Remember the Strictly Come Dancing final? Of course you do! The thing with the glitter and the dancing, yes? Obviously I should have been writing this three days ago, but it's Christmas and we're all busy people. And my remarkable gift for procrastination is a subject to which we will return - if I get round to it - several times between now and the end of the year, as I present to you *EXCITING HEADS UP* the Why Miss Jones Bootleg Series.
The fact is that some people had forgotten about the Strictly Come Dancing final before it had even happened. Some People - and let me say that I don't know any of them - claimed to have more important things to do on the Saturday night before Christmas. Some People think this year's is a letdown of a final, the anti-climax of a letdown of a series - and it is no longer a battle between the best dancers, but about whether someone who is plucky and popular can or should defeat someone who is their dance-skills overlord. To be honest, I see nothing wrong with this as a potential narrative. As my niece, Young Miss Jones The Younger (aged 6), said before Saturday's final: 'It's a matter of like and death.' And Might vs Minnows is exactly what made the FA Cup great.
This can surely be the only explanation for wheeling out Gray Lineker to present a sports-style stats-and-screen-gimmicks lowdown on the two contenders near the start of the show. Urgh, Lineker. If I want emotionless droning, at least rearrange the rota so I can entertain some sexy ice-maiden fantasy about the penetrating glacial glare of Alan Hanson. We are also treated to an exhaustingly over-written soundbite rumble between the contestants: 'See you later, Whittleator', 'It's The Hunk versus The Hobbit.' And brilliantly from Ola, 'We're going to set the roof on fire.'
Prior to this, Tess and Bruce have made their entrance - the former finding herself the subject of numerous comments from my viewing companions along the lines of 'Get that women to Rigby & Peller.' They are, in at least one sense, a supportive crowd.
We meet the contestants, who will retread their favourite ballroom dance for starters. I feel a bit worried about Natalie tonight. She appears to be hyperventilating already and she hasn't even started dancing yet. Despite her much (and unfairly) maligned competitiveness, I am honestly more concerned for her physical welfare if she wins than if she doesn't. An unfortunate meeting of hairstyle and dress has left Natalie looking like one of those dolls that pensioners in the 80s used to cover their toilet rolls.
Scholars and philosophers have spent recent weeks wondering What It Is About Ricky. He is an incredible dancer, he is polite, respectful, funny, hot, emotionally invested in the competition and yet... why don't The Public like him a little bit more? I have an epiphany as I watch his brilliant quickstep. He never smiles when he dances. It can't possibly be that simple, but then that's probably what they said when man first made fire.
Ricky and Natalie score a perfect 50. When Craig puts up the first 10, Natalie drops to the floor. You there, Recently Graduated Production Runner. Run down to Shepherds Bush Green and find a brown paper bag for Natalie to breathe into, can't you?
Chris and Ola, meanwhile, look like they're having the biggest laugh ever. I want to go to their party, not the one Ricky and Natalie are throwing next door where Natalie is crying in the kitchen because people are throwing the Maraschino cherries off the balcony at passing pedestrians and not using them to make the special Strictly cocktail she invented, even though she laminated the instructions and left them by the drinks table, while Ricky tells everyone to peace out.
Chris and Ola don't score as highly as Ricky and Natalie, but you won't be surprised by that.
Their next ordeal is a group lindy hop. Can you have a group of two? Of course you can. Remember Wham!? It's as fun as a dance that constantly riffs on the threat of physical violence between men and women can be. Ooh! I'm going to spank you! Bah! I'm going to kick you!
You guys! Can't we just love each other?
Chris and Ola narrowly beat Ricky and Natalie. Not physically, in terms of scoring. We wonder if the judges have been made to swot up on the Bumper BBC Book Of Psychology and are over-marking Chris and Ola just a little in order to a) validate the victory they know is coming or b) nudge Ricky and Natalie more towards underdog status in an attempt to boost their viewer votes.
Next is the moment that all Strictly fans have been waiting for. Not the Showdances. Not Bruce's number, although lord knows that is three minutes that's making us all delirious with anticipation. It's Jade and Ian's tango! Jade is neither limping or crying, which for me is a result from the start. They are brilliant, but we can't talk about that as it will remind us what we could have had, and tonight is all about keeping a stiff upper lip and pretending that the Strictly final is EXCITING and IMPORTANT and UNPREDICTABLE, whatever those others say.
