Posted on October 19, 2010
Week 3 of “Strictly” equals The Week To Panic, according to the opening VT, after the SHOCK of seeing someone eliminated last week (was this unexpected?). “They’ve realised this dancing malarkey is difficult,” says Tess solemnly. Cue montage of STRESSING OUT.
Tess, dressed in a rather voluminous red Grecian gown, continued her dramatic theme in her introduction. “I can hear their little heartbeats backstage,” she sighed. (Ears like a bat, clearly.) “Which one will be broken?”
The big news of the week is that Tina has chicken pox and is unable to compete, so she’s allowed to go straight through to the next round. And so it was onto our first couple, who are fit in all senses of the word…
Kara and Artem – Quickstep into the future
Song: “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”, Jet
Judges’ comments: Alesha stated the blinding obvious by saying it’s never easy coming out first, but liked the modern interpretation. Bruno critiqued with a Fosse-esque finger waggle and pointed out Kara’s early mistake, uneven arm placement and slight posture problem. Craig, amusingly, called Bruno “picky, picky, picky” and congratulated Kara for managing a cartwheel in heels – “I’ve done that myself, darling.” (I’ve YouTubed for this, but no luck.)
Judges’ scores: 8, 8, 8, 7 – 31
Another week, another great outfit for this pair – Kara accessorising with a tie and several tubs of glitter emptied onto her shoulders, Artem managing to make braces and Simon Cowell-height trousers sexy. They are a match made in heaven, according to their training footage – she can’t stop giggling, he finds her giggling irresistible. But they also have walkouts and DRAMA. It’s a producer’s dream. After a few sticky moments during their opening on the mezzanine level, Kara wowed with a jump off the stage, fantastic Charleston and a cartwheel. (In your face, gymnast Matt!) A cool, modern quickstep showcasing great movement and musicality, with a few topline issues that will hopefully be sorted over the coming weeks.
Overall: Still strong contenders for the glitterball.
Felicity and Vincent – So bendy Boris Johnson might scrap her
Song: “True Colours”, Cyndi Lauper
Judges’ comments: Len said the hip action, chemistry, flexibility were all there and called it her best dance. Bruno squawked, “I didn’t know you could be so beeeeendy!” – but told her to watch her transitions. Craig thought the forward and back basic was very good, called her split in second “a-maz-ing”, but was less thrilled with her “funky” arms and stiff neck and ronde.
Judges’ scores: 7, 7, 8, 7 – 29
Felicity looked wonderfully glamorous in her LBD and vampy red lipstick, thankfully drawing attention away from Vincent’s Saturday Night Fever white trousers. The Italian stallion was as modest as ever during their rumba training: “You have no idea how lucky this woman is to be dancing with me. I don’t know if she can handle it.” Felicity handled the dance very well, on the whole, showing extraordinary flexibility during her endless back bends and splits. Better hip action than her cha cha cha, although still a bit stately. Not wild about the OTT rainbow graphic that popped up behind them to coincide with “rainbow” in the song lyrics. Yes, we’re all excited by the possibilities of the new studio, but it’s only Week 3. Chill.
Overall: Definite improvement on her last Latin performance.
Patsy and Robin – More ‘man down’ than hoedown
Song: “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”, KT Tunstall
Judges’ comments: Picky, picky Bruno pointed out that Patsy went wrong in the opening and said her footwork was “like a pony at full gallop”. Craig was severely unimpressed by the “yee-ha and hoedownish” choreography and noted Patsy was mainly playing catch-up. Len thought the routine was ambitious, so the quantity of steps was there, but not the quality. Patsy seems to have given up already, giving Tess her exit speech while waiting for her scores.
Judges’ scores: 5, 6, 7, 6 – 24
Apparently, the quickstep is quick. Go figure. Robin is doing very well with his bag-of-nerves partner, trying to build on last week’s confidence breakthrough and sharpen up her technique. I wasn’t wild about the country and western opening, as line-dancing in a ballroom gown just looks odd, even if you do manage to do it in time. The routine was rather too challenging for Patsy, who skipped and stumbled her way through it, but Robin’s right to push her – she needs to up her game if she wants to stay in the competition.
Overall: A step in the right direction.
