Monday, 29 October 2012

Mediocre thing going

Top 12 Results: 28th October 2012

Call me slow if you like, but I've only just realised that the BBC One "dancing" ident that they generally play leading into Strictly still has Jared Murillo in it. That rather dates it, doesn't it? Poor Jared. I guess this means we can't take Erin's presence in the aforementioned ident as any sign of job security for her either.

Not having a pre-titles sequence always feels slightly jarring to me, but nonetheless we go straight into the titles, and from there into another group number courtesy of Pasha, Iveta, Artem, Karen, Vincent, Flavia, Robin and Kristina. The style is...masquerade ball of the undead? It's as good a guess as any. The accompaniment is Yaël Naïm's version of 'Toxic' as they delicately move around the floor, poised and rigid like the ballerina in a music box, and then the music switches into the Britney version that we're all more familiar with, and the group breaks into what I think is a paso doble, but frankly it's quite hard to tell. Thematically it's not a million miles away from this, but I would just like to stress that the choreography and indeed the staging is emphatically different, just so no one thinks I'm alleging infringement of anyone's intellectual copyright. Anyway, it's enjoyably creepy and far spookier than most of the individual dances were last night.

Tess and Claudia arrive - both dressed in black as befits the occasion, although Tess appears to be hiding Tiki Tong in her cleavage. Claudia informs us that there will be a "potentially shocking" Dread Dance-Off tonight which, given that they generally know the results by the time they start recording, suggests to me that there will be at least one candidate making an unexpectedly early visit to the DDD. D3. D-cubed. Whatever you want to call it. Tess tells us that the ever-youthful and understated Paloma Faith will be along later, but first we must head backstage with Claudia to see what really happened last night.

Surprisingly, a lot of it involved "sitting in the make-up chair for ages". Meanwhile, Claudia went trick or treating backstage, and those who selected trick were promptly given a cue card on which to fill in what score they wanted from Craig tonight, and handed a pen that gave them a mild electric shock. Lessons to be taken from this segment are that Robin and Louis are screamers, while Nicky appears to be very well-earthed. (Possibly due to the fact that he has three points of contact with the floor, if you know what I mean.) Also, Craig appears to have a lot of fillings, and struggles to talk with fake fangs in his mouth, while WerePasha growls at the camera. SO CUTE! I make no apologies for having all the feelings for TeenWolf Pasha - judge me all you want, because I do not care in the slightest. If the world doesn't understand our love, that just makes it purer. Or some sub-Twilight shit like that. Other points of interest: Victoria feels rather exposed in her dress for the group number, and Nicky is spreading rumours that Michael is a giant diva. [And vice versa.  That segment was a bit more good-natured than the equivalent ones you see on The X Factor though - Rad]

As far as the dances go, Dani and Vincent whoop with excitement about how well their routine went, while Richard announces that he performed his matador with the sort of aggression he normally reserves for the January sales, or when Kate Garraway starts messing with his autocue. Lisa and Robin are also mostly all about the post-performance yelling, while Ola apologises to Sid for not having been there this week. I know, how selfish of her to prioritise her mother's recovery from a heart attack over a light entertainment programme! Nicky yells "get in!" after another batch of promising feedback from the judges, and we get absolutely no reaction shots from Fern and Artem at all. In fact, I don't recall ever getting any "backstage" candids from them so far. Not that I'm suggesting any sort of conspiracy, it just seems odd. Denise and James are SO RELIEVED that things went well, while Michael and Natalie just scream in excitement over their brief stay at the top of the leaderboard. Similarly, Victoria and Brendan go in for a high-ten, and Kristina gives Colin a big hug, so pleased is she with his progress. Louis is pleased that "this zombie just got three 9s", and Kimberley and Pasha howl in glee. And those of you thinking that you'd like to see if Pasha could make you howl, form an orderly queue behind me please. Overall, Len loved it because he thought so many of them upped their game. Apart from Sid. And Denise. And Colin. And Dani. And Fern. And Lisa. And Richard. And Nicky. But, y'know, everyone apart from them.

Now for those of us who didn't look at this series' Wikipedia page on Sunday and who weren't following Louis Smith on Twitter (seriously, there were spoilers EVERYWHERE this weekend) [I got my spoiler by reading the Graun liveblog on Sunday night while I was out and forgetting they did the results and show all in one entry and that the top of the page would be the most recent update.  And I'm normally so good at avoiding the internet for these matters.  Oops - Rad], here's Tess with the first batch of results. Safely through to next week are: Louis and Flavia, Victoria and Brendan, Kimberley and Pasha, Lisa and Robin, and Michael and Natalie. Confirmed to be facing the Dread Dance-Off, however, are Sid and Ola. Neither of them looks especially surprised. Tess asks Bruno what Sid needs to do to save himself tonight, and Bruno says that he mustn't let the nerves get at him while he performs, and keep a close eye on attention to detail.

Then we go up to Claudia's Counselling Centre with the six safe couples, where Brendan is apple-bobbing in the cauldron. Michael thanks Natalie once again for coaxing a good performance out of him, and Victoria's thrilled to have been called safe in the first group for once. Louis says that everyone's had a stressful week, so it was nice for him to get those 9s as a payoff.

Time for our musical guest of the evening, a woman who used to get sawn in half every night as a magician's assistant. OH MY GOD IT'S THE LOVELY DEBBIE MCGEE! [That is EXACTLY what I thought too.  And the rest of the nation for that matter - Rad] Oh, hang on, it's Paloma Faith. Actually, I credit this show for the fact that I find Paloma Faith increasingly tolerable these days. I don't know if I'll ever buy one of her records, but I find her totally endearing. She's singing 'Never Tear Us Apart', and Seasonal Reductions Cosy Knits Festive Fashions Decorative Accessories Children's Partywear Quilted Coats & Jackets Personal Care Shavers & Dental --- hang on, I seem to have been temporarily possessed by the spirit of John Lewis there. How peculiar. Anyway, Paloma is wearing all the accessories in the world, and has brought her own dancers. I always feel that's a bit wasteful on this show, but nine-tenths of what makes Paloma Faith so enjoyable is her sense of spectacle, so I'm willing to overlook it on this occasion. [And she had Day of the Dead themed accessories too, bless her - Rad]

Once Paloma's finished her business, it's time for Len's Lens. Can't Paloma just do another song instead? Please? Let's skim through this as swiftly as ever: Craig, Darcey and Bruno all dancing like loons during Thriller; Len mouthing the words to 'Witch Doctor'; Lisa almost devouring Robin's crotch; Bruno doing a charleston while sitting down; Len basically claiming there is no technique in the charleston; Darcey pulling all sorts of transparently deliberate if-this-doesn't-get-me-on-Len's-Lens-nothing-will faces during Louis's tango; Craig thinking that Richard's face in the paso was fantastic even if the rest of his body wasn't quite up to the same standard; Bruno pulling Jim Halpert faces into the camera during Michael's quickstep; and of course a reprise of 'Gangnam Style'. Ahh, Len's Lens. Never a pleasure, always a chore.

And now we head back to Tess for the second half of the results. The remaining couples with a guaranteed spot in next week's show are Richard and Erin, Dani and Vincent, Denise and James, Nicky and Karen, and Fern and Artem - leaving Colin and Kristina in the Dread Dance-Off. Kristina, incidentally, has been hanging her head throughout both sets of results announcements, so I think she may have had an inkling this was coming. Tess asks Darcey of all people why Colin ended up in the Dread Dance-Off, and Darcey thinks that people expect more of him because he's an actor. Or because "stood in the background in a few James Bond films" isn't quite the sell this show thinks it is? Either/or, I suppose. Anyway, Darcey gives us our first "natural rhythm" of the series (drink!) and mentions "the nerves" again.

Up in Claudia's Counselling Centre, Artem is in the middle of throttling Fern. This must be some sort of experimental displacement therapy, I suppose. Claudia asks Fern if she's shocked. Fern is indeed, she thought she was about to be sent home to catch up on her ironing. She then kisses Artem's hand repeatedly. I love that Fern is embracing her role as viewer-proxy in this series in that regard. Nicky says he's been lucky in the previous weeks to get named in the first group, but being left to the end as there are fewer and fewer couples remaining is not nice. Richard's all "yeah, TELL ME ABOUT IT". Claudia asks who watches It Takes Two every night, and everyone shoots their hand eagerly up into the air, apart from Artem and Fern who both give off an "eh, if I have to..." vibe. Hee. Naturally from here we cut to a trailer with Zoe, which tries to make us think that It Takes Two is like The Only Way Is Essex and steals the catchphrase "miss it, miss out" from Live And Kicking.

Back in the studio, Claudia's with Sid and Ola, and Colin and Kristina. She asks Sid if he's going to take risks in the Dread Dance-Off just like Bruno wants, and Sid says that yes, he will, because he thinks he let Ola down the first time out. Ola insists that he didn't, and they make their way down to the dancefloor while Claudia turns to Colin and Kristina, who are officially the Shock in this week's Shocking Bottom Two, it seems. Even though they were only ninth out of twelve on the leaderboard, so probably not that much of a shock.

Sid and Ola return to reprise their cha cha cha, and despite Sid's amazing breakdancing skillz looking better the second time, he looks rather like he's checked out of the competition at this point. As a result, his performance is workmanlike, and not really dynamic enough to get him saved. Ola, on the other hand, is really working it. After that, Colin and Kristina head back to reprise their salsa, and it's a little livelier than first time out, but it does still have that section on the far side of the dance floor that Colin can't quite get right, and he fumbles it once again.

So, all things considered, it really could go either way, but Sid and Ola and Colin and Kristina take their marks as the judges decide who is going to get sent packing tonight. Craig wants to save the couple who were more dynamic and generally better: Colin and Kristina. Darcey thinks they both performed so much better than last time (drink!) and had no nerves (drink!), so it's really hard, but she votes to save Colin and Kristina. Bruno thinks both couples switched up a gear, but the strongest couple overall was Colin and Kristina - so with three votes in their favour, Colin and Kristina are safe and Sid and Ola are out. Tess asks Len for his (redundant, at this point) opinion, and Len says that he in fact did not agree - he would've saved Sid and Ola because Colin went wrong in the same part of that routine again, and he can't forgive huge mistakes. I'm sure it will be a huge consolation to Sid and Ola that Len would've voted to save them for...reasons that were nothing whatsoever to do with them. [I think Len's decided Kristina is his new nemesis in the absence of Aliona.  Although if the tabloid rumours about her whining that she isn't getting enough attention are true I can understand why.  Either way, I'm not sure she's much longer for this show - Rad]

Tess asks Sid if he's enjoyed his time on Strictly, and Sid says that Ola's a hard taskmaster, but he's had so much fun, and now he feels like he can go out comfortably and "have a little dance". Ola says Sid's been a fantastic partner, and it's too early for him to have gone out, and she's sorry. Aww.

So that's it - we say goodbye to Sid and Ola as they dance their final dance to 'It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)'. Next week, we'll back to back to normal on the Strictly front as we take a much-needed break from theme weeks, but this blog will be having a slight change of pace as the lovely Rad comes over to join us from sister blog The Bitch Factor. It'll be her first weekend on full Strictly duty, so be nice to her, or I'll send James and Denise round to banter at you until you lose the will to live. I'll be back in a fortnight - see you then!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The fright stuff

Top 12: 27th October 2012

Do not adjust your set. Unless you've just had digital switchover in your region, in which case you might have to. But what I mean is that we open this week's show with static and shots of the test card. (I feel they missed a trick by not photoshopping Daly into it and turning it into the Tess card, but I'm sure they had their reasons.) This is, of course, because it's Halloween week - yes, we've got two theme weeks in a row, and by the end of tonight's show I think we'll all agree that's best avoided in future. Too much enforced zaniness, too much "comedy" - just too much, generally. [Agreed.  Although I'm the only person in the world who quite likes Halloween week, nobody needs that straight off the back of stupid film week - Rad] Anyway, first we must revisit last week, in which we went all Hollywood: Nicky actually managed to dance a bit, Louis did TEH LIFTZ from Dirty Dancing and Richard's attempt at rebutchification involved playing Dolly Parton. Oh Erin. Meanwhile, Denise topped the leaderboard and Victoria had another wardrobe malfunction - or, quite possibly, the wardrobe had a Victoria malfunction, given that her problems generally seemed to be caused by not moving quickly enough. And we drawled goodbye to Jerry and Anton, because while Holly Valance taught us last year that not giving a shit can be incredibly entertaining, it usually helps if you do at least attempt to dance a bit. And then we move back to tonight, in which it's clear the comedy VTs will be out in full force and we'll be subjected to more ham than Nigella's larder at Christmas, because it's Strictly Halloween: LIVE!

