Monday, 5 October 2015


Week 2 Performance show: Saturday 3 October 2015

Welcome back! Last week, all fifteen celebrities danced for the first time and it was at least spread over two episodes. Jeremy, Kirsty, Iwan and Carol disappointed, whilst Peter came out on top and Anita was seriously undermarked. Tonight! A two-hour bloatfest as everybody dances for the second time but at least tomorrow someone will go home and our job will get one dance easier.

Cue titles!

Tess and Claudia arrive, and as per Steve’s request last week that they switch up their colours, Tess is the one in black, whilst Claudia is in red. [I'm going to have to assume that's a coincidence; we all know if they were listening to me Tess wouldn't even be there in the first place. - Steve] Daly dress watch: a black trouser catsuit thing with a metallic belt. It would actually be okay, were it not for the strange white band holding it up at the top. What Winkleman’s wearing: some weird asymmetrical pillar box red thing, which would again be better if it didn’t have an ugly band of colour at the top. The judges dance on, because apparently that whole thing is still not over despite my hoping it had followed Rock’n’Roll, Fusion and Around the World week (*fingers crossed*) down the memory hole never to be heard of again. I do, however, like the maroon-red colour that Darcey is wearing.

We welcome our stars: Kellie and Kevin, Anthony and Oti, Anita and Gleb, Daniel and Kristina, Katie and Anton, Ainsley and Natalie, Helen and Aljaž, Iwan and Ola, Georgia and Giovanni, Jeremy and Karen, Starch Amelia and Tristan, Peter and Janette, Carol and Pasha, Jay and alley owner (Aliona) and Kirsty and Brendan. Brendan’s shirt is open so wide his nipples are almost falling out, whilst Jay is in a bizarre hat. 

There’s quite a lot of theme tune jigging around this year-well done cast, keep it up!

First up: Jamelia and Tristan. Apparently, her dance requires her to play the role of the diva. She looks wary, presumably expecting a ‘that will not be too hard’ type joke. We all know Bruce would have gone there. The way they’ve done her make-up makes her look a little bit like Sinitta: I think it’s largely the plum lipstick. Let’s just hope there aren’t some palm fronds making an appearance later.

Jamelia recaps last week and says she thought it would all be going well but then it all fell apart. This week Tristan tells her she’s going to play a popstar who is a bit of a diva. To get into role, Jamelia has an actress pretending to be her PA turn up with her to training, then arranging a comedy wind machine, smoke machine etc. Lovers of comedy VTs will be pleased to know that we are only the second week in and they’re already well underway. I can’t wait to see what Carol and Pasha will be getting up to in that case.

Their cha-cha-cha is to 'Don’t Cha' by the Pussycat Dolls. [Nobody on this show spotted the irony in doing a cha-cha-cha to a song called 'Don't Cha', then? - Steve] We open with a wind machine blowing her hair all over the place, including across her face so she can’t see what she’s doing. Great job, staging! They’re both wearing sea-greens and she starts pretty well with decent hip and leg action and fierce attitude. However, by the middle she starts to lose the dancing side of things and it gets a little clumsier, with legs stomping and flailing, rather than being sharp and precise. I’m not entirely impressed with Tristan’s choreography, however, as it relies quite a lot on hip thrusts and posturing, and I think he could really have helped her out more. Jamelia’s legwork towards the end is really sloppy and unprecise, and she doesn’t look like she’s practised it very much. I really think she could do better than this. [*glares at Tristan* - Steve] Tess congratulates them and introduces the band and the singers, naming the singers for a change. I wonder if they’ve had new contracts negotiated.

Len says it’s ‘Hotober’ which is such a woeful pun that I can’t wait to see what he’s got for us with the rest of the night. [Also when written down it looks like you say it "hoe-tober", which is...not good. - Steve] Except for the part where I can. He says the performance value was high, but the technique was low and her legs went straight enough, but overall it was a great effort. Bruno says she’s turned into a wild pussycat and does his usual flailing and excitement. He says she needs to maintain her excitement, but be more precise in her movements. Craig said it was too spiky and her foot placement was dodgy, but it had good bump’n’grind. Darcey says she was hot but ‘the boys are right’ (drink!) that she needs to work on her technique.  They bounce up to the Clauditorium, where everyone congratulates them. Scores: four, six, five, six for a total of 21. Tristan says four is better than a three. You’re hardly Anton, mate. I think pairing him with Mrs Brown’s wife last year might have set his expectations/work ethic a little below-par, because former pop stars really shouldn’t be doing this badly this early on.

Daniel and Kristina next and I won’t dignify Tess’s terrible joke about Irish stallions by giving it air (well, blog) time. You don’t have Bruce anymore, you no longer have to make lame jokes, scriptwriters. Last week Daniel and Kristina got 24 and he says he was pleased, although his face doesn’t show it, as you might expect. This week they have the Charleston and they’re setting it in a racecourse, as you do. Daniel doesn’t seem exactly enthusiastic at the prospect, but I’m sure you could tell Daniel he’d won this, the lottery, a BRIT award and got the Christmas number one and you’d still not be able to tell whether or not he was pleased. He and his wife arrived on a canal boat to see Kristina at the racecourse, on a day where there’s no racing. I’m not sure what the point of that is. They get to meet some horses and Kristina stands in a field a bit and it all feels a little bit pointless. Daniel’s wife Midge Ella (Majella) asks them to show her a bit of Charleston. They look a bit like two uncomfortable penguins trying to shuffle out of frame before Johnny Morris imitates their voices. Bodes well.

