Tx: 19th November, 2011
Greetings, children! Last week we had group sex fantasies involving the beauteous Holly Valance and her two leading men [and how! - Steve]; Tess wore the worst dress in her entire history of awful frockage, which is quite some achievement; Alex canoodled with an Ooga-Chucka baby; Bruno tried to out Robbie as a bisexual; and we had much disagreement about what tube lines serve the Wembley area. In case you'd forgotten, Audley's borrowed time finally ran out, meaning Dame Natalie Lowe is out of the competition for this year, and meaning that Steve can start his campaign for her and Katya to be partnered with ringers in 2012. [To be fair, my campaign started as soon as I saw who they'd been lumbered with *this* year. - Steve]
This week we're at Wembley, which is not Blackpool, but is serving the same purpose in that it is a) not BBC Television Centre and b) globally famous (except not just for ballroom competition reasons). More importantly, it will give many, many people on this show the opportunity to talk about having always dreamt of playing at Wembley (my guesses: Len, Robbie; I'm also wondering whether they'll wheel out Brian May to talk about Queen's gig at Wembley Stadium, particularly as, inspired by The X Factor's epic fail, our couples will tonight be dancing to the music of the other fab four in the opening number). I'm also expecting more woeful football-related skits, possibly mashed up with that godawful footage of Bruce doing half-time entertainment for some poor unsuspecting mid-1970s crowd. Ah, Strictly: it's so nice to have an impending sense of doom at the start of one's Saturday night viewing!
So yes. We begin with montage of the Wembley complex, and all our couples on a coach, in football kit, welcomed to the ground by Graham Taylor, otherwise known as England's worst manager ever. [I had no idea who he was, and I suspect that I will not have been alone in Strictly's broad audience of women and gays. - Steve] ME, I AM PSYCHIC. Time for a quick Russell IS GAY joke? Yes, I think so. Another montage of the couples playing head tennis around their rehearsal rooms, and we're ready for STRICTLY COME DANCING!
And we open with a group dance to We Will Rock You (sadly not the version improved by 5ive), which segues into Radio Gaga, which segues into Bohemian Rhapsody (featuring the judges as the singing heads), which segues into It's A Kind of Magic (complete with rhythmic gymnastics), which segues into One Vision (which has some small child cheerleaders doing acrobatics all over the place). This entire routine is a hot mess, as they always are when whoever choreographs it has this much space to work with (they're in the Wembley Arena). And it's exacerbated by Robbie failing to clap in sync with the others. And the singers not singing "Fried chicken!" at the end.
Here are Bruce and Tess, in a blue satin curtain which, while ugly, is not as bad as last week's abomination. Bruce is under the impression everybody is there to see him, and strings out his traditional greeting to quadruple the normal length. Finally it is time to meet the stars of our show - Russell and Flavia, Chelsee and Pasha, Holly and Artem (but not Brendan, who may be lurking with a baseball bat in hand ready to cosh his rival), Harry and Aliona, Anita and Robin, Robbie and Ola, Alex and James, and Jason and Kristina. That's eight couples. EIGHT COUPLES LEFT. And you thought it was nearly Christmas because you've seen the Coca-Cola advert. And in Future Head Judge Karen Hardy's magical perspex cage tonight is Olivier Award-winning actress and best-selling novelist and yoghurt pimp Martine McCutcheon! [I'd love to know what the take-up figures were like this week. Who on earth would put themselves through that voluntarily? - Steve]
First up, Robbie and Ola. Between them, their hair is 25% more blond and bigger than usual. They would like to get more than a 7 off Craig. Will they get it with their tricksy, lifty salsa? Robbie then delivers his scripted lines really unconvincingly, while dancing in the underpass that leads to the stadium. Because this is set up for a gag about dancing at the arena, not the stadium. Predictable Strictly is predictable. I find it so comfortingly reassuring.
