Strictly Come Dancing – Halloween!

Strictly Come Dancing

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?

Nancy Dell'Olio

Peter Andre minus his customary three coats of creosote?

Peter Andre

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.









Strictly Come Dancing – Week Two

Strictly Come Dancing

Last week the BBC dancing competition attracted an audience of 9.4 million, compared with the all-time low of 4.8 million for its rival, ITV’s X Factor.  The only surprising statistic is that nearly five million dweebs still watch that rot.

After last week’s marathon viewing, we had the SAME number of slebs but somehow they  managed to squeeze it into two hours.  Exactly the same number of dances, but with 20 minutes chopped off.  How is this possible? Would the unfunny comedy VTs be cut?  One could only hope.

Claudia and Tess dress report: Claudia in rather fetching Bardot dress, Tess in an elastoplast cunningly disguised as a jump suit.  Great hair though, so 6/10.

First up, Chizzy and Pasha, dancing the Foxtrot.  In the preamble, Chizzy produced her sister, and made the relevatory comment: “My family is very important to me.”  More interesting had she said, “I couldn’t give a shit if my family turns up or not,” but perhaps such a remark would make for a difficult Christmas lunch.

She was rubbish.  There was a lot of faffing around a table, which involved Chizzy behaving like a woman unable to decide what to eat at the Holiday Inn breakfast buffet, and then it was just a lot of gapping and hardly any Foxtrot.   The judges were unimpressed.

Next up, him off JLS.  Aston and Janette performed the Salsa to Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber.  I hate this tune with a passion, only because Radio One played it incessantly this summer which meant there was nothing else on in our office, because we’re not allowed to listen to anything else (yes, really, it’s a whole North Korea scene where I work.  Send help.)

Aston was fabulous.  The man is an incredibly talented dancer.  He can’t win, surely – there’s no journey and reality competitions demand one.   Bruno awarded him nine points.  In week two. Unless he gets 10s from here on in, where does Aston go but down?

Susan Calman and Kevin, hurrah!  And dancing the super fun Charleston, what’s more.  They were absolutely delightful.  I mean, it was pretty low on actual Charleston steps and there wasn’t a huge amount of swivel, but  still – it was adorable.  (Also Kevin was very clever with his choreography – the pros don’t always get enough praise for the routines they devise.  End of lecture.)

Brendan and Charlotte danced the Cha Cha to ‘Sugar’ by Maroon 5.  Goodness me that girl has a fabulous figure, but the fringing did more dancing that she did.  Latin clearly not being her thing, she looked deeply embarrassed throughout.  Shirley thought the routine too complicated for Charlotte. Pros’ choreography can make or break the sleb. “She’s very pretty when she stands up,” said Bruno, surprisingly waspish for once.  “We all have a bad day.  Re-group. Come back again and nail it.”  If she gets the opportunity to dance again, that is. She scored 12 points.  Yep, count ’em, it shouldn’t take long.  She should be voted off, although she’ll have stiff competition from Ruth, as both of them dance as well as  close pegs in a stiff breeze.

strictly come dancing

Joe McFadden and Katya danced the Tango to bloody Ed Sheeran (again, endlessly played in the frickin’ office) but after his terrific Jive last week, unfortunately he rather let himself down.  Set, I think, in Narnia – there was a random wardrobe in the middle of the dance floor – he was as about as controlled as Mr Tumnus finding out that the White Witch was about to pop in for tea.

Brian and Amy danced the Cha Cha to ‘Shake Your Groove Thing’ by Peaches and Herb.  It was like watching a man with a metal plate in his knee dance too close to a giant magnet, but he gave it his all and magestically refrained from telling Tess to fuck off when she referred to him as a “cheeky chappy”.  I rather like Brian actually; he’s 56 years old, he’s dancing to make his daughter proud of him, and he wore sequinned flares.  What more can a viewer ask?  I mean, he can’t actually DANCE, but hey, neither can loads of them this year.  That’s what makes it so much fun.

Next up, Gemma and Aljaz danced the Waltz to ‘Un Giorno Per Noi (A Time For Us)’ by Josh Groban.  It was lovely.  She tended to forget to finish off her shaping and got a bit lost after her spins, but the characteristic rise and fall was there, she held her frame and she looked to have grown in confidence.   If she keeps her nerve and improves each week, she could make the final (my tips are always the kiss of death though Gemma, sorry.)

