Saturday, 26 September 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 25 September 2015

Sparkly Shenanigans!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 19 September 2015

The Winning Formula - Version 7.0!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, 9 September 2015

What a lovely pair!

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

Ainsley and...Natalie!

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

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

Iwan and...Ola!

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

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

Jay and Aliona!

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

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

Jeremy and...Karen!

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

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

Helen and...Aljaz!

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

These two are as cute as buttons.

Jamelia and...Tristan!

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

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

Georgia and...Giovanni!

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

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

Kirsty and...Brendan!

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

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

Anthony and...Oti!

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

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

Daniel and...Kristina!

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

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

Peter and...Janette!

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

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

Anita and...Gleb!

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

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

Kellie and...Kevin!

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

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

Katie and...Anton!

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

They will have a jolly, spiffing old time.

Carol and...Pasha!

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

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

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