This introduction may seem a bit random but it isn’t so please go with me on this.
Sir Frederick Sewards Trueman, Fred, is the greatest English Test Match bowler of all time. He played for Yorksher, latterly Derbyshire, and was the first Englishman to take 300 Test Match wickets in an era where there were two series a year not two a week as there are now.
When Fred retired he did some stand-up comedy and also took to the radio and TV, his zenith, nay pinnacle, was when he hosted a show called ‘Indoor League’, 1973 – 1978. It was a show featuring darts, shove ha’penny, armwrestling, bar billiards and table footy, shown at 5:15pm and introduced by Fred wearing a cardi, a tie, smoking his pipe and supping a pint. Perfect kids’ TV.
His opening was always, ‘Na then.’
Fast forward – told you we’d get there – and the last ten cupples in Strictly, Series 10, hosted by Tess ‘Twice’ Daly and Claudia Winkleman, Claude bossing the green room. Sir Brucie was taking a rest.
‘What of it?’ I hear you ask. Step up Tess, fresh from watching Sir Fred, her opening gambit, ‘Na’ then.’ You couldn’t invent it. Beautiful.
This week the poppies were out again, rightly, probably not good if they’re at Wembley Arena next week, the outfits were magnificent and the standard higher and higher, the bottom five cupples, 26 – 30 points, all vying for the popular voat. There is little to separate them save maybe the fortune they acquire through the choice of dance. Samba and Rumba were absent this week, pesky, tricky things. The relatively easier Ballroom styles topped the leader board, Salsa propping up the table. Fern got 27 and Vaughany 26.
Of all the dances, apart from the Argie Tango, Salsa is the most technical to perform with distinction. There is so much to learn, not just the steps and the timing but the styling, the musicality, the accentuations, the attitude and the subtleties, the soft skills little mentioned in dance classes throughout the country.
It is easier for a girl; harder for the boy. He has to lead and be convincing with it. She has to follow choreography rather than just a lead. This isn’t freestyle, there is no second guessing, the map is already created. This is what tipped it for Fern. Just.
Dancing to ‘You’ll Be Mine (Party Time)’ Fern dismissed all her inhibitions and, to coin a technical term, gave it a lash, flashing her body, shaking her booty, adding the requisite wapatumba requested previously. Her pink frock complimented her well, there was little to the imagination. It was Fern’s party and she luvved it. Her partner had a jacket on this week but it was open so much that he needn’t have bothered. If he doesn’t buttttn up next week I think it’s time to make a phone call to The Jackal. Or any other hit man for that matter.
There are some odd male Salsa dancers in this neck of the woods. One dances in his school shirt, he is 45, another a pullover. No, not just a pullover. Another lurches forward, hunched. If you were being unkind you could call him a baboon. Vaughany was in danger of inheriting this pose as he performed to ‘I want You Back’, a funky little number. Whilst you could hear and see the cogs whirring in Vaughany’s mind, he also let go and gave it his all adding a cupple of lifts and a nice drop. It was a credible effort but smoothness in this dance takes years. Some never get it.
In last week’s dance off Richard showed great nerve and bottle when he overcame all odds to stay in the contest and his improvement continued hitting an all time high of 29 in his Charleston to Paulo Nutini’s song ‘Pencil Full of Lead’. Richard scored 25 for his Quick Step, everything else 22 or lower, so this really was a big leap. Whilst Erin looked like a 20’s flapper, sky blue frock and head band, he looked like a flashy, old style school master, black and white shoes, purple top, braces and bow tie to match his partner. As for the dance? Fun, quirky and goofy though he needed to move more, around the floor and from the waist down. It was full of slapstick too, a nice cameo showing him playing the drums on Erin’s upturned behind. Could have sold tickets for that.
There were two brilliantly funny bits in the show, brilliant because they were unintentional. Vic was back in hold in a Quick Step, her partner dressed like a mix of a bellboy and Passe-Partout from ‘Around The World in Eighty Days’. 30 was her highest score too in what was a fast and slick routine with plenty of conn-tent, according to one juddge. At times she was still a little ‘dolly’ – adjective – being pulled around, her body following a pull or a push, but if she’d have pictured this three months ago she’d have been amazed. All the dancers deserve great credit. The funny bit? They danced to ‘Luck Be A Lady’ and as they scampered to a finish Brendan hit the bottom step and went over like Devon Loch (Grand National – 1956). To say that his fall was unscripted would be an understatement. Hilarious.
The other clip now in the out-take pile was Robin slipping on the right edge of his right foot as he and Lisa approached the stairs, post dance and comments. There is a theory to say that his top hat blinded him. As is he stumbled, potentially physically dangerous, his only thought was one of embarrassment.
Which is a shame given the nice 32 they put together in a Fox Trot whose main characteristic was its speed, so fast, to ‘This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)’. They used the mezzanine to start the routine, a simple way of cutting down dance time, but what followed, apart from one smart heel turn and one messy one, and her leading, was super, energised and fizzy. One small point, check out his right hand, all a bit bananas, his thumb up. Juddgies normally go for this in the celeb never mind the pro. Perhaps they gave him some leeway given there is quite a lot to lead?
