Monday, 22 December 2014

Taking the Flack

Week 13: The Final (Part 2) - 20 December 2014

Back in the ballroom, and the spotlights are on Frankie and Kevin, Mark and Karen, Caroline and Pasha and Simon and Kristina, with the glitterball trophy looming in front of them. They're all dressed to reprise their favourite dance of the competition and...oh god. Sorry, I'm just remembering what happened last year, when Sophie was stood there all dressed up for her charleston and then we didn't get to see it. I'm going to need a moment, sorry.

Right, where were we? Tess intones that 15 weeks of work have led up to this moment, and it's been "the closest competition Strictly has ever seen" (and citation needed on that one, because don't say things like that if you don't plan to back it up by releasing the voting statistics). One couple is about to get the boot, while the other three will get to dance again.

Truncated final titles! This time just featuring our four lovely finalists, making it clear that we're not here to fuck around tonight.

Claudia and Tess welcome us back, and they've changed outfits sine the first show, so let's do this all over again. Daly Dresswatch: shoulderless purple gown with a white stripe across her boobs. What Winkleman's Wearing: v-necked black lace gown and a string of pearls. I think they both looked better earlier, so let's just pretend they never got changed. They re-introduce all of the finalists and leave a bit of a gap for a cheer after each one, but it takes the audience a little while to realise, so basically Frankie and Mark hardly get anything and Simon gets the biggest whoop of the lot. I did wonder briefly if that was meant to be some indication of who had the most support among the public, and then I remembered that it really didn't seem very likely. Tess tells us that the vote is frozen, so we mustn't vote at the moment because there's some kicking-out to be done. But once that's out of the way, the lines will reopen and the other three will dance one more time, and that's always nice.

But before all that, somehow, we still have time for filler, sweet sweet filler, featuring Dress Down Friday judges. Amusingly, Darcey is still entirely presentable in this mode, pairing a sparkly black top with a smart pair of jeans. The others, however: Craig's in a check shirt and sludge green trousers, Len's in a plain blue shirt and trousers, and Bruno's wearing a hoodie unzipped to his navel and a pair of red jeans. The judges have a bit of business about not knowing who currently has the trophy, but apparently Darcey's totally on top of it, you guys. (Imagine, after an entire series of "the boys are right", we've finally reached the one thing that only Darcey knows about!) There's lots of shots from hair and make-up, while Frankie and Caroline have a little hug for luck backstage, Simon hopes he won't be the first one kicked out, and Darcey retrieves the trophy from Aljaž. All credit to her for tracking it down, but frankly I'm a little disappointed that she was the only one who considered that maybe last year's winner might have it. Looks like my spec script for a spin-off series where the judges team up and solve mysteries in their spare time is going to need extensive retooling. (Conspicuously absent from all of the backstage action: Hot Greg The Floor Manager. Some Christmas present this turned out to be.)

We return to Tess and Claudia and the Cue Cards Of Doom, and at long last Tess wastes no time in confirming that the couple finishing in fourth place is...Mark and Karen. I don't think this result came as a particular surprise to anyone (although Simon and Kristina can be forgiven for sweating a little bit before Mark's name was called, given his repeated residence in the bottom two during the competition), and you can tell that Caroline's day job has given her loads of experience of lifting the spirits of the recently-eliminated because she high-tens (seriously, both hands) Mark and tells him he's great. Tess asks Mark if he's sad to go, and Mark admits that he is, but "I've said it so many times, I'm boring everyone." Heh. Well, at least he's going out with a modicum of self-awareness, that's definitely a point in his favour. He says it's been the best experience of his life, and the show is the best thing anyone can ever do. Meanwhile in Germany: the scientists and engineers who landed a spacecraft on a comet in November are like "shit, we've been wasting our lives! We should have been doing a caterpillar for Len Goodman!" Karen declares that he's definitely not Marky No-Moves no more, and we close the door on that horrendous journey arc forever. Hooray! Mark says Karen is a "diamond girl" who managed to get him to the final. I'm not sure how much of that was Karen and how much of it was the judges being capricious in the dance-off, Mark, but I guess we should let Karen have her moment. (Point of interest: now that he's danced his final dance, Mark is the first finalist never to receive a 10 at any point in the competition since Julian Clary way back in series two. This observation comes courtesy of the very sharp-witted Mark Salem on Twitter.) After a final VT of Mark being very Mark-like about everything, he is officially dismissed and goes to join the others in the Clauditorium.