They open, both wearing pink and sparkles, as if they were spectators watching a horserace – which is about as far as the theme gets. No jockey suits, no horse costumes, no whips. Somewhere Flavia is weeping for an opportunity lost. Their dance is to ‘Let’s Misbehave’ [Poor Kristina - Steve] and Daniel manages to affect something approaching a smile (for him). For the rest of us it’s about the level of delight we’d show if we found 2p on the street – you know, it’s quite nice and that, but you wonder if it’s worth the effort of bending down to get it. The dance is quite dainty and subdued, which isn’t really the spirit of MAXIMUM GURN and exaggerated movement this dance usually elicits on Strictly, but at least he can do what’s been given to him, choreography wise. It doesn’t quite have the elasticity you would expect from a good Charleston, but it’s certainly a passable effort, especially for a more mature male star, as they don’t tend to be good at this particular dance. Overall, somewhat too gentle, but a decent effort, considering the car crash it could have been. Tess congratulates him and he says he’s too out of breath to speak.

Bruno, who looks incredibly orange tonight, says he didn’t really have the full gallop energy that Charleston needs and it got a bit sleepy partway through - he has to keep the energy and pace throughout. Daniel reminds them of his age. Craig tells him to get more on his toes and incorporate more swivel, as well as making good use of his free arm. He thinks he wasn’t quite over the top enough for the Charleston - however, he did have good rhythm and there probably is a dancer within him. Darcey says he had great energy but his technique sometimes dropped. Len said it was a little bit too controlled for Charleston but he is odds-on to be back next week. I would say he’s odds-on to make the quarter-final at least - on audience votes, anyway.

Claudia says that he told Zoe on It Takes Two that he thought the Charleston was like an out of body experience, but he says he feels fully present in his body tonight. Scores: five, six, six, six for a total of 23. I love how Daniel says the five was ‘good’ in a way that seems genuine. So adorable. He tells Claudia it was much harder to do this dance with fewer days to rehearse, but he’s happy with his score.

Next up: Kirsty and Brendan. Tess says that she shook all over the last week, but shaking might work quite well for her this week, given they have the salsa. Kirsty tells us in her VT how the dance last week didn’t go the way she wanted and how she needs to harness her nerves. Brendan has decided to go with her to work to see what makes her confident. Cue plug for Sky Sports! Apparently rehearsing on set has helped her confidence. She seems so convinced by her own VT storyline as she says this. God, if she lasts much longer, I can’t wait to see how she handles an actual comedy VT.

They start their salsa atop the judges’ desk. His shirt is still wide open, while she’s wearing a royal blue sparkly dress. They dance to something called ‘Can’t Touch It’ that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard before, which means I’m probably really out of touch with the charts. [It's Ricki-Lee from Australian Idol 2 and the song was released in 2007, so...not really. - Steve] The wind machine is still in full flow - I guess when you’ve paid to hire it, you may as well get your money’s worth out of it. It starts quite well, but then there’s a bit where they do a fairly awkward bend, and they lose it after that - it becomes quite stoppy, starty and posturing, a series of poses and moves, rather than a flowing dance. I think the awkward bend seemed to knock her nerves and they really are going to need to work on how she can come back from mistakes. Then there’s a lot of skirt ruffling and Brendan miming cunnilingus and then it gets a little bit skippy. They do some interesting lift and dip manoeuvres and then it’s over. Overall, a good improvement from last week, but still quite clumsy in places.

Tess congratulates her on the bravery of doing those lifts. Craig says it wasn’t quite fluid and connecting with each step, there was quite a lot of stopping and starting, which is true, despite the audience boos. However, he thought she did well. Darcy points out how difficult the lifts are and how she did really well to cope with those and make them look easy. Len says it was fun with terrific lifts but she needs to go lower in her movement. Bruno says she had the right attitude for it but the steps didn’t always fit the music to which Kirsty says ‘blame Brendan!’ Bruno tells her not to stop and think about it, but to stay on the beat. He says they can do it. And Brendan says, sarcastically, next time they do the salsa it will happen (you know that could be tomorrow night, Brendan?).

In the Clauditorium, Claudia congratulates them and Kirsty says she was really relieved and that they’d worked really hard this week without much time. Brendan says he’s really proud of her. Scores: 5, 5, 5, 5, for a total of 20. Brendan doesn’t mind the five from Craig but gets annoyed when the other judges score it the same way.

The next couple of the evening is Jay and Aliona. Week two and he already has the haunted look of a man who is not prepared for what he has in store, whilst Aliona has the look of a raptor ready to eat its prey. I don’t think he’s ready for this jelly custard.

We are reminded of how Darcy said the dance was hard for men last week and given that (presumably) Jay and Peter are probably the two most likely, I suspect we’ll see a lot more of Darcy stanning for them over the weeks to come. Step one in Aliona’s world domination plan: force Jay to get his hair cut. I quite liked his hair as it was, it at least made him a little bit distinctive, but as they’re sound tracking this VT to 'Dressed for Success', I’m not going to complain too much. [You're so easily bought. - Steve] It’s a very strange sight - he almost looks like he has a Michael Ball thing going on. Not keen. [I think the haircut is a massive improvement, but if I worked in The Strictly Department (TM that poster from Digital Spy) I'd be really cross that this all happened after the publicity stills were taken and the title sequence was filmed, because now they all look out of date. - Steve]

Their waltz is to ‘See the Day’. It has a moody opening with lots of swaying and pouting, before moving into traditional hold. The bits in hold are okay, but Jay looks slightly frowny, as if he is concentrating a little bit too hard on the steps. When they move out of hold for sections, he looks quite lost and the dance stutters a bit and I think that if this were coming from many of the other dancers, they’d be criticised for it, but as he is one of the most likely to, I wonder whether or not the judges will be so harsh on him. I have to say, I was expecting a lot more from him given last week’s form, but this was quite stilted in places and he looked very nervous throughout. I think they managed to cover up some of the problems simply by virtue of the song choice and lighting, both of which add that slightly moody elegance to proceedings, but overall, I’m pretty underwhelmed.

