It's Remembrance Sunday (thanks Simon!), so inevitably the results show opens with a sepia-filtered dance number for the pros paying tribute to those who gave their lives to fight in the war. (I wonder how they'd feel if they knew that part of their legacy 100 years down the line would be sentimentalised group dances on a light entertainment show and an annual row about TV presenters not wearing poppies?) The female pros are workers in a munitions (at least I assume) factory, with Iveta as the supervisor, staring lovingly at a framed picture of Anton while she waits for news from the front. The idea that Anton would be found fit for military service is possibly the biggest issue for my suspension of disbelief here. (Also, just as an aside, they're dancing to 'Stuff Like That There', which will always for me be the song that gave Kelly Clarkson the moment that basically won American Idol for her right there and then.) Iveta doesn't appear to be very good at her job because everyone's slacking - though at least Aliona, Kristina, Natalie and Ola are trying to look like they're working. Joanne is reading the paper, Janette's just slouching on a desk and Karen's reading a letter from her sweetheart. Not that it really matters, because ultimately they all decided to junk it off and do a jitterbug instead, as I understand was often the practice in wartime. Then all the male pros arrive in service uniforms, and whisk the ladies off for a dance. It's enjoyable enough, and thankfully it's not too on-the-nose for a wartime-themed routine - it's nice to see one where the women are the stars and the men are basically just decoration. (And very nice decoration too, because damn those uniform trousers are tight. Then again, all the trousers seem to be tight this year. Vicky Gill knows her audience.)
The pros disperse, and Tess and Zoe arrive - both dressed in black, as befits a sombre occasion [Poor Claudia. I hope her daughter recovers soon. Oh, the OTHER sombre occasion. - Rad]. We're reminded once again that this is the highly important occasion that determines which couple will not join us in BLACKPOOL next week. The judges are brought back on, and Len and Bruno skip on arm-in-arm, making me wonder exactly how much free sherry was available in the green room between shows. Once again, Darcey is wearing a very short and very tight dress so we'll probably all be her honorary gynaecologist during Len's Lens again. Forewarned is forearmed and all that. Oh, and Katherine Jenkins will be here later, so have your finger poised on the mute button.
The recap of Saturday night features numerous references to BLACKPOOL, Jake saying that he's the captain of a boat (ship, Jake. Ship. Don't make me come down there and explain the difference between a ship and a boat to you) [A ship is what involves us imagining Jake having some fun with, let's say Aljaz. A boat is cockney for face. An EastEnder should know that - Rad]. The summaries given for certain dances are interesting: Alison's charleston is portrayed with mostly positive comments, as is Steve's paso, while Sunetra's and Jake's setbacks are highlighted. You probably don't need me to tell you how they present Judy. We see Frankie wiping a tear on her way up to the Ballcony, which I admit I missed in yesterday's recap and can only apologise, though Frankie later explains that it was nothing to do with Craig and she just "lost her bearings" (what, from the dancefloor to the Ballcony?). Also having her negative critiques highlighted? Caroline, which is an early indicator that things are not destined to go her way this evening. We get to see Simon being excited about his nines some more, and Pixie and Trent celebrating their first 10 (Donny or otherwise).
Tess has got the cards in her hand, but we're not getting results just yet - first there's a quick glimpse of the leaderboard, and Zoe's planted in the audience next to Jo Joyner from EastEnders and Caroline's mum Christine. Did Caroline not get the memo? (Also, positioned immediately to Zoe's right but apparently not getting to speak tonight: This Morning's Matt Johnson, who's presumably there supporting Alison.) Zoe points out Jo's conflict of interests because as well as being Jake's ex-screen-wife, she was also in No Angels with Sunetra. Zoe asks Jo if she's feeling torn in her loyalties, and Jo says she was for a bit, but now she's backing the girls. Heh. Christine says that she thought Caroline was fabulous last night. I'm beginning to think that Mumchat is not really worth the price of admission sometimes.
Over to Tess now with the first set of results. The following four couples are unequivocally safe and going to BLACKPOOL: Frankie and Kevin (obnoxious screaming from Kevin), Sunetra and Brendan (muted joy from Brendan, apparent shock from Sunetra), Steve and Ola (Ola squeals and jumps for joy and hugs Steve, so apparently their working dynamic isn't that irrevocably tarnished) and Mark and Karen (both make an unseemly amount of noise). The first couple facing the dance-off? Alison and Aljaž. They sprint over to Tess, and Ola reaches out and pats Aljaž on the arm as he rushes past, which I thought was rather sweet. Maybe she's not a demonic bullying monster after all!
