Week five performance show
Saturday 22 October 2016
Last week! The official Danny vs Ore war kicked off with the former delivering a fantastic quickstep for 36 points and the latter another sacred holy jive for 39. Naga was comedically pushed into even uglier hair and makeup and, despite performing arguably her best routine of the series, forgot everything in the dance-off and left the competition, leaving Anastacia and Brendan to
fight injury porn another day.
Tess and Claudia welcome us, Claudia wearing a velvety indigo dress, with Tess in black trousers and white top with a metallic silver belt, which would look quite nice were it not for the matching metal choker, overly straightened hair and bright red lipstick, which makes her resemble a robot more than a woman. Claudia is straight in with another serious public announcement – Brendan is ill and Gorka will be taking his place.
The judges enter, Darcey wearing a bright yellow evening gown which I heartily approve of as there aren’t nearly enough of those in this world. But the most mesmerising thing is Bruno’s hair. It’s got these two little devil horn style curls sticking up and you’d think there’s no way that could be deliberate, except that we know that they have a big hair and make-up team on the show. Maybe he was late or something, or put a whoopee cushion on Lisa-from-Deuce's chair?
Our couples now: Louise and Kevin; Judge Rinder and Oksana; Lesley and Anton; Claudia and AJ; Ore and Joanne; Daisy and Aljaž; Greg and Natalie; Ed and Katya; Danny and Oti; Anastacia and Gorka. That… seems too few for this stage in proceedings. And indeed it is, for it’s time for our second very serious update: Laura has injured her ankle and can’t dance with Giovanni tonight and ‘more on that later’ because we have to string out the drama across the whole show. So by my count, that’s (at least) Anastacia, Tameka, Greg, Laura and Brendan who’ve sustained injuries/illnesses, and Katya sounded at death’s door on ITT yesterday. Come the final, it’ll just be Neil and Chloe performing infinite showdances at this rate.
First couple of the evening are Judge Rinder and Oksana. He’s playing a GI and Tess calls him Oksana’s ‘little soldier’ – I’m not sure if that’s a sex joke, a suggestion Oksana is his mum or some icky combination of both. Their VT trots out the standard working hard rhetoric where she comes to his ‘court’ (TV studio) where he charges her with filling his brain full of dance and sentences her to ’10 years in the Strictly dungeon’. Only the worst offenders like Cole and Du Beke have had longer sentences.
They are dancing the jive to ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ and he’s wearing a glittery camo top slashed to the shaved-to-the-max midriff with very tight brown trousers and she’s in a khaki sparkly vest with camo hot pants. The Rinder faces are out in full force and he’s very bow legged – much like his cha cha, it’s kind of insane, in that it’s not bad in the lumpen and forgetful way – it’s very energetic and athletic and he seems to be remembering all the moves, but precision, sharpness and technique are not its keywords – and he loses balance a couple of times, although, to his credit, he keeps going. And somehow, possibly the limp wrists and odd ‘ssshhh’ motions he keeps making, it’s the campest one of his dances yet.
Tess lets him catch his breath while we welcome Dave Arch and co, and then asks Len if he was impressed, at which Len snaps back ‘WELL I CAN’T HEAR WHAT YOU SAID SO DON’T EXPECT ME TO ANSWER YOU’. Eventually we learn he was impressed and says Rinder puts the camp into bootcamp and it was like the history of jive – lindy, jitterbug, rock’n’roll, jive… aren’t they all from pretty much the same era? He compliments Rinder’s bum because it’s his final series so he’s going to praise the male posterior as much as he can. Bruno (whose hair also has a horrible flicky up bit at the back now) says his legs were so high he thought it was a can-can, then he expected him to fall on his butt when he twirled but the energy is eminently watchable. Craig says he likes that he dances with ‘tempestuous abandon’ but it was flat-footed and needed precise, although he loved the one-handed cartwheel and Tess does sub-Bruce ‘what? Flat-footed?’ reaction comments. They really shouldn’t make her do that, it was bad when Bruce did it as he came off as being snappy and grouchy, whereas Tess just sounds insincere. We don’t need a ‘voice of the viewers against meen judges’, show, we really don’t. Darcey says it was full of tricks and the kicks were a bit high and wild but she loved it.
