Sunday, 4 October 2009

Don't have nightmares

Week 3: 3rd October 2009

I hope you're all sitting very comfortably indeed. It's going to be a looooooong show. [Word. This is a fucking ridiculous show. I was no fan of the Saturday/Sunday split, but I'm even less of a fan of a show that lasts two hours and 20 minutes. FRONT AND BACK. - Carrie]

We are reminded of the 32 dances that got us to this point, and now all 14 remaining couples go head to head for the first time. This is Strictly Come Dancing - live!

Titles. Jade looks alarmingly like The Joker in the shot of her and Ian.

We have Bruce, and we have Tess. Daly Dresswatch: all black this evening, a kind of bodice/skirt two-piece thing with a formidable crumb-catcher that's going to look very weird every time Tess stands in profile. Also, it's damn tight. Tess can barely walk down the stairs. Still, she looks nice, I think. There's a definite improvement in her wardrobe this series.

They banter a little bit about Tess's apparent pirouetting ability, and then Tess tells us tonight will be the battle of all battles. Ever one for topical humour, Bruce does a gag about having had a "staycation" this year. It's not exactly a gag for the ages, so I won't transcribe it.

The celebs and their partners arrive. Aliona/Ashlee slips on her way down the stairs. Jo's dress looks like my mum's old curtains. Natalie Cassidy's hair is terrifying. Jade looks gorgeous in hot pink. Natalie Lowe has paired a purple dress with an orange belt, which doesn't really work for me. Darren's got his chest out again. Joe Calzaghe is in a giant gold sequinned boxer's belt.

Good news! Bruce informs us that because there are 14 couples dancing this week, he won't do a joke before each couple perform. Of course, some of us might argue that he hasn't really been doing jokes properly for a long time now, but that's by the by. Tess informs us that tonight the couples will be performing either a quickstep or a paso doble, which is fine by me, since I enjoy both of these. My deepest sympathy to you if you don't like either, since it's going to be an even longer night for you.

Dancing first tonight are Ali and Brian. They are the unfortunate recipients of a joke - Ali starred in Jane Eyre when she was 10 years old, whereas when he was 10 years old, Bruce went to school with Jane Eyre. That makes...about as much sense as any of Bruce's jokes do, I suppose. Ali topped the leaderboard on both nights in the first week, though there wasn't an awful lot of excitement to be spotted on her face. Her VT tells us that there may be "some mild flirting" going on between her and Brian, and of the many ways that this show disturbs me, the promotion of Brian Fortuna as a sex symbol is quite near the top of the list. Ali tells Ricky Whittle, her "old chum", that it is on. She sounds like a vaguely menacing kitten while doing so.

They're dancing a quickstep to 'I Get A Kick Out Of You', and the choreography for it is fairly traditional. Brian amuses me with his faces throughout, while Ali still looks faintly terrified the whole time behind her actress's smile. It's smoothly delivered, though with the exception of the bits where they dance out of hold, it's not massively exciting. The ending is rather sloppy, too, since they don't finish at the same time as the band. Speaking of which, Bruce takes this opportunity as always to welcome back Our Fabulous Singers Dave Arch, And His Wonderful Orchestra. Am I the only one who gets annoyed by the pause always being in the wrong place in that sentence? [No, I do too. I also get annoyed by him calling the singers "fabulous", but that's a separate matter. - Carrie]

We also have judges, and Bruce reminds us of how Brendan called Craig an idiot last week, leading into the obvious "village missing an idiot" joke. "That's the first time Craig's ever got an 'ahh'," Bruce observes. Len says that in the quickstep, there's a need for speed, and it must be bright and lively while remaining calm up top. He says that it was right up his Ali (oh dear), a mixture of basic steps and clever choreography, though there was an occasional lack of body contact, "and from what I've read in the papers, that really did surprise me." Oh Len, don't mention the papers or Bruce will have to start spending the whole show trying to justify Alesha's existence again, and I'm sure neither she nor we particularly want that. Speaking of Alesha, she compliments Ali and Brian on the classy routine, and she tells Ali that it's hard to breathe properly in this routine, and that when she holds her breath, it's restricting her and holding her back from getting those beautiful extensions. "Good point," says Bruce, valiantly continuing to validate her even though the tabloids have kind of eased up on Alesha a bit now - or have they? They seem to change their minds so often these days, I can't keep track. Bruno enjoys watching Ali - she's a natural dancer and moves beautifully, but she needs to relax a little bit. And finally Craig, who liked it very much - Ali hit the accents brilliantly, though sometimes her left elbow had a mind of its own.

