Sunday, 21 December 2008

Some girls never get what they wanna, wanna

Grand final: 20th December 2008

Okay, here we go! We kick off with the obligatory hyperbolic VT, where Tess makes such obviously fallacious statements as this being the most closely-fought Strictly yet. Only three couples remain, and we're reminded of the hideous overmarking that's taken place this series by accompanying each contestant with a shot of the gazillion tens they've been awarded. Then we see Tom and Camilla dancing into the wall (I'll never tire of that one), Rachel going "ooh, me back", and Tom saying that if he gets to lift that trophy, it'll be the greatest day of their lives. Even greater than the day he GOT MARRIED? Oh, and Lisa makes some comment about her journey, but let's not pretend that Lisa has anything like enough public support to win this thing. This is the grand final - live!

There are credits, then there is Bruce and Tess. Tess Daly's dresswatch: it appears to have been melted down from a golden glitterball and reshaped to fit a woman. Imagine if Tom's samba shirt were a dress, and you have some idea of the horror. Claudia is in the audience - hooray! I love Claudia. Bruce asks if we're all ready and steady, and then implores us not to go. Ba-dum-tish! He says that they've got a lot of splainin' to do, but we'll meet the couples first: Tom and Camilla, Lisa and Brendan and Rachel and Vincent. Everyone looks lovely, though I have my reservations about the giant pink flaps attached to Lisa's arms. Camilla and Tom lean over to grab hands with Rachel and Vincent, but don't appear to do the same with Lisa and Brendan. Or possibly they did, and it wasn't caught on camera - it's hard to tell. Anyway, it's a nice gesture.

So, Bruce reminds us of last week's unfortunate leaderboard fiasco wherein Tom could not have escaped the danceoff even if he got the highest public vote - which, as it turns out, he did. So much for all the Tomfen on the internet getting all butthurt about how he'd come into the final at a disadvantage because people would've have realised there was no point voting for him and wouldn't have bothered. [I am incredibly amused at how stupid people are. Nobody ever did themselves any harm by underestimating the collective intelligence of the public, did they? - Carrie] Tess apologises for the show not having realised this sooner, but says they did "the fairest thing" and put all three couples through. And yes, we could sit here all day arguing about what we would consider to be the fairest thing to have done, but let's just take that as fact and move on, shall we? There's a lot of dancing to be done. Anyway, for the first time in the show's history, we get to see the results of last week's leaderboard once the public vote had been added. The scores are Rachel 5, and Lisa and Tom with 4, meaning that Rachel got the second highest number of public votes, and Lisa got the fewest. Which pretty much robs this evening of any tension regarding who's actually going to win, but it's nice of them to be so transparent, I guess. Bruce says those points will be added to the judges' from tonight, and Tess says that after the public vote, if there is a tie at the bottom, the couple with the most viewer votes will go through. They've done the best job they can of explaining this, but I seriously had three or four people say to me "I don't understand!" over the course of the evening, so possibly it's time to give the scoring system on this show a bit of a rethink. Oh, and the couple in third place will be kicked off at the start of the results show, and then the vote counts will be reset to zero. Bruce apologises for all of this, and says that he hopes now we understand what's going to happen. And my answer is "yes, right up to who's going to win, before we've even started". Thanks, show!

Bruce says that we have three fantastic couples (again, let's not dispute this, we'll be here all day) all hoping to win. This segues into a VT full of clich├ęs and claptrap: this is the night of nights! Who dares will win! This is it! This is the big one! The competition starts now! Let battle commence! Oh, whatever. And Bruno says this is the most competitive series yet, which...maybe? I dunno. Personally I would've put last year's ahead of this year because Alesha vs Kelly vs Matt vs Gethin feels way more exciting than Austin vs Tom vs Lisa vs Rachel (and yes, I am taking my own personal sample of the best couples from each series, but if you want objectivity, I suggest you are looking in the wrong place). So much filler. Just get on with the fucking dancing, already.

Bruce is reading my mind, because he says "at last, it's time for the first couple": Rachel and Vincent. There is a weak joke about Vincent not wanting to give Rachel back, and Bruce is not doddery, doddery he is not. Jesus H Christ, there is now another VT - though I suppose this is the sort we usually get before a dance, so I can overlook it. Last week their Argentine Tango was lovely, and then Len undermarked their American Smooth because he suddenly decided he wasn't just going to hand out tens willy-nilly (a resolution which clearly isn't going to last very long). The long and short of it all is that Rachel and Vincent are very fond of each other, and Rachel wants to thank him by giving him the chance to lift the trophy together.

