Strictly 2018 Series 16 – Week 7

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We are hearing this a lot, aren’t we?

‘He’s worked so hard.’

‘She’s put the hours in.’

‘We did a fourteen hour day.’

‘It wasn’t right so we practised, and practised, and practised.’

All going well.

And then someone adds . . .’because he/she has worked so hard . . . he/she really deserves it.’

Of course it is a forlorn theory. Most folks I know work their socks off. They have to, to survive. They don’t do it to deserve anything else and it is no guarantee. And if everyone was so successful because they worked hard and deserved their lot what sort of a place would the planet be? All the woes and fragility of the human race resolved in one double shift.

There is no denying that hard work is necessary but not because of future merit and justification. The two key factors to success in business (and many other walks of life), according to the clinical psychology stats, are hard work and intelligence. You can add focus and luck to that. Luck plays a huge part in life, we all know that.

Where would the Arabians be had their race not settled on a part of the earth infiltrated with black gold?

You wouldn’t fancy living in Bangladesh when climate change and raised sea levels really start to hit the Sub Continent. They will be looking for an ark or two.

Add to that, though, admittedly not the same relevance, the list of celebs given to Anthony Smith of Bristol over the years. Had he been more fortunate he may well have been awarded someone with real calibre, just once, someone with a genuine chance of winning . . .

Which, at the moment, looks like a lady, one of the two pros or our very own Nancy from Oliver . . . Stacey. There is no truth in the rumour that her mum and dad formed a pop group in the seventies even though she is clearly one of the chosen few.

Stacey brings exuberance to the show, sheer, pure exuberance, a love of the art that is infectious and a contagious joy; she is great to watch. Dancing Street Commercial, a sort of slow motion Charleston with attitude, there was a spark of romance in the air as Bryant Park, New York, hosted this love in, the love is for the dance, not each other, obvs, KFG’s not ready for more wedding cake yet . . . There was a feel of La La Land to this performance though there was a happy ending, hidden faces behind a hat. One wonders whether La La would have won the Oscar had the conclusion not been such a kick in the pants. One also wonders why Stacey was kitted out in trousers that were like a punk rock PVC bin bag.

Scoring over 30 points for five consecutive weeks, 36 for her Street, the zenith to date, is pushing Stacey towards Ashley and Faye though she has yet to trouble the ten paddle. Ashley has six already and Faye five . . .

A text message from Juddge Sparksy alerted me to Ashley’s fabulous Fox Trot (39) where, in a tribute to the late, great Sir Brucie, a bench, a lamppost, a flower and two rolls of turf all appeared on the conveyor belt this week, along with a dapper gent and two curvy cartoon characters, Betty Boo and Jessica Rabbit. With such a beautiful pastiche, and with a sumptuous delivery, with the greatest of musical accents and intonations, there wasn’t one proper heel turn from Dec’s ex. There was one chance but no real raise of the toes. So not a ten then.

In a vamp’s outfit left over from last week, either that or acquired on a trip to the red light district of Amsterdam, Faye (38) suffered a technical paralysis from the juddgies in a harsh critique of a brilliant Ballroom Tango. To begin there was an Argentine section in The Cube, left over at the studio by ITV, and then the hunger and cravings began, tight, breathless and passion crazed, as close to a quickie as you’ll get, all over in a minute and a half. Fabulous. To return the pickiness to the panel, why does Dame Darcey use the word ‘ronde’ (rond) when the rest of the world uses ‘rondé’ (ronday)? Not sure.

Maybe she’s missing a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi . . . ‘

No idea what that is.

Lauren has turned a corner now. Funny what one good Paso can do for the soul and this continued into her tomboy Jive, 31, her best yet, set in a skater park, the song ‘Girlfriend’ by Canadian punk popster Avril Lavigne rather than the more apt ‘Sk8ter Boi’ (‘Skater Boy’ to you and I) from the same artist. As a super fit world champ the pace was a walk in the (skater) park for Lauren, flicks, kicks, a leapfrog from Aramis Jake, knee socks in black and white hoops, sneakers that were trendy forty years ago and a check skirt proudly supporting the Bay City Rollers. As Lauren went out on the town later with the rest of the show’s cast Aubergine Jamiroquai sneaked back into the studio with his elbow pads, helmet and skate board to continue playing.

We were told a few times that Ali-Ash has never done an Argentine Tango since his arrival on the show in 2013. With his debut, in an off putting skinny purple and black outfit, for the first time in an eon, we were treated to a majestic composition of music, the ‘Assassin’s Tango’ from the prolific John Powell (Antz, Chicken Run, Shrek, Ice Age, Happy Feet and more), violin based, delivered by the brilliant Millie Ashton. It is evocative, atmospheric, powerful, threatening, contextual. As a beginner Kate played her part well in this most demanding of disciplines. A portal to paradise.

