Sunday, 22 November 2015

Fifth time unlucky

Week 9: Top 8 Results (Blackpool Week) - 22 November 2015

We open with a pro dance to David Guetta's 'What I Did For Love' (should've been the A Chorus Line one instead if you ask me) that takes full advantage of the towering heights of the Blackpool ballroom by draping lots of fabric and harnesses from the ceiling and wafting all of the women around. Ola is the first to go up in the air, which is remarkably brave of her considering the things she's said about the show in the last 48 hours and how easily it would be for whoever's operating the harness to "have an off day", so to speak. It's a lot of dry ice and contempo-wafting worthy of a showdance or a Karen Clifton rumba, with a little bit of Cirque du Soleil-style aerial contortion and emoting straight down the camera lens thrown in for good measure. Then Aljaž and Joanne do a random and unexpected quickstep down the middle and it all gets a bit more samba-y instead. The routine culminates with the celebrities walking down the steps, colour-coded by gender and really ramming home what an absolute blokeageddon this series has been. Not that I'm complaining. Jay's probably still winning, anyway.

Claudia and Tess emerge from behind windbreaks at either side of the stage: Tess wearing sunglasses and looking immaculate, and Claudia carrying a shattered umbrella and with her hair (/a wig) backcombed like a bird's nest. If, like me, you were too busy looking at Twitter when this particular gag happened, it all got a bit surreal when Claudia remained looking like that for the rest of the opening segment and nobody made any reference to it. Claudia reminds us that one couple (/Jamelia) will be leaving tonight, and Tess summons the judges, none of whom descend from the ceiling this time, which is a bit of a shame. Claudia reminds us that Anastacia will be here later singing 'I'm Outta Love' and that Take That are "in the building", which will prove to be a lie later.

A quick recap of yesterday's events, framed by the judges titting about on a tram. Georgia goes Full Northern as she tells us about having Lancashire hotpot for her dinner, Helen says that everything is bigger and better in Blackpool (oh really?) and Katie says they all need to embrace their inner divas. Peter says it's week nine and nobody's safe (lol foreshadowing) and Jamelia thinks it's great that everyone's bringing their A-game. Anita worries that she hasn't got enough make-up, and Jay is just hoping it all goes well. After their victorious American smooth, Anton tells Katie that she was tremendous, and Jay does a cute but cringeworthy little dance of joy for Aliona backstage after their positive comments and high scores for their salsa. Interestingly we do not see Peter's backstage reaction to his comments this week, but we do see a tearful Helen saying that she wanted the judges to enjoy the dance, and she can't dance any harder or do anything else. I love Helen, but I do fear for her sanity, especially now the competition is getting tighter. Jamelia's pleased to have danced in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, Anita does not get a backstage reaction moment either, and Kellie's so excited about her 10 that she accidentally lets the sprung door fall back on Kevin's face. Georgia cries a bit, and Giovanni pokes gentle fun at her, and there we have it.

The cue cards of doom are out, and Tess has the first round of results. The first three couples through to next week are Kellie and Kevin, Jay and Aliona, and Georgia and Giovanni. The first couple facing the dance-off is...Peter and Janette. HA! I must admit, I thought his fans would have mobilised to keep him in after he was bottom of the leaderboard, but apparently he doesn't have as many fans as we all assumed. Peter immediately says "that's okay!" in a way that suggests it is probably not actually okay at all. (By the way, Tristan has a huge grin on his face the whole way through this, because he knows they're in the dance-off again and has already expended his extremely limited amount of fucks-to-give per series.)

Tess tells Peter that he hasn't been here before (the dance-off, not Blackpool), and Peter waffles on about rollercoasters and the journey and how lucky he's been so far. "I deserve to be here tonight, and that's the way it is," he declares. Asked for his input, Bruno tells Peter that his performance level is flawless, but he just needs to get on his toes and ensure the kicks and flicks (what kicks and flicks?) are sharp. Peter demonstrates, and Bruno affirms that he can actually do it, so that's what he needs to do in the dance-off.

In Claudia's Corner - Now With Velvet Seating! - Claudia congratulates Georgia on being top of the leaderboard once again, and Georgia adds that it's great to be top of the leaderboard up north. Claudia reveals that Jay has tango next week and asks him to give us his tango face, which is more of a catwalk model face, but still. Kevin then has to explain the quickstepathon that lies ahead next week, where all seven couples will be on the floor at once doing the quickstep, much like they would in an actual ballroom competition, and there may well be carnage of some sort. I hope so, these things haven't been very exciting since The Great Ali Bastian Viennese Waltz Demolition Derby Of 2009.

Next we have Anastacia, who is here to sing 'I'm Outta Love'. I think that she may have spent a little bit of time at the bar with Katie before this performance, because it's certainly...eccentric. But it's fun, and Anastacia is always a delight even when she's singing flat and slurring her words, especially when she changes one of the lines "ANASTACIA be the one to let YOU goooo!". So drunk. Also there are some dancing randoms doing floor gymnastics in front of her, which I guess gives the show's pros a chance for a nice sit down.

After she's finished, it's time for a special Blackpool Len's Lens, and Len opens by celebrating Jamelia with a closer look at her quickstep, in particular marvelling at the synchronicity of the jeté in the running section. Len is very impressed that she pulled that off considering the speed they were going at. Darcey has chosen to watch Anita's paso again - not, inexplicably, for shirtless Gleb, but for the detail and the accents in Anita's hand movements. Craig explains his thinking on Helen's charleston, repeating his point that it should have been messier because the whole point of the charleston is about going mad because you couldn't get any booze. Meanwhile, I still feel that "you weren't gurning enough" has no place in charleston criticism now that we have fully moved on from the Hollinsography era. Bruno wants to talk about Georgia and her beautiful spins and the fluidity of her arms. He thinks she looks very balletic. Darcey chips in that Georgia is perfectly in sync with the men behind her at a point in the video where she is...not so much, but that slo mo footage will get you every time. Then we get one last look at Craig straddling the guitar, and we're done. Len's Lens: mostly useful once again this week, well done everybody.

So who's joining Peter in the dance-off? It's not Anita and Gleb, Katie and Anton or Helen and Aljaž (who don't even seem that worried when left until the very end, because of who's standing there with them), so Jamelia is heading for her fifth dance-off. They're stood right at the other end of the room, so they practically have to quickstep over to Tess before the dance off even starts. Jamelia is philosophical about her situation, saying that she's got another chance to dance in Blackpool, and she's really looking forward to it. Len is asked what Jamelia can do to survive, and Len says she just needs to show that exact attitude she's just shown us, and enjoy herself.

Over to Claudia's Corner, where Anita says that nothing can prepare you for dancing in Blackpool, and doing the paso doble made it better because that was one of the dances that she really wanted to do. Katie admits that she would've laughed in Claudia's face if she'd been told at the beginning that she would make it to week 10 (as you would, when given Anton as a partner), and Claudia tells us that Katie has the Argentine tango next week.

Now Take That are performing - not in the building, as Claudia said ealrier, but just pulling up outside. I'd love to recap this performance but unfortunately I don't recap tax cheats, so *fast-forwards*. [Note: I have probably recapped some tax cheats without realising it, but I really don't have the time or opportunity to check everyone's records with HMRC before the start of each series.]

Tess thinks this could be the closest dance-off of the series (spoiler: it sort of will be), and Jamelia says that she's loved performing here and she's actually quite happy to be able to perform it again. Claudia points out that the judges said it was Jamelia's best ballroom dance, and asks Tristan if he's proud of her; he replies that of course he's proud of her, and he actually thinks it's her best dance, full-stop, not just ballroom. Aww, that's sweet. They head off to get into their boxes while Tess and Claudia turn their attention to Peter and Janette. Peter says he isn't sure how he's going to attack the dance-off, but he'll take on board what the judges said about being light on his toes. Janette says that she always tells Peter to go out and give it his all and enjoy the ride, and if they have to go out, then go out with a bang. Peter then chirps up that he didn't want to be here with Jamelia because she's been here so many times and he just wants her to do well. Hmm, even when he tries to be nice he's still incredibly annoying, isn't he? Slay him, Jamelia!

Jamelia take to the floor once again and reprise their quickstep with an impressive amount of energy, and I think the body contact is better this time around too. She finishes with a big grin on her face, which is all you can ask for, really. Then Peter and Janette reprise That Thing That Called Itself A Jive, and it's somehow worse than it was the first time out: Peter seems genuinely rattled and makes a few mistakes - nothing major, but his timing just seems to be off this time. So, if it's actually down to the best performance in the dance-off, Jamelia should be the one staying. But let's see how this goes.

Craig votes to keep Peter and Janette in the competition. Darcey votes to save Peter and Janette, "on their improvement in tonight's performance" (justify it to yourself however you like, Darcey, but don't lie to the British public). Bruno says he would like Peter and Janette to stay on the show, so they are through and Jamelia finally falls. Tess goes to Len to ask how he would have voted, and he says that actually he would have voted to keep Jamelia and Tristan because of their fine quickstep. The audience hollers in approval at this, so whatever support there may have been for Peter, it looks like there was a lot of support for keeping Jamelia around too - and who would have thought that a few weeks ago? (Also how amazing that Jamelia's eventual exit is the first split decision of the series, and that she was only one vote from seeing off Peter Andre?) Darcey has her head in her hands at this point as well, which does make me wonder if she might be slightly regretting her choice now she knows how Len would have voted. Too little too late, Bussell!

Jamelia says that she's sorry to go, but she's had an amazing time, made some brilliant friends, and got farther in the competition than she ever thought she would. Tess says that Jamelia and Tristan have clearly become great mates, and Jamelia says that she could not have had a better partner - he's been so positive and it's all thanks to him that she's made it this far, so she thanks him. Tristan says that as a dance teacher he wants to pass on information to people, and he's so proud of how much Jamelia has learned in her time on the show. Jamelia thanks Tess and Claudia for their encouragement, and the judges for helping her to leave as "a bit of a dancer".

