Strictly 2020 – The Finale: La Roulé-Boulé

I see someone’s still after a seat at the judging table.

The finale is here! Any one of Maisie “The Ringah” Smith, SR HRVY, THE VWLLSS or Bill “The Magician” Bailey could win! Jamie “Biscuit Bones” Laing is playing purely for a nice box of chocolates at the end.

I’ve tried my best to get all of my recaps up the day after the episode and I apologise for not doing the same with the finale – I was doing great until I got to Jamie’s showdance during which I lost my mind and all I could see was Jamie Laing being hoisted into the air and having a religious experience.

Because it’s the final we have to open with a trip down memory lane which is being done in the most strangely sinister way as Maisie enters the frame in silhouette from the darkness of the studio like a jumpscare from The Nun

Our finalists then all have to stand in the studio as they watch clips of their dances play on a multitude of screens and with the blue light, the slow motion, the swelling music and the way the audio clips are edited it feels like a scene from Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless mind where Jim Carrey starts having his memories deleted

Imagine that as an incentive to win? Don’t win the glitterball trophy? Too bad, your memories are erased. Although I can think of a few celebs who might appreciate that… Lulu.

Bill obviously is looking more like a magician than ever (this is important and comes up later)

but really what I truly want to talk about is how Karen is having her own personal Movie Week and has come dressed as Austin Powers

It’s a better costume than Anton managed for his Salsa last year.
Maisie and Gorka meanwhile look like Eastenders’ next big power couple

I cannot wait for him to cameo when it’s safe to have guest stars on set again – make him play the most unconvincing 17 year old!
It’s interesting what they’ve done with Maisie this finale – she’s 18, the youngest finalist they’ve ever had and yet they play her as very mature – I don’t think they ever even mention that’s she the youngest finalist outside of a brief mention from Claudia. I think that if I watched this episode and this episode only, I would genuinely have thought she was closer to Jamie Laing’s age than she was HRVY’s – I mean they literally Veronica Lake her later in the show

We love a vintage Hollywood makeover.
I’m sure this is certainly due to the flack she has got over the week for being “too giggly” or excited but at the end of day she’s an 18 year old stage school kid, that’s kind of their MO and as someone who worked and lived with theatre kids throughout university I think I probably find it more endearing than most people – they’re literally willing to take ANY role for their first few credits, I still feel guilty about the one guy we made act as the Wolfman but instead of a werewolf he was a golden retriever. When he’s famous I’ll release the tapes.

With our finalists having aired their desires to win it’s time to start the show proper with Neil and some gratuitous Instagram filter level special effects

With his hands lighting up and then him animating the other couples by passing his light onto them like some sort of ballroom magician, it does begin to look a little bit like one of that viral experiment that showed how easily germs could be spread at a buffet

which is an unfortunate thing to evoke given recent news but also, a timely reminder to WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS. Also, remember buffets? Woof, that’s a concept that’s never coming back.
Patient Zero Neil eventually gives over his modicum of screen time, which he has absolutely done the most with in order to angle for a partnership next year, to our finalists who get to do a little runway walk like an American graduation ceremony, Bill of course brings back his “hair flips”

and then Maisie having a boogie in the background completely steals focus from HRVY

And Jamie is excited as ever to just be part of the show

Tess and Claudia don’t get quite the same entrance but they do brings some LOOKS

I’m not about to Daily Mail her but I feel like Claudia has worn this dress before? It’s stunning so I wouldn’t blame her but if feels familiar. And Tess is brave to wear baco foil given the memories it brings up

I can’t even wrap a turkey without mentally replaying the moment Brendan starts swinging Lisa Snowdon around like a gibbon trying to rock a baby to sleep.
Tess and Claudia promise us a show to lift our spirits following the news that for many this year’s Christmas is cancelled and then Claudia spectacularly cuts that sentiment short by revealing Robbie Williams will be performing, given that his most recent public appearance was what can only be described as “an incident” on The One Show in which Alex Jones mostly just pulled this face

It’s a brave choice on the BBC’s part. I suppose given that she’s pregnant and therefore in the vulnerable category Paloma Faith managed to escape her contractual obligation to perform in Strictly during an album release year. Remember when they had her perform her song about a cheating husband the week after the Seann and Katya kiss? Iconic.
As it’s the final everyone has to bring a certain level of regality and glamour, Shirley has come looking like she’s about to attend a state dinner in The Crown

Motsi is wearing what can only be described as the meeting point of Dolly Parton and Cher, and somehow pulling it all off with aplomb

And Craig looks like he’s about to play a lovely smooth jazz piece in the hotel lobby after the show

Could have done with more glitz but will accept the novelty of a white tux.

