Sunday, 6 November 2016

Remember, remember the Fifth of November - it's Strictly Come Dancing Week Seven
Whose dancing should be placed on top of the pyre - and whose took us to dancing heaven?
Nine couples were left to vie for the prize for the glitter ball and the top spot
But never mind about the gunpowder and treason - which celebrity had lost the plot?

Good evening fellow Strictly chums! How was Bonfire Night for you? Like most, Strictly this week was full of explosions of energy and thrills - and just a few disappointing damp squibs. The anticipation was like setting up a Catherine Wheel. Or, as it's known in our house, the Disappointing Disc of Pfffttttttt. You really didn't know how it was going to go.

Guy Fawkes. Apparently. I think he looks more like actor Robert Lindsay doing his serious face.

But back to the show - who was on fire this week (not literally - that's going too far even for The Beeb) and who failed to go off with a bang? Put your mittens on, grab a sparkler and join me for the Bonfire Bonanza that is the Strictly Round Up.

'Dynamite' Danny Mac opened the show with a joyous jive to Long Tall Sally by Little Richard which was set in a pool hall. Cue a great routine. Danny was clean, sharp and controlled with crisp kicks and flicks. There could have been a bit more retraction but he had great character, frame and attack. He nearly broke his (pool) balls doing the splits but he caught a break with fab timing, synchronicity and energy. It's the return of the Mac - 38 out of 40 scored.

Daisy 'Light The Blue Touchpaper' Lowe followed up with a vivacious Viennese Waltz to Daisy Bell. I only know the rude version of this song so couldn't sing along since it was before SBOTH's bedtime. This was a lovely, whimsical routine set at a market. Daisy didn't stall once and really sold this number. It was twirly and swirly with some very fast spins, bags of style and overall charm. Aljaz had choreographed a nice story and Daisy stayed in character right to the end. Her frame sagged a little at the end, but that's being really picky. Daisy got her highest score to date - 34 out of 40.

Ore 'Ooooh' Oduba (alright, alright - I couldn't think of a better pun) came next with a sizzling salsa to Turn The Beat Around. Joanne Clifton really knows how to choreograph to best show off her partner (unlike some other pro dancers I could mention). Ore was was more happy and confident in the moves this week. The routine had lots of difficult content and rhythm with some fearless and secure lifts. He had some good shimmy and swagger but was missing the figure of eight rotation a little. It was energetic, perhaps a little frantic in places - and he looked like he'd had some face training from Judge Rinder. Overall a good comeback - hip, hip Ore. 34 out of 40 scored.

Ed 'Banger' Balls took to the floor with a clunky quickstep to Help! by The Beatles. Never was there a more apt song choice. If he's here next week may I suggest Go Now by The Moody Blues or We Gotta Get Out Of This Place by The Animals (actually, you could manage a decent foxtrot to that, come to think of it). Anyway, Ed's dance. This was a pretty slow quickstep with the pair dressed as Laurel & Hardy. It was straight out of Anton Du Beke's Strictly Handbook - when your partner can't dance well, do comedy. I'll be honest - I was expecting slopstick, we actually got some slapstick. While the plank prop may have had more style, Ed was surprisingly light on his feet. He had good character and there was a nice Charleston-esque section in the middle. His frame was OK, but he tended to get a bit skippy in a routine that was fairly...well....routine. The judges thought well enough of it, giving Ed his highest score to date with 27 out of 40.

Laura 'Whoosh' Whitmore followed with a saucy samba to Bamboleo by Gipsy Kings. Yes, I was singing it the rest of the bloody night. Except I only know the words 'Bamboleo, bambalyo'. Laura's dance had decent attack with some nice footwork, hips and swing. She did make a mistake or two and stumbled a little at one point - perhaps the music was a little too fast for her? Giovanni showed off throughout the dance with 'look at me' flashy moves and poncey pirouettes while Laura was reduced to standing there pouting and wiggling. This fact wasn't lost on the judges, with Len & Craig criticising him for his actions. Despite a couple of timing issues Laura still scored well with 32 out of 40.

Judge 'Rocket' Rinder was up next with the night's second quickstep to It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing). Well, this dance had it in bucketloads. The judge clearly loved this tricky routine, even if you could see him counting the beat out loud through clenched teeth. He tried to tame his face, but it has a mind of its own and just did what it does best. There was some lovely fleet footwork, nice travel across the floor and some pleasing promenade steps. Once he relaxed into the beat you could see he forgot to worry about the technics and in doing so nailed the technique. He has a sweet chemistry with partner Oksana,too, who is definitely bringing out the dancer in him. The judge was another who scored his highest to date - 33 out of 40, including his first 9 of the series.

