Sunday, 18 October 2009

The Calzagony of defeat

Top 12: 17th October 2009

Before anyone asks, no I certainly am not going to recap the 15 minutes' worth of entirely pointless F1 overrun we were subjected to in place of Strictly last night. Indeed, I think I made my feelings perfectly clear at the time. Quite why we had to sit there and watch the Formula 1 qualifying NOT HAPPEN when we could've been watching Strictly instead is a matter probably only known to BBC1's duty playout editor last night, but it did seem like a very odd decision. Thank heaven for iPlayer, that's all I can say, because my recording of the show was royally buggered.

So, last weekend, the couples shocked and surprised. Tonight, it'll be the judges doing that, and for all the wrong reasons. Expect rage. Titles!

As always, we have Bruce and we have Tess. Daly Dresswatch: Quality Street Coconut Éclair. A disaster. Sorry Tess. Bruce apologises for the delay (not your fault, Bruce) and welcomes us to the show. There's a gag about Bruce going clubbing with Amy Winehouse after last week's show. Please, like the reanimated corpse of Amy wasn't wheeled back into the freezer the second Dionne Bromfield finished singing.

Here are our couples, a great many of whom seem to be auditioning for other roles tonight judging from their attire: Zöe (dressed as someone playing the dual roles of Velma Von Tussle and Roxie Hart in a low-budget amateur musical theatre cabaret) and James, Ricky G (as Vince Fontaine) and Erin, Jo and Brendan, Chris (with pink sparkly braces!) [I knew you'd like them! - Carrie] and Ola, Natalie and Vincent, Jade (Aurora in Kiss of the Spider Woman) and Ian, Craig and Flavia, Ricky and Natalie, Phil and Katya, Ali (Storm in X-Men: The Musical) and Brian, Joe and Kristina, and Laila (Sesame Street's Snuffleupagus, making a one-off cameo in Avenue Q) and Anton.

Tonight's dances are the jive and the Viennese waltz - hooray, two of my favourite dances! It's just a shame that they happen to have fallen into one of the most infuriating and incomprehensible editions of this programme I can ever remember. Tess explains the rules for about the gazillionth time, and then it's time for Ricky and Erin, having to perform at the beginning of the show for once. Bruce makes a joke about all the people with the same or similar names in this series (Joe/Jo, Natalie and Natalie, Ricky and Ricky), which leads him to a reprise of the old "you don't get anything for a pair, not in this game" meme.

Ricky was ill last week, but to his credit, he didn't use it as an excuse for anything. That said, he was disappointed with his foxtrot last week. This week he's jiving, and he feels more confidence. It's a show-offy dance, he thinks, so it's more in his wheelhouse. Erin says it's the return of the Ricky that people want to see. Actually, I kind of liked the Ricky we saw last week. Ricky jeopardises his man-of-the-people vote by talking about having a seventh gear rather than a sixth one - my beloved car Veronica only has five, so clearly Ricky has LOST THE COMMON TOUCH.

I feel it necessary to describe Ricky's outfit as best I can - he's wearing a black jacket with orange sequins on it that make a sort of cityscape picture (the black of his jacket forming the outline of buildings, if you follow), with an orange tie, and orange socks, and an orange comb in his pocket. Not that this will be a routine of gimmickry, you understand. Ricky comes out, combs his hair and vamps about "spreading a lot of jam" before yelling at the band to "hit it" (and I'm sure most of us would rather they didn't, though if the alternative is the Mysterious X Factor Disembodied Finger Sliding Up The Fader, perhaps it's a tough call). They're dancing to 'Boy From New York City'. It's not a great routine, to be honest - there's an awful lot of hopping up and down on his right leg, which makes the whole thing feel rather stilted. The business with the comb proves a bad idea when Ricky struggles to retrieve it from his inside pocket midway through. It's not awful, by any means, but I didn't really enjoy it, and I quite like Ricky.

