Monday, 30 November 2015

Petering out

Week 10: Top 7 Results - 29 November 2015

Last night! Blackpool hangover week continued its tradition of being a little bit anticlimactic, apart from Helen and Aljaž and Jay and Aliona who pulled off their best results so far this series. Len got stroppy, Tess got horny and Peter and Janette tumbled their way down to the very bottom of the leaderboard - or rather, stayed there from last week.

We open with a laundry themed pro dance to 'W-O-M-A-N', focusing on the female pros plus a bonus dancer whose name I don’t know (but is basically playing the part of Ola) [she's Charlotte Gooch, apparently - Steve]. I’m not really sure what genre this is meant to be, so let’s just say... show dance?  The storyline is that the women are all cute pastel dungarees-wearing, high-kicking sex pots, flirting with the poor innocent male pros (Tristan, Giovanni, Aljaž and Kevin) who are wearing pastel shirts and white T-shirts over their jeans and just wants to be left in peace to read their newspapers, but three of them eventually see the error of their ways, go away and gain blue denim jackets and then become magically sexy enough for the women, whilst Kevin loses his trousers and runs around in his pants. Such storytelling.

Actually, the most interesting part of the story is where both Tess and Claudia emerge from the washing machines, which suggests that they have been voyeuristically snooping on the whole thing like two peeping Toms. Claudia emerges with pants on her head, naturally. Daly dresswatch: black, sequiny and slightly uncomfortable -looking. What Winkleman’s wearing: a similar -shaped black dress to last night, with a weird beige vest-style neck that gives the overall impression of her wearing a vest under a dress, even though I’m pretty sure it’s all one garment. It was obviously a case of putting dry clean only garments in the washing machine or something, so we will give them the benefit of the doubt tonight.

Time for a recap of last night, hosted by Darcey for some reason. Was this one also earmarked for Ola? We must know! Quick, someone call Ofcom and force them to do an investigation! Len says, before the show, ‘it’s going to be a bumpy ride’, so he was obviously anticipating getting his snark on even before anyone danced. Also of note: Kellie and Kevin, Helen and Aljaž and Jay and Aliona all get a positive recap; Peter and Janette a negative one, Anita and Gleb mixed but mainly negative, Katie and Anton mixed but mainly positive, Georgia and Giovanni an even mix of positive and negative. We also see Len calling Georgia and Giovanni ‘Georgia and Giovanna’, which I forgot to mention in my previous recap, so consider it noted now.

Time for our first set of safety announcements. Safe are: Georgia and Giovanni (and she promptly bursts into tears); Helen and Aljaž. The first couple in the dance off? Kellie and Kevin, who really suffered from that quickstep down voting. The question is, will public hate towards Peter Andre mean that nobody has voted for him, or will he still have had a sympathy bounce that means we can see a better dancer down there?

Kellie says she’s feeling alright as at this point in the competition, everyone is really strong and she knows that their position on the leaderboard changed really dramatically after the quickstep-athon, so she was prepared for it.

Len says there was one ‘wobbly-fobbly’(?!) lift in their salsa, but otherwise he thought it was fantastic, so they need to come out and do it in the same way. In the Clauditorium, Georgia cries again and says she is delighted to be in the quarter-finals and Claudia drops the bombshell that next week is another theme week - musicals week. They kept that quiet, didn't they? Helen says she and Aljaž took the pressure off this week and enjoyed themselves a lot more and she finds it incredible that they are in the quarter-final. The Clauditorium looks really empty with just two couples in there, doesn’t it? 

Time for our first of two special guests this evening (my, aren’t we blessed?), Adam Lambert. He, in homage to his reality show beginnings, is standing on a plinth. His hair has also been styled into a very unfortunate side parting and looks like one of those hairstyles in the Sims catalogue that you scroll right past. After a while, we get some dancing of some sort with Karen and Kevin lying on the floor and doing lots of contemporary dance wafting, before standing up and doing something very strange, involving Kevin making weird bent knees motions, Karen being super sultry, and a really impressive move where she kind of rolls around his body through his legs in one motion, then some really cool in sync jumps that are super impressive. I have no idea what was going through their minds when they choreographed that, but I kind of liked it, it also kind of suited the song, which didn’t really seem to know what it was trying to be either. Bless Adam Lambert, who remains one of my favourite reality show contestants on the force of his personality, but his music is a bit shit.

This week in Len's lens, we look Giovanni milking the spotlight in the quickstep-athon and we are told this is what professionals do to get the attention of judges in real dancing competitions, then we see Peter and Janette executing poor footwork and him losing his frame. Claudia asks Darcey why Helen and Aljaž’s dance was almost perfect and Darcey fluffs about saying that no dancer ever thinks their dance is perfect. Valid criticism there, Darcey. We also get a reminder that Jay has improved his acting skills, which I do not believe, because we have not yet had a VT with an acting coach, the tried and tested way of achieving that breakthrough. We then see Craig and Bruno explaining their perspectives on Gleb and Anita with two clips that prove each of their points correct, and then they have a little argument about it anyway.  They then stoke up those showmance rumours by showing Jay and Aliona giving each other a cute fist bump before dancing.

And the rest of those safety announcements: Jay and Aliona; Katie and Anton, which leaves a very worried -looking Anita and public enemy number one, Peter. My fears for Anita and Gleb were unfounded, as they are safe and Peter and Janette are going home in the dance off.

Peter says he feels sorry for Janette because unlike him, she works really hard, and he calls her a little Peanut, which as we learned from It Takes Two the other week, is a thing. Bruno tells them to make sure the American smooth is actually smooth and not tense up to much, but concentrate on forming correct lines with the body.

In the Clauditorium, Anita says she is delighted at how things are changing for her as she is learning to dance; Anton is excited that they have a foxtrot next week and Claudia points out that Jay has never been in the bottom two and he thanks his many fans. I can’t stop staring at his hairline to try and figure out what's going on with it, it’s mesmerising.

Guest performance time from LD though (Il Divo) and absolutely not, sorry, even though Natalie and Gleb are dancing and that’s a combo I would be very interested in in other circumstances. [I watched it, it was an Argentine tango and she was kind of terrifying in the best possible way. - Steve] We then get a trailer VT for musicals week which opens, unfortunately, with Peter and Kellie discussing what next week will be like. The best thing about this trailer, however, is that it pretty much confirms that Around the World week is dead and buried and I, for one, couldn’t be happier.

Pre-dance-off chitchat now, and Kelly says she’s going to go out and enjoy herself because she enjoyed the dance the first time anyway. Kevin says Kellie is somebody who is all about having fun both in training and on the dancefloor, so he wants her to have fun again. Peter does his usual "it’s been amazing here et cetera et cetera" and Janette says that they're going to and have fun and just stops short of saying 'one last time', although that’s clearly the implication in the way she delivers it.

If anything, Kellie and Kevin’s dance is more frenetic and more sloppy this time than the last time, but they also seem to not be giving too many figs, which makes it quite enjoyable. The audience and the rest of the celebrities and pros seem to really enjoy it and Kellie blows them all kisses. Peter and Janette start out okay, and when they get into hold there is an awkward moment where Peter doesn’t know what to do with one of his arms and lets it hang like he’s Anthony Ogogo or something. He does, however make a point of looking a bit dancey as he goes and puts the cupcake down, glaring right at Craig as he does it. That’s the one time I kind of enjoyed Peter Andre this series, everybody. [Haha, me too. If there'd been a bit more of that and a bit less of the relentless awful puns and earnestness, this could all have ended very differently. - Steve] Other than that, it is still beset by some of the same problems as it had on first run, although there is perhaps a marginal improvement, or at least it hasn’t got worse with time round, unlike their jive. Peter seems really happy with how they performed and they high-five and hurled. The audience are also pretty receptive and it appears that the some sort of standing ovation but who knows whether or not it was genuine? I hope Ofcom have been checking.

Tess reads her instructions to the judges at a rattling pace, presumably as they have to fit in their comments and thus there isn’t enough running time. Craig said both couples improved, but he is going to save Kellie and Kevin; Darcey says it’s incredibly difficult but on a more assured and confident performance, she will save Kellie and Kevin; Bruno says they both gave powerful and entertaining performances, but based on the dancing that he saw, the one that was more technically accurate and had more content was Kellie and Kevin’s. Len agreed with the others decision, as has happened most weeks this series. Except last week of course. Anyway, #justice4jamelia has been served. Peter's thank you speech is much shorter than I imagined and the gist of it is that he loves everybody. He doesn’t drop in ....'and especially his kids', which is a missed opportunity. Maybe he no longer really loves them.  Janette says she's absolutely loved working with him and Peter thanks everybody and gives the audience a little bow. They dance out to Don’t You (Forget About Me) and Jay is left as the last man standing.

Next week join Steve to see which of Kellie, Katie or Anita will go (or someone else, but let’s face it probably not) in musicals week!

Heaven and Helen

Week 10: Top 7 Perform (Blackpool hangover week) - 28 November 2015.

Last week! Blackpool! Jamelia entered her fifth dance off, danced way better than Peter and was dumped, thus making not only the dance off seem even more redundant than usual, but provoking mild media outrage at the same time. Who would have thought that the British public was so keen to see somebody who’d been in the dance off five times go through the same process again? Perhaps Bruno was right when he said that people put her in the dance off so often because they like seeing her dance? Anyway, she left and Peter lives to fight another day whilst she gets to mouth off in the press, so in some ways, everyone’s a winner.

We open with a pre-credits VT going on about how ‘all that matters this week is training’ and the ‘only story in town is a pro, a celebrity and a training room’. Let’s see how far into the show we can get before the VTs start to break away from this promise, shall we? They also tease us with the stars performing two dances, and for a moment, I didn’t understand, because I was sure it wasn’t two dance week yet. However, the second dance is just the quickstep-athon.

Cue credits! I see Ola is still here and has not been erased from history. Yet. [By my reckoning she's got about another 24 hours. - Steve]

Tess and Claudia enter, accompanied by Aljaž and Kevin. Daly dresswatch: white, strapless, not a bad colour, but the texture is reminiscent of quilted toilet roll. What Winkleman’s wearing: a black dress with black and white stripes at the bottom. They remind us that this is Blackpool hangover week, so everyone’s going to feel a bit hung over, someone will vomit down their dress, the judges will be randomly grouchy and everyone’s lives will feel that little bit more meaningless now that Blackpool is over. So, everyone’s favourite week of the year, yes?

