Saturday, 22 November 2008

Sergeantgate and sickness

Just so you know, I haven't been ignoring you over the last week and a half - I have not been well.

It's actually been a bit of a mean virus which has made me feel very poorly indeed, but nothing serious. I hope it will go away soon - it's seriously annoying me, now, rather than overwhelming me, which has to be a good sign.

I have found it frustrating not to have had the energy to comment on so many of the week's news stories, particularly in such a momentous week for Strictly. For the record, I can understand why it was all getting a bit much for John Sergeant, but I don't necessarily think he would have made the Final. However, when his family were getting abusive phone calls suggesting he should apologise to better dancers who had left before him, you can kind of understand that he thought it was all getting out of hand.

Part of the joy of Strictly is that the contestants can captivate us either by their dance ability, their personality or both. I hope that the furore over Sergeant's departure doesn't detract from that.

The Judges have come in for criticism - I don't think they deserved it. They are there to comment on the dancing.

It's the public who have the choice on that show - and if they choose to take what the judges say with a pinch of salt, then they surely have the right to do so.

John's dance partner, Kristina Rihannof, deserves huge credit for helping us all to fall for John's charms. Her choreographic miracles showed a very shrewd understanding of British humour and she got the best out of John. I feel really sorry for her in all of this. The dancers are hugely competitive and it's a shame that she's had to leave before her time.

It has been quite amusing that as soon as the Sergeant departure hit the headlines (Newsnight, for goodness sake, Question Time - Jim Murphy, you should be ashamed of yourself) the X Factor mob went into overdrive to try to grab some of the attention back. A supposed row between Dannii Minogue and Louis Walsh over song choices was the best they could come up with. I suspect they'd need to wrestle naked on the live show to trump Sergeantgate.

What this now means, ironically, is that we are now going to lose a really good dancer every week. While John was there, there was always the chance that he would go and save the likes of Christine, Jodie, Rachel or Lisa who are now the most vulnerable. I have a feeling that the boys will be ok, but I am concerned that we could soon lose Christine and the adorable Matthew Cutler before we are ready to.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Week 8 Report - over half way through

While I'm glad that Christine is safe after her excellent, bright jive, I can't hide my shock at seeing Rachel and Vincent in the bottom 2. Their quickstep based American Smooth was innovative, technically very difficult and the lifts, I thought at least, were amazing. The judges had no choice but to keep them in. Heather and Brian danced better this week than at any other time since week 2 - I saw more passion and drama in their tango than the judges did and Heather looked absolutely beautiful in red.

And John is safe again. He must have come at least third in the public vote to have avoided the bottom two. Maybe if the judges didn't savage him quite as much, people wouldn't feel they had to save him. For heaven's sake, he's in his 60s, he's doing his best, but how many portly gentlemen would you see dancing cha cha cha with amazingly talented Russian choreographers? We can't really expect more of him, but it is probably, regrettably, time for him to go next week.

I was a bit annoyed with the judges for their comments on Austin's rumba. I have seen dances with a lot less connection and it was technically very good. It is horrendously difficult for, especially a man, to act out the heat of passion if they are already in a relationship. Austin did one of the best jobs I'd seen at this and is still in contention.

Lisa's American smooth gave me goosebumps. I actually didn't believe that she didn't get a 10. It was completely beautiful. I could kiss Brendan too for being restrained, not breaking the rules and bringing the best out in her.

Cherie's waltz was charming and romantic too. I thought her footwork was delicate and her upper body is absolutely gorgeous.

Tom and Camilla's Quickstep got better and better. I thought his first solo spot looked a tiny bit awkward - but by the end he had warmed up and was nailing it. A fabulous effort.

Finally, I felt Jodie and Ian's pasting from the judges wasn't quite fair. Jodie got the performance right, and, sure the technical stuff wasn't fair, but Craig ought to be ashamed of himself for giving them a 3.

If Rachel fans want her to stay in next week, they will have to support her and encourage others to do so - her public vote isn't great, although I can't see why. She's beautiful, full of energy and a consistently good performer.

Next week will be a bit of a nailbiter because, apart from John, whose time, much though I love him, has come, there is nobody I want to leave.

I'm also sad that we are passed the half way point - we need to savour every moment from now on.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

What will tonight hold for John and Christine?

I'm going to stick my neck out now and say that I am worried about both John and Christine for tonight. I love John to bits and he has made this season of Strictly really enjoyable. Kristina has shown that she is a very clever choreographer, playing to John's strengths. However, is it now time for them to bow out gracefully and keep the best dancers in the competition. I'm not one of the ideological purists who believe that Strictly is a dance competition. It's a Saturday night light entertainment show and John does entertain us. There's always a tension at about this stage of the competition as better dancers are sometimes voted off to keep the entertainers in. Sometimes that annoys me, but it's just part of the show.