The audience are whooping and standing on their feet, so clearly they saw something in it that I didn’t. Tess lies that Jay seems calmer this week.  Darcey says she is blown away by his ability to understand the style and that it had a real romantic quality to it. She thinks he’s going to be one special dancer, but she would say that, wouldn’t she? Len lies that it takes a lot to get him excited. Come off it Len, we see new listing over any sportsman that walks onto the stage. However, Jay got him excited. Bruno calls it fluid and firing. Either they’re desperate to get a man to the top, or they all see something that I really didn’t. Craig says his thumb was sticking up but otherwise it was very well danced.

The others are weeping back in the Clauditorium when they arrive. Jay is unable to answer Claudia’s questions, appearing to be on a slightly different planet, perhaps one in which he still had free will. Scores: seven, eight, eight, eight for a total of 31. If you say so.

Iwan and Ola next, and she looks utterly thrilled by the prospect. Iwan says he was disappointed by their first week performance and thought the judges were pretty harsh. Come off it, you spent the first portion running round the room, and the rest looking thoroughly disinterested. In their VT, he’s wearing a sparkly headband whilst moaning about how last week went. I’m really not sure what’s going on with that. He records a random piece to camera at 5 AM telling us how hard he finds the training and how much he wants to be good. It’s like the cinéma vérité version of a VT. However, Ola has a trick up her sleeve, bringing wine gums as a bribe. This would seem more realistic if he wasn’t wearing the same sparkly headband he allegedly wore on day one. I call shenanigans.

The cha-cha-cha is to ‘Sexy and I Know It’ and, obviously, it features him ripping his hot pink shirt open to reveal his tats/tits and the knee slide that Ola Jordan’s useless male partners always end up doing, followed by a very uncomfortable attempt at break dancing and a bad back flip. However, these are masterpieces of choreography compared to what comes next, where he tries to walk around very unconvincingly and can’t even hold onto Ola in any way that demonstrates an ability to dance. He is okay at wiggling his arse, but in anything that approaches a dance step looks entirely out of his depth, unrhythmic, uncoordinated and clumsy. [Also, his tattoos are awful. Sorry, but they are. - Steve] Ola does her patented trying to wiggle and dance around them and so no one will notice, and at the end she looks quite relieved that it is over, and presumably hopeful that this might be it being over for good.

Len says that with too much aggression that it lost any sense of finesse (I’m sure it never had any to start with). Bruno agrees and says the dances have a particular style you need to think about the style rather than attempting to come out and attack them/murder them. Iwan says he doesn’t want to go home so we try to give it everything and Bruno says he gave it too much and pushed the other way. Craig says the 21½ hours of training you put in this week were wasted because it was stumpy and unrhythmic (hey Craig, we’re on the same page with made-up words). Darcey says that as much as he was uncoordinated and lacked rhythm, he was there for Ola when she was doing the turns. Whoop whoop, big praise there.

They head to the Clauditorium, his tats and tits bursting out of his vest and she offers him some sweets again. He says he can’t go out without a fight; clearly he is anticipating lasting a long time then.

The next couple of Georgia and Giovanni. My DVR cut out quite a bit in between these two couples, so I’m not really sure what happened or what their VT is about up until the point where she takes Giovanni to Bury market for… reasons. Presumably to teach the foreigner about quaint British traditions, in this case black pudding. He says it tastes like chocolate sausage but is not chocolate sausage. Insightful! (Also: sounds blurgh) [Basically, everything you missed was "He's Italian! She's Northern! It is LOLZ!" - Steve]

Their waltz is to 'Georgia On My Mind'. See what they did there? [Oh yeah, that's the other bit you missed when your DVR cut out - Georgia referring to the other Georgia as "the writer's home town". Bless. - Steve] In case you’re in any doubt, they have the name Georgia projected all over the floor as well. It flows quite well for a first waltz. She seems to be doing everything that she needs to. It could do with being a little bit more free-flowing in places, with more attention to the top line, and it’s not the most original choreography ever, but a perfectly satisfactory early waltz and to my mind, not quite as stuttery as Jay’s, but I don’t think the judges will score it as highly.

Bruno praises the romance, but also says to keep an eye on her neck. Craig says she needs to live through the transitions a bit more, but otherwise it was good whilst Darcey says there was sophistication there but she doesn’t need to move ahead as far back and should control her top line more from her waist. Len says she needs to work on the detail and there wasn’t a heel lead throughout the dance, nor did it have enough rise and fall. I’m not sure how much of that is Georgia’s fault and how much of that is down to Giovanni. However, Len liked the romance - just thought the technique needed work.

They sing the song to themselves as they bound up to the Clauditorium and Georgia says she enjoyed it. Scores: six, six, six, seven for a total of 25. Is that really worth six marks less than Jay’s?

Claudia then previews all the dances we have to come, as if this show weren’t long enough.