Bruce welcomes the band, of course, and reminds us that we have judges. Bruce talks about Alesha having been on the Jonathan Ross show last night, but how she wasn't his first choice: he wanted Ricky Whittle, but couldn't pronounce his name. Wah-wah-waaaah. He doesn't acknowledge that Saint Arlene was on Have I Got News For You, and they used the opportunity to do a gag about Alesha writing her autobiography, despite the fact that she isn't. Fact-checking fail. Len is asked what he looks for in the jive, and Len says "kicks, flicks and tricks", and wonders if Ricky has repetitive strain injury, because he's not seen
so many flicks from the left leg in all his life. It wasn't a bad job, but it wasn't really a jive. However, he thinks Ricky embraced the entertainment and the fun of the dance. Alesha enjoyed the use of the comb, which could've been a problem because "it could have fallen down or anything, couldn't it?" Oh Alesha. She thought it could've been sharper, but she enjoyed the personality. Bruno calls it a "one-step wonder" and thought it was more like a can-can than a jive - "not good", is his general verdict. Ricky wonders who took all the jam out of Bruno's doughnut, and Bruno assures us that there's "plenty of jam there". I'm sure I speak for all of us here when I say: ew. Craig says that if we didn't know what a kick-ball-change was before, we do now - and he didn't even point his feet properly. It was lively and exuberant, but repetitive. Bruce shows us all what a kick-ball-change is, even though Ricky just showed us all a gazillion times.

In the House of Tesstosterone, we learn that that song was in fact Ricky's favourite song. His gran is in the audience tonight, and she is very pleased, though we are denied any opportunity to see if she is as awesome as either of Alesha's nans. [I think we can safely assume that she's not. - Carrie] Then Tess talks about Ricky having lost two stone - Erin says that Ricky has a six pack now, and Tess replies, "I can feel it, it's hard." This prompts the audience (and Jo Wood) to snigger considerably. Scores: Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 7, Bruno 5 for a total of 25. Ricky is at least pleased that it's over half marks. They will be doing an American Smooth next week if they get through, Tess tells us.

Next up are Jade and Ian. There follows one of the few gags from tonight that genuinely made me laugh, so I'll record it here: Bruce told Jade that he was going to do a joke about how fast she is, Jade replied that he already did that before, and Bruce said, "I know, it's a running joke." Ba-dum-tish! Last week Jade was cautioned to rein in her dancing because it gets messy at times, and Jade's parents were in the audience, and Jade notes with some irony that her mum can't get over how she's now a beautiful woman. My mum, who was watching the show with me, snorted at this and took it as a sign of Jade's arrogance. Poor Jade - I think her sense of humour is destined to be lost on some people. Jade talks about being on a "journey" of discovery - and sadly, she doesn't mean it in a piss-taking way like she did last week. But she's learning to be emotional, and she hopes it'll be all right on the night.

Their Viennese waltz is to 'It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World' and honestly, it's glorious. I guarantee you, whatever else happens this year, this will be in my top three dances of the series because the choreography is exquisite and the dancing and storytelling are wonderful and even the band are on form. I could honestly watch that dance on a constant loop. Jade tweaks Ian's rear, and Bruce asks what just happened - "did you pinch him?" Ian replies primly, "Yes, she did. On the bottom." I heart Ian. Len says that he's looking for lovely musical lilts, good posture and a mix of natural and reverse turns, perhaps a pivot and the odd fleckerl - everything he saw in Jade's routine. Alesha tells Jade the dance suits her - lovely movement, very graceful, and great body contact. She thinks that Jade captured the spirit of the dance in a very natural way - that while actresses may act it, with Jade it comes from within. Bruno calls it "gorgeous, elegant, and smooth" and then runs off into a terrifying cul-de-sac of a simile that I won't transcribe. Craig thought there was a little bit too much rise and fall, but only marginally, but he thought Jade kept her frame throughout and the whole thing was - and then there's a brilliant bit where Craig says "mag-" and Bruce finishes "magnificent" for him even though I think Craig actually said "magnanimous", which is an odd but perhaps not entirely incorrect way to describe the dance.

Jade and Ian head to the House of Tesstosterone, where Jade said it was really emotional out there and she had to hold back the tears, which doesn't normally happen. Ian says that Jade is very hard on herself and unforgiving when she makes a mistake. Tess asks if they think they can be top of the leaderboard, and after last week, Jade and Ian are somewhat reluctant to be drawn one way or the other. Scores: eight from Craig and nines from everyone else for a total of 35. It's the joint-highest score of the series, which earns Jade a round of applause backstage. She is, understandably, quite chuffed.

On third are Ali and Brian. Bruce says that in Hollyoaks Ali played a teacher who was fired for having an affair with a student, and wonders how anyone could get involved with someone who's teaching them. The camera cuts back to Ali and Brian, the former looking embarrassed and the latter looking somewhat stern. Just remember this little gag for when the time comes for the judges to comment on Jo's Viennese waltz, if you'd be so kind. The VT says that Ali's salsa wasn't tasty last week, which is kind of a crock of shit. Ali says that going from first to second to third on the leaderboard is a worrying trend. Brian takes her out for an "all-American experience" to get in character for the jive, and obviously the show laps up the opportunity to get lots of ZOMG IN-SHOW ROMANCE footage from the occasion, as they go out bowling and drink milkshakes. The training doesn't go well to start with, and Ali admits that the training has been difficult this week, but she thinks Brian's been great and she doesn't want to let him down.

