Tx: October 8th, 2011
Last week! Strictly began! 14 stars brought "something special to the party", for example Edwina flashed her knickers, and Nancy was crazy. Tess tells us that it was "bonzer", because we have two Australians competing, you see. And now it is time for a knock-out (because Audley is a boxer). This! Is! Strictly! Come! Dancing! 2011!
Bruce and Tess do their little dance, in which he seems to injure himself, poor old soul. He starts to witter on about applause being "embarrassing". There's a weird little silence. By the way, this evening, Tess is dressed a little like a mermaid, with sparkly scales on a knee-length dress. Bruce makes a mention of a dinosaur called Camposaurus, and I can't have been the only one waiting for Craig to be the punchline of that. [You weren't. - Steve] Instead, there's another peculiar silence as Tess tries to get him back on script.
Sigh. Anyway, time to meet our couples: Russell and Flavia; Lulu and Brendan; Rory and Erin; Chelsee and Pasha; Dan and Katya; Holly and Artem; Audley and Natalie; Edwina and Vincent; Harry and Aliona; Anita and Robin; Robbie and Ola; Nancy and Anton; Alex and James; and Jason and Kristina. 14 couples. Count 'em!
Bruce encourages everyone to boo Craig. Tess interrupts to, you know, read the autocue, like she's paid to do. This week, Future Head Judge Karen Hardy is doing red-button commentary with Pamela Stephenson Connolly, who has a husband. Bruce then has an embolism of some description, and finally gets round to introducing Chelsee, her breasts and Pasha.
Last week, Chelsee was terrified, but she knows she looked beautiful. Which is important. She does not know who Petula Clark is, nor does she look like Lady Gaga, so she does not understand why Len likened her to either of them. Pasha gets annoyed with Chelsee because she's a lazy bint, and says, "Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey," which is adorable. [I have such a crush on Pasha already. - Steve]
They are doing a salsa. Bruno is dancing in his chair, Len is clapping along, Alesha is smiling, and Craig is stony-faced. They lose synchronicity when they're out of hold, and Chelsee's free arm is whirling all over the bloody place. Otherwise, it's pretty good and sparky. Bruce welcomes the singers DAVE ARCH, and his wonderful orchestra before turning to the judges and announcing that Craig now has British citizenship. Len makes a vaguely racist comment before talking about his penis. Alesha says it was fun, flirty and fearless, which I believe is Cosmopolitan's tag-line. Bruno likens her to a wild kitten. Craig criticises some of the lifts and the bounciness but is largely complimentary. Scores: Craig 7, Len 7, Alesha 8 and Bruno 7 for a total of 29.
Next we have Edwina and Vincent. She doesn't feel that last week did them justice because it wasn't supposed to be a comedy. That's oddly cute. She seems fascinated by the idea of being a cougar, and says that Vincent is too easy to flirt with - "I'm scared of what my husband will say!" Insert joke about John Major here.
We have a gimmicky foxtrot, set in Vincenzo's Cafe, complete with table and chairs. Remember when props weren't used as a matter of course? I miss those days. When Edwina gets into hold, she doesn't look too bad. At the end she starts bellowing about it being the first time EVER she has danced a foxtrot. Maybe she should have rehearsed it this week then. Len moans about the messing ABAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHT, obviously. Edwina then starts to interrupt and Vincent tries to shush her. Alesha gets all pissy that she doesn't get to give her comments immediately [she got all schoolteachery and I loved it. I thought she was going to give them detention - Steve], but when she talks she says that Edwina looked all right when she was actually dancing. Bruno says something about a bendy bus. Craig makes some suggestions about her posture and balance. People boo. Tess says that Edwina is living every woman's dream by dancing with Vincent. Vincent concurs. Scores: Craig 4, Len 5, Alesha 5 and Bruno 5 for a total of 19.
Now we have Audley and Natalie. Audley is dressed in a reject tracksuit from the Krypton Factor. In VT, he says that Craig is a panto villain but will work hard this week to get positive comments. Natalie bullies Audley into moving his feet, and in an endeavour to show some empathy, she puts on big clown shoes. Natalie is legitimately awesome.