Titles! Now with added skeletons and pumpkins at the end to remind us that it's that most wonderful time of the year. No, not Christmas, the other one. Naturally, we open with a spooky group dance to 'Thriller', because this show is nothing if not original. All the pros are made up to look undead (or in Anton's case, more undead than usual, etc etc) - worryingly, Zombie Karen Hauer is a dead ringer for Nancy Dell'Olio. Brendan is having far too much fun with the whole thing, and the celebrities get a chance to parade in as vampires halfway through. It's not a patch on last year's Addams Family theme, but it'll do. There's a bit where Anton faces off against Richard for...reasons, then everyone pairs up and it becomes a bit more obvious why they've let Lisa do lots of fast Latin routines and not very many ballroom ones so far. Then everyone does Thriller moves, obviously, and Kimberley looks a lot more comfortable here than she generally does during her own routines - I'm guessing because it's a bit closer to the sort of dancing she's used to. Oh, and at the end, it turns out that Craig is the lord of all the undead. Frankly I'm surprised the show just stops at that and doesn't make a "queen of the damned" joke.

After that, Bruce and Tess make their entrance. Daly Dresswatch: actually not too bad this week. She's wearing an olive-green gown cinched in at the waist with a black belt. I'm not crazy about the drapes of fabric over her shoulders, but the rest of it is acceptable. Typical that Halloween would be the one week of the year where Tess's outfit isn't actually scary. They go for the leg-kick again, so I'm guessing that the first-bumps have been exiled for good. Bruce's opening joke is lengthy and laboured and not worth the effort of transcribing, so let's all save ourselves the trauma and move right along, yes? Although I should probably acknowledge the reaction shot that shows us Tom Daley is in the audience supporting his Olympian pals. And yes, he's fully clothed. Perverts, the lot of you.

In fact, let's get on to meeting the stars of our show and the ridiculous things they've come as in honour of All Hallows' Eve (which is on Wednesday, but whatevs): Kimberley and Pasha (Little Red Riding Hood and an extra from MTV's reboot of Teen Wolf), Nicky and Karen (Elton John and Nancy Dell'Olio), Fern and Artem (the Wicked Queen from Snow White and the Huntsman and her gay son), Michael and Natalie (the Go Compare man and She-Ra), Lisa and Robin (Grotbags and the missing sixth member of One Direction), Louis and Flavia (Snoopy's butler and the bride of Captain Colgate), Dani and Vincent (Velma from Scooby Doo and Swedish pop sensation Robyn), Sid and Ola (I'm not even sure I can make their beige sequinned jumpsuits funny, they're just rather sad), Denise and James (Curly Sue and Mr Freeze from Batman and Robin), Richard and Erin (Lord of the Fireflies and Vampira), Victoria and Brendan (Amy Lee and a silver service waiter), and finally Colin and Kristina (Vampire Batman and Gretchen Weiners at Halloween). Oh, it's going to be a long night, isn't it?

Bruce tells us that tonight we'll be seeing every form of dance, except "Gangnam Style" - at which point the music plays, and everyone does Gangnam Style, so that statement was FACTUALLY INACCURATE. Tess is surprisingly good at that dance, while Darcey does it like she's riding an imaginary pony - which, to be fair, she probably is most of the time anyway. Oppa Fulham style! Bruce warns us that two more couples will be facing the "Deadly Disgusting Dance-Off", which he calls "a fate worse than death". I've been saying that for weeks. Meanwhile, up in the commentary booth, Karen Hardy is joined by Larry Lamb, and in honour of the amazing Friday panel from It Takes Two this week, she's done herself up as Paloma Faith. Now we just need Claudia to pop in dressed as Mel Giedroyc and we've got the full set!

Up first are Dani and Vincent. She was worried about her performance last week, but is pleased that it seemed to go well. She even loved that Len called her a munchkin, for the 46th week on the trot. We're reminded that Betty/Toto bit Vincent last week, and then Vincent tells us that he's finding himself dancing with another dog. This is not, as you might fear, a sign that things have severely soured in his working relationship with Dani, but rather an allusion to the fact that this week's dance has a Scooby Doo theme to it. We're officially up and running with the comedy VTs, as Dani and Vincent interview nervously that it feels like somebody's watching them as they rehearse and doing wacky things like tying their shoelaces together. Dani asks "Vince" if he did that, and I get distracted wondering if this is the first time one of Vincent's partners has referred to him as "Vince". Then they hop into the Mystery Machine and go to Thorpe Park (other amusement parks are available) where Dani finds herself sat next to the grisly ghoul. It chases them around the park until they escape, and their VT ends.

And if you're worried by the lack of resolution to that "being chased by a ghoul" storyline...well, first of all, you should possibly take up some sort of hobby. And second of all, don't worry because the ghoul is a key component of their dance! Well, he's standing up on the balcony looking vaguely menacing throughout, anyway. Dani and Vincent are dancing the cha-cha-cha to the theme from Scooby Doo, of course, and I'm not sure who had the bright idea to dress Vincent up as Shaggy but put him in a bright blond wig, because that's completely the wrong colour and it makes him look more like Boris Johnson. As far as the dancing goes, it's not bad - Dani needs to be a little bit more precise in her arms, but the leg movements are good, and Vincent's added a few interesting flourishes to the standard choreography to stop it from getting too dull. Dani's still a little unstable in her spins, as well - I think she still hasn't quite mastered spotting yet. At the end, they unmask the ghoul, and - shriek! - it's Anton, who announces down the camera that he would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids. This whole ending-the-first-dance-with-a-one-liner thing needs to stop. Now.

Bruce manages a moderately funny joke where he apologises for saying Craig had no heart last week - after all, they hope he does have one, otherwise they won't know where to put the stake. Well, I laughed. Len likens the dance to a sausage sandwich - tasty, satisfying and sets you up for the day ahead, while also leaving you feeling rather guilty that you didn't opt for something that's better for you. Bruno (who's wearing a jacket that has a sequinned hand on his shoulder - oh, Bruno) says that he can't stop looking at Vincent, who looks like Denise Welch. He advises Dani to remember to extend her lines, but her timing and placement is good. Craig thought it was clean with fantastic spins, but he agrees with Bruno that Dani must extend her lines and accentuate her finishes. Darcey cuts him off with "I'm sorry, no." Rude. She tells Dani that if she can do something that fast with that many moves, then that's amazing. Well, I'm glad Darcey interrupted Craig with something important and not just some meaningless inanity.  She then turns to Craig and says "you're wrong". Awfully sassy for someone who's only been here four weeks and whose main feedback for every dance is "so much better than last week", isn't she? [Fuck off Darcey.  She should be grateful The X Factor is disappearing up its own arse this year or there would be much more angry grumbling about her, I'm sure.  I can't believe Alesha got so much stick and Darcey's received comparatively little so far.  She is abysmal - Rad]

They run up to the Tess Circle, where Tess basically admits that everyone was openly laughing at that routine. Vincent bemoans his terrible wig and says that "I look like the monster". Poor Vincent. Tess patronisingly calls him "very special", then asks Dani why she always looks so scared while the judges give their comments. Dani says that it's just quite a scary experience, especially at Halloween when all those malevolent spirits will probably make them all even meaner. Or in Bruno's case, even more incomprehensible. Scores: Craig 6, Darcey 6, Len 8, Bruno 7 for a total of 27.  Interesting scores there, particularly Len's. It wasn't bad, but I'm not really sure it was worth an 8.

Second to take to the stage tonight are Richard and Erin "Boagyman" Boag. I'm sure she's thrilled with that new nickname. Bruce makes a joke about Richard building a campfire wherein the punchline is LOLGAY, as you might expect. Last week Richard fared better with his quickstep, so he's feeling good this week. That is, until he discovers that Erin has chosen 'O Fortuna' for their paso doble, because it's not exactly "a floorfiller". Tell that to Simon Cowell, it's worked out well for him. Well, until this series, anyway. I do hope this was a deliberate attempt to bait The X Factor: "look, we've stolen your viewers and now we're stealing your opening music as well. BAHAHAHAHA!" Richard's comedy VT is about hearing that music everywhere he goes. That's pretty much it.

As you can imagine, with that music and Erin's general sense of theatricality, this paso doble is not subtle. There are flames everywhere - in the studio, on the screens, on their outfits. And if you're expecting me to make a "Richard's flaming" joke, shame on you. I'd never stoop that low. Well, probably not. Richard does some fairly decent caping, and then they start dancing. I think the music's hampering him a little bit - it's quite hard to pick up the paso rhythm from it, so his timing's a little bit off in places. It needs a bit more attack as well, but his frame is good, and the paso face is acceptable. He actually makes for quite an imposing matador, all things considered, though I'm not sure about the drawn-on stubble. They could at least have continued the flames motif and given him Seneca Crane's stubble from The Hunger Games.

They finish, and I surely can't be the only person expecting Peter Dickson to bellow "IT'S TIME! TO FACE! THE MUSIC!", can I? It would've been so amazing if the Halloween theme for their paso doble had been The X Factor. They could've captured the true horror of this year's show by dressing Richard up as Gary and Erin as Tulisa. Bruce makes a joke about the flames only "half-cooking my sausage" (and I hope Monkseal won't mind if I steal his "poor Wilnelia" gag here) and he tells Richard that if he's in the dance-off, "you can finish it off for me". I can't even tell if that was meant to be a LOLGAY or not. I rather hope not. Bruno tells Richard he was like Gary Numan in a bad temper - but while the drama was good, the lines, the posture and the timing weren't refined enough. Craig liked the cape work and the turn out, but thinks it needs to be a lot more earthed, and he thinks Richard shouldn't have attempted the jeté en tournant because pretty much nothing about it was right. Overall, he's disappointed. Darcey says the character was "the most spooky matador I've ever seen", and Richard obviously worked hard, but she needs more tilt in the hips, and advises Richard to clench his glutes. Richard quips that he's always doing that anyway. Len liked it because it was BUTCH and says that he used to practise the clenching by putting a threepenny bit up his bum - at least until that unfortunate incident that led to a long explanation which the A&E doctor didn't entirely believe. But he loved that Richard CUMAHHTANGIVITSUM.

They head up to the Tess Circle, where Erin says that their aim was for a mince-free paso doble. A Linda McCartney paso, if you will. Tess asks Richard how he embraced his dominant side, and Richard says he "called Sinitta". Tess explains the 'So Macho' reference for the younger/slower members of the audience, and then tells him the crowd were on their feet. "Were they getting up to leave?" asks Richard. Scores: Craig 5, Darcey 5, Len 7, Bruno 5 for a total of 22. It's not their best score, but Erin's willing to accept it. Richard starts yelling in his butchest matador voice.

Next are Lisa and Robin "Wicked" Windsor. I hope we get to name all the pros after West End shows. I'm thinking Vincent "Mamma Mia" Simone, James "A Chorus of Disapproval" Jordan and Anton "Les Miserables" Du Beke. Anyway, here they be in training: Lisa can't believe how well things have been going so far, even though she didn't have enough jump in her jive, and her weight is falling off. She's vowing to improve on her footwork for Len. This week, they're doing a charleston to 'Witch Doctor' [A song which I never needed to hear again in my life, so thanks, Robin.  You can go off a person you know - Rad], so Robin decides to take her to visit Hogwarts at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London. This doesn't feel so much like a comedy VT as it is blatant product placement, to be honest.

So their charleston casts Lisa as a witchcraft teacher and Robin as her geeky student. The problem with Lisa at present is that she's turning into a case of diminishing returns: this is the third time she's basically done a school disco party dance, and each time it's been slightly less good than the previous one. Her legwork is pretty sloppy, and she's off-time a few times. I think Robin might have got himself into his familiar trap of getting carried away with his choreography and working in too much stuff that his partner can't really do. Lisa's giving it a good go, but there are some parts where her arms and legs just aren't moving sharply enough. [There are a few diminishing returns dancers this year - I'd throw Colin and Sid into that mix too - but I think it's more noticeable because Lisa was on top in the first week, because Sid and Colin's first week performances seemed a bit flukey anyway, and because of Robin's choreography - Rad]

Bruce belatedly wonders the fabulous singers [Yes, just perfect after that chipmunk-voiced HORROR they inflicted on us with Witch Doctor - Rad], Dave Arch and his wonderful orchestra (with Dave Arch dressed as Dracula), and Craig opens for the judges, saying it was acted well but danced poorly. There was no cross, and the swivel on Lisa's left foot wasn't happening - she was just doing step-touch-step-back. Darcey opens "again, no", and she really needs to learn how to disagree with the others without sounding quite so snotty about it. The reason for her disagreement with Craig? It was "one of the fastest charlestons I've ever seen!" So essentially Darcey likes anything as long as it's fast. Maybe she'd fit in better on Top Gear. I can only assume she hasn't seen many charlestons either, because I'd say Kara's was faster, and that's just off the top of my head. Besides, Robin might have been doing a fast charleston, but it doesn't necessarily follow that Lisa was. She thinks Lisa pulled it off, but "on some of the syllables, they're missing a bit". Whatever that means. Len thinks it had "plenty of ting-tang-wallawallabingbang" and it was fun and fast and energetic. He thinks it was a "sort of a parody of a charleston". I think he meant that as a compliment. Bruno thinks Lisa was "going at it like a spinning banshee" and doing facial aerobics - he gets up to dance, swatting at the hand-brooch on his shoulder and knocking it off in the process. He thinks the footwork could've been cleaner and sharper, but it was enjoyable to watch.

