Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Peter principle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


F a t i m a said...

How could Craig be so certain that Jamelia would be in the dance-off when only two had danced ?
It's also not fair that Kellie/Kevin got so little judging time, but that's the fault of Peter and his "can I just say"s

Steven said...

I think Craig was certain that Jamelia would be in the dance-off this week for the same reason that I was - that she's already been in it four times, and everyone left is probably more popular than she is.