Tuesday, 30 November 2010

This week on It Takes Two, we have learnt...

- Jared has apparently taken to calling Anton "Dad".
- Alesha usually agrees with Craig's scores, but marks a bit higher to be encouraging.
- Some fans once made Flavia a "Flavopoly". That's right, a Flavia version of Monopoly. Some people have too much time on their hands.
- Marcus Patric is now apparently friends with Gavin following 71 Degrees North.
- Claudia finds the rumba deeply embarrassing.
- James is never going to be lifted ever again.
- Aliona's fridge is empty.
- Len thinks the first dance at a wedding should be an uptempo number, not a dirge.
- The Viennese waltz was developed before the regular waltz.
- Ann and Anton are both planning to fly if they make the finals.
- Kara designed her own charleston dress.
- The male celebrities this year are all so sweaty that they can't wear too much colour.
- Gavin and Robin have the wrong body shapes to pull off a tail-suit.
- Robin's favourite dance in Strictly history is Lisa Snowdon's foxtrot. Another reason why he shouldn't be invited back next year.
- Vincent doesn't like make-up.
- Kara wants Sandra Bullock to play her in the movie of her life.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Ken you kick it?

The Magnificent Seven
Tx: 27th/28th November 2010

Hello all! Lovely to be back with you after Steve stole the joys of BLACKPOOL from me last week. Now, obviously tonight won't be as exciting as BLACKPOOL, because nothing in the world is, but we are at least edging towards the series finale. We've hacked off most of the deadwood - though Gavin Henson, and his lovely mahogany hue, is still clinging on with his inconsistent performances - and we're left with a decent field of contenders. And Ann Widdecombe.

So we begin with Tess reminding us about how exciting BLACKPOOL was, as if we could forget, and introduces a Magnificent Seven montage, because, of course, we have seven contestants left. Just so you know, that will not be the only time that phrase or gimmick is used this weekend. [I think I would've preferred the Secret Seven. Or S Club 7. Or the movie Se7en. - Steve] Titles!

Here are Bruce and Tess. Tess's dress doesn't look too awful on first glance - it's another cerise coloured thing which bunches at the waist but at least doesn't have an asymmetrical shoulder line. She does however seem to have borrowed Mr T's necklace collection, and is positively jangling with jewellery. Bruce makes a terrible gag about Ann and Anton having an affair. And then we meet our dancers - Scott and Natalie, Patsy and Robin, Matt and Aliona (whose breasts are escaping from her corset), Kara and Artem, Pamela and James, Ann and Anton, and Gavin and Katya.

Kara and Artem are up first tonight. I love the way Artem scrunches up his nose when he smiles. Kara does a VT about meeting donkeys, which was apparently the highlight of BLACKPOOL for her. But seeing as she nearly broke Artem's neck, it's probably understandable. Anton then invades Kara's VT to castigate Artem - "Bad neck from lifting this little thing here? Tell you what, let's swap for a week." I hate to laugh at an Anton joke, but that was quite funny. So this week, Artem has mostly been contracting tonsillitis (is he cursed or something?), but rehearsing anyway. "He's like a Russian MACHINE," says Kara. I don't think we need to know about your behind-closed-doors steamy relationship, Tointon, thank you. [Speak for yourself. - Steve]

They're jiving to Runaround Sue, and Artem's tattoos look quite weird in this 1950s-style context (and his braces keep falling down). Kara's kicks and flicks aren't quite there in the side-by-side section, so the synchronicity falls apart, meaning that the ending, which is her upside down with legs split, doesn't happen at the right place, but it's performed nicely. It kind of seems as if Artem has choreographed a routine but not had the chance to tell Kara what she should be doing. Which, if they only started rehearsing on Wednesday, may well be the case.

We go over to the judges. Len says it was a top-drawer jive, with one or two steps that weren't attacked properly. Alesha, who seems to be wearing her Viennese waltz dress from back in the day, says it was full of personality. Bruno says there was sex appeal but it lost some of its sharpness. Craig says it had attention to detail but the side-by-side section wasn't great, which is true, and what I said, but the audience boo anyway, because they are idiots. He then criticises the ending, and Bruce interjects, "The ending was a bit strange," like he is supposed to give his opinion or as if any of us care. Kara admits that she didn't really know what she was doing this week. And it showed. Scores - Craig 7, Len 9, Alesha 9 and Bruno 9 for a ridiculously high total of 34.

Ann and Anton next. Ann VTs about how much people liked their routine in BLACKPOOL because they were so very hilarious - "we lit the place up with hilarity," she claims. Gosh, she really has got ideas above her station, hasn't she? STOP ENCOURAGING HER, VOTERS. In rehearsal, she shushes Anton. "Strictly hasn't changed me," she concludes. More's the pity, some might say, you despicable human being.

And there follows one of the most painful visions of my life - Ann and Anton dancing a Titanic-themed rumba to My Heart Will Go On, with a bloody fibreglass iceberg in the middle of the floor. Anton hams up his dancing; Ann plods around and doesn't do anything. It's hideous and painful.

Seriously. I'm always saying that if someone is voted through, they deserve to be in the competition, but I've reached my limit now. This makes my soul hurt. Ann and Anton must go.

Alesha diplomatically says there was not much content. You can say that again, Dixon; there was no bloody content. She also comments on the "genuine love" between the two. Bruno says they sank the rumba into the darkest and deepest depths of dance disaster. Craig looks like he wants to die, which I think we can all empathise with, and then finally manages to say that the iceberg showed more emotion than Ann did. She tries to do the talking-back thing yet again, which is so annoying, and a decent host would stamp on it. Unfortunately we don't have a decent host on any Saturday-night television. Claudia wouldn't let people get away with this shit. Len says he is shaken but not stirred: "it was the daftest dance I have ever seen." Ann calls Anton a "comic genius". Not a choreographic genius, you'll note. Scores - Craig 1, Len 5, Alesha 5 (for a routine with "not much content"), Bruno 3 for a total of 14.

Patsy and Robin next. They were in the bottom two last week after the drama of BLACKPOOL. This week Patsy has mostly been going to the physio due to swelling in her toe joint, and rehearsing their routine, but primarily the bits with a chair in it. Robin is concerned that she might have a sit-down more than she dances with him. Their days are numbered, really, aren't they?

They're dancing the Argentine tango to that song by Jem, which I think Anton and Kate tangoed to a few years ago. It's not hugely complex and Patsy's foot movements are gentle rather than sharp, but it's nicely acted, and her leg placements are good.

Bruno suddenly grabs Alesha mid-comments to demonstrate how you should dance the Argentine tango with passion. Her face is a sight to behold. Craig says it had intent and purpose, though it did lack attack. Len liked it, and thought the mood was captured well, suggesting that in future she stops being so "careful", because she won't win Strictly being careful. She won't win Strictly anyway, Len, and we all know it. Alesha thinks Patsy held the intensity the entire way through and had a great composure. Scores - Craig 7, Len 8, Alesha 8 and Bruno 7 for a total of 30.

Scott bemoans his life, because he is working two jobs and it is so very, very hard. You'll get no sympathy from me, Maslen; I'm working five and staying up overnight to watch the cricket. MAN UP. He falls asleep during rehearsal; and even manages to doze off standing up at one point, which we then get to see in slow motion. It is not gripping viewing. "He's giving me his all," says Natalie. "Except his all is VERY LITTLE." Don't CROSS her, Scott, she'll DESTROY YOU. [I heart Natalie. - Steve]

They're dancing the American Smooth to Fly Me To The Moon. Scott's in tails and looks like he's going to fall over during their first cross of the floor. He doesn't, though. Natalie has a brilliant American Smooth face. Then there's a bit near the judge's table where Scott gets in the way and Natalie nearly trips over him. They end with an incredible spinning lift with Natalie horizontal around Scott's neck. Craig comments on the terrible footwork at the start, and ends: "A complete disaster, really." "It was, mate," says Scott, who is at least pragmatic. Len decides to be a cheerleader for Scott, despite him not being a SPORTSMAN, who he says is a class act who's not done himself justice tonight. "Try and stay awake, and come back stronger," is his advice. To be fair, that is quite good advice. For Len, at least. Alesha tells Scott that some people - eg Matt Di Angelo, is the subtext - would just give up when they make mistakes, and he just carried on. Bruno says that Sssssscott is still sssssmoother than everybody else. Scott says he blanked. Heh, Alesha did that in her championship year. I am so fond of the memory of Alesha and Claudia cackling about it on It Takes Two: "Went wrong there. Still wrong now. Still wrong." [Best ever. - Steve] Scores - Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 9 and Bruno 9 for a total of 31, which is just ridiculous.

After a pointless filler waste-of-time Magnificent Seven montage better suited to the results show (and let us be sure we will get more filler montages then), with all the contestants in Wild West costume, back to business. And let's just note Erin Boag's brilliant tweet: "What's going on with the judging tonight! Are the two on the end blind!" Erin is staging a bid to challenge Karen Hardy's future Head Judge supremacy. [I can't wait for her to vent her rage on The Machine on It Takes Two on Wednesday. - Steve]

Gavin and Katya next. He is cross with himself for messing up last week, but now wants to head towards the top half of the leaderboard. Katya tries to teach him the jive - "I saw Scott do it, and he got 10s, so thought it must be easy, but it's not." She then tries to get him to express some emotions, and he tells her: "I hate the jive. Not as much as I hate myself right now."

They're dancing to Hey Ya! which seems odd to me, but loads of the music choices in this show do, so I guess I should be used to it. There's an odd bit at the start where Katya is just sitting there and Gavin kicks his legs up in front of her, and it is just like that episode of Friends when Jennifer Coolidge is the girls' friend Amanda and demonstrates her dance prowess to Chandler: "Can you believe it? I've had no formal dance training!" Apart from that, Gavin seems to have the speed of the footwork, as you'd expect from someone as swift as him, but is still a bit tentative. They get some comedy in there too, with him pretending to prepare for a cartwheel, and then running away, and a shimmy in front of the judges' table. Weird stuff all in all. [It really was - especially since the side-by-side kicks and flicks were genuinely brilliant and the rest of it...wasn't. - Steve]

Len reminisces about wearing an angora hat in his childhood, for he has mistaken "going to work" for "going to therapy", and says that Gavin hated it so he hated it too. Alesha says there were timing issues throughout, but he is "admire-able". Bruno demands that Gavin give it to him, and turn into Superman from Clark Kent. Katya tells Bruno that they CAN do it, "give us a chance!" Well, Katya, you have a chance EVERY WEEK, and pretty much most weeks you balls it up. Craig tells Gavin that the bottom-wiggling was unnecessary. Katya says that Craig was taking notes when Gavin was dancing and was missing some of the things he was doing; "thank goodness," is the retort. Gavin reveals that Katya was ill during the week so he danced with her boyfriend instead. This comment does not get the attention it deserves. [WHY WAS THIS NOT ON THE TRAINING FOOTAGE? This bloody show sometimes. - Steve] Scores - Craig 3, Len 6, Alesha 7 and Bruno 6 for a total of 22.

