Eight Couples Perform: 6th October 2012
Last night: the entire nation was "Strictly-fied", apparently. They seem awfully keen on trying to make that word catch on, I hope they desist soon. Points of note singled out by the show: Karen being a choreographic rule-breaker, Len telling Fern and Artem to "GERRON WITH IT!", Yah-cey Bussell feeling for Victoria after she fucked up, Victoria crying Olympic-level tears, James and Denise saving "the best for last". Tonight: the remaining eight contestants perform, which means we're subject to more "guerilla filming" of the public expressing entirely spontaneous excitement about the return of that dancing show. It's the same "overhearing" gag as last night, this time involving Richard Arnold posing as a masseur, Sid Owen and Louis Smith posing as waiters (Louis's delivery of "Strictly cake?" is absolutely magnificent - he could've been such an amazing snooty waiter if he hadn't decided to be a world-class gymnast instead), and Nicky Byrne just casually wandering into a lift while everyone's discussing how darned sexy he is. It's the sort of thing that happens to me all the time. Then we get into a brief montage of everyone being abused in training, and it's on with the show.
Titles! I hope you're all using the proper lyrics from the launch show when you sing along. I mean, you've all got them memorised, right guys? Guys? ...hello?
Because we've got a bit more time on our hands tonight, we open with a montage of behind-the-scenes moments from the show as everyone gets ready to take to their stage, all of which is gearing up to a pro dance to Pixie Lott's 'All About Tonight', which begins with the Natalie, Kristina and Brendan getting ready in their "dressing room" (a small bit of set in the corner underneath the Tess Circle. Has that always been there? Are they planning to use it for other things, or did they build it just for this? So many questions), and Natalie is miming along in the mirror, because she's amazing. It appears to be a mix of styles, but there's quite a lot of cha cha cha in there, with some tango legwork from Vincent and Flavia (of course). My favourite part is at the end when the audience applauds, and Brendan realises he can't join in because he's got Karen on his shoulder, so he just starts tapping her thigh instead.
Once that's all over, Bruce and Tess enter, and confound expectation by opting for a fist-bump instead of the usual leg-kick. They're well down with the kids, yougetme? Daly Dresswatch: a much more encouraging effort last night, a cream-coloured number that's nice and flattering, and the skirt is thigh-length at the front, and ankle-length at the back. Business at the back, party in the front! No, wait, that sounds really dodgy. Oh, you know what I mean. Bruce and Tess open with a joke about Wilnelia reading Fifty Shades of Grey, and I'm not recapping that for all of our sakes. Nobody needs to imagine Bruce Forsyth's red room of pain. Tess reminds us that everyone who didn't perform last night will dance for us this evening, and then it's time to meet the stars of our show: Kimberley & Pasha, Nicky & Karen, Fern & Artem, Michael & Natalie, Lisa & Robin, Louis & Flavia, Dani & Vincent, Sid & Ola, Denise & James, Richard & Erin, Victoria & Brendan, Colin & Kristina, Jerry & Anton, and finally Johnny & Iveta. Once again, there is a distinct lack of shimmying to the final few bars of the theme. I'm disappointed in all of you.
Bruce finds himself transfixed by Robin's sequinned vest, and asks Lisa if it tickles. Lisa confirms that it does, and says something that sounds like "tickle the fantastic" and everyone laughs, and I don't get it. If that made sense to you, by all means enlighten me in the comments. Tess reminds us that there's no voting, while Bruce points out that the judges are still scoring and the scores will count. Jason Donovan is joining Karen on the red button commentary. "Great to be here! Very excited!" he enthuses, to which Bruce's response is "...okay." I don't know if that's symptomatic of Bruce's deafness these days, or a suggestion that if you don't win, then you're DEAD TO HIM. Could go either way, really.
