Saturday, 22 December 2007

The final - liveblog

Good evening, everybody, and welcome to the Strictly Come Dancing final. The BBC in their wisdom have decided to air both shows tonight, so by 10pm we'll know who the champion is - Alesha Dixon or Matt Di Angelo. [I couldn't have waited a whole day to find out anyway - my nerves were shot to pieces by about 7.00. - Steve] The SCB team have made a considered decision, and we're firmly Team Alesha, so there may be a hint of bias in our coverage, though we'll be valiantly trying to remain as impartial as possible. Though we may end up as impartial as Sharon Osbourne on The X-Factor.

Tonight! It's the Grand Final! Three months ago, 14 celebrities set out on an adventure they will NEVER FORGET! It's been the most exciting series of Strictly EVER! It comes down to TONIGHT! Who will win? TITLES!

We're live from London, kids, and here are Bruce and Tess. Surely the most eagerly anticipated sartorial choice of the week - and she doesn't let us down. It's a hideous mustard-gold satin concoction, with a nasty gold belt. [I keep expecting the credits to read "Tess Daly's wardrobe provided by Nestlé." - Steve] Thanks, Tess! Next year, get yourself a dresser who doesn't hate you.

Tonight, Bruce is going to sing for us. Billy Zane applauds. Bruce does a Ronnie Corbett impression. Head Judge Len applauds. Bored now, crack on with it.

And they do. Tonight, both couples will be performing five - count 'em, FIVE - dances! VOTE ALESHA - 0901 121 30 11! Matt and Flavia are out first, followed by Team Mattesha, who bop along to the intro music as usual. They are the cutest. Alesha looks like a Christmas fairy. Bruce can't believe that Kate and Anton didn't get to the final. Poor Kate, you'd think they'd have tired of teasing her by now. [Poor Kate. Kenny Logan was no better, why does he never get this much abuse? - Steve]

Matt and Flavia are up first. Bruce comments on Matt's hairy chest, and says the words "sexual frenzy" on BBC One BEFORE 6PM. What has the world come to? [OMG, you said "come" before the watershed! Dirty! - Steve] Matt VTs that he is hoping that Arlene will stop messing him around now that he's the only man left in the competition. Bloody hell, this VT is going on for ages, and I really don't find Matt and Flavia very enthralling.

Anyway, time for the dance - their American smooth to For Once In My Life, in which Flavia wears a horrible mint-green culotte-dress, and also possibly a hair-piece. The crowd go wild. Me? Not so much. Nice lifts, though. And good choice of music, because at least the singers knew the tune.

Bruce distributes Christmas gifts - a blindfold to Bruno, headphones to Head Judge Len, a gag for Arlene (because they are the WISE MONKEYS), and a sack over Craig's head. Harsh. Get on with the blinkin' scoring already.

Head Judge Len congratulates Matt on making it to the final, says many nice things, says he won't worry about the mistakes, a great start to the show. BLAH BLAH BLAH. Bruno says Matt had nerves here and there, but overall it was a good job. Bruce interjects that they have to do FIVE DANCES OMGZ?!!!!11. Craig makes a few light criticisms about footwork and gets booed for his trouble. Arlene says, "From the waist up, you were smoother than our own Head Judge Len Goodman", and from the waist down it wasn't all that. BOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Tess talks to Matt and Flavia. Burble burble. Scores - Craig 9, Arlene 9, Len 9, Bruno 9. Whoop whoop.

We're reminded to vote. Thanks, Tess.

Time for Alesha and Matthew's first dance of the evening. Rubbish gag from Bruce, so let's move on to a VT about Mattesha's story of the ballroom. We see their rehearsals, with Alesha's nans telling her off for not taking the foxtrot seriously. Hehehe. We also get a recap of Alesha's song about how much she loves the Viennese waltz, and Elaine Paige enthusing about being given the opportunity to hear her most famous song massacred by the Strictly singers.

They take to the floor, and despite the aural horror, and the stupid chiffony bits hanging off Alesha's wrists, it's still elegant. OH SERIOUSLY MY EARS, MY EARS! Craig admires the tidied-up footwork, and says he found it flawless. Arlene wheels out her first alliteration of the evening - "Alesha - absolutely amazing!" Head Judge Len slags Alesha off roundly. Tosspot. Scores - Craig 10, Arlene 10, Len 9, Bruno 10. Len SO wants Matt to win. [I'm not sure what happened to Len here. He's turned a blind eye to technical mistakes so often in the past, and he really was quite sharp in the way he told Alesha where she'd gone wrong. And I'm pissed now, because Alesha deserved 40/40 for that Waltz, dammit. - Steve]

Bruce sings a version of 12 Days of Christmas. It's shit. More filler, a week-by-week recap, but you know what happened, and if you don't, read the archive SCB posts. I'm going to have a rest.

Right, time for some proper action again. The voted-off celebs and their partners are back. WHOOP! Brian and Karen with their Mafia dance, which is still rubbish [I think it was worse than I remembered - Steve]; Stephanie and Vincent with their quickstep; Willie and Erin, with a new light-brown hair colouring, with their waltz, which is still pretty good (holy fuck, the singers are SO BAD); jiving Gabby and James, who shout, "IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN US" the whole way through their routine; Dom and Lilia cha-cha-chaing, with Lilia smiling through gritted teeth; and Penny and Ian's Sixties samba, despite BEING TALL.

Reality-TV-audience whore David Walliams is sitting next to Bruce. Gabby talks to Bruce about BEING HAPPY TO BE BACK TO WHERE SHE SHOULDN'T HAVE LEFT IN THE FIRST PLACE OMGZ IT WAS SO UNFAIR. [I really do want to like Gabby, but she always comes across as so entirely humourless when she "jokes" about how soon she went out, and it always makes her sound so bitter. She did go out too soon, yes, but nobody likes a sore loser. - Steve] Bruce asks La Beacham if she has been practising her dancing. She hasn't. Willie broke his foot in November, and is dosed up on drugs purely to dance with Erin. Bless.

Back to the competition, and it's the Latin round. Matt and Flavia are first again. And we have another bloody VT to sit through - the story of their Latin journey. He's made a lot of mistakes in his Latin routines, hasn't he? Anyway, they're performing their FAMOUS SALSA tonight, and I'm sure he'll be picking up top marks for this. Ooh, Flavia's heel just slipped when they were posing. Never mind. Matt's brothers jump up on their feet to cheer.

Craig admires the energy of the dance; Arlene wheels out "sensational shimmy", and then gets tongue-tied, possibly through vodka; Len says, "That was just a gnat's scrotum better than the last time"; Bruno enthuses in incoherent fashion. Scores - Craig 9, Arlene 10, Len 10, Bruno 10.

Tess urges us to vote. AGAIN. Alesha - 0901 121 30 11.

Alesha and Matt do their Latin journey VT. Matt says that Alesha found raunch easy. Heh. We see the week when Alesha was sad, and Matt was very cute at looking after her. We see their paso rehearsals, with Alesha shouting, "COME TO ME - NOW!" in an acting fashion, and then their entirely improvised live performance.

Anyway, they're doing their cha-cha to Crazy In Love, and they're both pulling their awesome dance-acting faces, and I bloody love this routine. Alesha's flinging her head around, and her curls are bouncing. Arlene is lost for words, which is ACE AS! She tells Alesha that there were a couple of places where she didn't straighten her knees. Len says that Alesha is the best female celebrity they have ever had on Strictly, even better than Jill Halfpenny. Bruno says, "If this cha-cha was a West End show, it would run forever, because I want to watch it OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN." Hmm, whatever. Craig tells Alesha she is fierce. Ha. Scores - Craig 9, Arlene 9, Len 10, Bruno 10.

More recaps of the celebs who got knocked out, and the couples who left in the later stages come on to dance. Kate and Anton's godawful paso looks marginally better now that Kate isn't in screeching agony, but they do a lift at the end, and Kate goes much too far over Anton's shoulder - fortunately for her, Anton is a god amongst men, and she stays upright [but we did all see her knickers - Steve]; John and Nicole's BEST DANCE IN THE HISTORY OF EVER; Kelly and Brendan's waltz to Delilah, complete with marvellous story-telling; Kenny and Ola's shite SCOTTISH paso with good caping; the magnificent Letitia and Darren's foxtrot; and Gethin and Camilla's salsa. He is so funny - clearly intensely into the dance and desperate to prove he WUZ ROBBED, and high-fiving his colleagues mid-routine.

Kate says of her lift, "It was like a butcher lifting a slab of meat", and tells us it was much much worse in rehearsal. She then starts shouting at the camera, "VOTE FOR ME!" and Kenny has to restrain her. Ha! [For Gabby's reference, that is how a good loser behaves. I have nothing but respect for Kate, because despite clearly not being a good dancer in any way, she handled herself with class throughout the competition and even after she'd left. Bravo, Kate. - Steve]

Now both finalists have to dance to the same piece of music, chosen by the judges. A dramatic VT about how everyone wants to win and blah blah blah. Flavia talks about how much pressure is on her. Craig says, "Flavia is fierce." Matthew says, "Flavia who?" Bruno says that Matthew has more awards than Helen Mirren. Heh.

Anyway, here we go. Matt and Flavia are quickstepping, Alesha and Matthew are jiving, and it's all to We Love To Boogie by T-Rex. Flavia's choreographed a bit of showboating in for Matt at the start, but it feels a bit slow for a quickstep, and Matt has his tongue in his cheek throughout, in a really irritating way. Alesha and Matthew take to the floor, and I love those little tasselly dresses. If I were thinner, I'd wear one ALL THE TIME.

Len says that Matt is up against one of the best female celebs ever (wasn't she the best one about half an hour ago?) but he is holding his own, and they all did well, hooray; Bruno says nice things; Craig says nice things and mentions Matt's improvement and similarity to Bruce's dancing; Arlene says nice things about the "quirky quickstep" and tells Matt to perform more, and srsly, what's the point of the judges? Scores for Matt - Craig 9, Arlene 8, Len 9, Bruno 9; scores for Alesha - Craig 9, Arlene 8, Len 9, Bruno 9. Oh, what a surprise, the same marks. What a waste of time that was.

So on points, Alesha and Matthew are two ahead of Matt and Flavia. In case we've not been paying attention, we get a recap, and URGED TO VOTE.

NOW IT IS TIME FOR BRUCE TO SING. Tess introduces him as "Sir Bruce Forsyth", which: no. Bruce is obviously delighted to get his chance to sing Cheek to Cheek, accompanied by the celebrity lady dancers, plus Lilia and Karen. Kate is given the important job of walking in a straight line; Penny looks like an Amazon. Bruce does a little tap-break in the middle. Oh, and then everyone else crashes on to the floor, and Bruce completely loses the thread of the tune and chooses just to talk, a la Rex Harrison.

That's it for two hours. Join me in a bit for the results!

