I suppose we should call it ‘Speedo Gate’, the day when the Prima Ballerina’s brain and mouth failed to engage in unison, when the electronic links between the neurons and the voice box disintegrated. It provided the second most hilarious moment of the series, after Ruthie’s infamous straddle.
Gushing with praise for Alexandra’s Salsa, the autopsy to come, Darcey wanted to make a point. Perhaps she was trying to give heart to the girl whose middle name is Diva. Maybe it was a verbal cuddle. More likely under producers’ instructions. I’m sure that they all sit down together and agree which adjectives all the judggies use so that there’s no repetition.
‘Jeeze, anything but another meltdown!’ screamed the Executive Producer.
Because before the dance off last week it is reported that Alex lost the plot and ranted and rowed with her partner following their nomination. Everyone saw it. The fellow pros, the backroom staff, the audience. Of course it was denied by the PR machine.
‘Crikey bobs, the poor lamb,’ empathised the BBC’s Head of Compassion in a Team Togetherness meeting. ‘I think we need to be nicer to her. All those tears! Sobbing into that towel! She must be hurting so badly! I just want to hug her so much.’
Or something like that, remembering that this is just a game show . . .
As Darcey’s mind searched her closed dictionary she blurted out.
‘If you don’t get into the final I’m going to get into his Speedos’.
She pointed at Bruno. The place collapsed with laughter.
On It Takes Two, at the post mortem, the hostess, the lovely Zoe Ball changed the wording to ‘I’m going to juddge in his Speedos.’ Which is very naughty because that’s not what Darcey said. ‘I’m going to get into his Speedos’ is the direct quote.
Now, where I come from that has nothing to do with juddging. For all that she could have picked a straight guy. And the sales of Speedos have rocketed since. I have a pair in my cross body bag just in case I meet her on the High Street.
Salsa was Alex’s second dance of the night, all the cupples performing twice, not just her, and it was a spectacular offering, her flame red frock bubbling with intent. Alex dances Latin like Serena Williams plays tennis: powerful, forceful, on her terms, with a sense of anger and the jungle, tribal and dominant. You wouldn’t fancy fighting her down an alley. As for the Latin world’s finest dance the self-tormented Prima Donna needn’t have had the panic attack. Okay, her feet are a little pigeoned, overselling doesn’t always work, sometimes less is more, her turn arm was too high, the solo sections were like Zumba, there was a clunky hand change where she blanked for a second, the song was pure disco and her mouth was clearly employed as a fly catcher. Her four tens should have exorcised some demons. Personally I was overwhelmed.
In Alex’s Viennese Waltz, after a forty second break full of dreary ethereal waft where the world passed in slow motion, she added three more tens and a nine, nearly a perfect night, her semi-final aggregate as high as there has been, not matched by her peers, seventy the next score, not exactly pushing her nor rocking the record books. She remains the best dancer, the obvious favourite but even if she scores three maximums in next week’s final it is unlikely that she will win and that is no bad thing. Just think of the sales of Kleenex? The money to be made from counselling? The truth is that the GBP don’t want to see a pro win this event. They enjoy the journey, the transition, the effort, the vulnerability of the novice. It’s true, we love a striver; it fits into our Victorian ethic, it melts hearts, it adds to our own beliefs, our own sense of possibility.
For exactly the same reason the lovely Debbie McGee should also fall by the wayside. Nothing personal here either, but another pro who shouldn’t be on the same dance floor as total novices. It’s a bit like the Dirtiest Race in History, the 100m final from the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Six out of the eight runners that day all had drug convictions of some sort or another, poor Calvin Smith who finished fourth, one of the clean guys, should have been awarded the Gold medal.
Now, before the law suits arrive, I’m not saying that Debbie is a drugs cheat, it’s what we call a comparison, an analogy. But she is a pro; others are novices. She’s been to dance school, they haven’t. She’s toured Europe dancing for a living, they’ve been doing day jobs. That’s all.
Debbie Jived, a bit ropey, and her Fox Trot was a work of understated beauty, especially the full length formal frock, black and tanned, but the focus of her night’s work was the chase for voats.
‘Did I say that I was 59?’
Every week she is struggerling with something or other, her Mondays are hard work, she bruises easily, her body aches, her bones creak, she works so hard.
‘I’m pushing towards 60, you know.’
Of course we know Debbie, you’ve been telling us for three months . . .
Perhaps she should be talking about the classes she went to led by Nureyev, or the seminars hosted by Fonteyn or the private lessons she had with Pedros Acosta as a young Carlos sat in a corner doing some colouring in?
One thing that was noticeable about her Fox Trot though, apart from a side to side section that lasted a full thirty seconds, punished when someone unleashed a giant shredder all over the dance floor, was the size of the strides that he took to make the dance look good. His steps were small, her stride is short. Not a great match. Surprised we haven’t noticed that before.
Did you know that Joe is the first Scot to reach the semi-final of Strictly and ergo, by his presence next week, the same can be applied for the Grand Final? Now, no gags about the only Scot being in the final of an event being the referee but when you look at his other compatriots you can see that Joe really hasn’t had a lot of competition. Here’s a few. Kenny Logan, Gaby’s hubby. Rory Bremner, cousin of Billy. Julien MacDonald, Malcolm’s half-brother. Judy Murray, maker of Mintos. Kirsty Gallagher, the girl who sang the duets, ‘I Wanna Stay With You’ and ‘Breakaway’ with Sandy Lyle. Between them, the Scots, they would have scored more points playing Scrabble completing the word pivot.