In the Clauditorium, Rinder gushes that he remembered the steps and we see his mum in the audience who is super glamorous. Scores: 6, 8, 8, 7 for a total of 29. He says it’s an improvement and Craig probably meant to give him a 7 but couldn’t find it under the table.
Claudia then says we have exciting news. Could it be more injury porn? The announcement of who is taking over from Len? No, it’s a really shit ventriloquist act to read the terms and conditions. There’s a reason I don’t watch Britain’s Got Talent, you know. Pack it in, show.
Lesley and Anton now. Their VT centres on Lesley playing a fortune teller, so Anton pretends to be Clairvoyant and seeing their future: a glitterball, 4 tens, standing ovations from the judges and, most likely (and its first invocation of the series?): BLACKPOOL.
They are tango-ing to ‘Whatever Lola Wants’ and forgive me if I wander down a rabbit hole here, as I’ve just been reading Sofabet’s latest X Factor post, but I am wondering about the presentation of these two tonight and if there’s some subtle deramping going on – a VT that suggests many possible outcomes but the one Lesley is most excited by being BLACKPOOL, coupled with a sense that her journey is likely to end soon (focus on her doing better than expected, improving weekly – but presumably in a few weeks’ time she won’t be seen as up there with the frontrunners) and then this dance, which is a bit odd. There’s red and black theming, with Anton in some weird, comedic checked trousers, moody lighting and Lesley dressed as a comedy character but with a face like thunder. I wonder if they’ve been polling too close to the top and they’re trying to rein them in so they can leave around Blackpool week having had a lovely journey? Anyway, that aside, the dancing isn’t their best – her footwork is OK, but stuttering, and her arm is placed at a really weird angle, which I think is a height mismatch issue, and there’s this really awkward and ungainly lift at the start that’s a total mess. The ending isn’t bad though, with a nice drag lift and a dramatic Lesley flounce while Anton smashes her crystal ball. Oh, and Anton is wearing really weird, ghostly eyeshadow and it’s not even HALLOWEEN week yet.
Over with the judges and Bruno describes her as holding on to Anton for dear life. He says he loves her intensity but a lot of the steps were messed up. She says ‘a couple of times’. He says it was too skippy and not gliding. Craig says it was too up and down rather than level, with poor shaping, especially her shoulder. Darcey enjoyed the amount of dance content as Anton gave everything and she ‘nearly achieved’ it but didn’t have the correct frame. Len says it was all there – steps, staccato, musicality, but there were some incidents along the way ‘but you’ll get that with Anton’ and both Len and Darcey finish with ‘well done’. See, subtle deramping rather than annihilation.
In the Clauditorium, Lesley says it’s hard to dance both with passion and accuracy. Scores: 5, 6, 7, 6 for a total of 24.
Greg and Natalie now, and the script declares ‘he’s been consistently good so far’ now he’s their gamma male for #yearoftheman following Will leaving. Natalie takes him to the Olympic stadium, which he calls ‘sacred ground’ and she presents him with a random plaque with a piece of track on, which is a little… odd.
They’re cha cha cha-ing to ‘We Found Love’ and I really do like these two, but this is lousy. Greg’s elbows are awkwardly jutting out at random angles, he’s clomping around looking confused and gawd luv er, Natalie’s giving it all she can, but it is not good. Ugh, tonight suuuuucks so far.
Tess congratulates Dave Arch for playing dance music. Erm, isn’t it all technically dance music, Tess? If we’re being literal, anyway. Craig says one good thing was that he showed Natalie off, but otherwise it was stiff, pigeon-holed and naturally bow-legged, which makes him an Olympic champion but doesn’t suit this dance and the dance exposed all the things he can’t do. Darcey reminds him he’s ‘accomplished so much’ each week, but every week year a dance you can’t do and this was it. Len reminds us he’s an athlete on a journey who’s never danced before unlike all the other ringers in this show and he thinks Greg doesn’t like the cha cha cha much, and he made a mistake but covered it up (not well enough for it not to be pointed out). Bruno loves that he was framing Natalie, but thought he was too stiff and was over-attacking the dance and stomping, but ‘next time you do it’ (in the dance off?) it’ll be fabulous.
