Sunday, 17 October 2010

You can't teach an old magician new tricks

Top 13 (sort of): 16th October 2010

Previously: the couples actually faced a public vote for the first time, having had a lot more screentime than most people do before they have to face that particular obstacle. Goldie and Kristina were eliminated, and Tess's voiceover tries to pass this off as a "shock result", which: no, Tess. Goldie and Peter were the two contestants above the obvious comedy contestants on the leaderboard, and the obvious comedy contestants rarely go in the first week. Goldie's elimination was about as much of a surprise as your constant inability to turn up wearing an outfit that doesn't look like it was previously used to store root vegetables. Now, the remaining couples are back (minus one, but we'll get to that later) and apparently everyone's finding this week's routines very difficult. So the rehearsal VTs should be fun, then.

Titles! We are LIVE from Television Centre, and we have Bruce, and we have Tess. Daly Dresswatch: a Grecian-looking red outfit with a gold belt. I almost expect her to say "titter ye not", but I think the chances of anyone tittering while Bruce is still reading out those awful jokes are fairly slim. It is nice to see us, to see us nice, and Bruce does an opening gag about buying a computer that doesn't really make an awful lot of sense, but it's fun to see him trying to say things like "USB port". Tess again tries to push the Goldie-as-shock-elimination agenda (still not buying it, Daly) and Bruce stammers about how hard everyone else will need to try tonight. Shall we meet our couples? Oh yes, do let's. Scott and Natalie, Peter and Erin, Jimi and Flavia, Paul and Ola, Patsy and Robin and Patsy's Prominent Rack, which I think deserves its own billing this week, Matt and Aliona (dear wardrobe department, pastel pinks do not go well with Aliona's flame-red hair), Kara and Artem, Pamela and James, Felicity and Vincent, Michelle and Brendan, Ann and Anton, and finally Gavin and Katya.

Noticed anyone missing? That's right, no Tina and Jared. Tess explains that Tina is ill and won't be competing tonight, and then says "we'll have more on that later" like she's Kirsty Wark on Newsnight or something. First up for this evening are Kara and Artem. The audience clap, and Artem is hilariously all "who, me? You like me, Oh, you GUYS!" I think Artem has been secretly snacking on a GIANT HAM this week. There's a gag about their James Bond routine from last week and how Len has always wanted to be double-o sev-unnnnn, and then we roll VT. [I did think that gag was quite good. Kill me now. - Carrie Kara feels like her nerves are subsiding, and finally manages to get through an entire interview without mentioning her trip in the first week. Hooray! She's especially proud of the nine that Alesha gave her last week. Training actually seems to be going well for them, and Kara enthuses about what a great teacher Artem is. Although he can't teach her to stop giggling, by the looks of things. Artem claims to find her laughter irresistible. For the first hour or so, perhaps, and then I bet he suddenly busts into Georgina Bouzova-era James Jordan. Kara points out that they can go from laughter to tantrum in quite a short space of time. She's hoping this week will not be her final chance to dance with Artem. I find it highly unlikely, Kara dear.

They're dancing a quickstep to Jet's 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl' and they begin on the balcony with a bit of business before trotting down the stairs for a Charleston-influenced section that ends with Kara performing an impressive cartwheel. Then they take hold and start leaping around the dancefloor at a serious lick, and there are very, very slight hints of timing struggles but on the whole this is very good indeed. It's both an accomplished quickstep and a very entertaining piece of choreography, so well done Artem. Fewer congratulations go to the fabulous singers, who are seriously struggling with the high notes, as we all knew they would the second we recognised the song.

Bruce thinks this is a good time to welcome the singers, Dave Arch, and his orchestra. The singers are probably thinking "a better time to welcome us would've been after a song we had a hope in hell of pulling off." There's the usual opening joke about the judges, but this week Bruno is the butt of the joke rather than Craig, which seems to take him rather by surprise. Len explains that the quickstep is a dance of two halves because the upper half of the body must stay very calm while the lower half is all frantic. He thought the beginning was a bit long, but it was fleet of foot and a great start. The camera cuts to Joe Thomas of The Inbetweeners fame, who I assume is there to support Kara, since her sister is his co-star, unless I'm missing a more obvious connection? Alesha says it's never easy to come out first, but Kara hasn't disappointed. She wasn't sure about the rock vibe at first, but thinks it worked, and Kara was very light on her feet. Bruno thought it was pacy and lively, but he thinks Kara's arm placements weren't up to her usual standards, and the arch in her back should be more extended. He claims that he has to keep her in check, because she's so good. I wouldn't worry, Bruno - keeping women in check is what the internet is there for. Craig opens: "picky, picky, picky, darling" - he was very impressed with the cartwheel in heels ("I've done that myself, darling, I know how tough that is.") and he thought the arm placement was good, despite what Bruno says.

Kara and Artem trot up to the Tess Circle, as we all wonder what kind of racy slip-up Kara's going to make this week. Tess asks how confident they were in kicking off the night, and Kara says it was hard, but fun. FNAR! Tess thinks that following a cardio workout like that, there's an exercise video in Kara's future. Scores are in: eights from all but Bruno, who awards it a seven, for a total of 31.

