Sunday, 30 November 2008

In the Bleak(ley) midwinter

Results show
Tx Sunday 30th November

Gosh, doesn't it seem like years ago that Jessie Wallace and Gillian Taylforth and Don Warrington were in this competition?

Anyway, we're in London, and we welcome our celebs and their partners, then our hosts Bruce and Tess (who seems to want to wield her skirt in a paso fashion. There is also a weird neck-tie thing going on, as well as a patent belt, and srsly, Tess, where has it gone wrong?). They enthuse about having twice as many dances and costumes (yay!) and twice as many judges' comments (boo! Bruce whips up the booing and hissing and then apologies to the panel).

Tonight we get two pro dances AND Estelle AND an elimination. AND nonsensical waste-of-time filler.

Christine and Matthew were bottom, with a stompy tango incorporating a loose spine. Christine says she really tried. Adrian Chiles says that she'll be thinking she let Matt and her friends and family down. AND THE PEOPLE WHO VOTED FOR HER LAST WEEK, surely? Dom Littlewood sticks his fucking nose in again and suggests that the taxi is waiting for her. [Feel free to nab it off her, Dom. Don't let anything stop you from GETTING THE FUCK OUT. - Steve] Tom and Camilla were fourth, even though Len finally got it up and gave it to him. Camilla is incoherent with giggles and screeching, apparently. Arlene liked Tom's samba shirt. They know they may have to dance again. Rachel went to the Ola Jordan school of costumiery, and looked lovely, for which Sara Cox hates her. Bruno offered Rachel his bull; Len doesn't like Messing Abaaaaaaht. Rachel is nervous but hopes she will get kept in; Vincent hopes that even if the viewers don't keep Rachel in, they will keep him in. Heh. Austin was fired up because Craig told him he had sickled feet, and then did Riverdance at the start of the paso, which made Sara Cox laugh. THE FONZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "His bullfighter! I thought he was Spanish!" says the Fonz. What? And finally, Lisa and Brendan served up a buffet of gorgeous dancing, according to Len. Lisa cried with shock. Brendan did not hug her because he is engaged now and is not allowed to touch other laydeez. Expect many dances out of hold in the future. Lisa's sisters are pissed off that nobody is voting for her; Johnny Vaughan wants to motivate the stealthy male vote for Lisa. The Fonz says Lisa's cha-cha is the reason you go to see the dance. Lionel Blair thinks all five are terrific.

Bruce says, "It wasn't that good, but it was a lovely evening." Heh. Now time for a stupid skit where Bruce asks Len questions and the answers are "Sev-UUNNNN!" Everyone laughs. I do not. We finally get to the meat of the matter, and Len says there were some fantastic performances "last" "night", and these are the best five couples we have ever had. [Best four, anyway. - Georgi] [I can't even agree with that - I'm kind of bored with everyone who's left. They're all competent, but I'm not especially invested in any of them. - Steve] Bruno says Lisa rose to the challenge. Backstage, her jaw drops open, and Tom paws at her in congratulation. Craig says that Austin and Erin deserve to go through to next week because of the rugbiliciousness. "It is not often I get one of my tens out," he says, and everyone whoops. "I don't MEAN that," he puts in, but it is too late. Arlene is disappointed in Christine's shitness, when Lisa also used to be as inept as her and has improved. [Maybe it's just me, but I don't remember Lisa being that inept to start with. - Georgi] "It can't all be about smiling," she concludes, and everyone boos.

Now Darren and Lilia are doing a Latin medley. Lilia is wearing a bikini with a cockerel's comb tacked onto the side of the bottoms. Everyone claps along. Drink! Backstage, Tess declares it the dress of the series - "I thought she was going to lay an egg." Nobody laughs. Crashing on, Lisa doesn't feel safe still. Tom got HIS FIRST TEN but is still dangerously close to the bottom of the leaderboard. He requests the name and number of a good therapist. [I'm in favour of this - Tom can spend as much time as he likes talking about himself when he's paying someone to listen. - Steve] Tess tells Christine to keep smiling, and Christine whines about Arlene not wanting her to, which isn't what she said at all. Christine vows to work very hard if she gets through. Tom interrupts to say that he doesn't know how Christine and Lisa manage because they have day jobs, and the rest of them don't. HA. [I'm sure reading autocue for an hour every evening is exhausting. I agree about Lisa though. - Georgi] [SHUT UP, TOM. NOBODY ASKED YOU. GOD. - Steve]

Another pro dance. Anton is dancing with Flavia again; Karen is dancing with Brian; and Darren and Lilia are there too. OMG, then the music changes to Are You Gonna Be My Girl and Ola and James scoot on and then it's a bit like a quickstep-off - who can do the most energetic crazy footwork? If it were judged on crazy faces, obviously Karen would win. And bloody hell, the singers are CRUCIFYING this. Applause.

Bruce thanks the pros and then is in the audience talking to Elaine Paige whose hair looks like Eoghan's. She reckons everyone is fantastic, and unlike Len is very impressed by "Austin's contents". Heh. Her dream dance partner would be Vincent. Oh. My. God. Can you IMAGINE? Vincent sits backstage looking smug. Then Bruce turns round to talk to Louisa Lytton, who is jealous of Rachel for dancing with her boy. And then that's pretty much it.

Tess is talking to THE FONZ!!!!! He is very lovely. They flirt a bit. He says if he combined Rachel's two dances, he would give her about a thousand. That...doesn't make sense. [It makes mores sense than most of the scores Len's given out this year. - Steve] Tess thanks him, and he asks if she will stay sitting with him. Ha.

On It Takes Two this week...nothing, it looks like.

Bruce introduces our special guest, Estelle, performing American Boy. Obviously Brian is our Leading Man here [Did he graduate from the Brian Friedman school of Literal Choreography? - Georgi], with Ola, Karen, and Flavia, and James seems to be having some kind of duel via the medium of dance with him? I don't know. Estelle's vocals are really ropy. Perhaps she could join the Wonderful Strictly Singers.

Filler VT - not about how nobody wants to go home this time, but lots of talking heads of the dancers' families. Austin has put his life on hold; Tom doesn't want to go now; Lisa's sisters get upset - "her pain is OUR PAIN". Lisa keeps crying at her dad. Everyone in NORTHERN IRELAND is so proud of Christine. Rachel's grandma Pearl couldn't be prouder of her. Aw.

Our votes have been counted and verified, and it's the Moment of Truth. The three couples definitely through to next week - Tom and Camilla (who gets squished in a crazy bear hug); Austin and Erin; and Lisa and Brendan. That was really mean to leave Lisa till last. [Mean, but funny. I like Lisa, but it amused me that they were blatantly trying to scare the shit out of her. - Steve]

Len tells Rachel and Vincent to stay focused and dance like they did last time, and tells Christine to sort her posture out. Rachel and Vincent dance first; Christine and Matthew are second, and she really doesn't have the courage of her convictions with each move - she never seems quite sure where she's going. Anyway, I'm fairly sure we all know where this is going.

Over to the judges - Craig says both couples danced their hearts out, but he saves Rachel and Vincent; Arlene was concentrating so hard and urging both couples on, but has to save Rachel and Vincent; Bruno does a strange lopsided sardonic smile, and says it is hard for people to leave the show, but the couple who stood out was Rachel and Vincent.

So Christine and Matthew are out, and there is much hugging and kissing. Len would have agreed with the others. Christine laughs, and says she thought she would go in the first week. Bruce hopes Adrian Chiles doesn't sack her. Christine will miss Matthew more than anything, and then says that Len is her favourite judge. What the fuck?

They dance out to Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, incorporating an Irish jig. Vincent is crying like a baby. This show is so bizarre tonight, bitches. Anyway, that was the right result. Join us next week!

The summit of Snowdon

Week 11
TX: 29th November 2008

Wow, how awesome is that BBC HD trail where Fiona Bruce dives through the air in slow-mo to rescue a priceless antique from certain doom? Not that that's relevant to Strictly Come Dancing at all, but I just thought I'd mention it.

Last time: Rachel broke all kinds of records by getting 40 for her Foxtrot, while Jodie and Lisa battled it out in the best dance-off ever, which ended up in Jodie getting the boot, which was sad but not hugely surprising. I miss Jodie. This week: everyone has to perform two dances! Lisa is going to fight for her place! Austin is going to aim to be top of the leaderboard! Tom is on a mission (to get a ten, as we've all heard ad nauseum this week)! This is Strictly Come Dancing! Live!

There is Bruce, and of course there is Tess, and there is their obligatory bobbins routine to open the show. Daly Dresswatch: it's very red, and extremely saggy under the bosom, with a sort of rosette on the right shoulder. I'm not loving this one, to be frank. [I thought she looked frumpy/ Poor Tess. - Georgi] It is nice to see us, to see us nice. Tess asks Bruce if he's feeling better, and he says that he's a bit better, but it's doing the rounds - Jodie had it, Tom's got it, he's got it. Tess says there's a lot of flu around, and Bruce says it's not flu, it's Saturday night fever. Arf arf arf. Then Bruce jokes about being ready to die, and it's all a bit odd.

Shall we move on to matters less morbid? Yes, let's. Here are our couples: Tom and Camilla, Christine and Matthew, Lisa and Brendan, Austin and Erin, and Rachel and Vincent. Rachel does a bit of an Alesha-style boogie to the music. Oh, Rachel. It's far too late to start pretending to have a personality now, dear.

Tess reminds us that each couple will be performing one ballroom and one Latin dance this evening, and Bruce reminds us that the two with the lowest combined score will be in tomorrow's dance-off.

Rachel and Vincent are on first, and there's a bit where Bruce pretends that Rachel implied 'Greensleeves' was music from his youth. This doesn't work as a gag, really, because 'Greensleeves' is music from my youth (I remember learning to play it on the recorder!), but that doesn't mean I was born at the time it was written. Why am I spending so much time analysing a throwaway gag? I have no idea. Anyway, Bruce is not doddery, etc etc.

Rachel says in her VT there is no room for error at this stage, and we relive the awesome moment from last week when Craig whipped out his ten and Rachel almost had a seizure. Backstage, we see them being "literally on cloud nine", which looks a lot like the corridor outside Studio One. Their Latin will be the Paso, which requires Rachel to be fiery, something she's struggling with. First, however, they have a waltz. In rehearsals, Vincent wears a white bowtie with his t-shirt. Okay then. Rachel wants to make Vincent proud by getting to the quarter-finals, and dries up and sheds a single perfect tear.

Rachel appears to have taken her dress from Ola's wardrobe, as it is almost entirely backless, and what front there is all flesh-toned and covered with sparkleees. They're going back to the "Rachel closes her eyes and rests her head on Vincent's shoulders" bit for their waltz, which I'm a little tired of now. Oh, it's to 'Angel' by Sarah McLachlan. It is a lovely waltz, admittedly, but is anyone really surprised? I mean, this is the sort of routine we know Rachel is great at.

Bruce almost forgets to welcome back the fabulous singers. Heh. Bruce says that because there are two dances this week, we'll be getting double comments from Len, double comments from Craig, double comments from Arlene, and the usual double Dutch from Bruno. Ha! That was a good one. [I am pleased that Bruce has moved on to make Bruno the butt of his jokes, instead of Craig all the bloody time. - Georgi] Bruno smiles beatifically at the slight on his communication skills. Len says that the judges are still expecting perfection from both dances, and he loved it - he would've liked to see more of Rachel's feet, but he blames the dress for that. He also likens them to a couple of mice who've got the cheese, which seems weird until you remember that "cheese" was one of the words that Claudia dared him to include on the show during this week's It Takes Two, with "taut" being the other. [It was even kind of topical, what with the mouse in their rehearsal studio. - Georgi] Bruno says Rachel looks and dances like an angel, and that her technique in this dance was perfect. Craig thought the shaping through the hands was exquisite, but the choreography was a bit stop-starty. Len looks like he's just inhaled a gherkin and starts babbling on about this being a load of old nonsense, and poor Arlene has to separate the two of them AGAIN so she can say her piece, which is that it was "one of the most soul-tingling waltzes" from this show, and if Rachel can deliver in her Latin, two words: Alesha Dixon. Fine praise indeed. Bruce asks if our number one singer can be a number one dancer, but Rachel never had a solo number one, and all the S Club numbers ones were the ones where Jo was on lead vocals, weren't they? Apparently I am very pedantic tonight.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Rachel is thrilled to be compared to Alesha, and Vincent applauds her for pulling off some tough choreography. Rachel is feeling the pressure of living up to her score from last week, but she wants to enjoy the moment. Scores are in: nine from Craig, tens from everyone else for a total of 39.

