Sunday, 20 December 2015

Jay walks it

Week 13: The Final (Part 2) - 19 December 2015

So, after an episode of Casualty featuring Sean Hughes, La Prenj and Dr Browning from Hollyoaks, and a Lottery update in which Ore Oduba seemed to have insider knowledge that Frankie Bridge finished in second place last year (I'm kidding, off-hand remarks on other shows are not canon, don't write in) we're back in the ballroom. The top four are all dressed ready to perform their couples' choice dances (Jay - paso, Georgia - charleston, Kellie - also charleston, Katie - Viennese waltz) and Tess reminds us that one of them will have changed clothes for no reason because one couple is about to finish in fourth place.

Special Truncated Top-Four-Only Final Titles!

Tess and Claudia have also changed outfits: Claudia is wearing a strangely summery burgundy strapless dress, and Tess is inexplicably wearing an Ellen DeGeneres-style white trouser suit [I thought she looked great, however unlikely an outfit choice it was - Rad]. Claudia confirms that the vote is frozen (and has been ever since Prenj was wheeled into Holby City A&E, more or less) so we must not vote now, as our votes will not count but we may still be charged. Which is also true if at any point you voted for someone other than Jay. I'm suddenly nervous for Kellie here, because while I think she easily did enough to propel herself past fourth place in the main show (and her odds came in impressively during the break to the point where she breezed past Georgia into second place), she has not yet proven herself to have any sort of reliable fanbase (even last week, it's mathematically possible for her to have been bottom of the public vote) and she is also dressed as Princess Leia Organa, and to have to leave dressed like that for no good reason would be kind of humiliating.

Tess teases an upcoming performance from Ellie Goulding and the reunion performance for the class of 2015, but before we get to the results, it's time for our behind-the-scenes glimpse from earlier. Len declares it "the tightest final ever", making it a whole 12 months since he last said that, Katie describes the whole atmosphere backstage as "fantastic" and Georgia declares this the biggest night of her life. Aliona congratulates Jay on recovering from his quickstep mistakes, Georgia says something that sounds like "fantastic" in response to her rumba feedback but it all happens so quickly it's impossible to be sure, Kellie screams about getting 40, Katie shrugs off her quickstep, Aliona has loved every little second with Jay, Giovanni is really proud of Georgia, Kellie is having her best day ever, and Anton declares Katie's showdance "epic". There wasn't really a lot of notable backstage action this week, was there?

Tess has got her cue cards, so someone's going home. The couple with the fewest votes, finishing in fourth place, is...Katie and Anton. The top three applaud her, Katie blows kisses to her family, and Katie's Awesome Daughter Natasha is seen saying something to her dad which might well be "fair enough". Tess tells Katie she is "leaving as a finalist with your head held high", and Katie says she can't quite believe that she's here in the final, having descended from the ceiling "in a spangly box, like a pop star". She's absolutely chuffed to bits, and declares it the right decision for her to be leaving now, and I like that I can totally believe that she honestly feels that way. Katie thanks Anton for teaching her to dance, and says that he's had to put up with some bumps in the road, but he's been very patient, and she will be forever grateful to him. We look back over Katie's Best Bits, which strangely don't include her surprisingly competent week one jive, but her undoubted highlight is being at the top of the leaderboard in week 4 with her Viennese waltz because no one will ever be able to take that away from her. Katie thanks everyone one last time and heads up to the read-only section of the ballroom in the Clauditorium.

Trying to get things back on track, Tess reminds us of the three couples still remaining, but pauses for applause after each one and none comes until she gets to Kellie and Kevin at the end. (This is clearly just the audience being off their game rather than an indication of who's got support, but it does make me giggle when I think of that DS poster earlier this year who claimed that they had to move Jay to the end when they introduce all the couples at the beginning of the show, because the screams for him were just so much louder than they were for everyone else and it was making everyone who walked on after him look bad...and then everybody else pointed out that Jay had always been the penultimate person to walk out anyway and therefore became the last one by default after Kirsty - who had been the only person walking out after him - got eliminated.) Claudia informs us that the vote has been re-opened, and that the totals from earlier have been carried over as well.

Up next to perform their favourite(ish) routine of the series, it's Jay and Aliona, who will be reprising their paso doble. Do you know, at the start of the week, the one thing I wanted more than anything else was for nobody to do a paso in the final, because at that point Anita had the highest score for it, and I thought that, considering she was pretty undermarked for the most part, it would be nice for her to at least have one highest-score to her name at the end of the series. And I thought she'd be pretty safe, because obviously Jay would do his jive and obviously Georgia would do her charleston, and obviously Katie would do her Viennese waltz and...well, I wasn't sure what Kellie was going to do but I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be her paso. And then this happened. THANKS A LOT, JAY. [WHY this?  His tango was also way better even if he wasn't going to reprise the jive.  Even his rumba would have done, I guess.  Not only was Anita robbed, I feel we were robbed as an audience of seeing the winner doing one of his best dances, because there was nothing memorable about his paso - Rad]

In his VT, Jay says he thought doing Strictly would just be all showbiz, and he didn't realise just how much blood, sweat and tears would be involved, and that was just the time that somebody posted the wrong bottom two on the Digital Spy spoiler thread. Jay and Aliona were very excited to be paired, and Jay says that they got on really well because they were both so similar. Aliona calls Jay "the best dance partner [she's] ever had" for about the ninetieth time this week. Justice for Tony Jacklin! Did you not appreciate that free trip to Florida you got out of it?! Looking back at his opening cha cha cha, Jay thinks he looked "like this huge mountain of hair". Then the haircut happened, then the Holy Jive happened, and then this basically became a fight to see who got to finish joint-runner-up to Jay. Jay says that Strictly has made his mum more proud of him than ever, though we should probably bear in mind that prior to this his main claim to fame was being the one at the back in the boyband mostly notable for all having different-shaped faces. Speaking of which, Rhombus and Square turn up to say how proud they are of him. Oval--sorry, "Jay"--says that being able to lift the glitterball would be an amazing end to his journey.

So, why hasn't Jay picked the jive for this round? Well, it's because he and Aliona really wanted people to be begging them to do the jive all week, pleeease do the jive Jay, it's the best dance Jay, it won't be the final without it Jay it was such a perfect moment the first time, they already did it the best they could possibly do it, and they wanted to pick a dance they could improve on. What absolute horseshit. Just do the fucking jive, princess, because it's what the people want to see. Honestly, I've had a long time to reconcile myself to Jay winning this series, and I've mostly been fine with it because he's done some good dances, particularly but not limited to The Holy Jive, but I really went right off him this week after he and Aliona spent their entire stint on It Takes Two disappearing right up their own arses about not sullying The Holy Jive by performing it again. What sort of champion doesn't want to perform their most famous dance again because they don't think they can do it as well as they did the first time? And sure, I'm cross because Anita's going to lose the 'highest scoring paso of the series' title in about three minutes' time, but I'm also cross because nobody wanted to see Bon Paso again anyway, so stop being so goddamn self-indulgent and do the fucking jive, you twit.

My pleas fall on deaf ears, so we have to see their paso to 'It's My Life' again. I would recap it, but you know what? I already recapped it once, and I recapped it to the best of my ability, and I really don't think I could improve on that recap, so I'm not going to recap it again. Instead, I'm going to recap this piece of toast. What a lovely piece of toast. I'm spreading Bertolli Light on it, and then some Marmite. I put it on a plate without cutting the toast. Then I pour myself a refreshing glass of milk, and I eat the lovely toast, which is delicious, occasionally stopping to drink the milk. It's not as technically precise as I would have liked (crumbs all around my mouth, for starters), but it's still very enjoyable. And that was my piece of toast. I know you came here to read my recap of Jay's paso, you guys, and I'm sorry, but I just have to be true to myself as an artist.

Len says that Jay has been the most consistent of all the contestants (like that time he scored 37 for his jive and then one week later scored 25 for his quickstep? Okay Len) because he's just given his all to every dance. This was powerful, aggressive and clean, and Len's loved watching Jay dance. Bruno says it was more loaded with power and artistry than ever, and Jay has perhaps the best arm movements he's ever seen on the show. Craig tells Jay that he had no personality when he started, and now he has drive, passion and he dances brilliantly. I mean, still none of those things are a personality Craig, but let's just get on, I've got places to go. Darcey loved the confidence that he brought onto the dancefloor, and declares him "number one in my book" [by virtue of having a penis - Rad].

Jay heads up to the Clauditorium where Claudia reminds him that at the beginning of the competition he was so scared he couldn't even talk to anyone, but look what he just did. Jay jokes that he's heavily tranquilised, and says that whatever happens now, that was the perfect end for him. Scores: Craig 9, Darcey 10, Len 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 39. #justiceforanita

Georgia and Giovanni are to follow that with their Chicago-themed charleston, and Chicago may or may not be Georgia's favourite song/movie/country this week, Tess doesn't actually clarify. Georgia has loved being on Strictly and will never forget it - her highs included being top of the leaderboard with her charleston, and her lows included being in the dance-off in the quarter-final. She's been quite surprised with her progress because, coming into the show, she thought she would be all about the latin and crap at ballroom, and indeed her week two waltz didn't go terribly well, but then she had a transformative moment in her ballroom with her American smooth in Blackpool. She says she's not used to getting instant reactions from an audience "being an actress in TV", but now that she's experienced it she wants to go into theatre. Georgia's proud parents appear, and her mum says that Georgia "bursts my heart" (aww), and Georgia hopes she could repay their faith in her by winning the competition. She tells us once again that she and her Joe Varney have been like brother and sister, including the occasional fight, and she really wants to do her charleston again because that was the point when she really started to feel like a dancer. She got 39 the first time around, but she knows she can do it better. You hear that, Jay? 39 first time around, and she knows she can do it better.

So Georgia and Giovanni do their charleston to 'Hot Honey Rag' once again, and I'm glad that they at least have an idea of how to end on a crowdpleaser because this is absolutely the one I would have voted for them to reprise. If I'm honest, I've always found Georgia a little bit dull even when I've been marvelling at the beauty of her performances, but she just completely comes alive in this one - the energy and joy absolutely shines out of her, and it's the perfect marriage of choreography and personality. She's absolutely fearless here too, hurling herself into some dangerous lifts and looking completely relaxed the whole way through. Watching this through for a second time, I'm actually getting goosebumps, it's that good. Let's just put it this way: Georgia's mum isn't the only one welling up when it's over. Well-played, Georgia May Foote. Well-played indeed.

Bruno tells them this was a "sparkling cracker of a charleston", and she's taken all of the Fosse references and put them in the right place and made them her own. She's really shown how she's grown as a dancer and a performer with great range. Craig tells her she has been extraordinary, and he thinks she's had one of the biggest journeys on the programme, from being a little bit insecure to learning how to tell stories through dance, and he would be very, very proud to put her into "any of my West End shows". Georgia cries with joy, and I assume she's trying to figure out if this legally constitutes a binding verbal contract. How many West End shows does Craig actually have, though? Darcey says it was full of "the naughty little Georgia that we like", not that she's patronising her at all, and she nailed it. Len says that he wrote down "pure joy" as she was dancing, and he calls her "a little fireball". He says that if he's ever asked what makes a terrific charleston, he's going to tell people to watch this one. Yeah, take that Hollins!

Georgia runs up to the Clauditorium, using her hat to hide her tear-stained face (hee), and Claudia cautions Georgia to make sure she watches Craig's shows before she signs any contracts. Ha! (Helen absolutely cracks up at this, which makes me laugh even more.) Claudia checks where Giovanni's crying, and he insists he isn't. He says he's so proud of Georgia for being amazing at dancing everything, including the charlesssston. Scores: Craig 10, Darcey 10, Len 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 40. Anything less would've been a crime. Georgia says that's a fantastic way to finish, and Giovanni says that he is over, over, over, OVER the moon. Bless.

The last couple of the series to dance is Kellie and Kevin. Also doing a charleston. After that. Now, I loved Kellie's Star Wars charleston, I think it was a good choice of dance to go out on in light of recent pop cultural events, I'm delighted we get to see it again...but the running order absolutely did her in here, because having to follow Georgia's perfect-score charleston with one that's a lot sillier and more knockabout is, I imagine, going to do serious damage to Kellie's momentum. Ah well. She was never going to win anyway. [Shame they didn't reprise this in show one and their AS in show two as that was a proper showstopping, pandering for votes number - Rad]

In her VT, Kellie says that doing Strictly is one of the best things she's ever done, and Kevin says they've just genuinely had a brilliant time. One of Kellie's personal highlights was Blackpool, because she got to dance with five boys instead of one, and Kevin praises Kellie for just running with whatever daft idea he had on any given week. He thinks she's been the perfect partner. Kellie loved getting to do some proper Fred 'n' Ginge for her American smooth, and she feels so lucky that she got to do this show with Kevin Clifton of the Grimsby Cliftons. She wells up a little bit when she thinks about how much Kevin has given her (phrasing), even to the point of holding her up when she was too exhausted to stand, and he never raised his voice or got cross with her. Danny Dyer says she deserves to win, "no disrespect to none of the other finalists", and Kellie's cute husband says that she's amazing and he's very proud of her. They've chosen their charleston to close their time on the show because they had so much fun doing it, and it feels like a fitting end because they get to be überdorks one last time. Kellie says that as far as she's concerned, they're winners whatever happens. Which is just as well.

