Friday, 1 January 2016

A very Harry Christmas

Christmas special 2015
Broadcast Friday 25 December.

Welcome back! Since we last met: Aliona has quit in a blaze of glory after being fired, being rehired, suffering through duffer after duffer and finally emerging as the first pro to win twice (what a journey!); Andy Murray won Sports Personality of the Year Again - although Judy was presumably not as excited about this as she was about Anton Du Beke getting to the Strictly final; half the country has taken to living in boats due to our apocalyptic weather; and hopefully all of us have eaten more than our fair share of mince pies. Still, whatever the weather, the Strictly Christmas show (recorded weeks ago) must go on!

Cue credits! Weirdly, because we aren’t yet supposed to know who the participants are, instead of featuring our pairs, it features an array of ghostly gold dancers. And I thought Halloween was some weeks ago.

We open with a slightly strange Harry Potter themed dance, largely set in the WB studio tour. You could, if you’d been avoiding any form of entertainment media over the last few weeks (including, if I recall, the main show itself), take this to mean that they are setting us up for one of those Christmas specials where we get people who are “far too busy” to commit to the full show, only this time, perhaps they mean it and they’ve got a bunch of guest stars from the Harry Potter series. Or maybe, a Harry Potter themed dance? (Nope, they did that back in Halloween week). Instead, it seems we are at Hogwarts for… well, I’m sure there were reasons. *shrug* [*looks pointedly at Kevin Clifton* - Steve]

Anyway, it’s an American Smooth themed dance, and we meet our pros: Pasha, Joanne, Oti, Brendan, Natalie and Robin (don’t they usually wheel out Ian when they’re lacking in current male pros? Sigh). Our contestants are then revealed. Riding on the Hogwarts Express are Abbey fucking Clancy and Tom Smug Chambers. People’s Strictly champion and ringer Cassidy Little (I know Anna wuzrobbed, but she was dancing with Robin and Cassidy was dancing with Natalie so, you know…) is waiting in Diagon Alley as is Alison Kaffee Babes Hammond.  Lisa Snowdance Snowdon is hosting a feast in the great Hall, and Harry Not-Aliona’s-Favourite-Winner-Any-More Judd is late to proceedings. The pairings are revealed as the couple’s waltz around: Abbey and Brendan; Oti and Tom; Cassidy and Natalie; Alison and Robin; Lisa and Pasha; Harry and Joanne. The obvious point of ‘Oooh, what’s gone on there?’ gossip is, of course, Lisa and Brendan not being partnered. Robin and Alison seems like a fairly good fit, it’ll be good to see more of what Oti and Joanne can offer, and we can all be grateful that it’s not Lisa Bloody Riley again.

I am not sure whether I like the returning contestants’ version of the Christmas special more than the new contestants’ version-although you do often get a better standard of dance this way round-but I think this is generally a decent cast. You have three winners (okay, two of them nobody really likes, but they won nonetheless), a spin-off winner, a finalist and a popular comedy contestant who was not entirely terrible.

We go through the mirror in the Great Hall and we are suddenly transported to the world of the Strictly studio, where Tess and Claudia enter. Tess is accompanied by a smart-suited Brendan, whilst Claudia is accompanied by Robin in lederhosen - I assume the reasons will become clear later. Daly Dress Watch: bright pink, off the shoulder, very summery, looks nice but somewhat unseasonal. What Winkleman’s Wearing: a sleeveless maroon dress, bit more Christmassy. In the audience, Jeremy Vine is mugging away for the cameras. Tess and Claudia tell us that it’s going to be an all-stars extravaganza, and later at we have a guest performance from Blake, which Tess pronounces in the audible version of all lowercase small print, and then contrasts this with DAME SHIRLEY BASSEY. Ha, sucks to be Blake.

The judges enter, dressed as characters from Snow White: Darcey as Snow White, Bruno as the handsome Prince (!!), Len as a king (wearing a robe with some odd cutout patches on the arms through which she can see his white shirt) and… If you were expecting Craig as the wicked Queen here, prepare to have your illusions shattered, as he comes on as… Grumpy the dwarf. Even though this was filmed mid-series, they don’t bother doing ‘the Strictly’. 

