Strictly 2020 – Week 1, Main Show: Cinnamon Bun Royalty

Mentally I am here.

As an opener the show we get a montage of the celebs transforming from their regular selves into their Strictly selves, and I think it’s quite telling as to who production values because Maisie has this transformation…

.And then Ranvir gets to go from her dogwalking coat to a sweaty t-shirt


I swear to God if they try and Widdy her to week 7 I will be forced to kill.

But to to kick off the series proper we have a high velocity Latin number, intricately weaving two tales together, the first of Johannes vs Toxic Masculinity

And the second of Katya just tearing her way through the male pros like a sex fuelled hurricane

It’s the role she was born to play! With the lack of TV and film output this year, she cold snag herself a best supporting actress nomination at the least, she’s got my vote. It’s a very fun number, of course they play to their strengths having Johannes, Oti and Katya do the heavy lifting of the routine while Gorka, Graziano and Giovanni have a Abs Off and Karen walks around like someone dressed their baby up as a Mortal Kombat character

And Anton kind of muddles around in the background looking like Tourist No.5 – which I think is the biggest tell that they recorded all of these pro-routines in the space of about 2 weeks – he had to save all that energy for the Remembrance Day waltz-a-thon.

And now to our Hostesses

I don’t think Claudia has ever looked better, and Tess has shown up looking like she’s straight out of Tim Burton’s Batman, which would be pretty fab if she had enough chutzpah to pull it off – but she deserves a commendation for lasting 2 hours in a fully sequined jumpsuit.

Jamie Dodger and Karen Hauer
Cha Cha Cha / Think About Things by Daði & Gagnamagnið

Due to Covid we are actually getting some normal dance training footage, by which I mean Karen ricochets between laughing at Jamie’s complete lack of ability to remember the steps and just completely disassociating from reality

This may have been the only way to deal with the aggressiveness of Jamie’s very visible bulge as his trackies rode higher and higher. Oti sits watching this texting a mere “LOL” to Kelvin. Not gonna lie, I spent most of the VT wondering what on earth this tattoo is

because to me it looks like a muscular humanoid wolf in biker gear and I am now completely convinced that Jamie Laing is a furry.
He’s dancing to the future Eurovision winning song Think About Things and I would quite like to know how pissed off Karen was that the Strictly social media post prior to the final was the cast recreating the video because I would be pretty pissed, although not as pissed off as I would be had they lumbered me with a keytar for the first 20 seconds of my routine meaning I could barely move

It’s a fun first dance and while Jamie certainly isn’t the best dancer, his legs are about 3 seconds behind everything else, he’s at least having fun with this weird aesthetic amalgamation of 80s disco and toilet paper advertisements

Charmin is going to be all over this, Andrex is a little too dedicated to those labradors and asking people in the street about how clean their butts feel. Although, he is slightly too tentative with his movements.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 4
Shirley: 5
Motsi: 5
Total: 14

Caroline Quentin and Johannes Radebe
American Smooth / Morning Train by Sheena Easton

Well if you were wondering who would be The Luvviest Luvvies, wonder no longer because it took all of seemingly 20 minutes of training before Caroline and Johannes melted into a puddle of happy tears as Caroline sobs “I love dancing!”

We must pool our collective resources and protect our Cinnamon Bun Royalty at all costs.

They’re dancing a railway themed American Smooth and God bless Covid for at least eradicating the Comedy VTs because you just know they were itching to have Caroline and Johannes go and surprise a carriage of unsuspecting and very grumpy commuters for an impromptu training session, but also it’s another railway set because the art department payed top dollar for those railway station set pieces so they will damn well use them every series until the end of time

I would hazard a guess that Covid has also had a toll on the costume department because they clearly just sent Caroline out to buy a dress from Jacques Vert and said they’d bedazzle it for her

I hope she gets to take it home with her because she looks lovely in it, and it suits the routine to the letter, adding movement and accentuating the lightness and effervescence of Caroline’s performance – I was hoping that she would be good and am very happy to report that she is. And then because it all went so perfectly Caroline spends the entire judging process desperately trying not to dissolve into another puddle of giddy tears as the judges lavish praises upon her

Truly the Luvviest.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig – 7
Shirley – 7
Motsi – 7

Max Power George and Dianne Buswell
Tango / Best Fake Smile by James Bay

Well if you wanted to guess how this was going to go the moment Dianne tells Max that he will be doing the tango, he says “oh, you’re going all Italian on me now?” – honey, it’s South American but I don’t entirely blame you because this show once did a Greek themed Argentina Tango which I am still not over and see playing before my eyes whenever I try to sleep. And just when you thought we were out of the woods of the comedy VTs BAM! right back in there as Dianne tries to get Max into the mood of his modelling themed tango by doing a photoshoot so he can show off his best modelling face

Literally the first boot of any cycle of America’s Next Top Model.