The judges Strictly on. Len is now suitably recovered enough to join in this nonsense.

Our contestants enter: Kellie and Kevin; Anita and Gleb; Katie and Anton; Helen and Aljaz; Georgia and Giovanni; Peter and Janette; Jay and Aliona. For those keeping track of the jigging: Jay, Peter and Anita have pretty much given up, but the others are still putting in a decent show. Tess notes that everyone left has received either a nine or ten, so could all potentially be winners. Maybe. At least these final contestants do feel a little bit more closely matched than the final seven in some series.

The first couple of the evening are Kellie and Kevin and their VT shows Kellie wearing a Fifties ra-ra skirt to practice a salsa which is a bit random, and Kevin doing lots of flipping her over her arm and basically causing her whiplash, causing her to record loads of Blair Witch style moans to camera. However, in one of these, she appears to be lying in bed, but is wearing bright red lipstick, so I call shenanigans. Either that, or she is too tired to take her make up off, which wouldn’t be out of the realms of possibility given her schedule. [I wouldn't want to be washing her pillowcases. - Steve] Kevin very excitedly says that if they get a millimetre wrong, she could have a broken nose. I know this is perhaps not your most exciting partnership to date yet Kevin, but try and be a little bit less hostile to your celeb. You could have had a duffer, you know.

They are dancing their salsa to ‘I Want You Back’ (Jackson Five version). It opens with a horrible graphic involving text messaging and emoji/emojii/emojis (anyone know the correct plural form?) where Kevin says he’s ‘Sorry Kellie Babes’. Should you be sending texts like that to her when your wife is a dancer on this show and her husband is Danny Dyer? (At least according to what this show has me believe.) The routine is really fun and energetic, but Kevin has packed it so full of lifts, twists and random drags along the floor, that the overall result is a bit of a mess. How much of it is pure salsa, I’m not entirely sure, but there were at least some of the moves in there, so it’s better than their last Latin at any rate. I enjoyed watching that, but it was sloppy as all hell.

Len says he’s going to put his response in text talk and says ‘G R 8’ and then Kellie and Kevin take several moments to calculate that in their heads and realise he means great. As they and I are of a similar generation, I sympathise. I freaking hate text speak and it takes much longer to decipher than normal words. He also tells Kellie that she has a bionic bum, and I’m not sure a man of his age should be ogling a child actress in this post Yewtree world. (As we have already established, she is still that girl from T-Bag/The Upper Hand to us). Bruno says the first of the ‘magnificent seven’ (sigh. Every year.) have started beautifully this evening and he thought they were like two courting fireflies all over the place.  He notes it was really fast and difficult, but there were some dismounts that looked clumsy. Craig says he liked the Joan Collins-style stroppy opening, whereby Kellie threw a glass of glitter all over Kevin and he did really like the look, although there were a few problems in the lifts. Darcey says that she thinks the problem with the lifts was that Kellie was trying to do too much work, rather than letting Kevin lift her, which actually seems like a vaguely sensible comment from Darcey, somewhat worryingly. Tess tells Kellie to take her bionic bum upstairs. Honestly Tess, you’ve gone full on Prisoner Cell Block H this series. Well, I suppose with the lack of male guns to lust over, you have to have some target for your affections.

In the Clauditorium, Kellie says this has been the most exhausting week so, and she was really struggling to find a lift that worked for them. Scores: eight, eight, nine, nine for a total of 34. Kellie says she is happy and Claudia points out that it’s three marks lower than what they got last week. God, Blackpool hangover week, what a downer.

Claudia then reminds us that the quickstep-athon is coming up and has a group rendition of the terms and conditions. The best parts of this are: a) Gleb wandering in late and then bobbing about trying to get his face noticed and cheerfully joining in, which I kind of love, because you know that somebody like Artem would never have done this b) Peter Andre arriving late to the party and barely getting in shot c) Aliona clearly keeping her way out of this nonsense d) Oti having complete hysterics over the whole thing and laughing into Jay’s chest e) the bit at the end where everyone says ‘thanks. Tess’ and it sounds like they are actually thanking Tess for writing the terms and conditions.

Second on are Katie and Anton. She has some very elaborate work going on with her hair extensions this week and proper Argentine Tango make up: all deep burgundy lips and smoky eyes, despite wearing a turquoise a green dress with a love heart on, which diminishes the mood, looking like a doll’s party dress up outfit rather than something sultry and moody. Tess says the AT is all about looking at someone's legs, but people always look at Katie's. What was I just saying about Tess tonight? Their VT focuses on Anton being delirious about their scores last week and the kicks going a bit wrong in rehearsals, causing Katie to need an ice pack on her foot. We also get footage of her practising at home, where it looks like she’s had an Ikea delivery that she hasn’t built and has left hanging about in a corner. Me too, Katie. Let’s see is either of us can get our furniture built before the series is over.

Their Argentine Tango is to ‘Libertango’. Anton is in deep green and Katie in the turquoise-green, which looked really glaring as they were prepping, but with the red lights and the Argentine Tango music, the colours don’t look as jarring as I expected, especially as the horrible heart shape on her chest is obscured when she’s in hold. You can tell Anton didn’t choreograph this dance, because as Anton Latin goes, it’s actually something that plausibly resembles the genre it’s supposed to. The dance is generally quite good-the lifts, in particular, work better than I expected these two could manage in this dance. Some of the legwork is a little bit sloppy from both of them and at a couple of points they get stuck on each other, but they recover very quickly and the final lift and turn works really nicely. Overall, I think they acquitted themselves well with that one. It isn’t up there perhaps with last week’s high point, but certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

Bruno calls it ‘drop dead gorgeous’ but he said her kicks did need a bit more action and retraction. Craig says when she’s coming out of the ganchos, she needs to balance more off Anton’s thighs. I’m sorry, going to have to go to the kitchen for a bit, I feel an urgent need to get out the brain bleach and liberally dose myself with it.…

Okay, back now. Have I missed anything important? Craig says she was reacting a little bit late to Anton’s leads and wobbled somewhat in the spins, but apart from the mistakes it was wonderful. Darcey opens with the fact that Katie is beautiful. She is, Darcey, but it’s a bit annoying that that has to be your opening gambit on a dance show. She says there were moments where Darcey’s legs were shaking, but she can see the intensity and the amount of work that had gone in stop Len says it was a fantastic dance that had a lot of work on Internet, but it didn’t always give a sense of an act, or transporting him to a place. At this, the audience all awww, and he gets really snarky and says he should have brought a hard hat. So this one is clearly suffering the effects of post-Blackpool come down, at least. You can tell he’s going to be fun tonight.

In the Clauditorium, we learn that Katie joined the show in order to do this dance. What a weirdo. Everyone else wants to do the Charleston. Or, the less ambitious ones, a lovely waltz. She says it is everything that she wanted to be and that she had a great week learning it. Claudia asks Anton if he ever thought he would stay in long enough to do an Argentine Tango. Hohoho, you’ve made it about as far as Ann Widdecombe, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Scores: seven, eight, eight, nine for a total of 34. Anton says he doesn’t understand why he keeps getting 30s.

The next couple are Helen and Aljaž. Their VT mostly features Helen trying to take the woobie crown off Jay (can women be woobies? Let’s say, in the spirit of equal opportunities, that they can) all being upset about last week’s mean comments from mean judges and struggling in rehearsals, and about letting Aljaž down.

Their Viennese waltz opens in sepia tones as ‘At Last’ kicks in – and the singers, can I just note, have generally been much better this series – perhaps the whole sucking thing was them sabotaging the show until they got name-checked as they now do. The story is that Helen is a wistful lady sat at her gramophone, when a beautiful man enters the room and takes her for a beautiful dance. Fortunately, that’s about as much theming as this thing needs, and for the rest of the time, it sells itself by being a very nice Viennese waltz. Helen has lots of lace in her skirt that works really well with the spins and it’s somewhat less frenetic than some of the vomit inducing Viennese waltzes we’ve had this year so far, but it is still very accomplished. They cover lots of the floor, the spins work really well, and there are some nice contemporary touches that even I, who ignores the narratives of dances quite a lot, would recognise as good storytelling in which they touch each other’s faces lovingly. The whole thing is endearingly sweet and Helen clearly knows that they’ve done well as she ends with an enormous, satisfied grin on her face.

Tess said it looks pretty perfect from where she was standing and Helen is all ‘LOL Tess you know about as much of these things as Bruce did, hold your horses’. Craig says the storytelling was excellent and the dance worked really well both in and out of hold and it sounds like she’s going to give his first 10. Darcey says it was like being in Helen’s dream - which, for Darcey, is probably a bit like Being John Malkovich given Helen’s scary devotion. When Darcey calls the dance perfection, you can see in Helen’s face that she is about to lose it, and I know Steve, for one, was dying for this to happen. Len asks her to tickle his bum and call him Donald. I don’t really care if the Donald he is referring to is Trump, Duck, or Where’s Me Troosers, that is way too much about Len’s particular fetishes then I have ever wished to know thank you. Bruno says everything came together perfectly and Helen is crying at this point. He says the lightness of the footwork made it look weightless, and Helen looks like she’s about to explode. Bruno calls it her breakthrough dance. Yes, because she’s really been struggling to get those high scores so far, hasn’t she?

Aljaž cheers and fist pumps as they bound up to the Clauditorium and Helen says she is about to faint, so Aljaž puts his hands all the way round her waist. I’d tell Aljaž I’d like to faint if… etc. Helen then gets full on emotional about wanting to do well for him and everybody and has little cry again and I can’t wait until semi-finals week, surely by then she will be touching the divine? (If she’s still here, of course)

Scores: 9, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 39. I did think that might be the first 40 of the series going on Craig’s comments, but I guess we will see what random dance receives that accolade next week. I mean, it might not happen next week, but…

Claudia says that if you don’t want to see Helen in the dance off, which will be after seeing the gramophone from her dance on the Antiques Roadshow, then vote. Claudia, love, the Antiques Roadshow is on after Strictly tomorrow night. Get a Radio Times.

We then have a VT of what’s coming up, including Peter Andre trying to make his ‘turn an Australian rough into an American smooth’ joke, which was bad enough when he attempted it on It Takes Two. Tess says she’s really looking forward to the quickstep-athon and Claudia says she has a way to make it more exciting. Tess asks what that will be, and Claudia produces a big bag of marbles. I actually giggled and would also kind of enjoy seeing that, especially if it was only Andre that they took out. Tess keeps going, as Claudia starts to throw marbles at the dance floor. Unfortunately, Jay and Aliona next, and you just know his fan base will be looking for any excuse as to why he is not on top, and the marbles dunnit would be a natural choice for blame.

