Monday, 8 September 2014

Strictly Matchmaking

Let's go round again...the launch show is back and we're ready for our hour of randomness bringing the sparkle back to see us through the winter. Get your blogging hats on!

Blog title a tribute to @Dilly4's classic #StrictlySnacks combo of Matchmakers and Prosecco. 

Gregg and...Aliona
Not going to lie, I actually cackled. Ok, Gregg might not be the token oldie disaster like last year but he's also not exactly a front-runner. Although he does seem to have already lost some weight and is taking it seriously enough, his super-concentration face in the group dance was great, good luck to him.

Jake and...Janette
Quite liking this pairing, I quite liked Janette last year but we didn't see a lot of her. Hopefully Jake will pull his socks up and take to dancing - he looked pretty light on his feet with those jivey steps in the group dance and we do want a bit of ginger solidarity on this blog.

Steve and...Ola
Now, he might not be a favourite, but this is the sort of guy Ola is good with. He looks like he keeps himself in very good shape and if he applies himself in training and isn't too self-conscious then it could work. Like Kenny Logan all over again. Ola even won with someone who you'd never have thought would have had a chance at the beginning of the series, so keep an eye on them.

Thom and...Iveta
I am so happy at this pairing, I actually cheered and fist-pumped in my living room. She's really paid her dues with Johnny Ball and shown her choreography muscles with Mark Benton, now she's been given the favourite-but-not-a-ringer! She's a real champion and also comes across as very smart. Bring it on Iveta, we're counting on your genius.

Caroline and...Pasha
Major cheer number 2 for this pairing! She's the SCD fans' dark horse already and she seems totally likeable - and we didn't see nearly enough of Pasha last year and I'm glad he should get the chance to flex those choreography muscles like he did with Chelsee and Kimberly.

Jennifer and...Not Anton!
Jennifer is not with Anton, I repeat, not with Anton! She's with the new Tristan, Irish on Irish, who knows what's going to happen here. She does seem nervous, but very genuine and happy to be there and people will definitely warm to that. And don't forget a massive number of people watch Mrs Browns Boys!

Pixie and...Trent
Popstar and a young new male pro, it was always going to happen. As people have already remarked, they look scarily similar, and Trent also looks like a mini Iain Waite. Because she's with a new pro I have no idea how this is going to go - I've been watching 12 series of SCD and I don't like this unpredictability!

Simon and...Kristina
Kristina with someone a) decent and b) suitable for her height shocker! He's had a bit of training, he's in a boyband so he knows how to be on a stage, he's pretty good looking. This could be a good year for Kristina.

Tim and...Natalie
Not very happy about this, I was very much looking forward to having Natalie Lowe back kicking some serious Strictly bottom - and now she might have to take things a bit slower. Tim doesn't look like he's just there for the pay cheque though, seems like he loves the show and is very good humoured.

Scott and...Joanne
These two are so cute - I can see them having a cracking time together. Maybe even Kevin an Susanna Mark 2, with less specs and a gender reversal. OK, maybe I'm asking for too much there.

Mark and...Karen
Well this is an interesting pairing, should be feisty. Like I've said, I think Mark has the potential to be a rough diamond/dark horse/metaphor on a journey this year and since he's got more potential than a hairy biker Karen is going to work him until he drops.

Alison and...Aljaz
She is so, so excited and I don't blame her! She's got buckets of energy and on top of that she gets to dance with Aljaz so she'll be bursting through that training room door every morning. Lisa Riley is always going to be mentioned, but I hope she gets to go beyond that.

Judy and...Anton
Well we kinda saw this happening, once Jennifer didn't go to Anton anyway. To be fair, Anton is lovely and will teach her a great set of ballroom dances - I just hope she wasn't expecting to learn any latin. She seems great and we know she knows how to work hard, I'm hoping her slightly wooden performance in the group dance was just nerves.

Sunetra and...Brendan
I do love Brendan, but I have no idea what to make of Sunetra - she's still a bit of an unknown quantity. Loved hearing about her Bollywood dancing past though, might have taught a few things she does even realise she's remembered. Her feet looked better than her arms in the group number, but Brendan is sure to work on that.

Frankie and...Kevin
And it's the last two! This has been a whistle-stop evening! I think Kevin may have taken over from Darren and Vincent as the keeper of the tiny ladies (ok, that sounds a bit sinister). She should be a frontrunner due to being young and in a girl band and Kevin looked pretty happy. I'm also slightly dumbfounded that someone in my name is on Strictly, this is going to get confusing on Twitter!

So that's our pairings for 2014 - has this changed your mind about who is going to win? Don't forget to vote in our poll!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Class of 2014

This year, Strictly decided to torture us, with a drip-drip of contestants announced everyday, we went from hating it, to loving it, to kinda exhausted with it kind of quickly. But finally, we have a full set of the Class of 2014! It's also a really quite odd line-up; yes, there's some of the obvious soap stars, popstrels and sporty types but no obvious star or massive celeb coup - looks like we're in for a bumpy ride this year!

So here are the contestants, in no particular order....well, actually, they are in alphabetical order....

Alison Hammond

Not going to lie, this is my most underwhelming contestant (haven't started on the most positive note here, sorry!). It seems like a classic we-must-get-coverage-on-ITV hiring and also a desire to repeat Lisa Riley somehow, and trying to clone contestants never works.

Alison Hammond was my break from A-Level revision. Well not her, personally, but Big Brother Three. THREE. That was 2002. That's how long ago it was. And to be fair, for someone who was evicted third on a show that long ago,  Alison's carved a respectable career on television. That is in itself quite remarkable. I have given myself a stern talking to this year. I'm not going to moan and complain about the oh-so-subjective-anyway 'calibre' of contestants (previously I'd have gagged at the thought of an ex-reality TV star on the show - but we're 14 years past the-first-series-of-Big-Brother, the fact of the matter is, these are our TV personalities now.) So all the best luck to Alison, even though in my head she's still the woman who broke the garden table. 

