By Laura Edwards
I will be watching tonight’s episode of Strictly Come Dancing in the be-sequinned mourning paso doble cloak of despair that I traditionally wear for a few weeks whenever James gets voted off.
I’m feeling more than my usual sting of disappointment that I won’t get to see my favourite dancer strut his stuff this time; I didn’t feel that James and Vanessa were the weakest couple last week – neither in the show nor in the dance off – and I get such a lot more pleasure from watching celebrities, like Vanessa, who seem to be not only genuinely loving being part of the programme, but also visibly improving week by week, than some of those who arrive already totally proficient. However, that’s the way Strictly goes and there are an awful lot of dancers that I’m still very excited about seeing, so…
Sophie & Brendan
Sophie and Brendan’s foxtrot has a 1920’s Hollywood feel, and once again her vintage beauty matches the theme perfectly. Sophie looks like a siren of the silver screen and the dance is performed seemingly effortlessly, elegantly and with a big dash of glamour. I’m so pleased that Brendan is with a celebrity partner who can really showcase the mastery of his choreography to its best advantage. As expected, glowing reviews from the judges and scores to match.
8, 9, 9, 9 = 35
Fiona & Anton
I don’t envy anyone who has to follow Sophie and Brendan onto the floor, and poor Fiona suffers from nerves badly enough as it is without any added pressure. She strutted into her rumba seeming full of confidence, but unfortunately she seemed to lose much of it as soon as the dance got underway. I didn’t feel much of a ‘story’ from this routine – normally a big issue with rumba for the judges – and it felt quite disjointed most of the way through. It’s such a shame because when she’s good, she looks great, and I hope she finds some way to overcome this obstacle of losing some steps to nerves in nearly every routine. Also – don’t talk back to Len, Fiona it never ends well for contestants!
4, 6, 6, 6 = 22
Ooh, James has popped up in the dancers’ area of the balcony! He must have known how much I was missing him!
Mark & Iveta
Loving both the song choice and Iveta’s leopard print training outfit before this cha cha even gets started! Not so keen on Mark’s Hammer pants! I think this is a fantastic routine to watch, really making the most of Mark’s charisma, I just hope it contained enough cha cha content to satisfy the judges. Not Craig, it seems, but Darcey, Len and Bruno seem won over. If everyone at home enjoyed it as much as me, Mark will definitely be back next week, hopefully without the nappy pants!
3, 8, 8, 7 = 26
Ashley & Ola
A complete change of week for Ashley & Ola this week with a Viennese waltz. I hope Ola really did take him to watch a montage of him snogging Hollyoaks girls to get him in the mood for training – who wouldn’t be inspired by a bit of Darren Osbourne love ratting?! It looked like a very smooth routine (I find it hard to judge Viennese waltzes sometimes, unless they actually trip up halfway through or something), although his arms looked a little bit awkward at some points. I think the judges’ comments were a tad unfair – quite difficult to add ‘oomph’ to such a restrained dance, surely? But the scores were good enough to mean they don’t have to worry about next week. Also, I’ve seen quite a few comments knocking about recently regarding the risqué humour and innuendo on Strictly – those people, can I just call your attention to the fact that Ashley said “Maybe I was a bit stiff during the dance” and not one person even sniggered? Well, Brendan did, but I’m sure it was entirely unrelated.
7, 8, 8, 8 = 31
Julien & Janette
Oh good, Julien and the Spice Girls in one serving. Way to bump up the irritation levels Strictly! However, you can’t say that Julien didn’t give his all to this samba, and it must be an effort to remain this full of beans off the back of two consecutive dance offs. He seemed to remember most of the steps and it was it as good any he’s done on here so far. I’m not sure he’ll dodge being in the dance off again to be honest, but fair play to him for giving it so much energy. Just, shhhhhhhh Julien, after you’ve finished dancing, please.
4, 6, 7, 6 = 23
Rachel & Pasha
Ooh, love the Bonnie and Clyde theming, Rachel is rocking this look! I always look forward to any quickstep and this one sort of worked for Rachel and Pasha – excellent music choice and Rachel seemed improved from previous weeks. The first 60 seconds were great, but it went a bit shonky after that. It’s sometimes hard to tell if Rachel’s lost her way and needs to be firmly directed by Pasha or whether it just looks like it. I feel like she has loads of untapped potential and I really hope she taps it soon, so to speak.