Their VT sees both of them wearing fairly hideously patterned shirts to train. Has he been loaning her his to make them more in sync with one another? For those of you interested in the progression of Jay’s hair, it is still growing all over the place. Oh, and the VT message? Jay learns from Aliona and he enjoys it. There is nothing to see here people. Maybe we should watch what we wish for with only desiring training VTs.

They are dancing the tango to ‘When Doves Cry’. She is wearing blood red, he burgundy and black, with blue lighting effects and torches flaming around the stage. It looks great and Aliona, in particular, is really selling it. She can do the vamp thing really well, as we know. Jay’s tango face looks a little bit like somebody has mildly irritated him, but he does a pretty respectable job of the moves. He does look more comfortable when they are moving around the floor than when he is having to support Aliona in posing, though. His kicks are good, as we would have expected from his jive and it ends with him catching Aliona’s head on one of his arms. Overall, a decent attempt with music that actually suited the tango for a change.

Tess says that the intensity between these two is like there was no one else in the room and then she does a little ‘roar’ noise. Oh Tess, do you really want to fan the flames of showmance with these two? I know you love that kind of thing, but given that she is married and that the papers have already been speculating on this one, I am not sure you are helping matters exactly. However, no sooner has Tess said this than Darcey goes all swooning fangirl over the pairing, declaring that they are basically one and hearing the music together. All right, Darcey, take it to An Archive Of Our Own. Len says they missed a couple of heel leads and he gets booed again, but this time just says I look at the feet, rather than having a full on snit fit. However, it is yet another mango of a Tango, so all is well for Aliona and J. Bruno calls him the ‘macho’ on a mission. Macho. Jay. Mmmkay then. Craig adores that Jay hears the music and thoughts the dance was clean and staccato, he wasn’t keen on some of the kicks, but overall adored it. As this happens, I am mesmerised by Jay’s hair line. It looks like something is going on to keep his hair in place and I can’t figure out if it’s a hairnet, band, hairpiece or what.

Up in the Clauditorium, Claudia asks Aliona about how she doesn’t use music for the first days, as mentioned on it takes two. Aliona clarifies that this is mainly just the first day and then they get really into music. OMG, call Ofcom, more BBC LIEZ! Scores: nine, ten, nine, ten for a total of 38 and their highest score so far.

Peter and Janette are next up and Tess pronounces Janette’s name with a real emphasis on the ‘rah rah’. I guess if Ola isn’t here, Tess still has to mangle somebody’s name. Peter reminds us in his VT that he sucked last week, but e’s ever so umble guvna and we now have our first VT that deviates from training room footage - of course that would be Peter - but after some random chat in the greasy spoon that they pretend is a bakery, we do actually get to the training room and to be honest, it all looks a bit sloppy, so let’s hope the dancing is better than the training footage.

They are dancing the American smooth to ‘I Get the Sweetest Feeling'. It starts with Peter grabbing a cupcake from the stand to give to Janette and then they prance about cuddling the cupcake for ages and ages and it looks as if it’s going to be there throughout the whole dance, which is somewhat cumbersome, however, not as cumbersome as the moment where Janette gives to Peter and he slopes over to the table to put it back on and it all just looks a right mess. Peter really does have the kind of cheesy performance face that an American smooth desires and I had thought that this dance would totally suit him because of this, but whilst he gets the spirit of the dance, he is fairly ungainly in a lot of the movement. His frame is really undefined and his steps are quite stuttery in places. There is a decent lift and the chemistry between the two of them in this particular dance is quite sweet, but a return to form it isn’t. Well, I say form, but besides his Charleston, I can’t remember a single one of his dances that was scored well. What I do remember are his car crash Pirates of the Caribbean dance and last week’s disaster of a jive.

As they bound over to Tess, Peter and Tess get covered in frosting so people, get writing fic if that so pleases you. Len picks up on there being quite a number of stumbles and problems, but says he loves watching the pair of them dumped and it was a great performance. Bruno said it was so sweet that he got a sugar rush and they really got into the story. He thinks Peter was really good interpreting the theme but the name of the dance is a clue-it requires smooth movement, which was lacking as Peter was fairly stuttery throughout.  Craig says he would prefer stronger lines, especially in moments like putting the cupcake on the table. Darcey gets really annoyed this Craig says he could still have danced over to do that, and she huffs. I'm team Craig on this one. If you're going to use props in your dance, then make them part of the, well, dancing. (To be fair, I suppose they don’t really get much time to rehearse in the correct size space with the props, but Janette or whoever was involved in the theming for this dance should really have considered that.) Darcey says he did well to come back from a dance off (and being the British public’s latest reality scandal hate figure) with real confidence and she thought the one-handed lift was really impressive. She says it looked careful in places and he was holding back, but it was an impressive performance.

Up to the Clauditorium they bound, still holding the cupcake and Tess tells them that Claudia has a sweet tooth, so Janette gives it to her, whilst Claudia hands Peter a tissue. Peter says this was the most nervous he’d been and he knew he needed to work hard. She says Janette pushed him really hard and Janette says it’s a difficult line with the pros to discipline them yet still have fun and that beta works really hard. Scores: seven (at which Darcey massively side eyes Craig), eight (lol Darcey like your eight and Craig’s seven aren’t the same score in effect), eight, eight for a total of 31.

We now come to Anita and Gleb, and fanfiction Tess hasn’t stopped yet, as she goes on and on about how Gleb is a hard task master and kept making Anita practice romantic moves and how Tess would basically like to be in her place. All right, EL James. To be fair on Tess, I don’t really perceive Vernon Kay as being much of a dominant type.

Anita’s VT focuses on she was overwhelmed to get a 10, which feels a little bit like a journey coming to the end story, only I hope not, as I feel like there’s a lot more to come from these two and obviously they’re my favourites. There is then a lot of Gleb getting all Patrick Swayze on Anita and her saying she finds the rumba quite an uncomfortable dance and she’s not sure what to do with her hips and knees. 

They open with Gleb standing in front and Anita standing behind a screen containing a page of fiction. I am informed by people on Twitter that this is an extract from Persuasion, so if that’s wrong, blame them. [It was definitely Persuasion. Such a bizarre choice! - Steve] They are dancing to Read All About It and are both in whites, Anita with a dress that has an enormous arm hanky going all the way down to her ankle on one side and a leotard on the other side. I am not sure whether I was excited or nervous for a Gleb rumba, given the Gleb special, but he refrains from deploying that in this particular dance. Instead, he fairly unsurprisingly opts for quite a lot of contemporary dance wafting and some of that is really lovely, but clearly not one for the purity of dance crowd. Anita is trying really hard with the performance side of this, although sometimes you can see that she doesn’t really believe it. There are one or two clumsy drags and an awkward bit where he shoves her through his legs, but it has a nice vibe and gets one of the loudest responses from the audience of the evening.

Tess says it was so gorgeous and romantic that she didn’t know where to look. My God, what is with her tonight? Bruno says he could see the love unfolding in front of his eyes and it was so soft and rounded and that they were using their bodies in a way that spoke to one another and he says that Anita was really angular at the start of the competition and that’s gone now. He said sometimes her hip action could have been more pronounced, but it was a beautiful dance. Craig says he has a fairly opposite perspective as he thought it was a bit spiky with a bit too much attack. The audience resoundingly boo at this. Craig says he loves the contemporary feel and it could have done with more pressure on the ball of her foot and a straighter leg in places, but she’s turned into a really fine actress. [SHADE. - Steve] Darcey says it’s very difficult but Anita gave a very polished performance and she believes in her is that Gleb is working her well, at which Tess gets incredibly excited. Darcey says if using is missing technically, as the boys said (drink), there were some parts where when she was turning should be more careful about her placement. Random purity of dance Len moments of the week: he didn’t enjoy it and he can only tell the truth (loll). He moans that there was a lift in it when there shouldn’t be and the audience boo, at which he snaps they did a lift what you want me to say. And what was all that through the leg business, throwing her through your legs question where is all the lovely basic rumba and he hates all the contemporary dance wafting. The audience boo him loudly and he points to his dicky bow and says ‘I’m a senior citizen, respect your elders’. This is pretty much the only time I wish Brucie was still here, as being older than Len, he could have shot that comment down in flames. Or, you know, snitted a little bit.

Tess reiterates that it was hot and sends them back up to the Clauditorium, where the camera gives a nice lingering shot of Gleb’s chest peeking out through his fairly see-through shirt. Claudia says that everyone in the Clauditorium thought this was the best rumba and Anita said Gleb knew he was taking a risk with the choreography, but she enjoyed it and she feels that dancing is giving her a voice she never knew she had. Or. Scores: seven, eight, seven (Len gets booed loudly for this), and an ‘I thought this was brilliant’ nine, for a total of 31. That got the same mark as Peter? Seems a bit harsh given that the judges’ comments were much more positive towards Anita than Peter (Len aside). Oh well, looks like all my three votes are going to them this week, rather than my usual practice of giving them two and somebody else one. Claudia says if you like the routine, recreating your kitchen first and then phone to save them. But obviously make sure you do that before the vote closes so that they don’t end up in the dance off, thanks. Claudia asks Gleb if he just did the box splits and he says he tried to, and then he has another go and holds his hands out begging for votes. Gleb <3

The final couple of the evening are Georgia and Giovanni and we are reminded that last weekend they topped the leaderboard via recycling the moon from Over the Rainbow. Their VT talks about them dancing to 'The Final Countdown' and Georgia says it’s a great title, because it’s the countdown to the final. I like the way she says ‘great title’, which implies she doesn’t actually know the song. Oh, children.

Their Paso Doble opens with the floor bearing a giant GG logo, Giovanni sitting behind a GG drum kit, and Georgia sitting on a speaker. The opening few bars, Giovanni stays behind the drum kit, leaving Georgia to do some solo work, shimmying her skirts, acting as the cape and grimacing down the camera in her vaguely menacing way. The way her hair and make-up has been done tonight makes her look exactly like Kristen Stewart. This dance has a lot of roar in it, it’s all overblown and very rock opera. It’s quite fun, but lacking a little bit in precision in places. There’s also a slightly unfortunate moment where it looks like she’s going to give him a blow job, but fortunately that doesn’t last too long. It ends with him looking like he's strangling her and then dropping her to the floor. Not sure what that particular bit was about. Overall, a very enjoyable routine, if a little bit untidy in places. The audience really love this one as well and give it a massive standing ovation.