Results show

Back to the ballroom! Earlier tonight, our two couples danced three routines, and now they have to do two more. Credits! Clapping! Matt and Flavia take to the floor, followed by Mattesha, wiggling away to the music as usual, and then Bruce and Tess. Tess has chosen to remain in the monstrosity she wore earlier. They remind us that we should VOTE - 0901 121 30 11 for Alesha and Matthew.

Recap of what happened behind the scenes - Alesha shouting, "Happy last show to everyone!", Matt thinks being half-naked makes for good television [he's not wrong - Steve], Mattesha whoop-whoop their ten from Craig, Matt thinks he can totally win. Blah de blah. The judges don't score the remaining two dances - it's all down to US. That sounds like a cue for a recap. Oh, what a shock.

Next, our finalists perform a Viennese waltz AT THE SAME TIME, all for our votes. It doesn't matter what the judges think. Ew, they're dancing to This Year's Love. The Viennese waltz is really not a very interesting dance, is it? Flavia's dress has too many sashy bits across the middle. Alesha's bodice is PINK AND SPARKLY YAAAAAAAAAAY. The ladies curtsey, the gents bow, and then everyone hugs.

Bruce thanks the judges for their input, despite it being nonsensical about 50% of the time. Bruno tells them they are shining examples to young people, and they are what young people should be about. Right. Craig says there is such electricity in the room, and that's due to their dancing. Aw, Alesha and Matt are holding hands. Arlene tells Matt that leading the Viennese waltz is VERY DIFFICULT, and he did it like a champion. Head Judge Len steals the ball of alliteration from Arlene, and says it is a classic confrontation, telling Matt that he deserves to be in the final, and Alesha that she is a complete package. Arlene adds that Alesha rides the waltz like she is on the crest of a wave, and she is riding high tonight. Bruce's granddaughter thinks Father Christmas will win.

Voxpops of people who think Matt should win. Voxpops of people who think Alesha should win. OH, and a choir of people singing that Alesha should win! And the Bootleg Beatles think Alesha should win! And a lady feeding a giraffe thinks Alesha should win! Matt's friends send VT messages to him. Alesha's nans send VT messages to her - Clem says, "If you win this competition tonight, I will be the proudest nanny in the world!" I love Clem's syntax. [I'm going to miss Clem so much. More Clem! Give Clem her own show! - Steve] More VT messages. All very cute.

Tess speaks to Mark Ramprakash. He is happy he is not competing because everyone is so good, and burbles lots of platitudes to Tess's inane questions. Bruce speaks to David Walliams, who is a fan of Strictly because of Bruce and because it's a brilliant show and this has been the best series ever. Oh, bloody Vernon Kay is there too. David Walliams wants Alesha to win! Hooray! Vernon Kay interrupts so it doesn't look biased to say, "Go Matt!" [Hee! You can say what you like about Vernon, but he's a pro. - Steve]

Alesha says she is nervous, and also speechless. Matthew is worried because he is not used to it. Ew, Matt is wearing a vest. [A sparkly vest! It looks a bit like he's got a leotard on. - Steve] Flavia is wearing a dress whose top half wouldn't look out of place on Tess. [And whose bottom half is...not there. - Steve]

And now there's more bloody filler.

Oh, here we go. Matt and Flavia are doing their showdance to Are You Gonna Go My Way. Flavia is prancing about and being thrown around, including a weird spin where his fist is in her crotch and she rotates. Not sure how much dancing Matt really did there, but the acrobatics were pretty good, if weird. [I thought this was amazing, and wondered if Matt might have just won the competition. The bit where he supported Flavia by putting one hand in her vag sure was impressive. - Steve]

Len explains the concept of the showdance, and praises Matt and Flavia's choice of the cha-cha with modern music. Bruno tells them they delivered way above anyone's expectations, and promptly gets out of his seat to flail around. Craig says it was fearless and admires their trust in each other. Arlene alliterates. Yawn, yawn. Matt and Flavia talk about how much they want to win. Tess invites us to vote.

Matthew praises Matt and Flavia's showdance, and says they are going to go out there and do their best. First, though, we must see their Journey. Drink! Matthew says that Alesha makes him come out of his shell, they both compliment each other, and I'm kind of worried they'll both cry before they go out on the floor.

Here we go, then, the last dance - and it's to Holding Out For A Hero, which is one of the best songs in the history of forever. Alesha is kind of caping with her skirt, which is cool, and they go into a very modern and shiny paso. The lifts aren't as spectacular as Matt and Flavia's, but they make much more sense in the context of the routine. Srsly, this is awesome! [I was really worried about Alesha's dress - I was convinced she was going to trip over it. It was a brilliant dress, but not practical in the slightest. - Steve]

Bruce reminds us they have done five dances. Arlene gives Alesha a standing ovation! HA HA HA Len. Head Judge Len says there are no losers tonight. Except, y'know, there are. Bruno screams, "This was more than a dance, it was a stunning, epic performance!" Craig says it was fantastic. Which it was. Alesha and Matthew thank everyone for supporting them, including people on the forums. Do they mean us? They're quietly understated, partly through emotion, and partly through being knackered. [Alesha, bless her, has looked exhausted all evening. Part of me wishes they hadn't had to dance so many times, and instead we could have had two or three perfect routines from each couple. - Steve]

Recap. Tess reminds us that the phone lines are closing in ONE MINUTE, then talks to Matt's boring brothers. She moves on to talk to Alesha's mum and nan Maureen. This is FILLER. GET ON WITH IT.


Bruce introduces the Spice Girls with a "really really want" joke, and they sing 2 Become 1. Mel C is wearing a top hat and looks like Alice Cooper. Mel B's boobs look odd. Emma looks like a grieving Mafia widow, with a horrible hat and veil, but fortunately she has recovered from the sprained ankle that forced her into a wheelchair last week. A likely tale. Geri is too thin. Victoria is a very strange colour indeed. Camilla and Ian, Darren and Lilia and James and Ola take to the floor in the second verse. It's all very lovely. Let's get to the results.

Here we go.

The winners of Strictly Come Dancing 2007 are...


I have actually just started crying. [Oh, I was weeping like a bitch about five minutes before we even got here. - Steve]

I am so pleased for Mattesha. They are awesome, they are the best, and thoroughly deserved to win.

Matt and Flavia are gracious in defeat; Alesha is crying. Bruce tells her she could be the biggest female star in the UK. She tells him he is funny. Well, that's the first time this series. Bruce tells her that he hopes that her managers look after her properly. Matthew tells her she is a star. Alesha says, "I love you", and they embrace.

Bruce presents them with the trophy, and they bound around everywhere while lifting the mirrorball. Alesha's mum and nans invade the floor, while all the pros and celebrities hug and kiss each other.

Bruce and Tess implore us all to keep dancing, Matt stomps off to see his brothers who look thoroughly pissed off, and that's it for another year. For all this series' flaws, this has been the right result. Queen Alesha has triumphed with her consort Matthew, and she is a worthy champion. Thanks for reading. We'll see you next year!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

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

- "The quickstep's WICKED! Isn't it fun?" A quote from whom?

- Gethin and Camilla thought Head Judge Len would save them. They will be sending a Christmas card to Arlene.

- Gethin the tapir is very sad that Gethin the dancer has been eliminated from the competition. He thinks that Matt "just looks like a tapir's bottom".

- Craig and Bruno said on Monday that you cannot expect perfection from anyone. Perhaps they ought to tell Arlene and Len, then.

- Claudia wore electric blue on Tuesday. Blue! BLUE! On our Gothic Claud!

- Nicole's favourite dance of the series was Alesha and Matt's cha-cha. Good choice. It was teh awesome, and still gives your SCB team stomach-butterflies.

- Gabby, who is still gutted about being knocked out TOO SOON, seems to be quite firmly Team Alesha.

- Head Judge Len told Matt that he had never given a contestant a standing ovation before. Mysteriously, someone looking a lot like Head Judge Len was shown giving standing ovations to the previous series' finalists, as well as telling Darren Gough that he dances like A BLOKE.

- Bruce and Tess were guests on Wednesday. Tess wore a horrible dress. Shocker. She is leading the campaign to get Bruce knighted. He was a little confused about having petitions on websites.

- Craig exclusively revealed that Len and Bruno are high scorers.

- On Wednesday, Craig said that the judges ARE in fact looking for perfection.

- Craig made the dreadful faux pas of talking about S Club 7 in front of Claudia, who was ever the professional and deadpanned "I love any mention of S Club 7."

- Matt says that Alesha is the most amazing woman he has ever met, and he hopes they will be friends forever, which is the nicest compliment anyone has ever paid anyone.

- Alesha says her life is "the MC" at the moment, and she has had a very tough year, which almost made your SCB team cry. Then she had video messages from her mum Beverley ("Matt must be a very patient person") and her nan Maureen ("I can't put it into words how proud I am...she did have a rotten year"), including some baby photos, and that also almost made your SCB team cry.

- Alesha now refers to "Mattesha". It clearly puzzled Claudia.

- When Matthew was a kid, he used to wake his mum up in the middle of the night and make her watch him dance. Head Judge Len says Matt is a "charming chap".

- Flavia says winning Strictly would be the highlight of her life.

- Head Judge Len went to visit both couples to give them a Latin masterclass. He swanned around the country in a silver Merc, popped in to tell Alesha her footwork needed attention, nipped over to tell Matt to sort his hip action out, and went home again.

- Matt and Flavia's practice timetable consists of her shouting, "Dance, monkey-boy, dance!" at him over and over again so he doesn't forget the routine.

- Matt and Alesha have agreed to share custody of the trophy regardless of who wins.

- Head Judge Len wore a stupid hat on Friday's show, which set Bruno off giggling. Arlene was disapproving - "It's the FINAL tomorrow!" - but Bruno was unrepentant - "BUT IT'S CHRISTMAS!" Craig wittered on about his fear that Matt will forget his routines, and Len and Bruno tried to interrupt. Arlene pursed her lips in disgust at their lack of manners and professionalism.

- Arlene is looking for technical perfection. Bruno is looking for va-va-voom - "technique on its own is dry and cold."

- A camera was on the judges when Cliff Richard sang the other week. Bruno launched himself in passionate fashion at Len, and then proceeded to smother in kisses the photo of himself in skimpy trunks.

- Arlene has not slept since she said goodbye to Gethin. Craig kissed her hair. Bless.

- Heat editor Mark Frith is a fool.

- Zoe Ball and Melanie Sykes are TEAM ALESHA, and proceeded to chant her name prior to Friday's closing credits.

- And a final Christmas treat for us - Craig singing Winter Wonderland in less fearsomely queeny fashion, with a break in the middle for Len and Bruno. Arlene chose to retain a modicum of dignity. Len wrestled Claudia into a stomach-churning clinch.