It doesn’t go super well for him, it’s very lacklustre and a bit clompy and his tango face is literally just pursed lips and dread behind the eyes

And it’s hard not to get distracted by Dianne being dressed up as artist who retired to the coast of Spain and started a string of steamy affairs in every local village

brb writing that summer beach read right now. They could have also at least gone the slight extra mile and bedazzled his medical bandage so that it didn’t look as incongruous as it did.

It’s pretty telling that it wasn’t that great a routine because the judges get very caught up in telling Max how attractive he and his MASSIVE NECK are and how putting him in a multitude of baggy layers is an affront to this. Shirley wishes they had been more in hold like a tango is meant to be – is this some Mortal Koreography Kombat brewing?

Judges’ Scores:
Craig – 6
Shirley – 5
Motsi – 6

Clara Amfo and Aljaz Skorjanec
Cha Cha Cha / Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa

Still can’t believe they’ve not mentioned her run on Masterchef where she tried to make a cheesecake using just about everything except cream cheese, but I suppose more people know her from Radio 1, I guess. She’ll always be Cheeseless Clara to me though <3

They claim her routine is set in the bright lights of London but it looks more like she’s trapped in a Virgin Media advert to me

I was absolutely petrified that Clara was going to end up being a terrible dancer because you may have noticed this might just be a Clara Amfo Stan Account masquerading as a recap blog but THANK GOD, she actually has rhythm and can dance, and do body rolls that don’t make me slightly nauseous! There’s a few areas she could work on, being more defined and forthright in her movements but the big one is maybe not looking like she’s just snaffled a load of a friend’s chips when they weren’t looking and now has to look like she hasn’t got anything in her gob

And bless Aljaz for choreographing in a pause in the middle for her to get her breath back – hopefully her stamina will increase over the course of the series, or until she’s unfairly booted in Week 5 and I get really mad about it. But for now she’s just super happy to be here and her jubilant kicking at the end of the routine is the purest form of joy we saw all night

Judges’ Scores:
Craig – 5
Shirley – 6
Motsi – 7

Personally I think 5 was a little schmuck, but at least she got a very special video message from Dua Lipa who half the country collectively learned was British.

Jacqui Smith and Anton du Beke
Foxtrot / Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Monty Python

I appreciate that they put out that social media video of the cast dancing to Think About Things purely because it at least got me prepared for expecting Jacqui to plumb new depths of terrible dancing – honestly the level of failure to find a rhythm on her part in that video could knock the Pyramids of Giza off the list of 7 Manmade Wonders of the World – it’s ASTONISHING.

I was also very confused about quite where their routine was heading when they apeared at the beginning of the show wearing a pair of rosettes

and I instantly had visions of a routine involving them herding a prize-winning cow around the dancefloor (I’m not saying Jacqui is a cow, but Anton is a bit of a Bullock) but I do believe this show has learned its lesson about having live animals appear ever since Judy Murray’s pair of Dalmatians went down like a lead balloon. As it turns the routine is themed around an Election Night disaster for Jacqui and it’s a bit mean to theme a dance around a complete fiasco but at least it’s not Anton bursting forth from your skirt like the worst reimagining of Alien you’ve ever seen. The routine is very safe, it’s a very Anton routine in that Jacqui sits behind a desk for the first 26 seconds while Anton mugs to camera and then there’s a hat and cane chorus line in the middle for an extensive amount of time, and Jacqui just looks utterly lost whenever she isn’t gripped to Anton like a free solo climber

but in hold and she’s at least not Kate Garraway levels of inept and Craig applauds her for being better at dancing than Theresa May, who was almost certainly at home watching as she is a known fan of the show, God bless.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig – 3
Shirley – 5
Motsi – 5

I do enjoy that because of the small audience the booing to Craig’s 3 just sounded like that guy outside West Minster who shouts about Brexit during BBC news broadcasts.

JJ Chalmers and Amy Dowden
Waltz / What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

Ok, so the show is absolutely making the decision to lean in HARD on JJ’s backstory about how he got his injury during his tour of Afghanistan with cameos from his “Marine Buddy” (which as a freudian slip I wrote as “Marine Bussy”), mentions of his brother’s wedding that he got a 2 weeks break during his Afghan Tour to attend and a later appearance from his little girl and all this means that by the Remembrance Weekend episode it may reach parodic heights. PACE YOURSELVES GUY.

