Saturday, 29 October 2011

Graveyard shift

Top 11/Hallowe'en Week: 29th October 2011

Last week: the show was both a sweet dream and a beautiful nightmare, as Chelsee overtook Jason at the top of the leaderboard at long last, while Flavia channeled Drowzee, the scariest of Pokémon, and ATE RUSSELL'S DREAMS NOM NOM NOM. Elsewhere, Len suggested that Nancy might be that rare type of dancer who functions better when flipped 180º on a vertical axis, Robbie crashed into a camera in a manner that turned out not to have been deliberate, Alex's rumba DEFINITELY HAD NO CHOREOGRAPHY PROBLEMS, Alesha doled out the first ten of the series (*pause for the obligatory grumbling that this inevitably provokes*) and Rory Bremner was eliminated, but at least Erin wasn't wearing anything terribly embarrassing when it happened.

Tonight, on the other hand, it's Hallowe'en, which means everyone is going to be the epitome of self-restraint, especially Jason. Oh, who am I kidding? It's going to be an utter hamfest of the level that even Pamela Stephenson might say "dial it down a bit, love". Poor Alex Jones has spent the last two or three weeks on the edge of her nerves anyway, so God only knows what they're planning to do to her this week. Possibly tie her to a chair with rats nibbling her toes, a tarantula sits on her face, and her eyes pinned open while Carol Vorderman's rumba plays in front of her on an Imax screen on a continuous loop.

Titles! I miss Katya.

We open with perhaps the best thing the show has done in a very long time: a massive Hallowe'en group dance. It begins with Alex, Holly and Bloody Lulu expressing frustration at their broken-down car, with Bloody Lulu's acting being exactly as awful as you'd expect if you saw those hideous "cholesterol challenge" adverts. I assume that Alex and Holly have specifically planned for this breakdown to happen and for Bloody Lulu to get eaten by bears, because that's the only reason I can think of why any sensible person (or indeed Alex Jones) would get into a car with Bloody Lulu in the first place. Holly runs up to some spooky looking gates and pulls the doorbell, at which point the theme from The Addams Family plays. In a wonderful touch, we cut to the judges looking straight ahead while doing the finger clicks, while five of the professional dancers pop up behind them in various degrees of fright wig. The gates open at which point we discover some excellent casting: Harry as Gomez, Nancy as Morticia (full marks to whoever made that call), Chelsee as Wednesday, Jason as Uncle Fester, Robbie as Cousin Itt, Audley as Lurch, Russell as Pugsley and Anita as Grandmama. If only Edwina were still here to take her rightful role as The Thing. Everyone hams their way around the dancefloor in a vaguely choreographed fashion, as if anyone's even interested in the dancing at this point, and Jason devours the scenery as is his wont. Interestingly, Russell is oddly restrained in this whole scenario. Deliberate character decision, or just a bit bored? You be the judge.

Then the floor is instantly cleared (spooky!) and ARGH OH MY GOD IT'S SO HORRIBLE MAKE IT STOP-- oh, my mistake, it's just Bruce and Tess. Daly Dresswatch: an asymmetrical off-the-shoulder sequinned black number that would be passable if not for the inexplicable bit of black rubber tubing around the top. Bruce launches into an overlong anecdote in which he's visited by a shrouded figure telling him it's time to cross over to the other side, the punchline being, of course, that Bruce is never going back to ITV. Shame, because they had a vacancy on The X Factor this week and everything. Just imagine how amazing special guest judge Bruce Forsyth would have been. No? Suit yourselves. Tess falls over her lines, and then it's time to meet the stars of our show: red devil (not Manchester United supporter, as far as I know) Russell Grant, somehow wearing even more make-up than last week, and his partner Flavia; Bloody Lulu pretending to be Christine from Phantom again and her partner Brendan; Chelsee Healy with her uncooperative dress (more on that later) and her partner Pasha Kovalev; Holly Valance and her partner Artem, who have come as Black Swan and regardless of the quality of the dance have already won my "best of the night" award entirely on a sartorial level; Audley Harrison and his partner An Orange Tree -- sorry, Natalie; Harry Judd, Drowning In Guyliner and his partner Aliona; Anita Dobson, who's come a bit early for Christmas Tree Decoration Week and her partner Robin, Robbie Savage as Michael Jackson and Ola as Limahl; Nancy Dell'Olio, auditioning for Sky Living's forthcoming remake of Ice Warriors and her partner Anton; Alex Jones and her partner Count Von Count (likely score for their routine this week: ONE AH AH AH!); and Jason Donovan and his partner Kristina, oddly anticlimactic in their rather nice sea-green outfits.

Bit of banter between Bruce and Len until we discover that Craig is missing, which brings us to the second best thing the show has done in a very long time: Craig being flown in from the ceiling on a broomstick, waving regally, while everyone boos. He's found his true calling in panto, that one. Bruce makes an obscene comment about the broomstick which is still less offensive than last week's Nancy joke, so we'll move on. Tess explains the scoring system once again, and Bruce warns that one couple is about to face a gruesome end. Future Head Judge Karen Hardy is joined by Adam Garcia in the commentary box, hopefully asking him lots of questions about Britannia High, all of them consisting simply of the word "WHY?" Karen's spooky Hallowe'en hair for this evening, incidentally, is far less terrifying than whatever she'd had done to it for It Takes Two on Tuesday.

Up first are Russell and Flavia with their samba, and Craig is still grasping his broomstick (not a euphemism) during their intro. I wonder if he'll be holding it all night. Russell enjoyed last week's routine and its Epic Storytelling That Bruno Interpreted Amazingly. There's a brief "OW MY KNEE" interlude in which I fail to discern the difference between Russell's "my joints are hurty" face and his "my acting is hammy" face. There follows some mild bollocks about their training room being haunted, which would have benefited hugely from the involvement of Yvette Fielding, but I suspect they ran out of money after that amazing opening number, to be honest.

Their routine is to a synth-tastic interpretation of Kylie's 'Better The Devil You Know' (full marks to Our Fabulous Singers Dave Arch, And His Wonderful Orchestra for a very faithful interpretation). They start out vamping behind some billowing bits of fabric with fans underneath them, one of which Flavia inadvertently tramples as she makes her way onto the dancefloor. There's not an awful lot to distinguish between this and Russell's samba, but I'm at least grateful that Flavia's started giving him actual routines to do that bear some resemblance to the brief, and not just the "WOO! SHIMMY! WOO! ON A PRIDE FLOAT!" crap that she did for his cha cha cha. I'm not entirely sure about the bit where she does a backbend and he drums on her stomach, incidentally. I think even Gary Rhodes using Future Head Judge Karen Hardy as an air keyboard was less cringeworthy. There are also some close-ups of Russell shaking his arse, which I can only assume is the "gruesome end" to which Bruce was referring earlier.

Bruce thanks the band, and for once it's deserved. There are no introductions for the judges this week, though special mention should go to Alesha's outfit, which has a terrifyingly huge ruffle on her left shoulder, possibly as insurance against Bruno touching her up this week. Seriously, that thing could take his eye out. Len thinks Russell caught his bum alight coming through the flame because he really started dancing tonight - there were a few mistakes, but he's got the feelgood factor. Alesha thinks Russell and Kylie are a perfect match, and that the samba really suits him. Bruno thinks he couldn't squeeze out more fun if he tried, but he went wrong quite a few times because there was actual content in the routine this week. Craig reckons the dancing let Russell down as the timing was out, but he has great double-bounce action.

They amble up to the Tess Circle, where Russell admits that he did get a lot of the steps wrong. Flavia tries to shush him, but he points out that the judges saw it: "darling, they're not daft." Heh. Flavia's going to kick his ass later for that little bout of sass. His knee's all strapped up, by the way, and he's going to be fine. Scores: Craig 4, Len 6, Alesha 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 22. Tess asks Russell what he makes of that four from Craig, and Russell says that he got too much wrong to warrant more than that, the "from Craig" part of that sentence remaining unspoken. He's happy with 22, that was the number of his first house in Wembley. Fascinating stuff, eh?

Chelsee and Pasha are next. Pasha with his hair all spiked up and the faintest hint of eyeliner are giving me all sorts of inappropriate feelings SO LET'S JUST MOVE ON QUICKLY. Chelsee explains that knowing that the judges enjoyed her performance last week was a confidence boost, but she's just going to take it dance by dance, week by week, and then she and Pasha say "step by step" at the same time, and squeal. These two are so cute together, it might actually break some sort of law. Chelsee's training footage is soundtracked by the B-52s' 'Rock Lobster', otherwise known as THE GREATEST SONG EVER RECORDED, so once again I take my hat off to the music editors on this show. Chelsee worries that the tango doesn't suit her because she's not seductive. For reasons that are never made entirely clear, Pasha then takes Chelsee off to a hall filled with small children wearing masks. I think the only point of this segment is that Pasha + cute kids = *ovaries exploding*, as far as I can tell. Hey, it works for me. Chelsee and Pasha dance for the children, and the children deliver their best Craig Revel Horwood impressions, because he's who they all want to be when they grow up, except one kid, who clearly wants to be Len. I mourn the lack of ambition in the youth of today.

Their tango is to 'Love Potion Number Nine' and involves Chelsee emerging from a cauldron after Pasha pours glitter all over her. The routine starts well - it's dynamic, full of attack and well-acted, and despite what Chelsee says, she's pretty good at being smouldering with Pasha. I also like that Pasha's able to choreograph a distinctly Hallowe'en-themed routine that's still recognisable as a ballroom dance, something that not everyone manages this evening. Unfortunately, just over halfway through things go a bit wrong and Chelsee has a slight wardrobe malfunction which distracts her quite a lot - we see her look down and hastily try to pull her dress up without breaking her flow or her hold, which she does just about manage, but at the end she's far too thrown by trying to sort out the slip to the point where the dance just gets away from her and she looks lost. I don't think there's ever any great danger of any real exposure - I think there's the barest outline of nipple, but that's it - but Chelsee's clearly greatly distressed by the whole thing and bursts into tears as soon as the routine's over.

They walk over to Bruce with Pasha valiantly trying to shield her from the cameras, and Bruce experiences a bit of confusion as to why she's crying - and when he finds out what happened, he pulls open his jacket and stands in front of her. Yes, thanks Bruce - I'm sure that exactly what Chelsee needs when she's just nip-slipped in front of ten million viewers is to have you flash her. Alesha tells Chelsee that she has nothing to cry about, because she covered it up so well (fnar) and it didn't distract from the dance at all. Except for the points where it totally did, but Chelsee's in such a state at this point, that I think Alesha telling her what she wants to hear is probably in her best interests on this occasion. Alesha adds that if anything she's raised her game from last week because it was clean, sharp and full of attack, and that she needs to leave with a smile because this partnership is working. Bruno calls her a "wicked little dancer" and says that of course she lost a bit of her footing with the wardrobe malfunction, but she did a great dance and showed great musicality. "It happens to everybody," Bruno insists. I bet it happens to Bruno more often than most, though. Craig would've liked to see it a bit more grounded through flexed knees, because she was on her toes too much. He adds that she coped quite well with the dress problem, but it was the cause of the dance being a bit of a mess at the end, though the routine was feisty and firey and everything they expect from her. Len thought it was a good dance, which could've been sharper near the end, but overall it was fabulous.

Chelsee makes her way up rather numbly to the Tess Circle, at which point Robin is on hand to give her a long red scarf, which I think must've been part of Anita's costume? Either that or someone from the wardrobe team handed it to him to give to her. Tess reassures Chelsee that we didn't see anything, but Chelsee's still completely mortified and not really up for talking. Pasha says he's very proud of her for the way she handled everything. Tess reminds Chelsee that she topped the leaderboard last week, and asks if she might do it again. Chelsee, uneasily: "No." This really wasn't any easier to watch a second time round - poor, poor Chelsee. [On the plus side, she has apparently now realised that her ridiculous breasts are too big for her. - Carrie] Scores are in: Craig 7, Len 8, Alesha 9, Bruno 8 for a total of 32. Chelsee's shocked that they scored her so highly, but she's "made up".

Audley and Natalie are our third couple of the evening. Last week, Audley's foxtrot gave Len an erection, and now we can officially never talk about that again, yes? Audley explains that he is a competitor and taking it all seriously, hoping to turn up each week and be better than last time. Which would be a marvellous idea, except...this week he's got the jive. In his VT, Natalie wishes him a happy birthday, and Audley states that even though it's his birthday, he's not going to be slacking and he is in fact working extra hard, which doesn't exactly correspond with the report on It Takes Two that they missed two and a half days of training this week, but whatevs. I guess he's just working extra hard in the time he actually had to rehearse, or something. Natalie reminds us that the jive will be a hard dance for Audley, but does not specify that this is because he is A Tall Person. Audle's wife and adorable daughter pay him a visit - his daughter is a dead-ringer for Raven-Symoné in her Cosby Show years, which makes it even funnier. They have a little dance together, and it is very cute.

