Sunday, 20 December 2009

Tens, nervous headache

2009 Final: 19th December 2009

My PVR saw fit to cut off both the beginning of the first show and the end of the second show tonight, so once again, thank you BBC for your ability to adhere to the transmission times as advertised. It's not like people have other commitments in the last weekend before Christmas or anything. Thank Miley for iPlayer, that's all I can say.

Tonight, Tess's voiceover announces unnecessarily, is the Strictly Come Dancing grand final. Shots of the pre-series teaser campaign remind us that 14 (fourteen!) weeks ago, 16 celebs took to the dancefloor to compete in the toughest! series! yet! One by one they fell (some in the more literal meaning of that word than others), but two remain: Ricky Whittle and Chris Hollins. They've devoted four months of their lives to this show (whatever, I must have devoted well over a year to this show by now, so they should count themselves lucky) and in just a few hours, Chris and Ola one couple will be crowned champions. Gosh, I wonder who it could be - will it be the couple who are rumoured to have led the public vote for many weeks now, or the couple that have been in the dance-off twice in the last month? I couldn't possibly guess. Titles!

Bruce and Tess enter to rapturous applause. Once again, Tess's dress (silver, belted, only covering one shoulder) looks okay from a distance but is horrifying when viewed close up. Why is one of her breasts so much larger than the other? What is UP with that? [Srsly. If I were the marketing director of La Senza, the lingerie firm endorsed by La Daly, I would not be happy at the lack of corsetry she displays. - Carrie] And why black shoes? Contrary to popular belief, Tess, black does not go with everything, so please try to accessorise more effectively next year. They finish their little bit of "dancing", and there is more applause. Shot: Ricky Whittle's dad in the audience, not looking terribly impressed. Word, Ricky Whittle's dad.

Bruce welcomes us to the grand final, and it is nice to see us, and also, to see us nice. Tess reminds us that Ali and Brian went out last week, and Bruce says that they can spend tonight finally going on a proper date. Jesus, remember the days when showmances ended once people had been eliminated? Anyway, this is basically just the lead-up to Bruce's gag about getting them tickets to the hottest show in town: this one, naturally. Lisa Snowdon is in the audience, with her hair all falling over one side of her head like an extra in a 1980s sci-fi movie.

Tess says that the atmosphere backstage is seriously tense, and Bruce says that the public vote alone will determine this year's champion, a statement that confused my mum, who thought this was a new innovation. Quite how she thought Darren Gough won in series three despite being bottom of the leaderboard in the final, I don't know. Fairies? Magic? Sheer triumph of will? Tess says that discussions over who will win has prompted some punditry. Oh, please: I don't know a single person who hadn't been convinced that anyone other than Chris was going to win for months now. Anyway, this takes us into some filler, where Gary Lineker and John Motson preview the final two couples, describing Chris and Ola as "real crowdpleasers" and Ricky and Natalie as "a creative pairing". It's quite a nicely put together VT, actually, especially the bit that sees them Viennese waltzing out onto "the pitch", but we are now five minutes into the programme and there has been NO SHITTING DANCING YET. Chris refers to himself and Ola as "the underdogs", which is silly, because they've got masses of public support, and the public are the ones who decide the outcome. He adds that tonight is "David vs Goliath", and there might just be a bit of giant-slaying tonight. Perhaps if they could move on from the GIANT BRAYING, we might find out. (I'm sorry, that pun was terrible.)

Finally, it's time to meet the stars of our show, who've earned their surnames back tonight for the purposes of their introductions. They enter, dressed for the ballroom round, and Natalie Lowe appears to have come as a toilet roll cover. Bruce thinks there could be tears involved tonight. Since Mad Natalie Lowe is here, I would think it's a certainty. However, Bruce is suggesting that if Ricky doesn't win, he might cry because he's a Sensitive New Age Guy, and if Chris doesn't win, he'll cry because Ola will hit him. Because violence is funny!

Tess reminds us that the couples will be performing four dances tonight and that someone will be singing (IT'S BRUCE AND ALESHA, OOPS SPOILERS), and Bruce reminds us that all of the other contestants will be returning to reprise their favourite dances one last time. Well, most of them will be, but we'll get to that later. Tess adds that the judges will be scoring tonight, but the scores are "just for guidance". I hope that means I can completely ignore them, then. Again, more on that later.

First up tonight are Ricky and Natalie, who are reprising their quickstep. Bruce ribs Ricky a bit by reminding him of his promise that he'd turn up in a thong if he made the final. Bruce then implicates Alesha (who clearly did not know she was going to be part of this story, judging by her reaction), saying that she brought in a pink thong for him - which she got from Bruno's dressing room. Oy. Alesha chuckles, "I did, I did." Oh Alesha. Please don't encourage him.

