It struck me just now that Brenda has never choreographed a routine to “This Girl Is On Fire” and he absolutely absolutely should.
More packed with emotional incident crammed into the last third than an episode of Call The Midwife. A CHRISTMAS episode of Call The Midwife.
Send in the Chloes!
I don’t really want to call any pro dance “the worst ever” because God knows there have been some spectacles over the years – Anton and Erin as Ghostbusters, that routine about the POWER OF WOMEN set in a launderette, Little Ola Riding Hood – but the opening number tonight really could stake a claim to Top 5 at least. An incredibly busy sort-of-paso with a Game Of Thrones theme danced to a fatally underpowered version of “Run, Boy, Run” featuring a whole lotta bullshit with a big wooden gate and a magic portal and Anton as an evil king and oh boy no. I’m all for new ideas but this was about twenty of them and none of them much to do with dancing. The contempowaft rumba to Gregory Porter later is better, and a pleasant way for Pasha and Dianne to keep their hands in as our first two booted pros.
Dance Debrief began its slow descent into being Len’s Glans 2 this week as it took a brief detour away from the celebs to focus on Shirley and Bruno’s gooning around during Alexandra’s jive, but otherwise it was business as usual, with slow-mo plaudits for her and Ruth, and dings for Aston and Charlotte. Meanwhile Claud 9 interviews see a veritable bundle of dances revealed, from the dull (Gemma’s on foxtrot, which even she can’t summon up the energy to get excited about), to the foreboding (Brian’s on jive, and Ruth’s on samba, when the last time Anton had samba Widdy ended up swiffering the floor at Blackpool), to the frankly tantalising (DEBBIE RUMBA CANCEL EVERYTHING, CLEAR YOUR DIARIES, I CANNOT WAIT). Also Joe wants a pizza oven, and should be careful what he wishes for.
Also revealed is the fact that Davood will be on jive next week. This doesn’t really feel like the potential comeback he needs, as it’s confirmed we really are sniping down the new girls one by one, and he and Nadiya are in the Bottom Two, along with Charlotte. Unsurprisingly, it’s Charlotte who’s going home, chirpily spouting “I’M HAVING A LOVELY TIME!” as she goes, with Brenda claiming this was one of his best series of Strictly. Which just goes to prove that the metric Brenda judges his Strictly runs on is one part how compliant his partner is to one part how often he gets to kick off. And nothing else matters.
A show of…well not so much two halves as a first two thirds where nothing much noteworthy happens, other than a couple of people who are normally quite good messing up, and then a final third which is probably the most emotionally charged run of dances ever on Strictly? At least on a performance show, I would never take away the NUCLEAR EMOTIONAL SURGE that Camilla felt when she finally snaffled that glitterball.
So those first two thirds? Debbie’s cha cha is somewhere towards the bottom of the range of expectations I had for her, as she never quite gets her legs doing what she wants them to, although Giovanni as a naughty stripping delivery boy with a massive package does go some way to redeeming it. Sadly there’s nothing redeeming about Joe’s cha cha, which is an absolute state from beginning to end and slides him right back into the pack of middlers that he looked on the verge of escaping last week. Even amongst the other talented contestants Aston’s quickstep is a whole lot of running about, Mollie’s latin continues to be a problem, as do salsa lifts in general this series, and Davood swings around aimlessly with his mouth hanging open in a Viennese Waltz that is apparently marred by his motion sickness, an impairment that sees him sporting a little special wristband bless his cotton socks. This set of lacklustre performances, as well as a whole bunch of ties, might see you expecting a SHOCKBOOT, but the chasing pack of duffers (Brian, Charlotte, Ruth, Simon) all put on alright, punching exactly at their weight performances that the judges are all quite nice about, snuffing out any real possibility of controversy driven voting. It COULD happen, but it seems unlikely.
That final run though? Ooft. Gemma finally has the breakthrough scoring wise that those of us who have been eyeing her betting odds suspiciously have been anticipating for a whole now in her paso doble, Oti pulls out an American Smooth of the HIGHEST drama that Jonnie almost brings himself to match before dedicating the routine to the surgeon who amputated his leg and saved his life, Kevin pulls out a dazzling wedding dance quickstep routine for Susan that she aces in front of her wife AND her parents (apparently watching her perform live for the first time in her life) and perhaps most tear-jerkingly of all, Alexandra goes full Tina Turner in her Proud Mary jive, expending every Newton of force in her body all over every inch of the dancefloor, racking up a near complete rack of 10s, before collapsing in a sobbing heap on Claudia and Gorka both, wishing her mum was still alive to see it all. It’s undeniably a moment in Strictly history and one that hopefully people will be supportive of her through oh wait the Internet.
Oh and Bruno probably said “fucking”.
Disney Night spells the end for Beauty & The Priest (remember those? The enforced team names? In the run up to Week 1? That was an embarassing episode in Strictly history wasn’t it?)
Rules help *control* the fun!