Will they be first on, or last on; will the National Power Grid cope with the post-salsa surge? Will Len go lower than a 6? Craig higher than a 1? Will she get the lowest Strictly score ever, or are they saving that for her rumba?
Will she move with more grace than Tess, who evidently hasn’t learnt from last week’s near gusset flash in the opening sequence, and risked giving the audience far more than they bargained for at 5:45 on a Saturday evening? One thing is clear from the opening credits, Widdy can’t even clap in time, and so has about the same level of rhythm as Tess of the Tumbleweeds.
Country boy and the minx
Matt is clearly so talented already, and versatile enough to be able to pull off moody and dangerous as well as cute and wholesome. If he were dancing with any one other than Aliona, I would think him a dead cert for the final, but I am not sure that her choreography is strong enough. She really seems to have taken the attempt o retitle the series “Gimmicks are us” a little too literally. I didn’t like the tango mood for what was supposed to be a foxtrot, and I thought that the end move was completely unnecessary, verging on the crude. On the plus side, he has a great frame, and moves effortlessly. The Beeb seem to be going down the route of “the gymnastics training would be a help, but only if he had time to practice properly”, intercut with footage of Aliona and Matt dancing in a field of pumpkins in their wellies. He certainly didn’t learn footwork like that by dancing in his wellies in the mud!
The former Miss Whiplash and the Dad Dancer
Looks like Erin is really hoping for an early bath this year, and the change to put her feet up and watch the X Factor. I can’t believe that the person who created comic gold with Julian Clary and Ricky Groves, and who got decent ballroom dances from Peter Schmeichel and Willie Thorne, could turn in such a lacklustre effort with Shilts. Still her costume was great, and her abs are to die for, and 8 series is a long time to keep coming up with new ideas.
Pretty hard to tell who is the pro dancer here. Jared’s frame was awful, and there seemed precious little foxtrot in the dance. Pretty damning for Craig to mention that the pro was dancing out of time. Still the show seems intent on sending them on a journey for the sake of the under 10s vote.
The serial bride and husband no 5 (or not)
I like Patsy Kensit! Ok so she has a slight disadvantage in landing the dyslexic pro, who once again read the instructions wrong and turned in the wrong dance. Last week he produced a Viennese instead of a standard Waltz, this week a ChaDiscoCha instead of a SalChamBa, but these mistakes are easy to make in your first series. I thought that nerves were going to eat her up again, but she gave a confident, ballsy performance, really dancing as if she thought it would be her last dance. It was a bit drunken aunt at a wedding, but at least she had fun with it, and the fun was contagious.
The Magician and his assistant
I was a bit worried that Paul had actually snuffed it on live TV when I saw some of the shots of Tumbleweeds Tower, but someone remembered to plug him in and wheel him on for 90 seconds of inoffensive trotting, if not very foxily, around the floor. His riposte to Bruno when asked why he couldn’t dance properly for the entire routine, “Because I can’t remember it” seemed genuinely spontaneous, and oddly self-deprecating for a man of his ego.
Adonis and Blonde Ambition
Just as I thought wardrobe had got their acts back in gear this week, on shimmy Scott and Natalie. Wrong on so many levels. It seems a bit early in the series to be playing the cute grandparent card, but given that Tina played the cute kid card on ITT on Friday (her own toddler, not her pro partner), maybe Scott thought he needed to get in quick. And cute grandparent does stand out rather more than the cute kid schtick. By the end of Series 5, Alesha’s nans could have had their very own programme. Despite the costumes, I liked it a lot, and am even gradually warming to Natalie Lowe.
