Strictly Speaking: Week 8

Saturday Live Show

There’s something different about this week’s show, I can’t quite put my finger on what it is….Oh yes, Tess is wearing a bright red nylon jumpsuit. It’s quite horrible, like something out of Abigail’s Party. The professionals open the show with a routine to Viva Las Vegas, which is actually a bit rubbish. I’m confused as I notice that  ‘BLACKPOOL’ is spelt out in lights on the backdrop. Why would this be? Does this mean that – gasp – Strictly is coming to us DIRECT FROM THE BALLROOM MECCA OF THE NORTH? Why did nobody tell me?!?


Right. Tonight Brucie actually makes a joke that makes me laugh, when he calls Widdy a politician nobody can vote out. Granted, it’s a hollow laugh. VERY HOLLOW. It’s Patsy and Robin’s turn to get the party started with a samba, and Patsy is hoping that her inner showgirl will make an appearance. Her confidence still seems rather shaky – in the VT she proclaims “we all know that I’m average”. Oh, Patsy. Still, she brings great energy to the routine and they certainly warm the audience up. It’s a bit skippy in places, and there are no samba rolls, which makes me sad. I love samba rolls. Len notes that there were a lot of nice basic steps but also a mistake, Alesha thinks Patsy looked like a real showgirl, and Bruno calls Pasty a scrumpet. I love it when Bruno makes up words. Craig is underwhelmed, saying it lacked hip action and lightness and was very stompy. Up with Tess Patsy says how she was dying to go and dance in ‘the North’, as she loves it there – as much as I’m sure Robin loves her I bet he wishes she’d zip it occasionally. They get 28.

During training for their American smooth Artem sustains a neck injury (while lifting Kara – surely she’s about as heavy as a marshmallow?). There are tears aplenty in the VT as Kara worries that she’s really hurt him, and he worries that she thinks it’s her fault (awww), and everyone else worries that they may not be able to perform. They do though, and I LOVE IT. I love the choice of music (the Buble version of Cry Me A River), the swirling dry ice, the lifts, the paso elements (unusual!), the intensity, all of it. Kara dances so beautifully I could weep. As they walk over to the judges they applaud each other, and Artem looks like he’s really suffering but is determined to remain stoic. Alesha says it was a seductive, smooth and intense routine and she felt she was watching two professionals, Bruno calls it a star turn and Craig agrees, praising Kara’s gorgeous lines and exquisite arm placement. Then we get to Len, who is “as confused as a baby in a topless bar” – he goes off on one about how he can’t judge it as a foxtrot American Smooth as they weren’t in hold enough. The audience boo, to which he stands up looking mightily pissed off, saying “don’t boo me”. Er, Len, Craig gets booed EVERY WEEK (often more than once) and he’s able to take it. Look and learn. Tess manages to confirm everyone’s suspicion that Kara and Artem are DOING IT by asking them if they’re enjoying  their romantic weekend in Blackpool. SHOWMANCE! Craig gives them a nine, and they get tens from Alesha and Bruno but Len gives them a measly six (total 35). Lennard Gordon Goodman, I am very disappointed in you.

Will Matt and Aliona get a ten this week? That’s basically the gist of their VT. I really enjoy their samba – Matt’s got that hip action down pat, there’s great movement around the floor and they perform my beloved samba rolls extremely well. The routine finishes with some great acrobatics from Matt, resulting in the third standing ovation of the night. At this rate I’m not sure it’s worth the audience sitting back down. Bruno has never seen a celebrity move their hips like Matt, and Craig praises his bounce action and improved thumbs (phew!). Len, of course, is not keen on the ‘flip flops’, telling Matt that just because he can do something doesn’t mean it belongs in the routine. Pfft. Tess yammers on about tens again so Alesha and Bruno oblige just to shut her up (with nines from Craig and Len they score 38).

Vincent is perturbed to have been in the bottom two again last week “Where are my women? They should be voting for me. Where are they – doing the dishes?” Oh Vincent, now I’m disappointed in you. Their American smooth begins with Felicity as a Hollywood star on the red carpet and Vincent as a papparazzo. It does nothing for me – half the time it looks like Felicity’s just walking about, looking confused. I’ve written “has she been drinking??” in my notes. The judges are rather more keen, however, with Alesha saying that it’s Felicity’s best dance. Hmmm. 30 is their score.

