Sunday, 13 November 2011

Audley predictable

Top 9: 12th November 2011

Last week: the ballroom was a firework, presumably one that goes BLERP MERP WURP as it shoots across the TURPS BURPS PERPS. Russell Grant titted around on a mechanical bull while dressed like Penfold from DangerMouse and pretty much reached the point where Carrie and I lost all patience with him. Meanwhile, Jason's serial killer rumba bored Alesha, and Chelsee was deemed "most like Jennifer Grey" by Jennifer Grey herself. Best of all, Bloody Lulu was sent packing. Hooray!

This week: oh God, it's all going to be about wanting to get to BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY. Just kill me now. The Voice Of Tess, in a peculiar accent for some reason reminiscent of Queen Elizabeth II, tells us to get ready for "kick-orf". This! Is Strictly Come Dancing 2011!

Titles! I miss Nancy. I also love how even in the two seconds' worth of screentime they have together here, it's so very obvious how Bloody Lulu and Brendan couldn't stand each other.

Live in the studio, we have a Bruce, and we have a...dear God, WHAT IS THAT? This week, Tess appears to have come wearing half a Christmas cracker wrapped in Astroturf. It's possibly the most deranged outfit she's worn in any series to date. If this were a special St Patrick's Day episode, I could almost understand the logic behind it, but on a cold and dark Saturday in November? I'm baffled. Bruce arrives late to grab Tess for the end pose, and she looks unimpressed. Bruce tells us that it's nice to see us, to see us nice, and YAY NANCY IS IN THE AUDIENCE! I live in hope that she might just rush the dancefloor at some point in order to treat us to the jive that we never got to see. Don't let me down, Dell'Olio. Bruce shills his album, and completely trips over the punchline to his opening joke, which involves Gok Wan. Let's just leave it there, shall we? Tom and Danny McFly are in the audience, looking about as impressed with Brucie's comic timing as I am. Given that Harry's on this show and Dougie's in the jungle, shouldn't one of them be training for Dancing On Ice at this point? Come on, chaps, if you don't pull your finger out, there may come a moment when none of you are in a reality show, and that would never do.

Bruce and Tess remind us that next week is BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY, and then it's time to meet the stars of our show: Russell and Flavia (Russell's conservatively attired this evening, apart from the glittery eyeshadow, just in case we have forgotten that HE IS GAY), Chelsee and lovely Pasha, Holly and temporary (OR IS HE?) partner Brendan, Audley and Dame Natalie, Harry and Aliona (both rocking the maroon velvet look tonight, it has to be said), Anita and Robin, Robbie and Ola, James and Alex, and Jason and Kristina. Everyone has the obligatory boogie, and Brendan has never looked happier now that he's free of the millstone that was Bloody Lulu.

Bruce suggests that we must all want to welcome back Len. Not especially, Brucie. Everyone cheers for Craig no longer being head judge, and Brucie suggests that's the first time Craig has ever been cheered for anything. Tess points out to the unobservant members of the audience that Holly is dancing with Brendan this week, because Artem is dead or injured or on holiday or something, and Future Head Judge Karen Hardy appears to wave at us from her prime seat next to Michael Ball in the interactive commentary box. [Maybe Michael Ball could be on Future Head Judge Karen's panel. He has judging form, after all. - Carrie]

Up first are Alex and James. The running order for this show series needs to be shaken up a bit, because poor Alex is always early. I mean, I know she's not exactly someone you save to be looked forward to at the end, but last week was the only time she'd even been in the second half of the show. Bruce says that due to her hectic work schedule, Alex is starting to feel tired, but not nearly as tired as his jokes. Or something like that. Last week, Alex's dress got caught in her heel, but James was proud of her for carrying on regardless, even if it meant that some steps as delivered were not quite as intended in his ALWAYS FLAWLESS CHOREOGRAPHY THAT MUST NEVER BE QUESTIONED CRAIG. They fell over at the end, and Alex didn't mind because she thought she'd done well to even get to that point. This week, they've got the jive, and Alex thinks they should make a fitness DVD: "Jive Away The Jelly". Heh. The theme for their VT does not, for a change, involve James screaming at Alex until she cries, but instead suggests that she is fitter than he, despite not being a professional dancer. James ends the VT hocking up a loogie into the bin. Lovely.

Their jive is to 'River Deep, Mountain High', and they're dressed as cheerleaders. The Literal Choreography Klaxon is sounded as Alex dances the first few steps with a rag doll (while Erin Boag submits a legal challenge for theft of intellectual copyright), before James spoils everything by actually turning up. It's far from the total mess I was expecting: the energy levels are good, Alex's footwork isn't too bad, and it's a fun routine to watch, but the real drawback here is the kick section, where Alex's legwork is a little lumpy. There's also a bit near the end where it looks like she misses a connection, although they cover it fairly well. The routine ends with James stealing Alex's ragdoll (NOT A EUPHEMISM, THANK GOD) and Alex pouting because James is mean, as we know.

