We are beginning with a professional dance, which sees the ladies dressed as Quality Street. Kristina has come as the caramel keg. Katya is the hazelnut in caramel, which is awkward as that's my favourite Quality Street, yet she's not my favourite dancer. The Ginger Russian is the praline triangle. Again, a poor match of dancer and chocolate. She should be the dried out mini-Bounty. Lilia is fudge. They are dancing to Red Light by Billy Ocean. This seems a slightly random choice. I have never even heard it before now. I imagine the professional who choreographed this routine sitting at home crossing off the weeks off the calendar, saying, 'When, WHEN will I be able to dance to Red Light by Billy Ocean?' Tonight! Tonight! as Billy Corgan would say. He is a big fan of Dancing With The Stars, and hopes that touring commitments will allow him to compete in the next series.
Tonight, Tess's presenting style will comprise unconvincing whooping. That's three times in about two minutes.
Chris and Ola are going first, which is the Draw Of Death for them, since their hopes rest entirely on the public vote, and it seems that the average phone-voting audience member can barely remember how many legs they have, let alone the first act of a 90-minute programme. Ola is attempting to counteract this failure of memory by wearing a costume that can be screwed up and stored in one of those plastic balls that goes in the washing machine. In their training footage Chris puts his shoes on and says, in a voice that is pure Maria Von Trapp, 'Come on, Cuban heels, another adventure!' Oh voters. He may not be able to dance very well but he talks to his footwear. How can you fail to fall in love with him?
I feel a bit sick with nerves on Chris and Ola's behalf, but they are dancing to Total Eclipse Of The Heart which is about the best rumba music you could wish for. Chris is Giving It Everything He's Got, which unfortunately includes That Face.
Ali and Brian do their Argentine tango. They attempt to walk on stage together 'in character', but Ali just looks a bit fed up and sulky, like they're on a real let-down of a date. Maybe Ali thought she was being taken out for a romantic meal, but they ended up in Pizza Express because Brian had some vouchers.
So what about the dance? Some mistakes and still no fire for A&B. Plus ça change… – or whatever that is in American.
Ali talks in Tess's room about how nervous she's been and Brian says: 'And you've put up with me this week so thanks for that.' It's a bit like they're having their own private conversation. Brian says he thinks he left Ali's hair straighteners plugged in at her flat. Ali tells him not to worry as they switch themselves off automatically. Brian says he's relieved about that, and does Ali fancy getting some more of those really nice M&S fishcakes for tea tomorrow. Ali says OK.
God! How can Len and Bruno score them a 9 when they have clearly made mistakes. A 9 should reward a brilliantly executed dance that just needs a little more polish, no? This didn't need polish so much as, like, actually doing the right steps at the right time.
Ricky and Natalie. Before he goes on, Ricky genuinely looks like he's about to be a) cry, b) be sick or c) cry and be sick. I feel sorry for him. Please like him, everyone. They are dancing to that Desree fishtank song from Romeo + Juliet=MTV. The judges have clearly all read the same memo re: Trying To get Ricky Into The Final, As Opposed To Chris Who Is Not Quite So Good At The Actual Dancing, as they talk a lot about how very hard Ricky and Natalie's routines are, and how well he's doing them. So 10s all round then? Hmm, not quite. Tess suggests Ricky makes a plea to the voting public, and he waxes nostalgic about how he used to watch the show with his gran when he was little. Is she still alive? If not, Ricky, you should really mention that. When it comes to reality shows and audience voting, Grief Is Good.
Chris and Ola are back for their Argentine tango. Uh-oh. A short review of their Strictly story precedes it, including Chris's mid-series meltdown. In one training clip from that time, Chris tells Ola how catastrophically he's Lost It, and she says in a small but sincere voice: 'I believe in you. I love dancing with you'. Embarrassingly, I have a small cry at this point. It's like when Seth and Summer got together in The OC. Like, Ola's all popular and gorgeous, and Chris is all geeky, but she just really likes him. Anyway, I don't think they make a bad stab of their tango. The judges are also encouraging. Except for Bruno. I'm over Bruno.
It's Ali and Brian's American Smooth! In their VT, Ali mentions how her grandma used to compete in ballroom dancing, but she died when Ali was very young and she would have been so proud to see Ali in the final. Atta girl, Ali. I appear to be crying again. Ali is wearing lilac that is a bit washed out and grey. It is like she put a prematurely purchased wedding dress in the wash with a pair of Brian's purple satin boxer shorts. She looks really nervous again, and I feel like they're going wrong, even when they're not. They DEFINITELY actually kiss ON THE LIPS at the end. Bruce mentions this several times. Thanks, Bruce. Despite my qualms, they appear to have aced it. I really don't know anything about dancing. But I know what I like. Mostly I like the jive and the quickstep.