So they charleston one last time to 'Cantina Band' (which is apparently actually called 'Mad About Me' - who knew?), and I still love this routine. I love the way they flip a switch and turn from serious intergalactic rebels into goofy charleston dancers, I love the little performance accents that they give it, I love the shit-eating grins they both have as they do a little shimmy right down the camera, I love how the whole thing really doesn't make any sense at all and yet is somehow completely compelling all the same. My only reservations are that they're still not quite synchronised in some of the side-by-side sections, and that I still feel that the dance fizzles out a little bit - the final lift is very anticlimactic, and I rather hoped that, since this would be the close of the series as far as the performances were concerned, Kevin might have made it into something more snazzy. But, as ever, I understand that Kellie has two jobs and is exhausted and that there probably just wasn't time.

Kellie's overjoyed and, I think, mostly relieved when it's all over and Karen's welling up again on the balcony. Tess asks if they could be worthy winners based on that, and Craig says that everyone in the final now deserves it. Judicious use of "now" there, Craig. He thinks Kellie is one of the most exciting performers on the show, and her energy and commitment have been extraordinary. Darcey calls her the princess of precision, and was impressed once again with the precision and synchronicity of the performance, and calls it "perfection". Len says that he loves watching them, they bring joy to his heart, and he thinks Kellie deserves to win. Bruno says that this was even better the second time around because he could appreciate the wit, the inventiveness and the attention to detail. He's loved the quirky details they've been putting in all season, and the way they've continued to surprise him all series long. He thinks she can deliver the ace when she's required to, and that's worthy of a champion.

They force themselves up to the Clauditorium, where Kellie says that she loves Len too, and she adds there were a few dances she considered choosing - with Kevin adding that she tried to get him to do 'Boom! Shake The Room' - but this one just felt like it summed them up somehow. She thinks that the whole experience won't hit her until it's over and she can sit back with a cup of tea, but it's been wonderful and she's loved every single second of it. Scores are in: Craig 9, Darcey 10, Len 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 39. Kellie says she's very happy with that, but there are shouts within the Clauditorium that it was undermarked. (I don't think so, there's no way they could've marked it on a par with Georgia's, and I say that as someone who voted for Kellie to win nine times.)

Final, irrelevant leaderboard?

1. Kellie & Kevin - 40 + 40 + 39 = 119
2. Georgia & Giovanni - 36 + 36 + 40 = 112
3. Jay & Aliona - 36 + 35 + 39 = 110

Claudia tells everyone to grab their favourite prop from the series as she reads the terms and conditions one last time, and Jamelia and Kirsty realise they don't have any props within reach, so they just grab each other. Heh.

After a recap of all of our top three's performances, it's time to find out what the public liked best about this year's show in a filler VT. They included: the porn train, Daniel O'Donnell's quiff, Jeremy's dad dancing, the new pros, Gleb, the Gleb Special, the thought of being held by Giovanni, Oti even though she went out early, Movie Week, Peter Andre being sexy, Kirsty dressing up as a dog, The Holy Jive, Blackpool, Anita's paso, Anton making the final, the female celebrities in general, Carol living her best life, Helen George being lush, Jamelia being a trouper despite her dance-off woes, Musicals Week, Georgia's paso, watching with their grans, Darcey, Craig mellowing, Len's one-liners, Bruno falling off his chair, thinking about Strictly 2016. (Imagine your actual highlight of the series being Georgia's paso, though. Imagine.)

Then in "sing up, luv" corner we have Ellie Goulding performing 'Love Me Like You Do' and somehow managing to be nearly inaudible despite singing right into a microphone. Thank goodness Oti and Gleb and Aljaž and Janette are here to do some showboating right in front of her and make this somehow not a waste of everyone's time.

And that's it - Tess declares the lines officially closed, so while the independent adjudicators tot up just how many million votes Jay has won by, it's time for us to check back in with the class of 2015. Anita says that nothing in her life could have prepared her for Strictly, and Helen can only barely remember stepping off The Porn Train during the launch show. Anthony felt like a star for a little while. Kirsty remembers being scared as the partners were being handed out, and Anita remembers wanting to be partnered with Gleb when she first saw him, while Carol wanted Pasha from the off. Ainsley remembers how hard the working was, and Jamelia remembers doubting her dance ability on the first day of training. Peter recalls being stressed every Monday worrying if he was ever going to get the routine, and Kirsty now has a Pavlovian fear of Alan Dedicoat's voice. Anthony remembers his trousers splitting during his jive, Carol remembers forgetting her cha cha cha, Jamelia remembers being desperate for validation, Ainsley longs to drag all the judges into the kitchen and tell them they're chopping an onion wrong. Peter remembers getting his first 10 from Len, Jamelia loved getting into character for the theme weeks, Helen particularly loved being Marilyn Monroe for movie week. Peter still gets kids telling him that they loved him as Captain Jack Sparrow. (Yes, Peter actually mentioned kids without telling us that he loves his. Perhaps he really is evolving.) Daniel loved being Danny Zukko with his Tea-Birds, Carol loved having two Pashas fighting over her for Hallowe'en VT purposes, and Jeremy realises how sad he was after he got eliminated because he'd had so much fun. Everyone loved each other and nobody wanted to see anyone go home, and Anita thinks she's one of the luckiest people on Earth because she's one of the few to have "the Strictly experience" and she will treasure it forever. Daniel tries to mimic Craig's "fab-u-lous" and sounds so very bored, and then everyone tries to sum up the experience in one word: Jamelia goes for "rollercoaster", Anthony for "exciting", Ainsley for "unique", Carol for "exhilarating", Daniel for "amazing", Kirsty for "incredible", Jeremy for "overpowering", Peter for "fantabadosa", Anita for "exhausting", Helen for "unforgettable" and Iwan for "fabulous". I wonder how many of them picked a word someone else had already chosen and had to come up with another one, like on Family Fortunes.

That seems like as good a cue as any for the class of 2015 to return to the floor, doesn't it? They're dancing ("dancing", in some cases, with thanks as ever to Jamelia for the sarcasm-quotes) to 'Do You Love Me' by the Contours, and it starts with Daniel, sitting in the Clauditorium and weeping over a pillow with Kristina's face on it and Iwan doing the same to one of Ola, with Ainsley offering them each a tissue. Well, you could certainly read this little tableau in more than one way, couldn't you? Then Pasha, Gleb, Tristan, Jeremy, Brendan and Aljaž appear, and it could just be the camera position, but it looks as though Iwan accidentally hits Aljaž in the face. They lip-sync to the chorus and part to reveal Ola doing her final dance EVER on the show atop the chairs and Iwan doing the worm. Anthony throws a few punches inside a mocked-up boxing ring with Oti, Karen, Janette, Joanne and Natalie dancing around, and I'm no doctor but I still don't think his shoulder has fully recovered. Daniel skips by apparently doing some sort of ceilidh with Kristina, and then the music transitions into 'I Only Want To Be With You' as Ainsley stands by the judges' desk while Tristan, Aljaž and Gleb wave cards with green peppers and red tomatoes on them. Gleb clearly has no idea what any of this means and is just grinning his way through it, and I love him for it. Brendan and Kirsty chomp on the same strand of spaghetti, but thankfully Kirsty is not dressed as a dog this time. Carol holds up a glittery umbrella while Gleb, Aljaž and Tristan conga past and chuck glitter at her (life goals, right here) and then Pasha descends on a cloud again! Jeremy rides in on a horse pushed by Brendan and Tristan and attempts to lasso Karen, but pulls in Craig instead, brandishing his 3 paddle. Then, in possibly my favourite part of the whole routine, Jamelia leads all the female pros (minus Aliona, of course) in a 'Proud Mary' jive and even does an assisted somersault with Tristan, and then Peter just gets across the stage. Hee. Helen swoops in to be borne aloft by Aljaž and Anita gets one last Gleb Special and then finally everybody assembles for a dramatic end pose. You know, it really was a good cast this year. [Except Iwan.  And Antony's shoulder. - Rad]

We go from that into a teaser trailer for the Christmas special, which is apparently going to contain some fairly terrifying costumes and special guest star Shirley Bassey. Yes to all that.

The end is in sight as the class of 2015 joins Claudia in the Clauditorium, where Daniel says that he's been singing to everyone via video message when they've been stressed late at night. Helen says she's really missed being with everyone, and it's been really emotional watching those clips back. Claudia asks Jeremy what people say to him in the street now, and he answers an entirely different question by saying how much everyone has loved their professional partners (obviously not IN THAT WAY, no scandal here, although he says that he did hug Craig earlier so maybe the Strictly curse has a new form now?). Carol says she's so proud of everyone and they're all winners as far as she's concerned. Ainsley says this has been a really special year in terms of the camaraderie, and everyone's been so cheerful - even Tess and Claudia. Claudia asks Peter who the naughtiest person was during group rehearsals, and Peter says it was absolutely Iwan. And that's that.

Just to make sure there is absolutely no danger of, say, having time to reveal who is in third place and having a quick exit chat with them before revealing the winner, we get a VT of the judges talking about the top three. What is even left to say at this point? It's been such a close competition (lies), everyone's been so extraordinary, Georgia has learned how to ballroom, Jay is the last man standing, Jay is for Jayourney, That Jive, Kellie is full of joy and a brilliant performer, apparently nobody else could've done that Viennese waltz, she's a fighter and never gives up, all of them are technically great and great performers, they all deserve to win.

It's time for that final result. The Strictly Come Dancing champions of 2015 are...Jay and Aliona, of course. Kellie and Georgia both put up a good fight at the end, but the Jay train has been rolling for 10 weeks now and there was no way of stopping it. Like I said earlier, I think he's been good across the series, but I really wish it had felt like he'd actually turned up for this final, because he kind of sleepwalked through it and, on the basis of the dances performed tonight, he doesn't feel like the right winner, which is a shame. As it is, he joins Darren, Tom, Chris and Louis in the ranks of celebrities to win from the bottom of the leaderboard, and Natasha, Darren, Alesha, Tom and Kara in the ranks of celebrities who won without ever receiving a perfect score and... I dunno, I feel like both of these could have been fairly easily avoided?

Anyway, to the runners-up: Georgia just wanted to get to the final and she's done that, and Giovanni tells her she's become an amazing dancer. Kellie has had the best time and she's glad she got to be here to the very end and do as many dances as possible. She wanted to entertain everybody, and she hopes she's done that. (Also, let's hope 2016 is finally the year where Kevin knows what position he finished in, eh?)

But Jay and Aliona are our champions, and Aliona is the first pro ever to win twice (lol). Jay says that he feels spaced out, and Aliona deserves this so much. It's been one of the most special things he's ever done, with the most special person, and he's really happy that people liked what he was doing. Claudia summons the rest of the cast back in and Jamelia's at the front, making a beeline for Kellie and Kevin. A weeping Jay gets lifted into the air on Aljaž's and Gleb's shoulders (what a way to go out, amirite?), 'Flashdance (What A Feeling)' plays, gold confetti erupts from the ceiling, Jay weeps some more, everybody hugs everybody, and we're done.

And that's it for the 2015 series, but Rad will be here at some point post-Christmas with a recap of the Christmas special. Thank you all for sticking with us once again, we really do appreciate your support and your comments, and we hope that you all get a Gleb special for Christmas. Bye!

Charge of the Bright brigade

Week 13: The Final (Part 1) - 19 December 2015

As we cycle through a flipbook of the fallen contestants of the series so far, Tess reminds us that we started with 15 couples and now we're down to four. It's the final week, which means three dances (for three of them) and their busiest schedule ever (Alesha and Matt would like a word about their five-dance final now, thanks) as they train, do a press conference, appear on It Takes Two, stop by 10 Downing Street to talk to some ham-faced loser, and, in Kellie's case, prop up a bar in the fictional East End next to Danny Dyer. They're busy, they're excited, they're...ready, they think? Tonight, one of them will be declared the champion, and it will be Jay because we've all known that since week three, but we still have 155 minutes of airtime to fill tonight so let's have ourselves a bit of dancing, yes?

A re-edited version of the titles plays that places our four finalists at the very end (in the following order, just in case anyone cares: Georgia, Jay, Katie, Kellie) and I'm struck by how strange it is that while it feels like this series passed by pretty quickly, it also feels about three years ago that Anthony Ogogo was on the show. Time is a peculiar thing indeed.

We open with a group dance number to 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', a song that is famously a curse for those who perform it on reality TV. Does this mean that none of our finalists are going to win now? Perhaps the whole competition will be declared null and void at the last moment and Caroline Flack gets to stay the winner for another 12 months. Anyway, Georgia, Katie and Kellie are positioned around a make-up table backstage while Jay paces up and down nervously (because of course boys don't wear make-up, not even on television), then Special Guest Star Hot Greg The Floor Manager appears and tells them all it's time to take their positions. As they run up the stairs, Gleb bursts through the curtains (Gleb can burst through my curtains any time etc) and party-Latins around the crew before picking up Anita and whirling her around, then Karen cavorts down the corridor and strokes Daniel's face before they pull back another curtain revealing Darcey and Bruno (Darcey committing to the piece as much as you would expect). Janette then appears in the control room and drags Peter away from a terminal lest he try to write some of his terrible jokes on an aston and superimpose them onto the broadcast, then she heads out into the corridor where she's joined by Natalie and Oti, who lead us down to wardrobe where Ola, P45 tucked into her bosom, emerges through a clothing rail (probably the first time in her ten years on this show that Ola has burst into some clothes) and gives us an all-too-brief glimpse of Pasha before disappearing behind a divider and turning into Ainsley, who's in his penguin outfit again, the poor guy. In the background Craig is ironing a shirt which he then throws to Gleb, who is now topless (♥) while a leopardprint coat-wearing Tess covers a similarly attired Claudia in fake tan, then Pasha dances while Tristan cleans some shoes and Kristina and Brendan dance down a corridor past Jeremy who is wearing tails and a shower cap (this is getting quite surreal now), then Anthony and Iwan emerge from behind another clothing rail and run off with it, revealing that Helen was also hiding behind it. Helen hurries down the corridor, past Len who's busy with the hair and make-up department, and calls the lift, which opens to reveal Aljaž in a compromising position with Carol, Jamelia and Kirsty. (Personally I think a better gag here would've been Giovanni with Georgia's boyfriend, but I guess not everyone shares my sense of humour.) Aljaž races through to the studio to dance with Janette, who either doesn't know what he was just up to or is surprisingly forgiving. The pros dance on the main floor underneath giant banners reading (l-r) GEORGIA, JAY, KATIE and KELLIE. Kevin and Anton are on the staircases vamping as hard as they can, while Aliona is perched on the judges' desk and Giovanni is off wandering around Soh--sorry, he's actually there, in the middle of the floor. My mistake. The banners drop one by one to reveal our four finalists standing above the floor in giant frames which gradually drop to the floor. Given how...merry Katie always looks, I'm surprised they got clearance from their insurers to put her up there in the first place. They make their way to the front and strike their end pose. Georgia is late, in case anyone's interested.