The lines re-open, with Claudia reminding us that our votes from earlier will still be carried forward to count in the overall total. After everyone's voting numbers get read out again, it's time for Frankie and Kevin to reprise their paso doble - but not before we watch Frankie's Strictly Story. Frankie explains that it was a hard decision to join the show, because she's used to having the rest of The Saturdays around her, and there was the fact that she had a baby who wasn't even a year old when she signed up - but she'd always fancied having a go at Strictly, so she couldn't bring herself to say no. Besides, Rochelle was probably about to go off and do more panel shows, and Una was busy with her hot husband and judging The Voice of Ireland, and Mollie and Vanessa were doing...whatever it is that they do. Frankie remembers starting out with her waltz and how it was unlike anything she'd ever done before. Glasses Kevin (hooray!) says that he's insanely proud of Frankie, and that people think she's AN EVIL RINGER (PROBABLY NOT AS MUCH OF AN EVIL RINGER AS THAT CAROLINE FLACK BUT DEFINITELY STILL SOME SORT OF RINGER), but it's taken her a lot of time and effort to get herself up to performance standard. Frankie recalls finding her paso hard because she had to get herself in character and really let go. Another one where she had that problem was her tango, but Kevin solved it by telling her to close her eyes just before the dance, and then when she opened them, to just believe that she was "the green witch" (I'm guessing Kevin's not a Wicked fanboy, then). Frankie giggles that the one thing she's learned from this show is that she looks better green. Presumably someone got that idea from that time Letitia Dean did an entire live show with a nasty bout of gastric flu or whatever it was. [People who did not look better green even though there was still a charm about them: Shrek Pasha. - Rad] Kevin says that Frankie is a ballroom dancer now, and Frankie says that she was bound to go far with a brilliant teacher like Kevin. We hear from Frankie's mum and husband, who are both very proud as you might expect, and then we see Frankie and Kevin rehearsing for their last ever dance on the show.

This dance, of course, was from Movie Week, and is therefore danced to 'America' from West Side Story. (Entirely shallow observation: the costume for this performance was a much, much better use of red trousers to showcase Kevin's arse.) I've always liked this routine, but I'm not sure it was quite as good the second time around - Frankie seems a little scattered in places, though that may well be tiredness from rehearsing three routines. There's still some lovely shaping in it, though, and Frankie does "haughty" to great effect here. When it's over, she curls up and wraps herself around Kevin, and then walks over to Tess, who pulls her into a hug and congratulates her on being in the final three. (Sidebar: I know Tess will never be Zoe or Claudia, but I think she was actually...fine in the final? She kept the off-script chattering to a minimum, she kept the whole thing running on schedule, and she seemed genuinely warm with the contestants. Maybe there's hope for her after all.) [I think the problems with Tess come when the scriptwriters try and make her Bruce.  No to the jokes, no to the commenting on the dance, no to the burns on the judges - she's fine otherwise - Rad]

Len says that great dancing requires great music, but rather than turning this into a tirade against the producers for some of the dafter song choices we've enduring this series (I think trying to make poor Sunetra waltz to the clearly-not-even-slightly-in-waltz-time 'Last Request' was the nadir), he salutes Dave Arch and the band instead. I guess that's fine, they've mostly been on form this year and the silly song choices weren't their fault. Len says that dance wasn't just Frankie's favourite, it was everyone's favourite. Bruno says that Frankie "set the floor on fire" and that the dance was a "Puerto Rican firecracker". Craig says it was strong, feisty and had a good amount of danger in it, and calls it "commendable". Frankie's all "well, he didn't liken me to any sort of animal, that'll do for me". Darcey says that Frankie made this even hotter than last time, and her attitude was perfect.