Matt and Aliona next, he in a in scarlet outfit that are almost as garish as her hair. Matt talks tediously about getting TENS (finally). "Our secret is we understand each other very well without talking to each other," says Aliona. And indeed, they don't seem to talk that much when they're rehearsing. Except, as we see, when Aliona swears in his FACE, which he finds horrendously offensive, nice vicar's son that he is.

They're dancing the American smooth to that blinkin' Empire State of Mind song which has been murdered over and over again on The X Factor. It's a pretty routine, well danced, but I have to say Matt's facial expressions are HILARIOUS. It's as if he's channeling Richard Chamberlain in The Slipper And The Rose. And his tippy-tappy circles round Aliona are just ridiculous. [I didn't even realise it was an American smooth until afterwards. I would've sworn it was a paso doble. - Steve] Alesha says she was disappointed tonight because she didn't feel as relaxed as usual because he carries so much tension in his face. Bruno says that Matt puts so much into what he does, but goes from beautiful lyricism to American Psycho. Aliona talks them through the narrative of the routine. Aliona, love, if you have to explain it, it didn't work. Craig says the opening sequence was fantastic, as were the lifts, but did think Matt tried too hard with the expressions. Len just repeats what I said about it not being a very successful routine if you have to provide a synopsis afterwards. Bruce tells Matt and Aliona not to listen to the judges. Great idea! (Actually, you'd probably be best to ignore three of them.) Scores - Craig 8, Len 8, Alesha 8, Bruno 9 for a total of 33.

Pamela and James next. They are wearing mortarboard hats. This is going to be messy, isn't it? There'll be hanky-panky, I am sure. They talk about their Charleston being fun, and yes, when you think of "Pamela and James" you definitely think "fun". They panic about getting their mics entangled, which happens in rehearsal with Pamela stuck under James's crotch, and James is worried about doing a cartwheel and letting Pamela support his weight. Well, don't choreograph it then if you're that scared. Silly.

They ham up a school-themed Charleston to Let's Misbehave with a glittery classroom, and Scott and Natalie's front door from a couple of weeks ago reinvented as the door to a staff room. The epic cartwheel goes well. I've yet to ascertain why James is wearing Argyle socks pulled up to his knee with old-fashioned golf trousers. Some of the arm movements are a bit out of sync, and I'm fairly sure Pamela headbutts James in the groin at one point, but they finish with Pamela balanced upside-down on James's back, which is brilliant, and this is a sight better than anything else we've seen tonight. Bruno says it was a funny mini-play set to music, and they will get a Bafta from him. Bruce reminds us that Pamela is married to BILLY CONNOLLY. For a minute there I thought we were going to get through a whole episode without being told that. Craig says that they danced it without fear. Len says it tickled his fancy, and Alesha finishes up with, "Best dance of the night!" True, that. Although everybody else has been pretty mediocre, to be fair. Scores - Craig 9, Len 9, Alesha 10 and Bruno 10 for a total of 38.

So Pamela and James are last up and they top the leaderboard, with Ann and Anton fucking awful and rooted at the bottom, but they won't be going. So who will?

Results show

So "last night," our seven remaining couples danced and they were all pretty disappointing, except for Ann and Anton who were suicide-inducingly bad and made Billy Zane's performance in the movie Titanic look competent, and Pamela and James who were quite good despite her headbutting his testicles. Tonight, we will see whether Patsy has managed to avoid being voted out this week as Ann coasts through yet again. Let's get going, shall we?

Voiceover Tess isn't too far off the mark when she refers to last night as "ballroom bedlam". And we begin with some more bedlam tonight, with the pro dancers doing something that almost looks like a jive but isn't quite, and features the ladies standing on chairs as if they're hiding from mice in a cartoon for most of the opening section. Aliona seems to wander off and do a dance of her own near the end, but eventually gets dragged back into the group and back on track. Jared hasn't shaved - who knew he ever needed to? - and looks funny.

When we finally see Tess, she is wearing a grey off-the-shoulder Lycra thing, as if it's 1984 and she's in Desperately Seeking Susan. She wishes Bruno a happy birthday for Thursday and completely nonplusses him and us. Time for some backstage action as the judges seem to be standing around in a darkened warehouse: Len, who gave Kara a 6 last week, asks Craig how he could give Kara a 7, and meanwhile Kara admits that she didn't think they'd get marked that high, so SHUT UP, LEN; Ann says "darling" in her VT and gets mocked for being showbiz by Anton; having molested Alesha in his attempts to show Patsy how to dance the Argentine tango, Bruno decides to then dance with Craig, which is a little more successful; Scott cries about "going blank"; Alesha, Craig and Bruno all imitate Gavin, and not in a flattering way; Alesha, Craig and Bruno all mock Matt's facial expressions but clarify that they do not want him to leave; "thank GOD for Pamela!" exclaims Bruno, and Alesha deems her the one to beat. Oooh, exciting!

First lot of results. Safe are: Matt and Aliona; Pamela and James; and Ann and Anton MY EYES THEY BURN. In the bottom two are Patsy and Robin. Well, who could have guessed?

Time for another pro routine. Pamela wails to Claudia that her partner James is about to dance "with another woman". Yes, it's his wife, the lovely Ola, who is looking exceptionally gorgeous in one of her trademark catsuits. They rumba. I'm glad I'm already lying down, otherwise this would make me a bit faint. I love the Jordans and their palpable passion.

So as if Strictly wasn't enough like Dancing with the Stars these days, next week is MOVIE WEEK. (NB - Steve has to recap MOVIE WEEK, hahaha!) [SIGH. - Steve] And this necessitates a montage of the contestants pretending to be in films, including Kara making a fairly decent attempt at being Jennifer Beals. And Scott and Pamela as John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. And a hideous section where Ann is Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. And Scott and Gavin stripping a la The Full Monty. Gavin is rather more adept at the clothes-removal than his colleague, who doesn't seem to be able to get his shirt off. Bless.

And then some more results. Who's safe? Kara and Artem. So who's with Patsy and Robin in the bottom two? It's...Gavin and Katya. That means Scott and Natalie are safe. One hopes he can get some sleep before next week. And not in the training room. Would be sad to see him fall by the wayside now.

Claudia talks to Gavin. He mumbles things back. "I don't understand what you just said," says Claudia. He says more things. "Literally no idea," she says. And if that wasn't painful enough James Blunt then takes to the studio and performs his new single. [Oh, like you're suffering. I have to recap JUSTIN BIEBER and THE WANTED on X Factor this week. You got off lightly. - Steve]

After that, it's finally time for the Moment of Truth., and the couple leaving tonight is - Patsy and Robin. WELL WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED THAT?

So farewell then, Patsy Kensit. You made it much further and improved much more than I ever expected at the start. Farewell too to Robin, who's done well in his debut year aided by a variety of oddly-shaped vests. Join Steve next week to continue to marvel at Widdecombe's survival!

Monday, 22 November 2010

This week on It Takes Two, we have learnt...

- Some paparazzi cannot tell Anton and Brendan apart.
- The judges' green room in BLACKPOOL was a bus.
- Felicity is under the misapprehension that BLACKPOOL was the semi-final, and no one wishes to correct her.
- Matt is away from home so often that he has a laminated list of things he needs to have with him. *cough*nerd*cough*
- Craig has never awarded a 10 for the samba.
- Pamela Stephenson is friends with Kathy Lette. Now there's one coffee morning you'd give a wide berth to.
- Claudia loves her shoulders.
- Ola fancies Scott.
- The rules for the American smooth are basically made up on the spot.
- Kara and Artem didn't start training until Wednesday because of his injury.
- Erin is much better with The Machine than Ian is.
- Matt's house is massive.
- Gavin's party trick is leapfrogging over a chest of drawers.
- James' favourite Strictly dance of all time is Chris and Ola's charleston. No, seriously.
- The hold in ballroom is very different to the holds used in musical theatre.
- Craig and The Barrowman on our screen at the same time is a tad too much jazz-hands for one room.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Northern exposure

Top 8 (in BLACKPOOL): 20th November 2010

First of all, let me commence with an apology. I know I promised you all that Carrie would be here to lead you through BLACKPOOL, but you've got me instead. This is because I realised that I was scheduled to recap this show, The X Factor, and The Apprentice next week (which also coincides with my busiest working week of the year), so Carrie very kindly agreed to switch weeks with me so that I could have one show off next week and hopefully avoid a nervous breakdown. [Steve is fibbing, folks - he just desperately wanted to recap BLACKPOOL, being as it is the HIGHLIGHT OF THE YEAR. - Carrie] [Curses, foiled again, etc. - Steve]

Ooh, isn't the new Strictly BBC One ident lovely? I can't help feeling they'll need to re-edit it soon. You know, next year when they're trying to make us forget that Jared Murillo was ever on this show. (Unless perhaps next year's his turn to get the Aliona Vilani "I can totally do good choreography, honest" redemption edit.)

Anyway, I don't know if you've realised, but tonight we are going to be in BLACKPOOL. I know, I would've appreciated some sort of build-up to this seemingly momentous occasion too, but apparently they wanted to surprise us with it. We get a quick VT of various BLACKPOOL-themed items including puddles, BLACKPOOL tower, a ferris wheel, some donkeys, and then two more donkeys actually dancing -- oh, sorry, that's Widdy and Anton. Last week there were tens for Kara and Scott, and (sexual) tens(ion) for Gavin and Bruno. Also, poor Michelle was finally put out of her misery, except the show really likes to ram her general lack of connection with the public home by showing us all of her bottom two appearances and a goofy-sounding clip of her saying "I don't have to worry about being in the bottom two again." Stay classy, editors!

This week, Tess assures us, "it's viva Las Vegas!" I think they're getting a bit carried away with this whole "Vegas of the North of England" thing. I mean, I don't see Celine Dion anywhere, do you? Everyone's hoping to "illuminate" the dancefloor (woah! woah! Illuminate the dancefloor! I'm infected by the sound!) with a "towering" performance. I for one am lamenting the absence of The Prenj from all these lists of iconic things to do with BLACKPOOL. Anyway, we're here (or there) and we're LIVE! Titles!

So, we're opening with a pro number to 'Viva Las Vegas'. Oh, give me strength. To begin with, Natalie, Erin, Katya, Kristina, Flavia, Aliona and Ola are titting around with giant feathers, and as the camera pans through the middle of the dancers, I get a much more vivid close-up of Erin's armpit than I ever needed to see. Subsequently, the ladies are joined by their respective male partners (that's Brendan, Anton, Artem, Robin, Vincent, Jared and James, for those of you who need it pointing out), who are all wearing white rhinestone Elvis-style jumpsuits, for a spot of samba. The choreographers, for reasons best known to themselves, have included a section where Anton and Erin are the closest to the camera. That's right, Anton and Erin. In a Latin routine. The whole routine is kind of mad and chaotic, and not in a good way. Chris: "Is it just me, or does no one here actually have a clue what they're doing?" Me: "It's not just you, and in fact that includes the hair and make-up people." Seriously - all of the women look dreadful, but Flavia seems to have fared the worst out of everyone, with about half a pen's worth of mascara smooshed all around the top half of her face and her hair backcombed so aggressively that she looks like - well, Karen Hardy. No offence, Karen.

