Sunday, 25 October 2015

It's week five on Strictly. Not so much the Dirty Dozen as the Dirty Dancing Dozen. One more celebrity will stash their sequins and soft shoe shuffle out of the competition. So what happened on Saturday night?
Gorgeous but a bit gormless Georgia May Foote got the party started with partner 'Joe Varney' and a sexy little disco salsa to (You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real by Sylvester. There was no pussy-footing around with this number. It had loads of hip action and rotation, but she lost it a little towards the end again. Very high energy with lots of content it was slick, quick and full of tricks - and even a Dirty Dancing lift. Bizarrely, Georgia had said in VT that the aerobatics made her feel like a sausage - and this number had plenty of bang(er). She has to watch the links to her lifts, which she telegraphs (saus)ages in advance. But let's be frank(furter), this wasn't her wurst dance by any means. The judges scored it 31 out of 40.

Clueless Carol Kirkwood was up next with a wet and woeful Viennese waltz to Breaking Hearts. The only broken heart must be Pasha's, saddled with such drip of a partner. The Viennese waltz is supposed to be elegant and graceful - this was stiff and stilted. Carol always looks like she's just going through the motions. She dutifully does the steps she's given, but there's no peformance. She looks dead behind the eyes and sometimes it looks like Pasha is shoving a shop window Mannequin round the dance floor (but there's no danger of her ever turning into Kim Cattrall, I'm afraid). This dance was.....beige. The VT showed that Carol and Pasha had gone to a theme park get used to the spins. Sorry to say this dance was no storm in the teacups and you're not likely to be around for Christmas, Carol. Just 21 out of 40.

The tempo changed with a terrific tango from Anita Rani, dancing to Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap. Anita was anything but sweet in this fiery, fantastic dance. Gleb (sadly covered up this week) had devised some outstanding choreography and Anita definitely did it justice. Strong, powerful moves, great frame, piles of passion and loads of sweep and grace. Anita acted out her character with a dark menace - something Carol should take a look at - and the dance had plenty of traditional tango content, heel leads, head turns and staccato kicks. The judges likened Anita to a Klingon Queen. I'd certainly Klingon to Gleb - he can say nltebHa' maml' DaneH'a' to me anytime (apparently this means 'Would you like to dance with me?' in Klingon. I googled it, by the way - I'm not that geeky). The United Federation of judges awarded her 32 out of 40.

Up next was upright Andrex puppy Peter Andre and partner Janette ManraraRasputin, dancing a rumba to Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran. You know I find it hard to love a rumba - but this one was nice enough. It had all the ususal rumba content - all walk, wiggle, wave, wepeat....this time  wi' Pete. He got a bit too stompy again - sometimes he looks like he's trying to kill spiders, or he's the back end of a pantomime horse - and he lost the dynamics at times. The routine was loosely based on a photographic studio theme and it's fair to say Peter gave it a good shot, he had decent frame but it wasn't picture perfect. The judges gave him 29 out of 40.

Kirsty Gallacher followed with a weary-looking Viennese waltz to This Year's Love by David Grey. The dance took ages to get going, with loads of faffing about on the stairs. Brendan is probably taking his lead from Anton Du Bec and limiting his partner's time on the actual dancefloor. There were lots of spins and turns and they even threw in a fleckerl, but her arms got really frantic and flappy at times and she clearly hates being out of hold, clinging onto Brendan like an agoraphobic koala. Kirsty still seems to be suffering from nerves as she never looks (or even pretends to look) happy when she dances. I've seen more expression on an artist's dummy. Credit where it's due, though, this was her best dance to date - maybe ballroom suits her better. This routine to music from White Ladder had her climbing up the leaderboard on Saturday, matching Peter with a very respectable 29 out of 40.

Kirsty limbers up for a trot round the dancefloor

Gurning gourmet Ainsley Harriott gave us what was billed as a jive to Shake, Rattle & Roll by Bill Haley and The Comets. Ainsley was certainly spaced out with this dance - and probably not even on this planet. It was the slowest jive I've ever seen in Strictly but even then Ainsley struggled, looking like a jumbo prawn in his bright pink outfit. His frantic antics and wobbly Elvis legs couldn't cover up his poor technique. There were very few kicks and flicks, he was flat-footed with flappy, floppy arms. At one point he looked more like he was playing keepy-uppy than dancing, resembling a drunk uncle - a druncle, if you will - at a wedding. Once again he just seemed to do his own thing and play up to the cameras. The telly chef wasn't cooking on gas with this routine which fell flatter than a flabby souffle. Just 21 out of 40 from the judges.

Loose woman Jamelia came out with a foxtrot to Because You Loved Me by Sealion Diane - sorry, Celine Dion. Jamelia doesn't seem to love ballroom. This routine started okay, but an early mistake put her completely off her stride and it all went down quicker than the Titanic after that. The dance was filled with errors, missed holds and even an illegal lift (how very dare she!) and Jamelia was clearly panicking as partner Tristan desperately tried to get her back on track. She had a nice top line, but it wasn't enough to save the dance. The judges gave her 26 out of 40.

After showing so much prom-ise last and topping the leaderboard a week ago, Katie Derham suffered the same fate as Jay experienced last week and crashed to earth. Instead of spark and spice she served up a sorry, sloppy salsa. It looked like she'd been on the sauce as she clomped her way through this routine. Where was the wiggle and jiggle? Katie was far too stiff and upright with limp hips and aimless arms. There was lots of content - Anton had put everything in but the kitchen sink - but this was a substance over style salsa. The lifts all went horribly wrong, Anton nearly dropped her at one point and it just didn't work. Katie's Latin lacked lustre. It had all the intention, but none of the execution. A disappointing 21 out of 40.

Up next was Jeremy Vine dancing a wooden waltz to She, by Elvis Costello. Actually, this reminds me of my Elvis Costello joke I made up when I was about 12 or so. It's still as bad now as it was then....I hear Elvis Costello really loves gardening. Last week he made a beautiful planter for his flowers out of an old tyre. Yes, it was a Goodyear for the roses! SEE - this is why I'm not a regular on Mock The Week or The Edinburgh Fringe. Anyway...that joke was probably better than Jeremy's dancing, which was stiff and stilted. Looking like a scarecrow in a suit, Jeremy plodded around with bent knees, poor frame and frantically flingy free arms. There were no transitions to speak of and a bigger gap than the Cheddar Gorge between Jeremy and his partner. It was terribly stop / start - like watching a flickerbook in slow motion. Jeremy ended up propping up the leaderboard with a dismal 18 out of 40.

Heavenly Helen George lit up the dancefloor with a cracker of a quickstep to You Can't Hurry Love. This was a joy to watch. Helen and Aljaz sped across the dancefloor faster than my brother-in-law when someone announces the buffet has been served. It was clippy, tricky, skippier than a bush kangaroo and chock full of difficult content. The pair were on point and together throughout the whole routine and Helen sparkled to the end. It was fast, furious and earned a 'Fab-u-lous' from Craig. It was a leaderboard topping 35 out of 40 for Helen.

