Monday, 20 October 2014

Timmy Time (to go home)

Top 13 Results Sunday 19 October

Last night!  Everyone was adorable!  Nobody danced without error, but a lot of the dances were enjoyable anyway!

We open with a pro-dance to ‘Counting Stars’ that begins with Ola and Pasha dancing against a door, pretty much recreating Kevin and Joanne’s much-maligned bedroom Spice Girls tango from the other week.  Speaking of things that were criticised in the past, Janette’s swinging from the ceiling again although at least this time she doesn’t look like she’s been hanged.  She does, however, appear to fall off a rope ladder.  Ropey beginnings (ho ho) aside, this Latin mega-mix dance is quite enjoyable – fast, sexy, frenetic and long enough to enjoy, but short enough not to outstay its welcome.  The make-up is decidely odd though, all black squiggles and scrawls.

Daly dresswatchL white.  Badly cut around the bust, cut so low but square it makes her look like her breasts are at her stomach.  It was too good to last really.  What Winkleman’s Wearing: A badly fitting sparkly blue thing.  The judges waft on (except Darcey who sort of struts about) and Tess and Claudia tell us to get excited about Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett coming on, but to worry because Len’s Lens is still a thing.  There’s also a joke about Len wearing a meat dress and my mental eyes will never recover.

Recap of last night featuring bonus backstage footage!  Of note: Scott accidentally (or “accidentally”) walking into someone’s dressing room.  But whose?  Could we get a Freedom of Information Act request to find out?  Scott also seems a bit upset to be the comedy contestant and like he actually does want to be able to dance, despite his natural inability.  Mark is ‘static’ overall.  I thought that was Judy’s schtick.  Kevin calls Frankie Frankenstein.  I so hope that’s a theme for their Halloween routine.  Janette thinks Elvis Presley is the king of Saturday night (and also that Jake is like him). 

First set of results.  Safe are:  Thom and Iveta; Sunetra and Brendan; Caroline and Pasha; Simon and Kristina; Judy and Anton.  The first couple in the dance off?  Mark and Karen.  Bruno gets huffy about this, but does this count as a shock bottom two?  I mean, maybe, if Simon and Kristina did, but I judge this as simply the public’s revenge for Donny/Superman (/general lack of public interest in Karen coupled with someone from an ITV2 show who is probably not that familiar to at least a medium-sized proportion of the viewership and, if Simon can’t get a decent enough segment of the vote, Mark was probably never likely to).

In the Clauditorium, Caroline said it was brilliant and unexpected to top the leaderboard and Simon can’t believe that he’s safe. Also: JUDY AND ANTON ARE DOING THE CHARLESTON NEXT WEEK OMG.

Time for our special guest performers, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.  She is dressed in a tinfoil dress with a curly brunette work that is just this shade of looking like she’s put an afro on and is therefore a bit racist.  As it is, it does channel Jewish mother from the 70s so is treading a fine line.  They’re singing ‘Anything Goes’ and her voice goes to shit several times although it seems to be deliberate, so I don’t know what's going on, but then, since she did that thing with R Kelly I’ve kind of not cared about her being on my radar – and I suspect most people gave up on her way before that.  They then go into a version of ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) which is a bit better although they both seem to be singing off an autocue.  And their voices do not blend well together at all.  Anyway, who cares about the music when you have Natalie Lowe and Trent (sadly not Ian but we take what we can) doing some lovely super-fast American Smooth style ballroom in front of them, which is much more like it.  They finish singing and Gaga introduces Tony Bennett in a British accent for some reason, then he her in a manner that suggests they just met in the dressing room, then she (back in an American accent) implores us to clap for Natalie and Trent, which is a good job, given the whole segment would have been dire without them.

Time for Len’s Lens now oh yay.  Thom is getting better, Steve is great, Craig explains an arabesque and a bird flap, Jake’s knees are awesome, Tim’s wafting is rubbish.  Yes, despite Caroline, Pixie and Frankie doing remarkably well (and Judy and Alison probably having huge fanbases), this is still trying to be the YEAR OF THE MAN as barely any women feature.  We see the judges gasping at Brendan’s wardrobe malfunction and get a big close up of Sunetra’s manic grin.  Heh.

More results.  Safe are: Steve and Ola; Jake and Janette; (we get a close-up of Natalie looking SO SAD as she’s worked out the odds of her and Tim being in the bottom two); Pixie and Trent; Frankie and Kevin; Alison and Aljaž and Scott and Joanne, leaving Tim and Natalie in the bottom two and almost certainly leaving, which they were both expecting, and I think so were most of us.  I’ll miss them though.

Tess asks what they could do.  Darcey says ‘of course’ he can get better as even though not every dance will suit him, he puts his all into every performance. Len is disappointed to see Tim in the bottom two but does some pelvic thrusting in his direction and a ‘gworn’.  Anyone got clarification about whether Tim is secretly a SPORTSMAN?

In the Clauditorium, she reveals Jake is filming Ye Olde EastEnders Christmas FunTime Hour at the moment.  Bets on who dies?  We then get the campest VT ever as a promo for It Takes Two, with Robin playing Ian and Zoe’s domestic bitch who needs to get them some crisps and he and Ian trading barbs across the coffee table.

With our bottom two couples, Claudia asks if Mark’s terrified.  He says that he isn’t shocked as Simon was in the bottom two last week despite being incredible (really?).  Mark says if he goes out it will at least be to one of the nicest men he’s met.  Karen says Mark is incredible and so are Tim and Natalie.  Claudia asks Tim how much he wants to be back next week and Tim asks how you rate these things, does he need to say what he’d pay? Ever the bargain hunter, hey?  Tess reveals he calls Natalie his rock and Natalie says she wants to cry.  Awww.

Mark and Karen dance first and in places it’s better than before, but in other places it’s a total state and his feet come out at some very weird angles and overall it's more of a shambles than first time round, which was also a bit messy.  It just makes me a bit mad because it’s such a good choice of quickstep tune and the dance is still not living up to its music.  Tim’s paso is better than before – it’s still quite static and forced, but Natalie is giving it everything and he is trying really hard, although he still struggles with dragging her across the floor.  He then beams a lovely ‘I’ve had a nice time and thank you for having me but thank fuck it’s over’ type smile.

Over to the judges!  Craig saves Mark and Karen.  Darcey does, too.  Bruno makes it a hat-trick and they say their goodbyes.  The audience give Tim and Natalie lots of cheers and Tim says he’ll miss everyone and it’s been great for a man in his 60s to come on and that he’s fitter and a better person thanks to the programme and to Natalie.  Aww.  He says he’s going to move to Australia to stalk Natalie and Tess reminds him he learned to dance for his wife.  The audience give them a standing ovation and then Tim backs away to give Natalie the limelight.  She then flings herself round him in a big hug.  And no, that’s just my contact lens irritating my eye, honest.  They showboat about to ‘Don’t Stop’ in the middle of all the others and then they get mobbed.  The end credits VTs have everyone saying how much they loved Tim, Mark and Scott being relieved they got through, Judy being excited for the Charleston and Frankie being glad the cha cha is over.

Next week! It doesn’t sound like a Halloween special unless they’re still making their mind up about that.  Either way, Steve will be here to guide you through it!

Strictly Come D'awwwwing

Top 13 perform: Saturday 18 October

Last week Steve took you to the movies.  Kevin once more proved to be the king of Paso, Simon found his way in to the bottom two and, Mamma Mia!  Jennifer was sent home after wearing a denim apron over a ballgown couldn’t save her.  Seeing as she went straight back to work filming Mrs Brown’s Boys, I’m not sure she was actually too bothered.

Tonight!  It’s no-theme week!  And the show manages to come under the two hour mark!  (Barely, I grant you, but I’m counting it)  We get a pre-titles montage of the remaining contestants making half-arsed attempts at exercising, which are somewhat incongruous with Tess’s voice over insistence that no-one wants to go home.  Oh well, cue titles!

Tess and Claudia arrive, this time accompanied by Pasha and Anton.  Daly Dresswatch: a deep purple thing with white feathers that look almost like a skeleton’s bones (it’s not a disaster but I do think it might have been better kept for Halloween week).  What Winkleman’s Wearing: black, but spattered all over with pink so it resembles a child’s party frock.  I kind of like it though.  The judges are still dancing on and Darcey is even less invested in this nonsense this week than normal, walking on cringing and then standing about until Craig gives her his hand to walk down to the judges’ chambers.

The stars enter: Jake and Janette; Pixie and Trent; Steve and Ola; Judy and Anton; Mark and Karen; Alison and Aljaž; Frankie and Kevin; Tim and Natalie; Caroline and Pasha; Simon and Kristina; Scott and Joanne; Sunetra and Brendan; Thom and Iveta.  Investment in theme tune jigging?  Most are attempting something, except Judy who stands stiff as a board – although that is dancing for her – Jake, who looks a bit embarrassed, and Caroline who has Pasha all messing about with her skirt.  I’d take Pasha mess- [Redacted as usual – Ed]

The first couple of the evening are Frankie and Kevin.  Last week their paso got the highest score of the series (and kind of the first ten, but we will return to that later).  This week, it was Kevin’s birthday so they go to Grimsby.  Sure enough, they arrive at Grimsby Town station, and sure enough that’s the hypnotic paving in front of it.  BUT THEN!  The rest of the VT (including a wee catch-up with Kevin’s parents who bring him a shop-bought cake still in its plastic.  So invested.) is filmed in CLEETHORPES and not Grimsby at all.  OMG BBC LIES! CALL OFCOM!  (Cleethorpes also has a train station so they may as well have just got off there and wasted less VT time).

Their cha cha cha is to Call Me Maybe and they’re both in a bright blue.  Frankie’s dress has fringing but is much more flattering than the kinds they put Caroline in.  It’s pacey and watchable, but her legs are a bit bent throughout and there’s some pointless posing at the start.  Still, always good to get cha chas out of the way and get onto the good dances, right?

Tess welcomes the fabulous singers, the band and Dave Arch. Somewhere, Bruce is shaking his head as she has not only said that in entirely the wrong order, she’s not waited until song six and someone barked it in her earpiece.  Bladdy women.

Len says Frankie went for it full-on but her footwork sometimes went a bit loose.  Bruno said it had plenty of cheek and she’s a good dancer, but she needs to stretch her knee and press more through the ball of her foot.  Craig says her right arm was unplaced at the beginning and she needs straighter legs, but she has expressive hands and great musicality.  Darcey loved the way she finished each step cleanly and says it was well performed, she could have achieved a straighter leg, but it was fast, fun and cheeky.

They bounce up to the Clauditorium, camera firmly positioned over Frankie’s chest area in case of wardrobe malfunction.  Frankie says the comments were fair enough and Claudia says she wants to eat Frankie’s eyes.  Yum.  Scores: 8, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 36.  Claudia asks if they were pleased with that given they got a ten last week.  ‘Well, a Donny ten… which is half a normal ten.’  GODDESS OF ALL OUR HEARTS FOREVER.

Mark and Karen are next.  He declares last week’s Superman atrocity an out-of-body experience and says he hates having his family in because it makes him cry and look like a ‘bit of a wussy’.  Mark seems to have run out of story already.  To liven things up, he’s wearing a woolly hat to channel his inner Tim and they’re rehearsing in a church hall rather than the nice dance studios/gyms/etc other people seem to get.  He brings Nanny Pat from the TOWIES to training and seems to call Karen Sharon.  Nanny Pat tells him to keep ‘in tune’.  If Mark is singing, I am OUTTA HERE.  My ears haven’t yet recovered from Len last week (or the Strictly singers weekly).

Their quickstep (featuring him in white PJs) is to Tiger Feet (surely that should have been Steve's?) and I judge the lighting people for not having the lights go ‘That’s Wright, That’s Wright’ in the appropriate moments.  This is excellent quickstep music, by the way, and I was surprised to learn it hadn’t been done before (at least not according to the lists on Ultimate Strictly).  It starts well, punchy, kicky and, er, steppy, but then he starts to lose confidence and his footwork gets a bit sloppy and out of time, and his skipping is rubbish and it gets very messy by the end, which is a shame, as I think there was probably a lot of good material in there but the execution didn’t really work in the second half of the dance.

