Monday, 27 October 2008

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

- The men are touching up all the time. Their make-up, that is.
- Various people in the show are still determined to make Mark dance in his trunks at the final. LET IT GO ALREADY.
- Arlene first met Craig when she was looking for dancers to dance around a drag act she was choreographing. He was one of the butch ones.
- The judges have all got changed in the same dressing room. Please God, let it not have been at the same time.
- Len marked Tom's Viennese waltz down because he thinks Tom is capable of more. Can anyone say "marking relatively"?
- Apparently Tom got married recently, or something. You'd think this would've come up before now, wouldn't you?
- "Fleckerl" has an r in it, which we probably did already know, but we keep forgetting because it looks weird. And we probably won't be spelling it that way ever again because it offends our eyes.
- Anton thinks Andrew and Ola should have been top of the leaderboard last week because they were the most improved, demonstrating once and for all why Anton must never be given a position of power on this show. Although he has to be given credit for having some consistent method of gauging appropriate scores.
- Arlene going "SEV-UN!!" with one eye on Len will never stop being hilarious.
- Lisa apparently arrives at work in the mornings five minutes before her show starts. Is it just us, or is that cutting it a bit fine?
- Kristina has a "John is fabulous" slogan t-shirt that she wears in training. Along with a fluffy bolero jacket. Because Kristina is awesome.
- 'Ask Len' makes us want to cut people.
- Craig loves showbiz. Who would have thought it?
- Ian rocked up to Wednesday's ITT wearing a black velvet jacket with a white shirt and black cravat and couldn't have looked more like a Wildean dandy if he'd tried.
- Jodie's protestations that Ian will be in trouble with her boyfriend for kissing her so much in rehearsal seemed oddly unconvincing. Ian certainly did not look worried.
- James's horrified mugs to the camera during rehearsal are really quite amusing. His lingering sense of resentment about early exits in previous series is not.
- According to Len, in the samba, you can't just get out there on the dancefloor and pfffffffffffffffffft. That's the kind of insider knowledge you only get from being a Head Judge.
- Claudia doing samba rolls with Len may be the funniest thing on television in months.
- Craig and Claudia both like Cutting Crew's 'I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight'. Arlene is not a fan.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Different strokes for different folks

Week 6 Results
Tx 26th October 2008

It's Strictly Sunday! Welcome back all the dancers, and your glamorous hosts. Daly Dresswatch: short, figure-hugging, mauve. Better than the grey curtain she was wearing last night, if a little bit 80s. Brucie says that anyone could be leaving tonight - a sportsman, a TV presenter, a model, etc - and Tess butts in with "or an all-round entertainer!" Bruce patronises Tess because she got to do a punchline for once, and she accuses him of being jealous because she got a laugh. [Ha! Brilliant work from Bruce this weekend. - Carrie] Last night on Strictly, the couples performed either a Viennese waltz or a paso doble, the singers massacred every song in sight, and Arlene and Bruno amused themselves by doing impressions of Len and his stupid SEV-UNNs. Your filler for this evening will include: Mambo Madness with Brian and Kristina (they could get a job at the Sheldrake Hotel with an act like that) [yeah, but did she get changed in the back of his car? - Carrie], Enrique Iglesias, and the stars of the West End show Jersey Boys.

Recap! Len noticed that Mark's "not a natural dancer", and Craig thought his paso was "grotesque". Mark says that nerves got the better of him. It couldn't possibly be that he's just not a very good dancer, could it? Roger Black thinks the problem is that Mark's "not a very aggressive person". I think they call that Acting. Where's John Barrowman when you need him? Alan Hansen thinks "his days on the programme are short-lived". Len agrees with me that the problem is that he can't dance and looks gangly.

Sergeant Sergeant "took marching to a whole new level" in his paso. It wasn't exactly what you'd call a dance though. Backstage, John says they "always need supporters", but don't want to be pathetic - like all those other fools who beg people to vote, I think he's saying. Kenny Logan likes him, but he's biased towards crap dancers. Each to their own. Noddy Holder (what is he doing there?) says that when John dragged Kristina over the floor "like a sack of spuds" was "the defining moment of Strictly tonight". [The Voice of Slade speaks the truth. - Carrie]

Christine and Matthew's paso was apparently like Madonna and Guy Ritchie having a domestic - one of Arlene's stranger metaphors, even for her. I was too busy shuddering at the sight of Christine's ribs to have an opinion on her dancing. Someone give that woman a good meal. Adrian Chiles reckons he'd be good at the paso (no doubt we'll see next year), but Christine never stops smiling, "her facial muscles don't work that way". Some would suggest he'd know exactly what her facial muscles are capable of. Len didn't understand how Craig could give her a 3, and Craig explains that he didn't like it, duh.

Everyone has been studying Andrew's bum, but he got it under control in his Viennese waltz. He actually managed to dance, rather than just survive. Charlie Clements wants Andrew to stay in "purely to see Ola more". Because if she wasn't there, there would be no skimpily clad hot ladies?

Bruno thought that Jodie and Ian's paso was "rough", while Craig found it "a little bit square, a little bit stompy", but "exciting to watch". Jodie says she's never felt safe, and Ian is worried about being in the middle of the leaderboard, which as we all know is Very Dangerous. Arlene complains that the celebs think all they need to do is pull a grumpy face to be aggressive, but "it has to come from within".

Heather and Brian's Viennese waltz was controversial. Arlene and Len liked it, Craig thought it was "pedestrian". Shovell (of M People fame) thinks she's going to get stronger and stronger.

Lisa and Brendan's paso was quite awesome, I thought, and deserved a bit better score than 29. Roger Black thought it was the best dance of the night, but they were stiffed by going on first, and would have got a better score if they'd been last. [True. By that stage at least two of the panel would have been marking relatively to the rest of the shite that had been shoved onto the floor. - Carrie] Cherie and James still got 31 points even though she completely stuffed it up. James says it's only one mistake - yes, but then it ruined her confidence for the rest of the dance. No way it was better than Lisa and Brendan. They must be The Chosen Ones. Noddy Holder thinks she'll "give the young'uns a run for their money. Not that she's old". Not compared to Brucie, maybe. [Or Noddy Holder. - Carrie]

Len randomly decided to slag off Rachel and Vincent's fairytale Viennese waltz, but still gave it an 8, the same as Craig, who liked it.

Len also had a go at Tom and Camilla's waltz because he was doing toe leads rather than heel leads. One can't help but feel he wouldn't even have bothered about that for some dancers. Tom's WIFE Clare says that he was distracted by HONEYMOONS and WEDDING BELLS. That was last week. This is now. Get a new excuse.

Austin and Erin topped the leaderboard with their Viennese waltz. Backstage, newly discovered poet Austin says that "eights are great and nines are fine". Kenny Logan says that the judges overmarked Austin, whilst being heckled by his wife. Len describes their dance as being "like a beautiful sentence [which] started off with a capital letter and finished with a full stop", which: huh?

Bruce tells the judges that he's in the Beano, and goes on about Jonathan Ross some more. Is anyone else bored of this grudge match? He even drags Len into his gag. Len says he was surprised that the Viennese waltzes were better than the paso dobles overall, and some of the couples really need to start putting work in. Bruce asks Craig whether anyone exceeded his expectations, and he names Andrew Castle for tucking his bottom under, and Austin for being good at dancing and also a rugby player. Yes, Craig, but it is week 6, and he has been good for the last five weeks, so it's not as though anyone was expecting him to suddenly be shit this week, is it?

Now the cast of Jersey Boys, singing 'Oh What A Night' and doing synchronised dance moves, accompanied by some of the pro dancers. Which is nice.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Tess insists on rehashing the chorus so we can all see the impromptu dance moves that Austin, Tom and Andrew put together. Andrew can't even get that in time. Heather says she's enjoying herself immensely, and hopes she won't be in the dance-off for a third time. Christine is very worried about being in the dance-off, but she has to go out there with the fighting spirit, like Xtina in the song, and do it again if she has to. VT filler: everyone's families think their relative celebs are doing a great job, etc. The Rachel Brothers make another appearance. Lisa's dad Nigel points out that Strictly champion Alesha was from Welwyn Garden City, just like Lisa, and they want to do the double. Etc.

Now a mambo demonstration by "Mambo Expert" Kristina and "her partner" Brian Fortuna. Ha ha. There's lots of shimmying. It's an amazing routine actually. The celebs who are confronted with doing the mambo next week are going to feel a bit daunted after that. Back in the House of Tesstosterone, John Sergeant says that he's taught Kristina everything she knows. Heh. Andrew says it feels terrible when the judges say nasty things, and thanks Ola for getting him some nice comments this week.

A quick It Takes Two plug: next week, some dancers, some judges. No exciting guests then.

Bruce asks Arlene whether anyone disappointed her, and she replies that she was "slightly disappointed with the paso girls" because she had high hopes for each of them, but "somehow it didn't work". Why did Bruno gave 9s to Austin and Tom? They are, apparently , "the king and the crown prince", and gave "the strongest, most effective performances of the night", which he had to recognise. It was "like the War of the Roses, who's going to get the kingdom? It was great to watch." There's not really any competition, is there? Austin is still miles ahead.

Now tonight's special guest (poor Jersey Boys! They are not special), Latin sensation Enrique Iglesias singing 'Hero', and boring Vincent and Flavia doing a rumba in purple. Oh, yay, Darren and Lilia. We like them more.

Time for the results! Whoop! Oh, they got me again... VT filler about how nobody wants to leave. Well, you know how I feel about this, I think I made it pretty clear last week. Blah, blah, blah. NOW the results. The nine couples who are safe are: Heather and Brian, who look chuffed, and he picks her up and swings her round - bless; Rachel and Vincent; John and Kristina (when will enough be enough? "Dear oh dear!" says Brucie); Austin and Erin; Tom and Camilla; Cherie and James; Lisa and Brendan, who look relieved rather than pleased; Christine and Matthew; Jodie and Ian.

That means the dance-off will be Andrew and Ola's Viennese waltz against Mark and Hayley's paso, and short of a miracle, I think we can be fairly sure what the result's going to be. This dance-off must be Head Judge Len's wet dream and he brings out the sporting metaphors, telling Andrew to imagine he's 0-40 down, on his second serve - he needs to serve an ace, and no foot faults; whilst Mark should imagine he's swimming with 10 yards to go - he has to come out [heh - Steve] and attack. Andrew and Ola dance first, followed by Mark and Hayley. Andrew is as competent as he was "yesterday", while Mark is actually a bit better. I don't think the judges are going to take improvement into account over lack of any talent though.

Craig says that under pressure, one couple cracked and the other couple held it together, and he's going to save the latter - Andrew and Ola. Arlene lies and says that, "Sometimes these choices are so hard because the couples have worked so hard", but the couple who really came out and performed were Andrew and Ola. Bruno says to him, "It was obvious that one couple had the edge" - Andrew and Ola. Nope, no surprises there. So Mark and Hayley are out, and Head Judge Len doesn't get a vote again. This week he says he did agree, although nobody cares.

Bruce asks Mark if there's anything he'd like to say "to your lovely Kristina?" Oops! But he's not doddery, etc. Mark apologises for letting Hayley down, and she tells him not to be silly. She's crying, aww. They were good entertainment, but you'd have to say it's the right result. Their last dance is 'Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word', and Mark strips off his top. [I stare open-mouthed in pure horror. DO NOT WANT INAPPROPRIATE NUDITY IN THE BALLROOM. Who knows where it will end? - Carrie] The audience screams, and Arlene applauds particularly loudly.

Next week, every couple will do a different dance! Join us then!

Mixed Dobles

Week six: 25th October 2008

Last week: everyone finally fucking danced together, at last! Tom went into orbit (I wish), while Heather was lacklustre and laboured. This week, the competition heats up, and everyone looks quite mardy! This! Is Strictly Come Dancing! Live!

