Sunday, 29 November 2015

It's been a funny old week in Strictly land. Rumours have been abounding in the press that the show is a 'fix' - particularly after last week's dance off where a patently poor Peter was saved from the chop by the judges - despite Jamelia being miles better on the night when it's supposed to count for everything. Beeb bosses have been falling over themselves to set the record straight and smooth ruffled feathers, not least because some newspapers have been making it all up as they go along misquoting stars and situations. I'm sure it'll all come out in the wash. It's certainly not done the ratings any harm.

Anyway, on to this week's batch of ballroom and load of Latin. Not to mention the excitement of the quickstep-athon. Who did what with whom? And was it any good? Who is gong to make it through to next week's Quarter Finals - Musicals Week? Read on, my pretties. 'Tis all laid here before you.

Kellie Bright opened the show this week with a smashing salsa to I Want You Back by The Jacksons. Kellie certainly put the End in EastEnders with some serious hip shakes and rotation. This routine - Kevin said it was the hardest he has ever choreographed - had plenty of shimmy and shake, bounce and flounce and lots of peppy energy. As usual, Kellie and Kevin were totally together in the side by sequences and it was a nice, flirty number. There were one or two wobbles in the lifts and, at one point, Kev appeared to shove Kellie across the floor like a demented Dyson, but overall it was an accomplished number. The judges gave 34 out of 40.

Up next was Katie Derham and partner Anton 'Wallace-off-of-out-of-The-Wrong-Trousers stunt double' du Beke. No, really, it's not just me that sees it. Have a look yourself if you don't believe me! They were dancing an Argentine Tango to some traditional music (I don't know what it was called. Something twangy and Spanishy anyway). There were some lovely lines and clever choreography involved in the routine, not to mention lots of traditional ganchos. But the dance seemed to lack some of the drama and passion we've seen in earlier versions and Katie's kicks lacked the necessary 'oomph' to provide polish. There were a couple of trips and a bit of pulling into position as well which caught the eye. Credit to her, though, you can tell she's put in a lot of hard work and it's starting to pay off. But is it a case of 'too little, too late'? The judges were happy enough, scoring Katie 32 out of 40.

Cracking tango, Katie!!

Blonde bombshell Helen George was next on the dancefloor with a wonderful Viennese Waltz to At Last, by Etta James. This was a gorgeous, romantic routine packed full of content. Aljaz isn't daft - he knows Len is a sucker for tradition and this dance had it in spades - fleckerls, pivots, spins, heel turns, the lot. There was beautiful storytelling in the choreography. Helen covered the floor magnificently and her frame, footwork and flair were near faultless. It was quite a clippy Viennese, not skimping on the steps and playing to Helen's strengths in grace, glide and elegance. The panel absolutely adored it - and Helen scored a near-perfect 39 out of 40.

Dark horse of dance Jay McGuinness followed with a terrific little tango to When Doves Cry by Prince. This dance definitely put the cat among the pigeons, alright. Jay kept a proper 'tango face' (no, I don't mean he was orange like Claudia, just that he was looking mean and moody) throughout the dance and played an actual character all the way through. This was an awesome routine, stuffed full of passion, drama and drive. There was an air of sexual tension between the pair and Jay showed his natural musicality, perfectly in time and on beat, moving together with Aliona from start to finish. He had a fabulous frame, faultless footwork and tight turns. There were sharp staccato steps and perfect position and poise. It was a hot, steamy dance that left Darcey speechless. Misery guts Len harped on about missed heel leads, but he was just being picky. Jay scored an impressive 38 out of 40.

Apricot artiste Peter Andre and partner Janette Manrarararararaheyheyheygoodbye hit the floor with a foxtrot based American Smooth to The Sweetest Feeling. The routine was set in a bakery and was so saccharine that the first two rows of the audience probably developed diabetes by the end. Clearly shaken after Blackpool, Peter tried to rise to the occasion, but he couldn't seem to get back on a roll. The nerves must have bread as Peter stomped and clomped through the dance again, with bent knees and flabby frame. For some reason he kept arching his back and looking skywards and when he wasn't doing that he was gurning into camera instead of focusing on his partner. Peter's frame was as hunchy as his face was scrunchy and the whole thing was more crunchy than smooth. It totally lacked any swing, sway or glide. The whole thing was a bit too careful, even though he fluffed a fairly simple lift. His comment afterwards that he felt 'fantabulamundo' took the cake (he deserves to go for that alone, in my opinion. I nearly chucked my cream horn at the screen). The judges were left feeling flatter than a stale pikelet, scoring him just 31 out of 40.