VT time! Team Whitlowe recall their two successive dance-offs (dances-off?) and how they totally thought they were going home last week. Then they got through, and Natalie's face melted, and it was awesome. Ricky says that they owe everything to the public for getting them to the final. I dunno, judging by the results in the quarter-final, I'd say you owe the judges a beer or two as well. Natalie rhapsodises that Ricky is a fantastic dancer, and in an abortive attempt to gain some public sympathy at a very late stage, says that people don't think they have to struggle, but they do! They struggle, dammit! This is illustrated by Craig telling Ricky he has bandy legs, and Natalie explaining how it is very hard to totally retrain your body. Oh, Natalie - I'm with you, I really am, but you can't honestly think that's going to hold any weight against "HE COULDN'T DANCE AT ALL AND THEN HE DONE A CHARLESTON!" Too little, too late, my Antipodean friend. Anyway, she continues that Ricky is determined to attain perfection, and that's what makes him so wonderful in her eyes. She gets a bit misty-eyed talking about what a wonderful partner he is. Aww. I'm so sad that the public haven't warmed to her. I think she's kind of awesome. [I think the problem with Natalie has been that as a newbie she's not had much chance to show what she's actually like, what with the series being stuffed full of nonsense. So all we've seen of her is that terrifying steely-eyed gaze into the camera before she goes on to the floor. The final was the first time she seemed at all fun or human on a Saturday night. - Carrie]

Ricky and Natalie reprise their Quickstep to 'Down With Love', and it's truly fantastic. It's slick and showy and incredibly well-controlled, and right near the end they actually dance up the steps while twirling around, which I'm kind of amazed by, so yep, this gets the final off to a great start. They get a standing ovation, and Bruce wonders who's responsible for some of the loudest cheers, and they turn out to be coming from Natalie's flatmates. Wouldn't it be AWESOME to be Natalie Lowe's flatmate? The answer is yes, by the way. Ricky says it was so much fun, and they want to do it again. Bruce jokes that they missed a square inch of floor somewhere.

Bruce welcomes Our Fabulous Singers Dave Arch, And His Wonderful Orchestra for the final time this series. Remember that brief period where Bruce used to put the comma in the right place? Good times. Then we come to the judges, who are apparently all still agog about Darcey's performance from last week. Personally I'd already forgotten about it, but then perhaps this is why I'm not a judge. Well, that and the fact that I wouldn't have given Lisa Snowdon's cha cha cha in last year's final a nine, let alone a ten. (Sorry Lisa! I'm going to retire that particular grudge after this year, I promise.) The point of all this, as much as anything on this show ever really has a point, is to joke that Craig would've given her technical criticism. I rather wonder what the point is of us even being here if the idea of the judges actually appraising the dances rather than doing...well, what they're going to be doing later, and you'll see what I mean, is the object of such ridicule. Anyway, Bruce tries to say "don't get arsey, Darcey", but ended up calling Darcey Arsey before he can get to that point. That's what you get for trying to include the word "arsey" in a family show, folks. Let that be a lesson to all of you.

Darcey says in her curiously unenthusiastic monotone that Ricky has set the standard for tonight's final, and that with his athletic frame he made a hard dance look easy. Len says that his expectations for this dance were high, and yet it turned out to be the best quickstep of any male celebrity across all the series. Somewhere at home, Colin Jackson bristles slightly. Alesha says that it was a treat to watch, and that if it's possible, she loves it even more than she did the first time. Bruce then tells Bruno to "try and stay on your feet", which I suspect is the opposite of what he actually means, but anyway: Bruno leaps into the air, scaring the shit out of Alesha and calls it a "major-league quickstep", saying that Ricky danced like a professional and interpreted every nuance in the music. Bruce asks him if he's "on springs" (heh) and then deduces that he must be on something, either way. Craig says they still haven't found a cage for him yet, causing Bruno to growl that there's no cage strong enough to hold him, and...does anyone else not really want Bruno back next year? I mean, if the Bring Back Arlene campaign does succeed, I kind of hope they keep Alesha on, since I think she has performed pretty well over the course of the series even if I don't always agree with her, and ditch Len or Bruno instead. Anyway, Alesha wraps Bruno in her arms to prevent him from leaping up again so Craig can get a word in (see, told you Alesha was useful): he calls it polished, slick, sophisticated, rhythmic, and spectacular.

Ricky and Natalie charge back into the House of Tesstosterone, which is filled with the Ghosts Of Dancers Past for the final. Ricky gives Natalie all the credit for their excellent feedback, saying that she's been an excellent choreographer since the very beginning. Tess, having finished all of her dancing-related questions in the space of 20 seconds, then brings out the thong that she's got waiting for Ricky (which, much to my amusement, was being looked after by Ian). He flutters it at the camera shamelessly. Heh. Scores: tens all round for the perfect 50, and richly deserved, if I may be so bold.

Next up are Chris and Ola, naturally. They'll be doing their foxtrot tonight, and there are lots of fish-related puns being thrown around because apparently Craig has been calling Chris fishface. He has? Can't say I've noticed. Well, that's put me in my plaice. (Sorry.) Chris's VT shows his mixed fortunes from last week, where his rumba got lukewarm reviews, but his Argentine tango was well-received. He and Ola thought they were going home, and Ola says that she never thought they would make the final, reminding us that they were favourites to go out in week one. Also, her first opinion on meeting Chris? That he was "a short man". Hee. [I love Ola so much. - Carrie] Their JOURNEY was bumpy, going from a promising start to fumbling through the next few weeks, only to get their second win in BLACKPOOL. Ola says that they love spending time together, and she's going to miss him loads. Whatever you may think of their dancing, they are pretty adorable together.

