In which the gap between the contenders and the chasing pack becomes a chasm.
James & Alexandra : And so, as we enter the second half of the competition, the reasons why James Jordan totally isn’t a total ringer continue to evolve and mutate. We’ve passed through “I’ve not danced ON ICE”, “I get stage fright” and “I’m not specifically trained in ballet” and have now arrived on “I’m dead old me”. Indeed, at the advanced age of 40, James Jordan is apparently now carrying a lot of bumps and bruises and creaks in his bones, and this DEFINITELY wasn’t just an excuse to get him topless in an ice bath in order to give the voting audience a bit of a frisson in their lower portions. Definitely not. James’ advancing years also expressed themselves in his routine this week, as he swooped about elegantly to Calum Scott’s moribund version of “Dancing On My Own”, making three out of his last four performances to ballads or waltzes or other sweeping sort of songs. A bit more pep wouldn’t go amiss, although I am piqued a little by him whining to Wes that they hadn’t let him do a Headbanger yet, we can all feel it coming can’t we? James Jordan’s competitive nature resulting in him whirling Alexandra around like an Olympic hammer thrower before sending her flying into the Friends & Family section and t-boning Arg From Towie? Additionally this week we saw the first delicious green shoots of bitchiness between him and Jason, as the latter chided him for not getting his leg up in a spiral like a real ballet dancer would, and James snitted under his breath that he’s not a ballet dancer though is he mate he’s a ballroom dancer. In this post Gemma world, Jason’s gonna need a new punching bag and who better to target than the old man of the group?
Ryan & Brandee : Hey, remember two weeks ago, when Ryan yanked his crotch and had to miss a week? Have you spent the last fourteen days wondering what his routine from that week would have looked like, lost in reverie at the possibility it was a classic routine lost forever to injury like Natalie Gumede’s Proud Mary Jive? What do you mean, no? Well you were sitting through it tonight, whether you liked it or not. ITV paid for the music rights to Baggy Trousers damnit, and they’re using it. Fortunately for Ryan, the choreography mostly seemed to be pratting around pretending to almost fall over and thumbing one’s nose at all and sundry, so there was no real danger he had forgotten it in the interim. Which is a good job, because apparently he didn’t bother training at all this week, for fear of wrecking his groin again, and instead just sat in his living room rubbing his World Cup Winner Medal (only at Twenty20 not proper cricket, don’t get excited) for good luck. This complete lack of commitment, and his accompanying complete lack of audience vote might lead you to expect the show would finally ditch him, at the third opportunity but no, he ended up against GEMMA of all people in the skate-off, which means he sails on to next week’s Double Elimination Week to put on what feels like it’s going to be the most redundant pair of performances in Dancing On Ice history. I can’t wait.
Jane & Sylvain : Never let it be said that ITV aren’t a classy outfit. In case you missed Jane’s exhausted contorted dead-eyed faint last week, they gave us all the opportunity to relive it in VT form. From two different angles. In super-slow-motion. With little 6 Million Dollar Man style vapour trails coming off Jane as she hit the deck. Sadly though they were unable to find an angle from which it looked like Sylvain gave a shit. So Gallic! So phlegmatic! Once she came to, Jane was attended to by her husband and kids and her mum and her dad watching on from heaven apparently (like I said, ITV) and just about managed to put herself together long enough to roll around on top of a giant piano in a scarlet dress, to Rihanna, in the latest attempt to make it look, by hook or by crook, that she’s having a good time. Kudos in particular to Jane for giving her best to this week’s “Triple S Challenge” which apparently is not, as I would understand it “shit, shower, shave” (although James’ VT did get close) but “spin, spiral, salcho”, andby “gave her best” I mean she did one of the three elements and looked like she was trying to kick her boot off without undoing the laces first whilst she did so. May the Corrie vote never let up, and let’s get the faint from ceiling-cam next time. Maybe in black and white with dramatic string accompaniment, make it look like Roma.