Jamelia and Tristan have their final dance to 'Don't Leave Me This Way (Not With Peter Andre Still In The Competition)', and as the others rush on to say goodbye to her, it's Helen who absolutely tacklehugs Jamelia, so I'm guessing they were quite close. Sure enough, in the post-show VT, Helen says that they've become good friends and she'll be sad to see Jamelia go, while Peter says he's grateful to have got through, but it could easily have gone the other way. Georgia says she'll never forget this night, Kellie feels chuffed to have been a part of this, and Jay says that he will be "tent-faced again" next week, while Anton vows to take out everyone in the quickstepathon, and Anita is looking forward to doing a rumba with Gleb, as would we all.

That's it from Blackpool. Join Rad next week for the top seven couples and the quickstepathon, and the elimination of our first contender, I suppose.

The Peter principle

Week 9: Top 8 Perform (Blackpool Week) - 21 November 2015

So, you guys, I don't know if you were aware of this, but Strictly Come Dancing is in Blackpool this week. I know, they kept it so quiet, didn't they? Apparently they've gone there because it's quite a famous ballroom dancing destination? This is all new to me, I'm clearly going to have to do some research. Thankfully some Blackpudlians are here to explain it all and tell us how excited they are to have the show coming to pay a visit - including one person who's particularly excited that Peter Andre is coming to Blackpool, because apparently there's no accounting for taste. The eight remaining celebs are all filmed stepping across the Tower Ballroom threshold and recoiling in wonder and mild horror at the size of the space they will be performing in this weekend. There's also a "bit" where Katie wonders what's happened to Georgia and Giovanni, and it turns out he's taken her on the Big One (phrasing) under the pretence that it's the fastest way to the Tower. I know Georgia's a bit dense, but surely even she knows that rollercoasters always end where they began?

Special slightly-altered Blackpool titles! In tribute to the Digital Spy forums, I would like to overanalyse the backdrop of Jay and Aliona's footage which contains a lot of windows, which are TRANSPARENT, just like the show's attempts to SABOTAGE HIM AND FAVOUR PETER ANDRE!!!!!!11!!

We open with a group routine which the show has gone to great lengths to point out is definitely Upstairs Downstairs themed and definitely not in any way Downton Abbey-related. Just so we're clear on that. The celebrities are all sitting at a table enjoying a huge banquet [and Katie is quaffing all the champers <3 - Rad] while the professional dancers are the serfs toiling in the background to keep them in the luxury to which they are accustomed. I'm sure Ola, who's playing a lowly kitchenmaid in this scenario, could probably comment on this, but let's not, eh? It begins when Peter (who else?) gets Anton to take his food back because it's far too cold, and then the band strikes up with 'Bills' by LunchMoney Lewis as all of the pros do their best pantomime faces and run around looking frantic before breaking into a lindyhop routine. It being Blackpool, there are also lots of back-up dancers to make the whole thing showier, more expansive and more elaborate, but it does make it that bit harder to keep track of what anyone specific is doing at any one time. Eventually the aristocratic celebs break free from the confines of the table and join in the routine (special guest choreographer Julian Fellowes here, reminding us how the toffs totally saw their servants as equals) with Kellie leading the charge, and then it ends with Giovanni getting creamed in the face after he tries it on with her. That is to say, Gleb, Tristan, Peter and Anton (I think, it's hard to see) are carrying the cake at a 45-degree angle and Giovanni just herp-a-derp-derp walks into it. I know "cake in the face" is a classic bit of slapstick but I'm not entirely sure Jason Gilkison quite gets how it's supposed to work. Here's a hint: it's supposed to look like an accident. This just looked like Giovanni going "oh yeah, I have to walk into a cake now".

Tess and Claudia arrive, escorted by Pasha and Brendan respectively. Tess and Claudia have both gone for "black with sparkles" tonight, with Claudia's dress being slightly more understated than Tess's but both of them looking rather lovely, so well done wardrobe. Claudia reminds us that Jeremy Vine got his marching orders last week, losing out to Dance Off Queen Jamelia, though he does get to be in the audience tonight. Whether he arrived there on a fibreglass horse or after descending from the ceiling riding a guitar is not specified.

The judges arrive: Len, Darcey and Bruno shimmy on to 'Agadoo', with Darcey once again existing in a total vacuum of fucks by doing all the arm movements at the wrong parts of the song. But wait a minute, where's Craig? Oh, there we go: Craig is atop the guitar that Jeremy was supposed to be riding, and the shower of sparks coming out of both ends of the guitar as Craig straddles it makes it look a bit not-for-teatime, but there you go. Still, I'm glad the BBC got their money out of that monstrous prop one way or another. It descends to the floor, and Claudia has to help Craig down as he giggles "get me off this thing!" Tee hee. Tess suggests that they ask Jeremy what he thought of that entrance, and we cut to Jeremy in the audience again, fake-scowling and holding up a three paddle. Ba-dum-tish!

So here are our Strictly stars: Kellie and Kevin, Anita and Gleb (him wearing a Milk Tray Man-style turtleneck to conceal the delights that his actual costume will afford us later), Katie and Anton, Helen and Aljaž, Georgia and Giovanni, Jamelia and Tristan, Peter and Janette, and Jay and Aliona. Shimmy count, Blackpool edition: everyone seems to be doing a little bit, but Helen, Kellie, Kevin, Georgia and Janette are the ones really going for it. Tess says that everyone is "dressed to the nines, but hoping for tens", which is a line I rather like. Claudia reminds us that one couple will be leaving the competition this weekend, and everyone tries not to look at Jamelia.

The couple with the honour of opening the show in Blackpool are Jay and Aliona with their salsa. Tess breathily announces that we've got the music and the costumes, so now all we need are the guests, and suddenly I realise how much she reminds me of Countess LuAnn. ELEGANZZZ! In his VT, Jay reminds us that last week's foxtrot was going well until he fell over his feet and forgot the routine, and then Aliona elbowed him in the face. Also, he received the same critiques he's been getting for a few weeks now about the general lack of action on his face. He didn't enjoy being third from bottom last week, or being left until last to be called safe, so he doesn't want that to happen again. This week they've got the salsa, and Aliona is trying to get Jay to really focus on the character of the dance with his body in the hope that the message will get to his face somehow. She tells Jay that they need more energy when they perform because they have a much bigger room to fill, and Jay promises that "nobody goes home without a smile". That really sounds like the sort of thing my supervisors used to say to me when I worked in retail. Jay says that the pressure is on to meet up to the expectations of Blackpool, and he hopes that Craig will be happy with his face.

They're dancing to 'Cuba' by Gibson Brothers, and the theme is of Jay in a bar getting hit on by lots of girls, but it's coy Aliona at the neighbouring table with her topknot ponytail who catches his eye and then they salsa. Jay's salsa rhythm is good, his legs move easily to the rhythm and he seems very relaxed and comfortable in this routine. As a result, the enjoyment does show on his face a bit more, though it's not exactly a performance breakthrough - you can frequently see him biting his bottom lip either with nerves or through concentration, though as a lip-biter myself I have some degree of empathy. There's a great lift where he turns Aliona in a cartwheel and then goes straight into whirling her around his waist without putting her down first, and another one where he spins her around and around while she sits on his hips that just seems to go on forever. I'm not sure he quite manages the sheer dizzying levels of energy that you need to fill a space like the Tower Ballroom, so it's handy that he's got backing dancers here to pick up the slack, but it's a fun, lively routine danced with confidence and style.

There's a standing ovation for them at the end, and Jay tells Tess it felt "really nice" to be here, and adds that she looks beautiful tonight. I think Tess's knees actually buckle a bit when he says that. Tess then welcomes the band and the singers, though Ant from V appears not to be here this week. Was he just a one-time thing then? Len tells Jay there's no end to his talent - "I didn't know you could make Blackpool rock" (oh dear) - and he feels that Jay has returned to week three jive levels with that routine. Bruno was impressed by the hips, and the "loins on fire". He thinks Jay got the night off to a good start, and he blended so well with the professional dancers as to be indistinguishable. He asks Jay if he did his back in, and Aliona's like "no!" Tess asks Craig if the smile made him happy, and Craig says he thought the armography was good, he loved the hip action and the fluidity, he adored the dangerous lifts, and he was pleased to see some facial expression at long last. The crowd goes wild for this, and I think it speaks volumes to how easily you can create a massive journey arc out of "this guy doesn't smile much". Darcey says that he warmed up the ballroom and he also WARMED HER UP THANK YOU. She liked the flirtatious spirit of the dance and the natural hip action very much.

Jay and Aliona head to what we shall call Claudia's Corner for this week as they're just all huddled behind a curtain, and Jay tells Claudia that he feels really good. Since Jay really isn't much of a talker, Aliona chips in that he was really playing with the dance and enjoy it. Claudia asks Aliona to sum up the atmosphere here, and Aliona says it's "just ten times more, because of the audience" (A+ pandering to the crowd, well done Aliona) and everyone whoops. Scores: Craig 9, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 36. A huge increase from last week, and a good start to the evening in general, I feel. Claudia reads the terms and conditions while the crowd around her start a conga line. Standard.

In the death slot, naturally, we have Jamelia and Tristan. Guys, they're going home this week whatever happens, you could at least have given them a decent performance slot as a goodbye gift. Jamelia was happy with the way things went last week, though of course she and Tristan were in the dance-off again - since this was their fourth one, it's starting to take its toll on her a little bit. She's pleased to have made it to Blackpool though. This week they have a quickstep, and they are going to be dolls in boxes at the start of their routine, so Tristan takes Jamelia to Madame Tussauds for inspiration. He gets her to pretend to be a waxwork to see if she can convince any of the crowd, which I think is mostly an excuse for Tristan to laugh at how awkward Jamelia feels and how embarrassed anyone who falls for it looks. He's got a cruel streak, that one. They go back into training, and Jamelia says she's really looking forward to getting into character.

They're dancing to 'I'm A Believer' and they start out, as anticipated, as dolls in boxes, which looks quite cool. The art department have done a good job here. They escape the boxes and move around in a doll-like fashion for a few more bars, then they take hold and whizz around the dancefloor at great speed. I'm pleased to report that it's actually pretty good - it does look a bit more like running than dancing at points, and Jamelia's dress is quite long so I'm not entirely sure how technically accurate her footwork is, but she keeps up brilliantly, dances with more confidence than I think I've ever seen, and since this is absolutely guaranteed to be her swansong (no spoilers, but COME ON), it's a very respectable performance to go out on.

