Week 8: Top 8 Perform - 12 November 2016
Last week! The top nine contestants performed and Louise shot to the top of the leaderboard with a frankly filthy Argentine tango, while Danny and Ore did their best to prove they belong here after stumbling at Hallowe'en - with mixed results, as Danny managed to propel himself back up to second place while Ore found himself in the dance-off. Luckily he was there against Laura and her gammy ankle and her half-a-samba, so he survived to dance once more, and possibly even beyond that, who knows?
This week: is that week in the competition where nobody's really focusing on this week specifically, but rather focusing on next week, which is BLACKPOOL, so expect lots of VTs and interviews with everybody saying just how much they want to dance at BLACKPOOL. Even from Judge Rinder who, after being delightfully iconoclastic in his pre-series interviews, has now become a full Strictly pod person with his eyes misting over at the thought of the Golden Mile and deploying his emergency grandparents to make sure he gets there. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The pre-titles VT features lots of sad, colour-drained "just £2 a month"-style shots of the remaining celebrities talking about how much they want to be in BLACKPOOL next week and footage of them all training intensively. On the bright side: no terrible jokes or indifferently-acted skits.
Titles! I'm still convinced that the reason the voters never took to Tameka was her insistence on blocking our view of Gorka's lovely face.
In the studio, Tess and Claudia enter with Giovanni and Brendan as their respective escorts. Not in that sense, obviously, although Gethin did kind of imply on It Takes Two on Friday that this is what Giovanni has to do now he's no longer in the competition. Tess is in a bright red dress, which I think they should have coupled with green tights so she could be a human poppy for Remembrance Weekend, and Claudia is, of course, all in black. Tess points out that five couples got their highest scores of the competition last week (if you're wondering: Louise, Danny, Daisy, Judge Rinder and Ed - plus Greg tied his previous high score if you want to include that as well) and the audience half-heartedly ahhhs at the reminder that Laura went home last week, although I imagine a good third of them would still struggle to identify which one Laura was even if you gave them this year's cast photograph. The judges enter, and for some reason the camera lingers on Len for his entire walk to the judges' dais, even though his dance moves this week look like someone halfway down the garden path trying to remember if he picked up his keys or not.
Here are our BLACKPOOL-adjacent Strictly stars: Louise and Kevin, Judge Rinder and Oksana, Claudia and AJ, Ore and Joanne, Daisy and Aljaž, Greg and Natalie, Ed and Katya and Danny and Oti. I keep finding myself wanting to write "Oti and Danny" rather than the other way around, which I think says a lot about his contribution to that partnership. Also if you're wondering who's flashing a bit of chest this week in a grab for pre-BLACKPOOL votes, it's Aljaž first and foremost, with Ore, Greg and Danny all contributing to a lesser extent.
Opening the show tonight are Daisy and Aljaž. Tess reminds us that Daisy has both topped the leaderboard and been in the dance-off, so the competition has been a rollercoaster for her (you can see where this is going, can't you?) but the only rollercoaster she really wants to be on is The Big One at BLACKPOOL. You can just call him "Aljaž" you know, Tess. Daisy loved last weekend and says it's the most joyful she'd felt since week one. She was particularly excited not to be in the bottom two, and hopes that her time in the bottom two is over for a while. The Ironic Edits Divison is like "neauxp" and cuts to her training for her salsa which is not really a dance that favours tall, leggy models (Abbey Clancy being a notable exception, though of course she got around it by not actually doing a salsa). Aljaž tells her that at this point in the competition they really need to work hard and make the routine as complicated as possible, and Daisy shows her dedication by practising at home and marking out the rhythm by going "doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo salsa", bless her. Aljaž points out that the lifts are difficult because they're both so tall, and Daisy reminds us that she really wants to go to BLACKPOOL.
