Tuesday, 30 October 2007

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

- Craig wears silver trainers with a black suit.

- The judges have still failed to learn that their aggression and insults invariably backfire. When Claudia attempted to point out that slagging off Kate and Kenny leads people to defend them, every single judge simply refused to accept it, instead choosing to take the position that the public are just wrong when they vote for non-dancing reasons. (Surely if it WAS just a technical dancing competition, it wouldn't be open to a public vote at all? And if it really is all down to the dancing, why do the lines re-open after the results show on Sunday when no-one is due to dance again for another six days?)

- Craig thinks his role on the programme is to "educate" people about dancing, the pompous git. Head Judge Len's role, apparently, is to be the "nurturer". Claudia is very good at surreptitious insults, having told Craig that the viewers are not "more stupid" than he is, thereby implying he must be at least a bit stupid in the first place.

- Head Judge Len rang in from LA and was still fuming about having to choose between Gabby and Penny. Interestingly, he says he preferred the way things ran before, ie when he didn't have to take responsibility for anything, and he is furious with the BBC for putting him in that position. Claudia looked worried.

- Bruno rang in from LA, sounding like a total parody of himself, screeching away about "marking from the heart". And yet he still has the gall to berate viewers for voting for people they like.

- Gabby and James sat on the sofa and smiled through clenched teeth. They mentioned "jokingly" that if anyone wanted to drop out, they would happily go back into the competition.

- Penny clutched Ian's thigh throughout their interview with Claudia.

- The start of Tuesday's episode was taken up with more whining about Gabby through a montage of people looking woebegone and expressing their devastation. Fuck's sake, she's not dead. Kelly's reaction on the revelation of last week's bottom two was, "neither of these two should've been in the bottom two." NO, YOU SHOULD'VE, YOU CHEATING COW. Fortunately the studio guests brought a proper sense of levity to proceedings, as Alesha proceeded to cackle her way through her interview and voice her ambition to become "a foxtrotter".

- The middle of Tuesday's episode was taken up with 15 minutes of filler from last year as we followed Mark and Karen's journey to the trophy.

- The end of Tuesday's episode was taken up with talking about how marvellous Letitia is, which obviously has nothing to do with the fact that she's doing the Strictly live tour next year.

- Gethin hates the word "journey". HE'S NOT ALONE.

- Kenny is planning to do a haka in his paso doble. For the uninitiated, the haka is the big tribal war chant the New Zealand All Blacks do before they play rugby.

- Kenny and Ola have choreographed a lift into their paso doble. Training footage reveals their thoughts on the matter: "If you break the rules, you don't get penalised, in fact you get given full marks." Well done, Bruno, way to ensure the competition's integrity. If you dare criticise the public's voting patterns this week, there'll be trouble.

- In honour of Hallowe'en, Craig was temporarily renamed "Craig Devil Horwood". Heh.

- Craig admitted that Kate's rehearsal footage this week indicates "remarkably, a very slight improvement".

- Brendan's bad boy of dance schtick is really getting tired, and actually causing Steve to agree with Craig, which is deeply unsettling. Kelly's big concern appears to be a PINK SPARKLEE CAPE YAAAAAAY for her Paso Doble, which is going to make her the first female celebrity EVAH to do a spot of cape-waving. Craig is all in favour of role-reversal on the dance floor, as long as it does not constitute RULE-BREAKING.

- Penny (whose husband is Rod Stewart, not sure if you know that) is a crusader against LIES IN TELEVISION, and does not welcome the contestants' opinions being taken out of context for the benefit of making Brendan and Kelly look bad. Especially since Brendan and Kelly are quite capable of looking like asswipes without any outside assistance.

- Penny's toddler son has a strange mullet haircut, like his dad. Rod referred to his wife's dance partner Ian as "a really nice kid".

- Gethin doing a mock Blue Peter on how to make your own spangly legwarmers and using the word "accessorise" is doing nothing to stop the onward march of Strictly Slashwatch.

- As hard as this may be to believe, Anton does actually swear when he's angry. However, Angry Anton is still more gentlemanly than your average person on a calm day. And he's still SCB's favourite (not in a patronising ironic Brucie way).

- Erin joined Kate and Angry Anton in rehearsal on Wednesday to protect La Garraway from the righteous wrath of Du Beke - "That's nothing. That's nonsense. You'll get slaughtered for that, and rightly so. You don't even make it hard for them. It kills me when you do this. You dance so nicely, then you do that immediately afterwards." Explaining his rage to Claudia, he says, "I love Kate. I love dancing with her and I love working with her." Aw. Kate interjects, "We've made up, though!" Anton nods, replying, "Yes, we've made up, kiss me!" and pounces on her. AHAHAHAHA, take that, Kate Garraway's mean husband!

- Matt is boycotting the cape for the paso, because Flavia does not trust him with props.

- Lilia has done more screeching at Dom, and quite right too. He has taken to wearing vests in rehearsal. Ew. She said, "If you keep telling me how many fucking minutes we have left, I'm walking out of here," and "I'm really stopping liking you," and "Stupid, stupid person" (whispered to camera), and "I think I've finally met someone I would really like to murder." They were all smiles on Friday, though.

- Sob story alert! Dom is diabetic.

- Head Judge Len is appalled at the idea of Kenny in a kilt doing the paso doble. He also likened Letitia to "a tortoise who's lost its shell". He thinks the foxtrot could be Gethin's breakthrough dance.

- Brendan reckons that "caping is an extremely difficult thing to do". The verb "to cape"! Whoop!

- Harry Connick Junior makes Claudia scratch herself in public.

- Arlene says Alesha is sloppy "between the boobs and the ribcage".

- Last thing on Friday, Claudia urged us to vote for our favourite couple because it is ENTIRELY UP TO US.

Join Georgi tomorrow for the dancing, and Steve on Sunday for the results show.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Penny's from heaven

Results show: 28th October 2007

As if we'd forgotten, there are 11 couples left and tonight one couple will leave for good! Last night we saw the good (Matt and Flavia), the bad (Brendan "Bad Boy" Cole and his SHOCKING and ILLEGAL extra lift!) and the ugly (Kenny the Gorilla, obviously). Who will be going home? Titles! Audience clap-along! Drink! [I can't drink, I'm too busy clapping along! - Steve]

The celebs and their partners return to the floor, along with Bruce and Tess. Tess seems to be modelling a metallic Tina Turner tribute number with a "Croydon facelift" hairdo and large hoop earrings for an authentic council estate look. Bruce jokes (and I use the word in the loosest possible sense) about the clocks going back and having an extra hour, which will surely only confuse those people who don't realise that this was filmed last night and the BBC IS LYING TO US. Things we have to look forward to: the professional dancers' paso doble, a foxtrot from the British ballroom champions, and... Wet Wet Wet? Oh well.

Recap! Kate and Anton's samba was terrible. Backstage, Kate asks, "Where did it go wrong?" Anton replies, "Just when you... started moving." [Love him. - Carrie] Kate had trouble keeping a straight face after she flashed her knickers at the judges. Kenny practises the art of the understatement to describe his and Ola's samba: "Technically it wasn't great." Craig is obviously a fan of the Louis Walsh school of voting prediction, saying Kenny will need "every vote in Scotland". [That made me laugh like a lunatic. I was waiting for him to add something along the lines of, "And his family loves him." - Carrie] John is disappointed with his performance, but Nicole says everybody makes mistakes, and his son is still proud of him. Lilia is proud of Dom - drink! Gethin and Camilla are hi-fiving and Gethin says he's making progress - "I wouldn't have been able to go out and do that, have a good time on the dancefloor, six weeks ago." Gabby says she never felt that she was on the beat. [Stupid cow. GET on the bloody beat then. - Carrie] Letitia is happy with her dance, which Len called her best dance to date, and Darren says they're going slowly uphill and hopefully won't have a sharp descent. Penny's dad, who doesn't seem to have anything better to do than hang around the BBC studios all the time, says she's got her confidence back. Penny says the samba was made for her because it's how she dances in nightclubs. Alesha seems impressed that she managed to be serious - "I'm a l-l-l-laydeeeee!" Kelly and Brendan in CONTROVERSY SHOCKER! Arlene is furious with Bruno for not penalising them for the extra lift. Brendan thinks the others are a bit annoyed about it, but at least the other judges gave them eights to make up for Bruno's extravagance. Matt's mum was impressed by how smart he looked. Matt wants to "keep the boys alive" in the competition and show everyone it's not just about the girls.

Bruce chats to the judges. Len says Matt's American smooth was brilliant and also thought Penny was good but, being the stickler for rules that he is, was certainly not impressed with Brendan's antics. Bruce asks Bruno why he gave them a ten, and he responds, "I didn't have an 11!" He claims that he "speaks from the heart" and the dance was fantastic. Arlene shouts him down, yelling, "Rules are rules! Are you a judge or a joker?" Fight! Fight! Fight! My money's on Arlene. [God yes. She's probably got some residual bitterness left over from losing DanceX; I certainly wouldn't bet against her. - Steve] Head Judge Len "Voice of Reason" Goodman says the show "is not judged on public applause" - correct there, it's public votes that count - and that the judges are "supposed to give credence" - what's the point in them being there at all? Filler, Head Judge Len. [On the plus side, we now know what the point of the judges is. I'm with Len, Arlene and Craig on this one. It's all very well saying, "That was a good dance, I really enjoyed it, have ten out of ten," but if that couple didn't obey the rules which everyone else had to abide by, then they have to be marked down. Maybe if Alesha and Matthew had chucked in an extra lift or two it might have been more aesthetically pleasing and distracted people from the occasional technical lapses. But they didn't, because it's CHEATING. - Carrie]

Speaking of which, now we have the pro dancers' paso, which some of the couples will be dancing next week. The man plays the role of the matador and the woman is either the bull or the cape, apparently. [I thought the woman was always the cape? Then again, you can write everything I know about dancing on the back of a stamp, so never mind. - Steve] The ladies come out in very skimpy, shimmery silver outfits. I thought the paso usually had longer skirts than that. The men are very dull in head-to-toe black with no chests on show. They're dancing to the White Stripes' 'Seven Nation Army', which is a perplexing choice for the dance as well as putting the male singer a bit out of his depth. The couples do a weird move where the men are on their hands and knees on the floor and the women lie on their backs. It's a bit like a more elegant caterpillar. I doubt Head Judge Len would approve. The music changes to the Mission Impossible theme tune. All the flashing lights detract from the dancing. Frankly, I don't think it's a very good guide to what a paso ought to be like. Must do better.

Tess is backstage and thought the paso was very sexy. Matt is modest about coming top of the leaderboard. Kate says, "Everything went wrong! My top nearly came off," and says it was quite offputting that she could hear Bruno cackling as they danced. John says everything went wrong for him too, and, shockingly, he doesn't want to be in the dance-off.

Claudia does her usual plug for 'It Takes Two'. Next week - Rod Stewart, the boys from Joseph [WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP! - Carrie] and Mark Ramprakash.

Various celebrity audience members backstage harp on about their favourites, or their mates, or usually both.

Bruce introduces a "very special foxtrot" from the British ballroom champions, who dance to swing tune 'It's a Blue World', which for once is within the singers' range. Bruce may think this dance is special, but it has no personality at all. Perhaps that's how professionals should be; who knows? Anyway, I'm bored. The judges don't give them a standing ovation, which they seem to do for most of the filler. Bruce says there was "more rise and fall than the Roman Empire". Blah.

Time to speak to the judges again! Didn't we do this earlier? Craig didn't get a say earlier though. He is uncontroversial, saying the show is full of surprises and the standard changes weekly, but "It's good to see Matt coming up through the ranks to challenge the ladies." Arlene says the boys are "closing the gap rapidly"; she thinks Gethin did well, and has faith in John Barnes. As Bruce thanks them for their remarks, Len and Bruno clap politely but nobody else bothers.

Here's the moment we've all been waiting for - Wet Wet Wet performing their 1992 hit 'Goodnight Girl'. Since they haven't had a hit since 'Love Is All Around' was in the charts for most of 1994, we can only assume they've got a greatest hits album coming out in time for Christmas and probably a stadium tour on the horizon. [Quick, run! Women, children and gays first! - Steve] Perhaps Marti Pellow's coke fund is running low? Allegedly. Matt and Nicole do interpretative dance. It looks like a rumba but has very little chemistry [but why? They used to be married! - Carrie], though there are plenty of lifts and tricks.