Tess ushers them up to the Clauditorium ("for the last time!" she squeals) where Frankie says that she loves this dance, and it felt like a moment for her the first time she did it. Kevin says that he's really proud of her, and Frankie cries a bit because whatever the result, the competition is over for her now. Claudia reminds us that it got a Donny 10 last time, but we all know those don't count. This time around: Craig 9, Darcey 10, Len 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 39. Claudia asks Frankie how it would feel to win, and Frankie says that it would be "the icing on the cake", but making it to the final was the most important thing.

Then, reprising their charleston, we have Caroline and Pasha. In their VT, Caroline says that this has been one of the best experiences she's ever had, and Pasha says that working with her has been a lot of fun. Caroline says it's made her a bit more optimistic "about everything" (except maybe the waltz?), while Pasha says that he always knew she could be a good dancer - it was his job to get her to realise that. Caroline says that she always worries about things that could go wrong, which Pasha always counters with "well, the moon might fall on your head, maybe you should worry about that." I'd let Pasha's moon fall on my head, etc. Also, I assume this means that Pasha was never able to get the good ending on The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Caroline gets a bit weepy and says that Pasha has "completely looked after her", and that even the tough bits have been enjoyable. Pasha says she was "like that flower without the sun - she was beautiful, but she wasn't ready yet, and now after so many weeks, she has opened up". Poor Rachel. Caroline says that her whole family has got massively involved in the process: Caroline's mum says she's very proud, her sister Jody says she'd be so happy for Caroline to win, and her dad says it's really got his heart beating. Caroline says that she chose the charleston because it was the one dance she'd been looking forward to all series. They've been practising her swivels to get a 10 from Craig this time, and "melt his cold heart" as Pasha puts it.

So Caroline's charleston begins again, and I'm...conflicted. It's probably my favourite dance of the entire series, and Caroline danced it brilliantly the first time (even with the whole fez incident - I notice that Pasha sensibly discards his fez before lifting Caroline over his head this time around), but - and I can't quite believe I'm saying this - I think it really suffers without the extra dancers. What was once a crowded marketplace now looks deserted, the more spectacular lifts have been changed or cut altogether, and bits like Pasha rowing an imaginary boat on the floor now look really daft when he's doing them on his own. [Yeah, I agree TBH, but this is the only dance (other than Erin Island) that has made good use of prop dancers so I don't want it used as an excuse to bring them back - Rad] Equally, I always felt it was a great showcase for Caroline that she was perfectly in sync with all of these professional dancers surrounding her. So while it's not a bad performance by any means, it just lacks the atmosphere and the punch of the first time she did it, and that's a shame. And perhaps that's something they should think about when organising theme weeks next year - don't add anything that's going to be a logistical nightmare if you want to reprise it in the final (I'm guessing that's the same reason Frankie didn't do her tango again - there wasn't enough time to paint her green, or alternatively to remove it, depending on where that dance fell in her running order). Still, I think Caroline's one of the best charleston dancers the show's ever had - she's got that elegant-but-goofy quality that very few people have ever managed to master successfully. I can only think of three off the top of my head: Caroline, Kara, and Sophie. (Yet another sidebar: Pasha's facial expressions in this dance are my favourite of all of his facial expressions throughout the series.)

Bruno likens it to being "in a luxury suite on the Orient Express", because it was beautiful and perfect and the ride of your life, or something. I think I prefer it when his similes are at least tangentially related to what we've all just been watching. Craig confirms that his heart has melted, and there was definitely enough swivel in there for him. Darcey calls Caroline "the perfect naughty flapper" and says that for her it's still the best charleston of the series. Len tells her that there can only be one winner on the show (though they manage to have two runners-up easily enough, hmmm) and Caroline's done her chances no harm with that performance.

