Top 11 perform / Halloween Week: 31 October 2015
Last week! Helen and Kellie took to the top of the leaderboard, whilst a previously triumphant Katie and Anton got a Latin routine - which Anton treated with all the respect he generally treats those - and were punished accordingly in the scores. Ainsley faced Jamelia in the dance off, and, in the latest in this series’ war on men, was evicted. That only three men remain in the competition is not being ignored by the producers, as we open with our first comedy skit of Halloween with Jay, Peter and Jeremy standing around a cold rain as the three witches in Macbeth, wishing disaster upon all their female opponents. In a Three Little Pigs style, they are each displaying a different tolerance to heat, with Peter being too cold and therefore wrapped up warm in a woolly jumper and hat, Jay being too warm and wearing a T-shirt, and Jeremy being just right in a stripy shirt. We then have a comedy VT of them haunting the female celebrities which features an increasing level of comedy reaction from the women as we go through. Even more alarming is Peter’s over the top laughing at what they’ve just done. Oh, Peter. Never change.
Cue credits! It’s interesting that Anita is pretty much the only one they make dance in them.
We open with our pro routine, which this week features Natalie and Brendan as a strange zombie bride and groom. Natalie looks like the unholy lovechild of Sharon Needles and Chad Michaels, whilst Brendan looks like… Brendan with slightly whiter make-up than usual. As genre-bending pro routines this series go, this one is kind of fun, fast-paced, with some of the pros faring better in the costume department than others. Given Kristina isn’t even performing tonight, I’m not sure what she did to deserve the hideous 1980s pink getup they stuck her in. How Halloweeny. Part-way through, the celebrities arrive, in full costume for the evening, except for Kellie, who is dressed in a random white chacha style dress for reasons unknown other than that perhaps her costume wasn’t deemed to be scary enough. The wedding then turns into Pasha and Aliona having a little bit of a fling, before they then going dance with entirely different people, the floozies. [And here I was thinking this was wholesome family entertainment! - Steve] Indeed, the celebrities and pros are all mixed up in the rest of the dance in a basic free for all partner swapping frenzy. Hey, if they’ve got rid of fusion and around the world week (let’s hope), maybe the next gimmick they could try is partner swap week. Note: I am not necessarily in favour of partner swap week, unless it means that the pros I like get put with the good celebrities (justice for Natalie obviously).
A flash of lights welcomes Tess and Claudia into the studio: Tess is dressed as a witch in a sparkly black dress and hat and broomstick, with some slightly weird feathering around the eyes that I’m not sure is especially witchy. Claudia is her Halloween cat, in a black dress with a tail, ears and whiskers-surprisingly understated for our Claud. The judges then arrive as the Addams family, Craig as Lurch, Darcey as Morticia and Len as, I guess, Gomez without any moustache. Bruno, meanwhile, has come as one of the sailors from a Jean-Paul Gaultier advert.
The celebrities and pros then arise and we get our first glimpse at the horrors of Halloween costuming. Pasha and Carol in particular, fare badly, and Jay looks utterly bizarre as some cat-cum-tree hybrid? I don’t even know. Most of them still appear to be jigging to the theme tune, which is pretty good this far in, last year’s celebrities gave up pretty much at the start.
Tess and Claudia drop in the odd Halloween pun, which I will not recap unless they are actually funny or so groan worthy I can’t not.
The first couple of the evening are Katie and Anton and their remembrance of last week focuses on how their salsa wasn’t meant to be as bad as it ended up. Yes, guys, I’m sure Anton choreographed a really good salsa and just went wrong on the night. The comedy VT sees Katie haunted by the ghosts of Anton’s Strictly past: Nancy, Ann and Judy. Funnily enough, Laila Rouass doesn’t appear, nor does Fiona, on the spirits, clamouring for another go and yelling how awful everybody is. The ghosts remind Katie of how Halloween week was Nancy’s nemesis, yet gave us one of the greatest Halloween week routines OF ALL TIME. This, in and of itself, would have been a perfectly fine comedy VT, but then it gets so weird that I’m not even sure what I just watched: Ann tells Katie to remember that Anton likes Victoria sponge, and it ends with Anton appearing with said sponge cake. Now maybe this is some obscure reference to something he once said in a VT or on It Takes Two, but if it is, my memory really hasn’t retained it all these years on, so it just comes across as an incredibly random and surreal moment which: I suppose it is Halloween week. [I follow some of the biggest Strictly fans you're likely to find on Twitter, and not one of them understood what on earth was going on there, so if it is a reference, it's a VERY obscure one. - Steve]
They are opening their pasta dough blade (paso doble – although…) to Phantom of the Opera with them both in a gondola, because starting a Halloween dance in a prop on the floor has worked so well for Anton in the past. The voice-over man calls him Dreadful Du Beke, which is a bit mean, he can at least do ballroom. Katie is dressed as Sarah Brightman in a white dress (with a really random bustier/fringing arrangement that makes the top look a bit like something Dolly Parton would wear) with a black wig and Gothic make-up, whilst Anton takes the Michael Crawford role in a mask and standard ballroom dancing gear. Although there are parts of this which aren’t too bad, and she moves across the floor okay, there’s a lot of this that is incredibly awkward and stilted, and she holds her hands at really weird angles. I’m not sure whether this is meant to be a spooky nod to Halloween, but it just looks like she’s broken something. When they get on hold, they look quite uncomfortable together and then there’s a bit where her skirt seems to get stuck in Anton’s hand, and it really has no Paso shape to it whatsoever. It ends in an incredibly uncomfortable pose that they struggle to get into and then looks really awkward and ugly. Hooray for Anton Latin!