Tess asks Alison if she's disappointed, and Alison says that she won't pretend she's not gutted, but "it's one of those things" and "somebody's got to go in the bottom" (hurr hurr). Tess goes to Darcey for guidance, and Darcey advises Alison to just give that joie de vivre that she gave the first time round.
Zoe's got the four safe couples up on the Ballcony, where Sunetra says that she only ever went to BLACKPOOL in the past for candy floss and donkey rides, whereas now if she wants to see an ass and a load of sickly sugar she can just watch Mark and Karen. There follows possibly the most ill-advised moment of the entire series (and that includes choreographing a tango to 'Defying Gravity') where Zoe gives Mark an opportunity to respond to Kevin's impression of him from last week. Mark opens by going off-script and telling Frankie it's fine to cry (Frankie shoots back "that's why I was a bit embarrassed, Mark", which is not bad for off-the-cuff shade), and then attempts an impression of Kevin which a) sounds nothing like Kevin, b) doesn't actually sound like words that Kevin would say, and c) goes for "Grimsby" via "Yorkshire" and "Groundskeeper Willie".
Everyone guffaws politely at this, even though it was terrible, which is probably all the indication that you need that this show is fully behind trying to Make Mark Wright Happen. I grow more convinced with each passing week that he is probably going to oust one of the Big Four from the final (my money's on Caroline, with an outside possibility of Pixie), and all I can say that if he does get that far, then I will be powervoting so hard for whoever has the best chance of beating him, because I will not stand idly by and let another Clancy happen. Not two years in a row.
Oh, and Steve says some stuff about how much he really likes his jacket.
Obligatory Remembrance Sunday Stuff: some of the Strictly stars go to Trafalgar Square to collect money for the British Legion. Darcey gives us some spiel about the Everyman statue that serves as a tribute to all of the men (and women, although given that it's called Everyman and not Everyperson I'm guessing the women were a rather late addition to the briefing). The Everyman statue is in a see-through container with poppies blowing all around it and making the whole thing look a bit like The Crystal Maze. Everyone gets to the serious business of collecting for the Poppy Appeal, but Mark makes time to stop and tell the cameras how he just never thought he'd be any good at charity collecting, little Marky No Poppies, etc etc. Frankie mentions that her granddad was in the navy, and Simon looks faintly terrified when cornered by a woman who wants to talk about how this means a lot to her family because her grandfather was captured as a POW at Passchendaele, so all Simon can do is put his arm around her slightly awkwardly and murmur how it means a lot to all of them as well. Then they do a bit of dancing with the assembled tribute-payers, and Darcey declares the whole experience wonderful.
Back in the studio, it's time for Katherine Jenkins to sing 'We'll Gather Lilacs'. I'm sorry, but I've already put myself through Mark Wright this weekend, I'm not sitting through Katherine bloody Jenkins singing like she's gargling Listerine with her nose as well. No, I don't care that Pasha and Ola are waltzing to it. *fast-forwards*
Once that's over, there's still no light at the end of the tunnel as next we must endure Len's Lens. Educational content: Caroline done a développé, Alison done some trenches, Steve done a thrust. Then Zoe accuses Len of twerking at the end of Saturday's show (whatever he was doing, Darcey was making sure she got an eyeful of it. GET IT GURL). Len would like to discuss Jake's arms in his rumba, and Len explains how important the thumb is, and also suggests in some sort of roundabout way that Jake's arms are ungrammatical, which is a bit rich coming from Len. Darcey gushes about Pixie's reverse attitude turn for a bit without ever really saying why she broke the 10 out. Craig discusses the gapping in Sunetra's foxtrot and how in an ideal world she should be conjoined with Brendan. Then we have the obligatory slo-mo shot of Bruno wafting his arms around, and we get a sneak preview of the judges in animated form for their forthcoming Children in Need appearance.
The cards are on the table - or rather, they're in Tess's hands - so let's see who else is in the dance-off. Definitely booked on the coach to BLACKPOOL are: Judy and Anton (Judy's jaw positively unhinges with surprise), Pixie and Trent (quiet relief), Simon and Kristina (Kristina makes enough noise for the both of them), and Jake and Janette (humble thumbs-up and thanks), which means Caroline and Pasha are in the dance-off. Pasha kisses Caroline on the forehead, and honestly I'd quite happily be in the dance-off every week if that's what follows.
