Saturday, 3 October 2015

Strictly Exhausting...

I hope you've been limbering up, because it's that time of year again, the annual marathon-length episode of SCD where every single contestant dances. We've been in prep all week and we're lacing up our sparkly trainers ready for the off...

As any Strictly Blogger will tell you, the second week is our Everest. 

Jamelia and Tristan
She's dressed as Sinitta and pretty much pulls it off, even with the mega-80s hair. She seemed a lot more comfortable with this one, which always helps the overall look of the thing, but her legs were as bent as a London copper in a 1970s film. She looked like she was trying to sit down at times. Saying that, it's early days and people seem to think she should be better than she is.
Whilst their costumes were a Take-Me-To-The-Emerald-City delight, the dance was, erm, not. Tasha on TV said on Twitter that her dress looked like a Quality Street and I think that goes a long way to explaining why I liked it so much. Mmm green triangles. Now, the dance itself, well. She looked like a giraffe in Moon Boots. It did have rhythm but it had next to no finesse. Either Tristan has not put any focus on actual technique, or she is truly not very good. Remember Michelle Williams? 

Daniel and Kristina
I thought this was going to be an absolute car-crash, with Daniel ending up lying on the floor in a heap or something, but it really wasn't! Lots of steps, cute song, looked like he was enjoying himself, it was all pretty cute. There were also some mad bits, like the hopping around in a circle and the solo where he looked like he was being electrocuted - but overall a great job by Kristina.
While we expected Jamelia to be good, we expected Daniel to be all kinds of abysmal. And he wasn't. He really wasn't. He had swivel and he had bounce. Where we expected him to robot his way through, he actually came alive (alive -oh.) Yes, he looked a little stumbly and unsure in parts but Kristina is one smart cookie and always knows how to get the best out of her partners. All in all, a pleasant surprise. 

Kirsty and Brendan
She had a lot to make up for this week, and there's nothing like high stakes like that to make someone stupidly nervous. While this was better, it still wasn't good, and really quite stiff during the whole thing - you could tell she was feel awkward. And holding on to that skirt for dear life, the hem must be shredded!
Since when did strutting about become an acceptable replacement for actual dancing? Again - what a a lovely dress. A rather huge bravo to the costume department this evening. But that dance was bordering on 'Meh.' Brendan is pretty much King-of-Choreography so I'm starting to think there's something bigger at play here. Have they had steps foisted upon them? Are they not getting on too well? I don't know but something's not quite right. 

Jay and Aliona
Oh Jay, you are allowed to look like you're enjoying it, especially when you're that good! I really didn't care about Jay when this started, but in two weeks he's turned me around. He even pulls off some pretty mad SCD fashion choices, and those spins were amazing. Nice to see Aliona is still obsessed with spinning in circles and wafting your arms about, but then again, she's finally got someone who doesn't look like he's going to fall over at any second.
Can I take credit for the fact he cut his hair? I have been suggesting it since the launch show. What a lovely waltz. He is trying really hard, he's learning and it's really starting to show. His turns are as elegant as any I've seen, and now we've seen him in both latin and ballroom, I really think we're on to a potential winner here. Yes, already. 

Iwan and Ola
Oh my word, those outfits, and Ola's been triple-dipped in the tanning booth. These was pretty content-light; they were literally halfway through the routine before the cha cha started, and that was with some pretty abysmal New Yorks. I'm not sure if this was an attempt at comedy, but it just didn't work.
Stompy, off time and really quite... annoying. This was about as cha cha as a chargrilled artichoke. He has no idea how bad he is, has he? Have you heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? I shall say no more. 

Georgia and Giovanni
Georgia's dress is gorgeous, not a traditionally waltz dress, but very classy. Her hold could have been better at times, but she was surprisingly good for her first turn at ballroom. There was rise and fall (well I thought there was, despite what Len said) and she seemed pretty comfortable with the routine. I can even forgive this year's debut of what is known as 'that bloody swing'.
Nice but not perfect, which is kind of where it's good to be at this stage, providing you don't get completely and utterly lost in the middle. These two are all kinds of adorable. Like two little macarons in a Parisian patisserie. I suspect she's going to enjoy latin more, but does have huge potential in ballroom too. Expect the 'Princess Moment' around week 5/6. 

Ainsley and Natalie
Well, we were expecting this to be bonkers, and it was as camp as knickers. Natalie Lowe is a genius and this routine was perfect for Ainsley, even though his shoulders were up by his ears once again. I also got distracted by his T-Rex arms, but the whole thing was such a laugh, who really cares?
Utter perfection. This was wonderful in a Mark Benton kind of way. In that, under all the madness, is someone who can actually hold together a decent dance. I don't even care that it more ketchup than salsa. 

Carol and Pasha
I spent most of this waiting to see when they were going to ditch the umbrella, and they didn't. And as much as I hate props, that made it more interesting, because the dance was D-U-double-L. It was better than last week, obviously, but there isn't really much else to say.
So a contestant is visibly struggling in the competition. Let's give her a prop to hold throughout her routine. That will help. Not. Mind you, the umbrella did distract me from everything else so perhaps it had a purpose. Bless her heart, I can't see her lasting long. Still, they have each other. And can stand under that umbrella. (ella ella eh eh etc.)

Kellie and Kevin
I don't see how there could have been a more appropriate song choice for these two, it's so twee and cute. There was so much literal choreography in this I was surprised Kevin wasn't dressed as a clown. There was lots of cheeky cha-cha-ness in this, and while there could have been more basic steps, Kellie seemed better than last week. It didn't raise the roof, but it's only week two, and better than a lot of the duffers we've had tonight.
Come on Kev, give the girl some actual steps. She can dance. 

Anthony and Oti
After last week's surprisingly good jive, the waltz was only going to be a bit of a comedown for Anthony. Not to say he didn't try his best, it was a classic week one male waltz - a bit tentative, looking at the ceiling, just trying to get through it. He totally deserves to stay, since him and Oti are one of the more interesting couples on the show this year.
Q. Can't waltz because of bad shoulder? A. DRAG YOUR WOMAN. Q. Still can't waltz because of bad shoulder? A. DRAG HER AGAIN. Cunning use of choreography by Oti, which kind of made me forget he was injured anyway. Poor lad looked terrified but then they always do up until they have the Matt Dawson Moment™.  

Anita and Gleb
I loved those outfits, rarely do outfits on SCD actually look independently stylish. Great song choice, loads of steps, proper acrobatics. And despite Bruno uncharacteristically making a meal of it, their timing and syncopation was pretty amazing considering it's week 2! Anita's gotten off to a flying start and it looks like Gleb knows how to put together a good routine, long may it last...
A swing-dancing friend of mine did not rate this, so perhaps that was where the judges were coming from. But in addition to last week's cha cha, overall, Anita has been pretty much robbed. She is the most natural dancer on the show this year. Why Len picked on this for lack of content when he let Kellie and Kevin's non-cha go by without comment is beyond me. Conspiracy. CONSPIRACY.

Jeremy and Karen
We love Jezza, you can't help it when someone is genuinely enjoying themselves so much. I also loved how this routine was put together to fit the song's highs and lows, great job Karen (along with your amazing flouncy skirt). He's worked hard, and we love a hard worker on SCD. The lifts were a bit ropey, but at least they did them successfully. I want more from these two, hoping they stay in!
I have no idea why I loved this, but I did. OK, the library theme may have helped. If there's only one theme I can get on board with, it's that. Or perhaps it's that despite him being somewhat uncoordinated, he is actually dancing in time to the music.  Or perhaps it's just that he's a jolly nice chap having a jolly nice time. Whatever the reason, I'd like a few more weeks of Jezza please. His joy is entertaining. 

