I got the call early on Friday. Bruce was out. So I told everybody. And that’s when the confusion began.
You could be forgiven for thinking that there was just one Bruce but then one smart Alec, well Mark actually, came back with Lee, Kent, Wayne and Robert The.
I retorted with Grobbelaar, Almighty, Willis, Jenner and Dickinson.
He accused me of googling and he said that his were of a higher quality.
I top trumped him. How could anything be higher than The Almighty?
And then another wag said Springsteen. That does actually top the lot.
My apologies to Messrs Steve and Boxleitner.
I suppose the answer would have been to say Brucie. That would have clarified everything.
The only other Brucie I know of is Bonus.
Yes, the Knight of the Realm has succumbed to flu – surely he gets the jab at his age? – and in steps that strange box of fish that is Claudia Winkleman, manic on the outside, her wild eyes flickering like an old style movie, behind the mask, the smart, the organised, the savvy. She does this role well.
And she needed to for this was the start of what can only be described as a marathon of broadcasting and viewing, over two hours on Saturday, without any break, and Sunday’s results show, also filmed on the same night. I hope they filtered loo breaks in at Elstree. I was okay; there was a sample bottle close by and failing that, an empty beer tin.
Funny, isn’t it? A marathon with little warm up. A bit like last week when we were (gladly) smashed over the head with two shows with hardly a warning. Surely the Beeb should have run It Takes Two for a week beforehand, to tease, to titillate, and to get us in the swing?
So the weekend began sans Brucie but with the return of the dance off and the introduction of voting on line, for free, apart from the price of the computer and the internet connection.
Tess opened the evening with the traditional, ‘Good Evening Ladies and Gentleman’. . . and forgot ‘the children’. Maybe she didn’t read the autocue? Maybe this was a mini rebellion? Poor kids. What followed was a collection of caricature, surprising excellence, the call for Natalie Gumede to be kicked off the show and the worst dance I think I’ve ever seen.
My mind can not recall much of Fiona Phillips, Diarmuid Gavin or Quentin Wilson. I do remember the embarrassing Christopher Parker’s Batman escapade. But surely none of these could match Tony Jacklin’s. To undersell it, it is best described as truly appalling. If this is the result of five weeks of practice Lord help us. The pink and green diamond outfits were great. Aliona ‘I know how to look at the camera to get me in shot’ Vilani’s bobbed haircut was smooth, a tribute to the self-exiled Flavia. The golf theme was a good idea, plus fours and all; Tony still has a great swing. But 13 points was at least ‘fore’ too many.
Like a flapper from a scene in The Great Gatsby, dressed in a glittering gold lampshade tassel of a frock, Sophie EB lauded it for ninety seconds and sent out a severe warning to the rest of the cast, scoring 36 for a frivolous and fanciful Charleston, the ying to Tony’s yang. There was swivel, lightness, synchronisation, fun and acrobatics, the spotting on landing perfect. Her timing and musicality shone through, so too her ambition and confidence. It was an Olympic performance.
Had this been the old style Olympics, when only amateurs competed, Natalie Gumede would have been disqualified before the outset. I shall say it only once . . . more. She studied at the Italia Conte. You needn’t really say anything else. Some of the techniques she applied during her Waltz were those of a professional. The spotting. The head rolls of her beehive. A double reverse turn. Her swan-like neck extended beautifully to offset the cut and dash of her crimson frock. Her turn arm was a little suss and she missed a few heel leads but she scored 34, the juddgies hedging low to protect the integrity of the show.
Ben (25) and Vanessa (23) also Waltzed, thankfully not together, and neither routine claimed many basics, a simple one, two, three, missing from the numerological vocabulary. Ben is six two. Aside him Kristina looked no bigger than Warwick Davies. He, Ben not Warwick, hunched a little as a result and he spent most of the performance watching her dance, just how she likes it. His buy in was little.
Vanessa, the ‘small little fat person’, her words, hired a gigolo for the night and she really bought into her escort, our James, so much so that tears of romance and poignancy trickled down her face as the dance ended and her moment had gone. They connected, she became ensconced in the moment and her tuff external persona cracked. As for the dance, when the song said run, they ran, when it said hold, they held. When the music stopped, they did.
Dear Mr Dedicoat. The dance is called Salsa. Not the. I say it every year in the hope that one day someone will act on it. Mark (22) and Rachel (20) both opted for Salsa. Best get it out of the way early in the series if you have pretentions on the crown though I doubt these two have. Mark is a bear of a man; Rachel a diminutive rag doll. He is a consummate actor, not desperately shy, he could be James Corden’s long lost dad. Rachel is a mathematician with a soft core, her body like a floppy piece of celery. He produced a lively funn dance, not much Salsa but lots of bawdy bravado and showboating; great shirt stolen from the set of Joseph. She tried that song by Daft Punk a Cha not Salsa, her steps unconvincing, as if transitions had never been invented. Iveta Luke A Shooter did a great line in tricks to hide the dancing. Pasta wished that he had been given a different partner so maybe he could ‘Get Lucky’.
