Strictly – the quarter final

Strictly Come Dancing the quarter final

Musicals Week, hurrah!  But before we embark on our Strictly journey, take a moment to remember the man, the legend, the sheer, er, balls, that is Ed:

In the great steaming pile of shite that is 2016, Ed was a weekly two minutes of joy. Now at something of a loose end since last week’s Strictly ejection, he has said he has no plans to return to his previous life in politics.  Very wise.  Let’s face it, if a tangerine fuck-knuckle can make it all the way to the White House,  the public affairs bar is set way too low for a man of Ed’s talents.

Dress watch: Tess in a split bin bag, Claudia in an Ann Summers’ nightdress.  4/10. Must do better.

The show kicked off with Anton Du Beke yelping an abomninable ditty specially penned by Strictly’s music producer Matt Howes, who should be taken out and shot.  The only distraction from Anton hitting all the wrong notes was his unfeasible, decayed satsuma-coloured hair.  Presumably Anton is mates with Paul McCartney and Silvio Berlusconi, both of whom use the same orange hued dye. Embrace the grey, Anton.  And never sing again.

Once I’d taken my fingers out of my ears, I was able to focus on Ore and Joanne,  who danced the Foxtrot to ‘Pure Imagination’ from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with Ore as Willy Wonka.   It was truly lovely, but I’m afraid I’ve led you astray with my previously stated conviction that he would win the competition.  He won’t.  Hey ho.  This is why I don’t win the Lottery, folks.

Next, Judge Rinder and Oksana, who danced the Samba to ‘Oh! What a Night!’ from Jersey Boys.   I have loved Rinder ever since the moment when, waiting to find out if he was in the dance off, he was caught during one of Tess’s interminable pauses mouthing “Oh COME ON.”  Alas now Ed has gone (obligatory two minutes’ silence) he is the weakest link.    I missed some of Rinder’s dance due to a brief spat with my daughter who objected to my asking her to unglue herself from her iPhone and pour me another Aperol Spritz – what are offspring for, if not to keep one’s drinks topped up?, but what I did see looked fun.  Not good, but certainly fun.

Louise and Kevin danced the Quickstep to ‘The Deadwood Stage’ from Calamity Jane.  Louise’s characterisation was brilliant, although there was far too much out of hold and she messed up the timing. Len, of course, managed to bugger up his bon mot: “Never mind the Deadwood stage, you could be on the, er, um, er, the West End stage!” he burbled, like a grandad at Christmas, unable to get his knock knock joke in the right order.

Claudia and AJ danced the Salsa to ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ from the Lion King.   It was a frantic routine, the teeny twosome bopping like toddlers high on Ribena and Tangfastics at their 12th birthday party.  “Well, that was HIGH ENERGY!” shrieked Darcy, who kindly refrained from mentioning the final lift in which AJ lifted Claudia over his head and wore her like a hat, something I hope never to witness again.

Finally, Danny and Oti danced the Tango to ‘One Night Only’ from the musical Dreamgirls.  Danny was excellent at the start of this series, and is still excellent, although his footwork went awry several times.  He’s too much of a tailor’s dummy for my taste, but there’s no denying the man can dance.  He’ll probably win.

The show finished with a knock-out West Side Story routine from the professionals that mercifully did not include Anton singing.  If only Ed Balls had been in it, it would have been perfect.





Strictly – Blackpool!

Strictly Come Dancing Blackpool

It’s that week.  You know, the one where everyone pretends that they want to go to Blackpool.  They don’t, of course, but part of Strictly’s charm is pretending to like things when you patently don’t.  Ed Balls, for instance.  There must be quite a few contestants who would like Ed to be knocked down by a Blackpool tram, but nobody says so because that’s not the Strictly way.  Not me.  I’m 100% #teamballs.  Er, #teamEd.

Yes Blackpool, the “Vegas of the North”.   People say that. They really do.


Blackpool is usually where the novelty act gets booted out, so this week could be the end of Ed’s Strictly run, but then, in a world where a hamster-crowned kumquat can be voted the leader of the free world, who knows?

Claudia and Tess maintained current hideous dress form, Claudia dressed as a 1960s primary school teacher in navy polyester, Tess in a red confection that probably looked okay until the caretaker’s cat mauled it.

Up first were Claudia and AJ, dancing the Jive to ‘Hey Mickey’ by Toni Basil, a song I hated in 1981 and didn’t sound any better in 2016, as it was murdered by the Dave Arch singers.  In typical AJ style it was fast, probably too fast for Claudia, who went wrong right in front of the judges.  Len was on hand however to provide reassurance, and his customary unfunny word-play.   “Verr woz no takin’ the mickey wiv that darnce!” he yelped.