Alex expresses relief that they didn't fall over this week, while Brucie welcomes the fabulous singers, Dave Arch, his wonderful orchestra, and the judges. Bruce reminds viewers that Jennifer Grey is not looking rough this week, it's just that Len's back. Phew, for a minute there I thought her latest facelift had gone horribly, horribly wrong. Bruce tells Len that it wasn't the same without him: it was better. Many a true word spoken in jest, and all that. Len was worried when they started with the doll (because just in case we've forgotten during his week off, Len is not a fan of MUCKIN ABAHT) but he thinks Alex has blossomed, and busted out all over the place. Let's hope he never says that to Chelsee, I'm still not entirely sure she's recovered from Hallowe'en week. He thinks the kicks could've been sharper and she missed one of the passes, but it was full of verve and gusto, as opposed to Len, who's just full of gust. Alesha thinks Alex's energy is commendable and she can tell her confidence is growing, so now she just needs to refine her steps by remembering to point her toes and finish her moves. Bruno thinks she had the enthusiasm of a manic cheerleader, and she really went for it. He echoes Len's comments about missing the pass (because she went on the wrong foot, apparently) and Alesha's comments about needing to flick correctly (FNAR), but he had such fun. Craig thinks the effigy is a remarkable likeness of James (heh), and thought the performance was confident, though there's no real accuracy and precision in the steps, and she needs to learn to point the kicks to delineate the lines. For once, James deems this "fair comment", presumably because it's Alex being criticised and not him.

The three of them (yes, including the doll) trot up to the Tess Circle, where Tess invites Alex to "rewind, six years ago, to the start of this". That joke's just too easy, isn't it? Alex says that James has done an incredible job with her and she never thought she'd be able to do this ("nor did I," James chips in chivalrously) but it was nice to give it a good go. Scores: Craig 7, Len 8, Alesha 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 31. They're very happy with that.

Robbie and Ola are next - a "very popular couple", Bruce assures us. Robbie's VT this week involves more whining about how the JUDGES ARE MEAN (for the so-called "bad boy of football", he's got an awfully thin skin, hasn't he?) while Ola points out that Robbie focuses on the negative comments and doesn't hear all the positive feedback that he gets. Robbie tells us that his dream is to get to BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY, and in true comedy VT style, he runs into a goalpost and passes out, which leads him to have a vision of a visitation from Fairy Godmother Ola, who fires glitter at him out of her nose. Job done.

They're dancing an American Smooth to 'Sway', involving sexy seductress Ola inviting Robbie - who's perched on the steps to the Tess Circle - to dance with her, prompting Robbie to do a "who, me?" face at a level of abject hammery that Pamela Stephenson would've been proud of. His top line is pretty good, but a lot of the turns are awfully tottery and the lifts are some of the most inelegant I've seen since this monstrosity, possibly relating to the fact that spins (especially standing spins) are not Robbie's strong suits, and all the lifts involve a lot of spinning.

Alesha tells Robbie that he's a real ballroom boy, and that the lifts were great if erratic at times, but he's constantly moving in the right direction. "I blame Ola," says Bruce, nonsensically. Bruno tells Robbie that he's a "smooth operator" and he likes the variety of steps in the routine, but sometimes it was a bit rough. He likes the way Robbie can "sway both ways", which causes the audience to laugh hysterically because LOL BISEXUALITY, though for once Bruno wasn't actually making a crass pun, but in fact admiring the elements of Latin within a ballroom routine, which he doesn't see often. [I loved that he appealed to Ola to say that she understood what he meant, and she nodded but pulled an epic confused face. - Carrie] Craig thought Robbie had beautiful arm placement in the running promenades, but he needs to be aware of his arms at other times because his hands tend to do a weird scrunched up thing, but he loved the mix of style and control in the lifts, and on the whole he thought it was rather good. (There's a cut to Nancy in the audience here, practically rolling her eyes. Oh, Nancy ♥.) Len suggests that Robbie's two outstretched fingers in that weird pose were actually directed at Craig, and goes on to say that Robbie is getting better and better.

They make a triumphant run up to the Tess Circle, and Ola is just repeating "WOW! WOW!" with all the sincerity of the faces she makes in the launch show when she "discovers" who her partner is this year. I love Ola. Robbie says that he wants to get to BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY next week. Tess asks Ola if she was worried about being dropped, and Ola says that she wasn't while pulling an "I seriously was" face. Scores: Craig 7, Len 8, Alesha 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 31. For once, Robbie is happy with Craig's score. Blimey, what will he have to bitch about on Twitter now?