FINALLY! It's time for the results. Two couples will have to dance again, nobody wants to leave, etc. This is the MOMENT of TRUTH. So, in random order, the couples who are safe are: Matt and Flavia - who probably would have had to get no audience votes at all to be in the bottom two; Kate and Anton - what the fuck? Everyone is shocked, including Bruce, who remarks on what a surprise that is. How many lives does this woman have? When will the sympathy votes run out? I am pleased for Anton though; Letitia and Darren - I think Darren gasps, "Fabulous!", though he is muffled by Letitia's hair; Alesha and Matthew; Gethin and Camilla; Dom and Lilia, with a cheeky chappie thumbs-up; Kelly and Brendan; John and Nicole, who look pretty relieved.

Those are, as Bruce pointed out, pretty surprising results. Only Gabby and James, Penny and Ian, and Kenny and Ola are left in. I'm almost expecting a husband versus wife dance-off, but it's not to be - Kenny and Ola are through! Gabby does not look happy. [AHAHAHAHAH! - Carrie] Everyone seems shocked. Len says he's "absolutely astounded" that two of the best sambas of the night are in the bottom two and advises them to dance their best, relax and enjoy it. Bruce says it "doesn't seem right". Well, get used to it. This is democracy in action right here. [THIS is what I want my licence fee spent on - pissing off stuck-up tossers on light entertainment shows. - Carrie]

Gabby and James are first up in the dance-off. Their samba is pretty good and they don't deserve to go out. [And since the judges remarked on the appalling nature of Gabby's voltas last night, I now know what a volta looks like, because I watched Gabby doing them badly again. Thanks Gabby! - Steve] Penny's acting, on the other hand, annoys me. If it was up to me, Penny and Ian would lose just for choosing inappropriate samba music and spending half of their routine on boot-related choreography rather than proper samba moves. Still, this will be a difficult choice for the judges.

Bruce reminds us that the couple with the most votes will be back next week, which means the other couple will be leaving. Oh, right. Is *that* what the dance-off is for? Thank goodness for Brucie. Craig says this is "the situation we wanted to avoid", but "for sheer versatility" he chooses Gabby. Arlene says "because she danced for her life", she's choosing Penny. Bruno says this is an "unprecedented situation", but Penny and Ian had "extra bling" in their "Austin Powers samba" and so he wants to save them, which means Head Judge Len actually has the casting vote this week. Len is clearly not happy, and stresses that his role is "to vote off one of the worst, not one of the best". [Tough shit. Next they'll be wanting to do all the voting themselves. This is ENTIRELY the judges' fault. When will they learn? Kate and Anton and Kenny and Ola are likeable and endearing, because they've got more of a learning curve ahead of them - a "journey", if you will - and the judges keep insulting them. Apart from the fact that their high scores from the judges make the Great British Public think they're safe, the two couples in the dance-off this week aren't going to have a natural fanbase out there. Penny seems OK, but I haven't got much of an opinion on Ian one way or the other, and Gabby and James are just the most fearsomely, ambitiously competitive couple in the world - people will not vote for them. - Carrie] Perhaps he will quit and be replaced by Jason Gardiner in an X Factor-style storyline. Anyway, Len says both danced beautifully, but for her "more rounded performance", he's saving Penny.

Gabby does the usual stuff about having had a phenomenal time and says she had more to give; James mutters grumpily that they "should've been in the top three but there you go". [Graciousness seems to be a running theme of losers this series. - Carrie] Off they go for their last dance, and try to show off with an overhead lift which comes off looking a bit clumsy as Gabby flashes her knickers at the camera. Who would have thought that Gabby would go off before Kenny? Or Kate, for that matter? [Not me. I'm hardly a fan of Gabby's, but for these two couples to be in the bottom two on this occasion was absolute horseshit. - Steve] This is what happens when the Great British Public vote! After the credits, Tess tells us that the voting lines have now re-opened and "Remember you're voting for your favourite!" I think she should be telling us to remember to vote for whoever does the best dance. Everyone seems to have forgotten.

Tune in next week, when Alesha and Kelly will probably be in the dance-off!

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Hair today, gone tomorrow?

Last week on Strictly, there were tears, tantrums and triumphs. Everyone has been training this week. Shocker! I hate stupid tension-building trails before a perfectly good programme. Strictly really doesn't need it. Titles!

Bruce and Tess make their entrances. Tess is wearing a red dress with lots of odd embellishments, and says something about losing her necklace (or possibly knickers, it's hard to tell). Bruce makes a joke about sharing a dressing room with the Antiques Roadshow.

The celebrities are welcomed on to the floor - Matt and Flavia, Kate and Anton (and his hairy chest), Dom and Lilia, Kely and Brendan, Letitia and Darren, Gethin and Camilla, Alesha and Matt, Kenny and Ola, Gabby and James, John and Nicole, and Penny and Ian. Bruce admires them all for their beauty and shininess, and wishes them luck.

Last week was a disaster for British sport, and Willie is now "free" - cue chants of "free Willie". Bruce claims his absence is "samba's loss". We're urged to vote in order to keep our favourites out of the dreaded dance-off.

Alesha's up first, dancing the American smooth, and Bruce makes inappropriate comments about being disappointed that she's wearing a long dress. She seems to have been rehearsing in hot pants a lot this week, with Matt grabbing her bum, which you would, really. She wants to prove that she can do ballroom as well as Latin. Go Team Alesha! She's wearing an orangey dress with a flared long skirt, and spangly long gloves, and they dance to Top Hat, White Tie and Tails. Bruce tells them they are wonderful, and welcomes "our wonderful singers, Dave Archer and his fabulous orchestra". Which wonderful singers?

Len says it was a good performance, but in hold they lost body contact. Bruno screeches, "OH LEN!" He interrupts to enthuse about Alesha's movement and musicality, and they begin to bicker. Drink! Len concludes with "I'm fed up with sitting next to you", and turns away. Oh dear. [Heh. A week of sitting next to Sharon Osbourne or Louis Walsh, he'd be begging to have Bruno back. Count your blessings, Head Judge Len. - Steve] Craig loved the cross-section of rhythms, but agrees with Len about the loss of body contact during hold. Arlene gives her views, and Bruno continues to shout, so she shouts louder. Tess claims to be scared of Len, which is clearly a lie. Alesha reminds us that she has never done ballroom before. Marks - Craig gives an 8, Arlene 8, Len 8 and Bruno 9, with a big whoop and air punch.

Gabby did the splits last week. Bruce claims to be able to do the splits. He can't. This is the first week when Gabby and James and Kenny and Ola are doing the same dance. James doesn't think Gabby is in touch with the softness of the samba. Gabby is wearing some bizarre glittery concoction with a feathery tail, with James in his customary black with low plunge at the front. Bruce tells them they were wonderful, and Len says that the samba is the most difficult dance for celebrities because of the changes in time. He makes a few minor criticisms but says that she did a good job of a difficult dance. Bruno agrees that she should watch her timing and attack the turns a little bit aggressively. Craig says they had "a massive party feel", but that her voltas made her look like an injured mule. Arlene tells Gabby, "You need to feel the music in you", which sounds like a cue for a song from High School Musical 2, but thankfully it is not. [Gabby would make a brilliant Sharpay, although she'd probably fail to spot the irony. - Steve] James and Gabby are not disappointed; they are pleased with the constructive comments. The scores - Craig 7, Arlene 7, Len 8, and Bruno 8. Tess asks Kenny if he thinks he can beat that score, and he says that to do so will be easy. Yeah right!

Still to come - Dom being a tosser, John being marked by his children, and Gethin looking cute on a night out, complete with hip action. Bruce delights in the hip action, then makes a gag about Dom talking a lot.

Dom complains about how busy his timetable has been this week. And, as we said to ZombiEmily on the Bitch Factor last Saturday, if you can't devote the necessary time to the show, then either get on with it as best you can and shut the fuck up, or don't enter the competition at all. As we know from It Takes Two yesterday, Dom was messing about in training and hurt his shoulder, so there might not be too many lifts in this American smooth. Oh, maybe not - there's an early incident of Lilia-twirling over his shoulder. Is Lilia wearing a dress or trousers? What a strange outfit. Dom's in tails, obviously. Bruce makes a joke about Dom being short. Arlene says that Lilia has polished Dom like a diamond, which is ripe with comic potential, but we'll move on. She praises his hands, which were admittedly good. Len asks him why he persists in watching Lilia's bum when he's behind her. Bruno is amused, saying that it is inappropriate but funny. Craig says it wasn't brilliant, but Lilia is a clever choreographer. Hooray for Lilia! Everyone loves Lilia! Scores - Craig 6 (booo!), Arlene 6 (booo!), Len 7 (yay!), Bruno (yay!).

Kate and Anton next, and Bruce makes a joke about "taking the judges' criticism on the chin", which I believe Georgi made last week. Does Bruce read Strictly Come Bitching? [Check our stats. If anyone came to us after Googling "that handsome devil Bruce Forsyth", we'll know he does. - Steve] We recap Anton's alluring anger from last weekend - grrrr! This is Kate's first Latin dance. Anton tells her it is "filth. The hardest of all Latin dances", which seems to frighten her. Anton says, "I know I said once the samba was a lot of old rubbish, but I'm going to show those Latin boys how a real man wiggles." Hee! They're on the floor to Dancing Queen! Not a good choice in terms of the band's singers, because Abba is tricky to sing at the best of times, and even more so if you're rubbish. Anton looks like he's having fun, and when Kate has to spin or pose, she extends well, but the rest of the time it really does appear that he's dragging her around. Anton carries Kate off the floor to face the judges, and he tells them he doesn't want to listen to them - "Thanks for coming, we'll be off." Craig says it was entertaining for all the wrong reasons and that Anton looks like he was throwing her about. Arlene says it was more like a dancing quail than a dancing queen. What the fuck? [Arlene's comments make about as much sense as Kate's dancing does, so I think I understand where she was going with that one. - Steve] Len thanks Arlene and Craig for their words of encouragement, and points out that there was a great improvement, and congratulates them both. Anton shakes his hand. Bruno says Kate is like a rag doll being bashed about. Bruce says they're his favourites. Kate says she was having a lovely time, and she liked dancing to the song. Scores - Craig 3 (ouch!), Arlene 3, Len 6 and Bruno 4. Anton is happy with the 6, and describes Len as a lovely man. Kate says many nice things about Anton. Anton says he will get his chest out again if they stay in, and Tess interrupts him with "no, please don't". Stupid mare. [Dude, she's married to Vernon Kaye. Her opinion on matters of taste is officially redundant. - Steve]

Bruce introduces John and Nicole with a gag about using Mark Ramprakash as a substitute. Because he's a sportsman. Do you see? John's daughter (one of six children!) is proud; John draws analogies between the dance-off and penalty shoot-outs. [Because he's a SPORTSMAN, who plays SPORT, and will probably have a JOURNEY of some kind. *headdesk* - Steve] They're doing the American smooth; Nicole is in a pretty chiffony floaty gown, with John in his tux. There are a couple of nice lifts, but essentially I found this a bit dull. Maybe because the female vocalist was warbling away. Bruno criticising him messing it up big-time, losing his footing and the posture. Craig thought it was boring too! Arlene says that John's sentimentality and sincerity is good, but it doesn't translate to his feet. Bruce tells them they're his second favourites, which is never a good sign. Scores - Craig 4, Arlene 5, Len 7 and Bruno 6. Hmm, mixed bag there, and I think Len is taking the good cop thing to extremes now.

