Here we are again, happy as can be. Well, relatively. I hope everyone's okay after Ophelia and you didn't experience too much damage? I don't know about you, but that yellow sky / red sun combo on Monday really gave me the willies - and not in a good way.
As if that wasn't bad enough, we were battered by Storm Brian this weekend. I'm sorry, but Brian? Who the fudge calls a storm Brian? It's hardly the most awe-inspiring, terror-inducing name out there, is it? Apologies to any Brians reading this - I'm sure you're all perfectly lovely. Which is kind of my point. I know they name storms with human names starting with each letter of the alphabet, alternating female and male, but surely there are stronger names than Brian? Baelfire, for instance or Balthazar. I'd settle for Beauregard. But Brian? We can't have been the only family singing 'Brian, the storm they called Brian' a la Monty Python.
But back to the point of this blog. The Dancing Dozen were all vying for a place in next week's Hallowe'en Special. Take this as your advance warning of much punnage. It's also HOTH and my wedding anniversary so if my notes make any sense come the following Sunday morning you can count yourselves lucky. I may have just made it all up.
This week's Song Wot I Heard On The Radio And Did Do Decide A Dance To is....a foxtrot to Pompeii by Bastille, with AJ and Mollie dressed as Tellytubbies.
Just because of the 'eh eh oh eh oh, eh eh oh eh oh' backing vocals. Yeah, you can just see it, can't you?
But back to this week. We were bizarrely sans Bruno who apparently had 'other commitments'. What those are, I can only hazard a guess, which would probably be libellous so I'll keep schtum. Actually, he was apparently in Noo Yoik and has been filming Dancing With The Stars which has kept him on his toes. The Powers That Be decided not to bring in a guest judge for the night, which made things a bid odd and, well, restrained. Not to mention the fact that the scores this week were only out of 30.
And as for the dancers - who strutted to the top of the table and who was in the danger zone? Which couples danced it out again and who won't be raiding the dressing up box and their mum's make up for next week?
Follow me, as I take you on a journey to the dancefloor - and a whirlwind tour of the week.
Davood Ghadami and Nadiya kicked off proceedings - quite literally - with a jive to Tell Her About It by Billy Joel. Davood was dressed as a barista. I misheard and was expecting him to come out dressed like Judge Rinder but, no, they meant a coffee shop dude. It was a slowish jive with lots of skipping about, but he put lots of energy into the routine. There was a weird cartwheel in the middle which he just about pulled off and some nice basic technique like pat-a-cake moves which are apparently quite tricky. There were lots of kicks and flicks but, unfortunately, he didn't point his toes enough and there was no proper retraction. He was a bit heavy on his feet and his arms were too swingy but most of his posture was okay. I'm not one to mocha but these small details Costa lot of points. 22 out of 30 scored.
Mollie King and AJ were up next with a Viennese waltz to Anyone Who Had A Heart by Cilla Black. I'm not entirely sure who chose AJ's costume this week but he ended up looking more like a Ken Doll than ever..
Again, this dance took a while to get going. Half of it was in a gazebo for some reason. When it did get to the floor it was a fast, flowing number with lots of turns and twirls. Mollie was lovely and graceful, coping well with the swing and sway of AJ's difficult choreography. There were fleckerls and floor sweeps with more spin than a Tory government press conference. Mollie's fine posture and ability to appear to effortlessly follow AJ's lead got her a lorra lorra points. 24 out of 30.
Simon Rimmer and Karen followed with an alleged Charleston to Fit As A Fiddle (And Ready For Love) by Gene Kelly. Oh dear. Simon tried to find a character for the dance but fell rather short. The dance itself should have been fairly simple as it was low on technique. With Simon doing it there was no technique. There was no cross, no swing, no timing and absolutely no swivelling on his balls (of his feet, people). Simon was stiffer than Olaf's carrot as he lumbered across the floor. There was a nice slapstick break in the middle that showed some promise, and a fun train step, but his shoddy footwork and awkward arms spoiled it. He did keep up the pace, but it was a slow one to begin with. He tried to blame his lack of swivel on a torn Achilles tendon seven years ago but, as Craig pointed out, he had none in his other leg either. And, you know, Jonnie has one leg but you don't see him trying to play the sympathy card. Even some Scouse bias overmarking by Shirley meant just 16 out of 30 for Simon.
