Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Showdances...the final countdown!

The anticipation is killing us as we wait for the SCD final this Saturday, but for me the moment we will be waiting for all night is when it's showdance time. I love the sense of the unpredictable, what will they have come up with to try and knock our spangled socks off? So, if any of the contestants are reading this (pfft, yeah right!), here is the definitive guide to snatching that glitterball trophy in the last moments...

Whilst revisiting my Winning Formula post I realised there are four key points to a winning showdance:

1 - Play to your partner's strengths

2 - Choose a good song

3 - Get a good outfit

4 - Don't use puppets

I think every couple that have won have touched on all the points, from Brendan's very clever Dirty Dancing number in Series 1 to Camila giving us the Broadway showstopper last year.

Playing to your partner's strengths is key, as Camila saw that Tom loved a bit of showmanship and Matthew played on Alesha's inner diva to great effect. Karen knew that that salsa was the best dance for Ramps, so she gave him a salsa with some amazing crowd-pleasing lifts.

With songs, don't try and be clever, just get something well-known, camp and spangly. It's what the audience wants and will feel distinctly underwhelmed without. Also if you can somehow connect it to dancing, such as Dirty Dancing, Fame, Flashdance or I Wanna Dance With Somebody - this is Strictly, our cheese tolerance is rather high!

Turning to outfits, for god's sake this is your last chance to spangle so spangle as if your life depends on it! OK so spangles couldn't even save Christopher Parker but Hanna really got into the whole thing. Karen and Lilia have also provided the extra spangle we all require and Lisa Snowdown went for the glittery swimming costume. However, one showdance outfit that disappointed me was Matt DiAngelo's; I understand men don't want to sparkle too much but he appeared to be wearing a Primark vest with a bit of glitter!

As an aside, has anyone else noticed that the showdances we get in the final bear no resemblance to the ones the world champions always come on and do? Maybe because it's more like gymnastics rather than dancing and is kinda boring for the audience. Brendan and Lisa had a fairly good stab at it but they wouldn't have stood a chance against Tom and Camila.
Also, a showdance does not have to win to still be great. Take the Cinderella of the showdance Mr Ian Waite...He's come third and second but did two really underrated showdances! With Zoe he picked a genius West Side Story theme and got so excited he fell over! Turning to Denise, he chose a great song and she even managed to overcome wearing a very unfortunate hat to give a memorable performance.

However, there are the odd showdances that were a little...dare I say it?....dull. I am looking at Rachel and Vincent and Matt and Lilia here. Although in Lilia's case Matt wasn't so good at latin and if that's the case you're kinda stumped with a showdance. I often ponder how Anton would tackle it, probably not with puppets...he's not as stupid as he looks....
And speaking of puppets, we draw this to an end with the classic moment brought to us by the one and only Miss Whiplash. Let us go back and remember that build up, the excitement, Zoe and Ian had just brought the house down, we wait to see what fantabulous display Colin and Erin will give us...and then they come out with PUPPETS! I distinctly remember watching this at home and thinking "is this as toe-curlingly awful as I think it is?" and then when they went over to the stony-faced judges and we had a full-on tumbleweed moment and I burst out laughing! Ah, thanks for the memories you guys!

So here we are at the end of Series Sev-ern and what will the showdances bring us? My thought is Ola will go for the musicality and fun and frolicks style showdance whereas Natalie will probably go for fancy footwork and gymnastics. But as we know, it's all to play for...

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Argy Bargy

Here we are at the semi-finals, it's almost over - but before that there is the most daunting of hurdles, the Argentine Tango. It also means I cannot think of a more creative title for this blog post! There's hardly anyone on the show now, look at that empty photo at the top of the blog, that used to be crammed with people!

Chris and Ola - Rumba

I was very, very worried about the choice of a rumba (Erin Boag lurking near the puppets worried) but after the first five seconds of the intro that melted away pretty quickly. Beautiful story-telling by Ola with the choreography. Gotta love Len, entertainment, hard work and determination all the way. Alesha's choice of the word sincerity was very apt too. As they all said, not the most technically amazing but so very endearing.

Ali and Brian - Argentine Tango

Loving Ali's frock and Amy Winehouse hair. Not too sure about her snarling face all the way through though, there's passionate aggression and then there's gritting your teeth. Not quite as staccato as I would have liked but there was some very difficult footwork going on. Anyone who does the AT has to try and match up to Karen and Ramps for me, which is a tall order.

Ricky and Natalie - Waltz

Ricky and Natalie actually look like they're getting married and then song choice didn't help with that either! This was never going to be anything other than a beautiful waltz, although it seemed a bit too fast for me at times. Really liked the ski-splits move from Natalie. Knew the judges were going to rave about it although it was a bit harsh not to let Len comment on it considering he's the ballroom expert! A little voice in the back of my head said "50?" but thankfully that madness has not been unleashed just yet.

Chris and Ola - Argentine Tango
Here we go with the over-extended VTs...half an hour later we get see them come out- Ola looks fabulous. Thought the choreography in this was a-mazing, there were two parts where I gasped at the the surprise twists. Unlike the judges I didn't spend the whole time looking at his face, which I actually thought wasn't too bad. Good to see Len is on the side of Team Cola!

Brian and Ali - American Smooth

Oooh some sort of mollusc seems to have attached itself to Ali's head, is that her coming out of her shell? *boom boom!* Loved her getting her sass on at the beginning and she actually did very well outside of hold. The whole thing was really polished and fabulous, good work Mr Fortuna. Plus the kiss was absolutely darling! Once Craig got his 10 out I just knew it, the highest score ever is upon us!

Ricky and Natalie - Argentine Tango

No two ways about it, this was bloody good. The footwork was stunning and the whole thing was the proper package. Not too sure about Len's justice comment, thought that might be asking for a sticky moment later on. Loved Alesha and Bruno giving it to Craig too, what a comedy pair they've been all series!

Darcey and Ian

I just can't warm to Darcey, I have no idea why she is on the show and what she is trying to bring to it. She seems like a lovely woman, but this dance seemed equally pointless. Glad to see Ian enjoyed it though! And it really wasn't a jive, get Jill back!

During the break between shows we had a rather dramatic moment involving lots of phonecalls from Radio 5. It was all very exciting and made us feel like proper celebs. Feel free to listen again online!

Results show

Beautiful foxtrot from Ian and Natalie, that really calmed us all down amongst the chaos of all this. Also, Ian makes Natalie look surprisingly small!

And here come the crazy showdancers Craig and Natalie, will Natalie's feet actually touch the floor for more than three seconds? I guess not. To me this just isn't dancing in the way that we have it on the show, it's gymnastics. Plus it's very rare anyone ever tries to a showdance that bears any sort of resemblance to this on the show!

Omg, what is this about the Lindyhop in the final?! Did I miss something? And surely that is totally biased towards Chris? Thank God for the cast of Hairspray, when Phil Jupitus in a pink frock seems sane you know you've had a crazy night! Darren and Lilia looked like they were having the time of their lives and it was hilarious to see Vincent in full on jazz-hands mode. The random appearance of Austin also made it all the more surreal.

Next up in our random evening of delights we have Lilly Allen, singing a song that to me is much too rude for the BBC! But she looks great and glad to see her jigging about a bit. And along come Aliona and Matthew, with Matthew looking more and more like he's escaped from Miami Vice.

Dance off

There was tension. Especially as I was watching this whilst I was talking to John Pienaar live on Radio 5 at the time with the sound off (I resisted trying to start a conversation about Lord Mandelson and his love of the show). The look of shock on Ricky's face as he went through was touching, but not as much as watching Ali's face crumple at the end. It was like kicking a puppy!The true joy for me was Chris' impy little face beaming with pride at the end.

Well that's it. The final is upon us, with showdances and tears and glitter and tens and everything.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Rant about Ant (on)

Oh dear bejesus, what has happened to the du Beke? He's always been the charmer, non? The gentleman, non? The quintessentially English, slightly eccentric dapper-type chappie, non? Oui, to a point - but this series he seems to have got a little bit too big for those suede-soled cuban heels of his. Now, I hate to say I told you so (note: I love to say I told you so) but I did mention a problem with Anton on the blog last year. It was in response to the rallied cries of 'Anton should get a good partner next year!' and similar. I did point out (I did, I did, I did!) that it would be pointless, nay futile (might not have been the exact words but it's kind of the gist...) for Anton to have a good partner because, to be frank, he's not that good himself. Yes, I know he's known as the 'King of Ballroom' but in the grand scheme of things, he's not even that; as far as I'm aware, he never won any major international titles (correct me if I'm wrong) and his latin, well, it's worse than most of the celebrities' attempts. Case in point - Satuday's salsa. Quite possibly the worst salsa I've ever seen. And I have seen a lot of bad salsas, believe me. It's not even because Laila forgot her steps; I don't even care about that. If she had had a decent partner who could dance latin and teach latin and support her through a routine, like the delightful Brian does for Ali, Laila could have made the final. But his attitude rubbed off on her. From the 'Oh-I-Don't-Like-Latin' at the beginning, to the ridiculous attempts at rectifying the situation towards the end. I truly believe that she was made to feel that the latin side of things isn't important and is somehow inferior; and although they delighted us with some nice ballroom, that's exactly what it was: 'nice' - nothing a-maz-ing. Nothing I think I'll remember. He also, at one point, after being criticised for his choreography, said that Laila could have done nothing more so he didn't understand the low mark - didn't even register in his head that it was his fault, not hers. So after much discussion about this at work today in the staffroom, Clare-from-Work and I have come to the conclusion that Anton du Beke is not a good teacher. So next year, stick him back with the old dear. It suits him.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The du Beke salsa of doom....