Tess and Daly arrive, escorted by Aljaž and Brendan respectively. There's something very odd about Alan Dedicoat's delivery of Tess's name tonight; it's like "please welcome your hosts...Tess Daly?!", like he can't quite believe it. I mean, most of us can't quite believe she has this job either, Alan, but you really should try to remain professional about it. Tess is wearing a purple-grey strapless dress with a plum-coloured cincher around her waist that gives her a sort of hourglass illusion, and Claudia is wearing a floor-length black gown with a v-shaped cutout at the front that's covered in lace. Claudia looks good, Tess looks slightly uncomfortable, but they've been dressing her surprisingly well all series so I guess I can permit an off-night. As Claudia and Tess rattle off this evening's agenda, there's a cut to the friends and family of the finalists in the front row, and Katie's husband is wearing a truly terrifying suit covered in Batman-esque sound-effect clouds. Do you think he goes to the Proms like that? Maybe Katie bought that for him at the end of a three-day bender and he's just wearing it out of politeness? Who knows?

The judges enter to the band's rendition of 'I'm So Excited'. Nobody does The Strictly, but Darcey does misjudge a spin around Bruno and almost crashes into Len. Our experts, everybody! And then we have the entrance of our finalists: Kellie and Kevin, Katie and Anton, Georgia and Giovanni and Jay and Aliona. Judging from their outfits, it seems safe to assume that the judges' choice dances are tango, quickstep, rumba and quickstep respectively. Tess reminds us that all four finalists have topped the leaderboard and any one of them could be our winner. As long as that one is Jay.

Claudia reminds us, as if we needed telling, that the first round is judges' choice, a reprisal of a previous performance that the judges think the contestants could improve on. It says here. After that, the phone lines will open and we can vote while we watch the showdances, which Tess accidentally refers to as "the most breath-tanking dances of the competition". This will turn out to be a rather apt description. The "tanking" part, anyway. Claudia reminds us that the couple with the fewest votes will be booted out at the start of the results show, after which the remaining three couples will perform their favourite dance of the series.

Jay and Aliona are on first, and the judges have selected his quickstep from week four, back when he was riding the crest of the holy jive wave only to have his surfboard sliced in half by the SS Clumsy Footwork. Speaking of clumsy footwork, in his VT Jay admits that he was pretty sloppy in his Viennese waltz, and the judges' marks were more generous than he was expecting. I'm pretty sure his opinion was not shared by the Digital Spy forumites, who had pitchforks and torches and were all set to raze Casa Len to the ground last week. Jay hopes that he'll go out with a bang this weekend, whatever happens. The reveal of the judges' choice inexplicably takes place in a faux-cinema, where Darcey tells him he's got the quickstep, and Jay says he's hoping that he'll prove he can do it cleanly this time. Len points out that this was Jay's lowest score of the entire competition, and I must admit that I'd forgotten he'd ever gone as low as 25. Jay says that there's no room for mistakes this time around, and he's going to concentrate on this dance more than any of the others. He adds that even to get "just a pat on the back" they'll need to be technically perfect, which is hilarious considering a lot of what's going to happen later tonight.

Back in the studio, Jay and Aliona reprise their quickstep to 'My Generation', and I realise how much I disliked a) the stupid graduation selfie framing device and b) the actual choreography of this routine. That's part of the problem with judges' choice for me: yes, it gives the contestants an opportunity to correct their previous mistakes, but this often leads to us having to sit through a routine that nobody particularly wanted to see again. I mean, if you were genuinely hankering for a second viewing of Jay's quickstep, by all means tell me I'm wrong in the comments, but considering that the Holy Jive is not getting a second outing tonight, it seems particularly galling to have to revisit this mess. [Seriously.  I'd rather see the missing dance than judges' choice TBH - Rad] It's a bit of a mixed bag: Jay's footwork is improved and the confidence he's gained in ballroom since the first time he did it is clear, but the whole thing feels a bit placid and lacking in energy to me, which really should not be happening in a quickstep, Aliona clearly trips at one point (not Jay's fault, as far as I can tell, but still an unfortunate error) and there are some obvious gapping problems in about a third of the routine. Not Clancy-level terrible, but certainly disappointing for a finals quickstep. Also, on an entirely superficial level, dusky pink is a terrible colour on Aliona and washes her right out.

Jay describes the atmosphere in the studio as "electric" and Tess introduces the singers, who have an extra Chris in their number tonight, as well as Dave Arch and his wunnerful orchestra. Len says that he didn't want Jay to put a foot wrong, but there were a few slip-ups. It was, however, quick, slick and a vast improvement on the last time. Bruno says that he thinks it was actually Aliona who went wrong, and Jay shakes his head violently, but it's Aliona's reaction that cracks me up: she starts off shaking her head before realising that if she doesn't claim responsibility for the errors than everyone will assume that Jay was to blame, so then she changes her mind and starts nodding. Hee. Bruno describes Jay as "twinkle-toes" and says that when he gets it right he's stupendous, but when the quality is that high, even the slightest mistake can spoil it. Craig says it "wasn't perfect". but Jay danced around the floor with great ease and maintained his top line throughout and kept his thumb down throughout the whole routine - he's a lovely dancer and a joy to watch. Darcey admires the complexity of the routine and calls the performance "divine" - she thinks Jay led Aliona beautifully, despite the tiny mistakes.

Jay gets a hero's welcome in the Clauditorium, where Claudia asks him if it was nerve-wracking going first, and he says it was: normally he likes being the first one out because then you can just relax and enjoy watching the others, but that wouldn't have applied tonight anyway. Aliona says that she was pleased to get to do the quickstep again, and that she actually said back in week four that she wanted them to be in the dance-off so Jay could show the public how well he could really do this dance. Scores: Craig 9, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 36. Claudia points out that this is an 11-point improvement on last time. As a special treat for the final, Claudia ushers in Mary Berry to read the terms and conditions. She says "excess charges" instead of "access charges", but maybe she has a secret axe to grind against price-gouging telecomms operators?

Georgia and Giovanni are up next, and Georgia says she put all her energy into the semi-final. They arrive at the CineJudge, where Bruno tells them that they've been allocated the rumba for this round, and Georgia says she's love to do that again. Georgia asks what she should do this time around to improve her score, and Craig says she needs to work on the hip action. Len, verbatim: "for me, there wasn't enough rumba content. Just do it as you did it, just put in a little bit more fundamental basic choreography." Right, so do it exactly as before but change everything, gotcha. Thanks Len! Georgia thinks this is a chance for redemption, but she's worried because the rumba is such a hard dance. Georgia, it's only a hard dance for men. You're not a man, silly!

They reprise their rumba to - oh god - 'Writing's On The Wall', and per Len's instruction it is now much more rumba and much less Bondstravaganza. Now, I like the rumba so I feel bad about saying this, but...I think I liked it better the way it was? It's well-danced by Georgia though, and I think she has definitely improved a lot since the first time she did it because this feels a lot more placed and precise, and there's more hip action in it. It's just not really been a particularly strong year for rumbas (don't ask me to name a particularly strong year for rumbas, I'm not sure I could) and I suppose this was one of the better ones, but it still feels a bit of an underwhelming dance to reprise in the final.

Bruno says he's "totally smitten by the sex kitten" and he thought she was stretching and bending like she was made of spandex. He thought there was much more content this time, but a little bit of a balance issue this time around. Craig says she was using her hips beautifully, he loved the intensity and the choreography, and he thought the back bend in particular was delicious. Darcey thinks Georgia has "grown into this beautiful, sensual lady" (blerk) and she delivered all the goods. Darcey wasn't bothered by the balance issue because the tension was so amazing. Len thinks you couldn't get more content, and apologises for being quite so demanding in asking for it last time, but "the proof is in the pudding".



(deep, cleansing breath)

No, Len, the proof is not in the pudding. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Do you see how the latter is a complete, logical thought, and the first is JUST A LOAD OF RANDOM WORDS THAT MAKE NO FUCKING SENSE? DO YOU? DO YOU?!?!?!

Oh, curses. Well, I tried to respond reasonably, and I almost managed it.

Georgia and Giovanni scoot up to the Clauditorium where Claudia gives a shout-out to Georgia's mum, who has apparently "not stopped crying" all night. Ooh, it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Scores: nines all round again for a total of 36. Len's nine generates the most excitement from Giovanni, for obvious reasons, and it's a nine-point improvement from their first score.

Our third couple to perform is Kellie and Kevin, who will be reprising their tango - which was the very first competitive dance of the series. Kellie declares the semi-final "completely bonkers", and Kevin says that going from two dance-offs to topping the leaderboard in the semi-final is what dreams are made of. I would've thought their dreams wouldn't involve being in the dance-off at all, but there you go. At the Judgiplex, Len tells them that he wants to see their tango again, and Kellie says that she's really happy about that. Craig tells her she needs to tidy up the links and just exaggerate the moves a bit more. Well, that shouldn't be a problem. Len says "get a bit of fire in the belly, Kellie". Kellie says she rewatched her tango a few weeks ago and thought that she loved it, but she'd like another go at it - and now she's got one. Kellie works on those pesky shoulders in rehearsals, and says that she's looking forward to doing it again.

Their tango, in case you've forgotten, was Sixties-themed and danced to 'You Really Got Me'. I'm a little bit disappointed by how much of a straightforward repeat this is; considering that Giovanni made a point of adding more rumba content to Georgia's routine for this round, I would've liked Kevin to have removed some of the vamping and faffing at the top that accounts for about a third of the runtime of this tango and replaced it with some, y'know, actual tango. I appreciate that Kellie has the biggest workload of everyone remaining and may not have had as much time to do a complete choreographic overhaul, but at the same time: it's the final, and I'd really like to see a bit more dance content than we have here. Now that I've got that particular bugbear out of the way, what tango there actually is in the routine is greatly improved, you can see it in her posture and in the clinical precision of her footwork. Again, it's a good routine to demonstrate how far she's come, but not necessarily a routine I was that excited about seeing in the final.

As Kellie and Kevin head over to Tess, there's a chant of "10! 10! 10! 10!" coming from the Clauditorium which, going by everyone's reactions, does seem to be entirely spontaneous. The Clauditorium does appear to be firmly Team Kellie for most of the evening but, as was pointed out to me on Twitter last night, that might just be because it's full of Cliftons. Craig says that all of Kellie's hard work has paid off and he loved her slow, deliberate heels in the turn section. Darcey says she loved this routine before, but the difference in her frame and top line now is YUMMEH. Oh god, I was hoping we'd get through an entire series without YUMMEH, I really was. Len says they've "ironed out all the kinks" (groan) and that routine was brilliant. Bruno finishes by saying that is how you rock a tango, and he likes to see things that are different and imaginative, but at the same time this was exactly what a tango should be.

They scream up to the Clauditorium and the chants for tens continue, and Kellie says that the best thing about today is having all the gang back in the Clauditorium. Claudia asks Kellie if she remembered the routine from all those weeks ago, and Kellie says that she didn't - she's learned a lot of dances since then. Claudia: "Yes, I know, I've had six children since." Scores: Craig 10, Darcey 10, Len 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 40. Kevin absolutely loses his shit at Craig's 10, and someone in the audience leaps to their feet for Len's, blocking the view of the Lencam in the process. Hee. Personally, while I think this was the strongest performance of round one by a considerable margin, I don't think it was a 40 - there just wasn't enough content in it for me, and I just can't see this being one of those classic tangos that I want to rewatch on YouTube in years to come. [It did feel like a 40 for the sake of having a 40 at some point.  As tangos this series go, the one I'd have most liked to see again was Jay and Aliona's - Rad] Claudia points out that this was the first 40 of the series, and also Kevin's first 10 ever from Craig. "Thank you, Kellie!" squeals Kevin. Bless. Kellie says that she can't believe it, and she feels like she's just won the competition. And this is as close as she's ever going to get to that feeling, so I suppose she might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

Rounding off the first, er, round, it's Katie "Durr-hum" and Anton with their quickstep. Tess says that they scored sixes and sevens the first time they did this, but "sixes and sevens won't cut it tonight." Awkward. In her VT, Katie remembers her charleston going pretty terribly, but the upside of having two dances is that you get a chance to redeem yourself, which she sort of did, even though her second dance wasn't great either. She wasn't surprised to be in the dance-off, but because the judges were never going to vote for Gleb's salsa-showdance over some classic ballroom (well, apart from Craig, but he's frequently an outlier), she managed to defeat Anita and make her way into the final. At the Strictly movie house, everyone makes the occasion far more about Anton than about Katie as per usual, and Craig tells them they've been given the quickstep because Katie got a bit lost the first time they did it. "I might get it right this time, so it's nice to have another chance," giggles Katie. Len hopes she'll do a better job of keeping up this time now that she's more experienced. Katie says that she loves the routine, and she's glad to have another chance to do it. Last time, they got 26, and Katie thinks they "should be able to improve those marks by 10 at least" this time. [Because of final score inflation? - Rad] Welp.

