Over the years I have been fortunate to experience many great events. The list includes two Rugby World Cup Finals, Grand Slam days, victories and defeats in Paris, prawn sandwiches at The Theatre of Dreams, Ashes Test Matches, Stevie Wonder at The Garden, NY, even in the director’s seats watching Les Mis in the West End. But, not for love nor money can I get tickets to watch Strictly at Elstree.
The frustration is compounded when you see who is in the audience. Linda Robson and Pauline Quirke just skip in at will. Jamie Redknapp won a pass to see the missus. Even Boris Becker got in, probably looking for a new volunteer for the broom cupboard. How did they get tickets?
And then there’s ‘It Takes Two’, the Disney World show of perfection hosted by the bubbly and newly single Zoe Ball, every night of the week just to feed your addiction. This is the show where the world is faultless, where everyone can dance and should have scored maximums, where the music is impeccable, where life is full of love and magic dust to make the flaws of the world disappear into irrelevance. And there’s tickets for this too. Imagine the shock when I spied the lovely Kelly Hemmings, local starlet of a dancer, in the crowd on Friday’s show, laughing and whooping with the rest of the mainly female audience. I sent her a text just to see if her phone would go off on live telly. For those with influence I am available on Saturday 19th November. That might be Blackpool . . .
Who will be there is anyone’s guess. Brendan was too ill to make it this week, replaced by Gorka . . . Laura was injured, too hurt to dance . . . obvs we had the AWOL incident last week . . . Anastacia was too battered and bruised to dance off . . . and this week saw Daisy, of all people, in the bottom two on Sunday night in spite of a score of 32, a Charleston to ‘Happy Feet’. Fortunately she survived.
The concept for this dance was theatrical, white shoes and white gloves the only thing on view against a background of pitch black for the first fifteen seconds. Only the size of the hands determined who was who. When the dark lifted we were greeted by what looked like two cat burglars missing a swag bag, full length black outfits with a sequin sparkle, and Daisy on key for ninety percent of the routine, clever handography, a reverse somersault lift and a round the world to finish, this when she had lost a smidgen of energy. It was crisp and sharp and worthy of (happy) feet up and for her to have a rest but that was not to be.
We all know that the results show is filmed on Saturday night and still the BBC pretend it isn’t. Never sure why, but the fact was beautifully exposed by Greg, who after a seriously ropey Cha, 24 points to ‘We Found Love’, stated that it would be better ‘if we have to do it again later’. I’m sure he got a telling off from the producers. There could be no other reason for the look of total fear on his face throughout the show. He can’t hide what he is feeling, you are never NOT communicating. Easiest place to start is his eyes.
Natalie should be in the Magic Circle; she used all her tricks and mischievousness to hide the fact that the only word you can use in the same sentence as Greg and Cha is ‘bobbins’. Firstly, she looked stunning, tassels all the way in her frock, yellow, pink and blue ‘V’ shaped hoops, like a posh FAB lolly. And then she did everything she could to hide his lack of expertise. A splits, a wiggle, a walk, another wiggle, three gratuitous thigh humps, all gladly taken by both parties, and why not? But dance? Greg was stiffer than a frozen fish finger. And those pigeon toes are really starting to grate.
In a week of mistakes Cloudier and AJ (Albert Jason) were guilty too, he more so than her, as they did just the second Samba of the series (from nearly 70 dances!), 32 points, to ‘Young Hearts Run Free’. You see many cooking shows on the telly these days and within them occasionally the food cooked isn’t, it is raw, undercooked, and the chefs look perplexed. How did that happen? The simple answer is to ‘put it in the oven earlier’. With this Samba, a super-fast, challenging routine, the simple answer was to slow it down. Drop the speed. Make sure that you are comfortable with it, take off the edge. They didn’t and, as Lord Len pointed out, technique was sacrificed for bravado. In the psychological world this is called the Elephant beating the Rider, emotion defeating the pragmatist. Bit daft really.
This was a shame because Cloudier can dance, really dance, and the complexity of this routine was within her compass, danced at a sensible pace. Another in tassels, silver and sky blue, she descended some stairs that had mysteriously appeared in front of the judggies’, and then the sprint began made even harder when a Glitter Ball appeared in the middle of the floor. It was reported that this was a giant sized ball, the biggest on the show ever, but I can confirm that it was a normal one, it’s just that the dancers were small . . .
A friend of mine told me recently how chuffed he was that his oldest son had set his career on being a barrister. On investigation his glee turned to disappointment when his son explained that he was brilliant with coffee and that Costa would pay for his training.
A nice link then to Flycatcher Rob and his chance at redemption with a Jive following his udderly ridiculous and disappointing VW last week with Heidi and her cow. And redeemed he was with 29 points, his best score to date, to ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’, a pure coincidence that Bette Midler is in town promoting her latest greatest hits album . . .
Rob is a fit fella, toned, muscled, full of ambition and attitude, and this proved vital as Oxi drilled him to within an inch of exhaustion. At the offset he had to step through huge tyres left on the floor, she made him do a one handed cartwheel, star jumps, flicks and tricks, though for some reason she avoided the rope climbing frame that dominated a corner of the stage. The hectic pace was easy for Rob though his enthusiasm also took over, like AJ (Aaron Jackson), and with that the gay abandon meant that precision disappeared, technique was ignored and the only sharpness found was at the end of her stilettoes. There is plenty of raw material here though now for Rob to progress if he adds some refinement. Duck tape is in the post btw.