Bruno tells Jamelia he believes in her totally, and that was a "quickstep of great content and beautiful packaging" - he says she really worked hard on her footwork and it showed, but she still had occasional problems with the frame when she got into the running parts. Tess asks Craig if they can avoid a fifth dance-off and Craig's all "lol no", he thinks the underarm turns were problematic and they lost body contact, but Jamelia should be proud of how much her ballroom has improved. Darcey tells Jamelia that there weren't any mistakes, and she coped very well with a difficult routine. Len finishes by saying that this quickstep absolutely proved that Jamelia deserved to be here in Blackpool.

Claudia asks Jamelia if she enjoyed it, and she says that she's really glad to be here and to have shared this experience with everyone. She adds that she'd rather written herself off on the ballroom front up to this point, but she's loved doing the quickstep and it was great to perform it in Blackpool. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 8, Len 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 31. It's Jamelia's highest score since week four, her highest score in ballroom, and her second highest score overall. Like I said, a good note to go out on.

Anita and Gleb are next with their paso doble to traditional Spanish music (written by a Cuban composer and popularised by a woman from New Jersey). Last week's quickstep went very well (but was still undermarked, goddammit) and now Anita's excited to be in Blackpool, as is Gleb, who has never danced here before and, judging by his record across the Dancing With The Stars franchise as a whole, never will again. Anita tells Gleb (and us) that Blackpool has a special place in her heart because they went there on holiday when she was a kid, and she's excited to show him around. She takes him for fish and chips first of all, which Gleb seems to approve of, as much as Gleb ever approves of anything. We do get to see a look of apparent genuine glee on his face as he sits on a toy train ride clearly made for children (♥) and then Gleb gets his revenge by bringing out an old Rani family photo from when Anita was a kid. Anita is very excited about having yet another fabulous memory of Blackpool to add to her collection.

So they're dancing to 'Malagueña' and Anita is surrounded by shirtless dancers in high-waisted trousers, one of whom is Gleb and...I'm sorry, my mouth just went completely dry, where was I again? Oh, right, so there's a huge sheet of blood-red fabric attached to the back of Anita's equally blood-red dress, and Anita is looking very regal and imperious and Gleb's trousers are very tight, dance and...words? Sorry, this is very hard to recap under the circumstances. It's a really gripping paso - a bit softer and more lyrical than you might expect, but the concept really works. It's nice to see Anita actually the focal point of her own routine for once, and she doesn't waste the opportunity. The whole thing is just so dramatic and bold and there's even a costume change where Gleb PUTS CLOTHES ON (well, Anita puts a matador jacket on him) and I think this is finally the breakthrough week Anita has been waiting for. The crowd screams with delight when it's over, and it feels like the standing ovation is almost spontaneous for once. And to think people said there'd be no fun in Blackpool without Jeremy Vine.

Anita stays in character to walk over to Tess, which is quite fun, and we see her family in the audience looking incredibly proud. Tess gushes "four male dancers, Anita!" and Anita channels Gavin Henson to respond: "I know. Lucky them." [Anita is a goddess - Rad] Tess tells her that she brought the bullring to Blackpool, and I briefly wonder if "Birmingham Week" could be a thing. Craig loved the drama and the Spanish lines, and calls the theatricality of it "right up my Straße" (phrasing - also, this wasn't German, Craig). Darcey says that Anita blew her away, and it was forceful but beautifully classy at the same time, particularly the way she used her fingers to "extentuate" the style. Len says it was full of drama, mood and passion, and he too loved her arms. Bruno says this was not a paso doble for vegetarians because of all the prime beef on display, and he loved how Anita was commanding the whole thing and embodying the heart and soul of Spain.

They scoot off to Claudia's Corner, and Anita squeals a hello to her parents who are here on what Claudia refers to as a "second honeymoon". Anita says it's been very emotional, because this is her mum's dream, and it's been even better for her to see her daughter fulfilling it. Anita thanks Gleb for the choreography, and the scores are in: Craig 9, Darcey 10, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 37 - Anita's first 10 and her highest score to date. Gleb says he's so proud of her, and this was his favourite dance. [I really hoped they'd finally get the #justice4anita top placing they should have had ages ago, but this will do, I guess - Rad]

Katie and Anton are next, and Tess reminds us that they've had a bit of a bumpy ride up and down the leaderboard so far - so how will they get on this week? Last week's rumba was a little rough around the edges but was generally well-received, and this week they have the American smooth to 'Ain't That A Kick In The Head', which is going to be classic Anton and very Fred 'n' Ginge and all that, so who better to come in and give Katie some tips than ERIN MOTHERFLUFFING BOAG! Katie is thrilled to learn from Erin, so they have a cup of tea (/Irish coffee, probably, in Katie's case) together while Erin explains that Katie should be a good fit for this dance, while assuring Katie that Anton wants her to do well and cares about them as a partnership. Obviously I'm 100 per cent in favour of anything that gets Erin back on our screens, but couldn't Anton have told Katie that himself? Maybe this is a pilot for Erin Boag: Dance Counsellor as a new segment on It Takes Two. I say commission it, it has to be better than Robin Windor's Dance Alphabet. Katie says she's very inspired after speaking to Erin, so now she just has to capitalise on that on the night. [I was hoping for Erin ousting Anton and the unlikely but amazing combo of Erin/Katie to be the show's first same-sex dance partnership.  Even more so now we're going to have to suffer an Anton Argentine Tango - Rad]

The routine is absolutely classic Hollywood - right in Anton's wheelhouse, and Katie's too, it turns out. She does look drunker than she's looked in a while (seriously, Katie, open your eyes occasionally), but the whole thing is beautiful and elegant and a real return to Katie's early form. She's clearly having an absolute blast too - it feels like this is exactly what she wanted to do when she signed up, and now she's getting to do it in BLACKPOOL.

Darcey tells Katie the routine was exquisite, and she had film star style from beginning to end. (Lindsay Lohan, perhaps?) She does, however, get a little jittery in the transitions, so she needs to work on smoothening those out. Len tells Katie that she really came out and performed it, and it was a fitting dance for the location - and it was Katie's best dance without a doubt. Bruno calls it "an amazing welcome to the temple of ballroom" (we've been here 40 minutes already Bruno, wake up) and it was like a tribute to the great dancing queens of the Hollywood golden age. Craig thinks it had the elegance that is Katie's forté, but she occasionally looked a bit lost coming out of the lifts, so she needs to learn exactly where she's going. However, if she can sort that out, it's all gorgeous.

Back in Claudia's Corner, Katie admits that she was waiting for the big "but" when Craig was talking (insert Pasha joke here) and this has been the most wonderful dance to perform in Blackpool with Anton. Anton jokes that the top hat makes him look younger and "reduces my age by months". Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 35. Katie's highest score - and also Anton's highest score ever. Just think, a few weeks ago we thought Katie was in a death spiral, but now the AntonTrain 2015 is back on track. Woo-woo!

After a quick run-through of the four performances yet to come, we get Claudia's Comedy Corner, where she's got Aljaž, Brendan, Giovanni and Gleb lined out to test her Kiss Me Quick hat. They make a hasty retreat, and Claudia wonders if her hat is broken. She hurries off yelling "Gleb, I'm gonna fix it!" and three more Digital Spy forum posts about how this would be sexual harassment if Claudia were a man suddenly appear as if by magic.

Up next, we have Peter and Janette with a jive themed around a 60s TV show, which is presumably where Peter has been getting all of his material from. Peter was delighted to get his second-highest score of the series last week, and he's excited to be here in Blackpool. Obviously substitute "delighted" and "excited" for a reasonable facsimile of those emotions as generated by TV narrative machine Peter Andre. In their VT, Janette pretends she's built a time machine to take them back in time to an actual TV show in the Sixties (/the set of It Takes Two shot in grainy black and white) where their 1960s selves interview present-day them about how their training is going. Peter admits that training has been a bit tough this week as it's taken him longer to get the moves, but he's pleased about that because it means the routine is more challenging and complicated. Ahh, hubris.

So they do their jive, except it's barely even a jive at all. There are almost no recognisable jive steps and it looks more like a number from Hairspray. There are virtually no kicks or flicks and the pivot turns are clunky and Peter's free arm is all over the place. It's strange - it's obviously been designed to be a real showstopper, but the lack of content and the poor technique makes it feel unspectacular. Maybe Peter could've done with a bit more time in training and a bit less time filming stupid comedy VTs? [This suuuuuuuuucked.  He was so, so bad, all lumpen and 'yeah, will this do?' - Rad]

Len says there were lights, camera and plenty of action, but it wasn't his finest hour - his hands were getting wide, and the chasses could have been crisper. Bruno thinks the energy and enthusiasm were "top of the pops", but Peter needs to be careful not to lose the style of the dance - the kicks and flicks need to be distinguishable, and Peter had his weight too far back. Peter's circuitry starts to melt down a bit at this point, and he starts saying "Yes! True!" far louder than he needs to, and the vein in his temple starts to pulse, Stressed Eric-style. Craig says it falls at the bottom of the pack of jives we've had this year (which I'm sure will be a relief to Jeremy and Ainsley), because it was heavy and flat-footed and the kicks looked very odd. But his commitment (to the terribleness) was admirable. Darcey finishes by saying that she thought the sprung floor might have thrown him off, but she thought he was in his element dancing on the stairs, and he reminded her of Bruno. Ha! Peter frantically course-corrects, stuttering that he did make some mistakes but they HAD A GREAT TIME.

Peter wanders off to Claudia's Corner, still pattering away about The Atmosphere and The Crowd and The Wonderful Time even though his mic is down. This is an Andre Malfunction Level Six, repeat Level Six, urgent assistance required. He tells Claudia that it's great to be learning new techniques, fantastic, a lot of fun. Claudia asks if it's hard to be told you clearly weren't the best, and Peter starts talking about it being "expected" at the same time as Janette's going on about what a blast they were having. Peter says it's good for him to have a tough week. Let's see how tough! Craig 6, Darcey 7, Len 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 29. Peter keeps shouting things like "still nice!" after Craig's score, lolz. I, personally, am scandalised that Len and Bruno scored that the same as Jamelia, and only one point less than Anita. It was shit! Mark him down properly!