Countryfile cutie Anita Rani was lumbered with a rumba this week to Read All About It (which explains the bizarre giant Kindle prop, anyway). This was the dance that split the judges. Gleb had choreographed a lovely contemporary routine with lots of romance. There were some nice fluid moves as Anita showed her sexy side and poor Gleb nearly knackered his clackers with a box split attempt. There were some technical issues - Anita's legs could have been straighter and she needed to push through with her feet a bit more (the judges said they needed to see more balls on the floor, but I'm not sure if they were talking to Anita or Gleb). Let's remember, though, Anita has no dance background at all unlike some of her remaining co-stars. She has come such a long way since Week One and is shaping up to be a great performer. Len was livid about the lack of traditional rumba content and an illegal lift (I reckon someone had eaten the last Werthers, putting him in a mardy mood). I don't think it's fair that the judges penalise the celebrities for the pros' choreography - they have no say in the matter. Len's lack of lenience meant Anita scored the same as Peter, even though she was much better. Just 31 out of 40.

Georgia May Foote closed the show with partner Joe Varney, dancing a paso doble to The Final Countdown by Europe. In the VT, Georgia said that she and 'Joe' were like brother and sister. Which brother & sister? Cersei and Jaime Lannister? Have you seen those two? The petite pair gave it all they had - and there's no denying Giovani knows how to showcase Georgia, letting her start the routine with a solo spot. There was plenty of passion and drama in the dance, Georgia was fiery and fierce but she lost her frame too often, hunching her shoulders and detracting from the arm movements. It all got a bit frenetic, Georgia was too stiff at times and there was too much skirt swishing than is good for anyone - could it have been a cover for a forgotten step or two till Joe stepped in? The judges weren't as impressed this week, awarding 33 out of 40.

And so to the quickstep-athon. All seven couples on the floor at once in the dodgems of dance-offs. This could have had  massive impact on the scores as they were awarded on a sliding scale - one point for the worst, two for the next worst and so on up to seven points available to the winners. There were a few rules - all couples had to dance anti-clockwise, they had to stay in hold, no lifts allowed. Footwork, frame, flair and floor-cover will all taken into account. Pushing, shoving, bumping and barging were a no-no (boooooo). After a frenzied, confusing (to us mere mortals) ninety seconds the judges deliberated their decision. Some things were easy to spot - Peter was simply awful - barely covering any ground, hardly able to dance around the other couples, little content and sometimes just plain standing still. Jay drew the eye with spectacular spot turns, Georgia had grace. But, after a lot of faff during which the judges had to be reminded they were live....the results were as follows:

7th -  Peter
6th - Kellie
5th - Jay
4th - Anita
3rd - Katie
2nd - Georgia
1st - Helen

Weirdly, this had very little affect on the leaderboard - certainly not in terms of the top and bottom two pairs. Not so much of a shake up, then. More filler than killer. It all ended up with everything feeling a little flat - an anti-climax to the night.

And so to Pseudo Sunday. Frock change, audience shuffle, pro-dance - the usual. A Len's lens recap and explanation of why the marking went went like it did. It's almost as arbitrary as QI if you ask me. Adam Lambert (I'll be honest, I had to google him. I'm STILL no clearer) sang Another Lonely Night. He had a remarkably shiny suit on. He looked a bit like a wet otter with shoes on, to be honest. Anyway, after the obligatory 'in no particular order' announcements the lucky few were through and the dance off duos were announced. The pair in the bottom two, the ones unloved by the audience were.......Peter and Kellie!

Again, a bit of a surprise with Kellie. There are definitely less able dancers left in the competition (cough, Katie, cough). There may just be something about her - either her character in EastEnders or the public have never forgiven her for The Upper Hand and a stint on T-Bag & T-Shirt with good ol' Grotbags.

Kid Kellie spoons on the cute

Once they could shut Peter up with his schlocky sincerity and 'aw shucks l'il ol' me' schtick and we had a turn from highbrow opera boy band Il Divo (this does NOT translate to The Divvies, I'm reliably informed) they got down to the business in hand - or feet, as it were. After a repeat of the routines it was clear that one dancer had gone as far as they could, that they'd reached the pinnacle of their paso, the apex of their Argentine Tango, the acme of their American Smooth....well, you get the picture. Audience and judges alike had had their fill of..............

Mango musician Peter Andre. Clearly the viewers didn't love him as much as he loves his kids - and there's probably a backlash from last week when he was obviously the worst dancer on the night. Either way, the rumours of a fix have been firmly dealt with. While Peter started off well enough, he just didn't seem to improve. He'd reached a plateau. He was a duck-faced plateau-puss. The closest Peter is going to get to a glitterball is if someone buys him a sequinned thong in the Secret Santa. It's just as well - I was running out of synonyms for orange and things to do with Janette's surname!

Now that the amber Aussie has been booted off the show there's only one male celebrity left in the form of Jay McGuinness. How much longer will he last? Will it be an all female final? Log on to the blog next week for another rundown. I watch the show so you don't have to, folks.

Until then...............KEEP DANCING!!!!

Perky popster Peter's performances packed in by public

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