Peter Kay turned up to read out the terms and conditions and was funnier in his allotted 90 seconds than any other comedian manages in an hour.  Behind him, the dancers giggled wildly and Claudia gave up any attempt at control.

Next up, Ore and Joanne danced the Viennese Waltz to ‘That’s Life’ by Frank Sinatra. I have tipped Ore to win, but I am now going to hedge my bets and say Ore or Ed. (Now Ed will be voted out. I am rubbish at predictions.  This is why I haven’t won the Lottery.)  Their dance was gorgeous, notwithstanding the extra dancers milling around the floor which I find an annoyance, not an enhancement.    There was a fleckerl that went on for a week and a show-stopper of a finish.

Louise and Kevin danced the Paso Doble to ‘Explosive’ by Bond.  Louise has gone from tentative “don’t look at me” to full-on hoofer and it has been a joy to watch.  Their Paso was passionate, dynamic and perfectly choreographed.  Even Craig liked it.  Just as it seemed as though the judging panel might all say something informed and constructive, Len blasted through their measured intelligence like an ice cream van fuelled by amphetamines: “Ar woz blown away on the beach diss mornin’! An’ arm blown away nah!”   Shut up, Len.

Danny Mac and Oti (love her) danced the Charleston to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” by Gregory Porter. He was supposed to be playing a waiter, but was dressed like a circus ringmaster; no matter, it was really, really good.  Her choreography was terrific, a sort of American Smooth Charleston, and although Danny looked a bit knackered in the middle section, there was no denying it was a full on performance.   Craig gave it his first 10 of the series.

Ooh Ed Balls and Katya! They danced the Jive to ‘Great Balls of Fire’ by Jerry Lee Lewis. The Jive is where many dancers trip up (literally) but my worries that Ed’s dancing would be flatter than a platypus nailed to the floor were unfounded.  There were genuine kicks and flicks in his routine.  Of course the judges have now given up attempting to provide any form of critique because he is just fun to watch and the public love him.  His marks were rubbish of course.

Next it was Greg Rutherford and his huge bottom, dancing with Natalie to the Quickstep to ‘Hand Jive’ by Sha Na Na.  Greg looked nervous throughout, skipping round the dance floor like a kangaroo keen to let the townsfolk know that young Barry Dingwall had fallen down a disused well.

Finally, Judge Rinder (now spray tanned to a shade known as Donald Trump Max) and Oksana who danced the Salsa to “Spice up your life” by  – do I really have to tell you?  I LOVED it.  Lots of hip action, and Rinder unable to stop himself singing.   He and Oksana really seem to have struck up a genuine friendship.  Craig, amazingly, loved it.  “Hip-tastic, dahhhling.  I think I’d like to call you Judge Grinder.”   Darcy gave him The Look.


but Craig was unapologetic. Len whinged about piffling detail relating to footwork, but Rinder was too happy to care.

Will this be the week that results in Balls being buried at Blackpool?  I’ve no idea, but clock that alliteration.

Strictly – Halloween!

Strictly Come Dancing Halloween

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.



Strictly Come Dancing – episode two

Strictly Come Dancing Ed Balls

The opening dance was so lovely this week I (almost) cried: children and old people,  waltzing to “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.”  Ain’t that the truth.  Donald Trump, I’m looking at you.  The pro couples joined the dance floor, then the judges were waltzing too, there was a choir, everyone looked absolutely delightful and it was all too nice for words.

Fortunately, normal service was resumed as your writer noted that Tess’s stylist still hates her, and now hates Claudia too, having dressed them both in bath towels, and that Louise Redknapp must have pissed off someone the costume department and they had repaid her by making her look like Shirley Temple in a supermarket overall.  The girl can dance though, her jive was terrific.

Next up was Melvin (no idea) and Janette dancing to that ghastly 11pm wedding reception disco favourite, “Going Loco Down In Acapulco”.   Melvin’s VT contained all of his family.  Too early, Melv.  You’ve got to go on a journey and whip out the relatives around Week Nine.

Daisy Lowe performed the waltz. She was rather good, in a mildly irritating fashion.   Despite it being Week One, Len completely lost his head and gave her nine out of ten.  It’s his last series and he obviously doesn’t care anymore.   By the time we hit Week Eight he’ll be holding up three paddles, shouting “FROM LEN, ELEVENTY TEN!” and Tess will be calling for the nurse to up his medication.  Then it was some chap from Hollyoaks – who knew that was still going, surely nobody watches it? – called Danny Mac, which sounds like a bar of salted caramel.  He danced the Cha Cha with his partner Oti to ‘Cake By the Ocean’ by DNCE.  It was fine, but I was after stronger stuff.  WHERE WAS ED BALLS?

