Sunday, 27 December 2009

Fortuna smiles on the brave

Strictly Christmas Special
Tx - 25th December 2009

Happy holidays to you! That clinking sound you hear is the bastardised Christmas version of the Strictly theme tune, which means only one thing - yes, the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special!

And yes, Bruce and Tess are present and correct as ever. I've been told that mocking Tess Daly's dress sense is passe and cliched, so I'll gloss over that and crack straight on. [Bah. Whoever told you that was a killjoy. - Steve] It's nice to see us, to see us nice, of course, and Tess makes up for her myriad fashion crimes by mocking Bruce. He takes exception to her stealing his position as chief gag-cracker, and it's all a bit uncomfortable because it is fairly clear that he genuinely is a tad concerned about losing his job. As he should be.

Anyway, let's forget about Bruce's senility and meet the couples - Ricky and Natalie; Austin and Erin; Ali and Brian; Gethin and Flavia (and though I had pretty much not noticed Camilla's absence this series, it feels wrong not to add her name to his); Rachel and Vincent;and Chris and Ola. Bruce assures them that they are all his favourites, and muses that it's like the ghosts of Strictlys past, reminding us that Gethin, Austin and Rachel all broke records in their years.

First to dance are Ricky and Natalie (who gazes past the camera in terrifying style, as usual). In case you'd forgotten, they were this year's runners-up, and for some reason they suddenly decide to look like they're enjoying themselves, musing that they would like "little backing elves". Natalie has never tried mince pie before, and from the look on her face she will never try it again.

They quickstep to Jingle Bells, and it's gorgeous, light and fleet, but the problem I have with the Strictly Christmas shows is mostly that the singers crucify classic songs THAT EVERYBODY KNOWS THE TUNE TO. Bruce still feels it is appropriate to welcome them (without punctuation, obviously). Len sarcastically says that it is ages since he has seen them quickstep, but says he is not keen on the samba element (Ricky points out that it is also Christmas in Brazil). Alesha tells Ricky she hopes he keeps dancing because he is a joy to watch. Bruno doesn't think the samba rolls were as tight as usual. Craig concludes, "I love you, Ricky Whittle." Ricky seems quite happy with this. Tess asks if winning the Christmas special will make up for not winning the proper trophy, and Natalie clearly wants to say, "FUCK NO" but doesn't, instead leaving it up to Ricky to ham it up with quasi-tears. Scores - Craig 8, Len 9, Alesha 10 and Bruno 9 for a total of 36. Natalie then confesses that she saw snow for the first time this week, which is oddly endearing. [I heart Natalie. "Oddly endearing" sums her up perfectly. - Steve}

Bruce introduces Austin and Erin with a terrible gag about nicknames, which Austin doesn't appear to understand. Tess VOs the VT by drooling over Austin's guns, because she didn't make that tedious at all last year. Erin bosses Austin about as usual, and then they discuss Ricky's arm muscles. "He's all right. Not as good as yours," concludes Erin.

A dramatic entry for the paso, as Erin twirls across the top of the steps and Austin drops her to the floor. And OH MY EARS the Strictly singers are attempting Bohemian Rhapsody and I suspect if the music was any good, this would be a stunning, dramatic paso doble. As it is, it's a fucking mess. Not sharp enough. It just makes me want to weep.[The band obliterated it, as I expected, but I think the tempo was too rapid for a paso doble even if they'd managed to sing it properly. - Steve] Bruce fawns over them and makes Austin flash his nipples. Craig loved the routine, though it seems as if he loved Austin's torso more. Bruce gets all up in a homophobic fit about being called "darling". Len talks about his nan's knickers and then lies that the band and singers did a great job. Alesha lies that she was frightened by Austin's shouting. Bruno suspects that the music's speed meant that the lines were not Spanish enough. Bruce fawns over them some more. Tess gropes Austin a bit, and then doesn't understand his mocking of the Strictly narrative ("we've been on a journey" etc). Idiot. Scores - Craig 9, Len 9, Alesha 9 and Bruno 9 for a total of 36. "How miserable are those lot? It's CHRISTMAS. My kids are at home crying now, and it's YOUR FAULT," proclaims Austin.

Time for a bit of innuendo about Ali and Brian having sex. They both look really embarrassed. In the VT, Brian is wearing a Santa sombrero, and tying Ali up with tinsel. They play rock-paper-scissors in an effort to decide who would take the trophy home should they win. Brian reveals that Ali has broken a lot of things at his house.

Then they Viennese waltz to Please Come Home For Christmas, and it's just as elegant and beautiful as any other Ali-Brian ballroom routine, with a spin-lift in at the end. Bruno declares it "impeccable" and then fails to say "artistry". Craig calls it a classic. Len fnars that Ali is "a stocking filler". Alesha wails about missing them in the final. Ali tells Tess that Brian tried to eat the berries from a sprig of mistletoe, and then Tess is an utter prick about the Ali-Brian romance, making it humiliating for them and for us to watch. What a fucking twat. Scores - Craig 10, Len 10, Alesha 10 and Bruno 10 for a total of 40.

Right, let's get back to dancing. Bruce makes a joke about Gethin dating a beautiful Welsh lady singer - Shirley Bassey. Gethin pulls an awesome face. We are reminded of how excellent Gethin and Camilla were. He is delighted to be dancing with Flavia; she promises that she will wear a blonde wig and some big heels. Heh. And there follows one of the most brilliant exchanges of dialogue I have ever heard on Strictly - "What did you get in your American smooth with Matt?" asks Gethin. "I don't remember. I don't remember scores," she replies. "Hmm, THAT's convenient," he snarks. "Did he stop in the middle?" HAHAHAHAHA. WORD, Gethin.

