Thursday, 14 December 2017

I want two-dance with somebody

Top five perform (aka semi-finals/two-dance week)
Saturday 9 December

Last week! Strictly went to the musicals! A bunch of ties on the leaderboard led to a dance off between Alexandra and Davood, with the latter being sent home following his clumpy Argentine Tango. We also saw the last of short episodes as tonight sees the return of two dance week and next week brings us yet another bloated final good luck with that Steve.

(Also, apologies for the lateness of this, it coincided with one of my busiest weeks of the year.  Also I've just got in from Wizard of Oz at the Sheffield Crucible which was adorable).

We get a pre-credit teaser full of dramatic music and harsh spotlighting borrowed from the X Factor/an interrogation chamber in which the contestants pretend to be in one of those army recruitment videos where they spout out words like ‘ fearless’ ‘fast’, ‘flexible’, ‘dedicated’, ‘determined’, ‘disciplined’, ‘strong’ and…  that is all the alliteration we can afford this week apparently.

Credits! For some reason my brain refuses to commit Charlotte’s last name to memory and every time I tried to think of it I end up running through all the surnames of Charlottes I know, then ‘Hathaway?’ ‘Hilton?’ ‘Houston?’ Charlotte, we have a problem (SORRY).

Tess and Claudia enter, flagged by Pasha and Kevin who are both flaunting a lot of chest. Daly dresswatch: sequined and red, very Christmassy. What Winkleman’s wearing: black trousers and a top with some slightly weird fringing around it. The judges arrive, Darcey in a very revealing lacy black dress, Bruno in a natty mauve jacket, Craig in black or at least a deep navy/purple/something and Shirley in a sequined black dress. The camera has clearly caught on to everybody watching to see if Shirley makes her mark, because instead of zooming out on all four of them as they take to the podium, it focuses solely on her. I don’t know if this is its way of trying to get her to her mark on time or not but she just about manages it so hooray for that.

The stars enter: Mollie and AJ, Gemma and Ali asks, Debbie and Giovanni, Joe and Katya, Alexandra and Gorka. We will come to their outfits as we get to each couple in turn, but some of these people have definitely lucked out more than the others.  When it comes to dancing to the theme tune? Just Giovanni and Katya can be bothered these days.  For shame, everyone else.

The first couple of the evening are Joe and Katya. They are both wearing blue and looking fairly snappy, but Joe has been painted a really unappealing shade of orange by the fake tan team and it’s massively off-putting. Their VT features a bit of training footage and then we get onto the annual business of sitting down with an iPad to see who your target audience is a.k.a. the pros pretending they put together a compilation of footage for their celebrity-I really don’t know why they need to keep it that pretence but there we are. They seem to appeal to people of all ages and genders and also dogs. People’s Champion! (I’m steeling myself already for next week when he goes full Tom Chambers, sorry Joe, you still seem lovely and I'd be happy to see your Viennesse Waltz again so do that please.)

They are dancing the American smooth to 'Have you Met Miss Jones?' (See what they did there?) The Bridget Jones theme promised earlier in the week is absolutely nowhere to be found, and I honestly think a Bridget Jones themed dance for movie week next year could work - you could choose from the fireman's pole bit, the big pants bit, the Christmas jumper bit, or even, if we have same-sex couples, the bit where Hugh Grant and Colin Firth roll around on the floor together.  Is Renee Zellwegger even doing anything these days?  Get her booked.  

I think Joe has had one of the more favourable dance draws this week. American smooths are always likely to be crowdpleasers but doing one in the semi-final surely has to make you a lock on unless you are incredibly unpopular (which we know he isn’t). This is a foxtrot themed American smooth and very much in the old Hollywood Fred and Ginger style. It’s definitely one of their better routines and is very well performed, making the most of his musical theatre routes, even if the Tom James a vocation of him doesn’t seem to have slowed down any. There are some nice lifts although one or two of them are a little awkward in the transition and there’s a very odd part where they look like they’re strangling each other, but other than that a lot of fun, playing to his strengths and, unless they (or even if they) royally mess up their second dance, it should see them comfortably through the next week. There were no surprises here, but having seen what they did last week and what they're about to do later, perhaps we don’t always need a surprise.

We cuts to our celebrity guests in the audience-this week Danny Mac and Judge Linda before we welcome back Dave arch, the orchestra and this week’s selection from the rotating roster of singers: Hayley, newish boy Jamie, Andrea and Tommy.

Shirley says his timing was extraordinary, his personality exquisite and there were some glorious movements. Henrik from Holby city nods approvingly. Bruno says one of the lifts gave him palpitations and getting out of the last lift was nothing short of miraculous. He praises the jazzy swing. Craig says he lost a little balance and his posture sometimes meant he leant towards Katya a bit too much, but it was fantastic and explosive, charismatic and stylish. Darcey says she enjoyed the lifts and they could have been really awkward but he brought plenty of glamour and sweeping lines.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia reminds him he is the first Scot to make to the semi-final. Jo says his mouth is to try to talk. Scores: eight, nine, nine, nine for a total of 35. I can’t believe Bruno only gave him a nine after those comments.

Terms and conditions time and they drag out Ore again, clutching the glitter ball. It looks to me as if there are only space for a maximum of 16 names on that thing-what are they going to do after next year?  Replace it with a new model a la the World Cup?  Take off the names they'd rather hadn't won?To be honest, I’m surprised it lasted this long given the quality of the build. I would be very surprised if it hasn't undergone multiple fixes along the way.  (Also, I'm a semi-regular guest on Radio Sheffield, I know, get me, and they have one of the Pudsey glitterballs in their reception - don't ask me why as I'm sure none of our presenters have been on it - and it is basically a small toy glitterball stuck on a Pudsey soft toy and almost certainly would fall to pieces if you picked it up.  Still kind of awesome though.)

Alexandra and Gorka now, and they are looking rather swanky in white, Alexandra having feathers at the bottom of her dress and some coloured beading down the middle over nude/brown fabric panels. Their VT features Alexandra crying a lot that she ended up in the bottom two in a full on LEADERBOARD PLUNGE despite having bottomed out the week before and realising that that this means people probably don’t like her very much. Still, to cheer her up, here are her supporters: the young and beautiful, the gay sand the ginger. And a random Scotswoman, because apparently regional voting isn't even a thing they want to pretend exists any more.

They are dancing the Viennese waltz, replete with plenty of dry ice, to a syrupy version of Everybody Hurts (apparently a Tina Arena cover but no thanks whoever it is - and I'm not especially even precious about the original).  The light beams and the dry ice and Alexandra’s emoting bring to mind her triumphant Hallelujah performance from the X Factor and if that was deliberately done on behalf of production, have a clap for that. It’s clearly set up to give her a big public boost and I think it mostly works. It’s not the smoothest footwork we’ve seen from anyone in the VW - Debbie probably had that this series, or even Alexandra's VW-themed American Smooth - but it glamorous, crowdpleasing and, as is traditional, covered in so much skirting and dry ice that you can’t really see what they’re doing with their feet half the time anyway. Still, with them both dressed like angels and that heavenly lighting maybe it will subconsciously remind people of the time they voted for her all those years ago and prompt them to do so again. As a comeback dance, there are definitely worse choices she could have had (*cough. Mollie's imminent samba.*).

Bruno said it had a soft, dreamy quality and flowed like there was no tomorrow. He said it was like the softest, silkier/meaner that you want to wrap around you. Craig says there was one place her feet didn’t come together and he can’t get as mushy as Bruno but there was a good amount of rotation and not many surprises-there was one, Craig, the VT didn’t mention motion sickness once. Darcey praises it for having a wonderful, ethereal quality as if they were coming off the clouds and says that she could have over-pushed it when the music kicked up but her control was amazing. Shirley says it was an emotional performance and praises wardrobe for the outfit-as we see light gleaming all over the sequins, nicely done camera operator. She loved the sincerity, the finishing, the way Alexandra held her fingers and thinks everything about it was stunning.

In the Clauditorium, we are reminded that Alexandra has had a tough week but she’s also had a lot of support. Claudia asks how she is coping with doing two dances and she doesn’t have a response, so Gorka starts to jabber on instead and it's not entirely legible.  We already have a Bruno for that, Gorks. Scores: nine, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 39 and Gorka lifts Claudia in the air to celebrate.  She tells him he’s not allowed any more caffeine-oh how I love it when they throwback to VT jokes from several weeks ago.  (I actually do, I'm a dork like that).

In the audience, Tess has stalked Judge Rinder and Danny Mac and is caressing their thighs. Judge Rinder is entirely not down with this, whilst Danny doesn't appear to notice. Danny says two-dance week is really hard because you have to learn two dances. Insightful as ever there Danny Mac.

Mollie and AJ now, and she has a head full of hair extensions that makes her hair almost as big as AJ's.  She's wearing a golden dress not that dissimilar to the one she wears the opening credits, whilst he’s in black sequins with his top partly undone.

Their VT reminds us how disparate their scores were last week - from 6 to 9, bless Shirley and her weird crush on these two. Their VT shows Mollie not being able to do the Samba in any way shape or form. I honestly think giving her the Argentine Tango would have been preferable-I can’t think of the dance less suited to her personality than the Samba. Mollie’s supporters are: pre-pubescents, people in pubs, policewomen, panto dames.

They are dancing to Whenever, Wherever and there are some palm trees and random Egyptian columns in the background that the epitome of someone rooting around in the props cupboard and going ‘will these do?’  It opens with them both clapping glitter into the air in a throwback nod to Gemma’s paso. That’s about as good as it gets, to be honest. Mollie looks uncomfortable the whole time, her arms are doing God knows what and her legs keep forgetting to actually have any life in them. This is honestly the kind of Samba we usually see the comedy contestant giving and I just feel so mortified on her behalf that she had to get this at this point in the competition rather than earlier on when it could have been masked by lots of other people.  If that doesn’t see her locked onto the bottom two, I’ll be shocked.