Then it was an actress called Tameke from East Enders – don’t watch it, no idea – who clomped her way through the Paso with Gorka to ‘Y Viva Espana’ by Manolo Escobar. Meh.  Where was Will Young?

Oh, Anastacia. She made tons of mistakes but styled it out pretty efficiently and was rather likeable, which makes up some of the ground lost by being paired with the permanently chippy Brendan.

FINALLY! It was Ed Balls, looking terrified. Those of us worried that he would dance like a partly mashed week-old potato were relieved to see that he could waltz reasonably proficiently, and although he went horribly wrong halfway through he kept going and got himself back on track.  “There were glimmers of an elegant gentleman,” said Darcey, kindly.   “I was pleasantly surprised,” added Len.  Ed looked relieved, although his marks were pretty rubbish (5,5,6,5, since you ask).

Claudia Fragapane (gymnast, appaz) and her partner AJ, who looked to be waiting to celebrate his 11th birthday, danced the Cha Cha to ‘That’s What Makes You Beautiful’ by One Direction.  Obviously, they threw in a load of back flips because gymnastics, which backfired because it ruined the rhythm of the dance, as Bruno pointed out.

Hurrah, Will Young!  Will is the only person I have ever voted for in a reality competition, when everyone I knew, and Simon Cowell, was sure that Gareth Gates would win Pop Idol.  I felt so indignant about this assumption I called up and cast my vote.  I’m practically a suffragette.   Will performed the tango to Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, wearing very strange Michael Jackson-esque trousers, and sweating like an ice lolly in the sun (apparently he smokes like a trouper) but he was bloody marvellous.  Craig agreed with me, as indeed he should.

So that’s it for the first week.  God I’m glad it’s back.  It’s The Apprentice  on Thursday too, so it’s practically Christmas.  No YOU shut up.


Strictly Come Dancing – episode one


Let’s start by setting out the rules for Strictly Bingo.  Knock back one measure of your chosen drink whenever:

  • A celebrity starts quacking about having sore muscles in places they didn’t know they had muscles (or variations thereon)
  • Len whangs on about it being more difficult for the male celebs
  • Craig pronounces some poor sod’s performance to be a “diss – arse – terr”
  • Absolutely anybody mentions it being Len’s last series
  • The song is a laboured explanation of why the celeb is famous (the excruciating combination of “Keep On Running” playing as Iwan Thomas performed a routine that involved him pretending to run remains the stand-out definition of the genre)
  • Len whangs on about it being more difficult for the tall male celebs
  • Len whangs on about it being more difficult for tall, ex-sports male celebs
  • Tess walks onto the floor like a rugby player suffering a particularly aggressive case of thrush

Proceedings began with Tess clumping downstairs wearing a shapeless white bandage, whilst Claudia appeared to be wearing two dresses, both of which were bizarre.  Darcy looked sensational.  Yay!  Nothing has changed.

First up was Laura Whitmore (the showbiz interviewer who caught the eye of Leonardo DiCaprio, appaz) and sweating Italian 2015 champion, Giovanni.  They danced the Cha Cha to ‘Venus’ by Bananarama and were boringly good.  Props to Laura for dancing first though, which must have been horrible.   “Wot a luvverly way to start fe show,” burbled Len.  “First art, first clars!”  None of the other judges approved of her bent knees.

Pasha (my fave pro dancer, ever since he partnered the sweet and talented Chelsee Healey) danced the waltz with Naga Munchetty.  There was a lot of love in the room for Naga, who looked absolutely terrified but clearly has a lot of potential.  “You have a great neck,” oozed Darcey, weirdly.   Naga and her neck trotted off, relieved.

Ooh, (Judge) Robert Rinder.  Partner Oksana looked beautifully fierce.  Judge/Robert was dressed as a judge, banged a sparkly gavel and danced to “Mercy”.  Because he’s a judge, GEDDIT?  Jeez.  And, er, DRINK. Actually I think he’s a criminal law barrister, but let’s not get bogged down in piffling details.  Anyway, he was absolutely terrific, got his chest out, had hips that moved like well-oiled castors and Craig hated him.   Judge/Robert looked like he wanted to sentence Craig to 20 years hard, but managed a fixed smile nonetheless.