Caroline Flack

She has been stolen from the X Factor! What a tabloid coup! Scandal! Well, kind of anyway. Could be a bit of a dark horse this one, she seems like she's pretty gung-ho and up for the excitement of Strictly, so lets just hope she has some rhythm too. And maybe they can turn her trademark shorts into something sparkly...

Oh my lordy, they have done it. She's not quite Louis Walsh but she'll do. I almost guarantee she'll be paired with the youngest hottiest of hottie professionals in the hope for an inkling of lurve/tabloid fodder. I imagine she'll be pretty good and if so, stands a pretty good chance of doing well. But the main question is ...does that mean they have to mention the X-Factor on Strictly?

Frankie Bridge

Genuine popstar alert! I don't much like the Saturdays, but they've had a clutch of top 10 singles in the last few years and that makes them a lot more bona fide than a lot of popstars we've had on the show before. I don't think of dancing when I think of them though, and she's always had a bit of a 'too cool for school' attitude about her. If she puts some gusto in she could stand a decent chance.

Mostly just probably going to confuse Frankie Frankie with this Frankie. Remember who's the original Frankie. 

Gregg Wallace

I don't watch Masterchef (to be honest I was hoping for Paul Hollywood), but what the hell, loads of people love the show and are happy to see him on it! I'm also wondering if he'll be able to dance in those trademark glasses? Looks like at least an 80% chance of dad dancing, but apparently he has been working hard to get his fitness up before the show, so best of luck to him.

Haha, joy. I expect he'll be a sport and enjoy it. He always looks a jolly old sort on TV. He's not a chef, so we shouldn't expect any weird frying-pan-mimes with a bent-over pro. I suppose he could mime weighing tomatoes.

Jake Wood

It's Max Branning, the most unlikely ginger lothario on TV is going to be let loose on the Strictly dancefloor! I actually quite like Max's character and his unrelenting determination to cock up his own life, but I have to remind myself that this is Jake and not Max. And let us not forget that his TV brother Scott Maslen was really quite good a few years ago - although hopefully the BBC have learnt their lesson and won't make film a massive storyline at the same time.

Jake Wood: because we still couldn't get Ross Kemp. Having said that, he's still a worthy contestant in his own right. Eastenders actors are a given. Plus, we've never had a ginger winner. 

Jennifer Gidney

I have never watched Mrs Browns Boys and don't plan on it any time soon, so I have no idea whether she can be considered famous enough. She does seem like a jolly good sport though, possibly destined for Anton.

I have always wondered what could rhyme with kidney.

Judy Murray

Ah Judy, I cannot help but like you! Bring sportiness, determination and a cracking sense of humour to the dancefloor and you'll be away. She's also a MASSIVE Strictly fan, and as we know, we should welcome these people with open arms. It also means they have a vague idea of what the dances look like and genuinely want to do it, rather than being desperate to be on TV. Just bring along Andy so we can have a giggle at him sitting in the studio surrounded by glitter.

Token older lady. I had a bit of a barney about her really only being famous for being someone's mum...yes, yes, she is - I know she was a tennis player as well, and I know she coaches the national would you be happy if the UK's Scrabble coach took part? Would you? But alas, as I said under Alison Hammond's post, I'm being, like, so zen about all this now. I'd love one of these token older contestants to win. Please don't give her Anton, so she has a fighting chance of actually learning something. 

Mark Wright

A Towie star was confirmed and the sky didn't fall, who would've thunk? Yes, you might dismiss the guy, but remember he is a confident young male and in good nick - we don't get all that many of those on SCD these days! If he throws himself into it and has a good relationship with his parter (oo-er missus) then mark my words, he could have a j-word.

Quite possibly a rough diamond. Is he this year's Abbey Clancy?

Pixie Lott

A SECOND young, recently successful popstar?! And to think we were slating this line-up. Pixie seems the most likely to be given the ringer tag this year (stage school, musical theatre work) but it doesn't seem clunkingly obvious like Denise van Outen. Could she possibly straddle that tricky  potential-but-not-too-good-first-week conundrum?

There is no bleedingly obvious ringer/safety car this year, which is actually making it quite interesting. However, as Frankie says, if there is one, it could be Pixie. She was born in 1991. 1991. This means in my head, she should be about seven. 

Scott Mills

He's on the radio, but will now have a face, it's going to be a transitional journey for us all. Scott Mills always seems like a good sport, will quite happily throw himself into things and doesn't take it all too seriously - all good ingredients for a Strictly contestant. Now all we need is rhythm, posture, core strength and musicality, a walk in the park I'm sure!

As long as he doesn't mess up his tango head, he'll do better than Spoony. I imagine he'll be class clown.

Simon Webbe

Well Simon was made bankrupt earlier this year, so I think we all know why he's on the show....He did the Christmas Special a few years ago and was, well, OK. I can somehow see him being better at ballroom than latin, but now that I've said that I've probably cursed him. Please don't dress him in blue every week, wardrobe department...Unfortunately, he's the most boring one from Blue. Lee is bonkers, Duncan is hot and bi, and Anthony Costa is like a builder trapped in a boyband. But Simon...?

One of my colleagues has pictures of him stuck to her locker...?

Steve Backshall

I will confess, I had no idea who Steve was when he was announced - but Twitter seemed very enthusiastic right off the mark so I'm guessing he is actually famous. Being wildlife presenter I think that's a first for the show, too bad Bruce won't be able to get out the Big Book of Animal Puns. Not sure on this guy dance-wise, although I did read that he's got a black belt in judo and that sounds rather impressive.

On googling Steve Backshall, I discovered a video of him tackling an alligator. However, that is nothing - nothing - compared to tackling Craig R-H. I didn't know who he was. I find wildlife programmes weirdly emotionally distressing. However, he's a different type of contestant, but I fear he may also befall the curse of dad-dancing. 

