Have you ever wondered what makes people popular? Perhaps it’s someone you respect and look up to? Maybe it’s someone who’s good looking? Talented? Or the bloke that buys the beer? The people who are like you? Those with the same hobbies, ethics or value systems? It could be that there is a high level of exposure nationally? Maybe it’s the demographic? Whichever you choose it is rare that dance ability is the deciding factor on who wins The Glitter Ball Trophy. Such was the case in this year’s Grand Final. As the stats show, the third best dancer – by a large margin – won the title. Hats off to Louis Smith
Louis Smith (MBE) and Flavia Cacache for being the most popular.
As Finals go it was a bit of a humdinger, a great standard, super consistency, brilliant glitz and glamour and, without doubt, the greatest Show Dance that we have ever seen. More in a minute or two.
Four cupples made it through to this show piece TV programme, over 12.5 million viewers tracking it throughout the night. Each pair were asked to dance ‘The Juddgies’ Choice’ and their Show Dance before the break and then, an hour or so later, with one cupple cast aside, larging it in the green room, the remaining three had the opportunity to dance their favourite to make this the most memorable final ever. Given human propensity towards memory – remembering the most recent event better – this is an obvious statement. The key to the result was that the judggies’ voats and comments counted for nothing, everything depended on the GBP, the likes of Juddge Hills voating twice, for Louis, Juddge Aggie once, for Kimbo. What a shame that, come the end of the show, we knew who came fourth and first but not who came second and third. A shame too that the number of voats isn’t openly displayed.
Sir Brucie, in his last series, if the tabloids are to be believed, hosted the show for both sections, a first, given that he normally romps off to the sauna lounge at Spearmint Rhino as soon as the main section of the show is dunn with, Claudia stepping in for the late shift. I wonder where she was tonight? And Lance, again? Hope he’s okay. Tess ‘Twice’ Daly wore two frocks, one for each programme, the first that made her look like a humanised version of C3PO.
Denise opened the evening cracking out a Jive that scored 39 points, seven more than her first effort in week 2. Dani added just three points more to her 33 for her Ballroom Tango, Kimbo hitting 39 against a 34 for a Viennese Waltz where she wore a frock with those pesky flares on her arms, flares that sometimes get tangled and cause an unnecessary wardrobe worry. She did well to extricate herself unnoticed.
The first sign that Louis was going to win came when he repeated his Dirty Dancing routine, Salsa, that was a Mambo in the film. His nine point improvement pushed him one mark shy of his first 40 ever and with that, the house came well and truly down. Women from the age of 16 to 100 swooned, whooped and whelped. If they owned a phone the rest were toast. And so it proved.
Funny, at this stage, that the juddgies stopped commenting on technique? Had they bothered they would have seen steps big enough for a car park not a dustbin lid, weak knee lifts and a weird body roll. This was another dance not internalised; it came across as young, immature, lacking gravitas and authenticity, with no sexual intent. Still the girls all loved it but not as much as the gay fraternity.
The second sign that Louis was going to win was when he scored 40 for the first and only time in the series with his Show Dance. I say dance. There wasn’t much.
Wearing just skin tight blue lycra leggings with a white stripe on the outer of each leg, no top, a modern day Tarzan, more swooning, no shoes, Lou began on a globe of the world, the size of a giant’s bowling ball, where he did some gymnastics. As ‘Rule the World’ aptly floated in the ether five blue strobe lights targeted the planet as if The Mayans got the date wrong by one day. Flav came into the fray in a matching outfit with hoops not stripes.
Once Lou was extricated from the globe Flav launched herself at him, he fell over, on purpose, all very contemporary. What followed was a cradling baby lift, a round the world exit, a limp bit of Rumba, some Argentine Tango where he mostly stood still, a lift, a presentation, a roundabout, his tits and tatts out, his big arms lacking subtlety, his huge hands with fingers splayed. Had she had her top off too, to match, the voats would have soared. With some force he lifted her above his head and then held her like a human javelin, her head ready to spear the ground. This was a courageous power hold; the trust between dancers is intimate, strong and undeniably vital.
And then it was over, the crowd manic, voats flying in just because he was half naked. It was a showcase for some of his skills, it was spectacular and awesome to view, but it didn’t really set Travolta Towers on fire. One Show Dance did.
Dani bowed out of the show at the half way stage after her Show Dance, a mélange of Rumba and Paso scoring just 35 to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. I say just. The combined score for her first two dances was 71, way shy of the others, 78 and 79s. The GBP agreed and she was off, hopefully not to filming more of Tracy B**t**d Beaker. Who the heck came up with that show? Probably being nursed in Stanley Royd’s as we speak.
As is customary for Vince the choreography was challenging, daring and spectacular and it looked like they were going to pull it off but an occasional transition here, a change of tempo there, this was not Dani’s normal fluid fare.
Dressed in black and white, Vinnie’s matador jacket rather fetching, her floaty frock obviously ready to be ripped off as part of a reveal, the routine began with a shape, a lift, nice line, some Rumba, a jump to arm catch and then a neck drop that ended with her head just two inches off the floor. This could so easily have gone wrong but they magicked it together. Very brave. Then came a Tango lift, a horizontal straddle on his back, the reveal, a cart wheel over his shoulder, a leg flip, a spin and a lift with her ankles around his neck, her head tantalisingly close to the floor again. As the blue strobes were spotlighting, red flares surged skyward at the front of the stage, Vince’s arm raising in Freddie Mercury tribute. Courageous and captivating and a proud dance on which to leave.