Tess can’t believe Mark hasn’t danced before and Karen says he’s wonderful.  Bruno calls him a fancy white White Knight and says he didn’t go wrong and it was very intricate, but sometimes he didn’t get the footwork right.  So did it go wrong or not, Bruno?  Craig says he liked the arabesque but Mark’s top line and hand went a bit wonky, and he loved all the Charleston sections.  Darcey says she knows ‘the boys’ are complaining about his top line but it has improved and he kept in sync.  Len whines that the trotting was a bit ‘mincified’ (SMH) and then he whines at the audience when they boo for ‘picking on the old bloke’ and snarks that he’s a pensioner.  You want to be careful Len, you know what happened to the last pensioner on here, and there are plenty of fans who’d be more than happy with Head Judge Ian Waite/Erin Boag.

Up in the Clauditorium and everyone goes wild.  Mark says he was nervous but was so excited that he did it afterwards.  Claudia says his other grandma is here (Fie!  Only Alesha is allowed two nans!).  Mark says so is his granddad, who’s his hero and we cut to them in the crowd.  Scores: 7, 7, 7, 8 for a total of 29.
Claudia previews Alison as Beyoncé and Alison does the finger sizzle pose.  Heh.

The next couple are Judy and Anton.  Last week she enjoyed her quickstep more than its predecessors but she needs to clearly loosen up.  She reminds us of her tennis sons who are playing some dumb game or other in Europe instead of getting their priorities straight and whines that they’re never there when she needs them, so she forces them to awkwardly Skype her whilst she lies on the sofa.  Jamie teases her about Craig saying she had rigor mortis.  She then takes great pleasure in telling Andy the Tango is sexy and sultry and he gives the ‘aww no mum’ embarrassed response we’ve been waiting for whilst Judy cackles.  Hurrah!  She tells Andy to sleep well and he says he’ll just watch her last performance.  I love her, but now I kind of feel as if her arc is done, given this is pretty much all we wanted from her.

What I’m not sure I wanted is her in a dress with fleshy bits and then Anton chucking her so hard across the floor she ends up in a heap, legs akimbo, knickers on show.  They’re dancing to ‘Jealousy’ and tango posture actually suits her because it’s a fairly upright and static dance and although she’s mainly walking around, she’s managing to do so in time for the most part.  They end with her running and chucking herself into Anton’s arms where she’s caught once again in an ungainly pose and then he spins her around a lot.  She tries to end by giving him a sultry sex face but just collapses into giggles instead.  Hee.  They get a standing ovation, like those count for anything. 

Craig says ‘thank goodness for those illegal lifts’ for setting the piece off.  Remember when illegal lifts were the kind of thing Brendan would do when he was being a ‘bad boy’ and he’d fight with the judges over them?  Now BLOODY Anton is doing them, AND getting praise?  What happened to the PURITY OF DAHNCE?  Anyway, Craig says her face was blank throughout but her natural stiffness came in handy.  He asks for more aggression.  Anton: ‘More aggression?  Do you think that’s wise?’  Ladies and gentlemen, Anton has made me laugh with something other than his choreography.  Craig says he likes the way Anton threw her around like a bowling ball.  Darcey loved the beginning and end and says she gave it a lot of attack, but she wants the vase shape because she’s been cribbing notes from Ian on ITT.  Len says he knew she’d be good at the tango because she’s used to the back and forth head thing from watching tennis.  He says he couldn’t care less about illegal lifts and it won’t affect his mark.  You’re your own worst enemy, Goodman.  Bruno thought she was going to get flung out of the studio but it worked and it broke her pattern.

They walk sedately up to the Clauditorium, Anton grabbing Judy’s arm in a slightly weird way.  Claudia can’t believe how much Judy trusts Anton.  Anton says she had great attack and commitment.  Scores: 4, 6, 6, 6 for a total of 22 which Anton can’t quite believe: ‘WHAT THE… HAHAHAHA’.

Simon and Kristina are next and Good Lord, they’re dressed as a pearly king and queen and Kristina’s wearing a white bobbed wig for some reason or other.  Last week they ended up in the bottom two and so this week, he needs his personality to come through.  Uh-oh.  Kristina takes him to a café and says Charleston is all about London.  It is?  Not about, you know, CHARLESTON or anywhere?  (Fun fact about Charleston the place.  They have some sort of dance called the shag and a Brit I know once went out there to work for a church and they were having one of these dances as a social event, and every time he got up to talk about ‘shagging’ in church he apparently had the natural schoolboy response we all would to a bemused group of Americans).  They go to ‘the East End market’ to meet a pearly king and queen and do the Lambeth walk.  However, I call BBC LIES yet again, and so soon after the Cleethorpes debacle, too.  There’s no sign of the Minute Mart, Cindy’s Café, the Launderette, Peter Beale’s fruit and veg stall, Kat and Bianca’s stall of tat, Winston’s stall of tapes, nor Aleks and Donna desperately searching for anything resembling a storyline.  Don’t tell me this is THE East End market.  It’s probably one of those pop-up things they do for The Apprentice and they’re saving on filming costs or Summit.

Their Charleston begins in a replica of Bessie.  (OMG can you IMAGINE if they did a Third Doctor themed dance?  Kristina looks enough like Jo Grant to make it work and you could give Simon a bouffant wig and a cape, so that’d be a naturally dramatic outfit for a Paso, possibly infused with some Venusian Aikido for kicks).  They’re dancing to ‘My Old Man’ and it’s ridiculous, but Simon actually gets quite into the daftness of it, pulling his best CBeebies presenter faces throughout.  He embraces the floppier steps well and whilst it might have merited a little more technique in some places, overall it’s a fun routine that seems to play to his strengths.  I had no idea the silliest of all the dances would suit Simon, who sometimes comes across as a bit boring, but there we have it – as The Apprentice has taught us, in every quiet week one candidate there’s a raging loon waiting to come out.

Darcey says she knew there was a dancer in him and the fast, cheeky style really suited him.  Len said he didn’t dilly or dally and he put a smile on the old boat race and if Simon doesn’t get through he’ll pickuw even more wawnuts.  Bruno says he kept in character, kept in contact with his partner and had a focused performance.  Craig says thank goodness for him finally showing personality. He loved the birdy flap and says the choreography really suited him.  Scores: 7, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 31.  Claudia gets them into position and Simon says ‘yes boss’, to which she replies ‘correct.’  Claudia is on fire tonight.

Alison and Aljaž are the next couple and their VT involves Alison bringing a cardboard Jay-Z to the training room to embrace her inner Beyoncé because they’re dancing their samba to Bootylicious by Destiny’s Child.  You know who else was in Destiny’s Child? CHANNEL THIS NEXT PLEASE.  (I was also surprised Bootylicious hadn’t been used before)

Alison wears a Gold dress with finging and a headband and she’s had some blonde extensions stuck in the back of her hair.  The dance has a lot of sass and she can do the rolls fine, but when they’re in hold it’s a bit walky.  The footwork is laboured and I think this is probably an issue with being a larger woman, it’s never going to be possible for her to get a huge amount of bounce or swivel.

Len says it had plenty of bounce and energy but her footwork was a bit suspect at times.  Bruno says she’s good at going ‘to Funky Town’ but samba is all about the bounce and foot placement.  She has high energy and performance value but needs to sort her feet out.  Craig says the footwork is quite flat although he’s not sure she should have attempted the bachacadas, but Alison says she loved them and does some more, which makes Craig giggle and say she’s giving the fringing the time of its life.  Darcey says she’s got it back and she saw the hips working and she wanted to be part of that party on the dancefloor.

Claudia asks her to do the ‘budgerigars’ again and Alison corrects her.  Claudia says Beyonce is in London and Alison says ‘Do you think she’s watching?  Hi B, see you later’.  And if you’ve never seen this, by the way, it’s definitely worth 7 mins 27 seconds of your time.  Scores: 6, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 27 which makes Alison very happy indeed.  Claudia tries to get Alison to do tango face and Alison’s two attempts are a) confused and b) camp gay sitcom character from the 70s.

Scott and Joanne next and Scott VTs that after dressing as a crab on TV, he can do anything.  Their training footage sees him failing to lift and catch Joanne so he gets in another showbiz pal – his niece Emily, who says ‘Uncle Scott needs to be a better dancer’ and then corrects his steps and posture.  Bless.

Their American Smooth is to the not-especially-obvious choice of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ as sung by an alley of strangled cats and bless the staging crew who’ve replicated the set from the video – all church windows, candelabra, dry ice and floating cloth.  In homage, there is some very literal choreography, involving Scott turning around.  The rest of it is pretty nothingy, with Joanne attempting some contemporary wafting and Scott pretty much just walking around or standing still but when Joanne launches herself at him he doesn’t drop her, which is something, I guess, and then, for some reason, he seems to end in a pose that crosses the Brucie and the Thinker.  Scott tells Tess he did an air-grab ‘like I was in Westlife’ and says it went wrong several times.

Bruno says it was supposed to be an American Smooth but it was more of an American Tragedy and it was really bizarre and he went wrong so many times he lost count, he says it’s like a puzzle where you have all the pieces and none of them fit together, which takes some doing.  Scott actually looks a bit hurt by this, bless him.  Scott tells Craig he’s his favourite and Craig says he wishes he could say the same but Scott is the exception that proves the rule that anyone can learn to dance.  Aww.  The audience boo and Craig dismisses it with an ‘oh please’ and they quickly accede.  Tess begs Darcey to give Scott a bit of love.  She says she was having an out of body experience but saw moments in the top line and asks him to watch the male pros and how they do their lines and shapes and visualise that for himself to try and absorb it.  Len says all the celebrities are taught the routine and they then have to interpret it in their own way and Scott looks like he’s taught, as if he’s doing it in bits and pieces – it needs naturalness and flair and ‘it is what it is’. 

In the Clauditorium they get a warm welcome and Claudia congratulates them on using the best song ever written.  Scott says ‘it’s Bonnie Tyler, not me.’  Claudia: ‘It doesn’t matter.’  She then lies that the singers sang it beautifully.  I mean, I know we sometimes give them perhaps more stick than they deserve, but that was seriously painful.  Scores: 2, 5, 4, 4 for a total of 15 and an ‘oooh’ face from Scott.  Claudia says not to focus on the total.

Claudia previews ‘Tim.  Doing a Paso.  To Tina Turner.  All of these things are happening.’  Worth.  Her weight.  In gold.

Steve and Ola are next and if you weren’t bored of ANIMALZ being his gimmick, Wild Thing soundtracks their VT.  Steve says he’s spent a lot of time in South America but never been able to join in.  So, taking Donny’s advice to go clubbing, Ola takes Steve to a salsa night and he hits Ola in the face.  Bet James Jordan took that well.

They’re dancing to ‘Jump in the Line’ and it’s really fun.  Ola has got Steve’s tits out (he’s wearing a red shirt… just) and he beams a big grim throughout.  It’s a bit dad dancing in places rather than sexy Latino and some of the lifts are a little ungainly (Ola screams ‘I’m alive!’ afterwards) but it’s an enjoyable enough routine and if he continues his Chris-Hollins-but-less-annoying journey, I wouldn’t rule out Ola as being the first pro to win twice.

Craig says he needed more hip action but the armography was good.  Tess says Steve really wanted to impress Darcey.  Oh Tess, I know you love a showmance, but give it up.  Darcey says her husband is in the audience but she loved the lifts.  Len says there was plenty of rhythm in the shoulders but less in the hips and he’s very watchable.  Bruno says he made the most of his pecs appeal and screams ‘shake me, take me, any way you want me’ and the energy and style were there but the hips weren’t.

In the Clauditorium, Steve declares dancers ‘nails’ because he thought he was fit before but now he’s worked so hard.  Scores: 6, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 27.  If anything, I think that might have been a mark or two under-scored.

Training footage from the couples coming up!  None of it is interesting enough to recap!