Felicity and Vincent are next with our first rumba of the evening. Felicity interviews that she's pleased to have another week to prove to the judges that she can be really, really good. The pinchedness in her face as she says this makes me wonder if she could still be a good candidate for this year's SURPRISE CRAZYPANTS contestant. (Sure, Michelle's crazy, but I don't think that was a surprise to anyone, was it?) Vincent is pleased that they have "the dance of the love" and explains to Felicity that it's the "vertical representation of the horizontal desire". He thinks she's very lucky to be dancing the rumba with him. Their routine involves a lot of bending. Felicity is worried about her son seeing this.

They're dancing to 'True Colours' and the routine begins with Felicity doing a crab-like backbend that's impressive if not terribly pretty to look at. Also? It's not dancing. That's kind of the ongoing problem with this routine - what rumba there is in it is quite nice, but a good 60% of the routine seems to be more of a Yogalates demonstration than an actual dance. I'm still not entirely convinced by Felicity as a dancer, either - there's something a bit stilted about her movement, even if her flexibility is impressive.

Len saw hip action, chemistry, and flexibility, and thinks it was definitely her best dance. Alesha says there was something very tender about the performance, and admires Felicity's bendiness. Bruno, who's behaving in a very sinister fashion tonight, smarms a bit more about Felicity's elasticity, but he's "going to be picky again" and tells her to watch her transitions, which can tend towards the laboured. Felicity says something which her mic doesn't quite pick up, but sounds something like "I got it wrong", and then Vincent and Bruno both shush her, and Felicity clamps a hand over her mouth. Felicity then quite clearly mouths "shit!" and then, realising where she is, clamps her hand over her mouth again. Heh. Craig loved the splits, but was less pleased with her arms, her rondes, and her stiff neck - but overall he found it impressive.

Felicity and Vincent head up to the Tess Circle, where Tess says that she has to issue a quick apology "in case she said something under her breath she didn't mean." Oh she meant it, you patronising boot. Tess is impressed with "flexible Felicity - would you like to be known as that from now on?" Felicity would. Tess asks Felicity how lucky she is to have Vincent teaching her the dance of love. I thought it was the dance of sex? If you don't come up with a clear distinction there, you're just asking for trouble. Felicity would like to do it again and get it right this time. Scores are in: Craig 7, Len 7, Alesha 8, Bruno 7 for a total of 29. Felicity's very happy with that result.

Patsy and Robin are on third, and we are reminded how Patsy shook off her inhibitions last week. Patsy admits to being "genuinely shocked" that they got through, and feels more like herself again. Their rehearsals for the quickstep are troublesome. "They named it right," Patsy notes. "It's quick!" Robin boasts that he's made the routine very fast. Patsy says she knows she needs to work even harder to get this right, but Robin has been very patient. She says that she's having fun, but needs to make the most of it, because this week could be her last dance. I think we're going to get an ersatz elimination speech from her every week until she actually goes. (PS. Dear The X Factor, this is what a lack of self-confidence actually looks like. Kisses, from Steve.)

Their quickstep is to KT Tunstall's 'Black Horse And The Cherry Tree'. It requires Patsy to begin the dance on the very first beat of the song; unfortunately, she misses this and as a result is completely out of time for the first few bars. The singers slur the words like they've been necking the Malibu between songs. Things improve slightly when Patsy and Robin take hold, but Patsy is basically hopping up and down just trying to keep up, and honestly, I think Robin was overambitious with this choreography. She's just not ready for something this complicated yet. All credit to Patsy, she really is making a valiant attempt at keeping up, but it's clear that it's a struggle for her.

Patsy's completely out of breath, but Bruce reassures her that it's the judges who will be doing all the talking now. Bruno wants Patsy to keep her confidence up, but she went wrong immediately as she started and then "your footwork was a bit like a pony at full gallop". Bruce tells Patsy her dress rehearsal was much better. Craig agrees that the chasses were "very horse-like" and that the whole thing felt too fast for her because she was out of time at the beginning and the end. Len says that the chasse can tend to look a bit gallopy when you have fast music, and clarifies that that's what Craig meant. He thinks the quantity of steps were there, but they lacked in quality. He tells Robin that the routine was ambitious, and congratulates Patsy for coming out with confidence. Patsy chimes in: "I know it looked appalling, but I had a really good time!" Bless her. Alesha says that it wasn't as bad as the others made out, and she thinks Patsy made a very good effort and shouldn't beat herself up about it.

Up in the Tess Circle, Patsy says that she didn't hear the count in, which is why she mistimed her opening, but she - wait for it - had a good time. She knows she's not the best dancer, but she hopes she gets to go through and even if she doesn't, it's been a great experience. Seriously, Patsy: at this rate, you're going to have nothing left to say when you actually do get eliminated. Scores: Craig 5, Len 6, Alesha 7, Bruno 6 for a total of 24. Tess asks Patsy if she's got more to give, and Patsy is clearly struggling not to say "no", so Robin says "yes" on her behalf. I think he knows her quite well at this point.