Bless Audley, they're dancing to Don't Stop Till You Get Enough and he is having a whale of a time, grinding his hips towards Alesha and Bruno, and there's actually a decent amount of actual dancing content in the routine (because Natalie is good at choreography, unlike some other pros we could all mention). Bruce makes vaguely racist comments about natural rhythm. Alesha says there is lots of improvement needed, but enjoyment is what the salsa is all about. Bruno says it was like disco night down the pub, and it was like a hustle rather than a salsa, making some technical pointers. Craig thinks it was flat-footed but he's not surprised, but praises his "groove" and hip rotation. He does not want Audley to punch him. I'd be more scared of Natalie, to be honest. Len witters on about Audley being a BIG GUY. Natalie kisses Bruce's hand; Audley thanks "Sir Bruce". Bruce looks thoroughly nonplussed. Scores - Craig 5, Len 6, Alesha 6 and Bruno 6 for a total of 23.
Now Alex and James. She says that last week she felt paralysed with fear, and says their comments were "not great". In training, she gets confused between left and right, so James wires her up to a machine that jolts her with electric shocks. Seriously. You can totally imagine James as part of a Milgram experiment, can't you? [I was a little bit alarmed that this was played for laughs. It didn't strike me as funny in the slightest. - Steve]
They're dancing to Have You Met Miss Jones? Alex looks much better, perhaps because she's in hold all the time and James can steer her. There are no obvious demonstrations of direction confusion. She kisses John Prescott, who's in the audience for no discernible reason, and then sits on Bruno's lap at the end. Wasting your time there, love. Still, Bruno is such a flirt he gets over-excited anyway and calls her a "young Joan Collins". Craig criticises the pivots, but says that ballroom clearly suits her more. Len says improving each week is the key to the competition. Alesha calls it understated and charming. Scores - Craig 6, Len 8, Alesha 7 and Bruno 8 for a total of 28.
Next, Lovely Dan and Katya! In rehearsal he whines about Katya not being nice enough to him, because he needs positive reinforcement. He says that when he coaches tennis, he is very nice to his pupils, and thus they go to the court and he teaches her to play. He tells Katya about the time he beat Tim Henman, of whom she has not heard.
They're dancing to Upside Down, which means that Dan begins with a handspring. Unfortunately, that's the most limber he looks during the routine - the lifts are hideous and clunky - and though the choreography is pretty good, Katya is fluffing her skirts out in an effort to disguise her partner. Craig liked the handspring and smile, but thought the rest was "lumpestuous". Len doesn't agree entirely, but thinks this will be Dan's worst dance, so that's a good thing. Alesha says that her mum would not think it was unattractive. Bruno likens Dan to Bob the Builder. Ouch. Scores - Craig 4, Len 6, Alesha 6 and Bruno 5 for a total of 21.
Lulu and Brendan are up next. She says last week's show was a reality check because Len told her not to go wrong, which presumably she did not know before. In rehearsal, Brendan does some epic teeth-grinding. He brings in some "brain food" for her in an endeavour to improve her memory. If Pamela Stephenson were here, she'd be talking about the menopause affecting women's memory, and sex with younger men being the only way to boost recall. [I am very glad I did not press the red button. - Steve]
Brendan's done some lovely choreography again here, although the big mirror in the middle of the floor is a bit weird. He's clearly telling her what to do at some points, but it's better than last week's fuck-up. And obviously it ends with one of Brendan's patented foxtrot walk-aways. Len praises her for making it through the routine, and suggests it needs some polish. Alesha says it seemed much more focused, but says that she shouldn't be singing along. Fair point. Bruno says the routine was played with emotional fragility, and though it needs polish, she danced well. Craig felt she was trying to keep up with Brendan and looked into his chest too much. Lulu squeals. Scores - Craig 5, Len 6, Alesha 7 and Bruno 7 for a total of 25.
Holly and Artem are up next. She talks about listening to Len's comments and not being quite sure where he was going with them. Oh, Holly. You'll get used to his formulaic judging, just like the rest of us have. She refuses to look at Artem and be sexy. He is hurt.
