says that she can tell she’s really nervous just by looking at her. Nothing like a pal telling you you look like a desperate sweaty mess just before you do the sexy salsa, eh? Does she also have lipstick on her teeth?
VT now, and Mollie calls her American Smooth a dream come true, whilst AJ praises her for relaxing in the lifts. A little bit too much at points AJ, she was lolling about on top of yer head like you were a dentists chair and she’d just got hit with the nitrous. That said, we are treated to a shot of Mollie doing impeccable
midair Smugface. What, me? Mollie King? Upside down dressed as Wendy Craig on Saturday Night Prime Time? I can barely believe it myself!
Training now, and apparently Mollie is vertiably blushing at the thought of having to whip her hair about and look all sultry in front of the nation. How quickly we forget Tallulah The Tango Queen. Just do that again, but in midair, and with a different codename nobody will know. AJ notices this slight inhibition however, and calls in Frankie Saturdays to help out. Because yes if there’s one thing I remember about Frankie it was her raw sexuality in the party dances. It’s like when they invited Penny Lancaster back to give us a latin showcase that one time. Frankie and Mollie have a sit down meeting, in which Mollie wails that the salsa is all too much pressure to look hot, and Frankie says the routines where you have to look confident are the worst, because of course, you’re not. Well that and when they try to make you jive on a flying surfboard. She recommends that Mollie let loose and give it the most even in the training room, because “it’s only AJ” and he’s not going to judge her. Says a woman who trained entirely with Kevin Clifton. I’m thinking AJ “please list all the things you just did wrong and then we MIGHT start again” Pritchard may be a little different. Mollie trying to act like Frankie’s words have prompted an epiphany is, of course,
TO THE DANCEFLOOR!
Mollie and AJ are dancing their salsa to “Subeme la Radio” by Enrique Igleasias and I have to say, whilst I find Mollie’s latin endearing, it really is a bit of a mess. She’s taking massive steps, constantly playing it out to the audience rather than AJ, wobbling her arms about like spaghetti strings and wiggling her bum about aimlessly. It’s quite cute but apparently in her head she’s being Beyonce and this is basically a Latavia (not Michelle Williams, no, I don’t want to be that cruel). The routine, as well, is much like last week – a whole bunch of meandering set-up for a load of lifts all vomited out in a hairball clump at the end, including
The HELP MY GET MY SEALION BACK INTO ITS TANK IT’S GIVING BIRTH!
and the OW MY SHOULDER! All one after another, in rapid succession, and getting progressively worse as they go along. They just about manage to salvage that last one into
some sort of an end-pose but even so.
Once they reach Tess, even she asks Mollie if she’s ok after smashing into the floor there, and Mollie affirms that she is indeed still alive, before she, Tess and AJ all share a private joke about how lucky it is that Mollie waxed her bikini line before tonight’s show.
A private joke because literally nobody else in the room laughs. I do love AJ and Mollie dragging Tess into their core of hinky weirdness. Craig starts for the judges, saying that the footwork was awful, and she needed more rotation in her forward and back basics, but he LOVED the lifts, and Darcey follows by saying that she saw balance issues and a lack of spotting, but she also thought the lifts were a massive improvement on last week. Were these people WATCHING those lifts? She whacked into the floor!
Shirley’s next, saying she too loved the lifts (?!) but she felt Mollie’s feet were wrongly placed. She needs to make sure they’re “five-to-one” and not “midnight” in the latin, in terms of their placement. Shirley, Mollie’s feet in that were PERMANENTLY Pimms O’Clock, let’s start on getting her to walk like a sober person. Bruno closes by saying that he admired that Mollie went for it, and particularly the lifts (THE LIFTS WERE TERRIBLE, CAN WE STOP PRAISING THE LIFTS?!) but he thinks her dancing wasn’t fluid enough as she kept on stopping and starting.
Up to Claud 9 they flop, where Mollie talks again about how hard it is to go out and perform like you think you’re really sexy. Weren’t you in a girlband? And not, like, B*witched, frolicking around with your sister in denim in a big happy treehouse, but a girlband who did songs with innuendo about giving head? AJ thanks Mollie for trusting him with the lifts, because he wasn’t even sure himself before they went out there.
And still the Argentine Tango and Charleston to go! Let’s get her head probably bouncing off the floor next time. Scores are in
Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova dancing the Viennese Waltz
Tess reminds us that last week Craig gave Davood a 4 for his samba, because he personally found the bit where Davood mounted the judging table and stuck his bum in his face pandering and unnecessary. Oh sure but if LISA RILEY had done it…
VT time, and Davood, ever the gentleman, asks Nadiya if she enjoyed their samba last week, and also if it was good. Nadiya, rather politically, says that Davood is getting a little better every time. Quite. I guess she IS A World 10-Dance champion, she’s had better (God I wonder if Iveta and Nadiya ever competed against one another, imagine the carnage, Iveta would have had her smacking herself in the back of the head with her own foot whilst yelling “PLEASE TO STOP HITTING YOURSELF WITH YOURSELF!”). Davood then very earnestly speechifies that he knows that they wanted their scores to go up instead of down but he thinks it went really well, especially given the training. Nadiya says “yes”. I feel like Davood wants this a bit too much and Nadiya isn’t quite sure where to go with it.
Training now, and Davood chats about how difficult it is to do the Viennese Waltz when you get motion sickness, like what he does. Makes sense. I’m kind of guarded here because so often they front up like someone’s about to vomit in the Viennese Waltz, and it’s never happened yet. I won’t get fooled again.
Anyway, Davood holds up
a little grey sickness band and it’s all very cute. In fact
two of them. He’s DOUBLY motion sick! In both arms! (Loving how accidentally porny Nadiya is there, the girl can’t help it). Towards the end of the week, he takes the routine into the studio for a dress rehearsal, and there it’s even worse, as he blythely tells us that it was all fine, as he sits sprawled on the balcony steps, clammy, turning green, and blinking faster than Woody Allen. The non-stop contrast between Davood off Strictly (sexy!), on the Strictly dancefloor (aggressively try-hard unsexy!), and in Strictly training (such a hapless sweaty mess that it almost reaches sexy by way of endearment, like a porno that begins with someone bonking their head on a light fixture!) remains my favourite part of the Davood Ghadami Experience.
