First of all, I was completely gobsmacked to discover that this little blog has been linked to by none other than the great Lib Dem Voice in a post by the funny, sometimes profane and slightly wicked Jennie. Jennie has written an article for Lib Dem Voice telling everybody that they can change the world by blogging. Now, there's absolutely zero politics in this post, so if you're reading this and half thinking about blogging but worrying that you have to be a white, male, with famous friends to do it properly, go and read her post and she will have you blogging beautifully within the hour, I promise.
Anyway the link itself has motivated me to write a preview of tonight's semi-final. Before I even go there though, I have to recount a totally brilliant Claudia Winkleman moment from last night's It Takes Two. She had on John Pienaar, the BBC's political correspondent along with a sports journalist and a royal correspondent who tells us that Camilla is apparently mad on the show. Pienaar was saying how Peter Mandelson would love to be on the show. Claudia came out instantly with one of her classic lines "that look of death would be perfect for the Tango." I wonder if she's being interrogated in a Whitehall basement as I write this.....
I expect the three Strictly semi-finalists are full of nerves as they prepare for their two dances in tonight's show. All are doing the lustful, actually downright filthy, passionate, Argentine Tango and a dance of their own choice which they've revamped from earlier in the series.
Ricky and Natalie have chosen to do the Waltz which they did on their ballroom debut. They made a reasonable job of it, too. 33 for a debut is pretty amazing.
The thing about Ricky is that he's not had such a marked improvement since then. He' not had the leap that both the others have had. The weeks when he's done badly have really been because he hasn't had time to practice, not because he can't do the dance. You can tell when he's trained for 12 hours and when he's trained for 20, but that's about it.
With Ali and Brian, they had a good start but then Ali's skills have had to develop. She's a good actress, but she can't always manage to bring the emotion of the dance into her performance. Mind you I can't criticise her because I certainly couldn't write a blog posting while learning to ride a unicycle. She's technically very good, and an extremely elegant and graceful dancer, though. Alesha said she had the best arms of any female celebrity ever and I think she's right. I thought her Samba last week was the best I'd seen since Zoe Ball's, full of party spirit and technically excellent. I do get annoyed with the judges telling the female dancers that they need to be passionate and sexy, though. Not all of us are like that and I don't mind the occasional bit of wholesome on my dancefloor. I wonder what their Argentine Tango will bring. It certainly looked good in the training footgage. I have to say, Lisa Snowdon last year came in for the same criticism as Ali's getting but her Argentine Tango was the sexiest thing I'd seen in a long time.
Here's a reminder:
For their second dance, Team Awesome are doing the American Smooth, which will suit Ali perfectly. Here's their first effort.
And finally we have Team Cola. These two are one of Strictly's legendary partnerships, along with Bill and Karen, Anton and Kate and Darren and Lilia. Chris has brought out a warmth and sense of fun I previously hadn't really noticed before in Ola. While Chris might not be technically brilliant, and he might forget the steps sometimes, he sells every single dance and he's enjoying himself. Who can forget their brilliant Charleston which made up in cheek what little it lacked in technique?
Ola's taken an enormous risk by going for a Rumba for their second dance. Again this was their debut dance and he performed what is an awkward dance for the celebrity very well for such an early stage in the competition. How well it will sit on Week 13, I don't know, especially when the first dance has a required element of passion. While Ricky and Ali are going for contrast, Ola and Chris just clamber down the smut-o-meter a bit.
This has all the ingredients of a dramatic semi-final - but then we have the added element of the dance-off being removed. I have to say that I think this favours Chris who would almost certainly have been in it but I think it's absolutely the right decision. The X Factor abandons the sing off for the last 3 weeks and I think there's an argument for Strictly to do the same.
Whatever happens tonight, a really good dancer is going to go out - unless, of course, for the second year running, we have some sort of muck up with their voting system so they can all go through to the final. If anyone can arrange this, I'll buy you a gingerbread latte! And if you can bring Natalie Cassidy back too, I'll spike it with rum.
I'm off to open the Rioja, make the dinner and put my feet up and enjoy. See you later.