Not yet halfway through, we now look like we’re going to get Anita and Gleb. Tess says their theme is bank robbers, which leads to Claudia emerging in a police hat, carrying hand cups looking utterly demented shouting ‘Oh Gleb, Glebby Glebby Glebby’ which will now be his nickname until we get bored of typing it. However, they’re not actually next, that skit was merely warming us up for what’s to come and further demonstrating how much the show wants him to happen.

Instead, the next couple of the evening are Natalie and Ainsley. Tess says their routine is about the Ready Steady Cook theme of red tomatoes and green peppers. (What would everyone’s £5 bag contain, by the way? Mine would probably contain a bag of salad, a box of crackers and enough cheese from the deli to take me over the threshold to earn me my free Guardian at Waitrose.) [Mine would just be however much chorizo I could get for £5. Mmm, chorizo. - Steve] I’m surprised they didn’t stretch the RSC theme out a bit longer: red tomatoes one week, green peppers the next. Ainsley says he was a little disappointed with last week’s score, but he’s a smiler and he’s looking forward to improving it this week. Ainsley tells Natalie whenever he hears the word salsa, he just thinks of lovely flavours. Natalie asks if food is all he can ever think about. Well you know the way to change that would be to cook a meal for him, Nat, using your MasterChef prowess. She brings him a goody bag to remind him of his Ready Steady Cook days, which includes a metronome, a hula hoop (for his hips), some tomatoes that he is to use to get his arms moving, and a jar of actual salsa. Ainsley responds to this with a perfectly well delivered tongue teaser: it’s going to make Strictly Saturday nights one spectacular spicy sensation. Bravo, that man!

Their salsa is to ‘Don’t Touch My Tomatoes’ and if you thought Natalie had gone for full camp last week, you haven’t seen anything yet. The scenario is that Ainsley is a market vendor on a stall selling only green peppers and red tomatoes, whilst Natalie is a saucy customer coming up, jiggling her tomatoes around euphemistically and giving full ‘yes I know that you know what I’m doing’ face right down the camera. Full-blown comedy Natalie Lowe: we love it. She then goes and dances around with the tomatoes suggestively before flinging them into Bruno’s hands and hoping this is one of those weeks where he’s feeling a bit bisexual. Their salsa then moves into an energetic romp. Ainsley might not have the smoothest movements in the world, but he does have a good sense of rhythm and performance and his body wriggles all over so what he lacks in technique, he makes up for in showmanship (and bum wiggles). They very much embrace the party spirit of the salsa -it looks like they’re both having a whale of a time, there’s loads of wiggling and jiggling and a slightly ungainly lift that ends pretty well. Overall, if we can have comedy contestants, let’s have comedy contestants like this. [PREACH. - Steve] Natalie appears delighted by the result, as do the audience.

Tess says it was a perfect combination of comedy and talent which don’t usually come together on the show. Is everyone on the show reading my mind tonight? Ainsley points out that some steps he didn’t do quite right. Yes, we had noticed. Shit. That is exactly Craig’s first comment. I feel like I’m psychic or something. That, or this show is just very predictable. Craig says he did a brilliant job at bringing the dance to life and the dance really seemed to suit Ainsley’s personality. He said Ainsley made no excuses and though he did some of it wrong, he did it wrong with panache and style. Darcey said there were some charming details in it and then collapses in a fit of giggles. She says he was totally in his zone and she got transfixed by it and she wants him to keep going that way. Len says he was like a tomato: juicy, delicious and cooking on gas. Bruno says he loves the ready steady salsa full of spice. He’s not as good at alliteration as ably agile alliterative Ainsley. [Still better than Arlene, though. - Steve] He says Ainsley did well and that when his footwork wasn’t so great, he made sure enough was going on in the upper body to distract us from it.

Ainsley and Natalie lap up the audience praise on their way to the Clauditorium, and then they shimmy all the way up the stairs. Ainsley says that there were one or two things Natalie will tell him off about next week whilst Natalie says no no, she didn’t want it to end. Awww. We cut to Ainsley’s slightly embarrassed daughter in the audience.  Remember when poor Simon from Blue’s daughter had to endure that last year? Scores: six, seven, seven, six for a total of 26. Claudia tells us that if we keep Ainsley in next week, he’ll be dressed as a penguin (what, stealing Daniel’s schtick from earlier?).

The next couple of the evening are Carol and Pasha and the weather theming isn’t going to stop as we are promised an umbrella in this routine.  Carol says they’re at the bottom of the leaderboard, so they can only go up (she hopes). Pasha says they have to turn around the negative into a positive and Carol says she loves to do that. Cue comedy VT! We see Carol carrying on dancing in uncomfortable shoes, telling Pasha it’s better for him to get a cold now than in the finals and spilling coffee down her T-shirt then saying she has another one with her. Come on, you two, your commitment to comedy VTs should be better than this. If you stay here next week I want to see a marked improvement.

Their American smooth Foxtrot is to ‘Isn’t It A Lovely Day’ and it opens with Carol standing at a bus stop, holding a newspaper over her head, whilst gentleman Pasha offers her his umbrella. He can offer us his etc etc.  There’s a nice romantic feel to the dance, although the umbrella seems to be halting proceedings a little bit-I’m not sure why they didn’t let go of it after a few steps. Pasha is really selling the dance with the fluidity of his movement and his facial expressions, whilst Carol’s expressions also fit the dance and go some way to covering up her lack of finesse in the movement. Her movement is much better than last week, however, and although she isn’t given anything particularly taxing to do in terms of steps, she does seem to mostly manage and acquits herself reasonably across the floor. The camera is also fairly forgiving, not focusing too much on her footwork. At the end, there’s a bit where she sort of stops and I’m not sure whether or not that was choreographed, but it does look a little bit odd.

