Strictly Come Dancing 17 – Week 11 Performance

So now we know why Michelle was bussed. Craig didn’t want to risk her judging his drag.

Last week : do you want to just…not talk about it? Maybe we should do that. At the start BRUNO SANG, at the end Saffron got eliminated, I was more or less in favour of both of those events, all things considered, let’s just forget everything that happened in the middle. It was all a rich tapestry of dance.

This week :

someone in the editing suite’s been at the Pernod again.


Oooh, their names up in lights. And in the case of Kelvin and Oti…cowboy font. I guess there are only so many visual effects.

To the studio where we open on a shot of

Strictly Square, with most of our pros hustling and bustling around in period costume, including Janette

going the extra mile to make sure her umbrella covers both herself and her Aljaz, what a team. Most of our pros other than Anton and Kevin that is, who are backstage sucking on their lozenges and preparing to go out there and sing

SING, DAMNIT. They start off with “Put On Your Sunday Clothes”, not one of the songs I’m most familiar with from Hello Dolly (ie, it’s not “Hello Dolly”) and bless Anton, but it’s very much a singing voice for character roles. He and Kevin trade a couple of lines a-piece before the regular singers swoop in vocally to bolster them and then we get a minor production number, all whirling around and “LOOK AT THE KINGDOM I AM BEQUEATHING TO YOU MY SON” until

Motsi and Shirley EMERGE, as their love interests. Can you imagine, Shirley as Anton’s love interest when only a few weeks ago she all but went at him with a screwdriver mid-critique

it’s been a rollercoaster this year it really has (also the image of Kevin drowning in Motsi’s embonpoint is positively Alan Bennett). They then do some waltzing to “Dancing” and goodness me there’s nothing like Musicals Week for reminding you just how many musicals there are in the world that you don’t really like, is there? After this, of course, it’s time for “Hello Dolly!” itself, which can mean only one thing

that’s right, it’s Craig, done up to the nines, stood on a giant wedding cake, nose contoured so that he looks like a lady raccoon, belting it out with a brassy catch in his voice to make him sound more feminine but which makes him sound like a half-hearted Cilla Black impersonator.

It’s no Bruno Sings, I’m sorry, they tried, it was fun, a mid-table pro dance production number, maybe slightly higher, but no.

Everyone clears off, and our hosts emerge and

such bad luck for both of their dresses to have fallen into the paper shredder in the same week, it really is. They welcome us to MEWSICUWS Week, and thank Bill Deamer for choreographing that opening routine. I have missed Bill’s influence in the charlestons this year, he always gives it the full MT, even if the end result is an uncanny rampaging army of Helen George clones. Meanwhile from the audience

Chucky Venice and Faye Tozer watch on from the front row, with Katie Derham peaking out from behind, looking as high on life as ever. Do you think alums with tickets get pushed gradually further and further back as their time on the show fades? Are Esther Rantzen and James Martin sat in the back row fishing popcorn out their teeth, who knows. They’re all settled down and settled in, and then our judges emerge

Craig having taken his slap off, what a swizz. Do the whole show in drag or don’t bother.

The Artful Dodger & Oliver Twist dancing the foxtrot

Look, Craig, Karen’s doing it. Karen’s a Drag King from beginning to end, she was wearing this wig in the opening number, and she’ll be wearing it til he wins the dance-off. THAT’S commitment to gender-bending, watch and learn Miss Hannigan. Tess introduces these two by saying that Chris is yet to score more than a 5 from Craig in a ballroom dance, and yes, he’s done two of them. No that American Smooth doesn’t count, he was being held in someone else’s arms for even less time than I was in my first year at Uni.

VT time, and nice to see these two are carrying on their time on the show as they’ve spent most of it

Karen absolutely falling out at Chris saying that he always knew that he’d make the quarter finals, but he’s surprised that Karen has made it. DAD JOKES!

The pair of them then pull a bunch of faces at the memory of Craig scoring them 8.

Yes, that was pretty much my reaction as well. Other contestants to get an 8 from Craig for their paso doble – Colin Jackson, Frankie Bridge, Kimberley Walsh, Mark Ramprakash, Caroline Flack, Jay McGuiness, Zoe Ball, Claire Sweeney, Debbie McGee, Gemma Atkinson, Ashley Taylor Dawson, Waggy Clancy, Louisa Lytton, Gethin Jones, Ricky Whittle, Scott Maslen AND The Lady Hamela, Georgia May Foote, Fraggles Fraggles Fragapane, and, of course, Michelle Visage. It’s a roll call, and now Chris is on it. As an equal. According to Craig.