Up next are Audley and Natalie, "another couple that you all love, I know" says Bruce. Yes, that's why they've been in the bottom two twice in a row and three times overall. Last week, Alesha recommended that Audley have a go at fisting (at least that's what it looked like she was saying, with the sound off) and Audley was proud to have got his highest score last week when he was under pressure, even though he was in the bottom two again. In light of Bloody Lulu's eventual elimination, Audley treats us to a few bars of Destiny's Child's 'Survivor'. Natalie explains that she's trying to teach Audley to lead her properly this week, but it does not appear to be going well.

Speaking of things not going well, their cha cha cha is to 'Uptight (Everything's Alright)' and despite Dame Natalie Lowe wearing a lovely dress and really doing her best to sell the routine, this just isn't happening. Audley's completely flat-footed to the point of barely even moving at all, there's no hip action whatsoever, and I'm not even all that sure he's trying particularly hard. I think he knew his time was up this week and it's affecting his performance. Still, at the end Natalie exclaims "AW MY GOD YOU DID IT!" in her best bogan drawl.

Bruno starts by telling Audley that he really likes him (heh), but says there was no timing or precision: "the National Rail on a bank holiday has got better timing". He liked the personality, but at this stage there needs to be more impact on a Latin dance, before reiterating again that he likes Audley. "YOU JUST DON'T WANNA GET PUNCHED!" giggles Natalie. I find myself wondering if she's drunk. Craig says that it was leaden, heavy, and laboured, and he's afraid to say it was not Audley's finest hour. Len speculates that Audley's best chance of getting to Wembley is "on the Jubilee Line" and says that Craig and Bruno are "wrong" (I love how the other judges "disagree" with each other, while Len just calls people "wrong" when he doesn't like what they said) because it had timing and rhythm, and while it wasn't Audley's best dance, he did his best. He did? Alesha thinks the others are right, and that this dance exposes Audley's troubles, because he's better in ballroom.

Up in the Tess Circle, Natalie opens by telling Audley that he always manages to do the best performance on the night, and he should be congratulated for that. Aww, Natalie. I do love her. Audley quibbles about which station Wembley's on, because he thinks it's the Metropolitan Line (it's served by both of them, I checked, CAN WE MOVE ON PLEASE) [No! Wembley Park is Metropolitan and Jubilee Line, Wembley Central is Bakerloo Line. - Tube geek Carrie]. Audley says that being in hold in ballroom is more suited to him than Latin, but he gave it his best shot. Scores: Craig 3, Len 6, Alesha 6, Bruno 5 for a total of 20. "Where's Craig going with 3?" asks Audley. A lot further than that cha-cha-cha ever went, let's be honest, Audley.

Harry and Aliona are next - the audience start screaming before Bruce can ever get to Aliona's name, leaving him spluttering indignantly "he's got a partner!" Heh. Last week, Harry was very pleased with his performance, as were his nipples. He notes that the competition is getting harder, so he'll need to up his game every week. Rehearsals for their Argentine tango are interrupted by the arrival of Tom and Danny, who are apparently a bit bored with half their band off on Reality Show Leave, so they've turned up dressed as gauchos to help out. Harry indicates that this is the opposite of helpful. Tom and Danny do a little dance with each other, and are substantially better than Bloody Lulu.

Their routine is to 'Asi se Baila el Tango', and it's a wonderfully sharp routine with lots of intricate movement, lots of leg-intertwining, and lots of pressing up against each other, which is pretty much what I'm looking for in an Argentine tango. Aliona's actually delivered a serious piece of choreography for once, so it's nice to see that she can do it when she sets her mind to it.

Tom and Danny are very impressed, and Harry gets a standing ovation (a proper, spontaneous one, apparently), but what will the judges make of it? Craig thinks it had authority, dominance, command, control (alt + delete?), filth and he loved it. Len, in full bitchface mode, says that he "understands Craig", and "understands the audience, standing and everything else". Nice. He thought it was a clever routine - note that he said "clever" rather than "good", because Len would sooner pickle his walnuts than say something positive about Aliona's choreography - but didn't see any intensity. Poor Aliona - she really can't win with Len, can she? [No. But she doesn't care, apparently, so they're both as bad as each other. - Carrie] Len didn't feel like he'd beeen transported to a club in Buenos Aires. At this point I'd gladly pay for him to feel like that, as long as he was actually there. There are boos and hisses, and Craig protests that it was full of passion, prompting Len to exclaim "there was no passion, you silly little sod!" Wow. Seriously, can we have Jennifer Grey back? Alesha tells Harry she thinks Len is jetlagged, and she thinks the routine was strong, sexy and passionate (Len is mumbling "give over!" in the background, because heaven forfend any of the other judges actually be allowed to talk or anything) and she thinks he delivered the intensity that the routine required. Bruno called it "moodier than a thunderstorm in the Pampas!" (compare and contrast with "a thunderstorm in Pampers", which is what Len's having right now): strong, manly and with a mean streak. He loved the ganchos, and he thinks Harry has never been stronger or more attractive. Bruce advises Harry to run from Bruno, because he is a Predatory Gay (unlike Russell, who is a Harmless Gay. Don't get confused).