Ricky and Natalie's Argentine Tango. Ricky is incredible. Ricky's dad stands up at the end, on the verge of tears. I am crying for the third time this evening. I am over-tired. Craig points out Ricky's mistakes. Oh Craig! But he loved it, all the same. Len goes a bit Merchant Of Venice and dishes out a speech on justice. He is, for once, right. Really, all three couples should be in the final – and I don't mean that in a 'You're all winners' kind of way. You're not. Some of you are losers. Here is a question. When Jade and Ian had to withdraw, why didn't they just reinstate the couple who went out before them? Problem solved. Brilliantly entertaining three-team final guaranteed. You're welcome.
Next up, a clip of Darcey Bussell learning to ballroom dance with Ian Waite. She's a bit goofy. She is going to dance the jive. I don't know that Darcey is massively good at the jive. I would say Jill Halfpenny had her beaten on the kicks and flicks. However, Darcy can do any variety of the splits you care to think of, and I most certainly can't. Couldn't speak for Halfpenny. God, I hope they're not going to do that thing that happens when you go to the ballet where they bow for 20 minutes. I want to get my dinner on.
I fail to register who is top of the judges' scores. Sorry.
Well, it was nice of them to put the X Factor duets on in between the Strictly shows. Olly and Robbie are a 5-aside team just waiting for 911 to join them.
Back with Strictly. Recap featuring backstage footage. Ali is wibbling sweetly about how the tango wasn't so great, but they have the American Smooth to turn it around. Chris bustles past her telling her, 'It was brilliant! It was brilliant!' and Brian says, like some dashing GI, 'I'm proud of you, baby.' Cut to Natalie holding Ricky very, very tightly and saying with quite terrifying and steely intensity, 'That was the most amazing experience of my life.' This, perhaps, is why people aren't really warming to Natalie and Ricky.
Ian Waite dances with Natalie to You Don't Bring Me Flowers. Dave Arch's singers are no Babs and Neil. There is only one Neil. Look, here he is (public service announcement: you can also hear this song in the trailer for the new Caroline Aherne show):
Now we will watch a film that will teach us about showdances, which the finalists will perform next week. When it comes to the showdance, there are NO RULES. It is bare-knuckle cage fighting in sequins. The female half of the world professional champion showdancers (or similar) says the medics have to be on stand-by in case anything goes wrong. I think that's a bit strong, to be honest, but never mind, she and her partner are going to dance for us. My friend and former flatmate, Ms H, hates it when the non-Strictly professional world champions come on. I wait for a hilariously irate text from her, but it doesn't arrive, so let me say on her behalf that this is like an Eastern European gymnastic act from the Royal Variety Performance circa 1987. Tess says afterwards, 'Are they human?' No Tess, they are dancers. Ahahahahaha. Sorry.
Next, a song from Hairspray. I love Hairspray. And I love this song. This, however, is not a great advert for Hairspray. Phill Jupitus looks like he'd much rather be at The Comedy Awards. But wait! It's Austin Healey! Doing his hoppity, skippity jiving! And aww, look at how beautiful Belinda Carlisle is.
Finally, Lily Allen. Her hair looks nice. She is singing about a boyfriend who is no good in bed. I wonder how my brother is explaining this to the Young Miss Joneses, 6 and 9, who are keen Strictly fans.
Results time! I feel sick again. But I have eaten quite a lot of Marks & Spencer's Milk Chocolate Snowy Balls. The first couple through is.................... Ricky and Natalie! That is a shock. But the right shock, you would have to say. The second couple is......... Chris and Ola. Wow. That is a shock². Poor Ali and Brian. I am so sad for them. But they have each other, right?
Tess asks whether they are 'terribly devastated'. Ali is dignity made flesh. Good girl. Bruce and Tess burble over the top of Brian and Ali as they try to express how much the other one means to them. SHUT UP. Go on, have a big snog, pleeeeeeaaaaaaase. I mean you two, Brian and Ali, not you, Bruce and Tess. No one, repeat no one, wants to see you snogging. Ali and Brian do have at least a couple of Meaningful kisses on the lips. Cut away to Ricky, who looks truly stunned and sort of reeling. Dave Arch's band are playing Every Loser Wins. Christ, is that really the best they could do for them? Never mind because Ali and Brian are having a proper, end-of-the-evening, school-disco smooch. I can't decide whether I want Brian to put both his hands on Ali's bum or not. I definitely don't want the others to crowd round and interrupt. Sod off, non-losing gooseberries.
I think I might have another cry now. Join in if you like.