Their routine is to the prologue from Little Shop Of Horrors and begins with Audley miming along to the piano while Natalie jives alone - perhaps a wise choice, because this is indeed not a good dance for Audley once he actually gets up and starts having a go himself. It's a shame, because he's clearly trying, but there's just too much of him to really make the jive a realistic possibility - he's energetic and enthusiastic, but his dancing is plodding and heavy and rather flat-footed. Natalie's choreographed a fun routine for them to do, though - again, it merits saying that she's one of the best choreographers that this show has in its arsenal, because she's kept it reasonably simple in accordance with Audley's skill level, but it's still visually interesting; they cover a lot of the floor and the routine itself is not noticeably repetitious. It ends with Natalie collapsing into a venus flytrap, which is an oddly sexual image that it's probably best we don't dwell upon too much.

Bruno thinks Audley got into the spirit of it - "big smile, great personality, terrible footwork". He reminds us that the jive is all about sharpness, and is a hard dance for anyone to do, especially A Tall Person, and he did his best. Craig says that Audley made "a gallant effort" but is physically unsuited to this dance, which was "cumbersome" - but he has a lovely smile. Len thought it had rhythm and good timing, and commends Audley for Having A Go. (I think you could clear the board on Strictly Bingo with the comments for this dance alone.) Alesha loved the concept, but thinks Craig and Bruno are right - it needed to be bouncier and light, and the kicks and flicks weren't there, but it was great to see him giving it his best.

Up in the Tess Circle, Natalie exclaims that it was "so much fun", and I love her for that - I think she genuinely does have a blast on this show, and I think she does her best to make sure her partner does as well. I know Audley's circling the drain at this point and has got probably a maximum of two weeks left, but it's to Natalie's credit that he made it this far at all, I think. Audley tells Tess that he enjoyed it, and Natalie reminds us that he had to go back to America this week, so they didn't have as much training time as they would've liked. Audley flashes his smile a bit more for Craig, and the scores are in: Craig 3, Len 6, Alesha 6, Bruno 5 for a total of 20. We finish on a joke about Audley hitting Craig, and I do wish they'd stop those, because that's the one thing about Audley I really don't like.

Alex and James are next, on at the front end of the show again. She's never been later than fourth in the running order, though I suppose she's never really produced the sort of dance worthy of building up to. Alex's VT recalls her terrible feedback from last week, and she resolves to just "get out of the catsuit and move on". James's systematic torture of Alex continues as he leaps out from behind some gym equipment wearing a Hallowe'en mask and scares the living shit out of her. My "Free The One Show One" campaign continues apace. In light of Alesha's recommendation to take more risks last week, James drags Alex off to do some abseiling. She has another breakdown as she scales down the wall, and shrieks "JAMES!" as he stands there laughing at her. What a prince. James then joins her halfway down the wall and starts throwing her around. She reacts to this as joyously as you would expect.

They're dancing a paso doble to 'Bring Me To Life', as vampiric princess Alex awakes on a slab and does a bit of passable skirt work before being joined by Count Von Count, and it all goes rather wrong. I mean, it's an improvement on last week because having a storyline to grab onto gives Alex a bit of life, but the routine's just sloppy and lacks timing and Alex looks pretty terrified throughout. There are a couple of individual nice moments, but they're swamped by things like Alex trying to do an appel a good two seconds before James does, and some generally clumsy footwork, as well as a sense of this being a triumph of fabric-waving over actual content.

Craig quite liked the Dracula theme and thought they played it extremely well - it was the total antithesis of last week and he almost found it erotic ("that probably says a lot more about me than about you"). Len was expecting a Hammer House Of Horrors, but liked the confidence with which Alex started, and he thought the dance had intensity, though there was too much "frock-wafting" for his taste. Alesha loved the beginning and Alex's risk-taking, she thought it was atmospheric and Alex had a breakthrough this week. Bruno likens it to Kate Bush and comments that Alex's strength has improved since last week, as she's linking her lines and being assertive.

Tess calls it "a dance resurrection", and Alex points out that there was room for improvement after last week. She says that she looked scared because James does the vampire thing so well, even though he's dressed like a six-year-old trick-or-treater, and James notes with some disdain that she finds it easier to get aggressive with him than romantic. Yes, I can't think of anything in their relationship as shown in the training footage that would suggest why this might be. Scores: Craig 7, Len 8, Alesha 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 31. For once, James has nothing to bitch about, and we are all eternally thankful.

Next up are Holly and Artem, and I am SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS ROUTINE I CAN'T EVEN TELL YOU. If Lyn Scully runs on in the middle sobbing "where's my sweet girl?" and Holly snaps "SHE'S GONE!", then they've definitely got my vote. Holly recalls her Viennese waltz from last week and says that she enjoyed the prettiness of it, but she didn't think she quite pulled it off, and watching it back, she thought she looked like a dog's breakfast. Artem agrees that they're always missing something every week, and that Holly doesn't understand how good she can be. Their training footage does not address this, however, because they're too busy going to the fair. WOO! Specifically, they're going to Saw: The Ride at Thorpe Park, which appears to be one of those places where they keep you in pitch darkness and have jobbing actors scream in your face every couple of minutes. By far the scariest thing about this is that those poor souls probably trained at Rada. There's a bit of a skit at the end where Holly makes it out first, while Artem stands in a corner sobbing and Blair Witch-ing into the camera that if anyone finds this footage, he loves Kara and he wants Holly to know he's sorry that he never made it to rehearsals. On his exit, Artem gives it the full pantomime expression of horror, while Holly stands there with a bucket of candyfloss, offering the barest possible level of commitment to the comic shenanigans, which is one of many reasons why I love her.

Their routine is an American Smooth, in name if nothing else, and while there are probably those who were horrified at the liberties Artem took with the choreography this week, I actually really enjoyed it: there's enough in hold for it to pass as a ballroom dance, but the rest of it is all massively pretentious faux-ballet stylings and massive melodrama, which I'm eating up with a spoon. There's still a bit of a disconnect with Holly, in that I don't feel she's giving it her all, and one lift in particular just involves her sort of flopping in Artem's arms rather than holding herself with any particular intent, but she is slowly getting there on that front, and you could absolutely make the case that when the choreography is this overblown, it's better to underplay the actual dancing lest the whole thing look like...well, Jason Donovan.

Len says he wants the clocks to go back RIGHT NOW and not at 2am because he thought it was terrific. That's interesting: I would have bet the farm on Len absolutely hating that, but apparently he's in a good mood tonight. Well, at least until Aliona arrives, anyway. He would've liked to see more in hold, but on the whole it was terrific. Alesha thinks they look incredible and it's her favourite concept so far. She thought Holly's lines and shape were great and she loved the originality of it, and she thinks this is the dance that shows Holly as a contender. Bruno says that he thought this was going to be a mess, but that Holly produced a performance of great artistry, and her top lines were just exquisite. Craig thinks it was a high-risk and perilous concept, but Holly made it work. The audience has no idea whether they should be cheering this comment or not, but opt to do so anyway.

Up to the Tess Circle they fly, and Tess mistakenly attributes Craig's comments to Bruno, while Holly says that this has been her favourite dance so far, and that they've worked really hard this week. Scores: Craig 8, Len 9, Alesha 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 35, the best score of the night so far. Holly begs us to vote in her usual curiously nonchalant way.

Nancy and Anton are next. Nancy makes no attempt whatsoever to look at the camera during their intro. Anton's hair has been streaked with white, and actually looks a lot better like that. I think he should just go the full Schofield and have done with it, to be honest. Nancy was disappointed with herself last Saturday, because she knew she could've done much better. This week they've got the rumba, and their routine involves a coffin, which Nancy insists must be "very sparkly, very Strictly" - so of course Anton obtains a rotten-looking wooden one to practice with instead. Cue Nancy arriving and dropping her expensive handbag on the floor in outrage. Say what you like about Nancy, but she sells these comic VTs like no one else does. Nancy interviews that if she doesn't get a luxury coffin on the night, then she is DUNZO.

Fortunately, they have indeed given her a sparkly prop coffin for the actual routine, from which she emerges, drinking from a sparkly wine glass. The routine is to 'Spooky' by Dusty Springfield, and Anton's made the brave/kamikaze* (delete as appropriate) decision to have Nancy open the routine by herself, so she vamps (she's a zombie, but she'll always be a vamp will our Nancy) to the front of the stage and do a strange sort of gyration while stroking her leg that somehow manages to be the least sexy thing since Len last talked about his private parts. It's enough to raise Zombie Anton from his undead slumber, however, and he joins her for a dance, which involves Nancy grabbing him by the neck and doing a spot of spontaneous vertical planking. There are some faintly passable sections but Nancy looks completely sleepy throughout, and Anton even chucks in that same bloody lift again, which is not only illegal (not that anyone even notices anymore) but also an indication that he is now creatively bankrupt as far as Nancy is concerned. He's done all he can, and he can do no more. It ends with Nancy shoving him into the coffin and sitting on the lid, which I think is at least one thing we can all relate to in this routine.

Anton complains about having yet another uncooperative feather boa to work with, and Bruce asks Nancy if she enjoyed that, which prompts another extensive monologue from Nancy. After she's eliminated, they're going to be able to shave at least an extra five minutes off the running time just for those. This one doesn't even add anything new, it's just a Rashomon-style retelling of her intro VT from inside the head of Nancy Dell'Olio. Alesha thinks Nancy is sexy, but she's a walking disaster: "your legs are so far apart, and that's not very feminine". Oh dear. She scolds Anton for the lift, which was "so unflattering" and says that they both should've stayed in the coffin. For one brief, beautiful moment I imagine Alesha getting her 1 paddle out and it being even more amazing than the time she unleashed her 2, but I suspect I'm destined to be disappointed. Alesha thinks the viewers at home will like it (I fucking loved it, it was hilarious), but she didn't. Bruno thinks she danced like the walking dead. Then, in possibly my favourite Bruno moment of the series so far, he calls her "the zombie of Bond Street", and sashays with his eyes rolling all over the place while moaning "designer gear! Designer gear!" Worth the license fee all by itself, that was. He advises her to listen to the music and concentrate, because she's got a great body, and she needs to use it with the music. Alesha notes that Anton is "looking so surprised" and cackles vigorously. Craig calls it "dance horriblis" and that the moment Nancy stepped out of "that sarcophagus" was the moment it all went horribly wrong, and he's getting bored of that lift, which is also illegal. Nancy interjects that the lift was "not my idea" and Anton's all "et tu, Nancy?" Len thinks that there were "moments of Mills and Boon, and moments of Meals on Wheels". I'll admit it: I laughed. It sounds better in Len's voice than it looks written down, unfortunately.

Up in the Tess Circle, Tess asks Nancy if she wanted to nail the coffin shut with Anton in it, and Anton's disgusted that even Tess is turning on him now, while catching sight of his hair and mumbling that he's "never painting the ceiling again". Tess asks about the boa, and Nancy insists that it was no problem, while Anton grumbles that he's lost the will to live. Scores: Craig 2, Len 5, Alesha 3, Bruno 4 for a total of 14. Anton talks over Tess reading out the voting number, because he really doesn't want to stay in the competition any more.

Next are Harry and Aliona, and I hate myself for saying this, but DAMN he looks good with his eyes all My Chemical Romanced-up like that. Aliona can never resist the guyliner overdose on Hallowe'en week, can she? Last Saturday his dance was controversial (i.e. made Len scream like a banshee), but they got a ten, so: bothered. They've got a spooky tango for Hallowe'en, and they're dancing to 'Psycho Killer' by Talking Heads. Aliona wants Harry to bring out his dark side, so she digs out her family's Book Of Shadows (number of people surprised by the fact that black magic runs in Aliona's blood: precisely zero) and casts a spell to take Harry to "the scariest place in the UK". It was nice of Tess to let them film in her wardrobe, wasn't it? Being alongside all those horrific outfits leaves Aliona a trembling wreck, and drives Harry so completely insane that he mutates into a tangoing vampire. At least now we know that Tess's fashion disasters have actually been building up to a greater purpose over the years.

They start sat in thrones, holding baroque masks over their eyes and mirroring each other's movements, before getting up and taking hold while still holding those masks. For a moment I thought that Aliona had reached a new low and was planning for them to complete the whole routine with one hand each preoccupied with holding the masks up, but after the initial slightly fumbly attempt, the marks are quickly discarded. As you'd expect from Aliona, there's about twenty bars of faffing before they take hold again, but when they eventually do, it's very good - full of attitude and haughtiness, and with wonderful, deliberate movements. It ends with Vampire Harry sinking his fangs into Aliona before snapping her neck and returning to his throne as her corpse lies lifelessly on the floor, and if you follow Aliona on Twitter like I do, you know that she probably enjoyed that whole routine rather a lot. Possibly a little too much.