I’m not keen on Gavin and Katya’s American smooth at all, I’m afraid. The music (Tom Jones’s She’s A Lady) doesn’t fit this dance at all, and the start – with Gavin at a microphone miming along while moving his hips in a Tom Jones-esque way – is just tacky. The less said about Katya’s hat the better. Gavin still looks very self conscious when not in hold, and the much heralded Spectacular One-handed Lift Of Danger is not particularly exciting (especially as Katya wobbles around like a precariously placed Christmas tree fairy). Bruno tells Gavin off for getting nervous when he’s so big and strong, Craig thinks it was lame and lacklustre, Len says that it was excellent in parts (which parts?) and Alesha thinks Gavin is continuing to improve. They get 27 (it’s the 4 from Craig that brings it down).

Scott has taken to wearing a flat cap in training. Will no one point out that it looks really silly? He’s not comfortable with the hip action required for the samba, and tells Natalie that promenade runs sound like something you need to get tablets for. Something tells me his samba is not going to rival his jive….And I’m right, it’s not as good – his hips are a bit stiff and he looks like he’s desperate for the routine to be over. It’s by no means bad, I like the choreography and love the music, but there’s no doubting that Matt is more gifted in the hipular region. Alesha says he gave it a good go, Bruno calls Scott a Brazil nut, and Craig says he didn’t like the routine at all (no time for Len). They score 32, with a 6 from Craig that I think is a tad stingy.

Apparently James is the man to go to for hanky panky. Don’t all rush at once ladies! Last week the judges said they wanted to see more risks from him and Pamela, so there are some pretty daring lifts in their American Smooth. It’s a lovely routine, with a great ‘story’ and Pamela seems more comfortable than in recent weeks (even if she does look a bit woozy coming out of the first two lifts). Bruno says it was a beautifully danced American frisky, Craig remarks that it was a well structured routine danced extremely well but Pamela needs to lengthen her neck. Len proclaims it the best American smooth of the night, and Alesha crowns Pamela Queen of Blackpool. They get their first tens (James’s first tens EVER) from Bruno and Alesha, and an eight and a nine from Craig and Len, leaving them just behind Matt on the leader board. I’m not sure their performance was quite worth a ten, but hey ho.

You know what they say about saving the best for last? With Widdy and Anton closing the show with their interpretation of a samba I think (hope?) we can all agree this is not happening in Blackpool. They are costumed in bright yellow and gold – there are comparisons that could be made but I don’t want to insult Sesame Street characters. Widdy is adamant that she won’t be performing any ‘improper’ moves, so that’s all the samba steps out of the window. And here we go again, with yet another routine that consists largely of Widdy stomping about before being flung to the floor and twirled around like a mop. Why do people think this is funny? AND WHEN WILL IT END? Craig labels it overwhelmingly awful (HE SPEAKS THE TRUTH), Len likens it to hemorrhoids – they keep coming back more painful than ever, Alesha says it was entertaining and they make the room light up (that yellow is very bright, granted), and Bruno calls Widdy a lame canary (hey!) that never took off. They get one from Craig, three from Bruno and four from Alesha. Len gives them a five, and this is where I get very cross indeed (prepare for all-caps rant): HOW IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY CAN HE JUSTIFY GIVING THAT JUST ONE POINT LESS THAN HE GAVE KARA AND ARTEM? Surely, following his argument that their American smooth wasn’t in hold enough, his scoring for Widdy and Anton should reflect the fact that it was patently NOT A SAMBA, FFS. Still, at least they get the lowest ever score for a samba with 13. Now I’m off to wipe my memory with the aid of wine.

Sunday Results Show

I am worried for Patsy tonight, I really feel she’ll be in the bottom two,probably with Felicity and Vincent. There’s a female pro dance to Bootylicious (I enjoy the sight of Craig singing along), and then the judges pronouncements (this week conducted standing in a corridor, oh the glamour of BLACKPOOL). Len says it was the best night of the series, while Craig loved the crowd booing Len. First safe are Kara and Artem, Scott and Natalie and Pamela and James, with Felicity and Vincent in the bottom two. We hear a little plaintive cry of “No, no, no!” from Vincent but Felicity looks unsurprised. Alesha says it’s the nature of the beast, and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Seriously, is she getting sponsored per cliché?

