Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Hip Hip Ore!

The Final: 17 December 2016

Hello and welcome back! So, we have survived 15 pro-celebrity dance pairings; Halloween, musical and movie weeks; week before Blackpool week, BLACKPOOL week, Blackpool hangover week; many quite excellent quicksteps and several terrible tangos; and last week, two dance week, which saw off Claudia and AJ.

Tonight! Just three couples remain: Danny and Oti; Louise and Kevin; Ore and Joanne - they probably weren’t the three I would have locked on for the final from the very first episode, simply by virtue of Will being in the cast, but once he left, I think we established quite early on that these three were going to be the ones to beat, combining technical skill with popularity in a way that it was clear none of the others, except possibly late-stage Claudia, were going to match. [Although Ore's popularity had a bit of a question mark hanging over it, given his two visits to the dance-off. - Steve] Over the course of this series, all three of them have turned in some excellent dances and have all also come across well in interviews. Obviously Danny has been the most consistent as well as being the overall most gifted, but he is also the biggest ringer and that doesn’t always translate into a win - just ask Denise Van Outen or Natalie Gumede. Hollyoaks plus talent doesn’t always equal the win either – ask Ricky Whittle. [Or Ali Bastian - Steve] Having never hit the bottom two, Louise could possibly be seen as the favourite going into the evening, but Ore has a JOURNEY on his side, having never danced at all, no, not ever, what do you mean that Comic Relief thing, as well as probably having stronger standout dances than Louise, despite a lower standard of achievement across the series as a whole. What I’m saying is that it’s a pretty open final (and anyone of them winning would make more sense than when Abbey Clancy won, not that we’re still bitter about that or anything). I have voted for all three of these finalists at least once during the series, have enjoyed dances from all of them and think they all seem like nice people, plus I’m from Grimsby (which has not been mentioned anywhere near enough this year after the overload of Kevin’s first series) and I’m in awe of Oti, so I would be quite happy for anyone to win tonight. [I went into the finale feeling much the same way - I was backing Louise, but also that I was happy for any of them to win and potentially any one of them could get my vote on the night depending on how the final went, and that's something I haven't felt for a while. - Steve] Another thing I’m happy about? A three couple final. Hooray! 

We open with a reminder of call of the celebrities we have loved and lost in 2016. No, no, not like every news bulletin we’ve had in this godforsaken year, this just refers to the contestants who’ve been knocked out of the competition, a.k.a. probably the only celebrities still living (at time of writing anyway). On the subject of celebrity passing, I’d like to dedicate this post to my friend Diane who sadly passed away unexpectedly this week and would, I’m sure, have liked to be thought of as a celebrity, at least given the many star turns she had in Sound of Music singalongs. She was the reason I started watching Strictly on a regular basis back in series 3 after only dipping in and out of it for the first two series, and I’m sure she would have really enjoyed this final.

Still on we go - cue credits! I still don’t understand why Melvin Odoom is coming back for the Christmas special.

We open with a montage of our three celebrities stalking the glitter ball and talking about how much they want to win it, whilst looking at it as if it is a bomb threatening to blow up in their faces. It’s not that bad, guys, the worst thing that will probably happen is you coming back next year to do an underwhelming reprisal dance - and nobody really remembers those anyway. This then moves us into an opening dance to ‘When Love Takes Over’, where all the loser pros (plus Neil and Chloe) reach for the glitter ball, fail and are reduced to doing some substandard disco with very badly executed lifts as a punishment before Joanne, Kevin and Oti turn up to remind them how to actually dance and then they are saved from their dance sins. Such a touching seasonal message! At one point, Oti is flanked by either Clifton, as if to demonstrate that they’re her bitches now. Heck, after this series, we are all Oti’s bitches now! Golden glitter ball signs lift up to reveal each of our final celebrities, perched atop glittery silver hoops: Danny, Louise and Ore. Louise’s hair is looking worryingly like her cha-cha hair, which I am guessing must be a hint as to judges’ choices. [Ha, I leapt to the exact same conclusion. We're so cool. - Steve] Hard to tell what the other two will be doing from their hair, unsurprisingly.

