Monday, 29 October 2012

Points from Paula

Well, we haven't had a guest blogger for a looong time so we thought we'd treat you. Paula Willis is a friend of mine & I always enjoy her Facebook commentary on SCD each week so I suggested she puts her thoughts together in a strictlified extravaganza of a post. So here she is...Enjoy!  - Clover. 

Several snarky and/or opinionated Facebook posts have been enough to prompt an invitation to guest-blog from Clover. Given that it was a Hallowe'en-themed night that kicked off with a  burst of Gangnam Style, I guess inviting your K-pop obsessed Goth friend to comment couldn't be better timed. I don't hate theme weeks so long as the theme doesn't overtake the capabilities of those who actually have them. I get annoyed if there are too many of them but Hallowe'en is fun, in my eyes, and people who are going to try to lark about and waste time with props will find a way to do it, even if there isn't a theme.

As I have no dance knowledge, I seem to mostly ramble about their outfits. I have therefore re-arranged the leader board, rated by outfit, maybe with the occasional comment thrown in on what I thought about the dancing.

1. Kimberley and Pasha

A modern paso that worked! And an instance where I feel having the Hallowe'en theme and therefore the excuse to do something a bit OTT helped. There was no way this would have happened otherwise, or at least not so overtly. She looked gorgeous, he looked creepy. Ok, I lived in Newcastle for five years, so I'm Geordie-biased and I think Pasha's a sweetie, but I felt like this was the best example of everything coming together. They were telling a specific story and matched the costume and music to it. It was well-acted through the dancing, not just in addition to it.

2. Victoria and Brendan

Goth suits you, Victoria. I think she should permanently come over to the dark side. We all know Brendan is evil, so it was no surprise the undead badboy look worked for him. Glad there were no wardrobe malfunctions this week – those eyelashes could easily have got tangled around something, and a supervillain with a large magnet could have ruined the whole thing. Team Heebie-Jeebie was my favourite pun of the night although I'm aware that that's not saying much...

3. Lewis and Flavia

Yaaaaaay, ruffly cuffs! There should be more lace cuffs. I vote for lace cuffs and cravats every week, minus the dusting of talcum powder. Flavia's dress was very pretty but not very Hallowe'eny, though as she was the poor, innocent victim, I guess we can forgive it. Plus her eyeliner rocked. I disagreed with Bruno that the transition between character and dancing was seamless, it was a bit like 'rawr rwar., shuffly monster.... And into hold, one is dancing!' But it was bloody good anyway.

4. Dani and Vincent

This could be a controversial placement and I can see why. I knew they were doing Scooby-Doo. I  had seen it on 'It Takes Two.' Even if I hadn't, Dani's look was fairly iconically Velma. Nonetheless, it took me a while to figure it out as for several moments I was unable to process any thought other than Blond-wig-blond-wig-ohmygod-blond-wig. It got the show off to a fairly alarming start. The horror of that aside, I really liked the outfits. Yes, sandals and socks are one of the Seven Deadly Sins but there are times when you can be a bit sinful, and Hallowe'en has got to be one of them. I felt the costumes really conveyed the characters that they were supposed to whilst still looking like Cha-Cha costumes. A bob really suits Dani – her shoulders aren't generally flattered by halternecks but the hair somehow managed to either balance her out or cover it up.

I thought the dance was a little bit cute or careful for a Cha-Cha but for a children's tv presenter dancing to a children's TV theme tune, maybe that was best. If she had been giving it all that with the hips like a dirty Cuban mama, I think my childhood might have felt violated. She got some fast footwork in there to show that she had the capability. And they didn't feel the need to have a Great-Dane run on and leap into Vincent's arms at the end. which was a relief.

5. Denise and James

During the bits with Tess, I kept wondering who was sat between Iveta and Kimberley. It took me forever to work out that it was Denise. Apparently, I hadn't really clocked her as she came down the stairs. She looked like a man in drag. The cage and the chair, whilst the latter was executed well and was probably amongst the best parts of the routine, really didn't help shift that image. In fact, it forced me to come to the conclusion that she had been replaced by someone from a drag cabaret show. They're quite high up because I happen to like drag cabaret shows but I don't really suppose it was what she was going for. Maybe she was abducted by the people they went to visit for calling them 'circus freaks,' which I don't think is really what they like to be called... It explains why the dancing was off this week and if you listen to Bruce's intro, he definitely says 'Denis.'

6. Lisa and Robin


That put me in a bad mood before they began, although it does get me onto thinking whether Robin might really be a wizard. I do not like body-builder, overly muscular men. Normally. But I just find him utterly adorable in every way and kind of want to take him home. Now I know why. He has Confunded me! Whilst at Hogwarts, they drank a dance potion, which it seems quite likely would exist in spite of not being mentioned specifically in the books, as various potions are known to enhance one's natural abilities (probably banned in competition though) and the only spell we know of that relates to dancing is a jinx rather than an enhancement. I love it when Robin tries to do geeky. It's just so incongruous. Yes, that is all I have to say on the costumes. They were fine and whether or not things follow Harry Potter canon is much more important.

I have been to about two beginners Charleston classes and was in no way a natural (I cannot cope with different parts of my body needing to do different things at the same time) but I could have done everything in that dance, which places it way below her usual standard. In reviewing it for this blog, I watched it muted, and it worked much better, leading me to think that their vile choice of music didn't help.