Paul and Ola are next, and The Lovely Debbie McGee is in the audience cheering them on. Paul recalls his general problem with remembering the routine last week, but is heartened by Craig noticing some level of improvement. He explains that he has yet to find "a good hook" for memorising the dance routine, so he's taken to videoing Ola so he can watch and practice at home. It'll never stand up in court, Paul. At home, The Lovely Debbie McGee says that Paul has become much more serious, and he's "prancing around the house" all the time. Paul dances with his laptop in his hand. It's actually quite endearing. He shows his hip movements to Ola the next day. "I like it!" she enthuses. "Not a lot, but I like it." I think we're going to get that every week until he goes, aren't we?

Their rumba is to Rihanna's 'Take A Bow', and begins with Ola sitting on the steps. It's a Matt Di Angelo routine in reverse! There is the obligatory bit of magic as Paul conjures various things to offer, all of which Ola does not want. Then he does some hip swaying, which looks terrifyingly like those fantasy sequences that used to come up in I'm Alan Partridge when he'd offer to do a lap dance for Tony Hayers from the BBC. This is far more impressive to Ola, and they begin to dance, though it's a tad unfortunate that the first line of the first verse is "you look so dumb right now" because...well, you don't need me to finish that sentence. It's very much an Ola Jordan rumba in that the man is little more than a prop she uses to dance around, and Paul's contribution is minimal. As routines go, though, it's not entirely uncharming. [Be fair to Ola, she's never had a partner who was worth choreographing anything for in terms of rumba. - Carrie]

Craig thinks the armography was blocky and Paul showed no emotion, and his bourrée was "infantile". Paul admits that he didn't even know what one of those was, and explains that he was told to do it. "You weren't told to do it badly," Craig clarifies. "Yes, I was!" Paul retorts. Craig thinks Paul spent most of the routine ogling Ola. "He wasn't!" Ola protests. Bruce is all "everyone was ogling Ola!" as though that somehow makes the prospect less offensive. And then Len jumps in that he was ogling Ola too, and sweet Jesus, this show, sometimes. Len thinks parts were magical, parts were comical, and parts were diabolical, but the whole thing was entertaining. Alesha loves that Paul is really trying, and while she liked the magic and the lunges, she would like to see more from Paul. "More content. More dancing." Heh. Bruno says that it was like watching "Ola and the Giant Pepperpot." Alesha protests that this bit was funny. Bruno thinks the hip action was funnier. He says that nothing in the dance had any flow. Nothing in the dance "flew". This confuses Ola: "he wasn't supposed to fly!" she cries. Then Paul tells Ola off, and says that if they're still here next week, she's not to tell him to dance comedically. Poor Ola.

They can't scarper off to the Tess Circle fast enough, and Tess asks if Paul should've done more homework. Paul says that it was a comedy routine, played for comedy, and he was happy with that. I love that people basically make up answers to the question they want to hear. They might as well just replace Tess with a Speak Your Weight machine at this point. Scores: Craig 2, Len 5, Alesha 5, Bruno 4 for a total of 16. Paul says that he's "panicking" in a tone that suggests he's doing nothing of the sort. Tess: "Coming up, we've got Gavin and Scott doing the rumba and the quickstep, respectively. Or not, as the case may be. *titter*" Can anyone with a Tess-to-English dictionary make sense of that for me please? Because I'm stumped. [I think she means Gavin may not dance a rumba, and/or Scott may not dance a quickstep, because they are rubbish, not that they might switch routines. - Carrie]

Matt and Aliona are next with a quickstep. Matt says that he went into a weird dream-like state last week and really enjoyed his routine. This week, however, he thinks he might really struggle because his brain doesn't work fast enough for the quickstep. Matt says that all the people who think this is easy for him should come in and try it. He and Aliona bicker about his difficulties picking up the routine.

They're dancing to 'Dreaming Of You' by the Coral, and I wish they hadn't done Aliona's hair up to make her bear quite such a close resemblance to Phyllis Pearce from Coronation Street. The routine begins with a floorspin for Aliona, and then Matt kisses her hand and pulls her up into a hold, from which they quickstep. Matt spends quite a lot of the routine grimacing like crazy as he tries to remember his timing and his footwork, though he looks more relaxed when they break hold for a bit of showboating. He's a great dancer, I can't dispute that, but this partnership doesn't work for me at all. They have no chemistry whatsoever. I'm not even sure they like each other that much, and they can choreograph all the stage kisses into the routine that they like, but it's not likely to change my mind.

Alesha tells Matt that the ladies in the room love him, and says that it was a very fast routine and he didn't always look comfortable, and sometimes he looked like he was struggling to keep up, but he still danced it very well. Bruno thought the timing was brilliant, and there was great variation in the routine. He tells Matt to relax a bit more because he can do it. Craig says he can't agree with Alesha about the timing issue. "I didn't say there was a timing issue!" spits Alesha. "I said it was a very fast routine and he did well to keep up!" Admittedly, it's not exactly what she said, but I think it's what she meant, so I'm willing to cut her a bit of slack here - certainly I agree that while Matt kept up with the routine, the look on his face for large chunks of the dance made it clear that he was having to work very hard to do so. Craig tells Matt to point his feet when he kicks, but he thought it was absolutely brilliant. Len admires Matt because he works on his technique, but he did feel like the whole routine was too manic and needed a level of calmness about it. The audience boo at this, because they're idiots. "Now you know what it's like, darling," sniffs Craig. Heh. Len thinks Matt is too good a dance for "silly little gags" like the floorspin at the beginning, because those are for poorer dancers who need to waste time. I have to say, the floorspin really didn't bother me at all as part of the routine, and I think to describe it as a "gag" demonstrates how bizarre Len's sense of humour must be. Anyway, Len gets all SANCTITY OF DAHNCE about it, and Bruce tells Aliona off for incorporating it. They trot off to the Tess Circle, and Aliona's a good two paces ahead of Matt and doesn't even look behind her when he awkwardly offers her hand, which I must admit is adding some fuel to my "they're really not that fond of each other" suspicions.