Debbie McGee and Giovanni brought us a romantic rumba to Baby Can I Hold You by Tracy Chapman. I'll be honest here - I have to crib most of my critique from the judges for a rumba. I really can't tell if the wiggle was working, the pout was put on right or the wave was in the right direction. Apparently, this was very good. Giovanni had stuck in what has now become Debbie's signature 'legs akimbo' move which, while impressive, is starting to wear a bit thin. She was nicely on the beat and had good, straight legs and the piece was emotional and sympathetic. I don't think the judges saw her lose her balance and stumble on her heels at the end. Or if they did they thought she'd done enough good stuff to counter it. Craig did a hilarious impression of Bruno, swinging his arms about and gyrating like a loon - even prat-falling off his chair. Debbie got a whopping 27 out of 30 and will probably be in a Fast Car to next week.
Not so Storming Brian Conley and Amy followed this with a jive to It's Not Unusual by Tom Jones. This certainly was. Our lolloping Lothario went back to his holiday camp rep days in a routine that was supposed to be all Hi-De-Hi but ended up low-de-low. Brian was outdanced by his face again and he staggered through this routine. He was lumpy and wooden, stamping about like he was trying to put out a fag. His feet were flat, there was no retraction and he leaned back too far. There was a half-hearted knee-slide that went wrong and very little energy. To be honest, it looked like he didn't want to be there and was putting in as little effort as he could get away with. The judges weren't happy campers and gave him just 16 out of 30.
Susan Calman and Kevin took to the floor with a cha cha cha to Shout Out To My Ex by Little Mix. I like Susan, I really do, but her routines are starting to become more about the storyline of the dance than the technique and style. Give Susan her due, though, she always tries her best (Brian take note) and puts everything into what she's given. This was an entertaining number with some difficult content and bags of energy. She did get a bit too carried away at times, to the cost of the finer details - her arms were windmilling about a bit and there wasn't much rotation in the hips. Not her best dance and, although Shirley was a bit overgenerous with the paddle, Susan scored just 16 out of 30.
Ruth Langsford and Anton surprised with a silly send up of a samba to Love Is In The Air by John Paul Young. Ruth started off the number dressed as a
Still, that look wasn't to last for long as she and Anton whipped their kit off to reveal hysterical fru-fru outfits straight out of the Seventies - or, at least, the film Strictly Ballroom!
This was obviously a distraction technique by Anton to draw attention away from Ruth's dancing but, you know what, it worked! The psychedelic flamingo-on-acid costumes really took the eye away from the fact that there was no hip action and no bounce. Ruth was wrong footed on many occasions and she was stiffer than a showroom dummy as Anton chucked her about the floor. They were definitely marked for the show they put on more than for the dance itself. Still, only 16 out of 30 though.
Gemma Atkinson and Aljaz demonstrated a stripped-back foxtrot to Believe. The Madilyn Bailey version rather than Cher. You know, one of those slowed-down breathy ones. Think John Lewis Christmas advert. Despite Gemma's somewhat pained expression she coped well with this dance. She was elegant and poised with a somewhat romantic and vulnerable character, which was sweet. Overall, the quality was good but she's still over-arching her neck which spoils her line and she needs some work to extend her arms a bit more. It was still an enjoyable routine and she scored 24 out of 30.
Joe McFadden and Katya stormed out with a passionate paso doble to Diablo Rojo by Rodrigo y Gabriela. This was a traditional flamenco based paso. Ole guacamole! Joe came out fighting on this one after last week's poor showing. This was all masterful matador with no-bull intent. Right from the kick-off Joe had great shaping, passion and intent. His arms were good, with the right oval framing and there were some nice knee walks. He had plenty of attack and intent, but it wasn't as eye-catching and enthralling as I would have liked. To me he seemed a bit stiff in parts (oi, naughty) and some of the moves looked too planned and placed. The judges loved it and Shirley must have had a dollop of whatever Bruno is usually on giving the dance an overmarked (in my humble opinion) 10. She said it was the best make paso so far this season, but since the others were Brian, Jonnie and The rev Richard Cole that's hardly difficult. A total score of 26 for Joe.