Training now and it begins with Chris

tossing Karen a grape and her

catching it in her mouth, because KAREN RUV FOOD! So anyway, that took 500 takes to get right, which just leaves them just half a day’s training for the foxtrot, NEVER MIND, IT’S MUSICALS WEEK! As if to illustrate my point, Karen starts singing “FOXTROT! YOU GOTTA CHECK OUT MY FOXTROT!” over footage of

them doing this. Is this foxtrot? I mean not in my experience, but we all know my level of technical experience of dance leads me to going “oooh, pirouette” every time someone so much as turns round twice, so who knows? Maybe it is. Maybe that’s foxtrot. After a bit of training, Karen tells Chris the dance will be Oliver themed, and Chris asks her if they’re going to get any “ruffians” in as backing dancers and absolutely not, it’ll all be out of work stage school graduates called Marcus and Chloe-Jade and you know it. It’s going to be as authentically Dickensian as Sylvester Stallone Presents : David Copperfield – First Blood. Talking about his backing dancers then gives Chris a little wobble, imagining what his dance would be like if Karen didn’t show up on Saturday night. Don’t worry Chris, I’m sure Kevin would be happy to step in. Anyway, Chris says that the thought of losing his Karen and having to dance alone has replaced his “I just turned up for work naked” dream, in his pantheon of horrors, and based on the results of last week’s SEXY MAN poll, I’m sure several readers herein would not object to either.

We close on Chris saying that he loves the foxtrot (presumably because this is…mostly not a foxtrot?) and he never thought he’d hear himself say that sentence, unless he was “actually watching a fox trot through me garden”.

God, not even Karen’s laughing at that one mate, rewrite, workshop, come back again next week. WEAK! You’ll never get that supporting slot on Michael McIntyre’s next national tour at this rate.


Love that the saleswoman is dressed like she just got hauled out of a well backwards, but all of her produce is hairspray lacquer shiny, even the potatoes. Makes sense. Chris and Karen are dancing to “Consider Yourself”, so they’re doing the scene where The Artful Dodger initiates Oliver into a life of street crime and debauchery via the promise of family and fealty. And to be honest, if the actual Artful Dodger had tried to do that via the medium of slow ballroom foxtrot, you suspect Oliver would have taken his chances with the workhouse, so well done to Karen for keeping this mostly in hold, and mostly…well they’re in hold. He’s mostly walking about, but he is in hold, and doing quite a lot of steps. I absolutely would have been able to tell they were trying to do a foxtrot OR a waltz here, and that’s something. When you can narrow it down to two possible options… there have been worse, let’s put it that way. Also I’ve posted more than enough pictures of the male pros arses looking great in trousers over the years so

fair dos Karen, well done there as well. It’s certainly doing its best to

overshadow whatever this is supposed to be, in terms of frame.

Outside of the foxtrot bits? Lots of lahverly stompin’ abaht and gurnin’ away and

lip syncing for your life and

good old cockerney knees-up where’s me trahsers muvvah brahn’ing.

They’ve successfully convinced me that Chris can get through an entire full ballroom routine of footwork remembering all the choreography, and at least aiming vaguely at the technique (as opposed to the last two weeks where, sorry, they barely bothered)…just as he has to transition into doing two, wonderful.

It gets a warm reaction

apart from AJ, although he’s going to be wearing that face all evening, so it’s probably nothing personal. Someone’s just not used to having to sit and watch during this stage of the competition clearly. Chris fishes his top hat out of the audience, and then it’s time to welcome our singers and the Wunnerful Orchestra

Is anyone else picturing literally every male member of staff on this show in drag now? I want to see The Man In The Hat with a FULL Audrey Hepburn At The Races In My Fair Lady number sat on his barnet and massive false lashes. Might just be me.

(No Anton, because he has, of course, already done it)

Shirley starts, congratulating Chris on making it to the quarter finals, and telling him that she loved everything about that routine that was open, theatrical, and free, but when he got in hold

yeah, not so much. She gives him praise for “staying in time, in many places” (good job walking to the beat!) but says the routine needed more swing and more stride. Bruno next, saying that he agrees with Shirley – Chris nailed the character of The Artful Dodger, and was authentically cheeky, charming and chirpy, but the foxtrot felt like the intermission between the interesting and exciting bits. Well as ballroom is so often treated on this show these days. When’s the last time we saw a waltz? Anyone? A waltz? No?