They are dancing our first foxtrot of the evening, to 'Close To You'. It's lovely, or at least as lovely as a foxtrot can be, given that I don't really care for it as a dance. Rachel's expression is a little glacial. Bruce tells them they've done it again, and welcomes back "our fabulous singers" and the wonderful orchestra. There's a joke about the judges being excited about tonight's show, and a punchline I'm sure they've used before about Bruno being excited to stay up late. Head Judge Len says that last week he said their American Smooth lacked foxtrot content, but not this: it was truly a joy. People are obviously already trying to vote, because a chyron comes on the screen at this point saying "lines not open yet". Bruno says that this series has included some of the best ballroom dances ever, and this foxtrot is up at the top: Rachel's technique is wonderful and she's become an artist. Craig says Rachel has been nothing less than brilliant this series, and she's the most consistent celebrity dancer they've ever had. Arlene says Rachel shimmers and shines like the diamonds on her dress, from her exquisite top line to her perfect heel turns. There's a shot of the audience, where Alesha is sandwiched in between Mark Ramprakash and Jill Halfpenny. Dream Strictly threesome, anyone?

Back in the house of Tesstosterone, ooh, look! Everybody's back! Well, almost everybody, but we'll discuss that later. Mark Foster is wearing that stupid bloody see-through mesh shirt, which really does not look good on him despite what everyone in the costume department seems to think, and Phil Daniels has grown satanic facial hair. Rachel says that Craig's comments were such a compliment, and credits it all to Vincent and his choreography. Tess says that Rachel has broken more records than anyone in Strictly history. So does that mean she holds the record for most records broken? Tess asks if Rachel would like to break another one and get 40 for both dances. Yes, Rachel would. Not a surprise, that answer, is it? Scores are in: tens all round for a total of 40, leaving Rachel halfway to achieving that dream. Tess asks if Rachel can do that well in their rumba, and Rachel looks nervous. Well, as nervous as Rachel is generally capable of looking given her general lack of emotion. Tess reminds us that Rachel and Vincent have trained harder [or at least longer - Carrie] than any other couple and gives out the voting number.

Tom and Camilla are next, including a joke about what Tom will be buying his NEW WIFE, whom he RECENTLY MARRIED, for Christmas. We see their VT, and Camilla having palpitations at the thought of going out in the semis for the third time. The news that they were all going through turned Tom into a blubbering baby, as he puts it. Tom has loved his Strictly experience, and says it feels like the last four months have only been a week long. Fuck, I'm glad it feels like that for someone. Tom says they know what they've got to do, and he wants to be the one to say to Camilla "go over there and pick up the trophy, because it's yours". And really, that is kind of sweet.

They are also doing their foxtrot, to Dolly Parton's 'Here You Come Again'. Tom's chin is sticking out way in front and Camilla's face is totally manic, so it's business as usual here. It's all going very nicely until midway through Tom trips over his own feet and kind of crashes into Camilla, which is a shame, but to his credit, he recovers quickly and well. Still, that's pretty much boned his chances of getting 40 for this one, which it actually might have merited if it hadn't been for that, because it is lovely, and better than the last time we saw it, trip notwithstanding. Tom goes to the judges and says "nobody saw that, did they?" Only around 10 million viewers, Tom, but never mind, eh? Bruno loved the Hollywood take on the dance, and reminds Tom that even the best dancers stumble every now and again - it being the final, they do have to take it into account (though I daresay Head Judge Len feels like he shouldn't have to), but it was a shame because Bruno thought it was great. Craig says there's stumbling, and there's the recovery, and he thinks Tom recovered well - he loved the routine, Tom maintained his frame throughout and was really leading it. Arlene says it's a difficult dance, and says that Tom has the ease of Fred Astaire, the rhythm of Gene Kelly, the drive of Jeremy Clarkson and the posture of Daniel Craig emerging from the sea in his swimming trunks. Yeah, because the first thing that went through everyone's mind when they watched that scene in Casino Royale was "phwoar, look at the posture on that." Len has nothing to add, other than adding that Tom's dancing has a naturalness and doesn't look contrived or forced. Except in the face. But that was me saying that bit, not Len. Len brings out the "it's harder for male celebrities because they have to lead" bollocks, and blames Des Lynam for trying to trip up Tom. Because presumably Des shares Len's love of SPORTSMEN and SPORTSMEN alone.

Backstage, Tom cringes about his mistake and Tess asks him how it feels to have learned four dances this week, like four is this unprecedentedly huge number, even though last year's finalists had to do five. Tom says really Camilla had to do all the hard work. Scores: eight from Craig (too harsh, in my opinion), nines from everyone else for a total of 35. Tom says he just wants to be able to do his showdance, and Tess says that he needs to make the final two to be able to do that, which is a total lie as we shall see later. Camilla cry-laughs that their dress rehearsal was flawless, and wishes the two situations had been reversed. Tom just laughs about the whole thing, and good for him, I reckon.

