Sunday, 14 October 2012

So I jived with an axe murderer

14 Couples Perform: 13th October 2012

So, last week: 14 stars went "supernova". According to Wikipedia, "Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months." Sounds about right to me. Tess's VO continues that the stars showed us what they were made of: wicker, in Michael's case, and jelly in Victoria's. This week: it's time for the first elimination, and everyone's screaming because the dance-off is back, so they know they're inevitably going to face at least one Sunday show where Len's grousing about how the dance-off's supposed to let him choose to save a good dancer over a bad one, but instead he's had to choose between THE TWO BEST ONES or something. Then they realise they need our votes so they all start mugging for the cameras. Considering the sort of base level that Denise started at, I can only assume that several weeks of begging for votes will leave her gurning so much that she'll start developing extra chins. Anyway, on with the show.

Titles! Interestingly, Iveta has now replaced Aliona in the shot of Johnny. Since Hollywood movies (and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model) have taught me that eastern Europeans are all evil, I hope this was all part of Iveta's diabolical plan, and that her next move is to digitally insert herself into all of Harry Judd's routines and have herself declared 2011 champion.

Live from London, we have a Bruce, and we have a Tess. Daly Dresswatch: an absolute fiasco. It's a black figure-hugging bodice that's turned into a dress by having acres of sheer fabric draped over it, with splits all down the legs. My first thought was that someone had misread the calendar and dressed Tess for Halloween week a couple of weeks too early. I'm trying to figure out if it would look any better if the dress actually fitted her properly, and to be honest, I'm not sure that would make much difference. What might help would be if she STOOD UP STRAIGHT, but I know better than to expect that these days. Tess and Brucie have their now-customary fist-bump, and Bruce does his intro joke in which he says that one of the celebrities gave him a lift back home at 90mph on the motorway. The joke's a bit poorly constructed, because as soon as he says "Victoria Pendleton!" everybody laughs, even though that's not the whole punchline - and this, of course, throws Bruce right off, and he insists on waiting for everyone to fall silent before adding "if you don't slow down, I'm going to fall off these handlebars!" rather than just carrying on. Spotted in the audience: Nicola and Nuhdeen from Girls Aloud, sitting together, possibly offering each other consolations on the respective commercial failures of their solo careers. (Also Nicola's album is still amazing, just putting that out there.)

Here are the stars of our show: Kimberley and Pasha, Nicky and Karen, Fern and Artem, Michael and Natalie, Lisa and Robin, Louis and Flavia, Dani and Vincent, Sid and Ola, Denise and James, Richard and Erin (I'll describe what they're wearing later, but HOLY CRAP), Victoria and Brendan, Colin and Kristina, Jerry and Anton, and finally Johnny and Iveta. There's a little bit more shimmying in the last few bars tonight, so everyone's gradually getting the message.

Bruce and Tess remind us that last week's scores will be combined with this week's and added to the public vote in a series of increasingly complicated algorithms to determine who faces the damn dance-off, and then we learn that joining Karen Hardy for red button commentary this week is Rufus Hound. So that's two whole shows they managed before they ran out of people who were actually relevant to the show. I can't believe Dr Hamela Stephenson wasn't available and absolutely gagging to do it. Maybe they just lost her number or something. Or "lost" her number, rather.

Dancing first tonight are Nicky and Karen. Their intro involves Bruce attempting a comedy Venezuelan accent, and Tess chuckling nervously in a "I'm not entirely sure if that was racist so I don't want to actually be seen endorsing it" fashion. Last week's dance went poorly, and the editing decides to blame Karen's illegal lift rather than Nicky's hideous posture and lumbering rise-and-fall. Nicky passive-aggressively says that this is exactly what he didn't need in his first week, while Karen smirks that everyone makes mistakes, and that she probably won't make the same mistake again in a manner that suggests she'll just make various other entirely separate "mistakes" instead. This week they've got the cha cha cha, and Nicky's pleased with his routine - but struggling to get it right. "This is the first time that he's ever walked out of the room," Karen shares. It's true. Every morning she arrives at rehearsals only to find poor Nicky huddled on the floor looking sad, hungry and confused because he still hasn't managed to find the door.

