In which we endure something called “Fairytale Week” and hoped like hell the new Strictly Head Honcho didn’t get any ideas.
Melody & Alex : Melody’s VT this week started with her rather plaintively wondering how she was going to top the headbanger, which pulled her kicking, screaming and weeping to the top of the leaderboard last week. The answer of course is that you can’t top the headbanger, because the headbanger is officially peak Dancing On Ice. It’s being whirled around by your ankle like you’ve got yourself trapped in a giant candyfloss machine, with your head cms away from smashing into the ice, it’s untoppable, it cannot be done (SPOILERS : Saara tried to “top the headbanger” this week, and…well, we’ll get to it), you might as well just do a really nice technical skate, tot up some points, and let your storyline simmer again on a slow-rolling boil, rather than do something stupid so we have to sit through three consecutive VTs of you crying again and Dr Kimberly Wyatt has to up your dosage. Fortunately for Melody, she racked herself hard in the shoulder during the week, which forced a re-choreograph by Alex of everything down to a routine that really should have been sitting at the “placeholder” level in the first place. It’s a THEME WEEK, let the props and costumes do the talking. Anyway, as God intended, Melody did a nice safe skate around pretending to be The Little Mermaid to some bland Emily Sunday song about being underwater because they blew all the Disney budget on the opening number (I am sad to report that Disney did not allow any of the men to take their tops off, what bastards), after which Jason told her she should have “done more mermaidisms”, what a useful judge.
Brian & Alex : You have to expect a certain amount of revisionism with the Fairytales in Fairytale Week, given that this is 2019, and we’re not living by 17th century values any more but I have to say, Alex’s decision to recast Hansel & Gretel as the story of…Hansel getting really horny and trying it on with lots of different girls, and Gretel getting jealous and doing a lot of finger wagging (ON ICE) was certainly bold. She does know that in the original fairytale that they’re brother and sister right? Anyway, no witch here, no gingerbread house, no shoving Jason Gardiner into a great big oven at the end, we were in full comedy Brian McFadden larkabout mode, right down to a whole lot of stumbles and wobbles and a completely botched set of splits at the end. Maybe Brian saw the Injury Porn that featured in more or less everyone else’s VT and decided to create some of his own live on the ice? At least you can’t say he’s not giving his all, especially in a week where most of the lower end of the leaderboard seemed to have given up entirely. Whilst Brian’s skate was a triumph this week (ish, by his standards, I guess), things off the ice were more fraught, as it became sadly clear over the course of the episode that James has abandoned their bromance entirely in favour of shacking up with Wes instead. Facetime’ing Wes, texting Wes, giving Wes’s shoulder a little paternal squeeze, whilst Brian hovered forlornly somewhere near the back in midtable filler hell. Poor man. This is what happens when you have Love Island cast-members on the show, the massive tarts.
Saira & Mark : I know it was Fairytale Week, which was on paper the best possible excuse to get the kids out but…they didn’t need to appear 5 seconds into Saira’s flipping VT, we know she has them, she never stops mentioning them, and they’ve said more on camera at this point than all of the previously eliminated pros combined (apparently there was a Carlotta this year, who knew?). Saira’s fairytale this week was “Cinderella”, and yes we all remember the part in Cinderella where the handsome prince finally has thrust upon him the revelation of Cinderella’s true identity as a humble scullery maid when, after a long and exhaustive search of the kingdom, he turns up at her father’s cottage and she…takes her coat off. At any rate Saira seemed bizarrely happy to be Cinderella (I was never a little girl, did any little girl ever want to be Cindrella? I know she was the…least crap of the old old school Disney princesses but still) I guess because focusing on the trappings of a Theme Week allowed her to completely ignore the judges exhortations of the week before to skate on her own ever. Forget the skating Phil, forget the Judges Challenge, she was living out the dream of wearing a £15.99 blue Party City princess dress! Even her Injury Porn in her VT was dinky petite falls because she refused to commit to letting go of Mark without wailing her head off. The ultimate ignominy came when Dean got the stopwatch out and spreadsheeted up that she’d somehow contrived to do a lift every 18 seconds. Can you imagine? Having Christopher Dean do numbers at you to shame you, my cheeks would be red for the rest of my life. The improvement of last week seems so far away now. Ah well, she skated third, so she’s gone now, and so are her kids (probably, nothing against them personally, but if they pop up to support Uncle Brian next week I’m flipping this show off entirely).
Wes & Vanessa : Well, after Melody successfully pulled the headbanger off, the show officially got drunk off its arse and decided it was Wes’s turn. Because after you pushed the blessed thing on a celeb one week after they did their sloppiest and most disjointed routine yet, and nobody died, why not see if you can get away with it again? Not even Wes’s knee collapsing mid-week in training could put them off, as he went out dressed as Peter Pan (is Peter Pan a fairytale? Really? I’m not convinced), determined to make his Wendy FLY. If Wendy flew like a one legged pigeon buffeting around a bypass flyover admittedly, but Vanessa got airborne none-the-less. This did all end up inevitably feel like a precursor to James doing it much better in two to three weeks time, but hey, as Sam Matterface told us all on voiceover, Wes managed to get it up a whole two weeks earlier than Jake Quackenbush did last year, that’s the main thing. Wes’s triumph with the headbanger also led this week to an event that I absolutely hope doesn’t become a thing – the Dean Handshake. It’s a bit like the Hollywood Handshake, but he has to awkwardly clamber out from behind a desk first. As I implied, I don’t think it’ll catch on. Outside of the Headbanger the rest of the routine was typical Wes – imprecise but enthusiastic but again, he still feels like the only real realistic alternative to a James win, so I’m sure he’ll be bigged up a while yet.