Up in the Tess Circle, Robin says he doesn't think they can get any faster. Well, let's hope not. He says he's going to take responsibility for the lack of swivel, because he put rubber soles on Lisa's shoes to stop her slipping over. Next week, they've got the tango, so Tess asks if they can do serious. They promise that they can. Scores: Craig 6, Darcey 6, Len 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 26. So that's the second time Darcey's disagreed with Craig tonight and yet they've both ended up giving exactly the same score. It's hard to say who's at fault: probably both of them, to be honest.

Who's next? Sid and Ola, that's who. Bruce announces that there's been "a bit of drama" this week, because Ola had to fly back to Poland so Iveta stood in for her during rehearsals. "A bit of drama" seems like a rather callous way to refer to Ola's mother recovering from a heart attack. Perhaps if they didn't have to fit in a comedy VT for everyone this week, they might have been able to address that a tad more sensitively. Sid says that he thought he did well last week, so he was surprised to get a grilling from the judges. However, he vows to pick himself up and carry on. Their VT works along the same themes as Dani and Vincent's, in the idea of the training room being haunted. Iveta's acting is about as good as Pasha's, but when it turns out they've been locked in and have to spend the night in the training room, man can Iveta assemble a tent in style. They should hire her next year for that alone. And obviously they should keep Pasha around, because he also helps me to pitch a te-- [that's QUITE enough of that. - Ed] Anyway, the punchline of sorts is that...Ola turns up and asks why they're not training? Yeah, that one really didn't work.

They're dancing a cha-cha-cha to 'Ghostbusters', and it opens with Sid doing a bit of breakdancing. Despite Sid having trained with Iveta for most of the week, he's dancing with Ola for the show tonight, which I feel can't really have been a good thing for him. I don't know whose decision it was to have Ola back for the main show, whether it was hers or the producers, but I suspect it might have been in Sid's best interests just to let Iveta be Rent-A-Pro for the whole week. Also, Sid's dancing holding a prop again, which really ought to have been vetoed by someone after last week's fiasco. It's all a bit of a mess, to be honest - Sid's rarely in time with Ola, the hip movement is a bit loose and he just looks quite unsure of what he's doing a lot of the time. The New Yorker section is good, I suppose. And there are some decent cha cha walks in there. More than anything, it makes me feel a bit sorry for Sid - I suspect he could probably have pulled off that routine much better without being passed around quite so much. [I wondered if the  producers just really, really wanted rid of him.  It was a bit of a bussing all in all - Rad]

Darcey thinks it's fabulous to see more dance content from Sid, and tells him not to worry about going wrong, because she doesn't want to see all that concentration on his face. She wants him to come back with attitude in the Latin next week. Len tells Sid he's got the perfect partner: "Ola-ween". I think Ola's "wut" face sums that up better than I ever could. Len tells Sid that it's all too safe, and he needs to go for it more and take risks - because Sid's so careful and fearful of going wrong, he...goes wrong. Bruno agrees - Sid dances like he's "smothered in ectoplasm" (that joke's too obvious, isn't it?) and he needs to believe in himself. Craig calls it a "Halloween nightmare". "Well, it was very apt, isn't it?" says Sid, and when Craig offers no further comment, he finishes with a sarcastically sunny "THANKS CRAIG!" Heh.

They're joined by Iveta up in the Tess Circle, and both Sid and Ola sweetly thank her for stepping in. Sid says it's been like a "Ola-day" without Ola. Oh, the terrible Ola puns still get worse. And despite all the puns revolving around the correct pronunciation of Ola's name, Tess still calls her "oh-la" twice. It just goes through one ear and out the other with her, doesn't it? [Bruce too.  The pair of them should be ashamed - unless it's some kind of weird deliberate burn on Ola - Rad] Scores are in: Craig 2, Darcey 5, Len 5, Bruno 5 for a total of 17 - the same as last week. "Who you gonna call?" asks Tess. Nobody responds, and it is delicious. I suppose nobody listening to Tess is appropriate payback for her never listening to anyone else.

We go back to Bruce, who hiccups mid-intro. It's funny, because hiccups are always funny. Our next couple are Nicky and Karen. He thinks last week went very well, and it was his first week when he could stand in front of the judges and smile, and now his competition has actually started. Their comedy VT involves Nicky taking her to see "his house". It's a load of ruins. Karen hides in a corner and asks if they can go. She then runs out. That's pretty much the second VT in a row that forgot to have any sort of punchline.

They're dancing a tango to 'Weird Science' - apparently the strange white coat and glasses on Nicky are meant to make him a "mad scientist". [Looked more like David Byrne and Max Headroom had a baby to me - Rad] I'm still not really seeing it, but okay. Encouragingly, his dancing is actually pretty decent this week - there's a good form to his frame and he's got the staccato nature of the tango down quite well. It's still a little stilted in places, and he and Karen still aren't entirely working smoothly as a couple, but he's definitely getting better.

The routine ends, and they giggle because Nicky's realised he's still wearing the glasses that he was supposed to have removed. He's standing side-on to the camera once again, which means that Little Nicky is on the loose as well. Seriously, that thing is huge. That everyone manages to get through the next section without addressing it clearly makes it the hung-like-an-elephant in the room. (I'm so sorry.) Len thinks there was more good than bad - he could've had a tighter hold and the footwork was a little stompy, but it was sharp and crisp. Bruno thinks he went at it "like a rooster with a booster", and he's glad that Nicky's finding his focus - but he must remember the style when he's giving it his all. Craig tells Nicky that he needs to sort his posture out, and he's kicking his feet up too much, but he really liked the routine. Finally, Darcey found it entertaining all round, but he lifted the knees too much so it looked like he was marching.

Up in the Tess Circle, Tess opines that Nicky dances better in character, and he agrees that's probably true. They've got a rumba next week if they're still around, which sounds like it'll probably be disastrous. Scores: Craig 6, Darcey 6, Len 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 26. That's actually lower than the score for his quickstep last week, even though this dance was a lot better. I'm not sure I understand what the judges are up to tonight. Nicky's just happy to have stayed out of the teens. Hey, just like-- [POOR TASTE JOKE REDACTED].

Back on the dance floor, Bruce is aghast that Len delivered his score perfectly straight, rather than giving it the usual "sev-unnnn!" Len says that he thought he'd give it a rest, just this once. That's more than I ever hoped for, so I'll take it. Next are Fern and Artem. Last week's Fern's charleston was a little sluggish, but she felt some warmth from the audience, so that's all right. This week they've got an American smooth to 'Killer Queen'. As per the comedy VT rules, Artem has a potion for her to drink - though by the indifferently-CGIed flames over the "goblet", I think it might be a Flaming Moe. Mind you, I suppose you can never have too many flaming moes on this show. Fern drinks it (without blowing it out - how dangerous) and it turns her into the Killer Queen, by which I mean it puts her in a dodgy crown and robe. And by "killer", I mean "puts Artem in lots of dodgy outfits", as that seems to be the sum total of her powers as she variously turns him into an elf, a bunny and a pumpkin. Artem's acting face throughout this is positively joyous to behold.

There's quite a lot of faffing at the start as Fern poses on her throne and admires herself in her hand mirror, but that's to be expected with Fern at this point, I suppose. Once they get going, it's more of what we've come to expect from Fern - most of the moves are right, but danced with little panache. The soundtrack doesn't really help this week - her dancing doesn't have enough attack in it for a killer queen, though as an American smooth in its own right it's decent, if frustratingly slow at times.

Bruno tells Fern it was "too beige" for him, and that she needs to channel Craig in panto to truly capture that sense of a killer queen. Darcey liked it because it was smooth, and also American. THANKS DARCEY! Len says that's neat and precise - Fern's got the how, but not the wow. He tells Artem that he needs to push Fern harder, at which an alarmed Fern begs "no more, please!" Len's not to be moved, however, and tells Fern he wants more out of her. Desperately, Fern tells Len that there was something in there just for him - a heel turn. "I saw that," says Len, "and I would've loved your feet to have been together." Denied! Poor Fern.

Fern and Artem carry their magnificent cleavages up to the Tess Circle, as Fern gets all wrapped up in her wrap. The prop cauldron is smoking in their faces, and Artem tries to waft it away with little success. Fern says that she was trying to channel Artem in her dance, since he's the Terminator. The Arteminator, if you will. (Oh, please yourselves.) Tess calls Fern "quite simply the loveliest woman I know." And Tess knows Holly Willoughby, so THINK ON THAT. Fern says it took a long time to get the killer queen into her head, but she's just loving the whole experience, and she loves Artem like he is right now - apparently he was meant to have a shirt on, but then the wardrobe department realised that would just be silly. Fern starts feeling Artem up, and then ducks out of the way as Kara embraces the Halloween theme by going full Carrie and TK-ing bread rolls at Fern all the way from her living room. Scores are in: Craig 4, Darcey 5, Len 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 21.

Back to Bruce, who does a bit of vaudeville-style business with a prop arm, and then it's time for Denise and James. Obviously last week went very well for them, and they were thrilled to get four eights and be top of the leaderboard. This week they're doing a cha cha cha as circus freaks, so they go to meet some professional circus types who are quite good at hanging from hoops and doing acrobatics. (Hello, Professional Circus Guy. I'm just saying.) It's time for Denise and James to have their go, and James struggles even to get into the ring in the first place. (Fnar.) Denise decides just to leave him up there, BANTER BANTER BANTER.

They're dancing to 'Superfreak', and if you got all the way through this without shouting "can't touch this!" (or indeed "I didn't do it"), then you're a better person than I am. Apparently their idea of "freaks" is pretty much just "a higher than average level of eye make-up", [I thought James had come as Mark Foster - Rad] which is rather disappointing - although my disappointment is soon eased by Denise tripping over as she exits the cage she starts off in. Ha! She begins the routine by sitting on a chair (OMG RINGER BITCH SHE DID THIS ON THE WEST END STAGE!!!!!!!!1111) and despite the overt sexuality of the routine (there are a LOT of pelvic thrusts in it), it's...kind of dull to be honest. It's as well-danced as anything else Denise has done, but the choregraphy isn't all that exciting, and the slow tempo of the song just makes it all feel a little bit too leisurely. [Stupid James.  He can't even get it right with a BLOODY RINGER - Rad]

Craig starts by saying that he thought the leg-to-hip action was a bit jolty, but the timing, energy and spins were superb. Len says that Denise never disappoints, but if she's going to wear a short skirt, she's got to have fabulous leg action, and it wasn't quite there. Bruno thinks the most theatrical parts were done well, but Denise needs to work on the basics a little bit. Bruce rubs salt into the wound by saying "you're not used to criticism you two, are you?" Denise blusters that it's good, because she can learn.

Up in the Tess Circle, they remind us that Denise Gets Very Nervous Every Week. Tess asks if they might make it a third week at the top of the leaderboard, and Denise is all "I don't know, so much pressure." James says she's good - but she still tripped over getting out of the cage. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 7, Len 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 28, the highest of the night so far. James continues to harangue Denise for falling out of the cage.

Next up are Michael and Natalie. Bruce deploys a variant on the "taking my wife to the West Indies"/"Jamaica?" joke that tries to make the joke's unfunniness into a punchline in its own right. It doesn't really work, but at least they tried. Last week they were in the Dread Dance-Off and just about managed to stay in the competition. Michael's VT is about being haunted by Craig's comments, and it's as funny as it sounds, though much like Michael's dancing, he commits more to it than it perhaps deserves and it sort of works through sheer force of will.

