Sunday, 8 November 2015

Manrara in the mirror

Week 7: Top 10 Perform - 7 November 2015

Tess's opening voiceover tells us that we've reached the halfway point in the competition. Imagine if someone had told you before the series started that both Jeremy and Carol would still be in the competition at this point. Imagine if someone had told you after the first couple of weeks that Jamelia would still be in the competition at this point, and that we'd have only just said goodbye to Kirsty. This is a very strange and unpredictable show if you think about it too deeply, which is obviously not something that I would ever do. *opens Excel spreadsheet listing all of the week-by-week scores, as well as the total and average scores of all constants and judges* Anyway, this is the cue for our standard "the competition is getting tougher! Anyone could go! We all have to step up our game!" black-and-white opening montage, the most alarming bit of which is Anita showing us the masses and masses of bruises on her arm. I guess that's the Gleb Special for you.

Titles! It's disappointing that even with the wealth of technology at our fingertips in the modern age we can't digitally update Jay's hair in post-production.

Live in the studio, Tess and Claudia arrive and are escorted by Giovanni and Pasha respectively. Giovanni tries to lead Tess down the stairs before her name has been announced, so I'm just saying: don't be surprised if it turns out someone's spread butter all over the soles of his shoes in the results show. Don't mess with Tess. Also, Pasha's trousers for this evening are eye-wateringly tight so expect my recap of his and Carol's routine to reach new levels of sexually aggressive incoherence. I'm sure this used to be the sort of nice blog that you could read at work and show your friends, didn't it? NOT ANY MORE. Pasha kisses Claudia's hand as they get to the bottom of the stairs and Claudia gives him a big "thank you" grin and is it wrong to ship this a little bit? I know she's married and he's with Rachel but come on, don't tell me they don't make a handsome couple. Remind me to check AO3 once I've finished this. Both Tess and Claudia are in muted colours this week - Tess is in a long black gown with a sort of ruffled bib thing and a sparkly halter, while Claudia's in a simple black strapless tunic thing with what look like rivets all over it, giving the impression that she is cosplaying Dalek Sec this evening.

Tess reminds us that we're halfway through the series, and that a different couple has been at the top of the leaderboard each week. You know, apart from how Peter was top in week one and then top again on the combined leaderboard for weeks one and two. Or how Jay was top on the single-dance week two leaderboard and then again the following week. Apart from those. This is probably the end of that trend, unless Anita has one hell of a breakthrough week. Or something truly unexpected happens involving Carol, Jeremy or Jamelia. Claudia then recaps that in last week's Hallwe'en special Kirsty was in the dance-off for the second time, against Jamelia who was there for the (counts on fingers) 98th time. Despite Jamelia's continued misfortune in the public vote and the general lacklustre-ness of her jive, it was still better than Kirsty's doomed-from-the-start charleston, so Kirsty became cursed-y (geddit? Oh, please yourselves) as the first woman to depart series 13.

The judges dance on (except Len, who still has a sick note), and Darcey remains as uncommitted to all of this nonsense as it is possible for a person to be. I really want her to go the whole hog and just get a couple of the pros to carry her on in a sedan chair like Nancy did on the tour. (Those of you who didn't go to the tour in 2012, you missed the comic gold of Nancy being partnered with Artem. It was everything I dreamed it would be.)

After that our Strictly stars arrive: Kellie and Kevin, Anita and Gleb (who start shimmying to the music while they're still at the top of the stairs, and Gleb even throws in one of his trademark "boom!"s, I love him so much), Katie and Anton, Helen and Aljaž, Georgia and Giovanni, Jeremy and Karen, Jamelia and Tristan, Peter and Janette, Carol and Pasha, and finally Jay and Aliona. (The screams for Jay are next-level stuff, so I think we have our winner here.)

Peter and Janette are opening the show this week with their charleston, and I hope something in this VT will explain why Janette is wearing a Dudley Moore wig [I thought it was another tribute to Flavia - Rad]. Peter's VT harks back to last week and Bruno's criticism that he plays all of his dances the same way, and Peter affirms that it is time to try something different. I hope that means he'll stop telling those awful jokes. Janette takes Peter to see Adam, "a vaudeville enthusiast" (now there's a euphemism if ever I heard one) who makes them play a game where Peter has to exaggerate Janette's mannerisms, and another one where they both have to mirror what the other is doing. Then Peter caresses a mirror, which is how I imagine all day trips with Peter Andre inevitably end.

