Semi-final, part one
Tx: Friday 10th December, 2010
Evening all! Well, it's a Strictly three-parter and a hell of a lot of dancing to get through as well as obligatory filler VTs, so we should get going as soon as possible. Shall we, then?
We begin with a shot of the fabled glitterball, and then a little VT of our remaining contestants -all of whom are vividly dreaming of the ways in which they may triumph. Gavin narrates it in a rugby-commentary style, Matt in his sleeptalking urges the judges to sit down and stop with all the standing ovations (it's funny because it's true). Pamela does something...oh, probably mentioning Billy Connolly or something, I forget. Scott probably just stays asleep because he's so very tired all the time, and don't forget that, because he works so hard, boo hoo. And Kara sleeps clutching a guidebook to Russia, but not Artem himself, obviously, because they're not going to do anything dirty and inappropriate like that while they're competing.
And it's good evening to Bruce and Tess! Tonight Tess is wearing a simple black dress that does appear to have a tail, but apart from that it's highly presentable. Well done, Tess, and thank you! It's nice to see us, to see us nice, as always, and Bruce talks us through the rules of the weekend's competition (two nights of competition before the results show, when two couples will leave), before introducing our couples. Kara is in a dress made of turquoise toilet paper; James has got his tatts out; Gavin has got his tits out. Looking like a good night in prospect, then.
Pamela VTs opening her birthday cards from last week. Remember, everybody, it was her birthday, and she was 61. SIXTY-ONE, WHO KNEW? the phrase "From James and Ola" seems to stick in her throat. Not as much as the word "Supergran" does, though, which is also written in the caard. Mostly this week, James seems to be back to Bad James, having successfully hidden that streak for much of the series, and shouting at her a lot; ah, the truth will out, Jordan. You may pretend you've mellowed over the years but we all know the angry aggressive bully is in there somewhere.
They're dancing the paso to Bad Romance with a chair as a prop, which seems a bit superfluous and clunky to me, but Pamela, with her hair up in Spanish style, is channelling all Gaga's crazy and stomping around the floor (as well as stumbling a bit). Strong Spanish lines and armwork here, along with lots of skirt-swishing; a really nicely-presented paso. At the end, Bruce begins to reprise the song. Triple doses of Bruce this weekend, all. Just sayin'.
Len says they captured the spirit of the dance and he liked the messing abaaaaht with the chair; Alesha admires the focus and the character; and then BRUNO begins to reprise the song too. Triple doses of Bruno this weekend, all. Just sayin'. Craig liked the strong lines and attitude as well as the skirt-caping. Bruce tells Pamela and James they're his favourites. Scores - Craig 8, Len 9, Alesha 9 and Bruno 9 for a total of 35,
Kara and Artem next. My, that man looks good in a tux. She wonders if she is just a "tango person" after last week's performance, and then gets her words mixed up, of course, because that's what Kara does. She's clearly not a rehearsal person this week - she sits down a lot and Artem glares at her a lot from across the room. Then she screams and runs out. Artem does not seem like he is particularly bothered.
They're Viennese waltzing to Stop (the Sam Brown song, as beloved by my colleague), and there's lots of spinning, lots of drama, and it ends with Artem's face in Kara's bosom. That's the kind of racy ballroom routine that means this show is on after the watershed tonight. Alesha praises their synchronicity and Kara's unassuming nature, which is "endearing", apparently, unlike being confident, which as it's tantamount to arrogance is the kiss of death, obviously. Bruno calls it a "work of art"; Craig criticises the end spin because Kara's foot came off the ground and the others shout at him (well, I thought it did too); and Len says that Kara's Viennese waltz is just as brilliant as Alesha's was. Bruce tells Kara and Artem they're his favourites too. I think we see how this is going to go. Kara tells Tess that if her foot came off the floor it was unintentional. Way to play it down, Kara! Tess tells Kara that she's looking forward to seeing their rumba tomorrow night. Seriously, Tess, you're not going to be happy until you see the sheets displayed in public after their wedding night, are you? Scores - Craig 9, Len 10, Alesha 10 and Bruno 10 for a total of 39.
After Bruce reminds us how old he is, as if we weren't all well aware of his decrepitude, we're into a VT of Gavin doing chin-ups and doing self-effacing pieces-to-camera - all the things he does best. Not playing rugby or dancing, obviously. Then it's to Wales, where people have written supportive slogans on sheep, and choirs rehearse pro-Henson songs. Katya gets stroppy with him in rehearsal and he looks utterly puzzled - "my brain is actually hurting!" There's a brilliant bit where Katya tries and fails to get him to move away from a mirror, and I genuinely don't think he can hear her, overwhelmed as he is with his own beauty.