They're dancing to 'Dynamite' by Taio Cruz, and Nicky's wearing a hooded bedazzled leather jacket and looking like some sort of gay bondage superhero. Unwisely, Karen's left him to dance on his own for the first few bars and he just sort of stumbles around waggling his arse and clapping his hands in the air like it's almost chucking-out time at Jumping Jacks, then Karen appears dressed as Frank N Furter, and the two of them join forces - she's doing a cha cha cha, he's just doing generic club dancing. While I'm sure it's not to everyone's taste, I don't think Karen's choreography is the problem here: it's Nicky's inability to do what she's given him. He's flat-footed and stompy and far more suited to Let's Dance Comically For Relief than this show.

Nicky and Karen head over to the judges for their feedback, and Christ alive, when Nicky stands in profile you can see quite the bulge in his trousers. Mrs Nicky is a lucky woman. Len, opening for the judges, claims that he's "a cup of tea in a world of lattes" and says that from the point of view of a traditionalist, it was too much "boyband dancing" and not enough cha cha cha. Bruno thinks Nicky looks more "switched-on" tonight (clearly I wasn't the only one looking at Nicky's trousers) and while it was a bit "Take That 1995", he doesn't mind that - the problem was more that Nicky lost timing at the end. Craig thought it was "like a Zumba exercise class" and Karen makes a "that was totally what I was going for, really" face. He noticed that Nicky had some rotation in the hip department, but that left his body when he moved. However, the energy and commitment was good. Darcey thinks there was confidence and attitude, but not enough cha cha cha. However, she thinks it was a great contrast from last week. That's true, his hands didn't go into his pockets once.

They mosh their way up to the Tess Circle, where Nicky says that it went terribly because he couldn't hear the beat at the start and ended up making it up as he went along. He admits that although they worked hard, it didn't come off. "Don't be like that!" shouts Brendan, and everyone chimes in supportively. Scores: Craig 4, Darcey 5, Len 4, Bruno 5 for a total of 18. Tess announces the brand new mobile-voting system that means Strictly has proudly joined the 20th century at last, and then we move ahead to...

...our next couple, Colin and Kristina. Colin says he panicked a bit last week when faced with the lights and the judges and the baying crowd, but then Len told them it was the best cha cha cha of the night (out of three, one of which Victoria forgot almost the entirety of) and that made everything better. Kristina reveals that Colin is finding the Viennese waltz harder, because he is six times her size, and that makes attaining the correct posture rather difficult. This is giving him all of the aches and pains, but he vows to nail it on the night nonetheless. I can't believe it's week two and this still wasn't the segue into a comedy VT where poor, aching 50-year-old Colin goes to see Dr Kristina for some dance medicine or something. I miss Evil Moira Ross.

They're dancing to 'Kiss From A Rose', and the second they take hold, the problems created by their considerable height difference become apparent: Colin looks like he's holding a straw doll or something, or like he's reached that point in the wedding where the dads dance around with their daughters standing on their feet. It's still a decent performance, but the fact that he has to take tiny steps while Kristina takes great strides really doesn't do either of them any favours.

Bruce welcomes the fabulous singers, Dave Arch and his wonderful orchestra, and then Bruno tells Colin that he has "plenty of length to work with" (fnar), but when he goes in hold he needed more musicality, more sweep and not to lean forward. He found it a bit too careful, overall. Craig agrees - there were some nice lines, but the double-hand-flicking is "quite vexatious, darling" and he doesn't know why Colin is doing it. He thinks there's too much rise and fall, but he thinks Colin is dancing to his height, which is good to see. Darcey tells Colin that he has the perfect frame, but he has to watch not to stoop, and to lift his chin but not stare at the ceiling. Nonetheless, she congratulates him on being "a man that can ballroom and Latin", while I commiserate her on being a woman who can noun but struggles to verb. Still, at least the "okays" and "yahs" are being kept at bay so far. Len wants Colin to step out more and thought it was a bit timid, but he liked the characterisation and the elegance. He agrees with Craig that Colin danced to his height, and tells him not to be worried about taking big strides because Kristina will keep up. Yes, she's going to get jet-powered roller skates.

They take GIANT STRIDES up to the Tess Circle where the talk is still all about the height difference, and Tess reveals that during the dance, Jerry said "mmm-hmmm, he's a long tall drink". Credit where it's due: you'd think Tess's impression of a Texan supermodel would be appalling, but she actually got the voice and the accent pretty well. Scores: Craig 6, Darcey 6, Len 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 24.