Now, most of tonight's routines have been a little underwhelming, but I think most of us would agree that if there's one person on whom you can rely to choreograph something amazing, it's Natalie Lowe. And sure enough, her circus-themed quickstep to 'That Old Black Magic' starts off with her as a showgirl doing a quick change inside a shimmering tube (that looks like a Like Like from the Legend of Zelda games) and emerging with a bright pink cape-skirt on, and then taking Michael onto the dancefloor for...a really good, sprightly quickstep with few gimmicks. Natalie has very sensibly reserved the crowdpleasing moments exclusively for the start and finish, so that the dance itself runs entirely uninterrupted, meaning that Michael doesn't have to worry so much about his concentration being broken, and as a result delivers a genuinely impressive quickstep. Natalie is a very, very clever woman and I'm only just starting to realise how much this show needs her. [Agreed.  Natalie4eva - Rad]

When the routine's over, they're both absolutely giddy because they both know they nailed it, and it's adorable. There's a bit of business about Michael learning a new magic trick (he shouts "abracadabra!" and the judges produce their 10 paddles, basically), and then we get on to the real commentary: Darcey thinks ballroom is Michael's thing, and his top line was beautiful throughout, and his feet were precise with no messy transitions. Len's very glad that they saved Michael in the Dread Dance-Off last week, because it means they got to see this routine in all its glory - and that he knows Michael's wanted a seven from him since week one, and this could be his night. Bruno thinks it was more than magical - "it was a miracle!" He thinks that in hold Michael was incredible. Craig says nothing, but just slow-claps. A good slow-clap, I think. I hope.

They scarper to the Tess Circle, where they get a rapturous reception. Tess asks Michael if the Dread Dance-Off was the push he needed. He says that he's worked hard every week, but this week they've basically lived, breathed and slept dance. He and Natalie do a bit of "you're the best, no you are, no you are" for a bit, and normally that'd be a bit sickening, but you know what? This week, they've totally earned the right to do that. Michael says that Natalie "knows exactly the way I like to be taught", and everyone giggles. Scores are in: Craig 8, Darcey 8, Len ("sorry, Michael, no 7 tonight") 8, Bruno 7 for a total of 31. Bruno gets a few boos for that, but Natalie and Michael are not caring because they're thrilled either way. Also, Michael Vaughan is now ahead of Denise Van Outen on the leaderboard. Let me repeat that: Michael Vaughan is now ahead of Denise Van Outen on the leaderboard. Amazing.

Up next, Victoria and Brendan. In her VT, she eyerolls herself for getting tangled up in her dress repeatedly during last week's rumba, and the editors treat us to a bit of footage with the sound from Victoria's mic included. It's quite special, let me tell you. Still, she's philosophical: "Rome wasn't built in a day," she says. More like velodrome wasn't built in a day, amirite? (Wow, tough crowd.) Brendan decides to use Victoria's competitive spirit by getting her to take part in the Halloween Games, narrated by Colin Jackson, with events like the eyeball-and-spoon race (won by Brendan) and apple-bobbing (Victoria disqualified for dunking Brendan).

They're dancing a tango to 'White Wedding', and Victoria's getting into the role of zombie bride quite well. I'm beginning to think we've entered into some sort of bizarro-Strictly tonight, because we've just had Michael Vaughan breaking the 30-threshold, and now Victoria Pendleton is doing a very competent tango. Her frame's very much improved, her footwork is much sharper, she's getting her spins right - again, it's not perfect, but it's a vast improvement on all her other dances to date. Much like the previous routine, Brendan's thrilled when they finish because he knows she finally delivered on all that potential he kept insisting was in there. [It  helped that her dress didn't skim the floor either so there was less chance of a malfunction.  I really liked that - Rad]

Len tells Victoria that he had faith in Victoria, and she's got to have faith in herself - this was a proper tango with no "larking about" at the start - there was a little moment where it went wrong, but he doesn't care because the overall feeling of it was good. Bruno loved the gothic melodrama, and congratulates Victoria on getting her spins right. Craig points out that she lost a bit of posture, and her hand needs to be flatter to the floor, but he really thought the routine was brilliant. Darcey thinks the musicality was brilliant, and Victoria was "the true tango woman of the night". Hang on, did Darcey just call her a tango prostitute?

Up in the Tess Circle, Brendan hangs back Artem-style to give Victoria a round of applause, and Tess asks Victoria if she's starting to have fun. Victoria says it's still nerve-wracking, but she's loving it and wants to stay in. We go straight to the scores: Craig 7, Darcey 8, Len 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 31. Hilariously, this means Michael and Victoria are now in joint first-place on the leaderboard. Who saw that one coming?

Three couples remain, so who's next? Why, it's Colin and Kristina. Last week went pretty well with his Argentine tango and those elaborate lifts, and gave them their best score to date. This week, thankfully, he's not gallivanting off to Canada again, so he has plenty of time to practise his wizard-themed salsa to 'Superstition'. His comedy VT is about having avoided bad omens all week, and then ended up in Training Room 13. If they'd left it at that, it would've worked, but for some reason somebody decided to add a blood-effect to the sign on the door after they go in - like, whose blood is that supposed to be?

Colin starts by stroking his pussy - no really, he's got a prop cat, which then gets "turned into" Kristina using some visual effects that would've looked passé in the 80s. He's perhaps a bit more tentative this week, but his hips have good rhythm. It's a shame the routine doesn't showcase him a bit more - it's Kristina front-and-centre a bit too much for my liking.

Craig thinks the footwork was a little bit haphazard, and he was nervous about the lifts because they looked messy. It was flat-footed, but Colin's disco groove was good to watch. Darcey liked the long arms, and was disappointed that it wasn't dirty, but at least it was saucy. Len thought the rhythmic tick to it was lovely, but there was a very big, noticeable mistake - and apparently we can't just overlook it on the occasion.

Up in the Tess Circle, they pretend that there was no big incident, and Colin says that he very much enjoys doing the "disco thing" (ugh, disco Latin - rarely a good idea). Tess says "Kristine's pushing you hard, isn't she?" and Colin very pointedly says "Kristina works as hard as anyone I've ever met", so he just tries to live up to that. Scores: Craig 5, Darcey 7, Len 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 24. They're still struggling to break out of that mid-20s area.

Our penultimate couple for the evening are Louis and Flavia. Last week: TEH LIFTZ. (I love the sound editors for switching out of '(I've Had) The Time Of My Life' and into 'The Time/Dirty Bit' as soon as they can get away with it. DIRTY BIT! This week, they've got a tango to 'Disturbia' by Rihanna, which sounds like it should be AMAZING so let's skip straight past the comedy VT and go right to it.

And it is indeed amazing: Louis does some very good zombie moves as he gets into position, and then takes hold for a very impressive tango indeed. So much so that beyond the footwork being a little skippy in places, there's not a lot I can find wrong with it. The characterisation is great, the posture looks solid, movement around the floor is very impressive - dance of the night, without question.

Bruce is impressed with Louis's acting, and heads straight to Craig, who calls it "ineffable" (which, oddly enough, is the exact opposite of the response most people on my Twitter feed seem to have to Louis, but perhaps I'm just misunderstanding that word for comic effect) and says he loved it - but Louis needs to stop having his thumb sticking up on Flavia's back. Darcey thinks it was spookily good - it has a wonderful beginning, a great end, and an even more fabulous middle. She warns him to watch his kicks, because his leg must not go higher than the woman's. This surely spells disaster for Colin, whose leg is higher than Kristina even when it's resting. Len says he knows the clocks go back tonight, but he wishes they could go back right now so he could watch that again. Bruno loved the seamless transitions from character to dance, and he thinks it was the first killer tango of the season. Except Sid and Ola's, which was killer for slightly different reasons.

We head into the Tess Circle, where Tess says that even Louis's eyes are scary (he's wearing creepy contact lenses), and he apologises. Tess asks how it feels to have smashed it two weeks in a row, and he says he was nervous, but feels they did really well. Is he finding his inner actor now, Tess wonders? Louis says he's still struggling with the romantic stuff, but this was the sort of role he could get his teeth into. Tess brings up Louis's kick being higher than Flavia's, and Flavia says that they've been working on matching it, while Louis talks over her, saying that they've been working on her flexibility too. Heh. Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 35.

Our final couple of the night is Kimberley and Pasha. Kimberley loved her Hollywood glamour last week, and Pasha was pleased that Len liked their dance. This week, they're dancing a paso to 'Hungry Like The Wolf', with Pasha as the wolf, but Kimberley thinks he's more of a puppy dog. This segues into a VT in which Pasha tries to scare Kimberley with smoke and rats and masks to no avail. Of course Kimberley wouldn't be scared of rats - did nobody see the contestants who didn't make the cut on Popstars: The Rivals? If she can survive Chloe Staines and Javine, she has nothing to fear from rats. Of course, Pasha then produces a 1 paddle, and Kimberley screams. Lolz.

So, yes, Kimberley is Red Riding Hood and Pasha is the (Teen) Wolf. I'd say 'Hungry Like The Wolf' isn't the best music choice in the world for a paso doble, but Pasha's done a great job of tailoring the choreography to the musical flourishes of the song, and Kimberley's paso shaping is up there with some of the best I've seen on this show. It's a shame that poor blocking leads to part of the routine being obscured by a camera, but on the whole, this is a good performance. Not enough to topple Louis, but very impressive.

Darcey liked the intensity in Kimberley's eyes which sold the whole routine, but she also liked Kimberley's rond de jambe and the general attack of the whole piece. Len says it was "very, very competent", but he would've liked a tad more aggression here and there, saying it looked like she was "popping off to Sainsbury's" early on - but as she got into it, there was lovely shaping. Bruno thought it was a bit Twilight-esque, and loves her lines and the extension of her spine. Craig agrees - it was fiery and punchy with fantastic shaping.

Tess greets "Sexy Red Riding Hood" and says that she's afraid of "the Big Bad Wolf that is Pasha." Kimberley giggles, "I'm not." Heh. Poor Pasha. Too cute to be properly scary - it must be awful for him. Tess asks Kimberley if she's found her Strictly stride, and Kimberley says that she's working really hard and putting in lots of hours, and things are starting to sink in, but she's really enjoying it. Off. Kimberley's really not good at these light-hearted banter sessions, and I worry that may cost her further down the line. I wouldn't be surprised if she's the first of the early frontrunners to hit the Dread Dance-Off, to be honest. Tess asks if she's used to being sexy because of being in Girls Aloud, and Kimberley giggles that she wasn't trying to be sexy, she was just trying to tell the story of the song. Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 8, Len 7, Bruno 8 for a total of 31 - Kimberley's highest score so far, and putting her right alongside Michael and Victoria. Pasha glowers down the camera. So adorable! *smooshes his cheeks*

So, that very unanticipated leaderboard, then:
1st: Louis & Flavia (35)
2nd: Michael & Natalie (31)
2nd: Victoria & Brendan (31)
2nd: Kimberley & Pasha (31)
5th: Denise & James (28)
6th: Dani & Vincent (27)
7th: Lisa & Robin (26)
7th: Nicky & Karen (26)
9th: Colin & Kristina (24)
10th: Richard & Erin (22)
11th: Fern & Artem (21)
12th: Sid & Ola (17)

Truly, such madness as this can only be the work of the darkest witchcraft - but then that's the judges for you. Join me tomorrow as two more couples face the Dread Dance-Off and one more celebrity is left for dead. Er, undead. Oh, something Halloweeny, anyway.

