Top 8 perform: Saturday 23 November 2013
Last week! BLACKPOOL happened and Fiona and Anton were dispatched in a dance-off against Mark. This week! Time for the annual VT of the celebrities attempting to sabotage each other. As usual, Patrick and Ben are not especially invested in things.
Bruce and Tess enter. DALY DRESSWATCH: Some kind of white Greek goddess thing. Quite nice, at least in comparison to last week. Bruce makes some sort of laboured joke about sat navs at which I zone out.
Bruce then makes a factually incorrect joke about breakfast presenters never getting 39 before at Fiona Phillips’ expense (punchline – it was the total of all her dances. Actual total of all her dances – 60) to a Susanna eyebrow and an audience boo. Susanna was overwhelmed by their BLACKPOOL score last week and gushes a bit at everyone down the camera. This week they’re doing the cha cha cha and Susanna is moaning that walking is hard, even though It Takes Two taught us that this is the easiest of all the dances. [Although just about every style of dance is HARD this year if you listen to Len. Which is why I don't. - Steve] To help her walk, Kevin gets her to walk on a gym beam then Susanna/”Susanna” does a back flip off one. The wink she gives to the camera makes it art.
Their cha cha is to ‘Hound Dog’ and it seems weird seeing something quite basic so far in. Susanna also seems to be chanelling Lilia in hair and costume. And gurn. It’s perfectly fine and everything, albeit somewhat leaden - but cha cha chas are the boringest of all the dances, especially at this stage of the game, so it was never going to exactly thrill me.
Over with the judges now. Len says it’s time that the judges will pick on things they’d overlooked until now. O RLY? We shall see. Len says she lost some leg and hip action – it was acceptable, good enough, but not exceptional. (The audience boo him and he gets all shirty with them. MAN OF THE PEPUW). Bruno says her hip action wasn’t as pronounced as it could have been, but otherwise well done. Susanna says she’s found it hard to make friends with the cha cha. Craig says it had personality but it didn’t really pop and was a bit mumsy. Darcey says it’s a shame BLACKPOOL is over, and with it, their overscoring, but there we are. Or words to that effect. Let’s see how this whole THIS AIN’T BLACKPOOL NO MORE schtick plays out with Ben, shall we? (Note: I am writing this as I go so I have no idea what Ben will do tonight). Susanna says she didn’t realise no breakfast presenter had ever got 39 before. They did: Chris Hollins, samba, week 12 series 8. Although that was 39 from 5 judges, not 4. Susanna says she knew she had no chance of getting last week’s score with the cha cha. Scores: 7, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 31 which Susanna and Kevin are pleasantly surprised by.
Next up are Ashley and Ola. Bruce makes a joke about these newfangled three name celebrities like Ashley Taylor Dawson and Anton Du Beke then sighs that he misses Anton like he’s died or something. Bruce is so odd. To teach Ashley to be light on his feet, Ola takes him to an aquarium to swim with sharks and do some underwater dancing. Ashley confirms that he did, indeed, feel weightless.
Their waltz is to ‘I Will Always Love You’ which is arranged in a weird way to try and fit ¾ time but only sometimes seems to get there, surely not conducive to helping the dancers. Ashley’s hands are still a bit awkward when out of hold, which he seems to know, for he shakes his hand at Ola at the end as if acknowledging his nerves. His head is also a bit off. Other than that, it was perfectly sweet and everything, but again, waltz. Eh.
Bruno says they did a good job when the music and timing were so difficult (i.e. ridiculous) and it was a wonderful waltz. Craig says they coped well with the music and Ashley’s expressions were good but his head keeps inclining. Darcey says it was lovely but Craig is right about the head and he needs to tilt more. Bruce keeps asking for clarification as if it’s his dancing that’s being judged. Len says Ashley is like his initials: ATD: Attention to detail. Oh Len, you just thought of that this week and were desperate for an excuse to use it, weren’t you? Because I’d say whilst Ashley is a good dancer in general, it’s the details that are letting him down. Len snits that waltz isn’t easy, it’s a PWOPAH BALLROOM DANCE FOR MEN WIVAHT ANY FAFFIN ABAHT. Or words to that effect. Tess baits him with the possibility of a 10 like all the other boys and girls (except Mark). Still, not tonight: 8, 9, 9, 9 for a total of 35.
