Last week! 15 celebrities danced for the first time and it wasn’t a series of waltzes and cha chas! Abbey and Natalie led a women-dominated top half of the table and Dave and Tony propped up a male-dominated bottom (insert kinky joke of your choice here). Along with Bake-Off and X Factor, it really is as if Autumn 2013 is the reality show ‘year of the ovaries’ isn’t it?
Tonight! They dance for the second time! And you get to vote, including voting online because that’s not going to end badly at all! Cue titles!
Because Brucie is sick, Claudia and Tess are on presenting duties tonight, with Tess apparently taking the Bruce role dishing out the catchphrases and bad jokes for a change. Daly dresswatch: Black, sparkly, looks a bit like a bin bag after a glitter explosion but not too bad by her usual standards. Claudia has a black skirt on coupled with a green and black top that makes her look like she’s wearing a boob tube over a t-shirt. Not only do they bump bottoms, as they go into the dance hold pose, Tess clutches Claudia’s head to her breasts (that's got to get us some hits, right?). We’re probably long overdue a lesbian Saturday night TV takeover, but who’d have thought it would be this show that provided it?
Our couples enter and this week Sophie gets very into dancing to the theme tune – in fact all of the women are having a little boogie except Janette, Abbey and Ola. The men still need to get into the spirit a bit more, though.
Past contestant spotters will be pleased to note that Harry Judd is in the audience tonight.
Tess and Claudia remind us about the voting system and recap last week’s leaderboard which was topped by Abbey and Aljaž with 32 points and bottomed by Dave and Karen and Tony and Aliona both on 16.
First up are Kevin from I hope the whole of Grimsby votes for you and Susanna from home of champions BBC Breakfast. Last week they did well and Kevin wore some glasses in training and then Susanna did the worst cartwheel ever and they became our favourites. This week Kevin is wearing a shirt and tie in training which doesn’t seem the best training wear given the sweat patches he produces. [Kevin really needs to stop turning up for rehearsals dressed as Anton Du Beke. That'll sort that little problem out. - Steve] There is some footage of Kevin in glasses, most notably them dancing in the aisles of a train (standard class, Daily Mail please note). Not pictured: Them being rammed into by a trolley of drinks and light refreshments thirty seconds later.
They’re dancing their tango to ‘Locked out of Heaven’ and are both wearing sparkly black and white. It starts with a lot of Susanna being dragged around. The rest of the dance is pretty decent for a week two effort-plenty of different moves and a good sense of purpose – although in places Susanna’s feet look a bit clumpy and her head movements aren’t always stiff enough. The singers have changed the lyrics to ‘love takes me to paradise’ instead of ‘sex’. Tess makes the obligatory ‘introduce the judges with a laugh at Craig for being mean’ joke. Daly don’t really do jokes so it comes across kind of sweet and goofy. Len loved it, Bruce thinks they had a lot of spirit. Craig liked the Flamenco style and thought it had a lot of intent. He thought Susanna was a bit loose at times and her hand was gripping too tightly but overall the dance was very good. Darcey said she sold it but she thinks Susanna should give up her day job. Wrong show, Darcey!
They bound up to Claudia’s counselling circle to loud cheers and Susanna fans herself. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 8, Len 8 and Bruno 8 for a total of 31. Claudia reminds us to vote but not yet.
Next up it’s Tony and Aliona. Last week they ended up doing badly and Tony’s VT is actually quite uncomfortable – he was gutted about last week’s score because he tried really hard. Their training VT gets the BABY WARZ in early via Skype conversations with his grandchildren to cheer him up. Other than that, the training footage features Aliona telling him he’ll get out of breath because he is so OLD and Tony being upset that the judges don’t like him. Who’d have thought Tony would be the contestant this year’s series broke first? [My money was on Rachel. - Steve]
Their Charleston is to It Don’t Mean a Thing (if it Ain’t Got That Swing) and is set on a golf course with Tony in sparkly plus-fours and Aliona playing the part of the bored golfing widow. They start with some teeing off and Tony using a golf club as a cane before moving into something approximating a Charleston. It is a bit of a mean dance to give as the second dance to an older person but that’s probably part of Aliona’s strategy to get a first boot. It doesn’t actually start out too badly insofar as Tony has obviously attempted to learn the routine but he has no sharpness in his kicks and flicks and he just doesn’t have the energy or physicality to pull it off.