Sulk and strop
Having done so much to alienate the voting public on ITT mid-week, Michelle needed to do a lot of work this week to avoid bottom two. Brendan chose the sensible tactic of having her sit on a park bench for 30 seconds gazing wistfully into space, which was a vast improvement on her attempts to dance last week. I am beginning to feel sorry for Brendan. He has spent the last 8 series of Strictly desperately doing a live audition for the part of Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing (Series 1: teach brainy, classy girl with two left feet to dance – tick; dance triumphant last dance to “Time of my life” – tick; appear in “Just the two of us” to showcase singing credentials – tick; spend Series 1-6 honing the “break the rules for the sake of the dance” persona – tick; rumba to “She’s like the wind” with Kelly Brooke in series 5 – tick; Series 6: bring cutting edge choreography with iconic lifts to the showdance in the final – well, maybe not) and no West End producer has come calling. Now it is Series 8 and his much-hyped partner turns out to be rhythmically somewhere between Fiona Phillips and Jo Wood, and somewhere between Lisa Snowdon and Kelly Brookes on the likeable personality front. Like Anton, who must realise that he is now employed solely for comic value rather than his dancing skills, Brendan has to accept that his place in the show is dependent on the quality of his strops.
And look – they are wearing gold – again! Because it matches his teeth! Wow, this theme is going to get tired really quickly. As is Kristina’s laboured choreography, which had nothing glittering about it at all. Len summed it up so well when he said “More brassy than golden”.
Look! She is wearing a white coat! And look, they are dancing to Dr Beat! Because she is a doctor and all….. Totally unnecessary gimmick when the dance is this good. I was thrilled. It’s prime time TV, and a woman the wrong side of 40 and the wrong side of a size 12 is on screen – dynamic, uninhibited, talented, confident, sexy, hot, and having the time of her life! Go Pamela – all the way to the final. And you have got to love her response to the stumble. Rather than continuing to agonise over a fall a la Kara, she laughs it all off with a “Told James not to throw granny on the floor!”
Felithity and Vinthent
I am just not loving this couple as much as I thought I would. Perhaps Felicity was over-hyped, or perhaps Pamela has stolen the thunder as the over 60-year old to watch. She was sweet and gamine even, but there just seemed to be something lacking.
Well they did what they were paid to do, and photos of Anne and Anton were gracing the pages of the newspapers and will doubtless be shown in the “Best moments of 2010” type shows at the end of December. It does feel a little contrived though, and lacks the innocence and spontaneity of John Sargeant and Kristina; and in terms of real comic value, I actually found moments featuring Chris Parker, Julian Clary, Kenny Logan and John Sargeant far funnier. Still the wind was taken out of Craig’s sails, which is hardly a bad thing. Worryingly, I find myself almost liking Anne and having to remind myself that this is the woman who thought it acceptable for women prisoners to give birth whilst shackled.
The ringer and the new hunk
Absolutely lovely, although the start was a little superfluous. She may not stay the distance though, without the dance off to protect her, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Pamela and maybe even Patsy outlasting her in the competition. At least the judges are trying to shield her from charges of being a teachers’ pet, in that no-one has had the stupidity to start calling her Strictly’s best ever dancer, which was probably what did for Ali Bastian last year in the very first programme.
Gavbot and Katbot
So last week was an aberration. The funny thing is I find it oddly endearing that Gavin is blundering about, showing the least Reality TV friendly personality since Kelly Brooke, and risking the eternal mockery of the rubgy viewing public by exposing his vanity for all to see. And not just his vanity. That was one gimmick much too far, Katya, and I am surprised that Gavin survived Tumbleweeds Tower with Tess on full hormone level alert. I do quite like the way that she argues back at the judges, a bit like Erin before she decided to give up even going through the motions.
The giggle twins
I do hope that these two are really having as much fun as they appear to be and that Jimi is as enthusiastic as he would have us think. Being cynical, part of me thinks that the producers have concocted a strategy that is part best bits of Darren and Lilia and part best bits of Team Cola, with added gurning. But if they really are having such a blast, it will do them no harm in the voting stakes. His dancing is slightly disappointing, compared to my high expectations, but if he can turn that around, he is a finalist in the making. After all, a journey never harmed anyone – ask Darren Gough.