To the song ‘Let’s Get Loud’, brilliant tempo, cracking tune, Abbey strutted like she was on a cat walk, a little conscious of her steps, her feet neat, her lines at times short. She knows she looks good and you get the impression that is where her mind is. ‘Do I look okay doing this step?’ ‘Is the camera catching my best side?’ ‘Where is the camera now?’ It doesn’t look right. Neither too the competition that R-Tem now has from Ali Ash. Did they have a bet to see who could get their tits out first?
Deborah earned much respect for her dance as she took up the challenge of being Bridget Jones at fifty plus. She attacked this with fire and determination, ‘plenty of zuzz,’ said Lord Len. Nice new word. She made a sassy pitch to Craig – she’s very safe there – twerking, flashing her behind at him. Where I come from twerk is where you go from Monday to Friday. Deborah’s timing and effort were commendable. However, like most of the dancers she is new to this and her checks with her partner, looking for the nod, waiting for the lead, checking the sync, detracted a little. Once relaxed that will disappear.
The highlights of Fiona’s performance, apart from kicking her partner and the song, ‘Beggin’, were all in Antony Smith of Bristol’s hair. Took years off him. You could be forgiven for thinking that this was a clip from Bugsy Malone, given the look. Having a splat gun would have made it more interesting. We all know Antony’s doesn’t do Latin. If you check the dictionary the Latin for wobble is ‘Fullertonum’.
The Tango is an easy dance to learn once you have mastered the basics. It is a flat dance, no bouncing, the man stalks like a panther, it is built on bite sized chunks linked together with the glue of dance. There are staccato steps, power, masculinity, drive, aggression and passion. Bring on then Julien Super Mac, the total antithesis, the gay, effeminate, noisy champion of design.
As befitting the man his outfit was outrageous, nay spectacular, tight plus fours, a heavyweight world champ’s gold belt around his waist, shoulder pads that were more Dynasty than Gladiator, a veritable dilettante. The judggies hammered him with gusto to a demure 18, Lord Len again leading the quips, more orchid than cactus. That said, I quite liked it and thought he did a good job. I’ve seen a lot worse. Patrick scored nine points more, Susanna a further four, cracking thirty for the first time.
Throughout the show we were forced into Tango submission by Dave Arch and his brilliant band. Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga supplied the musical tripe, the BBC bending once more to populist diatribes. Traditional music makes learning the dance easier. You buy into the beat, the tempo, the feel; there is more connection, easier for the actor to grasp the role.
Patrick is a renowned actor in spite of his appearances in Casualty. Dancing to ‘Beat It’, surely a tune for Dave Myers, he didn’t really, beat it, but he took another step forwards, his progress relentless in a Barona sort of way. He is fast becoming a dark horse and if he can master his frame and let go a little, mentally, he can pester the upper echelons.
So too Susanna. It is obvious that no one has told Ian Waite’s love child Kevin that this was supposed to be a traditional Tango; from the outset he launched into a drag and a roundabout, straight from the Argie Tango textbook. Add in a boleyo and some leg wraps and Buenos Aires was beckoning. But then he did a rock, whisks, kicks and Viennese crosses and we were back to Paris. Amidst this contentful choreography Susanna, pigtailed, sassy, clad in black and white, though the shoes didn’t work, glided through the routine, confident, spirited and top class for week two.
The high quality continued with Ashley’s Smooth (32), dancing to ‘Beyond the Sea’. He looked the part, dashing, decked in tie and tails, and his timing and leading set him apart from his fellow male contestants by a country mile, the transitions into lifts particularly impressive, the routine ending with a swallow lift, his partner high on his left shoulder. Of course there were areas to brush up on. He was a bit walky at times and there is still the issue of true belief. You can see this when the professional starts to take the lead.
Talking of. Oh Dave Myers, what have you been doing for the last five weeks? His Smooth (17) wasn’t. I wonder if he’s ever watched Fred and Ginger? Or Gene Kelly? Or any dancing before? Because his inner dancer has yet to be released. The frame is poor, the gait an issue, the feet clumpy, the style non-existent. Add in the demise of the fun element and this made watching hard work.
Hottie was dressed as a fifties housewife playing with her toaster. Dave wore his Top Man suit and they danced to ‘How Do You Like Your Eggs in the Morning?’ I guess, after that performance, he likes his scrambled. At least she will be free soon to apply for her residence as washer-upper at Travolta Towers.
Dave was lucky that the country likes him and they voated in droves to give him another go.
Tony Jacklin was less fortunate and is now enjoying life at the 19th hole, the first to go, dancing a distant memory.
No bad thing for all concerned.
October 11th 2013