Their quickstep - to '42nd Street', lest we forget - starts one more with a cane-capers section, and she only just escaped this section unscathed last time, but she's not so fortunate this time around: as she flicks the cane over her shoulder, she catches the brim of her boater and knocks it and somehow it gets stuck on her face, and I'm not a horrible person, honestly I'm not, but this absolutely cracks me up because Katie, god love her, keeps going while trying to wrestle the damn facehugger off and she just can't get it free, and eventually has to knock it off with her free hand. Poor Katie. I almost want to hand her the glitterball right there and then just for doing her best to style her way through that. One thing's for sure: I've never seen someone to look quite so relieved to get to the bit where she gets to take her hat off and lob it offstage. Her performance is an improvement on the last one in that she doesn't look quite so hopelessly outmatched in it, but a lot of the old problems persist nonetheless: keeping up with Anton takes so much of her focus that her frame and her hold suffers, leading to some gaps that you could stage a Julie Taymor production in, there's what looks like a very serious stumble near the end, and by the time she reaches the final side-by-side section she's completely out of sync with Anton. It's a shame.

Darcey tells Katie that she never fails to be "the beautiful classy lady" that we see every week (I had to rewind that three times because I was convinced that Darcey was calling her a "party lady" and basically outing her as a drunk) and she could feel the pressure that Katie was under - she got nearly all the way through, but fell apart at the end where Darcey thought she could sense Katie internally screaming out to Anton for help. Len says she "more or less" kept up, but she moved so fast she could've ended up on "43rd Street", and he loves her posture in ballroom. Bruno calls her "always so lush" (*eyebrow*) and says that her suspensions were better, and while she hit a few bumps again, she recovered much better this time. Tess asks if they've proved themselves worthy finalists, and Craig says that the hat issue threw her off from the beginning and there were gapping problems throughout, but it was a major improvement on last time. Anton says to wait until next week where there'll be an even bigger improvement. Heh.

They pick up their canes (though not those evil hats) and make their way to the Clauditorium, where Katie says that she loves this routine, but she thinks that she and hats are just not destined to get on (remember, her hat fell off during her foxtrot in Musicals Week as well). Anton thinks he preferred Katie's choreography, "perhaps I should have been up to speed with it". Heh. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 8, Len 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 31 - five points up on last time, but the lowest scoring finals dance since Matt Dawson's samba in series four.

Round one leaderboard:

1. Kellie & Kevin - 40
2=. Jay & Aliona - 36
2=. Georgia & Giovanni - 36
4. Katie & Anton - 31

Claudia reminds us that the judges' scores are "just for guidance" tonight and then declares the phone lines open. She asks for no fun and games during the terms and conditions at this difficult time, so of course everyone breaks out in silent hijinks behind her. My favourites are somebody near the back (I can't quite make out who) holding up a sign that says "SHE'S SAID THIS 48 TIMES ALREADY") and Oti attacking Brendan repeatedly with an inflatable guitar.

After a recap of the performances so far, it's time for the showdances which, Claudia reminds us, are where the rulebook just gets thrown in the bin. And yet the judges score it anyway. That's never entirely made sense to me.

Jay and Aliona are up first, and Tess involves That Jive to get our expectations up nice and high. In his VT, Jay says that it's going to be a greatest hits routine (SIGH) but with everything modified to make it bigger and showier. Jay says that doing so many different styles is quite confusing and muscle memory quite often leads him into the wrong steps, and Aliona admits that she's pushing Jay harder than ever with this choreography. Jay hopes that all the hard work pays off, Aliona tells him that Jay has been amazing since day one, and Jay tells her that he couldn't have asked for a better teacher.

They're dancing to 'Can't Feel My Face' by The Weeknd (no, me neither) and expectations are certainly high as the whole thing starts on a platform suspended above the dancefloor, with Jay hanging upside down. I can only assume this is a nod to Spider-Man, except he's not wearing a mask and they don't kiss. But, y'know, apart from that. The platform gradually lowers, and when it reaches the floor Jay rights himself and takes Aliona in his arms. It truly is the mish-mash of styles that we were promised, but the main problem is that none of the individual parts are particularly exciting, and neither is the whole. By the time we've reached Jay finger-walking up Aliona's chest and down her back, I think it's perfectly clear that this one's a bit of a dud. I can remember my heart sinking when the music was clearly gearing up to end, and I felt like the routine hadn't even started; this was just such a total non-event to me. Anita's salsa was more of a showdance than this was, I feel absolutely cheated.

Tess calls that "all your greatest moves in one routine", although I didn't see anything like enough of the Holy Jive in there to be honest. Len says it was "like a trip down memory lane" (indeed at one point I think Jay's fingers took a trip down mammary lane), but he personally would've liked a bit more "show" in the showdance. It was lovely, and what was there was danced well, but it wasn't spectacular enough for Len's liking. Bruno feels like he got wrongfooted by the promise of a superhero extravaganza at the beginning (you and me both, Tonioli), but he did a very good "pick 'n' mix" of ballroom 'n' latin. Still, the first image stayed in his mind, and the rest of the routine didn't live up to it. Craig says he was really disappointed because he knows Jay's capable of much more, and this felt like a cop-out. He loved the opening, and if he'd had his druthers it would have ended like that as well with Jay spiralling back into the ceiling. He felt there was no build and no climax, even though all of the dancing was done brilliantly. Darcey thinks he's "the cool cat of technique", and she had high expectations of him as the last man standing and she wanted a little surprise, so while it was seamless, she wanted it to go out with a bang and it didn't. Bruno chips in again that they're not criticising the dancing, just the framing and the construction of the piece. Aliona says that she'll take all the blame, and Tess hollers "WELL THE AUDIENCE LOVED IT", because they've been shown to be such discerning consumers so far.

Claudia consoles Jay by telling him that everyone around her was going nuts for it, and she loved that it was like a jigsaw of every dance. Aliona says she tweaked all the moves to make them more difficult, so they're not the same as the ones they danced before. God NO ONE CARES ALIONA, JUST DO SOME FANCY LIFTS, IT'S NOT EXACTLY FERMAT'S LAST THEOREM. Jay says he loved it and he wouldn't have wanted a single step different (because he's winning anyway and this makes absolutely no difference). Scores are in: Craig 8, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 35. That's the same score as Mark Wright's weaksauce showdance last year, which feels fair enough.

Hopefully Georgia and Giovanni can restore our faith in the showdance now with their routine, which Tess promises will be "innovative" and "challenging" but also "traditional". Well, that doesn't sound very encouraging. In the VT, Giovanni says this dance is quite dangerous, and there's "a small thing in the beginning that will be a little bit different". I wonder if it's the first time he's had to say that to somebody. Georgia thinks their "little secret" is a risk and it could go horribly wrong, but she just has to put her trust in Giovanni, which is something she's learned to do. She reflects that it could be her final dance of the series, but that it's a heck of a note to go out on. She thanks Giovanni for bringing this side of her out, and Giovanni calls her his "little sister". God, remember at the beginning of the series when we were convinced they paired these two together so they could start SEXY SHOWMANCE RUMOURS? How naive we were. Giovanni tells her that she can win, and Georgia wells up, saying that she doesn't want it to end. Eh, you're on the tour, you've still got until mid-February yet.

They're dancing to 'Fix You' by Coldplay and the little secret that they were alluding to is that Georgia starts the dance blindfolded. According to my reliable informers who still watch the flaming pile of garbage that is Dancing With The Stars, Derek Hough already did it. Georgia does her very best soap opera blind acting (i.e. she paws at her eye sockets) and they break into some contempowaft rumba steps. Georgia dances pretty well for someone who can't see, but her balance is a bit of an issue again. Giovanni lifts her over his head and lays her onto the floor, and then just as the band get to the title of the song, he fixes her by removing the blindfold DO YOU SEE. Then Giovanni starts pointing things out to her and Georgia does similarly terrible "omg I can see!" acting (seriously, this is her day job?) and then they break into what seems like some sort of Viennese waltz/tango fusion with some lifts thrown in. Again, the dancing itself is fine, but the concept is just saccharine and dull, so I'm nought for two on the showdances so far tonight. [Yup.  What the hell were they thinking with these?  Worst showdances since Flavia stuck Louis on that big birthing ball- Rad] 

Bruno calls it "Fifty Shades Of Green" (because they were wearing green, although isn't that Dorien's book in Birds of a Feather?) and he loved the fusion element, but warns her about that darned shoulder once again. He loved the chemistry and intensity and the storytelling, though. Craig enjoyed it even though the shoulder was creeping up, and he loved the blindfold section most of all - he thought Georgia did a particularly good job of going down Giovanni's back when she didn't know where the floor was. Darcey says it was such a wonderful start, lyrical and smooth, and she was impressed by how Georgia took off immediately after getting into hold. Len loved the fusion too and the poignant opening - it was a great dance, and Georgia's a lovely ballroom dancer.

A thankfully non-blindfolded Georgia scampers up to the Clauditorium where Georgia says this meant a lot to her, and that taking the blindfold off was like having her eyes opened to everything that Gio's taught her. (I'm still not entirely convinced that she doesn't think his name is actually Joe Varney, by the way.) Giovanni says that he made her proud, and she apologises for the shoulder. Scores: all the nines again for a total of 36.

Kellie and Kevin are next with a lindyhop (ie charleston with more lifts) showdance, set aboard a train. I wonder if it'll be the porn train from the launch show? In the VT, Kevin suggests they go "full-on, high-energy, lifts, kicks, tricks, lindyhop-style". Kellie declares herself very much in. Kevin says that it's been exhausting to rehearse, and Kellie giggles that she's fallen on her arse three times so far today and almost fallen on her head a few times too, but she's sure it's just because she's tired. When you factor in how Kellie's clearly been knackered since about week seven, it's a minor miracle that she's still upright at all. In their Moment of Reflection, Kellie says her favourite thing has been how much Kevin made her laugh, and she thinks he's really helped her to grow as a performer.

They're dancing to 'The Ding-Dong Daddy Of The D-Car Line' by the Cherry Poppin' Daddies (absolutely a real thing, trust me, I looked it up) and OH MY GOD IT ACTUALLY IS THE PORN TRAIN. Well, the prop version, anyway. This is brilliant. As for the dance itself, it's the first one of the night to even feel remotely like a showdance, in fact it feels very closely related to Chris and Ola's from series seven. I think Kevin has just figured that he's tried everything else to win at the final, so he might as well just go Full Hollins and see if it works. It's an admirable attempt, certainly: it's all very knockabout and fun but there's a lot of precision in there as well, as evidenced by the bits where Kellie kicks in between Kevin's legs that could potentially end the Clifton dynasty right here if she mistimes it. It's a real showstopper and a crowdpleaser and just generally a total tonic after the last two underwhelmed. (And for those of you who look for such things, I will say that tight high-waisted trousers are a good look on Kevin. Not that I was staring at anything in particular. *cough*)

Kellie's struggling for breath at the end and says that she thinks Kevin's been trying to kill her off this week. Craig declares it "uh-may-zing". Darcey says the routine was extraordinary, and Kellie brought everything she could to that dance. Len looks right into the camera and says "that's a showdance" (lol take that Aliona), and Bruno says she brought the A-game right at the right time, and says that's how a champion wins. Except it's not, because Jay's winning.

Kellie staggers up the stairs somehow, and the others are struggling to contain their excitement. Claudia is aghast at Kellie trying to learn a completely new style of dance at this point in the competition, and Kellie says she's loved this so much, and she couldn't turn down the opportunity to learn something else. The scores are in and, it's 10s all round yet again for another perfect 40 for Kellie. Properly deserved this time, I think. Karen's in bits too.

Closing the show tonight we have Katie and Anton with their ancient Rome-themed showdance. Katie promises that it won't be "low-key or subtle or modest". Well, thank god for that, quite frankly. They're throwing in a lot of favourite moves and a lot of Katie being chucked around. Katie appears to have developed a late-in-the-game back injury so they have to work around that a little bit, but she vows to push on through the pain, and says that Anton has been both an amazing teacher and a really good friend. She has enjoyed every minute, but she knows that she needs to pull off the showdance to have any hope of making it to the top three.

They're dancing to 'O Fortuna' and Katie appears to be wearing a dress very much modelled on the one Alesha wore for her showdance. It's very paso-themed with a bit of tango thrown in as well, and while Katie is easily the weakest dancer remaining in the competition, the sheer razzmatazz of the production here makes it one of the evening's better showdances - and, to be fair, this is probably the best she has danced in a couple of weeks. There are a lot of lifts which are executed well, and the only real bum note is when Katie drops into Anton's arms from atop the makeshift balcony that's been created for them on the dancefloor and he catches her rather awkwardly, but it's such a great set piece that it hardly matters anyway. I can appreciate why Aliona and Giovanni went for precision in their routines, but I will always prioritise spectacle over technique in a showdance. Always.

Tess says she's so glad Anton caught her, and Katie replies "so am I!" Hee. Darcey enjoyed the intensity and drama and of course Katie's posture. She says that intense music like that can occasionally work as a disadvantage, though, because you have to live up to that standard - but her only reservation was occasionally sensing the nerves. Len says there was plenty going on, and he loved the drop into Anton's arms, but he felt like the music overpowered the dance a little bit. Bruno liked that it was "historically accurate" (lol) and while it was all-conquering at the beginning, there were a few stumbles as it went along but he felt like they carried the story beautifully. He thinks she gave it a good go, though. Craig says that he didn't take to it at all - he doesn't want to end on a negative, but it was rigid and stiff and Katie wasn't at the same standard as everyone else. He says that Katie doesn't have the same level of skill as them, but she can still hold her head high because she gave it her all and did her best to drive that dance home. Katie says she appreciates that, and it's a fair point. Anton's all "yes, mistakes, we wanted some of them" and Katie tells him that she wishes he'd keep quiet about the mistakes. Preach, Katie.