It's quarter finals time, there's four people- how appropriate! There's so few contestants to come down the stairs this week that they've had to throw a pro dance in at the start, well done Mr Ian Waite for saving the show...

Ali and Brian - Tango
The use of terribly inappropriate music has got to be the thing that has upset me the most this series, and considering the amount of upsets we've had that is quite a big deal! It's not that I want totally traditional music (Black to Black was a great choice) but I simply cannot imagine sexual tension in a dance that reminds me of my dad playing the guitar! Whilst squinting through the music, I could recognise that this was pretty good and the staccato was nice and sharp. Ali's 'omg, i'm about to fall over' face halfway through was amusing too. Darcey is already freaking me out.
FFS, this is Strictly not Guitar Hero. What is with the misguided rockcheese for tangos this year? Me no likey. Like Frankie, I'm not an uber-traditionalist - I thought Darren's choice of Maneater was inspired - but this series has not. been. good. All in all, this was a good dance. Not marvellous but certainly one of the few that's just about worthy of a quarter final.


Laila and Anton - American Smooth

Great frock, looks like something I would buy in Karen Millen in a fit of 'I'll need this when I'm on Strictly' delusion. I was looking forward to an American Smooth from Anton too and he did make a great song choice and chose some sensible lifts. However, Laila looked a bit....confused? Craig did really lay into her, but I do agree it was a tad disappointing for the quarter finals. And how would Darcey know if this was supposed to be 'Laila's dance' when she's never been there before?
Pffft, I thought this was actually quite delightful. I think I was just watching the lovely dress (oh it was lovely) - the whole thing oozed class. Well, I thought it did until I realised you couldn't only drive a bus, but mayhaps The Titanic between Laila and Anton. Those following me on Twitter at the time will have been subjected to the following tweet: GAPPING! GAPPING! GAPPING! For that, I can only apologise. Sorry for blasting your virtual ears off.


Chris and Ola - Waltz

Here comes Team Cola, with Ola in a very nice princess dress there- I wish Craig could have got the chance to rave about the stoning on ITT. Very beautiful song choice and classy choreography. Now what can we do about Chris' constipated face? Someone send him some prunes!
Face Schmace. He's so much better to watch than all the others put together. He works hard and he improves. As good as Ricky is and as lovely a dancer Ali appears, there hasn't been much improvement for a while. And that makes for boring.
Ricky and Natalie - Foxtrot

Anyone else think that dress was originally intended for Kristina? Frontless, backless, metallic- all her style. I have also been told I need to put in my pun about Natalie's golden globes, so there we are. Great foxtrot, very classy and held my attention throughout. Whatever drama we're going through this week (it was man-flu this time, swine flu next week?) this boy can sure do his ballroom. I could smell tens, my Strictly-sense was tingling.
Meh.



As we go into the latin, is anyone else rather amused by the lengthy intros by the judges? You'd think they were on Newsnight discussing the Copenhagen summit or something!
What? Frankie, get a life... ;-)


Ali and Brian - Samba

Forget best salsa dance of the series, best salsa dress of the series! That is what I like to see, you've gotta have a tailfeather or it's a wasted opportunity. D-U-double-L song choice though, although I simply cannot udnerstand what anyone sees in Daniel Merriweather anyway. Nice choreography for sure, good bit of shimmying too. A nine from Craig was unexpected!
Lovely feathery bumbustle. Boring song. OK samba. Wasn't baaaad; didn't blow me away. A party song a la I Go To Rio, Aquerela do Brasil, something corny and summery - that could have made all la difference.

Laila and Anton - Salsa

So here we are, the day we have been dreading for weeks. The du Beke rug is barely enlcosed in that pink satin shirt, here we go! Well the first ten seconds or so were good, once you got over the fact Laila was wearing a dress styled by Barbra Cartland. But then of course, it all unravelled and they looked like some people in a dodgy surburban wine bar on a Tuesday night. I was watching the armwork from behind a cushion.
Oh-Sweet-Jesus-Mary-Joseph-Seven-Sheep-A-Parcel-Of-Myrrh-And-A-Camel, this was a joooooke of a salsa. I actually liked her dress though. Do I have bad taste?

Chris and Ola - Samba

If someone from Strictly Come Dancing ever had a double life as a superhero they would be wearing Ola's outfit - Saaaamba Woomaaaan! Chris' face was actually hilarious this time and I just love Ola's big beaming smile as well. When I watch little Chris talking about football at 6am on Monday morning I am going to smile to myself at the memory of him shakin his thang in a open turquoise shirt and flinging Ola around by her ankle. I really hope that woman he gyrated at in the audience was his girlfriend!
Where there's fun, there's Always (Coca-) Cola. Sorry - couldn't resist. I enjoyed this more than every other dance on the night. No, technically not the best, but it had the most spirit. Whether that spirit was too-many-vodkas-at-yer-auntie's-wedding is not for me to say, but it's better than nothing, non?

Ricky and Natalie

Wasn't too sure what to make of this one and was a bit distracted by Natalie flashing her knickers at us. I think what I didn't like was that they were trying to be cool, whereas to me a cha cha needs to be as camp as Christmas.
Like the song, though not necessarily for a cha cha cha. I was distinctly unmoved. He is so smug. He's smugger than the smuggler of Smugton, Andrew Castle. You may no longer be a pigeon, Ricky, but keep on like that and you'll turn into a crow.



Results show

Wasn't too sure about the shows being split again, but who cares when we've got a jaw-dropping Argentine Tango from Flavia and Vincent to keep us going, treat of the series as ever. I am suspicious they have bionic feet they move so fast, or maybe it's done with magnets. The group American Smooth was also very much appreciated.
Top marks for pro dances this eve.


Good to see a bit of Bette, really glad we didn't see any more of Bruce! She is fabulous though, none of the other guest stars would stay and have a chat and do a bit of a turn like that. What a pro.

Dance off

Ricky Whittle in the bottom two again shocker, I'm having Emma Bunton flashbacks here. I think we all agree it was just Laila's time to go, just like with Natalie last week. It does play out like that in the final couple of weeks. Thankfully she did dance a lot better in the dance off so she didn't humiliate herself. And that, as they say, is that. Roll on next week!
Now how to engineer a Chris and Ali final? The judges won't let Ricky go, will they? Not unless we execute a cunning plan to foil his attempt....Wait! Natalie's a ballroom pro, isn't she?? (have you read our blog before, sorry if you haven't, it's a running joke...) Erin will surely be on the case! Go Superspy Boag! This year, we salute you...

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Having a bit of flapper...

Well as only five couple came down the stairs I felt a bit sad, there hardly seems to be anyone left! Speaking of missing people, we have no Clover this week; she's so traumatised about not being able to dance she cannot bring herself to even write about it.

Chris and Ola
The training footage had us in stitches all week and this was my most-awaited dance of the series so far. Thank god it didn’t disappoint, it was an absolute treat! Both parts of Team Cola looked like they were having the time of their lives. Cracking start to the show and endearing us two this pair even more.

Ricky and Natalie
Alas, not dancing to Jailhouse Rock...Not sure what the Fonz actually has to do with dancing, he is plugging that panto for all it’s worth! The lift work in this was pretty amazing (and Natalie is pretty brave!), but I think without that the dance would have been a bit of a letdown. To paraphrase both Craig and the Black Eyed Peas, I’d have liked a bit more boom-boom-pow. Don’t think they deserved their lowest score though.

Ali and Brian
Once again, these two look totally amazing. They got the period down exactly right, totally adoring Brian’s gloves. I wasn’t expecting too much from this dance after this week’s drama, meaning it was such a pleasant surprise! Fabulous choreography from Mr Fortuna yet again! Plus I was really pleased to see Ali doing some great work on her own and also that she threw herself into those lifts. I can smell a 10...oooh there we are!

Natalie and Vincent
Or is that Vincent and Bettie Boop? Oh and the joy of watching Vincent try and do gymnastics again, I’m having so much fun this week! But maybe not as much fun as Natalie; I was really impressed at how fast the routine was actually. I did agree with Alesha that it was a bit clumsy at times, but I don’t think the judges needed to have such a downer on it!

Laila and Anton
What cute outfits, big points to the costume people this week. I remember Laila being good in this dance but I was actually captivated by Anton, he was on fire! It reminded me of the hilarious comedy quickstep he did with Flavia and Vincent. After all this I hope we get these two dances back next year, it’s been such a laugh.