But what is worth recapping is the next bit.  Tess announces that coming up we have Tim as a matador, Jake as Elvis and Tom as a florist, which is our cue for Claudia to come on as Elvis in a matador jacket clutching flowers and just about, kind of, keeping a straight face.  She then bends down to give Tess the flowers and her glasses fall down her face.  So cute.

Pixie and Trent are next and their VT reminds us that they look like brother and sister, not a couple at all, thanks, TESS.  So she takes him home to meet her family.  Oh, Pixie.  They even get out all the embarrassing baby photos.  Her sister VTs that she can’t wait to see her bridesmaid’s dress what Pixie’s got coming up next.

Their rumba is to Stay With Me and features Pixie in a purple frock on a glittery bed, even though Trent’s the one who looks like he’s in (undone at the top) PJs.  It’s very contemporary dance, and it allows Pixie a lot of opportunity to show off how high she can stretch her leg up and there’s a very impressive spin, but only some of it actually resembles a rumba.  And, as you might expect, it’s more romantic and sweet than sexy but we all know which pro actually favours a chaste rumba.  And then Pixie ends up sitting on the bed crying and Tess asks her what’s wrong, assuming it was a step or something, and then realises, with surprise, that Pixie is overcome with emotion.

Darcey says she was relaxed and into her storytelling but she’d like more physicality and tension in the body.  Len says there was a lot of posing and it was missing a lot of rumba, although her dancing was beautiful.  Bruno says he saw the most wonderful mood for love, with some lovely shaping but tonight all the hips are wrong and it was missing that sense of sensuous motion.  Craig loved the split drag and her performance was exquisite, although her walks could do with more pressure, but he loved it anyway.
Claudia offers her a tissue and Pixie says she really wanted to get into the character for that dance.  Scores: 8, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 32.

Tim and Natalie are next and Natalie says ‘hello’ right down the lens and blows us a kiss.  Hi Natalie!  Tess gets a slightly-better-than-Bruce Craig jibe in when she talks about Craig giving Tim a 2 last week and she’s found something useful to do with the cape – upon which she drapes it over Craig’s head and gives us her best ‘come on guys, I know it was cheesy but at least give me this one’ face.  Tess is endearing when she’s being a bit of a goof.  Either that or being the straight woman, producers.  Never try to make her be anything else.

Tim’s paso is to ‘The Best’ and he is dressed as a matador with a golden cape.  He makes a decent attempt at caping for someone who’s clearly not the most natural mover.  The dance features a fair bit of Natalie skirt swishing and pulling fierce faces down the camera to cover his moves and there’s a very awkward drag where he stumbles and she kind of pushes herself against him and across the floor at the same time.  He’s not really in character much and it’s quite static rather than fluid but at least he’s giving all the steps a go.

Len says he was looking forward to the paso last week but ‘be careful what you wish for’ although he gave it a go.  Ugh, I said nearly the same thing as Len.  I feel soiled.  Bruno says he looked like a mildly irritated goat.  Craig says it was rather strange and needed more performance, and the only bits with punch were his arms.  Darcey says it was an improvement on last week but she missed the creepy perv-stalker aspect of the dance.

In the Clauditorium Natalie says he improved a lot from last week.  Scores: 3, 6, 5, 5 for a total of 19 which Tim says is ‘quite respectable really.’  Adorable.

Sunetra and Brendan are the next couple (but sadly not the final one, even though it feels like this show has been on FOR EVER already).  Sunetra loved her dance last week, especially getting a 9 (and not even a Donny 9).  To get Sunetra in the salsa rhythm, Brendan has brought some bongos and Mexican hats, so she one-ups him and gets in a salsa band to play a song that doesn’t in any way resemble the one they’re dancing to.

Which is, in fact, ‘Turn the Beat Around’ and I can no longer hear this song without thinking of Pitch Perfect, I’m afraid.  Sunetra’s wearing a pink and silver dress that makes her bust look enormous.  The dance is a bit sloppy and ungainly and more like your mum after a few Lambrinis than a technically brilliant salsa (and there’s a Wagner tribute where they slap some bongos and glitter bounces off them) but, like Steve, Sunetra looks like she’s having enough fun to make it an enjoyable enough watch and vaguely cover up some of its flaws.  What isn’t covered up so much is Brendan, who has a major wardrobe malfunction at the end due to the super-tight trousers he’s been shoved into. 

Bruno tells Sunetra she’s nearly broken Brendan but she’s a clever girl as her performance covers up the mistakes she made.  Craig says she needs to be stiffer in the lifts and to ‘channel Judy’ and he says that it lacked some fluidity but was enjoyable.  Darcey says she’s worked really hard but if she makes her steps smaller she’ll be more in control of the dance.  Len says he couldn’t take his eyes off Brendan’s bits and it wasn’t her best but it wasn’t her worst.  Helpful critique from the head judge there.

Aljaž goes right for Brendan’s bits once they reach the Clauditorium.  Sunetra says she’s never been lifted and it was an experience to then come back down and dance.  Everyone is so cute tonight.  Scores: 6, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 27.

Thom and Iveta are next and Thom appears to be dressed as a beige barrow boy but wearing a Technicolor cravat.  It’s a look, I guess.  Their VT features Iveta being the boss and Thom getting his revenge by teaching her rubgy.  Of course Iveta excels because: Iveta.  (This VT also reminded me of when Gavin took Katya to the rugby and made me miss Katya)

Their foxtrot is to ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ and is very loosely based around Thom being a flower seller (he and Iveta both wear flowers and there’s a barrow on stage).  He is, interestingly, better out of hold than in it, showing more personality and a better synchronisation with Iveta, although it’s not a disaster by any means even when in hold, and it’s quite sweet.

Craig says he needs to watch some of his positioning but it was cute rather than saccharine.  Darcey says it was charming and he held his frame and gave a nice performance.  Len makes awful puns I won’t recap and offers no critique as usual.  Bruno flirts a bit and says he can see the improvement in performance.
Tom gives Claudia his flower and breaks the hearts of many.  She tells him to just wait until the wrap party.  Scores: 6, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 30.

HOORAY there are just two couples left, and they’re both people I like.

Jake and Janette are the penultimate pairing.  Jake was pleased that he gave a solid performance last week.  Janette tells him he’s going to be Elvis, one of the coolest, sexiest men ever.  Given the string of implausibly attractive women Max Branning has bedded, Jake apparently has no trouble being sexy.  He flirts a bit with his TV ex-mother in law whilst, presumably, the script writers compile a hurried new plot line for him.

Their jive is to ‘Hound Dog’ and he has his name in lights all around him.  That’s JAKE, people, not Max.  His hips and legs are fantastic as ever, with some great kicks and swivels that really suit the music although there's one bit where he clearly stumbles.  He recovers well, though and they even get in a few comedy moves, including some patented Jordan playing your partner like a guitar action.  It’s fast, energetic, funny and lovely.  The black and white outfits they were both wearing also looked good and suited the dance.  Well done, everyone.

Darcey loves the dynamics, especially the height of his kicks.  Len says his posture faltered in places and one of his arms was a bit unsure but it was a full on dynamic performance.  Bruno says if he got his knees any higher, he’d have knocked Janette out, but whilst his legs are great, he needs to get his arms to match.  Craig says there were some awkward moments where his free arm didn’t know what to do but the energy and performance were great.

Jake says he likes the jive and is a bit too out of breath to say much more.  Scores: 8, 9, 8, 8 for a total of 33.  Claudia then does another super-fast lyric-filled link and her punchline is to clutch her earpiece and go ‘What?  A Little Less Conversation’ and then grins triumphantly.  Imagine how long that would have taken Bruce and how much he’d have begged the audience to laugh.

Caroline and Pasha are the final couple of the night and he shows off by dancing on a treadmill.  She attempts it by running in the air.  Basically, it’s a VT of cheeky banter with Caroline pushing the sexual tension trolling for all its worth.  I love her.

Their quickstep is to ‘We Go Together’ and it’s set in a fairground with both in pastels.  It’s very fast, especially the spins and she keeps up with the pace well although loses her footing a couple of times.  They end with Pasha grabbing a person-sized teddy bear and both of them giving it a smoosh, completing the many moments of coooot tonight.  Then a load of confetti drops everywhere LIKE A WEDDING. 
Len says it was the best dance of the night for him.  Bruno says he can’t believe how she changes character each week although she did have some slip-ups with her footwork and he can’t wait for her to do another quickstep in a few weeks’ time, which: WHAT?  Craig and Darcey also loved it.

Pasha clings to the teddy as they run upstairs to the Clauditorium.  Scores: 8, 8, 9, 8 for a total of 33.  Caroline: ‘LOVE that 9!’  Hee.

Leaderboard time!
Jake and Janette 33
Caroline and Pasha 33
Frankie and Kevin 32
Pixie and Trent 32
Simon and Kristina 31
Thom and Iveta 30
Mark and Karen 29
Alison and Aljaž 27
Steve and Ola 27
Sunetra and Brendan 27
Judy and Anton 22
Tim and Natalie 19
Scott and Joanne 15

So there’s… a lot of bunching and then the bottom three, then.  But as we all know, NO-ONE IS SAFE so come back here soon when two of these adorable little poppets will face the dance-off.  Awwww :(   

Saturday, 18 October 2014

This week on It Takes Two, we have learnt...

- Judging by the dancing kids videos, beige curtains are in in British homes.  (My own curtains are CREAM, not beige how very dare you.  Well, a beigey-cream)
- Before the show, Tim and Janette were under the sad delusion that Donny would know what the show was all about.
- Judy was channeling her inner Helen Mirren for movie week.
- Duncan From Blue was a bit disappointed with Simon’s score on Saturday.
- Len goes to the toilet five minutes before showtime.  LIVING ON THE EDGE.
- Zoe always gets her pirouettes and chaines turns confused.
- Despite having been a musical theatre star at least once, Craig doesn't know what singing has to do with dancing.  (Insert joke about a decade of listening to the Strictly singers here)
- Joanne told Scott to have fun being a crab on TV.  Scott's face tells us that may not have been his idea of fun.
- Scott’s producer Chris wants “the crab dance” to be the new Gangnam Style.
- The samba was the first dance where Scott wasn’t completely terrified beforehand.
- Judy enjoyed her performance at the time, but on watching her quickstep back, she thought she looked like she was wearing an ironing board.
- There are two ways of leading a woman across the floor in a dance, per Anton: you either guide her with your body, or “you just tell her”
- Judy's lipstick shade was 'trending online', whatever that phrase is meant to mean.
- Judy and Anton's illegal lift was deliberate.
- Judy has no intention of ripping Anton's kit off, for which we are all truly grateful.
- Craig had a dream about Simon Cowell on Sunday night. He was wearing jeans. (Simon, not Craig.)
- Tristan is married. Sorry ladies (and some gentlemen).
- Brendan O’Carroll claims that Jennifer’s hugs are “almost as good as Tristan’s”.
- Mark Wright is ill.
- Slow dances are the hardest. One of these days we’re going to feed all of this data into a spreadsheet and calculate the exact order of hardness for dances.
- Simon is normally good at hiding his emotions.
- Kristina is quite bossy in training.
- Karen Hardy thinks it would be a disaster for Steve to loosen up, so he should definitely not go clubbing. In other words: nobody should listen to Donny.
- Singing along is a big no-no, because if you don’t know the right words, you’ll probably get the dance wrong as well.
- Scott is “über-cool funny, not panto-funny” (according to Karen Hardy).
- People recording their own versions of ITT pre-credits routines is now a thing.
- Karen bought Kevin “a nice grey jumper” for his birthday. I wonder if it’s the Emoti-shirt from The Apprentice?
- Frankie is afraid of the cha cha because it's 'weird'.
- Iveta’s training room outfits remain amazing.
- Zoe and Ian think inside Iveta's wardrobe should be a regular feature.  YES IT SHOULD.
- Ola only weighs 20 kilos. Says Ola.
- Caroline screams and grunts in training like a Wimbledon champion.
- Scott is scared of lifting Joanne in the American smooth because he has already dropped her three times.
- Aljaž, on the other hand, has never dropped Alison.
- Alison is plotting to get Will Smith and George Clooney on the judging panel. She is confident that she would get a 10 from both of them.
- Pixie points out that you only get one chance at the rumba.  As opposed to all the other dances, presumably.
- The thought of Mark in white makes Vicky Gill giggle.
- The reason there have been so many slim-fit trousers this year is because there are so many young men in the cast.
- Jake’s kids have made their own scoreboard for him at home. D’aww.
- Jake prefers Frank Sinatra to Elvis.
- Zoe seems to think “Sunetra” and “Sarker” are two separate people.
- Mark is jealous that Pixie always gets called safe before he does.
- Tim can make green accessories work.  Kind of.
- If you Wonna be my lover is a great under-name caption for Tim.
- Natalie has yet to see Tim turn up for rehearsals not wearing a hat.
- Zoe cried watching Sunetra and Brendan last Saturday.
- Even wearing her special glittery “left” and “right” gloves still hasn’t helped Sunetra to tell the difference.
- Stephen Mulhern and Vanessa Feltz both want to see Alison in the final.
- Vanessa Feltz thinks that telling the contestants not to think about the steps is unhelpful advice, because it just makes you…forget the steps.
- Stephen Mulhern thinks that Thom Evans “hasn’t got a lot of swing-about”. He’s obviously not seen the same photo shoots that I have.
- Stephen Mulhern thinks Caroline “could be a dark horse”, so he clearly didn’t watch Dancing On Wheels.
- Vanessa Feltz thinks Tim might go, Stephen Mulhern thinks Tim and Judy, Kelly Hoppen thinks Scott or “Julie”, whoever she might be.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Cathy Go Home