Sunetra Sarker

Everyone says Casualty, I say Brookside and No Angels, and she played great sparky characters in both. Casualty has a potted history on Strictly, from the Tom the winner, to awkward-but-plucky Will Thorpe to really quite odd Patrick last year. Sunetra's an unknown quantity, so only time will tell!

I didn't know the name but I do know her face. I haven't much to say on this one...only that we will have to see her dancing. And that's kind of a given. Jeez, how dull. I don't know why you're still reading. 

Thom Evans

Sexy sportsman a-hoy, there's one every year! He's a rugby player and they have a surprisingly good track record and I've just read on Wikipedia that he was in a hilarious sounding boyband called 'Twen2y4Se7en' (that spelling makes my head hurt) - so he can't be totally adverse to getting his groove on.

Didn't know who he was, but then, he's a sportsman, so do I ever? (no) There is also a Youtube video of him that shows he got rhythm. I think. I have my fingers and toes crossed for this one. 
Why is it spelled Thom though? I keep pronouncing it THom in my head. Like thumb. #Thombelina 

Tim Wannacott

Why Strictly, why? Do you not remember the Series 1 Bargain Hunt dance dis-aaaarster that was David Dickinson? Walking around the dancefloor randomly doing jazz hands and mugging the camera? Poor Camilia is probably breaking out in a cold sweat at the memory. Anyway, I'm sure he's a lovely man but there's no way he's going to win. Maybe Aliona will get him.

Oh please. 

So that's it, the 2014 line up is ready for us to pour over until Christmas and it feels like for once it's totally wide open. Vote in our poll to decide who we think is going to win!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Hot Gossip

Strictly season is looming towards us once again like a huge glitterball on the horizon, as we stumble, blinking into the land of sparkle and clumsy metaphors...

For the newbies out there, Frankie writes in black, Clover in purple.

Mark Wright has been mentioned...can we go home now?
First up, Mark Wright. I have to mention Mark Wright first because he might sue me if not, he's managed to fill so many magazine pages about 'gossip' over whether he's on SCD on a daily basis. Despite the fact that his missus Michelle Keegan is way more famous than him and she's the one we're all excited about, no, it's all about Mark Wright! It also brings us into the argument of whether we can have a 'reality show celeb' on SCD, he'd be the first and some people would be apoplectic with rage at the BBC at the idea. I see you Mark Wright and raise you Jo Wood and Nancy Dell'Olio...

Who is this man? I am (pop) culturally inept. Seriously, you hit the big 3.0. and cease to know who anybody is. After Googling him, I discover he's that chap from TOWIE. Now if he takes part, this marks a fundamental shift in the celebdom of Strictly. Someone who's famous only for being on another reality show? That's a whole new low. 

Disclaimer: I have erased the memory of Nancy and Jo Who...? . 

Now we might as well get the every-year-rumours out of the way. This year it sounds like Greg Wallace is IN and Paul Hollywood is OUT. I don't know what to make of this, I adore Bake-Off but I'm indifferent to Masterchef - and neither of them look like they'll be amazing dancers anyway! Although now Brucie is gone that's reams of rumba/rum-ba-ba jokes out the window. And there's no Richard Madely rumours, what is the world coming to?! I don't want Richard Madely on the show, but that rumour was always a comfortable bit of familiarity when the names of TOWIE stars are being thrown about.

I love Masterchef. Gregg Wallace is a totally acceptable and utterly plausible contestant. But the big question is this: this series, will John Torode appear from inside a lobster bisque mid pro-rumba? Stranger, well, similar, things have happened.

Then there's the lesser-spotted Young Man. They really are getting lesser-spotted, I was quite excited at Radio 1's Greg James being on the show and he's 28! Alas, he said no, honestly, 'young' people these days. Apparently they're getting Dave Berry of Capital FM to fill the 'random male DJ' slot - how is that a thing?!

A star from the wireless? That's positively medieval. Not counting Zoe Ball, the only DJ we have had before is Spoony, and all I can remember is him going out on a bad tango head. 

Already embracing the sparkle !

On to the women, although there are hardly any women being rumoured this year - I guess after last year's female domination and the sociological revolution of TWO WOMEN now presenting a primetime show the powers-that-be think we can't handle any more oestrogen. Although, loving that the most steadfast rumour so far has been Judy Murray. Yeah, she might be 'just' the mum of someone famous but she's great at what she does and a Strictly superfan, and we all love those on the show.

But to be fair, if she didn't have a famous son, we wouldn't know who she was. How many tennis coaches do you know? Go on. Tell me. Go on. So she doesn't fit the code. Heck, I sound like Dexter. I objected to Abbey Clancy on the basis that no one would care if she hadn't married a footballer. However, I am willing as ever, to quit the moaning and give her a fair shot (boom boom) once the show starts. Before that it's fair game. (boom boom).

Elsewhere in the bargain-bin of female contestants we have Caroline Flack (oooh nicking someone from the X Factor, tabloid fodder a-hoy!) and Michelle Collins (soap star box...TICK!). And that seems to You'd better have some tricks up your sleeve BBC, a Hollywood hottie? A disgraced footballer? William Hague?!

Has Michelle Collins not already been in it? She seems so obvious my brain has conjured false memories. She danced with Darren Bennett, I swear it. 

I've saved something delightful for the end...just close your eyes and imagine if this one came true...there have been the strongest rumours ever this year that Torvill and Dean could be on the show! They aren't called Chris and Jayne by the way, I'm not having it. Everyone loves them, they'd work so hard, we'd get one last chance to bitch about how awful Dancing on Ice was - BBC, make it happen! 

Ooh. Can't see it happening (I take that comment back if it happens.) But Strictly is all about the gimmick these days, and that's a biggie.

Saturday, 10 May 2014


It's Claudia! It's Claudia! Huzzah, it's Claudia!

