We open with a pro dance showcase, of course, to Whitney Houston's 'I Have Nothing'. It's mostly Viennese waltz, with some samba rolls thrown in there for good measure. That reminds me: is fusion week back this year? I can't quite decide if I want it to return or not. Aliona's still in covering for Natalie, just in case you were wondering, and we should probably make the most of her because after this I can't imagine she'll be making many more return visits. I mean, it's not as if she's said anything especially untrue, but it would appear that those bridges aren't so much burned as they are napalmed. Oh Aliona. You were certainly one of a kind, and I'll miss you even if that places me firmly in the minority. [This was my favourite year of Aliona, I liked her bitchy/couldn't give a shit side - Rad] Meanwhile, the dance continues as Iveta is launched into the air on wires like this is the Dancing On Ice final or something, and almost garrottes Anton as she comes in to land. Now that would've been an ending. [This was a weird dance - was it meant to be Aljaž vs Anton fighting for Iveta's dance love or something? Also: no thanks, the Strictly singers - Rad]
Tess and Claudia enter, both in black since the atmosphere for a results show must by necessity be at least slightly funereal. Tess is wearing a sort of prom dress type thing that's maybe cut a fraction too short above the knee, while Claudia is dressed for parents' evening. They remind us that, even though it's Love Week, one couple must face heartbreak tonight. Coming up later: Andrea Bocelli will be doing some singing, the inevitable return of Len's Lens, and, y'know, the actual results.
However, before we get to all of that, we must review everything that happened last night. I have already covered the events of that particular evening in considerable detail, so I hope you'll forgive me if I only recap the new information at this point. So, with that in mind: the red-haired stage manager type is still hot (I know that's not exactly new information, but it never hurts to be reminded). Karen enthusiastically plants one on a terrified-looking Kevin backstage, what with it being Love Week and all. Fiona does a passable Cilla Black impression. Ben takes his shirt off (I'M JUST REPORTING THE FACTS OKAY?). The kissing continues, with Dave giving Mark a kiss on the cheek and a man-hug, and a shirtless James kissing Susanna, also on the cheek. Craig blows a kiss at the camera. Rachel admires Abbey's rear. (It's probably more impressive when Alja's isn't around to inspire unfair comparisons.) Anya kisses Pasha. Ben asks if Dave is wearing lipgloss, sounding slightly jealous. Bruce appears a little fatigued by Julien's "energy". People gurn a lot. The show starts.
Abbey says that she only cares what Alja thinks, and he thinks she did great. So apparently Abbey's whole "I'm so hard on myself and if I think I haven't performed to my best I will force myself to live on bread and mouldy cheese for a week" thing has a fairly sizeable caveat. Patrick and Anya think their dance went well. HURRY UP AND BE INTERESTING, BOTH OF YOU. ONE OF YOU. EITHER OF YOU, I DON'T CARE. Dave stamps a bit more backstage. Fiona is very relieved to have got at least one dance right. Rachel is fist-pumpingly pleased that she's getting slightly more positive feedback. Mark and Iveta remain chastely adorable. Ben and Kristina don't actually get to say anything. Sophie thinks that doing the samba was really fun. An exhausted Julien is pleased to have had his "best week yet". Susanna is a little bit overwhelmed, and also a tiny bit hammy about it. I think it's the Breakfast presenter side of her coming out. James hugs Vanessa, forgives her for her mistakes, and tells her not to do it again. Ashley and Ola decide that being called "filth" by Craig is a good thing. How could it not be? Natalie and Artem aren't even seen leaving the studio, let alone allowed to say anything new. Robin insists on getting a kiss from Deborah, since it's Love Week. Wait, it's Love Week? Why wasn't I informed of this? Len tells us that he loved Love Week, and no one disappointed him. You can tell it's still early in the season and the Dancing With The Stars jetlag hasn't quite kicked in yet, can't you?
Tess has got cards in her hand, so that can only mean one thing: HANDS UP IF YOU WANT TO PLAY UNO! Oh, my mistake, it means we're about to get the first set of results. In no particular order, the following couples are safe and will be back next week: Sophie & Brendan, Fiona & Anton, Ben & Kristina, Rachel & Pasha, Susanna & Kevin and Natalie & Artem. The first couple in the Dread Dance-Off, of course, is Julien & Janette. Let's not pretend anyone is surprised by that, least of all Julien or Janette. Julien's already at the Holly Valance stage of choosing to respond to bad news with laughter.