A few years ago a friend told me how he used the Tango to entice a girl, in a non-Weinstein sort of way. He told me that after the private lesson that she was like putty in his hands. The girl, wary of the attack on her senses, refused the return trip to Tango Land and he cleverly replaced it with the Waltz. Such was the impact that they have been dating ever since.

Because the Waltz is really, really, really, the greatest dance of them all. It is the fairy story of choice, the dream, the perfect blend of charm, sophistication, romance, virtue and chivalry. Who doesn’t love a bit of chivalry? You can tell that I like it, can’t you? Following the ugly duckling performance in last week’s Cha, Graeme was due and . . . I have been waiting since August to use this line, and I may not get another chance . . . he turned out to be a very fine Swann indeed. Grace, elegance, not even a minor stutter on his pivots could disguise this Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins not Jeremy Thopre) of a performance. They danced to Englebert’s Last Waltz, something that recently featured at 9:00pm at a function that ended at midnight. This certainly won’t be his.

As another man bites the dust, more in a minute, Joe the Thatcher is carrying the flag for the remaining male conscripts. He should have worn his roofers’ knee pads for protection as he pretended to score at Wembley, both knees burning on the Elstree floor, no corner flag in site. His mission was to sort out the bull in a Paso from Pompeii, actually Reddo dressed like an extra from Cloud Atlas, and he made great shapes as the Wiltshire Warrior rather than the Matalan Matador. All wearing eighties’ guy liner nicked from Depeche Mode. That wasn’t part of the Paso look; that was just Joe on a typical Saturday night. He got three nines even though Reddo did six turns to right in one section and . . . led them all herself.

But Joe’s feet continue to impress. Precise. Sharp. Shiny. Sadly that didn’t continue with the other fellas, Charlie dancing the campest Viennese Waltz seen this side of the Bristol Bear Club (look it up), Danny nearly dying of nerves and Dr Ranj free to go off and do adverts for McLean’s, the finest purveyors of whitening toothpaste in the land. Not that the good doctor’s tushies need shining. That boat has already well and truly sailed. Ping, they hit you when he smiles, readily, often, his demeanour that of a baby lamb mixed with a doe-eyed Labrador puppy. He dances like that too.

One wonders what exactly the juddgies were watching as they complimented Ranjit on his moves from head to toe, a rather large head with a Desperate Dan jaw line, in a damp squib of a Samba that exposed everything, not in a good way. It was the only occasion during the entire show when fireworks were mentioned and used (on November 3rd) but they didn’t translate to the performance. Why would they? The fella’s just a doctor dancing for his daytime reputation and viewers not for medals. As soon as he started Juddge Lulu gave him the emperor’s thumbs down; she is normally a great juddge of character. He was back on the wards within the hour.

When Danny was practicing his Quick Step he got a thumb up from Lauren. Apparently the rehearsals were faultless, the toe-tapping, Charleston flicking, scatter chassé-ing quinquagenarian, was at ease, on a veritable stairway to heaven. But once the music kicked in, Freedom, Pharrell Williams, not George Michael nor Nelson Mandela . . . he once did the Pennine Way did Madiba, it was a long walk . . . Danny got spooked and this was as close to Death in Paradise as it could be. A ten second section on the wrong foot made you feel like making him do it again. Funny thing BMT (Big Match Temperament). It can be taught and learnt. Best get on to it Danny otherwise you will be joining Charlie at the exit door.

He’s not there yet, the big fella, but five scores of 25 and one of 27, to add to his fabulous 36 for his Street dance, don’t make it look good. Like his VW, a highly charitable 28. Uber camp, slow, flat cap, Andy Capp does Venice. Ha, picture Hottie Hauer as Flo, Andy’s wife, in curlers. Not sure anyone other than the producers saw the point of the theme. Might as well have added a Woodbine and a Daily Mirror to add authenticity. In terms of content it was thin, just one reverse Viennese cross throughout. Not one set. Just one step. Perhaps the choreographer is up for an avoidance award?

So there you have it, the map towards the treasure is unfolding in front of our eyes. Can the pros be toppled? Will Stacey give KFG his first win ever in five finals? That would even things up with his little sis. Or will the Swann fly. Or the roofer hit the heights . . . when this old world is getting you down. The bookies favour the Luton Lip. How about you? The hardest working?

Dave Schofield

Bristol

November 9th 2018