Sunday, 23 October 2016

Going through the motions (ending up nowhere at all*)

Week five performance show
Saturday 22 October 2016

Last week!  The official Danny vs Ore war kicked off with the former delivering a fantastic quickstep for 36 points and the latter another sacred holy jive for 39.  Naga was comedically pushed into even uglier hair and makeup and, despite performing arguably her best routine of the series, forgot everything in the dance-off and left the competition, leaving Anastacia and Brendan to fight injury porn another day.

Cue titles! 

Tess and Claudia welcome us, Claudia wearing a velvety indigo dress, with Tess in black trousers and white top with a metallic silver belt, which would look quite nice were it not for the matching metal choker, overly straightened hair and bright red lipstick, which makes her resemble a robot more than a woman.  Claudia is straight in with another serious public announcement – Brendan is ill and Gorka will be taking his place. 

The judges enter, Darcey wearing a bright yellow evening gown which I heartily approve of as there aren’t nearly enough of those in this world.  But the most mesmerising thing is Bruno’s hair.  It’s got these two little devil horn style curls sticking up and you’d think there’s no way that could be deliberate, except that we know that they have a big hair and make-up team on the show.  Maybe he was late or something, or put a whoopee cushion on Lisa-from-Deuce's chair?

Our couples now: Louise and Kevin; Judge Rinder and Oksana; Lesley and Anton; Claudia and AJ; Ore and Joanne; Daisy and Aljaž; Greg and Natalie; Ed and Katya; Danny and Oti; Anastacia and Gorka.  That… seems too few for this stage in proceedings.  And indeed it is, for it’s time for our second very serious update: Laura has injured her ankle and can’t dance with Giovanni tonight and ‘more on that later’ because we have to string out the drama across the whole show.  So by my count, that’s (at least) Anastacia, Tameka, Greg, Laura and Brendan who’ve sustained injuries/illnesses, and Katya sounded at death’s door on ITT yesterday.  Come the final, it’ll just be Neil and Chloe performing infinite showdances at this rate.

First couple of the evening are Judge Rinder and Oksana.  He’s playing a GI and Tess calls him Oksana’s ‘little soldier’ – I’m not sure if that’s a sex joke, a suggestion Oksana is his mum or some icky combination of both.  Their VT trots out the standard working hard rhetoric where she comes to his ‘court’ (TV studio) where he charges her with filling his brain full of dance and sentences her to ’10 years in the Strictly dungeon’.  Only the worst offenders like Cole and Du Beke have had longer sentences.

They are dancing the jive to ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ and he’s wearing a glittery camo top slashed to the shaved-to-the-max midriff with very tight brown trousers and she’s in a khaki sparkly vest with camo hot pants.  The Rinder faces are out in full force and he’s very bow legged – much like his cha cha, it’s kind of insane, in that it’s not bad in the lumpen and forgetful way – it’s very energetic and athletic and he seems to be remembering all the moves, but precision, sharpness and technique are not its keywords – and he loses balance a couple of times, although, to his credit, he keeps going.  And somehow, possibly the limp wrists and odd ‘ssshhh’ motions he keeps making, it’s the campest one of his dances yet.

Tess lets him catch his breath while we welcome Dave Arch and co, and then asks Len if he was impressed, at which Len snaps back ‘WELL I CAN’T HEAR WHAT YOU SAID SO DON’T EXPECT ME TO ANSWER YOU’.  Eventually we learn he was impressed and says Rinder puts the camp into bootcamp and it was like the history of jive – lindy, jitterbug, rock’n’roll, jive… aren’t they all from pretty much the same era?  He compliments Rinder’s bum because it’s his final series so he’s going to praise the male posterior as much as he can.  Bruno (whose hair also has a horrible flicky up bit at the back now) says his legs were so high he thought it was a can-can, then he expected him to fall on his butt when he twirled but the energy is eminently watchable.  Craig says he likes that he dances with ‘tempestuous abandon’ but it was flat-footed and needed precise, although he loved the one-handed cartwheel and Tess does sub-Bruce ‘what?  Flat-footed?’ reaction comments.  They really shouldn’t make her do that, it was bad when Bruce did it as he came off as being snappy and grouchy, whereas Tess just sounds insincere.  We don’t need a ‘voice of the viewers against meen judges’, show, we really don’t.  Darcey says it was full of tricks and the kicks were a bit high and wild but she loved it.

In the Clauditorium, Rinder gushes that he remembered the steps and we see his mum in the audience who is super glamorous.  Scores: 6, 8, 8, 7 for a total of 29. He says it’s an improvement and Craig probably meant to give him a 7 but couldn’t find it under the table.

Claudia then says we have exciting news.  Could it be more injury porn?  The announcement of who is taking over from Len?  No, it’s a really shit ventriloquist act to read the terms and conditions.  There’s a reason I don’t watch Britain’s Got Talent, you know.  Pack it in, show.

Lesley and Anton now.  Their VT centres on Lesley playing a fortune teller, so Anton pretends to be Clairvoyant and seeing their future: a glitterball, 4 tens, standing ovations from the judges and, most likely (and its first invocation of the series?): BLACKPOOL.

They are tango-ing to ‘Whatever Lola Wants’ and forgive me if I wander down a rabbit hole here, as I’ve just been reading Sofabet’s latest X Factor post, but I am wondering about the presentation of these two tonight and if there’s some subtle deramping going on – a VT that suggests many possible outcomes but the one Lesley is most excited by being BLACKPOOL, coupled with a sense that her journey is likely to end soon (focus on her doing better than expected, improving weekly – but presumably in a few weeks’ time she won’t be seen as up there with the frontrunners) and then this dance, which is a bit odd.  There’s red and black theming, with Anton in some weird, comedic checked trousers, moody lighting and Lesley dressed as a comedy character but with a face like thunder.  I wonder if they’ve been polling too close to the top and they’re trying to rein them in so they can leave around Blackpool week having had a lovely journey?  Anyway, that aside, the dancing isn’t their best – her footwork is OK, but stuttering, and her arm is placed at a really weird angle, which I think is a height mismatch issue, and there’s this really awkward and ungainly lift at the start that’s a total mess.  The ending isn’t bad though, with a nice drag lift and a dramatic Lesley flounce while Anton smashes her crystal ball.  Oh, and Anton is wearing really weird, ghostly eyeshadow and it’s not even HALLOWEEN week yet.

Over with the judges and Bruno describes her as holding on to Anton for dear life.  He says he loves her intensity but a lot of the steps were messed up.  She says ‘a couple of times’.  He says it was too skippy and not gliding.  Craig says it was too up and down rather than level, with poor shaping, especially her shoulder.  Darcey enjoyed the amount of dance content as Anton gave everything and she ‘nearly achieved’ it but didn’t have the correct frame.  Len says it was all there – steps, staccato, musicality, but there were some incidents along the way ‘but you’ll get that with Anton’ and both Len and Darcey finish with ‘well done’. See, subtle deramping rather than annihilation.

In the Clauditorium, Lesley says it’s hard to dance both with passion and accuracy.  Scores: 5, 6, 7, 6 for a total of 24.

Greg and Natalie now, and the script declares ‘he’s been consistently good so far’ now he’s their gamma male for #yearoftheman following Will leaving.  Natalie takes him to the Olympic stadium, which he calls ‘sacred ground’ and she presents him with a random plaque with a piece of track on, which is a little… odd.

They’re cha cha cha-ing to ‘We Found Love’ and I really do like these two, but this is lousy.  Greg’s elbows are awkwardly jutting out at random angles, he’s clomping around looking confused and gawd luv er, Natalie’s giving it all she can, but it is not good.  Ugh, tonight suuuuucks so far.

Tess congratulates Dave Arch for playing dance music.  Erm, isn’t it all technically dance music, Tess?  If we’re being literal, anyway.  Craig says one good thing was that he showed Natalie off, but otherwise it was stiff, pigeon-holed and naturally bow-legged, which makes him an Olympic champion but doesn’t suit this dance and the dance exposed all the things he can’t do.  Darcey reminds him he’s ‘accomplished so much’ each week, but every week year a dance you can’t do and this was it.  Len reminds us he’s an athlete on a journey who’s never danced before unlike all the other ringers in this show and he thinks Greg doesn’t like the cha cha cha much, and he made a mistake but covered it up (not well enough for it not to be pointed out).  Bruno loves that he was framing Natalie, but thought he was too stiff and was over-attacking the dance and stomping, but ‘next time you do it’ (in the dance off?) it’ll be fabulous.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia holds his hand and says it was sweet that he apologised to Natalie at the end.  Scores: 4, 6, 7 7 for a 24 that feels overmarked for me.  Claudia says everyone was ‘what?’ at the four. That was my reaction to the 7, Claud.  Sorry Greg.

Our new bottom two goddess, Anastacia, now, dancing with Gorka (poor Neil) as Brendan is ill.  The VT does its bit for building up Gorka, who gets to say more than he did with Tameka and whom Anastacia calls her ‘Prince Charming’, so I’d say the omens are good for him returning next year.
They’re quickstepping to ‘My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)’ and she has a shorter blonde glamorous wig which looks nice, with an apricot dress that looks better than it did on ITT when the pink underskirt was on display without the apricot netting.  He’s a dapper gent in a suit.  Oh, and she’s walking an imaginary dog – like, not even a toy dog, just a lead.  It’s weird, especially as the rest of the dance is super classical (indeed, it’s very American Smooth-esque).  The lead ditched, they do some lovely benchography before getting in hold for a gentle quickstep that isn’t as taxing as some of the breakneck ones we saw last week, but it’s lovely in terms of its energy and you can tell she is having the time of her life – and even when she fudges some of the footwork and there’s a huge amount of gapping, she is giving it plenty of performance energy and FACE to compensate.