The first dances are the ones that the judges, AND DEFINITELY NOT THE PRODUCERS BASED ON SONG LICENSING, have chosen for the couples to dance again. In order to do this they have been unnecessarily taken up to the top of The Gherkin building and I feel like nobody told them they would be filming wide shots

Shirley wearing a mother of the bride style blazer with jeans <3

HRVY and Janette
Jive / Faith – Stevie Wonder & Ariana Grande

During their deliberation Craig HEAVILY pushed for HRVY to redo his Viennese Waltz – a dance I had completely forgotten about other than the fact he was holding a mining lamp for some reason. Motsi however pushes for him to redo his week 1 jive because he has gained a lot for skills and because they need to remind the audience at home that the jive can actually be performed decently – 2020 was not a vintage year for that dance. The only thing he really has to change is to try and not be upstaged by his neon microphone stand that spent most of its time in his original performance bobbing up and down and well he certainly made sure he wouldn’t forget the microphone stand any time soon

Could have done without that.
It is nice to see a jive that you don’t feel is going to go wrong at any moment but there is definitely some Three Dance Fatigue going on – his feet aren’t pointed during his kicks AT ALL and he looks very precarious on his spins and a little jelly-ish in the legs – which is fair because he has also been training for a Salsa style Showdance and his Chorus Line American Smooth this week.

To his credit – of everyone he has coped with the franticness of the jive the best – even Maisie’s felt on the verge of going slightly awry (more because of the general vibe of Musicals Week than her actual ability) and there is something very endearing about his little Twiglet legs going like the clappers – it’s very Looney Tunes. There are still the tell tale signs of it being a Week 1 dance – there are numerous stopping points for him to recalibrate and they are done in the most Janette way possible

It’s certainly a good dance to open the show with and with it being the final it is praised to within an inch of its life and obviously gets two 10s – I think the 9 from Craig is more accurate, there were just a few moments where it slipped slightly.

Judges’ Scores:
Shirley: 10
Motsi: 10

A Mullet, a Cape and Karen Hauer’s Wig
Charleston / Zero to Hero from Hercules

the judges were in a rock and hard place with Jamie and which routine to choose because they can’t pick one from too recently (the cut off seemed to be Week 3) because that’d be boring and seem repetitive but they also can’t choose one that landed the couple in bottom two because that would seem like you’re setting them up for failure so their only two options were his Charleston and his Samba. I was personally pulling for that Twinning Mariachi Samba which has been one of my favourite routines this year but inevitably they opted for Herculean Charleston because Shirley gets to do this again

Whatever gives you joy in 2020.
Karen and Jamie’s body language suggests that they too were pulling for that insane samba reprisal.

but bless him because he puts on that full outfit looking more like a bootleg action figure than ever before

Big shout out to Vicky Gill who promised she would alter the cape after it consumed most of the performance last time and evidently didn’t both doing because she was busy sewing an entire swan to Maisie’s showdance outfit. I don’t blame her for her priorities.
Jamie knew he had a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning the show so was just going out to have fun and be his usual joyous self and on that level it worked – there are numerous mistakes, he and Karen knock elbows more than a few times and I imagine the audio picked up by the mics is just untransmissible cursing. Although they do still choose to air the Pony Play bit in the middle OF the routine

The guest choreographers were evidently VERY Lockdown Horny between this outburst and Dali-esque Simpsons Erotica.
In terms of being an improvement he at least managed to finish the final lift successfully and lowered Karen as gracefully as you can lower someone that’s straddling your shoulder

It’s a pity because I feel like dropping Karen to the ground like a sack of spuds was kind of what made everyone love the routine last time. The Judges, because it’s the final, can’t trash the routine – that would be rude and mean after the papers and Twitter have done enough of that. Tess immediately comes to Motsi who is not prepared for it and lets out the longest “well” I’ve ever heard and the panic behind her eyes and she searches through the patented Strictly Book of Faint Praise

She does note that his weight distribution was significantly better than last time. There’s a lot of praise for his characterisation and ability to smile through the pain – wig glue is A BITCH.