Tess introduces the singers and the demonic Dave Arch, who was holding a little finger to his mouth, Dr Evil style, whilst wearing a cape. So many mixed references. Such a man of mystery, Dave Arch. Over to the judges now, and Len says there’s a problem in that Katie is like an English rose, whilst paso doble is like a cactus: sharp and fierce. He says at one point he thought she was going to use her wrong foot, but she didn’t and yet it wasn’t great. I like how he didn’t really elucidate any reason why it was so bad. Helpful head judge. Bruno says her feet were insecure at times and that it was nowhere near precise or clean enough for a paso and Katie looks as if she’s about to cut him a bitch. Craig says she was stiff and awkward with balance issues throughout and she did the power through the floor a lot more and says that in one of the spin she came off the floor, so he is going to count that as a lift and overall it wasn’t great. I sense a theme. Darcey says she looks the part and here we get a glimpse of Katie looking down with ridiculously long false eyelashes on. Darcey says her eyes are beautiful but they need to have intent in them and to stare us out and we cut to the camera showing Katie staring daggers at Darcey as she says this. Perfect timing. She thinks, however, this is an improvement on Katie’s previous Latin.
They trudge up to the Clauditorium, being accosted by a random member of the crew/audience dressed in grey Halloween garb on the way. Anton snarks that the audience stood and cheered and they’re the people he listens to, because having failed to take Brucie’s job, he’s clearly after succeeding Len. His mask also starts to fall off his face as it’s too big for him. Katie says she loved dancing it anyway. Scores: four, six, six, five, for a total of 21. So: exactly the same score as they got last week, and Darcy gave them exactly the same mark, despite an alleged improvement. Not that I’m saying their critique is pointless or anything… Anton then says yes, it was rubbish, but they’ve got ballroom next week, not stupid Latin, how do they still make him do Latin after all these years, grumble grumble. Then he grins. Fuck off Anton. Oh, look! He IS the new Len.
Claudia then brings on a mediaeval knight to introduce the terms and conditions. I have no idea what is going on this evening, and we’ve only had one dance.
The second couple of the evening are Brendan and Kirsty. Good God, they’re putting all the dross out first. We get our first glimpse of their costumes. If the doggy bunches hadn’t been bad enough Kirsty, her hair is in bunches again, this time crimped, with a massive spider plonked on top of them. Her make-up looks a little bit like the Batman logo, with a red bit in the middle, and an over lined and glossed lip (although I think, in retrospect, this might have been to hide a blood capsule or something similar), whilst Brendan is still in the white make-up of earlier, but with blood seeping out of his mouth, probably from biting his lip so hard not to comment on Jamelia and Tristan’s routine when he saw it in rehearsal. Tess tells us the story of the dance, which is that Kirsty is going to turn into a vampire after Brendan fights her, I missed that on first watch, and I’m glad Tess has told me, because I had absolutely no idea that was what the dance was meant to be when I saw it. [Yeah, I wouldn't have got that by myself either. - Steve]
Their VT tells us how last week was Kirsty’s breakthrough week, getting an eight and a few sevens. Will that continue? LOL, they’re doing a vampire themed Charleston, what do you think? Their comedy VT centres on Kirsty pretending to be a vampire, which seems to be contrary both to the dance as Tess outlined it, and Tess’s warmup to the dance, that suggested Brendan had been acting weirdly all week. Oh, I love how consistent comedy VT is on the show. Then Kirsty turns into a bat and the bat would probably dance better, hoho.
They are dancing their Charleston to a very weird arrangement of ‘Bad Romance’, which has Kirsty playing somebody terrified and dancing with her hands up at her face for an eternity while Brendan dicks around flying on a wire, like the five year old he still is. Eventually, he comes down and joins her, and they start jogging on the spot out of time with each other. They do engage in a couple of interesting somersaults, then there’s a bit where whatever they were meant to do goes wrong and she looks like she’s going to strangle him, then they dance together a bit - badly and out of sync with one another, then he chucks over his head and pushes her through his legs which is as glamorous to see as it sounds. Then they lacklustrely jig a little bit together, then there’s some head rolls out of sync with one another and the music is bad, the costuming is bad, the dancing is bad, there is really nothing to redeem this, except possibly Kirsty managing to do a cartwheel, props to her for that. Then Brendan chucks her back as if he is going to break her neck and bites her. However, blood had appeared from her mouth very early on in the dance, so if this was meant to symbolise making her a vampire, I don’t really know why her mouth was bleeding early on, unless Kirsty really did cut herself on something. Two dances, folks, and two clunkers. Hooray for Halloween!