Katie and Anton
Anton was doing a tango to Lady Gaga, I was expecting someone to have a telephone on their head and Anton pretending to be Beyonce - BUT NO! About 20 seconds in I realised Anton had surprised us by playing it straight and it blew my mind. It wasn't the best technically, but it's week two and they created an authentic, moody and dramatic tango - what more do you want? And Katie's dress, wow, what a perfect choice.
Now this is how pop music should be incorporated into ballroom. What a lovely arrangement of Telephone. Big hurrahs to the SCD band. It was perfect. And the dance was good. And the dress was lovely. And well done to Anton for not being a plonker. Yays all round! 

Peter Andre
Another great outfit, how they didn't swamp Janette in a midi skirt I do not know. This was so jam-packed full of steps their feet were practically a blur, I think Peter might have missed a couple but it's hard to tell. Although apart from the Charleston steps, not much going on quickstep-wise and could have had more work on the top line and hold.
Peter has a way that even mid-quickstep it seems like he's going to try and break out into locks and pops. I'm naming it a ... Hipstep. Of course it was excellent for a week two dance. However, there were errors and these weren't reflected in the scores he received. 

Helen and Aljaz
Helen is such a luvvie, it's a delight, Uptown Girl was the perfect song choice. She shouldn't have tried to do the sexy face, she should have been totally prim. Aljaz in dungarees was a pretty nice distraction too. The dancing? This was never going to be as easy for her as the waltz, but they had a respectable stab at it. If this is an early sign, she's going to struggle with the more hippy latin dances. 
This was hyped on ITT, so perhaps that was why I felt a little disappointed. She was given the #PimpSlot so the show was clearly expecting much from her and it was a lovely bedazzling bombshell of a cha cha, but like Peter's dance, it wasn't perfect, and if Anita was undermarked, then this was truly over. She wasn't all that hippy; it was stilted, but oh-so-styled, which compensated somewhat. Extra cute dress though. And Aljaz dressed as a mechanic? That itself should have its own show. 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Strictly Season is in Full Swing and the Weather is Getting Neepy.

Our second helping of the weekend, so let's get right to it...

Jay and Aliona  
Well Jay's hair is stuck in 1974. I can't get past that. If he were in series 2, Len would have told him to scrub up a bit. The really scary thing is, when series 2 was aired, Jay was 14. 14! Aliona hasn't the best reputation for choreography but granted, she hasn't had the chance to flex her muscles with a decent contestant for a good few years, and I actually quite liked this routine. And Jay was far better than I expected him to be. His timing was good, but he was doing the huge back step male dancers sometimes tend to do, like they're trying to avoid the splash of a lorry through a puddle at the edge of a pavement. OK, his knees were as bent as an iPhone 6, but he did have some of the technique down, and, was trying really oh-so-very hard. So all in all, I think these guys could do pretty well.

Kirsty and Brendan  
We had a wee case of the Kate Garraway 'ragdolls' here. Brendan did a tremendous job holding her up, but I'm not sure Kirsty's feet embarked upon any independent movement at all during that whole routine. I worry dearly for her in a latin routine where she won't have the advantage of Brendan's expert driving. 

Jeremy and Karen  
Are you familiar with the children's story The Giraffe Who Can't Dance? No? The giraffe's name is Gerald and, well, as the title so clearly states, he can't dance. Jeremy is the SCD equivalent of Gerald. He's notably tall, and rather humble. But when Gerald listens to the rhythm of the sounds in the jungle, he just fecking goes for it. With major abandon. Much like our Mr Vine. There's definitely a message in that. I may send Jeremy a copy through the post. There's something about an underlying latin beat in a disco track that always makes a cracking cha cha, so some of the pure joy of this routine was possibly being carried by the music. Because no, this wasn't technically good at all, but it really did make me smile and he totally sold it. Even though at times it looked like a cross between a toddler riding an imaginary horse and Chandler Bing doing his victory dance. 

Georgia and Giovanni  
A nice modern, yet appropriate, song choice and a routine so stuffed with content it was oozing out the edges like a plump burrito. They are so the new Louisa and Vincent, which is absolutely adorable and I love them already. Georgia did such a great job at this difficult routine. I think she struggled to keep up towards the end and occasionally her timing issues hit me in the eye like a big pizza pie. I am considering starting a campaign to make 'Giovanni Does Northern' a weekly segment on It Takes Two. Neepy, lols. 

Ainsley and Natalie 
  I was expecting camp, and we got it. With a side serving of drama. Let's face it, he has been blessed with the best pro-teacher. I still take back everything I said about Michael Vaughan not being able to pull off a half-decent dance. I ate so many words that week, I couldn't finish my tea. But back to Ainsley - his tango face was on point, the like of which has not been seen since Don Warrington in 2008.  If he's able to avoid being stereotyped as a 'race-to-the-bottom' contestant - and I think Natalie would do her best to resist that anyway - he could do very well. There is now a sense of expectation hanging in the air. Let's hope he brings it again next week.

Katie and Anton  
I think this was an achievement for Anton as much as it was for Katie. And despite the horror at the thought of Anton jiving that was being expressed on Twitter, it wasn't half bad. OK, so there were missed steps - I'm convinced from both of them - and it sort of dwindled towards the end, but Katie is clearly the best partner Anton has had for a long time. I've just about forgiven him for his bad attitude with Laila, where he more or less didn't bother teaching her any latin, and I'm hoping he takes his partnership with Katie a little more seriously, whilst still maintaining that imitable Anton charm. Katie wins the prize for the best dress. 

Iwan and Ola  
I took agin (to use Marian Keyes' word - it's too fitting) Iwan after he thoughtlessly and dangerously flung Ola about on launch night. If she hasn't forgiven him, she's hiding it well. But the comment 'as long as she's fun when she needs to be fun...', well it's clear he thinks he's going to be in charge. I hope Ola kicks his arrogant ass. The dance itself was as stiff as a block of wood blocked inside a tower block in Bloxwich. And no one steals moves from Christopher Parker and gets away with it. No one. Pfft. 

Jamelia and Tristan 
Jamelia has so much energy it's as though she's downed a bucket of Monster laced with Red Bull laced with Espresso. Trying to contain that within a waltz was quite tricky. She looked completely out of her comfort zone and perhaps week one isn't the easiest week to have the 'Yes, I can be a princess' revelation. She hoped to contain her giggles, but I'm sure I saw one with a little shoulder shrug mid routine. I'm pretty sure she will be able to dance and will come out of herself in a cheeky cha cha brimming with fringe and feathers. 

Peter and Janette  
He's throwing himself in with vim and vigour. He's also already thinking about winning it. Which usually means a RINGUH, and me not wanting him to win. However, I had him pegged as the Safety Car a la Denise van Outen, but the dance wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be. His showmanship was awesome, but in attempting the style, he went a little jerky. He needs to iron out the remnants of his previous dance experience. Partly, Peter wasn't to blame, as the song was pretty 'angular', and for someone with musicality, it's hard, ahem, not to dance to it. But despite these small niggles, I thank the God of Swarovski crystals he knows how to move more than his hips. 

Friday, 25 September 2015

Sparkly Shenanigans!

Here we go again, the glitter bandwagon is rolling back into town! Mercifully, the opening week is split into two again, so you're getting Frankie tonight and Clover tomorrow.

Kellie and Kevin
Does this mean Kellie is going to get to the final? The winning formula never lies, usually. Kevin bravely put a lot of arm stuff in there, but the first thing I noticed was that her arms weren't very good. Once they got in hold properly they were away though, it looked like an actual tango, it was sharp and pretty good for a week one dance. Although I'm all about the eyes and teeth and Kellie is a prime candidate, give her a kitschy dance next week!

