Also, an announcement!
Best Judging Thingy : When Motsi Mabuse was announced as a judge, I tweeted immediately that Oti was guaranteed to never win the show ever now, so congratulations to the show for stage-managing a series where Oti did in fact win with her big sister on the panel as smoothly as possible. The initial reluctance to give a 10, the “HANDS OFF MY SISTER!”, the eventual relenting and boogying away to Kelvin’s showdance at double speed…it was perfect. Motsi may not have appealed to me much as a judge, beyond “y’know y’know y’know” (ironically enough, she reminds me too much of LEN, get your head around that one) but they dealt with the whole situation perfectly, kudos to them.
Other Best Judging Thingy :
Duh. Just a beautiful Liberace Eurotrash confection, I wanted to marry the whole thing, never do it again, don’t ruin the moment.
Worst Judging Thingy : Shirley running around twitter liking tweets saying Anton should be fired for doing something Anton has done literally every series since he started on the show, someone ration these people’s access to social media, Bruno basically saying “that Nigel Farage has some good ideas though” was bad enough.
Best Pro Dance Thingy : OBVIOUSLY the fashion business, I was squealing from beginning to end, everyone shone, everyone showed personality, everyone was highlighted, from Luba to Johannes, I could talk about it all day, Amy’s transformation from meek assistant to psycho bitch, Oti’s boobs, Anton EMBODYING sleaze, how on point Nadiya looked, amazing, all of it, I’d say never do it again, but of course this was ALREADY “doing it again” and it worked perfectly so see you again in 2021 guys!
Worst Pro Dance Thingy : That routine where all the female pros fell out of a spaceship in their pants in the name of empowerment no thanks.
Best Guest Performer : The 3 seconds of Beverley Knight singing “TOUCCCCCCCH MEEEEEEEEEE, IT’S SO EASY TO LEEEEEEEEEEEEAVE ME!”, the only good thing that Andrew Lloyd Webber ever did.
Worst Guest Performer : Harry Connick Jr lol, it took him several goes and that was the best take dearie me.
Best It Takes Two Thingy : Strictly Klaxon WOOP WOOP, a very simple montage that had me laughing so hard I absolutely thought I was going to throw up. Also the continuing bizarre delights of “It Takes Who?”, at this point I want even more new pros on top of the 52 we already have just to see what the art department does with their faces.
Worst It Takes Two Thingy : I’ll be honest, “Tunes On Tuesday” felt very low effort this year, where were the outlandish costumes, where was the vibrancy, Rylan not even bothering to try to make it feel like he wasn’t reading right off the autocue, come on guys, zhoosh it up.
Best Host : Having said that, I’m giving this to Rylan, for a very strong debut year, continuing his conquering of all light entertainment until someone else inevitably comes along and usurps him, watch out for that Mollie King, all I’m saying
Worst Host : How does Robin Windsor get a little bit worse at reading out loud on camera every time he appears? I know technically he was being a guest in Choreography Corner, but he TRANSCENDED.
King Of All Pros : Actually a really hard one here, as I’m honestly not sure any of the male pros had a banner year. Even Giovanni, as much as you can blame Michelle elimination on 95% Michelle and 5% the guest choreographer, still had doing a full leaderboard plunge off that American Smooth (and no it wasn’t just the dress). As such, I’m giving this to the one male pro who really cemented his legacy this year, that’s right, I’m talking about PISSY GORKA. We stan a grumpy legend.
Runners-Up Giovanni Pernice, Johannes Radebe, Kevin Clifton – Rent A Pro
Queen Of All Pros : This one is ALL Oti Mabuse though. A real portfolio of routines put down here, a softening of her usual “I’M GOING TO YELL AT YOU TIL YOU CRY AND THEN MAKE YOU TRAIN TIL 4AM!” persona (ie she only made Kelvin train until 2am), and a glitterball. She nailed it.
Runners-Up : Karen Hauer, Janette Manrara, Nadiya Bychkova, Luba whenever she was in the SPOOKY HALLOWEE’EN CAVE OF SPOOKINGTON!