Group Viennese Waltz
I was prepared for a five couple pile-up. We all remember the early group Viennese Waltzes, but if Christopher Parker could do it without causing death and destruction then it can’t have been that hard, this is a whole different thing. At one point it seemed like to be the battle of the fleckerls, how many did Ali and Brian do?! Thought Natalie and Vincent looked like they were struggling, Vincent seemed like he was grimacing more than smiling.

Thought the pro foxtrot was fabulous and very creative. They’re really pulling out all the stops with them this year, hurrah for the extended Saturday show! Also liking a bit of Muse too, you’d think they’d get used more on the show as they’re so theatrical. But no one warned me about Riverdance, I properly hate Riverdance!

Dance off
The only two doing rock and roll end up in the bottom two? Probably evidence the Charleston just rocks! I wasn’t very surprised to see Ricky in the bottom two, but also not surprised that he stayed. Bye bye Natalie, it was great fun and I hope you've bought lots of tissues for poor Vincent!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

When frocks attack

Well I never thought I'd be so happy to see Bruce, but after the disaster that was last week I think he must be the show's lucky charm. Long may he reign! However, he wasn't lucky enough to save poor Jade for us. I'm actually gutted about her having to leave and really upset for Ian too, they could have got to the final. Looks like we've got a two person final once more, unless there are any more voting-no-one-at-the-BBC-can-count disasters...

Ali and Brian
Well thankfully we have Team Awesome to cheer us up! That's what I like to see in a foxtrot, bit of Hollywood glitz and musicality from our favourite shiny happy people. They are as cute as a kitten dancing in a top hat next to a baby seal eating candyfloss.
One of the better dresses - and dances - of the evening. Unfortunately, as you may have gathered in the past, I despise foxtrot so that kinda puts a shadow over the whole performance. Not sure why Frankie's going on about baby seals. I think Norway's gone to her head.

Natalie and Vincent
Natalie looks fabulously funky tonight and just look at Vincent's teeny tiny little waist! However, I thought the routine was a bit simple, especially since we're used to Vincent wowing us with fancy choreography. I love the judges' obsession with bounce action, has anyone been praised for their bounce action since Zoe Ball about 5 years ago?! Oooh a harsh 5 from Bruno!
Oh, I was willing this to be good. But all the will in the world (Will & Grace, Good Will Hunting, The Wind in the Will-ows) was not enough. It wasn't great. Love them though. SO glad they got through - but no point pretending it was marvellous, eh?
Chris and Ola
It takes a lot for a VW to hold my attention but Team Cola managed it! What a beautiful routine Ola-chops put together for them and Chris looked like he was totally in the zone. Loved the pivots, I love pivots anyway but these were especially pivot-y.
I really liked this and you know what, they got my first vote of the series. So kudos Team Cola, not that you'll ever read this but yer know. I'm a discerning Strictly fan and it's a great privilege to have a vote - so think yerselves lucky and a big pat (postman?) on the back to both of you.

Ricky and Natalie
Really wasn't too sure about this at the start, but I think I was won over by the end. Thought it would be a love or hate thing for Len, and I agreed with him that the lift was gratuitously huge interruption when it had all flowed so gracefully from the start. I still think Alesha is a bit trigger-happy with that 10.
I knew it, I just knew it! Len went all Kenny Logan on the American Smooth lifts. I kinda agreed with him. A nice subtle twirlygig at the end would have been far more appropriate. Delightful routine, despite incongruous lift. Natalie is proving she has staying power both as a dancer and a choreographer. She's the star. Ricky who?

Laila and Anton
Another timeless bit of ballroom from Anton, I suddenly started to feel a bit Christmassy for some reason! Maybe her dress made her look like a fairy on top of a tree, but then what does that make Anton? Certainly not her best dance, but it made her staying in worthwhile. A 6 from Craig wasn't justified at all.
It was OK. Yeah, I know she has a bad ankle. I have a bad foot. I still went to salsa class (in trainers, mind you, at least Laila wore her proper shoes!) I just think if Laila and Anton were going to wow us with any dance, it would have been the waltz. And now that's been and gone and I'm distinctly unwowed. I dread to think what their Rock and Roll or Charleston will be like next week. I predict nightmares this week.

Ricky and Erin
My god, just what is exactly is Erin WEARING?! Worst outfit of the series by far, it possibly goes down with the worst dresses ever, along with Lilia's series four samba turban *shudder*. And why is Ricky dressed as the rubbish hypnotist from Little Britain? And whilst I'm in full rant mode, is there some rule against proper tango music this year? The whole thing was just odd, odd, odd.
Firstly, why was Erin dressed as the character off the front of the yellow Monster Munch packet? Yes. I think it was the. worst. dress. ever. And no one's more delighted than me that that accolade goes to our own Queen of Mean (we love her really) Erin Boag. Great to see the return of Miss Whiplash before the end of the series. (sidenote: we've not mentioned Lilia's turban for over a year, Frankie, we're slacking...) Oh, and Ricky? It kinda sucked.
--------------------------------------------

Gosh, Darren and Lilia swinging to the Noisettes? What a completely delicious treat, that's just made my Saturday. And I'm sure Clover used to have a pair of shoes like Lilia's. More please! So the big new dances are the rock n roll and the Charleston? Well I'm rather pleased with both of them, but maybe they could have come up with two that were a bit more distinctly different? Both are quite fast and zany, but then again, that's a definite crowd-pleaser!
Yes, had similar shoes and yes yes yes! I want that dress! Cute little number from the little Darren and Lilia (woeful lack of Lilia, I tells ya...) And NEW DANCES! So exciting. I was, like, soooo dreading the new dances being bolero (snooze) and mambo (salsa) so these two were a nice little surprise. I hope it doesn't mean the Argentine Tango has been dropped though. That would be a travesty. I don't think they would...would they?

The group rumba was mesmorising, one of the best group numbers of the series. Can we have more of these dramatic rumbas rather than them being all soppy? And good old Dame Shirley was as overblown as only Shirley can be.
There's nothing, NOTHING, like a daaaaaame! Nothing in the woooorld! Apologies to all our tweeties who've endured that since I read Dame Shirley Bassey would be performing. Does anyone know why Rob Brydon was playing the piano? Or was it Anton? Or is there another one of them?



Dance off
Well here we are, at least Ricky gets another stab at the tango and will hopefully kill off the monster that is Erin's dress at the same time. I get the feeling Laila and Anton just weren't interesting enough this week. At least Ricky managed to get through the routine properly so he didn't totally embarrass himself and was a very good sport about it all.
Right two couples in dance off; right couple kept in. All in all, a very conservative show - and that's just what everyone needed after last week's drama.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Curses


They say bad things happen in threes.


After the delicious spectacle that was Blackpool, we the people were expecting this week's Strictly to be a little, well, unwhelming. What we weren't expecting was a string of unfortunate events that would lead to it being perhaps the worst - and definitely the strangest - episode of Strictly Come Dancing, like, ever. Without Bruce, it seemed empty, despite Tess' glorious efforts and the spankinglyfabulous Claudia (we love) stepping into Tess' area (oo-er?) What Ronnie Corbett was doing there is waaay beyond me. Have no blinking idea. And standing next to Tess he looked like a Weeble (You know? They wobble but they don't fall down?) All in all, it was held together loosely but, like Lilia Kopylova's Series Three Samba Costume, it felt like the whole show could fall to pieces before our very eyes. Curse one.


And not only did we find out that Bruce has gone AWOL (swine flu?), but also that Jade had injured her knee to Charton Heston Epic Proportions. No, she's not concerned about being able to finish the series; she's concerned for her career. I wanted to cry. And I'm not even joking. Also, I was particularly looking forward to that tango too - it was going to be a defining series moment. Could feel it in me booones. Curse two.


After a mediocre American Smooth by Phil and Katya, a mediocre jive by Ricky and Natalie, a mediocre Viennese Waltz by Ricky and Erin and a not-mediocre-but-very-Tom-Chambers-in-the-mouth-department Paso by Chris and Ola (go Team Cola - back on form - loving THEM), we were hit by *dramatic yet camp music of terror* CURSE THREE. Laila's wee ankle. Oh it was genuine, so those who are titter-tattering about sympathy votes, just pack yer bags and head off somewhere nasty. Siberia. Jupiter. Skegness. They were real tears, guys - face it, she's not that good an actress. On a plus, it still scored as high as that jive despite only being half-a-rumba.


Next was a mediocre foxtrot by Natalie and Wee Vee (but we could blame the foxtrot - I despise the foxtrot) and a semi-mediocre cha cha cha by Ali and Brian. I think everything just seemed mediocre. I can't stop saying mediocre. Mediocre. I think the atmosphere was flat. I think everyone was concerned for Jade and Laila. I think everyone missed Bruce. Brian and Kristina's Bolero was nice but not oh-wow - we really needed a fantastic pro dance to bring the house down - something like a Cutlerjive or a Lowequickstep, but it was not to be. The other pro dance again, was good but not memorable. Shame, shame. And the fact that Tuffers is no more, well, that just breaks my tiny heart.


Next week has got to be a good show. It's got to be an AMAZING show or Strictly's in big trouble. There needs to be a BIG PIZZAZZ again to get the series kicked off, even if it's not next week, and the only remedy I can think of is to get...Back to Black...pool.