Up in the Clauditorium, Claudia clarifies for about the ninetieth time that Caroline decided she wanted to do Strictly after she saw Sophie and Brendan doing it last year. Claudia asks how it would feel to win, and Caroline outright steals Frankie's answer. Tsk. Scores: 10s all round for a total of 40. Claudia tells Caroline that she's the first person in Strictly history to get full marks in three dances in the final. She doesn't add that that's only because they only scored two of the dances the year that Lisa Snowdon competed. (What I wouldn't give to see the judges trying to score Snowdance. It truly defies scoring, though frankly if they'd given it 10s, I would've understood.) Caroline thanks literally everyone in the universe.

Bringing us our last competitive dance of the series, here's Simon and Kristina. Simon is one of the few contestants who I think is legitimately allowed to describe his journey as "a rollercoaster", because his trajectory has been safeBOTTOMTWOsafeBOTTOMTWOsafesafesafesafesafe BOTTTTTTTOMTWOOOOOsafetheend. It's been a bumpy ride, let's at least give him that much. But somehow he made it to the final, and he's had a blast. Kristina says that she's beyond proud of him. Simon says that his goal was to find himself during this series, and it turns out that Himself was hidden somewhere inside a Cockney Charleston and an Argentine Tango in Blackpool. I mean, you can forgive him for not initially thinking to look in either of those places. Simon says that in Blue he had three others to hide behind (although I suppose you don't so much hide behind Lee Ryan as you duck and cover), but this has been a chance for him to take charge. Simon's mum Marlene says how proud of him she is, and Simon's daughter Alanah encourages him to go full-out for the final. Simon also says that he's doing it for Moss Side, because he didn't have the opportunity to learn ballroom growing up there. Kristina tears up a bit and says that she just wanted Simon to succeed, and that he's (wait for it) a friend for life. Simon encourages everyone for whom Strictly comes calling to grab it with both hands. They've chosen their Argentine tango for their final dance, and I think they were absolutely right to do so because not only was it a genuine turning point for Simon (and I think the point where the public finally started to appreciate why the judges had kept him around), but also because it's a dance that probably deserves a slightly higher score than it got. From Craig, at least. Simon says he's going to take this last chance to get out there and really enjoy himself.

So here we go: Simon and Kristina reprise their Argentine tango to 'El Tango de Roxanne' and god, what a dance to go out on. It loses nothing from being moved to a slightly smaller space - if anything, that actually helps with the intimacy. I think Simon really manages to lose himself in it this time as well - in Blackpool there was the slightest hint of self-consciousness about it, but not here. And I'm not sure Kristina has ever been better than this. It's seductive and dangerous and just very, very good. I'm still not sure that Simon merited being pulled along this far by the judges when it seems like he never entirely caught on with the public, and I can't really go in with the people who say he deserved to win on this dance alone (I think you need more than one good dance to be a decent Strictly champion, which is why Chris Hollins will always be lurking near the bottom of my best winners list), but all the same, it's a heck of an ending to the competition. [Loved it.  I was team Caroline but I wouldn't have minded a Simon - or Frankie - win.  I kind of feel sorry for Kristina, too, as she really went for it and gave him some great routines - Rad]

Simon's so overjoyed and full of adrenaline when it's over and he realises he nailed it that I'm slightly worried for Kristina, whom he's still holding upside down. DON'T DROP HER NOW, SIMON. Simon cops to having watched the week eight version of that routine quite a lot, which is quite sweet. Tess asks Craig if this was a fitting end, and Craig says that this is not the end of Simon's journey, it's the beginning, and he thinks Simon will go on "somewhere absolutely brilliant" from here, win or lose. (Looking at Blue's upcoming tour dates, I think that brilliant place is the Portsmouth Guildhall in March.) He thinks that Simon and Kristina have been an extraordinary partnership, and it's been a joy to watch them together. Darcey thanks Simon for performing that routine again, and says that it just "hit a nerve down the back of my back". How poetic! She singles out the end as being particularly perfect, if you can have varied degrees of perfection. Simon says that Kristina is brilliant, and never wants to take any credit. Tess: "It takes two to tango!" Oh Tess, you were doing so well. Don't ruin it now. Len tells Simon that he's been in the dance-off three times, so he's climbed mountains where the others have merely climbed hills. Len thinks that we still don't know who's won, but there's nothing more Simon could have done to state his case than he did in that routine. Bruno says that Simon has become a true leading man, and then shouts YOU NAILED IT, just in case that wasn't clear. Simon points out that his mum is smiling in the front row. D'aww.