7. Nicky and Karen

Apart from the Gothstick, Karen was not very Hallowe'eny. She does lots of pouting and winking at the cameras and, whilst I'm aware she's putting on a persona, I do wonder whether she takes herself a bit too seriously. She was supposed to be his creepy Frankenstein's creation and so much more could have been done with that. It may not have been her decision, after all the girl in 'Weird Science' is your fairly standard sexy female human shape, I just felt like it was a shame she hadn't joined in the game of dress up. I liked everything Nicky did with it though, the overall concept was good and she had the best evil laugh.

8. Natalie and Michael

I didn't realise until she stood still that it was a playing card, not a phantom mask. The wonder of a quick change is usually being utterly mystified as to how that one dress turned into the other one, so it did not have the wow factor as a magic trick but it was a cute inclusion to set the scene.

I thought it was positive that he and whoever else did so well whilst Lisa slipped down the board a bit. Don't get me wrong, I love her and want her to do well, and I think he has seriously limited potential. But after a bad start, some people have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good. There was a real shake up of the leader board this week, which I felt showed the judges haven't got so stuck on their opinions of people that they cannot be shifted.

9. Richard and Erin

I'd say this was the least Hallowe'enified performance. That's not necessarily a bas thing, especially as pop music pasos usually fall flat, in my eyes (as noted, Kimberley's was a pleasant surprise). The costumes were pretty classic, with a nod to the fire and brimstone colour-scheme. Erin's make-up was nicely dramatic, although with the jagged eyes and orange blusher it reminded me more of a carved pumpkin than Evil Incarnate. But maybe that's what they were going for. Whilst he performed the steps vaguely competently, he did not have the presence or the.... the stompiness to live up to the music.

10. Sid and Ola

That is one damn sexy Ghostbuster! Ola, obviously. Sid might have been better in a proper 'busters boilersuit. Although, once they dropped their proton guns there wasn't anything that Ghostbustery about them. Maybe that was why they kept hold of them for so much of the routine... Ola's make up was pretty but seemed to suit an alien concept more. It rather felt like the costume and make up departments forgot about them until the last minute. Although badly executed, at least they had a concept which was clear and was there, apart from the freaky green make-up (maybe it was goo splatter?) which is why they aren't quite down at the bottom.

11. Colin and Kristina

Why are we suddenly allowed lifts in a salsa? Is it because it's a “theme week”? This was confusing and annoying. I felt like he'd spent more time on those than the basics, which meant he didn't do them with enough oomph. When you do Latin without oomph, it very quickly goes into dad at a disco mode. I still don't understand why they made this a partnership, other than the problem that they had two tall blokes and only one tall women, and – after preliminary testing – found that he would cope better than Michael. However, every dance they do looks like its been filmed using the forced perspective technique used in 'Lord of the Rings.' You will note that this is not really about costume. That's cos there wasn't really any Hallowe'eny dress up worth speaking of. I know there's a limited number of spooky songs to go around but, apart from the otherwise illegal lifts, this was the least themed of the night. I like Kristina's little mask though.

Artem's costume inspiration?
12. Fern and Artem

I got a bit confused in the run up to this one. I knew they were dancing to 'Killer Queen' and all I could see was Artem's leather vest and Fern's headband. I wondered whether they were going with a Khal and Khaleesi theme from 'Game of Thrones' but that seemed a bit niche and her headband seemed more Xena, Warrior Princess. When it cut to a long shot, I realised she was just being a Generic Evil Queen. That'd be fine but it didn't really explain who Artem was supposed to be, and he definitely had that Dothraki Man Warrior vibe going. My best guess is that wrapping Artem in leather except for his chest is always a popular choice that gets a few votes.

I didn't think the dance was as limp as it seemed. It was a smooth elegant foxtrot. The trouble was, they had chosen some pretty punchy music to go with it, so she needed to live up to that. Maybe she should have taken a leaf or two out of Daenerys Targaryen's book - it might have added some kick if she'd had to eat a horse's heart or just paused, mid-performance, to scream in Craig's face 'Where are my dragons?' Confusing costume concept and suspected cheap chest trickery leave it in last place. 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Halloween III - The Theme That Would Not Die!

Big guns
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the TV on a Saturday night...the Halloween theme week is here! Here we are with a third Halloween week, we've really not enjoyed the last two (too many props and gimmicks, wasted dances) but I'm going to go into this with an open mind, not sure about Clover. Anyway, the opening pro number to Thriller was pretty spectacular, I'm all for a massive set-piece to start it off!

I sat down to watch. An eerie set, zombiefied characters, creepy music. Just what I was expecting. But no sign of Derren Brown. Whaddya mean Apocalypse was last night? This is Strictly? Are you kidding moi? Little known factoid: Derren Brown was once a cha cha champion. I'm sure I read it on a blurb somewhere. Shame he wasn't there really. He could have hypnotised some sense into the producers. 

Oh, I'm not a fan of theme nights and I never will be. I be knows some of youse like all the bombast, theatrical or otherwise (yes, channeling Gladstone again) , but it's not my thang. Innit. PS. I'm feeling grumpy today. 

Dani and Vincent

Well we're not off to a good start gimmick-wise, not sure what they did to deserve this combination! Vincent has a dead hamster on his head and Dani is forced into the travesty of under-the-knee-socks. But there was a perfectly respectable cha-cha hidden in there under the themeing, hopefully it'll keep the lovely pocket people in for another week.