That's the end of It Takes Two for this year. Join Carrie tomorrow for the final liveblog!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Gethin outta here

Semi-final results: 16th December 2007

First of all, a huge apology for the lateness of this recap. I didn't get home until the wee hours of Sunday, and I had my work Christmas party on Monday night. I imagine by now you all know who stayed, who went, and what happened, but for the purposes of the blog I'm just going to pretend that I know none of this. Okay? Jolly good.

So, "last night" (and that's even more ridiculous than usual, under the circumstances), our three semi-finalists gave it their all, and the standard reached new heights, according to Tess's disembodied voice. Matt and Flavia got the first perfect score of the series, amid some controversy, which I will deal with later. One couple must leave the competition "tonight". This is Strictly Come Dancing!

The show starts with the three couples all waiting on the stairs, and Alesha is bopping away to the beat as usual, bless her. As they cross on the dancefloor, Matthew and Gethin subtly high-five each other, which is adorable. Bruce and Tess return, and OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. What the fuck is Tess wearing? As if the Cleopatra, Comin' Atcha dress from the main show wasn't terrifying enough, she's now come dressed as the Big Purple One of Quality Street fame, in a dress that would be fine if it didn't have a bizarre hitch in between her legs which makes it look like she's wearing pantaloons, for fuck's sake. I mean, the hell? Did Tess run straight here from one of Letitia's panto rehearsals, and didn't have time to change out of her costume as one of Captain Hook's swarthy deckhands? (Henry Winkler is playing Captain Hook. In panto. In WOKING. - Carrie) She's also wearing some kind of elaborate flower-shaped gold necklace, which is also kind of terrifying but not nearly as terrifying as the fucking doublet and hose, for crying out loud.

There's the obligatory joke from Bruce and Tess which really isn't worth recapping this late in the day, and the twosome fill for a little while reminding us what will happen when the results come in later, as if we didn't know by now. Tess promises us a showdance from Victor Da Silva and Hanna Karttunen, who are apparently world exhibition champions. That title makes them sound like a right pair of show-offs, doesn't it? It's nice to see Hanna back on this show after having to prop up Christopher Parker throughout series one, anyway. There will also be a dancing performance from stars of the future, and James Blunt will be here, in his capacity as last-minute replacement for the Spice Girls. Thanks a lot, LADIES. (I gather they're due on in the final now instead, so I can't be too mad at them. And hey, at least Emma Bunton made it to the final in some capacity...)

Video recap, starting with Gethin and Camilla, in the unusual position of being at the bottom of the leaderboard. We see the stupid-ass beginning of their Paso Doble where Gethin drags Camilla onto the floor on his shoulders while she hides beneath his cape, and the whole thing just looks very ungainly. Arlene said it was very mixed, hands-wise, Len thought they dominated the floor and gave them 10, at which Bruno did an elaborate double-take. Camilla hurt her shoulder afterwards and had to have some kind of emergency medical spraying. Their Argentine Tango made Bruno sound like Yoda ("Prince of Darkness, you were. Win this competition, you must!") and Gethin's sister Meredid says that it just shows the standard of the top three when two great performances like that still put you at the bottom of the leaderboard. And she has a point; their placing here isn't really down to any outright failing on their part, they just didn't dazzle as much as Matt and Alesha did on the night.

Matt took a risk, according to Len, although arguably not as much of a risk as he took last week by forgetting two routines. Arlene wanted Matt to believe he can dance. Backstage, Matt looks like a much cooler customer than last week, which is reassuring. They got 40 for their Waltz, which I think was overmarked, although it was a lovely performance all the same. Craig briefly VTs to the camera, but doesn't give any explanation as to why this specific dance merited his first ten of the series. And seriously, I'm not hating here, I'm genuinely curious. Backstage, Matt's less-attractive brother says it was like winning the lottery.

Alesha and Matthew were top of the leaderboard again, and their Quickstep was one of my favourite dances of this series, on the assumption that anyone cares. Bruno called her the "first lady of dance", and Len applauded her for making hard dances look easy. Backstage, Alesha enthused about how fun the dance was. (I love that Alesha thinks EVERY dance is the most fun dance she's ever attempted. - Carrie) Their Argentine Tango was ace as well, and Arlene complimented Alesha on her storytelling. Craig felt slightly let down because it lacked attack. Backstage, Alesha is disappointed with herself for not having done the whole routine perfectly, and Matthew turns to the cameras all "can you believe this?" Hee. Alesha's nan Maureen cried because it was so beautiful. She may not have been alone. Sniff.

Bruce welcomes back the judges, and refers to Craig and Len's big bust-up from last week. Bruce assures us that they've made up, and Len's even bought Craig a present: a canoe, with directions to Panama. Oooh, topical humour! I would love to see Bruno on Have I Got News For You, now that I think about it. (Bruno was in the paper today offering advice to new England manager Fabio Capello, because he is also Italian. Media whore. - Carrie) Bruce asks Len if Matt's Waltz really deserved a standing ovation, and Len rather dodges the question by saying that this was the best semi-final ever, and that they all deserved standing ovations. He adds that it was harder for Matt because of last week, which does nothing but add fuel to the rumours that Matt's 40 involved some degree of grading on a curve, as if to say "have a couple of extra points for not choking this week!", which is not really fair to Matt, or indeed to Gethin and Alesha. But I'm losing the will to argue over the scoring this year, so let's move on. Bruce gives Arlene a chance to talk about the performance without interruption. Arlene says that Alesha has the gift of making everyone believe she's the best dancer. Um, wow. Did she mean to say it like that? Because that pretty much implies that Alesha's been pulling the wool over our eyes the whole time and isn't actually very good at all, which is blatantly untrue. Hmmm. Arlene says that Alesha needs to watch her footwork. Backstage, Matt (di Angelo, not Cutler) has his arm around Alesha as she takes this in. Awww. Arlene adds that we mustn't forget Gethin (like there was any chance of that), blah blah turnaround journey etc. She says that he's a real contender for the final, but he tried so hard this week that his body tensed up. (Arlene needs to sort her linguistics out, because she's managing to insult people left, right and centre this series, without even meaning to. I realise the HRT and the gin might make clarity difficult, but she could at least try. - Carrie)

Ask the audience time: Zoe Lucker (!) thinks Alesha and Matt will be the final two. She thinks Alesha is the most beautiful dancer to watch. Strictly alumnus Will Thorp thinks it will be an all-male final again, and deems this viewpoint "controversial". Can something still be controversial when half the nation thinks, or at least suspects, it will happen? Melanie Sykes thinks that judging on tonight's performances alone, Matt just edged Gethin out, and that his Argentine Tango made her cry. Minty from EastEnders is proud of Matt. Another alumnus, Spoony, says that if you get four tens and don't make the final, you'll probably be quite cross. Indeed. Dominic Littlewood wants Gethin to win, prompting nine million viewers to run to their phones and start voting for Matt and Alesha. Richard Bacon thinks Gethin looked tense tonight, but insists patronisingly that housewives everywhere love him. Denise Lewis wants a Gethin/Alesha final, and thinks Alesha's Argentine Tango was sexy as hell. Matthew Cutler's previous partner Carol Smillie thinks Alesha is the best, and that her QuickStep was electric. Denise Lewis thinks everyone is very good, and wouldn't want to be in the judges' position.

Bruce introduces a Jive with a twist from James, Ola, Matthew and Nicole. The twist is that after a lovely Jive, the pros are chased off the stage by scary stage school children on scooters, who commandeer the stage. Keep your eyes on these kids, folks. They'll be your Strictly pros in 2030. (But at least Anton will be hosting it then. - Carrie) It's all very cute, but I didn't really tune in to watch children, you know? "Oh, to be young again!" cries Bruce at the end. Indeed.

Back to the judges for feedback from Bruno and Craig. Bruce asks Bruno whose performances were worthy of finalists, and Bruno basically takes a very long time to say that Alesha stood out, and that Matt's comeback was very impressive. Craig gave his first ten of the series yesterday, and Craig jokes that it was "smothered in dust" under his chair. He says that Matt pulled it out of the bag, and that he didn't expect him to finish the routine, much less master the Waltz. So Matt gets the benefit of diminished expectations while Alesha gets the burden of high hopes? Yeah, that's fair, and I don't even care that my pro-Alesha bias is so obvious at this point. Backstage, Matt laughs, apparently not recognising this for the backhanded compliment that it is. Anyway, Craig adds that the judges all knew Matt was a talented dancer and it was only his nerves that stopped him from doing well last week, and he's glad he had a chance to prove it.

It's time for Victor and Hanna's exhibition dance. Oh my, there is a shirtless man on my television screen. How lovely. There is a serious risk that my recap of this may just be me going "ARMS! ARMS AND SHOULDERS!" They are dancing to 'One Night Only' from Dreamgirls, being shattered by the band as usual. It's a very impressive display of acrobatics from Victor and Hanna, and either Hanna is actually as light as a feather, or Victor is ridiculously strong. As Carrie texted me during the show to say, "there go Kenny Logan's chances of winning Strictly Come Lifting." Okay, that was awesome, and not just because of the gratuitous naked man-chest either.

in the House of Tesstosterone, Tess tells them that whoever makes the finals will be doing something a bit like that, since lifts are allowed. Which is a bit of a nonsense, because unless lifts are compulsory, they don't HAVE to do a dance like that, do they? I'm not sure I'd want to watch both couples do a dance that was 90% lifting either, since I doubt Matt or Gethin could lift Flavia or Camilla as well as Victor lifted Hanna, and I'm not sure Alesha would be as graceful in the air as Hanna was. Still, we'll see next week, won't we? Gethin cracks that he realises from watching that that all he has to do is take his clothes off and anything's possible. I'm surprised it's taken Gethin this long to learn that. Did he not see how taking his shirt off made him a much better dancer? Camilla tells Gethin he needs to hit the gym immediately. Tess asks Camilla if she thinks Gethin has it in him, and Camilla replies that he hopes so, although Gethin admits to having dropped her a few times. Tess wishes for lots of lifts and also naked torsos next week. She asks Alesha if she's looking forward to doing that next week if she's in the final. Alesha, incredulously: "What, with Victor?" She cackles, of course, and Matthew gives an indignant "Oi!" from behind her, and Alesha apologises. Hee. I love these two together, I really do. (Me too! I laughed muchly at this bit. Very much looking forward to their sitcom. - Carrie) Tess confirms that Alesha would have to do that dance with Matthew, and Alesha says that she can't wait, and that it would be great to go flying through the air like that. Matthew, patting her on the shoulder: "Yeah, yeah. Don't get your hopes up." Hehehehe. Tess asks Matt about his four tens: conspicuously, only Gethin claps, although Alesha does pat Matt's thigh. Matt says that they wanted to thank the public for keeping them in last week. Tess confirms that everyone is petrified for the result, as though someone's going to shrug and go "nah, I ain't even bovvered."

