On Friday I watched the film ‘Selma’, the story of Dr Martin Luther King’s battle with the American authorities and racist population to enforce voting rights for all Americans, regardless of colour, creed or religion, a campaign that was based on non-violent demonstration, very Gandhi-esque.
On Friday night I had a dream.
I dreamt I saw a man at the top of a stone staircase outside the country’s highest court. He stood, his arms a V-shape, open to the crowd below.
‘I refuse to believe that the bank of justice in this country is bankrupt. I refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation . . . today is not an end, but a beginning . . . I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up . . . and vote for Katie Derham . . . justice at last!’
The film petered out as Antony Smith of Bristol’s eyes closed and mine opened.
The dream nearly came true. Everything that could be dunn to give Katie a chance to win was put in place. The Samba disappeared, so too all other Latin thoughts as she was given the Quick Step to reprise by the juddgies, the first component of the night, a dance to improve on. In fairness there were many . . . this to be followed by a Show Dance, thirteen years in the making for Antony Smith, and then, if they made the cut, their dance of choice, the Viennese Waltz. The VW never saw the light of day.
First time out the Quick Step scored just 26, the second go 31, not really enuff to test the top three. Throughout the routine to ‘42nd Street’ the feeling was one of insecurity, unease, something that begun when Katie had a hat issue at the offset, her boater not playing ball. This clearly distracted her throughout, her partner’s coaching falling on deaf ears.
It was a brave effort but when her competitors scored 36, 36 and 40, it was clearly the end of the road for Katie . . . unless all of Antony’s 152,000 Twitter followers voated . . . unless her Show Dance could redeem her . . . a dance where anything goes, lifts, tricks, drops, flicks, kicks, solo, together, you name it.
When the music started the anticipation built, the reds, blacks and purples, the perfect back drop. Carl Orff’s ‘O Fortuna’, popularly known as the Old Spice music, blasted out, powerful, vibrant, like a raging storm. On cue the studio lit up, an amphitheatre, fire burning, flames furious and rampant, Katie dressed like a sacrificial Roman goddess in purple and gold; if only her partner had been robed like Caesar, toga and laurel wreath, toeless sandals, rather than the Milk Tray man. Et tu, Antony?
They started on a stage, five feet high, this hybrid Tango with great lines and drama; and power as Katie was launched on to her partner’s shoulder. Once on the floor the moves were sharp, strong and crisp. Again Katie was launched skyward, a straight arm lift, there were consecutive Robin Cousins’s, his and hers, she was lifted high to kick higher, and again in a reverse turn.
And then came the coup de grace. Katie mounted the stairs back up to the stage, turned her back on the dance floor, held her arms high and just fell backwards. It was jaw-dropping and produced the greatest howl of joy that Travolta Towers has heard since that famous drop goal in 2003. Heaven knows what the neighbours thought? She could have broken her neck, her back or she could have died. Now that’s what I call jeopardy! As luck would have it Antony caught her, spun round and slid her across the floor to finish. Magnificent. The judggies scored it just 31 simply getting it wrong. It was the dance of the night if not the series.
With Katie enjoying a welcome gin and tonic and ice bath in the green room the remaining three dancers were left to battle for the title, a decision that courted more controversy, and further evidence at how bad the GBP are when it comes to making universal decisions, only their voats determining the winner, the juddgies’ scores just guidance. Just because a majority want it doesn’t automatically make it right.
With a fag paper between the top three it can only be said that Kellie Bright was robbed of The Glitter Ball, totally robbed. And as you are aware she’s not my favourite. How can she top the leader board so emphatically and lose? How can she score the same amount of points overall as Jay and lose? How can she score more tens than Jay, have more forties, and lose? How can a dancer without a forty win? It was like the boxing match when Henry Cooper lost to Joe Bugner in 1971. ‘He’s given it to Bugner and I find that amazing!’ said Harry Carpenter. There will be many scratched heads in the Bright household as a result, so too in Grimsby, KFG making the final again, only to be pipped by the GBP.
The leader board at the end of the night read:
The final tale of the tape reads:
Georgia got the chance to re-do her Rumba and finish with her Charleston, the Show Dance sandwiched in between, and she stepped up to the plate and nearly rocked the two favourites. We will never know who came second or third, only first and fourth.
The Rumba was sumptuous in a non-Rumba sort of way. The song helped, ‘The Writing’s on the Wall’ an all-time classic, the theme of James Bond heavy in the air. In Week 3 Gigi was pilloried by Lord Len for not including enough basics so you would have expected an improvement wouldn’t you? There was little and Len let them get away with it, just the ten bars from a possible forty-eight, a measly twenty percent.
