SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! It's only the Strictly Come Dancing 2017 GRAND FINAL!! After many
Fifteen dancers have been whittled down to the final four. One by one we have seen the celebrities fall by the wayside until we are left with Alexandra Burke, Debbie 'Flexi' McGee, Gemma Atkinson and our sole male Joe McFadden.
Do they all deserve to be here? Well, probably - although I think Aston Merrygold should have gone further than he did. Still, that's the fickle phone folk for you.
The final If I Was In Charge I'd Make You Dance This To That is, of course, a Show Dance. And that will be to Lego House by Ed Sheeran. Giovanni and Debbie will be dressed as Emmet and Unikitty from The Lego Movie - who's who I'll let you decide.
But who is your money on? I'm not sure the series final has been so tight in a long time. The standard this year - barring the usual comedy duffers and those with the rhythm of a stood-on spork - has been really quite high. This year it really could be a matter of a fan-base versus flamenco, popularity over paso vote.
The show will follow its usual formula. Each couple will dance their own particular favourite, one picked by the judges which they liked but want to see improvement on and the famous, spectacular, no hold barred (literally) show dance. This year the judges have picked the showdance tunes for the couple, which should be interesting.
For the first time in Strictly history ALL FOUR couples are dancing ALL THREE dances! That's right - everyone is going to get to show off their show dance. Which, to be honest, I'm quite excited about. It must have been awful to spend ages working on the most spectacular dance you've ever done only to be told 'nah - nobody likes you enough to want to see it'. It's the Strictly equivalent of getting picked last for rounders.
AND as if that wasn't enough, it was all actually, really, properly done in ONE NIGHT! That's right. No 'Sunday' show. Which means I am actually typing this up on Sunday for you
The night kicked off to a cracking start with a lively opener - the finalist pros were on podiums, the celebs on catwalks as they counted down to the start. Kevin was very pointedly not dancing with Karen. To be honest he had a face on him like a wet weekend in, well, Grimsby - poor fella.
Then it was down to what we've all been waiting thirteen long weeks for - the finalists' dances. First up for all our couples was the Judges' Choice.
Alexandra Burke & Gorka kicked us off with a reprise of their American Smooth to Wouldn't It Be Loverly from My Fair Lady in Musicals Week. This time round Alexandra had polished off the rough edges and smoothed out the wrinkles in a dance that was lighter, more flowing and lyrical than the first time round. Her character was more charming and there were some lovely little extra touches. The lifts were better and the transitions easier. This was exquisite, graceful and artistic. The judges were thrilled and Alexandra earned a full house 40 out of 40 for the first round.
Debbie McGee & Giovanni were up next. The judges had chosen her salsa to Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You by Frankie Valli. There was certainly improvement as Debbie put more into the hip rotation, shimmy, shake and bounce. The side by side section was neat and in time and there was bags of energy and stamina. Some bits still looked a little clunky and stuttery, but we did have the infamous 'one handed spin her round by the foof' lift, which is always a bonus.
Debbie's balance was spot on, though and she nailed the turns. The whole thing was even faster than the first outing, if that's possible. A near perfect 39 out of 40 for Debbie.
Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž followed with their paso doble to
Joe McFadden & Katya rounded off errrr......round one with the panel's pick - their
Alexandra dashed out of hair and make us to bring us her Show dance. She and Gorka would be dancing to There's No Business Like Show Business. WOW! WHAT a performance. This was a mixed bag, lucky dip of some many dances I lost count. There was Charleston, quickstep, jive, American Smooth, Argentine Tango - I think I may even have seen The Birdy Song in there at one point. This was a polished, accomplished performance with so much pizazz it shone. Alexandra coped amazingly with the changes of style and pace, never letting her energy drop for a second. She was graceful where she needed to be, energetic and dramatic at other times. This dance was full of sparkle, style and substance. A full on, high octane, value for money outing. Alexandra was awarded 39 out of 40.
Debbie's Show dance was to One Day I'll Fly Away by Randy Crawford. Giovanni had absolutely choreographed this to every single one of Debbie's strengths. A sweet music box opening with Debbie as the ballerina transitioned into a charming routine with a lovely dreamlike quality. Debbie - as you'd expect - was graceful, lithe and limber giving us her trademark splits and leg extensions. Her poise was perfect, she was graceful, elegant and controlled. A fast neck spin and some sparkle bar special effects added some drama in a dance that was touching but never twee. A couple of teeny weeny (I'm talking almost microscopic) wobbles meant Debbie got 38 out of 40 for this.
Gemma brought us a Show dance to Show Me How You Burlesque by Christina Aguilera. This was a fun, fast, frenetic and feisty outing from Gemma. Another routine with a mixture of dances and styles it was energetic and busy. Gemma's core was better in the lifts and the looked less clunky and awkward. She sold this dance, showing us just how much she has improved since the clumsy start in week one. Gemma has loads of attitude, attack, character ans sass and she looked like she really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, Craig didn't so much - but she still got 37 out of 40.