Tess’n’Claud enter down the staircase.  Daly Dresswatch: black, sequinny.  What Winkleman’s Wearing: Silvery party dress.  Both suitably celebratory, I think, so a rare well done to their wardrobe team. They remind us how the final will work and welcome our judges. Craig’s panto beard is more panto stubble tonight and he looks unusually unkempt.

Our celebrities enter for the final time, and we get to see what they’re wearing for their first dance, which must be the judges’ choice: Kevin and Louise are, indeed in their cha cha outfits (booooo!) whilst Danny and Oti and Ore and Joanne are wearing quickstep and American Smooth respectively.  So, in the past few series, judges’ choice has, ill-advisedly, been a random and fairly rubbish dance from earlier in the draw under the guise of the celebs needing to improve – when all we as the audience want are their greatest hits, surely? However, tonight, with Danny and Ore, it looks exactly like what we’re getting. We already know from ITT that Danny’s also reprising his samba and Ore his jive, which means they’re both revisiting arguably their most loved dances of the series (I’d add the American Smooth in there for Danny, but he did just perform that in the semi-finals so I can see why they didn’t go there), whilst Louise is reprising her Argentine Tango later and therefore the obvious second choice would be her amazing paso. Now I know they don’t have prop dancers or BLACKPOOL staging and her costume’s on loan elsewhere, but I’m sure they could have figured out a way round that. I mean Louise’s cha-cha FGS. Cha-chas rarely, if ever, deserve to be in the final anyway, but especially not that one. [It did feel like she was playing catch-up from the outset, didn't it? I guess they were treating her Argentine tango as ballroom and wanted a Latin to balance it out, but...why not her jive? Her charleston? Even her rumba would've probably been a better bet. - Steve] She already looks a bit defeated and it hasn’t got going yet.  I wonder if she was running away with the vote and they needed the big guns to hobble her tonight. /tinfoilhat

Oh, well, let’s see how the FINAL OF THE YEAR OF THE MAN pans out, shall we? To further compound the message, Tess and Claudia cue up the couples’ choices as being ‘that jive from Ore’, ‘Danny’s record breaking samba’ and ‘oh yeah Louise is here too’.

The first couple of the evening are Ore and Joanne and they’re summoned to the judges’ throne room (Darcey on a silver throne and the others on gold. Who knew there were gender-coloured precious metals?) The judges tell them to get a 40 and ensure Ore has correct posture in their American Smooth. Ore says he feels they can smash it. They got a 35 last time, but he’s hoping they can better that. Guys, it’s the final. You could better that even if you just sat down for the whole routine.
I did enjoy this ‘Singing in the Rain’ American Smooth and it’s just as lovely second time round as before. I do think it’s technically better as well. Ore seems to be really on it tonight, and really enjoying himself. I’ll be very surprised if that doesn’t get a 40, or at least a 39 if the judges are wanting to see marks rising during the evening. Ore thanks everyone for how amazing his experience has been and we wave at the singers, Dave Arch and the orchestra for one last time this series.
Len says he was screaming the whole way through (I guess a sports presenter is as close as we have to a SPORTSMAN in this final for Len’s inner fangirl) and Ore is the ‘boy that brings joy’. Bruno says it was a beautifully crafted tribute to Gene Kelly without being an imitation. Craig says his frame was vastly improved and he was higher on his toes although there wasn’t some foot pointing at one point. Darcey says she wished she could watch it on rewind (anyone want to tell her about the iPlayer?) and calls it heaven to watch.

Up in the Clauditorium, we’re reunited with all our returning pros and celebrities in their promo-shot outfits who cheer them on (Will seems to be absent, which is a shame, but I guess that was to be expected.  Hope you’re OK, Will!). We then cut to Gene Kelly’s widow in the audience who looks way too young to have ever been married to him, even though it was a late-life marriage (for him). She twirls for the audience. Alright love, you’re not Billy Connolly. You’re barely even Jamie Redknapp.  Scores: 9, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 39. 

The second couple of the evening are Louise and Kevin.  In the throne room, they laugh when they’re given the cha cha cha. The judges’ rationale for the choice?  They won the cha cha challenge so they should be able to redeem it. Craig says he thinks they can get a perfect score for this dance. I highly, highly doubt it.