Come on, FINAL IN BLACKPOOL. (Every year...)


Sunday, 8 November 2009

Close Encounters of the Strictly Kind, Pt 3

Didn't get tickets for Blackpool. In fact, between us, Frankie and I have never got tickets for any live Strictly show, despite applying every year since 1233AD. Marvellously luckily for me however, a good friend did get them and allowed me to tag along (as part of my birthday present - which also included balsamic vinegar, olive oil and, mmm, bread...) So here's the story...

Woke up all nervous - partly due to the pressure of not knowing if we'd get in and partly due to the pressure of speaking n the radio that morning. I haven't even listened to myself on that. I don't think I'm going to as last time I sounded like a mouse. On helium. But by the by, with that over and done with (and feeling slightly less nervy), it was then just a case of getting self to Blackpool and in that damned queue.

Being a control freak, Type A personality, uh, type, I insisted that the E-tickets were posted by my friend (let's call him Chris...because that's his name) through my letter box early in the morning. I was going to queue early even if he wasn't. So, off I went to Blackpool...dressed up to the nines...sliver sparkly shoes...pink tutu...and got extremely confused looks from the other people on the Number 7 bus.

Arrived there thinking ooh-well-maybe-I-can-get-some-lunch-first, but then the queue had started already. Thinking ahead (and knowing North West weather all too well), I decided to grab my place under the shelter that surrounds the promenade side of Blackpool Tower. Note: better to queue four hours dry than two hours wet. Had a quick chat to Helen, who brings her lovely little girls into the library and had got there before me (mutter mutter mutter) and then joined the end of the line with Peter and Sharon from my ballroom class, who just happened to arrive at the same time. Phoned Chris and begged for flapjack and crisps to be brought to me.

Time in queue went science-defyingly quickly. Love the bonding that goes on in these situations. Special mentions go to Chris (another one - who later peed next to Ian) and Jenny, all the way from somewhereMidlands, for entertaining us with stories of how the children in her class don't watch Strictly - but their grandmas do. Crowd of women behind us singing Sweet Caroline. And the Strictly theme tune. They were, uh, happy? Anyhullabullo, time did fly and it wasn't too cold. Local knowledge meant we could sneakily use the Tower Lounge toilets and we were happily under cover at all times. Had fun laughing at those who turned up later...a sea of unbrellas...and all soaking wet. Suckers.

Doors opened at 3.15pm and we were ushered in to stand in the circus queue for another hour. I was concerned we were going to be herded into the circus instead to get us out of the way, locked in and forced to watch bendy Hungarian women hang from string for three hours. Luckily, that didn't happen. Chris went for a pee. Peed next to Brendan.

We were then escorted in to the ballroom and give our seats. Right behind the judges table...and a pillar. I was really disappointed and concerned I wasn't going to be able to see a thing, especially the latin dances that tend to stay in one spot. However, it was fascinating to listen to the production team's mutterings and see what goes on behind the scenes. Alesha sits on two (extremely sparkly) cushions behind that desk, yer know. And the make-up people dash out like ferrets to powder the judges' noses (and tidy Len's combover) when the VTs are running...

The Rod Stewart segment was filmed first and I found, to my utter delight, a lot of , nay most of the dancing, would take place straight ahead of me in that little gap between the table and the next row of people. So I had a near perfect view of Penny and Matthew...and later of Ricky and Erin, amongst others. Soo exciting. It was at this point I realised that Chris had managed to sneak a sausage roll in with him and wanted to ask Len if he'd swap it for a bottle of water.

So, Chris stole a bottle of water from the crate under the chair next to us (and promptly hid the bottle under the chair of the person in front - you can't take some people anywhere...) The pros filmed a gorgeous (imagine that in Craig R-H's voice, darling) Viennese Waltz around chandeliers and it was all ballroomy and Blackpooly and soooo like the old Come Dancing (not that I remember that but hurrah for Youtube!)

We then went live and I think I nearly dislocated my shoulder from all the clapping. Ricky and Erin were on first and got a good reception. I couldn't see all of the dance, but then tango-ed past my view from time to time. When they'd finished, I twigged that the curtain to the left of me concealed...Tess' Area! I could hear voices from inside! You don't know how tempting it was to stick my head through there...but it meant that all the pros and celebs walked really near us on their way to collect their scores! Flavia is tiny.

Natalie and Vincent got a massive applause for their quickstep but I think the biggest cheers went to Chris Hollins and, of course, Craig Kelly. It was his home crowd and looked so delighted to be there. The atmosphere was amazing and I heard members of the production team comment that they should do the final there - or at least go every year! I caught their eyes and nodded vehemently. I hope they knew I could hear them...otherwise they prob just thought I was doing an impression of the Churchill dog. It was a complete surprise that Jill Halfpenny was there and she danced like a demon as always - I still say, best female contestant ever! It did mean Lilia had to dance with Brendan (my friend peed next to Brendan!) which was a tad surreal.
It seemed almost perfect that Craig had his last dance in Blackpool and he didn't look disappointed or sad. After the cameras stopped rolling, we went on to the floor (resisting the urge to dance salsa) and I found it very bizarre to be surrounded by all the celebs and pros. I had a quick word with the lovely Brian Fortuna who was being mobbed by other batty fans at the same time, so left them to it. One batty fan at a time is enough. Was terrified of Brian. However, spoke to Craig Kelly also, which wasn't scary at all - probably due to the familiar local accent. Chris shook hands with 'the pretty girl from Hollyoaks', so he was happy. Of the very kind.

You might not get to see as much of the dances as you would watching it on TV but there's really nothing like being there live. Actually, no, I lie. It's rubbish. Watch it from home people. And if you get tickets, send them to me...






Saturday, 7 November 2009

Oh we do like to be beside the the seaside...

It's coming home, it's coming home, it's coming...Strictly's coming home! It's all kicking off at the Tower Ballroom tonight, Clover is lucky enough to be there so you're getting a blog post from me now and something from her a little later.

Ricky and Natalie
Going out first at Blackpool and after getting a 39 last week is a big ask, but we knew Ricky was going to live up to it. Watching this I could tell it was brilliant and technically fabulous but it was totally RUINED for me by the song choice! I love that song, but as we've seen before, the wrong song completely destroys the drama of a tango, it's like someone has the radio on in the background. If that had been to a sparse, staccato tune I would have been blown away, alas no. Thankfully Natalie had a totally fabulous dress.

Natalie and Vincent
Wow, what a cracker! Good job they had that big floor because they looked like they were running for miles in that one. Loved the choreography, especially all the charleston. Had to laugh when they said they didn't have a funny beginning or end so they were allowed a twiddly bit in the middle just to annoy Len. I have also come to the conclusion Natalie was born about 40 years too late, she looks amazing in all the vintage-styled get ups!

Jade and Ian
Loving Ian's spangly shirt (we haven't used our favourite word in a while!), but disappointed at the lack of crazy green trousers. Totally loved the choreography and how it played to Jade's strengths and amazing legs- and she CAN do the kicks and flicks! Definitely her best latin so far, can't wait for the tango.

Ali and Brian
The opening VT made me think I might have to buy a hat sometime soon...Proper Disney Princess dress on Ali there too! The whole thing was beautifully light and frothy like a Viennese Waltz should be. Cannot believe Craig got his 10 out before the final, it's been an eventful night already!

Ricky and Erin
Looks like Erin stole Laila's samba outfit, what's that all about? Great poofy skirt though! Not quite sure how I felt about this one, it seemed like there were lots of little bits all over the place and some were good and some were bad. The bit where he went crazy in front of the judges like a drunken tourist was hilarious though!

Laila and Anton
Did the wardrobe department get a job lot of red lace this year? Thankfully, it looks pretty good in this frock, Laila looks stunning! Probably the most dramatic paso we've seen in a long time, the pair of them really pulled out all the stops and gave us the whole package. I don't care if that was an illegal lift, it was fabulously done.

Tufty and Katya
I recoiled in horror at the idea of Phil doing the rumba, but once again this wasn't a total car crash. Then again, he didn't really seem to do too much! Not sure about Len saying it was his best latin (an 8, really?!), I did however love his massive comedy grin to the camera halfway through. Not sure about Kayta's net-curtian poncho...

Chris and Ola
Totally hilarious opening VT with Chris getting his mouth taped shut, gotta love these two. Completely genius song choice from Ola and she really ramped up the musicality of it all. Nice frock too. It's so lovely to see all Chris' hard work pay off after he's struggled so much, ah the magic of Blackpool!

Craig and Flavia
Ah the local boy is last out, what a surprise. Wasn't sure about this song when I heard it on ITT but it did actually work. Craig's face was hilarious throughout the whole dance, he was gawping like a kid in a sweet shop! I actually think this was Craig's best latin, but Len was right, he just isn't as good as everybody else. Harsh words from Alesha, but yep, Dad's back. Also, couldn't they have given Craig a red waistcoat or something rather than just plain black?

