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!


ros said...

I loved the bit where Michelle said how happy she was to have danced with the best dancer, then paused while we all thought 'Ian Waite', before she remembered Brendan was standing next to her...

Casdok said...

Loving it all this year :)

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