Hurrah, it’s Halloween Strictly! Far superior to the pile of donkey poo that is Blackpool, every year, Halloween comes at the precise moment in the competition when there are only two remaining competitors who are rubbish (Ruth and Simon, if anyone’s asking) and everybody else has shed their inhibitions and thus gone completely bonkers in the costume department.
I present the evidence, m’lud.
Hopeless dancer Nancy Dell’Olio in a coffin, anyone?
Peter Andre minus his customary three coats of creosote?
Da da da da da da DAAAA, da da da da DA! On came Tess looking gorgeous (obviously fired her old stylist) and Claudia looking very Claudia, only with black sequins. The judges looked fabulous, with excellent costumes and make-up, especially Shirley as Cruella de Vil. (Side note: one Halloween I dressed up as Cruella and my mate Sean dressed up as Jack Sparrow and we took our be-costumed kids to Pizza Express for supper, assuming all the other adults would be dressed up too. Nope. Not a one. So that was fun and not at all embarrassing.)
On came Johnny (dressed as Jack Sparrow, clearly Sean and I were blazing a trail 15 years ago) and Oti, dancing the cha cha to Ollie Murs. He was dreadful. Really, really dreadful. Stompy, no hip action, didn’t suit him at all. As each judge sought for ways to tell him this without being horrible, he looked more and more despondent, poor chap.
Ruth and Anton. “I can’t believe I’m in Halloween Week,” confessed Ruth. Me neither, love. You can’t dance for (bonfire) toffee. They were quickstepping to the theme tune to Bewitched. In the unfunny VT preceding the dance, Ruth attempted to wiggle her nose like Samantha. She looked like a matronly rabbit sniffing a decaying carrot. Ruth is many things (married to ghastly Eamonn Hughes for example) but cute she isn’t. And alas, she too was rubbish. Clinging to Anton like a barnacle clinging to the bottom of a boat, her dance was heavy, sloppy, full of mistakes and significant timing issues.
Next up, Simon and Karen, dancing the American Smooth. “I saw the light on the night that I pissed by her window,” yelped the Dave Arch singers. Enunciation, darlings. Practise it. Meanwhile Simon was fully embracing the Halloween theme, dancing like a reanimated corpse, several hours after rigor mortis had set in. Where’s a grave digger when you need one? Up in Claudia’s boudoir, Karen protested. “He’s only had eight hours rehearsal time!”
Yay, Gemma Atkinson! I love her and want her to win, not least because as Tess announced portentously in a doom-laden voice: “THE STAKES COULDN’T BE HIGHER” the audio picked up Gemma groaning at the pun.
She and Aljaz jived like a dream. Despite a few mistakes at the beginning, she executed a really complex series of kicks, side by side too which isn’t easy, there was tons of content and she had bags of energy and character. Shirley wasn’t impressed however, the rotter, but Craig, the only judge whose opinion really matters, congratulated her on her performance even though he too pointed out her errors. Poor Gemma looked close to tears at her mistakes, and lovely Claudia told her she was great and not to worry. Claudia is everyone’s goal for a BFF.
Joe and Katya danced a rather lovely foxtrot; elegant, dramatic, full of difficult content, not world-beating of course but terrific nonetheless. Also, isn’t he super likeable? He should be in something like Call the Midwife. Call the Small Scotsman, perhaps. You can have that, BBC 1.
Mollie King and AJ are rumoured to be foxtrotting together outside the rehearsal room (fnarr fnarr), but instead cha cha-ed to Better The Devil You Know (banger of a tune) like the demons as which they were dressed. She rocked her red jumpsuit, swung her tail, waved her trident and was, according to Bruno, “devilishly good”. She won’t win, but come January might land a small presenting job on This Morning, and what more can an ex girl group member expect?
Alex and Gorka danced a frankly flawless tango. What can one say? If she doesn’t win, it’s not because she isn’t the best (she is) it’s because the voting public like an underdog. I find her naked desire to win a little off-putting, but hey, she’s in a fiercely competitive industry anyway, and if you don’t think you’re the best, nobody else will.
Davood and Nadiya, dancing the rhumba. I hate the rhumba. If I wanted to watch people simulate sex I’d find myself some soft core internet porn, but no, we had to endure Davood in an unbuttoned chiffon shirt grope his dancing partner, all in the name of art. “There wasn’t much rhumba basic,” sighed Darcey. “Unfortunately, this was quite difficult on the eye,” said Shirley. “You chose to do lunge, after lunge, after lunge.” Davood drooped. “You provided a wonderful frame,” consoled Bruno, adding, weirdly, “your arms were better.”
I know I’m mean about the slebs on this programme, but actually, I do think it must be really hard for them, rehearsing all week, learning something that is on the whole way, waaaay outside their experience and comfort zone, then performing live in front of an audience, followed by a public humilation as the judges tell them they’re crap. So well done, all of you. Even though I do think some of you are rubbish dancers.
Yay, Susan and Kevin with a Game of Thrones-inspired foxtrot! And it was foxtrotting wonderful. I mean, it wasn’t much of a foxtrot, but so what? Her absolute joy as she dances is infectious, and yes, I know she knows she won’t win, but so what? Shirley took her apart for her lack of grace, which was fair enough. However, Kevin wasn’t having it, retorting: “For a dragon-breathing, Game of Thrones theme, grace wasn’t really what we were going for.” WELL SAID KEVIN. Bruno agreed with Shirley, told her she made a lot of mistakes, Craig said it was complete rot, Darcey burbled about how she could see Susan was “working on her neck.” They got a shockingly bad score, and might find themselves in the dance off, when the dance off should be SIMON AND RUTH AND I REFUSE TO COUNTENANCE ANY OBJECTIONS.
Debbie and Giovanni danced the charleston. She was outstanding. My word but this woman can dance. One clunky lift, admittedly, and almost certainly down to Giovanni not Debbie, but the routine was crammed with complicated content, bags of attitude, miles of top notch swivel and can I remind you all that she is 58 years old. (Let us omit the fact that I thought she was 68 years old and put the wrinkles down to her years of living with Paul Daniels.) Three 10s from the judges, and rightly so.
Aston Merrygold and Janette, bloody hell what a dance. Full of street and hip hop moves to fabulous effect; a crisp, precise solo section that totally updated the paso doble in a way that probably horrified the purists but which I loved. The best dancers are Aston, Alexandra and Debbie, no question. But… will they all make the final and if they do, who the bleedin’ nora will win? Anyhoo. Two 10s from the judges. I’d have said a 10 from each of them, but the pedantic spirit of grandad “stop messin’ abaht” Len lives on.
So, that’s it. Who will get booted off? Simon or Ruth would be my choice. Either, I’m not fussy.