After some more swirling and unfortunate close-ups of the dancers' faces that suggest they haven't really had enough time to rehearse this properly, the number is finally over. Subsequently, we have a Bruce, and we have a Tess. Daly Dresswatch: oh good grief. A red jumpsuit, if you please, with unflattering flared trousers. Dear Strictly Come Dancing: BLACKPOOL is not Las Vegas. There really is no need to make Tess suffer just to try to reinforce your point. Kisses, Steve. It's nice to see us, to see us nice. Tess informs us that Chris Marques and Jacqui Spencer choreographed (/can be blamed for) that opening mess, and then it's time to meet the stars of our show. Scott and Natalie, Patsy and Robin, Matt and Aliona (with Aliona's costume not being quite so revealing as the sketches on It Takes Two made it look, thankfully), Kara and Artem, Pamela and James, Felicity and Vincent, Ann and Anton (DEAR GOD, SO MUCH YELLOW) and Gavin and Katya.

Bruce fumbles his way through the opening joke, and Tess explains the rules. This much we've come to expect by now. The first couple to dance are Patsy and Robin, who'll be giving us their samba. Last week, Tess thought Patsy might have been turning into a contender following her Viennese waltz, but Patsy, naturally, is somewhat sceptical. "We all know that I'm average," she insists. She struggles in training, and wonders how she's going to be a showgirl without having been to Vegas. Seriously, I'm going to have to start doing allcaps for VEGAS as well as BLACKPOOL if they carry on like this. Conveniently, Robin happens to know a couple of samba showgirls (why am I not surprised? Actually, I am a bit surprised, because I expected them to be drag queens, but they appear to be actual women) and brings them in to help get Patsy into the mood. Patsy reminds us that she won't be getting her bum on display, because people will be eating their dinner.

They're dancing to 'Copacabana', and straight away it's apparent that there's little hip action or bounce on display here. In fact, Patsy's just sort of shuffling along like the pre-chorus bit of the routine to 'Tragedy' by Steps. (Yes, I know the entire routine, not just the bit that everyone knows. I came out as a homosexual in the early 21st century, that was what we did back then.) [Seriously. You should've seen me and Steve dancing that by ourselves at my birthday party this year. And I don't even have the excuse of being A Gay. - Carrie] It's not a complete mess - rhythmically Patsy's pretty on form, and she's doing her best to fill the room with her performance, but it's just not really a samba. Then it goes a bit more wrong as Patsy ends up on the wrong leg during the shadow rolls, and her free arm is just sort of dangling horribly.

Bruce introduces the judges, who've been enjoying some Blackpool seafood: Craig had prawns, Len had winkles, Alesha had jellied eels, "and Bruno went looking for mussels. He wasn't hungry, that's his pet name for Gavin." Oh, all right: heh. Len opens for us, and says that BLACKPOOL provides a wonderful atmosphere and everyone comes out full of energy. He thinks Patsy gave nice basic steps, but she did end up on the wrong foot - he thinks this was the excitement of the dance distracting her. Alesha thinks Patsy looks stunning, like a real showgirl. She too points out the blunder, but explains it with "sometimes you're on, sometimes you're off", like, thanks Alesha, but she thinks Patsy's the party girl (indeed) and was the right person to get the party started. You know, except Pink. Or maybe Shirley Bassey. Bruno thinks Patsy is glitzy and sexy "like a true Vegas strumpet", and that she captured the fun of the dance, but she missed some steps and had some timing issues, and Craig thinks "besides the obvious wrong footwork" Patsy lacked hips and her free arm lacked life, but he did see moments of the showgirl from her. "What a shame," says Patsy. "I'm sorry, but I HAD A GREAT TIME!" I think she's drunk. [I thought that too. She was very odd. - Carrie]

They run back to what passes for the Tess Circle in Blackpool, and Patsy shrugs that "we had a go!" adding "I was dying to come up and dance in the North, I love it up here!" Sheesh, Patsy, dial it down. Develop some kind of filter. This isn't Twitter, it's okay to have some thoughts that remain unexpressed. Tess asks Patsy what tonight means to her, and Patsy says it was just fun to be someone else again, and she can't believe she's here. In BLACKPOOL. Scores are in: Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 8, Bruno 7 for a total of 28. Also, the voting numbers tonight are accompanied by a weird illuminations-esque rendering of Bruce that kind of looks like he's shaking his fist at us. Hold me, Mother, I'm scared.

Back to Bruce, who in a rare display of excellent (and I do believe intentional) comic timing is saying "behave, Bruno, he'll be on soon." Hee. Kara and Artem are on next, with their American smooth. Kara is pleased that they just got the one word from Craig last week and it happened to be "uh-may-zing". She was also pleased to get two tens, so now her aim is to get three. "Trois ten," she confirms in Franglish. Then it's time for INJURY PORN, as a run-through of their routine involved a lift that went wrong, and somehow Artem's head ended up supporting all of Kara's body weight. Owee. Artem attempts to dismiss it as a "little injury", but the look on his face makes it clear that it's more than that. Kara visits him at the physio and cries with guilt. [Cannot believe you didn't mention the veritable plethora of Artem topless shots! - Carrie] Artem doesn't want Kara to feel like it's her fault. Artem vows to dance however much pain he's in. Ooh, it's like the third act of a movie! *munches popcorn*

They're dancing to 'Cry Me A River' (the Julie London song, not the Justin Timberlake one), and their performance is very moody. The lift that caused all the trouble in rehearsals is at the very beginning of the routine, which is a blessing, and seems to go without a hitch. It really is a fabulous routine, danced exquisitely and in perfect harmony, though they're out of hold for a lot of it, and someone's bound to pick up on that, assuming this is one of those weeks where the judges actually care about such things.

Bruce quietens the crowd to tell everyone about Artem's injury, which seems a bit odd at first, but I suppose there's no facilities in BLACKPOOL to show the audience the pre-dance VT packages. Either that, or Bruce is going senile. Bruce confirms that Artem is feeling okay, and Kara admits that she was worried she had to go and hurt him again. Belatedly, Bruce thanks the band (that is becoming more of a second performance thing these days, isn't it?), and Alesha calls the dance seductive, smooth and intense, and says it had a lovely mystical feel, adding that she feels like she's watching a professional when she watches Kara. Bruno says that it was a truly inspired and inspiring American smooth, blending in elements of the paso doble which he's never seen before in this type of dance, and he thinks Kara moved fluidly like an ice skater. [ON ICE. - Carrie] Craig agrees, calling it dramatic and impassioned; he thinks Kara's arm placement is exquisite and the lifts were fabulous. Len's pulling a face, and says that he doesn't want to be "the parpy pooper". Oh, no one does, Len - we'd all much rather we could defecate quietly, but sometimes that's just not in nature's plans. Len's confused, because he's assuming this was a foxtrot; "you didn't take up hold once" (which I don't think is strictly true). He doesn't know how he's supposed to judge that. Quite why Len has suddenly decided to care about what his responsibilities as a judge are this week when he's been ignoring them left right and centre both on this show and Dancing With The Stars lately (really, Len? Nines for Bristol Palin? REALLY?) is anyone's guess. The other judges try to protest, and the crowd boos Len, causing him to rise from his chair in rage. He loved the routine, but it wasn't a foxtrot. To some extent I can see his point (although I still think he's a massive hypocrite for suddenly playing Captain Rulebook), because there wasn't a lot of foxtrot in it...but then, in my book, that's probably worth two bonus points. Anything that reduces the amount of foxtrot I have to sit through is fine by me.

Kara and Artem trot guilty off to the Ersatz Tess Circle, where Kara says she's gutted that Len didn't like it, but adds that it was hard for Artem to choreograph to that music. Tess asks about the lifts, which she thinks were like "stunts", and wonders what gives. Kara jokes that it's perhaps Artem's own fault that he's injured, and this should be a lesson to him. Oh, Kara. Women should never joke on this show, it makes them HEARTLESS MONSTERS. Tess asks them how their "romantic weekend" was, and Kara's all "oh, we loved it" and then does a full-on mouth-covering "oops!", which led a lot of people to speculate that we now have official confirmation of Kartem. I remain unconvinced, as it could just as easily have been an "oops, I've just realised how that sounded" as an "oops, I just let the cat out of the bag", but I'm open to alternative interpretations. Scores: Craig 9, Len 6 (general booing, James bows his head in sheer disbelief behind Kara), Alesha 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 35.

Matt and Aliona are next. Matt is aghast that he made Craig feel uncomfortable with his rumba, and is also slightly annoyed that people keep asking him when he's going to get a 10. I bet you any amount of money you like, Matt, that you're not nearly as sick of hearing about that as I am. "Because other people are getting 10s," Matt opines, "there's no reason why we shouldn't." Maybe because you haven't been good enough to merit one yet, Captain Cockypants. Aliona is worried about Matt's bum wiggling in his samba. Matt is less worried. They run through their choreography vocally on the bus, while Kara and Artem (sitting opposite) make "loser" gestures at them. "It's all right for them," Matt 'jokes'. "They've already got a ten." SWEET MERCIFUL ZEUS, I WILL COME DOWN THERE AND GIVE YOU A TEN MYSELF IF IT WILL GET YOU TO SHUT THE HELL UP ABOUT IT ALREADY. [UP there, surely? To BLACKPOOL? The VEGAS of the NORTH? - Carrie] Matt talks a bit more about how a BLACKPOOL ten is worth more than a smelly old London ten like what stupid Kara and her stupid face keeps getting. Or something. I may have paraphrased, but it was about that general level of maturity.

Their samba is to 'Young Hearts Run Free', and there's good hip action on display, even if it does look a bit like your Ken doll might look dancing a samba, and Matt does keep doing his chin-biting concentratey face a bit too often. Aside from that, it's a good samba, although I could've done without Matt doing backflips at the end. Aliona disagrees with me, clearly.

Bruno says that he's never seen a competitor move his bum with such precision, and finishes by declaring it "the best Brazilian up-to-date". Hmm, perhaps Aliona's costume is more revealing than I thought. Craig thought the hip and bounce action were very good, loved the acrobatic moment, and thinks Matt's thumbs are finally showing signs of improvement. Len liked the whole thing apart from "the flip flops" which had nothing to do with the samba. OR THE FOXTROT, WHY WAS THERE NOT MORE FOXTROT, THAT'S WHAT LEN WANTS TO KNOW. Aliona's all "we knew you'd say that", and Len's all "well, why did you do it then?" As much as it pains me to say this: point to Len. Bruce goes to place a consoling arm on Aliona's shoulder and ends up a bit too close to grabbing her tits for comfort, it seems.

Ersatz Tess Circle. Tess thinks it's the most acrobatic samba in the show's history. Steady on, Tess, we haven't seen Widdy's effort yet. Matt says he just wanted to have fun. AND GET A TEN, DON'T FORGET THAT BIT. Scores are in: Craig 9, Len 9, Alesha 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 38. Thank you very much, Alesha and Bruno, maybe he'll SHUT THE FUCK UP NOW.