Most Awful Tedious Made-Up Scandallbollocks Of The Series : The show hyping the living life out of Johannes and Graziano dancing near one another for 15 seconds because Dancing On Ice pulled their pants down over same-sex partnerships, and the usual cavalcade of homophobia that resulted from the general public, great job guys!
Runners-Up : Nothing really, lol, the tabloids really tried it with “Kelvin and Oti got into the same car together” but even that felt a little half-hearted, either just say they’re shagging or don’t bother.
Worst Celebrity (Personality) : Nobody was really truly unlikeable this year, I don’t think, although Anneka made a decent run in her exit interview, but I’m going to have to give this to Mike Bushell. There’s “laughing with”, there’s “laughing at”, and then there’s “NOBODY’S LAUGHING AT ALL, PLEASE STOP”
Runners-Up : Anneka Rice, Saffron Barker, Catherine Tyldesley in the moments when the “ZOMG MY NEW GAY BEST FRIEND WHO IS GAY AND SASSY JOHANNES SQUEEEEEEEEE!” got too much
Best Celebrity (Personality) : Absolutely everything about The Viscountess endeared her to me from beginning to end, I’m sorry. “CAN YOU BELIEVE I MADE SALMON?!”, the fifteen jobs she clearly didn’t have, her palpable sexual longing for Aljaz, her adoration of her kids and also the vague sense she keeps them in a drawer, the talking about that one dance-off like she’d been fighting against the Viet-Cong, this
iconic moment…I will always love her.
Runners-Up : David James, Will Bayley, Catherine Tyldesley at all other times OOH LOOK ALL OF THESE PEOPLE WERE ELIMINATED IN A ROW, HA HA MARVELLOUS
Worst Celebrity (Talent) : James Cracknell – as I said at the time, I’d always wondered what Quentin Wilson would have looked like doing ballroom and now I know!
Runners-Up Anneka Rice, David James, Chris Ramsey (yes, I think Mike was a better dancer than Chris, which absolutely makes what Mike ended up actually doing half the time even worse in retrospect)
Best Celebrity (Talent) : Kelvin Fletcher – in the end I think he Karim were much of a muchness, but Kelvin just had the edge in terms of self-control when he performed, even if the judges didn’t.
Runners-Up Karim Zeroual (which, post Christmas, I can’t stop singing to the tune of Feliz Navidad, HAPPY HOLIDAYS), Saffron Barker, Michelle Visage.
Monkseal’s 10 Least Favourite Routines Of The Series
10. Catherine & Johannes – Samba : Turns out repeatedly yelling “ARE YOU COMFORTABLE?!” does not in fact make people more comfortable, a lesson a nation’s nanas would do well to learn. I don’t want a cup of tea either.
9. Dev & Dianne – Cha Cha : A semi-promising dancer completely derailed by YES a generic “in the club” cha cha, maybe they should stop doing so many, maybe we don’t need 11/12 cha chas in every series, who can say?
8. Karim & Amy – Paso Doble : Hey, you heard about this cool new(ish) thing on Netflix, called Stranger Things? Anyway, we prepared a dance based on it in absolutely no meaningful way whatsoever other than incredibly ugly and inappropriate costumes, we hope you like it!
7. Both Of Those Quicksteps They Overmarked The Fudge Out Of In That One Week, For No Reason Other than To Pop A Shock Boot, You Know The Two I’m Talking About : Ya heard me
6. James & Luba – Tango : On the one hand, really really bad, on the other hand, the clear worst routine of the series technically is only sixth because of wanton overtheming and nonsense to come so…think on that.
5. Michelle & Giovanni – Street/Commercial : In a series of, to be honest, more than a few Couples Choice routines I couldn’t stand, kudos to staunch ally Michelle Visage for shining a light on a heartfelt cultural form pioneered by poor and homeless LGBT Americans, and making the normies think it was even more dumb and vapid than they already did.
4. Mike & Katya – American Smooth : I think it was when he pulled his banana out that I lost all hope for Mike Bushell being anything other than…well, what he ended up being.
3. Anneka & Kevin – Charleston : Love it when a celebrity’s overwhelming emotion when presenting a routine to the audience is embarrassment, really makes for a fun watch. ALSO Anneka’s general “I always wear trousers, you won’t make me wear a dress” to “HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME WEAR TROUSERS, NO WONDER I GOT ELIMINATED!” journey was just weird in general.