Robbie is dancing on a podium to Let Me Entertain You, rips his shirt open, then wiggles off to meet up with Ola, who's in a lacy catsuit. Both of them jiggle their bosom at the other. And they both look tiny on this vast, vast floor. Robbie does a knee-slide, which comes nowhere near to being as good as the one Gethin did back in the day when he burnt a hole in his trousers. Not a great deal of salsa content, though.
After some inappropriate jokes about the Italian debt crisis, Len makes football-related puns about the routine, which he clearly thinks was rubbish but entertaining. Alesha says Robbie opened the show like a rock concert but it wasn't a fucking salsa. [I live in hope that now she's given out a 2, the gloves are officialy off and one day Alesha actually will say "it wasn't a fucking salsa". - Steve] Bruno wails about primeval fertility rites. Craig thinks it was flat-footed with no hip rotation. Scores - Craig 5, Len 7, Alesha 7 and Bruno 7 for a total of 26.
Alex and James are second, and for some reason they have offended the gods enough to be introduced by a Bruce Forsyth tap routine. What the actual fuck? Last week, Alex felt pressure to start the show off on a high, which is why she danced with a rag-doll. This week, they are doing the assertive, strong, powerful tango, and Alex is struggling with characterisation. So she does some role-play, acting as her One Show director while James attempts a pathetic Welsh accent in imitation of Alex.
They are tangoing to Relax, and their costumes are hideous. Not the most important point, perhaps, but relevant. The camerawork is weird - in some places it looks like it's running at half-speed, and for a significant proportion of the routine it focuses just on the upper body and whirls manically so you can't see the footwork. Alex's tango face, by the way, looks like she's sucking on a lemon.
Alesha says Alex's transition from last week is brilliant, and the tango had drama and was believable. Bruno waggles his eyebrows at Alex and then gropes Alesha for a bit, as is his wont. Craig says he believes we may be seeing some improvement, at which Alex and James hug each other and then seem to have some kind of costume malfunction. Len says he likes a proper tango danced beautifully. Scores - Craig 8, Len 9, Alesha 9 and Bruno 9 for a total of 35. James has an embolism and dies. [Hooray! - Steve]
Holly and the newly reinvigorated Artem now, although her rehearsal footage is with both of her boys. Artem was clearly hideously jealous (Kara, avert your eyes now!), and there's a lot of homoeroticism going on. Holly's sitting in a corner, watching with a sexily raised eyebrow: "Oh, you'd like me to join in now?" And after those thoughts Steve rightly raised last week, Holly really shouldn't be saying things like that. [Alternatively: she totally should. - Steve]
They're quickstepping to Valerie. Holly's dress is awful, and she's not picking her feet up enough leaving her partner to drag her round, but Artem's suit is sparkly and the routine is energetic. Bruno growls about Holly sometimes being maddening because she's not broken in properly. Craig criticises her balance and sloppiness, but he thought it was a fantastic routine. Len liked the use of space, and Alesha thought it was light and effortless. Well, she got the last bit right - Holly is the princess of lack of effort, but in a really cool way. Scores - Craig 7, Len 8, Alesha 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 31.
Now Anita and Robin, who were sad last week because people didn't vote for them despite her being a national treasure. She hugged her husband BRIAN MAY, who is her husband, and cried. However, now she is thrilled because she is going to Wembley. Robin thinks she needs some inspiration from somewhere, so they go to Albert Square and dance around. I was at LEAST hoping for a guest appearance from Strictly alumna Letitia Dean there, if not Leslie Grantham.
Goodness me, they are sambaing to Come On Eileen. I really have no words. It's the gayest thing I have seen in a long time. There is a significant amount of clapping, and some rather shaky footwork from Anita - shaky in the literal sense, I fear she's going to slip at any second. Not good. Craig begins by laying into her posture, and her "muddy and murky footwork", before mentioning his ever-present chum, the sticking-out thumb. Len likes that Anita always gives it 100 per cent, although it could have been a little bit sharper and crisper. Alesha thought it had energy and personality, but didn't think Anita embodied the natural samba groove, whatever the hell that means. Bruno loves Anita because she plays it for all it's worth, but she forgot the fire down below. Cystitis? Scores - Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 7 and Bruno 7 for a total of 27, all scores met with near-silence.