They're dancing to 'Tutti Frutti', and for some impenetrable reason the choreography involves Brian skidding across the floor, landing in Rachel Stevens' lap, and fondling her. Still, at least he gets something resembling a human emotion out of her as a result, so Vincent will probably collar him backstage later to ask how he managed that. As for the rest of the routine, it's a difficult one to judge. Ali's still clearly one of this year's better dancers, but this routine doesn't go well for her. She seems to lose herself a few times (and not in the good way), and the bit where Brian flings her between his legs is just ugly - I thought at first she went crashing into the steps, but on rewatching, I don't think she does, she just lands rather awkwardly. It's almost certain to be tonight's best jive, but it's definitely lacking.

Alesha tells Ali that she does the turns superbly, and that Brian's been very ambitious with the choreography, but she thinks sometimes Ali is struggling to keep up with it. She thinks Ali still needs to relax. Bruno is frustrated, because Ali still hasn't blown his mind (SOMEBODY must have, though, surely?) - she would get some parts right but not others, and he doesn't know why she can't deliver. Ali looks quite upset. Craig says that her balance went, and she lost the choreography halfway through - it was a bit of a mess, but she has so much promise, even if she isn't delivering. Len says she must be very upset, because this was a "real class jive", but there were some major slip-ups. He suggests a "less is more" approach for next week that will show Ali's skills off properly. That actually seems like a very good idea. From Len, of all people.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Ali admits that she slipped and lost her balance, and then she doesn't know what happened. Brian tells her she should be proud of herself for managing to get back on the music having gone off. Ali just hopes she can stay in and come back next week, because "I've got more in me", and I'll leave it to the ever-classy Bruce to make a Brian Fortuna joke here. Scores: Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 29. Wow, Bruno's mark really didn't agree with his comments. It's Ali's lowest score to date, and a tearful Ali says she has to go and find her fight. Brian tells her she's fabulous, and Tess repeats for an apparently suddenly hard of hearing Ali that "your boy says you're fabulous" and someone goes "oooo-oooo!" like everyone in the room is 11 years old. What the fuck?

Back to Bruce, who isn't ready. Jo and Brendan are next, with their Viennese waltz. Last week I thought her foxtrot was a holy mess, but the judges seemed to see an improvement, even though she was still bottom of the leaderboard. Backstage, Amy Winehouse's puppet master says that "Amy" wants Jo to win. Jo says that she wants to do her friends proud. Jo struggles with her Viennese waltz in rehearsals and gets upset with herself, so she arranges a visit from a confidence coach. Jo's home looks gorgeous, by the way. Jo apparently comes away from the whole thing with a jot of self-belief, which is an improvement.

I actually think her Viennese waltz (to Ray Lamontagne's 'Trouble') is decent - there are some obvious issues with the footwork, but it's the first time in ages (possibly ever) that I've actually seen her dance as opposed to being dragged around the floor by Brendan, and she's actually doing reasonably well. She's never going to be a natural dancer, but unlike last week, I can definitely see improvement here. Brendan pats her on the shoulder as they finish.

Bruno says that Jo's vulnerability is appealing, but the dance was "too skippy", like a grasshopper. Craig says, "I don't know about a grasshopper, more like a bush kangaroo", and suddenly all hell breaks loose. Bruno laughs uproariously while everyone else makes noises/faces of disapproval. Brendan scowls and leads Jo off the dancefloor in the general direction of the House of Tesstosterone, and Bruce suddenly ignites, telling Craig he's going too far and that "you don't have to get personal, Craig." Craig argues that it wasn't, Bruce insists it was, and scolds him like a naughty child. And seriously, people: before 4,000 idiots complain to Ofcom - it was a Skippy the Bush Kangaroo joke. Bruno said she was skippy like a grasshopper, and Craig said she was skippy like a bush kangaroo. That's not a personal insult, it's an impartial comment about her dancing with a joke on the side. It is not nearly as personal as Bruce's comments about Ali and Brian earlier, or indeed Bruce's joke about Jo's marriage last week. The whole thing is ridiculous, and I blame Brendan for making such a meal of it when Jo, bless her heart, seemed to take the comment with good humour. Anyway, Bruce cuts Craig off and asks Len to comment. Len says that he liked that it was a difficult routine and while there were faults, it was Jo's best dance to date. "It was her best dance, that's why I talked about it being personal," snips Bruce, pointing his cue cards at Craig. And he can say that all he wants, it still doesn't change the fact that it wasn't a personal comment. Christ on a water biscuit - this from the man who defended Anton. Anyway, Alesha at this point isn't quite sure whether she would be facing forward or yelling her comments towards the House of Tesstosterone, but she says that the Viennese waltz is a hard dance because it makes you dizzy, but she thinks Jo coped well and it was her best dance to date.