First up tonight are Kimberley and Pasha. Pasha's hair has improved slightly from the launch show, but it's still not good. It also appears to be the exact same haircut that Louis has. I wonder who stole whose idea? Or maybe they went to the barber together and got the same cut at the same time. Perhaps they're part of a secret society. Kimberley's VT tells us how she always dreamed of pop stardom, and her dreams came true in 2002 when she entered Popstars Colon The Rivals, and despite being in the bottom three/four every week (it's brave of her to compete on this show at all with that sort of public voting background), she was the fourth person voted into Girls Aloud in the final, ahead of Sarah Harding and that man teef Javine. She says "here we are, still going strong", even though they've not released any new material since 2009. Still: 2012 reunion! Back in the studio with Xenomania! It's going to be amazing! (Hopefully.) Kimberley tells us that it's great being in Girls Aloud, and there's nothing better than having the other four girls with you, even when Nadine is just a life-size cardboard cut-out she left to keep them company while she's running her bar in LA and standing outside Tesco desperately trying to convince them to buy her solo album. (I did actually buy Nadine's solo album, but let's not dwell on that.) Pasha reminds us that last year he finished second with Chelsee Healey, but this year he's hoping to get one position higher. Fnar. Kimberley declares herself "very happy" with Pasha, because let's face it: she's got eyes.
In rehearsals, Kimberley spends most of her time doing cringeface and saying that she hates her arms. Pasha tells us that "she keeps judging herself...and that's my job". Head Judge Pasha for 2013! During rehearsals, Nicola Roberts turns up to see how things are going, with her hair in some sort of weird coconut-penis shape. It's no side-ponytail, that's for sure. Kimberley admits this is the first time she's really looked up and performed the routine, and Nicola declares that she's definitely going to watch Kimberley this weekend, and everyone's going to love her, and also PLEASE WATCH MY SHOW STYLED TO ROCK ON SKY LIVING ON TUESDAYS AT 9PM AND ALSO BUY MY SOLO ALBUM AVAILABLE IN ALL GOOD RECORD STORES. She's got a lot of projects on the go, has Nicola.
They're dancing the cha cha cha to 'Domino' by Jessie J (I'm not sure which of the band is singing, but they're clearly struggling), and it opens with Kimberley doing a back-bend before stepping off Pasha rather awkwardly. It's not the best of openings, but things improve once the routine proper gets going - Kimberley's got good energy and performance skills, and her execution of the choreography seems very polished. I'd say she needs to work on her lines because they're a bit wishy-washy, and a few of the tricks that Pasha's thrown in are slightly sloppily executed, but it's a very encouraging start both for Kimberley and tonight's show, I think.
There's a standing ovation for Kimberley, including a very handsome tall man a few seats down from Anita Dobson. I don't know who he is, but I appreciate his inclusion nonetheless. While Bruce is busy welcoming the judges, Pasha and Kimberley both do a comically exaggerated sigh of relief, which might be obnoxious in other people's hands but they manage to make it rather endearing. I'm going to transcribe the next bit verbatim:
Bruce: Len, what did you think of that...
Bruce: ...first dance. (On being interrupted:) What?
Len: I'm saying Kimberley. (Beat.) Because that's her name.
Heh. Len declares that he's going to call her "Nimble Kimble", to which a baffled Pasha responds "is that a good thing?" Ah, language barriers: the building blocks of Strictly Come Dancing comedy since 2004. Len continues that it was clean and precise, but she needs more pressure through the floor and her legs could be a bit stronger. He trots out the old "you can't win in week one, but you can make a fantastic first impression" line that he uses every year, and then we move on to Bruno who thinks Kimberley knows how to sell it. He agrees that she needs to push more through the legs, but she was going for it in the top half. Craig's in a better mood than last night, he confirms, because there's finally some dance talent on show with great rhythm and timing, and he thought the whole thing was "incandescent". Kimberley smiles the appreciation of somebody who isn't entirely sure what that word means but has deduced from the context that it's a good thing. Darcey yodels that for a first performance, Kimberley gave "the wow factor", but she needs to work more on her hips and strengthen her core, yeah? Because then she'll get a much cleaner hip pow-pow-pow, yeah?