Tess says that when she smiles everyone is smiling with her and the camera cuts to some very sympathetic looking people in the audience who seem to have pity on their faces rather than joy. Darcy says she’s improved a lot from last week and there was a real flow in it but her top line isn’t great as she closes into Pasha too much (who wouldn’t?). Len says the clouds parted and there was a ray of sunshine. He comments that ballroom dancing is about exaggeration and she’s too subtle in the way she moves but she did make him smile. Bruno says low pressure still affects her footwork, frame and personality, but there weren’t so many mistakes in the dance and she should continue in this vein. Craig said it lacked a bit of movement and she needs to pull up through her chest more and she needs to make the dress look more beautiful when holding it up, rather than like a tea towel. We’ve run out of weather puns this early on and are resorting to homewares?  However, he thinks she did much better than last week.

As they bound up the Clauditorium, Claudia greets them wearing an umbrella -shaped hat. Carol says it much better than last week and she really enjoyed it. Carol says the judges are really lovely. Bless her. Scores: four, six, five, five for a total of 20. If anything, that feels a little bit harsh.

Kellie and Kevin are next, and she seems to have acquired a pair of glasses like his. The dance is going to be seaside themed, so Tess takes the opportunity to embarrass Ainsley’s daughter even further and offers her rock and doughnuts. Unlike Rock and Chips, in which Kellie once starred. Kellie is wearing bunches in her VT just like her onscreen sister/aunt-in-law and says she surprised at how well last week went. Kevin says he’s going to take her to the seaside, and I’m hoping for another trip to Cleethorpes-pretending-to-be-Grimsby, but sadly we’re just standing out on the River Thames. Oh, BBC budget. He does buy her fish and chips and ice cream and the time of day keeps varying between daytime and night-time. The VTs are completely bending the laws of physics this week. I guess the BBC have got to do something to arrest those falling Doctor Who ratings and perhaps it will be revealed that this is all part of an elaborate time travel plot by the end of the series.  Hey, if it means a Michelle Gomez cameo in the middle of a showdance (*please let it be Daniel’s*), I’m all in favour.

Their cha-cha-cha is to 'Don’t Go Breaking My Heart' and Kevin is in his cheesetastic element (he isn’t much younger than me, he was probably brought up on Roadrunner discos, too), springing around the steps like he’s always wanted to dance to this. There’s quite a lot of posturing from both of them before the dance gets going and, to be honest, once it has started as well. The bits that are actually danced are quite interesting, although they do slightly go out of sync at one point. However, I think Kevin is trying to focus too much on performance rather than technique and it doesn’t quite work as well with Kellie as it might with an Ainsley. Some of the leg lifts are a little awkward and I don’t know whether too much time was spent on making VTs and not enough on dancing in rehearsals. Then at the end it gets really ungainly as they try and do some backwards manoeuvres that don’t quite work. You can see on Kellie’s face that it went wrong as well. Upon the balcony, Joanne is looking down and wondering why she wasn’t the chosen sibling.

Len says it was tasty just like fish and chips. Bruno says it was a bit over clipped and therefore some of the hip action was lost but he loved the mid-section. Craig says it was a bit spiky and aggressive and her arms needed more work but she had very good energy and lovely straight legs. Darcey says the cheeky energy is great and her leg action is superb but her arms were a bit too strong for the nature of the dance.

Scores: six, seven, seven, seven for a total of 27. Kellie and Kevin got the same as last week but seem to be quite pleased with it. Claudia reminds us to register for our BBC ID and previews Anton coming up later with a dance on the phone, which she says is probably him trying to cancel his mid-November cruise. I think it’s still a little bit early to be expecting an Anton late placing. We were here not that long ago with Fiona Fullerton after all and I was over that storyline by this stage as well.

Next up are Anthony and Oti and Tess pronounces the ‘th’ in Anthony and I can’t work out if that’s just a Tess-ism or if that’s actually how he does want his name pronouncing. [I mean he can't even pronounce the 'th' in 'mouth', so... - Steve] He says the last thing he was glad just to get through it, but then he had a pretty major wardrobe malfunction, which we see in detail-it was indeed pretty major. Oti says they need to change their choreography to accommodate his wonky shoulder, but they still should be able to bring out the romance in the dance. Antony’s fiancée Casey turns up at rehearsals to try and get him in the mood. Oti says it warms the heart to see how much in love they are. D’aww. Let’s see how long her soppiness lasts.  I give it until Halloween week at best (LOL like they’re making it that far).

They are dancing the waltz to 'If You Don’t Know Me By Now' and look sweet in lemon and grey. They open behind a wall of rain, like that one in Friends.  There’s a lot of Oti posturing and Anthony only being able to hold her with one hand, whilst the bad hand hangs awkwardly in front of him. I don’t know if that’s because it’s hurting, or because they didn’t choreograph it properly, because once they get in hold he uses it to support her. Their height differences do seem to cause a few rucks at points where she has to stretch and he bends in order for them to meet each other during the movements, and I think that’s something they could have worked on more in rehearsals. Another thing they really need to work on is his pacing and rhythm, as he runs and stutters through transitions, rather than stepping sleekly through them. You would have thought that, given his arms can’t do very much, they would have really worked on his legs, but maybe she just set a slightly too complicated routine for a week two waltz. The mood of the dance is quite nice, but the technique doesn’t quite match up, and Anthony looks like he’s playing catch-up the whole time.

