Strictly 2020 – Week 4, Main Show: Duchess of My Heart

The face you make when you’ve moved halfway across the world and thought you had escaped this show.

It’s been hell of a 48 hours in the Strictly Cinematic Universe and somewhere there’s a contingency producer tearing their hair out over how Claudia is going to manage a Zoom call with both Motsi and Bruno at the same time. And on top of that they’re dealing with the hardcore Jason Bell fans (who knew?) demanding he return to place Nicola. You’re doing amazing sweetie.

After the loss of Nicola and Katya, Claudia, Tess and Tess’s leg (who is now just a co-host) are obviously wearing their best funereal black, Claudia slightly more respectfully

And Tess just showing up like the widow whose 3rd husband just died mysteriously young.
Shirley apparently didn’t get the mournful memo and just wore the dress you wear when you’re cast as the angel in the junior school nativity play

And now making his judging panel debut after 10 years of trying to claw his way out of his contract with the devil that stated he could work on the show forever as long as he was the comedy – it’s a waiter Anton du Beke:

His first episode of judging isn’t great – the first day very rarely is, remember Darcey saying “Yar” after every sentence like she was a ballroom pirate? I imagine the producer’s notes for Anton after tonight were to go and immediately get an exorcism to get rid of the spirit of Len Goodman that was clearly taking over him like some sort of chipper, grandfather incubus. I do realise Len Goodman is not dead by the way. (Dated, 2020).

Miss Intergalactic Salsa Champion and HR LVLY ASSSSTNT
Salsa / Dynamite – BTS

Go girl, give us nothing.

One of my favourite recurrent events on Strictly is when Janette gets a salsa and makes it the most selfish, self congratulatory routine she can possibly do – and why not when you can do a pot stirrer to end all pot stirrers as well as whip yourself over someone’s shoulders, around their waist and over their head by just your own momentum and core strength alone?

But at least you can guarantee that there’ll actually be some salsa content and the routine wont be a glorified disco dance off.

I think it’s fair to say that Janette carried this whole routine – HRVY is good but he’s frantic through every second of this routine – clearly dreading every time he has to lift her with his little noodle arms

You lift one Cuban woman and suddenly you’re Superman.
His footwork isn’t the neatest it could be – it’s rather step-y. But he does manage the lifts fairly well, and even if the dismounts aren’t exactly graceful, they don’t have the same laboured look as Brendan Cole trying to lift Lisa Snowdon during their Show Dance.

The Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 8
Shirley: It’s Too Early For a 10 from Shirley
Mortal Vessel Housing Len Goodman’s Soul: 9

Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice’s Awful Hair
Cha-Cha-Cha / I Like It Like That – Pete Rodriguez

Do you know how I knew this would be a disaster? Because you can tell how good a routine is going to be based purely on the amount of buttons Giovanni has undone and a fully open shirt is pretty much the equivalent of setting off the foghorn, the flare guns and praying to The Kraken.

Ranvir has clearly dreaded the party Latin and it’s not for her lack of rhythm, she can clearly dance but so far her dances haven’t really required her to embody a youthful sexiness – and I think wardrobe could have done her more favours than dressing her and Giovanni up like the Characters of the Day in Death in Paradise

Ranvir clearly killed her husband with a poisoned dart in order to pursue a relationship with the hot waiter, Giovanni.

She’s definitely better in hold than she is when she’s out on her own but even then she’s stumbling over her own movements and obviously hating every second of this godforsaken routine and contemplating the quickest way to contract COVID to escape this.

But on a positive note the show has finally realised that Ranvir knows people who aren’t Piers Morgan and she gets a video message from Susanna Reid that does sound a bit like she’s trying to get her to join a pyramid scheme #GirlBoss.

The Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 5
Shirley: 7
Len Goodman’s Canopic Jar: 8

Max F*ckin’ George and Dianne Buswell
American Smooth / It Had To Be You – Harry Connick Jr.

It’s nice that Max has eventually managed to escape the bizarre themeing that has thus far been foisted onto his routine: the model photoshoot, the fairground, THE SIMPSONS NIGHTMARE and now he gets to do a standard 40s jazz bar American Smooth to a Harry Connick Jr. track while Dianne looks like an absolute dream

Vicky Gill truly outdid herself this week – nobody was dressed *terribly*.

