Sunday, 22 November 2009

It's Saturday, it must be…

There was a time when this blog was about more than just Strictly Come Dancing and biscuits. Not much more, admittedly, but it was. And it will be again. Possibly as soon as tomorrow. But until then, I appear to have made a rod for my own back, so I'm just going to go ahead and beat myself with it because actually I really like it. I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I'll move on.

So, it's Strictly week 10 and Fonzie is in the audience! Fonzie just loves the old-fashioned British institutions like pantomime and dance-related family entertainment. I hear that next he's planning to make a documentary about the secret of the perfect Yorkshire pudding. A Fonzie double thumbs up, then, to Fonzie. A double thumbs down to Chris Moyles who is also in the audience. Chris Moyles is one of those people that it's hard to criticise because if you do, you are just painted by him and his Big Hard Gang Of People Employed To Laugh At Chris Moyles's Jokes as some kind of repressed sourpuss. I am a repressed sourpuss so I have little hesitation in saying that I really don't like Chris Moyles.

Tess is wearing a dress that may be any of the following shades: beige, taupe, gold, fawn, buff or mushroom. There is a sequined belt that looks like two sparkly hands reaching around her waist. Is is as though Michael Jackson is risen, he's finally found the other glove, and he can't wait to feel with his own two hands just how slim Tess is in the flesh.

Here come the couples. Jade and Ian are not among them, which is a surprise to precisely no one. They recap the story of her injury and last week's backstage interview, and they play Sad Piano music, which seems to be mournfully soundtracking not just Jade's pain, but also the halcyon days of last Saturday when Claudia was on the show. Jade says, 'When something's taken from you, it makes you realise how much you want it.' I think we all know she's not just talking about her future as a dancer, she's also talking about The Winkelman.

Tess interviews Jade and Ian at the side of the dancefloor on the gold spray-painted kitchen chairs. Ian says, 'Jade's developed so much as a person as well a dancer,' which makes her sound like she was doing Strictly as some kind of therapy for behavioural difficulties. Tess is sympathetic, and I am actually sympathetic to Tess because seriously, from this angle, that stretchy satin dress is no friend at all to her post-childbirth bosom. Bruce calls Jade 'a possible finalist', which doesn't seem a particularly distinguishing kind of compliment.

Anyway, Jade and Ian are out, which is bad news for the final as there will be only two couples in it. This has been the case for the last few years, because of Jimmy Tarbuck and Kelly Brook and John Sargeant all pulling out, but it makes proceedings feel over-stretched and thin. I guess the upside is that they will have time for another Brucie song-and-dance number. Thank goodness.

Anyway, on with the show.

First up, Ali and Brian! In their training VT, Ali seems to have decided that this is the week to get her raunch on, and suggests they do a 'Naughty Foxtrot', which are about two of the unsexiest words you will ever hear in tandem. They dance to a song which would seem to be called I Just Haven't Met You Yet, and is the soundtrack to the romcom Nora Ephron has yet to write. At the end of the dance they are walking away from each other as though their dance together was a dream, and actually they just haven't met each other yet. DO YOU SEE? Amazing. I love the way Brian looks at Ali. For him, this is Definitely The Real Thing. Len says, 'If that was a pudding, it would be an Angel Delight.' If Len was a pudding, he probably wouldn't be that different to how he is now. Brian politely thanks the voting viewers. He has lovely manners. I wish he would say, 'Yes ma'am' to Tess after every sentence.

Natalie and Vincent! Natalie looks very pretty this evening, and her hair is amazingly shiny and lustrous. She looks nothing like the 50-year-old dowager who seems to have inspired her recent styling on the show. They are wearing zingy fuchsia, apart from on his bottom half, Vincent is wearing the grey slacks of a bank clerk nearing retirement. They are dancing a samba to Holiday by Madonna. I was incensed this week when someone on It Takes Two said that Holiday is cheesy and one of Madonna's worst songs. I forget who it was, but j'accuse Michael Ball. This is heresy. It is obviously one of her best, and as good as the best disco songs of ALL TIME. The five best Madonna songs are Holiday, Borderline, Into The Groove, Like A Prayer and Ray Of Light. However, it is true to say that Dave Arch and his singers are doing nothing whatsoever to help Holiday's cause. Don't Tell Me is brilliant as well. Anyway, Len, Craig and Bruno pretty much slate Natalie and Vincent. Idiots. Their favourite Madonna song is probably Die Another Day or some shit.