Harry and Aliona next. This week Aliona's been left to come up with some choreography herself, which can never end well. At least, not for Aliona when Len is judging. Last week they were at the top of the leaderboard with their Argentine tango; this week they are struggling because Harry can't move his hips, and because the Strictly producers are making them do a When Harry Met Sally rip-off, including Aliona faking an orgasm. Seriously, if that's how excited Aliona gets during sex, you have to pity her boyfriend. Or scorn her boyfriend, one of the two.
They're dancing to I'm Still Standing. BEST JIVE EVER! BLACKPOOL! ETC! I wander off to YouTube to look at clips of that as Harry throws Aliona about, but sadly does not drop her. Back on the screen, Aliona's pulling pathetic faces at Len, who's pathetically bitchy right back at her. [While you were watching St Halfpenny, you missed Len saying that this had everything he was looking for from a samba, having apparently not noticed that it was a salsa. Either the two dances really are as interchangeable as I secretly suspected, or Len's complete lack of experience with Latin is starting to show in his old age. - Steve] Bruno tells Harry to take more clothes off. Craig didn't think it had a groove, and it was devoid of hip action. Bruce tells Harry and Aliona not to listen to the judges. Yes, that's a plan that's bound to end well. As they run up to the Tess Circle, Brendan and James take Harry's shirt off him. Is that not assault? Scores - Craig 8, Len 8, Alesha 9 and Bruno 9 for a total of 34.
Next - Russell and Flavia. They blow kisses to the crowd, revelling in their glittery make-up and costumes. Russell says he couldn't wait to do the quick-change last week; this week they are doing something bigger. There is some plinky piano music as Russell takes Flavia to a hill in Middlesex to look at the lit-up Wembley arch. Dude, you could just stand on the bridge over the North Circular by Ikea, that'd give you a better view.
They are jiving to Reach by S Club 7. Flavia jives with sparklers as Russell lies in a glittery cannon and then flies across the dance floor. After the technicians manage to clear the floor of the debris, they proceed to dance the slowest jive I have ever seen, with some awful kicks and flicks. The routine ends with Russell looking at Flavia's vulva. Why? How? WHY? Alesha wheels out the platitudes about what he lacks in talent, he makes up for in entertainment. Bruno likens Russell to a satellite of madness. Craig says, "Dumbo springs to mind." OUCH. His one-word summary? "Revolutionary." Len has little to add, but however many great dancers there are in however many series there are, people will always remember Russell Grant being launched out of a bloody cannon. Word, Len. But that's not a good thing. [I'm going to make a point of forgetting it as soon as possible. - Steve] After pandering to the audience slightly, Russell tells Tess that he used to live in Wembley. REALLY? Scores - Craig 5 (generous), Len 6, Alesha 6 and Bruno 7 (for fuck's sake, Bruno) for a total of 24.
Now Chelsee and Pasha, who's showing us a tantalising glimpse of a nipple. Last week, it went better than anyone expected, because Chelsee has no self-esteem and the show is classist and racist. Some more dreadful acting from Chelsee and Pasha, some in front of a blue screen, and then it is time for their samba.
To Spice Up Your Life! Brave from Chelsee to start the routine by herself, and then go and rescue Pasha from molestation by a big wall of balloons. The samba rolls are a bit awkward, mainly because Chelsee has a sodding huge tailfeather affixed to her buttocks, but otherwise it's bouncy and fun fun fun fun fun. Bruno calls her "Chelsee Fierce" and then wails about a mistake ("Bless you, baby!") before calling it "near-perfect". Craig loves Chelsee's finishes, spins and bounce. Len says his night has been spiced up with that "proper samba", and Alesha says Chelsee captured the spirit of the samba. Scores - Craig 8, Len 9, Alesha 9 and Bruno 9 for a total of 35.