Our third couple are Dani and Vincent. Nicola Roberts earns a few pennies in royalties as 'Yo-Yo' plays over the footage of Dani being hamstrung by her nerves last week, and Dani vows to put it behind her because she's excited to be doing the salsa. They've got a tricky lift in there which they're having a bit of trouble with because in rehearsals they're all arms and flailing legs. Vincent notes that "there's different ways of jumping on a man" (that's what she said) and Dani needs to learn to jump like a dancer. Dani tells us that we'll see "a lot more Dani" in the salsa. Judging from how that lift was going in training and the relatively short dress she's wearing, we might end up seeing more Dani than anyone intended.

They're dancing to 'Mama Do The Hump' (amazing) and there's a Pac-Man theme on the screens behind them (no apparent reason for it, but still: amazing). Dani looks a lot less nervous and while her dancing still needs refinement because it's a bit sloppy in places, this is a clear improvement. She does a flip over Vincent's shoulder that comes off well, but the second lift later in the programme doesn't work quite so well as it's a bit inelegant and there are limbs flying everywhere and Dani just seems to plummet earthwards at the end of it: to be fair, she does seem to manage a fairly soft landing, but it just doesn't look very slick. Still, despite the sloppiness, I really enjoyed watching that.

Bruce snarks "that was a lovely song. Beautiful words!" Heh. Craig says that this dance suits the "smaller-type person" which gets a horrified gasp from the audience for some reason. He liked the energy but not the dismount in the second lift - "you sort of just went splat, darling." Darcey thinks it's great to see Dani having fun, and the isolations of the upper body were great, but she wants to see more hips. (There was a "yeah" and an "okay" in there as well, but she's clearly working hard to rein them in this week, so I'll do her the courtesy of not transcribing all of them.) Len calls Dani a "little munchkin" and applauds her for the clean, clever performance. Bruno tells Dani "you didn't splatter, you blossomed tonight" - he liked the content and the arm passes, but agrees with Darcey that Dani needs to work on those hips.

They shimmy up to the Tess Circle, where Tess is impressed by the body rolls. Dani says that her nerves were much better this week, and that the lifts were "interesting in rehearsals". Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 6, Len 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 27. Just to clarify: Darcey apparently thought Dani's salsa was worth only one point more than Nicky's cha cha cha. Darcey, I'm going to take those paddles away from you if you can't be trusted to use them properly.

Next are Fern and Artem. Apparently Fern's asked Bruce not to make any more puns about her name and focus on her dancing instead, and Bruce says that he will because "it's obvious that Britton's got talent". This is mainly noteworthy for Bruce screaming "no!" afterwards in a manner that suggests all of the show's staff have been rigged up to a system that shocks them if they make the audience think about that turncoat Alesha. Last week Fern's skirt-wafting was a matter of some controvery, but Artem declares that he likes "skirt-ography". This week they've got the Viennese waltz, and Artem has been getting very frustrated with Fern, which in turn frustrates her. However, even frustrated Artem looks a bit checked-out. Are we absolutely sure Artem hasn't had his yearly injury yet? He really does seem rather sedated.

They're dancing to 'She's Always A Woman' (John Lewis advert edition). There's more skirt-wafting in there, to the point where I can only assume that Artem is getting very impatient waiting for the paso doble and this is the only way he can cope. It's not bad - some of her arm extensions are a bit crooked, the pace is a little sluggish, and her beatific grin throughout is quite funny, but the storytelling is nice and as far as I can tell, the footwork is pretty good, so it's something of a mixed bag.

Darcey says that it's nice to see Fern travelling, but she needs to keep it smooth. She warns Fern to follow through on her arm extensions, right to the fingertips, and to "believe in yourself and the confidence will follow". That's a direct excerpt from The Little Book of Tautologies, if memory serves. Len noted the wafting once more, and now claims that he likes a waft. He thinks Fern's posture still needs work, but it was better than last week, so she's going in the right direction. Bruno tells her to watch it with the arms because sometime she looks "like you're casually dusting", but she always comes alive in hold. Finally, Craig tells her to tuck her thumb under (Fern exclaims "oh, man!" in a tone that implies Artem's warned her about that already and she totally forgot), but he liked the flow around the floor.

There's confusion in the Tess Circle where Tess claims that Craig said the f-word ("fantastic"), but neither Fern nor Artem actually noticed this and Fern's far too preoccupied with that to actually listen to anything else Tess says. Fern says that she doesn't want to let Artem down, and she also has her hand on his ass pretty much the whole time. I can't blame her: wouldn't you, in her position? Scores: Craig 6, Darcey 6, Len 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 24. "Perfect!" declares Fern, who seems to think she's on an early series of Dancing On Ice.

