Sunday, 19 October 2014

Anton du Beke: Bad(ish) Boy of the Ballroom

....and we're back! Donny is gone and there's no themes, maybe we can just have a nice spangly week on Strictly? Even Tess and Claudia have brought out some nice dresses and Darcey is dressed like some sort of fabulous ghost of Miss Havisham.

Frankie and Kevin
It's a Call Me Maybe cha cha - my dreams her finally been realised! After all the dross we've suffered in song choices and then the perfect cha cha song choice comes along, and Frankie has the fringe-tastic dress to end all dresses - I hope she realises how lucky she is! It wasn't the pinnacle of cha cha-ing on Strictly, but it was fun and cute. The judges suddenly got a bit technical too - maybe they realised how embarrassing Donny was last week.

Mark and Karen
Pardon my French, but this had a serious case of the trots. He was trotting around that dancefloor like an over-excited little shetland pony. It was a tough, jam-packed routine from Karen that I think he was struggling to keep up a little bit. The Charleston section was promising though and that boy can eyes and teeth with the best of them too! He should stay in for a bit, he's working hard and his technique is starting to improve. Karen just rocked that amazing dress, by the way, on anyone else it would have looked like loo roll cover.

Judy and Anton
Illegal lift! Judy sliding on her bum and nearly mooning the camera! Anton just trolling us like he did with Widdy! This was completely bonkers but also her best dance so far, gotta love that natural stiffness being put to use. Despite all the weirdness, I feel like she deserves to stay in this week, some of the footwork was pretty decent. I also feel sorry for her because they didn't bother to make her a new dress and just stuck a frill on her launch show one.

Simon and Kristina
Well that was....interesting. It was cute, it was a Charleston, it was full of moves and swivel. IT HAD A PROPER GURNING FACE. But it was also themed to Pearly Kings and Queens -  why?! Kristina is wearing a random 99p wig, why? Fair play to them though, despite all the randomness they pulled off something pretty good - probably the best since his jive. This bodes well for a good cha cha.

Alison and Aljaz
That was a bit of anticlimax, wasn't it? A bit like last week's jive, there just wasn't enough going on - which is odd when you think how much oomph there was in her cha cha moves. There were also some really quite bad samba rolls. Amazing lampshade dress though and somehow I am also loving Aljaz's mustard ruffled shirt.

Scott and Joanne
Will Scott and Joanne be able to do a routine that isn't a comedy cringe-fest? Well they had a go at it at least! I would rather watch that than the stupid lobster routine. Although the problem might have been that his contribution the routine seemed to be entirely walk-then-grab. We did also have the delight of Total Eclipse of the Heart, which I love and Clover hates, so that kept us entertained!

Steve and Ola
Wasn't sure about the cocktail opening, it's a good idea to keep us away from the idea of dodgy suburban wine bars with the salsa. This was alright, but interchangeable with a lot of male salsas on the show - a bit awkward and not enough fluidity in the hips etc. Not his best by far, but he's so chipper and likeable I'm sure he'll get through another week.

Pixie and Trent
It's Jamie and Cersi Lannister all over again, cover your eyes children. A bit balletic, but not enough hips. What is it about ringers and not being able to do the rumba? Then again the judges followed the pattern of pick-a-dance-apart-then-give-it-8s, which takes us all the way back to the grand old tradition of Emma Bunton. Also, at the end I thought she was injured, but no, she was just milking it.

Tim and Natalie
Natalie looking absolutely gorgeous, steeling herself for the campest paso ever. And THEN unleashing some seriously fierce paso faces, I admit I was hardly looking at Tim. It was the John Sargent school of walking with a funny hat as far as I can tell. He's such a good egg though and really trying for Natalie, keep at it you two!

Sunetra and Brendan
Not her best, after the marvellous American Smooth last week, but there's something totally infectious about Sunetra when she's dancing, she's just so happy and in the zone! I can't really comment on the salsa-ness of it (maybe I was distracted by Brendan's trousers) I just hope they don't end up in middle-table danger.

Thom and Iveta
This was weird, there were so many things that were just a little off. The song, It also doesn't help that the foxtrot really isn't the most exciting of dances. I was expecting Thom to whip out some sort of Dick Van Dyke accent afterwards since he's going all method acting these days. Definite improvement to his ballroom technique, but nothing much to write home about. 

Jake and Janette
What will the most left-field of couples be bringing out this week? A totally bonkers jive, that's what! There was so much energy I thought Jake was going to swing Janette around by her ponytail at one point. It was kind of bitty, going from section to section, but I don't feel like I can complain about there being too much choreography these days.

Caroline and Pasha
The costume people really don't like Caroline, do they? Gorgeous pouffy skirt, horrible top. I am however totally enamoured of Pasha's Palma Violet pants. I do love this song, but I'm also ambivalent to it being a quickstep. But these two were very fleet of foot and super-cute - and Pasha manipulating the British public by playing with that teddy bear, that's Erin levels of evil genius!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

The One With Bruno's Thunder

There are no words. There are NO WORDS.