Okay, so apparently the wig is because Peter's playing a performer with a giant mirror (such a stretch for him this must be) and Janette is meant to be his mirror image. I mean, the hair looks nothing like Peter's, but I get where they're going with it. Then she hops out of the mirror and dances to 'Do Your Thing' by Basement Jaxx with him. It's an absolute barnstormer of an opener - it's loose and light, with Janette doing that ragdoll thing that she does so well as Peter throws her around. His footwork isn't always completely precise, but he has the spirit of the routine down nicely and he's got some really impressive swivel going on. I just picture poor Kirsty watching at home, throwing her dinner at the TV and shouting "oh, so that's the charleston choreography you were saving for Andre, is it?"

The audience are on their feet and Gleb's so enthusiastic up in the Clauditorium that he's practically falling over the rail, and after Tess thanks the band and singers, Peter gets in early by telling us all that it's just so nice to do something smiley and fun. Yes, thank you, Peter: you did a good dance, please don't ruin it now. Len tells Peter it was his best dance and, bad knee be damned, gets to his feet to give Peter the applause he deserves. Bruno says it was just what the doctor ordered, and that Peter embraced the character and the goofy, slapstick comedy. Craig tells Peter that he overbalanced on the lift at the end, but only slightly, and he thought the performance was exceptional. Darcey says that she could mistake him for a professional out there (maybe that wig of Janette's is more convincing than we thought) because he became the character and the style of the dance.

Up in the Clauditorium, Claudia congratulates Janette on her choreography and Janette is quick to clarify that it was a group effort, thanking "Jenny and Darren" for their help. Very few of the charlestons on this show are actually choreographed by the pros, aren't they? I know Gleb did his own choreography for Anita, but don't they usually just get Bill Deamer or Ryan Francois in to do it? (I fast-forwarded to the credits and it looks like Jenny Thomas is the one we have to thank for this.) Claudia asks Peter if he was happy with the comments this week, and Peter slips right back into Reality TV Journey Mode, saying that he finally woke up after last week. Claudia points out that they've never had a nine yet, and the rest of the dancers behind them are all ready shouting for tens, so here goes: Craig 9, Darcey 10, Len 10, Bruno 9 for a total of 38. It's a great score and it would be lovely to have an honest, heartfelt reaction to it, but we're stuck with Peter Andre so what can you do.

In the death slot and having to follow that...Jamelia and Tristan. Oh well, it's been nice knowing you guys. Jamelia tells us how she enjoyed Hallowe'en last week and liked getting some positive comments from Craig, but then she ended up in the dance-off again. Tristan claims this was a shock, but Jamelia seems to think it wasn't so much, because every time she's in the middle of the leaderboard, that's where she ends up. (Except week three, when she was slap bang in the middle of the leaderboard and survived.) This week she's got the Viennese waltz, and Tristan is determined that Jamelia should nail the footwork because that's what the judges will be looking at. Jamelia agrees that she has to give it her all, and while nobody says these exact words, there's a feeling of "go hard or go home" about it, even though it's more than likely to be "go hard and still go home anyway, unless Carol's in the dance-off this week". Tristan says that Jamelia has a new attitude this week, and it's great. Jamelia says she's not happy being mediocre, and she wants to do a great dance. There's no comedy element this week, just the two of them training, and it appears that this is paying off as by the end of the VT Jamelia seems to be getting the hang of it. If only there were some sort of lesson we could all take from this.