Paul and Ola – Child’s play
Song: “Take A Bow”, Rihanna
Judges’ comments: Craig thought the armography was blocky and wooden, the spin turn infantile and that Paul spent most of the time ogling Ola. (Len: “I was a bit the same!” Paul: “I was very good, Len”). Len said parts were magical, parts were comical, parts were diabolical, but the whole thing was entertaining. Bruno cruelly but accurately mimicked Paul’s hip action and said there was “no flow, nothing flew” – flowed, Bruno, flowed. Paul berated Ola for making him do something funny in the routine. Give her a break, Paul. She hasn’t got much to work with.
Judges’ scores: 2, 5, 5, 4 – 16
Ola has had enough. She’s desperately hoping to go out this week. We know this because she made no attempt to distract from her cringe-worthy rumba partner. On the contrary – she wore an entire dress. Paul, adorably, is “doing his homework”, dancing round the living room with his laptop (which has considerably better hip action). His woeful, static performance confirmed that he’s gone as far as he can.
Overall: Come in, Mr Daniels. Your time is up.
Matt and Aliona – Under pressure
Song: “Dreaming of You”, The Coral
Judges’ comments: Alesha told Matt that she knows he’s feeling the pressure, but that’s what happens when you’re the frontrunner. She thought he was struggling with the fast-paced routine. Bruno disagreed, saying it was beautifully complicated choreography done very well, as did Craig, saying Matt kept up brilliantly, adding that he should point his feet when he does kicks. Len, rather boringly, thought it was too full-on and that the floor spin was unnecessary.
Judges’ scores: 8, 7, 8, 8 – 31 (Same score every week so far!)
From tragic to magic. High expectations for Matt, and he worries that this will be the week he struggles, as his brain can’t keep up with the quickstep. Aliona is having none of it. Their routine was definitely on the manic side, but when you have a partner with this much natural talent, why not push them? Having said that, it would be nice to see her concentrate on his technique rather than tricks sometimes, as this boy could be a seriously impressive ballroom dancer by the end of the series.
Overall: Another great performance from the boy wonder – can’t wait for more.
Gavin and Katya – Stiff as a floorboard
Song: “Always on My Mind”, Elvis Presley
Judges’ comments: Len said that rumba is difficult for big guys to do, as you want to be macho rather than “airy fairy”, but thought Gavin’s performance was “more like walking than dancing”. Alesha said it was a big improvement but told him to “give Katya more”, adding: “Your bum looks great in those trousers.” That’s why we need judges – for their expert dance critiques. Gavin drives Bruno crazy, because he’s got it but won’t flaunt it, while Craig deliciously stated that his floorboards at home have more movement than that and called it “emotionless, cold, vacuous”.
Judges’ scores: 3, 6, 7, 6 – 22. Gavin was insulted by the 3: “Some of those tricks I did were quite hard, you know!”
The “rugby Romeo”, according to Tess, looked very uncomfortable in training. Katya is bullying him to show emotion, but he doesn’t seem familiar with the concept of acting, stating that he could get interested in her if she was single. His performance was mainly stiff and awkward, with Katya doing a lot of the work. Some nice lines and glimpses of hip action, but very self-conscious. Also, his plastered-down hair made him look like a Playmobil man.
Overall: Latin and Gavin are still an unhappy combination.
Tina and Jared
We were given a glimpse of their training footage before Tina started running a fever. Was their rumba TOO HOT TO HANDLE? Jared is sad because is family have flown over from the States to see them perform. Let’s hope they can see the couple in action next week.
Scott and Natalie – The evolution of Scott
Song: “I Wanna Be Like You”, Louis Prima
Judges’ comments: “Scotttt-T!” gasped Bruno. “That was an action-packed adventure of a quickstep!” He loved the combination of storytelling and technique. Craig was delighted to see swing and sway and feels relaxed when Scott takes to the floor. Len kept it short and sweet: “You’re very close to being a very good dancer.”
Judges’ scores: 8, 8, 9, 9 – 34 (Highest so far this series)
Scott was on a high from last week’s jive, but “You’re only as good as your last performance,” warns Natalie. That girl is shaping up to be one of the best “Strictly” pros, giving both Ricky last year and now Scott a strong technical grounding and imaginative, exciting, crowd-and-judges-pleasing routines. We started with ape-like Scott yawning on the back stairs before launching into fantastic quickstep, with a great variation of steps, light and precise footwork and flowing movement around the floor. And, of course, a shout-out to the costume department for the magnificent animal-print dress and tie.
Overall: The new couple to watch.