In the Clauditorium, Claudia holds his hand and says it was sweet that he apologised to Natalie at the end. Scores: 4, 6, 7 7 for a 24 that feels overmarked for me. Claudia says everyone was ‘what?’ at the four. That was my reaction to the 7, Claud. Sorry Greg.
Our new bottom two goddess, Anastacia, now, dancing with Gorka (poor Neil) as Brendan is ill. The VT does its bit for building up Gorka, who gets to say more than he did with Tameka and whom Anastacia calls her ‘Prince Charming’, so I’d say the omens are good for him returning next year.
They’re quickstepping to ‘My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)’ and she has a shorter blonde glamorous wig which looks nice, with an apricot dress that looks better than it did on ITT when the pink underskirt was on display without the apricot netting. He’s a dapper gent in a suit. Oh, and she’s walking an imaginary dog – like, not even a toy dog, just a lead. It’s weird, especially as the rest of the dance is super classical (indeed, it’s very American Smooth-esque). The lead ditched, they do some lovely benchography before getting in hold for a gentle quickstep that isn’t as taxing as some of the breakneck ones we saw last week, but it’s lovely in terms of its energy and you can tell she is having the time of her life – and even when she fudges some of the footwork and there’s a huge amount of gapping, she is giving it plenty of performance energy and FACE to compensate.
Tess notes Chicago is her home town and Anastacia says it is and her grandfather is in. Darcey says it was lovely and she was light on her feet, although she could have leaned out a little. Len says getting a new partner is like getting a new pair of shoes (Anastacia: ‘Awesome!’ Anastacia <3) and it was light and frivolous and her best dance. Bruno says a little bit of Spain does wonders for her and she was like ‘a little coquettish swinger’ (are swingers usually coquettish? Doesn’t seem likely but maybe I’m just stereotyping. He notes that there was a lot of gapping, though, and Craig modifies his usual bus comment with ‘you could fell a tree through it’ – although other than that, he found it light and lovely.
In the Clauditorium, Claudia calls Gorka a superhero and Anastacia says all the pros are amazing and tells Brendan to get busy so they can go to work next week. She’s not planning on being danced off, then. Scores: 7, 7, 8, 8 for a total of 30 and their highest. Claudia says it places her at the top of the leaderboard, but Anastacia points out it’s the beginning of the show (and close to half-way through! Hooray for all the injuries!).
Kevin and Louise now, doing a rumba in the most romantic city in the world, which, Tess clarifies, is Paris, not Grimsby. Damn right. Grimsby’s a town, not a city. They then get a free trip to Paris because it’s ‘so important’ for their dance to see real Paris. With that logic, I’m looking forward to all those Halloween VTs set in graveyards, laboratories and the inside of Louise Rainbow’s brain. Louise also says the rumba is the hardest yet, as this series hovers between it being difficult FOR MEN as is traditional, and difficult full stop.
They’re dancing to a very slow version of ‘Always on My Mind’, because Elvis (/Pet Shop Boys) just screams ‘Paris’, with an Eiffel Tower model on stage. Now a rumba with these two was always going to be a hard sell as they’re both a bit cheesy and, unsurprisingly, Louise looks like she’s cringing throughout. It’s very chaste and her hips do not move AT ALL. The tasteful lighting and costumes (understated, grey, nice enough fit) almost cover a range of sins. But only almost, as yet another underwhelming dance underwhelms.