By the looks of the footage on ITT, it seems that Craig is wild about Heather's tango so I expect high marks for her which will insulate her from the bottom 2. Jodie is on a roll at the moment, and her Samba looks marvellous. If Rachel's smooth doesn't excite Len, it's time to start putting viagra in his tea, frankly. Cherie's waltz is fabulous and suits her down to the ground. Christne's jive has received approval from the judges so far, and I hope that she can pull it off after a couple of rocky weeks. Christine and Cherie started well and have faltered in the past few weeks while Jodie started badly and is improving immeasurably. My worry is that if Christine ends up in the bottom 2 with any of the other girls, she'll go.

I haven't mentioned Tom or Austin yet as I am assuming that they are safe - but is that a dangerous thing to do?

At this point, I can't think of a single one of them that I actually want to see go. It's quite early to get to that stage which is an indicator of how high the standard is this year.

A few years ago on the Strictly forums, we had this mega thread going called "No-one Should Leave. In it we outlined ever more outrageous tactics for keeping everyone in the show for ever more. It was very funny, and went from the absurd to the ridiculous and back again on every page. Perhaps it is time to resurrect it.

Anyway, I'm out tonight for dinner with a friend who leaves the area tomorrow so I won't bbe able to watch the show until the morning. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Strictly Beats X Factor

Yippee! Strictly beat the X Factor in an award voted for by the public at the National TV Awards tonight.

Simon Cowell and the X Factor judges did not look happy..........

Tess, the judges and Alesha were among those accepting the award. Tess paid tribute to Bruce, as well.

Austin and Erin did a bit of their Quickstep, which looked fabulous, on stage.

Good to see people power work to give Strictly a well deserved first place.......

Monday, 20 October 2008

Don's out - and Jennie's anger

Jennie has unleashed her anger at the voting public who were responsible for Don's exit.

I didn't really want to see him go either but thought it was inevitable that he would end up in the bottom two - although I was wrong and it was Heather who was there with him.

Neither Don nor Heather was the worst dancer. We reach a stage every year mid competition when the quality of the dancing loses out to personal popularity. Last year when Gabby and Penny were in the bottom two was a prime example of that. I guess there's no way round it.

We have the Paso Doble and Viennese Waltz to look forward to this week - bring on the capes...............

Saturday, 18 October 2008

A Return to the Ballroom

Well, I've been a bit rubbish at maintaining this blog - I think that any hope of consistent daily updates on Strictly vanished the minute the writ for the Glenrothes by-election was moved. Hopefully normal service will be resumed for the 8 November show and I'll dip in and out of here as often as I can.

I got back in time tonight to see Heather and Brian hit the floor. I have to say I agreed with the Judges. Their samba didn't have any of the atmosphere that it really needed to have.

I have Lisa and Brendan and Rachel and Vincent recorded and will comment on them when I can get near the tv again.

As far as the others were concerned:

Cherie and James confirmed their status as top dogs of the competition with a fabulous American Smooth. She is so precise and almost perfect with her movements. They danced the best rumba in Strictly history last week. We are usually lucky if we see a competent rumba, but that one had poignancy, romance, sensuality and technique in spades.

Andrew and Ola, bless them, were a disaster from start to finish. I thought very cruel thoughts as I was watching them and am probably a very bad person if I share them with you - he was more Frankenstein than Fred Astaire. The disastrous attempted lift at the end was a sorry end to a routine that had never delivered.

The best thing about Mark and Hayley's segment was a glimpse of the gorgeous John Barrowman, drafted in to teach Mark to act. He did show a bit of his personality during their performance, but he wasn't that great at doing the actual dancing - Arlene said that it looked like he'd forgotten to dance. He also wore a ghastly fishnet thing which did him no favours. I'm no great fan of musclemen which puts him at a signficant disadvantage. Mind you I'm sure that being the object of my lust is not high on his list of priorities.

Jodie and Ian on the other hand were a bit of a revelation - the judges said she was the dark horse - a remark previously given to Carol Smillie. Their Smooth was smooth and elegant and they did enough to keep her in the top half of the leader board.

Christine and Matthew's Samba was their best yet. Technically it wasn't perfect but spiritually it was bright, vibrant, full of bounce and happiness. Christine wore a stunning pink dress and those two are even more convincing as a fabulous partnership. I felt that their 30 was actually undermarked.

John and Kristina were never really going to set the world alight with their latin. The risk was that he would look like a drunk uncle at a wedding. He actually pulled it off - sure, it was slow and more measured than a samba should be, but it was fun, especially when you consider that he'd only trained 10 hours this week. He'd come a long way in a short time. The Judges were astonishingly cruel. I would happily horsewhip Craig for giving him a 2 - and I'm a pacifist - if I didn't think he'd enjoy it. John's bottom of the leaderboard. He was unworried, asserting that the public would save him in a funny rather than arrogant way. I hope that we do.

Don and Lilia got more flack than they deserved. I thought he had a bit of Hollywood panache in there some of the time. His posture wasn't always fabulous, and the lifts weren't particularly smooth, but was ok.