They're dancing to 'Trouble' by Ray Lamontagne, and the theme of the routine involves Jamelia being a glamorous woman in a ballgown while Tristan is a very well-dressed busker, and Jamelia is about to throw a coin into a fountain before she changes her mind and drops it in Tristan's guitar case instead, so he puts down his guitar and dances with her. Actually, it's pretty decent: I know that Jamelia never looks completely comfortable in ballroom, and there's still a bit of hesitancy here that makes the dance a little bumpy, and there's a bit of gapping at times, but this is a real improvement from her. It's probably not the sort of Simon Webbe's Argentine Tango-style breakthrough she actually needs, but it's at least an example that she can get ballroom right when the stars align. That said, there is an incident where she ends up trampling the discarded guitar into the ground, and I don't really know whose fault that is: did Tristan drop it in the wrong place? [Fucking props - Rad] Did Jamelia get the routine wrong and go too close to the back of the stage? Did Tristan get the routine wrong and go too close to the back of the stage? Was it entirely intentional and in fact a piece of subtextual music criticism? Whatever the reason, it clearly rattles Jamelia a bit and as a result the second half of the dance isn't as strong as the first, which is so often the case with Jamelia's routines. It's a shame, given how promising this was at the start. Overall I think the pros outweigh the cons, but then I am this blog's official Jamelia apologist at this point so even I doubt my own objectivity at this point.

Tess asks Bruno if the routine will keep them "out of trouble", and Bruno says he hopes so, because Jamelia was "sailing through it on the crest of a wave". She had great flow and movement, but she needs to work on the arching of her back, and sometimes she loses the shape of the dance because of the gapping, but she was light on her feet and did well. Craig agrees that the topline is "problematic" (all right, Tumblr) and she needs to keep her head to the left more, but she started brilliantly and then lost focus. He follows with one of the best critiques I've heard in a good while: "it did have the flow and it did have the grace, until of course you crashed into the guitar, both of you" - Craig says it was Tristan's fault, and if Craig says it, that's good enough for me. Darcey tells her the movement around the floor was good, but Jamelia started straightening up when she got dizzy, so she needs to trust Tristan. The same Tristan who made her plough into the guitar. Len says the dance was no trouble at all - there was a lovely amount of rotation, and he could see how much she'd worked on the footwork. He even goes as far as to say he's going to pickle his walnuts if she's in the dance-off this week, which seems awfully bold. Possibly even foolish. [It is November, those Christmas gifts need preserving... Rad]

Claudia asks Jamelia how much she doesn't want to be in the dance-off, and Jamelia says that she's trying to remain positive and she's working really hard, so she hopes the public will see that she doesn't want to be in the dance-off again and vote for her. Then she giggles "I don't want to beg!" Tristan says again that they've worked very hard on the feet, and when mistakes happen you just have to close your feet, compose yourself, and carry on. And step over the guitar. Scores: sevens all round for a total of 28 - only two points up from last week, which is a bit of a shame because it really was a lot better than her jive, despite everything.

In the second of tonight's death slots, we have Carol and Pasha, so I think the agenda tonight is pretty obvious - they might just as well have "Carol vs Jamelia dance-off" scrolling along the bottom of the screen at regular intervals. Carol's rumba last week is best forgotten, so let's do that. We're back in comedy VT land, or at least staged-candid VT land, as Carol and Pasha have a cup of tea (Pasha's mug says "babe magnet" on it, which is just darling) and discuss their intentions to make their American smooth the best yet. Carol's quite afraid of doing the lifts, which she claims is because she doesn't want to damage Pasha and ruin his career, though Pasha thinks this is just her projecting her own fear onto a different target. Carol says that this routine has got to be good.

Well, they're dancing an American smooth to 'Man! I Feel Like A Woman', so I feel like this is already something of a lost cause. [Why would you do that?  WHYYYY? - Rad] The theme seems to be of Pasha working at a haberdashery counter while Carol strides in wearing a flasher-mac looking for the right outfit to wear. Very little dancing happens: instead she sits on his counter while he presents various suggestions to her, then she rather inelegantly clambers onto his shoulders while he whirls her around, and then Carol goes behind a screen to change while we all get to admire Pasha's ludicrously tight trousers and his lovely round bottom. Seriously, that thing is so pronounced this week that it's borderline obscene, I don't know how we're expected to concentrate on the danc--oh, I see. Eventually Carol emerges in her ballroom dress and they do a bit of American smoothing which is fine, but basic. The lifts are all a bit awkward and you can tell that Carol's not really comfortable in any of them. Question: I know you're allowed to do up to three lifts in an American smooth, but can you - if you choose to - just not bother with the lifts? Or is that as illegal as it would be to do four or more? Are there even any rules to the American smooth any more?