Nimble Kimble and Pasha make their way up to the Tess Circle, where Tess declares "that's your new nickname" and I make a bet with my boyfriend that if anyone on the show ever uses it from next weekend onwards, I will give him £5. Tess asks how being on this show compares to being in Girls Aloud, and Kimberley says that she felt very exposed but she tried to enjoy it. Scores are in: Craig 7, Darcey 7, Len 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 28. Brilliantly, Darcey misses her cue and there's this awkward silence for a few seconds after Alan Dedicoat says her name. At first I thought she was about to break out the first eight of the series and was trying to build anticipation, but no, she just didn't hear. It's sort of sweet that she doesn't even try to style it out with a bit of "sev-UNN!" bravado or anything, she just carries on like nothing happened. Good old reliable Darceybot. Anyway, Kimberley and Pasha are very pleased to get ALL THE SEVENS, as Tess puts it, and it would appear that last night's lowball scores may have been a quirk rather than a deliberate strategy, because this definitely feels more like the first-night scoring that I've been used to for the past few years.
Up next are Sid and Ola. Bruce's opening joke is silly, but I'm going to recap it because of where it leads: it alludes to EastEnders and Sid apparently being glad that no one's going to punch him under the assumption that he's after that man's wife, with the ever-obliging James Jordan doing a meathead look into the camera, but it's all worth it for Bruce ending with "they don't call him Jessie James Jordan for nothing." Yes, yes, I know it was meant to be Jesse James, but I think I will start calling him Jessie James now. J-J-J-JESSIE JAMES, DO IT LIKE A MANDEM SUGA SUGA SUGA.
Anyway, here they are in training. Ola has a creditable go at a "RICKAAAAYY!", but she's no Patsy Palmer. Sid tells us that when he found out he was on the show, the only person he wanted for a partner was Ola, so he's very pleased that things worked out in that respect. Ola turns out to be a bit of a taskmaster in rehearsals, and also appears to be about as good at acting as Pasha when she pretends to get Sid's name wrong in an interview and refer to him as Ricky. What I didn't realise the first time I saw this was that Sid's just off-camera when she does it and hurls something (it looks like a shoe, but I hope it was something softer) at her head immediately afterwards. They look like they're getting on well, anyway - there's some good-natured ribbing in there, and their feigned exasperation with each other is quite fun.
They're doing a waltz to 'I Won't Give Up' by Jason Mraz. Ola is wearing a giant hankie that shows off her midriff (naturally), and the routine itself is a fairly basic week one waltz: slow, measured and a little stiff, but generally well-delivered by Sid. They're both absolutely thrilled with how well it went when it's over as well, which is sweet.
Bruce invites us to thank our fabulous singers Dave Arch and his wonderful wonderful orchestra, and then Bruno opens for the judges by saying that he was expecting a "rugged thug throwing her all over the place" (and if that's what Bruno imagines Ricky Butcher was like, I can only assume that he has never watched a single second of EastEnders in his entire life) but he got intensity, correct posture and erection. Everyone laughs at this, and Bruno's all "No! I'm serious! Oh, shut up!" Heee. Bruno thinks his frame was well-held and his footwork wasn't bad either. Craig thinks Sid's arms are a little plonky when placed, and his thumb needs to be tucked under, but he thought there was great movement around the floor and fantastic storytelling. Darcey thinks Sid presented himself so well, and there was great intensity, between him and Ola? And he carried that all the way through? She warns him not to use his shoulders to change direction, yeah? Because it must come from his core. But she's going to love watching him every week. I know it's mean of me to mock Darcey's cadence like this, but it is a bit of a problem - no one ever seems to know whether she's finished a sentence or not. Len tells Sid he scrubs up well - "you've gone from Albert Square to Berkeley Square", and while it started out a bit dainty, it developed well. There were a few problems - "you fell back on the whisk", which sounds painful - but overall it was a good job.
Up in the Tess Circle, Ola is jubilant and Tess wonders if they could be the Ricky and Bianca of Strictly. "She's got a trap like Bianca," says Sid. Heh. He loved every minute of it, and he's glad it's over. Ola says she's seen potential in him from day one. Scores are in: Craig 6, Darcey 6, Len 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 26.