OK, there might be a few words, and here they are.

I am not sure whether to laugh or cry or scream or barf or run around the neighbourhood in a donkey costume screaming "BANANAS!". This week's's debacle could be described as The Worst Episode of Strictly Come Dancing Ever. It quite possibly is even worse than the (before this evening at least) current official holder of that title: Saturday 15th November 2009. If you happen not to recall, that was the night Laila had an injury, Jade had to pull out and there was Ronnie Corbett. Which says it all. And, as Frankie quite rightly pointed out on Twitter this evening, at least the bad points of that episode were not planned. Most of these were. And that's the scary thing. 

I was going to describe Donny Osmond as a waste of space, but that would be too kind. He was like an overbearing stage school brat under the influence of excessive amounts of caffeine. Flailing and leaping about? That's Bruno's thing. And don't get me started on giving the First Ten of the Series. That's also often Bruno's thing. Other than Donny, the attempt to squeeze each dance into a theme failed yet again. As I have said before, the theme becomes more important than the dance and that's to the detriment of everything. EVERYTHING. 

PS.  I don't own a donkey costume.

PPS. But if I did.

Alison and Alijaz

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but jive is definitely one of the most energetic dances on Strictly, and Alison really did struggle with it. Upstairs was all that jazz, and downstairs all labour and no reward. She was the dancing embodiment of an episode of Downton Abbey. Don't get me wrong, I really love this pairing and Alison does have a natural flair for dance, it's just this was, like having a large slab of cake as an entree, a bit too much, a bit too soon,

Steve and Ola

Despite the overbearing theming, this was actually a good dance. Well, it was for someone like Steve at this point in the competition. If he keeps showing this level of improvement week on week, he could well become one of those contestants we all love and save this series from . Think Chris Hollins, think Darren Gough. Ones to watch. 

Jennifer and Tristan 

I couldn't remember this dance and had to watch it on repeat on iPlayer. That's never a good sign. It wasn't stupid enough for the ignorant to vote for it in manner of Celebrity-Shaming à la I'm Celebrity Get Me Out of Here (I remember when Strictly had more class); it wasn't good enough for many to vote for it on merit. Jennifer isn't really connecting with the audience at home, yet I suspect Tristan is gaining in popularity, so that could help their cause. All in all, it was, unfortunately like many dances this week, alarmingly...forgettable.

Simon and Kristina

In the grand scheme of horrendous Monster Truck crash level rumbas on Strictly, this wasn't actually that bad. In fact, it was, compared to many dances on tonight's show, good. Yes, there could have been considerablyt more latin motion (that's feet, legs and hips to you and me) but it was well-performed and competently executed. It's hard to perform the rumba without descending into Carol Vorderman levels of Facecrime, and I think Simon's presentation was (thankfully) subtle and smooth. But again, like Jennifer, I'm not really feeling his personality - I'm assuming he does have one - coming through at all, and this could be to his detriment. He needs a breakthrough routine, and soon. 

Judy and Anton 

It was better than last week's cha cha - that goes without saying, as in ballroom, Anton can prop her up like a ladder - but poor Judy did seem as though she'd accidentally stumbled onto the set of Funny-Girl-Through-The-Looking-Glass and been whisked into the arms of a Mr Arnstien slash Gene Kelly slash The Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang type character. Anton going all Blair- Waldorf-schemy with an illegal, and tactical, lift may have saved their bacon. 

Tim and Natalie 

Natalie is amazing. She managed to distract all attention away from Tim. Whether that was intentional or not, I do not know, but her Karen-Hardy-slash-Camilla-Dallerup levels of facial expression coupled with the Sally Bowles hair assured - I imagine - very little attention was paid by most to Tim's abysmal footwork. I watched it again, and just watched him: no timing, and no technique. I wish I could say he committed to the performance, but he just looked uncomfortable. He's with a formidable teacher however - Michael Vaughan anyone? - so we may be seeing much better from Tim - and soon. 

Caroline and Pasha

Thank the Lord of the Dance for this routine. Classy, clean and gimmick free, it was a pleasure. Caroline, like Simon, could have straightened her legs more but in a night of otherwise excruciatingly embarrassing or painfully mediocre dances, this was a joy. 

Scott and Joanne

Just no.

Frankie and Kevin

The most over-swished skirt in the history of swishing. Besides that, I quite liked it. The movie theme wasn't too distracting from the essence of the dance. Frankie's a little bot-like, to steal Monkseal's term, and I'd like to see her come out of her shell, like Rachel Stevens came out in that rumba. It's definitely possible, but doesn't always happen. We never saw Holly Valance connect, despite being a magnificent dancer, but thankfully for Frankie, I don't think Kevin would allow that to happen: he's too full of beans for it not to be infectious. I just hope they realise that ten totes doesn't count.