Week 3: Top 14 Results - 12 October 2014

Okay, so yesterday I thought that Natalie as Drunk Liza was going to be the best thing that happened this weekend, and maybe I was wrong because the results show opens with a group number to 'Step In Time' from Mary Poppins, and not only does it feature Natalie flying in from the sky as a cracked-out Poppins, but it also features the male pros as a variety of sooted-up Dick Van Dykes. (Hey, you have your fantasies and I have mine, let's not judge anybody.) I mean, I'm fairly certain that this particular nanny would terrify children rather than enchant them, but honestly Natalie as a governess in a backless dress is the sort of Victorian nightmare I never knew I always wanted. And fair enough, this pro number might not be to everyone's taste because it's entirely musical theatre choreography and making no pretence at being ballroom or Latin American, but hey, a change is as good as a rest. Besides, we should count our blessings, because on Dancing With The Stars this is the sort of shit they actually make the celebrities do. (Did you know that they actually do contemporary on DWTS these days? I am dying to see Artem wafting about and being scored out of ten for it.) [Didn't we just have several series of that anyway? - Rad]

Tess and Claudia appear from the prop chimneys, and there's an excellent in-joke about Claudia's make-up habits as both of her lower eyelids have been painted completely black and she's carrying a chimney brush. Tess asks her if she's all right, and Claudia responds "yes, just been touching up my eye make-up" with exactly the right panto inflection. Seriously, she is so good at this show. Claudia forever. (Daly Dresswatch: a black off-the-shoulder number. What Winkleman's Wearing: a red two-piece.) [And, scriptwriters take note, Tess works much better as Claudia's straight woman than as a comedian in her own right - Rad]

The judges return, and it is with great regret that I must announce that not only are they flailing onto the stage in pairs again, but that Donny Osmond is still here and still, apparently, a judge. Tess promises that Donny will be performing "a classic movie song" in the studio later. I've got my fingers crossed for this, I don't know about the rest of you.

But before all that, another non-chronological recap of last night's events. We begin in hair and make-up, where Alison reveals that she's very nervous about her shoes because they've just been changed, and Jennifer tells us that the first record she ever bought was a Donny Osmond one, so she's very excited he's in to judge tonight. Much to my distress, we only get to hear Hot Greg The Floor Manager this week, but not see him. I mean, I'll take what I can get, but I was still hoping for more. Alison always comes out and performs, Thom gave his best performance yet, Jake is the coolest man in the room, Judy was giving Len a Saturday night fever, Jennifer was all over the place, Tim was too focused on character over technique, Simon needs to believe in himself and Kristina is proud of him, Scott and Joanne were very excited about getting a seven even if it was only from Donny, Steve gave his best dance so far, Mark was Superman and Bruno quite liked it, Sunetra gave us a little Ginger Rogers and screamed the house down after getting a 9 from Len, Donny mistook Caroline for a pro and she was very glad to have him on board, Pixie and Trent found their scores to be "magnifique", Kevin runs through the doors to the backstage area screaming "I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!" (<3) after getting a 10 from Donny.

But from those high times, we now go to Tess clutching her cue cards, and that means it's judgement day. First, the following six couples are safe: Pixie and Trent, Jake and Janette, Alison and Aljaž, Mark and Karen, Sunetra and Brendan, and Tim and Natalie. The first couple in the dance-off this week is...Simon and Kristina. Oof. I suspected he'd probably be involved in the first SHOCK BOTTOM TWO of the series, but I didn't think it would be quite so early on. Then again, he was on early with an underachieving routine, so perhaps it's not that much of a surprise. Either way, Simon looks alarmed and Kristina looks pissed off, as you might expect. [Poor Kristina and another of her hot-prospects-on-paper-who-turns-out-to-be-rubbish.  I'm beginning to think she's cursed - Rad] Darcey says that she's shocked, and that Simon definitely shouldn't be here. If that's the case, Darce, perhaps you shouldn't have scored him only one point higher than Alison, Jennifer, Judy, Tim and Scott? Just a thought. Simon mumbles that "it is what it is" and they've worked hard, so he just hopes they can impress the judges this time. Tess turns to Donny and says that he found himself in the bottom two on Dancing With The Stars and went on to win (which is a lie, Donny was never in the bottom two once the viewer vote had been added to the overall score), and Donny babbles about being at the bottom of the leaderboard in week seven (nope, he was at the bottom of the leaderboard in weeks eight and nine, does nobody on this show do their research?) and then his son came up to him and said something about winning it for All The Osmonds Everywhere, and Donny came back to win, so Simon had better damn well do it for his daughter. Meanwhile Kristina's all "fuck that, WIN IT FOR ME. I've been here since series six and I only got the merest sniff of the trophy with Jason Donovan. IT'S MY TIME, DAMMIT." [Neva4get CHRISTMAS GLITTERBALL BARROWMAN - Rad] Also, as a pep-talk that was fairly useless, because there's a world of difference between having a rough week with the judges when there are only four or five contestants left, and learning that you polled somewhere near the bottom of 14 people. One of these is not like the other.

Meanwhile, the six safe couples are toasting their good fortune up in the Clauditorium. Tim, who has a massive lipstick print on his cheek (either that or he's developed some wicked liver spots in the last hour or so) says that he's extremely relieved to be safe, and chuckles that he's looking forward to seeing his paso next week. Pixie, we're told, will be doing the rumba next week, and Pixie says that it will be the opposite of what they were doing tonight. Well, not quite, dear. That said, I am very much looking forward to Human Ken Doll Trent performing The Dance Of Physical Love. Alison's excited to be through because she's doing the samba next. Mark plays the Nan Card nice and early by telling us that his nan (Nanny Pat, presumably?) is in the audience.

Then Donny Osmond sings 'Moon River'. *fast-forward*

From bad to worse, we then move on to Len's Lens, and fortunately Donny's guest judge duties do not extend to him being invited to partake in this section. Len talks about Frankie's paso, but I'd be amazed if there was a single heterosexual woman or homosexual man (or bisexual person of either gender) who wasn't staring at Kevin's arse in those tight red trousers in slo-mo and ignoring every single thing that Len says. Even more than usual. Then we see Simon's rumba in slo-mo as well, which really does it absolutely no favours. (Also, stop calling it a "roomba". That's a vacuum cleaner.) Then we see Mark's jeté in his paso doble, which Craig reads for filth, but credits Mark for attempting something so technical. Then Claudia calls Scott's character in The Little Mermaid a lobster (HE IS A CRAB!!!!), and Bruno says that Scott still needs to sort out "a few technical aspects" of his performances. In much the same way that the Liberal Democrats need to sort out "a few PR problems" right now, no doubt. In other news: Anton screamed like a banshee when lifting Judy, and some more people think we are interested in seeing their kids dancing. TAKE IT TO FACEBOOK, folks. (For some reason, Darcey is the technical expert called upon to remind people to film their children in landscape orientation, not portrait. I don't know why this is a thing that happened but it's so surreal as to be funny so I'll let it go.)

Over to Tess, who's now going to reveal which of the remaining couples will be here next week. Safe and advancing are: Caroline and Pasha, Scott and Joanne, Frankie and Kevin, Steve and Ola, Thom and Iveta, and Judy and Anton, meaning that Jennifer and Tristan are going home. I mean, "in the dance-off". But come on, they're clearly going home. This is all a formality at this point. Tess asks Len if he's surprised to see Jennifer here again, and Len says that he is because she looked so much more relaxed this week, as though that's the sort of thing the public take into consideration when voting. Len tells Jennifer to raise her game in the dance-off the way she did last week, though little short of her suddenly mutating into Frankie is going to save her at this point. Tess asks Jennifer if she's going to do that, and Jennifer quotes her song: "mamma mia, here I go again!" Hee. Aw, I'm sad to be losing Jennifer. She may not be much of a dancer, but she seems like a thoroughly nice person. [I agree.  Although I don't yet dislike any of the remaining celebs - Rad] Tess asks Donny what he's looking for, and Donny tells her to take some risks and enjoy the dance.

Claudia's with the second batch of saved couples, and Frankie says that she still hasn't recovered from getting the first 10 of the series and asks if Donnie can come back. NO HE CANNOT. Seriously, I've already put in a call to have his working visa rescinded. FOREVER. Judy admits that she's shocked to have been saved again, and was thinking that this might be the last time she saw any of these people. Including Anton, who's probably all set to change the locks the second she gets eliminated. Claudia tells Judy that she's got the tango next week and Judy's all "piece of cake". Then we have a convenient segue to Scott, who just looks like he's been tangoed, and Claudia asks him if he has a message for the voters. Scott, in perhaps his most likeable moment of the series so far, first of all verifies that Claudia wants him to deliver a sincere piece to camera while styled as a glittery Papa Lazarou, and then looks straight down the camera and thanks his supporters "for voting at this difficult time". Hee.

After a brief interlude to plug It Takes Two, where apparently Zoe has recruited Ian and Robin into her domestic staff (this show does like to put its homosexuals into stereotyped roles, doesn't it?), we return to the Clauditorium where Tess has returned to her old stomping ground as Jennifer and Tristan and Simon and Kristina await their fate. Claudia asks if Jennifer will take Donny's advice and take more risks, and Tristan responds that they're always trying to do that, but they do, y'know, need to try to remember the technique and trivial shit like that. Claudia sends them down to get into position while Tess turns to Simon and Kristina, neither of whom seem to have cheered up much, and Simon says he will try to do more hips this time and try to live within the moment while he's dancing. A teary-sounding Kristina tells Simon that she's so proud of him and she knows how hard he's worked, and he's her perfect partner. That's a little bit too much like Brucie's "you're my favourite", isn't it?

Jennifer and Tristan reprise their foxtrot first, and the bit where Tristan physically spins Jennifer around is still in there, so either she messed up in exactly the same way twice or it's just an awkward piece of choreography. She really goes for the miming even more than before, and she does seem more relaxed and like she's enjoying it more this time, but that doesn't really solve the central problem of the incoherent theming of the dance. Still, it's probably the best performance she was ever likely to do within those parameters, so I guess that makes it a success of sorts.

In a nice bit of camaraderie, Simon does a little "whoop whoop" gesture when Jennifer finishes, and Jennifer shoots him two thumbs up in response. Then Simon reprises his rumba and, unsurprisingly, he hasn't suddenly learned how to use his hips properly in the two or three hours since he performed this the first time, but he's working harder to sell it this time, and there's at least some semblance of a connection between the two of them, which does make a difference.