They're dancing to 'Groove Is In The Heart', both dressed as sexy flower children with Daisy opening the routine by emerging from Aljaž's camper van of forbidden passion. Apparently she couldn't wait until next week to ride the big one after all. They throw some standard party shapes and Aljaž does a turn so spectacularly ugly that I had to watch it four times to make sure he didn't actually trip up (he didn't, it was just deeply questionable choreography) and then they get into some salsa moves. As predicted, it's not really a dance that suits Daisy terribly well - the length of her legs just highlights how languidly they are moving, and there's not really much flow from one move into the next. It is, however, delightfully camp to watch and they're both clearly having a blast, and it is nice to have a comedy routine that is tongue-in-cheek rather than playing right to the back of the room. I think she did the best she could with a dance that was never really going to work well for her, but I also think it's very unlikely she'll be avoiding the dance-off again with that one.
Daisy giggles her way over to Tess, saying how much fun she had doing that dance - which is good, because I don't imagine it'll be the last time she has to do it. Tess welcomes the brilliant singers, who start doing the 'Gangnam Style' dance - Christ, everyone, don't blow your load over that routine too early, eh? Len opens for the judges by saying he was twitching and gyrating all the way through it. Hopefully there'll be a chance for him to sort out his wedgie before the next couple dance, then. He thinks they came out and sold it, though there was a "little blunder" in there, but he praises her for dancing through it. Bruno loved the legs, the lifts and the hips, and says that it was a very tasty salsa of which Mary Berry would approve - this being a shameless opportunity to highlight the fact that Dame Mary is indeed in the audience tonight. Bruno says that some of the lifts and dismounts were difficult and that's why she occasionally lost balance, and he would "almost like to see it again". Show of hands everyone who thinks he's going to get his wish? Craig, however, thought it was haphazard and disjointed - the lifts were great, but the transitions were sticky getting in and out of them. He does love how supple Daisy is, though. Darcey finishes by saying that Daisy caught the attitude and spirit of the salsa, but she needs to soften her knees and possibly get some shorter legs from somewhere. Thanks Darce.
Somewhere between the start of the routine and now, Aljaž has opened his shirt even more, presumably in the hope that a nip slip might be worth a few extra votes. They flash their way up to the Clauditorium where Daisy says that she loved the routine, and it was such fun just going out and having a party on the dance floor. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 8, Len 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 31. There's a brief shriek of "what?!" for the seven, although I think that score is about right overall? At least on the curve of this year's judging, anyway. This being the first dance of the night, it's time for our weekly terms and conditions gimmick, which this time comes in the form of a mariachi band.
This week's occupants of The Death Slot (which hasn't actually been that death-y this year because the only person it's taken out is Lesley, but I still don't trust it) are Greg and Natalie with their paso doble. In their VT, Greg thinks that last week was one of their best performances, and he was really happy with how it went and he hopes Natalie is too. Tess's VO tells us that "this week Natalie is teaching Greg how to be a manly matador", and I love the implication that Natalie is teaching Greg how to be manly. Natalie tells us that Greg needs to create a lot of shaping and resistance throughout the body. Greg admits that he'd hoped he would pick this dance up quickly, but actually he's finding it difficult, which is standard Strictly code for "lower your expectations everyone, this one's going to be a snoozer". Still, Natalie says he's giving it his all in every run-through, and Greg vents that he's getting quite frustrated when he can't get it right, but he's going to give it his all and try to be a matador.
They're dancing to 'Tamacun' by Rodrigo y Gabriela, and Natalie opens the routine with some high-level skirt-swishing. Greg removes her shawl and does a bit of ersatz-caping with it, which I think was a bad choice by Natalie - if you're going to do caping, then do it properly, otherwise it just looks naff, as it does here. Once they get into hold and start dancing it doesn't improve much, sadly - Greg looks a little too up on the balls of his feet, and doesn't seem particularly in time with the music either. Also he's putting so much work into his stern matador face that it gets a little pouty and about halfway through I start getting genuinely concerned that he's forgetting to actually breathe. That's not to say it's not still an enjoyable routine on some levels - there is some lovely choreography here and some good shaping, and as has been the case for the last couple of weeks, what Greg lacks in technique he makes up for in performance and commitment to the theming, but I suspect it has gone much better in rehearsals than it is going right now. (Still, his arse looks cracking in those trousers, that's worth at least a couple of votes from me.)
