I bow to no-one in my love of the BBC, but their copywriting stinks. Cop an eyeful of this drivel:
“Want to see an Olympian practicing witchcraft, or a TV presenter playing an evil shopkeeper? How about a couple of comic book villains giving us a chilling Charleston, or a Lady Gaga song turned into an eye-popping Paso Doble? Of course you do. So grab a toilet roll, do yourself up like a mummy, and get into the spooky spirit.”
Grab a toilet roll? God’s sake. Hey Beeb, give me a ring. I’m way better than the dudes you employ who churn out this deathless prose.
Anyway, to the dancers. Halloween night is usually a florid rat’s nest of ludicrous props and holy-crap-the-kids-have-found-my-all-my-lipsticks face paint, as pros and slebs alike camp it up more than a Carry On film directed by Liberace. This year’s stuck fairly close to tradition.
For anyone missing, or at least recently discharged from hospital after playing, Bake Off Bingo, there’s always Strictly Halloween Bingo to keep you warm/ease you into an alcoholic coma. Neck a double everytime:
- Someone (and when I say someone, I mean Tess or Len) says “spooktacular”
- Ditto “frighteningly talented”
- Ditto “scarily bad”
- Len smugly delivering the line “there woz plenny of tricks anna few treats” or variations thereon
- Craig referring to Ed Balls as “a horror show” or variations thereon
- Len telling us all that the Rumba is hard for a man
- Anastacia pretending to be pleased Brendan is back
- Tess wearing an appalling dress. Oh hang on, that’s every week.
In a case of supreme bad taste, the opening group number was to “You Spin Me Round”, a hit for the recently deceased Pete Burns. The Beeb rushed out a statement blithering on about it being a tribute, instead of admitting they hadn’t had time to choreograph and rehearse anything else. Tess and Claudia appeared, Claudia in her usual flapper-meets-shapeless-sack affair and Tess wearing her nan’s bra and net curtains she’d dyed black for the occasion.
First up, Louise Redknapp and Kevin Clifton, dressed as Suicide Squad Lite, dancing the Charleston to the ill-advised Emeli Sande version of ‘Crazy In Love’, one of the worst songs ever recorded. I thought it was dull, but the judges loved it. Maybe I need new glasses. Maybe THEY need new glasses.
Judge Rinder and Oksana gave us their Paso Doble to Gaga’s Born This Way. He was a moth, she was a butterfly and it was tremendous fun. Their gapping would have allowed a small mini-van to drive between them, but there was bags of theatrical energy and I loved it. Even Craig liked it. Rinder looked delighted and squeaked with pleasure. I’d rather watch him than tailor’s dummy Danny Mac any day of the week, but each to their own.
Claudia Fragapane and her partner AJ, who is taking part in this competition to pass the time until he’s allowed into big school, gave us their American Smooth. It’s difficult for tiny people to pull off elegance, not least because when in hold, teeny Claudia looked like a baby mammal clinging to her mother rather than a sophisticated foxtrotting dancer, but again, the judges loved it.
Oh God, giant ego Brendan and Anastacia in one of the unfunniest VTs of the series. “Aal this bat training has got me burble burble burble Aa hope Aa wone bee wingin it” she drawled. At least she had the grace to look embarrassed. They danced a flat-footed Jive to ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ by Meat Loaf. Darcy wiffled on about confidence and failed to mention Anastacia’s kicks and flicks had all the sharpness and energetic action of an elderly bear wearing Ugg boots.
Danny (tailor’s dummy but very accomplished dancer) and Oti (fabulous) danced the Foxtrot to ‘Take Me To Church’ by Hozier. An interesting choice of music for a pagan festival. Their VT was one of the worst-acted in the entire history of Strictly, ever. How is this man a paid actor? Sorry, what’s that? Oh. He’s in Hollyoaks. That explains it. Danny messed up but he’ll still make the final. He won’t win though. Ore will.
Laura and the sweating Italian Giovanni danced the Tango to The Rolling Stones “Paint It Black.” They were all kinds of wonderful; sexy, passionate, snapping heads – a real tango, in other words.
Ore and Joanne danced the Charleston to the Bow Wow Wow version of ‘I Want Candy’. Now this was a routine about Halloween I could get on board with, that is, one that was all about stuffing your face with sweets. It was utterly bonkers, tremendous fun and incredibly fast but unfortunately he missed a lift, there was hardly any swivel and he got out of sync for a couple of seconds. But hey, it just wasn’t his dance. And imagine how dull it would be if he was brilliant every week. I am, in case you were unsure, a huge Ore fan.
Greg Rutherford danced a rumba to ‘Bring Me To Life’ by Evanescence. Natalie, a woman who has always resembled a robot until her partnership with the Olympic gold medallist, gave it her not inconsiderable all. Greg did a lot of “acting” and the choreography was fast, faster than most rumbas, possibly to cover up the fact that the rumba content was almost non-existent, Greg’s hips needing a couple of cans of WD40 to get them moving even a centimetre. It was all performance and zero technique, a critique which reminded at least one viewer of an ex-boyfriend. Darcy sympathetically told Greg that “rumba is hard for a man”. DRINK, EVERYONE.
Daisy and Aljaz danced the Paso Doble to Santa Esmeralda version of ‘Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’, that well-known Halloween anthem (me neither). She wore a fantastic dress (I care about these things, shut up), the Day of the Dead make up on both was outstanding and they danced a Flamenco-based Paso that was truly exciting to watch.
Finally, Ed Balls (Ed Balls). Hurrah! Craig has awarded him two points each time for the past three weeks, and I felt worried that his Cha Cha would bring a new low with only one point. Latin is not Ed’s friend. But they danced (minced would be more accurate) to the Hansel Martinez version of ‘Love Potion No. 9’ and bloody hell, it was great! Not in a dancing sort of way, you understand, I’m not mad. “I absolutely loved that,” said Darcy, puzzled. “There was actually quite a lot of cha cha.” She looked as though she needed a lie-down and a Valium. Len, of course, was keen to impart his not at all scripted wisdom. “It wozzunt soopa, and it wozzunt natrell, but it issya best darnse.” Craig awarded him a four and laughed like a loon, Bruno lost his head and gave him a eight, and the nation ran round its sitting rooms in delight. Nobody can quite understand the Ed phenomenon, but if I might be allowed to put forward my two penn’orth worth, these reality competitions are now crammed with people who have stage/performance/acting creds, if not dancing ones, and total novices like Ed are rarer and rarer. Which is why we take them to our hearts.
OMIGOD Ed wasn’t bottom of the leaderboard, either. That humiliation was occupied by Brendan and Anastacia, who have surely outstayed their welcome.
Next week, everyone quacking on about how badly they want to go to Blackpool. Which we all know is absolute rot.