TO THE GARDEN OF FORBIDDEN LUSTS!
Davood and Nadiya are performing their Viennese Waltz to “Say You Love Me” from the soundtrack to “50 Shades Of Grey”, probably as reference to the colours that Davood’s face turns during this routine. The whole thing is actually, by Nadiya’s standards, not very porny (ie, it’s about the level of a “Hunter Maxx Auditions For Our Produceers” tape rather than anything involving actual penetration) but I still think she should have pushed further and gone for elegance straight up rather than erotic angst and yearning, because
my God the face. It’s like that the whole way through. I’m sure a lot of what’s wrong with this routine is in fact due to the motion sickness – most of it is out of hold and not turning, because if he does too much he’ll throw up, the exaggerated attempt to spot properly in the turns makes his head look unnatural, and the face is like that because he’s constantly on the verge of being pukey-sick all down Nadiya’s top and can’t be properly dramatic. And it’s a shame, because for the first 10 to 15 seconds his Viennese Waltz technique looks really good. But that’s all it lasts for before we get him catching flies and Nadiya rolling around everywhere, including on the floor, like we’re not all over that by this point, trying to distract.
It gets most of a Standing Ovation (which shows what they’re worth, in votes terms), and he stumbles over to Tess to tell her that he’s seeing two of her currently. The horror, the horror. Darcey’s first, saying that she really liked how laser-focused Davood was on Nadiya, and felt it brought something really different to the Viennese Waltz. Most importantly though, she feels like Davood has tamed the beast within him. By making it really really dizzy presumably. Shirley then opens her critique by saying that she couldn’t sleep all week because she saw Davood grinding in her face constantly every time she shut her eyes. To which Nadiya is all
“EXCUSE YOU, HE IS NOT PIECE OF MEAT! THAT WAS FOR BRUNO ONLY! GET YOUR OWN HUNK!”. This week Shirley liked the natural turns into the change step. I doubt she’ll be losing any sleep over them though. Or maybe she will, maybe that’s what really gets ballroom dancers off who can say.
Bruno’s next, all “IBBLE IBBLE SEX SEX” and Craig closes by hauling his Ten Second Rule out again, because it’s Davood’s turn to be slapped round the face with it this week. BAD DAVOOD! Craig also didn’t like the floor spin, and feels like it doesn’t belong in ballroom dances. Again this feels a bit like one rule for one and one rule for everyone else, because I feel like that floor spin has been in at least 75% of all the ballroom routines so far this series. Still, RULES AND STUFF!
Up to Claud 9 they sprint, where Claudia talks to Davood about his little sickness bands, how he’s rapidly and obviously that becoming that one celeb that Craig just doesn’t like, and also
Nadiya’s mumm who is NOT impressed with this nonsense and would like to go home now please, her daughter is a world champion, this is all beneath her. And FRANKLY they’re going to have a long talk about boys, contraception, STDs, and what happens to naughty girls who run around town when they get in. Scores are in
Claudia’s Comedy Prop Interlude Next
Thanks Claudia. (It was a banana skin) (Also if you’re tracking mistakes with names this week, and let’s face it who isn’t, Tess refers to Karen as “Darren” in the intro)
Mollie Hawkins & Brendan Cole dancing the jive
Tess tells us that this week Charlotte’s jive has a wedding theme, so Brenda got down on one knee and popped the question – do you want to shove the cake in Shirley’s face or down her knickers?
VT time, and Charlotte tells us that her tango felt so much better than her cha cha, but she found it so hard to listen to what “the judges” were saying. We then get a ghost clip of Bruno going “toooo mannnny mistaaaaakes” over the top, rather than, say, Shirley, which we all know is where the problem really lies. Really I just want Charlotte and Shirley to sit down and address one another directly, rather than Brenda charging around on his noble steed or everyone pretending it’s about Bruno but that’ll never happen now so ah well.
Training, and Brendan tells Charlotte that as they’re getting married in their routine this week, he reckons they’ll be thinking about their own marriages a lot – his to Mrs Brenda, her to Mark – so why not get Mark into the training room so that they can watch what they’re up to. Mrs Brenda meanwhile can stay home and babysit quite frankly. This
is Mark. He’s very proud of Charlotte and thinks Brenda has done an amazing job teaching her. So far this is all fine. Then Brenda decides he wants to ask Mark for his permission to fake-marry Charlotte as part of the routine.
Please remember that Brenda’s last words are on It Takes Two this week were that this partnership was about to become ALL ABOUT CHARLOTTE, and the focus of their VT this week is HIM asking HER husband’s permission to PRETEND to marry her. Mark then says “in the context of the dance, I think it’s a reasonable idea” like, oh good, I was worried the show was actually suborning real bigamy there. I appreciate this whole thing is Brenda making a point as the new head of the Strictly Standards & Morals department about how Bruno is disrespecting Davood’s marriage by saying he’s sexy, or whatever he was belming on about in the press this week, but could this remove Charlotte’s agency and identity any more as a segment?
TO THE CHAPEL!
Speaking of the sanctity of marriage, not only are Brenda and Charlotte getting married in this routine, but it’s an extremely speedy engagement, as the proposal is also incorporated, with Brenda
sliding down the banister with the ring just like you know he did in real life before
popping the question. Please note this is in fact the least that Brendan’s bum will be sticking out all dance. As for the dance itself, it’s a nice enough note for Charlotte to go out on, just because she genuinely looks like
she’s having fun, not forcing herself to pretend to have it as part of a comeback narrative even she doesn’t really believe. The jive is pretty simple, and it mostly seems to consist of her doing bunny hops, jogging on the spot, doing tiny wee dainty little kicks, or
whatever this is, other than the most literal representation of how Brenda carries every jive off by poking his tush out ever, and it’s not exactly exciting stuff but hey, there’s a minimum of shoving and bundling, and really after the last two weeks that’s all you can expect. It all ends with them
at the altar (yes I have chosen that picture because Brenda has gone full Steptoe), with Charlotte having her veil lifted off and Brenda tossing his bouquet up to Claud 9. We don’t see who catches it, if anyone.