Tess tells her she looked happy when she was dancing (I thought she looked terrified, but Tess is always a glass half full kind of person) and that the two of them are so cute together. Oh Tess, stop shipping it, it’s never going to be a thing (at least I don’t think is unless I’m the only one that doesn’t see any sexual chemistry between them).

Craig says the palm trees they had on set had more bounce in them than she did, says the changes of rhythms weren't seamless, she has difficulty going from one step to the next, she was behind with the music and out of time and it was really awkward. Darcey says Mollie looks the part, calling her a 'gold goddess' and says the Samba is notoriously difficult and that that combined with the music meant her body ended up in the wrong place and when she lost the timing that meant the transitions didn’t work and the routine didn’t connect. Shirley says she likes her body going for it and that she had some nice solo pieces in it but that she got discombobulated when she got together with AJ. Shirley says overall she thought she was really going for it and I do like how Shirley has basically managed to give what seems a really positive response without actually praising the dancing-that’s some skill there so that Mollie isn’t entirely crushed but nor was she sugarcoating the truth. Well played, Shirley. Bruno repeats the same criticisms of the others and says it looks very forced and it isn’t her best dance, but he's sure she’ll do much better in her second routine.

On the way up to the Clauditorium, AJ tells her she 'did fantastic' and she apologises and he tells her not to.  Aww. Claudia tells them to focus on Shirley who was positive and adorable and Claudia says she’s always told Zoe she was trying to avoid the Samba as there’s no dance less suited to her. They really should have given her it in Halloween week or something and ramped it full of distraction just to get out of the way. Scores: four, seven, seven, six for a total of 24 and that’s both incredibly low for a semi-final score and incredibly high the score that dance actually deserved.  Poor Mollie.  Now Susan's gone she's the official woobie yes?

Gemma and Aljaž now and Tess says tonight'a a chance to prove herself after last week, starting with the rumba-cut to Gemma looking very 'nope'. DED NORMAL. 

On that subject, I was at my book club last week and they were discussing the show.  None of my friends outside of Steve and Chris actually watch it so I rarely get to hear 'normal' opinions on it.  They liked Joe, were split on Alexandra's personality and believed Mollie and AJ were getting it on, so very much what you'd imagine.  And then one of them said, in a way that I genuinely couldn't tell was sarcastic or genuine (he's one of those people) 'Gemma's just dead normal.'  So either it was a hilarious reference or everyone in my book club just buys into really uncomplicated narratives (I couldn't say what they like in their reading matter because most months everyone just piles in on the book.  It's cathartic, perhaps?  We all just go to eat cake and drink tea and hot chocolate basically)

Her hair down makes her look exactly like Jade English from The Apprentice.  Who is probably this year's female hottie if you're wondering whether that's a compliment or not.  The dress she's wearing is really weird, it looks like it has strings coming off it, a bit like a fly curtain (what happened to them?  Did all flies die out after the 1970s and 80s decree that all households must use them?).  I guess strings on an outfit could work if you pull them to reveal something more sexy as some kind of costuming trick, but I'm not sure pulling off a Bucks Fizz-themed rumba is going to happen in a semi-final.  Although Aljaž is weird as fuck this series, so...

Their VT features Gemma being really upset and struggling (spot the theme of these), so we get to meet her supporters: men in high vis jackets and people with glow sticks.  So she'll be able to spot her fans in the dark, anyway.

Their rumba is being danced to 'Beneath Your Beautiful' (and I believe we discussed our thoughts on the grammar in this way back when) and, I’m sorry, but that dress - it’s so, so ugly. Gemma looked very nervous throughout, rather than romantic and sultry. Her movement isn’t terrible-it’s stilted in a couple of places, but not quite as ungainly as 'Gemma rumba' might suggest on paper. It doesn’t have a huge amount going for it in terms of content, however, and there are a lot of moments where they're standing still-not just posing, more waiting for the next movement to begin.  Not a car crash but nor was it a triumph and it's one of those dances that nobody will remember in a week's time.  

Darcey says there was a 'lovely aura' between them.  Do auras go between people?  I thought they were an individual thing, now we have to worry about them flitting about and getting in the way of dancing? Darcey says she can see how hard she was working on a straight leg she wanted some more breathing into her body so that it seemed more expressive and emotional. In the audience, or a nod along. Shirley says she has a beautiful set of pins and complements Aljaž on his choreography, but she does think it lacked musicality. Bruno says it was very nice and not smutty. The camera really misses a trick here by not cutting to Brendan I am disappoint. He says it did look as though she was overthinking, which stops the flow of the movements throughout the whole body-an actual Bruno critique that makes sense, guys. I’m a little bit worried. Darcey says Craig scored her a six last week and asked if it was better tonight. Tess, have you not learned that asking that question never goes well?  He says he agrees with the others - the straight legs and the hip action worked, even though her upper body wasn’t working as hard. However, he loved the routine.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia reminds us that Gemma gets up at 430 every morning and is probably entirely burnt out by now. Scores: seven, eight, seven, eight for a total of 30.  Claudia plugs the website by saying this week Craig will be talking us through his favourite condiments. I like to hope that Claudia’s surreal gags about the website are her way of burning it for the lack of content.

We now come to Debbie and Giovanni. I kind of want to say our final couple of the evening, but of course we have to go through all of this again in a minute. Anyway, her hair's been curled up and put into a high pony and it really doesn’t particularly suit her, sorry Debbie, not your fault. Their VT replay how they got good comments last week, but their favourite was Craig purring at them even though he gave them a nine when everybody else gave them a 10. I love how all the contestants on the show gets so super needy for any tiny little bit of praise from Craig, it’s like a really abusive parent/child dynamic. Their supporters are groups of women, people who like a good scarf, Anna Karen lookalikes.

They are jiving to 'I’m So Excited' and Debbie’s dress is also really unflatteringly cut and is quite reminiscent of school gym skirts in its fitting. She’s dressed like somebody far younger than she is-and I’m not talking in the mutton dressed as lamb kind of way, just that it's really inappropriate styling that looks awkward and makes her look uncomfortable. As for the dancing-if you watch Giovanni only, it’s amazing. If you look at Debbie, however, it’s a different story altogether. There’s no denying her energy, but good God this is a laboured mess. There’s no sharpness in her kicks and flicks-it all looks incredibly lumpy and ungainly although performance wise her face is selling it as much as possible. Would her waltz have been much better than this? Of course it would. Sorry Debbie, I still love you. Now, give us a perfect foxtrot. I only hope Babs McGee was at her jive class tonight rather than watching that because I’m pretty sure she could have given us much more exciting jive. Actually, can somebody check the rules? Are relatives allowed to sub on, because if that’s not in there, I think they missed a trick by not bringing her out at this point. And while you’re looking at those rules can you clarify if there really is such a thing as a 10 second rule and if it actually applies to anyone other than Debbie, just asking for a friend. You never know when that might come in handy as a piece of knowledge. 

As I say that, we cut to Babs McGee in the audience. She's smiling, such a trooper. I guess that’s what they talk about when they refer to blitz spirit. She has a glamorous lady sitting next to her who must be Debbie’s sister - either that or a Debbie McGee lookalike hoping to cash in on her resurgent fame.

Shirley says she was worried because Debbie has a lovely straight leg and she didn’t know whether the jive would suit her, but Debbie did a good job of bending her knees and she also praises Giovanni’s choreography. Bruno says Debbie always 'delivers on time and in perfect condition'.  He says her timing was incredible-and that she maintained her energy throughout. Craig says it lacked a little attraction and her body could have been over her feet a little bit more and it looked a little bit spiky instead and her facial expressions were reminding him of judgement. We cut to him pulling a face at Craig-come on Lindy, being told Debbie McGee looks like he will surely a compliment? Not for her. Darcey praises her energy and the neatness of her kicks. She asks what Debbie's taking and says she wants some of it.  He's called Giovanni and not sure she'll be relinquishing him any time soon.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia says she’s like a unicorn. Always horny? Scores: seven, nine, nine, nine for a total of 34 and I love Debbie very very much, but that is some classic overscoring, right there.

Time for a halfway leaderboard?
Alexandra and Gorka 39
Joe and Katya 35
Debbie and Giovanni 34
Gemma and Aljaz 30
Mollie and AJ 24

Claudia’s comedy corner now and she says it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. Tess says 'what elephant in the room, whether or not Mollie and AJ are dating?' (The punchline is, obviously, that there is a real elephant in the room according to the sound effect).  The audience actually makes noises approaching boos at this and when the audience boo something like that, you know you've gone too far (or you should know that anyway). This show always likes to hint at its showmances but I can’t recall it being as overt as this before, except maybe with Georgia and Giovanni, and it all feels rather uncomfortable. I’ve seen Tess taking a lot of flak for this, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t write the script. Anyway, a) it’s a bit naff and feels unfair on Mollie and AJ and be b) any reference to elephants in the room that doesn’t have anything to do with Alexandra Burke.com is a poor, poor show.

Joe and Katya are back for the second dance of the evening and they are dressed in some very weird grey outfits in multiple hues with chain like rings on them – Fifty Shades product placement? As it’s the semi-final, we get our annual trip to judges' holodeck. Joe is the surprise contestant still, allegedly, despite being a front-runner from relatively early on and certainly over the last few weeks. His strengths are acting and attention to detail and they mostly gloss over his weaknesses. (I'll help you out - Party Latin, Katya's personality, worrying echoes of Tom Chambers).  With their Argentine Tango, Darcey is worried about the lifts and Shirley is looking forward to the ganchos. Craig thinks it could be quite a good routine and we also see some training footage where Joe stands on Katya's foot. Hilarious.