Jay McGuinness was back on form last night, and how! A princely performance of a Paso Doble to It's My Life by Bon Jovi. This dance - and Jay - was strong, powerful and passionate throughout. Loads of lovely drama and attitude, great shaping and command, Jay made a masterful matador. He may have lacked a little arrogance, but its probably because he's such a nice guy. He certainly wasn't Livin' On A Prayer, this dance was a Bed of Roses. Bruno got so excited he got all sweary - dropping a 'bollock' before the watershed earned him a stern look from Len and telling off from Tess who had to apologise to the audience for his outburst. Someone really needs to keep the bloke away from the Red Bull and Sherbet Dib-Dabs before the show - his hyper behaviour was getting out of hand last night, and even Craig said he was being mean at one point, which is a bit like Darth Vader having a pop at Davros, but there you go. I can understand his excitement though, and so could the rest of the judges. Jay scored a much-improved 33 out of 40.

Closing the show was Kellie Bright and pocket prancer KevinfromGrimsby. Their spy-themed jive to One Way Or Another by Blondie (I refuse to accept One Direction's version as 'music' - don't get me started on what they did to Teenage Kicks) left me shaken and stirred. This dance was fast, frenetic, fabulous and fun. There was loads of tricky content, kicks and flicks, fancy footwork and fluid action. It was clean and sharp, Kellie and Kevin were together throughout - they have a terrific Bond as a couple. Maybe not quite as good as Jay's jive the other week, but excellent all the same. A triumphant way to end the night. The judges loved it too and awarded Kellie a table-top sharing 35 out of 40.

And then it was time for the sham Sunday show. The judges scores and viewer votes had been tallied. The pro dancers showed us all how it's supposed to be done. Bryan Adams came on to warble his way through his new single (yes, I'm showing my age) Brand New Day, probably hoping to flog a few before Christmas. Len's Lens - sans Len who was deskbound after his knee op - dissected the finer points we mere mortals can't see and don't really understand. Lots of tension, heartbeat music (you know, ba-bum, ba-bum - not Nick Berry murdering the theme tune to that TV show). Nearly thirty unnecessary minutes later, the bottom two dancers were finalised.......Jamelia and Ainsley were in the danger zone.

Second time around Jamelia appeared to get her act together and there were slightly fewer mistakes. Ainsley, however, served up a sloppy second helping pretty much the same as the first. The judges had no appetite for any more of Ainsley's shenanigans and he was finally given the chop and shown the door. Another contender bites the dust and the eleven remaining survive to dance another week. So far, it's the dancers who deserve to go that are being voted off, which makes a pleasant change.

It's the Hallowe'en special next week so I'm giving you all advance notice there will be some TERRIBLE puns. Don't say you haven't been warned! Until then, my little cherry bakewells.......KEEP DANCING!!!!

Aimless Ainsley is off the menu

Saturday, 24 October 2015

It's about this time every year that HOTH, SBOTH and I pile into the family car and take a trip to Blackpool. This is a family Tradition. With a capital T. That is, something we Always Do and have done since SBOTH was not quite a year old. Cars and jobs have come and gone (as have hair, teeth and weight), but the Family Outing to Blackpool remains a constant. There was one year when someone else took SBOTH instead, but we don't like to talk about that and, if I do, it's usually with a cat's bum mouth. We tend to go early in the evening, timing it so we're there not long before the Illuminations come on but before the rowdy crowds, lakes of vomit and fist-fights start appearing. I could do without explaining to SBOTH what that man with a willy-shaped hat on and the lady in the flashing bra are doing behind the bins, thank you very much.

The trip follows the same kind of routine every year - a wander on the front to spend the equivalent of the national debt of a small country in the arcades. No longer the 'penny arcades' of my youth - long gone are the crank-handled one arm bandits, replaced with acres of neon and flashing lights, loud beeps, boops & sirens, geared to grab the attention of kids and instant entertainment addicts. Still, SBOTH actually won some money on the 'coin shove / Tipping Point' machine this year - an event as rare as the coming of Halley's Comet or England winning the World Cup, but much more exciting. Of course, he ended up putting it all back in - but that's part of the fun. Apparently.

Next comes fish and chips at our favourite chippy. It's a bit of a drive away from Blackpool itself, away from the main drag and the churned out buckets of grease selling for £2.99 a throw (up). It is still really popular - there can be queues out of the door on some nights. The fish is cooked fresh to order, piping hot in a crisp, tasty batter, translucent and delicious. The chips are chunky, proper chips - all different sizes and 'gob scadding' (mouth scalding) as my dad says. I think we'd been visiting the place for about three years, eating the goodies out of paper while sitting in the car, before I realised there was a restaurant attached and we started 'sitting in'. It's delightfully olde-worlde with proper Formica tables and leatherette seats. Thankfully the Trendies haven't got their manicured mitts on this place yet and long may that continue.

This year we piled in as usual, took our seats and waited for the....well, waitress (yes, the place still offers waited tables) to come and take our order. Having demanded our delights - two 'Dining Room Specials' (cod, chips, mushy peas, bread & butter and a cup of tea so strong it could hold its own in a fight with Mike Tyson) and large cod & chips for SBOTH - a boy who loves his fish - we relaxed and chatted, as you do. Then HOTH then noticed that the vinegar in the plastic bottles looked suspiciously pale. Instead of the dark brown malty colour you normally associate with chippy vinegar, this was a watery, translucent colour. Sort of the colour of your wee after a really heavy night out on the lash, probably involving a kebab and some ill-advised shots near closing time. Or is that just me?

To say that I like my vinegar is to say elephants are slightly larger than an amoeba or that the All Blacks are a bit good at rugby. I love the stuff. I have been known, on occasion, to drink vinegar from a pickled onion jar (don't judge me). The sight of this stuff worried me. I had a taste. I had another taste, just to make sure. My heart sank. The owner had obviously watered it down. A LOT. I'm all for businesses maximising profit and cutting costs, but this was ridiculous. This wasn't vinegar as we knew it anymore. It was inert. It was so watered down it had practically changed state into an alkaline. My friends, this was homeopathic vinegar. One part acetic acid to a million. A shark couldn't have sensed the vinegar in that bottle. I was Very Disappointed. Fish & chips without vinegar is like Morecambe without Wise, Ant without Dec, Donald Trump without his wig....I silently fumed and contemplated a sulk.

The waitress brought our lovely food. My fish lay there, hot & tempting, begging to be drowned in vinegar, sprinkled with salt and devoured. I didn't want to disappoint it. HOTH took the bull by the horns. He asked the waitress if they had any sachets of vinegar available, something that could legally be called vinegar. No, sorry, they didn't. I began to half-heartedly splash some liquid on my dinner when she reappeared with a full, unopened, unsullied bottle of The Good Stuff. Real, proper vinegar - the stuff that makes you cough when it evaporates as it hits your chips. 'I told him he waters it down too much.' she muttered. I could have hugged her. She stood over us as we liberally splattered our dinners with it, joyful in the malty, tangy smell (except SBOTH. He hates vinegar. He's weird. Unless he had so much of the stuff while in the womb it put him off). Food duly anointed, the waitress took the bottle back off us and away, hidden again like contraband until someone was brave enough to ask again.