Anthony Wake-me-up-before-you-Ogogo and Oti
Wow, that was a hot mess of potential! Great kicks and flicks (leaping about like a gazelle on really spindly legs!), lots of energy and enthusiasm - anything that involved flexibility an absolute disaster! Really nice choreography from Oti too, she's got to work around a wonky shoulder and a million props, they've thrown her in at the deep end. I've got high hopes for these two.

Helen and Aljaz
Well this was a dramatic change of pace. I also need to see Helen out of nude tones, I hate nude. This was your typical week one waltz, floaty and nice and inoffensive. Helen's going to get so many ringer allegations thrown at her, but she did look pretty nervous and wobbly at times. But her and Aljaz also look like a really good team, Helen is also so incredibly into this that it's brilliant.

Carol and Pasha
Oh, more amazing Pasha acting in the VT as he shouts out the name of random British towns he's never heard of. Horrendous opener, although I can forgive Pasha on a cloud because it's batshit crazy. By the time they got round to doing some dancing, Carol seemed to freak out, seize up and forget half the dance. I did like the return of the old Matthew Cutler hands-on-the-hips-so-we-don't-have-to-do-arms trick. Saying that, they had a laugh, and if someone can't have a laugh on Strictly you might as well be dead.

Daniel and Kristina
Well this was nothing if predictable. A sensible, simple waltz with extra schmaltz and Shamrocks layered on. If he wasn't going to be able to a week one waltz then we were going to be in trouble. I do wonder if he's one of those people who goes quiet when he's nervous, or if he's part robot. Deep breaths people, I'm sure we're in for weeks of this.

Anita and Gleb
New pro outing number 2! And a sexy ripping-off-of-the-cagoule moment never before seen on British TV! This was everything a cha cha should be; cheeky, spangly and more than a bit camp. And what an amazing dress, they pretty much dressed her as the glitterball. Good choreography and teamwork, as well as Anita being endearingly manic, I knew she'd be the dark horse!

That was over pretty quickly,  it all went by in a very colourful, sparkly flash. We'll be back for tomorrow night's shenanigans!

Saturday, 19 September 2015

The Winning Formula - Version 7.0!

Gosh, version SEV-ERN?! That's almost as many as iPhone software updates. Can't believe I've been writing about the terribly scientific factors required to win SCD for so long, I wonder if I can claim some sort of qualification in it now. So here we are, ready to dissect another batch of celebs, examining all the possible variables that can help them grab that glitterball. Speaking of which, this might be the last chance we can post a picture of Pasha winning in his tiny vest. Until we think of another excuse anyway...

So here we go, science time! If this was ITT I'd put on a white coat and there'd be some sort of cheesy, spangly intro.

1) Get the party started
You are without a doubt my favourite variable, GTPS, so odd and yet so reliably true! It's almost set in stone: you dance first, you get to the final. Maybe it's a trade-off for being sick with nerves? Who came out first last year, but our future champion Caroline Flack! Not only that, but on the second opening show (now it's split between Friday and Saturday) it was only Mr Marky Mark heading out there first - that's two finalists in a row! The pressure is now of course on for who will be out first this year, I'm guessing Peter or Helen.

2) Quit your day job
It's true, you can't win SCD and hold down another job at the same time, look at Caroline last year, she left her old job and then went back to it - a Strictly Sabbatical? Why can't I have one of those? There's a few people with day jobs this year: Anita literally rambling around the country, Kelly filming Eastenders, Carol doing the weather, although being on BBC Breakfast has always helped in the past. Iwan seems to be taking this to epic proportions by jetting off to Japan - what's that all about?! Peter Andre on the other hand is always busy, but his job seems to be...being Peter Andre, so maybe he can put that on hold.

3) Blondes don't have more fun
Yep, after that little anomaly of Abbey it's still statistically significant that blondes do not win SCD. Last year, none of the four finalists were blonde - it's a conspiracy! And the ginger was pipped to the post of the final AGAIN - and this year the ginger in is denial, I'm looking at you Iwan! Helen George is pretty much the blondest SCD contestant ever, so this could stand in her way, as well as Carol and Kellie, maybe time for a quick trip to the hairdresser?

4) Latin fever
This is the variable that says you should dance with a pro that specialises in latin dancing, well this year the three new pros are all latin specialists! We thought the tide was turning with 10 dance specialists Flavia and Aljaz winning two years in a row, but Pasha snuck in with his tiny vest and brought it back to the latin side. This variable is basically becoming 'don't dance with Anton or Natalie' - which makes me sad because we all want Natalie to trample the pesky latin dancers and hold that glitterball aloft. Preferably in Blackpool. In a sparkly ball gown.

5) Age is more than a number
Now, despite what One Direction fans may tell you, Caroline Flack is not 87 years old. She was in fact 35 when she won the glitterball, thus continuing the long-standing rule that no one over 40 has ever won SCD. In fact, no one over 40 even made the final. However, this year, we have a potential contender in the form of an incredibly well-preserved (picked?) Peter Andre. I was also surprised to learn Daniel O'Donnell is only 53, not going to lie, I thought he was older than that, maybe he's just been acting middle-aged for about 30 years?

6) Embrace the sparkle! 
Ah, the most metaphysical of variables - embracing the sparkle and throwing yourself headlong into the crazy world of SCD. Cover yourself in fake tan, talk about your journey, laugh, cry - oh dear, I've just described Peter Andre. Embracing the sparkle is however key, we don't like people who do things by halves. Contestants who already seem to have got it include dad-dancer extraordiniare Jeremy Vine, Anita, Ainsley and permanent ray of sunshine Carol. However, both Jay and Anthony look rather bemused and rabbit in the headlights, like they've been smacked over the head with a glitterball, your time with come boys...

So once more, to summarise, here is my patented Winning Formula equation:

Dance first - day job + brunette x latin pro > 40 years old + sparkle = WINNER!

Now last year, I used the formula to predict the finalists - and it was surprisingly effective! Last year's version 6.0 formula gave us: Alison, Caroline, Frankie, Mark, Simon and Thom, which shockingly lists all the finalists. Give me my Nobel Prize now! This could be sheer dumb luck, I do agree, so I'll use the formula after opening predict this year's finalists.

I see you shiver with antici..............pation!

EDIT: So here are the Winning Formula's predictions for the final this year...


Wednesday, 9 September 2015

What a lovely pair!

Hey hey hey, Strictly Season is upon us! The super-camp title of this blog post is dedicated to the super-camp opening on the porn train, just when you thought the show couldn't get any more random. Although I did love that opening, just the right side of perky with fabulous outfits.

Ainsley and...Natalie!

That is the most pimptastic Strictly outfit ever, sparkles and prints and hats - oh my! Kinda disappointed that he's been partnered with Natalie, hopefully I'll eat my words but I just can't see him making the final, or even the semis (and that's half the contestants these days anyway). But he's got bags of character and Natalie loves having someone she be creative with, good luck to them.

I think he'll be great. Bonkers, yeah, and exploited by the producers as an ... 'entertainment' contestant. Yet, if the group dance is anything to go by he actually should be a pretty good dancer too. Out of the current pros, Natalie is probably the best at getting the very most out of her partners, no matter the ability. He could be one to watch. 

Iwan and...Ola!

Despite the tabloids ruining the reveal for us, I think this could work very well for Ola, again despite the Sun claiming she had a massive whinge about it (seriously, who cares?). A sportsman with lots of enthusiasm is something she can work with. Hopefully he'll knuckle down to training rather than trying to crack jokes and mug the camera.