After Cirque Du Soleil thrill us with a performance (the swingy bits are cool), we hear Pamela say that James will be insufferable now he’s had tens, and Scott promises to raise his game next week. The remaining couples through to week nine are Matt and Aliona, Widdy and Anton (AAAAAARRRGGGHHHHHHHHHHH) and Gavin and Katya, meaning that Patsy and Robin are indeed in the bottom two. *sob*

Duffy appears to sing her new single (in which she tells us over and over that she’s not guilty, of something), and dances quite oddly. Then it’s the moment of truth, and I’m actually holding my breath – Felicity and Vincent’s time is up. Aaaand exhale……

Were you thrilled by the magic of BLACKPOOL? Have you got a favourite? And who, pray, is voting for Widdy?



5 thoughts on “Strictly Speaking: Week 8

  1. Oh I love your reviews so very much, Anne-Marie.

    And given that I’m very slow on the uptake, it was only yesterday that I echoed your “HOW IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY CAN HE JUSTIFY GIVING THAT JUST ONE POINT LESS THAN HE GAVE KARA AND ARTEM?” Exactly! Widdecombe does not dance AT ALL! AT ALL! I was with Craig on that one.

    Did you see Claudia on ITT saying that she laughed until she was sick? At Ann’s dance, I mean. I don’t see what was funny about it. Some of her earlier dances did indeed make me laugh, but now it’s just old and tired and so not funny. Craig said he could see why children might find it funny, but Harry didn’t either. (And he can do those arm roll things way better than Ann can.)

    I was actually with Craig on Scott’s samba too (although maybe I would’ve stretched to a 7. Maybe.) I thought it was really poor.

    And Gavin’s was DEFINITELY lame and lacklustre. If you’re going to do that kind of opening, you need to really sell it. He looked embarrassed (as well he might) and wasn’t even moving his hips in time with the music. AND I had to look away when he did that lift. The way Katya had that fixed smile and was kind of wafting her arm? The shame.

    Ann aside, Felicity was probably the right one to go this week. Actually, it should have been Gavin, but whatever. I’ll miss Vincent though. Although a little bit less now you’ve told me that washing up comment. I missed that on the night.

    Who do you think’s going to win? I really can’t tell. (Although I do worry that it might actually be… no, I’m not even going to say it.)

  2. Thanks! I’m sorry they’re so very long…

    Yes, I did see Claudia on ITT, also lots of tweets re how funny Widdy’s samba was, but I just can’t see it myself – I did think the one where she came in on a wire was mildly amusing but that’s it. If she bothered to give more of a performance and engage with the audience (which for all his faults I think John Sargeant did) I could *possibly* forgive people for voting for her.

    Re Gavin and Katya, apparently the lift went wonky as her dress was so thick he struggled to get purchase, IYKWIM. But even so I think the one handed lift is just dull, lazy choreography for muscle bound rugby players.

    I think I finally have a proper favourite in Kara*, but I suspect she won’t win. I think if it’s not She Who Must Not Be Named, it will be Scott or Matt (she says, hedging her bets…). If the unthinkable does happen I may combust with fury!

    *I still love Patsy, obv, but I fear her days are numbered 😦

  3. Yes, I saw Katya saying that – he had hold of her dress and not her arse, yes? Also the dress was over his face which just made the whole thing look very precarious.

    I think Kara’s an amazing dancer, but I’ve yet to warm to her as a person. And I don’t think the “Oh, it’s been lovely… whoops!” bit on Saturday will have endeared her to people either. The public don’t usually go for someone it seems to all come so easily to, do they?

    In contrast, I absolutely have warmed to Ann as a person, even though, obviously, I can’t bear her politics. Partly it was down to that Decca Aitkenhead interview in the Guardian, but mainly I love her relationship with Anton and how she’s clearly having so much fun (possibly for the first time in her life) and she’s also so able to laugh at herself (a) with good reason and (b) possibly more than she should, but still. I guess if you didn’t know or care about her politics, maybe you’d just think she was wonderful. Although it *is* supposed to be a dance competition, FFS.

    I hope it’s going to be Matt. The opening of the samba was one of the best bits of celeb dancing I’ve ever seen.

    I honestly can’t imagine the BBC letting the unthinkable happen. I know it’d be risky to fix it, but I really think they’d have to. It would be a mockery of a sham, no?

  4. I do love the relationship between Widdy and Anton, that and the Guardian have helped to ‘humanise’ her, I just wish more of that side would come out on the dancefloor. I like Kara – I think I missed that bit you mentioned, but I won’t be upset if Matt wins.

    I think we’ll all need a lot of alcohol this Saturday – Widdy and Anton are doing the rumba……..

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