This reprise of their ‘What a Feeling’ cha cha is…not especially good, as if it ever could be, hobbled with that hair, that theme and, well, being a cha cha. There are several little mistakes, Louise looks like she hates it the whole time and I do really feel for her because if they couldn’t reprise her paso, at least some lovely traditional Kevin Clifton ballroom should have sent some votes her way, but this 
dance is hardly going to convince the floating voters. [It just felt very low-energy, didn't it? Like she was marking her way through it. I think this was where I became fairly certain that, without something miraculous for her showdance, Louise wasn't winning this thing. - Steve]

Bruno calls it saucier than ever. I suppose it could be that cheese sauce you get with nachos. B
But cold. *shudder*. He claims the movements were well-placed and it was a feel-good routine. Not for Louise, I expect. Craig says he used to do this in his drag act and he thinks Louise’s hip action and timing have improved. Darcey says Louise never overdoes things [I'LL SAY - Steve] and she’s a joy to watch. Louise, with shards of silver foil covering her from the glitter explosion end moment, smiles patiently. Len congratulates her for not wearing a skirt. Seriously.

In the Clauditorium, we’re reminded that Louise’s official JOURNEY is about her growing in confidence. Scores: 9, 9, 10, 10 for a we’re-clearly-on-final-scoring-here total of 38. No way was that only one mark lower than Ore’s. Or in any way a 9 or 10. And I really like Louise and think she’s had plenty of dances that did deserve those high marks. Still, onwards, and hopefully her next two dances will be great.

Now we have Danny and Oti, and the judges basically just want them to reprise their quickstep because they liked it. JOURNEY.

Not that I’m complaining at seeing this ‘I Won’t Dance’ quickstep again because it’s probably my joint favourite of his along with the American Smooth. And can we have a hand for this series’ quicksteps, please? The only one I’ve actively hated was Louise’s, which was NOT A QUICKSTEP – most of the others have been in the top two or three of each celeb’s repertoire for me. The same cannot be said of tangos. I quite liked Laura’s and that’s about as far as it goes – yet another year of terrible music choices and/or theming killing that dance, which is such a shame, as it’s a great dance when it’s done well. [I liked Greg's tango, but mostly for, erm, posture reasons. - Steve]

Anyway, back to Danny and Oti and this… is a bit of a mess. I mean, it’s still a fast, delightful and difficult routine, but there are mistakes throughout and his feet at several points look like they’re going to trip him up. I’m not sure what happened here – I assume he must have gone onto the wrong foot at one point and then tried to play catch-up with himself, but it’s not the way an almost-perfect ringer dancer wants to perform in their first dance of the final and I hope that doesn’t knock his confidence too much for the rest of the evening.

Tess says Oti’s dress got caught in her heel, but these things happen on live TV. I had to rewatch it to see that part and it was minimal - the dance was struggling before that happened, sadly. Danny says he loves that dance and despite ‘whatever happened’ it was good to do it again.

Craig says the timing of the first pendulum was out and then the final promenade just went and it was a shame as he’d hoped it’d be fantastic, but it was still bright, light and elegant, and he is a fantastic dancer. Darcey says she still loves the dance, and it was a shame there were mistakes, but she loves Oti’s choreography. Len says he is a superb dancer who has made everyone else dance better because his standard has set the bar. He’s disappointed that Danny did loads to please Len, like cut down the conducting, but there were some big mistakes. Bruno says he should forget about that and focus on the next two dances as he’s one of the best showmen they’ve ever seen.

In the Clauditorium, Danny says he could feel in his body that it went wrong but he wasn’t sure exactly what happened. Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9 for a total of 36, the same score as he got last time when there weren’t any mistakes. Oh, this show.

Leaderboard 1:
Ore and Joanne 39
Louise and Kevin 38
Danny and Oti 36

I’d say that was a deserved round one to Ore. [Me too. - Steve] Claudia asks Len to open the vote and the judges wave paddles spelling OPEN. In the Clauditorium, everyone claps and shouts and Claudia can’t be heard over them. We then get our first recap of the evening and I’m sure looking forward to however many more of them we’ve got coming.

Claudia’s Comedy Caper yet again features her with a rope holding an invisible prop and promising not to break it as she feeds through the never-ending rope… and then lets go and drops it.  New material needed please thanks.