Up next, Georgia and Giovanni. Tess reminds us again, some more, how good Georgia's charleston last week and hypes up this week's American smooth to frankly terrifying levels. Georgia tells us that they are dancing to 'I Have Nothing', which is apparently Gio's favourite song. I wonder if it's his favourite song like Chicago was hers? He's spent most of the week caterwauling his way through the song, so Georgia takes him out to karaoke to get it out of his system. This is the campest Giovanni has ever looked, which on this show is no mean feat. [Also this was the first VT where I actually liked him - Rad]

Their American smooth is Viennese waltz-based, and Georgia descends to the dancefloor on a giant crescent moon, which may or may not have been stolen out of the props archive from Over The Rainbow. Also, Georgia has a load of daisies in her hair, which doesn't really work for me as a "look", sorry about it. Honestly, I think this is one of the few routines that doesn't really benefit from having the backing dancers, and may well have been stronger without them - I think Georgia and Giovanni are more than capable of filling this whole space by themselves, and incorporating reasons to use the extra bodies on the floor seems to hamstring them more than anything. Certainly the moments where they're alone on the floor and relying on their natural talent and chemistry are the parts that work best.

Bruno calls Georgia "heavenly creature" and says he's experiencing "pure ballroom bliss". He thinks it was fantastic, and her arms were like water. Craig says there was a little mistiming in one of the lifts, but he's going to gloss over it because "the same happened to me the other night, darling". He thinks Georgia is coming into her own, and it's fantastic. Darcey says that Georgia is so graceful that she has to call her "graceful Georgia", and she predicts that Georgia is going to go far. Len says "with the storm last night and your dancing today, that's twice I've been blown away in Blackpool". Only twice, Len? Not what I've heard. He guarantees she'll be top, or at least right up there, because that was a brilliant performance.

They head back to Claudia's Corner where Giovanni sings again, and everyone humours him as best they can. Georgia says it's such a beautiful song, and it's a dream come true to be here. We get a quick shot of Georgia's dad and grandmother in the audience, and Georgia tells us that she's wearing her great-grandmother's earrings and also has her great-grandmother's brooch on the dress, because Great Granny Foote (or whatever name she may have had) was a ballroom dancer. Oh my god, genetic ringer! Scores: Craig 9, Darcey 9, Len 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 38. Georgia's a bit overcome, as well she might be.

In the penultimate performance slot, we have Helen and Aljaž. Helen loved getting to do an aggressive and fierce tango last week, and she was pleased to be (joint-) second because it's such a tough competition. This week they've got the charleston, which Helen thinks is the most difficult choreography she's had yet. For their routine, the gimmick is that all of the backing dancers will be made up to look like Helen, so poor Helen gets saddled with a comedy VT where she plays four separate versions of herself, a bit like Kylie's 'Did It Again' video. One of them is obsessed with Aljaž, one is always asleep, and one just looks a bit surly (the other being Original Helen, obviously, who presumably is an amalgam of the others). Eventualy Aljaž tries to escape but is overwhelmed by Helens, and all of you Freudians out there can do what you wish with that mental image.

They're dancing to 'Anything Goes', and Helen looks very 1920s glamour, while Aljaž is wearing a white t-shirt and a paisley neckerchief that makes him look like he should like he should be playing the heroine's GBF in a romcom set in a fashion magazine. Interestingly, for all that Helen's stiffness has been criticised in the past, she adapts really well to the bendiness and flexibility of the charleston - she has a good natural swivel and seems really relaxed in the routine. The four Helens arrives while Aljaž inverts Original Helen around his neck into a slightly ungainly helicopter lift that she lands out of rather awkwardly. Helen's energy throughout is great, however, it's very Little Vicki Valentine, which I feel has always been her destiny to some extent. A few of the kicks toward the end of the routine are out of sync, as is the brief chorus line section, but then An Army Of Helens appears on the screen behind them and for the most part Helen does a good job of keeping in time with her pre-recorded self. This is all very bizarre to watch, and yet somehow still very Helen. The ending is a little underwhelming too: Aljaž lifts her onto his shoulders and then it finishes.

Tess confirms that she is indeed talking to the real Helen, and Helen thanks the professional dancers who worked so hard to be just like her. Craig thinks the routine lacked a bit of quirk and needed to be messed up a bit. He felt it was too controlled and placed, and Helen should have gone madder and wilder and uglier with it. I don't agree, and I'm also slightly surprised at this sort of charleston critique still existing in a post Sophie Ellis-Bextor world. Darcey goes against Craig and calls it a "classy charleston" - she loved the tap sequence and the mirroring. Len thinks it was full of vim and vigour, but there was a bit too much side-by-side, and he would've liked them to do more in hold or together. Bruno calls it "sassy and glitzy", saying it was like a show-stopping number on Broadway. He thinks Helen is a precise and clean dancer, but asks Helen if she went off on the wrong foot at one point, and she clarifies that no, it wasn't the wrong foot - she tripped on a step. Bless.

In Claudia's Corner, Helen says that she loved the dance and really enjoyed just trying to do something completely different for a change and focusing on the performance rather than the technique. Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 9, Len 8, Bruno 9 for a total of 34. Again: Len really thought that was worth the same as Peter's jive? Helen's relieved, she was expecting sixes. In Blackpool? Helen, you absolute darling, you would have needed all of those pre-recorded Helen's to fuck up the routine in entirely different ways to get sixes here. And even then you'd probably still get a seven from Bruno.

That leaves Kellie and Kevin to close the show with their quickstep. Kellie admits to having been a bit overwhelmed last week when they got that nine from Craig for their 90s hip hop samba, which I found strangely enjoyable despite the circumstances. As part of their training, Kevin takes Kellie to the Winter Gardens in Blackpool to watch the quickstep championships, and predictably the whole thing becomes a bit more about Kevin than Kellie as he starts reflecting on what a special place it is and how many championships he's won there. Kellie's just impressed at watching them all going around the dancefloor at the same time, and how smooth and effortless all the other couples made it look. Nobody mentions this, but it's also a really good primer for next week's quickstepathon. Good forward-planning, Mr Clifton.

They're dancing to '9 to 5' by Dolly Parton, doing a bit of feminist role reversal by having Kellie as the all-powerful boss running rings around the male secretaries and Kevin as her fawning personal assistant. I just assumed it would be the other way around, given Kevin's tendency to frame things in a rather twee, throwback sort of way, so this is a nice change - although the styling is still very 1950s, but one step at a time, right? This is another routine that's hampered slightly by what the backing dancers are doing - here they're wheeling tables around the room, which wasn't a good idea in Deborah Meaden's Viennese waltz and still isn't a good idea now. [I dunno, I kind of liked the bit where they were all doing side kicks at their desks - Rad] The traditionalist quickstep parts are good, the bit where the male backing dancers form a line behind Kevin with their hands on each other's shoulders so they can all dance as a sextuplet is quite impressive, and the bit near the end where it just becomes a collection of showboating moves is less good, but overall it's a fun routine and a solid end to a strong night of performances.

Tess: "Now that's what I can an office routine!" Is...that a thing? Like, the routine of an office? [Oh, if only someone had done a routine based on The Office - Rad] I guess that's a thing but it's not really the sort of phrase you can build a one-liner out of. Darcey says she made it look like an easy day at work, and it was a wonderful dance to finish a wonderful night. Len says she should file it under B for brilliant. Bruno calls it another outstanding performance, and Craig says it was tight and clean and he loved it. Anyone think we might be running slightly over time at this point?

Claudia congratulates Kellie and Kevin on closing Blackpool in style and asks them if they're ready t see their scores, in the sort of tone that suggests they're seeing them now whether they like it or not: Craig 9, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 10 for a total of 37. It's Kellie's highest score, and her first 10. Claudia tells her that everyone behind her was chanting "10! 10! 10!"

So, let's have a look at that Blackpool leaderboard:

1. Georgia & Giovanni - 38
2=. Anita & Gleb - 37
2=. Kellie & Kevin - 37
4. Jay & Aliona - 36
5. Katie & Anton - 35
6. Helen & Aljaž - 34
7. Jamelia & Tristan - 31
8. Peter & Janette - 29

Looking at it all in the context of the whole evening, I don't think I'd have put Georgia on top, or Kellie level with Anita. It feels right that it's all so close though, and for Peter to be right at the bottom - and who could have predicted that at the start of the competition?

That's it from Blackpool for the performances. Join us tomorrow for the results where, unless something truly shocking happens, Jamelia will be leaving the competition. But who will be joining her in the dance-off? (Also Take That will be performing, ugh.)

Friday, 20 November 2015

This week on It Takes Two, we have learnt...