They go over to the judges and oh boy this is going to be awkward. Shirley starts,
with a “welllllllllllllllll” so long and drawn out that I start to think it’s a tactic devised to give Brenda PTSD flashbacks to Lulu. She then calls Charlotte “Mollie”, which is such a silly mistake to make, I mean who would do that? Brenda then
full on breaks the fourth wall, practically mouthing “LOOK! ALRIGHT! LOOK AT ME NOT SAYING ANYTHING! I’M BEING! A GOOD! BOY!”. Shirley tells Charlotte that she took too long to get started, but she did see a nice slip off her standing foot. Whatever that means. She did see lots of little mistakes, but definitely a little bit of an improvement again. Right at this point, Brenda is hyperventilating and
STARING OFF INTO SPACE with the effort of not clapping back. Oh how I’ll miss this. Bruno follows, saying that he liked that it looked like Charlotte was having fun and “participating in the situation”. God that is some good shade. Well done on participating in the situation Charlotte! Bruno goes on to tell her she has fuzzy feet and floppy free arms, but hey at least she’s doing something!
Craig’s next, and he tells Charlotte that it was all very laboured, and she was trying to create the illusion of motion in her kicks and flicks by bobbing her shoulders up and down. Frankly I think she should be rewarded for her ingenuity on that one if anything. Sounds cunning to me. Darcey closes us out by saying that she could see the confidence written all over Charlotte’s face, and it made such a difference. She also admired Charlotte’s tenacity in keeping her kick-ball-changes going for so long. Yes there were quite a few.
Up to Claud 9 they go, where Claudia remenisces with Charlotte about the Launch Show, where Claudia says that Charlotte was smiling all the time…and then the actual show started and the smile vanished. Ah Strictly, ruining lives since 2004. Charlotte grins “I LOVED that dance” just like she always does, and Brenda talks about how energetic training was. It’s the first time he’s expelled sweat since Series 1! With Natasha! Let’s not linger too long on what they might have been doing to cause that, and grab those scores.
Joe McFadden & Katya Jones dancing the cha cha
It really is like Samson isn’t it? Except instead of a long head of lustrous flowing hair, it’s a moustache. Tess introduces the two by telling us that their dance will involve a door, and if it’s not Natalie Lowe bursting through it wielding a suitcase of Scott Maslen’s dirty laundry, I’m not interested.
VT now, and Katya recreates how she sped off on the sled screaming at the end of their Dr Zhivago Viennese Waltz
or at least I hope that’s what she’s recreating. Joe grins to Katya that whatever they did last week, they need to do it again this week. Oops.
Training now and it’s Joe’s birthday, so as a treat Katya has brought him
cupcakes! Look at the blurry printing on that, it’s like when I try to take a screencap of a group routine. Sadly these cupcakes go right to Joe’s tummy, so immediately Katya brings out the weights so he can unleash his inner masc daddy all over the training room.
So butch. So macho. This is also apparently to stop him being too loose and give him more weight to his movement, especially in his upper half, which will help with his hip action. Can’t see any way this backfires, especially given that Joe already veers towards the hunchy. Joe takes Katya’s training regime to heart, and takes a camera home with him so he can show her the evidence later.
God knows how this footage got on there, he was just testing it out, he swears. He sent the footage to Neil instead of you by MISTAKE, your phone numbers got SWITCHED UP, it’s all just one big hilarious misunderstanding, right out of a Frasier. Also long-term blog readers might like to know
he’s actually got a pair of those haunted reindeer antlers that drove Helen George insane inside his HOUSE! Was it him? Was it him all along?
TO THE DOOR!
So I will say now that I don’t think I’ve felt such a palpable loathing from a celeb for a particular dance since the heady days of Gavin spendiing his entire pre-dance VT saying “I HATE the jive” over and over again. The story of the routine is that Katya is a psycho ex-girlfriend of Joe’s who won’t leave him alone so he’s also acting that out, a bit, but THIS is the face he pulls when he’s trying to gee the audience up.
THIS! That is not a gee’ing up face, that’s the face I pull when Simon Rimmer starts dancing. Everything about it just feels leaden and heavy and kind of…itchy? Like he’s wearing a scratchy pullover that’s also full of fleas. I can appreciate that you don’t want to end up like Debbie, twittering about the place on your ballet pointe, but Joe is a very very slight and quite short guy and him flinging his limbs around quite literally like they’ve got weights on the end is always going to look a bit wriggly and tantrummy. Also his stance is so wide it looks like he’s trying to keep balanced on the Tube. It’s fascinating that we’ve been doing two steps forward-two steps back with Joe for the entire first month of the show now, and I’m not sure how much longer we can keep on burning off comedy duffers until I make a decision as to whether he’s actually a good dancer or not. Anyway it all ends with him throwing Katya out
once and for all. Or at least until the next party latin. Let’s hope it’s a while.
It gets a Standing Ovation, although up on Claud 9, Giovanni is giving it full
“…well that was shit” polite golf clapping. Bruno’s face when called on first to comment is also
a picture. He says it was all very frantic, like watching someone trying to keep up with a wildcat, and furthermore tells Joe that his legs were so wide apart that someone could drive a train between them. Well now there’s an offer. Craig agrees that the legs were the problem – Joe didn’t have the action right, so it looked awkward, and a bit like he’d just got off a horse. Well that will happen after someone’s driven a train between your legs believe me.
Darcey’s next, and she liked it! She spends a long time trying to articulate why, and not really managing it, but she liked it! Honest! Shirley rounds us out by saying that she liked the song (You Keep Me Hanging On) but the basic fundamentals of cha cha really weren’t there. Basics like not looking like you’re trying to slough your own skin off in the middle of a bad drug trip.
Up to Claud 9 they run, where Claudia says she feels bad, because Joe had his breakthrough dance last week and Joe says that that’s just life – one week you’re up, the next week you’re down, c’est la vie. And that’s all very admirable but I still think he should at least consider growing the moustache back. Scores are in
Ruth Langsford & Anton du Beke dancing the tango
I’d written down that this was her worst wig yet but that is in fact how they’ve styled her hair, oh well.