They head to the Clauditorium, where Claudia declares that the scores are in and then immediately changes her mind. She asks Anton if he regrets that song after the judges' comments, and Anton says no, if anything he'd make it louder. Scores: 7, 8, 8, 8 for 31 again. Lowest score for a showdance since Christopher Parker, with the caveat that the showdances weren't scored at all from series two to series six.

So here's that end-of-part-one leaderboard:

1. Kellie & Kevin - 40 + 40 = 80
2. Georgia & Giovanni - 36 + 36 = 72
3. Jay & Aliona - 36 + 35 = 71
4. Katie & Anton - 31 + 31 = 62

After a recap of the voting numbers and the evening's performances so far, we get the obligatory "nooo, I don't want to go home" VT: Georgia thinks the show has been life-changing, Katie's goalposts gradually moved from "not first boot" to "make Hallowe'en" to "make Blackpool" and she's baffled to make it this far. Jay wishes he could go back and tell Week 1 Jay how far he was going to get, and also to cut his hair before they film the title sequence. Kellie never expected to make the final. Jay think it's been an emotional experience (maybe tell your face that?). Katie would do it again in a heartbeat. Georgia's got a friend for life in Giovanni. Winning would be the perfect thank you to everyone's professional partners.

And that's it. It's time for us all to go and vote/eat dinner/watch Casualty/all of the above, and then the show will come back at 9pm, eliminate Katie (just a hunch) and everyone dances again before Jay wins (hunch). Join us for part two when my fingers have recovered from typing this one, won't you?

Friday, 18 December 2015

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

- Even Gleb laughed when they watched Anita’s salsa back.
- Zoe’s daughter cried her eyes out when Anita and Gleb got eliminated. LOOK WHAT THOU HAST WROUGHT, JUDGES.
- This year’s contestants are all sickeningly positive about each other.
- That said, Georgia’s first impression of Jay was “he needs a haircut”.
- Georgia calls Kellie her Strictly mum.  I'm sure Kellie is delighted to be considered a mum to someone who's almost 25.
- Bruno thinks Jeremy and Helen went out too early.
- Bruno refuses to have a favourite dance.  I didn't know BBC impartiality extended that far.
- The Argentine tango was originally a dance done exclusively by men, to impress women. It’s amazing such FILTH ever made it onto a FAMILY SHOW in the first place.
- Bruno really wants to see an AT done by two men again.
- Bruno never watches the dances back after recording the show.
- Joanne thinks Jay’s Viennese waltz was overmarked and technically flawed. We assume the St Jay Army are already in the process of sending the boys round (yes, we do mean the other four from The Wanted).
- Zoe seems to agree with us that Joanne is better at Choreography Corner than Karen.  Sorry Karen.
- A rumba walk has six sub-actions and is used in the cha-cha-chas as well.
- Presumably to troll the X Factor, Anton and Katie are doing their showdance to 'O Fortuna'.
- Hot Greg the floor manager has some serious moves. 
- Despite everything, Ola will actually be allowed back into the building for the final this weekend.
- Ola did a couple of spins with Chris Hollins when she saw him the other week.
- In the olden days, Tess could pronounce Ola's name.
- Iwan Thomas's favourite Strictly moment was when he was partnered with Ola at the launch show.  Before there was any actual work involved.
- He also talks about her as if she was dead ("she was a great person").
- Georgia wore Ola’s shoes for the charleston.
- Everyone except Katie has retconned that Anton and Katie's waltz wasn't that good.
- Poor Katie appears to have been entirely forgotten in her own journey now that everyone’s so excited about Anton making the final for the first time.
- Anton thinks this year's quarter final was the best ever.  Damning with faint praise, there.
- Georgia and Giovanni seem to be doing some sort of ballroom/contempowaft showdance. Jay and Aliona’s seems to just be a “greatest hits” number.
- Kevin and Kellie both seem to be a bit fed up with all the comedy theming they've been given this year.
- Kellie ranks doing her American smooth right up there with her wedding day and the birth of her son.
- Kellie and Kevin’s showdance is lindyhop-based.
- There have been 17 series of Dancing With The Stars in Poland.
- One of the judges in DTWS Poland gave more 10s in the most recent series than Craig has ever given across all 13 of Strictly.
- There are two versions of Strictly in Central America - one in Costa Rica, and one in Panama.
- One of the routines in the most recent series of DTWS Costa Rica involved an actual live horse.
- Katie and Anton’s showdance looks like a bit of a paso doble/tango mash-up.
- Lisa Snowdon doesn’t think she can dance any more. No comment.
- MATTFLINTMANIA from So You Think You Can Dance is choreographing the opening number for the Christmas special.
- There is another train in the Christmas opening. Its porn status is thus far unconfirmed.
- Harry Judd is letting his chest hair grow back, THERE IS A GOD.
- Pasha is more gentle than Brendan. Good to know.
- Harry Judd thinks anyone except Katie and Anton could win.
- Georgia just wanted to get to the end, so even if she loses (which she will) she feels like she’s won.
- There will be two charlestons in the contestants’ choice round, assuming both Kellie and Georgia make it that far. (It’s probably safe to assume that if Katie goes that far, she will *not* be reprising her charleston.)
- Katie will be wearing sapphire blue/cobalt blue for the first time in the competition this weekend.
- Kellie requested a gold dress for her showdance but Vicky wasn’t able to give her a completely gold one because of the overall palette of the show for the night.
- Jay is Aliona’s favourite dance partner ever. HE IS NO HARRY JUDD YOU INGRATE.
- That botched lift was (say it with us now) MEANT TO HAPPEN LIKE THAT.
- Jeremy is still trying to do Karen’s accent.
- It will be unseasonably mild this Christmas, but there will be rain at times.
- Peter still can’t stop doing the “can I just say…?”
- Kim Wilde is available.
- Jay and Aliona are not doing any hip hop or morris dancing in their showdance.
- Jay’s not doing his jive again, ffs stop asking.
- Anton has changed Katie’s showdance 14 times, if he is to be believed and he probably isn’t.
- Katie has picked the Viennese waltz for her contestant’s choice routine. If they get to do it, there will be more pivots.
- Zoe thinks a judges’ showdance would be good.
- Even BRUNO thinks not.
- Bruno can’t cope with the sight of Craig as Captain Hook.
- Darcey forces Craig to give 10s in the final.
- The trick to not mum-dancing is to use your arms.
- The public don’t realise that it’s a dancing competition for the judges. THANX LEN.
- Len thought Peter and Helen would be in the final, he doesn’t say at whose expense.
- Darcey wanted Ainsley to be in the final.
- Giovanni wants to come back next year.
- There is nothing better than Danny Dyer saying “Kevin Clifton”.
- Everyone's fanbase is full of eight-year-olds.
- Anita’s pre-series concern of ‘if I go down, will I get back up again?’ was… kind of prescient. (We'd have the same concern if we were partnered with Gleb, to be fair.)
- Peter is ill.
- Jay wondered if he could ‘charm Darcey’ before the show started.  Being male kind of makes that a given.
- Tameka Empson wants to see Georgia and Giovanni reprise their Ghostbusters tango and is reduced to tears at the thought of Anton in the final.- Richard Madeley has never seen a core as strong as Kellie’s.
- Ruthie Henshall doesn’t want to suggest a winner, Richard Madeley thinks Jay will win, Tameka Empson thinks Kellie. Or Georgia. Or Jay. Or Katie.
- Gleb’s sheer stripper cop shirt didn’t do it for Miranda Hart.
- Miranda Hart is the only person in the world who actually likes the hour-long Friday show.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Time and the Rani

Week 12: Top 5 Results - Sunday 13 December

Last night! Most people underwhelmed, with Kellie and Kevin coming out on top - and rightly so - whilst Katie and Anton underwhelmed more than most and ended up bottom of the leaderboard. Tonight! We discover which couple will get to the final, and whether or not anyone will manage to get there without hitting the bottom two (other than Jay, which I assume is a given).

We open with a pro-themed disco Latin set to 'On the Floor ' set in 'The Strictly Club' and featuring all of the pros who are no longer in competition, minus Ola plus Joanne, where Tristan is a very unlikely-looking bouncer deciding who to let in or not. Janette, Natalie and Joanne aren't allowed in, so do a little bit of dancing outside. The rebels! (They later sneak in anyway) Now, on It Takes Two, this dance had been billed as being one camera only and using sliding walls and other accoutrements for transitions.  Whilst this sounds interesting, in practice, it's not especially great. The sliding in and out of walls and props is quite fun for a bit, but the use of single camera means the whole thing feels pretty two-dimensional and flat and is a somewhat pointless gimmick.  That's an experiment I'd rather not see again, because, to channel Len, all the mackin abaht got in the way of the dancing. [It was total nonsense, but I LOVED IT. - Steve]

A screen pulls back and reveals Tess and Claudia sitting on a lip-shaped sofa, drinking cocktails. You will be surprised to learn that Katie Derham hasn't joined them for this.  Daly dress watch: a nice black thing with a large decoration that appears to be made of mirrors in the shape of star signs decoration. That doesn't look like it will go in the 40 wash.  Maybe that 40 with a line under it, though. What Winkleman's wearing: some kind of lace Goth nightwear. The judges saunter on and have a vague nod to dancing, showing a little bit more investment than they did "last night".

The recap of last night is hosted by Craig, because perhaps they have run out of telegenic pro dancers to do it. Unsurprisingly, everyone is nervous but loving their time on Strictly, it's anybody's game etc etc. Weirdly, although the judges comments are played over most people's dances and decontextualised from their original source, the bulk of Darcy's comments to Anita about the complexity of her dance is played over footage of Jay and Aliona's Charleston. /tinfoilhat

The comments we are shown for Katie and Anita lean towards negative, Georgia's are a mixture, and Kellie and Jay's are predominantly positive, which reflects the leaderboard, I guess. There doesn't seem to be much hot Greg action this week. [Surely the cruellest betrayal in a weekend full of them. - Steve]

Time for the first set of results now, and, to no one's surprise, Jay and Aliona are the first ones safe. Well, I guess they were pretty much the only ones guaranteed not to be in the dance off this week, so it's probably for the best they got them out of the way first to build tension.  Joining them? A very excited Kellie and Kevin.

The first couple in the dance off are Anita and Gleb, which is not really a surprise - to be honest, as much as I adore them, I was expecting this to have happened weeks ago. I think it just goes to show that the public vote is not always due to the audience's previous knowledge of the contestants, as Gleb was obviously an unknown, and although Anita has presented a whole range of different shows, she doesn't have the profile of some of those who went out much earlier in the series.  I think their personalities, as well as their determination and their dancing skill, have really served them well. I would not be surprised if Anita gets several more high-profile presenting offers in the not too distant future - Katie too, probably. I think it's likely they will go tonight if they are up against Georgia. If they're up against Katie, it is probably going to be harder to call- it will either go on the dance off itself, on overall performance across the series (Anita) or who they think has the best storyline going into the final (Katie), so that would be a close one to call.

Anita is fairly philosophical about it, saying they were just excited to have got this far and she feels like she's been sprinting to keep up with the ringers (/"everyone").  They confirm that they will be reprising their salsa because it's the most energetic, with a lot of content. [I basically mentally waved goodbye to Anita at this point because I knew there was no way that routine was winning a dance-off, not at this stage. - Steve] Gleb says he's really proud of her and Anita says he's her all. Awww. Darcey says it's a shock when they worked so hard and she can see that Anita has put her all into every weekend, and to go for it and enjoy the dance.

Claudia is with the saved couples now, and Kellie is a complete wreck, all tears and disbelief, despite being with Mr-Been-in-the-final-every-year Clifton. Now I love Kevin and everything, hometown represent and all, but he really is overdue a duffer next time. Jay lies that he thought the red light would go on them this week, and Kellie pulls an O RLY face like any two-time dance-off survivor might.

Time for our guest performer now and it is Kylie, whom I completely love, but I really do not understand the marketing behind her Christmas album at all. Tonight she's performing 'I'm Gonna Be Warm This Winter', but they teased 'Only You' as the lead single, then they plugged '100 Degrees' and then there's the video and the SAW remix of 'Everyday is like Christmas', suggesting that was the one they were flying with. I get that we are in the digital age and singles don't really work in the same way they did, but wouldn't it have been better to pitch one of their original songs as the core selling point for this album, rather than trying to flog a whole bunch of different tracks? My pick would have been 'White December or 'Everyday's like Christmas'.  Anyway, the pro dancers don't get to do anything here for most of it, instead we have a slightly random assortment of female Christmas tree Father Christmas dancers doing generic pop video dance. But then halfway through, the male pros come on and start to carry Kylie around and she seems to enjoy that very much, as well she might, being held aloft by Gleb, Aljaz, Pasha and Giovanni. Such a hard life. (Also, if you were at her Royal Albert Hall gig, please don't boast about in the comments, because those of us who had to work during the day in the provinces are still upset about not being able to get to London for it)

Time for our final Len's Lens of the series. Can it be as useful as previous editions this series, or will it revert to old ways?  Truly, tis the biggest mystery of this series. We open with Len explaining the difference between natural turns and reverse turns (one goes to the right, the other to left), when discussing Jay and Aliona's Viennese waltz, as well as discussing what he meant about Jay closing his legs. We then have Darcey discussing Georgia keeping her frame in the Viennese waltz, where we see her head move, rather than her back. Claudia asks Craig if he was tempted to give Kellie a 10 for her rumba, even though he's never given 10 for a rumba before. [And even though there was a very obvious flaw in it. I mean, I know they want Craig to give something a ten, but Kellie's rumba was a very odd choice of dance to suggest deserved it considering even Darcey only gave it an 8. - Steve] The close-ups reveal just how weird Kevin's tan is. It looks like he's done a Ross Geller in the tan machine this week. Either that, or it's sabotage from Anton at the young upstart trying to take his middle-aged-woman's-crumpet throne. Craig says he couldn't give it a 10, because he thought the storytelling and chemistry could have been stronger, plus there was the balance wobble. Bruno is randomly molesting Craig's knee throughout this discussion, by the way. Bruno then shows some of the problems with Katie and Anton's waltz: the arms being terrible, the two of them getting out of step with one another. All in all, a reasonably informative Len's Lens again. Well done everybody, and keep it up for the next series, please.

