Sunday, 9 December 2007

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!


amanda50 said...

Brilliant review.I've been thinking Alesha would win by a mile, but am happy to see the gorgeous Gethin becoming a contender.I think there should be some kind of prize for the person who dances their cotton socks off in the sure knowledge they haven't got a snowball's chance in hell of winning.Letitia Dean - gotta love her!

CCB said...

Matt and Flavia's night was doomed as soon as they sat down on the steps. It may be a Strictly urban myth but routines beginning from sitting on the steps never seem to do well. They also took a risk with "Blame it on the boogie" and it's line "I just can't control my feet."

It pains me to say it, but I've started to come round to Arlene's judging. Her comments are badly expressed but her scoring is the most sensible and consistent.