The show opens with an exhibition performance of what I'm fairly certain is a tango from the pro dancers. Everyone's taking part except Pasha and Iveta, and the couples appear to have been divided into good and evil, according to whether they're dressed in black or white. For those keeping score: Vincent, Flavia, Brendan, Natalie, Anton and Erin are good, while Robin, Kristina, James, Ola, Artem and Karen are evil. Draw whatever conclusions from that distribution that you feel fitting. They're dancing to 'Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps' and the general plotline is that all the evil dancers harassing the nice ones in all sorts of ways. I particularly enjoy the part where the Evils are all hanging out at the bar (manned by Craig Revel-Horwood, the smooth-talking bar-steward) and Kristina and Karen are giving overly energetic arm waves and mouthing "WHATEVER". Then the Evils intervene and start trying to steal the partners of the Goods (naturally, it's the women stealing the men, because we have centuries of social prejudice to inform such things). Still, it's a good routine, with another highlight being the part where the Goods dance behind the Evils as the Evil Men sit on a chair and fling the Evil Women over their shoulder, and Kristina misses kicking Erin in the head by seconds.
Once that's finished, Tess and Claudia arrive. Tess is wearing a hideous black and pink dress, while Claudia is all black lace and hunched shoulders. There's so much terrible posture on this show; I can only assume this is a direct result of the BBC outsourcing its Occupational Health department. Tess reminds us that two couples will compete in the Dreaded Dance-Off tonight leaving us with 13 couples. Claudia introduces the judges, and asks Len if he is "personally delirious" about the return of the Dreaded Dance-Off. Len says that he is, because it keeps the integrity of the show. Yes, heaven forfend a show about ballroom-dancing celebrities ever get even the slightest bit ridiculous. Oh Len. We've been getting on so well this series, don't make me hate you again. Len promises that what's been in the past is gone, and the Dreaded Dance-Off will be judged solely on the dances performed at that time. At least until they decide that it isn't, which will probably happen in a week or two.
Tess tells us that the Scissor Sisters will be performing on the show later, while Claudia reminds us that Len's Lens is back. To be honest, if I didn't have to recap this, I might have switched off entirely at this point. I'd already seen the result on the Digital Spy forums; why should I put myself through such torture? But I am a professional, so here I remain. But first, let's relive all the drama from last night. Claudia was backstage, just hangin' with her (camera) crew, dancing with Victoria and putting the finishing touches to Natalie's make-up. The ongoing theme here is that everyone is nervous: pros and celebrities alike.
From there we go to our recap of last night complete with Extra! Bonus! Interviews!, so here's the additional information that we can glean: Nicky's sparkly leather jacket is from TopMan (there was an extreme close-up and his label was hanging out), Colin and Kristina apparently did nothing of interest backstage because they are not shown being interviewed, Dani was very happy to get a SEV-UNNN, Artem actually smiled, Richard and Erin are similarly not shown backstage, Victoria is glad to be portrayed as back in the race, Michael's jive was somehow worse in rehearsal, Louis and Flavia are very much with the high-fiving, Denise and James are very pleased with themselves, Iveta thinks this has been a wonderful day and she hopes it will never end (largely because her BBC security pass expires at midnight and she's already been told it won't get renewed), Sid and Ola join the "no backstage footage" club, Len's comments freaked Kimberley out, she's got to scre-eam, she's got to shou-ou-ou-ou-out, no backstage footage from Jerry and Anton either, and finally Lisa was excited to be a girl and not a boy, while Robin calls her a "leading lady", perhaps as a warning against getting too assertive in future dances. What's with the lack of backstage action for several couples, though? Budget cuts? DAMN YOU, CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT. Len makes a peculiar comment about how the dances were like buses because nothing good happened for ages and then two good ones came at once (Denise and Louis), summarising that it was a two-hour show that just flew past. Oh Len, you make no sense.
Here's Tess with the first half of this evening's results. In no particular order, the following couples are definitely safe and returning next week: Nicky and Karen, Denise and James, Lisa and Robin, Louis and Flavia, Fern and Artem and Kimberley and Pasha. The first couple in the Dreaded Dance-Off is...Johnny and Iveta.
Tess asks Bruno if Johnny being bottom two despite his improvement means it's a tough competition this year. Bruno says that he got better, and it's always hard to see someone performing in the Dreaded Dance-Off, but those are the rules (this year).