Chris and Ola! Chris Hollins is the greatest children's TV presenter never to have presented a children's TV programme. He needs to be more graceful, so some under-10s ballerinas are brought in to rehearsals to help. They are impressively candid. One of them says, 'Chris is a bit stompy.' Or it may have been 'Chris is a bit stumpy.' It was hard to hear. Chris and Ola are doing the Viennese Waltz. Chris is wearing his I Really Mean It face, which I fear does not appear exactly as he imagines it to. He is thinking, 'Sincere and Intense'. We are thinking, 'A little bit Les Dawson.' Afterwards, Craig calls Chris darling, as he does to pretty much everyone these days. Bruce says to Chris, 'Be careful, he called you darling,' and then Len pitches in a bit. Oh good. Bruce and Len are back at the reins of the Chariot Of Casual Homophobia. Giddyup, you two. Alesha says she doesn't want to see so many pivots in one dance. Have you ever seen the Viennese waltz before, Alesha?

Ricky W and Natalie! Last week Len told Ricky off a bit for resting on his laurels. Miss L, who I was watching this week's show with, thinks this was motivated by the fact that Ricky is now Doing It with Natalie, and Len was telling him don't be distracted and get your head in the game, which is one of the best parts of High School Musical. It is a fact that Chelsea like to sing along to this before each important football match, although sometimes there is conflict in the dressing room about who gets to be Zac Efron. Most often, it is Frank Lampard.

They are dancing an American Smooth to an Eva Cassidy-style Over The Rainbow, which appears on a CD entitled 100 Greatest Emotionally Cheap Vote-Winners... Ever! At the end, Ricky lifts Natalie up over his head, like a weightlifter. Weightlifting fans may be interested to know that it was more of a Clean And Jerk than a Snatch as Ricky had a little rest halfway up. Kenny Logan would not have needed a little rest halfway up.

I am no fan of Natalie's choreography.

Len is outraged by the weightlifting, and not just because Ricky wasn't wearing the correct back-support belt. Alesha says every woman wants to be lifted like that. Not me. I would be saying, 'Put me dowwwn. I don't like it. Really, I've just had a Snickers, I'm going to be sick.' Alesha says the lift showed a lot of trust, and also how connected Ricky and Natalie are, ie You Two Are Totally Doing It And We All Know. Craig says the start of the dance was like Grade 1 ballet, which is completely true, and those caustic junior ballerinas wouldn't be seen dead anywhere near it. Craig says he loved the lift and Len looks at him like he's just spilled his pint in a rough East End pub in the 1960s. Seriously, if Craig was holding a snooker cue about now, Len would be taking it off him, and snapping it over his knee. Craig tells Len, 'You're so boring.' Len says, 'Craig is a doughnut and I can't be bothered to explain myself.' That's fine, Len, we'd really rather you didn't. Also, wouldn't you like to get in the car with us and go for a little drive? We're going to visit a lovely big home where you can live, with lots of other people your own age. Look! Isn't the garden lovely? A hairdresser comes round every week, and we play whist on a Friday.

Leila and Anton! Leila has only had two days to train! Will anyone honestly notice the difference? Not really, is the answer. They dance a waltz, which is Nice Enough.

Ricky G and Erin! Ricky describes his Dance-Off Hell of last week, and what was running through his mind, which was principally, 'I'm really sweaty again. Seriously no one else sweats as much as me', 'That's it, we're going home' and also, genuinely, 'I'll be able to get the garden furniture inside.' I'm sure this provides some kind of fascinating insight into life chez Groves/Waterman but I'm not sure what it is. In Ricky's rehearsal footage, he is actually sweating through his tank top. I love a tank top. To me, it is a sacred garment that should never be soiled with human perspiration. The only person who loves a tank top more than me is Paul Weller. Anyway, Erin and Ricky are doing the tango to U Got The Look by Prince and Sheena Easton which is my friend Mrs G's favourite Prince song. I think mine is When Doves Cry. Tell me, Strictly Rainmen, can you picture this? Not really, that was just a Prince joke. My real question to Strictly Rainmen – and I know you are out there – is has anyone ever done the tango to When Doves Cry? It would be brilliant. But anyway, Ricky, you sho nuf do be cooking in precisely nobody's book tonight because you messed it up big time. Since losing a stone and a half in training though, your body is heck-a-slammin', that much is true. Wow, this is my favourite tango music since this. Ricky says afterwards, 'It's a dance competition [yes, Ricky, just like X Factor is a singing competition] and if you make mistakes, you've got to go. So maybe it's my time.' I think that Ricky is a master of reverse psychology and there will be no dance-off for him tonight. Alesha commends him, 'considering what you've been through the past couple of weeks' which as far as I know is a couple of dance-offs, not major psychological trauma, but who knows how mentally damaging spending your every working moment with Erin is.

The judges discuss Ricky's mistakes. Bruce says he didn't witness any of them because he was 'stuck round the back and couldn't see what was going on.' Yes, Bruce, that is because YOU ARE NOT ACTUALLY ONE OF THE JUDGES, however much you try to pretend you are by talking over them at any opportunity.