- Next time Jeremy goes to a wedding he’s going to a waltz. And a tango. And ride a fibreglass horse.
- Jeremy might do the guitar dance for Children in Need 2016.  But probably won't.
- Karen deliberately ran past the judges to distract them during Jeremy’s tango.
- Karen is going to miss having coffee and chats with Jeremy, but doesn't mention missing the actual dancing.
- Jamelia isn’t entirely sure what you put in a cake.
- Janette thinks the last thing she says to Peter before they dance is 'Have fun'.  Peter thinks it's 'Don't mess it up.'
- A few people have told Janette to get married in her dress from Saturday.  It is unclarified whether or not Aljaž was one of them.
- Lots of people call Janette “little peanut”.
- Janette made their dance last week more like an American Smooth than a Viennese Waltz because of the music choice suiting the former better.  Le sigh.
- Janette’s brother Alejandro is also a salsa dancer.
-3800 people have done 'The Strictly'.  I judge each and every one of them.
- Georgia and Giovanni always watch their performance back as soon as it goes online to look for mistakes.
- The fact-checking on the show is still as slapdash as ever because they think Georgia and Giovanni’s scores have never gone down (they got 27 in week one and 25 in week two).
- Kevin was ill on Tuesday so Kellie had an actual day off. She took her son to nursery, went to get her highlights done and did the shopping.
- Kevin wanted his character last week to be called K-Dogg 'with two Gs.'
- Everyone on this show has seemingly now decided a Craig 9 is better than a 10 from anyone else.
- Kellie and Zoe are not averse to chest hair on a man.
- Karen Hardy’s favourite subject at school was maths.
- Karen Hardy thinks the choreography is entirely the reason for Katie’s Latin scores.
- Jamelia knew she would be in the dance-off last weekend, but wasn’t sure who she’d be up against. And she started saying goodbye to Tristan before they even danced.
- Tristan is thinking about giving up dancing in the main show and just going straight to the dance-off.
- Anita injured her thumb in training this week but thankfully it’s not broken.
- Despite getting advice from Anton last week, Gleb ultimately discarded his quickstep tips last week.
- Anita has been struggling a little bit with the caping in her paso doble.
- Apparently a onesie and a set of ears constitutes a donkey costume.
- Helen generally needs a pep talk before each dance.
- Every dance is apparently the best dance to do at BLACKPOOL.
- There are going to be a lot of prop dancers at BLACKPOOL.
- Aljaž can dance with a lot of Helens in 90 seconds.
- The stumble in Jay’s foxtrot was caused by him not doing enough pivots, and the rest of the dance after that was entirely improvised.
- Aliona thinks that Jay will smile during the dance when they do a charleston.
- Katie will be wearing a Ginger number for Blackpool. That’s Ginger Rogers, sadly, not Ginger Spice.
- Aliona and Karen have pretty much the same body shape.
- The Christmas special will feature Harry dancing with Joanne, Abbey dancing with Brendan, Alison and Robin, Cassidy (from The People’s Strictly) with Natalie, Lisa Snowdon and Pasha, and Tom and Oti.
- Someone thought that getting the celebrities voiced like the adults in the Haribo adverts was a good idea.  It wasn’t.
- Janette, like Tristan, used to work in a bank.
- Natalie was bullied as a child. :(
- Natalie flew in to the UK for just eight hours to audition for the show.
- Janette eats at least one banana a day. (Phrasing.)
- Natalie and Janette both love banoffee pie.
- Darcey has judged a lot of hip-hop and street dance. Shut up, she has.
- If Darcey had to pick one of her fellow judges as a dance partner, she’d probably go for Craig.
- Darcey’s favourite dance of the season so far is Jay’s jive, despite the ponytail.
- If Anton gets through BLACKPOOL week, he will do his first ever Argentine Tango.
- Katie and Janette are fighting over who gets Ian Waite in the donkey onesie to be stuck at the top of Blackpool tower with.

- Jamelia has gone drunk with dance-off power and wants to break the record again and again and again.
- Jamelia doesn’t eat breakfast.
- Katie’s husband John is the king of the green room party.

- Kellie’s been off EastEnders all week, so even though she missed a day because Kevin was ill, she’s still had more training time than most other weeks.
- There will be two car-crash group dances this weekend.
- Lindyhop is a ‘language’ these days.
- Mel Giedroyc is going to present the live tour and is wondering if she needs to get her teeth done.
- Louis Smith thinks Peter Andre’s jive looks ‘patty’ and ‘soft’.
- Anton grabbed Louise Redknapp in the shops once.  That can be her inevitable RINGER story when she does the show.
- Guest performer Anastasia was quite happy to mug for the ITT camera.  Fellow guest performers, tax-dodging funsponges Take That were not.
- Briyan McFadden tried to get Jay to come for a drink with him at 2am on Friday.
- Kevin would choose cod over haddock or scampi and is therefore DEAD TO GRIMSBY.  (The correct answer is haddock btw, and Gleb has never heard of any of them.)
- Jason Gilkison shouts a lot and has just got engaged.

- Robin Windsor is not good at sports.
- Mel Giedroyc is rubbish at Strictly trivia and Louis Smith is rubbish at hoopla – not as rubbish as Louise Redknapp though.
- All the pro dancers love BLACKPOOL and know it really well… except Gleb, who doesn’t understand why the sprung floor is as it is, and Giovanni who calls it ‘different’.
- Georgia and Giovanni went on The Big One in the high winds.
- Giovanni goes round singing Whitney.
- The Friday panel of Louise Redknapp, Louis Smith and Mel Giedroyc think Jamelia will be going home, but Louise thinks Katie will be in the bottom two and Louis Smith thinks Peter will be.  Mel wants Anita to win and doesn't care who else goes.
- Joanne is spreading the lie that Grimsby is a 'seaside' town.
- When the Cliftons used to travel from Grimsby to Blackpool as a family, the first person to spot the tower got 20p.

- Joanne had her first proper kiss at Blackpool in the aquarium. Anyone else looking at her Little Mermaid routine with Scott Mills last year rather differently now?
- Joanne and Kevin's parents wore a LOT of spandex and sequins in their day.
- There is a chip shop in BLACKPOOL called Yorkshire fisheries for some reason.

Monday, 16 November 2015

The Vine Intervention

Week 8: Top 9 Results - 15 November 2015

Last night! All the rules of dance went out of the window as everyone performed variations on their allotted genre.  Georgia and Giovanni did pretty much the only ‘pure’ dance of the night… and it was a Charleston.  This show, I swear.  Anyway, they topped the leaderboard and Karen and Jeremy were, unsurprisingly, bottom.

Tonight!  Someone doesn’t get to go to BLACKPOOL!  I am assuming it will be Jamelia, but let’s see if that proves to be the case, shall we?

Cue credits!

Tonight’s opening pro dance is to a live performance from Years and Years.  If we could keep all guest performances to this segment I think we would all be happy. The storyline of the dance is that Gleb bothers Oti on her lunch break in the park by waving flowers at her and then she goes back to work as a secretary for Brendan who sexually harasses all his employees (Oti, Karen and Joanne). Then Karen gets assaulted as she walks home through the park as three manly brutes hoist her over their heads and flash her pants to the whole audience.  It’s nice to see this show offering searing social commentary through the medium of dance, isn’t it? #yesallwomen (It’s OK, though, Kevin eventually takes over the role of knicker flasher/flower botherer because Twoo luv wins).

Tess and Craig enter in blue again – Tess bright, Claud navy with a natty turquoise belt.  Tess says that last night Georgia and Giovanni got 39, three tens and a nine from Craig, which is as good as a ten.  Let’s not even start on that one lest we are here forever.

The judges prance on and then we have a recap of last night: BLACKPOOL BLACKPOOL BLACKPOOL; Pasha looking unfetching in a Steve Jobs tribute polo neck with a Geography teacher jacket [unfetching to you perhaps - Steve] ; some interesting Jay deramping, presumably to create some tension for these next few weeks; Jamelia meeting a bus.

First set of results, and safe are: Georgia and Giovanni; Katie and Anton; Peter and Janette.  The first couple in danger?  An entirely unsurprising Jamelia and Tristan. I am guessing Jeremy won’t be joining them there until BLACKPOOL at the earliest. I am guessing Anita or Kellie to join them?

Darcey says Jamelia knows what to do and she needs to work her hips like she works her upper body. Bruno says not to be discouraged, because being in the dance-off eighteen times means people want to see you again. Jamelia looks like someone dying to be put out of their misery, bless her. I think, even if Jeremy ends up down there with her, that they should let her go this week. It’s kind of getting cruel now.

In the Clauditorium, Georgia is very squeaky as you might expect, and Katie is excited about the American Smooth next week. Claudia asks Peter his ‘plans for the gang’ as he is apparently team leader.  He says they’re all going clubbing and Claudia is coming with them. Claudia makes it clear she won’t be hanging out with this group of funsponges thanks all the same.

If you thought the opening dance was it for special guests, you are wrong. Here’s Brandon Flowers whose latest image metamorphosis sees him wearing Rod Stewart’s cast-offs whilst looking a bit Springsteen. Oti and Aljaž come out and whirl around as he plods through his weird new single that sounds a bit Calypso-y, and given the last song by white people I can think of that used a Calypso sound was that UKIP thing Mike Read did moaning about sending them all back, the whole thing is just… odd.  Let’s just pretend The Killers quickly split up after Hot Fuss and nothing was ever heard of them again, shall we?

Len’s lens this week focuses on the Aida move in Katie and Anton’s rumba; Anita not bringing her feet together in the quickstep but managing a good jeté; Jamelia screwing up and Georgia gurning. A semi-useful edition this week, with thankfully no ‘judges mugging for the camera’ nonsense.

Next round of safety announcements, and safe are: Helen and Aljaž; Anita and Gleb (who look surprised – me too, I love them, but I thought this would be the time for their vote to crumble); Kellie and Kevin (Kellie goes crazy at this); Jay and Aliona. This means Jeremy and Karen are in the dance-off and the judges are faced with a decision: eliminate the worst dancer, or put the second-worst and least-loved out of her misery.

Jeremy tells Tess he’s pleased to have got this far and he’ll just try and dance.  Craig says he knows Jeremy takes it seriously and he sees him rehearsing a lot.  He advises him to try and cover the floor more this time.  Len says he needs to focus on enjoying himself because Jeremy epitomises the joy of dancing.

Claudia picks up on Kellie’s reaction and Kellie thanks everyone for keeping her safe.  Helen says she feels pressure with doing the Charleston next week because everyone’s done well this series.  Claudia says Anita has stories about Blackpool because her parents went on Honeymoon there.  Anita laughs that it was the 70s and says how they went on family holidays there. Jay gets this week’s ‘we don’t want someone to leave’ moment.

Is it time for a comedy BLACKPOOL VT yet?  Why, yes it is – this one centres on everyone putting an essential item in a big ba to take. Jeremy’s item is a donkey, because apparently that isn’t a thing you have at the seaside, but one you have to bring with you from London. [I just assumed it was the horse from his tango. - Steve]

Dance-off prep and Jamelia says she loves dancing with Tristan and they’ve danced more than everyone else (heh).  As they head to the dancefloor, Tristan almost falls down the stairs.  Tess says next week we want Jeremy to come down on a guitar and dance the paso to Bohemian Rhapsody in BLACKPOOL. I’m not sure ‘we’ do, but I’d take it over poor Jamelia being wrung out yet again.

Jamelia’s rhythm and performance are good, although her technique remains… less so – although it’s by no means a disaster.  Jeremy beams throughout his performance although it is beset by the same technical issues as the first run-through.  In some ways, this is where you could do with a double elimination because neither of them are going to improve, and they both at least looked like they were having fun.  Still, that is not how this works, so we go to the judges to see who is going to BLACKPOOL.  