Vincent looked like David Walliams poking fun at Dennis Waterman on Little Britain. If it weren't for the ridiculous costumes and music I think I would have liked this. They are much cute and she has much dance potential. I'll stop there on a high, should I?

Richard and Erin

Now these are nice Strictly Halloween outfits, Erin in particular looks amazing! Oh my word and they're using the Satan music, for me I need my paso doble to be completely dramatic and I loved this for going all out. Music! Capes! Explosions! Was quite impressed to see Richard doing some cape-work too, he was a bit stiff but I think the people at home will forgive him that. Halloween week might even get him through a week he wouldn't normally...

Paso Dobles, I always feel, should have an edge of darkness about them (note: not The Darkness - that would be weird) and this one, to its credit, did. And nothing can beat Erin's p-p-p-paso face. It was a tad toy soldier rather than matador in parts - you're not in The Nutcracker, dahling. I'd hazard a guess he might be safe this week - and he deserves to be. Though he looked like he had dipped half his face in Nutella. Or a puddle. 

Lisa and Robin

Now this should have been a delight, but it I was left a bit underwhelmed. It seemed too similar to the jive and cha cha and Robin did seem to be going faster than her for the first time. Ugh, grumpy Halloween, can't even think of anything funny, get them through to do some ballroom again...

Classic-case-of-theme-overshadowing-dance. What a waste. Lisa would have done a tremendulant (I have stolen the word from Miranda Hart. I hope she doesn't mind.) charleston, all twenties-faces and ooopsies-what-have-I-done-nowsies. Love RiRo and Lisa is a very talented dancer. Hope she's given something better to work with next week. 

Sid and Ola

Slightly underwhelming outfits here, considering the amount of effort they seemed to go to with everyone else, they looked like a 1970s Olympics team. Props to Ola for just going a normal cha cha though, think they learnt their lesson with the hideous Rock of Ages tango last week. But Sid seems to have lost his mojo, there wasn't even eyes and teeth!

I ain't afraid of no ghost. But I was a little afraid of this. Let's say it's because of all the upheaval this week but this was not good. 

Nicky and Karen

Loving Karen's Jessie J lips, not sure about Nicky's Clockwork Orange eye makeup - this is a family show! Was actually surprised at how good this was, quite sharp and staccato. Amusingly enough, he seems to be at his best when he's playing a psychopath!

This wasn't horrorshow, it was a horror show. Little literary joke, there. Having said that, it wasn't that bad at all compared to his other efforts. I don't think I was distracted by the rims on his glasses but I think Karen might be thinking - and dancing - along the right lines now regarding choreography. We will see fo' sho' next week when there isn't a theme to hide behind (we hope?!) I'd like to see Nicky keep improving. He's in no danger of leaving any time soon. Armies of Westlife fans will see to that. 

Fern and Artem

Are they dressed Game of Thrones style? I've never watched it, but that's what it looks like inside my head. Still no idea how it connects to Killer Queen, but I think the nation appreciates Artem's outfit nonetheless. Which is at least helpful, because the whole dance was D-U-double-L. I feel like she's coasting, could she be in the bottom 2?

Fern is so smiley that she just couldn't pull off a scary, moody face. It was a credible dance but a tad passive in the Holly Valance sense of the word. Perhaps it's Artem's fault. But then dressed like that...who really cares?! I hope they stay in. 

Denise and James

I spent the whole time being distracted by Denise's wonky eye makeup, I hardly noticed how frightful James looked. Liked how he had her on a chair and then quickly whipped her off it before someone could remember Chicago. It was alright, an actual cha cha but a bit wobbly in places. God, this Halloween week isn't so much annoying as dull!

James looked as though he had fallen into a vat of talc. Or he hadn't been using his Head and Shoulders. This wasn't bad but it wasn't Denise's best. 

Michael and Natalie

Well thank god for that! Natalie forced this to be a good dance, she probably got the electrodes out again. And what's more it looked like a lot of hard work had gone into it, which is what we like to see. Certainly not perfect, but I'll take an unexpected success on a night like this.

People. People, people, people. I'm not saying it was bad. Because it wasn't. But can we just clarify one thing? He was still rushing ahead of time in this dance, the only difference is, in hold, Natalie can do something about it. She can squeeze his hands until they're white. She can utter death threats into his ear. (Disclaimer: not saying she did, just that she can.) That's credit to her by the way because she's practically been a miracle worker this week. To get someone to dance like that who'd previously danced a jive like an intoxicated penguin is quite an achievement. Don't get your hopes up though, folks. As Monkseal said to us on Twitter: just wait for rumba week.

Victoria and Brendan

Come on girl, you've got to nail one! She looks amazing as a corpse bride and Brendan just loves dressing up as Edward Cullen. Ok, it wasn't spectacular, but it was a proper tango and she actually looked like she was enjoying herself. This night now seems to be picking up...

There is no one I'd like to have done better this evening than Victoria and she performed admirably. She's not yet wowed us but she's creeping (creeping, Halloween, geddit?) slowly and surely into the upper echelons of the scoring system. Perhaps she's this year's J - j - j - no, I can't say it, I can't say The J Word. Good job Brendan and Victoria worked the Kate Bush chic well. 

Colin and Kristina

Kristina is brilliant, isn't she? Maybe a bit too brilliant, since I always end up watching her rather than her partner. Not sure he really had a lot do do, and Clover will now rant about how this wasn't a salsa...take it away, girl....

This was not salsa. 