They do arrive on the Tess Circle hand in hand, however, and Matt says they wanted to go out and have a celebration tonight because it has been a tough week. He adds that the spins were there to keep people entertained, and credits Aliona for thinking to include them. Tess asks Matt how the pressure is, and Matt says that he wants to keep pushing himself. Tess asks Aliona how far Matt can go, and she says "very far". Scores: Craig 8, Len 7, Alesha 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 31. Matt points out that he's had the same score every week. "Consistency, I like it."

Time for Gavin and Katya to show us their rumba. This should be fun. Gavin cringes as he remembers his salsa from last week. Backstage, he's all "I couldn't have done it any better" and Katya's all "YES YOU COULD", clearly a hair's breadth from kicking him in the shins. The requisite Difficult Training Montage follows as Gavin fails to pick up this week's routine at all, and Katya expresses her concerns about how she's going to get him to show emotion. Gavin says he'll have to start thinking things that will help him feel it. Then, in a piece of rehearsal footage, Katya tells him that she's thinking sexy thoughts. "Good for you," Gavin replies. They are coming dangerously close to becoming my favourite couple in the entire competition. Gavin wishes that Katya was single and interested in him, as they might have some chemistry then. Katya gets stroppy with him in rehearsals, and Gavin tells her to calm down. [Always a good way to pacify an angry woman, Gav, tell her, "All right, calm down!" - Carrie] "I'm yelling because I love you," yells Katya, channeling Tyra Banks. Gavin says that he hopes when they leave the dancefloor on Saturday he hasn't made Katya unhappy. I think he speaks for us all.

Their rumba is to 'Always On My Mind', and dance-wise it's not a total disaster, as there is the occasional hint of some decent hip action. However, Gavin is a total blank for most of it, and resembles all-new rumba dancing Action Man (press the button for realistic hip movements!). On the bright side, as far as Man Rumbas go, I've seen worse. They finish, and the camera cuts to the other celebs applauding in the Tess Circle, apart from Michelle, who is crying. She's such a strange fish, that one. Len thinks the rumba is a difficult dance for a man (drink!) because if you commit to it too much you risk looking "airy-fairy" or something. Fuck off, Len. Also: like Gavin Henson has ever worried about looking a bit airy-fairy. Len thinks that Gavin gave it a good shot and did a nice job, but it looked more like he was walking than dancing. Alesha thinks it was nicely done, and that Gavin has improved since last week. She tells him to give Katya more and not be afraid to go for it, and then adds "your bum looks great in those trousers." Presumably this is the part where Arlene decided that if she couldn't be there in person, she'd just have to swap bodies with Alesha and perve over the male celebs that way instead. Clearly it was far too draining for her to attempt it for more than three seconds, but at least she made them count. Bruno finds Gavin frustrating because he has got ability, and his opening was smooth and beautiful, but there was no emotion going through in the rest of it. "You can do it, you've got to break through it," he says, breaking into rhyme. Craig thinks his floorboards at home have more movement to them. He calls it "vacuous" and "vacant", and Bruce unwisely breaks in with "I imagine your floorboards are..." without actually thinking of a punchline, so he just trails off.

Up in the Tess Circle, Katya says she hopes the public will see Gavin's turning into a dancer. Gavin says that you don't show any emotion in rugby, but he thinks it is coming. "I'm trying," he insists. Bless. Scores: Craig 3, Len 6, Alesha 7, Bruno 6 for a total of 22. Katya's reaction to Craig's score is my favourite part of the show.

Midway leaderboard: Kara and Matt are joint first, with Felicity, Patsy, Gavin and Paul trailing in that order.

Bruce reminds us that Tina is ill and recovering at home, and we get a look at her rehearsal video. Tina was learning the rumba, but was finding it hard to stay focused because her daughter had chickenpox. This leads into a disease montage of hot flushes and itching and then we're with Tina, at home in her pyjamas, saying she knew there was a chance she could catch it as she's never had it herself. She gets a bit tearful and says that she feels like she's letting everyone down.

When we return, we're in the Tess Circle and Tess is sat on the sofas with Jared. Hilariously, the cameras come back on just as Aliona is turned around, presumably putting something on the floor, and she looks rather startled when she turns back and catches sight of the red light. Heh. Jared says that he and Tina have been texting and she's doing well, but she's devastated not to be performing, and they were both looking forward to their rumba. Tess reveals that Jared's entire family is over from Utah (minus one brother) to watch him, but hopefully they'll be back to see him next week. Tess clarifies that Tina's been given a bye until next week assuming her health improves, but if she's not better by then, she'll have to leave the competition. So presumably this is the end for Tina. I mean, it takes a while to get over chickenpox, doesn't it? And it's not just a case of being well enough to perform on Saturday - she's got to be well enough to train in the first place. Tess tries to lead everyone into a rousing "Get well Tina!" but no one is listening to her. Tee hee.