Next up are Richard and Erin. Last week, Richard's waltz was appreciated by Len and Craig, but less so by Darcey and Bruno who thought it wasn't gay enough. Erin, bless her heart, has taken this as a serious personal affront and thus her self-given brief for this week's cha cha cha was "you want gay? I'll give you so much gay you'll be sneezing amyl nitrate for a week". Richard says he needs to work on the balance of getting his feet right and giving it the personality, and he thinks his feet might end up being the casualties.

They're dancing to 'Love Shack' (AMAZING), while wearing extremely loud pink and green floral prints (AMAZING) and Richard's hair has been seriously quiffed up. There's a sign-post on the side of the stage with arrows pointing to the love shack, the BBC canteen, and Craig's sense of humour (that one's pointing to the floor, because Craig's sense of humour is back in Australia, lolz) - as visual gags go, it's decent enough, but it is also right in the way of the camera for a good third of the dance, so from a sightline perspective, it's a bit annoying. The whole thing is an absolute gaysplosion; they're both miming along, and Richard's free arm is a bit wafty, but really this is just an excellent lesson in why you should never, ever get into a gay-off with Erin Boag, because she will win at all costs.

Bruno's aghast, saying it was "blissfully barmy" - it was the weirdest cha cha cha, but "in a sick way, I enjoyed it". Craig wasn't entirely convinced that Richard wanted to take Erin to a love shack (heh), and thought the cha cha cha walks belonged in a drag show. Darcey says "this is the Richard I wanted to see, relaxed, full of life, GAY GAY GAY DO EVERYTHING GAY LIKE THIS." I might have paraphrased slightly. However, she has something to say to Erin, at which point Erin pulls an amazing "oh really? You have a note for me? Well, let's hear it then, DARCEY SO-CALLED BUSSELL" face. Apparently Darcey wants more tension in the arms, and she needs Richard to lead Erin. Len says that Richard's free arm was "hanging down like a bit of cotton from a knicker leg" and scolds Richard for being a better dancer than that, who ought to be above such wanton campery. "Certain people need to do all that; you don't." It's scaring me how much I'm agreeing with Len this year.

Up they GAY to the Tess Circle, and Tess asks Richard how it went. Richard turns the question on Erin: "how do you think it went love?" and collapses into giggles. Erin thinks it went great - she saw everyone doing the mashed potato! Tess asks Richard what he plans to bring to the competition next week. "Apparently, tighter knicker elastic!" he quips. Scores: Craig 3, Darcey 6, Len 5, Bruno 5 for a total of 19. I think the lesson here is that if you have the choice between pleasing Craig and Len or pleasing Bruno and Darcey, always go with the former. The other lesson appears to be that Darcey only has two paddles. Fuck's sake, Darcey.

Next are Victoria and Brendan. Bruce does a gag about how they ran kate last Friday and
didn't have enough time for Craig's comments, and if they run late again, they'll have to skip Craig's feedback once more. He then proceeds to potter aimlessly about the stage, chatting with the audience and the band for a minute or so. I assume that was the punchline to his joke, but you can never be entirely sure with Bruce. Victoria was disappointed to fuck up last week, while Brendan says that you can never tell how something will go: they ran it four times in the corridor before the show and it was really good (indeed, the footage does seem to back this up) but it just went wrong on the live show. Victoria says she was annoyed to have put so much work in and then not deliver at the crucial moment. This week she's been practising in a big swooshy skirt and getting quite distracted by it. Brendan says she's come back firing, and Victoria says it's essential for her to improve and get herself off the bottom of the leaderboard.

They're doing a foxtrot to 'Moondance', and it's a better showing than last week, not that that would be difficult. She still looks a little unsteady on her feet out of hold, but once they pair up they deliver a pretty good routine together. There's still some awkwardness that she needs to work on: at one point near the end when she spins into Brendan's arms, she doesn't quite move her own arm out of the way in time and ends up with her elbow planted into his chest and pretty much backhanding him across the face. She's still very tottery in those heels, too, but I'm sure the overall quality of that performance will be a big relief to both of them.

Len calls it "clean, classy and confident - a fantastic improvement". The transitions in and out of hold need work, but apart from that, it was good. Bruno thinks Victoria is back in the race, but needs to work on her turns because she's not spotting. Craig point out that she remembered it: "that's got to be worth at least one point". He thought the turns were rigid, and when she turns back into hold she needs to get her arm out of the way faster, but it was good. Darcey warns her to watch her flayed fingers, but she thinks now Victoria's going to start having fun.

