Category Archives: Come Dance With Me

In which the rumba gets me a bit hot and bothered

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This week was another Strictly double whammy, and yet again I was away (wearing a befeathered hat at a lovely wedding in Wales) so relied on my good old DVR to capture both nights.  I didn’t get to watch them until Sunday and Monday nights which required staying away from newspapers and websites where I might have accidentally seen who got kicked out, but apart from a frantic scramble to turn Five off when I saw Karen Hardy being interviewed, I managed to watch it for myself without it being ruined.

Maybe because they had an extra week to practise, but this second group of celebrities seemed to fare better in their dancing.  There were still some tragic moments, though; Richard Dunwoody, bless him, didn’t fare too well  With his arms flailing all over the place, a complete and utter lack of rhythm and the inability oto keep in time with the music, he looked like looked like the kind of uncle who gets up to dance at weddings and manages to embarrass his young nieces and nephews with his lack of cool moves.  But a happy one – the grin never left his face, bless him.  Lilia, meanwhile, was equally smiley but rather than enjoyment it was a pasted on rictus grin that didn’t quite manage to cover up the pain she was feeling at being partnered with someone so inept.  To go from Darren Gough and Matt Dawson to a jockey unable to straighten his shoulders due to constant injury must be a little disheartening.

James Jordan and Zoe Lucker’s rumba was one of the highlights, although it left me feeling that I’d interrupted something I shouldn’t – a sentiment that was echoed by Craig’s comment of “it felt like we were watching something through a key hole”.  To be truthful, I did feel a little bit dirty afterwards, and in need of a shower.  But hey, she can dance, and that’s the most important thing.

Although I don’t think she’ll manage to survive very long, I’m rooting for Natalie Cassidy – good old Sonia.  She seems like such a nice person, and anyone who can put up with the pint size Italian cheese-meister that is Vincent deserves to stay in.

When it got down to Richard and Lilia versus Craig and Flavia in the dance off, it was pretty obvious who was going to stay.  Still, the judges can sometimes make surprising decisions (remembering the Gaby Logan/Penny Lancaster dance off from two years ago) so it never pays to be too complacent.  Craig the judge, predictably and swiftly, put Craig from Corrie through.  Alesha padded it out a bit, but followed suit.

Then came Bruno, who could make it or break it for either couple…

… and the programme abruptly ended.

Clearly agreeing with Middle England in its condemnation of the costumes, the DVR had decided to put its foot down.  The annoyance of not knowing nothwithstanding, its timing could not have been better in terms of comedy value – it cut out just as Bruno opened his mouth to deliver his verdict.  Luckily a quick scan of the internet confirmed what I thought: Bruno went with Flavia and Craig, and it was the end of the road for Lilia and Richard.

So we are down to 14 contestants and a show that is a little more manageable in terms of length.  I think the knives are being sharpened by the judges for Jo Wood, although the audience seem to like her – she could follow the footsteps of Kate Garraway and John Sergeant to become The Contestant That Always Gets Through, No Matter How Unco-ordinated They Are.

* Brucey blunder of the night: I can’t choose one this week as thanks to the joys of taped shows, I was able to fast forward through Bruce’s scripted “jokes” and not hear any of them.  Hurrah!

* Best judge’s comment of the night: “You’ve gone from magic to tragic” (Len to Phil Tufnell)

* Number of times Craig said “darling”: I lost count after the first 7

* Worst dance outfit of the night: Natalie Lowe’s rumba dress looked like one of those bead curtains you see in student houses, held up with a beauty pageant winner’s sash.

* Tess’ dress score: 7 out of 10.   She was back in a one shoulder dress on Friday but deviated from the (so far) norm on Saturday with a halter neck, which looked much better in my opinion.

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In which we like to boogie on a Saturday night

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OK, so Autumn has definitely arrived; not because of golden brown leaves or the throng of university students on the streets, but because the sequins have landed – Strictly Come Dancing is back!