Tess asks Caroline how she's feeling, and Caroline is BREEZY, and pleased that she gets to dance a favourite dance again. Tess asks Len if they should work on getting the rise and fall in that he said they lacked earlier, and Len says "no, don't be silly, just get out there and dance, we're going to save you regardless". Not content with that, he goes on about how the British "like an underdog, but I think more we like justice, and there's no justice you being here." I get that that was meant to be reassurance to Caroline, but I'm a bit sick of Len telling me who I can and cannot vote for at this point, because it's not like Len hasn't:
a) dragged Lisa Snowdon well beyond the level that she would've reached on natural talent alone, throwing Austin under the bus in the process
b) routinely overmarked people just for being SPORTSMEN
c) deliberately undermarked Kara twice just to win a pissing contest with Artem
d) been as guilty as anyone else on the panel this year of artificially inflating Mark's scores on more than one occasion
e) said he would have saved Scott Mills in last week's dance off because he did more foxtrot than Alison even though Alison wasn't meant to be doing a foxtrot
So what I'm saying here is we're all guilty of playing favourites and voting with our hearts instead of our heads, but only one of us, Leonard, is actually being paid to give an unbiased judgement based on our expertise. So in conclusion, turn up, put up, and shut up, and don't fucking try to tell me I can't vote for Judy Murray if I damn well want to.
Up on the Ballcony, Pixie wasn't expecting to get a 10, and also I'm struck by now much her inflection reminds me of Jess from New Girl. Judy hints that her routine may involve a kite next week, and Zoe reveals that Simon will be doing the first Argentine tango of the series. In BLACKPOOL. Jake is not addressed.
And speaking of BLACKPOOL, let's all treat ourselves to a poorly-acted VT where everyone talks about BLACKPOOL! It involves everyone singing along to 'I Do Like To Be Besides The Seaside', where it turns out that Pasha's singing is about as good as his acting (<3) and then it ends with some lulz as Sunetra goes to Paris by accident because she went to the wrong tower. Cuh! Women drivers, EH LADZ?
Zoe and Tess are on the Ballcony/Tess Circle with Caroline and Pasha and Alison and Aljaž. Caroline says that she doesn't think she gave the waltz her best the first time around, so she's quite glad she's getting another shot at it, and Pasha says that he just wants her to melt into the dance. Wink at her again, Pasha, that should sort that out. They head down to the dancefloor, while Tess talks to Alison who says that she doesn't really want to perform this dance again because it's so very fast, but she's just got to do it. Aljaž says he'd love to take Alison to BLACKPOOL, but they've just got to go out there and have fun tonight.
Caroline and Pasha reprise their dance - I'd say it's perhaps a little shakier than the first time, and Caroline doesn't do the reverse-attitude-turn-or-whatever-it-was thing at the end. Alison and Aljaž perform their charleston again, and her energy has dipped a bit since the first outing, but she makes a better fist of supporting Aljaž during the assisted handstand, and it's still delivered with all the pizzazz that Alison always brings. At the end, Caroline and Pasha come over to join them (Pasha actually jazz-handses his way over, which is adorable) and it's hugs all round before they get into position to await their fate. (We don't get to see Pasha and Aljaž hugging, but I'm just going to assume that it happened and nobody can take that away from me.)
Over to the judges then, and it's a clean sweep for Caroline and Pasha, as expected. Tess asks Alison if she's gutted not to make it to BLACKPOOL, and Alison says that Caroline was amazing tonight and she wants her to make it all the way to the finals, and that everyone on the show is amazing, and she's coming to BLACKPOOL anyway whether anyone else likes it or not. Heh. She finishes by saying that anybody considering doing the show should totally do it, regardless of what colour or size they are. Because those are the two things stopping me from competing in Strictly 2015: my colour and my size. Alison adds that she felt like she'd won anyway when she got paired with Aljaž, and thanks him for being so patient and kind and she loves him as a friend. Aljaž says he can't describe how much fun they've had together, and gets all choked up saying that he's going to miss seeing Alison in rehearsals, and that this definitely won't be their last dance.
Zoe reminds us to tune in to her other show on Monday to hear Alison's exit interview, while Tess teases the Children In Need special with extra added Brucie on Friday. Alison and Aljaž have their last on-show dance to 'Miss You Like Crazy'. The post-show chats reveal that Caroline and Alison were good mates, Steve, Mark and Sunetra wistfully reminiscing about the laughter and joy that Alison brought to any room she was in, and Jake, Frankie and Judy talking about BLACKPOOL. Frankie's crying a bit again, bless her.
Next week: BLACKPOOL. Remember to kiss Rad quick and squeeze her slowly.