VT time, and Ruth and Anton rather sadly discuss how their rumba went wrong, and how Ruth had been hoping for higher scores than she got for her Charleston. In the end, she puts her failure to rise to the occasion down to fear, and not, say, the fact that she had five pounds of genuine horse-hair sat on her head and weighing her down.
Training now, and Anton is on the set of Loose Women, trying to track Ruth down but failing, as she’s too busy flirting with Gino D’Acampo and doing a segment about how men are a right bunch of bastards aren’t they? to rehearse her tango. So he turns to her co-stars
Swedish popstar Robyn, Pinky from Pinky & The Brain, and Worzel Gummidge, for assistance. Sadly they’re more interested in getting dance lessons than helping locate Ruth, so of course it ends up that Ruth walks in on Anton doing the tango with them rather than looking for her.
God bless Denise Van Outen’s comedy instincts that she’s playing this off like they just got caught shagging. A performance right out of Run For Your Wife there. Anyway, Ruth gets “outraged”, Anton calms her down, everything about Ruth’s intro was lame and stilted this week, but I didn’t see Eamonn once, so HOORAY!
TO THE PHANTOM MASK PARTY!
So Eyes Wide Shut then? Nadiya’s influence is spreading. Honestly the start of this routine is really bad. Anton and Ruth just circle around one another flicking their masks up and down at one another for about 20 seconds and it’s almost Pythonesque in how bizarre it is. Fortunately once they get into hold things pick up immensely, as they fair zip around the floor. A little bit independently of one another in terms of what their legs are doing and where Ruth thinks she’s going, but she’s hanging on to Anton tightly enough that it doesn’t really matter, and it’s light years ahead of how ungainly her waltz was. Basically Anton has gone for speed and spinning abaht over technique here, and it all works pretty well, even with Ruth’s head flitting about like he’s following a particularly annoying fly buzzing about her head. It’s so well done that I’ll even allow Anton the one moment where
he choreographs for the sun to quite literally shine out of his arse.
It gets a Standing Ovation, which is only marred a little by the fact that of course the producers cut to Eamonn doing a weird little jig in the audience. I won’t dignify it with a picture. Also marred a little by Anton hooting that he’s dressed in velvet and sweating up a storm, which is an image none of us need. Craig starts for the judges by proclaiming that “THAT’S MORE LIKE IT!” before going on to say that there were a few small problems – the gapping, the left elbow, the right elbow, the knees, the frame, the whole unavoidable ANTON thing that was going on. But other than that, great! Darcey follows by saying that she could see the determination in Ruth’s eyes, but she needs to keep her frame more rigid, because her shoulders were sliding about all other the place.
Shirley’s next, and she bangs the table (to get Brenda’s attention) and tells Ruth that that was a “100% improvement” from last week. So cruel, I love it. 100% is SO much more than “a little”! Bruno closes by yelling that he couldn’t believe it! Ruth didn’t go wrong once!
Yeah, I’m not sure even Ruth’s buying that one Bruno, but nice try. Then this happens.
Bruno and Shirley’s so beautiful.
Up to Claud 9 they go, where Claudia tells Ruth that everyone up there was screaming for her to do well. Well what a nice bunch this year. Claudia then talks with Anton about how he knew tango was going to suit Ruth, and then he rather unfortunately says “this is it, this was her dance”. Oh well, she’s had a good run, now out to the knackers yard with all the rest of them ha ha marvellous, he’s got November booked up for his one nappy change of the year can we get a move on please. Scores are in
Aston Merrygold & Janette Manrara dancing the quickstep
Tess reminds us that last week Aston was top of the leaderboard with his cha cha, and wonders if he can do it again. Fun Fact : the last quickstep to top the leaderboard clean (ie not tied with another dance and not as part of two dance week) was Harry Judd’s. So the answer Tess, is no.
VT now and Janette and Aston agree that their cha cha last week felt amazing. I always feel bad for the dancers who really love and identify with the cha cha. Because literally nobody else cares. We also, because Shirley Ballas crept into the Editing Booth last night with a pair of pinking shears and a bottle of gin, revisit their
pot-stirrer. A lot. Brendan. Aston tells us that he’s been watching videos of Shirley doing “that move” and she’s really good at it. Was Shirley sending these videos to you direct Aston? Do you want to talk to someone in HR?
Training, and Aston tells us that the quickstep is indeed a “quick stepping” dance. No matter how many times a celebrity offers this linguistic insight it never gets old. Like how in an American Smooth you have to smoothly glide across the floor, or that the Argentine Tango originates on the pampas of Argentina, or that you will need to drink a large quantity of rum to get through a rumba. Aston’s chief problem in the quickstep, says Janette, is his frame. Aston tells her that he’s alright when he’s on his own, but when he gets with Janette, that’s when it all goes wrong. Yes, that’s been the story of a few of her partnerships. Janette tells him that there’s only one solution. Visit to a frame making factory? A guest tuutorial from Lisa Riley, Host Of You’ve Been Framed? Doing a comedy weather report because they’re dancing to Mr Blue Sky? MEWWY CWISSMASS JLS dropping into training to promote his new doomed-to-failure solo project and also help out? NO!
ACTUAL PRACTICE! Well that’s boring.
TO THE APARTMENT BLOCK!
The story here is that Aston lives upstairs from Janette, and is always practicing the quickstep to loud music, much to Janette’s annoyance. So she goes round, and he charms her into submission by dancing with her. Yeah, I have noisy upstairs neighbours and…that would not happen. Especially not via quickstep. Unless you can quickstep to The Crazy Frog, maybe Kevin could pull that off, but I’d still not care to watch it. The whole thing is, as you might have expected completely lacking in elegance and really just a lot of running about and occasionally jumping up and down. It’s probably hard to do anything else to Mr Blue Sky, but everything Aston does generally is so febrile and energetic it would have been nice to have a bit of a change of pace from
this overall tone. Especially when you’re dressed all in green and we’ve still got the memory of that trolls dance firmly implanted in our brains – it comes across a bit leprechauny. In the end, Aston’s so charming that Janette ends up coming back to his apartment for
casual hugging. Again, definitely would not happen with my upstairs neighbours.