Ed is coming to the end of the line. 16 last week, 18 this, all following an overblown 24, do not auger well for the amiable ex-MP. When it was released last week that Ed would be dancing to ‘Amarillo’ (Is this the Way to) you sensed that the producers’ stitch up was now in overdrive, Ed and Katya playing the role of hitchhikers and also that of dancers doing an American Smooth.
The Smooth should be exactly that, Hollywood glitter, great outfits, cool music, a dash of flair, a soupcon of class as the guy woos the girl, as she falls into his arms, which is exactly what happened, nearly, as Katya was elevated onto Ed’s shoulder for the second lift of the dance only for the balance to waver and for her to head for the floor. Sensing disaster Ed hoisted her a second time, a large, cumbersome hand thrusting at her sternum as if he was stooking bales of hay.
It had all started so well, fifty seconds in hold, nice basics, a lift, and then, oops, get back up there love. Had Ed worn a full dress suit rather than looking like a half dressed banker without the braces he wouldn’t have had to resort to a mop roll that was nearly a lift or Katya rolling over his back, that was also nearly a lift, or to hamming it up like a dad in panto. In terms of sophistication it was like watching Donny Rovers rather than Real Madrid.
Delightfully we were treated to some real quality as Anastacia stormed back into the contest with 30 points for her Quick Step to ‘My Kind of Town’ (Chicago is, which is, coincidentally where she is from. See what they did there?) It is her highest score to date.
As reported Brendan was nowhere to be seen and up stepped Gorka, same horse, new jockey, and they danced a sublime routine with the lightest of footwork, lovely skips, smart synchronisation and a gentle finesse that won many hearts. What didn’t was the industrial sized gap between both dancers and the gratuitous use of a bench for rests and keepy uppy without a ball. And of course, you know, the hand to hand section, riled. But the overall feel felt fine and she lives to fight another day though if I were her I’d spend a few days now planning what to do in December on Saturday nights.
Whilst Tommy Blaize smashed Whitney’s ‘How Will I Know’ Danny Mac Pro’s Rumba disappointed, even scoring so highly. He looked fine all in black, his shirt buttons ripped off in rehearsal, his shoes glistened as much as his guy-liner, something that he normally just wears to Tesco. Oti‘s red contrasted brilliantly. And of course his feet were spot on.
But . . . the mood was all over the place. For the most part Danny’s body said, ‘look at me, look at me, aren’t I gorgeous’. Oti‘s said, ‘look at him, look at him, isn’t he gorgeous.’ Half way through there was a look between them, just before the sliding doors section, when they looked at each other as if to say, ‘aren’t we gorgeous.’ They both smiled, almost laffed; there was more romance in an empty sardine tin. And the Rumba without romance is like . . .
Is like Louise and KFG‘s Rumba, supposedly set in Paris though the Blackpool Tower had gate crashed the party and stood proudly centre stage to the back, right. This was another dance where the cupple smiled all the way through, probably because she remembered the steps, both parties relieved.
It is fine to have funn dancing, that is the main attraction, but the Rumba is about the chase not the smugness of how do you want your eggs for breakfast, and this beautiful exposition had no chase, not even a haggle over the situation. It looked sophisticated and distinguished but the lack of chemistry made it a show of technique rather than passion. A quick mention for Dave Arch here. What a stunning interpretation of ‘Always on My Mind’, truly stunning.
The Kleenex Kid stole the night again, 36 for a Waltz to ‘I Will Always Love You’, Dolly Parton’s finest offering. Ore didn’t cry but he wanted to, he nearly did, it was there, it was probably when JFG decided to add a mop roll to what otherwise was an exquisite performance. Can’t believe it really. In a Waltz. What on earth was she thinking? A dance with so many steps to choose from, so many that she used, abused by her sliding on the floor on her arse. I’m sure it would have soiled her classy sky blue frock.
Ore‘s stock is rising. With a sportsman’s mind he is learning the steps quickly and he is approaching each dance for what it is. Had the two Rumba’s been as tense as this, what a show we would have had. The depth of his characterisation of the mood and the music elevated this from the ordinary to the extraordinary, the story telling was so believable perhaps his tears were for JFG after this emotional separation. His delivery overpowered hers.
By now, if you had been crossing through the names you would know that there is just one to go and that means that Lesley is back home watching the box-set of Birds of a Feather and that Antony Smith of Bristol is propping up the bar of The Cambridge Arms in downtown Westbury Park drinking half an Aspall’s.
What a shame, what a shame, what a shame, because Lesley produced the best Tango of this series bar none. Sadly, she did it in the dance off against a better dancer, maybe after a medicinal G & T, not during the regulation performance, where she was a little scared, bobbing up and down (the Tango is best danced flat), heavily focussing on a real routine with great content, simple, basic content, but so much of it, what a lesson to the other pros. Hats off to the choreographer.
In her first effort Lesley scored just 24 to ‘Whatever Lola Wants’. She portrayed a fortune teller, dressed in gypsy red, headband to suit, more bling than Claire’s Accessories. Perhaps she didn’t envisage Antony dressed in Rupert the Bear trousers and wearing guy-liner like he was auditioning for Depeche Mode, or the fact that she was made to walk over a table on her knees to reach her beau. At the finish Antony picked up the crystal ball and smashed it to pieces on the ground. Perhaps he had seen the future? It wasn’t enuff to topple Daisy.
One benefit of Lesley’s exit is that there will be two spare seats available in the audience on Saturday night now that Linda and Pauline won’t be needing them.
So, how do I get those?
October 27th 2016