Natalie and Artem overcame injury to do a hideously overmarked Charleston last week and even though they both admitted on ITT that it was overmarked, Natalie is still moved to tears by her score. I think this one might be broken, guys. [She's already far more fun to me this way. - Steve] Then they go to a primary school to try and get in on that sweet BABY WARZ action by dancing with the kids.
Their tango to ‘Where Have You Been’ sees Natalie in Dairy Milk purple with a Rebecca Ferguson style high pony. Fans of the afro will have to wait a while longer before it returns. It’s very spinny, to the extent even watching it makes me feel a bit dizzy (not helped by the spiral light pattern on the floor). I am not loving it though, it just seems quite average and underwhelming, especially for them, and a bit clompy in places – it just doesn’t have any storytelling or passion. [Also that music choice is just flat-out ludicrous. - Steve] This evening’s dances are really not doing it for me.
Bruce welcomes the fabulous singers Davearch and his wonderful orchestra. Craig says Natalie’s arm was in the wrong position and she hopped around in one of the pivot steps and the whole thing lacked drama. Bruno screams ‘WHAT?’ Darcey snits, ‘ignore Craig, for me, I loved it’. Gah Darcey is so useful this series, no? She says she needs to watch her top line a bit though. Len says she looks like a Quality Street and it was a quality performance, she needs to watch her head, but that’s him being picky – which is what you said the judges would be at the start, Len. Bruno says she was fabulous and is going to be in the final. Constructive there, Bruno. Scores: 9, 9, 9, 10 (FUCK OFF BRUNO) for a total of 37.
Bruce makes another joke about being old – seeing a fortune teller who said he had a long life line – he says ‘I do hope so’ – possibly a dig at certain tabloid stories from last week?
Mark and Iveta are next. Iveta is not happy because Mark is always getting criticism when he works hard. Mark shows that he’s got hold of some books on dancing. His wife Sarah comes to see their training and talks about how much she loves him. D’aww. Mark says the foxtrot is a lovely happy dance and he wants to dedicate it to Sarah. Excuse me a minute, I might have something in my eye…
Our opening shot to this dance is Mark sleeping in a spangly bed. It’s as if Iveta saw Kristina putting Ben on the sofa that time and went CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. [Even being "asleep" in that bed, I feel Mark was more alert and active than Ben in about 90% of his training footage. - Steve] But then! He is standing up, not lying down, and rips off his pyjamas to reveal a suit, because Mark is always ready to dance. Or something. I hadn’t heard this song before but it sounds exactly like Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Mickey Bubbles – unsurprisingly, it’s another Micky B song, this time, ‘It’s a Beautiful Day’. The dance is very straightforward and sweet, and if it’s a bit lumbering at times, Mark is at least giving is a good go, and it’s quite lovely – if this is their last week then it’s a nice way to go out. Iveta also looks amazing tonight.
Darcey loved his performance although she would have liked more flow in his travelling. Len says he’s been trained but not tamed and says he was like a Dalek, he moved him but had no swing. I wasn’t really aware the point of the Daleks was to move people (other than in the sense of moving them to run down corridors). Bruno says it’s hard to lead in a foxtrot but Mark always has a smile. Craig says there was too much side by side and a lot of the swing and sway was missing. Scores: 6, 8, 7, 7 for a total of 28.
Tess tells us who is yet to come and asks if she can see BENZ GUNZ again, at which Kristina flexes her own guns (very impressive, because Kristina is impressive) and the others cop a feel.
Sophie and Brendan are next. Sophie suffered from being first out at BLACKPOOL and says she wanted Len to love their quickstep because he loves ballroom and she hopes the judges will see how much she loves dancing. This week is the rumba, and knowing Sophie’s love of being touched by a man other than her husband, this could be fun. She takes Brendan to a recording studio and tells him she loves music, so hopes that passion will come through in the rumba.