Finally, Jason and Kristina. (Whatever else I say about any of the contestants and pro dancers on this show, I have to give Kristina respect for sending a lovely message to a friend of mine whose husband is terminally ill - she didn't have to do that and it made my friend very happy.) Jason rehearses in a Miami Vice costume, and then imitates Adam Ant. And then himself, complete with blond mullet. Odd.
They burst through a paper clock, and are jitterbug-jiving to Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. Jason's footwork is skippy, and their legs aren't synchronised in the side by side pieces, but the stuff in hold looks good. Then Jason completely loses his place, and bless him, he stands there with foot pointed until he can work out when he should be kicking again. Not his finest hour, I think. Craig says it would have been phenomenal if he hadn't lost it and if there hadn't been two lifts, but it was an amazing routine. Len is disappointed for Jason because he has worked his socks off, and then announces that he is sick of illegal lifts and is putting everyone on notice that he is going to start to penalise people. I'll believe it when I see it. [Just when I thought the rules on lifts couldn't possibly get more arbitrary, Len proves me wrong. - Steve] Alesha reckons that the side by side bits were good, as was the energy. Bruno miaows about it being amazing. Jason cries about being overwhelmed by Wembley. What the fuck ever, Donovan, you've SUNG at Wembley Arena, which Tess points out, but more nicely. Scores - Craig 8, Len 8, Alesha 9 and Bruno 9 for a total of 34.
At the top of the leaderboard - fuck me, it's Alex and James, joint with Chelsee and Pasha. Russell and Flavia are, obviously, at the bottom, but, more obviously, have many more points than they deserved, and, even more obviously, won't go this week. So who will be our bottom two? Well, perhaps a freestyle jitterbug reminding us who our couples are will help you to decide (Holly can't even be bothered to freestyle and just wanders across the platform)! If not, just wait until tomorrow and find out then!
Good evening, everybody - we're back at Wembley for the Wembley results of the Wembley show, which was at Wembley! And what better way to open the show than with a Sixties-themed group hamming-it-up session to a Beatles medley? We have a "band" "live" on "stage", with Harry happily drumming away [bless - Steve]; and on the dance floor, we have two Minis and a red phone booth as well as a zebra crossing, which the men seem to use to apparently imitate the Reservoir Dogs rather than the Fab Four. The judges clamber out of the phone booth, and Bruno and Craig are so wired that I'm half-expecting them to segue into a routine to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. If you know what I mean.
It ends. And Tess and Claudia wander on, holding hands, which is oddly sweet. Daly Dresswatch - red, tight, lacy over the chest and sleeves, a bit tarty but nice for all that. Well done, Tess! Claudia is in a black smock, obviously, as she always is. After telling us about the musical acts that will be guesting on tonight's show, it's time for a backstage montage - Robbie liked the crowd; Alex never expected to get a 9 because she is HUMBLE; Holly would like to dance for the Wembley crowd every week [and yet she's not doing the tour. Heh. - Steve]; Len can imagine fancying Harry if he were a girl, because men never fancy other men, you see; Harry and Aliona reminisce about James and Brendan ripping off his shirt, to which Aliona says, "A first for you?" and Harry says, "Yeah," while shaking his head and scrunching up his nose at the camera, all the better for Steve's hoyay McFly fantasies [I'm QUITE sure I don't know what you mean. - Steve]; Russell does not think he has big ears like Dumbo; Pasha's nipples are still on show; Jason is disappointed because he fucked it up; Len believes the entire show to be "fabulous".
Whatever. Let's get some results! Who's safe? Anita and Robin! Robbie and Ola! Alex and James! But sadly Russell and Flavia are IN THE BOTTOM TWO. Thank you, Great British Public. Finally you see sense to some degree. Bruno is both surprised and unsurprised - obviously Russell is entertaining, but on the other hand he's shit, so you know.