Ricky was further handicapped this week by the Chin Beard Of Sexual Revulsion that he has been growing. Seriously, men, why would you ever? Perhaps this is the colossal hardship that Alesha was referring to earlier.

As Tess reveals the final judges' scoreboard and plugs the phonelines, she tells the dancers off for chatting and Chris Hollins says a shame-faced, 'Sorry Tess,' like he's just kicked his football into her garden.

Darren and Lilia do a swing routine. It is only when you see an awesome professional dance like this that you realise how shit most of the other ones are.

The judges discuss the contestants. Len mourns the absence of Jade. Strictly The Narrative is mourning Jade too. All the other dancers have plateaued over the last few weeks but Jade was burning brighter and brighter. Len says that apart from Ali and Ricky W, the others really need to buck up, which is one of my favourite ever expressions. Len also says careless talk costs lives, and toodle pip. He doesn't really. But Bruce is so pleased with his own earlier assertion that Jade was a possible finalist that he repeats it for everyone. Thanks Bruce.

Bruce announces that next week the celebs will be dancing a rock 'n' roll-style dance or the Charleston. If you've ever seen the prop-fest-cum-live-flesh-show that is Dancing With The Stars, you'll know that this is the thin end of the wedge. Look, here's Sabrina The Teenage Witch, who is now Sabrina The Thirty-Something Mom Of Two, giving it her best, 20s-style.

Now the celeb dancers are doing a group rumba *shudder*. From the off, several things are clear:

* No one involved appears to have received last week's Why Miss Jones wardrobe memo, since all the men are wearing the White Poloneck Of Evil complete with Sinister Blouson Sleeves. They could have saved an awful lot of BBC redundancies if they'd cut back even a little bit on the sleeve budget. The women have gone totally batwing.

* This would not be out of place in the Total Eclipse Of The Heart video.

* I would not have been at all surprised if this was introduced by a 59-year-old headmistress saying, 'And now, some members of the fourth year dance club are going to perform something that they have been working very hard on in their lunch hour. Miss Devane, could you press play on the cassette recorder, please?'

* They are dancing to Frozen by Madonna, which is OK, but not even close to being in my Top 5.

Bruce introduces Dame Shirley Bassey as Dame Shirley Bally. Then he says what great friends they are. Not any more, Brucie.

Safe are: Chris and Ola (who makes a sound like an old-fashioned kettle boiling, which will please Len, who just can't get on with those electric ones), Ricky W and Natalie, Ali and Brian, and Natalie and Vincent, who actually, genuinely, says 'Mamma mia!' which is just another reason to love Vincent. They hug each other for ages, swaying, like they're at the school disco and Careless Whisper has just come on. That is me showing my age.

Dancing off, then, are Leila and Anton and Ricky G and Erin. The judges are extremely business-like about their decision-making. It's game over for Ricky G, who now appears not to be a master of reverse psychology, but rather the king of Calling It Like It Is. He is gracious in defeat, and says he's had the time of his life. He's met Rod Stewart! And Shirley Bally! Living the dream, Ricky! They do their final dance to What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted which is a brilliant song that was almost killed stone dead by Robson and Jerome. Whatever Dave Arch And His Wonderful OrchestraTM are doing to it, it is not CPR.

Till next week, Strictly fans and white poloneck haterz…

Oh! I also really like Like A Virgin.


Anonymous said...

Rachel & Vincent danced a fab-u-lous Argentine Tango to When Doves Cry last year

Miss Jones said...

Thank you. I should have known Vincent would be responsible for that kind of genius. Also, I should tediously correct myself and say that there were three couples in last year's final. John Sargeant did pull out, but there was no elimination in the semi-final because of the farcical phone voting foul-up.

Anonymous said...

I now feel slightly bad for my Jade hating of last week. Especially as the whole show was, to my mind, bland bland bland. It was almost as taupe / beige / whatever as Tess's dress. Best thing about it was your blog of it.

Miss S

Anonymous said...

Have just read this and it caused me to repeatedly snigger in a way that is slightly embarrassing in an open plan office while sitting at your desk (ostensibly working). Tears of laughter have also caused my eye make-up to descend attractively down my face. See the power you have?

Ms Rose

Anonymous said...

My thoughts were with you on Saturday night Miss Jones. All because of the White Polo Necks of Evil with the blouson sleeves! Your description of the professional group dance is perfect.

Even funnier though, I was watching this with a former ballet Rambert trained v successful dancer who until Saturday was a Strictly virgin. He assumed the twirling white sleeves were still the contestants and not the professionals and for a while couldn't tell the difference such was the blandness of the choreography. He liked Darren and Lilia though - nuff said.

Can we start a petition to bring back Lady Winkleman?