Next are Lisa and Brendan, on near the beginning again. Seriously, who do I have to sleep with to get Lisa on in one of the showcase spots? (Please not Len, please not Len, please not Len.) [Maybe the cute producer man we saw on ITT the other week? Worth a try, anyway. - Carrie] Lisa's second dance will be the cha cha cha, so there are the obligatory jokes about Craig's pronunciation. Lisa says that being in the dance-off has left her wondering if anyone actually likes her, and while this is a tad self-indulgent, I can see her point. She cries in her VT about Jodie going home, and poor Lisa really does have survivor's guilt. Brendan says that Lisa keeps doubting herself, and Lisa's afraid her cha cha may be her lowest-scoring dance. Brendan will not allow this, however. Lisa says it would mean so much to get through to next week, but she knows she needs the audience's support. Fine, Lisa, I will vote for you, if only to stop you being so needy that you make Tom Chambers look balanced.

Lisa's foxtrot is to 'Walkin' My Baby Back Home', and it looks great - it's very smooth, and largely effortless, and I'm impressed at the hip-to-hip connection after their criticism last week. [But it ended again with them walking along at the end, which I know makes sense in the Story of the Dance, but Brendan already did that choreographically once this series and I am bored with it now. - Georgi] Bruno tells Lisa she has improved beyond recognition, and says the advert was so glamorous it could be used in a Chanel ad. Craig says that Lisa is wasted on radio because that was uh-may-zing and he loved the out of hold sequence - there were two moments at the end where her feet didn't quite come together, but he loved it. Arlene points out that Lisa corrected her gapping problem from last week and has improved her posture throughout the competition. Len calls it "a smorgasbord of gorgeousness" and Lisa's best dance yet.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Brendan is very happy, and Lisa says it's been tough to stay in, but she really wants to stay. Also, Brendan is engaged! Scores: nine from Craig, tens from everyone else for a total of 39. Lisa doesn't have a Rachel-esque eye-popping reaction, sadly, but she does look fairly overwhelmed by the entire experience.

Next are Christine (who's dressed as Elvira for her tango, apparently) and Matthew. She was lacking in confidence last week because everyone else was so good, and was convinced she'd be going home because she was bottom of the leaderboard. Then she got saved by the public, and her "YOU ARE FUCKING SHITTING ME" face was truly a sight to behold. She's very grateful to still be here, living that dream. It's humbling to be liked by the public (Lisa is probably crying in the corner while listening to this). She's struggling with the salsa because it's so tough, and worried about the performance aspect of the tango, so Felicity Kendal CBE comes in to help her with the aggression. Felicity learned a lot about aggression when her agent put her forward for Rosemary and Thyme, I'm guessing. Either that, or maybe she bitchslapped Richard Briers once. Who can say? She tries to help Christine develop a story to go with the dance, and dances with Matthew slightly terrifying. Can she be a contestant next year please? I think I'd like that. Christine wants to do well to thank the people who're voting for her.

Their tango is to 'Addicted to Love', and, well, she's not smiling, which is a start. It's a bit limp, though. It's not as staccato as I generally prefer my tangos to be. Indeed, large chunks of it seem to be Brian Friedman-esque walks around the dancefloor masquerading as actual choreography. Craig found it not sharp enough (boo!), and it lacked tension and aggression - he thinks at this point in the competition it wasn't good enough. Arlene agrees - the body contact was there, but Matthew was moving her around like a ragdoll, because Christine doesn't have the core strength she should have by now. Somewhat embarrassingly, Arlene compares Christine's take on the dance unfavourably to Felicity Kendal's in the VT. Oooh, OUCH. Len agrees that she should be "taut" in her core (which will make Claudia very happy), and he thinks Christine's nerves are getting to her. Bruno says she needs to attack this dance like a black widow, and she didn't have the required strength - he calls it limp, and tells Christine the passion has to come from inside. Christine is, unsurprisingly, Bruce's favourite.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Matthew tells Christine that she did a great job. She says she enjoys it, and wishes she could put that across in her dancing. She says she hasn't lost her drive to stay in, though, so she's going to forget about this and focus on the next dance. Scores: six from Craig (boo!), seven from Arlene (smattering of applause, people clearly don't know how to respond to this), eight from Len (cheers), and seven from Bruno (confusion again). A total of 28; Christine thought it would be lower, so she's happy.

Fourth to compete tonight are Austin and Erin. Apparently Austin can knock a door down in one blow, as we all discovered when Arlene locked him in her dressing room, lulz. Austin was apprehensive about following Rachel and her perfect score last week, and ended up dislocating his finger. He says that he wasn't dancing well enough, so Erin grabbed his hand and twisted it. Erin laughs like she wouldn't actually do that. [I had the weirdest dream about Erin last night. I told her I liked her new face, and then we sang I Know Him So Well on the stage at my old school. - Carrie] This week they have a foxtrot and a paso, the latter of which Austin thinks suits his character. Austin is struggling to take in all the information, and his kids are teething, so he's not getting much sleep. Austin's wife is very pretty, but since she is not RECENT like Tom's, we don't get to see very much of her.

Austin's trousers for his foxtrot look rather ill-fitting. They are dancing to 'L-O-V-E', and it's rather lovely, if not quite as lovely as Lisa's or Rachel's. Bruce chides Austin for not playing in the rugby today. Arlene calls him "one foxy guy". Oh, Arlene. I do try to defend you, but you make it very hard sometimes. Arlene thought it started well, but he lost the performance halfway through. Bruno disagrees, but it's Len's turn, so he'll have to wait. Len said that it's tough because Austin can't give both dances the requisite amount of polish when he has to learn two in a week, which kind of flies in the face of his earlier comment about not making excuses for people just because they have to learn two dances in a week, but it's not like I expected better from Len. Anyway, he loved it. Bruno reminds us that the foxtrot is the most difficult ballroom dance, and he thought Austin's performance was superb, saying Austin led brilliantly. Craig said that people who didn't know would think it was amazing (oooooooh, burn), but there were a few small points that the trained eye would spot, like Austin's feet sickling at points, but he applauds Austin's balance and control.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Austin has lipstick on his cheek. He thinks that was the best they've done that routine, and Erin thought he was "a real English gentleman". Unlike Ruth. Oops, sorry, wrong show. Tess's ovaries go into overdrive talking about Austin's kids, who are called Betsy and Bebe-Dee (or BBD, or Beebeedee - I'm buggered if I know how to spell that). Scores: eight from Craig, nines from Arlene and Len, "I loved it - ten!" from Bruno, for a total of 36. Austin gives us a sneak preview of his Paso Face, which is way better than Tom's.

Tom "CAN I GET THAT TEN, ALREADY?" Chambers and Camilla are the final couple, of course. Tom has had flu this week, which he claims was a leaving present from Jodie. And seriously, if Jodie gave him the lurgy on purpose to sabotage him, that's about the only thing that could make me love her even more. He was pleased by his scores last week, even though there was no ten. He calls himself a "jack of all trades, master of none". Tom's and Camilla's lunch appears to include an entire bucket of Flumps. Wow. They have a waltz and a samba on the cards this week, and Camilla thinks this could be their best week yet. Tom hacks his way through rehearsals, and Camilla gets very strict on the technicalities with him.

Their waltz is to 'Moon River', which Alesha said on It Takes Two was likely to make her cry, though I imagine she was already quite tearful after she saw this week's midweek album chart. Their waltz is pretty proficient, but I'm just finding the music a bit diabetes-inducing and rather try-hard. I know, I know, such behaviour from Tom and Camilla is shocking, isn't it? Len says it was fantastic - he sees little mistakes in everyone's dances, and if he were to be pedantic no one would ever get a ten (pull the other one, Len) - when Tom lowers his supporting leg, his arse sticks out, basically. Presumably because John Barrowman told him that was his moneymaker last week? However, Len says he has TOTALLY IGNORED IT, and this total betrayal of professionalism merits rapturous applause from the audience. Shut up, Len. Bruno says it was romantic, but Tom's bum did sometimes stick out, and he demonstrates this right in Len's face. Len tells him not to stick his bum in his face lest it "go off" (and as much as I don't like Len, that is a fairly reasonable request), to which Bruno replies "ees not off, ees on!" and stands up again, bends over and smacks his own rear. "BOYS! You are a mess today," chastises Arlene, like this isn't typical behaviour from all parties. [I did laugh at this quite extensively, though. Len is such a twat. - Carrie] Craig makes a point of how he DIDN'T ignore the bum - he loved the rise and fall, but when he did fall, the bum stuck out and ruined the line. He says the line of his head was a bit sympathetic, which earns confusion from the other judges - Len, as is his wont, asks what Craig is on about and then talks over him when he tries to answer, saying Craig needs to go to the Betty Ford Clinic. [You're not in the U S of fucking A now, Goodman. Shut the fuck up. - Georgi] Craig demonstrates that what he means is that Tom's head was sometimes slightly inclined to one side. Arlene says the dance had charisma and control and was beautiful, arse notwithstanding.

The House of Tesstosterone is hilarious at this point: before Tess can say a word, Tom says he was talking to Peg and Dan, Clare's grandparents, before he came on. "Your NEW WIFE's grandparents," Tess supplies helpfully. He says that their favourite dance of all time was 'Moon River' (isn't that a song, rather than a dance in and of itself?) and that Dan said if he wasn't already married, he'd go after Camilla himself. That is quite an impressive playing of the I HAVE JUST GOT MARRIED and the I AM DOING IT FOR THE OLD FOLK cards, in addition to the I AM SICK and I JUST WANT TO GET A TEN cards he played in the VT. Lisa, you can stop worrying: you will never be more needy than Tom. Camilla says the judges were right to pick up on the bum thing because they've been working hard this week. Scores: seven from Craig (ILU CRAIG!), nine from Arlene (who's so horrified by Craig's score that she almost forgets to hold up her paddle, hee), ten from Len and nine from Bruno. So Tom finally gets his ten, but only after Len basically admitted that he was abandoning all attempt at judging fairly based on what he'd just seen. Excellent. [I felt that Craig would have given Tom an eight, if it wasn't for the fact that he wanted to compensate for the ten that he knew Len would give him, thus making sure Tom got the score he deserved. Take that, Head Judge! - Georgi]

Leaderboard: Lisa and Rachel in joint first, Austin third, Tom fourth and Christine bringing up the rear. Fnar.

Now it's time for the Latin, and Rachel and Vincent are back. Rachel is dressed in a way that suggests she's off to audition for the movie remake of I Dream of Jeannie right after the show. Their dance is to 'The Final Countdown', and begins with Vincent doing a lot of caping, which we know will not please Len because it constitutes Mucking Abaaahhhht. Rachel relives Vincent of his cape and throws it on the floor by the judges, momentarily losing her footing. It's not a fiery as a Paso probably should be, and Rachel's not really as imperious in her footing as I would like, but there's some lovely choreography here and when they're in hold, it looks amazing.