Our contestants enter, and time to see if they have simply reused the introductions they had for them when they were on the show proper, or if any of them have been up/downgraded since then. Model and presenter Abbey Clancy and Brendan; actor Tom Chambers and Oti; presenter Alison Hammond and Robin (Alison appears to be dressed as some kind of weird techno Heidi, so now I’m hoping that their dance is going to be to Bring Me Edelweiss); People’s Strictly champion Cassidy Little and Natalie; presenter Lisa Snowdon and Pasha; McFly star Harry Judd and Joanne.  So, no ‘pop stars’ or ‘TV presenters’ and ‘actor’ rather than ‘Holby City star’ which I guess might be downgrades, albeit small ones?

Tess says that, for the ‘first time ever’, they have four Strictly champions in the same show. If we are counting The People’s Strictly as canon.  And discounting this

We then cut to the Strictly version of the Queen’s speech: a message from the absent Bruce. Part of the joys of Christmas Strictly is watching it with the family and seeing how people who like the show, but aren’t perhaps as invested as we are, view it. My parents both talked about how good it was that Bruce was no longer presenting the show and how much better Tess and Claudia were. As we were watching the show after recording it, I asked if this therefore meant we could fast forward Bruce’s speech. Apparently not. Anyway, Bruce has a message for the nation (and notes the similarity between his speech and the Queen’s) - he is gutted not to be in the studio, but his operation went well and he thanks everyone for doing the Christmas show and calls them all his favourites. Thanks Bruce!

Tess lies that this could be one of the closest Christmas specials ever. Tess, haven’t you been watching these for the past 12 years? They have all been a) close and b) wildly over marked. That’s how Christmas works. [Remember the year there was a four-way tie for top of the leaderboard and Len had to rank them all again? Ahh, memories. - Steve]

The first couple of the evening are Lisa and Pasha and Tess makes a joke about how they will be dancing in the snow, despite wearing Alice in Wonderland getup. Lisa, for the record is in a fairly inoffensive blue dress, whilst poor Pasha has yet again invoked the ire of hair and make up and is dressed as the Johnny Depp Mad Hatter. Their VT talks about Lisa’s memories of being on Strictly, including ‘the 40s.’ Such a troll. [I just assumed she meant the 1940s, it feels like that long ago. - Steve] She says that she hasn’t danced since being on the show. Except for the 2008 Christmas special. She thinks Pasha is fabulous and as she got a 40 last time she did the quickstep, she’s feeling some pressure tonight. She thinks the way to win the judges over will be to sneak in their dressing rooms and leave them a mince pie (?). Meanwhile, because he can never get away from the comedy VT, Pasha takes Lisa into Wonderland via a ‘drink me’ vessel, where he is the white rabbit, leading her through a maze of brightly lit flowers and an enchanted forest.

I am not quite sure what the theme of this Christmas special is. It’s not really panto, nor is it films, nor fairytales. I guess it’s as loose as ‘fictional characters’? To complete the sense of loose theming, they are dancing (the quickstep) not to this, this, this or even this, which would have made at least some sense, but to ‘Let It Snow’ because Lisa’s surname is Snowdon do you see what they did there?

We open with Pasha hosting the Mad Hatter tea party, then Lisa, as Alice, distracts him and they start dancing. That’s as far as the storytelling goes. As for the dance itself, you can tell that she hasn’t been dancing much lately and that this is pretty under-rehearsed, because there are places where it looks like she’s running to keep up with him. [Yeah, I feel like of all the dances you can get in a Christmas special, a quickstep is one of the unluckier draws. - Steve] That said, she’s clearly still a capable dancer, and for the most part she copes well with the rhythm, and in some places there’s quite nice footwork. It does feel somewhat under committed, with a lot of the jumps and kicks being a bit subdued, but it’s decent enough and, given that she is up against a bunch of previous champions, it’s likely to give her a solid mid-table position tonight. Or at least place her above Alison.