They’re dancing to an acoustic version of ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ and Sophie’s hair is very weird – like a schoolgirl’s, with plaits circling round the rest of it. The music doesn’t evoke passion or sensuality and coupled with the hair and Sophie grinning, it’s hard to buy into the emotion of the dance, which is a shame as the movements seem rather graceful and elegant. Maybe if I put on a different song and covered over Sophie’s grin and stupid hair I would absolutely love that. [I quite liked the choreography and the concept, but Sophie not even pretending to find Brendan alluring sort of spoiled it as a rumba for me. - Steve]
Len says there wasn’t enough flair or chemistry but it was a pretty dance. He then says Brendan’s choreography gave it the flair and no-one knows if he is trying to compliment Brendan here or put a burn on him, given his previous statement. Bruno says it was pretty but he prefers rumbas to have raunch. Brendan moans that it isn’t about sex. Bruno says not sex, but passion. Brendan says it was about ‘intimacy and a beautiful story’. I love that Bruno suddenly thinks he’s Catherine Cookson or something. Craig says it was in and out for him (fnar). Darcey says they needed more intensity, especially with their eyes, although they made lovely shapes with their bodies. Bruce screams ‘But you got a standing ovation, don’t forget that’, as if such things count any more.
Up in the Tess Circle and Sophie says it felt intimate to her because Brendan was the only person she could see – well, the lighting would kind of make that happen, Soph. She says it’s confusing. Brendan says it’s about creating choreography and launches into a speech about how he doesn’t want to create ‘filthy dirty rumbas’ which gets the best collection of guffaws, eye-rolls, ‘oh-no-he-actually-means-that’ faces and ‘What have you done with the real Brendan’ faces you have ever seen. Susanna and Tess, in particular, are a delight:
Brendan keeps going on about wanting to do a beautiful clean, classic rumba. Sophie says this was the kind of rumba her husband approved of with the right amount of touching. It’s all got a bit Silver Ring Thing, hasn’t it? Scores: 7, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 31. Tess says Brendan is not impressed. Brendan snits that he’s so over the ‘we need more performance thing’. Righteous chastity warrior Brendan <3
The announcement that ‘Big Ben’ and Kristina are next is cheered by whoops from the audience. He really might win this thing. Kristina says that last week he performed his best. By, er, holding Kristina up in the third of the dance she let him do. This week, another great lumbering SPORTSMAN Charleston of our time to join the classics.
The storyline (danced to No Diggity) is that they’re two gym bunnies (and there’s a pommel horse in there to remind us of Louis) and Ben thinks he’ll show her, but Kristina is just BETTER and ends up by standing on him, flexing her gunz, as the champion. I can’t help thinking that this is essentially the narrative for this series (in Kristina’s head at any rate). The dance itself is one of his better attempts in that his rhythm has improved, he has to move around a lot and some of the steps (the little jumpy ones) are quite good. It still relies a lot on him lifting Kristina though, and he has no swivel whatsoever in his legs. It’s not an unqualified triumph, but it’s not an unmitigated disahster, and certainly better than I was expecting. It’s not worth whatever Len will give it though, I suspect.
Bruno says it was like Charles Atlas or Arnold Schwarzenneger doing the Charleston. His timing was good, his feet could be sharper, but it was wonderful for a guy of his size. Craig says it wasn’t the most enjoyable Charleston he’s seen. Ben says he found it hard but enjoyed it. Craig says his heart bleeds for him. Darcey says she loved the storytelling but thought it looked a bit careful because Ben was concentrating so hard. Len calls him a Time Lord [OH GOD - Steve] and liked the swivel action and lifts and said there needed to be more freedom in the movement.