Which leaves us with Lisa and Brendan. Bruce says that Lisa's been pushing her boobs back up all series, which has reminded him of someone famous - Les Dawson, in fact. Lisa was nervous to open the semi-final, but got a 40 for her efforts. She's very excited to be in the final. Lisa says that her journey has not all been smooth sailing, it's been a real Tess. Er, "test". We see her backstage tearfully (shocker, I know) thanking Brendan for teaching her how to dance. Lisa doesn't know how she's going to fill the empty feeling she has when the show's over. Insert dirty joke here, if you like.

Oh joy, another foxtrot! It's to 'Walking My Baby Back Home', and I'm annoyed because the length of Lisa's dress makes it impossible to see her feet. It's a lovely routine, but there are moments where it looks a little bit hesitant to me. Also, I'm absolutely fucking sick of bloody foxtrots at this point. Bruce loves their walk off at the end, and he absolutely loves all the hesitations. Well, shut my mouth. Craig says this demonstrates what all the hard work adds up to, and credits Brendan for Lisa's improvement. He says it was almost perfect last time, and this time it was better. Arlene talks for about six years about a point in the first series where Brendan's hand was on Natasha's spine and it was like her breath was living and breathing through him, the result being that Brendan holds a woman like no one else can. I think we all knew that, didn't we? Len tells Brendan he's done a fantastic job with Lisa, correcting her posture and footwork - he's never seen any "girl celebrity" (fuck off, Len) improve this much. Bruno says her story is amazing because she started off gangly and geeky and is now a beautiful and glamorous creature. Bruce starts miming the push-up boobs thing again, and Lisa's all "Stop that, you! Stop that! You're naughty!" Hee.

House of Tesstosterone: Tess reminds us again that the lines are not open, because some people are stupid and already trying to vote. Lisa is excited to be in the final. Brendan says there is no feeling like this in the world. Scores are in: tens all round for a perfect score.

Bruce informs us that that was the end of the ballroom round (THANK GOD) and soon we'll be doing the Latin dancers - but first we must cast our minds back to January 1st 1986 - sorry, September 2008 - when the boys first took to the floor. More filler VT, obviously, including Austin's best first dance EVARZ, Gary getting 1 off Craig [snigger - Carrie], Heather being queen of the salsa and Gillian being rough around the edges. Oh, and Austin's guns. And Karen openly despising Gary, which is still very funny to me. My God, how long is this going to go on for? We see poor Jessie Wallace fucking up her quickstep and beating herself up about it. We see a montage of the first five eliminated couples saying how much they loved it - gosh, I wonder what could be coming next?

Oh, what a surprise! Phil, Gillian, Gary, Jessie and Don (how it saddens me that Don is in this group) return for a final medley dance. Phil makes an early bid for the Fiona Phillips Memorial Inglorious Return Award for not knowing a single one of his waltz steps. Seriously, you could park a bus between him and Flavia. Gillian apparently can't dance her foxtrot for giggling, and then Anton picks her up for a ZOMG ILLEGAL LIFT and whirls her around so much that she can barely stand when he puts her down. Gary and Karen reprise their cha cha cha, and I love how you can totally see Karen bracing herself before she throws herself backwards for Gary to catch her, like she's expecting to see out the evening in A&E. There's a bit of business where, in the bit where Karen bends over and Gary plays keyboard on her back, he suddenly goes "nah" and starts doing air guitar instead, leading to Karen standing up and doing A Face which is meant to denote confusion. I love Karen. Poor Jessie is still dressed in one of those horrendous balloon dresses they made her wear, and her quickstep seems a little better than last time, though Darren is kind of dragging her through it by the end. And then Don and Lilia, with their awesome tango. I'd forgotten about this routine, but it really was fantastic. Certainly most deserving of high marks than some of the dances that actually did score in the upper thirties.

Back to the actual business of the series: we get a history of Rachel and Vincent. Vincent refers to their first dance as being like first love. We see Rachel being criticised a lot for not being exciting, which is a bit like criticising the sky for not being green, and then Rachel's first really dazzling performance putting her in the bottom two. Bah! Then Rachel's rumba, which broke the ice. We see them getting a perfect score for their foxtrot first time round, coupled with a positively adorable shot of Vincent discussing this by putting his hands over his eyes and leaning back, only to overbalance and tip his chair backwards. Hee! Being in two danceoffs made Vincent feel like the public didn't like them. Well, not everyone can be as likeable as Tom "Smuggo" Chambers, after all. They want to win. I am shocked by this news.

They are repeating their lovely rumba, hooray! Rachel's new rumba dress is not as lovely as the first one, boo! This is the routine of the series, for me. It's just beautiful. Arlene says this is a love story set to a rumba, and it shows something she never thought she'd see in Rachel: emotion and musicality. Ooh, burn on singer Rachel Stevens! Len says that having a slow dance in your final is terrible because your nerves are jangling, but they came out and did it brilliantly. Bruno needs a shower and a stiff drink, "and then let's do it over again!" Hee. He applauds her musicality. Craig calls it "indecently delicious". He says it's toned down the indecency since last time, which Bruno attributes to the fact that she's wearing white this time. Bruce tells them they're the best.

