Credits - we're live from London - Bruce and Tess - you know the drill. Tess is wearing a blue dress with a strap on one shoulder and a disgusting plastic belt. Bruce makes a bad joke, referring to "filthy Forsyth and trashy Tess". This is the same old same old, so let's meet the dancers - Matt and Flavia; Letitia and Darren; Gethin and Camilla; Alesha and Matthew; Kenny and Ola. Everyone's costumes look horrible this week. Bruce and Tess remind us that Kelly's dad is dead and she will no longer be competing; Bruce says that Kelly was one of his favourites, and both of them look sincere and sorrowful.
Then they pick up the speed, because what's a dead parent when you have a competition to win? [Ask Niki. - Steve] Tess goes through the voting details, and Bruce introduces the first couple to dance, Matt and Flavia, who will be doing the tango first up. Last week, Matt's salsa sent temperatures soaring, and Arlene was alliterative. Matt claims to want to be the king of dance, and he wants to beat Alesha. He wheels out the usual platitudes about hard work and stuff, and now he has a day job to do, so it's all very difficult indeed. Matt does not like being sexy, but he wouldn't change Flavia for anyone
They're tangoing to Gwen Stefani's What You Waitin' For, and obviously the singers are crucifying it. Is it just me who gets distracted by the sheer aural horror, and cannot concentrate on enjoying the dance? [No, although occasionally they surprise me. I was expecting horror when they did 'Crazy in Love' last week, and it was actually brilliant. - Steve] This is OK, beginning with some ticking-clock arm action, but hmm, I'm not really moved by it. Bruce introduces the judges, and in the tabloids today, Head Judge Len was snapped taking out his wheelie bin. Len interrupts and says he was taking out Arlene's wheelie bin. Everyone whoops, except Bruce, who takes a few minutes to work out the innuendo. Len says Matt has improved week on week since he was in the dance-off. Yay! Bruno says that Matt is like a snarling young lion, and admires the performance. Craig thought they should have carried on the tick-tock stylisation all the way through. Boooo! Matt asks him what he means by stylisation. Bruno says Craig hasn't got a clue what style means; Craig says he is talking about stylISATION, and says he loves the modern music they used. Arlene likes fashionable music, but would have liked more staccato, and it wasn't as sharp as she would have wished. Bruno screeches; Head Judge Len says Craig and Arlene are wrong. He's really beginning to annoy me. Scores - Craig 7; Arlene 7; Len 9; Bruno 9. Tess says that she thinks the rumba - the dance of love - will be a "walk in the park" for them. What is she implying?
Later - Gethin has an acting coach WHO I HAVE MET, and Letitia cries. Yawn.
Next, Gethin and Camilla! Whoop whoop! Bruce makes an Arlene-dragon-Welsh flag joke. The camera backstage cuts to Gethin covering his mouth and looking amused and appalled. Because everyone keeps telling him to bring his personality out, Gethin has an acting coach this week. His coach is Peter Gallagher, who is very tall, and played Caiaphas in Jesus Christ Superstar in the West End. [But sadly not THE Peter Gallagher, of best eyebrows in the world fame. - Steve] He makes Gethin and Camilla act as the embodiment of the other's perfect partner. Gethin tells Pete, "When I do this [gyrating], who really wants to see this?" Um...? [Me! Me! I do! *faints* - Steve] Pete asks him in return, "Do you want to win this competition?" and Gethin replies, "Does Dolly Parton sleep on her back?" Heh. Gethin is now distinguishing between "Geth", who is him, and "Gethin", who is the dancer. And he's looking very, very rrrrrrrrrrrrrr while he's acting as "Gethin", even with his cute boy-next-door glasses. [What is it about cute boys that makes them even cuter when they wear glasses? I can't be the only one who thinks that, surely. - Steve]
They're waltzing to If I Were A Painting by Kenny Rogers, and bloody hell, this is amazing. Gethin is leading - leading properly - and he's doing all sorts of acting. His footwork is tidy, he's framing Camilla, and the head action is synchronised. Oh dear God, there is some caterwauling, but even that doesn't detract from the beauty of this. I really hope this gets great marks. Arlene says Gethin has demonstrated the most commendable improvement out of anyone in the competition. Bruce advises him to pack the other job in. Head Judge Len is in a devil-may-care mood, apparently, and says there were three mistakes which he is NOT EVEN going to worry about. Bruno wibbles about "the King of Romance". Craig is visibly salivating, and admires the beauty of the routine as well as Gethin's leading [although, unlike Head Judge Len, he is going to worry about the mistakes - Georgi]. Gethin gives a big shout-out to Pete Gallagher. Aw. Cutest. Scores - Craig 9; Arlene 10; Len 10; Bruno 10. HOORAY! Well done, Gethin and Camilla!