It’s truly the waltziest waltz that ever waltzed; it’s muted colours, it’s sparkly and there’s enough dry ice to at least hide his feet during the first half

I personally had no fun watching it, it just wasn’t good and he’s so sweet and nice that you desperately want him to do well but he’s just not rhythmically inclined in anyway, but he is delightfully dorky as he starts lipsyncing halfway through and Amy immediately and very obviously tells him to stop which only throws him off even more and he becomes a bit embarrassed – bless every single one of his little cotton socks, and I dread his Latin now more than ever.
The judges don’t agree with me and seemingly rather liked it, or at least decided to look over the little errors because it’s hard to critique such an emotionally important dance in front of the person the dance was intended for and knowing his little girl is at home watching…

Judges’ Scores:
Craig – 6
Shirley – 6
Motsi – 7

Personally not sure it deserved more than Clara, I’d have put it more on a par with Max, as I think both have much the same issues.

Maisie “THE RINGAH” Smith and Gorka Márquez
Samba / Samba (Conga) by Gloria Estefan

I’ll have to give it to her, the confidence to stand on the stage alone and have a full solo dance sequence on the first stage (and not hide behind a keytar) is quite something

And she’s damn good, if a little insane looking during her solo sections in the middle when she’s gyrating like a flamingo having a bit of a conniption fit, but she’s just living her best life and clearly just so in love with the dance, and again it’s the perfect styling and vibe –

I feel like the show hasn’t been this well dressed in a while? Who knew all we needed for a cultural reset was a global pandemic?
My favourite part of the judging is Motsi essentially praising Maisie for looking like a deranged flamingo during her “shaking things” followed immediately by Craig telling her that she needed more control.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig – 8
Shirley – 8
Motsi – 8

Jason Bell and Luba Mushtuk
American Smooth / My Girl by The Temptations

Jason should on paper be insufferable – he is painfully American in every aspect but God bless him for bringing all of the Himbo energy to the show, someone had to do it! He’s just delightfully impressed by EVERYTHING – including the show’s utterly terribly CGI cars

Quite what these CGI cars added to the performances other than some baffling continuity as they were obviously only visible in the wide shot and just not there for any other angle remains a mystery. How much did that cost them, because it seemed to take awhile to set up? I’m also very upset and tempted to rescind my compliment about the styling of the show for putting Jason in this prep outfit

PUT HIM IN THE FOOTBALL UNIFORM OR A LETTERMAN JACKET AT THE LEAST. My God, is this too much to ask for? He’s only going to last about 3 weeks, strike while the iron is hot!
The only way to describe their routine is very Father/Daughter Dance – I hadn’t expected Jason to dad dance to quite this degree, it’s almost on the Michael Vaughan level – those gangly arms wildly flailing around – woof. But Luba’s dress is spectacular, even if she did get a little lost in it at one point

Craig wasn’t convinced by the mixing of foxtrot elements and disco-funk bits which I have to agree with – it felt very much like a deleted scene from Grease.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig – 4
Shirley – 6
Motsi – 6

Luba’s reaction to the 4 is an instantly iconic moment; just the absolute deathly silence and then a little “awww..” <3

Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice’s Awful Fringe
Paso Doble / End of Time by Beyonce

It is FAR TO EARLY in the competition to be breaking out the Beyonce Paso, I get that we’re not getting a Blackpool this year, but you could at least wait 5 weeks until your #PowerfulFeministMoment – it requires a level of experience that a week 1 dancer does not have.

Personally delighted by how much of their training footage just involves Giovanni wafting about in gauzy skirts

meanwhile Ranvir just gets incredibly unflattering candid footage of her climbing out of taxis at 3am to get work every morning where she has to pretend that she’s analysing politics for that well-known bastion of political journalism Good Morning Britain…

Her paso is fine, she certainly has the commitment to it and is absolutely living the fantasy, the styling is mostly great

Quite why we’re dancing a paso in high street ankle boots I don’t know, I genuinely think that something a little less obvious would have made the dance look a little less laboured. But truly the star of the show is her highlighter which is popping

and alas not enough to entirely pull focus from Giovanni’s fringe; honestly the wave of intense sadness that overcomes me whenever I see it is truly crushing – it’s the new seasonal depression.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig – 7
Shirley – 7
Motsi – 7

Nicola Adams and Katya Jones
Quickstep / Get Happy by Ella Fitzgerald

Katya is really leaning into the fact they can up and switch who leads and who follows in the dance, potentially leaning in a little too much in the first week as they chop and change at a rate of knots that I’m not sure anyone could keep track of, let alone Nicola who is trying to get used to having an over-exaggerated dance stance over her usual minimised boxing one.
They certainly have a lot of chemistry and the two of them gel together and I think that vastly improves the look of their routine, which at few times is a little clunky and lacking in steam – particularly that moment when Nicola fails to spin on her knee and sort of has to scoot around like a roomba stuck in the corner – it’s not quite Brendan and Charlotte’s pot stirrer levels of bad though. But I might also be being a little unfair on it because I was slightly distracted by the lack of tailoring on Nicola’s trousers