Louis and Flavia

Loving how Flavia looks completely normal apart from a bit more eye makeup, while Louis looks spectacular without being too fancy dress. And it was pretty much a normal tango - and done well at that!

I don't think this was worth all the fuss but really by this point I think the judges were getting desperate. He did appear to be doing some leading however and for a non-actor-type, his performances are always very good. He must be favourite to win at the moment, non? And we so would love to see Flavia win the Glitterball. Still waiting for his Wow Dance. The-first-time-you-go-JEEZ-that-person's-amazing. Eg. Alesha's waltz or Rachel Stevens' rumba. 

Kimberley and Pasha

Pasha seems distinctly under-dressed, like he's going to try and sell me some crappy art in Hoxton. Also, this might actually be the maddest costume moment of the night, why would you put Little Red Riding Hood in a blue dress?! And yet again, under all the pointless themeing, there was a decent paso in there. I'm warming to our Nimble Kimble...

It's a paso. Your partner's wearing a cape. Yet there's no cape swooshing, Pasha? How truly disappointing. Again, credible Kimbobs but not 'wow'. Perhaps there's going to be one of those weeks where they all step up a gear, that we all remember, like the-week-of-Matt's-salsa-and-Alesha's-cha-cha? Here's hoping. So much potential this year but there's an air of complacency. Agree with Frankie re. the dress though. Last minute theme change and panic buying of cape on Ebay, perchance?

See you all next week when it's all (hopefully - please pleeeeeeeease) back to normal. Or as normal as #SCD can be. 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Just like the movies...

So here we are...Hollywood week! Is this just film week in a new dress? Probably, but be upstanding for the least annoying of the themed weeks! Don't prove me wrong Strictly...After the pant-wetting excitement of our trip to the show last week this might be a more sedate affair, unless we get some real showstoppers that is!

Speaking of show-stoppers, the opening pro number was indeed fab-u-ous, although the cameraman obviously has a thing for Kristina. Darcey out-dresses Tess, but only just, this could be a whole new competition area to look forward to! Also laughed at Craig as the Tin Man, especially as it looked like he had a pair of silver knickers on his head!

Fern and Artem
Why do these two always dance so early on in the show? It doesn't matter, because they look so delightful, delightful I tell you! Artem looks strangely at home as an unlikely cockney chimney sweep in a pastel deckchair jacket, who would've thunk? This was positively charming, but could have done with a bit more content. Although it was nowhere near as annoying as James and Alex's infamous hat-on-hat-off Charleston. And woo for the back-jazz-split, it sounds even fancier than it looked.

Victoria and Brendan
Ooh we love a man in uniform, and Victoria looks fabulous. However, the dress may have to be put on trial for treason after sabotaging a national Olympic hero like that. When she put his hat on at the end there was a 'ooooh' in this house, as early rumbas go it was pretty good. Certainly not cringe-worthy, I'm looking all the way back at you Carol Voderman, you've done and rumba and survived, job done.

Michael and Natalie
Oh after that jive last week, couldn't they have spared us and given him a ballroom. And no more props, he nearly took someones eye out with that axe last week. Although Natalie did seem to resort to the 'sitting down for a bit' tactic, this wasn't nearly as bad as it could of been. As in he did the steps. But someone needs to explain the difference between 'hip action' and 'wiggling your bum' to him. It's also a bit distracting when you're constantly waiting for someone to whip their trousers off!

Jerry and Anton
Remember how I was commenting that Jerry doesn't like to expend a lot of energy when dancing? Imagine how I laughed when she turned up in her dressing gown! Well this was all a bit of a lumpy mashed potato, wasn't it? She was also in Batman, wasn't she? Would have loved to have seen Anton dressed as Batman!

Sid and Ola
Ola has brought out the catsuit, a nation rejoices! Sid looks like a 90s volleyball player. The tango part of this wasn't so bad, alas that was only about half of the dance, I wanted to smash that guitar over someones head! Speaking of over heads, why was he looking at the ceiling the whole time? We love you Sid, but that was a horror!

Kimberley and Pasha
Now there's a new trick, it wasn't Kimberley sitting down, it was Pasha! Hope he hasn't got any splinters in his bum from sliding on that bench. Loved her flouncy costume and the general fizzy-ness of the quickstep. Not a classic, but certainly the best dance so far of the night. This is what Hollywood week should be about!

Denise and James
What's happened with Denise's eyelashes? She looks like she's been attacked by two spiders! And that's before we get on to the outfits...I've stopped saying James has the eyes of a serial killer, but that costume is a bit too close to the clown-scale for me. And of course, it was an amazing foxtrot, you know the drill, start complaining now.  

Colin and Kristina
It wasn't Karen and Ramps, I was tempted not to watch it (genuinely, I needed a wee!). But of course I did, and considering all the training issues it was ok, Kristina put together a good routine but also managed to forget half of her dress. The lifts were Dancing On Ice worthy!

Richard and Erin
Erin is in the trousers of DOOM, why is she not dressed as Dolly Parton?! A gold opportunity gone, just like that, shame on you BBC. I did however love the footage of her looking distinctly unimpressed at the Daybreak studios. As for the dance, you can't not do a good quickstep with Erin, it's just not allowed. Thought the footwork was pretty good, lots of content, although he needs to stop doing his Thunderbirds face!