2. Emma & Anton – Rumba Basically for all those times I stomped around lecturing people that IT MIGHT NOT BE THAT BAD ACTUALLY, REMEMBER KATIE DERHAM’S, and then it absolutely was not only “that bad”, but even worse, THANKS A LOT ANTON!
1. Mike & Katya – Samba Genuinely, in seventeen series of Strictly, one of the worst routines I’ve ever seen, and then he turned up on Big Fat Quiz Of The Year to do it again, to almost no reaction again, and then Dara O Briain yelled “HAVE SOME DIGNITY!” at him and honestly it was hard to disagree.
Monkseal’s 20 Favourite Routines Of The Series
20. Michelle & Giovanni – Cha Cha/Paso Doble : Neither of them quite strong enough alone to make the list (for the lack of partnering skills in the cha cha and the postbox outfit for the first half of the paso) but when you mash them together you see the sort of contestant Michelle was trying to be in Vogue – fierce, campy, playing with gender roles, dramatic, and above all else INCREDIBLY 80s.
19. Alex & Kevin – American Smooth : I have to be honest, I did miss Kevin’s presence a little this year. Go on, stone me, but he just has a certain energy that really works for Strictly. And here he certainly propelled Alex to probably her most exciting trad (ish) ballroom performance of the series. Just a nice blind date with some old Hollywood glamour, marvellous.
18. Will & Janette – Foxtrot : I was worried on the basis of Will’s first few routines that his time on Strictly was going to be so much enthusiastic bombing about to cover for the fact that his disability prevented him from executing any sort of refined ballroom technique. So it was a pleasant surprise to see him tackle an actual foxtrot, more or less (look, it looked like ballroom ok, I don’t know if the steps were actually foxtrot, leave me alone) and from JANETTE of all people. I still say that injury robbed us of a whole lot.
17. Chris & Karen – Rumba : There’s about three routines of Chris’ hovering in the 21-35 range, just under this list, but in the end this was my favourite. Given his complete lack of performance skills at the beginning, this was probably his biggest triumph of the year for me – a rumba about MATURE ADULT EMOTIONAL PAIN, performed without inhibition. And that, for me, rather than big stage productions, was what Chris’ Strictly jurnee was all about. That and dad jokes. Lots and lots of dad jokes. OOO REMEMBERS SPANGLES?!
16. Emma & Aljaz – Viennese Waltz : Her finishing absolutely nowhere in any of the public vote categories has absolutely emboldened me to get my Viscountess stannage on here, and this was definitely a moment. Giant arm hankies, wanton emoting, and Aljaz’s ballroom choreography, yes please.
15. Kelvin & Oti – Rumba : TWO bloke rumbas on the same list of best dances? In the same year? From two NOTHERNERS? On this blog? ABSOLUTELY.
14. Michelle & Giovanni – Quickstep You absolutely cannot go wrong with a bit of Liza, it’s not possible. Even Catherine’s Charleston was clearly being done to her arrangement of Single Ladies from that godawful Sex & The City sequel, MORE LIZA PLEASE. MORE LIZA, AND MORE JUDY, AND MORE KANDER AND EBB!
13. Alex & Neil – Charleston : Remember when Alex did street dance for the first time and it actually felt cool? Before she went to the well too many times and ruined it? I remember.
12. Karim & Amy – Charleston : Look we all know why, move along.
11. David & Nadiya – American Smooth : Really emblematic of the whole David & Nadiya experience – endearingly dorky, endearingly daddish, all based around a classic film, as David cemented his place as one of this nation’s greatest film critics. America has Obama’s list of the films he recommends every year, the UK has David James telling us all to watch Wallace & Gromit : Curse Of The Were Rabbit because he caught the last hour of it on BBC 2 and it was really funny guys, best film of 2019 for sure!
10. Kelvin & Oti – Showdance : An absolute mess on his side, but that’s really what we want for a showdance isn’t it? A climactic blowout of an entire series worth of effort where everyone involved ends up lying on the floor, the entire room trashed, huffing and puffing and spent and exhausted and completely saisfi…oh no wait that’s another thought I was having about Kelvin, move along again, move along.
