Week 8: Top 9 Perform - 14 November 2015
Last week! Peter and Janette charlestoned their way to the top, Jamelia somehow escaped the dance off, whilst our first shock button to appearance of the series went to Kellie and Kevin, who dutifully saw off Carol and Pasha. [I'd see off Pasha etc etc - Steve]
Tonight! It’s everybody’s favourite theme week, Week-Before-BLACKPOOL-Week! I guess I should be grateful-after all, having one week of hype is at least better than in Craig Kelly’s series, where every episode was about his journey to BLACKPOOL and it went on forever and we all hated him that bit more week by week. [Yeah, but this means you've also got Blackpool Hangover Week this year, tee hee. - Steve] Our opening VT is all about how much everyone wants to get to BLACKPOOL and Georgia is this year’s recipient of the ‘I’m a northerner, it is my destiny’ edit.
Cue credits! Aliona’s ‘check this out bitches, Imma be the first pro to win twice’ face is something to behold.
Tess and Claudia enter. Daly Dresswatch: a blue low-cut boob tube top thing with black trousers. What Winkleman’s wearing: a blue satin dress. The colour suits them both, although Tess’s top could have a more flattering cut to it. They remind us that next week is BLACKPOOL - assume this is mentioned in every link they do tonight, rather than me having to mention it again and again. [Slacker. - Steve] The judges enter, and Len is still seated following his op.
Our celebrities enter: Kellie and Kevin (dressed in some late-80s style neon getup); Anita and Gleb; Katie and Anton; Helen and Aljaž; Georgia and Giovanni (Georgia being this week’s recipient of the black bobbed wig); Jeremy and Karen; Jamelia and Tristan; Peter and Janette; Jay and Aliona. Again, a respectable amount of theme tune jigging from this bunch.
The first couple of the evening are Anita and Gleb. They are dancing the quickstep, which Gleb describes as like the jive, but a ballroom dance. In that… they are both fast? Their VT focuses on Gleb being a strict Russian and trying to get Anita to do difficult moves. Anita says she is desperate for Gleb to say ‘good job’. Compared to Artem and James, however, he really doesn’t seem that much of a brute.
The quickstep is to 'Don’t Get Me Wrong' and Anita is wearing long extensions that look quite pretty, but are very different for her, and don’t so much suit her slightly punky character. For some reason, they start on a bridge, which is some of the most random and pointless theming we’ve had for a while. This is quite a sweet and pacey dance, although there are a couple of points where it stalls as they try to pull off moves like Anita going through Gleb’s legs. I did notice one or two points where the footwork seemed a little clumsy, but overall, that was an enjoyable routine and the audience are screaming like crazy after it.
Tess welcomes the singers, Dave Arch and the orchestra and we go over to the judges. Len says she’s become a good all-rounder and the routine was fast and clean. He says the footwork could have been cleaner and sharper in places - at which the audience boo him and he gets in his usual strop about that. Bruno says BLACKPOOL is calling her name and it was very pleasing indeed, with a wonderful sense of the good old-fashioned ways. Somewhere, Anton is gnashing his teeth at this, given what happened last week. Craig says her feet tend to turn in a little bit and she needs to bring them together when they should be, and there was a small amount of gapping, however, he thought her timing was excellent and overall ‘well done’.
Darcey says she loves how consistent Anita is, selling it week after week. And being underscored week by week as well #justiceforanita. She says Anita needs to finish each step before moving onto the next one, but overall, it was wonderful.
The audience remain in good cheer as Anita and Gleb bound up to the Clauditorium. They thank each other and it’s all very lovely. Scores: eight, eight, eight, eight for a total of 32. Anita seems destined to be fairly consistent with eights this series, doesn’t she? [Yeah, I'm starting to think we'll never get the breakthrough I've been hoping for. They seem pretty determined to "nice try" her the whole way through. - Steve]
Claudia tells us about the phone number, with a very bizarre sequence in which The Archers theme tune plays, Kevin holds an oversized boombox and everybody makes ‘get down’ motions. Guys, I think we’ve lost them all. [Still, nice nod to Kellie's old job. - Steve]
Jay and Aliona are the second couple of the episode. Their VT has Aliona saying that she hopes this week the judges will understand the meaning of their dance. Could this be a cue for an acting coach? Aliona leads Jay into the courtyard to find… A bunch of students from the Royal Academy of Dance. [/Jay's old schoolfriends - Steve] This is not the performance breakthrough VT we were expecting, guys. However, lots of girls say that they love him and he’s going to get a 10 (spoilers: notsomuch).