They foxtrot to 'I Could Have Danced All Night', and it's definitely better than the first time around - even Chris's face is more relaxed than usual, although there's still a faint hint of trapped wind in there. There are some crowdpleasing pivots, of course, and his lines are fairly pleasing, so this is pretty good work from him. The crowd are on their feet again - they're going to get repetitive strain injury if they're not careful. Chris gets a kiss on the lips from Ola for his troubles. Alesha faint-praises that this dance was his breakthrough in BLACKPOOL, and he's improved so much, and she just wants him to enjoy tonight. Bruno congratulates Ola for her work "turn[ing] a frog into a prince" - it was charming, beautifully danced, with no mistakes and not too many funny faces. Craig says that timing and footwork are difficult in this dance and Chris coped well with them, however the performance lacked swing and sway, but it was a lot better than the last time they did it. Darcey thinks Chris showed the best of his dance ability and he looked like he was enjoying it. I hope all the people who crowed about how comments like "you looked like you were enjoying it" were indicative of Alesha's lack of the necessary experience to properly judge dancing back in the early weeks are now feeling very stupid. Len calls Chris "Prince Charming" and says that this foxtrot has travelled well because it was top-notch in BLACKPOOL and is top notch again in smelly old London.

In the HoT, Tess calls them her "tiny dancers", and Chris says that ever since BLACKPOOL, they've been thinking that each dance was their last, and they can't believe they're in the final. Ola's parents have been over from Poland to surprise her, and it's her dad's birthday. Lay it on with a trowel, why don't you Tess. Chris waves hello to Ola's parents. Tess reminds them that they haven't got any tens yet (something I'd forgotten, because unlike certain people TOM CHAMBERS, they haven't been throwing hissy fits about it) and could tonight be their night? Both Chris and Ola make the foolish mistake of confusing this for an actual question, and are cut off by the scores coming in. Pwned, etc. Scores: Craig 9, Darcey 9, Len 9, Alesha 10, Bruno 9 for a total of 46. Chris and Ola go nuts at the 10, of course.

That's the end of the ballroom round - "didn't it go quick?" says Bruce ungrammatically. Well, yes, but how else would you expect it to go in a two-couple final? Before the competitive lindyhop, it's time for some of the previously eliminated couples to return for a lap of honour. We get a VT featuring the highs and mostly lows of the first weeks, and Martina Hingis gets more screentime here than she did when she was actually in the competition, probably. Also featured are Craig vs Brendan and Jo, Rav's cartwheel, Lynda's high-camp paso doble, Natalie Cassidy shaking her tatas, Tuffers shaking his rump, Ricky getting the first 10 of the series, the judges visibly regretting saving Craig in the early rounds, Jo being likened to various types of wildlife, Kristina smashing a suspended ceiling, and gratuitous overuse of fucking 'Hometown Glory', which is the one song guaranteed to make me scream obscenities at the television.

Our first parade of losers is Martina, Richard, Rav, Lynda and Joe, with their respective partners, obviously. Martina and Matthew are doing their rumba, which means the band butchering 'Alone' again, naturally. THANKS, guys. Martina has demonstrably not been practising at all since her elimination, and basically seems to find the entire thing hilarious, which is probably the best approach, all things considered. Richard and Lilia are doing their cha cha cha to 'I'm Your Man', and it's safe to say he's not one of the ones who was gone too soon. He's singing along the whole time, and can't even get the arm movements right, let alone the feet. Rav and Aliona are, regrettably, reprising their tango rather than their car-crash of a quickstep, and it's still pretty messy. Lynda and Darren are doing their foxtrot, rather than their gaymazing paso doble, and it's still as boring as it was the first time around. Joe and Kristina reprise their jive to 'Rock This Town', and it doesn't seem as bad as I remembered, though it's still not great. Still, Joe gives it a bit of oomph, which is appreciated.

It's the Lindyhop next, which gives us a chance for "direct comparison", says Bruce. Of sorts, I suppose. The lindyhop trainers, whose names escape me at this precise moment but I think might be Ryan and Jenny, talk about how it's a perfect dance for the final, because it's as difficult a dance as you're likely to find. Also, you have to make lots of crazy faces during it. Good news for Chris, then. In training, Chris frets that dancing alongside Ricky is going to make him look bad, while Ricky frets that this is Chris's sort of dance because it's so fun and energetic. Then we're back in the studio, with Chris and Ricky in trousers so high-waisted that even Pop Idol-era Simon Cowell would point and laugh, while Natalie and Ola have come as the St. Trinian's netball team. The choreography is lots of fun, and in the sections where both couples are dancing the same routine, they seem pretty evenly matched. However, in the individual sections, Ricky and Natalie have been given much more difficult steps to pull off, as he throws her all over the place, although regrettably the final move where he throws her over his back goes somewhat awry and leaves her flailing her bum at the cameras for longer than I imagine she would've liked. Chris and Ola, on the other hand, just kind of hop around in their individual sections, and he doesn't pick her up once, unless you count the bit where she cartwheels and he holds her by the ankles, which I don't. So much for the like-for-like comparison. Both couples flag a bit towards the end, and it concludes with Ricky carrying Ola and Natalie on his back while Chris strides in front of him. And I'm not knocking Chris here, because clearly he didn't design the choreography, but I can't help thinking that he and Ola really didn't have quite such high demands made of them in that routine as Ricky and Natalie did, and given that we were led to believe they'd essentially be performing the same routine, I feel slightly cheated.