It's been a crazy few years for Strictly fans, there's been much fun and randomness along the way, but we've also seen beloved pros leaving, a sea of props, horrendous song choices....the DANCE TROUPE...and then all of a sudden, we actually get something we want - who would have thought?!

Claudia, Claudia, we'll have to re-name the Tesspit. Claudia's Cave?

I'm genuinely surprised and happy that they've picked Claudia. Yes, we know she's the best for the job, but this is the year Simon Cowell comes back to X Factor, the year SCD needs to compete in the ratings more than ever and you'd worry they would go for some sort of headline-grabbing, big-money replacement for Bruce. Or, y'know, someone old-school and horrendous like Ronnie Corbett again (otherwise known as the worst EVER episode of SCD that makes me want to claw at my face whenever I think of it).

I'm also delighted that it's the two ladies fronting the show, whilst we all hoped for Claudia, there was a general acceptance it would be a man, and hurrah for the BBC for not going down that road. My you be blessed with many outraged columns in the Daily Mail, that's when you know you've done something right.

And now the time has come to say goodbye to Bruce, as much as there is love for Claudia, I will miss him. No one else had a Bruce. There's something to be said about the specialness of Strictly that came with Bruce, someone who's a kagillion years old and has been dancing around having a whale of a time for longer than we've all been alive. Tap-dancing with woolly mammoths. And despite it being such hard work, he loved how Strictly is live, and thankfully we get Claudia - someone else who could go off in any direction and say anything without warning and chase McFly off stage waving their arms like a lunatic. Once again, hurrah!

Claudia and Bruce, we salute you!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Dancing queen!

Forget all the usual guff - this is totally the closest final ever! Four ladies set to battle it out with their bestest dances and their spangliest dresses, we have no idea how this one is going to end!

Now, as we've done in previous years, we're just going to whistlestop through the first dances, since we've blogged them before. Suffice to say, Susanna improved on her hoppy-tasic quickstep and Abbey reminded us why she's been impressing us since week one. And how could we regret seeing Natalie shake it with our favourite sexy Cossack again?! Sophie and Brendan also brought it with their classy VW once again, it's still anyone's to play for...

Now it is time to move on to the annual festival of randomness that is the showdances!

Susanna and Kevin
Gosh this was romance piled on top of Hollywood plus both of them holding back the tears the whole time. Gorgeous song choice and lovely to see a ballroom-based showdance, but I felt it got a bit totes emotes at times, like they were trying to convey the emoooootiiion of contemporary dance in it. Pretty impressive spinny lift though, I would have fallen down to be sick after all those revolutions, but unlike me Susanna is a classy bird.

Abbey and Aljaz
Wow, that was the kind of fierce showdance we were expecting! Just on the right side of barmy, loved it as a whole piece, including the Ballroom Rock of Ages Barbie and Ken outfits. I got totally excited when it was on and whooped at least twice, so even if it wasn't perfect, it's fulfilled the showdance requirements for me. It may fall into the hot mess category of Kimberly's showdance last year.

Natalie and Artem
To start with I'm loving Natalie's outfit, it's from the Strictly Superheroes genre of dresses and so it should be. This was a cracking routine from start to finish, so many sections and styles flowing into each other. Plus it was fun! No pining emotion or po-faced-ness there, just a right ol' fun bit of razzmatazz for a Saturday night, which is what this is all about.

Sophie and Brendan
Is there such a thing as a 'traditional' showdance? This was the disco-y, latin-y kind of showdance we totally expect from these things and it was pretty good. Sophie looks amazeballs and Brendan is having the time of his life - but I also expected him to play to her strengths a bit more.

And as we come to the results show we have to say goodbye to........Sophie! Not completely shocking, but gutted we did not get to see the epic Charleston of epic-ness again.

So now we turn to the final section in this marathon blog post, are you still with us, or have you collapsed from emotional exhaustion? Well you've still got it to come. Susanna brought the most paso-y of pasos back to us, along with Kevin's Father Dougal matador outfit, but to me it didn't have the same grrr as last time. Abbey closed most of her gapping with the most delightful quickstep of the series...but then we came to Natalie. While the other two didn't quite come up to the first time they did their dances she knocked it out of the park with bells on, and tears, the tears from everyone!

And then we had a million recaps, this blog post got even more rambling and everyone from the series came out a did a crazy mess of a dance that was actually such good fun that no one really cared. AND THEN the BBC felled us with the uber-montage of every winner ever just in case there was anyone who hadn't cried just yet. Until, finally, it was revealed the winner was....ABBEY!

She looked as shocked as us all, but totally deserved it after doing so well throughout the series. And what a series it's been; we've ranted and laughed and generally gone a bit crazy - thanks for joining us along the way!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

You're a Vegetable.

Roll up, roll up! It's time for the explosion of drama that is the SCD semi-finals. Dreams will be made and shattered on that dancefloor, there will be grudges created that will be held in the blogosphere for years to come. I'm just excited about two dances and two dresses for everyone! Tess has even caged her cleavage in acknowledgement of such a dramatic show.

Natalie and Artem - Salsa

It's not a proper salsa song, but we've had worse *cough*GetLucky*cough* and these two were always going to throw themselves into it anyway. Plus there is an epic amount of fringing in that dress, more fringe than the whole series combined! And the hair, the hair was close to escaping, I think I want it to explode in a showdance scenario. Great salsa, bits were a-shaking and Natalie was a-spinning, great start to the show.

Slightly haunted by could-have-beens. Can you imagine how good this would have been to an appropriate piece of music? However, this was, if you shut your ears, the most salsa of the salsas this year. Natalie's an absolute natural. Nicole Cutler-esque spins were a bonus. Also, a highlight: Natalie singing out loud 'You're a Vegetable.'