Tess, colossal moron that she is, opens by saying, "Craig said you looked like a bush kangaroo, is that correct?" No, Tess, it isn't. Stop making things worse. Brendan calls Craig ignorant, and says that it was probably Jo's best performance. He insists there is no need for "bush kangaroo". "Bush kangaroo?" wails Jo despondently, having heard those two words more times tonight than she ever needed to thanks to the idiotic interference of Brendan and Bruce. Honestly, I admire Jo for the amount of stick she's taken on this show, and for the good grace she has always displayed in the face of it. Since she's learning so much from Brendan, perhaps he could learn a thing or two from her. Anyway, scores: Craig 5, Len 7, Alesha 6, Bruno 5 for a total of 23 - Jo's highest score to date. Jo is pleased in a muted sort of way.

Zöe and James are next. James is a particularly luminous shade of orange. They were pleased with their score last week - though Zöe thinks it will take a miracle for her to get a 10. Zöe is unimpressed at James's plans to whirl her around the floor by an arm and a leg. She brings her cute daughter into rehearsals, and feels a bit awkward dancing sexily in front of the littl'un. She hopes all the one-year-olds across the country will be saying "vote Zöe and James". Given that the speech of most children of that age is not clear at the best of times, perhaps that's where it all went wrong for her. Oops, spoilers.

Zöe's jive is to 'Tainted Love', and it looked awesome on It Takes Two on Friday, but it lacks a little something this time around. It's still a creditable performance though, and given the general poor quality of tonight's jives, that is indeed something to be treasured. It just doesn't feel very memorable, I suppose. Zöe is worried that one of her boobs came out, but it seems she is safe. Craig tells her she is fabulous to watch - her kicks and flicks were a bit stiff, but it was a very respectable jive. Len says it was clean, neat and precise, but he thinks it lacked a bit of freedom. Alesha says that Zöe never disappoints and once again she was a joy to watch. Bruno tells Zöe she always delivers, but her kicks and flicks needed work. "Is the footballer's wife heading for an early bath? I don't think so," says Bruce, coincidentally at the same time that Fate's perusing the ice-cream freezer of his local Tesco Express and thinking, "Oooh, I feel tempted."

In the House of Tesstosterone, Zöe says this was the toughest week yet, but she really enjoyed herself - even though she thought she was "exposing [her]self" at one point. James says that it is HARD FOR A LADY to do jive. James clearly didn't get that memo Len issued. Scores: seven from Craig, eights from Len and Alesha, and seven from Bruno, for a total of 30.

Ricky and Natalie are next. It is played as a colossal tragedy that Ricky was only JOINT THIRD HORRA with the judges last week, but seriously. Natalie says that Ricky won't ever want to come third again because she's pushing him very hard. Ricky says it's a very intense and physical dance. Ricky wipes his face with his vest AGAIN. We know you have well-developed abdominals, Ricky. We don't need to see them quite so fucking often. [Well, he knew he wouldn't get the chance to show them off wearing tails. Cynical vote-grabbing. - Carrie]