House of Tesstosterone: Tess thinks she may have to join Bruno in that shower. May I say on behalf of the universe: DO NOT WANT. Vincent's family are here from Italy, Rachel can't wait to meet them. Vincent falls over his words, bless him, and we see Mama Simone in the audience. Scores: nine from Craig (guess you really need to be indecent to get top marks) and tens from everyone else for a total of 39. A total of 79, which they are very happy with.

Next are Camilla and The Crimson Chin (what? He's wearing red. You can't expect me not to make that joke). We see Tom's journey: his smug first cha cha cha, his American Smooth the day before his WEDDING, him crashing into the wall during quickstep rehearsals, his cruelly being denied a ten (whatever), Len saving the night during the waltz by giving him a ten. We do not see the point where Len openly admitted to having decided to completely ignore the things in the dance which would normally have prevented his being awarded a ten. Sigh. Hilarious b&w 'Nam-style flashbacks to Camilla's two previous experiences of going out in the semis, only to finally get through this time.

They're dancing their salsa, and dear God, it's about friggin' time we had a dance with a bit of life and energy to it. See what you have done to me, show? YOU HAVE MADE ME GRATEFUL THAT TOM CHAMBERS IS DANCING. That should give you some indication of how underwhelming this final has been so far. Though, in fairness, it is a very good salsa routine - full of sass and hip-shaking and some complex arm twists. Len thought it was brilliant and great and brilliant. Bruno thought it was fast and furious - he thought it could have stood to be toned down a little (pot, kettle, meet Bruno). Craig thought it had fantastic energy, and tells Tom the facial expressions were less smug, which hilariously merits a "woo!" from Camilla and a round of applause from the audience. "It's not me, it's the dance," Tom retorts. Oh, Tom. I'm almost finding you tolerable tonight, please don't spoil it with your idiot words. "It's the dance that made you smug," says Bruce. HA! Arlene says she feels like she's picked on Tom this series (apparently Arlene has been temporarily possessed by the forum posters on DigitalSpy), but applauds Tom for selling the dance and flirting with everyone. Bruce tells them they're the best.

House of Tesstosterone: Tom blathers on about something which I don't really understand, but I think is related to his trip from earlier. Tess asks Camilla how it would feel to win; Camilla cannot speak, so Tom says that the professionals work them so hard to get to this stage. Scores: nine from Craig, tens from Arlene and Len and nine from Bruno for a total of 38. Bruno's score gets boos, unusually [I LOVED this bit. Stupid audience! - Carrie]. Tom is happy that it was a better score than last time. It's a total of 73, which is really not too shabby at all.

Next are Lisa and Brendan. In the VT, we relive Lisa's embarrassing and awkward initial salsa, which didn't have "the Jews", according to Bruno. Things improved when she got a chance to do ballroom. Brendan says you don't know how your partner is going to react before you've had to do a danceoff, but Lisa pulled it off when she had to re-do her samba. He thinks they're almost a perfect Strictly pairing. Note the "almost". He's very proud to be in the final with Lisa.

They are reprising the cha cha cha, in Lisa's car wash dress, to Amy Winehouse's 'Tears Dry On Their Own', which still feels like such a misfitting choice of song. Brendan is mouthing stuff at people in the audience, which is weird. It does rather look at times as if Lisa is frantically trying to remember what her next step is - I don't think this is as good as the first time they did it, personally. Bruno calls it "truly eye-popping brilliant", with enough Jews to satisfy the thirst of the nation. He says Lisa's placement has improved dramatically, and "almost hits Len in the face", though not nearly close enough for my liking. Craig loved this char char char. Arlene says Lisa has taken on the judges' comments more than anyone else - she's straightened her knees since last time. Len says her New Yorks have improved - she's changed so much from the nervous girl we first saw. Bruce says they're the best.

House of Tesstosterone: no pro has ever won twice, how would it feel for Brendan? He just wants Lisa to win it. Bless. Lisa is very emotional. Scores: tens all round for another perfect score. And I'm sorry, but that is such bullshit. If anyone can explain to me how it is fair that Alesha never got a perfect score, and Lisa now has THREE, I will be waiting for them with a long list of all the reasons why they are wrong. God, the overmarking this series is enough to make you weep. Sort it out next year, please. Confiscate everyone's paddles 7-10 (especially Len's) for the first half of the series, that'd be a good start. Fucking hell. Lisa gets 80/80. That is INSANE. And I like Lisa.

Moar filler: people across the country are voting, though apparently people are not voting for their favourite dancer, just for who they think is "wew fit". Sigh. There are some friends and relations of the celebrities thrown in for good measure, and if this were The X Factor, Rachel would be on course to win, because Will Young clearly trumps Johnny Vaughan and Tina Hobley.