Tess Daly dresswatch: a matt grey number which supports her bosom and does not make her look pregnant. Her wardrobe people really have been doing very well this series. Tess says Bruce looks angry this week - Bruce says he is, because of the headlines last weekend about him quitting the show. Bruce reaffirms that he's not a quitter - he's just been sacked a few times. Then there's an odd little bit where Bruce is affronted because they thought he was 81, and Tess points out he's not 81 until February, and...that's sort of it. There's no punchline to it, just a bit about everyone remembering to send cards. Hmm.

Thankfully we do not dwell on this and instead introduce our stars: Tom and Camilla, Christine and Matthew, Lisa and Brendan, Austin and Erin, Jodie and Ian, Mark and Hayley, Heather and Brian, John and Kristina, Rachel and Vincent, Andrew and Ola, and Cherie and James. It's really quite alarming that we've been going for this long, and still there are so many people left in it. Don't get me wrong, I love this show, but even I'm starting to feel slightly fatigued at the concept.

Tess tells us things we already know about how the voting works, while Bruce explains that tonight is Paso Doble/Viennese Waltz night, otherwise known as Exciting/Boring night. Lisa and Brendan are up first, where a list of things that Lisa has advertised in her modelling work sends Bruce into a Generation Game flashback. Cuddly toy! Last week, Lisa's American Smooth was lovely, and the judges were all floored, giving her a score of 35. Lisa was flabbergasted to be (joint) top of the leaderboard, and now she's tasted it she wants to stay there. She tells us about her exhausting day, getting up early to be on the radio and then going straight to Brendan when she leaves. Somehow I think getting up for the radio show is probably the easier part of that. They talk about wanting to be there at the final, and Lisa wants to make an impression. "Explosion! That's the plan," she says.

They're dancing the Paso, and Lisa is dressed a little bit like Spider Woman, as in Kiss Of The... Sooner or later you're certain to meet, in the bedroom, the parlour or even the street, etc. Their routine is to 'Eye Of The Tiger', and it's pretty good. Very dramatic and with a good air of menace about it, although Lisa is pulling that Renée-Zellweger-sucking-a-particularly-sour-lemon face throughout, which she often does when she's concentrating. It was a great routine, though - and knowing how appalling most of the Pasos are going to be tonight, I made the most of it.

It's Dave Arch (of the Strictly band "fame")'s birthday today (Saturday), in case you were wondering. Send him a card, maybe stick a PS in there asking him to recruit some new singers. Just a thought. Obligatory joke about the judges of which Craig is the butt, and Bruce apologises to Craig, saying that that's how the joke goes down the line. There's no reason why they couldn't start with Craig and go the other way though, is there? Or indeed why they can't just list the judges in a random order, and ultimately make Head Judge Len the butt of the joke every week? I'd like that.

Head Judge Len explains how the Paso works, as if we didn't already know: the man is a matador and the lady is his cape, and it has to have drama and passion, but no props and definitely not a PINK SPARKLEE CAPE OF YEY, sadly. Len thought their routine was excellent, and had a bit of drama about it, but warns Lisa that sometimes her head falls forward and she loses her neckline. Bruno says that at times it was a little bit too Vogue and not enough blood and guts, and Len immediately jumps in with the rebuttals of this. Oh, joy. Bruno explains that all the work was in Lisa's face (does that mean she shares a plastic surgeon with Arlene?) but that she hunched her shoulders, which hampered her in places. Craig half-agrees with Bruno, saying that at times there was strength in her arms, but at others they lacked purpose and intent. Indeed, what is the purpose of arms? I'm still trying to work that one out. He adds that she was hunched in the spins, but it was a wonderful routine and he thought she did it well. Arlene thinks everyone has said it all, but does not take the opportunity to leave it there: instead she tells Lisa that she needs to open and widen her spine and open her chest. Like Mark Foster?

What follows is something I had to watch about four times before I figured it out: Bruce says Lisa needs to work on her chest, and she replies sunnily, "I can do that!" and holds her boobs a bit more prominently, and Bruce recoils - I thought at first because of the boob thing, but I think what actually happened is that Lisa accidentally spat on him when she was talking. That's my best guess, anyway. Lisa is hugely apologetic and exits bent double with laughter, heading for the House of Tesstosterone. Lisa tells Tess that the face was a Brendan face, which explains a lot. Lisa reacts favourably to the criticism, saying that she hadn't realised she was doing all those things wrong, and she can work on that in future. Good for her. Judges' scores are in: sevens from Craig and Arlene, eight from Len and seven from Bruno for a total of 29. Brendan whispers to Tess that he doesn't like sevens, and Lisa responds "he doesn't even like eights!" Hee. Brendan hotly denies this, and Lisa makes her peace with her score by invoking "lucky number seven". At least she didn't invoke Lucky Number Slevin, because that movie was fucking awful.

Next are Andrew and Ola, and we flash back to last week where he fucked up his American Smooth and had a minor breakdown in front of the judges, though just stopped short of sitting on the steps and having a cry, which is just as well, because you have to be as woobie-tastic as Matt Di Angelo to pull that off. Ola says that the key thing for this week will be keeping Andrew's bum in, so she ties them together during rehearsals. Kinky! It appears to be making a difference. Ola says she wants Andrew to tuck his bum in and remember his steps. "Doesn't want much, does she?" Andrew says.

They're doing a Viennese Waltz to 'Annie's Song', and amazingly, Ola's choreography does not begin with Andrew standing there like a statue while she writhes around him for a bit; instead they get straight on with the whirling around. It's not bad, really, but this is quite a boring dance, and this is quite a boring rendition of it. There's a bit in the middle where Andrew fucks up a little bit and judders along - nothing major, but just something I spotted when I was pausing the routine for recapping purposes. And also grabbing some Pro Plus. Bruce cracks the obligatory joke about what a chore it must be to be tied to Ola all day, and Head Judge Len explains the Viennese Waltz to us, which is to say: it's romantic, and involves lots of turning around. A bit like 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart', except without the power chords. [And the aliens. - Carrie] Len says he studied Andrew's bum, and he's mastered that - "Bumgate is no longer an issue". Len thinks Andrew needs to be less careful - it doesn't matter if he mucks it up, because it's better to go down fighting. Bruno says he can sense a flicker of hope on the horizon, and that Andrew's posture is better - once his confidence gets there, he'll improve. Craig says the butt is better, but Andrew isn't bringing his feet together before he goes off again. Arlene says there were technical faults, but for a fleeting moment he was into the dance, which is good. I see they're really not pushing that "GMTV presenter who can dance!" thing any more, are they?

House of Tesstosterone: Tess claims the judges are seeing "huge improvement", but unless she's talking about season two of Gossip Girl, I can only assume she's wrong, because I think "slight improvement" is the most honest translation of the judges' comments. She also points out that Andrew's scores have got lower every week, and Andrew's all "yeah, thanks." Scores: five from Craig, six from Arlene, SEV-UN!! from Len and six from Bruno, for a total of 24 - Andrew's highest score so far.

Christine and Matthew are next - Bruce says that Christine's hoping to bring a flavour of Spain to the programme with her Paso, and it helps that she's the presenter of The Juan Show. The audience groans, and Bruce says "it was just a little joke. Evidently", which is the first sign that Bruce is totally on fire tonight. In the VT, Christine says that the samba suited their personalities because they have a good laugh. Matthew says that Christine is a sweet, bubbly girl which is not at all what the Paso is like. Christine's attempt at "menacing" is pronounced "cute" by Matthew, which is not what she's going for, and Christine admits that attempting to be SRS BSNS just makes her start giggling. In training, Matthew tells Christine that she needs to scare him a bit more. This would have been a perfect opportunity for Christine to lift up her skirt and flash her vagina at him, but apparently this doesn't occur to her. They develop a Spanish character for her, Carmen Maria, to help her feel the menace.

Carmen Christine and Matthew take to the floor, with Christine apparently dressed as a rainbow trout, and their Paso is to Christina Aguilera's 'Fighter', and my one consolation here is that the singer cannot possibly butcher it as much as she did 'Hurt' last year. It starts out quite nicely with some lovely shapes, but as soon as the guitar kicks in and they start dancing properly, it all goes to shit quite quickly. Christine is stiff and Matthew is basically dragging her around the floor. There are actually points where she just stands there while Matthew dances, and it looks like someone's deactivated her. Her attempts at kicks are also woeful. And just to top it off, she wraps herself around Matthew at the end and shows her ribcage to the entire audience. Dear Christine, please eat a sandwich. Or twelve. Love, Steve. Arlene says she didn't get Spain or bullfight - it looked more like a domestic with "you" (Matthew, apparently) as Madonna and "you" (Christine) as "a bored Guy Ritchie". Heh. Len says that not all dances suit everyone, and that Christine did what she did well (I beg to differ), but that she's too nice a person for the Paso. Which is bollocks, because Letitia Dean's Paso last year was good, and she seemed like a lovely person. [Likewise, Alesha did a good paso and she is queen of everything. - Carrie] And Dominic Littlewood was a dick, and his was awful. Just saying. Christine takes it as a compliment, anyway. Bruno says Christine doesn't have a nasty bone in her body, "or a spine either, judging by what you were doing". Ooh, dear. Craig found it odd "because you were at times ragdollish and at other times plankish and awkward". That's actually a pretty accurate summary, but Arlene and Len contend that it wasn't that bad. It was, though. Bruce attempts to do the "you're my favourite" thing but Christine keeps talking over him, leaving an exasperated Bruce to exclaim "what that Adrian must go through with you!" Hee! See, he's still totally got it.

Backstage, Tess continues the "you're too nice for the Paso" defence, and Christine says she finds it hard to be aggressive. She didn't have too much of a problem with it after the judges' comments in week four though, did she? Again, just saying. Scores: three from Craig, to gasps and boos, a ridiculous six from Arlene, Len shoots a death glare at Craig saying "that was worse than Andrew Castle's, then, was it?" and awards Christine seven, and six from Bruno, for a total of 22. And while there isn't enough time in the world to pull apart the layers of bullshit that surround Len these days, let me just make a couple of points here:

1. Yes, that was worse than Andrew Castle's routine. The biggest problem with his Viennese Waltz was that it was dull. It was, however, possible to watch without your hands in front of your face, which was not something I feel able to say about Christine's Paso.
2. Len can fuck right off, because according to his own logic, Jessie Wallace's quickstep was worse than anything Gary Rhodes ever did, which is absolute horseshit.
3. For someone who takes so much pride in being "the nice judge", that was a really shitty thing to do to Andrew. I'm no fan of Andrew's, but as far as I'm concerned, he owes Len a smack in the chops for that little dig.

Anyway, Tess tells Christine it's her lowest score of the competition, and Christine apologises to Matthew, saying that it's possibly his lowest score EVER. It's a nice sentiment, ruined slightly by the fact that she's mugging at the camera throughout. She hopes the public will save her so she can do a happy dance next week. Like Snoopy.

Austin and Erin are next. The slight mess up he made in his samba last week is blown out of all proportion in his VT, because we all know he's not going anywhere for a long time yet, but it's nice to see him at least pretend he might have been in danger. He says it was good to have a reality check. In training, his old rugby injuries flare up, possibly not aided by the moment where he's wearing a rubber band around his head and pings it.

They're dancing the Viennese Waltz to 'Send In The Clowns', which Carrie pointed out to me is, appropriately enough, a song written for someone who can't sing. This shouldn't trouble the band much, then. There are lots of close-ups of the footwork during the dance, some of which look slightly sloppy, but it's a good routine, all in all. Bruno says it's like watching the return of the king (overlong and full of short people?) and says that the routine held his attention throughout, without breaks. And considering this is Bruno, that's quite an accomplishment. Craig says he too was transfixed throughout, but he just wishes Austin had smiled once in it. The other judges all shout him down for it. Len says "this isn't Family Fortunes", which makes no sense. Arlene says that Austin can take control of this world class dancer with ease, and ends up with "send in Austin", which - what? Len reminds us that Austin is a MANLY SPORTSMAN and then makes his sex face while thinking of the dance. I'm very sorry for that mental image, but believe me, it was no more pleasant to witness first-hand.