I'm afraid he won't be getting any votes from me. Anyone who picks a woman up like that and flings her about, so that she can do nothing about it, demonstrates nothing but a lack of respect. You can blame it on nerves, you can blame it on excitement but I'm afraid it's barely forgivable. It will take a lot from him now to make me like him. He'd have to, like, save a granny from a falling boulder and be really humble about it. 

Jay and Aliona!

Oh my word, Aliona is allocated someone with a fighting chance of getting past week 2! This is literally the first time she's had anyone with a hope since Harry Judd. I don't think she knew how to cope when it was announced, she didn't have to do one of the hilarious happy faces. Jay could go either way, he looks like he's going to be pretty stiff and awkward for the first few weeks, embrace the sparkle Jay!

I wasn't expecting this either, as we have all kind of got used to Aliona getting the dud. However, Jay didn't look most comfortable in the group dance so there's lots of work to be done. I've never really felt that Aliona has had a good track record of working on those who don't already have great dance ability. Most likely though, he'll get high scores because he's young. Whether he can dance or not. 

Jeremy and...Karen!

Gosh Jeremy is tall and gangly, I don't know how I didn't notice this when he was prancing around the swingometer. He's fallen into that superfan haze of the show and seems totally prepared to make a fool of himself in the name of fun. Karen will be disappointed not to get someone young and hot, but after the Dave Myers phase, we know she's also good at entertaining routines.

Oh Jeremy, you dad-dancer extraordinaire. He's going to be a good sport. And he could be in for a good few weeks because of that. He could be this year's break out star of madness a la John Sergeant/Widdy/Nancy. Anything is possible.

Helen and...Aljaz!

Woof, now there's a team to beat! Helen's already a strong favourite, especially if she isn't too ringerish. Her "I was convinced I was getting Anton" comment was also hilarious, I hope she blurts out some other gems like that over the series. I think Aljaz is going to choreograph some great routines for her, he's already shown with Abbey and Allison that he knows how to do the best for his celeb.

These two are as cute as buttons.

Jamelia and...Tristan!

I had a sudden vision of Jamelia dancing with Anton, can you imagine? Alas that was cruelly dashed away from me and she got Tristan. Now, we did all fall for him last year, but we've not really had a chance to see him flex his choreography muscles - now should be his chance. You've got some raw material, show us what you can do.

Jamelia seems like she may be a classic Marmite contestant. I've no issues with her, but some people I know have been, like, err no. Frankie tells me she's bonkers. I always like bonkers. And yay, Tristan of the delightful accent is back. It's time to see what you can really do, mate.

Georgia and...Giovanni!

Sexy pairing hoping they have a relationship, blah blah blah. Although some people are already making Louisa and Vincent comparison - I think that's going a bit far considering they were one of the proper magic couples. Saying that, Georgia doesn't seem to have bot tendencies and is willing to throw herself into it, so we shall see what Giovanni makes of her. 

I don't know enough about her - or him - to make any guesses at all here. If they get on well, they could be full on adorbs, but there's always the risk that a couple like this could be full on zzzz. Let's hope it's the former.

Kirsty and...Brendan!

It's Gabby Logan mark 2, or is it? I really can't tell at the moment. Brendan will be happy to get someone eager, sporty and raring to go, that's for sure. Not much more to say at the moment though.

I love Brendan, so the fact I'm finding this coupling underwhelming is a shame. 

Anthony and...Oti!

Now I'm looking forward to see what these two can do. I feel like Oti is my favourite new pro already, if only because all the boys have been allowed to do is pout in soft focus. They seemed to have to good chemistry from the off and he looks like he's champing at the bit to get going. Hopefully he won't need a sparkly shoulder support.

Cute with a capital Q. I like Oti. She seems feisty. And Anthony looked like he might be a wee bit scared of in awe of her, which could be somewhat amusing.

Daniel and...Kristina!

Oh Daniel, Daniel, Daniel, you might have your twinkly Irish ways and look good in tails, but you actually have to move around a bit. I suspect there could be a lot of walking from him during their numbers. Kristina, bring out the John Sargeant school of choreography again...

I was almost pleased for poor, poor Kristina that she has a partner that the Daily Mail can't (probably) latch on to as her apparent next conquest. She was wonderful with John Sergeant, as we'll all remember, so it would be lovely if we get to see some of that funny and clever woman we knew many moons ago, without all the stress and hassle of the tabloid press taking over. 

Peter and...Janette!

Interesting! Everyone was wondering who would win the battle for Andre, I hadn't realised how tiny he was. And 42, he does not look 42! Will he be a ringer? Are men ringers? I can't remember many, maybe Matt Baker? Also, there's a love/hate thing going on with the public and I'm not sure if the involvement of Janette can have an effect on that. Although she will of course put in some sparky routines to keep us all entertained on his...j-word.

Ringer yeah, probably the closest this year. He ROCKED that group number. If he's not had years of dance training (has he? I don't know), he's certainly a natural. I'm expecting camped up, but awesome latin numbers and soul-searching I-Didn't-Know-I-Was-Classy ballroom journeys. One to watch. 

Anita and...Gleb!

I've never seen anyone look so happy with their pro partner, Anita is hilarious. She's out of her comfort zone with Strictly but is self-deprecating and throwing herself into it. And looks amazing in the frocks, so hopefully the show will bring her out of herself. Not sure about Gleb yet, it's all a bit Bond villan-y to me.

She was pretty good in the group number. Relatively unheard-of, but she could be a real underdog. Gleb. The sound seems familiar to me, but I don't know why. 

Kellie and...Kevin!

I am wary of the fact that they gave Kellie such a frumpy dress, ah my hatred of sleeves lives on. She could easily be one where nerves get in the way, she seemed a wee bit manic. Although good ol' Kevin Clifton is a nervous girl's best friend, I can see them working well together.

There's something about the Kevin-fandom that's making me think that these two are already going to be firm favourites. I'm predicting at least the semis already. Unless she's hopeless. But somehow, I don't think she will be.

Katie and...Anton!

OK, so I would feel sorry for her, but it looks like they get on like a house on fire! We had him lined up for Carol, but there was no strikingly obvious choice this year. I think this is more of a Fiona Fullerton year for Anton, they'll do some good ballroom numbers and have a whale of a time. Also, from the group dance, I saw some pretty good cha cha footwork from Katie, she could surprise us.

They will have a jolly, spiffing old time.

Carol and...Pasha!

Haha, Carol looks like the cat who got the cream, or more importantly, didn't get Anton. She's also one of those infectiously happy people, I think we will see elements of Deborah Meaden in her. She blatantly would have got Robin if he was still on the show (booo!). Pasha wasn't going to get a ringer having won last year, but he seemed pretty happy. Also, please continue to give Carol such fabulous dresses!

Deborah Meaden? As long as she doesn't have to dance with a desk, she'll be one up. 

And as for the group dance, it was the usual hot mess. Here, as ever, are some random observations from me: Katie had some surprisingly nifty footwork, Iwan was enthusiastic but stompy, Daniel was as stiff as a board, Ainsley was trying very hard to be smooth, Jeremy is a hilariously endearing dad dancer. Carol is also having the time of her life and was flinging her skirt around like a complete loon. I'm also putting a full-on eyes and teeth warning out on Kellie.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Class of 2015

Jeremy Vine

Well this was a surprise, if only because in an old job I often had to listen to all 2 hours of Jezza's lunchtime show, a never-ending cycle of serious news, random stories about umbrellas, interspersed with calls from the general public. Maybe Jeremy knows what the public likes and will coast through the phone voting. His piece about how much he wants to do SCD for his kids was super-endearing, so let us hope he can get past the inevitable dad-dancing.