And with that, they're off to the House of Tesstosterone. Tess says that they got great comments, with the only real criticism being the lack of body contact that Len said he saw. "That he didn't see," corrects Brian, and I can't believe I'm about to defend Tess, but she was right first time, wasn't she? If Len didn't see a lack of body contact, then it wouldn't have been a criticism. Anyway, Tess apologises needlessly - have the courage of your convictions, Tess! Tess brings up the tabloid rumours, and Ali and Brian are both like "no comment". Ali says that the standard is so high, and they hope they've done enough to stay in. The scores are in: eights all round, for a total of 32. They are very happy with that, as well they might be.

Up next are Lynda and Darren. They don't get an intro joke. Bloody fucking 'Hometown Glory' by sodding Adele plays over their VT, and between this and The X Factor this weekend, I never ever want to hear that song again. Actually, I never wanted to hear that song again even before this weekend, because it, like the entirety of Adele's output, is vastly overrated and overplayed. Anyway, Lynda says that she wasn't expecting the criticism to be so personal, which I don't especially remember it being. Then again, I'm sure the tabloids will go back and invent something hurtful and retroactively attribute it to someone, like St. Arlene and her non-existent "dancing pig in Cuban heels" that somehow got repeated in every article written about this show last year. She is hoping she can stay in with the paso, because it is very actressy. She plans to scare Bruno with her inner anger during the dance, and may be more of a stroppy cow than a bull. Her words, not mine.

Darren's chest looks weird - all the bumps are in the wrong places. Their paso is to 'Devil Woman' and it's rather sluggish. Lynda has a paso face that she'd do well to keep in reserve in case she gets cast as Lady Bracknell in the future, since it seems more full of genteel disgust than anger, but hey ho. The whole thing lacks attack, but there's some nice choreography in there. Len says that in the paso he wants sharp, precise movement and a bit of drama. He applauds Lynda for staying in character, and having all the steps, though he thinks it's like one of those dishes on Masterchef that has all the ingredients, but lacks a bit of flavour. It is, however, her best dance yet. That's out of all three that she's done so far, for those keeping score. Alesha says that whatever dance Lynda does, character will be there in abundance. She liked the intensity and the shapes, but thinks Lynda's walks lacked purpose. [At which point Lynda turned to Darren and said, "YOU said that!" - Carrie] Bruno agrees that the steps were all there, but wonders where the fire inside is. "It's coming!" Lynda retorts, prompting a "how long do I have to wait for, Madam?" from Bruno. Heh. He tells her it's not enough to execute the steps, the body has to go with it. Craig says that it was a bit of a stunned mullet (wasn't that Craig's hairdo last year?) - he thought she was hitting fantastic lines, but it needed a lot more movement as a whole.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Lynda says she needs Brendan's catapult for Craig. Tess asks Lynda if it's hard to deal with the criticism, and Lynda goes all Norma Desmond, saying that she'll have to go and sit in a darkened room, before breaking out of it and saying, "I don't care." Hee. There was something wonderfully Stephanie Beacham about that, which makes me want Lynda to stick around for a bit. We are told this is the first time Darren's taken his top off in seven series, and he's got the chest stubble to prove it. Scores: Craig 5, Len 7, Alesha 7, Bruno 6 for a total of 25.

It's now time for Chris and Ola. Apparently Chris presents Cash in the Attic. I didn't know this. He's no Alistair Appleton, though better him than Lorne bloody Spicer. We are reminded that Chris surprised us all by being quite good in his rumba. In his training VT, Ola says that because Chris is small, he has to shift his bum quite a lot. Kenny Logan drops in to wish Ola happy birthday, and both Chris and Ola bizarrely pretend that Kenny's performance is someting to aspire to. He may have stuck around for a long time, guys, but he was SHIT. You know what else sticks around for a long time? The smell of vomit. I'm just sayin'.