Of course, that couldn't be it, could it? We then have a clip of all the judges' most obnoxious and ridiculous moments, but I guess it's an end of the series montage, we can let them have one of those, just don't go repeating that next week.

Time to find out who will be in the dance off with Anita and Gleb now. It looks awfully lonely when there's only two couples to choose between, doesn't it? Georgia looks completely terrified, and Katie looks like the life is drained out of her...  and with reason, as she and Anton are in the bottom two. Georgia squeals and grabs Giovanni, as Tess calls Anton and Katie over to the judges' table.

Len says she needs to really focus, to relax and trust in Anton because fortune favours the brave. He says 'most importantly, don't go wrong'. Katie nods and smiles with a 'Ho Ho, hadn't thought of that' look, but I guess time is running short after that montage of judges' bits, so Katie and Anton don't get to say anything else.

Backup in the Clauditorium, Giovanni and Georgia say thank you and 'gracias' to be audience and generally seem very excited about being in the final.

You know what I was saying about them running short of time? Clearly they still have enough time for more filler. We are reminded of a variety of different clips from the series in our trailer for the final, which seems incredibly dumb, because if you are invested enough to watch the semi-final, you are probably invested enough to watch the final.

We joined Tess and Claudia with the bottom two couples. Katie says it would be the icing on the cake to be in the final because lots of people want to see Anton in the final and she is fully aware of the narrative that has propelled her this far, but she's said to be dancing alongside Anita and Gleb. Anton says Katie's been wonderful in rehearsals throughout the show and he wants her to enjoy the moment. The audience whoop loudly as they go to get ready. We are reminded that Anita was a novice dancer and Tess asks what it would mean to get through. Anita says it would mean everything, because they've worked really hard, and she feels that it's only once she's left that the penny will really drop about what she's learned and how much she has been through.

Tess says tonight is the last dance-off of the series. Unless you count the final as being one massive dance-off, I suppose.

Katie and Anton reprise their waltz, and she does seem very relaxed here, possibly because she suspects they are the most likely to go, so she's fretting less-and actually, her performance improves as a result. It gets a rapturous round of applause from the audience, and Anton stands up and then lifts Katie's hand, as if they are in their final goodbye pose. Don't get too ahead of yourselves, guys.

Anita and Gleb reprise their salsa. It remains as energetic and bonkers as the first time round, although there's one moment where Anita gets uncomfortably stuck in between Gleb's legs. Perhaps that was deliberate, after all, it might be the last chance she gets, huh? [I would have done the same tbh. - Steve] It's a much better dance in terms of the amount of content and performance, but obviously it is much less true to the genre than Katie and Anton's, and, of course, the story of Anton getting to the final (and retiring on a high?) could be too delicious for the judges to pass up.

Craig saves Anita and Gleb for being dramatic, dynamic and risktakers. Darcey saves Katie and Anton for making no mistakes and producing a beautiful quality across the dancefloor. Bruno says 'all errors have been erased' from his memory, and 'for the quality and connection with the music', he saves Katie and Anton. That means we've had the rare example of a split judging panel this series, and it's down to Len. Len says it goes down to the dance off, and it wasn't even close to him, but totally clear: Katie and Anton. I think that is a bit unfair, because both couples danced well in the dance off, but obviously from the purity of dance point of view, he was never going to vote for Gleb, so it's no surprise he went that way.

Anita says Gleb is a slave driver and he's beautiful (and I haven't checked AO3 but I suspect has inspired many Fifty Shades-esque fanfics), but he also has a really creative mind and creative choreography and she's just had the best time working with him. Gleb thanks her for giving him an amazing time and he says he's loved every day working with her. The audience are on their feet, giving them a standing ovation, as are the judges. Anita thanks all the judges and her amazing friends among the other dancers and says she can't believe she got that far, given the calibre of the dancers in the competition. We get a recap of the best bits: basically a whole load of crazy. My God, Gleb is so ace. I do kind of want to see what he will do with the comedy contestant, maybe not next year, because Kevin needs to have a turn, but in time. [Gleb's never done more than one series in any of the other versions of the franchise, but I hope this is the one that changes his mind. I know his choreographic bag of tricks is starting to look a bit limited, but I'd like him around for at least one more run. - Steve]

Now, this was the first time I'd had the results spoiled for me on Saturday (thanks, Instagram!), and I didn't even get to see the episode until Monday, so I got all my WUZROBBEDs out of the way a little bit before actually watching the show. As a massive Anita and Gleb fan, obviously I'm disappointed, on the other hand, I can see how Katie and Anton would make a great story line for the final - and I do really like their pairing and think they acquitted themselves very well in the dance off - and as I like all four couples and neither of these pairings would ever win, I guess they may as well play out Anton's storyline in full. Besides, if Gleb showdanced his way through the salsa, his showdance might just send Len over the edge entirely.

Anita and Gleb dance out to 'End of the Road', and there might be a little something in my eye...

So, next week it's the final. Who will win - and, more importantly, will we have to watch an Anton Du Beke showdance? Join Steve then to find out!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

All Bright on the night

Week 12: Top 5 Perform (Semi-Final) - 12 December 2015

Last week! It was musicals week. This basically meant it was the same as every other week except with the addition of more prop dancers. Anita and Gleb hit the bottom of the leaderboard and the judges put Helen and Aljaz in second-to-bottom place and then whined that they ended up in the dance-off because of this and it wasn’t faaaaaaair and the Radio Times did its annual article asking if ‘shock’ dance-offs like that meant the judges should have all the power. The power that put Helen in the bottom two in the first place I swear to god. [Sweet Jesus, that article. Of all the things that are wrong with the format of this show, "allowing the public to vote for people" is really not one of them. - Steve]

Tonight! We are reminded of everybody’s journeys: Anita learning to dance for the first time, Katie being good at ballroom but not so much Latin, Georgia being a special little princess, Jay being a total woobie and Kellie very much looking forward to having some sleep at some point thank you.

Cue credits! There are lions in the background of Oti and Antony’s shot. Lions!

Tess and Claudia enter, accompanied by Gleb and Anton. Daly dress watch: black, with a sort of glitzy top that looks a little bit boxy, although the shape of the skirt is nice. What Winkleman’s wearing: black again, with one shoulder in a vest and one shoulder in a sleeve. Both of these outfits are ‘almost but not quite’ type affairs. Still, I suspect Tess isn’t going to perfectly match the scenery like she did last week.

The judges wander on and if you think their attempts at doing ‘The Strictly’ had got more lacklustre as the series has gone on, tonight they’re not even pretending. Only Craig makes any attempt to dance and even that is with a giggle and a ‘fuck this, who cares’ shrug when he sees no-one else bothering. Such a tone to set for the rest of the evening! [We should've noticed the warning signs and got out while we still could. - Steve] Our contestants enter: Kellie and Kevin; Anita and Gleb; Katie and Anton; Georgia and Giovanni; Jay and Aliona. Kellie is really putting her energy into the theme tune jig. Everybody else: not so much.

The first couple of the evening are Katie and Anton. Their VT focuses on how "Katie" [i.e. Anton] can’t believe she’s in the semifinals and how she feels intimidated by the Charleston because everybody else has done well. The training footage doesn’t bode well, as neither of them appear to be into it and keep fluffing their moves. She then watches some superimposed messages from viewers on a tablet wishing her well. She appears to be a favourite amongst grandmotherly types.

They are dancing the Charleston to ‘Too Damn Hot’ and the lighting is comprised of really nice blues and yellows. See, I’m trying to say something nice about it. It doesn’t start out too badly, but it very quickly starts to fall apart. It’s incredibly sloppy and it looks under-rehearsed (the joys of two-dance week). Katie’s arms in particular are giving it nothing except a feeling of not really caring. It isn’t quite as bad as a certain judge’s comments and marks will claim, but it’s pretty sloppy and clumsy and all of the lifts and transitions are executed quite poorly. Then towards the end the two of them get out of time with one another and the whole thing falls to pieces. They just about manage to style it that it’s meant to look that way, because drunken messes are part of their charm but overall, it’s not a great result and they may as well have gone for the samba if they were going to embarrass themselves, it would have been more spectacular.

Tess welcomes the singers, Dave Arch, and the orchestra and goes over to the judges. Len says the song was hot and they looked great, but the lifts were clumsy, the dance wasn’t slick and they looked out of their comfort zones. The audience boo and Len says ‘it’s the semi-final, we praise everyone!’ I love how this show is now so blatant about the way the scoring and comments work being nothing to do with the dances and all to do with their position in the schedule. Bruno says it was ‘Loosey Goosey’ and it should be better in the quarter-finals and then is reminded that this is the semi-finals. Anton says ‘don’t take being in the semi-final away from me now!’ We get a cut to Harry Judd in the audience looking very disapproving. Craig says it was stiff looking with no swivel, the kicks were out of time and they need to hope their next dance is perfect because that dance won’t get them into the final. Darcey says it was charming at the start, but they need to follow that through until the end and she faded as the dance went on and they lost stamina and went out of sync with each other.

Up in the Clauditorium, everyone welcomes them with sympathy and Katie says she didn’t think it was that bad, but then she wasn’t watching it, she was dancing it. We are reminded that Katie loves ballroom and she says she does, but she’s loved everything. Scores: four, seven, seven, seven for a total of 25. Katie and Anton both look floored by the four. Anton asks if they can get Donny Osmond on the phone. Tee hee. [I'm inclined to think the four was too harsh, but the sevens were way too generous. So nobody marked this dance correctly, well done everyone. - Steve]

Because it’s two dance week, Claudia makes a joke that she is going to read the terms and conditions twice, but she doesn’t follow through and she begs ‘fire me’ and Tess pleads ‘never’. Aww.  Such a love between these two.  It’s much nicer than when Tess had to grimace her way through sexual harassment every week. [I notice Tess doesn't dare to tempt anyone to fire her. - Steve]

Jay and Aliona are second and in the so-called death slot. He says that he felt ‘wicked’ in musicals week last week. Wrong musical, Jay. They also get some good luck messages from a more diverse range of ages, everyone from kids to pensioners.

They are dancing the Viennese waltz to ‘Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?’ because the ghost of Bryan Adams is apparently all over this series for some reason.  It is basically the same contemporary dance you tend to get in a rumba, with a couple of in-hold spins around the floor as a slight nod to the genre. It’s pretty and lovely and everything, but it’s nothing to do with the dance it’s meant to be-or at least, very little. Still, it’s testament to Aliona knowing what she’s got to work with and trying to play to Jay’s strengths so I can’t entirely blame her for it.

Jay says it’s been difficult learning two dances, but they’re quite different and that’s helped him keep them separate in his mind. All this time, he and Tess are holding hands, how sweet. Bruno says he loves the atmosphere and the turns and the way Jay’s arms flow, although he thought it could have done with more drive. Craig loved the contemporary dance opening and the use of pirouettes. He thought it was simple and effective, though Jay could work more on his top line, but he thought the storyline felt more like Aliona had dumped him (dear God) because he was pulling faces and looked miserable throughout. Tess says that he’s saving his performance breakthrough for the Charleston. Ha! Darcey says she disagrees with Craig and says she could feel the romance between them from the start because the dance was incredibly lyrical. She says sometimes, because this technique is so good, he does look a little bit uncomfortable but it was a very nice performance overall. Len says he’s in a bit of a pickle although he doesn’t want to be. He loved the start and the use of fleckerls, but he’s going to say something that is ‘not being nasty’, which is that Jay has to close his feet more.  The audience boo and Len snaps that he is passionate about getting the right people into the final. Yes, because Jay is totally the one in danger of not getting there rather than the only one whose place is pretty much guaranteed. Note the lack of ‘purity of dance’ criticisms here, they might come in handy later for a bit of grumbling about the judges’ comments.  Just a hunch.

In the Clauditorium, Jay says they do focus on technique and performance in rehearsals and Claudia says he seems to have enjoyed the Viennese waltz even more than the Charleston. Jay says he really enjoys romance. Aliona then drapes herself over him. These two are really not helping with those rumours, are they? Scores: eight, nine, eight, nine for a total of 34. Jay makes unconvincing ‘whoa’ noises at those scores, pretending to be impressed, and it’s about the best acting he’s done so far this series.

The third couple of the evening are Georgia and Giovanni. Georgia’s hair has been madly curled which makes her look like a long lost McQueen sister. [I keep getting "Katy Perry" from her lately, personally. - Steve] Their VT features Georgia crying a lot because she didn’t want to be in the bottom two and then she is really really ill with pharyngitis. Her doctor says she can’t get thrown around the floor too much and this makes the rehearsals for their cha-cha-cha quite difficult. Poor Georgia. She really does appear very upset in this VT, although I guess that will probably keep her out of the bottom two. Her supporters seem to be fairly diverse, although not as much as Jay’s.