Judges’ Scores:
Shirley: 9
Motsi: 9

Jamie being absolutely delighted with an 8 and Karen telling him to calm down <3 I wish I had his enthusiasm FOR ANYTHING.

Quickstep / Talk to the Animals – Bobby Darin

Apparently Craig and Motsi decided they both wanted to sabotage Bill and Oti because they want him to dance either the Jive or the Argentine Tango – absolutely his two worst performances and recent enough to know that he probably hasn’t progressed enough to improve them, also HIS COWBOY PASO DOBLE IS RIGHT THERE! Thankfully Shirley overrules them and forces them to concede to making him do the Dr. Dolittle (not the film version where they pull a set of bagpipes out of a dragon’s arse using only a leek) which yes, does mean that the portal to the CGI Animal Nightmare Realm is once again open

That monkey jumpscare is worse than anything that happened in the film Monkey Shine or Harry and the Henderson’s which I for most my life believed was a horror film because I watched it aged 5 and Harry has haunted my dreams ever since, to the point where I cannot watch Orangutans on a nature documentary. I apologise for heaping my trauma on you in the middle of this recap – it’s hard to get a therapist right now.

The thing is, the routine doesn’t need the gimmicky graphics – it’s such good choreography, it has enough props already and Bill’s a very charismatic dancer. His technique isn’t the best, his frame is a little hunched and crumpled but he’s light on his feet, his hands are a whole different story

I’m not even sure a human hand should be able to do that?

And of course the whole thing has to end on my greatest mortal enemy, that damned elephant slowly roomba-ing across the floor and just to make it worse this time it’s BIGGER

It makes me actively want to take money away from the World Wildlife Fund – BURN THE PANDAS TO THE GROUND. I will buy ivory just to spite it.

The Judges, benefitting from not having to witness the Loxodontine Menace love the whole thing and Craig is delighted to see the routine again – DON’T LIE! You wanted that horrendous Andy Warhol Pirates in Paris Jive! There’s video evidence of this fact.

Judges’ Scores:
Shirley: 10
Motsi: 10

Maisie and Gorka
Samba / Samba (Conga) – Gloria Estefan

The absolute highlight of the judges discussing which dance to give Maisie is Shirley pulling the pissiest face when Motsi suggests she re-dance the samba because she wanted the American Smooth

she ain’t getting her way because the BBC is not paying for “Into The Unknown” twice – they spent most of the budget on getting Queen for Bill’s showdance, they aren’t made of money. Motsi gets her way and Maisie gets to revive the Frenetic Flamingo Samba from Week 1

I will covet that dress until the day I die – in fact most of Maisie’s outfits have been fantastic, possibly the best dressed contestant since Sophie Ellis-Bextor – the Barbie Furby boobs aside (also not counting the wigs).

The main give away that the original routine was performed in week 1 is that the dress is now 9 weeks old and shedding EVERYWHERE as Maisie glides around the dance floor effortlessly – her ability to make every move seem easy should not go understated – that solo across the length of the floor?

Honestly magical. And her spins are PHENOMENAL – not a single slip or stutter, she’s bang on the rhythm every time she comes out of one. The only minor error is the final few seconds where it feels a little laboured as she doesn’t quite get through Gorka’s legs very quickly and just sort of sits there for a second

I too would stop and admire the view.
But it’s a great routine and you know it because even Shirley is going bonkers for it

It’s mainly because Maisie “finally got her feet right” which I feel hasn’t really been a problem for at least the last 2 or 3 weeks? Craig goes in and does some major RINGAH damage control and goes along with the Maisie Has Messy Footwork narrative – it was literally just her American Smooth and that mess of a Cha Cha Cha that was bad?

Judges’ Scores:
Shirley: 10
Motsi: 10

And so at the end of that it’s a three way tie at the top of the leaderboard and Jamie sitting 3 points below like the Pluto of the Strictly Solar System. And as the vote lines open the details are here to be read out by Joanna Page

This is as much Gavin and Stacey content as I am willing to accept. No more. The quota is full.