We then go over to the judges for the decision, and dear god, Donny Osmond is sitting there. Does this mean...if Craig and Darcey vote the same way (which they clearly will), does he get the casting vote? What the SHIT? This is so very wrong. Craig votes to save Simon and Kristina. Darcey thinks both couples improved "100 per cent" in the dance-off, but votes to save Simon and Kristina. Donny congratulates them both for committing to their last dances, and votes for Simon and Kristina, so Jennifer and Tristan are out. Obviously. Tess fulfils contractual obligations by asking Len and Bruno if they would've voted the same way, and of course they would.

Jennifer is crying a bit, possibly because she's had the terrible misfortune to be eliminated while wearing a denim pinny (it's not exactly up there in The Great Erin Boag Catalogue Of Catastrophic Elimination Outfits, but it probably merits an honourable mention somewhere at the back). Jennifer says that she didn't know how to dance before she arrived, and she now knows how to jive, waltz and foxtrot - "however badly or otherwise, I've learned three dances." She adds that Tristan will "remain one of the family", which almost sounds like a threat given what she does for a living. Tristan says that Jenny tried her best, and it's a shame that they won't get to dance together again, but it's been a pleasure to get to know her. Bye Tristan! We will miss your chest hair. Please bring it back for the group dances.

Tess encourages us to tune in for the Top 13 next week, which Rad will be here to guide you through, and then Jennifer has a bit of an episode when the band strikes up 'My Heart Will Go On' for her final dance, so she deals with the trauma the same way any sane woman would: by hurling herself into Tristan's arms, and then into Aljaž's. Attagirl.

Final thoughts: Alison's really going to miss Jenny, Tim says, rather amusingly specifically, that the "kindness that has oozed out of [Jenny] over the last three-to-four weeks has been amazing", Simon's glad to get at least one more week,  a rather tone-deaf Mark says it's been AN AMAZING WEEK, Caroline can remember nothing about this week already, Iveta warns Thom that every week's training is going to get harder and he deadpans "great", and we're outta there.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Saturday night at the movies

Week 3: Top 14 Perform (Movie Week) - 11 October 2014

Just to keep things interesting, there's no recap of last week at the top of the show; instead we go into the first of many (many, many) comedy VTs, this one focused on the celebs "auditioning" for their Movie Week roles. Jake and Caroline audition with a scene from Forrest Gump, with Jake as an amusingly dead-eyed Forrest and Caroline as the woman next to him on the park bench who is none too pleased to discover that the box of chocolates that serves as a metaphor for life is in fact "disappointing and empty". Simon and Steve do the "I'm flying!" scene from Titanic, although Steve seems to be wearing Joanne's The Little Mermaid wig for reasons best known to himself. (Also I'm amazed he managed to tolerate Simon's hands around his midriff without his usual gay-panic fluster, but perhaps he's growing as a person.) Thom, Pixie and Tim (in a ginger wig!) attempt to be Harry Potter, Hermione and Ron, but Thom's wand isn't functioning properly. (Odd, that's never been a problem in any of his Dieux du Stade photoshoots.) Alison, Mark and Scott are auditioning for ET, but apparently Alison isn't entirely convincing in her audition to play a five-year-old white girl. Sunetra and Judy are auditioning for Jaws and neither one of them can keep a straight face, which I'm fairly certain was not the gag as scripted but hey, it works for me, and Jennifer just decides to bolt before her audition even starts. After all, it's not as if she's used to men in drag and punchlines that don't really land in her day job or anything. Cue titles!

If you thought the recent gimmick of having the judges pirouette on at the beginning was a bit excessive and hammy, you're not going to like what's coming: we open with a group dance to 'There's No Business Like Show Business', sung by the judges. Craig gets the first two lines, and Len gets the next one. Len can't really sing, but in the grand tradition of Len I'm going to award him a couple of bonus points for COMIN AHHT and GIVIN IT SUM GERCHA all the same. Bruno picks up from there and is disappointingly quiet, and then Special Guest Judge Donny Osmond hams up it up good. Darcey, in arguably the most sensible decision she'll make all series, does not join in with the singing at all. Imagine how great it would have been if Alesha had still been here for this: she could have broken it down and done some freestyle MCing in the middle eight. Strictly with the bump and flex! From there the band take over the singing, and I don't think any of us have ever been so glad to hear them. Points of interest during the rest of the number: the cut to Judy on the line about "a turkey that you know will fold", Pixie being inexplicably styled to look like Denise Van Outen, Darcey attempting to join a kickline in a dress that completely restricts her movement below the knees, Sunetra (as far as I can tell) being the only celeb who gets to use her actual outfit for her main dance in this number as well. [I think poor Jennifer was in the same dreadful dress, just sans demin pinny - Rad]

Once again Tess and Claudia are escorted down the stairs by Brendan and Aljaž. Daly Dresswatch: a white scoopneck top paired with a simple black skirt. (Her outfits this year, with a few notable exceptions, do seem to be a lot more flattering. Could it be that Bruce was behind all those hideous ensembles from years gone by after all?) What Winkleman's Wearing: black, obviously. In the audience: Nick Grimshaw and Denise Van Outen. She's sitting down, just like she did for the entirety of Chicago! Claudia reminds us that Donny Osmond is here, as if we'll be given any chance to forget that at any point tonight, and Tess reminds us that Movie Night will not prompt a sequel for Gregg Wallace, who was the first one to be booted out last week.

Let's welcome our box office draws, shall we? Jake and Janette (in mostly black), Pixie and Trent (as Belle and Lumière, which is so perfect I can't even), Steve and Ola (in matching leopard print), Judy and Anton (in gold sequins - Judy, thankfully, not Anton), Mark and Karen (as Superman and...Wonder Woman? Can that be right?), Alison and Aljaž (both in various degrees of red), Frankie and Kevin (Kevin sporting some natty red trousers), Tim and Natalie (with Natalie as Liza Minnelli, which has guaranteed them my vote before they've even done anything), Caroline and Pasha (with Pasha in silver trousers and a jacket unzipped to the navel so they're clearly going to be fighting Tim and Natalie for my support every step of the way), Simon and Kristina (him in an aviator jacket, her in a man's shirt), Jennifer and Tristan (with Tristan's chest hair out to play once again, and a nice tight pair of white trousers - seriously, good job this week, costume department), Scott and Joanne (wearing a mere suggestion of their actual costumes for this evening, so let's save the full horror for later), Sunetra and Brendan (yep, definitely the same outfit she had on for the group dance), and finally Thom and Iveta (with Thom in a sailor suit, so I guess that despite his wand problems from earlier, he's still got some very able seamen).

Once they're all in place, Claudia welcomes this week's "plot twist", the presence of guest judge Donny Osmond, and Tess reminds us that he won Dancing With The Stars. And if you think the gimmicky theme weeks on this show are insultingly cheesy, take a look at Donny's 80s paso doble right here. (Also, if you think we get a raw deal on the guest judge front, they've got Jessie J filling in for Len this week. JESSIE J.) Donny says that he knows what it's like to be in their shoes right now, and that he'll bring "an interesting perspective". I place a preliminary call to the Trades Descriptions Act.

Up first tonight are Alison and Aljaž. Tess tells us that Alison has been looking forward to this week because "she spends most of her working life interviewing the starsfilmstars and tonight she gets to be one". Smooth, Tess. Smooth. Alison tells us that she enjoyed her "character-driven" foxtrot last week - she was a bit disappointed with her scores, but is still happy that she scored above five. It's almost as if something's being foreshadowed here, isn't it? This week Alison has the jive to 'Footloose' from Footloose. She says that it's a perfect fit for her, because it's a film about people who love dancing, and she loves dancing - she loves it so much that she even dances when she's not rehearsing with Aljaž. That's pretty much it. There's not much of a narrative here. (Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but Footloose isn't so much a "a film about people who love dancing" as it is a film about an overly pious minister trying to outlaw fun. I'm amazed they managed to resist making any sort of joke about Craig here.)

They begin the routine, which is prom-themed, sitting down (Aljaž does seem to be fond of that as an opening, doesn't he?) and making dorkfaces at each other before getting up to jive. Alison's energy and enthusiasm is as present as ever here, but unfortunately most of it is above the waist - she gives the kicks and flicks section her all and gets her leg up impressively high, but her footwork is a little bit leaden, and if you watch how fast Aljaž is moving compared to Alison, it does show that she just hasn't quite got the nimbleness in her legs to do a really convincing jive. I think this dance in particular was always going to be a struggle for Alison, because it's one of the Latin dances where you do actually need some technique to go with the sass, but she gives it a go and maintains her energy all the way through, so it's all entirely passable.

Tess welcomes the singers (not individually this week) along with Davearch and his wonderful orchestra, and then Len opens for the judges by saying it wasn't just Footloose, it was "all a little bit loose" in places. Well, I guess we know who's playing John Lithgow in this version. But he credits her for coming out and giving it a go, because: Len. Bruno says that he doesn't think there's anything wrong with a loose woman (depends which one, if you ask me), and tells Alison that everything's working well up top, but she didn't have the precision in her feet. Craig thought there needed to be a lot more energy in the leg-department and it lacked any definition, but he enjoyed Alison giving it her "own flavour", as usual. Darcey says that the boys are right (she must be thrilled this week, there are even more boys to be right than normal!) - Alison knows how to sell a performance, but she felt that Alison wasn't as happy in this dance as she was in the previous two. Alison: "I'll be honest with you, Darcey, I did nearly have a heart attack halfway through." Donny bellows "HELLO ALISON!" and she squeals "HI DONNY! HAVE YOU GOT THAT 10 READY?" Hee. He says that the other judges know the technical stuff, whereas he was looking at the performance, and "BABY YOU PERFORMED IT TONIGHT!" Get used to Donny yelling a lot, readers. And saying "baby" a lot. It's going to be a looooooong night. [In a throwback reference to former Special Guest Judge Jennifer Grey, I wish somebody had put Baby in the corner tonight.  Badumtish.  - Rad]

Alison and Aljaž head up to the Clauditorium (again, thanks to Pet Monkey on DS for coming up with that name), grabbing some popcorn from a nearby usherette on the way, where Claudia congratulates her on opening the show, and Alison is excited that this means she can just sit back and enjoy the show now. Aljaž says that he's very proud of Alison, and he thought she was great tonight. It's amazing how much more fun Aljaž is when he has a partner with a bit of personality - it's not that I ever thought he was boring last year, but he was just sort of...there, mostly notable for having a nice face and a very nice arse. This year, he's way more entertaining, and I continue to be thoroughly impressed by his deft use of camp in routines without going overboard. Well, not yet, anyway. Scores are in: Craig 4, Darcey 5, Donny "7 BABY!", Len 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 28. For those of you who want to track the progress of the contestants without guest-judgey gimmicks, I will also be giving each contestant a Non-Donny Score (NDS for short), establishing the points they would have earned on the regular 40-point scale, so Alison has an NDS of 21.

Steve and Ola and their general air of Flintstones realness are next. Steve admits that he knew last week wasn't going to be one of his better efforts, but he just tried to enjoy it. Their theme for the week is The Jungle Book, of course, and he and Ola are going to be a pair of chimps. A pair of chimps in leopard print. Sure, that makes all the sense. To get Ola into the spirit of things, Steve takes her off to a wildlife park and introduces her to some ringtailed lemurs, which Ola doesn't look too thrilled about. You'd think she'd be more comfortable around uncontrollable primates with no understanding of your personal space, having been married to James for so long.

They're dancing the quickstep to 'I Wanna Be Like You', which of course was done brilliantly by Scott and Natalie back in series eight. Here, Steve and Ola spend the entire verse faffing around and doing monkey impressions and it's not until the chorus that they actually take hold, at which point Steve's frame is a bit loose and there's a bit of gapping, but it's a sprightly and fun performance. There's a charleston breakdown in the middle of it, which seems a bit of a cheat, but I've given up expecting anyone to enforce the rules in regular weeks, let alone theme weeks. However, I'm finding it hard to concentrate fully on the performance because Steve's trousers are clearly far too tight and have left him with the most alarming case of VPL I've seen on this show in quite some time (apart from Anton's VPL last year in Fiona's cha cha cha, but of course in that case the P stood for something quite different).