They begin by circling each other for about five seconds and then they take hold for what is a very crisp, clean and impeccably executed Viennese waltz. On a personal level, I preferred Jade and Ian's, but that aside, this is a great performance. Alesha says Ricky definitely did not disappoint this week, and she thought this was like watching a professional couple - his best dance yet. Bruno says Ricky was riding on a crest of a wave, and that this was a leading man's performance. Craig says he danced with ease and confidence, though he has a lazy right foot. "You've got a lazy eye!" retorts Bruno, randomly. Len thought the start was never going to end - you've guessed it, it was "getting on [his] wick". I'm just surprised we didn't get an "ALL THAT MUCKING ABAHHHHT" for a full line of Len Bingo. Anyway, all was forgiven when they took hold, though he thinks Ricky occasionally misplaced his head, or something.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Ricky says they just wanted to come back with a bang, but it's nice to know the judges expect a good performance from him. Scores: Craig 8, Len 9, Alesha 10, Bruno 9 for a total of 36. And I'm sure there will be Wankarama on the internet for Alesha giving Ricky a 10 so early on, but I don't really have a problem with it. Let's face it: Ricky is good. I'd perhaps even go as far as to say gifted, and the judges here are clearly having the same problem that the Dancing On Ice judges had last year with Ray Quinn, in that he's so clearly in a league ahead of his competitors technically that they're really having to look hard for reasons not to give him a perfect score. By the looks of things, Alesha had had enough of that and decided to give him a 10. Perhaps it does leave her with a problem of where she goes from here if next week's dance is even better, but that's Alesha's concern, not ours. And to those who think it's far too early to be handing out tens, and that this is all just another sign of Alesha's unsuitability for judging, Bruno gave Louisa Lytton a 10 for her jive in week three of series four. And as much as Louisa's jive is one of my all-time favourite routines, it wasn't nearly as technically polished as Ricky's Viennese waltz was. That's not to say I necessarily think it deserved a 10, just that I don't have a problem with Alesha awarding it one.

Craig and Flavia are next. He says that he thought he was smiling throughout his foxtrot last week, but watching it back, he realised he wasn't. Matt Di Angelo advises Craig to "give it some welly" this week. Flavia says that Craig is loving every second of learning to dance, and Craig says he can't do anything but smile when he's jiving. He hopes it can be the dance that turns people's opinions of him around, and he desperately wants to make it to Blackpool. Yeah, good luck with that.

Okay, so this isn't a good jive, and there's a lot wrong with his footwork, but I actually think this is the best dance Craig has done - he's committing to it, and although like Jo Wood he's never going to be a natural-looking dancer, I think this is a real step up for him. There's some conviction in the performance, and while the improvement is perhaps not huge, I think it's definitely there. Bruno tells Craig he definitely tried hard, but unfortunately most of his steps were off. "You made me feel anxious and slightly uncomfortable," he says, and Lord knows what it must take to make Bruno feel that way. Judge Craig appreciated the energy, but it was ploddy and spasmodic, and Celebrity Craig needs to sort out the points in his kicks, to which Celebrity Craig responds that he did, or at least that he tried, and there must have been some point to his kicking. Heh. I like his dry sense of humour, though I'm sure that, much like Jade's, there is no room for it on this show. Len asks Flavia if her outfit was meant to distract from Craig's dancing - he thinks it was a good job, but he wants to see improvement and thinks Craig needs to work harder. Alesha says that she can see he's trying, but he just reminds her of a dad dancing at a disco, and it's not good enough for this stage of the show. Craig hopes to at least be a cool funky dad. Alesha says it's endearing, but not good enough.

Backstage, Craig says he is enjoying himself, and is a cool funky dad. Scores: Craig 4, Len 6, Alesha 5, Bruno 5 for a total of 20. That's Craig's lowest score to date. Blackpool is three weeks away. I really don't see it happening.

Leaderboard: Ricky and Natalie in first place, Jade and Ian behind them, then Zöe and James, then Ali and Brian, then Ricky and Erin, then Jo and Brendan and poor Craig and Flavia at the bottom.

Who's next? Why, it's Joe and Kristina. Joe is pleased that the public like him, even if the judges don't. We get vox pops from Wales, where people like him because he is Welsh. Joe says he's not a quitter, and he doesn't want to be bottom of the leaderboard again.

Their jive begins with Joe apparently trying to play Kristina's leg like a double bass, which works about as well as Gary Rhodes trying to play Karen's back like a piano last year. Joe's attempt at jiving is woeful - at best I can say he's put a bit more personality in it this week, but he still looks incredibly awkward. Craig thinks he's got more personality, indeed, and has relaxed, but he thinks it's flat-footed and waddly, though overall "a vast improvement". Seriously? Len says he can see development as a dancer, and again I say: buh? Alesha says she wants to see more bounce in his step, but she always enjoys Kristina's routines and she thought they brought lots of fun. Bruno says we all know Joe is not a natural dancer, but for the first time this week he was on time a few times, so there is hope. At this point, you just know they're going to give it more points than Craig Kelly got, and in fairness both were fairly pisspoor, but Joe's still so graceless in his movement, so the improvement appears negligible to me, but what do I know? I haven't been given a set of paddles numbered 1-10 with which to register my opinion. In the House of Tesstosterone, Joe thanks the voters for keeping him in - "as long as they think I'm good enough, then I am". That's sweet. Scores: Craig 4, Len 6, Alesha 6, Bruno 5 for a score of 21. And honestly, realistically I know Craig's jive wasn't good, but it wasn't as much of a crashing mess as Joe's. And now I have to blame Alesha for being the reason Joe ended up with one point more than Craig, and I don't like that at all. Joe and Kristina are thrilled not to be bottom of the leaderboard.