Ore and Joanne are back for their second routine, and their VT features the rare sight of Tess’n’Claud visiting the training room. Ore says he’s nervous about falling from a great height and they demonstrate dancing on a rehearsal-room metrodecking platform that looks somewhat more robust than yer average Strictly prop and Tess gasps as she wonders how she will cover a contestant falling and breaking themselves live on Saturday night.

This showdance is to ‘I’ve Got Rhythm’ and Joanne’s clearly taken a leaf out of Camilla and Tom’s book (albeit with a likeable celebrity partner) and gone for a full-on Hollywood musical crowd-pleasing routine, fusing together tap, Charleston, foxtrot, quickstep, tango, American Smooth and about fifteen other genres, along with jumping around on a giant drum kit and sliding down very, very wobbly looking giant cymbal slides. It’s a touch rough around the edges in places, especially when clambering around on the props, although they presumably wouldn’t have had much time to rehearse with those, but it’s super-fast, full of variety and remains quite elegant despite it being frenetic. It’s an ambitious routine, and one of the more enjoyable show dances I can recall. Credit to these two, because they could have looked like underdogs after more bottom two appearances than the others, but they have pulled the stops out this week and Ore is really giving it everything. I think the momentum could well be with them for the win if the others do underwhelming show dances, and I’m not sure I would have said that before the show kicked off. [Agreed. At this point I decided I was voting for Ore to win, and I was quite surprised about that. - Steve]

Darcey says the dance was full of everything she likes, and the section on the drum kit was incredibly difficult to pull off and she loved how he didn’t miss any of his jumps. Ore says it was close. Darcey says she loved how it revisited his best dances of the series. And that Charleston which we all still have nightmares about. Len gives it a standing ovation and Bruno says it exceeded all expectations. Craig calls it an aerobic step class and says he was blown away by the number of dance styles and steps.

In the Clauditorium, Ore says there’s no-one better to choreograph a ballroom show dance than Joanne Clifton and whilst this series has been a mixed bag for her, I think this is one of those moments where you really could see her talent coming through. Ore’s mum and unflappable dad are in the audience and he waves at them and says he’s lost a stone through dancing. Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10 for their first 40 and the first of the evening.

Louise and Kevin now and he says this will be a dance that showcases Louise’s journey from slightly embarrassed looking ringer to slightly embarrassed looking ringer with fruit on her head. Such a long way she’s come. The training footage makes it look like contempowaftorama including one lift where Louise looks dead and hangs limply over Kevin’s arms. Tess and Claudia visit them and wear their coats the whole time, before reminding Kevin that he always ends up in the final but never wins as if we (and Kevin) weren’t well aware of this.

As predicted, this is contempo-waft-a-go-go, complete with Whitney (‘One Moment in Time’), dry ice, white curtains, purple and pink lights, ballet shoes and floaty purple costumes, with fireworks erupting at the crescendos in the music to make the audience cheer regardless of the dancing.  It’s quite balletic in places and there’s some earnest reaching, a bunch of lifts and some very odd arm movements in places. There’s also a bit where Kevin walks around holding Louise for ages that looks like he’s forgotten what to do, and she is grinning her head off throughout. I haven’t even seen Danny and Oti’s showdance yet and I suspect Louise and Kevin are going to be the worst of the three. I mean, it wasn’t entirely terrible, but compared to what Ore and Joanne just did? I like Kevin, you know, I really do, but I’m starting to suspect that he is the main reason he never wins this thing. Give him a few duffers for a bit so he can ponder on that for a while, hmmm? [See, I think Kevin is usually pretty reliable where showdances are concerned - Susanna's was fine, Frankie's was fine, Kellie's was probably the best of last year's rum bunch. This I think was a rare misfire from him, and compounded by Louise dancing like she didn't really care if she won or not. - Steve]

Len says it’s one moment in time she’ll never forget. RETIRE. Bruno says – and with a straight face despite him SURELY being on a bet – ‘the best lift was the one you gave my heart.’  Egads. Craig says it was expressive but there was something I don’t quite understand about the knee and the foot that wasn’t great. Darcey says it was daring to wear ballet shoes instead of heels but it made her more expressive. If I’d been dancing in heels for three bloody months I’d be wearing ballet shoes the first moment I got as well, TBH.

In the Clauditorium we recover Jamie Redknapp’s journey from a bit non-plussed to raging superfan and we cut to him beaming up whilst Harry sits beside him looking THOROUGHLY UNIMPRESSED. Scores: 9, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 39.