Craig says he missed some of the full Spanish lines and her shoulders weren’t back enough, but otherwise it was a really dynamic routine and thought it was fantastic. Darcey says had plenty of drama and energy and she does think she takes too much into her shoulders and her arms do get a little bit soft rather than the fixed lines the Paso needs, but it had fabulous energy is a great performance. Len said there was too much stress wafting. She was the cape, Len. He said it was a bit too aggressive in places, but it was a lovely performance overall. Bruno calls her a little pocket rocket and said the dance was like Mad Max, but her shoulders were tense and that meant the Spanish lines didn’t come across very well.

As they go to the Clauditorium, Natalie and Kristina hold a little arch for them to come through, and there isn’t time for them to talk to Claudia. Scores: eight, eight, eight, nine for a total of 33. So, Blackpool hangover week strikes again, with only really Helen and Aljaž and Jay and Aliona coming out triumphant and everybody else falling a little bit flat, despite none of the dances being entirely terrible (Peter’s was the worst, obviously). Half-time leaderboard?

Helen and Aljaž 39
Jay and Aliona 38
Kellie and Kevin 34
Georgia and Giovanni 33
Katie and Anton 32
Anita and Gleb 31
Peter and Janette 31.

There’s quite a gap there between second and third place, for this stage of the competition.

Claudia reminds us that the night is not over yet and there’s the quickstep-athon to come. Len explains this, via footage of Karen and Pasha as Natalie and Tristan dancing. The rules of the quickstep-athon are that the couples must stay on the dancefloor and in hold the whole time, and their starting positions have been determined by picking numbers from a. He says they will be penalised if there is poor technique or floorcraft. He says they have to keep going round the floor anticlockwise and not push and shove each other. The weakest couple will get one mark, in this VT that honour goes to Karen and Pasha, whilst the top couple, in this instance Natalie and Tristan, will get seven.

Tess says there was a lot of information to take in there, save go to the website and watch that VT again, if you really really care about the nitty-gritty of the rules of the rigathon. Claudia asks Len for advice and he says you get a direct comparison as the couples of all dancing together and there won’t be any ties. I am not sure where the advice to the contestants was in that particular comment.

Given that this is meant to be a quickstep (to ‘Sing Sing’), a lot of them are going incredibly slowly around the floor, particularly Peter and Janette and Georgia and Giovanni. It’s difficult to tell exactly who is doing what’s with there being seven couples, but Peter and Janette look pretty dull; Kellie and Kevin starts quite well, but then they get to a point where they sort of stop and Kevin basically just hops up and down for an eternity; Anton and Katie almost have the opposite problem just kind of skipping around the floor without much nuance in their dancing; Helen grins her head off throughout and the camera mainly focuses on this rather than her footwork, which is good tactics from her; Jay and Aliona seem pretty polished; there isn't much focus on Anita and Gleb or Georgia and Giovanni, but they seem to acquit themselves reasonably from what we do see. Sadly, no one crashes into one another, but there are moments where several couples cluster in different places. Unlike other dance-athons, all of the couples danced the whole routine, rather than the judges sending them off at various points. The judges then crowd over the table like the X Factor judges after Boot Camp and Claudia and Tess try to get them to talk to them instead of deliberating, which doesn’t really work all that well, although Bruno acquiesces and says that they will be looking at the frame when there are any mistakes, the timing, whether it was smooth and so on. It looks like he doesn’t get to have much say in the decision. He says they can’t rush the decision, and Claudia says ‘we are live and kind of have to rush’ and then she asks Craig if he can say something and he says the couples did an amazing job and he doesn’t think he could go through what they’re going through. This series really does seem to have seen the mantle of MEEN JUDGE pass from Craig to Len doesn’t it?

Peter and Janette are declared seventh; Kellie and Kevin sixth (which she doesn’t look impressed about); fifth Jay and Aliona; Anita and Gleb coming fourth (which they seem quite happy about); Katie and Anton third; Georgia and Giovanni second, with Helen and Aljaž the winners and Helen looking ecstatic.

Darcey says the dance is about having a lightness of spirit and it needs to be composed and the dances need to not be affected by anyone else, and Helen and Aljaž did that. Craig says this was the first time Peter had to really lead (?!) and it’s hard to do that FOR MEN.

So let’s have a look at what that’s done to the leaderboard:

Helen and Aljaz 39+7 = 46
Jay and Aliona 38+3 = 41
Georgia and Giovanni 33+6 = 39
Katie and Anton 32+5 = 37
Kellie and Kevin 34+2 = 36
Anita and Gleb 31+4 = 35
Peter and Janette 31+1= 32

So that hasn’t done an awful lot to the scores, beside breaking up some ties - Kellie and Kevin look like the most affected.

And that’s it for our performance show. Tomorrow night the results and someone will be going home. Will it be Peter, or will we lose one of the women again (or J, but let’s be honest, probably not)? Also Il Divo are performing because the universe hates me.  Tess tells Claudia to ‘snuggle in’ and keeeeep dancing.  Join me tomorrow to see who leaves!

Friday, 27 November 2015

This week on It Takes Two, we have learnt...

- Jamelia thought she was in with a chance of surviving until they re-recorded Peter’s “standing ovation” (and yes, she did the air-quotes) and then she knew she was toast.
- Judging by Zoe’s reaction, this is not a thing that we were supposed to know about, but clearly Jamelia doesn’t care who hears it <3
- Jamelia liked her quickstep hair because it made her look a bit like Nicki Minaj.
- Tristan doesn't think they should have left last weekend.
- They are still promoting BLACKPOOL even though that was last weekend.
- Jeremy went for a kebab on Saturday after he’d finished clubbing.
- Paul the floor manager is TERRIBLE at celebrity impressions.
- Jay doesn’t feel very Cuban, so he channeled a LADZ HOLIDAY to Benidorm for his salsa.
- Aliona’s training process doesn’t involve music on day one, and frequently not on day two either.
- Jay’s reaction to a cute kid is a desire to cut off its hair, hands and feet, then put it in a bag and kick it.
- Aliona and her husband Vincent took Jay to Blackpool where he watched Avatar in the car and got excited by them having a pub dinner on the way.
- Aliona and Jay can play the piano, although Jay claims he can only play one song, by Counting Crows.
- Aliona and Jay were going to have fire and ice in their dance but Aliona isn't sure she wants that after all and hasn't told the production team yet.
- It was Zoe's birthday on Monday.
- Karen Hardy started dancing at the age of 5, Tristan started at the age of 9, Aliona started ballet at 5 and moved to latin/ballroom at 11.
- Even five year olds have noticed it's easier to get high marks in Charleston than other dances.
- Aliona thinks you can get away with murder in a Charleston if you give a good performance.
- Kevin told Kellie to act like a wardrobe for their quickstep.
- Kevin completely messed up the dress rehearsal at Blackpool.
- Masterful Gleb makes Zoe come over all funny.  She's not the only one.
- Karen thinks Giovanni and Georgia just did another Viennesse Waltz on Saturday and there wasn't much American Smooth content.
- Natalie’s heard a rumour that Ola can’t cook.
- Oti is a messy cook.
- Oti started dancing at the age of 4.
- Oti has two elder sisters: the first one did Strictly Germany, the second one did Strictly South Africa, and now Oti’s doing Strictly UK they’re officially an international dance dynasty. TAKE THAT, CLIFTONS!
- Peter texted Janette two hours before his performance on Saturday to say he felt really heavy-footed. Text? Why couldn’t he tell her? What was going on?
- Peter thinks he got his first ever 10 from Len. Poor Darcey.
- Apparently the outcome of the Blackpool dance-off has been attracting quite a lot of complaints.
- The official party line is that Jamelia vs Peter was VERY CLOSE.
- Len sometimes regrets the scores that he gives.
- The dance-off verdicts will now come with explanations like Big Brother nominations.  I wonder if they will have to make a 'legitimate' reason as on BB too.
- Oti doesn’t know what linguine is.
- Natalie still cooks despite what happened on Celebrity MasterChef.
- Natalie used to go 'prawning' with her dad when she was a kid.
- Natalie started dancing at 3 and won Australian Strictly once.
- Ian Waite is apparently trying to Single White Female Jay.
- There are dirty foot and hand prints all over the floor of Jay and Aliona's dance studio.  Could these be for a comedy VT?
- Gleb wears purple socks.
- Helen is glad she didn’t have to look at the multiple dancing Helens because she would have found it quite scary.
- Aljaž loves a fleckerl.
- Jason Gilkinson was torn between doing an Argentine tango group number or the Lindyhop for Blackpool, but we’ll probably get the group Argentine tango routine next year.
- Aljaž is the naughtiest pro according to Jason Gilkison.
- Jason is looking forward to seeing Jamelia and Carol come back for the end-of-series group routine. And Jeremy.
- Anita finds her paso doble quite funny to watch back.
- Getting a nine from Craig meant more to Anita than getting a 10 from Darcey.
- Anita hasn’t cried yet. On Strictly at least.
- Katie will be wearing turquoise in her Argentine Tango because she only recently wore black in the rumba.
- Apparently Ola’s objection to rigging competitions does not extend to her rigging Strictly Come Dining in her own favour.
- The viewers’ favourite female winner of all time is…Kara! (I voted for Alesha, but I’m happy with any winner that isn’t Abbey Fucking Clancy tbh.)
- Apparently you get very used to seeing everybody in their pants when you do Strictly. Sounds fun.
- That doesn't excuse us having to see Anton in his (which are blue).
- Lilia called Aled Jones “Shrek and five bellies” on his first day of rehearsal.
- Katie liked watching Anton 'choreograph all the boys'.  I so hope that isn't a euphemism.
- Anton thinks he and Katie should’ve saved one of their nines from Blackpool for future use.
- Katie quite enjoyed Anton having to learn the Argentine tango at the same time she was learning it.
- Anton got kicked by the choreography during training and had “an aching throb for quite a while”.
- Eamonn Holmes thinks Strictly should be full of middle-aged people, but then he also thinks Jay isn’t formally trained.
- Ruth Langsford hasn't yet learned that the tango and the Argentine tango are not the same thing.
- Eamonn Holmes would forgive a lot of mistakes if he liked the music.  Let's hope he's not being lined up as an emergency judge.
- Karen Clifton finds being in a laundry a lot of fun. Must be some wild nights at Chez Clifton.
- There was a slight error in Georgia’s lift at Blackpool because the back-up dancer who was meant to be lifting her grabbed a handful of her dress instead of her leg.
- Strictly physio takes place in a kitchen.
- Giovanni thought Blackpool was too cold.
- Giovanni will not be topless for Georgia’s paso, but he was topless in rehearsals to make up for it.
- When Giovanni 'capes', he looks like he's performing a magic trick.  If the Strictly choreographers are taking ideas, make sure you credit us.
- Zoe’s Danish pronunciation is even worse than mine.
- The Danish version of Strictly had some quite hot men on it this year.
- The Danish version of It Takes Two has a title that translates as “Step By Step”, and it is only on two days a week.
- The Danish judges have '1' paddles and actually use them.
- Karen Hardy calls the Clauditorium 'Claudia's area', filthy so and so.
- Janette's standard of what is funny has lowered somewhat because of Peter.
- Kellie has been advising Peter on how to recover from a bottom two appearance.
- Kevin is considering boxing another couple into a corner during the quickstepathon, or possibly taking a dive.
- Janette, however, seems excited about the idea of driving across the floor through everyone else at speed.  Possibly in a car, she didn't specify.
- Zoe took her Aljaž mask home and made Norman wear it.
- Eamonn Holmes thinks the public will have turned against Peter, but Ruth Langsford does not.
- Ruth Langsford salsas while she’s cooking, but Eamonn Holmes does not.
- Eamonn Holmes thinks Jay, Anita, Helen and Georgia are definitely not going home this weekend. 
- Ruth Langsford wants Georgia to win, Eamonn Holmes wants Katie to win “because it may be Anton’s last series and he’s very old”, and Kimberly Wyatt wants Helen to win.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Fifth time unlucky