Up in the Tess Circle, Harry is diplomatic about Len being a total wanker, and everyone else just agrees to ignore Len entirely. Hooray! Scores: Craig 9, Len 8 (fuck off Len), Alesha 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 37, Harry's highest score so far, despite Len's best efforts to scupper him.

Jason and Kristina are next. He got lukewarm reviews for his rumba last week, but vows to fight back from this terrible setback. He's having trouble getting the hang of the spins for his Viennese waltz, so Kristina sticks him in a gyroscope. They then attempt to dance, and "comically" a "dizzy" Jason crashes into the camera operator. There's also a random interlude from Kylie, telling Jason that she's been watching the show and he still looks as good as he did 20 years ago. That's...nice, I guess.

They're dancing to 'Iris', and Jason is doing Faces again, though the dance itself is very smoothly delivered, very lyrical, and well in keeping with the music. He attempts a fleckerl that looks pretty accomplished, so we know Len'll be happy. It loses a bit of pace near the end, and the final spin where Kristina arches herself right back is a bit off-balance, but on the whole, it was pretty decent. Shame that he once again ends it with a serious Serial Killer Face though.

Len loved the footwork, the movement, and the fleckerl, and liked it a lot in general. I wait for a "but" that never comes. Alesha loved the drama, the connection and the movement around the floor. Bruno thought it had real drive and that Jason was back in the zone tonight. He thought the intricate choreography was used to Jason's advantage. Craig thinks the dance could be a 10, but it's not because Jason's arms are letting him down, because he's not extending all the way and shaping his hands properly. Kristina is doing an epic face of outrage at this. Len grizzles about Craig "picking on his thumbs", having not five minutes ago just berated Harry and Aliona for a perceived "lack of intensity" that no one else saw. I wish Len could issue some sort of pre-show briefing as to what is and what isn't open to criticism, because I get so confused. Actually, I wish Len would just fuck off, that would be a lot easier. It's left to Alesha and Bruce to try to shut Len up. They should get paid extra for that.

In the Tess Circle, Tess makes no effort to disguise that she's reading off her cue cards, while Jason laments that everything felt right this week and yet obviously it wasn't working for Craig. Jason is very excited about the prospect of BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY next week, and talks about the amount of "talent" in the competition, getting all LOLGAY about it. Scores: Craig 8, Len 9, Alesha 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 35. Bruno's score shows up as 8 on the screen, and the total therefore at 34, and Tess deals with this spectacularly poorly, like dead-air poorly. Brendan shouts excitedly about the prospect of BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY next week, and James covers his mouth.

Randomly, there is now some incredibly pointless BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY-related filler involving some point in history when Bruce was at Wembley for a football match, and wearing red trousers. I'm not recapping it because it is shit and overlong and pointless. We return to the studio, and Tess confirms that it was a 9 from Bruno, and therefore 35 in total. Good, glad that's settled.

Next up are Chelsee and Lovely Pasha. She was very excited about getting straight nines last week. Apparently since Chelsee is prone to shaking her thang in training and snorting when she laughs, this must mean that she is far too common for Saturday night primetime BBC1, and must therefore play the role of Eliza Doolittle to Pasha's Henry Higgins. This VT is kind of offensive, but Chelsee and Pasha are both so completely adorable in it that I'm willing to let it go. [Pasha imitating Chelsee's snorts and miming chicken-wing movement was precious. - Carrie]

They're dancing a foxtrot to 'Doesn't Mean Anything' by Alicia Keys, which is basically the same song as 'Just The Way You Are' by Bruno Mars, which Harry and Aliona used for their foxtrot. The poor singer charged with delivering the song can't reach the notes at all, and it's pretty painful to listen to. Now, we all know by now that foxtrots are a bit of a snooze for me, but this one seems put together pretty well - Chelsee's holding herself correctly, there are some lovely flourishes from Pasha to liven it up now and then, and the footwork looks pretty precise. Unfortunately, about three-quarters of the way through, Chelsee loses her balance on one of the spins and sort of hops around - it's a minor thing, but noticeable enough that it's distracting.