It goes down well in the studio at least, and Greg's too out of breath to talk to Tess afterwards, which I like to think is a life hack they've all started doing on purpose. I know I would. Bruno loved the virility of it all (as he would) and he loves that it was actually a very complicated routine with a lot of work in hold and difficult music to follow, but Greg lost the shaping at times and he needs to remember the artistry. "Artistry takes years to learn," chirps Tess, as if she'd know. Craig says that there was an air of panic about it to him that made it appear stiff, and he went off on the wrong foot near the judges at one point and he was off the beat, but there is a bright side to it - he loved the strong, deep lunges, the robust appel and the stag leap, and overall he thought it was a powerful performance. Darcey says that Greg has the perfect stature with natural strength, but she thinks he gave it a little bit too much this week. She wants him to lift his eye level, but she loves how into the performance he was. Len finishes by saying that there was plenty of aggression and attack, but it just lost a bit of finesse in the technique.
Up in the Clauditorium, Claudia squees that Greg is so adorable because when he's getting the feedback he's all "yep, right, yep, Natalie said that", but my favourite revelation is that apparently Paso Superfan AJ leapt to his feet at the end and said "I'm gonna tell him!", which I think is a good thing? Natalie says that Greg did everything that she asked, and he couldn't have done a better job in her eyes. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 8, Len 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 31. I love that we've only had two dances and there's already a tie on the leaderboard.
Next is my favourite part of the entire show by a long way: Tess introduces Judge Rinder and Oksana from a seat in the audience between his grandparents who either didn't get the memo that they're supposed to wait until they're spoken to before speaking, or did get it and just don't care (I suspect the latter) - either way, his grandparents yammer away all the way through Tess's piece to camera and Tess reacts about as well as she always does when people go off-script. My favourite bit is when his Grandma Frances turns to Tess and says "I watch your husband on telly." Best nan since both of Alesha's, hands down.
Anyway, Judge Rinder and Oksana loved last week on the show, particularly getting a nine from Darcey. This week they've got the foxtrot and Oksana is explaining the intricate technicalities of it in training. Judge Rinder says that he's learning to properly lead this week, but as long as he can remember everything, he hopes it will go well.
They're dancing to 'You Make Me Feel So Young', and dressed as he is in a blazer, cream slacks and the ugliest pair of shoes I have seen in months, I think Judge Rinder's already getting into character for BLACKPOOL as a deckchair supervisor. He's got his face under control this week and there's a lovely lightness to the routine - it feels smooth and elegant and effortless. I quite like that after going for the comedy vote for the first half of the series, it's clearly clicked for either him or Oksana that they're going to be directly competing with Ed for that voting bloc and probably coming off worse, so they've decided instead to go for technique and make it clear that actually they are not here to fuck about, and you know what? I kind of like it. It's no secret that I'm not the world's biggest fan of foxtrots, but this was really enjoyable to watch.