House of Tesstosterone: Austin's been training all day every day, and admits to having been really nervous this week, but also really excited. Tess ignores all of this and asks him about his daughters, for some reason. [His daughters, of whom there ARE FOUR. - Carrie] Scores: eights from Craig and Arlene, nines from Len and Bruno for a total of 34. Tess tells Austin he's back at the top of the leaderboard. Yes, against those powerhouses Andrew Castle and Christine Bleakley - what an achievement!

Cherie and an unshaven James are next, and Bruce tells another joke with no punchline about her Kenco commercials. They fell to third place last week, and their VT features them saying they didn't deserve to be any higher anyway. James says there aren't enough hours in a day to perfect the Paso, and Cherie counters that there aren't enough hours in the year. The training footage does not look promising, with Cherie using the wrong feet, and almost breaking James's back. It ends on an awesome shot of Cherie bent over the balance bar asking "will it get better, James?" and James, with his face hidden, pulling a face and going "yeah!"

Their Paso gets off to a horrendous start when Cherie wanders off in an entirely wrong direction and James has to grab her by the arm and pull her back, practically pulling her off her feet. This isn't a great routine of theirs, sadly - it's quite obvious that Cherie isn't confident in her steps throughout and it isn't really dramatic or exciting like a Paso should be - other than the excitement that comes from wondering if she's going to fuck up again. Craig says the shaping of the arms and the timing was good, but it lacked a connection. He alludes to her having "lost her balance" at the beginning and Cherie, for her part, openly admits that she went completely wrong there. Bruce tells her never to own up to a mistake on this show. Arlene wishes Cherie could go back and do that again with fire in her belly, because she lost her courage this week. Len says Cherie will never dance bad(ly), because she's got natural rhythm (and she's not even black!), but her confidence let her down, and it wasn't up to her normal standard. "Not quite a ten?" says James, chancing his arm. Heh. Bruno tells Cherie she is naturally gifted, but her performance wasn't up to her usual standard tonight. They are actually letting her off quite nicely given that she screwed that one up pretty badly.

House of Tesstosterone: Cherie admits she's struggled with this dance, but she thinks the judges were fair. James says that she was thinking of her mistake throughout the dance. Scores: seven from Craig, eights from Arlene, Len and Bruno for a total of 31. That was really overmarked. I like Cherie, but no way did that deserve 31. [To mark her fairly would screw up their narrative arc. - Carrie]

Dance-off survivors Heather and Brian are next in line, and Bruce attempts a riff on the American English school of language-based humour, which Eddie Izzard has done far better in the past, so I'll skip right by it. In her VT, Heather says that when Craig called her samba "all the Ls", she knew he didn't mean luscious or lovely. Heh. She's a bit down this week after having been in the dance-off twice, so she goes off to do what she does best - singing at Warrington Parr Hall, apparently. Brian goes along and stands in the audience, bless him. He tells her she needs to take some of her confidence from the stage onto the dancefloor.

They're dancing the Viennese Waltz to Mariah Carey's 'Vision of Love', which you know is going to be an utter trainwreck of an interpretation by the band before the singer even sings a note. It's a shame, because Heather and Brian's dance is pretty nice, but I found it hard to focus on it with the horrendous singing in the background. As a result, I don't have anything much to say about it beyond MY EARS MY EARS D:

Arlene tells Heather this dance suits her, that she could feel the relationship, and she adored the shoulder shimmy. Head Judge Len, Dance Expert, refers to his notes and says he called it the "funky bit". He tells Heather she's been in the bottom two for two weeks, and Heather's all "I know?" But she maintained her posture and did well. Bruno calls her "a vision of loveliness", and that she was focused and connected. Craig found it "pedestrian" and "jagged" and "flat-footed". The judges fight again.

House of Tesstosterone: Heather says she wouldn't like to go home. That's pretty much it. Scores: five from Craig, "SEV-UNN!" from Arlene (she says it just like that too - hee!), seven from Len and eight from Bruno for a total of 27. Heather's highest score so far, which means she's - yes - movin' on up. Wah wah waaaah.

Leaderboard: Austin and Erin in first place, Cherie and James second, Lisa and Brendan third, Heather and Brian fourth, Andrew and Ola fifth, and Christine and Matthew at the bottom.

Mark and Hayley are next. There's a joke about Mark's near-nakedness last week, which ends as it always must with Bruce calling Arlene an old tart. Lovely. In the VT, Hayley says it's hard to get any aggression out of Mark, so she takes him boxing with Olympic medallist James DeGale. Hey, if nothing else, he'll be able to punch the judges if they give him low marks. Their Paso is to Kelly Clarkson's 'Since U Been Gone', obliterated by the singers, obviously, and what begins as a fairly awkward but at least reasonably aggressive dance soon crumbles when halfway through Mark completely forgets his moves and struggles to improvise. It's quite painful to watch, and my heart kind of goes out to him at this point, because that's quite a humiliating thing to have happen on national television. Bruno calls it a painful shambles, saying that Mark lost it so many times this week. Craig says it was "like a stick insect on acid" and "at times rather grotesque". Boo, hiss, etc. Arlene attempts to salvage everything by asking Mark if he swims with a rhythm, and keeps trying to plug away at it even though Mark isn't really getting it, and really it's nice of her to try and offer that kind of advice, but it's falling on deaf ears. Len says that Mark is not a natural dancer - "you're no good at dancing, I'm no good at swimming, it can't be helped." Eh, at least Arlene tried to be constructive, I guess. I think it's going to take a miracle to save Mark at this point.

House of Tesstosterone: Tess tells him to use the boxing training to give some fighting talk to the judges, and Mark says that he was focusing so much on his counting that he forgot. The ever-attentive Tess ignores this and pulls out a pair of swimming trunks and discusses how Mark might look in them. FIRE THIS WOMAN NOW. Scores: two from Craig, three from Arlene, six from Len (give me strength) and five from Bruno, for a total of 16.

Next are Tom and Camilla - Tom's hair is slicked back, and he looks a bit like Mathew Horne as a result. Hey, did you know Tom got married last weekend? It's certainly BRAND NEW INFORMATION to me. Bruce breaks out of his introductory joke to sing a little jokey song about marriage, which I imagine prompts the producer to have a small fit in the gallery. Tom's VT mentions that last weekend was perfect because he danced the American Smooth and then GOT MARRIED. Camilla went on his HONEYMOON because he has to train, and this really must suck for Mrs Chambers. She's a very understanding lady, clearly, and Tom says as much.

They're dancing a Viennese Waltz to 'I Can't Help Falling In Love With You' and in my eyes, he looks smugger than ever throughout, but I freely admit that I don't much care for Tom and therefore am hardly an unbiased witness. I don't know - it looks decent enough, but I don't see much of a romance in there - he looks more aloof than anything. Craig says that aside from a few flaws, it was gorgeous. Arlene thought it was a beautiful performance and they have a fabulous relationship - it was a whisper from perfection. Len didn't like it much, because Tom messed up his fleckle, and on every reverse turn he did a toe lead instead of a heel lead. There follows an amazing bit where Tom's eyes flick away as he goes over it in his head, all "moi?", and then he looks at Camilla and Len snaps "don't look at her, I'm telling you the truth!" Hee. Any smackdown of Tom is good by me. Len adds that Tom did the reverse turns "all on your balls", and everyone laughs. "We all missed that!" says Bruce. Len says Tom didn't work on refining the dance. Bruno calls Tom a smooth operator and says that he covered up the mistakes with assurance, and as a member of the audience, he is charmed - to which Len quite rightly points out that Bruno is a judge, not a member of the audience. Ugh, I can't believe I'm actually siding with Len.

House of Tesstosterone: O HAY YOU GUIZ TOM JUST GOT MARRIED. Scores: seven from Craig, nine from Arlene, seven from Len, and nine from Bruno, for a total of 32.

Oh God, John and Kristina - this is going to hurt. They are dancing a Paso - leading to a joke which implies John is senile and Bruce saying "I hope I don't end up like that". Meta-humour! Last week, John's samba sucked, and so did his personality, because now he's decided that the public loves him and therefore he can be as much of an ass as he wants. We see a clip of Arlene stomping to the judges' green room and complaining that "he" was awful, but we don't necessarily know that she was actually talking about John. John talks about having been in the cadets, and enjoying all the marching in the Paso. He drags Kristina around the rehearsal room, and all I can say is that I hope this show is stumping up to give her a year's subscription to Bupa.

John has at least remembered to adopt a frowning expression for this dance, but that's probably the most complimentary thing I'm going to be able to say about it. He doesn't appear to do any actual dancing - he just walks rhythmically around while Kristina sells the whole thing as much as possible. She deserves a medal, she really does. Bruce: "Oh, John - what can I say? That you'd believe?" Hee. "That bit at the start - were you dragging her off to be recycled?" Hee! Len says that Sergeant should be demoted to Private. Bruce calls Bruno "Craig" and Bruno says that it looked like "Dad's Army does the Paso", but applauds John for keeping in time. Craig says that John took marching to a whole new level and chooses to leave it there. Arlene says he looked grumpy rather than dramatic, but he looked like he had a good party. Charles Kennedy is in the audience, bizarrely.

House of Tesstosterone: John was thinking of Craig's comments from last week to get in the mood. Scores: three from Craig, six from Arlene, six from Len, and six from Bruno for a total of 21.

Rachel and Vincent are next. Rachel says in her VT that she panicked last week when she messed up - and here we were thinking it was just that she has no personality! In training, her mood has not lifted - so her fiancé Alex comes in to cheer her up. Rachel doesn't want to let Vincent down. Vincent really does not look good in profile. It makes him look like Bat Boy.

Their Viennese Waltz is to 'Everybody Hurts', and Rachel has a sparkly silver dress that makes her look like the ballerina inside a music box. Obviously this isn't the most fascinating routine because (a) it's a Viennese Waltz and (b) it's Rachel, but I rather like this. It's sweet and romantic and technically proficient, and I think that's really all we can ask of it.

Arlene thought it was wistful, romantic and charming, and she loved seeing an actual performance. Len found it all very pretty, but thought there was no performance. He shouts a lot, because he is rude. Bruno thought it was graceful and elegant, simple but effective. Wow, there is damning with faint praise there. Craig thought there was lots of storytelling in it, despite what Len said. Rachel heads to the House of Tesstosterone while the judges continue to argue. Rachel says it felt like a fairytale. Scores: eight from Craig, eight from Arlene, eight from Len and eight from Bruno, for a total of 32. So all that arguing, for everyone to give the same score. Egad.

Finally, it's Ian and Jodie. Aww, I love Jodie. Last week her American Smooth surprised everyone (by not being shit, is the subtext here). Jodie is amazed to be considered "the dark horse" and doesn't really believe it. Her John Krasinski-lookalike boyfriend (where can I get one of those?) is very proud of her. Jodie was flattered to have the same score as Rachel. She says the Paso face is very similar to a catwalk face, which seems to involve just holding your breath. Ian thinks Jodie has a great character for the dance, and then wears some bananas as horns. Hee! Their VT ends with them both doing "model face" into the camera, and seriously, these two are so cute. I love them.