Bruno drools that it was intense, hypnotic and basically give him a boner. Craig thought it was full of intent and aggression and that the storytelling was fantastic; he would've liked to see more of it in hold, but the tango that was in there was done very well. Len begins to say that he agrees with Craig before realising that to ever admit such a thing would stick in his craw, so he stops short. He clarifies to Harry that he is not criticising him OR ALIONA HONEST, but when he watches a tango he wants to see more than eight bars in hold; it was sharp and together and very crisp, but he's from the world of ballroom and he wants to see more of it in hold - especially since when Harry's in hold, he's fantastic. If you can work out how that's not a criticism of Aliona, please send your answers on a postcard. Alesha agrees with Len, but she thinks Harry played it so well, and then launches into this lecture about how art is subjective. In reference to Aliona's Twilight-inspired tango. Amazing. She thinks it was a beautiful piece of dance, and calls them "the king and queen of tango tonight".

Up in the Tess Circle, Harry says that Aliona brought out his dark side this week by being really hardcore in training. Danny and Tom are in the audience tonight, and Tess asks if he thinks they could cut it in the ballroom. "Not a chance," Harry declares. Scores are in: Craig 8, Len 7, Alesha 10, Bruno 9 for a total of 34. Once again the internet erupts in outrage and demands that Alesha be permanently stripped of her 10 paddle, and also stripped of her womb just in case she later gives birth to anyone who feels they have the right to give full marks to something when evaluating it, heaven forbid. And of course, the fact that Len saw fit to give this one point less than whatever that mess was that Alex and James threw up goes unnoticed, because for some reason he's allowed to be as capricious as he likes with his scores while she isn't. (Personally, I didn't think it deserved a 10 either, but I'll defend Alesha's right to give whatever mark she damn well wants until I'm blue in the face. Especially since this year her critiques have actually been pretty decent and worth listening to, and she's actually demonstrated that she's grading on a full 1-10 scale (well, 2-10 so far, but still), which is more than Len or Bruno have done. And yes, in case you're wondering, I do have an entire series' worth of "give Alesha a bloody break" rants up my sleeve, so go ahead, punk. MAKE MY DAY.)

Phew. Right, where were we? Oh yes, Robbie and Limahl. Ola tells us that Robbie really got into his dance last week - to the extent that he overshot his knee slide at the end and crashed into the camera, which wasn't meant to happen. It also meant we didn't see the member of the production team giving him a red card, which was rather a shame. In training, Ola tells Robbie that he must face his worst nightmare this week: the make-under. I really hope they've got Jenny Frost and POD lined up for this. Sadly not: it involves Ola fitting him with a bald cap, painting his face white and sticking novelty denture in his mouth, as Daphne and Celeste's 'U.G.L.Y.' plays on the soundtrack. Eh, that'll do, I guess.

Their paso is to 'Bad' by Michael Jackson, if Robbie's outfit hadn't already made that abundantly clear (although why Ola has come dressed like that is still entirely a mystery), and involves an awful lot of pelvic thrusts, several of them directed straight at the judges. The actual paso parts of it aren't too bad, and there's a nifty floor sweep move with Ola, but the dance is a good 75% posturing, and most of the goodwill it builds up is removed by the end, which features Robbie leaping onto the judges' desk and thrusting his crotch into Craig's face. Fair play to them, though: Ola definitely delivered on her brief to provide a scary routine.

Craig opines that he could have done without "the lascivious hip thrusts, particularly the end one in my face". He thinks it needed more drive and to be power-led, and that there should have been more arching. But apart from that, it was amazing. Len thinks it was "disconcerting" to see all the thrusting, and he saw the Robbie, but thought that it needed to be more Savage. He thinks Robbie needs to work on getting his Latin up to the standard of his ballroom. Alesha is very much in favour of the thrusting and enjoyed the cape work, and she disagrees with the others, as she thought it had real intent throughout. Bruno thinks it was "Bad gone mental" and obsesses about the thrusts - "you know what you're good at now, don't you?" He then attempts to give a serious critique, but is rendered incapable of speech by laughter. It was only a matter of time.

Also rendered incoherent by laughter? Tess, although let's not pretend this is any great loss. She asks if there's more Savage to give, and Robbie hopes so. Scores: Craig 4, Len 7, Alesha 8 ("keeeeeeep thrusting!", heh), Bruno 7 for a total of 26.

Anita and Robin are next, and Anita says that she was worried she wasn't improving at the rate she needed to, but she got a real boost last week with four eights from the judges. "I've improved!" she squeals tearfully backstage. Anita's VT is as mental as ever, as she tries to release her inner devil (because her song is 'Devil Woman', you see). This involves telling herself to eat chocolate eclairs. Considering Anita is as thin as a rake, this seems not so much "devilish" as "entirely sensible". Still, she gets to prance around in a red costume a lot making stabbing gestures at Robin, although given Anita's general air of...precarious psychological balance, I'm not sure if this is what she was directed to do by the producers, or just something they caught her doing anyway and decided to make use of.

Anita snarls her way through her tango, and it's one of her better efforts, but there's a timidity to the whole thing which rather lets it down. If she put as much effort into her limbs as she's putting into her face, this might have been quite something, but it just falls short for me, I'm afraid. Still, she gets her steps right and seems to be enjoying herself, and any state in which Anita is not on the verge of tears is good with me.

Len liked it because there was lots of tango content (ALIONA!), although she lost her timing on a step called the chase. He thinks her posture is her weakest thing, and she needs to sort that out, but overall he liked it. Alesha thinks Anita is a fantastic actress and she loved the drama, but Anita needs to spend a bit of time perfecting her hold. Bruno never knew she could be so evil, and loves that she portrays every aspect of her character with every step, but he agrees with Alesha that Anita needs to work on her frame. Craig: "Acting: 10, Top Line: 3", which is a song that featured in the original workshop of A Chorus Line, I believe. He loved the routine, though.

Tess asks Anita how the nerves are this week, and gets a burst of babbling in response. I suppose that's as effective an answer as any. Scores: Craig 7, Len 8, Alesha (having a bit of trouble turning her paddle around with that giant bow in the way) 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 31.

Now from the "damn it, I forgot you were even here" corner, Bloody Lulu and Brendan. We're reminded of the nonsensical curse-of-the-samba storyline from last week, as well as Len's criticism of their dance as being repetitive. Brendan is not at all impressed with this. Bloody Lulu informs us that for her Hallowe'en routine she's channeling an old bat from hell, as if that isn't what she does every day of her wretched life. Brendan says that he's given her a serious challenge: being flown in like Widdy was last year. Bloody Lulu squeals that the harness is hurting her hoo-hoo, and that's quite enough of that, so let's just move on.

So we have a paso doble to AC/DC's 'Highway To Hell', in which Brendan has his hair all vertical and between that and the guyliner and the facelift haircut, he looks a bit like Logan Echolls. The camera is on Brendan while Bloody Lulu detaches from the harness, and then they do a bit of arm-swooping that isn't entirely synchronised. Some of the footwork is actually quite decent, but the wafting is half-hearted at best, and even with that eye-mask covering half her face, Bloody Lulu still can't quite hide that look that suggests she's not entirely sure what she's doing. To end, Brendan abandons Bloody Lulu by the band and runs around at the other end of the floor for a full ten seconds in which the camera entirely ignores Bloody Lulu's existence, because she's got to get back into her harness to be borne aloft again. I would actually be in favour of Bloody Lulu flying every week if it means we see less of her.

Bruno thought Bloody Lulu handled the tricks with panache, and he counted all the way through and she didn't lose her way tonight. Craig is quite partial to a bit of flying and loved the concept, particularly the theatrical exit, but he felt there was a battle for supremacy when they were in hold. "That's the paso doble, that's the whole idea, the fight," Bruno interjects, so Craig clarifies that it felt more like Bloody Lulu trying to catch up. Len thinks there were lots of tricks and quite a few treats, but the problem is that Bloody Lulu is a bit soft in the body, so she's too willowy and Brendan can't always use her properly, but it was entertaining and he loved it. Alesha, whose ruffle is now devouring her ears, thought it was an amazing entrance and she loved Bloody Lulu's determination.

Up in the Tess Circle, Brendan gives thanks to wardrobe and all the production crew for making tonight happen. Everyone applauds, though I can't help wondering if Chelsee is applauding wardrobe with slightly less enthusiasm than everyone else is. Bloody Lulu says that she prayed all week just to hear Bruno say that she didn't fuck up. I, on the other hand, was praying all week for Bloody Lulu to fuck off. Scores: Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 29.

Closing the show again are Jason and Kristina with their quickstep. The VT really plays up his struggle from last week while Jason pretends that he genuinely believes himself to be in any danger of going home. His training is so exhausting that he asks Kristina for a quick five minute nap break, and yep, it's another dream sequence. Widdy appears at the foot of his bed (okay, maybe it's a nightmare sequence) and declares herself "the ghost of Strictly past", with advice for him: it's not necessary to show his chest hair. She then disappears, waiting for Gary Barlow to fall asleep so she can deliver the same words of wisdom to him. Next, Katya appears as the ghost of Strictly present (which is odd, considering she was eliminated two weeks ago, but anything that keeps Katya on my screen will not be overly questioned). She has wiser words than Widdy: "dance every dance as if it were your last. I should know." Heh, she really should. So, who's going to be the ghost of Strictly yet to come: Richard Madeley? Frankie from The Saturdays? Roxy Mitchell? No, it's, er, Joe Calzaghe. Who did the show two years ago. Yeah, I don't understand that either, but I'm guessing he was cheap and available. He insists that Kristina must make the final this year, or he'll have him to answer to. Jason awakes just as Kristina takes a "real-life" phone call from Joe Calzaghe, and Jason pulls this face.

His routine is to 'Bewitched' (sadly not to B*Witched, and no, I don't care that Zoe already made that joke on It Takes Two). Kristina is a witch (I'm not being misogynist, that's actually the part she's playing) who's controlling Jason's every move with her magic wand. I bet she wishes she'd been given that thing three years ago. She makes him dance for her, and then joins him. It's a fun, showy routine that makes you understand immediately why they saved it for last: even Jason's face this week is relaxed (well, as relaxed as it's likely to get). Nicely played.

It's standing ovation central, and after another ill-advised attempt at Craig reviving his Aussie accent, he thought the routine was fab-u-lous, but there were a couple of mistakes. Len snarls "so what if they've made a couple of mistakes? Some of them have done a tango and they haven't even done a tango and they get ten." Oh, Len. Imagine if you hadn't spent the last couple of years arbitrarily changing the rules depending on whether someone was tall/a sportsman/homosexual/partnered with a pro you dislike as well as throwing sevens at people just for making it through an entire routine without falling over in a shameless attempt to endear yourself to the public, then you might almost have a case here. Almost. He wants to reiterate what Brendan said and compliment all the dancing, make-up, props and wardrobe tonight, and he thinks Jason has been fantastic. Alesha thinks Jason was cute and charming throughout, and it was a brilliant routine. Bruno thinks it was "bewitchingly brilliant and slightly barmy", and declares Jason to be back on track.

Up in the Tess Circle, Jason bores on about having made mistakes, but that he chatted to Harry earlier about counting and how that really made a difference to him. THANKS JASON GREAT STORY. Tess says that this was the longest standing ovation they've had so far this series. Has she been up there with a stopwatch for all of them? I mean, I wouldn't put it past her, but still. Kristina does the nose wiggle one last time, Jason tells us that he's taking the kids trick-or-treating on Monday and that next week he'll be doing the rumba, if he's allowed to say that, and then the scores are in: Craig 9, Len 9, Alesha 10, Bruno 9 for a total of 37, the highest score of the series so far. Insert The Internet's usual outrage to Alesha giving a 10, insert Steve's usual paragraph of outrage about the outrage. (I could've actually gone through the motions in detail, but I've already done it once this week and I don't want to burn myself out, so let's just all agree to move on and meet back here next week for more of the same, yes?)

Leaderboard: Jason top, Holly second, Harry third, Chelsee fourth, Alex and Anita tied for fifth, then Lulu, then Robbie, then Russell, then Audley, and poor old Nancy at the bottom again. Audley/Nancy bottom two, anyone? I think so, though it's anyone's guess who goes.

The phone lines are open, and we recap Russell's sassy samba, Chelsee's titillating tango, Audley's junky jive, Alex's petrified paso, Holly's awesome American Smooth, Nancy's ridiculous rumba, Harry's terrific tango, Robbie's pugilistic paso, Anita's tremulous tango, Bloody Lulu's part-time paso and finally Jason's quintessential quickstep.