Bruno says Rachel has gone from an angel to a devil - he loved to see her going for it, though it wasn't as steady as it could have been. He thinks she could've been more precise, especially at the end, but she did well with tough choreography. Craig loved the flamenco hand-shaping at the beginning (me too!) - he would've liked more aggression at the beginning so that Rachel was equalling Vincent, and he mentions her almost slipping when she threw the cape down, but it was a brilliant attempt. Arlene loved the drama once the caping was over, but she felt the drama was not present in the face. Len thought they did what they did well, but as predicted, he did not enjoy the Messing Abahhht with the cape. He says there wasn't enough paso content. The audience mutters their disapproval at this, which probably causes Len to flicker in and out of existence, since the love of the people is Len's lifeblood.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Vincent is all "was that Rachel? It didn't feel like her." Tess, clearly not following, duhs, "who did it feel like?" and Vincent clarifies that it felt like "a different person", saying Rachel scared him. Don't overdo it, Vincent. Rachel growls at him, adorably. She says it was very different to what they'd done before - she had the fire inside her, but it was hard to put it in the dance. She knew it would be a challenge, but she enjoyed it. Scores: seven from Craig, eight from Arlene, eight from Len and nine from Bruno for a total of 32. That gives them a total of 71. They're hoping to still be here next week to do their tango.

Lisa and Brendan take to the floor with their cha cha cha, and Lisa has apparently skinned the non-human cast of Sesame Street to make her dress. It's orange and hot pink and all fringe, and man is it ugly. Their routine is to Amy Winehouse's 'Tears Dry On Their Own', which is an odd choice, and while Lisa's footwork is a little hesitant in places, it's another good performance from them. The ending is really lacklustre though, involving Lisa just walking away from Brendan and waving at him.

Craig says the modelling has paid off - she really strutted her stuff, and was fantastic. Lisa then says something that I can't quite hear, but I think she's describing her dress as making her look like a giant car wash, which is a pretty good description. Anyway, Bruce looks at her like she's from another planet, and we move swiftly on. Craig says he would've liked a better end, but that's his only criticism. Arlene says Lisa has tamed Brendan (drink!) and is delivering the best cha cha cha of the series, because she straightened her knees. Len liked that there was no Messing Abaaaaht and likes that Brendan gave up his talent to show Lisa's talent (backhanded compliments, yay!) - he thought there was too much knee-flexing in the New Yorks, but it was great. Everyone compliments Brendan on being Such A Good Boy this series. Bruno says Lisa has blown away all doubts about her Latin skills, and that was the best cha cha cha of the series.

Backstage, Lisa jumps for joy and says she's having the best time - the dance-offs have been scary, but she'd love to make it to the semi-finals. Then she realises that next week is actually the quarter-finals and hastily corrects herself. Aww. Scores: nines from everyone except Bruno, who awards a ten for a total of 37. That's a total of 76 for both dances, and seriously, if that doesn't keep her out of the dance-off, she might as well give up now.

Christine (wearing an entire Christmas tree's ration of red and gold tinsel) and Matthew next - Matthew starts leading her out before Alan announces their names, and then stops and looks back at a member of the crew just to confirm that they are actually supposed to go now. Hee. Their salsa is to Jamiroquai's 'Cosmic Girl', and begins with Christine's signature move of sliding between Matthew's legs. Seriously, he does seem to fling her from one side of him to the other an awful lot. The salsa is better than her tango, but my problem with it is that she always seems to pause at the end of every little bit of choreography, as though lining up the next section in her head - it just doesn't flow smoothly like it really should. It's a decent stab at it, though.

Arlene liked seeing Christine smile again, but she wasn't going through the balls of her feet to get the hip action. Len liked that she attacked the dance and wasn't overly careful. Bruno liked that it was flirty and cheeky, but she still needs to work on her core and her finish. Craig thought it was stompy, but the energy was good - at times the moves were lazy, but it was much better than her tango. She natters about being the underdog for a bit backstage, and then the scores from in: sevens from Craig and Arlene, eights from Len and Bruno for a total of 30, which gives her a total of 58 out of 70. "Oh dear," says Christine.

Austin and Erin are next with their paso, and this is awesome right from the moment they walk onto the floor. Austin walks to the centre of the floor and makes bull-calling noises, does a bit of foot-stomping and then does that move where he leaps through the air, turning around and landing on one knee, which I do not know the name of. "Olé!" shouts Austin, and the dance begins. The audience absolutely loves this, but again we know it will be far too much Mucking Abaaaahht for Len. I must admit, I love that Austin does lots of "ha!"s when he stomps, which really adds to the bullfight atmosphere of the dance. It's a shame more of this isn't in hold, because that's what it really lacks, but it's easily my favourite paso of the series. It ends with a couple of twist-turns and then Austin pulls Erin through his legs. The audience goes nuts, and gives them a partial standing ovation.

We get a shot of Len with his head in his hands, so we know how this is going to go. Len says Austin was like a Spanish waiter, and Erin's all "whatever, loser", which brings forth The Wrath of Len, who bellows her name until she finally deigns to look at him, and then he berates her for what he perceives to be the utter absence of Paso content, saying he's very disappointed. "It was all performance, and no content," sighs. Much like your scoring system then, Len? Bruno says Austin started like Michael Flatley and then turned into "the Lorrrrrrrrrrd of the Paso". He said he wasn't just selling it, it was like a giveaway. Craig loved it because it was arrogant and full of attitude. Arlene calls him "a little devil" and says every stamp sent vibrations through the floor - it was just what the show's about, combining the dance and the performance. That, and throwing Len into a hissyfit.

No time for talk, here are the scores: tens from Craig and Arlene, eight from Len (BOOOO!) and ten from Bruno for a total of 38. That's the highest Paso score on the show, apparently. Their total is 74, though Tess does not say this.

Tom and Camilla round things off with their samba. It starts off with a bit of hugely annoying business where both Tom and Camilla overact horribly, but this is at least mercifully brief. Their routine is to 'Mr Melody', and the actual samba itself is quite fun and enjoyable. Bruno declares it "camper than a row of tents". Craig thought the voltas lost a bit of bounce, and the whole thing needed containing and calming down, but he's impressed with Tom's energy. Arlene goes for Understatement of the Year by saying "sometimes you try too hard", but she liked the Mardi Gras atmosphere. Len found it repetitious and tells Tom he did his voltas back to front. I'm sure it still deserves a ten though, eh Len?

Backstage, Tess admires Tom's chest hair. [I admire the fact that he hasn't been henpecked into waxing it, like Austin obviously has. - Georgi] Camilla thinks they might end up having to do their waltz again. Scores: eight from Craig, nines from everyone else for a total of 35. That's a total of 70.

Final leaderboard: Lisa at the top, Austin second, Rachel third, Tom fourth and Christine at the bottom. This week's results should be interesting.

Video recap: Rachel's lovely waltz, Lisa's glamorous foxtrot, Christine's hot mess of a tango, Austin's nice-but-dull foxtrot, Tom's saccharine waltz, Rachel's shiny Paso, Lisa's impressive cha cha cha, Christine's moderate salsa, Austin's batshit-but-brilliant Paso, and Tom's bootylicious samba.

It's still not over, because we've got a VT of why it means so much to everyone: Tom says it's the best and biggest thing he's ever done, apparently including his RECENT WEDDING (poor Clare), and that it would be the biggest hole in his heart if he had to leave. Christine says she's the fighter of the competition, and she's not ready to go. Austin never expected to get this far, but every week he feels like he's closer to a dance-off, and would feel gutted if he had to go. Lisa remembers being a mess in week one, and says it's a dream to have got this far, and guess what? She'd be sad to leave. Rachel would find it "amazing" to be in the quarter-finals, and has made a great friend in Vincent, and doesn't know what she'd do if she left now. Presumably whatever she was doing before she came on the show, which seems to have been not very much.

In the results show, Estelle will be singing 'American Boy', despite having said recently how much she's sick of singing it. [We can only hope that Brian will dance to it. Again. - Carrie] Who will be going home? We'll find out tonight - join us later...

Monday, 24 November 2008

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

- John Barrowman performs all in black because it makes him look less fat. He also thinks people should vote for Tom because he's got a nice arse. Sadly, that's nowhere near the most ridiculous reason to vote for someone we've heard this year.
- When scoring, Arlene starts with a 10 and deducts as necessary. As opposed to Len, who starts with a six and works upwards.
- Jodie's exit has made small children across the land (and one or two recappers) cry.
- Len's been judging ballroom competitions since he was 24. You'd think he'd be better at it by now.
- Steve Guttenberg is doing panto in Bromley (not WOKING, sadly). (NB - The Fonz is in PANTO in MILTON KEYNES this year.)
- Len has spent 187 hours on a plane so far this year. We hope he's planting a lot of trees to offset his carbon footprint.
- Christine put her skirt over her head in rehearsal. Matthew thinks it would be a good idea; he can pretend she's someone else. But WHO, Matthew?
- If Darren were to buy Lilia a pug, she would name it after Colin Jackson.
- Rachel's brother couldn't watch her rumba. Vincent's face is, we suspect, very glad.
- Tom's wife thinks Len should get it up and give it to him. A ten, that is.
- Len's Dalek impression is deeply unconvincing.
- Darren is left-handed.
- Cherie thinks that Tom has a different face for every dance. She neglects to mention that they're all stupid.
- Alesha is possibly the only person in the world who can wear a sequinned poncho and not look entirely ridiculous.
- She does not like Robert Palmer's Addicted To Love.
- The Barrowman and Arlene do not think Tom deserves a 10. Nor do we.
- Alesha thinks she is not a good person to have on the panel because she likes everyone.
- Tom is ILL but he is NOT TELLING ANYONE. It is a SECRET. That is why Claudia and Camilla told everyone on Friday.
- Brendan has got engaged! Congratulations, Brendan!
- He is threatening illegal lifts. But he is evidently lying because his and Lisa's dance-out on Friday was obviously entirely made up.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

No Kidding

Week 10 Results
Tx: 23rd November 2008

From London! Not live! This is the Strictly results show! Welcome back the celebrities and their professional partners, and I suppose while we're at it, we might as well welcome back Brucie and Tess. Daly Dresswatch: short, ugly, mustard strapless number with ruffles liberally draped off the front. It's nice to see us, to see us nice. Bruce says someone has written in, after his triumphant double act with Anton last week, to say he should dance with a diferent pro dancer every week - Lilia, Flavia and Ola. Tess gets the punchline again: "But Bruce, you forgot to sign it!" We didn't all see that one coming, did we? Tonight we'll be saying goodbye to one more couple, Vincent and Flavia will be performing a dance never before seen on Strictly - I can hardly wait - and John Barrowman will be performing. Plus! the celebs and their partners will be dancing up a disco storm. First, time for a feature-length recap!

Christine's cha-cha was wooden - I thought so, it's not just Craig. Also, I hate Len, and Matthew says he's a bit scared of him. Gloria Hunniford thinks Christine might end up in the dance-off, but clearly isn't taking account of regional voting. In the judges' green room, Len says Craig's critique was "miles off the mark", and Craig responds that he was being generous. Lulz! Jodie shocked everyone by not being totally shit at the jive. Her kicks were lumpy though, I thought. Ian is pleased to have got through it. Steve Guttenberg says it was one of the best jives he's ever seen, which suggests to me that he may not have seen very many jives. Either that or the jives on Dancing with the Stars are all terrible. [True story. - Carrie] The singers murdered 'It's Raining Men', and Austin messed up his footwork, possibly because he had dislocated a finger. Mike Tindall says Austin's never been shy of showing off his body. Craig thinks they're in a dangerous place because he didn't "accelerate technically". Lisa and Brendan were good, but still in mid-table danger. Lisa feels vulnerable, "even in third or fourth place". Yes, dear, because third or fourth place is only two or three places off the bottom. Mark Foster says it would be a shocker if Lisa was in the bottom two. Len likes that Brendan has been less egocentric with his choreography this series. Tom and Camilla failed to get any 10s again with their disdainful tango. They look pleased backstage though, and Tom says he thought they'd get less. Clare doesn't like the judges' big buts. [I do, and I cannot lie. - Steve] Rachel and Vincent wowed the judges again this week, including Craig, and ended up with four 10s. Rachel's brother Leigh gave her a standing ovation, but nobody else did. Rachel can't believe their perfect score. Len and Craig think a boy is in the lead at this stage, Bruno and Arlene think it's a girl. Apparently this proves that anyone can win.

