Saturday night was bonfire night, a night to celebrate the death of a bad guy who tried to blow up the House of Lords or rather, celebrate the safety of King James. He was a game boy (see that for product placement?), Guido Fawkes, Guy, a Yorkshire mercenary who died from a broken neck that he suffered whilst fleeing the gallows. Rather that than be hung, drawn and quartered. A juddge had played a significant role in his life. Once caught his days were numbered.
That’s the thing about the quality of decision making and breaking the law. If you get caught and are found guilty of being really, really naughty only millions and the finest lawyer will save you.
And sometimes even that isn’t enough.
I’ve had a bet in my time. Red Rum to win The National. The Queen’s horse Dunfermline to win the St Leger. A rugby player to score the first try in a Test Match. The odd go on The Lottery. Even a spread bet on how long it takes Bruno to get to his feet each week. But I never made a bet on when a no-ball would be bowled in a cricket match.
The instigators of that crime, cheating and fraud, were imprisoned last week. I refer to the three Pakistani cricketers who tampered with Lords, not the House of. The ex-skipper is called Salman Butt. I wonder if there’ll be a celebration named after him in a hundred years’ time?
Keeping with the theme of law, order and juddgies, there was a huge change in the show this week, one created by the absence of Head Juddge, Len Goodman, who, we were told, was on holiday. Of course he wasn’t. He wouldn’t plan a holiday mid-season so it leaves us all to say ‘get well soon’; the show was poorer for his absence.
When you replace a juddge, the foremost master of the ballroom, the technician, you would hope to replace him like for like. There must be other people who can spot a heel lead or tell us what a fleckerl is. There must be someone who can say, ‘You came out, full on . . . ’ But we didn’t get that. One sage close to me suggested that Arlene was available. Another said Karen Hardy would have been brilliant. And she would. Alas, she was wasted on the red butttn.
Instead we were gifted Jennifer Grey, famous for that lift and for getting her kit off with Paddy Swayze in ‘Dirty Dancing’ (1987), and for winning the US dance show, ‘Dancing With The Stars’ in 2010. She has no other dance credentials. That said, she was bright, cheery, funny, compassionate, sitting on a cushion, and on each score she gave she mimicked our Len. She got to say ‘SEVEN’ once. Eight and nine don’t quite have the same intonation though she dished them like confetti – 8, 8, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9 – even outscoring the most generous Juddge, the beautiful Alice, and that takes some doing. The dances weren’t that good and one can only question credibility in times like this.
The 7, one can only assume was a joke from Ms Grey, one that fell a little flat, unlike the routine she allotted it to, Russell’s Panto Doble, a routine that fell totally flat. It really was a disgrace to the show and it should never have been allowed. Who on earth sanctioned it?
Russell tried to make the routine a comedy using Benny Hill glasses and a bucking bull, not a real one.
(Benny Hill was a comic and TV sketch show specialist (1924 – 1992), just in case you’ve never heard of him. Same birthday as me and Jack Nicklaus, very popular on ITV in his time. And he was in ‘The Italian Job’.)
What followed was hysteria in its purest not funny sense, shocking, ridiculous, a sham. A Paso full of bull. What on earth was Flav thinking?
Craig offered a four saying that it was astonishing, and bless the week’s stand in Head Juddge for adding the ‘G’ at the end of his word. Maybe others will now follow? I can name and shame if you like; struttin’ – the hostess, endearin’, charmin’, improvin’ – Alice. I could go on. Do we all have to sound like chavs? Russell scored 24, hitting his average, and for sure the diminutive star gazer should be foreseeing his exit soon.
Christmas and December are not far away, the winter has sped up on us, and soon the dancers will be cropped and sorted in a very ‘Logan’s Run’ sort of way, a film where anyone over the age of 30 is killed off. I think that was the premise unless you could escape. Not that I’m advocating murder, far from it.
In this series four of the oldest six have already exited, the five youngest are marching on, a sure fire sign that this competition should be two-tiered. The stats suggest that 50 is the right age to split the groups. And wouldn’t that be great fun, a seniors’ comp?
The only senior holding her own is Anita Dobson, consistently good in the last three weeks. She was described by Jennifer Grey as being a National Treasure on Saturday and I’m not sure how that works or who decides. Is there a league for that? A vote? And what are the criteria? Not sure that three years on a soap back in the eighties cracks it for me. If that were the case I suppose you could say the same about Amy Turtle.
That said, her dancing is going really well and her Charleston gained her another 31 points, raising her average, keeping the pressure on. Dressed like a flapper there was a smart synchronised set, she did moves from ‘The Karate Kid’, had a great bounce section and as ever she added spirit and gusto though at times she lost a little timing. The routine was sharp and from now on could be more intricate.
Top of the shop for the night was Chelsa, also dancing the Charleston and she was excellent, nines across the board, a girl who was very happa with her effort even though she thought she could do betta.
The routine began with Chelsa looking and sounding like Fiz from Corrie, getting out of a vintage car only to be greeted by Norman Wisdom. She danced solo, her bosom protected by lock and key, no chance of a gravitational pull this week. Thereafter she controlled everything, her syncopated hops reminding her of the first time she did them at stage school. Brilliant she was.