Joe is in the final on merit; he has shown desire and love and application, and his super-smart partner has exploited his talents. They danced a Fox Trot Smooth to that Sinatra classic ‘Have You Met Miss Sokolova’, a song older than me, and the routine was full of pizazz, beautiful timing, an annoying raise of the eyebrow to the camera and a fabulous finishing lift that can only be achieved if the lady raises her leg over the gent’s head. They pulled it off with panache.
In contrast their Argentine Tango was a dimmed light bulb. It began with Joe practicing in the mirror, something that we’ve all done haven’t we? One of my brothers used to rehearse snogging in the same way. Perm one from three. Thereafter it was the Katya show. Her lifts. Her flicks. Her kicks. At one stage Joe stumbled following a standing turn but was redeemed at the close when Katya pulled him from the floor, not sure why he was there, his super strong core raising his head and torso in the sit up of all sit ups. It was spectacular but really was the paper over significant cracks. Poor song, poor Tango, poor myopic audience. They loved it. Maybe two dances in a week was too tuff an ask?
The pair of novice girls have been battling each other in a major and minor way now since September. Both young, both hot, one from Surbiton the other from downtown Bury, their paths have been on parallels eons apart but there they both are on the biggest show on the telly and the cupple also star in Women’s Health Magazine, Gemma talking about training and diet and Mollie talking about . . . training and diet. Between them they chat about oats and protein, smoothies and burpees, donkey kicks and bananas. ‘You can’t outrun a bad diet’, said Gemma on her webcast. ‘I visualise Britney Spears singing “I’m a Slave 4 U”’, added Mollie.
Visualisation is a powerful tool in all performance be that on the sports field, in the boardroom or on the dance floor. Picture yourself on the podium and the physiology changes. See yourself doing the lap of honour and feel the blood warm to boiling. Imagine the movie of the perfect exposé of your art. With you in it.
Gemma had the task of dancing a Rumba and the Tango, straight legs to bent legs, desire to drama, gentleness to drive, and she managed it well though how she could add lust when dancing with a sibling takes a very vivid imagination. ‘He’s like my bro’,’ she said and as she’s not from the Forest of Dean or Norwich the dance remained correct, nicely placed but not natural or fired by the loins.
The Tango was a genuine test for Gemma especially when the band struck up ‘My Sharona’ a hotch potch of a power pop anthem from yesteryear, a blended Tango classic full of a handful of ‘Gimme Some Lovin’’, a shake of ‘Going to a Go-Go’ and a squeeze of ‘M-M-M-M-M-M-M-My Generation’. Ali-Ash joined the recruiting drive happily telling us in clipped Slovenian that she had never taken ‘not one single dance step’. It’s true and his pitch is acceptable because the GBP need to remember that and to value her application, sometimes how unnatural dancing is, and how you can overcome negative internal messages. Looking at the mirror in training Gemma pointed at herself and repeated over and over, ‘You’ve got The Knack!’ Of that there is no doubt.
One wonders therefore what film Mollie was running in her head as her Samba exploded on to the dance floor like a fallen soufflé. Maybe she remembered back to the days of her childhood, hiding behind the sofa as Dr Who fought off the bad guys? Because that is where we were wincing with every bounce or step that lacked it. ‘More bounce in the palm trees’, offered one juddge. Ouch.
She was redeemed with a sumptuous Waltz, great frock, great tail suit, him not her, simple yet beautiful choreography, where nerves nearly threatened to derail her whole night but this, her swansong, garnered her highest score of the series, a lofty 32, a fine way to exit.
There were ominous signs for Algernon Jethro though.
When a girl and a guy move in together, once the mini rules are established, the girl sets about improving him, his wardrobe, his hair, his dental hygiene and she starts adding subtle touches to the house, pastel cushions, flowers, softer lighting, air spray and candles.
Candles, that female phenomena. Blokes use them for birthdays and power cuts. Girls have them in the lounge, the dining room, the lobby, the office, the bedroom and the bathroom, big ones, little ones, coloured ones, scented ones, like the apse in a cathedral. There, on the stage behind them when they danced, as the iconic song ‘Angel’ gladly flooded our ears, over fifty candles lit up the stage, some a foot high, some eighteen inches, it bodes not well for the young fella from Stoke. His card is clearly marked.
We all waited for that first public kiss. Would it come at the end of the Waltz, after the dance off, as they both gushed in tribute or during the last dance? Surely she would grab her ‘hero’ and let him kiss away her tears and pain? Apparently not. Oh, well. Perhaps they were too busy thinking about moving the furniture in his dressing room after the show. At least that’s what it sounded like.
So Mollie leaves us with a final of four, two pros, two beginners, and she can bask in a great journey and in the knowledge that she was the one that beat Aston in a dance off. They can stick that photo on the mantelpiece in the lounge of their new house. Me, I’m off to put on my Speedos.
December 14th 2017