The emotional couple make their way up to the Clauditorium, and Simon says that it was even better doing it this time than it was in BLACKPOOL, because this is the final. In the absence of Brendan, he thanks all the unseen backstage crew and then goes on to say that he's fallen in love with ballroom, and he's even learned the names of all the specific moves. Scores: 10s all round for a perfect 40. Kristina's face at Craig's 10 is absolutely wonderful. Claudia congratulates Kristina for steering Simon to that 40.

Doubleplus final leaderboard?

1. Caroline & Pasha - 40+40+40=120
2. Simon & Kristina - 39+39+40=118
3. Frankie & Kevin - 39+38+39=116

Claudia reads out the voting numbers and asks us who we want to win. Gregg Wallace shouts "me!" in the background. It's kind of cute the first time, but he will be doing that repeatedly for the rest of the evening to rapidly diminishing returns. [Poor Aliona - Rad]

After a recap of all of the evening's performances, Claudia introduces a VT of "what you have loved most about Strictly 2014". If it features any mention of Mark and his journey, I'm informing Trading Standards. First of all we have BIGGINS and Scott's mate The Hoff in their panto costumes, saying little of import. Someone who apparently is a Blue Peter presenter (the days where I could recognise these people without their badges are long gone - the last one I could pick out of a line-up was Helen Skelton and apparently she left over a year ago) says it's been the best series ever. Fatboy from EastEnders enjoyed the glitz and the glamour, while Eamonn Holmes puts forward the controversial counterargument that he in fact enjoyed the sparkle. So there. Maria Friedman liked the live music. Ruth Langsford asks "what's not to like?" and this statement is immediately followed by a shot of Pasha, so I feel like the editors are speaking my language. There is an excellent clip of the Good Morning Britain presenters where Ben Shephard says that he thinks the standard is so much higher than last year, while sitting next to Susanna Reid. That is an impressive commitment to trolling, because I'm pretty sure Susanna could take him in a fight. Eamonn Holmes liked Scott Mills, and Miranda Hart sympathetically points out that he didn't even have the most basic grasp of rhythm. Some people on the street mention the crab costume as a high point, but there's no accounting for taste. Some people express enthusiasm for Alison Hammond and say that she was gone too soon (TRUFAX), then there's appreciation for BLACKPOOL. The editors show their skill for soundtracking once again when a montage of Judy walking her way through all her dances is accompanied by The Proclaimers' 'I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)'. The same Blue Peter presenter who said this was the best series ever returns to say that Len is the best judge, and can we please check this woman for signs of head trauma before it's too late? Then we highlight this year's cultural legacy by having a load of people talk about Jake and misuse "twerking" yet again. Gabby Logan tells Clare Balding that she was a big fan of Pixie, and now I kind of want Gabby and Pixie to form a club where they meet every Wednesday for cocktails and talk about what a fucking fix the dance-off is. Some people talk about Simon's impressive progress, and one lady adds that he has a nice bottom. (Nobody talks about how nice Kevin's bum is, which goes to show once again that they're talking to all the wrong people.) Matt Baker and Miranda go to bat for Mark Wright, so they're both on my list now. People discuss the "Mark Wright cries all the time" meme, even though he hasn't done it in ages, mostly because he's never actually stopped talking long enough to make it possible. Clare Balding says that she wants to be Frankie, and all the women express envy for Caroline's legs. Donna Yates and Pam Coker from EastEnders (why didn't we get to hear more from these two?) talk about Caroline getting the first 40 of the series, and The Hoff says that he would have given her a 10 every week for being hot. Well, that's his guest judge slot for 2015 secured then. People express sadness at the prospect of it being over, and then there's a keeeeeeep dancing to sign off.