Friday, 26 October 2012

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

- Betty the dog from Dani's post-dance moment on Saturday's show used to be in EastEnders as Pauline's dog. Expect a lick-and-tell in the Daily Express any day now.
- Anton thinks the judges' scoring is inconsistent. I agree, but I don't think Jerry was particularly hard done by in the process.
- Jerry wants Kimberley to win.
- Victoria reckons that "sometimes [Jerry] says the nicest, most sincere things". A shame none of those were caught on camera, but there you go.
- Craig has had his fair share of costume dramas whilst in drag for panto. Santino wasn't impressed, but Michelle Visage thought he was FIEEEEERCE all the same.
- If Michael were in charge of cricket whites, he would make them all glittery like the ones he wore for his cha cha cha. He doesn't think there would be many objections to this.
- Copying is a no-no in choreography. Thanks Karen!
- You need to have a saggy bottom for the jive. That's good news for me.
- Despite what happened on Saturday, this show is still not quite ready to let go of the fact that Colin was in some James Bond movies.
- Julien McDonald is a regular fixture on this show now. Let's hope he continues grabbing everyone's tits like he does on BintModel.
- Pasha's inflection on the word "journey" is adorable. It's like he was bred in a lab specifically for the purposes of reality TV, isn't it?
- Cheryl Cole used to do ballroom as a child. DIRTY RINGER, etc.
- Dani appears to buy vests from the same place that Robin does.
- Vincent need a lot of takes to get a comedy VT right. No doubt there are elements within the viewing audience who will take this as an indicator that the comedy VTs must be VANQUISHED FOREVER.
- Dani has a tattoo of a fairy on one calf, and a bow on the other. Vincent has no tattoos apart from the one in his mind that says "made in Italy".
- Despite Nicky's quickstep looking like a tango, his tango is not, as yet, looking like a quickstep.
- Robin has been wearing glasses all week to get into character as a geek for their charleston. I'm tired of this gimmick already and I haven't even seen the dance yet.
- Robin can dance well in heels. Anyone surprised? Thought not.
- Artem has been drilling Fern on all sorts of steps. Poor Kara.
- Fern's kids don't watch the show. Supportive!
- Erin can name more GMTV/Daybreak presenters than Zoe can.
- Denise is not finding the cha cha cha easy, because she's definitely not any sort of ringer, honest.
- James plays tricks on everyone all the time.
- The prediction meerkat has been sacked for terminal inaccuracy, but his replacement thinks Lisa and Robin will be this week's top scorers.
- Paloma Faith is not familiar with The Great British Bake Off.
- Larry Lamb has just come back from IBEEFA.
- Paloma Faith fancies Karen Hauer.
- The combination of Larry Lamb, Mel Giedroyc and Paloma Faith might just be the best Friday panel ever.
- If Zoe could be a sandwich, she'd be Wensleydale and chutney.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Hall of shame

Top 13 Results: 21st October 2012

Aw, how lovely. After the interactive sexual harassment that was last night's pro dance, they've clearly got something more in accordance with old Hollywood values for us tonight, as here are Anton and Erin, broadcast in full technico--er, black and white, dancing a quickstep to 'Let's Face The Music And Dance'. This is really beautiful, nothing but Anton and Erin and the music and...oh, hang on, the lights are coming up and it's all going into colour and GAH! IT'S TOM CHAMBERS! AND AN ARMY OF ZOMBIE TAP-DANCING CLONES! THERE'S NO WAY OUT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!

*hides behind sofa*

*lobs grenade at dancefloor*

*awaits explosion, peeks gingerly over the back of the sofa to survey the damage*

Well, I think Anton and Erin got away in time. I'm not sure about Summer Strallen - I mean, there was always going to be collateral damage, but I hope she survived somehow. Anyway, the important thing is that we all got through that. Now, I'm going to make myself a nice, soothing mug of Horlicks and we'll watch the rest of the results show to calm our nerves, shall we? (I can only imagine what sort of horrors are in store for next week. Probably a reprise of Lisa Snowdon's cha cha cha the way things are going.)

Tess and Claudia manage to make their way in through the wreckage. Claudia is once again standing like an extra from The Walking Dead, while Tess has seen fit to honour this week's theme by coming dressed as an Academy Award statuette. Claudia reminds us that Tom Chambers won the show a few years back, but does not remember that this ultimate triumph led to Camilla losing her damn mind. Probably just as well. While we must endure the Dreaded Dance Off and Len's Lens later, we do at least have genuine legend Dionne Warwick to look forward to, so small mercies and all that.

First, we go to Claudia's backstage snooping segment, which proves about as illuminating as last week's one. Points of interest include James and Vincent trying to replicate The Lift and both nearly breaking their backs in the process, and Louis showing Claudia his ball. Er, that's his physio ball, which is apparently something you place between you and the wall and start sliding up and down and around and around - much like Baloo from The Jungle Book, as Claudia points out. As far as the backstage insights to the actual performances go, Fern thinks she was practically perfect in every way; Victoria has reached Hollyoaks touching-the-wall-acting levels of emotional commitment to her routines; Michael is quite pleased that he got sixes off Len and Darcey; Jerry insists that Craig loves her really; Sid doesn't know what Bruno's on (neither do we, Sid); Kimberley and Pasha were thrilled with their eight, as were James and Denise with all four of theirs; Colin and Kristina whooped; Richard thinks his typing was the best bit; Dani is feeling over the rainbow; Lisa and Robin are exuberant; Nicky does some more so-so Jim Carrey impressions; and the camera crew are nice enough to treat us to a close-up of Louis's hips. Overall, Len thinks it was a fabulous and effervescent night.

Some people are going to be disappointed with their box-office returns though, so here's Tess with the results. Through to next week are: Kimberley and Pasha, Louis and Flavia, Nicky and Karen, Sid and Ola (screaming so loud that dogs across the country fled into the cupboard-under-the-stairs, and that was just Sid's reaction), Colin and Kristina, and Dani and Vincent. Definitely in the Dreaded Dance-Off, however, are Jerry and Anton. Jerry at least manages to muster a vaguely sincere-looking expression of shock.

Tess asks Len why Jerry Hall ended up in the bottom two, even with the benefit of all her years on the catwalk? I give you EXHIBIT A. Then I give you EXHIBIT B. And as much as I loved her, I give you EXHIBIT C. Quite why this show persists in pretending, in the face of all available evidence, that there's any connection between being a model and being able to dance worth a damn is beyond me. Without the aid of YouTube to make his case, Len thinks that Jerry has wonderful presence, but she just needs to stretch a bit more. Yeah, that'll be why the public didn't vote - not enough stretching. Still, he thinks there's never a dull moment with Jerry.

We join Claudia and the safe couples up on the Tess Circle, and Claudia asks Sid if he's still feeling emotional after "Saturday night". Sid admits that he's "a bit of a wuss" because he worked hard and didn't want to let Ola down, so he's very happy to be going through. Claudia turns to Nicky and remarks that she's so orange she might be clashing with his green face. Nicky's pleased to have done better this week, and hurls his hat at the camera in his excitement. Colin chimes in on the matter of getting dirty, and informs us that he has a salsa next week and that it will be filthier than Bruno's mind.

If you're sick of theme weeks...well, you're SOL, because next week is Halloween week, and to "celebrate" that, we have a comedy VT, which is another of those classic Strictly gags that makes its punchline obvious from the first second and yet still takes nearly a minute to get there. The contestants are having a Halloween party, the judges try to get invited in, only to be told their costumes aren't scary enough, eventually Craig turns up and everyone screams. Ho ho ho. Oh, hang on, that's Christmas. [I am not a theme week person at all, but I can cope with Halloween.  Halloween gave me Pasty'n'Robin's meth lab, Michelle and Brendan's Time Warp and Nancy's coffin.  They're the only dances I remember from any of those people and Nancy's coffin dance was probably my favourite Anton dance ever (ones including Erin aside).  So it's A-OK with me - Rad]

From bad to worse, we segue from comedy VT to Len's Lens. They try to get me onside from the outset with shots of slow-motion Pasha, but my affections are not that easily bought. This week, Len's Lens brings us: footage of Betty the dog doing a better jive than Michael Vaughan's, and Len having to justify himself for not being appropriately reverent towards The Lift. "Can Len see?" asks Claudia to the room at large, before turning to Len himself and asking "are you unwell?" Len says "I'm not always right, but on this occasion I am 100 per cent right." Such humility! He basically thinks that the crowd was baying for the jump and weren't really paying attention to anything that came before it, which was a less than sizzling salsa. School swot Darcey is all "I said it was too controlled!" and Len scoffs that she still gave it an eight. After that, we have Darcey talking on an imaginary phone and even more of Craig as the tin man, this time being critiqued by Bruno. This bit would've been far better if Bruno had remembered the words "spatulistic" or "BIG OLD BANANAS". And honestly, I'm sure it doesn't take much to get Bruno thinking of big old bananas after 9pm on a Saturday night.

With Len's Lens mercifully over for another week, Tess has got the results for the remaining six couples. Definitely safe and returning next week are Denise and James, Fern and Artem, Lisa and Robin, Victoria and Brendan (just as well, since Victoria was having a full-on attack of the vapours at this point, so I doubt she'd have coped with the Dreaded Dance-Off at all well) and Richard and Erin, leaving Michael and Natalie to battle it out with Jerry and Anton in the aforementioned Dreaded Dance-Off. "Ahh, we'll go for it," says Michael to a facepalming Natalie. Tess asks Craig if he has any last-minute advice for the couple, and Craig says that they need to listen to the music and get the rhythm sorted out, and that Michael needs to remember everything Natalie has taught him. Especially the bit about how the Australians are definitely better than the Brits at the cricket.

Up in Claudia's Counselling Centre (formerly known as the Tess Circle), the show takes time out to prop up Victoria's ever-fragile psyche, because she's crying again. She admits that watching the numbers go down and down and the Dread Dance-Off get agonisingly close was, well, agonising because she's having so much fun and doesn't want to go yet. She probably needn't have worried because short of accidentally impaling herself in the head with one of her own heels, I doubt Victoria would have lost a Dread Dance-Off to Jerry bloody Hall however either of them performed on the night. The show's far too invested in its Olympic heroes this year for that ever to be a realistic prospect. Victoria sobs that she really wants a chance to do a good dance, and everyone's all "YOU WILL! YOU'RE AMAZING! WE LOVE YOU! DID YOU NOT GET ENOUGH HUGS AS A CHILD OR SOMETHING?" Claudia turns to Richard, who was also tearful but not as much as Victoria (obviously), who says he assumed he would be in the Dread Dance-Off, but he owes his not being there to Erin. Also pleased to be safe is Denise, the dirty ringer.

Time for Dionne Warwick! She's perched on a stool because she hurt her ankle the night before the performance, and she's singing '(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me'. To be honest, she's really not in the finest vocal form of her life these days, but that's probably to be expected, and I'd much rather she supported herself via music rather than doing another reality show since I gather she did not come across well on Celebrity Apprentice (although if she wants to sign up for The Amazing Race with Burt Bacharach, I am so on board). Meanwhile, Pasha and Iveta are here doing a jive, which is an odd fit with this song genre-wise, but it's Pasha and Iveta and they're adorable, so I'm not feeling overly critical.

Up in Claudia's Counselling Centre, the two couples in the Dread Dance-Off are preparing to dance for their lives, and Claudia asks Jerry if she expected to be here. Jerry can only offer a series of hoots and clicks, and Claudia snarks "everybody understands that noise, it makes absolutely total sense". Jerry vows to try her best in the Dread Dance-Off, and then Claudia sends them downstairs to get into position while she talks to Michael and Natalie. Michael's philosophical about it, and says he's going to try to get it right second time round, and that he loves Jerry. I really am staggered and a little unnerved by how much I love Michael Vaughan on this show. Seriously, what a dude. [It's the Sheffield influence.  Everyone here is unfailingly awesome - Rad]

Jerry and Anton reprise their quickstep, and it's a little sloppier than it was the first time out, with Jerry's posture definitely taking a backslide in every sense of the word. Then Michael and Natalie reprise their cha cha cha, and it's about the same as it was earlier, with all the timing issues that go with that, although he does at least manage to land in the chair properly this time.

It's time for the judges to make their decision. Craig thinks one couple improved slightly and were a little bit better, so he votes to save Michael and Natalie. Darcey thinks both couples have improved "so much" and it's "so hard" to judge on this performance because nerves got them both (or they were both just shit, your call really), but she's voting to save Michael and Natalie, because reasons. Bruno thinks both couples were very nervous and didn't improve, but by a whisker he votes to save Jerry and Anton. Len's looking rather sourfaced, and says that he thought neither couple impressed him because the pressure got to both of them: Jerry's routine was full of mistakes while Michael's went out of time. He looks like he's on the verge of pulling a full Louis and taking it to deadlock, but then he remembers that Michael is a SPORTSMAN and votes to save him, so Jerry and Anton are out.

Up in Claudia's Counselling Centre, Dani is crying (though for once Victoria is not) and Jerry says that she's had a lot of fun, and she's loved hanging out with Anton, and even dancing with him when she absolutely had to. Anton says that Jerry is gorgeous and fabulous and has been a star. Claudia reappears to plug the website and It Takes Two, while Tess reminds us that she and Bruce will be back next Saturday for the Halloween special. Jerry and Anton have their last dance to 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin''. I feel the sombre nature of this occasion is undermined slightly by Kristina striding around the group hug in full view of the camera wearing what amounts to Batgirl's lingerie, but never mind. See you next week!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Twirls on film

Top 13: 20th October 2012

One week ago, Tess's voiceover tell us, Strictly Come Dancing took the box-office by storm. I think that's polite BBC-code for "beat The X Factor in the ratings". While Denise and Louis were the big draws, Richard and Erin proved that it's still hard to get good numbers when you bring the gay characters to the front instead of relegating them to the sidelines, and ultimately we lost a star of the small screen. Still, I'm sure Iveta will be back next year when Aliona/Karen/Erin gets cut loose. Oh, and also Johnny Ball was eliminated. [Oh, and then Steve got a bit lonely blogging here all on his own so I showed up!  Hi Strictly Come Bitching readers.  If you read The Apprentbitch and The Bitch Factor you know who I am already, and you all read those anyway, don't you?  Excellent.  I'll be mostly taking it in turns with Steve to recap from now on... although he's on duty again next week because I've got to do the horror of X Factor Halloween week. - Rad]

Just in case you hadn't already worked it out, the reason for all that cinematic imagery is because it's Hollywood week! As everyone gets their best silent-movie-overacting faces on (or, in the case of Denise and James, their regular faces) Tess assures us that there will be laughter, emotion and drama, but most of all, there will be BLOOD. Oh, sorry, there will be "action". But how amazing would a There Will Be Blood-themed salsa be? Answer: very.