Their routine is to 'Dancin' Fool', and it is rather slower than I would prefer a quickstep to be. Several bits of it obviously go wrong, because Chris isn't even moving, though his face throughout is utterly adorable and goes a long way towards selling the whole thing. The second the dance ends, they both pull "well, SHIT" faces and then start mugging for all their worth so yep, I'm guessing that didn't go entirely according to plan. Another time saving measure: Bruce tells us that we will only be getting three judges' comments from here on in. Chris tells Alesha she would have loved the original routine (heh), and she tells him that dancing comes naturally to him. She says that it fell flat for her at times, but she liked the energy, and reminds him to point his toe in the kicks, because this isn't football, despite how much Len would like it to be. Bruno tells Chris that he messed it up badly - he says that Chris covered it well, but he went wrong too many times to point out. Craig reminds him to point his feet on all kicks, and tells him that his frame is loose and his hand on Ola's back is splayed, and then at the end of this list of criticisms he adds without a pause that the footwork wasn't too bad, meaning that the audience boo that as well because they're not even listening any more. Morons. However, he says that Chris's face and energy went a long way to make up for it. I very much enjoy the new 100% Len-free judging process.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Chris says that he messed up his counting and didn't do the planned routine, and Ola says she is very proud of him. Chris turns to Ola and says, "When we go out there, you're going to give me such a rollicking." Hee! I really love these two together, they're so cute. Scores: Craig 5, Len 6, Alesha 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 23.

Next are Zöe and James. Her VT reminds us that she is this year's designated Needs To Believe In Herself More contestant. I hope that doesn't make her Lisa Snowdon. The training doesn't seem to have gone well, but James applauds her commitment to trying.

Their paso is to 'You Got The Love', which is an interesting choice of song, but I can't help thinking the arrangement needs to be more dramatic and to make more of the chord blasts to really conjure up that paso atmosphere. The dancing itself is pretty good, though - it's perhaps a little tentative in places, but by and large I think it works. Could've done with being a little livelier, but that's the worst criticism I can make. Bruno wonders where the raunch is, but says this worked - it was restrained, but she made beautiful figures. Craig felt she was completely in control of the dance and used the skirt well, great shapes and lines and strong appels, and he says that James did well with the music he was given. Len says that Zöe is a talented dancer and what she showed us was very good. He says that it needed a bit more drama and passion, but thinks that this may have been due to the music in some way.

Zöe rushes into the House of Tesstosterone so swiftly that she ends up practically standing on Tess and has to be ushered back. Heh. Tess tells us that 'You Got The Love' is her favourite "tune" of all time. [Yo Tess, I'm really happy for you and Imma let you finish, but cherry menthol flavour is the best Tune of all time. Of all time! - Kanye West] Tess asks Zöe if she now has confidence in her abilities as a dancer, and Zöe's first response is to look to James for an answer. I think that gives us our answer. Scores: 7 from Craig, 8s from everyone else for a total of 31. Apparently Zöe's fiancé keeps coming back for one night a week to watch her dance. Aww, etc.

Rav and Ashlee are next. Their tango is referred to as having taken place "last Friday", even though it was the Friday before. Continuity fail. Rav says he never wants to be in the dance-off again. Oh, Rav. We all saw your training footage on It Takes Two this week - I think you're going to be disappointed.

Rav and Ashlee dance their quickstep to 'We Go Together' from Grease, played at a slightly slower tempo than I'm used to. It starts off with a lot of faffing around and they take forever to get into hold. It's rather juddery, and there are gaps you could drive a pantechnicon through. He seems to be dragging her around the floor rather than dancing with her. It ends with Ashlee lying on her front and Rav doing a cartwheel. Craig calls it disjointed and felt they were fighting one another. He calls Rav's arms during the Charleston section "orangutanish", and tells Ashlee that her choreography needs to be more sensitive to Rav's abilities. Len likes that they captured the fun of the dance, and tells us that IT IS HARD FOR A BLOKE to do a light fluffy dance. Alesha says it was a bit cheesy for her and all the faffing around was too distracting and uncomfortable to watch - she felt Rav was vulnerable because he was out of hold so much. Bruce asks if we all loved the cartwheel. Eh, even that I'd give a six to, at best.

Tess reminds us that Rav is a hardman who can't be scared of the judges, and Rav says that Joe has been teasing him all week about doing the quickstep while Joe gets to do the paso. Yep, looking really macho in your sequinned belt there, Calzaghe. Tess thinks Rav should be commended for "moving that bulk" across the floor. That's no way to talk about Ashlee, Tess. Scores: Craig 3, Len 6, Alesha 5, Bruno 6 for a total of 20 - the lowest score of the evening so far.