Bruno says that Steve "went from Gorillas In The Mist into sprinting cheetahs". He says that Ola gave Steve some very difficult footwork to learn, and he coped extremely well - apart from the three mistakes that Bruno noticed. Craig tells Steve that he's now back in the competition, but cautions him on the splayed hands. Craig liked the charleston section and thinks that Steve will be great at that when the time comes, adding further fuel to the fire that Steve is basically Chris Hollins 2.0. (Of course, in the interest of balance, Steve's charleston will now need to have a sizeable quickstep section in the middle.) Darcey really enjoyed it, but warns him to watch his arms in hold, and Tess gushes uncontrollably about Steve's arms, and everyone ignores her as usual. Donny says that he's a fan of the show and has been watching Steve for the last two weeks, but he has some advice for Ola (and pronounces her name "Oh-la", which just goes to show you should never go to Tess for guidance on anything): she should take Steve clubbing to loosen him up. Ola's all "sure, Guy Who Will Never Be Here Again, I'll get right on that." Bruno offers to join them. Now that I would pay to see.

Up in the Clauditorium, Steve says that his parents are here tonight, probably watching from behind their fingers. Oh, I'm sure they're absolutely fine with their 41-year-old son pretending to be a gorilla for an audience of nine million people. He says that it's been so much fun, and that he wants to do it again. You heard him, viewers! He wants to be in the dance-off! Scores: Craig 6, Darcey 7, Donny 6, Len 7, Bruno 8 for a total of 34 and an NDS of 28.

Our third couple competiting tonight is Jennifer and Tristan, who will be dancing to the title track from Mamma Mia!. Tess describes the film as having "a complicated plot" (I suspect that, where Tess is concerned, even Janet and John books have a complicated plot) where a woman does not know which of three men is the father of her child. I was honestly expecting this to lead into a joke about Darcey being pregnant by either Craig, Len or Bruno, and I swear I've never been so glad to be wrong in my entire life. Instead we get the basic "Jennifer's used to weird shit, her husband plays her mother on the telly!" punchline. The editors wisely cut to the VT before the audience are forced to laugh awkwardly.

Jennifer says that she was really looking forward to her dance last week, but then she made a mistake and it really threw her. She ended up in the dance-off, of course, and decided to look upon it as a chance to correct the mistake, which seems fair enough to me. This week, due to Jennifer's BUSY BUSY SO BUSY SCHEDULE (clearly there was a mix-up with some paperwork and Jennifer has been given Pixie's VT by mistake), Tristan has had to go to Glasgow, where Mrs Brown's Boys is filmed. Jennifer delivers the awkward segue that Mamma Mia! is very much like her family in Mrs Brown's Boys, because nobody knows who's related to whom. I thought the whole point of Mrs Brown's Boys is that everyone's related to each other, both onscreen and off? Jennifer takes Tristan off to meet the rest of the cast, and some of them hug him a little bit too closely, but that's understandable. Jennifer hopes she can make them all proud of her this week.

It begins with Tristan in a rowing boat, doing some fairly appalling rowing-acting, while Jennifer (in a dress with some Meryl-style dungarees stitched on the top, god bless Vicky Gill) is watering some fake flowers. They join in the middle of the floor to get into hold, although shortly after that there's a bit where I swear Tristan actually grabs Jennifer on the back and physically turns her to face outward, as though she'd gone into hold in the wrong direction. Jennifer is whirling her arms around like a windmill and singing along throughout, and it's hard for me to properly gauge whether she's any good at the foxtrot because it hardly even looks like a foxtrot in the first place. As I said earlier, I know theme weeks tend to throw all this askew to begin with, but even by those standards, it's a bizarre offering. Between Tristan and Joanne, I'm not at all sure about the choreography that this year's new pros are bringing to the table. Only Trent is really delivering the goods, and he wasn't even meant to be here. [I think they're both proving that 'good dancer' and 'good choreographer' are often not one and the same.  I mean, I guess there's no reason why they should be, but it makes me appreciate some of the longer serving pros more.  I mean, not Anton or Robin, but, you know, the ones who can actually choreograph - Rad]

Craig says that he found the miming very distracting, and that he thought the routine was "all over the place" - Jennifer was hopping on her turns, and the whole thing wasn't nearly smooth enough. Darcey is impressed that Jennifer kept up the miming-along all the way through, and it was a joy to see someone getting into the dance that much - but it did mean that she lost her posture again. Donny thought it was more relaxed than last week, but he found it very "nice" and "safe" and he thinks she could have "pushed the envelope" a bit more. He says this about three times, just to make it sink in. Len says that she looked more relaxed and confident than ever, but she needs to lift her ribcage in hold because she's holding her breath which is making her shoulders rise up. Bruno thinks that Jennifer immersed herself in the Meryl Streepness of it all, but forgot the technique of the dance in the process.

Claudia tells Jennifer that everyone was singing along in the Clauditorum too, and Jennifer says that the whole thing was great craic for her. Claudia reminds us that Jennifer has had a very hectic schedule with Mrs Brown's Boys this week in the hope of generating some sympathy, and while I do feel for her if she didn't have much time to train, I can't in good conscience endorse anything that leads to the existence of more episodes of Mrs Brown's Boys. Tristan reminds us that Jennifer is from Ireland. Scores: Craig 3, Darcey 5, Donny 5, Len 5, Bruno 5 for a total of 23. NDS? 18. Claudia reads out the voting numbers while slipping a frankly indecent number of Abba song titles into the mix, all delivered with a glorious side-eye. [Now these are the kind of jokes I can get on board with, autocue writers - Rad]

Simon and Kristina will be dancing the first rumba of the series to the Top Gun theme (although the way Tess pronounces it, I could've sworn they were dancing to the Tottenham theme. A rumba danced to 'Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur' would be quite something, wouldn't it?), so Tess asks Darcey what we should be looking out for. Darcey explains that the rumba is the dance of love, where the man has to pursue the lady right to the end, and the whole thing should be very sensual and ooze passion, at which point Brendan runs over, knocks her out, screams "I'm not here to choreograph FILTHY DIRTY RUMBAS!", at which point Tess breaks out the emergency chloroform and Steve and Thom (as the hired guns) carry him back up to the Clauditorium. Anyway, where were we? Simon claims that the tango was out of his comfort zone last week, and he was focusing more on the steps than the performance. This week they're dancing the rumba to 'Take My Breath Away', and Kristina reminds Simon that Bruno wanted to see his animalistic side this week. Simon says he knows JUST THE PERSON to help with that, and the next thing we know, he and Duncan are dressed in pilots' uniforms and propping up a bar. I'm not sure why Duncan James would be the person you'd invite over to make a Top Gun-themed rumba less homoerotic, but okay. It ends up with them karaoking 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling' to Kristina. If we have to have comedy VTs, can they at least have an actual punchline? This one made NO sense whatsoever.

Full disclosure: I love 'Take My Breath Away' and think that it's an excellent choice for a rumba, but I'm not really feeling this. Kristina, bless her, is earning every single penny of her salary as she twists and pivots and writhes and claws Simon throughout the routine, and if he were working even a fraction as hard as she is, this would probably be quite good, but there's just no reciprocation from him at all. He's very mannered and cold throughout, which just kills the whole thing stone dead. I know it's hard for a bloke to excel in a rumba, because it's a dance that really highlights the woman, but it barely even feels like Simon turned up for this.  [Poor Kristina, so many years where on paper it looks like she's got a contender and might finally get her hands on the non-Christmas glitterball and then... notsomuch - Rad]

Darcey tells Simon that he was in constant pursuit of Kristina, and was so attentive and paid her so much care, but she didn't really see that carrying through into his own moves. Donny says that the rumba is difficult for a man (drink!) and Simon just needs to make his hips work a little bit more, "but I gotta tell you, when Kristina went down and you grabbed her thighs--" STEADY ON THERE OSMOND, THIS IS A FAMILY SHOW. Tess asks Len if he "loved every second", and Len declares that he didn't: he says that Simon "could own this place", but he's spending too much time thinking about what's coming next and not focusing on what he's doing right now, and also there were a few heel leads. But, on the other hand, there were good lines and a nice feeling to it. Len sums up: "You've got to look back and what you were doing, and then come back do something else." Thanks Len! Tess protests that she saw a lot of hip action and asks Bruno if he did, and Bruno replies "no." It's almost heroic how much Tess is trying to steer the judges to be nice, and failing entirely in the process. Bruno tells Simon he knows that he can do better, and that he's presenting a dance rather than participating in it. Tess, still not giving up, gets Simon to do a figure of eight with his hips, at which point Bruno screams "NO NO NO!" and gets up to demonstrate how it should be done, almost taking Len's eye out in the process. Craig says that he didn't see any hips, and the whole thing left him "cold and passionless".

The reception is much warmer in the Clauditorium, where Claudia sternly says that she doesn't want Kristina to be sad and commands Simon to cuddle her. Simon doesn't really have a lot to say at this point, so let's go to the scores: Craig 4, Darcey 6, Donny 7, Len 6, Bruno 7 for a total of 30 and a NDS of 23.

Next we have Judy and Anton. Judy was disappointed with her poor performance last week, and was "gobsmacked" when the public saved them, but also relieved because she wanted a chance to put on a decent performance. This week they've got the quickstep, which they'll be dancing to 'Don't Rain On My Parade' from Funny Girl. Anton tells Judy that they're going to go glamorous this week, so he turns up at Judy's hotel room with some fancy frocks and heels for her to wear, and then she turns up at dinner looking fancy but also uncomfortable. I feel like this VT would be more appropriate for Pretty Woman than Funny Girl, not that I'm suggesting Judy is a hooker. [Don't make me imagine the band murdering 'It Must Have Been Love' thanks.  Especially as since some karaoke thing once got the lyrics wrong, it now always seems to get sung with the line 'a stare of silence' and not the correct (if more nonsensical, but that's Per Gessle lyrics for you) 'there's air of silence' and that sets my teeth on edge - Rad] Anton tells Judy that she has to bring all of this glamour to the floor on Saturday night.

Easier said than done, of course: you can tell that Judy's really trying her hardest to look relaxed and glamorous, but there's still something very rigid about her posture. Throughout the performance she seems to be in the wrong position (she's constantly face-to-face with Anton instead of off to his right) and for a quickstep, it's really not all that quick. There's also a lot of gapping, and a persistent sense that Anton is having to drag her into the right position. It ends with an illegal lift, so you know Anton's getting a bit desperate at this point. It's probably the best dance Judy's done so far, for what that's worth.

Tess: "Donny, you got great scores when you performed the quickstep, what did you think of Judy's?" Donny: "First of all, I don't like the quickstep, I got my worst scores on quickstep." Awkward. (Also, not true: Donny got 24/30 for his quickstep, whereas he got 20 for his foxtrot - although that was week one, admittedly - and 21 for both his rumba and his tango.) He thinks Judy did a beautiful job,  but even though she was smiling, he felt like she was nervous. He then offers this bizarre critique: "dancing is a 50:50 proposition, it felt like he was leading you the whole time." Anton, baffled: "That's what I do. I lead." Donny attempts to clarify that it felt "unrehearsed" to him. Len tells Judy that she was fine, but Anton has to improve - he enjoyed watching it, particularly the fishtail. I'm just going to assume that's some sort of crude innuendo. Bruno tells Judy that the intent was good, and she looked "more or less relaxed", but as soon as she puts a foot wrong, she goes rigid and there's nothing Anton can do to make her loosen up. Craig lectures him that one foot should remain on the floor at all times, but he's glad there was an illegal lift because that was the best part - he thought Judy was so wooden that she was getting rigor mortis. Can wood do that? Darcey liked Judy's smile and thinks she looks like she had fun.

Judy and Anton head up to the Clauditorum, declining the usherette's popcorn, and Claudia tells Judy that she looks like "a movie film star". Judy giggles that she's gone from "appalling posture" to "rigor mortis", so it appears she's getting worse. Claudia asks Judy if she'd like to say anything to the people who saved her from the dance-off last week, and Judy says "could you do the same again please?" Hee. Scores: Craig 3, Darcey 5, Donny 5, Len 5, Bruno 5 for a total of 23 with a NDS of 18. "Even with five judges we couldn't make 40!" laments Anton. Dude, even with five judges, you couldn't make 25.