Len says it was magical, with her dancing with ‘Pasha the Dasher’ (and Dancer and Prancer?) and they were going faster than he does when he goes for his pickled walnuts. Bruno says it was like a flute of the finest champagne, bursting with fizz and popping with bubbles. Craig says she clearly hasn’t lost it and it had a great cross-section of steps and good energy where she covered the floor several times - and overall he loved it. Darcey says it was magnificently fast and she was really light on her feet and she looks like she’s never stopped dancing.

In the Clauditorium, Lisa declares it so much fun. For some reason, there is a guy dressed up as an elf in there. I don’t know if he is a bonus backing dancer, or just some poor man who they made dress up for the fun of things, but he looks somewhat uncomfortable either way. There is a buffet table, complete with the giant sprout from the BBC idents. I guess he’s going to be eaten? That’s as dark as that time when Noel Edmonds blew up the Christmas robins #scarred4life.  Tom Chambers is also there, wearing a waistcoat that is a little bit too small for him and bunching up in all the wrong places. He is not particularly a large guy, but this is making him look quite tubby – reminding me of when Chris Hollins came back for this last year and the judges kept telling him how fat he was. Rude. /miranda. 

Anyway, scores: nine, nine, nine, ten for a total of 37. Lisa says she loves Bruno, and Claudia reminds us that the winner will be decided by a combination of the judges’ scores and the studio audience vote. We then have some random carol singers emerge singing ‘Deck the Halls’, with the most audible line being ‘don we now our gay apparel’. Never let it be said this show is beyond the cheap double entendre. Take that, Bake Off!

Alison and Robin are the second couple of the evening. Apparently, they are Hansel and Gretel. Thanks for telling us, Tess. I genuinely had no idea. Tess also tells us that they will be dancing in a house actually made of sweets, which I’m quite excited to see. Alison’s retelling of her Strictly story shows that she has absolutely no awareness of her TV journey, highlighting her favourites as her cha-cha and her Charleston rather than the correct choices of these two. She says she can’t wait til Christmas because she hasn’t told any of her family she is doing the show. I think the surprise will probably have been ruined for them by the time this airs, love. She says she’d like an eight, because it’s Christmas. And I think that is the reason why she’s probably quite likely to get one. She says that she didn’t ‘keep dancing’ after the show, but stopped. Such an advert for ‘this changed my life, I’m in love with dance et cetera’ this lot, aren’t they?

They emerge for their cha-cha-cha from a ‘gingerbread’ house that looks like it’s been constructed entirely out of MDF and glitter, with not a literal sweet in sight. Call Ofcom, everybody! They are dancing to ‘Celebration’ as the theming on this episode falls more and more apart. As dances go, this is generic week one party Latin, except for the hilarious bit where she pushes Robin to the floor, but Alison is always exuberant, which sells it a little bit. The fact that she is not wearing heels makes the footwork look quite leaden, but she does have a sense of the atmosphere in her performance which slightly compensates for the lack of technique. Then there’s a really weird bit where they do some handclapping staff which I could possibly buy if they were going full on thigh-slapping Austrian style, but they’re not, so…

The audience, including bonus Peter Crouch, seemed to enjoy it, anyway. Bruno calls it a luscious Christmas hamper, full of delights and treats and he loves it when Alison does, but forget about Robin. If only we could, Bruno, if only we could. He then starts singing Kylie’s ‘Your Disco Needs You’, so extra judge points to Bruno for that one. Craig says it was incredibly flat-footed, but ‘it is Christmas after all’ and so he loved the disco feel and the fact that she has natural rhythm (drink!) and brings joy to the dancefloor. We cut to a woman in the audience who I assume is Alison’s mum, which makes her VT even more redundant. Darcey’s favourite bit was where Lisa pushed Robin.  Ha! Poor Robin. Darcey also has three weird gold dots painted on her neck – anyone have a clue what that’s about? Len calls them ‘the yummy Brummie’ and ‘throbbing Robin’ which prompts the exact looks from Lisa and Robin that you’d expect.  He says it was more fun than warming chestnuts on an open fire and they epitomise enjoying yourself and having fun.