Patrick and Anya - Waltz

I really, really hate Unchained Melody, it's the most dreary song in the world for me. Even with the new arrangement this wasn't doing it for me. It was a passable waltz but not semi-final standard, it just seemed a bit stiff and stilted to me. Plus he had a weird look on his face, like something had gone wrong or he needed a wee. Tossing Anya on the floor halfway through was really quite odd too, yeah, you can do it in ballroom but it seemed out of step with the dance.

I was oh so ready to rant about this song choice but thankfully the track was suitably rearranged into the correct time signature and, actually, was a rather nice arrangement. I haven't anything else to say other than it was nice. And nice ain't getting you nowhere at this stage. 

Sophie and Brendan - Paso

If there was ever a haughty dance it was this, I'm expecting good face from Sophie again, so excited about this dance. I loved it, the drama! The drama! Control but powerful. The faces! The dress! Oh I came over all of a quiver. Brendan you get top marks for choreography once again.

Liked the music but all the exclamations of 'Yay! Traditional Music!' on Twitter - please think. A composition for a Russian ballet is hardly traditional Spanish bullfighting music, is it? Only objecting to the use of the word traditional. This worked. It was marchy and dark. She is still a bit wibbly around the middle but if other dances were overmarked, this was defnitely undermarked. And also half expected Alan Sugar to pop out of a cake. Stranger things have happened.

Susanna and Kevin - Foxtrot

They're bringing out the big guns and harnessing the power of Kevin's magical specs, good plan. It's hard to jazz up a foxtrot, but with a genius song choice and their amazing partnership they pretty much managed it! Brilliantly executed, I even managed to stomach the bench. Also loving Susanna's perfect princess prom dress and their bouncy squeaky reactions to their 10s. 

I do like to see the reaction to a wholly unexpected 10 and Susanna's utter delight at hers was a joy. However, nice this was, it was really only nice. It was not a trot of epic proportions. When was the last time you saw a trot that was? 

Abbey and Aljaz - Samba

I really wanted to see if she could style out Lilia's samba turban, but alas, the dream was not there and we had to cope with some lovely feathers instead. It was never going to be her best, but it was better than I think even she thought it was going to be and it did show she's come on leaps and bounds from her salsa/cha cha days. Lots of content and great rhythm, now she's got that done she can wow us with her American Smooth...

Squidged full of content and lots of traditional samba moves. Alijaz gets a prize for choreography here. However, it didn't deserve 10s as her body movement was non-existent. 

All change - let's go round again!

Natalie and Artem - Argentine Tango

This was always going to be good and it just oooozed Argentine tango from every step. Proper music and as ever, all about the jigsaw legs. Len's right, there was a burn, and not just from the uber-red outfits.

The lovely electronic tango track was goosebumpy. This was a great dance. May not have deserved a 40 in the context of all the series ever, but in the context of this year's competition, what the hell is going on to give this 9s?

Patrick and Anya - Paso

80s power-ballad paso klaxon! This was a paso-by-numbers to me, Patrick didn't seem to be doing much himself content-wise considering this was a semi-final dance. He did a wonderful smell-the-fart face for a lot of it though and Anya's dress was lovely and Lilia-eqsue but I don't think that alone can save them.

I don't even remember this dance.

Sophie and Brendan - American Smooth

Oh how I adore Brendan nonchalantly sliding down the stair rail on his bum. Lovely routine playing to all of Sophie's strengths. Wonderful lifts too, they seemed to be part of the dance and not just gymnastics for the sake of it. I can't say it was perfect, but dammit these two deserve to be in the final so much!

Sophie looked as though she were floating on a cloud, in a possibly drug-enduced haze. And I mean that in the best possible way. It was almost ephemeral. Bring on the final, E-B. And yeah, Brendan got cool.

Susanna and Kevin

I thought they were going to eyes and teeth their way through this, and they eyes, teethed and shimmy-faced it! This was NOT the best dance for them to be doing in the semi-final, it was all over the shop at times. Full of energy, maybe even a bit too much, but that was a properly hyper song choice. The messy samba was hilariously good fun, a messy semi-final salsa is worrying...

This was not salsa.

Abbey and Aljaz - American Smooth

This was the cutesy-est American Smooth ever and I still loved it. She's so good in hold and I was surprised at how perfect their side-by-side bits actually were. The lifts weren't spectacular but she handled them pretty well. She's got that great balance of technical skill and personality, along with being pretty consistent over most of the series. 

I actually preferred Sophie's dance on the whole but you can't knock Abbey's top line. Well maybe you could with a large rock and a trebuchet but that would be cruel. Am I the only one who could see Abbey winning this? And I totally wouldn't mind. 

Sunday, 8 December 2013


We're running low on people, only six couples coming down the stairs really doesn't feel like enough now. Plus there's no Bruce, I'm all out of flunter. Tess and Claudia have also raided the dressing up box marked 80s Prom, so who knows what randomness we're in store for this evening...

Ashley and Ola
Will there actually be salsa? They had a go with the song, rather than doing a salsa to the Beatles or something equally random. This was fast and jam-packed full of steps, they'd obviously put a hell of a lot of work into it, but it was still a bit sloppy. The lifts got a bit crazy, wasn't sure if it was going right or if there was an impromptu death-defying stunt involving Ola's head, oo-er! As much as I don't like a prop, I kinda missed Julian Clary's maracas, you don't get them like that anymore!

Natalie and Artem
Oooh I've been waiting for her paso and I was so glad to see they got proper music and no daft theme. That is an epic paso dress too, with some seriously good skirt, loved the bit where Artem pulled her in by it! The flamenco elements were beautifully done, but could have done with a tad more grrrrr. I do like my pasos on the bonkers side and whilst it wasn't the jumping-up-and-down-bestest paso ever there was no need for Len to go on a rant like that!

Patrick and Anya
Ouch, a male rumba at this stage is never good...Patrick totally brought out his act-tor range for this, Anya brought the scary Carol Voderman faces. This was pretty good, could have done with a bit more hip action, it seemed a bit intermittent. If he hadn't been in the bottom two before I would have said he could have coasted through this. Saying that, Patrick seems to have loosened up a fair bit and I'm wondering if he and Darcey had some champers backstage when she got that 10 out!