Georgia started on the floor on her own, her frock revealing skin at clavicle and cleavage, appendix and thigh. Skin sells. On 28 seconds – they could have given her a chair – Gigi approached her from the rear, not advisable with a lady, and put his jacket on her, the temperature at the studio obviously sub-zero. Then he went for a vampire bite on her neck before he span off and she chased. After nearly a minute gone they decided to dance, opening outs, a spiral, a fallaway (Aida), and before you knew it, it was all over. It was polished and smart but in thirteen weeks she still hasn’t learned how to spot or to stop her wobbles or what a basic Rumba step is. Funny what you can get away with.
In Week 8 Georgia smashed the Charleston, 39 points, to ‘Hot Honey Rag’, the song from Chicago, her favourite show. You remember it? Gold outfit? Black wig? Hat? When she was thrown over his head only to climb down his back and through his legs clinging to his thighs, a move I will have to introduce to my repertoire? She repeated it, smashed it again and got her first full house, a great time to do it.
Their Show Dance was a thing of beauty if not spectacular, ‘Fix You’, the song, the theme, Georgia recovering from eye surgery, Gigi the surgeon, the saviour (well, it is Christmas), the fixer, her pastel lime frock matching her blindfold. Dry ice flooded the floor as Gigi led for half of the dance, Georgia really in the dark, both bodies writhing, shaping, stretching. It was a brave concept, once based on total trust especially when she was lifted to his shoulder and lowered down his back backwards till her hands hit the floor and she cartwheeled back to her feet. Remember, she was still blindfolded.
With her eyes cured it seemed that she had also learned the Viennese Waltz, a much accomplished celebration of her returning vision. Gigi lifted her in a cradle catch and to finish he did six turns to left, a masterclass for Georgia – ‘this is how you do it, love’ – which she followed with three of her own. A wonderfully lyrical story was a fitting testament to her ability, his introduction to the show and to their obvious special relationship, brother/sister, friends/lovers, delete as applicable. She has been a charm to watch especially in the Ballroom.
You will know by now that Jay conquered all in spite of having what can only be described as a bad day at the office (for him); the scores don’t lie. Everything was set up for him, the chance to Quick Step again, a great opportunity to wow the crowd with a show stopper of a Show Dance and a chance for us to see that magical Jive again. What we got was just one of these elements, the Quick Step, a mediocre Show Dance with less wow than a colonoscopy without an anaesthetic, and no Jive. No Jive!!!! Whoever made that call must have been dropped on their head as a child.
Many moons ago Jay’s Quick Step to ‘My Generation’ scored just 25 points; the routine was complex, fast and intricate, too complex, too fast, too intricate, and the replay in The Grand Final was a chance to tweak the conntnnt, to slow it down, to give Jay the chance to offer his perfect dance. It didn’t happen. The conntnnt was still there, so too the speed and the complexity.
What was added though was more drive and lead, a testament to his learning curve over the last three months. He bossed this dance like no other, and it should be said that none of the other celebrities, male or female, could have pulled off this dance. It scored 36, a nice marker but not enough to trubble the top spot.
11.9 million people watched the show on Saturday night; only 4.2 million tuned in on Sunday for the results show. Instead of that spectacular Jive Jay danced a Paso to Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s My Life’, very popular in the bull rings of New Jersey. The dance itself was aggressive, clean, full of power and titillation; who wouldn’t want to dance with a girl wearing a bikini top and half a skirt? But whilst all the drive and conntnnt mesmerised the audience there was an element that spoiled the night. He smiled for the last minute, so too his partner. There was me thinking that this was a dance about a matador, a trained killer, and a bull ready for the slab? And they smiled all the way to the abattoir. Still got 39 though. The Jive would have scored 50.
I’m sure if he could choose again Jay would decide to change the Show Dance, essentially a cut and paste of the favourite bits of all his dances to ‘Can’t Feel My Face’. It began well enough, Jay upside down on a wire dressed like a scruffy cricketer, all in white, shirt out, and Aliona in a flimsy gold nighty sitting on a mystical floating stage, one that gently lowered to the ground like a landing UFO. Aliona span Jay around just to test his spotting. It was like Penn and Teller meets David Blaine, now we were in for some magic . . .
Or rather we weren’t.