The Rev and Dianne performed the American Smooth to Love Really Hurts Without You by Billy Ocean.  A godawful song from a godawful artist (anyone else remember the horror that was Caribb-ue-an Queen? He wanted to get the Europeans as keen on his song as the Americans, and so mashed up Caribbean and European.  The fool.)

On he came, dressed, inexplicably, as a depressed hobbit on his way to the tip on a Sunday afternoon.  He was about as far from an American Smooth as a European Rough.  Amer-ic-ue-an Smooth (see what I did there.)  I confess I was surprised to learn he’s 56 years old, as his outfits, demeanour, choreography and staging make him seem a good 12 years older, but he’s fun and has a huge fan base, so expect more of this for several weeks.

Ruth and Anton danced the Charleston’ by Bob Wilson and his Varsity Rhythm Boys (me neither).  Apparently inspired by The Great Gatsy.

Yeah, right.

She would have done better had she loosened up with a few drinks (tip for next week, Ruth), but she had some decent swivel going on and didn’t get any steps wrong and that’s as much as anyone can expect.  Well it isn’t, but I’m trying to be kind.  Yes, me being kind.  Believe it.

Simon and Karen performed the Waltz to You’ll Never Walk Alone by Rogers and Hammerstein.  There was a spin where he pushed Karen around the floor like a man wielding a recalcitrant mower across a lumpen piece of waste ground, but it was a special song for him and is one that means a great deal to a great many people, and so let us say no more about it.

Molly and AJ danced the Tango to Tina Turner’s version of Robert Palmer’s ‘Addicted To Love’ (a terrible version and I should know, I lived through the 80s, hard though that may be to believe) made even more terrible by the Dave Arch singers’ ear bleeding rendition.   She started off well , good shaping, plenty of attack, but lost her place somewhat towards the end.  Still, decent effort.  Apologies for sounding like a P.E. teacher.  The judging was bizarre: Craig gave her four points, Shirley gave her eight.  Sort yourselves out, you lot.

Jonnie and Oti danced the Jive to Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry.  A super difficult dance at the best of times, surely it would be even tougher for Jonnie, given the emphasis on lower leg kicks and flicks?  Nope.  Energy, bags of attitude, technically spot on.

Debbie and Giovanni danced the Viennese Waltz to She’s Always A Woman by Billy Joel (little known fact – it was originally She’s Always A Hamster, and dedicated to Billy’s childhood pet).  It played to her strengths and there was an interesting discussion on Twitter as we realised she is younger than Madonna (by just under a year) and is not, as many had thought, a well preserved woman approaching 70.


Perhaps Debbie had over-indulged in the sunbathing when ballet dancing for the Shah of Iran?

Him off EastEnders and Nadiya performed a Quick Step.  It was overly sexy, there was illegal lift in the middle, a lot of general faffing about, and as a result the judges weren’t happy.   Enders chap took it and shrugged.  He’s knows he’s safe.

Finally, Alexandra and Gorka danced the Paso Doble to ‘Ven a Bailar’ by Jennifer Lopez, which the Dave Arch Singers found somewhat challenging.  Dressed as a mermaid forced to find work as a char woman, Alexandra gave it her considerable all.  She was fantastic; totally bossed the choreography-heavy dance, terrific characterisation, faultless footwork.  Every judge awarded her nine points.  I mean, Craig.  CRAIG. Nine points.  In Week Two.

Might she win this thing?

















Strictly Come Dancing – episode one

strictly come dancing

Two hours and 20 minutes? Two hours AND 20 MINUTES? Like, for real? People have run marathons in less time.  Quite a lot less time actually,  according to Wikipedia.