I'm very happy to report that, after that, the food was as gorgeous as ever. Hot, tasty, huge portions filled our bellies and set us up for the finale to the trip. The Illuminations themselves. SBOTH always buys something light-up, neon and twizzy on a stick to wave around on the journey (that ends up forgotten in the Narnia under his bed by the end of the following week) and we set off 'to see the lights'. A drive down the Golden Mile 'oohing' and 'aahing' at flashing light-bulbs in colourful arrangements like we've never seen electricity before. The only time of year when you willingly drive at five miles an hour in a humongous line of traffic and don't moan. Vegas it ain't, but it's Tradition and something we hold dear. Some parts of the display are better than others - the sparse strings at one end, melding into character pieces - one year, sponsored by Hollands, there was a section of illuminated pies with unsettling faces on them, nearly put me off my pastry - and finally on to the terrific tableaux, huge screens and animated displays like Alice in Wonderland, Native Americans, a pile of pirates prancing, the Haunted House. They save the best stuff to last. If you accidentally come into the display from the wrong end it must be really disappointing.

Lights looked at, we set off home. SBOTH falls asleep in the back, twizzer in hand & snuggled under coats. HOTH & I singing along to the tunes on the radio like a cut price Sonny & Cher (I refuse to be drawn on who's who), driving home in the dark and wondering just how many more times we can do this before SBOTH decides it's lame and refuses to come along anymore. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Until then, the Tradition stands. Just stop watering down my condiments and we'll be fine, okay?

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Now, I don't often get angry and shout at the tellybox. Actually, that's a damn lie. I shout at it a lot. But it's not often I'm quite so incensed with rage as I was last night. What made it worse was that SBOTH was in the room and I had to temper my language accordingly, which was neither easy nor satisfying. So what was it that had be so apopletic with rage? That made me spy my arse so much I was practically donut shaped? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you this shiny pile of utter crap.
Sparkle Science. Sparkle. Science. Sparkle fecking Science. A pink, shiny, glittery 'science' kit aimed at girls. As if girls can only possibly be interested in science if it's covered in pink, glittery, shiny crap. How patronising? I begged my parents for a chemistry set for years when I was younger. I wasn't allowed to have one. Not because my parents didn't think it was for girls, more that they were worried I'd blow myself up, set fire to the house or set about on a plan for world domination (the latter being especially appealing). If they'd have presented me with this abomination I'd have thanked them graciously, of course, but inside I'd have been deeply disappointed and mortally offended. The box would likely have been consigned to under my bed, unused, and eventually disposed of.

If you can't see the box clearly, the cartoonish Comic Sans font invites the recipient (who must grin inanely when presented with the box , while wearing an unfeasible amount of make up for a child) to 'Grow your own crystal necklace', 'Grow a sparkly geode', 'Make a fab glitter bath bomb', 'Create glitter chalk' and 'Make a glitter lava lamp' and announces it's 'The Amazingly Sparkly Glitzy Chemistry Set'. It does have a pseudo Breaking Bad periodic table graphic (for Scandium and Cerium, if you're interested) but that seems to be its only nod to science science. Apparently, these are 'experiments', not just an excuse to make a pile of tat. Tat covered in glitter because, well, wimminz like sparkly glittery stuff and their wickle heads can only absorb science if it's pink and shiny and makes them look pretty. My blood pressure is rising to dangerous levels just thinking about it.

I'm pretty bloody sure Marie Curie wasn't bothered about how pink & pretty radium was - or how sparkly her polonium necklace looked and whether it went with her shoes. Rosalind Franklin was probably more interested in her works on viruses and early contribution to understanding DNA than in knocking up a glittery lava lamp for the lads in the lab. In the year when we're celebrating the Suffragette Movement and 100 years of The Women's Institute, science is being marketed to girls as pink, sparkly, glitzy and pretty - and that its results are, or should be, things that make you look pretty or decorate your house. It's infuriating.

I know there are things like Gross Science that are usually advertised using small boys throwing fake poo at their older sisters, but at least the box is in pastel, neutralish colours with cartoon pictures - at least one of which is a girl having fun. Much more gender neutral. being marketed exclusively at girls. What if there are boys who want to make bath bombs & sparkly geodes?

Science is having a hard enough time recruiting women without banal, fluffy crap like this. Making a 'fab' bath bomb and a lava lamp isn't going to encourage hoardes of females into scientific fields. Stuff like this is more likely to put them off. Is this really the best they could come up with? It's shallower than a petri dish and reinforces the message that women are only here for decoration or to make it. That's not a message I want to be passing on to girls growing up today.      

I get that it's a toy, it's meant to be fun - but what's wrong with marketing a regular chemistry set, electronics kit or microscope & slides? Proper science equipment? Making them more appealing to both genders? It doesn't have to be bloody pink, sparkly or pretty to be fun, interesting and educational. It doesn't have to be pink, sparkly and pretty to appeal to females. Just stop it and give us credit where it's due. Put a lid on the patronising. Don't demean science by making everything bubble-gum Barbie before you think we'll buy it or understand it. Women do real science, get over it.

And don't get me started on gingham...........


Sunday, 18 October 2015

And here we are again. Another week, another round of dancers. No theme this time (they'll be saving it for the Hallowe'en special in a fortnight, I reckon) so it was just a show chock-full of razzle, dazzle and dance. It's Week 4 - who will be shown the door?

This time the show was opened by Anita Rani, dancing a steamy salsa to 'Hips Don't  Lie' by Shakira. There was definitely plenty of shake 'ere. Lots of wiggle and jiggle, swing and isolation. This is apparently being able to wiggle your bum while keeping your top half still. If this is the case I've doing this for years after a few vodkas. Mainly while trying to walk in a pair of heels. It was all going pretty well until Anita got wrong-footed and everything went a bit stop / start until she got her rhythm back. Gorgeous Gleb got his gear off, at which point my glasses steamed up and I nearly choked on my Werthers. Anita have another look at this dance. Just for research purposes, you understand. The judges were happy enough, scoring 27 out of 40.

Dragging the mood down came dance dunce Daniel O'Donnell. Doleful Dan brought us an alleged American Smooth with foxtrot base to Fly Me To The Moon. I wish someone would (but not bother with the 'and back' bit). This dire dance barely took off with O'Donnell dressed as a pilot. He couldn't even wing his way through the simple routine which was far more budget economy than first class entertainment. Dan was less animated than Otto the Autopilot from Airplane - and was certainly less entertaining. There was no swing or sway, no style and limp lifts. I've had more fun stuck in airport departure lounges. This was an aeroflop of a dance and Dan is nowhere near the top flight of stars. Surely he must be nearing the end of the runway? The judges gave him 23 out of 40.


Tracy's Spot The Difference puzzles are getting more difficult!

Up next was sporty sheila Kirsty Gallacher plodding her way through a prim Paso Doble to Beautiful Day by U2. It's a Bono of contention whether Kirsty has The Edge to stay in much longer. This poor Paso had no passion or poise, no attitude or attack and all the shaping of a sack of spuds. Yet again Brendan had to drag Kirsty round into position and mould her on the floor. I'm afraid this Paso cape-r was a load of bull. Maybe it's time to show Kirsty the mat-a-door? Only 21 out of 40 from Craig and co.