Tess introduces Danny and Oti sitting next to Carley Stenson whose face is all ‘you better all be voting Danny or so help me God I’ll set Oti on you.’ Can I get a pass for being out all night and not voting for anyone? [No. My friend was out all night and made me text her when the lines opened. - Steve.] Tess and Claudia visit the training room where Oti says the story of their dance is Danny being nervous, at the start, ONLY BEING IN SHAMEFUL SECOND PLACE before finding his place at the top of the leaderboard from then on. Presumably it climaxes in him hitting the dance-off as we- ouch, Oti, that stings! No, please, not my eyes! Ahem. Anyway, Danny thinks having Tess and Claudia at training was great because it meant he had the two most positive people in the world in the room and if Tess Daly is the most positive person Danny knows then I am super sad for him and feel like we need to rescue him.

To the show dance! It’s set to ‘Set Fire To The Rain’ which automatically equals EMOTIONAL AND BOMBASTIC but that could equally mean it’ll be either TOUCHING THE DIVINE or a mega-car crash on the scale of Dummy Dance, so I’m nervous. It starts with them facing each other through a mirror and then he pulls Oti to him before she drags him back over to her side to teach him the evil wicked ways of dance. It’s all tango and paso and contemporary and stomping about and earnest fist bashing, with fire erupting at the requisite moments and the floor also resembling the fires of Hades, and then they end up on separate sides of the mirror again, he in water, she in fire, before the picture frame collapses into the realm of hellfire dance villainy and she leaps into his arms to be saved. SYMBOLISM! I’ve seen that a couple of times now and I’m still a bit baffled. I like it, I think, but it is also a bit A-Level Performing Arts (which I have, so I’m allowed to use that as a critique) and it kind of makes (justice for) Natalie and Greg’s rumba look understated. Quite a fun watch though, with a lot of energy and passion, and better than Louise and Kevin, for sure, but I think it’ll be quite divisive for the voting public. [It went down like a cup of cold sick in my house, but my friend who was actually in the audience for the final said it was electrifying to watch right in front of you. So yeah, I guess "divisive" is right. - Steve] That said, the voting public did go for Louis and Flavia’s stupid gym ball show dance nonsense and this is way less ridiculous than that...  

As the audience go mental, Oti strokes his face like she’s going to kiss him, then leans away with a cheeky grin, the saucy minx.

Bruno calls it a firework of passion and he loves Danny’s commitment to telling a story, where everything he does has a meaning and perfectly choreographed. Craig calls it ‘totally brilliant’.  Darcey says ‘there was sparks [sic] coming off that dancefloor’ and it had lots of genres in it, the perfect show dance. Len says it was showy and a dance. Come on Len, you only have one more set of critiques (except Christmas, although that’s already been filmed), please try to reach for something other than the name of the song or dance.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia says it looked like Carley couldn’t breathe. Oti says she wanted to show Danny’s passion and bring some fire. Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 40.

Round 2 leaderboard?
Ore and Joanne 39+40=79
Louise and Kevin 38+38=76
Danny and Oti 36+40=76

Who would have seen that coming before tonight?

So we’re two dances in, and yet the show is not even half-way over. What unholy manner of filler awaits us? Bruce isn’t going to do a little sing over Skype is he?

Another recap, in which they picked a moment of Ore and Joanne’s show dance that looks a little out of sync, moments of both of Louise’s dances that look AWFUL, and Danny’s show dance’s DRAMATIC ENDING. They might as well have put ‘Don’t vote Louise’ signs on the footage.
Time for our three finalists to talk about what this experience has meant to them: wonderful public, growth, confidence and also Louise would like to win so the storyline of Kevin always being in the final but never winning could finally come to an end please god.

Instead of going to more filler, we’re straight in with the third dances.

Ore and Joanne’s VT is about how he’s progressed. From OK to good to OK again to good again WHAT A JOURNEY. Also, being in the dance-off is not that nice and these two love each other. Yes, yes, but what is going on with Joanne’s hair in this VT that makes her look just like mid-era P!nk?  Also Danny’s wife loves him and Joanne has some orange trainers. EDUCATIONAL.

