Hello again, everyone. Welcome to the Spooktacular Strictly Halloween Special round up! Sorry it's a bit late this week. It was mine and HOTH (Husband Of The House)'s anniversary this weekend and we were busy celebrating. Well, mainly queueing in Asda when all their card payment machines were infested by gremlins and a mooch round B & Q, which is all we're up for these days.
Well, it's that time of year when we are subjected to displays of utter horror, spine-chilling frights and terrors to torment your very soul. But enough about Ed Balls' dancing for now - and at least we won't be subjected to Anton's gurning and mugging at the camera now Lesley has left.
Listen to them - the children of the night. What music they make! Oh, wait, that's Dave Arch, his orchestra (with Phil Boo-pitus look alike on bass) and the Strictly Singers. So whose routine gave the judges a Nightmare on Elstree - and who was an absolute Thriller? Take my hand, don't be afraid. I don't bite.........much.
Craig wasn't happy when Darcey interrupted him in make-up
The Strictly Halloween Special is traditionally a night of spectacular costumes, cheesy songs and routines shoe-horned into songs vaguely related to the occasion. This year was no different, of course. Would we want it any other way?
Lycanthropic Louise Redknapp opened the show with a chilling Charleston to Emile Sande's Crazy In Love. Louise was allegedly dressed as Harley Quinn. Unfortunately, she looked more like a sanitised cheerleader. It was no Joker, put it that way. Louise was no Bouncy Beyonce. Harley Quinn? She was Harley dancing. The routine seemed low on content for her, while Kevin leapt about like he'd had too much popping candy. It was slower than expected, low on content and a bit too controlled, tame and laid back. The judges loved it, though, and awarded Louise 35 out of 40.
Rotten Judge Rinder came next dancing a paso doble to Born This Way by Lady Gaga. He was inexplicably dressed as a moth. Now I know some people don't like moths - and there are cannibalistic moths out there - but it wasn't particularly Halloweeny. Anyway, the dance itself was something of a surprise. The Judge started off a little wobbly as a ten-legged caterpillar (I told you it was weird) but he soon blossomed into a routine that had wings. He was fabulously flamboyant, with good attitude and attack. There was poise, purpose and great posture and he led partner Oksana really well. There was good technical content, including some difficult knee walks. The Face was on show, of course, but he scored a very respectable 32 out of 40 - his strongest dance to date.
Creepy Claudia Fragapane followed with an awesome American Smooth to Little Mix's Black Magic. This time Claudia was dressed as a teenage witch. While her dancing casts a spell, the teen theme is getting a bit boring now. This routine was like a box of chocolates. One of them posh ones with something that everyone likes - not the kind that has a festering lavender creme left at the bottom that no-one will eat. The dance was flowing and fluid and Claudia coped with difficult choreography with elegant ease. She had grace, poise, polish and performance as she swept around the floor and kept in character all the way through. A bewitching effort that earned her 36 out of 40 from the panel.
And so we segued to Awful Anastacia and Brendan on a Swegway dancing a joyless jive to Bat Out Of Hell by Meatloaf. Bat out of hell? This was a dance out of hell. The lack of chemistry between Anastacia was really obvious after her showing with Gorka last week and he standards slipped accordingly. This was a pedestrian dance - low on content, technique and difficulty. The kicks and flicks were laboured, not clean and sharp and with little retraction. She wasn't even out of breath at the end, which was telling - most other celebs can't speak to Claudia Winkleman, never mind chat to Tess. The judges weren't impressed either - just 25 out of 40 scored.
Diabolical Danny Mac followed with a frightful foxtrot to Take Me To Church by Hozier. I thought I'd have to Hozier down after this, but it just didn't happen for Danny on the night. The routine had him and Oti weirdly tied together. Their bonding by band may actually have impeded the performance. While he had fairly good footwork he made a lot of mistakes. He tried his best to cover them but there were too many and were glaringly obvious. This seemed to knock his confidence and he wasn't as smooth as previous weeks. He was off balance leaving the routine stuttery and a bit laboured. He received his lowest score to date - which, being 30 out of 40, is a score some other dancers can only dream of right now.
Wailing Laura Whitmore was up next with a terror-ific tango to Paint It Black by Rolling Stones. Well, she certainly moved like Jagger on the night. This was a strong routine, with excellent V shaping, attack and focus. Laura showed the proper 'disinterest' in her partner needed for a good tango and while the steps had to be tailored around last week's ankle injury, she did the footwork justice. The dance had good change of pace from slow to fast and back again and she had good musicality throughout. this was her best dance so far and was reflected in the score - 36 out of 40.