Last week Bruce joked that Bruno was doing his colouring book, but apologises because he wasn't - "He was doing his list for Santa, and I hope you get your skateboard." [I love that Bruno is genuinely highly lolaired by Bruce making him the butt of his jokes. - Carrie] Bruce asks judges what they think about the whole week. Len says that any of the remaining couples could win or get kicked out, and everyone has to focus because next week they're doing two dances. He hopes that the best couple win. Bruno says that to say this season is the most competitive ever is an understatement, and everyone's in danger. Craig was pleased that "For once I got to dust off my 10, darling". He thinks Rachel deserved it because the foxtrot has "technical challenges for the girl", including the slow-quick-quick rhythm and the "nasty heel turns". He thought Vincent choreographed a "subtle but delicious" routine. Arlene says that doing two dances next week will be their "toughest challenge, physically and emotionally". They've had a taste of it doing the group dance this week, and "Some are more able than others". But like Len said, she has one word for them: focus.

Now a show dance, the melanga, apparently a forerunner of the Argentine tango. Vincent and Flavia (in their guise as Argentine tango experts, presumably) are here to show us. I am Bored Now, and they haven't even come on yet. Vincent looks like an extra from Bugsy Malone. It is all very good, but what's the point? Are they going to introduce this dance to the show? The judges give them a standing ovation.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Tess observes that Rachel was clutching her chest like a proud mum during that dance. But how is Rachel going to top her perfect score next week? She talks a lot, while saying nothing. Christine is bottom of the leaderboard for the first time - how will she cope with the dance-off? She says that Matthew's good at keeping her energy and enthusiasm up, and she'll have to dance like she's never danced before. Does Austin feel he's in a dangerous spot, mid-table? Austin says that it's dangerous every week, but the quality this week has gone through the roof.

It's 30 years since 'Night Fever' was a hit, and that's as good an excuse as any for a group dance tribute to Saturday Night Fever, choreographed by Arlene. Carrie and I quite liked Arlene's choreography for Flashdance [especially the dancing scene-change people - Carrie], and I think this will be similarly of her era. [She choreographed the West End show Saturday Night Fever, and it was awesome. Arlene may not be the most articulate or sober of judges, but she sure as hell Knows Her Craft. - Carrie] [Just to pick up on that, I was reliably informed by a colleague this week that Arlene doesn't drink - like, at all. Who knew? - Steve] [Craig said that too. But she definitely clutches a glass of wine in the backstage VTs. And let's face it, if she's not drunk, that means these are her ACTUAL SOBER THOUGHTS that she speaks. - Carrie] In rehearsals, everyone's on their best behaviour. Jodie compares it to having a lesson with the headmistress. Arlene yells, "Get back here, Austin, and thrust!" which is something we know she's been working up to all series. Arlene is being picky, but she thinks it'll be a knockout. Here we go. Austin and Tom are dressed in Travolta white suits, and throw their jackets off. Then everyone else comes on. This must be So Much Fun, despite the sound of cats being mutilated emanating from the direction of the orchestra. Austin and Tom seem to be enjoying the Acting. The judges are all boogieing along. Bruce insists on a round of applause for Arlene, and tells her that his daughter always said what a good teacher she was. But, "Who got your temperature rising? It doesn't take much." Heh. Arlene replies that Tom's hips made her feverish. Len says that the two disco divas were Tom and Austin, without doubt, and all the professional dancers were stood behind copying them. Bruno thought Rachel and Lisa raised the temperature, and starts doing a striptease. Bruce nearly forgets to speak to Craig, and I'm not sure if that was scripted or just Bruce being doddery. Craig says that Christine's gorgeous smile lit up the dancefloor.

Claudia plugs It Takes Two, but doesn't tell us what's going to be on next week, because it can't possibly be as exciting as their one-hour John Sergeant special last week.

Tess is going to have a word with some of the audience. Felicity Kendal says that Rachel impressed her the most because she made it look effortless - which it IS NOT. Bruce is in the audience with Zara Phillips, and asks her about the rumour that she was going to be in this series. She said she did get asked but it's a bad time of year for her, but she loves watching it. Her squeeze Mike Tindall interjects that you have to be "old like Austin" to get on the show. Bruce flirts with Zara, ick ick ick. She thinks the boys are great, but the girls are right on their tails. Tindall butts in again to say that he's still supporting Austin. [Was highly amused at Bruce telling Zara, "Give my regards to your mother, it's ages since I've seen her", and then the entire studio audience laughing at the I-am-YOUR-FATHER subtext that Bruce didn't intend. - Carrie]

Now the performance we've all been waiting for: Star of the West End (but not for about ten years - star of the Birmingham Hippodrome panto, more like), TV favourite and acting coach extraordinaire John Barrowman, who has a new album out next week. That's Carrie's Christmas present sorted then. [You have RUINED the surprise! - Carrie] He's singing 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You' and there's really nothing to recommend it. It takes the efforts of six dancers to counteract the blandness. Darren and Brian are both dancing with two girls, which is just like in Take the Lead. Barrowman looks pleased with himself, and salutes at Bruce. Or maybe that was closet support for John Sergeant. Anyway, if that whetted your appetite, you can see John on tour in 2009!

It's Moment of Truth time! The four couples who will definitely be back to dance next week are: Rachel and Vincent, who look surprised even though they couldn't have ended up in the bottom two; Christine and Matthew, for God's sake; Tom and Camilla; Austin and Erin, as I suspected.

That means Jodie and Ian will go head to head with Lisa and Brendan in the dance-off. Len tells Lisa and Brendan that they did a great quickstep "earlier on", and they need to stay focused and perform as they did before. Jodie and Ian need to try and wow everybody. Lisa and Brendan are first to dance. Brendan bounces around on the stage waiting for the music to start. There's less gapping, so they've obviously been practising their hip-to-hip action between shows. I must say I love how Brendan is always choreographing dances to music from his dance movie DVD library. Now Jodie and Ian. I hate his singing along in the intro. Seriously, this dance has the cheesiest choreography ever. Jodie's kicks still aren't as sharp as they ought to be and her footwork is a bit too heavy.

Over to the judges. Who will leave Strictly for good? Craig says it was a spectacular dance-off, but his favourite was the quickstep, Lisa and Brendan. Arlene says that she was "palpitating" because it was fabulous, and would like to remind everyone to dance like that in the actual competition. Her vote goes to "the dance-off queen" - no, not Ian, Lisa and Brendan. Bruno says that "If you have to go out, you go out with a bang", not a whimper like Mr Sergeant. He thought they were two amazing performances, but one was brilliant - Lisa and Brendan. Head Judge Len once again doesn't get his casting vote. Jodie and Ian are out, even though they tried their best to get the sympathy vote for having flu. Len agrees with the result, and that it was a fantastic dance-off. Jodie has had a fabulous time on the show and thanks Ian. She says that she's made "some beautiful friends", the shallow cow, and has had an amazing journey - drink! Tess asks if Jodie and Ian will stay in touch, and she rather disturbingly describes him as "like my brother from another mother". The audience are on their feet for Jodie and Ian as they have their last dance.

Next week, the celebs will be doing two dances each. Until then, keeeeeeeeeeeep dancing!

Closer to perfection

Week 10
TX: 22nd November 2008

Previously on Strictly Come Dancing, tens were handed out as liberally as bottles of fake tan if you were Austin or Rachel, but proved ever elusive if you were Tom. Snerk. Rachel attained the highest score for a rumba ever in the show's history, and for once we didn't have to stick in the usual "EXCEPT FOR COLIN JACKSON" caveat. But of course, none of that mattered, because John Sergeant quit! So now there are only six dancers left, and they're all good, and the people who want to exercise their voting right to stick it to the those judges for daring to offer actual dancing-based opinions are shit out of luck. This should be interesting.

We're live from London as usual. Tess Daly Dresswatch: oh dear. Initially from the front it looks all right - it's a sort of giant purple curtain which actually hangs to her frame rather nicely, but then she turns around and it's like she's got a giant double-strapped black bra with a skirt underneath it. Len would give this a SEV-UN!, I meanwhile think it's a five at best. As Bruce and Tess finish their dance, Tess does a dramatic face that I can only assume Tom Chambers taught her.

Bruce assures us that John already has some work lined up, and I'm not saying this is an obvious joke, but I knew what it was going to be before he even said it: bad dancer, good with people, he's got a job on GMTV. Wah wah wahhhhh. As if our epic hour-long It Takes Two extravaganza on Wednesday wasn't enough, we now get a VT to explain to us how it all went down. I must admit, the sheer amount of coverage given to this was impressive, and the producers must have thought Christmas had come early - it was on Newsnight, for crying out loud. I wonder if Kelly Brook and Jimmy Tarbuck were disappointed not to get a televised press conference when they withdrew. Anyway, John's statement of "I might have won this competition" sounds less obnoxious out loud than it did in print, which is a relief. Incidentally, did anyone else see the article in the Metro which printed a picture of John dragging Kristina along the floor during his Paso Doble and ran an accompanying capture saying that this was John "saving the day" after Kristina fell over? I couldn't figure out whether it was a joke that wasn't funny, or just possibly the most ill-researched piece of showbiz journalism I've seen in a very long time, excluding my own. Anyway, John says thank you and goodbye, and we're out. However, Bruce promises that they will treat us to one last dance.

You wouldn't think it, but six couples are actually still in the show, so let's meet them: Tom and Camilla, Christine and Matthew, Lisa and Brendan, Austin and Erin, Jodie and Ian, and Rachel and Vincent. I've probably said this before, but the pan along the contestants clapping as the band finish playing just isn't the same without Alesha shaking her hips in time to the music. Mind you, it is brilliant that they put Jodie and Ian (WHO ARE TALL) right next to Rachel and Vincent (WHO ARE NOT) in the line-up. It's like the show's being broadcast from Liliput this week.

Tess lies that there is still no clear frontrunner, and Lisa is on first again. They seem to be putting Lisa on first or near the beginning of the show quite a lot lately. Brendan says that he knew the samba was going to be difficult, which is rather at odds with what he said on It Takes Two the other week. The judges bickered and Brendan had to separate them, and Lisa knew they were vulnerable because she hadn't been that low on the scoreboard since week one. Except Lisa didn't dance in week one, because none of the women did, and in week two, when she did dance, she was joint fifth rather than sixth, as she was last week, but that's just me splitting hairs. Lisa's nan Nora, who is rather lovely, says that she thinks Lisa was undermarked last week, and Brendan gives Lisa a little pick-me-up through the medium of NanCam on a laptop, which makes Lisa a bit misty-eyed. Lisa wants to make her nan proud, and also avoid the bottom two.

They're dancing the quickstep to Merry Clayton's 'Yes', from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. [Oh, Brendan. You and your Swayze obsession. Expect the use of a watermelon as a prop sometime next series. - Carrie] It looks good, and Lisa is very airy and light on her feet, though there is one moment where they pause in a hold and it looks like she's about to topple over, but it's fairly well covered by both Lisa and Brendan.