Tess tells Judge Rinder that he's probably made Harry and Frances very proud, and Judge Rinder absolutely goes for broke by saying that "whatever's going on in the world, we're here because that generation were there for us". I think his grandparents are slightly too young to be co-opted for Remembrance points, but I can see why you might as well give it a go, it's not as if people are going to bother to look up their dates of birth. Craig tells him that his heel leads need more drive and power and it lacked swing and sway, but he's improved his face "for the first time" and he could look at him and enjoy himself for once. Judge Rinder replies "let me know when that happens for you, Craig" which I assume was a response to the "improved your face" part otherwise it doesn't really make any sense, and Craig snorts back "I haven't scored you yet, darling, so that was a stupid move." (I'm pretty sure the judges have to confirm their scores before they even give their comments so that the visual effects team have time to get the graphics ready, but let's just go with it anyway.) Darcey says that he improves each week, and she can see the effort he's put into it. She thinks he really stretched himself this week, and created flow and glide in his movements. She also noticed that he kept his shoulders down, so well done for that. Len thinks it was like a Mary Berry soufflé - light and fluffy and with no soggy bottom. Jesus, we get it, MARY BERRY IS HERE. [Unlike that TRAITOR Paul Hollywood who's left out in the cold round the bins at the back with nowt but piles of unsold soggy Clarkson-Hammond-May and Evans-LeBlanc-all-them-other-ones standees for company - Rad] (Also, why would a soufflé even have a soggy bottom in the first place?) He also disagrees with Craig about the heel leads - he had them right, but it was more the transition into the next step that was the problem, but that's only if Len is being "finicky-winicky" - it was his best dance. Bruno compliments him on being smart and well turned-out, and he thinks that he clearly worked hard this week to get it right and "overall you did", but he lost a bit of flow at times. He thinks he's seeing Robert this week, rather than "Judge Rinder". Bless.
"Robert" and Oksana skip their way up to the Clauditorium, where Claudia says that it must mean so much to get comments like that in front of his grandparents. Yes, I'm sure Harry and Frances were overjoyed to hear 'you finally got your crazy face under control' and 'you didn't have a soggy bottom', those will be going in the Christmas round robin. "Robert" says that his grandma tried to teach him to dance years ago and didn't succeed, possibly because her method didn't involve improving his television profile, and this is the one dance that he came here to do. So does he want to go home now then? Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 8 for a total of 33. The best part of this is Len doing his tiresome "BLERP BLERP IT'S A NINE!" schtick where he wants to be seen to be "correcting" Craig's score, only to be immediately followed by Bruno going "...eight" very demurely (by Bruno's standards, anyway) [+1 - I properly cackled at this - Rad]. Claudia points out that Judge Rinder's scores have never gone down, and also that was his first nine from Len. Judge Rinder says that Len has the "technical, legal eye" (lol bokay then) so that in particular means a lot to him. Yeah, screw you Darcey! Your nine is meaningless now!
Up next we have Ore and Joanne, who will be doing a rumba to John Legend's 'Ordinary People'. Ore says that he was looking forward to doing the salsa last week, but "nothing can prepare you for that red light" (ie the one that means you're in the dance-off), and it was his lowest low of the competition so far. Well yes, that's pretty much what it means. He says that your life flashes before your eyes when you're one dance away from going home (even if you're up against Laura). He thinks the rumba this week is a big challenge because it's slow and controlled, but still requires a lot of technique. Joanne tells him there are a lot of technical elements he has to remember - no heels, straight legs, feet turned out, don't do anything too contempowafty or earn the ire of Len - and also that it's a romantic dance, which Ore points out will be tricky for them as Best Mates What What We'll Have No Curse Of Strictly Here. They demonstrate this further as they both collapse giggling when Ore tries to caress Joanne's face during training, but Ore vows to get serious so he doesn't end up in the dance-off again.
Now, I know nobody's really here for blokerumbas, but I actually really like them (especially now I've had a couple of dance lessons and have a vague idea what it's supposed to look like) and I think Ore acquits himself really well here. There are a few sticky moments, like a backward drag that isn't anywhere near as smooth as it should be, but overall it's graceful and sensual and well-performed. Also I think Jo looks really stunning tonight, as long as you don't pay too much attention to the lower-half of her dress which looks a bit half-finished. I think this is actually one of Ore's better dances of the series, one where he's got the technique more or less down and he's performing at the right level of intensity. Maybe it's not a crowdpleaser, but I really liked it.
Tess tells Ore he looked very dishy doing that dance, and throws in an extra "difficult dance for men" for good measure. Darcey compliments him on the tenderness of the routine, rather than the raw sex element, and she loved his arms which come from his back rather than just from his shoulders. Len was impressed by the timing, because on the rumba you have to dance on the second beat rather than the first, and with only a piano and a vocal to guide him, Ore kept time beautifully. He would've liked to see Ore push his heel through his calf (sounds painful), but apart from that it was great. Bruno loved the tonality and the way Ore expressed the song through his body as well as the tender connection with Joanne. Craig thought he hit the dance too hard and lost a bit of fluidity, but it was very expressive and evocative.