Carol, Pasha and Pasha's Arse head over to Tess, and Craig says it was "like watching a bumper car ride" seeing some of the lifts, and Carol needs to remember to point her feet to complete the line of the leg. But it was a vast improvement on last week. Darcey says she can feel the confidence that Carol is putting into the dance, and she can see the improvement in Carol's lines as well, but she needs to maintain her focus all the way through the dance, because she thinks Carol tends to get overexcited. Len says that dancing begins with the feet, and if she's back next week - which he hopes she is - they need to work on the footwork. Bruno says that he loves her because she's shit.

They head up to the Clauditorium where Pasha turns to profile for the camera just so we can all get one last look at the junk in his trunk, and Carol says that it was so much fun. Claudia says she's fascinated as to how she could possibly make Carol grumpy, but they'll talk about that later. Carol mentions her fear of squashing Pasha yet again, and Pasha tells us all he's stronger than he looks. Well, that combined with the tight trousers has just about finished me, goodnight!

Oh, okay fine. Scores: Craig 3, Darcey 5, Len 5, Bruno 4 for a total of 17. Carol says that she's going up and down. Much like the line of Pasha's trousers. MOVING SWIFTLY ON.

Helen and Aljaž are next, and if you were hoping this might prompt me to start writing like an adult rather than a sex-starved adolescent, I regret to inform you that Aljaž's shirt is open and (spoiler) his nips will be out for most of the routine. Sorry. Helen's VT focuses on her getting to spend some time with her friends down the pub, because she hasn't seen them for ages. Her friends want to know more about Aljaž, because who wouldn't? Helen and Aljaž preview some steps of their rumba, and it's all very exciting but I feel a bit sorry for the couple sitting in the alcove behind all this who probably just wanted a quiet night.

They're dancing to 'Hello' by Adele, and it's all very slow and sensual as you might hope. Helen makes some beautiful lines, and you can see where her ballet training comes in handy here and she holds some very precarious poses and leg extensions. There is, however, not a lot of action in the hips. I really like it, though. I'm possibly alone in this, but I do really like the rumba when it's danced well by a couple with chemistry, and god knows there aren't enough of those to go around, so I'm willing to be pretty forgiving of things like the lack of hip action when a couple at least manages to get the storytelling right like Helen and Aljaž have here.

Darcey was totally transported by the romance of the piece, and she really liked the lines. Len flares up, saying "what's on the label is not in the tin - I could call this pencil a hammer, but it's a pencil." Thanks Len. He thought the routine lacked basic rumba - there was a few opening outs, but he had the same issue with it that he had with Georgia's, in that it lacked basic content. However, he thinks Helen is a fantastic dancer. Bruno enjoyed the intensity of the performance, though he does cite the lack of hip action as a problem. Craig loved the drama and the storytelling, and says that he'd much prefer to see a double-underarm turn into a layout with a développé than see a hockey stick or an alemana any day. Well, wouldn't we all? "It's a rumba!" shouts Len. "You can't change what it is!" and then they get into an argument about what constitutes a rumba, and goodness knows how much we all enjoyed that last year, didn't we?

Let's skip ahead to the Clauditorium, where there is a much warmer response to the routine. Aljaž cops to not having enough traditional rumba steps of the sort that Len wanted, but says that it's hard to get the right balance sometimes, and Helen did an incredible job. Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 8, Len 7, Bruno 8 for a total of 31. Helen is very happy, and Aljaž says it's "the highest rumba score we've had this season, so it's great". Heh.

Next we have Jay and Aliona with the first Argentine tango of the series. As is standard, Tess asks Len to explain what the difference is between a standard tango and an Argentine one, and Len explains that the regular tango is more formal: you get into hold and stay there. At this point I would just like to remind you of this and this. So poised! So formal! Anyway, the Argentine tango is more about passion and emotion. Unfortunately, just after Len says this, we cut back to Jay and Aliona and he looks like he's swallowing back the sick that just unexpectedly crawled up his throat.

Because the Argentine tango is a "specialist" dance, some experts (Giraldo and Myriam) come to join Aliona and Jay in training and sort them out. Jay says that it's fascinating to watch the way they move together, and Myriam says that Jay needs to work on the mood of the dance, and also his posture, intention, navigation, and footwork. "He's got a lot to do this week," she chuckles, and she's not wrong.