They are dancing the foxtrot to ‘Lay Me Down’. Sam Smith seems to be doing quite well out of this series, doesn’t he? It opens more like a rumba than a foxtrot, and the rest of the dance seems to be a little bit of a fusion (sorry for anyone I have triggered by that word) of the two styles. Okay, it’s not quite as hip-py as rumba, but it does have that contemporary dance wafting that tends to accompany that dance, alongside some of the foxtrot moves. There is also a slight stutter towards the end. However, it is really lovely, romantic, flowing and emotional. I’m not sure that was one for the purity of dance lovers, but it did captivate the audience and gains a rapturous response.
Bruno says he is always so endearing and he liked the contemporary introduction. He says Jay has exquisitely lyrical arms, and it was going swimmingly well until a slight mistake. Craig says it was a little bland. He said it started emotionally, but as soon as Jay dances properly, his face goes dead and he needs to do something about that. He says his hands were angled at the end and then there was a trip. Darcey says they are going to be stricter because it’s near the end, so they are going to be slightly more fanatical. What, like stanning your favourites all the way to the final, Darcey? Like saving people because they have guns? Like standing up and shouting ‘10’ obnoxiously? Len says it was beautiful and poignant and his script says The Wanted had a song called ‘We Own the Night’ and up until they tripped, Jay owned the night. Turns out this week isn’t going to be one of Len’s purity of dance weeks then. I really thought he might have a strop about that one. [I think it was one of Len's "go with the pre-scripted line even if it no longer applies" weeks instead. - Steve]
In the Clauditorium, Jay says he finds it difficult to talk to Claudia, and he finds it hard to show emotion, but he needs to strain his face muscles more. In the background, Natalie, Karen and Katie pull faces that show their ovaries have been tingled. Scores: six, eight, eight, eight for a total of 30. Len drags out his eight for ages and then looks around the audience grumpily, as if daring them to disagree. Claudia says Helen is dancing with blue material later. Did they get a job lot of it this week or something?
Jamelia and Tristan are up next. The VT focuses on how Jamelia coped with tripping over the prop guitar last week, and she also takes Tristan to the teeny-tiny set of Loose Women, where he is promptly womanhandled by Coleen Nolan and Ruth Langsford and probably contemplates a sexual harassment lawsuit.
They are dancing the samba to ‘A Little Respect’, and the lighting is all neon pink and turquoise, with Tristan bizarrely coming out dressed as Austin Powers without the wig. This is pretty fast and energetic and fun, although Tristan is pulling one of those faces where I can’t tell if he’s enjoying it, or just completely taking the mickey out of it all. It starts okay, but then in the side-by-sides, Jamelia’s arms really don’t seem to know what they’re doing, and it looks quite laboured. Overall, it’s a bit like drunken bridesmaid at a wedding and that’s quite fun and all, but I doubt it’s one for lovers of all things technical. As it ends, Jamelia says, quite surprised, ‘that was all right’.
Bruno says he liked the energy, but they need to be careful, because it gets a bit wild with that much energy, and it meant she missed a few steps. He says the energy and the effort was good, but she needs to be more precise. Craig says her hands were particularly unattractive, expertly on the promenades, and she needs to sort out the ends of her lines. He says he thinks she was dancing with bent knees throughout, and she needs to get on the balls of her feet a lot more. There was some unnecessary grinding throughout. Darcey says her isolations in the upper body were phenomenal. I suppose in some interpretations of that word, yes. She says the relationship between them worked well, but she does need to place arms more carefully. Side note: Darcey’s hair and make up looks really nice tonight. Len says the gyrating was excellent, and Jamelia treats this with the slightly disgusted disdain it merits. Len says she needs to work on her legs, but the energy and enthusiasm were top-notch.