Susanna and Kevin
I have never, ever wanted a dance to rise above the song choice more than this one. At first I thought they might just scrape through as an oddity, but the song was just bad. Even Bad might have been a better song, who knows? Susanna obviously had the skill to do a good AT though and she looked proper fierce, throwing herself into it as ever. Le sigh...

Abbey and Aljaz
The snot-green dress from the ITT previews has magically vanished and been replaced with the loveliest of the night, I suspect the green one had an accident and mysteriously fell into a shredder. This song choice was delightfully quirky...when Brendan and Kelly did it six years ago. But this was a delight on a rather frantic evening, so much natural grace and Abbey is having the time of her life. Might not have been perfect, but if Patrick is getting a 10 then Abbey has to have one!

Sophie and Brendan
The hair! The makeup! Brendan the yuppie! Shouldn't love it, but I do. There was theming, props and a random song choice, but I still really enjoyed this so it must have been good. Oddly, Sophie was more expressive than usual when she was supposed to be a mannequin, maybe she just knew she looked fabulous and had to give it some welly. There was a proper tango in there too, even when he's having a laugh Brendan knows what he's doing.

Strictly Come Dancing 2013: Ashley Taylor Dawson is the big loser in a controversial swingathon
Argh, brace yourselves for running around and legs flying through the air in random lifts. Natalie and Artem totally deserved to win, loved seeing Artem doing the chicken walk and Natalie's jelly-legs cartwheel at the end. Oh if we had only seen their jive! Kevin and Susanna were voted off criminally early and Ola and Ashley could have done with a bit longer too. The problem is that with six couples on the floor it's pretty much impossible for people at home to see what's going on, I can't believe I'm saying this, but it needs to go on for twice as long! I do like a pro-strop when they're sent off though, even if it is staged, Brendan coming over all Johnny Castle is always a treat!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Artem Smooth

It's musical week, what we like to call the least-worst of the theme weeks! Because y'know, musicals actually have something to do with dancing. What a novel idea. But it also means more props and comedy outfits, it could go either way. Plus we get a decent old-school opening number with cute outfits and jazz hands galore.

Patrick and Anya

Well that just might be the biggest prop of them all, remember when we spoke of the ridiculousness of flying cars on DWTS Italy etc? You're now living it! Thankfully, they got out of the car and then proceeded to do a normal Charleston and didn't mess around with toot sweets or butterfly nets. There were Charleston faces that weren't gurning, which is becoming increasingly hard, there was swivel and cute outfits. Even though 10s was going a bit far we're doing better than last week already!

Let me just say that I think we were likely to love anything this week after the horrendous hoard of horse poo that was last week's show. And charlestons? Meh. But perhaps because I hadn't eaten since 11am, or perhaps because I was just so desperate to see something good, I did quite love this. Marvellous swivel. Superb timing and synchronisation. It was just a jolly delight. 

Natalie and Artem

Natalie looks stunning, best outfit in weeks, thank goodness for that. Artem's suit on the other hand looks like it's had an accident at the craft table. This was your typical Artem American Smooth, which means he's just choreographed a random stunning dance rather than an actual AS. I normally get arsey about that, but I loved this anyway. Natalie's hair was so emotional it just had to escape!

I love Natalie's dancing and I think we are far beyond cries of ringer. Tom Chambers anyone. But as Frankie said, this was not an American Smooth (though let's be honest, no one really knows what that is these days...), this was an Artem Smooth. Incredibly beautiful. Balletic. Swooshy arms. Synchronised. But it in no way, shape or form, was it a ballroom dance. Artem, you lovely, delightful, sparkly blueberry. Put aside your artistic tendencies and don't risk Natalie's place in the competition. 

Mark and Iveta

I love Iveta, she pulls off a spangly outfit from Cats and then brings us a delightful samba to the Lion King. How Mark managed to bounce with those knees I do not know, but he was better than plenty of able-bodied people in the samba this series!

Iveta. You are amazing. I don't even care about the frivolous nature of the themeage with this couple because it just works. It's so Mark's character. He even plays a straight dance with a dash of comedy. To do otherwise would just. be. wrong. I have been on the lookout for a new favourite female pro since Karen Hardy left, and I think Iveta may just have filled the gap. And Mark, I suspect your time is up this week, but we will miss you. 

Sophie and Brendan

They are trying to turn Sophie into a scary Victorian doll, aren't they? Props-tastic opening but then again a choreography-full VW that was totally delightful. Forward turns and reverse turns, that's what it's supposed to be about. I don't blame her for looking dizzy at the end, I was expecting them to walk straight into the judges desk at the end!

Artem, take note. Do this. Brendan's choreography was beautiful and they were about the only couple to dance the dance they were supposed to. Even with gimmicks, on a theme week, Brendan was straight into hold and it was just delightful. He is the most experienced professional on the show (tied with Anton...but really??) and it is really showing this year. Sophie and Brendan got all my five votes this week and I'm not afraid to say it. So ner. 

Abbey and Aljaz

This was the one dance I thought was going to suffer because of the theme. Abbey actually looks like Carrie in SATC series two and is totally pulling it off. I would say this was very good, one of her best latins, but even I know it wasn't salsa! Saying that, Abbey seems to just be able to do whatever choreography you give her and that is the sign of a great dancer. The human props can sod off, Abbey was doing the arms better than them. The lifts were a bit hairy though. The 40 was surprise, but whatcha gonna do....

Love Abbey but this was not salsa. 

Ashley and Ola

Ola's outfit would actually be very nice if it wasn't for the wig, Ashley's outfit is not nice. This was a very good rumba actually, nice lines and fluidity, slightly spoiled by the fact they looked like they were on the way to a fancy dress party. Ashley is getting better, but somehow he's often under the radar. Maybe now Ben has gone he might just emerge...preferably not on a flying carpet.