Tess notes Chicago is her home town and Anastacia says it is and her grandfather is in.  Darcey says it was lovely and she was light on her feet, although she could have leaned out a little.  Len says getting a new partner is like getting a new pair of shoes (Anastacia: ‘Awesome!’ Anastacia <3) and it was light and frivolous and her best dance.  Bruno says a little bit of Spain does wonders for her and she was like ‘a little coquettish swinger’ (are swingers usually coquettish?  Doesn’t seem likely but maybe I’m just stereotyping. He notes that there was a lot of gapping, though, and Craig modifies his usual bus comment with ‘you could fell a tree through it’ – although other than that, he found it light and lovely.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia calls Gorka a superhero and Anastacia says all the pros are amazing and tells Brendan to get busy so they can go to work next week.  She’s not planning on being danced off, then.  Scores: 7, 7, 8, 8 for a total of 30 and their highest.  Claudia says it places her at the top of the leaderboard, but Anastacia points out it’s the beginning of the show (and close to half-way through!  Hooray for all the injuries!).

Kevin and Louise now, doing a rumba in the most romantic city in the world, which, Tess clarifies, is Paris, not Grimsby.  Damn right.  Grimsby’s a town, not a city. They then get a free trip to Paris because it’s ‘so important’ for their dance to see real Paris.  With that logic, I’m looking forward to all those Halloween VTs set in graveyards, laboratories and the inside of Louise Rainbow’s brain.  Louise also says the rumba is the hardest yet, as this series hovers between it being difficult FOR MEN as is traditional, and difficult full stop.

They’re dancing to a very slow version of ‘Always on My Mind’, because Elvis (/Pet Shop Boys) just screams ‘Paris’, with an Eiffel Tower model on stage.  Now a rumba with these two was always going to be a hard sell as they’re both a bit cheesy and, unsurprisingly, Louise looks like she’s cringing throughout.  It’s very chaste and her hips do not move AT ALL. The tasteful lighting and costumes (understated, grey, nice enough fit) almost cover a range of sins.  But only almost, as yet another underwhelming dance underwhelms.

Len says it was a dance in France (wow) and calls her consistently good, but says she’s on a plateau and she needs a boost as others on a plateau (Danny?) are higher.  Bruno says it was distinguished, elegant and very chic, but he saw cultural references to An American in Paris, which he liked.  Craig said it lacked excitement and danger, that her hips need accentuating more, but at least she got a free trip to Paris and she does have wonderful lyricism.  Darcey chucks in a ‘boys are saying’ by saying Louise needs to push things more but then says she’s going in the right direction.  So is she plateauing or improving, Darcey?  And why am I looking for any kind of consistency in her critiques. 

In the Clauditorium, we give a shout out to Louise’s mother-in-law who’s been doing her bit for injury porn by having a hospital visit this week.  Scores: 8, 8, 8, 9 for a-shit-everyone-is-crap-tonight-better-inflate-some-scores-fast 33.

Claudia previews Daisy dancing later to a song about body parts ‘which could be ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’’ – cueing a singalong that only Daisy gets right.  I love her, she’s such an awkward teacher’s pet but in an endearing way.  Tess introduces Ed and Katya by saying he’s playing a hitchhiker and as she raises her thumb, she’s wearing some bizarre triangle hand bracelet thing to only further convince me she’s an android.

Ed and Katya are doing an ‘American Smooth Foxtrot’ and their training video reveals Katya wearing some bizarre black shoes with a white pattern on that looks like spiderwebs.  Too early, Katya!  They are dancing to ‘(Is This The Way To) Amarillo’, yet another song plucked from the 2016 Big Bumper Book of Inappropriate Foxtrot Choices’.  Ed is a ‘hitchhiker’ but his ickle backpack, purple short-sleeved shirt and checked trousers make him look more like a schoolboy.  The song doesn’t lend itself to elegant dancing so if he stomps, it’s only the natural footwork this track requires.  They do manage a fairly impressive lift, which must really use a lot of Katya’s core strength to keep in the air.  Then it falls apart with clumsy arms, Amarillo video dancing and a botched (tricky) lift, where he nearly drops her, then a tiny bit of foxtrot in hold, then he swings her round in a ‘wheee’ style, then it’s over, and then it isn’t, so they do the complex lift again, marginally more successfully.

Bruno says he was terrified Ed was going to drop Katya but he always takes them places, and there were moments of foxtrot where he showed he could do it and then bits that were too random.  Not sure if that’s Ed’s fault, Katya’s, or the show’s, though.  Craig calls it the antithesis of smooth and he did four lifts, not three – but the three other than the failed one were good lifts.  Darcey says he started well and he does have the strength for the lifts but it was a shame he didn’t recover from the failed lift.  She then tells him to come back ‘next year’ and then realises her mistake and ends up crying laughing. Len does a not-at-all-scripted, ‘the trouble with hitch-hiking is you get a dodgy lift’.  He says there was a terrific section but it was a shame that the big moment went pear-shaped.  So this week Len isn’t the arbiter of illegal lifts then?

Ed says he loved doing the lift and they invented it this week.  He says he was going to dedicate the dance to Tony Christie and Peter Kay but after they did it, maybe not.  Scores: 2, 6, 6, 4 for a total of 18. Claudia says he had his first spray tan last week and Ed says if he stays in, he’ll go ‘the full Jeremy Vine’, which is still several steps down from the ‘Kevin last week’ point on the Chigvintsev fake tan scale.

Ore and Joanne now.  Last week, blessed jive bla bla bla.  I mean, I really enjoyed that jive and I’m already sick of hearing about it.  Going from that to a waltz is only likely to be a comedown, so instead, they go to the Team GB and Paralympics GB parade (which is interesting, as wouldn’t Claudia and Greg have actually been on that parade, yet Ore gets the VT?  Mmmm-Hmmm. Ramp him like you ramped Ramps, show.  Future rival Strictly contestants the Brownlees wish him luck).

Their waltz is to ‘I Will Always Love You’ (Whitney version) and the lighting is completely gorgeous – darkened room with golden specks like candle flames and white follow spots exploding into blue at the key change.   It makes it seem very romantic and lovely, along with the nice outfits they’re in (Jo in a white dress with her hair looking amazing, Ore in a white shirt and tight-ish black trousers).  There’s also a floor spin that may or may not double as an illegal lift.  It looks gorgeous, but it’s hard to tell what is the dancing itself and what is all the stuff they’ve chucked around it.  These two do have good chemistry, though, and it isn’t going to harm his frontrunner (joint) chances any.

Tess praises Andrea’s vocals – which were good, given that’s a song the band could have, well, you know.  Craig says it worked really well and putting the song into 3/4 time also worked and there was beautiful swing and sway and wonderful storytelling.  Darcey praised how controlled and still it was in places although he needs to watch his right shoulder popping up.  Len calls it quiet, calm and sophisticated and says the waltz is a big, flowing dance rather than a small, dainty one.  He says his turning lock (I think?) got a bit sticky, but he’s an incredible dancer.  Bruno says they look wonderful together and their chemistry and connection is outstanding (well, there’s no Giovanni and Laura this week, so we take our showmances where we can).

Ore says it’s been a difficult week and he’s been really nervous.  It’s a waltz love, calm down.  Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9 for a total of 36.

I have just realised that if Joanne wins this year, she’s more than likely getting a comedy contestant next year, isn’t she?  That’d be a shame, given how much better she’s been the last two weeks after ditching the props.

Daisy and Aljaž are my lulling-into-thinking-they’re-the-penultimate couple of the night (it’s always Claudia and AJ I forget).  Their dance involves darkness so they eat a meal in the dark with horror-film infrared cam on).  Louise got to go to Paris, what shizz is this?

So this is an unusual Charleston (to ‘Happy Feet’).  We see everything in black but their hands and feet in white gloves.  This could be revolutionary, or it could be full-on Dummy Dance in the list of misguided quirks this show chucks at us from time to time.  Or it could just be a quick opening gimmick and then business as usual, because I can’t imagine we’ll get through a whole Charleston without the opportunity for gurning.  Indeed, it only goes on for a couple of bars – they should maybe have attempted one thing in hold or one tricky move that way for maximum effect, but that might have been a tough ask.  Other than that, it’s decent-Charleston-by-numbers.  Daisy seems to be enjoying it but it lacks a little something for me – not entirely sure what.  I like it (a lot better than AJ and Claudia’s), but I’m not madly wowed.

Darcey says she loved the silent movie homage and thought it was well danced but she started flagging at the end and needs to tighten her core.  Len’s critique is fucking boring.  He liked it.  Bruno loved it and says it was like Betty Boop coming back to life.  Craig loved it other than a slightly late end.  What is the world coming to when Darcey gives the most sensible critique?? Scores: four 8s, despite neither Len or Bruno giving them anything to improve on, for a total of 32.

And now our next thrilling instalment of ‘this cast is broken, can we get a refund?’ as Laura and Giovanni already recorded their VT so we can’t let all that komedy footage go to waste.  We see them learning Giovanni’s ‘favourite’ dance, the jive and Laura grimacing through pain in her ankle.  She says it was the dance she always wanted to learn, but then Ore did a practically perfect one last week and she’s a dance-off contender, so they decided to sit the week out and make people on the internet froth CONSPIRACY!!  I assume, anyway.  Giovanni, in his best black mourning suit, wishes her well.

Danny and Oti aren’t in the pimp slot which means they must be expecting something good from Claudia and AJ.  Or else have felt they had to at least try and pretend the women this year have any chance.  Also, Danny has BLOKE!RUMBA so ain’t no-one wanting to close a show out with that.  Their VT?  Rumba is like tightrope walking, in the same way that it is like a free trip to France.
They are dancing to ‘How Will I Know’, which is not a rumba song, it’s a pop-disco CLASSIC and Sam Smith’s done that balliding of good pop songs shizz that we stopped recapping the X Factor over (well that, and it being so far beyond parody.  And each episode being three hours long, fifteen minutes of which was actual content).  So, in other words, fuck this noise, however much I like these two.  Egads, you’ve actually got me hoping Claudia and AJ will pull something amazing out of the bag, show.  And who thinks to themselves every week that they’re really looking forward to Claudia and AJ?  (Apart from Claudia’s babysitters and childminders and AJ’s wet nurse and whoever else they can drag out to infantalise them this week.  I fully expect their final VTs to involve their pregnant mothers going to an ante-natal class teaching their foetuses the intricacies of the paso doble).