After another standing ovation, both couples troop over to the judges. Asked to comment on Ricky and Natalie, Craig says that this really is a dance for hobbits, and it's harder for tall people, but the timing of their lifts was brilliant except for that one they bollocked up at the end. He thought they looked a bit laboured at time, but it showed the trust in their partnership. Darcey says that they executed it very cleanly except for that obvious fluff-up, but it does suit a more compact body, though they sold it well. Len is asked to comment in general, and says that he thought Chris held his own very well in this routine, even if Ricky was slightly sharper and more rhythmic. Alesha is asked to comment on Chris and Ola, and says that he kept control well, and delivered a funny, entertaining routine. She thinks it's a very close call between both couples. Bruce says again that the couples have to do four dances in tonight's final. "We had to do five," Alesha so-theres in response. Snerk. [I'm glad she said that. I was shouting it at the telly for most of the evening prior to that. - Carrie] Bruno says that Chris really cracked him up, because he was like a cheeky monkey, to whom he wanted to throw a banana. Bruno might want to lay off the hallucinogens.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Tess asks if it was as much fun as it looked, and Chris says that it was indeed, and he was so glad to be up against Ricky and Natalie because they are lovely and that, and Natalie says that if she weren't a ballroom dancer, she'd be a lindyhopper because she loves it. Ricky's and Natalie's score comes in first: Craig 8, Darcey 8, Len 9, Alesha 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 43, giving them 93/100 so far. Asked if he can beat that, Chris says he'll take "five, sixes, anything - they all add up!" Heh. Then Ricky and Natalie's voting number is given out, and man, the structure of this section is weird. THEN it's time for Chris and Ola's score: Craig 8, Darcey 9, Len 9, Alesha 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 44, giving them 90/100. "I knew it was a hobbit's dance!" cheers Chris.

Filler, anyone? It's time to go across the country to see who's supporting who. Variously: carol singers like Chris, ice skaters like Ricky, soldiers like Chris, farmers like Ricky, people in sombreros like Chris, firemen like Ricky, man selling Christmas trees likes Chris, "the modern day Barishnikov", woman in market likes Chris and Ola's relationship, cocktail waitresses like Ricky, steam train driver likes Chris, Paul O'Grady likes Ricky, someone from BBC News likes Chris. Ricky's brother is very proud, as are Chris's parents. Chris's sister is Enid Blyton, apparently. [I couldn't work out how old she might be. She could be 13; she could be 56. - Carrie]

Leaderboard: Ricky first, Chris second. That was easy. Tess reminds us that the judges' scores count for bollock-all, and then the lines open.

After a recap of the performances so far, it's time for some more of the previous eliminees (is that a word?) to come back. Week six saw Jade and Ian survive the dance-off against Jo and Brendan, week seven saw Ricky get lots of tens and James repeatedly saying the word "sexy" to Zöe until she hid in a cupboard and refused to come out, week eight was BLACKPOOL and saw Craig finally going home (thankfully he didn't have far to travel), week nine saw everyone half dead, and week ten saw a monster attempting to devour Erin by attaching itself to her arms and consuming her slowly but surely. Jo, Zöe and Craig return for this bit: Jo and Brendan do their Viennese waltz again, and it's quite a nice note to go out on for the two of them, even if Jo is still a bit lost, generally, Zöe and James do their American smooth again (minus the arm tissue things that caused a problem the first time round), and Craig and Flavia do their foxtrot, and actually it's not too bad. Maybe he really should only dance in 20 second bursts. Bruce explains the absence of Tuffers, who has got the flu.

And now the moment we've all (and by "we", I basically mean me) been waiting for: Jade's tango! She gets her very own VT, because Jade is AMAZING AND WOZ ROBBED etc. She says she's going to look back upon the show as a turning point into womanhood (scary) and that Ian has taught her how to be a different, maybe even a better person. After one last recap of the horror of the show that she missed, she squeals that she's really excited to be back. Their tango is to 'View To A Kill', and it's very dramatic. Her mouth is hanging open rather unflatteringly, but the dancing itself is great, and I'm so glad they got a chance to do it and we got a chance to see it. I don't think she would've made the finals like so many people have said she would had injury not forced her to withdraw, but I certainly think she should have.

They trot over to Tess (because Bruce is getting ready to sing, innit) by the judges' table, where Tess says that Jade was actually reminding Ian of the steps while they were rehearsing. Tess asks Jade about her knee, and Jade says it's good enough to do the tango, though she's not 100% sure about her jumping yet. If you're reading this: get well soon, Jade! Jade thanks everyone who supported them during the show, and then they're gone. Aww. ROBBED. Sorry, just had to say that one more time.

Now it's time for the much-feared Bruce/Alesha duet on 'Something's Gotta Give'. Alesha looks stunning in a sequinned dress with a split up to there. It's pretty cheesy and entirely unnecessary, and I'm sure the haters vomited their way through it, but hey, I thought she sounded fine, even if a couple of the harmonies were a bit grating. Bruce, obviously, has been doing this sort of thing for years and although a bit scratchy in places, is exactly as you'd expect him to be. At the end Bruce tells Alesha to let him know if she needs a warm-up for her show any time. Alesha's all "yeah, I'll get back to you on that, old man." Then Bruce sings a bit of to 'The Boy Does Nothing' at her with the lyrics changed to "the boy got something" shakes his hips and it's all a bit wrong.