On their way up to the Clauditorium, Joanne tells Ore how proud she is of him, and Ore says he was getting emotional at the end and everyone's all "oh god, here he goes". Heh. He says it was a hard dance, but he loved doing it. Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 35, tying him with Danny for the highest rumba score of the series so far.
After a quick preview of what's coming up later on the show, it's over to Ed and Katya, who are dancing to 'Gangnam Style' this week. You may not have heard about that, the show has kept it very quiet. In his VT, Ed repeats that line he's been playing all week about how this was the first time people were talking about his dancing rather than the entertainment value, which is odd considering that last week's routine was about 70 per cent "entertainment value" and absolute maximum 30 per cent quickstep, but never mind. Ed tells us that they will be doing "a seltzer" this week. Bodes well. Their training VT is all about how wacky and unpredictable Ed is in his interpretation of her choreo, and they go on to explain how they'd planned a move where Ed falls backwards onto Katya, because apparently she hasn't diced with death enough yet this series. Ed promises that whatever happens this weekend, it won't be dull. Well, there's a first time for everything I suppose.
I will start with the positives: despite pretty much all of the training footage focusing on the lifts and the official 'Gangnam Style' dance, there is actually a fair bit of salsa at the top of the routine. Certainly more salsa than we ever got from Will Young. It's not danced terribly well, but at least it's there. Then it all descends into madness as Ed throws himself crotch-first at Katya, knocking her to the ground as she holds onto his thighs while kicking out, and crab-running from one side of the floor to the other. Once again I can't help but applaud Katya for her sheer fearlessness when it comes to the lifts, because every single one leaves just a hair's breadth between "success" and "concussion", but if people are going to insist on telling me each week about how Ed is "really improving" and "actually trying to dance", routines like this aren't going to be what persuades me. (Also: Ed was on The Last Leg this week claiming that his routines are some kind of antidote to what's happening in the real world with the Trumpocalypse upon us, as opposed to yet another example of talented women being rejected in favour of a mediocre white man taking the piss. I remain unmoved.)
It gets a standing ovation of course, and Tess applauds the band for singing in Korean. Len says that there are no words in the dictionary to describe what he has just witnessed, but what he loves is the sense of anticipation before Ed dances. Not least by the paramedics on standby in the wings for Katya. Len loves watching Ed for his entertainment value, and he thinks something will be missing from the show if Ed doesn't make it to BLACKPOOL. Bruno said it left him feeling "queasy and queer" - so business as usual then? He thinks it was like one of those dishes that you know is going to give you indigestion, but you lap it up anyway. He declares it "the best worst dance I've seen". Craig offers up three letters: "OMG". Darcey says it will go down in Strictly history. Oh, I don't doubt it'll be right there in every montage of "FUNNIEST DANCES EVER LOL!!!!!11!" right next to Russell Grant being shot out of a cannon, while Nancy Dell'Olio's salsa and Alison Hammond's American smooth remain woefully underappreciated.
Up in the Clauditorium, Claudia points out that Ed's little brother Andrew appears to have been scarred for life by what he's just seen. Scores: Craig 4, Darcey 7, Len 8, Bruno 6 for a total of 25. Len's so checked out, isn't he? He just doesn't care any more. [Except about people HAVING A GO at him even when they're not - Rad]
The couple with the unenviable task of having to follow that are Claudia and AJ. Tess opens for them by saying that we're all enjoying Claudia's Strictly experience, but not as much as Claudia herself is, which sounds like a bit of a burn if you think about it too long. Last week's paso went down well, and AJ and his flyaway training hair (which is my favourite version of AJ, if anyone's wondering) say that although they were mid-table they still survived, and they just have to keep their heads down and get to BLACKPOOL. Claudia vows to give it everything. In training, Claudia struggles to pronounce "fleckerl" and says that it's hard to be graceful and floaty when you're a gymnast, so she has to find her "inner loveliness". Someone's been hanging out with Anastacia. AJ says that they can't do any lifts this week, so they're going for a freefall spin at the end, and Claudia says that it's hard for her because she has to keep one toe on the ground if she doesn't want to piss Len off.