Still no results, instead we have James Blunt. As usual, he sings like someone's just given him a wedgie. However, having sat through Leon winning The X Factor, James Blunt doesn't seem quite as offensive any more. The audience start clapping after the rather lacklustre chorus (the song is 'Same Mistake', which I actually don't hate in the way I hate a lot of his songs) and for a second I wonder why, until I realise that this is of course the cue for James, Ola, Darren and Lilia to come on and dance and therefore improve things greatly. Lilia and Ola are dressed a bit like Kylie was on The X Factor last night, as though they got attacked by a doily and then sprayed by a squid. Still, it's a look, isn't it? Anyway, questionable outfits aside, the dancing is lovely.

Bruce reminds us that all of the dancers want to make the final, which: duh. This is, of course, the cue for the VT: for Alesha to make the final would be the highlight of her year. She's dreamed about it, but doesn't know if she can make it a reality. Gethin didn't expect to be in this position, but wants to be in the final more than anything. Matt wants to get to the final and win. Alesha wants to get right to the very end. I find it curious that she seems to not even want to mention the prospect of winning, as though she fears jinxing herself or something. Gethin feels like he has a chance, and that makes him nervous. Matt thinks you can make anything happen if you put your mind to it. Alesha would love to be in the final and win (THERE WE GO) and will certainly fight for it. Gethin thinks the end result could be very sweet.

Bruce and Tess are holding cue cards, so we all know what that mean: results time! We get a quick recap of what the judges said from Tess (Matt had true potential, Alesha was the first lady of dance, Gethin dominated the floor). Bruce reveals the only couple with a guaranteed spot in the final is...Alesha and Matthew! Hooray! Alesha looks stunned, and tears up. Matthew gives her a hug. (Too bloody right. A final without Queen Alesha would be an utter travesty, regardless of what the stupid judges say. - Carrie) This means it's Matt versus Gethin in the dance-off, and I wouldn't want to be Gethin at this point, because Matt will obviously dance his perfect-scoring Waltz again and it's going to be hard to compete with that. Also, worthy of note: this means whoever wins this year will have been in the bottom two at least once, which I believe hasn't happened since the first series, although I got that information from Claudia on It Takes Two, so its accuracy is a little suspect.

Bruce asks Len for advice for Matt and Flavia, and Len wants to speak to both couples instead. He tells them their nerves must be shot at this point, and tells them both to try to stay focused, to try to relax, and that he hopes they both put on fantastic performances. But absolutely no pressure! Matt and Flavia are up first, repeating their Waltz. Matt's nerves seem to be holding out, and it's every bit as lovely as it was the first time around. Just to reiterate, I really do think that was a great performance, even if I do crab a little about not quite agreeing with the judges' scores. Gethin and Camilla repeat their Argentine Tango as their highest-scoring dance of the night, which is a shame for Gethin, because he really doesn't have anything to do in this one. I know that the woman does most of the legwork in this dance as a rule, but at least last year Karen gave Mark Ramprakash an equal bite of the apple. Gethin just appears to be a frame for Camilla to hang off here, which is a shame because we all know he's capable of far more tricksy stuff than that.

Now it's all in the lap of the judges. Bruce and Tess wish luck to both couples, and Craig is first to cast his vote. Craig tells the professional dancers that they're brilliant to have brought these two dancers from nothing to this standard, but his saving vote goes to Matt and Flavia. Arlene says that she's never been in such a difficult position before, but based on the power she saw in their last dance, she votes to save Gethin and Camilla. Bruno wants to pre-empt his comments by saying that both Matt and Gethin have shown incredible commitment to the show, but votes for Matt and Flavia. It's all down to Head Judge Len, of course. Len says he admires both couples so much, and it's hard to vote solely on those two dances, but he has to go with Matt and Flavia. Which means Gethin and Camilla are out. Camilla looks tearful. Gethin tells Tess he's absolutely gutted, but he's had a great adventure and he now has lots of great moves to take on the dancefloor thanks to Camilla. Camilla thanks Gethin for being so amazing to work with, and tells him he's leaving the show a dancer.

So the final is between Alesha and Matthew, and Matt and Flavia, who will have to perform five - FIVE! - dances each to become the champion. Yowza. Gethin and Camilla have their final dance, and Gethin bears her aloft and carries her around the room. There are congratulatory hugs from the others, and we're out.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Three Argentine tangos, two paso dobles, and a waltz with a perfect 40

Semi-final week: Saturday 15th December 2007

Yes, folks, it's SEMI-FINAL WEEK! Last week: Gethin "roared on", whatever that means; Matt fell apart; Alesha fell from grace (ie was in the dance-off because everyone sympathy-voted Matt and Flavia to victory). I'm still a bit excitedly distracted by the preceding trailer for the Doctor Who Christmas special. Don't worry, I'll do my best to concentrate. Titles!

Bruce and Tess make their entrance, the latter dressed as a futuristic Cleopatra, or possibly an special guest star on Battlestar Galactica. The '70s version. Only from the front though; the back of her dress is quite nice. [Which makes me wonder why they can get half of it right, but not the whole thing. It's like when Torchwood dropped out the occasional brilliant episode and you wondered what was stopping them from doing that every week. - Steve] Bruce threatens to sing next week. Why must the Beeb inflict this on us? We are encouraged many times to vote for our "favourite couple". Here's an idea: vote for the best dancer. Mind you, if the nation refuses to vote for the best singer on The X Factor, what hope is there? Bruce says that "Three's a crowd ... one couple has to go", which makes sense in a monogamous relationship, but not really on a show that normally has three couples in the final.

Alesha and Matthew are first up. Expect to hear a lot about how she is the last girl celebrity in the competition. Alesha and Matthew have had more 10s than any couple in Strictly history; though whether that's due merely to brilliant dancing or ever-lowering judging nurturing standards is debatable. Still, Alesha doesn't seem to have taken it too badly that she was in the dance-off last week. Alesha is looking forward to the Argentine tango, in which she will "turn into a seducing senorita", and the quickstep, which should suit her "smiley, bubbly" personality and use up some of her overabundance of energy. Alesha wants to "represent for the ladies", because she is urban, and also points out that the boys have won the last two years: "Isn't it time the girls got back on top?" Their first dance is the quickstep, danced to 'Valerie' in the style of Amy Winehouse - possibly better than the male vocalist doing a Zutons impression, but pretty ear-rending nonetheless. It works quite nicely for the quickstep though. Alesha is very elegant in a long white dress with blue sparkles and a '20s hairdo. What can I say; I didn't see anything wrong with it. Alesha is awesome. (Word. Queen Alesha. - Carrie)

Bruce introduces the judges, saying that as there's a gender bias on the panel, he wants to check that there's no bullying or harassment going on; "Len, Bruno, Craig - you're not being bullied by Arlene, are you?" Clearly not, because if Arlene was in charge of Len and Bruno she'd get their bloody marking into line. Anyway, back to business. Bruno tells Alesha, "You might be the last girl standing... but you look like the first lady of dancing." Craig thought it was "fantastic, full of difficult syncopated steps; you made it look easy". Arlene says that Alesha is "about to turn this semi-final into a killer competition", (Alliteration! Drink! - Carrie) and throws in the obligatory play on words: "Your nippy footwork turned the nip in the air hot." Whatever. Len echoes Craig's comment that Alesha "made a hard dance look easy". Backstage, Alesha tells Tess, "I don't think my emotions can handle it!" When Tess asks if she wants to beat the boys to the final (like, duh), Alesha responds, "Well, they are good-looking boys..." Surely she's not suggesting that people are voting for something other than dancing ability? The scores are in: 9s from Craig and Arlene, 10s from Len and Bruno as usual, for a total of 38, which they're obviously pleased with.

Matt "20 years old is the new rugby player" Di Angelo and Flavia are up next with their Argentine tango. Flavia ought to have come up with something good for this dance. We're reminded of how both Matt's dances went so terribly wrong last week and how "mortifying it was, and how Matt didn't want to go out and do the samba after his foxtrot had gone so wrong. "I had my bags packed", says Matt, and the fact that people bothered to vote him in makes him want to do better this week. I should think so too. Don't expect to be saved a second time. This week Matt has been filming his final scenes for EastEnders; cue rehearsals in Albert Square in front of the rest of the cast, in order to try and boost Matt's confidence. They're dancing to traditional tango music (which George bloody Lamb was criticising on It Takes Two on Friday, and frankly he can piss off). Although the Argentine tango is clearly technically difficult, it's not very exciting to watch, and it's clearly the woman who has the most to do. Matt's footwork isn't perfect, but at least he's remembered the routine. I like the ending, where Flavia is swiftly flipped upside-down with her head centimetres from the floor. It's cute that she trusts him to do moves like that. I'd be worried he might drop me. [Or give up halfway through and wander off to sit on the steps. - Steve]

Len tries to explain the story of the Argentine tango, which goes something like this: imagine a gaucho, hot and sweaty in the docks of Buenos Aires, looking for a lady of the night; he sees a girl he fancies and sidles over... At this point he sidles towards Bruno, who is justifiably a bit scared, and I lose the track of the story. I think we get the point though. Len says the competition is "about risk and reward", and Matt "risked everything" coming back out on the floor this week. No more than he would have risked by not dancing, I'd have thought. However, he says that Matt's main concern was obviously to get through the routine without forgetting his steps, and as a result it "lacked a tad of passion and drama". Bruno says, in one of my favourite metaphors of the series, "After the blank you fired last week, coming back and doing it fully loaded takes a lot of courage". Craig was impressed that it was "full of content, lots of different steps", and thinks they "captured the essence of the dance", but he didn't like some of Matt's foot passes and lunges. Arlene thinks that Matt and Flavia have the requisite "intimacy and intensity" for the Argentine tango, but tells Matt - in a nurturing way, some might say - that he's a "really good dancer" and has to believe in himself. Some might say the semi-final is a bit late for nurturing. Backstage, Matt says he was concentrating and the "nerves weren't really there". They score an 8 from Craig and 9s from everyone else, for a respectable total of 35.

Still to come - is Gethin "cape-able" of taking control? Geddit? Ha ha ha. And will Alesha and Matthew top Matt and Flavia's Argentine tango? Well, if anyone can...