There is a lot of arm-flailing in this salsa, and Holly seems strangely stationary in places in the routine. Nice footwork, though. Alesha calls Holly a goddess, and tells her not to be afraid. Bruno says Holly has all the equipment but needs to tune out her gremlins, and then pursues a strange car metaphor. Craig says there were some timing issues, but thought the routine was great. Len also criticises the timing, but nobody boos him. Tess says some really stupid things. Scores - Craig 7, Len 7, Alesha 8 and Bruno 8 for a total of 30.
Rory and Erin dance next. He does some terrible impressions after last week's show and in rehearsal for the salsa. He does Sean Connery impressions to please Erin, who seems thrilled, and says that salsa is not a natural dance for someone from Edinburgh. OK then.
Do you know what? Rory is clearly not the best dancer, but he genuinely seems to be enjoying this. The smile on his face makes me smile too. There's some clunky footwork but he's throwing himself into it, and though it's a bit "salsa for beginners" it's a good performance if not the best dance. Erin kisses him thoroughly. Bruno says it was full of energy, and the mistakes were because he was pushing himself too much. He then stands up and swivels his pelvis. Craig says it was like a rat caught on a sticky strip. Ugh. Len says it isn't a natural dance for middle-aged British men, but Rory gave it a go with high energy. Alesha loved the shimmying and wants him to loosen up. Scores - Craig 4, Len ("you stupid, stupid boy") 6, Alesha 6, and Bruno 6 for a total of 22.
In a proliferation of blonde locks and gleaming teeth, it's Robbie and Ola. Robbie is heartbroken about Craig's bitchery last week, so Ola tells him to toughen up. This is apparently through the medium of putting an umbrella into the routine, or something.
Ooh, it's a glittery umbrella! In a foxtrot to Ain't That A Kick In The Head, and Robbie shows off some swift footwork and decent toe-pointing in a charming routine - it doesn't even have Ola's patented dancing-round-a-stationary-partner choreography. Len is ecstatic, obviously. Alesha loved the opening section and praises Ola's work. Bruno says this was a transformation. Craig says the head placement needs sorting out, but it was showbiz and he loved it. Hooray! Scores - Craig 7, Len 8, Alesha 7 and Bruno 7 for a total of 29.
Now the campest couple of the series, Anita and Robin. OH HEY LOOK IT'S ANITA'S HUSBAND BRIAN MAY! Anita muses over how well last week went, Robin kisses her, she announces that she loves him. Their salsa this week looks mental, as does their rehearsal, where they vocalise all the moves that they do. She says she does whatever he says, and sometimes he doesn't even have to use words, he just makes noises and she knows what he means. You guys are cute but weird.
Anita is dressed as Minnie Mouse on acid; Robin has skinned a Dalmatian. Her feet are a bit sloppy in places with this - not sure if she's slipping or her leg placement is wrong. There's a whole section where Anita is slung over Robin's shoulder as he marches about. That is not salsa! Len highlights some mistakes but thought it was fantastic. Alesha loved it. Bruno does not care about the mistakes because it was so much fun. Craig thought it was a bit like Bonnie Langford being chased by a Dalmatian, but that is a good thing. Alesha can be heard cackling. Scores - Craig 7, Len 7, Alesha 7 and Bruno 7 for a total of 28. [I am baffled by these scores. Half the time she was only still upright because Robin was holding on to her. Madness. - Steve]
Much screaming welcomes the introduction of Jason and Kristina. He calls finishing top of the table on Week 1 of Strictly is one of the greatest moments of his career. Oh, Jason. There is a weird bit of role play where she lures him to a ballroom and leaves him a hat and a toothpick, and then sticks her leg out of a curtain.
Hmm, this foxtrot is aiming for atmospheric, and it has a great deal of character. It reminds me a little of City of Angels. However, it's not as confident as their routine last week - perhaps because Jason's not quite comfortable with leading at the moment. Alesha thinks it was seductive. Bruno likens it to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and LA Confidential. Craig says his head position needs work, especially in the standing spin, but thought the routine was classy and stylish. Len wasn't going to make any suggestions about the things that were wrong, because that isn't in his nature, TO DO HIS JOB PROPERLY. Jason says that his kids aren't embarrassed by him at the moment and can go to school with their heads held high. Aw. Scores - Craig 8, Len 8, Alesha 9, Bruno 8 for a total of 33.