Their Paso is to Blur's 'Song 2', which sounds like a bizarre choice but sort of works. Sort of. I think they've got the best sense of drama in their Paso out of anyone this evening, which excuses the slight lack of precision in my book. I like it, anyway. It's up there with Lisa's as the best Paso of the evening, but to be honest, that's not really a huge compliment. Bruno says this was "rough to watch", because Jodie went so much for attack that the precision went, and the moral seems to be "don't try so hard". Craig calls it "square" and "stompy", but found it exciting to watch. Arlene says that it didn't work for her. Len didn't mind it - it was competent. Not Jodie's best, not her worst. That's that, then.

House of Tesstosterone: Jodie really enjoyed it, but found the pace hard to keep up with. She's proud of herself given the timeframe she had in which to achieve it. Scores: sixes from Craig and Arlene, seven from Len and a Len-aping "SEV-UNN!" from Bruno. Hah, they're all at it tonight! Total score of 26, which Jodie is happy with, considering the comments. Ian realises his nipples are pert and attempts to cover them up. Jodie puts her hand over the little lump in his shirt. Hee.

Leaderboard: Austin and Erin at the top, Tom and Camilla second, Rachel and Vincent third, Cherie and James fourth, Lisa and Brendan fifth, Heather and Brian sixth, Jodie and Ian seventh, Andrew and Ola eighth, Christine and Matthew ninth, John and Kristina tenth and Mark and Hayley eleventh.

Recap: Lisa setting the bar high for the Paso, Andrew's dull Viennese Waltz, Christine's trainwreck of a Paso, Austin and Erin's romantic routine, Cherie not actually getting it wrong in this clip, Heather and Brian being a vision of loveliness, the bit of the Paso that Mark actually remembered, Tom not even registering Camilla was in the room, John marching around while Kristina dances, Rachel engaging Viennese Waltz Setting #5, and Jodie and Ian going a bit nutso with theirs, entertainingly.

Enrique Iglesias will be performing on the results show, as will the cast of Jersey Boys, and Brian and Kristina will show us how to mambo. Georgi will be bringing you all the details!

Monday, 20 October 2008

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

- Marian Keyes and Lilia are going to get gay-married. Presumably Darren is okay with this.
- Don is this year's Gabby Logan, except less annoying, and less good.
- Claudia agrees with us that Len and Bruno do not possess any paddles numbered below six.
- Craig would like to give more top marks.
- Gerry DeVeaux is still pursuing the whole "TV personality" thing, despite being arguably the worst judge on any Top Model franchise ever. Yes, including Nolé Marin.
- Karen's husband doesn't put his dirty laundry in the basket. The fiend!
- Jodie is a lover, not a fighter.
- Len hates horses on country roads and badger poo.
- The female dancer can actually play three roles in the paso doble - the bull, the cape, and we forget what the other one was.
- Len deplores the use of props in the paso. WOT NO CAPING?
- Carrie fell asleep while watching Wednesday's It Takes Two, and couldn't remember why until she re-watched it on Thursday and discovered that it was a Rachel/Vincent interview that pushed her over the edge.
- Tom is dancing this week for Mrs Chambers. No, not his mum, but his wife. YES, THAT'S RIGHT, READERS, Tom has a wife!
- Gary danced a waltz. With Flavia. Because Karen had locked herself in a cupboard to avoid the horror.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Can't Smile Without Don

Week 5 results
Tx 19th October 2008

"Last" "night", ALL 12 COUPLES went head-to-head for your votes! The competition was fierce! So were the judges! And Brucie even made three jokes that were actually funny, which is three more than usual! Whose Journey (drink!) will end tonight? Titles!

Welcome back the couples, Bruce and Tess, etc. This is the weekend of Tom Chambers’ wedding, as if we didn’t know. Bruce makes a topical joke about Madonna getting divorced. Tonight there’s an air of despair on the dancefloor, apparently. Coming up, Katherine Jenkins and Darcey Bussell, a pro paso, and Alesha Dixon with her new single! Yay!

Recap! John and Kristina finished last – I loved their ironic song choice. Unfortunately the judges weren’t that keen. John says that he’s in the perfect position - at the bottom - to annoy the judges. Hee! Bruno thought Mark’s pecs were the only thing worth watching in his and Hayley’s samba. Mark just wanted to entertain people. I know Mark’s dancing was terrible, but I did enjoy the enthusiasm with which he did it. That’s what acting lessons from John Barrowman will do for a man. I’d Do Anything winner Jodie Prenger was in the audience and thinks that people wouldn’t have been watching Mark’s rhythm with a top like that, which presumably was the idea. Andrew and Ola received a plethora of criticism from Craig. Rav Wilding, whoever he may be, thought Andrew was going to drop Ola. We were sort of hoping too. Andrew says that in his own head he deserved zero. Heather was doing blaxploitation this week. She was more upset by the judges’ comments last week than this week, because it was her “first experience of the judges in such harsh terms”. Heather’s husband says that, “The public need to do the job that the judges aren’t doing.” [Holding up paddles one to five? - Steve] Don and Lilia’s American smooth was adequate. Len wouldn’t like to try and lift Lilia, the fat bitch. Don would like to go out on a high, and he doesn’t think he did justice to the dance this week. Jodie and Ian had a cunningly choreographed lift which meant that Ian didn’t actually have to lift her off the floor. Jodie works out that they got the highest score they’ve had from all of the judges. Jodie’s boyfriend Thomas was incredibly impressed, and Penny Lancaster says Jodie used her height to her advantage. Christine says it was great, she loved every single second of it, but hopes she doesn’t have to do it again. Craig says that Christine’s beaming smile from ear to ear made him feel “all warm and gooey”. Phil Tufnell thinks she was “top drawer”. Rachel says of her error, “It just threw me, because it was before we were about to do this fast move thing.” Vincent tells her it was a pivot. But it’s okay, because Bruno knew it was “just a bleep”. Her fiancé thought she showed everyone her raunchy side. Austin was annoyed with himself for messing the steps up. Austin’s wife Louise says he likes “the sequins and camping it up”. This fact has not gone unnoticed. Cherie and James got lots of nice comments, but for my money it didn’t feel much like a glamorous American smooth because of a poor song choice. Cherie is pleased but wishes she had been a bit more relaxed. Mark Ramprakash says she’s polished when she dances and looks great. Len is also a fan. Brendan lied to Claudia on It Takes Two about not putting any lifts in his American smooth, but he and Lisa did a great dance and are joint first. Craig thinks Lisa’s confidence has been boosted. Lisa never would have dreamt she’d get three 9s. Tom is getting married in the morning, ding dong the bells are gonna chime, etc. Tom’s vicar says he’s “heard of smooth, but that was really smooth”. Tom’s stag party promise they aren’t going to do anything embarrassing to him. Much. Who still has their stag do the night before the wedding anyway?

Bruce gets some comments from the judges. Len is so much blah – we’ve got a great competition on our hands, some couples are stronger but there’s no leader of the pack, anything can happen. Arlene thought Lisa’s transformation was the big surprise of the night; people know her as a presenter and model, but she can now add “dancer and actress” to her CV.

Now, Katherine Jenkins and Darcey Bussell, in very shiny gold dresses. Plus some random curly haired man for Darcey to dance with. Anton and Erin and Ian and Camilla are also getting in on the action. I don’t know what she’s singing and I don’t really care, but apparently it’s called ‘Viva Tonight’.

In the House of Tesstosterone, John thinks the public will save him – but what if they don’t? He tells Tess it will shatter his faith in democracy. Andrew would love to be back, blah. He doesn’t want to go out, “but if it has to be so, the dance-off it is, John”. John protests that there’s no way he’s going to be in the dance-off. Lisa says it’s “a dream come true” to be at the top of leaderboard.

Now we’re at a new stage in the competition... I feel some filler coming on... what do people around the country think? Some old women like Austin. An old man likes Cherie and James. Another old woman likes Don “because he’s so handsome”. Young men are keeping their eye on Rachel because she’s hot. Construction workers like Lisa. Normal men like John. Rastafarians are supporting Heather. Bored Now.

Next week, our couples will do either the Viennese waltz or the paso doble. Time to bring on the capes, and also the verb “to cape”, with any luck. [I hope the Pink Sparklee CAPE OF YEY makes an appearance. - Steve] Here are the professionals to show us how it’s done. Karen is looking quite scary. Brendan gives good cape, and gets to wear a top that laces up the front. For some reason they’re dancing to Kaiser Chiefs’ ‘I Predict A Riot’. Your Bitching correspondent has sung it better than the Strictly singers at punk rock karaoke. Brian’s paso face is scary. Oh, don’t you think Brian looks sinister when he smiles too? It’s because he looks like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Heeeeere’s Brian!

Back in the House of Tesstosterone, Cherie fancies trying the paso next week. It makes her think of panthers and tigers. Grrr! Someone’s been watching too much Big Cat Live. Tom says has has a good view from the top of the leaderboard, but he’s hoping he’s “not standing on an avalanche”. [Is it even possible to stand on an avalanche? - Steve]

Time to hear what Bruno and Craig thought. Did the show match up to Bruno’s expectations? “Definitely. It was a meaty show, you could really put your teeth into it.” Jodie showed us what she can do and the potential she has. Craig gave two 8s because he was impressed – the standard this year is “extremely high”. He’s not only impressed with the people who have improved, but also the crap people “for their courage” in coming on the show.

Before the dance-off, a special treat - yayz! – Alesha and her new single. Her dress is also glittery, but very, very short. She has the Glittery Pink Microphone of Yaaaay! Her song seems to be about a man who never does any household chores. I was just thinking she’d struggle to do any dancing in those heels when she struts off the stage and joins in the dancing. Alesha rules. [I texted Steve to inform him that I love Alesha so much it makes me want to cry. He concurred. - Carrie] She gets to dance with all the men, including Matthew at the end. Bruce approves of her single, deeming it “very catchy”.

Finally, it’s time to find out who is in the dance-off.... no, sorry, I spoke too soon. Is it really necessary to have a VT every fucking week for the celebs to tell us that they don’t want to get voted off? We know nobody wants to be in the chuffing dance-off! They’ve told us five times now! It was obvious in the first place! Enough already!

It’s really results time now. Go spotlights! The couples who are safe are: Lisa and Brendan; Cherie and James; Jodie and Ian; Rachel and Vincent; Tom and Camilla; Austin and Erin; John and Kristina; Mark and Hayley; Christine and Matthew; Andrew and Ola. [Gah! Will we never be rid of Andrew Castle? - Steve]

So the two couples in the dance-off are Heather and Brian, and Don and Lilia. The racialist British public strikes again! I don’t want to see either of them go, but it will be an interesting dance-off. Len says that Heather is a performer and she needs to come out and perform, whereas Don needs to come out and act it more. Heather and Brian are first to dance. Heather’s attitude is immediately better than it was during her lacklustre performance earlier. She still looks a bit like Brian’s dragging her round the floor in places though. Her footwork isn’t very good. Aww, and Brian kissed her cheek at the end. Don’s hands are a bit better this time, although he forgets to extend them after about 20 seconds of dancing. The gods must be smiling on him, because he manages again not to drop Lilia. On the basis of this dance, I’d vote for Don and Lilia – I think their dance overall was a smoother performance - but what will the judges decide? Craig says that, “The improvement in both couples was spectacular, but the couple who had the edge was Heather and Brian”. Arlene says that, “Len’s advice to each couple was about their performance, and the best performance was Heather and Brian”. Bruno says that both couples came back and “did a great job considering the circumstances”, but “by a whisker” he’s going to save Heather and Brian. That means Head Judge Len doesn’t get a vote – ha ha ha.