Tess throws back to Bruce, Bruce is not ready. The technical standards of this show tonight are somewhat lacklustre. The next couple is Felicity and Vincent, who were in the bottom two last week. "Where are my women?" Vincent appeals. "They should be out there voting for me, where are they?" Vincent, sweetie, let me warn you: there's a thin line between sounding like a studly ladies' man and sounding like a sex trafficker, and I'm afraid you may have just crossed it. In rehearsals, Felicity thinks she must be very frustrating to work with - they started well on Monday, on Tuesday it got wishy-washy, Wednesday it went further down hill, Thursday it was in a ditch, and "then Friday and Saturday, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed," notes Vincent. Heh. They have fish and chips and gravy, as is de rigeur in BLACKPOOL, to round off their routine.

They're dancing to 'Me And My Shadow', and it begins with Felicity posing on a red carpet, while Vincent plays a paparazzo. I have to say I preferred this concept on Dancing With The Stars when it involved Tony Dovolani totally mocking Kate Gosselin without her even realising:

Back to Felicity's dance - it's a bit like a walking tour, to be honest. There are some nice lift concepts, but they're not all terribly well executed, and the landings can be a little shaky. The dancing - when it actually happens - is smoother and more natural-looking than I've come to expect from Felicity, though, so points for that at least.

Craig thinks it needed more rise and fall throughout and more efficient spotting. He liked the transitions in and out of the lifts, but the final position needed work. Len liked the lifts too and the whole thing felt neat, but it lacked movement. Alesha thinks it lacked rise and fall, but she's also on the lift-loving train and thinks it was classy and elegant, going as far as to call it Felicity's best dance. Bruce declares Felicity his second favourite. Bye, Felicity!

Ersatz Tess Circle. Felicity's thrilled about the "best dance to date" comment from Alesha, and says that this is the best evening she's had on the show. Tess cuts her off before she can say any more, as the scores are in: Craig 7, Len 7, Alesha 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 30, Felicity's highest score so far. Behind Tess, Robin grins at Aliona and she quietly puts her hand over his. That doesn't really mean anything, I'm just putting it in here because I saw it and thought it was sweet.

Midway leaderboard: Matt and Aliona top, Kara and Artem second, Felicity and Vincent third, Patsy and Robin at the bottom.

Again there's confusion as to precisely when Tess throws back to Bruce, but eventually we're there, with the next couple Gavin and Katya. Bruce warns Bruno not to put a "Kiss Me Kwik" hat on when Gavin comes out, even though they are in BLACKPOOL where SUCH THINGS ARE OFTEN SOLD. Gavin mentions that he watches the VT each week before his performance, and seeing his kids last week rather threw him off his timing at the top of the routine. Gavin says that it's hard going from being a full-time dad to only seeing his kids a few times a week. He vows to be stronger in future. They practice their lifts for their American smooth, one of which is the one-armed lift, which Katya notes that even a lot of professionals can't do. Gavin points out in a solo interview that Katya is about 50kg, prompting Katya to scream "don't say my weight on national television!" from off-camera, which the editors handily subtitle in, just in case we can't hear the words amid her white-hot rage. Hee hee hee. Gavin vows that since Katya "hardly weighs a thing", he's never going to drop her, though Katya's squeals of unease in rehearsal suggest that she does not share his confidence. Gavin also notes that the floor in BLACKPOOL'S TOWER BOARDROOM "is quite springy, so if I do happen to drop her, she'll be all right." And I know that was a joke, but seriously, Gavin: learn to read a room, dude.

They're dancing to 'She's A Lady', which involves Gavin lip-synching poorly (though not as poorly as the contestants on the group sings in The X Factor) into an old-fashioned mic at the beginning. As far as the classic foxtrot steps go, there are some nice moments and Gavin really is starting to make some good shapes. They attempt the one-armed lift, and Katya's stability is not wonderful as her flailing arm will attest, though all credit to her for smiling throughout. After that, it all seems to get a bit messier - it's quite slow, and Katya seems to be fairly clearly leading the whole thing from behind, and at the end Gavin is basically just walking. I have to say, for all the hype about BLACKPOOL, most of the routines tonight have been really disappointing.

Bruno openly flirts with Gavin: "You're so big and you're so strong and so powerful. WHY DO YOU GET NERVOUS?!" Just a wild guess here, Bruno, but maybe it's something to do with people lulling him into a false sense of security and then screeching at him? He tells Gavin that some of the in-hold sequences were very good, but Gavin's losing his confidence and his drive, which cause him to make mistakes. Craig calls it "lame and lacklustre". Len thinks Craig is "totally incorrect" because "there was parts of that that were excellent dancing" (SUMMON THE GRAMMAR POLICE), even if Gavin's nerves spoilt a few parts of it. Alesha says Gavin shouldn't let this knock his confidence, because he's heading in the right direction, and his posture and hold are improving.

Ersatz Tess Circle. Gavin says that it's amazing to be dancing in BLACKPOOL, and it's something to go on his CV. Hee! He admits that there were "a few mistakes again - sorry Katya." Katya hugs him, saying "it's okay!" She's very forgiving for someone who nearly plummeted to her death a few minutes ago. Scores: Craig 4, Len 7, Alesha 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 27. More intriguing in-the-background action: Kara is whispering something into Matt's ear, until she realises she's on camera and suddenly stands to attention. Heh.

Scott and Natalie are next. Bruce chooses to break into an impromptu tap number to prove how anything can happen on live television. I still think this is a better example:

Scott says it was important to come back strong last week, and also to be as gracious in defeat as you are in victory. So he and Natalie celebrate in a "neener neener" style. Scott's finding the gyrating in the samba to be rather alien to him, but he vows to make the best of things since they are in BLACKPOOL.

They're dancing to '(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher', and...oh dear. There's some encouraging butt shaking at the beginning, but the second he starts actually trying to dance, his hips are completely rigid, which has the knock-on effect of making his dancing seem very flat. I've seen more bounce in Widdecombe's chest most weeks, quite frankly. The routine's not actually all that bad, especially considering Latin's not really Natalie's strong suit, but it's just...not a samba. It hasn't got the energy or the bounce to pull that off.

Alesha thinks Scott gave it a good go and he worked really hard to master those steps. She thinks "that was right up there with the rest of them." Hardly high praise, considering how mediocre most of tonight's performances were. Bruno says that Scott always performs and delivers. Craig thinks Scott tried hard, but without success - he didn't like it at all.

Ersatz Tess Circle. Tess thinks they brought the party to the ballroom, and asks Scott to explain how it feels to dance in BLACKPOOL. Scott says that everyone's been so warm and encouraging, and you have to go for it when the crowd's behind you. Scores: Craig 6, Len 8, Alesha 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 32. Yeah, this hasn't exactly been a sparkling night of accuracy for Alesha and Bruno's scores, despite Alesha's recent run of generally impressive commentary and scoring. Stupid BLACKPOOL ruins everything.

Pamela and James are this evening's penultimate couple. We relive the dreaded moment of Bruno saying he wanted "more hanky panky" and Pamela running with this idea for an entire week, like she ever needed anyone's permission to be sexually overenthusiastic. Their American smooth tells a story in which Pamela is desperately trying to seduce James. So, art imitating life, then. In BLACKPOOL, they go on the ghost train, which looks about as scary as the sofa I am sitting on to write this.

They're dancing to 'Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps', with Pamela in full-on vamp mode and James dressed as a minor league snooker player. Ah, those snooker groupies. They're snooker mad. [Snooker loopy, one might say. - Carrie] [Ssh, don't explain the joke. - Steve] [I MUST. For this! Is! Strictly Come Dancing! - Carrie] There are some nice lifts and dramatic moments, and Pamela is of course engaging Giant Ham Face throughout. At this point, I'd expect nothing less. Still, let's just hope she's got the hanky bloody panky out of her system now, because I was finding that narrative about as enjoyable as Matt's "wahhh, wahhh, when am I going to get a ten?"

Bruno invites Pamela to come up and see him sometimes, calling the routine "American frisky". He thinks it was fantastically danced and absolutely beautiful. Craig thought it was a very well structured routine, danced extremely well, but Pamela needs to keep her shoulders down and her neck lengthened. Len thinks it was the best American smooth of the night, FUCK OFF LIKE HELL IT WAS, JUSTICE FOR KARA *starts making placards*. Alesha loved the storytelling and the footwork and declares Pamela the Queen of Blackpool.

Ersatz Tess Circle. James points out that they danced the entire routine with his microphone lead wrapping round their legs. Tess harps on that Pamela FINALLY got James to BLACKPOOL, even though this is only the second time the show has actually visited BLACKPOOL since James joined. Jesus wept, I actually want to kill everyone at this point. (NB. Jacqueline Davies, if you're reading this, that was an ironic comment, I do not actually harbour homicidal urges. Well, not many.) Scores (Bruno is turned around yammering to someone behind him, Alesha puts a hand on the top of his head and turns him round to face the right way): Craig 8, Len 9, Alesha 10 (oh, Alesha), Bruno 10 (oh, Bruno) for a total of 37. Well, now James Jordan has had tens and been to BLACKPOOL, that's at least two chips wiped off his shoulder for future series. [Fret not, he still has about 67 separate grudges he'll wheel out on a regular basis. - Carrie]

Last dance of the night, courtesy of Ann and Anton. Ann was delighted with the outcome of last week, because she thought she might be going home. There's a montage of Ann's various "comic" moments before we hit this week's rehearsals, where Anton admits that it's not a samba in the most traditional sense. Ann refuses to do a samba roll because it's "improper". Unlike chaining up pregnant women, which is totally awesome and decent. Hag. Also, GET A FUCKING BRA THAT FITS, ALREADY. Ann crows that no one's expecting a sexy samba from her, and she's sick of that tune: "GET A LIFE. GET A LIFE." I love how the editors have underscored this section with Stevie Wonder's 'Isn't She Lovely?' I guess they couldn't get the rights for Jet's 'Cold Hard Bitch'. Ann sleeps on the coach all the way to BLACKPOOL and proceeds to be snottily underwhelmed by Tower Ballroom. Such a classic comedy character, this one.

They're "dancing" to 'Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel'. It's essentially a gentle stroll around the ballroom, occasionally interrupted by Ann holding out one arm and bodily hurling herself into a spin (seriously - apparently she cannot do this with her legs alone). Samba steps there are few, presumably because they are all DIRTY and IMPROPER and GIVE YOU SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS. Can't we just declare this joke officially over now? There's a floor spin in there, although it's more of a "Ann lets go of Anton during a twirl and falls over". Sigh.

Bruce jokes about them doing an encore. SWEET JESUS NO. Craig calls it "overwhelmingly awful". Len likens it to piles - "you keep coming back, more painful than ever." Alesha thinks it was entertaining and made the room light up. Bruno though she looked like a lame canary failing to take flight despite being repeatedly hurled around.

Tess summons "the banana splits" into the Ersatz Tess Circle, where Katya looks as appalled as I feel, and Ann says that Anton's choreography is wonderful. Tess asks Ann if she ever thought she'd be doing a samba in BLACKPOOL, and Ann says that she's done some fancy footwork here as a politician. Oh, zing! Scores: Craig 1, Len 5 (yes, that's correct, one mark less than he gave Kara for her American smooth, SEND THIS MAN HIS P45 NOW), Alesha 4, Bruno 3 for a total of 13. Tess puts her finger in her ear and asks if that's the lowest score in samba history, before deducing "quite possibly". Heh - even the gallery doesn't want to talk to Tess. Incidentally, it is the worst samba score in the show's history, being previous record-holder Jo Wood by one whole point.