Aliona keeps fanning a sweaty Tony as they go over to the judges because she is so over the whole thing and sticks her hand on his shoulder maintaining almost a full arm’s length distance from him. Bruno says it didn’t swing him where they wanted him to go and the most exciting thing about it was the jumper, to a cry of ‘awww’ from the audience but there was no swivel and it wasn’t really a good Charleston. Craig says it was limp, lame and lacklustre without an ounce of swivel and Tony was getting ahead of himself. Darcey says it was a lot better than last week. Len says you can’t always be good at something when you’ve only had five weeks’ training, and he’s a SPORTSMAN not an actor so well done him. Scores: 2, 4, 4, 3 for a total of 13. I can’t remember the last time Len gave less than a 5. [Not since he gave fours to both Nicky Byrne and Michael Vaughan in week three of last series. - Steve The Stats Bod]
Up next are Natalie and Artem. Last week she was good but Abbey topped the leaderboard so, as with Denise last year, the show can demonstrate that the ringer isn’t miles ahead of the rest, so shut up internet haterz etc. Their training involves Artem making Natalie dizzy which seems purely some sort of sick revenge upon her for last week’s VT. Their waltz is to If I Ain’t Got You. She’s wearing a lovely red frock and it’s a lovely, controlled waltz with some crazy head-spinning bits that make me feel a little bit sick just to watch. Tess says she had goosepimples throughout. She asks Craig if he was moved; he was – there was a bit of gapping but she did some lovely Natalie Lowe (neva 4get) head rolls in it. Darcey says to be able to do the head rolls and turns was difficult. Len loved the feel of it, the grace and elegance and it had a double-reverse turn in, which was a tricky step, but he would have liked some more heel leads. Bruno says it had incredible fluidity and Natalie tells a god story with her movements. Up in Claudia’s counselling circle Natalie says it was a beautiful song to dance to, and Artem is proud. Scores: 8, 9, 8, 9 for a total of 34. Crikey, we’re going to get a 10 next week at this rate. Claudia says she is going to be ‘strict’ if we vote before time but she knows you love it like that, don’t you Tess?
Dave and Karen are next. Last week Dave was bad but funny and whilst he seems likeable so far, he is no doubt going to be KING OF THE LOLZ soon and that joke will end up going on for far too long. I can’t wait! Their training VT shows Karen using food as a way of training him to dance and then them going to eat on a boat.
Their American Smooth is to ‘How Do You Like Your Eggs in the Morning’ and they have a full on 50s kitchen set. Karen is wearing a pink 50s dress whilst Dave has on a turquoise-green jacket and flowery tie. He stumbles a bit and Karen has to bring him back, and it’s a bit stilted and awkward but he has a better grasp of the steps than last week. It’s light on the Komedy Khoreography although Karen is pulling good goof-faces throughout. Tess says he’s been working hard. Darcey says he’s found some control and has beautiful long arms but they get a bit ‘paddly’ and he needs to touch Karen when he picks her up. FILTH. She says it was a shame they used a chair to get Karen into a lift. Len randomly says it was like the Sermon on the Mount for reasons I don’t understand and it was a bit like flying on a budget airline – bumpy but they landed OK and got through it. He says there were some nice heel leads and he loves the anticipation of watching him because LOL COMEDY CONTESTANT LIKE THE SARGE AND WIDDY. Bruno says he’s not cooking up a storm, he’s cooking up a stink, to a chorus of boos. He says Dave needs a sense of musicality, although I’m not sure whether that’s something you can just learn – maybe it’s something you either have or not. Tess says she hopes Craig gives more than a 2. He just laughs. He says it was ‘by numbers’ and lacks style but he can put that in later. He says the lift was lumberjackish. NATALIE LOWE SHOUT-OUT! Craig clearly misses her as much as us. Tess says Bruce has texted her (like Bruce ever texts anyone) [seriously. Bruce probably sends smoke signals - Steve] and they’re his favourites. Scores: 3, 5, 5, 4 for a total of 17 and an increase of 1 from last week.