Now we're onto Natalie and Vincent, and dear God, we're not even halfway through. Natalie loved doing the tango, but was petrified during her cha cha cha. In rehearsals, Natalie tries to do a bull impression but ends up doing a pig instead. Oops. She has been exhausted all week and they lost some precious rehearsal time while she was snoozing. This doesn't look good, since it's only week three.

They're using traditional sounding paso music and have a proper lightshow going on, and perhaps that's why this is my favourite paso of the evening so far, although to give credit where it's due, the choreography is good and Natalie is doing a fine job. Interest-wise, it sags a bit in the middle, but it then recovers to a fake-out ending (which causes premature applause in the audience) and a nice dramatic finish. Alesha tells Natalie that she brought drama to the dancefloor - she loved the flamenco section, and she thinks Natalie's posture has improved. Bruno says that when Natalie gets her bum in gear, she's great, but there are times where she slips into neutral, so she has to learn to sustain the energy the whole time. Easy for you to say, Bruno. Craig says it had the makings of a great routine, but Natalie's arms are inconsistent and her back needs more strength and she needs to push her shoulders down. He loved the content, but it wasn't completely realised.

HoT. Natalie says she loved that dance so much, and Vincent says there was a moment where her lower lip was "shimmering" - Natalie points out he means "quivering" and gives him a "what are you like?" face. Scores: Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 8, Bruno 7 for a total of 28. Natalie is pleased that Alesha said she improved, because improvement is what she's striving for each week.

Next up are Craig and Flavia. Craig was disappointed to be in the dance-off last week, and says that he wanted to make Flavia, his wife, and his family proud of him. A misplaced comma in his speech makes it sound like his wife is Flavia. Flavia boo-hoos at having been in the dance-off at the beginning of the series for a second consecutive time. To boost their quickstep training, Craig's wife, WHO IS RECENT (they've been married five weeks, she tells us), comes in to support him. She cheers him on gleefully and seems very sweet. [I think they got married just for a Strictly narrative arc. - Carrie] Craig hopes to not be in the dance-off again this week.

Flavia's dress is horrid. She looks like a couple of snakes rolling around in some candyfloss. Their quickstep is to 'Peroxide Swing' and it seems a bit leaden - there are definitely points where his feet just aren't keeping up with Flavia. He still seems a bit lost out of hold, too. Bruno calls it a disaster - so much went wrong, and he doesn't think Craig covered it very well. Craig Revel-Horwood thinks he did try to cover it up, which helped, but he thought it lacked musicality and the timing was out throughout. Len says that the trouble with the quickstep is that once you go a little bit wrong, it's very hard to catch it up, ESPECIALLY FOR A MALE CELEBRITY, because the male pros can pull their partners in a lot easier than, and I quote, "dear little Flavia" can. I hope dear little Flavia kicked him in the nads after the show for that atrociously patronising remark.

House of Tesstosterone. Flavia says that she's never seen anyone so nervous before they go on, and Craig is so good and dedicated in training. Craig says he was really looking forward to it, but he doesn't know what happened out there. Scores: Craig 4, Len 6, Alesha 6, Bruno 5 for a total of 21. Craig says that's fine by him, because he didn't do the routine as he should have, and that's what happens. He is registering a 20 on the woobieometer right now. And it only goes up to 10.

Time for a halfway(!) look at the leaderboard: Ali and Brian top, then Zöe and James, then Natalie and Vincent, then Lynda and Darren, then Chris and Ola, then Craig and Flavia, and Rav and Ashlee at the bottom. Hilariously, when we cut back to Tess, Ashlee is trying to fish her hair out of her earring. Hee.

Ricky Whittle and Natalie are next. His VT recalls his unstoppable triumph last week, and he just hopes he can keep it up. Natalie is worried that the people who start out strong in the past haven't made the final, so she needs him to keep it up. Nice that she's already worried about not making the final in WEEK THREE, for crying out loud.

They have traditional paso music as well, and dammit, these two are really, really good. It's going to make recapping very hard every week if they continue to excel. They end their routine standing on the stage, which I rather like, because I can't remember the last time someone did that, and a bit of variation is always good. Craig says he can't say it was perfect because there were a few slip-ups, but it was fabulous. Len says that you can smell the blood and the Spanish onions in that. There was a little mistake at the start, but beyond that he couldn't see anything wrong with it at all. Alesha has never seen anyone across any series do a paso like that.