They are dancing to Rag and Bone Man's 'Human' and it begins with Joe looking at himself in one of those giant mirrors they like to get out every couple of weeks or so - usually for the men because god knows how apoplectic the internet would go if a woman dared to have that level of confidence. He does a load of posing in front of it and it is the campest thing I’ve seen in... at least a week. The dance itself is a bit of a weird one. It has elements of contemporary and uses them with the more traditional Argentine Tango moves. There is a very weird lift where he holds onto Katya's foot which I would have liked more if they didn’t spend ages building up to actually getting her into hold and got on with it quicker. The legwork is a mixed bag-in places it’s good and then there are other places where it looks incredibly awkward and stilted. The dance is much more of a showcase for Katya than Joe, and she spends a lot of it in front of him masking him from camera, which is in the best tradition of strictly female pros, I guess. There’s then a really bizarre but quite fun bit where they do a strange kind of front-facing somersault thing where she is picking him up by his ankles. I don’t know what was going on there but it defied gravity and not in a Frankie Bridge way.  An Argentine Tango though? Not so sure. I wouldn’t have minded the gimmicks if they hadn’t just done a very very gimmicky samba and a fairly gimmicky quickstep after a sort-of gimmicky sort-of-salsa.  I think there’s too much overkill on the theming at the expense of dancing.  I know earlier in the series I thought Katya had given him some interesting choreography in places but I’m wearing of it quite rapidly by this stage.

Tess says she’s never seen anything like it before. You could say that about many things on the show, Tess, it doesn’t make them any good. In fact, isn't that usually the comment you give after comedy routines?  Bruno calls it an Argentine Tango from a different angle that was true to the style and feel of the dance and phrases the choreography. Yes, I’m sure Katya had a lot to do with that. I assume it was another Vincent Simone special, but given it was quite different I don’t know if that’s the case-anyone know?  He then babbles incoherently cos Bruno gonna Bruno. Craig says his steps were little plodding and obvious and he could do with a looser leg in the ganchos.  Craig’s all about loose legs this series isn’t he? He did think the inventiveness paid off, however. Darcey again praises the choreography and his strong core whilst Shirley says again that he is the dark horse. Basically the judges are on autopilot and are just repeating their stock phrases for this and I thought we might have lost that when Len boogied off (that was meant to say buggered off but in this case I prefer Dragon's rehashing). Must try harder, all of you.

In the Clauditorium, we learn that Katya doesn’t allow Joe to have any safe words.  In this 'current climate' not sure that's something to boast about, to be honest.  Also, I remain bewildered as to how this woman is married to Neil.  Scores: 8, 9, 9, 9 for a total of 35.

Alexandra and Gorka again now and the judges say that she's 'brought her best to the table' (I thought it was usually Kevin Clifton’s partners that bugged about on tables). Bruno says she gets in touch with character really well. Darcey praises her consistency. Her weaknesses are her sickled feet and social media hate campaigns. Her salsa training footage sees her wearing Debbie McGee-esque patterned leggings which is at least one way to try and garner public votes and tears me in pieces as to which of them is going to get my two votes in the final next week assuming they’re both there.

They are dancing the salsa to CeCe Peniston's 'Finally' and I love that one of the random song choice monkeys this year has gone for late-80s-early-90s club classics can we have more of that please. As salsas go, this is head and shoulders above the rest of the ones we’ve seen this series (I appreciate that isn’t necessarily saying much). It’s fun, energetic, bouncy, with Alexandra’s mouth going wild and a weird moment where it looks like she’s giving birth, as well as some unusual lifts, delivered really quickly with easy dismounts. If were having party Latin, then this is the kind of party you would want to be invited to. It ends with Gorka giving her mock cunnilingus and then swinging her legs around his neck in an amazing spin, which is a not very euphemistic euphemism, take that Mollie and AJ.  Then they dismount and Alexandra seems to command sparks from her hands in a well timed action on behalf of the lighting team.

We cut to the judges who are dancing and shimmying and rubbing themselves. Well, Shirley and Bruno anyway. Tess pronounces it ‘sol-sa’ and I realise ‘solsa’/‘sallsa’ is probably one of those sconn/scohn things - though, gotta be honest, I’d have thought Tess would be on the side of the flat vowel, the northern-roots traitor.  Craig begins by listing moves and techniques: ‘body roll, rotation in the hips, continuous flow’ but does so in his meen judge voice so he gets booed.  I suppose, as we've learned from Debbie McGee currently being in one, that panto season is well and truly upon us.  Of course he goes into a 'fab-u-lous' and Tess and Darcy both gush about how they love it when he does that. If that’s the kind of thing that gets them excited, they should really watch The X Factor where Simon does it about six times episode on average (I assume he still does anyway). No, seriously, they should watch it. Nobody else is doing and if the viewership doesn’t pick up soon it won’t be long before we have to face Louis vs Sharon on this show and nobody wants that. Darcey praises the amount of detail and says if they’re not in the final she’s going to get into… Bruno's speedos. Shirley screams and Darcey looks like she can't believe what's come out of her mouth, but I'm all for it, hooray for 2017 Darcey.  Shirley says it was super clear with lots of rhythm and it was party time all the way. Bruno starts singing 'I Wanna dance with somebody'. Stop Bruno, that’s reality show poison. Stop it now! Also, as Bruno stands up it looks like he’s got a girdle around his waist - and a badly fitting one at that.

Everyone welcome to the Clauditorium screaming (I think) '10'! Alexandra struggles to get her breath as Claudia tells her she makes it look 'effortless'-not the best object lesson right there, to be honest. Alexandra is having the best time wants to have some fun. Talk to Gorka’s face if you end up in the dance off again. Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10 for the second 40 of the series and Alexandra’s first. Claudia and Alexandra hug and Gorka, feeling left out, hugs himself. I didn’t even know he had a sense of humour, so good to note. Claudia previews Gemma dancing to 'My Sharona'and says she believes it’s Italian for my Sharon. Ho ho.

Mollie and AJ now - he with a dapper white bow tie and Mollie with her hair tamed into half-braid ponytail with a shoulderless sparkly dress. In the judges holodeck we get more claims from Shirley that they have chemistry between them, judges praising her as being wonderful in hold but say she has a wobbly core and her shoulders end up too high. They admire that she’s been in the bottom two twice and got through it-nobody bothered about Alexandra hitting the bottom, but I guess she didn’t take out an almighty ringer and have to face the public wrath for that (one of the few things she didn’t have to do deal with). Their waltz training features Mollie worrying that there are so many elements to the waltz. Stop trying to make the waltz sound like a hard dance, show. It’s never going to fly. Speaking of waltzes, of all the missing dancers, I think Debbie’s waltz is the one I’m most sad about-primarily because I had to watch her party Latin in all three genres instead of that, which would have been much more suited to her ringability.

This routine, to Angel, feels as though it’s been entirely set up for Mollie to have a moment-it opens with her sitting on the steps surrounded by LED candles with the stage lit with moody blue lighting although when she gets into hold with AJ he begins by making strange motions the like is either trying to kill her or operate her like a puppet which is an odd styling choice for a romantic waltz. I guess they don’t want Joe and Katya to have all the BDSM play. Once they get going properly, though, it’s mostly a sweet lovely charming waltz and Mollie looks more comfortable than she has done in many of her dances. There’s a part where her feet seem to get a little lost, but she manages to keep her upper body in character rather than falling to pieces. It ends with a nice floor spin and then they go and sit romantically among the LED candles.

Darcey calls it a serene, romantic, waltz and praises her posture but says towards the end her shoulder started coming up and she felt there was still an edge of nerves in there which made her arms look a little stiff. Shirley says she is much more comfortable in the waltz than the Samba. No shit Shirley. She praises Mollie’s efforts and says although there was a little hiccup, she’s a gorgeous girl who executed it well. Mollie starts crying at this point, in a very reserved, very Mollie kind of way. Bruno says the waltz is hard because it needs a lot of control and the most factually that beautifully and despite the slight mistake it was much better. Craig says that besides all of the criticisms about her mistakes in a shoulder, she has redeemed herself. Tess wipes a tear from her face and says don’t cry, your gorgeous. Tess Daly there, reinforcing the beauty equals happiness myth. I guess once the model. In the Clauditorium, Claudia reassures her that the judges liked it much more than her previous dance. Mollie stutters that she was crumbling away and Claudia says there’s no crumble of the novel which should bring to her later. Scores: eight, eight, eight, eight for a total of 32 and Claudia says this is the highest score of the competition. Mollie looks very surprised that but seems happy, which is quite nice given the it’s been a difficult night the her, she’s the only one of the semifinalists not  have joined the 10 club and, barring a final-related miracle, is unlikely to.

Gemma now and Tess introduces her by saying she’s had an up-and-down competition in case you weren’t sure which two contestants the judges would rather not win. Judges holodeck opens with criticisms of Gemma rather than praise, talking about how her Latin is pretty bad but have American smooth demonstrated real promise. They say they liked her paso so they hope this will translate into Tango. Craig says they need to see perfection for finalists and wonders if Gemma can deliver and Bruno answers with making a ? shape in the air. In training, Gemma is struggling to memorise the Tango. Ruth Langsford managed to pull this one off but I guess it is always the dances you least expect that fluster them.

Gemma is in green, with her hair knotted up in an unusual arrangement giving her a spiky mohawk kind of vibe. She’s also wearing very dark severe make up to accentuate the face of rage she wears throughout. Unusually to Gemma, she looks quite scared in places, holding onto Aljaz for grim death and whilst there is a sense of intensity in her face, her body feels a little rigid and some of the movement lacks precision. It was okay, but I thought she would suit that dance a little bit more than she did.

Shirley says she did well, especially as she had to muster two dances. Bruno loved the determination, her figures and her lines but says when she over pushes things it can look a bit too snappy. Craig says he would like some lovely shaping in the upper body and her left hand was in the wrong position but he loved it and thought it was great overall. Darcey repeats that she loves her determination and passion and her facial expression showed she was going for it. She praises-you guessed it-Gemma’s core. If some fitness DVD company isn’t trying to market some Darcey Bussel core workout soon, then they’re missing an opportunity. I mean, I’m not sure anyone would actually buy it, but who would have thought that Sonia from EastEnders and Charlotte from Geordie Shore would make a success of those things, so who knows? The buying public are weird, is what I’m saying. Scores, eight, eight, eight, eight for a total of 32.

In the background, we see Janette looking happy and Pasha looking like didn’t think much of that at all. Either that, or he’s just forgotten what it was like to get this far in the competition and iswondering why Aljaz gets so few duffers.

