We start with some true horror as our celebs do a bit of off-key singing. Good opening pro routine with a Mexico Day of the Dead theme. Tess is doing her Veronica Lake thing in a bright red dress, while Claudia is actually wearing a fitted dress. Shirley is wearing zombie eye contact lenses.
Graeme & Oti (Cha-cha). Their routine is based on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and it’s really not very good. Darcey spots the problem, saying Graeme was good in the “Thriller” dance bits, but terrible in the actual cha-cha bits. Deservedly low marks of 4,5,6,6 for 21 points.
Stacey & Tango (Tango). She’s Doctor Who and Kevin’s a Cyberman with all-over silver paint (well, I think it’s Kevin, it really could be anyone under that make-up). For the first time ever in Strictly, gender roles are reversed and Stacey will be leading for part of the dance. This is quite neat, but not great, though the audience goes wild. Darcey says “oh, my goodness” and is very positive. Happy judges give 8,9,9,9 for 35 points.
Dr. Ranj & Janette (Jive). How can you tell when you’ve annoyed the wardrobe department? One clue is when they paint your face blue, make you wear a blue bodystocking, then pile on a multi-coloured car wash brush, topped off with triangular car wash ears. Hard to imagine a more unsuitable outfit for the energetic jive. Oh, and they’ve given him huge hairy shoes. There’s lots of faffing about and time-wasting at the start, so we expect trouble, and trouble is exactly what we get. Poor Ranj makes a real mess of this. Craig says that at least young viewers will have enjoyed all the bright colours on the costume, but there wasn’t anything else to like. Darcey sympathetically tells him there were lots of mistakes. 5,5,5,5 for 20 points and Dr.Ranj looks very disappointed and disconsolate. If he’s back next week he needs to make friends with the wardrobe department.
Aljaz & Kate (Rumba). They are dressed in a frosting-effect as ice king and queen. This starts off really well and Kate looks to be keeping fluid in her movements, then it tails off a little bit. This is still a good effort for a non-dancer and I like watching Kate dance. Darcey says “oh, my gosh, you looked the part” but isn’t too impressed. Craig praises her fluid hips, but thinks her technique wasn’t good enough. 4,6,5,5 for 20 points for Kate. That looks like harsh scoring to me.
Danny & Amy (American Smooth). They worry about the lifts in training, and the routine has a couple of fairly pathetic lifts. Why not just leave them out? They’re not compulsory. Good start with dry ice, and Amy rising out of it as if from the grave, but this is all just a bit lack-lustre. I’m getting bored with Danny now. After this dance he doesn't even raise a smile as if it’s all a bit too much trouble for him. Darcey praises him for having softened his knees. 6,8,7,9 for 30 points.
Pasha & Ashley (Charleston). Inevitably Ashley is worried about not being able to do a new dance. Equally inevitably, she’s very competent. Pasha is too nice to say no to any costume, which is why he’s got green hair, green glitter thrown on his face, and he looks 8 months pregnant. Meanwhile, Ashley’s costume makes her look like she stepped out of a Beryl Cook painting. She does lots of “Charleston” faces. This doesn’t look that exciting a routine to me, but the audience go wild again. More importantly, so do the judges. Craig calls it “swivelicious” and Shirley says it’s one of the best choreographed routines she’s ever seen. 9,10,10,10 for 39 points.
Sean(n) & Katya (Viennese Waltz). This routine has Sean(n) as an eccentric toymaker and Katya as the doll he made, who keeps coming to life and then reverting to being a doll through the routine. Katya’s doll is by far the creepiest thing around tonight, and it’s great choreography again from her but counting 1-2-3 seems completely beyond Sean(n) who scurries around trying desperately to keep up. Craig points out that Sean was lagging behind the beat, and says the 1-2-3 beat was just so obvious in the music they were dancing to. The other judges agree with Craig and Sean(n) looks to be sulking underneath all the make-up. 3,5,6,6 for 20 points. I can only think the judges are giving bonus points for good choreography.
Charles & Karen (Jive). A rare slightly funny moment in a VT as Karen has a blackboard to teach Charles his routine, pointing out “It’s just a step to the left” as they’re doing the Time Warp. Charles has chickened out of dressing up in suspenders as Frank’n’Furter, and Karen is dressed as Julie Walters in the Victoria Wood soup sketch “One soup……….and……..another soup”. They give it a good go, though with a couple of sticky moments, and it looks like Charles has got his mojo back. Darcey says “oh my gosh, you’re scary” praises his intent and energy, then goes on to criticise his timing, getting a few boos from the audience, while Craig encourages them to boo louder. Shirley is wearing glasses over her zombie contact lenses which is rather unsettling, and says there were a few mistakes. 6,6,6,7 gives them their traditional 25 points, which they’ve scored for every week, bar one.
