I'm having a bit of a guilt trip that Tess wore a long dress after reading what I wrote yesterday about her knees. It was a very fetching purple one shouldered number. Her hair looked like last night's style had fallen out. I do get upset every single year about this - you would have think that by series 8 she would have learned to point her toes at the end of the wee dance with Bruce. Don't her daughters learn about good toes/bad toes at the dance classes they must go to?
Anyway, tonight it was Jimi and Flavia who were first up. Flavia, so the intro said, had cut her hair back to the 2007 style and her mission was to get back to the final like she did then. Their routine was a bit gangly and there wasn't enough gratuitous chest flashing, but there were some fast moves in there. However, I really don't think it was worth the 2 marks more than Felicity's that Craig gave it even though he was much more scathing about it, saying he was like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. Flavia's choreography was a joy to watch but he did seem to be walking through parts of it at times. A good, pacy opener to the show, though.
Next up were Erin and Peter. Their waltz was quite simply choreographed by ballroom expert Erin Boag, but Peter looked awkward and tight for most of it and although Alesha said he smiled through it, his facial expression looked more like a grimace to me.His arms were quite unpleasant to look at. T Dropping Erin at the end was not a moment he'll want to remember. She is such a trooper. She fell down, went through his legs and got herself into a smiling, graceful finishing position.
The one we were all waiting for was Michelle and Brendan's Cha Cha Cha. She's been touted as the one to watch and we've seen some fun and feistiness in the training room, she has the longest legs I've ever seen, and she's obviously been in a girl group. It all fell a bit flat, though - a bit unsure and tentative and limp, not to put too fine a point on it. She and Brendan looked fantastic together but her wish to have nothing less than an 8 was never going to be fulfilled. The judges told her to work on strength through her legs to produce a better hip action. Craig was quite mean, saying it was a big disappointment and Len talked about bad technique. I love Michelle as a character because she just took it and said she was going to work on her legs to get them like rugby player Gavin's.
Then we had Gavin and Katya. It looked like he was trying to get her into some sort of head lock at the start. I'm surprised that Len didn't have a go at them for taking ages to get into hold. However, he had good posture, lots of rise and fall and more precision in his footwork than I expected. He did look a bit grim and scary though and didn't have the tenderness that the dance required. The judges were much more positive about it than I felt it deserved - I thought it deserved to be around 3 marks less than Scott's, not a mere 1.
Gavin is a bit dour, so we needed a bit of cuteness - and we got it as candyfloss couple Tina and Jared hit the floor. Tina was in a quite demure pink dress with silver hotpants underneath, Jared in geeky checked trousers with a bright pink shirt and a mustard coloured bow tie. They totally played up to the High School Musical theme, with Jared starting the routine with his head in a book, albeit a sparkly one. The routine was pretty simple but incredibly cute to watch. The judges don't often criticise the professionals, but Jared was told to challenge Tina a lot more with his choreography. They'll be around for a while though because they are just lovely.
The absolutely most anticipated and talked about couple, although not always in a good way, were up next. There was a small glimpse of Anton in cardigan and tie in training which made me almost lose consciousness. Anne's dress was a full bright pink affair that looked like it was made of PVC with a silvery spangly jacket. She actually looked good. I think a sigh of relief went round the entire nation like a Mexican wave as she said that she didn't want to pull off any dance moves that wouldn't be appropriate in front of the Pope. But on to the routine. Anton had his fixed grin on which is not usually a good sign, but, actually, it was better than I thought it was going to be. I never expected to use the words endearing and Ann Widdecombe in the same sentence but it was. It was enjoyable and nostalgic and Anton's clever choreography as usual showed his partner off as best as possible. I'm glad they weren't last, beating Paul Daniels by a point. Next week they've got the Salsa which is bound to be hilarious.
Ann has exactly the right, realistic attitude to it. They seem to be doing nothing but laughing during their training. If only Strictly had been around in the 90s, we could have had her on every year and she wouldn't have been able to do some of the truly wicked things she did as a Home Office Minister. I have to say that I just love Anton more than ever now.
In complete contrast to the previous two acts, Kara Tointon vamped it up to a level only just acceptable on a family show broadcast at 6pm. She wore a flesh coloured leopard print, well there wasn't enough of it to say dress, but I can't think of another word. She had black lipstick, a black leather choker, hair scraped back into the most severe ponytail. You get the idea. Artem her partner in a black leather hooded waistcoat and nothing else on top. We saw him flashing his nipples in training as well. The routine had heat and passion and technique. She fell quite early on but managed to recover her momentum. I'd like the Jury's opinion on whether both feet stayed on the floor during the last spin, though. She got 30 despite having a fall so this definitely bodes well for the future.
In general, though, apart from the final performance of by a very sexy looking Robbie Williams and a very dad like looking Gary Barlow, Friday night kicked last night's backside by some margin. One whinge, though - what is the point of having a professional dance troupe if you don't use it? Having said that, if they had, we wouldn't have had the fun of reading Lilia's hilarious tweets as she and Darren spent the evening with Camilla Dallerup and her husband Kevin Sacre.
I can't wait until next week now - although I've just realised that I'm not actually going to be around for the next two shows. Next week is Scottish Liberal Democrat conference which doesn't finish until 7, and the week after, Anna and I are at Doctor Who Live. We had booked for the Thursday performance which was cancelled. Someone will need to please tweet me the voting numbers I'll need.
As I write, we are just over 24 hours from the first It Takes Two of the series with the eccentric and hilarious Claudia Winkleman. If you live in Scotland and you are recording it through the infernal wickedness of Sky Plus, don't forget to set it up on BBC London or at least not Scotland because remember we don't get it on a Thursday up here.
With ITT every weeknight and the results show being moved back to Sunday, this means that tonight is the last night there won't be any Strictly on the telly until 18th December. That thought alone makes me ridiculously happy.