HoT. Tess says that the paso is the most difficult dance FOR A MALE CELEBRITY to lead. Not really, since most of it is out of hold. Scores: 8 from Craig, 9s from everyone else for a total of 35.

Jade and Ian are next. "Athletes are so competitive, and so is Jade," says Bruce. Facepalm. She says her hips are still killing her from the split at the end of her cha cha cha. Their training VT includes Ian using the unfortunate phrase, "She can't get enough. She wants to do it 24/7." Oh dear.

Their quickstep is, awesomely, to 'Fascination' by Alphabeat, though the band are massacring it of course. They really are flinging themselves around the dancefloor, and one thing in Jade's favour is that she actually looks like she's enjoying herself. They end on the stage too. It is a veritable stage-fest this week.

Len tells Jade she doesn't need to practice her longjump in the quickstep, but she had lovely flowing movements, and it is HARD FOR A TALL PERSON to dance at that speed. [I'm so sick of Len already. - Carrie] Alesha says she's never seen anyone cover the floor that quickly, and it's hard to keep body contact when doing the leaps, which they did. She admires Jade's balance between personality and technique. Bruno loved it, especially since she took her criticism from last week and improved on her weaknesses.

House of Tesstosterone. Tess tells us how Jade's dropped a dress size in training. Score: Craig 7, Len 8, Alesha 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 31.

Joe and Kristina are next. We are reminded that he was terrible in both of his first dances. He thanks the public for keeping him in, and wants to show everyone he can do it. They destroy a training room together. Joe's feeling more relaxed and thinks he may be improving.

Their paso is to 'Livin' On A Prayer'. Oh God, Kristina's cape has 'Calzaghe' on the back of it and Joe puts it around his shoulders to begin with and capes around a bit, before handing it back to her. He's still more walking than he is dancing, but there is at least a vague attempt at dancing, which is more than John Sergeant usually managed. There's what looks like an illegal lift in there somewhere. She flips over his shoulders at the end of it. Alesha sees improvement and more expression in his face. Bruno says it was a fiasco - the hips have to be forward and the shoulders have to be back and he needs to hold that all the way through. His timing was off too. Craig thought it was starchy and stiff, but it had more movement than a dead man dancing, which shows some sign of improvement.

HoT. Joe does some boxing. We see his mum in the audience. Scores: Craig 3, Len 5, Alesha 6 (oh, Alesha), Bruno 5 for a total of 19. There's some banter about Joe's mum getting up and punching the judges, and then she gets up as if she's actually going to go and do it. Eek.

Laila and Anton next. Obligatory joke about Anton being Bruce's lovechild. Anton is pleased at having scored a total of 55 last week. He thinks that adding up his scores from the first three series wouldn't have reached 55. Their quickstep is to 'Strike Up The Band', and it's nice, if a little basic, and they screw up a few times. Bruno tells Laila she was nearly "back on the game" (ooer), and that when she was on, she was classic, elegant and beautiful, but they will have to point out the mistakes. Craig thought it was traditional and classy - "very Anton Du Beke", but agrees with the timing issues. Len thinks Laila was a diamond amid the cheap jewellery that preceded her.

HoT. Tess says that they're the third couple so far to make a mistake. I think more than third by now, Tess. Laila says that the pressure of the live shows is obviously affecting people, but the judges were lovely about the mistakes. Scores: eights from Craig and Len, sevens from Alesha and Bruno for a total of 30. Anton praises Laila for picking up the dance after faltering, pointing out how difficult this is to do.

Time for Jo and Brendan. We revisit her disappointing tango and rumba and the ensuing criticism. Jo says that Brendan was her hero when he stuck up for her, but it felt awful to be at the bottom of the scoreboard and she was blown away that the public saved her from the danceoff. Jo says that the paso will push her to her limits. Her nipples are quite prominent in rehearsals. She needs to try to find the actress in her. Brendan praises her run-through.