Totally loved seeing footage of the now legendary Strictly Bus to Blackpool, with everyone acting like they're on a school trip. We really need to make this a yearly event; who's with me in starting a campaign to have the final there every year? Omg, is that a group Viennese Waltz? We haven't seen one of these in forever (by which I mean since about 2005), how fabulous. There's some lovely dresses in there too.

Group swing jive
Jill? Is that JILL?! Ok, maybe I missed something earlier this week, but I had no idea she was turning up. Oh crikey, Brucie is singing! I cannot take all this unexpected excitement. What a charming little number, nice to see they pulled out something special for Blackpool. And there were some great outfits too, Flavia looked as cute as a button!

Oh look, now it's Rod, I'm sorry this seems to be turning into the longest blog post ever...I'm not going to pretend I like Rod Stewart, but he's not doing too bad tonight. Thankfully Penny spangles her way on the the most blingtastic of fringed dresses, although I must say it looks totally wrong that she's taller than Matthew.

Dance off
It's been such a fun night I don't really want anyone to go. How schmaltzy. Wow, is that actual bottom two with the judges in the bottom two with the public? I guess there's a first time for everything! I think Ricky actually performed better second time around so he really did deserve to stay. Was I the only one who thought the band might break into 'Oh we do like to be beside the seaside' at the end? What a night!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Confounded with confusion

There follows a Public Service Announcement: This week there has been some confusion, due to jetlag, Zoe leaving and many other things, and so you are getting a Frankie blog post here and Clover's comments below. Who cares, next week it's Blackpool - Strictly's coming hooooome!

Natalie and Vincent
Don't you just love how Natalie gets all excited about the dances? Like Jodie last year I think Natalie owns the word 'gusto' this time around. As with this dance, not technically the best but you need to throw yourself into the jive and she certainly did that. Not too sure about the dodgy fringe but the outfits were super-cute.

Ali and Brian
Ok, so I don't think anyone was expecting Ali to be spectacular at the paso but I think she pulled it off in her own way. Being the cape rather than the bull was a good idea and she was technically as brilliant as ever. She also had a very, very nice frock and hair and makeup, which distracted from the return of the circus music.

Craig and Flavia
Well Flavia coped well since she seemed to have become entangled in one of Pat Butcher's curtains just before she started. She isn't lucking out with the dresses this year, is she? Overall, Criag's best dance, but come on, this is a waltz and it's not exactly week one. Don't care if I'm betraying the local boy, I'm bored.

Chris and Ola
Could the catsuit become a yearly tradition for Ola? Like Brendan storming off and Anton not winning? Nice cheeky little number from the cheeky pair, Chris also seemed like he was enjoying himself. Agreed with comments about his mouth though; amusing week one, freaky week seven.

Jade and Ian
Gosh this was lovely, just all-round old school lovely. Len was right, what a treat. Well done Ian for such a lovely routine, I'm quite looking forward to an American Smooth from these two now. After last week's drama a 35 is just what you need to pick things up, plus we now have the Ian Waite Blackpool Outfit to look forward too.

Zoe and James
Zoe works the Halloween theme by appearing dressed as a combination of Posion Ivy and Tinkerbell. Saying that I am always glad to see some feathers after last week's disappointing lack of them. Thought she looked a bit awkward during this one, but elegance is her thing and you don't get that with the samba. And since when did samba automatically mean disco music?

Ricky and Erin
After the surprisingly great American Smooth last week I was wondering what trick Erin would have up her sequinned sleeve and I think capitalising on her whole evil-genius-Bond-Girl thing was a pretty good idea. At one point backstage I thought she was wearing a sequinned catsuit and nearly had a heart attack! Anyway, great song choice, adds a bit of drama when a rumba can sometimes be a bit boring. I geniunely don't think this was as bad as the judges made out, it could have been a car crash and it wasn't.

Laila and Anton
Could a Vienesse Waltz from these two be anything other than beautiful? I was also impressed by Anton's lovely music choice which stopped it from being stuffy. Will we get another ballroom dance next week since they did two latin before? I think Blackpool deserves it.

Tufty and Katya
At first I didn't think this was going to work but then as the dance went on and Tufty got into it I was quite impressed. No more bum shaking, great coreography from Katya (looking lovely dressed as Evita). Not classic Tufty but he certainly worked hard to try and master that one.

Ricky and Natalie
About 20 seconds into this dance I realised we'd be getting the 10s out from under the desk. Genius coreography from Natalie and a great song choice to that made it nice and Hollywood. She's really making her presence felt this series! Bit concerned about how good his latin is, but Ricky really knows how to do the ballroom.

Anyone else scared half to death by the BeeGees? Was that the halloween number for this year? At least Kristina and Ola got to play Las Vegas showgirls for us. Where were those fabulous outfits for the samba last week?

Dance off
Shock! Horror! The type-of-random-result-we-get-every-year-but-still-gasp-over finally hits us. Felt so sorry for Ali having to dance with no shoes on and both of them looked like they were going to have a major freakout halfway around the floor. If I'd have been forced to pick between these two I guess I would have saved Ali. Now the big question for next week is whether Craig will go in his home town?

Time to Go Jo/The Curse of James

Ah, two entries in one? Think of it as a Double A side single release rather than my sad self being a lazy moose and just not having got round to posting anything. Hpmh, well don't blame me. Frankie's off sunning herself in Florida...and I've been busy too. Hence the non-postage. My excuse last week was that I was also sunning myself. In the Lake District. My excuse this week is ... well, give me a few minutes to think of one...

However, I've not got the steam in me to rant about each and every couple (soo tired) so I've three highlights and three, uh, lowlights from the past two weeks and a general comment about both eliminations.

Highlights

1) Craig getting to Blackpool. Although this has an adverse effect on the other couples, I'm glad he's made it. Now he has to have his last dance in the tower ballroom - the poignancy is almost poetic.

2) Jade and Ian, generally. Shouldn't have been in dance off - choosing to ignore it. Loving this couple. Real journey coming on and one of the few who's really making progress.

3) Pro Jive Week 6. As good as the Rebel Yell one a few years ago. Had Cutler written all over it. Am I right?

Lowlights

1) Zoe leaving. Really unfair. Mini-rant below.

2) Ola's Catsuit - really, put it away.

3) Anton and Latingate. Seriously getting annoyed with this selfish chap. Just because he doesn't like latin he's jeopardising Laila's chances of being a real contender. You don't see Erin or Natalie making a fuss, do you?

Re. the eliminations, there's not really much to say about Jo other than that it was her time to go. Despite my better judgement, I actually began to like this girl and I liked Brendan's attitude towards her. They were a lovely partnership and did very well. I'm being nice. I don't think I feel well...Zoe, on the other hand, has fallen prey to what shall henceforth be known as The Curse of James. No matter how good his partner is, he never makes it beyond the middle of the competition. Quite unfairly too because he's not the nasty James from days gone by; he's actually a fairly nice chap. So what's the problem? Probably people voting to get Craig to Blackpool. Ah well, you win some...you lose some...

Frankie should be back next week and we'll be back to our usual postage (she'll nag me to complete it) - special BLACKPOOL edition next week (we were both born there so it's VERY exciting!) There will also be a special Blackpool 'Simon Says...' too, we hope...

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Simon Says (Week 5)

Back by popular demand, here's this week's round-up from our firm but fair Strictly expert and ballroom dancer, Simon Grogan. We think if the BBC wants to shake up the judging panel next series, he'd be the ideal candidate! - Clover and Frankie.




"Well we're on week 5 and the competition is getting fiercer every week!!!!

First of all I want to say 'Well Done Craig Kelly', no dance of what a relief!!!! Will he make it to Blackpool???? Let's hope so.


Now on to one of my favourite couples, Brian and Ali. I don't know what Len was talking about I thought th choreography was great and really showed what Ali could do. Great outfits too!


Now onto Ricki and Natalie and Alesha's ten. Mmm not a wise move Alesha to soon for tens, but I have to agree that the dance was very good!


Jo and Brendan, it was definitely her best dance and I don't understand why Craig has to be so rude to her. Bruce you ROCK for what you said, yay Brucie we love you!


Right then Zoe and James. Zoe did not deserve to be in the dance-off and people need to support her more. Yes her kicks and flicks were a bit lazy and need sharpening up but she is a brilliant dancer and I look forward to seeing her progress.


Mmmm Laila and Anton. I really like this couple but I think Anton made an absolutely huge mistake. I know he's not the best at the jive but he could at least tried a little harder with his song choice because you couldn't feel the beat clearly which made it even harder for poor Laila. I have done the jive and it's not easy.


Natalie and Vincent are a very nice couple and there viennese waltz was very nice, but on the pivots Natalies feet were too far off the ground. All in all a very good performance.


Ricky and Erin, well I have to say I was quite disappointed, I thought it was going to be very fun and exciting, but was quite boring and repetitive. Like the judges said I have never seen so many kick ball changes in one dance.


Jade and Ian are very promising and I think they could go very far in the compeition, Jade just needs to relax a bit, she seems very tense.


I really like Phil and Katya, I think they are both very laid back and do especially well in their ballroom. They seem to enjoy it a lot! Cricketers always do well in Strictly so keep going Phil!


Chris and Ola, I was disappointed because Chris has the advantage of being small which makes it easier to Jive.


