Strictly 2017 Series 15 – Week 7

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A friend of mine used to be a maintenance man at a hotel. One day he was invited to change the light bulbs in the pool sauna only to be greeted by two stark naked ladies welcoming him into the steam. On the same day he accidentally touched a live wire when mending a plug. Both events were shocking in their own way.

In his youth a colleague spent some time in Krung Thep (Bangkok) savouring the local ales and delicacies. One late night he pulled a hottie and spent a cupple of hours exploring the mysteries of the Far East only to discover that the stunning local girl was in fact a bloke. Somewhat of a surprise and time for a sharp exit.

In a doctors’ surgery waiting room an old lady had a heart attack. The only other person present was a young man who responded by putting on his metaphoric superhero cloak and giving her CPR. The reception staff were in a team meeting.

It wasn’t working out. He massaged her chest. He gave her mouth to mouth. He panicked. ‘Come on lady,’ he thought, ‘don’t go dying on me! Come on!’ Just as he was about to get off his knees in despair two great big arms pulled his body down, the old lady opened her mouth and she French-kissed him for all she was worth, belying her age. I’m not sure if he ever got over it.

Sometimes that happens in life. Against all odds Leicester City won the Premiership in 2015, the US Presidency took an unexpected turn the year after and previously a Shell Oil executive became the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Add to that, now, the exit of Buster’s grandson, Aston, from this year’s jamboree, for whom Week Seven didn’t turn out to be that lucky at all. As soon as his scores came in, and his resultant positioning as second bottom of the Leader Board, it was a possibility. In a dance off against anyone other than Ruthie (bottom) and the posh folks of Peterborough would be biting their nails and watching the screen in worry and disbelief. One of the top three, one of the pros, one of the favourites, ready to be discarded like the used firework wrappers that littered the local war zones in commemoration of our favourite Portuguese mercenary Guido Fawkes at the weekend.

Aston’s Viennese Waltz was set in a barber’s.

Yup, that’s right. A barber’s. Not even an Austrian barber’s.

The song, by Michael Jackson, was equally as wacko.

In the barber’s chair Aston fell asleep and had a dream, a dream where he was dressed to disco, full garb, red pants, kaleidoscopic top, Afro, straight from the streets of Philly or Detroit. Either that or the auditions to join the Four Tops. There was no VW in sight but oh, yes there was, and he and his equally inappropriately dressed partner sauntered uncomfortably around the floor save for the natty dubble turn he did out of hold. Far from being a dream this was a veritable nightmare; no gliding, graceful, romantic swans just ugly ducklings, the blankness on his face exuding either over-concentration or dismissive disdain. How he didn’t want to be there. At the finish he hadn’t even had a much needed shave or a haircut.

Up against Aston was the dance off veteran Mollie, The Saturdays vs. JLS, fresh from her diabolic efforts last week, her Fox Trot with Aramis Jake a vast improvement if not totally convincing. Their dance began on a film set, a dubious venue, Harvey Weinstein in one corner, Kevin Spacey in the other. During the routine Mollie clipped her foot against her partner’s and this rocked the mood and the tempo. It was rectified in the dance off and they deservedly went through. Dame Shirley dealt the hammer blow after a split decision amongst the juddgies offering mixed fortunes in the Skorjanec household. Janette cried for a few days, her chance of success gone forever. Meanwhile, every morning over breakfast, her husband punched the air and smiled polishing the photo of him and Abbey Clancy holding the Glitter Ball Trophy.

To say that the competition is wide open now isn’t exactly true. The other two pros are marking their territory ominously, the lovely Debbie McGee slamming out a 40 for a Tango with no rise and fall stated the Head Juddge, smiling towards the Antipodes, and Alexandra ‘West End’ Burke just a point shy for a scintillating Cha. Both will take some beating in spite of the amateur pack making relentless progress.

In his brief three season tenure on the show Giovanni Pernice has only ever scored one 40 before, a Charleston with Georgia Fay Foote to Hot Honey Rag in 2015. They ended up dating for a while; one wonders if the sparks have already started with his lovely partner? Funnier things have happened. She may have a few decades on him but then again, her husband was the same with her. As for Alexandra, the funky, sassy, queen of dance, on her Christmas list is a fly catcher. This will mean that she will be able to dance next week’s Argentine Tango with her mouth closed.

The Charleston is an actor’s dream. Dressed like toy soldiers – last seen when Pasta did a Rumba with Caroline Flack – Joe and the current Mrs Jones emerged from a cuckoo clock wearing matching white pants and red tunics, both carrying kettle drums like ice cream vendors at the theatre, red spots on each cheek. As the music began there were another twenty soldiers on the dance floor, a troop, drumming in unison. When the dance started they were gone. I hope their fee was bigger than their appearance.