Tess next asks Craig if he’s going to give Chris more than a 5 this time and Craig is all “…well, I…erm…it’s been mandated, because it’s Week 11, so yes, barely”. Also

they’ve not got his eyeliner all the way off, almost as if he SHOULD JUST HAVE STAYED IN DRAG. In Craig’s opinion, it was all too careful, and Chris didn’t really glide across the floor but he loved the polka section, and Chris’ “riproaring gallops”. He was quite obviously wearing quite loose fitting underwear in that training footage, yes. Motsi closes by saying that she loved all the open bits as well, and Chris’ big personality, but the “tiny bits of foxtrot” that were in the routine, well,

she’s going to pretend she was reading her book for those bits. I love that the framing here makes it very obvious that her boobs are actually the same size as her head. Just in case you were wondering.

Up to Claud 9 they romp and Claudia

rambles on for so long by way of intro that Gorka just starts playing with Karim’s pompadour for something to do. All the boys want to touch Karim all of a sudden, that neediness was bound to pay off sooner or later. (I refer you to – my second and third years at Uni). Eventually Claudia gets around to just asking Chris if he enjoyed that dance and guess what? HE DID! He loved how daft it was, just like him! Scores are in


Sperms & Cumditions (sorry, sorry, that’s how I write in my notes and sometimes I forget to change it back) next and

IT’S GARETH MALONE! Do you think maybe sticking the Phantom mask on someone wearing glasses was a good idea? No me either. Oddly enough, rather than something from Phantom, he’s being backed up on the soundtrack by “Get Happy” here, and my clear highlight for this segment is Nancy doing a Judy Garland head wobble for the ENTIRE track, like she’s going for a Guinness World Record. Am I starting a “GET NANCY TO MUSICALS WEEK!!!” campaign for next series already? I’m not not.

Rita Louise Watson & Christian Fitzharris dancing the samba

Look, I went for the character name for the whitest male member of the Sister Act 2 – Back In The Habit cast, leave me alone.

VT time, and Alex tells us that she was in a very good place for her Argentine Tango last weekend, and it’s really not her fault or Neil’s that they got tangled together so many times in the routine (so many times guys, you wouldn’t even believe it)

We’re then reminded of the best bit of their dance

Motsi’s face when Craig gave it a 4. Even the nice judge gets a little vicarious thrill off Craig shoulder-barging people on occasion. Anyway, Alex tells us that there’s two ways of dealing with adversity – either you let it bring you down, or you keep your chin up, carry on, and only mention it about fifty times in interviews on It Takes Two.

Training now, and Alex tells us that she’ll be dancing the samba to “Joyful Joyful” from the musical (no), “Sister Act” (again, no). I mean, I really try not to be a stickler, but this is like someone turning up to Hallowe’en Week as the Easter Bunny. Or Movie Week as Dot Cotton. Or the Strictly Come Dancing live final as Mark Wright. OFF THEME! FIVE PENALTY POINTS! THE SHOW REJECTS IT! Anyway, Alex tells us that she really loves and is inspired by the story of Sister Act 2 – Back In The Habit, which is that the first one made a shitload of money and Whoopi Goldberg wasn’t busy.

SORRY, SORRY, IT’S ABOUT A BUNCH OF DOWN ON THEIR LUCK KIDS WHO NOBODY IS WILLING TO TAKE A CHANCE ON, WHO TURN THEIR LIVES AROUND AND FIND THEMSELVES BY PUTTING ON A MUSICAL SHOW. Yes, definitely no actual musicals with that plotline, totally right just to pick a random film here. To help Alex get into the Sister Act 2 – Back In The Habit mood, a gospel choir is drafted in and

honestly, this feels a bit like Saffron’s VT from last week, but in reverse.


So anyway, somewhere around the midpoint of the series, someone decided that they were going to put elements of street dance into every dance that Alex Scott does, and fair enough, because it’s what she’s best at, and until now, it’s been legitimately fairly cool, as much as I’m any arbiter, if you zoned out some of the “FEMALES EMPOWERING FEMALES!!!” stuff. But this is just naff cheese. Fun naff, enjoyable cheese, but still her losing her edge a bit. From the

Home Economics project dungaree dress to the

constant fist-pumping and

workout video moves, I’m not sure this is an idea that needed to be made a reality. Especially the part where everyone’s manically dancing around in a great big circle to the singers belting out “WHO’S DOWN WITH G-O-D? ARE YOU DOWN WITH G-O-D?!”. There were a group of people who gave off this vibe when I was at school, and they were genuinely fun and upbeat people to be around…right up to the point where they were drunk and crying “BUT MONKSEAL, I JUST DON’T WANT YOU TO GO TO HELL!” and asking me if I think anyone we know has had an abortion. Maybe these are my personal issues here, who knows. I will very much say that, compared to Chris, you could blink and miss that this was supposed to be a samba.

I’d still rather watch it again than Saffron’s mind. Possibly as a consequence.