Georgia May put her best Foote forward with an accomplished quickstep to Reach by S Club 7. It's fair to say that HOTH and I are emotionally scarred by this song, having been forced to perform it at the end of not one, but two, pantos - each with word-specific actions and manic grin plastered to our faces. Fourteen performances of that and you know where madness lies......where was I? Oh yes. Georgia May and her partner 'Joe Varney' (his mum and the rest of the world call him Giovanni) gave us a skippy, clippy, quality performance full of difficult content. She lost her neckline a couple of times and tired at the end, but it was a very quick....erm....quickstep. No-one's going to burst this soap star's bubble any time soon. A mighty 31 out of 40, with a nine from Len for technical content.

Disastrous DJ Jeremy Vine had a hard act to follow, with a jerky jive to Splish Splash. Poor Jeremy was well out of his depth with this routine. He just couldn't scrub up to take on the technical difficulties of the dance. With no rhythm, no kicks, no flicks, no tricks and a weirdly stuck out bottom, Jezza looked like a rubber duck with a puncture - especially when he lay on the floor and writhed around in a circle. Totally quackers. I'm not sure if this was part of the routine or if he'd got his spangles caught in his spats. This dance started off bad and went downhill from there. Jeremy needs to improve or someone will pull the plug and send him for an early bath. Just 20 out of 40.

Kellie Bright was alright on the night with a beautiful flowing foxtrot to Dream A Little Dream Of Me. Definitely not a nightmare, this was a lovely dance with a story behind it - Kellie's grandparents met and danced to this many years ago - and it showed in her commitment. Beautifully choreographed by the KFG, this was a joy to watch, full of style and grace as they floated across the dancefloor. Kellie may play Linda Carter in Eastenders, but she was Wonderwoman tonight. A very impressive 32 out of 40 (which would end up being one of four with this score).

Following this was Jamelia who gave us a cracking little Charleston to Paula Abdul's Straight Up. An amazing arrangement by the band really suited a polished performance full of personality. It has all the Charleston content - flicks, kicks, birdy flaps and all the swivel you could shake a stick at. She may take two steps forward with this routine. It was a bit flat-footed at times and the stamina went, but we'll the songstress again. She managed to attract 32 points out of 40.

Poor Jay McGuinness was under so much expectation to repeat his performance from last week. It's the last thing he Wanted. The pressure badly got to our boy band buddy and his quickstep to My Generation by The Who was full of errors and at one point he nearly fell over. I Can't Explain what went wrong, It was such a shame as the dance showed so much promise and he was visibly very upset by the end. Let's hope he doesn't Moon over it too much - he Won't Get Fooled Again and will be able to Substitute this performance for a better one. He was well down the leaderboard with his lowest score ever - just 25 out of 40.

Carol Kirkwood came out with a much improved forecast this week and a passable Paso performance to a traditional Toreador tune. Carol gave it a good go with a little bit of passion, an attempt at attack and a smatter of attitude. It was a simple routine, and there were times she was stiffer than force 10 gale. But Pasha's choreography played to her (few) strengths and it sort of worked - and he danced enough for the two of them anyway. She danced up a storm compared to previous weeks and it was certainly better than Kirsty's effort. The judges didn't rain too badly on her parade, either, giving her 22 out of 40.

Next on the menu was cheesy chef Ainsley Harriott with a wistful waltz to What A Wonderful World. Partner Natalie Lowe came up with a novel way to keep his Armstrong throughout the routine - wearing a set of bicycle handlebars in training (I'm making no jokes about his Chopper). It almost worked, but Ainsley still ended up hunching his shoulders like Ram Man with whiplash towards the end. There was some rise and fall, fair footwork and there was no dancing to the beat of his own drum this week. A couple of mistakes - a missed hand-hold and his free arm gets a bit flappy, but otherwise a nice, safe performance. The judges gave it a fair 26 out of 40.

Ainsley gets it in the neck again.

By George, up after this was gorgeous Helen George bringing a spicy, sexy salsa to our Saturday, dancing to Dr Beat by Gloria Estefan. Hello, Nurse! Helen will need to be reported to the NMC for this routine (that's the Nice Moves Council). This hot routine was full of sauce as Helen wiggled and jiggled, shook and shimmied across the dancefloor. This naughty sortie had a couple of really risky lifts, plenty of sass n' sparkle and the party mood definitely got the audience going. The temperature may be rising, but there's no need to call a doctor (or a Midwife). The diagnosis is dynamite dancing. My prognosis? Helen will be around to treat us for a while yet. Another of the night's 32 out of 40 scores for Ms George.

Peter Andre was our penultimate performer with a gambling based routine. The tanned tunester turned out a terrific tango to Blue Monday by New Order. Partner Janette Bananarama played her cards right choreographing to Peter's strengths with a dance full of passion, pizzazz, poise and other words beginning with p. The Antipodean Artist had attack and attitude throughout with lots of strength and style, but he was still lifting his knees just a little too high and his feet were too far off the floor in some of the promenades. Still, this was an ace dance and Peter was flush with success. He certainly won't be Blue this Monday - more likely to be in the Joy Division. The judges liked it and gave him the other 32 out of 40 of the night.

Closing the show was perky proms princess Katie Derham dancing a vivacious Viennese Waltz to If I Can Dream by Elvis. Anton du Beck must surely think he's dreaming with this peach of a partner - and he's not going to want to wake up. Taking on board the judge's comments from last week, Anton had devised a lovely routine, full of lots of difficult content for Katie. There was more spin in this dance than an entire Tory party conference. It was twizzy, dizzy and had me all in a tizzy. Katie was like a beautiful swan - all grace up top while her feet flew through fleckerls, pattered through pivots and twirled through turns. This was an elegant performance and Anton must have felt like the King as the rightly impressed judges gave them an amazing 33 out of 40 - probably Anton's highest score of his career and only the second time he's been at the top of the leaderboard in the twelve year history of Strictly. A-ma-zing Dahling!

And so it was 'Sunday' again. A quick change of clothes for the judges, Claudia and Tess, redo the tutty (that's make-up to you lot) and back before the cameras for the results. There was the usual chat about what happened 'last night' and a peek through Len's Lens into what the judges saw. Meanwhile chinny grinner Will Young belted out his new number Joy while the pro dancers lolloped around the dancefloor for those who were hard of concentration. 

Several 'ba-bums' and eleven relieved celebrities later, we were left with Calamitous Kirsty Gallacher and Daffy Daniel O'Donnell in the bottom two. At least the viewers were showing some sense this week as both couples were deserving of the dance off. A reprise of both routines showed us why it was these two fighting for survival and a place in next week's show. But only one couple could stay and the judges' decision was final, indeed unanimous. Common sense prevailed again - it was adieu Daniel O'Donnell, you've massacred your last merengue, tortured your last tango, chopped up your last Charleston and......well, your foxtrot is safe now as well.

The RSPCD (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dancing) is relieved Dan has been dumped.

It dozen matter, twelve dancers remain - what will Week 5 bring us? Only one way to find out..........Keep Dancing!!! 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

They've been and gone and done it again!! The bloody Trendies have wormed their way into yet another eatery and spoiled it. This time they've removed the soul of the place so expertly they may as well set themselves up as exorcists. Who you gonna call? Pub-busters. Bah. And, indeed, humbug.