Michelle and Brendan – Lose the sulking
Song: “Wicked Game”, Chris Isaak
Judges’ comments: Alesha liked the storytelling and chemistry and would like to see more strength in her legs – “But you know what, girl, well done.” Innit. Bruno said it was well played, her turns had improved, good lines and extensions, and suggested working on leg placement and strength. Len recommended Michelle try a slightly shorter heel to help with her balance.
Judges’ scores: 4, 6, 7, 7 – 24
Michelle is sad. The judges are picking on her, and it’s not fair. She’s giving it her best! Brendan is in full-on supportive mode, trying to pick her back up, but seems to share her sentiment that they’re getting a raw deal. I’m not sure I can agree. Yes, we all expected great things from the Destiny’s Child star, but the judges are marking on what they see – some nice lines, lots of determined effort, but awkwardness in her coltish steps and uncontrolled long limbs. And going into a sulk won’t endear them to the public.
Overall: Solid performance marred by major attitude.
Peter and Erin – Fighting spirit
Song: “Lullaby of Broadway”, Ella Fitzgerald
Judges’ comments: Bruno said he’d definitely improved but needed more confidence, and noted that Erin was leading him sometimes. Craig praised Erin for drilling him, but agreed that his leading was tentative. Len called it a proper quickstep with nice hold and posture, and added that if Peter ended up in the bottom two, “I’ll show my bum in Tesco.” Must be the best voting incentive we’ve seen in eight series.
Judges’ scores: 6, 7, 7, 6 – 26
Peter is responding to being in the bottom two with fighting spirit and determination (Take note, Michelle), and he knows he’s got the backing of football fans. Erin gave him a no-frills routine, quickly into hold, with a nice mix of basics and slightly more ambitious choreography. Peter did well with the pace of the quickstep, showing his fast football footwork, and is far more comfortable in hold than he was last week. Unfortunately, his gelled hair reminded me unpleasantly of There’s Something About Mary.
Overall: Working hard and getting better. Well played, Shilton.
Jimi and Flavia – Frankie says relax
Song: “Ain’t No Sunshine”, Bill Withers
Judges’ comments: Len didn’t know what to make of it: “There are parts I like, but your arms suddenly went cranky, you have neat feet but your legs go soft.” Alesha said it was sometimes a bit awkward, but praised him for really trying to get the hip action and said their chemistry was believable. Bruno snorted that it was neurotic, not erotic. Jimi was trying so hard that it became jagged.
Judges’ scores: 6, 7, 6, 6 – 25
This year’s Most Enthusiastic Contestant just can’t get enough of the show – he was thrilled to do well in his foxtrot, loves exchanging banter with his fellow celebs, and even covered over bruised tendons in his foot with a Pollyanna smile. His performance was strong and confident, well acted and showed his commitment, but he’s pushing too hard in places, distorting his hip action and pulling us out of the story of the dance. Great use of accents again – Flavia making the most of Jimi’s musicality. Top marks for bling in Flavia’s dress and Jimi’s shirt and trouser stripes.
Overall: A bit too enthusiastic, but still great entertainment.
Ann and Anton – The new Fred and Ginger?
Song: “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, Harry Richman
Judges’ comments: Bruno said the “red menace” was driven through it by Anton, but at least it looked like a quickstep. Craig sighed that she managed to turn a red feather boa into a dishcloth, and her list of failings included her free arm, not spotting, timing nightmare and it looked like she were chasing him, but “you did at least dance”. “And it was better than the salsa?” she probed. When he agreed, she teased: “Wait till you see what we’ve got next week. Even I’m surprised by it.” Alesha observed that there were so many more steps in it than the previous routine. “That wouldn’t be difficult,” snorted Ann.
Judges’ scores: 3, 5, 5, 5 – 18 “19 next week,” predicted Ann.
The announcement of this couple drew the night’s biggest cheer from the crowd. Ann revealed that they’d missed out an entire section of their salsa, but they’d done what any politician in a deep muddle would do – spin. Anton mused that dancing with Ann is like being in control of a runaway train, and moaned to her that if he doesn’t lead, he’s just a bloke in an expensive suit. “Could be worse,” she retorted. “You could be a bloke in a cheap suit.” They began in Fred and Ginger attire, but Ann quickly discarded her feather boa in disgust. Some semblance of quickstep while in hold, amazingly, although their height difference is still a major distraction, particularly when Ann puts her head down like a bull charging. Loved the Titanic pose at the end.
Overall: Once again, the most entertaining routine of the night.