You can tell this is going to be bad, because as we cut to the judges, both Darcey and Bruno have a hand to their head, as is trying to stop themselves sighing. Bruno said they made mincemeat out of it, and we can see from both Kirsty and Brendan’s faces that they know it went wrong. Bruno says the obvious to her, and she starts crying because she clearly knows that too. Bruno says as well as the mistakes, the timing could have been sharper, as could her footwork, and she looks like she’s about to really break down, bless her. Brendan says that she did pick herself up when they made mistakes and she’s improving and uses his standard ‘this girl’ speech to defend her. Craig says mistakes even happen to professionals and you have to pick yourself up, but the dance was also very flat-footed and she didn’t really have a sense of the rhythm of it. He says their kicks were out of time and he didn’t understand one of the things that happened, and Brendan describes the manoeuver that they should have done. Darcey says it’s still impressive how she throws herself into things and though there could have been more dance content, she did enjoy the cartwheel at the end and doesn't want her to be too hard on herself. Len says she coped well with the mistakes and that she is like snakes and ladders last week going up, this week going back down. Well, that would any the case if her whole journey had been like that, rather than a series of pretty mediocre dances, one okay one and then back down to another mediocre one.
In the Clauditorium, Kirsty says they did it well in rehearsals, but she loves the Charleston even though it’s a more difficult dance than she realised. Claudia says this is the moment to thank Lisa and Vicky (she doesn’t say which of the hair’n’make-up Lisas he is thanking) and Brendan does his annual ‘the hair, make-up, wardrobe and crew are all brilliant’ speech. Scores: three, five, five, four for a total of 17. Throughout, Kirsty is reacting with ‘oh no’, and ‘that’s so bad’. Aww, I kind of feel sorry for her, despite the fact that it was a ropey performance. [I agree. I know she's not the best dancer, but this concept/choreography was terrible and I don't think anybody could have made it work even if they weren't already starting from a disadvantage like she was. - Steve]
Claudia previews Gleb and Anita’s dance by saying he’s playing a King and Anita a fairy and it’s like Game of Thrones, but for kids. Since when were there fairies in Game of Thrones? And why am I being pedantic about a) a Claudia joke on b) Halloween week?
The next couple of the evening are Jeremy and Karen and Tess opens by reminding us that Bruno tells Jeremy last week that he was dancing like a zombie-and that’s exactly what he’s doing tonight. Their comedy VT follows pretty much the same logic as several tonight, in particular Kirsty and Brendan’s: he is becoming a zombie as they rehearse. Ho Ho how hilarious. However, there is a twist! He is revived by Karen’s tea… But he’s still somehow something or rather spooky, with laser eyes. God knows who’s writing these VT scripts this week.
They are dancing a salsa to Thriller, and remember when Brendan and Michelle pretty much abandoned all sense of doing their jive and just did Time Warp and how that was brilliant and kind of made her look like she’d done a dance that was vaguely good? Well, more on that particular one later, but this has a similar sense to it: they don’t really do that much salsa dancing, but they do recreate lots of bits from the video. For some reason, the spider that was on Kirsty’s head has also made its way to Jeremy’s shoulder-that, or they had to buy several in bulk and they’re just using them on as many people as possible. There is something really weird going on with the microphone, or the singer, though, as his voice keeps cutting out and being really hard to hear. I know, I know, who would complain about not being able to hear the singers? There’s also something rather strange about this dance in that they are not dancing that much to the chorus itself, but more to the verses and the spoken word bit. Kind of random, but it works, and we end up with Jeremy holding Karen in an upside-down lift that is actually pretty good. I don’t really know what that was, but I did quite like it.
Tess reminds us that over the last few weeks Craig has given Jeremy a three and wonders if he was more impressed this week. Craig says the problems start when he begins to dance and there was no real rotation in the hip, nor continuous flow, but as he was dressed as a zombie, that actually worked very well and he liked all the Thriller stuff. Darcey praises him on having spectacular characterisation and for being quite nimble. She says his timing is improved and they were in sync and his knees went great, but she was distracted by the whole body and she thinks he made a good improvement. Looking at Jeremy, his make-up resembles the Robbie Williams get up from ‘Let Me Entertain You’, albeit watered-down, more than it does Michael Jackson. Len uses one of his pre-scripted jokes by saying tonight is about the supernatural and it wasn’t very super or very natural. Whatever, Len. Bruno says it really tickled him and he’s got the serial killer thriller moves, whatever they are. He says he really enjoyed it, and whilst it wasn’t a piece of dance excellence necessarily, it’s certainly the best we’ve had so far tonight, and the one that’s come closest to being a strictly Halloween classic (not that there are that many of those, and I consider Michelle Williams’ timewarp/jive and Nancy Dell’Olio’s coffin dance/rumba to be part of those, so you and I may differ on how to define classic).