Dancing the waltz were Lesley and Anton, to the tune of “What’ll I do?”,  the theme to Birds of A Feather, just in case you weren’t sure why she is famous.  DRINK.   She looked fabulous and danced with genuine elegance, although her shoulders were so hunched she could have worn them as ear muffs.  Darcey warned her not to get “lost in Anton’s chest.”  Is Darcey on drugs?  We should be told.  When would Ed Balls (Ed Balls) be on? Where was Will Young? Let’s face it, that’s why we’re all watching.  Twitter informed me they wouldn’t be dancing until Saturday night. Pah.

It was the turn of Ore Oduba (no idea, sorry) who was dressed in a particularly hideous shirt, bow tie and chinos combo in order to dance the tango.  It was odd, but also clear Ore can dance although the choreography sucked.   He’s one to watch.

Finally, Olympic gold medal winner Greg Rutherford danced the jive to “Get Ready” by The Temptations.  Put your drinks down, Strictly fans, this was a missed opportunity.  What happened to “Jump” by either Van Halen or The Pointer Sisters, Beeb?  Greg was a tad flat-footed, but clearly loved every second of it.  “It woz full on for a bloke oo larks abaht in a sand pit!” yelped Len.  “The jive is hard for a big man,” sympathised Darcey.   If you say so, love.

Tomorrow night, Ed Balls (Ed Balls) and Will Young. CAN’T WAIT.

Strictly Come Dancing – Week 11


The quarter finals, and the theme was “Musicals”.  Only six couples left, thankfully not including Peter Andre telling us how much he loves his kids/wife/breathing. Proceedings began with a doomy VT, as the slebs revealed how tense they were and how frightening it all was, as though they were about to defuse a bomb, rather than shuffle around a dance floor.

Claudia was dressed in a black towel and matching Cleopatra eyeliner, Tess had chosen a sequinned bin liner. First up was Georgia and her sweating Sicilian dancing a foxtrot to Beauty and the Beast which is NOT a musical but a Disney film (albeit now adapted for the stage).  They danced beautifully. “It woz a fairytale and it wozznut grim,” yelped Len, thrilled with his own brilliance. There are rumours that Len is to leave Strictly. Let’s hope they’re true.  Claudia interviewed Georgia, and then Jodi Prenger was wheeled on to sing the voting phone line terms and conditions in a terrible American accent.  Yep, I watch this shit so you don’t have to, people.

Anita & Gleb danced the Argentine Tango to ‘Cell Block Tango’ from Chicago, an iconic song from one of my favourite musicals and I don’t like musicals.  Gleb was dressed as a cop who has fallen on hard times and so had to do a bit of stripping for extra money.  He carried an enormous truncheon. I don’t make this up, I merely report the facts.  Anita made a lot of mistakes; perhaps the truncheon distracted her.

Kellie and Kevin danced the Viennese Waltz to ‘Oom Pah Pah’ from Oliver, the most un-Viennese Waltz song ever.  An elegant, ethereal dance, they chose to interpret it as chucking out time at Wetherspoons. Weirdly, it was rather engaging. “Arm reviewing feh sitchewaysun!” screeched Len, delighted with his imitation of Ron Moody playing Fagin.  Bruno started singing “Consider Yourself.” I considered killing myself.

Oooh, Jay and Aliona dancing the Rumba to “Falling Slowly” from Once.  Generally on Strictly, when it comes to the Rumba celebrities win points for clutching their partners in the manner of a weasel chewing a hamster, and are awarded 10 points if they can  assume the facial expression of a man who has jammed his thumb in the wardrobe door.  Not Jay. Dressed as a lumberjack in skinny jeans, he was sensual, romantic and passionate and his dance was a thing of real beauty.  “It woz a musical called Once but you won’t be dancing twice!” shrieked Len, ruining the moment. Seriously, does he pay people for to write these lines?

Katie & Anton danced the Foxtrot to ‘Maybe This Time’ from the musical Cabaret, a song that is a show-stopper with heartbreaking lyrics.  Katie looked incredible – she is a truly beautiful woman with an incredible set of pins – but she is the least Sally Bowles person EVER and came across as a sixth former limbering up before lacrosse practice.

Finally, Helen and Aljaz performed the Paso Doble to ‘At The End Of The Day’ from Les Miserables; another desperately sad song with the central message of “well, another day closer to death I suppose”, an odd choice for a dance all about passion and strength.  Helen lost her balance a few times and the whole thing was a bit too busy and hurried and she won’t win anyway.  When Claudia ran through the telephone voting proceedings, Aljaz did the phone hand, an action punishable by death when I rise to power.

