In which the very real emergence of The GC masks that pretty much all of the rest of the cast are falling apart in one way or another.
Didi & Lukasz : Well maybe apart from Didi Conn, who has made an entire life out of stretching one bit-part thinner than tracing paper, and isn’t about to be broken by no goddamn reality tv show. Rather than haul Frenchy out of mothballs again, for Musicals Week, Didi decided to assay the role of Mary Poppins, and augmented her performance with two adorable skating moppets, an umbrella to cling on to as a safety rail as Lukasz tugged her around the ice, and most bizarrely off all, a pole that she descended to the dancefloor swinging from, like Mary Poppins had decided to adapt to the service economy of the 21st century in a most unexpected way. Theme Weeks are always a good excuse to mask your performance with business upon business upon business and Didi certainly did that, lip-sync’ing for her life the whole time (and how was she to know that she would be surpassed by a Finnish superstar in a few skates time?) and prompting Phillip Schofield to gush that she JUST GOT HER BEST SCORE SO FAR AND IS IMPROVING WEEK ON WEEK. After only having skated twice, admittedly, but progress is progress. Sadly, it wasn’t a complete triumph for Didi as whilst she won higher marks she was still the first to fail tonight’s JUDGES CHALLENGE! (doing some spins and stuff)
Jane & Sylvain : God, I know that there’s bound to be some repetition when shows…pay homage to one another’s theme weeks like they do, but it was literally only 51 days ago that I watched Stacey Dooley, as the presumptive winner of Strictly Come Dancing 16, perform to “I Dreamed A Dream” and gush about how much she loved FONTEEEEEEEEEEEEEN, I didn’t need to be watching this year’s presumptive winner (I know, I know, she’s not very good, but she’s in Corrie and I honestly don’t know where anyone else’s votes are coming from, James could win I guess?) doing the exact same thing with knobs on ON ICE. And of course once we’d all settled down and got over our own opinions as to whether Stacey’s grinning desperately mid-performance was appropriate or not, Jason had to rip the stitches on the Fan Warz wound open and accuse Jane of not recognising the true solemnity, sorrow, and truthiness of Miserable Les? As she stood there weeping and transformed by the power of the THEATRE by her own skating? Thanks a lot Jason. Again. Can we just congratulate her on successfully passing the TRIAL OF THE SPINS and agree that Sylvain looked hot as Jean Claude Van Jean or whatever his name is?
Richard & Carlotta : OK, so if we’re making Strictly parallels, given that everyone was convinced that Charles Venn was cast as a last-minute Richard Blackwood replacement (and let’s reflect on which show got the better end of that trade-off for a minute) can I point out in these days of Mum Fatigue, it clearly isn’t enough to have your mum show up and fuss over you and crack wise about just wanting to make sure you’re well fed? We did the whole “let’s imagine Richard Blackwood as a teenager” thing last week, we didn’t need to revisit it here. Charles’ mum telling him his dress rehearsal was crap and he only deserved a 3 might not have won him any more votes, but it was at least funny. Richard drew a number of crappy cards out of the deck here beyond an inept playing of The Mum – a poor performance slot, indifferent marks, a FAILURE in the Judges Challenge, and the misfortune to pull out a routine from a musical (Jersey Boys) with pretty much no narrative. And we all know how people on this show love a narrative. Ultimately it came across as so much wobbling round to music, and if not even Judge Rinder can get Jersey Boys over, I’m not sure what you can expect Richard Blackwood to do. Once in the skate-off, his Save Me Skate came across like Carlotta thought she had a few more weeks of polishing in hand before she would have to use it, and so off he went. Eastenders stars on this show, right? Why do they bother?
Saara & Hamish : We’ve talked before on this blog about people dancing or skating to their own songs on these shows. It rarely happens (and never on Strictly) but when it does, contestants mostly manage to walk the fine line between it coming across as a fun reference to someone’s claim to fame, and pure glamorous overblown terrifying narcissism. And so this week, Saara Aalto saw that line and snow-ploughed over it, not only going into the recording studio to lay down a track (Let It Go) for her to skate to, but also then SINGING OVER IT LIVE, WHILST SHE SKATED. Layers upon layers upon layers upon layers. She’s got chutzpah, I’ll give her that much. Was this a plan more to push Saara’s singing career forward OR was it principally to make the judges forget that their chosen choreographical pariah Hamish Gaman was present? Whatever it was, it worked, as she saw the biggest score increase week on week. Admittedly that’s not saying a lot in this week when everyone else was stumbling and flailing all over the place, but will you ever forget the demented glint in her eye as she bellowed “LET IT GO! LET IT GO!” down the camera in stereo surround sound as she skated backwards I’m not sure I will. And she DID THE SPINS!
