The greatest movie event is almost with us. No, not, this week’s theme down in Strictly World, but the release of the much anticipated Bond movie, ‘Spectre’. Gone is Dame Judy, in steps Ralph Fiennes (Ralph Malph to his mates), and Monica Bellucci provides some of the stereotypical eye candy. Just about my age she now has a position firmly in the queue to do the washing up at Travolta Towers.
The release of a Bond movie is always huge. ‘Skyfall is Forever’ came out on exactly the same date three years ago (26th October) costing $200 million to make. Fortunately the movie grossed over $1 billion so all is happy in the Barbara Broccoli household, a lady who dated Saturday Kitchen’s James Martin for three or four years. Daniel Craig, Bond, says it’s his last outing as the secret agent though he says he might do another just for the dough. Might be an opening there . . .
The new movie will be full of dash and dare, gratuitous murder, nerves and tension, maybe a spiked drink, a few chases, high level gadgetry, Bond being compromised and captured early on in the film only to miraculously escape, just to give the film another couple of hours. There are many parallels with Saturday’s show where the producers threw the kitchen sink at it. Indiana Jones showed up, and Marilyn Monroe, so too ET, or was that Ola on a bike, peddling towards the edge of the show? Darth Vader was in the audience, and there was definitely murder on the dance floor. We were promised some Blockbuster routines. Surely they meant Amazon Prime or Netflix?
The first victim of the night was our Ainsley, dressed in a debonair black and white outfit that made him look like he was auditioning for ‘Racing Stripes’, that epic cartoon about a zebra. The unctuous Natalie accompanied him, herself sassed up in a super sexy number, only to be spoiled by a tuft of orange hair on her head, like someone had squashed a Jaffa cake. Was this to be something from ‘Live and Let Die’, Ainsley slotting nicely into the role of Baron Samedi? And then the music started, ‘Boogie Wonderland’ and that was ruled out. So what then? In the backdrop penguins appeared, the birds not the biscuit, and I learned later that the movie in question was ‘Happy Feet’.
My conscious mind was in a tizzy, the outfits, the music and the movie had no connection anywhere in my brain and I relaxed and softened into a gentle hypnotic trance which was just as well really, that was the only place I could hallucinate and discover the Cha that this was supposed to be. Back in the day there was a movie called the ‘The Search for Spock’ when Captain Kirk flitted from one planet to another shouting, ‘is Spock there?’ Eventually someone said yes and the film ended. Didn’t happen in this dance, ‘In Search of the Cha’. There was a great party going on, Ainsley was allowed his funn and he was highly entertaining, but bereft of steps and technique his 20 points sent him into the dance offf.
Katie Derham nearly joined him, the second victim of the night, another Cha with that wizard of Latin, Antony Smith of Bristol. They danced to ‘Pretty Woman’, from, er, ‘Pretty Woman’, which meant that Katie was the prozzie and Antony was the bloke who lost his gerbils. As ever, Katie looked stunning, a tempting slit in her frock on the left thigh, and it was just as well really, because as Antony tried to remember how the Cha went, she stood there, posed a bit, posed some more and then, when the contnnt failed to show, posed again and it was all over, another on 20 points, a huge let down after the first two weeks.
What followed was a grovelling apology from the male professional taking responsibility for the routine. Four times he repeated the soliloquy. Which is fine. Now he, and his pals, both sexes, need to sort this out. They are all at it. Contnnt nowhere to be seen. It sells the dance short but worst of all it sells their partners short. So why do it? Bit daft really.
A week ago a learned friend asked me if Billy Preston and Syreeta were performing when the song ‘With You I’m Born Again’ burst through the speakers. Sadly both have passed but their torch is carried with élan by the fantastic precision and class applied by the singers Tommy, Chris, Lance, Hayley and Andrea to the marvellous musical stewardship of Dave Arch. Georgia and Gigi got lucky when ‘The Writing’s on the Wall’, the new Bond theme, already Number One in the Hit Parade, began at the same time as their Rumba. But that was where the luck ran out, along with the steps. The shapes were great and the romance bloomed, but you can’t dance a Rumba on the spot, without moving your feet, though they tried. Lord Len gave Gigi both barrels, ‘too much posturing, posing, larking about . . .’ and he punished them with a feeble six, the others sevens. It was a clear piece of direction from the Head Juddge.