In the Clauditorium, Jeremy says he really loved it and he’s enjoying taking on the judges’ feedback and trying to improve. Scores: four-at which Jeremy, Karen, and the whole audience go completely mental, six at which they also go mental, but slightly less so, six, six for a total of 22 and the highest score of the evening so far. Jeremy lifts Karen to her and she punches the air shouting boom. The crazy, she has caught it. I have to say, I like crazy Karen a lot more than some of her other iterations. Claudia says she’s had couples get 40 react with less excitement than they did at getting a four. Claudia informs them that they are currently top of the leaderboard, and Karen finds this hysterical.
Anita and Claire are next, and they are already in character, as Anita scowls in her Maleficent getup, and Gleb kisses her hand. There VT also opens with Anita ripping the piss out of Len’s comments, which I always enjoy. The rest of it centres around the fact that they will be dancing to Once Upon A Dream, which is meant to be sensual and sultry and Anita ‘worries’ about how to make it Halloweeny. Gleb says she’s going to learn how to fly, so the rest of the VT shows her rehearsing and trying out the flying harness. There is no comedy to be found here, people, not unless you like watching TV presenter is looking a little bit nervous of heights. Anita says she’s excited because when in your life you get to both fly and waltz?
We open with Anita descending from on high with two massive black wings, and as she descends the wings disappear. It’s not quite as dramatic as it had been made out in the VT. What is dramatic, however, is their waltz. It’s all moodily lit with green, to match the Lana Del Ray arrangement of ‘Once Upon a Dream’ that they are dancing to. Gleb has been put in a princely outfit with a long wig that looks a bit too greasy and lacklustre for me, but your mileage may vary. [It worked for me, but I can't imagine that's a surprise to anyone. - Steve] Anita looks pretty fantastic as Maleficent, though, all horns and swirly black frock. The story is one of the clearest of the night (not that difficult given some of the weirdness on offer), as Maleficent bewitches the handsome Prince to make him fall in love with her and dance around the ballroom with her. The whole thing is so overblown and emo that it’s kind of hard not to think Aliona choreographed this-at least until Gleb starts doing contemporary dance moves and we know that it’s him after all, and then Anita kills him and she wins. The end. I really liked that, although it’s probably nowhere near the kind of traditional (read: boring) waltz that Len would no doubt like.
Darcy says it was one of the most dramatic waltzes she’s ever seen and she loves how Anita is always passionate and gives her all. However, when Anita is playing a powerful character, she needs to watch that she doesn’t make her body movements spiky, although she could see there were a couple of movements were the horns got caught and it became a little bit jerky. Len says he didn’t really know what was going on, because he’s an idiot. He then whines because the audience laugh at this and blabs on as he does from time to time about ‘if you prick me I bleed’. Honestly, Len, simply because you can’t understand straightforward storytelling that a two year old could grasp. However, he thought the dancing was brilliant and beautiful. Bruno calls her magnificent Maleficent, but there were times when the flow didn’t quite work and both of them blame the horns for getting stuck. Oh, comedy props and costumes that the stars don’t get to rehearse much with, how we love you. Craig says it lacked grace and flow but he liked the storytelling - although it needed to be more lyrical - and he loved the contemporary ending. They also get accosted by random man, who seems to be dressed as some kind of vampire Mr Tumnus. I have no idea.
In the Clauditorium, Claudia says everyone up there thought it was really beautiful. Scores: six, eight, eights, seven for a total of 29. Six? Whatever, Craig.
Claudia teases us with Jay and Aliona coming up later and says that ‘Jay is a hairy beast, and on top of that we’ve dressed him as a wolf’. Hohoho.
Jamelia and Tristan now, and Jamelia’s VT is pretty sad-it’s all about how people at home don’t actually vote for her and she keeps ending up in the dance off. Spoiler alert: clearly not the tactic to increase your public vote. Instead of training, they have time to film a comedy VT of them miming horror scenes, mainly involving spiders and lots of green screen.
They are introduced as dancing the ‘jizzed jive’, I kid you not (okay, it might have been ‘juiced’, but as if that would have made any more sense). Sadly, they have decided to plunder the memory of Michelle Williams and do Time Warp. If you thought that memory was desecrated enough when this happened, you should look away now. For some reason, Tristan appears to have come dressed as Beetlejuice and Jamelia as random Halloween make-up girl 101 (I mean, I guess the hair is vaguely a Magenta tribute, but…). Their dance is set in a haunted house (haunted by a picture of Len) and is a jive very much in the spirit of Michelle and Brendan’s Time Warp, only lacking the charm or surprise value. Jamelia, to her credit, looks pretty embarrassed the whole time. It’s very stompy, uneven, floppy and it looks pretty under-rehearsed. They go out of time with each other at places and overall, she seems pretty uncommitted to it, as if she’s just waiting for it all to be over. Then they fart about for ages trying to get into a bent-over ending pose. Tonight has not exactly been a night for classic dances so far, has it?