They are dancing to 'Because The Night', a song I love and hope the band doesn't trash too much (and in fairness, I've heard worse). Jo's dancing is tentative and a little stumbly, but to be honest, I actually quite enjoyed this routine more than some of the other pasos, and while she's still probably down the bottom of the list ability-wise, I think she's improved a little bit. And so at this point I figured she was off home this week, since she wouldn't be getting the sympathy vote any more. Craig says Jo's central core is failing her, making her look like a dead weight on Brendan's shoulders, but he's seen some improvement. Len likes that she comes out and has a go, but agrees with Craig in that she needs to tone her body. He rolls out "your best dance to date" again. Alesha thought Jo acted it well and held her intent all the way through - she tells Jo to work on her balance and do exercises to strengthen her ankles, because she worries that Jo will topple over when she's out of hold.

House of Tesstosterone. Jo is pleased that it was called her best dance so far, even though the judges weren't exactly gushing in their praise for her tango or her rumba. Scores: Craig 3, Len 6, Alesha 6, Bruno 5 for a total of 20. She's not bottom of the leaderboard! There's one whole point separating her from Joe Calzaghe! As opposed to the two (or four, if you prefer) points that were separating them in their respective first weeks, but hey, take comfort where you can find it, I say.

Good Lord, it continues. Phil and Katya are next. There is a joke about Test matches lasting five days and tonight's show lasting a similar length of time. It's painfully close to the truth. Phil was hoping for a cheeky day off on Sunday, but Katya was having none of it. He says that this is the most exercise he's ever done, more so than when he was playing cricket. [True fact. - Carrie] He goes to see a doctor, who says that he's torn the cartilage in his knee and needs keyhole surgery. Oweeoweeoweeoweeow.

Phil and Katya's quickstep is to 'Put On A Happy Face'. It appears to go wrong a few times, including one point where I think he actually kicks Katya by accident, though it's hard to tell from the camera angle, but for the most part it's covered fairly well. Len says he went wrong at the end, and the footwork was more good than bad - it was OK, but not a KO. I bet that joke was being saved for Joe Calzaghe until they realised that the chances of him even managing OK were fairly slender. Alesha say she would've scored him higher, but he did lose it at the end. She thinks he makes people smile and he and Katya work well as a couple. Bruno adds that Phil has a happy go lucky personality and they have great chemistry, though the mistake did ruin things slightly.

Back with Tess, Phil says he messed up his counting, and Katya says that Phil missed a lot of training with all of the doctors' appointments and whatnot. Scores: Craig 5, Len 6, Alesha 6, Bruno 7, for a total of 24. I didn't think it was that bad, to be honest. Katya encourages him to think where the marks could've been without the slip-up, which is a fair comment.

And finally (THANK GOD), Ricky and Erin. We see his terrifying cha cha cha again, and his wife Hannah Waterman says that it was possibly the funniest thing she'd ever seen on TV. Ricky refers to this week's dance as "paso doble on the left hand side", and I'll admit I laughed at that. Sue me. Erin tells him not to camp up his dancing (there's a first time for everything), and points out that Ricky does everything at double speed. Suddenly I feel a bit sorry for Hannah Waterman. But not much. [I never feel sorry for her. She wrecked Just The Two Of Us. - Carrie]

They get the full-on lightshow for their paso, to the tune of Queen's 'One Vision'. It is going for the comedy angle rather than the dramatic angle, which is a bit of a shame, because I thought the dancing was actually pretty good and could've stood up to a no-gimmicks paso, personally. Alesha calls it "genius" and says that she never thought she'd see comedy in a paso, but he pulled it off and his technique was pretty good. Bruno says he was like a bull in the mating season and then does an alarming impression of what one of those might sound like if it could talk, before pronouncing it to be "insanity". Then, in my favourite segue of the night, Bruce says to Craig, "How can you stay straight after that?" THE JOKES ARE JUST TOO EASY. Craig would've liked a bit more finesse, however the storytelling was strong, and the energy and theatricality were great, though Ricky's hands looked like ice cream scoops. All in all, he thinks it's "a paso you should be proud of".

In the House of Tesstosterone, Ricky says bringing laughs was an advantage, but he still enjoyed it. Scores: Craig 7, Len 7, Alesha 8, Bruno 7 for a total of 29. Erin and Ricky are very happy.