Bruce makes a pitiful gag about being a zookeeper thanks to all the judges' animal metaphors, introducing Kenny and Ola, who want to beat James and Gabby. Ola makes reference to "her", meaning Gabby, which may have been taken out of context, but I prefer to interpret it as thinly-veiled hatred. Footage of Gabby being A Bad Mother and leaving Kenny at home to look after the twins. Kenny poses in the middle of the floor, arms aloft, and the audience whoop. Gyrations, hip thrusting, and Ola shimmying so that her feathery skirt bounces about. They look like they're having fun, and Kenny is certainly lighter on his feet than he has been previously. Arlene slags it off roundly; Len calls it "a sea of bloody horrible"; Bruno says he looked drunk and has the grace of a vacuum cleaner; and Craig deems it a dance disaster, grotesque in some places, with repulsive hip thrusts. Bruce asks Kenny if he has anything to say, "as a rugby player". Kenny does say something, but have no idea what it was. Scores - Craig 3, Arlene 4, Len 6, Bruno 5 - and sorry, that doesn't make sense. If it really was a "sea of bloody horrible", why would he get six out of ten?

Next up, Kelly and Brendan. She doesn't think they deserved nines last week, because they can do a lot better. The American smooth was Kelly's reason for signing up to the show, but Brendan seems to be ruining her enjoyment of the week by changing the routine all the time. She's wearing a black and white dress, with gloves, and her hair's up, so they're obviously going for a cheap Audrey Hepburn tribute. As they dance, the dress seems to be reflecting the light, and resembles wet bin-bags, or possibly polished PVC - not really a classy look. Bruno likens her to Ava Gardner, and if La Beacham was still in this competition, she'd put him in his place. Craig criticises Brendan for putting in three lifts, which is fair enough, and Kelly says they knew they'd broken the rules. Pair of muppets, and the audience are even stupider because they boo Craig. Arlene bashes the table. Bruce tells Brendan that he must learn to obey rules. Marks - Craig 8, Arlene 8, Len 8 (with a cry of "doughnut!") and Bruno 10. What the hell is Bruno playing at? Imbecile. [Oh, Bruno. I hope you're volunteering to personally answer all of the complaints that will be winging their way to the BBC after that, because I promise you, they will be legion. - Steve]

Bruce calls Gethin "Kenneth" and basically fucks up the entire introduction. This week Camilla has taken Gethin to a samba club, and the dancers shout at him to use his hips. This seems to have been a breakthrough, and he gyrates his way through training the next day. He's in a black ruffly shirt, and Camilla's in light blue and fluff, and they're dancing to More Than A Woman. The band's horn player is stil shit. Craig notes "a slight improvement" in his "tight and tormented" hips. Arlene tells him not to hold back and that Strictly is on later than Blue Peter. [A whole 45 minutes! - Steve] Len says that the adrenaline meant that Gethin faltered in his timing. Scores - Craig 6, Arlene 6, Len 7 and Bruno 7.

Letitia has LOW CONFIDENCE, kids, so we must feel SORRY for her. In the American smooth, she wants to be more Ginger Rogers and not Kenny Rogers. She's in a hideous grey and purple dress, so I kind of feel sorrier for her grave offence against the costume department. Arlene wibbles something about braces; Len says it was her best dance yet; Bruno mutters about campness. He'd know. Marks - Craig 7, Arlene 8, Len 8 and Bruno 8. It wasn't THAT good.

The audience sit in stunned silence as Bruce shoehorns in a "no oil painting" joke that makes no sense. Lots of squealing girls rush into Penny and Ian's rehearsal room, who seem to be Penny's mates, all of whom are from Essex. Back in the real world, Penny and Ian are in gold, and Penny does acting as she pushes Ian away from her and onto the floor, ready for the start of the routine, which is a weird bossa nova version of These Boots Are Made For Walking, and obviously Penny has golden boots on. Penny surreptitiously tucks her breasts back into her dress. Len says this dance was right up her alley; Bruno says it was a samba all the way down Carnaby Street and it used her assets well; Craig welcomes her back into the competition; Arlene says it was less like a carnival in Rio, more like a private party for two. Craig is on fine catty form this week, asking her where her taste is. Scores - Craig 8, Arlene 7 (boooooo!), Len 9 and Bruno 8.

As Bruce announces Matt, there's well-rehearsed screaming from the audience. Flavia stropped out of rehearsal this week; Matt says it was a "lovers' tiff", and buys her a cake and a coffee to make up for it. They're dancing the American smooth, and Flavia is wearing a nasty yellow trouser suit. Why? More pretty dresses, please, stylists. Craig says the routine was "absolutely fantastic"; Arlene wants to call Matt "matinee idol"; Len tells him he is marvellous; Bruno heaps on some superlatives without a care for syntax. Marks - Craig 9, Arlene 9, Len 9 and Bruno 9. That makes them top of the leaderboard. Whoop whoop!

So, they're top, followed by Kelly and Alesha, and Kate and Anton are rooted to the bottom of the table. Tess urges us to vote. Recap of the dances and the phone numbers. And that's it for tonight - well, as far as we'll get to see. The results show is aired tomorrow evening, and Wet Wet Wet will be performing. A good enough reason to miss it and catch up with the news here on Strictly with Georgi tomorrow instead.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

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

Bruno and Len being in LA means more Arlene and Craig on screen. And not in a good way.

Willie Thorne is a really bad loser.

James Jordan thinks some of the male professionals are overrated.

Letitia Dean is morphing into Barbara Windsor.

It's really irritating when your Sky+ box fails to record It Takes Two when you've been looking forward to it all day.

Gethin the tapir at Longleat sounds remarkably like Vincent Simone.

Claudia doesn't do any research on the show; instead she chooses to get her nails done.

Penny's dad sounds rather more posh-Essex than she does.

Anton doesn't get annoyed. Except when he got annoyed with the judges last week.

Ben Shepherd's name is on little letters on the door of his dressing room at GMTV.

The male contestants have "something different" to the female contestants, according to Arlene. Claudia's mind immediately switches to the gutter.

Dom was messing around in rehearsals and has knackered his shoulder. Lilia is angry. They may not dance tomorrow.

Aled Jones has a new album out.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Show without a Thorne

Results show: 21st October 2007

So last night, the men and the women competed against each other for the first time. They were facing four plain-speaking judges, and this is demonstrated with four clips - barbed comments from Craig, Bruno and Arlene, with a nice comment from Len. Tonight, we will see one broken dream, so for the misanthropes among us, that's something to look forward to. [Whoop whoop! - Georgi]


The celebrities and partners return to the floor, followed by Bruce and Tess. I'm initially very excited by Tess's dress, which is silver and strapless, but then the camera pans out and I don't like the hemline, so my hopes are dashed. [But you mainly see the top half, which is fine. Her hair has lost volume since "yesterday" though. - Georgi]

Bruce does a 'topical' joke about England losing the rugby. Tess reminds us that the couples performed either a jive or a tango; Bruce tells us that the public's votes will be combined with the judges' votes to decide who will leave.

A recap from last night, as the couples competed against each other for the very first time (o rly?). Anton is angry, and strangely alluring. Kate asks him if he's cross with her, and he says, "Absolutely not. If we have to dance it again, we'd dance it exactly the same way." Erin and Willie want to stay in for each other's sake, bless. Willie thinks that he can beat Kate in the dance-off. Dom tells Lilia that their routine was "pants". [I'd like to see him choreograph a better one! - Georgi] Ola is happy with Kenny; Kenny has been on a journey. Yawn. Penny's mum doesn't like seeing her daughter cry. Jamie, John's son, thinks there is a connection between quick feet in football and quick feet in dancing. Letitia felt more comfortable with the tango than she did with the rumba. Gethin is pleased that Arlene called him "gorgeous" [Gethin, be afraid, be very afraid - Georgi]; Camilla thinks they are the best comments she's got in all the series of Strictly. Random people from EastEnders say things about Matt. [Matt and Gethin were next to each other on the leaderboard. Coincidence? I THINK NOT. - Steve] Gabby is fuming backstage about her mistakes, and tries to drag James off to do some more training. Kelly hugs Brendan to reassure him about his errors, but he is sulking. Alesha is fabulous on all possible levels, and says she wouldn't have minded if she'd got 5s from the judges because she enjoyed it so much. [I bet she would have minded a little bit. But I think it's fair to say she'd probably take that score a lot better than Gabby would. - Steve]

Bruce welcomes the judges, who beam, and in the case of Len and Bruno, applaud the room at large. They all purport to be in good moods. Len expected the girls to overpower the boys, but now he thinks the boys are holding their own. Craig thinks that Penny shouldn't be in the bottom two, even though he was harsh on her; it was just that the dance didn't suit her.

Bruce says the next part is his favourite bit of the show - no, he's not going to sing, the professionals are going to perform an American Smooth to 'Leroy Brown'. Lots of sparkly satin gowns for the ladies, and an interesting element of partner-swapping through the routine - seems weird to see Flavia dancing with Darren and so on. Brendan keeps well away from Camilla, though, which is good seeing as they vowed after Eurovision that they would NEVER DANCE WITH EACH OTHER EVER AGAIN. An incredible bit at the end where James throws Flavia behind him, and Brendan catches her. Kenny says he would worry about doing something like that in case he drops her.

Lots of burble backstage - they all enjoy dancing, don't want to be in the bottom two, that kind of tedium. Claudia plugs It Takes Two, which is full of the usual stuff.

Angellica Bell thinks Alesha is great, as does Katherine Jenkins, but she's going to support Gethin because HE IS WELSH. Peter Beardsley is supporting John Barnes. Willie Thorne's wife is pleased with him. Kate's horrible husband thinks the judges are mean. Jane Horrocks loves Anton. Me too!

Bruce introduces a samba performed by Vincent, Flavia and the London School of Samba. Goodness, there simply are NOT ENOUGH CLOTHES on these people. It's October, you bunch of freaks, put your baps away for the winter. [They didn't even really do much samba-ing. Does shimmying a bit while wearing feathers count? -Georgi] Vincent is wearing a white sparkly see-through shirt, and Flavia has opted rather sensibly for a crop-top sequinned effort and a matching skirt, with a feathery tail.

Bruno says that Matt and Flavia should not be in the bottom two, because only the tip of the iceberg has been seen so far, and Flavia is a gem. Arlene says she was not disappointed with the boys, who are in it to win it, and she loves Gethin, Matt and John. Bruno screeches, "There is so much love! I am melting!" [Then Bruce says, "Who's going to scrape you off the floor?" and Bruno laughs maniacally for no particular reason that I can see. - Georgi]

Before the results can be announced, obviously we need more filler. Katherine Jenkins and Andrea Bocelli are going to sing Time To Say Goodbye, because obviously the world needs to hear that. [I am so bored of that song. Are there no other classical duets, for goodness' sake? - Georgi] I don't really like Katherine Jenkins, and I'm beginning to think it's because of her hair. [Also, she has one of those faces you just want to punch. - Steve] She's YOUNG, for goodness sake, why does she insist on a sausage-roll curler hairdo circa 1941? I know she's supposed to be the Forces' Sweetheart, but there are limits. Anyway, Anton and Erin dance to the music, and are met with whoops. When it finishes, there's a standing ovation, and I'm sure there's a gag to be made about the X-Factor and a duo where one is blind, but I can't be bothered. [I watched this midway through watching The X Factor on video, and for a second I genuinely did expect them to cut to Louis Walsh going, "the poor boy's blind!" - Steve]

Bruce says it is the Moment Of Truth. The results will be read out in a random order. So the couples who are safe are - Alesha and Matt (shocker. Should bloody well hope so too); Gethin and Camilla; Kelly and Brendan; Gabby and James; Matt and Flavia; Dom and Lilia; Letitia and Darren; Kenny and Ola; Kate and Anton (hooray! Kate has been clutching Anton's hands very cutely throughout this bit, and now he picks her up and spins her round. Maybe she will run off with him, because as we know, Anton Likes Girls [Is he Not Gay?!??!?!!!11!!1! - Georgi]); Penny and Ian.

So it's John and Nicole and Willie and Erin to dance off, and thus I win for predicting that it would be two celebrity men in the bottom two. Len tells them that he knows they are far away from what they are used to, so they have both done really well. He tells John and Willie to lift their posture a little bit more.

John and Nicole will be first in the dance-off. Same as before, except the guitarist in the band forgets to stop this time round. Seriously, where do they get these musicians from? I'm telling you again - ring me. I'll work for peanuts. [Maybe that kind of thinking was the source of all their problems in the first place. - Steve] [I doubt whoever they've got in charge now is working for peanuts simply because they love the show, more like because they SUCK and nobody else will employ them. - Carrie] Willie and Erin dance again, and Willie, bless him, looks to be concentrating so intently on keeping his posture upright that his head is utterly immobile.