Don says that Lilia is wonderful, and if he’s sad for anything, he’s sad that he won’t be able to dance with her anymore. Awwww. Lilia says she has enjoyed spending time with him and dancing with him. Bruce remembers that he probably ought to see what Len thought, even though it is meaningless – Len didn’t agree. He would have gone for Don, because he thought it was “a more polished performance”. Heather came out and performed better, but she had “a lot of foot faults”. Don’s dance was “cleaner and better”. This may be the first time I’ve agreed with Len this series. [Me too. I like Don and I love Lilia, and I could quite happily have lost Andrew, Christine, Mark (though I'd miss Hayley), or Cherie, though I realise that's unlikely for another few weeks. - Carrie]

Don and Lilia head on to the dancefloor for their last dance to ‘Baby Can I Hold You Tonight’. Lilia is crying. It’s sad when couples like these two get voted off, but the standard is high and we had to start losing people we like sooner or later. Join us again next week for Viennese waltzes and paso dobles!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Mesh tops and mess-ups

Tonight! The battle begins! Because the previous weeks were just filler to get rid of randoms who'd wandered in off the street! This! Is! Strictly Come Dancing! Live!


Bruce, Tess (looking damned fine again from far away - a navy blue gown with black net petticoats - but I'm not convinced by the swirly detail). Gag about Austin/Tom/Arlene lust. [Hott. - Steve] Cracking on, it's boys vs girls, so let's meet the couples, except you know who they are. So instead let's watch the first couple dance.

It's the teeny-tiny Rachel and Vincent. Last week she cried but danced well. Her brothers look and talk like the Mitchells. The samba is her favourite dance so far; she references Dirty Dancing; she chats about pressure, and mentions her journey. Oh, Rachel, bless your heart. She looks beautiful, anyway, in a jade dress, and they dance to Hips Don't Lie, which is obviously massacred by the singers. Anyway, it's fine. Nothing special, but it's tidy enough. [I have a feeling we're going to be saying that a lot about her. She's always technically proficient, but that's all there ever is. - Steve]

Bruce makes a non-joke introducing the judges; Len says the samba, like every other dance, is the most difficult; Vincent makes accusations of dance sabotage. Bruno liked the teasing but thinks Rachel should be more raunchy. Craig admires her placement and technique but was underwhelmed by the performance values. Arlene calls it a "social dance", and is clearly expecting either a laugh or booing, but gets only silence. Rachel reiterates that it was her favourite dance, she'll take the comments on board, and will try to do better next time. Scores - Craig 7, Arlene 7, Len 8, Bruno 8.

Lisa and Brendan are next. Last week they rumbaed and Brendan sulked about not getting 9s. Lisa weeps in rehearsal and looks stressed. "I feel like giving up and I don't wanna give up," she says through a strangled sobbing voice. "GOOD GIRL!" patronises Brendan as she takes hold. They're American smoothing to Monterey, and Lisa looks so beautiful, quite different from the over-tired girl-next-door type we see in all the practice footage. I really think she might be my favourite. My real favourite, not my Bruciesque "shit" favourite. [I was so pleased for Lisa finally getting it all together this week and justifying my love. GOOD GIRL, as Brendan would say. - Steve] It's all very sleek and the lifts are nice; Len explains for the gazillionth time what an American smooth is, and then hails Lisa as a good dancer. Bruno says words that make little to no sense about baths or bars or something. Craig hates to be the bearer of bad news but there were some stumbles in the first lift, there was some hopping, but overall it was fantastic. Arlene is drunk. Scores - Craig 8, Arlene 9, Len 9, Bruno 9. Brendan is finally happy.

Heather has an Afro this week and looks like Foxxy Cleopatra. She is from London and therefore would like to bring some of the Notting Hill carnival to her samba. Her dancing is a bit knock-kneed, and I don't know if it's just the hair or the way she dances, but there's more of a disco feel about this. Brian is all quick footwork, and Heather looks like a galumphing clod-hopping lump. "Lifeless, lacklustre, laboured," says Craig, and finishes off with: "The only good thing about it was the end." Arlene tells her off for letting Brian do all the work. Len says the salsa and the samba are very similar, and he thinks she is thinking about the steps more than the performance. Bruno says she looks the part but took too much time to get into it. Bruce tells them that they're his favourites, and the audience groan. Ha. Scores - Craig 4, Arlene 6, Len 6, Bruno 7.

The crowd whoop for Cherie and James. She has evidently absorbed sporting metaphors from her time as The Manageress, as she packs her VT full of footballing cliche and tops it off with a teeth-grindingly irritating mention of Fred and Ginger. They're American smoothing to the bouncy, folky version of Layla [Would Fred and Ginger have danced to this? I think not. - Georgi], and personally I don't think Cherie's footwork looks as secure this week, particularly when she's rotating. James looks fiiiiiiiiine, though. Arlene is still drunk. Len loved it. Bruno admires the elegance and precision. Craig wanted more pizzazz and then there is squabbling. James says something and there's queeny lip-pursing and eyebrow-raising. Tess patronises Cherie for a bit; Cherie talks about Ginger bloody Rogers some more. Scores - Craig 7 (at which Cherie and James look outraged), Arlene 9, Len 9, Bruno 9.

Mark Foster is wearing a mesh top, going down the time-honoured Ola route of flaunting your body if the routine isn't up to much. Arlene suggested an acting coach, but instead of doing that he's gone to John Barrowman for advice. [Don't forget he KNOWS HIS CRAFT. - Steve] The Barrowman makes him declaim the lyrics to Spice Up Your Life (which is what they're sambaing to) and they shout at each other. I do NOT remember Peter "Indeed, indeed" Gallagher using these techniques with Gethin. Poor Mark is just holding onto Hayley while she dances and wiggles to the sounds of cats being murdered to a Spice Girls backing track. [Bruce asks Mark, "Where were you swimming to get caught in that net?" AHAHAHAHAHA! - Georgi] Craig lusts after Mark's magnificent body and says nice things about the body-popping, but everything else was rubbish. Arlene remains drunk: "a trashy Hallowe'en party", anyone? Len likens himself to Mark. Ha. Ha. He reminds us it is difficult to dance if you are tall. Fuck off. Tess pervs a bit. You can fuck off too. Scores - Craig 3, Arlene 4, Len 5, Bruno 5.

Lilia has been making Don smile more this week. Don declaims his way through his VT, which I like. He finds lifting Lilia very strenuous; "it's just a bit shocking," he tells her. Lilia speaketh thus: "He will NOT drop me." Don calls her "very precious cargo". Aw. They smooth to a caterwauled Can't Smile Without You. I like the routine, and I like Don; some of his arm extensions are a bit strange, but maybe he is put off by the singer failing to hit the key change just as he's about to lift Lilia. Craig calls it adequate and comments on tight shoulders and funky fingers. Arlene is necking gin under the desk. Len didn't mind it at all, and says it is a very difficult dance to do once you're over a certain age because of all the lifting. Everyone boos as he has called Lilia fat by implication. Bruno says something about Don being an actor. Lilia says Don never lets his nerves and emotion show because he is PROFESSIONAL, which is an awesome burn on the blubbing tossers that tend to populate the show. Scores - sixes from everyone except Head Judge Len and his stupid SE-VEN!

Joke about Arlene sexually harassing Austin, who is dancing next with Erin and her new face. His daughters chant, "Well done, Daddy!" For some reason, Will Greenwood comes to rehearsal and tells him where he's going wrong. They're sambaing to Junior Senior's Move Your Feet, the introduction to which the band completely ruin, which throws them off slightly. Austin's samba rolls are poor, and though his footwork is quick, it's not exactly the same as Erin's. Arlene has descended into spirit-fuelled lechery now. Len thought the whole thing was very good, except for when he forgot the steps. Arlene interrupts to pick a fight. Bruno says something about whisking people into a frenzy; Craig says he likes the tightness of Austin's upper body "in a dance way". HA. Scores - 8s across the board.

Bruce makes a good gag, which is an event so rare I shall now reproduce it verbatim: "During the 1980s, Andrew was Britain's number one tennis player. Mind you, I was number five and I don't even play." Andrew admires Ola for putting her trust in him to lift her, even though he is an imbecile. Damn straight. They're dancing to You Know I'm No Good, which is...weird. He's still stooping over Ola and it looks dreadful, and they utterly fuck up the lift at the end. Bruno calls it "dazed and confused"; Craig has "a plethora of things that was wrong with that", and proceeds to list many of them, and Andrew agrees with him. Arlene says, "I'm hoping for a GMTV presenter that can dance! Don't let me down!" and Andrew smacks her down with "Not letting you down is the last thing on my mind. Letting Ola down is on MY mind." Len calls it a gallant effort, and admires the clicking. Backstage, Andrew says, "That's the worst we've done it all week. Never mind, we'll have another go later." Scores - Craig 3, Arlene 4, Len 5, Bruno 5.

Christine cried last week because people voted for her. She has been working hard in dance rehearsal, then she has to rush off to read an autocue for half an hour alongside Adrian Chiles. It must be a very difficult life. I miss Alesha. Matthew is all wiggly and smiley, bless him, and she just strikes me as more coltish than coquettish. Len says she did a great job for her first time dancing Latin. Bruno says that she has the requisite carefree joy but needs to improve her technique, and Craig says she recovered well from her mistakes. Arlene is mumbling and slurring. Scores - Craig 7, Arlene 7, Len 8, Bruno 8.

Bruce goes into a vague Rex Harrison impression before introducing Jodie and Ian. Ian laughs at her in rehearsal. Jodie declares that she is a fighter. She has a dress with wings, which are bound to make it difficult to dance when you are TALL. They're smoothing to Witchcraft, and I really like this; Jodie's another one like Lisa who seems a game girl, one you might be friends with. Arlene is incoherent now and even Bruce is stunned at her conduct. Len says something about elegance. Bruno mispronounces all his words. Scores - Craig 7, Arlene 7, Len 8, Bruno 8.

John is now going to samba with Kristina. Everyone is greatly enthusiastic about it. A samba group gatecrashes their rehearsal, while he is sitting quietly in a chair reading the papers. He looks quite excited. They're dancing to Papa Loves Mambo, it is exactly how you'd expect it to be, and he's obviously trying not to laugh. Bless them both. Arlene makes party dance/party conference gag. Len says he would vote for John if he were at home. [Because Len is the VOICE OF THE PEOPLE, in case we weren't clear. - Steve] Craig calls it dreadful. Scores - Craig 2, Arlene 4, Len 5, Bruno 5. John says he is not disappointed because he knows the public will save them. Genius. [Eh. I am so over John at this point. Stop being so smug and PUT SOME BLOODY EFFORT IN. - Steve]

Finally, Tom - WHO IS GETTING MARRIED TOMORROW - and Camilla. In rehearsal, he talks about his fiancee, whom he is marrying tomorrow. They American smooth to Chicago, and I am very taken with Tom's ballroom hair and new Acting face. He also has very shiny shoes, impressive footwork and finishes on a lift, so well done all. [Objectively I can see he's a very talented dancer, but I just can't get over the fact that I really, really hate him. - Steve] Bruno talks about spinning; Craig liked the charm and confidence; Arlene begins to sing It's Raining Men; Len says he beat Austin tonight. Tess reminds us that Tom is getting married tomorrow. Scores - Craig 8, Arlene 9, Len 9, Bruno 9.

So Tom and Camilla are joint top with Lisa and Brendan; John and Kristina are at the bottom but sooooo won't be going home. Join Georgi tomorrow for the results! But make sure you turn over when special guest star Katherine Jenkins is on!