Final leaderboard: Matt and Aliona in first place, Pamela and James in second, Kara and Artem third, Scott and Natalie fourth, Felicity and Vincent fifth, Patsy and Robin sixth, Gavin and Katya seventh, and Ann and Anton eighth. Tess declares the lines officially open, and we revisit the evening's performances: Patsy's flat samba, Kara's foxtrotless American smooth, Matt's backflipping samba, Felicity's snap happy American smooth, Gavin's lift-out-of-service American smooth, Scott's poor samba, Pamela's panky hanky American smooth, and Ann's...whatever that was.

So that's it for the performance half of BLACKPOOL. But who goes home?

Results: 21st November 2010

Last night, claims Tess, BLACKPOOL rocked. I beg to differ, quite frankly. Some celebrities shone like the illuminations. Others...did bad things that can also be alluded to in a BLACKPOOL-esque way. Tonight, someone goes home. Titles!

Jesus wept - we open with a pro number from the ladies to 'Bootylicious'. The week after Michelle went home. Nice. Also, the opening lyrics have been changed to "BLACKPOOL, can you handle this?" You know what? I think BLACKPOOL can. And then when they repeat that part of the song halfway through, they namecheck Craig, Len, and Bruno, but not Alesha. How homophobic. Poor Alesha! What if she wants to get a bit of loving from the lady dancers? Who are we to stand in her way?

Tess is decked out in a glittery silver dress, which is so much of a step up from the terrifying jumpsuit, I can't even tell you. Oh, except then we cut to a wide shot, and the dress ends on her upper-thighs, which just looks all kinds of wrong. Tess cracks a joke about Craig wanting to be finished in time for the bingo, and it clatters to the floor awkwardly thanks to Tess's total absence of comic timing.

Retrospective! Len declares it the best night of the series. Len is an idiot. Patsy didn't even realise she was on the wrong foot, she tells us. Len thinks that the atmosphere led her to get carried away. Craig enjoyed an entire BLACKPOOL ballroom full of people booing Len during his critique of Kara. Alesha thinks Matt really captured the style of the samba. Len thinks they put the backflips in just to annoy him. Craig says he'd do 17 backflips if he thought it would annoy Len. Matt and Aliona celebrate their ten. Len thinks Felicity moved around the room like she had both legs down one knickerhole. Alesha argues that the lifts were great, though. Len feels sorry for Gavin and his TERRIBLE nerves. Gavin thinks it was an honour to dance in Blackpool, but he fucked up. Alesha says that it's important to carry on if you make a mistake. Bruno points out that Alesha did that all the time when she was a contestant. "Oh yeah, queen of blag, me," Alesha cackles. Craig thinks it was written all over Scott's face that he was unhappy with his samba. Scott does not want to be a SHOCK exit. Bruno loved Pamela. Pamela and James are ecstatic about their tens. Ann has left Bruno at a loss for words. Craig and Bruno re-enact Ann's hopping. Len thinks Ann's "a game old girl". Ann is pleased that at least she scored more points than she did in her salsa. The judges like that it's all change on the leaderboard, yet again. Well, sort of.

From there, we're back to Tess with some results. The first couple safe in BLACKPOOL and dancing again in SMELLY OLD LONDON next week is...Kara and Artem. They're joined by Scott and Natalie and Pamela and James. The first couple in the bottom two and in DANGER (seriously, Tess really relishes this word, the strange woman) is...Felicity and Vincent.

Tess asks Alesha where it went wrong for Felicity. Alesha doesn't think anything went wrong as such, but she thinks the competition is getting tougher - it was a good night for Felicity by her own standards, but perhaps not good enough overall. Tess broaches the subject of Widdy with Craig, who thinks Ann's samba has been etched on his memory for the rest of his life.

Claudia's over in the Ersatz Tess Circle with the safe couples. Kara says that BLACKPOOL has been a rollercoaster for everybody. Claudia asks her how she felt about the possibility of Artem not being able to dance. Kara says it was like being in a film (that's what I said!) but eventually after all the will-they-won't-they they managed to dance. Thanks to the MIRACLE HEALING PROPERTIES OF THE DANCE!

Continuing the tedious Vegas analogy now is the cast of Cirque du Soleil's Viva Elvis, dancing to 'Blue Suede Shoes'. Some of them are on WIRES, just like Widdecombe was. Except these people are graceful, and she was not. Actually, this routine is pretty awesome - it's quite a spectacle, and after the mess that was last night's opening number, it's pretty cool to have an exciting pro number to look at. There are feats of acrobatics in here that make Matt's backflips look rather pathetic, and that makes me enjoy it all even more. Am I mean-spirited? That's a silly question: I wouldn't be doing this blog if I weren't. When they're finished, the judges all get to their feet to applaud, although Len looks bored.

Backstage with Claudia, Pamela wants to be on one of those swings next week. James, don't give in to her. Given her insistence on making every routine as broadly sexual as possible because Bruno mentioned in passing he quite liked things to be a bit saucy, she'll probably want to sit on the swing and urinate on you while you lie beneath her, naked. Claudia reminds Pamela about her tens, and Pamela's very excited about getting James's first tens in BLACKPOOL. Claudia asks if Pamela was scared of the lifts - "I wouldn't even let him make me a cup of tea." Hee. Scott thinks Craig judged him fairly on his mistakes, but he's glad to be through. In BLACKPOOL. He digs himself a big hole about not being able to get tens all the time and then continuing on all "not that I expect tens, not me, no sir, where the hell did this shovel come from, why is it suddenly all dark down here?"

Back to Tess with the results. The next couple safe is Matt and Aliona, and they're joined by Ann and Anton. So it's between Gavin and Katya and Patsy and Robin for that final spot in the bottom two. That spot is taken by...Patsy and Robin. Patsy's "I'm in the bottom two, WHAT A FUCKING SHOCKER!" face isn't quite a match for her "I'm safe?!?!?!" faces, but it's still very funny.

Bruno thinks the competition is getting tight and everyone is working hard - Patsy has improved "enormously" since the beginning (she has?) but the nerves got to her tonight. Tess asks Len if the couples were good enough for him, and Len says last night was the best night of the whole "season" so far. You're not on Dancing With The Stars now, Len. Tess panders to the crowd, and then Claudia's with the bottom two couples. Patsy's surprisingly pragmatic about being in the bottom two - she's just happy to have made it this far, and basically makes an elimination speech without having actually been eliminated. Felicity says that you never see the bottom two coming, and continues "I'm here because of [Vincent]" - what, in the bottom two? Felicity thinks that BLACKPOOL is the place to go home from if you're going to go home from anywhere.

After that, there is Duffy singing her absolutely hideous new single 'Well, Well, Well', which is the sort of song that makes you want to experiment with deafness. I have to say, I don't usually curse the fact that I have ears before The X Factor has even started. Also, frankly she just looks wrong these days if she's not titting about on the back of a bicycle around a strangely empty supermarket and swigging Diet Coke from a can.

It's abbreviated elimination montage time! Felicity doesn't want to go home because she's so much further than she expected to be. That doesn't make much sense. Patsy doesn't want to go home either because she was surprised to get through last week and wants to keep going.

So who's going home? Felicity and Vincent. Felicity smiles, Vincent tries to eat her neck. "Third time unlucky," Tess says, rather crassly. Felicity disagrees - it's been the best time of her life, and she wouldn't have missed a second of any of this, and she's just so happy to be here now. Vincent tells Felicity he will love her always. Tess asks Felicity if she will keep dancing, and if she will keep doing the splits. Felicity says yes to both. Poor Felicity - she actually got half-decent towards the end and still all anyone wants to talk about is the bloody splits.

That's it from BLACKPOOL - back to RUBBISH LONDON next week, when Carrie will almost certainly be with you, unless I discover another scheduling problem that I didn't see coming again.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

This week on It Takes Two, we have learnt...

- Ann enjoys wearing long dresses because they're better for hiding the mistakes in her footwork.
- Only two couples have ever received full marks in BLACKPOOL: Jill and Darren and Ali and Brian.
- Three lifts are allowed in the American smooth this year. RETROACTIVE JUSTICE FOR KELLY BROOK!
- According to Karen, Craig and James were both right about whether legs should be straight or not in the cha cha cha. Okay then.
- 3 million people a year visit BLACKPOOL.
- Artem doesn't believe the words "fun" and "bus" go together.
- Laila's paso doble dress in BLACKPOOL last year was modelled on Frida Kahlo.
- Kristina's dress for her last waltz with John Sergeant was originally a bodice for Heather Small's rumba that got adapted.
- One of the lifts in Gavin and Katya's American smooth is so high that they struggled to find a training room with a high enough ceiling to practice in. At one point they even resorted to practising outside.
- A samba roll where the lady is in front of the man with her back to him is called a "shadow roll".
- There have been some really awful sambas on this show. Even some of the ones that were apparently supposed to be good.
- Craig once had a run in with a French woman involving the song 'Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps'.
- The samba is a difficult dance for a man. Whether it fits above or below the rumba on the AXIS OF MALE DANCE DIFFICULTY is anyone's guess.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Destiny fulfilled

Top 9: 13th November 2010

Tess's measured voiceover informs us that there were fireworks in the studio last week, largely as a result of all of the judges bar Alesha losing their damn minds and awarding some really inexplicable scores. Yes, you read that right: Alesha was the only judge whose scoring made sense last week. If she's not careful, the complaints will dry up completely, except possibly the ones from the racists, which I'm sure are still flooding in reliably. Some stars sparkled (Pamela and James, Matt and Aliona) while others got a rocket up them (Patsy and Robin, Scott and Natalie), and for one couple, it was a disaster movie (Jimi and Flavia, whose elimination faces are accompanied, for reasons best known to the editors, by a background of yellow swirls and the background of someone screaming. Judging by his pointy-fingered outrage last week, I reckon it's Bruno). This week! It's the last pre-Blackpool week, so everyone will be yammering on about Blackpool and how much it means to them, even though most of them probably don't give a shit. Is anyone even FROM BLACKPOOL this year, like Craig Kelly was? (Except he wasn't FROM Blackpool, he was FROM NEARBY, but that's a less exciting narrative.)

Titles! Remember when there were men on this show?

Live from Television Centre (NOT BLACKPOOL), we have Bruce, and we have Tess. Both wearing poppies, of course, and Tess is actually wearing a relatively decent black number, though I'd prefer it if it weren't quite so feathery on the shoulders. Of course, I'd prefer my own shoulders if they were less feathery too, so I can sympathise with her plight. There's a bit of comic business where Bruce thinks they're going to the actual Las Vegas next week, rather than just the Las Vegas of the north, and then Bruce affects a northern accent and offends about 35% of the viewing audience. Tess informs us that we're over halfway through the competition this week, and everyone's going to be going all out to stay in so that they can go to BLACKPOOL.

