Tonight! The battle begins! Because the previous weeks were just filler to get rid of randoms who'd wandered in off the street! This! Is! Strictly Come Dancing! Live!
Bruce, Tess (looking damned fine again from far away - a navy blue gown with black net petticoats - but I'm not convinced by the swirly detail). Gag about Austin/Tom/Arlene lust. [Hott. - Steve] Cracking on, it's boys vs girls, so let's meet the couples, except you know who they are. So instead let's watch the first couple dance.
It's the teeny-tiny Rachel and Vincent. Last week she cried but danced well. Her brothers look and talk like the Mitchells. The samba is her favourite dance so far; she references Dirty Dancing; she chats about pressure, and mentions her journey. Oh, Rachel, bless your heart. She looks beautiful, anyway, in a jade dress, and they dance to Hips Don't Lie, which is obviously massacred by the singers. Anyway, it's fine. Nothing special, but it's tidy enough. [I have a feeling we're going to be saying that a lot about her. She's always technically proficient, but that's all there ever is. - Steve]
Bruce makes a non-joke introducing the judges; Len says the samba, like every other dance, is the most difficult; Vincent makes accusations of dance sabotage. Bruno liked the teasing but thinks Rachel should be more raunchy. Craig admires her placement and technique but was underwhelmed by the performance values. Arlene calls it a "social dance", and is clearly expecting either a laugh or booing, but gets only silence. Rachel reiterates that it was her favourite dance, she'll take the comments on board, and will try to do better next time. Scores - Craig 7, Arlene 7, Len 8, Bruno 8.
Lisa and Brendan are next. Last week they rumbaed and Brendan sulked about not getting 9s. Lisa weeps in rehearsal and looks stressed. "I feel like giving up and I don't wanna give up," she says through a strangled sobbing voice. "GOOD GIRL!" patronises Brendan as she takes hold. They're American smoothing to Monterey, and Lisa looks so beautiful, quite different from the over-tired girl-next-door type we see in all the practice footage. I really think she might be my favourite. My real favourite, not my Bruciesque "shit" favourite. [I was so pleased for Lisa finally getting it all together this week and justifying my love. GOOD GIRL, as Brendan would say. - Steve] It's all very sleek and the lifts are nice; Len explains for the gazillionth time what an American smooth is, and then hails Lisa as a good dancer. Bruno says words that make little to no sense about baths or bars or something. Craig hates to be the bearer of bad news but there were some stumbles in the first lift, there was some hopping, but overall it was fantastic. Arlene is drunk. Scores - Craig 8, Arlene 9, Len 9, Bruno 9. Brendan is finally happy.
Heather has an Afro this week and looks like Foxxy Cleopatra. She is from London and therefore would like to bring some of the Notting Hill carnival to her samba. Her dancing is a bit knock-kneed, and I don't know if it's just the hair or the way she dances, but there's more of a disco feel about this. Brian is all quick footwork, and Heather looks like a galumphing clod-hopping lump. "Lifeless, lacklustre, laboured," says Craig, and finishes off with: "The only good thing about it was the end." Arlene tells her off for letting Brian do all the work. Len says the salsa and the samba are very similar, and he thinks she is thinking about the steps more than the performance. Bruno says she looks the part but took too much time to get into it. Bruce tells them that they're his favourites, and the audience groan. Ha. Scores - Craig 4, Arlene 6, Len 6, Bruno 7.
The crowd whoop for Cherie and James. She has evidently absorbed sporting metaphors from her time as The Manageress, as she packs her VT full of footballing cliche and tops it off with a teeth-grindingly irritating mention of Fred and Ginger. They're American smoothing to the bouncy, folky version of Layla [Would Fred and Ginger have danced to this? I think not. - Georgi], and personally I don't think Cherie's footwork looks as secure this week, particularly when she's rotating. James looks fiiiiiiiiine, though. Arlene is still drunk. Len loved it. Bruno admires the elegance and precision. Craig wanted more pizzazz and then there is squabbling. James says something and there's queeny lip-pursing and eyebrow-raising. Tess patronises Cherie for a bit; Cherie talks about Ginger bloody Rogers some more. Scores - Craig 7 (at which Cherie and James look outraged), Arlene 9, Len 9, Bruno 9.
Mark Foster is wearing a mesh top, going down the time-honoured Ola route of flaunting your body if the routine isn't up to much. Arlene suggested an acting coach, but instead of doing that he's gone to John Barrowman for advice. [Don't forget he KNOWS HIS CRAFT. - Steve] The Barrowman makes him declaim the lyrics to Spice Up Your Life (which is what they're sambaing to) and they shout at each other. I do NOT remember Peter "Indeed, indeed" Gallagher using these techniques with Gethin. Poor Mark is just holding onto Hayley while she dances and wiggles to the sounds of cats being murdered to a Spice Girls backing track. [Bruce asks Mark, "Where were you swimming to get caught in that net?" AHAHAHAHAHA! - Georgi] Craig lusts after Mark's magnificent body and says nice things about the body-popping, but everything else was rubbish. Arlene remains drunk: "a trashy Hallowe'en party", anyone? Len likens himself to Mark. Ha. Ha. He reminds us it is difficult to dance if you are tall. Fuck off. Tess pervs a bit. You can fuck off too. Scores - Craig 3, Arlene 4, Len 5, Bruno 5.