Bruce then rejoins Tess to tease the results show coming up later, and then it's "ooh, we've been on a JOURNEY" VT time. Ola says Chris has put so much hard work in and has been a dream partner. Natalie says that Ricky has worked very hard. Chris wants to win it for Ola. Winning would be the biggest highlight of Natalie's career, now and forever. Ricky thinks they need "one last push". And then we're out!

Results

After fastforwarding through the end of the National Lottery draw, we're back. Bruce says that both couples danced their hearts out earlier, and later we will be crowning one of them as 2009 champions, while Tess reminds us that we still have two more dances to come. Tess Laguna Beaches that there has been "so much drama", which leads us into a VT of what happened earlier. We were all there, right? You don't need me to recap it all over again.

We get another shot of the leaderboard, and then it's time to welcome back the contestants who "nearly made it", as Bruce says. VT highlights include Vincent's inability to do a roly-poly, Darcey joining the judging panel, Laila's hot mess of a quarter-final performance, Ricky and Natalie spending so much time in the dance-off they almost had to get their mail redirected, Chris looking constipated a lot, Ali and Brian getting the first full 50 in the show's history (not that it had been possible for very long) and Vincent being a gay 1950s biker again. Then Ricky and Erin come back to do their cha cha cha again, which is an odd choice since they had several dances that earned them higher scores, but hey, it's their decision. NatCass and Vincent reprise their quickstep, which is pretty good, and then Ali and Brian are back with their Viennese waltz and she looks far more relaxed than she ever did while she was actually competing. And where was Laila? Fucked if we know, all Bruce says is that she "sends her love". She didn't even have the decency to be ill, it seems.

For the Latin round, Chris and Ola are reprising their Charleston, which: not a Latin dance, but I totally saw it coming, so never mind. Time for another VT: apparently taxi drivers talk to him about his Charleston now instead of football, and he's dancing this for all the people who voted and kept him in this far. He says that he lacks much natural ability, but Ola has been really patient with him. He's really going to miss spending time with her, and having their slightly terrifying routine in which they eat the same sandwiches every day. He's going to give it his all to give Ola a chance of winning.

They gurn their way through their Charleston once more, to 'Fat Sam's Grand Slam', and yep, it's a lot of fun, to be sure, and they swing their way through it admirably with total commitment to looking daft, though they biff the bit where Ola lifts Chris on her back a little bit. Still, it ends with the sexy-swimming bit that everyone loves, and the crowd go wild. Ugh, Chris Moyles is there. Considering everyone goes on about how this routine is such a pick-me-up, why would you go straight from it to the downer of having to look at him? Bruno calls it "exhilarating, uplifting, exciting" and then talks about Ola "riding him" at the end, which causes Ola to look a bit uneasy and Alesha to do an actual real-life facepalm. Word, Ola and Alesha. Ola takes pains to clarify that she was "swimming", not riding. Craig calls it "quirky, dynamic, animated - all those wonderful things" and says that Chris's mouth being open so wide really suited it. Darcey says that Chris transported her to a golden era of the movies, and that he and Ola are so perfectly in tune. Len says that it's becoming the best final ever (okay, I'll admit that I'm enjoying tonight's show a lot more than I expected to, but best final ever? Fuck off), with Chris having just delivered fantastic entertainment.

Chris whisks Ola back to the House of Tesstosterone, and Tess says that it's the dance they've become known for. Chris says self-effacingly that some might say it's the only dance they can do. See, it's stuff like that that makes me okay with his inevitable victory, because he does seem like a genuinely nice, modest and realistic bloke, and I can completely appreciate why so many people are rooting for him. (I still don't get why people liked Tom Chambers or John Sergeant last year, because I don't think they managed to achieve even one of those qualities between them, but hey, different strokes for different folks and all that.) Chris says that the routine was just perfect for them. Tess asks how he's going to go back to BBC Breakfast after this. Hasn't he been doing BBC Breakfast all along anyway?

And here's where it gets mental: the scores come in, and it's a full-house - 50/50. Now, I'm going to be careful where I tread here, because the last thing I want to do is get beseiged by Chris Hollins stans who accuse me of some nefarious bias (despite the fact that this blog has never, even claimed to be impartial, indeed that couldn't be further from our objective) like last year when I was bewitched by Lisa Snowdon's amazing bazooms into not fully appreciating the magic that was Smuggo Chambers, but let's just evaluate what's going on here. I liked Chris and Ola's Charleston, both times they did it. It's fun, and it really suits them. But was it worth 50 points? I don't see it, myself. High 40s, sure, but not 50, because it wasn't perfect. Without wanting to get too conspiracy-theorist about it, of course the judges were going to be less critical of Chris tonight, since the actual competition was basically a formality on the road to his victory. But at this point, he now has more tens than Jill Halfpenny ever got, assuming we don't count Christmas specials (and believe me, we don't), and the same number of tens that Tom Chambers got. All in one night. There are always scoring anomalies in the finals, I suppose (last year the judges handed out perfect scores to the contestant they knew was the least popular with the public, this year they're suddenly handing out perfect scores to the couple they must know is the most popular with the public), and I don't wish to be uncharitable, but I just thought this was an unnecessarily high score, and it felt like pandering to me - both to Chris and Ola, and to the variously vocal members of the public who complained that he was underscored last time. But still, at least next year when I have to retire my outrage against the perfect score given to Lisa Snowdon's cha cha cha, I have a suitable replacement for it, I guess.