And now it’s onto the moment we’ve all been waiting for: The Showdances. The perfect storm of emotional sincerity, obscene showboating and wildly high concepts and oh boy, did this year supply us with some high grade performances. Nothing quite the disaster of SNOWDANCE but closer to it than any other year.

Janette Manrara Ft. HRVY
ShowDance / Boogie Wonderland – Brittany Murphy

When I say that my favourite part of this routine is Aljaz being VERY excited for it, I’m not lying

Ok that’s a little rude, Janette’s ability to defy any limit that physics has tried to put on the human experience was also very fun.

HRVY and Janette’s showdance is themed all around music festivals because we haven’t been able to have them this year – THANKS FOR THE REMINDER. But truly the main theme is Janette’s Manrara’s 8 Years of Pent-up Nonsense Choreography – because she has been choreographing this routine since her run with Jake Wood. HRVY is worried about the lifts, he needn’t be worried because I’m pretty sure Janette could somehow pull off these lifts without him participating – it’s her super power.

The dance starts and the staging’s intent is to be that of the Glastonbury Pyramid Stage (dream big HRVY) but it looks a lot more like a pair of aliens boarding their mothership

HRVY’s pearlescent white trousers do not help with the over all intergalactic explorer theme

No one is wearing white trousers to Glastonbury – THINK OF THE STAINS.

The strongest portions of the routine are the more commercial side of it – the breakdown in the middle is flawlessly executed and entirely on beat although choosing to make a point of drawing attention to HRVY’s butt was certainly a choice

It’s a very white boy bum.
One of the lifts in the middle seems to got a little wonky, I think HRVY caught Janette wrong and slightly over balanced but all of the other 99 lifts were very well executed and didn’t send him barrelling into next week by the sheer force of Janette’s inhibition.

And then it’s The Moment. The one we’ve all been waiting for. THE JANETTE MANRARA POT STIRRER – seriously, just name the move after her at this point

It’s an incredible feat of timing and balance as she lowers into it and rises out of it but I still struggle to not see Charlotte Hawkins and Brendan spectacularly screwing it up when they tried the pot stirrer

But my God does Janette not just burn when she dances? She is the closest embodiment to the cult classic piece cinema Showgirls that we’ve got. Katya is maybe a contender but something about Janette when she gets on that stage is pure Nomi Malone.

Judges’ Scores:
Shirley: 10
Motsi: 10

Year 6’s Annual Gymnastics Showcase
ShowDance / I’m Still Standing – Elton John

“I DO A ROLY POLY!” he has been screaming all week – gearing us up for the imminent showdance that is secretly just a junior school gymnastics showcase that the parents have been unwillingly dragged along to see and will have to buy a £10 DVD at the end to relive the experience forever.

The theme of the dance is “The Dance Off” because, as they say in screenwriting, write what you know. (That’s really bad advice by the way, DON’T LISTEN TO IT.) It was hard to know what to expect because 90% of Jamie’s training VT is just him jumping around but I did not expect was for this to start as literally the Dance Off

And then for Jamie to fly forth like the villain in an X-Men film

Buckle in folks, it’s A TRIP. Also worth pointing out that merely a week before Christmas and they just Jesus’d Jamie Laing of all people. And then after Jamie has summoned his ghostly army

and wrought untold chaos upon Elstree he stands atop a box for quite some time while Karen does all of the dancing

Category is: Child in a Nativity Play That Forgot Their Words.
Of course it’s because he had to take the harness off but quite why he stood there at the end like an action figure in Toy Story when a child enters a room I’m not sure, did he now think he would be on camera at that point?

I cannot show you how much just… jumping there is in this routine (even after the VT I didn’t expect it) but here’s a selection of my favourite Jamie Laing Jumps

Remember when Craig complimented JJ on his jumping abilities? What does Jamie get? NOTHING BUT DUST.
Between him bouncing off the walls like a child who just devoured three bags of Haribo, Jamie treats us to some jazz hands and The Monkey

Bless him for trying to convince us that this routine was difficult to learn – that’s literally just the opening of the Johnny Bravo cartoon and I danced along to that as a child! And of course the pièce de résistance, the roly poly, the forward roll, la roulé-boulé

Shirley and Motsi give this a 10 by the way. And then it ends in a flash of white and raised fists in Bottom Two Solidarity

and much like the neuralyzer in Men in Black – I remember nothing of what happened just before this. Did HRVY even do a showdance?