Speaking of which, AJ check-up?

Yup. Over to the judges, where Bruno starts by jumping to his feet and singing “It’s My Party” by Lesley Gore for some reason.
Oh Bruno. He calls it a “street-commercial flavour samba”. The level of “flavour” turned up to KP Discos crisp level, ie if you licked it, you’d end with a burnt tongue, from all the “street-commercial”. He tells Alex that, because the accent in street commercial is so firmly on the down beat, she couldn’t effectively transition into the samba moves, so it all looked wrong. The concept and song making “authentic” latin dancing impossible? ON THIS SHOW? Anyway, Bruno feels like he’s been put in a very weird position here, to which Craig honks in that he quite likes weird position Bruno ooooooh matron.

One minute airtime in drag, she thinks she’s comper’ing at Betty Diamond’s bingo night at Funny Girl. Anyway, Craig liked the street commercial elements, and found it refreshing, but thought her technique was bad, particularly in the voltas.

Motsi follows, thanking Alex for taking her to church, but saying she didn’t have enough action through her body, and then Shirley closes by telling Alex that she would win the prize for “personality from the waist up”.

But she’s got a very boring vagina? She liked the “hip hoppy” bits, but she didn’t see a lot of samba, and what she did see, was repeated too much. Goodness me, Shirley does not like people getting fucky in the latin does she?

Up to Claud 9 they praise, where Claudia asks them if it was a relief to be back in fun happy dances after two weeks of having to be mean’n’moody in the paso and Argentine Tango. Alex says that she just wanted to go out there and have a party, and get everyone at home joining in and enjoying themselves, and also thinking about the prosperity gospel, and that if they have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity. AND RAD GNARLY TUNES! Claudia then reveals that Alex has been going on about wanting to dance to “Joyful Joyful” all series, and Neil has been actively telling her the whole time to wait until Musicals Week. Well that was a mistake.


Gaston & Belle dancing the American Smooth :

And to introduce them

these two mugs.

Straight into training, presumably because we truly did wring out all the material we could get out of NORTHERN SOUL and KELVIN’S ADORABLE DAD during the week. And whilst we’re getting things out of the way, as it’s been a topic of conversation

Oti tells Kelvin that this week they will be dancing to “Gaston” from Beauty & The Beast and he’ll be playing Gaston, which is going to be a MASSIVE CHANGE for sure for him to be playing an arrogant dickhead, but he’s SUCH AN AMAZING ACTOR that she’s sure that he’s going to be able to pull it off. All these men this year, too nice to anything. There’s a bit of training footage of Oti constantly having to tell Kelvin to stay in character because he just…can’t…be…arrogant…he’s…not…physically…capable and then

Luke Evans pops in to offer us all some relief from the storyboarding. He, of course, played Gaston in the live action remake of Beauty & The Beast, and I say “of course” knowing full well I will be lowered into my grave having never watched the live action remake of Beauty & The Beast, Emma Watson’s “singing” in the trailer was enough alone for a lifetime. Oti asks Luke for some acting tips for Kelvin, as he’s presumably too proud to ask himself, in a shot that

seems to have been chosen to make Kelvin look all of about 5ft 6″. Luke tells Kelvin that his advice is to play Gaston as likeable initially, then slowly work in his vanity, arrogance, bad attitude towards women, and “graituitous self-righteous alpha male entitlement”. Mate, it’s a 90 second Strictly routine, not a 6 part miniseries, just tell him to squint a bit and flick his ponytail.


And indeed, we start with the first move pretty much being Kelvin

hoofing a random backing dancer off a stool and onto the floor because he wants to have a pose on it so…I mean not so much with the subtle build-up but thanks for coming in Luke, hope it helped your album sales. We move from there to Kelvin

bending another guy over so he can use him as a footrest and…well see “Chris coming to work naked”, really, fantasies fulfilled a-plenty here. Yes, this is, from beginning to end, the villain dance I have always craved on this show in Musicals Week, because there’s no greater number in any musical than the baddy song. He could have done this to “Agony” from Into The Woods, or “Mean Green Mother From Outer Space” from Little Shop, or “Easy Street” from Annie…I just want to see someone be bad to the bone on Musicals Week rather than hooray for everything joyful joyful the whole time can you blame me? And this is 100% prime arsehole.

Look at his bad self. Looking like a gay porn star from 1994 who’s 95% steroids and found dead of a heart attack at 33. Stamping on the tables

flexing his muscles


literally swinging from the chand-uh-luh-heer, from the chand-uh-luh-EER. This is high camp and absolutely no mistake. And the look on his face throughout

Eric Roberts would be proud. There’s barely any Viennese Waltz in it, and what is in it is as bobby as anything and…on the edge of the beat in places, but who cares? The lifts are

clean as anything for a change, and I’m sure he’ll do some decent straight ballroom next week.