They get a hero's welcome in the Tess Circle for that, and Victoria says that she's been holding on to Brendan because she knows he'll take care of her. Brendan says Victoria's a gem to work with. I think it probably helps that his last full-time partner was the hideous hosebeast Bloody Lulu; I think Satan himself would probably be a more compliant partner than she was. Scores: Craig 6, Darcey 6, Len 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 26 - a full ten points ahead of their score last week.

Next up are Michael and Natalie. Michael admits that he enjoyed last week's waltz, and Natalie says she couldn't have been happier with his performance last week - it was a great start to the series. This week they've got the jive, which feels like a very cruel draw for Michael so early on. His daughter turns up to rehearsals with her entire school, and that's pretty much the entirety of their VT.

Not that it matters, because they're doing all their talking on the dancefloor, AND HOW. Natalie, in her infinite wisdom, has choreographed a lumberjack-themed jive to 'This Ole House', starting with Michael chopping imaginary trees with a big glittery axe. The choreography is amazing, but Michael cannot do any of it. Unlike Nicky, however, he managed to be hilarious in the process. Watching Michael completely fail to jive is somehow hugely entertaining, because despite his lack of ability, he really is trying. The kicks section is a particularly delightful mess, as is the part where he randomly kicks Natalie in the arse for no apparent reason. I think it speaks volumes that even though I'm on a very tight deadline for writing this recap, I'm still going back to watch this again just for fun. Amazing. Even better is the end, where Natalie sits on the edge of a wheelbarrow and promptly falls in, then Michael wheels her over to the judges and she leans out to pick up the axe on the way. There just isn't enough "amazing" in the world to do that routine justice. There isn't even enough "amazing" in Leona Lewis's world.

Bruno opens: "OH BRUCE, GIVE ME THE AXE! OH MY GOD!" He says he's never seen such bad footwork, but it was so funny. "The timing was so bad, it was good. You couldn't do it worse." Craig says it was "one of the oddest jives I've ever witnessed in 10 series", adding "most of the time it looked like you were busting for a wee". Len appreciates the gusto and enthusiasm, but says "there was a lot going on, but unfortunately it was mostly bad". Darcey attempts to say "it was a great improvement", and Len snorts "on what?" Hee.

They scamper up to the Tess Circle with Natalie grinning and wielding the axe (AMAZING), and she manages to hold her conviction that she thought Michael was "great" for a full half a second before dissolving into giggles. I love Natalie so much. Scores: Craig 2, Darcey 5, Len 4, Bruno 4 for a total of 15. "Could be worse," says Natalie. Not according to Strictly history, it couldn't.

Louis's VT is given over in part to Darcey's giant ladyboner for him, and Flavia hopes they can "give her a little more enjoyment" over the next few weeks. Is she setting herself up as Louis's pimp? They're doing the Viennese waltz to 'Puppy Love', possibly the worst song in the history of forever, and Louis admits that he's struggling to convey the romanticism. With that song, I'll consider it an achievement if he makes it all the way through without vomiting.

They're dancing surrounded by peculiar heart-shaped topiary, and he's pretty good, although he's still doing snooty French waiter-face. Also, I'm repeatedly distracted by how utterly ridiculous his hair looks from behind. Dance-wise, however, it seems impressive, with some nicely deft footwork.

Darcey likes Louis's calm confidence and grace, but she wants more of an emotional connection between Louis and Flavia, yeah? She was impressed with the fleckerl, though. Len says he saw "more turns than the government" and great posture, and says it was the best dance of the night. Bruce unwisely tries to start a chant: "Well said Len! Well said Len! Well said Len! We like Roy! We like Roy!" Bruno thinks he did feel the emotional connection, and the ending was delicious. He agrees it was the best dance so far.

In the Tess Circle, Tess asks if he feels like a ballroom dancer, and Louis says that he feels very dapper in that suit. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 7, Len 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 30. Look out everyone, Darcey's found a third paddle! There's no stopping her now!

Denise and James are next, and Denise says that dancing the waltz was the best feeling in the world but also the scariest. James has temporarily put his feud with Craig on the backburner because of his positive comments last week, but there might be a spat with Len in the offing after he criticised Denise's footwork. This week they've got the jive, which Denise admits is exhausting to rehearse repeatedly. "I'm dizzy enough as it is," she jokes. Then the tone changes, as James reveals that Denise turned up one morning with a pain in the neck, entirely separate from the pain in the neck who she was going to be training with. Then Denise went to physio and was diagnosed with mild whiplash. The end!