Once vertical Jay did the obvious, pulled Aliona to him and bent her backwards, all in the name of art. Who wouldn’t have dunn that? Then, on the real stage, dry ice aplenty, they combined Rumba, Hip Hop, Jive, Disco, Hustle, some gentle lifts, plenty of straddling, again, who wouldn’t, and then there was more of that pesky smiling. But it was a bit like my high jump career, never really got off the ground. Juddge Aggie was underwhelmed, I felt short-changed, the audience whooped like banshees on acid but I’m sure that deep down they wanted something more spectacular. A huge opportunity missed.
Poor Kellie. What more could she have dunn? 119/120, miles in frunnt of the other two and still she had to be content with coming second or third. Though she clapped and applauded when the bad news came, as Jay and Aliona showed genuine disbelief at their fortune, underneath she must have been seething, what a load of bull’s . . .
The night started perfectly for Kellie when she got to Tango again to ‘You Really Got Me’, a dance that scored 27 in Week One. If you can remember that far back it was the Tango with a sixties vibe, a motor bike on the stage, a red phone box on the floor, KFG starting head banging like a demented chicken, this prior to him singing all the way through, Kellie joining in when she wasn’t pouting or chewing her food hell. I hope they both get gaffer tape for Christmas. It was a retro Tango and she was foot perfect, 40 her reward, faultless . . . but horrible. I hope I never see it again.
Same too for the Charleston from hell, just 39 this time, the one where they wore judo outfits and pretended to be in Star Wars having raided the toy box for Light Sabres. Funny they should choose this in the week that ‘The Force Awakens’ was launched throughout the world. Probably just a coincidence.
They began on the flight deck of a space ship in trubble just as the ‘Star Wars Cantina’ music kicked in. Oh, where was Darth Vader when you needed him the most? Or the SS Enterprise? Wouldn’t it have been top bombing if the orchestra had started to play ‘Star Trekkin’ instead, ‘there’s Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow’, but we weren’t that lucky. Of course Kellie was precise, her energy levels great and her performance a tribute to the Sylvia Young Theatre School. But still it wasn’t enuff to win.
Which, genuinely, is a shame because her Show Dance was nothing short of brilliant. I’d never heard of ‘Ding Dong Daddy of the D Car Line’, let alone knew which dance accompanied it, which is just as well, because this routine featured Lindy Hop, Swing, Jive and Charleston, the tempos swishing from super-fast to gentle, a hint of ‘Minnie the Moocha’, as Kellie and KFG attacked everything with total gusto.
She was dressed in a frail pink crop frock, KFG in matching shirt and tie with grey pants and braces. How lucky he was that they worked because such was the speed and the work rate that a simple ‘ping!’ would have made the dance even more spectacular. How lucky they were that there wasn’t a plague of flies close by; both gaping gobs would have copped for plenty.
At the centre of the stage was a giant green steam engine, ‘The Strictly Express’, in front of it a track, and like two petulant teenagers that is where they danced. All you needed was the brakes to fail . . . they didn’t. At times steam belched from the engine, like an angry elephant, but they were safe, even finishing lying, collapsed on the line. It was a proper Show Dance, full of effort, funn, speed and much wow. Forty points was spot on. But, as said, it wasn’t enuff.
Now, in the aftermath, we are left to savour the taste for it will be nine long months before we are back to the most glamourous TV show of them all. It was good to see Tess’s metal belt get its once a year airing in the final; it was great to see Claudia’s rise to comic mastery, her timing impeccable. Dave Arch and his band were immaculate; the singers wondrous. The frocks were stunning, the men’s outfits too trendy and needing work. The production scintillating.
Forever we are told that this series was the highest standard ever; we all know that statistically this isn’t the case. Jay and Kellie averaged 34.1. Caroline Flack and Frankie Bridge both topped that last year with 35.1. Even Pixie Lott scored 34.5, Jason Donovan 34.8, Chelsa Heala 35.3, Abbey Clancy, Natalie Gumede and Harry Judd were all over 35.0, Abbey and Natalie scoring tens for funn, 22 and 24 respectively, so don’t be conned. But we did see a gentle changing of the guard, the exit of Ola and Aliona, now a two time winner, the only two time winner, both onto more lucrative pastures, the introduction of the Errol Flynn look-a-like hotty, hotty, hotty, that is Gleb Savchenko (calendars available on line) and Gigi, a tender man who has only been learning to speak English since August. In spite of the ludicrous, the annoying and the controversy we are still left with the Greatest Show on Earth, something for which we can all be thankful. It was a hoot, wasn’t it?
On that note I would like to thank Juddgies Aggie, KK and Toby, and all my contributors and helpers during the long autumn dance term, whether you knew it or not, and I wish you all a fantastic break and a wonderful New Year.
December 23rd 2015