Up next are Tim and Natalie. Good grief, this running order really is piling all the no-hopers at the front end, isn't it? I saw someone on Twitter suggesting that this was all a fiendish ploy to keep all the good people for the second hour and stop the viewers switching over to watch The X Factor, but surely Strictly would never do anything that cynical...would it? Tim says that he felt on edge last week: "it's like skating on thin ice". No, Tim, that's the other one. He was quite encouraged by Len's feedback last week, though, and Natalie reminds us that she "jumped for joy" when they were declared safe last week. This week they're doing the charleston to 'Money, Money' from Cabaret, and Natalie explains that Tim will need to act a lot in this routine, so bring on the acting coach! The acting coach, who looks a bit like Kerry Howard but isn't, gives Tim some hints as to what he can do with his face and how to handle his props properly.

To be honest, Tim could have been entirely absent from this dance and it would still have got a 9 from me due to Natalie's excellent Drunk Liza acting throughout. Which is just as well, because Tim's not much to look at throughout the performance: he hasn't got much swivel going on, and his timing is all over the place. Also, they've incorporated so much business with props that it ends up endangering the whole thing because both Tim and Natalie end up having serious struggles with their props at various points. In much the same way that Kristina was the only thing worth watching about Simon's rumba, Tim should count himself very lucky that he had Natalie there as a distraction in this charleston.

Len, who appears to be developing a migraine, tells Tim he wants to see him back next week "because you're doing paso doble, and I can't wait to see that!" Heh. Bruno says that Tim threw all his effort into his character and lost the technique. "But it's Movie Week!" protests Natalie. Bless her. Bruno says that the swivel wasn't there, and the routine has to be on time. Craig says that there's no amount of money that could change what just happened - he liked the character and the stylisation, but the charleston itself was a disastuh. Natalie leaps in to defend Tim at this point, saying that they had "a bit of a prop issue" which sent him off-time, and that he'd been doing it much better in rehearsals. Darcey says it was a lot of fun, and Tim is surprisingly nimble, but she would like him to finish each step properly to make it cleaner and more precise. Donny says it was charming, but it was more like a comedy routine than the charleston. Well, that never hurt Chris Hollins. He says it wasn't the charleston as he understands it. (Here's Donny Osmond's charleston, for comparison, if anyone's interested.)

Tim and Natalie also refuse popcorn and head up to the Clauditorium (while a bunch of poor studio assistants have to swiffer up all the prop money from the studio floor, no doubt) where Claudia tells us that Natalie's parents are here in the audience this evening, having travelled all the way from Australia. Aww. Scores: Craig 2 (Natalie: "WHAAAAAT?"), Darcey 5, Donny 5, Len 5, Bruno 5 for a total of 22 with a NDS of 17.

After a preview of the eight (8!) dances still to come this evening, Claudia takes over from the usherette temporarily and, while Tess is trying to introduce Caroline and Pasha, Claudia is throwing popcorn into Tess's cleavage. Caroline is very happy with how last week's tango went and thinks that she's got a great song for this week. My hopes are briefly raised when Kylie's 'Turn It Into Love' plays on the soundtrack (so I can only imagine how Rad must have felt) [Gleeful, obviously.  Gawd love this year's VT-soundtracker - Rad], until I realise that's not actually a song from a film as far as I can remember. Instead they're dancing the rumba to 'I Don't Want To Miss A Thing' from Armageddon (which, coincidentally, was on BBC1 two-and-a-half hours after Strictly finished last night - how's that for product placement?). Pasha encourages Caroline to get into character by thinking of him as a spaceman. I'd certainly like to see his helmet. I bet it'd be great to have Pasha explore Uranus. I'd get him lined-up for re-entry. I'd really like-- [THAT'LL DO. - Ed.] Ahem. They do a little skit where Pasha pretends to be sending a message to Caroline at mission control (/a spare production gallery at Elstree) and Pasha's acting is as...unique as it always is.

Right, the important thing first: Pasha's jacket is now fully-unzipped, I repeat, FULLY UNZIPPED. I'll be in my bunk. As far as the actual dancing goes, the good news is that this is the first dance all evening to demonstrate that you can produce a load of camp nonsense and still have it stand independently as a good dance. Both Pasha and Caroline are selling the hell out of this thing, it's monstrously overblown, but it's a rumba to Aerosmith, so how could it ever be anything else? It ends with a standard rumba bloke-walking-off move, which gives us a good look at Pasha's arse, so I really have very little to complain about here. [Loved it.  I love how Caroline is totally embracing the 'ho' role and trolling a certain section of the audience, no doubt.  She's amazing. - Rad]

Bruno says that Caroline is "like a generator of body heat", and loved that the connection between the two of them never faltered - it was almost perfect, but there was a tiny little stumble in there. Craig found it a little bit punchy with some slightly jarring transitions, but that's just him being picky because he loved it. Darcey loved Caroline's conviction, especially the sustained supported promenades. Donny screams "YEAH BABY!" and says that he forgot who the celebrity was and who the pro was. Len says that while Armageddon is the end of the world, this is not the end of the world for Caroline on Strictly. (Oof.) He thought it needed more hip action, but otherwise it was very good.

Tess instructs them to head on over to the Clauditorium (and actually calls it that, so she owes Pet Monkey some licence money, and possibly us too), and all I can say is god bless whoever ensured we got this particular camera angle.

Some feelings are being had.

Up in the Clauditorium, Pasha yoinks away the popcorn for himself (<3) and Caroline says that this has been her best week, dancing to her favourite song of all time. Oh, Caroline. Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 8, Donny 9, Len 8, Bruno 9 for a total of 42 and a NDS of 33.

Up next are Scott and Joanne, and...oy. I forgot I would have to explain this costume. So since we saw him walking on, looking relatively normal with his own skin colour and wearing a red suit, Scott is now in a red sequinned shirt covered in sea creatures with two little claws attached to the end of his sleeves [I thought he looked uncomfotably like a Black and White Minstrel... or a Red and White one.  It was NOT GOOD - Rad], and Joanne is now sporting a bright red wig and looking uncannily like Katy Perry. Scott thinks that last week's tango was an improvement on the previous week, and says that during the results show, there was some degree of confusion between him and Joanne as to whether they were safe or not, because they haven't quite figured out how the show works. Judging from Joanne's choreography so far, I'd say that's true every week. This week they're doing the first samba of the series to 'Under The Sea' from The Little Mermaid, and in this week's edition of Scott Mills And His Famous Friends, he places a call to David Hasselhoff for advice because David was on Dancing With The Stars, until Joanne points out that David was a first-boot. Scott hopes his samba will go SWIMMINGLY, d'you see.

There's not much positive that I can say about his performance. The outfit is terrible (his shirt doesn't even look like it fits properly, ffs), there's very little bounce, anything that requires him to move at speed is a disaster, his free arm is flailing all over the's all a terrible insult to the otherwise dignified memory of Sebastian De Crab. There's a bit over with Tess where she tries to stir up wardrobe malfunction drama until it turns out that one of Scott's claws almost came off...but in fact did not. Craig says it was "like a lobster on acid". He's a crab, Craig! Sebastian's a crab! Darcey says there was plenty of spring and bounce, but no double-bounce, and it was all a bit ploddy. Although Joanne gave him a lot of dance content, it didn't look like a samba. Donny loved it, even though the dancing was all over the place, and thinks that Scott is improving. Len thinks it was fun and entertaining. Bruno thinks "the crab is off-menu". He appreciated that there were proper samba steps in there, but it was all a bit wobbly. He thinks Scott needs to work on his strength, because everything is a bit all over the place. "I was under the sea!" Scott protests. "BUT YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE DROWNING!" retorts Bruno.

Scott and Joanne head up to the Clauditorium. "We loved it!" Claudia assures him. "Did you hear us screaming?" I don't know - did you hear me screaming?! Scott says it was really good fun, and Claudia compliments him on his general orange-ness. Scores: Craig 2, Darcey 5, Donny 7, Len 5, Bruno 6 for a total of 25 and a NDS of 18.

From one Grimsbian [It's actually Grimbarian - Rad from Grimsby] to another, it's now time for Frankie and Kevin. Last week there was a slight snafu in their charleston where Frankie's skirt ended up in Kevin's face and he couldn't find her arms in time, so he quickly changed the type of lift he was going to do - but the sharp-eyed judges spotted the error all the same. Frankie was pleased to end up third overall on the leaderboard, as it put them in a comfortable position without the pressure of being right at the top. This week, Frankie arrrives at training to find a note on the door saying "Meet me on the roof. Kevin, from Grimsby." Can we retire Grimsby as a punchline in its own right at this point? I feel like we've done all we can with it.  Kevin explains that they're dancing a paso doble to 'America' from West Side Story (sidebar: let's take a brief moment to remember the group performance of this song from Over The Rainbow, in particular Emilie's and Lauren's mangled attempts at Puerto Rican accents), so he thought that they'd go up on a rooftop to rehearse. This bit of information probably works better if you remember that the song is performed on a rooftop in the movie, which I didn't recall at first.

The music works better for the dance than I thought it would, although one unfortunate hangover from the movie's choreography is that Frankie's paso ends up being heavy on the skirt-wafting at the expense of some of the other elements of the dance. There's some nice shaping, and good attitude throughout, and on an entirely superficial note I really like her hair in this one. [I love how a pasty bespectacled geek from Grimsby seems to officially now be the King of the Paso as well - Rad]

Darcey loved seeing the fiery side of Frankie and loved that she kept in character throughout. She adds that Frankie really understood the dance and created some great shapes. Donny thought it was a beautiful performance, and that Frankie would be the perfect Maria for a West Side Story remake. (He does know that it's Anita who sings that song, not Maria, right?) Len cracks the "Frankie goes to Hollywood" joke again and says it's her best dance yet. Bruno really liked the combination of the references to the movie in the choreography while keeping the feeling of a paso doble throughout. Craig agrees with the others, and says it was dynamic.

Claudia says that during the week Frankie was worried that she was too smiley to do a paso doble, and adds that Frankie's husband is here tonight. Frankie says that Wayne would probably say "nah, she's grumpy all the time." Claudia assures her that you're supposed to be grumpy with your husband. This is clearly the feminist brainwashing that everyone warned us would happen when you let two women present a show together! Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 9, Donny 10, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 45 and a NDS of 35, which puts Frankie and Kevin in the unfortunate position of having to celebrate getting the first 10 of the series while knowing deep down that it doesn't really count because it was awarded by Donny Osmond. Poor lambs.

Jake and Janette are up next, and Jake's not really sure how he's supposed to top last week's performance. This week they're dancing a waltz to 'The Godfather Waltz' from The Godfather, and Jake and Janette discuss how the movie is all about family (I....guess?), which is about as good a segue as you're ever going to get to wheel your kids out for the cameras, right? So Jake's wife and kids turn up, and his family is generally adorable [especially his daughter's gold sequinned Converse - Rad], and Jake gets a bit emotional about how nice it is to have his kids there for the rehearsals "because I won't be there for bedtime tonight". Gahh, you're killing me with this.

The routine is all very elegant and poised, but at the same time a little bit cold and staccato, and I wonder if that's the fault of the music as much as it is anything - you're never going to be able to dance a romantic waltz to this particular tune. Janette's come up with some lovely choreography, and Jake dances it very well, but it's perhaps such a tonal shift from last week's salsa that it can't help to feel ever so slightly disappointing.