Bruce says that last week Gethin burned a hole in his trouser leg, but he said, "It's alright, it's not big enough for Arlene to get her hand through." Filth! This is a family show! I am SHOCKED and HORRIFIED. What will the Blue Peter viewers think? [The same Blue Peter on which Gethin is stripped to his kecks on a near-weekly basis, you mean? - Steve] Someone think of the children! Gethin and Camilla were pretty ecstatic with their scores last week, which have given Gethin more confidence for the semi-final. Camilla reckons the paso doble and the Argentine tango have come at just the right time for Gethin - and boy, is she right. Imagine pre-acting lesson wooden Gethin hauling Camilla around the floor. Gethin's a bit worried that Camilla won't let him lead though. For the paso doble, Gethin has his chest on show (Yay! - Carrie) and a very sparkly top. They're dancing to 'Standing in the Way of Control' by the Gossip, which... actually kind of works. As demonstrated on Head Judge Len's dancing masterclass on Friday, Gethin twirls Camilla around him as though she were a cape, and flings her across the floor at the end. It's not brilliant, but it's pretty damn good. [The close-up of Camilla hurtling towards the camera is terrifying. I expect to see a hundred people using it as an animated .gif for an online avatar within the week. - Steve]

Bruce thinks it appropriate to go to Arlene first, who says it was "a real mix - sometimes like a Spanish omelette, sometimes like a fine rioja". What's wrong with a Spanish omelette, apart from its obvious lack of alcohol content? (I think that's exactly what's wrong with it from an Arlene perspective. - Carrie) Arlene didn't like Gethin's clumsy hands at times, which I believe is a drinkable offence. Len says he's "stuck here in the home for the bewildered", ie how dare Arlene criticise anything? It's not like you're there to judge anything. (Anyway, if Len is in a home for the bewildered, it's the right place for him. - Carrie) He says the paso doble is "the hardest dance for the male celebrities" - although I'm sure I've heard that line before about a different dance, possibly the rumba - and Gethin "dominated the floor". Bruno says that Gethin "came out, fire and brimstone, and went for it, yes", and there's definitely a "but" coming. Bruno wasn't impressed with his "Spanish line" and gets up to demonstrate again - somebody strap him down. Len objects, "Don't point that thing at me!" and Bruce has to get his whistle out. Craig was underwhelmed: "It didn't thrill me and I don't know why. You were dancing your backside off but it lacked a connection... there was something missing." Backstage, Gethin opines that he might have been a bit too aggressive. A clue - no. The judges all give them 8, except for Head Judge Len, who gives them 10 - has he lost all his other scoring paddles or something? Sorry, but that was not a 10. They have a total of 34, which is the lowest in this round, but not exactly shabby.

Next up, Alesha and Matthew with their second dance of the night - the Argentine tango. After some really cheesy filler about their dance journey, if you will. They have "real chemistry". Matt says Alesha has an "unimaginable amount of energy". Alesha's nans are so supportive. I think we know all this. Matt fawns over Alesha: "I'm honoured to have her. She's so precious to me. I wish I could keep her." Bless. They're dancing to 'I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You', and I'm struck by the contrast with how Len described the story of the Argentine tango - in this story, Alesha is clearly the coquettish aggressor in her little red dress. You go, girl! These two give great Acting, it's very passionate, and Alesha's nan is moved to tears. Aww.

Over to the judges, and Craig says he "loved the storytelling. You made the dance into a three-act play - fantastic." However, he did feel "a bit let down" at the lack of attack. Bruno interjects, "That was subtlety!" as though he even knows what that means. Arlene says that Alesha is "one of the best storytellers", so maybe she has a career ahead of her on Jackanory, but her "knees were bent on the scissor" and her "caressing of the floor was not as perfect as I would have liked". No, me neither. Arlene gets in a pre-emptive, "That's just my opinion", before Len and Bruno can start shouting at her for criticising, but to no avail. Len replies, "We respect your opinion, although sometimes it's wrong." Well, we've lost all respect for your opinion over the course of this series, Head Judge Len, so fuck off. Len says the Argentine tango is about flirting, and he thought it was "a delight". Finally, Bruno says it was "focused... the irresistible power of subtle seduction." Bruce says all three couples are his favourites, which sort of defeats the point of the word "favourite", but I won't tell him if you won't. Alesha and Matthew receive the same scores as they did for their paso - 9s from Craig and Arlene, 10s from Len and Bruno - giving them a total of 38 and bringing their total of 10s in this series to a stonking 14.

The penultimate dance is Matt and Flavia's waltz. In the VT, Matt says he wanted to do the show so that "people stop thinking of me as Deano, the lemon". Now we think of him as Matt Di Angelo, the lemon. All the usual stuff - they clicked as soon as they met, they're such good friends but they do argue. Matt: "I got all I could ever want out of it - and more." Intriguing. Flavia is wearing a very Christmassy long red dress with gold on the back. It's not the Christmas special yet! They're dancing to some soppy ballad, and I'm not sure it's a good idea to let one of the singers go acapella at the beginning, but fortunately the band kick in fairly swiftly. Phew. The pressure's on for this dance, because I think everyone's going to be comparing it to Alesha and Matthew's magical waltz. It's technically very competent, but in my opinion doesn't have the magic and isn't especially moving. (I quite agree. It was fine technically, but no real pizzazz. IN MY OPINION. - Carrie)

Len begins with, "I'm going to do something I've never done before", before giving Matt and Flavia a standing ovation. (I was expecting him to use his critical faculty. - Carrie) [Also, if Len has never given anyone a standing ovation prior to this night, I'm a kumquat. - Steve] Matt looks thrilled. Bruce says, "Thank you, I deserve it." Len calls it "a winning performance". Bruno says it's "the biggest comeback since Judy Garland in A Star Is Born", and seems to have some kind of orgasmic moment. Craig says we're "finally seeing your true potential", and Arlene says Matt's "hands are exquisite, your top line is elegant", and something about being a heart-throb. Bruce warns Matt to "Be careful!" Hee. Backstage, Flavia is proud of Matt. Drink! The scores are in - 10s from everybody. Bloody hell. I really am surprised that was the dance that persuaded Craig to give his first 10 of the series. Still, at least Matt and Flavia won't be getting the sympathy vote this week. [Not from the public, anyway. - Steve ] (Nonsense judging. - Carrie)

The final performance of the night comes from Gethin and Camilla. We're reminded that at the beginning of the series, Gethin had "a performance problem" and they tried zorbing, going to a samba club and a romantic night out, but it wasn't until they got an acting coach in, who told him to "Be Gethin the superhero!" that the amazing transformation occurred. Gethin keeps saying "the f-word" instead of "final". Camilla says she's not sure how big a Christmas card she'll have to get him "to thank him for an amazing time". Bleurgh. Camilla is looking very lady-of-the-night for their Argentine tango, which they are dancing to 'The World Is Not Enough' - another song with good storytelling potential. If I didn't need to hear the music, I would be tempted to mute it before the chorus because I'm worried it will be too much for my ears to take. Again, they seem to have captured the atmosphere of the tango.

Bruno says it was "moody, dangerous... the prince of darkness". I'm not sure if he meant to accuse Gethin of being the devil. "You work well with Camilla - you did a great job." Craig says he "couldn't agree more with Bruno", which makes a change, but he's surprised beecause he thought it would be a bit slow. Arlene is at it again: "The Argentine tango is the people's dance, and you're going to make people want to get up and study that dance." Umm, whatever. I think that was a compliment. [Hee. I have this mental image of "the people" standing around staring at Gethin and Camila's feet with one hand on their chins, going "hmm, yes, very good." - Steve] Len says it must have been hard to come out and dance after Matt and Flavia got four 10s, but it had "great atmosphere". Bruce tells Camilla, "Lovely dress - I used to have a lampshade like that." What, in your gothic boudoir? But did Gethin and Camilla's Argentine tango leave the judges "shaken, not stirred"? Snarf. Backstage, Gethin says Matt did a "fantastic job", awww. The scores are in - all 9s, for a total of 36.

A final peek at the leaderboard reveals that Alesha and Matthew are in their rightful place at the top with 76 points, while Matt and Flavia are close behind with 75, and Gethin and Camilla are the weakest link with 70. The standard has been very high this week though, so well done to all of them - it's anyone's guess who will go out "tomorrow". The filler will include the three-times world professional exhibition champions (and former Strictly competitor) Hannah Karttunen and Victor da Silva, and music from... James Blunt. Don't let that put you off, though - join Steve right here for all the bitching.

Monday, 10 December 2007

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

- Arlene is not happy with people voting with their hearts for Matt. It is wrong to vote with one's heart. Take note, please, Bruno.

- Head Judge Len is taking Craig out for dinner, to Burger King: "I'm going to get him a Whopper. He likes a Whopper."

- Arlene suggests that Alesha should try to be less like a lady when she is dancing the Latin section. Head Judge Len thinks that part of the problem with the paso was because Alesha's hair was loose and not tied back. Right.

- Head Judge Len whined on again about Matt only BEING 20. Shut up already. Arlene said he is an ACTOR and should be ACTING. Craig said he should have been in the dance-off. Then they all started bickering and Claudia cut them off.

- Sophie Raworth punishes her children by not letting them "watch Claudia and the dancing". BBC newsreaders as a whole seem to favour Gethin, although Nicholas Owen is a very strong advocate for Alesha.

- Claudia says that there have been a record amount of 10s given out this series, "meaning the standard is higher than ever before". No, what it actually means is that Head Judge Len and Bruno have been overmarking higher than ever before.

- Gethin's middle name is Cliff. He did not tell Sir Cliff Richard that because he might have thought it was strange.

- Alesha is a witch. But a good one. Matthew, meanwhile, is Darth Vader.

- Alesha is representing "for her girls". That's all girls, everywhere, in the world, just to clarify. She thinks she's leaving this week - "nobody likes us any more, we're the underdogs this week...I've been on a journey too!"

- Michael Ball! MICHAEL BALL! Poor Michael Ball with flu and insisting the show must go on, but mocking Gabby's naked ruthless ambition. He chose Alesha and Matt's waltz as his favourite of the series, though he failed to comment on the band's performance. He guarantees us that Matt will never forget his steps ever again.

- ERIN! COLIN! THE PUPPETS! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? And why are they reminding us of this injustice?

- Alesha and Matt are struggling not to laugh in their rehearsals for the Argentine tango. Shocker. As Matt pulled on his jacket ready to dance, Alesha commented, "I love that you're wearing a jacket!" His reply? "I love that you're wearing clothes. It makes a change." Hee!

- Matt and Flavia are bickering, and he is struggling to focus and remember the routines.

- Come Dancing's veteran judge Peggy Spencer liked John Barnes because of his natural rhythm. Her colleague Blanche Ingle is Team Alesha.

- The pro dancers all want to win. Yawn.

- Anton is on CBeebies just before Christmas. Dancing with Po. Srsly.

- Matt has deemed the dance-floor announcer man a "freak". He, Gethin, and Alesha then proceeded to do impressions of all the judges. When asked who wants to win the most, Matt screamed, "Me!", Alesha "My nans!" and Gethin "My sister!"

- Brendan is really nice when he's not competing.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

"It's behind you!" - the competition, that is

Quarter-final results: 9th December 2007

"Last" "night" the remaining couples battled it out, all performing a Latin and a ballroom dance again. Gethin and Alesha both scored highly with the judges. Letitia's waltz was well-received, and she had a pretty good punt at the jive. The real story of the night was Matt completely falling to pieces in both his dances. Now the question on everyone's lips is: will the public sympathy vote save him?