In the Clauditorium, Jamelia says she loves hearing anything positive and she just needs to apply the theory more. She says she does love the Latin and says she took her daughters to the seaside for the first time this year. I kind of feel that that’s possibly an abusive situation, to be honest. But then I am from Grimsby which is near the seaside - but not at the seaside, despite what VTs on this show would have you think. [Also, Jamelia's from the Midlands. The seaside's a long way for her. - Steve] Scores: five, seven, seven, seven for a total of 26.
Helen and Aljaž are couple number four and Tess says that their rumba last week divided the judges. This week they’re dancing the tango, and we are treated to Aljaž shimmying his hips a lot in the VT and Helen practising her tango face, which looks a little bit like a petulant toddler and a little bit like she’s about to burst into laughter at any second. Helen says everyone wants to go to BLACKPOOL and there’s no room to get a single step wrong. Yes, because Ann Widdecombe and Russell Grant managed to make it to BLACKPOOL for that very reason.
Their tango is to 'Hold Back The River' and opens with a lot of blue cloth wafting and some contemporary dance movements, before they get into hold and dance properly. Her staccato doesn’t feel especially sharp at the start, and it looks like Aljaž has to move her into place at first. However, once it gets going, the angles do become more pronounced, in some cases too pronounced to the extent they feel really forced. There are some nice spins in it, although her tango face is kind of ridiculous, like when you face paint a kid as a tiger and they do a pretend scary growl.
Tess compliments Helen’s dress, a red beaded affair, which, coupled with her hairstyle, red roses and deep wine lips gives the impression of a Marlene Dietrich type. Darcey congratulates Aljaž on the choreography and the drama. She says Helen’s face didn’t lose it and she enjoyed the sharpness of the transitions. Darcey says she can see that Helen finds it difficult to keep down and keep her knees bent, but she really did it. Helen looks like she might die of the praise. Tess asks Len if it had more content than last week and then said yes, it had lots of content. He said her head sometimes went too far because he could see Aljaž correcting her and then her overcompensating. Bruno calls it a high-fashion tango and says she looked like a supermodel. Craig says it did need to be a little softer in the knees and she needs to think about where she is placing her centre, because sometimes she places it on a diagonal, which centre in the wrong direction, but he concedes that they work really well as a pairing and it worked really well with the track and he found the lines extremely powerful.
Aljaž looks very pleased when they arrive in the Clauditorium and Helen is incredibly breathless from all the praise. Scores: eight, nine, eight, nine for a total of 34. Claudia says to vote for them if you want to vote for the best meeting on a riverbank since Ratty met Badger. That dance was set on a riverbank? I must have missed that. I guess that’s what the blue cloth represented? [They were dancing to 'Hold Back The River'! - Steve]
Midway through, hurrah, and it’s time for Anton and Katie. We are reminded that last week their dance went a bit wrong, although the focus is more on the aspects of it that went right, interestingly. Their VT focuses on how Katie loves her husband more than Anton and takes him out for coffee. Katie’s husband tells her not to play the mistakes around in her head and to enjoy every second. I guess Anton was too busy teaching everybody else how to dance than to turn up for VTs this week. John then turns up to training, and the dance looks a little bit lazy from the footage we see. Then Anton dances with John, and Anton looks a little bit nervous lest there be gay panic.
There are dancing the rumba to 'Never Never Never (Grande Grande Grande)'. We open with Katie looking like an even more raunchy Holly Golightly - what is it with them dressing her in that style this series? Anton is wearing a really weird necktie thing that looks like it’s going to strangle him. It’s one of those overblown, dramatic, musical theatre numbers, rather than a sensual one, and it’s a bit all over the place, technique-wise, although watchable with it. There are parts where they work really well together though and it looks like this is the ‘back on form’ storyline. However, there are other moments that are incredibly clumsy and feel forced. She doesn’t look entirely comfortable in the costume, which I can’t blame her for, given that the dress split comes all the way up her thigh. Overall, they just about pull it off and the audience scream and whistle a lot at the end. Katie’s husband gives it two thumbs up.