Now it's up to the judges, and Tess has her sympathetic yet serious face on. Bruce tells them that they are all so brave. For dancing. On the telly. Yep, that's courage embodied, right there. Head judge Len [Surely you mean Head Judge Len? - Georgi] pulls his funny face again when Tess says that he has the casting vote. Craig says both couples have their strengths and weaknesses, and opts to save John and Nicole because they have more dance talent. Arlene says that John tackled some very tricky rhythms set by Nicole, and votes to save them. Bruno waggles his eyebrows and chooses to save John and Nicole too, which means head judge Len doesn't get to vote at all, let alone use his casting vote. He says that it was a close-run thing, saying "there's not much in it, like my bank account" (at which Bruno cackles, "LIAR!" much too loudly and then laughs like a drain), but he too would have saved John and Nicole.

Willie thanks Erin with the usual gumph, Bruce makes everyone shout "Go, Willie!". [He's trying to be gracious, but on the snooker later Willie was officially the World's Worst Loser, saying that he thought both Kenny and Kate were worse than he was, and intimating that Kate only won because more GMTV has more viewers than the snooker! - Georgi] Next week it'll be an American Smooth or a samba, and Bruce advises us to do our shopping early so as not to to miss the show [Or! The Beeb shouldn't schedule it so bloody early - Georgi]. Willie and Erin begin their last dance to 'She's Out Of My Life', but are interrupted by the other contestants flooding on to the floor and chanting "Go, Willie!" at great volume. Get out of THAT, director! Ha. That's it for this week, viewers. Join us next Saturday!

It Takes Twelve To Tango

First all-celebrities dance: 20th October 2007

It's Saturday, it's 5.45 (I know the show's an hour and a half long, but this seems ridiculously early) [can't have Strictly and X-Factor running at different times, can we? - Carrie] [except those BASTARDS AT ITV moved X-Factor 15 minutes earlier anyway. - Steve][It's as though they don't realise people have Sky+ and can watch both - Georgi] and, according to Tess Daly, the PRESSURE is INTENSE - it's boys against girls! Whoop!

The costume department have obviously hearkened to Steve's advice, because Tess's dress is much better this week. [Yes! She looked so much better this week. - Steve] Although it does look a bit like her breasts have been taped into place with gold tape. Her hair is looking bouncy too. I do wonder though, Tess still looks so awkward doing her little dance with Bruce at the start of the show every week - you'd think she would have improved in the past four years. Bruce opens the show with his usual wibbling, something to do with a bucket and spade and his make-up woman... blah blah, whatever. Here are the 12 couples competing tonight. Several of the ladies are competing for the tiniest costume award; I think Flavia probably wins this week. Sorry, Lilia - your dress just isn't revealing enough on the front. [Lilia looks positively demure this week! - Carrie] Of the men, James Jordan is looking particularly dashing in his open-chested shirt and braces.

Brucie reminds us that Stephanie Beacham was thrilled to be kicked out last week, and apparently this week it is men versus women. Why weren't we informed? The phone lines are open already, before anyone has even danced, which just shows that Strictly is as much a popularity contest as a dance competition. Tonight the couples will be dancing the jive or the tango.

Gabby and James are up first, dancing the jive. Gabby was pretty pissed off at her poor scores last week, and Bruce tells the judges they better watch out for Kenny if they're mean to Gabby again this week. I'd have thought as long as Kenny and Ola get a decent score, they won't have too much to worry about. In the rehearsal footage, James displays an impressive tattoo on his arm, and says he is "taking control" this week - I should think so too. Get that woman into line, like you do at home with Ola. Rrrr. [Pause here while I have my usual divergence into fantasties about James and Ola's home life. OK, good, moving on now - Carrie] Gabby is concerned that Kenny will gloat if he gets higher scores, but let's face it, she's probably not having sleepless nights over that. They're dancing to Elton John's 'Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting'. At times Gabby looks as though she's getting left behind a bit, but mostly the jive suits her as an athletic, energetic dance. I note James choreographed a cheeky arse-slap into the routine too - the jive's all about cheekiness. [We almost get a little too much cheekiness, as James's braces ping unclipped, and he performs an expertly dextrous sleight of hand to whip them off and sling them off to the side, dancing all the while. - Carrie] Gabby finishes off with a cartwheel and the splits. Show-off. [My thoughts exactly. - Steve] Over to the judges. Len explains that in the jive he's looking for sharp, fast flicks and kicks, in hold and apart, and Gabby and James have demonstrated everything he's after, at which point James kisses Gabby's hair. Aaah. [That must mean he really likes her! James does seem really fond of Gabby, in utter contrast to his regular stand-up rows with Georgina last year. - Carrie] Bruno says although Gabby made a few mistakes, they really "got the party started". Craig says she had one timing issue, but the routine was "technically clean and accurate" and she's a star. Arlene tries for an ill-advised musical reference as usual - "Saturday night and the fight is on and you started it!" As though she hasn't embarrassed herself enough, she continues, "It's like you Googled jive and pressed the key and got it all." [First shout of 'Fuck off, Arlene!' of the night from me. - Carrie] Backstage with Tess, Gabby is a lot happier than she was last week and says she wants to do it again (not realising the obvious ramification that dancing again would mean she was in the dance-off "tomorrow") [which makes her officially less clever than Alesha. Hee! - Steve]. Tess is impressed that Gabby can do the splits - "She's a mum! She's got twins! She can do the splits!" Last time I checked, having been pregnant didn't make you less flexible. [Although giving birth to twins may leave you with a rather huge scar depending on episiotomy. Perhaps Tess will remind us of Gabby's twin-mother status all series, as we had with Carol "mother of three" Smillie last year. - Carrie] The scores are in: 8 from Craig, 7 from Arlene (which the audience boo, although it's still a respectable score), 8s from Len and Bruno, for a total of 31.

Next up, Gethin and Camilla. Bruce jokes that Gethin went down to the Blue Peter studios and came back with two yoghurt pots held together with sticky-backed plastic - but Camilla will have to wear more than that! Ha ha ha. Gethin was disheartened by the judges' comments last week because he thought he had done a pretty good job. Aww. The tango is all about the man being in charge and being aggressive - how will Gethin cope? Camilla says he's not frightened of touching her anymore, and Gethin says he has finally become a man. Bless. He's going to look after Camilla (apparently being a man means being patronising and sexist) and give it some attitude. Whoop! Back on the dancefloor, they're dancing to Spandau Ballet's 'Gold'. Hence Camilla's gold dress. The costume department really put some thought into that one. Gethin seems to have most of the steps, but there's a lack of drive and they're slow across the floor. Where's that aggression, Gethin? [But when they finish, Gethin kisses Camilla on the nose. Aww. - Carrie.] Bruce picks Gethin up on saying, "I'm in charge," apparently an old catchphrase of his - old enough that nobody alive remembers it, Bruce. Give it up. Len tells us the tango has no rise and fall, a tighter hold and sharp movements; in Gethin's case the moves were there, but the passion was lacking. Bruno calls him a "Welsh dragon" and compliments his hold and posture, but says he needs more fire. Craig says there are no hips in the tango, so it could be the dance for him, but it lacked drama, drive and energy, his head movements weren't sharp enough and his balance went. Despite this, Craig calls it his "best so far" - so better than week one, then. [I'd love to know what Craig's beef with Gethin is. I know Craig's a bitch generally, but he always seems to be particularly bitchy to Gethin. - Steve] Arlene doesn't do much except drool, saying she was glad she said, "Bring on the men!" last week. She's going to call him Gorgeous Gethin, but I'm sure someone has thought of that before, and says if he could sort out his heel leads, the passion and drama would follow. Backstage, Gethin seems pleased enough although he has "lots to work on", particularly more passion. Scores: 6 from Craig, 7 from Arlene, 8s from Len and Bruno, for a total of 29. I think Len and Bruno were being a bit generous there.

Still to come! Ian drops Penny, Kenny does the tango, and Matt gets all shouty in rehearsals.

Penny and Ian are next. Bruce makes a joke about Rod Stewart's black eye, the upshot of which seems to be that Penny is taller than Rod. Yawn. Penny has gained confidence from the great marks she got from the judges for her quickstep last week - 33 points, joint top of the leaderboard. However, the jive is difficult for tall people (boo hoo) [Shit sob-story, kids. "Vote for us! We're tall!" I mean, come on. - Carrie] and Penny's worried she won't be able to keep control of her flailing limbs. Her dad says she has always been clumsy, and she describes herself as "a bull in a china shop". This will be interesting then. They're dancing to Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now', which has a bit of a long intro before it really gets into the dance, including some very Westlife arm movements which have me questioning Ian's cheoreographical talent. Once they get going, Penny's legs do seem to be having trouble keeping up. Mind you, she can do the splits too - take that, Gabby! Bruno says the jive is a difficult dance for Penny, who has "legs as long as a giraffe". Craig calls her "gangly, lumpy, laboured, disappointing", and says that if it's difficult, she needs to work harder; a reasonable comment, but of course the audience boo him. [Drink! - Carrie] Arlene says she's long and leggy, but her legs are lazy; Ian is proof that you can be tall but have sharp moves. Len points out that Ian has been dancing since he was six years old, and Penny coped well and gave it her best shot. Bruno calls her a "gorgeous bluebell" but says she needs to focus on her technique and get it sharper. Bruce tries to console Penny, but backstage with Tess she's in tears, with Ian saying, "She went for it. You can't ask for more"; she says she worked on the control but just couldn't do it. Which is fair enough, but don't expect the judges not to give you a hard time for it. Tess says she looks beautiful, as though that will make up for it. Judges' scores: 5 from Craig, 6 from Arlene, who says, "It wasn't that bad!", 7s from Len and Bruno, for a still fairly respectable total of 25.

Bruce introduces Kenny and Ola with a comment that he's not going to make a joke in every introduction, "You probably won't notice but I thought I'd tell you anyway." Ho ho ho. [Ah, see, this was the first time I laughed at any of Bruce's links for the past four years. Good work! - Carrie][It's only funny because it's true. - Georgi] Kenny opines on his journey already on the show, with emotive piano music in the background. [And Kenny wheels out his sob-story - he's dyslexic and thus finds it difficult to memorise steps. - Carrie][I think the music blocked out the actual words. I just heard, "Whine, cry, poormepoormepoorme." - Georgi] Ola says the usual stuff about how he has improved, and Kenny says he's enjoying every day. They dance to 'Call Me' by Blondie, but the terrible rendition of the in-house band - what is wrong with the female singers this series? They've been awful. Kenny has drive, but he's unsure of his footwork. He has improved, but is still lacking rhythm. Over to the judges. Bruno says, "You went for it like Conan the Barbarian!" but thought it was "too much, too steamy" and needed "more finesse." Craig says it "had the required tension" but he didn't believe the lead and body contact was broken. A bit harshly, he accuses him of having "hands like gorillas". Oh well, maybe there's a future for him in advertising Dairy Milk. Arlene says there was "high drama upstairs" but "nasty footwork". Kindly Head Judge Len says he liked it. Bruce ushers them backstage with a "You're my favourites!" and ponders whether "the rugby star will get another try?" Backstage, Tess says she thought the tango was supposed to masterful, and Gabby says she's proud of him and thought he was masterful. Ola reckons Kenny has improved, but he's still having trouble hearing the beat. The scores are in: 6s from Craig and Arlene, which the crowd don't seem to know whether to boo or cheer for, and settle on both, 7 from Len and 6 from Bruno, for a total of 25.

Apparently it is the first time the men and women have battled against each other!!!!!!!!!!!!1111!!1!