They're dancing to 'Diferente', and Jay suits the look of this dance, but I'm not sure he suits the dance itself. Aliona is superb, as I expected she would be because it's impossible to forget her Argentine tango with Harry in series nine, but Jay just isn't connecting for some reason. He doesn't seem to be doing very much in the first place, and the dancing he does is rather loose - strangely, for someone whose jive was so impressive, he kicks like a man who's just had a nasty surprise in the dog-walking area of the park. At the end, you can hear him telling Aliona that he was really nervous - and it showed, unfortunately. [He looked terrified the whole time - a shame, as Aliona looked amazing and gives good AT on the rare occasion she gets to do one - Rad]

Len calls it "a polished performance - you must have used a 'jay cloth'". While the movement was good, he says that Jay's face wasn't conveying much emotion, and he needs to have that for the complete package. Bruno "could feel the macho man bubbling under you" (not for the first time, I imagine) and was very impressed with the precision of the routine. Craig agrees with Len about the acting - he thinks it could be a lot more intense, but it was desperately lacking ganchos, and he only did one. Bruno sits on the other end of the desk throughout all of this, pantomiming his horror and even pulling some "loopy" faces which are probably not such a great idea in 2015. Tess tells us that Bruno's pulling some funny faces, "if you can see them". Yes, Tess. FROM SPACE. Darcey concludes by saying that he executes it to perfection, and there were some beautiful details in there - but she wants to see the fire and passion. So: acting coach VT for Jay next week, then. Someone page Barrowman!

Up in the Clauditorium, Aliona's all "if they want us to fucking growl, we'll growl". Jay stammers that he'll hopefully be here next week and work on that. I think we are approaching Peak Woobie with Jay right now, ladies and gentlemen. Never before has man woobied quite so much or to such great effect. Claudia even goes so far as to call him "edible". Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 9, Len 8, Bruno 9 for a total of 34.

Tess introduces Katie and Anton with their "theatre-themed" quickstep, so cue Claudia wearing a surgical gown. Tess explains that it's musical theatre, not "that sort of theatre", so Claudia disappears and comes back with a pair of cymbals shouting "musical!" Meanwhile, Tess appears to be losing her voice, so the rest of the show should be fun.

Katie knows her paso wasn't perfect last week, but she got a good reaction from the crowd - just not from the judges. This week they've got the quickstep, and Katie says that she knows quite a lot of the steps already from the previous dances she's had to learn - she's just doing them in a different order this time. Anton encourages her to watch a video of their Viennese waltz to remind Katie how good she can be, and Katie enthuses about having Anton as a partner because they got on so well, and she wants to do this well to impress him.

They're dancing to '42nd Street', and the routine opens with a bit of business involving canes and straw boaters, and Katie doesn't look entirely confident in the part where she has to flip the cane and catch it - so when it comes to the point where she has to lob it offstage past Anton, I can't help but find myself hoping she misses and whacks him with it. Hey, I never said I was a nice person. Then they take hold and get into the routine proper, and for all I expected this to be a return to form after the last couple of weeks, it doesn't quite hit the mark - it's rather stuttery and Katie's struggling to keep up with Anton, which leads to a lot of gapping a lot of the time. Sadly I think we may have already seen the best of Katie Derham. (The highlight for me was the part where they trotted past the judges and you could see Bruno in the background, throwing up his arms in resignation.)

Bruno opens by saying that the top of the routine reminded him of Fifth Avenue (pretty sure that was an X Factor girlband) but just as Fifth Avenue has a lot of potholes, when Katie hit those she came unstuck. Despite a great beginning, the footwork went and the frame collapsed. He assures her that everything is there, but it just went a bit wrong this week. Craig says it was a very ambitious routine and Anton was absolutely right to go for it, and if they'd had one more week on this routine they'd have absolutely nailed it. Craig taking his cues from the Karren Brady school of reality-bending advice, there. Darcey says that Katie is so light on her feet, but it was a very difficult combination of steps and it's hard to recover when you go wrong, because the core weakens and so does the frame. Len finishes by saying that parts of it were classy and Radio 3, and other parts were like 5 Live - sporty, fast and full-on. (And other parts were Radio 1 - awkward, embarrassing, past its best. Hiyoooo!) It was a bit rough, but a great performance.