I checked the Strictly website just to make sure.  Considering the broadcaster is renowned for recruiting the cream of our universities’ crops,  you’d think they could find someone capable of stringing a cliché-free sentence together.  But you’d be wrong:

“In tonight’s bumper show, our 15 celebrities will show us what two weeks of hard work amounts to, strutting their stuff on the dancefloor for the very first time…. our brand new Head Judge Shirley Ballas will also be… dishing out her observations on all of the couples’ dancefloor debuts. But they can all rest fairly easy tonight — if they can keep the first week jitters at bay, that is — as the public vote doesn’t open until next Saturday. *phew*”

CHRIST.  Kids, don’t bother pratting about with degrees should you wish to join the BBC.  If you’ve read some Jeffrey Archer and/or Dan Brown drivel, have no idea what constitutes wit, use words like “shenanigans” and believe Alan Partridge to be a real person, you’ll be under contract in 20 minutes.

What this meant was all the couples would dance tonight, for the first time, but the voting lines would NOT be open so nobody would be kicked out. That process begins next week, when it’s back to the usual Saturday and Sunday shows.

Anyone up for the Strictly Drinking Game? Knock back a shot when

  • Craig awards anyone two points
  • Celebrities dance to a song choice reflecting their day jobs
  • Tess refers to a celeb’s “journey”
  • A celeb forces their child or eldery relative to visit them in the studio
  • Darcey says “yah”
  • Anyone on Twitter mentions a contestant’s previous “dance training”

And here is our first!

Richard Osman

Well he wasn’t very nice, boys and girls, was he?

On came Tess and Claudia, both looking pretty fabulous for a change, which is no fun at all.  You’d think that after all these years presenting Strictly, Tess could get a dance pro to teach her how not to walk like a body builder with piles, wouldn’t you?

First up, Gemma Atkinson and Aljaz danced the Cha Cha to There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back by Shawn Mendes (it says here).   There was the usual awful, unfunny VT, and because there’s no way they’ll put someone hopeless on first, it was unsurprising to see Gemma giving a pretty decent account of herself.   Craig didn’t think much of it, the other judges were kind, and Gemma looked relieved.

Brian Conley, comedian (I worked with him once and can confirm he wasn’t in the slightest bit funny) danced the Tango with Amy to Temptation by Heaven 17.  Brian had so much spray tan applied there wasn’t an inch visible that wasn’t fully Ronsealed.    He’ll never need an umbrella again.  He wore red shoes, the better to highlight his shonky footwork.  It wasn’t terrible, which is the best I can say about it.  Craig was foul to him, of course.

Alexandra “Okay Dot Com” Burke and Gorka waltzed to (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin.   Her dress put me in mind of a vase of dead daffodils, but actually she was rather good.   “You’re so musical,” (well DURR) Darcey told her.

Next, the ghastly Simon Rimmer.  The man may be lovely in real life but I could not stand Something For The Weekend, enduring he and the equally appalling Tim Lovejoy exchanging “bantz”.   What would he make of the Paso Doble, performed with Karen, to Song 2 by Blur?  Simon danced like a man stamping out a small fire on his patio.  “Sheer determination” said Shirley kindly, who then gave him – and us – a masterclass in how to rotate and proved in 60 seconds that she’s a million times better than doddery Len.

Charlotte Riley and Brendan performed the Foxtrot to Michael Bublé’s The Best Is Yet To Come.  Her top line drooped, she clung to Brendan like a drowning man clings to a log, but, er, her dress was lovely and there was almost a heel turn.

Jesus, there was still another 10 contestants to go.  Good job I’d bought two bottles of rosé.  On came Chizzy Akudolu (medical drama Holby City, appaz) and Pasha,  dancing the Cha Cha to Boogie Fever by The Sylvers.  Chizzy had clearly cast herself as the overweight but jolly lolster of the group, and thus gurned harder than a woman trying to remove her fillings using only her own tongue.   They began with Chizzy dressed as a doctor (drink, everyone) and she was made to perform some sub-comedy moves with the judges, poor woman, but she had rhythm and a feel for the music, which will help her in the coming weeks.  Bruno thought himself very clever to yell “Whizzy Chizzy!” when he should have said “Chizzy, Chizzy, BANG BANG!” according to my mate Sean, who texted me throughout the programme with appropriate bon mots.

The gorgeous Oti was partnered with Jonnie Peacock, waltzing to When I Need You by Luther Vandross (not really, it was Dave Arch and co) and despite being technically deficient, it was rather lovely.  So lovely I’m prepared – just , only just – to forgive him for his man bun.  Cut off your hair, Jonnie.  You know it makes sense.  After all, Jay McGuinness did it and he won the whole thing.