Week 9: Top 8 Results (Blackpool Week) - 22 November 2015

We open with a pro dance to David Guetta's 'What I Did For Love' (should've been the A Chorus Line one instead if you ask me) that takes full advantage of the towering heights of the Blackpool ballroom by draping lots of fabric and harnesses from the ceiling and wafting all of the women around. Ola is the first to go up in the air, which is remarkably brave of her considering the things she's said about the show in the last 48 hours and how easily it would be for whoever's operating the harness to "have an off day", so to speak. It's a lot of dry ice and contempo-wafting worthy of a showdance or a Karen Clifton rumba, with a little bit of Cirque du Soleil-style aerial contortion and emoting straight down the camera lens thrown in for good measure. Then Aljaž and Joanne do a random and unexpected quickstep down the middle and it all gets a bit more samba-y instead. The routine culminates with the celebrities walking down the steps, colour-coded by gender and really ramming home what an absolute blokeageddon this series has been. Not that I'm complaining. Jay's probably still winning, anyway.

Claudia and Tess emerge from behind windbreaks at either side of the stage: Tess wearing sunglasses and looking immaculate, and Claudia carrying a shattered umbrella and with her hair (/a wig) backcombed like a bird's nest. If, like me, you were too busy looking at Twitter when this particular gag happened, it all got a bit surreal when Claudia remained looking like that for the rest of the opening segment and nobody made any reference to it. Claudia reminds us that one couple (/Jamelia) will be leaving tonight, and Tess summons the judges, none of whom descend from the ceiling this time, which is a bit of a shame. Claudia reminds us that Anastacia will be here later singing 'I'm Outta Love' and that Take That are "in the building", which will prove to be a lie later.

A quick recap of yesterday's events, framed by the judges titting about on a tram. Georgia goes Full Northern as she tells us about having Lancashire hotpot for her dinner, Helen says that everything is bigger and better in Blackpool (oh really?) and Katie says they all need to embrace their inner divas. Peter says it's week nine and nobody's safe (lol foreshadowing) and Jamelia thinks it's great that everyone's bringing their A-game. Anita worries that she hasn't got enough make-up, and Jay is just hoping it all goes well. After their victorious American smooth, Anton tells Katie that she was tremendous, and Jay does a cute but cringeworthy little dance of joy for Aliona backstage after their positive comments and high scores for their salsa. Interestingly we do not see Peter's backstage reaction to his comments this week, but we do see a tearful Helen saying that she wanted the judges to enjoy the dance, and she can't dance any harder or do anything else. I love Helen, but I do fear for her sanity, especially now the competition is getting tighter. Jamelia's pleased to have danced in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, Anita does not get a backstage reaction moment either, and Kellie's so excited about her 10 that she accidentally lets the sprung door fall back on Kevin's face. Georgia cries a bit, and Giovanni pokes gentle fun at her, and there we have it.

The cue cards of doom are out, and Tess has the first round of results. The first three couples through to next week are Kellie and Kevin, Jay and Aliona, and Georgia and Giovanni. The first couple facing the dance-off is...Peter and Janette. HA! I must admit, I thought his fans would have mobilised to keep him in after he was bottom of the leaderboard, but apparently he doesn't have as many fans as we all assumed. Peter immediately says "that's okay!" in a way that suggests it is probably not actually okay at all. (By the way, Tristan has a huge grin on his face the whole way through this, because he knows they're in the dance-off again and has already expended his extremely limited amount of fucks-to-give per series.)

Tess tells Peter that he hasn't been here before (the dance-off, not Blackpool), and Peter waffles on about rollercoasters and the journey and how lucky he's been so far. "I deserve to be here tonight, and that's the way it is," he declares. Asked for his input, Bruno tells Peter that his performance level is flawless, but he just needs to get on his toes and ensure the kicks and flicks (what kicks and flicks?) are sharp. Peter demonstrates, and Bruno affirms that he can actually do it, so that's what he needs to do in the dance-off.

In Claudia's Corner - Now With Velvet Seating! - Claudia congratulates Georgia on being top of the leaderboard once again, and Georgia adds that it's great to be top of the leaderboard up north. Claudia reveals that Jay has tango next week and asks him to give us his tango face, which is more of a catwalk model face, but still. Kevin then has to explain the quickstepathon that lies ahead next week, where all seven couples will be on the floor at once doing the quickstep, much like they would in an actual ballroom competition, and there may well be carnage of some sort. I hope so, these things haven't been very exciting since The Great Ali Bastian Viennese Waltz Demolition Derby Of 2009.

Next we have Anastacia, who is here to sing 'I'm Outta Love'. I think that she may have spent a little bit of time at the bar with Katie before this performance, because it's certainly...eccentric. But it's fun, and Anastacia is always a delight even when she's singing flat and slurring her words, especially when she changes one of the lines "ANASTACIA be the one to let YOU goooo!". So drunk. [I couldn't care less about her music, but I totally love her as a personality - Rad] Also there are some dancing randoms doing floor gymnastics in front of her, which I guess gives the show's pros a chance for a nice sit down.

After she's finished, it's time for a special Blackpool Len's Lens, and Len opens by celebrating Jamelia with a closer look at her quickstep, in particular marvelling at the synchronicity of the jeté in the running section. Len is very impressed that she pulled that off considering the speed they were going at. Darcey has chosen to watch Anita's paso again - not, inexplicably, for shirtless Gleb, but for the detail and the accents in Anita's hand movements. Craig explains his thinking on Helen's charleston, repeating his point that it should have been messier because the whole point of the charleston is about going mad because you couldn't get any booze. Meanwhile, I still feel that "you weren't gurning enough" has no place in charleston criticism now that we have fully moved on from the Hollinsography era. Bruno wants to talk about Georgia and her beautiful spins and the fluidity of her arms. He thinks she looks very balletic. Darcey chips in that Georgia is perfectly in sync with the men behind her at a point in the video where she is...not so much, but that slo mo footage will get you every time. Then we get one last look at Craig straddling the guitar, and we're done. Len's Lens: mostly useful once again this week, well done everybody.

So who's joining Peter in the dance-off? It's not Anita and Gleb, Katie and Anton or Helen and Aljaž (who don't even seem that worried when left until the very end, because of who's standing there with them), so Jamelia is heading for her fifth dance-off. They're stood right at the other end of the room, so they practically have to quickstep over to Tess before the dance off even starts. Jamelia is philosophical about her situation, saying that she's got another chance to dance in Blackpool, and she's really looking forward to it. Len is asked what Jamelia can do to survive, and Len says she just needs to show that exact attitude she's just shown us, and enjoy herself.

Over to Claudia's Corner, where Anita says that nothing can prepare you for dancing in Blackpool, and doing the paso doble made it better because that was one of the dances that she really wanted to do. Katie admits that she would've laughed in Claudia's face if she'd been told at the beginning that she would make it to week 10 (as you would, when given Anton as a partner), and Claudia tells us that Katie has the Argentine tango next week.

Now Take That are performing - not in the building, as Claudia said ealrier, but just pulling up outside. I'd love to recap this performance but unfortunately I don't recap tax cheats, so *fast-forwards*. [Note: I have probably recapped some tax cheats without realising it, but I really don't have the time or opportunity to check everyone's records with HMRC before the start of each series.] [They looked and sounded a total mess, so goodness knows what they're doing with taxpayers' money, but it certainly isn't going to stylists or vocal coaches - Rad]

Tess thinks this could be the closest dance-off of the series (spoiler: it sort of will be), and Jamelia says that she's loved performing here and she's actually quite happy to be able to perform it again. Claudia points out that the judges said it was Jamelia's best ballroom dance, and asks Tristan if he's proud of her; he replies that of course he's proud of her, and he actually thinks it's her best dance, full-stop, not just ballroom. Aww, that's sweet. They head off to get into their boxes while Tess and Claudia turn their attention to Peter and Janette. Peter says he isn't sure how he's going to attack the dance-off, but he'll take on board what the judges said about being light on his toes. Janette says that she always tells Peter to go out and give it his all and enjoy the ride, and if they have to go out, then go out with a bang. Peter then chirps up that he didn't want to be here with Jamelia because she's been here so many times and he just wants her to do well. Hmm, even when he tries to be nice he's still incredibly annoying, isn't he? Slay him, Jamelia!