It gets a standing ovation, and Tess calls them “pocket rockets” (*deep eye-roll*) before reminding us all that so far their scores have gone up every week. And yeah, that’s not going to happen here, as Darcey starts by saying that as much as it was very fast and there were great moments in there, she couldn’t help but be a little disappointed by the footwork, which she thinks has got worse, not better, over the weeks. He was on pigeon toes and constantly flexing his feet. Shirley chimes in to say that she agrees with Darcey – Aston needs to go toe-ball-heel with his feet, just like she does every night with Brenda in her dreams.
Bruno’s next, and says for Aston & Janette, the sky is the limit (specifically a revival of Got To Dance on Sky One with them both as judges), and tells them they moved around the floor like “green lightning”. Is that the racehorse Bruno owns? I can just imagine him in a little jockey cap of a weekend. Craig closes, saying that Aston had flat feet throughout the routine, which made it really “jolty”, although he loved the energy and the agility.
Up to Claud 9 they jig, where Claudia talks about how that was the hardest routine for Aston so far. Out of four. One of which was a cha cha, and the other of which was just Janette flinging herself around the air like Supergran on uppers. Aston agrees that it was indeed hard, and that Janette’s been digging her nails into his shoulder all week. Again Aston, if you need to talk to HR, don’t be afraid. Aston also talks about how he’s been busy preparing for the birth of his child, and how he’s not been sleeping enough because his wife has a new pillow. Claudia zings back all “OH POOR YOU, IS THE WOMAN CARRYING YOUR OFFSPRING AROUND INSIDE HER WOMB INTERRUPTING YOUR EIGHT HOURS A NIGHT?!” and everyone laughs. I do love Claudia sometimes. Scores are in
Simon Rimmer & Karen Clifton dancing the samba
Karen would very much like you to notice that she has two plastic bananas stuck to her head. Remember when she did this exact same gig with Dave Myers? KAREN LIKES FOOD. Tess reminds us that last week Simon’s Toy Story dance had a happy ending, as the jets from Simon’s flight at the end were so powerful they dislodged a poor starling that had got trapped in the orchestra pit, unnoticed. Also he won the dance-off. Somehow. I guess Richard was just that bad
VT now, and Simon tells us that the feeling that swept over him when he was told he was in the dance-off was one of overwhelming calm and tranquility. Are they allowing civilians on Erin Island now, you do surprise me. Karen then talks about how they both kept their dignity and poise intact despite all the setbacks in their routine. This is a woman who’s spent the entire last week of It Takes Two rolling around on the floor making meow noises, deep-throating a banana and talking about how she teaches via biting.
Training now, and most of it is Simon grinding his hips about trying to look sexy, whilst Karen laughs openly at him at how feeble his attempts are and how unsexy he is.
All this then somehow translates into Karen setting up a financial system in which Simon pays her a pound every time he does a samba step wrong, and she gives him a pound every time he’s successfully sexy for her. Isn’t that last one prostitution? I have to say, that if I was anticipating actual factual hooking being used as a training technique in anybody’s rehearsal space it would have been Gorka, based on his Instagram feed alone. But here we are.
TO THE COPACABANA!
Can I just say that I liked this routine far more than everyone else I’ve seen talk about it for five reasons – first because Copacabana is the greatest story song in the Western canon. Secondly, because samba is absolutely my favourite party latin dance to the extent that my standards for it are so low that yes you can dad-dance through it and I’d find it watchable. Thirdly because, frankly, what else has happened so far this evening? Fourthly, because it all begins with yes
an absolte geyser of bananas erupting from Karen Clifton’s anus via the video wall. What an image. And fifthly, she’s wearing absolutely the most skimpy outfit of the series so far, which takes some heat off me for the quiz thingy, becauuse I’d been meaning to check back the first few eps and now I don’t have to bother. It’s this. Anyway, Simon? Dad dancing. Of the grimmest kind. His first move is him literally thrusting his crotch at Karen whilst pointing at it, this is not subtle, this is local cricket club 2am on awards night. His head’s bobbing with the beat, everything somehow becomes a sidestep, there’s pointing, there’s stomping, there’s the long awaited return of the STARFISH, both in
arms out and
arms up variations (RIP Ola Jordan, your choreographical legacy will live forever) and it’s all a mess. But an hour and a quarter into a two hour show?
A fun mess.
It gets a very brief Standing Ovation, before Shirley starts by muttering under breath that Simon made a few mistakes but saying that she wants to congratulate him, because that was almost a full routine of samba basics. Almost. Seriously it’s paining Shirley so much to criticise Simon here that I’m worried that that
nail’s gone right through her cheek bed. Bruno follows by purring that it went down like a pina colada. Yes but did he pay Karen a pound for it? I’m losing track of the balance here. He goes to say that it was more Benidorm than Brazil but he admires Simon’s level of effort. Bruno hun that ASPIRED to the sophistication and elegance of Benidorm. It was positively Lanzarote 1993.
Craig’s next, and says that Simon lost his balance in the promenade runs and it was all a mess from there, which is a shame as he thought Simon had great potential for the samba. Oh no you didn’t Craig, don’t LIE to the man. Darcey closes by saying that it was a “sweet party” rather than a cracker for her, and the only time she sawisolations was when Simon was frantically working his arms. Mercifully at no point during any of these critiques does Karen try to eat one of the bananas.
Up to Claud 9 they go, where Claudia immediately claims she didn’t see any mistakes. Does she ever? Simon says he had so much fun in training this week, and there was so much laughter (chiefly from Karen, at him) and also, did he mention, he’s never danced before, so he just had fun. Scores are in
19. I think if Shirley ever went below a 5 for Simon something would indeed burst.
Mollie Atkinson and Aljaz Skorjanec dancing the paso doble
It’s sometimes hard to tell if Aljaz has eyes at all isn’t it? And for those of you on Judgewatch, Shirley and Darcey are having a perfectly amicable conversation throughout this intro. Shirley probably telling her off for giving Simon a 5 there. Yes, she knows SHE did it as well, but she marks based on technique, Darcey can give any mark she likes because let’s face it, it’s not based on much is it? (Actually at one point Shirley gets REALLY flappy and Darcey has to point out the camera’s still in fact on her and Shirley pulls
“oooh busted” face and Darcey pats her hand, it’s very cute). Oh yeah Gemma. Erm, Tess reminds us that last week Gemma got her highest score of the series so far and wonders if she can do it again this week.