Tess asks Len what Julien and Janette can do to improve in the Dread Dance-Off, and Len advises them to just keep calm and carry on. Hey, that's a catchy turn of phrase. He should think about getting that printed on a tea towel or a set of fridge magnets. He advises Julien to get his kicks a little bit sharper, listen to the music and not go crazy. I think that advice is about 25 years too late, Len. Tess asks Julien how it feels to be here again despite getting his best score (out of three) for this dance, and Julien says that he's sort of prepared for it even though he's also sort of not, but he just wants to show everyone that he really wants to stay.
Meanwhile, Claudia's Counselling Circle is filled with our six survivors so far. I'd sort of forgotten the gender-imbalance of this series until I freeze-framed this and realise that Ben the only guy in a room (well, a "room") with six women. Also, that whole loose-collared-dress-shirt-with-unbuttoned-bow-tie works even less for me when a person sits down, apparently, because I'd be the first to say that Ben is a very handsome man, but right now it just makes him look like he's about five minutes away from vomiting Kronenbourg all over the floor and then falling asleep in it. Claudia asks Natalie if she's over the moon with all that positive feedback, and Natalie says she's very happy to be dancing again next week, because she had a long week and that rumba was really meaningful to her and all that jazz. Fiona and Claudia note that Natalie is welling up and immediately go into mum mode, while just to the left of them, Susanna laughs her head off. And that's why I'm Team Susanna, obviously. Fiona, meanwhile, is still thrilled to be here, and Susanna lets her live television instincts take over in such a way that she feels the need to fill any silence that occurs, and this manifests by her getting carried away in a award-acceptance style monologue on the theme of how awful it is that anyone has to leave, and maybe they should change the rules so everyone can stay. Look, Susanna, I think you're a great dancer and I plan to support you in this competition as long as is practicable, but if you think Rad and I have got the stamina to recap fourteen sodding couples every weekend between now and Christmas, then I'm afraid I am going to have to take Kevin hostage until you see sense. Obviously you understand that I am doing this solely to teach you a lesson, and I will derive absolutely no pleasure from the constant sight of his charming spectacles and delightful outfits.
Ahem. Anyway, it's time for some music now, courtesy of Andrea Bocelli, who is singing 'When I Fall In Love' for our entertainment while Aliona and Alja dance a canoodly American smooth-style routine in front of him. A bench features quite heavily in the routine, which means that Alja spends a large chunk of the dance sat down for the second time this week, and I can't help feeling that this is not the way to maintain the stunning form of his posterior. (Apparently Aliona choreographed that routine herself, by the way, so at least she got to go out on a high of sorts.) [And presumably with her pick of the male pros. Good on her! - Rad]
Then it's time for Len's Lens, everyone's
least favourite part of the week. We begin with a slo-mo shot of James and Ola caking Craig in the face (not a euphemism) and Ola pulling her very best Widow Twankey face in response. Len wants to open by discussing Sophie's samba rolls, which admittedly don't look quite so awesome in slo-mo, but then I imagine that wasn't Brendan's chief priority when he was choreographing it. Natalie's rumba gets played back, and Darcey says "BALLET BALLET BALLET BALLET" or whatever the actual words that she used were. Seriously, nobody told me I was going to have to learn ballet words when I started this blog. I've been to the ballet twice in an attempt to be cultured, and both times I was like "yes, yes, that's very nice, you dance very prettily but I got the plot of this scene ten minutes ago and it still hasn't moved on so can you hurry the fuck up please because the last tube is at 11:50 and we've still got two more acts to go". As a gift for Darcey, the next segment is all about Ashley's chest, and Darcey's commitment to the whole "mercy me, I can't concentrate with those nipples in my eyes" thing is as half-arsed as it was in the performance show. Equality insists that we then replay Ben kissing Craig, which Craig describes as a dream come true. Yeah, maybe, but it'll never be as good as this. Next, we talk about Dave's paso face, but I've already seen enough of that to last me a lifetime, so let's just move swiftly on. An interesting new fact that we do learn, however, is that Dave nearly faceplanted in all that dry ice during dress rehearsal, but he got up and carried on. What a trouper!