Anyway, Team Cola stans, I've said my piece: do your worst. [The only problem I have with complaining about couples being overscored is that it inevitably sounds like one is complaining about the couples, and it's really, really not their fault. - Carrie]

Chris and Ola are amazed by their score, Chris remarking that tens are "like buses", heh. Tess clarifies that Bruno's comment about riding earlier was most definitely about dancing, and definitely not about anything else, especially not that thing you're thinking of, you dirty bitch.

Ricky and Natalie prepare to come back on, and Bruce euphemistically refers to them as "a determined couple". In his VT, Ricky recalls the standing ovation for his Argentine tango, particularly his dad's reaction, which will stay with him forever. He says that Natalie's reaction to getting through last week (which can be summarised thusly: *WAIL*), shows that dancing is her life. When the show finishes, he hopes that the two of them will stay in touch, but he doesn't want it to end, and he thinks that not dancing with Natalie is going to be hard: "there's going to be a massive hole". Hur hur hur.

They'll be reprising their cha cha cha from all of two weeks ago, to 'Sunshine Of Your Love', and there's not a lot of improvement that can have been made in the space of two weeks, but it's great, and probably the cha cha cha I've enjoyed the most since Alesha's, way back in 2007. There's just incredible finesse to the dance, and the chemistry between the two of them is brilliant. Another standing ovation, and Alesha says that Ricky has delivered one of the best dances she's ever seen on the show, and one of the best cha cha chas. Bruno says that "this is a dance competition, and boy you can dance!" Darcey says she was "taken aback" and that he managed to make it even more polished than last time, and she'd love to cha cha with him one day. Craig says that it's still masculine, still sexy and still turned-out.

They return to the House of Tesstosterone once more, where Tess asks the loaded question of whether it was a winning performance. Sensibly, Ricky and Natalie dodge the question. Scores: Craig 9, Darcey 10, Len 9, Alesha 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 48. "Bruno got his 10 out!" says Tess, and informs us that there's currently only one point separating the two couples.

And now it's showdance time, which Tess claims "could be make-or-break". Chris and Ola are back on first, with their freestyle routine to 'Do You Love Me?', which begins with some very literal choreography, which is something I generally approve of, especially when Brian Friedman does it. There's a broadly cha cha cha them to the routine, with some nice, neat and showy lifts. Then there's an AMAZING moment where Chris does a handstand while scissoring with his legs, while Ola stands in between them and mimes the lyrics to the song, and I can't really do justice to it in words, but trust me, it is awesome. Then there's a bit of jiving, and a one-armed lift, and it ends with Chris leaping onto the judges' table and doing a pelvic thrust. Heck, I enjoyed that.

The crowd start stamping their feet in appreciation, and Bruce tells Chris that the Chippendales want him to join them. Darcey comments that Chris displayed great partnering, his timing and his technique were perfect, and there was no strain on his face at all. Len says that Chris has had a really tough JOURNEY, but has always been full of enthusiasm, and this was no exception. Alesha tells Ola that her sparkly blue trousers are amazing, then gets to the nitty gritty, saying that she liked the combination of different styles in the dance, and that her answer to "do you love me?" is yes. Bruce thanks "both lady judges" for controlling themselves when Chris jumped onto the desk, and Alesha cackles that she was tempted to "have a feel". And lo, her transformation into Arlene was complete. Bruno asks where Chris suddenly got all that strength from - "have you been on spinach for a month?" Despite a couple of "mishandles", he thought it was a great performance.

Chris and Ola skip back to the House of Tesstosterone for yet another standing ovation, and Chris says that Ola's head has taken a hammering in rehearsals because she's been dropped a few times. Asked if he's done enough to win it, he says that he really can't tell, but they've had such a fantastic time. And then the scores are in. WHAT THE FUCKING WHAT? Since when do we score the showdances? God, I wish this fucking show would stop changing the rules. Anyway: Craig 9, Darcey 9, Len 9, Alesha 10, Bruno 9 for a total of 46, giving Chris a total of 186/200. There comes a point where all numbers essentially become meaningless, doesn't there?

Tess welcomes in Ricky and Natalie. Chris calls "good luck, fellas!" in what seems an entirely well-intentioned way, though Ricky points to Natalie and remarks "fellas? In this swimsuit?" I peer in vain for any sign of a shenis, and find nothing. Chris clarifies that he meant "guys", which is...still kind of gender-biased, but a more acceptably neutral term than fellas, so this seems to get him off the hook.

Ricky and Natalie head out to the floor, and their routine is to 'Last Dance' by Donna Summer. It seems largely rumba-y to me, but with a shitload of lifts thrown in, obviously. There's a lovely bit at the beginning where Ricky lifts Natalie up on her shoulder and she just sort of rolls over him, and it looks so smooth and effortless but you just know it must have been a bugger to get right. Then it goes a bit cha cha cha-y, and then Ricky trumps Chris's one-armed lift with a no-armed lift: he puts Natalie onto his shoulders and somehow manages to just support her on his neck while he spins around. And if I'd been back in time to vote, that would have had me rushing to the phone, because it was genuinely breathtaking. At the very end they overbalance very slightly in their final pose, but in the battle of the lifts that male celebrity showdances invariably devolve into, I think Ricky takes the honours.