Well, that was fun, wasn't it? But the fun ends for someone tomorrow - but who (out of Audley and Nancy) will it be?

Results Show: 30th October

We open with a witches' brew! Ola, Katya, Kristina and Flavia pose around a cauldron, as the band strike up 'Somebody's Watching Me'. Pasha, Robin, James and Artem arrive dressed all nerd-like, wearing thick glasses and backpacks, and also still made up from their earlier routines, so Robin's all bleeding beneath the eyes and Artem's still deathly pale and it's all a bit wrong except for Pasha, but let's be perfectly honest: Nerd Pasha is so very hot that it's not like anyone's going to be focusing on anything else. The boys happen upon the cauldron, at which point the women reappear and dance around them, offering drinks from enchanted goblets. My favourite bit of the whole thing is the very tiny contented little burp that Artem does after drinking - it's barely even noticeable, but it's very funny. Unfortunately, these are not very inventive witches, and the only plan they have for the boys after bewitching them is to make them all dance a little Latin medley, and not to make out with each other or anything interesting like that. It ends on a good bit, where the witches return to the cauldron and disappear in a puff of smoke, to be replace by the judges, who all look rather confused. We then cut to the judges' table, where the witches are all sitting, grinning mischievously (if anyone's wondering, Aliona's in Craig's seat, Ola's in Len's, Kristina's in Alesha's and Katya's in Bruno's. Head Judge Ola Jordan! Make it happen, Strictly 2012!). Tess appears, voices her concern and clicks her fingers, returning the judges to her rightful place and banishing those tricksy witches.

Tess announces that this is a spooky start to our Hallowe'en results, but the scary season is about to claim its next victim. After a quick bit of banter with the judges, we then throw to Claudia, who's up in the gods as ever. She reminds us that "devilishly handsome boyband" The Wanted will be here later, as well as the ever-welcome Len's Lens, but first: time for a recap!

The opening number was of course epically amazing, and Len reflects that the entire evening was magic. Russell's samba was well-received, but contained a few mistakes. Backstage, he admits that he could've done it better, but hopes to go onwards and upwards. Chelsee had a wardrobe malfunction, and is still tearful backstage, as you might expect. Audley enjoyed his jive despite the rather tepid reviews, and announces that if we look at his feet, we're not going to be happy, as a general rule. I feel that way about everyone's feet, to be fair. Alex's paso was a mess, but got rave reviews. Holly and Artem did a bonkers Black Swan number, which was loved by everyone, even Len, and Holly declares this her favourite Hallowe'en ever. Nancy's rumba was declared "a walking disaster" by Alesha, and backstage Nancy opines that the judges are not fair. In a backstage interview, Len says that Harry is one of the best ballroom dancers he's ever seen, but the angry look on his face and the fact that he's having to lean against a wall for support suggests that this may have been a lone piece of positive feedback in the midst of many comments about THAT BLOODY ALIONA. Robbie was advised by Craig to lead a bit more, and he bitches backstage about being given a four. Anita did a mental tango that was still surprisingly tame, and the judges loved it, as did Anita herself. Bloody Lulu flew across the stage, and Len felt that what she lacked in technique, she made up for in entertainment. Jason and Kristina rounded the evening off with a rather lovely quickstep, and shot straight back to the top of the leaderboard. They were, understandably, quite pleased about this.

Time for the first batch of results. In no particular order, the following couples are definitely back next week: Bloody Lulu and Brendan, Alex and James, Jason and Kristina, Holly and Artem and Chelsee and Pasha. In the bottom two, however, are Audley and Natalie. Not really a huge surprise, even to the two of them.

Tess turns to Len for his feedback on how the jive is Hard For Tall People. Len says that he's disappointed to see Audley in the bottom two, but since the odds were not in his favour this week, he's not entirely surprised. For a nice change, Len makes the valid observation that sometimes you just get the wrong dance in the wrong week, and that's what happened here.

Claudia's with the five ecstatic saved couples, and turns to Alex first. She asks if she was alarmed or delighted that Craig found it erotic, and Alex decides that on the whole she was flattered. She says that she was worried it might all end, so she decided to dust herself off and give a good performance. Claudia gets distracted halfway through all this by the quality of Alex's eyelashes. Bloody Lulu says that she's still flying after the great feedback, and that she's very happy that Brendan did such a great job. Claudia says that Chelsee did brilliantly, and then she was in tears. "I feel a bit daft now," Chelsee mumbles. Pasha puts a reassuring hand on her shoulder as she explains that she was nervous this week, and just got really thrown when her dress started going wrong.

Time for a musical interlude from those champions of Lemon Or Cheese, The Wanted. It's the same song that they did on The X Factor the other week, and therefore every bit as lyrically suspect as it was then, rhyming "frightening" with "lightning" and all that. ['Knock on Wood' also rhymes "frightening" with "lightning", and that's AMAZING. - Carrie] Still, I like the fact that their awareness of the need for an Ugly One in every boyband is so keen that they've recruited three, just in case one of them leaves.

Once that's over, it's back up to Claudia in the gallery with the judges, which means it's time for Len's Lens. There is slo-mo footage of Len attempting to do the nose-wiggling thing from Bewitched. He explains that he wanted to do that before giving out his score, but unfortunately he didn't quite get the hang of it. Claudia points out that this didn't stop him from attempting it for 14 seconds. Len is disappointed that this didn't work even though he has "quite a big bugle". Len wants to talk about Alex and James, and how last week she got a hammering, but this week she came back with confidence and performed on her own. "You've got to risk it if you want the biscuit," he adds, "sagely". Bruno bursts into a bit of Kate Bush for good measure. Next, there's a surprise clip of Alesha pulling an "erp" face while watching one of the dances, God love her. Alesha wants to look at Holly and Artem's American Smooth, which she thinks was "really unique" (aargh) and original and that Holly really stepped up her game this week. Len agrees that the beauty of it was that it was effortless. Claudia asks why it wasn't a ten, and Len cites a lack of content, Alesha blames the lifts going on for too long, and Bruno and Craig point out the lack of correct attitude in the aforementioned lifts. We have, of course, close-ups of Len's and Craig's faces as Robbie leapt onto the desk. Craig looks horrified and hides behind his book, while Len appears to be having the time of his life. Everyone finds this HILARIOUS. Claudia asks about the musical performances, by which she means Russell's bongos and Audley's piano. Bruno calls the latter "Audley Gaga - 'I was born this way', go for it!" Heee. He thinks everyone had wonderful concepts and embraced the spirit of the night, even if they weren't technically the best dancers. It ends, as it always must, with a close-up of Russell Grant shaking his moneymaker. Sigh.

Time to find out who of the remaining dancers is in trouble. GOSH YES I WONDER. Surviving for another week are: Anita and Robin, Russell and Flavia, Harry and Aliona and Robbie and Ola, leaving Nancy and Anton in the bottom two. "Really?" says Nancy, sarcastically. Hee.

Tess reminds Bruno that it's Nancy's third time in the bottom two, but Bruno points out that she's also been saved by the public three times. He does understand her appeal since it's fun to see someone so beautiful looking so clueless on the dancefloor and wants to see her again, chiefly to see if she can get any worse. He likes the fact that she goes for it, even if she constantly fucks it up.

Time for a bit of a professional showcase, and this time it's an American Smooth starring Vincent and Flavia, Anton and Erin and Brendan and Natalie. The women all have arm-hankies made of cobwebs, which just seems to be a recipe for getting tangled if you ask me, and to make things even more complicated, they've got jellyfish dangling from them as well. It's a very pleasant routine, but I think I've been spoiled by the general insanity of the group numbers this weekend, because it doesn't quite measure up on the bonkersometer.

Afterwards, Claudia's with Audley and Nancy, and asks Audley if he has better dances in him if he stays. He says that he definitely thinks he's more of a ballroom man, but he did give it a try. Claudia turns to Nancy - "we keep meeting like this" - and asks if the rumba was the final nail in the coffin. "No," Nancy replies. Claudia asks if she enjoyed it. "To be in the coffin?" Nancy replies. Hee. Nancy adds that she needs to rewatch the performance: she thinks the judges were too mean to them, but she will know for sure when she watches it back. I'm going to miss her so much.

Time for the pre-exit VT. Nancy says that "nothing makes you more happy to realise that the people are laughing with you". With you, at you, it's totally the same thing. She wants to carry on. Audley is loving being part of Strictly because he gets to dance every day, and he's having so much fun that it doesn't feel like working. "Twinkletoes is not done yet," he finishes. Do you think they even bother making these for people like Jason and Harry?

We're back in the main studio with Tess, and someone's about to go home for good. The couple leaving us tonight is...Nancy and Anton. Nancy stoops to pick up a discarded earring from the floor, and in response to Tess's question about what she'll miss most, replies "Let me think about it, don't ask me now." Hee hee hee. She says that it's been a full-on experience, and then the other earring falls out. Honestly, even her exit is a work of improvised comic genius. Anton lobs the offending earrings away as Tess points out that we don't need any more wardrobe malfunctions. Nancy says that she's had a lot of fun and it's been an incredible experience, and she's learned dancing "...partly." Hee. Anton's going to miss Nancy the most, and calls her a superstar. He almost sounds sincere about it, or at least he does until Tess ushers him off quickly. So that's yer lot for this weekend. Claudia and Tess remind us that Jennifer Grey is standing in for Len next week, and 'Ghost Town' plays for Nancy and Anton's last dance, and he picks her up and twirls her around, but does not do That Lift for old time's sake.

That's it for this week - join Carrie next week for Jennifer Grey, who may or may not spend all her time crying. Lord knows she did on Dancing with the Stars. [Warning you now, I have a very limited Jennifer Grey threshold (even more limited when Derek Hough is next to her) and I'll be recapping on Tuesday night, so you'll probably hear my screams of frustration as I type. - Carrie] See you then!

Monday, 24 October 2011

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

- Couples are allowed to dance out of hold for 10 seconds in ballroom. Not that anyone is paying any attention to this whatsoever.
- Craig is never mean on a personal level, and if anyone thinks that, then they're wrong. All of his critiques come from a director/choreographer level. The more you know, and all that.
- One of the researchers wasn't paying attention to Jason's scores a week ago, because they thought Chelsee got Craig's first 9 of the series.
- Robbie wasn't actually supposed to collide with the camera on Saturday, but he got overexcited and overshot his knee slide. He's got a nasty mark on his nose now.
- Katya is not a great gossip hound, to the extent that she thought Jennifer Grey replacing Len for a week was a "full exclusive" on her KatCam backstage footage. She's still amazing, though.
- Some ladies in the audience this weekend took photos of Harry's bum. I will add their names to the list of people that I will FIGHT.
- After just two weeks, Pamela Stephenson is already running out of cod-psychological insight to draw from the training footage. Fingers crossed she'll be gone entirely by week seven.
- Zoe thinks Nancy and Anton deserve their own show. I concur, but I hope it's significantly better than Craig and Widdy on Celebrity Antiques Roadtrip.
- Anton counts in Italian for Nancy when they're training. That's quite sweet.
- The paso doble is the only Latin dance in which heel leads are allowed. Again, this assumes anyone knows or cares what the rules are any more.
- Pasha did karaoke once. Never again.
- Julien Macdonald has cut his hair short. I preferred the lovely curls he was rocking on BintModel.
- Blue is one of the hottest colours for next summer. That's right, this blog is BANG ON TREND.
- Zoe has a problem with her dropped bottom. It's best we don't ask for details.
- Dance demonstrations are rather more effective when Zoe's involved than when Claudia was.
- Practicing with your shoes off is very bad.
- Harry is giving Audley "a right pec" for his birthday. Harry is weird sometimes. PS. HARRY MY BIRTHDAY IS IN MARCH, JSYK.
- Audley and Natalie have missed two-and-a-half days of training because he had to go back to America. This would be a really good time for the "the worst the rehearsal, the better the dance" rule to kick in.
- Aliona has choreographed a vampire-themed routine for Hallowe'en. Say it with me now: try to look surprised.
- Harry and Aliona are at the top of the training leaderboard with 195 hours under their belts. Apparently at least half of this time is spent eating, burping or bickering.
- Apparently Black Swan fits in with the theme of Hallowe'en, because that's what Holly's American Smooth is based on. I don't mind telling you that when I saw that film, by far the scariest thing about it for me was ALL THE CLOSE-UPS OF FEET. *shudder*
- Chelsee is not interested in kissing Pasha. She is literally the only person in the world who feels this way.
- Alex and James have called the appels in their paso doble "Craigs", because James likes to pretend he's stamping on Craig's head, because he's awesome like that and not at all a dick or anything.
- Oddly enough, that Lady Training that Holly was DEFINITELY TAKING SERIOUSLY didn't really stick.
- Zoe and Alesha quite wish they'd had props in their day.
- Audley should probably leave the rapping to the professionals.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Bremner, Boag and Misfortune

Top 12: 22nd October 2011

Last week, The Voice of Tess informs us, the stars gave their regards to Broadway. Whether Broadway expressed the same sentiment in return is, at this moment in time, still to be determined. Some couples were declared a must-see, while others were critically panned, and ultimately Dan and Katya were eliminated, leaving Dan to run off and cry to anyone who would listen that it was all about gimmicks and props these days and that he'd clearly been focusing too much on the dancing which...would not be the opinion of anyone who'd actually seen him dance, I'd wager. This week, it's back to ballroom basics, which for some reason are illustrated by a close-up shot of a bull, and Jason twatting around Tesco in a cheap-looking cape. "For our dozen, it's getting dirty," Tess opines. But who will be getting a clean sweep with the judges, and who'll just be a muckraker? This is Strictly Come Dancing 2011!