Their jive to 'Tutti Frutti' doesn't get off to the best of starts considering it involves a solo Denise gurning "where's James? WHERE'S JAMES?" - but then he turns up and they embark on a very impressive jive - full of precise kicks and spins and an energy level that never lets up for a second. I can overlook all that nonsense at the beginning when what follows is as good as that was.

They're completely out of breath at the end, so Bruce deliberately and cruelly says "I know you wanted to say a few words." Sometimes he really can be spontaneously funny, can't he? Darcey loved the jive and retracting kicks, but warns Denise not to put too much energy into her shoulders for the arm movements because it makes them jerky. Len breaks out "tutti frutti, what a booty!" once again and says it was fabulous - last week he was disappointed, this week he's delighted. Bruno asks her if the doctor fitted her with a turbo setting, and says that's the sort of jive they like to see. Craig calls it "FAB-U-LOUS!", which prompts James to run up and kiss him on the lips, and then Denise to run up and kiss him on the cheek. Honestly, no wonder society is crumbling with such wanton displays on omnisexuality on primetime BBC1.

Up in the Tess Circle, Tess enquires after Denise's neck (she thinks she'll be in agony tomorrow) and asks if James is pushing her too hard (yes). Scores: eights all round for a total of 32.

Having to follow that are Johnny and Iveta. Johnny says that he enjoyed last week's dance, but the judges didn't seem to. Iveta says that if Johnny's biggest problem is miming along, then that's easily fixable. He's been training very hard - he's even there rehearsing by himself before Iveta gets there. The music editors are on fine form again, incidentally, because they're playing 'What The Hell' by Avril Lavigne underneath this. Iveta gaffer-tapes Johnny's mouth to stop him miming, and he says that he hopes the judges are watching his feet and his arms rather than his mouth.

They're dancing the foxtrot to 'Everything' by Michael Bublé, and despite Iveta's lovely choreography and her best attempts to cover it all up by constantly twirling about in front of Johnny, his footwork is pretty poor and his framing isn't great either. Still, he's clearly having a ball (no pun intended) so I don't feel I can be too critical.

Len tells Johnny that he does everything with enthusiasm, and this is the same. He was pleased with the movement around the floor, and the fact that it had a lot of content. Bruno thought the scene was set up very well, and he thought Johnny hit some very nice lines out of hold. And if there's one thing Bruno's familiar with, it's nice lines. However, in hold, Johnny got a little stiff. And I'm not going for the "stiff Johnny" joke because it's too easy, so there. Craig thought there were splayed hands on the back and some gapping caused by poor posture, but it was "a really decent effort". Darcey tells him to work on the top line, because Iveta needs his support, and tells him to believe in himself.

In the Tess Circle, Tess asks him how it went, and Johnny admits the frame was weak and that's frustrating because he'd been working on that, but it was a lovely routine and Iveta is fabulous. Iveta says she was trying to bring the gentleman out of Johnny, and it's natural for him so he just has to be himself. Maybe that made more sense in the original Lithuanian. Scores: Craig 5, Darcey 5, Len 5, Bruno 5 for a total of 20.

Sid and Ola are next, and Sid says that his first few steps last Saturday were "a little bit dodge", but on the whole he enjoyed it, and he was overjoyed to get a SEV-UNN from Len. This week, Ola tells us, they are "attempting" the salsa, and Sid says that there's a lot going on: three lifts, a knee-slide, and one handed handstand. He thinks Ola doesn't realise that he's 40, and is just praying it comes together on the night.

They're dancing to 'Hips Don't Lie' (I'm amazed it's taken Ola this long to cast herself as Shakira) and it's a decent stab at a salsa, even if parts of it are a little bit Ola Jordan Latin-choreography-by-numbers. His hips are a bit rigid, ironically enough, but it's a good attempt at spectacle, which I suppose is half the battle.

Bruno says that he loved "the Sid Vicious attitude", but that disguised a lot of mistakes, and that he was off-time most of the way through. Craig agrees with Bruno, finding it hit-and-miss, but on the bright side, he loved the routine itself and thinks there is a lot of good in there. Darcey thinks the energy died in parts, but he partnered Ola brilliantly, and she felt very confident watching the lifts. Len says that the salsa is "from the Caribbean, Kingston, Jamaica" (hang on, isn't the salsa from Cuba?) and this was more "Kingston-upon-Thames" - it was too formal, then Sid went wrong and it all fell apart a bit.