There is some clear demarcation in the show already; there are three leagues, The Premiership featuring those with a dance pedigree, The Championship where the talented beginners sit and then there’s the Vauxhall Conference, the home of the true beginners. The show should stop now and split into these three phalanxes giving people the chance to compete on a like for like basis.
The Vauxhall Conference dance teams are my preferred taste, novices learning and trying, no chance of winning, just happy to give it a lash, throwing away inhibitions and allowing the process to take them to whatever outcome they achieve. That said, one or two will depart earlier than others. Ainsley, Daniel, Jezza, Carol, Jamelia and Kirsty are lined up for the next six weeks though Daniel tried his hardest to exit in time for Ireland’s quarter final in the Rugby World Cup last Sunday.
‘Grease’ is not Daniel’s natural home. He doesn’t own a pair of blue jeans, he’s never worn a black leather jacket and he’s never looked in the mirror and pretended to be The Fonz. His Cha to ‘Summer Nights’ was limp, camp, pointless even, dad dancing ousted by grandad dancing. He got to 21 points, his lowest effort to date. He definitely wasn’t the one that we wanted.
Jezza lacks confidence in front of camera. There’s a statement. For a man who has hosted some of the most high profile shows on TV he has no confidence on the dance floor. Of course, this has to be expected – why would he? – he is the antithesis of his brother who performs when the fridge door opens. What this means is that he has no chance of owning a dance and so he goes for it without true conviction, the result a bizarre Charleston to ‘Top Hat, White Tie and Tails’ from ‘Top Hat’, something that would have made Fred cast a stare, Jezza dressed in a top hat, 24 points a twenty-five percent surge in his favour. The outfit sort of made sense but the routine wasn’t exactly seaside bawdy, playful or titillating. That said with seven million listeners cheering him on he’ll be here for a while and we can only hope he reaches the tipping point when that confidence arrives.
It won’t for Carol, for once not given a weather related song or movie though they must have been tempted by ‘Singing in the Rain’. Can’t wait till next year when porn star Cathy Barry treads the boards. That would give the producers some new material. It would certainly add some bounce to the Samba.
Anyway, Carol bottomed out again to ‘Wash That Man’ from ‘South Pacific’ for the second time in three weeks with just 17 points, dancing a new version of the Quick Step that is now called the Slow Step. Quaint, gentle, unhurried, undynamic, this wasn’t exactly a ray of sunshine, more a misty early morning. Longer strides and a true pace would have helped. She’d only have to do it for a minute.
‘Heaven Must be Missing an Angel’ is a great disco track but it ain’t no Salsa so there was little wonder that Jamelia struggled a little with the rhythm and the timing, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, not 1 and 2 as previously stated at the Italian Salsa congress. If you can’t hear the beat you can’t hit the beat and this left Jamelia struggling with the tempo and thus the dance. She managed 25 points, her best yet, but a proper track with real speed would have helped her fluidity and made the transitions easier. Maybe the soundtrack of ‘Charlie’s Angels’ has other Salsa songs? ‘Turning Japanese’, perhaps? Or ‘True’? Or ‘You Make Me Feel Like Dancing’ by Leo Sayer? At least there were some proper steps though I’ve never seen a floor roll at any Salsa pally in this country in the last fifteen years.
I’ve also never seen two dogs dancing together, no gags about parties and weddings, not until Kirsty and Brendan showed up in full costume and danced a Fox Trot Smooth to ‘He’s a Tramp’, from the movie ‘Lady and the . . .’. To be fair it could have been anyone, bit like the mascot at the game, the outfits and makeup hiding much, tails taking the starring role, especially when Kirsty’s heel got caught in hers mid lift. She found some comfort in hold though and she managed the wardrobe issue nicely. 23 was a marked improvement; good on her.
In The Championship we have Georgia, already discussed, Peter and Anita, all gnawing at this great opportunity, so too the make-up team who turned Peter into a mixture of Black Beard and Captain Jack from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. A brilliant transformation! They even threw in a plank for Janette to walk and a rope for Pete to swing onto the floor with. The problem is that if you dance to a song called ‘He’s a Pirate’, and you dress someone like a pirate, then they tend to dance like a pirate, and that is what Pete did. This was supposed to be a Paso Doble but with heavy boots, a belt buckle made of iron, that beard and a red bandana, Pete spent most of the dance hunched forward rather than finding the artistry and shaping of a classic matador. Standing taller may have upped his score from 28.