Final couple of the night-Debbie and Giovanni. Judges holodeck reminds us that she works hard, is mature, has lovely legs. Bizarrely they don’t cover Debbie and Giovanni’s chemistry despite them having bucketloads of it. The only vague notes of criticism they have is that her Latin isn’t quite good enough. I think they could have gone to town a bit more on her, Alexandra and Joe’s weaknesses but I guess they want to really reinforce who their three preferred finalists are.

They are dancing the foxtrot to 'Isn’t She Lovely'-I see what they did there, even if there is some weird dissonance in getting your oldest contestant to dance to a song about a newborn baby. Debbie is in a lacy nude and black fully skirted dress and Giovanni in tails-I've been waiting all series to see them do this kind of routine, so I’m glad they got to do it eventually. It’s the full Hollywood glitz and glamour, with some sweet romantic touches and, sure, it’s a foxtrot which isn’t the most exciting of all the dances, but given the abysmal quality of the majority of foxtrot this series, very refreshing to see one that actually works well. The chemistry between the two of them comes across really nicely as well-lots of smiling and laughing together, with some really cute sidesteps and hand movements. It ends in a parade of tickertape which, if you’re into subliminals (or even very unsubtle gimmicks), makes it look like she’s already won the thing. I don’t think anyone other than Joe is likely to, but I would be very pleased with the Debbie McGee victory-it’s like the time when a group finally won the X factor-maybe a mature contestant could finally win Strictly.

Bruno says if she’s not through to the final, he will wear Darcey's tutu to to with no knickers and a tiara. Even though I really want Alexandra and Debbie in the final, there is a slight disappointment that either way we won’t get to see both Bruno and Darcey living up to their promises. Of course it may also be good for the nation’s mental health that they don’t do that. Come to think of it, aren’t we due many occurrences of Len pickling his walnuts? Got to be at least a fraction more entertaining than half the content of the One Show at any rate. Everybody apart from Craig is in hysterics-especially Bruno who is laughing so much is crying. Craig says they were out of holder bit too long and thinks that Giovanni might know that-Giovanni clearly doesn’t as he says no no no and asks Craig for clarification. He doesn't get any. Do you think we will hear of that rule ever again beyond this series? Or beyond Debbie's ballroom? That aside, Craig loved it. Darcey praises the smoothness of it and Shirley says there were some beautiful sweeping moments in the dance and she thanks them for closing the show like that.

Tess says let’s see where that leads them on the leaderboard, but they can't be any higher than second, as Alexandra’s already scored 79 tonight. In the Clauditorium, Debbie says she loved doing the foxtrot and she says it’s been hard this week but Giovanni then says isn’t she lovely. 1 million miles more chemistry the Mollie and AJ. Scores: eight, nine, nine, 10 for a total of 36. Giovanni hugs and kisses Debbie some more. I don’t know where his storyline can go next year-obviously comedy contestant would be the on paper choice, but those tend to be older and he can’t possibly top the older lady dynamic he's already had. Maybe if there is an equivalent of Susan next year? Either that or, if he wins the glitter ball (unlikely as anything other than a Joe victory seems at this point) maybe he’ll do the thing that the female pros usually do and quit while he’s ahead unlike the male pros who turn up to cash cheques to ever diminishing returns series upon series.

Final leaderboard:
Alexandra and Gorka 39+40 = 79
Jo and Katya 35+35 = 70
Debbie and Giovanni 34+36 = 7
Gemma and Aljaz 30+32= 62
Mollie and AJ 24+32 = 56

The vote is declared open with glow sticks. There is definitely a frustrated raver on staff this year, isn’t there? We get a recap of the dances, a reminder that everybody wants to be in the final next week, and a trailer for some kids show featuring some very bizarre cartoon versions of Tess, Claudia and the judges. Claudia is the only one that is obviously recognisable.

So, only one show remains before the final but before that we have to lose someone. Will Alexandra or Debbie hit the bottom two yet again? Will Joe not quite have the level of public support we think he does? Or will the likely outcome of Gemma vs Mollie finally happen? Join me tomorrow to find out!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

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

- Pasha can juggle with one hand. Well, just about.
- But even he can't make a PVC blazer work.
- Davood got very sweaty under his mask.
- Watching this with subtitles on leads to some classic lines such as Mollie's 'I always wanted to be regretted' and Kevin's 'I get to be the apple dodger'.
- Debbie is allergic to cats.
- 29 is Davood's new unlucky number because both times he's scored it he was in the dance-off.
- Matthew Bourne thinks Davood's Argentine Tango had the best choreography on the night.  Maybe, maybe (probably) not, but it certainly wasn't the best execution.
- Davood never watched himself back.
- Pasha built his own computer once, and would've liked to be a scientist if he weren't a dancer.
- Putting your hands behind your back is a good way to practise a promenade run.
- Pasha has done more pro challenges than anyone else, and although he's finished second many times, he's never won.
- Pasha did 26 charleston swivels with 13 disqualifications, leaving him with 13 overall and joint sixth on the leaderboard.
- Natalie thinks Alexandra's charleston was one of the best she's ever seen, and that Joe's samba action was better than any male celebrity she's ever seen.
- Natalie would like Debbie's armwork to involve more emotion and extension.
- Natalie wants people to think about the 'ands' inbetween the beats in the rumba and get the figure-8s going.
- Brendan hates the pro challenge and thinks it's stupid.
- Katya apparently already thinks she's got it in the bag.
- Brendan did 21 charleston swivels, with 14 disqualified, leaving him with an overall total of seven and putting him in last place.
- Hahahahahahahahaha.
- Neil has always wanted to be in a video game.
- Motion capture video games do not use green screen any more GRANDDAD.
- Gorka can almost say 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' now.
- Gorka's friends really want to vote for Alexandra but they live in Spain.
- Watching Alexandra self-flagellating over being in the bottom two, despite getting 39, is kinda heartbreaking, tbh.
- Alexandra had a very painful hip injury during her charleston - both times.
- Gorka thinks Alexandra's swivel was better than Craig's. JUST SAYING.
- Ian wants Joe's arm to be 'at a bit of a right angle but not a proper right angle'.
- Ian thinks Mollie's waltz training footage looks rubbish but he's blaming the shoes.
- Neil was born in Germany and speaks fluent Dutch.
- Neil did 19 charleston swivels with eight disqualifications, leaving him with a final score of 11 - joint-ninth on the leaderboard with Chloe.
- The singers blame Dave Arch for all the non-traditional musical arrangements that people don't like.
- Hayley had a surprise wedding.
- The singers only have around four days to learn the songs, and often the backing vocals are harder than the main melody.
- New Boy Jamie gets drafted in for anything that's rocky, or high, or both.
- Hayley didn't know she was going to be directly involved in Ruth and Anton's paso until the day of the performance.
- It took AJ several days to de-quiff his hair after the Grease rumba.
- AJ thinks the illegal lift in the rumba was actually fine because he was just helping Mollie step down off a prop. Sure, hon.
- Mollie was really hoping to avoid the samba because she never thought she'd be in long enough to actually have to do it.
- Giovanni's cat costume was still being painted an hour before he was due on to perform.
- Wardrobe are in at 7 in the mornings.
- Karen Clifton always wears odd socks and has a cat called Samba.
- Karen has done more pro challenges than any other female pro (possibly because she's the longest-serving one?)
- Karen would like to do a pro challenge that tests how many chicken nuggets she can eat in 30 seconds because KAREN LIKE FOOD.
- Karen did 21 charleston swivels with zero disqualifications and is now top of the leaderboard.
- There's no ballroom or latin in this week's pro dance, which is definitely unprecedented. *looks to camera*
- Lindyhop plus break-dancing has never been done before.  Possibly for good reason, but I guess we'll see.
- Katya thinks her greatest strength is her positivity and optimism.
- The finger-snap in Joe's samba was all his own work, madam.
- Joe is so method that he learnt German for his samba.
- The Strictly stats department still can't cope with things like "different series being different lengths".
- Tom Chaplin from Keane now looks like the love child of Kevin Simm and Rhydian Roberts.
- Debbie has watched her American Smooth back 3 times. (Giovanni: "Just 3?!")
- Giovanni doesn't know why Craig didn't give them a 10.
- Miranda Hart is a Debbie/Giovanni shipper. This is, in all honesty, not that much of a surprise.
- Debbie has been eating double what she normally eats all series, and this week she's been eating double that.
- This week's super-sexy Friday panel is Rick Edwards, Lisa Snowdon and Danny Mac.
- Rick has no rhythm so Zoe's decided Janette or Karen can be lumbered with him if he ever does the show because they're used to duffers. Either that, or she thinks they're really good at turning duffers into non-duffers, in which case she might want to refresh herself with both Janette's and Karen's track records.
- Lisa has misremembered how good Alexandra's first dance was.
- Gemma is Danny's mum's favourite.
- Danny remembers "losing it" when he did his samba. Which is odd, because we remember him losing it with his quickstep in the final.
- Gemma's Friday hair was almost as massive as her Saturday hair.
- Gemma gets up at 4.30am.
- Zoe nicknamed Gemma's Hello Dolly hair 'the onion'.
- Gemma can't believe people enjoy watching her dancing and Aljaz's choreography.
- Aljaž has put Gemma in higher shoes for her rumba.
- Megan in wardrobe calls all the movements 'wiggles'.
- 'Ash and his girls go on all night'. It's all happening in the wardrobe team.
- Joe's AT looks like the campest thing this side of... well, Joe's samba.
- The pro challenge ended with a triple whammy of Janette, Anton and Giovanni.  And before the show started they told us one of them would win so that takes a lot of suspense out of proceedings, thanks guys.
- Anton's golf handicap is 5.
- Anton's swivel attempt looked TRAGIC - he basically didn't put one foot in front of the other at any point. It was more of a soft-shoe than a charleston.
- Anton doesn't care what Ian thinks because Ian's not even in the show any more.
- Janette was very sick the day they did the pro challenge, so you know, there's that.
- Anton completed 31 steps, but 19 were disqualified leaving him with 12, which was more than it looked like he was going to get based on that footage.
- With 22 steps, and 1 disqualification, Janette is joint second with Karen, and the winner is Giovanni, with 26 steps and 2 disqualifications for a total of 24 and a new world record.  This makes the same top of the leaderboard as last year.
- 'Dancing Brasil' launched this year and they filmed the first two series back to back.
- Their host gets involved in all the group dances, whether they want her to or not, so she's basically their Bruce.
- Their dances include the bolero and the zouk.
- Their themes week include Circus, Country and the Oscars.  They're another format that used a partner swap gimmick.
- Their rigathon just has two couples on the floor at once.
- Their elimination procedure is...not outlined coherently in this segment.
- Danny Mac found jive the hardest to do physically.
- Rick Edwards thinks Mollie will go home, as does Lisa.  Danny both thinks she will and she won't.
- Joe doesn't feel any pressure about being the last man because it's easier for him to hoover up the votes men have had it their way for too long.
- Joe thinks Colin Firth is more common than Hugh Grant.
- Gethin thinks Mollie will get a 10 this week.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