I can’t really even be mad at these two – they have given us nothing but joy all series, some top meme-able content and this routine just summed that up so perfectly. I will never get the image of Jamie Laing of Made in Chelsea fame descending from the heavens to dance a child’s gymnastics routine out of my head, and sure it’s a little bit for the same reasons as SNOWDANCE but infinitely more rewatchable when sober.

Judges’ Scores:
Shirley: 10
Motsi: 10

Bill and Oti
ShowDance / The Show Must Go On – Queen

Not to sound like I think I’m this powerful but I have been saying ALL SERIES that Bill is unable to not look like a magician and low and behold

A magic act themed showdance. I FEEL VINDICATED AND SEEN. Also, where can one purchase the Oti Mabuse themed deck of cards? I’m not a gambler but with those I could be.

The routine is amazing – it’s one part The Greatest Showman (DIE ALREADY), one part The Prestige and one part Frankenstein as Bill magically summons forth a vengeful assistant from whatever Circle of Hell circus folk go to

The fact Oti Mabuse can wear the costume of a magician’s assistant from the 80s and a bedazzled crotch curtain and still maintain utterly entrancing and not look like a laughingstock is an unteachable skill. Mere mortals can but wish.

Bill for the most part is keeping up with Oti – the routine clearly takes a toll on him in the middle as he falls ever so slightly behind and the sharpness of the paso doble elements wears off (and yes, this routine is just their Spaghetti Western Paso on steroids) but he still manages that lift that he was so worried about

He does look a little unsteady and as though he’s trying to move a particularly ungainly piece of furniture but at least he didn’t pull a full Johnny Vegas in Taskmaster and fall over for no real reason again

And despite his tiredness towards the end, the finale of the dance is magnificently batshit insane

Hang that screencap in The Louvre

What I really appreciated about the routine though is that for every solo piece Oti does, Bill gets one too – it doesn’t have that feeling being purely about Oti that a lot of the pros tend to inject into their showdances – which I truly don’t really mind because the pros deserve a chance to truly shine on their own sometimes but it has to be balanced.

Judges’ Scores:
Shirley: 10
Motsi: 10

You’re damn right he got 30, you don’t pay for Queen and only give it 29.

Maisie and Gorka
ShowDance / We Need a Little Christmas by Adele Dazeem

And now for something completely different. In Gorka’s own words it is a “Golden age of Hollywood movie star Fred and Ginger style Christmas dance.” and I don’t think there is a better to sum it up than that – it’s a delightfully Christmassy tonic to the festive devastation that proceeded tonight’s show, and the outfit:

I want the opportunity to twirl around a room with all seven swans a swimming stapled to my hem. THAT’S THE REAL CHRISTMAS DREAM.
Like the dress the routine is dazzlingly light and elegant – her poise in the lifts is perfection

It’s a showdance that truly transcends the show and feels like it should be on a global stage. They really have been such a good partnership and Gorka has grown SO MUCH this series – he was always a bit of a second tier pro in terms of personality but he really came out of his slightly grizzly shell this year. And clearly Maisie trusts him because she pulls off the “Bambi Jump In Fall” without a moment’s hesitation

I don’t know why Gorka calls it the “Bambi Jump In Fall” but I think he may have confused Bambi and Pocahontas?

Only slightly problematic.
And it all ends with the sun literally shining out of her ass and Gorka dead on the floor


My *one* SLIGHT complaint is that I would have changed Maisie’s lipstick – it was a very dark shade of red and throughout the routine I was slightly concerned that she had smudged it purely because he face was going a mile a minute.

Judges’ Scores:
Shirley: 10
Motsi: 10

Now we come to final and most emotional part of the show – the couples re-dance their favourite dances – or at least one of the few that didn’t land you in the bottom 2. They also largely choose their dance based on what they want to be wearing if they win, but can you IMAGINE if Jamie had won wearing the ASOS sales bin?