Len says it was a dance in France (wow) and calls her consistently good, but says she’s on a plateau and she needs a boost as others on a plateau (Danny?) are higher. Bruno says it was distinguished, elegant and very chic, but he saw cultural references to An American in Paris, which he liked. Craig said it lacked excitement and danger, that her hips need accentuating more, but at least she got a free trip to Paris and she does have wonderful lyricism. Darcey chucks in a ‘boys are saying’ by saying Louise needs to push things more but then says she’s going in the right direction. So is she plateauing or improving, Darcey? And why am I looking for any kind of consistency in her critiques.
In the Clauditorium, we give a shout out to Louise’s mother-in-law who’s been doing her bit for injury porn by having a hospital visit this week. Scores: 8, 8, 8, 9 for a-shit-everyone-is-crap-tonight-better-inflate-some-scores-fast 33.
Claudia previews Daisy dancing later to a song about body parts ‘which could be ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’’ – cueing a singalong that only Daisy gets right. I love her, she’s such an awkward teacher’s pet but in an endearing way. Tess introduces Ed and Katya by saying he’s playing a hitchhiker and as she raises her thumb, she’s wearing some bizarre triangle hand bracelet thing to only further convince me she’s an android.
Ed and Katya are doing an ‘American Smooth Foxtrot’ and their training video reveals Katya wearing some bizarre black shoes with a white pattern on that looks like spiderwebs. Too early, Katya! They are dancing to ‘(Is This The Way To) Amarillo’, yet another song plucked from the 2016 Big Bumper Book of Inappropriate Foxtrot Choices’. Ed is a ‘hitchhiker’ but his ickle backpack, purple short-sleeved shirt and checked trousers make him look more like a schoolboy. The song doesn’t lend itself to elegant dancing so if he stomps, it’s only the natural footwork this track requires. They do manage a fairly impressive lift, which must really use a lot of Katya’s core strength to keep in the air. Then it falls apart with clumsy arms, Amarillo video dancing and a botched (tricky) lift, where he nearly drops her, then a tiny bit of foxtrot in hold, then he swings her round in a ‘wheee’ style, then it’s over, and then it isn’t, so they do the complex lift again, marginally more successfully.
Bruno says he was terrified Ed was going to drop Katya but he always takes them places, and there were moments of foxtrot where he showed he could do it and then bits that were too random. Not sure if that’s Ed’s fault, Katya’s, or the show’s, though. Craig calls it the antithesis of smooth and he did four lifts, not three – but the three other than the failed one were good lifts. Darcey says he started well and he does have the strength for the lifts but it was a shame he didn’t recover from the failed lift. She then tells him to come back ‘next year’ and then realises her mistake and ends up crying laughing. Len does a not-at-all-scripted, ‘the trouble with hitch-hiking is you get a dodgy lift’. He says there was a terrific section but it was a shame that the big moment went pear-shaped. So this week Len isn’t the arbiter of illegal lifts then?
Ed says he loved doing the lift and they invented it this week. He says he was going to dedicate the dance to Tony Christie and Peter Kay but after they did it, maybe not. Scores: 2, 6, 6, 4 for a total of 18. Claudia says he had his first spray tan last week and Ed says if he stays in, he’ll go ‘the full Jeremy Vine’, which is still several steps down from the ‘Kevin last week’ point on the Chigvintsev fake tan scale.
Ore and Joanne now. Last week, blessed jive bla bla bla. I mean, I really enjoyed that jive and I’m already sick of hearing about it. Going from that to a waltz is only likely to be a comedown, so instead, they go to the Team GB and Paralympics GB parade (which is interesting, as wouldn’t Claudia and Greg have actually been on that parade, yet Ore gets the VT? Mmmm-Hmmm. Ramp him like you ramped Ramps, show. Future rival Strictly contestants the Brownlees wish him luck).
Their waltz is to ‘I Will Always Love You’ (Whitney version) and the lighting is completely gorgeous – darkened room with golden specks like candle flames and white follow spots exploding into blue at the key change. It makes it seem very romantic and lovely, along with the nice outfits they’re in (Jo in a white dress with her hair looking amazing, Ore in a white shirt and tight-ish black trousers). There’s also a floor spin that may or may not double as an illegal lift. It looks gorgeous, but it’s hard to tell what is the dancing itself and what is all the stuff they’ve chucked around it. These two do have good chemistry, though, and it isn’t going to harm his frontrunner (joint) chances any.