THIS. This is the Aljaz/Gemma dynamic that will have me not mind them winning. Him looning about (as he has been all season for some reason) and her clearing thinking he’s being a dip.
VT time and we are reminded of the saga of
Baloo The Mouse, as Aljaz says it was all one of his favourite weekends ever on Strictly. I really feel, not to be one of those people, that this whole new goofy side Aljaz is spraying everywhere is him getting ready to take being a Fun Dad at a full sprint in a year or so’s time. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST. Gemma says that it was great to do a fun routine, because she personally believes that she has a fun personality that urgently needs to be shown off. I lived through four years of Lisa Hunter so yes, I agree.
Training now and
yes I know it’s tempting Gemma, but keep your hands to yourself, he’s a married man. Training is going fairly well, so Aljaz takes a break to tell Gemma that as their routine is going to take place under the night sky, they should go to an actual observatory to get inspiration.
Gemma clearly thinks this is dumb. DED NORMAL girls don’t need to go to an observatory to be inspired by the night sky Aljaz, they just remember the last time they walked home trollied at 3am with a bag of chips in one hand and a Cherry Tango in the other because they couldn’t afford a taxi because they are so DED NORMAL and HUMBLE. Regardless, Aljaz and Gemma go to the Royal Observatory and Aljaz desperately tries to make something practical and educational out of this by saying that you need to lift your head to look at the stars and ALSO you need to keep your chin up in paso and no, Aljaz, please stop, immediately. He and Gemma look through a telescope and she actually exclaims “IT’S LIKE WE’RE IN A SPACE FILM INT’IT!” and ok I laughed at that one. SO NORMAL. Through the telescope she sees
lights in the sky spelling out the number 10. She thinks this means she’s still a long way from getting one yet. I think it means some air traffic control staff are going to wake up with some questions tomorrow.
TO UNDER THE NIGHT SKY!
Aljaz and Gemma are dancing to “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay, who apparently are Aljaz’s favourite band according to an interview on It Takes Two last week, which sadly seems to have shattered some people’s erotic fantasies of Aljaz. Maybe they all thought he was into Sonic Youth or Neutral Milk Hotel or Wussy or something.
The paso itself is very strong and forceful and not a little majestic, and whilst her skirt swishing is maybe a little bit inelegant, Aljaz actually manages to find a way to put the thing to good use.
Is Gemma’s foot off the floor here Craig? Hmm? Newly appointed Captain Rulebook? You’ll NEVER KNOW! Gemma’s strength on the show was always going to be her muscularity – she’s twisting and striking poses with a lot of force and commitment and whilst it can make her look sometimes a bit
She-Hulk Goes To The Beach, she’s still carrying her build with quite a bit more finesse than Davood. Also
THOSE LEGS. It all ends with the pair of them
literally clapping out confetti, which I am very much in favour of.
It gets a standing ovation, and over at the judges, Bruno starts by telling Gemma that she really is becoming a polished gem. This very much reminds me of the Celebrity Big Brother episode where Nancy Dell’Olio solemnly informed Gemma Collins that her name comes from the Italian for gem. What a wise woman. Bruno goes on to say that her growth, both in terms of performance and technique, really gives him goosebumps. Craig follows, saying that Gemma needs to be sharper and more dynamic and I’m sure other stuff but
Bruno is in the middle of whispering something genuinely filthy in Shirley’s ear, so shush Craig, give me a minute to lipread.
Darcey follows, saying the whole routine was gorgeous and with great shaping, but she has one small note to give – Gemma tends to bury her chin in neck a little bit. Darcey then
points to her chin, just in case Gemma doesn’t know what one is. I guess amongst the circles Darcey moves in you are more likely to regularly encounter the chinless. ALSO can’t believe that trip to the observatory didn’t sort all that out to be honest. Shirley closes by saying that she loved all the flamenco elements and skirt swishing, and believes that Gemma is here for the long haul, because Strictly is not a sprint, but a marathon. Yes especially on weeks like this (CAST FEWER PEOPLE!)
Up to Claud 9 they hurry, where Gemma talks about how hard she’s worked, and Aljaz yells “OLE! repeatedly. Seriously, what has gotten into him this year? Scores are in
Mollie Burke & Gorka Marquez dancing the jive
Is this hair as outrageous as I wanted it to be? Frankly, no.
VT time, and Gorka asks Alexandra for her remenisces of their American Smooth, and Alexandra says it was just magical. It felt like she was walking onto an actual movie set, just her and Gorka. I mean, I’ve thought of myself and Gorka being alone on a type of film set, but not one you’d think of to use as a theme for Movie Night. Unless possibly if you were Nadiya. Alexandra pays tribute to Gorka for being such a great teacher, and says she in fact thinks she couldn’t have done this with anybody else. I mean…I think you probably could have Alexandra. I don’t think you would have been eliminated Week 2 even if the Strictly Sorting Hat had put you in House Anton for some reason.
Training, and apparently Alexandra is scared of the jive. How scared?
THIS SCARED. Why is she this scared? Because the jive requires a lot of stamina (unlike, say, paso doble, notoriously the warm and gentle aquarobics warm-up of the dance world), and she’s not sure if she’s got it. The VT doesn’t say how Alexandra gets over this, but I’m sure there are many ways you could theoretically train with Gorka to build up your stamina. I’m thinking of one right now. Of particular concern to Alexandra is a big move where she swings through Gorka’s legs. Specifically, she’s worried she might accidentally get crushed under the weight of Gorka’s bum. Hang on a minute – just got to go update my big list of ways I’d like to die.
TO THE TINA TURNER TURNPIKE!