9. Emma & Anton – Charleston : The first time, obviously, not the second. Emma seemed like a nice lady, I hope she gets the big West End role she wants, Sweet Charity or something, she could clearly do it well enough.
8. Kelvin & Oti – American Smooth : Fun Fact, I saw the live action Beauty & The Beast for the first time over Christmas (I know, I know, hark at David James here) and Kelvin’s interpretation of the character absolutely made more than Luke Evans’ did, I’m not sure what he was worried about. Chandelier swinging macho nonsense from beginning to end, a Musicals Week HIGHLIGHT.
7. Saffron & AJ – Waltz :
All Of Youse – Has anyone noticed that nobody’s doing any waltzes this year, I think it’s really a shame, and that the show is moving away from its roots even more in favour of loud flashy meretricious garbage, I just want to see a nice waltz, technically well done, because there’s just something about proper ballroo
All Of Youse, Five Minutes Later – OH NO, WE DIDN’T MEAN SAFFRON
6. Karim & Amy – Jive : Very much THE emblematic Karim & Amy routine, if you liked them, you liked this, if you didn’t like this, you spent the next month going “YEAH BUT JAY’S AND ALSO HE WOBBLED A BIT AT ONE POINT AND I DIDN’T LIKE HIS TROUSERS SO IT WASN’T ANY GOOD SO THERE!”. Me? I liked him, and this was PURE him.
5. Emma & Aljaz – Foxtrot : Can’t believe she put in such a convincing performance as a Chef’s Assistant when she’s normally just a Chef, what a CHAMELEON.
4. Michelle & Giovanni – Foxtrot : So many enjoyable foxtrots this year, but this was absolutely my favourite. Theatrical, silly, looked like a foxtrot, didn’t involve Michelle having to make any facial expressions, what more could you want? A true highlight of the great Hallowe’en Massacre of 2019, as all the other contestants dropped down dead around her.
3. Karim & Amy – Tango : This absolutely WASN’T emblematic of Karim’s personality at all, in fact it was really probably the only time he went out there and really succeeded at being anything other than an enthusiastic little dancing puppy, humping the show’s leg, and all the better for it. If he’d done more routines like this then…well he might even have managed to finish second or only been in one dance-off or something!
2. Kelvin & Oti – Jive : Now and forever, MY OVARIES.
1. Catherine & Johannes – Rumba : SHE’S OFF THE DEEP END, WATCH AS SHE DIVES IN, SHE’LL NEVER MEET THE GROUND! From song reveal to build-up to performance, my favourite single Strictly experience this series. You can give me hot guys, you can give me perfect technique, you can give me West End quality staging and production, at the end of the day, what I want from this show, all I ever wanted, is CAMP, CAMP, CAMP.
So there we are, the end of another Strictly cycle. From World Cup to random entry about new pros I don’t really know anything about yet to Pro Poll to Cast Reveal to the great big three month and a bit splurge of Strictly Proper. An annual ritual we all share and have gone through for the last decade together. And we’re about to enter our last one. Yes, like Cher, but NOT LYING, this is me announcing my farewell tour as a blogger, not just of Strictly, but generally. We’ve had joy, we’ve had fun, we’ve had that pic of Nadiya’s mum, but all good things can only last for so long, and there’s only so many times you can make the same joke over and over and over again. Strictly’s strength as a show really is its conservatism – the motor of only making tiny little changes, a bit at a time, an inch here, a new genre there every 8 years. But at this point? I feel like increasingly I’ve said all I’ve got to say. So, unlike Motsi halfway through a critique, I’m actually going to stop!
BUT not before one last series, don’t worry, I’m going to say a proper goodbye and it’s going to be spectacular. And let’s all hope for a series worthy of a climactic blowout. A partner for Nancy, iconic dance after iconic dance, Shirley acknowledging her love of roast chicken live on air, ever more pissiness from Gorka, the final and climactic reincarnation of the GODDESS OF DAHNCE, a same-sex partnership that allows me to humorlessly imply that you’re all homophobes WEEK after WEEK after WEEK…let’s all spend the next 7 months praying for a good one, Uri Gellar style! SEE YOU IN 2020!