5, 7, 7, 7 = 26
Ben & Kristina
This couple delivered a great rumba last week and I have high hopes for their salsa…and I can already see high hope one – Ben sporting a tight fitting little number – has been met, AND another even tighter little number waiting to be revealed underneath! He is really spoiling us this evening! Understandably, Ben seems a little self conscious shaking his booty across the floor when he’s dancing solo, but he loosens up once Kristina joins him and delivers some very flashy lifts. The audience are on their feet by the end of the routine and I agree that this was standing ovation worthy. I don’t know if a white vest has ever made the Strictly wardrobe before, but I would like to see it again and again, in fact I might just rewind for another look right now…Their best dance, rightly rewarded with their best scores.
8, 8, 8, 7 = 31
Deborah & Robin
Another couple coming in from the high of a great dance last week – I hope they can match it with this week’s jive. Anyone whose heart isn’t warmed by Deborah’s grin and Robin’s wig this week must be made of stone! This wasn’t technically perfect, but I still thought it was really enjoyable. I really hope viewers keep Deborah in for another few weeks, she’s such a pleasure to watch.
5, 6, 6, 6 = 23
Natalie & Artem
Ooh, bit of tension for Nartem this week – back injury, the nation holds its breath to see whether she can still pull a flawless routine out of the hat…Not really, of course she can, and of course she does. I love the quickstep and this was a really stylish routine, particularly the footwork in the end section. Bruno’s right though, it’s just like watching two professionals in a show. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, and I’m very pleased her back injury wasn’t too serious…still though, meh. I’ll be interested to see Natalie take on a dance like the charleston which needs as much personality as technique.
9, 9, 8, 9 = 35
Patrick & Anya
Patrick’s another one that I haven’t properly warmed to yet. I don’t know if it’s because he never reveals anything about himself that isn’t totally professional or because he doesn’t look very happy himself, but his dancing has unarguably been of a very high standard each week, and the cha cha is again well delivered. He’s consistently good solo on the floor and in hold, always looks cool and seems very comfortable. I’ll skim over the unfortunate ‘smacking her to keep her in her place’ moment, as that unpleasantness isn’t Patrick’s fault, so all in all, a really strong performance.
8, 8, 9, 8 = 33
Abbey & Aljaz
Isn’t it disheartening that Abbey achieves heights of glamour with mud all over her, fresh off an army assault course that most of us ‘normal people’ will not achieve ever in our entire lives? On the positive side, most of our boyfriends have never made the national press for paying for a prostitute with a credit card, so Lady Luck gives a little, she takes a little. Anyway, Abbey looks ‘gorge’, as my scouser mate Lee says, in her tango get up, very dramatic, and the routine doesn’t disappoint. I thought this was sharp, precise, exciting and beautiful. Great comments, great scores, great eye make-up.
9, 8, 9, 9 = 35
Dave & Karen
Ooh, a waltz – now this is going to be a tough one for Dave and Karen to laugh their way though, as it has a lot of technical requirements. Now, Dave is not a natural dancer, but I thought this routine really showed he’d come on in leaps and bounds. The judges were never going to be full of praise, but he’s obviously a grafter and I hope he’s really proud of that waltz and that Karen’s proud of what are obviously exceptional reaching skills. And they both just seem so lovely!! A well deserved personal best judges’ score.
5, 6, 6, 6 = 23
Susanna & Kevin
I’ve always loved Susanna and after seeing Kevin’s hilarious Artem impression on ITT this week, I think he might be filling the James shaped void in my heart a little. Aww, what lovely boys as well. Before the action begins, I’m giving Susanna a 10 for pulling off that big, big hair – she really can totally work any look! The samba’s a really tough dance to do without any cringe factor, but I thought this couple – probably my new favourites! – did a sterling job, definitely making it feel like a party. I thought Craig was a bit too critical, but I think that’s because he knows exactly how good she can be at her peak. Not as good scores from the judges as in previous weeks, but still a lot to be proud of. Actually, Susanna would surely disapprove of that dangling participle – i mean, a lot of which they can be proud!
6, 7, 8, 8 = 29
Who’s going to be in the dance off this week then? Julien? Deborah? Dave? Even Rachel? And who’s going to be covering for Craig next week? And is Ben going to put that vest on eBay and, if so, can someone send me the link? Thanks!