Ooh, Scott and Natalie are on next. Scott says that he really went for it last week, and that it's a rocket of emotions when you finish a dance, but then you go back to square one when you have to start training for the next one. He hopes he can live up to last week's performance.

Awesomely, their quickstep is to 'I Wanna Be Like You' from The Jungle Book. It's a very energetic routine that covers the space very well, and if Scott's struggling to keep up with the pace, he's doing a good job of hiding it. I think Natalie is a really good choreographer, actually - she's got a good eye for a routine that will show off her partner's strengths, and has avoided the mistake that both Robin and Aliona made of trying to push their partners too far too soon. It's another great showing from them, anyway.

Bruno calls it an "action-packed adventure of a quickstep" and compliments his combination of storytelling and technique, which he thinks is superb for week three. Craig says that Scott has a certain confidence that relaxes him, and he had swing and sway in his routine, which is very difficult. Len thinks Scott is very close to being a very good dancer. Alesha thinks there was lots of content in the routine and the quickstep is clearly Scott's dance.

Up in the Tess Circle, Tess thinks there's an air of excitement in the studio when Scott takes to the floor. Scott thinks this is fear. Scores: Craig 8, Len 8, Alesha 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 34. Highest score of the night, and indeed of the competition so far.

Michelle and Brendan are next. Brendan is dressed like a bourbon cream, for some reason. Michelle's VT hates her once again, and focuses on the judges not liking her foxtrot last week and Michelle not knowing what she has to do to get good scores, goshdarnit. Michelle says that she gives it her all, and it's hard out there. I hope the pre-editing end of that sentence was "for a pimp." Brendan interviews that Michelle puts too much pressure on herself, and Michelle is looking upset this week that she's doing so poorly. Brendan has to give her a little break in one rehearsal to go outside and have a cry. Michelle says that he's really looking after her.

Their rumba is to 'Wicked Game', and Michelle kind of leaps into her first position, which is rather amusing. She still hasn't got control over her limbs and there's still something quite stumbly about her dancing, but she is getting better. There's purpose to this routine, and there are points where she actually gets it very right. It's just a shame that she's still so inconsistent. This routine didn't get a terribly warm reception on Twitter, but I think it was one of the evening's better rumbas. I'd rank it over Felicity's, for a start, on the grounds that it had more actual rumba content.

Alesha says that she felt for Michelle this week, and that the storytelling was believable, and there was the right amount of sensitivity. She liked the spins, but still wants to see more strength in Michelle's legs. Bruno agrees that it was "very well-played" and her turns have improved, and she's got some good lines - but he agrees with Alesha that she still needs work on the legs. Craig says that she hit some nice lines, but she needs to move more fluidly. Len says that her lines are good and their chemistry is good, but Michelle needs to move with more authority, and he suggests Michelle's heels should be lowered as it might improve her balance. They're being oddly nice to her this week. I think they were a bit worried that if they criticised her any more at this point she might actually melt.

Tess tells Michelle that she's getting there. "Bit by bit," Michelle agrees. For the people on the internet who are, for some reason, still screaming "UNFAIR ADVANTAGE!" despite everything we've seen so far, Tess gives Michelle more space to explain how this style of dancing is far beyond anything she was ever asked to do in Destiny's Child. In fact, I think her choreography instructions back then amounted to "keep out of the light and stand three feet behind Beyoncé at all times". Speaking of which, since Kelly Rowland was so prominently featured on The X Factor last week - any chance of coming to Television Centre and giving your girl some support, Kelly? I think she needs it, and I'm not sure you'll have many more opportunities. Scores: Craig 4, Len 6, Alesha 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 24. Feh. I think they underscored her, but I can't really get too huffy about it because they probably overscored her cha cha cha in week one, so it all balances out in the end. Actually, it's not even the total score that bothers me so much as Craig giving her a four, which I think was overly harsh. Brendan says there are things they need to work on, but he's just proud of Michelle for getting through the week considering how hard it's been.

Peter and Erin are still here. Bruce thinks this is something that will please the lads, because of course women have no interest in football. I'll leave some space here for Carrie to spew abuse in his general direction. [Oh, what's the point? Bruce never listens to what I have to say. If he did, he'd have retired years ago. - Carrie] Peter thinks that being in the bottom two in the first week was one of the worst things ever to happen in his life, having apparently now been bitten by the same self-pitying hyperbole bug that got Kara after her week one stumble. Various footballing people spew footbally metaphors, and Peter is pleased that football fans are supporting him. He and Erin both think the quickstep is a good fit for him.

Their routine is to 'Lullaby Of Broadway'. Peter's lips are decidedly pursed throughout, which is rather distracting, but he's keeping up with the footwork rather well. It's slower than some of the other quicksteps this evening, which I suspect is Erin cleverly pitching the routine at the right speed for her partner, because she knows her ballroom, does Erin. I mean, it's not sluggish by any means, but he won't be setting off any speed cameras.