Time to meet the stars: Scott and Natalie, Patsy and Robin, Matt and Aliona, Kara and Artem (with Kara wearing a hat this week instead of Artem), Pamela and James (dressed as Bradford and Bingley), Felicity and Vincent, Michelle and Brendan, Ann and Anton, and Gavin and Katya. Bruce calls them all an "unpredictable" lot, citing Pamela and Scott's recent deviations from form, and adds that the only person who's been consistent is...and the audience already know the punchline is Ann, so they start laughing in anticipation, and Bruce gets a bit cross. Poor Bruce. The audience's comic timing is even worse than Tess's.

Up first tonight are Thomson and Thompson -- sorry, Pamela and James. Bruce tells us that Pamela has lost two stone since she started in this competition. If that's true, that's pretty impressive. Pamela says she was nervous last week, but she really appreciated Len's comments and would like to do a foxtrot with him. Oh Pamela, you shameless brown-noser. James says that they're preparing for the cha cha cha by having a cha-cha-change of scene. Oh dear Lord. There are times when this show makes me wish I didn't have ears. Or eyes. Or a brain. They're off to Pamela and BILLY CONNOLLY's house (/fairly sizeable mansion) in Scotland (not BLACKPOOL). Pamela takes James out for a walk in the fresh country air and he slides down a grass bank and lands on his backside. Pause. Rewind. Play. Pause. Rewind. Slow-mo forwards. Pause. Rewind. Play. Ahh, that's satisfying. James makes a wish for a ten in a wishing well, and then they have a hilarious ride on a tandem. Then, for entirely gratuitous reasons, they go to a local school and dance with the children. "I'm sure the whole of Scotland are behind Pamela and James," says a teacher from the school. SUMMON THE GRAMMAR POLICE! Then they go highland dancing and James is wearing a kilt, and wondering how to stop his "sporran" from dancing so much. Yeah, I'm sure your "sporran" was the problem, James. So did they actually rehearse their cha cha cha at all? I hope all of their dance obligations didn't end up cutting into their precious tossing-the-caber time.

They begin their dance sat at individual tables with glittery covers on their laptops, because they are BUSINESS PEOPLE. On BUSINESS. The band are playing 'Money (That's What I Want)' and Pamela gets up and starts dancing around James. For ages. There's a good 30 seconds of general faffing with very little cha cha content - James rips off Pamela's trousers to reveal the lower end of her cha cha dress, Pamela pulls some cash out of her pocket and tosses it at the judges (bills not coins, sadly, although I would've loved for Len to get a threepenny bit in the eye) - and then finally they take hold and actually begin the proper routine. There's some very deft legwork from Pamela, though the ever-present giant ham face is as distracting as it always is. They end with a dip, and I would wager that Pamela loses her balance slightly midway through it, but she recovers well enough to hold her end pose.

Len thinks it was a very exciting start to the routine, with all the stripping and everything, and says that Pamela's a very good dancer. He did, however, think it was a bit on the careful side and he would've liked her to be more full-on with some of the steps. Alesha liked the good use of basic steps and the general control of the routine, but she felt it was rather "polite" and "clean". Well, at least it'll be Widdy-approved if nothing else. Although probably not the part where Pamela gave lots of money to people who are probably poorer than she is. She did like, though, how James choreographed it to suit their personal style. Bruno thinks Pamela is always precise and finishes her moves beautifully, and says that because she promises so much, they expect a bit more oomph and "'anky panky". Craig tells Pamela to straighten her legs in the syncopated New Yorker steps, and James gets That Look on his face and says "actually, in the syncopated New Yorker you don't straighten your legs, so you're wrong there, actually." Craig concedes the point, and admittedly I have no idea who's right and who's wrong here, but I do know that James sounded like an insufferable snot in the way he said it, and there was no need for that. Craig thinks that it lacked dynamic, and he knows that the wobble wasn't choreographed, but they had great finishes and fantastic timing.

They trot up to the Tess Circle, and Tess asks if Pamela has more oomph to give. I don't think Pamela works in any other way, Tess. Pamela is excited at the prospect of more hanky panky, and warns James "you're in trouble." Heh. Pamela says that it was lovely to have the support of SCOTLAND, but they also want to go to BLACKPOOL, where James has never been. What, ever? Or within the parameters of this competition? I'm curious. [He and Ola have competed in BLACKPOOL before, so she means in the competition. - Carrie] [In which case: the show has only been to BLACKPOOL once since James joined, so: shut up, Pamela. And James. Both of you. - Steve] Scores: Craig 8, Len 8, Alesha 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 32. Tess is impressed at how supple Pamela is, a propos of nothing.

Next up are Michelle and Brendan. Michelle recalls being flabbergasted last week to have survived over Jimi and Flavia, and we see her looking tearful and saying she doesn't deserve to be there. "Yes you do," says Brendan instantly, God love him. Michelle says she's glad to still be here, having to put up with Brendan, much as he has to put up with her. Their paso doble training does not go well, and Michelle really doesn't seem to be getting it. "I feel like we've gone back a few weeks," Brendan admits. They yell at each other a lot, which Michelle later admits is not the right thing to do, and they make up. Essentially none of this matters, because they're toast this week whatever happens.

They're dancing to 'American Woman' and there's some nice caping action with Michelle's skirt at the beginning, and for the first 20 seconds or so it's all looking rather nice and I think by some miracle she might actually get a good score for this...and then it all goes a bit wrong. Michelle rather loses her place in the routine and has trouble catching up to where she's supposed to be, and this throws her off in terms of technique and positioning for the rest. It's a shame because her dancing really has improved by leaps and bounds since she started, but so has the dancing of many of her competitors, and a performance of this level of uncertainty and sloppiness isn't going to save her this week.

Bruce thanks the fabulous singers, having apparently forgotten to do so earlier, and congratulates Michelle on her lacy dress, which is like his curtains. Bruce also tells Michelle how lovely she sounded singing the US national anthem last week, "because I've never heard you like that, on your own." It's not meant to be a joke, but I still laugh. [HAHA me too! - Carrie] Michelle opens for the judges by saying "I just want to say that whatever y'all about to say, I agree." She looks resigned, and I really think she and Brendan both fully expect to be out this week. Alesha begins by saying that she liked the routine, especially the beginning, and she thinks Michelle kept the character throughout. She liked the overall shaping, but she lost balance at times. Bruno tells Michelle that she started with a suitable aggression, but then lost her energy so many times, and all of her lines with her arms were not flowing the whole way through. The audience boo, and Bruno insists "it's true!" at which point Michelle squeals "I said I agree!" Aw, I'm going to miss her so much. Craig thinks it was all very gnarled and knotty, and that he thinks Michelle is confusing attack in the dance with pulverising the floor - "You don't have to hit the floor as hard as you're doing." He tells Michelle she needs to bring her feet together for the appels. "I agree!" yells Michelle. Hee. Len tells Michelle that it started really well, but as it got on, it went a bit "filleted and soft". "I agree!" wails Michelle. I bet the post-concert debriefings with Beyoncé were a bit like this.

Up in the reassuring embrace of the Tess Circle, Tess asks if whatever doesn't break Michelle makes her stronger. Michelle says that she is getting stronger, and it's encouraging to know that SOMEONE out there in the British public is voting for this little American girl. Not many people, admittedly, but some people are. I was voting for Michelle on average three times a week. I suspect I am probably a large chunk of her fanbase all by myself. Tess explains to Michelle about Blackpool: "it's our Vegas, but the chips come with gravy." Michelle wants to go. She'll be going, all right, but not to BLACKPOOL. Scores: Craig 4, Len 7, Alesha 7, Bruno 6 for a total of 24. Yeah, bye Michelle. Michelle pouts at the camera and confirms that she would like to go to Blackpool and try those chips and gravy.

Patsy and Robin are next. Bruce says that Patsy has been saying that the show is like a fat camp, but he wasn't sure what that meant, so he googled "fat" and "camp" and got a picture of Christopher Biggins. I have to say, for some reason I was expecting the punchline of that joke to involve Craig and I was all set to get upset on his behalf that he was being considered fat for comedy purposes, so I'm quite glad they took it in a different direction. The good news is that Craig finds the actual punchline hilarious. In her VT, Patsy is mildly affronted at being called council estate scum last week, or whatever it was Craig said. She's aiming for "graceful, regal, middle-aged lady" this week. Robin's making her balance books on her head, 1930s finishing school-style, to attain the right posture for her Viennese waltz. Patsy thinks she has a flat head: "I can carry anything on it. Books, trays..." Hee. She'd love to get to BLACKPOOL and dance like a laydee (said in a Little Britain style, natch.)

They're dancing to 'Anyone Who Had A Heart', one of my favourite songs of all time, fact fans. They start out stalking each other around the floor at opposite ends of the room, and a surprising amount of the routine is out of hold, but Patsy copes with it surprisingly well. There are some fumbles in the armography, but on the whole the routine is pretty good and Patsy does indeed look elegant and ladylike.

Bruno thinks we're seeing a renaissance for Patsy's ballroom skills: "You started really badly at the beginning of the series." Heh. To her credit, Patsy agrees. He says she has more musicality now, and she can do elegant as well as sexy, though she still needs to be careful with her footwork. Craig calls it "far from council - classy, confident" and says that she did very well with the solo section, but she needs to smooth out the bumps. Overall, though, he thought it was "delicious". Len thinks Patsy hasn't challenged for the top spot so far, but tonight she's rising to the top. Only he says it more wankily than that. Alesha loves Patsy's vulnerability - "you're an actress, but there's nothing fake about the way you dance." Oh, Alesha. She's a woman, of course she's fake. Just look on Digital Spy, you're bound to find something. Alesha thinks it wasn't perfect, but she loves Patsy's improvement and the fact that she dances from the heart.

Somewhat pleased with that response, they scamper up to the Tess Circle, where Patsy is thrilled to be a lady at long last. Patsy admits that she never expected to still be here at this stage, and credits Robin with the fact that she's actually managed to survive this far in the first place. She doesn't think she's a contender for the title, but she's just trying to learn. Scores: Craig 7, Len 9, Alesha 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 32 - Patsy's best score to date.

Who's next? Why, it's Gavin and Katya. Their opening gag is about Gavin allegedly explaining to Bruce that no matter how good a try is in rugby, you only ever score five points, and Bruce responding that it's a bit like Craig with Gavin's dancing. And yes, that one did raise a smile from me, so it gets recapped. I'm a man of my word. Gavin was thrilled to be told by Alesha that he'd outdanced Scott last week. "One down," he smiles, at which point Katya deadpans "we're not competitive, not at all." Hee. I really love this pair. They're so getting my votes when Michelle goes. Gavin admits that having taken up rugby again, he's getting a bit of stick from his colleagues. Saracens player Don Barrell says that they're trying to find a nickname that will stick, "because if you call him 'Twinkle Toes', he'll probably like it." We see Gavin entering the changing rooms (SWIT-SWOO!) and several of the other rugby...people start pretending to dance with imaginary partners and humming the Strictly theme. Ah, the famous rapier-wit of the professional sportsman. Gavin says that a lot of his teammates are "pretty pale", but he has plans to make them all better looking. He is finding the quickstep "very quick, obviously", and then he gets a pick-me-up in the form of his adorable kids, who do a bit of twirling around the room for him, and possibly to get their applications in to be celebrity contestants in 2032. I mean, you have to start early these days, don't you?