Craig saves Jamelia and Tristan for taking all the notes on board; Darcey says both couples performed well but she is also saving Jamelia and Tristan; Bruno says they were both enjoyable but Jamelia and Tristan added cleanliness and precision.  She looks kind of resigned at that result.  Len says he agreed with this result.  The audience get to their feet and whoop for Jeremy and Karen and Jeremy says meeting Karen was his highlight and he feels they’ve been knocking out people better than them for weeks and he’s enjoyed the judges’ critiques, especially Craig calling him a stork hit by lightning.  Karen cries about how much she’s enjoyed his determination and says she’s going to sneak into Radio 2 to dance with him.

They dance out to ‘Bye Bye Baby’ and it takes an age for everyone to come on and join them.  Georgia says she’ll miss him because he’s the one that got them all laughing.  What, not Peter Andre?

Next week: BLACKPOOL BLACKPOOL BLACKPOOL.   Will Jamelia finally be put out of her misery, or are we in for a SHOCK BOOT? Join Steve then to find out!

Impurity of dance

Week 8: Top 9 Perform - 14 November 2015

Last week! Peter and Janette charlestoned their way to the top, Jamelia somehow escaped the dance off, whilst our first shock button to appearance of the series went to Kellie and Kevin, who dutifully saw off Carol and Pasha. [I'd see off Pasha etc etc - Steve]

Tonight! It’s everybody’s favourite theme week, Week-Before-BLACKPOOL-Week! I guess I should be grateful-after all, having one week of hype is at least better than in Craig Kelly’s series, where every episode was about his journey to BLACKPOOL and it went on forever and we all hated him that bit more week by week. [Yeah, but this means you've also got Blackpool Hangover Week this year, tee hee. - Steve] Our opening VT is all about how much everyone wants to get to BLACKPOOL and Georgia is this year’s recipient of the ‘I’m a northerner, it is my destiny’ edit.

Cue credits! Aliona’s ‘check this out bitches, Imma be the first pro to win twice’ face is something to behold.

Tess and Claudia enter. Daly Dresswatch: a blue low-cut boob tube top thing with black trousers. What Winkleman’s wearing: a blue satin dress. The colour suits them both, although Tess’s top could have a more flattering cut to it. They remind us that next week is BLACKPOOL - assume this is mentioned in every link they do tonight, rather than me having to mention it again and again. [Slacker. - Steve] The judges enter, and Len is still seated following his op.

Our celebrities enter: Kellie and Kevin (dressed in some late-80s style neon getup); Anita and Gleb; Katie and Anton; Helen and Aljaž; Georgia and Giovanni (Georgia being this week’s recipient of the black bobbed wig); Jeremy and Karen; Jamelia and Tristan; Peter and Janette; Jay and Aliona. Again, a respectable amount of theme tune jigging from this bunch.

The first couple of the evening are Anita and Gleb. They are dancing the quickstep, which Gleb describes as like the jive, but a ballroom dance. In that… they are both fast? Their VT focuses on Gleb being a strict Russian and trying to get Anita to do difficult moves. Anita says she is desperate for Gleb to say ‘good job’. Compared to Artem and James, however, he really doesn’t seem that much of a brute.

The quickstep is to 'Don’t Get Me Wrong' and Anita is wearing long extensions that look quite pretty, but are very different for her, and don’t so much suit her slightly punky character. For some reason, they start on a bridge, which is some of the most random and pointless theming we’ve had for a while. This is quite a sweet and pacey dance, although there are a couple of points where it stalls as they try to pull off moves like Anita going through Gleb’s legs. I did notice one or two points where the footwork seemed a little clumsy, but overall, that was an enjoyable routine and the audience are screaming like crazy after it.

Tess welcomes the singers, Dave Arch and the orchestra and we go over to the judges. Len says she’s become a good all-rounder and the routine was fast and clean. He says the footwork could have been cleaner and sharper in places - at which the audience boo him and he gets in his usual strop about that. Bruno says BLACKPOOL is calling her name and it was very pleasing indeed, with a wonderful sense of the good old-fashioned ways. Somewhere, Anton is gnashing his teeth at this, given what happened last week. Craig says her feet tend to turn in a little bit and she needs to bring them together when they should be, and there was a small amount of gapping, however, he thought her timing was excellent and overall ‘well done’. 

Darcey says she loves how consistent Anita is, selling it week after week. And being underscored week by week as well #justiceforanita. She says Anita needs to finish each step before moving onto the next one, but overall, it was wonderful.

The audience remain in good cheer as Anita and Gleb bound up to the Clauditorium. They thank each other and it’s all very lovely. Scores: eight, eight, eight, eight for a total of 32. Anita seems destined to be fairly consistent with eights this series, doesn’t she? [Yeah, I'm starting to think we'll never get the breakthrough I've been hoping for. They seem pretty determined to "nice try" her the whole way through. - Steve]

Claudia tells us about the phone number, with a very bizarre sequence in which The Archers theme tune plays, Kevin holds an oversized boombox and everybody makes ‘get down’ motions. Guys, I think we’ve lost them all. [Still, nice nod to Kellie's old job. - Steve]

Jay and Aliona are the second couple of the episode. Their VT has Aliona saying that she hopes this week the judges will understand the meaning of their dance. Could this be a cue for an acting coach? Aliona leads Jay into the courtyard to find… A bunch of students from the Royal Academy of Dance. [/Jay's old schoolfriends - Steve] This is not the performance breakthrough VT we were expecting, guys. However, lots of girls say that they love him and he’s going to get a 10 (spoilers: notsomuch).

They are dancing the foxtrot to ‘Lay Me Down’. Sam Smith seems to be doing quite well out of this series, doesn’t he? It opens more like a rumba than a foxtrot, and the rest of the dance seems to be a little bit of a fusion (sorry for anyone I have triggered by that word) of the two styles. Okay, it’s not quite as hip-py as rumba, but it does have that contemporary dance wafting that tends to accompany that dance, alongside some of the foxtrot moves. There is also a slight stutter towards the end.  However, it is really lovely, romantic, flowing and emotional. I’m not sure that was one for the purity of dance lovers, but it did captivate the audience and gains a rapturous response.

Bruno says he is always so endearing and he liked the contemporary introduction. He says Jay has exquisitely lyrical arms, and it was going swimmingly well until a slight mistake. Craig says it was a little bland. He said it started emotionally, but as soon as Jay dances properly, his face goes dead and he needs to do something about that. He says his hands were angled at the end and then there was a trip. Darcey says they are going to be stricter because it’s near the end, so they are going to be slightly more fanatical. What, like stanning your favourites all the way to the final, Darcey? Like saving people because they have guns? Like standing up and shouting ‘10’ obnoxiously? Len says it was beautiful and poignant and his script says The Wanted had a song called ‘We Own the Night’ and up until they tripped, Jay owned the night. Turns out this week isn’t going to be one of Len’s purity of dance weeks then. I really thought he might have a strop about that one. [I think it was one of Len's "go with the pre-scripted line even if it no longer applies" weeks instead. - Steve]

In the Clauditorium, Jay says he finds it difficult to talk to Claudia, and he finds it hard to show emotion, but he needs to strain his face muscles more. In the background, Natalie, Karen and Katie pull faces that show their ovaries have been tingled. Scores: six, eight, eight, eight for a total of 30. Len drags out his eight for ages and then looks around the audience grumpily, as if daring them to disagree. Claudia says Helen is dancing with blue material later. Did they get a job lot of it this week or something?

Jamelia and Tristan are up next. The VT focuses on how Jamelia coped with tripping over the prop guitar last week, and she also takes Tristan to the teeny-tiny set of Loose Women, where he is promptly womanhandled by Coleen Nolan and Ruth Langsford and probably contemplates a sexual harassment lawsuit.

They are dancing the samba to ‘A Little Respect’, and the lighting is all neon pink and turquoise, with Tristan bizarrely coming out dressed as Austin Powers without the wig. This is pretty fast and energetic and fun, although Tristan is pulling one of those faces where I can’t tell if he’s enjoying it, or just completely taking the mickey out of it all. It starts okay, but then in the side-by-sides, Jamelia’s arms really don’t seem to know what they’re doing, and it looks quite laboured. Overall, it’s a bit like drunken bridesmaid at a wedding and that’s quite fun and all, but I doubt it’s one for lovers of all things technical. As it ends, Jamelia says, quite surprised, ‘that was all right’.

Bruno says he liked the energy, but they need to be careful, because it gets a bit wild with that much energy, and it meant she missed a few steps. He says the energy and the effort was good, but she needs to be more precise. Craig says her hands were particularly unattractive, expertly on the promenades, and she needs to sort out the ends of her lines. He says he thinks she was dancing with bent knees throughout, and she needs to get on the balls of her feet a lot more. There was some unnecessary grinding throughout. Darcey says her isolations in the upper body were phenomenal. I suppose in some interpretations of that word, yes. She says the relationship between them worked well, but she does need to place arms more carefully. Side note: Darcey’s hair and make up looks really nice tonight. Len says the gyrating was excellent, and Jamelia treats this with the slightly disgusted disdain it merits. Len says she needs to work on her legs, but the energy and enthusiasm were top-notch.

In the Clauditorium, Jamelia says she loves hearing anything positive and she just needs to apply the theory more. She says she does love the Latin and says she took her daughters to the seaside for the first time this year. I kind of feel that that’s possibly an abusive situation, to be honest. But then I am from Grimsby which is near the seaside - but not at the seaside, despite what VTs on this show would have you think. [Also, Jamelia's from the Midlands. The seaside's a long way for her. - Steve] Scores: five, seven, seven, seven for a total of 26.

Helen and Aljaž are couple number four and Tess says that their rumba last week divided the judges. This week they’re dancing the tango, and we are treated to Aljaž shimmying his hips a lot in the VT and Helen practising her tango face, which looks a little bit like a petulant toddler and a little bit like she’s about to burst into laughter at any second. Helen says everyone wants to go to BLACKPOOL and there’s no room to get a single step wrong. Yes, because Ann Widdecombe and Russell Grant managed to make it to BLACKPOOL for that very reason.

Their tango is to 'Hold Back The River' and opens with a lot of blue cloth wafting and some contemporary dance movements, before they get into hold and dance properly. Her staccato doesn’t feel especially sharp at the start, and it looks like Aljaž has to move her into place at first. However, once it gets going, the angles do become more pronounced, in some cases too pronounced to the extent they feel really forced. There are some nice spins in it, although her tango face is kind of ridiculous, like when you face paint a kid as a tiger and they do a pretend scary growl.