Or someone will. Or there’ll be a ballroom routine. An Argentine Tango, that can count as ballroom right?

It gets a loud reaction, my favourite part of which is Motsi

visibly making the decision to drift slowly up out of her chair like she was giving it a standing ovation this whole time, honest. Craig gets to start, and tells Kelvin that his timing in the Viennese Waltz segments (such as they were) was out, but his spotting was great and he loved the Viennese Waltz segment. Didn’t you just open by sayin…never mind, never mind. Motsi next and first of all, she actually says Kelvin’s name correctly, huzzah! She tells him that he came in as a surprise to the show this year, and since then he’s been improving every week, and it all came together tonight, with his topline and his acting and his timing


Shirley follows, and she’s another one yelling at Craig that he was wrong because Kelvin was in fact IN THE POCKET.

You wish love. Oh wait, OF THE MUSIC. He was in the pocket OF THE MUSIC. I get it now. She thought everything was spot on – nice footwork, good acting, wonderful, excellent amazing. Bruno closes us out, calling Kelvin a “great beauty” and “impossibly good-looking” and

well it’s all relative isn’t it? Personal opinion and that. The American Smooth? It had flair, pizzazz and above all else, CAMP. Oh and Bruno says that he and Shirley were counting every single beat in the Viennese Waltz sections, and he was on time for all of them, so there. AND Bruno didn’t even have to use more than fingers of both hands to do it, so he didn’t get confused by the numbers and have to take one of his special pills.

Up to Claud 9 they smarm, where Kelvin preens over his ponytail, and then very earnestly talks to Claudia about how much he really wanted to improve all of the technical aspects of his ballroom dancing, especially as he hasn’t done any for a while (or even much now) and then Claudia’s all lol yeah alright boring, let’s talk about your amazing dad going viral on It Takes Two some more lolz. Scores are in


Link Larkin & Penny Lou Pingleton dancing the jive

VT time and

God but their contemporary really was a bug-titty mess wasn’t it? Amy tells us what a privilege it was to be dancing such an emotional routine with Karim, and then Karim tells us that being in the dance-off made him realise just how much being on the show means to him. Look at his

face of manly manly pain as he’s told he’s in danger. A fine, matured, considered, adult pain, not like when he had a big twitchy weepy woobie meltdown because he missed two steps in a Viennese Waltz. He’s been on such a journey. He says that he and Amy have a great friendship, and a real bond, and can deal with anything thrown at them. And good luck with that, because ever since this weekend’s show finished I’ve been seeing the Kelvin fans all gearing up their flinging arms. FAN WARZ IS ON BABY.

Training next, and they’ve got the jive. And Karim is really intimidated, even though this is the clearest set-up for a 40/40 that I’ve EVER seen on this show. EVER. I went into Caroline’s final dance of the series less convinced it was going to go the full monty than I am this. Anyway, yes, flicks, kicks, ball changes, all very intimidating. So intimidating, that Amy drafts in the world’s least intimidating human being to ease Karim’s nerves.

YES, IT’S MICHAEL BALLS! He’s here on the pretext that he played Edna from Hairspray on the West End, and so can impart Hairpsray wisdom to these two. I like the sliding scale from Kelvin getting the guy who played THE part, to Karim getting the guy who played A part, to Alex getting people who sing vaguely relevant music down to CHRIS who gets…to make fart jokes at Karen. Order of priorities guys, hide it better. Michael Balls tells Karim that he watches him every week and he’s phenomenal, and Amy giggles at delight like a schoolgirl at this endorsement from Michael Balls, and see Karim? Isn’t this much nicer than having that FLUPPING DOG PUPPET IN?! Or all those times you kept on inviting Chris, Kelvin, and The Baron around for BROMANCE NIGHT and you set up all the snacks and the dance mat and the 4 hour Spotify playlist and then nobody turned up?

Anywho, Karim calls this the best surprise ever, and then Michael Balls drones on for ages about how Hairspray is about kids wanting to change the world via joy and enthusiasm and above all else DAHNCE and they both look

less excited. The gulf between experiencing musical theatre and listening to people talking about it, interest wise, of course being as wide as it gets. Michael Balls then ends this VT by breaking the fourth wall and telling Craig to

GET HIS TEN PADDLE OUT ALREADY, YOU BASTARD, and alright, alright we get it. Let’s at least have the dance first.