I have to admit, I looked him up. Then it was pointed out to me I knew him from catching the end of Eggheads for three months of each year. I have been quite surprised to discover he is a former punk. Whether that is true or not, I'm not convinced that the pogo is going to be much help with cha cha. I guess we'll all have him down as a potential dad-dancer, but he could surprise us yet. 

Clover Awareness Rating: 4

Ainsley Harriott

As I said on Twitter, surely Ainsley's true time for SCD was during series one or two? He just seems to fit with the Claire Sweeney/Carol Vorderman crowd. I can also seriously see him doing the David Dickinson faces to the crowd mid-dance, although I seem to be the only one who remembers how horrific that was (probably cos he went in week 3 of series 1, but I doubt Camilla has forgotten). Also, will there be a repeat of the miming-cooking-on-a-dancer's-back move that Gary Rhodes *ahem* attempted? If the man can do hip action unprompted whilst stir-frying some veg, I don't think he's going to be too shy and retiring on the dance floor!

Firstly, joy. Because I knew who he was without having to look him up. I am so far out of the loop this year, the loop is a dot to me. I still too have nightmares about the miming-cooking-on-back debacle. Let's hope he's more James Martin than Gary Rhodes. 

Clover Awareness Rating: 8

Kellie Bright

Our first soap star, and it's the landlady of the Queen Vic - might as well go all out, BBC! Although saying that, she's done loads of other things too, including the legendary T-Bag (showing our age here). A quick glance at her Wikipedia shows that she went to the Sylvia Young Theatre School aka the Ringer Factory - will she escape these accusations? Also, as Linda in Eastenders, she is very well experienced in wearing sparkles, and as we know, that's a key factor in winning SCD.

I had no idea. I don't watch soaps. But then I have had people shout at me. SHOUT AT ME. Because apparently I should remember her from T-Bag. Now, I do remember T-Bag. And T-shirt. Vividly. But I do not remember this girl being in it. I do think my addled memories of the 80s tends to confuse this show with Grotbags. I know, I know. Anyhum, sounds like she's going to be a pretty standard all-singing, all-dancing steady performer and will probably last for some duration. 

Clover Awareness Rating: 1

Georgia May Foote

Soap Star part 2, this time from The Other Side. Young, pretty, left Corrie a few months ago, she's such a blindingly obvious Strictly contestant I'm wondering if she also has a celeb boyfriend they can rope in or at least get to sit in the audience. And for those pointing out she's one of the few not employed by the BBC, she one played a very pretty corpse in Life On Mars. Not much else to say at the moment really, hoping she shows a bit of personality so we don't fall into bot territory.  

No, I hadn't heard of her either, but then that's not unusual. I like that her name is Foote. And you dance with your feet. Obvs. Doesn't look like she's Sylvia Young alum but I'm pretty sure, like Ms Bright, she'll be good and in it for the long haul.

Clover Awareness Rating: 0

Katie Derham

This was my first "erm...?" contestant, vaguely recognised the name but not sure who she was. Mainly because I don't listen to Radio 3 or watch the Proms. Thank goodness Brucie is no longer with us, because if she made it to Blackpool week there'd be no end of prom jokes! Bit of an unknown quantity here, but she seems like a pretty big fan, and we always like those on the show.

I knew the name and I recognise her face. She's obvs a well-established BBC-type and appears to be this year's very-classy-lady. She plays the violin. That's relevant because? Musicality, innit. 

Clover Awareness Rating: 3

Carol Kirkwood

Ah Carol from the weather, lovely lady who always seems to be presenting from the races wearing an extravagant hat, she'll take to Strictly like a duck to water. And the weather puns, what a *gift* to us all, I am already predicting a cha cha to It's Raining Men and maybe some sort of moody rumba to Aint No Sunshine.

Actually, we may have a battle of the very-classy-ladies this year as Carol could quite give Katie a run for her money in this respect. Prepare for special-effects rain. And yeah, as Frankie says, It's Raining Men. Danced in actual wellingtons. I hadn't heard of her either, but then, I can't remember the last time I watched a weather bulletin. 

Clover Awareness Rating: 0

Peter Andre

After the almighty cock-up of his reveal, we finally got to mull over the most inevitable contestant of this year. We get to relive those 90s hits and terrible haircuts, bring on the baby oil (ugh, or maybe not). This one seems to divide opinion, I suppose it helps if you remember when he was a Proper Celeb. Expect child props and a hell of a lot of emotions.

I was a teenager in the 90s. Therefore, he is an important addition. I was never a fan particularly but I probably can remember all the words to Mysterious Girl. They seeped in, much like the lyrics to Aqua's Barbie Girl. He's going to have a huge (sorry) journey isn't he? He's going to find himself, isn't he? Probably several times. Probably mid shadow bota fogo. If they actually allow him to do any dancing between standing there without a shirt on* **

** does he still do that or am I really showing my age?

Clover Awareness Rating: 10

Daniel O'Donnell

Well this came out of nowhere! The twittersphere was aghast, Marian Keyes got so excited she went blind, the grannies were registering on the BBC website en masse. Now whilst Daniel might not be my cup of tea, he is a delightfully kitsch signing. Plus I get to make some Father Ted jokes and that's always worth it. Oh, his dancing? It'll probably be terrible and not even in a funny way, the big question is whether he'll be partnered with Aliona.

I have heard of him, but I have no idea why. I suspect it's from Asda CD promotional adverts around Mothers' Day. Is this like the Irish version of an Osmond? 

Clover Awareness Rating: 4

Anthony Ogogo

Well who is this young man? It's the sportsman, so obviously we don't know who they are, but we won't hold that against him, Team GB and all that. And he's a boxer, although the last two we've had have been less than spectacular (I forgot Audley Harrison even existed) - who remembers when over 50% of you thought Joe Calzaghe would win in our poll? This still makes us laugh. Anthony looks like he's got the raw material though, as long as he's got a bit of rhythm he could go far...

Never heard of him. But I know less about sports stars than I do soap stars so it's hardly surprising. Nevertheless, upon Googling him, I was pleasantly surprised. Ahem. He's rather a pretty fellow, isn't he? And hey, I remember Audley Harrison - he was grossly under-rated. 

Clover Awareness Rating: 0

Jay McGuiness

If I wasn't vaguely aware of the Wanted I would have no idea who this guy is - although they have done a really good job in keeping names secret this year. Also, boyband members were not bearded and scruffy in my day (the 90s, it was all white combats and curtains) - in fact, this is the most unruly of beards we've seen from our male contestants. Bordering on hipster. How do you fake tan such a beard? Either way, popstars always do well so he's bound to be in it for a while.

Is Len going to call him scruffy and tell him to shave? Probably. I may not have heard of him specifically - it's clearly a generational thing - but I have heard of The Wanted, so am classing him as a decent signing. 

Clover Awareness Rating: 3

Anita Rani

First Jezza and Eggheads, now Anita and Countryfile, is this year's line up based around people we see five minutes of while we're waiting for SCD to start? I do like Anita though and think she has potential, could she be a dark horse? If only because I'm grasping for a horticultural reference, hopefully we won't have a re-run of Matt Baker's sparkly farmer outfits.

Admittedly, I didn't know her name but her face is familiar. Probably, like Frankie says, from the end of Countryfile. You want horticultural references? Never for the subtle, expect the BBC to have Anita to dance to I've Got a Brand New Combine Harvester whilst dressed as a purple-top white globe turnip. 