They're sambaing and bless his little heart, he's trying his best and looks happy, which is something and definitely progress, but he does manage to knock Katya off balance at least once. It's a very methodical samba rather than a party; you can almost hear him counting the beats aloud. Bruno thinks he doesn't quite connect with the music, but his performance is improving. Craig is unimpressed. Gavin gyrates at him. This week, of all the many, many, many dances that are REALLY HARD FOR MEN, Len thinks the samba is the most technically challenging for a man: "you've got the guns, you just didn't have the ammunition." Alesha thinks Gavin is the underdog but he is the most improved. Bruce tells Gavin and Katya they are, bien sur, his favourites. Gavin tells Tess he enjoyed it and thought he was all right. Tess makes Gavin gyrate again. Tess, get some bromide. Scores - Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 7 and Bruno 7 for a total of 27.
Scott and Natalie next. They sad-VT about being in the bottom two last week, and Natalie reveals that Scott is the best partner she's ever danced with. Take that, Ricky Whittle! Natalie's judgement, it burns! In rehearsal, Scott struggles to lift Natalie - "she's NOT FAT!" he rushes to explain as Natalie begins to plot her revenge from across the room. "She is MUSCULAR. It's ALL MUSCLE!" Natalie apologises to him: "I know I'm heavy." I wish I were as heavy as her.
They've got a prop too, which is, of course, in the grand tradition of the Argentine tango, a lamp-post; and they're dancing to the music...off the Finish dishwasher tablet advert? Scott's side-parting certainly adds to the sense of tango, but he looks overshadowed by Natalie's statuesque magnificence throughout the routine. Craig loved it, but suggests more swivel on the closes and stronger leading; Len liked the lifts but didn't think Scott was like "a young guy out on the town trying to pick up a hot bit of totty" (oh, LEN); Alesha wanted to see more strength; and Bruno concludes, "I think I actually got it, Ssssssssssscott!" and likens the routine to film noir, earning him a gracious "at last, someone understands my genius choreography" look from Natalie. Guess what? Scott and Natalie are Bruce's favourites. They promise us sabotage on the dancefloor during the swingathon, as we could all have predicted thanks to the example of Dancing with the Stars. Scores - Craig 8, Len 8, Alesha 8 and Bruno 9 for a total of 33.
As you'll remember Matt and Aliona did comedy character jiving last week. He's happy that they've never been out of the top three, and is now going to dedicate everything to the cause of winning the competition. Basically this means doing everything Aliona says unquestioningly. If I were Aliona, I'd take the opportunity for a spot of mischief and play one week-long round of 'Aliona Says' and see how long it took him to realise I was winding him up. Saying something like, "Stand there while I punch you in the face repeatedly. No, really, it's good for you."
Eleven weeks in, and I've still not acclimatised myself to the sight of Matt Baker thrusting his groin at his partner. There's more of the same in this salsa. And not a great deal else. Len is even less keen on it than I am, and he eviscerates the entire choreography. Alesha doesn't like it either, and suggests he relax more. Bruno says he knows how much Matt wants to win, but he's working so hard that it changes the look of the dance. Craig concurs, of course. Everyone agrees that there's a lot of basic salsa content but nothing technically challenging or impressive. Aliona is glaring at everyone like it's their fault and not hers because she is the worst choreographer in the world. And finally Bruce has real reason to tell one of the couples that they're his favourites. Matt sulks at Tess: "I can't do any more than I'm doing." Obviously he's disappointed, but it comes across as really quite ungracious, but then would we really have expected anything else? Anyway, straight 7s for their lowest-ever total of 28.
The boys warm up for the swingdance by wrestling with each other as Tess talks to the camera. Someone clearly tells them off as they suddenly stop, stand up and look a bit shamefaced. Quick VT where Len explains the rules of the swingathon (it's a knockout, last couple standing gets five points, first out gets one), Gavin draws a tactics map for Katya, Kara predicts carnage, and the boys wrestle some more. How homoerotic! Here we go, then...
...Gavin is kicking and flicking all over the place, but it's not in time with Katya, or indeed the music. They're first out, and have to be manhandled off the floor. Scott and Natalie are next to fall - he looks shattered, probably because he is so very tired due to working two jobs, POOR SCOTT. Meanwhile, Artem and Matt compete with acrobatics, and unsurprisingly that means Pamela and James are knocked out next. The audience are actually chanting people's names at this point, but not in rhythm to the music. Sigh. Matt and Aliona leave next, leaving Kara and Artem dancing at the end. Artem crashes to the floor with exhaustion as Kara ignores him and wanders off to hug her rivals. Neither of them manage to exhale a full sentence despite Bruce's prompting. Tiring work, the swingdance.
So that's it for tonight. Kara and Artem top the leaderboard; Gavin and Katya are at the bottom, as we could probably have predicted without seeing anyone dance, so one could argue that the whole night has been one whole waste of time, then. But don't forget that could all change tomorrow night, when everyone dances their second routine! The phonelines aren't even open yet! Join Steve later to see how it all pans out!