As they arrive in the Clauditorium, Alison gives Aljaž a little kiss and says he shouldn’t be too jealous as she’ll see him later.  Claudia asks if Alison would like an 8.  She says she wouldn’t mind it, ‘not because I’m a big fat lady but because I want an 8’ #bingoshoutout. Scores: 7, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 31.  Claudia offers Tess a ‘massive Brussels sprout’ which would work better as a visual gag were the cabbage she is using green rather than white.

Next is Cassidy Little, ringer winner of The People’s Strictly, dancing with Natalie, making him the only returning contestant tonight to be matched with their original pro. We are reminded of him winning the ‘first-ever’ People’s Strictly with his paso doble. I hadn’t noticed any announcement that they were doing it again, but perhaps they’re planning it for Red Nose Day 2017? Cassidy says he isn’t a celebrity, he’s a veteran, but he’s looking forward to it. Natalie says she’s really happy to be working with him again. For some reason, he wears a turkey mask and bright sunglasses in his VT. I guess wardrobe like him about as much as they like Pasha. He and Natalie then go and visit some people who’ve been helped by Help for Heroes, and Cassidy tells a bunch of veterans that they should get into dancing. They look fairly unconvinced by this suggestion.

Cassidy and Natalie are dressed as Puss in Boots. I think she is the Puss in Boots from Shrek, given that she is in red and slightly more Latin themed clothing, while perhaps he is a standard Puss in Boots from pantomime. Who knows? Make up hasn’t really gone to town on either of them, with them just having noses and whiskers rather than full on face paint assaults like Pasha. They are dancing the jive to something I’ve never heard before, but Ultimate Strictly informs me is called ‘Cool Yule’. Now I’m not saying you should necessarily treat people with disabilities any differently to other dancers, and if Cassidy were to do a full series of the show, obviously you’d expect him to master every genre. However, given that this is a one-off special, it seems slightly unfair to give a jive to the person with a prosthetic leg. It doesn’t really strike me as the best choice of dance to show off his abilities. He does seem to struggle with the footwork, unsurprisingly, although he has a good feel for performance, and his timing isn’t bad. His hip work isn’t too shabby, FOR A MAN WHO IS TALL, and he ends with a lift which involves Natalie kind of being chucked over one of his arms and looks pretty impressive.

Craig calls him a true inspiration, who has great musicality. He says it was compact and clean and he brings an enormous amount of Canadian charm to proceedings. Cassidy looks a bit like John Barrowman here. I don’t know whether that is a good thing for him or not. Darcey said she really enjoyed the lifts and tricks, but it was the performance value that really did it for her. Len says he’s happy and he says that ‘Little and Lowe’ are a great combination. And are quite ironically named, being tall people. Bruno says he’s a wonderful performer and can really sell it.

In the Clauditorium, Cassidy says he still a bit nervous and he says that the jive is totally different to the paso, but he’s really grateful to Natalie for guiding him through it. Natalie says he hasn’t done any of the ballroom dances in his life, so she thought it was great things come out and do a jive like that. Scores: eight, nine, nine, nine for a total of 35. Natalie thinks this is amazing, but that’s Christmas for you, Nat.

The some reason, we need the filler of a preview of the remaining couples. There are only three of them left, so this is pointful. Still, we get a bit of Kylie soundtracking it, so I’m not gonna complain too much. [My mum was on a bizarre anti-Kylie crusade all over Christmas. I'm still not entirely sure I understand why. - Steve]

Time for this episode’s random Claudia costume moment. Because there’s a lot of people upstairs and a turkey might not be enough, she has come as the ostrich from future comedy contestant Bernie Clifton’s set.

Our fourth couple are Abbey and Brendan. Abbey’s VT reminds us that she won, to everyone’s surprise, including her own. She also recognises that she has a tough challenge to win the Christmas special against Harry Judd (and some other people of course), so she’s bringing out BABY WARZ yet again, with an update on her cute daughter Sophia, as featured two years ago, who comes to rehearsals with her and Brendan, and brings some Rapunzel wigs to put on both Abbey and Brendan. Brendan is quite adorable with Sofia. Unfortunately for them, the ovary voters in the audience have a Chambers and a Judd coming up, as well as having just seen Cassidy and Pasha, so this may not be enough to secure a victory for them. We also see her and Brendan let off a party popper in this VT, without the party poppers exploding and still maintaining their cardboard base. More BBC lies! [To be fair, my party popper did something very similar on Christmas Day. Bloody shoddy merchandise. - Steve]