Alexandra Burke and Gorka were our penultimate dancers with samba to Shape of You by Ed Sheeran. Or, as MBOTH likes to sing 'I'm in love with your best mate Sue, but she's not here so you'll have to do'. Proper charmer I'm raising here, innit? Still, it's better than my version: 'I'm in love with Bill Oddie'. Anyway, Alexandra got off to a good, solid start and she totally owns every dance she's been given. This was a sexy, raunchy dance with plenty of hips, bounce, swagger and attitude. She kept bang on time and totally in step with Gorka from start and coped well with changes of pace and rhythm. It wasn't without its flaws, though. She was a bit pigeon toed which spoiled some lines and her feet were a little flat in parts. What was shocking was the woeful undermarking by the judges. Her scores were slashed for the tiniest of errors - either that or the panel had been told off for too many tens last week. To my eye she was better than many of her contemporaries but ended up with just 23 out of 30 - lower than Mollie, Aston and Gemma!
Jonnie Peacock and Oti brought the night to an end with a quickstep to Part Time Lover by Stevie Wonder. Jonnie had taken Craig's advice and sought the help of an acting coach to help him find a character. And it sort of worked. I mean, he's never going to give Steve Buscemi or Robert de Niro any sleepless nights but at least he gave it a go. Jonnie was dancing on his blade again to help with the speed needed for the routine. He was light and clippy throughout the dance with lovely footwork and he kept up with Oti all the way. There was a nice Charleston / jive break in the middle and he was accomplished both in an out of hold. He kept a cheeky, flirty character going till the end in a difficult, detailed dance with lots of content. He wasn't even out of breath at the end. Despite mortifying Shirley (she said he had a spring in his step - he said 'no pun intended', pointing at his blade) he scored a decent 24 out of 30.
And that was our lot. Pretty mixed bag, hey? I think we can see some definite improvement with some of the dancers. Others? Well, some of the others are like me in PE - must try harder. My PE teacher once told me that if I forgot my kit one more time I'd have to spend the lesson in the library. Like that was a punishment? I don't think I ever did PE again, but me and Judy Blume became very good friends.
Our scoreboard looked like this:
Debbie - 27
Joe - 26
Mollie, Aston, Gemma & Jonnie - 24
Alexandra - 23
Davood - 22
Simon, Brian, Susan & Ruth - 16
Then, suddenly, as if by magic, Sunday appeared. The pro dancers did full on Sixties style jive set around speed dating. It was all very colourful, even with Aljaz looking like Fred off of out of Scooby Doo. And Aljaz would do, thank you very much.
Tess of the Dullbervilles trotted out to tell us the first star in the dance off. In roughly the same time as the Mesozoic Era she had announced our first dancer in trouble was SIMON. Hardly the shock of the century and some sensible voting from the viewers at home for once. Everything would depend on who he was up against. If it was someone like Aston or Joe it would be sayonara Simon.
The Script came on to
The Panel's Perusals was up next. It was all a bit flat without Bruno's flouncing and lolloping. Mind you, this is the most boring part of the night now. They really should think of a way to spice it up - maybe challenge the judges to give a critique in the form of a limerick:
While Simon's a pretty good cook
His Charleston was not by the book
He couldn't look wetter
Next week might be better
Oh who am I kidding, will it......heck
Just a thought, oh Strictly Bosses.
After all this faff, Tess was back for the final nail biting pronouncements. One by one, the safe stars were read out until we were left with RUTH and BRIAN in the spotlight of doom. This was something of a dilemma. Neither of them are particularly good, but would Tony Beak's legion of fans make a difference? Well, yes. Yes they did. BRIAN was dealt the bad news. Yet more nouse from the public on this one. At least someone who deserved to be going was in the dance off.
Both blokes reprised their routines for the
The judges had to make a decision. I mean, that's their job, right? Unanimously, they chose to save Simon, meaning it was Brian who was blown out. I'm not convinced he gave Strictly everything he could. None of his dances have been very good and he had been in the dance off before. I dunno, anyone would think he's got a panto somewhere he needs to start rehearsing (he has - he's Buttons in Cinderella down in Milton Keynes, apparently). Cynical, moi?
The public weren't conned by Conley. Brian is binned.
So the remaining eleven dancers are heading off to the Hallowe'en Spooktacular. Expect outlandish costumes, bizarre make-up and breath-taking moves - and that's just me and HOTH for our anniversary weekend celebrations!
Until next week.............KEEP DANCING!!