Titles! I love how Nancy looks confused and overwhelmed even in the five seconds' worth of footage she gets in this sequence.

We're live from Television Centre, and we have a Bruce, and a Tess, and...DEAR GOD, WHAT IS TESS WEARING? I mean, I know we do the Daly Dresswatch every week and display some level of disapproval on matters sartorial, but this is a new low. It's a Vimto-coloured full-length figure-hugging dress with black slashes across it and some sort of Nefertiti-esque gold ring around her neck. I swear it is not a word of a lie when I say that my Twitter timeline was pretty much enveloped with screams of "WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?" when she first appeared. I'm afraid I can't answer that question, but I have a feeling it may be here to claim our firstborn children, and I recommend we do not look directly at it.

Bruce welcomes us, and we see that Widdy is in the audience tonight. Is it just me, or has she lost a bit of weight? Bruce perves about bumping into Holly backstage. This will be nowhere near the least tasteful thing he'll say tonight, just so you're prepared. Tess reminds us that Dan is no longer with us, but we still have 12 couples to look after this week. Bruce babbles a lot of unnecessary filler and Tess looks vaguely uncomfortable throughout. I'm no Tess Daly apologist, but Bruce is becoming such a liability during these off-script segments that I think it would test the skills of even the most confident ad-libber to look calm next to him. Eventually, after Tess has suggested that tonight's couples are "good to go" and Bruce has screamed "WE DON'T WANT THEM TO GO!" in her face like some drunken uncle, it's time to meet the stars of our show: your designated comedy contestant Russell Grant and his partner Flavia Cacace, the former caked in so much make-up it's a wonder his entire head hasn't slipped down into his ribcage with the excess weight; singing abomination Bloody Lulu and her long-suffering partner Brendan Cole; "comedian" and "impressionist" Rory Bremner and his partner Erin Boag, who seems to have checked out of the entire thing and might well spend tonight mentally planning her next haircut; future Daisy Duck impersonator Chelsee Healey and her partner PASHA KOVALEV (*swoon*); stealth show subverter Holly Valance and her partner Artem Chigvintsev; It's Hard For A Tall Person Like Audley Harrison and his partner Dame Natalie Lowe; my future husband Harry Judd and his partner/millstone Aliona Vilani; permanently overexcited Anita Dobson and her partner Robin Windsor; live-action Sindy doll Robbie Savage and his partner Ola Jordan; total loon Nancy Dell'Olio and her partner Anton Du Beke; the increasingly endearing Alex Jones and her increasingly toolish partner James Jordan; and finally, runner-up to Gary Barlow in World's Most Boring Man 2011 Jason Donovan and his partner Kristina Rihanoff. Look at them all, aren't they lovely?

Bruce cracks an impenetrable joke about "eyes and teeth" before he and Tess explain the scoring system to anyone who hasn't witnessed the previous eight series [it's a theatrical motto - eyes, tits and teeth, as mentioned by Sheila Hancock - Carrie], and we're reminded that Future Head Judge Karen Hardy is available on red button commentary as always, and this week she's joined by former contestant and pioneering lady-caper Kelly Brook. Ah, Kelly Brook. She really was quite good. By rights, the series five final should've been Alesha vs Kelly. I mean, that never would have happened even if Kelly hadn't had to drop out, but still, the version in my head is amazing. Bruce yells crazy old man things at Karen and Kelly, and Karen and Kelly smile and nod, which is pretty much all you can do.

Up first are Jason and Kristina, going in the front-half of the show for the very first time. When a frontrunner who's generally been saved until near the end is suddenly shoved on first, it often means a bit of a turnaround in their fortunes - will that be the case this week? Let's find out. In his VT, Jason says that he was overwhelmed by the judges last week because even grumpy old Len had a big smile on his face. We're reminded of Len calling him "the midwife, because you keep delivering". I suppose that's better than being called the midwife because you show up after several hours of pushing and grunting and demand to look at someone's cervix. It hasn't escaped Jason's attention that he's been top of the leaderboard for three weeks in a row, and he's going to dig deeper to maintain that. What this means in reality is that he will prepare for his paso doble - which he admits he's finding a bit of a struggle - by donning a comedy Spaniard outfit and running around the Edgware Road branch of Tesco Metro (I've been in there a few times, so I totally recognise it) and running around like he's on his way to audition for an Old El Paso advert. He harasses various shoppers, all of whom look entirely unimpressed. Meanwhile, Kristina is in what looks very much like the James Street branch of La Tasca (I've been there as well) wondering why her partner is fart-arsing around the supermarket and not meeting her for their scripted VT hilarity as expected. I note that Kristina has a table full of food and a plentiful supply of sangria, so I think that all things considered she's got the better deal here. Jason interviews that his matador might not be one of his best roles. He doesn't specify whether, on the grand scale of things, it's higher or lower than being in Echo Beach.

Their paso is to 'I Want It All' by Queen, and like a lot of Jason's dances, the vast majority of effort is being concentrated in the face. I don't think I've seen a Paso Face quite so tongue-swallowingly constructed since Tom Chambers. From the neck down, there's not a lot to write home about as the shaping is a bit loose, the walking is too much like actual walking, there's a bit of business with Kristina's skirt that doesn't look like it goes quite as planned, and it's all a bit lumpy. On the bright side, Kristina has managed to work in a tribute to her iconic routine with John Sergeant and allowed Jason to pull her across the floor like a sack of spuds for a brief, glorious moment.

Jason tells Bruce it was a "difficult birth" this week, and Bruce welcomes Our Fabulous Singers Dave Arch, And His Wonderful Orchestra. Bruce also says that last week's dancing raised the eyebrows of the judges, or would have done if it weren't for all the botox. It's not exactly the most original or compelling joke in the world, but it's completely made by Alesha innocently asking "whose botox?", indignantly echoed by Bruno, and then everyone turning to look at Craig and giggling. Len tells Jason that the first thing he looks for in the paso is the buttocks, because if the buttocks are firm, the posture will be good. Jason's buttocks were good, but unfortunately his technique was all a bit amiss. Len thinks he looked great when he was standing still, but the twist turns were "plonky" and it wasn't his best dance. Alesha thought it was a confident performance, but that he felt a little unsure (eh?) - that most of the character was projected in his face and she wants the balance between the technique and the passion. Bruno says that Jason tried to make a big meal out of the paso, but got indigestion. He says that the feet were off-timing, and he wasn't on top of the routine. Craig says that Jason needs to keep his shoulders down at all times, and follow through all of the lines that he creates, and he's lifting his knees too much. Jason agrees with all of those comments, apparently. [This made me laugh so hard. The graciousness! - Carrie]

They scamper up to the Tess Circle, where Jason reminds us that it's been a tough week and everyone's tired, and it's been a whirlwind, so the judges' comments were fair, and he says that next week is another week and they'll give it 100% - crucially neglecting to add "if we're still here". Tsk tsk, that's Reality Show Humility 101, Jason, you really need to work on that. Scores are in: Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 7, Bruno 8 for a total of 27. For some reason, Flavia and Russell find this hilarious. Either that or it's some private joke, but it does look rather unsporting either way. Tess reminds them that there was a member of Queen in the audience, and asks if that was unnerving; Jason says that he hopes they did "Brian's song" justice. I've not seen that film, so I can't offer an opinion.

Next on are Alex and James, who've got a rumba for us. Bruce explains that it's a dance in which the man "woos" the woman, and that Alex spoke to him before the show and said she thought she was going to get wooed tonight. Hand on heart, for one brief moment of horror, I thought this was going to end in a "get wood" joke, but instead the punchline is "you'll get very wude", à la Jonathan Ross. Even so, it still took Bruce's obligatory explanation of the gag for me to confirm that my interpretation was wrong.

Alex says that they were both over the moon with last week's performance, especially being third on the leaderboard. She confesses that she doesn't want to be negative, but since there's a chance it may never happen again, she freeze-framed her recording of it on Sunday a few times. Bless. I honestly didn't expect to like Alex Jones, but there's something quite charming about her on this show. Admittedly it may well have something to do with most of her rehearsal footage from the last few weeks looking like James Jordan's homemade video nasty, but still. Alex gets the obigatory "it's so hard to be sexy" VT that people get when they have the rumba, and then there's a random bit where James grabs her by the legs and swings her around the floor until she squeaks like Beaker from The Muppet Show. I'm beginning to think we need to stage some sort of intervention here to save Alex from this awful, awful man. We end on a bit of comedy with Alex trying to be sexy for James, arriving in the style of a reverse-gendered Diet Coke advert and getting wolf-whistles from the boys, until she gets strangled by presumably the same vindictive feather boa that sabotaged Nancy's first dance. Hilarity itself, clearly.

Their rumba is to Leona Lewis's version of Snow Patrol's 'Run', and Alex is wearing an unflattering lace catsuit for it. Bizarrely, it starts in a manner reminiscent of all those Boleros they do on Dancing On Ice, and most of Alex's choreography once she's on her feet appears to be walk-walk-pose, walk-walk-pose. Last week, when the choreography for her Viennese waltz was criticised as being too basic, I didn't actually mind because I'd rather see basic choreography executed well than advanced choreography executed poorly (see: almost everything Robin gave Patsy Kensit last year), but the choreography for this is completely phoned-in, and because Alex doesn't really have a lot of performance skill or technique to bring to it, there's no veil over the "will this do?" nature of the steps this week. There's a brief moment in the middle when it picks up, but for the most part it's just so infuriatingly dull and plodding. It frustrates me so much, because when a rumba is done well it's one of my favourite dances, but everything about this is just wrong. I mean, there's even a bit where James drops Alex to the floor and she starts rolling along, and if that didn't make you think of this, then you're a better person than I am. There's also something that looks uncannily like a lift, though because it's shown in an aerial short it's pretty much impossible to tell if Alex has her feet on the ground or not.

Alesha tells Alex that she's sexy, and that the beginning of the dance was beautiful, and that Alex had nice arms and control throughout, but Alex plays it safe and needs to take more risks if she wants to grow. Bruno tells Alex she looks "sinfully sexy", but her performance was too demure and hesitant. He complains that Alex never really went for James with passion, and demonstrates this on Alesha, as is his wont. Len pulls a face of disgust, which is odd, because he spends so much time complaining about being surrounded by excessive gayness you'd think he'd welcome a bit of heterosexuality for a change. There's a cut to some of the other pros and contestants up in the Tess Circle here, and Aliona looks so bored, it's hilarious. Craig calls it "sexless, cold and stiff", with no hip action whatsoever, and "you spent four counts of eight just on your knees". I dunno, that sounds pretty sexy. James Jordan: People's Champion interjects here that "the public seemed to like it", because that's exactly the kind of lowest common denominator-grabbing douchenozzle he wants to be these days. Len, quite rightly, picks him up on this, and says that the public judge on "efficacity" and that the judges are here to lend the benefit of their many years of watching, competing and well, judging. He thought it was a good performance, but there was too much on the floor, there was a lack of hip action, and while it had romance, he would've liked to see more content in the routine.

Up in the Tess Circle, Tess asks Alex if she feels she's overcome her fear of being sexy. "Well, obviously not," Alex replies. Heh. Tess asks, since the rumba is the dance of love, who was Alex imagining as she danced it? "Me!" James hoots indignantly. Alex says that "you can't think of a lot" while dancing (bless her, I suspect that's the case even when she isn't dancing). Then - oh boy, here we go - James decides that he hasn't been quite enough of a dickhead yet this evening, and asks to speak "probably on behalf of all the professional dancers here" that it'd be nice "if the judges stopped commenting on our choreography, because we've been in the business a long long time, and we know what we're doing." I have a lot of thoughts on this, so I think it's best if I express them all in a numbered list.