Katie and Anton skulk up to the Clauditorium rather dejectedly, where they both admit to a few mistakes - or as Anton puts it, "only a couple, but they went on a while". Still, Katie had lots of fun with her hat and her cane. Scores: Craig 6, Darcey 7, Len 7, Bruno 6 for a total of 26. Claudia asks if they were expecting more, and Anton says "yes, 46". Katie, rather more pragmatically, replies that she would have loved more points because she knows they've nailed that routine in rehearsals, but she made mistakes on the night and the score reflects that.

Up next are Anita and Gleb. Gleb is wearing a boiler suit and a sweatband with his boyband fringe flopping over the top, and as such is basically every sexual fantasy I had in the late 1990s. Seriously, I feel like every week is a subtextual advert for Gleb's latest business venture in which he branches out in the adult film industry. Anita loved being Maleficent for Hallowe'en last week, and she loved Len complimenting her on her waltzing (though the part where he had a snit about not understanding the story is left out). For their jive training, Gleb promises to take Anita to a dance class - which turns out to be a jive class for very small children. Anita, a TV presenter to her core, throws herself into dancing with the kids wholeheartedly, while Gleb hovers on the sidelines looking a bit embarrassed. Then Anita hugs a small child, and one of the more telegenic ones gets to wish Anita and Gleb luck directly to the camera. [Let the BABY WARZ commence! - Rad]

And with that nuclear strike to everyone's ovaries, we go to Antia and Gleb's jive, in which they are a pair of cleaners dancing to 'The Boy Does Nothing' by Alesha Dixon. I swear, it's like I am the exact target audience for this routine. It starts with Anita scolding Gleb for snoozing on the job, and then they jive together. It's fun, and peppy, and Anita bounces through the whole thing with energy. Ironically, given the song they're dancing to, there's yet another section where Gleb has choreographed Anita to more or less stand still while he shows off for a bit. Then there's a move which will no doubt stand in infamy alongside the Gleb Special, as Gleb launches himself at Anita, hitting her in the face with his crotch as she falls back while grabbing onto his thighs (Anita, if you needed a stunt double for this, you should have called), then as he turns around he kicks her back up into a standing position. Apparently this move is called 'The Flying Teabag', which sounds 100 per cent Gleb, so I'm inclined to believe it. And then it all ends with them emptying a bucket of glitter all over the judges.

My favourite part of the whole thing is at the end where Anita goes to give Gleb a hug, and he basically ignores her and reaches past her to pull the prop trolley out of the way so they can both get on their marks for Tess. Poor Anita. Tess tells Anita that Gleb just keeps pushing her, and Anita says "I just say yes all the time". Well, who wouldn't in her position? [I hope she has a safeword - Rad] Craig tells them they can come and clean his house any time - it was fast, furious and energetic, but she didn't quite have the retraction of her kicks. He loved the routine though. Darcey (who has glitter in her hair and around her neck) loved the action and energy and was very impressed with Anita's fitness, but the feet needed to be more pointed. Len thought it was full of fun, energy and sharp kicks and flicks, and he thought it was terrific. Bruno says that Anita broke through the mould tonight and was in control of that performance - she was on it and selling it, and it was her best dance yet.

Up in the Clauditorium, Claudia expresses moderate concern about Gleb's crotch attacking Anita during the routine, and points out that they haven't had any nines yet. Anita says she would like a nine, but she's sure everyone else wants one too. Communist! Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 8, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 34. Anita is overjoyed by two nines. Gleb is...Gleb.

Tess croaks that Kellie and Kevin are on next with their waltz. Kellie was very pleased to survive her paso without falling over last week considering that it involved dancing on a table in a week where she was so busy on EastEnders that she was basically running on fumes and good intentions. Kevin suggests that a good practice for their waltz would be to go to a tea dance, so that's what they do. Kevin says that he loves tea dances, because of course he does, and lots of the tea dancers tell Kellie and Kevin how much they love them. There's quite a fun part where Kellie and Kevin meet up for a cuppa after dancing with several partners, and Kellie tells Kevin that she was being spun around earlier, and Kevin replies "I saw that. You didn't keep your head out then either, did you?" and Kellie cracks up.