It's still not a good time to welcome back the "marvellous singers", but it is time for the obligatory joke at Craig's expense when Bruce introduces the judges: Bruno is full of energy, Len is full of knowledge, Arlene is full of charm, and they're not allowed to say "Craig is full of shit" before the watershed so Bruce lets the punchline hang in the air. And come on: if anyone on that judging panel is full of shit, look no further than Human Colostomy Bag Len Goodman. [I wanted Arlene to be the punchline - "full of alcohol" or "full of Botox" would both have worked. - Carrie] Oh, and the good news is that Craig's had a haircut and lopped off those rats' tails from the back of his neck. Hooray!

Since no one cares about the dancers who are actually still here, Len opens by saying how sorry he is that John Sergeant has quit, and wishing him well in whatever he's going to pursue. Political journalism, one would assume. Unless he's going to use his exposure from the show to found a pop career like Alesha did, or to become team captain on Hole in the Wall like Darren Gough did. [How about chairing a quiz FOR MEN on Dave? - Georgi] Anyway, everyone applauds Len's magnanimity and we're finally allowed to talk about Lisa: Len says he was worried for her this week, not through any fault of her own, but just because, but he thought she handled the dichotomy of the quickstep (lovely calm face, manic feet) very well. Bruno says that Lisa delivered a vintage quickstep and praises Brendan's choreography. Craig thought it had the potential for perfection, though it was let down by the gapping and the moment where Lisa tripped over Brendan's foot. Lisa claims that Brendan has one very large foot, and Brendan looks alarmed and says he doesn't know what that means. Heh. Brendan got the memo about protecting your celebrity at all costs, however, and takes full responsibility for it. I didn't even see it, so it can't have been that bad. Arlene liked how Lisa tackled the jeté, and asks them to go away and practise some hip-to-hip contact so they don't have that gapping problem in the future. As usual, everyone titters about how Arlene almost talked about sex, hee hee hee.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Lisa says the competition has flown past, and she wants to stay in because she's loving it so much. Having clarified that Lisa is not ready to go yet, Tess says "neither's Nora, your nan", which sounds rather unfortunately as though they're debating switching off her life-support machine. Smooth as ever there, Tess. Brendan says that the audience is electric tonight, and it's time for the scores: eight from Craig and nines from everyone else, for a total of 35. Tess says she can't tell if Brendan's happy: "I'm always happy," Brendan deadpans.

Christine and Matthew are next, dancing the cha cha cha, which is another excuse to make fun of how Craig says it. Bruce's extended gag (involving the words "char char charity", "gar gar gala" and "Prince Char Char Charles") is actually pretty funny, and Craig takes the whole thing very well. Christine was tense last week, but it didn't matter because she got three nines. She says she's climbing up the leaderboard and waving at the people above. They receive delivery of a bunch of good luck cards from a nearby primary school, so they pop in for a spontaneous visit to say thanks. An absolutely adorable little girl calls Christine "the best dancer ever" and Christine and Matthew give them a sneak preview of their char char char. It's all very cute. [Matthew is SO sweet with the children. I love him. - Carrie]

They're dancing to 'I Like It Like That', which just feels a mite too slow for a really exciting cha cha, and as a result the routine just feels very slightly hesitant. There's some good footwork from Christine at the beginning, though, and a very smooth backdrop. At the end some of her footwork gets a bit leaden and clumsy, to my (admittedly untrained) eye. [What got me the most was that her hips just didn't move. - Georgi]

Bruno felt that she didn't engage as much as he would like, and she lost her footing a few times, and her hip action was wiry. So again Christine gets the "top half good, bottom half bad" critique. "More more more, Christine, give it to me!" cries Bruno, to which Bruce replies: "not too much, I've got the flu." Hee! Craig calls it "disappointing", "wooden" and "sticky", but on a brighter note he thought there were some wonderful finishes, but it wasn't her finest hour. Arlene says Christine needs to feel the rhythm, and she was flat-footed, which is why her hips weren't on the move. Len's pulling a shitface at all of this, so we know we're in for shenanigans, and sure enough: "Don't it all get on your wick?" If you're referring to your shameless attempts at crowdpleasing and your appalling grammar, Len, then: why yes, it does. Len calls the other judges' comments "a load of piffle", and the crowd applauds, as if Len needs any encouragement. Len thought it was neat, precise and clean, and says that what the other judges obviously meant is that Christine needs to sell it more, and he advises her to whip off her knickers and fling them in the air. "Wonderful advice, Len!" Craig snarks, and because the rules on this show dictate that Len can disparage the other judges' comments as much as he likes but heaven forfend the road should run the other way, Len has a hissyfit worthy of Louis Walsh: he starts yelling at Craig about how he slipped that in as a joke and a bit of humour, and how Craig is always negative and never says anything positive and gets on Len's wick. This would be the same Craig who complimented Christine's wonderful finishes and said Lisa's routine had the potential to be perfect, just so we're all clear on that one. Shut up, Len. Perhaps when you've discovered paddles one to six, we might be able to talk about whose opinion is actually worth something. Bruce lightens the mood by saying that we had enough knicker throwing with Tom Jones last week.

Brilliantly, in the House of Tesstosterone, Brendan is leading the other dancers and celebrities in a chorus of "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!", which Christine gaily joins in with. Christine jokes that if she'd only known all she had to do was take her knickers off, and Matthew points out that at least they prompted some emotional responses. Tess reminds Christine that she's the only dancer who's not been in the dance-off, and Christine would like it to stay that way. Scores: sixes from Craig and Arlene, eight from Len because SEV-UN!! would clearly not have the desired impact at this point, but we do get a SEV-ANNNNNNNNN! from Bruno, who's loving not being the object of Len's ire for a change. A total of 27, then, for Christine.

In a brief intermission before the next couple, Tess explains how people who voted for John and Kristina last weekend can apply for a refund on the cost of their call. [Fucking selfish bastards. Send them down to the charity offices to demand their money back. - Georgi] Sadly she does not also give them details of where they can find a nice padded cell to sit in while they froth at the mouth about how it's OMG MEEN of the judges to award people low scores for dancing poorly.

Jodie and Ian are next, except Bruce calls her "Judy". It's better than Jelly, I suppose. Bruce calls the audience ugly and does a vulture impression - it's a long story. Jodie was amazed at getting two nines last week, even if they were from Len and Bruno, and she's thrilled to have the support of the public and the judges. Jodie says that the jive reminds her of dancing with her dad when she was a kid, but unfortunately she's had flu this week and spent two days in bed. Jodie's determined to deliver a fun jive, even if she collapses afterwards. "And you probably will," adds Ian. Hee.

Jodie leads Ian onto the floor by his sparkly tie, and they're dancing to 'Great Balls of Fire'. I have to say, this is much better than a jive by Jodie and Ian has any right to be - Jodie's a little unsteady on her feet, as you might expect, but she's surprisingly agile and really giving it some welly. Her kicks and flicks are good, and it's a very enjoyable routine, which pleases me greatly because I was honestly expecting it to fall apart for her this week, what with having the flu and being tall and the fact that Ian's jives are traditionally not great. Bruce hands Jodie a glass of water to stop her coughing, and Jodie is very grateful.

Craig says that "for a gargantuan couple" he was pleasantly surprised - he found it confident and tight, and he loved Jodie's toe-heel swivels, though it was heavy in the chasse section and there were some timing issues with the jumps, but overall he thought it was very well done. Arlene never thought she'd see Jodie perform like a great actress, but there's a dancing trophy at stake and the kicks and flicks have to be sharper. Len disagrees, he thought the kicks were beautiful and the whole thing was very fun, though he would've liked more change of places. Bruno was expecting this to be like a big marshmallow, but he counted all the way through and Jodie was sharp and on time throughout, so she should be proud. Bruce compliments the tall people on being able to jive.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Jodie needs more water because she's "about to die". Tess asks Jodie if she thinks she's a contender, and Jodie has no idea, but Ian is pleased to have their worst dance out of the way. Sevens from Craig and Arlene, eights from Len and Bruno, for a total of 30. Jodie and Ian are very happy with that score.

Thus far on the leaderboard: Lisa and Brendan are top, Jodie and Ian are in the middle, and Christine and Matthew are at the bottom.

Tom and Camilla are next, and Tom's VT is all about him being butthurt over not getting any tens. Despite getting one eight and three nines last week, Tom sighs that it would have been nice to have a ten. I feel sorry for Tom's future children when they come back from school to tell daddy that they got 98% on a maths test and he sighs at them that it would've been nice to have 100%. Anyway, Camilla has an idea for how she can make Tom into an arrogant ladies' man for his tango - she takes him to Holby General. As they walk through the doors, she asks him if it's strange to be back, which is idiotic because he only left about three weeks ago. They meet with Amanda Mealing, who is apparently a "genius" at being emotional and passionate at Acting. They reenact the locker room scene that I think we all saw during the preview show, which is so very Days of our Lives as she slaps him and they then make out. Camilla squeals that this is precisely what she's looking for, and as they rehearse, Tom asks her to slap him. Me, me, me! I'll do it! [You would have to snog him afterwards though, Steve - is it really worth it? - Georgi] They tango around the nurses' station, and Amanda Mealing jumps for joy. Tom says that it won't be Tom on the dancefloor, but Sam Strachan. Anything that means less Tom Chambers in my week is fine by me.

Their tango is to 'Please Mr Brown', which is an awesome song to tango to, and Camilla is being all haughty and doing lots of Acting. Tom is doing Paso Face Redux for this - it's not quite so ridiculous, but it does seem rather emotion by numbers. Incidentally, I was very late getting home to watch this show last night because of a meltdown on the London Underground network, but when I walked in and saw this, at first I thought they were replaying Camilla's tango with Gethin. I guess they have a certain type in mind when they're casting partners for Camilla these days. Despite the Face, it's a very competent tango, though I wonder what it says about Tom that Camilla is acting him right off the dancefloor. [I had the misfortune to channel-surf across an episode of Holby City last week, and Tom plays an arrogant twat, so I'm not convinced there's much acting involved. - Georgi]

We start with Arlene, who says it has "drive" and "passion", calling it a "gripping tango" and she's ready to see the sequel. Len tells Tom that he needs to lead with his body rather than his arms, but aside from that it was excellent. Bruno says that it wasn't just arrogant, it was disdainful,, I guess? Craig: "I wouldn't mind coming to your hospital for a little bit of slapping, darling." HA! I love it when Craig gets all rambunctious with the contestants. He loved it, but thought it lacked a few moments of stillness.

Nothing of any great interest is revealed in the House of Tesstosterone, so let's cut straight to the scores: four nines, a total of 36. But no ten, so it might as well have been zero as far as Tom's concerned.

Rachel and Vincent are up next, and we're reminded of the horror from last week when Len threatened to dance naked with Claudia if Rachel was in the bottom two. Bruce says that Rachel received 20,000 votes - all of them from Claudia. Rachel and Vincent returned with an awesome rumba last week after their bottom two upset, getting three tens from the judges. Rachel is thrilled, and can't wait to do the foxtrot. Vincent thinks Rachel's confident now, and having more fun. Rachel's friends turn up to rehearsals wearing pink tutus, and it all looks a bit like the hen night from hell, but it makes Rachel smile and therefore achieves its main purpose.