Pretty fly for a guy. Fly. Geddit? He was on a flying carpet? Blokes usually pants at rumba? Speaking of pants, I think Ola ripped hers. 

Susanna and Kevin

Delightful song choice for musicals week, it didn't need any gimmicks with a choice as perfect as that. I had high, high hopes for this and nearly had a little cry when she went wrong a couple of times. She recovered pretty well and the piece on the stairs was delightful. Bruno's whaaaaaaaaat at Craig's 7 was shared around the nation.

Oh Susanna! I did cry for you. This was supposed to be the pinnacle of the show. A fantastic song choice, and difficult choreography, but in the end, those little tootsies got in a pickle and you didn't quite keep up. Her 'eyes and teeth' recovery would have made Pamela Stephenson proud. 

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Blackpool Hangover

Danger: we're now about to hit the episode-after-Blackpool-curse, it's always the way. Tess looks like a bridesmaid from an LA Grecian-themed wedding and the tabloids are looking at if Bruce will drop dead any second.

Disclaimer. I have toothache and my comments are thus likely influenced by my drug addled state.

Susanna and Kevin

I'm sure Holly Valance wore that dress about three years ago, but I forgot about that the second she went into Karen Hardy Face Overdrive. Susanna was saying all week she wasn't getting on with the cha cha and I have to say I agree with her. It just didn't work, Kevin did a good routine and like Len said, it was acceptable, but I did have the odd cringe and could have seen more hip action. Everyone has a bad week, this is the first time she's actually had one!

There's always a dance that doesn't suit a contestant. To be fair, it's not usually the cha cha cha, but you can't really knock Susanna for having one bad week. You can knock her for having a face like Carol-does-rumba, which was a little more Debbie-does-Dallas than one cares to remember. I would suggest she tone it down next week but perhaps knowing her technique wasn't quite on the money this time, she merely took Frankie's advice of 'EYES AND TEETH! EYES AND TEETH!' And that can be forgiven. 

Ashley and Ola

Gosh, there's a lot of facework going on this week, Ashley looking like a cocker spaniel who's just been shouted at. Lovely routine, cheese-tastic song, wafty dress - this is what you expect from a SCD waltz. I think he's quietly getting better, bit more polished, less frantic. Speaking of dresses, did they not have time to finish Ola's? Maybe they were messing around in a shark tank for too long...

What was going on with the music? You could barely hear the beat. Waltz goes ONE two three ONE to three and the beautiful rise and fall comes from dancing to the music. If the music does not rise and fall, then how can the contestant be expected to? This show is treating the music like frippery. Like meaningless decoration. Like it doesn't really matter, like costumes, and props. Oh my. My point is, Ashley did a fine job. Considering. Note to those in control: dancing is not random movement where music happens to be in the background; dancing is moving TO the music. To deny suitable music is to do the celebrities and their partners a disservice. 

Natalie and Artem

More bloody Rhianna, does the BBC keep using her dross to pretend they're down with the kids? This was a technically great tango as expected, but for the millionth time soulless synths mean there's no tension in the atmosphere at all. I'm sick of writing this four or five times a series.

Contrary to what you might think, I'm not a complete purist. I don't expect every single couple to dance to La Cumparsita. That would be as dull as a bowl of dishwater being forced to watch paint dry. When the Strictly band arranged Nelly Furtado's Maneater for a tango, I thought it was marvellous. It just worked. The mood, tempo, marchiness. This track, however, having no mood and very little marchiness ruined what could have been an epic dance for Natalie. There are some dances, such as cha cha, where a pop song often just works. But some other dances, and tango is one, where there needs to be a certain mood. The track needs to be dark, staccato and brooding. And this was about as staccato as a marshmellow. 

Mark and Iveta

Iveta looks like a fabulous doll, but she wouldn't have it any other way. Mark finally gets some more ballroom, but then they gave him the worst of the trots. I also found it hilarious the BBC must have spent so much money on that massive bed prop for it to be used for all of three seconds. It was alright, not as good as his waltz though, could Marks days be numbered?

Mark has musicality. He's not dancing to numbers; he's listening to the music. This is why, despite major Twitter uproar, I actually agree with the judges' decision to keep him over Ben. He has another week in him. Then it's anyone's game. 

Sophie and Brendan

Nothing like a Victorian-inspired nightie to get you in the mood for a rumba. Thankfully they actually had a decent music choice, which is something to appreciate on a night like this. I liked the pretty, fragile nature of it and the ballet lines. Also liked Sophie's random range of facial expressions from serenity to frantic grinning to shy to nervous laugh all in the space of 30 seconds!

Not sure about the frock. It looked as though someone tied her up like a favour at a goth wedding. I agree that the judges should have found fault - it wasn't perfect - but they narked at the wrong thing. Her body movement wasn't rumbary enough, and she was a tad of-the-wobble. But to say it's not raunchy enough? Well. Why judges do you comment on the mood of a rumba, yet be perfectly fine with an un-tangoey tango? Still hoping she can do another great dance. But what's left for her to perfect?

Ben and Kristina

This could have gone either way, we were expecting either a million lifts or a great routine. It ended up somewhere in the middle, there were a lot more steps in it than I was expecting, the only problem was that it showed up that he wasn't very good at them. Cute song choice though.

He did dance. But he looked oh so uncomfortable whilst doing so. It was the right decision for him to go but I'm sure we will all miss his arms him.

Abbey and Aljaz

Abbey putting in a great performance and working really hard, despite everyone being a bit knackered and grumpy this week. It says a lot that this wasn't the worst song choice and she also somehow managed to bag the nicest dress once again - only issue was the ponytail of doom smacking her in the face!. Aljaz might not be the liveliest jazz-handy of pros but he certainly knows how to put a great routine together. 