Faye and Giovanni (Couples’ choice – theatre jazz). In the VT, Faye tells us when she became suddenly famous with Steps it was so hard for her, then when she stopped being famous, that was really hard too, and her son Benjamin is so wonderful and tells her she might do quite well on Strictly and that makes her cry on camera. We then see her painting a skull on her child’s face, as you do, and he says something else nice to her. Anyway, that’s more than enough schmaltz for one VT thank you, so let’s get onto the jazz hands. There actually are jazz hands in this routine, which is a mix of Bob Fosse, “A couple of swells” and dancing skeletons, with a lot of synchronised snappy moves and poses with Faye wielding her stiff ponytail artfully. Different, striking and good, though the synchronisation isn’t perfect by any means. Faye looks like the accomplished theatrical dancer that she probably is. Shirley “outstanding”, Craig “a-ma-zing”. 9,10,10,10 for 39 points.
Joe & Dianne (Foxtrot). Joe is a vampire for this routine, which is generally smooth, but with a couple of snappier sections, which works well. Joe does well in this and I’m gradually warming to him – he seems to work hard at the routines, and doesn’t seem overly full of himself. Shirley thinks this is also outstanding. Judges generally praise how much he’s improved since week 1 (though I seem to remember they were lavishing praise on him way back then). 8,9,9,9 for 35 which looks pretty generous marking.
Before the next dance, we have time for an entertaining non-cosy chat between Tess and Nicole Scherzinger. People in the audience never look that comfortable to have Tess sitting next to them, but Nicole shows it more than most, so maybe none of her people warned her that Tess would be turning up next to her? It’s a pretty stilted interview with Nicole flashing a few false smiles at random intervals.
Lauren & AJ (Paso). They’re dancing to Nicole’s song “Poison” and the live session singer sings it equally as well as Nicole did on record. The routine’s theme is from Snow White with Lauren as the wicked queen and AJ as a lumberjack. We see him expertly wielding his chopper then Lauren comes stomping on with a lot of intensity, though she’s a bit wobbly at times. She seems to have got into the spirit of the dancing after last week’s contemporary thing. She gives the poisoned apple to Craig at the end, which gets a laugh. He says it was a bit stompy, but admires her focus and determination, as do the other judges. Shirley says it was her best dance. 6,7,8,8 for 29 points.
Faye and Ashley are equal top and way clear of the others, while judges have clustered Ranj, Kate and Sean(n) at the bottom on 20 points with Graeme just 1 point higher. Of these 4, Kate’s dance was clearly the best, so it would be very unfair if she ends up in the bottom two. I reckon Sean(n) is a cert again for the dance-off, with Ranj also probably falling into the bottom two.
The pros do a Vampire Last Supper routine, which is interrupted by Oti as a rival vampire who does a spot of dance-fighting with Aljaz before pinching his magic Orb which looks just like the Trump/Saudi orb.
Time for scary music and some results. Ashley is first through and looks surprised. She hadn’t seen that coming despite being equal first on the leaderboard. Then Lauren, Danny, Joe, Faye and Kate (hooray!). Sean(n) is again in the bottom two (hooray again).
Rita Ora is providing the music, with a song written on an instrument with only 4 different notes. Rather rudely, Rita has brought her own 50-strong team of dancers to stroll around the stage adoring her in various postures, but none of them wants to be the one to tell her she’s caught her dress in her knickers. Rita seems to have a tattoo of herself on her upper arm, which is the most entertaining thing about this routine.
More results – Charles (very relieved), Stacey, then Graeme is in the dance-off so Ranj is through (much to his surprise). Claudia interviews Dr. Ranj who is being very serious about it all, but it’s hard to take anyone seriously when they have a blue face and multicoloured triangular tufty ears.
On dancing alone, this could be the first really close dance-off, but in practice, I’ll be amazed if the judges don’t send Sean(n) home. Both couples improve in the dance-off, but are still not great. Craig sums it up saying one celeb has timing issues, the other had placement issues, but all 4 judges plump for Graeme so Sean(n) is out. For their farewell comments, Sean says how great an experience it’s been, except for the last few weeks, and Katya thanks Sean for his commitment and willingness to spend 12 hours a day with her. Awkward. For their last dance, I’m hoping for something like “Me and Mrs. Jones”, “Careless Whisper” or maybe “Part-Time Lover” but instead we get “Bat out of Hell”, presumably to discourage any close dancing.
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