The scene of this new travesty used to be a lovely, traditional type family pub. Mock Tudor-ish on the outside, inviting on the inside. It was always warm, snug and cosy. You know the type of place - carpet a bit threadbare, but that showed it was popular, nice comfy chairs in conversational arrangements, small fire burning merrily in the cold winter months. A nice pub. The sort that made you rub your hands and say 'Oooh, lovely' when you walked in. They did food - none of your Heston Bloomingheck or Marco Pierre poncety, nothing on boards or slates or in buckets. Just nice, hot, tasty honest pub food in decent sized portions at reasonable prices. They did offers, as well. Twofers (two fer a tenner), curry night, meal deals. The fish always sold out by 6pm on a Friday. SBOTH had a special affinity for the ribs, of which he would order an adult-sized portion and happily munch through the lot (I secretly think he's a distant relative of Fred Flintstone - probably on HOTH's side). I, of course, got on famously with the wine list. It was our 'go to' cheap treat place where we could all eat out for less than £25, even if HOTH had a steak. Alright, there were times when our presence brought the average customer age down to about.....ooooh, eighty - but we liked it.

Then it closed 'for refurbishment'. We thought maybe a lick of paint and some new carpet, perhaps a new kitchen. When we returned on its reopening we were in for a very rude surprise.

Gone were the comfy chairs, replaced by - you guessed it - a mish-mash mix and match with no two seats the same at any table. A couple even have armchairs pulled up to them, which is fine if you're a strapping six-footer but when you're tiny small like I am it means the table top is somewhere around my eyebrows. They're all upholstered in nasty, itchy fabric. Definitely no encouragement to sit and chill out. There's even a banquette thing with really high, sloped leatherette seats. Even if you did manage to get up there (think trying to climb on a shire horse) you'd spend all your time desperately clenching your bum cheeks to stop yourself sliding off the damn thing. Relaxing it ain't.

Lots of the tables have been removed altogether and replaced with bookshelves filled with obvious charity shop purchases like the third book in a series of six, but none of the others, and manuals on how to repair a combine harvester. It may be meant to represent someone's living room but it just doesn't work and fewer people can get in. The shelves are filled with nick nacks and objet d'crap as well that look like they've been bought in the world's worst episode of Bargain Hunt where Tim Wannacott has spent all the money on gin and gambling so the teams have had five minutes to scavenge in a skip behind B&Q. And it's full of those utterly inane 'inspiring' and 'quirky' quotes that make me want to staple my eyelids shut and forget how to read. Yeah, those bloody 'Love You To The Moon And Back' ones. Again. Grrr.

The tables themselves are tiny - barely enough room for two to eat around them, let alone a family (unless you like having someone's elbow in your earhole). They're cluttered with menus, condiments, jam jars with flowers in, candles that aren't meant to be lit and pebbles with your table number on them. This pebble is tiny and hidden behind other stuff so you won't have noticed it before going to the bar to place your order. This then necessitates you either traipsing all the way back to the table to find it or conducting a frantic and elaborate game of charades with your fellow diners, over the heads of other patrons, trying to get them to tell you the number. This is not as much fun as it sounds.

The carpets have been ripped up, replaced with olde worlde type reclaimed wooden flooring. I suppose it's easier to clean, but it makes the place colder, more echoey and removes all the character. I'm sure the refitters told the staff that the floor had been put down wonky 'for authenticity' rather than admit they'd done a cack-arse job of it.
The wallpaper has been changed to one that resembles mock distressed wood panelling - horizontal wood panelling at that. A bit like a half-whitewashed garden fence, but with less chance of splinters.

The friendly bar area has been utterly destroyed. In its place is a great swathe of black and white tiles and a low, narrow bar. It looks for all the world like someone has set up a pub in the toilets of a 19th Century bath-house. Behind it sit large Mason jars of nuts and wasabi peas (all at an eye-watering £1.99 a handful), gleaming yet unused cocktail shakers and wine bottles with labels round their necks describing them in flowery Jilly Goulden speak - 'hints of chihuahua pee on a nettle with a side of tramp puke',  'toasted Renault Megane with back notes of regret and disappointment'. You know the thing.

And the food? Don't get me started on the food. From pie, peas and battered fish it's gone all quinoa (even my spellchecker doesn't recognise bloody quinoa), artichoke risotto and buckwheat. All 'drizzled with', 'artistically arranged on a bed of' and 'with a twist'. The prices have gone up accordingly, of course - no more meal deals, no 'specials' days. A fiver for a baked spud?! Is it a magic spud? Will it convey me to the dizzying heights of culinary ecstasy previously unknown to mankind? Is it an ethically sourced, grown on the slopes of The Andes cruelty-free eco-spud? Is it buggery - it's a bog-standard King Edward out of a 50 kilo bag delivered every Wednesday by Trevor or Dave or someone. Along with all the other pre-prepared-heat-it-up-pretend-it's-home-made fare. This is still a chain, I'm not as green as I'm cabbage looking. A small rump steak with a jacket potato (HOTH had to send it back as they'd brought it out with chips by mistake) and a jacket spud with chicken, bacon and mayo came to nearly twenty quid with two soft drinks. This is the North!

The refurb has also alienated much of the previous clientele. It was almost empty when we went, where previously you had to smile menacingly with narrowed eyes at people lingering over their pudding before you could get a table. Or pinch SBOTH to make him cry, comforting him loudly saying 'It's alright SBOTH. I'm sure we'll be able to get something to eat soon. Look, that nice lady & gentleman have nearly finished' - accompanied by a steely glare (disclaimer - no SBOTHs were pinched or harmed in our quest for a table. Probably).

It's sad, but I don't think we'll be in a hurry to go back either. The Trendy Trend has gone one step too far this time. Nowhere seems to be safe. Mark my words, this time next year The Rover's Return will be a bean-bag seated, Wi-Fi hub filled with beardy hipsters sipping overpriced vinegary plonk out of baby bottle, probably renamed The Spork and Lederhosen or something; The Queen Vic will be an open mic free-jazz-cum-scat-performance-poetry joint refurbished to look like the inside of Kafka's underpants, in terracotta tile. The Trendies are coming. Don't say I didn't warn you!

THIS is a pub

I've had a plateful of platitudes

Sunday, 11 October 2015

It was Week Three on Strictly Come Dancing and the theme was 'Movie Week'! The glitz and glamour of Hollywood brought to us through the medium of dance as only the Strictly gang can. Claudia should feel right at home, seeing as she presents Film <insert current year here>. So, what did the night bring us? Was it all Oscar winning performances, or was it worse than a very bad am-dram performance of The Scottish Play? Although, I won't hear a word said against amateur dramatics - it's where I met HOTH, after all. Mind you, we were good. You should have seen my Australian fairy in Cher wig and silver monkey boots, dahling! So....ladies and gentlemen, grab your massively overpriced popcorn, haul your mega-sized giant soft drink (the one which means you'll be needing a wee halfway though this review but, since it's so very good, you'll just wiggle till you've got to the end) and DON'T drop your Cornetto on my sofa - away we's Strictly Come Dancing - Movie Week!