And finally Joe and Christina, brilliant song choice and choreography - what a shame they had to go. Without a doubt his best week I was beginning to quite like him!


My tip for the contestants is if they dont want to be in the dance off then don't dance for Claudia on Fridays It Takes Two! Sorry Claudia. "

Saturday, 17 October 2009

F1, fringing and frights...

After the trauma of the F1 delay (thanks to everyone on Twitter getting us through it!) we begin the show thoroughly annoyed and even tenser than ever. Thankfully, a full procession of comedy outfits comes down the stairs and we’re away!

Ricky and Erin

Oh how I squealed when I saw Erin in that outfit, rumours of a Wonder Woman costume were only slightly exaggerated! Oh dear, a prop, the last refuge of the desperate. Quite a cute routine from Erin, loved the chicken walk, but actually quite simple. Loved Alesha and Bruno laughing away in the background. Slightly concerned about the ongoing comedy vote though…

What was this? This was stupid. Sorry, but there was only one step in the whole routine and that involved Ricky's partially disembodied leg swinging forwards and backwards like a pendulum on a very, very old (and out of time) clock. Frankie's right about the prop - it really is the very last resort. Next week expect to see him ride in on a unicycle.

Jade and Ian

Beautiful hair and makeup, dress like a duvet. Warmed to Ian’s song choice quite quickly, I find too many Viennese Waltzes a little dull but thought this song gave it a bit of an edge but still kept it romantic. Thankfully it is the time of year when we can unashamedly use the word fleckerl and pretend we know what we’re talking about!

I liked this. Thought it was gorgeous. Can't warm to Jade though. Clare-from-Work says that it's Denise Lewis Syndrome. Can we not warm to sportswomen? Is a competitive nature something that goes against women in these things? Answers on a postcard addressed to Gabby Logan.

Ali and Brian

Oh my word, put Rachel Stevens down Brian! Guess that’s a way of making sure you get a front row seat. Bit worried about Ali’s arms actually, think the routine could have been a bit too tricky for her. Does she seem to be getting more nervous as it goes on?

Good but not great. Speaking of Rachel Stevens, Ali is getting a little bit, uh, Rachel Stevens. Lovely, and technically sound but no wow yet. Hoping there's still wow in her.

Jo and Brendan

Jo seemed a lot more confident this week in the ITT training footage so I was hoping with a simpler dance like the VW might move her along a bit. Too bad about the shameless celeb name-dropping. Boring frock, did they run out of glitter? Omg, there goes Stepford Brendan! Hurrah for Len and Alesha saying it was her best dance.

Don't mind Jo. She really does try and it was her best week. Bruce really came to her defence too - as well as Brendan. And rightly so. What's with Craig? He can't see a belt without hitting below it.

Zoe and James

Wow, Zoe looks stunning! Probably my favourite dress of the night. Really good use of Northern Soul too to keep things nice and bouncy. Thought Zoe right got into the feel of things and looked like she was really enjoying herself.

Aw Zoe, poor Zoe. She did not deserve to be in the dance-off. But this is what happens to James' partners isn't it? He can be as nice as cherry pie and it still doesn't work. Check the evidence: Gabby, Cherie. Both went before their time. Both good dancers (if both a little cold personality-wise). This is the kind of thing that will kick start me to vote next week. This was a good dance. Poor gal.

Ricky and Natalie

Oh dear, extended opening, Len won’t like that Natalie! Wasn’t too sure about this, I’m sure it was technically good but just wasn’t feeling it. Maybe that’s the sign of a good VW! Knew the big points were coming out, but my god what is Alesha doing whipping out the first 10 of the series?! We’ll never hear the end of this!

I can kind of see why she gave a 10. She'd given 9s and it's all relative, innit? And it was a good dance. I think the main thing here to note is that Ricky was leading the dance. That is so unbelieveably important and about as rare as Bruno having a calm evening in with a cup of cocoa. Goughie could lead, Matt Dawson could lead...Gethin got it too. Ricky's an all round good dancing egg - even if his salsa was pants.

Craig and Flavia

And the comedy outfits continue, not even Katy Perry would wear those shorts Flavia was poured into! Thought he went for it in a way he hasn’t done in the previous weeks but it was a bit messy. A four was harsh from Craig and I don’t think he deserved his lowest score for it.

The fact that he got saved this week proves that the very very bottom of the leaderboard is a fairly safe place to be. I was glad for him - as I keep saying, he's a local lad who just wants to get to Blackpool (he's the only one...grim place...) but this dance was not. good.

Joe and Kristina
Kristina is channelling another Christina tonight and looks stunning. Was not looking forward to this jive at all and wow it was bad, despite yet more creative choreography from Kristina. Not sure why the judges are saying he’s getting better, it doesn’t matter when most people were better than him in week 1.

This was the first dance he actually danced. Having said that, it's not so much of a shame he had to go because the competition's getting on a bit and we need to start thinking about voting off the duffers. Ha ha, duffers - I'm cruel.

Natalie and Vincent

So here we are with Natalie’s first elegant dance. Twiddly opening but beautiful music, Vincent really knows how to pick them. Loved Len’s kid in a candy store analogy, that’s what people love about her. Would have liked to have seen a full board of 7s, Bruno seems to be marking a bit harsher than usual tonight.

This was nice. Not much more than nice but it's Natalie and she worked hard and she deserves a bit of credit for that. I've not much else to say other than that she's a little star and I hope she goes far (in a car, wearing a bra, la de da, off to the bar, tra la laaaa....)

Laila and Anton

Was really very nervous for Laila with this dance and also got scared when she came out looking like something from Sesame Street! Very odd song choice, only matched by the oddness of Anton doing the jive. Honestly though, it was a lot better than what I was expecting. They’ll get through this week I think, since she’s proved how good she can be. A seven from Len was daft though!

Anton. Your card is marked. Quit larking about with the latin. There is no reason why Laila shouldn't be good at both if you would concentrate an equal amount of time, effort and positivity on both disciplines.

Phil and Katya

Was wondering how Phil would charm his way through the VW, but thankfully he got a spiffy suit and an amazing song choice. Katya knows what she’s doing! But was that an illegal lift I saw there? I do love the way even Phil seems surprised at how good he is though, I whiff a journey.

You know, I found the whole thing a little boring this week. This again was OK, nice, yada yada. Yes, he is charming but I'm bored of pointing that out.

Chris and Ola

What precisely is Ola wearing tonight? Bit too much air guitar but I really thought there was a bit of musicality in this one. Alesha was right, he had the most spring in his step. Does anyone think he would have been scored higher if he was Ricky Groves? And wow, what a spray tan!

Drunk-Uncle-Chris-at-Auntie-Sylvia's-50th-Birthday strikes again! It was not bad but it was not good. Everything is average nowadays.

As for the group dance, I really think the BBC should broadcast a warning: the following programme will contain very scary footage of Anton du Beke. Oh yeah and Spandau Ballet were so dull.

Dance off
First proper dance off shocker of the series! Was worried Zoe would go to pieces due to the sheer weirdness of it all but she got through it fine. Oh well, bye bye Joe, it was fun while it lasted.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Strictly Salsaaaaa! (Oh yeah, and booooo foxtrot...)

Last week we were all going mad with the length of the show, but we forgot it was going to be just as long this week! So here we are with 13 couples and more than two hours of spangles.

Like Amy Winehouse, Frankie is back in black this week, while Clover is in purple.
Clover also apologies for the extreme lateness of this blog entry. Due to being out on Saturday and Sunday evenings (and having watched Strictly on iPlayer at 3am whilst mildly inebriated...) I have found this week a weelittle tricky.



Zoe and James

Genius song choice from James Jordan shocker! Thought this routine struck the right balance between glitzy and technically good. Not too sure what Bruno was going on about with sex appeal but it was a suitably good way to start the show. And since Len gave it a nine it must have been good.
Great couple, delightful dance, pretty dress. I'm going to be honest though: I hate the foxtrot. Yes, it can be lovely to watch but my painful experience of trying to dance it colours my opinion of the whole thing. Which is a shame really. But it does suck. James is still being lovely. Think someone weally weally nice has locked the real James in a large chest, dosed up on Polyjuice Potion and is masquerading as Mr Jordan. I think it's Carol Smillie.

Chris and Ola

Ola sure seems to like that dress, it’s getting smaller every week! Not so much half naked as two thirds naked! Chris was very brave doing the bits out of hold, but it did turn into dad dancing territory for me.
Great track. Danced to this last night actually. Chris really seemed to enjoy this but I agree with Frankie, it's soooo dad, nay, even perhaps 'drunkle' . Clare-from-Work doesn't like Chris. Thinks he's smug. I am not sure if I am going off him a little. Nothing's topped that rumba yet, has it?

Lynda and Darren

As I sat there with relief thinking oh good a dance where Lynda isn’t going to pull funny faces, I then saw the dress which again looks like it has come from the Primark school of Strictly frocks. Haha, what a twee little song choice from Darren though. Didn’t look to bad to me, but I agree with what Craig said about it being safe. Dunno how they can go on about her walking when that’s all Joe has done for weeks!
Song choice was sooo twee. It was more twee than Jonathan Ross' garden. I kinda liked that though. I didn't think the frock was that bad and I didn't think the dance was that bad. It was just there.