Dani and Vincent
Another golden opportunity missed, there was a chance to literally dress them as munchkins! Dani does look lovely though, a very nice interpretation of the outfit. And those shoes Vincent brought for her? I wore those exact ones in blue to Strictly last week! This was a lovely dance, a lot of work had obviously gone into it and it paid off, well done to both of them. I even liked the dog, I must be going soft in my old age...

Lisa and Robin
They look mental, but endearingly so. Crikey, this was a fast dance, don't think they could have stopped if they'd tried! Kicks might not have been as sharp as they could be, but their syncopation was amazingly good. Can't wait to see more from these guys.

Nicky and Karen
I'm scared...bring back Pasha as Shrek! However, this was easily his best dance, despite the we're-going-into-hold-oh-no-we-aren't tease moment. Probably a bit overmarked, but the marking has been all over the shop tonight!

Louis and Flavia
Pimp slot again, but who can blame them. We've counted this is about the fourth time this song has been used on SCD, but we'll have to let that go for tonight. I know 'the salsa' isn't actually a dance (Clover is looking/glaring at me), but it was basically the dance from Dirty Dancing and not a salsa. But yes, show-stopper all round and not stupid props, huzzah!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Whoops for Fleckerls!

Once upon a time, two Strictly super-fans' luck came up and they got tickets for the howugest SCD episode of the year. This is what happened...

Best dance of the night

Bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and sparkly-shoed, we arrived at the BBC Studios nice and early. Well, what we thought was reasonably early - at least one hundred others had already arrived. We took our place in the queue 'by the tree' (in joke - sorry) and tweeted our presence. Muchos delightos to meet Sharon-wot-danced-wiv-Ian, StrictlyCracker, Gail and others in the queue. Also, Tasha, who came along fer a nosy. Nice to meet you (all) to meet you nice. A shout out too to our 'queue buddies', Sarah and Mum. Hola.

Many, many, many hours later, we sat down in the studio. Now, I'm sure much happened between 10.30am and 4pm but I just can't remember. We didn't see anyone famous and I'm sure as Shirley that none of you care about us handing in phones and nipping to the looby-loo. So on with the beeswax: we had awesome seats. Opposite the judges, about five rows back on a raised platform, from which we could survey all. We had a clear view of the judges, the contestants-in-waiting, the stage, lala. And once we had settled in these seats, we could start to celeb spot. 

Firstly, we saw Lee Mead...and Mrs Bruce. I was convinced I had seen Marian Keyes. Frankie was dubious I could tell from the back of her head, to which I replied "You can tell by her nod!" (You actually, actually can.) OK, so I was a little starstruck because she is one of my favouritest, favouritest people. Like, ever. We overheard some lovely, twinkly Irish vowels even if we couldn't tell what she was saying. Jimi Mistry was sitting two seats directly in front of us too. I now know the back of his head as good as I know anyone's. I wish I could say something special about it but to be honest with you, it was really a run-of-the-mill type of back of head. 

The first thing to be recorded was the Scissor Sisters segment later to be squished into the results show mashathon by production bods. Warm-up guy egged us all along whooping and chooping and cheering. We clapped 'til our fingers bled (was it the Summer of '69?) and generally had a Kiki. We think. The sisters-they-call-Scissor said it meant to...have a have a good time... Mental note to check Urban Dictionary. They not that innocent. Brucie sang a song, Tess had a natter and the cameras started to shake rattle roll.

Once we went live and kicking (got the theme tune to that stuck in our heads whilst waiting outside. 'Tis what happens when you grew up in the 90s.) and the celebs walked the spangly staircase into the studio, the first couple to perform was Nicky and Karen. Now, it didn't look too bad from the waist up, though slightly tragically trying to be street or sumfink. Len's face looked like a grumpy prune throughout so we could tell he didn't like it. Having watched it back on iPlayer, I'd be inclined to agree. The squillions of Westlife fans will be keeping Nicky in the competition for quite some time so there's no need to worry for him, however.

Colin and Kristina performed a lovely Viennese Waltz and proved that he has potential in ballroom as well as latin. The height difference between the pair is very odd, however. Colin did well not to stoop but if Jerry Hall insists on calling him a 'long, tall drink', then Kristina must be...a single shot of espresso. If these guys don't do a Bond themed dance for Hollywood week, I'll eat my glittery heels. 

Dani and Vincent, dinky of Lollipop Guild proportions, did a nice little salsa. I'm not going to rant about salsa on the show in general (I'll be here all night) but having said that, this wasn't too bad as far as Strictly goes (we won't mention the song.) The routine was so full of energy it looked as though they were positively luminous. Though more than likely that was the light reflecting off their costumes. We couldn't see any of the dancers' legs or feet whilst they were doing the routines. When Vincent attempted the tricky lift, at one point, it looked from our perspective that he had dropped her. As she popped up a couple of beats later, beaming and squiggling, we assumed it was deliberate. Phew. 

Fern looked lovely in red and danced a credible Viennese Waltz. Close up, her face is even more smiley. Richard's shirt scared me. It might be campest thing I have seen since the ruffles on Julian Clary's samba costume in series two. This was a bit like a flashback. I expected maracas. Spent a considerable amount of time wondering if his quiff was made of his own hair or if it were stuck on with glue.

Now Victoria deserves her own paragraph. We gave extra whoops and cheers (and Frankie gave double thumbs up) and she did such a good job. Everything is safer in hold. And she got to wear a poofy princess dress, which, after the interesting genie-in-the-bottle pants, was a relief. The judges said she had lost her nerves - I doubt that's true, you could still see it in her face, and they don't just disappear anyway (!) - but what an improvement. Everyone was delighted and the whole studio erupted into applause. Love this couple. Much potential. Keep voting!