Gemma & Matt : Now you can’t say that Gemma Collins isn’t economical, she managed to carve a whole extra week of drama out of that faceplant (now rebranded as The Fall, like she’s in Paradise Lost or something, and yes very much everyone said it like it was capitalised, yes). Gemma returned this week tentative, bruised, and awkward, and skated through a routine that involved minimal effort, next to no skating, and barely any more theatrical commitment. It says a lot about Gemma’s presence in the competition that the most committed she seemed all week was during the opening voiceover she recorded where she recast “Look What You Made Me Do” as the storyline of her own villainous alter-ego “The GC”. Everyone gave Gemma tentative praise and coo’d understandingly over how they were entirely sympathetic over her putting less effort in this week for fear of falling over again, like she didn’t do exactly the same thing a couple of weeks ago, not because of any fall, but because she couldn’t be arsed. At any rate, one positive came of this week, in that Gemma declared that she and Jason were now friends and Jason huffed “I WOULDN’T GO THAT FAR!”, so I’m guessing that lawsuit is back on. HOW DARE SHE VICIOUSLY SLANDER HIM LIKE THAT? IT ALMOST MADE HIM SOUND LIKE A COMPLETE PHONY OR SOMETHING!
Jane & Sylvain : Well you finally did it Dancing On Ice. You finally pushed Jane Danson so hard to show personality that she up and nearly died on you during rehearsals. The combined force of a cheapo depot rainbow unicorn outfit and Freddie Mercury wailing “It’s A Kind Of Magic” and some very outre choreography were just too much for Jane Danson’s system, and she shut down entirely in the middle of her training rink, doing a full Natalie Gumede and passing out extravagantly (well, as extravagantly as Jane Danson ever does anything) flat on the floor. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY. My favourite Injury Porn moment of the week being when Sylvain was asked to sell this like he cared, and you could almost see him checking out a hot nurse wandering behind the camera mid-interview before wandering off to double-check that he’d still get paid in full for the series if Jane died. Unlike Natalie Gumede, Jane didn’t get a bye (despite her VT ending with her literally being carried away unconscious on a sled), and instead had to drag herself grimly around the ice like a hungover kids party entertainer, to middling scores. Who would have thought that Fairytale Week would be such a harrowing affair?
Saara & Hamish : So, how DO you try to top the Headbanger then? Well, if you’re Saara Aalto, running on the fumes of desperation after an unexpected skate-off appearance, you do it via a lift that features you going full starfish ON TOP OF YOUR PARTNER’S HEAD, flying around hands-free like his hair’s made of velcro. The fairytale here being Pinocchio, which allowed further for a lot of sub-Faye Tozer twitting around with strings and drawn on puppet faces to Sandy Shaw, but with only 50% of her raw demonic lunacy. Don’t try to come for Faye’s crown Saara, it’s not going to happen, you’ll never be that crazy. Saara also clearly took on the judges advice with regards to how to try to recapture that old magic she had before hitting the skate-off this week, although sadly it was the bit about her skating better going backwards than she does going forwards, not the bit about belting out every song herself like she was trying to exorcise her own lungs. As such, the routine all felt a bit clunky and awkward rather than purposeful and fully-realised, oh well. I did notice that Saara had an adorable floofy dog with her in her VT, and if she wants to get truly desperate might I suggest incorporating him into the routine? It’d be something new for Props Week at any rate.
Ryan & Brandee : Was there any more depressing sight this week than Brandee sighing sadly to camera that after Ryan wrecked his groin last week, they’re completely back to Square 1? And then him amply demonstrating this by skating (with a Jack & The Beanstalk theme) pretty much exactly as well as he skated in his first skate, and then reprised his Save Me Skate, if anything worse than the last time he did it to dispatch Mark Little? It all felt a bit like Ryan hadn’t so much overextended his nethers, but suffered reterograde amnesia from a severe bump to the noggin. And so we find ourselves halfway through the competition, with Ryan a month behind everyone else progress wise (…well, apart from Gemma, obviously) and no real public vote in sight. I guess things could be worse? The way things are going they’ll probably give him the headbanger next week, try to jumpstart him that way.
James & Alex : I’ll give him this – if you’d told me before this series that the words “James Jordan”, “enormous arse” and “unwanted distraction” would all feature in the same sentence this series, I wouldn’t have envisioned them arrayed in quite this arrangement. Probably the one unalloyed triumph of Fairytale Week, this week James assayed classical ballet for this week’s routine, which necessitated ballet tights, with the attendant erm…well it was ridiculous. Ladies and gentlemen, there was extensive crackshadow, let’s put it that way and leave it at that (It of course absolutely did not necessitate James wearing a LOL pink frilly tutu in his VT, but LOL they did it anyway because LOL). Before the routine (themed around Sleeping Beauty) James of course gave it the full spiel about how he was miles out of his comfort zone because he is an EARTHY LATIN DANCER, not a wafty contemporary/ballet type, it’s tooooooootally different, for surrrrre. In a week when everyone else was stalling out, not trying, coasting, or repeatedly smashing various body parts into the ice in training until what was left of their routine was skating around nicely in a circle, I was glad for the raw ringerdom, he could have come out and done cha cha on ice to Let’s Get Loud for all I cared. Now send Brian McFadden some chocolates and supermarket whiskey to say sorry for ditching him so cruelly.
1. Didi Conn – Week 3 : A Spoonful Of Sugar