1. Shut up, James.
2. Shut up, James.
3. This really is not about you. Your role on this show is to teach and support your celebrity. How is any of this little hissy fit helping Alex right now? She is stood next to you right now, TRYING TO GET YOU TO STOP, for crying out loud, because she fears - perhaps correctly - that she might be penalised for your little outburst.
4. Saying that the celebrity should not be judged harshly because of the choreography they were given is one thing, and an idea I would actively support, but saying that the choreography on this show should be immune from criticism? Get real. Should this piece of work not have been criticised? Or this? Or this? Or this? Or this? Or this? Or this? Just because you've spent years doing something doesn't mean you don't fuck up occasionally.
5. If you don't want to be criticised for your choreography, then try not to make your apathy quite so obvious. I mean, Erin lost interest in this series about two weeks ago, and she still managed to turn out something more interesting this week than that load of shit you just made Alex do.
6. Being the pro who refuses to let their celebrity be criticised at all is quite annoying. Being the pro who refuses to let anyone be criticised is utterly ridiculous.
7. Finally, SHUT UP, JAMES.

[Can I add another? 8. The choreography is fair game for judging. It always has been. Hence the pro partners winning the glitterball too. If choreography wasn't part of the competition, they'd give everyone the same routine each week. - Carrie]

I think that covers it. Anyway, shall we get the scores? Craig 4, Len 7, Alesha 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 25. James can't let it lie, of course, so he witters on about how a "four is ridiculous" and he's "forgotten more about dancing than Craig will ever know." James, I refer you to points 1, 2 and 7 above.

Next we have Rory and Erin. He was very happy with last week's performance, but he's worried about having to do the cha cha cha this week. On Tuesday, he says that Erin is trying to turn him into a sex god "when we all know I'm a middle-aged Scotsman". Well, Len didn't know that last week, Rory, so there might be some hope. Rory does the old "I'm an impressionist, I'm not comfortable being myself" schtick, and says that whenever Erin tells him to be butch, he ends up being camp. The footage seems to back this up. [Also, Rory says that it is a "cha-cha-challenge", which Alesha said prior to her cha cha cha. Plagiarist. Or impressionist. You decide. - Carrie]

They're dancing to 'Dance To The Music' by Sly And The Family Stone, and taking the unusual step of beginning the routine on the steps to the Tess Circle. It doesn't get off to the best of starts, as the promenade section across the floor sees Rory turning in the wrong direction, and not being there to meet Erin, throwing them both off for a second or two. There's a whole section of them apart, dancing up opposite sides of the floor, which shows confidence on the part of Erin, but the dancing as a whole is rather embarrassing. I feel bad for Rory, because he's clearly giving it a good go, but this is just not his dance at all.

Bruno says that Rory was "like a cocky rooster" and reminds him that he needs to step on the ball of his foot to get the correct hip action, but it was very funny. Craig calls it "gauche" and "gawky", and says that his flat-footedness made him look uncomfortable. Bruce witters on about how this and the quickstep are very different dances, and you are not a judge, Bruce, so kindly button it. Len says that he's like the government - "there's a lot going on and not all of it's good". He liked the New York section and thought that by and large he kept on time, but the gyrating wasn't his cup of tea. Alesha says that Rory's work ethic is brilliant and he's committed to the dance, and she enjoyed it.

Tess tells Rory that he threw himself into it, which Erin agrees with, and Rory cracks that he and Erin are a coalition, like the real government. Tess tells Rory that his hips "told the truth out there", and if she can't even quote Shakira correctly, I think it might be time for Tess to be put out to pasture like the useless bovine that she is. Tess finishes by saying he's getting fitter every week, and Rory asks her what she's doing after the show. Heh. Scores: Craig 4, Len 7, Alesha 6, Bruno 7 for a total of 24. Erin begs the viewers to vote because "I think we might need it." Spoiler: they do.

Audley and Natalie are next on, and he showed improvement last week despite tripping over his feet. Audley begs the viewers to keep him on because he wants to keep losing weight. In rehearsals, his feet are still a problem so Natalie recommends a ballet lesson, and Audley reacts with comical macho horror. However, Natalie Lowe is scared of no one and nothing, so she gets her way and Audley goes to a ballet lesson. I commend the show on its restraint for not forcing him into a tutu, by the way. Audley is complimented by the ballet teacher on his "gorgeous plie" (OOH MATRON!) and he admits that he quite enjoyed the ballet, and thinks his dancing will benefit from it. Sometimes Audley seems to be behaving so sensibly in his VTs that I wonder if he understands this show at all.

They're dancing to 'I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself', which is one of my favourite songs ever by the way, and we open with Audley sitting on That Damn Bench while Natalie indulges in a bit of skirtography. It's actually pretty good when it gets going - there's not a lot of noticeable rise and fall, but there's a pleasing fluidity to his movement and the choreography is absolutely lovely. There's one frankly terrifying spin section where Natalie actually looks like her head has detached, but even that works somehow.

Craig says that he's seeing some improvement, particularly in Audley's frame, but it needs swing and sway and the pivot turns were a bit mean, though overall he really liked it. Len thinks some dances are more challenging than others, and the foxtrot is "probably the hardest, technically, to do" (bollocks it is - even Kate Garraway managed a decent foxtrot) and finishes by telling Audley that "I'm sitting here, giving you a standing ovation." Hold on a minute - did Len just actually say that a dance gave him a hard-on? Excuse me, I think I need to go and pour an entire bottle of Domestos directly into my cerebral cortex. Alesha loves that Audley rises to the challenge, and she could see the concentration in his face which was the only thing that spoilt it for her, but she thinks he should be proud. Bruno agrees with the concentration issue, and says that while Audley got lost a few times, he covered it very well.

Natalie grabs her boobs on the way up to the Tess Circle, confessing to Tess on her arrival that she did the whole dance with her dress undone. Have I mentioned that Natalie is my favourite pro? I love her SO MUCH. I'd totally want her as my partner if I went on this show. (I am TALL, so that probably helps my chances.) She pops herself back in, and Tess asks Audley if the ballet helped. Audley says that it did, that the comments from the judges were helpful, and that he had a knee problem this week which threatened his chances, but he got there in the end. Blimey, that's about three weeks' worth of storyline. I guess after that early visit to the bottom two they're cramming it in while they can. He thinks that it was the best they've danced that dance. Scores: Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 25. I think that was a little underscored, to be honest. Tess asks Audley what's next for him, breakdancing? Thanks for that bit of ethnic profiling, Daly. Audley says that he will be doing nothing of the sort.

Up next are Team Nanton with their paso doble. All of the rehearsal footage for this routine looked abysmal, so this should be interesting. There is a truly spectacular amount of filler from Bruce relating to the presence of Widdy and Edwina both being in the audience tonight. I think this show was running a little under time in rehearsals, given how much he and Tess seem to be padding things out. Nancy's face after all of this is an utter picture, by the way; one of despair as painted by Edvard Munch. There's a lovely bit of sly humour in her VT from the music editors, who decided to soundtrack Nancy's reflections on last week's performance with Tina Turner's 'The Best'. Once that's over, Anton reminds new viewers that the paso doble is the dance of the bullfight where the man is the matador and the woman is the cape. He tells Nancy that he's got a surprise planned for her, a trip that will conjure up the feelings of the paso doble. "I think he's probably taking me to Madrid! Where else could be the best place to get into spirit?" says Nancy, either gamely playing along or as delusional as ever, depending on your personal perspective. Surprise! He's taken her to Stepney Farm. "This is no Madrid!" Nancy howls. Anton shoves Nancy into a pen full of bulls as she insists "I no want to get into the spirit of the dance!" I seriously covet Nancy's purple stripey wellies in this scene, by the way. Nancy points out that nothing in being shoved into a field of bulls (while Anton remains on the other side of the fence) is going to help her dance better on Saturday, and she' a point, hasn't she? Incidentally, I would like to point out that there was still less bull in that entire segment than there was in James Jordan's post-dance interview with Tess.

Their paso is to 'Rodrigo's Guitar Concerto', and it's every bit the mess you'd anticipate - even Anton's pretty sloppy. Nancy's dress is hideous and looks like it's been attacked by moths. She stumbles around the floor, at arm's length from Anton and often visibly counting the beats. Despite this, she's frequently out of time with the music. There is, however, one truly spectacular leap in the routine that took my breath away, and makes me wonder if Anton is a lot stronger than he looks or if Nancy just has secret powers of levitation.

Edwina Currie gives the routine a standing ovation; the rest of the audience does not oblige. Bruce asks Nancy if she was the cloak or the bull, and with pitch-perfect comic timing, Nancy plays it to the crowd with an eye-roll: "Well..." She complains to Bruce that Anton keeps putting her upside down all the time. "There must be a reason, dear," Bruce responds. Nancy informs us that being upside down increases the flow of oxygen to the head and this is how Anton is getting her to improve. Sure, why not? Anton says he's going to start with her upside down next week. Heh.

Len wonders if she might be better on her head because she's no good on her feet. He thinks there was more content this week and he enjoyed it. Alesha finds Nancy intriguing, and in this dance she thought she was a rag doll, but she loved it. Bruno calls Nancy "fabulous with your legs in the air" and wishes she'd stayed like that all the way through, because she was trying to count and still went off-time "which is almost impossible to do!" Note the word 'almost'. Craig thought it was more like "a paso set in Oklahoma" with all the skipping and the hoedown. I wait for a "put that ho down" joke that never arrives. He thinks it was "lift city", and while Nancy messed up after the dip, but he thinks there is secretly talent beneath the surface and we need to invest in that. Yes, ANTON. At this point, Bruce gets completely disgusting and asks Anton if he's ever danced with a Nancy before. Nancy Dell'Olio, God love her, breaks this awkward moment by lunging at Bruce and kissing him, thereby shutting him up. She won my vote tonight with that alone, let me tell you.

Up in the Tess Circle, Anton declares that it was "close". Tess asks how Nancy made the part of the bull look so glamorous. "She's the cape! The cape! She's not the bull!" Anton screams, before adding for good measure: "CAPE!!!" Heeheehee. I don't have a lot of time for Anton's crap, but I did find that very funny. Nancy chucks his chin and apologises for messing up. Aww. Scores: Craig 3, Len 5, Alesha 5, Bruno 5 for a total of 18. Anton: "I can't tell you how good it was going to be."

Next to dance for us are Bloody Lulu and Brendan. They get no joke in their intro. Last week they were penalised for the illegal lift, by Craig at least, and Bloody Lulu exclaims that being fourth from the bottom is "progress". This week they have the samba, and Bloody Lulu spends most of her training running around the room and cackling like Witch Hazel. I can only assume that Brendan has developed selective deafness in order to deal with her. She does appear to be picking it up quite well, though. Brendan tells her that this is the one dance he always gets kicked out of Strictly on. Number of times Brendan has actually been kicked off after a samba in eight series: three. The show, however, counts it as four, which means they're including Kelly Brook which, considering she withdrew from the competition after the death of her father, would be in poor taste even if she weren't the one doing red button commentary this week. Anyway, Bloody Lulu vows to break the curse.

They're dancing to 'Sir Duke' by Stevie Wonder, and the opening has them stood in front of the judges' desk miming with some trumpets. When they've finished, they place the trumpets on the desk, and Len and Alesha stow them away. I secretly hope Alesha's planning to insert that trumpet into Len if he even thinks about mentioning the phrase "getting on my wick". As for what Len plans to do with it, I feel it's best we don't ask. Bloody Lulu's hair is absolutely grotesque this week, but her dancing isn't that bad - it's rather flat-footed and sluggish in places, but for a samba it's not so bad. They waste several beats by running up the steps of the Tess Circle and cavorting with the other dancers before striding down again (remember this, it will be important later). Bloody Lulu gets a bit lost at one point and looks around to Brendan for guidance, but recovers a lot better than she has done in the past. She ends a second or two behind the beat, too.

Alesha thinks the samba suits Bloody Lulu because it's full of beans and energy. Bruno thought it was bubbly and effervescent, but then has a small psychotic break: "A couple of mistakes, though, WHY YOU ALWAYS DO IT?" Steady on, Bruno. Bloody Lulu blames a wardrobe malfunction. Craig thinks it needed more content and that they wasted time running up the stairs, but he thinks this dance suited her. Brendan: "In a 1:37 dance, we had one minute and fifteen seconds worth of content; I think that's enough for you, [Bloody] Lulu." Snerk. Len finishes off by saying that he liked the gusto and enthusiasm and the carnival spirit, but it felt repetitious. James Jordan, still feeling a need to burn out whatever goodwill he built up with Pamela Stephenson last year, decides to holler something from the balcony. Len turns and yells for James to "turn up, keep up, and shut up", which I believe is the exact same retort he used on Brendan in last year's Hallowe'en special, right after Brendan had returned from his father's funeral. Still, James does need to do all of those things, and I think the sound engineer who decided to mute James's microphone for his response to all of this deserves a Bafta of some kind. Outstanding Service To Silencing Douchebags, perhaps.