Tess compliments Helen’s dress, a red beaded affair, which, coupled with her hairstyle, red roses and deep wine lips gives the impression of a Marlene Dietrich type. Darcey congratulates Aljaž on the choreography and the drama. She says Helen’s face didn’t lose it and she enjoyed the sharpness of the transitions. Darcey says she can see that Helen finds it difficult to keep down and keep her knees bent, but she really did it. Helen looks like she might die of the praise. Tess asks Len if it had more content than last week and then said yes, it had lots of content. He said her head sometimes went too far because he could see Aljaž correcting her and then her overcompensating. Bruno calls it a high-fashion tango and says she looked like a supermodel. Craig says it did need to be a little softer in the knees and she needs to think about where she is placing her centre, because sometimes she places it on a diagonal, which centre in the wrong direction, but he concedes that they work really well as a pairing and it worked really well with the track and he found the lines extremely powerful.

Aljaž looks very pleased when they arrive in the Clauditorium and Helen is incredibly breathless from all the praise. Scores: eight, nine, eight, nine for a total of 34. Claudia says to vote for them if you want to vote for the best meeting on a riverbank since Ratty met Badger. That dance was set on a riverbank? I must have missed that. I guess that’s what the blue cloth represented? [They were dancing to 'Hold Back The River'! - Steve]

Midway through, hurrah, and it’s time for Anton and Katie. We are reminded that last week their dance went a bit wrong, although the focus is more on the aspects of it that went right, interestingly. Their VT focuses on how Katie loves her husband more than Anton and takes him out for coffee. Katie’s husband tells her not to play the mistakes around in her head and to enjoy every second. I guess Anton was too busy teaching everybody else how to dance than to turn up for VTs this week. John then turns up to training, and the dance looks a little bit lazy from the footage we see. Then Anton dances with John, and Anton looks a little bit nervous lest there be gay panic.

There are dancing the rumba to 'Never Never Never (Grande Grande Grande)'. We open with Katie looking like an even more raunchy Holly Golightly - what is it with them dressing her in that style this series? Anton is wearing a really weird necktie thing that looks like it’s going to strangle him. It’s one of those overblown, dramatic, musical theatre numbers, rather than a sensual one, and it’s a bit all over the place, technique-wise, although watchable with it. There are parts where they work really well together though and it looks like this is the ‘back on form’ storyline. However, there are other moments that are incredibly clumsy and feel forced. She doesn’t look entirely comfortable in the costume, which I can’t blame her for, given that the dress split comes all the way up her thigh. Overall, they just about pull it off and the audience scream and whistle a lot at the end. Katie’s husband gives it two thumbs up.

Tess says Katie’s never looked more beautiful and Katie says ‘bless you Tess’, although I’m not sure whether this is sarcastic or not. Len says it was fantastic, and Katie and Anton lose their shit slightly. Bruno says she looks supremely elegant and there was a real Shirley Bassey moment in it. He says she gives him palpitations because she’s always had to miss, but tonight it was a hit. Craig says it was a bit melodramatic - just a tad! He says he prepared that to nothing no and although it was a little bit pushed forward and the rumba walks weren’t quite there, but it was nearly brilliant. Katie and Anton look like they understand every criticism he is giving them, and Craig said overall he absolutely loved it. Darcey loved it too, and Anton says it’s the happiest he’s been in any dance - what, even happier than Fiona Fullerton’s cha cha?

Claudia says that Darcey’s husband John was looking nervous throughout, and then the camera cuts to him and he tries to hide from it, all shy. Anton says he didn’t want to get to bump and grindy with the rumba, so we put some more ritzy steps in it. Good job someone is upholding Brendan’s campaign for no dirty filthy rumbas! Scores: seven, eight, eight, eight for a total of 31.  Claudia congratulates Anton on getting his highest ever rumba score and Anton and Katie on their highest Latin score of the series.

We then have a preview of what is coming up, which involves Kevin doing some unlikely Fresh Prince impressions. Oh great I can’t wait.

Claudia then mentions that you can play the drinking game every time they mention BLACKPOOL, and I kind like them having a little bit of in-joking here, but self-awareness is fine the first time, let’s hope they don’t labour the point throughout the evening, or next year (spoiler – they do, obviously).

Kellie and Kevin are next and we are reminded that they hit the dance off last week, which was Kevin’s first ever time there. For some reason, Kellie is wearing full make-up in their training VT. Kevin says the theme of their dance is going to be 90s hip-hop-however, the clothes that they are dressed in seem to be a little bit more late 80s – although I guess it’s the Fresh Prince who was a riot in bright colours, so we can let it slide. Kevin then turns up to her dressing room in rollerblades and shows her episodes of T-Bag and T-Shirt on an iPad and an interview with her from the Upper Hand days. I remember T-Bag as being more of an 80s thing, but Wikipedia informs me it kept going until 1992, so I’ll let that little bit of period detail slide.  I suppose. Even though 'Boom! Shake the Room' was released in 1993. 

As you might expect with a samba set to that track, the whole thing is very silly, which actually quite works because these two are fairly cheesy anyway. Kevin does look ridiculous in a bomber jacket and baseball cap, but he plays it for all its worth and they mug away like their lives depended on it. There are probably more hip-hop moves than samba, and it’s never going to match the heady days of Iveta and Mark, but they are in sync throughout and look like they’re having fun, which is something. A samba? Not exactly. But when has this evening been about staying true to genre? Kellie fist pumps the air as it ends and they give each other a massive hug. The audience lapped it up, as they have done with every dance tonight.

Tess comments on Kellie’s amazing abs. It’s nice to know that Tess’s old days of lesbian panic have been abated to this extent. Bruno says he didn’t think the blend of hip-hop and Samba would work, but it really worked beautifully and that the timing was excellent. He said all it needed was a Banksy mural. Yes, because a Bristolian street artist fuses so well with a US/Brazil dance combo. Oh my God, let’s not have a fusion/around the world mash up for a theme week. Craig says he was really worried that he didn’t think he’d like it and it wouldn’t be his style, but he absolutely loved it because she was shaking her ‘Darcey bustle’. That seems like… a Len joke? Darcey says she gave a really assured performance and the energy never fades. She says she didn’t like the mix of genres, because the hip-hop moves are more back in the body, while samba is more forward. Craig tells her to open her mind. Darcey says it was still weirdly enjoyable. Throughout this whole segment, Len is sat with a really bizarre grin on his face, but he then snaps that he is a ‘cup of tea in a world of skinny lattes’ and he says he really doesn’t like either ‘babies crying’ or hip-hop. How random. I guess he had to get pure about one genre of dance this week, so it may as well be the samba.

Up in the Clauditorium, Natalie Lowe seems to have really enjoyed that. Unfortunately, she is wearing a really hideous flesh bodice with some glitter arrangement on it. What on earth has she done to piss off wardrobe this week? Scores: nine-at which Kellie goes completely apoplectic, eight, seven, nine for a total of 33. Claudia says it’s their first nine from Craig.  I love it when Craig randomly gives high scores to bizarre dances.

Peter and Janette now. And, the moment we have all been expecting for the whole series, a VT featuring Peter’s kids. Let’s be honest, none of us thought it would take this long, did we? They are dancing to a Cilla Black song, so Peter says he wants to honour the fact that Cilla was a ‘legend’. Janette says bringing his kids into the room will help him feel the romance of the Viennese waltz. Yes, because his kids mugging around the whole time is really going to fit the mood of that dance. Unless she means they’ll be pumped full of sugar, run round in circles and vomit from the dizziness.  That would fit.  Junior seems to quite enjoy dancing with Janette. Princess says ‘give my dad good scores’, whilst Junior says ‘only if he does well though’. I He’s not yet up there with Katie’s eldest, but he shows promise in the ‘damning parents with faintest possible praise’ compartment.

They are dancing the Viennese waltz to ‘You’re My World’ and it opens with a ridiculous amount of dry ice that not only obscures their feet, but pretty much the whole of the bottom half of their bodies. Peter is wearing full tails, whilst Janette is in a white ballet style dress. They aren’t spinning to the extent that Georgia or Katie did, but it’s mostly quite sweet. However, the lighting is doing quite a lot to help the atmosphere, all beautiful spotlights and swirls and cityscapes. There are some really clumsy transitions into new positions in places. It’s okay and everything, but the styling really masked the lack of technique in some parts.

Craig says he danced it well, but it was a little bit too frenetic for him. He could see that each gear change had effort and he thought they were coming in and out of hold a bit too much, and he wanted to see more of the whooshing around the floor - but he loved it. Darcey liked the romance and thought there were moments of ‘Disney magic’ happening, but there were moments where his shoulder stuck out. Tess asks if Len was as impressed as he was last week. Len says no. Fair enough. He says it wasn’t technical enough and it looked a bit too much like an American smooth, and he would have liked more in hold. Bruno says it was like watching the ballroom scene in Cinderella and it was magic. He thought Peter got into the mood of the dance more than in the past and he loved the embellishments. He says it may not have been traditional, like everything else tonight, but he found it effective.

Scores: eight, nine, eight, nine for a total of 34. I called bullshit on those nines. To be honest, I don’t really know what’s going on with the scoring tonight anyway. It all feels a little bit off, but I can’t quite put my finger on why, because it’s not vastly so – I think it’s partly because the dances have all been so damned weird.

Georgia and Giovanni now. Georgia says she was gutted that she made a mistake last week, but glad that she still got really high scores. She says the Charleston is something she is really excited about and Chicago is her favourite film. Not like last week, when it was a song, hey? In training, we see them executing a difficult spin and she hits her head. Ouch. Then Ruthie Henshall turns up to see them in training and tells Georgia how Roxie Hart loves showbiz. Ruthie Henshall says the routine is fabulous and is likely to bowl over the audience and the judges.

As much as I like Chicago, it seems such a lazy choice for the Charleston and a bit too much ‘purity of dance’ for this evening when all the other rulebooks have been thrown out. They are dancing to the breakdown bit at the end of All That Jazz, which is an unusual part of the song to go for, I guess. [It's actually 'Hot Honey Rag' from the end of the show. - Steve] And it’s very traditional Charleston. Georgia copes well with this, and, despite the injury in training, seems to get into the lifts and spins with little difficulty. In fact, these are slightly better than the other movements. It’s pretty accomplished for most of the time and she seems to be having a blast, so even though it’s not particularly innovative, it’s fun and very watchable. When we cut to the audience, it looks like Meg Matthews is there. She would be an interesting contestant in Strictly 2016.