So, final totals: Lisa and Brendan have 80, Rachel and Vincent have 79 and Tom and Camilla have 73, which makes their scores 3,2,1 respectively. But wait, there's more! We add those to last week's totals: which give Rachel and Lisa seven each, and Tom five, which is then needlessly translated again to be three points for Rachel and Lisa, and one for Tom. My head hurts. Tess reminds us that this is not a ZOMG FIX because there is no danceoff, so any couple could be saved from elimination and in the event of a tie, the two couples with the highest audience vote will go through. Phone lines are now open!

A reminder of all the performances: Rachel and Vincent's good foxtrot, Tom and Camilla's good foxtrot, Lisa and Brendan's good foxtrot, Rachel's lovely rumba, Tom's great salsa and Lisa's RIDICULOUSLY FUCKING OVERMARKED cha cha cha. My apologies for the editorialising there.

Oh, but we're not done yet: more eliminated dancers on parade! We see Cherie fucking up her paso, John phoning his in, and Mark just being a hot mess. Far too much of this VT is given over to John Sergeant-related drama. Back in the studio, Bruce jokes that he dreamt that John and Gary were in a dance-off, and the judges' score was -40.

Mark and Hayley return with their clunky and awkward samba, Andrew and Ola reprise their head-bangy tango. Crikey, we really had some crappy-ass dancers this year, didn't we? Oh, this might turn things around: Heather and Brian's Viennese waltz is lovely, if you ignore the "singers" massacring 'Vision of Love' once again. My PVR cuts off here because the show ran over, so off to iPlayer we go: Cherie and James with their American Smooth (and huge applause when they come on, which is nice). James actually carries Cherie off in their reverse lift position. John and Kristina tie things up with their Paso Doble, and John isn't even bloody trying as usual. You know, I might understand the LOL JOHN SERGEANT LEGERND stuff if he'd made any effort, but it really doesn't look like he ever did.

Tess promises the remaining celebs coming back in the results show, but because that's not nearly enough filler, we have Bruce singing 'What The World Needs Now Is Love', accompanied by all the female celebrities minus Rachel, Lisa...and Jodie. Hmm. He dances with Kristina and Flavia, and then Anton walks on ostensibly to sing the rest of the song and is shoved offstage by Bruce. I enjoyed that probably more than I should've.

"How brilliant was that?" asks Tess. Oh, Tess, you don't want to know the answer. She wants to know when she'll get her chance to dance with the boys. Hopefully NEVER. Obligatory VT about how all the celebs, like, rilly rilly want to win. I'd never have guessed. Tom actually remembers to say "one of the best days of our lives" this time, presumably having been read the riot act by his WIFE whom he RECENTLY MARRIED on what one would hope was the actual best day of his life.

The "showlines" will close at 8:30pm, per Bruce, and we'll be back at 9pm. O rly?


My PVR starts recording at 9pm. I have to fast-forward through seven-and-a-half minutes of Casualty. And don't even get me started on how ridiculous it is that Jessica feeling a bit faint on the stairs somehow results in her FLIPPING OVER THE BANNISTER, for fuck's sake.

Anyway: earlier tonight, these three couples battled it out to be in the final two, but who will it be? This is the Strictly Come Dancing grand final! Live! Again!

The audience are rapturous in their applause, and someone in the audience is shouting for Rachel. Shortly, very shortly we will find out who will be going head to head for the big prize. The two couples with the highest combined points will be going through.

Refreshingly, we're going to find out without further ado. Rachel and Vincent were "nothing less than brilliant", Tom had "the ease of Fred Astaire and the rhythm of Gene Kelly" and Lisa was "fantastic and full of confidence". But did the viewers agree?

In no particular order, the first couple definitely through to the final two is: Tom and Camilla! Which means they won the public vote, so we might as well all go home now. The second couple who will dance for the title is Rachel and Vincent. So Lisa and Brendan are out, and Tom and Rachel are going head to head to win that trophy. Bruce says there are no losers, they are all winners. Except Lisa and Brendan. We see their highlights VT: they've had "the rockiest road", as Lisa says, but she wouldn't want to change it at all. Brendan is proud of her. Lisa is proud of how much she has improved, and says Brendan was the perfect partner for her. She says he's been her rock, which is fine if you discount all those times he flounced off and left her crying in the corner by herself, like in WEEK ONE. When she might have actually needed support. Dammit, Brendan.

"You could have been winners in lots of our previous series, you really could," says Bruce. Except clearly not, because they never had the public support, which is kind of pivotal to the whole "actually winning" side of things. And the show really needs to drop this whole "best series ever" angle now that they've resorted to actively insulting previous winners. Lisa says she already feels like a winner, and thanks everyone for the whole experience. Brendan says she deserved to be here tonight (dig, perhaps?) [oh, indisputably! Looking forward to Brendan in a tabloid newspaper near you soon - Carrie] and Lisa yells "thank you for letting me do the show!" Bless. They will be back to do their showdance later, which puts the lie to Tess's "you must make the final two to do your showdance, Tom" statement from earlier.