Joe's Show dance was a Cinderella based dance to You Make My Dreams by Hall & Oates. Katya was Cinders and Joe was Prince Charming trying to slipper one as he started with a solo bit with the shoe that made him look a bit like he was performing Hamlet with a Jimmy Choo instead of Yorick's skull. The dance - more mixtures of styles - was light, skippy and trippy with a Disneyeque feel. There was a really clever costume change with Katya's dress transforming from sombre to sparkly in the flick of a wrist. Joe was tight and on time, snappy and sharp - especially is a difficult big spin lift. A quirky, fun and entertaining number but still a full house eluded Joe and he was given 39 out of 40.
And so were were left with the dancers' own choice - the one they had loved performing the most or that had got them the best score. We were sure to be entertained in the final third of the show.
Alexandra's Own choice was her sensational Jive to Proud Mary by Tina Turner. she really went for it from the opening bars of a number that had everything but the kitchen sink. This was extra special - energetic, effortless with proper showbiz flair. Totally in character, Alexandra set the floor on fire with this crowd pleaser. Her kicks and flicks were sharp and precise, her retractions perfectly executed as she lifted the crowd and the roof off the studio. She and Gorka were totally in synch, bouncing off each other and having a ball. The whole thing was A-MA-ZING and had the judges on their feet - even Craig, who waited for the furore to die down before giving his praise. Another top score of 40 out of 40 for Alexandra.
Debbie had decided on the Argentine Tango as her Own choice to that classic tango tune
Gemma brought us her American Smooth to Downtown by Petula Clark as her Own choice. She had really loved this dance when she performed it in Blackpool and it had been an entertaining display then. Gemma's confidence shone and it was apparent how far she has come as a dancer. The dance was lighter and more controlled than the first showing and she was more graceful, elegant and flowing. Her footwork was better and frame more assured. The lifts were better and the dance was more atmospheric in the smaller room. Gemma radiated class - Bruno was so impressed he chucked himself of his chair. A dropped point from Craig earned her 39 out of 40 for her efforts.
Joe closed the competition with his Own Choice of his Charleston. I think this was the first of his dances that I really enjoyed. It was so funky and stylish. This time round Joe seemed to have more fun with it, chucking in some extra moves, twists and touched that brought it totally to life. There was bags of character, tons of swivel and cross, head wobbles and bounce. He was tight, sharp, in time and on point, The side by side synchronicity was just joyous and his footwork was perfectly precise. It was a cracking was to end the show and he scored a well-deserved 40 out of 40.
Alexandra - 119
Joe - 118
Debbie - 117
Gemma - 114
The phone lines were open and I spent the equivalent of the national debt of Guadeloupe on my favourite. No, I'm not telling you who. Just be content that it was either Alexandra, Debbie, Gemma or Joe.
While we waited for the results to come in we were treated to Ed Sheeran singing 'Perfect' while Pasha and Karen frolicked about barefoot, with Pasha in a vest. I was hoping for a Die Hard based number (it is nearly Christmas, after all) but I was disappointed again. Now, this is spooky. I'd already written the bit about showdancing to Ed before I knew he was coming on. WHY can't I do that with the Lotto numbers?
I quite like Ed - the man with the poshest scar in pop. Apparently a slightly merry Princess Eugenie gashed his face with a sword while pretending the knight him with a proper sword at a party in Granny's gaff. It may be quite dashing, I suppose, but he still looks like Elmo to me.
I don't care what you say, I'm not tickling either of them!
The Class of 2017 came back with a group routine - which was basically them just jiggling onto the stage in the order they'd been voted off. Reminding us - with the exception of Aston - just why they had gone when they did.
Then it was time to find out who it was. Who was going to wrest the glitterball from Ore's tear-soaked hands? There was no announcements of safety and danger this time round. After about seventeen hours of tension building nonsense our Tess, Dame Daly of Stockport, announced that...............
JOE was the winner!
Much as I expected, really. The forums were alight with Joe praise and fan worship. Alright, he wasn't exactly as hapless at dancing as he was trying to make out. He didn't really only get his legs a fortnight before Week One. The wee fox has played Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and has had parts in other stage musical numbers. But he was nice and sparkly and twinkly and very down to earth which endeared him to the viewers - and Katya is a terrific choreographer..
So now it's all over for another year. There'll be no more of this blog nonsense for the rest of the year. What do you mean, 'Thank Heavens for that'? Right, just for that I think I WILL do the Dancing On Ice blog next year. Don't say I didn't warn you.
I'm kidding. Thank you for reading the ramblings of a middle-aged woman on a subject she knows little about. It's been a blast and I hope you enjoyed it.
Until next year................KEEP DANCING!!!