Patrick and Anya are up next and he was pleased last week to be the only male invited to the vagina party that is the top of the leaderboard. This week they’re dancing to Michael Jackson and Anya takes him to a club with a dancefloor and no other punters to get him in the spirit. They open with some bizarre staging: Patrick is on top of a plinth (again, wrong show) and Anya winds him up – he appears to be the mannequin in a music box or similar, but I don’t really get it. Their tango starts with some Robot-esque gestures which surely should be Abbey’s schtick? Patrick’s tango face is more constipated than serious and his leg work isn’t as strong as last week’s but he does have a sense of pace. It ends with Anya atop the plinth and Patrick turning the cog. I don’t even know what that storytelling was about. He says something went wrong but Tess tells him not to say anything until the judges have spoken. Tess thinks it had verve and it was a great tango and he’ll be hanging around for weeks. Bruno says he went for it and he lost his frame a bit but it needed more stealth. Craig says his bottom stuck out a bit and needed to be tucked under more. He needed to step off more on the heel than the ball but his timing was excellent. Darcey says he needs to turn with his whole back and not just his shoulder, but he’s one to watch. Claudia tells us Patrick’s son is in the audience but I’m mesmerised by some of the horrible outfits on people we’ve yet to see. Scores: 6, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 27.
Next up: Deborah and Robin. Deborah was pleased with the first half of their routine last week but it went wrong a bit in the middle. She tells us she’s looking forward to the Latin dances because her husband Paul and her have backpacked all over the world and it gives her good memories. I’m not sure if telling people about your globetrotting ways is a votewinner or something that will alienate people as a POSH RICH BITCH but her husband then comes to training which is very sweet. [I did love Deborah a little bit just for being so very literal about her Latin background. - Steve] Their cha cha cha is to ‘RESPECT’ and they’re both dressed in hot pink. Deborah is smiling throughout although looks unsure of the moves in places and Robin occasionally needs to pull her into position. Some of it’s pretty good, some of it less so – standard mid-table fare, in other words. Bruno loved the feisty personality and thought she was so much better but she needs more hip action and better foot placement. Craig calls it ‘dragon vs drag queen’ but says she had great attitude. She does need to straighten her legs more and stomp less but she was enjoying it, which was a joy to watch. Darcey loves watching someone go for it but her timing is good and she works hard. Len says she was on the money more or less and gets his respect. She captured the cheeky character of the dance and needs to work on technique more, but Robin can teach her that. They bound up to Claudia and Claudia says she would buy a DVD of their training footage because they laugh so hard. Scores: 5, 7, 6, 6 for a total of 24.
Next up: Rachel and Pasha, aka the cutest of the cute couples. The show captions him as Pascha, by the way, but I presume that’s just a spelling mistake given he’s always been Pasha before and his official Twitter doesn’t have a ‘c’ in it. Their training footage looks painful in places as they try to be sexy, but really they’re just like two idle chipmunks whose cheeks you want to pinch (*awaits google hits from people with very niche preferences*). Their salsa is to ‘Get Lucky’ and appears to be set in a disused café for whatever reason. Rachel is wearing orange and Pasha has his tits out because he knows what will win him votes. The dance is a bit clumsy and sloppy which is what I’d kind of been expecting from Rachel from the launch show, but it’s still quite endearing. Craig didn’t like it much. Darcey says Rachel should flirt with Pasha more because he’s easy to flirt with, at which he pulls a very flirty gawp-face, which is utterly a-d’awww-able. There’s a boy who knows his market. She says there were a couple of messy endings and beginnings but they need to be more precise. Len thought Rachel was ‘working her assets’ quite a bit (i.e. Pasha’s tits) but she needs to wow us more. Bruno says it was like watching a gorgeous rag doll at the mercy of the elements and she needs to work on her balance. Claudia says she was amazing. Rachel says she just wanted to have fun. Claudia was happy that they had a hatstand on stage. Scores: 4, 5, 6 (Pasha: ‘Let’s go for a 7’. Bless), 5 for a total of 20. [I thought that was a bit undermarked. Sure, it was stompy and a bit messy, but I thought her timing was pretty good, and for Darcey to score her lower than Dave was madness. - Steve]