Listen up, fans of age-inappropriate romantic duets, and turn down Somethin' Stupid on the stereo. Now Bruce and Alesha are going to sing together. According to the tabs, Alesha wanted to have her moment in the singing spotlight, just as Cheryl did on The X Factor, but I'm not convinced this is exactly what she had in mind. Cheryl had a smoke machine, a laser show and her troupe of sexy military-style dancers. Alesha has a rictus grin and Brucie.
This more or less marks the end of the first show, so we stop and eat some dinner, which is perfect timing since we've just lost the day's previous meals at the sight of Bruce Forsythe, 81, rotating his dessicated pelvis in the direction of Alesha Dixon, 31.
By the start of the second show, Tess has had a costume change. She has essentially given some GCSE fashion students a roll of bin bags and told them to let their imaginations run wild.
Ricky and Chris re-perform their favourite dances that aren't ballroom dances. For Chris and Ola it's the Charleston. Kristina Rihanoff is caught on camera rolling her eyes when they score 50. If only they'd had the Charleston on Strictly last season, eh Kristina? That really could have been John Sergeant's dance. Showbusiness is SO UNFAIR.
As Ricky does his cha-cha I speculate on whether it is a calculated decision that Ricky is dancing in the coveted save-the-best-till-last spot. Even if it is, all this is powerless in the face of the secret weapon Chris and Ola reveal as we get to the show dances. It is not Chris's revolving hips or an impressive crotch lift. It is this: Ola is wearing BLUE SEQUINNED JEGGINGS, and the fight is all but over.
You will not be surprised to learn that Natalie and Ricky's showdance is less fun and more sexy than Chris and Ola's cute-fest. Why change a winning formula, right? Erm... Anyway, there is a lot of touchy-touchy going on. Lovelorn Natalie is clearly giving Ricky one last shot. 'Yes, Ricky, now rub your hands all over me and let me grind up against you. You have to do it, it's FOR THE DANCING.'
At one point Ricky appears to be lifting Natalie using just his neck, which is not only incredible but, I believe, illegal in this country.
Afterwards, in Tess's room, Natalie tells Ricky he's her soulmate. Erm... Natalie? You said that out loud that time.
Lately I've been hearing a lot of the expression 'hot mess' and I think that is the best way to describe what happens next. There is a professional showdance featuring two of last year's finalists, Lisa Snowdon and Rachel Stevens. Stevens is tiny and imperious. Snowdon is, according to several members of my party, drunk. Also, she is doing that hairstyle called Large Mound Of Curly Hair Nestling At The Side Of Your Neck Like 80s Roadkill. Jessica Ennis was working the same look on Sports Personality Of The Year the previous weekend, hair-trend fans.
At the end of the dance, Lisa lurches over to Bruce, throws her arms around him and shouts 'We missed you, Brucie!' like she has just rediscovered her lost friends at the end of a very long works night out in a Yates's Wine Lodge. Then she makes the pawing animal hands at him, like, 'Grrr!' Oh God.
I love Lisa, and for this reason only I must point out that it is cruel in the extreme to make her stand next to Rachel, as I find myself not thinking: 'Isn't Lisa tall and strikingly beautiful?' but 'I wonder if they're showing Tootsie this Christmas.'
Tess is sitting dancefloor-side, chatting to the audience. She introduces Tom Chambers to the crowd. (Why isn't he dancing? Did Camilla make him wear some kind of dancing promise ring?) Almost immediately, she turns her back on him like Russell Harty did to Grace Jones, swishing her princessy ponytail in his face, to talk to renowned dancing authority and boxer David Hayes and Chris sodding Moyles.
Anyway, all this is a laboured preamble to the results. Incredibly, the winners are... Chris and Ola. Was it ever in doubt? Ola bursts into tears. Chris looks slightly sheepish, and is very articulate and composed, as though he is the only one staying sober at the party and now he's got to try and get Lisa Snowdon down off that table and into a cab. Good luck, Chris! And congratulations...
38. QUEEN ELIZABETH OLYMPIC PARK, LONDON
11 months ago