Week 6: Top 10 Results (Hallowe'en Week) - 30 October 2016
The show opens with another dry-ice drenched pro routine, this time to a slow, mournful arrangement of 'In The Air Tonight', starring Kevin and Karen as a young couple wandering around a haunted house where Kevin keeps trying to put the willies up his better half by pretending to be a ghost or a zombie, only to confront Actual Vampire Brendan who compels Karen to run towards him before sending Kevin off to sleep and biting Karen's neck. Karen desperately tries to free herself as Brendan's dark army appear, and there follows a desperate battle between Kevin and Brendan for Karen's virginal goodness (she's wearing a long white dress, you see), ultimately won by Brendan as Karen gets carried off by a load of demons in black lace-effect shirts waving red hankies and Kevin arrives just in time to find that Karen's been turned into a clock, or possibly lost her eternal soul to hell, or something. Anyway, Oti throws a red hanky at him and Kevin looks sad, THE END.
As if to demonstrate that the clock is indeed THE DIRECT GATEWAY TO HELL [as if Phil Collins wasn't cue enough - Rad], the next thing we see is Tess emerging from it. Scream! Fire rock salt at it! Draw a devil's trap on the floor! Claudia follows her out and seals the portal before Cthulhu can emerge and drive us all insane as we stare upon him, although after last night we've probably got less to lose than most people. Tess and Claudia encourage us to get ready to lose one more couple tonight, and the judges are re-introduced, all four of them in black this time, though Craig is wearing that evil-hand-on-the-shoulder red brooch that he's so fond of. Oh, and Craig and Darcey are both sporting devil horns - his red, hers black.
Behind the scenes recap: Laura jokes about having gone very subtle with the make-up this week, Greg grins that he's never been to a Hallowe'en party so this is a big deal for him, Claudia has also never dressed up for Hallowe'en before and is very excited about getting to be a witch, a fully made-up Ore stands next to Ed, who jokes that Ore isn't dressing up for Hallowe'en, Daisy giggles that she's afraid of herself right now, Judge Rinder says that going out there and dancing is so scary that it might as well be Hallowe'en every week, even the production staff in the gallery have been forced into silly costumes, and Len promises that the evening will be "spook-tacular". Judge Rinder loved getting a standing ovation and wishes he could get one every day, Daisy says that she's not very good at being tough but she's been trying really hard, Ore cringes that this is not the outfit to be wearing when you mess up because you already look daft, Brendan tells Anastacia that he liked her flicks and kicks even if nobody else did, Greg reassures Natalie that he loved the rumba and it was a brilliant dance, Danny is really frustrated that he went wrong, Ed and Katya appear to have developed a secret handshake, Louise still comes across as mildly sedated, Claudia is ecstatic and Laura and Giovanni are just screaming.
Back in the studio, Tess has the cue cards of doom and the following four couples are safe and through to next week: Judge Rinder and Oksana, Greg and Natalie, Ed and Katya, and Claudia and AJ. The first couple in the dance-off is...Daisy and Aljaž. Ooof. Daisy looks crestfallen (at least I think she does, it's hard to tell under all that make-up) but troops dutifully over to Tess, who is in full-on nauseating sympathetic baby-voice throughout, telling Daisy that she's so sowwy to see her here again and cooing "ooh, she's breathing deeply and very fast" like, could we not find somebody to do this job who can process actual human emotions? I really think a Speak Your Weight Machine would do a better job than Tess at this point. Daisy struggles to catch her breath but composes herself and says that she wants to give that dance more attack, and now she has a chance to do so. Bruno says he's stunned to see Daisy here again, and that she shouldn't change a thing. Because everything's working so well for her this far, with two consecutive appearances in the bottom two? I feel bad for Daisy, considering that even Anastacia managed a bottom two bounce in that week where she was briefly Anastacia The Injury Faker, Destroyer Of Dreams, Most Hated Woman In Britain. I think what might have hurt Daisy this week was that Ore and Danny, the two identified frontrunners, were in the bottom half of the leaderboard, leaving their fans to scramble wildly to keep them in the competition in a way they've not really had to so far, combined with the outraged fans (among whom I count myself) [and me, though I did also send a vote Daisy's way - Rad] who powervoted for Greg and Natalie because Craig made Natalie cry/because Greg has a smashing arse, so I think the spare votes that may have gone to Poor Daisy Who Was In The Bottom Two Last Week got hoovered up elsewhere, and with Laura both high enough on the leaderboard to be realistically out of danger and perceived generally to have had one of the best dances of the night, I suppose Daisy's return to the dance-off was inevitable. I mean I'm sure it's not much consolation to her but basically a load of reasonably unpredictable things happened at the same time and she was shit out of luck. Other than Anastacia still being in the competition and being easily beatable in a dance-off, I mean.