The decision of who will win is now entirely in our hands - the judges will now only comment, not score, and the totals have been reset to zero. Both couples will now dance at the same time, doing their Viennese waltz. It's the perfect opportunity, says Bruce, to make a direct comparison. As opposed to earlier, when we had absolutely no way of comparing three fucking foxtrots? They're dancing to 'Unbreakable', and there's a bit where they're out of synch, and indeed a bit where Rachel starts the next part of a sequence a second or so too early, realises, and then just sort of hangs there awkwardly for a moment until it's time to move on. Ouch. Ooh, then they switch partners momentarily, and if it were possible to vote for Vincent and Camilla to win, I probably would. That's a rather sad reflection on this series.

We got to the judges for feedback. Bruce reminds us that they will not be scoring for the rest of the final. Or in Bruno's case, until he can nip out when nobody's looking and meet his dealer backstage. Apparently the comments are to "help the viewers decide", because Lord knows I'm just a simpleton who knows nothing about this dancing business. Len thought they were both excellent, but Rachel's footwork was better than Tom's. Bruno thought Tom led brilliantly and his hero Fred Astaire must be smiling down, but Rachel was better. Craig thought Rachel and Vincent stood out because theirs was a little smoother - they had less rise and fall than Tom and Camilla. Arlene thought Rachel turned the dance into a floating dream, while Tom was the surfer riding the wave. Once again we are told it is very very hard for the man to lead (Jesus wept), but Tom really led Camilla.

Filler? Yes please! We look at the stories of Jodie, Christine and Austin. Oh, Jodie. I miss her so much. Her presence in the VT is disappointly fleeting. Len throws a snit fit over Austin's paso, then there's Christine's nightmarish tango, then Austin struggling with his lifts and being sent home in favour of Lisa and Brendan, a decision which I still don't agree with.

Bruce tells us that sadly Jodie is not well and cannot join us at the final. Awww. Bruce says he'll see her on the golf course. Hee! So this is basically just Christine and Austin, then. Christine and Matthew do their American smooth to 'Singing In The Rain', which never turns into the Mint Royale version, however much I hope it's going to. Austin and Erin are reprising their jive, which I loved. It's still great, and makes me feel robbed that they weren't in the final. Austin does a kind of half-cartwheel, half-backflip thing, then throws Erin up into a ZOMG ILLEGAL TABLETOP LIFT. Yeah, so they're kind of trying to prove a point here, and I don't blame them.

Tess is in the audience as Christine and Austin return to sit down. Tess asks why the public liked Christine so much before; she thinks it's because she was living the dream on behalf of everyone at home. Austin got to dance in the final but not quite as he would've liked, says Tess. Austin points out that he's never danced before either, and was shocked at how much he likes dancing. He says having a pro partner like Erin who has the capacity to teach "basic idiots like myself" makes all the difference.

Now it's time for Lisa and Brendan's showdance, "by popular demand", as Bruce says, pretending that anyone wanted Lisa to stay in the show beyond the halfway point who wasn't one of the judges. Lisa is wearing a swimming costume with a slash right down the front and dancing to 'I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)'. It's...very odd. Lots of pained faces from Lisa, and lots of lifts that don't really work - Brendan tries to do that move from the demonstration last week where the female dancer rolls up the male's body, and he clearly does not have the upper body strength to pull it off and almost drops Lisa about three times in the process. Yeah, that showdance would not have won them the contest. Sorry guys. Nice try, but no cigar.

It's so close, says Bruce! It could be anyone! Even Austin, despite having been eliminated! This year has been THAT GOOD! Seriously, can it. We go to Len, who says he wants excitement in a showdance - lots of lifts, and a smattering of the dancing they have learnt. Bruno reminds us they have no rules, and they can do whatever they want. He says it's always good to surprise the judges and public, and as we'll see, there's no chance of that tonight. Craig wants "unadulterated anarchy" on the dancefloor, and Arlene wants "death-defying lifts", though presumably not quite so literally death-defying as Lisa and Brendan's just were.

In the House of Tesstosterone: Camilla is dressed as some kind of harlequin traveller, Tom's in tails, Rachel's in a sparkly blue swimsuit with long fringing, and Vincent's got his chest hair out.

Rachel and Vincent are on first: their routine is to 'Flashdance (What A Feeling)'. Oh God, Rachel has a bow on her arse. What the hell? One thing I will say in this dance's favour is that it's possibly the most animated I've seen Rachel look all series. On the other hand, it's deeply underwhelming. Too much lifting, no real surprises in the dancing - it looks more like a "best of" than a new dance. It's a shame, but this is a rare choreographic misfire from Vincent. At the end, he slides Rachel across the floor, only for her to lose her balance in the final position and topple onto her face with her arse in the air. She recovers, but looks a little defeated.