Jamelia take to the floor once again and reprise their quickstep with an impressive amount of energy, and I think the body contact is better this time around too. She finishes with a big grin on her face, which is all you can ask for, really. Then Peter and Janette reprise That Thing That Called Itself A Jive, and it's somehow worse than it was the first time out: Peter seems genuinely rattled and makes a few mistakes - nothing major, but his timing just seems to be off this time. So, if it's actually down to the best performance in the dance-off, Jamelia should be the one staying. But let's see how this goes.

Craig votes to keep Peter and Janette in the competition. Darcey votes to save Peter and Janette, "on their improvement in tonight's performance" (justify it to yourself however you like, Darcey, but don't lie to the British public) [Quite.  They should have just been honest and said because she's always in the bottom two so they're letting her go.  I mean, that makes the dance-off pointless, but given she was brilliant and Peter was terrible, the dance-off was pointless anyway - Rad]. Bruno says he would like Peter and Janette to stay on the show, so they are through and Jamelia finally falls. Tess goes to Len to ask how he would have voted, and he says that actually he would have voted to keep Jamelia and Tristan because of their fine quickstep. The audience hollers in approval at this, so whatever support there may have been for Peter, it looks like there was a lot of support for keeping Jamelia around too - and who would have thought that a few weeks ago? (Also how amazing that Jamelia's eventual exit is the first split decision of the series, and that she was only one vote from seeing off Peter Andre?) Darcey has her head in her hands at this point as well, which does make me wonder if she might be slightly regretting her choice now she knows how Len would have voted. Too little too late, Bussell!

Jamelia says that she's sorry to go, but she's had an amazing time, made some brilliant friends, and got farther in the competition than she ever thought she would. Tess says that Jamelia and Tristan have clearly become great mates, and Jamelia says that she could not have had a better partner - he's been so positive and it's all thanks to him that she's made it this far, so she thanks him. Tristan says that as a dance teacher he wants to pass on information to people, and he's so proud of how much Jamelia has learned in her time on the show. Jamelia thanks Tess and Claudia for their encouragement, and the judges for helping her to leave as "a bit of a dancer".

Jamelia and Tristan have their final dance to 'Don't Leave Me This Way (Not With Peter Andre Still In The Competition)', and as the others rush on to say goodbye to her, it's Helen who absolutely tacklehugs Jamelia, so I'm guessing they were quite close. Sure enough, in the post-show VT, Helen says that they've become good friends and she'll be sad to see Jamelia go, while Peter says he's grateful to have got through, but it could easily have gone the other way. Georgia says she'll never forget this night, Kellie feels chuffed to have been a part of this, and Jay says that he will be "tent-faced again" next week, while Anton vows to take out everyone in the quickstepathon, and Anita is looking forward to doing a rumba with Gleb, as would we all.

That's it from Blackpool. Join Rad next week for the top seven couples and the quickstepathon, and the elimination of our first contender, I suppose.

The Peter principle

Week 9: Top 8 Perform (Blackpool Week) - 21 November 2015

So, you guys, I don't know if you were aware of this, but Strictly Come Dancing is in Blackpool this week. I know, they kept it so quiet, didn't they? Apparently they've gone there because it's quite a famous ballroom dancing destination? This is all new to me, I'm clearly going to have to do some research. Thankfully some Blackpudlians are here to explain it all and tell us how excited they are to have the show coming to pay a visit - including one person who's particularly excited that Peter Andre is coming to Blackpool, because apparently there's no accounting for taste. The eight remaining celebs are all filmed stepping across the Tower Ballroom threshold and recoiling in wonder and mild horror at the size of the space they will be performing in this weekend. There's also a "bit" where Katie wonders what's happened to Georgia and Giovanni, and it turns out he's taken her on the Big One (phrasing) under the pretence that it's the fastest way to the Tower. I know Georgia's a bit dense, but surely even she knows that rollercoasters always end where they began?

Special slightly-altered Blackpool titles! In tribute to the Digital Spy forums, I would like to overanalyse the backdrop of Jay and Aliona's footage which contains a lot of windows, which are TRANSPARENT, just like the show's attempts to SABOTAGE HIM AND FAVOUR PETER ANDRE!!!!!!11!!

We open with a group routine which the show has gone to great lengths to point out is definitely Upstairs Downstairs themed and definitely not in any way Downton Abbey-related. Just so we're clear on that. The celebrities are all sitting at a table enjoying a huge banquet [and Katie is quaffing all the champers <3 - Rad] while the professional dancers are the serfs toiling in the background to keep them in the luxury to which they are accustomed. I'm sure Ola, who's playing a lowly kitchenmaid in this scenario, could probably comment on this, but let's not, eh? It begins when Peter (who else?) gets Anton to take his food back because it's far too cold, and then the band strikes up with 'Bills' by LunchMoney Lewis as all of the pros do their best pantomime faces and run around looking frantic before breaking into a lindyhop routine. It being Blackpool, there are also lots of back-up dancers to make the whole thing showier, more expansive and more elaborate, but it does make it that bit harder to keep track of what anyone specific is doing at any one time. Eventually the aristocratic celebs break free from the confines of the table and join in the routine (special guest choreographer Julian Fellowes here, reminding us how the toffs totally saw their servants as equals) with Kellie leading the charge, and then it ends with Giovanni getting creamed in the face after he tries it on with her. That is to say, Gleb, Tristan, Peter and Anton (I think, it's hard to see) are carrying the cake at a 45-degree angle and Giovanni just herp-a-derp-derp walks into it. I know "cake in the face" is a classic bit of slapstick but I'm not entirely sure Jason Gilkison quite gets how it's supposed to work. Here's a hint: it's supposed to look like an accident. This just looked like Giovanni going "oh yeah, I have to walk into a cake now".

Tess and Claudia arrive, escorted by Pasha and Brendan respectively. Tess and Claudia have both gone for "black with sparkles" tonight, with Claudia's dress being slightly more understated than Tess's but both of them looking rather lovely, so well done wardrobe. Claudia reminds us that Jeremy Vine got his marching orders last week, losing out to Dance Off Queen Jamelia, though he does get to be in the audience tonight. Whether he arrived there on a fibreglass horse or after descending from the ceiling riding a guitar is not specified.

The judges arrive: Len, Darcey and Bruno shimmy on to 'Agadoo', with Darcey once again existing in a total vacuum of fucks by doing all the arm movements at the wrong parts of the song. But wait a minute, where's Craig? Oh, there we go: Craig is atop the guitar that Jeremy was supposed to be riding, and the shower of sparks coming out of both ends of the guitar as Craig straddles it makes it look a bit not-for-teatime, but there you go. Still, I'm glad the BBC got their money out of that monstrous prop one way or another. It descends to the floor, and Claudia has to help Craig down as he giggles "get me off this thing!" Tee hee. Tess suggests that they ask Jeremy what he thought of that entrance, and we cut to Jeremy in the audience again, fake-scowling and holding up a three paddle. Ba-dum-tish!

So here are our Strictly stars: Kellie and Kevin, Anita and Gleb (him wearing a Milk Tray Man-style turtleneck to conceal the delights that his actual costume will afford us later), Katie and Anton, Helen and Aljaž, Georgia and Giovanni, Jamelia and Tristan, Peter and Janette, and Jay and Aliona. Shimmy count, Blackpool edition: everyone seems to be doing a little bit, but Helen, Kellie, Kevin, Georgia and Janette are the ones really going for it. Tess says that everyone is "dressed to the nines, but hoping for tens", which is a line I rather like. Claudia reminds us that one couple will be leaving the competition this weekend, and everyone tries not to look at Jamelia.

The couple with the honour of opening the show in Blackpool are Jay and Aliona with their salsa. Tess breathily announces that we've got the music and the costumes, so now all we need are the guests, and suddenly I realise how much she reminds me of Countess LuAnn. ELEGANZZZ! In his VT, Jay reminds us that last week's foxtrot was going well until he fell over his feet and forgot the routine, and then Aliona elbowed him in the face. Also, he received the same critiques he's been getting for a few weeks now about the general lack of action on his face. He didn't enjoy being third from bottom last week, or being left until last to be called safe, so he doesn't want that to happen again. This week they've got the salsa, and Aliona is trying to get Jay to really focus on the character of the dance with his body in the hope that the message will get to his face somehow. She tells Jay that they need more energy when they perform because they have a much bigger room to fill, and Jay promises that "nobody goes home without a smile". That really sounds like the sort of thing my supervisors used to say to me when I worked in retail. Jay says that the pressure is on to meet up to the expectations of Blackpool, and he hopes that Craig will be happy with his face.

They're dancing to 'Cuba' by Gibson Brothers, and the theme is of Jay in a bar getting hit on by lots of girls, but it's coy Aliona at the neighbouring table with her topknot ponytail who catches his eye and then they salsa. Jay's salsa rhythm is good, his legs move easily to the rhythm and he seems very relaxed and comfortable in this routine. As a result, the enjoyment does show on his face a bit more, though it's not exactly a performance breakthrough - you can frequently see him biting his bottom lip either with nerves or through concentration, though as a lip-biter myself I have some degree of empathy. There's a great lift where he turns Aliona in a cartwheel and then goes straight into whirling her around his waist without putting her down first, and another one where he spins her around and around while she sits on his hips that just seems to go on forever. I'm not sure he quite manages the sheer dizzying levels of energy that you need to fill a space like the Tower Ballroom, so it's handy that he's got backing dancers here to pick up the slack, but it's a fun, lively routine danced with confidence and style.

There's a standing ovation for them at the end, and Jay tells Tess it felt "really nice" to be here, and adds that she looks beautiful tonight. I think Tess's knees actually buckle a bit when he says that. Tess then welcomes the band and the singers, though Ant from V appears not to be here this week. Was he just a one-time thing then? Len tells Jay there's no end to his talent - "I didn't know you could make Blackpool rock" (oh dear) - and he feels that Jay has returned to week three jive levels with that routine. Bruno was impressed by the hips, and the "loins on fire". He thinks Jay got the night off to a good start, and he blended so well with the professional dancers as to be indistinguishable. He asks Jay if he did his back in, and Aliona's like "no!" Tess asks Craig if the smile made him happy, and Craig says he thought the armography was good, he loved the hip action and the fluidity, he adored the dangerous lifts, and he was pleased to see some facial expression at long last. The crowd goes wild for this, and I think it speaks volumes to how easily you can create a massive journey arc out of "this guy doesn't smile much". Darcey says that he warmed up the ballroom and he also WARMED HER UP THANK YOU. She liked the flirtatious spirit of the dance and the natural hip action very much.