Tess praises Andrea’s vocals – which were good, given that’s a song the band could have, well, you know. Craig says it worked really well and putting the song into 3/4 time also worked and there was beautiful swing and sway and wonderful storytelling. Darcey praised how controlled and still it was in places although he needs to watch his right shoulder popping up. Len calls it quiet, calm and sophisticated and says the waltz is a big, flowing dance rather than a small, dainty one. He says his turning lock (I think?) got a bit sticky, but he’s an incredible dancer. Bruno says they look wonderful together and their chemistry and connection is outstanding (well, there’s no Giovanni and Laura this week, so we take our showmances where we can).
Ore says it’s been a difficult week and he’s been really nervous. It’s a waltz love, calm down. Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9 for a total of 36.
I have just realised that if Joanne wins this year, she’s more than likely getting a comedy contestant next year, isn’t she? That’d be a shame, given how much better she’s been the last two weeks after ditching the props.
Daisy and Aljaž are my lulling-into-thinking-they’re-the-penultimate couple of the night (it’s always Claudia and AJ I forget). Their dance involves darkness so they eat a meal in the dark with horror-film infrared cam on). Louise got to go to Paris, what shizz is this?
So this is an unusual Charleston (to ‘Happy Feet’). We see everything in black but their hands and feet in white gloves. This could be revolutionary, or it could be full-on Dummy Dance in the list of misguided quirks this show chucks at us from time to time. Or it could just be a quick opening gimmick and then business as usual, because I can’t imagine we’ll get through a whole Charleston without the opportunity for gurning. Indeed, it only goes on for a couple of bars – they should maybe have attempted one thing in hold or one tricky move that way for maximum effect, but that might have been a tough ask. Other than that, it’s decent-Charleston-by-numbers. Daisy seems to be enjoying it but it lacks a little something for me – not entirely sure what. I like it (a lot better than AJ and Claudia’s), but I’m not madly wowed.
Darcey says she loved the silent movie homage and thought it was well danced but she started flagging at the end and needs to tighten her core. Len’s critique is fucking boring. He liked it. Bruno loved it and says it was like Betty Boop coming back to life. Craig loved it other than a slightly late end. What is the world coming to when Darcey gives the most sensible critique?? Scores: four 8s, despite neither Len or Bruno giving them anything to improve on, for a total of 32.
And now our next thrilling instalment of ‘this cast is broken, can we get a refund?’ as Laura and Giovanni already recorded their VT so we can’t let all that komedy footage go to waste. We see them learning Giovanni’s ‘favourite’ dance, the jive and Laura grimacing through pain in her ankle. She says it was the dance she always wanted to learn, but then Ore did a practically perfect one last week and she’s a dance-off contender, so they decided to sit the week out and make people on the internet froth CONSPIRACY!! I assume, anyway. Giovanni, in his best black mourning suit, wishes her well.
Danny and Oti aren’t in the pimp slot which means they must be expecting something good from Claudia and AJ. Or else have felt they had to at least try and pretend the women this year have any chance. Also, Danny has BLOKE!RUMBA so ain’t no-one wanting to close a show out with that. Their VT? Rumba is like tightrope walking, in the same way that it is like a free trip to France.
They are dancing to ‘How Will I Know’, which is not a rumba song, it’s a pop-disco CLASSIC and Sam Smith’s done that balliding of good pop songs shizz that we stopped recapping the X Factor over (well that, and it being so far beyond parody. And each episode being three hours long, fifteen minutes of which was actual content). So, in other words, fuck this noise, however much I like these two. Egads, you’ve actually got me hoping Claudia and AJ will pull something amazing out of the bag, show. And who thinks to themselves every week that they’re really looking forward to Claudia and AJ? (Apart from Claudia’s babysitters and childminders and AJ’s wet nurse and whoever else they can drag out to infantalise them this week. I fully expect their final VTs to involve their pregnant mothers going to an ante-natal class teaching their foetuses the intricacies of the paso doble).