Back to Tess next to discover which of the remaining couples are safe. They are, in no particular order: Ashley & Ola, Abbey & Alja, Deborah & Robin, Mark & Iveta, Patrick & Anya and Dave & Karen. (I'm not sure you can call Dave "the people's champion" one minute and try to pretend that he's in danger of facing the Dread Dance-Off the next, but whatev.) This means that Vanessa and James are our other couple in the bottom two and at risk of going home. "Nobody wants to join me at this stage of the proceedings," intones Tess. Sure, this stage, or indeed any other stage. Craig tells Vanessa that she needs to hone in and focus the second time around, and not mess up. Tess asks Vanessa what's going through her mind right now, and Vanessa says "those very words: don't mess it up". James tells her to just enjoy it, and Vanessa shrugs that at least she gets one last chance to dance with James.
The other six saved celebs - a little more testosterone-heavy this time - are now with Claudia, who reveals that Abbey has called this process "the worst thing she's ever been through". And Abbey did a series with Janice Dickinson. Dave says that he was "sweating like a dumpling in a stockpot" and that he thought he "might have overcooked it". You think? Claudia turns to Deborah and tells her how much she loves her safe-face, because everyone else looks pleased but Deborah looks like she's going to be sick. I can totally relate, that's how I would feel too. Deborah says that she thinks she's going home every week. Claudia asks Ashley if this is his dream night, since he's got a new baby, good scores from the judges, and Darcey keeps talking about his abdomen. Ashley says he was just wondering what he was going to tell his little boy if Daddy wasn't going to be dancing any more. You can cut that shit out right now, Taylor Dawson. I had enough of it last week on The X Factor. Your unwillingness to break bad news to your child is no concern of mine.
Time for a trailer for It Takes Two, in which Zoe plays Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and the tornado transports her to the ITT studio. I'm beginning to think they have slightly too much money in the kitty if they can afford to do this. JUST PLAY SOME CLIPS.
Claudia's with the bottom two, and Julien says that he hopes it'll be second time lucky for him, and that he will try to stay calm and remain in control and enjoy himself. While they head to the dance floor, Claudia consoles Vanessa who admits that she's sad to be at risk of elimination but happy that she'll get to dance with James at least one more time. Well, yes, but being safe would've meant you'd get to dance with James at least twice more. Then again, she's clearly upset so maybe this isn't the time for nitpicking.
Julien and Janette reprise their jive. It's more or less the same as it was last time, though I do think Julien is trying to take the judges' comments on board - I suspect he's at least trying to point his feet more even if he's not entirely getting there. Still, I enjoy his enthusiasm and his energy and what I genuinely believe is the right attitude to the competition, however deeply buried it may be.
Then Vanessa and James reprise their tango, and I admire Vanessa's focus in keeping it together to get through the routine a second time when doing it once was clearly a bit of a challenge. It still has most of the problems from the first time, sadly - her face is blank and her upper torso too flimsy, but I believe she does manage to correct a couple of mis-steps from the first time around.
It's time for the judges to decide who to save, and they do so largely without explanation or fanfare: Craig, Darcey and Bruno all vote to keep Julien and Janette, so Vanessa and James are going home. Julien and Janette actually remember to acknowledge and hug the departing couple this week, so that's another house point for the chart. (Strictly Stat: this is the earliest James has ever been eliminated from the contest, beating the four weeks he lasted with Georgina Bouzova in series four.) Len says that he thinks Vanessa danced better the second time around, but he would've still saved Julien and Janette. Vanessa's disappointed, but professional, and smiles her way through her speech about how much she's enjoyed being part of the show and thanking everyone for having her. She says that her highlight was dancing the waltz last week, because it was very romantic, and the audience claps over the entire thing so most of it is inaudible. James tells Vanessa that he thought they were going to argue "because I'm very feisty" (LOLLERSKATES) "and I've heard you've been very feisty before", but she's a WONDERFUL SWEET LADY and he's had a great time. [And if we eliminate a woman in Week 2 it won't be so obvious that this is the year of the woman, will it? WILL IT? - Strictly producers]
Next week it is officially No-Theme Week, and Rad will be here to shepherd you through it. I'll be back in a fortnight for what I assume will be Halloween week, meanwhile I'll leave you with James and Vanessa dancing to the frankly cruel soundtrack of Boyz II Men's 'End Of The Road'. Enjoy!