Next we have Johnny and Iveta, and since the story of Aliona's hairline fracture must be told, the show goes into full on tragic injury porn mode. First of all, we get the standard opening in which Johnny talks about being dead old an ting but how he's STILL GOT IT, and Aliona musing on Johnny's fantastic personality and how they "might surprise people". WITH BROKEN BONES! Okay, not quite, but we then segue to what Tess calls "a freak training room accident" in which Aliona takes a bit of a stumble and twists her ankle really badly, so they ramp up Adele really loudly on the soundtrack to make us think she might actually die and there's a RACE TO HOSPITAL, where an x-ray reveals the hairline fracture, so Aliona's out of action for a few weeks and So You Think You Can Dance 20th-place finisher (and, to be fair, a World Champion Professional 10-Dance - I don't know what that is exactly but it sounds very impressive) Iveta Lukosiuta steps in to help out. They only have two days to rehearse, but she thinks Johnny knows what he's doing. Johnny says he just wants both his partners to be proud of him.
Johnny's in the unfortunate position of being an older man stuck with a Latin routine on his first night, and their cha cha cha is to 'Drive My Car', because it's Beatlemania night on the BBC. Iveta's doing most of the work, to be honest, but Johnny's giving it a good go, and while his dancing's pretty laboured, he's not completely embarrassing himself. They finish, and there's a shot of Aliona in the audience looking...well, as engaged as Aliona ever does.
Bruce thanks Iveta for having nothing better to do, and Craig opens for the judges, chastising Johnny for miming along throughout the song. He tells Johnny that he was jerking and spasming like he had a disorder of the nervous system, so more fluidity would be good, which Bruce translates as "have a few drinks before you come on." Darcey compliments him on his great energy, and her mid-sentence breaks do her no favours when she says "sadly you have been unlucky with your partners? Changing?" She's lucky she got that extra word in in time - I'm sure a fractured ankle would've been no obstacle to Aliona making her way over from the other side of the room and lumping her one. Darcey's tip is to remember to put his weight on the ball of his foot. "Good point, Darcey, well done!" says Bruce patronisingly. Len says "it was all a bit Last Of The Summer Wine", but thinks it had good timing and a lot of content, and that Johnny did very well for his advanced years. Bruno finishes by saying that while Johnny failed his MOT, he at least completed the lamp, and he's looking forward to seeing him in ballroom.
To the Tess Circle they head, and Johnny says that he "didn't turn up for the first step", which was not a good start. Tess asks Iveta how she's finding the Strictly ballroom at short notice. Iveta totally should've said "oh, don't worry, it's well signposted", but instead she just says that it's such a warm atmosphere and thanks everyone for having her. She adds that all the young boys should shape up because "this man is a real man". O...kay. Scores are in: Craig 3, Darcey 5, Len 5, Bruno 4 or a total of 17.
Next we have Dani and Vincent. Dani tells us that she started playing Tracy Beaker at the age of 12, so she's grown up on screen and had her teenage years documented for everyone to see: spots, braces, frizzy hair and all. She says that everyone might think she's sweet and innocent because she works in kids' TV (I used to work in kids' TV - very few of my colleagues were sweet and innocent), but she can shake her booty like the rest of them. Vincent introduces himself with the usual "I'm so sexy, everyone fancies me" schtick that's pretty much crossed the line into full Anton Du Beke-style self-parody at this point, but does say that Dani is his dream partner because she's young and fit and has "the moves". Dani says that while they're both tiny, they're not to be messed with. In training, Vincent explains that they have to be faster than everyone else because they're smaller, and they've got lots of spins in their waltz which Dani hopes she can keep up with.
They're dancing to 'Open Arms', and Dani's a little wobbly on her feet - I think the nerves have affected her a little bit, because the ability seems to be there but she's just a bit reticent when it comes to actually delivering it. There's a pleasing smoothness to the routine, though, so hopefully when the nerves clear up she'll start to blossom. Afterwards, Bruce patronises them a bit more about how tiny they both are while staring at Dani's chest, and Darcey tells Dani that she was impressed with her travelling. She needs to forget about being small because dance is about creating an illusion, yeah, and she did that. She needs to imagine she's wearing a beautiful necklace because that will help with her posture, yeah? But she'll have a lot more fun in the Latin next week, Darcey reckons. Len thinks Dani needs to work on the detail - it was close, she just needs slightly better posture and footwork, but it was very nice. Bruno tells Dani to smile and enjoy the occasion because she's pretty and moves well, but the tension she creates stops the movement and makes her skippy. Craig tells her she needs to push her shoulders down to create a longer line, and needs to not spot the floor when she spins because that's what's making her unsteady, but he thought she had a lovely back. Bruce, unwisely, says that she has a lovely front as well.