Louise 'Roman Candle' Redknapp brought us the first Argentine Tango of the year to Tangeura by Sexteto Mayor. No, I've never heard of it either. Wow. Clever choreography is clearly a Clifton strength. Kevin had set a cracking number. This was a hot, steamy, sexy routine full of drama, attack, content and style. Louise played a great character and it looks like she's finally starting to believe in herself. There was good leg action with all the gauchos and ochos you could wish for (these are Argentine tango moves, apparently, and not side dishes at Chiquitos). Louise let rip with deep lunges, sass and attitude in a dance with great content and switch-up of style. The cheeky chica scored an astonishing 39 out of 40.

Greg 'The Guy' Rutherford was last but one with a Viennese Waltz to You Don't Own Me. This was a totally unique take on a 'normal' Viennese and completely different to Daisy's. Despite a little bit of a spiky start this was a full-on dramatic, powerful routine. Greg looked to be in control throughout, leading partner Natalie wonderfully across the floor. He had tight, even footwork and was strong and masterful. He still needs to work on his free arm but the judges loved the flavour of this dance - Craig's only niggle was a brief sticky-up thumb. A very decent 32 out of 40 for our Olympian.

Claudia 'Firecracker' Fragapane closed the show with a passable Paso Doble to Shut Up And Dance by Walk The Moon. An unusual choice of music in my humble opinion. It's a bit cheerful and poopy, sorry, poppy for a dance that's supposed to be about torrid toreadors and sizzling senoritas. Still, Claudia made a damn decent attempt. You can't fault her framing and she had perfect Paso arms, attack and attitude all the way through. The dance had plenty of content, technique and flair but, again, it seemed a little too fast for Claudia to keep up at times. Newbie AJ (i still can't get over that hair) clearly wants to impress the judges - and you can't knock him for the effort - but he needs to reel it in a little and choreograph to his partner's strengths and limits (or maybe take some tips from the CliftonsFromGrimsby). Claudia earned 33 out of 40 for her efforts.

And so the dances were done. The hotdogs had been eaten, the toffee apples scoffed. Someone had rescued Craig before he was chucked on the bonfire. Louise was top of the leader-board and Ed was yet again languishing at the bottom. All that was left was the wait for the results.

Everyone in the studio knew before they got the last bus home, obviously - minds wiped like Men In Black lest the spill the secret to their loved ones or the bloke in the kebab shop. Us mere mortals had to wait until Sunday and the edited highlights of the vote (I'm reliably informed that Claudia W is very sweary and naughty - can't be having *that* sort of shenanigans before the watershed).

This week Cheshire Crooner Gary 'Take That' Barlow - and his amazing performing eyebrow (seriously, that thing needs its own agent) - brought us a snippet of a song from his new musical 'The Girls'. This is based on the true story (and Hollywood film) of the WI ladies who stripped off for a calendar to raise money for cancer. There was a choir of ladies of a certain age provided backing vocals. Not so much The Three Tenors as the Thirty-Three Tena-ladies. Thankfully, Gary kept his kit on and there was no chance of seeing his trailing begonias before tea-time. For this I am eternally grateful.

Len got his lens out for a shufty at the shuffles and gave us a bit more insider knowledge for me to nick for me blog. Tess did her thing, the celebs twitched and sweated. Some screamed and cried when they learned they had been saved. It's fun to see who doesn't thank the public down the camera - you have to wonder if their card will be marked next week. Finally, the bottom two dancers were announced.............

Ore and Laura were in the dance off!! WHAT? I mean WHAT THE ACTUAL AND UTTER? I can't believe the viewers this week. Maybe everyone was out at a bonfire party and only Ed's mum & family were sitting at home voting. Alright, I know some people aren't that keen on poor Laura (or don't really know who she is unless they watch reality TV shows) and she'd had some difficulties with her dance but Ore?? Were people watching the same dance? Or was it voter apathy? People thinking 'Well, everyone will vote for Ore now so I'll vote for.....' Seriously, this week's outcome was frankly bizarre. Everyone was shocked with the result - the panel included.

The endangered duo took to the floor again to reprise their routines. Laura hadn't really sharpened up her moves much but she avoided the previous stumble. Giovanni still showed off. Ore....well, Ore just gave us more of the originally great number and stuck in some extra hips and smoothed out the lifts for good measure.

It was down to the judges - who would Len & Co save this week? Yeah - like I had to ask? Remarks were rightly made about the wrong couples facing the chop. Even though it mustn't have been that difficult a choice for them to have to make (sorry Laura) there are times when they get annoyed by the viewer vote. Eventually, after some discussion and deliberation....

Laura was booted off the show. 'Tis pity -  I'm sure Laura would have improved further given a chance.

Loathe her or adore her - it's the last we'll see of Laura. Whitmore is there to say?   She's out and on her way.

And that was that. All done & dusted. I'm off for a small sweet sherry and a French Fancy. Until next week.........KEEP DANCING!!!!!!

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