The couples return to the floor, and everyone's dressed for ballroom except Matt and Flavia - whoever's in the dance-off will do the dance for which they got the highest mark from the judges. I quite like Flavia's trouser-outfit for the samba - although when I heard on Friday's It Takes Two that Matt and Flavia were both wearing trousers, I did have a bit of a flashback to Colin and Erin's disastrous puppet dance. (ERIN, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? - Carrie) Anyway. Tess has changed into yet another horrible dress, with folds of white material across the chest that look like they've been pinned there like a dress-shop mannequin.

Bruce opens with perhaps the most sensible suggestion he's made all series - let's keep all the dancers on and vote off one of the judges instead. If only the Great British Public could be trusted to vote off Len "we're not here to criticise" Goodman, I'd be all for it, but I rather suspect Craig "I'm a judge, for fuck's sake!" Revel-Horwood would be the victim. I'm always amused when Tess asks, "Which of our couples will be FORCED into a DANCE-OFF?" as I picture them being made to dance at gunpoint. [Or maybe in enchanted shoes that force you to dance? - Steve] Don't worry, we're not in that dystopian future yet.

Coming up, for your delectation (or maybe not): a performance from the World Latin Formation Champions, as well as an Argentine tango from Vincent and Flavia, and a song from Cliff Richard; "my liege", as Brucie addresses him, although I'm not quite sure why. But first - recap!

Matt and Flavia were in last place on the judges' leaderboard with 55 points, and it's not surprising when Matt totally blanked out during both his foxtrot and his samba. Craig was "saddened". Backstage, Flavia says it's hard to pick it up again if it all goes wrong, but at least they have the samba still to come... or not. Flavia says she turned around and Matt was gone, and she found herself doing samba rolls on her own, while Matt watched haplessly from across the floor. (This bit really made me laugh. Matt: "I was watching you do the samba rolls and I thought, 'Yeah, that looks good!' - Carrie) Dear oh dear. Elaine Paige felt sorry for him, but Craig wasn't impressed - people shouldn't be forgetting their steps at this point in the competition.

Letitia and Darren did a beautiful waltz, and Jill Halfpenny thought Letitia "did a really good job". She tried her best with the jive, but the judges pointed out that it doesn't really suit her. Letitia says she was overexcited and her technique went. Bruno opines that Letitia isn't a strong Latin dancer, but Darren points out that the jive has garnered them their best score for a Latin dance so far.

The judges loved Alesha and Matthew's Viennese waltz, although it didn't get 10s across the board, as predicted by Head Judge Len. Backstage, Matt admits that he came over all emotional, and Alesha says she was scared but she didn't want Matt to know. Gemma Bissix describes Alesha as a "vision of beauty" and a "contender for the final". Their paso doble only got slightly more criticism, despite the last 20 seconds of the dance apparently all being made up. (This made me laugh too - Alesha and Matt in the TV Centre corridor holding an impromptu 'how to make up a routine when you've utterly forgotten your steps' masterclass - Carrie) Bruno says that, "Something went wrong but she carried it through and didn't collapse" - unlike some people, eh?

Finally, Gethin and Camilla were in first place again with 75 points. Bruno thought their American smooth had the "wow factor", and backstage Gethin is so shocked that he "can't even add two 9s and two 10s at the moment". Hee. Len says Gethin has gone "from good to great in two weeks", and Arlene thinks he was "born to dance". I think Arlene's exaggerating. Their jive got even Craig excited, but Arlene was booed for daring to suggest that Gethin's kicks weren't sharp enough. Camilla gushes at Gethin, "Did you just get 10 for Latin?" while Jennie Bond admires his "pert little bottom".

Bruce reminds us that last week he showed us all a photo of Head Judge Len putting his rubbish out, and this week he has a photo of a young Bruno in a posing pouch. Bruno pretends to be embarrassed, but then shouts, "I was gorgeous!" (To be fair, if it wasn't Bruno, you'd have to objectively admire the aesthetics. - Carrie) Arlene seems to disagree, but I bet she has a full-size poster of it on her bedroom wall. Bruce has thoughtfully had it framed for Bruno, who props it up on his desk. [I dread to think what we'll get next week. My money's on Craig Revel-Horwood's private nude MySpace pics. He's this show's Vanessa Hudgens! - Steve]

Head Judge Len thinks it has been a dramatic week, but emphasises that what happened to Matt has happened to every dancer there (all the judges nod wisely here - Carrie), and he has to get over it. Bruno says "last" "night" was like a soap opera, but he's got a pep talk for Matt and Flavia as well: the show must go on - if you fall off a horse, you have to get back up. Bruce has been n r blog steelin r jokez again, as he says, "That's not a nice thing to say about Flavia."

The couples will all have to do an Argentine tango next week, so Vincent and Flavia, two-time World Argentine Tango Champions, are here to show us how it's done. Flavia is wearing a weird flesh-coloured dress. All I have to say is that this is going to be quite a challenge for the celebrities - the footwork is complicated, and a kick or a flick in the wrong place could be painful for the men. Carrie texts me at this point to say that she's bored of Vincent and Flavia, and thinks Mark Ramprakash and Karen Hardy's Argentine tango was better. They're not two-time World Champions though, are they? Tut. (Bet they could be if they felt like it. Actually, that would be an ace as reality show. I'm bored of them being wheeled out every week for showdances. I'm sure they're very good and all, but they're not that charismatic that I want to watch them, to be honest. - Carrie)

Backstage, Tess asks Matt if he feels like he let Flavia down, to which the answer is obvious, but he says he "has to forget it" - no, Matt, that's what led to all this trouble in the first place. If you're in the dance-off, try to remember it this time. He's looking cheerful considering the situation though. Gethin really enjoyed himself this week, but very modestly says it shows how much work Camilla has done.

A quick plug for It Takes Two - a panel including David Ian and Bill Turnbull will be on, and also West End Leading Man (In Drag) Michael Ball. Whoop!

For no particular reason, we are treated to a performance by the World Latin American Formation Champions, dancing to a medley from Rocky. [I first read that as World Latin American Fornication Champions. Wouldn't that have been fun, pre-watershed? - Steve] A bit of somebody's dress falls off. Their syncopation is very impressive. Umm... Bruce says they were "absolutely wonderful... Danke schön". They must be German.

There's still time for a bit more chat with the judges. Craig thinks that "Gorgeous Gethin" and Camilla's performance stood out; he has "released the shackles" (some kind of unorthodox training method of Camilla's?) and he's "up there doing it". Arlene agrees that "Glorious Gethin" was great, generating "more heat in this room with his two dances this series".

Uh-oh, it's Old Leather-Face himself, Cliff Richard. He's singing sickly ballad 'When I Need You' - but I suppose we should be thankful he's not foisting his latest Christmas song on us. Anton and Erin and Brendan and Nicole come out to dance to it (because Brendan doesn't like Karen any more? - Carrie). One of Nicole's tassley things falls off, in yet another wardrobe malfunction. Perhaps they need a better seamstress. In the middle, Erin and Nicole dance around Cliff like some kind of weird ballroom fetish gentleman's club, and then indulge in some partner-swapping, before kissing Cliff's cheeks as a finale. Yuck.

"Our couples have been training for four months," begins Bruce, "and they're loving the whole experience." I feel some filler coming on: couples in getting on shocker! Alesha and Matt think each other are fabulous. Matt and Flavia "genuinely care for each other". Gethin has enjoyed it more than he expected. Camilla wasn't expecting to get a "new best friend". Letitia has been making Darren "laugh constantly" in rehearsals, while she feels "nurtured". Aww.

Finally, results time is upon us. What Will Happen?? In the tradition of Strictly, the results will be announced in a random order, with the person who was at the bottom of the leaderboard but miraculously made it through first. That's right, Matt and Flavia are through. I'm sort of pleased, because I do like Matt and Flavia, although their performance tonight was terrible, but I would have liked to see them in the dance-off just to see if Matt could pull it out of the bag on his second attempt. The second couple through is Gethin and Camilla, leaving Alesha and Matthew competing against Letitia and Darren in the dance-off. This one's a bit of a no-brainer, isn't it? It's hardly worth doing the dance-off. Even though Letitia's waltz was good, it's hard to imagine what would have to happen to persuade the judges not to vote for Alesha. [Gah. I was so-so-so-scandalised by this result, even if it wasn't a massive surprise. Funny how Letitia's bad week and near death from flu last week left the audience unmoved, but Matt doing a woobie face and forgetting all of his moves gets the viewers voting in their legions. And it's not even like I don't like Matt, but the very idea of Alesha having to fight for her place in the competition pisses me right off, I don't mind telling you. - Steve]

Nevertheless, the show must go on, and Alesha and Matthew are up first. This also means we have to listen to the singers warbling 'Memory' again. Elaine Paige must be turning in her, erm, seat. (I was watching this show at the boyfriend's house, who was doing some important manly game-playing on his PC. Usually nothing can stir him from his virtual world, but as soon as the music started up, he paused his game, turned round in utter horror, and beseeched me: 'What IS this? It's OFFENSIVE TO MY EARS.' - Carrie) It's followed by Letitia and Darren's waltz, and honestly, I think if the judges were actually making a decision based on these dances alone, it would be pretty tough - they're both very good waltzes. Alesha has her serious face on, but Letitia has a resigned smile on her face. She's had a good run.

We know what's going to happen, but still: Craig votes for the "near-perfect" Alesha and Matthew; Arlene never wants to stop watching Alesha dance; Bruno's vote is going to the couple who have "extra stardust", Alesha and Matthew. Head Judge Len's vote doesn't matter, but of course he agrees, making it unanimous. Letitia says she's had an "amazing adventure", and thanks Darren for "his patience and hard work and all the injuries I've caused him - it's probably a good job we're not doing the Argentine tango!" So Letitia is off back to rehearsals for panto in Ipswich. Bruce: "Are you the fairy godmother?" Letitia: "Yes, that's what happens when you reach 40." Letitia has been a great sport throughout the series, and we're sad to see her go. (Word. Thanks, Letitia, you've been awesome. - Carrie)

Join us next week for the semi-finals!

The agony of de-feet

Top 4 Couples: 8th December 2007

Last week: Letitia was ill, but still better than Kenny. Gethin got magically brilliant out of virtually nowhere. Tonight it's the quarter-final, and everyone's battling to make it to next week. This is Strictly Come Dancing - live! Eeee!