Next week, the semis! Which means the final is the same night as my daughter’s 21st birthday party, so I shall miss it.  Greater love hath no woman, etc.






Strictly Come Dancing, Week 10


Ten weeks already? Ten truly terrible dresses from Tess (alliteration or WHAT, folks), ten weeks of Len’s appalling puns, ten weeks of Claudia, and, unbelievably, ten weeks of Anton. Whodathunk?

So, three weeks to go and only seven couples left in game.  Who’s likely to win? Professional Northerner Georgia (“I’m Northern”) May Foote and her sweaty Sicilian partners are ahead on scores, but Anita and Gleb are definitely in the running. For my money, Jay and Aliona should win it, if Jay can go from being a poodle-haired introvert to an expressive sex god via the Charleston.  I can’t see Katie and Anton, Kellie and Kevin or Helen and Aljaz winning it, and after Peter Andre looked to be in pole position in the early weeks, now he just looks like a pole dancer in search of one, so I’m going to discount him.

By way of a disclaimer, I have terrible form predicting winners for any reality competition, so if you skip off the bookies on the strength of this blog, it’s entirely your own fault.

This week Tess was dressed like an upmarket toilet roll,  whilst Claudia wore a hideous, black and white striped number that made her look a magpie flattened by a truck.  Seriously, who is their stylist?

On the subject of outfits, every week Kellie is dressed in something gruesome that looks like it came from the T K Maxx bargain bin. Every, single, week. Anyway she and Kevin danced a salsa which I thought a tad meh, but Len declared “Ar fort it woz fabbluless” and the other judges agreed with him. Pfft. What do they know?

Anton, wearing the beatific expression of one who cannot believe he is still in the competition, danced an Argentine Tango with Katie. Notoriously crap at Latin, (dancing, not the language), Anton did surprisingly well.  There were a few clunky moves but Katie looked glorious and the audience loves them so much that when he clumsily hoisted her into half-hearted lift the audience went bananas and roared with delight.  Not that the approval of the studio audience is anything to get excited about, as they’re so easily pleased they’d give a standing ovation to a chicken laying an egg.

Helen and Aljaž danced the Viennese Waltz to ‘At Last’ by Etta James and they were absolutely gorgeous. Dreamy, soft, perfect lines, immaculate timing.  The judges adored their dance and Helen cried an elegantly twinkly tear of gratitude. She won’t win though (I refer you to my earlier comment re the bookies.)

Jay and Aliona danced the Tango to Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’ and all I can say was it was the best Tango I’ve ever seen on Strictly. Len, the miserable old twat, blathered on about Jay missing some heel leads, and then inexplicably announced “Vat woz a mango of a tango.” WTAF? The old fool should be pensioned off immediately.

Throughout footage of his training, the Andre wore an ugly knitted hat borrowed from a smurf, although he has an orange rather than a blue face.  Perhaps he was revving up for a six part Channel Five series entitled Me And My Smurf Kids? Anyway, he and his partner danced the American Smooth to ‘Sweetest Feeling’ by Jackie Wilson. He seems an affable chap and I wish him well, but his free arm waved around so randomly it looked like he was directing traffic. He and Katie are now the weakest dancers in the competition.  “You’ve obviously worked very hard,” said Darcy, kindly, the Strictly equivalent of slapping a sticker on him that reads “I ate my greens at Jamie’s Italian”.

Anita and Gleb danced the Rumba to ‘Read All About It’ by Emeli Sande. Remember those days when no public occasion could take place without Emeli Sande singing throughout? I wonder what she’s up to now. Anita was dressed in her nightie and Gleb’s shirt revealed a chest smoother than a Tefal frying pan.  Len disliked their dance because it didn’t contain enough basic Rumba, eliciting boos from the audience.  Len protested his judging credentials. “Ar don’t come ear to blather on.” I beg to differ, Len.

Whoo-hoo, Georgia! She bangs on about being from the North so much I think she’s trying to reach George R R Martin via the BBC so she can join the cast of Game of Thrones (#ballroomiscoming).  Dressed as a dead crow with Kristen Stewart eye make-up, she and a leather-clad Gleb hurled themselves angrily round the dance floor like two goths who’d been told there were no rooms available in Whitby. It was magnificent.

The Quick Step-a-thon.  It was like watching seven pedalos trying to steer clear of one another in a choppy sea, and Helen emerged triumphant.  She still won’t win (I refer you etc).

You know what’s so lovely about Strictly? It’s absolutely joyous.  Everyone in it loves every minute, everyone wants to win, and yet they’re kind to their fellow competitors and generous in their praise of one another. X Factor, take note.