Len calls it a bit rocky but not necessarily a horror and says it was clearly under-rehearsed. So I am making the same points as Len. Kill me now. Bruno said she had energy and fun and her timing wasn’t too bad (really?), but her flicks and kicks were really poor and she needs to work on her footwork. Craig calls it flat-footed and says he would have liked some or side to side but he thought it had fantastic energy and great storytelling. Darcy says she thinks is enough to save them from the dance of and she could tell that Jamelia tired during the dance as well as needing to work on her footwork, but she enjoyed it.
As they head up to the Clauditorium, Tess thanks ‘Jamelia!… And Tristan’. Haha! They are both accosted by random vampire Tumnus guy on their way up, who was clearly overbuilding his part. Scores: six, six, seven, seven for a total of 26. Craig and Bruno gave that and Anita and Gleb the same score? Okay then…
We then get a preview of what’s coming up, because this show still hasn’t learned that the last thing it needs is a load of pointless filler, although it does give me time to get my recap up to date without pausing, so I’ll give it that.
Tess says she’s really looking forward to Kellie and Kevin dancing to Alice Cooper, which is the cue for Claudia coming on in an Alice Cooper mask, Tess congratulating her on having a great Alice Cooper mask and the joke being ‘what Alice Cooper mask’? That Tess manages to keep her over the top baffled expression once Claudia leaves is what makes it work. [Whether that was deliberate on Tess's part or just her reverting to default is another matter entirely... - Steve]
Jay says that last week he enjoyed his Paso and thought he looked strong doing it. Aww, diddums. Saying that you thought you look strong kind of makes you look the opposite. For their comedy VT, Aliona reads him a fairy story from her book of tales which basically reads as she’s an amazing princess who had been locked up in a tower and forced to dance with horrible dirty old men who were always out first, until one day a young man came along and saved her and she forced him to become Harry Judd reincarnated and he gained her the glitter ball again and she proved all her haters wrong. The end. Or something along those lines. For those watching Jay’s hair, it appears to have all decided to grow at the front of his head, so now it looks like he’s growing a hairy octopus as a fringe.
They are dancing an American Smooth to something called ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, which is apparently by Sam Sham and the Pharaohs, but is also a completely filthy piece of pervery that I can’t believe was allowed on before the watershed in these post-Operation Yewtree days, because it makes the seedy undertones of the fairy story incredibly explicit, and I’m not entirely sure this dance does anything to dispel that. The song choice made it hard for me to actually watch the dance, which sees Jay wearing a crazy amount of make-up and facial fair that make him look, if not exactly wolflike, very strange whilst Aliona is dressed in red with flowers in her hair. The movement is lovely and it flows well, but it doesn’t quite have the bombast of most American Smooths. Still, what can you do when it’s Halloween, you’re dressed like a wolf and you’re dancing to that song? Aliona is clearly pleased as she gives a fist pump at the end.
Bruno says he loves the elegance of their lines and thinks everything is so well placed and the movement is wonderful. We get a close-up of Jay’s make up, and his fake fur is glittery. Of course it is. Craig says they move beautifully with great timing and control although he’d like to see a little bit more characterisation from Jay, although he got into it by the end. Darcy said it was smooth and stylish and she loved the turning left, she thought it was very controlled and impressive, but again the characterisation was lacking. Len says there was a part where his feet got in a pickle, but overall he thought it was lovely and very well done. Aliona looks pleased as punch as they bound up to see Claudia and the gang.
Claudia asks Jay how there could be more wilfulness and he says he was probably over-relying on the costume and make-up rather than putting his own performance on it, which seems quite a fair and reasoned response to me. Scores: eight, nine, eight, nine for a total of 34. Jay seems happy with that and Aliona less so, but she remembers that she supposed to appear graceful and blows a kiss to the viewers at home, before revealing that Jay’s black make-up has stained her arm.
Kellie and Kevin now, and they are dressed up as schoolkids in Hogwart’s uniform, and Kevin has an S on his forehead. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out why this was, was he meant to be in Slytherin house? It couldn’t stand for Clifton… They were several moments into the dance before I went ‘Oh, S for Strictly’. I know. Their VT is all kinds of spoilery and shows Linda and Mick Carter getting married with Alfie Moon in attendance (and Kevin, in full Wizard in gear, for reasons that are best known to Kevin). Kevin and Danny Dyer then have a mock macho off over Kellie and Danny Dyer wishes her good luck and pretends to play the piano.