That's it! Everyone has danced! Final leaderboard goes as follows: Ricky and Natalie, Ali and Brian, Zöe and James, Jade and Ian, Laila and Anton, Ricky and Erin, Natalie and Vincent, Lynda and Darren, Phil and Katya, Chris and Ola, Craig and Flavia, Rav and Ashlee, Jo and Brendan, Joe and Kristina. The new scoring system is put into action for the first time, so there's only a one-point gap behind two couples who tied, rather than a two-point gap as there would've been under the old rules.

There follows a recap of the dances, but you can just scroll up if you've forgotten anything, because this post is quite long enough already and we've still got half an hour to go. Lawks.

Next week's dances will include the foxtrot. Boo! After last year's final, I've seen enough of foxtrots to last me a lifetime. Still, it's nice enough. Apologies for the lack of detail here, but I'm a bit exhausted after recapping 14 dances.

Tess is with the couples - Ricky W does not feel unstoppable, because he still made a fair few mistakes tonight, and Natalie will tell him off. Joe thinks he's improved, but is disappointed to still be at the bottom of the leaderboard. Natalie hopes that if she stays in, each week her nerves will be less of a problem and she can improve. Craig thinks there were gremlins around tonight due to the number of mistakes being made by everybody, but he thanks Flavia for getting him through it, and he hopes he can come back next week. Ricky G says that he needs to find the balance between overdoing it and underdoing it. And how!

Following a trailer for lovely Claudia and It Takes Two, we're back with the judges and Bruce. Craig is asked who stood out, and everyone is expecting him to say "Ricky", and he does - but he means Ricky Groves and Erin Boag. His reasoning is because they demonstrated what this show is all about - releasing your inhibitions and letting it all out. Len's asked if there are any dark horses, and he names Ricky Groves again "for entertainment", Laila, Jade and Phil, and then decides to give praise to the band and singers. Alesha is asked who should be worried, and prevaricates, giving the traditional "you never know who the public's going to vote for" answer. Bruno is asked how important it is to bring your own personality to the dance, and he says that if you don't bring your own reinvention to each dance, everything will look the same - the trick of a great performer is to reveal himself through the performance.

And now for a salsa showcase from Richard Marcel and his salsa dancers. I do love a good salsa, it has to be said, and this is an excellent showcase. It really is harder to write about this sort of thing when people aren't fucking up, though.

During the salsa number, the phone lines closed, so while a group of monkeys with calculators work out who is safe and who is not, we have...more filler. Including some small children delivering their verdict on this year's show, in a segment that really would've worked better on It Takes Two. The kids are very shy in front of the camera, and keep telling everyone to use their hips a bit more, which is funny. Still, at least they're giving more variation in their feedback than Len "IT'S HARD FOR A BLOKE" Goodman.

It's still not time for the results, because first we have Andy Williams, singing 'Moon River'. I didn't think he'd do it, but then - bam! Second encore!

Finally, it is time for the results. The following couples, as ever in no particular order, will be returning next week: Joe and Kristina, Chris and Ola, Ricky and Erin, Ali and Nosferatu, Phil and Katya, Laila and Anton, Ricky and Natalie, Jade and Ian, Natalie and Vincent, Jo and Brendan, Zöe and James and Craig and Flavia, leaving Rav and Ashlee in the dance-off again, this time against Lynda and Darren.

Len is asked what advice he can give them, and tells Lynda she could do with a bit more drama in her performance, and Rav that he could do with being a bit lighter on his feet. Lynda and Darren will dance first. I wouldn't say it's necessarily any more dramatic than first time, but there's a jot more energy behind it. And Darren ends up with Lynda's lipstick on his nose, hee. Rav and Ashlee repeat their car-crash of a quickstep, and they seem to get off to an awkward start with neither of them looking terribly bothered about it. Unfortunately for Rav, it's still jerky and laboured, and the whole thing is just messy still - there's one part where Ashlee just seems to stand still and wait for him to catch up with her.

Time for the judges to decide: Craig saves Lynda and Darren, as does Alesha, and Bruno makes it a hat trick, so Rav and Ashlee are out. Len's opinion, as ever, is irrelevant, but it turns out he would've saved Lynda and Darren too. Rav says that he'd do it all again, though he rather bitterly notes that he won't get the chance. [He doesn't even thank Aliona. He has deviated from the script. - Carrie]

Next week, it's foxtrot versus salsa. In the meantime, keeeeeeep dancing. And maybe get something for the bedsores you picked up while sitting through all two hours and twenty minutes of this.

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