Letitia and Darren are next. Last week, Letitia was nervous and flaky and Arlene told her not to be. So this week, she has cried and sneezed her way through rehearsals. She is now the oldest person in the competition because SHE IS 40 [Was she not the oldest person in the competition when she was 39? - Georgi], but she's still struggling with the hip action, and Darren thinks it's a very difficult week because they are doing two quick dances. Weep weep weep. Sob. They're starting with the quickstep to Walking Back To Happiness, and Letitia is wearing a hideous purple monstrosity. I quite like this dance, because I really like watching Darren, but there's too much material floating about the place to really assess how good Letitia is in a restricted camera shot. Craig had issues with Letitia's neck, and felt the dance lacked spring. Boooooo! Bruce makes a spring-it's winter HAHAHAHA joke, and Craig is very sweet and just says, "I think you did a good job." Arlene babbles and gets booed, Len says nice things and gets cheered, and then suggests that she lifts her ribcage more. Like I said before, I suspect Letitia is hamstrung by the fact she's rather busty and it's DIFFICULT to carry that amount of extra weight on your front without hunching your shoulders. She looks like she's about to throw up [and then has to actually run off to throw up - Georgi], and then Tess informs us all that she's been vomiting all afternoon. Hope nobody's eating their dinner. Letitia and Darren share the details of their illness this week. Yuck. Scores - Craig 7; Arlene 7; Len 8; Bruno 8.
Still to come - Kenny being vile, Alesha being amazing, then everyone dancing again.
Next to perform are Kenny and Ola. Bruce does a Scottish accent. Tess VOs that last week Kenny raised his game; I'd argue that all he managed to raise was Ola, because his dancing was still beyond shit. Kenny PTCs something or other. Jonny Wilkinson is forced to endorse Kenny's dancing by Gabby. Kenny talks about his "look of love". I'm watching this with my friend Jonathan, who mutters, "The look of mugging, more like." He's right; Kenny's look of love is all sinister and squinty-eyed. [I just kept laughing at it - it was like Blue Steel. - Steve] Anyway, they foxtrot to They Can't Take That Away From Me. Well, I say "foxtrot"; as far as I can see, Kenny plods around the floor in flat-footed fashion, although he does remember to get on his toes occasionally. He's clearly concentrating, but when he sticks his tongue out to lick his lips mid-routine, he looks like nothing but a total simpleton. Bruno says Kenny led like "a giant on wings" and did a great job. Really, really not. Craig says it was Kenny's best dance yet. Maybe, but it was still shit. Arlene says random stuff about leg extensions. Len churns out his usual bollocks about rugby players TRYING REALLY HARD. Kenny wishes his mum a happy birthday, and I think it's rather insensitive to mention parents this week. Scores - Craig 7; Arlene 7; Len 8; Bruno 8.
Finally, we get to watch Alesha and Matthew. Bruce says that he's never heard Alesha laugh, and apparently she told him, "That's because you've never said anything funny." Last week, Alesha was amazing and shiny, and triggered some sort of embolism in Bruno. In retrospect, Alesha is worried about the pressure on her because of the 10s she got for her cha-cha, and she is struggling in training. She suddenly catches Letitia's wimpy wet disease and begins to weep in a cupboard of some description. Matthew cuddles her, and she tells him, "I feel blue." Aw, bless her. They tango to Jealousy, and it's good, but...can't help thinking Alesha isn't her usual self tonight. I don't know why. I did really enjoy the end, though, as Matthew dragged her across the floor. Arlene fucks up her attempted alliteration, but she's generally positive. Len says he is expecting perfection from Alesha and so he is going to mark her down for mistakes. So basically he's marking her to a different scale to everyone else, which seems markedly unfair. Fuckwit. [It was particularly stupid of him to say that when he said the exact opposite to Gethin earlier. Stop grading on a curve, Len. - Steve] Bruno is more toned down than usual; Craig admires her fantasticness. Scores - Craig 9; Arlene 10; Len 9; Bruno 10.
Brendan is wheeled on, and Tess assumes her sincere voice. He explains Kelly's decision to drop out and says he supports her, and Tess looks sad and understanding.
Time for the Latin section of the show. Matt and Flavia begin it with their rumba to Get Here (warble warble warble forced vibrato). She has a very pretty turquoise dress. I suspect Matt is feeling a little self-conscious, but yet again his posture and stance are both admirable. Craig is impressed by the story-telling (because his BACKGROUND IS IN THEATRE) [because Matt is good at "pretending" to be in love with Flavia, fnar fnar - Georgi]; Arlene is impressed by Matt's arms (because she LIKES ARMS); Len says he thinks Matt is great (because he IS THE NURTURER); Bruno says that Matt should lubricate the hips and demonstrates what he means (because he's a DIRTY LITTLE MAN). Arlene shouts, "That wasn't romantic hips, that was gratuitous!" Tess makes more hints about Matt and Flavia sleeping together. [Tess's interest in Matt's lovelife is starting to creep me out. And this from a person who's been mercilessly slashing him with Gethin since week one. - Steve][I am beginning to suspect there's some sort of backstage bet going on. - Georgi] Scores - Craig 8; Arlene 9; Len 8; Bruno 8.