They are dancing the Paso to Hedwig’s theme from Harry Potter, which, partway through turns into ‘School’s Out’ by Alice Cooper. It opens with an intricate wand waving dance which is not at all Paso-like, but is quite lovely, then their wands display flashes of lights and ‘School’s Out’ kicks in and the Paso proper begins. Now Kevin has a problem here because his last two Pasos were the standouts of their series and indeed some of the standouts of the genre in Strictly of all time, so being lumbered with one for Halloween was never going to go all that well for him, as he wouldn’t be able to do it as traditionally as he normally does. That’s not to say this is a particularly terrible routine, but both he and Kellie are hampered by the Halloween nature of the piece, particularly by an enormous dining table that straddles half the dance floor upon which they do some of the dancing, but which just serves to slow down the action. There are also too many Wizardy poses to fit the theme that do detract from the dance itself. What we do see of the correct dance is pretty good, the capes work well for, well, caping, and they’re both clearly capable movers who work well with one another. It’s just a shame that the gimmicks got in the way of what could otherwise have been the standout routine of the night, but instead, fall short of Kevin’s previous form in this dance.
Craig says he was concerned about the concept but he thought it did actually work although it was a bit like a drunken romp through Seville with all the dancing on the tables. He says he would have liked to have seen more of the Spanish lines at which Kellie gives him an ‘it’s fucking Halloween, you think I wanted to look like this’ death stare. Darcy says exactly what Craig says about the Spanish lines and that they needed to work better on hold, but on their own they were fabulous and Kevin says ‘yes, it’s all me that the problem’. Len says she was like a Nimbus 2000 going all over the place but the table restricted what they could do, whilst the floor work was good. Bruno calls it havoc at Hogwarts and likens them to two banshees, but because of the energy they lost some of the lines and not to be discouraged-at which point, the audience boo. Sadistic weirdos.
Kevin does and expelling armours on the random vampire Tumnus guy as they make their way up to Claudia. Claudia reminds us that Kellie has been getting up really early and Kellie spoilers it that she got married on EastEnders this week. She says she likes doing her job and Strictly, but she misses her family and nearly cries, then says hello to her son. She needs to start bringing him into training to when those baby points that everybody else will be gunning for soon. Scores: seven, seven, seven, seven for a total of 28. The judges are scoring quite low tonight, aren’t they? Well, except for whatever that was that Jamelia and Tristan did, which only scored two lower than this, despite being a complete shambles.
Claudia makes a joke about Peter worrying his shoulders might be hunched so he needs to use a spirit level. That was almost funny. Mainly because I can totally imagine Peter using a spirit level to even out his posture.
The next couple of the evening are Carol and Pasha and having seen what they both look like already this evening, I am not sure this is going to go well. Fortunately, we do learn that last week Carol got to meet her idol, Bryan Adams, so as far as she’s concerned, it’s probably all she needs to do in life, never mind in Strictly. I’m pleased for her anyway.
Now, as we all know, Pasha is a God at the comedy VT game, and this week he continues this form pretty well, playing both Pasha and Pashastein, a version of him that resembles Frankenstein’s monster. The whole VT centres on Pashastein wooing Carol with his bobbling eyes and grinning teeth and the other Pasha being incredibly jealous. My favourite bits are when both Pashas are shot together and he’s giving himself evils. So adorable.
Do you remember when Anton was dancing with Fiona Fullerton couple of years ago and he did that dreadful party rumba that we hoped we would never hear the likes of ever again? Well, I’m sorry to report, but party rumba is not yet dead. It is living in the spirit of Pashastein being shocked awake from a slab by Carol dressed as the bride of Frankenstein… And this is about as good as it gets. I don’t know what it is with Pasha, but they seem to like making him wear green make up, and tonight is no exception. He does look the part of Frankenstein’s monster, and Carol the part of the bride. Her wig is exactly right-perhaps even a little understated, whilst he has an impressive make up gash on the side of his face. Look, I’m trying to think of anything to talk about that isn’t the dancing. They are performing to ‘I Think I Love You’, which doesn’t strike me as the most Halloween of songs, but the first verse seems suitably spooky, which is presumably why they chose it. Pasha has gone full on comedy with the choreography for this routine, gurning and pleading for Carol’s love, as they both stomp and strut around the dancefloor laughing their heads off. As a piece of Pasha comedy acting, it’s one of his more memorable. As a rumba, it’s a good salsa, in that only a couple of hip wiggles mark it out as a Latin routine in any way whatsoever, and it yet again proves that rumbas cannot, and should not, be partified.
We go to Darcey first and she says she’s going to talk as Morticia, because God forbid Darcey utter a critical comment. She says the dance should be fluid and it wasn’t, and it isn’t Carol’s dance. Len says he likes how Carol has kept a sunny disposition throughout the competition, at which the audience clapped wildly. He asks Pasha if he’d told Carol not to do heel leads in this dance and Pasha says no, it was his fault. [Which strikes me as an unfair position to put the pro in - you have the choice of either looking incompetent or throwing your partner under the bus. - Steve] Bruno says her rumba is grounds for divorce and seeing as I criticised Anton for his choreography earlier, I feel I ought to do the same for Pasha here, he clearly knew this wasn’t going to be a decent number, so didn’t really bother and just went and pushed the comedy as far as he could go. Craig didn’t like it either, as you might expect.