Gliding like a thoroughbred, unseen, making relentless progress, is Holly Valance, famous for a chain of bedding shops in the North of England. Looking every inch the best in paddock, except perhaps Vladivostok’s finest, her partner limped, a pulled muscle or maybe a trapped nerve, her braces snapped off after her cart wheel, and the red and black combo created a great concept.
This was a Jive with swagger and cool, cooler than Harry even, but it was also full of energy and speed, most of it hidden by cleverly placed small steps, flicks or syncopations. It isn’t a dance for everyone but with the right aerobic training and technique most young guns should pass muster. Holly certainly did that though when it got really fast there was a ‘what am I on this rollercoaster for’ look on her face. She is growing in stature and confidence and that will hold her in good sway as the competition moves on.
What Harry needs is a partner who lets him off the lead and one who gives him the chance to actually dance. That’s the same partner, not two people, just in case you were worried. Here is a fella with tempo, style and ability and he is treated, at times, like an add-on, an appendage to the routine.
He was dancing a Samba, a dance full of bounce, carnival, bounce, spirit and . . . bounce, and what he lost amidst his technique and shine . . . was bounce. His voltas were literally staggering, the transitions weak, yet here was a guy with appetite and when he was allowed, he wowed. He wasn’t asked to do enough and if Ali doesn’t sort this she will be guilty of losing him the title, and that would be sad. 33 was a wee high but Jen had the big paddle out again.
Another thoroughbred sneaking up on the rails is Alex Jones along with James ‘trainin’’ Jordan. Bedecked in sky blue, did we see James slip right at the outset? We certainly saw Alex chase this Quick Step and we saw another wardrobe malfunction, her dress hem slipping under her shoe for most of the routine. They ignored it as best they could and they maintained the dance, only towards the finish did she lose her frame. And her feet, as they both toppled over at the end. But it was stylish, smart and fully worthy of 31 points.
I’m guessing that Robbie doesn’t know what to call his partner. Bruce calls her O-la. The man behind the mic, Deadly Alancoat, calls her Olla. I think we prefer the sobriquet Ola-chops, created by a previous partner, or we could call her Ola-chopsy, her speaking for both of them, to the juddgies, the viewers and when bigging themselves up.
Robbie’s Waltz was half-smart and with a bit more direction three or four more points could easily have been bagged, if he could only lose that shyness and nerves, if he could pretend no one was watching. 29 was up there with his Fox Trot and Tango (29 and 30). He is turning into a ballroom baby, better in hold, able to control his weight distribution, correct foot placement, strong. Now he has to add some musical phrasing and to connect with the music, his partner and the dance. Then the ex-player can become a player again.
Another lacking in the connectivity stakes, highly surprising I should add, and only four points from the bottom of the leader board with 28, was star of screen and stage Jason Donovan, a man whose dad used to run a kebab shop.
Asked to Rumba, a dance full of lust and seduction, Jason went into Matt Dawson mode. Remember him? The steps were stylish, the lines good, the hips moved and as ever, he completed the routine. But there was something missing. Matt Dawson had just got engaged when he did his dance and he was terrified of lusting after another, he felt that infidelity wasn’t in him.
And the same was true of Jase. Alice said she got bored. Bruno didn’t feel it. Jen wanted more connection and lust. Craig highlighted the seriousness that was swathed over the routine. And even facing Kristina looking spectacular the mental and emotional connection was missing. She should have left the floor shivering from his smoulder. Instead she must have felt as cold as Siberia.
Looking more and more like a black Shrek, Audley was invited to Viennese Waltz, a dance normally skirting at 60 bpm, this week the speedometer hitting about half that. The lamp posts were back out of the props box, so too the old albatross arms; his inner finesse remained hidden.
But this was his best performance of the series so far, 27, even though it was slow and without the continuous drive, shaping and sway needed to really nail this dance. It is a hard dance. The acting would not be up his street either but he is an endearing character, a trier, an improver and if he works on his limitations he will survive a few more weeks.
And so to the surprise exit, also after her best dance, another victim of the ‘Logan’s Run’ policy.
Lulu Tangoed herself to 27 points, two points less than her Paso last week where she got points for just being on a wire, and she probably thought she had done enough to survive. To think that the GBP voated for the Bull Dust rather than this exposé is quite worrying.
Starting on the gantry here was a routine resplendent with content, save for the descent down the stairs, and Lulu gave her all in spite of inherent weaknesses in body and technique. Given her amnesia in week one and her walking lessons since this performance merited her another week at least. But it was not to be; someone has to leave and we know that this show is never a meritocracy.
As the numbers dwindle and the lower scoring celebs start betting on when they are to leave the show I am gleefully reminded that what we thought were a new pair of dancing feet due to enter the world turned out, last week, to be two pairs, Lola and Rico, the proud parents of twin girls. Brilliant and a-may-zing.
One last thing, just in case you didn’t know. You know that lift that I mentioned? In Dirty Dancing? She used a trampette . . .
November 11th 2011