Orrible Ore Oduba took to the floor with a creepy Charleston to Bow Wow Wow's I Want Candy. I know Halloween is a time for bizarre things, but Ore dressed as a sweetshop owning werewolf even had me baffled. Ore may have been the mutt nuts last week, but the curse of Halloween struck again. There was a bit of swivel and cross, but it could have been cleaner and sharper. To be fair, this was a dance with a lot of difficult content but maybe it was a bit too clever. Ore fluffed a couple of the lifts but covered it well enough and he lost timing and togetherness in the side by side sections. The judges thought it was sweet, though, and he still got 32 out of 40.
Gruesome Greg Rutherford then brought a really rotten rumba to Bring Me To Life by Evanescence. Not even Dr Frankenstein could have resurrected this routine. I know I don't like a rumba (mind you I've remembered one I actually did enjoy. Check out Robin Windsor & Kristina Rihanoff's number to Jar of Hearts - although I always hear it as jar of farts which isn't quite so romantic). Anyway. Greg. Yeah. Probably the less said, the better. He had some good posture and poise and gave it enough attitude, but the routine was so low on rumba content it was barely one at all - a fact not lost on Craig who reduced Natalie to tears with his harsh (but fair) comments. Greg's stiff hips in a routine that was pretty fast for a rumba earned him just 26 out of 40.
Deadly Daisy Lowe was the penultimate performer with a perilous paso doble to Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood. In sugar skull Day Of The Dead make-up, Daisy gave us a pretty languid paso with flamenco flavour. She had good arm detail and was tight and controlled, although the routine was a little low on content for me. Aljaz had thrown in some heel turns for Len and there was a nice twizzer in there if you like that sort of thing. Daisy had a good crack at character and the judges were impressed enough to give her 33 out of 40.
Evil Ed Balls closed the show with a crypt-ic cha cha cha to Love Potion Number Nine. There was no danger of the judges needing their Number Nine score paddle with this dance. I'm sure you must need confidence and self-belief to be an MP, but as a dancer Ed's is definitely misplaced. He was flinging his arms about all over the place again and there was more mince than a cottage pie factory. Ed may have been dressed as a mad scientist but he didn't have the formula for this routine. It was laboured and ploddy with Ed weirdly showing timing but no rhythm. I have no idea how that works. There was no togetherness, no hip movement and no spark. He must have shown some improvement though as he scored 26 out of 40 - and wasn't bottom of the leaderboard for once.
Mine and HOTH's wedding anniversary - sorry, Sunday - followed hot on the hellish heels of the dancers' devilish deliveries. The real Halloween Eve brought us the pre-recorded results show (Bruno & co were probably off Trick or Treating around the West End somewhere - I hear he's very fond of candy....). The pro-dancers opened the show with a fang-tastic routine with a tribute to the late Pete Burns who died earlier in the week. Their dance to Dead Or Alive's You Spin Me Round was a high-energy crowd pleaser to kick off the show in style.
Malevolent Laura Mvula siren sang her latest tune - a cover of The Fugees Ready Or Not which, while not very Halloween-y, was still very entertaining - especially with the pro dancers throwing some shapes around her.
Len and his ever-present Lens (okay, some footage of the earlier dances grabbed by the producer) took us through the evening's highs and lows and the judges' favourite bits of the night.
Then it was the moment we'd all been waiting for. The evil viewer votes had been counted and Terrifying Tess Daly was ready to bring us the results.
Maybe the theme of the show added to the tension, but even under the costumes and make-up the celebs looked more nervous than usual as the dreaded dance-off duo were announced. After what seemed an eternity, the bottom two were finally named.....
Daisy and Anastacia would have to dance it out for a place in next week's show. I think it's very clear that there's not much viewer love for these two seeing as they've been dance off regulars since practically Week One. Poor Daisy's face was glum beneath her make-up but Anastacia looked resigned.
Both couples reprised their routines. This time Daisy gave it more attack and attitude and had ironed out the couple of little errors from the first time. Anastacia.....not so much. The kicks and flicks were still missing and, if anything, there was less energy and performance.
The judges pretended to deliberate over their decisions and said the usual nice stuff, but it came as no great surprise that the verdict was unanimous - Anastacia was eliminated!
She's Outta Love and Outta Strictly - Adios Anastacia
Sadly next week is not a Bonfire Night special. I think the producers are missing a trick. Imagine all the
awful puns I could do with firework names? Oh well, until next week Guys (see - I managed to sneak one in) - KEEP DANCING!!