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.