Alesha thinks Peter looks very comfortable, and his posture has improved - she thinks it's his best dance yet. Bruno thinks there are still some timing issues, but he had much more confidence, even if Erin was leading some of the time. He assures Peter that he's getting better, though. Craig says it's clear Erin has been drilling, but the leading was tentative, and it lacked swing and sway, though overall he thinks Peter did very well. Len says it was a proper quickstep with hold and posture, and Peter moved well across the floor. He thinks that if Peter is in the bottom two this week, he'll show his bum in Tesco. Eurgh. I had far too much Len-nudity on Dancing With The Stars this week; I don't need it here as well.

Tess asks Peter if he's ready to leave the competition yet. Peter, of course, is not: he says that Erin is a wonderful teacher and he thinks they make a good team. He just wants to do better every week. Scores: Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 7, Bruno 6 for a total of 26. Peter and Erin are both pleased with that.

Jimi and Flavia are next. I'd actually forgotten they were even in this competition, which bodes well for them. Jimi interviews that he never thought he'd enjoy it this much. His mum Pat (who calls him James, tee hee) interviews that it's so gratifying to see him having fun. Jimi is enjoying the camaraderie on the show, and is generally having lots of fun. Unfortunately, Flavia reveals, Jimi has bruised some tendons in his foot, but Jimi is valiantly soldiering on. "Nothing can stop me having a great time on Strictly," he states. Apart from elimination, I assume.

His rumba is to 'Ain't No Sunshine', and he's acting it with conviction (even if there are points where I suspect he may have been picking from the bone of Artem's aforementioned giant ham), though there's almost too much fluidity to his movements, particularly his arms, which means we don't get to see his extensions and the shaping terribly clearly. It's easily the best Man Rumba of the night, anyway, though that's rather a hollow compliment.

Len's unsure about it: parts of it he liked, but there were bizarre things happening, like the arms, and the legs. He wonders if Jimi is perhaps trying too hard. The audience boos. "Did I say I didn't like it?" asks Len. Well, sort of, yes. Alesha attempts to alleviate things - she thinks Jimi looks awkward sometimes, but he's clearly working hard on the hip action and just needs to keep the tension in his body. She likes their chemistry and their partnership as a whole, though. Bruno doesn't know what happened - he thought it looked more neurotic than erotic, and says that it wasn't fluid enough. He thinks Jimi pushed it too hard and it became "odd". Craig things Jimi's hip and shoulder movements are "odd" and he needs to realise that "less is more". Jimi says that he has been struggling to get it right, and sways a bit on the spot, which is better movement than he managed during the dance.

Up in the Tess Circle, he says the comments are fair enough, and Flavia says it's a hard dance. They vow to come back harder if they survive to next week. Scores: Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 25.

Nearly there! It's Ann and Anton, and Ann explains that last week's salsa was hilarious in a way they had not anticipated, because a significant chunk of the choreography was accidentally omitted. Ann says that even if her salsa is the worst on record, at least she made Craig laugh. She's concerned about the speed of the quickstep (at which point the editors rather cruelly play 'The Runaway Train' on the soundtrack) and admits that her inability has almost brought Anton to tears. Her rehearsal footage suggests she is need of a decent sports bra. Sorry, but it had to be said.

They're dancing to 'Puttin' On The Ritz', and begin with a bit of business that involves Anton in a top hat twirling a can and Ann "seductively" (yeah, right) discarding a feather boa. There are quite a few instances of Ann bumping into him as she dances, but she's keeping up with the steps a lot better than I expected she would. The gapping increases as the routine goes on, and there's a bit at the end where Ann's supposed to be twirling but loses track of where she is and Anton basically winds up tickling her, but it's still a laudable attempt.

Ann fails to stand on her mark once again, and has to be guided back into place by Bruce. Bruno tells Ann that she was twirling like a red menace, and says that she was driven through it by Anton, but at least it looked like a quickstep. Craig says that she turned a gorgeous red feather boa into a dishcloth. He thinks Ann's free arm has a mind of its own and she's not spotting when she's turning, and it looked like she was chasing him, but she did at least dance. Ann seems happy enough with that, though she seeks confirmation that it was better than the salsa. "I can't tell you how much better," Craig tells her. Ann promises that she has something "fantastic" lined up for next week. I so hope she's doing the charleston. Len makes a wan joke about the need to "lean to the left" in ballroom, which Ann didn't do, because it goes against every fibre of her being, after all. He thinks it's clear she's worked very hard, and her efforts have been rewarded. Alesha agrees, and says there were many more steps in there than the previous routines. "That wouldn't be difficult, would it?" Ann remarks, drily. Bruce informs Ann she is still his favourite.

Up in the Tess Circle, Ann thinks she's not a dancer yet, but thinks Anton deserves applause for all of his hard work with her. She says that she wants to be back next week because of the spectacular thing they've got planned. Tess asks if Craig might double the one he gave them last week. Ann replies "you do go on, don't you?" HA! There's a muffled protest from one or two people, and someone says "Oh no, we love Tess!" but I can't for the life of me think who it could be. It's a female voice, and English, but I can't work out who says it. It sounds more like Alesha than anyone, but I can't imagine she would even have heard that bit, or that her microphone would have been on. Hmm. Curioser and curioser. Scores: Craig 3, Len 5, Alesha 5, Bruno 5 for a total of 18. "After me going on, he trebled it!" crows Tess. Ann vows to get 19 next week. Heh.