Bruno said the moves didn’t travel really to the feet and it was too jagged and he needs a lot of work on his footwork (see, psychic). Tess asks if it was better than last week when Craig gave him a 4, and Craig says no, sadly, but he could see him trying. He says he needs to work on his legs and hands and that it lacked elegance, grace and flow. Darcey says they have the paso doble next week and she can see Anthony looking more comfortable in that role than in the waltz, where he has to lead the lady.

They slowly jog up to the Clauditorium, Anthony holding his bad arm up to his chest. I sympathise brother. Claudia points out his fiancée in the audience and we cut to Casey who has some serious strobing going on with her cheeks. Scores: four, five, five, five for a total of 19. Oti says they worked hard but they’ll get better.

Because the one thing the show needs is yet more filler, we get another preview of what is coming up. For God’s sake. If you’re wondering why this recap is a bit later than it would normally be, look no further. I can’t believe how many people are still left to dance. We cut with Helen saying she’s going to cry. I think I will beat you to it Helen.

After the false start earlier, we do actually now get Gleb Glebby Glebby Glebby and Anita. Tess says if their dance last week is anything to go by, they could end up stealing the show. No, they could end up getting ridiculously under-marked. This week they have the Charleston, one of the 10 dances Gleb learned last week (I’d like to know which of the show’s dances he hasn’t learned). They go to see Alex Jones and Matt Baker on the One Show for advice on the Charleston. Their advice, sadly, is not ‘just watch Louis, Denise, Kimberley, Sophie and Caroline and forget we were ever on this show’.

They are dancing to 'Pencil Full of Lead', because the song choosers have officially run out of Charleston choices. They are allegedly dancing as bank robbers, but there isn’t really much theming to the dance. I guess Charleston is a theme in its own right. There’s something slightly off with the band arrangement of the song - I’m not quite sure what it is, but the pace or the rhythm don’t quite feel right. This is a bit of a Charleston by numbers in terms of choreography - although it does seem to have almost every Charleston move thrown in, which they’re to be commended for, especially in the lifts and jumps. It doesn’t stand out with the best of the show’s Charlestons, because those that stand out tend to have a little quirk to them which this one lacks, but it has a lot of energy and verve. Anita has good Charleston face and energy and it has that combination of looking a little bit slapstick and off-the-cuff whilst also having technique and flow. As a week two effort goes, it’s probably the best dance of the night so far, and will no doubt be undermarked accordingly.

Craig says she did really well with some very difficult moves and she has a lot of energy, which she and Gleb high-ten (she actually jumps to high-ten him too, which is adorable). Darcey loved the feel and how she made it her own and calls it fabulous. Len says it will be a crime she is in here next week, but for him it needed more Charleston content. I can’t think what was missing there, Len, given it had every Charleston move under the sun chucked in and Gleb Glebby Glebby Glebby seems to agree, with his ‘what the fuck’ face. Bruno says it was vivacious and alive but it lost sync. I’m not sure that that was their fault, Bruno, because the music seemed to lose itself.

Claudia says if Anita ‘can do that in week two, what on earth will she do if she stays in’? Anita says ‘get a lot more bruises’. Heh. Scores: seven, eight, six, six for a total of 27. What is with those bullshit sixes? Even Anita and Gleb look perplexed.

Jeremy and Karen are next and Karen looks like an elderly grandmother in spectacles. Has this show aged her as much as it’s ageing me? Jeremy says that last week was bigger than a general election. Aren’t the voting figures pretty comparable? They have the American Smooth, the news of which makes Karen slightly hysterical. For some reason, they go to his daughter’s school and Jeremy tries to skip over a child’s skipping rope to prepare.  They dance to a small assembly of a couple of classes’ worth of kids and Jeremy hopes his daughter looked happy. Aww.

The American Smooth is set in a library, with Karen playing the part of librarian, and Jeremy naughtily reading a book and miming the words to ‘Happy Together’. The theme of this dance makes no sense, but other than Ainsley’s, most of them have been a bit random tonight. It’s hard to tell if Jeremy’s grin throughout is through the love of dance, or the fear. His frame is still somewhat ungainly, although it’s better in hold than out, because at least then he can be used for Karen to dance around. When they dance side-by-side, he looks more lost. She is clearly leading him throughout the dance, and he looks nervous throughout, but it’s probably a marginal improvement on last week. There are some lifts that don’t always go to plan, including one where Karen’s knickers end up on display to the whole room.  Smooth.

Karen says they’ve been working really hard and Tess says he has an adorable kid. Darcey says an American Smooth should have Hollywood grace and glamour and he has the look and the frame but it wasn’t produced in the dancing. She says there was one nice lift in there and he does have a Fred Astaire within him, but it hasn’t come out. Len says he enjoys watching him but the key to an American smooth is the word smooth and the dance was a bit lumpy and bumpy, but at least he did a heel lead. Bruno says that’s what he calls making a dance your own, to the point of making it unrecognisable.  Jeremy looks like he isn’t sure whether he wants to grin or kill Bruno. I think many a person before you has felt like that. Craig says his body seemed travel to an astral plane at times and it was a bit odd and then he pulls a funny face. I think Craig is as over this episode as I am. Seriously, is it ever going to end? (I must try to be grateful for the fact that we’re no longer recapping The X Factor. They’re doing a different six chair challenge per episode for four episodes. Can you imagine?)

In the Clauditorium, Jeremy says the whole thing was incredible and he thinks there was a moment of smooth in there somewhere. Scores: three, five, five, four for a total of 17. Len, you mark that one point lower than Anita’s? Fuck you, Len.