Karim and Amy are dancing here to “You Can’t Stop The Beat”, because of course they are. Are there any other songs in Hairspray? Anyway, despite what you might expect from the combination of Karim, and Amy’s choreography, and the words “Hairspray jive to ‘You Can’t Stop The Beat'” there’s actually quite a lot of (say it like you would if you were Carrie Grant judging Fame Academy) light and shade here. There’s lots of variation in the choreography, there’s lots of changes in tempo of the dancing, there’s lots of moments where he pauses either to

hit a pose or

let the backing dancers fan out or give Amy time to use him as leverage and there’s only one completely unnecessary spin added to the middle of it for no reason, which is RESTRAINT on Amy’s part, we all watched that Viennese Waltz, yes we did. Anyway, that’s enough boring tick-box stuff to counter the KARIM HATAHS, let me move on to my obvious favourite part of the routine when we reach what would, in musical terms, be the end of any other routine to this song, with Karim clearly heading towards the finish line completely out of puff, and barely clinging on to his sanity, and then it JUST KEEPS GOING!

More kicks, more flicks, all with an increasingly desperate look on his face, all culminating in

SPIN AFTER SPIN AFTER SPIN AFTER SPIN all done with his standing leg hopping around all over the place, sloppy as anything, like he’s yelling “LIKE ME LIKE ME LIKE ME LIKE ME LIKE ME LIKE ME!” directly at me, and look, it’s either such poor technique you have to knock a mark off or it’s so KARIM that you have to add one.

And you know me, I always love a trier. Be more desperate for my approval guys, it always works. Not the laser focus of an Ashley, or the casual swagger of a Jay, or the old-fashioned class of a Jill, or the fairytale whimsy of Chelsee, or the randomly suddenly urgently throbbing sexuality of an Ore, or the “Natalie Lowe lobbing a suitcase in somebody’s face” of Scott, but its own messy “kids putting on a show” energy, and that’s something.

It gets a big crowd response (although arguably marginally less than his contemporary did so…who knows what these people are huffing) and

those of us who, after 15 and a half years on this beat, can tell the difference between a “Craig isn’t going to give a 10” face and a “Craig is going to pretend he’s not going to give a 10 and then give a 10” face are having our radars go crazy here. Get a better poker face Craig, you’re giving off tells all over. Motsi starts for the judges, protesting that she can’t sit down, she’s so excited, she’s got goosebumps all over she’s astonished and

this display is still less hammy than what Craig’s doing. Imagine him pulling that face in drag. Wonderful isn’t it? Motsi says that if she tried to do that jive she’d be dead by halfway through (yes, from concussion) and then reaches under her desk, gives her 10 paddle to Karim and then points him up the stairs because there’s no point critiquing.

Shirley, my love…she’s a mystery isn’t she? She follows this display up herself, praising Karim’s “mind strength” for coming back after being in the bottom two. Shirley, someone does it every week, it’s kind of unavoidable. Anyway, she thought it was a flawless acting performance, with very strong technique as well. She’s taught a lot of high level professionals and that was certainly much better than Brendan Cole oops did that just slip out how unprofessional of her never mind HOPE YOU’RE ENJOYING YOUR RETIREMENT BITCH.

Bruno follows, saying that that was a mindblowing bravura performance that sent chills down his spine. He then calls it the best jive ever on Strictly and oh God we’d gone a whole 11 weeks without the JayPet Army being roused from their pit WHY BRUNO WHY? Couldn’t you have just said that it was the sort of iconic dance we will remember forever and that he danced like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire combined and that the routine just single-handedly cured ebola? The usual sort of hyperbole? The safe kind? Tess then tells Craig, and pardon my French, to fucking give it up already because he’s fooling nobody and then

he gives Karim a standing ovation and Shirley yells “WOAAAAAAAAAAAAH BODYFORRRRRRRRRM, BODYFORMED FOR YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU!”. Y’know, by the looks of it.

Up to Claud 9 they charge and once up there

half the pros and Claudia give him the full Debbie McGee. Again. For the second week in a row. And thank God nobody noticed Claudia doing that I didn’t need to read another five Internet forum posts all beginning “Does anything else think it was really UNPROFESSIONAL..”. Claudia tells Karim that Kevin in particular loved that dance, and I’ll bet. Can you imagine Kevin with the female equivalent of Karim, nobody would be safe. Karim waffles on about how disheartened he was this week, and he and Amy worked so hard and she’s his best friend and oh my God not another one. How many best friends does Karim have, this is going to cause so many problems when they all play Truth Or Dare at Summer Camp I can’t even imagine. Scores in

duh, it’s 40! No I’m not doing a poll as to which is actually the best jive on Strictly ever or whether that deserved 40, I’d rather drink paint.

