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.