Claudia's up in the Tess Circle with the six safe couples, and first of all she wants to talk to Fern about her expression of complete surprise when they were declared safe. Fern explains that you just don't expect to hear your name in a positive context, even though that's pretty much how results shows work on reality TV 95 per cent of the time. Apparently she's been taking a leaf out of the Victoria Pendleton book of arm placement, because Louis came over to congratulate her and Fern accidentally elbowed him in the nose. I can only assume this is but the first step in the slap-slap-kiss that will turn into a torrid affair. What will the tabloids call them - Fouis? Lern? Smitton? Oh, there we go. Denise is pleased to be top of the leaderboard, but that means another week with James. Lisa says she felt like a princess at the end, and had to try not to be too Gritty and Northern until the dance was definitely over.
Time for a trailer: next week is Hollywood Week, which I can only assume means quite a lot of people trying to be FRED AND GIIIIIIIINGE. Should be
In those 30 seconds, the contestants are swifty evacuated and replaced by the judges, because it's time for LEEEENNNN'S LEEEENNNNS! Regrettably, this section hasn't become any less devoid of interesting or insightful content since last year, so let's skip through it swiftly: Len was singing along to 'Tutti Frutti', Denise's kiss left Craig's cheek covered in lipstick so Darcey cleaned it off with a tissue and her saliva (eww), Richard pulled a lot of faces during his cha cha cha and so did Bruno during Michael's jive, and Artem managed to instruct Fern to change direction without moving his lips. The end (at least until next week)!
Time to find out the rest of the results. Also safe are Colin and Kristina, and they're joined by Victoria and Brendan, Dani and Vincent, Sid and Ola, Jerry and Anton and Michael and Natalie, which leaves Richard and Erin facing the Dreaded Dance-Off.
Clearly appalled at this transparent act of homophobia from the voting public, Tess turns to Darcey and essentially asks "well, Bussell, you told them to make it gayer, and LOOK WHAT HAPPENED. Happy now?" Darcey doesn't really have an answer for it, but thinks it might have been the less-than-brilliant technique. Oh sure, pass the buck why don't you.
Claudia's upstairs with the latest batch of safe couples. Michael describes that experience as one of the worst things he's ever done - no mean claim, considering the jive he delivered this week - and he admits he was expecting to be going home. Claudia asks Victoria if she's really into her dancing yet, and Victoria says that she loves dancing, she's trying her best, and she can't wait for next week. Jerry's very excited about doing her quickstep for Hollywood week next Saturday, and reveals that they'll be dancing to 'Mrs Robinson'. Claudia turns to Kristina, calling her "the happiest woman on Earth", given her reaction to being saved. I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that she's flying out to Canada to train with Colin this week (I assume he's needed on the set of Arrow) and she probably wouldn't have got that particular jolly if they'd been eliminated.
Now, in "seems like a slightly odd booking for this particular timeslot, but sure why not" news, we have the Scissor Sisters and their new single 'Let's Have A Kiki'. For those of you confused by the title, it's slang used in gay culture for having a chat and/or a gossip; whatever you do, don't confuse it with "kai kai" (two drag queens having sex). This is meant to be the best song on their new album, so the fact that I'm fairly indifferent to it means I probably won't be buying that. Still, like any fan of RuPaul's Drag Race, I'm pleased to see this particular vernacular getting airtime on primetime BBC1. No shade, no tea.
After completely confusing everyone in the audience above the age of 40, the show transports us back up to the Tess Circle with Claudia, along with Richard and Erin and Johnny and Iveta. Richard wonders if his outfit (likened to "the curtains from a static caravan in Lyme Regis in 1976") might have been the problem. They're first to face the dance-off, so they head down to get ready while Claudia chats to Johnny and Iveta, who says that Richard and Erin were the couple they've had the most fun with backstage, so it's sad to think that one couple is going.
Richard and Erin reprise their cha cha cha, and there's not a lot that can be said about this routine that hasn't been said already, but it appears to be lacking a bit of the energy it had the first time out - perhaps not surprising at the end of a long night, but still not an encouraging sign nonetheless. Following that, Johnny and Iveta do their foxtrot a second time, and Johnny loses the thread of it quite early on. It's a definite decline in performance quality from him, complete with slips and stumbles, but points for effort as he keeps going valiantly to the end.
Time for the verdict from the judges: Craig thinks both couples weren't as good as first time out, but based on content alone, he votes to save Richard and Erin. Darcey is voting for the couple with the most confidence: Richard and Erin. Bruno thought both couples were quite shaky, but he agrees with the others, so on reasons of content he votes to save Richard and Erin. So Johnny and Iveta are gone, and Len confirms that he would've voted the same way as the other three had it been necessary.
Tess asks Johnny if he's enjoyed his short-but-sweet Strictly experience, and Johnny says he has, but laments that that was the worst performance of that foxtrot he's ever given. He thinks he did quite well for his age, though. Iveta (no stranger to being the first boot) is thanked for stepping in at short notice, but not actually given a chance to speak. Poor Iveta. I liked what I saw of her, so hopefully she's at the top of the list to replace