Bruce commends Chelsee on the slide at the end of the routine, and Chelsee pretends to have hurt her back doing it, sending Bruce into Super Panic Mode in case we have to send Chelsee to Invalidsville with Artem. Alesha calls it elegant, graceful and with wonderful arm placement and great control - she thinks Chelsee is the one to beat. Bruno calls her gorgeous and sophisticated, and says he adores her. Craig said that she hopped on that last turn, but she's starting to tick all of his boxes. Len says that she needs to work on her footwork a little bit more, but he loved watching her because he doesn't expect her to be this elegant. Backhanded compliment ahoy! Mind you, I remember when they were doing all of this to Alesha four years ago. This show does love its stereotypes. Chelsee attempts to leave before Bruce gives her permission, and well, who could blame her for trying? Not I.

Up in the Tess Circle, Tess asks Chelsee if she's still in character as a lady. "By gosh I am," Chelsee replies, and Pasha cracks up. So adorable. Scores: Craig 9, Len 8, Alesha 10, Bruno 9 for a total of 36. Chelsee leaps up squealing into Pasha's arms at the 10, as would we all. I have to say though, despite my general stance as the internet's biggest defender of Alesha, even I think it was a bit much to give out a 10 for a routine where the contestant clearly lost her balance, but there you go.

We move on to Anita and Robin, and Bruce reminds us that since that old crone Bloody Lulu got kicked out, Anita is now the oldest person in the competition. We flash back to last week where Jennifer Grey called Anita a "national treasure" and Anita says that she didn't realise she'd become one, but now she wants to be a global one. I may now start using "global treasures" as a euphemism for boobies. Robin explains that the hard part of the Argentine tango for them is the intensity, because normally they're all about the lulz. To tackle this problem, Robin tests Anita's resolve by tickling her with a feather duster, warning her not to laugh. To be honest, I think a much more impressive test of Anita's resolve would be if the show pretended Robin was straight again - if she could get through that without laughing, she can do anything.

Their routine is to 'Tango' from Cirque du Soleil (according to Wikipedia, anyway), and Anita's intense face looks a little bit drunken. There are some nice moments in the routine, but I can't shake the feeling that it reminds me of that episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte makes a deal with the shoe salesman with a foot fetish that he can continue groping her as long as he gives her free shoes. (That imbecilic and offensive plotline, incidentally, is one of the reasons why I have only ever seen about two episodes of that show, and why I consider it to be a hideous pustule on the face of popular culture.)

Bruno likens the routine to Basic Instinct and calls her "sexy mama, queen of drama". Oh Bruno, you'll always be the queen of drama. Craig didn't think Anita was always responding to Robin's lead, and there needs to be more cross and throwaway to the ganchos, but he loved the spins and the routine as a whole. Len liked the smoulder of the dance and the mood and atmosphere, though I'd be at a loss to tell you what Anita and Robin did that Harry and Aliona didn't, other than "not involve Aliona". [That's fair enough. I like dances much better when Aliona is not there. - Carrie] Alesha thinks Anita looks sensational because she is INSPIRATIONAL OLDER WIMMINZ, though she needs to work on strengthening her body (from a dance perspective, obviously, not a physical perspective because WE LOVE YOU LYNDA BELLINGHAM ANITA DOBSON JUST AS YOU ARE!), but the overall mood was wonderful, as Len said.

They scamper up to the Tess Circle, where Tess does not actually give Anita an opportunity to say anything, but I do notice that Harry gives a polite little bob when the queen of drama presents herself. He's got such lovely manners, that one. Scores: Craig 7, Len 9, Alesha 8, Bruno 9 for a total of 33.

Our penultimate couple for the evening are Holly and Brendan. Holly explains in VT form that last week she and Artem almost didn't perform as a result of his back injury, and Artem says that he told the doctors all the hard work would mean nothing if he didn't get to perform. Such a diva, that one. There's a really bizarre shot of Artem's dance shoes lying on their side in the hospital which, if this were a drama and not a reality show, would mean that he was dead. Fortunately, Artem got told by the doctors that it was fine for him to dance as long as he could cope with the pain. Holly says that she wasn't surprised by how well he handled it because she knew he was "going to go and be all Russian about it", but she was impressed to do so well on the leaderboard. There follows a VT in which Brendan quite literally rides to Holly's rescue, a performance that Holly commits to about as much as she commits to everything else on this show. I love Holly so much. There's a weird ménage à trois thing going on because although Brendan is Holly's dance partner for the week, Artem is still choreographing and refusing to remain in his chair despite medical advice (in other words, he's still being all Russian about it). Holly vows to make him proud.