Their final dance is their jive, which apparently is not so sacred that they are refusing to taint its legacy by performing it in the final. I also love that there are what appear to be Aliona and Jay baiting v-s wiggling past eyes movements (I wish I knew the terminology for that) in this dance, which I hope is deliberate. [Me too, because Aliona was *such* a dickhead about it the first time. - Steve] I think what makes this jive work so well, apart from the dancing, of course, is that it is a great marriage of lighting, costume, song (‘Runaway Baby’) and movement – mixing traditional jive moves with a bit of cheeky fun AND NO SODDING PROPS OR COMEDY BEARDS. It even has less Joanne skirt-swishing this time than last. So much fun.

Craig says he hates not having anything to criticise and calls it ‘virtuosic’. Darcey praises the sharpness and cleanness of the kicks and flicks and says he knows how to work and that makes him a true dancer. Len says people like him give Len the most pleasure. On Strictly, but there was a mighty long pause there. Also he’s the ‘spirit of Strictly’ for not being [as much of] a ringer. Bruno calls him sheer perfection. The audience go crazy with screaming and foot stamping and, you know what, I think he has this. And he probably deserves it. Something’s happened with him this week that’s really ramped up his dancing, whilst the other two seem to be floundering a little. [Yep. I think he certainly made a convincing case for himself in the final, even if he didn't necessarily manage to do it over the series as a whole. He managed not to have a single weak round in the week where it mattered most, which Danny and Louise didn't quite manage. - Steve]

Joanne cries and thanks him for working so hard. Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 40 although Jo only really reacts to the Craig 10, because it’s still the only one that counts (EXCEPT WHEN HE IS GIVING COWGIRL AND BOLLYWOOD NONSENSE HIGH SCORES AND AMAZING DRAMATIC CONTEMPORARY RUMBAS 4S OF COURSE).

Louise and Kevin’s story. Louise thinks the Argentine Tango and Viennesse Waltz aren’t things people have any opportunity to learn. Surely some dance schools must teach them somewhere? Or are they some sort of magical knowledge only bestowed on you through the dark arts? Louise says she wouldn’t still be in the show if she didn’t have Kevin as a partner, but it sounds like she says ‘Kevin’s father’ which sounds like an epic burn. Then Kevin completely LOSES IT and cries all over the VT in a manner of Oksana randomly self-destructing after Judge Rinder left. Also Jamie and the kids love Louise.

I’m so glad for Louise that she gets to end the final on her Argentine Tango as it’s easily the best of her three dances tonight. It’s still full of drama and attack and has the epic gravity-defying bit where her legs scale a table and ascend into the sky. Who knew that Louise Redknapp would most excel in the DRAMATIC dances? It makes me weep for the lost opportunity that was her crappily-themed tango last week. 

Len says she never had a SEV-UHN. Well, not from him. Darcey and Craig chucked some her way.  Bruno says there’s a real quality to her dancing and the musicality really thrills him. Craig says he’s pleased it’s the audience who decide tonight as that was superlative. Sure, you’re glad now, but I bet you’ll be carping about it in interviews soon enough. Whatever the outcome. Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 40 and I’m so pleased for Louise and Kevin that they get to go out on high – if they won without a 40 they’d no doubt be pilloried and if they don’t win it at least demonstrates that they’ve been (mostly) great all the way through. [Agreed. I was pleased she pulled this one off - it was probably too late to make any difference to her chances of winning, but it reminded me why I wanted her to win in the first place. - Steve]

Danny and Oti’s VT is chock-full of clips of all their amazing dances and I’d forgotten how awesome their jive and Charleston were, in particular. Also he loves Oti and Carley and apparently the samba was the first time Danny was himself on the dancefloor. That doesn’t quite resemble the Danny I’ve seen in VTs and on ITT, but maybe the off-camera Danny is ALL about monkey arms and insane tribal rhythms, who knows?