Strictly is the only reality show that I love and watch religiously.  The “celebrities” (and I use that term loosely, especially when you see this year’s line up) actually have to put some effort in, rather than just posing in a bikini in the hope of attracting votes/M&S modelling deals (cf: I’m a Celebrity...), or slobbing around on a couch (cf: Big Brother).  It is up against the mighty X Factor, but that’s something I’ve never really been interested in, beyond the usually hilarious auditions.  I think it’s because I can’t take Dannii Minogue seriously as a judge, and Simon Cowell’s too-white teeth are just terrifying that early on in the evening.

So Friday and Saturday saw me poised for the opening hoop-la of the series.  Well, that’s a bit of a lie; Friday night actually saw me at the Bristol Festival watching some circus and stand-up, and Saturday was birthday drinks for a friend.  So amend: Friday and Saturday saw my DVR recorder poised for the opening hoop-la of the series.  Except it had a bit of a moment during Saturday’s show and when I tried to watch it back on Sunday, refused to play anything beyond the first ten minutes.  I think it took objection to Bruce’s jokes – but then again, who wouldn’t?  Luckily good old iPlayer came in handy, which also meant I could multi-task during the allocation of the marks and check emails.

(Although, BBC, what’s up with the Strictly coverage on iPlayer?  I attempted to access it through S’ iTouch, which meant I could hook it up to the television and enjoy the show in 30 inch screen glory.  It wasn’t there!  But it was on the iPlayer through our laptop.  Hmmm, is this a conspiracy against Apple?)

Tess announced it was going to be “the toughest Strictly ever”, which seems to be a euphemism for “the longest Strictly ever” – we have 16 contestants and twice-weekly shows for the first two outings.  I have to admit, 90 minute shows were a bit of an effort to get through – thank god for tabbed browsing.  And whilst I really like Alesha Dixon, I do feel the panel is worse off for ditching Arlene Phillips.  Alesha may well be there to be “the voice of the people”, but Arlene could offer a lifetime of dancing and choreography experience.  Winning the show in 2007 and being in a girl band doesn’t really equate to the same thing.

However, onward with the sequins!  The first two shows saw 8 of the celebrities battling it out, each doing two dances.  The main points I noted were:

– The men’s chest factor was high, with at least four lots of pecs on show and the usual slashed-to-the-navel shirt making its inaugural 2009 appearance.

– There was the good (Ali Bastian), the bad (Rav Wilding) and the downright awful (Joe Calzaghe).

– Craig has clearly been studying his adjectives during the break; his lexical highlight, for me, was describing someone’s hands described as “spatulistic”.

There was a lot of padding in both shows in the form of the professionals showing us how it’s done, although it’s always good to see how the dances are actually meant to look.   But even these can go wrong; there was one hairy moment where Brendan Cole got his face completely covered with his partner’s skirt during a lift and seemed to be in danger of dropping her on the floor as he attempted to free himself.  There was also the unintentionally hilarious moment where, rather than cutting to Bruce, the camera accidentally panned in on a sound guy standing casually on the steps.  His look of slowly dawning realisation that 9 million viewers were staring at him was priceless.

I was a bit surprised that Martina Hingis was the first to go; there were a lot more worthy candidates for the chop.  Were the wholesome viewers expressing their dislike at her participation on a family show whilst on a cocaine ban from professional tennis?  I felt sorrier for lovely Matthew Cutler, though:  from glory in 2007 with Alesha, through to quarter finals with Christine “One Show” Bleakley, to hopes dashed completely in the first week of 2009.

So that’s my weekends set for the rest of the year; I’ll be poised on the sofa come Saturday evenings, willing them not to trip up and watching as the tans get deeper, the tops get tighter and the necklines get lower – and that’s just the male celebrities.

* Brucey blunder of the night: it’s a close call between the cringe-making moment where he talked about Tess’ new baby and where it came from, and calling Erin Boag “an old banger”.  If I were Erin, I’d have decked him with my dance shoe.

* Best judge’s comment of the night: “That was a tango only a mother could love” (Len to Joe Calzaghe).

* Worst dance outfit of the night: Lynda Bellingham’s tango dress.  Why do the costume department insist on making the older and slightly larger ladies dress in frumpy sacks?  Surely it’s not beyond their capabilities to make something covering yet elegant?

* Tess’ dress score: 6 out of 10.  I predict one sleeved will be a theme for her outfits this year.