They're dancing a rumba to 'Leave Right Now', and no disrespect to Artem, but I think the first half of this routine is the best Holly's ever danced on this show. I don't know whether she's trying harder so as not to let him down (as laissez-faire as her attitude to the show has been generally, I think she genuinely feels a responsibility not to get herself eliminated in his sick week) or whether she has better chemistry with Brendan than she does with Artem (because she totally does), but whatever the reason, it's working. It does, unfortunately, go a bit wrong in the last 30 seconds or so as the drag across the floor lands a bit awkwardly, and Holly's attempts to move from there into having her legs crossed, and then from there into a standing position as Brendan supports her, are also about as smooth as Bruce's upper lip.

Craig starts off: "I thought we'd got rid of you, Brendan..." Heh. He does go on, however, to say that he's glad Brendan's back because he's loving this new partnership. Artem applauds up in the Tess Circle. Len thinks it was nice and precise, but he'd like to see Holly getting more emotionally involved. Ha! Good luck with that one, Lenners. He also wants her to look up more. Alesha thinks Holly coped well with the partner change, and all the basic rumba steps were there, and she thinks there's more to come from Holly. Bruno loves the sinuousness of Holly's body, and thinks it was a very very good routine.

They make their way up to the Tess Circle, where they're joined swiftly by Artem who gives Holly a big hug and declares the performance awesome. The three of them stand together, and I'm momentarily distracted by how Artem/Holly/Brendan would be a pretty awesome threesome. Admit it: you'd want to be in the middle of that, wouldn't you? Hell yeah. [I totally would. Don't tell Kara. - Carrie] Scores: Craig 8, Len 8, Alesha 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 34. Brendan says that it's been a fantastic week, that Holly is a gem, and that Artem's been working wonders with them. Seriously: HOTT. Tess asks, "Have we saved the best for last?"

Well, no, because it's Russell Grant. Still, never mind, eh? In his VT, we revisit his nonsense from last week, which I shall be ignoring as much as humanly possible. Russell says that he knows he may not have the technical know-how, but he's always going to be "Mr Showbiz". Greeeeeat. This week, he's dancing an American Smooth to 'I Am What I Am', because he is GAY, and his "training" VT involves multiple Russell Grants singing the song in some woods somewhere. Feel free to insert your own variation on the "Tulisa's really clutching at straws with this latest line-up for The Risk" joke here. A tired-looking Flavia says that because Russell loves this song so much (BECAUSE HE IS GAY), it's hard to get him to commit to learning the dance instead of singing along. I wouldn't think it matters much at this point to be honest, Flav.

Rundown of choreographic horrors: Russell using Flavia as a pretend piano, random paso doble shaping leftover from last week, promenades that seem very much at odds with the tempo of the backing music at that point, Russell disappearing behind a screen for a full fifteen seconds while Flavia fills furiously before emerging in a gold lamé suit. Hmm, maybe that acute accent shouldn't be there. I'll leave it up to you to decide. The biggest shame is that the dance content itself was reasonably accurate before the costume change, at which point all sense of rhythm and timing goes out the window and they just both run around like idiots jumping up and down. Really, when Russell gets away with this shit week after week, you can see why Aliona doesn't see why she should have to change the way she choreographs.

Len: "I am what I am, you are what you are, and that was what that was." The most sense he's made all night, I think. Alesha thinks it was a dance of two halves: "the first half had a good mix of steps, and the second half was just like a snapshot of your...imagination, which looks like a fun place to be." Heh. Bruno: "You couldn't wait to get out of that closet, could you?" I dunno, he spent about 17% of the routine in there, by my calculations. Bruno concludes: "You really are your own special creation." Craig, who has basically been reduced to single-word sentences by Russell, calls it "immortal".

Up to the Tess Circle they gay, where Russell tells Tess that if he gets to BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY, he's got a big entrance. LOL ANAL SEX. I'm so very tired of all of this now. Scores: Craig 5, Len 7, Alesha 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 26. Tess asks Russell if he's looking forward to "the roar of over 6,000 people"; Russell is more used to the roar of the over-sixties.

Leaderboard: Harry at the top for the very first time, Chelsee in second, Jason third, Holly fourth, Anita fifth, Alex and Robbie tied for sixth, Russell eighth and Audley is ninth.