Lilia has been making Don smile more this week. Don declaims his way through his VT, which I like. He finds lifting Lilia very strenuous; "it's just a bit shocking," he tells her. Lilia speaketh thus: "He will NOT drop me." Don calls her "very precious cargo". Aw. They smooth to a caterwauled Can't Smile Without You. I like the routine, and I like Don; some of his arm extensions are a bit strange, but maybe he is put off by the singer failing to hit the key change just as he's about to lift Lilia. Craig calls it adequate and comments on tight shoulders and funky fingers. Arlene is necking gin under the desk. Len didn't mind it at all, and says it is a very difficult dance to do once you're over a certain age because of all the lifting. Everyone boos as he has called Lilia fat by implication. Bruno says something about Don being an actor. Lilia says Don never lets his nerves and emotion show because he is PROFESSIONAL, which is an awesome burn on the blubbing tossers that tend to populate the show. Scores - sixes from everyone except Head Judge Len and his stupid SE-VEN!
Joke about Arlene sexually harassing Austin, who is dancing next with Erin and her new face. His daughters chant, "Well done, Daddy!" For some reason, Will Greenwood comes to rehearsal and tells him where he's going wrong. They're sambaing to Junior Senior's Move Your Feet, the introduction to which the band completely ruin, which throws them off slightly. Austin's samba rolls are poor, and though his footwork is quick, it's not exactly the same as Erin's. Arlene has descended into spirit-fuelled lechery now. Len thought the whole thing was very good, except for when he forgot the steps. Arlene interrupts to pick a fight. Bruno says something about whisking people into a frenzy; Craig says he likes the tightness of Austin's upper body "in a dance way". HA. Scores - 8s across the board.
Bruce makes a good gag, which is an event so rare I shall now reproduce it verbatim: "During the 1980s, Andrew was Britain's number one tennis player. Mind you, I was number five and I don't even play." Andrew admires Ola for putting her trust in him to lift her, even though he is an imbecile. Damn straight. They're dancing to You Know I'm No Good, which is...weird. He's still stooping over Ola and it looks dreadful, and they utterly fuck up the lift at the end. Bruno calls it "dazed and confused"; Craig has "a plethora of things that was wrong with that", and proceeds to list many of them, and Andrew agrees with him. Arlene says, "I'm hoping for a GMTV presenter that can dance! Don't let me down!" and Andrew smacks her down with "Not letting you down is the last thing on my mind. Letting Ola down is on MY mind." Len calls it a gallant effort, and admires the clicking. Backstage, Andrew says, "That's the worst we've done it all week. Never mind, we'll have another go later." Scores - Craig 3, Arlene 4, Len 5, Bruno 5.
Christine cried last week because people voted for her. She has been working hard in dance rehearsal, then she has to rush off to read an autocue for half an hour alongside Adrian Chiles. It must be a very difficult life. I miss Alesha. Matthew is all wiggly and smiley, bless him, and she just strikes me as more coltish than coquettish. Len says she did a great job for her first time dancing Latin. Bruno says that she has the requisite carefree joy but needs to improve her technique, and Craig says she recovered well from her mistakes. Arlene is mumbling and slurring. Scores - Craig 7, Arlene 7, Len 8, Bruno 8.
Bruce goes into a vague Rex Harrison impression before introducing Jodie and Ian. Ian laughs at her in rehearsal. Jodie declares that she is a fighter. She has a dress with wings, which are bound to make it difficult to dance when you are TALL. They're smoothing to Witchcraft, and I really like this; Jodie's another one like Lisa who seems a game girl, one you might be friends with. Arlene is incoherent now and even Bruce is stunned at her conduct. Len says something about elegance. Bruno mispronounces all his words. Scores - Craig 7, Arlene 7, Len 8, Bruno 8.
John is now going to samba with Kristina. Everyone is greatly enthusiastic about it. A samba group gatecrashes their rehearsal, while he is sitting quietly in a chair reading the papers. He looks quite excited. They're dancing to Papa Loves Mambo, it is exactly how you'd expect it to be, and he's obviously trying not to laugh. Bless them both. Arlene makes party dance/party conference gag. Len says he would vote for John if he were at home. [Because Len is the VOICE OF THE PEOPLE, in case we weren't clear. - Steve] Craig calls it dreadful. Scores - Craig 2, Arlene 4, Len 5, Bruno 5. John says he is not disappointed because he knows the public will save them. Genius. [Eh. I am so over John at this point. Stop being so smug and PUT SOME BLOODY EFFORT IN. - Steve]
Finally, Tom - WHO IS GETTING MARRIED TOMORROW - and Camilla. In rehearsal, he talks about his fiancee, whom he is marrying tomorrow. They American smooth to Chicago, and I am very taken with Tom's ballroom hair and new Acting face. He also has very shiny shoes, impressive footwork and finishes on a lift, so well done all. [Objectively I can see he's a very talented dancer, but I just can't get over the fact that I really, really hate him. - Steve] Bruno talks about spinning; Craig liked the charm and confidence; Arlene begins to sing It's Raining Men; Len says he beat Austin tonight. Tess reminds us that Tom is getting married tomorrow. Scores - Craig 8, Arlene 9, Len 9, Bruno 9.
So Tom and Camilla are joint top with Lisa and Brendan; John and Kristina are at the bottom but sooooo won't be going home. Join Georgi tomorrow for the results! But make sure you turn over when special guest star Katherine Jenkins is on!