Bruce says Matt is, "Sexy, young, good-looking... and getting on my nerves." Matt was petrified when he had to dance in week one. He compares it to "taking your driving test, sitting your GCSEs and losing your virginity in front of the nation". [Ew. - Carrie] He doesn't want to let Flavia down though, and he's getting angry and frustrated in rehearsals when he doesn't get it right. Flavia says Matt is "vulnerable", but says all he needs to do is get his personality into the routine. Matt knows he "has to let go" to impress the judges with his jive. They're dancing to 'Shake, Rattle and Roll' - most famously recorded by Bill Haley and his Comets although the original was by Big Joe Turner, I am reliably(?) informed by Wikipedia - a great old-school rock'n'roll number. Matt's costume is a bit odd: a flesh-coloured t-shirt (or possibly vest, can't tell) [I thought it was more orangey, or Flavia-coloured. - Carrie] under an unbuttoned black shirt, suggesting that maybe he's not brave enough to get his chest out. Boo! However, he really throws himself into the routine, as promised. There are a few awkward transitional moves, but all the basics are there. Arlene says there were "kicks, flicks, pivots... you could be a star!" Len says it was "fantastic". Matt has surprised everyone. Bruno says he knew Matt could do it, but "don't lose the steps", whatever that means. Craig doesn't get a look-in. Bruce: "Is the soap star's bubble about to burst?" Backstage, Tess reveals that Matt has been feeling the stress today and cried earlier in rehearsals. Matt says he lost it halfway through, but nobody seems to have noticed. Judges' scores: 7 from Craig, 7 from Arlene, who assures us that they did notice the mistakes, 8s from Len and Bruno, for a total of 30. Matt seems a bit shellshocked.

Bruce says Kate was in pain last week but the judges were a bit harsh considering "she didn't have a leg to stand on". The gags just keep on coming. [I missed the beginning of that gag when I was watching, but I was really hoping it was a reference to Heather Mills on Dancing with the Stars. Oh well, never mind. - Steve] Still, this week Kate's got no excuses and something to prove. The trouble is, she's not used to being sexy. In rehearsal, Anton points out that she has "better equipment" than him, and he still looks sexier than her. [Bless Anton, he gets cajoling, flattery and mirth into one finely-honed sentence. - Carrie] Kate is worried that she might giggle when Anton looks like he's going to ravage her. Hee. She wants to look sexy for her husband, who will be in the audience next week. I'm getting quite concerned for the state of Kate's marriage when she seems so desperate to impress him all the time. [Indeed, as is Anton, judging by his, "How did you ever get married?" comment. - Carrie] Kate and Anton are tango-ing to 'They' by Jem, which doesn't seem Anton's type of thing, being the traditionalist that he is, but anyway. Kate looks like she's getting left behind quite a lot, and her footwork's pretty clumsy. There's a bit of drama though, and a big finish. Craig manages to sound quite pretentious, saying Kate "lacks confidence" and "didn't commit emotionally to the steps". Arlene says it was "like Anton was whispering sweet nothings in your ear and you weren't listening", and it lacked drama. Bruno calls it "distant and vacant", and wanted more of a performance. Bruce calls Kate and Anton his favourites and wonders whether the judges will "save the breakfast presenter's bacon". Backstage, Tess reminds us again that Kate wanted to impress her chubby, be-mulleted husband. Kate says she can "only get better". The scores are in: 4 from Craig, 5s across the rest of the board, for a disappointing total of 19. Anton looks annoyed, claiming the dance was better than that, and says the judges aren't giving Kate enough credit. Awww. [True, though. - Carrie] Kate begs the viewers to save her again, but I'm not sure her fans will keep on saving her unless she starts earning it.

Dom and Lilia are up next. Bruce refers to the group dance last week, when Dom "played Lilia and Flavia's behinds like tom-toms". he tries to get the band to participate in his joke. It doesn't really work. Since Dom got good marks for his cha-cha-cha in week one, he's realised he has potential and has been working Lilia hard and taking it all very seriously. [Cue rehearsal footage with Lilia bellowing, "SHUT UP!!!!" in his face. - Carrie] They hope that his hard work mixed with his cheeky personality will give their jive the winning formula. Dom asks Lilia if she thinks about dance moves in bed. She looks pretty fed up. They're dancing to a song I don't know, but which I assume is called 'Candyman'. [Yep, by the wonderful Christina Aguilera. - Carrie] For some inexplicable reason it starts with a whistle to call Lilia to his side (part of the song? not sure) [not that I recall - Steve] and gets better from there; the kicks and flicks are all pretty good, but Dom's arms are terrible, so expect arm-Nazi Arlene to pick him up on that. There's also a costume malfunction when one of Dom's braces comes undone. Bruce points out that it's a good thing it was only one, otherwise his trousers might have fallen down and Lilia would be playing on his tom-toms. Arlene calls it a "jolly jape of a jive", but Dom had timing issues and "arms like Andy Pandy", which Bruce says "dates her", although surely you don't have to be that ancient to have heard of Andy Pandy. [And it's probably the only thing that's dated Arlene in years. Thank you, I'll be here all week! Don't forget to tip your waitress! - Steve] Len says their jive was fun but Dom was "flat-footed", and suggests imagining he was standing at a urinal - on his toes. It's not like Len to lower the tone, and he gets a telling-off from Bruce. Bruno says Dom went for it "lock, stock and two smoking barrels", but he doesn't listen to the music. Craig compliments Lilia on her "beautiful choreography" and disagrees with Arlene, saying Dom's arms were "nicely placed". Not sure what he's being so nice about - even I noticed how bad Dom's arms were! Backstage, Lilia thinks it was nonsense and Dom had great hands, but Dom says a couple of moves went wrong and harps on about his braces coming off because Lilia was supposed to pull him up with them. He was pleased with Craig's comments though. For all that, the judges' scores are pretty consistent: 6s from Craig, Arlene and Bruno, 7 from Len, for a total of 25.

Bruce scuttles into view just in time for Tess to throw back to him - oh, the crazy world of live TV! - and then messes up Letitia's introduction by referring to the "Old Vic" instead of the "Queen Vic", but soldiers on with his so-called joke regardless. Letitia is feeling the pressure after her poor rumba last week, and the tango has some tricky steps. She claims to have "aged in fear". Darren says Letitia "needs to be comfortable with herself" and that the only person who can lose the competition for her is herself; he thinks she has the talent to be a contender. Letitia and Darren are tango-ing to Madonna's 'Material Girl', for some reason - it's probably a favourite from Darren's record collection. But where's the story and the drama? The singing is terrible, yet again. Letitia gets most of the steps okay, including a good spin on one leg, but it lacks passion. Over to the judges. Bruno says that Letitia is an actress: she needs to find the character and the dance comes, but she needs to stay in character for the whole dance. Craig says the "energy was amazing" but there was "too much rise and fall" and her hold was wrong. Arlene says their relationship is starting to work, but it's as though they "spent the night having an intellectual discussion about the tango". She calls Letita a "drama queen" and says she's getting there. There's obviously no time for comments from Head Judge Len. Bruce asks rhetorically if "the woman from the Queen Vic will get scores fit for a king". Backstage - blah. Judges' scores: 6 from Craig, 7 from everyone else, for a total of 27. The audience seem to have got their priorities straight and decided that 6 is worthy of booing.

Next up, John and Nicole. Bruce jokes that wearing yellow skin-tight lycra wasn't as embarrassing for John as wearing the Charlton strip. I get the feeling most of the audience aren't big football fans because the joke goes down like a lead balloon. [Are you saying that Strictly and professional football do not in fact have a huge crossover audience? Shocker. - Carrie] [Well, some of the gays who watch Strictly for the dancing probably watch football for the fit men in shorts, but I imagine they're a minority. - Steve] Like Dom and Lilia, John has been working Nicole hard in rehearsals, refusing to have coffee breaks and the like. He even missed the England game to train! Nicole has given him some more difficult moves as a result. John looks to be working up quite a sweat training for the jive, so it's not a surprise that he's dropping the pounds - although he also drops Nicole on her front. Ouch! [Don't worry, sure the silicone will cushion the blow. Allegedly. - Carrie][Maybe that's why she and Matthew divorced; he doesn't seem like a big fan of breasts. - Georgi] John and Nicole are dancing to Jackie Wilson's 'Reet Petite', another jumping rock'n'roll tune. John certainly has the energy needed for the jive and his footwork isn't bad, but he needs to work on his hands. He doesn't drop Nicole at the end of the routine, but nearly grabs her tits. Still, it's her choreography. Arlene describes John's footwork as "tasty" and "rhythmical", then makes some comment I didn't really understand about "sloppy seconds". Len says what he likes about John is that, "You dance like a bloke," says he was "casual and relaxed" and he found that "charming". Bruno says John is "naturally engaging" and his footwork was good, but he hunches over and he needs to watch his hands. Craig says John is "fearless", and that he made a mistake with his arms - "Your top half does its own thing" - but his feet were good. Backstage, there seems to be an impromptu singalong going on. Tess asks inanely whether the fancy footwork John was known for as a footballer helped with the kicks. I imagine doing the jive is just like playing football. The judges' scores are in: 6 from Craig, 7 from the rest, for a total of 27.

Bruce tells us that Willie had bragged to him that he could clear a table in ten minutes; "That's nothing - I can clear a theatre in half that!" Willie was suffering from a lack of confidence in week one, but the positive comments from the judges have buoyed him and he, too, is working his professional partner hard, getting up at 7am to train before going off to his day job. Dennis Taylor pops into rehearsals to check out Willie's tango and seems impressed, calling him a "dark horse". Willie, just don't take any tips from Dennis - I don't think they'll help. Willie seems to be enjoying himself and wants to stay in the competition. Willie and Erin are tango-ing to some kind of traditional tango music. [A fine choice. I hate tangoes and pasos to pop music. - Carrie] Willie is trying to look aloof and commanding but just seems to be gazing into the distance. His footwork is pretty good. The musicality of Erin's choreography is excellent, but there's not much to get excited about. Len says Willie did a good job - "There were no balls where there should be heels" - but his posture isn't great. Bruno describes Willie's posture as "like a polar bear in the Sahara", as though that made any sense. Craig says he was "hunching like a walrus" and needs to "take command". Arlene doesn't say much about Willie's dancing, but tells Erin it was the best-choreographed tango of the evening. Bruce says they're his favourites and they are "off backstage for another break". Willie seems popular with the other competitors, and tempts us with the idea of seeing his samba next week - "These are manboobs worth watching!" Hee. Erin says he'll have great hips too. Back to the judges for their scores: 5 from Craig, 6s from everyone else, for a total of 23.

Alesha and Matthew are up next. Alesha says the competition has brought out the competitive spirit in her, and the jive makes her feel like "a kid in a candy store". She has a lot of energy, so the jive ought to be a good outlet for it. Matthew says Alesha "will try anything" and she's going to throw herself into it. It amuses me how she orders him around in rehearsals, calling him "Cutler". Alesha says she wants to "tear up the dancefloor" and get everyone up and dancing. I think she's been watching 'Dirty Dancing' too much. [I love Alesha. Watching her makes me happy. - Carrie] [Me too! Also, my mum, who I consider to be the quintessential middle England Strictly viewer and therefore a good indicator of who will do well, told me before the show that she really likes 'that Mis-Teeq girl', so Alesha's definitely doing something right. - Steve] Yet another good song choice for the jive - 'Shake Your Tailfeather', made famous by the Blues Brothers - and Alesha looks just fantastic. Her hands are great, her footwork is flawless, and their synchronisation is excellent. Definitely the best dance of the night (although there's one still to come). Bruce says Alesha's dress is lovely, "Pity they didn't have time to finish it." It is pretty miniscule, but good on her that she can compete with the professional ladies on that count. [It looks like it's made from Louisa Lytton's leftovers last year, and is apparently the first-ever hot-pant outfit to be seen on the show. - Carrie] Craig says the dance was fantastic and Alesha's finishes were excellent, but makes some little pernickety point that isn't worth dwelling on. Arlene says she was rocking and rolling; the jive is the dance of youth and she hopes Alesha's dance will get the young people on their feet. And on the phone, presumably, voting. Len describes it in three words: "fun, fast, fantastic". Bruno doesn't get a say, which is a shame because I'm sure he had an incomprehensible metaphor lined up. Backstage, Tess says they were "hot" and "phenomenal", which is a word she has used several times tonight, and Alesha says she had so much fun and that she's "having the time of my life", which just proves the point about 'Dirty Dancing'. Judges' scores: 9s across the board, for the highest total so far this series, 36. [Yay! I was just thinking at this point that we hadn't had a nine all evening and I was hoping Alesha would get one; I was over the moon when she got four of 'em. - Steve]

The final couple to dance is Kelly and Brendan doing the tango. Last week the judges thought their rumba was sizzlingly sexy, but Kelly says it's "so embarrassing" that they're saying that when her fiance is in the room. Doesn't Billy Zane have movies to make or something? [I doubt it. - Steve] Brendan says it's difficult to get better when they did so well last week, but he's being tougher this week, and we see them slapping each other in rehearsals. I hope Billy doesn't take it the wrong way. [They were on It Takes Two on Friday, and apparently Kelly stormed out of rehearsal and Brendan had to chase her down the street! Obviously it wasn't staged or anything, and the fact that photographers were waiting for them was coincidental. - Carrie] Kelly is wearing a stunning red dress and has her acting face on. [Hee! That was exactly what I thought! - Carrie] They're dancing to ABBA's 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)'. Oh, Brendan, and you wonder why people think you're gay. I'm expecting high drama, and they deliver. Kelly does good high kicks and flicks, and slaps Brendan at the end. I bet that was satisfying. It looked as though Brendan messed up his footwork partway through, though, which he admits to and apologises for. Craig says he loved the storytelling, but Kelly has a tendency to overarch her back, which means she loses the body contact. However, it was "thrilling". Arlene says it was "emotional, passionate and dramatic", and seems to have been on the booze again because she says Kelly is "the sort of dancer I want to wrap in cotton wool and preserve you". Len says it was a 9 all the way through, but he penalised Gabby one point earlier for making a mistake, so he has to do the same here. He says Kelly was a 9, but Brendan was a 7.5. Bruno, making up for missing out on Alesha, says, "You're the eighth deadly sin and we're all sinning with you!" Bruce says he can sin on his own, and strays into the danger zone with a "last tango" reference. Backstage, Kelly says she enjoyed slapping Brendan, as one may expect. The final scores are in: 9s from everyone except Len, who gives them 8, for a total of 35.