The voting lines are opened, and we have a quick recap: Alex being sexy, cute and popular to boot; Robbie needing a loan of Kristina's gyroscope by the look of things; Audley just plain giving up; Harry and Aliona doing a proper routine for once to no avail; Jason and Kristina spinning around, Chelsee sliding on her bottom; Anita being harassed by a foot fetishist; two-thirds of a hot threesome; and some old homo in a shiny suit.

That's it! Someone's going home tomorrow night, and that person is clearly Audley. But who'll be joining him in the bottom two?

Results Show: 13th November 2011

It's Remembrance Sunday, so we're opening with a pro-Jitterbug featuring Ola, Flavia, Katya, James, Vincent and Pasha. Pasha's shirt is open to just above the navel, and...I'm sorry, I don't remember anything else. I was distracted.

Tess has changed out of "last night's" horror dress into one made almost entirely of Andrex, and Alesha appears to have followed suit. I suppose this must be the fashion. She welcomes the judges back to the show, and throws to Claudia, who's ignoring the dress code and wearing her usual black. Claudia teases the upcoming pro-dance from Robin and Kristina, and performances from Christina Perri and André Rieu.

Before all that, though, it's time for a recap VT, I think. Everyone is nervous before going on stage, as has become customary. Len was impressed by Alex's energy, and Alex thinks the effigy has potential to be better than James. He's more docile, certainly. Robbie got reviews that he couldn't whine about, and he hopes it's enough to get him to BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY next week. Audley wonders if the public keep saving him because Craig has never given him a decent score. I doubt it, love. Len threw a snit fit about Harry and Aliona's Argentine tango, and is gross about it backstage, doing his usual "wurr gwon" mutterings about how Harry needs to sizzle more in future, while Harry and Aliona declare it their best night so far. Jason says that he's here for the long haul, so getting the odd bit of negative feedback doesn't hurt. Chelsee was pleased about being sophisticated and ladylike, but found it hard work. Len thinks she has a naturalness about her. Anita's Argentine tango got good reviews, and she and Robin celebrate their pair of nines backstage. Brendan says that this was one of his best weeks on Strictly, while somewhere in Scotland a drunken Bloody Lulu hurls abuse and fistfuls of Twiglets at the telly. Holly is nervous about BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY. Len suggests that because Russell has a wonderful time when he dances, we all do too. I beg to differ. Len concludes by saying that all the judges agreed Audley's dance was his worst, and therefore he deserved to be bottom of the leaderboard.

In no particular order, the following couples are through to BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY: Robbie and Ola, Chelsee and Pasha, Jason and Kristina and Holly and Brendan. The first couple in the bottom two tonight is...Audley and Natalie. They both do "WHAT A COMPLETE SURPRISE, NO REALLY" faces.

Tess turns to Alesha to ask if Audley and Natalie can survive another bottom two. Alesha is all "*shrugs*", but notes that he can hold his head up high whatever happens. Okay then. Len chips in that the standard of dancing at this point is ZOMG BEST EVARZ and he can't wait for the show to continue.

Claudia is up on the balcony with the safe couples, and turns first of all to Mr Arm Placement, aka Robbie. She asks how happy he is to have finally broken Craig down. Robbie is very happy about this. Then she and Chelsee discuss getting her first ten and Claudia points out Chelsee's complete lack of self-belief, asking if she feels like a dancer yet. Chelsee does not feel like a dancer yet and does not think she is good at it. Claudia despairs. Claudia asks Jason about BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY and he says that it's so famous they've even heard of it in Australia, so it's somewhere they all wanted to get to.

Time for a performance by Christina Perri of 'Jar Of Hearts', which Claudia references as having become a huge success after one performance on "an American dance show". I love that So You Think You Can Dance has become such a painful memory for the BBC that they can no longer mention it by name. Regrettably, this song's main point of reference in the UK is having been performed by Biscuit on The X Factor. [I have never heard of this person or this song, but it was fucking awful. That is all I have to say about it. - Carrie] It's accompanied by a very EMOTIONAL rumba from Robin and Kristina, including some frankly suicidal lifts. Blimey.