Gethin and Camilla are salsaing, and fucking hell, Gethin is AMAZING tonight. He's got a see-through sequinned shirt on, open to the waist, and he's dancing this properly, all smiles and passion and throwing himself into it with abandon. Obviously Camilla's brilliant anyway, but she looks delighted to be dancing with a proper partner she doesn't have to worry about. Bless Gethin. Their routine is met with loud cheers, and rightly so - Gethin looks so, so happy, and the judges are beaming at him. "I KNEW you could turn it on!" screams Bruno. "You're turning into the Loin King!" Craig is in a state of shock, and tells them it was fantastic. Arlene likes a bit of hip action, and wants Gethin to reach up and out next week. Len hails the work of the acting coach, and says they will expect that week after week now. Hooray! Gethin tells Tess he didn't realise his shirt was see-through. Hilarity ensues. Scores - Craig 8; Arlene 9; Len 9; Bruno 9.
Letitia and Darren cha-cha to Drive My Car, and it's a bit lumpen and leaden, but as she looks pale and as if she's going to faint any minute, I think we can let her off. Arlene is critical but seems to be biting her tongue; Len says that she did well to sell the dance, but he doesn't comment on the dance content; Bruno is nice, and Letitia is about to burst into tears; Craig says it had good energy, and recommends that she make love to the floor because it will pay her back in great dividends. Scores - Craig 6; Arlene 6; Len 7; Bruno 7. Letitia is leaning against Darren and really looks very ill indeed. Go and lie down, woman. [I was so hoping for a Marie Osmond moment here - was that mean of me? I kept picturing Letitia projectile-vomiting across the dancefloor and not missing a step, proper little trooper that she is. - Steve]
Kenny and Ola take to the floor to rumba to Fields of Gold. I hate this song. [I hate Sting getting royalties. - Georgi] Kenny has his mugging face on. Ola is is rubbing herself against him, and though it looks good when she does such moves with James, Kenny is so very static that it appears that she's molesting him. Kenny does a lot of standing still, with the occasional hip twitch. Where is the dance, please? [Is this what they call "showcasing" Ola? - Georgi] Len says that Kenny TRIES HARD, and that as much as he likes watching him, there was too much Ola and not enough Kenny. Bruno says it started well, then he stopped in the middle like a bouncer in a bad mood, whatever that might mean. Craig says it was missing any real rumba steps, and Kenny was a coathanger for Ola, but the storytelling was good. Arlene says it was like "the pole and the Pole dancer dancing around him". She quickly clarifies this to make sure nobody thinks she is calling Ola a tart - "Pole, from Poland" - but Ola seems to be offended. [She really would've been much better off to apologise and admit it came out wrong rather than trying to correct herself. Oh, Arlene. - Steve] Len starts chatting about "Give him a chance, he's a rugby player!" Do fuck off, Head Judge Len; Arlene is quite right, it's WEEK NINE. Scores - Craig 4; Arlene 5; Len 7 (BOLLOCKS, Head Judge Len); Bruno 7 (BOLLOCKS, Bruno).
Alesha and Matthew are on last with their samba to (Reach Out) I'll Be There, and again I can't help but think this is a bit flat, somehow. I don't know if Alesha isn't quite as confident as she usually is, but there's not the overflowing joie de vivre we're used to from there. Anyway, Bruno is happily hitting the judges' desk in time to the music, so he's obviously enjoying it. Alesha complains that she has no saliva, and Bruce says he wishes he could get her some. Ew. [Although he adds "from a saliva shop", which is more tasteful than some things he could have said. - Georgi] Craig says that he could watch her all night, but the footwork was a little laboured; Arlene only wants perfection from Alesha, and that was not perfect, because she has LAZY LEGS. Len says that if Alesha had learned Latin American as a child, she would be a professional on the show. Alesha says she wishes that she had learned Latin American as a child. Aw. [I got all weepy at that. Dreams of what might've been, indeed. Although if she had, then arguably Mis-Teeq would've been about 68% less good, so I suppose it all worked out in the end. - Steve] Bruce says that Alesha could be the Beyonce of Europe. Bruno sniffs at the mention of Beyonce, and instead likens her to a young Josephine Baker. I'm not sure Alesha quite knows what he means. Scores - Craig 9; Arlene 8; Len 10; Bruno 9.
So, Gethin and Camilla and Alesha and Matthew finish with 74 points each, and are joint top of the leaderboard. Matt and Flavia are third with 65 points, Letitia and Darren are fourth with 56 points, and Kenny and Ola are bottom with 53. Tess urges us to vote, and we get a recap of the dances.
Bruce says that everything is lovely, but nobody is safe without our help. Tess brings to our attention some inaccurate captioning, but struggles to give out the numbers as she clearly has an assistant producer shouting in her earhole. [And yet is still infinitely smoother than Dermot O'Leary when he's filling time between showdown performances on The X Factor. - Steve] Who will be the ninth couple to leave Strictly? Join Georgi on Sunday evening to find out!