The other FT of the night scored a cupple of points less but this was Nicky’s best dance of the series by a mile, and it ought to be said, it’s about time. I think Nicky understands now that he is in a competition and that something had to click. Let’s look at it. He’s a young fella, good looking, rich, competitive and dancing with the stunner that is Hottie Hauer. Lest us not forget amidst her stunning frocks, this week the same colour as my new curtains – how did she know to get a match? – her bludgeoning talent. He has nothing to lose but face and so he came out foighting using a cane as a microphone, a nice catch when thrown to him from the wings, putting some Westlife into his Dancelife. It was slow but ‘The Best is Yet to Come’ was a perfectly selected back drop.
Prior to Louis’s Waltz the singers got individual mentions rather than just being Dave Arch’s groupies. For the record they are Tommy Blaize, Hayley Sanderson, Andrea Grant and the incomparable Lance Ellington. Hats off to them all.
‘Moon River’ is a Waltz classic and so too was Louis according to three juddgies, three 9s, one marking just a 6. This is a bizarre turn of events. How can that be true, such a disparity? Lord Len castigated Craig calling his comments a load of ‘bol . . . ‘
We were all waiting.
And then came the word ‘bolognaise’.
But it nearly all kicked off as it does when different sides of the artistic sphere collide. One man’s poison is another man’s meat, so to speak.
In truth Louis has picked up the routines quickly, he has a beautiful partner, so beautiful she could turn Juddge Aggie, but the main issue is that he is dancing with his head and his body but not with his soul. There is caution in his mind and unless he replaces that with passion and belief – dance because the world deserves to watch you – he might get tipped at the post in spite of being the favourite at the bookies.
The next tipped is DKV, Denise Kathleen to you and I, and her partner, the almost absent James Jordan, no relation to Big Joe, favourite for the Scotland job. James danced through the pain barrier, Ian Waite had stepped in to rehearse, but in this fiery hot Paso he didn’t show it even during the spectacular cape work at the offset or when he threw in a knee slide instead of a jump to protect his ankle, just about accepted as artistic license.
But he wasn’t the star. Denise put on her Chicago face and as ‘Seven Nation Army’ hit the airwaves she was transformed from Essex to Espagne, full of menace, drama and passion, Darcey yah-ing for the first time in ages such was her state of overwhelm-ment. She pawed over the chene turns though juddge Aggie thought they were sloppy. There was a balance issue too. She does have this when she doesn’t spot. Still scraped 36 though, the highest score of the series so far.
Adding her best, 34, like a racehorse coming up on the rails, getting ‘bedder and bedder’ according to one juddge, was Dani ‘Tango’ Harmer with Vinnie ‘Tango’ Simone dancing to the Argentine classic ‘Rumour Has It.’
In fairness, this ought to have been good. He is a two-time world champion – hands up who thought that read two timing? Freudian slip if ever I wore one – along with Flav so Dani was in safe hands. There was bags of content starting with a strop, a phone box as a prop, the last remaining red one in the UK, and technically she was superb, fast and slow, light and shade, really smart choreography if you discount the fact that they finished a smidgen earlier than the music. So we were told but you can hardly spot it. Probably cost them a point but at this stage of the series that isn’t that important. They sailed to Wembley, Arena, next week.
One cupple that struggled to join them, in spite of another 34, were Kimberley and Pasha, the only pair to Viennese Waltz, this time to ‘A Thousand Years’, this time with some reverse turns. Thank goodness Pasha reads this report. That said he could have taught her to cross her feet rather than just change direction. Doh!
This was a wonderfully demure and dainty effort, emotive, impressive. Lord Len called it whimsical. But all the plaudits and the VT that contained at least four words without a ‘G’ weren’t enough to keep Kimberley away from the dance off.
Oh, bless the GBP.
Along with her was Fern and Artie, perhaps not quite as much a surprise; their score was in the bottom two.
The actual bottom, Vaughany jumped with relief. Had he been in the dance off he would have been toast, such is the luck of the draw. Salsa this week was no fun. That said he now has the Samba to come, or even the Rumba, the latter a major absentee during this series. Only Vic has had the pleasure so far. There must be a theory behind that.
So, Kimberley or Fern to go? A no brainer, with respect, but what a shock to the system. Kimberley!
No not to go, being in the dance off.
Now Wembley, Arena, beckons. Brucie will be back, officially the nation’s joint favourite pensioner along with Maggie Smith, that’s Dame Maggie Smith not the old lady who lives at number 21. In his absence Claude was the star in spite of issuing a telephone number that started with ‘twenny’ too many times to mention. Tess ought to feel insecure about her role in the green room rather than Brucie’s as host; apart from a shocking white frock, too high and shapeless, Claude’s brain was without peer.
Sir Fred Trueman always used to end his stint on ‘Indoor League’ with ‘I’ll See Thee,’ so I shall complete the circle and do the same.
‘I’ll see thee.’
That is all except Fern who waltzed off with dignity and her shirtless oppo.
At least that saves me a few bob by not having to commission The Jackal.
November 15th 2012