They're dancing to 'I Want You To Want Me' and it begins with the pair of them trotting down the stairs before meeting in the middle of the raised platform for some surprisingly agile kicks, and then -- and I really cannot adequate describe how amazing this was when you didn't know what was coming -- Gavin bounds over to the judges' desk and kisses Bruno on the mouth. Watching it back now, it's obvious that Bruno was in on it from the get-go judging from the way he's already leaning over before Gavin even gets there, and he reacts far too quickly to have been surprised by it, but it's still pretty damned funny. [To be fair, Bruno not being in his seat is hardly an unusual occurrence or evidence of a stitch-up. - Carrie] Particularly considering I really can find absolutely no narrative reason whatsoever for this to happen in the story of their dance. I would love to have been there when Katya said to Gavin "okay, and then you kiss Bruno..." though. I bet his face was a picture. Katya has cleverly choreographed a bit into the dance where she actually lines Gavin up into the right frame, and another bit later on where Gavin's foot gets "caught" in Katya's dress. The actual dancing? Not too shabby at all. It's still lacking a bit of precision on Gavin's part and there's one out-of-hold part where he and Katya are completely out of sync, but it's actually a very fun routine, danced rather well.

As they walk over to the judges, Bruno's looking all spaced-out and fanning himself with his notecards, which makes Katya crack up. Bruce reminds us that we are still watching Strictly Come Dancing. Heh. Craig is impressed that there was finally some personality (though he's said that before), and he thinks Katya did a fantastic job with the routine - it was a bit of a shambles technically, but it was a monumental breakthrough. Len thinks he'll be seeing Gavin in BLACKPOOL next week. Alesha loved it despite the timing issues, and thinks that Gavin is improving week-on-week, and she's glad that Bruno's speechless for once in his life. She adds that quickstep really suits Gavin, and she thinks it's his best dance by far. Bruno: "Am I dreaming? Let's do it all over again, I want to make sure it's for real." Hee hee hee. He thinks Gavin gave his strongest performance, and his timing was good apart from a few mistakes. Katya: "It was because of that kiss." Bruno: "Yes, I take the blame, let's do it again!" I bet this week more than any other, Arlene was absolutely furious that she wasn't on the judging panel.

Up in the Tess Circle, Gavin's hiding behind his hand - not because of gay panic, as you might think, but because he made some mistakes when he'd been doing much better in rehearsals. Bless his little heart. Gavin says that seeing his kids on screen made him "have a moment". So if the contestants genuinely do get to see their VTs, I guess Pamela really was just ignoring Tess the other week with the whole Robin Williams thing. Tess says that off-camera earlier, Gavin had confessed to her that he'd had a Strictly dream, and asks him what it was. James, in the background: "Kissing Bruno." Hee! No, Gavin's dream is to GET TO BLACKPOOL. Scores: Craig 7, Len 8, Alesha 9, Bruno *waggles eyebrows * 9 for a total of 33. I must admit, I was really hoping for a reprise of "Can't help myself...ten!" there. It's Gavin's best score so far, anyway.

Next up, it's Annton. Ann says that she enjoyed last week and found it very funny, if she does say so herself. We revisit Craig's criticism of Ann spending all her time on her hiney, and Ann says that "I could sit where he sits, but could he come out and dance as well as Anton? I don't think so." First of all, dear, it wasn't Anton's dancing he was criticising, and second of all, I found this pretty quickly, and even that short snippet is better than about 80% of Anton's attempts at Latin, so yeah, I'm thinking Craig could take Anton in a dance-off. Their VT reveals that they train in Newton Abbot, where the local restaurant has named two dishes after them: Widdy's Foxtrot Chicken and Anton's Salmon And Broccoli Du-Beke. Oh dear. The cute and slightly camp waiter from the restaurant tells us that Ann's dish outsold Anton's, and that upset Anton. Ann is finding the foxtrot rather confusing - "when I'm out of hold, it's dangerous," she complains. Anton too is happier when Ann's in hold - "that way, I know where she is." Heh.

They're dancing to 'You Make Me Feel So Young' and...oh dear, Ann's outfit. Let's just say it looks like the years have not been kind to Mavis Cruet. The dancing? Well, it's passable. As always, Ann's more being dragged around the floor than she is being led around it, but her footwork is showing some sign of progress, and there's about a 100% increase in the amount of actual dancing from last week, which is also good - and Ann even manages to kick a leg up and lean back for her end pose. Careful Ann - if that sort of raciness continues you'll end up with an STI.

Before walking over to the judges, Ann asks Anton how his toe is, so it would seem she managed to stand on his foot at some point. Len says he's not going to analyse what she does (heaven forfend!) - Ann will be on the show as long as the public want to see her, and why not? Well, I could give you a list of reasons. Alesha thinks it's hard for Ann to get her posture right because of the height difference, but she was pleased to see some actual dancing instead of a comedy routine. Ann says "next week is the samba, for the comedy." Alesha's all "BLACKPOOL, shrug." Bruno thought it was quite funny: "Anton Du Berk and a family-size Pepto-Bismol bottle." This goes down rather awkwardly as few people in this country recognise what Pepto-Bismol actually is. He thinks it wasn't light enough, but at least she tried to put a lot of content in. He scolds her for constantly looking between her legs. "That' to see where my feet are going," Ann replies. Craig tells her not to let "Centri-pugal force" get the better of her, as she looked disorientated ("I am!" Ann replies) when she tried to do a step-turn-step. "Is that what I was doing?" Ann asks. It'd be nice if, just for one week, she'd shut the hell up and let the judges talk. Ann tells Bruce that she did a double-whisk, which doesn't actually belong in the foxtrot but she did it because it's the only one she can get right.

Up in the Tess Circle, Anton complains at Bruno calling him "Anton Du Berk". Tess asks Ann if she was playing it for laughs. Ann: "No." Tess enquires if it was more about technique tonight. Anton: "Yes." Scintillating, isn't it? Ann says that they play their ballroom (somewhat) straight, while they do comedy for the Latin, because she can only do the language, not the dancing. Scores: Craig 3, Len 6, Alesha 6, Bruno 5 for a total of 20. "That's fifty per cent!" says Anton.

Halfway leaderboard: Gavin and Katya at the top (!), Pamela and James and Patsy and Robin tied behind them, then Michelle and Brendan, then Annton at the bottom.

Filler-time! It's a VT about BLACKPOOL. Various Blackpudlians talk excitedly about how this is the best place to be for ballroom. There are hints for a Vegas spectacular, but I do hope it's not actually going to be a theme week. Once a series is enough, thanks. A drag queen hopes Gavin will be there. That's about it.

Kara and Artem are next. Kara says that the nerves caught hold of her last week and she got so stressed that she kind of "lost" the part where they topped the leaderboard. Kara's VT is about her busy week: she's photographed outside a "House of Crepes", goes on This Morning, paints her nails, brushes her hair. She says that being herself doing press is difficult because she has nothing to hide behind. She kisses the Chuckle Brothers, randomly. [Seriously, what was that? - Carrie] And then she does some training, and says she hopes to earn her place in BLACKPOOL.

They're dancing to 'Los Vino' for their Argentine Tango. Kara begins on her own, dancing around a coat stand. Unless Artem just got a lot thinner without me realising. Oh no, there he is. It's another impressively supple routine from Kara, and she's matching Artem all the way and keeping time perfectly.

Afterwards, the audience are on their feet and Artem, as usual, stands back and applauds Kara, which she reports to Bruce. "That shows he appreciates all your work," Bruce tells her. "To me, you looked like two professionals." Kara's all "gimme a break" to that. Alesha loves watching Kara - her footwork and lines are perfect. Bruno loved the choreography and the dancing, and declares the whole thing fantastic. Craig declares it "A-MAY-ZING." Len does not get to speak, which is how I like it best.

Up in the Tess Circle, Kara admits that the tango's got her fired up. She says that she wants to thank everyone for keeping her in this far. Scores: Craig 9, Len 9, Alesha 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 38. Tess giggles that someone behind her is shouting "undermarked!" I can believe that, actually - this year's lot do seem to get on rather well with each other.

From there, we move on to Felicity and Vincent. Felicity enjoyed her paso doble last week, and Vincent enjoyed "showing the world my cute little body". I know that being a sleazeball is the schtick he's adopting for showbiz purposes, but I do wish he'd stop it. This week they have the salsa, which Felicity says she finds exhausting just to think about. They struggle with the over-under-arm parts of the choreography, and this week they have guest judges in rehearsals in the form of some of Felicity's many grandchildren. Felicity claims the mini-judges are fierce, but they do award her 40/40, so they're about as discerning as Ruthie Henshall. [One did suggest that Vincent just carry Felicity rather than letting her dance, though. - Carrie]

They're dancing to 'All Night Long' by Lionel Richie, and Felicity looks moderately terrified throughout. Most of the turns and armography just leave her looking a bit dazed and muddled, and she's disconcertingly tentative for the majority of the routine. There's a bit where she's supposed to recover from a backbend to slide under Vincent's legs, and that goes horribly wrong, and ultimately they end off the beat.

Bruno thinks it started well and some moments were very good, but Felicity had such trouble with the arm movements that she lost the flow. "You can never afford to lose rhythm and flow, and you lost it a little bit," he consoles. Craig agrees: he doesn't think she danced it well at all, and she got stuck and jammed in the arm movements - he declares it "a minor disaster." Len thinks parts were very good, but at times she looked like she was being pulled through a hedge backwards. Alesha doesn't get to give her opinion, because we are somehow short of time despite having had at least two minutes in which to run that pointless BLACKPOOL teaser.

Up in the Tess Circle, Felicity says that the show is like a party every week and she's still loving it, and she thanks the people who have kept her in thus far. Scores: Craig 5, Len 7, Alesha 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 26. I think that was a teeny bit overmarked, to be honest. A few of those sevens should have been sixes. Tess reminds us that Felicity wants to go to BLACKPOOL. "She has to come to Blackpool!" Patsy yells from off-camera. Hee!

Time for Matt and Aliona, who will be doing "a very raunchy rumba", Bruce tells us. Obligatory farming gag. Matt interviews that he enjoyed being back in hold last week, and was very happy with how things went. He did three days at The One Show this week, where one of the guests was Strictly superfan Miranda Hart. They did a bit of a rumba in the corridor. Matt says they're throwing everything at their rumba this week (with Aliona on choreography, I can quite believe it), and he definitely wants to get to BLACKPOOL.

They're dancing to 'Too Lost In You', and I'm sure Carrie's reaction to this song would've been much the same as mine: a hope that the singers don't butcher the "baby baby BAY-BEHHHH" part too badly. You don't get to do that bit on SingStar, you know. I was gutted when I found out. [Sad times, Steve. - Carrie] Aliona is wearing almost no clothes, and Matt is making some nice shapes, though occasionally he seems to be lacking in intent with his movements. It's a good rumba, though, and as we all know, the rumba is (say it with me now) hard for the male celebrities.

Craig felt uncomfortable watching it, and found it a bit too placed between the four and the one, where Matt wasn't really dancing as such, but he can see that Matt's endeavouring to "nail it technically" and appreciates that. Len thought there were beautiful lines, and Matt danced with authority, but he thinks that in trying to get the hip action, Matt lost some of the musicality. Alesha thinks Matt "done" exceptionally well with a difficult dance, and she loved the romance and the storytelling. Bruno agrees that they really switched on the raunch factor, and that Matt danced a very difficult dance beautifully. I guess he'll have to wait another week for that elusive ten, huh?