Claudia congratulates Carol for smiling through all the comments and notes that unlike every other human being on the planet, she liked doing the rumba. Carol says it was good fun, and says she loves everything that Pasha does. I can think of a few people who are with her in that opinion. Claudia asks if Pasha will take advice from what Len said and tell her how to eat properly. Pashastein says she put him together very quickly and she didn’t do a good job! Scores: two, four, four, three for a total of 13. Ouch. Claudia says it isn’t 40, but it might be a more interesting than 40. Carol offers that if you turned it around you’d get 31, which would be better. Fun facts! This is the joint lowest scoring rumba ever, with Fiona and Brendan’s series two. Nancy and Anton and Ann and Anton are both a place above, which now means Carol has taken Nancy’s crown as having the lowest scoring Halloween dance of all time. And Anton and Fiona’s party rumba? 22, somewhat shockingly.
So remember how earlier in the updates, we talked about Time Warp being a little bit overused, and to diminishing returns each time? Well let’s see if the same holds true for Ghostbusters. First premiered in a somewhat surreal pro-dance, then one of Sid and Ola’s ‘many’ memorable routines, now it’s for Georgia and Giovanni. Their VT centres around her dancing with a mysterious hooded figure who is sometimes lacking in feet and sometimes in feet with trainers, so committed are the special effects people to editing footage of VTs to be narratively consistent. Then: shock horror, the spooky dancer isn’t Giovanni at all. Georgia’s training top says George on it, which suggest that might be how she prefers to be addressed, despite how the show refers to her.
They are dancing the ‘thrilling’ tango, which is not exactly alliterative as a description. They come on with ghostbuster guns, but lose these fairly early on. And, good God, what have wardrobe, hair and make-up got against Georgia? She’s in a really hideously ugly brown dress, which I guess you could forgive as looking like a ghostbuster uniform, but then her hair is the nothing braids that look really awful on her, and sprayed in green and silver, a colour theme that translates to her make up. Seeing as she’s meant to be playing a ghostbuster, rather than the spirit, this just seems like they’ve done it out of pure malevolence, rather than any commitment to artistry and character. [Giovanni as a ghostbuster though? Totally hot, and I say that as someone who doesn't normally find him attractive. - Steve] The styling does somewhat detract from the dance itself, which is a shame, as it’s quite competent and there’s many spins in its, presumably reliving their Viennese waltz glory. Then they shoot us all with party streamers out of their guns and Georgia looks pleased with herself. I’m not sure that it was the most true to the genre tango I’ve ever seen, but given the slim pickings on offer tonight, it was pretty enjoyable and accomplished in its own right. The least ghostbustery of its ilk, but probably the best as an actual dance.
Len dubs her the Queen of Halloween at which I can just feel Peter Andre bristling in the wings. Bruno says there was plenty of content and the footwork was great, and that she did really well with the spins at keeping up her momentum and gusto. Craig calls it sharp, staccato, feisty and incandescent because he’s been taking lessons in alliteration from the scriptwriters. Darcy says it was sharp, exact and had beautiful footwork.
Tess tells them to go up and see something strange in Claudia’s neighbourhood. [Phrasing. - Steve] When is there not something strange up there? Georgia is pretty overcome with emotion at all the positive comments they got and Claudia tells Giovanni that if Len says it’s full of content it means you’re probably a genius. Or he’s just having one of those weeks. Scores: 8, 9, 9, 9 to a total of 35, which Georgia is ecstatic about. Claudia said it’s their highest score and they are top of the leaderboard.
It’s at this point in the evening where I always think we must be coming up to the last couple and then I see someone in the background that I’d entirely forgotten about-tonight, Helen and Aljaž.
Before we get to them, however, we have to go through Peter and Janette. I am not sure exactly what they’re meant to be dressed as-she’s in a red dress with mock leaves in her hair, he is in white and looking kind of ghostly, so I’m guessing he’s a ghost? Their VT confirms that indeed, their dance is going to be around a ghost story, so she takes him to camp in the tiniest tent known to humankind in the woods, leaving him alone, Blair Witch style, while she heads off. Such is their commitment to this VT, that we even see Peter speaking into a night vision camera in fear, which is a greater use of special effects than Georgia and Giovanni had. He is worried that he thinks he hears a witch cackling, but it’s just Janette laughing at their Pirates of the Caribbean tribute. I think we all laughed at that one, Janette, but maybe not for the reasons you think.
They are dancing the foxtrot to ‘Ghost’ by Ella Henderson, and the dance is described as the fantastic foxtrot, which officially means the Strictly scriptwriters have absolutely no idea how to do these alliterations any more. [Well, if you assume "fantastic" means "of fantasy" rather than referring to the actual quality, it sort of works. - Steve] For those keeping track of the props spider, here it is adorning Peter’s white suit. Peter appears to be counting his way visibly through this dance, and the way he’s holding his arms looks really awkward and unrefined. As the dance progresses, there appears to be a little bit more performance and storytelling as the attempts to get into some sort of sinister characterisation, rather than the bland walking around he was doing early on. There’s also some contemporary dance breaks because Janette is not immune to those either. It ends quite nicely with Janette walking away in time with the lyrics. However, I’m not hundred percent convinced that you could call that a foxtrot in any meaningful sense of the word, at least not all the way through. Like a lot of his dances, it was okay, but forgettable.