They get a standing ovation, and Len thinks they were listening to what he said he was looking for. He liked their engagement with each other and the audience. Bruno says the feeling is very good, and they blended all the Latin dances. He says there were just the right amount of lifts without going over the top, which can happen sometimes. Like, say, the series four finale. Craig thought it was brilliant, apart from the topple at the end. Vincent takes the blame, bless him. Arlene says "if eyes could be Flashdance, you have it". Translations on a postcard to the usual address, please.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Tess wishes them the best of luck. Vincent hopes for scores, but there are none, of course. Tess shepherds them off and beckons on Tom and Camilla. "Tear it up, Tom! Go on, Camilla!" says Tess.

They start their routine (to 'If My Friends Could See Me Now') at the top of the steps, with some more panto acting. Then Tom does his Fred Astaire routine from his quickstep. This is basically everything I hate about Tom condensed into one easily loathsome package. Camilla appears to be some sort of robot in the whole endeavour. It's all very vaudeville, emphasis on the "vile" if you're me.

Sidebar, if I may: I saw a lot of people on the internet on Saturday night saying this was literally the best thing they had ever seen, which I was flummoxed by. Best showdance of the night? Yes, definitely, but it was a bit of a rum field all round as far as I was concerned. Certainly in the grander scope of Strictly showdances through history, or indeed best things ever, I don't see what was so special about it. It's such a shame, because we had two great showdances last year (Matt holding Flavia up by the vagina! Alesha flying! [With her dress that was also a cape! - Carrie]) and this year we had three mediocre ones. Best series ever? My arse.

Arlene can only say "wow", apparently. It wasn't just brilliant for an amateur, it was brilliant for a profesional. Len loved the whole thing - it had comedy (well, "comedy"), quickstep, tango - he liked Rachel's, but this was something else. Bruno says showdances could never be more showy than this (lie). "Whatever you had, you threw it out there, and everybody lapped it up!" he says. I think that was my problem with all three of the showdances this year - they felt more like a lot of ideas cobbled together in the hope of coherence, rather than an actual completed dance, though I concede that Tom's was the most coherent of the lot. Craig says "you're like Bisto gravy darling, you save the best 'til last." Camilla and Tom are ecstatic, as well they might be.

House of Tesstosterone: Camilla never thought she'd hear those words from Craig. And then my PVR cuts out again, so it's back to iPlayer. Damn you, BBC!

Both couples have performed their last dances, so we get a final reminder of their performances from the second show. The always-thrilling Viennese waltz showdown, and then two underwhelming showdances, one slightly less so than the other. Whee.

Bruce reminds us that the lines will be closing in 10 minutes, "so if you want to vote for your favourite, you don't have to wait long". But he's not doddery, etc. And that means of course we've got 10 minutes of filler ahead of us, so we've got the artist behind this year's best-selling album: Duffy. Hey, at least it wasn't Adele. Small mercies, eh? No pun intended, for she is indeed singing 'Mercy'. She does an odd arm-dance during the chorus. Brian and Kristina come on to do a bit of cha cha cha for the second verse. Wow, Kristina can kick her legs up high. And wow, Duffy's face is almost as expressive as Rachel's!

Now there's another "special treat" for us: James and Ola with a cha cha cha to a jazzed-up 'Summertime'. I am so over both James and Ola at this point, so I couldn't care less, to be honest, though I'm sure this will have made Carrie happy. [Heee, it did! It was possibly my highlight of the night. I liked Ola's dress that made her look like a sexy Christmas tree, and I liked James's vest. James may be "tender" with Cherie, but he and Ola have lust, which is much more fun to watch. - Carrie]

"How many dances can there be in this wonderful night?" wonders Bruce. Not many more, I hope. Bruce is in the audience with first-ever champion Natasha Kaplinsky, who says she wouldn't have got past the first week in this series (and I know she's not really rated that highly in the list of previous winners, but come on, she wasn't that bad). Claudia is sitting next to her, which Bruce doesn't spot at first. Natasha says that at this point everyone is bruised and tired, but it's an amazing feeling. Bruce reminds us that during the first ever show, Natasha asked Bruce to help her get eliminated. Bruce claims her exact words were "Bruce, can you possibly get me off now?" Words which she later repeated to Brendan, if the tabloids are to be believed. Thank you, I'll be here all week! Don't forget to tip your waitress! Natasha talks about her baby, who is not sleeping through the night. His name is Arlo - "was that the name of the hospital?" asks Bruce. Natasha says she is very tired. It's the first time she's been back, she adds. Bruce gets cross with an off-camera person who's giving him "the hurry up". Oh dear.