Tess Daly dresswatch: a dark violet floor-length contraption with a corset-style top and a quilted midsection that looks like a sleeping bag. Bruce tells her she looks lovely: "I had a bedspread like that once." Heh, great minds think alike, obviously. Tess can barely walk in it. She's also wearing some kind of gold garland around her neck. It looks a bit like a Christmas decoration. There's an extremely disturbing bit of business where Tess says that she and Bruce should buy each other cameraphones for Christmas so that when they call each other on Fridays to discuss the show they can see each other. Bruce says it's not a good idea, because he's usually in the bath. [I thought he said "in the buff" - but either way, ewww. - Georgi] And I know I could have left that bit out of the recap, but hey, if I had to live with that mental image, so do you.

The celebs and their partners come on. Flavia's dress appears to be staying on by sheer force of will. Letitia has a lovely turquoise dress. Gethin is looking suave in black. And in Kelly's absence, Alesha appears to have custody of TEH PINK SPARKLEE DRESS OF YEY. [I loved all their dresses this week (except Tess's, obv). Good work, costume department! - Georgi] (Alesha looked like a Disney princess again. I want her to be in a revival of Beauty and the Beast, not bloody Chicago. - Carrie) I love how Alesha always swings her hips in tune to the finale of the intro music. It's so cute. There will be a Latin and a ballroom routine from each contestant again this week.

First up are Gethin and Camilla, who seem to have gone first a lot this series. They will be doing an American Smooth first of all. They'll be dancing to 'The Green Green Grass of Home' by Tom Jones [because he IS WELSH - Carrie], which is Bruce's cue for the obligatory gag about horny old women throwing their knickers at the stage. "Follow my eyes," says Bruce, ostensibly looking at Arlene, our go-to gal for "horny old woman" jokes, before adding, "Arlene, try to control Craig." And frankly, after being utterly terrified by Craig's rendition of 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' on It Takes Two this week, I wouldn't put anything past him. Gethin says that Saturday was like an out of body experience. More like an out of shirt experience, surely? Gethin's dad, who is brilliant, tells us what a lovely surprise it was to see Gethin doing so well. Gethin's excited to have equalled Alesha's score last week, and to have possibly replaced Matt as the second horse in the two horse race with Alesha. No doubt Matt will be making him sleep in the spare room tonight for that comment. In training, Camilla is telling Gethin that now she knows what he's capable of, he's got to work even harder. She choreographs a lift for him, which Gethin is very excited about.

Their American Smooth is indeed very smooth, although I think it lacks the excitement and tension of their Waltz, or indeed the glitz of Kelly and Brendan's influence take on this dance earlier in the series. It's still a very confident performance though, and definitely demonstrates how much Gethin's improved during his run on the show. There appear to be a slight flub at the end where he reaches for her hand and misses, but that could equally have been deliberate. That's the tricky part of this show.

Judges! Head Judge Len thinks that Gethin reminds him of himself (LULZ! - Carrie), and that Gethin should stay focused and keep his eyes on the prize, because he's on course for the semi-final. Bruno thinks Gethin can smell the final. Craig tells Gethin he's come a very long way and congratulates Camilla and Gethin for their hard work. He calls it a class act, but tells Gethin to work on his hands. Bruno throws a wobbler at the very idea that someone would criticise this routine, because it's not like they're there to offer constructive criticism or anything. Shush, Bruno. Len shouts him down saying that he "always has to spoil the whole thing", and I've had this argument with Len so many times, I really can't have it again. My homegirl Arlene agrees with Craig, thankfully. She calls it "shamelessly sentimental but beautifully danced", and tells him to work on his hands, just like Darren Gough had to. Len says that if they'd told him to work on his "pigeon toes" he'd have understood, but this is nonsense. Because Len is the Head Judge, and his opinion is the only valid one, of course. Backstage in the House of Tesstosterone, Tess and her caterpillar belly asks Gethin if he enjoyed the lifts. Gethin said he was nervous, but he really enjoyed it. Judges' scores: nines from Craig and Arlene, tens from Bruno and Len for a total of 38.

Next up are Alesha and Matthew with a Viennese Waltz. Alesha did well last week, despite not thinking she deserved a ten from Len for her Samba. Matthew is comically concerned that Gethin was joint top with them last week: "I don't like it! Go back where you belong!" Hee, It's not quite "who IS she? Where did you FIND her?", but I'll take it. Matthew says it's hard to generate a wow factor in the Viennese Waltz. Alesha says she's working day and night [trying to make it sound like she's working hard, but since we only have about six hours of daylight, it's not that surprising, is it? - Georgi], but still doesn't feel like she's doing enough. Matthew doesn't think they've peaked, and that their best is still to come. Alesha thinks she still has "fuel left in the tank" and wants desperately to be in the semi-final. They're dancing to 'Memory' from Cats, which is being obliterated by the singers as usual. It looks a little bit flat at first, despite Alesha and Matt's obvious engagement with the routine, but about halfway through it speeds up and the choreography becomes a lot more interesting. I think Matthew was right, it is a hard dance to make special, but I think he's done a good job with the choreography here, all things considered. There's a wardrobe malfunction at the end where one of Alesha's tassles falls off. Bruno sighs, and tells Alesha that her fairytale is just beginning, that her face was telling the story of the song. Which is good, obviously, but y'know, what about her feet? Bruno points out that Elaine Paige is in the audience and is sure she'll agree with him that it was a magnificent interpretation. Hee. Alesha cringes and says she's glad she didn't know that beforehand. Double hee. Craig says they're absolutely stunning together and loved the tempo change. Hooray! Arlene tells them that they turn a simple dance into a magical memory. She says she "has a little but", and everyone laughs because they're all secretly 12. Arlene gets cross at the silly boys and quickly tells Alesha not to lift her second foot off the floor in the pivot and quickly hands over to Len. Len: "If you don't get four 10s for that, I'm going to go home and pickle me walnuts." There is nothing I can say in response to that. [Surely that's just encouraging Craig not to give them 10 just to spite Len? - Georgi]

In the very empty House of Tesstosterone, Alesha tells Tess that the ballroom is the most enjoyable dance if you can get it right, but it's also the scariest. Tess tells her that she's had more 10s so far than anyone else in Strictly history, and has beaten Mark Ramprakash's record. Alesha's face looks nervous at this news, presumably because she's either thinking that she didn't deserve them, or that it'll all backfire on her horribly somehow. To which I say: Alesha, do not fret over that which you cannot change! As they go to the judges' scores, Alesha says quietly to Tess, "you're winding me up!" Hee. Scores: exactly the same scores as Gethin, from exactly the same people. "Shame about Len's walnuts, isn't it?" says Matthew. Hee! Alesha counters that it's an "amazing score" and chuckles, as she always does.

Letitia and her twenties hair and Darren are up next. Letitia is looking fully recovered from last week, which is lovely. Shots from last week of Letitia dry-heaving backstage, being looked after by Alesha. Letitia says she was quite pleased of her "little self" for managing to get through it under the circumstances. Letitia is determined to do a good job in her ballroom, despite having to rehearse for panto as well as Strictly. She calls herself "a tough old boot". She adds that it isn't over until the fat lady sings, before sounding a note herself. Awww. As funny as she is, I wish Letitia had more self-belief. They're waltzing to 'The impossible Dream', and their body contact looks significantly improved from rehearsals. My inexpert opinion thinks that the rise and fall is not quite right, but otherwise it's a very accomplished performance. Arlene tells Letitia that it's been her hope all through the competition for Letitia to come out full of confidence and dance like a star, which happened tonight. Len tells her she's never looked more lovely. "It's only taken 10 weeks!" says Letitia. Len says her arms were great at the beginning, and that he watched her feet and there weren't many faults there. He tells her she needs to lift her shoulders a bit, and Letitia says that it's "carrying these babies" that's the problem. Someone - I can't tell who, although it sounds a bit like Bruno - says that her breasts are definitely not babies, and everyone laughs. Bruno tells her she looked like Lana Turner, and that it was a beautiful Waltz, well-executed. Even Craig agrees, although he says that she needs to work on her spotting. Letitia says she was going to use Craig as her point of focus, but she lost her bottle. Heh.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Letitia says she has a lot to prove after last week's showing in the bottom two, but Darren says it was more about coming back and feeling good. Aw. How nice of Darren to subtly boost her confidence like that. He seems like a good match for her. Eight from Craig and nines from everyone else for a total of 35, Letitia's highest score so far. "We'll wait for the 10s for the jive," says Letitia, and cackles. Honestly, with her cackling and Alesha cackling, backstage on this show must be a very loud place. I wish I could be there.

And now, Matt and Flavia Flav. Matt's been busy this week rehearsing his leaving scenes for EastEnders. Matt's tango flopped with the judges last week, and he immediately apologised to Flavia for letting her down. Aww. Seriously, what is with everyone on this show and the total lack of self-confidence? Matt says that since Gethin pulled it out of the bag last week, there's no time for friends any more - he loves everyone on this show to bits, but he doesn't want to go home. My poor broken little Mathin shipping heart! Flavia says that this is where it gets really tricky, and Matt says it's mentally tiring, but he thinks there is still something more he can give. Flavia is more scared than ever. Matt made a promise to Flavia that they'd get to the final, and he's determined to keep it. They're dancing the Foxtrot, and begin by sitting on the steps rather primly. The routine starts well, but it looks like Matt loses it again halfway through, and you can totally see it in his face. At the end, it just looks like they've given up entirely as they go back to sit on the steps. Craig is saddened that it all fell apart at the end. Arlene asks if Matt's hurt, and he replies "mentally or physically?" Arlene meant his leg, but Matt says that it's "a little of both". (Thought Matt came across very churlishly at this point. Obviously he was disappointed, but it was hardly like Arlene was going to smite him - she was genuinely concerned. - Carrie) Craig says they can only really judge it on the first half, and that he doesn't feel like Matt took the responsibility of leading, it lacked rise and fall, and his knees were too flexed. Arlene tells Matt that he's letting his nerves get hold of him - she reminds him of his previous winning streak, and doesn't want him to fall apart. She makes some bizarre comment about getting Jeremy Clarkson in to teach Matt to drive in reverse, which I don't wholly follow. [Because he is not good at GOING BACKWARDS! - Georgi] Len says we're forgetting that Matt is 20 years old (is this the new "he's a SPORTSMAN"?) (Whatever it is, it's bollocks, because Louisa was 18 last year, and no forgetting the majority of two routines from her, as far as I can recall - Carrie) and that he's totally embraced the competition. Len says it's all very well people saying "just relax", but it's like when he's getting his prostate checked, and WOW did I not need to think about that. [I thought this was supposed to be a family show? Ewww. - Georgi] Len tells Matt he did a great job and it was unfortunate. Bruno tells him that everyone in the business has had a night where it didn't go to plan, and that Matt needs to get back on the horse [which is not a nice way to describe Flavia - Georgi]. Bruce asks if our actor will "get an Oscar for his Foxtrot?" which I, as a phonetic alphabet geek, get immediately, although it does make me think of how my sister says "foxtrot oscar" when the company she's in is too polite to say "fuck off", which is a meaning I'm fairly sure Bruce did not intend.