Jake and Janette 

A moody, dark, waltz. Now if I remember correctly, Karen Hardy got her hand slapped for using this very piece music way before theme weeks came into play, but now, as then, it sort of worked and sort of didn't. I have no idea why Len chose this very moment to criticise a lack of traditional technique when so much else is allowed to slip by uncommented. In my opinion, the music was too stilted to allow for swing and sway. It would have jarred with the sombre music. So Len, if you do have your issues with it, take it up with whoever chooses the music, not the dancer and celeb who did a great job with an unorthodox tune.

Pixie and Trent

These two are squeaky. They are the halloumi cheese of the dance world. And Trent could win an award for channelling the spirit of an animated candlestick without being fully dressed up as one. This was perky and, in the best possible sense, corny. Disney could not have suited a couple more. 

Thom and Iveta

It was the first time I have seen a faint glimmer of engagement with the dance and audience. Welcome to Strictly, Thom. Has has a touch of 'The Gethins', and we all know how that can go.

Suntra and Brendan 

Oh, this was my favourite dance of the night. Sunetra lights up the floor, and you can tell she is living the whole experience. If movie theming were always like this, I would never have a problem with it. Brendan's choreography was just delightful. And Sunetra's 'Nine Face' was a joy to behold. 

Mark and Karen

This made me laugh out loud. From Karen writhing around the floor, to the oh-so-incongruous deadly serious Paso faces, to the dangling aerial work at the end. Surreal, and in some ways, a new low. This was bonkers played straight. The equivalent of wearing a dinosaur onsie to the dentist, Mark actually has the potential to dance well, so the fact he's been sent down the comedy route is somewhat insulting. The scores, including Donny's inconceivable nine, were completely out of proportion to the rest given over the course of the evening. But that's a whole. other. rant. 

Over and out. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Hips Don't Lie

It's that time of year again, the biggest, longest sparkliest of SCD of the year. Forget the final, this is the real marathon - lace up your spangly trainers and away we go.

Also, I seem to be the only non-grumpy person when it comes to the judges dancing on. It takes about 10 seconds and it's a laugh, they're all dancers after all! 

Thom and Iveta
Well Iveta is continuing her range of odd but fabulous costumes, thank goodness for that. The headband comes nowhere near to the epic-ness of Lilia's samba turban though (see Clover, I got that in ALREADY!). Really not feeling Tom's trousers though, although he did seem a lot more relaxed this week. There was a pretty good attempt at salsa fluidity there and Iveta hadn't skimped on the content. He also looked like he was trying so hard, there was a grim determination to that shimmy I had to laugh, but we all love a tryer on this show.
He has potential. That has not been realised yet. Anyone who's read this regularly knows I have a real problem with salsa on this show, and unfortunately this was no exception, although I appreciate that there's been a slight nod towards latin-type music for salsa this week - a whole world of better than Michael Jackson. I really feel Thom struggled with the tempo of this track however, and there's really no need, because there is no strict tempo to salsa. He could have been given something slower. And of course there's the whole BUT THIS WAS MARK AND KAREN'S EPIC DANCE-ness about this track. Thom is the archetypal J-word contestant. Am I ruling him out? I'm thinking not, not, not. (groan). 

Jennifer and Tristan
Well this was a lot better, they'd obviously worked hard on it and ballroom suits her more than being thrown in at the deep end with a jive. But yeah, gapping, top line and all that. I still haven't come around to Jennifer, but my word Tristan is a sweetheart, isn't he?
I really think Jennifer knew what she should be doing, but I never appreciate how flaming terrifying it must be to be out there on the floor actually having to do it. Point in fact: her top line was there at the beginning, but she lost it somewhere between a whisk and a wing. The gapping was a wee bit of o' problem too: you could have driven several large combine harvesters between them at times. And it was as ploddy as a PC in an Enid Blyton story. However, I got quite caught up in the pastel-pinkness of the whole affair and Tristan? He captured the heart of the whole of Twitter in one go. I'm a total sucker for an Irish accent. 

Simon and Kristina
It's a tango and Kristina has brought out the Bond Girl dress, watch out people! It was an odd song choice that amazingly worked for a modern tango, a lot more suitable than some of the awfulness we've been subjected to before. It was sharp and sexy and Simon totally committed to it with his serial killer face, even if it was directed at the ceiling (what is up there?!). Simon's really surprised me so far, I was expecting him to be a bit dull but he's thrown himself into it.
Whilst avant garde, I did like the arrangement of this Ed Sheeran track for a tango, most particularly the sultry intro. I like Simon. I like Kristina. Together, I think they are all kinds of spiffing. In my little humble and oh-so-unprofessional opinion, out of all the dances of the evening, this was the most under-marked. I can't wait to see what they come up with next. 