Millie Dillmount & Trevor Graydon III dancing the Charleston

VT time and Emma reminds us that really the problem with her quickstep was that she missed ONE hop, and this then had a SMALL knock-on effect on the entirety of the rest of the dance, but ultimately Claudia, you have to say, you have to admit, it was only A mistake, and not mistakes.

And that’s the end of that, and isn’t it nice we didn’t have to get lawyers involved. Oh and we’re also reminded that when they were called safe that Anton

actually tried to shag Emma to death, so that’s nice. At teatime.

Training time and as it’s Musicals Week, Emma and Anton sit there

doing jazz hands in perfect unison in the hope that it makes Julie Andrews appear in the training room. Sadly, it does not. They were doing this for six hours. There’s not been Strictly related wrist cramp like it since me and that one VT where Pasha and Caroline went to the Turkish baths and he [PUNCHLINE REDACTED]. Their musical is “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and Anton du Beke? Dancing in a routine based on a musical that has banned from being performed in many school districts in America for being (*checks notes*) incredibly racist? The POWER that has. Anyway, in a rather bizarre segment, Emma then looks straight to camera and says that

she has never seen Thoroughly Modern Millie, she has never even HEARD of Thoroughly Modern Millie, and despite what certain websites on the Internet would have you believe she’s certainly never ever PERFORMED in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Which…one of the websites claiming you’ve performed in Thoroughly Modern Millie is also claiming to be your booking agent Emma, so I actually would probably get lawyers on that. I’m sure Aliona can recommend you a decent one if you ask. That obligation out of the way we can move right on to the most important thing in a Charleston VT, ENDLESS TALK ABOUT FECKING SWIVEL!


Emma and Anton are dancing to the title song of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and, well, how do you say this without it sounding colossally backhanded? Oh sod it, you can’t, the whole thing feels like a guest act come in to promote Thoroughly Modern Millie. Like when the cast of The Lion King came in a few years back and just did a set piece from The Lion King. It’s very professionally staged, and performed, and choreographed, all with ol’ emogirl82 in the band doing her best Julie Andrews impersonation again, and it really feels like the point where the show is now SUCH an advert of its contestants services to the West End that the lines have started to blur so much that it feels like the reverse. Here’s some moments you could absolutely put on a promo poster outside the theatre

in most cases more Emma than Anton, but still. The dancing isn’t perfect, but it’s not more inexact than you’d get from a Hayley Tamaddon or a Tamsin Outhwaite or whoever else you’d get in this role from a soap and it’s just a good wholesome slice of the West End and definitely Emma’s best dance yet.

Is it a surprise to me that Musicals Week has put our three actors so firmly in the driving seat, not really.

Over to the judges, and Shirley starts by telling Emma that she just fast-tracked her way straight into the final with that routine.

Jesus crow Shirley, one week at a time, how quickly do you want this series over with? She praises Emma’s synchronicity with Anton, her footwork, her authenticity, and above all else, her swivuws. Bruno follows, calling her “Thoroughly Modern Emma”, and telling her that this was a truly authentic 1920s Charleston. Based on a musical from the 2000s utilising a song from the 1960s. All of history just concertina’ing together there.

Craig next, saying that he loves a bit of a swivel darling and then collapsing into a fit of the giggles, and Motsi then closes by saying that we’ve all had a fantastic evening, and Emma was the icing on top. She had “female power” and was both subtle and loud. Sure, why not.

Up to Claud 9 they flap, with Emma saying “well done kid” to Anton first and then him saying it back, which is really right on the borderline between endearing in-joke and deeply weird. Once up there, Claudia tells Emma that that’s her first time opening the show since Week 1, and asks her how it feels.

Well it’s very different when Shirley Ballas isn’t calling you a dog-eared sack of wet cement, or whatever it was, who even remembers now, so long ago ha ha marvellous. Also yes, AJ does still look miserable. Also yes Nancy has accidentally got too far into Anton’s personal space and doesn’t know how to get out. Scores are in




17 thoughts on “Strictly Come Dancing 17 – Week 11 Performance

  1. Oooooop!

    You know, I buy that Emma’s booking agent has it wrong. They have the following for Tallulah Riley: “Her biggest credits include films like The Boat That Rocked, St Trinian’s and St Trinian’s 2, Pride & Prejudice, The Legend of Fritton’s Gold and Christopher Nolan’s Inception.”

    Firstly, why wouldn’t you open with Inception, even if her role is “Blonde”? But, more to the point, there is no such film as “The Legend of Fritton’s Gold”. That’s the subtitle of St. Trinian’s 2.