Their foxtrot is to 'Close To You', and while I can never really get excited about the foxtrot, this is beautiful - smooth, elegant, lovely. Len reminds us that he thought Rachel would never knock his socks off if she couldn't do it during the jive (because the jive is for SMALL PEOPLE, lest we forget), but ever since then, she's done nothing but knock his socks off. As long as it's only your socks, Len. Bruno tells Rachel it was "close to heaven" and calls it "bliss". "One word: fab-u-lous," says Craig. Arlene calls it "close to perfect, Strictly something special." I'd say it must have been good to render Arlene incoherent, but we all know that doesn't take much.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Rachel is having a great time and loves dancing with Vincent, and she hopes people enjoyed it. Scores: tens from everyone, and Rachel's eyes get progressively wider as each one's announced. Seriously, if her face had that been expressive during her early dances, she might never have been in the bottom two. I did think that was a teensy bit overmarked, but honestly, it was worth it just for Rachel's face. Tess confirms it's the highest scoring foxtrot in the history of the show. Yeah, no shit, Sherlock. No mention of how this is by far the earliest anyone has received a perfect score on Strictly, which would have been a far more interesting factoid.

Last but not least are Austin and Erin. Rugby jokes ahoy as we're told that Austin "tried and converted the judges" last week. He had the highest score of the show for ten minutes until Rachel and Vincent performed, which he is comically chagrined about. Their cha cha cha will be performed to 'It's Raining Men', which Austin notes is a song loved by women but not men, except for rugby players and Homer Simpson. Seriously, the more I hear about rugby, the gayer it gets. So Erin invites Austin's rugby pals to watch him train, and they do all that macho posturing about how much they hate it when he's good at stuff. Austin thinks that at least two of the judges will be dancing on their chairs (no prizes for guessing which two), and at the end of the routine one of the rugby chaps says "sev-unn!" Heh.

Austin mouths along to the chorus, and I think it's little things like that which make him the only SPORTSMAN I can actively feel compelled to support. There are still some problems with the lines of his arms, but his footwork is great and full credit to him for not getting the requisite amount of gay panic most men would get from this song. [He's an English rugby player. The sport is riddled with homoeroticism. - Carrie]

Bruno thinks Austin could be hired by the Chippendales - not perfect, but great fun. Craig thinks it's one of the cheekiest char char chars he's ever seen, in more ways than one - he loved the suggestive gyrations, but found it a little square of hip. Arlene loved the interplay and the hips, but she worries about his timid arms. Bruno counters that Austin has fabulous arms, and yells at him "take your top off!" I think Bruno thinks he is watching the Chippendales at this point. Arlene demonstrates what Austin needs to be doing with his arms and almost hits Craig in the face, so he restrains her. Len does his "oh, these morons" face, as if he isn't singlehandedly responsible for at least 60% of this show's bullshit footprint.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Austin reveals he dislocated his finger during the dance. Ouch. He loved the song, but says that sometimes he gets carried away dancing to it and forgets the steps. Tess says that she didn't notice, and Austin says that he meant in rehearsals, not just then: "that was perfect." Everyone cracks up, and Austin hurriedly backtracks. Scores: eight from Craig, nines from everyone else for a total of 35, Austin's best Latin score (though only one point higher than his jive). Tess drools over his pecs.

Leaderboard: Rachel and Vincent at the top, Tom and Camilla second, Lisa and Brendan and Austin and Erin tying for third, Jodie and Ian fifth and Christine and Matthew at the bottom.

The lines open, and we recap: Lisa being sprightly, Christine being lumpy, Jodie being tall and yet somehow still good, Tom doing The Face, Rachel breaking records all over the place, and Austin gaying it up like a good'un.

It's not over yet, though, because we've still got John and Kristina's last dance on the show. They're reprising their waltz to 'Come Away With Me' from week one, and if anything, I think it's slightly worse than it was the first time. Still, as a send-off, it's nice enough. John gets a standing ovation (though not, interestingly, from the judges). Bruce begs John to confirm that he jumped and was not pushed, which he does: John says it's been "strictly fantastic". He thanks his supporters for their kindness and generosity, and thanks the judges "for the extraordinary way in which they whipped up public support in our favour." Heh. And of course he thanks Kristina, who's barely keeping it together. He calls her "the best dancer in the world", which is sweet. Kristina thanks the show for giving her a chance to be part of it and pairing her with John. Wiping away a tear, she tells him she admires and respects and adores him. Aww. Or bleurgh, depending on your temperament. Bruce tells John he's been "an inspiration to us all" - yes, because now I quite want to see if I can be on the show displaying such obvious contempt for the concept of effort and commitment to the moment as John did and see if I become a national treasure. Anyway, Bruce concedes that it's about time John went or he would've still been here next series, and Kristina tells Bruce she's dancing with him next. Heh.

That's all, but don't forget to tune in later for the results show, where John Barrowman will be performing. Feel free to watch it on time-delay so you can skip that bit. There'll also be a group dance choreographed by Arlene, which should be exciting. See you then!

Monday, 17 November 2008

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

- Stop trying to make Brian Fortuna happen. It is NOT going to happen. His opinion at any given point is "whatever I think will annoy Craig the most", thereby making him not nearly as cool as we initially thought he was. He is still very gentlemanly and admiring of a lady's outfit choice, which endears him to Carrie. But then she fancies James Jordan.
- Len would like the viewers who voted for John Sergeant to be put in the position "to have to throw off those two girls". That's what she said.
- James isn't a sore loser, he's just totally fucked off that he didn't win.
- James's grasp on English grammar is almost as weak as Len's.
- Honestly, nobody at all would be watching the show if John Sergeant weren't in it, and it would be AXED because it would be all about DANCING which is totally BORING, or something.
- Lionel Blair does a moderately impressive Bruno impression.
- Mattesha's cha cha cha is Christine's all-time favourite dance from the show.
- Four Poofs And A Piano are desperately trying to convince us they're still working now the Jonathan Ross gravy train has dried up. Well, apparently. We fast-forwarded that bit.
- Despite attempts to reboot his character, James Jordan is still an ass.
- She may not be much of a dancer, but Kate Garraway is more awesome than you, I, or anyone we know.
- Anton thinks the show hasn't really been a dancing contest since Chris Parker made the final in series one. To be fair, he has a point.
- Austin and Tom did a quickstep together backstage. Try all you want, boys, but you will never be as epicly slashworthy as these two:

- Austin doesn't know the difference between "camp" and "homoerotic".
- Lilia insists on having a pug in every room for her house. Calm down, "pug" is not a sexual euphemism.
- Ian claims to have a reputation for being good at the jive. Steve's boyfriend begs to differ.
- There is no possibility of Len getting Claudia pregnant.
- Noddy Holder's 14-year-old son Jango has written lyrics to the Strictly theme tune which incorporate all the dancers' names.
- Gethin thinks Tom is a great actor. He obviously never saw the Paso Face.
- The dancers uses castor oil on the bottom of their shoes to prevent them from slipping on the floor, because it makes them tacky all through the dance. A bit like Tom.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Cherie baby, Cherie, can you come out tonight?

Titles, clapping, not live, in London - you know the drill. While we're waiting, I had the oddest dream about Brian Fortuna last night. It was very sweet, and I think it was triggered by his general gentlemanly conduct and lovely dancing; he's rapidly becoming one of my favourites, especially since his articulate appearance on ITT earlier in the week. [I loved when he told Craig off. "Seriously, did you give John a 1 last week?" Hee. - Georgi] Anyway, just thought I'd share.

Fucking hell, what is Tess wearing? I know I've been complaining that I miss last year's Strictly, but going back to Tess's old-school stylings is not the best way to please me. In one way, there is not enough material, because it's short and her boobs are falling out; in another, there is too much, because the material is frankly disgusting (some kind of Brillo affair) and ANY material of this description is too much.

Bruce has had a raffle to decide which of the pros will be joining him in a song-and-dance number later, and I think we all know who it's going to be, don't we? It is not Kristina, nor Camilla, nor Erin. Of course, it is Anton. Bruce mugs that he is disappointed. He and Tess give us a heads-up on what is going to happen in the show - pro dancing, Tom Jones, blah, results.

Recap - John and Kristina were bottom of the leaderboard, but were not roundly slated, and Patrick Kielty applauds his machismo, while Tony Blackburn says his timing forces the band to go along with him. Backstage, Arlene is guzzling wine. Lisa and Brendan caused a ruckus among the judges and Brendan is pissed off; Head Judge Len tells Craig off, asking him, "Have you ever attempted those samba rolls?" Craig looks puzzled and says, "Yes, I have!" [Head Judge Len and his "pulling rank" can fuck right off. - Steve] James Jordan looked bloody gorgeous and did air guitar on Cherie's leg. Gethin Jones thinks this was a good thing (the air guitar, not the gorgeousness, though who knows?). Jodie and Ian WERE TALL, which IS DIFFICULT. Ian whooped at getting two 9s. Christine and Matthew were praised by the judges; Matthew hugs Christine but pats her on the back, rather than stroking her hair as he always did with Alesha. Tom wanted to get the audience going; Robert Powell, who IS JESUS, thought Tom was worth four 10s because he was stunning. Craig admired Austin and Erin's storytelling; Austin is desperate to do well; Head Judge Len implies that none of the previous male celebrities were as good as Austin at ballroom. Rachel and Vincent's lewd and indecent rumba was adored by Craig, and made Arlene feel like a proud mum. [Really, wouldn't you be worried if your mum was proud about a filthy dance like that? - Georgi] [If my mym was Arlene, I'd probably be inured to that sort of thing by this point. - Steve]Gary Lineker says if he was Rachel's boyfriend, he'd be worried; Rachel's actual boyfriend isn't worried at all cos it's just dancing. Finally, the judges drank a lot of wine. As did we.

Bruce congratulates Len and Bruno on signing to star in a remake of a television classic - Pinky and Perky. Bruno is highly amused; nobody else is. Head Judge Len thinks if he was at home and there was a prospect of John Sergeant doing a salsa, he'd vote - "I understand it, I really do!" This is because he is a MAN OF THE PEOPLE. Bruno is worried for Lisa, Cherie and Jodie, and PRAYS FOR THEM. This is because he is a GOOD ITALIAN BOY. Craig says this is the strongest line-up we have ever had at this stage of the competition - there are eight couples left, seven of whom are good, and one which keeps making it through anyway. Arlene says this week was a breakthrough for Rachel, and suggests that she bottles what she used in the rumba this week, we'll be seeing her every week. Not Arlene's most articulate moments. [That would make for a very short compilation, wouldn't it? - Steve]

The pros cha-cha to 'Kiss'. It's Ola and James, Brian and Kristina, Vincent and Flavia, and three chairs, which as we know are very difficult to work with. [So I am guessing Len hates this routine, because he Does Not Like Props. - Georgi] Flavia and Ola are wearing rags, which must be quite annoying. Kristina has chosen just to cut off anything resembling a skirt. Then they move the chairs out of the way and the music changes to R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Ola makes that growly face that she always does. Back in the House of Tesstosterone, Tess teases John about maybe doing that routine next week, snarf snarf. Then she talks to Rachel, who is happy. Lisa is worried, disappointed, and has her fingers crossed that the public have voted for her.

Tess lies that this year's Strictly has captured the imagination of the public. Cue tedious VT. Cheerleaders like Austin, Rachel and Jodie. Synchronised swimmers like Jodie. Street dancers like Cherie. Ballet dancers like John, and suggest a Strictly Come Ballet Dancing, and take the piss out of Head Judge Len. Bellydancers like John because he has a belly. Irish dancers like Tom and Rachel. Linedancers like Austin and Bruno, despite him not competing. Bollywood dancers like Christine. Morris dancers like John because he probably drinks lots of beer. What a fucking waste of time.

As a "special Strictly treat", we welcome Bruce and Anton. Bruce trots on, and he is followed by a beaming Anton. They do a little soft-shoe shuffle, and sing Me and My Shadow - "Not so close, I'm the star!" snarls Bruce. Anton wanders off after the chorus, and Bruce tells him off - "Now listen, Ant and Dec!", calls him a "little worm", and challenges Anton to a tap-off. (Why is Teddy Sheringham in the audience?) Anton chooses not to tap and does some lovely ballet - "I didn't know you'd had lessons!" "Barcy Dussell. Taught me everything he knows." Anyway, they finish the song, take their bows, and aww, that was cute! [It probably depends on your level of Anton-tolerance, but I found it excruciating. - Steve]

Tess patronises Bruce a bit and her breasts fall out a bit while she reads from her cue-cards. She asks Christine if she feels like a contender now, and Christine tediously says it's a marathon, not a sprint, the cliche-ridden bint. John says it takes time to get the judges sorted out, but he's pleased he has done that now. His schtick is so dull now.