For my thoughts about Abbey's paso, please see my rant above about Natalie's tango. That. 

Patrick and Anya

This was a VW so there was a danger of them falling into the chasm of dullness yet again, and I think they were teetering on the edge of it. Hardly any waltz steps and the clumsy, clumsy ending just made this a odd dance. It seemed slightly inspired by the paaain and emoootion of contemporary dance, which has no place anywhere, let alone a VW.

I liked this. Though I do wish they wouldn't keep using the womenfolk to sweep the floor.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

It's Raining 10s!

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside, we're back in Blackpool the home of ballroom!

And to kick it off we're having the biggest of opening numbers ever, it's a low-budget scene from a Baz Luhrmann film and a I love it. Kids! Old people! Abbey in a giant pansy for no apparent reason and pretending to be happy about it! Tess seems to have gone for showgirl with her super-slashed dress, but I could have done with a bit more sparkle rather than an Angelina Jolie leg attempt.

Sophie and Brendan
Could they not be bothered with Sophie's dress? It's a nice colour, but it's hardly got any detail on it for a SCD dress. But of course the random pink eyeliner is back. And why are there random people in the background?! Sorry, I haven't talked about the dancing yet, but probably because they're really distracting! It was a great quickstep though, very well executed. Not knock-your-socks-off but a great start to the show.
I told you she was going to do a good quickstep, didn't I? Now how was I supposed to know she'd have the sequinned socks knocked off her by Abbey less than half an hour later? This was perky. But the standout thing about it was Brendan's choreography. Just lovely. I don't think we are going to see better than Sophie's charleston though. Curses she danced it so early.

Patrick and Anya
Anya wins the dresses, all the dresses. That is a proper SCD samba frock, my dreams of feathers have been answered. Actually, I typed that before her shoe got stuck, damn you feathers! Great recovery though, points to you Anya and to Patrick for not freaking out! This was a cracking samba, a fast and varied routine and Patrick has definitely broken through the dullness barrier. Easily the best samba of the series.
Is Anya the new Lilia? Marvellous frock, just marvellous. I agree with Frankie. Muchos kudos for not freaking out by heel catching in dress moment. How did the judges not comment on that? I absolutely loved this samba. Go Patrick. Woo. 

Ben and Kristina
I am here to watch Ben and Kristina dance, not Kristina and some random people that look like ballroom dancing ninjas. The ways to not have Ben do a lot of dancing are getting even more elaborate, which is a shame since he's getting better and can do ballroom! This routine made me grumpy, too fractured for me and yes, I know he can do lifts. Like Bruno said, he was good at the VW bit, but I could have done with more than 10 seconds of it.
Ben is just great. At standing there while Kristina dances. 

Ashley and Ola
A cowboy paso, just what this world has been crying out for. So flamenco, so Blackpool. This actually was pretty good, I'd even say it was Ashely's most technically accomplished dance, and was pure paso behind the fancy dress. The fancy dress was putting me off though, Ola gives great paso, there's no need for gimmicks! Or line dancing accomplices!
Since when does a Paso need any other theme than Paso theme? This dance comes with its own theme. Leave it be.

Fiona and Anton
The Tower Ballroom is about the size of Blackpool Airport actually... Yet more annoying people in the background, sod off and stop distracting me! Excuse the pun, but this never really got off the ground for me. Great frock, proper routine, Anton in a funny hat and all that, but lacking in pizzazz. Starting to think Fiona has lost her mojo...

Abbey and Aljaz
Absolute corker of a quickstep! This routine was brilliant, lovely outfits and such class by ignoring that they had to dance around a giant bucket. Fast footwork, great Charleston sequence and Abbey's face was a treat. I also love how she just can't resist singing along to the song at times, and I can't believe that song hasn't been used for a quickstep before, get in Aljaz! Craig gave Abbey a 7 but Ben an 8, yeah whatevs! Quite happy to see her get the 10s after that!
I never in a besquillion years imagined I'd be voting for Abbey Clancy for anything. Yet here we are, and I am seriously rooting for her to make the final. This was nippy. And it's not just because I was excited by a giant bucket and spade. But did you see? Enormous. And her feet were quick. And the song was happy. 

Mark and Iveta
Slightly disappointed Mark isn't in his Hairspray drag, but they both look delightful anyway. The odds were stacked against him this week, third latin in a row and with dodgy knees, but they pulled out all the stops and Iveta can choreograph anything. Captured the spirit of Hairspray and had loads of content, really want him to get through to next week to see if they can finally give him some ballroom. And it's his birthday, c'mon people!
I'm getting a little bored of it now. 

Susanna and Kevin
Ladies and gentlemen, witness the most paso-y-est paso that was ever paso-ed! This was insanely good fun, from the outfits to the circus music to the flamenco to the faces. You can tell Susanna really did spend the week watching Strictly Ballroom when she posted that DVD on Twitter. Kevin also has almost as much makeup on as Susanna, and that outfit is hilarious. Susanna isn't scared of anything, bring it on.  
SHOW ME YOUR PASO DOBLE! And boy, she did. Loved this. The reaction shows just what happens when you get a more traditional variation on a dance danced well. Through the roof. Now let's see a real salsa too. 

Natalie and Artem
They were always going to get the pimp slot! Where has Natalie's hair gone?! Really, where has it physically gone, I know it's a wig, but there's so much hair you can't just tuck it under. Wasn't quite sure what to make of this, there were flashes of genius and it was perfectly executed but it didn't wow me as much as I was expecting. Maybe it was the stop-start nature of the song? Saying that, Natalie's face was amazeballs, Artem was super-hot and I liked how they looked like a proper couple dancing.
If Enid Blyton were still alive, I'm pretty sure she'd be writing The Mystery of Natalie's Missing Hair. Right now. This was clearly good. But the song didn't connect with the dance for me. The band's arrangement of it, I didn't like. I love watching Natalie and Artem dance however, whatever they dance. What's next week...?