Natalie and Vincent are next. Natalie says she's conquered her nerves, but every week she wonders if Monday will come and she'll be sat at home watching Cash In The Attic. Natalie plans to be ladylike this week, though Vincent thinks she is "not an elegant person". She says she'll work really hard, and all she wants is for her dad - who'll be in the audience - to think that she's a lady. I would question the footwork in her Viennese waltz as she appears to be listing to her left frequently and not putting her right foot down properly, but in general, it's nicely done. Len says that he loves her enthusiasm - the steps were all there, but it was a little bit hoppy, so he's going to christen her "Hopalong Cassidy". Bruce thinks that is "sweet", though surely it is a PERSONAL INSULT? I don't get how Bruce's mind works, I really don't. Alesha says it's great to see another side to Natalie - "you was like a lady". That really isn't BBC1 primetime grammar, Alesha. [Or ladylike. - Carrie] She warns Natalie that she's picking up her feet too much which is making her skippy, and to watch that for her next ballroom. Bruno agrees that it's too skippy. Craig says it wasn't devoid of lumps and bumps, but she's picking one leg up too much in her pivots, but he thinks she achieved what she set out to achieve.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Natalie says she's enjoyed it, and she hopes to be back next week to do her American Smooth because she's enjoying her ballroom. Scores: sevens from all except Bruno, who gives six, for a total of 27.

Time for Laila and Anton, whose jive has already reached infamy during the week because we saw the rehearsal footage and saw what a mess it was. And if you're wondering if this is one of those common occurrences where everything goes horribly until Wednesday when suddenly it all comes together, the short answer is: no. No, it is not. Last week they were top of the leaderboard, and jubilant. Laila has been dreading the jive, she admits, and Anton says that she has trouble moving fast. Laila asks if she's been "the worst one", and the answer to anyone who's been paying attention is clearly not, though Anton claims that she is indeed the worst, and that "even Esther Rantzen" did it better. They are worried that they may go from top to bottom in the space of a week.

Laila's dress, with all the fringing, is hairier than Anton's back chest, and yes, the performance is terrible. Laila is trying, but it's clear she doesn't have a clue what she's doing - and what's worse, is that even Anton doesn't look like he knows what he's doing either. At least in the above examples with Jan and Patsy it looked like he was putting some effort in, but here it rather looks like he's going to let Laila's struggles with the dance take the fall for the fact that his Latin choreography is shit, which isn't very sporting of him.

Alesha tells Laila that based on that performance, her Latin needs more work if she's going to be a contender, and she looked like "a drunken ragdoll", though she likes the outfit. If you say so, Alesha. Bruno's comment is the best of the night: "Did you rehearse on Twitter? All short outbursts that made no sense." Ha! Craig thinks the fringing was masking a lot of the flaws. "Should've had a lot more fringing," interjects Anton, unnecessarily. Len says that Laila's ballroom is better than her Latin, but he thinks the problem is mental - she convinced herself it would be bad, so she needs to "buck [her]self up, get [her] bum in gear, and do proper Latin. Come on!" I don't know why Jo bothered hiring a professional confidence expert when she could've got such sterling advice from Len for free.

Backstage, Laila says she doesn't know what happened, it just went - "wrong, is the traditional word for it," adds Anton. Oh, shut up, Beaky. He says that she does it well in rehearsals (shame he didn't say that at any point in her VT, then perhaps she might not have had such a confidence problem), especially on Fridays, and then gets mad with Tess and Laila for talking over him. Tit. Scores: Craig 5, Len 7 (WHAT?), Alesha 5, Bruno 5 for a total of 22. Laila's lowest score yet, but still better than Craig Kelly's, though I think I've made my point on that front by now. Next week they're due to samba, and Anton promises "a bit of chest action" and suggests Laila pops her frock on back to front.

Tuffers and Katya are next, and there's an amazing gag about how much Phil looks like Len when he smiles:

It's the "7" paddle that makes it art.