Their waltz is themed around a couple packing up their home, to Take That's 'Love Ain't Here Any More' (which Kevin said on It Takes Two was their attempt to change the emphasis of the song and not make it so sad, and I'm not sure this is entirely successful), and Kellie and Kevin playfight with their lightsabres before packing them away into the box marked "good god, Clifton, let it go already". It's all a bit twee and isn't entirely aided by Kellie's outfit - the brown ballroom gown with the macramé decarations is fine by itself, but I don't really get the strange flesh-coloured top they've made her wear over the top of it. Kevin's butt is also in fine form this week even though it's been overshadowed by Pasha's, but it definitely deserves honourable mention. What's that? The dancing? Oh, well the footwork is lovely and very precise, but Kellie's topline really starts to collapse towards the end of the routine, and I don't quite know why.

Darcey tells Kellie that she gives a quality and a finesse, and she is a strong lady with a strong core, but she needs to watch that right shoulder that she's been warned about before. Darcey says there is improvement there, and she really enjoyed it. Len thought it was full of charm and grace, and he loved the three double-reverse turns, though there was a problem with Kellie's right arm at times. He thinks she's a great all-round dancer, overall. Bruno calls them the king and queen of nostalgia, and likens it to "one of these wonderful Julian Fellowes screenplays - expertly crafted, beautifully detailed, wonderfully acted...", so I can only assume he gave up watching Downton Abbey quite early on in series two. Craig says that she lost a little bit of balance at the end but recovered beautifully, and it was a lovely routine.

Kellie tells Claudia that she did enjoy the waltz after all of those fast-paced routines she's had lately, but it is more difficult than it looks. Kevin says that they just wanted to show another side to themselves as a partnership. Claudia reminds Kellie of the "great all-round dancer" remark, which Kellie is very pleased about, and apparently even the Hon. Peter Andre said to Claudia that that was a lovely comment. Scores are in: all eights for a total of 32. Claudia reads out the voting numbers and starts to choke midway-through, leaving us with the very real risk of having no presenters left who have the power of speech. You can almost see the look flickering across Anton's face, like this is the moment he's been waiting for to stage a coup.

In the almost pimp slot, we have Jeremy and Karen with their wild west-themed tango. Karen heads out to join Jeremy at Radio 2 to make sure they can get in as much practice as possible, and he greets her with "hey dance buddy!", which is just about cute enough for them to get away with, although it's a narrow line. Karen goes on his radio show where apparently she sees his serious journalist side (this is presumably somewhere around the time that Clive from Wiltshire phoned up to ask why don't we just box all the immigrants and gays and the feminists up and send them off to Bongo Bongo Land and get back to what makes Britain great) and that's the sort of attitude he needs for the tango.

I'm not sure it would serve him well in this tango, though, since it's set in the wild west, involves Jeremy riding on a prop horse and dancing to 'Go West'. I think this is the most pronounced I've ever known their height difference to be, because Jeremy is really hunched over and it really hampers his kicks. Also, his tango face is more of a distracted frown. I like Jeremy, but it feels like we've reached the point in the series now where the comedy contestants and their respective partners start just chucking concepts and props at their routines because they know that audience votes are more important than the judges' votes, and that's usually the point I start to lose interest in them. And lest you think I'm being unfair, Pasha's been just as guilty of this in recent weeks as Karen has. So what I'm saying is it's probably time for Carol and Jeremy to go - Carol this week, probably, then Jeremy to bow out around...Blackpool, perhaps?

Tess tells Jeremy he was the only one who didn't have a smile on his face during the routine, and Len says that there's always an anticipation whenever he comes out - this week, he happened to be Woody from Toy Story sitting on a horse. Len thought it was wild, wacky, and fun and he enjoyed it. Bruno calls it "how the West was lost" and calls it a glorious disaster. Craig said it "certainly had a staccato nature", and he enjoyed the robotic movements of Jeremy's bottoms, which is worth at least a three. No, he genuinely said that. Darcey takes a moment to compose herself and congratulates Jeremy on keeping a straight face throughout and says that she will never tire of watching him, though he needs to be careful not to get carried away. Judging by the damage this routine must have put on his spine, he might need to be stretchered away.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia asks Jeremy to do his tango face for her again, just for the benefit of those at home who might want to make it their screensaver. Karen says it's been tough keeping a straight face in rehearsals, but Jeremy has been working really hard and she's glad the judges saw that. Jeremy also gives props (ba-dum-tish) to the horse. Scores: Craig 4, Darcey 6, Len 6, Bruno 5 for a total of 21.