Monday, 13 October 2008

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

- That sound at the end of every episode of EastEnders is "doof doof doof", apparently.
- The more Len looked at Heather, the more he saw something he didn't like. Bigot.
- Jessie is In A Play which renders her unable to join Darren and Claudia on the sofas, but has taken her elimination with Kate Garraway-esque levels of good humour, so good for her.
- Craig and Len have allegedly swapped personalities - which, while deeply unlikely, would explain how Len suddenly discovered the "5" paddle under his desk this week.
- Craig has NOT been taking any kind of drugs. NONE AT ALL. Just say no. Etc.
- The other dancers have been pointing out to James that his four-week curse is actually a six-week curse, because of the double helping of single-sex rounds. Just like we've been saying for ages.
- Craig is apparently incapable of recognising Britney Spears.
- Brendan will shock us all this weekend by choreographing precisely no lifts into his and Lisa's American Smooth. Except not, because he's already told us about it now.
- Brian's parents are called Andy and Sandy. Awesome.
- Claudia would not run away if Russell Brand was chasing her around the room.
- Tom's flat is rather nice. Also, he's getting married, which is BRAND NEW INFORMATION.
- Christine has now realised the judges weren't actually that harsh to her on Saturday. Jolly good.
- The samba is one of Matthew's favourite dances because it's "loose and wiggly". No comment.
- How Jon Culshaw makes a living as an impressionist is still a mystery.
- Karen's mother told her to always keep her legs together, but she wants to have John Sergeant's babies. One of these is going to make the other very problematic.
- Rachel thinks it will be exciting when the women take on the men for the first time, despite not really being aware of what "exciting" is, aside from it being something that happens to other people.
- When Andrew steps on Ola's foot, it's her fault for being "in the way".
- The most important thing in Colin and Erin's American Smooth from series three was that at no point was Colin touching Erin's bosom. Again: no comment.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

I don't think you're ready for this, Jelly

Results show
Tx Sunday 12th October, 2008

Last night, the laydeez danced! Jessie cried and stropped off; Arlene cried at Cherie's beauty; now one couple must leave FOR EVAH. This! Is! Strictly Come Dancing!


Celeb couples, Bruce, Tess - looking lovely again in a short asymmetric black dress, though I'm not convinced by the shoulder detail, which looks a bit like a dead crow. Bruce is worried about the credit crunch and has to go to the bank to lend them money tomorrow. Ha. Ha. Ha. [Maybe he could lend some to the show's pro-dancers who ARE POOR according to Brendan in one of the Sunday tabloids. - Steve]

Recap from last night. Jessie and Darren were slated roundly, and she cried. Craig feels sorry for her because he knows she was enjoying it; Head Judge Len reckons none of them want to make anyone cry. Jon Culshaw thinks the public will root for her. Jodie and Ian did a tall rumba complete with inappropriate snogging. Des Lynam thought Jodie was TALL but BEAUTIFUL. All the judges want to see her back next week; Head Judge Len thinks she has potential. [Jodie reminds me of Penny Lancaster last year - the judges kept insisting she had potential, but she was consistently average and then got voted off. - Georgi] Heather smiled a lot but her quickstep was not admired. Her son thought they were mean, as did her partner - "it was despicable, actually". Christine and her smug face quickstepped with Matthew to a bloody awful song, which was not appreciated by Head Judge Len. Jane Horrocks thought she looked like Audrey Hepburn. Lisa and Brendan had the JUICE, but he was disappointed with the marks. Johnny Vaughan thinks she'll get better; Lisa's sister is very proud. Rachel and Vincent did a miniature quickstep. She wittered on backstage but it's not worth recapping. Cherie and James were teachers' pets once again, and feel honoured to be top of the leaderboard, the pretentious wankers, but Natalie, her daughter, is not happy about the eroticised dancing.

Bruce welcomes the judges and talks about their hidden talents - Bruno is fluent in Italian, English and gibberish. HAHAHA. Then the joke does not continue as you'd imagine it would, ie with the hidden talents of Arlene, Craig or Len. Len doesn't think anyone stands out just yet; Craig wants the rubbish people to carry on trying hard. Yawn.

Show dance samba with the multiple Latin champions. Carmen's dress is made of spray-painted spider webs. I hate the bloody results show now that it is padded out with a) people I don't know (ie now) or b) people I don't like (ie later on tonight).

Austin has watched sambas on the internet. Erin has told him that he will never be able to be as good as the people who dance on the internet. Tess makes embarrassing comments about the guns. LEAVE IT, DALY. [Austin shows great restraint in keeping his guns holstered. - Georgi] Cherie thinks competing against the boys will change things completely and it'll be tough. Christine is in the middle of the leaderboard and would be very worried should she find herself in the dance-off, and will give it 110 per cent [drink! - Georgi] should that occur.

Filler VT prior to next week's co-ed competing. Bruno draws another car metaphor (qualifiers into a Grand Prix, apparently); Craig says the competition will really begin now; Austin will up his game for he is a sportsman; Jodie thinks everyone has to focus; Don will not be complacent; Christine will up the ante. Bored now, not recapping any more.

Group dance from the pros - an American smooth to Hello Dolly, crucified by the singers, but then we really wouldn't expect anything else, would we? Andrew says that the pros look so happy when they're not dancing with the celebs. Aw. Jessie was frustrated, disappointed and angry last night, just in case we hadn't noticed. Tess tries to comfort her - "you're an actress, the show must go on!" Jessie wails, "I'm not that good an actress!" ["YES YOU ARE!" - Steve, getting in a "you ain't my muvva" joke while he still can, oops spoilers] John and Kristina want to samba next week in order to recreate the steamy atmosphere of Brazil. I suspect he's not being entirely serious.

Next week with Claudia - ALESHA! Whoooooooooop!

Arlene loved Cherie's rumba yesterday; it was so tender, it was "poetry in motion". Bruce hasn't seen her so emotional "since Mark Ramprakash". Yawn. Bruno has taken an alliteration pill - "the babes against the brutes" next week, apparently.

Now - Simply Red. Ew. Camilla and Ian do their best to enliven Something Got Me Started, a track that was first released 17 years ago, but they're fighting a losing battle.

Some more filler - Rachel wants to learn some more dances. Jessie doesn't want to let Darren down. Christine will be devastated if they go out tonight. Heather wants to dance a cha-cha with Brian. Jodie finds it hard to even think about leaving. Cherie feels very loyal to James. Lisa says the thought of letting Brendan down is hideous. Aw. [Is that because she's worried that he might storm off in a sulk? I know I would be. - Georgi]

FINALLY, the sodding results. The couples who will be dancing next week - Cherie and James; Lisa and Brendan; Jodie and Ian (who look absolutely bloody stunned - Ian says, "Well done, good girl!" like Jodie is one of her horses); Rachel and Vincent; Christine and Matthew (she hurls herself at him; he hugs her back in a restrained fashion).

So it's Heather and Brian versus Jessie and Darren, and seriously, I think we know how this is going to pan out, don't we? They dance. The judges give their verdicts - Craig says both couples improved, but the best couple was Heather and Brian; Arlene agrees, mumbling about a "showbiz instinct"; Bruno says that under the circumstances it is hard, but he has to go with Heather and Brian. Many hugs and kisses, and Head Judge Len is obnoxiously contrary, saying he would have saved Jessie and Darren, which is an utter lie but needs to be said to maintain his facade of Man of the People. [Except The People didn't vote for Jessie in the first place, so cram it, Len. - Steve]

That's it for this week. Join us next weekend for the boys/girls head-to-head!

Quickstep and rumba, or: flappers and slappers

Week 4: Laydeez Night Part II
11th October 2008

Last week, Strictly was a night full of dancing drama! The male celebrities took the competition to another level! Tonight, the girls have to up the ante - and Jessie is going to be better. This is Strictly Come Dancing! Titles!

Daly Dresswatch: Tess has finally taken SCB's advice and gone for something with straps (in bright red), which bolsters her bosom instead of flattening it, and looks fabulous. She must have finally got herself a decent wardrobe manager. [I thought she looked a hot mess, personally - what the hell was that ornamental ring around her waist? - Steve] Bruce Jokewatch: Strictly has a much bigger audience than Jonathan Ross. Whatevs. It's time to meet the stars of the show! Whoop! They are, of course: Tom (with some chest hair on show - do you think he realises she's going to make him wax it if they get anywhere near the final) and Camilla; Jessie and Darren; Christine and Matthew; Don and Lila; Lisa and Brendan; Austin and Erin; Jodie and Ian; Mark and Hayley (and I love her dress - I think my Barbies used to have one just like it); Heather and Brian; John and Kristina; Rachel and Vincent; Andrew and Ola; Cherie and James. Bruce points out that,"They all have that focused look in their eyes - is it determination or medication?" I think most medication's likely to have the opposite effect, unless Brucie is suggesting they've been handing round the poppers backstage. Tonight the ladies will be performing a rrrrrraunchy rumba or a quickstep, and the men will be doing a group rueda, whatever that is - Bruce and Tess don't seem to know.

Christine and Matthew are opening the show. Two weeks ago, Christine was wondering if she could do a runner before the show without gettting into trouble. She shouldn't have worried though, because the judges were nice to her and they got through. Christine treats us to the incisive comment that, "Our quickstep does exactly what it says on the tin." Christine is starting to remember what's coming next, which is probably a good thing. She says that she and Matthew are hanging out outside of rehearsals. Yes, but until you become one gestalt entity, Mattesha-style, it's just not happening, love.

Christine and Matthew are dancing to Scouting for Girls' 'She's So Lovely', which viewers of ITT will know Head Judge Len hates. It works surprisingly well, actually. They're light and bouncy across the floor, and I didn't see Christine messing up any footwork - although the camerawork has been really annoying this series; they keep zooming in when you really want to see what their feet are doing. Sort it out, Beeb! It's not a good time to welcome back Dave Archer and his singers and orchestra [it's NEVER a good time to do that - Carrie] - but at least he's wearing a sparkly tie. Bruce jokes that, "We nearly lost a lady before the show - the men aren't dancing this week, so Arlene wanted the night off." Arlene doesn't get called a lady very often. Over to Head Judge Len first, for a precis of what a quickstep should be - "It's a light bright dance. You've got to be fleet of foot, move round the floor effortlessly, and you've got to produce very precise footwork" - and the inevitable comment that that's what they did, but only "by and large". Len didn't like the 16-bar intro of prancing on the stage, he thought it went on too long, and Christine was clinging on for dear life with her left hand. Bruno says that Christine "captured the ebullience of a 1920s flapper", although she lost her frame occasionally, but it was a good effort. Craig loved the opening, just to irritate Len, because he thought their cheekiness came through, and he thought Christine was elegant and gorgeous to watch. However, he felt they were "coming too high off the floor, chasing the beat a bit, and weren't dancing entirely together". The audience doesn't boo his constructive criticism for a change. Arlene says that the quickstep should be "like dancing over hot coals", but sometimes they seemed to land in them. They didn't have the spark she was looking for. Arlene likes Christine's lemon yellow dress though, and describes her as "heaven on a plate".

House of Tesstosterone: Christine thinks she might cry, she's so disappointed with the judges' comments. I didn't think they were that bad. [I was trying to like Christine this week, but she makes it hard. Her comments weren't bad at all. - Carrie] [Also, Christine needs to never wear her hair pulled back that tight ever again - it's not a good idea when you suffer from wideface. - Steve] Tess points out that some of them were encouraging, and Christine is like, "Who??" At least she enjoyed it though. The judges' scores are in: 6s from Craig and Arlene, 7s from Len and Craig, for a total of 26. Looks like they're heading for a dangerous mid-table position.

Next up, Jodie and Ian. Bruce makes a joke at his own expense about how old he is, and then accuses Jonathan Ross of sabotaging his autocue. Two weeks ago, Jodie was in the dance-off, and wowed the judges with her improvement. She says that being in the bottom two has made her more focused. Ian says he's turning Jodie from a tomboy into "something more sensuous", but he's struggling to make her be sexy. Jodie has her fingers crossed that they won't be in the bottom two this week.