Up in the Tess Circle, Sid admits that he got excited, but he did lose his steps a bit. Tess crows about the "Louis one-hand handstand" and asks Sid if there might be some splits in the future. "Maybe," says Sid uneasily. Scores: Craig 6, Darcey 6, Len 5, Bruno 5 for a total of 22. Sid and Ola seem a little disappointed, but Sid promises to keep working hard and says he's got a tango next week if he's still here.

Then we have Kimberley and Pasha with their foxtrot. Over footage of last week's comments from the judges, Kimberley giggles that she doesn't know what "incandescent" means, but she didn't think it was right to ask Craig at the time. She also hopes that "Nimble Kimble" catches on as a nickname. Pasha says that if you can get the foxtrot right, then you can dance, but Kimberley worries that she can't make it elegant and smooth. She says that she generally knows she's in the right position if she's in pain. Someone's obviously passed Kimberley an early draft of that sex manual I'm writing.

They're dancing to 'Someone Like You' by Adele. Oh, Pasha. Why must you put me through this? I feel like my hatred of this song has been well-documented in the past, but since they insist on confronting me with it: I don't understand what people find so relatable or romantic about it. If my ex turned up unannounced at the house I was living in with my new partner, some time after we broke up, and was all "I just felt the urge to come here and tell you that I'm completely fine, no hard feelings, I'm just going to find someone exactly like you and date them instead, and as long as you promise not to forget about me, then everything's going to be absolutely great", I would call the police. Anyway, to the dance: they start out of hold and it looks pretty good, but once she takes hold she starts to make a few mistakes, pulling away in the wrong direction and stumbling, and in the last third of the dance her frame completely goes to pot. It's a shame - I thought this was going to be a real showstopper at the start, but the delivery just wasn't there.

Craig thought it was gorgeous and he loved the routine, but he thought Kimberley's protruding jaw was a problem. "Yeah, but how do you think I feel?" snarks Bruce. Darcey thought Kimberley created a beautiful mood, but her top line gets soft and she needs to watch the gapping. She loved the line in her attitude promenade though - it may not have brought "the wow factor" she wanted, but it was a very nice foxtrot. Len thought it was limp and lacked conviction, and she went wrong - it's good enough, but his expectations for Kimberley are huge and she needs to do better. Bruno loved the set-up and the style, but she needs more body contact in hold and to lift from the spine. Overall, however, he thought it looked pretty.

Tess attempts to reassure Kimberley by saying it's the prettiest jaw she's ever seen. Kimberley admits that she was really nervous this week and she thinks that affected her. Tess asks how she plans to impress Len next week, and Kimberley says she just needs more time to get it into her body. Another excerpt from my sex manual, I really must find out who leaked that. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 6, Len 6, Bruno 7 for a total of 26. Kimberley's slightly reassured by that. Tess asks if she was more nervous because Nicola and Nuhdeen were in the audience, and Kimberley thinks it was more being so late in the running order. She should be careful what she wishes for, or she'll end up being put on first all the time like Alex Jones was, and risk having everyone forget you're even there by the time they open the phone lines.

On to Jerry and Anton, our penultimate couple for the evening. Jerry drawls that she thinks the dance went well, but what she really succeeded in was "working the fur shawl". This week they've got the foxtrot, and Anton's adamant that there's definitely enough content in this one. Jerry says that she's starting to feel a little competitive, but she doesn't want to be too good in the beginning so the other ones have a chance. I like that she has her own journey already mapped out. She's probably already requested which weeks she wants to be bottom two in and everything. Although if she carries on the way she's going at the moment, she might have to settle for "all of them".

They're dancing to 'Pennies From Heaven' and there is definitely a lot more content in this week's dance than there was in last week's. Her dancing's not too bad, though she's a little bit trippy and her hand is splayed across Anton's shoulder which doesn't look good at all. She also repeatedly forgets to keep her head in the correct position, and near the end she just sort of stands there vaguely gesturing with her arms, having seemingly completely lost the thread.

Darcey is pleased that Jerry has worked harder, and while she started with good posture, she lost it quite quickly. Len says "if you want to give the others a chance, you've accomplished that for sure". Heh. He liked the content, the heel turn, and the mix of steps, but Jerry is too vertical and she needs to move away from Anton. Sound advice for everyone, I suspect. Bruno thinks Jerry was stuck on Anton like Velcro, and was letting him do all the work, but he enjoyed the content. Craig says "it looked like Anton was dancing with Mr Burns, darling" and says that the last time he saw posture like that, it was in his garden on a preying mantis. "He hasn't got a garden!" jeers Anton. Yeah, the man never drank a Duff in his life!