Another standing ovation, and Natalie thanks the audience, while someone screams out "RICKAY!" and Ricky replies "wrong show!" Heh. Len says that in week one he said they were the ones to beat, and in week 14 that's still the case, and even if they do get beat(en), they can leave knowing that they're the best dancers. Alesha says that she would've liked to see more dance styles thrown in from previous dances, just to truly showcase Ricky's ability, though she clarifies that this isn't a criticism of this dance, and praises THE AMAZING NECKLIFT. Bruno says that it's so very hard to do all those lifts, and many dancers take years to perfect them, and to be able to transition seamlessly into the Latin steps was very impressive, and Ricky should be fantastic. Craig calls it "lift-tastic" and says that his jaw was dropping watching it. Len says that he thinks Ricky's head is Velcro. Snerk.

Back in the House of Tesstosterone, Ricky and Natalie are sad to have done their final dance, and Ricky says what an honour it is to have been on the show. Natalie says she feels like she's lost a friend knowing they won't get to dance together any more. Scores are in: Craig 10, Darcey 9, Len 10, Alesha 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 49. That gives them a total score of 190/200.

Leaderboard: Ricky in first, Chris in second. Another moment of epic amazingness: Natalie doesn't realise that the camera is back on her and kind of flops over from the waist. Ricky, spotting that they're back on, surreptitiously lifts her back upright, at which point Natalie realises what she just did on live television and breaks into a fit of giggles. It's really cute.

Tess says that after 654 hours of training, the couples can do no more. Ricky asks Chris if that's how many hours he put in. "That was on Wednesday," Chris quips. Aw, these two genuinely seem to really get on. I like that.

Recap of both performances from the results show. We've already seen it all. Let's move on.

Bruce says that he has no idea who it's going to be (hint: Chris & Ola). Then there's more filler from previous contestants talking about their favourite moments in a VT. Smuggo Chambers is up first, and of course his was that nauseating bit of tap he did before his quickstep started. Kelly Brook's is the moment in their American Smooth when Brendan looked at her to let her know they were going to do the lift they weren' supposed to do. Mark Ramprakash's was his Argentine tango in the semis, and the chemistry he and Karen generated. (There's some really amazing slo-mo treatment on the footage here, by the way. It's great.) Austin's is his paso doble, and the total silence as he walked out. Alesha's was her cha cha cha, and being counted in by Our Fabulous Singers Dave Arch, and the electricity as she threw her head back.

More filler, you'd like? Sure: here's Brian and Kristina dancing to 'Just Dance' by Lady Gaga, which It Takes Two led me to understand had been refused as a music choice several times over the course of the series because it was too electronic for the band. What a swizz! Also, I'm fairly certain the lady singer begins by singing "red wine" instead of "Red One". Anyway, Brian and Kristina's showcase dance is awesome, and I wonder if Kristina's due a decent partner next year, because I'd love to see what she could do with one, but then I remember that by all accounts, that's what they thought they were giving her with Joe Calzaghe this year.

Tess is in the audience, sat between both sets of parents. Chris's parents are pleased with how well he's done. "Did you know he could dance?" asks Tess, to which Chris's mum replies, "He couldn't." Ha! Ricky's dad is very proud of how much "Richard" has achieved, and he believes that he'll go on to be a dancer in some capacity in the future.

Then it's back to Bruce, who muses on how once you're part of the family, you never really leave - and to demonstrate, Lisa Snowdon and Rachel Stevens are coming back to do a routine. The pros begin the performance (to 'Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves', naturally). After some generally agreeable dancing from the pros, Lisa arrives and...is really awkward. Like she doesn't really know what she's doing, and she's kind of all over the place, and you can see it on her face that even she knows it. Considering it's a cha cha cha, as well, for which she got that PERFECT SCORE (last time, I promise) and that she's allegedly the BEST FEMALE NEVER TO WIN, it's all a bit embarrassing. Then Rachel comes out and is technically amazing but devoid of expression, just as she always was. Still, it's nice to see her tango-ing with Vincent again. Then Lisa comes back out, and the two of them dance simultaneously for a bit, before all the pros return for the last few bars. Well, it was nice to see them again, but I wonder if Lisa is wishing she hadn't bothered.

Lisa and Rachel rush over to Bruce, and Lisa says it's brilliant to be back on the floor, using the word "amazing" several times, apparently unaware that that's Rachel's job. Bruce asks Rachel if she was jealous to see Vincent dancing with another partner, and Rachel says that it felt a bit like he was cheating on her, but she got over it in the end. Bruce agrees that Vincent "probably is a little cheat", which is...inappropriate. Rachel says that she's looking forward to coming back to dance with Vincent for the Christmas show, and Lisa says it's like they've never been away, because people still stop them on the street to talk about the show,

Then Tess is in the audience again, sitting between Tom Chambers and new world heavyweight champion David Haye, who is sat next to Chris Moyles. She asks David who he's rooting for, and he says "everyone". Good to know. He did enjoy Ricky's AMAZING LIFTS in the showdance, though. Then he says how much he enjoyed his chum Joe Calzaghe, and seeing him scared for the very first time. Tess turns to Chris, who is rooting for Chris, because he represents every man who can't dance, and has learned to dance, "and I mean that in a nice way". Chris Moyles never means anything in a nice way. Tess asks Tom who's likely to take his crown, and he says that he thinks it'll be Cola.