The singer switches the lyrics to ‘if you really love me’ not ‘if he really loves me’ #gaypanic.  Oh, the dancing?  Quite nice, as bloke rumbas go, I suppose.  Bit over-exaggerated and West-End (RINGER).  His hips moved more than Louise’s, at least.

Len says it was a MASCULINE performance.  RAWR.  He did a step called the sliding doors that Len loved.  Bruno says his hips are ready for action and the dance is DIFFICULT FOR MEN and he balanced things but was a little jagged and he’d like to see it again.  Tess panics ‘but not in the dance-off!’  Craig says there was a bit too much energy in it and it felt like a ‘jazz dance’ more than a rumba.  Darcey ‘agrees with the boys’ (which ones?  They all said different stuff) about his hips.
In the Clauditorium, Claudia says Danny didn’t want to shave his chest (which is almost entirely out and has a small amount of hair centrally, to try and appeal both to those who like that and those who do not.  Smart move, wardrobe, although a bit close to sexual harassment) and he says they had an argument about it until they ‘ran out of buttons’.  He wishes his nan a happy 82nd birthday.  Wow, it’s grandparents’ day up in here. Scores: 8, 9, 9, 9 for a total of 35 and whilst this and Ore’s were good, it feels like they mainly got the scores so the week didn’t seem quite such a comedown from last week (see also: Louise).

Finally!  Aww look, it’s ickle baby AJ and Claudia, look at their widdle faces! Pinch their cheeks!  Claudia is shown struggling and AJ says she needs to loosen up her core and put aside her gymnastics training.  That’s it – no comedy VT, no bringing out of cuddly toys and rattles.

Their samba to ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ opens with Claudia atop a flight of Perspex stairs from the judges’ table, and then sees them prancing about next to a huge glitterball.  You can finally see why AJ was cast as, him being a Latin dancer, he seems so much more comfortable this week than in previous weeks – he’s quite mesmerising to watch, which I can’t say about his previous dances – but that does mean you’re looking at him rather than Claudia as is often the case with female pros and lacklustre male contestants, so it may or may not be a good distraction technique.  It’s super-fast and she is really struggling to keep up with him and her arms are a godawful mess and there’s a really cool gymnastic-style underarm turn thing at the end which is probably the closest they could find to a show-stopping moment among this week’s slim pickings.

Bruno begins by praising the glitterball, always a good sign.  He says there was so much stuff in there and ‘the girl’ had to do every step she might expect but he thought she was panicking and going ahead of the music.  Craig says it was a bit frenetic and she was like a tornado and the bounce action suffered with the speed, but it was a brilliant endeavour.  Darcey thinks she was over-pushed.  It does seem like AJ wanted to show off what he could do rather than choreographing for his celebrity.  Len says ‘the last couple and the party starts.  Great.’  Yeah, that’s how I feel, too.  He then says AJ sacrificed technique for speed by giving her too much to do and now I agree with Len and Darcey and feel a bit queasy.

Claudia (F) tells Claudia (W) that AJ makes her feel good about herself when she performs.  Scores: 8, 7, 8, 9 for a total of 32 because it was clearly scripted to get 32 and Bruno had to inflate his score to counter Craig?  IDK, the scoring tonight feels super perfunctory, like ‘what are the scores we should be seeing in week five?’ perfunctory.

Lacklustre Leaderboard:
Ore and Joanne 36
Danny and Oti 35
Louise and Kevin 33
Daisy and Aljaž 32
Claudia and AJ 32
Anastacia and Gorka 30
Judge Rinder and Oksana 29
Lesley and Anton 24
Greg and Natalie 24
Ed and Katya 18

With Laura out of the running, bottom two could be almost anyone except Ore and Danny tonight.  I’m thinking it could be Anastacia vs Claudia or Greg but, other than the top two, I’d not be hugely surprised at anyone else dancing off.  Join me tomorrow to see what happens!

*Bonus points if our readership is comprised as I think it is and you get the reference.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

This week on It Takes Two, we have learnt...

Naga is gutted to have been eliminated, but hasn't cried, and she's pleased she went out on a dance that she enjoyed performing.
- Zoe and Ian do a little foxtrot every time they go to a wedding together.
- Naga would recommend the Strictly experience to Charlie Stayt and Dan Walker.
- Judge Rinder and Oksana have a secret handshake.
- Louise has her first-ever pairs of dance shoes from childhood (RINGAH) in her dressing room to inspire her.
- Judge Rinder calls Ed "Edward".
- Ed, who wore a Knight outfit, thinks Judge Rinder’s lederhosen were ridiculous.
- Aljaž and Daisy called their ring of lights a ‘circle of trust’, which sounds a little Fifty Shades to me.
- Daisy is suffering from charleston ankles.
- Aljaž thinks his idea for the charleston sounds great in his head, but isn't sure if it will necessarily translate into the real world.
- Daisy is happy to settle for being mid-table #yearoftheman
- The music that plays when the results are being read makes Daisy go all clammy.
- Aljaž thinks the results show is getting easier; Daisy disagrees.
- Neil has been dancing for years and he's still not sure he knows how to lead.
- Neil’s dancing metaphors involve cars pulling caravans.
- The secret of good leading is to guide your partner with your body, even if you're not touching their hand.
- Neil would like to dance with Lesley. Presumably to save her from AntonLatin.
- Chloe pays close attention to people’s feet – Daisy and Ore coming in for particular criticism here.
- We would quite like to see Chloe join the judging panel next year based on her appearance on Choreography Corner this week.
- Laura and Giovanni's rehearsal space is quite small, so they crashed into the wall a lot rehearsing the quickstep.
- Mick Jagger the dog now prefers Giovanni to Laura.
- The jive is Giovanni's favourite dance.
- The terrible infantalising of AJ and Claudia extends to this show ('teenage dream'; 'high school sweethearts')
- AJ has told Claudia only to focus on the positive comments and not the negatives, but she's finding it quite hard so far.
- Zoe thought that thing that AJ and Claudia did deserved 'much' more than 6.
- Claudia is learning the dance language.
- AJ can now do a hands-free cartwheel.
- Claudia and AJ's samba will feature some "surprising" props. Like a jack-in-the-box?
- Chloe thinks having to be manly was what scuppered Ed on Saturday.
- She also thinks the dance was 'a little straight' for her.
- Paso shaping requires you to curve your arms like you're holding a beach ball.
- How you dance salsa depends on where you're from.
- Neil wants to see twenty 10s this week. Don't encourage them.
- Camilla Dallerup is doing Choreography Corner next week. That should be...interesting.
- Despite this show presenting AJ and Claudia as tiny children, they're old enough to know the video to '(Is This The Way To) Amarillo'.
- The song choices for Saturday seem like the most inappropriate ever (and we didn't even hear the tango choice)
- Oti thinks Aljaž is the most attractive pro. Don't tell Janette.
- Giovanni and Oti are both shoe addicts.
- Giovanni says he'll be five minutes late when he means two hours.
- Anastacia wasn't thrilled about being in the bottom two but was at least pleased to have a chance to do the dance-off this time.
- Last week Anastacia felt like she had done more dancing arms than ever. Dancestacia, in fact.
- Gorka is filling in for Brendan while he's ill. Anastacia is just hating it, as you can imagine.
- Brendan likes being in the dance-off.
- Brendan has never got less than 30 for a quickstep. It sounds less impressive when you realise he's only done the quickstep with his three finalists and Victoria Pendleton, though.
- Ore hasn't cried this much since his wedding.
- Ore has a very bendy thumb.
- Andrew Castle can't spell 'Murray'.
- Ore has always dreamt of doing the jive on Strictly, 'but I've never dreamt it as good as it did on Saturday.'
- Ore definitely has not got any previous dance training, whatever James Jordan might be saying.
- Ore's brain broke at being in the same sentence as Jill and Jay.
- Jo is drilling Ore a little bit. This cast and being drilled by their pros. #scandal
- Danny blew Ian away on Saturday. See, they're all at it!
- Ian doesn't know the name of any Charleston steps.  And thinks 40s-rock-n-roll-jive is a thing.
- Zoe thinks the rumba can be 'a bit eggy'. Or maybe that was just Ian, Zo.
- You always need a shelf to hold on to.
- Danny won't stop talking about their quickstep.
- Oti is not that fussed about not having had a 10 yet.
- Oti did her choreography 'differently to how it was meant to be' on Saturday.
- Danny thinks it's hard to do the rumba without looking like a girl. #masc
- Danny is a secret plant that Rupert Murdoch is using to destroy the BBC. At least according to the newspaper front pages in a dream one of us had this week.
- Joanne likes sausage and mash, but it has to be at least a couple of hours before dancing. Ian prefers fish, and Oti eats lots of chocolate to calm her down. Apparently Karen's always got some in a pinch.
- Oti accidentally told Danny what the music for their exit dance was going to be.
- In promenade position, men should look at their hands, not their partners.
- You can vote for Ian's Halloween costume - Black Swan, Beetlejuice, or Zombie Barbra Streisand.
- Greg and Natalie had to adapt their lifts three times because of his injury, so they have plenty of lifts in store for their future dances. Natalie mentioned showdance as one of these. I bet that made the internet happy.
- Phil Collins is Zoe's favourite. Natalie still seems to be more impressed by Olly Murs.
- Natalie would like to point out Greg hasn't left the show yet, despite having a difficult run of dances. #shade
- Anastacia is very enthusiastic about Gorka bossing her about.
- Claudia and AJ were meant to be 'university' students in 'high street day wear' last Saturday and it didn't work so they changed the outfit.
- Candi Staton is pronounced Stay-ton, not Stat-ton.
- Jive is Giovanni's favourite dance.
- Ed missed a hold step and they got lost, so he just made it up.
- Katya has lost her voice so is reduced to writing on boards.
- Ed's paso wasn't supposed to be camp.
- Ed is trying to choreograph his own dances using previous moves from their other dances. And I thought showdance was for the final only.
- A Hi-de-Hi end-credits style opening sequence is the perfect opening sequence you never realised the show needed.
- Brendan is too ill to dance this weekend, so Gorka is taking on his rentapro mantle (poor - Neil, too much of a spare part to even be a substitute).
- Kevin wanted to cry when Louise's footwork was featured in Len's Lens.
- Kevin never tells Jo when he's proud of her but he lost his voice screaming when they did their jive.
- There's a cupboard at the Clifton home for Jo's trophies and Kevin has a little corner. He says this in that 'it's a joke but it's actually true' voice. Poor Kevin.
- Louise burped bananas in Kevin's face during their rumba rehearsals.
- Kevin triple dipped in the tan last week because he's so much paler than everyone else and hadn't really registered that it'd get darker and darker.
- Neil and Pasha charlestoning together is the least attractive thing ever.
- Su Pollard's mum is 94.
- Aled Jones thinks this year has the best men ever. #yearoftheman
- Aled Jones wants to be Danny.
- Helen Skelton thinks Danny not getting a 10 might have helped slow the haters who think he's too perfect.
- Su Pollard calls Ore 'the biscuit' after an Oreo (or 'Ore-Oh') and says she wants to bite him.  'Without tea!'
- Aled Jones only got an 8 for his jive because he forgot it and made it up. His top tip therefore is that if you forget your steps, you should do the Saturday Night Fever moves.
- Wearing heels in the jive is a mistake.
- Helen Skelton wasn't best pleased at being partnered with 'the most serious man in showbiz', Artem, in a Christmas special.
- Su Pollard says Daisy has the best smile she's ever seen on a woman.
- Gethin gives warm hugs.
- Judge Rinder has told Oksana to speak like the queen.
- Judge Rinder's latest character-themed get up is 'the army'.
- Judge Rinder doesn't think Strictly is work.
- The further Oksana goes with the strictness, the better Judge Rinder responds.
- Judge Rinder borrowed Oksana's leggings to get into character for Fred Flintstone (?!!)
- Judge Rinder is good at press ups, as you might expect from how ripped he was in the launch show.
- Janette learned flamenco for filler purposes.
- Flamenco dancing represents the struggle, hope and pride of the Spanish working class.
- The arms in flamenco come from the soul.
- Older dancers are seen as better in flamenco as they can deliver a truer emotional expression.
- Lesley's mother was a flapper in the 20s, and was nearly 104 when she died.
- Lesley and Anton were training at Pinewood on Wednesday.
- 'Beke-y with the good hair' wins all name astons forever.
- Lesley hasn't got the hang of the tango as of Friday but will get it together for Saturday.
- Lesley and Anton are the only couple whose scores have increased week on week.
- Anastacia is on the list of people Helen Skelton would be happy to be trapped in a lift for five hours with.
- Helen Skelton thinks Ed will inspire people to take up dancing.
- Su Pollard thinks it's a good thing that Ed hasn't dropped dead, and that will be his legacy.
- Su Pollard is convinced that Amarillo can be American Smooth music.
- Judge Rinder told Aled Jones he'd take his bottom half off if he gets into the final.
- The Friday panel don't want Ed to go and Helen thinks Zoe has jinxed Lesley and Anton by saying they're improving every week.
- The mantra about everyone hating other people going takes on a really sinister turn when everyone does charity advert voice with sad plinky plonky piano music playing.
- Karen's Friday night snack involves a croissant and a big pile of biscuits.
- The other pros call Karen genetically superior because of her metabolism.
- Janette's spent her off time catching up with her previous partners. Even Julien.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Naga Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye

Week 4 Results
Sunday 16 October 2016

Last night! Our official front-runner battle between Danny and Ore kicked off in earnest when the latter became the third incarnation of the spirit of Jive, gaining 39 points in the process, and the former delivered another great performance whilst not getting 10s and thus demonstrating that he’s not really a ringer, honest, all he did was sit on a chair that one time.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ed and Katya delivered a car crash Knights and Damsels paso for the ages, whilst Anastacia and Brendan’s rumba was delivered in such a way that all signs pointed to LAST DANCE and Naga improved a bit with her Charleston whilst looking utterly and completely terrifying as she became the unexpected recipient of a komedy edit.

Tonight!  We open with an energetic pro dance to a James Brown medley, largely featuring Aljaž, Janette and Karen, whilst most of the other pros keep to the sidelines, presumably as they’re not entirely comfortable in the funk/disco genre… Apart from Anton, that is, who is somewhat improbably positioned front and centre for part of it, in a pervy-uncle style purple suit with chest wig akimbo.  He has some moves, I’ll say that for him.  The routine also showcases some funk and breakdance dancers who aren’t really properly introduced and trying to Google them hasn’t proved that fruitful, but Claudia says they are ‘Roshay, Damesh, Brakes and Brook’ and I heartily apologise for my inevitable spelling errors guys, I did try to find out who you were.  You were very good, anyway.

Daly dresswatch: A black lace number she seems to have purloined from Claudia’s wardrobe. What Winkleman’s Wearing: a pink and red dress that looks suspiciously like either a nightdress or a kids’ dress. I do quite like it though because I’m a sucker for bold colours, but it’s an unusual choice for her. 

The judges enter and try to effect some funky dancing, which ends up with a homoerotic tussle between Len and Bruno.  I guess now he’s leaving all that unexpressed tension is coming to the fore.
Recap time!  As usual, I’m only recapping new points of note or interesting editorial choices.  There’s a non-Greg floor manager stealing Greg time.  He’s a little balder and burlier so I guess they’re trying to cater for a range of tastes.  Of note in the recap: Greg’s slightly mediocre, injury-ridden dance is presented as a triumph (YEAR OF THE MAN!!), Anastacia is presented as mostly good but with room for improvement (end of a journey/pre-dance off narrative); Naga’s is presented as a mess despite garnering lots of ‘your best dance’ moments; Kevin and Louise are still trying to make a fist-bump look cute; Daisy and Aljaž’s weird rumba and Claudia and AJ’s godawful foxtrot thing don’t look great in recap.  Oh, and Ore’s jive was the greatest thing since… Jay’s jive.  Last series.  As Fatima pointed out in the comments, it’s odd how jives become this feted, legendary, thing on the show, more so than any other genre (Charlestons probably come second here) – I suppose it’s because it’s a fun, exciting dance to watch, but so are, say, pasos and quicksteps and even the most brilliant of those are rarely inscribed in the show’s mythology in the same way (I am not talking about fan talk here, but the way the show’s presenters hark on – or not – about past dances).  Even moments that are seen as the standout of their series or genre-defining – Jake Wood’s salsa, for example, don’t seem to be held up as a benchmark in the same way that Jill, then Jay and now Ore’s jives have been.

Anyway, that aside, we’re onto our first results of the evening.  Safe: Lesley and Anton; Ore and Joanne; Daisy and Aljaž; Judge Rinder and Oksana; Laura and Giovanni.  The first couple in the dance-off?  A somewhat unsurprised Naga and Pasha.  I was so focused on Naga’s hair and make-up last night that I didn’t notice the… thing… on her head – it’s like she has a barnacle-style growth on there.  It’s horrifying.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia tells Ore no-one has had a score that high so early on in the competition (apart from Christmas, but we all know that Christmas isn’t canon) (and weeks where there were five judges but one of them was Donny Osmond so that isn’t canon either) and he says she’s going to make him cry again.  Claudia says that she quite likes that. Claudia tells Laura she must be relieved to be safe and Laura says the waiting is so emotional she can’t take it (even though their judges’ scores must have revealed they were safe).  We learn that Dorien is playing a clairvoyant next week – Mumsy perhaps?  And Judge Rinder has the jive and Claudia asks if he’s worried, but he says they’ll get 40.  Daisy is also pleased to be here.

Time for special guests Madness, doing a new song rather than a classic.  It seems to be about some dodgy old bloke who’s right wing and kind of seedy.  FAMILY FUN! Suggs still looks good for his age.  I do have to say this because I have a good friend who is a huuuuuge fan, though.  Neil and Katya do some dancing about in front – not sure what genre, other than ‘school disco’ – it’s a bit odd and Neil pulls faces that make Rinder look sedate, and he’s not making me look forward to him having a celebrity partner next year (if he does).

Len’s Lens time now and we start with Kevin and Louise’s footwork and we see her dragging her heel back.. and then not, so he has to clarify that she didn’t do it correctly every time.  Then he tries to explain what he meant about Louise’s arm being too far right and Claudia is confused about what he means so he decides to grope Darcey in the name of teaching wimmin a lesson. Oh, sorry, thought I was writing a football/US politics blog there. 

We move to Judge Rinder and Darcey emphasising his bum looking like he was squatting rather than him being elegant.  I can’t imagine elegance is possible in a lederhosen-laden dance to ‘Boom Bang-a-Bang’ but there we are.  Darcey calls him a great student, though, whatever that means, and that he needs to be given a more elegant character.  Now it’s Ore and Joanne’s jive, and when I first watched this yesterday I thought some of his footwork could have been more precise, and wrote a comment about that, then I was dazzled with the pace and they 10d it all over the shop and I thought that was a bit churlish so deleted the comment before publishing – but in slow-motion you can see how he does execute the moves well but doesn’t quite have precision in the way he finishes off each step – probably due to the pace and him being an amateur, but if you’re giving something almost perfect scores you maybe don’t want to emphasise the bits where it’s not perfect in the recap.  Anyway, Bruno says he is like a praying mantis and claps him.  Finally, we see the judges’ reactions to the jive as it unfolds – Darcey leaning in and gawping, Bruno standing and gawping, Craig bobbing his head along and Len looking miserable.

Now for our next results.  Safe are: Danny and Oti; Claudia and AJ; Louise and Kevin (who is wearing an almost-Chigvintsev level of fake tan); Greg and Natalie and Ed and Katya, placing Anastacia and Brendan in the bottom two in a fairly predictable turn of events.

Anastacia says she can dance off tonight and she’s up for it.  Craig says to keep the dance moving, let the dance live and not be tempted to stop – but to think of the positives, her wonderful arms and hands and her chemistry with Brendan.  It kind of seems like a goodbye note.