The curtain rose with a turn from weathergirl Carol Kirkwood. This week Carol was performing a quickstep to Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair from South Pacific. Unfortunately, this was more quicksand than quickstep. Carol's 'hairwashing' movements looked more like she was trying to get rid of nits and she was dragged around the dancefloor by partner Pasha, who was obviously giving instructions through gritted teeth again. She failed to storm through the performance, instead she skipped and hopped and flopped about through the routine, with little technique or style. She always has a bemused expression on her face - like she's not sure why she's there or who the nice young man barking orders at her is. While still something of a wash out, she is showing some improvement, apparently, the judges giving her 17 out of 40.

Up next was boxer Anthony Ogogo, this week attempting a Paso Doble to Eye Of the Tiger from Rocky III. I TOLD you they'd be giving him boxing related songs all the time, didn't I? Now, the Paso is one of my favourite dances when it's done well. Unfortunately, this one wasn't. With his persistent shoulder injury Anthony couldn't perform any of the passionate poses, fearsome framing or animal attack associated with the dance. I've seen more command and drama in a pre-school Nativity play. The sweeping gestures were lost, with Anthony looking like he was showing partner Oti round his front room instead of a bull-ring and there was no cape-swirling action in this caper. This was more Matalan than matador, I'm afraid. Will Anthony be off the hook and Survivor till next week? I'll Paso on that question. The panel scored a dismal 19 out of 40 so he's going to have to canvas for the viewer vote if he's to stay much longer.

Classy lassie Katie Derham followed, with a choppy Cha Cha Cha to Pretty Woman from the film of the same name. The dance started well with some nice wiggle and hip action, but quickly dropped off into a stiff, stilted routine with very little Cha Cha Cha content. Anton had clearly slipped a Gere or two when he choreographed this. Poor Katie was left standing around waving her arms for half the dance, when we know she is capable of so much more. They failed to use the dance floor so much this ended up all Anton, no deck. Too much stop / start faffing about - there was no fairytale ending this time. If you're going to stay in, the viewers will need to call, girl. Just 20 out of 40, though Anton admitted this was all his fault.

Kellie Bright and partner KevinfromGrimsby brought a cracking Charleston to the Cantina Band tune from Star Wars. Luke and learn, people, this is how you do a Charleston. Yoda thought this dance was made for Kellie, who was Wookiee to get such fab choreography from Kevin. All the Charleston moves were there, lots of kicks, flicks and tricks with plenty of swivel to prevent Craig from giving them the Death Star(e). This dance will definitely Leia challenge at the other dancers' doors - it certainly gave me Palpatine-ations. Kellie, you danced up a storm, trooper! The judges' score of 32 out of 40 must certainly have given her A New Hope.

Someone had to follow that corking routine. And that was Ainsley Harriott who was dancing a Cha Cha Cha to Boogie Wonderland from the film Happy Feet. Ainsley may have been dressed as a penguin, but he couldn't get the wrapper off this dance. This was more flopper than flipper with no hip rotation, no wiggle and frantically flailing feet. The trouble with Ainsley is that he gets so carried away showing off and larking about that he forgets the routine and ends up making it up as he goes along. This earned him a chilly reception from the judges, fed up with his Antarctic antics. He needs to eat some Humboldt pie (that's a type of penguin, apparently) if he's to stay in much longer. Just 20 out of 40 from the panel.

Alleged actress Georgia May Foote followed with a rumba to The Writing's On The Wall from new Bond film, Spectre. I've said before, the rumba is my least favourite dance, which is basically just walking about to slow music, pouting and waving your arms a bit, occasionally pretending to Do A Snog. It says a lot about my romantic streak, doesn't it (you may have read my thoughts on stuff like 'Love You To The Moon And Back' - if not, it's down there on the earlier posts on my blog)? There was no spectre-cal in this routine I'm afraid. Hardly any rumba content at all, no flow, no push through the legs, nothing. Far too much posing and posturing, certainly no licence to thrill. Georgia was more bothered about her hair when it finished. Len Goodman gave her partner a proper telling off for shaking his head at the judges' comments. That was certainly a Blofeld by him and I think he should take his Q from former bad boy Brendan and learn to take the hits. Still, there was the odd score of 007 and Georgia totalled 27 out of 40.

Gorgeous Helen George was up next with a fabulous little foxtrot to I Wanna Be Loved By You from classic movie Some Like It Hot. Blonde bombshell Helen coped tremendously with a super smooth routine full of glitz and glamour. There was great glide and faultless footwork from Marilyn lookalike Helen. Certainly no midwife crisis in sight, with even KevinfromGrimsby mouthing 'that was good!' at the end. Thoroughly enjoyable, the judges did love her - the odd comment about a death-grip on Aljaz aside (and who can blame her), they gave her an amazing 32 out of 40. Helen might be here for the full term.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, up next came Daniel O'Donnell who danced - and I say that in the loosest terms -  a cheerless Cha Cha Cha to Summer Nights from Grease. I have very fond memories of Grease. I remember begging my nana to take me and we queued around the block at The Carlton Cinema (there were no multiplexes in those days) to watch it. We re-enacted the dance routines in the playground at school - with my friends, that is, not my nana. That would have been weird, even in the seventies. Well, thanks to Disastrous Dan my childhood is ruined, the memories sullied. This rotten routine left a worse taste in my mouth than waking up after a night of Jagerbombs and a kebab on garlic naan, eaten through a rugby player's jockstrap (ahhhh....those were the days). Although he was meant to look like John Travolta as Danny Zuko, Doleful Dan looked more like Father Ted as Elvis and danced just as badly. This routine was ploddy, shoddy, off beat and out of time. A Cha Cha car crash. O'Donnell skipped around the floor like he was dancing the maypole at a summer fete, more dozy don't than dosey do with no hip action, no style and no character. Grease was the worst - with Daniel not so much being a T-Bird as a T-Urd. He scored 21 out of 40 with a warning from Len to skip the skipping next time.


Spot the difference!

Kirsty Gallcher followed with an American Smooth to He's A Tramp from Disney dog-fest Lady And The Tramp. Starting with the classic 'spaghetti scene' Kirsty definitely gave the judges paws for thought this week. There was no danger of her taking the lead, but it shouldn't be all rover for her either. She's upped her pedigree and the nerves seem to be settling, but there was an error and wardrobe malfunction she couldn't cover. It threw her for the rest of the routine and left her hot under the collar. Dogged determination saw her through to the end, but the smooth was a bit stiff and lacked the necessary flow. She may still be at the tail end of the leader board however her 23 out of 40 is her highest score to date.

Popster Peter Andre  performed a passable Paso Doble to the Pirates of the Caribbean theme (that's a lot of p). Dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow, Pete seemed a little out of his Deppth this week. He tried hard with some nice attack and good character, but it was all a bit stompy and stampy with wild flailing arms instead of controlled aggression. Partner Janette Manrarararararararararara did her best to keep him in check, but this was no treasure of a dance. There was no trace of a Jolly Roger (DON'T!!) and it did little to shiver me timbers. Pete was a bit marooned and all at sea, certainly not his finest outing. The judges gave him his lowest score to date - 28 out of 40.