Last up was bridegroom to be Tom with his partner Camilla. They were the Smooth of the night, pipping Cherie and James with their glamorous, connected, dazzling performance. I personally would have taken marks off for the colour of Camilla's outfit the pink bit clashed with the crimson trousers, but the design was gorgeous.

Tess's Dress long, dark blue, one sleeved - very nice.

Angel Judge Bruno for a comment about Tom being better at spinning than Alastair Campbell

Devil Judge Craig, for that 2, and giving Don a 3, the same as Gary's much worse jive.

Brucie's Balls Ups I actually didn't notice any tonight - and Simon Cowell, who's half his age, got a contestant's name on the X Factor wrong.

Who's going to go? Don, I reckon. It'll be he and Mark in the dance off and Arlene won't be able to stop herself from picking Mark. The GMTV vote will save Andrew and the political/grey vote will save John.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The Boys go again - and why I'm really scared

As I write this I'm conscious that they will be filming the results show and I just hope that my multitudinous votes for my favourite will be enough to save the day. I know I won't be able to resist a wee peek later.

Anyway, the show started with Bruce seemingly shocking the audience with a gag about John Sergeant looking like Jo Brand - well, I thought it was funny, not least because it's not only true but he has the same characterstics and humour as she does.

As the couples paraded on, there were dresses to admire as usual. Cherie has one heck of a figure for her age which was enhanced by her red sheath with fleshy cutouts in all the right places. Erin's was gorgeous - turquoise, shiny, off one shoulder, but Karen's did her no favours - she looked like she had been shrink wrapped in pink tinfoil.

So, on to the dances:

Austin and Erin Wow is all that can be said really - a well deserved 34 points, two 9s, with the boy showing he can do Latin and well as ballroom. It was everything a jive should be - joyful, light, good timing, delightful kicks and flicks. I probably do have to point out the fact that he was wearing a sequinned sleeveless black waistcoat thing which showed off extremely muscly arms. Arlene said "beat that if you can" in a most menacing way. Len said that although he recognised the difficulty of doing perfect flicks and kicks and giving bounce with the supporting leg, he didn't like it when Austin winked at him - who knows, he may have got a 10 if he hadn't done that. Bruno loved it - said they wer "pumping and riding with devilish confidence". It was one hell of a show opener.

It was a bit of a shame that Mark and Hayley had to follow that. I actually thought that it was a bit dull and hesitant. The footwork was competent, but it wasn't going to set the heather on fire.

In giving them 24 marks overall, Craig said it had been a vast improvement on last time when he said that it was d - u - l - l. Arlene implored Hayley to get Mark to an actng coach. Len said that his footwork had been dodgy and it had been longwinded at the start but it was basically an ok effort.

Gary and Karen were third up. Gary had had a troubled week with a fairly major barney with Karen in training cos he wasn't getting the jive at all - a bit of a shame because it is Karen's dance. After landing magical Mark Ramprakash and the delightful Bill Turnbull, it now looks as though Karen is being made to kiss her share of frogs, with Brian last year and Gary this year. It may just be me, but I feel that there's a bit of a concerted effort to keep Gary in - he gets a fair number of mentions on ITT, for a start.

Anyway his jive wasn't the train wreck we had been expecting but it wasn't great. A lot of the time he was posing while Karen did the work in her impossible dress which looked like it should have been more suitable for an Argentine Tango.

The judges' comments could have been worse. Arlene said he had enthusiasm but he needed to stop counting in his head and just feel the music. Bruno said that it had "more holes than the moon" and Craig said that it "wasn't dance disaster" before awarding them just 3 of his 18 points. It was nice to see Karen acknowledge the support Gary had had from all the other professionals and celebrities. In a more telling comment she said "Let us do a ballroom and we'll go". So how well does she really get on with Gary?

Next up were John and Kristina. Now, they weren't as good as the waltz. I had suspected that they would play it for laughs rather than anything else because I just didn't think John was capable of doing the hard gaucho man for the tango. He had said before that the real drama was whether the beautiful Kristina would succeed with him. He said that they had developed a sophisticated relationship where he did what she said.

The dance itself was much as I had thought. It had reasonably competent footwork but not much of the intensity and passion and drama that a tango requires. They went down the steps in hold which I think must be hard. Bruno was quite funny - said that he danced like a jolly godfather after a couple of pints but it worked. He added that Hayley was a bit like Diana Dors but there was no sex because they just couldn't be bothered.

Arlene was topical by saying that it started with the drama of Mandelson's return to the Cabinet but that John really had enjoyed it too much. Len stated that posture couldn't be done after a certain age, but that the footwork was lovely and the attitude was all there.

Craig appalled me by only giving a 3, stating that John was too nice to do the Tango. To equate his effort with Gary Rhodes' was plain wrong.

They finished on 22 points, which is quite scary.

Andrew and Ola followed with their Tango which was, to be honest, not great. The music choice was pretty rubbish - 20th Century Boy and there was a part where Andrew had to headbang in a painful reminder of the school disco. It would have been bad enough for an experienced dancer who was getting the dance. Andrew just didn't manage the hold, as his flexed knees implored him to stick his bum out. Ola's beautiful black and white dress couldn't hide what was behind.