Their cha-cha-cha is to 'I Will Survive' and Georgia is in red with lace all up for the sides whilst Giovanni’s red shirt is entirely open with his chest out. It’s disco Latin, so it plays out as most other disco Latin numbers do. If you’re going to turn any genre of Latin dance into disco, however, it may as well be cha-cha-cha, which is the boringest of all the Latins. The under-rehearsal and Georgia’s illness have clearly taken their toll on this performance, which is incredibly rote and workmanlike. It’s very sloppy in the arm work and feels like it’s something they’re doing because they have to get through it, rather than something they are enjoying. Of course, it’s Georgia, so even a bad dance from her looks okay, but I think they’re probably happy to get that over and done with.

Tess asks Georgia if she is feeling better and Georgia says no, not really. Bless. Craig says she lost hip action (which gets boos) but he adored it and loved the disco feel. Craig does seem to have a weird soft spot for disco Latin, doesn’t he? Darcey says she loves the relationship between them and liked that they were playing with each other in the dance although the moves needed to have more straightness in the finishing. Len said it lacked some polish because they’d had limited time to rehearse, and the hip action and the straight legs weren’t really there, but she did well considering how ill she’s been. Bruno said he is all shaken and stirred and calls her a sexy little thing and 'yeah there’s a tiny thing of getting the movement right, but she had a great time, so who cares'?

In the Clauditorium, Giovanni says they only finished that dance yesterday. Claudia asks Georgia which she prefers, ballroom or Latin and Georgia says she likes them both, but she does have a soft spot for ballroom. Scores: eight, eight, eight, nine for a total of 33.

The fourth couple are Anita and Gleb. Anita laughs in her VT that she thought she did all right last week until Craig started having a go at her feet. As with all this week's VTs, she is shown having difficulty in training and being driven on by public support. Having seen this four times in a row, I’m getting slightly bored of the storyline. Anita’s fan base is much smaller than the others’, and consists of teenagers upwards.

They are dancing the foxtrot to 'New York, New York' and the dance opens with Anita lying on a grand piano, whilst Gleb swishes on with a black Panama hat, which he tips to Anita, before doing a little dance with the hat dropped over his eyes. See - Gleb is so good he can dance without watching! Eventually, he remembers that he is supposed to be dancing with Anita, and turns back to lift her off the piano. They begin their hold with some lovely swirls, but as the dance progresses, it suffers a little from the fact that it is a song that really requires a ritzy, American smooth style production, rather than a foxtrot - and so it starts to lean into that genre a bit more than it maybe should. Anita also has some very weird ribbons around her wrists that keep getting in her face whenever she lifts her arms up and that’s a bit distracting. [They really were awful. I'm not sure if full arm-hankies would have been less disruptive or more, but at least they would have left Anita looking less like she was trapped in a really crap ghost train. - Steve] There’s a lovely split in the middle, and then there’s a wonderful bits where Gleb swishes her around the floor and manages to get her up without it collapsing [phrasing - Steve] as it has done in so many other routines where that’s been tried. I think that’s probably one of their best ballroom routines so far, but it would have been better without the silly arm ribbons and with a bit less faffing about at the start.

Darcey says it was lovely, but Anita needs to watch her top line, especially when she’s in hold, and she doesn’t hold her own top line as well as she could. However, she could see that Anita was really thinking about the extension and everything. Len says when she got into hold, there were all the things he loved in the footwork, but then it sort of turned into an American smooth and she forgot all about staying in hold. I think that’s the fault of the music more than anything. Now, I have absolutely no problem with the judges criticising the choreography: I don’t mind that they are judging a pair rather than the celebrity (I know some people would wish that they only judge the celebrity though). However, I do take issue when they blame the celebrity for the choreography. If you’re going to criticise that, then directs the criticism at the professional dancer (or the third party choreographer)-it’s not as if the celebrity can do anything to help that, is it? Len said it was a lovely American Smooth, but he was looking for more than a foxtrot. Okay, Len, get pernickety over this one but ignore the waft-o-rama that was Jay’s “Viennese waltz”. Whatever. [Foxtrots are boring, I say making them more like American smooths can only be a good thing. - Steve] Bruno says she really understood the spirit of the dance. He says he sometimes been a bit hard on her because of the flow of the movements, but he thought tonight this was correct aside from a few problems with the top line and overall he thought it was wonderful. Craig says he was slightly more impressed than last week and he liked the foxtrot part, but worried when they go into the American smooth, because when she extends, she doesn’t fully do so. Darcey wrinkles her nose up at this, given that it’s effectively the reverse of her comments. Craig says there are problems when she tries to do things is too ambitious and thinks that she can’t do it, she shouldn’t. I don’t think Gleb takes that as an answer, Craig. Anyway, Craig still loved it apparently.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia says she is trying so hard and she’s really moved that the public saved her and Anita says yes and she was really thinking about her footwork and she’s happy that the judges give her good advice and she was really delighted to dance to New York on Frank Sinatra’s birthday. Scores: seven (even though Craig 'loved' it), eight, eight, nine for a total of 32. I guess that’s four dances in a row where we are expecting to see a second dance breakthrough. Let’s see if Kellie and Kevin can make it a clean sweep of underwhelming routines/scores, shall we?

Kellie’s VT sees her wearing a very sparkly Christmas tree adorned jumper and saying that she loved last week where her character Linda Carter was basically the one dancing, let’s face it. Unsurprisingly, Kellie and Kevin are struggling in their training with being raunchy in the rumba. I can’t see it as an atmosphere that comes naturally to either of them. Their fan base is quite small according to the footage, with even fewer supporters than Anita and Gleb, although they also appeal to a range of ages.

Their rumba is to 'Songbird' and features Kellie in sparkly green, and Kevin in sparkly navy and I don’t think the two outfits go very well together, which suggests that perhaps one of them was a bit of a last-minute change from wardrobe. Technically, this is not bad as a rumba. The movements are there and it flows quite well. However, Kevin does look like he’s about to burst out laughing throughout the whole thing, which does undermine it somewhat. Then there’s the bits where Kellie leans forward and her legs start wobbling and it looks like she’s about to fall over because she’s not balanced properly. Fortunately, that seems to be the only slip-up in what is otherwise a fairly straightforward but generally well danced rumba. Kellie looks a bit disappointed at the end, I guess she felt that the slipup might have cost her.

Tess says Len seems to have either loved or hated rumbas the series and Len says there were a lot of elements that he loved like a spiral and the forward and back basics. He liked the way Kellie settled into her hip and that the routine had light and shade and different dynamics within it. He notes the wobble and he says he wished it hadn’t been there because otherwise he wouldn’t have found anything wrong with it. Bruno calls it prim, proper and correct - something which mother (/Brendan) would have approved. He says it looks more like a brother and sister dance. Kevin says he’d never dance like that with his sister and we cut to Joanne laughing and Karen looking slightly scared, whilst Oti pulls a face of ‘my god don’t start the incest jokes, what kind of show have I got myself into, I thought this was going to be prim and proper British uptight clean fun and not only do I have to put up with a Bruno, a Gleb and Tess, you’re now putting those unsavoury images in my mind.’

Bruno continues that Kellie lost balance on one of her extensions and he thought her arms could have been more stretched, but the content was generally fantastic and it was a good performance. Craig says he can tell that she worked really hard on the dance and he thought it was technically brilliant - at which the audience whoop loudly - and thinks it was almost perfect. Darcey says she wasn’t expecting that because she could see that Kellie has worked really hard, and she thought it was really lyrical and that Kellie caressed the floor. She says it was a shame about the mistake, but that shows how difficult the dance is. She would have liked a bit more chemistry, because she’s a sucker for showmance, even though these two are the two least likely.

As they run up to the Clauditorium, Kellie says she is annoyed with herself and Kevin reassures her that she is brilliant. They arrive to see Brendan and Aljaž on bent knees waiting to welcome her. What most of us wouldn’t give et cetera et cetera. Kellie keeps saying that she could kick herself for making the mistake and Claudia says she achieved the rare feat of actually enjoying the rumba. Kellie says she loves learning new things and thinks the dance is really challenging, even though she isn't a man. Scores: nine, eight, nine, eight for a total of 34. Kellie explodes at the nine from Craig, as well she might. Claudia says the other celebrities and pros are shouting ‘under marked!’

Were halfway through two dance week now and here we have a half-time leaderboard:

Jay and Aliona 34
Kellie and Kevin 34
Georgia and Giovanni 33
Anita and Gleb 32
Katie and Anton 25

So there's quite a discrepancy there between Katie and Anton and the rest of the pack, but that, of course, only leaves room for a redemption storyline with the waltz and Anton possibly getting his first tens, whilst there is room for everybody else to improve in the second dance as well.

I am intrigued at the outfits the female pros are wearing in the background, by the way. Whilst the male pros all seem relatively subdued, the women are all in incredibly bright colours: Janette is in a bright pinky-purple fringed hotpants and cropped top getup, whilst Natalie is in a flamenco-on-acid pink dress, Kristina is in gold sequins, whilst Karen and Joanne are both in bright blue.  They all look a bit like they've been rummaging in the cast-off-costumes bin.

Tess and Claudia preview Jay coming up with the TARDIS, and Claudia gets into the TARDIS and disappears-by which, I mean closes the door-they don’t do the dematerialisation effect or anything. She then comes out in a dolphin costume where she says to Tess that in the future, the dolphins are in charge, so Tess needs to get one of those to learn to fit in. What makes it art is that you can’t see Claudia’s eyes for most of this and then she dips them to cheekily grin out at us at the end of the joke.

We are now at our annual judges standing room of lights and debating the contestants moment. Katie’s journey is, unsurprisingly, that "Katie" is good at ballroom but bad at Latin (it’s worth remembering at this point, that their quickstep was a complete car crash, whilst their rumba was surprisingly good), that Anton has got a good dancer et cetera et cetera move along here there is nothing to learn from this. [Also I'm not sure their claim that she has made a mistake every single week is necessarily borne out by the comments they made at the time. - Steve]

They are dancing the waltz to 'O Mio Babbino Caro' and it begins with lovely moody blue and purple lighting, a constellation of stars as the backdrop and dry ice all over the place, as Katie plays the part of an old wino sitting on a park bench stashing her bottle underneath a lovely wistful woman, sitting around, waiting for someone to sweep her off her feet. She looks lovely in pink and gold sparkles and her facial expressions are very Katie-serene with that light touch of a little too much Pinot Noir. The atmosphere of the dances all lovely and romantic, and the lighting couldn’t really be more flattering. However, it’s a shame that the dancing is not the semi-final ballroom wow we were all expecting. There are a couple of bits where it looks like Katie actually treads on Anton’s feet and her arms don’t seem to be especially polished, whilst her top line feels too relaxed and upright. It’s okay, but it’s kind of hard to get excited about the waltz at this stage in the competition. I would have much preferred to see their Samba, if only for the entertainment potential-and given that Anton is allegedly the king of ballroom, I would have liked to see the waltz pulled out a lot earlier, so they could flourish with a Viennese or an American smooth at this stage. Given that this is the dance that’s been all primed for an Anton getting his first 10 moment, it falls a bit flat.

Bruno says it’s very difficult to get a waltz right because of all the phrasing and emotion you have to get across and it has to be perfect at this stage, but it wasn’t. He says there were moments of imbalance and she lost the arch in her back. He says that he’s Italian and Puccini is God for him, and he needed everything to be perfect, when you are dancing to music that is a work of genius you aim to high and he says she fell short. Craig says he totally disagrees with Bruno and the audience cheer really loudly. He says he really enjoyed it and thinks Katie redeemed herself. He says there was a balance issue where she had to pinch Anton’s arm to stay up, but well done. Darcey says she did ‘such a better job’ but her top line is a little upright and she needed to lean out more concerned because the waltz is so slow, you need great control, and unfortunately-at which point the audience boo already-it went wrong in places, where she ended up on the wrong foot that then set up the next section wrong. He says it’s breaking his heart as well as probably breaking hers, but it was a bit unstable. Bruno says you can’t make it up, you can only judge what you see.

Katie and Anton both look a little bit disappointed that this and they slope off to the Clauditorium looking somewhat defeated and Katie looks like she’s about to burst into tears. Awww. Claudia reminds them that Craig liked it and he doesn’t even like that much and Katie says she’s always liked Craig and says she’s loved every minute and every dance even the ones that have been hard and she feels that she could kick herself when she makes mistake and spoils it for Anton. Anton says he’s not that interested in what goes on down below it’s all up top. [Poor Mrs Anton. - Steve] Yes, Anton, the top line that she was criticised for. Scores: eight, nine, seven, seven for a total of 31. Claudia says it’s higher than the Charleston. Anton says they should have had more smoke, up to their necks. I don’t normally like Anton humour, but he seems to be quite good form tonight.

The judges comments on Jay’s journey are that he is the last man standing, a musical dancer, that jive, a rubbish comedown the week after, no facial expression yada yada yada. Hey, guess what? He has the Charleston next the dance that is renowned for being everyone’s performance breakthrough and the obvious natural climax to Jay’s journey (beyond winning of course).