In the Tess Circle, Bloody Lulu slurs that she found her rhythm this week, and Brendan insists that she's messing with his mind. Scores: Craig 5, Len 6, Alesha 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 25. Tess invites us to vote for Bloody Lulu and end Brendan's alleged curse.

Who's next? It's Holly and Artem. In her VT, Holly notes that she was "a little low on the ol' ladder" last week. When she was fifth. I mean, I appreciate her point because I'm sure she's not exactly raking it in as far as the public vote is concerned, but it probably doesn't help her case to be saying it out loud. She says it's making her hungrier to impress the judges and get back up the top. Her VT is all about her not being naturally ladylike - as she and Artem dance around some poles (not like THAT) he tells her not to bend over, and she snarks that some viewers might like that. In the latest of this week's education-themed segments, Holly visits etiquette queen Liz Brewer, who makes her walk with a book on her head. Holly finds the whole thing hilarious, because Holly is taking this entire series with a fairly sizable pinch of salt, which is one of the reasons why I love her. Meanwhile, Artem sits in a chair and giggles, so Liz makes him do it as well. Then Holly is instructed to repeat "how now brown cow" in the plummiest of accents, again failing to keep a straight face. She and Artem stride out of the room, him reciting "how now brown cow", and she kicks him on the rear, which Liz declares "a bit inappropriate". Holly informs us that she will be "how now brown cow-ing" during her performance on Saturday, and that she will "nail it - like a lady". Love her.

They're dancing to 'Cry Meow' by Pixie Lott, otherwise known as Sheila Hancock's favourite song, and there are three lamp posts in the middle of the floor across a diagonal axis. Holly starts at one end, Artem at the other, and they meet in the middle, avoiding each other like Gavin Henson avoids rugby. There's a bit too much arsing around with the lamp posts for my personal taste, particularly the visually unappealing bit where they're dancing around the same one and have to duck under each other's arms, but once they take hold it's rather lovely. There's still perhaps a lack of commitment in Holly's performance, particularly in her arm placement at times, but this is easily her best dance so far, and after last week's rather unfortunate tango, an encouraging sign about her ballroom.

Bruno commends the storytelling and the fluidity, but says that Holly could be amazing if she just focused a bit more. Craig found it bumpy, but loved the storytelling, and points out that they missed a hand pass. Len got fed up with the poles in the end (didn't Arlene get in trouble for saying that to Ola back in series five?) and tells her that she needs to step forward on her heels, but she was light and fluffy and lovely. Alesha thought it was elegant and composed and that Holly did a great job.

In the Tess Circle, Holly remarks that she's annoyed with herself for missing that hand pass, adding "not that we're hard on ourselves or anything" and pulling a massive "ERP" face. Heh. Scores: Craig 7, Len 7, Alesha 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 30. Tess calls her "our Aussie corker Holly" and asks if she likes being called that. Holly: "Yeah, that'll do." Seriously: LOVE HER.

Next are Chelsee and PASHA! Chelsee admits that last week her cha cha cha wasn't quite as secure in her head as it could've been, and says that she sometimes gets a bit overexcited when she's dancing to music she likes. This week, Pasha explains that Chelsee's schedule at Waterloo Road is keeping her busy, so if she can't come to him, he's going to go to her. Curiously, the scenes that Chelsee is filming at this point involve her wandering around in a wedding dress, and being carried to a pink stretch limo by Chalky. It seems a bit odd of the BBC to air a massive spoiler for Waterloo Road in the middle of another show like this, but I guess it was all cleared by those in the know at some level. Incidentally, there's a brief scene of them chatting with Britain's Got Talent winner and Waterloo Road cast member George Sampson - I wonder if they were comparing dancing notes? Philip Martin Brown, aka Mr Budgen, says that he doesn't know Chelsee finds the time to rehearse, but they're all rooting for her. Chelsee says that she hopes the extra rehearsals have paid off

Chelsee's in a blue air hostess-style dress not a million miles away from the one Britney Spears wears in the 'Toxic' video, and Pasha is a businessman who can't find his ticket, so...they dance. Well, it still makes more sense than most of Aliona's routines, I guess. And it's more imaginative than the porn version of this scenario probably would've been. They're dancing to 'Sing Sing Sing', and there are lots of lovely touches here, including the superimposed shadows of planes flying overhead on the floor. I'd say this is the first genuinely memorable routine of the series (for the right reasons at least) because it has a real wow quality to it - the storytelling is good, the choreography is ambitious, the performances are strong. There are moments where Chelsee looks a bit off-balance, but that's pretty much all I can find to fault in it. It ends with her pulling a novelty oversized ticket out of his jacket (seriously, Pasha, you couldn't find that? I guess when you're that pretty, you don't have to be smart) and waving it in the air. Afterwards, Chelsee fans herself with the ticket as the audience give her a standing ovation.

Craig declares it "first class". Len thinks Pasha checked in, and Chelsee will not be checking out tomorrow. Alesha thinks they have great chemistry, and her only criticism is that it ended too soon and she wanted to see more. Bruno calls Chelsee a "pocket rocket" and says the whole routine was great.

Up in the Tess Circle, Chelsee squeals with delight, and Tess asks her how on earth she managed to pull that off in so little training time. Chelsee says that she's just enjoying herself, so that's spurring her on. Pasha says he doesn't know how she's managing to do it either, and Chelsee says "it's him, he's really good." D'awww. Scores: nines all round for a total of 36. Chelsee and Pasha are ecstatic, and it is ADORABLE.

Having to follow that are Harry and Aliona with a waltz. We're treated to some treasured memories of Harry's bare chest, and Harry says that while it meant a lot to get praise from Craig, he has to keep working to keep the standard up. Harry explains that this week's waltz has a little romantic moment in it, so he's "got to get my romantic hat on". Very sensible, and I would advise all the impressionable youngsters out there to do likewise. He's having trouble getting the hang of the romantic side of dancing (it says here), and needs some sort of self-help guide, which is a cue for one of those spoof public information films, involving a dour-faced Harry looking sharp in a pinstriped suit learning how to pull a rather blowsy-looking Aliona in a bar. Aliona is a massive ham throughout this - I feel like I should've noticed this sooner, but I suppose she was gone rather quickly in her first series, and it was impossible to notice anyone else's scenery-chewing last year when Pamela Stephenson was around.

Their waltz is danced to 'Come Away With Me' by Norah Jones, and it's really lovely - soft, elegant, and very romantic. As a couple, they still don't have masses of chemistry, but somehow it's not an issue in this dance because - and I don't say this easily - Aliona's choreography here is pretty good. There's a break in the middle where she goes up on the stairs, and he pursues her, whispers in her ear, kisses her, and invites her back onto the floor. This proved pretty divisive, but for what it's worth, I actually thought it worked perfectly fine within the context of the story they're telling, and certainly in terms of both Aliona's usual propensity for batshit gimmicks and the strange insistence on staircase-faffing tonight, it was remarkably restrained. So honestly, no complaints here.

Len's got his having-a-conniption face on, so let's get it over with: he claims to be distraught because the first half was fantastic, the hold, posture and footwork were beautiful, and it had rise and fall, but then there was the stair bit. "I DIDN'T GET IT! I DIDN'T GET THAT BIT!" Len screams. Not liking it is one thing, but...not getting it? It wasn't exactly Ulysses, Len. It seemed perfectly self-explanatory to me. The audience boos, and Len continues screaming that he loved it and thought it was a ten, and then that happened. Aliona attempts to explain herself, and Harry shushes her, which may not be gentlemanly, but is perhaps very wise after the sort of precedent James laid down earlier tonight. Alesha insists on taking her turn next and points out that the celebrity dances the choreography that they are given, and that she's not going to penalise Harry for the whispering bit. Which is basically the rational human being's version of what James was wittering on about earlier. She tells Harry that he makes ballroom look cool, and that it was exquisite. Bruno thinks Harry is a smooth operator ("you can whisper in my ear any time", to which I say HANDS OFF BRUNO I SAW HIM FIRST) and says that his musical phrasing was superb and he was riding on every bar. He thinks the bit on the stairs is "a question of interpretation", but he needs to work his lines when he's shadowing Aliona. Craig loved the whispering and the whole storytelling, and he thinks Len is wrong. Len, of course, takes considerable umbrage at this and calls Craig a "puerile little git". "Puerile"? Really? I don't think that word means what Len thinks it means. Len then continues screaming about how it was supposed to be a waltz and how it should've been a ten, and Craig is all "show me exactly where I disagree with any of that, dear" and Alesha has to bang on the desk and remind Len that Harry didn't choreograph it. Bloody hell. Bruno decides to add some levity by suggesting he and Harry practice the shadowing together, and Harry winks at him and makes "call me" gestures. I'm warning you, Bruno: call my man again and I'mma ***k you up.

Harry and Aliona head for the Tess Circle while Len continues to fume, and Tess tells us that Russell loved it. Harry says that he enjoyed himself, though it was the hardest week, and it wasn't until Thursday that he really got the hang of it. Tess asks if he'll be doing that on the next McFly tour, and Harry replies that Tom's in charge so he'll have to ask him. Tom hollers "NO!" from the audience. Hee. Scores: Craig 8, Len 8, Alesha 10, Bruno 9 for a total of 35. Seriously, Len docked two points for the staircase? Also, in a depressingly predictable fashion, the internet exploded with outrage over Alesha daring to give anything a ten without being sanctioned by the other judges first, because God forbid she know her own mind or anything. I have no problem with that routine getting a 10, and I understand that Future Head Judge Karen Hardy said it deserved one on the red button commentary as well (I didn't witness this myself, but I shall be checking as soon as it goes up online), so if it's a choice between siding with Alesha and Future Head Judge Karen Hardy or siding with Len...well, I don't think you need me to tell you that. [Oh God. I'm on Len's side. If pro and celeb got different marks, then I'd be Team Kalesha, but it's supposed to be a partnership. Including lame-ass choreography. - Carrie] Anyway, Harry's rather shocked to get the first 10 of the series.

Anita and Robin are next. She really enjoyed her jive last week, particularly getting a standing ovation. This week, they've got the American Smooth, and Robin is looking forward to getting all glamorous in the old Hollywood style. He mentions Fred and Ginger in rehearsals, so we must all drink. Anita recalls watching the movies as a young girl and wondering how it would feel to be a movei star, and we segue into a vaguely creepy dream sequence sex fantasy between her and Robin which is best left well alone, I feel.

They're dancing to 'I've Got You Under My Skin' and it starts out a little stuttery and incorporates a bizarre-looking bit where Anita stands on one leg while Robin rotates her 360º like a weather vane, but it soon picks up with some impressive lifts and a lovely sequence of kicks.

Alesha says that the dance fits Anita very well, and she just needs to straighten her legs because on occasion they were really bent, and she did a great job with the daring lifts. Bruno says that she's never been lovelier and it had the '40s glamour, but he thought the arabesque was a bit dodgy. I think that's the technical term for the weather vane bit that I didn't like. Craig spotted a couple of little mishaps but nothing major, and they lost body contact quite a lot throughout, but he thought it was sophisticated and classy, and Anita is a consummate pro. Len liked the little things, like the two heel turns that she did, and the overall ease and elegance of the routine.

Anita runs rigidly up to the Tess Circle as Tess explains that Anita's been nervous all week. Tess asks Anita if she felt like a movie star, and Anita concedes that she did "at moments". Tess then decides to poke that bag of insecurity with a big sharp stick and asks Anita if she can ever imagine a time when she won't be dancing with Bobby, and Anita's face immediately crumbles, like WELL DONE TESS. *slow clap* Scores: Craig 8, Len 8, Alesha 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 32. Anita is verklempt.

Our penultimate couple of the evening is Robbie and Ola. Robbie was thrilled to have improved with each week, and hopes that things will continue along this line. Ola has a plan to sort out Robbie's nerves, by dancing at halftime during a Reading football match. It backfires slightly, as Robbie isn't so nervous while Ola is terrified. Luckily, they get through it and don't get booed - indeed, they get cheers. Robbie says that it's still not as terrifying as dancing on a Saturday night, though.

They're dancing the jive to Otis Redding's 'Love Man', and it's...not the continued improvement Robbie was hoping for, let's put it that way. The kicks and flicks aren't too bad, but the rest of it's all rather lumpy, and his free arm just hangs around limply. There's also far too much time spent with him on his knees (fnar). He ends it with a knee slide into the camera and kissing it. I didn't need to see that.