HRVY and Janette
American Smooth / One (Singular Sensation) from Chorus Line

I might be the few in the minority but my God I hate his routine so much – and not even for anything HRVY does – the staging of it is abysmal.

Also, amazing that this gold American Smooth had to follow Maisie gold American Smooth style Showdance. Somebody in the scheduling didn’t think this through.

It’s as good and showman-like as ever – or at least the parts of that you can actually see properly and when they aren’t intertwined like some sort of glitzy amoeba

It’s by far and way HRVY’s most memorable routine – a little brave of Motsi to dub it “the dance of the decade” seeing as we aren’t even a year into it and CLEARLY Jamie’s showdance is the dance of the decade.

I appreciate his efforts at trying to egg the paltry crowd into clapping on time but somehow giving a full Glastonbury mainstage “COME ON!” to the audience of maybe 30 people while you are wearing a gold suit creates a very disparate image

At some point they do fling their hats into the audience and somehow one of them does makes its way to Motsi’s head and weirdly completes her outfit

When is the Motsi Mabuse Circus opening?
Because it’s his final dance HRVY does get VERY emotional and cries, as Tess helpfully calls them: “REAL TEARS!”

And because she has come within 6 feet of a genuine human emotions TessBot begins short-circuiting and whimpering “oh dear!” over and over again like C3PO.

Shirley is delighted with HRVY’s dance and finally after 4 years gets to use the amazing 7 Ps: “Practice and Perseverance of Postural Principles Promises Physical Perfection” which sounds less like dancing advice and more like a riddle the sphinx gives and promptly eats after you answer it with “What?”. Four whole years Shirley Ballas has kept that fortune cookie wisdom in her pocket. Very much worth sitting on that, can’t wait for them to milk it for all it’s worth next year. But she has to promise to say it faster and faster every time.

Judges’ Scores:
Shirley: 10
Motsi: 10

Lawyers4U: The Street Musical
Street / Gonna Make You Sweat – C+C Music Factor

It’s their last day in the training room and both Karen and Jamie look like they’re on their way to start a new life in a witness protection programme

Although, after the reaction they got from being saved over Ranvir I can’t say I blame them.

Of course these two have chosen to redo the arcade street routine and so we had to re-witness BOTH Karen and Jamie rolling around on the floor like two half gassed cockroaches

Did they not think to practice the breakdancing? They saw my joke about it looking like a Lawyers4U advert on It Takes Two! JAMIE LIKED THE TWEET.

I’m honestly not sure if this didn’t get worse since last time, or if I just thought this was the weirdest they would ever go and now subsequently I have lived through and possess the knowledge of Jamie’s showdance that this seems moderate? I never noticed how repetitive it was last time and then when Jamie turns up the tempo he loses it completely and it becomes a battle of flailing elbows and stamping feet.

The judges of course have to be nice and it’s a lot of “You make me happy!” and they don’t for a second talk about the dumpster fire that is his technique, but they’re right. I could watch Jamie dance anything and I would probably be entertained – that goofy grin and childlike intensity to succeed is admirable and does make great television. I draw the line at giving him 10 though.

Judges’ Scores:
Shirley: 10
Motsi: 10

Boti and Clyde:
The Only Good Couple’s Choice Routine / Rapper’s Delight – Sugarhill Gang

Ah yes, the modern reinvention of gangster cinema – a masterpiece sure to sweep the board at this year’s Minimalist Oscars in which its only competition is The Sonic The Hedgehog Movie and Tenet – a truly vintage year.
This was absolutely the routine that really secured the win for Bill when he first did it, right?

Me liking this routine is not an endorsement of Couple’s Choice IN THE LEAST. There will always be an exception and of course Oti and Bill manage to be it.

Bill fumbles his hand movements a little bit here and there – it’s that 3 dance fatigue, it gets them all eventually -I will say he wasn’t as affected by it as I thought he would be, he still gives the dance some real welly – granted a significant portion of the routine is just sitting down

What really makes the routine sing is the style of it – it still feels “Strictly” – the show has desperately tried to reinvent itself to capture the teen audience (I don’t begrudge this or care about them casting YouTubers without Wikipedia pages) but I think where the magic of the show lies is in its retro-throwbacks – this routine, HRVY’s Chorus Line American Smooth (without the staging), Every Single Charleston and Everything Caroline Did Until She Was Eliminated.