Pamela and James – Leader of the pack
Song: “Make You Feel My Love”, Bob Dylan
Judges’ comments: Craig called it “fab-u-lous”, and Len agreed, praising their technique, chemistry, musicality and air of romance, but yet again felt the addition of a spin was unnecessary. Alesha thought it was “so romantic” and was genuinely touched, telling Pamela, “You were born to dance.” Bruno summarised it best: “What you did is what very few people manage to do – you sang with your body. It was completely satisfying at every level, emotionally and technically.”
Judges’ scores: 9, 8, 9, 9 – 35 (New highest score of the series)
Claudia has been replaying the wonderful clip of Pamela’s near-fall and brilliant recovery in her salsa again and again on “It Takes Two”, and she’s not the only one – James has been taunting his partner with it all week (what a gent). Feisty Pamela is a match for him, though – she hopes she can stay on the show so she can keep learning these beautiful dances, but mainly so she can shut James up. Her performance was exquisite, from the beautiful lyrical opening through to the ambitious airplane spin at the end, via advanced technique, lovely lines, neat turns and a wonderful feeling for the dance.
Overall: A masterclass in rumba.
Interestingly, Tess took the time to point out who was in the middle and remind us that’s a dangerous spot. Is this a way of guarding against us eliminating the wrong people now the public are on their own, without the safety net of a dance-off?
We opened with a fun, stylish “Happy Feet” pro demo of the dance that won Chris Hollins the title last year – the Charleston (sadly, without the swimming move). Tess then debuted her LBD with a spider’s web of diamante and bling shoulders pads, which made her look like a futuristic Joan Collins. She handed over to a red-lace-clad Claudia (improvement on last week, but matching Ann), who introduced us to a more interesting recap that included the judges’ thoughts on each contestant:
Kara: Alesha wants her to wow her more
Felicity: Len wants her to break out of her shell
Patsy: Craig wants her to get over her negativity
Paul: Alesha says he did the worst dance and deserves to be at the bottom
Matt: Craig tells Len he’s stuck in the past if he can’t enjoy the floor spin
Gavin: Len sums him up in two (well, one, hyphenated) words: self-conscious
Scott: Bruno is still panting over him
Michelle: Len is disappointed in her. She is feeling “mixed emotions”
Peter: He’s over the moon to get 7s
Jimi: Len thinks he’s trying too hard
Ann: Craig thinks 3 will be his limit
Pamela: Len calls her “the irresistible force”
Our head judge also says there are five or six potential winners (I’m guessing Pamela, Matt, Scott, Kara, Jimi, maybe Patsy?)
Tess announced the first safe couples: Ann and Anton, Pamela and James, Peter and Erin, Patsy and Robin (again, fantastic shocked reaction from Patsy), and then it was time for the Flavia-choreographed Tango Unleashed – come on! The tango temptress, clad in strips of cut-up tights, launched into a bondage-style routine to Beyoncé’s “Sweet Dreams”, with four of the pro boys manipulating her with bits of material and throwing her from one to the other. Highlights included James Jordan doing the Mark Ramprakash showdance straight pressage lift and the hot threesome section.
More safe couples announced: Jimi and Flavia, Matt and Aliona and Kara and Artem, with Paul and Ola landing in bottom two (expected). Paul rather sweetly agreed with the decision, saying that he was the most qualified to go home and would rather he went than anyone else.
“Strictly” then declared itself Team Peter by introducing the star musical guest: Peter Andre! (Not quite Take That, is it?) Andre did a “Fight For This Love” in his military-styled “Defender”, showcasing his “new urban sound”. Hmm. Loved the camp soldier formation backing dancers – like a fey version of the North Korean army. Andre said during the week that the number had a really complicated dance routine, so it would be great to debut it in front of professional dancers. Not sure our pros would have been too impressed with the paint-by-numbers hip hop.
The final lot of safe couples were announced: Scott and Natalie, Felicity and Vincent and Gavin and Katya, leaving Michelle and Brendan in the bottom two (both looked mightily pissed off). Brief VT of Paul and Michelle explaining why they didn’t want to leave the show, and then it was The Moment of Truth. Paul was eliminated – right decision, but to his credit, he left with very good grace, and he seemed to enjoy his last dance (to “Magic Moments”, genius! Why didn’t they foxtrot to it?). Claudia persuaded Tess to do a jig and looked properly ecstatic about it. Bless. They’re still not gelling, and it doesn’t help that they’re kept physically apart, but it’s a joy to have Claudia’s brand of crazy livening up the otherwise tedious results show.
Join us next week for the tango or the Charleston. In the meantime…keep dancing!