Strictly 2018 Series 16 – Week 4

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As Communication Strategies go I see a pretty neat package.

Create the product and tell people all about it: write it, shout it, read it, smell it, touch it, feel it. And have the added advantage that you are the market leader and that the GBP are already paying for the service anyway. That’s handy.

So splash it all over your own publications, TV, radio, printed and digital media, create an off-shoot, get it on Socials, send out your ambassadors (those who have been voated off), even get it on the other channels, where, to be fair there are still only a few open to one and all. Five I think at the last glance. If you have a telly that is . . .

And then get a shape for the demand and impact, and feel your way towards the headlines.

This is how it looks.

We have the intro, the launch party, the opening week, the first departure, the Movies, the scandal, Halloween, Bonfire Saturday, Hollywood Week, this is like Movie Week but in Technicolor, the injustice of two of the best dancers in the dance off against each other, the first 10, Blackpool, the first 40, the judggies’ spat, an unavailable hostess, a guest juddge (next week), a new dance (also next week), rumours of someone leaving the show (not next week), of someone new arriving, an ailing dancer, the curse (something different from Halloween), the John Sargeant moment, the day the joke act is voated off. It’s all there.

Just by coincidence Bruno is N/A next week – hospital for a procedure to help him sit down – and is replaced by US TV star Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) a former winner of Dancing with the Stars. A bit like having Joe McFadden back. I can hear you all asking . . . he’s the son of the lead singer of the Motown duo McFadden and Whitehead, who sang ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’.

And I’ll tell you what let’s strengthen it all à la X Factor. Bring on the human element, the kids, the schools, the families, the dying sibling, the pining Labrador, the hostage, the prisoner being held against his will at Guantanamera, sorry Gauntanamo, the sob story, the tear jerker, the wilful and flagrant addition of emotion. I’m crying just writing this.

So, to the big story of the week.

There have been clips in the papers, interviews everywhere, videos and soundbites, even discussions in The Senate.

First off it was about a threesome involving Vincent Simone, Flavia Cacace and Russell Grant.

Then there was the illicit snog between Anthony Smith of Bristol and Ann Widdecombe. I am informed that she removed her teeth for the process.

And do you remember Ed Balls playing ‘Great Balls of Fire’ at Blackpool? The dusky film being circulated shows the same music, a bedroom at the Hilton, Ed wearing his Norwich City shirt and a devil’s mask as he thrusts towards a double-sided mirror. The face of his accomplice is obscured.

It’s all go isn’t it?

When a motorbike and sidecar appeared on stage we all thought it was a guest appearance from Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright. Then the Jeff Beck song ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ kicked in. Ah, drunken, raucous Sunday nights in the college bar, I thought. Stacey and KFG then rocked in wearing black and white a tribute to his favourite football team. Okay, the zebra shirts are worn by Newcastle United, St Mirren, Juventus, Notts County and Botafogo (Brazil) – true that – but they are also proudly worn by Grimsby Town.

So as part of Stacey’s worthy bid to clean up the world she was sent to KFG’s home town to investigate drug abuse, a town without industry, a port marooned on the banks of failed fishery policies. She looked for cheap labour, Mariners, slavery, cod and chips and a Fox Trot, and found them all. Yes, even a Fox Trot amidst everything else, even with that music. Whilst grace isn’t a word that is heard much in Grimsby, Stacey topped the Leader Board and showed enough to suggest that she really is in this game.

So too all the other ladies except Katie, that’d be two ringers, a World Champion, an Amnesty Ambassador and a feisty newsreader. Katie has been retired, in horse racing circles, pulled up, as she bottomed out of the game with a Jive, gentle, looking like Doris Day in pastels and pop socks, in fact dancing like Doris. Doris is 96. Katie exited singing Que Sera, with thanks, grace and dignity, back to a world of genuine significance where her real talents are fabulously used.

Katie’s finest moment was her Fox Trot last week and but for her demise there were worries all over the set. Joe’s Cha was to a song called Just Got Paid and his soulless, prescriptive performance was definitely getting money under false pretences. Kate’s Samba, blessed by the rains of Africa rather than Rio, nearly hit a monsoon, Dr Ranj’s over scored Paso made you reach for a cape to hide behind and Charlie Venn (née Venice) is in court this week under the Trade Descriptions Act (2011) accused of dancing Salsa.

Charlie was the victim of diversion theory used, if you remember, by Michael Caine in The Ipcress File. Caine played Harry Palmer, an unlikely spy, and he fell into the wrong hands. Captured and tortured he distracted his mind from revealing the truth by scratching a nail into his hand. Blood, pain and tears.

A bit like watching Charlie. Steps the size of a house, he ripped off his shirt to reveal a white M & S vest, biceps and shoulders to make all four juddgies swoon. And nearly forget their job. Charlie hit the buffers of the dance off again.