Now Michael. Oh, Michael, Michael, Michael. When I first saw him with an axe, I thought he might be dancing to I'm a Lumberjack. It's a good job he didn't because he certainly wasn't OK. This was - quite unfortunately - doomed from the very moment of the out-of-time fake chopping of fake tree. Kudos for enthusiasm, of course, but if said enthusiasm causes one to execute oneself like an electrocuted tarantula, one ought to consider if it's worth it. 

Louis and Flavia danced a delightful Viennese Waltz too. Judges said he needed an emotional connection with Flavia (cue acting class) and if you listen carefully when Len describes fleckerls, the cheers in the background are us. Whoop whoop! Frankie says that Flavia looked like a sugared almond. In a good way. Denise and James' jive was the absolute dance highlight of the night. We couldn't see her footwork (except when her feet were flying up in the air) but it was so full of buzz, you could just tell it was good. Watched it back on iPlayer and it looks even better. They're the couple to beat at the moment. Let's cling to the possibility that James gets what he should have done with Pamela. Uno Glitterball. 

Johnny next - the question being would he B. Goode? (groan) He did his best but his character just isn't big enough to carry him forward a la John Sergeant. It was quite obvious to me that he would go (Johnny) go, go, go. (groan x 2) Only had he ended up in the dance-off with Michael, would he have had a chance of survival. Sid and Ola's dance was not salsa in any shape or form. It also wasn't all that great. Think he's gonna be a ballroom chappie but, to be fair, he did have a beaming smile on his face throughout the whole routine and took his critique like a maaan. Wouldn't write them off yet.

Kimberley and Pasha's foxtrot looked fine from our seats, if a wee bit raggy-dollish in parts. The judges said their expectations of Kimberley are high which is a little harsh - it should be a level playing field. . Wouldn't argue with the points but cut her a little slack on the comments, judges! Darcey is proving to be an excellent judge - always a positive (in a non-patronising way) and always gentle constructive criticism. Hear hear! The highlight of Jerry and Anton's dance was...much to my dismay...Anton. As much as he annoys me, his face is a picture. He sure can sell a foxtrot.

Lisa fizzed onto the floor like a sparkly parma violet. The best thing about seeing this routine in the flesh was Lisa's face - it looked as though she was trying not to giggle. Would love to know if this was true. This was lovely - light and pretty yet still retained some of that fab-u-lous Lisa and Robin character.

The patchwork of recordings for the results show was all confusing and it was sad to see Johnny go (but not all that unexpected...) The whole day was amazing (still not sure if it's real) and I'd urge you to keep keep applying for tickets because there's nowt like seeing it with yer own eyes. 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Get into the groove...part 2!

It's time to do it all again, got your Strictly snacks and spangle-ometer ready? This is your Saturday nights from now until Christmas so get on the sofa and get used to it. Thankfully, it's our second evening of random surprises as eight new celebs head out to the slaughter *ahem* dancefloor...

Thankfully, we're treated to a classic bouncy pro number to kick things off with great costumes. Although I did spend a lot of it watching to see if Ola kicked James in the face. Tess continues with her random dresses, tennis season is over now dear. We also continue with the revelation that someone whose full name is Marnie Mercedes Darcey Pembleton Crittle is, gasp, a bit posh!

Kimberley and Pasha

Well she's got a spangle-licious dress, so that's a good start. Could have been a few inches shorter though, this is a cha cha afterall. Everyone expects her to be good, and this was a perfectly serviceable start. Plus she's got the popstar skill of being able to smile and sell it no matter what, if Pasha had fallen on the floor she'd have kept that grin and wiggle going! Think sevens might have been generous, but it must have been good because it distracted me from Pasha's awful hair!

She's down to be this year's Holly Valance or Kara Tointon, but thank heavens, seems to have more personality on the dancefloor than both put together and shaken up in a cocktail with Rachel Stevens. I enjoyed this. The colourful dress helped.

Sid and Ola

Only one person voted him to win in our poll. Was it Patsy Palmer? His mum? Well, you mean SCD fans, he just managed to do a decent waltz. I'm gonna send his mum around to shout at you all. Or maybe Ola to kick you in the face. Not sure about Ola's dress though; part ballroom underskirt, part latin, part genie of the lamp.

Who'd have thunk it? This was quite lovely. Doesn't stop me thinking his latin is going to be as cheesy as Gorgonzola on granary toast but Jason camped it up and got away with it. Unless he's got more to show us and he's an inner latin dance god too. Stranger things have happened. Maybe not. 

Johnny and not-Aliona

Yes, we all know what happened, Aliona got broken and they brought a spare in from round the back. I love it when people sing along to the music, I don't think I could help it myself. He certainly got through the dance, there were plenty of basic steps and he was in time to the music, in a way it was a bit scientific actually.

Yes,we all know what happened. Aliona was so angry at having to dance with the token old guy that she sabotaged her own chances in the competition. OK, I jest. Or do I? 

Dani and Vincent

Go Team Smurf! Was quite surprised they gave her a ballroom dance for first week, but off they went and did it. She did look nervous and it seemed to tighten her up a bit, but Vincent put a lovely routine together without resorting to his ambidextrous eyebrows. Although, to be fair I am just marking time until she gets to bounce about in a Latin and hopefully we have Louisa Lytton mark 2 on our hands.

