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.

1 comment:

Helen said...

Sometimes, it is only your blog that gets me through this bloody series.