    I’m also a little worried about the fact that they seem to think that the fact that she married Elon Musk is a selling point, and that they compare her favourably to Kendall Jenner, because nothing says “serious actress” like “that Kardashian who solved racism with a fizzy drink”.

    So, yeah, I’m not 100% convinced they’re the best booking agents out there.

    1. ItTakesTwo

      She definitely wasn’t in Thoroughly Modern Millie, someone on digital spy heard wrong and it obviously got reported elsewhere. That so called booking agent probably read it there too. She was in Chicago but far as I know she has no actual formal dance training, certainly not to Karim’s level. Not that I’m personally bothered by that, some of my favourite ever contestants are dirty ringahs!

  2. WH-wcs

    I’ve seen Hello Dolly several times, and sad to say- both Kevin and Anton sing way better than Michael Crawford did in it. Earbendingly awful he was.

  3. StormyTV

    “…which is really right on the borderline between endearing in-joke and deeply weird.”

    That’s…basically Emma and Anton’s whole relationship in a nutshell, right there.

    1. ItTakesTwo

      They post funny videos together on IG and other people on the show say they are a good match, but on the main show and even ITT there is a slight awkwardness at times. At first I thought maybe he might be being careful because she’s an attractive woman and he knows what the gutter press are like, but then his reaction when they got through last week was.. a lot!

      I think maybe Emma just gets quite shy and nervous in more formal settings, and Anton is also taking the show more seriously this year as well. Michelle and Gio also had a slight awkwardness at times but are always praising each other to high heavens even now!

  4. WH-wcs

    And I do NOT think Kelvin’s costume was great. Nasty brown nylon- it looked like something you’d order off Amazon, takes 10 days to arrive via shipping and would go up in flames if someone lit up 10 feet away.
    I *never* care about such details, but this was distractingly ugly even for me.

    1. Georgina

      Right? It was absolutely hideous–the color, the fabric, the fit, the tunic over baggy trousers, the pooling of loose fabric around his dancers heels. Not to mention the black plastic wig that didn’t match his coloring at all. It all ruined the dance for me.

  5. Ji Hee

    LOL if the Kelvin fans are spewing hate to Karim, then they’re looking at the wrong person. Karim isn’t going to win, but Emma has a (very slight) fighting chance. Not that I encourage more hate spewing, but it amazes me how the (mostly white menopausal women) people on DS can say such horrible things to Karim. I guess we’ve seen much worse. The Jaypet fans against Kelly and the Danny fans against Ore were defintely the worst ones I’ve seen.

    Anyway, FAN WARZ it is.

    1. ItTakesTwo

      I have also seen Emma get a lot of hate from people who despise Anton and are hoping they get kicked out in a surprise Emma vs Karim dance off simply because they don’t want him in the final! Chris is getting the “not a good enough dancer” hate as well.
      As much as I like Chris I think he would stick out like a sore thumb in the final, so I think it would be good for him to bow out this weekend. Emma having to navigate an Anton Cha Cha does concern me….

  6. ChaChaChavvy

    I think one of the reasons I loved Emma’s dance is that it wasn’t a Charleston with a twist or a contemporary take on a Charleston or a Charleston full of big tricks. These days, whenever someone does a straightforward dance well, it feels like eating a punnet of strawberries after weeks of greasy take-out.

  7. Qweeeen

    And the blatant set-up for Craig to say “fab-u-lous” to crazy eyes after her dance… Made me cringe! But, as she already had 10s I guess she needed something else to obsess about (though they should have strung it out another week at least…)

  8. Sue Howarth

    The terms and conditions vote is for who you want to see compete! I have been voting for who would win in a fight. Sooty is still in the lead, but it makes more sense now that Tameka was dropped.

  9. vampadvocate

    I don’t worry this Kelvin is far more worried about an Emma fan oh Christ no. I’d be ok with a Karim one.

    I just wanted to say boringly I’ve always had a soft spot for Michael Ball after he defended Matt Di Angelo after his meltdown compassionately saying we’ve all had days like that if you do a lot of live performance. As someone who heard a lot of people talk shit about that dude it was refreshing to hear a veteran west end star say that. I think Michael Ball’s a kind man soz not soz for inappropriate sentimentality.

  10. Nicky91

    don’t blame AJ please for looking like a spoilt child, or miserable

    his father apparently also won many titles as dancer back in his day, well respected in the dance world (Pritchards can be compared to the Cliftons i think)

    so yeah AJ’s desire to win, his ambition is because he Always had a lot of pressure on his shoulders to win, be a successful dancer

    oh and he is playing lead role in Peter Pan musical, in panto


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