Whew! Finally, it's the end. Time for a look at the leaderboard: Alesha, Kelly and Gabby are the top three, with Dom, Willie and Kate trailing at the bottom. Recap. Tess says nobody is ready to leave. Who will be the third couple to go? Find out tomorrow, when the filler will be a group dance by the professionals and music from Andrea Bocelli and Katherine Jenkins. To conclude, Bruce makes an unfunny joke about Robin Hood - sort of the tone of the whole show, really. [Which show, Strictly or Robin Hood? - Carrie][Either? - Georgi] Tune in tomorrow for the results! Whoop!

Monday, 15 October 2007

Life's a Beach. Um.

Last night! Our seven sizzling females (well, six plus Kate) [I hope you're not calling Kate a ladyboy. - Steve] danced, and now one of them is going to get kicked off despite the fact all of them are better than the men. Dramatic violins crescendo, cue titles and audience hand-clapping!

We're in London, but you'll notice Alan Dedicoat doesn't claim to be 'live' on Sunday night. Bruce has changed his suit. Tess is wearing something resembling a Roses wrapper. [And what the hell is up with that little flappy bit over what would otherwise be her cleavage? It's not even a crumb catcher; it just looks like the seamstress's hand slipped and she couldn't be bothered to fix it. - Steve] Bruce welcomes us, and promises us drama, tears, glamour and glittering frocks. Nobody laughs. He looks puzzled.

First up, the professionals dancing a routine combining a tango and a jive to the music of Chicago - 'The Cell Block Tango' and the Prologue seguing into 'All That Jazz'. The girls have really, really weird wigs on, which resemble Sally Bowles' black bob in Cabaret, which admittedly is also Fosse, Kander and Ebb, so I won't pick them up on that. [Well, usually in any given production of Chicago there's a couple of chorus girls with that hairdo, so it didn't bother me. I thought the girls looked hot, anyway. Had me questioning my sexuality, albeit briefly - Steve] It's a hideous arrangement of 'All That Jazz', though, which I will call them on, and remind them that should they ever feel the need to arrange the music properly so it makes sense and fits the routine and suits the vocalists' range, they can just give me a call.

We get a recap of yesterday's dances, going from lowest-ranked celeb to highest - Kate, Letitia, Stephanie ("I'm thrilled to have gone out there and pretended to be a dancing person." Hee! And aw, her grandson says he is proud of his grandma. And aw, Craig says she is much, much better than he thought she'd be), Gabby (who by all accounts threw a strop when she didn't get top marks) [wouldn't surprise me in the least - Steve] [And James says, "The middle is the most dangerous place to be," which is clearly bullshit. Imagine how furious he'd be if they had come bottom of the judges' leaderboard. - Georgi], Alesha (complete with caterwauling vocalist), Kelly and Penny (whose husband has an impressive shiner). It's basically interspersed with the judges' comments from yesterday, and the occasional one-liner from backstage. What a load of piffle and filler. Strictly is really letting us down this series.

Len says the standard of dancing from the ladies was the best ever. Bruce agrees with him, like we care what he thinks. Arlene says she thinks this series will wipe the ballroom floor clean, which makes little or no sense. She also has faith in the boys to turn up the heat. Kenny whoops backstage, and glares at his wife.

Tess is in the very red Green Room. [Strictly Slash Watch - Matt and Gethin are standing next to each other again. Awww. OTP! - Steve] Penny was happy, relieved and shocked to be top of the leaderboard. Kelly says she doesn't remember what the judges said. Gabby is seething with clenched teeth in the background. Tess asks Kate how she feels, and Penny pats her knee. Aww. Kate says her decision to dance obviously backfired, but at least she had a crack at it, and beat Fiona Phillips' first-round score of 11.

Claudia previews It Takes Two [Dressed a bit like a particularly glamorous Victorian schoolmarm - Georgi], which this week will feature Westlife, Tess, Len and whoever gets knocked out tonight. So that's something to look forward to.

More random vox-pops - Jan Ravens, the Westlife boys, Billy Zane, Zoe Tyler, mums and dads, and Rod Stewart AGAIN [But at least he apologises for his black eye, although he doesn't explain how he got it - Georgi]. Kate's husband wants to stamp on Craig's foot. [I want to stamp on Kate's husband's foot - didn't she imply yesterday that he doesn't appreciate her, the cad? Also: Ben Miller! I love him. - Steve]

Bruce says we don't want the boys to rest on their laurels, so they're going to show their group merengue again. Why, for Pete's sake? It sucked earlier, and it sucks now, so why do we have to watch it for a second time? [Wouldn't it make more sense just to show the group dance on the Sunday show, so it's not a complete waste of our viewing time? - Georgi]

Footage of training, and Stephanie pwning Vincent. He says, "She looks like someone who can sort me out." Aww. James is complaining that Gabby doesn't understand that the man has to be in control. Kate squawks at Anton not to shout at her, like Anton would ever shout at anyone. Kelly and Brendan bicker about who should run after whom in the routine. Brendan says, "I'm the choreographer." Kelly replies, "I'm the celebrity." Which: ugh. I love her, but that's just really wrong.

Whoop! There's a special routine from Westlife, who are performing their song Home. [Well, not so much theirs as it is Michael Bublé's. Jesus, enough with the covers already, you bastards. You're all as rich as Croesus by now; just retire and give us all a fucking break. - Steve] They don't have stools, so I'm presuming there's no key change, therefore I'm not interested [Which I also thought. However, more fool you - there's no such thing as a Westlife song without a key change. - Georgi]. Fast-forwarding this. Sorry. James and Ola are dancing, and do a lovely lift at the end. Ola is wearing less than Lilia usually does. I think they may compete to wear the least throughout this series. It'll be three milk-bottle tops by the end of the run. [If only any heterosexual men watched this series, that would be something for them to look forward to. - Georgi]

Nobody wants to leave the show. Penny would be "shattered and devastated"; Kate feels she hasn't had a chance to do her best yet, which is good, seeing as she can't stand up; Stephanie wants to stay in for her grandson's sake [I want her to stay in so I can make SeaQuest DSV references - Georgi]; the rest all mutter similar nonsensical waffle. Blah blah blah.

Bruce and Tess announce the couples that are through to next week - Penny and Ian; Alesha and Matt; Kelly and Brendan; Gabby and James; Kate and Anton. Sympathy vote, anyone? I love Anton, and I think he's been royally screwed over more than once with his partners, but there is no way on earth that Kate deserved to stay in over anyone else. [On the other hand, Kate must stay in until at least week four or otherwise Fiona Phillips will have something to feel superior about, and I'm not having that. - Steve]

So Letitia and Darren and Stephanie and Vincent have to dance off. Len advises Stephanie and Vincent to dance just as they did before, and maintain their elegance, with a note to Stephanie to allow Vincent to lead rather than overwhelming him; he tells Letitia to act the dance - "Don't think that you're dancing with Darren, imagine you're dancing with me!" [Ugh. - Georgi]

So they both dance again. And really, bitches, why can't the band's vocalists sing in tune? It makes my ears hurt. Stephanie is all Hollywood shiny and glam; Letitia, still in her horrible dress, emotes her way through the routine. [Stephanie is so checked out here - she clearly doesn't give a toss if she's there next week or not. - Steve]

It's over to the judges. I love the look Len gets on his face when Tess announces that in the event of a tie, he has the casting vote. [I'm not convinced that there's any point in the other judges. It's always going to be down to Head Judge Len. - Georgi] Craig says that he saw real improvement in Letitia and Darren; Arlene chooses Stephanie and Vincent to stay, and Vincent kisses Stephanie's shoulder, although she looks rather bored by the whole affair; Bruno says neither couple should have been in the bottom two, but Letitia and Darren were better in the dance-off; Len says that both couples up their game (Bruce interjects his agreement), but chooses Letitia and Darren to progress in the competition.

Stephanie looks relieved, saying, "It's been nothing but awful. I've adored watching this hard work with a cup of tea in my hand. I'm so grateful they've put me out of my misery." Tess tells us that Stephanie is outrageous behind the scenes, which: shocker. I've no doubt that Stephanie has found it hard work, and doesn't give a flying one either way whether she stays in or not, but this show will be poorer without her. [Word. And a classy exit from her, i thought. It's not easy to say "thank fuck for that, I hated every minute" and still sound gracious, but somehow she pulled it off. - Steve]

Next week - it's the mixed competition, with couples performing either a jive or a tango. I predict the bottom two will comprise two men. That's if the Strictly producers don't bugger around with the rules again. [There are rules? - Georgi]

Sunday, 14 October 2007


Female celebrities' first dance: 13th October 2007

So, we got the men out of the way last week and they were, for the most part, unspectacular. But we all know that the real competition this year will be fought amongst the women and one of them will, perhaps unfairly, be going home tomorrow. But who? Let's find out...

Tess recaps last week for us, which would be lovely had I not already done that. Brian and Karen were in the bottom two with Kenny and Ola, with Brian and Karen going home. Tess points out that we are indeed "live", which tomorrow we shall not be, and the BBC wants you to remember that so it doesn't have to keep apologising for a small element of artifice, especially given that television as a medium is almost entirely artifice and everyone who gets their panties in a wad about being ZOMG MISLED by broadcasters needs to grow a pair already, especially if what you're wailing about is Strictly Come Dancing or the name of the bloody Blue Peter cat. Bigger picture, people, yes? [Someone actually wrote into Points of View (which - is that still on? I thought it finished in about 1987) to ask how Kenny could be in the dance-off at 7.30 and yet be in Paris 15 minutes later for the rugby, which - duh. Mind you, an irate viewer also complained about factual accuracy in Robin Hood, which - DUH. The viewing public deserve to be misled if you ask me. - Georgi]

Titles! I fucking love the titles to this show so much. They're such an event. They fill me with excitement in a way that the titles to The X Factor should do, and yet inevitably do not. I even chair-dance to the music [A la Minelli in Cabaret? - Georgi], that's how tragic I am. Order of celebrities' appearance on the credits, since I missed it last week, in case anyone's interested: Penny, Stephanie, Matt, Kenny. Gabby, Gethin, Alesha, John, Kate, Willie, Brian, Dominic, Kelly, Letitia (bless you! Sorry, couldn't resist reviving one of my favourite old Trevor and Simon gags [I miss Trevor and Simon. - Carrie]).