A point higher was Anita, someone who is beguiling to watch, especially when she is dressed in an ethereal white outfit and with her hair channelling Flavia Cacace, last seen heading to the bank with her hard-earned spoils. Three dances in and she is already ticking many boxes. Great attitude, nice arms, she embraces the occasion, she even went to pottery school for this show, a beautiful urn just finished before her clean shaved partner enticed her to the floor. They danced to ‘Unchained Melody’ from ‘Ghost’, a movie about a ghost and a pottery class; that was lucky wasn’t it? This Viennese Waltz Smooth (can’t call it VW, gets people annoyed, you know, emissions and all that) had grace, captivation and was thoroughly enchanting, even when Gleb fell forward on to the floor and he raced forward on his hands and toes, Anita hanging on to his neck, hoping he’d collapse fully.
Which leaves just three dancers in The Premiership, a trio with a performing arts pedigree, Kellie, Helen and Jay, 32, 32 and 37. ’37?’ I hear you ask. Mmnn, does that mean that someone got a ten? In week three?
Like two kids in a sweet shop Kellie and KFG got to dress up as their Star Wars heroes Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker. They had everything, the loose white outfits, her the hair and both had light sabres. There was even a starship, very enterprising of the production team. All it needed was Flash Gordon and Scotty and we’d have had a full house. As is this turned out to be a Charleston to a natty little tune called ‘Cantina Band’, the light sabres miraculously turning into canes. With great synchronisation they tapped and swivelled to their hearts content, they even danced the velociraptor, a move patented by Judgge Aggie, but the horseplay and wackiness disappeared with the story line. Two bars in hold, a cartwheel and a lift left you thinking that it was missing Obi One or two things?
Of all the dances of the night it was Helen who drew the winner from the hat, a proper Fox Trot to ‘I Wanna be Loved by You’ from the movie ‘Some Like it Hot’. Helen played the part of Marilyn Monroe whilst Ali-Ash dressed like a male stripper, the captain of the ship, peaked hat, glasses, black blazer, white strides and a cravat. When the music started off came the specs. A few bars later the cap followed. Was this really ‘The Full Monty’?
Thankfully that is where he stopped and the potential disaster zone was averted as his long strides propelled Helen like a luxury yacht across a millpond. Her champagne frock glided like a swan as they glitzed their way towards the final.
Meeting them there will be Jay and Aliona who won the plaudits of the night dancing a Jive to ‘Misirlou’, a tune from ‘Pulp Fiction’, so I’m told. Aliona was another to sport a wig , black, along with knee length tight black leggings and a white school blouse revealing much of her midriff. You had to watch this dance a cupple of times, firstly to gawp at her body, secondly to watch Jay’s masterful technique, brilliant timing and theatrical class. At one stage he threw in three kick ball changes turning to his right, almost a fouetté en tournant, spotting again, earning him acclaim from the panel. ‘A level of technique never seen ever.’ ‘The best dance ever.’ And the last comment earned Jay the first ten of the series. If you were to be picky his spare arm needs a little work, to extend from the middle of the back. Apart from that, the rest have a mountain to climb.
Someone not at that gig, free now to concentrate on his real career, is the likeable Anthony TH, the man to get the KO in the DO (Dance Offf). Ogogo has ogogo-gone. Whilst Oti auditioned to be the next Bond girl in three years’ time wearing a stunning yellow and red cape from the waist, Anthony pictured himself back in the ring at the ExCel Exhibition Centre, London, 2012. This Paso to ‘Eye of the Tiger’ from the misnamed ‘Survivor’ (Rocky 111), that’s one hundred and eleven, not three, was full of jabs, uppercuts and haymakers. And that was just her. Had this been in the bull ring Anthony would have been arrested and imprisoned for punching the beast rather than taunting it before the kill. There was energy and commitment but no chance of a lead, strange from a boxer, and 19 points hit his average.
And now all the popcorn is gone, the curtain is up and we are left to anticipate the further treats that are to come. Going well isn’t it?
October 14th 2015