Tess welcomes her "tiny dancers" to the Tess Circle, and Dani says she's happy with what they produced, as long as she's made "Papa Smurf" happy. That's sort of sweet and also deeply creepy at the same time. Tess asks if being tiny is an advantage. Vincent: "Well, my life turned out okay." Heh. There's then a supremely awkward moment where Tess hands them two tiny figures dressed in sequins so that they will no longer be the smallest dancers on the show, and Dani and Vincent both thank her politely while secretly vowing to burn the totems the first chance they get. Scores: Craig 5, Darcey 5, Len 6, Bruno 5 for a total of 21. There are cries of "harsh!" that seem to come mostly from Brendan and Ola, but Dani and Vincent declare themselves happy.
Lisa and Robin are next. Lisa says that as an actor she's always having lines drawn on her face or getting covered in mud, "because that's all I do: play mingers." Heh. But now! She's getting all glammed up for dancing, and can't stop looking at herself in the mirror. Robin says that people could surely see how excited he was to get Lisa in the opening show, and Lisa says that he makes her feel like a princess, and that she'll do anything he asks. So expect to see her in G-A-Y after the show, off her face on amyl nitrate and dressed as Divine. In training, Lisa admits that the dancing vocabulary is what she's struggling with, so she just refers to things as a "swisho" or a "twizzle". She writes down all of the choreography on a notepad, and Robin laughs and says that he doesn't know what any of that means. There are also "bap baps" in there somewhere, and she hopes they speak the same language on Saturday night.
They're dancing the cha cha cha to 'Think', and it is the gayest thing I have ever seen in my life - and I watch RuPaul's Drag Race. Brilliantly, it is also huge amounts of fun and also - crucially - very well-danced. I think that's easy to miss because the routine's so entertaining, but there's a lot of precision in Lisa's footwork and her arm movements are sharp as well - I remember saying during the launch show that she looked like she had potential, and it looks like I didn't know the half of it. There's such infectious energy throughout the whole thing that I can only assume this is what I was meant to be feeling when Russell Grant was on last year, but because Lisa is actually dancing rather than just mugging for the cameras and playing dress-up, it becomes so much more enjoyable. I think Robin might have just found the perfect outlet for his choreography as well. I also like that they end by subverting expectations by having her stride up to him, but then him leaping into her arms at the last minute - it's playful and tongue-in-cheek while also being perfectly acceptable as a cha cha cha at the same time, so full marks to this pair, frankly.
Len's got a big grin on his face and calls Lisa "a funky monkey" and likens her to a bottle of cola. He thinks what it lacked in technique it made up for in energy and enthusiasm. Bruno calls it grand, big, beautiful, exuberant entertainment, and he's never seen people so happy. Craig says three words: "You. Can. Dance." Lisa's thrilled and runs up to the podium to give him a kiss. Darcey finishes by saying she loves people who can take risks, and it was cheeky and fun all the way through, and she thinks Lisa is going to be a joy to watch.
Not quite believing how well that just went, they race up to the Tess Circle where Tess asks Lisa how her twizzles and her bap-baps are. Imagine if you'd missed the VT, you'd think Tess was giving Lisa her well woman check-up. Tess asks Lisa if she'll be doing all the lifts in the future, and Lisa says she's getting bigger and they're having a muscle-off. Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 8, Len 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 30, propelling Lisa and Robin straight to the top of the leaderboard. Who saw that coming, eh?
With the unenviable job of having to follow that, we have Richard and Erin. Richard interviews in his VT that he's used to talking to the stars about their latest projects, but lately they're all more interested in talking to him about his. Chelsee Healey, in particular, guffaws about what he's let himself in for. Erin is very excited to have Richard, because he's so much fun and bubbly. Richard thinks Erin's a class act, but he's in awe of her. Erin vows to make a dancer out of him. Initial waltz training is not promising - Richard likens himself to "a collapsed pavlova - with plenty of fruit, though". But as time goes on, things seem to be improving, and Richard thinks that against all odds Erin might have made a dancer out of him. Excellently, they undercut this with a little pastiche of Nicole Kidman's Chanel No.5 advert.