Tess announces that the phonelines have closed, and Bruce teases that the results are just moments away. But they're not here yet, of course, because we have to sit through another superfluous VT of the two couples talking about what a lovely time they've had. Chris says that they had some real ups and downs, but Ola always kept his spirits up, and he's enjoyed every single second, and he'll find it really hard to see her dancing with someone else next year. Ola says she won't say goodbye to Chris because she knows she's going to see him again. Aww. Natalie says she couldn't be "any more prouder" than she is right now, and Ricky never thought he'd love dance this much, and credits Natalie with making it happen. Natalie says his dedication and perseverance blew her away. She calls Ricky her "soulmate for life" and says that she doesn't think she'd have had that "something special" with anyone else.

Tess and Bruce are standing there with cue cards, so that means we're finally there: it's the moment of truth. And the winners of Strictly Come Dancing 2009 are...

...Chris and Ola, of course. Chris stares at the floor in shock, Ola covers her face with her hands, while Ricky and Natalie smile and applaud gallantly. Rav and Aliona charge on to hug Chris and Ola, eventually followed by all the other couples, while the judges deliver another standing ovation to the winners. Tess commiserates with Ricky and Natalie, who say they've had an amazing time and thank everyone for letting them get that far, and Ricky vows to keep dancing, thanking everyone on the show and everyone on Hollyoaks who made it possible. Bruce is with Chris and Ola, and Ola's in tears, and Chris thanks everyone, especially Ricky and Natalie. "You've been amazing. Amazing!" Ola sobs. Bless. Chris continues to thank their families and friends, who've made it possible for them to do everything, and the fellow professionals who've been generous with their training. Finally, he thanks "little Olachops" for believing him all along, even though he "did test her a little bit", especially in the jive and the quickstep, and then he kisses her and calls her a "lovely little girl", which is sort of gross and sweet at the same time. Ola says that Chris has been a dream to work with, and the experience has been fantastic for her.

Bruce hands them the trophy, and Ola loses it again. Rounding up, Tess mispronounces Ola's name for the nine millionth time this series, and Bruce orders a round of applause for everyone, including the judges. Tess reminds us to watch the Christmas special, and Chris and Ola have their victory dance to 'Greatest Day', and there's confetti everywhere and Chris is borne aloft on someone's shoulders, and then we're out.

And that's it for another year, folks. The series had its ups and downs, but went a long way to redeeming itself with a pretty enjoyable final. I thought Ricky and Natalie deserved the win, but congratulations to Chris and Ola, who proved themselves to be worthy adversaries against all odds.

As for us, all being well we'll be back at Christmas to recap the festive special, and if you're not utterly sick of me yammering on about dancing despite not really knowing very much about it, I do hope you'll join us in January for Bitch You Think You Can Dance and Bitching On Ice. Keeeeep dancing, and all that! Thanks for reading, you make the many, many hours spent hunched over my laptop utterly worthwhile.

6 comments:

droo said...

Thanks for the blogs. Will you be Bitching ON ICE too?

The 50 for the Charleston was obviously utter bollocks, and if you were marking everything properly then I reckon there was probably 15-20 points difference in total between them rather then 4, but I guess everyone knew who was going to win and scored accordingly. Other than the pointless Lindyhop, Alesha gave nothing but 10 all night. I still sort of love her but I wouldn't be in the least bothered if she didn't come back as a judge (hello, Karen Hardy).

I hope Natalie comes back, I think she is properly awesome.

Commuter said...

Thanks for the hours of entertainment, all!

Though I think So you think you can bitch would be an even more awesome blog title :) I'll be faithfuy reading either way!

Long live the bitches and bitching!

Miriam said...

Thank you for the brilliant blogs - I've loved them.

Re this final, I was disappointed by the lack of any Karen Hardy sightings in the final (apart from in Ramps' brief VT). Karen FTW.

I didn't mind Alesha as a judge, and I think it would be a particular shame if she were replaced by Darcey, who, to quote Len, really got on my wick. If she was there to add some kind of technical input, I saw hardly any, and she doesn't have the warmth and personality of Alesha.

Steven said...

droo - Alesha didn't give 10 to either of the Lindyhops, but yes, I agree, it would've been nice if she'd been a little less 10-happy.

Commuter - some total bastard had already taken So You Think You Can Bitch. I might sue.

Miriam - the series always needs MOAR KAREN HARDY. Maybe she had prior commitments to go and be awesome elsewhere?

ht said...

I have to confess, I preferred Cola's showdance, because it seemed more cohesive. I bow before the power of the no-hands lift though.

Other than that, Alesha was sharp, Bruce was flat, and standing a proud 5"2, my back was up every time they referred to Team Cola as "hobbits".

See you ON ICE, with Nasty Nigel and at the Christmas special.

CCB said...

As you said, a much more enjoyable final than I was expecting, and a far better ending than the comparatively lacklustre series deserved.

The fifth judge was rendered a poor move by (a) Darcey not making any technical comments and (b) the removal of the dance off in two of her three weeks.

The priority for next year should be to ensure that a three-person final can be staged.

Thanks, as ever, for your diligent bitching. I had decided that I wasn't going to watch So You Think You Can Resurrect Arlene's Judging Career, but maybe the combination of the boredom of the 2nd of Janaury and the promise of bitching will conspire to change my mind.