Gregg and Aliona
Well that was a dog's dinner wasn't it? Boom boom, I got a food-related pun in! Rehearsal footage looked good, but he just seemed to forget the whole thing when he got out there. Aliona dancing away in front of him totally oblivious was hilarious!
Oh It Takes Two, you tease, you. You had actually managed to convince me that this wasn't going to be that bad. But it oh-so-was. I don't know whether to feel sorry for Aliona or feel sorry for Gregg. Have we a touch of the Dom Littlewoods going on here? Have they got it in them to camp it up to be this year's comedy duo? Or will it be buh-bye tomorrow? I honestly can't tell at the moment. But edible props? If you're gonna have them, why not have them scrummy. 

Alison and Aljaz
Well they both look fabulous, the opening steps out of hold were super sass but then it all went to pot once they got into hold. I get the feeling we will see very little of Alison in hold as the series goes on. I really didn't know what to make of this, it seemed a bit odd and gunning for laughs a bit too much. She's got the skills to dance properly, so hopefully the rest of her ballroom will be a bit more traditional.
It's like they did not know which route to take. Play it all for laughs or try to be serious? Alison has a great sense for music and is a natural born dancer but she was always going to find ballroom trickier than latin. I don't think it's impossible for her, however. Plus, I spotted a neat little heel turn before the camera zoomed off into a crazy drug-induced spin. I really like this pair so they got a vote from me. Alison said she wants to stay in long enough to do a samba, salsa and a charleston, and she clearly knows herself well enough to suppose that they will be great dances for her. 

Jake and Janette
Bonkers awesome! Great song choice, proper content, camp as Christmas, huzzah! My new favourite couple, can't remember the last time someone surprised me like Jake has. It wasn't perfect, it's only week 2 people, but the skill and pizzazz there bodes well for some amazing dances during the rest of the series.
Nah. Jake has huge potential and I loved his tango. But this is not how you salsa. Play it back and watch his feet. There were no steps: it was all leans and arms. I have real big problems with leans and arms. And yes, he does have hips. Which again, yes, is great at this point in the competition - I am so impressed he's not holding back. This was as out-there as outing in Outer Mongolia. But perspective, people, come on. 
Perspective? Pffft!

Judy and Anton
Well this was horrendous. The opening was bad bad bad, Anton, shame on you. When they actually started doing a bit more cha cha content together it seemed a bit better, like she actually had something to do and Anton as support. Her facial expression really made me feel for her, rabbit in the headlights. At least she got a lovely frock out of it...
A delightful frock and she looked so lovely, but poor Judy, she is so out of her depth she is drowning in a sparkly sea of Swarovski. Like Victoria Pendleton before her, I'm not convinced she really grasped what she was letting herself in for. Despite being a super-sized McFlurry fan of the show, I know I would never do it. Not for a besquillion pounds. And contestants like Judy merely remind me of that sad fact. 

Caroline and Pasha
I quite like Caroline's Ibiza-tango dress on the quiet, the Ibiza music on the other hand...Another of my favourite couples, there was a really good tango hidden under those bangin' beatz. I can see why Caroline was worried about how hard it was, there was a lot of content in there from Pasha. Loved her staccato and I now really want to see her do a cracking paso. 
That fact that this was relatively decent despite that seven-car-pile-up-crash of a song is testament to Pasha. How did he manage that? This was the equivalent of someone dancing their wedding dance to Smack My Bitch Up by The Prodigy: just, inappropriate. Caroline danced it well, and I like the pair, despite the loose clump of hair pounding her head like a caveman's club. Like poor Abbey last year - has Caroline upset the hair and make-up team? She deserves better! 

Tim and Natalie
Natalie looks amazing and ethereal as always, Tim has once again come in his own clothes. And is there anyone out there that Natalie Lowe can't teach to waltz, she's great. He had issues with posture, but a vast improvement on last week's cha cha, this should hopefully keep him in for another week.
Solid improvement and a classy affair from Ms. Lowe, darling of t'internet. I'm sure they can camp it up should it be required, but there is never need in a waltz. He's not a winner but he certainly should not be leaving this week. 

Sunetra and Brendan
She seemed a lot more relaxed this week and was really enjoying herself, first night nerves hopefully out of the way now. This was a good solid cha cha, but nothing much to write home about. As Darcy said, her top half is great but she needs to work on the footwork.
Sunetra can shake her thang. And what a dress. But Brendan, I implore: work on those feet. She has an infectious style and was really getting into it, but her unruly toes - more Tinky Winky than twinkle - really let her down. In cha cha, the feet really ought to be in contact with the floor as much as possible, and legs should be straight on the break. Of course, getting caught up in the moment of it all is more than understandable, but if she wants to continue without becoming dangerous middle-ground fodder, she needs to improve. 