Joe McFadden (Holby City as well, obviously they don’t have a particularly demanding schedule) and Katya jived to Rockin’ Robin by Michael Jackson.  It was set in a car wash rather than a hospital ward, for a mercy, and the Dave Arch singers didn’t so much murder the song as stab it through the heart, set fire to it and then throw the remains into an industrial mincer, but actually it wasn’t too bad.   Shirley Ballas gave a highly technical judgement and Joe nodded knowledgeably, hoping to give the audience the impression he had the faintest clue what she was talking about.  Craig liked him and awarded him seven points, Shirley immediately went one better and awarded him eight.  Shirley is not to be messed with.

Ooooh, Susan Calman and Kevin.  I love them both.  “We need to get to know each other – but I don’t want to scare him off, so we’ll start with a candle-lit bath.”  They danced the Viennese Waltz to ‘Mad About The Boy’ by Dinah Washington.  She looked absolutely gorgeous – well done, Strictly wardrobe people – nervous as hell and obviously loved every single second.  The judges were impressed and Susan looked as though she’d won the lottery.

“Entertainer and Radio Presenter” (eh?) Debbie McGee was up with the sweating Italian Giovanni, performing a Paso Doble to Be Italian by Fergie.   The woman is 58 years old and as supple as someone 30 years her junior.   She was really, really good although her ballet training, not to mention her crotch, was evident throughout.    She and Giovanni shot to the top of the leader board.

Some dude from East Enders (Davood Ghadami )and the delectable Nadiya danced the Cha Cha to Dedication To My Ex by Lloyd ft. Andre 3000.  He did a lot of standing in a see-through shirt while she danced around him in a “look at me, don’t look at him!” manner, but Darcey thought him wonderful so just goes to show how little I know.

Now it was Ruth Langsford, dancing the waltz with Anton.  In the pre-dance VT, Ruth pretended it was her dearest wish to be partnered with the strangely asexual Anton.  She wasn’t very good but looked to be having a marvellous time and frankly what more can one want?  Of course the ghastly Eamonn Holmes was asked not once, but twice for his opinion, as though what a husband thinks of his wife defines her.  This bollocking neanderthal attitude has no place in today’s society and really gets my goat, as you may have gathered.

Rev Richard Coles and Dianne performed the Cha Cha to There Must Be An Angel by Eurythmics.  He’s a reverend and the song is about angels… geddit? (Drink all of you.)  “Will he be lord of the dance?” queried Tess.  Why she didn’t go the whole hog and ask if the judges planned to crucify him is anybody’s guess.  He was terrible but hilarious.  No dance skills whatsoever.  I loved it, Craig hated it, Darey called him “divine” (geddit again?)

Molly King and AJ jived to Good Golly Miss Molly by Little Richard.  Both of them looked as though they were having the best fun ever at the year 10 school disco.  Her balance was off – heels too high, perhaps? – and she danced on her own rather than ‘with’ AJ, but she had terrific rhythm and I suspect there may be a “journey” which, let’s face it, the Strictly audience wants.

Finally, FINALLY, it was Aston Merrygold and Janette, foxtrotting to It Had To Be You by Harry Connick Jnr.  Up last, so had to be good, yeah?  It was. Super athletic, confident and controlled.  One to watch.  But then we knew that, didn’t we?

So, as Sean texted, who’s on a winning journey, and who’s on a hopeless trek through a swamp ending in being swallowed whole by a crocodile?

We’ll find out next week.












Strictly Come Dancing – the launch!

Strictly Come Dancing

I love Strictly. The camaraderie, the fun, the sheer joyousness of it all is truly life affirming.  And, of course, the opportunity to poke fun at those who can’t dance.

Thankfully Len Goodman has been put out the pasture and is currently boring the 127 viewers who bother to tune in with a televisual crime against humanity named Len Goodman’s Partners in Rhyme.   But hey, don’t take my word for it:

Len Goodman

Tough crowd.

Anyway, who do we want to win? Not Simon bloody Rimmer, presenter of Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, a banter-filled bag of bollocks.  The Rev?  He might win it, what with his direct line to the big man upstairs. The teeny tiny one from that group that didn’t win X Factor?  Or the gobby one with the great voice who did win it and came back as a guest judge yelling “OKAY DOT COM!” in Louis’s face?