Vanessa and James are next. Last week the judges didn’t like them even though James got his tiny nipples out. This week VANESSA DONE A CRY AT THE MAGIC OF THE DAHNCE! Now, I *did* expect this show to break her early on. [Ba-duh. - Steve] Their waltz is to ‘Run to You’ (Whitney, not Roxette, sadly) and it’s a bit ‘walky’ rather than dancey but that’s early waltzes for you, I guess. There isn’t much to it apart from Vanessa doing some sad acting by putting her arms crossed over her chest like she’s an eight year old learning contemporary dance or something. And then she cries again because she doesn’t want it to be over. Darcey says Vanessa expressed the emotion of romance. I thought romance was more a mood than an emotion? Len thought it was heartfelt and poignant with a little story but Vanessa needs to work on the details now. Bruno liked that she was connected and involved, with technical issues to work on such as her footwork and her line. Craig doesn’t want to see her dance Latin ever again, but… isn’t that the point of the show? Vanessa weeps a bit more up in Claudia’s Counselling Circle. Scores: 5, 6, 6, 6 for a total of 23. James is sweet and says he’s happy with that and says they’ll keep improving. Manufacturers! I think this James Jordan is malfunctioning.
Next up! JANETTE! And JULIEN! Time to put your earplugs in! Last week Julien’s knees were bent but he loved dancing to Vogue (obviously). This week they’re doing the Tango which is masculine and aggressive so Julien needs to butch up, so they’re going to the gym where he does the feeblest punching ever seen on a photo of Craig’s face. They open on thrones opposite a gaudy table which then acts as a plinth. Both are wearing lots of sparkles although Janette’s severe hair and make-up are quite something – although not sure that is something I want to see again. Their tango is to ‘Applause’ and Janette is giving as much tango-face as she can muster (insert joke about Artem’s tan last week). Julien has a go but he’s not really there and it’s somewhat sloppy and floppy overall. Len compares tango to a cactus (sharp) and Julien to an orchid (GAYLOLZ) but it was more of a ‘Wimpy’ than a ‘Big Mac’ (LOLGAYLOL). Bruno called it the Mary Rose in order to get in yet another gay joke and said it looked more like a Paso – probably because the costume they gave Julien was full on matador, which didn’t help matters. Craig says his posture was ghastly. Darcey says it suited him better than last week but he needs to watch his posture. Julien says he did his best and he’s been dancing all week. Erm, isn’t that the same as everyone? Scores: 3, 5, 5, 5 for a total of 18. Tony’s ‘Oh bugger, I’m still last’ face in the background is kind of funny.
Next up: Anton and Fiona. Tess does the obligatory ‘Anton has a partner who can dance joke’ even though he has had partners who can dance before and he’s largely screwed them up with his Latin and his mouth (NO NOT LIKE THAT FILTHMONGERS). They go outside to feed animals and dance in a field. What a rubbish VT. Their cha cha cha is to ‘Beggin'’ and starts with Fiona’s leg draped over a chair and Anton sitting down, which is probably the best place for him in a Latin. She stutters a bit and they both look a bit uncomfortable and then she nearly falls over in one place. It’s not great, put it that way. Tess reminds us that BOND BOND BOND and says she liked the bit where Fiona did the plank. Bruno says she needs to ‘do it right’ and not go wrong. Yeah, thanks, Bruno. Craig says it was good until she kicked Anton. Oh come on, we all want to do that. Darcey says she needs consistency as she has some good bits and has lots of promise. Len says she does a lot of good things on her own (because LOL ANTONLATIN) but needs to hold it together more. Up in Claudia’s Counselling Centre and Anton’s trousers are bulging a bit uncomfortably. [MY EYES WILL NEVER RECOVER. - Steve] Nicky from Westlife is one thing, but Anton… I just don’t want my brain to go there. Scores: 6, 6, 5, 5 for a total of 22.