(Sidebar lol: leaving Danny and Ore - and their fans - to sweat it out until the second round of cue cards when we all know the other person in the bottom two is Anastacia, because come on.)
Up in the Clauditorium, Judge Rinder says that he just wants to get better each week, and the professionals work so hard to make them better each week. For someone who was so arch and off-message at the beginning of the series (remember when he didn't care about Blackpool?), he suddenly seems to have come over all earnest, doesn't he? Greg says that his confidence took a knock this week because he and Natalie put their heart and soul into this routine, and it was a blow then to get the same score that they got the week before (they actually got two points more, but I get the general point he's making), but he calls the public who voted for him "a wonderful bunch" and says he hopes everyone enjoyed it, because he and Natalie are both trying very hard. Claudia F is now back in gymnastics training for the British Championships in March, and she thinks it's going to get confusing but she'll be fine. Ed is really pleased not to have been bottom of the leaderboard this week, and thanks the costume and make-up people because Brendan isn't here at the moment. [Ooh, I bet Brendan was spitting feathers at that. Or whatever the vampire bat equivalent is - Rad]
Our musical interlude this week comes from Laura Mvula, who is covering 'Ready Or Not' by the Fugees for some reason. [Badly. I kind of want Laura Mvula to work cos she looks amazing and has a great name, but I have yet to encounter a song of hers I can stand, and this was a bloody racket and came without the hilarious/amazing rap breaks, so also completely pointless - Rad] She also appears to have brought her own dancers with her. That's not really in the spirit of things, Laura Mvula, especially in these tough times when poor Chloe has got nothing to do as it is. Still, it's a bit livelier than your average Strictly musical interlude and almost certainly more likely to confuse anyone over the age of about 50, and I'm all in favour of that.
Things I am less in favour of: Len's Lens, which is up next. We watch Len and Craig descending in their ghost train car in slo-mo, with Len saying that Craig is a veteran of flying in on things for Hallowe'en, but he's never done it before. After that, it's on to Claudia's footwork in her American smooth and, as I predicted yesterday, Len showing us what a three-step looks like. I'm getting the hang of this, guys! Darcey looks over Danny's stumble and slo-mo makes it abundantly clear just how hard Oti is yanking him upwards by the arms to keep him on-balance. It's not quite Natalie grabbing Scott Maslen by the neck in his American smooth, but it's still pretty good. Craig applauds Judge Rinder's knee walks and his toned-down facial expressions, then there follows some of the worst editing I have ever seen on BBC1 as Claudia (offscreen) says "thank you so much!" and audience applause is rapidly faded in while we remain on Craig's face and Claudia (still offscreen) throws to Bruno. No idea what was going on there, but it appears to have been held together with vinegar and brown paper. Bruno talks about Laura's tango, which is one of those routines that doesn't really benefit from being played in slow-motion, but Bruno stans for her all the same, bless him. Then we finish by laughing at Ed Balls' cha cha cha being replayed with his mic on, and listening to him going "Ooh! Ah! Ooh! Ah!", which frankly I could have done without. Forever.
Then it's back to Tess to find out exactly how long they're going to keep Ore and Danny waiting to hear they're safe. The following acts are through: Louise and Kevin, Ore and Joanne, Laura and Giovanni (who I think were starting to get quite worried despite everything) and of course Danny and Oti, leaving Anastacia and Brendan in the dance-off. "I knew that," says Anastacia matter-of-factly, and who among us didn't? Tess asks her what's going through her head right now, Anastacia says "that I didn't do kicks and flicks", and Tess tries to make a noise that a sympathetic person might make but misses by several thousand yards. Darcey tells Anastacia that she just needs to get her weight forward and get onto the balls of her feet, and get the retraction into the kicks. Yeah, I'm sure she'll manage that in the next five minutes.