Because this is Erin's handiwork, they're waltzing to 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers' by Barbra Streisand - she's always got a nice line in subtle campery, if such a thing exists. Richard's grin is a little manic and fixed, but aside from that, it's an impressive performance - they've got lovely chemistry together and it's a smooth, precise routine. Bruno starts by asking Richard what happened, because he was expecting a campfest, and Richard looked sedated. "Are you trying to be butch?" Bruno asks, and Richard does a bit of a swish for him. Bruno declares it "a bit boring" because his personality didn't come through - it was nice, but he wanted to see more personality. Craig disagrees, he thought the smile was lovely and it was very romantic. Richard responds to this by taking the prop yellow rose he'd been using and offering it to Craig, who promptly cracks up - but he says that Richard's transitions are lumpy and his hands are spatulistic. Darcey's all "I missed the real Richard in that waltz" and tells him to take the music home with him and listen to it all the time to help him relax. Len says that this is a waltz and it's not meant to be knowing and campy, it's meant to be about technique, and Richard had the best footwork he'd seen. There were moments where it could've been better, but that's true for everyone. I found the general subtext of "it wasn't gay enough! You're so gay normally, why weren't you doing it gayer?" of Darcey and Bruno's comments to be rather distasteful. I mean, for starters, it was an Erin Boag waltz to Barbra Streisand, which ought to be camp enough all by itself. Secondly, I think the one lesson we learned from Russell Grant last year is that turning everything into a poppers o'clock remix gets incredibly tiresome incredibly quickly. Much as it pains me to agree with Len, he's absolutely right: there's plenty of time for knowing winks in the Latin dances, but if you're just going to treat all your ballroom like your own personal La Cage Aux Folles as well it's too much. So, in short: shut up, Darcey and Bruno.
Up they head to the Tess Circle, where Richard says how pleased he is to get such good feedback about his footwork from Len, and that it's a real privilege to be here. He tells Erin that she's magnificent, and then jokes "it's Erin, isn't it?" Heh. Tess asks if we'll see "fun Richard" next week, and Richard cautions us all that "there's no safe place to rest your eyes when I'm cha cha cha-ing." Duly noted. Scores: Craig 5, Darcey 5, Len 7, Bruno 5 for a total of 22.
Our penultimate couple for the evening are Jerry and Anton. In her video, Jerry drawls that she still pinches herself because she's led such an exciting life, and also because all those years as a fashion model have left her with little sensation below the knee. Anton says that she's beautiful, glamorous, sophisticated and funny - the whole package. No mention of dancing, you'll notice. Jerry says that she was thrilled to learn that Anton was her partner - "I felt like that penguin in Happy Feet." Part of me regrets having never seen that film because it leaves me with no jokes to crack here, but my boyfriend assures me that movie was a load of old bollocks, so perhaps it's all for the best in the end. In rehearsal, Anton says that Jerry has a "natural flair" to the point where he almost doesn't want to get in her way. Jerry says he's always giving her compliments, and she can't think of a better way to spend her day.
They're dancing to 'Everybody Loves To Cha Cha Cha' by Sam Cooke, and the routine opens with Jerry doing a bit of catwalk strutting. This is crafty timewasting by Anton, as ever, because Jerry is not a natural with the cha cha cha. The footwork isn't dreadful, but there's nothing going on in the hips at all, and by the time we get to the point of the song where the lyrics go "my baby couldn't do the cha cha cha", it takes on a rather different dimension as some sly irony on Anton's part.
Craig tells them that they've "taken minimal to a whole new level", and that it was a lot of wriggling about. Darcey says that Jerry has the ability and the assets, so she has to use them: "dance more!" Heh. I've been fairly Darcey-neutral over the course of these opening shows, but for reasons I can't quite pin down, I really like "dance more!" as a critique. Len thought it was good - a little bit careful, so next week he wants Jerry to excite him. Bruce asks Jerry if she could excite Len, and she drawls, "definitely. Wait until you see our foxtrot," all the while pouting and rolling her face around like Bella Emberg. Bruno calls her a "glamazon", and says that the little bit of cha cha cha that there was was actually good.