As the routine developed, like an economy friendly light bulb, Joe’s confidence rose accordingly, slowly but surely, bubbling to the surface as the sheer joy conquered all his nerves and fears. His face lit up, ‘wow, this is funn!’ And it was. No one wanted it to end.

Joe’s 36 was one point higher than Darverd and the Steam Team, who, after what can only be described as a six week period of mediocrity, finally joined the party. Thank goodness, a few more weeks for everyone to slather over everyone’s favourite Playboy cover girl. I think even Juddge Aggie is turning.

Dressed in pastel yellows and black, the same colour as my graduation (and the suit still fits), at last the show produced an American Smooth worthy of the description. Both were turned out beautifully, the music ‘This Will Be (an Everlasting Love)’ was up tempo and positive and the performance swept up the emotions like a high quality hoover. We swung, we hovered, we glided and then we saw the power of the man as Darverd launched young Nads vertical and skyward, his hand firmly under her buttocks. Some call it a pressage. Others a bum lift. We marvelled at the strength and were envious of all that practice time. I’d have got it wrong a few hundred times, on purpose.

Susan has played many roles in the series so far and as yet The Krankies haven’t had a mention. Until now. The Krankies are a comedy duo, if you didn’t know, a man and woman, she dresses as a school kid with a cap, and they do pantos, slapstick, stand up and swingers’ parties. Both are now 70 but on an Instagram clip Susan and Kevin from Grimsby mimic Dame Shirley before they go and do their tribute act, to the Krankies.

Well, their Jive was more a homage to the Shake ‘n’ Vac adverts and Brush Strokes as they pretended to paint a wall with rollers. A bit like Meghan Trainor auditioning for DIY SOS. That said, I don’t think Nick Knowles will be calling anytime soon. With limited choreography Susan kept time and maintained the pace throughout but as a dance it was more of a comedy sketch and not the finest of that genre of the evening.

Salsa always proves to be hard work for the celebs . . . and the pros. It takes years to incorporate that innate feel, the heart behind the music, the timing, the accents, the intent and the delivery. It can’t be learnt in a week as both Jonnie and Gemma discovered.

The pros know this and they try and disguise it as best they can hoping to survive and for an easier dance the following week. Oti turned and turned, lunged and tempted, writhed and wriggled. Jonnie stood there, tits out having shaved his chest. If only he’d have done his chin too.

Ali-Ash, on the other hand, had a trickier conundrum, Salsa set in a tiki bar in . . . Honolulu . . . a suburban district of Havana.

Rather than fill the floor with fluid basics, floor craft and great technique, he tried to show off the bodice queen by doing splits, her, not him, lifts, drops and other physical contusions. Gemma is tall, fit and funky. Lifting and parading her was never really on the cards. She has oodles of sex appeal but it remained unused ready for another day. Wincing whilst watching isn’t a lot of fun. Check out Marchant and Davina Birch on t’ Interweb for a masterclass in this medium.

And talking of which. The piece de resistance of the night, the routine that stole the show, the seed sown for a new series of comedy, slapstick and funn that would put most comedians and comics to shame. There are iconic bits of TV that we all remember: Morecambe and Wise Christmas Specials, their breakfast scene, André Prevue, Des O’Connor, the other Dame Shirley and Glenda Jackson. You can add Ruthie and Anthony Smith of Bristol’s Paso to that list, ‘The Shady Dame from Seville’ providing the musical accompaniment. We all know one of those.

Now the first thing to know is that the theme of parody and clowning was totally intentional. The conclusion perhaps wasn’t.

A raven haired stranger presented the matador with a rose; a gift for his beauty waiting at the top of a forlorn staircase. He wore a white torero jacket, black pants with a dominant red sash and a hat, a combination of Zorro, Manuel from Fawlty Towers, Antonio Banderas and Arthur Tolcher (you may have to look him up). Perm two from four.

In search of his girl the matador ascended to find that she was gone. In turn she had descended in search. He was nowhere to be seen.

They found each other in the middle of the dance floor and having offered the flower on one knee they added a few Paso shapes before launching into Samba runs and some pivots. If in doubt, do what your celeb can do. Ruthie then shook her maracas, they stopped and watched as the brilliant Hayley Sanderson hit her high note and then the runs and pivots were at it again. In crescendo the matador laid the bull across his lap only for all balance to go. He fell ingloriously backwards to the floor. The bull, intent on victory, straddled him and went for the three-second count . . . along with a dry hump.

A great way to entertain and to get voats at the same time. Ruthie to win? The greatest shock of them all.

Dave Schofield
November 10th 2017