They are dancing the waltz to ‘When I Fall in Love ’ and the nod to the theme is Abbey standing in a turret, with a trail of tinsel dangling down representing Rapunzel’s hair, which Brendan loosens so she can come down and dance with him. Such storytelling! There is a lot of dry ice around the footwork, which is always really annoying in a waltz. Otherwise, it’s a lovely enough dance, but not especially exciting. These two do have quite nice chemistry though, and the audience really love it, including Abbey’s Famous Husband Peter Crouch.

Tess says she makes it look so easy and Brendan says ‘this girl’ (drrrrrrrink!) can dance. Darcey says it’s one of the most elegantly controlled waltzes she’s seen ‘at Christmas’. Damning with the faintest of praise there, Darcey. Len says, forget Westminster, she’s his favourite Abbey. If you were going for that joke, why not make it ‘Forget Downton’? He declares it ‘like a warm hug on a cold Christmas morning, just delicious’. Bruno calls her his dancing queen, waltzing her way back into his heart as if she never left. He says she was conditioned to perfection with not a split end in sight and says she really is a dazzler. Craig said it had grace, elegance and style. He said her top line was marvellous, although there was a bit of gapping. ["A bit" - Steve] Brendan says it was to allow room for the Christmas pudding. Teehee.

Up they bound to the Clauditorium, where Natalie Lowe tries to do a one-woman arch to welcome them up. Claudia reminds us that Abbey hasn’t danced since 2013. Oh dear. They then wish happy birthday to Brendan’s little girl Aurelia, whose birthday is on Christmas Day. Aww. Scores: nine, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 39. Claudia then holds up a gravy boat to offer Tess some and then says ‘my mistake, it’s fake tan’.

Harry and Joanne are the penultimate couple of the evening and it looks like they have also incurred the wrath of hair and make-up, as both of them are festooned in in glitter everywhere. That stuff is a bugger to get off, you know. [Seriously. On Christmas Day it was all over my crackers (not a euphemism) and I was still finding it in the bed several days later. - Steve] We are reminded in his VT that he won Strictly with Aliona. We are not, sadly, reminded that he is no longer Aliona’s favourite celebrity partner, nor of the wonderful moment after they lifted the glitter ball, when the rest of McFly gatecrashed proceedings and Bruce tried to sweep them all away. Harry says he’s been in McFly for 12 years and talks about the band’s achievements (note, not McBusted, who are apparently well and truly OVAH.  For this week), but says people still stop him in the supermarket to talk about Strictly. Again, he hasn’t danced for four years and has ‘missed’ it, although he says he does sneak out a cheeky move here and there.  He notes that in the future he will be able to catch up in BABY WARZ, because he and his wife are expecting their first child. He is dancing with Jo, who tells him in training that he was brilliant, worth ‘about a four’. What I love about that is that, given Joanne’s background and what we saw of her on choreography corner on It Takes Two this series, she was probably not joking with that score. We then have the obligatory comedy moments of the VT, involving Harry developing Jack Frost powers and turning everything to ice. Harry says he is doing the American Smooth, and last time he got a 39, but as it’s Christmas, this time he wants a 40. I love how everyone is basically trolling the Christmas special scoring this year.

Harry and Joanne are dancing the American Smooth to ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’, which is the closest anyone’s got tonight to having a synthesis of theme, song and luck-as the sets, lighting, costumes and make-up all fit with the same theme as the song and the characters. There is a moments where Joanne ends up on a bench, because apparently the Cliftons can’t leave tables and their ilk alone. I know we were somewhat unconvinced by Joanne’s first series as a pro with Scott, but going on the form of both her choreography corner this year (where she’s been a revelation), and this lovely routine, I’m gonna start now and say it: ringer for Joanne in 2016 please. [I agree. I've really come around on Joanne this year. - Steve] This is a lovely dance, well executed, light, romantic and just the right balance of cheesy without going too over the top. Harry dances well and the two of them seem to have a decent chemistry going on as well.