Of course the last time Motsi watched this she was actually at home like the rest of us schlubs – remember those two weeks? It feels like centuries ago. She loves it more in the studio than ever and just how easily Bill moves about the floor. Shirley dubs him a Bona Fide Dancer and I wonder how Jamie felt in that moment after essentially just getting told “You had fun – and that’s what matters”.

Judges’ Scores:
Shirley: 10
Motsi: 10

Maisie and Gorka
Quickstep / When You’re Smiling – Andy Williams

Watching this I did realise that it’s essentially the more palatable version of HRVY’s Charleston, or at least HRVY’s Charleston was the less palatable version of this joyful Muppet Caper of a Quickstep – I could watch her cartwheel in this frothy strawberry milkshake gown on an endless loop forever

The effortlessness of it all – if Bill has an ease of movement about him, Maisie is practically greased in butter. I apologise for that visual. She bowled a perfect game this finale – the scores deny it but honestly I think she deserved the full 90/90.

Craig loves it and is sad that this is the last dance we’ll see – it’s not the last dance the audience sees though because we’ve still got a SURPRISE GAY ARGENTINE TANGO and the Christmas Group Number which… we’ll discuss in a bit. Craig doesn’t manage to give a reason for not giving this a 10, I imagine it’s because Gorka didn’t do what he was vaguely alluding to throughout his It Takes Two interview. TITS OUT FOR THE BOYS ALWAYS.
And while Bill got dubbed A Bona Fide Dancer, HRVY got P’d on several times, Jamie got NOTHING because he is but chopped liver, Maisie gets nicknamed “Little Happy Feet” – I demand that Eastenders implement this in their credits IMMEDIATLY.

Judges’ Scores:
Shirley: 10
Motsi: 10

And with that our finalists have all danced and all that’s left to do is bide our time for 30 minutes and fill it with the Robbie Williams performance of his Covid Christmas song that I am absolutely not talking about because I don’t believe in songs with the word “zoom” in the lyrics.

But before we get to THE SURPRISE GAY ARGENTINE TANGO there’s some other ports of call, mainly Bruno giving a summary of the evening without mentioning anything in specific and making it painfully obvious that it was recorded on Wednesday morning between his 10:00 Bloody Mary and his 10:30 tanning appointment – just a little bit shocked that it wasn’t recorded in the back of a cab.
We get a very helpful voting reminder from Idris Elba and Paul McCartney who are doing a show together because apparently we’re just putting together television programmes by pulling names out of a hat

I would watch at least 1 season of this sitcom.

Nicola Adams and Katya
Surprise Gay Argentine Tango / Feeling Good – Muse

It’s nice of Nicola to take 5 minutes out of her very busy PlayStation 5 schedule to drop in and give us a dance and it is as Katya is it could be. The lift where she somehow looked like a dolphin going through a delicates wash?

My favourite.
The one where Nicola heaves Katya about like someone carrying their neatly bagged Christmas tree home?

Less of a favourite.

I’m very happy that they got a proper moment to see the show out but a part of me thinks it was a little mean to make them go after all of the finalists – let’s just say it was very apparent that Nicola probably would have gone out in Week 5.

Big Old Group Christmas Dance

Of course Nicola isn’t the only one that gets a reprisal, everyone is here! And to kick us off it’s Giovanni as an amalgamation of all his dance personas:

Sailor Giovanni. Waitress Giovanni. That Ugly Hair He Had In The Paso Giovanni. All of his greatest hits.

Over in the Big Strictly House Jason Bell is desperately trying to work out the secrets of the mirror ball like some sort of parakeet / Lara Croft hybrid

Does it contain the secrets of an ancient civilization that could grant you immortality? If it does, he better be careful because Luba is about to knock him out with her festively wrapped brick. She’s really still not over being shafted by that Star Wars paso – or being forced to watch 9 Star Wars films complete with Jason’s own commentary track – is she? I think a jury would rule in her favour in the murder trial. GIVE LUBA A RINGAH.