Finally, some filler I'm actually interested in: the other four winners, all dancing together! (I'm guessing Natasha was asked, but declined due to aforementioned baby-related exhaustion.) A VT says it will be "the best of the best". And, presumably Darren Gough. "The champions are coming back, and we're a force to be reckoned with," says Alesha. I'm disappointed she didn't say "coming back strong" in a Mis-Teeq style. Tess declares the phone lines officially closed, so while the votes are being counted, here are Alesha, Mark, Darren, Jill and their partners.

It's awesome to see Alesha and Jill dancing together, though to be honest I could take or leave the other two. It is quite impressive how they're making all of their most famous routines fit 'Let Me Entertain You', though. And even with Darren Gough in the mix, the standard here compared to the standard of this year's finalists makes an even more obvious mockery of all the "best series ever" bollocks. I know I keep saying it, but when the show keeps making ridiculous and unfounded claims, I feel the need to refute them as often as possible.

Tess sits with Rachel's brothers, whom she calls "The Mitchells", and they are very proud of her. They have, however, not been inspired to dance by their sister's success. Tess then turns to Clare, Tom's BRAND NEW WIFE, who sacrificed her HONEYMOON and WEDDING for this show. She says how Tom is so happy on the dancefloor that it makes her happy. Tom's mum says he is very lucky to be in this competition (hee) and has been brilliant.

A VT looking back at the two finalists' time on the show. Rachel loves Vincent, Vincent loves Rachel, Tom loves Camilla, Camilla loves Tom. Really, there is nothing here that we haven't heard a gazillion times before, so let's just move on to the next bit.

AT LAST, it's time for the results. Sixteen couples are down to two. This is the moment of truth. Rachel and Vincent have been in the dance-off three times, but have also broken all kinds of records. Tom has wanted to dance like Fred Astaire all his life, and postponed his HONEYMOON, which came after his WEDDING, to take part in this show. The winners of Strictly Come Dancing 2008 are...Tom and Camilla!

Rachel smiles graciously in defeat, having peaked in second position just like during her solo career, and Camilla loses her shit, Alexandra-style. The other contestants all come on to congratulate the victors, and Tom's WIFE, who is RECENT, applauds in the audience. Everyone kisses and hugs Tom, and LOL JOHN SERGEANT LEGERND! stands behind the glitterball trophy, prompting Bruce to scold him that he's not the winner. Heh. Rachel has had the best time of her life, and wants to thank everyone who made this possible, especially Vincent. Tess repeats her "will you carry on seeing each other?" line, despite having almost clearing the room with its inappropriateness last year. Tom's first thanks go to his WIFE, and he can't wait to be a newlywed (heh). He thanks everyone at the pub and at Ken's house (okay), and tells Camilla that really it's all about her because she earned it. Awww. Maybe he's not so bad after all. Camilla wants to thank her parents, who couldn't be here tonight, though she's been phoning them all night to keep them updated, and her boyfriend. "Of course, you're from Denmark!" says Bruce, as though this has just occurred to him.

It's time to present the trophy, and Tom sweetly stands back and lets Camilla lift it. Bruce thanks the other contestants, the judges ("who never get thanked enough", as Craig is bopping away to a song in his head) and the viewers at home. Tom and Camilla dance their victory dance to 'I've Had The Time Of My Life', and it is very silly, as you'd expect, but they both look so happy, I don't want to be a bitch about it. First time for everything, I know. And then Tom's NEW WIFE comes on to congratulate him.

And that's the end of that! A slightly dissatisfying finale which crowned a slightly dissatisfying winner (he was probably the best on the night, but Rachel was better across the series, in my opinion) to end a slightly dissatisfying series. Let's hope that next year we get some more engaging celebrities (preferably not as many as sixteen) and the judges can it with the goddamn overmarking already. Whatever happens, we will be here to recap the whole thing and we hope you'll join us. Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year, and of course: keeeeeeeep dancing!


Hannah said...

Thank you for your blog, I have really enjoyed reading it this series! Can't wait til next year!!

Hudsondoglets said...

Thanks for the entertainment. Look forward to next year! Great blog!

CCB said...

Thanks for the bitching guys. Although I've probably disagreed with you more this year than previously (I've been behind Tom since Vincent read his "story" on Takes Two), Strictly wouldn't be the same without you.

Meggie Rose said...

Yeah this could have done without slating Tom so much and gushing over Lisa. Lisa is so fake. I usually enjoy your blog but like this years series (according to you), it was a bit lacking this year. Try not be so biased.

Also, I've just seen your name is "Steve" which explains the gushing over gushy Lisa.

Anyway, Tom's showdance was amazing, Tom was great, good series! Woopdeedoo.

Carrie said...

Hi Meggie Rose, the whole point of our blog is to be biased. If you want to read "unbiased" coverage, try the BBC website.

Also, I don't think Steve's Steveness would explain why he likes Lisa more than Tom.

And we still don't like Tom.

Steven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.