In the Tess Circle, Tess asks Jerry how her supermodel skills helped her on the dancefloor, and Jerry says that she had "a Studio 54 flashback". That must have been some bad acid she dropped before the show. Perhaps she's having the same problem as Louis Walsh over on The X Factor, in that she keeps remembering the movie and thinking she was actually there. Scores: Craig 3, Darcey 5, Len 5, Bruno 5 for a total of 18. Tess asks if we've saved the best for that. "Not really," snarks Anton.
Let's find out, shall we? Here's our final couple, Louis and Flavia. Louis talks about being a hyperactive child, so his mum enrolled him in gymnastics at the age of four, and 19 years down the line he ended up in the Olympics. Flavia says that 2012 has been an amazing year for Louis, and she'd be really happy to finish it off for him (fnar) with a "nice, sparkling glitterball". (FNAR!) Louis interviews that he's never had to be sexy and flamboyant in his life (I beg to differ) and that's what he's most worried about. Flavia warns him that he has to sell it, otherwise it's just going to look silly. She thinks there's a cheeky chap in there, so she just needs to find a way of bringing it out.
They're dancing their cha cha cha to 'Forget You', and this is one of those curious cases where the dancing seems fine enough, but there's just absolutely nothing going on in his face. And I don't mean nervous tension or anything like that, he just looks completely uninterested, which seems rather odd. Flavia gets him to do some tricks like a one-handed handstand and the splits, all of which he executes in a similarly will-this-do? fashion. But that aside, there's good footwork in there and the makings of a good dancer if he can just get the hang of actually looking like he cares.
Darcey opens by going full Arlene, telling him "I can see you're using muscles you haven't used before" and "in my eyes, I think you'll go far in this show." To her credit, she then starts laughing and mock-fanning herself. See, there's the makings of a likeable judge in there somewhere, we just need to tease it out and fix her cadence. We've got 11 weeks left, I feel confident about this. Len says it wasn't a gold medal performance because it needs to be slightly crisper, but if he can get that going, Louis will do well. Bruno tells Louis he likes a guy with plenty of tricks up his sleeve, and as a first out it was great. He warns him about overextending, but he can't wait to see more. Craig thought it was "a little bit awkward at times" and very flat-footed, "but once you get onto the balls, darling, you'll sort that out." Oddly enough, I got the same advice from my dance instructor when I was younger, but then he got taken away by the police a few weeks later. He thought Louis could've used his face more, at which point Bruno responds incredulously "you were looking at his face?!" and Bruce piles on, "Darcey wasn't!" Again, it's very much in Darcey's favour that she takes that in good humour and lets Craig fan her face with his 1 paddle. I love that that was the first one he had to hand. Speaks volumes, doesn't it?
Up to the Tess Circle they head, where Tess asks Louis if he enjoyed himself, and he says he was a little bit tense, but they got through it. Scores: Craig 6, Darcey 8, Len 6, Bruno 7 for a total of 27.
We get treated to a brief trail for the return of It Takes Two on BBC2 with the lovely Zoe, and then we have a look at the leaderboard:
1st: Lisa & Robin (30)
2nd: Kimberley & Pasha (28)
3rd: Louis & Flavia (27)
4th: Sid & Ola (26)
5th: Denise & James (25)
6th: Colin & Kristina (23)
7th: Richard & Erin (22)
8th: Dani & Vincent (21)
9th: Michael & Natalie (20)
10th: Fern & Artem (19)
11th: Jerry & Anton (18)
12th: Nicky & Karen (17)
12th: Johnny & Iveta (17)
14th: Victoria & Brendan (16)
Of course, all of those scores will be carried over to next week, then we'll all get to vote and the two couples with the lowest combined score will face "the dreaded dance-off", which is back. Dreaded more by viewers than by the contestants, I should think, because it was always a pointless waste of bloody time, and robbed Austin Healey of his rightful place in the series 6 final, NOT THAT I'M STILL BITTER. There's a quick VT of the judges plotting mischievously to bring the dance-off back, and that's it until next weekend. Join me then to see how everyone fares with their second routine of the series...