I'm a celebrity, Ghadami outta here

Week 11: Top 6 Results (Musicals Week) - 3 December 2017

We open with the promised Dreamgirls number, as the current (I assume?) West End cast perform 'One Night Only' while Janette rumbas mournfully in front of the camera and Gorka comes along and picks her up while wearing some exceptionally high-waisted trousers. As the song discofies, it erupts into a full scale production number featuring all the pros similarly attired, and in my role as impartial observer of the facts I should just state that those trousers definitely highlight the male pros' asses. It then transitions into 'Listen', as Anton and Amy and Brendan and Nadiya get their own showcase spots, before eventually being joined by the other pros. I'm very pleased that the choreography between Effie and Deena here also requires them to hold hands from across the divide as a sparkler curtain goes off above them, directly replicating Alexandra and Beyoncé in The X Factor final 2008. Then we go into 'Dreamgirls' as everything just kind of goes off everywhere and it's all a bit hard to see what's going on. Exciting though, innit?

Tess and Claudia return, with Claudia now in a red dress with star-and-moon patterns on it, and Tess in another asymmetric monochrome number, with a strange white diagonal stripe across the front that makes it looks like she rode her bike to the studio and forgot to take off her reflective gear. The judges vamp in again, and Darcey is wearing some seriously vertiginous heels, though I suppose when you've been a professional ballet dancer for as many years as she was, you're probably fairly used to cutting off all the blood flow through your ankle anyway.

Let's have another walk through of last night, shall we? Kevin is our initial guide backstage, and I imagine it must have been quite strange for him not to be professionally competing on the show for the first time ever this week. Davood tells us that this is a big week, and Debbie says that every single number has the wow factor. Mollie tells us that she likes how they all have a character to embody this evening, and Joe says he's planning to channel the Emcee. Gemma says it feels like they're all in a West End show, and Alexandra says they have to just have the best time out there because nobody knows how it's going to go this week. Janette says that Musicals Week is her favourite week, and then we're into the recap of the show itself. In terms of additional backstage info, Joe is relieved that they thought his acting was good, Ed Balls thinks Katya's choreography "is always genius" (I beg to differ), Mollie and AJ both insist that the other is the most hard-working person in the world, and Aljaž thanks Gemma for a lovely quickstep. Davood is gutted he didn't do a better Argentine tango, Gorka says that the three 10s were for Alexandra and the nine was for him, and Giovanni meows a lot at Debbie.

The cue cards of doom are out, and the numbers are thinning so we're only going to get two people named safe in this spot. Those people are Debbie and Giovanni, and Joe and Katya. The first couple in the dance-off is...Davood and Nadiya. As they walk over, Tess tells them that nobody ever wants to be stood there next to her [but maybe not for the reasons she thinks they don't want to stand next to her - I suspect it's mostly a case of 'back off Daly' - Rad], and that certainly doesn't get any less true with time. Davood says he expected it, considering where he was on the table, but it's a great dance to do again. Shirley advises Davood to hold his core and not fidget on his feet, and that should help him with his balance this time around.

There's just a small celebratory crowd in the Clauditorium, but they're pleased enough for a cast of 20. Giovanni says that he and Debbie are thrilled to be here, and Debbie says that to be through to the semi-finals feels incredible. Claudia asks how they feel about having to do two dances - the jive and the foxtrot specifically - and Giovanni says they'll work on them together but the jive's his favourite so they'll probably make a start on that one first. Joe tells Claudia that he'd rather do a heart surgery and a brain surgery scene on Holby City rather than two dances next week because you get another go if you mess it up, and it's not actually live. Claudia congratulates Katya on making the semi-final for the first time (in her... two years on the show), and Katya says she thinks the level of Joe's progress over the course of the show will help them in the semi-final. [And the lack of other male competitors, plus his evasion of the 'ringer' label that's dogged Alex and Debbie - Rad]

Next up, our West End leading ladies - that's Amber Riley, Beverley Knight and Cassidy Janson - singing 'I'm Every Woman'. Obviously I'm thrilled to see these three very talented ladies in a supergroup, but seeing Cassidy Janson just reminds me of how absolutely stunned I was by her rendition of 'Getting Married Today' when she was in Company at the Southwark Playhouse, and I kind of wish she'd just do that instead, though of course I appreciate it's not exactly the sort of thing that goes down well on BBC1 primetime. [Also, standing ovation for Beverley Knight's voluminous hair - Rad] Kevin and Karen get to be the featured dancers for the first bit, and then AJ and Chloe tag them out halfway through. Sidebar: I know it's a classic and iconic song etc, but am I the only one who doesn't particularly enjoy the last minute or so of 'I'm Every Woman' when it just becomes a load of shouting, regardless of who's singing it?

Next we're with the judges for the dance debrief, and Shirley and Darcey are so close you couldn't slide a chopstick between them, which gladdens my heart. Shirley gets another look at Debbie's splendid dismount from the look-ma-no-hands lift, while Darcey reviews Gemma's quickstep so we can see her upper body bouncing around when it isn't supposed to be. Craig is asked why Alexandra didn't get a 10 from him, and he says that she wasn't always in synchronisation with the others and her barrel turn was shit. Come on Alex, just press Z or R twice, even I can do that. Bruno wants to talk about Joe's vivid characterisation and how it didn't overshadow the samba content, and says "it's not cheating" in such specific terms that it makes me hmmm quite loudly. Finally, we're shown the moment just before they went live, when Ed Balls did 'Gangnam Style' with Tess and Claudia and *fast-forwards*

Who's joining Davood in the dance-off? Well, not Mollie, who absolutely screams the place down when Tess announces that she and AJ are through to next week. That leaves just Alexandra and Gorka and Gemma and Aljaž waiting for the news, and you can kind of see it on Alexandra and Gorka's faces already that if they've been left this late, it probably isn't good news. Gorka pops over and gives Aljaž a tap for good luck, which is sweet. Sure enough, it's Alexandra and Gorka in the dance-off again, and the look on Alexandra's face here is heartbreaking - it's one thing to have slipped into the bottom two when you were mid-table on the leaderboard, but it's quite another to be down there again the very next week, when you were joint-top of the judges' leaderboard, in what was supposed to be your big comeback - mathematically it means she was either last, or second-to-last in the public vote, and that has to be hard to take. Even Gemma and Aljaž look more guilty than pleased to have survived.

Alexandra paints on the best smile that she can and walks over to Tess. She says "we're gutted", and then giggles to Gorka that she hopes she can say that on his behalf. Given how pissed off Gorka looks, I think you're fine on that one, hon. She says they're going to try their best again, and that's what matters. Craig says he cannot believe that she's in the dance-off again, it's crazy (probably not helping, babes) and he wants her to go out there to dance for her life and dance for her mum and oh my god Craig stop trying to be helpful, you are really bad at this. Alexandra gets overcome once again at the mention of her mum, as well she might. Gorka is staring at the floor, possibly thinking "I can't believe I wore this fucking ugly jacket for nothing, from now on it's TITS OUT ALL THE WAY".

Back to the Clauditorium, and Gemma says that she'd said to Aljaž they needed to go over the routine again before the results show because she was convinced they would be in the dance-off. She's thrilled that people have voted to keep her in. Mollie can't believe she's a semi-finalist, and Claudia reveals that Mollie has trained over 300 hours so far. Mollie thanks everyone who voted for her, and AJ says that her dedication is outstanding because she's willing to train for 300 hours. Claudia: "And only half that time is spent kissing." I don't think I've been less convinced by a showmance since that time we were supposed to believe Alesha Dixon might be having secret dates with Matthew Cutler.

After the It Takes Two trailer, it's time for the dance-off. Davood says that it could be their last chance (lol "could"), so he's just going to go out and give it his all. He goes to get ready, and Alexandra says that doing this show has brought her great happiness, and she loves Davood to pieces and she just wants them both to have fun.

Davood reprises his Argentine tango and it looks even more like the funky chicken in the opening than it did the last time - Vincent Simone, I love the vast majority of your choreography but we seriously need to talk about that bit. Davood does his best throughout but it's about the same standard it was before [I thought it was a bit worse but it's not like it was going to matter - Rad], and it's not really like there was any way he was going to best Alexandra in this dance-off unless both of Alex's legs spontaneously fell off during the barrel turn this time around - and even then I suspect she might still have just edged it. Alexandra and Gorka reprise their routine and again, it suffers from a lot of the same problems as the first time - a little laboured, not always in sync, that damn barrel turn - but she's obviously streets ahead of Davood either way.

The judges agree, and don't particularly dilly-dally about it, unanimously saving Alexandra and Gorka and putting them through to the semi-finals. (Well, Darcey saves "Alexander and Gorka", but I assume that still counts.) Tess tells Davood that she won't ever forget the bum lift or him being James Bond on a parachute, and I'm so pleased she remembers so much of his actual dancing. I mean, I know there weren't that many standout moments but his American smooth was genuinely good and there was more to it than just a bum lift. Davood's cool about his exit, saying he never expected to get this far anyway, and it's been lovely to meet everyone here. He does seem to be an absolute sweetheart, bless him. He says he's going spend the next couple of weeks at home dancing with his daughters instead, and thanks Nadiya for doing such a great job in her first year on the show. Nadiya says she was a lucky girl to have him as her partner, and it was a privilege to be part of his incredible journey. She's very proud of him.