Jay and Aliona head to what we shall call Claudia's Corner for this week as they're just all huddled behind a curtain, and Jay tells Claudia that he feels really good. Since Jay really isn't much of a talker, Aliona chips in that he was really playing with the dance and enjoy it. Claudia asks Aliona to sum up the atmosphere here, and Aliona says it's "just ten times more, because of the audience" (A+ pandering to the crowd, well done Aliona) and everyone whoops. Scores: Craig 9, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 36. A huge increase from last week, and a good start to the evening in general, I feel. Claudia reads the terms and conditions while the crowd around her start a conga line. Standard.

In the death slot, naturally, we have Jamelia and Tristan. Guys, they're going home this week whatever happens, you could at least have given them a decent performance slot as a goodbye gift. Jamelia was happy with the way things went last week, though of course she and Tristan were in the dance-off again - since this was their fourth one, it's starting to take its toll on her a little bit. She's pleased to have made it to Blackpool though. This week they have a quickstep, and they are going to be dolls in boxes at the start of their routine, so Tristan takes Jamelia to Madame Tussauds for inspiration. He gets her to pretend to be a waxwork to see if she can convince any of the crowd, which I think is mostly an excuse for Tristan to laugh at how awkward Jamelia feels and how embarrassed anyone who falls for it looks. He's got a cruel streak, that one. They go back into training, and Jamelia says she's really looking forward to getting into character.

They're dancing to 'I'm A Believer' and they start out, as anticipated, as dolls in boxes, which looks quite cool. The art department have done a good job here. They escape the boxes and move around in a doll-like fashion for a few more bars, then they take hold and whizz around the dancefloor at great speed. I'm pleased to report that it's actually pretty good - it does look a bit more like running than dancing at points, and Jamelia's dress is quite long so I'm not entirely sure how technically accurate her footwork is, but she keeps up brilliantly, dances with more confidence than I think I've ever seen, and since this is absolutely guaranteed to be her swansong (no spoilers, but COME ON), it's a very respectable performance to go out on.

Bruno tells Jamelia he believes in her totally, and that was a "quickstep of great content and beautiful packaging" - he says she really worked hard on her footwork and it showed, but she still had occasional problems with the frame when she got into the running parts. Tess asks Craig if they can avoid a fifth dance-off and Craig's all "lol no", he thinks the underarm turns were problematic and they lost body contact, but Jamelia should be proud of how much her ballroom has improved. Darcey tells Jamelia that there weren't any mistakes, and she coped very well with a difficult routine. Len finishes by saying that this quickstep absolutely proved that Jamelia deserved to be here in Blackpool.

Claudia asks Jamelia if she enjoyed it, and she says that she's really glad to be here and to have shared this experience with everyone. She adds that she'd rather written herself off on the ballroom front up to this point, but she's loved doing the quickstep and it was great to perform it in Blackpool. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 8, Len 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 31. It's Jamelia's highest score since week four, her highest score in ballroom, and her second highest score overall. Like I said, a good note to go out on.

Anita and Gleb are next with their paso doble to traditional Spanish music (written by a Cuban composer and popularised by a woman from New Jersey). Last week's quickstep went very well (but was still undermarked, goddammit) and now Anita's excited to be in Blackpool, as is Gleb, who has never danced here before and, judging by his record across the Dancing With The Stars franchise as a whole, never will again. Anita tells Gleb (and us) that Blackpool has a special place in her heart because they went there on holiday when she was a kid, and she's excited to show him around. She takes him for fish and chips first of all, which Gleb seems to approve of, as much as Gleb ever approves of anything. We do get to see a look of apparent genuine glee on his face as he sits on a toy train ride clearly made for children (♥) and then Gleb gets his revenge by bringing out an old Rani family photo from when Anita was a kid. Anita is very excited about having yet another fabulous memory of Blackpool to add to her collection.

So they're dancing to 'Malagueña' and Anita is surrounded by shirtless dancers in high-waisted trousers, one of whom is Gleb and...I'm sorry, my mouth just went completely dry, where was I again? Oh, right, so there's a huge sheet of blood-red fabric attached to the back of Anita's equally blood-red dress, and Anita is looking very regal and imperious and Gleb's trousers are very tight, dance and...words? Sorry, this is very hard to recap under the circumstances. It's a really gripping paso - a bit softer and more lyrical than you might expect, but the concept really works. It's nice to see Anita actually the focal point of her own routine for once, and she doesn't waste the opportunity. The whole thing is just so dramatic and bold and there's even a costume change where Gleb PUTS CLOTHES ON (well, Anita puts a matador jacket on him) and I think this is finally the breakthrough week Anita has been waiting for. The crowd screams with delight when it's over, and it feels like the standing ovation is almost spontaneous for once. And to think people said there'd be no fun in Blackpool without Jeremy Vine.

Anita stays in character to walk over to Tess, which is quite fun, and we see her family in the audience looking incredibly proud. Tess gushes "four male dancers, Anita!" and Anita channels Gavin Henson to respond: "I know. Lucky them." [Anita is a goddess - Rad] Tess tells her that she brought the bullring to Blackpool, and I briefly wonder if "Birmingham Week" could be a thing. Craig loved the drama and the Spanish lines, and calls the theatricality of it "right up my Straße" (phrasing - also, this wasn't German, Craig). Darcey says that Anita blew her away, and it was forceful but beautifully classy at the same time, particularly the way she used her fingers to "extentuate" the style. Len says it was full of drama, mood and passion, and he too loved her arms. Bruno says this was not a paso doble for vegetarians because of all the prime beef on display, and he loved how Anita was commanding the whole thing and embodying the heart and soul of Spain.

They scoot off to Claudia's Corner, and Anita squeals a hello to her parents who are here on what Claudia refers to as a "second honeymoon". Anita says it's been very emotional, because this is her mum's dream, and it's been even better for her to see her daughter fulfilling it. Anita thanks Gleb for the choreography, and the scores are in: Craig 9, Darcey 10, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 37 - Anita's first 10 and her highest score to date. Gleb says he's so proud of her, and this was his favourite dance. [I really hoped they'd finally get the #justice4anita top placing they should have had ages ago, but this will do, I guess - Rad]

Katie and Anton are next, and Tess reminds us that they've had a bit of a bumpy ride up and down the leaderboard so far - so how will they get on this week? Last week's rumba was a little rough around the edges but was generally well-received, and this week they have the American smooth to 'Ain't That A Kick In The Head', which is going to be classic Anton and very Fred 'n' Ginge and all that, so who better to come in and give Katie some tips than ERIN MOTHERFLUFFING BOAG! Katie is thrilled to learn from Erin, so they have a cup of tea (/Irish coffee, probably, in Katie's case) together while Erin explains that Katie should be a good fit for this dance, while assuring Katie that Anton wants her to do well and cares about them as a partnership. Obviously I'm 100 per cent in favour of anything that gets Erin back on our screens, but couldn't Anton have told Katie that himself? Maybe this is a pilot for Erin Boag: Dance Counsellor as a new segment on It Takes Two. I say commission it, it has to be better than Robin Windor's Dance Alphabet. Katie says she's very inspired after speaking to Erin, so now she just has to capitalise on that on the night. [I was hoping for Erin ousting Anton and the unlikely but amazing combo of Erin/Katie to be the show's first same-sex dance partnership.  Even more so now we're going to have to suffer an Anton Argentine Tango - Rad]

The routine is absolutely classic Hollywood - right in Anton's wheelhouse, and Katie's too, it turns out. She does look drunker than she's looked in a while (seriously, Katie, open your eyes occasionally), but the whole thing is beautiful and elegant and a real return to Katie's early form. She's clearly having an absolute blast too - it feels like this is exactly what she wanted to do when she signed up, and now she's getting to do it in BLACKPOOL.

Darcey tells Katie the routine was exquisite, and she had film star style from beginning to end. (Lindsay Lohan, perhaps?) She does, however, get a little jittery in the transitions, so she needs to work on smoothening those out. Len tells Katie that she really came out and performed it, and it was a fitting dance for the location - and it was Katie's best dance without a doubt. Bruno calls it "an amazing welcome to the temple of ballroom" (we've been here 40 minutes already Bruno, wake up) and it was like a tribute to the great dancing queens of the Hollywood golden age. Craig thinks it had the elegance that is Katie's forté, but she occasionally looked a bit lost coming out of the lifts, so she needs to learn exactly where she's going. However, if she can sort that out, it's all gorgeous.

Back in Claudia's Corner, Katie admits that she was waiting for the big "but" when Craig was talking (insert Pasha joke here) and this has been the most wonderful dance to perform in Blackpool with Anton. Anton jokes that the top hat makes him look younger and "reduces my age by months". Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 35. Katie's highest score - and also Anton's highest score ever. Just think, a few weeks ago we thought Katie was in a death spiral, but now the AntonTrain 2015 is back on track. Woo-woo!

After a quick run-through of the four performances yet to come, we get Claudia's Comedy Corner, where she's got Aljaž, Brendan, Giovanni and Gleb lined out to test her Kiss Me Quick hat. They make a hasty retreat, and Claudia wonders if her hat is broken. She hurries off yelling "Gleb, I'm gonna fix it!" and three more Digital Spy forum posts about how this would be sexual harassment if Claudia were a man suddenly appear as if by magic.

Up next, we have Peter and Janette with a jive themed around a 60s TV show, which is presumably where Peter has been getting all of his material from. Peter was delighted to get his second-highest score of the series last week, and he's excited to be here in Blackpool. Obviously substitute "delighted" and "excited" for a reasonable facsimile of those emotions as generated by TV narrative machine Peter Andre. In their VT, Janette pretends she's built a time machine to take them back in time to an actual TV show in the Sixties (/the set of It Takes Two shot in grainy black and white) where their 1960s selves interview present-day them about how their training is going. Peter admits that training has been a bit tough this week as it's taken him longer to get the moves, but he's pleased about that because it means the routine is more challenging and complicated. Ahh, hubris.