Next, Nancy and Anton. She is trying to teach him Italian, and laughs at his attempts to talk. [Any sign of whether Anton's teaching Nancy to speak English? - Steve] Anton's plan this week is to point Nancy's derriere towards Len in an effort to garner marks. She wants to try that plan with all the judges. Anton: "Well - good luck with them." Heh.
Fucking hell, Anton's salsa choreography is abysmal, and his jacket is made out of that ghastly black bin-bag stuff Kelly Brook's American smooth dress was created from. Seriously, I hate this emphasis he has on hamming it up and trying to get laughs. Nancy looks like she might be quite decent if she had routines hammered into her. I bet she's wishing they put her with Vincent. At least he can already speak Italian and that would save her a job. Anton wails about WRESTLING A TIGER and Nancy tells him to shut up, and then complains about an injury. Bruno says it looked drunk, but with great style and glamour. Craig says it was frantic and frenetic. Len says he looked up Nancy's skirt. Hooray for sexual harassment in the workplace! It's good tea-time fun! Alesha says she can't work out if it was trying to be funny or if it just was funny. Anton pretends he is insulted and doesn't know what she is talking about, then tells Tess it was performed just as choreographed and it was a thing of beauty. Scores - Craig 3, Len 5, Alesha 2 and Bruno 4 for a total of 14. [Alesha awarding not only the lowest score in a given routine, but also a lower score than Len or Bruno have EVER given was amazing. I am loving new hardcore Alesha. - Steve]
Speaking of shit choreography, here's Harry and Aliona! Last week, Len said that Harry was good and Aliona smiled smugly as if it was ANYTHING to do with her at all. This week, the McFly boys infiltrate rehearsal, and dance together in a pleasingly homoerotic way. That is all. [Sack Aliona and get Harry to dance with Tom. I am definitely not writing fanfic about this, honest. - Steve]
This foxtrot is weird. In that it doesn't look like a foxtrot in any meaningful sense. It looks like the interpretative dance that the pros do during the results show for a musical guest. But they dance well. Craig tells Aliona to sort his posture out to iron out the detail; Len has a swipe at Aliona for her comments about not listening to the judges, and then says it wasn't terrible but it wasn't great; Alesha says Harry is one of the best dancers, and the judges may be tougher because they know how good he could be; and Bruno says there is something special about Harry. There's a sly snigger around the audience. Interestingly Bruno adds, "With the right nurturing, you could be fantastic." Subtext: Aliona won't manage it? Scores - Craig 6, Len 6, Alesha 8 and Bruno 7 for a total of 27.
And big whoops for Russell and Flavia. Bruce calls Russell "as camp as a row of tents"; Flavia can't hear the comment and asks Russell, "What did he say?" Aw. Last week Russell was amazed and thankful for his standing ovation. This week they do an adorable VT about how much they love each other, queening around with a feather boa. [I am so very over Russell Grant already. - Steve]
Oh my eyes, Russell's hip action during Dancing Queen is painful. Again, this is salsa-by-numbers, but it's endearing and entertaining, at least, with a tribute to Muriel's Wedding in there too. Everyone in the Tess Circle is cheering and grinning, awwww! Bruce calls it "the perfect song", and Russell asks him to clarify what he means. HA! Len tries to piggyback on the slightly homophobic thread of comments, and says it was fun. Alesha says they are adorable and light up the room. Bruno says Russell has glitter and joy, and thanks him - "I absolutely loved it!" Craig says it wasn't without flaws, but "darling, a Dancing Queen you were tonight, definitely." Russell says he is more thrilled about his friend Robbie getting fantastic marks than his standing ovation. CUTE. Scores - Craig 6, Len 6, Alesha 6 and Bruno 7 for a total of 25.
Right, finally, that's it!
Last week's scores are carried over to this week, so Jason and Kristina still lead, with Nancy and Anton at the bottom. And the phone lines are now open, for a whole 25 minutes, which seems a very short voting period, but hey ho. Results will be announced in "tomorrow's" show!
Right, last night all the things above happened, and tonight we begin with a pro dance to The Edge of Glory. All the men have their chests out. Flavia is showing off those enviable abs. Erin probably is too, but she and Anton are kept well out of camera shot because of the amount of Latin content this routine has.