Davood and Nadiya do their final dance to 'So Long, Farewell' from The Sound Of Music - Davood attempts the bum-lift again but something goes fairly seriously wrong with it this time and Nadiya comes crashing back down to earth rather sooner than anticipated. He catches her, luckily. Over the credits, Alexandra says that dancing off against anyone would've been hard, but being up against Davood was really difficult because he was so lovely and supportive. Debbie and Giovanni and Joe and Katya reflect on the hard work ahead for two-dance week, Mollie squeals that she's "got chills, they're multiplying" (<3) and Gemma and Aljaž race out to get practising.

And that's it for another weekend! Join Rad next week for what is apparently the final elimination before we crown the winner...

A night at the theatre

Week 11: Top 6 Perform (Musicals Week) - 2 December 2017

Oh, look! Apparently we've reached that point in the series where we don't just go straight into the competition at the top of an episode but instead we get a piano-infused VT of the sort you might expect to crop up during Children In Need just after Marvin and Rochelle Humes tell us that while tonight's show is all about fun, we mustn't forget the very important work that the money we raise helps to do for the disadvantaged. Except here of course "the disadvantaged" are a bunch of aspiring celebrity hoofers who just really really don't want to get sent home before they've had a chance to do their showdance. This one is kind of unintentionally hilarious because someone has made the...interesting decision to have the celebs standing completely still, staring into the camera and biting their bottom lip (fair enough, sets the mood) while also having their professional partner suddenly HIGH KICK or JAZZ HANDS into the frame next to them (bit odd, makes the whole thing feel like a pisstake). Anyway, everybody feels so grateful to be here, they never expected to make it this far, they're going to keep working, and then everyone starts repeating "it's not time to go home" over and over again and it all becomes a bit like the end of a toddler's birthday party, only with less arguing over whether little Jack has picked up little Oliver's coat by mistake.

Titles! This week, of course, because it's Musicals Week, featuring an updated end card where everyone gets their own marquee billboard. You might need slightly more of a West End Wendy than I to determine exactly which shows are being referenced in all cases, but there are a couple of obvious ones - Claudia gets Wicked (bit harsh), Tess gets The Lion King, Craig and Darcey get Les Misérables, Alexandra and Gorka get Mamma Mia!, Gemma and Aljaž get what I can only assume is Singin' In The Rain because he's carrying an umbrella, Mollie and AJ I think are Rent (make your own jokes here) based on the font, and the rest...I'm not sure about. Feel free to fill in the gaps in the comments if you're so inclined!

We open with a pro number to 'Food, Glorious Food' from Oliver!, and I have to pause the show for a good three minutes because I'm laughing too much at AJ having been cast as Oliver Twist. Especially since he turned up on It Takes Two on Friday slowly purpling because he'd literally just come from having his fake tan applied for the weekend, and I'm no Dickens purist but I'm pretty sure Oliver would have been a little pastier than this. And then, just when I've got myself back under control, AJ leaps onto the table and lip-syncs to one of the Fabulous Singers falsettoing "beautiful food" and I'm off again. Well done, everyone - I've not laughed this much since Ruth and Anton stripped off in their samba. It then all takes a slightly more serious turn as it segues into 'Who Will Buy?' and all of the female pros get a little more time at the front and I appreciate for the first time how thoroughly unflattering their "Dickensian wench" costumes are (Chloe's in particular, has she upset Vicky Gill somehow?), and then we transition into 'Consider Yourself' for the final burst as the celebs make their entrance in period-appropriate attire - with Gemma boasting a mahoosive wig that looks like a cottage loaf.

After everything explodes in a giant burst of confetti, everyone rushes off backstage to get changed and I wonder just how long the poor studio audience have already been sitting there. Tess and Claudia make their entrance: Tess in a purplish-blue gown that goes down to her ankles, and Claudia in a rather odd strapless number with a line of buttons down each side and a split up to the upper thigh on each leg. Neither outfit is great but Claudia's is just so bizarre I think I'm going to have to give Tess the edge tonight. In the audience: Ed Balls and Denise Lewis, next to each other. I would quite like to have eavesdropped on their conversation. After a brief recap of what happened last week, the judges are brought in doing their best chorus stomps, and I'm pleased to inform you that Shirley's dress does in fact allow her to hit her mark on time for the end pose. We're off to a good start!

Here are our Strictly stars, then: Davood and Nadiya, as the Phantom and Christine (I assume, although I've never seen Phantom - though I have seen Love Never Dies, long story - and I always rather anticipated Christine would look rather more virginal than Nadiya does here in a red and black number split right up to wowza), Mollie and AJ as Sandy Dumbrowski/Olsen, depending on your preference, and Danny Zuko by way of a super clean-cut 50s kid, Gemma and Aljaž as Dolly Levi and Horace Vandergelder (Gemma still has that massive cottage-loaf wig on only now there are GIANT FEATHERS in it too), Debbie and Giovanni as Grizabella and...male companion?, Joe and Katya as the Emcee and Sally Bowles, and Alexandra and Gorka as Mary Poppins and Bert apparently, although I don't think you'd ever have guessed that from Alexandra's dress. How bizarre that she looked more like Mary Poppins in Movie Week when she was being Eliza Doolittle. [I guess they didn't want to evoke too many memories of Fern and Artem? - Rad]

First tonight are Gemma and Aljaž, who will dancing a quickstep to 'Hello, Dolly!' from Hello, Dolly!. In her VT Gemma says she loved doing her samba last week, and she had fun even if she didn't get the scores or comments she would have liked. Aljaž has planned a big Hollywood glamour number for them this week, but Gemma's struggling a bit in rehearsals to keep up with him and worries that she's going to fall on her face. Aljaž explains that they need to be swan-like with all the movement in the lower half and staying graceful up top. We see Gemma practising by herself at home and gradually coming to terms with it over the week, and hoping that she can be a swan on the dancefloor on Saturday night. Well, she's already got the feathers.

The routine opens with Gemma emerging vampishly from behind some backing dancers and leading them all in a side-by-side-by-side-by-side (etc) section. Once Gemma and Aljaž they get into hold it looks fairly good - I'm not sure Gemma's quite got the calmness up top that she was hoping for as it does all still look a little bit frantic and there's a little bit of gapping at points, but for the most part she does a good job of keeping up with Aljaž as they cover the floor. It could look a little crisper, but it looks a lot better than the rehearsal footage did, so well done to both of them for pulling it all together when it counted.

Shirley tells Gemma that she did very well with such an iconic piece of music, but she felt it needed about 20 per cent more "in the acting skills". Ouch. Dinging Gemma right in the day job there. Shirley did like the swan-like posture and the immaculate frame though, as well as the scattered chassés. Bruno says she won his attention with her Broadway diva entrance, and he thinks she held her own at the start, but she lost a bit of character when she was in hold. Craig thought it looked laboured and heavy and disagreed with Shirley on both the frame and the scattered chassés, but he loved the opening and the theatricality. Darcey calls it "a hot Dolly cheeky quickstep" (...what?) and she loved everything Gemma brought to it, but she thinks Gemma was too relaxed in it and needed to be tauter and tighter.

Gemma and Aljaž and that wig make their way up to the Clauditorium, and Claudia reminds Gemma that she hasn't opened a show since week one, back when she hated ballroom - but now she loves it. Gemma said she thought the choreography was great and she's just pleased to be here for musicals week. Scores: Craig 6, Darcey 7, Shirley 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 29. Aljaž is clearly very disappointed with those scores and Gemma's all "don't worry, it's fine!" Heh. [6 seems pretty harsh, it was alright, and I'd have given it more than Davood, but I guess they're trying to deramp her a bit now we're heading to the end and she's never bottom twoed - Rad]

Claudia says that she needs help with the terms and conditions for Musicals Week, so she rubs Aladdin's lamp and then Russell Grant appears and *fast forwards*

Mollie and AJ are next, and I'm not suggesting that the producers want them gone or anything but this is the third time they have been sent out in the death slot. (Also Mollie and Gemma are the only two people remaining who've yet to go on last, while Davood and whoever gets it tonight will have done it twice.) Oh, and they've got a rumba this week, so good luck Mollie. In her VT Mollie says that last week was her favourite week yet, and she's still absolutely staggered that people have taken time to vote for her. Me too, actually - I genuinely like Mollie but I honestly thought she would have been gone weeks ago. They're dancing to 'Hopelessly Devoted To You' from Grease, and Mollie's finding the timing a little bit confusing because you step on the 2, 3, 4, but not the 1. This is pretty much the one piece of dance knowledge I am very secure in because Shem, my dance teacher, always threatens to cut my leg off if he catches me stepping on the 1, and I believe he would do it if necessary. Mollie says that she wanted to get AJ a present to thank him for getting her this far, and it turns out to be a scrapbook photo album, which is absolutely the most Mollie King gift I could possibly imagine. (Although most of the photos in it look like they were taken by Strictly's professional stills photographer or members of the crew [And pasted in with masking tape for some reason - Rad] so I'm not sure how much this was personally handmade by Mollie.) Mollie hopes that they'll be able to continue filling it up with many more memories to come.