Ali and Brian

The moment we had all been waiting for, thank god it came quickly! Was a bit worried about Ali tensing up but she really went for it. Thought the judges were a bit harsh on her actually, maybe it’s the weight of expectation? Loved Ali’s dress but not quite sure about the colour, it should have been turquoise or something equally bright.


Ah, the fabulously-flashy LA crossbody style salsa! I think the weight of expectation was too high as it didn't blow me away (but I was kind of dozed-by-rum, to be fair) On a rewatch, I appreciate the intricacies of the routine and that neck drop, bloomin' nora, you wouldn't catch me doing a thing like that, not for fifty pounds. This girl is one to watch. And Brian is Strictly's Salsa King: I'm kinda sad that's it for the series...

Jo and Brendan

Thought Jo looked amazing tonight, ok it was obvious Brendan was steering her quite a bit but the judges didn’t need to keep going on about it. Someone on twitter has referred to Brendan as Stepford Brendan and I am starting to see what they mean, he's ridiculously nice this series!
I don't dislike this woman. Which surprises me. Dance was uneventful - but that's good because it means it wasn't memorably awful. Clare-from-Work thinks that Brendan is lovely because he's all engaged and settled. Opinions?

Natalie and Vincent

Someone has finally given Natalie a decent hairdo and she looks fabulous tonight! She looks like a firework! So glad she got over her nerves and she and Vincent are looking like a proper team. I think she could rival Ricky Groves in the gusto stakes, but would like to see what happens when she gets something a bit more graceful.
Natalie looked fantastic. This gal is a star. OK, technique-wise, the hippage was somewhat lacking etc but, as is becoming regular with Natalie, this was a true party performance. Hair, dress, make-up, all fantastic. Must commend Frankie on use of the word 'gusto' - it's one of my favourites. Possibly top 10.

Joe and Kristina

What a song choice! Kristina is a genius when you consider what she has to work with. Plus she had the most amazing mermaid dress on, so OTT but I loved it. I think there was a mild improvement, but nothing to write home about.
Now in my mildly drunken state I was convinced that this song was in waltz timing. A quick one, but still waltzy. If not 3/4 then 2/6 or something (no, I can't tell the difference.) Did anyone else notice this? Please help if you know! This completely left me confounded with confusion and I missed anything else about the routine. From what I gather, that's not such a bad thing.

Laila and Anton

Well this had to be good didn’t it? You can’t go wrong with a bit of Frank and Laila looked stunning. Just knew the judges would go mad for it, there was technique oozing out of every move. Really hope they can pull it together for the latin though.
Laiiiiila, you got me on my knees...well not quite, but this was a bit good, wasn't it? But then it's Anton and it's foxtrot and it's Sinatra and s'wonderful...s'marvellous etc. This girl is also good and deserves to do well in it. If she doesn't then it's Anton's faulty, I'm afraidy.

Ricky and Natalie

Just look at those hips go! Almost makes you want to have Arlene to bang on about them incessantly. Thought Natalie’s frock was nice in a Dirty Dancing style. Quite negative comments from the judges when you think he’s only got two points less than Laila. And Ricky really hasn;t read our SCD Winning Formula, quit your day job!
Er, I didn't see any hips going anywhere. Don't know what Frankie and Bruno are talking about. This what a big disappointment. Alesha was made a fair point, you know, this time. He could have coped with a better routine - but then, for the first time, Natalie didn't shine either. I suspect she's not all familiar with salsa? Just a hunch. And walking around just spinnin' yer woman? That's quite a little pet peeve of mine.

Craig and Flavia

Has Flavia done something to offend the dress designers this year? I am on a one-woman mission to ban the colour grey from SCD. The song also made me cringe so it wasn't a good start. Saying all that, I thought this was Craig’s best dance so far myself. He's got a long way to go but he's trying his bestest.
Flavia's dress made her look like a nun who's been run over by a tram and lost her habit. Kinda ruined the dance for me. Craig is losing his battle with the nerves, which is such a shame. I'm still behind the local lad and wishing him well. Come on, wow-wee us with a jive!
Jade and Ian

God I hate headbands...Loving Ian’s crazy trousers though, how tiny is his waist?! Anyway, loved this as a whole piece, with them both dancing as a team.
They laid into Jade about stepping back too big - fair point but on the whole, but in general her action was fantastic - much better than Ricky's. She shimmies well, there was oodles of energy and the dress was exquisite.

Ricky and Erin

Erin overcomes being toilet rolled and choreographs a great number for them. Also really liked her giggling away in training. I can see what Ricky meant about not wanting to be the comedy vote, maybe he should just embrace the idea he's a bit better at latin that ballroom?
A gallant effort and I really commend Ricky for his attitude. I can't say I enjoyed it as much as that paso - I have my fingers, toes, arms, legs and eyes crossed that he doesn't get boring. Serious, boring Erin-whipped guy will go out mid-series; funny guy could make the final.

Phil and Katya

Wow, I can’t believe how well Phil pulled that off! Very brave choreography from Katya with him doing so much alone at the start but I think he managed it. Cute outfits as well, with Katya dressed as 80s Salsa Barbie. A four versus a seven? Ooh controversial.
Apart from that solo spot at the beginning, he didn't do much. I'll let him off. Still love this guy.

It seems to have been an odd night for dresses, some were great and some were yuck. Loving Tess’ dress, how fabulous and didn't make her look frumpy like she has in some past series. Alesha, take your coat off, you not stopping?

Dance off

No one surprising in the dance off this week, which was a bit of a surprise in itself. I think we're keeping the Joes for a bit longer, and Jo Wood was actually half decent this week. Even though I've not really warmed to Lynda this series I thought this was one of her better dances so she didn't really deserve to go this week. And it was quite cool to have a moment of suspense, since I really didn't know which way the judges were going to go.
Predictable, predictable, predictable. I wasn't surprised at all that Len saved Craig. I don't think either, if I'm honest, could have gone much further, so it didn't matter which went. I'm getting to the point now that I'm wanting rid of Calzage. Bored.
PS. Did anyone else think that Amy Winehouse looked as though she could just topple over?

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Strictly Come Marathon-ing

Here comes the longest night of Strictly ever and therefore the longest blog post ever. Get your scroll button at the ready!

We're back to our old-school blogging of last year now, so Frankie is in black tonight and Clover is rocking the purple.

Ali and Brian

Going first out of fourteen when you're a hotly-tipped couple, no pressure then! But what an utterly charming quickstep Brian put together and Ali really seemed to love the whole thing. Was really impressed at how light-footed and frothy she was. The ending was so cute and Hollywood as well. Plus Brian suddenly seems to have potential as the new face-pulling pro of the series, hurrah!

Oh I love watching a good ol' quickstep...and here be one. This was a little fizzpop of a dance. Ali looked gorgeous in her pastel dress and Brian's choreography was not too flashy - and not too dull. First out too, so nerves must have been on overdrive. These two are, like, sooooo cute together. Get married! Have pretty babies! That's an order.

Lynda and Darren

I did not have very high hopes for this, or the dress (yet more sleeves and about 2 metres of excess fabric). I don't want to sound too Craig R-H about Lynda, but seriously, what was up with her face?! Naff song choice and no passion at all. More importantly, do we think Darren waxed for tonight's show? Now come on Len and Alesha, put those 7s away!

Yes, yeees, we know it was over-marked with sevens. But then so were several other dances this evening. I think the judges are trying to pre-empt the John Sergeant vote by being slightly less cruel than last year. However, I liked the dress, regardless of the fact it had sleeeeeves Frankie (anyone would think this girl wanders round all winter in a vest. Note: she doesn't) This was a good effort from Lynda. Her best so far and definitely deserved to stay in the competition. Despite getting a little Dom Littlewood on Darren's bottom.

Chris and Ola

Brightening up my 6am shifts, I have waited all week to see Chris back on the dancefloor. Besides the distraction of Ola's Mr Whippy hairstyle I really enjoyed this, even with the mistakes. There is something really endearing about Chris, watching him sing along and reminding us of Darren Gough.

I didn't look at his feet so no idea just how technically pitiful it was. He really was having a ball, wasn't he? As Frankie would say, he 'eyes and teethed' his way through- and that is surprisingly endearing. It wasn't so much Ola's hair that distracted me, as the blancmange-like commodities on her shoulders. If Dynasty went ballroom, that is what it would look like. Not acceptable even in the 80s.

Zoe and James

Why does James grow a Satan beard for the paso every year? Plus the outfits looked like something from Ann Summers, so wasn't too struck before the dance even started. Oh yeah, and I hate that song too! Getting to the dance, why was the whole thing so slow? It made it look robotic to me; ok, maybe technically good etc but the paso for me is about drama and spectacle. Not deserving of three 8s to me.