Len says he has truly missed watching Harry dance and loves the way Harry has lovely wide elbows, a flat back and dances onto the ball of his foot-this is pretty much the first piece of dance critique anyone’s had tonight where their technique has been concentrated on. Bruno says the hits keep coming and when it comes to smooth charm and exquisite dancing nobody does it better than Prince Harry, at which he stands and bows, leaving Harry looking mildly embarrassed. Craig says he absolutely loved it and thought it was fab-u-lous, whilst Darcey says it’s a close competition but he’s certainly up there. She says the style was glamorous and the dance felt effortless, especially when he lifted Jo. Darcey congratulates Joanne getting partnered with Harry because it's all about the men for her.

In the Clauditorium, Harry says he absolutely loves dancing. Jo said she’s not going to lie, he hasn’t danced for years, but she’s still delighted to have danced with him. Claudia says Harry danced the American smooth his wedding because it is favourite dance and Harry says yes it is, his wife’s in the audience. Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 40 and I presume that will be the winning dance of the night? Jo looks beside herself as well she might. Claudia offers him an eggnog without the nog: an egg and a glass. She then makes a joke about Uncle Terry who licks the chocolate off the Brazil nuts. Well I guess he had to be doing something when he wasn’t presenting Children in Need this year, hey?

Tess says that Tom is going to be dancing as Scrooge, grumpy old man, but of course Scrooge isn’t his full name, it’s Scrooge Revel Horwood. As anyone knows, Tess, this series it should have been Scrooge Goodman. Or rather, Len Scrooge, given that Scrooge is a surname, not a first name.

Tom’s VT shows is that when he was on Strictly the first time, he was a vaguely successful actor in a popular ongoing BBC drama serial, whereas now he is… A former Strictly winner? It doesn’t enlighten me as to what else he’s doing. He said that since he’s been on Strictly, he’s been jealous of everyone else who's got to do the Charleston, and that seems kind of believable, given that it probably is the kind of dance that Tom and Camilla would have lapped up. The comedy element of their VT centres on Oti trying to get Tom into character, but him loving Christmas far too much to be Scrooge.

Their Charleston is being danced to ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’, and opens with a comedy montage of Tom getting out of bed and falling into the scenery, before Oti comes along and helps him dance. It’s not really clear what her role is: the ghost of Christmas specials future, perhaps? I have to say, that although Tom is not exactly one of my favourite ever winners, he can dance, and this genre really does suit him. It has that slightly cheesy vibe that he suits quite well, and he is pretty light on his feet throughout. The theme doesn’t seem too bad either, as he is transformed from a curmudgeon into a cheerful bouncer, which does seem to fit the Scrooge theme. As with the recent series, Oti’s presence here only makes me want to see her get a decent partner next year so that we can see what she can do – as with Jo. I think they definitely saved the best two dances til last, although I do think Harry’s had the slight edge. My dad thought they were pretty equal, whilst my mum was Harry all the way - kind of not the way I expected her vote to go, to be honest.
Bruno says they were soaring with festive spirit and it was the crowning glory of a wonderful night. Craig says it was full of character and used every Charleston step in the book, with complex changes of weight and it was absolutely brilliant. Darcey says she wasn’t expecting that from a grumpy old man and they weren’t being stingy with the amount of dancing in there and the precision of it all. She thinks it was a brilliant Charleston. Len says if he was a real king, he’d knight Tom 'Sir Dancealot' because he’d come out with a full on, flat-out fabulous routine.

The audience loved it, as they have been loving everything tonight, although I don’t know whether that or Harry’s got the loudest reaction. My favourite part of them getting up to the Clauditorium is when Tom holds mistletoe over Claudia for ages before she reluctantly gives in and gives him a kiss. Tom says his family and friends all told him he should do the Charleston and he said he would love to do it, either with Aljaž or Oti. OK then. Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 40. Tom said he never got straight tens before, so that score was amazing. Claudia then gives them a cracker and Oti has no idea what to do with it - both Claudia and Tom offer her the end to pull and, adorably, she shakes it as if she was shaking its hand.