Bruno came up with what I thought was the quote of the night by saying that the dance was like a house with subsidence held together by hope but then said that ht had been painful to watch. Andrew revealed, in what must have been a blatant appeal for votes, that he had been rehearsing naked in the bedroom - but hadn't expected his wife to wake up to see him.

They finished on 22, equal to John.

Tom and Camilla had it all, really - they had Tom's good looks and Camilla's very funky gold dress and black knee boots. Jiving away to Black and Gold, they were good and Tom wasn't as flat footed as the training suggested he would be. However, I didn't think it was as fabulous as Austin and Erin's. The timing wasn't perfect and the flicks and kicks weren't so good. However, the judges were falling over themselves with hyperbole. Arlene said "let the sparring begin". Len said that Austin and Tom were carrying the flag for the boys. They ended up with 33 points, just a single mark separating them. To be honest I thought it was 3,maybe 4 marks worse and wonder why this series is being set up to be some sort of gladatorial fight between the two of them.

The final couple up tonight were Don and Lilia. Their tango was intense, sensual and dramatic. Lilia wore a black and red dress that slit to the thigh to hammer that point home. The judges couldn't get enough of it and gave it a 30 which to be honest was probably a little more than they deserved although it was the best tango of the night.

Len, with his inimitable way with words told Don that he was a "gnat's scrotum" from being eliminated two weeks previously but he could be proud tonight.

Now the reason I'm scared is because, although Gary is on the bottom, the public saved him last time and he does have a wide fan base. Andrew and John are equal on 22 but Andrew has the GMTV fan base. I am most fearing a dance off between Mark and John and I'm scared that the Judges would save Mark and put competence over character.

I have voted for John a fair few times and hope he makes it through.

Now off to the forums to see if the result's through yet........

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Andrew's Angst

Andrew Castle was on ITT tonight giving a fairly frank impression of the fear he is going through and how he just occasionally hits a wall. He deals with it by nipping out for 15/20 minutes and switches his mobile off just to have some time by himself.

Unfortunately, Craig gave him no reason to feel reassured by being fairly scathing about his tango - you couldn't deny, though, that he was sticking his bum out. You would think to hear Craig talk that this was the equivalent of eating babies for breakfast, but at least Flavia explained how difficult it was for the men to maintain hold and flex their knees for the Tango.

We got an insight into the life of Gary Rhodes. As you would expect, he hardly sleeps, getting up at 4.30 am to go to the gym. Unlike most of us, this doesn't involve going out in the freezing cold and dark - he just ambles down the corridor in his house. We saw him go through his day from visiting his restaurant to cooking with Phil and Fern on This Morning to book signings to radio interviews - and when he'd finished all that, he had to go training with Karen. No wonder his jive looked so limp.

Unfortunately we didn't see John's tango on the midweek reports, but there was praise for Don's dramatic opening to his.

I can't wait to see Austin's jive - you would think the guy was a professional - he looked fantastic, light on his feet, in complete unison with Erin.

Tom got pelters for being too heavy on his feet and not taking small enough steps - he had rhythm though and I bet his pretty face will see him through.

Mark's tango didn't come in for much good comment - his posture wasn't great and he just didn't seem to be getting into the spirit of it. I suspect he might finish quite low down on Saturday night.

The show ended with an interview with Vincent and Rachel. Vincent is growing on me. He used to annoy me because I thought he was totally serious about himself, but now I am starting to think that actually, he's just taking the mickey. He and Rachel seem to get on really well. Her fiance, Alex, was filmed at one of their training sessions and he seems lovely.

I'm now a bit worried cos Claudia promised us Marian Keyes on Saturday and she wasn't mentioned as being on the show tomorrow. I hope she's not going to be hidden away in the Friday Panel. I couldn't bear it if she didn't have her own slot. The woman is a total legend.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Get me some smelling salts......

.....because Marian Keyes, Irish novelist guaranteed to have me in fits and giggles, is on ITT this week..........

Claudia gets to do the EastEnders drum roll

It was good to see Claudia with a bit of her old spark back - she was all excited about having been given a wee button to push that would make the drum roll that marks the end of an EastEnders episode. She did say that she would be bound to get the sack for playing with it too much.

She talked to Gillian and Anton who did seem to get on very well and were obviously disappointed to be out so soon. Gillian spoke about how all the celebs got on so well with each other to the extent that she couldn't name who she wanted to win. Anton, not surprisingly, plumped for Austin and Erin, who really are in with a chance.

Claudia was wearing that black strapless dress again which does her no favours - she is way too thin for it. Even on HD Tv she would look like she needed a few hot dinners.

The girls show how it's done

Well, I think the girls whipped the boys' backsides this week. Their hesitant start last week was not an accurate barometer of their ability.

Who would have thought that Cherie Lunghi would have been the star of the show - her Foxtrot was brilliant? Rachel Stevens surpassed the already high expectations of her with a sizzling and complicated salsa.