Closing the show are Pamela and James. Their VT relives the epic brilliance of her post-floorspin stumble from last week, and Pamela recites some of Billy's advice to her, which was "keep smiling and avoid the furniture". James greets her on their first rehearsal by mock-stumbling into the room and screaming "morning!" in a very high-pitched voice. This is the gayest he has ever looked. James interviews that if he keeps joking about it, Pamela will get so frustrated that she'll never do it again. I don't think she did it on purpose the first time, James. Pamela hopes he can let it go. Don't hold your breath, Pam. She loves the rumba and wants to perform it well, but more than that, she wants to shut James up. Amen.

They're dancing to Adele's (spit, spit) version of 'Make You Feel My Love' and it's another very impressive, controlled routine from Pamela. She moves very easily and there's a lovely romantic charge to this dance. At the end there's a bit where they grab each other's wrists and tease us that they're going to do another floorspin, but instead James grabs her ankle and she flies around him instead.

Craig says that he's so glad she didn't get up from the floor last week ("I've been replaying that, darling, all week") and calls it absolutely fab-u-lous. Len cites good technique, chemistry, musicality and romance. He didn't like the spin at the end and didn't think that it added to the performance at all. "That was the exciting, showbizzy part!" Craig protests. Bruce thinks they should've had roller skates. Is he turning into Brian Friedman? Alesha thinks it was romantic and touching, and thinks that Pamela was born to dance. Bruno thinks Pamela sang with her body, and every movement was in perfect harmony with the words and meaning of the song. He calls her performance "completely satisfying at every level". Blimey.

They trot gleefully up to the Tess Circle, where Pamela says that her "beautiful toyboy" is amazing. She also recites some more advice from Billy, this time on the rumba: "There's only one way to succeed at the rumba, keep your back straight and wiggle your bum-ba." Oh dear. Scores: Craig 9, Len 8, Alesha 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 35. Pamela and James are ecstatic, and Pamela cannot speak.

And that's it! Leaderboard: Pamela and James are at the top, then Scott and Natalie, then a tie between Kara and Artem and Matt and Aliona, then Felicity and Vincent, then Peter and Erin, then Jimi and Flavia, then a tie between Patsy and Robin and Michelle and Brendan, then Gavin and Katya, then Ann and Anton, and PAul and Ola at the very bottom. Tess reminds us that the middle is a dangerous place to be. The lines open! For thirty whole minutes! There's a quick reminder of the evening's performances (you don't need me for that, do you?) and then we're done. Someone will be going home in the results show, but who will it be?

Results show

Last night! Some people did well, while others did not! Pamela and James were top of the leaderboard, while Paul and Ola were at the bottom. The votes have been counted, and someone is about to go home. Eep!

Titles! Then we are clearly not live in Television Centre, and we begin with a bus stop-themed charleston from the professionals. Not everyone's here, though - just four couples, Robin & Kristina, Jared & Aliona, Vincent & Flavia and James & Ola. Jared is getting a chance to dance! Aww, so his mum didn't fly all the way over here for nothing after all. Though I'm not entirely sure she's convinced that this whole "no really, I've got a celebrity to dance with, and her name is Tina" story is washing with her quite yet. Seeing Kristina in this line-up makes me wonder if we'll ever get to see her with a halfway decent celebrity who'll give her a chance to show what she's really capable of. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure she'll even be back next year. It's a fun routine, anyway, there's lots of flapping and leaping and everyone's hamming up royally, even though Artem's not there. Oh, and then Tess reveals that GIANT LADY was the choreographer. Hooray for Giant Lady!

Tess fills for a bit before throwing to Claudia, who's up in the Tess Circle, and...can we still call it that when Claudia's in it? Tess reminds us that Peter Andre will be here later and we attempt to get excited about that. Recap time, now with added judges' banter! Len thinks it's a wide-open competition. Alesha thinks Kara is consistent, but isn't wowing her just yet. Len thinks Felicity was better this week, but she needs to break out of her shell. Patsy thinks Craig loathes her, while Craig thinks Patsy needs to stop being so paranoid. Alesha's not surprised to see Paul at the bottom of the leaderboard. Paul thinks the judges just didn't get it. Len doesn't want to see "Aliola" spinning about. Craig thinks Len is stuck in the past. Bruno thinks Matt has incredible ability. Len believes Gavin is self-conscious. Craig thinks Gavin needs to listen to what the judges tell him. The judges all love Scott. Len thinks Michelle doesn't live up to expectations. Michelle, in a rare outside interview, is feeling mixed emotions. Peter surprised Craig, in a good way. Erin is very excited to have received some sevens. Len thinks Jimi is trying too hard. Bruno loves Ann, and Alesha wonders if the height difference is an issue. Getting a three from Craig made Ann's day. Craig suspects three is his limit. Len thinks Pamela is an irresistible force. Alesha thinks she's keeping everyone else on their toes. Len thinks there are five or six potential winners, but only time can tell who it will be.