Mark and Iveta are next and I’m already feeling a bit weary. 15 couples in one night is a lot, y’all. Last week everyone thought he would suck, but instead he was mid-table! As first-night shocker stories go, it’s no Lisa Riley, although another Lisa Riley is probably too much for any of us to take, so let’s be grateful. He’s nervous because he wants to be sexy and LOLFATTY’s can’t be sexy. OH MY EYES Mark’s shirt. It’s like a volcano at the sweet factory spewed out a lava of molten Chupa Chups. In every flavour. Their salsa (to ‘Bom Bom’) is not good in any way – it doesn’t look like a salsa at all and Mark isn’t really doing anything much other than flinging arms about - although Iveta shakes it for all she’s worth. And whatever have they done to Mark’s hair? [Fun fact: they're quite limited in terms of what they can do with Mark's hair as long as he's still in Hairspray, which I think he still is. He's not allowed to cut it too short or they wouldn't be able to clip his wigs in. - Steve] I think he’s probably better than that, and they probably need to decide if he or Dave is the designated comic relief otherwise they’re splitting the market. Craig says it was a bit disjointed for him but it had a lot of character. Darcey loves the performance. Len says he’s a ray of sunshine because it’s a party dance and it was entertaining. Bruno says it wasn’t a salsa and had no hip action but it was fun to watch. Len snarks that it was good and pulls his smell the fart face. Scores: 4, 6, 7 (which seems to be purely because LEN HATE STUPID SALSA!), 5 for a total of 22.
Next up are Sophie and Brendan doing a Charleston which I’m looking forward to based on the ITT training footage and based on Brendan passionately hating Charleston and this being his first one. Sophie was pleased to do well last week and wants to know the history of the dance but Brendan doesn’t do history, who do you think he is, Mel Giedroyc or someone? (Why haven’t we had Mel and/or Sue on Strictly yet?). They’re dancing to something I don’t know which is apparently called 'Rock It To Me' by Caravan Palace. It’s fast and fun with lots of different moves and Sophie has a real knack for Charleston face. There are some exciting lifts and it ends with Brendan splurting glitter all over her from a champagne bottle. The choreography was incredibly advanced for a week 2 dance and I really enjoyed that. I know I’m a sucker for a good Charleston anyway but that was so much fun. Darcey says the Charleston was made for Sophie and the choreography was brilliant. Len says it was a great routine and brilliantly danced. Bruno says it was stylistically perfect and like something straight out of Gatsby. Craig says Brendan was rubbish and Sophie was fit. Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9 for a total of 36. This series really is going to pull some early 10s on us, isn’t it?
Next up: Kristina and Ben Cohen’s guns. Tess comes over all unnecessary at the thought of BENZ GUNZ and fans herself. Heh. Last week he was a bit rubbish but this week he hopes to be a ballroom god like that other SPORTSMAN Michael Vaughn. Kristina reminds us that Ben has muscles but he’s too macho, so she takes him to ballet. This weeks VTs are only one step away from Ben and Julien doing Wife Swap. [Oh god, don't go giving them ideas... - Steve] Kristina looks lovely in her ballgown with her hair swept up and Ben is wearing a very tight shirt so that we can still see his guns. Well done on both counts, wardrobe. SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE! Their waltz is to ‘What the World Needs Now’ and it’s still quite clumpy and static. Ben is kind of staring off into the middle distance vacantly throughout most of it as well. Kristina does her best to take a leaf out of the Ola Jordan book and make it all about her with lots of twirls and floor spins, though. Len liked it (obviously) but Ben doesn’t move much and he’s a bit like Stonehenge (!). Bruno says Ben has a natural charm but he needs to use the music more. Craig says he can’t help his rugby butt which is delicious, but needs to be tucked under more, and he needs to inject more personality into it as he looked terrified. [On the subject of Ben's buttocks, I really think we need to get him and Alja to stand side by side so we can decide once and for all who has the finest ass. - Steve] Darcey said it was more confident and he was a gentleman. His top line was better but there needs to be more romance and connection. Ben says he enjoyed it and Claudia says ‘who doesn’t love Stonehenge?’ Heh. Scores: 6, 6, 7 (for being a SPORTSMAN), 6 for a total of 25.