I thought the judges were really unfair to Lisa. She did some really complicated stuff including a squatting spin type thing which must have been almost impossible to control and she got no recognition for it. To give her the same mark as Gillian and Anton was, frankly, insulting.

Gillian and Anton weren't quite as tragic as they looked on Friday - it was ok but fairly simple. It was quite funny when Bruce said to Anton that he was grateful that Anton had managed to fit Strictly in around all his other TV commitments.

Christine and Matthew's Foxtrot was graceful, elegant and had a fragile beauty about it.

Heather's salsa was good and lively but it needed a few more punches in places.

Jodie and Ian were a lot more elegant and graceful than had previously been anticipated but the judges weren't overly impressed.

Jessie and Darren's salsa was a bit lacking in attitude - Kat Slater would have done it a lot more justice. It was all a it sloppy and deserved its position at bottom of the leaderboard

The boys hit back with a merengue that had its moments - Austin and Erin and Tom and Camilla were by far the best. I thought John Sergeant would be embarrassing but he was ok - although better in the bits where the camera wasn't focussed on him. He made me laugh when he said that he had lost over a stone in weight and was doing all sorts of sensible eating - including cutting out his lunchtime glass of wine. Presumably his dinner glass(es) remain intact!

Brucie's Balls-Ups: I'm not doddery, doddery I am not. Just stop that. Please. It's not funny and it looked like the audience didn't think so either.

Tess's Dress a clinging strapless red dress with buttons, which was so tight she couldn't lift her leg when doing her little dance with Bruce at the top of the show.

Angel Judge Len, for not being evil about Gillian and Anton

Devil Judge Craig, for having a go at Lisa

Who's going to go I would have said Gillian and Anton anyway. It has been quite predictable so far this year......

The results show had Tess in a short dress in what John Sweeney would have described as a homicidal purple.

After performances by the new professional dancers, the boys again with a slightly different version of their merengue and the Sugababes, the results were in.

Jessie's name was called second which made it inevitable that Gillian and Anton would be in the bottom two. They were joined there by Jodie and Ian and from that point it was just a question of going through the motions. Jodie and Ian did perform extremely well and had taken on many of the Judges' comments under pressure. Gillian and Anton were sporting enough to applaud them enthusiastically and then took to the floor for what they must have known would be the last time.

The Judges were very complimentary about Jodie and Ian before sending Gillian on her way.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Real Life intervenes

This weekend's Strictly watching has been rudely interrupted by real life - I got in from work last night with enough time to be blown away by Christine and Matthew's beautiful and emotional foxtrot before rushing out again. I'm now, at 7.15 am about to head off again to work.

The reports of the shows will come, but maybe not until tomorrow.

Friday, 26 September 2008

The Tension Builds - Friday's ITT

Now, unless I am very much mistaken, ITT is recorded in Covent Garden and the main show is recorded in TV Centre in Shepherd's Bush, so the last segment where Claudia rushed from one studio to another in seconds was clearly nonsense. We weren't born yesterday, producers, don't insult us............

However Claudia did get to walk on the hallowed floor. Anton was her guide and then he and Gillian played out the show with a snippet from their dance. Let's just hope they are keeping their lights under a bushel because I have more razzle dazzle in me when I'm snoring my heart out at 4am than they showed. Oh dear..........

Prior to this last week's top and bottom of the leaderboard, Austin and Erin and Gary and Karen were on the sofa. Both are doing the jive next time round and Austin made the point that they all had 3 or 4 weeks to learn the first dance and the shorter time scale blows their minds a bit.

Gary said that he wasn't so bothered by the Judges, and esepcially Craig's treatment of him last weekend.

Jason Donovan, Len and Arlene made up the Friday Panel. Now, Jason virtually asked for a place on a future series by admitting that his daughter loved the show and that he had never really danced. Now, wouldn't that be good:-)

Cherie is wearing a very floaty green dress, Heather is wearing a very short green dress and Lisa is wearing a very short blink and you'll miss it blue dress.

Len wasn't so taken with Jessie or Lisa - Len's ok is Craig's dire.

It will all be fun tomorrow night.......

Thursday's ITT

A double dose of ITT tonight - it was too late to blog last night by the time I saw it.

A charming interview with James and Cherie who actually seem to get on. In series 4, he and Georgina plainly couldn't stand the sight of each other, and last year he and Gabby's competitive tendencies in stereo put many off. James is at the most likeable I've ever seen him. Don't think I've suddenly fallen for his charms, because these things are relative, but I think this partnership could go places.

There was a trip round the training rooms from the good (Rachel, Cherie, Lisa, Heather, Christine) to the average (Jessie, Jodie) to the tragic (Gillian). The one thing which might save Gillian is her personality. Claudia was trying to big her up as the one who brings everyone together.

It was also time to meet the new professionals - heaven knows what Russian Krisina Rihannof has been told about John Sergeant, cos she's certainly making out that he's some kind of demi-God. I hadn't ealsied that it's the first one of these shows for her, while Hayley and Brian have done DWTS in New Zealand and the US respectively.