Tess says Katie’s never looked more beautiful and Katie says ‘bless you Tess’, although I’m not sure whether this is sarcastic or not. Len says it was fantastic, and Katie and Anton lose their shit slightly. Bruno says she looks supremely elegant and there was a real Shirley Bassey moment in it. He says she gives him palpitations because she’s always had to miss, but tonight it was a hit. Craig says it was a bit melodramatic - just a tad! He says he prepared that to nothing no and although it was a little bit pushed forward and the rumba walks weren’t quite there, but it was nearly brilliant. Katie and Anton look like they understand every criticism he is giving them, and Craig said overall he absolutely loved it. Darcey loved it too, and Anton says it’s the happiest he’s been in any dance - what, even happier than Fiona Fullerton’s cha cha?
Claudia says that Darcey’s husband John was looking nervous throughout, and then the camera cuts to him and he tries to hide from it, all shy. Anton says he didn’t want to get to bump and grindy with the rumba, so we put some more ritzy steps in it. Good job someone is upholding Brendan’s campaign for no dirty filthy rumbas! Scores: seven, eight, eight, eight for a total of 31. Claudia congratulates Anton on getting his highest ever rumba score and Anton and Katie on their highest Latin score of the series.
We then have a preview of what is coming up, which involves Kevin doing some unlikely Fresh Prince impressions. Oh great I can’t wait.
Claudia then mentions that you can play the drinking game every time they mention BLACKPOOL, and I kind like them having a little bit of in-joking here, but self-awareness is fine the first time, let’s hope they don’t labour the point throughout the evening, or next year (spoiler – they do, obviously).
Kellie and Kevin are next and we are reminded that they hit the dance off last week, which was Kevin’s first ever time there. For some reason, Kellie is wearing full make-up in their training VT. Kevin says the theme of their dance is going to be 90s hip-hop-however, the clothes that they are dressed in seem to be a little bit more late 80s – although I guess it’s the Fresh Prince who was a riot in bright colours, so we can let it slide. Kevin then turns up to her dressing room in rollerblades and shows her episodes of T-Bag and T-Shirt on an iPad and an interview with her from the Upper Hand days. I remember T-Bag as being more of an 80s thing, but Wikipedia informs me it kept going until 1992, so I’ll let that little bit of period detail slide. I suppose. Even though 'Boom! Shake the Room' was released in 1993.
As you might expect with a samba set to that track, the whole thing is very silly, which actually quite works because these two are fairly cheesy anyway. Kevin does look ridiculous in a bomber jacket and baseball cap, but he plays it for all its worth and they mug away like their lives depended on it. There are probably more hip-hop moves than samba, and it’s never going to match the heady days of Iveta and Mark, but they are in sync throughout and look like they’re having fun, which is something. A samba? Not exactly. But when has this evening been about staying true to genre? Kellie fist pumps the air as it ends and they give each other a massive hug. The audience lapped it up, as they have done with every dance tonight.
Tess comments on Kellie’s amazing abs. It’s nice to know that Tess’s old days of lesbian panic have been abated to this extent. Bruno says he didn’t think the blend of hip-hop and Samba would work, but it really worked beautifully and that the timing was excellent. He said all it needed was a Banksy mural. Yes, because a Bristolian street artist fuses so well with a US/Brazil dance combo. Oh my God, let’s not have a fusion/around the world mash up for a theme week. Craig says he was really worried that he didn’t think he’d like it and it wouldn’t be his style, but he absolutely loved it because she was shaking her ‘Darcey bustle’. That seems like… a Len joke? Darcey says she gave a really assured performance and the energy never fades. She says she didn’t like the mix of genres, because the hip-hop moves are more back in the body, while samba is more forward. Craig tells her to open her mind. Darcey says it was still weirdly enjoyable. Throughout this whole segment, Len is sat with a really bizarre grin on his face, but he then snaps that he is a ‘cup of tea in a world of skinny lattes’ and he says he really doesn’t like either ‘babies crying’ or hip-hop. How random. I guess he had to get pure about one genre of dance this week, so it may as well be the samba.