Tess is here, in a beige dress that is stretched over her bosom. I thought it was a gown, but it's knee-length and not as nice as I originally thought. Never mind, Tess. Tonight is Bruce's night off, meaning we have a Claudia! [I'd completely forgotten about that, so it was a nice surprise. Although half of Twitter seems to have forgotten all about last series, given the amount of "Where's Bruce? Is he dead? Why is Claudia there?" tweets that filled my timeline. - Steve]
Backstage recap: Pasha and Chelsee thank each other; Edwina says the foxtrot is not her; Audley is happy with two positive Craig comments; Alex and James cackle about her kissing John Prescott; Dan is "befuddled"; Lulu and Brendan pretend they like each other; Holly is concerned about breaking her neck; Rory is FIFTY, which is no SIXTY-TWO; Robbie is shaking; Robin flaps about Anita forgetting things and then picking it up, and then looks a bit cross that anyone may liken him to a dog; Nancy does not think the judges were right; Harry pretends that he got low marks because of his dancing rather than Aliona being inept [bless him, such a gentleman - Steve]; and Russell squees about how much he loves everything.
Back to Tess, who is wearing some kind of gladiatorial armour on her right arm as decoration. She has some results for us, and couples through to next week are: Robbie and Ola; Lulu and Brendan; Jason and Kristina; Alex and James; Holly and Artem; and Chelsee and Pasha. And in the bottom two are Audley and Natalie. BOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Racialist British public! (On Twitter, someone comments that perhaps it's delayed payback from his insipid performance against David Haye. I love the idea that boxing fans are conspiring to skew the voting on Strictly.) Alesha is disappointed; Bruno talks about Alex. Seriously. That's what happens.
Claudia talks to the safe couples. She calls Robbie a "clever human" and teases him about his hair; Alex says it's strange how nervous she is because she's used to live TV; and Lulu is relieved about not going home.
Now we have a musical interlude with Will Young! Is he still going? Apparently so. He has brought his own troupe of androgynous dancers, because he is too grand to dance with the Strictly pros.
Then the judges wander up to talk to Claudia in a weird It Takes Two/main show hybrid. There is a new Len's Lens gimmick, where some stuff is slowed-down. They show Nancy and Anton, and Len wonders if Nancy was doing a salsa and Anton was doing a foxtrot. Bruno laughs at Nancy saying the judges were wrong, concluding that she is barmier than he is. Alesha says that Chelsee dances with her heart, much like Alex in Flashdance, and you cannot teach that. Craig comments on Robbie's panache and style and how well he coped with the umbrella ("Ella! Ella!" interjects Bruno). Bruno then talks about how well Anita covered up her mistakes - "and GOOD FOR HER!" [If that was her covering up the mistakes well, I'd hate to see what her fucking up completely looks like. - Steve] Slow-mo Russell is faintly terrifying, and the judges beam with delight at how happy he looks.
Small skit promoting next week's Broadway week , featuring Edwina as Elphaba and Chelsee as Glinda from Wicked, and Nancy as Mary Poppins. Also a pantomime cow, which is not and never has been on Broadway. Weird.
More results. Safe are: Anita and Robin; Rory and Erin; Dan and Katya; Harry and Aliona; Russell and Flavia; and Nancy and Anton, leaving Edwina and Vincent in the bottom two.
Len doesn't want Edwina to go; Craig is laughing in anticipation of Broadway week. Claudia talks to the couples in the bottom two - Vincent is devastated already, Audley and Edwina pat each other's hands.
VT montage - Audley doesn't want to go home because he has flown from California; he wants people at home to be excited by his dancing; Edwina would be gutted if she was first out; she claims to be a hot Latin chick. Ah well. Time for the moment of truth - the first ones to leave the competition are Edwina and Vincent. The giants Audley and Natalie go to hug them and it's really quite farcical. Edwina says all the mistakes were her fault; Vincent says he has had fun with her, which he wasn't expecting because she is "a politicianist".
So that's the first elimination! Join us next week for Broadway week, in which I will no doubt be commenting about how particular songs were only used in film versions of musicals, not the staged ones, and how a show they're using never went to Broadway, only the West End! Sounds fun, yes? [Erm... - Steve] We'll see you then - and until that time, keeeeeeeeeeeeeeep dancing!