Salsa king Brian melted when confronted with a birthday video from his family, which was a nice touch. He seems like a genuine Darren Bennet sort.

I do cringe a bit when Claudia reads bits from the forums, and I just hope that it's researchers who look them up for her. Computers near Claudia should be the equivalent of spinning wheels in the world of Sleeping Beauty. Keep her away from them. There are too many threads going on about how old and tired she looks.

She's lost way too much weight, but give her a break.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Cutler Fighting to the Death?

Tonight's ITT gems:

The male professionals having a bit of a testosterone fuelled rant about who was going to win. Matthew Cutler said something about fighting to the death to keep his trophy. Cut to Claudia saying that whenever Matthew comes in to them, he's so sweet and always makes people coffee - fight to the death? I don't think so:-)

James Jordan was typically bullish in a way that will not endear him to the public. Apparently he likes his fellow professionals but he doesn't care who he has to step on to win. I don't think he's done himeslf any favours.

Craig came in to give his opinion of the girls' training for Saturday night - Rachel and Lisa got the thumbs up, although apparently Lisa needs to get her bum further back into Brendan's crotch. Hmmmm.

You could tell he was trying not to be too awful to Gillian and Anton, presumably as not to give them the sympathy factor, but he didn't have much good to say. They have trained the least, apparently.

He liked Cherie and James' effort and had some praise for Jessie and Darren, although she would have to sort out some of her lines as they were't very ladylike. Kat Slater clearly lives on.......... He also liked what Matthew and Christine were doing, although there are some gapping issues that they will have to deal with.

Claudia seems to be covering up more as the week goes on - tonight trousers and long sleeved, high necked top.

Another highlight was footage of Rachel teasing Vincent about his lisp.

No signs of great tension, people are still having fun. Jodie says she knows the dance really well and she's just going to try and relax on Sunday night.

Tomorrow is Jessie's and Jodie's birthday so cakes and celebrations were had.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Boys on the Couch

A jolly episode of ITT tonight. The highlights included an interview with Lilia and Don, talking about is nerves on Saturday and how the tango will suit him. Lilia said that she had thought they were out and had prepared herself mentally.

Then a cosy little session with John, Tom, Andrew and Mark. John had the mickey taken out of him for spending so much time sitting down reading the paper. Andrew definitely has the mark of a wee boy in a sweetie shop. He made several references to the women on Strictly - firstly teasing John for sitting there reading the paper when he was with one of the sexiest women on the planet, and then sounding completely mesmerised by Ola, saying nobody would notice him when they were dancing. He had to be reminded that she had a husband and he had a wife!

Claudia pointed out to Tom that the first to dance each year had made it to the final - he almost swallowed his tongue with horror and said that she jinxed him. Cue innocent look from Claudia and a comment that "nobody could hear me".

Andrew revealed that Ola fines him a tenner every time he looks down. Comedian Will Smith later pointed out that it was a bit mean to do that and then wear the explosive outfit she did on Saturday night.

Claudia told Mark that the forums were going nuts for his body and then showed a photo of his well defined 6 pack. I have to say this does nothing for me - way too many muscles, so all the forum girls are welcome to him. Andrew tried to make out that they had put a photo of Mark's head on his own body but nobody really believed him.

A comic take on Saturday night was given by comedians Rob Dering and Will Smith. They derided Arlene's advice to Phil,I think it was, as unhygienic and not good for kitchen equipment or the dancer.

Claudia was wearing a smart black dress, with shoulders, this time. I think all the guests should bring in strawberry tarts for her to eat because she does look incredibly thin. If TV puts ten pounds on you, then she must be positively skeletal in real life.

Tomorrow we have girls on the couch and Craig's midweek review........

Monday, 22 September 2008

Go Claudia

So it was the first ITT tonight.

The shorn Claudia, still in her strapless dress from Saturday night - don't know if she'd had it on all the time since then, but you know what I mean, held court for the first time this year. Her shoulders are way too bony and need covering up!

They'd sent Alesha Dixon to do the behind the scenes bit of the show - she of course was the one who didn't get to do that last year.

The girls seemed worse than the boys in terms of nerves.

Phil and Flavia then joined Claudia for the exit interview. It seems that Phil was just completely overtaken with nerves on Saturday night. He was given a wee glitterball for his trouble. It's a shame they went out in some ways because they seemed to have such fun in training.

Len and Craig fell out across the miles (Len is in the US for Dancing with the Stars) over the eviction. Claudia was trying to get them to calm down, reminding them that there was months to go. Arlene felt very strongly that Phil had more potential if he could just get over his nerves. Craig said that Don made loads of mistakes and couldn't understand why he had been saved.

Then came Lisa and Brendan - a changed Brendan, apparently, not the grumpy git we've come to know and love. Apparently he's great to work with because a) he's loved up and b) Lisa is on his wavelength. The bit of her salsa they showed looked good.