Katie and Anton next, and the amount of whooping in the audience they get is slightly depressing. Not because of Katie, I like her plenty, but it’s sad to think that Anton still has such a fan base, for little reason. Surely without Erin, he is nothing? Katie is amazed by the judges’ comments last week and how well they did. She says she feels like she has a huge responsibility because everyone wants Anton to do well. Katie, he’s the one that supposed to be teaching you, not the other way round. Also, he probably could have done quite well with Leila had he not been… As he was. And we have this whole narrative back with Fiona anyway, so I really can’t be arsed with it anymore, so I’m basically just not going to recap any future references to this storyline.  We see Katie getting interviewed on Radio 3 and dancing through the corridors at work. The R3 studios are painted a bright yellow, which isn’t the colour I would have expected.

They are dancing the tango to a new instrumental arrangement of Lady Gaga/Beyoncé’s ‘Telephone’ that makes it almost unrecognisable, so much so that I had to Google what the song actually was. It starts with Anton on the phone and Katie lounging in a shed launched, before he comes and picks her off, via a really neat little swivel thing that involves her balancing on the edge of the shows in him dwelling her in the air. That, I was impressed by. Good job, Du Beke. Katie shows a good grasp of the posturing and speed of the dance, although her footwork lacks elegance and refinement in places. However, she sells it well through keeping tango face going and executing the more posed parts of the dance really well. There’s one bit where it looks like Anton is dropping her, or she is tripping, and then it turns into a dip. I’m not sure if that went wrong, or if it was meant to look that dangerous (I presume the former), but either way they made it end well. Overall, that was a decent effort and whilst it wasn’t perfect and could definitely have used more refinement, as week two dances go, it was pretty impressive, not least as tango seems to be one of the harder dances to master.

Len calls it a mango of a tango (mmmm, Mango Tango…): sweet and delicious. He said there was a little mistake right there and that they mustn’t go wrong, but if that was indeed a mistake, man, I think they recovered from it pretty well, which is surely what needs to happen. Bruno says it was alluring and started beautifully but she wobbles a little bit in the shop freezes and she needs to engage her whole body on the dance. Craig says the whole thing was grey and had a lot of control the shame about the stumble but all of the mistakes can easily be ironed out. Darcey says she does need to watch some of those points, but overall it looked beautiful.

They giggle on their way up to the Clauditorium and Anton stops to say hello to somebody in the crowd. They’re greeted rapturously by the rest of the stars and Claudia asked how she manages to keep a straight face dancing with Anton and Katie says that’s probably taken the most rehearsal. Scores: seven, seven, seven, seven for a total of 28.

Claudia tells us the lines are almost open and I get my hopes up, thinking only Helen is left to dance, but then Claudia spoils the party and says there are two dancers left to go. Oh yeah, it’s Peter. Great.

Tess says it’s the first quickstep of the series, so asks Len what we should be looking out for. He says: hold, posture, movement and footwork. Isn’t that what we look for in, well, pretty much every dance? Head judge, right there.

Peter says he was really buzzing after Saturday night and felt alive out on the dancefloor. Janette was incredibly happy to get 30 on week one. Careful, Janette, you know all about stars who have early promise from last year. For their comedy VT, were putting Peter through training with a commando. Some of this training involves smearing his face in camo paints, dragging attire around and running around a field. I don’t really know what that was about, other than an excuse to play the Village People’s ‘Macho Man’ in the background.

Their routine is set in a kind of 50s style kitchen to ‘Valerie’. [GET YOUR HANDS OFF ALESHA'S QUICKSTEP MUSIC, ANDRE. - Steve] Thankfully, the props are dispensed with fairly quickly with a neat little opening move involving both of them doing side kicks that looks really nifty. When they get down onto the floor to dance around, the pace drops and isn’t as fast as I think it should be for a quickstep. It does pick up around the halfway point when they start to move around the floor with much more skipping, albeit the running/galloping kind of skip. Then there are some bits where Peter looks like he just remembered what he needs to do next and clicks into the next kick, which suggests either nerves or perhaps a lack of rehearsal. Given that a quickstep is quite difficult to do in the second week, he does an okay job, but it felt a little bit underprepared and sloppy in places, and I wasn’t that convinced about the choreography of the whole thing as it didn’t feel like a quickstep all the way through, only in places. [Yeah, it didn't really have the speed or the floor coverage that I'd expect from a quickstep. - Steve] I think Peter could probably do a little bit better given a bit more time to rehearse and a slightly more sophisticated routine, as the opening hinted at quite a bit of potential, which Janette could really capitalise on if she wanted to (which might mean another good salsa is forthcoming?).

Bruno says he was a hit, it was crisp and clear and he loved the variation as well as the fast changes and kicks and he praises the storytelling. Craig says his knees were a little bit too high - he looked like he was jogging in places and his feet were a little bit limp but he’s being picky because Peter is very good. He thinks the timing and storytelling were great. Darcey thinks they bring the dancefloor alive and they’re light on their feet but his top line showed how much effort he was putting in and he needs to watch that. Len says he galloped in places and although he moved nicely they could have done more and there is more potential in Peter to come.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia says that the judges are being quite pernickety (except for Jay, for some reason). Scores: seven, eight, seven, eight, for a total of 30. Claudia says it’s the same score as last week, top of the leader board. Aliona in the background scowls, clearly aware that her score this week was higher – although I assume Claudia means over both weeks.