The singer switches the lyrics to ‘if you really love me’ not ‘if he really loves me’ #gaypanic. Oh, the dancing? Quite nice, as bloke rumbas go, I suppose. Bit over-exaggerated and West-End (RINGER). His hips moved more than Louise’s, at least.
Len says it was a MASCULINE performance. RAWR. He did a step called the sliding doors that Len loved. Bruno says his hips are ready for action and the dance is DIFFICULT FOR MEN and he balanced things but was a little jagged and he’d like to see it again. Tess panics ‘but not in the dance-off!’ Craig says there was a bit too much energy in it and it felt like a ‘jazz dance’ more than a rumba. Darcey ‘agrees with the boys’ (which ones? They all said different stuff) about his hips.
In the Clauditorium, Claudia says Danny didn’t want to shave his chest (which is almost entirely out and has a small amount of hair centrally, to try and appeal both to those who like that and those who do not. Smart move, wardrobe, although a bit close to sexual harassment) and he says they had an argument about it until they ‘ran out of buttons’. He wishes his nan a happy 82nd birthday. Wow, it’s grandparents’ day up in here. Scores: 8, 9, 9, 9 for a total of 35 and whilst this and Ore’s were good, it feels like they mainly got the scores so the week didn’t seem quite such a comedown from last week (see also: Louise).
Finally! Aww look, it’s ickle baby AJ and Claudia, look at their widdle faces! Pinch their cheeks! Claudia is shown struggling and AJ says she needs to loosen up her core and put aside her gymnastics training. That’s it – no comedy VT, no bringing out of cuddly toys and rattles.
Their samba to ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ opens with Claudia atop a flight of Perspex stairs from the judges’ table, and then sees them prancing about next to a huge glitterball. You can finally see why AJ was cast as, him being a Latin dancer, he seems so much more comfortable this week than in previous weeks – he’s quite mesmerising to watch, which I can’t say about his previous dances – but that does mean you’re looking at him rather than Claudia as is often the case with female pros and lacklustre male contestants, so it may or may not be a good distraction technique. It’s super-fast and she is really struggling to keep up with him and her arms are a godawful mess and there’s a really cool gymnastic-style underarm turn thing at the end which is probably the closest they could find to a show-stopping moment among this week’s slim pickings.
Bruno begins by praising the glitterball, always a good sign. He says there was so much stuff in there and ‘the girl’ had to do every step she might expect but he thought she was panicking and going ahead of the music. Craig says it was a bit frenetic and she was like a tornado and the bounce action suffered with the speed, but it was a brilliant endeavour. Darcey thinks she was over-pushed. It does seem like AJ wanted to show off what he could do rather than choreographing for his celebrity. Len says ‘the last couple and the party starts. Great.’ Yeah, that’s how I feel, too. He then says AJ sacrificed technique for speed by giving her too much to do and now I agree with Len and Darcey and feel a bit queasy.
Claudia (F) tells Claudia (W) that AJ makes her feel good about herself when she performs. Scores: 8, 7, 8, 9 for a total of 32 because it was clearly scripted to get 32 and Bruno had to inflate his score to counter Craig? IDK, the scoring tonight feels super perfunctory, like ‘what are the scores we should be seeing in week five?’ perfunctory.
Ore and Joanne 36
Danny and Oti 35
Louise and Kevin 33
Daisy and Aljaž 32
Claudia and AJ 32
Anastacia and Gorka 30
Judge Rinder and Oksana 29
Lesley and Anton 24
Greg and Natalie 24
Ed and Katya 18
With Laura out of the running, bottom two could be almost anyone except Ore and Danny tonight. I’m thinking it could be Anastacia vs Claudia or Greg but, other than the top two, I’d not be hugely surprised at anyone else dancing off. Join me tomorrow to see what happens!
*Bonus points if our readership is comprised as I think it is and you get the reference.