In the Clauditorium, Ed thanks everyone who voted for them, Danny has the rumba next week, which, sing it now IS A PIECE OF PISS.  I mean difficult for a MAN to do.  Despite it being difficult for women this week.  Claudia asks Louise how they’ll make things more difficult next week and Kevin says ‘if harder is what Darcey wants, then harder is what Darcey gets’.  That’s barely even a single entendre, never mind a double.  Claudia F says they’ll bring out sass next week.  In a routine where they’re doing lines in detention or throwing tantrums in supermarkets no doubt.  Greg says the thought of not carrying on would be horrible (and if you, too, are affected by issues in this programme, please ring the BBC helpline).

Zoe then trailers ITT, now with much less Robin, which can only be a good thing.  With the bottom two couples now, and Anastacia says she’s positive and just being here is great, and they go off to get ready.  Nasha seems quite down and genuinely seems like she doesn’t want it to stop – as Steve said last week, maybe she just has resting pissed-off-face.  Or Stockholm Syndrome.

Anastacia and Brendan probably put in a technically better performance, but at the end she sits on the floor for a bit which looks like they’ve gone wrong, which can’t have helped with the ‘don’t stop’ message she was given from Craig.  Naga falls apart a bit and the dance has less energy than first time, which leaves the judges having to choose between a couple whose journey story has been set up to come to a close tonight (but who are generating press) and another couple who had a ‘breakthrough’ storyline but a technically worse dance off.  Neither couple is here for the long haul, but whilst I was sure Anastacia was gone pre-dance off, now I think it could go the other way.

Craig says Anastacia and Brendan danced better so he’s saving them.  Darcey saves them as well for ‘their performance value and better artistry’ (*cough*).  Bruno saves them for giving a slicker, more rounded and convincing performance and Len agrees with them.  Naga thanks Pasha for being the best teacher she’s ever had and he thanks her for being the best student he’s ever had (o..kay?) and she apologises for not being good enough and he tells her it was her best performance.  Awww.  And off they dance to ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ and another racism debate which will presumably be said to be over when the trophy is lifted by either a black celebrity or a black pro (I mean, I’m just guessing, like, but that would seem to be a way they can refute those allegations and deliver a strong storyline.  I think it generally can be hard for black and Asian contestants on reality shows, by the way, so I’m not trying to pretend otherwise.)

Who’ll go next week?  Chances are it’s going to be another woman, but which one?  Join us then to find out!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Third Coming

Week 4 Performance Show: Saturday 15 October 2016

Last week! We went to the movies and had our first (sort of) shock bottom two, with Laura facing off against Tameka and the EastEnders star leaving earlier than many of us had expected. Then! Shock news as Will left the show mid-week for personal reasons. Still, the show must go on, and to guide us through these troubled times are Tess (in an odd stripy foil dress thing) and Claudia (in black, with a quirky shoulder arrangement going on), along with the judges, whose notional attempts at dancing are grimaced through even less enthusiastically than usual.

Our contestants arrive: Louise and Kevin; Judge Rinder and Oksana; Lesley and Anton; Claudia and AJ; Ore and Joanne; Daisy and Aljaž; Naga (in a bizarre blue wig and alien-style make-up) and Pasha; Greg and Natalie; Ed and Katya; Laura and Giovanni; Danny and Oti; Anastacia and Brendan. That’s beginning to feel like a more manageable amount of contestants.

Natalie and Greg kick us off, and Greg is wearing some sort of odd Hawaiian shirt… and sporting a bandage due to the injury he sustained in the week (covered in our ITT recap). [It did seem needlessly cruel to put the redhead in a pink floral shirt. - Steve] Their VT goes on about their epic lifts, including a groin spin thing and another one where Natalie backflips through his arms which was the one that damaged his wrist. They have a surprise visitor to lift their spirits. Who could it be? Mo Farah? Jess Ennis-Hill? Louis Smith? The answer is none of the above, sadly. It’s possible Strictly 2018 star (*fingers crossed not*) Olly Murs, for the tenuous reason that they’re dancing to his ‘Wrapped Up’. 

Their salsa opens with Greg waving candy floss around and then Greg goes and gets Natalie from a ‘Shimmy Shack’ which doesn’t at look like the Shake Shack from Grease, no siree, movie week was last week, this is a whole new thing. As with all of his dances, the best portion of it involves Natalie distraction techniques – shimmying in front of him for all she’s worth, getting whirled around with gay abandon – because when he’s dancing alone, it is a bit… dad dancing. His hips and legs aren’t really doing enough and he’s rather static in the (still pretty good, but not as good as they looked in the VT) lifts as well, and they do look like they’re compensating somewhat for his injury although the last lift where he spins her on his shoulders is pretty fine. I mean, the dance still kind of works because Natalie is selling the hell out of it, but it isn’t amazing, much as I’m still rooting for this couple.

Len says it was a bit like candyfloss – tasty and sticky in the middle, and gives a 'woargh' about Greg’s bum. So he likes it this week, then? Bruno says he couldn’t take his eyes off Greg’s bum and I think we might be sailing perilously close to sexual harassment here. Otherwise, he doesn’t think Greg’s footwork was very sharp but he loved the energy. Craig thinks the hip work was a bit too square although he liked the top shimmy. Unlike the other two, he didn’t like Greg’s bum in his face. Darcey, unlike the men, makes no real mention of his bum but she loved it and thought he was in control throughout.

Scores: 7, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 28. Claudia then gets a barbershop quartet to sing part of the terms and conditions, although I think they could have really committed to the randomness of this by having them do the whole spiel.

Laura and Giovanni now and the show is clearly invested in this pairing if they’re sticking them in this slot. [That's two weeks in a row the couple who survived the dance-off turned out to be in the death slot the following week. It's odd. - Steve] Their VT is also about a special guest, Mick Jagger… who turns out to be Laura’s dog. I feel like there should be a bunch of jokes to mine out of this, but it’s too early and too bizarre and I’m too sober…

They are dancing the quickstep to 'Ballroom Blitz' which can surely only suffer in comparison to this, so maybe isn’t the wisest of moves. They’re wearing matching pink and black lacy outfits and look pretty good in them, although Laura’s dress is arguably more rock’n’roll than ballroom. The routine is nice and energetic, with some good upper-body work although the footwork could be more precise in places – from what we can see of it, given the camera keeps hiding their feet. However, she seems to enjoy it and that sells it. [Shame that it looks like her head's about to fall off the whole way through though. - Steve]

Bruno loves how effortless it looked and how they moved into the Charleston section. Craig agrees that that was the strongest part although he thought the bits in hold could have been stronger. Darcey calls it ‘fabulously fast’ and says her right shoulder rolls in a bit when travelling but overall, it was very impressive. Len says her head was overexaggerated at times, but it was flat out and if she’s in the bottom two, he’ll pickle his walnuts. 

Scores: 8, 8, 8, 9 for a total of 33. All I can think about when I look at the people in the Clauditorium is ‘poor Naga’.

Anastacia and Brendan now and she calls him ‘Big Daddy’ which is some Pamela Stephenson level of over-revelation about the nature of their dynamic. [Either that or she's come over all Tennessee Williams. - Steve] Then she takes Brendan to Ronnie Scott’s where she sings to him about how she’s doing the rumba and doesn’t want to be in the bottom two. They’re the only two there, which gives the place the impression of a private club for men rather than a jazz venue, but then they are doing the dance of pervs, so…

They’re rumba-ing to ‘The Way We Were’ and Anastacia’s dress is odd – it’s half seductress and half business bitch – the black top and blue skirt part meet in the middle as if they were a suit.  They’re dancing to black and white photos of ‘memories’ of their time together: that time they posed for promo shots! That time they were on It Takes Two! That time Anastacia couldn’t dance in the dance-off because she’d torn her mastectomy scars and the Great British Public decided she was the worst thing since having to be in that stupid European Union shit with its healthcare benefits and trade arrangements and council of human rights and ease of travel and our money being worth something and all that other lefty nonsense! It might be that I’ve watched too much X Factor and read too many Sofabet columns, but it strikes me that they’re trying to pull the old ‘see, their time is up now. MEMORIES!’ stuff on these two to get them out of there. It’s the kind of song they play over the credits when a couple dance away, not a sexy tune of sexy times (although I suppose this is Brendan in his NO! FILTHY! DIRTY! RUMBAS! time of life), plus their ‘best bits’ being displayed everywhere adds to this ‘end of the journey’ sensation. The dance itself?  Some nice bits, but not overly complicated, and slightly stilted in places, especially when they’re transitioning from one posed section to the next. It ends with her stroking his face in a total ‘goodbye’ moment.

Craig says it partly worked and partly didn’t – the rondes section was strong and her hand shaping is exquisite, but she did kick Brendan’s toe and parts were stilted. Darcey says her hands and shaping really do go with the music, but she’d rather the body undulated more (at the long word, Len gives a ‘oh, hello’) so the moves flowed into each other rather than being static. Len ‘didn’t mind it at all’ – there were a lot of lines and wiggles and he warns Brendan to not get aggressive. He says he would have liked more rumba in it and some straightening of the legs. Bruno says it was light, glamorous and stylish and looked like Hollywood movie stars, and then he basically segues into that bit in ‘Vogue’ before declaring it very tasteful. A tasteful rumba seems to be damned with faint praise. In the Clauditorium, Claudia declares the show’s new mantra that the rumba is the hardest dance of all (not even just for men!) and Anastacia says once you’re dancing to Barbra Streisand, it can’t be ‘too that way’ because Babs exudes chastity. Scores: 6, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 27.

Claudia (F) and AJ now, whom I’ve yet to warm to, despite their being technically good and entirely inoffensive. Maybe I’m just a jellus hater envying their youth. Or maybe they just don’t have an edit beyond ‘awww cute, plus gymnastics’ which… even Louis Smith had the draw of his cool indifference matched with Flavia’s…full on Flavia. Oh dear God. AJ is telling Claudia that their dance is going to be set in a school. AND THEN, they arrange for her former teachers to arrive –although they call them ‘her teachers’ and them ‘being used to marking her work’ as if she were still at school, and she looks mortified throughout as she would. Dear God show, stop with infantalising these two ACTUAL ADULT HUMANS. They’re probably already self-conscious about looking young and having to take ID with them everywhere (I imagine) – and the last thing any 18 or 21 year old wants is people telling them they’re a cute ickle child. I dread to think what their rumba is going to be like, and their paso at this rate is going to be them sticking their coats up as capes and running round the playground. 