Unfortunately the beautiful styling of the routine doesn’t really translate to Max’s dancing as he looks incredibly awkward and kind of squats his way around the dancefloor looking like an old man rushing to be the first one to get his paper in the morning

His arm extensions are more like karate chops and then any semblance of elegance is completely obliterated as after the final dramatic dip Max just screams “FUCKING GET IT!” right into Dianne’s face like he just scored a goal at the school sports day and will promptly be sent off to the sin bin,

leaving Claudia to blindly apologise for any offense caused whether you heard it or not.
But hey, we finally got to see some personality from Max which is an improvement!

The Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 5
Shirley: 7
The Possession of Anton du Beke: 8

This Military Recruitment Advert
Jive / Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy – Bette Midler

Despite JJ and Amy being dressed in full military regalia and dancing to Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, this is still somehow less on the nose than that time Saffron Barker was dressed as a literal poppy field during the Remembrance Weekend episode.
And not only his JJ getting to wear his uniform again he also gets a video call from Prince Harry sans Meghan, Duchess of My Heart – I spent most of the video call conversation very concerned that JJ was wearing his junior school PE shorts and had a webcam pointing right up them

so forgive me for not full taking in anything Harry had to say.
It all very much comes across as the show preparing to say goodbye to JJ this weekend, it would be a fitting final chapter from him – the only spanner in the works being that both Max and Ranvir were kind of awful and we know how much the audience loves to vote for World War 2 ephemera.

His jive lacks a lot of swiftness and tension – it’s very loosey goosey and his feet look like they’re about to swing off. It also really doesn’t help that Amy is giving everyone a kilowatt smile and JJ is just deadpan trying his best to concentrate and remember his steps

He is for the most part in time with Amy but it does seem more to be because Amy is straining herself to allow him to keep up – which in many ways is the sign of a good pro, Janette certainly didn’t grant HRVY the same courtesy.

The Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 4
Shirley: 6
Len Goodman’s Ouija Board: 7

The Stacey Dooley Fashion Doll and Floridian Retirement Home Action Man
Cha-Cha-Cha / Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper

After last week Maisie is having to spend a lot of time concentrating on improving her footwork – and what beter way to do so than to talk to previous 4th place contetants Jake “Gurning” Wood and Davood Ghadami, who due to the isolation restriction have to appear via video call and both look like they’re in a crime drama threatening someone not to rat them out

Get better lighting lads.

For their Cha-Cha they’ve been lumbered with a dollhouse theme and I just can’t get over the fact they had a week to design the dollhouse graphic and nobody realised it looked absolutely awful and should have been scrapped

Why do you need it? You’ve given them a full Barbie’s Dreamhouse kitchenette to work with and dressed Maisie and Gorka up as the hottest Christmas gifts of the year – The Stacey Dooley Fashion Doll and Floridian Retirement Home Action Man:

Available now at the fake Woolworths relaunch.

There is A LOT of faffing about at the beginning with her and Gorka doing their posable doll routines (Craig calling them Robots <3) – and I’m honestly shocked after WEEKS of HRVY constantly mentioning his social media presence it is Maisie who gets to be the one to use a mobile phone as a prop. I hope she was checking to see if she still had less engagement than Bill on Facebook.
The cha-cha somewhat gets lost to the necessity of selling the dollhouse theme and I think a lot of it has to do with the weird proportions her outfit gives her because Vicky Gill decided to strap a Furbie to Maisie’s boobs

It just makes her look very top heavy and slightly over balanced but it is still a fun routine – but that’s really not enough to save her from a scheduled scoring plateau as the judges begin to tease out Pissy Gorka because someone is going to have to start a tired feud with Shirley or Craig eventually. Although based on his socks he’s better off picking a fight with Vicky Gill.

The Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 7
Shirley: 8
Celebrity Séance with Anton du Beke: 9

Oti and Clyde
Street / Rapper’s Delight – The Sugarhill Gang

Oti and Bill would like to remind you to recycle.

I think everyone having seen the training footage on It Takes Two spent most of the week absolutely dreading this routine and the fact it was almost guaranteed to be a Dad Dancing Cringefest of You’ve Been Framed wedding blooper proportions. And then for their pre-dance VT we don’t see much of their training, it’s mostly just Bill sitting Oti in a darkened room and making her watch old clips of him while giving her a lecture on the history of The Sugarhill Gang

which to me reads as a hostage situation.