House of Tesstosterone: Tess reminds us that the Foxtrot is the most difficult ballroom dance (even though it's the only one Kate Garraway got right [but she was dancing with Anton "King of the Ballroom" du Beke - Georgi]) and Flavia says it was all nerves. Matt says he's done it right in rehearsals but he just went out and went blank. Scores: four from Craig, six from Arlene, eights from Len and Bruno. And I love Matt as much as the next person and want him to get his confidence back, but seriously: EIGHT? For half a routine? Do me a favour. Tess reminds us that 26 is a low score, and that Matt and Flavia will need our votes. (Len and Bruno are idiots. - Carrie)

And now it's time for the Latin round, so we return to Gethin and Camilla. Gethin suddenly found his sexy side doing his salsa last week. The judges babble a bit about it on VT, generally saying what a surprise it all was. [Personally, I quite enjoyed last week, when they didn't feel the need to put any pointless filler before the second round of dances. Alas, it was not to last. - Georgi] Gethin is jiving this week, and Craig says he needs to work on his hip action. Len says Gethin needs to work closely on his kicks and flicks. Backstage, Gethin's all nervously jumpy and he high fives Camilla before they go out. They're dancing to 'Knock On Wood', and I have no shame in admitting that's one of my favourite songs ever. I've got to say: this routine is amazingly infectious to watch, and I think Gethin's salsa last week was no fluke. The sheer glee on his face the whole way through is adorable too. Yep, that was a great performance. (Yes, have to say it was an excellent performance, but as I said at the time his legs aren't quite sharp enough for a jive - that's the kind of legwork a female celebrity would be slated for. - Carrie) Bruce points out that Gethin ripped his trousers in the dance; Gethin responds that "they melted". Hee. Bruno says there's no holding Gethin back these days. Craig is "very excited" and loved the routine. Arlene tells Gethin he's "cast off that cloak of modesty forever", but with her quarter-final hat on says that the kicks need to be sharper. Len agrees with Arlene and adds that he had "peculiar hands - like you, Bruno, going down Oxford Street". I feel like I ought to be offended by that, but, y'know, it's probably true. [Bruno points out that he's more likely to be in Bond Street. Hee! - Georgi] Backstage, Gethin wonders what this show has done to him. Hee. Tess asks Gethin if he feels like a contender for the final, and the ever-humble Gethin says that he still has lots to work on if he's here next week. Scores: nines from everyone except Bruno, who gives him a 10. Score of 37, and a total of 75 out of 80 for the two dances. Not too shabby at all.

Alesha and Matthew are next, and Bruce reminds us that Alesha always wanted to learn dancing as a little girl. Judges' VT again: Len says Alesha is the one everyone wants to beat. Craig says she's been consistently good. Bruno thinks she does everything. Shot of everyone backstage being ecstatic at the score for Alesha's waltz. Arlene wants Alesha's footwork in her Latin to come up to the standard of her ballroom. Bruno thinks she should keep on her toes because Gethin is snapping at her heels. Bruno reminds us that the Paso Doble is the most impactful dance. Craig says Alesha needs to contain her energy or her footwork will all go to cock. Arlene will be watching Alesha's feet. Len reminds us that every celebrity, however good, has always had a dance that was their nemesis, and Alesha's could be the Paso Doble. [Head Judge Len, stop being so melodramatic. Everyone on It Takes Two this week has been going on about how they think Alesha's paso will be awesome. - Georgi] Matthew the Sparkly Matador and Alesha take to the floor and their Paso is to 'Toccata and Fugue' [which I quite like the drama of, but it feels a bit slow for the paso - Georgi]. This isn't Alesha's best dance by any stretch, but it's giving me chills, I can tell you that for nothing. It's certainly very dramatic. Craig says he loved it. Arlene says that she knows Alesha felt it, but she wanted the "appelle" (the stamp) to be harder. Len loved it, but didn't think it was perhaps haughty enough. Bruno's on the same level as everyone else - a great performance, but could've been punchier. Backstage, Alesha cops to having totally messed up and looks guilty. I must admit I did wonder that while I was watching, but she certainly covered it better than Matt Di Angelo did. Tess says that they've never messed up before, and Alesha informs us that they did, their foxtrot which we learned all about on It Takes Two the week after, but that was covered so well that no one noticed. Tess asks how much they want to be back next week. "More than I love food!" replies Alesha. Straight nines for Alesha, for a total of 36. Their total out of 80 is 74.

Letitia and Darren are next. We see Letitia's j-word, and the judges all tell her she mustn't be nervous. Len says she's got determination, and likens her, perhaps unkindly, to a Rottweiler. Bruno says that the Jive is Letitia's chance to prove she can cut it in the Latin. In rehearsals it's looking a bit laboured, but I have faith! They're dancing to 'Dead Ringer For Love'. I can spot a few mistakes, but let me tell you Letitia is working it like it's for sale and the rent is due tomorrow. The Jive was never going to be her dance, I think, because it requires dexterity that she just doesn't possess, but I have so much respect for her for giving it her all. Arlene tells her she was warm and bubbly from the waist up, but a "jiving junk" from the waist down. (Srsly, Arlene, there is such a thing as too much alliteration. - Carrie) Len says it was a spirited attempt, but it's the dance that doesn't suit her, as mentioned earlier. Bruno says that rather than being a dead ringer, it was a "looky-likey" of a jive. Hee. Craig thinks it overwhelmed her, but Letitia gave it a good go all the same. "I suppose a 10's out of the question?" Letitia asks. "Yes," replies Arlene. Bruce says they might get two fives. Hee.

Backstage with Tess, Darren says they really wanted to give the audience something to enjoy. I think they managed that, y'know. Letitia never expected to make the final four. The scores are in: sevens from Craig and Arlene, and eights from Len and Bruno (THE SAME AS THEY GAVE MATT AND FLAVIA FOR HALF A ROUTINE - Carrie), for a total of 30, and 65 out of 80 for their total. Letitia is very happy with that score.

And finally, Matt and Flavia with a Samba. Len applauds their chemistry. Arlene thinks his smile is adorable, but that one minute she loves him and the next she's bored with him. Len says that Matt's wake-up call was when he was in the bottom two. Craig says that sometimes Matt ruins a dance by falling over, which I think is a tad unfair as I doubt he was doing it on purpose. Arlene wants to see passion in his face. Craig says "he's young, he's funky, he's hip", sounding a bit like Louis Walsh. ["I love him, and the public love him as well!" - Georgi] Arlene says there can be no excuses - Matt's future in the show is on the line. Their Samba is to 'Blame It On The Boogie', and it's a lot better than their Foxtrot, but there are moments again where it looks rather awkward. Len tells Matt that nerves have done him in, that he messed up an entire section, that the roll was bad. Bruno says that they don't look for the bad, but that Matt messed it up. Craig says that he saw Matt counting all the way through, and that it was flat-footed, and that the timing was out. Len bitches Craig out for not saying anything positive, saying "you are here to encourage, not criticise." HE'S HERE TO FUCKING JUDGE, FOR THE EIGHTY-NINTH GODDAMN TIME. Which is what Craig tells Len, slightly less angrily. [Can we vote for Craig as new Head Judge? Len's critical faculty seems to have totally deserted him this series. - Georgi] Len tells Craig he's got on his nerves tonight. Bruce tells Len "not to do an Osbourne and walk out". HA! Arlene says that Matt came out and was dancing and came back, but it all fell apart during the Samba rolls, and she wishes she could give him what it takes to prove he can dance, because he can. Backstage, Matt says that they really do want to be here, and he hopes they can be excused tonight and get a pass through to next week. Scores: six from Craig, seven from Arlene, eights from Len and Bruno, for a total of 29. Matt apologises to Flavia again. Their total is 55 out of 80.

So Gethin and Camilla top the leaderboard, while Matt and Flavia languish at the bottom. Bruce and Tess exhort us to get voting. "Tomorrow", we'll be joined by Cliff Richard(!), and Vincent and Flavia will do an Argentine Tango showdance. [Again? Give someone else a chance for a showdance! Flavia needs to spend more time rehearsing with Matt. At least they're tango-ing this week, though. - Georgi] Obligatory Robin Hood joke: Bruce threatens to set his archers on Robin, and the theme tune from everyone's favourite agricultural-themed radio soap opera plays. And we're out!

Monday, 3 December 2007

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

- Kenny is under the impression that he is a "winner".

- Kenny and Ola are fond of the word "journey" in a non-ironic way.

- Letitia is an incredibly good sport (not that we didn't know that already). On the phone from Ipswich, she joked that she was "so delirious" on Saturday that she thought she'd got four 10s for her cha-cha-cha. Then at the end, just as she was saying goodbye to Claudia, she yelped "ow, Darren, stop it! That really hurts!" Claudia's "umm....okay. Anyway..." face was an absolute picture.

- Superfan Pauline Quirke introduced us to the verb "to ten", for example "they were just tenning all over the place".

- Erin reckons Gethin has an advantage with his posture because he has learnt the violin for years.

- Matthew turned up in the studio on Tuesday looking a bit like a Mafia gangster in a black pin-striped suit.

- Paul Whitehouse and his daughter Lauren were the Superfans on Wednesday, because someone appears to think we're interested in the embarrassed stage-struck monosyllables of an eight-year-old. Although it was nice of Whitehouse to say that Alesha is a wonderful human being. And that Craig is his favourite judge. And that Len overmarks people because he wants them to like him. Heh.

- Matt had his chest out in the studio on Tuesday. It was unclear whether this was intentional or just a missed button.

- Karen chose John and Nicole's salsa as the best dance of the series so far. A clue: no.

- James took over the Craig's midweek report slot, and said that generally he does not agree with anything Karen says. Ouch. He thought Gethin should have got 80 out of 80 on Saturday. Hooray!

- Alesha has a Spice Girls t-shirt.

- Alesha flew in a helicopter to Butlins ("I've got a gig in Minehead!" and "I'm really looking forward to going in a helicopter!" and "One two, one two, in the helicopTA comin' atCHA!") and sang Knockdown.

- Marian Keyes is bloody brilliant. She reckons that Gethin has been held back by his job, because when he is being raunchy he suddenly thinks, "Oh no! Think of the children!" She scoffed at the idea that she could enter next year, because she wouldn't be able to dance with Lilia, but then reconsidered on the basis that she might be able to dance with Darren - "Maybe they could adopt me, and take me into their home, and give me extra tuition, and I could live with them! I would love that!" Having thought about it some more, it was a definite no - "I would be ten times worse than Kate Garraway, I would be Fiona Phillips."

- Darren's favourite dance of the series was Gabby and James's salsa. The least likeable couple of the year then proceeded to whine and attempt to elicit sympathy for getting knocked out TOO EARLY. Yawn.

- Craig SANG! He performed All I Want For Christmas is a fearsomely queeny fashion.