Claudia asks Jeremy to guess how many couples are left to dance, and he correctly answers "one". I feel like this was a bit of a gamble, considering the last couple of Georgia and Giovanni and I have a tendency to forget all about them. But this week they're in the pimp slot, so they must be doing something right. Georgia says that she could quite happily leave now that she's been top of the leaderboard, but she's hoping she won't actually have to. In their VT, apparently Giovanni is feeling homesick for the Italy, so Georgia takes him on a tour of Manchester landmarks that slightly resemble Italian things. I know it's not really fair to judge anyone's acting by the quality of a Strictly Come Dancing comedy VT, but I hope Georgia isn't planning to land any future acting gigs off the back of them, let's just put it that way.

They're doing a samba to 'Volare', which involves Georgia sitting at a café table wearing a giant hat (not quite Katya-esque, but still comically huge) while Giovanni tries to get her attention. Eventually she consents, casts off her hat and dances a very energetic samba with him. There's lots of bounce in her dancing, she's in perfect sync with Giovanni, and it looks set to become an iconic samba - until it goes rather obviously wrong about two-thirds of the way through when Georgia clearly botches a move and just sort of stands there awkwardly until Giovanni pulls her into place. She recovers well, but it's written on her face for the rest of the dance that she's just messed up a dance that was probably going to net her at least one 10. Still, it's a great candidate for her to reprise in the final, if she makes it that far, and perhaps even earn the first perfect samba score.

Bruno yells a load of Italian at them that obviously Georgia cannot understand, and by the sounds of it even Giovanni's not quite sure what he meant because he has to seek clarification from Bruno as he translates, so Bruno ends up doing it himself: "premier league dancers". He thought she was performing better than he's ever seen before, though there were a few small losses of balance. Craig thought she handled the speed of the dance very well, though she lost a bit of technique and missed a hand crossover near the end. Darcey says they ate up the dancefloor like a bullet coming out of a gun, and she was amazed at how much technique Georgia was hanging on to considering the speed. Len says it was like his favourite pizza - hot and spicy - and they killed it. (Anyone else just assumed Len orders a margherita? And then maybe adds some jellied eels when he gets it home?) There's no time to talk in the Clauditorium, so let's just get straight to the scores: Craig 8, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 35.

All ten couples have now danced, so let's see that leaderboard:

1. Peter & Janette - 38
2. Georgia & Giovanni - 35
3=. Jay & Aliona - 34
3=. Anita & Gleb - 34
5. Kellie & Kevin - 32
6. Helen & Aljaž - 31
7. Jamelia & Tristan - 28
8. Katie & Anton - 26
9. Jeremy & Karen - 21
10. Carol & Pasha - 17

So this might be where it gets interesting, results-wise - the real shock bottom-two appearances tend to happen in either week six or seven, so we're due one, and tonight looks set to be the first real test of Helen's vote. I suspect the logical outcome here is still Jamelia vs Carol with Carol going, but I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being Jamelia vs Helen, Kellie or Anita and Jamelia finally getting sent home. Either way, I'm pretty sure Jamelia's there after the result of the last two public votes. We shall see in tomorrow's results show, which also features a performance from Seal and a very special Remembrance Day routine. I for one am intrigued.


Scott Willison said...

While Pasha's arse is unimpeachable, Kevin's arse is a bit too rounded and wide. It's a bit matronly.

Also something about the dances.

DeltaBlues said...

In the spirit of the above comment...Aljaz's chest. Yum.

Oh yeah, and dances blah blah waltzcakes.

lukeal70 said...

I am sure that in the Helen & Alijaz VT that they were not in a restaurant but are just in someone's dining room.
It looks like they stuck 2 of the runners on a fold up table in the corner to make it look busy & have some atmosphere.

General Hogbuffer said...

I am certain I have seen American Smooths without lifts - Aljaz and Alison spring to mind for obvious reasons...

DeltaBlues said...

Also Russell Grant & Flavia, and Natalie Cassidy & Vincent. It just becomes an extra-wafty foxtrot.

JV said...

The language barrier with Giovanni and Bruno was that Bruno referred to "Serie A" (the Italian top football league) and Giovanni didn't know how to translate that to English (hence Bruno translating as "Premier League").