Tomorrow's has Andrew Castle and John Sergeant. We're off..............

Sunday, 21 September 2008

The First Results show

Well, maybe it's beginner's luck, but I do seem to have managed to predict the bottom two. I like the fact that we are getting a whole hour for the results show.

You are never going to see huge amounts of quality in the first show, so it was good to see Alesha back, performing that routine to Crazy in Love, dressed in shocking pink. The chemistry with Matt was immediately re-created and she has apparently given loads of confidence to Matt's new partner, the beautiful Christine Bleakley. Like Camilla, he seems to get the beautiful people, too:-)

The professional dancers performed a Foxtrot to show the girls how it's done next week. I have to say that I don't really like this change of format. Week 2 always used to be Quickstep and Rumba. The Rumba is the slowest Latin dance, although I agree with Anton Du Beke that it's a very silly one, but easiest of the Latin for the girls to master. The pace of the Quickstep was mitigated somewhat by the fact that the girls were in hold. It's a bit mean to give them the Salsa, which not only requires pace and barely there clothing (better to wait few more weeks until they've trained themselves down a few dress sizes) and the Foxtrot which is just darned difficult. It's hard to watch let alone dance.

We then had all 32 dancers perform together to "I'm so Excited". I was more traumatised, to be honest. That's probably unfair, but there wasn't much togetherness and synchronisation. Rachel seemed to know what she was doing, which was a good thing but Andrew Castle did not live up to his earlier promise, but looked a wee bit lost. I seriously think Cherie might be quite good at this - she just seems to have the attitude and the acting ability to pull it off.

I'm sure they could have managed the intro with Bette Midler better - it was all a bit stilted, but it was quite funny to see 30 year old footage of Bruce and her. She actually looked much better now than then. She sang Wind Beneath My Wings while James and Ola performed a lovely routine with some gravity defying lifts.

It's always hard to see someone go in the first show. I wish we could just see them all dance for a few weeks before we get rid of anybody. Gary and Karen looked very nervous and then delighted to get through to fight another day. The bottom 2 were Phil and Don. The judges were split too. I didn't want Don to go because of Lilia, but I felt Phil danced better in the dance off. His facial expressions were more relaxed. I thought Phil and Flavia were safe after Craig and Arlene picked them - then Bruno picked Don and Lilia. Len agreed with Bruno and because he's head judge, he had the casting vote.

Next week is going to be a real challenge for the girls. Will Vincent and Rachel be miles above the rest?

I almost forgot - how criminal - Claudia has had her hair cut and I'm not sure whether I like it or not. It's now a lot shorter, but the fringe is longer than it needs to be. She and Tess had a girly chat which didn't work because Tess just doesn't get Claudia.

This first weekend has shown great promise. Can't wait for the next 13 shows.....

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Results Show Policy

Thought I should let you know that this blog promises not to post the results before the results show has aired.

I know that the result is often up on the forums the night before and, to be honest, I can rarely prevent myself from looking there, but I don't think it's fair to post it before people have had a chance to see it on terrestrial tv.

Do you agree?

The First Show - 20 September

I love my life and I love my job, both of which bring me in contact with wonderful people, but both of which make me aware of the grim realities of life. Strictly Come Dancing is pure escapism into a land of fluffiness, pink and glitter. For three months of the year, we can all insulate ourselves from the Credit Crunch and global economic meltdown and just enjoy the fun, the traumas, the nerves, the sarcasm, the costumes and the hair, the professionals' performances and the judges' bile and occasional insight that make Strictly the number one Saturday night show.

The first show tonight was fabulous - Strictly is back with a vengeance. Having watched the launch show last week, I was a little concerned that if you fancied women you had a considerable advantage over those who fancied men. I did post what I thought of the couples on the other blog so I won't repeat myself here.

Anyway, let's get to it. First to dance on Strictly Series 6 were Tom and Camilla.

Boy, does she get the good looking ones - James Martin, Gethin Jones and now Tom. Wow. Now it looks like she has one that can dance from the start. I have to say that I thought the glimpse of chest hair on Tom was a good sign - I can't bear all this waxing nonsense - as was the fact that he was willing to wear a fairly uncompromosing shade of green for their cha cha cha.

But wow - he knows what hips are for, he knows how to move.

Dare we hope that Camilla finally has a finalist in her?

He also has the story in that he is getting married half way through this and has already cancelled his honeymoon

Presumably the money he's getting makes it worth his while.

Score 28 from the Judges who were delighted with his performance.

Laugh of the night was Craig Revel Horwood say that Tom was mincing.........

Phil and Flavia were next up. He is clearly a funny guy and the laughs he had with Flavia were reminiscent of the daft narratives she and Matt used to make up for their routines. Anyway at one point Phil described himself as Anton Du Berk, which brought the house down and earned the forevermore disapproval of hardcore Antonettes.

To be honest, there didn't seem to be a whole load of rise and fall in their waltz but his facial expressions were unbelievable. At times they were like he was enjoying a particularly satisfying bowel movement.