Clover Awareness Rating: 3


Wow, one that was actually predicted! And a fairly decent celeb, plus her involvement with Loose Women get that all-important ITV coverage. Most importantly, Jamelia is as mad as a box of frogs and most certainly not be a bot. I'll be interested to see her dance ability in the launch show, she should be comfortable on stage, but that's not everything. I wonder if Jamelia has a surname, or is she like Cher...*googles* it's Davis. That was disappointing.

I don't know who she is - guess she must be some kind of superstar. I jest. Badly. I do know who she is, from that song. And also from channel surfing at lunchtime. Classic strictly signing. And I'm expecting her to be excellent. Problem is, if she's good, she'll get the whole ding-dong-she's-a-ringuh. If she is naturally good, I suggest she starts off slowly. It's all about the game. You win, or die dance.

Clover Awareness Rating: 10

Helen George

I've occasionally watched Call the Midwife, usually back in Blackpool for Christmas in a fug of turkey, pyjamas and tinsel, and the fact that Helen's character goes by the name of Trixie is charmingly silly. And her non-nursing wardrobe is to die for, maybe they can bring that retro vibe into her outfits, well, it would be a better than a skit with Anton pretending to give birth or something. She's got a musical theatre background, but most people won't know her from that - will she face the dreaded ringer accusations?

Apologies for becoming repetitive but I, no, I hadn't heard of her either. But I have heard of her show, so she should be thankful for that minor detail? She's already doing well in our poll, so I'm guessing she's popular and one to watch. 

Clover Awareness Rating: 2

Iwan Thomas

Another sporty man? Who would've thunk? Although saying that, he doesn't seem to have been active in athletics for about 10 years now. But then again, you never lose the sportsman mentality in the world on SCD: the cycle of training, grit and desperately trying to appear casual and likeable. He's also done a hell of a lot of reality TV in the past few years, so he knows what he's doing. I do get the feeling he might be a bit stompy though, time will tell.

Despite being sportspeople, I do usually have the advantage of having heard of athletes, but not this one. His heyday was when I was a teenager though, so perhaps that's why I can't remember. Sportspeople are always such an important part of the show, and I hope he does well. He's a middle-series-er, almost certainly, if nothing else. 

Clover Awareness Rating: 1

Kirsty Gallacher

Another reveal drama, by the time she appeared on the One Show sofa it was all a bit late for us. Well done you tweeting pros! Not really sure what to make of her, apart from that she essentially seems to be a brunette Gabby Logan - now that could turn out either good or bad.

Again, again, I knew the name, and her face, and who she was, so she's in a much better position in my head than most of this year's cast. Apparently she is actually best friends with Gabby Logan. Will we see her in the audience, or is the pain still too real? 

Clover Awareness Rating: 7

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Rumour has it...

Roll up those sparkly sleeves boys and girls, Strictly Season is upon us once again! Maybe we're getting old, but it's come around quickly this year, or maybe the BBC will one day have us preparing for the show in March. It could go either way. Anyway, once more into the sparkly breach my dear friends...

It's the Loga...sorry, it's the Redknapps
As ever, the usual formula seems to apply this year - popstars, soapstars, TV
presenters, sports people I've never heard of, we all know the drill. Although, there are strong rumours this year of the married couple factor returning - Louise and Jamie Redknapp appear to be on the cards! Oh and Kevin-from-Grimbsy and Karen have just got married, that's pretty handy-dandy. The BBC have tried so hard to get a couple once again, I'm surprised we've not ended up with Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee. Louise is probably quite good, Jamie will most likely be keen but awkward. Gosh, we really are set for history repeating itself, let's party like it's 2007!

Also in the world of couples, the Richard and Judy rumour surfaced yet again. AGAIN. There is no way in hell Judy is ever going on the show, but I feel like Richard is straining at the leash once more. He's said no again, apparently because the family said it would be too it just me, or shouldn't being related to Richard Madeley make you immune to embarrassment? They must have a pretty high tolerance, adding sequins surely wouldn't make it that much worse?

Also in the category of people who have said no, Piers Morgan has apparently turned down a bucketload of cash. Oh dear. What a shame. Also, Louis Walsh - was that ever a real rumour, or just typical tabloid X Factor-related tosh? I can just see him in a sparkly cardigan telling Craig he looks like a mini Julian Clary. If we get any of these guys in place of the Tom Ellis rumour (in what-I-call 'the seriously hot man get him in a tux right now' contestant) then there will be riots on the streets of SCD Twitter.

Although saying that, we do apparently have a more solid rumour for the slightly older gentleman. I present you with...Andrew Ridgeley from Wham! A lot of women seemed to be excited by this rumour, we were quite happy to be slightly too young and only vaguely aware of who he was. Clover didn't realise there was anyone other than George Michael in Wham and thought Andrew was a human prop. Bring it on, I say, he's musical and is no stranger to spangles. Ooh it feels good to roll out the word 'spangle' again...

But we do need more ladies, rumours of female contestants seem to be a bit thin on the ground again this year (reality stars' agents saying they would 'love to do SCD' does not count). The Michelle Keegan rumour has popped up now and again, but I think the moment's passed, although fellow Corrie star Georgia May Foote could appear in her place to fill the sexy young soap star slot. Elsewhere, on the popstar front we've had Jamelia suggested, which could be fun because she's as mad as a box of frogs. Michelle Heaton from Liberty X has also seen her name go back and forth, but I don't think anyone really cares.

And finally, I have left what appears to be this series most likely contestant until last. Everyone's favourite orange Australian...Peter Andre! Whether you like him or not, it's just such a perfect fit I don't see how it's not going to happen. With some sort of cringe-worthy samba to Mysterious Girl and a million interviews in the tabloids.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Crackers for Flackers!

It's the final! We're finally at the final! It feels like it's come around suddenly this year, or maybe we're just getting old? After last week's rather lacklustre semi-final I'm expecting to have my sparkly socks blown off by this final - no pressure contestants! Our super-scientific poll has Caroline down to win by a mile, but it's been wrong before (I'm looking at you, Joe Calzaghe supporters!), so let's see what surprises the night will bring!

As ever, we're just going to whizz through the first dances, since they've done them before, but just to summarise....what the hell were these dance choices about? Were they trying to sabotage everyone to make it fairer? I genuinely don't think anyone wanted to see these dances again.

Exhibit one, Frankie in the death slot doing her worst latin dance, no one cared about this samba. Mark's cha cha actually looked a bit too easy for him, it needed more content for the final! Caroline rocked the golden lampshade once more and delivered her amazing cha cha. Simon probably got the most random choice with his Charleston, but carried off with the vim and vigour we'd all expect, and Kristina's cheapo wig didn't burst into flames!

Personally I quite like the idea of seeing their week one dances. Shows how much they have improved. Or not. This dance really highlighted the fact that Mark was the weaker banana of the bunch, but I can't help but smile watching him dance, so jolly happy he was there. And mostly that Jake-My-Only-Body-Part-Is-A-Hip was not. I think I'm supposed to add #sorrynotsorry to that. I thought all four kicked ass in these somewhat questionable choices, and all showed some improvement on their first performances. Much disappointed Simon didn't do his samba again. I would have loved to have seen him smash it. 


Frankie and Kevin

Will Frankie fall off a bench and die? That's what I took from the VT. Plus they said her dress would be a pink dream and it was mainly a horrible nude. The bench bit was actually really underwhelming as they didn't really do a lot while they were up there - while their ballroom content was wonderful. There was more razzmatazz than I was expecting from Frankie, Kevin uses razzes everyone's matazz for them - well done to Frankie for bringing it personality-wise in the final.
This was perky, nimble, classy and cute. All at once. I loved Frankie's Disney-princess dress, and despite the random benchscapades (I didn't get the Sound of Music reference either), this was a bit awesome. 