Tess's dress is mildly more successful this week, although it still makes her look like such a frump. Come on, costumers: Tess Daly is an attractive woman. It cannot be that hard to find clothes that look good on her. [Perhaps they just don't like her? - Carrie.][Understandably. - Georgi] It's ladies' night, and there's a predictable joke wherein Bruce lists all the attractive women in the studio and "forgets" about Tess. [Didn't he do the same sodding gag last year? And the year before? - Carrie.] Told you you needed better dresses, Tess. The couples are introduced, in the same order as last week, I believe, so no need for me to list them again. [The horn player in the band this year keeps missing the high notes. - Carrie.] I will mention that Erin has one hell of a six-pack. DAMN. Why doesn't my stomach look like that? Alesha's legs appear to run right up to her ears in her dress tonight, and her boobs are threatening to escape. Flavia is wearing a hot pink choker, the same width as your hand. It's an interesting look. Penny has the perma-grin of terror plastered to her face. [And Brendan chooses not to clap like a normal person, but instead pats Kelly's hips. - Carrie.]

Tonight the ladies will either be performing a quickstep or a rumba. The guys will also be doing a merengue later as their group number, although Bruce and Tess do not mention this specifically. I am psychic, however, so I know.

Stephanie and Vincent are up first. I love Stephanie so much. [Me too! - Carrie.] Her theme music is Shirley Bassey's ill-advised cover of 'Get The Party Started', and her first words in her VT are "I am an absolute diva." In the best possible sense, might I add. She talks about Ava Gardner teaching her to keep her chin up on camera, for no reason other than to namedrop Ava Gardner as far as I can tell, but what the hey. Clip of Stephanie having a catfight with Joan Collins on Dynasty. Yay! She calls Strictly "enormous fun" and likens it to Hollywood. Vincent is honoured to dance with "such a great personality". In rehearsals, he is kind of hilariously creepy: "Any questions so far? My phone number?" Stephanie points out that she'd eat him for breakfast, a fact of which I think we were all aware. [Vincent admitted on It Takes Two this week that he has met his match. LULZ! - Carrie.] They're doing a quickstep to KT Tunstall's 'Suddenly I See', and it looks pretty good. There do appear to be a few bits where Stephanie isn't quite keeping up and Vincent is bodily hurling her around to stop her falling behind, but on the whole I like it. Her fixed grin of concentration is hilarious. Bruce calls Vincent "Simone", which is kind of funny.

Judges. [I'm glad we're all choosing to overlook Bruce's feeble gags introducing them. - Carrie.] Len opens, as always, telling us what we're looking for in the dance: the key is hold, posture and movement, apparently. [Doesn't that apply to pretty much every dance? You see why he's the Head Judge. - Georgi] He thinks that by and large Stephanie delivered. He thinks her posture needs work, and her hold is occasionally off, but for the first one out she was great, and she looks stunning, of course. Bruno loves her Hollywood glamour, but tells her she needs to be lighter on her feet. Stephanie has this hilarious look on her face, as if she's thinking how easily she can have him killed or something. Craig calls it "a very respectable attempt", calling her on her posture and body contact [Vincent says it was his fault. Aw. - Carrie]. Arlene compliments the power of Stephanie's megawatt smile [having said "Once an actress, always an actress", as if Stephanie has somehow stopped being an actress at any point - Carrie.] , but echoes Bruno's call for Stephanie to be lighter on her feet. Bruce tells her he's looking at her in a different light. "Because of my scattered chasses?" asks Stephanie, and something in the way she delivers that is utterly brilliant. I couldn't recreate it even if I tried. Backstage with Tess: Stephanie says that her feet were not co-operating with her head and commiserates Vincent for having to drag her around the dancefloor. She calls the judges' comments "incredibly kind". The scores are in: sixes all round for a total of 24. Tess asks if Stephanie's happy with that. "I can't really add up, but I'm sure it's fine," Stephanie replies. I am so voting for her.

Next are Letitia (bless you!) and Darren. Letitia's theme music is 'These Boots Are Made For Walking'. She's very orange. She talks about EastEnders, obviously, and says that she's hoping to come across quite demurely on the dancefloor. She claims to feel "naked" on this show, but gives that line a sort of high-camp delivery that I don't think we're meant to take especially seriously. Darren says the key is matching commitment with quality, and that EastEnders actors know all about that. He mentions her insecurity, and in rehearsals Letitia frets about how pretty the other girls are. Awww. [I love Letitia a bit. I'm slightly concerned about the stylists this season. It's not like she's a monumental hefty cow or anything; I'd put her at a size 14 bearing in mind the camera adds ten pounds, and anyway she has absolutely spectacular legs. However, the dresses they're sticking her in make her look like a moose. Use some sense, stylists, please - Carrie.] They have a little eskimo kiss backstage before taking to the floor to rumba to 'How Deep Is Your Love?' She's...a little awkward, I have to say. I don't think Letitia's one of life's natural dancers, but she's giving it a good go. Her leg lifts in particular look quite awkward, but she looks like she's having quite a lot of fun, which is half the battle, no? Judges. Len says that the rumba is a romantic dance, with gorgeous hip action. He says that "by and large" Letitia did well; she needs to push through the balls of her feet to get more hip action. Letitia says, sounding remarkably like Dame Babs Windsor, that she thinks someone's Vaselined her shoes. Hee. Bruno says that the woman needs to captivate the man in the rumba, and that this was "the rumba with the handbrake on" - too timid, and not enough hip action. Craig calls it "clean and clinical; really cold". He tells her not to let her knee drop in her leg bends. Arlene's big on the hip action, of course, and didn't enjoy the interplay, saying that Letitia and Darren need to go for a night out together. [Bruce asks Arlene if she can suggest any venues for the night out. Hee! Then he thanks Letitia for being on the show. Oh, nicely done, Bruce. This is where we see the value of his 185 years in showbusiness. - Carrie.]

Backstage with Tess: Darren says that this was their best performance of that dance. Letitia promises to take the judges' comments on board [Drink! - Georgi] if she's back next week. Mixed scores for Letitia: sixes from Arlene and Bruno, a seven from Len (bit extravagant, I think) and a four from Craig [very, very harsh - Carrie], for a total of 23.

Kate and Anton are next. Kate was on crutches last week, of course, so this should be interesting. Kate's theme music is 'Angel of the Morning', heh. Kate says that her life is very dull, so she's enjoying the sequins and the sparkle. All she wants for the show is for her husband to consider her a yummy mummy, just for a minute. Aww. [Poor Kate. I judge her husband. - Carrie.] Anton's VT is weird; he talks about always wanting to be famous, to be the name people come up with when people think of a famous dancer, and he wants to make the final. Talk of the injury: Kate is determined to get through it, and keeps practising. Anton wears a suit ALL THE TIME. They're dancing a quickstep to 'Love Machine' by Girls Aloud. [Why, musical director? Why, why, why? Because the kIdZ won't watch Strictly unless they use contemporary music? Like they're watching anyway. They're out setting fire to your car, sucker. But I digress... dances with traditionally suitable music are nearly always better. - Georgi] I love this song, and I love Girls Aloud, but it's a really bad idea for this show - because the tempo's all over the place, there are too many points where Kate and Anton are just standing there waiting for the next phrase of music to start so they can do the next step of their dance [or for Kate to rest her knackered feet - Carrie]. It's frustrating to watch. I think Kate's doing pretty well under the circumstances, although she almost falls over about fifteen seconds in and Anton has to pull her back up. Her footwork on the on-the-spot quicksteps is not good, I have to say. She looks very relieved when it's all over. [Bruce welcomes Kate to the show, and greets Anton, and then they do a reasonably amusing little routine. Bruce says he wishes that other people worked with him like Anton does. Chuckle - Carrie.][Because Anton is after your job, Brucie! - Georgi]

Judges. Craig says that there's a positive to this, that she's up and dancing; the downside is that it was "as heavy as lead". Unsteady on the turns, clawed left-hand [which he pointed out on Wednesday's It Takes Two, so if she had any sense she'd have sorted that out, because that's nothing to do with having sore feet - Carrie], flat-footed...he declines to go on, but says that he's glad she came and had a go. Which is sort of patronising, but at the same time, she does deserve a lot of respect for staying in when she must be in quite a lot of pain, I would think. Arlene: "What is it with the GMTV presenters? You don't love rhythm - is it all that sitting on the couch?" I think she meant for that to be a harmless throwaway gag, but it actually came off rather nastily, and she is booed. Ooops. And Arlene, please do not invoke the spirit of Flat-Footed Fuckwit Fiona Phillips. We're all trying to forget about her. Arlene, clearly unable to read a room, continues: "Anton, bless you. You're like the people who sit at home and never win premium bonds, aren't you?" Somebody is so going to smack Arlene one of these days, I just know it. [Please let it be Lilia. Or Stephanie. Or me - Carrie.] [In fact, can we all take a turn? - Georgi] Anton takes it on the chin, of course, because he's essentially a decent chap [And because he has such a big chin - Georgi]. Anton points out that it would've been so easy for Kate to drop out, and that it took a lot for her to carry on. [I love Anton. Very gentlemanly and chivalrous - Carrie.] Len says it was a shame Kate had to dance a quickstep because it's so demanding on the feet: "brave attempt, well done". Bruno says it's a shame her feet went on strike. Bruce, to Bruno: "I'll see to your tendons later." Expect Bruno on crutches next week, ladies and gents.

Backstage (I need to think of a better name for it than "backstage" - I'll work on that for next week, so in the meantime since the men are back here for the whole show I shall refer to it as the House of Tess-tosterone [AHAHAHA! - Carrie]): Kate says that Anton has been so fantastic about the whole thing, and hopes she can do better for him. Anton: "Any time you want to join in the choreography, that would be lovely. You can decide what we do, I don't mind." Hee! I love Anton. Kate says she enjoyed being here, though she thinks there's a chance she may not be back next week. Scores: Craig gives a two, Arlene gives a four ("I may be unkind, but I'm not cruel!"), Len a five and Bruno a four. Len's is the only score not to be followed by booing. Total of 15 out of 40. Anton, through clenched teeth: "Tell me that was more than Fiona, for Gawd's sake." HAHAHA! I love how Fiona Phillips is this show's failsafe punchline. It's no less than she deserves. God, I loathe Fiona Phillips. Tess, looking unsure: "I think so, yes. Marginally more." A quick consultation of Wikipedia reveals that Fiona's scores for the four weeks she was in (four! Did the British public collectively blaze a massive doobie in series three? Holy fuck) were 11, 13, 16 and 20, the 13 being for quickstep/rumba week, so Anton (and indeed Kate) can sleep soundly tonight. Kate: "I can't do any worse! At least if I come back next week it'll be better, surely?" Let's hope so.

Tess talks to the male celebrities: she asks John who was best, and he sits squarely on the fence. [Typical bloody sportsmen. It's that media training - Carrie.] Tess asks Gethin if his confidence was knocked last week; somebody with spangly sleeves (like that narrows it down) pats him on the shoulder reassuringly, because any opportunity to touch Gethin Jones should be taken full advantage of. By process of elimination (it's clearly one of the male celebrities because the male dancers are not wearing white spangly shirts at least), it must be either Matt or Kenny, since Dominic, John and Willie are all on camera at this point. I'm going with Matt, for reasons which will become clear later. Gethin says it's hard when you give it your all and the judges are harsh, pointing out Craig only giving him a four and adding that he got the same score as Letitia. He says that when he went home Camilla texted him and said that the judges had a point, so they've been working on it in training next week and hope to be better next week.