Oh Wee Vincent! It's like you have your little Louisa back! These two are so cute. They are like buttons. Or bunnies. Love them like peaches and cream.

Lisa and Robin

Wow, Robin's been rolling around the glitter again, not sure there's actually a vest on under there! And crikey, what a routine, I couldn't type because I kept shrieking with laughter, what a pair. And there was indeed a fair bit of cha cha in there, plus a load of disco, but a I love a cha cha camp-as-knickers disco affair. The eights may have been a bit over-enthusiastic, but it's only week one and it was such a laugh.

I agree that the scoring was a bit over-enthusiastic but no doubt whatsoever that this was fun - and that Lisa can dance. Her timing was spot on and she looked like she was having so much fun, it just made me smile along too. I keep watching it over and over. On a bum note, I have a feeling that cha cha will be one of the dances that suits her best but I'm hoping I'm wrong on that score. 

Richard and Erin

Erin, who deserves a Oscar simply for wearing a dress and choosing Streisand week one, can surely make anyone dance. Although, she may have hypnotised him, since his face didn't move for the entire dance. If that's what it takes Erin, then so be it. Considering how nervous Richard has been all week it also seems like he's had the most fabulous time, which at this stage can pull you through regardless of dancing ability.

I don't think it was hypnotism but it could have been botox. In fact, the whole routine seemed like it had had a shot of it. Come on, more energy please! Perhaps he'll feel more comfortable shaking his booty in the latin.

Jerry and Anton

Jerry, stand up and stop posing, it's time to do a dance! Yes, you're on this show to dance! Put that drink down! This pair are also hilarious, it's a wonder they get around to having a go at learning a routine. Anton looks weird out of tails, it's like a dog on his hind legs. Could have had a bit more in the routine, the return of the Nancy leg lift brought back unwelcome flashbacks too. Don't think we can judge until ballroom though, always the way with Anton...

They are the only cha cha moves that Anton knows, remember. 

Louis and Flavia

This is the moment we've all been waiting for, isn't it? What a song, what a frock! Louis only smiled for about a second at the end, but also seemed to be radiating a strange calmness that was oddly entrancing. Flavia on the other hand looked like the cat that got the cream, and who blames her. Certainly not perfect, but a very good way to round off week one!

He's got the movement and just needs to learn to control it. Failure to do so may result in Jason-Jimi-esque squirming. Let's hope Flavia can work her wonders with him. We may be looking at someone of Matt Di Angelo potential here. Huzzah.

So that's that, everyone's had their opening boogie (that sounds a bit rude actually). And who would've thunk that Robin and Lisa would top the week one leaderboard? Lots to gossip about for the start of ITT. Who will go first? I feel a poll coming on...

And don't forget, next week we're BOTH going to see SCD live! I predict an uber-long blog post with lots of exclamation marks...

Friday, 5 October 2012

Get into the groove

Are you stupidly excited? Have you clapped along with the theme tune? Have you jigged up and down in your seat? Have you groaned at Brucie's jokes? Have you gone 'huh?' at Tess's dress for the first time this year? Well in that case, SCD 2012 is here!

Fern and Artem

Oh my word, Artem has been taking Robin Windsor hormones? His chest is as wide as...something really wide. As an opening cha-cha this wasn't that bad, ok she went wrong but the recovery was pretty good. And hurrah for a bit of skirt-swinging, unlike Lulu it wasn't annoying but quite endearing. Quite liked her faces too, although they obviously aren't up to Karen/Camilla standards.

Ah, Fern. My lentil-soup contestant (wholesome, remember?) looked like she was having a delightful time gazing dreamily into Artem's arms eyes. Purple dress was flattering and the dancing was OK: good rhythm, good hands, bad knees. And nowt wrong with a bit of skirt-swishing. She's deliciously self-effacing. Me likes. 

Nicky and Karen

Karen's dress scares me, especially near all those candles. Thelma from Gypsy Weddings might have to follow her around with a fire extinguisher...There was not nearly enough hold in this dance, which is a shame because Nicky actually seems ok at it for a first week. Despite being dressed as a goth Matt Smith. Like Fern, a kind of promising start, but not very exciting yet.

LOL. Frankie made me laugh. This dance gave me hope. Karen got told off for the lift and told off for the lack of hold. Perhaps we'll have less of the fannying around this year. And maybe, just maybe, not so many bloody PROPS. I was slightly concerned that Nicky was dressed as though he were an invisible set-changer on a West End show. It's clear who was stealing the show here. Aliona 2: The Revenge? Let's hope not. 

Michael and Natalie

I still have no idea who he is...but wow, Natalie looks amazing. Best ballroom dress of the night, but only cos Erin is doing Latin of course. The battle rages on. This got better as it went on, he looked really nervous and 'OMG where am I?' until about halfway through. Having a bum like a hanging basket is my favourite simile of the series so far...but there's a long way to go.

He looked a bit like Dan Lobb crossed with Andrew Castle crossed with a Dalek but there's room for improvement. 

Victoria and Brendan

There's a lot of expectation on this girl and I have wondered from the start why people would assume she's going to be brilliant, cycling and dancing really aren't the same thing. But then again, whilst there were a fair few bits that went wrong, the bits that went right were quite promising! It was a proper routine from Brendan and she was struggling with the Pink Harem Pants of Doom. Wardrobe, this woman specifically said she wanted to wear DRESSES!