Donny is impressed that Jake can dance so meanly for "a nice guy who plays nice roles". So I think we can establish Donny is unfamiliar with Max Branning, then? He loved the attitude and thinks Jake is extremely cool. Len says that the waltz needs swing and sway, and he found it a bit stiff up top with the flow lacking - but the footwork was good and there weren't any obvious mistakes. Bruno liked the idea of a waltz tinged with darkness, and played like an Argentine tango, but he would like more flow "if you do another waltz". When might that be, exactly? [The Viennesse Waltz maybe?  Although that's less of a waltz and more of an endurance test to see how many spins you can do before vomiting - Rad] Craig agrees with Bruno - he's pleased that it was theatrical because he liked their take on it, and he thinks too much swing and sway would've detracted from that. Len has a snit about this and insists that it's a waltz and it has to have SWING and SWAY and RISE and FALL, and Craig responds that he knows that, and that's why it won't get full marks. Touché. Darcey liked the steadiness of it, but warns Jake about the way his shoulder creeps forward when he's dancing.

Arriving in the Clauditorium, Jake grins that being called "the coolest man in the room" by Donny Osmond is pretty cool. I detect no irony here, which is interesting. Jake thanks Janette for giving him such interesting choreography to work with. Scores: eights all round for a total of 40 and a NDA of 32, making this only the second time all series that the judges have reached consensus on their scores. Interestingly enough, the other time was Jake's tango, which got four sevens.

Tess is in the audience now, perched between Grimmy and DVO, and everyone looks uncomfortably squashed. There's no real reason for her to be there, other than to hand Denise some popcorn, so let's move right along to our next couple, Pixie and Trent. Pixie loved last week's waltz, particularly because it impressed Darcey and she "felt like that's the kind of dance she would be into". Hmm. Pixie and Trent have a fairly lifeless conversation where he tells her what the song and theme will be this week ('Be Our Guest' from Beauty And The Beast) and Pixie responds unconvincingly that it "sounds magical". To get Pixie in the mood for a song all about fine French dining, Trent treats a tea party with a couple of Tricolores stuck into the macaroons, while the theme tune from 'Allo 'Allo plays in the background. I guess Pixie is SO BUSY SO BUSY SO BUSY that he couldn't actually take her to Paris or something.

I'm a bit disappointed that, given how overboard they went on Scott's costume, the wardrobe people haven't tried harder to make Trent look like a candlestick, but I guess sometimes you just have to let these things go. Their quickstep actually ends up being a lot of fun, and I wonder if Pixie is one of those celebrities who'll benefit from the theme weeks because it puts less of the heavy lifting on her own personality. It's very light with lots of intricate detail, and there's one bit that looks slightly stumbly but apart from that Pixie keeps up with the tempo extremely well.

Apart from the incident, that I'm assuming was the same one I spotted, Len thought that this performance was his cup of tea. Bruno tells Pixie that she really caught the Disney magic, but she went wrong a tiny bit in the corner. Craig was very impressed with the level of detail in the routine, and he loved the charleston section - but she was out of time with Trent in the jeté section. Darcey calls Pixie "one special lady", because apparently it's still the Sixties where Darcey lives. Her only criticism is that Pixie needs to remember to point her feet. Donny finishes by saying that this song means a lot to him because he played Gaston on Broadway, and says that Pixie could've been his princess any time. I object to Donny putting that thought in my head, because I can't imagine for a second that he's especially good at expectorating, I bet he hasn't got biceps to spare, and I sincerely doubt that every last inch of him's covered in hair. (Please, do not send me pictures if you have evidence to the contrary.)

Pixie, ever the individual, turns down the popcorn and instead plucks the only tub of tortilla chips from the usherette's tray. Trent says that Pixie did a great job, and in response to Claudia's question of whether she's living every little girl's dream, Pixie informs us that she's living her own dream and says that Trent was "a great candlestick". Snerk. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 9, Donny 9, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 43, or a NDS of 34. I'm slightly worried that this might be where this couple peaks for me, because I honestly cannot imagine anything more perfect than Trent as Lumière. Prove me wrong, kids! Prove me wrong. [Trent as Ian Waite and Pixie as Zoe and/or Natalie - either works for me - in a Best of Strictly theme week.  Or just any week.  Rad]

Back in the ballroom, Tess rustles up a bit of low-level rebellion against Craig's 7 for Pixie's quickstep, and then we move on to Thom and Iveta. Are you excited for Iveta's first ever competitive charleston on this show? I know I am. Thom gives a giddy little wave at the camera, so at least he's trying to show some personality at last. Last week Thom was on first, and he admits he was a bit worried because he had to come out with a bang (hmm, I assumed that in the event of Thom Evans coming out, the accompanying sound effect would be more like a fap, followed by a sploosh. Shows how much I know). In their VT, Iveta tells Thom that she's looking for a leading man with a big personality. Good luck finding one of those in this cast, love. Instead, Thom offers to bring a selection of characters to the table for her to choose from, and what results is essentially Iveta playing sexual fantasy dress-up as Thom emerges as a cowboy, James Bond, and finally a naval officer (in an ill-fitting uniform), An Officer And A Gentleman-style, and that's the one that finally meets with Iveta's approval, which suggests to me that her tastes are disappointingly vanilla. I mean, if I'd had Thom Evans dressing up in a variety of outfits to arouse my interest, I'd have asked fo-- [I SAID THAT'S ENOUGH. - Ed.]

They're dancing to 'New York, New York' (no, not that one, the other one) from On The Town, and lawks amercy, it's actually quite good. [I scoffed at this music choice then immediately ate my words.  Iveta can do ANYTHING. - Rad] Maybe it's because Thom works quite well as a wide-eyed innocent, maybe it's because charleston is a dance that actually does most of the work for you personality-wise, maybe it's just because Iveta's finally figured out how to play to his strengths - I don't know the reasoning, all I know is that he dances it well and the whole thing is hugely enjoyable. His timing's a little off occasionally, but it's still a vast improvement from anything we've seen from him prior to this. And he didn't even have to take his top off!

Bruno says that he feels "the tide is turning" for Thom because they got to see his personality tonight, and his timing was "almost good" until he went off on the wrong foot at the end, but even then he recovered from it and didn't go to pieces. Craig says there were a lot of difficult rhythm changes which he coped with brilliantly, but it's a shame about the slip-up. Darcey loved his determination to get it right and she could see how hard he's been working, but she says she was distracted by the mouth (understandable) because it was hanging open a lot - "you don't suit being cute, you're a man, dance like a man" she finishes. Jeez, all right there, Rob Evans. Donny loved it, but warns Thom about having hunched shoulders in his turns because it's going to throw him off-balance. Len finishes for the judges by saying that in week one he got a six, and in week two he got a seven, and in week three...wait and see!

Thom takes his popcorn from the usherette and immediately hands it to Iveta (such a gent <3) and explains that he watched On The Town last night and was trying to copy Gene Kelly with the open-mouth thing. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 8, Donny 7, Len 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 38 with a NDS of 31. Thom takes this opportunity to thank Bill Deamer for his choreography this week, and hopes that he made him proud. Aww, I know he's a bit boring, but he does seem to have a little bit of that Harry Judd-style "well brought-up young man" thing going in his favour, doesn't he? Claudia makes an "all hands on deck" comment and I do my best to avoid following it up with an "all hands on dick" joke. Dammit! So close.

Our penultimate couple for the night are Sunetra and Brendan. Sunetra was very pleased with how it went last week because it was the only time she managed to get everything right in that routine. She notes that she moved from the second page of the leaderboard to the first page, and she was very happy with that. They're doing the American Smooth foxtrot to 'The Way You Look Tonight' from Swing Time, and Sunetra has brought in some outside help: her son Noah and his friend Samuel. Sunetra says that she's at her most relaxed when dancing in front of Noah, because he won't judge her when she goes wrong. Aww.

It's a lovely, elegant routine - and also, crucially, one that keeps enough of a distance from the theme that it could conceivably have taken place in any week of the competition. Sunetra's posture is occasionally a little bit stiff, and there's still an issue with her left elbow when she's in hold, but her movement across the floor in this is excellent, and the whole routine just sings with old-Hollywood glamour.

Craig found it smooth, confident and stylish, particularly her arms - but her shoulders do sometimes go up at the end of the dance. Darcey says that the choreography was beautiful and really suited her, but if she's being picky, Sunetra shouldn't flex her foot going into the lifts. Donny invokes Ginger Rogers. Len thought it had style, class and sophistication. Bruno says it had the right amount of elegance but with a little bit of sass on top - but Sunetra needs to watch her shoulders during the underarm turns, as she has a habit of hunching them.

They head up to the Clauditorium with Brendan flinging popcorn into the audience on the way up. Claudia tells them that they're incredibly moving to watch because they get on brilliantly, and Brendan says he's very proud of Sunetra. Sunetra grins that "an Indian Scouser doesn't get to dance like that very often" and thanks everyone involved for the opportunity. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 8, Donny 8, Len 9, Bruno 8 for a total of 40 (NDS 32).

And finally, it's Mark and Karen. Mark was pleased with how last week went because his score was higher than week one. Seems fair enough. This week they've got a paso doble with a Superman theme. Karen tells him that he has to be strong and powerful throughout the dance, and then the have a bit of a comedy VT where Mark, in a puffed up Superman costume, comes to the rescue of Karen, who's screaming "help! help!" Presumably Ola's threatening to make up stories about her and sell them to the tabloids again?

Their routine (to John Williams' Superman theme) [if Karen had choreographed the routine to this I would have loved her FOREVER - Rad] it's supremely silly, with the side of a building projected onto the floor so Karen can pretend to be dangling from a window ledge and screaming for help, while Mark Kent faffs around switching costumes and changing into Superman. The footwork's not bad, but it's mostly posing and paso face without much actual dance content. Also, there's a bit where he blatantly trips, which is not very Superman. I mean, I can see why they put this one at the end, with the music and everything, but I feel like switching Mark and Sunetra around in the running order would've given us more of a feelgood ending.

Darcey found it "weirdly enjoyable", but Mark wasn't a superhero for her because the shaping in hold wasn't convincing. "You were strong, and I could see you believing you were Superman, but it didn't come out in the whole dance." Darcey SHADE <3. Donny loved it, unsurprisingly. Len says that Mark came out, full-on, and gave it the aggression and passion, but he went a bit over the top with it. Bruno was a bit alarmed by the pelvic thrusts (and they must be bad if Bruno's terrified of someone's crotch) but "somehow it works". Craig found it hugely entertaining, although "I've never seen a paso quite like it" (oh Christoper Parker, how easily we forget), but he thinks it was a bit beyond Mark on a technical level.

Karen runs off screaming "POPCORN!" and leads Mark to the Clauditorium, where Mark says that normally in rehearsals it's a bit calmer, "but the audience got behind me and I genuinely believed I was Superman". Heh. Scores: Craig 6, Darcey 6, Donny 9, Len 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 35 (NDS 26).

Right, let's have a look at the leaderboard with full scores and the NDS in parentheses.

1. Frankie & Kevin - 45 (35)
2. Pixie & Trent - 43 (34)
3. Caroline & Pasha - 42 (33)
4=. Jake & Janette - 40 (32)
4=. Sunetra & Brendan - 40 (32)
6. Thom & Iveta - 38 (31)
7. Mark & Karen - 35 (26)
8. Steve & Ola - 34 (28)
9. Simon & Kristina - 30 (23)
10. Alison & Aljaž - 28 (21)
11. Scott & Joanne - 25 (18)
12=. Jennifer & Tristan - 23 (18)
12=. Judy & Anton (18)
14. Tim & Natalie 22 (17)

So really the only people who got screwed by Donny's scoring were Steve (who would've been above Mark without Donny's score) and Judy and Jennifer (who would've tied with Scott). It's odd, it feels like his scoring was much more destructive than it actually turned out to be.

Recap: Alison's spirited but sluggish jive, Steve's wooby-doo-quickstep, Jennifer's whatever-the-heck-that-was-meant-to-be, Simon's boring-ass rumba, Judy's slowstep, Natalie's amazing Liza Minnelli impression (also apparently Tim was there somewhere?), Caroline's deep space rumba, Scott drowning not waving, Frankie's Puerto Rican paso, Jake's deathly waltz, Pixie and TRENT THE CANDLESTICK <3, Thom's shipshape charleston, Sunetra's classy American smooth and Mark's not-so-super paso.

To everyone who made it this far: thank you. We'll bring you all the results tomorrow as two more couples face the dance-off and someone else is going home.