It turns out, as it so often does, that Oti really knows how to handle a theme and we needn’t have worried at all. It’s sort of a hodge-podge of The Blue Brothers, Men in Black and the classic sausage episode of ‘Allo ‘Allo – which all comes together to create the best gangster film we’ve ever seen:

The Godfather COULD NEVER. But what it really reminded me of was the multiple random dance scenes they have in The Umbrella Academy – particularly the one from season 2 in the hair salon.
Bill is by no means the best dancer but it’s hard not to see him winning off the back of this routine alone – it was a real crowd pleaser. I am curious to know what a straightforward, no frills, no comedy Bill Bailey waltz looks like though.

The Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 8
Shirley: 10
Anton and Len Goodman on a Tin Can Telephone: 9

Caroline Quentin and Johannes Radebe
Waltz / With You I’m Born Again – Billy Preston & Syreeta Wright

This was as cookie cutter as you could get, from the song choice to the outfit that Vicky Gill whips up for every woman over the age of 50 – seriously she’s made it so many times she could probably do it blindfolded and with her hands tied behind her back.

It’s a very simple routine – there’s not much to write home about: it’s elegant, classic and beautifully executed as always – Caroline once again getting to show off her leg lifts

It’s not as endearing a personality trait spontaneously bursting into tears of happiness but I’ll take it. I do wish they had maybe done something more interesting with the umbrella rather than just passing it from one to the other like a very sedate Victorian courtship routine, but we saw what props did to Jacqui Smith so best not to risk it too much.

The Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 7
Shirley: 7
Namdoog Nel: 8

El Tweedledee and La Tweedledum
Samba / Bambaléo – Gipsy Kings

Black Swan, 2010. (Dir. Darren Aronofsky)

So dressing up Jamie and Karen as twinning mariachi bandmates and making them dance a samba to Bambaléo was absolutely meant to be a joke, right?

Even the VT of Jamie dressing up as Karen like he’s about to enact a home invasion on the 15th Purge sequel was leading us into a joke of a routine

I hate it SO MUCH.
And then Karen and Jamie proceeded to take the routine entirely seriously and kind of knock it out of the park? Delicious. And sure, their costumes were doing a lot of the heavy lifting – the fringe certainly adding a sense of rhythm to Jamie’s wildly swinging toddler hips, but even despite his mild shortcomings he manages to keep up with Karen and who of us could have predicted that Jamie Dodger, heir to a biscuit empire and accident prone maverick would get a 9 and end up 3rd on the leaderboard after dancing a samba?

2020, what a year.

The Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 8
Shirley: 8
Len Goodman in an Elaborate Costume: 9

Clara Amfo and Aljaz Skorjanec
Charleston / Baby Face – Julie Andrews

Clara in slicked down fingerwaves? An absolute dream. In fact, the styling of this routine is like the most delightful early Sunday evening period drama – remember when Cramford and Lark Rise to Candelford were the pinnacle of Sunday tele? I could really do with a show about a parfumier falling in love with a 20s starlet right about now. Dibs on that screenplay.

I thought for a Charleston this was in many ways very restrained – there weren’t any overly acrobatic, nonsense-y moves (think Chis Hollins and Ola Jordan doggy paddling across the floor on top of one another) – it was just very straightforward, Charleston In A Bag, just add water! And I quite liked that – I still think Sophie Ellis Bextor’s po-faced Charleston is the best on the show for much the same reason.
She and Aljaz are obviously still gurning their way through it and I imagine catching a record number of flies. Clara does struggle with her stamina and towards the end of the dance her arms become a little floppy and border on looking like a Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man!

But it’s the revelatory mid-series Charleston that was very much on the cards for Clara since the outset and while a Charleston to Baby Face might be a bit of an easy lob – it was a fun routine nontheless.

The Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 9
Shirley: 10
VR Len Goodman: 10

I did very much enjoy Mosti coming on to announce that the phonelines were open and spending most of her airtime just pouring praise over Clara – because who amongst us wouldn’t?

And now for our Leaderboard:

  1. Clara’s Smell of Success
  2. Janette’s Pole Routine
    • Gangsta’s Paradise
  3. The Wonder Twins
  4. Barbie and Ken’s Kitchen Sink Drama
  5. Caroline Does a Very Nice Waltz™
  6. [Redacted due to Expletives]
  8. Yvan eht Nioj

One thought on “Strictly 2020 – Week 4, Main Show: Duchess of My Heart

  1. jan butcher

    Brilliant. So pleased to find these recaps. Was missing Monkseal so much this year. Lovely to find you. Thank you.

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