Unfortunately this amazingness is undone by one of the least inspired versions of Baby It's Cold Outside that has ever been performed in the history of ever. Ever. On the other hand, Gethin and Flavia are beautiful to watch - gorgeous individually, and a surprisingly charismatic couple to watch. [I thought Gethin looked a bit out of practice to be honest - I mean, I know he's had the longest time away from the dancefloor of anyone competing at Christmas this year, and he had the added obstacle of dancing with a new partner, but I still thought he was rather stilted. - Steve] And the routine ends with him putting his jacket on her. Because it is Cold Outside. Do you see? Bruce fawns over them. Alesha patronises them and it sets my teeth on edge. Bruno thinks it was full of star quality. Craig loved Gethin's gorgeous lines "and the side-by-side stuff". Len gives up forming actual words in favour of just blahing, "I LOVED IT!" Gethin tells Tess that Flavia is lighter than his leg. Hahaha! Scores - Craig 9, Len 10, Alesha 9, Bruno 10 for a total of 38.

Now here are Rachel and Vincent to do one of their "sexy" rumbas that are technically beautiful but immensely unmoving to watch. Bruce does a gag that involves miming to S Club 7's Reach, and Craig dancing along behind the table without cracking a smile. Vincent says that he woke up every morning smiling when he was teaching Rachel (not when he was teaching Natalie, one can surmise from that). "Look how cute we are!" he declares. He believes there are loads of people out there who want to see him personally lift a trophy. [Or lots of people out there who want to see if he can. He couldn't lift Natalie, after all. - Steve] I'm not sure whether Rachel thinks he's serious or if she's doing some classic deadpanning.

Anyway, they are tiny and Rachel does that hair-caressing move she did so often, and her hand-shaping is lovely. She smiles much more than I've ever seen her smile on a dance-floor before. At the end of the routine, Bruce assures Rachel that she did not flash anyone, and he was keeping a very close eye on it. Bruno begs her to "do it again for me please now, DO IT NOW!" and then collapses on Alesha. Craig admires her "gorgeous loose back". Len liked "the whimsical movement of the hair". Alesha thought it was a "bit posey" but they are the perfect couple. Scores - Craig 10, Len 10, Alesha 9, Bruno 10 for a total of 39.

Finally, the 2009 winners, Chris and Ola. And you know as well as we do that there is no way they are going to win this when the judges' vote counts for half of the result. Bruce makes a decent joke about Ola's mulled wine being like her dancing, not having very many cloves/clothes. Chris reveals that Austin Healey has been mocking him during this series, and then produces some mistletoe, inviting Mrs Jordan in for a very cute chaste cheek-peck - "Merry Christmas!" they beam.

They foxtrot to Santa Baby, and Chris looks like he's trying to blow smoke rings for the first half of the routine, and doing an Arnold Rimmer impression for the second. Len congratulates them on winning the series, but tells them they won't win the Christmas special - "it was riddled with blunders. And things." Fine technical advice there. Alesha congratulates them as well and says they have kept up the standard they've produced. Ouch, backhanded compliment BURN. [I howled with laughter at that, though I'm still not sure if it was actually intended as a back-hander. I took it as one anyway. - Steve] Bruno wonders if Chris had too much Christmas dinner, and declares, "You can't win them all, can you?" Craig doesn't know why he had Spanish hands, but he enjoyed it enormously after a small sherry. Heh. Ola tells Chris that she loved it, and he says, "You say that NOW, when we get round the corner I'm going to get such an ear-bashing." Then, brilliantly, she says that she would like to win the Christmas trophy so she can have both glittery trophies on her side of the bed and annoy James. I heart Ola. Scores - Craig 8, Len 8, Alesha 9 and Bruno 8 for a total of 33.

We are moments away from the results, but prior to that, the Rat Pack, from That London's Trendy West End, sing White Christmas. The one playing Dean Martin looks a bit like Henry Winkler. The tiny dancers (Darren, Lilia, Vincent and Flavia) accompany them. Snow falls from the sky. I feel festive now!

The votes have been counted and verified, and the four couples who will definitely not be Christmas champions are - Chris and Ola ("Now there's a shock!" declares Bruce. HOW, exactly? THEY FINISHED BOTTOM WITH THE JUDGES); Gethin and Flavia; Ricky and Natalie (and Ricky does some fabulous pretend-outrage in Austin's general direction); Austin and Erin (and Austin does some fabulous pretend-outrage towards the audience).

Ali and Brian and Rachel and Vincent are invited to step forward into the middle of the dance floor, and Bruce and Tess wish both couples luck. The 2009 Strictly Christmas champions are Ali and Brian! Fireworks go off, everybody hugs, Ali says she can't remember who won rock-paper-scissors to keep the trophy but gets her hands on it pretty quickly anyway, before Tess seizes it back off her and forces her and Brian into their final dance to Let It Snow. Austin and Erin are covered in paper streamers and competing with Ricky and Natalie for camera-time. Alesha and Bruno are dancing together behind the table, Craig and Len are awkwardly clapping along before they think, "Sod this for a homophobic lark!" and dance together as well. HA.

So that's it for 2009! Thank you again for your company this year. Don't forget to join us next year for all the reality TV nonsense that's heading our way.


Justine said...

Thank you so much for writing these, I have thoroughly enjoyed them all.

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