Strictly Come Dancing – Halloween


It’s the best night of the Strictly competition, and for all of you who play Strictly bingo, a slug of gin is compulsory every time:

  • Len says “that was no trick, that was a TREAT!” (and variations thereof)
  • Len makes reference to someone’s dancing being so bad/good “it’s scary”
  • Len shouting “that was devilishly good/bad!”
  • Len says “you haven’t a ghost of a chance”

Anyway, we kicked off with a passable paso (see what I did there) from Anton and Katy.  They danced to ‘Phantom Of The Opera’, a musical I saw decades ago and left half way through because I was so bored.  The judges hated it but Anton said “well next week we’re dancing a Quickstep and they’ll love it!” Confidence, much?

Kirsty and Brendan danced the Charleston to ‘Bad Romance’ by Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox; it was pretty much as bad as anything I have seen on a dance floor, and I speak as a woman who learned Irish dancing with a boy called Adrian who had a club foot.

Jeremy and Karen danced the Salsa to ‘Thriller’ by (who else) Michael Jackson. It was a salsa in name only, as he hardly danced a step, and we had to endure Len sniping “It wasn’t super and it wasn’t natural” (drink everyone) but Jezza threw himself into it and it was hugely enjoyable nonetheless.  Anita and Gleb danced the Waltz to the suitably odd ‘Once Upon A Dream’ by Lana Del Rey and it was boringly proficient.  Gleb is very good at hogging the limelight which I don’t mind because he’s very easy on the eye, but I can imagine might annoy Anita somewhat.  “Ar don’t wanna be glib, Gleb,” smirked Len, who practically expired with delight at his own cleverness, “but ar didn’t know wot woz going on!”

Next up came Jamelia and Tristan, who danced the Jive to ‘The Time Warp’ from, obviously, the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  She was as flat-footed as a duck with bunions and Len was on hand to deliver the line he’d been practising all week: “It was a bit rocky, burrit wozzent a HORROR!”

Jay and Aliona dancing the American Smooth to ‘Lil Red Riding Hood’ by Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs.  It was unbelievably elegant and the judges loved it.  Her off EastEnders danced the Paso to the Glee Cast version of ‘Schools Out’, with about five seconds of Hedwig’s Theme by John Williams at the beginning to explain the sub-Harry Potter costumes. “Will they ENCHANT the judges?” enquired Tess, unable to suppress a shudder at the terrible lines she is forced to speak.  When she’s finished murdering her stylist she should head for the script writer.  It was all a bit random and messy.

Carol and Pasha danced a Rumba to ‘I Think I Love You’ by The Partridge Family.  It was as much like a Rumba as a bottle of port is like a trampoline, and because I like Carol the kindest thing I can do is to draw a veil over the whole proceedings. A very thick, very heavy veil.

Georgia and Giovanni the sweating Sicilian danced the Tango to Ghostbusters. Dressed like Mussolini’s office staff for no apparent reason, they were terrific. The judges adored it; Giovanni’s eyeliner ran down his face in gratitude whilst his partner bounced up and down and made a noise like a hamster in a blender.

Peter Andre and Janette danced the Foxtrot to ‘Ghost’ by Ella Henderson. Maintaining the dictator theme, Peter was dressed as Castro after a particularly vicious bar brawl; he gave a somewhat anodyne performance.  “For me, performing is for life,” he confided to Tess, worrying news for anyone who hoped he might retire.

Finally, it was Helen George and Aljaz, who danced the Samba to ‘Take Your Mama’ by Scissor Sisters.  “Helen’s in ‘Call The Midwife’, so she knows all about MUMMIES!” shrieked Tess, who at least had the grace to look embarrassed. Seriously, who writes this shit?  Len (who else) pronounced Helen “a yummy mummy!” Oh, they were dressed as mummies, in case you hadn’t realised.

Next week, get ready for all of them quacking on about wanting to get to Blackpool. Like anyone really wants to go there.

Strictly Come Dancing – week five


It was an interesting week for many reasons, not least of which was that Tess had finally cracked and murdered her stylist.  We knew this because she wore a rather lovely dress and her hair looked nice.   No sign of any plain clothes policemen in the audience, but then there wouldn’t be, would there? No. An arrest however is imminent.  Take my word for it.

Georgia May Foote danced a decent salsa.  “That woz so good arm gonna change your name to Georgia May HIP!” shrieked Len, keen to get his famed word play into gear early in the proceedings.   Lovely Carol Kirkwood danced the Viennese Waltz, which requires lots of spins.  Pasha prepared for this by taking Carol on lots of spinning rides at a theme park. I’d  have gone for extra training myself, but Strictly Law is that we must endure terrible VTs before every dance. Carol looked terrified and her spare arm seemed to belong to someone else – possibly a farm worker wielding a shovel.