Last week on ITT, Craig and Brian bickered; Brendan slated his previous partners ["Controversial!" - Georgi]; John suggested the judges quit. This week on ITT...nothing, it would seem. Ah well. Join Claudia anyway!

Bruce introduces Tom Jones, who says he has been in showbiz for 45 years. Bruce has been in showbiz for 66 years, and always tries to encourage younger performers. Like Tom, do you see? They do a bit of reminiscing about Sunday Night at the London Palladium and the kitchen at Elstree, and it's lovely, but not very amusing. Bruce does some gyrating and it's horrid. "Tell me, Tom, have I still got it?" Tom glances at him and replies, "Well, yes, but it looks a little worn out to me." Snigger.

Jones the Voice sings his new song If He Should Ever Leave You; Darren and Lilia and Ian and Camilla dance, including a slightly strange bit where Darren stands on one leg. Still, a routine with Lilia in is always better than a routine with no Lilia in.

Our votes have been counted and verified and added to the judges' scores, and now we're at the Moment Of Truth. In no particular order, the six couples who are safe: Rachel and Vincent; Austin and Erin; Tom and Camilla; John and Kristina (who shouts, "NO WAY! That is UNBELIEVABLE!" Too fucking right, love); Jodie and Ian (who cheers and then picks Jodie up); Christine and Matthew.

So the dance-off is between Lisa and Brendan and Cherie and James. Cherie and Lisa hold hands briefly. Head Judge Len says it is a ludicrous situation and only one of them should be there, and apologises to them both for being in this predicament, despite the fact that he is a MAN OF THE PEOPLE and understands WHAT THE PUBLIC WANT.

Lisa and Brendan dance first [much better than they did "last" "night", I thought - Georgi], and James (who is SMOULDERING) applauds them as they take to the floor, and everyone claps along. When they finish, she wraps her legs around Brendan and he carries her off. Then they clap James and Cherie, who are both hamming this up magnificently. In fact, Lisa is dancing along up on the stage, which is cute. If it was up to me, I'd put Lisa and Brendan through because of a) her progress and b) the fact she can carry off a natural-looking ballroom AND Latin, whereas I think Cherie has to rely on James too much. [And c) because you kind of hate Cherie, don't you? I'm just sayin'. - Steve] [Well, she's not my favourite, but I love James an inordinate amount so that balances it out. And I genuinely think Lisa is better. - Carrie]

Decision time. Craig says that it has to be about the dance-off and the dance-off only, and the couple that improved and flew through the routine was Lisa and Brendan. Lisa is biting her lip. James is looking pissed off. Arlene says both couples improved and forgot she was watching a dance-off, she thought she was watching the final; but Lisa and Brendan rocked her boat. Oh, Arlene. Lisa mutters, "Oh my God", which may or may not be a reference to Arlene's awful pun. Bruno opts to save Cherie and James.

So Len has the deciding vote. [I was seriously worried for Lisa and Brendan at this point, because I was sure Len was going to vote for Cherie. It almost made me feel bad for not bothering to vote. - Georgi] "I feel I'm kicking someone off the show!" he whines. Because you ARE. Twat. He says the couple that edged it were Lisa and Brendan, and Lisa starts to cry, and apologises. Cherie says it's been a wonderful experience; and James tells the public off for NOT VOTING FOR THE DANCING, so STOP BEING FUCKING IDIOTS AND RINGING UP FOR JOHN.

Cherie and James do their final dance to Just The Way You Are. Lisa is still crying. Cherie blows kisses to the band, for some unknown reason, when it would be more appropriate to punch them. The judges are looking surly. [Is it just me, or did it seem like the other dancers weren't exactly rushing on to the dancefloor to hug them like they usually do? - Georgi] Oh, it's another excellent week on Strictly. Till next time, keep dancing!

Dance to that funky music, white boys

Week 9
Tx: 15th November 2008

Last time, it was a weekend of controversy. John survived. Rachel was in the dance-off. It was in the papers. Rachel cried. No-one is safe. Everyone has to up their game. This! Is! Strictly Come Dancing! Live!


Welcome back your hosts, Bruce and Tess. Daly Dresswatch: red curtain, complete with valance rail propping up her breasts. As Craig might say, it is ug-er-ly. Greg Rusedski is in the audience. Bruce congratulates Tess on dancing with Anton last night for Comic Relief. Tess corrects him that it was Children in Need. Bruce replies: "I wish I'd known, I wouldn't have laughed so much." Ha ha! I wish I'd seen it, but I'm allergic to charity fundraising. [Misery. It's on YouTube. - Carrie] There are eight couples left, and they are: Tom and Camilla; Christine and Matthew; Lisa and Brendan; Austin and Erin; Jodie and Ian; John and Kristina; Rachel and Vincent; Cherie and James. At this point in the proceedings, Carrie texted me thus: "LOOK AT JAMES JORDAN! Rrrrrr!" Well, perhaps, but he's going to have to do better than that to compete with Austin's guns. [At least James isn't a shortarse. And he has a rrrrr tattoo. - Carrie]

Jodie and Ian are first up. Bruce jokes that Jodie has such long legs, if she does the splits she could be in both corners of the dancefloor at once. Everyone thinks that is the punchline, but apparently the actual punchline was: "I only hope she makes a wish." Nobody gets it. He should have taken the laughs as they came. Jodie says she knew samba wasn't going to be one of her favourite dances, and indeed Craig gave it a 3, which she rightly says she can't be getting if she wants to stay in the competition. The fact that everyone voted for her and Rachel ended up in the dance-off has motivated her this week. Jodie and Ian's quickstep is hopefully going to be like running across hot coals. Ah, but will it be like jumping over giant stones? We're about to find out.

Jodie is all in red. She should have worn that dress for her paso. They're dancing to 'Mr Pinstripe Suit', and the crowd are clapping along. Drink! Jodie's back in her comfort zone and this is pretty good, despite a couple of mistakes. Len will probably like the fact that there's not too much messing around, as he would put it. It's still not a good time to welcome our fabulous singers. Bruce introduces the judges, saying that they're always scribbling things - Craig makes notes on technique, Arlene makes notes on the story of dance, Len makes notes on posture, and Bruno's doing his colouring book. Lulz! It makes a change from picking on Craig. Head Judge Len says he did write a note on Jodie's posture - "excellent". He thought it was bright and light, but wondered if they were "tripping over Brendan Cole" when it went wrong. [I was amazed it took them last long to make a Brendan Cole joke. - Steve] Jodie blames it on Ian. Good girl! It's always the man's fault because he's leading. Bruno calls Jodie a "speed racer regaining momentum" and says she's back on track. Craig thought their performance was "so much better than last week" and it's "wonderful seeing such tall people go through that dance like lightning". Arlene says that, "They say tall girls aren't fast" - well, we also say they're gangly and awkward, it's not just the speed - but Jodie was "so fast you looked like you were training for the 100m for 2012."

In the House of Tesstosterone, Jodie says she feels more at home this week, and blah about it being difficult to do Latin when you are so tall, blah blah. The scores are in: Craig - 7, Arlene - 8, Len - 9, Bruno - 9. Ian wants a 10 though. That gives them 33, which is much better than last week.

The next couple to dance is Lisa and Brendan with their samba. Last week they got amazing comments and Craig wanted to kiss Brendan. Brendan thinks that comment is going to haunt him for a long time. I can't think of anyone who would harp on about it. Lisa realises that she has to do well in Latin as well as ballroom, and jokes about having "a wingspan like an albatross". Lisa can't go out and party because she has to get up early to do her radio show, so her sisters come to rehearsal in samba outfits to get her in the party spirit. Brendan looks like he's enjoying himself.

Lisa's in an orange dress with frills, and starts with a solo spin. They're dancing to 'Rock the Boat'. She does look slightly awkward in the samba rolls, but otherwise it's good. I don't think the music is quite upbeat enough, personally. My boyfriend chimes in to say it's the best samba of the competition so far. Craig says that he liked the spot voltas, Lisa looked in control, and the running promenade was good, but the samba rolls weren't smooth enough. Booing ensues. Bruno starts shouting at him. Craig snarkily tells Bruno to, "Keep your opinion to yourself until it's your turn." Brendan tries to intervene. Bruce says he "thought the spring rolls were lovely". It's a bit of a free-for-all. Craig concludes that overall he thought it was very good, and throws his pen down on the desk in disgust. Arlene sort of agrees with Craig because she thinks Lisa has tension inside and didn't quite go with the flow. She needs "more of that famous breakfast cereal, snap, crackle and sizzle". What is she on about? [Rice Krispies and bacon? - Carrie] Head Judge Len thought Lisa's legs were a bit too flexed, but Craig is talking out of his arse. Although the actual word he used was "bottom". Apparently it's alright to say that on Saturday night telly these days. Len makes excuses about tall people not being good at the samba, despite the fact that Lisa was actually quite good at the samba. Bruno adds that, "For somebody so statuesque, it's hard", but, "There's no way you can say the samba rolls weren't good." Well, Craig said it and I said it too, so ha.

Backstage, Brendan says he wouldn't remonstrate with the judges because he's a lovely boy, and Lisa says she was pleased with it. The judges' scores are: 6 from Craig, 7 from Arlene, 9 from Len, 8 from Bruno. I don't think it deserved a 6, but I like to think Craig marks extra low to compensate from the high marks he knows Len's going to give people. They have a total of 30, which is quite respectable.

There's a teaser for what else is still to come - I'd recap it, but I'm eating Pringles.

Bruce mucks up his spiel to introduce Christine and Matthew. Let's not go into it. This week they'll be dancing the waltz. Christine was rather pleased that she got good comments from the judges last week, and two points more than Austin. The rest of this VT is really D-U-L-L. In case you didn't know, Christine is from Northern Ireland, which means she has a solid voter base.

Christine's dress is baby pink with sparkles on the bodice and those silly wings. They're dancing to Girls Aloud's 'See the Day'. Their waltz is pretty good, but I'm finding it hard to care. Arlene says it was "a big song, a big dance, and without doubt your best yet". Len seems to be surprised at how nice she's being, and agrees. Arlene obviously hasn't reached her nasty drunk phase this evening yet. Len point out that Christine "went wrong on the whisk", but apart from that it was great. Bruno says that it's good to see Christine become more polished and refined, because sometimes she used to "go off slightly". What is she, a yoghurt? Craig is pleased to see the top half and the bottom half of Christine's body working in union. In the House of Tesstosterone, Christine says she's been trying to work on areas the judges have criticised. The scores are in: Craig - 8, Arlene - 8, Len - 9, Bruno - 9, for a total of 34, which beats their record high last week of 31.