Titles! The HD broadcast had all sorts of trouble here, as the sound was all tinny for most of it, and then the attempts to fix it seemed to involve just shoving all the faders up and making it as loud as possible. My ears are still ringing now. [Oh thank goodness this wasn't just my telly then - Rad]

Since the show is the same length this week but we have one less couple to contend with, we get a pro dance to kick things off. It starts with some Busby Berkeley-style overhead choreography featuring Kristina front-and-centre, with some bussed-in female dancers making up the numbers to create the full overhead spectacular. For some reason, they've decided that the best possible soundtrack to a tribute to the golden age of cinema is a song by the woman who finished seventh in the second season of Australian Idol, and who was known to readers of CFB Goes Pop as "the disco cow". I'm sure they had their reasons. Anyway, Kristina's giving it the full Marilyn, then the male pros arrive and the superfluous female extras are sent off to wave feathers around. Essentially, everyone who isn't Kristina is at best an afterthought in this dance, which is interesting and makes me wonder who choreographed it. I want to say "Kristina", but I feel like it's such an easy answer.

Once the Kristinaxtravaganza concludes, Bruce and Tess arrive. Daly Dresswatch: a floor-length silver sequinned number with a little hint of a mermaid-fin at the bottom. It's better-fitting than either of last week's travesties, but it does look a little bit like something you might expect the compere of a drag show to be wearing. For those of you keeping score, they forgo the fist-bump this week and return to the leg-kick of yore. It's nice that they're keeping us on our toes, even if Tess can't quite stay on hers. Spotted in the audience: series eight winner Kara Tointon, looking very immaculately-coiffed. Bruce prepares the band, the audience and the judges for the show, only to discover that Craig is missing. This is the cue for Craig to enter, jerkily stumbling across the dancefloor wearing what looks like the off-cuts from Tess's outfit and holding Natalie's axe from last week - dressed as the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, in other words. It's not exactly a huge mental leap to assume that the punchline of this joke will be "if he only had a heart", but the show still takes a full 30 seconds to get there and subjects us to Tess's singing into the bargain. Still, despite how wretchedly amateurish that entire section was, it was still more polished and enjoyable than the recent West End revival of The Wizard of Oz. (Unless it got miraculously better in the second half - I wouldn't know, I left in the interval because I lacked the necessary masochistic streak to subject myself to any more of it.) Incidentally, the judges all have their names displayed on the front of their desk, on glitterballs mounted on Walk of Fame stars. This is mostly interesting because the D in "Darcey" doesn't really get picked up by the camera, hee hee hee. Another shot of the audience reveals that Nancy Dell'Olio is sitting next to John from The Great British Bake Off. What I wouldn't give to be eavesdropping on that pre-show conversation.

Tess tells us that each of tonight's couples wants to be on the Walk of Fame, but one of them is heading for the Walk of Shame. If I had to guess, I'd put my money on Louis and Flavia, assuming that their ongoing complete lack of interest in each other is in fact masking seriously unresolved sexual tension. This is Hollywood night, after all, and that's how it works in the movies. Bruce almost knocks Tess over as he goes to grab her, she looks spectacularly unimpressed, and I wonder at what point this crosses the line into harassment. In the meantime, here are the stars of our show: Kimberley and Pasha, Nicky and Karen, Fern and Artem, Michael and Natalie, Lisa and Robin, Louis and Flavia, Dani and Vincent, Sid and Ola, Denise and James, Richard and Erin, Victoria and Brendan, Colin and Kristina, and Jerry and Anton. Level of post-intro shimmying: disappointing. Pasha's the only one even trying.

This week, Karen's joined by Katy Brand in her red button commentary lounge (Pamela Stephenson continues to sit by the phone, sobbing) and our first couple of the night is Fern and Artem. They'll be dancing to a song from Mary Poppins. Bruce does a "joke" about how they're remaking that film with Rihanna in the title role, and how it'll be exactly the same except at the beginning she'll fly in on her "umbrella-ella-ella". So...exactly the same, then? Sheesh, if you're going to do a predictable joke, at least make sure it scans coherently. [Oh Steve.  It's Bruce.  What do you expect? - Rad]

Fern interviews that she felt a bit of the Strictly magic getting into her soul last week, and Artem applauds her for living in the moment. Fern was thrilled to get four sixes, a whole five points up on the week before. Artem explains that they've got the charleston this week, and anyone who thought the comedy VTs had exited along with Evil Moira Ross, prepare to be disappointed: Fern's brought a Mary Poppins-style back which she opens with a flourish of CGI sparkles, and pulls an increasing amount of "hilariously" oversized items from it. Then in a puff of smoke, Artem transports her up onto a rooftop to practise amongst the chim-chiminey-chim-chiminey-chim-chim-cherees, and Fern says that she just hopes she can get her "Mary magic" out on the night. I suggest asking Ola for advice, Fern: she gets her Mary Magic out nearly every week.

They're dancing to 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious', and the routine begins with Fern lying on the floor holding her umbrella "aloft" with the projection behind her giving the impression of her floating down through the sky. As she touches down on "the ground", Artem arrives to pick her up and they parade around each other for a few more bars. There's no actual charleston yet, so I'm already anticipating Len getting into a fury about how long it's taking them to get going. Incidentally, Artem looks very dashing in his straw boater and Dick van Dyke-style striped blazer, even though it feels a bit wrong to admit that. Once they start the actual dancing, Fern's legwork is a little laboured - if you look at what Artem's doing next to her, they might as well be dancing entirely different routines. They make up for it in terms of presentation, because there's an infectious energy to it and Fern's clearly enjoying herself - and showmanship-wise, Fern doing the splits through Artem's legs is pretty impressive. There's just not a lot of actual charleston in there. [There wasn't a lot of actual anything in most of the dances this week as far as I could tell.  Stupid film movie Hollywood week. Halloween week on the other hand, I'm all for - Rad]

Bruce takes an age getting the judges' intro out of the way, but it's fine because Fern's having a giggle with Artem and trying to fasten her umbrella up, so she's clearly not listening for the first minute or so anyway. Len says that Fern made "Hollywood into Jolly Good", and that it was fun and entertaining and a lovely start to the show, though he would've preferred to see more actual charleston in there. Bruno thought it was prim and proper and extremely nice, but Fern needs to "pump it a bit more", movement-wise. He adds "Julie and Dick were going for it!" Is that widely-known? Scandal! He wants the charleston to be punchier, but the characterisation was good. Craig thought it needed a lot more swivel in the charleston, and Fern needed to bring her feet together in the plies. He thought it was laboured as a whole, but there were parts of it he enjoyed the hitch-kick (I think?) section and the back-jazz split. "But it wasn't laboured! Why bring politics into this?" says noted Conservative Bruce Forsyth. A barely-audible Darcey says that she thinks the energy was much better this week, and then Bruce points out that he doesn't think Darcey's mic is on. Part of me hopes that this means the sound mixer for the show is One Of Us. Darcey bellows "can you HEAR MEEEEEEEE?" and Fern quickly interjects "she's saying I'm fabulous!" Heh. Darcey leans over into Craig's mic and says that Fern can be her kids' Mary Poppins any day. Darcey's kids are all "actually, we preferred it when we thought Rihanna was going to do it."

They make their way up to the Tess Circle where an usherette is waiting with a tray of snacks, and Artem takes his time perusing her wares before selecting a pot of flumps. He offers Fern one, and she sensibly opts to pop a flump in her mouth rather than actually talk to Tess. Fern says she thinks that's the cleanest she's ever done it - presumably because every other time she was yelling "fucking kids! Get your arses back in here and clean up this bollocking mess!" Tess tells us that Fern is the Mary Poppins of Strictly because she's always the first one to hug people as they come off the dancefloor, and also because she knows a lot of men with dodgy cockney accents. Scores: Craig 5, Darcey 6, Len 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 23. One point lower than last week, and Fern's clearly a little disappointed with that.

Up next with their rumba are Victoria and Brendan. They were both pretty impressed with how well things went last week, especially considering the enormous first week fuck-up. Victoria explains that they're dancing the rumba to 'Up Where We Belong' from An Officer and a Gentleman, and Victoria's wary of having to do the acting side of things, because that's not something she's used to. "I want the audience to really engage with what we're doing," says Brendan, "and when they watch it, I want them to be holding their breath." Oh Brendan. Be careful what you wish for.

To be fair to Victoria, things do start fairly well - she's doing a reasonable job of selling the emotion, and her movements seem to have come on quite a lot; there's a lyrical quality to her dancing in the first twenty bars or so that's very encouraging. Unfortunately, it doesn't last - there's a section where Brendan drags her across the floor and she can't travel smoothly with her connecting leg at all, and later on you can see Brendan whispering instructions to her once again shortly before she completely fails to do one of the spins quickly enough and gets all entangled in her dress. This throws her concentration off again, and the rest of the dance suffers quite a bit. There are also several lifts in there, and I thought those weren't allowed in the rumba, but at this point who knows, frankly?

Bruce asks Victoria if she'd rather have done that with Richard Gere, and Victoria replies "not at all", with the subtext of "good god, man, did you not see Chicago? He was dreadful." Bruno tells Victoria that just when she was starting to sizzle, she boiled over - she was really going for it, but she got into a mangle and lost her concentration. However, the beginning was good enough that he encourages her to keep going. He demonstrates a bit of rumba passion on Len, who's less tolerant of this sort of thing than Alesha used to be. Craig says he's beginning to see an actress emerging, which is fantastic, and there were some great straight legs and hip action. He knows that there was a costume drama, but that was Victoria's fault for not getting her arm out of the way sooner, which was the same note he gave her last week. Subtext: GET A GRIP, VICTORIA. Darcey tells her she looks beautiful and freer, but she still needs to work on her splayed fingers, and suggests Victoria try holding a piece of paper between her fingers in rehearsals to create a better line. Len's in a good mood (so he claims), so he's not going to be too critical: instead he deploys an excessive amount of bike-related metaphors which ultimately amount to "you're improving, well done". They're going fairly easy on her, aren't they? [I think they probably have to in a duty of care kind of way.  If this was The X Factor of course, they'd have her going into a full-on meltdown in front of the camera or something equally tasteful given their whole 'yay, panic attacks and abusive fathers make for good VTs' theme this year - Rad]

Up in the Tess Circle, Victoria giggles about how much she fucked up with the chiffon and nearly strangled herself and Brendan. At least she's got a sense of humour. Brendan takes the opportunity to gallantly give props to the wardrobe team (and wardrobes to the props team), while Victoria tells Tess that it's easy to give a better performance when you're working with someone as wonderful as Brendan. Well, she's mastered the post-dance patter, if nothing else. Scores: Craig 4, Darcey 5, Len 7, Bruno 6 for a total of 22. Brendan is clearly unimpressed, and Victoria asks if they can do it again. Someone needs to point out to her that it's a good idea not to sound like you actively want to be in the Dreaded Dance Off.

Michael and Natalie are next. Last week, Michael's performance was simultaneously both the best and worst thing that ever happened to the jive, and he giggles that he actually thought he'd done quite well. He's hoping to get some good comments this week, because at present he's getting "battered". Michael hints that he's got a Sheffield-themed performance this week, and the VT segues into an homage to the opening moments of The Full Monty, while Natalie says that Michael is "just like every other bloke in the country: a dad trying to learn how to dance." [I am aggrieved by this whole section.  Kristina went to Canada, for goodness' sake.  They could at least have done some filming in bloody Sheffield.  And then I could have nicked one of Natalie's Fierce Scarves for Monkseal - Rad] I'm not sure there are enough dads currently learning to dance in the UK to really make that comparison work, Natalie. They've vowed to practice "everywhere" this week in order to avoid being in the bottom two, though as someone who used to work in the area, I can assure you that "everywhere" as shown on screen appears to be within a five-minute walk of Television Centre.