The theming for this dance is so bloody odd. It is ostensibly based on Doctor Who - which seems a bit superfluous once the series has ended - where was this earlier on as a ratings-boosting bit of in-house promotion? There isn’t even a guest actor from the show in the audience. You could at least have got Colin Baker, he'll turn up to anything. Aliona plays the part of generic companion-except, she looks nothing like any companion we’ve ever had, in a white bobbed wig and flasher mac. Jay, meanwhile, is what somebody who’s never actually watched Doctor Who would imagine The Doctor would look like: he has a scarf! And a bowtie! And, yeah, some other things too. He is meant to be, I guess, a hybrid of Tom Baker and Matt Smith, but also wearing stuff that isn’t really like any of them, such as a fawn jacket, waistcoat and trousers combo. However, the issue with this theme is less that it is completely inauthentic in terms of its reference to Doctor Who, more that it bears absolutely no relation to the story of the dance, which, once the two of them have done a little bit of mucking about in the TARDIS and gone back in time to the 1920s, reverts to a fairly normal Charleston. So much for Aliona’s claims that this would be a contemporary take on it - it’s as traditional as they come, pretty much. That’s not to say it isn’t energetic, fun and well danced, because it is all of those things. Jay kind of smiles in a couple of places, which I guess is the performance breakthrough we needed? He’s really light on his feet though, and this is probably not a surprise, given that this is the dance most like the jive and something he clearly excels at. His jumps and kicks look effortless but are quite complicated I think. Then there’s a bit where he full on drops Aliona in a lift and picks her up again, but fortunately does so without disrupting the dance too much.

The audience whoop and his bandmates in The Wanted are in the audience clapping. One of them seems more into it than the other. Tess asks Craig if he got the smile he wanted and Craig says Jay, with a long pause, that the audience boo at, because they haven’t yet learned what a Craig fake-out is. Of course, he thought it was brilliant and the whole room erupts in cheers. He says he doesn’t know whether Jay meant to drop Aliona and Aliona says yes, something she sticks to throughout the comments. I’m assuming she’s joking, because it didn’t look neat enough to be rehearsed, but at one point she does seem to sincerely believe it, so who knows? Darcey says the drop was odd, but he picked up well. We then get a cut to the pros in the Clauditorium and Natalie giving Joanne some sort of knowing look about an in-joke that I only wish we were party to. I know the BBC is cutting back on its red button footage, but what I would give for the red button to be used to pick up the backstage banter in the Clauditorium. It would be make way more entertaining than when they used to get Karen Hardy talking to some third place bloke from six series previous. Len says he loved that when things fell apart they just got on and picked it up and he thought it was a fantastic routine overall. Bruno, in Dalek voice, goes ‘Exhilarate! Exhilarate!’ and calls Jay the Time Lord of the dance. He says he thought the drop looked like it was meant to be there - Aliona says it was and gives him a high five.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia pretends that she thought Craig wouldn’t do his big old Craig fake out. Jay says the Charleston is cool. Claudia says 'who knew?' Jay says 'everyone'. Ha. Scores: nine, nine, nine, 10 for a total of 37. I guess that was originally destined for a 40 until the drop. It’s kind of feels a little odd that we haven’t had one this series yet, and that Craig has refused to pick up his 10 paddle for something completely random and underwhelming as he's usually done by this point.

We are now back with Georgia and Giovanni and reminded that they were in the dance off last week. The judges comments about them focus on her being young (Bruno even calls her a little girl at one point - she’s almost 25 Bruno), an all-rounder, having a breakthrough Charleston, having slightly crappy shoulders and neck.

This week they are dancing the Viennese waltz. I was convinced they’d already done this about 8 million times, but it turns out that they’ve only done it once before, in their American smooth. I guess it’s partly because she’s worn so many classic ballroom dresses that it feels like she’s been doing those kinds of dances all series. They are dancing to 'Runaway' by The Corrs and Georgia is not in a classical ballroom dress for a change, rather a pretty white sundress, whilst Giovanni is in pale grey and white. The story is that they are sweethearts who meet up under a little tree and then leave the props behind to do a pretty but generic and Viennese waltz. I know most people seem to really like this dance, but it’s one of my least favourite genres, partly because the only interesting thing about it is all the spins and the spins make me feel a bit sick. Generally, this is well performed, but there is a stutter where it looks like she’s about to trip over his feet about halfway through. Fortunately, they don’t let that bother them too much and then they just spin a lot, sway a bit, smile plenty and it’s all very sweet and slightly dull.

The audience love it, because they are really trying to love everything this evening, despite it all being somewhat underwhelming.  Darcey calls her a breath of fresh air and Georgia beams at that. Darcey says that she kept the frame despite all the spins and we cut to Georgia’s boyfriend standing alone clapping. I’m sure that was not meant to look as hilarious as it actually did. [Maybe he's a distant relative of Arlene's? - Steve] Len says it was full of content, rotation and lyrical movement and he is full of admiration for her. Bruno says they are adorable sweethearts, swept away by romance and as a Viennese waltz, it was ‘right on the money, honey’, and if they are in the dance off tomorrow, he will do it in speedos. Given that is probably a fair chance that they could be, I wouldn’t make that bet if I were you, Bruno. Craig says he could watch her dance all night. Georgia gets hysterical as well you might given that there was no comment there about any room for improvement at all. However, is that enough for a clean sweep?

In the Clauditorium, Claudia mentions that Georgia’s boyfriend was standing and clapping alone, and we cut to him looking really embarrassed. Georgia says she loved both of her dancers, although she feels a bit more comfortable in ballroom, because she spent lots of time watching YouTube footage of Joanne Clifton. Who knew we had another fangirl romance going on in this show? Scores: nine, ten (at which Georgia screams, and then clutches her throat, remembering how much it hurts), nine, 10 for a total of 38. Giovanni hugs Georgia very tight and lifts her into the air. Georgia then bursts into tears and Claudia asks if she’s crying and she says no and promptly stops. Hee.

The penultimate couple are Anita and Gleb and Tess says that they have been both top and bottom of the leaderboard. Except top. #justiceforteamglita The judges’ comments are about how she works hard, throws everything into it, takes feedback on board and they lie that she was crap at the beginning and has that improved, rather than being someone who’s been pretty good all the way along, but she is not a natural dancer, and has poor footwork. However, they think her strengths outshine her weaknesses and her performance is really good.

Anita and Gleb are doing the salsa this week and they have come as some sort of futuristic cheerleader-cum-air steward-cum-majorette hybrids in bright blue and whites, with glitter all over Anita’s face. They are dancing to ‘Feel This Moment’ and it is completely, utterly insane. It is a show dance in all but name, with just a few hip wiggles as a nod to the salsa. Instead, it’s a whirlwind of lifts, jumps, hip-hop poses, armography a plenty, random kicks, a bit where Gleb looks like he’s punching Anita in the stomach, a crackers bit where he tips her upside down, pokes his head through her legs and moves her around slowly, backflips from Anita, lots of punching and kicking. It’s frenetic, entertaining and ridiculous and I love it even though it’s got about as much salsa in it as a Sunday dinner. It ends with Gleb tipping Anita pretty much upside down and the two of them jumping for joy when she's the right way up.

The audience go completely wild for it, I bet it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch that live. If that’s Gleb’s salsa, I can only imagine what he has prepared for show dance in the final, should he get there. I’m kind of leaning towards him probably going in the opposite direction and doing something wafting and contemporary, yet full of Gleb specials and ridiculousness. Dear God, I absolutely love Gleb. And Anita, but that was always a given before the series started. Tess says that Anita is really brave to do all those lifts and points at Gleb’s chest and asks if he’s still allergic to buttons.  Put the fingers away, Daly.

Len says they threw everything into it, but dance is a balance and if you do too much of one thing you lose a bit of something else, and this dance lost a bit of the salsa because of it being very athletic and full on. I like how you’ve got all purity of dance of this one, Len, when we had barely any Viennese waltz in Jay and Aliona’s performance. For some reason, it seems to be Gleb and Anita that are getting all of those rants from him this series. I guess Gleb is in the same position with Len that Aliona was a few years ago: a young upstart new pro who needs to be taught a few lessons from the Len School of hard knocks. [And I imagine Gleb's going to pay about as much attention as Aliona did. - Steve] Bruno says she was an amazing cheerleader who was thrown into place and into positions that he thought, under other circumstances, you could get arrested for. He appreciates what they did, but he thought there were some shaky moments and they lost the fluidity of the salsa somewhere. Gleb looks at him all ‘Who gives a fuck about the salsa?’ Craig calls her a brave woman and says it was like watching the Olympics rather than a salsa and he strangely really enjoyed it. Darcey asks how on earth she learned all that dancing in one week and says the routine was really complex, and most ladies would baulk at that and drop half of it. She says although it lost some of the salsa content, because-altogether now, the boys (or ‘guys’ tonight) are right-it was phenomenal.

Claudia says that it was extraordinary and more like a show dance and she asks Anita if she was scared of the lifts and Anita says there was no time for fear and she didn’t really have any choice because Gleb just made her do it. Scores: eight, eight, eight, eight, for a bullshit 32. I mean, sure, if you’re going to get all technical about it, it wasn’t much of a salsa, but there have been lots of other dances this series that didn’t resemble the thing they were meant to be, and that hasn’t stopped the judges giving them high marks. If that were Jay or Georgia, they would be rushing to shower it in tens. But then, they’ve been undermarking these two all series. I know that we are both unashamed stans here, so not really particularly objective, but it really does seem as though the judges have something against them - or possibly against Gleb. Claudia says if we don’t want Anita to go back to Countryfile just yet, we should vote. Claudia, have you not been watching all the VT’s where she was still presenting as well as doing this?

The final couple of the night are Kellie and Kevin and it feels like we’ve gone a marathon, as it inevitably does in two dance week. I would so rather we had an extra week in the series, and saved two dance week until the semi-final of four couples, before proceeding to a three couple final. That would also have the added benefit of others seeing the couples who got to the final dance every genre rather than missing one (I am, of course, issuing that they won’t be doing their missing routine in the final, as that’s not been how it’s played out the last few years). For info, the dances we have missed are:
  • Anton and Katie - samba
  • Kellie and Kevin - Argentine tango
  • Georgia and Giovanni - Argentine tango
  • Anita and Gleb - Viennese waltz
  • Jay and Aliona - samba
For what it’s worth, of those I would most have loved to see Anton and Katie doing the Samba for the hilarity, and Georgia and Giovanni doing the Argentine Tango for the technique (I believe they were meant to be doing that this week until she got ill and had to do the cha-cha-cha).

Anyway, back to Kellie and Kevin, and the judges’ comments note that they do well in the performance/fun heavy dances, but she needs to watch her top line sometimes. It feels like they have a lot less to say about this pairing than any of the others - maybe they are just as desperate to get two-dance week over and done with as we all are.

They are dancing the American smooth to 'Let’s face the music and dance' and almost immediately you can see why this was put in the pimp slot. Everything about it is set up to get the series' first 40: the perfect combination of music and genre, the Great Gatsby style art deco scenery and lighting, the two of them looking gorgeous in a ballgown and tails, Fred and Ginger style, the golden lighting, the two of them being slightly exaggerated performers as befits this style, the many, many lifts, including one really spectacular one where he keeps spinning her around, she steps on the floor with 1 foot and then gets whirled round again and this happens repeatedly - I’m sure there’s a proper technical term for this, but whatever it is, it looks really impressive. It’s fun, well danced, very traditional, very Kevin - and looks set to propel them to the top of the leaderboard, if not to the first perfect score of the series. It’s completely shameless in its plea for points, and is in no way a creative take on the dance, but it doesn’t always need to be when it’s executed so well. The whole thing erupts in a massive spin and a load of fireworks along with rapturous audience response. [I thought the staging looked very Mr Selfridge, and wondered if Kellie and Jay - or perhaps Kevin and Aliona - were having a secret TV theme week that they hadn't told anyone else about. - Steve]

Bruno says they have the Fred and Ginger legacy and he loved the cross-reference of the moves, which were taken from the films and Kevin smiles at this. Bruno says it was absolutely delicious, and Kevin and Kellie both be met this, as we cut to people in the audience who seem very happy-I’m sure were supposed to know who these are, but I don’t. Craig says they danced it absolutely beautifully, and there was a little shame, where they came down a little bit late for the final move, which would have set the whole thing off beautifully. Darcey says it had glamour, flair and all the Hollywood charm, with wonderful lists and side-by-sides. Len says as soon as Kellie stepped out, he knew he was gonna love it and that tonight is all about who deserves to get the final and they need to be there, even if the public hasn’t exactly been on their side all the way through.

They go up to the Clauditorium, where everyone is cheering to greet them and Claudia reminds Kellie that she wanted to wear a proper princess dress all series and Kellie says she loved the dress and had the best time doing the dance. Claudia tells us that Kellie has been starting work at 7am and rehearsing until midnight and therefore is running on nothing but fumes, but hey, what is family and rest when you have the magic of Strictly? Scores: nine, 10, 10, 10 for a total of 39. That really had felt like it was going to be the first 40 of the series, and then… not. Still, it compels them to the top of the leaderboard and means it looks less likely that they will be in the dance off this week, although I think it could be absolutely anyone there except for Jay this time around. That semi-final leaderboard?

Kellie and Kevin 34+39 = 73
Jay and Aliona 34+37 = 71
Georgia and Giovanni 33+38 = 71
Anita and Gleb 32+32= 64
Katie and Anton 25+31 = 56

[I was out during the live show and when I went on Wikipedia on my way home to look at the results, I was very surprised to see Kellie at the top of the leaderboard and assumed it had been a massive rigathon to get Katie or Anita out. And then I watched the show and felt bad about that, because Kellie was far and away the best dancer tonight. Sorry Kellie, I shouldn't have doubted you. - Steve]

Claudia drags Dave Arch into the Clauditorium to declare the vote lines open and everyone plays fake instruments in the background, except for Brendan who just goes around a bit like Benedict Cumberbatch trying to photo bomb everyone, before picking up Giovanni and jumping around with him in his arms. [*slashfic* - Steve]

Tomorrow night! Somebody goes home, we learn who the finallists will be and we have a guest performance from Kylie and at last I won’t have to fast forward a guest performer this series. Join me then!