So, last week Bruno was impressed at how well Phil worked his bum. So were Matt Dawson and Sue Barker, but they felt a bit uncomfortable about it. Katya says it's been a tough week because Phil can be lazy sometimes, and they fought when Katya threw a pen at him, but they've kissed and made up. He is endeavouring to be a romantic Tuffers rather than a cheeky chappy this week. I rather dig Phil's silver-toned tails that he's wearing, and his Viennese waltz isn't too bad either. His footwork looks a bit sluggish at times, but on the whole, I'm impressed. The Superman pose and shit-eating grin at the end rather ruin the effect of what was a lovely routine, though. Bruno was impressed, apart from a stumble at the end - though Katya maintains it was supposed to be there. Craig says it was too much up on his toes, and would've liked to see more of the line extended, but he thought Phil did a great job. "Think balls, cricket balls - you polish them!" Len advises. Essentially, Phil needs to polish the routine more. "Think of your balls and we'll be there," he finishes. Alesha thinks they're adorable, and Phil holds his posture well, but she thinks that Phil should take Len's advice and just develop a bit of finesse because he's improving each week.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Phil talks about polishing his balls. Scores: Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 27. Katya is not happy with the score - she thinks Phil did a great job, though.

Our last couple tonight are Chris and Ola. There's a joke about Ola's dresses, which she chuckles about backstage. I like that she has an awareness of her own ridiculousness. Ola thinks they broke through last week, and Chris says that while the marks weren't brilliant, they didn't matter because he managed to get out there and perform it when he didn't think he could. Chris is staying with his parents at the moment because he's waiting to buy a new house, and his mum is getting stuck with his laundry because Strictly and work have taken up his entire life. Chris's jive starts with air guitar and a knee-slide - not terribly auspicious. He's pulling some very odd faces throughout, rather like Popeye, but it's a very energetic routine and I'm quite impressed with his kicks. His spare arm looks a bit lost whenever he's holding onto Ola, though. It ends with air guitar (not good) and Chris sticking his face right into the camera (kind of fun).

Craig thinks "one more week's rehearsal would've been a little bit better", and gets heckled by an audience member. He thinks the left side of Chris's body is not pointing as quickly as the right. Len says that Chris kept losing the timing, so he must listen to the music and work on the timing - but apart from that fairly major problem, it was good. Alesha said she saw an improvement on the kicks, even if they weren't perfect, but she thought he had the most spring of any of the jives. Bruno says he threw himself into it, but he made a mess of it, and that now they're at week five. "You're another one who can do it, so please come back and do it," he finishes, prompting Chris to respond, "What, in the dance-off? Thanks!" Heh.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Chris says that was probably the worst he's done the routine all week, and gets an "oh dear, baby" from Ola. He doesn't know what happened, and begs people to let him come back next week. Scores: Craig 5, Len 6, Alesha 6, Bruno 5 for a total of 22. The same as Laila. Again, I don't agree, but the scoring has been particularly mad this week.

Final leaderboard: Ricky and Natalie at the top, then Jade and Ian, then Zöe and James, then Ali and Brian, then Natalie and Vincent and Phil and Katya, then Ricky and Erin, then Jo and Brendan, then Laila and Anton and Chris and Ola, then Joe and Kristina, and poor Craig and Flavia, languishing undeservedly, I think, at the bottom. As Tess tells us we can turn the leaderboard on its head, Jade suddenly appears behind her and shuffles into position, which strikes me as hilarious even though I don't really know why.

Recap. And no, I'm not recapping the recap.

Craig is asked who should be worried tonight, and he says Ricky and Natalie should be worried, but only because Zöe and James are hot on their heels. Apparently he's forgotten all about poor Jade and Ian. [Racialist. - Carrie] Len is asked who didn't perform to their best tonight, and Len says he doesn't want to single anyone out, but there is a group of dancers who are falling behind, while three or four look like potential winners, the rest of the pack have potential and are not using it. Alesha's asked why she gave Ricky a 10, and she says because she couldn't fault it, and got swept away in the fairytale and the romance. Bruno is asked who he wants to see next week, and Bruno says he's looking forward to seeing all of the Latins next week, because the samba is difficult, and the Latin has been lacklustre so far this series.