Mollie  begins the routine on her balcony, wearing a white shawl that immediately brings to mind Alison Hammond's iconic American Smooth but which she sadly discards. She 2-3-4s her way across to the centre as AJ appears behind her from the balcony door, and then he steps down onto the floor and Mollie leaps into his arms and he whirls her around and around and...is this not an illegal lift, then? I mean it looks lovely but I'm pretty sure it shouldn't be here. As for the rumba content itself: Mollie's core looks a little wobbly but there's some nice straight-leg action and she's emoting it well - actually, she's hamming for England - and AJ seems quite keen to keep the actual rumba steps to a minimum. So it's not much of a rumba, to be honest, but as a Musicals Week routine I rather like it, and I think it's been very shrewdly crafted by AJ to play for votes rather than points from the judges. Especially as it ends in a showmance-teasing drop that prompts Tess to yell "DID YOU ACTUALLY KISS HER ON THE LIPS I MISSED THAT" when they walk over. [It reminded me of Brendan's TASTEFUL ROMANTIC rumba - Rad]

Tess tells Mollie SHE COULD ACTUALLY BE SANDY, and Bruno says he could feel the fireworks - he was impressed by Mollie's ability to translate emotion into motion, and he saw her moving through her back into her arms for the first time. He's impressed that she's improved so much. Craig points out the massive lift that she's going to have to be penalised for, and he doesn't agree with Bruno, he thought she was dancing by numbers. But surely if those numbers are two, three and four, then everything's fine? He wanted a lot more extension in the body, but there was good hip action and lovely straight legs. Tess says there were a lot of boos in the audience (or just as plausibly, a lot of booze in the audience) and throws to Darcey, who loves Grease (*pretends to be shocked*) and thought Mollie made a great Sandy. She thought it was very sweet and romantic, but she would have liked it to be more sensual - a bit more resistance through the feet would have helped. She thought it was girly, rather than womanly, at which Tess squeaks "THEY ARE SO SWEET!" She's getting worse, isn't she? Shirley loved that they embraced the characters of Danny and Sandy, and she thought the lift was lovely but they had already started their rumba by that point so it was officially illegal - but she was very impressed with how Mollie started her rumba without AJ there. Not for the first time either, eh ladies? *winks to camera* She was very impressed by Mollie's mastering of rumba timing.

Claudia says that Mollie has been calling it the dance of doom, and she says she was really pleased that Shirley praised her timing, and then recalls putting on Grease for her grandparents with her two sisters, who were always Sandy and Rizzo which meant that Mollie had to be Danny. And now she's finally Sandy! Scores are in: Craig 6, Darcey 7, Shirley 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 31. Mollie absolutely screams at Shirley's nine, and lol at that being the score after marking it down for the illegal lift. Claudia says she loves her reaction and Mollie giggles that she's so uncool. Mollie is such a ridiculous human being, I love her so much.

Joe and Katya are next with a Cabaret-themed samba. This should be interesting. He was thrilled to get two nines and two 10s last week and be top of the leaderboard. Joe says he's done a few musicals in his time, and did the first one when he was 12, at school in Glasgow. (Hmmmm at the downplaying of Joe as an actual West End leading man though.) So Joe takes Katya back to his old school, where his headshot hangs proudly on the wall as a famous alumnus, and they go to meet his teacher Margaret Layden (point of interest: I'm younger than Joe and I'm pretty sure if I went back to my old school none of my old teachers would still be there [I know none of mine are.  Nor any of my old schools - Rad]), who says that Joe was a model student who loved the spotlight. They watch a video of Joe in a school play and Joe giggles at it, and then they perform for a crowd of students who go absolutely wild for them.

They're dancing to 'Money Money', which is not the best accompaniment for a samba but they do a pretty good job of making it work for them. As far as the dancing goes, it's pretty decent - the bounce action is a little hit and miss and there are a few lumpy sections, but on those occasions both Joe and Katya lean into the theming to cover it up which actually works quite well. I don't think it's a dance style that particularly suits him so they were fortunate to draw it in a theme week where they could dress it up quite well. On an entirely personal level, I tend to find Katya prone to overacting at the best of times and this routine really highlights that, which is perhaps why it's my least favourite routine of the night so far even though it's probably the most technically accomplished of the three we've seen. It's a good effort, but it just didn't click for me for some reason. [I hated it.  It just didn't feel like a samba at all and coming hot off the heels of their quickstep and charleston, just too much too muchness.  Worked for the theme, and would have been fine as a showdance, but not a samba by any stretch of imagination - Rad]

Craig says that he was all ready for it to fail based on the theming and the concept but it didn't - it was incredible and engaging and he loved it. Darcey thought the characterisation was wonderful and she loved how Joe managed to gel it all together. She thinks he could have been slightly more turned out in the feet but was impressed by his flexibility. Shirley thinks Joe definitely has what it takes to make the semi-finals, and says his voltas were great. Bruno calls it "divinely decadent and slightly twisted".

Claudia says that Joe was really nervous about this one, and Katya explains that Joe didn't see how the theming was going to work with this particular dance (and I suspect he wasn't alone) but they loved it. Joe says he owes everything to his drama teacher who couldn't be there (for the VT, I assume), and then the scores are in: Craig 9, Darcey 9, Shirley 9, Bruno 10 for a total of 37.

After Claudia's comedy interlude, it's time for Debbie and Giovanni and their American smooth. Debbie loved her Argentine tango (yasssss get it girl), and she's thrilled to be in the quarter-final. They've drawn Cats as their theme, obviously, and Debbie's finding the rehearsals a challenge because there are a lot of spins, and she needs to relinquish control and let Giovanni lead her through them. Debbie's quite worried about the elaborate lifts at her age, especially with her back problem, but she says she's going to give it everything nonetheless.

They're dancing to 'Memory' with Debbie emoting her Grizabella right from the off, and it's a Viennese waltz-based American smooth which is always my preferred variety, so this is on to a winner with me straight away. The hold sections are beautifully close and intense, and as for the lifts - well, you wouldn't know Debbie has a back problem because there's one lift where she interlocks her arms behind Giovanni's head and he spins her around and then lets go so she's just supporting herself. WOW. I don't actually think I can even be objective about this routine after that because... well, wow. [Might not have been the full Fred-n-Ginge I was hoping for - maybe their foxtrot, if they do one? - but it was amazing and so on point for the theme.  I actually thought Giovanni looked really hot in the make-up, too, which is maybe a bit weird..  Also, this felt like it was destined to get the big 40 and then didn't for reasons I don't understand other than the first 40 usually goes to something weird so I guess we'll find out what next week - EDIT: Forgot Debbie's tango! Thanks for reminding me - Rad]

It goes down equally well in the room and Shirley's on her feet. Darcey says she is purring with delight and she loved the fluidity of it and how one move ran into the next. She found it so exquisite and absolutely seamless. Tess points out Darcey's use of a "super-laytive" (oh Tess) and Shirley says that she thinks it will be a memory etched in everyone's hearts for a long time - she thought the spinning left into the fleckerl was incredibly impressive with the way Debbie maintained her composure and balance. Bruno thought it was a smash hit, and he says that they took everyone with them through a story. Craig just purrs, and Giovanni meows back at him. Sheesh, get a room you two.

Claudia says that Anton told her it was amazing, and Debbie says she keeps forgetting that she's 59 and thinking she's 20 instead, and it caught up with her a little bit this week. But it was amazing choreography and she loved it. Scores: Craig 9, Darcey 10, Shirley 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 39. Giovanni starts rubbing his face against Debbie's. JUST KISS ALREADY.

In the penultimate performance slot tonight we have Davood and Nadiya, and Davood's Phantom mask has been covered in sequins which does slightly spoil the presumably intended effect of gothicism. Davood says they got really lovely comments about their whole performance last week, and he's really hoping they can do something epic for Musicals Week. This week they're doing the Argentine tango, and Davood says he believes he's the first male celebrity to be doing one (well, this series, yes) and he's feeling the pressure. Davood and Nadiya head off to the West End to meet Ben Lewis and Kelly Mathieson, the current Phantom and Christine, and Ben explains that there's electricity simmering between the Phantom and Christine every time they touch. Nadiya asks Ben and Kelly if they'd like to see a sneaky preview of their "Argentinian tango", and after watching, Ben concludes that they're going to smash it. Let's see, shall we?

Davood gets lowered from the ceiling on a chandelier and then...oh dear. The minute he starts dancing it all goes a bit wrong. The thing with the Argentine tango is that it's all about intimate, deliberate, clipped moves and none of those are things that Davood is particularly good at, so the whole thing comes off a bit fluffy and broad on his part, while Nadiya appears to be dancing an entirely separate and thoroughly sex-charged routine. Davood's trying really hard and there are parts like the floor sweep where he really does do quite well, but the whole thing just doesn't suit him and it shows. [I liked the floor sweep and the bit where he did a jump and the rest... yeah.  Not his finest - Rad]

Shirley tells him that she liked the character and thought the lifts were spectacular, but he had some stumbling problems and balance issues - she would've liked to see him a little more in control. Bruno thought he had a powerful and menacing presence, but it wasn't slick enough - Davood was too wobbly. Craig says he didn't feel Davood was truly leading the dance, but he loved the concept. Darcey says that Davood started off well, but as it got faster he really started to struggle with his balance.

In the Clauditorium, Davood says that he really enjoyed it, but maybe the sense of atmosphere just got the better of him and that's why he struggled. Claudia congratulates Nadiya on her engagement, which was news to me, but congratulations Nadiya! (It's also quite confusing because she congratulates "you" rather than "Nadiya", and considering that can be both singular and plural, it did briefly make me wonder if Nadiya was engaged to Davood, who is already married.) Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 8, Shirley 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 29.

Tess is in the audience sitting with Denise and Ed, and Ed says that he couldn't get anywhere near the quality that we've seen tonight. Yes, we know. Closing the show are Alexandra and Gorka. Alexandra says she loved the rumba last week but she thought the nerves got the better of her, and she wasn't surprised to be in the dance-off. In training, we see Gorka struggling to say "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" (HA HA THE SPANISH MAN CAN'T SAY A LONG NONSENSE WORD, WHAT LARKS) and there's a shot from below of his junk bouncing around inside his joggers. Hey, I'm just here to report the facts. Alexandra says she's going to channel her inner Mary Poppins and clicks her fingers, at which point Gorka gets super-meta and tells her that she can't because that's Debbie McGee's thing, and Alex is all "Mary Poppins done it first, babes". [I actually loved this little joke, sorry world - Rad] For some reason, this transports them to Alex's kitchen where she cooks Gorka spaghetti bolognese to say thank you. I believe that is the sound of the bottom of the Big Ideas Barrel being scraped. Next week: Gemma thanks Aljaž for his hard work by defrosting his and Janette's freezer.