The other four safe couples are up in the Clauditorium, and Laura giggles about poor Joanne being stuck sitting between her and Ore, the two biggest blubbers on the show. She says that everyone's so close this year, and everyone else is all "who's she again? I swear she wasn't here last week. Is it Will Young in a wig?" Ore's got the salsa next week, which he's pleased about because he doesn't have to wear that horrible facial hair any more. Wait until he finds out that the song he's been given is 'You Should Consider Having Sex With A Bearded Man' by The Beards. Danny tries to get philosophical about his mistakes, while Oti clearly needs a bit more time for closure. Louise is doing an Argentine tango next week and isn't quite sure what one of those is, but just gets a lot of sharp intakes of breath whenever anyone else talks about it.
After a suitably spooky plug for It Takes Two, both of the endangered couples are hovering on the edge of the Clauditorium. Anastacia says she's really excited about doing the dance again, and she's going to kick and flick her way through Meat Loaf, just like Len wants her to do. Brendan tells her - and also Daisy and Aljaž - to just go out there and do their best, lol he's so checked out already. As Anastacia and Brendan take their place on the floor, Daisy says she's going to try and be tougher and give it more shaping, and Aljaž says that she did the charleston so well in the dance-off last week, and she just needs to do the same with the paso. Tess does another big "awwwww!" and Claudia takes a big step away from her, and I like to think those two things are directly related.
Anastacia and Brendan and the Hoverboard reprise their jive, and Anastacia clearly is trying to put a bit more welly in the kicks and flicks, though I think that ends up making the whole thing a bit more lethargic than it was the first time round because she's focusing so hard on hoofing that she's not so light on her feet. After that, Daisy and Aljaž reprise their paso, and she's definitely sterner and more aloof this time round, so it's been a good week for people actually taking on board the judges' feedback in the dance-off - though the bit where Aljaž throws her through his legs at the end goes a bit wrong and she crashes on her arse rather awkwardly.
Craig says he wants to save the more powerful and best dance of the night, which came from Daisy and Aljaž. Darcey says that this was a hard choice to make, but she would like to save Daisy and Aljaž for their dance quality and performance. Bruno says that both contestants really put up a fierce fight, which he liked, but he would like to pick the couple who provided more content and quality, and that was Daisy and Aljaž. Len's opinion is surplus to requirements, but Len would have saved Daisy and Aljaž as well, he says.
So Daisy and Aljaž are through and Anastacia and Brendan are going home. Tess asks Anastacia what her highlight has been, and while Anastacia's getting her breath back Brendan fills by saying "don't say dancing with Gorka!" Heh. Anastacia gets a bit choked up and says that this was a place for her "to get to know my female" (that's no way to talk about Brendan) and tells everyone on the show that they are amazing, and Brendan is amazing for everything he's done for her. Then Anastacia sings "I'm not outta love! With Strictly UK, yeah!" I bet her poetry slams are quite something. Brendan says that the programme will miss Anastacia, and so will he. And so will I! I'm pleased that after a rather uncomfortable start to the competition she managed to stay in long enough to turn things around to the point where nobody cares about The Dance-Off That Wasn't any more and go out with at least two genuinely impressive dances under her belt (I know the quickstep was everyone's favourite but I did really love her rumba). They have a final dance to 'Moonlight Shadow', and the way that Daisy literally runs in to give Anastacia a big hug is rather lovely.
Reaction VTs: Danny thinks it doesn't get any easier, and says that he adored Anastacia, Claudia F says she was an amazing person who always looked after her, Judge Rinder says that she was "extraordinary" and it's very sad to see her go, Daisy is grateful to be here for another week, Greg thinks it's getting very difficult now we're down to nine couples, Louise is so happy to have survived another week, Ed is pleased to have done his best dance, Laura isn't sure what a samba is but she's got one next week, and Ore's so happy to get to keep this experience rolling on.
Next week: the remaining nine couples dance once more, we'll probably lose either Laura or Daisy, and the judges will almost certainly kick off about it. Rad will be here to guide you all through it.