Brian & Alex : Well we kept the lid on the Brian McFadden Comedy Roadshow actually bleeding out onto the ice (at least the intentional stuff rather than Brian skating around with the posture of Gru from Despicable Me) for one whole week, but we were never going to make it through Musical Week unscathed were we? Away went the Barry Manilow ballads, and out came the Bugsy Malone, and the attendant grabbing your dick (ON ICE!), pulling funny faces and making honky honky noises as you drive your partner around the ice like a race car. All this effort left Brian quite dishevelled, as he was forced to have a Stephanie Beacham Memorial Nice Sit Down after the routine was done (YOU’LL NEVER BE STEPHANIE BEACHAM BRIAN, KNOW THAT). Oh and if you didn’t feel sorry enough for Alex having to be stuck with these wacky funtime madcap antics for the next five weeks (ish?), Brian nearly powerbombed her through the ice mid-routine and didn’t seem that bothered about it. To the extent that Jason had to very solemnly tell Brian that, speaking as a member of the dance and theatre communities both, he really felt like Brian should know that it is an inviolate rule of the performing arts that one never walks away from a lift before it is finished. You live and learn don’t you? “Maybe don’t just walk off whilst suspending your partner upside down in mid-air by the vagina”? Makes sense when you think of it.
James & Alexandra : Now I have to admit, call me unprofessional, but I missed most of James’s VT because I was too busy reliving this amazing moment of the history of the American Music Awards because someone posted it on twitter
If you skip to the end, you’ll witness Melody busting out of the dressing room which Nicole Scherzinger had locked her in backstage and ad-libbing over the top of her in revenge. The very end. Isn’t that more fun than James saying “I’m gonna have to work twice as hard to stay at the top of the leaderboard this week!” or whatever happened? Outside of his VT This week James got to live out a fantasy he never got to perform on Strictly – PHANTOM OF THE OPERA! Skating around with a face mask was always asking for trouble (although again, as with Didi and Saara, James was about to be fatally outdone in a couple of routines time) and so it was that James completely botched the end of the routine and could only finish (*gasp*) second on the leaderboard. His potential for a Ray Quinn/Jake Quackenbush style Perfect Game undone already, oh no! Jason then made a big to-do about how Alexandra had played it too safe with the choreography and James had played it too safe with his acting but…if you play it safe and almost fall over twice and can still be every single judges second favourite of the night what’s the point in pushing yourself really? At least he DID THE SPINS! I guess
Saira & Mark : If Richard’s VT this week was all about his mum, then Saira’s was all about her kids (gee, both people who hauled their cutesy relative out were in the Bottom 2, maybe everyone’s over it now, do you think?) as her entire VT focused on her taking her daughter to a skating rink and rehearsing with her, whilst pinching her cheeks hard between takes and hissing “BE CUTER!” probably. In fact, Saira is so focused on her kids that’s she’s spent her time on Loose Women this week complaining about how AWFUL it was for her kids to have to see GEMMA AND JASON YELLING AT ONE ANOTHER and these scenes aren’t a dignified or proper use of primetime tv (I feel like Saira should maybe sit a little lower on that high horse given that she willingly did Celebrity Big Brother. I’d hate to think “YOU’RE A BRAT!” and “STOP SELLING STORIES ON MAY!” is the height of horror but it’s fine to take a pay-cheque from a show broadcasting people spitting in one another’s food, throwing plates at one another, and spreading AIDS libel I’m sure). Anyway, as with last week, Saira pootled about (this week dressed as Nancy from Oliver!) indifferently enough and the judges were less apt to pretend that this was really exciting and inspirational, probably because they saw the public vote results after last week and realised the Loose Women vote isn’t really going to mobilise for Saira Khan of all people. Especially when she DID NOT DO THE SPINS.