Mark and Karen

I was really excited to see this one, all the elements seemed right to bring out Mark's best - which is basically an over-excited child in go-faster stripes! Someone said it was like putting a mento in a bottle of coke, which I loved. It was a 'traditional' SCD show dance, eg take a latin number and go crazy with it. A befitting ending for the two of them, hard work and sheer joy.
Mark, dressed as a cricketer circa 1974, running around the floor, bobbing about with the odd bit of jive choreography? Fitted him perfectly. Not a worthy winner, but a worthy fourth, and a jolly good sport. 

Caroline and Pasha
I can't remember the last time I was so nervous for a showdance, contempo makes me think of the Lisa Snowdon bacofoil disaster. And do you know what? They only went and pulled it off! It had the fluidity of a rumba, it was totes emotes without making us want to vom and the lifts were epic. There was no rolling on the floor! All fears cast aside, well done guys.
Yes, I know had these been packaged as a 'rumba', it would have made me cross, but as the rule of showdance is don't talk about showdance there are no rules, then I allowed myself to find this moving and marvellous. It was as intense as a squirt of Jif lemon on Shrove Tuesday. It was as emotional as the bit in Titanic where SHE LETS GO. And to my untrained eye, she looked as graceful as a professional. Go Flackers! 

Simon and Kristina
This one was the biggest unknown quantity, I had no idea what sort of crazyness Kristina was going to throw at us, it looked like a bit of everything on ITT. And that's what it ended up being, a crazy pile of everything! Including a Bucks Fizz moment to reveal Kristina in the most spangle-tastic dresses ever. Simon's Greatest Hits was a great title for it, I would have expected a bit more control from the two of them, but whatever, it's final night.
More hesitant in parts than I would have liked but major kudos to Kristina for cramming every last bit of ballroom, latin, salsa and charleston choreography into there she could. It really proved that Simon ain't no one trick pony: he's a pony with more tricks than Paul Daniels on a caffeine high. His timing was on point. Loved it. 

We're back and the first person to go is....cue ITT-style faces to camera....MARK! Sad to see him go, after all the hard word and the epic j-word, but it probably was the right time. Mark, you've been an all-round good egg and a trouper, we'd have missed you on SCD this year.
Jolly good egg indeed. What's your favourite type of egg? Mine is... scrambled. Mark, you are a scrambled egg of the very best kind. 

So here we are with the final three and their last dances. Frankie blew us away with her Paso, I liked it first time around but she really cranked up the fierceness this time around - she's shown so much personality this episode, it's like she finally woken up to the performance aspect. Caroline and Pasha swivelled us to Timbuktu and somehow, Twitter folks, we appear to have slain the extra dancers. And as for Simon's Argentine Tango, oof, that was some serious dancing, it tipped us over the edge to hysteria!
Frankie's Paso was FIERCE. I had started the evening with her as my definite least fave, having not warmed to her at all throughout the previous weeks. However, she brought such vigour to this dance, I tweeted that I would also be happy if she won. This year's contestants have stood out as being delightfully friendly and especially lovely to each other, and Frankie is no exception. I loved seeing Caroline's charleston stripped down to wot-it-should-have-looked-like without the extra baggage of the human props, and it was just as - nay more so - wonderful. At this point, despite loving Simon, I was totes team Flackers. But then that tango. That tango changed everything. It threw me into an existential crisis and I did not know who to go for. My head said Caroline - think of all the tremendous dances she had done. But my heart, my heart went to Simon and that tango. Oh the dilemma! 

The returning group number was a delight as ever, great choice of songs this year, although I do like them a little bit more shambolic! Gregg merely handing Aliona a cake was hilarious though, along with Natalie styling it out with her fan and Alison bringing that crazy face back!
Natalie steals any show, doesn't she?

And so, our winner is.....CAROLINE! So very happy with this result: they've been the full package and worked hard to bring us some amazing routines. Also, it's great to see someone win who has wanted it to so much. What a nerve-racking final it's been, but totally worth it!
Great result, and a great finish to the series, which has been questionable in parts. But what a final. 


Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Hemidemisemi-final

It's semi-finals time! I always say this is the most tense episode of the series, then forget what an overexcited wreck I am by the end of the final. Although this year it does seem like it could be anybody's game, did we ever say that before? I imagine we did...

This was somewhat underwhelming for a semi-final wasn't it?

Jake and Janette
Well that was a painful opening...delightfully uber-camp song though. This was not a semi-final standard, you can eyes and teeth a cha cha in the early weeks (or hips and bum in Jake's case), but you need the technique as well at this stage. Although props for Janette for doing all those pepperpot spins without vomming.
Imagine Wallace (of Wallace and Gromit fame) dancing a cha cha cha. Yeah. 

Frankie and Kevin
Has the Christmas special come early? If it was the Christmas special I'd have been ok with it, I'll take any old sentimental claptrap then, but this was just odd. Or maybe it was an excuse to be stiff and not do a lot of rumba-ing? As with a lot of their stuff, it was nice, but meh. I wouldn't wish a rumba on anyone in the semi finals, but that's not an excuse to try and do a different dance...
I'm with Len. I don't see why rumba has to be slutty. This was strange, but oddly charming. And I loved Frankie's dress. She looked like a sugarplum fairy.

Mark and Karen
After last week's shock of staying, Mark has once again worked his little sparkly socks off. Oh this was so twee, the song, Karen's dress, Mark's grin - there was everything. It wasn't his best ballroom, unfortunately, like Len said it lacked a bit of finesse. But there were great hands, that was a surprise. And any routine with The Dreaded Swing in that I still like deserves some points.
Swing Klaxon! This was nice. Not much more than that, but considerably better than Jake's effort and he definitely deserves to be in the final. He's not the underdog as his dance ability (and attitude) is way above Jake's. If he does make the final, I can't wait to see his little face.

Simon and Kristina
Now, we fell in love to a samba to this song on DWTS, like actually jumped up and down for it, so hopes were high for Simon. I was gutted when those samba rolls went wrong, especially when Kristina had decided to bring her fiercest game out this evening. And then they never quite recovered. Is it just me or is the two-dances thing wearing everyone out this week?
Oh, oh! My disappointment was tangible. I was, like, so looking forward to this and it had such potential. However, this is how it goes on live TV. 

Caroline and Pasha
Can Caroline save what has so far been a rather underwhelming semi final? Not quite, but she had a pretty good stab at it! This was probably my favourite dance so far tonight, they put so much into it and I liked the choreography - there were twiddly bits but still plenty of foxtrot content.
This must have been so difficult to dance to. Foxtrot is so hard and to do it without a regular beat in the music is insane. They did a good job on a very difficult task. Caroline has a real feel for music and the comments that it lost its style was because the music wasn't right - but she was right for the music. Does that make sense?

Right, all change, let's go round again, once more with feeling please...

Jake and Janette
Janette's dress is hideous, the poor thing. And it seemed to want to static itself to Jake half the time, it was really distracting. This was a pretty run-of-the-mill Viennese Waltz, but it was probably technically better than a lot of stuff he's done recently. Again, nothing much to write about and the judges' comments were tumbleweed central, can someone please wake us up!
I actually preferred this to most of Jake's other dances and it made me realise what he could have done if he had actually decided to learn to dance instead of acting like a jerk for the past eight or so weeks. 

Frankie and Kevin
Frankie looks amazeballs, I'll give her that. And do you what, this was actually pretty good, might even be my favourite since her paso! It was full of things that shouldn't have worked, but did; the song, Frankie being sultry, Kevin not wearing his specs. She said on ITT that she's not great at lifts, and I think that worked in her favour because they didn't make too much of them and concentrated on the tango content.
It's like the producers heard the cries for traditional music and got it completely wrong, thinking that traditional, classical European would do. Hm. They need to get a grip. However, this wasn't the worst choice and I like the band's rendition of it. It just hurts me because an Argentine Tango is so much better with authentic music. This was OK. Didn't blow me away, but there was a faint waft. 