Up in the Tess Circle, Tess notes that they "don't get that rumba face on Countryfile." Well, no, he's probably afraid he'll get wrinkles. Tess asks Matt if he's close to a ten tonight, and Matt thinks, judging from the comments, that it won't be happening for him tonight. He'd like one, but he doesn't think it's coming. Scores: Craig 8, Len 9, Alesha 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 35. Tess points out that while there were no tens, they definitely beat Scott's rumba last week. Worrabitch. Matt says that if they make it to BLACKPOOL, they'll try for a ten. Sshyeah, right, like he hasn't been at Tom Chambers levels of being desperate for a ten for weeks now.

Our final couple of the evening are Scott and Natalie. Last week's rumba was, as Tess has just reminded us, not well-received, and some wag in the editing department has scored the Human League's 'Human' over their feedback just to really lay that point on thickly. Scott gurns as he recalls the comments. He thinks that you need to be gracious in defeat: "you can't expect to be brilliant at everything." Heh - making a valid point and then trampling all over it in a matter of seconds. Scott then gets on his soapbox about how there's no need for competitiveness with the other couples. We see Gavin joking that Scott's "the worst male left in here now", at which Scott sniffs that he doesn't do things like that. Goodness me, what a princess. This week, however, he and Natalie are determined to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. Natalie thinks Scott has started to go mad. And seriously, when NATALIE LOWE thinks you look insane, it may indeed be a time to step back and reflect.

Their jive (to 'Hit The Road Jack', which is THE NAME OF HIS CHARACTER IN EASTENDERS, do you see?) [Oh! I totally didn't get that. - Carrie] begins with the two of them concealed behind a red door in a glittery frame. I for one hope they reuse this particular prop for a dance to R. Kelly's 'Trapped In The Closet' later in the series. I bet that'd make an ace rumba. Their jive is about Natalie kicking him out of her house, but Scott is refusing to go. And doing some ace kicks and flicks while he's at it. This is a really high-energy routine, with plenty of bounce and great synchronicity. Oh, and midway through, Natalie bounces up to the judges' desk to kiss Bruno. I hope they continue with this kissing Bruno meme, but I also hope the judges start randomly switching seats just to keep the dancers on their toes. I look forward to the week where Ann Widdecombe ends up inadvertently snogging Alesha. RACY! It ends with Scott thinking Natalie's taking him back, but in reality she just hands him his suitcase and shoves him away, and he totters back, clothes spilling all over the floor. Nicely done indeed. Then the people in front of the camera leap to their feet to applaud and completely block our view. Heh.

Bruce tells Scott that routine jogged a few memories. Len loved that they danced right on the edge, where there's so much potential for things to go wrong. I assume he doesn't think anything actually did go wrong, but he doesn't clarify. Alesha thinks the kicks and flicks were excellent and his timing is fantastic - it was an excellent jive. Bruno (with lipstick on his cheek that I certainly hope is Natalie's and not Gavin's) that it was a sharp jive worthy of comparison to St Jill of Halfpenny. Craig declares it "finger licking good." Ew.

Up in the Tess Circle, Scott praises Natalie's choreography, and Natalie says that she couldn't stop crying when she was behind the door at the end of the routine. Tess wonders what aftershave Bruno is wearing tonight to be getting so much action. Ask Vernon, Tess, I'd imagine he knows. (Too soon?) Scott says that you can't expect to be good at every dance and last week was a dance he indeed wasn't good at, but he just wants to thank Natalie for her choreography tonight. Scores: Craig 9 (actual boos), Len 10, Alesha 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 39. Tess points out that even Craig's nine got booed, like the booing means anything at all. The other celebs and pros are out of control at this point, with Anton off-camera going "Sssssssscottttttt!" over and over again and Michelle squealing "finger licking good!"

Final leaderboard: Scott in first place, obviously, with Kara close behind, then Matt, then Gavin, then the week's only tie between Pamela and Patsy, then Felicity, then Michelle, then Ann. The lines are opened, and we quickly recap tonight's performances: Pamela throwing her money around; Michelle getting in one last dance before she goes home; Patsy spinning around, move out of her way; Gavin snogging Bruno and then licking his lips afterwards, which I did not spot first time around; Ann and Anton deigning to actually dance for a change; Kara's bendy Argentine tango; Felicity's tangled salsa; Matt's still-not-ten-worthy rumba and Scott's frankly awesome jive.

Bruce and Tess tease the results show in which someone (read: Michelle) is going home, and then Bruce will be back next week for BLACKPOOL.

Results: 14th November 2010

Last night: Blah blah blah BLACKPOOL. Tonight: somebody will not be going to BLACKPOOL. Titles!

We begin with a pro dance featuring Brendan, James, Robin, Anton and Artem, with Erin, Ola, Kristina, Natalie and Katya waiting in the wings. They're doing an American smooth to 'Beyond The Sea', in neatly choreographed circles, though I keep thinking back to last year's competitive Viennese waltz and hoping for them all to run into each other, or for Ali and Brian to suddenly appear and careen across the floor, taking everyone out as is their wont. Sadly, I am disappointed on both fronts. But there are are some epic Natalie Lowe faces of delirious enjoyment, so ultimately, I emerge happy. As does Natalie, who seems a bit too keen to be rubbing up against Brendan at the end.

Tess is in some hideous matronly off-white number covered in sequins, that makes her shoulders look massive and her boobs look cuboid. After a brief introduction to the judges, we're off to Claudia, who teases appearances from Annie Lennox, the soldiers, and the very lovely Alesha, stepping out from behind the judges' desk.

Time for our recap of "last night" with added bonus footage: Bruno thinks Pamela is always a solid performer. "Chances win dances," opines Len, fairly nonsensically. Bruno thinks Michelle "made a boob". Alesha thinks that the whole "I agree" thing was like Michelle giving up, and moves on to Patsy, whom she can't help but warm to. Patsy is pleased to have gone from chavvy to classy. Alesha thinks Gavin performed it well, and hopes they'll all get a kiss each week. Anton points out that Ann didn't give the judges a chance to say much. Craig thinks it's time Ann went home. The judges are united in love for Kara, and Kara and Artem whoop at their scores. Len liked the start of Felicity's samba, but then it all went very wrong. Craig and Bruno chuckle that she needed arm extensions to free herself. Craig thinks Matt is trying hard to get it technically right. Matt thinks the show should be called "Strictly Can You Get A Ten?" No it shouldn't. Scott and Natalie were jubilant at their scores, and Scott was as gracious in victory as he was in defeat. Alesha thinks we have a real competition. Len thinks you can't predict who'll go. I predict Michelle. LET'S SEE IF I'M RIGHT, SHALL WE?

Over to Tess for the first batch of results. The first couple safe is Matt and Aliona, and they're joined subsequently by Gavin and Katya, Pamela and James, and Scott and Natalie. The first couple definitely in the bottom two is...Michelle and Brendan. They're both like, "well, duh." Tess turns to the judges. Bruno thinks the standard is very high right now, and while Michelle tried hard, the result wasn't quite as it should've been, and the public saw that, he thinks. Like the public think about it that carefully.

We throw to Claudia, who is sitting with the four safe couples, but will not be talking to them just yet. Instead, she introduces "the most successful British female artist in pop music history." It's Alesha! No, just kidding, it's Annie Lennox with her new single 'Universal Child'. Annie has an enormous band and the stage is covered with candles. I sincerely hope there are no dancers poised to come out and perform in front of her, because the chance of them catching fire is pretty high. Perhaps the candles are out because BBC cutbacks mean they can't afford actual lights. I blame David Cameron. Oh, the song? Eh, it's all right. A bit dull and worthy. I kind of tune out halfway through.

After that, we're back with Claudia and we get to talk to the couples this time. Gavin thinks that he's getting the hang of the dances a bit quicker these days. Matt is pleased that "the boys are going to BLACKPOOL" since all of the men are through this week. Claudia reminds Scott that the crowd booed when Craig gave him a nine, but Scott assures her that he was just happy to have done well and wasn't hoping to get 40. Liar. Pamela's excited about the forthcoming trip to BLACKPOOL.

Four couples are left, one of them is in danger - time to find out from Tess which one that is. Definitely going to BLACKPOOL are Patsy and Robin, Kara and Artem, and Ann and Anton, which means that Felicity and Vincent make up the other half of the bottom two. Not really a surprise, is it?

There's an empty seat behind the judges' table. Guess whose it is? Tess asks Len what is special about BLACKPOOL. Len likes it to Wimbledon for tennis and St Andrews for golf - it is the Mecca of dancing. And he's not talking about bingo, either.

Claudia's up in the Tess Circle, teasing the special Children in Need Strictly special. I'm excited, are you excited? Indeed. And then it's time for Alesha, singing her new single 'Radio'. I'm not quite sure this is the song that's going to rescue her pop career from the somewhat fragile position it's sitting in right now, but it's pleasant enough if you ignore some of the slightly dodgier lyrics. I'd also argue that this performance is significantly more live than Cheryl bloody Cole's was on The X Factor the other week. Apart from the part where the whole show's pre-recorded, obviously. Oh, and the pro dance troupe are performing in front of her while she sings. No Matthew Cutler this time, though. [Boo. What is the point of Alesha singing if there is no Matthew Cutler dancing? - Carrie]

Claudia's with the bottom two. Felicity is not surprised to be there because the competition is so strong, and she's just thrilled to be here at all as she didn't expect to get past week four. She's glad even if she just has ten more minutes to go. Claudia asks Michelle if she could've foreseen herself being such a survivor when she sang that song with Destiny's Child. Michelle mumbles something about the song that I think amounts to wishing she'd never recorded the damn thing because it's come back to haunt her so often. She says that she's trying to grow as a dancer, and Brendan confirms that she has, and that it's a massive achievement for everyone who's made it this far.

Then there's a special performance from The Soldiers for Remembrance Sunday, singing 'Let Us Home'. Vincent and Flavia dance in front of it. Worthy cause. Boring song. I don't really have a lot more to say about it. The dancing's nice, though.

VT: Michelle is not ready to go home yet. She's making friends! (A rare example of a reality show contestant who IS here to make friends.) Felicity does not want to go home just yet, she loves being on the show. The end.

Moment of truth time: one couple is going home. That couple is...Michelle and Brendan, of course. There was only so long they could go on riding the bottom two and emerging unscathed. Felicity grimaces, Michelle smiles. Tess congratulates Michelle on getting this far. Michelle says she's sad to go, but at least she doesn't have to worry about being in the bottom two again. Heh. She says that the best part of the experience has been making new friends and dancing with Brendan. Aww. I'll miss her. What will she do with all the rest of that time left on her visa? [As long as it's not musical theatre again, I don't really mind. - Carrie] Her exit song is The Beatles' 'Michelle', appropriately enough.

Next week: BLACKPOOL! Carrie will be walking you through it, though she will most likely be in Smelly, Boring Old London, not the amazingness that is BLACKPOOL. Join us then!