Mark and Karen
The sweater! What is the sweater about? It could go down in SCD costuming history. Karen on the other hand looks gorgeous. This was so sweet it gave me a toothache, bordering on twee with Mark's super-white smile. I really don't know what to make of this one, I don't think it taught me anything about Mark's ability to ballroom dance. It wasn't BAD, it was just...there.
So Mark turned up dressed as a member of One Direction. That's hardly the look for an American Smooth style dance. Nevertheless, I liked this. I spider-sensed big nerves, which I think caught even Mark off guard at times. His timing was on-off, but on the whole it was quite a charming routine. 

Joanne and Scott
The worst song choice in the history of tango, dance, music, everything. God this was bad, the footwork was all over the place and gosh, the trout pout. But saying that, he got through the routine and there was no gapping - it was better than the cha cha, but that's not a great starting point. I'm sure he'll be in for another few weeks, so lets hope he's allowed to do a nice staid waltz.
This was about as tango as a banana. Get a GRIP, BBC. I don't for one moment believe that a professional dancer has chosen this piece of music. It was nothing short of wrong. And it's not helping Scott either. It was better than his cha cha, despite the odds being quite out of his favour. I think they both deserve to stay in for pure pluck. 

Pixie and Trent
Pixie looking like a Targaryen about to get married, Trent looking like a member of the cast of Anchorman. But it was lovely, proper waltz lovely, as we would expect. She's obviously the ringer, but what the hell, I like watching good dancing.
Yeah, ringer schminger. In a night of, let's face it, epic levels of mediocrity, a really darned good waltz was totes in order. Thankfully, these two delivered like a postman on Pro Plus. Stunning dress: check. Good technique: check. Appropriate music: check. I really enjoyed it, and I'm slowly warming to these two. She could be this year's safety car. Toot toot. Beep beep. How long before someone overtakes? 

Steve and Ola
This dance was like a complete guilty pleasure, Ola's costume, the dad dancing, but I couldn't help but like it. The perfect cha cha song of Treasure might have had something to do with it. It was fun, it was throwaway, but it was a cha cha.
It wasn't the best of dances. It wasn't the worst of dances. He's trying hard but isn't in his natural environment at all. I was kind of hoping Ola would have whipped him into a better cha cha routine than this, but such is Strictly. What I like about Steve is his determination and his smile whilst giving it his very best shot. 

Frankie and Kevin
This was odd. Rock and roll plus charleston - even the judges said it was weird. It was high-energy and content-packed though. A bit more swivel would have been nice, and dare I say it, I miss a bit of Charleston gurning!
Looking forward to their tango-themed foxtrot, their samba-themed waltz and their quickstep-themed cha cha cha. Seriously, a dance such as charleston is dependent on its own theme. Because there are no truly fixed steps in the same way there are in the ten dances of ballroom and latin, if the theme is cast aside, it's no longer quite a charleston. Not that this was at all danced badly. It wasn't as quirky-cute as Sophie's cooler-than-thou-hipster-charleston from last year - it just didn't have the same level of personality. But it was as sweet and frothy as a strawberry milkshake. 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

A Game of Glitterballs

So the battle for the Glitterball has begun. Yet, if you think that a series of Strictly is a linear build up of momentum to the climatic bloodbath of the final, you're wrong. One series of Strictly can have as many plot twists and turns, as many storylines as George RR Martin could imagine. The Battle of the Ringers commences when the pop starlets strut their stuff - practically perfect, first week. A little dull, perhaps, but where would we be without it? The Battle of the Bonkers usually follows in a week two. Once the pairing pro realises their celeb partner has more chance of running of with Prince Harry to live in a windmill and breeding llamas than lifting the Glitterball, Project Exposure begins. Stay in as long as you can. To do that, be as bad as you can. And cover yourself in tinfoil.

But on to this weekend's treats. The first week's episodes are a showcase. Flaunt your wares. Pick your battle. Let the games begin. Etc.

Scott did the 'HO!' in the opening titles, I got really quite over-excited! And Tess is wearing a massive jumpsuit, what's that all about?!
Caroline and Pasha - Caroline falls just on the right side of DIRTY RINGUH (We Northern. We have our own vowels.) And this dance was just on the right side of unperfect for the first show. There's room for improvement. Much. But actually it was still quite good. She is also quite relatable, and Pasha is...well, lovely Pasha. Loved the Midas-touched mega-fringe. Definitely ones to watch.
She's first out the stalls so that gets her Winning Formula points. I'm also digging the uber-fringe very much, it's hard to pull that off without looking like a lampshade but she managed it. Great cha cha routine and song too so we're off to a cracking start! And Len actually started the series with a good analogy - champagne indeed. There were mistakes, but I was watching her instead of Pasha (yes, some people manage that!). 