I had a good look at Arlene during the Judges' bit. She had been quoted in the media as having been worried that she had put on 1.5 stone since the last series. You couldn't really tell, to be honest.

Next up were Don and Lilia. He was much better than expected and seemed to have more than a vague idea of what his hips were for.

The biggest surprise of the whole show was Austin and Erin's waltz. It was gentle, had fabulous lines, good rise and fall and Austin showed he had a sense of humour. Erin looked absolutely gorgeous with a softer hair colour and seems to genuinely get on with her partner.

Arlene seemed to go into hormonal overdrive with Austin.

Len's 9 was probably a bit excessive but this pair were the clear victors tonight. Can they maintain the momentum?

It must have been hard for Mark and Hayley to follow that, but they did. Hayley wore a dress the colour of radioactive snot. I tended to agree wtih Arlene - their cha cha was all a bit sterile for me. Craig went over the top by saying it was dull, but maybe he was trying to make sure Mark stayed in. They had decent lines, but his face had too much of the toilet about it to make the routine work. Mark is also not free of Arlene's hormones.........

I am really worried about Gary and Karen. They have serious comedy potential despite the potential for cringeworthiness I spoke about in the other place. He danced the dance like he loved it but his technique wasn't always great. His arms were playing a different game completely and the bit where Karen bent down and he made all sorts of cookery related hand gestures over her back was a clever incorporation that should have been written out the first time it was seen in the mirror.

I was a bit worried about John and Kristina too. As a hardcore politico of many years' standing, I have come to admire John. However, I have to confess I thought he'd be rubbish at dancing - but no. It was strange. He looked like Toad of Toad Hall doing a waltz, but it didn't matter. It was the essence of charm. It was endearing and sweet and quite lovely. Could he rival Bill Turnbull, whose impact on the show, whose humour kept him in when dancing ability couldn't is second to none? Three years on, the Ballroom Bill forum is still alive and well on the Digital Spy Forum.

GMTV presenters have not traditionally done too well on Strictly. Could Andrew Castle buck the trend with Ola Jordan? Well, Ola was taking no chances. If dancing wouldn't work, then she was going to try for nudity. It looked like her arms and legs had been sprayed in black pvc whild her front and back were slahsed to within an inch of decency. Actually, that was entirely gratuitous, 'cos Andrew was ok - a bit slow, but there's potential. And he's a sportsman so there's likely to be motivation.

The girls then followed with their group dance, to Lady Marmalade, slowed down a bit to take account of their noviceness. It wasn't bad. Christine is beautiful and she was having fun which seemed to belie the press stories of her stress at the whole thing. Brendan hit Lisa in the face in rehearsals but the two looked fab. Cherie Lunghi showed that older women can still be sensual. Jessie looked cumbersome and Jodie looked far from the "bambi on ice" that Ian had mantioned in rehearsal. Gillian was playing it for laughs and Vincent and Rachel just smouldered. Heather and Brian looked like they had gelled as a dancing partnership, too.

So, the regular features:

Brucie's Balls-Up He cracked a joke about Lilia being too young to watch Don in Rising Damp, which was as far as it should have went. He then went into the "I'm doddery" bit a bit too much.

Tess's Dress A simple fushcia pink srapless number. For some reason her boobs seemed to have sunk a bit by the end of the show.

Angel Judge Bruno. I loved his comment about Don and Lilia's dance - " there were more wrong turns and bad timing than in Gordon Brown's cabinet."

Devil Judge Craig, for giving Gary 1. Totally unnecessary.

Who's Going to Go? Phil or Don. Please not Gary and Karen - not the second year running for her........

Hope you enjoyed the first instalment. See you tomorrow night after the Results show.

An Introduction

Three years on from when I initially caught the Strictly Bug big time, I thought I would like to try my hand at blogging my way through a season. Please feel free to come along and join in an appreciation of what I think is the best show on television.

I thought that some readers of my other blog, being the hardened politicos they are, might get a bit fed up of frequent Strictly posts, so I thought I'd set up an alternative site for my Strictly postings.

I shall probably play around with the format a bit for the first while but I thought that the major things to include each week would be:

Brucie's Balls-Ups - I love this man to distraction. He has been entertaining me on Saturday nights for pretty much all of my life But, like Murray Walker in F1, he fluffs it sometimes - but in an entirely enjoyable way.

Tess's Dress

The Best and Worst of the Judges

Who's going to go?

I like to think of this as a democratic blog, so please feel free to make your suggestions for what should be included. I am a huge fan of the Digital Spy Strictly Forum and I'm tempted to make a posting of the week accolade - but I can't go through them all myself, so need some help from participants making suggestions in comments to each main weekly show posting.

I also hope to try and keep up with the wonderful Claudia on It Takes Two. She is a completely wonderful, random and slightly bonkers woman and she gets the information we want out of the dancers.

So, slap on the sequins and the lycra and learn your voltas from your botafogos and enjoy a glittery and carefree glide to Christmas.............