Claudia likens Anita to a little pony, because La Dobson has gone all weepy and luvvie on us and thanking everyone like she's Kate Winslet at the Oscars. Robbie reckons dancing at Wembley is better than playing in the Carling Cup final. Yeah, cos the Carling Cup final is pointless and nobody cares about it any more. He then blubs about being hated when he played football but people must like him now. Shut UP, Savage. [I think an awful lot of people are spectacularly indifferent to him whatever sphere he's in. I know I am. - Steve] Alex squeals about never thinking a 9 was possible, and then that epitome of gentlemanly conduct James interjects, "I didn't think a 7 was possible." Seriously, Jordan, if it wasn't for the fact that Ola would leave too, I'd tell you to fuck off and never come back.
Now James Morrison and Jessie J are doing some sort of collaboration, maybe? I care for neither of them. Steve's more clued up than I am, perhaps he has some opinions. As far as I can tell, it's a caterwauling mess. [Nope, that's pretty much exactly what I would've said too. Carry on. - Steve]
Claudia is with the judges and Len's Lens. She shows a slow-mo clip of Craig being Brian May on wires last night - frankly, I couldn't even tell that was Craig, what with the massive wig and headbanging. Brian May judges Craig's lipsynching in Bohemian Rhapsody unfavourably. We then see a clip of Craig and Len dancing together. Careful, Len, don't want to catch the GAY. We then get a slow-mo of Robbie's leapfrog over Ola, which looks much much worse on second viewing. Alesha is enthusiastic about Jason's stamina. Fnar. We're encouraged to applaud Aliona's acrobatics, though not her choreography. And then we see Bruno dancing on tables and taking his clothes off, much to Alesha's horror. Bruno, Craig and Alesha are in fits of laughter and can barely sit up straight. And for a final giggle, we get to laugh at Russell touching a lady, because he's a homosexual and they are allergic to women. SIGH, show. SIGH.
More results, more safe couples - Chelsee and Pasha (and Pasha's nipple is exposed once more as Chelsee throws herself at him, causing his shirt to ruffle); Harry and Aliona. At this point, Holly is outright laughing, because she does not give a shit that she is in the bottom two [Holly ♥ - Steve], and Jason and Kristina are safe. So it's Holly and Artem v Russell and Flavia. This really shouldn't be a contest.
While we let this dramatic news sink in, Il Divo will sing Time To Say Goodbye for us. And yes, I know they are basically an operatic Westlife, but I would much rather listen to them sing this than Katherine bloody Jenkins. And they are better at singing than that bint who was on last week's result show with her dirge of a song. Although I did laugh out loud at the harmony that goes, "IT'S TIME TO SAY GOODBYE!" on a descending scale.
Claudia lies to Russell that she is shocked that he is in the bottom two, and he says he doesn't care because his goal was to get to Wembley, his home county. You should've mentioned it, Russell, like Craig Kelly did with Blackpool. Holly says she had a niggling feeling she'd be in the bottom two, and asked "Russ" to forecast her stars. HA! Oh, Holly, we love you.
A quick VT whereby Holly and Russell talk about not wanting to leave (you know the drill, guys, you've seen this show before), and we're back into the arena for the result. The couple leaving us this week - Russell and Flavia. Thank FUCK for that. Seriously, my argument on the "comedy" contestants is that if people vote them through, then they deserve their place, but Russell and Flavia's particular variety of can't-be-arsed camp choreography has worn very, very thin with me. Fortunately the Great British Public do tend to get rid of the joke acts a while before the final, so no matter how much frenzied media may try to ask, "CAN RUSSELL GRANT/ANN WIDDECOMBE/JOHN SERGEANT REALLY WIN STRICTLY?" the answer always has to be, "Yes, he/she can, but he/she won't." And thus my theory is proven.
Cheerio, Russell! Don't let the door hit you on the arse as you fire yourself out of the arena in a glittery cannon!
And that's it for this week. Join Steve next weekend for another instalment! Bye!