Mr Bargain Hunt and Natalie - Natalie is a fine teacher, and managed to get a relatively OK dance from this year's grandpa-fodder. They are never going to win. Their chance of longevity may rely solely on commencing the Battle of Bonkers. Yet I suspect Natalie could be too classy for that route, if she has a choice. And, if so, kudos to her for that. Not that the routine was without fun. There was just the right amount of gimmick to be within the realms of acceptable.
Natalie feigning excitement about being on Bargain Hunt, I love that woman! She did look like she was escorting him around the dancefloor a fair few times, but it was a proper routine and not too gimmicky at all after the start. He's also already better than David Dickinson because he's not randomly gurned at the camera in the middle of a routine. Bring on the ballroom.  

Jake and Janette - I love the unexpected. And this was just that. I do believe I may have read that Jake is an unlikely Sylvia Young DIRTY RINGUH, (is that true?) but as I didn't know his background when I watched him dance, I'm going to relay my initial surprise. This was kind of Lisa Riley. And Janette: welcome at last to Strictly Come Dancing. Great choreography - even the faffing at the beginning was relevant and captivating. And he was leading. Actually leading. A jolly good tango, mes amies.
Jake Wood has a really good top line! I never thought I'd write that. Dark horse clip-clopping all over the place there. Great routine from Janette too, there was a lot of footwork in there for a week one dance. I wonder how he'll cope with the more camp dances, but it looks like he has the raw skills and they're a great team. 

Judy and Anton - We haven't seen this level of discomfort since Victoria Pendleton flew into Wembley Arena on a pushbike. Poor Judy - she's so far out of her comfort zone, she's like a Made in Chelsea cast member lost in the toilets at McDonalds. However, I do get the impression from watching that she actually has the potential to do much better. If she wants to get the most out of this, then she needs to let go and enjoy it. Also: HUMAN PROP ALERT! Why not wheel out a bagpiper? Perhaps next week a runner will dash on dressed as a haggis. But Anton. Oh Anton. I never thought there would be anything more disturbing than Anton in slashed-to-the-naval lycra. But Anton in a kilt? MY EYES. MY EYES.
I was halfway through the routine when I read Clover's human prop comment and collapsed in giggles. She is obviously super-duper pee-your-pants nervous and needs a good lesson in eyes and teeth. And why is it that when someone on SCD is nervous do they stare at the ceiling, what's up there? Leftover dancers? I can't see the cha cha going particularly well next week, who knows what Anton is going to bring to that dance...  

Scott and Joanne - Two words. Dear and Oh. Not that order. Whilst Scott is clearly not a natural at this, my issues were more with the choreography. Air punches reek of desperation. More time spent perfecting the basics and less time with gimmickry could have gone a long way. He is, however, now ripe for the Battle of the Bonkers. Will they roll with that and be this year's Christopher Parker/John Sergeant/Anne Widdecombe/Dave Myers? (delete as desired.)
You have no idea how much I want to delete Ann Widdecombe...This was all over the shop and there were about five million air punches. I would be interested to see if Scott goes on ITT and says "yeah, I forgot half the routine" - it seemed like Joanne was just dancing around him a lot. 

Pixie and Trent - DING DONG DIRTY RINGUH. Now, of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing. One's ringer status can easily be overcome if one is likeable. Compare and contrast Denise V.O. and Natalie G. It will be interesting to see how Pixie fares on this matter over the course of the next few weeks. Of course this was great. Of course it was. It was effervescent. Like a champagne supernova in the wires and cameras hanging over the stage. Trent really is full of beans though, isn't he? Kind of reminded me of a cross between a Duracell bunny and Vampire Ken in this dance. But we had better get used to these guys. Whether they turn out to be popular or otherwise, they are with us for the long haul.
These two are the Lannisters of this year's SCD, with all the power and the blonde locks. The jive is blummin' hard to do for your first dance and there was a little stumble, immediately replaced by Pixie high-kicking right over her head. Trent is our new over-excited puppy though and that should be great fun for zingy choreography like that. 

The Wrong Mark and Karen - sorry guys, your name here is purely unfortunate but there will only ever be one Mark and Karen. But this dance was brimming with pep, like a cheerleader on Red Bull. Couple that with endearing vulnerability on interview? He's either genuinely delightful or he's an evil genius playing a very clever game. Perhaps they will end up being the Wright Mark and Karen. OH MY LORDY, GROAN. And speaking of, this had to be the most tenuous song link to name ever. Are they going to play on this all series? What's next? Wright Said Fred? The Wrighteous Brothers? 
Are the BBC not going to mention Towie at all, is it a copyright thing? It's going to be hilarious. And is Mark going to be dressed as a different member of the Village People every week? Can't wait for his Native American paso. I quite liked this, it was rather jaunty. He really does have potential and so, so much sparkle.  