They're dancing to 'I Just Can't Stop Loving You', and it's not as bad as I thought it might be. Jodie is in purple, and Ian's top is open to the navel. Jodie has her acting face on. [And they SNOG at the end. Ew. - Carrie] [My mum thinks this means they're definitely shagging. She also thinks that about Christine and Matthew. Bless. - Steve] Head Judge Len says the rumba is very difficult dance - because it's so slow, you need a lot of control. Len thought Jodie's footwork was good, but he didn't see the emotional aspect of it coming out. Bruno says Jodie reminded him of "a classic Maserati Ghibli" - which no, me neither, and most of the audience didn't really get it, but it's some kind of car - "curves all over the place, great to look at, but you keep stalling". She kept stumbling between phrases, and she needs to keep the performance going. Craig thought they were off to a good start because it was "slightly pornographic at the top", lulz, but she seemed "self-conscious and slightly nervous", which ruined it. Arlene says the important thing for the rumba is "not to let the man outdance you", which she thought Jodie was going to manage at the beginning, "but the ice maiden came back" and she lost it. Bruce calls them his favourites, which may be the kiss of death. These scores won't be pretty.

Back in the House of Tesstosterone, Tess points out that "from tomboy to temptress is not easy", and Jodie's disappointed that the judges didn't get her acting. She hopes she has done enough, but she hasn't. The scores are: 4 from Craig, 6s from everyone else, for a total of 22. Ian says that it was "out of her comfort zone", so they are going for the sympathy vote. [I love Jodie because I think she has such an endearing personality, but I'm beginning to think that dancing, generally, is out of her comfort zone. - Steve]

The third couple tonight is Heather and Brian. Bruce gets his hips out, and his new "not doddery" catchphrase. Blah. Heather says she's "having business cards made up - Queen of the Salsa". Hee. She's worried about the quickstep because it doesn't come naturally to her. She's brought her son and nephew to rehearsal - they look bored. What does Brian look like in rehearsals? Open shirt, gold chain... is it the '80s all over again?

Heather's dress is awesome, silver with hot pink trimming. It's not bad, but Heather doesn't look as confident as she did with the salsa last time. They're not really light enough on their feet. Bruno says Heather was "so tight it looked like Russell Brand was chasing her around the room"! It didn't quite work for him. Craig is in two minds about it: the timing at the top wasn't brilliant and technically it wasn't very good, but he loves her energy and thinks it was a great routine. Arlene says the quickstep should bubble and sparkle, but it was "like the champagne had gone flat" - as though Arlene would ever let that happen to her champagne. Heather's shoulders were up in hold, and Craig interrupts and says it wasn't that bad, and accuses Arlene of exaggerating. Len criticises the footwork, because Heather didn't go forward on her toe, but he liked her "top portions". [So basically "I thought you were rubbish, but you've got nice tits"? - Carrie] Arlene says that Brian could "wear anything and look fabulous", and he kisses her hand. Ewwws, so much wrong with that.

Backstage, Heather says she will take the judges' comments on board, but she didn't think she was clinging on. The scores are in: 6s from everyone except Arlene, who gives them 5, for a total of 23. Danger!

Cherie and James are up next. I am so looking forward to their rumba. They topped the leaderboard two weeks ago, with a 9 from Len. James is talking it down. He says Cherie's putting too much pressure on herself, and she says she doesn't want to fall below the high standard she's set for herself. Then she calls James her "rock" because he's so supportive. Bless.

Cherie has her sexy acting face on. They're looking classy in black and white, and they're dancing to 'Songbird'. Cherie does look a bit awkward in the slow steps, so it's probably not going to score as highly as her last dance. It wasn't as raunchy as I was hoping for either. It does have the right emotional feeling for a rumba though. Over to the judges, and Craig says that, "Every single inch of you worked that dance. It was Fab-U-Lous." Arlene says it was beautiful and Cherie's like a hypnotist because she has "never known James to dance so tenderly". Cherie is like: what about the wife? Len says it was "brave of [them] to put in the forward and back basic" rather than cramming in lots of trickery. He thought it was emotional, unlike Jodie, although occasionally she "lost the musicality in [her] arms". Bruno is "revving up", and says it was a cut above everything we've seen so far: "A powerful woman in charge, you know what you want, you know how you're going to get it". He liked what he saw.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Cherie says she's happy that she lived up to her first dance score, and she knows where she did a few things wrong. Tess says Cherie has a figure to die for. The scores are in: 9 from everyone except Len, who shockingly gives them an 8, for a total of 35 - the highest score ever for a rumba. I didn't actually think it was that good. [Me neither, I thought it was a bit stiff - and not in THAT way, either. HA! - but I suspect Cherie's Journey as an Older Lady is one of this year's chosen narratives. - Carrie]

Time for a quick look at the leaderboard: Cherie and James are obviously top with 35, and nobody else can touch them; Christine and Matthew are second on 26, with Heather and Brian on 23, and Jodie and Ian bringing up the rear on 22. Jessie, Lisa and Rachel are still to come, but first some VT filler on the men's group dance rehearsal. Austin decided everyone should dress as Fame for their group rueda rehearsal for some reason. John Sergeant says he has to be paid extra to shimmy. Hee! Tom says that they're "going to make it brilliant, whether we like it or not". Andrew explains that "rueda" means wheel in Spanish, but they're going to "reinvent the wheel". Alrighty then. Mark says that the girls' group dance was amazing, while "ours is what it is". Tess asks John about not dancing with his darling Kristina the whole time, and John says the girls are all throwing themselves at him.

Jessie and Darren are next. Bruce says that last time he called her "Jelly Wallace", and when he asked her if she minded, she said "she was a trifle upset". Ha ha! Jessie got too overexcited in her salsa. She was prepared to do the dance-off, but the audience would never let an 'Ender get in the bottom two. [Except Phil Daniels. And Gillian Taylforth. - Steve] Darren says Jessie is "a bit like a springer spaniel", which is rude. I like their training. Darren: "Does it hurt yet?" Jessie (through gritted teeth): "Yes." Darren: "Which foot next?" Jessie: "Left. Right. It was a choice of two." Hee. Jessie says she wants to impress the judges this week.

Jessie and Darren are dancing to the Beatles' 'Help', which is an unorthodox choice but I can see it working. Jessie's footwork isn't very good though, and they're pretty leaden. I fear the judges will tear them apart, again. Arlene says the quickstep needs "a sporty delivery", and sometimes it was like they were on the dancefloor, and sometimes like they were on the football field. Arlene says Jessie's kicks were emphatically "not good", and she needs to "let your feet rule your shoes", not the other way round. Len advises her that if Jessie's bosom is pushed against the man's body, her posture is wrong. Bruno says if you get that wrong, everything else doesn't look right: "it has a casual, rough look" that isn't right for the elegant quickstep. Her smile was good though. Craig agrees with the rest of the panel: "Not your finest hour."

Backstage, Jessie is devastated, and the atmosphere is funereal. Darren tries to buck up her spirits by saying that she's trained very hard, and they got through it. The judges' scores are: Craig - 3 (boo!), 5s from Arlene and Len, 6 from Bruno "for the smile". That gives them a total of 19.

Lisa and Brendan are the penultimate couple to dance. Bruce jokes that he warned Lisa about Brendan's lifts, and she said "from now on, I'll take the stairs". Lisa says that her salsa was like "an out-of-body experience". Brendan was "brassed off" at the judges' comments, and stormed off outside. But he wasn't upset with Lisa. Really not. Got that? Lisa says she's not going to let the nerves get the better of her this week.

The start of their routine is a bit weird, because the music starts as they're walking on to the floor. They're dancing to 'Suddenly'. Lisa looks awkward at times, and a bit off-balance. She does a good spin though. Her dress is quite nice. It has a jewelled bodice, with blue draped down one side. At the end they carry on walking again. Ooh, I remember now, on ITT they explained that the story of their rumba was like a couple walking in the park. I see what they did there. Bruno says there was "plenty of juice tonight" - "those hips and legs are going to make the wishlist of every man in the country. People will pay good money for that!" Has Bruno turned into some kind of pimp? Craig says he has to congratulate Brendan, "I think you got it right tonight". He loved the choreography, but it was a shame that Lisa's nerves got into her footwork. Arlene says, "Tonight it was 'Come to me, hold me, touch me, feel me'. Everything was right about the rumba", and she thinks Lisa can go even further. Len says once she gets her feet right, her legs and hips are right. He thought they did a very good job.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Brendan is happier with the judges' comments this week. Tess says she's missing the tantrums, so Brendan is like, "Right, I'm off". Hee! Lisa was pleased she got the emotion and the steps working together. The scores are in: 8s all round, for a total of 32. Brendan looks pissed off that he didn't get any 9s.

Finally, Rachel and Vincent. Bruce wants to introduce them in a way young people will get: "a well-fit hottie and her partner who is no minger". Rachel says that last time her legs "literally turned to jelly". I don't think they did. [Unless she means they turned around in the direction of Jelly Wallace? - Steve] She says Bruno should have a book of quotes, and she's right about that. Rachel says she's been "bitten by the Strictly bug", but she's worried and insecure. Stop crying in rehearsals! Vincent says she's going to be fantastic. [Oh, Rachel. You are so sweet, but you really have nothing interesting to say. - Carrie]

Rachel and Vincent are quickstepping to 'Little Green Bag', and it's a dance that quite suits this dinky couple. They're light and elegant across the floor, and there are some good flicks. Rachel loses it a bit when she's out of hold, but it's pretty good - probably the best quickstep we've seen tonight. Craig says it was "light, tight, bright", and he loved all the Charleston stuff". Arlene also chooses to judge them in the form of a list of adjectives - it was "fast, fleet-footed, quick, quirky", and she doesn't think they'll have any trouble when they go head to head with the boys next week. Len says he didn't like all the "fiddling about" at the beginning, but once they took hold it was fantastic. Bruno says they were "flying high with effortless ease, your musicality is so natural". [It's in the science! It's genetically proven! - Steve] He agrees with me that it was the best quickstep of the night.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Tess reminds us that Rachel and Vincent have had an "emotional week", but they're perfect together. Over to the judges for the final scores of the night: 8s from everyone except Len, who gives them a 9, and the world is the right way up again. So that's a total of 33.

Time to check out the final leaderboard, which goes like this: Cherie and James are on top again with 35; Rachel and Vincent, 33; Lisa and Brendan, 32; Christine and Matthew, 26; Heather and Brian, 23; Jodie and Ian, 22; Jessie and Darren, 19. I am predicting Christine and Matthew and Heather and Brian in the dance-off.

Now, time for what we've all be waiting for - the boys' group rueda. Bruce explains that it's a Cuban dance, in a circle, with partner-swapping. Oo-er. The quality of shimmying is varied. This is chaotic. Sorry, I didn't manage to type anything more during that dance because I was in fits of giggles. Bruce knows what he thought: "John Sergeant, you never had it so good." Craig says that John stole his focus, "a bit of conquering to do there, darling - the peripheral vision was working overtime". Lulz. Arlene thanks the girls for pushing John around. She says Mark's shimmy was good, but the rest of the dance he just walked around. Len had his beady eye on Tom and Austin, and he's concerned for the other five guys because they're up against the ladies - "good luck to you, but don't hold your breath". Bruno says that for most of them it was a wheel with a slow puncture. He says there were two top dogs, "you know who you are", and the rest of them need to raise their game.

That's it for tonight - join us tomorrow for the results show, when the nine-time world Latin champions will be here performing a samba, plus an American smooth showcase, and Simply Red. Or just record it, and fast-forward that bit - I leave it up to you.

