Sunday, 22 November 2015

It's Strictly Come Dancing Blackpool Week!!! You all know what that means. Yes, that's right. Terrible, awful Blackpool based puns. Plus a few others thrown in for good measure. Well, if you don't know me by now..........

Dancers at Blackpool have so much floor to cover, in such a big space, that everything has to be bigger, bolder, better. They get backing dancers and props galore to add to the spectacle. Even Craig arrived on a giant, sparking, sputtering Stratocaster, twanging his G-String (the one on the guitar, filthy!).

So, this week the show started with eight. Come on Strictly fans - why wait? The time has come to get down to it. Who was great and who was..........not.

Jay McGuinness opened the show with a stunning, sensational salsa to Cuba. He was certainly Havana good time strutting his stuff. He had definitely taken on board the judges' comments about engaging his face more and he positively Illuminated the place with his smile and personality. There was loads of high octane energy, plenty of hip rotation and sexy shimmy and shake. At times it was difficult to tell him apart from the pro dancers behind. There were a series of magnificent, dangerous lifts and spins that took Aliona's breath away. With lots of complex content and armography this was a near-perfect performance. The judge's scored the dance a cracking 36 out of 40.

Jamelia was up next with a trickier than it looked quickstep to I'm A Believer. There was no Monkee-ing around in this doll themed routine. There were a couple of missed steps, but that could be forgiven in such a content-filled routine. There were times when it looked like she was being dragged around a bit, and while her feet seemed solid, Jamelia's top line and frame wavered during the dance and, yet again, there was gapping. If she can get her top and bottom halves to work together there might be a dancer in there. Still, it was an improvement on previous weeks and certainly her best ballroom performance to date. She scored a Towering 31 out of 40.

Up next was Anita Rani performing a Paso Doble to traditional music. I'm afraid I lost the power of rational thought, speech and movement as Gleb appeared stripped to the waist in tight, laced-up matador trousers, but once the music got going and Anita covered him up a bit I managed to pull myself together enough to watch the dance. The Paso is one of my favourite dances when it's done well. And boy, did Anita deliver. This was The Big One. It had everything a Paso needs - drama, passion, heat, strength and drive. I'm giving you no bull here. There was great character and theatre, stunning form and lines and amazing arms. With this routine Anita is certain to be Carmen back next. Y Viva Anita! A great score of 37 out of 40.

Katie Derham appeared to have found her feet with a solid American Smooth to Ain't That A Kick In The Head. You can sea this is Anton's forte - basic ballroom in The Ballroom. A classic routine with touches of Hollywood glitz and glamour, playing to Katie's strengths. There was some style and grace with fairly difficult footwork. This may have led to the couple of stumbles that marred the routine and there was a mix up with direction and the backing dancers, but overall this was a really nice dance. It certainly Rocked the judges who awarded the pair 35 out of 40 - Anton's highest ever score. Things are looking beachy for Katie.

Clementine crooner Peter Andre and partner Janette ManraraBananarama followed with a joyless jive to River Deep, Mountain High. This dance was a mountain too high for Peter to climb this week. It just wasn't his dance. From the beginning Peter was off and behind the beat, flat footed, wooden, lumpy and leaden. There was barely any jive content (Jay's is still the best by a long, long way), no kicks and flicks that are characteristic of the jive - and those that were in there had flappy feet instead of pointed toes. Peter was weirdly leaning back all the way through and once again resorted to his pop moves and looking for a camera to gurn into. It was weird to watch - like he was doing Riverdance on a trampoline while trying to kick his shoes off. He lacked any technique and really looked like he wasn't enjoying himself at all. Usually prancing like a pony in any case, this time he was dancing like a seaside donkey. The judges weren't that thrilled either and Peter ended up well behind his Piers with 29 out of 40. The ONLY dancer of the night to score less than 30. Maybe someone's had a word with the judges about overmarking him?

Georgia May Foote was next with a Viennese Waltz based American Smooth (a Viennese Smooth?) to I Have Nothing. Who said 'between the ears?' Hmm? Get to the back, you naughty creature. Tut. There's always one. Anyway, this was a lovely, lyrical flowing dance and Georgia performed it beautifully. The well choreographed routine covered the floor nicely and there was bags of style, grace and sweep. There was a teeny mistake in one of the lifts caused by a wardrobe malfunction (the ever-present heel in the hem) but she covered and, what's more, recovered well.  All-in-all an accomplished, charming dance that conveyed plenty of romance. The judges' scores put her out in Front with 38 out of 40.

From Georgia to George. Helen George stepped out with a cheeky little Charleston to Anything Goes. Aljaz is no (sugar) dummy had choreographed a Broadway style routine, with tap sequences and stair dancing, but there was still plenty of proper Charleston steps to please. Helen gave it her all with loads of swivel, cross and scissor moves, birdy steps and marching arms (sadly no monkey knees. I love a bit of monkey knee, I do). It started off with bags of energy, but the difficult routine had Helen flagging towards the end - I wonder if she does all her own smoking stunts on Call The Midwife (her character Trixie spends most of the show with a fag and a Cinzano in hand)? There was an error in timing that Aljaz put down to 'the stairs moving' and Helen looked a little in pain as she limped off afterwards. Still, it was a polished enough performance, earning her 34 out of 40.

Kellie Bright closed the show with an office based quickstep to 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton. This was a fun dance with lots of clip and zip, but thankfully no trip, as Kellie whizzed around the dancefloor like a Catherine wheel. She showed the others who's boss as the routine had loads of difficult content, lots of bounce and zing. This dance was flash, fast and fab. Kellie was clean and sharp with great footwork and she was together on point with Kevin all the way through. One or two little niggles about top line and placing, but this dance can be filed alongside Kellie's best. She's definitely not had her (fish and) chips yet and should be Tram-pling over the competition for a few weeks to come. The judges scored her 37 out of 40.

And then, as if by magic, Sunday appeared. The production crew probably had less to do shuffling the audience round as you couldn't see those in the cheap seats anyway and everyone else was set well back. Quick frock change, top up Bruno's tan and here we were again at the dance off announcements. Nasalstacia, sorry Anastacia, provided one half of the turns singing 'I'm Outta Love'. Take That, apparently reinventing themselves as a Bette Lynch tribute act, sang their godsawful new song Hey Boy (sorry, lads, it's not one of your best) - you've got to get your money's worth after all. I'm surprised they don't have bingo and Open The Box as well. Of course there was the usual bit of a squint through Len's Lens - and the bottom two were announced.

To no-one's surprise at all Jamelia was there again. What did I say last week? She's been there so often it should be renamed 'Jamelia Junction'. She probably brought her own butties and cocoa to have while she was waiting for the inevitable. The viewers just haven't warmed to her at all and it's been a rare week when she's not had to dance again. This time, though, she was joined by satsuma songster Peter Andre. Not really that much of a surprise given his routine earlier.

Jamelia actually upped her game and tried harder - I couldn't really see much of an improvement in Peter's performance. The judge's though, in their infinite wisdom, chose to save Peter and send Jamelia packing. It was a bit unfair, as they're supposed to make their decision based on the showing on the night and NOT the previous performances or possible potential, but maybe they figured Jamelia was getting such an audience mauling they'd better put her out of her misery sooner rather than later. Len certainly wasn't happy with the decision - if it had been a split vote it'd have been a completely different outcome.

So, we're down to the Magnificent seven - who will dance on to glitterball heaven? Will frozen food flogger Peter survive another week? Tune in next week to find out. Until then you wee sherbet lemons you................KEEP DANCING!!

Jamelia - been around the bottom more times than a......I'll let you make your own jokes on this one!

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