They're dancing to 'Breakaway' by Kelly Clarkson, which is an excellent music choice, and it's all very lovely and pretty, but it doesn't quite have the impact I was expecting it to, considering how good it looked in their training footage. It just feels a little bit slower than it should be, and perhaps just a bit too gentle? Maybe they're suffering from being right behind Ed in the running order and our brains not having quite readjusted from what we've just witnessed, but it feels rather 'pleasant but forgettable', which is a shame because I was really looking forward to this one.
Claudia tells Tess she's a bit dizzy afterwards, and Bruno tells them that they're "adorable" and "the cutest couple in the land" to get our infantilisation of the week out of the way. He liked how they went out of the fleckerl right on the breath. Craig loved their movement around the floor, but Claudia is occasionally spotting the floor when she's out of hold. He thought it was gorgeous, though. Darcey calls her "Clawdia" (yikes) and says that there was a lovely, romantic feeling between the two of them throughout and it was all very smooth and serene. Len concludes by saying it had grace, maturity and wonderful style.
In the Clauditorium, Claudia W asks if this was difficult because gymnastics is all about learning to stop, whereas this was all about creating a continuous flow. Apparently AJ has been telling Claudia F to "stop being gymnasticky" all week. Scores: unanimous nines for a total of 36. Claudia W tells us that Claudia F has never been to BLACKPOOL.
The seventh couple of the night are Danny and Oti with an Argentine tango to a Marvin Gaye song. Tess says that she thinks it will be good because she "heard it through the grapevine', and the audience jeers. Ha! In their VT, Oti gloats about how well the jive went, and says that since having fun worked for Danny last week, they'll need to keep having fun. In this dance, he'll have to be a strong, masculine character. Danny asks if that means he has to be angry all the time - all right there, Captain Toxic Masculinity - and Oti says no, he'll need to express a lot of different emotions. Danny's concerned about all the intertwining leg flicks because the routine has the potential to be really good. Oti says she'll be devastated if it goes wrong on the night.
It opens with a ringing phone on the stage which Danny goes to answer before suddenly dropping it and going off to slink his way around an Argentine tango. It looks a bit like he's a sleeper agent who's just been given his activation trigger, although maybe I've been watching too many Marvel movies. The arrangement of 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' to fit an Argentine tango just about works, but the tempo feels too fast overall, which makes the performance feel too fast and frantic. There are sections that are lovely and sharp, but there are also sections that feel rushed and sloppy in the footwork. I'm disappointed, because I think Danny could've done an amazing Argentine tango with a better soundtrack, whereas this is just a quite-good one. Oti's clearly thrilled with how it went though.
Craig says that Danny needs a bit more of an A-frame and he needs to lead with the solar plexus rather than the arms, and it was a bit too aggressive for his liking, but it was incredible all the same. Darcey says it was "frantic and busy" (oof) and she agrees with Craig, it was too aggressive. She would've liked a story through the moves with more intensity and desire, and she thinks it was too hard to do it at that speed. Len says that normally he likes the Argentine tango to be small and intimate, but the clarity of movement and precision throughout that dance converted him - he thought it was brilliant. Bruno thinks Danny's on the boil (geddit?) with a raging passion, and he thinks this dance is about storytelling - this story was about an argument. He thought the ganchos and the precision made it a killer Argentine tango.
After they climb up to the balcony, Oti says that they were both nervous about this dance, but Danny did so well. Danny says that Oti's supported him through a very tough week this week, and dedicates the routine to his dad. I don't actually know what's going on with his dad, and Google doesn't seem to know either, but credit to him for keeping it quiet and not milking it for votes, anyway. Scores: Craig 9, Darcey 9, Len 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 38.