A lot of this routine focussed on people sneaking up on other people, like Anton who scares Jacqui Smith during her…. we’ll call it “quality Anton time”

Although I wouldn’t be surprised if she wasn’t in the middle of some sort of spell to cast a hex on Anton for inflicting that samba upon her – SHE ALMOST DIED ON THAT SWING.

Over with Caroline, a woman who only just escaped the fate of being partnered with Anton by virtue of being on a series with a female politician, and she’s being robbed by Johannes

Don’t worry he later repents and returns all the things he stole including her stuffed pussy

I am so sorry for writing that sentence.

And these two clowns who have been putting in the hard graft over on It Takes Two and have both earned themselves partnerships for AT LEAST the next 2 years for that segment on Mexican hat dancing alone

That’s Nadiya by the way, for some reason she wasn’t allowed to look directly at the camera – it’s her Medusa Curse but she and Graziano have been nothing but a joy.

With every Christmas office party there is always that one person who is there begrudgingly and this year it is Max George, who I think is this year’s “Who was that?” contestant because nobody remembers HIM and yet everyone remembers that Horrific Simpsons Fever Dream – at every waking and sleeping moment. It truly haunts you. In a twist I did not see coming, the show did take mercy on us and felt we had been through enough and didn’t have to witness the full grease-painted horror of the routine

I can’t believe they didn’t make him suck Dianne’s toe again.

And no Christmas gathering is complete without the special family tablecloth that only comes out on Christmas eve

Nicola still not knowing how to stand as a dancer and looking like a lost child in the Household Cleaning section of Tesco <3
Also not that the live illusion really falls apart as Katya emerges in her outfit from the opening number and Nicola is in her Argentine Tango.

The end of the year is a time to confront both your triumph and your tribulations and so Clara gets to relive her Charleston but also has to jive again. Luckily they’ve slowed it down to .5% of the speed and she just about manages and still looks phenomenal in fringe

Meanwhile JJ spends most of his time sat on a stationary bicycle as Amy gently sways from side to side

God bless those two for getting to the Quarter Finals off of nothing but a wing, a prayer and a Prince Harry Skype call.
Having given up on the Secrets of The Glitter Ball, Jason is just having a great time, God Bless my Himbo King and Luba is doing a sit in protest – GIVE HER A RINGAH

I imagine even walking down the aisles of the supermarket is a thrilling day out for him – who knew there were so many varieties of biscuits?
And lastly, there’s Ranvir as Dream Girls Ranvir and apparently hair and makeup had NO TIME for her and didn’t put her in the wig that she looked so damn good in

And as her only contribution to the routine besides sitting down, Jacqui Smith gets to lead the fan dance


I liked this routine – everyone got their moment (even if some of them were just sitting down). There were obviously limitations given the need for social distancing but they did their best to overcome and really closed the show with the necessary bang it needed, by which I mean Giovanni going MENTAL

Bless him.

The Winners

And then comes the fateful moment – who will win Strictly Series 18 and in turn The Entire Year 2020 because it’s the one good thing that happened. And that person is…

Bill Bailey! The man who only entered the competition because his Australian comedy tour got cancelled!
It could ever have been! I’m so thrilled for them – after a number of years being won by people who were of a very high calibre right out of the gate, this feels like a throwback to the days of Strictly’s past – and yes that’s a bit “OK Boomer” of me but it’s still nice that someone who maybe wasn’t as polished as some of the others still won because he managed to infuse his dances with a sense of character and life – there was nothing cookie-cutter about any of their routines and I think that’s what makes a Strictly winner very special.

But this is the moment that got me:

That look of pride and the exhaustion of the night and the 10 weeks they’ve spent training for this have payed off and come to fruition in the most spectacular way – it’s a stunningly well earned victory and I could not be more pleased.
The other moment that really got me was just Motsi’s reaction to seeing her sister win the show for the second time in a row:

Nothing but good things for The Mabuses in 2021.

Can we make it 3 in a row for Oti? MABUSE ARMY, ASSEMBLE!

Thank you everyone for joining me on these recaps – I hope it added something to the Strictly experience this year – stay tuned for a Strictly 2020 Retrospective in the next few weeks. I might need a bit of a nap after this finale recap though. Woof it was long. Could you tell I lot my sanity around the point Jamie took to the sky?

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