Bruno says he's never seen anyone work the golden locks like that since Jerry Hall. Heh. He declares it "insane" (if anyone would know, Bruno would) and while technically "not perfect", he had a good time. Craig found it sloppy and ploddy, and the timing wasn't always there, but he adored the characterisation and the way Robbie went for it. Len reaches for the "you loved it, the crowd loved it, everybody loved it" well, and Alesha loved how his energy was on a different level tonight.

Tess asks Robbie if he's been surprised by the support he's had from football fans, and Robbie has. Well, that's that sorted. Scores: Craig 5, Len 8, Alesha 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 27. Bloody Lulu smacks Robbie on the bum. No idea why.

Finally we have Russell and Flavia, who have been on last in every show in which they've performed bar one. Jesus Christ, show, push this shit a bit harder, why don't you? We're reminded that Russell was dragged kicking and screaming into the ballroom section of the competition last week but still managed to be gayer than Christmas, and Craig remarking that Russell could do with toning the camp down a bit. Russell makes the point that there are plenty of celebrities being Rambo ("like Harry in leather" he says, in the tone of voice that I might use when considering Harry in leather, and seriously Russell, I WILL FIGHT YOU TOO) and that you can't really be macho when dancing to a Barbra Streisand song. And yup, he's pretty much on the money there. Their tango is to 'Sweet Dreams' and Flavia has gone for a literal interpretation, making a routine that is about dreams. I'm worried already. This leads into a VT in which Russell dreams about dancing with Flavia on some cliffs, with rainbows and sunshine and puppies and...

...excuse me.

*vomits into a bucket continuously for half an hour*

Right, sorry about that. *wipes mouth surreptitiously* Where were we? Oh yes, Russell and Flavia's tango. It begins with Russell in bed, being woken by dream sorceress Flavia, who forces him to tango with her. I don't actually mind ballroom Russell quite so much, because there's less of an opportunity for Flavia to just choreograph any old Mardi Gras shit for him - here there's an actual tango with structure, and while not the most exemplary display of talent or technique I've ever seen, it is at least a good effort and recognisable as a tango, and that's pretty much all I'm looking for. I could do without the end pose, mind, which is Russell doing a Macauley Culkin in Home Alone face while clutching his teddy bear.

Craig thinks that it's good for him to give machismo a bit of a go, but the shoulder shrugs didn't really belong, and occasionally his head didn't look like it belonged to him either. Len says his head is like a nodding dog, and it was all too whimsical and airy-fairy, but there is an endearing charm about Russell. Alesha thinks it wasn't the best tango she's ever seen, but she appreciated Russell's interpretation - and at this point she can't keep up the pretense any more and just starts cackling, which is fair enough. She thinks he's too nice for the menacing tango, and she wants to see him have a go at a jive. Bruno thinks it was "from Sleeping Beauty to night terror". Flavia and Russell congratulate him on his correct interpretation of their routine.

Russell, Flavia and Teddy head up to the Tess Circle, and Russell is thrilled that Bruno got the whole storyline. Tess asks what reaction he gets from people, and Russell says that everyone's so kind, and they're always dancing for him. "It's worth doing this just to be in touch with the people again," he says. PLEASE NOTE THAT RUSSELL LIKES PEOPLE, WE WEREN'T SURE IF YOU GOT THAT. [He also likes MEN. In a SEXUAL way. Because he is A GAY. - Carrie] Scores: Craig 5, Len 6, Alesha 6, Bruno 7 for a total of 24. Russell apparently has the samba scheduled for next week if he's still here. Cripes. Everyone starts cracking up for reasons that shall remain a mystery to me.

Leaderboard, anyone? Chelsee's at the top this week, with Harry close behind, then Anita, then Holly, with Jason and Robbie tied, then Alex, Audley and Bloody Lulu all tied behind them, then another tie between Rory and Russell, and poor Nancy at the bottom again.

Recap: Jason's paso don't-ble; Alex's rumba that WAS AMAZING AND DEFINITELY HAD NO CHOREOGRAPHY PROBL--get off my keyboard, James Jordan; Rory's reluctant cha cha cha, Audley's foxtrot where Natalie's head fell off, Nancy definitely being the cape and NOT THE BULL, DAMMIT; Bloody Lulu wearing Dougal from The Magic Roundabout on her head; Holly being a pole dancer (ho ho ho); Chelsee taking to the skies; Harry and Aliona on the stairs and incurring Len's wrath from now until the end of time; Anita giving it Hollywood old-school; Robbie dancing on hot coals, and Russell's tango that could've been a sweet dream but was in fact a beautiful nightmare.

And that's it! Someone's going home on Sunday, but who will it be?

Results Show: 23rd October 2011

We open with a close-up of Pasha. Note to directors: please begin every show like this. It turns out there are actually other people present, and in fact this is a routine from James, Ola, Kristina, Robin, Katya, Pasha, Aliona and Artem - I think it's a salsa, but frankly it could be anything. It's very lively, whatever it is. They're dancing to 'I Know You Want Me', by Pitbull, and there are podiums involved. I like to think this is what they all get up to after the show each week, when the cheap watered-down BBC beer starts flowing. At one point it looks like Aliona almost falls over and is only saved by Artem puling her up, but maybe that was intentional - who knows?

Tess is here, and wearing a different dress from "last night" - sadly this one is equally hideous; it's see-through with polka dots and sheer black panels to cover up her more unmentionable parts. At least there's nothing around her neck. She re-introduces the judges, and tells them all they're looking fine. Unsurprisingly, they do not return the compliment.

Over to Claudia, who's looking better than she did last week, thank God. She says that we have a performance from Vincent and Flavia coming up, and someone called Caro Emerald singing for us. I thought having Professor Green on The X Factor was bad enough, but at least I've heard of him.

Recap of last night's action: people got ready, then they went out and danced. Robbie kissed Harry on the cheek. Do I have to add Robbie to the list of people who are after my man as well? This is just getting silly now. Jason's routine got rather muted reviews, and backstage he says that he doesn't think he did a bad job, he hopes he hasn't peaked completely. Backstage, Alex thinks that being called sexless is the worst insult you can call someone (really?) and gets rather teary. James is mercifully silent. Rory was called gauche and gawky, and he says backstage that his overall mission is to please Craig. He then mimics Len's "the gyration isn't my cup of tea" and adds "well, that's Latin, isn't it?" HA! Good point, Mr Bremner. Len got a stiffy for Audley, and Audley was very appreciative of it, in a non-sexual way. Bruno said Nancy was out of time, and backstage admits that she "probably" was, yes. Bloody Lulu got told off for her repetitive samba, and Brendan thinks that YOUR MOTHER IS REPETITIVE, SO! Holly got good feedback for her Viennese waltz, and seemed oddly emotional backstage. Chelsee was "over the moon" with the scores for her quickstep. Len thcweamed and thcweamed until he was thick over Aliona's choreography, and Harry remained diplomatic about it backstage, though he did allow himself to get excited about scoring the first 10 of the series. Anita screamed about her scores backstage, and had a bit of a verbal failure. Robbie shook it all about, and Ola laughed that Bruno loved the hair more than the dancing. Russell's happy to have been called a Strictly legend, so that's nice.

Time to find out the first lot of people who can breathe a sigh of relief this week. Safe, and through to next week, are: Chelsee and Pasha, Audley and Natalie, Anita and Robin, Harry and Aliona, and Bloody Lulu and Brendan. In the bottom two, however, are Rory and Erin. Holly has spent the entirety of this section looking terrified, by the way, and having to wait another 15 minutes to learn her fate might actually kill her.

Len is OUTRAGED that Rory is in jeopardy because it was definitely not his worst dance. Because that's how the scoring works, we judge their progress from week to week, grading on a curve, and if they fail to improve they go home. Jesus Christ, Len, are you NEW? [Len definitely needs his week off. - Carrie]

Claudia's with the five safe couples, and Chelsee is excited to have been top of the leaderboard this week and is absolutely loving it all. Claudia tells Anita that she looked emotional this week, and Anita said she wanted to get better each week, so she was nervous that she would blow it and not come up to par. She says that she had a sneaky suspicion she'd love it, but not this much. Claudia asks Harry if getting the first 10 of the series was better than having eight number ones. Harry grunts, which clearly means "come off it", though he hastily corrects himself. Nice safe, McFly. Nice save indeed.

Then somebody called Caro Emerald sings a song called 'That Man'. I have no idea who she is, but it's all fairly standard retro bollocks, like we need another Imelda May. It's all very dull until halfway through, when the previously silent crowd suddenly scream because Pasha and Katya have come to do the most frenetic jive I've ever seen in ages. I love them both, and I have never been so glad to see either of them in my life, because this shit was seriously soporific before they turned up.

After that, Claudia's with the judges for Len's Len, which has picked up Len having a little play around on the trumpet during Bloody Lulu's samba. He is cross that it didn't work: "you'd think it would be easy to blow up one end and spout out the other." Well, if anyone would know, he would. Len's selected Anita and Robin to watch in slow-mo, possibly because he thinks he can see her knickers. We get a slow-mo of Anita's fabled heel-turn as well, and Len points out that if he's being pedantic, he'd like to see her feet together, but it was lovely. Alesha has selected Robbie gyrating, which she declares "like an animal". She thinks he deserves a hair advert when the show's over. She also wants to see Rory gyrating again, and she's disappointed that he's in the bottom two, because he did so well with his hip action.

Craig has selected Nancy and Anton with the sound amplified, which is a series of terrifying grunts from both dancers. The colour drains from Craig's face throughout, and he says he's so pleased they don't get to hear that every night. We see the lift in slo-mo, which Craig calls "the lobster claw". He says that he loves her because she's great fun, but he'd like the dancing to live up to the personality. Bruno has selected Russell Grant And His Giant Slab Of Ham, which he calls "slightly demented, but very very funny".

Trail for next week's Hallowe'en special: essentially a recurring gag in which something looks terrifying at first but turns out not to be when you look closely. You know, a bit like Bruno in reverse. I'm not going to recap the entire thing, but the people who come out of it the best are: Holly for above-average girl-in-horror-movie face acting, Harry for looking hot in a hoodie, Nancy for being Nancy, Robbie for doing a surprisingly good Blair Witch homage, Anita for also giving good horror-movie-face, and Audley for the best/worst fake-drinking ever committed to film.

We're back with Tess, who has the results for the remaining six couples. In no particular order, safe and returning next week are: Russell and Flavia, Holly and Artem, Robbie and Ola, Jason and Kristina and Alex and James, leaving Nancy and Anton in the bottom two with Rory and Erin.

Tess turns to Craig and asks if he's worried we won't get the chance to see the talent beneath Nancy's surface that he suggested might be lurking somewhere, deeply submerged. Craig says that he is, and he would miss her campness if she went, and he's sado-masochistically enjoying her struggle from the dance gutter. Tess throws to Claudia, who introduces Vincent and Flavia doing an Argentine Tango. Couldn't Tess have just introduced them herself? Anyway, Vincent and Flavia do an Argentine Tango, and it is excellent and mad. There's a limit to how much I can say about the pro routines after this many years.

Claudia's with the bottom two couples and asked what went wrong, and a very gracious Rory says that he just didn't dance well enough. He adds that Erin doesn't deserve to be in the bottom two right now because she's "such an inspiration" and a "real ambassador for dance". Erin tells him that he's very sweet. Rory says it's been a real privilege to work with all the dancers and he'd miss it all like a limb. Who knew he was such a sweetheart? Nancy is asked if she's surprised to be here again, and she says she's disappointed because she knew she could do better, and she felt they did the dance fantastically in rehearsal, but the live show is unpredictable. After the mess-up on It Takes Two earlier this week, she clarifies that it's lovely to see Claudia, but she's unhappy to be here. Claudia asks Anton how scary he can be for Hallowe'en next week, but Anton thinks he and Nancy have been frightening enough already. He's hoping to be "un-scary, just for a change."

Montage of potential loserdom: Nancy has found it a great experience of life, far more than just dancing, and she wants to promise us that it's worth keeping her in the competition. Rory has found it an amazing experience, and he'd love to stay in because you never know what's coming next. He's loved everything about it, and it's been a wonderful experience.

The bottom two couples take their places on the floor, and Tess has the results. The couple leaving tonight is...Rory and Erin. Aw.

Asked what his highlight of the series was, Rory says that shimmying next to John Prescott was a close second, but above all was his quickstep, and he thanks Erin for teaching it to him. Erin tells him he's been completely wonderful, and she wants him to hold his head high because he's done great. She tells him she'll miss him, and gives him a hug. That's it for this week, then - we'll be back again next week for Hallowe'en week, and we do hope you'll join us then.