By Laura Edwards
So, the Strictly Come Dancing lot have returned from their seaside break, but the heat is still most definitely on.
I can’t remember the last series of Strictly when we had so many strong contenders at this stage of the competition. With Fiona gone (a controversial decision for lots of viewers), one of the ‘favourites’ is bound to be in the dance-off this week and so they all need to come out fighting. I know many of you will be switching over for the Froch/Groves match later on this evening, but the heavy-weight battle of the ballroom gets going right now!
Let’s get reeeeeeaaaaaady to rumba!
Susanna & Kevin
After an astonishingly fantastic performance last week with their paso, Susanna and Kevin are taking on the lighter-toned cha cha cha tonight. Susanna – again looking jaw-droppingly gorgeous this evening – throws herself into the spirit of this rock ‘n’ roll number 100% (which is as high as it gets on Strictly, if she was on the X Factor, it’d be 120 -150%, easily). This week isn’t quite as good as good as last, but it’s still a decent performance. Like Deborah before her, you can tell how much Susanna loves dancing just from her face, and I think that it’s a real shame that the cha cha cha doesn’t seem to be the best dance for her. I love Susanna and Kevin, but I think these scores are fair. Just vote for them please – I’m going to be back in the studio watching next week and I want to see this couple dancing SO MUCH!
7, 8, 8, 8 = 31
Ashley & Ola
The macho cowboy of last week has dismounted his steed and is taking on the waltz. I’m not sure that the training trip to the shark tank isn’t a little bit of a tenuous link, but fair play to him, I’d love to do that! An elegant, graceful waltz – the timing looks spot on and it’s all very romantic but, I’m just going to say what we’re all thinking – OLA, WHERE’S JAMES? I know I’m getting a bit obsessed with James being MIA, but what if he’s hanging about outside Blackpool Tower, waiting for me, wearing a ‘Kiss Me Quick, Squeeze Me Slow’ hat? What then?? Oh, hang on, it’s time for the scores. Good job Ashley and Ola, a very presentable performance all round.
8, 9, 9, 9 = 35
Natalie & Artem
Bloody hell, it’s like Natalie’s got a smug-o-meter inside her that’s activated every time a camera swings in her direction! She’s a blooming actress, why can’t she act a bit more human and a bit less android? But, they are tango-ing and it’s bound to be a technically good one. Yup, completely technically precise, timing seems spot on…and yet still managing to emote as much genuine passion and excitement as I do when I approach my cat’s litter tray with a pooper scooper in my hand. I do agree with Craig, not much drama here, but I do admire Nartem’s technical ability. Meh.
9, 9, 9, 10 = 37
Mark & Iveta
I like Mark and Iveta a lot – especially when they have proper choreography, not a comedy routine – but I really can’t see them avoiding the dance-off this week, no matter how proficient their foxtrot. And it is very nicely done; well danced, cheerful, packed with personality. Mark obviously puts the effort in to all of his dances, but, unfortunately, week on week he just hasn’t performed as consistently as the other contestants. If he does go this week, he’ll leave on a performance of which he can be very proud.
6, 8, 7, 7 = 28
Sophie & Brendan
Ooh, a Venice based rumba. If Vincent Simone hadn’t packed up his case and scurried off to the jungle, they could have had him trip-trapping across the stage in a little red coat, to really bring the Venetian flavour to life. As I’ve said far too often on this site, I’m not a massive fan of the old rumba as I just think it always looks disjointed, but this one’s pretty good. I felt Sophie occasionally looked like she was being tossed about a bit, but I know the woman’s supposed to be a bit subservient in this dance, so it was probably fully intentional. Bit too rough of a ride from the judges in my opinion, and very nearly the return of Bad Boy Brendan! It must be very disheartening to be one of the professionals and have the style you’ve chosen openly criticised, so I was cheering him on in that exchange.
7, 8, 8, 8 = 31
Ben & Kristina
More importantly than the dance itself, one of the eternal questions of the universe is tackled in this routine – namely, is there any outfit you can stick Ben Cohen in that will make him sexually unappealing? And the answer is ‘No’. Vest and braces? Doesn’t sound sexy, but he’s still hotter than the centre of the sun. I didn’t think the charleston would work for Ben at all, but I’m very pleasantly surprised. After his jive, I didn’t expect his technique to be any good, but I didn’t think it was half bad! It’s not his best dance, and gets comments and scores from the judges in accordance with that, but he’ll hopefully (please please please please) be around to meet me in person next week, erm, I mean continue on in the competition next week.
6, 7, 7, 7 = 27
Abbey & Aljaz
Yikes, I would not fancy following Susanna and Kevin’s Paso triumph from last week, but this is another strong, dramatic and traditionally rooted paso. Abbey occasionally looks a little unsure of herself, but, as the judges have said about a gazillion times, at this stage there are only tiny details separating the dancers and all of them are operating at a very high standard. Mind you, Abbey must have been gutted that her ‘surprise’ from Aljaz was a video from her Nan – be difficult to keep the motivation up after that blow!
8. 8, 8, 8 = 32
Patrick & Anya
Last up, Patrick and Anya with a Viennese waltz. It can’t be too difficult for Patrick to search through all his roles to come up with a character for this dance – hasn’t he been Ash in Casualty since about 1968? Patrick has a little bit of the Natalies about him in that I admire his proficiency but can’t really read any great amount of personality from him when he dances. He is a talented dancer though, and is always a pleasure to watch.
8, 8, 8, 8 = 32
So, not the same storming praise and scores from the judges this week, but, to be honest the dances haven’t been quite as strong. It’s been a good week, but not amazing. Maybe they’re keeping their powder dry for my visit?!
If I was Mark, I’d be nervous about the dance-off, but who might be joining him there (if he is there – it’s not like there are any foregone conclusions in Strictly land!)? Based on nothing other than a gut feeling, I have a sneaking suspicion that Abbey or Patrick might also be bottom two this week, but I’ve been wrong before (like when I said Ben would look hot in anything…I’d forgotten about that sailor suit from a few weeks ago.)
What do you think?