After this, it's time to join Claudia and the judges back up on the balcony for Len's Lens. There is no shot of Len behind the camera, which once again shows us how he does not show the same commitment to making this show work that Jennifer Grey did last week. First up is Audley's mic track during his routine, where he was singing along and whooping, God love him. From there we move on to Jason and Kristina's routine, and Len tells us that when he sees a fleckerl, he always likes it. This is BRAND NEW INFORMATION, of course. Alesha talks a bit more about Chelsee not realising how good she is, and pointing out that she hasn't trained as much as everyone else because of Waterloo Road which makes the achievement even more impressive. Unfortuately, Alesha then decides to ruin this by pointing out that it is good that Chelsee is humble. NO ALESHA, HUMILITY IS NEVER GOOD. IT'S COMPLETELY RUINED MISHA B. Claudia turns to Craig and suggests that he was "pernickity" about the kicks in Alex and James's jives and thinks he will change his mind when he sees it in slo-mo. Guess what? This does not happen. Alesha wonders if that was the style they were going for, and Craig points out that there is no such style. Next up is Bruno's face after Anita's routine, where he is basically getting all hot under the collar. Bruno thinks that when somebody puts that much effort into a performance, he just responds to it, adding that Anita always gets the character right. Claudia then makes the unwise decision to poke at Len's Big Sack Of Crazy by asking him about Harry's Argentine tango. Len still believes that this "lack of intensity" is a thing that we can all see, because he is utterly delusional. Len snits that he gave one an eight and one a nine, so it's not like there was a lot of difference in it. Oddly enough, he doesn't suggest everyone else follow my technique of dealing with Len's idiosyncrasies by just pretending he doesn't exist. Finally, a shot of Russell being LOLGAY. I know I can't get enough of those.

Back to Tess now and the remaining couples. Also advancing to next week are: Harry and Aliona and Russell and Flavia. Russell is vile here, running down the stairs screaming "oooooh woooooow" and jumping up and down, bypassing his usual tactic of "aggressive humility" and just going for flat-out "obnoxious". The other couple in the bottom two is Anita and Robin, which means Alex and James are safe and through to BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY. Anita's face crumples. Bruno provides the obligatory shocked reaction because Anita is always SO GOOD, so he does not know why people are not voting for her. "Don't blame the judges!" he insists. Fat chance - she'd have probably been there sooner if you hadn't insisted on overscoring her most weeks. Tess asks Craig how best to succeed in BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY and Craig says that the performances need to be broader and more theatrical because of the bigger space. Yep, you heard, he just gave Russell Grant licence to be more theatrical. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, CRAIG.

Claudia reminds us that it is Remembrance Sunday, and we see a VT of Vincent and Flavia dancing at Silence In The Square. People are very happy to see them and moved by their dancing. The end.

Then we have André Rieu performing 'We'll Meet Again', joined by the Johann Strauss Orchestra as Anton and Erin deliver us a lovely waltz. My focus is distracted by the fact that the part of the song you don't hear as much sounds a lot like the theme from Disney's Winnie The Pooh.

Then Claudia's with the bottom two couples, and it is all old news for her as far as Audley's concerned. Audley suspects he might be going home tonight, especially now that he's up against Anita, and he says that she deserves to go through. Anita says that going from a personal best to going into the bottom two is a bit of a shock, and she'd be devastated to leave the show, but if people think it's time she went, that's just how it goes. Yeah, I really didn't think she'd cope with this moment well. VTs: Audley's is all "LOL BOTTOM TWO AGAIN", while Anita's is all about how she loves the show and doesn't want it to end. She wants people to share the joy that she is feeling.

Tess has the results, and repeats Len's Jubilee Line joke, which he and Natalie giggle at. She also reminds Anita that Bruno called her a "sexy mama queen of drama", but Anita's too distraught to have much of a reaction. The couple going home is...Audley and Natalie, of course. He hugs Anita and says lots of things to her about how it's only right that she stays, which is sweet of him. He heads over to Tess for a chat and says that it has been a very fun experience, before fundamentally misunderstanding how betting odds work: "I think I was 100/1 to go out the first week, so I hope all those people who lost money on me with the David Haye fight got their money back by supporting me now." I'm not much of a betting man, but I'm fairly sure he got every single aspect of that wrong, especially since 100/1 would've been his odds of winning, and he didn't win, so nobody would've made any money betting on that. Natalie is kind enough to thank everyone who voted for them for keeping them in this far. And really, this is not a bad placing for someone who was always destined for an early exit. As I've said before, I think Natalie deserves a lot of credit for getting him this far. RINGER FOR NATALIE NEXT YEAR PLEASE (AND ALSO KATYA THANK YOU). Tess says that Audley has been "knocked out but...never threw in the towel". Indeed.

And there we are! Next week is of course BLACKPOOL WEMBLEY for the biggest Strictly ever. He and Natalie have their final dance to the theme from Rocky, and that's their lot. Join Carrie next week as the remaining couples perform for a crowd of 6,000, otherwise known as "the approximate number of people still watching The X Factor". See you then!

1 comment:

Verns said...

Great blog, guys! Thank you. I, too, was pleasantly surprised to find myself liking one of Aliona's routines, until somebody pointed out that the Argentine Tangos (tangoes?) are choreographed for the couples by a specialist. Oh well, at least I can go back to disliking her choreography with a clear conscience.