Up in the Clauditorium, Natalie Lowe seems to have really enjoyed that. Unfortunately, she is wearing a really hideous flesh bodice with some glitter arrangement on it. What on earth has she done to piss off wardrobe this week? Scores: nine-at which Kellie goes completely apoplectic, eight, seven, nine for a total of 33. Claudia says it’s their first nine from Craig. I love it when Craig randomly gives high scores to bizarre dances.
Peter and Janette now. And, the moment we have all been expecting for the whole series, a VT featuring Peter’s kids. Let’s be honest, none of us thought it would take this long, did we? They are dancing to a Cilla Black song, so Peter says he wants to honour the fact that Cilla was a ‘legend’. Janette says bringing his kids into the room will help him feel the romance of the Viennese waltz. Yes, because his kids mugging around the whole time is really going to fit the mood of that dance. Unless she means they’ll be pumped full of sugar, run round in circles and vomit from the dizziness. That would fit. Junior seems to quite enjoy dancing with Janette. Princess says ‘give my dad good scores’, whilst Junior says ‘only if he does well though’. I He’s not yet up there with Katie’s eldest, but he shows promise in the ‘damning parents with faintest possible praise’ compartment.
They are dancing the Viennese waltz to ‘You’re My World’ and it opens with a ridiculous amount of dry ice that not only obscures their feet, but pretty much the whole of the bottom half of their bodies. Peter is wearing full tails, whilst Janette is in a white ballet style dress. They aren’t spinning to the extent that Georgia or Katie did, but it’s mostly quite sweet. However, the lighting is doing quite a lot to help the atmosphere, all beautiful spotlights and swirls and cityscapes. There are some really clumsy transitions into new positions in places. It’s okay and everything, but the styling really masked the lack of technique in some parts.
Craig says he danced it well, but it was a little bit too frenetic for him. He could see that each gear change had effort and he thought they were coming in and out of hold a bit too much, and he wanted to see more of the whooshing around the floor - but he loved it. Darcey liked the romance and thought there were moments of ‘Disney magic’ happening, but there were moments where his shoulder stuck out. Tess asks if Len was as impressed as he was last week. Len says no. Fair enough. He says it wasn’t technical enough and it looked a bit too much like an American smooth, and he would have liked more in hold. Bruno says it was like watching the ballroom scene in Cinderella and it was magic. He thought Peter got into the mood of the dance more than in the past and he loved the embellishments. He says it may not have been traditional, like everything else tonight, but he found it effective.
Scores: eight, nine, eight, nine for a total of 34. I called bullshit on those nines. To be honest, I don’t really know what’s going on with the scoring tonight anyway. It all feels a little bit off, but I can’t quite put my finger on why, because it’s not vastly so – I think it’s partly because the dances have all been so damned weird.
Georgia and Giovanni now. Georgia says she was gutted that she made a mistake last week, but glad that she still got really high scores. She says the Charleston is something she is really excited about and Chicago is her favourite film. Not like last week, when it was a song, hey? In training, we see them executing a difficult spin and she hits her head. Ouch. Then Ruthie Henshall turns up to see them in training and tells Georgia how Roxie Hart loves showbiz. Ruthie Henshall says the routine is fabulous and is likely to bowl over the audience and the judges.
As much as I like Chicago, it seems such a lazy choice for the Charleston and a bit too much ‘purity of dance’ for this evening when all the other rulebooks have been thrown out. They are dancing to the breakdown bit at the end of All That Jazz, which is an unusual part of the song to go for, I guess. [It's actually 'Hot Honey Rag' from the end of the show. - Steve] And it’s very traditional Charleston. Georgia copes well with this, and, despite the injury in training, seems to get into the lifts and spins with little difficulty. In fact, these are slightly better than the other movements. It’s pretty accomplished for most of the time and she seems to be having a blast, so even though it’s not particularly innovative, it’s fun and very watchable. When we cut to the audience, it looks like Meg Matthews is there. She would be an interesting contestant in Strictly 2016.