So they do their jive, except it's barely even a jive at all. There are almost no recognisable jive steps and it looks more like a number from Hairspray. There are virtually no kicks or flicks and the pivot turns are clunky and Peter's free arm is all over the place. It's strange - it's obviously been designed to be a real showstopper, but the lack of content and the poor technique makes it feel unspectacular. Maybe Peter could've done with a bit more time in training and a bit less time filming stupid comedy VTs? [This suuuuuuuuucked.  He was so, so bad, all lumpen and 'yeah, will this do?' - Rad]

Len says there were lights, camera and plenty of action, but it wasn't his finest hour - his hands were getting wide, and the chasses could have been crisper. Bruno thinks the energy and enthusiasm were "top of the pops", but Peter needs to be careful not to lose the style of the dance - the kicks and flicks need to be distinguishable, and Peter had his weight too far back. Peter's circuitry starts to melt down a bit at this point, and he starts saying "Yes! True!" far louder than he needs to, and the vein in his temple starts to pulse, Stressed Eric-style. Craig says it falls at the bottom of the pack of jives we've had this year (which I'm sure will be a relief to Jeremy and Ainsley), because it was heavy and flat-footed and the kicks looked very odd. But his commitment (to the terribleness) was admirable. Darcey finishes by saying that she thought the sprung floor might have thrown him off, but she thought he was in his element dancing on the stairs, and he reminded her of Bruno. Ha! Peter frantically course-corrects, stuttering that he did make some mistakes but they HAD A GREAT TIME.

Peter wanders off to Claudia's Corner, still pattering away about The Atmosphere and The Crowd and The Wonderful Time even though his mic is down. This is an Andre Malfunction Level Six, repeat Level Six, urgent assistance required. He tells Claudia that it's great to be learning new techniques, fantastic, a lot of fun. Claudia asks if it's hard to be told you clearly weren't the best, and Peter starts talking about it being "expected" at the same time as Janette's going on about what a blast they were having. Peter says it's good for him to have a tough week. Let's see how tough! Craig 6, Darcey 7, Len 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 29. Peter keeps shouting things like "still nice!" after Craig's score, lolz. I, personally, am scandalised that Len and Bruno scored that the same as Jamelia, and only one point less than Anita. It was shit! Mark him down properly!

Up next, Georgia and Giovanni. Tess reminds us again, some more, how good Georgia's charleston last week and hypes up this week's American smooth to frankly terrifying levels. Georgia tells us that they are dancing to 'I Have Nothing', which is apparently Gio's favourite song. I wonder if it's his favourite song like Chicago was hers? He's spent most of the week caterwauling his way through the song, so Georgia takes him out to karaoke to get it out of his system. This is the campest Giovanni has ever looked, which on this show is no mean feat. [Also this was the first VT where I actually liked him - Rad]

Their American smooth is Viennese waltz-based, and Georgia descends to the dancefloor on a giant crescent moon, which may or may not have been stolen out of the props archive from Over The Rainbow. Also, Georgia has a load of daisies in her hair, which doesn't really work for me as a "look", sorry about it. Honestly, I think this is one of the few routines that doesn't really benefit from having the backing dancers, and may well have been stronger without them - I think Georgia and Giovanni are more than capable of filling this whole space by themselves, and incorporating reasons to use the extra bodies on the floor seems to hamstring them more than anything. Certainly the moments where they're alone on the floor and relying on their natural talent and chemistry are the parts that work best.

Bruno calls Georgia "heavenly creature" and says he's experiencing "pure ballroom bliss". He thinks it was fantastic, and her arms were like water. Craig says there was a little mistiming in one of the lifts, but he's going to gloss over it because "the same happened to me the other night, darling". He thinks Georgia is coming into her own, and it's fantastic. Darcey says that Georgia is so graceful that she has to call her "graceful Georgia", and she predicts that Georgia is going to go far. Len says "with the storm last night and your dancing today, that's twice I've been blown away in Blackpool". Only twice, Len? Not what I've heard. He guarantees she'll be top, or at least right up there, because that was a brilliant performance.

They head back to Claudia's Corner where Giovanni sings again, and everyone humours him as best they can. Georgia says it's such a beautiful song, and it's a dream come true to be here. We get a quick shot of Georgia's dad and grandmother in the audience, and Georgia tells us that she's wearing her great-grandmother's earrings and also has her great-grandmother's brooch on the dress, because Great Granny Foote (or whatever name she may have had) was a ballroom dancer. Oh my god, genetic ringer! Scores: Craig 9, Darcey 9, Len 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 38. Georgia's a bit overcome, as well she might be.

In the penultimate performance slot, we have Helen and Aljaž. Helen loved getting to do an aggressive and fierce tango last week, and she was pleased to be (joint-) second because it's such a tough competition. This week they've got the charleston, which Helen thinks is the most difficult choreography she's had yet. For their routine, the gimmick is that all of the backing dancers will be made up to look like Helen, so poor Helen gets saddled with a comedy VT where she plays four separate versions of herself, a bit like Kylie's 'Did It Again' video. One of them is obsessed with Aljaž, one is always asleep, and one just looks a bit surly (the other being Original Helen, obviously, who presumably is an amalgam of the others). Eventualy Aljaž tries to escape but is overwhelmed by Helens, and all of you Freudians out there can do what you wish with that mental image.

They're dancing to 'Anything Goes', and Helen looks very 1920s glamour, while Aljaž is wearing a white t-shirt and a paisley neckerchief that makes him look like he should like he should be playing the heroine's GBF in a romcom set in a fashion magazine. Interestingly, for all that Helen's stiffness has been criticised in the past, she adapts really well to the bendiness and flexibility of the charleston - she has a good natural swivel and seems really relaxed in the routine. The four Helens arrives while Aljaž inverts Original Helen around his neck into a slightly ungainly helicopter lift that she lands out of rather awkwardly. Helen's energy throughout is great, however, it's very Little Vicki Valentine, which I feel has always been her destiny to some extent. A few of the kicks toward the end of the routine are out of sync, as is the brief chorus line section, but then An Army Of Helens appears on the screen behind them and for the most part Helen does a good job of keeping in time with her pre-recorded self. This is all very bizarre to watch, and yet somehow still very Helen. The ending is a little underwhelming too: Aljaž lifts her onto his shoulders and then it finishes.

Tess confirms that she is indeed talking to the real Helen, and Helen thanks the professional dancers who worked so hard to be just like her. Craig thinks the routine lacked a bit of quirk and needed to be messed up a bit. He felt it was too controlled and placed, and Helen should have gone madder and wilder and uglier with it. I don't agree, and I'm also slightly surprised at this sort of charleston critique still existing in a post Sophie Ellis-Bextor world. Darcey goes against Craig and calls it a "classy charleston" - she loved the tap sequence and the mirroring. Len thinks it was full of vim and vigour, but there was a bit too much side-by-side, and he would've liked them to do more in hold or together. Bruno calls it "sassy and glitzy", saying it was like a show-stopping number on Broadway. He thinks Helen is a precise and clean dancer, but asks Helen if she went off on the wrong foot at one point, and she clarifies that no, it wasn't the wrong foot - she tripped on a step. Bless.

In Claudia's Corner, Helen says that she loved the dance and really enjoyed just trying to do something completely different for a change and focusing on the performance rather than the technique. Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 9, Len 8, Bruno 9 for a total of 34. Again: Len really thought that was worth the same as Peter's jive? Helen's relieved, she was expecting sixes. In Blackpool? Helen, you absolute darling, you would have needed all of those pre-recorded Helen's to fuck up the routine in entirely different ways to get sixes here. And even then you'd probably still get a seven from Bruno.

That leaves Kellie and Kevin to close the show with their quickstep. Kellie admits to having been a bit overwhelmed last week when they got that nine from Craig for their 90s hip hop samba, which I found strangely enjoyable despite the circumstances. As part of their training, Kevin takes Kellie to the Winter Gardens in Blackpool to watch the quickstep championships, and predictably the whole thing becomes a bit more about Kevin than Kellie as he starts reflecting on what a special place it is and how many championships he's won there. Kellie's just impressed at watching them all going around the dancefloor at the same time, and how smooth and effortless all the other couples made it look. Nobody mentions this, but it's also a really good primer for next week's quickstepathon. Good forward-planning, Mr Clifton.

They're dancing to '9 to 5' by Dolly Parton, doing a bit of feminist role reversal by having Kellie as the all-powerful boss running rings around the male secretaries and Kevin as her fawning personal assistant. I just assumed it would be the other way around, given Kevin's tendency to frame things in a rather twee, throwback sort of way, so this is a nice change - although the styling is still very 1950s, but one step at a time, right? This is another routine that's hampered slightly by what the backing dancers are doing - here they're wheeling tables around the room, which wasn't a good idea in Deborah Meaden's Viennese waltz and still isn't a good idea now. [I dunno, I kind of liked the bit where they were all doing side kicks at their desks - Rad] The traditionalist quickstep parts are good, the bit where the male backing dancers form a line behind Kevin with their hands on each other's shoulders so they can all dance as a sextuplet is quite impressive, and the bit near the end where it just becomes a collection of showboating moves is less good, but overall it's a fun routine and a solid end to a strong night of performances.

Tess: "Now that's what I can an office routine!" Is...that a thing? Like, the routine of an office? [Oh, if only someone had done a routine based on The Office - Rad] I guess that's a thing but it's not really the sort of phrase you can build a one-liner out of. Darcey says she made it look like an easy day at work, and it was a wonderful dance to finish a wonderful night. Len says she should file it under B for brilliant. Bruno calls it another outstanding performance, and Craig says it was tight and clean and he loved it. Anyone think we might be running slightly over time at this point?

Claudia congratulates Kellie and Kevin on closing Blackpool in style and asks them if they're ready t see their scores, in the sort of tone that suggests they're seeing them now whether they like it or not: Craig 9, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 10 for a total of 37. It's Kellie's highest score, and her first 10. Claudia tells her that everyone behind her was chanting "10! 10! 10!"

So, let's have a look at that Blackpool leaderboard:

1. Georgia & Giovanni - 38
2=. Anita & Gleb - 37
2=. Kellie & Kevin - 37
4. Jay & Aliona - 36
5. Katie & Anton - 35
6. Helen & Aljaž - 34
7. Jamelia & Tristan - 31
8. Peter & Janette - 29

Looking at it all in the context of the whole evening, I don't think I'd have put Georgia on top, or Kellie level with Anita. It feels right that it's all so close though, and for Peter to be right at the bottom - and who could have predicted that at the start of the competition?

That's it from Blackpool for the performances. Join us tomorrow for the results where, unless something truly shocking happens, Jamelia will be leaving the competition. But who will be joining her in the dance-off? (Also Take That will be performing, ugh.)