Only two couples left, thankfully. Next are last week’s top scorers, Abbey and Aljaž. Tess says there is romance brewing in the training room but LOL it’s not Abbey who’s in love with Aljaž, it’s her husband Peter Crouch, who had better not become this year’s Billy Connolly/Brian May. Still, the VT is quite funny in a sweet homoerotic kind of way as Peter and Aljaž kick a ball about the training room.
Their cha cha is to ‘Let’s Get Loud’ and Abbey is dressed in what looks like a Kylie tour cast-off (except for a TALL person). The choreography is fast but it isn’t really very ambitious – I’m pretty sure Abbey could do more than she’s been given here - and she looks really pissed off at the end. Bruno says ‘there’s plenty to fancy about Ms Clancy’ but she needs to be careful with her free band and she did stumble at the end. [And quite a lot in the middle. - Steve] Craig says it was very enjoyable although she needs to watch technique. Darcey says she can dance but she needs to relax more, especially when out of hold. Len thought it was loud and proud, full of attitude and rhythm, but her arms need more discipline. The wardrobe department must have got a good deal on hot pink and lime fabrics this week because these two are the third couple in such colours. Scores: 7, 7, 8, 8 for a generous 30.
Finally we come to the last couple of the night, Ashley and Ola. Ashley’s partner had another baby this week and Tess uses this to make a quip about late nights and screaming and then home to the baby straight from the bumper Brucie book of jokes. Their VT is all about Ashley waiting for the birth and then he tops Tony’s BABYWARZ by filming himself holding his actual newborn. Awww. Karen, Ashley’s fiancée (tonight anyway – she’ll probably be girlfriend and/or wife by tomorrow) sends them a good luck message. Their American Smooth is to ‘Beyond the Sea’. Ola’s hair is all sloped over to the side in a very weird way. Ashley looks good in a suit and he gets the cheesy spirit of the dance although his arms are a bit awkward in places when coming out of hold. [Yes, I liked this and thought it was danced well, but his arm placement is very strange. - Steve] The pacing is good and it’s quite showy with lots of range but it clearly would have been better with a bit more rehearsal. Still, it’s really not bad for a dance learned in those circumstances and so early on in the show’s run. Craig says he’s amazed with the content although Ashley needs to watch his hands and arms. Darcey says the content was amazing and he didn’t miss any moves but he needs to watch his chin. Len says he needs to be better each week than the week before and that’s what he’s done. Bruno says they had the showbiz and glamour and it was entertaining with pizzazz. Claudia takes plenty of opportunity to touch Ashley up and gets him to say hi to his partner. Ola is proud of him. Scores: 7, 9, 8, 8 for a total of 32. (Not sure what Darcey was on there).
Natalie and Artem (31+35=65 for 15 points) [SUCH A RINGER!]
Sophie and Brendan (28+36=64 for 14 points)
Abbey and Aljaž (32+30=62 for 13 points)
Susanna and Kevin (28+31=59 for 12 points)
Ashley and Ola (25+32=57 for 11 points)
Patrick and Anya (28+27-55 for 10 points)
Deborah and Robin (24+24=48 for 9 points)
Rachel and Pasha (27+20=47 for 8 points)
Fiona and Anton (24+22=46 for 7 points)
Mark and Iveta (24+22=46 for 7 points)
Ben and Kristina (19+25=44 for 6 points)
Vanessa and James (19+23=42 for 5 points)
Julien and Janette (20+18=38 for 4 points)
Dave and Karen (16+17=33 for 3 points)
Tony and Aliona (16+13=29 for 2 points)
Claudia demands we stand up for the ceremonial opening of the vote and we get a recap of everything we have just seen. Claudia does the ‘didn’t they do well’ and I can’t think Bruce is too happy about all his catchphrases being nicked, being Bruce. Tomorrow it’s the results show and someone will be going! Join me then!