I think I have now found my ‘in’ with this pairing, and it’s being outraged on their behalf.

Their foxtrot to ‘I Really Like You’ opens with AJ standing by some rainbow-themed lockers (because the show’s masterminds have clearly decided the audience for this pair is Tumblr circa 2012). The dance itself never really gets going, and the song choice really doesn’t suit it – it’s not got any dynamics in it for the footwork to connect with and so, even if some of the moves are technically well executed, the whole thing just looks weird. Then it ends in a really unfortunate pose, where AJ looks like he’s strangling Claudia and he opens a locker TO PUT HER CORPSE IN and grins maniacally in the mirror.  So that escalated quickly. I’m guessing the symbolism of it all was that he was a gay kid being forced to dance with a girl and finding it all awkward and not how things should be, so he then strangles heteronormativity and shoves it in the closet? IDK - I am not sure what I just watched there AT ALL.

Tess repeats the ‘pocket rockets’ and ‘adorable’ lines they keep pulling out. Darcey says she loved the storytelling (umm) and that Claudia’s top line is excellent. Len says she did very very well, because she is YOUNG AND MODERN whilst he is OLD AND TRADITIONAL (which is never really developed because Len) but he liked her footwork and ‘for your class it’s first rate’. Answers on a postcard, please. Tess says it’s a ‘gold star from head teacher’ and Bruno calls them a ‘teenage dream team’. He’s 21, Bruno. He calls them ‘enthusiastic and keen to please’ and I just vomit in my mouth a bit. He could see how she tried to get the technique but there was a moment where it looked like she got on the wrong foot and AJ says ‘no, it was perfect’. Bruno says it needs to look more flowing than angular. Craig says it had gapping and lacked grace and elegance (true dat) and he thought it misrepresented the foxtrot entirely. Youch! (I hated it too, Craig, don’t worry)

In the Clauditorium, Claudia F tries to convince us that AJ’s a hard taskmaster by telling us he says ‘heel turn. Big steps… small’. Yeah, love, you’re going to have to g some to convince us he’s Christian Grey when they’re pretending he’s Kurt Hummell. Scores: 6, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 30.

After a quick preview of what’s coming up, Tess tells us Danny and Oti will be dancing to an orchestral theme, which is our cue for a Claudia misunderstanding – this time an ‘aww, kestrel’ and she has a plastic kestrel on her arm, and to land it, she calls it Snuggles.

OH MY WORD, Ed Balls is wearing a black upturned cauldron or something on his head.  Tess tells us he’s playing a knight. We’re not in a theme week and I’m getting this level of shiz? Their VT involved Katya taking Ed to a medieval banquet place to put on a suit of armour and do some combat training whilst she flounces around in princess gear. The way he delivers ‘I am now Ed the Knight and will slay the paso doble on Saturday’ like he’s your dad telling you he’s popping down the shops for a pint of milk is quite something.

Their paso, to ‘Holding Out For a Hero’ (YASS SLAY ETC) opens with Katya tied to some sort of pillar and calling for help, then Ed bopping on in full on local-community-centre-panto knight garb (sans lance, helmet and shield, but replete with a cape made from a curtain) to untie her. The camera pulls back and we see an actual FIRE BREATHING DRAGON on stage (your definition of actual depends on how far you could say AJ and Claudia’s last dance was a foxtrot). The dance is very lumpen and ungainly and he doesn’t seem to be sure what he’s doing – and it’s not very distinguishable as a paso until the end when they actually remember to use his cape, but you can see he is trying to put the effort in, I  guess. The whole thing is camp as fuck and sits somewhere on the thin line between ‘komedy klassic’ and ‘abomination’ –although probably comes down on the side of the latter. I guess at least the storytelling is clear… In the balcony, Janette is howling with laughter… and probably wishes she’d come up with it. I’m intrigued to know how much of the komedy stylings are Katya and how much are the producers – I feel like we still don’t know much about her yet to understand what she's truly about. [Well, according to Ed on It Takes Two, he wasn't trying to make it camp on purpose, so who even knows what the artistic intention is with these two. - Steve]

Tess says something went wrong – and if Tess can see that, then… Len says they’ve had a bunch of Balls on Strictly – Zoe Ball, Johnny Ball, and Bobby Ball did a Christmas special and, erm, Michael Ball done a singing that time, and NONE OF EM DUN LIFTED THE GLITTERBALL AND NEITHER WILL YOU. Bruno says it had poor shaping and was strangely compelling but won’t get a good score. Craig says he was mincing about and was camper than Frank Spencer and it was utterly dreadful. Darcey says the armography was most upsetting and he’s done better before, but she liked the performance value.

In the Clauditorium, Ed says he’s trying but it did go a lot better in rehearsals. Scores: 2, 5, 5, 4 for a total of 16 and the lowest of the series so far but not the lowest ever paso on the show (jointly held between two memorably bad ones: Chris and Hanna in S1 and Dennis and Izabella in S3, both with scores of 15). All the women lean into Ed and give him a hug, which might have been his secret plan all along.

Now we come to Pasha and #prayfornaga. Bless her, I bet she never expected to become a full on komedy kontestant, but the ‘mermaid’ that looks more like an alien Oompa Loompa (Gene Wilder version) look they’ve given her certainly suggests that’s the route they’re taking.

Their VT reminds us that Pasha spent an age fiddling with her crotch last week instead of dancing (He can fiddle with…) [WE GET IT  - The world] and then her meeting him at a Sea Life centre or equivalent wearing flippers and a snorkel so they can dance ‘under water’. She does a ‘making a splash’ joke and at least she’s embracing the madness.

Their Charleston, to something called ‘Minnie the Mermaid’, which I do not recognise at all, opens with Pasha in a cut off scuba suit, wielding a trident and opening up Naga’s clam. WHAT? This actually happened. She is in a dress made of silver Christmas trimmings, wearing a blue wig and made up almost entirely in silver. It makes the wig and concealer lips of a fortnight ago look good. I was entirely frightened for this dance, but actually, the fact that she’s fully embracing the madness works in its favour. She seems to have relaxed a bit now she’s come to terms with not being technically that good, and this imbues the dance with more energy than some of her previous, more stilted attempts. She’s buying into the ungainly lifts and wacky arm movements and, as a result, it comes across as quite a confident performance – it’s not very technically precise, but it’s enjoyable to watch rather than something where I’m holding my breath for her. And it ends with Pasha lifting her by the vag as all good Strictly dances do. Everything should have been against that dance, but I think it actually worked – not sure how they’ll manage to capitalise on that madcap energy in ballroom, though.

Bruno calls it fun underwater, but slippery on dry land, but as a mermaid you’d expect that. She says she was finding her sea legs.  He says the legs were messy though, and Craig agrees. He thinks the smile was wonderful but it was messy and the lift made it look like she’d been harpooned. Darcey says it was fun and had a lot of character and energy and was a real improvement. Len says… wait for it… she certainly came out of her shell. Len snarks that Craig has criticised Charlestons in the past for being too precise and this for being too sloppy so ‘I don’t know what you’re on about’ as if it’s not entirely possible for something to find an appropriate mid-point. In other words, fuck off Len.
They bounce up to the Clauditorium. Claudia repeats that this is Naga’s Charleston breakthrough, and I know that’s an annual storyline, but it’s usually bestowed on a mid-range man. Scores: 5, 6, 7, 6 for a total of 24. So… not that much of a breakthrough after all? Brendan calls it undermarked and Claudia compliments Naga’s sequinned eyebrows. Claudia previews ‘Danny conducting an orchestra, and Dave Arch dancing a quickstep’.  Heh.

Louise and Kevin now, and Louise is pretending her bar is set so low that Bruno dancing along with her ‘Flashdance’ is a highlight of her time so far. Their VT takes an interesting tactic – Kevin basically tells her ‘I know you waited until you could ring your way to the final but unfortunately, this is the year of the megaringers so we have to make it look like you’re working doubly hard also we might need a gimmick beyond mum soon, when is Jamie coming to do these VTs?’ Louise is shown dancing in her kitchen, which is very clean and very sparse.

They are foxtrotting to ‘Tears Dry on Their Own’ and we open with them seated on the Susanna Reid memorial sofa. Louise even pushes Kevin and everything. On ITT they said this was a 60s-themed dance, although their costuming is borderline 50s/60s and I’m pretty sure there’s a Wonderbra going on, going on Louise’s suddenly fuller frontage, which is very 90s, with a song that’s very 2000s. Sidenote: All four of Kevin’s foxtrots have been retro, and three of them have started sitting down (although in Kellie’s, he was standing). There’s a bit of muckin abaht at the start with her doing the reeling in the fishing line move and there’s another random part half way through where they break genre, but otherwise, it’s your average Kevin Clifton old-fashioned romantic foxtrot. All very lovely and twee and well-danced but leaving you wanting a fiery paso or random witchy tango.

Craig really enjoyed it and calls it clean, engaging, gorgeous. Darcey loved the storytelling and the way she extends – but she thinks Louise is a natural dancer (RINGAH) and Kevin can push her further. Len compliments her excellent footwork but says she got a little too far on Kevin’s right side and her arm had to stretch a bit and then he snarks at people not to boo COS HE’S JUS’ TRUTH TELLIN’. Bruno calls it a soap opera to music. Clearly Bruno hasn’t been watching the same soaps as me, because it’s all hot air balloon crash followed by Surprise! Catholic priest sex and drunk doctors drilling holes in people’s heads and possibly killing them ooops these days. And that was just ten minutes of Tuesday’s Neighbours. [Maybe he's been watching EastEnders, where it's all about fortnightly bin collections. - Steve]

In the Clauditorium we are reminded that Louise TRIES VERY HARD and is also a mum. Scores: 8, 8, 8, 9 for a total of 33 and their highest score. In the background, Karen looks very sad. Awww. Claudia cues up Daisy and Aljaž later by saying they’re dancing to George Michael and Daisy got chocolate on her top. She was careless with her Wispa. OY.