Anita and Gleb danced the Tango to Temper Trap’s ‘Sweet Disposition’ which was a rubbish choice of music because all the drama – and Anita was good – went for nothing, and the make-up team had given her Ming The Merciless of Mongo eyebrows, but the judges loved it so clearly I know nothing and I don’t know why I’m bothering to write this.

Peter Andre danced the rumba to Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud, which is, I believe, 2015’s ultimate first wedding dance for everyone without an imagination.  It was, to my mind, utterly sexless, but then I think Pete is the human equivalent of a Shirley Temple cocktail; looks great, but no chance of getting drunk on it, so what’s the point?   Next up strode angry Kirsty Gallacher, a woman who believes herself to be a much better dancer than she is and as a result is furious every week when she doesn’t get better marks.  She wore a dress like a piece of satsuma peel dipped in glitter and took half an hour to get down the stairs, but gave a pretty decent account of herself once on the dance floor proper.  “Vat is wivvart dart your best dance!” declared Len, and Kirsty agreed loudly if not entirely modestly. We’ve all been at school with someone like Kirsty, haven’t we, children?

Ainsley and Natalie danced the Jive to ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ by Bill Haley and the Comets because pots and pans (geddit?). It was as camp as Christmas, he was as flat-footed as a camel and the judges hated it, but I thought it enormous fun so shut up Craig.

Jamelia and Tristan danced the Foxtrot to Celine Dion’s ‘Because You Loved Me’, a song so terrible it makes me want to use a rusty spoon to remove my eyeball and feed it to a dog. The routine began with a load of tedious shizz about horses and carriages in Central Park, and I didn’t see anymore of her dance because I was battling with a recalcitrant wine bottle cork, but the judges told her she was crap (illegal lifts, wrong footwork blah blah) so do with that information what you will.

Next up, Anton and Katie danced the salsa.  Anton was dressed as a 1970s’ sales rep in a beige suit and Hawaiian shirt, and declared the routine would be “hot and spicy”. Latin is not Katie’s, or Anton’s for that matter, strong suit, so they were pretty dreadful, which was a shame as Katie is probably as competitive as Kirsty but at least has the grace to hide it.

Jezza Vine danced the waltz; horrible gapping, lifeless topline and all the lyricism and panache of Judy Murray, but he’s game and takes his criticism well, so I like him. Craig awarded him three points, Len six.  Len is an idiot.

Helen “Call The Midwife” George was next.  Helen is my little niece Lauren’s favourite, perhaps because they are both blonde, tiny and sweet, so for her sake I hoped for good things from Helen’s Quickstep.  Fortunately she was fabulous; so fabulous in fact that Craig awarded her nine points and Helen made a noise that sounded like a squirrel trapped in kettle.

Ooh, Jay and Aliona dancing the Paso.  They were brilliant.  “Great lines, great control, great shaping, great dance,” declared Craig.  “The best male arms ever,” added Darcy, weirdly.   Len blathered on about nothing in particular like the wizened old fart he is, Bruno waffled about Jay getting his bum (Jay’s, not Bruno’s) in the wrong place and said “bollocks” which forced Tess to apologise for his language.

The woman from EastEnders danced a jive to “One Way Or Another” which is a Blondie, not One Direction, song, so shut up toddlers. It was alright and a bit of a meh note on which to finish the programme but I suppose everyone must get their turn.  The judges however were fulsome in their praise. “Ar know the clocks gar back tonight, but ard like the clocks to go back RAHT NOW so ar can see it agin!” yelped Len.

The sensational madness that is Strictly Halloween is next week. Remember Pasha as Shrek, complete with green face and ears? It’s the BEST.

Strictly Come Dancing – Week Four


Welcome to Week Four, although what’s the point in wondering who should win after Jay’s triumphant jive last week?  Presumably the posse of desperate women who think the pair of American Tan tights that is Peter Andre would disagree, so let us plough on and watch once more, dear friends, as Henry V would have said had he owned a telly and had nothing else to do on a Saturday night.

Tess and Claudia, whose wardrobes in past weeks have been worryingly normal, returned to form in two hideous outfits: Tess in an I-Made-This-In-My-Year-Nine-Textiles-Class number, featuring cheap lace panelling and a missing sleeve, Claudia in a Matalan bargain basement jumpsuit, complete with 80s shoulder pads.