They take their time on their way up to the Tess Circle, and Anton snarks that all those impersonations the judges were doing were the worst accents he's ever heard. Tess asks Jerry if her modelling background will help her with the posture (like Tess is in ANY position to talk about posture), and Jerry jokes that it's just hard to keep herself away from Anton. Anton says that if they're still here next week, they'll be doing a quickstep - "a lot of steps, and they're all quick." Thanks Anton! Scores: Craig 3, Darcey 5, Len 5, Bruno 5 for a total of 18.

Finally, we have Lisa and Robin. Lisa was amazed at how well last week's routine went, and topping the leaderboard made it the best night of her life - however, now she's got to do the Viennese waltz and she's worried it's going to go pear-shaped. She admits that she's more of a "fast, boppy girl" than a "structured ballerina", and thinks she's not out of the danger zone despite last week's performance.

Robin has choreographed a Cinderella-themed routine to Paloma Faith's cover of 'Never Tear Us Apart' (it's been a good show for John Lewis tonight, hasn't it?), in a clear bid to challenge Erin for the gayness crown of the evening. Inevitably, it's not as slick as her performance last week was, because she can't just get through the whole thing on energy and jazz hands alone, but it's still a very creditable effort: I think she needs to tone down the head-splitting grin a tad, but her footwork seems strong and the storytelling is good. She just needs to work on finishing her lines a bit more cleanly and just take her time over the movements a bit more, and I think she could be just as good at ballroom as she was in her Latin last week.

The crowd are on their feet and whooping for Lisa, and Len says that it was a panto - with Cinderella, Prince Charming, the fairy godmother (indicates Darcy), the ugly sisters (Craig and Bruno) and Baron Hardup (himself). He thought she was fabulous out of hold, but she needs to come and see him after the show for some pointers about her work in hold. Bruno loves that she gives full-on entertainment, but sometimes she was so into it that she looked like she was leading Robin, so she needs to be more refined. Craig thought she danced with great dexterity and a lightness that he didn't expect - it was graceful, but she does need to let the man lead. Darcey loves the focus in Lisa's eyes and the mood that she creates, but she grabs Robin too hard and needs to let him be the one doing the grabbing. Somewhere up in the Tess Circle, Artem's like "please, yes, do that. It'll give me a break."

Speaking of the Tess Circle, Lisa says she felt like a princess, but now she needs to get back to her Northern Roots. She's Northern! Don't forget that! Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 6, Len 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 25.

So, let's look at that leaderboard:
1st: Louis & Flavia (27 + 30 = 57)
1st: Denise & James (25 + 32 = 57)
3rd: Lisa & Robin (30 + 25 = 55)
4th: Kimberley & Pasha (28 + 26 = 54)
5th: Dani & Vincent (21 + 27 = 48)
5th: Sid & Ola (26 + 22 = 48)
7th: Colin & Kristina (23 + 24 = 47)
8th: Fern & Artem (19 + 24 = 43)
9th: Victoria & Brendan (16 + 26 = 42)
10th: Richard & Erin (22 + 19 = 41)
11th: Johnny & Iveta (17 + 20 = 37)
12th: Jerry & Anton (18 + 18 = 36)
13th: Nicky & Karen (17 + 18 = 35)
13th: Michael & Natalie (20 + 15 = 35)

One couple's going home tomorrow. And if it's Richard & Erin, then it's basically a hate crime. I'm just saying.


lausace said...

ahaha thaank you i missed this blog so much. Did anyone clock Bruce saying he'd 'really enjoyed the story' after lisa&robins waltz, and when the subsequently elaborated, bruce looked deeply confused and consented to not having got the story..bless

F a t i m a said...

Excellent summary, but you need to put the placement points on your leaderboard (Denise & Louis both 14 etc). They are the numbers which count when we add to the public voting order.

Steve said...

lausace - Thanks for commenting, glad you enjoyed the blog! Yes, I noticed that - I can only wonder what sort of story Bruce thought they were telling...

Fatima - Thanks for reading and commenting. As a general rule I don't bother including the placement points in the recaps - we've explained how the system works many times in the past and we always include the leaderboard rankings, so I always thought that people would be able to work out the points easily enough if that was what was of interest to them. I try to avoid getting too bogged down in the actual maths of how the bottom two is calculated as that side of things isn't really what we're about.

Patrick said...

Sex manual is coming out when?