Time to reveal (some of) the results, in no particular order and with no particular sense. The first couple to be declared safe is Ann and Anton. Pamela and James are also safe. They're joined by Peter and Erin. Thank God - we won't have to see Len's buttocks. Also safe? Patsy and Robin. Patsy does another epic "you've got to be kidding me" face. And that's it for now.

Tess speaks to the judges, and asks Craig what he expects to see from Ann next week. Craig cites a note that Gene Kelly gave Tommy Tune on the set of Hello, Dolly!: "dance better". Tess points out that if Craig continues to triple his scores, Ann will get nine next week. Craig meets this with the derision it deserves. Tess reminds us that Len will not be showing his buttocks. Can't we just forget that was ever a threat? Please? For all our sakes?

Another pro number: the tango, unleashed, choreographed by Flavia. It's to 'Sweet Dreams' by Beyoncé and involves her being pushed around the stage on bits of tissue by Artem, James, Vincent and Robin. She gets borne aloft in a cross like Jesus, and there is a remarkable shortage of tango for the first minute or so, until she finally joins with Vincent. There's a terrifying bit where she's dancing with Robin, who picks her up and throws her back over his head (she does the splits in the process) for one of the other pros to catch. My heart was somewhere at the back of my throat at that point, I will admit. [Yes, because if they dropped her and she DIED, they wouldn't have cut that out of a pre-recorded show. - Carrie] There wasn't a lot of tango in it, and it did seem more like a GCSE Drama piece about mental illness at times, but it was fun, and isn't that what matters?

Claudia's with the saved celebs now. Pamela reminds us that the celebs are nothing without their pro partners. Peter's relieved to hear his name so early this week. Technically he heard it early last week too, it's just that it wasn't good news. Ann would like to say that she's very grateful to the public for letting her go through another week.

Time for more results with Tess downstairs, and the first couple in this batch to be declared safe is Jimi and Flavia. They'll be joined next week by Matt and Aliona and Kara and Artem. The first couple officially in the bottom two tonight is Paul and Ola. Ba da da da da! And the rest of the couples (and the viewers who don't read spoilers) will have to wait.

Tess turns to Alesha, who says that all the couples are trying hard. She knows how this stage feels (drink!) and it is petrifying. Tess asks Bruno about Jimi's performance with a terrible "Mistry/mystery" pun, and Bruno thinks that Jimi - wait for it - overdid it. Just in case we haven't quite picked up on that yet. Bruno's sure it's not a lack of talent that's the problem, though.

Claudia's with Paul and Ola, and Paul agrees with the public. "In showbusiness, you spend your life saying goodbye," he intones wisely, and adds that there's no one there more qualified to go home than he is. He'd rather he went than anyone else. Kara in particular seems rather touched by this. Ola says that they've done what they can, and Paul even did homework.

Time for Peter Andre, with an exclusive first performance of his new single 'Defender'. There is a military theme to the music and the dancing and the outfits. He appears to refer to "a military army" in the lyrics, as opposed to all the other kinds of army. There's not a lot else I can say about it. I'm not a fan, but when the alternative over on The X Factor is Diana "The Claw" Vickers and Katy "The Cunt" Perry, you can force yourself to enjoy anything.

After that, we return to the remaining four couples. Scott and Natalie will be dancing again next week, as will Felicity and Vincent. So it's between Gavin and Katya and Michelle and Brendan for the final safe spot, and the second couple in jeopardy is...Michelle and Brendan. Michelle nods her head, and Brendan claps. For the other couples, I assume, rather than their presence in the bottom two.

VT time! Paul does not want to leave the show, because he's spent a lot of his working life in the same studio doing magic shows. Michelle isn't ready to go home to the States, because she's come a long way, and wants to make it worthwhile. And then the VT is cut off rather abruptly. Seriously, this show is a pre-record - why do they edit it so poorly?

Tess reminds the couples of the comments they received the night before, and the couple leaving tonight is...Paul and Ola. It's hard to say who looks more depressed out of Michelle and Paul. I'd give Michelle the edge, quite frankly. I don't think she enjoyed her brush with the bottom two.

Paul tells Tess that he's had a brilliant time on the show: "No kidding, and if I'd had a terrible time, I'd tell you." Heh. He tells Ola that she's welcome around his house any time. Ola, nervously: "Thank you."

Next week, the celebs will be tackling either a tango or a charleston. Should be a good week. Paul and Ola take their final dance, and much to Claudia's glee, she finally gets to step out with Tess, though there is no KEEEEP DANCING. I mourn its absence. The other contestants round on Paul and Ola to give them kisses and hugs, and then we're done. See you next week!

4 comments:

Tiggerboy0301 said...

Have you heard that Brendan Cole's father has died and that he will be replaced next week by Ian.

Carrie said...

Yes. Poor Brendan.

lougarry said...

'... (dear wardrobe department, pastel pinks do not go well with Aliona's flame-red hair)...'

I remain to be convinced that Aliona's skin-tone goes well with Aliona's flame-red hair.

Alex67 said...

Love the way Katya thought shouting at Gavin would shake him. She doesn't realise he's had Charlotte Church screaming at him - the guy can handle anything after that.