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.