The arrangement of that song was the problem here. It had no attack, it had no crescendo. I don't really know what crescendo means...but it's a good word, non? That made the whole thing pretty flat. Nonetheless, I knew the judges would love it. I got used to them raving about dull performances last year. Lisa Ahem Snowdon Ahem. Oh, I'm not calling this dull...I'm calling it...unfortunate. James is a doll this year. Who is this Mr Nice Guy?

Rav and Aliona

Watching Rav look nervous and twitching in the background when the others were talking to Tess made me want him to do well even more. Actually squealed with delight when the song kicked in and once again at the cartwheel! I know what the judges meant and could see the gap big-enough-for-a-double-decker-bus to use a Len-ism. Overly-harsh marking once again. I really hope Rav doesn't go out tonight, I have the whiff of a possible journey...

I think your bus crashed, Frankie. This was not good, which is a shame because he is delightful to look at. This is MY quickstep song too (stolen?! pah!) - you know, for if ever I'm invited to take part on the show (you never know...you know...) so actually, kudos to Aliona for the music. I've only just realised that their names when said together sound much like 'ravioli'.

Natalie and Vincent and Vincent's eyebrow

Dodgy Betty Boop hairdo on poor Natalie there, but hurrah for some traditional music and kick-ass choreography from Vincent! Ooh the drama! These two are such a good pair together, may we see them for weeks to come.

I adored this dance. It captured the very flavour of the Paso Doble. I could almost taste the paella (though I'm not sure if I've actually ever tasted real paella...in which case, I'm not sure what I could taste... ) I thought Natalie looked fabulous in her costume and I thought it was woefully under-marked. Wee Vincent's choreography was magic and it's the first time this series I've gone all goosebumpy. That is a huge compliment

Craig and Flavia

I wouldn't say this was the most exciting quickstep in the world, but I hadn't realised how bad the judges thought it was! Saying that, is it just me or is Craig so much better out of hold? I don't know what it is, maybe it's a posture thing. And if it was so terrible, why did the judges give him one mark higher than Rav?

Because although Rav is prettier (sorry Craig), his dancing was worse. So get over it. What on earth happened to these quicksteps this evening? They were not good. Song however was a deeeelight. I adore Peroxide Swing so was very excited when the first few bars were played. I'm willing him to do well for Flavia more than for himself...and, because of course, he's our local lad. A bit more charisma will go a long way.

(ooh gosh, we're at the halfway point, do we get a tea break or something?)

Ricky and Natalie

The frocks really haven't been top-notch tonight, but Natalie certainly didn't deserve one that looked like it came from Primark. My word this was an aggressive paso! I could see the fire all the way through it, but like Len said last week I think it might have just been a little bit TOO harsh. At times it looked like Ricky wanted to murder her! Still bloody good though, omg, was that a 35 I just saw?!

Yeah, bad frock. Like something from Fame crossed with Rocky Horror. Or, to go back to Quality Streets, The Big Purple One. And like The Big Purple One, did it have a nut inside? Quite possibly - Natalie does have manic eyes. But my gosh, that girl can dance. And so can that boy. I did find parts a bit Austin-Healey-with-the-hors d'Ĺ“uvres - and I know Espana Cani is the paso track...but it was used last series. And in series one. And I know it's hard to think of Paso music...but... but... but...


Jade and Ian

I was so excited about this dance; the training footage looked great, Jade got the best frock and rumour has it Ian stole one of our song suggestions. Loved all the jetes and they really used the floor (ooh I sound like Arlene!). A really fun, bright quickstep- great routine Ian!

Loved the dress. Loved the song. Loved the routine. Some of it may have been a little sloppy but it had such energy. It reminded me of Denise and Ian's quickstep all those many moons ago. I hope Jade doesn't get lost in the mid to late episodes and end up falling at the last hurdle. Dammit, wrong discipline. It's hard to metaphor longjump.

Joe and Kristina

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, just look at that outfit. Uber-cringe. Kristina looks like a genie too, bless her. Saying, that the cape action was quite good and so was the ending. Illegal lift alert! But once again, Joe just looks like he's walking around a lot of the time. For most of the dance I actually just sat and thought about what a great dancer Kristina is! A SIX Alesha? Come off it!

This guy is really starting to creep me out. He has the air of a man who might accidentally crush a small rodent or someone's wife just by uh-I-was-just-uh-hugging-it/her-uh. Uh. This and the fact that it was danced to what is officially The Worst Song Ever. The dancing was better though. Just.


Laila and Anton

Anton gets to do a proper quickstep, we thought this day would never come! Proper music and dancing and everything. Very classy, I just knew Len would love it. But wow, so many people are making footwork mistakes tonight, they must be going mad with nerves.

Classic, classy, no-frills quickstep. Without all those tricks and flicks and kicks, there's nowhere to hide. I think that was the point. Even if Laila doesn't get as far as the final, she will have learned to dance - not just set-routine after set-routine - she will be able to get up, with a partner and waltz, foxtrot, quickstep, to her heart's delight. And that is worth more than any glitterball.

Jo and Brendan

Ok, what is with the dresses tonight? Are the costume people overworked? This dance was actually a bit of a surprise for me, I was thinking it would be a total car crash and it wasn't and I think Brendan choreographed the routine really well for her. Plus Brendan was working some serious sparkle, its all about the sparkle!

I'm not saying I like the woman, but I have come to the conclusion that she's as near as we've ever got to a normal person doing Strictly. You know, a random (albeit a rich one), pulled off the street, with no performance experience or training. Even sportspeople 'perform' so she is unique. And she did improve. And Brendan has gone lovely.

Phil and Katya

I know more than one person who has had a knee cartilage operation and I cannot comprehend how Phil is not only able but allowed to dance with this. I don't know if I am impressed or not! Anyway, a darling little routine from Katya meant I soon forgot. All these mistakes are making me suspicious though, has Erin the evil genius put magnets in the floor again?

There's something amiss with the quicksteps these evening, with only Laila and Ali (Laila Ali? Has she hotfooted it over from DWTS?!) pulling off really good ones. This was my favourite of the rest though - it was charming. And the monochrome dress screamed elegance (if elegance screams, which it probably doesn't, it probably warbles or something like that.)

Ricky and Erin

Wow, Ricky looks sinister! As it started I was just in the process of typing about how much I liked Erin's dress when Ricky started screaming and I was pinned to my seat for the rest of the dance! Cannot believe he managed to raise the roof like that two weeks in a row. Well done for Craig saying he should be proud, I think that is a paso we will remember for quite a while.

Ricky Groves, proving himself to be a fantastic character actor, morphed into a strangely disconcerting and yes, sinister, yet pantomimey (in a good way) villain. He is what this show is about. His enthusiasm even makes Erin like the Paso Doble (I think she has described it in the past as a 'stupid dance'?) This pinned me to my seat too. Something that even Derren Brown can't manage.

Phew, is that everyone? Just as an aside, how much blusher is Craig R-H wearing tonight?! As we go into the voting I once again have no idea who will go, you just can't tell at this stage.


Dance-off

Joe and Kristina make it through first, ho hum what a surprise. The leaderboard was so big I've forgotten who was where now...Rav versus Lynda? It's no secret who I want to go, but I knew the judges wouldn't agree. I felt so sorry for Rav, he was so gutted he couldn't actually speak!

It was a shame but there was no contest really there. Surprising but true. I suspect Lynda will dance a foxtrot this week and that will be the first elegant give-it-to-the-older-lady dance she's done - she's doing very well. Can't wait for the salsas.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Simon Says...

Poo to you, ITV. We have our very own Simon and he's set to put Mr Cowell to shame. So here we are, with the first instalment from our guest blogger, Simon Grogan, ten year old, ballroom dancer and Strictly Come Dancing expert.
"Now I've seen everyone dance I have come to the conclusion that it is going to be a good competition this year. Zoe Lucker especially surprised me. She did a very good waltz but her rumba was even better. Ali and Brian performed two amazing dances last week, maybe I think the two best dances of that group. Their waltz was very romantic and she looked like she had been dancing for years. I have done the waltz in my dancing lessons and think that the steps are simple but the dance itself has many specific things to perfect, which makes it harder.

Laila and Anton are one of my favourites, from watching SCD from the start, I know that Anton has had many dreadful partners, (not Patsy Palmer she rocked!) It's nice to see Anton having a fantastic partner to dance with at last!!!! I personally think that Laila's best dance was the cha cha cha even though the judges dont agree with me, I thought she did really good new yorks and had nice strong arms. I have high hopes for Laila.

Craig Kelly was my dad's best friend for a long time so I better watch what I say. I thought him and Flavia have a good connection, I especially like the Tango it gave a very interesting twist to the dance which I think is always fun as it makes it more exciting to watch. I was very relieved that Craig went through! So Craig if you are out there and have read this please consider me to be on the guest list ;)

So my best dancers so far are Laila and Anton but I dont mind who wins, they are all brill. The worst dancer was Richard Dunwoody who is now out!

At the moment I am learning the jive and formation cha cha cha. I am hoping to find a dance partner who is the right size for me and who wants to go far in their dancing because I want to be on Strictly one day! I have just got 3 highly commended dances for the quickstep rumba and samba so I am very happy about that!

That's it for me today folks but make sure you look out for more Simon says..."