What was with the genie-of-the-lamp pants? They unfortunately are on a par with Lilia's Turban Nightmare and Erin's Monster Munch Dress of Insanity.Wardrobe: take note. We want nice costumes for Victoria - come on, she deserves it. Loved the Studio 54 hair and make-up though. Such a shame she muggled up the routine somewhat. I have a hunch she'll be a whole new person in the security of ballroom hold next week. 

Kristina and Colin

Wow, Kristina can put a routine together! And all whilst dancing around in a Las Vegas - Flintstones - Tinsel themed dress, gotta love that girl. Not to sure about Colin's shirt though, I think we strayed into Pat Butcher fantasyland territory there. Easily the best cha-cha of the night, could he be on his way for a j-word?

Could this be Kristina's year? It was a sound routine, cleverly put together and she has a celeb who can dance. It might be just me, but I'm looking forward to this guy's tango. 

Denise and James

What beautiful outfits, so Great Gatsby. And the only waltz of the night that really held my attention. It was good, of course it was going to be good, let it go people. And all without James' nose exploding all over the place, what a triumph (if you didn't hear, he broke his nose today, he wasn't possessed by an alien lifeform).

Yes, beautiful on the surface but she was waltzing from the Kelly Brook school of FOOTWORK SHAME. Perhaps they've been banking on Len being a bit softer on the rules of late but his characteristic HEEL LEAD RANT was back with a vengeance. And about time too. Oh, apart from that, it was lovely, she's in the running and hurrah for James, yada yada. 

So, six down, eight to go, and it's all looking rather promising for this series. Bring on the rest of them, yah?

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Winning Formula Version 4.0

Here we go again...we're now at the stage where there are things on this blog that are traditional, and I think the fourth version of the Winning Formula post now counts as a tradition, nay, a theory subject to annual review. In case you're a newbie or not-very-good-of-memory, this is the post where I examine the key variables required to win Strictly Come Dancing. It's, like, soooo sciencey *puts on geek glasses in attempt to look cute*

1) Get the party started
The weirdest, yet most endearing of formulas of SCD - dance first and you have a fair shot at the final! Now, it's got a bit awry over the last few years, last year I even painfully considered retiring it - but along came that white knight Harry Judd to save it! (Not in an annoying opening-VT type way, metaphorically) Harry opened one of the live shows and made it to the final, not only that but Holly opened the other and made it to the semis. Maybe if she hadn't decided that she didn't care sometime around week six she might even have made the final. But I digress, celebs, dancing first might make you want to hide behind the backstage vat of fake tan but it has its advantages!

2) Quit your day job
Once again, a really important issue, pros, don't let your celeb go wandering off to do whatever they think their real job is! OK, Harry was still in McFly, but it's not like he tried to do the show in the middle of a tour or something. Chelsee on the other hand kept bouncing backwards and forwards to Manchester for Waterloo Road (I've never watched it either, so the whole thing seemed unremarkably abstract). This year seems remarkably thin on the ground with celebs doing anything else actually, although Richard Arnold will be running the early-morning gauntlet. He might not be a BBC newsreader, but that does oddly-enough somehow seem to be the only manageable day job.

3) Blondes don't have more fun
Here's a variable that tells you something about the British public - they hate dancing blondes and never let them win SCD. Ok, that might be a bit harsh, but a blonde still hasn't won and yet again the blonde finalist came THIRD! Poor Jason, your hair was only matched by your professional-standard eyes and teeth. Denise Van Outen might struggle here, particularly as she just looks wrong as anything other than blonde. Jerry Hall may also face follicle-hatred, but she's probably got more to worry about with Anton. Fern, this may be your time to reach for the hair dye, those brunettes have the upper hand...Is Nicky Byrne actually blonde? Blokes are tricky (as is Kimberley, it could go either way!), oh well, if he wins I'll make something up to suit the formula (that's science for you).

4) Latin fever
And the reign of Latin professionals continues, which I'm sure will be a welcome thing for Karen Hauer. The battle of the ballroom continues, Erin just looks superior in a dress long dress and Natalie is steely for all it's worth - while Anton gurns from the sidelines. Sometimes I think another ballroom pro needs to enter the fray, but then again they all go mysteriously missing after one series. Richard and Michael, you have been warned...

5) Age is more than a number
If I write this will the Press Complaints Commission come after me? People over 40 don't win SCD! They just don't, Jason only managed third and he was one of the people most likely to break the trend, only for the two youngest contestants by far to come second and first! Fern, Colin, Jerry and Johnny, you may face problems, but look at Sid Owen, 40 on the dot and not 41 until January -could this be his saving grace? Cheese does get better as it matures.

6) Embrace the sparkle!
This variable might not be science, it might not be based in empirical evidence, but dammit it's vitally important that you embrace the sparkle! Spangle for all you're worth; glitter, fake tan, teeth, jigging about with glee when you hear your song choice. Prime example: Russell Grant, who spangled his way into all our hearts. I don't want to hear people going 'oooh I look a bit orange' or 'hmmm...not sure about sparkly shirts' - just get out there and shimmy. Lisa Riley has professed on Twitter to now be addicted to spray tans and also wants feathers, that's what we like to see. None of the men seem too nervous or reluctant this year, although we don't have anyone of Robbie Savage My Little Pony proportions yet. Fingers crossed...

So there we are, thesis over for the year and the once again refined Winning Formula now stands like this...

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

I hope Johnny Ball is proud of this rigorous scientific analysis.