Natalie's taken a few liberties with the plot of The Full Monty for their cha cha cha to 'Hot Stuff', in that she's written herself a part as the waitress who does a lot of dancing while Michael's character has a nice sit down [They could at least have put some Henderson's Relish on the table to make it vaguely Sheffieldish though. - Rad] . A bit of artistic licence, admittedly, but probably very sensible in the long run. They've worked a striptease in, of course, though it basically involves Michael stripping off his uniform to reveal...what appear to be some cricket whites. [Boo - Rad] He's better than he was last week - there's some decent hip movement in there, and his legs are doing the right thing at least some of the time. To be honest, I'm willing to give him a lot of points for effort, because I'd say he's trying a lot harder to actually dance than Russell Grant or Anne Widdecombe ever did. Also, the end is memorable for all the wrong reasons as Michael throws himself into the chair again, overbalances, flails, manages to regain his balance and lean on the table all tits-and-teeth just in time for the final beat of the song. Masterful.

"Hot it was not," declares Craig, saying that there were timing issues throughout and he was landing on the wrong count frequently, and he suspects Latin is not going to be a good fit for Michael. Natalie protests that it was definitely better than last week, god love her. Darcey was much happier this week, and while the timing was out, at least his top and lower body seemed connected this week, and he was giving it his all. Len thought there odd moments where Michael lost timing, but all the celebrities do that, he claims. I think Len's just remembered that Michael is a SPORTSMAN and therefore must be protected at all costs. Len praises Michael for straightening his leg at the right times, and having good hip action. He thinks Michael's gone from Borehamwood to Hollywood. Bruno says he was waiting for the full strip to distract himself from the lack of musicality, and that it was nearly a disaster at the end.

In the Tess Circle, Michael admits that he nearly went flying on the chair and "that could've been the best bit". Tess asks him if he's enjoying himself, and Michael says he really is - he's trying to learn, but every Saturday night he just decides to go for it. Scores: Craig 3, Darcey 6, Len 6, Bruno 4 for a total of 19. Natalie frowns that score-wise it's "still not as good as the waltz", but hopes they might fare better with a quickstep next week. Tess demands that the next person to come up should bring her some sweets, and Michael produces a flump as if from nowhere. He's smooth, I'll give him that.

Jerry and Anton are next. She was pleased with how well the dance went on Saturday, but she thought the judges were a bit harsh - though she agreed with them. Well, that makes no sense. I'm starting to find Jerry a little grating - everything she says just sounds so ragingly insincere. Rehearsals for their quickstep to 'Mrs Robinson' from The Graduate. Anton reminds us that this is a role that Jerry herself played, but forgets to specify that she did so on stage rather than in the film. Jerry says she wants to concentrate on getting her posture right this week and show those darn judges what-for.

They've got a giant silhouette screen which Jerry is positioned behind, daintily fiddling with her stockings. The casting of Anton as the young, guileless male being corrupted by the older woman in this is intrinsically hilarious, but I suppose they couldn't really have done it any other way. I don't know if Jerry benefits from low expectations, but her quickstep is pretty passable. It's awfully bumpy, but her posture is better and she's actually dancing, so that's two improvements on last week right off the bat. It all fizzles out a bit at the end as Jerry leads Anton halfway across the floor by his tie, reclines behind the screen and prepares to make sweet, passionate love to him - at the same time that Bruce's mic gets switched on about 15 seconds too early, which is something of a moment-killer.

Darcey tells Jerry that the quickstep suits her and she clearly loved telling the story of the quickstep, but she needs to learn not to fade before the end. Len thinks it was a bit Upstairs Downstairs rather than Hollywood - there's still some upstairs problems with Jerry's posture, although "downstairs you're quite neat and tidy." The audience bursts out laughing at this point, and even Len gets the giggles and decides to give up. Craig thinks the whole thing would've been better behind the screen, and says he has three notes: posture, posture, posture. Anton says that surely it was an improvement from last week? Craig will not be drawn on this.

They amble leisurely up to the Tess Circle, helping themselves to more flumps on the way (this episode is doing nothing for the popcorn industry, is it?) [Yeah, but... flumps.  No contest - Rad]. Jerry says that it was a very energetic dance, and she thinks it was "one for HRT, so vote for me!" Heh. Tess asks Jerry what she still has to give, and Jerry says they'll be dancing to 'Paint It Black' next week. Scores: Craig 3, Darcey 6, Len 5, Bruno 4 for a total of 18. Tess tries to make a case for Jerry being a "starlet", which I think is a losing  battle from the get-go.

Next we have Sid and Ola, who have come dressed as Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne. Respectively. Sid thought last Saturday was great, but Ola thinks there were some problems, though overall she's just happy he didn't drop her on her face. I guess being married to James has set her up for a lifetime of very low expectations. They've got the tango this week, danced to 'Here I Go Again' from Rock of Ages, which isn't so much a movie as much as it is a permanent stain on humanity. [But it gave poor Shayne Ward a job, Steve!  Have a heart! Oh, yeah, and Justin Lee Collins.  Forget I said anything in that case - Rad] Ola says that she needs to get Sid to perform in the rehearsal studios so that he's used to giving it his full energy, and that way he won't need to step anything up on Saturday night.

Oh dear. I think the first problem is Ola's decision to have Sid holding the guitar quite as much as he does, including sections where they're in hold. The second problem is that very little of this is recognisable as a tango - and in the parts that are, Sid looks like Ola's leading him. I'm not sure what he was going for in his performance, but I can't help thinking that "rocker who fried his brains out on skunk years ago and is just barely clinging on to consciousness" might not have been the best idea.

Len: "I don't know about Rock of Ages, you took blummin' ages to get started." And once they did, it was too smooth and there was no aggression in the dance. Bruno thinks it was like watching "Les Dawson trying to be Van Halen in AC/DC." And if you can make any sense of that, then I can only assume that you and Bruno get your "supplies" from the same dealer. He thinks it was a lot of headbanging, but once they got into the tango, it wasn't good. Sound familiar? Craig thought it was Stompy, Clompy and Clumpy - which along with Stumbly, Drunky, Limpy and Floppy make up Strictly's answer to the Seven Dwarves. And also provide the description of the end of an average night out with me.

Bruce ushers them upstairs to the Tess Circle as quickly as possible, which is the most sensible thing he's done in years, and once up there, Sid says that whatever happened he enjoyed it. Then he apologies to Ola and gets a bit teary, and Tess proceeds to needle him with all the sensitivity of Mitt Romney answering a question about equality. Scores: Craig 4, Darcey 4, Len 5, Bruno 4 for a total of 17. Tess is all "I actually thought that was the most original tango we've ever seen on the show!", thereby demonstrating why her opinion is rarely welcome.

Bruce is not ready yet, but we go to him anyway, as he introduces Kimberley and Pasha, who get a very warm reception from the audience. They're dancing to a song from... Summer Stock? Oh, Pasha - you can't just make films up. Next you'll be telling me that Gummo is a real film as well. In her VT, Kimberley admits that their last dance on Saturday was probably the worst they've ever done it, and that Len's comments were on the money - but even so, she didn't expect him to be so mean. Pasha tries to reassure her, because he's lovely, but she still got very tearful afterwards. They're dancing to 'Get Happy' this week, and Kimberley thinks this is good advice, generally. Pasha says what would really make him happy this week is if Kimberley nails the dance. What will make me happy will be when Pasha's bad haircut eventually grows out. It's getting there, I suppose.

They're dancing a quickstep and Pasha is wearing nerd-glasses (swoon!) as Kimberley arrives to dance on his lap and make him happy. Hang on, that came out wrong. It's a far more confident performance than last week's, although there is one fairly serious stumble near the beginning and Kimberley still needs to tuck her chin in a bit. This is a real boost for Kimberley's chances in ballroom, anyway - it's a fun and nicely-crafted performance, with the running splits an impressive touch. Pasha knows what he's doing with a quickstep, doesn't he? She looks much happier when it's all over and gives Pasha an enthusiastic squeeze. I wouldn't mind giving Pasha an enthusiastic squee--[that's quite enough of that, thank you - Ed]

Bruno declares "now we're in business!" and says that Kimberley really captured the spirit of the song, and her frame and body contact were much better this week. We skip Craig and go straight to Darcey who says it had great attack and beautiful light steps, and Kimberley's really worked on her core and her top line. Len declares "good news from Goodman", saying that he liked it, but warns Pasha that Kimberley's getting too far over on his right-hand side, and that's making her right arm too straight. Kimberley admits quietly that Pasha has already told her about that, and Len says "then tell her again, because she's not doing it." Yeah, Pasha! Train your woman! Otherwise Len might have to address her directly!

Up in the Tess Circle, Kimberley says she really enjoyed that, but she's not quite sure what happened out there. Tess asks if Pasha's now like the sixth member of Girls Aloud, and Pasha shoots the most adorably excited look at the camera. Tess asks if Pasha is coming on tour, and Kimberley replies that "he might be". She really needs to work on her banter, but I do like how she nonchalantly eats a flump while waiting for her score. Speaking of which, here it is: Craig 7, Darcey 7, Len 7, Bruno 8 for a total of 29. It's their highest score so far, and Kimberley and Pasha are thrilled with that.

After them we have Denise and James. Bruce tells us that Denise has been performing since she was 12 years old, BUT DEFINITELY IN NOTHING THAT INVOLVED STANDING UP OR MOVING AROUND, I AM NOT A RINGER OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. Denise recounts how well things went for her last week in her jive, while James smugs that he's been doing the show for seven years (really? It feels like TWENTY) and this is the first time he's had a "fab-u-lous" from Craig. I'm sure that would be a breakthrough moment if anyone gave even the slightest toss. This week they're dancing a foxtrot to 'You've Got A Friend In Me'. Denise: "I love Toy Story, so I'm really excited that we're going to be dancing as Jess and Woody." Apparently she doesn't love the film enough to find out what her character is actually called, or to note that she doesn't even appear until the sequel. Mind you, I feel like getting Denise to play Jessie was the wrong move anyway - if there was a role she was born to play, it's clearly Hamm. Meanwhile, James tells us that they work hard and play hard and BANTER BANTER BANTER FUN AND GAMES OH FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND PURE JUST KILL ME NOW.

The routine is unbearably twee as they play-act being toys in the way you'd expect a child to do, but the foxtrot parts of it are pretty decent. There's not a lot to pick up on, fault-wise, other than Denise's horrific eye make-up, which I suspect is not her fault. Craig liked the posture and control, and thought it was beautifully acted and danced. Darcey thinks the turns were clean and the pivots were well done, but she has to watch not to get too comfortable. "Just a very elegant couple you were," she Yodas. Len tells them it was excellent, and she even released her toe. "I've been practising so hard!" gushes Denise. Yes, for the last 26 years, you BLOODY RINGER. Sorry. [I am perfectly OK with Denise being a BLOODY RINGER.  It probably means she hasn't a hope in hell of winning anyway as she'll have had no 'journey' and it also means we might see some really good dancing along the way.  Just a shame James is involved, but you can't have it all - Rad] Finally, Bruno thinks they were made for each other, and he thinks they retained the character without making it wooden.

Up in the Tess Circle, Denise reminds us that they've worked SO HARD again, and also that she's REALLY NERVOUS. Tess cracks a terrible joke, and then the scores are in: eights all round for a total of 32 again. "I'm glad they commented on your footwork as well," says James loftily. I think the parts where James critiques the judges' critiques are possibly my least favourite part of the episode.

Next we have Colin Bond - sorry, "Salmon", dammit I keep making that mistake - and Kristina. Last week went well, Colin thinks, and Kristina says that she felt like a little princes next to Colin. Emphasis on the "little". This week, they're dancing to 'GoldenEye', because Colin has been in some James Bond films, I don't know if you're aware of that. It's tricky for them to rehearse this week because Colin's in Vancouver filming on "The Arrow", as he calls it. I knew he was in that series, I just assumed that as he was committed to Strictly, he was going to get killed off quite early on or something - obviously not. Quite brave of him to take on both at the same time, really. Anyway, Kristina flew out to Canada to eat Kraft Dinner to join him for some rehearsals, and Colin hopes that will help on the night.

They're dancing an Argentine tango, and apparently Karen made sure on the red button commentary that this was her song from when she won with Mark Ramprakash. Oh Karen, never change. You can tell they've not had a lot of rehearsal time this week, and much like the opening number this week it feels like a feature piece from Kristina that also happens to feature another dancer, but it's decent enough. And hopefully now the show has got this out of its system, it can stop with the damn James Bond references already.