When you dance there are some things that put you off and defile the art. A bit like swearing in songs (I really don’t like that), you see people chewing gum, like a cow on the cud, some count the beat, others try and chat to other people on the floor but the most off-putting is your partner singing. Obviously the song being played. In whatever language they know.

But it looks trite. It sounds bad. It feels worse. And it minimises you and the dance. Joe did it in his Cha. And the Great Male Hope, Swanny, did it during his Jive. More teeth and mouth than Shergar. This isn’t The Voice, Graeme. And he also did something a little odd with his right hand too. It’s like an invisible clicking lasso. Bit weird.

The Great Male Hope? Can a man win in a show loaded with such female talent?

In tribute to the new Ryan Gosling film, First Man, about Neil Armstrong – please look him up if you’ve never heard of him, he is quite famous – for some reason Swanny’s Jive began on the moon, silver space suits et al. Then the clothes were ripped off and there he stood, clad in garish pink, like a stick of rock . . . from Northampton, a town famous for shoe makers, Saints, leather, cobblers and Kinky Boots. Not rock.

As the weeks move forward subtlety and connection to the art will be required from Graeme, variety and flight, like a good over of bowling. The mild blatting will have to go. That’s blatting not batting. Spare arm Graeme, when you read this, it is still part of your body. And he needs consistency. Two bad, two good, not quite there yet. This Jive does offer genuine hope, pacy, honest, energised, he now has the bit between his teeth . . .

In our search for perfection it is time also to re-introduce the letter ‘G’ to the Welsh vocabulary, a language also bereft of the letter ‘U’. ‘Fablas’, ‘Amazin’’, ‘Celebratin’’, nearly grate as much as the ill-educated Cockney twang. Sorry Pat. Danny’s Taffy partner may be a beauty, a talent, an amazing mover, indeed she is all three, but she heads the queue for next term at the KK School of Diction and Etymology.

Danny J-J, heads towards December with confidence and the thought of possibility. Can he really compete with the rising Quick Steppers, Vick and Lauren, and the two girl pros, Ashley and Faye?

His Viennese Waltz to a Sammy Davis Jr number (I’ve Gotta’ Be Me) was harshly juddged, it was better than marked and if there was a Veteran’s Category he would romp home. He has grace, timing and pure spirit, much to be admired.

The novice Quick Steppers are also making relentless progress, their journeys more endearing than those already there.

Young Vick stands tall, her light, fluffy frock, non-garish pink, a soft strawberry Angel Delight. Which she is. Fleet of foot, accurate, none more so than when doing the Charleston flicks. Imagine a belt of balloons around your waist and shoes with spikes on the outside. Then flick your leg to burst the balloons.

A minor tip of the hat at this point to Arthur Jermaine Pritchard for the work he has done with Lauren. Without the use of a prosthetic, her not him, he is coping admirably with the sculpture in front of him, so much so that the focus is now clearly on the couple. And isn’t it funny that Joe makes AJ look like a pensioner?

The lady pros are here to stay, of course they are. Faye had the honour of dancing the first Rumba of the series (Why now? Why so few?) and it was highly skilled, legs aplenty and a tad raunchy. Is she single?

Raunchy? Likewise Ashley’s Tango.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. A Ballroom Tango with a smidgen of Argentine? Raunchy? Well, yes. The dance is full of drama, power, simulation, rocks and lunges. If you add in her super high kicks, thrusting, the outfit of a Vamp, the red and black of the brothel, and all that was missing for Ashley was a stage and a pole. You can’t get a good Pole when you need one the most.

Occasionally specialist coaches are brought in to help the celebs and rather than show Seann and Katya alone, no idea why, the Beeb felt it necessary to offer a chaperone for the week, a bit like a gooseberry on a date.

‘Hey, here’s £20, why don’t you fox trot off to the pictures?’

What we rarely see is the choreographer, sometimes the pro, but there is also a great support team behind the scenes and during Seann’s Charleston, set in a pizzeria, both clad in red and white, a manic, courageous and slightly late to finish performance, at one stage Katya placed her foot on the top of his right calf and walked up his back. I should say that whilst most of you are imagining him to be prone, face down, naked, in the comfort of a parlour, oils aplenty, it needs to be said that he was fully clothed and vertical and that she was wearing white daps not high heels. Can’t win them all. She ended standing on his shoulders like in an acrobat in a troop before hopping down to terra firma. Sensational. The single most stunning move of the series to date.

The last word goes to the set designers. My personal thanks to whoever used the apostrophe properly in Papa Seann’s Pizza.

Helped me sleep better.

Dave Schofield


October 19th 2018

P.S. Did you see the Back Street Boys on the results show? Eurgh! More like the Bash Street Kids.

P.P.S. And did you hear Ken Bruce refer to the Head Juddge as ‘Dame Shirley Ballas’ on his Radio 2 show this week? Thanks for reading Ken, you are my favourite.