So this dance has history, specifically because a jive to Proud Mary is officially what killed Natalie Gumede, the biggest ringer the show has ever seen. The weight of it was so great that it caused her to pass out, and when she came back she’d gone a bit funny and started touching the divine and randomly yelling about vegetables. So it’s comforting to see Alexandra Burke go through the thing at 100mph like a hot knife through butter. It is a PERFORMANCE. Coming
ROARING down the stairs (I love that as a teenager Alexandra saw Beyonce, and decided that she too wanted an alter ego that she activated at the start of every performance, except that where Beyonce had called hers “Sasha Fierce”, which sounds like it would also be the name of a particularly high fashion drag queen or female wrestler, Alexandra called hers “The Beast”, which is also the name of Satan), kicking, wriggling,
feeling her wig fantasy almost as hard as Ruth does every week, sassing, doing the side splits with
the most blow-up doll face she can possibly muster, and frequently putting herself at risk of
imminent death by Gorka’s buttcrack, whilst still at the same time remembering to
enjoy the moment of dancing with him whilst she can. What a woman. It’s a barnstormer of a routine, although not quite a 10 for me for two reasons – firstly she’s a bit sticky where Gorka is pushing her down into the splits and when he pulls her through his legs (as we all would be I think) and secondly they don’t do the Proud Mary arms once. Not once. Don’t do Proud Mary and not do the arms guys, it’s sacrilege.
It gets a lengthy Standing Ovation, and Gorka
pretends to pass out at the sight and at the exhaustion of it all. Don’t joke about it guys. It happened to Natalie, it could happen to you. Craig starts for the judges by saying that he has no idea where that came from – she was out there dancing fit to split the atom. Alexandra’s face of gratitude at this…rather odd compliment is quite something.
Is she off for a job at the Large Hadron Collider? Has she dreamed of being a nuclear physicist since she was a little girl? Is she going to do a dance duet with Brian Cox in the final? Darcey’s next, saying that Alexandra gives all of her energy into the simplest moves, and it results in an all-round amazing performance.
Shirley’s next, hooting that she doesn’t know about PROUD MARY, but she’s now PROUD LEN…oh no, wait, they did actually cross his name out of the script this time, she is PROUD SHIRLEY! She loved the mixture of swing and jive and other than that she’s speechless. Bruno’s next, and tells Alexandra that he once had the honour of working for Tina Turner (I’m sure her pool was never cleaner) (Alexandra’s loud breathy gasp of “DID YOU?! WOW!” to this statement is exactly why I both love her and entirely get why other people, don’t by the way) and he knows that she would have loved that performance, because Tina is more than an artist, she is a force of nature, and as such would definitely *get* Alexandra Burke. Also she got paid residuals for the song.
Up to Claud 9 they roll, where Cladia immediately tells Alexandra that her boyfriend was crying with pride throughout the performance. Alexandra’s boyfriend
does not look like this is the case, and nor does he look like he particularly wants to be discussed and shown on camera. So hi Alexandra’s boyfriend! Alexandra also notices her brother next to him so…there’s some psychological priming of the concepts of family, pride, and crying, if you wanted a little trail of breadcrumbs to follow to the cabin in the woods we’re about to find ourselves at. Alexandra thanks Gorka for being such an amazing teacher and then the scores are in
39. Complete with the coinage of “IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY FOR A 10 FROM SHIRLEY, LIKE REMEMBER WHEN YOU WOULDN’T GIVE JAY A 10 BECAUSE IT WAS WEEK 3 DARCEY AND YOU STILL GET THE DEATH THREATS NOW!”. Although some of that is silent. Because it spoils the rhyme. At this point it looks like catching Claudia’s eye triggers Alexandra off a bit, and she slumps onto Claudia’s shoulder, says something into her ear that’s muffled by the sheer volume of hair she’s carrying, then pulls back weeping that she wishes her mum was still here. Claudia, Gorka, and Aston all fuss around her sweetly (Claudia in particular yelling “WE’RE GOING TO GET YOU TO YOUR BROTHER AND YOUR BOYFRIEND! WE’RE GOING TO GET YOU TO YOUR BROTHER AND YOUR BOYFRIEND RIGHT NOW!” like Alexandra’s just been hauled out of the murder pit from Silence Of The Lambs) and make sure she’s ok, whilst everyone else experiences the
divine awkwardness of being stood two feet away from someone they (I think) like, having intense feelings, on camera, live to the nation, and knowing that they can’t really do anything because it’d interrupt the flow of the show. Ruth in particular looks like someone just threw up two feet away from her on the Night Bus bless her. Poor Alexandra though. It must be hard for her. I may have teared up a bit.
Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse dancing the American Smooth
So what happens here is that Oti is crying, and Darcey is crying, and SHIRLEY is crying, and Tess crashes through them all yelling “WOW WHADDAPERFORMANCE I GOTTA DA GOOSEBUMPS GOOD JOB GIVING HER 10S SHIRL!”. She’s never been the most adaptive presenter has she? Jonnie? Tess reminds us that last week the judges told him to stop sticking his bum out. The killjoys.
VT time, and Oti and Jonnie talk about how hard it is for him as a non-performer to get into character for the dances. Mostly I spent the entire VT
distracted by Oti’s bright bumblebee yellow leggings.
Training, and Oti tells us that her American Smooth for Jonnie will be set in a vintage bar, so Jonnie will need to be able to portray both “cool” and “swag” and also other words that the young people say. Jonnie, being Jonnie, perennial late attender to training and all-round shit not-giver, takes this as an excuse to get so laid back that he becomes horizontal, yawning all over the training room and then falling asleep. Fortunately for Jonnie’s testicles, this is all for a skit, wherein he falls asleep with Darcey’s words about playing a character ringing in his ears, and slips into a dream where
he is a brooding Phillip Marlowe-esque detective and Oti is a femme fatale. This is being filmed in Cahoots in Soho by the way, just in case you think it all looks very cool and swag. Jonnie does a gravelly voiceover about how he knew Oti was trouble when he met her, and then they dance the American Smooth in the bar. At this point the BBC complaints board lights up with gammon-faced Question Time audience members braying that black people didn’t even exist before 1972, not even in dreams, this is LEFTIE BBC TOKENISM PC GONE MAD.