No one shakes their booty like Kimbo so why not build the Show Dance around that? And so they did to ‘Crazy in Love’, a routine scoring 39, adding more to her super high consistency. I could stop there but it would be unjust.
Kimbo started wearing a trouser suit, another obvious sign that a reveal was to come, and after some strutting a lift sequence followed where it looked like Pasta Koffalot struggled; she was too big for him, the moment calling for someone bigger, stronger, better looking . . .
As her hair shook like a lion’s mane Pasta dived through her legs from behind not content with this Latin cocktail of Cha, Samba and Salsa. And then Kimbo disappeared behind a yellow circle encrusted in gold that subsequently burst into flames, on purpose, after she had shaken her booty again, this time just a silhouette, very Bondian.
As the flames died down, like a performing dog, Kimbo marched through the hole, a pink outfit now exposing her shoulders and thighs. Another lift with a ponché pose, another head to floor drop ended a spectacular routine that had one major feature. It was full of conn-tent, full of dancing. Only Ebenezer bottled out, or Mr Nine, as he was duly christened by the host. ‘It didn’t blow me away,’ said Juddge Aggie, fretting now that her 15p voating fee had not gone to a worthy cause.
It is true that some dances are worth tens. Maybe one or two an eleven. If ever there was one that merited a 12, or even a 15, nay, a 20, it was Denise’s Show Dance to ‘Flashdance . . . What A Feeling’. I have never seen anything like it for content, courage and lifts. It was, indeed, ‘Liftastic’. If ever a performance deserved to be the winning dance this was it. Magnificent would undersell it. Having analysed it forensically, move by move, it was so far more superior than anything else on show there was no way she wouldn’t win. If you add the component parts together it was even better.
The routine itself was a hybrid mix of Salsa and Tango in which Denise was thrown around like a rigid rag doll. Her core withstood everything, her lines, grace and beautiful finishing contradicting the level of skill required. Had this been a diving competition, or a gymnastics contest, this was by far the dance with the highest degree of difficulty.
Dressed in a sequined cat suit, Denise, not James, they went straight into a lift where she ended behind his neck, taut. As James pressed her skyward her arms extended, angelic. This was a lift of triumph. Then James turned a circle allowing her to drop to his shoulders.
Another lift followed, Denise ending sitting on his neck like Cleopatra entering court. In this position he descended the steps, toe leads, classy. In perfect synchronicity with the music they then blasted into dance, Denise did six turns unaided, a cupple of Salsa cross body leads and into a reverse Titanic lift, the pair turning, and turning, and turning.
The lift that brought the gasp was a replica of the Dirty Dancing moment but she supported her hands on his back. As James turned she let go, just his arms and shoulders taking her full weight. And again her posture held. Try this one at home. Almost impossible. Amazing.
Back down to the floor a mop move (floor roll) led to a sharp and aggressive Tango section, some great intensity, knee slides and the last lift, James’ trademark, Denise balancing on his neck, no hands at all. She finished on a splits, he with a triumphal punching left arm like he’d scored the winner at Wembley. It was extraordinary, the best dance he has ever dunn on Strictly, the best Show Dance ever.
There was only one problem for Denise and James and that was the running order, oh, and the adoring nation willing an Olympic medallist on to win, to recompense him the gold that was so cruelly snatched from him at London 2012.
The running order always matters. The last salesman in always gets the order, simple really; Denise was first upp, Lou last. Add in the sympathy voat, the millions of women baying for body, the bear torso, and it was a no-brainer. It was almost as if the three dances that followed, Denise, 40 for her Charleston, Kimbo 40 for her Tango, and 39 from Lou, also for a Charleston, were irrelevant. The nation had decided.
When the announcement came it was no surprise, Denise and Kimbo both graceful in defeat, as were their partners, the realisation that this wasn’t a world championship, just a game show. We were told continuously throughout the evening that all four finalists were good enough to win in any other year but, as you may have gathered, the stats don’t back this up. In the pantheon of Strictly finalists and winners Lou comes in at just number 18, Kimbo at 13 and Denise at 9. Other dancers higher than 9th, though not winners, are Pammie Stevenson, Chelsa Heala, Colin Jackson, the magnificent Rachel Stevens and the brilliant Ricky Whittle. Lou averaged 33.4, Kimbo 34.6 and Denise 35.1. Just for the record Juddge Alice tops the lot with 36.3. I wonder what she’s doing these days?
And now it’s all over, the sequins and Cuban heels put away for another day, 2013 beckoning. Next year there will be no Olympics to heighten popularity, no re-launch of a pop band to coincide with the show; it will just be the greatest batch of celebs we’ve ever seen. The show is still shouting out for a veterans’ competition – the oldest winner (how?) is Chris Hollins (measly average of 31!), who was 38 at the time, the rest just bairns. And perhaps Blackpool will want the show back now, its absence this series noticeable. It is rumoured that the pros trashed the place so badly last year . . .
So from me and all my team of Juddgies it’s season’s greetings and see you all next September. In the meantime my personal thanks go to the brilliant artist at PA Art Studios; what a talent! If you want a commission just let me know.Should the rumours be true it’s time to wish Brucie well, should he not return next term, he has been brilliant. I am still available to host.
And finally, congratulations to Brendan Cole and his wife Zoe on the birth of their daughter, their first child on Christmas Day.
I hear they’re going to call it Natasha.
December 30th 2012