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.............