Monday, 6 October 2008

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

- The Strictly floor manager Alan is rather handsome.
- Brian has his eye on Tom. We bet he has.
- The people in the Strictly production gallery dance to the theme music just like we all do at home.
- Kristina wants John to learn a Latin dance.
- Gary will be knocking on Karen's door to get his chance at a ballroom routine. Karen will have locked it.
- Len and Craig think Tom's arm placement was better than Austin's.
- Claudia's mum loved Don and Lilia's tango. We are extremely taken with the idea of Eve Pollard sitting at home judging Strictly.
- Tom is getting really annoying.
- Len wants a contest to find out who the worst dancer of Strictly history is. Why he'd bother when the show keeps insisting it's Kate Garraway, despite all evidence to the contrary, is beyond us.
- Lisa has the best pair of legs Claudia has ever seen. Anton agrees, for he likes the ladies.
- Ian is hoping Jodie can produce her breast on Saturday. He claims he meant "best", but as Bucks Fizz told us, THE CAMERA NEVER LIES.
- Heather is not a storm in a teacup, she is THE EYE OF THE HURRICANE.
- Nicky Hambleton-Jones is fugly. (Actually, we already knew that, but the Friday panel just reminded us.)
- Len hates Scouting For Girls. Much as it pains us to say it: word, Len.
- Billy Ocean's 'Suddenly' makes Claudia want to poke her eye out. Word, Claudia.
- There are lots of wires under the judges' table, and Len is worried that one foot wrong could lead to him being electrocuted. We're not going to lose any sleep over it.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

End of the Rhodes

Week 3 results
Tx: Sunday 5th October 2008

This week on Strictly, the boys were back in town. The stakes were raised and some of the men rose to the challenge - Austin and Tom - while others fell to the back of the pack - Gary. Tonight, one of them will leave the competition - for good! Titles!

Daly Dresswatch: hot pink, strapless, black belt. I preferred the Grecian gown she had on last night. Bruce whips up some sympathy for Anton getting voted out last week, and says Anton's mum is upset because now he spends more time at home. This is all-out war, isn't it? [Anton will triumph. - Carrie] "Last" "night", the men tangoed and jived. Bruce says that it's an early bath for one couple - but who's going to get the tap end? The joke gets a much better reception than it actually deserves.

Coming up this evening, to distract us from the ridiculous wait for the results: the pro dancers will rumba, Andrea Bocelli will be singing, and Vincent and Flavia will be show-dancing. [Yawn. - Carrie] First, time for a recap!

Gary was terrible - and made Craig turn to God [and made Bruno churn out a "blowjobs" joke - Carrie]. Matt Di Angelo says it was clear that Gary was counting, but "he stayed in time for most of it". And, it is tempting to add, didn't just give up and sit down on the stairs like some people. [Chortle. - Carrie] Willie Thorne thinks Gary is more of a ballroom man than a Latin man. With any luck, we'll never find out. Gary says he should have done better and might have to dance-off. Ya think? Andrew and Ola inexplicably tangoed to '20th Century Boy', and did headbanging - Head Judge Len didn't like it, but that doesn't even matter. Backstage, they hope they've entertained the viewers at home so that we vote for them. The judges are discussing Andrew's posture - Len says that with his head down and his bottom out, he looked like a question mark, and Bruno agrees. Andrew's wife Sophia thinks he might end up in the dance-off, but doesn't reveal whether she witnessed any of the naked practising.

John Sergeant made the tango his own - there wasn't really any drama or passion, but somehow he got away with it. John says he and Kristina were determined to enjoy themselves, and he doesn't care if it wasn't aggressive enough. Awww, he is like a big political teddy-bear, isn't he? What's with all this interviewing the judges backstage now? Craig says that he doesn't care about John's lovely face, it wasn't a tango, which is a bit harsh. Len says it was a competent performance. Mark dull-as-fuck Foster and Hayley's tango was worse, for my money. Mark's mum is pleased that the judges told him he'd improved. Mark thought it was good, having improved on his first week score of 22 by two points.

Don and Lilia's was the best tango of the evening. Bruno could feel the menace. Well, he is an Actor *sweeping arm movement*. Arlene was excited, although it doesn't take much. Don seems really thrilled with his performance, but Len thinks he's going to be a one-trick pony. Christian Solimeno (yeah, me neither, I had to iMDb him - he was in Footballers' Wives) thinks Don was brilliant. [Aw, I heart Christian Solimeno. Though fuck knows why he's on this. - Carrie]

Tom and Camilla jived to 'Black and Gold' in black and gold. See what they did there? Arlene wants to get him and Austin together, but I'm not sure she's planning a jive-off. Matt Di Angelo thinks Tom looks like a professional dancer and is a bit jealous. Tom's fiancee liked it when Tom dived through Camilla's legs, which: too many jokes. Backstage, Tom and Camilla are hi-fiving each other. Austin and Erin are growing on me, and it's not just the effect of Austin's arms being revealed in all their glory. Len didn't like being winked at. Bruno thinks the other couples should be scared. Austin reveals that he nearly kicked Erin in the back of the head when he got overexcited. Sally Phillips thinks Austin is hot, his wife thought he was great, and Martin Johnson says he was annoyingly good [and visibly prevents himself from swearing - Carrie].

Bruce says he's had a complaint that the booing of the judges is turning the show into a pantomime, and he'd just like to say: oh no it isn't! Is it pantomime season already? So, how glad is Len to have saved Don? Len replies that one of the joys of the show is that "certain dances suit certain people", and implies that if Gary stays in, he might eventually get a dance which is right up his street, but I sincerely doubt it. Arlene says that this series of Strictly is "like a game of snakes and ladders", with Tom and Austin at the top, and "the other boys sliding down the snakes". That woman has a way with metaphors, doesn't she?

Time for the professionals to show us what a rumba should look like, which some of the ladies will have to do next week. It's basically like having sex to music, but with clothes on, which makes a group rumba a bit like an orgy on the dancefloor. My, that Kristina is rather limber, isn't she? Darren and Lilia's rumba is one of the least convincing.

In the House of Tesstosterone, it is revealed that Lisa and Brendan will be rumba-ing next week. Lisa says she's trying to get into character and pretend they're in love. She wants to not be as nervous as she was last time. Tess is like: Brendan, loving? You wish. Gary hopes the public will save him, because the whole point of coming on the show was that he wanted to learn how to do ballroom. And there I thought it was about raising money for charidee. On behalf of licence-fee-payers everywhere, Rhodes: pay for your own fucking lessons.

Now, you thought Flavia was gone for good, but she's back with Vincent to do a show dance to 'Endless Love'. Ooh, I like Flavia's dress. The bodice is covered in silver sparkles and the skirt is all raggedy. There's not much of a point to this, though, except presumably the BBC still have to pay Flavia even though she's been voted off, so they might as well get value for money. It's not good enough for a standing ovation from the judges though, unlike Jill and Darren's jive last week.

Back again to the House of Tesstosterone: Andrew doesn't want to go out, but doesn't want anyone else to go out. He'd like to tango with Ola again, but not in the dance-off. Austin hopes he's back next week, but "you never know". In some cases you do, Austin. Tess doesn't want to lose any of the lads. Heh.

Pointless filler VT: the girls are still training hard. Being in the bottom two was traumatising for Jodie, but she's "born and bred a fighter". Lisa's brain can't keep up with the rumba. Jessie's struggling with the quickstep because it's more controlled and graceful. Christine hasn't a clue what a quickstep is yet - but she likes it. Rachel wants to backflip down the stairs, but Vincent wants to save that for the final. Cherie has a lot to live up to, considering her high first-week scores. I can't wait to see her and James's "sensual" rumba - James is filthy, and we all know it. [*faints* - Carrie]

Unnecessary reiteration of "last" "night's" group swing. I know it was good, but do we really need to see it again? I do enjoy Cherie's dance face though. Why is Jessie piggybacking on Darren at the end?

Bruce is sitting in the audience with rugby player Will Greenwood. Bruce has to encourage the audience to applaud him. Bruce reminds us that Matt Dawson got to the final and asks: what it is about rugby players? I think we're wilfully choosing to ignore Kenny Logan at this juncture. Will tells Bruce not to "tar us with the same brush" because "it's the big lads who would struggle," and Austin and Matt are "gobby little scrum-halfs". How much do I not care? On Bruce's other side, Kate Garraway, who (knowingly?) greets Bruce, "Nice to see you". It's not often that Bruce misses out on a chance like that for a catchphrase. The public loved Kate, and saved her week after week - she jokes that it was because of her dancing. She says there are no Kate Garraways in this series, but wants everyone to get behind GMTV's Andrew Castle. If only there weren't so many people who are better than him. Bruce mocks her a bit, and she takes it in good spirits. [I love Kate. She is dignified and gracious, where a normal person would have thrown a hissy-fit and refused to return after the unwarranted meanness. - Carrie]

Anton has found his way into the House of Tesstosterone - you can't keep that man away. He was gutted to leave the competition last week because there's "nothing good about being knocked out", and he was inconsolable. Anton has a new dancing partner: Tess. WTF? Oh, for Children in Need. Tess is excited and nervous, and thinks she may be Anton's greatest challenge yet. He thinks she's right. Based on her lack of improvement over five-and-a-bit series, I'd have to agree.

Next week on It Takes Two with Claudia, it's all about the girls. Plus Anton, who loves the ladies. [Because he LIKES GIRLS. Do not forget this. Ever. - Carrie]

Bruce still has time for a chat with Bruno and Craig. He chooses to ask Bruno about Gary - what words of encouragement can Bruno give him? Bruno says that Gary has had a rough ride, having to do two Latin dances, which he's not very good at, but "his ballroom could be a revelation", he might turn out to be "a master of ballroom". I doubt him. Craig thinks it's obvious that Tom and Austin are frontrunners, but he reckons they have to watch their backs for Don because he believes Don could be "a real threat". Craig also wonders "what the girls are going to amalgamate" when everyone competes together.

Now, for no particular reason, Andrea Bocelli. [I'd rather have had Spaghetti Cat. - Steve]His eyebrows are remarkably emotive. Ooh, Anton and Erin - you can always rely on them for some interpretative dance. They do an impressive spin with Erin balanced on Anton's shoulder - look, no hands! That's pretty much the high point of the performance.

More VT madness - being under the spotlight is scary, etc. Andrew sounds a bit like he's reading poetry: "Heartrate massive. Everything crossed." Blah blah blah. Mark says that ten seconds feels like ten minutes. Yeah, it feels like that for us too, believe you me. Tom wouldn't mind if there was a power cut when he's in the spotlight.

Finally, the results! The couples who are through, in no particular order, are: Tom and Camilla; Andrew and Ola; Austin and Erin; John and Kristina; Don and Lilia. That means Mark and Hayley and Gary and Karen have to dance-off. I think they're probably the right people to be in the dance-off, and may make Steve a psychic. Surely it must be goodbye to Gary Rhodes. Len says that Mark needs to bring more passion to his tango, and Gary needs to just go out there and enjoy his jive. Mark and Hayley are first to dance. Mark looks a bit like a lanky ogre at the beginning - it's his gangly hands. He has a look of intense concentration on his face, but also is acting it a bit better than he did "last" "night". There's nothing to be done about the stupid bit of foxtrot rise-and-fall in the choreography, though. Gary has a big smile plastered on his face. His footwork is okay, but there's no sense of musicality to Gary's dancing. He does do some nice flicks at one point. And my God, his hands are terrible. There's really no competition, is there?

Over to the judges - it's decision time. Craig says he's voting for the better couple in the dance-off, which is a no-brainer - Mark and Hayley. Arlene says that because she saw "the dark and smouldering side of the man", she's saving Mark and Hayley. Bruno has to go for "the couple that returned with added attack, invigorated, snarling" - Mark and Hayley. This means that Gary and Karen are out, and Head Judge Len doesn't get a vote. He agrees anyway, although he thought Gary made "a brave attempt". Bruce asks if Gary would go through all this again, and he says he would. He never got the ballroom dance he wanted, but maybe he'll have that privately. I'm not sure Karen does that sort of performance. They do their last dance to 'Midnight Train to Georgia', and I can't help feeling it's a shame they didn't use Boyz II Men's 'End of the Road'. Gary reveals too late that his strength may be in the slowdance.

That's your lot for this week. Next week, the ladies will be attempting either the rumba or the quickstep. Join us then!