Darcey praises the energy and says it was brilliant. Len says it was his kind of Charleston and he’s going to give her some advice… she needs to take a coat to BLACKPOOL because it gets very cold. Ho ho. Bruno says Fosse is with her and she danced in character. He says he can see that she’s grown in stature and she’s becoming a better actress as well as a better dancer. That feels… Kind of like a burn, given her day job.
In the Clauditorium, Claudia says that it was Georgia’s favourite dance and film. Georgia is breathlessly excited. Claudia then says that the scores are in, but they aren’t. Never mind, Claudia, Olly Murs will fuck up a lot more than this on the X Factor tomorrow. Scores: nine, 10 (yes, Darcey is as obnoxious here as she was last week), 10, 10 for a total of 39. Georgia keeps screaming and spinning and can’t quite believe it, and Kellie has to hold onto her so she doesn’t fall over. Georgia then grabs Claudia into a massive hug. Claudia warns is that next week we’re going to have the fun VT of seeing what Italian Giovanni makes of BLACKPOOL. Oh yay.
Last couple of the evening are Jeremy and Karen. It’s so much better when there are fewer couples to recap. Let us enjoy this moment while it lasts and before we have the horror of two-dance week to contend with. Their VT sees them going to a construction site because they are apparently dancing ‘as miners’ this week. Jeremy asks ‘what, as in digging and stuff?’ No, Jeremy, as in children. Although, having seen the routine… They don’t actually go down a mine though, but to some underground rail building project, because that’s totally the same thing. The labourers give them sevens across the board, which manages to be a compliment and an insult at the same time.
That is not as weird, however, as the opening to their quickstep, to 'Going Underground', which sees them in a giants cart and then having to ungainly clamber out. The dance is not really Jeremy’s forte. There’s a lot of running around and his knees look pretty uncomfortable throughout. He actually manages the jumpy bits better than the bits where he runs around the room, where he looks quite nervous and uncomfortable. This dance doesn’t really work so well with the height mismatch between them either. Then Karen just gives up any pretence of doing the quickstep and they do some random choo-choo train moves and then they end up back in the cart having found a big diamond, even though it looks like they were in a coal mine. (Okay, my grasp of mining is pretty slight, maybe coal and diamonds are found in the same mines, I don’t even know).
Len says if Jeremy doesn’t make it to BLACKPOOL there’ll be some fun and entertainment missing. Bruno says he hasn’t quite struck gold yet and his timing was stuck in mud, but he admires Jeremy’s determination and resilience and he could see that Jeremy gives everything he’s got out there. Craig says it didn’t exactly fly around the ballroom floor, and it was like being at the National Dressage Championship and the pony club would have been proud of it. Darcey says it was a bit silly, but she can see how hard he worked and it’s hard with his long limbs, but she can see that he is light on his feet but he needs to keep his topline still through his back, rather than his elbows.
In the Clauditorium, Jeremy is pleased that Bruno was really nice and says that he will be lowered from the ceiling with an electric guitar in BLACKPOOL next week, surrounded by pyrotechnics. [lol no he won't - Spoiler Steve]
Scores: four, six, six, five for a total of 21. Claudia says the cart is how they are all getting to BLACKPOOL next week. Leaderboard:
Georgia and Giovanni 39
Helen and Aljaž 34
Peter and Janette 34
Peter and Janette 34
Kellie and Kevin 33
Anita and Gleb 32
Katie and Anton 31
Jay and Aliona 30
Jamelia and Tristan 26
Jeremy and Karen 21
Claudia opens the vote lines and everyone jigs behind her with fluffy hats and candy floss, whilst Karen goes completely bizarre. She has entirely crossed into a new realm of weird this series and it’s scaring me just a bit.
Tomorrow! We find out who is going to BLACKPOOL! Join me then!