Jamelia came next with a stodgy salsa to Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel from the film Charlie's Angels. If Heaven is missing an angel, they won't look too hard after this routine. Jolty Jamelia was heavy-hipped and stilted throughout. There was no finish to her arm movements and no proper transitions. Messy armography, laboured links and missed steps meant the brightest thing about this routine was her canary yellow costume. She didn't make a complete Charlie of herself, but she had a Devil of a time with the timing. Maybe she needs to return to the academy. The routine scored 25 out of 40.

Journo Jeremy Vine tried to show his fun side with a Charleston to Top Hat, White Tie and Tails from Fred Astaire flick Top Hat. Even after roping in comedian brother Tim to help, Jezz was more Fred Flintstone than Fred Astaire. Although the Charleston is a flappier dance with plenty of room for fun, Jeremy was still stiff and stilted with no flair on his feet and a strange swivel like he was trying to put out a crafty fag. He lacked rhythm in parts, lost his timing and showed little togetherness with his partner. More Top Cat, Pork Pie and Ales it was a cartoonish display. This may not have been entirely intentional, but it did enough to split the judges who thought this was an accomplished enough effort and earned him a fairly impressive (for him) 24 out of 40.

Gorgeous Gleb's partner Anita Rani was next on the floor with a wonderful Viennese Waltz-based American Smooth to Unchained Melody from Ghost. Anita held the audience in her Sway(ze) with a romantic routine that was a joy to watch. The dance had plenty of mood and character, and she was all fired up to throw all she could into it. There may have been some pottering about, but there was a wheely nice move where Gleb pulled Anita across the floor underneath him (he looks better with facial hair, by the way. He's too pretty clean shaven). The judges wanted more classic American Smooth content, but it was a spirited performance that haunted the audience. A respectable 29 out of 40.

The show was brought to a dramatic finale by boy-band bopper Jay McGuinness. He gave us a jaw-dropping jive to music from Pulp Fiction. Starting with You Never Can Tell and blending seamlessly into the theme, Misirlou, this was an incredible, flawless performance. Jay's nerves had vanished as he came out with killer kicks, fantastic flicks, total togetherness and utterly on point moves. This was the Jules in the crown of the night's dances. Every move was a hit, man. There was no need for a Keitel clean-up on this routine. In fact, a friend of mine (yes, I do have them) who watched Strictly for the first time last night couldn't tell which dancer was the celebrity and, to be honest, Jay looked as good as any of the pro dancers last night. The judges were utterly blown away with the skills on show. Craig, Darcy and Len gave him very well deserved nines, but Bruno pulled out the first TEN of the season. IN WEEK THREE!! A mahoosive 37 out of 40. Let's hope Jay can keep this up - he's starting to become someone I look forward to watching each week.

And so, the final reel was over. The lights came up and the dances were done for another week. It was all down to the viewers and their incomprehensible voting.

The 'Sunday' show rolled around with much anticipation. The scores had been tallied and the bottom two celebrities were wheeled out to dance for their Strictly lives. More fake tension building with the heartbeat music - and the obligatory break for the music guest of the week (Andrea Bocceli performing Don't Cry For Me Argentina from Evita, singing it in forrin so I couldn't join in and assault HOTH's ear 'oles) - and the dunces of dance were revealed. ANTHONY OGOGO and AINSLEY HARRIOTT were up for the chop. People must be voting for Pasha rather than Carol's skills. Either that or girlfriend - and prior dance partner - Rachel Riley is holding the Countdown audience hostage and making them vote for him. Quick and very bad Countdown joke - what is Rachel Riley's favourite k d lang song? Consonant Craving (thank you very much, I'm here all week. Unfortunately).

Ainsley seemed to concentrate a bit more and actually perform some of the choreography Natalie had devised this time round. Anthony, sadly, just gave us more of the same as he did in the first performance. Sensing that he was unlikely to learn the ropes or show any improvement in the weeks to come, the judges voted unanimously that ANTHONY OGOGO should pack up and go go. The seconds were out and the round was over. Time to hang up his dancing shoes and head to the dressing room. Sadly, Anthony had never given us a knockout performance and is the second sportsman to take an early bath.

So. Two down, thirteen to go. Who's going to be unlucky next week? There's only one way to find out - KEEP DANCING!!!!

Wake me up before you Ogogo..........

Sunday, 4 October 2015

It looks like I made the right decision on Saturday night when I decided to watch Strictly Come Dancing instead of the rugby. By all accounts, England gave Australia more ballroom than the dancers had, but at least I was entertained.

It's Week Two - time to say goodbye to someone as one of our celebrities left the show. The scores from the last two weeks were added together with the viewer vote - and we all know what a game-changer that can be. So what happened on Saturday night? Here's a (low) blow by blow account of the night as I saw it.

The show was opened by Jamelia who was dancing a Cha Cha Cha to the Pussycat Dolls' Dontcha. Jamelia must have misunderstood that as Don't Cha Cha Cha. She tried her best but there was no real technique - she stomped rather than strutted, her legs were wonky and her arms had gone to an entirely different party. She had sass and attitude in her character as a diva but, honestly, it was danced better by the bloke on the insurance ads (you know, the one with Sharon 'which face are we wearing this week' Osborne). Jamelia needs to put more work in if she's to stay and scored just 21 out of 40.

Next up was a doleful Daniel O'Donnell. Poor Dan was saddled with a Charleston supposedly set at the races. The Charleston is a really difficult dance and one Craig is always picky about. We all know Craig loves a good swivel. Dancing to Let's Misbehave, dreadful Daniel plodded round like a three-legged donkey, despite Kristina choreographing a relatively easy dance that was low on content. The clueless crooner lost track and there was some frantic bit in the middle where I almost called the vet. He's going to have to jockey for position for a while, but unless Kristina can nag him I don't think Dan will be in furlong. Still, he did better than last week with 23 out of 40.

Hot on his heels was Kirsty Gallacher, this week dancing a salsa to You Want A Little Of This. Sadly, it was more Mexican't than Mexican for Kirsty. She spent longer in the air than the International Space Station as partner Brendan resorted to Anton techniques to disguise the flaws on the floor. There was very little actual dance content, no wiggle, no sass and no sexy senorita in sight. Kirsty was too stiff and disjointed, still suffering badly with her nerves. There was no sauce to this salsa and she may dip to the bottom of the leaderboard after this. Just 20 out of 40 from the panel.

Up next was nervous newbie Jay McGuinness, dancing a wonderful waltz to See The Day. With newly shorn locks, Jay still looked like he'd rather have a full body wax than dance, but the boy shouldn't worry. His routine left Darcy speechless in admiration as he glided (glid?) around the dancefloor. He had great rise and fall, fabulous footwork and sublime spins. He still needs to relax, but when he made eye contact with Aliona he absolutely shone. We couldn't have Wanted for more - the boy done good. Are you Glad You Came? Jay should be - while Craig commented on this thumbs it was thumbs up from the judges - a whopping 31 out of 40.