Time for a group samba to show us what we can expect next week. It's pretty good, though the close-up of Anton and Erin reminds me why I tend not to have terribly high expectations of their Latin routines. [When Erin decides to use comedy in your Latin routine, let alone nipple-exposing comedy, you know you're in trouble. - Carrie]

The celebs are back in the House of Tesstosterone watching their pro partners. Ricky says he particularly wanted to impress Alesha this week, and so for her to give him the 10 meant everything. Tess then claims that Alesha holds the record for the Viennese waltz with 40, and - no. She got 38 for it in series five, and 39 for it if we count last year's Christmas special. Sorry to be a pedant, but sometimes I can't help myself. Craig is asked what he'll do if he's in the dance-off for a third time, and he says he'll come out fighting, but he really wants to stick around for Blackpool. Jo got her highest score to date, and she thinks she did her Viennese waltz better than she did any other. "Talking of improvement," Tess says, and turns to Joe. Sigh. I'm not buying this improvement arc at all. To his credit, Joe says he can't be happy about being off the bottom because now it means Craig's there, and he doesn't like that either.

After the It Takes Two trailer, it's time for the night's real talking point - a tango waltz performed by Vincent and Flavia, who were conspicuous by their absence from the group samba earlier. It's gorgeous, though I wish I could say the same for Flavia's dress, which is ghastly, making her look like a little girl at Cotillion. But yes, the dance itself is a wonderful display of romance and intimacy, and Flavia and Vincent can sell that like almost no other professional couple on this show can, despite the split.

The phone lines close, and for a bit of filler, there's a VT about the judges talking about the contestants. To break it down: Chris started well but is slipping, Laila is sailing away with the ballroom but her Latin could be (ha!) a problem, Joe needs to be lighter on his feet, Ali needs to loosen up, Craig panics too much, Natalie has a lot more to give that she isn't showing, Ricky W mustn't rest on his laurels, Jo gives it her best shot, but it might not be enough, Phil is a worry because of the surgery, Jade has wonderful energy but can be a bit too wild, Ricky G has won the personality battle but needs to win the technical battle, and Zöe needs to get her confidence up to be a contender. With what's about to happen, I think that may be a problem.

It's still not time for the results, as it's time for Spandau Ballet. They're performing a ghastly muzac version of 'Gold', and having sat through it once, I know that to attempt to do so again would be folly indeed. *fast forwards*

At last, it's the Moment of Truth. The following couples are safe, and will be back next week: Ricky and Natalie, Natalie and Vincent, Phil and Katya, Jo and Brendan, Jade and Ian, Ali and Brian, Ricky and Erin, Craig and Flavia, Chris and Ola, and Laila and Anton. That leaves Zöe and James in the bottom two with Joe and Kristina. And I think we all know who this is going to turn out, but I can't imagine Zöe will be getting that confidence boost everyone says she needs. I mean, ending up in the dance off having been third out of twelve with the judges has got to sting however you look at it. There's no time for advice from Len tonight, so Zöe and James get straight on with their jive. It's spikier this time, and I daresay shock is probably quite a good motivator. It does make me wonder just how much longer the show's producers are going to allow the fact that the general public, as a whole, has not warmed to James Jordan continue to hobble some quite talented female celebs. Gabby Logan took an early powder, as did Cherie Lunghi, and Zöe's at risk of one here. While I don't particularly like calling for anyone to lose their job, I can't help thinking it might be good for the show if he isn't back next year. [But that might mean we wouldn't keep Ola, and that would be terrible. - Carrie] Joe and Kristina's second run at their jive is a bit more animated, and had this been their first attempt, I think I might've actually understood all that improvement stuff from the judges - though perhaps I'm just feeling kinder towards him knowing that he's going home.

Craig votes to save Zöe and James because "the choice is clear", Alesha is sad to be losing Joe and Kristina (why?), but has to save Zöe and James, and Bruno saves "Zoe and Ian", apparently under the illusion he's watching series three. Len is asked for his opinion, and he says that he would've saved Zöe and James too. Kristina says it's been wonderful teaching him, and Tess marvels that Joe is undefeated in boxing but was knocked out by dancing. Joe and Kristina head off for their final dance, and in the background, poor Zöe looks absolutely crestfallen. The other contestants come out to hug them goodbye, and with that, the Welsh Dragon is out of the competition.


NCT said...

Was I the only person who was disturbed by the Tess & Bruce chat as they stood in position before meeting the stars of our show? Unless I was very much mistaken, Bruce declared himself very excited, and Tess (who was leaning up against him) said "I know, I can tell". So innuendo at the top of the show is fine, but referencing a children's TV character isn't, eh Brucie?

ht said...

"Tess, colossal moron that she is..." - possibly my favourite comment on the series so far! So true.