Ooh and there’s a new judge! Shirley Ballas!

Alan Patridge

The show kicked off with Anton singing (why God, why?) but mercifully only for one line, in case everyone changed channels.

“What does it take to lift that glitter ball?” queried Tess.  A forklift truck? Two blokes and a wheelbarrow? Shirl supplied the answer: “A love of dance and a great work ethic.” Oh.

First up, Gemma Atkinson. Nope, not a clue.  Oh, Hollyoaks, appaz.  Debbie McGee! She deserves to win, if only for having been married to Paul Daniels.  I’m pretty certain she had her own ballet company (failed) at one point so I assume she knows her way around a dance floor.  Some woman called Chizzy from Holby boasted that she could do the splits, and then Ruth Langsford, another woman who deserves to win on the basis of being married to the Neanderthal Eamonn Holmes.  What would he say about her competing on Strictly, wondered Tess.  “He’d say I think I’m a lot better at dancing than I actually am.”  So that’s nice.

Gemma bagged Aljaž, Debbie landed Giovanni, Chizzy looked thrilled to get Pasha and Ruth’s hopes of making her husband “horribly jealous” crumbled when she got Anton.

The three new professional dancers were introduced – they were all absolutely stunning – to the caterwauling of  Dave Arch as he mangled Beyonce’s Single Ladies. Swings and roundabouts, folks.

Ashton hoped for a small dancer, and got Janette.  “You’re adorable together,” patronised Tess, looking at them fondly as a mother might at her daughter’s Sylvanian Family figures.

sylvanian family

Rev Richard Coles got one of the new pros, a chap called Davood (Eastenders, don’t watch it, soz) looked delighted to be paired with the statuesque Nadia, Simon Rimmer found himself with Karen and declared he would bring “nice food” to rehearsals.  Since  the sveltve Karen probably hasn’t eaten solid food since 2009, I doubt she will care, but she smiled bravely at the prospect nonetheless.

On came Shania Twain, who lip synched to a terrible ditty entitled “Life’s About To Get Good”, moving only one arm feebly throughout.  Perhaps the vast quantity of botox on her face had leaked to her legs.   She was followed by the fabulous Joanne Clifton and Ore Oduba, who gave us their sensational jive and immediately intimidated every contestant.

There was a tribute to the late Sir Bruce Forysth, beginning with a montage of his Strictly appearances, and ending with a beautiful ballroom routine to “Fly Me To The Moon”.    Tess filled up with tears and Claudia helped her out when she got too choked to speak.  It was all rather lovely.

Charlotte of breakfast telly fame (I don’t watch the ITV version because I can’t stand Piers Morgan) got Brendan, Mollie King got AJ which looks to be a very promising pairing, and the peerless Susan Calman was matched with Kevin, and cried with delight.  “I feel like I’ve won the Lottery!” she sobbed.  Alexandra Burke was put with Gorka Marquez.  “I’m so nervous I’m SWEATING!” she squeaked, clutching Tess damply.

Rita Ora, wearing a pair of baggy silk trackie pants designed to make her look as chunky as possible, warbled “Let’s Be Lonely Together” whilst some unlikely street dancing took place behind her.  The whole thing resembled a fantastically cheap H&M commercial, but she looked pretty pleased with herself, so what would I know?

Finally, “Holby City’s Joe McFadden!” (two Holby City people? Are they paid very badly?) was matched with Katya Jones, Johnny Peacock “you’re a fast runner, but are you a quick thinker?” got Oti Mabuse, lucky chap, and Brian Conley “He’s got funny bones but can he move them?” (well yes, obvs Tess, you’ve just watched him walk towards you, who writes these scripts for God’s sake?)  paired up with of the newbies, Amy.

Group dance, hurrah! The pros were wonderful, the celebs were pretty awful, but every single one of them was grinning in a I-can’t-believe-my-luck-I’m-on-Strictly kinda fashion.  On one brief showing, Chizzy has some moves, Debbie knows her stuff, the Rev will be great comic value and Charlotte has all the animation and rhythm of a rock.

So, that’s it, the Strictly Class of 2017.    Bring it on.







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.