Cherie and James this week are doing the cha-cha-cha. Bruce mocks Craig's pronunciation of the "char-char-char". Cherie was pleased with her four 9s last week, as she bloody should be. Arlene told her she had to deliver the same standard for every dance. James's aim this week is to prove to judges that Cherie can do Latin. They have a visit in rehearsals from Cherie's daughter, who is badly in need of a hairbrush. She thinks her mum looks like a pro dancer. Cherie says that when she dances this week, she wants to feel good about herself. [She also plays the "I'm a SINGLE MUM!" card. Seriously, woman. Have some dignity. - Carrie]

Omigod, they're dancing to 'Play that Funky Music' by Wild Cherry, the funk song for people who know nothing about funk music. The beginning is hilarious, as James pretends to use Cherie's leg as a guitar. Mind you, she's in a little pink and gold dress which does show off her fabulous legs. This is certainly her best attempt at Latin so far. I may have been distracted by James's arms though, which could have been the point. [The Mr & Mrs Jordan school of costumery, where skimpy outfits compensate for celebrity partners' lack of ability! - Carrie] Bruce asks Cherie, "Who's a naughty girl then?" which would surely be a more appropriate comment for a really raunchy rumba. Bruno enthuses over Cherie's legs and says she's had a breakthrough and he loved it. Craig says that he would have liked to see "a bit more punctuation". James is like, "Where, bitch?" Craig replies, "Most of the times when you were landing on counts of two". Dear me, that James Jordan doesn't like criticism, does he? Bruno interrupts again. Craig presses on and emphasises that it was "magnificent to watch". Arlene says that it was "very neat and accurate", but complains that Cherie had "looked like you were going to turn on every electric lightbulb everywhere, but there were moments when the dimmer switch went on". Still, she envies Cherie's legs. [As do I. - Steve] Head Judge Len agrees that they are lovely legs. Then he says that 'Play that Funky Music' is "one of the few songs I like by somebody living". He tells us it was by Wild Cherry, in case we didn't know - which Cherie didn't - because it is important for his comment that the dance was "clean and crisp" and he wants to see more "wild Cherie". [For one horrible moment I thought he was implying that he wanted to see her vagina. - Steve] Bruce steps in, because if anyone gets to do bad puns on this show, it's him.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Cherie says that she's got her mum to thank for the legs. Bizarrely, James seems to think she's talking about his guns. James thinks the judges were harsh saying Cherie's not wild enough, and says that, "She done me proud". The judges scores are: 7 from Craig, accompanied by a cacophany of booing, 8 from Arlene, 8 from Len, and 9 from Bruno, for a total of 32.

Time for a quick check on the leaderboard, which shows the world turned upside-down: Christine and Matthew are at the top with 34, followed by Jodie and Ian with 33. Cherie and James and Brendan and Lisa are lagging behind with 32 and 30 respectively.

Bruce says that for Austin and Erin's tango, the audience have to imagine they're in a nightclub full of disreputable drunks - nice to have a dance the judges can participate in. Ha ha! It's not possible to have an Austin VT without a sporting metaphor, so we are informed that last week his rumba was "kicked into touch". Austin thought he was going to be in the dance-off, the fool, and compares it to "going to the doctor and being told there's nothing wrong". Yes, not being in the dance-off - it's like not having cancer. Austin and Erin are testing out their tango at Austin's daughter's school. Thank fuck they didn't do that with their rumba. The kids think variously that he has to do better than last week, and that he's better at dancing than rugby. A kid pretending to be a judge gives them 19. Len probably wishes he'd thought of that.

I rather like Erin's dress, which had a glittery gold bodice and pink skirt with black netting over the top. Austin looks in total control, which as we know is very important in the tango. I am lulzing at Austin's ridiculous tango facial hair. It's very quick, very sharp, and they're dancing to proper tango music, so they've really done everything right. [I...didn't like it. I don't know, I just found it really D-U-L-L, but clearly I'm the only one, so I'll shut up. - Steve] Craig starts off by saying it was "aggressive, passionate, driven", and Austin was leading the dance, he maintained his flexed knees and wonderful hold, they told the story and Austin looked like he was in complete charge and control. It's like Craig was trying to get in as much as possible before someone interrupted him. Bruce asks whether the story had a happy ending, and Craig tells him it was "rugbilicious, darling". [HAHAHAHAHA. Craig rules all this series. - Carrie] Arlene says it was the first time she's seen Austin act, and alliterates that their "tango was tingling with torrid passion", and she "didn't think you had it in you". Head Judge Len says that in his head he was like, "Go on my son!" because it is not possible to forget for two fucking seconds that Austin is a sportsman. He liked the attack and the moody start, and thought it was fantastic. Bruno thinks Austin "went for the tango like a rampaging beast", and it had "more bang and wallop than Quantum of Solace." Also, the camerawork is less annoying than QoS.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Erin calls him "Austin Bond", but fortunately Tess doesn't suggest that he performs next week in Daniel Craig's blue trunks. Tess informs us that Austin hasn't come out of character all day. He says it's difficult not being an actor, and jokes that the fluff on his face has taken him four weeks to grow. Apparently the tango is incredibly similar to rugby because it requires "passion, arrogance and lots of aggression", and he hopes he didn't overdo it. Tess wonders if Austin will reclaim is his place at the top of the leaderboard, and he's all false modesty, like, "It's not my place". Tess points out that he has been there a lot. Specifically four out of five dances, if anyone's counting. Anyway, the judges' scores are in: 9s from Craig and Arlene, 10s from Len and Bruno, for a whopping total of 38, the highest score of the competition so far.

Rachel and Vincent are up next. Last week they were second on the judges' leaderboard (although three people were tied in first, so they were really fourth) but they ended up in dance-off, which Rachel assures us was horrible. This week, they're doing the rumba. Every time Rachel looks at Vincent she wants to laugh, so he takes her out for dinner to get her in the mood, and serenades her with 'That's Amore'. Flavia will get jealous. [Except not so much. I was embarrassed for Rachel when he was making her eat spaghetti with him. - Carrie]

Rachel's dress is black with hardly any back and sides, and they're dancing to 'You Do Something To Me', which I think is excellent music for a rumba. My, Vincent has a lot of chest hair. Rachel's hands aren't always that elegant, but the rest of her is, and I think the judges may like the storytelling. When it finishes, Bruce rushes over saying, "That's enough! Stop the music! Children are watching!" Lulz. Rachel takes Bruce's hand, and he's like, "Aah, father figure." Hee! Len threatens that if Rachel and Vincent end up in the bottom two tonight, he'll dance Claudia's masterclass on Thursday naked. Ouch. Bruno says he needs a bucket of ice. But then where would Arlene keep her champagne? He calls it a rumba that "could revive the dead". If necrophilia's your thing, I suppose. He liked how she "connected each move from the core of your body". Craig starts out saying it's "a bit lewd and lustful, almost indecent", and gets drowned out by booing before he can get to what is obviously coming - he loved it. Arlene says it gave her goosebumps and she feels "emotional, like a proud mum", because every week she criticised and suddenly Rachel has come out with a performance that "blows the competition into the stratosphere".

In the House of Tesstosterone: Rachel says it's her favourite dance and she enjoyed being serenaded, even though Vincent has a rubbish voice. Okay, she may not have said that, but it's a fact. Tess points out that Rachel's fiance Alex is in the audience. He raised his eyebrows at the camera. Vincent and Alex have an eyebrow-off. The scores are: 9 from Craig, 10s from everyone else, for a phenomenal 39 points. Not only have they just beaten Austin and Erin's record for the highest score in this series so far [prompting Tom to shout "what a shame!" Cunt. - Steve], but it's the highest score for a rumba in Strictly history. [Ha. Ha. Ha. HEALEY. That'll learn you. - Carrie]

Now the moment everyone (apparently) has been waiting for, John and Kristina's American smooth. Bruce points out that they have to do two lifts, and I'm expecting a Stannah stairlift joke, but am to be disappointed because it's a joke about Kristina lifting John. John united the judges in hatred last week. He's worried that if he progresses any further, the judges might find it difficult to cope because some of them are quite elderly. Craig would have given last week's dance a zero if he had one. John is a bit bewildered by the press furore, and surprised that reporters have been turning up outside his home. John says their dance is going to be perfect by Saturday, and Kristina agrees, and they both snicker.

Is it just me or does Kristina wear hot pink every week? They're dancing to 'True Love Ways' and, well, it's not completely awful. There is one great move, where Kristina does the splits and John drags her along the floor. Their first lift must be about the easiest possible to do, but it doesn't go that smoothly. John doesn't look like he's leading at all. The second lift is better. The music ends with them walking up the stairs, and they almost make it into the House of Tesstosterone before Bruce makes them come back for the judges' comments. Bruno describes their dance as "surprisingly appealing". The timing was better, and the footwork wasn't a total disaster. He says that John "nearly smell[s] of roses", but he sometimes looks drowsy, and pull faces to demonstrate, insisting that John has to "give me something to work with". Craig says that, "However entertaining, it lacked a certain energy and drive," and it didn't feel like John was leading the dance. The first lift was precarious, but there was "a small wow moment" when Kristina did the splits. Arlene says that she gets what other people see in John for the first time - he's "quite endearing". John is like, "Quite?" Arlene says they had the Hollywood feel, but it was "more Mickey Rooney than Fred Astaire". She concludes optimistically that, "If you're here next week, you need to keep your head straight and work on posture." Head Judge Len says that compared to Terry Wogan last night, John was brilliant, and he was terrible last week so he was bound to improve. They are Bruce's favourites, but we knew that.

Backstage, Kristina is jumping up and down. John says he remembers someone saying "brilliant", but not the rest. John explains how their dance partnership works: "She does the dancing, I do the jokes." The judges' scores are in: Craig - 5 (hooray!), Arlene - 6 (hooray!), Len - 7 (hooray!), Bruno - 7 (hooray!). That's a total of 25, John's personal best. Perhaps the judges have realised that they have to be nice to get people voted out - mean comments cause sympathy voting.

The final couple to dance is Tom and Camilla. Tom loved being Fred and Ginge last week, but was shocked when Rachel and Vincent only had one point less than them ended up in the dance-off. Nobody is safe, etc. This week, Camilla has brought in some salsa experts to help. Tom wiggles and points in rehearsals, chanting, "What a berk. What a lemon drop. What a nincompoop", and calling himself "Thomas" when he's remonstrating with himself. [Shut up, Tom. - Steve] He wants to make the judges feel like they're on the dancefloor.

Their routine starts at the top of the steps with some very intricate arm work. I'm always impressed by that because I went to a salsa class once and it was surprisingly difficult. Camilla has sensibly choreographed Tom shimmying in front of Arlene. This is more like the sort of energy I wanted from Lisa and Brendan's samba. The footwork is good, but Tom needs to do something with his half-clenched hands. Bruce goes to Arlene first, saying she must be very excited. Yes, and when Arlene gets excited, she alliterates: "Those sequins set your hips in motion. It was saucy, steamy, sexy, sensuous - everything a hot salsa should be." Head Judge Len says it had "the three things you need for salsa: rhythm, rhythm, rhythm". Bruno declares that "The spice boy has risen to the challenge" - he never failed to sell it. Craig says that he loved the choreography, "especially the armography at the top of the stairs". For the record, "armography" is not a real word. Then Craig criticises it for being "a bit too much about you than and giving expression to the world", and everyone starts shouting. He reiterates that he thought it was "selfish", and wanted them to "give a bit more of you to us". Arlene clearly feels like Tom has given himself to her, as she's fanning herself off. Len calls Craig a "born-again plonker", and can fuck off.

Back in the House of Tesstosterone, Tom says he is loving every week, "It's like driving a new car". Tess tells him not to talk about Camilla like that. Ha! The scores are in: 8 from Craig, "a saucy 9" from Arlene, 9 from Len, 9 from Bruno, for a total of 35.

So the final leaderboard looks like this: Rachel and Vincent, 39; Austin and Erin, 38; Tom and Camilla, 35; Christine and Matthew, 34; Jodie and Ian, 33; Cherie and James, 32; Lisa and Brendan, 30; John and Kristina, 25. Those are pretty phenomenal scores. British public, may I leave you with these words of wisdom: if you love someone, let them go. John and Kristina's time is surely up.

On the results show tomorrow: Tom Jones, and Bruce singing and dancing with one of the professionals - I'm guessing Anton. Carrie will be here to bring you all the action!