Darcey praises the energy and says it was brilliant. Len says it was his kind of Charleston and he’s going to give her some advice… she needs to take a coat to BLACKPOOL because it gets very cold. Ho ho. Bruno says Fosse is with her and she danced in character. He says he can see that she’s grown in stature and she’s becoming a better actress as well as a better dancer. That feels… Kind of like a burn, given her day job.

In the Clauditorium, Claudia says that it was Georgia’s favourite dance and film. Georgia is breathlessly excited. Claudia then says that the scores are in, but they aren’t. Never mind, Claudia, Olly Murs will fuck up a lot more than this on the X Factor tomorrow. Scores: nine, 10 (yes, Darcey is as obnoxious here as she was last week), 10, 10 for a total of 39. Georgia keeps screaming and spinning and can’t quite believe it, and Kellie has to hold onto her so she doesn’t fall over. Georgia then grabs Claudia into a massive hug. Claudia warns is that next week we’re going to have the fun VT of seeing what Italian Giovanni makes of BLACKPOOL. Oh yay.

Last couple of the evening are Jeremy and Karen. It’s so much better when there are fewer couples to recap. Let us enjoy this moment while it lasts and before we have the horror of two-dance week to contend with. Their VT sees them going to a construction site because they are apparently dancing ‘as miners’ this week.  Jeremy asks ‘what, as in digging and stuff?’  No, Jeremy, as in children. Although, having seen the routine… They don’t actually go down a mine though, but to some underground rail building project, because that’s totally the same thing. The labourers give them sevens across the board, which manages to be a compliment and an insult at the same time.

That is not as weird, however, as the opening to their quickstep, to 'Going Underground', which sees them in a giants cart and then having to ungainly clamber out. The dance is not really Jeremy’s forte. There’s a lot of running around and his knees look pretty uncomfortable throughout. He actually manages the jumpy bits better than the bits where he runs around the room, where he looks quite nervous and uncomfortable. This dance doesn’t really work so well with the height mismatch between them either. Then Karen just gives up any pretence of doing the quickstep and they do some random choo-choo train moves and then they end up back in the cart having found a big diamond, even though it looks like they were in a coal mine. (Okay, my grasp of mining is pretty slight, maybe coal and diamonds are found in the same mines, I don’t even know).

Len says if Jeremy doesn’t make it to BLACKPOOL there’ll be some fun and entertainment missing. Bruno says he hasn’t quite struck gold yet and his timing was stuck in mud, but he admires Jeremy’s determination and resilience and he could see that Jeremy gives everything he’s got out there. Craig says it didn’t exactly fly around the ballroom floor, and it was like being at the National Dressage Championship and the pony club would have been proud of it. Darcey says it was a bit silly, but she can see how hard he worked and it’s hard with his long limbs, but she can see that he is light on his feet but he needs to keep his topline still through his back, rather than his elbows.

In the Clauditorium, Jeremy is pleased that Bruno was really nice and says that he will be lowered from the ceiling with an electric guitar in BLACKPOOL next week, surrounded by pyrotechnics. [lol no he won't - Spoiler Steve]

Scores: four, six, six, five for a total of 21. Claudia says the cart is how they are all getting to BLACKPOOL next week. Leaderboard:

Georgia and Giovanni 39
Helen and Aljaž 34
Peter and Janette 34
Kellie and Kevin 33
Anita and Gleb 32
Katie and Anton 31
Jay and Aliona 30
Jamelia and Tristan 26
Jeremy and Karen 21

Claudia opens the vote lines and everyone jigs behind her with fluffy hats and candy floss, whilst Karen goes completely bizarre. She has entirely crossed into a new realm of weird this series and it’s scaring me just a bit.

Tomorrow!  We find out who is going to BLACKPOOL!  Join me then!

Friday, 13 November 2015

This week on It Takes Two, we have learnt...

- Pasha always has the tissues ready.
- Carol and Pasha’s shared favourite song is ‘Mr Boombastic’.
- Carol is one of the most 'beautiful, gorgeous, positive beings' Zoe has ever met.  D'awww.
- Helen thinks Aljaž would make a great teacher at a school full of naughty kids.
- If series 13 were a school, Jeremy and Kellie would be the head boy and girl.
- Karen Hardy is back from her travels. We never expected we’d say this, but we miss Joanne.
- Karen Hardy managed to find sparkly chopsticks while she was away.
- Anton and Brendan told Jeremy that his tango was indeed a tango. He seemed impressed with this faint praise.
- Jeremy thinks the most he can expect from Craig is a 5, and he’s probably up to a 4.3 by now.
- Matthew Bourne is a fan of Jeremy.
- Jeremy has “accidentally” promised to recreate the ‘Mysterious Girl’ video if he gets to the final.
- Janette’s wig for the charleston was the same wig that Anita wore when she was being Flavia for her American smooth in Movie Week.
- Peter Andre basically thinks his journey is done now, so you don't need to waste your votes on him any more.
- He also think Len standing up was the most important moment of his Strictly time, so he clearly has low standards.
- Peter has learned that 'things are achievable' during his time on the show.  What a lesson.
- Peter’s Viennese waltz this weekend will be dedicated to his children. I’m amazed it took eight weeks tbh.
- Karen Hardy thinks the important thing about dances is their lasting memory.  By these standards, Matt Di Angelo, Christopher Parker and Anne Widdecombe have produced legendary dances.  I am not sure I buy into Karen Hardy's standards.
- There are seven different rumba walks.
- Karen Hardy thinks the ITT audience entirely consists of mums cooking in their kitchens. #everydaysexism
- This week’s pro dance is a love story and it’s quite beautiful when they all come together at the end. (Phrasing.)
- Kellie had a moment of disorientation when her name was called in the results show and couldn’t quite work out if she was safe or not. It was the red light that eventually clued her in.
- Kevin mentions Kellie’s right shoulder in training upwards of 20 times a session.
- Zoe really has trouble saying ‘Boom! Shake The Room’.
- Kellie has been dying to do the samba, the weirdo.
- Kellie is going to 'literally' dance in her sleep.  Presumably this is like extreme sleepwalking?
- The pros learn all of their group routines at once, but there’s a private website they can all look at (STEADY) in between if they want to gen up.
- Karen, Kevin, Janette and Aljaž call themselves “the Dream Team”.
- Kevin's favourite song to dance to is the Muppet Show theme tune. That doesn't mean the show needs to take that as approval to do a DWTS and institute theme tune week.
- Helen didn't bother putting much hip action into the rumba.
- Aljaž doesn’t think his acting is that great.
- Ian Waite was quite an angry-looking baby.
- Ian doesn't think Peter's Viennesse waltz is going to get 10s because of the outrageous gapping.
- In fact, he's a right Debbie Downer on everyone this week.
- Ian thinks Kevin looks like Gleb when he puts a hat on.
- Zoe thinks 'Banana-ing Gleb' sounds like a fun game.
- Jay can't do head snaps very well.
- The fact that the show is reminding us that other versions of this show exist globally is making me have tremors about the thought of Around the World week returning.  The only thing worse would be a resurrection of Fusion week.
- Indian Strictly has involved dances on high walls that look a) terrifying and b) a bit too much like Hole in the Wall (ie also terrifying).
- Jay is struggling with not looking at Aliona in the foxtrot.
- Aliona thinks that she and Jay are “pretty much the most inconsistent couple ever”.
- Katie and Anton were rehearsing in the room next door to Jay and Aliona this week, and Anton suggested some choreography for their foxtrot. Such a gent.
- Bonnie Langford’s cat in EastEnders is called Craig Revel-Horwood.
- Zoe is not a naturally gifted speaker of Italian.
- Giovanni is willing to take his top off to get a 10 from Craig.
- Georgia will not be getting a tattoo to match Giovanni’s.
- Georgia gave up ballet as a child and took up karate, but she was so bad she didn’t even get a white belt.
- Tristan and Pasha interviewed each other and it was hella homoerotic.
- Pasha used to play chess and swim and do martial arts, but he gave them all up for dancing.
- Bitch, Tristan worked in a bank.
- Pasha and Tristan would take each other to a deserted island. (See? HOMOEROTIC.)
- Anita felt like Wonder Woman, or possibly Supergirl, in her jive outfit.
- Gleb and Anita have a competition every morning where they look at each other’s abs. Actually, it’s mostly Anita looking at Gleb’s.
- Anita and Gleb are doing a Tinder-themed quickstep. That’s got to be a first, surely?
- The viewers of It Takes Two have voted Harry Judd their favourite male winner.
- Jamelia doesn’t know who Dave Arch is.
- Jamelia forgot half of her Viennese waltz so she and Tristan just blagged the end of the routine.
- Tristan actually wanted to be in the dance-off last week just so they could do it again without messing up. Dare to dream, Tristan.
- If you watch the video to Jamelia’s ‘Money’ closely, you’ll see she was dancing out of time there as well.
- Jamelia has realised that all of her previous choreography experience was “just the top half”.
- Ali the PA hates it when Jay wears socks with shorts. She’s right to feel that way.
- Harry Judd remains hot like fire.
- If Richard Osman did Strictly, he’d want Natalie for a partner because she always gets the tall men. (He’d also be happy with Anton.)
- Harry Judd is fine with Anita and Gleb using his quickstep music.
- Sophie Raworth had a bet on Carol making Blackpool. She lost, obviously.
- BBC newsreaders doing The Rocky Horror Show with Jeremy Vine as Frank N Further is still a thing that happened, despite our best efforts to repress all memory of it.
- Zoe thinks everyone should have a go with Anton.
- As well as helping Jay and Aliona, Anton has also helped Anita and Gleb with their quickstep this week. No wonder he doesn’t have enough time to teach Katie.
- Joanne is planning to steal Janette’s Viennese waltz dress to get married in.
- Richard Osman thinks Helen will be bottom two this week.
- Harry Judd thinks either Jay or Georgia will win, Sophie Raworth is hoping for Katie, Richard Osman is rooting for Jamelia.
- Il Divo still exist. :(