Ryan & Brandee : Let’s get the Strictly connection over with quickly – Graeme Swann turned up in Ryan’s VT this week, fresh from the tour rehearsals, and basically told him that there’ll be no getting the stink of the dance-off/skate-off off him now and he might as well just go with it until his inevitable elimination (*thumbs up to camera*). He was not in his pants. Anyway, this was the last we saw of Graeme this week, and indeed the last we saw of Ryan, as he was promptly buried under the most latex I’ve ever seen a person wear on one of these shows to play The Beast from Beauty &…well The Beast. What was left was barely even recognisable as a face, and this is without the sheer weight of pubic shavings that had been sewn into what is already a substantial mane of hair on top of Ryan. From what I can tell, what was going on underneath Latex Mountain was a marked improvement on what he did last week and almost…dare I say, quite romantic? Now maybe have him do a routine next week where he’s not dressed as Bacofoil or a camera that’s melted into one of Cher’s wigs and we’ll be golden! (Sadly I don’t think it was recorded whether he managed to DO THE SPINS, maybe let me know in the comments section)
Wes & Vanessa : Never let it be said that the judges miss a trick here, as they saw the storyline potential of James screwing up his ending, and pounced, motoring Wes to the top of the leaderboard in his stead off the back of a very sloppy routine to “You Can’t Stop The Beat” (although, again, as with Didi and Saara, and James and Ryan, this frontrunner sloppiness was to be surpassed in a few routines time…) with some bonus Love Island Promotional Project points and the benediction of Richard Blackwood (what an honour) as he passed away from Dancing On Ice. This, combined with a very “NEVER DANCED (or skated) BEFORE” VT where Wes repeated over and over that he is just a humble nuclear engineer rather than a showbiz type makes me think that he’s probably the producers’ story-boarded winner of the series if the audience go for a JURNEE candidate (although they never do really, not on Dancing On Ice). Unfortunately if that’s their aim they’ll probably have to deal at some point with the elephant who wasn’t in the room, as Megan (of “Wes & Megan” fame) spent the entire week on social media calling Vanessa a man-teef, or at least someone pretending to be one for publicity, and generally taking a hatchet to Wes’s chances of becoming an ITV family favourite off the back of the show like Lovely Kem has. EVEN MATT EVERS GOT INVOLVED. Anyway, Megan apparently took a huffty and didn’t turn up this week and was replaced on audience support duties by the two least popular men in the Love Island cast. Get Jack and Dani on speed-dial stat! The likeability meter is falling fast!
Gemma & Matt : Well they got what they paid for I guess. After a VT that talked about the horrible week that Gemma had in the press via the medium of one (1) swirling Daily Mail online headline about her being a diva, and then otherwise focused on Gemma and Matt lounging around in unicorn onesies, The GC came out and winged the whole of her performance to “Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend”, skating around aimlessly, clinging to Matt, or Lukasz, or Mark, or whichever backing skater was nearest, with them all talking her through the “routine” as she went, all with her dressed as a blown-out Marilyn Monroe. Then all the judges chided her for not training and then Gemma said she agreed and that the reason she hadn’t trained was COZ JASON SOLD STORIES ON HER TO THE PRESS AND SHE COULDN’T BE BOVVERED NO MORE and then Jason denied it and around we go for another week I guess? Turns out I find Gemma being an awful lazy unprofessional nightmare entertaining in every context other than it making me have to contemplate Jason Bloody Gardiner more, who knew? Needless to say she DID NOT DO THE SPINS.
Melody & Alex : Do we think Kimberly Wyatt was the one who had to play therapist when the Pussycat Dolls were still a going concern? Because every reality show I watch featuring a Pussycat Doll I end up respecting her more and more. Here she was this week, patting Melody on the wrist and talking her through how this is Melody’s time to shine after never being allowed to sing lead in the Pussycat Dolls (presumably because Nicole kept on locking her in dressing rooms?). Does Kimberly Wyatt have a life of her own? Does she get 5 minutes into a recording session for a new solo album and than Karmit calls her up and complains that nobody’s guessing that she’s one of the Masked Singers and does that mean EVERYONE’S FORGOTTEN HER?! Justice for Kimberly Wyatt! Let this woman live! Anyway, Melody was full on bawling about 10 seconds into her VT about artistic pressures and then made a complete hash out of her entire West Side Story themed routine, particularly the lifts, right down to that classic dancing show FUBAR – the endpose that comes after a full three seconds or so of standing stock still because you’ve reached the end of the routine too early. Now can we stop demanding she do a headbanger? Not even my drama loving soul needs to see that. (She did, however, manage to DO THE SPINS, so we close here on some sort of high point)
Qualified Dances So Far