They're dancing a charleston to that word Gorka can't say [I really, really wish they hadn't done the same song that Fern and Artem did, even if they went faster and with a slightly different section of the song - Rad], and it starts with a solo section that Alexandra doesn't actually dance that well, but she comes alive a bit more when Gorka and the backing dancers join in with her. (Speaking of the backing dancers: there's one bit where Chloe momentarily forgets the routine in the back of the shot, oops.) It's a fun routine, but it doesn't quite feel like the showstopper it was intended to be somehow, and I'm not sure why - Alexandra's swivel isn't quite there, but I don't think that in itself is the problem. It just lacks atmosphere, which is odd considering that everyone involved is playing it right to the back of the room. I've stanned for Alexandra since the beginning, but this is the first routine of hers that I can't honestly say I liked that much. Which brings us back to the big question of 2017: what the hell is wrong with the charlestons this year? [What is wrong with so many of the dances this year, more to the point?  Cha-cha, samba, salsa, foxtrot... I don't think charleston comes off quite as badly in comparison, just that most of the charlestons have been a little off in terms of music or theme - Rad]

Bruno leaps to his feet and starts yelling, and I quote, "SUPERFALIFRAGILISTIC-SUPERALEXANDRA". Indeed. He says it was practically perfect in every possible way. Craig says that Alexandra had better swivel than Gorka in that (she bloody didn't). Darcey gets going and says you couldn't tell who was the pro in this partnership and...given that most of the criticism of Alexandra that I've seen is that she's a weapons grade ringer whose very participation on this show undermines the fairness of the whole concept, do they honestly think this is helpful? She loved the level of detail and thought it was fabulous. Shirley describes it as "stratospheric".

In the Clauditorium, Claudia reminds Alexandra that she wanted to do this dance more than any other, and Alexandra says it was so much fun. Gorka's all "yep, she's better than me" and Claudia consoles him that he is Very Good At Dancing. Alexandra says it was such an honour to close the show at this stage, hashtag humble and blessed. Scores: Craig 9, Darcey 10, Shirley 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 39.

Leaderboard:
1=. Debbie & Giovanni - 39
1=. Alexandra and Gorka - 39
3. Joe & Katya - 37
4. Mollie & AJ - 31
5=. Gemma & Aljaz - 29
5=. Davood & Nadiya - 29

Oooooh boy. Two ties on the leaderboard when there are only six couples competing? I think we're about to have another frontrunner in the dance-off... [All my votes went to Debbie and Alex for this reason - Rad]

The lines open, Claudia attempts to read the terms and conditions but it all rather goes to pot when everyone starts singing 'Oom Pah Pah' behind her and Gorka whisks her up into his arms. Quick recap: Gemma being slightly more Hello Kitty than Hello, Dolly!, Mollie living her best life in her rumba, Joe's samba to Cabaret that worked better than it should have even if I still didn't like it that much, Debbie BEING LIFTED WITH NO HANDS, Davood's Argentine tango being more of an Argentine Fanta, and Gorka definitely doing better swivel than Alexandra whatever Craig says.

In the results show: someone's going home, there's a Dreamgirls routine, and there's a performance from Beverley Knight, Amber Riley and Cassidy Janson. Sounds fun! Apart from the "someone's going home bit", obviously.

Friday, 1 December 2017

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

- Susan is very excited to be doing the tour.
- Kevin doesn't know the name of the lifts they had in their American Smooth.
- The kiss in Susan's American smooth was Kevin's idea, but it was meant to be a kiss on the hand at the start and then it...escalated.
- Susan's highlights were being Wonder Woman and doing the quickstep.
- Susan did Kevin's washing.
- Susan's best friend in the competition was Mollie. SITCOM NOW PLEASE.
- Anton is nicking Hot Greg's lines now, the attention whore.  (At least he's not doing Bruno's... etc etc)
- Debbie thinks she kicked Giovanni during the Argentine tango rehearsals more than he kicked her.
- Gorka likes to do press-ups backstage if he's going to be shirtless on camera.
- Katya made Aljaž and Janette matching denim jackets as a wedding gift.
- Katya learned at school that the faster you move your arms, the faster your legs go.
- Katya did 19 charleston swivels with no steps disqualified.
- Nadiya felt it was "time" for Davood to do a straightforward routine this weekend. Week bloody ten, I should think so.
- Davood is the only celebrity not to have scored below 35 in the last four weeks. That's artificial score inflation for you.
- Erin thinks Debbie has the best legs in the business.
- Erin preferred AJ's quickstep choreography to Katya's. Erin is quite right in her opinion.
- Erin thinks Davood gives limp pivots.
- The key to pivots is locking your right thighs together.
- This show thinks the best way to demonstrate the suitability of 'Phantom of the Opera' for an Argentine Tango is to get Gorka caping all over the song.
- Hello, Dolly! was originally called A Damn Exasperating Woman.
- Carol Channing did over 5000 performances in it.
- Dame Judi Dench narrowly escaped being in the original cast of Cats.
- Kevin is really into WWE and has a Darth Vader backpack.
- Kevin did 28 charleston swivels with 12 disqualified, leaving him with a total of 16.
- Gorka told Alexandra to keep her elbows up in the pasothon to stop the other couples getting in their space.
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gorka can't say 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious'.
- Gorka's Cockney accent is...all right, actually?
- Vincent has never been to the naughty areas of Argentina.
- The Argentine Tango leg move where the woman rubs her leg up the man's was to see how much money he had in his pockets.  (Or to clean her shoes).
- The key to ochos is to keep the feet brushing against each other.
- Ian Waite loves a bit of Barbra Streisand.
- Mollie still needs to ooze her hips.
- The key to a good charleston is matching hands and feet, according to Ian.  I thought it was all gurn and swivel.
- Davood is doing a ronde in his AT.
- Amy is scared of all animals except for goldfish and spiders.
- Oti laughed when Amy showed her her practise swivels for the pro challenge.
- As did Neil.
- Amy did 16 swivels with 3 disqualified putting her joint bottom of the leaderboard, but her technique was excellent so at least she can claim a moral victory over Kevin and Katya.
- Giovanni pronounces Pamela as Pam-Ella.
- Giovanni thought their Argentine tango would be better than Vincent's practices with Debbie as Giovanni's the best Italian and Vincent only the second best.
- Dame Joan Collins was a big fan of Debbie and Giovanni's Argentine tango.
- Babs McGee is so shy that if she sees two people kissing on TV she has to go and make a cup of tea.
- Babs McGee goes to her own dance classes on Saturday nights, so she can't always make it to Strictly.
- Debbie won't be wearing a cat suit on Saturday.
- Gemma's dress for the weekend apparently has a sequinned ribcage on the back.
- Debbie's American smooth has left her feeling more nauseous than she has ever felt in her life. And she got "n'awwww"ed at by Tess two weeks ago.
- Chloe enjoys decaf soya cappuccinos.
- It burns your calves and shins to do a lot of swivels.
- Chloe did 20 charleston swivels with nine disqualifications leaving her with a total of 11, putting her bottom of the leaderboard.
- Head of make-up Lisa Armstrong thinks there's nothing worse than seeing someone with a big line drawn down their cheek, so I'm guessing she's not a Trixie Mattel fan.
- Apparently the best way to demo contouring is to have the camera on the opposite side of the face to the actual demo-ing.  Something to do with light and shade, I guess?
- Aljaž thinks maybe you had to be Slovenian to truly appreciate the genius of his samba choreography.
- Gemma nearly tripped several people during the pasodoblathon.
- This show has completely forgotten about that week when the scores were out of 30.
- Gemma has just about mastered saying "hello, my name is Gemma" in Slovenian.
- Katya thought “stupendous” might mean the same as “stupid” when Craig said it, so she went very quiet.

- Joe would really like to be in Cabaret.
- Joe has done “little bits of musical theatre” in the past. (Joe was the lead in Rent when it was in the West End.)
- The pro dance this week will be from Dreamgirls
- This week’s Friday panel was Mel Giedroyc, Dick & Dom, and Pixie Lott. Surely we’re not that far away from Mel doing Strictly?
- Dick and Dom were asked to do series one but thought it would never catch on so they turned it down.
- Dick is ageing into a BBC golf presenter.  Dom is ageing slightly better. 
- Dick thinks Gemma is going to win because she gets better every week. Did he see that samba?
- The celebrities call this week 'week 11' rather than 'quarter-final'.
- Dianne did 21 charleston swivels in the pro challenge but had three disqualified leaving her with a total score of 18 and second on the leaderboard.
- Karen was devastated when she got a 2 from Craig for Nicky Byrne’s waltz.
- Her quickstep with Nicky was the dance that helped her feel more at home on the show.
- Karen's favourite dance with Hairy Dave was the salsa.
- Her way of referring to her time with Will is 'sometimes things don't work out how you'd want them to'.
- AJ artificially slowed their quickstep music down in rehearsals and gradually increased the tempo as they went along.
- Mollie loves the judges, they’re her heroes.
- Mollie is trying to teach AJ to sing. With…mixed results.
- There are 160 mics in the studio on Saturdays.
- Sound supervisor Tony Revell just won a lifetime achievement award from the RTS.
- If Darcey was to dance with any of the current pros, she would choose Aljaž and do some lovely ballroom.
- Darcey tries to look at Craig’s score paddle before he holds it up, but rarely actually gets to see it.
- If Darcey were to add a genre to the show, she'd add lindy hop to give the women a break from heels. 
- Mel hopes that Davood’s Argentine tango will have FLAMES. FLAMES ON THE SIDE OF HIS FACE.
- Mel thinks it's going to be a "shocker" this weekend in terms of the elimination.
- Pixie is rooting for Mollie and Debbie.
- Alexandra is very excited about her Mary Poppins hat.
- Gorka has been asking Davood for Cockney accent lessons.