Why are we making mom jean cut dancing trousers? Is Vicky Gill ok? What was going through her head as she plastered strand after strand of pearls to Katya’s collar because I imagine it was nothing short of blind panic. I just think their costumes belied their talent and weighed the routine down.
They go down a storm with the judges who are able to look past the criminal cut of the trousers – it’s my cross to bear.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig – 7
Shirley – 7
Motsi – 7

May God be with them as they spend a week having to insist they weren’t favouring Nicola by scoring her a perfectly fair 21 out of 30. Meanwhile HRVY No-Vowels’ 9 will go completely unchecked.

Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse Who Are Not Called Team Buse Pronounced Bussy
Cha cha Cha / Pata Pata by Miriam Makeba

The big lead up to Bill and Oti’s performance is that Bill will be playing his own instrument (down in front) this turns out to be Bill pressing maybe three buttons on a keyboard, bashing his drums for 3 seconds which compared to Jamie Laing being stranded on a dancefloor with only a keytar for 20 whole seconds is a little lacklustre – I would honestly be ok with Bill just playing an instrument while Oti does a solo routine – it’s the best of both worlds.

Their cha cha is pretty dynamite though – I mean it’s not great and wont go down in the pantheon of memorable moments but for someone who could really have just leant into the LOL, I’M FUNNY ME thing, to see Bill doing a mostly genuine cha cha was refreshing. Craig seemingly did not agree describing it as some sort of espresso fuelled tarantella – which is fair, but I kind of prefer that to the middling disco-lite we usually get with our Latin numbers.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig – 3
Shirley – 6
Motsi – 6

I do like that fact the audience realised that 15 people booing sounds terrible so they stopped and we got to hear one of the pros, who I’m sure was Amy, shout “WHAT?” very loudly when Craig scored that 3.

HRVY No-Vowels and Janette Manrara-Took-All-The-Vowels
Jive / Faith by Stevie Wonder

And closing the show because they had absolutely no idea he would storm this routine and was the ringeriest ringer that ever ringered is HRVY ND JNTT (there, I made the obligatory joke). If you’re participating in the Strictly Come Dancing Drinking Game, you have to drink every time HRVY is pictured on his mobile phone, so say goodbye to your liver right now because that boy is glued to that front camera like a modern day Narcissus, and just to add to the narcissism he’s wearing his own merch to training sessions

What is brand can never die.

For his routine HRVY gets the classic Quick, Buy Something From River Island wardrobe treatment

He pretty much murders the routine – he is so on beat, so precise and fast it’s hard to fault him – although quite why he did the devil horns finger sign in the middle of a jive to a Stevie Wonder song I don’t know

It was only a matter of time before this show had a brush with Satanism, you’re as shocked as I am that it didn’t involve Katya.
They have a bit of a hairy moment in the middle where they break apart and do a very fast spin which HRVY comes out of with all the grace and poise of a puppy that just spent 10 seconds chasing its own tail, but he gets back in step when Janette grabs him. And if you thought that maybe they had locked up the 9 and 10 paddles for the first show, you would be wrong – or at least Motsi Mabuse, International Spy

managed to pick the lock and find that 9 paddle.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig – 8
Shirley – 8
Motsi – 9

I get that he was amazing and very good but I just feel like a 9 in the first show is pretty much a deathknell – there’s not much progression or journey from here and I don’t think you can really win without that unless suddenly he and Janette decide to play the midfield for a while.

Before we get to our final leaderboard we get to check in with Bruno who reads a series of non-committal statements about the dances that were probably written on Friday evening and recorded on Saturday morning. He had not watched one second of last night’s show and to even pretend he had is A SHAM. I’ve done student films, I know bad acting.

Our Final Leaderboard:

  1. HRVY’s Satanic Jive
  2. Maisie’s Epileptic Flamingo Samba
  3. Caroline and Johannes Being Luvvies
    Ranvir and Giovanni’s Premature Beyonce Paso
    Nicola and Katya’s Verse-Switch Quickstep
  4. JJ and Amy’s Guilt Trip of a Waltz
  5. Clara and Aljaz’s Cha Cha Through The Ethernet
  6. Max and Dianne’s 24 Hour Tango (Italian Subs)
  7. Jason and Luba at the CGI Car Dealership
  8. Bill and Oti’s Bar Side Cha Cha
  9. Jamie and Karen’s Toilet Paper Advert
  10. Jacqui and Anton’s Politically Disastrous Foxtrot

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