Tess begs to see BENZ GUNZ and he duly obliges, then flexes Kristina’s. Ben says he’s really enjoyed it. Tess says every woman has wondered… what it means to be lifted… that high… by Ben. I think Tess just went to a special place, folks. Scores: 6, 7, 7, 7 and I can’t believe I actually agree with Len for once and even think they may have been a tiny bit (like one mark tiny) undermarked. *CRIES* [I think the marking was bang-on for once. But don't tell Kristina I said that. - Steve]
We’re told that there are two couples next, and not sure how well it bodes for Abbey and Aljaž that I could only remember Patrick and Anya were left. [I did the opposite - I got to this point and couldn't remember who hadn't been on yet apart from Abbey. - Steve] Anyway, Abbey loved being in BLACKPOOL last week and Aljaž was proud of her. Abbey couldn’t believe they got three 10s last week and neither could we, with all that GAPPING. Abbey has been told to do her fierce walk wherever she goes, so she’ll get a surprise. Her ‘surprise’ is a phone call from her nana on a not-quite-as-handy-or-functional-or-attractive tablet as the X Factor Product Placement one. Anyway, this serves to tell us that Baby warz is so last week, we’re into GRANDPARENT WARZ now.
Their paso is to ‘You Got the Love’ which is a bit flowing and not dramatic enough for my liking but then I’m apparently very down on the music choices tonight. It has nice energy and I quite liked it, but it’s not got the attack or drama I’d want and it doesn’t compare to the drama of Kevin and Susanna from last week. It gets a small amount of ovation and Bruce declares that Abbey’s nana loved it.
Craig says some aspects needed more work and it was a bit cutesy but he loved the dance. Darcey says it was hard choreography but she wanted to see more, something more dramatic. Len liked the shapes and choreography but in places it was out of control although he enjoyed it. Abbey says she was slipping everywhere. Bruno says some of the moves were beautiful for a non-dancer and she worked very hard but lost control because of the slips. Abbey doesn’t want to leave. Scores: 8, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 32.
Bruce reminds us that Doctor Who is coming and lies that all of the Doctors are in it (well, I suppose they kind of were) and then makes a load of Doctor Doctor jokes, and then the theme tune plays. He then says "Mustn’t keep the Doctor waiting." "Here’s Patrick – how many times in your life have you said that – and Anya." Well, Bruce, I’d wager not as many as you would have if you didn’t take a holiday every two or three weeks.
Patrick says he has played many romantic roles (aww bless, Patrick, you may have, but the only role we associate with you is Ash from Casualty and romantic lead isn’t the first thing that springs to mind with that character) that will help him prepare for this week’s dance, and does Romeo from the stage at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff to Anya’s Juliet.
Their Viennese Waltz is to ‘A New Day Has Come’ and it starts well but then Patrick stumbles on the floor in the spins and he almost falls over. Maybe someone got a bit enthusiastic with the floor polish tonight. Darcey says it had nice elements but he needs to not make mistakes. Len says parts looked beautiful but parts were awful and it wasn’t his worst, nor his best – like everyone tonight. SUCH A MEDIOCRE EPISODE. Bruno agrees with Len. Craig reminds us about Patrick’s great RHYTHM but his technique wasn’t great and the end move was an ILLEGAL LIFT because Anya’s foot came off the floor as if anyone cares about such things. Bruce reminds us that the judges are more picky tonight (to cover up for the dances being more shit?).
In the Tess Circle Patrick asks for clarification on what Craig said. Ola apparently thinks he was wrong and Anya claims her feet didn’t come off the floor. Scores: 8, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 32.
Natalie and Artem - 37
Ashley and Ola - 35
Abbey and Aljaž - 32
Patrick and Anya - 32
Susanna and Kevin - 31
Sophie and Brendan - 31
Mark and Iveta - 28
Ben and Kristina - 27
Some overmarking at the top there, and maybe a tiny bit of undermarking at the bottom, but overall, a reasonable reflection of a very below-par night. Of note: when Tess reads out the phone lines, she pronounces Ola's name properly. So she can do it sometimes! Anyway someone will be leaving tomorrow – I suspect Mark, but I could be wrong. Join me to find out!
(PS Apologies for the lateness of this recap - I was in That London for some sci-fi anniversary thingamajig, you might have heard about it, and I didn't get back until late Sunday night.)