Danny and Oti now and Tess leans on the judges’ table, the act of standing having proved too tiring during a long show like this one. And she sets up Danny’s next storyline (as trailered all week on ITT) – has he ‘coup de’ peaked too soon? Their VT hasn’t quite got that message yet, though, so instead sends him to badly conduct an orchestra and make some terrible Bruce-level puns that he looks so embarrassed by he’s almost crying.

Their quickstep is to ‘I Won’t Dance’ and by god is it glorious. It opens with him (in full tails) as a conductor doing some showboating solo work up on the stage, before a neat move where he and Oti dance with their backs to each other before coming into hold, at first holding the baton and then disposing of it with the neatest sleight of hand deployed by a celeb on this show in… well, probably ever. It’s super-fast and joyous and energetic and mostly smooth (his upper body framing is maybe a touch loose) and he’s such a mega-ringer it’s ridiculous, but it’s so enjoyable nonetheless.

Tess declares it amazing and complicated and Darcey calls it pure class, outstanding, with him leading Oti across the floor, which is HARD FOR A MALE CELEBRITY and calls it one of the best classic quicksteps she’s seen. Len snarks that ‘up on there’ got on his wick but when he got on the dancefloor it was good. Bruno compares it to a Hollywood movie (yet again) and asks if they missed something before retracting his comment. Craig says he’s on fire and applauds him. I’m sensing some 10s maybe?

In the Clauditorium, Claudia tells us Danny’s mum dresses her dogs as Danny and we see a picture of them in top hat and tails. The Sewing Bee is calling! If it’s still allowed to be on in these post-C4 days anyway. Scores: four 9s for a total of 36 and probably what it deserves, but I’m surprised Darcey didn’t whip out her 10 for it.

Now Daisy and Aljaž and Daisy says the best part of their Mary Poppins dance was when she clicked her fingers and he appeared… ie not the actual dancing. I’m not sure if she’s being TV humble or just in love with the show’s gimmicks. Other than that, their VT is super boring and she’s going to have to get a gimmick if she wants to avoid a shock boot.

Their rumba is to ‘Careless Whisper’ which seems to be a fraction too fast, meaning the dance feels a little unusual for its genre, as we don’t get the long, drawn-out poses (her dress, by the way, has its ‘flesh’ panels made of fabric that is far too orange – even a TOWIE level of tan would look pale against it, so it dulls the mood a little). Aljaž may not be in white trousers, for a change, but they’re still snugly fitted, for those keeping notes on such things. They’re dancing in the centre of a circle of lights which helps keep focus on them and lends it a sultry mood. The technique here is very good – her modelling physique comes into its own as she stretches her legs and they go on forever. It’s also much, much more varied than Anastacia and Brendan’s. It is possibly a little too fast to feel truly romantic, but it’s an enjoyable routine for the most part.

Len says it’s a difficult dance and he loves that she elongates her body and is precise in her movements. Bruno says it featured every single rumba step and it was just spectacular. He says there was one point where the flow stopped a little but other than that, it was what you’d want to see in every rumba. Craig says her free arm lacked a little direction and definition – it was wafting rather than having strength and resistance and it lacked a little chemistry/emotional connection. Darcey disagrees with this and says Darcey used her whole body and its difficult to sustain the balance in the long, languid moves she was executing.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia says she heard Daisy say this week that it was the best experience of her life. Daisy says that it is. Scores: 7, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 31 and I thought they were gearing up for some 9s – but then I feel like the scores have landed a little lower than the comments all night.

Judge Rinder and Oksana now. He looks back over Darcey’s comments that he’s cute and Oksana says it means she has competition. He says he never imagined two women competing for him. He says they’re dancing to ‘Boom Bangy Bang’ (as if he doesn’t know) by BLOODY LULU and pulls the requisite face for that announcement. Other than that, they’re doing a Viennese Waltz, so you can guess how the VT goes from here… At least we’re spared another wind tunnel.

Their dance opens with Oksana, in full milkmaid gear, milking a cow, whilst Rinder, in authentic-looking lederhosen (and a less authentic looking stripy PJ top) arrives with milk pails over his shoulder. I’m not sure I imagined Tulips From Amsterdam being out-tweed but here we have it, although it’s being played slightly more for laughs. Indeed, it’s the kind of routine that would feel very much at home in panto (and I can see him doing the panto circuit in time). His face is till going some, although more cheesy-grinning than full on gurning. It’s not too bad a routine, as comedy ones go – more Mark Benton than Ed Balls, I would say.

Bruno says it showed he can do restrained facial expressions (…ish). Craig says it didn’t make his heart go boom bang a bang but the facial expressions were improving, for a while. He thinks there might be a delicious dancer hidden underneath it all. Darcey says he’s great in hold, but doesn’t want him to over-exaggerate when he comes out of hold as she can see him overthinking. Len says he has a good balance between good dancing and fun. Scores: 6, 7, 7, 7 for a total of 27.

Lesley and Anton now. Their VT takes the Aliona route of a quick jolly for the pro as they rehearse in Malta, where she’s filming what looks to be the Christmas special of Birds of a Feather and he asks her to rehearse in front of the cast. She basically tells him where to go before doing it anyway and we discover that Linda’n’Pauline call her ‘Les’. Nice.

They’re Charlestoning to ‘Won’t You Charleston With Me’ and the range of Charleston steps utilised is fairly minimal, presumably due to the busy filming schedule and flying, but what is there is energetic and delivered with a sense of fun. Some of it could be more precise, but it’s damn fine for a woman of 71, with some fab high kicks, and after I took a little warming up, I am living for this partnership now. Anton seems to actually be having fun for a change, now we don’t need to put him through either ‘poor Anton’ or ‘Anton’s BEST partner ever no honest we mean it this time’ any longer. The audience really, really love this one.

Craig says it was shocking – shockingly good- she has amazing stamina and it was strong and vibrant, the swivel and cross lost it a bit at the end, but he loved it. Darcey says she brings a ‘cheeky, naughty little girl’ to it and somewhere Claudia F weeps at her future. Len wishes her a happy birthday and says it was her best dance. Bruno says she always delivers and was the perfect gangster moll, looking like a 20-year old, with great timing, high performance value and great placing.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia says Anton’s having the time of his life and Lesley says it’s been a hectic week for her and they welcome Lesley’s daughter in the audience, whom Lesley outs as being pregnant. Let’s hope that wasn’t a secret. Scores: 7, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 31 and Anton calls her a dream. This pair could be the surprise success of the series.

Ore and Joanne are in the pimps slot following their success last week. Their VT mentions how they did well last week so to up the game, they need to go to Wembley to rehearse their jive in football gear. Because… kicks, apparently. And he presents sports?

Their jive is to ‘Runaway Baby’ and it’s super-fast and energetic, and those of us who saw Ore’s ‘Hey Ya’ were looking forward to seeing this from him – he is very limber, so his legwork is great, the performance frenetic and whilst it doesn’t have the gimmick of the newly blessed Jive of St Jay Peace Be Upon It, it’s a damn good classic example of the genre.  If I’m being picky, Joanne’s doing too much skirt swishing, but I’ll give the girl a break as she’s put the props down (in a week where most other people were using them). I feel breathless just watching that.

Darcey loves it and is astonished by the pace and the high standard. Len calls it ‘show stopping, jaw dropping, eye popping’ and ‘move over Jay’. At this stage I’m thinking it’s Ore vs Danny for the trophy with the third finalist being a woman? (Daisy, Louise… possibly Lesley as an outside bet?).  

Bruno says it’s joined the ‘holy trinity’. Guessing that’s now to be known as Jill, Jay and Jo (sorry Ore, but you don’t alliterate). Craig says Danny had better watch it as Ore’s now the one to beat. See, told you. I can see why they didn’t give Danny 10s now, they were clearly waiting for this one. Scores: 9, 10 (delivered in the usual obnoxious way Darcey delivers her first 10 of the series), 10, 10 for a total of 39 and they’re both in tears of unbelief, Ore especially. Claudia asks him if he’s alright and he blubs ‘I’m not!’ Aww. And after a shaky start, Jo’s last two dances are really repaying our hope that she could do something great given a good partner. [Agreed - I was a bit worried at first but I think Joanne is really delivering now, and I love this partnership. - Steve] Claudia declares it better than her own wedding.

1. Ore and Joanne - 39
2. Danny and Oti - 36
3=. Laura and Giovanni - 33
3=. Louise and Kevin - 33
5=. Daisy and Aljaž - 31
5=. Lesley and Anton - 31
7. Claudia and AJ - 30
8. Greg and Natalie - 28
9=. Anastacia and Brendan - 27
9=. Judge Rinder and Oksana - 27
11. Naga and Pasha - 24
12. Ed and Katya - 16

That’s looking like the judges have pushed Laura and Giovanni towards safety, with Anastacia and Naga at risk (possibly Ed, but I suspect he’ll hang on until Halloween at least), and Claudia and Greg on the edge of SHOCK! BOTTOM! TWO! Danger. Join me tomorrow to see who actually goes!

Friday, 14 October 2016

This week on It Takes Two, we have learnt...