Ali and Ali - I just loved this. It was brimming with vim and vigour and verve. I hope Alison can refine her unquestioned natural ability because I would love to see these guys go far. I think they might be my early favourites. 
I haven't seen two people look so ridiculously happy on a dancefloor since Chris and Ola's legendary Charleston where they could've just ended up rolling around on the floor giggling for three minutes. There was so much right with this dance; the choreography, the song choice, the musicality. They're also such a strong partnership, hopefully there will be plenty of time for them to work on everything.

Steve and Ola - Ola has an excellent track record of teaching non-dancers to dance - at least competently. She holds the record for getting the Glitterball with the least obvious contestant in Strictly's history, so Steve's certainly in good hands. That's if he can overcome the Austin Healey Arm Problem. Perhaps he could try taping them straight with the duct tape from Ola's costume. 
No-one, but no-one, should do the tango in just a vest, even if they do have rather nice arms. Thought this was going to be horrendous at the start, but it ended up being halfway decent. I can see him doing a paso, obviously, but a quickstep? Or a samba? The mascara in his beard was also amusing.
  Jennifer and Michael Flatley's Biggest Fan - What was the dancing on the table? That is the strangest themed mime since Gary Rhodes frying invisible foodstuffs on Karen Hardy's back. They both seem jolly lovely, but I know little of either, what with Tristan being new, and my never having been able to sit through more than 15 seconds of Mrs Brown's Boys. He pushed her a little too hard, methinks, and it didn't work. But to be fair, jive is a toughie for week one, especially compared to cha cha and waltz. It was an excellent song choice, and could have been epic. But really only if someone else had been dancing to it.
Look, I am still bemused by Jennifer, but you don't go and make her do a jive in week one! It also doesn't help when you've got Tristian bouncing around like a jack-rabbit on speed next to her. Saying that, she got through the routine pretty successfully and remembered all her steps. Hopefully she can have a nice ballroom next week.  

Thom and Iveta - Thom has Darren Gough Hand Problems. And Craig doesn't like his thumbs, which is a very specific dislike. It's like going up to someone and saying: "That right nostril of yours, just no." I think there was a lot of expectation weighing on Thom which almost inevitably was going to lead to disappointment. He looked a tad rabbit-in-headlights, and a little baffled by the whole spectacle. Or, if the rumours prove to be true, he's just drunk on lurve and can't concentrate. Anyhum, there is plenty of potential here and if we don't get to see it in the next few weeks, I'll be very much surprised. And rather disappointed. 
These two just look gorgeous together, Iveta particularly lucked out in the dress department this week. I can forgive her for using You Raise Me Up, the most vom-tastic song in the world, but it was a bit hesitant from Thom. Give him time and a few weeks under the Iveta school of bonkers-yet-brilliant ballroom dancing and I'm sure he'll come through.

Sunetra and Brendan -  Excuse me while I get this out my system. PIIIVOT. There. Oh but the horrendous theming  Brendan looked most reluctant in his bizarre beating of the clipboard on the bed move. Kudos for getting that shiz over and done with in four bars. Gowns off and everything. Sunetra is the classic middle-of-the-road contestant, which is a simultaneously dangerous and exciting place to be. If she doesn't improve enough, she could be out before her time. But if she gets better each week, she could quite possibly start to nibble at the ringers' heels. (Ew.)
Oh I'm sure scrubs and hospital beds were the dancers' idea...And what about Sunetra? Maybe a bit of a dark horse in there. Although not on the same scale as Jake Wood, maybe a dark pony. Brendan will fight for his partner all the way, so lets hope she's now over her week one nerves and bring it next week.

Gregg and Aliona - This was so horrific it doesn't deserve the accolade Dad Dancing - it's more the Drunk Uncle Stomp. Aliona in pure form, keeping her distance, leaving him flailing about on his own. If they embrace the bonkers, then they might have a few weeks in them, but Aliona doesn't look as though she cares enough. It's a shame, because he looks as though he's enjoying it. Though maybe not as much as he enjoys a sticky toffee pud.
Aliona's dress is a lovely prom-dress confection, the 'lycra dressing' Tess suggested sounded horrible. And as we all know, I just love a dance that involves sitting down for prolonged periods of time. At least he seems to be putting more effort into it than Tony Jacklin (not very hard) and like Clover says he does seem to be enjoying himself. Maybe comedy, but he's got Scott and Tim to compete with for that.

The Wrong Frankie and Kevin Clifton aka Kevin from Grimsby aka THE KING OF THE NORTH - Frankie is DIRTY RINGUH 2. As I said about Pixie, her chance of winning is dependent on whether she can capture the audience with her personality. Regardless of that, she too is with us for the duration because that waltz was just lovely, especially given the slightly uncomfortable arrangement of the song. I very much liked the green dress. 
One of the other Saturdays seems to have come in Pat Butcher's dressing gown. Arm-wafting, plus prop, plus extended intro was not my favourite start to things. But then off they went doing some proper waltzing and it was all rather lovely. Even with Kevin's odd mustard-coloured shirt.