The dance is as crazy (in a good way) as before and I know we’ve said it several times this series, but Oti’s choreography has been a revelation. She’s brought something really fresh to the table and obviously it helps having Danny, probably the most naturally skilled male celebrity they’ve ever had on the show, as a partner, but I genuinely don’t think his memorable dances would have been as memorable with anyone else – not least as his personality is not quite at the level of many of this year’s other contestants’. I do feel a bit sorry for Oti as she’s bound to get a duffer next year but maybe her komedy choreography could be fun and interesting, too. I just hope she doesn’t get lumbered with another broken contestant like last year. Even though I think it’s close tonight between Ore and Danny, with Ore probably shading it marginally, I’d love Danny and Oti to win for their overall performance across the series. Joanne’s brought a lot of good stuff with her too, but her choreography’s been fairly 50/50 in terms of hits and misses, whereas I’d put Oti’s ratio at about 80/20 and that 20 was mainly things that could possibly have gone either way, like the big red string. Still, I’m glad they both had a great year as last year must have been really deflating for both of them. Now, let’s give Chloe a ringer and see what she can do next year.

Len says you can’t improve on perfection; Bruno says they’re sex on legs and the dance will never be forgotten. Craig and the audience do a panto FAB-U-LOUS and Darcey says the body isolations and free abandonment were a winning combination.

In the Clauditorium, Oti’s crying so much her make-up is streaming down her face and a sweaty Danny thanks the audience and everyone else in the universe. Scores: an ‘I hate this’ 10, an ‘I don’t hate this’ 10, 10 and an ‘I absolutely love it’ 10 for a total of 40. The Clauditorium erupts in jumping, clapping and singing.

Final final leaderboard?
Ore and Joanne 39, 40, 40 for a total of 119
Louise and Kevin 38, 38, 40 for a total of 116
Danny and Louise 36, 40, 40 for a total of 116.

Whilst I don’t think any of the dances were really, truly, perfect tonight, I actually don’t begrudge those 40s for the last dance per couple tonight – they were all of a fantastic standard and have a really strong rewatch value, which I don’t think I’d say about their equivalents in all the other series necessarily. And it’s been a genuinely close to call final, which is great.

As is traditional, let’s take a look at what we could have won had the celebrities done their missing dance. Danny and Oti might have given us a lovely waltz, but I think I can safely say that Louise and Kevin’s salsa and Ore and Joanne’s samba are no great loss to the world.

Time for another recap, and an interminably long and boring VT of members of the public praising the show, and some people even claim that Naga, Tameka and Laura were their favourites. Whether they're also their personal friends or not is hard to call. Also some medieval re-enacters pretend to be Anastacia, Brendan and Gorka for some reason I can't fathom.

More filler time! The return from obscurity of Emily Sunday, looking unrecognisable, wearing a nightie and singing some mediocre album track about highs and lows. I actually quite like the two singles they've released off her new album, couldn't she do one of those? This is rubbish. Also Katya, in a bin-bag jumpsuit, dances a bit with Giovanni and he does more of those endless spins he did when he was covering up for Laura's injury. As final dance showcases go, it's no Anton'n'Nat do a bit of lovely ballroom, that's for sure.

We then have a tribute to Len, in which my favourite bit is some footage from series one, featuring the backdrop being a dusty red curtain with a string of Poundland fairy lights strung over one end of it, the judging order being Bruno, Arlene, Len and Craig, and the images of the four of them: Bruno in a casual jacket and T-shirt with short cropped hair; Arlene in a Per Una style mum top with a tragic bob; Len in a Burton's suit with a green tie and brown hair, looking like a used car salesman, Craig in pinstripes with an ugly turquoise tie and terrible dark hair, and their chairs are all stacked so closely together they must have constantly been kicking each other's feet. Also loads of old celebrity contestants return to pay tribute, which is lovely. And (present day) Anton wears a blue jacket with ugly blue and black lapels and pretends a '7' is better than a '10'. Len says he'll miss everything about the show and the three best judges on television, which I am sure is a burn against Alesha, but why no love for the Scherzy, Len? It will be unusual without him, so for one last time, let's have a collective FUCK OFF LEN!! (Also, hope you have a nice retirement and that). [Enjoy all of your Dancing With The Stars money! - Steve]

To see him off is a classic ballroom pro-dance to 'May Each Day', and here's the lovely Anton and Natalie ballroom we've been needing tonight. They're then joined by the others, gradually, for a mostly-waltz-but-with-other-bits starlit routine that's all very sweet and nice. The dancers and audience give Len a standing ovation. Aww, even as someone who's not a Len fan, that was lovely.