Shall we have a Christmas leaderboard?
Harry and Joanne 40
Tom and Oti 40
Abbey and Brendan 39
Lisa and Pasha 37
Cassidy and Natalie 35
Alison and Robin 31

So I think that is likely to be Harry vs Tom for the popular vote, and that Harry will take it. Tom then explains to Oti how to pull a cracker and she finally does so. For some reason, Janette and Karen have come in matching pink lady style costumes, with Karen wearing reindeer glasses. I think that has been rather a lot of festive spirit imbibed by the non-dancing pros tonight. We then get a recap, which I’m really not going to recap, before Blake and Shirley Bassey duet (/quartet?) on a very weird ballad version of ‘The Christmas Song’, replete with a Viennese waltz style dance from Anton and Joanne, which is lovely and classy, even though the arrangement of this song is kind of bizarre and turns a festive pop ditty into a funereal dirge. Sorry Shirl, but this is not doing it for me. Blame those three losers standing beside you. It then randomly goes into a jazzed up refrain just as you think it’s finished, and Bassey looks like she’s slightly embarrassed, and then they slow it down again and start singing all over each other, Shirley Bassey obviously dominating the other three. Good God that was an unholy mess, and didn’t sound too unlike a battle round from The Voice (Shirl would be team Tom, obvs, the other three haven’t got the raaaange).

We then see a random selection of celebs and pros: Kevin, Karen, Iwan, Georgia, Giovanni, Carol and Pasha, visiting a party for young carers. There is not really any comedy to be mined here, I’m afraid, what with it being a good cause and all that. The kids say they can’t wait to see everyone dance, but we only really get to see Kevin and Karen having a few twirls.  I would feel cheated if I were them. I mean, not cheated out of seeing Iwan dance, and maybe Carol, but apart from that. Then they all dance with the partygoers and Carol seems to really enjoy taking part in the conga, which is not particularly a surprise.

Results time: we get a little recap of a comment for each pair, before the winners are announced: Harry and Joanne. Well, that seemed deserved for a lovely, light very festive dance. But especially delicious is that, despite Kevin always being in the final of the show proper, Joanne is the first Clifton to take the trophy (albeit a non-canon Christmas trophy). Harry dedicates the win to Jo and neither of them seem to want to touch the trophy so it’s left to Tess to shove it in their hands for their winner moment. 

And if you think that’s it, you’re wrong! There’s always time for one last comedy VT, where Harry and Abbey are late for a Christmas dinner party blowout dance to ‘What Christmas Means to Me’ in which Harry and Abbey takes centre stage, dancing together. Do you think they were anticipating it would be between those two for the win? Brendan is playing the role of the drunk uncle who falls asleep because Anton was otherwise unavailable.

And that’s it for another year. We would wish you to keep dancing, but the message of this show seems to be not to bother, so we hope you had a great Christmas and have a fantastic 2016. We’ll see you sometime in the summer no doubt for a series culminating three-way final featuring Jo, Oti, Natalie and their ringers.  Or Kevin’s fourth final in a row, who can say?


Katy Boyer said...

Did they sing Celebration as it's rather tenuously a box of sweets...?

Rad said...

Oh God, I hadn't thought of that!

Penny said...

Yay! Thank-you for this. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and looking forward to your enjoyable acerbic reactions to Strictly 2016.

diane said...

Fab recap as always, looking forward to Strictly 2016.
Hope you had a great Christmas & New Year!

F a t i m a said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
F a t i m a said...

1) A bit mean of Lisa (and Pasha) not to mention Brendan even once. After all he did get her to the final where they scored a 40
2) "One of the most elegantly controlled waltzes I've seen at Christmas" – hilarious from Darcy, someone should be writing her some intentionally bitchy lines for next year
3) I think Harry's bum could have won by itself. It's the best one I've every seen on Strictly (at Christmas or otherwise)

Rad said...

The gossip in me is intrigued by whatever happened with Lisa and Brendan (if anything).

Darcey being more acerbic would be a welcome change from 'the boys are right' and 'saving him for his guns' and 'not giving a 10 because it's only week 3' and so on.

Thanks everyone for your reading and commenting, we appreciate it!

Kate Mark said...
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