Simon and Kristina - the first pimp slot of the series: the producers must have high hopes for Mr Webbe. First of all, it's a relief and a novelty to see Kristina with a more height appropriate partner. These two look fantastic together and this routine was fun and funky and a pleasure to watch. Is he a DIRTY RINGUH? Not that I can gather. He must have had at least rudimentary dance coaching in Blue, but I haven't yet found any evidence of a lifetime of tap dancing or similar. He's undoubtedly a natural though and I am looking forward to seeing him progress.
Crikey, you forget how good Kristina is at the jive! I quite liked this, it wasn't the best jive ever but it had an attitude and musicality that I wasn't expecting from Simon. He's the latest in a number of surprises we weren't expecting this week...

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Winning Formula - Version 6.0

It's time for my annual stab-in-the-dark-plus-science, as I try to work out through the loosest of methodologies who is going to win SCD this year. Can you believe this is the 6th version of this?! It's also amazing how many of the variables still stand up....well, kinda...

Also, I considered adding a new variable this year, which was going to be 'dance with a new pro'. But that has only actually happened three times: Jill and Darren, Kara and Artem and Abbey and Aljaz. Sorry Brendan, but series one doesn't count cos you were all new!

So roll up your sleeves, get your fake geek glasses on and let's do some science!

1) Get the party started
Ah, the old favourite, if you dance first in the opening episodes you seem to be more likely to get to the final. Who knows why, maybe the BBC just doesn't want someone embarrassing to kick things off and sends out the popstars. And speaking of embarrassing, it didn't work out that way last year, with Ben and Ashley kicking things off - and to think I was expecting Ashley to get to the final. Mark my words, Pixie, Frankie or Thom is being flung out on that dancefloor first this year....

2) Quit your day job
Speaking of Ashley, maybe he would have made it to the final if he wasn't involved in some sort of performing arts sweatshop doing Hollyoaks AND Strictly last year. And there's a tiny chance you might have noticed he had a baby on the way, someone might have mentioned it. Also, it looked like Susanna was going to prove that BBC newsreader anomaly all over again, but she peaked too soon. Looking around, Frankie and/or Pixie look like the one most likely to suffer from this, aren't they both doing tour work? Not a good idea ladies! Could Scott Mills clinch it with the BBC connection? What about Jake Wood? Is Max Branning going to mysteriously vanish from our screens for a few weeks? DID HE MURDER LUCY BEALE?

3) Blondes don't have more fun
When Abbey won last year I was very happy, apart from the fact that she's ruined one of the delightfully random variables - she's the first blonde ever to win SCD! It only took 11 series! (I'm not listening to any of you snarky people saying she's not a natural blonde, who is anyway?). So whilst this factor is not 100% rock steady, a 9% success rate for blondes is hardly something to shout about. Watch out Pixie and Jennifer - you're the only two blondes this year! Caroline, you're half blonde, it's your thing, but it confuses me. Jake Wood - do it for the gingers!

4) Latin fever
It's still all about those latin pros, our ballroom specialists just always seem to be the bridesmaid and never the bride (or mysteriously disappear never to be seen again, but Erin's retired from all that now - or has she...?). Aljaz winning last year is also another win for the 10 Dance specialists, could the tide slowly be turning away from those latin experts? I'm still gutted poor Natalie isn't getting a sexy young thing to bring back the ballroom dances with this year!

5) Age is more than a number
Once again, a shiny young thing in their 20s won the show last year, no one over 40 is ever going to win SCD, so it seems. Susanna Reid, you followed in the same vein as Jason Donovan and Pamela Stephenson and oh-so-nearly broke the mould for the slightly-older contestant. Now, Tim, Gregg, Scott, Steve, Jennifer, Judy and Sunetra you've got a big job on your hands. Alison, on the other hand, isn't 40 until February next year, just sneaking in there!

6) Embrace the sparkle!
That's right, every year we have to stress that you just have to LIVE the whole Strictly experience. Alison is taking the right approach, as I write this she's probably rolling around in a pile of glitter and that's the way it should be. Thom Evans also seems rather keen on those spangly shirts and he's partnered with the most spangle-tastic of pros, Iveta. Embracing the sparkle isn't just literal though, it's a way of life, a state of being, and level of conscious that requires true devotion the spray tanning, shimmering and shimmying that makes up our lives until Christmas - buckle up pros, it's going to be a crazy ride!

Here we are then, it's time for me to roll out that winning formula equation...

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

This year to add yet more excitement to the proceedings, I'm going to update this post after the opening weekend to make that early prediction, using the formula, of who is going to win. Current favourites stand as...



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!