That leaves Louise and Kevin to close the show. Last week's Argentine tango was a real moment for them, and Louise is "chuffed to bits" that it went well. This week they have the "American smooth foxtrot" - "okay, so are they not all foxtrot?" asks Louise. I know what she means, but it would be hilarious if she'd thought every single dance she'd done so far was a foxtrot. Kevin says that the judges will be getting really critical by this stage (dare to dream, Kevin, dare to dream) and Louise says that they'll be dropping in a bit of Fosse-inspired choreography - which she's always loved watching, but she doesn't quite know if she can do it or not. Kevin says the routine is also quite slow in the footwork, so the judges will be able to see everything. Louise finishes the VT by saying that it was great to do so well last week, but now she needs to go out and fight to get to BLACKPOOL.
They're dancing to 'Big Spender' so inevitably it is camp as hell. It begins with Louise wafting a load of feathers around and high-kicking, and it doesn't get any less gloriously theatrical as it goes on. It's great, after so many weeks of seeing Louise being technically skilled but not really bringing the performance element home, watching her really come to life in a routine like this. Kevin's choreography is excellent and uses all the accents of the music perfectly. My only real criticism is that it could've used a better end pose, because like a few of Kevin's routines (Kellie Bright's charleston springs to mind), it sort of fizzles out after 90 seconds of pure drama, but other than that: dance of the night for me, easily. [I was a bit underwhelmed - I think it could have been bigger and more spectacular, like it was aiming for the campest, showiest, Bassey-ist dance ever, but only got about 80% of the way there - Rad]
Darcey tells Louise that she looked the part and danced the part - it was the perfect routine for her. There were a few moments in lifts where her shoulders crept up, but that's the only real criticism that Darcey has to offer. Len tells Louise that it's a terrific dance to choreograph to, and all of that was on the money - big spender, big attitude, and he thinks she's going to get a big score. Bruno loved how she vamped it up, having a "leading lady diva" moment - he thinks there was so much in the dance, the way she picked up all of the accents with all of the subtle intonations of her performance. Craig finishes by saying his cork was well and truly popping - he loves her musicality, he loved the elements of jazz in there, and the way that Kevin showed Louise off rather than showing himself off. He thought it was beautifully judged, though that might just be Craig congratulating himself, who knows?
Claudia's line of questioning afterwards is all about how much work it takes Louise to get into character and stop feeling self-conscious, and Louise says that they probably have to spend more time on that than on the dance itself (lol ringer) because she feels silly trying to play a character on her own in a cold training room on a Monday morning. Claudia points out that the judges all praised Kevin's choreography as well, and Kevin asks why he wouldn't show off Louise, because look at her? I hope this is everyone just trying to massively shade Giovanni for that spin section last week. Scores: Craig 9, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 10 for a total of 37. Joanne and Karen start jumping down and shouting "undermarked! Undermarked!" and I personally agree (or at least some of the dances tonight were overmarked, because by my reckoning this should have had a clear lead on everyone else), but I also think it's stuff like this that gets people's backs up about the Clifton Clique trying to big each other up all the time.
So here's that overall scoreboard:
1. Danny & Oti - 38
2. Louise & Kevin - 37
3. Claudia & AJ - 36
4. Ore & Joanne - 35
5. Judge Rinder & Oksana - 33
6=. Daisy & Aljaž - 31
6=. Greg & Natalie - 31
8. Ed & Katya - 25
So that's it! An interesting lack of ties this week, which makes things slightly more difficult for the people at the bottom. I think Ed's probably fine, all things considered, so my money's on a Daisy vs Greg dance-off, and I think it could potentially go either way. My instinct is that they'd probably send Greg home, but it may well come down to the actual performance on the night. Wouldn't that be a turn-up for the books? Join us tomorrow (hopefully, work schedules permitting) for the results...