Bruno says because he has a lot of potential, he’s going to be hard on him. He says the problem is that like a lot of performers, Peter goes into a safety zone and tries to perform everything the same way, doing a good impression of boy band arms as he says this, all mini punching. He says the foxtrot has a floating, gliding quality to it that you need to maintain, Peter hasn’t yet picked that style up and that he needs to remember to take on a new character for each dance. He says this because he thinks Peter can do it and he needs to stop doing the same thing every week. Craig says his shoulders were sometimes coming up and he would have liked the dance to have been a bit smoother, particularly around the edges and Peter says Craig is exactly right. In the audience, Peter’s wife gives a bitchface at somebody. Darcey says it’s great to see the dance floor come alive when he and Janette danced together and she can see him working really hard on his footwork but it is still the top line that is the problem and that’s where he’s coming out of the movement. Len says he enjoys little things, and he loved his footwork and how he moved from his heel, at which Janette punches the air as it’s presumably something she’s been picking up on. Len demonstrates how he can move his arms to make them look more appropriate for the dance by angling the elboow slightly differently and smoothing out his hand line and says he’s not been sure what score to give it because it’s close to being one thing, but he thinks it’s actually another. Peter says Strictly is for life not just for two or three months and he’s loving the experience. I think we’ve lost this one guys. Vampire Tumnus comes out and accosts them, and Peter pushes him to the floor.
Claudia tells them that foxtrot is famously difficult. Everything is fucking famously difficult this series. We also learn that it’s, remarkably, Janette’s first foxtrot on the show. Scores: seven, seven, seven, seven for a total of 28, which they seem pretty happy with.
And finally we are with Helen and Aljaž. He looks like a mummy that has had an accident with a tin of black shoe polish, she looks like Lady Gaga-turned-superhero. This could be weird. In their VT, Helen has turned up to training in a blue top and a pink leopard print fluffy jackets, then in another shot, she has grey side length socks, a grey vest and psychedelic hotpants. I’m going to have to watch Helen’s training videos for her random outfits a bit more often if this is the calibre of them. Sidebar: I miss Iveta. In the latest getting caught by the Halloween spirit VT, this one centres on Helen wanting them to practice being mummies by wrapping Aljaž up in bandages.
They are dancing the samba, dressed as mummies (more so in Elliott’s case, Helen looks like, well, Barbarella meets Lady Gaga with toilet roll coming out of her bum and the same va-va-voom electrified hair they gave Pixie last year. They are dancing to the Scissor Sisters’ ‘Take Your Mama’ (do you see what they did there?). It’s a fast routine, with the music much faster than the original song. The choreography is a mixture of traditional samba movements and kind of spooky jerky mummy movements. I’m not sure the two marry all that well together, but these two are good enough to just about cover up those problems, and it is quite a fun routine and generally pretty well danced. It seems incredibly short, but I don’t know if that was just because the music was really fast.
Craig says he really loved the opening where they married the stiltedness of the mummies with the samba rhythms and thought it was great choreography. He says that in the rest of the routine, Helen nearly got there with the double bounces, and needs to get down in her hips more, but overall it was a good performance. Darcy says she is really come out of her box and looks much more comfortable in the Latin then she has done before. Len says he wouldn’t be shocked if she was right up there because she’s delivered again and she looks to have a terrible moment. She says she had a bit of a trip. He calls her yummy mummy, which I guess we can let slide, given the costume. Hmmm. Bruno sings Mama Mia at them, because he’s about as committed to the purity of the concept of mummy as the song choice pickers were.
Vampire Tumnus accosts them and manages to get a scream out of Helen as they bound up to join everyone else, without looking too out of breath. Helen says she finds a double bounce quite difficult to do because she feels very English. Claudia asks Aljaž if he’s ever done anything this bonkers and brilliant and I point to thisevidence from last year. Scores: eight, nine, eight, nine for a total of 34. Helen seemed particularly shocked at the nine from Darcey - whether it was because it was nine, or whether it’s because it was from Darcey, I’m not sure.
Shall we have a leaderboard?
Georgia and Giovanni 35
Jay and Aliona 34
Helen and Aljaž 34
Anita and Gleb 29
Kellie and Kevin 28
Peter and Janette 28
Jamelia and Tristan 26
Jeremy and Karen 22
Katie and Anton 21
Kirsty and Brendan 17
Carol and Pasha 13
Tess reads from a clearly pre-scripted autocue about how there were some scarily good dances tonight, rather than most of the front-runners being a bit underwhelming as in reality, and she and Claudia warn us that James Morrison is performing tomorrow, just when you thought the horror was over. Join me then!