The filler continues afterwards with a performance from what's left of Take That, singing 'Greatest Day' (and I continue to grade all Take That songs on a sliding scale of not-being-'The Flood', but this is still one of the worse ones) quite some time ago, as evidenced by the presence of Ola dancing with the rest of the pros rather than being in traction somewhere. Their terrible outfits, both here and on The X Factor final last week, suggest to me that Jason was the one chiefly responsible for saying "we're not going out there dressed like that, we'll look like total bellends". As Joni Mitchell said, "get the fuck out of here before I call the police, I told them not to give my room number to strangers." Sorry, that should be "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone". Then the song switches into 'Never Forget', and the pros struggle to actually do any sort of dance to it and just end up clapping along, because it's the path of least resistance.

Once that's over, it's time to hear from this year's non-finalists about their Strictly experience. In shortform: Gregg liked doing the red carpet, Steve just wasn't prepared for being inside a giant glitterball, Jennifer remembers it feeling weird when she was waiting to see which partner she would get, Alison felt like she'd already won when she was partnered with Aljaž, Judy thinks that Anton picking her up right away when they were partnered was a sign of things to come, Sunetra says that the training is basically a crash course, Tim says that you have to give it your all, Scott recalls the nerves of the first live show, Thom remembers the amazing energy of the live shows, Gregg says that the most emotional part is completing a dance, Alison and Pixie both recall that feeling quickly deflating when you realise you're going to get judged now, Jake never expected to get a 10, Pixie loved the theme weeks, Jake particularly liked Hallowe'en, Steve loved BLACKPOOL, as did Judy, Alison says that they all genuinely liked each other, Pixie says that the most emotional part is when it's all over, Thom is going to have to pinch himself to remember he was ever even a part of this (to be honest, I think most people will also need some sort of aide-memoire for that), Judy says it was one of the biggest highlights of her life, Sunetra might do a few ballroom dances around her living room from time to time (NOT LATIN THOUGH), Alison thinks that if you can tackle Strictly, you can achieve anything.

And with that, the vote has closed! While we're totting up the final scores, the Class of 2014 return for their victory lap, performed to 'Love Will Keep Us Together' by Captain and Tennille. Gregg, Scott and Tim are restricted to a largely chair-based part of the routine while Thom and Steve fight over Pixie (interestingly, it looks like after she leaves they consider dancing with each other instead, but the camera pans away before we can see where that goes, DAMN YOU BBC). Scott puts his crab claws on FOR THE LULZ, Natalie waves a fan, Alison and Aljaž dance around a table, Jennifer climbs out of her boat, all the female pros fawn over Thom until Anton gets jealous, Judy descends from the ceiling and LEAPS into Anton's arms, the music changes to 'Right Back Where We Started From' as Sunetra and Brendan do a few bars of quickstep, Steve swings in on a vine and dances with Sunetra [Have celebs ever danced with each other before? I don't recall seeing it until this - Rad], Pixie has a little showcase moment, Jake shakes his arse at the camera (still not twerking, if we're keeping score), then it changes into a very uptempo version of 'We Are Family' and all the glitter cannons go off and I lose track of what anyone's doing. Sorry. But it does end with Bruno's hand on Scott's arse, if anyone's been shipping that specific pairing.

Tess and Claudia are up in the Clauditorium to present a teaser for the Christmas special, featuring all-stars Rachel Stevens, Louis Smith, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Chris Hollins. Also Russell Grant and Lisa Riley took part, because they haven't actually left the studio since they were eliminated and it turned out to be impossible to stop them.

Claudia is joined by the 11 eliminated celebrities for a final chat. Gregg says that he's been watching the whole thing to see how his mates were getting on, and he was sad when his "bald mate" Jake got kicked off. Alison has missed the people, the dancing and Mark's beautiful crying, but most of all Aljaž - although Claudia actually has to prompt her to say that. Tim has managed to dance with his wife, as he intended, and says that his favourite dance was the paso doble. Presumably not with his wife, though. Judy tells us that she's been playing tennis with Anton at Wimbledon, where he said they were "beyond brilliant". And she brought lots of shortbread with her tonight. Jake's enjoyed being back for the final, but is slightly gutted not to still be competing. Pixie says it's nice to be able to watch and enjoy the show without the pressure of having to take part. Steve, Sunetra, Thom, Jennifer and Scott are also present but are not invited to speak.