Iwan Thomas hit the dancefloor next, giving us a Cha Cha Cha to Sexy And I Know It. Sadly, the runner was well off track. Partner Ola had provided wine gums as a reward for doing well, but this dance took the Pinot. Yet more timewasting with shirt ripping, knee slides and break-dancing before even a Cha Cha Cha step was attempted. Again, this was probably just as well. Iwan's race may already be run - this was a dance disaster. There was very little content, twerpy twerking and at one point he just forgot to move altogether. Stiffer than a Mary Berry meringue he clomped around the dancefloor with all the rhythm of a rhino in rhinestones. Already low on confidence after last week, Iwan scored a crushing 13 out of 40.

Following this was Corrie starlet Georgia May Foote, dancing a waltz to Georgia On My Mind. The Bury lass was no pudding and even Ray Charles would have been able to see she has potential. There were some elegant moves and sweeping steps, but she lost her top line a few times and ended up looking like Uncle Fester. She was a bit clippy in her transitions and needs to point her toes more but there will be plenty of time to work on these. Georgia will be on our mind for quite some time longer, I think. The judges agreed and gave her 25 out of 40.

Then along came Ainsley Harriott, who sold a salsa to Don't Touch Me Tomatoes (no, I've never heard of it either). The dance suited Ainsley's personality - cheeky and cheery with lots of energy. Not bad for a bloke knocking 60. It was a shame he messed up in the middle, but he covered it by cooking up his own moves - even though they were a bit wild, wacky and off menu. He's certainly not had his chips with this spicy little number, but - while it's obvious he's enjoying himself - lack of concentration could be his undoing in the later rounds. He was cooking with gas on Saturday though with a respectable 26 out of 40 from Len & Co.

Dancing next was Carol Kirkwood. The woeful weathergirl delivered a feeble foxtrot to Caught In The Rain. It was more Caught In The Headlights. Even an umbrella as a prop couldn't cover the fact that poor Carol was out of her depth. In fact, the brolly was a better dancer. She lacked rhythm, movement and musicality as partner Pasha pushed her around the dancefloor again. It's snow joke, I can tell you. 'Raining' champ Pasha should hand back the glitterball now as there's more chance of a heatwave in December than Carol lifting the trophy. It was a game attempt, but not scorching. She scored better than last week (though that's not saying much) with 20 out of 40.

Kellie Bright was alright on the night, dancing a charming Cha Cha Cha to Don't Go Breaking My Heart. The seaside themed dance had lots of content and Kellie 'shore' gave it a good go. There was plenty of hip action, but it got a bit spiky at times and lacked fluidity. But you can 'sea' there is potential here so I'm not going to 'beach' about it too much. KevinfromGrimsby reined it in this week and the future looks Bright for Kellie. She earned a respectable 27 out of 40.

Boxer Anthony Agogo followed with a weary-looking waltz to If You Don't Know Me By Now. If you don't know by now, he's still carrying that shoulder injury which restricts his arm movements. Not sure how it can be restricting the rest of his movement, though. Anthony was too stiff and upright throughout and lacked the rise and fall needed for the waltz. The dance lacked flow and elegance and he was flat-footed and wooden. There was no romance in this dance and he just looked uncomfortable. Not so much a Rumble In The Jungle as a Fumble With Bungle. Just 19 out of 40 for Anthony.

One Show wonder Anita Rani was up next with partner Gleb. Gleb Gleb Gleb Gleb Gleb, Gleb.....sorry, don't know what came over me there. Anita presented a controversial Charleston to Paolo Nutella - sorry, Nutini's  - Pencil Full Of Lead (I am NOT saying anything about the lead in Gleb's pencil. That's far too graphite, I mean, graphic). The robbery themed dance may have stolen the show with plenty of kicks & flicks, but not really a lot of traditional Charleston content, with Bruno calling it Swing Jive. It may not have scored the 'heist' on the night, but Anita was 'Bonnie' enough and saved an error in the 'nick' of time. She can have 'arrest' until next week - Anita will be One to watch for a few weeks with a healthy 27 out of 40.

Jeremy Vine took to the floor after Anita with a tango-based American Smooth. That's tango the dance, not the drink, but you could be forgiven for getting that mixed up. Jeremy may have danced to Happy Together, but he and his partner Karen (Mrs Kevinfromgrimsby, by the way) don't seem to be. It's always a bad sign when the VT before the dance wheels out the cute kids and family loyally supporting Daddy. Jeremy's young daughter featured heavily. Poor Jezza gave it good gusto, but had no gumption. At times he looked like Crazy Legs Crane as he flapped his arms wildly around, nowhere near the beat. This dance was more crunchy than smooth and, with its library theme, may show that Jeremy's departure is already overdue. This was dancing by numbers - and those numbers were 17 out of 40.

 Jezza giving it large

After Jeremy came classy Katie Derham dancing a terrific tango. This dance had plenty of attack, attitude and technique. Anton was like a dog with two.....tails. What's gone wrong? He's never had a partner with such talent. There was lots of content and Katie was really fleet of foot. There was a minor error, quickly covered up, but this Orchestral Manoeuvre doesn't need to be in the dark. A symphony of skill, though there are some tweaks to be made to Katie's core and frame. This masterpiece was awarded 28 out of 40. Anton has never scored so highly - cumulatively, never mind in one go. He may make it to Blackpool yet!

Peppy popster Peter Andre hit the floor with partner Janette Manraraskirt, giving us a quirky quickstep to Valerie by The Zutons (though this was the faster Amy Winehouse version). Peter gave it a good Aussie go - proving that the antipodeans could bring a better showing on the dancefloor as well as the rugby pitch on Saturday night. His knees were a bit too high on the traverses - at one point he looked like he was representing the Ministry of Silly Walks - and his free arm got a bit swingy, but overall it was a good attempt at a difficult dance. You'd be Insania if you thought Peter was going to take an early bath. The judges loved it and gave the orange tic-tac-toe tapper 30 out of 40.

Rounding off the show was Helen George. The Call The Midwife star finished with an accomplished Cha Cha Cha to Uptown Girl by Billy Joel. Aljaz had devised a mechanic theme and he may well have been engineering their way through to next week. This 'Trixie' little performance had lots of content and Helen provided plenty of wiggle, lovely locked legs and sexy swivel. Her former ballet training sometimes comes through with her foot placement, but it didn't put a spanner in the works as the judges said it was the best Cha Cha Cha of the night. There's 'womb' for improvement but, baby, Helen's good to watch.

And that was that. All the dances done. The contestants' scores were combined with the phone votes of the viewing public. After the (predictable) and the pretence that this was Sunday even though we all know the whole shebang is recorded on the Saturday night - the two couples in the dance off were (dun dun dunnnnnn) Iwan Thomas and Jamelia. No real surprises or utter shocks there, then.

Both had to dance again, with the judges making the final decision who was to stay and who would be the first to go. There was improvement from Jamelia, if anything Iwan was worse (if that's possible).  The judges certainly knew who they wanted to keep in the competition and their decision was unanimous.

So it's official. The first celebrity leaving Strictly Come Dancing 2015 is IWAN THOMAS. Again, it's not like this came as a massive surprise or that there were more deserving candidates for the chop. Sorry Iwan, it seems you're one of the sportsmen who can't translate the skills to the salsa, the talent to the tango, the win to the waltz (I could go on for a bit here, couldn't I?).

One down, fourteen couples left. Another week closer to Christmas. Until next week, my dears, KEEP DANCING!!

 Iwan me, Iwan me together.......