Darcey says she would've liked to have seen "a much dirtier spy" because the Argentine tango is "a dirty street dance". I feel like with every week that passes she's getting perilously close to saying "sexy party" again. *shudder* She wants more risks in future. Len's looking grumpy and says he was "more shaken than stirred", and he felt that if you remove the lifts and "all the stuff on the table", there wasn't much Argentine tango in there. Bruno tells Colin that he does "Baddy Bad-Ass" very well (I think that's the name of the main antagonist in the next Austin Powers movie) and he can take anything Kristina throws at him - which was, by all accounts, quite a lot. Like Len, however, he would've liked to see more dancing. Craig thought it was full of authority and dominance, which he loves (TMI) and he adored the lifts.

Up in the Tess Circle, Kristina says they've had 10 hours' training in total this week. And fair enough, that was an impressive achievement for 10 hours' work, but at the same time: if you sign up for this show knowing that you're going to have to juggle it with another job, then don't expect too much leniency just because you haven't got as much time as everyone else. Colin promises Darcey he can get dirtier. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 7, Len 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 26. Tess asks Kristina if she can wear her dress for the results show "tomorrow night". Clearly, things have got so bad on the wardrobe front for her that she's reduced to begging for scraps.

Onwards we go to Richard and Erin. Last week's gaymazing cha cha cha didn't go down especially well with the judges or the audience, and landed them in the Dreaded Dance Off - but they survived. This week they've got the quickstep to '9 to 5', which Richard says is one of his all-time favourite songs, and he'll be playing the part Dolly played in the film. "I'm halfway to being Dolly!" he declares, wearing a few strands of spaghetti on his head. Not with that accent, I'm afraid dear. This week Richard takes Erin to Daybreak to have a go at working 5 to 9, and Erin stands in the production gallery looking at the proceedings and clearly thinking that it all just needs a few more loud shirts and wigs. She's never off-duty, is Erin.

They open with Richard playing the overstretched office boy (thankfully without the Dolly wig or fake tits, though I imagine that idea was on the table at some point during the week) as Erin strides in looking like Melanie Griffith in Working Girl. Two films for the price of one! Fortunately they've gone down the traditional choreography route this week and the quality of the performance has improved as a result. It's a little skippy in places, but definitely a step up from last week.

Len says it was light and bright, but a little bit mincey in the footwork. "Flow, my old sausage, flow!" he implores. Did that take anyone else on an uncomfortable mental journey to bedtime at the Goodman house? Bruno says he's surprised that it wasn't full-on Dollywood, but that turned out to be a good thing because Richard has clearly been listening to Erin and there was a lot of improvement: his frame and his footwork were both better, and there was just enough comedy to set it up. Craig "didn't mind it, actually", and thought there was a good use of the floor and some nimble footwork. Darcey declares it Richard's best dance so far, but warns him not to allow his weight to go back on his heels when he's tired.

Up in the Tess Circle, Richard quips a bit and talks about how everyone is amazing and reveals that he's wearing Brendan's shoes. Scores: Craig 6, Darcey 7, Len 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 25. They're quite pleased with that.

Dani and Vincent are next. Last week they got good feedback, the dismount from that final lift notwithstanding. Dani even got a 7 from Len, which she says was all she wanted from the whole series and she managed to get it on the second week. I'd be very careful about concluding your narrative too quickly if I were you, Dani - that sort of thing rarely ends well. Although handily enough, she's got a new story for this week's VT - Vincent forcing her to train in dance shoes, so that she can get the hang of using the right muscles. Of course, since they're doing a Wizard of Oz-themed routine, Dani has to put on some ruby heels and click her heels together three times. Unfortunately, they spark a little, but nothing happens. That'll teach Vincent to steal his props from Alesha's attic! *tumbleweed* Oh, please yourselves. [I laughed if that's any consolation, Steve - Rad]

They're dancing the foxtrot to 'Over The Rainbow', and I'm surprised they've not dressed Vincent up as the head of the Lollipop Guild. I suppose such restraint can only be applauded. The routine's nice, but a little unexciting, even by foxtrot standards. Still, points for the shameless pandering of having a dog run on at the end. Bruce has dog treats in the pocket of his waistcoat for just such an occasion; I like to think he has them there all the time, possibly to reward Tess for her good work. Bruce says that "friends of Dorothy are going to be so pleased", ho ho ho. He thinks it was very pretty, and that she linked her lines very well and it was romantic and sweet. Craig loved the routine, and Dani's turns are lovely and clean, but she needs to pick her eyes up when she's spotting. Meanwhile, the dog is running wild (not a euphemism). Darcey thinks it was very smooth and encourages Dani to keep working hard because she's doing wonders every week. Len thinks she'll be walking down the yellow brick road straight into next week.

They go for WALKIES! up to the Tess Circle, where Betty the dog promptly attacks Vincent. No, Betty, no! We told you to attack Tess! Bad dog! Dani's finally got the hang of dancing in her ruby slippers, and is hoping to keep them. Tess decides not to pet the dog, perhaps wisely. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 6, Len 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 29.

We return to Bruce, who tells Dani not to worry about cleaning up after the dog, because he's already done it - and produces a bag ostensibly full of shit, which he hands to Bruno, who squeals and leaps out of his chair. Len grabs it and tosses it at Craig, who promptly chucks it into the audience. Well, I guess they're all used to flinging shit, etc etc etc.

Next up are Lisa and Robin. Lisa's had a good start so far, but was warned by Bruno not to lead Robin. "Sometimes I need a bit of a forceful hand," winks Robin, for the benefit of anyone who's not already seen his Grindr profile. Lisa was thrilled to be called "light", which she claims has never happened to her before. They're dancing the jive to 'Hanky Panky' from Dick Tracy [I love how Madonna was totally doing mainstream BDSM way before Rihanna or EL James, or even herself for that matter.  Nothing like a good spanky indeed - Rad], and go to great pains to remind us that Lisa has a cheeky personality again, some more.

As a jive, it's a little disappointing: there's a lengthy section at the beginning that's entirely hand movements, and rather mechanically-so. When they get to moving around, Lisa's leg movements aren't terribly energetic, but they do at least seem to be on the beat. Again, they get by on energy and enthusiasm, much as they said they would, but it wasn't quite as impressive as her cha cha cha.

Craig tells Lisa he gets very excited watching her because she really sells a number. Darcey gushes that Craig is right, that Lisa never fails to entertain, but she was missing the spring and bounce aspect of the jive. Len thinks they captured the feeling of the jive if not always the technique, and Lisa's a real goer. Bruno agrees that he loves watching her - she's a breath of fresh air who brings the whole room to its feet.

Up in the Tess Circle, Lisa's excited that Craig's being so kind. Tess chortles that Robin's more out of breath than Lisa (possibly because he was doing more dancing than she was? Just a thought), and asks Lisa if this has been a good workout. Lisa says that she never thought her thighs would be on British television. Belgian television on the other hand, you can't escape them. Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 6, Len 7, Bruno 8 for a total of 29. Tess shouts that Darcey is the new Craig based on that scoring. I'm not so sure: Craig can string a sentence together, Darcey's yet to prove that.

Nicky and Karen are next. Nicky recalls last week when everything went horribly wrong, and Karen openly admits that she had to grab his face to stop him fucking up any further than he already had done. This week, they're doing a quickstep influenced by The Mask, and Nicky says that he feels like he hasn't given it properly yet, whatever that means, so going out this early on isn't an option.

They're dancing to 'Hey Pachuco' and...I don't wish to be indelicate, but will they ever find an outfit for Nicky that conceals his GIANT PENIS? I swear I can't take my eyes off it, and not just because I'm a pervert. There's an improvement to his dancing this week, when I actually manage to tear myself away from his crotch - I think part of it is him being carried by the cartoonishness of the theme, but his footwork and his flow around the floor does seem to have improved.

Darcey tells Nicky that she loved his energy and his attack, and there were no nerves - but warns him against having too much bounce in his shoulders. Len tells Nicky that Mr Westlife has gone from "no life" to "full life", but tells him to straighten up a bit because he's always got his knees bent. Bruno tells Nicky that the mask gave him a chance to hide behind something and give a performance, and he was leading with conviction - but Len was right about the legs being too bent. Craig says that Nicky's starting to win him over - the characterisation and movement around the floor was good, though the bent knees made it seem more like a tango at times. Probably more like a tango than Sid's actual tango, I imagine.

Up in the Tess Circle, Karen says that she's so proud of Nicky, and then starts to pile it on a bit too much, all "this is a blessing for us, it really is *tear*." Calm down dear. Scores are in: Craig 6, Darcey 7, Len 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 27. A vast improvement [and overmarking - Rad]: "our goal was to break 20", Karen admits.

Finally we have Louis and Flavia with their salsa to '(I've Had) The Parentheses Of My Life' from Dirty Dancing. Since I felt some strange desire to reveal this on Twitter yesterday, I might as well say it here as well: me mentioning that I'd never seen Dirty Dancing on this very blog during series five indirectly led to me meeting my boyfriend. Perhaps that's why I didn't feel quite the same antagonism towards Jennifer Grey last year that everyone else did. [But you've seen it now, right?  I mean, it's DIRTY DANCING.  - Rad, who is a gurl]

Louis says that Flavia has been harping on at him about never having seen this film before, but what she doesn't realise is that she's like well old because she hasn't even seen Transformers 3. I think this is one of those arguments where you just have to accept that both sides are as wrong as each other. Flavia wants to educate Louis about Dirty Dancing, so she brings in a watermelon. In fact, she CARRIED A WATERMELON. Do you see? They're recreating the iconic moment of the film - no, not the bit where Patrick Swayze looks like he has an erection if you freeze-frame it correctly (what? I used to share a house with three girls, leave me alone), because they're waiting for Nicky to recreate that bit in a few weeks' time, but rather the bit where he lifts her right up over his head. Louis thinks the lift could make or break the routine - and him, for that matter. [I adored Flavia in this segment.  She was representing practially every woman I know aged 25-40 - Rad]

Much like last week on The X Factor when Ella sang 'Lovin' You' and nobody cared in the slightest about anything other than that high F-sharp, clearly no one really cares about anything in this routine that isn't The Lift. For what it's worth, everything building up to that moment is acceptable - there's good footwork and hip movement, although Louis still looks pretty bored. Flavia's clearly having (ahem) the time of her life, though. The lift is so important that there's barely any choreography for about the 20 seconds leading up to it - just Louis doing the splits in mid-air and then him and Flavia vamping it up, getting the audience going. Then, The Lift. And it works! So, tens all round, then?

There's a standing ovation from the crowd that lasts forever, because: The Lift, then Bruce takes the piss out of a woman in the audience for calling it "The Jump". Len thinks The Lift(s) were good, but the salsa itself lacked a bit of attack, and he would've liked Louis to give him "a really oily dance". Maybe in the late-night repeat, eh Len? Bruno thought it was very smooth and very well-placed, and The Lift was done wonderfully. He also quite liked the mid-air splits, though I can't possibly imagine why. Craig thought it was contained, simmering and understated - he loved the hip rotations and thought it was fantastic. Finally, Darcey saw a spark of emotion in there (god knows where, I was looking for it with little success), but she wants him to go out to a nightclub and free up. Bruno takes this opportunity to suggest that Louis go with him. Tonight. I don't think G-A-Y was quite the nightclub Darcey was thinking of, Bruno.

Tess asks if Louis's inner-performer is coming out, and he says he thinks so. That's all the actual dancing-related discussion taken care of, because after that all the women want to harangue him for having never seen Dirty Dancing. "I've seen clips!" Louis protests. Allow me to assure you, Louis, you've seen all the good bits. Let's just say that although I haven't seen it all the way through, it's not for a lack of trying. Flavia vows to buy Louis a copy. Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 8, Len 6, Bruno 8 for a total of 30. The gasp that accompanies Len's 6 is quite something - the audience reacts like he just ripped the head off their cherished childhood toy or something. Clearly, intolerance for The Lift will not be countenanced!

So there we have it. The final leaderboard looks like this:
1st: Denise & James (32)
2nd: Louis & Flavia (30)
3rd: Kimberley & Pasha (29)
3rd: Dani & Vincent (29)
3rd: Lisa & Robin (29)
6th: Nicky & Karen (27)
7th: Colin & Kristina (26)
8th: Richard & Erin (25)
9th: Fern & Artem (23)
10th: Victoria & Brendan (22)
11th: Michael & Natalie (19)
12th: Jerry & Anton (18)
13th: Sid & Ola (17)

Ola makes a wonderfully panic-stricken look behind Tess, as the phone lines are declared OPEN. Tomorrow night we'll be joined by the legendary Dionne Warwick, and the slightly less legendary Tom "Chinno" Chambers with the cast of Top Hat - and one couple will be going straight to DVD. Please, don't let it be Michael & Natalie. I'm just not ready to lose them yet, not when there's still so much potential for trainwrecks left as-yet unexplored.