- The tweets about Tameka leaving make it sound like she’s died.
- Tameka is going to try and slip some cha cha cha into EastEnders.
- Tameka is disappointed she didn’t do a cha cha or a rumba. Possibly the first person ever who is sad they didn’t get to do a rumba?
- Tameka’s a tissue-under-each-eye-when-crying kind of lady.
- Gorka is going to keep dancing. Isn’t that usually the celeb’s line?
- Lesley’s rehearsal wig looked like that time Monica in Friends was made over to look like Dudley Moore.
- Ore managed to eat loads of glitter in rehearsing their dance.
- Louise has always wanted to have crimped hair [Curls, Steve. Do we need to revoke your superfan status? – Rad] [I never claimed to be a fan of 80s hairstyles! - Steve]
 - Gorka pinned Aljaž to the wall and handcuffed him. WHAT? WE’RE JUST REPORTING WHAT HAPPENED.
- Brendan is a gentle giant.
- Anastacia thought they were the ‘bottom feeders’ and was planning what steps to improve on in the dance-off when they were waiting to be called.
- A German viewer tweeting proves that Anastacia has WORLDWIDE appeal.
- Anastacia felt ‘Princessipal’ when dancing.
- Anastacia says she didn’t wake up looking like a Princess. Brendan says she did. SCANDAL!
- It took an hour and a half for three women to make-up Brendan in the bald cap, and his dressing gown got less and less concealing as it went on. Ooo-err.
- Anastacia thinks the rumba is like a slow and passionate cha cha.
- Karen Hardy loves the smell of the ballroom.
- Zoe thinks Karen Hardy is basically Norma Desmond.
- Karen Hardy thinks salsa should be earthy and edgy and ‘just a bit off’. Remind us never to go round her house for nachos.
- Danny’s posture is annoying Karen H.
- Karen H was loving the Will vs Len drama.
- ‘Armology’ has joined ‘armography’ in this show’s armoury of arm-y adjectives (ssssh I know they’re nouns but that’s not alliterative).
- Daisy spent the week trying to dress like Mary Poppins and role played Aljaž’s nanny. We’d like to… etc etc.
- Aljaž doing a cute little clap at his footwork being called ‘neat’ is everything.
- Aljaž’s partners, except Alison, have all scored 90 or higher as a cumulative total of the first three weeks, meaning he’s had almost as many ringers as Kevin Clifton.
- Aljaž does not like to be reminded that he’s not had a lot of luck with the rumba.
- Aljaž blames his and Abbey’s rumba hitting the bottom two on Halloween, because he scares easily.
- Daisy’s little sister is sad she’s too young to come and watch the show live, but there’s a children’s day around Children in Need time, assuming Daisy is still in at that point.
- Tuesday is the most productive day of the week.
- Len basically cursed Laura and Giovanni by saying they’d be around for ages.
- Laura ripped her tights during the dance but kept a second pair backstage in case they ended up in the dance-off, which proved to be quite fortuitous.
- Giovanni tells Laura how amazing he is every day.
- Giovanni has been drilling into Laura’s hips. Or words to that effect, anyway.
- Zoe is trying to spin the idea that being in the bottom two in week three is a good thing, as three couples who were in the bottom two that early made the final. Two of them were in series one and two, however, which only went on for about six weeks anyway, and the other couple was Simon and Kristina in series 12 who were dragged there against public indifference by the judges.
- There is a dance to BLOODY LULU this week. It doesn’t involve Brendan, though. He’s probably just having palpitations at the thought.
- Pasha lying on the floor blowing a big pink horn is not quite as attractive as we’d expect.
- There’s going to be a big pro dance homage to James Brown this weekend.
 - Anton was there at the birth of hip-hop.
- Giovanni and Katya have problems with singing in time and in tune.
- Karen H is joining in the patronising of ‘Little AJ’.
- New professionals bring new choreography.
- No-one likes a soggy meringue.
- Karen H doesn’t want to see good tricks and complicated moves early on in the run.
- Louise needs to lock in her legs.
- Karen Hardy is disappearing to New Zealand for a couple of weeks. No word on who’s replacing her in Khoreography Korner, but Chloe’s busy doing very little, so if she just Kardashians-up her name…
- Naga wasn’t flustered when her buckle got caught because Pasha had given her a lot of drilling the week before. He could drill… [OK WE GET IT – The readers]
- Pasha thinks Naga gave a ‘tangolicious’ performance.
- Pasha is using his ‘special stick’ to get Naga to focus on him. *Fans self*
- There are no harnesses in Pasha and Naga’s Charleston.
 - There is, however, another wig. And their first lifts of the series.
- Ian likes to draw attention to Ore’s groin area.
- Louise is currently leading with her toes, not her heels.
- Ian has always wanted to be a Barbara Streisand impersonator.
- The Strictly team are the best green make-up team in the business. Which might explain how often Poor Pasha gets covered in the stuff.
- Katya thinks Ed looked pretty in green mascara.
- Jeremy Vine is obsessed with Ed.
- Ed Miliband thinks Ed Balls is a national treasure, which might explain the state of the Labour party around the time of the last election.
- Ed was demonstrating his cape work at home to his family and sent the crockery flying.
- Ian is gutted no-one pointed out how good Greg’s feet were last week, especially as they’re looking very flat this week.
- Naga needs to set her face alight. Bit harsh, Ian.
- Ian thinks Ed and Katya were grossly undermarked last week, especially the pot-stir move.
- Ian thinks Ed’s paso walk is currently a cross between Larry Grayson and Frankie Howerd.
- Oti and Danny never got their dance right in rehearsals. Allegedly.
- Danny did his own stunts on Hollyoaks.
- Danny was stressed all week about his dance. Oti was not.
- Oti doesn’t compliment Danny all week.
- Danny’s Len impression is about a 5/10.
- Danny is enjoying the quickstep, whereas he was stressing for his previous dances, so he’s worried it might go wrong. He better not be as ‘Meh Nehves’ as Abbey Clancy or we’ll go off him before the series ends.
- Judge Rinder wanted to have another go at the Charleston. (What, in the dance-off?)
- Judge Rinder was so excited that he didn’t drop Oksana on the show, after dropping her head in rehearsal, that he forgot the next step. - Oksana had never been dropped before.
- Judge Rinder wants to try bum bongos with Zoe. She thinks she might need a mouth guard and some pillows. Far too much information for a pre-watershed show.
- Judge Rinder thinks he looks like a mildly frightened Edwina Currie in his Fred Flintstone wig.
- Danny is more excited about his quickstep than any of their previous dances.
- In a tribute to former Come Dancing judge, Peggy Spencer, who died earlier this year (damn you 2016 etc), we learned: how she began teaching young men to dance during the war; that Ian Waite was delighted when she knew his name; that she implored Karen H to keep her head up and smile; that Karen H had some fierce 80s hair; that she once did some SAME SEX DANCING on Blue Peter; that she was still teaching dance from her wheelchair into her 90s; that she would mark the competitors when watching Strictly.
- Vicky Gill found making a Viennese Waltz Milkmaid (for Oksana) a difficult challenge, despite half of Pixie Lott’s outfits looking remarkably like that.
- Chloe is coming in handy as a model for Lisa in make-up.  Glad they're using her time productively.
- Lisa’s an eyes-before-face maker-upper.
- A lot of the pairings seem to be colour-coordinating their training outfits.
- The American Smooth was one of the quickest routines for Jo to put together.
- Gene Kelly’s widow loved Jo and Ore’s dance and wants to meet them.
- The jive is the dance Ore always wanted to do.
- Lesley's mum was playing tennis into her nineties.
- Apparently movie week was Anton’s best week in ages. So we’re already denying that he made the final last year?
- Lesley is working 14-15 hour days right now.
- People complain about Lesley always wearing the same trousers in training every day, but she does wash them at night.
- Friday was Lesley’s 71st birthday and they bought her an Anton cake and balloon.
- Joanne has amazing abs.
- Jeremy Vine is sad that Will and Karen have left. Well, Karen, anyway.
- Zoe’s mum is a Marian Keyes fan.
- Laura thinks being in the dance-off has given her confidence, but Jeremy Vine thinks it will have made her nervous.
- Marian Keyes thinks Naga should be happier at getting to look at Pasha’s little Pasha face and hearing his little Pasha voice all day.
- Jeremy Vine thinks Charleston is the hardest dance to learn.
- Marian Keyes hates the rumba as it brings her out in a full body sweat because it’s aiming for ‘sensual’ and lands on ‘cringey’.
- One of the pros told Jeremy Vine to watch out for the rumba because it makes people angry.
- Marian Keyes thinks Ore is a ‘real Strictly person’.
- Jeremy Vine is ‘big into Ed Balls’.
- The judges watch your feet, but the audience watch your face.
- Jeremy Vine thinks Ed and Katya will make the final.
- Kevin’s birthday was yesterday and he went for a meal with Louise and Jamie, Frankie and her husband, Karen and some friends. He got a shirt and the new FIFA game. Good to see that Karen actually remembered to get him anything, considering what came out on All Star Mr & Mrs.
- Louise apologised to Kevin for getting a 7.
- Kevin and Louise will be doing a 60s-themed dance. Maybe he’ll hit the 2010s in a few weeks’ time at this rate.
- Anastacia is freaked out about the rumba because ‘every step is seen’.
- All of a sudden, rumba is HARDER FOR LADIES. It’s like the entire logic of this show has crumbled.
- Daisy thinks they don’t want her to look too sexy for her rumba.
- Greg thinks he’s ‘a bit of a wally’.
- One of Greg and Natalie’s lifts went very wrong and he tore something in his wrist.
- Natalie says they were doing the most epic lifts ever seen in a salsa, but they’ve had to take out the really good ones after Greg’s injury so WE WILL NEVER KNOW.
- Laura has a galaxy-print dressing gown.
- Laura's mum has been bringing her iron tablets.
- Claudia can only watch her performances back once.
- All the female celebs keep standing on the male pros’ feet in training.
- The show would like your home videos, BUT ONLY IN PORTRAIT mode.
- Lesley has taken to wearing her training tops inside out, but it isn’t clear if this is to hide some sort of logo or just sartorial accident.
- Greg’s a grower. Ooh-err.
- Marian Keyes’ husband is a little too fond of Daisy.
- LA PRENJ loves Judge Rinder. Quelle surprise.
- Marian Keyes wants Danny and Oti to get worse and go wrong on purpose because he’s too good and it’s boring.
- Jeremy Vine thinks Danny and Oti will win.
- LA PRENJ thinks Danny will be in danger this week because people will think he’s safe; Jeremy and Marian think Anastacia.
- A ‘small part’ of Greg has fallen in love with dancing.
- Gethin thinks Gorka, Aljaž and Giovanni should form a group called GAG. Who knew that was his kink?
- Boybands give a lot of love. (Actually, we probably knew that already.)
- Aljaž and Daisy and Giovanni and Laura went to see a dance competition in the Royal Albert Hall this week and Laura got really bored.
- If LA PRENJ did the show, her partner would be Anton. It’s not clear if this is who she’d choose or who she expects she’d get given.
- The singer from The Vamps looks a bit like AJ
- Blogger doesn’t give you any way to restore draft posts, so we lost several days’ content by accident. Stupid Blogger.