Melody & Alex : By contrast, Melody’s nervous system really seems to have settled down now right? Remember those first few weeks when she spent the entire time crying and hyperventilating? Now she can blythely talk about the difficulties inherent in getting a mid-tempo piece of music (“Somethin’ Stupid”) (the “Somethin’ Stupid” being said in this case apparently being “why yes Vicky Gill, I think the IDEAL outfit to wear for a routine about a sophisticated evening in Paris is a figure hugging green swimsuit, with paper flowers all over my bosom and the valance from a Holiday Inn bed staple-gunned to my fanny”) without having a complete nervous breakdown or anything. Who knows what has led to this change of attitude – is it growing confidence in her solo skating (which is apparently now the best in the competition)? Is it Alex getting tough with her (not that tough obviously because he’s still a dead relatable Northern lad Kevin Clifton Kevin Clifton Kevin Clifton)? Is it the fact that she watched Saara Aalto drop through the trapdoor into the skate-off first and therefore is less a-feared of getting Ashley Roberts’d? Whatever it is, she seems at peace. Now if she could sort her wanton gurning out, we’d be set.
Brian & Alex : Poor Brian, skating on in this post James Jordan bromance world, watching sadly through the window as they frolic through one another’s VTs, leaving him with only a fairly bland one about back pain and not being able to stand up from the sofa any more without making one of those “ooft” noises. (Please note, Brian McFadden did NOT have a topless ice bath to soothe his ills, either James got custody of it in the bromance divorce or the producers took pity on us all). This week his routine was industrially themed and set to “Believer” by Imagine Dragons, which meant that Brian was giving his best stern burly steelworker, and Alex was busy auditioning for Flashdance just in case anyone in the West End is planning on putting that on any time soon. On or off ice. As a skating presence, Brian still currently exists in the competition mostly for Wes fans to point to and say “see, he could be sloppier!”. Stumbles, trips, and yet another lift where he flapjacked Alex down on her bum well before time at the end. The enthusiasm and commitment have come a long way since he was wheeled around looking like Grimly Fiendish ; the technique, not so much.
Gemma & Matt : And so our long national nightmare is over, and we have all been let free of Gemma Collins, just as she ran out of stunts, making it a blessing for us all. And nothing became Gemma in this competition as much as the leaving of it, as we got moment after moment in her dying moments. Telling Phillip she was never going to skate again, admitting that she was making her Save Me Skate up as she went along, promising Matt she was going to buy him whatever Gucci bag he wanted as a treat, insisting to everyone who would listen that she was glad to be able leave with her dignity intact (…) and best of all Matt noisily announcing that he was off on holiday as soon the show went off air. Nothing before that really registered, with Matt delving not particularly deeply into N*Sync choreography at quarter-speed for her routine to “Survivor”, and the producers putting out a VT for her that was almost entirely footage of her lounging around in a health spa flagrantly not doing anything that looked remotely like training. Almost as though they were trying to tell us, almost subliminally, that they were all out of ideas and could we let her go now. Please.
Wes & Vanessa : As if the warmth of his friendship wasn’t enough, Wes snaring James Jordan into being his bromance partner paid dividends here, as James coached him through the technicalities of the salsa elements of his Despacito routine this week. And did a better job of it than he did with Denise Van Outen, thankfully. I wonder if Brian could have benefited from James’ instruction at his training rink as to how to lift his partner without dumping her on her arse, I guess we’ll never know *sigh*. If the last two weeks showed what Wes could do unmoored from Megan in a romantic sense, then this week saw him turn the heat up and get…moderately saucy, with lots of wiggling hips and gyrations, as much as you can wiggle your hips on ice without doing yourself a damage. After the routine the seeds were set here for the end-game between James and Wes, as the judges chided Wes for trying to pack too much into his routine and being over-ambitious, referencing as a counterpoint how James sometimes plays his routines too safe and doesn’t push himself far enough. Where this ends up who knows, although historically audiences do tend to go for one more than the other.
Saara & Hamish : Poor Saara. As a reality tv veteran she has to know the power of the Pimp Slot, and everything about her VT suggested that she had led herself to think this was it, this was the week when she was going to breakthrough. There she was, doing a routine to a John Lewis’d version of “Dancing In The Dark” (not twice in one week with this guys, no, not when there’s only 8 people left, not this many dirges), pared down to highlight the technical quality of her skating, with Hamish in a satiny peach blouson, coming back from a week where she smacked her head into the floor only two minutes before having to go out on the ice. Surely this was it right? Sadly though, Jayne and Jordan in particular weren’t feeling it in her leg lines, and sent her away to try to find a way to get her insanely cute floofy pocket lapdog even more front and centre in her VT. She’s really going to have to go hard to get out of that Bottom Three next week, maybe stick him on a little unicycle? Wearing a little top hat? And a bow tie?
1. Didi Conn – Week 3 : A Spoonful Of Sugar
2. Saira Khan – Week 4 : Total Eclipse Of The Heart