Time for our annual end-of-series car-crash group dance! We are reminded of the rocketship entrance, but not the bizarre fever-dream opening sequence that preceded it, funnily enough. Then we see clips of everyone's training and dancing and they all tell us how hard it was, how much they loved their pro, how it changed their lives etc etc. Also, Judge Rinder wears an unusual denim suit and... I don't hate it?!

Their group routine opens to 'Never Gonna Give You Up'; which is hilarious in and of itself. Melvin and Janette DJ before she jumps at him in an awkward lift that bodes well for Christmas (WHY?), Tameka sits on a throne and recreates her credit sequence hand gensture. Then we move into the Spice Girls' 'Stop' (BURN) and Naga sits down for a bit before half-heartedly doing a few Charleston steps, Lesley reprises her old-lush-at-the-bar routine and is flirted with by all the men <3. Anastacia dances on a podium a bit, Laura poses at the bottom of the staircase and then utterly fails to dance two steps onto some moving stairs. Daisy and AljaĆŸ stand atop their diner set from their cha cha, then Greg jumps over it and dances a few steps with Natalie before we go into a random 'Gangnam Style' which the singer can't pronounce and is not done to the actual tune. This segues into S Club 7's 'Reach' and some Rindy breakdancing, before Claudia does a load of gymnastics. Then Claudia ends up at the front of a jive section - and Claudia's jive is not a thing I wish to remember, thanks all the same. It soon falls into a generic party dance and then it's over! 2016!

We get a trailer for Christmas, which doesn't look like it's going to contain some good dancing, but Melvin and Janette apparently are going to 'redeem' themselves with an a-may-zing from Craig. And former Christmas contestant Matt Goss will be singing. SPECIAL!

Back with the celebrities and Ed Balls cries and says it's been a special experience. Daisy has still been dancing and says she's going to dance every day and the rest of them, clearly having already stopped, all laugh. Tameka is sitting on a random stool - coupled with the throne from earlier, I'm a bit worried she's properly injured, so best wishes to you, Tameka. We're also reminded of Greg and Judge Rinder's bromance and how we all wish we'd seen more of that.

Is that enough filler for you yet?  Well, get ready, because here are the judges' opinions of our final three. Danny's dances have a lot of detail in; he looks like a pro; he has excellent storytelling; that samba. Louise has wonderful musicality; is charming and elegant; wasn't confident at the start and the Argentine Tango CHANGED HER LIFE. Ore has never 'trained' before; he gives it his all; he nails the characters; that jive. Well, I feel enlightened, don't know about you.

So, around 45 minutes after the dances ended, it's finally results time! They're lined up as follows: Ore and Joanne; Louise and Kevin; Danny and Oti, aka the order in which they danced. The winners are Ore and Joanne, who can't believe it and sink to the floor, before Kevin grabs his sister and whirls her round. Aww. [Or BOO! CLIFTONS! depending on your taste, I guess]. Ore cries and Joanne looks utterly shell-shocked. Claudia rubs it in that Kevin's sister has won in her first series with a decent contestant, whereas he's had four and still never managed it. Oh and Louise is grateful to have danced with him. Danny thinks it's one of the best experiences of his life and that Oti's brought the best out of him. Oti thanks the audience for being amazing. Ore tells Joanne he loves her with all his heart and they cry some more. He says he's loved this show for twelve years and he thanks 'every single one of you' including Frances in wardrobe whose birthday it is (aww), props, hair, judges, Len. [Psst, Ore! Thank YOUR WIFE! - Steve] Jo thanks him for working so hard and becoming a dancer.

They lift the glitterball and are mobbed by the rest of the contestants, whilst Brendan carefully slips the glitterball away. Yeah, he might be pretending it's for its safety but how do we know he wasn't struck by a case of 'I won it first, it's MINE', huh? Ore and Joanne are lifted up to the sounds of 'Dancing on the Ceiling' and that's it!  

Thanks to all involved for what's been a pretty good series, all in all, I think.  I'd also like to thank Steve for that mid-series swap he needed which meant I got to recap mostly good weeks and he, er, didn't so much. [Yeah, you're welcome. - Steve] And w'd like to thank you, as always, for your loyal views and comments.  Join us for the Christmas special sometime before the end of the year, and until then, KEEP DANCING!

1 comment:

Jo Seller said...

Thank you so much for keeping us highly entertained throughout the series.Wouldn't miss your pieces for the world. MC and HNY to you all and see you in the summer