First up, Anita Rani and Gleb dancing the Samba to Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie. Len, who had clearly spent the afternoon reading up on the music to each dance in order to make one of his terrible attempts at word play, shouted: “I’ll tell you this. YOUR hips don’t lie!” and sat back, looking delighted with himself. Anita and Gleb were fine but nothing special.

Next up, the man whose Wikipedia claims he is only 54 years old, Daniel O’Dyedhair, dancing the American Smooth to Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon. Dressed vaguely as flight attendants, they spent a lot of time flinging their arms around as though signalling the location of the exit doors.  “It had a lovely, easy feel,” smirked Len, for no other reason than to line up his next bon mot. “You could have been on Easyjet.” GEDDIT? Next.

Kirstie and Brendan danced the Pasa Doble to that well known Spanish dance anthem, U2’s Beautiful Day.  They were rubbish.   “It was a bit like a paella,” opined Len, building up to his next witticism. “Tasty in places, but there’s always a few weird bits floatin’ abaht.”  I hope the next time Len visits a Spanish restaurant, the waiter spits in his gazpacho.

Georgia and her partner, sweating Sicilian sausage Giovanni, danced the Quickstep to S Club 7’s pop classic Reach. They were incredibly fast.  “From drab….” winked Len, unable to think of any pun related to stars/night sky/trying to get the biscuit tin off the top shelf, “to FAB!”

Jeremy and Karen danced the Jive to Bobby Darin’s Splish Splash.  Ever literal, they began with Jeremy standing in a bath.  There was a moment where he lay on the dance floor and we all held our breath worrying if he could get up again, but otherwise it was… what was it? It certainly wasn’t a jive.  “Has he improved, Craig?” enquired Tess.  “No.”

Kellie and Kevin danced the Foxtrot to Dream A Little Dream by Mama Cass.  They were supposedly telling the love story of Kellie’s grandparents, and Tess was on hand to play the role of famous psychic, Doris Stokes. “They would’ve loved that.”   Jamelia and Tristan danced the Charleston to Straight Up by Paula Abdul, who send Jamelia a video message wishing her luck, although had she known how the Dave Arch singers would murder her song she might have thought better of it.  JamTris were pretty good though, and there were echoes of Josephine Baker in Jamelia’s performance, no bad thing for a Charleston.

Jay and Aliona danced the Quickstep to My Generation by The Who. It was fast and furious and Jay made a few unexpected stumbles.  He looked absolutely gutted when the judges picked apart his performance (try saying that after three gin and tonics) but he will be back next week better than ever so SHUT UP JUDGES.  (Just as a side note, is something going on between Jay and Aliona? She looked completely in love and the pair of them pawed each other a bit.  Watch this space.)

Next up, it was Carol and Pasha dancing the Paso to Trad’s Espana Cani, which is proper Paso music for bloody once. It worked as well; it was easily Carol’s best dance as she really got into character.  Take note, everybody else who chooses bollocks like the Birdy song for the Tango.   Then it was Ainsley and Natalie who danced the Waltz to What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, a song I absolutely adore.  Nerves made Ainsley assume the vacant facial expression of a village idiot, but otherwise it was all rather lovely.

Helen and Aljaz danced the Salsa to Miami Sound Machine’s Doctor Beat, a song I loathed in the 80s and Dave Arch’s crapola version didn’t make me change my opinion. In the preceding VT, Aljaz took Helen up the Shard *sideways look to camera* and yes, some of it was a bit stiff *stop it* but Helen did a fabulous splits move and overall I really liked it.

Peter and Janette chose to dance the Tango to New Order’s Blue Monday, beginning with some shizzle sitting at a card table.  There are no words to describe what Dave Arch did to the song, but when I rise to power he and his singers will be forced to sing Tiptoe Through The Tulips whilst accompanying themselves on the Stylophone for all eternity.  The pair gave a decent account of themselves, sufficiently rousing a sleeping Len so that he was able to produce another linguistic gem: “Ar dunno wot card game you woz playing, but it had plenny of SNAP innit!” and then sat back, thrilled with his own genius.

Finally, Katie and Anton.  They hadn’t done too well last week, but they were to dance the Viennese Waltz to Elvis Presley’s If I Can Dream, and everybody knows Anton is a whizz at Ballroom, not Latin, so great things were expected of them. They didn’t disappoint, with fiendishly difficult content that was well executed.

Who will be voted out? Daniel or Jezza, surely.  Whatever. I’m just hanging on for Halloween Week and the mad costumes.  Two weeks to go, people. Can’t wait.