We then have another VT, taking up time that could definitely not have been given over to trivial things like announcing who finished in third place and giving them a quick interview, where the judges talk about this year's finalists: ah-may-zing, the boys are right, GIVEITSUMGERCHA, *falls off chair*.

Finally, the bit we all paid our money for: the Cue Cards Of Doom come out for the results. The votes have been counted and verified, and the Strictly Come Dancing champions for 2014 are...

...Caroline and Pasha! The right result, I think - I think the judges may have lobbed a few too many 10s in her direction tonight, but she was the best dancer of the night, and quite possibly of the entire series, and she's the first winner I've actually voted for since Harry, so hurrah for that. Caroline squeals in disbelief, and Pasha lifts her into the air. [Aww, I loved her.  Pasha needs a total comedy/old/both contestant next year though - Rad]

Claudia asks Frankie if she's a bit disappointed, and Frankie's pretty much fine - she made it to the final, and that was the main thing for her. Kevin tells us that he's proud of her once more for good measure. Tess talks to Simon and Kristina, and Kristina says that Simon is her hero tonight, and Simon thanks the public for keeping him in. Maybe don't thank us too much, Simon. Kristina adds that she's very happy for Pasha and Caroline, but next time that trophy is HERS, dammit! (I may have invented that last bit.)

Caroline still can't believe it, and is burying herself in Claudia. Caroline says that it's the best feeling in the whole world, and the whole thing has been the best experience of her life, "mostly because of Pasha" (heh) but also because the rest of the contestants were so brilliant and supportive. She says that it's been a bonding experience for everyone. Pasha says that Strictly is a big family and he's glad Caroline experienced that. Caroline thanks the voters, Tess, Claudia, the judges, Zoe, Vicky Gill, Dave Arch, Greg the floor manager, Marian Keyes, Kevin's Arse and anybody else who knows her. Tess hands over the trophy, the rest of the cast mob Caroline and Tess and Claudia struggle to make their closing links heard over the sound of Alison screaming. 'Celebration' by Kool And The Gang plays again, and we're done here until Christmas Day.

And time for my own Mark Wright moment before we finish: thanks to everyone who's been reading and commenting this year, and we hope you've enjoyed the blogs as much as we've enjoyed putting them together. I personally never thought I could do this, having never blogged before, little Stevie No-Blogs, my mates used to call me. We'll be back for Christmas, and all being well we'll be back for series 13 in 2015 as well. Just before we sign off, here are my list of requests for 2015:

- Actually give Anya another chance while you're at it
- Get rid of the bloody dance-off
- Stick Zoe on the main show, she's earned it
- By all means have theme weeks, but try not to make them actively ruin the dances
- Suggested cast off the top of my head: Danny Dyer (with Natalie), Mary Berry (with Pasha), Tomasz Schafernaker (with Iveta)
- Failing that, just give Natalie a ringer please



Chaz Z said...

Another great recap as usual, thank you!

Aw I hope they keep Tess, I know she can be a bit awkward and cringey but I do think she's improving. I remember Holly Valance saying in an interview that her true Strictly friends were Tess, Katya and Chelsee, so I do think she is genuinely warm to the contestants.

But yes, Anya needs to be back, for sure!

RainStorm said...

So glad I found this blog - between this and It Takes Two I've been getting a full Strictly fix this year!

Loved the Ben Shepherd/Susanna Reid moment. Possibly my favourite few secs of the whole show! :)

Penny said...

Thank-you for making our Strictly experience complete this year. We look forward to seeing you again next year (after the Xmas special).

Becca Allen said...

Thank you for the blog. So glad Caroline and Pasha won. Personally I think Claudia should go - God she's awful! Agree with the Mary Berry choice, what about Paul Hollywood????? Cheers :) yes SAVE TRENT!