After a reminder of numbers, it's time for Alesha and Matthew. It's the Mis-Teeq lady! She's coming back strong! I love that Alesha's VT lists her profession as "MC and Singer Songwriter" - like this show's target audience has any idea what an MC is in that context. Alesha's theme is, of course, 'Scandalous'. She talks about being in Mis-Teeq [using the word "urban" in an ironic context, yay! - Carrie], does a bit of MCing and cackles [Which she does a lot. On It Takes Two this week, Matthew said he thought her laugh was going to become famous, which may be true. It varies from a sort of warthog snuffle to full-on Wicked Witch - Georgi]. She points out that her dancing in Mis-Teeq was more gyrating than anything, and says that while she'd prefer not to use the word "poor", her mum couldn't send her to stage school or anything so this is her crash course in professional dancing. Matthew says that the Strictly Come Dancing trophy is the one thing missing from his professional accolades. He mentions Alesha's energy (cut to Alesha bellowing "oy oy!" and cackling) and says that his challenge is to channel it. Many shots of Alesha cackling in rehearsals. Alesha: "I like to narrate. I could become a narrator!" Hee. [In Joseph! Opposite West End Leading Man Lee Mead! That would be awesome! - Carrie.] Alesha and Matthew are dancing the rumba to Christina Aguilera's 'Hurt'. And I don't know what's up with the woman singing in the band this week, but her vocals have been ropey all night and this is by far the most noticeable example: she's not up to this song and there are some horrid, scratchy, tuneless notes flying around. It could put Matthew and Alesha at a disadvantage, although they seem sufficiently caught up in the moment not to notice it. This is the best routine of the night so far, for me. The choreography is adventurous and Alesha seems up to the task. They have great chemistry too; Gethin should be taking notes at this point if he wants to get over his intimacy issues. [Ah, but Alesha is performing with the added incentive of showing her ex-husband WHO IS A BASTARD that she is amazing. I want to know why Nicole and Matt split up. Any ideas, anyone? Anyone at all? - Carrie.] And just a reminder, Gethin, if you need some help working through those when Camilla's not available, call me! Ahem. Great performance from these two, for my money. Alesha wipes some of her lipstick off Matthew's face. [They stand in front of the panel holding hands, fingers knitted together, very cutely - Carrie.]

Bruno says she had "the seducing power of Salome; you could have Len Goodman's head!" Disturbing thought for all of us there, I feel. He calls it "sexy, raunchy, romantic" and compliments her spins and her hip movements. Craig calls it "absolutely gorgeous - very sexy without being lascivious". He tells her to watch her "funky" right hand. Arlene calls her a "gorgeous gazelle" and loved the interplay, but tells Alesha to watch her linking steps - her movement is great when she's in a position, but her going in and out is a little clumsy. Len calls her a contender, and leaves it at that. In the House of Tess-tosterone, Alesha says she enjoyed it so much that she wants to do it again, until she realises a few seconds later that for her to do it again would mean she'd be in tonight's/tomorrow's danceoff, and quickly changes her mind. Hee. Scores: eight from Craig, seven from Arlene, and eights from Len and Bruno for a total of 31. That's a bloody good score for a first dance.

Time for Penny and Ian, who are tall. Penny's theme is, predictably, 'Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?' [Way to boost Rod's PRS income, show - Carrie.] She says Rod is extremely supportive, and an amazing dancer. Ian's never had a dance partner to match him in height before. [What about Zoe Ball? She was hardly petite - Carrie.] They started training at Penny's house in LA, and now they're in grotty old Britain [But at least they won't have jetlag - Georgi]. Penny's father sits in on the training, which is quite funny. Penny's father doesn't look much older than Rod. [He's probably not, to be fair - Carrie.] Penny doesn't want to let her family down. Penny and Ian are dancing the quickstep to Bobby Darin's 'I'm Sitting On Top of the World'. They're very good - Penny's light on her feet, although I wish she'd relax her grin a little bit; it's kind of terrifying. But on the whole it's a very pleasant routine to watch, I think. Arlene babbles incoherently [that'd be the vodka - Carrie], but the gist is that she loved it. Len loved it and thought it was a great first impression. Bruno compliments her elegance [and calls her the spirit of ecstasy, I think - Carrie][Is he accusing her of being on drugs? That would explain the manic grin - Georgi]. Craig thought the timing was excellent, but the chasses were clumsy. House of Tess-tosterone: Tess says that the routine looked complicated, but Penny says she was loving it. Scores are in: there's a balls up with the scores on screen because Penny gets eights from everyone except Bruno, who gives her nine, but the score on screen shows a nine from Len and then fails to calculate a total. Live TV, eh? Anyway, her total is 33, if I've done my sums right. Tess compliments Penny on the first nine of the competition.

Kelly and Brendan next. I don't recognise Kelly's theme music, but it involves the word "foxy" quite a lot. [Jimi Hendrix's Foxy Lady! - Carrie.] She refers to The Big Breakfast as the "funnest" job she's ever had, which is presumably because she was presenting it rather than watching it. Sorry Kelly, but you were no DVO. She wants to prove there's more to her than a smile and boobs. [To be fair, she does have a nice smile, and nice boobs. There are worse things - Carrie.] Brendan says he's having a hard time keeping his eyes up, but Billy Zane's had a word in his ear, so he'll be behaving. In rehearsals, Kelly says it's weird to have a strange man pressed up against you. I rather like that, personally. [Kelly calls Brendan her little performing monkey, and says she feels like she's in Dirty Dancing. Brendan says, "It's a shame I don't look like Johnny, huh?" Aww - Carrie.] They're dancing the rumba to 'She's Like The Wind', which, I'm sorry, but I think that's too cheesy even for this show. All songs from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack should be banned. It's just...no. [Not banned altogether from the world, surely? Anyway, at least the woman vocalist doesn't get to sing this - Carrie.][Brendan would throw his toys out of the pram if Dirty Dancing was banned. This is the man, lest we forget, who did the Time of my Life dance in the final of season 1. - Georgi] The routine, however, is pretty good. Kelly's managing not to sing along this week. [She does however keep smiling, which is not good. Intensity, that's what a rumba needs. Much as I like her, she is going to have a problem with acting during her routines - Carrie.][Although I thought she was supposed to be an actress now? - Georgi] Again, they have great chemistry together and the routine makes great viewing. I...can't really write about dancing, as you may have noticed. Bruno calls it "luscious" and "mouthwatering". He tells Kelly to watch her arms and not to waft them about. Craig calls it the dance of lust and compliments Kelly on her recovery when her dress got caught, which I have to admit totally escaped my notice. Arlene loves Kelly for her feet and says that she goes through her feet beautifully. Len is surprised the smoke detectors didn't go off [But with the recent budget cuts at the Beeb, that's probably just because they have no batteries - Georgi]; he thinks Kelly is a really good dancer but just needs a few refinements. Kelly seems quite chuffed with her feedback. House of Tess-tosterone: Kelly's favourite film is Dirty Dancing, [of course it is. She's 27. All women of a certain age love Dirty Dancing. Isn't that right, Georgi? - Carrie]["I carried a watermelon?!?!!!!!111!!! ZOMGLULZ!" - Georgi] and she's now living the dream. More talk of the dress in the heel. That's about it. Eights from everyone except Arlene, who awards a nine, for another total of 33. Kelly is flabbergasted. [Bless her. She seems like such a sweet girl - Carrie.]

Finally, Gabby and James. Gabby's enjoying the fabulous dresses and the hair and makeup of Strictly, which you presumably don't get much of in football, unless you're Cristiano Ronaldo. (Rimshot!) More blather about the husband and wife competition, which makes me hope Kenny gets booted next week so we can knock all that on the head. James is kind of assholish in his VT, reminding us that he has a temper (O RLY?) but thinks we'll see a different side to him this year because he has a partner who's working harder. And I think the fact that he apparently puts his issues with Georgina [the fat bitch! - Carrie] down to a lack of effort on her part speaks volumes on the sort of person he is. Sorry: not a James fan, I'm afraid. [Well, Ola likes him, and I think Ola is great, so I think there must be some hidden qualities, and he plays up the wanker factor - Carrie.][Maybe Ola just likes bad boys. - Georgi] In rehearsals, things seem to be going well, and Gabby appears to be wearing the trousers. [Gabby has worked him so hard, he has lost a stone. Hee! The fat bastard! - Carrie.] Kenny and Ola pop in to spy on them again. Gabby and James are dancing the quickstep to a song that I've never heard, but which the Strictly website reliably informs me is 'Things' by Robbie Williams. [Which was a sodding cover! Bobby Darin did it! So did Showaddywaddy! I don't know who did it first, though - Carrie.] There's some very elaborate choreography on display here, and I think Gabby's doing very well. It all looks very clean and accurate, anyway. Len says she coped very well - her hold and posture were fine, but her chasses were too skippy. Bruno agrees, and tells Gabby she needs to relax a bit more and release between her shoulder blades, but she did well. (James comes to Gabby's defence here and Len quips: "Gabby and Gobby", which: hee!) Craig calls it "absolutely fantastic" and admires her confidence out of hold. Arlene mixes her metaphors again, saying that the quickstep should be "dancing over hot coals" and this was "coals to Newcastle via Leeds". Oh, Arlene. Please at least try to make sense. Anyway, overall she found it good. In the House of Tess-tosterone, Gabby says that she enjoyed it, although if she could do it again she'd fix a few things, and will take the criticism on board [Drink! - Georgi]. Kenny throws his two penn'orth in and calls her brilliant. Scores on the doors: eight from Craig, seven from everyone else, 29 overall. Gabby looks disappointed. James said they did a lot better in practice, that perhaps nerves played a factor, and that next week they'll kick all kinds of ass, or something.

Scoreboard: Tess apologises for the incorrect graphic during Len's score for Penny and Ian, lest there are claims of ZOMG TELEVISION MISLEADS!!!!11111!!!

The men are now to do the merengue. Gethin thinks the girls set a benchmark last week; John thinks the boys will be much better. Dominic grouses about all the mucking about amongst the men. Willie says he's not funky. The choreographer thinks it will be hit or miss whether they get it right on the night. Matt and Gethin are interviewed together, and Matt is kind of standing unnecessarily close. I think Matt has a little crush on Gethin (which is why I think the shoulder-pat from earlier was him). Matt/Gethin OTP! That would be so hot. [I think Steve is going to set up a Strictly slash blog, readers - Carrie.] [Is that...not what we're doing here? I'm so confused. - Steve]

The men dance. It's...interesting. There are some nice moves. Matt seems to have improved a lot since last week. [Willie looks much better than I thought he would - Carrie.][I thought Willie looked pretty awkward actually; I can see him having trouble with the Latin dances. - Georgi] There's a bit where they all do synchronised head turns and Kenny's about two beats behind everyone else. [Bless him, he's counting away to himself, but he still can't find the beat - Carrie.] Dom takes advantage of the opportunity to smack Lilia's and Flavia's bottoms [Which was, like, totally not choreographed - Georgi]. The music segues into 'I Want You Back' and it all gets very skippy. [John Barnes appears to think he is a long-lost Jackson brother, which is good - Carrie.][Racialist! - Georgi] There's an awesome sequence of Gethin sliding along the floor with a massive grin on his face. He's so pretty. Sigh. This whole dance is very odd. I think the girls shouldn't be having too many sleepless nights over it. [It looks like the choreography had to be dumbed down a lot. Unsurprisingly. Also, what's with the captions for Ola and James this week? They are spelling their last name 'Jordon' rather than 'Jordan', as it has been previously - Carrie.][Or! the caption monkeys are spelling it wrong/spelled it wrong last year. - Georgi] Gethin still needs a bit of work, but he's throwing himself into it. There's an awesome move right at the end where Gethin picks Camilla up off the floor and she sails through the air and lands on his back. I wish I could do that. Not necessarily with Gethin (although I wouldn't say no), just in general.

At the end, Bruce is all "WTF?" Len tells the men that the girls have laid down the gauntlet, and that they all have to fire on all cylinders next week. Note how he doesn't comment on the merengue. Bruno says it was more like a blancmange, [and that it looked like they'd been rehearsing by text - Carrie] and tells them they have to raise their game. Craig thinks Bruno was being harsh and thinks Matt had some good moments. He adds that Willie's hips are a bit "Lesley Garrett", which I assume refers to some kind of running gag from when she was on the show, though I couldn't explain it to you. The others all start chanting "go Willie! Go Willie!" [Hee! Bruce and the judges look confused - Carrie.] Arlene tells the boys to be afraid, and basically tells Kenny he's out of his depth.

Next week it's head to head for the first time. Woo! Performance recap: Stephanie being fabulous. Letitia being a tad hesitant. Kate looking slightly crazy. Alesha doing some lovely spins to some horrid music. Penny making it look effortless. Kelly definitely not being put in a corner. Gabby kicking her feet between James's legs, making me hope that she mistimes it and hits him in the shins.

Results tomorrow - who's going home? I don't want any of the women to go, annoyingly. But one of them must!