The final couple are next and I don’t know about you, but I feel like it’s been an incredibly long marathon and one that I don’t want to run again… At least until this time next year. It’s Helen and Aljaž – and we are reminded that she is pretty crazy and we may well be in for another touching the divine moment at some point this series, for which I can’t wait. Her VT centres around her needing to learn how to use her hips, so she brings her dogs to training. No, me neither.

They are dancing the cha-cha-cha to ‘Uptown Girl’ and we open with Aljaž as a mechanic under a car, whilst Helen takes the Christie Brinkley role and fans herself with her hat. It’s a fairly literal piece of referencing the original text, this one. She sashays over to him and gives him a wink and then a come hither boy motion. Bless her, but she can’t really do sultry sexiness that well. She’s far too cute. Speaking of cute: Aljaž in those dungarees anyone? I know they’re not as tight as some people would like, but… Anyway, the routine itself is a lot of fun: it has the storytelling referencing the music video, whilst maintaining cha-cha moves. They seem to do a pretty good job of dancing in sync with one another and Helen’s technique is not too bad for the most part, especially as the routine is slightly more challenging than we sometimes get at this stage in this particular dance. She does have a tendency to posture and grin a little too much and her arms do need a little bit of work, as she looks less relaxed when having to do elongated movements with them than she does when in hold, but overall, a fun, breezy cha-cha.

Craig says she could afford to loosen up as he thought there was a steel rod through her body, but it was the best cha-cha-cha of the series so far. Darcey says it was sleek and fun with plenty of confidence and she’s very watchable. Helen looks like she’s about to have a panic attack through everything that Darcey says. Darcey tells it to work on getting the dip in her hips more, and Helen looks like Darcey’s just killed a puppy. Len said it was a nice and enjoyable number but her legs betray the amount of ballet she did as a child because they’re too on point and look a little bit wooden at times but it was full of go and he enjoyed watching it. Bruno says if they keep delivering that kind of service, they can be in the running for a long time.

Up in the Clauditorium, Claudia gives Helen something sparkly for her dogs to wear. Scores: seven, seven, seven, eight for a total of 29.

And that’s finally it for the evening. Let’s have a look at that leaderboard, shall we?

Peter and Janette 30 + 30 = 60
Jay and Aliona 27 + 31 = 58
Helen and Aljaz 29+29 = 58
Kellie and Kevin 27+27=54
Anita and Gleb 27+27=54
Katie and Anton 26+28=54
Georgia and Giovanni 25+27 = 52
Daniel and Kristina 24+23 = 47
Ainsley and Natalie 20+26=46
Jamelia and Tristan 21+21=42
Kirsty and Brendan 20+20=40
Anthony and Oti 21+19=40
Carol and Pasha 16+20=36
Jeremy and Karen 19+17=36
Iwan and Ola 17+13 = 30

Ola is delirious with laughter upon seeing it. She can’t wait to get away from this and just collect the paycheque, I expect.

We then get a recap, which I’m really not going to be recapping. Incidentally, I was watching this at a friend’s house, and she doesn’t usually watch Strictly, so she spent the recap trying to guess who was the pro and who was the celebrity. For the most part, she guessed correctly, but was quite surprised that Anita was the celebrity - and she was the only celeb whom she said was really really good, so make of that what you will.

Claudia declares the vote lines open, and Joanne manages to shimmy with Ainsley, whilst Natalie seems to have ended up miles away from him for some reason. Tess says she can’t believe the improvement in the celebs in just one week, despite the fact that many of them scored exactly the same over both nights. Claudia once more implores us to vote and Tess reminds us to join them “tomorrow” for the results where one couple will be going home and we have a performance from Rod Stewart. I’m so excited. Join me then!


Chris said...

The only other place I've heard Kirsty's salsa song before was...this show, when it was being used in a showdance that put Kristina front and centre. I feel like it was maybe a Movie Week? It's by an Australian Idol 7th placer so...I smell Gilkison.

F a t i m a said...

Rather heavy-handed promotion of Gleb Savchenko as a sex object. Not that it will bother him, but it seems the BBC really want an Asian woman to win both Strictly and Bake-Off.

Rad said...

I don't think either Nadiya or Anita are being that heavily favoured actually - certainly no more than their competitors. I think Tamal is the most likely GBBO winner (a male winner is due and the winners have all been overwhelmingly white, plus Ian is... Ian), and I think SCD is also likely to get a male winner, too. Not sure what the Gleb pimping is about but I don't think it's about Anita - maybe they are building him up to be the next Artem/Aljaz/etc object of lust for the audience in order to get magazine spreads or something?

Steven said...

Also if you could avoid making fatuous Daily Mail-baiting comments like "the BBC really want an Asian woman to win both Strictly and Bake-Off" based on literally no evidence at all in future, that'd be great.

DeltaBlues said...

Great review as always, but if you're still using the voice recognition software or whatever it was, you need to proofread more closely. Kirsty was doing a "cells"? "Glenn" [sic] liked Jay's waltz? (In fact the whole paragraph about Jay's dance is hard to read.) I read this for my relaxing downtime, not as training to become a cryptographer.

Admittedly after fifteen dances you had probably lost the will to live...I know I only made it to the end because they put Aljaž on last. Err, I mean Helen. They put Helen on last.

Rad said...

Hopefully fixed... tried to pick up most of it before posting but 10,000+ words is kind of hard to perfectly proof read, especially as the software does tend to use real words, just... not always the words I said.

Steven said...

Sorry, that's partly my fault too - Rad and I usually proof each other's blogs when we add our comments (which is much easier and more effective than trying to proof your own work) but I've been really busy this week so I haven't had a chance to look yet!