TO THE BAR THAT’S NOT A DREAM!
Another dance here with big shoes to fill, as it’s being performed to the Mickey Bubbles arrangement of “Cry Me A River” just like Kara & Artem’s American Smooth, which probably won the series for them by making Len blow his top for no discernable reason anybody sat at home could make out, giving Kara the woobie energy she needed to edge past Matt Baker. That routine however, did not begin with Kara
mounting Artem with one leg over his neck then throwing herself to the floor like a malfunctioning catapult, nor did one of her other lifts consist of a
walkover sommersault in which Artem supported her in mid air by HOLDING HER SKULL, nor did
jesus christ how is that possible, is her leg made of memory foam? So Oti certainly knows how to differentiate herself from her predecessors. The whole routine in fact is a fine example of one of the core gambling tactics of Strictly – setting your routine very far above your partner’s natural level of performance and technique, hoping they can keep up with the shape of it, and crossing your fingers that the audience will make up the difference in endearment. The connection is great, the Viennese Waltz element is ok, the parts where he’s trying to be a smooth 1920s detective look more like Columbo tottering about going “ONE MORE THING!”. Although Columbo looked
less good taking his mac off, probably. It all ends up with Oti in the spotlight alone as
Jonnie wanders off into the night again.
Another Standing Ovation here, and Darcey starts for the judges by saying that there was so much right about that routine, and she particularly loved the lifts, but she thinks he’s tilting too far forward in hold and it’s spoiling the narrative because it’s making him look like a schlubb in comparison to Oti. I mean…who wouldn’t? Shirley’s next, saying that Jonnie made a lovely attempt at a fleckerl and did some great natural turns, but she found him a bit lumpy in his reverse. She does, however, think he has amazing “per-iph-ee-yul” vision. Shades of when Karen Hardy took on the word “centrifugal” on It Takes Two from a sprint start and still didn’t quite get over it.
Bruno’s next, growling that he really liked it because Jonnie reminded him of Marlon Brando. Oti was moving around in those lifts like her entire body had been lubed up with an entire bar of unsalted butter beforehand yes. Anyway, Bruno thinks Jonnie played the cool dude very well, and Darcey should just naff off. Craig closes by jumping on all this talk of performances by suggesting that Jonnie get himself to an acting coach. Oti’s all
“I’M ALL THE ACTING COACH HE NEEDS, I’VE BEEN IN A PLAY BITCH!”. Can we please at least agree that BARROWMAN is not allowed to climb all over him?
Up to Claud 9 they snooze, where Jonnie pays tribute to Oti’s choreography, and Jonnie pays tribute to the surgeon who saved his life 15 years ago
who looks even less like he wants to be on camera than Alexandra’s boyfriend did. Scores are in
Mollie Calman & Kevin Clifton dancing the quickstep
The return of Glasses Kevin. Sigh. It’s been a while. Tess tells us that they’ll be doing the quickstep to Bring Me Sunshine, and if anyone can bring us sunshine, it’s Susan. Oh do excuse me I appear to have just sicked up in my mouth.
VT time, and Kevin tells Susan that her Wonder Woman routine was some of the most fun he’s ever had on Strictly. Yeah, remember when Kevin tried to get Louise to cosplay as Harley Quinn but she sucked at it because…she was Louise? It was definitely a long delayed nerd fantasy fulfilled there. Susan says that she was just glad that she could make Craig smile, and Kevin frets about how he felt when he and Susan were left til the end to be called safe. Yeah, bit different when you find yourself towards the end of the “in no particular order but it just so happens all the really good people get called early on” bit right from Week 3 isn’t it Kevin?
Training, and Susan tells us that she will be dancing to “Bring Me Sunshine”, which was the first dance at her wedding. But y’know, not as a quickstep, I’m imagining. Once that’s settled, we’re on to the comedy portion of the VT, wherein Susan and Kevin have to catch the sleeper train down to London from Glasgow every week and
zaniness ensues. It’s been a long episode, let’s just get to the routine already yes?
TO THE SUNSHINE!
I feel like this is some sort of attempt to make Susan look dowdy and embarassing, in reference to the big ol’ ham who used to come out at the end of Morecombe & Wise and belt out a tune, so of course it’s the best she’s looked on the show so far. No short fat hairy legs here. OK, so what follows is basically Kevin sticking two fingers up to everyone who’s spent the last three years going “ooooh, but what if Kevin had a duffer, what would he do THEN, I bet he’d be RUBBISH, I bet his MASSIVE EGO couldn’t handle it!” and good for him. It’s a great big goofy romp of comedy, quickstep, and fun, throughout which Susan wears an expression of almost
orgasmic beatitude because of the fun she’s having. It’s perfectly tailored to her abilities (ie she has to stick her arms out about twice max), it covers the floor, it gooses the audience in all the right places, it’s perfectly tailored the show’s core demographic, it is in short, an absolute masterstroke. I’ve not seen him work the public so hard since the glory days of Susanna. Susan does her part as well, keeping the technique tidy and trying her hardest not to look too stumpy in the jumps. It all ends, of course, with the iconic (*drink*)
Morecombe & Wise skip back to the stage.
What a job.
It gets a standing ovation, and a pretty thorough one as well, before Shirley calls it a great way to close the show and congratulates Kevin on his choreography and Susan for keeping her feet moving throughout, although she would have liked her to have lifted her bosom up a little. She doesn’t say “bosom” exactly, but the notion is there. Bruno follows this up by calling Susan a “box of delights” and praising her for really surprising him.
Craig’s next, and tells Susan that she went around the floor like a hellish fiend. I do love that in Craig’s vocabulary “hellish fiend” is a compliment. She says it was her personal best so far, a bar which Susan could proably safely high jump over even in real life. Darcey closes by saying she both wanted to hug Susan and also
blow her as she went around the floor. And people say it’s always the men on this show getting sexually harrassed in a homosexual manner by the judges.
Up to Claud 9 they float, where Claudia dangles (metaphorically) Susan’s parents and wife in front of her and Susan has a good old cry. Scores are in