Mark and Karen
I felt for Mark when I saw the rumba, this was never going to be his best. And then Karen went all contempo-emoootion on him. And wardrobe presented him with a pair of Gap khakis. But, do you know what, he did his best with what he was given and his performance was actually really good. Most men just look like they're cringe cringe cringe during the rumba, but he committed to it all the way. And then Len decided it was this particular couple he'd have a go at this week...
Whilst I agree that there should have been some rumba in this rumba, I do not agree that Len should have launched into poor Karen whilst the other pros have been getting away with all sorts for the rest of the series. He did the same to Trent last week. It's like expecting someone to play chess without knowing the rules and it's grossly, grossly unfair. 

Simon and Kristina
Simon just HAD to bring it with this dance, and asking someone to bring it with a foxtrot is a tall order, we mainly try to stay awake. But Kristina did it again, bringing the classic Hollywood glam that we love from these two, they're so smooth I'm surprised they don't slip over. And what a dress, Kristina, I'll even forgive you the cinema seat ending!
What Simon and Kristina do best. Cool as a refrigerated cucumber, and as classy as  a classroom full of classics students, this was great. I'm not convinced that the pros themselves are coming up with these arbitrary themes (in fact, I will put money on it), so I will not comment on it, other than that Kristina has been doing a great job shoehorning actual dance choreography into them. Lots of hold, and well executed. If these two don't reach the final I will be very angry. Raaa.

Caroline and Pasha
And now we're awake! A salsa song with someone singing in Spanish, heaven's above! On this night of all nights, seeing someone have such a bloody good time was a total tonic. There was so much oomph it even overshadowed the naffness of the pink outfits, great armography and energy all the way through too. Caroline's rise from always the bridesmaid to actually being the bride has been a delight to watch.
I actually didn't hate this. Those who are regular readers of this blog may faint in shock. I hate to break it to you all, but that track wasn't salsa. On the other hand, I was thankful of the latin flavour of it which was more appropriate than the usual tosh to which we are subjected. Caroline's body isolations were wonderful and Pasha's choreography was far more salsa than anything else we have seen this series. I would have liked to have seen more body movement in the basics in hold, but in the grand scheme of things, a big well done. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Gurn Baby Gurn

I hope you've all gotten over your travel sickness from the shocker that was Around the World Week, may it never darken our doors again. Lets get down to the tension of the quarter finals, hopefully with some proper dancing and battling it out to semis. And we have the waltz-a-thon - a group number based on ballroom, it's a revelation!

Simon and Kristina
These two look absolutely gorgeous, so old Hollywood and divine for an American Smooth. This had so much razzmatazz, Simon's worked so hard on his technique that he's now pulling off the ballroom numbers with aplomb. I think they were both so genuinely excited that the foot bit went wrong at the start of the last lift - other than that he seemed to be pulling off the lifts off with ease. I now want Simon to get to the final to see what Kristina does for their showdance.
I love the word aplomb. Genuinely thought poor Kristina was going to end up in a crumpled heap on the floor, but thankfully they managed to rectify the somewhat dodgy lift situation at the end. This routine may have had more clicks than the Addams Family, but they were seamlessly blended into the choreography and just exhibited Simon's spot on musicality. Love these two. I hope they're final-bound. 

Caroline and Pasha
After the epic horror of the so-called-Argentine-Tango of Jake's last week, this is exactly what we wanted - traditional music, low lighting and a hell of a lot of ooomph. The footwork was intricate and there was all the intensity that can be so hard to get. And like Darcey said, the lifts were great and didn't detract from the whole thing. Also liked the Rocky Horror moment of anticip....ation in the middle!
Great, a back-to-basics Argentine Tango 'show' style dance to a reet proper piece of tango music. Lovely arrangement by the band and this was beautifully danced. The embrace is never quite right for me in this dance, but by the standards of the show, and that neither is a trained AT dancer, this was a great job. Caroline for the final too, puh-lease. 

Pixie and Trent
Wow, Barbie and Ken are back in force! It's also hard to do a cha cha near the end of the series, but when you've got an amazing song like the Love Shack you might as well give it your all. Even if you're given a neon sports headband to wear. This was their 'straightest' routine for a while, I've grown fond of when they're just bonkers. It was fun and technically good, I could have done without Len going on for half an age....
And yes, here were Aerobics Barbie and Ken from circa 1986. This was kitsch, and cute. Yes, Pixie's technique is not perfect but it does seem to me that she was hammered to a different standard. That Len gave it an eight, yet gave Jake's ungainly spectacle a ten, is absurd. This two are an absolute joy to watch. They just exude energy like a shaken up bottle of cherry soda. 

Mark and Karen
The salsa of doom hit them last week, so it's nice that he got a ballroom number to work with, and oh my word Karen's dress is gorgeous. And celeb-girlfriend-prop, even if she is just on the phone - Andy Murray at least turned up eventually! There wasn't a huge amount in hold, but I can see why Karen did it, the foxtrot can be deathly dull and they needed to pull out all the stops this week. Mark's ballroom technique has really come on when you think about where he was at the start - we do love a tryer.
A lovely guy, and probably the most improved of this bunch. He genuinely had come from dodgy nightclub dancing and now look at him. Classy, elegant and charming. I don't see how a routine like this differs from what they call an 'American Smooth' - if routines like this are allowed, then surely the AS is obsolete? And rules apply to Pixie, but not Mark? However, I did like this, and I actually did vote for him. I would love to see him in the final too.

Jake and Janette
Has Jake got stuck in Around the World Week? Crikey there was some hideous gurning going on here, I just wanted to smack him round the face with a wet fish or something. Technically, this was great, there was loads and loads of choreography, energy and swivel, but my god it was annoying.
His technique wasn't bad at all - the little technique that there is in the charleston - but his gurning face made me want to stick red-hot pokers in my head. This did not, I repeat, not deserve a ten. Either: the producers want to keep him in to the final or Len just has a soft spot for him because he's a bit of a blokey LANDANAH. Ah oui, we all have our subconscious biases. He is an absolute good sport, but he is not a good a dancer as you think he is. Or he thinks he is. 

Frankie and Kevin
How many times have these two had the pimp slot this series? And what the hell was the sparkly angle-grinder about, most random proper ever?! I keep laughing at Kevin's lame outfit too, it looks like they got a shirt and trousers from Next and stuck some glitter on them. Yeah, it was a Strictly salsa, not much more to say, lots of steps and well performed and not even a vague attempt at being 'latin'.
This was not salsa. I can't even be bothered to say any more. 


The swing-a-thon has been packed away in a box forever, we can but hope. It's not the Grand Prix style of the crazy group Viennese Waltzes of old, but I'll take it. The dresses are prettier for a start.

As ever, these are designed to make it impossible to blog for, but here's a random stream of conciousness to keep you occupied. Pixie's top line is amazing, Simon and Kristina looked like they were in their own little world, Frankie's ballroom face is scarily blank, Caroline got lumped with the worst dress yet again. The whole thing was too short! Although, shockingly the judging was probably right!
The celeb girls really do have such a strong advantage with this, but Simon held his own - from the little the camera focused on them - and is far and away the best male left in the series. Far and away. Pixie stood out, but then she and Trent kind of draw you, which I guess, is the mark of a true show-person. I more or less agreed with the standings, and I wasn't expecting too, so well, I'm not going to moan about it, and that feels very odd.