Strictly 2021 – Week 2, Main Show: A Banana Flavoured Genie

She came. She danced. She redefined art.

Judging by how this episode progressed, I can only imagine we have angered some sort of ancient Eldritch being. By which I do mean that Giovanna Fletcher IS NOT PLEASED.

We by all means start the show as we intend to go on: by embracing chaos as Claudia Winkleman breaks free from her dechromatised prison

meanwhile Tess Daly is wearing a very bedazzled office shirt with a rather strange neckline that sort of gives her a pair of smaller demi-shoulders

it’s rather like her clavicle is in a permanent state of shrugging, and with how tonight’s show progressed WHO COULD BLAME IT?
And Tess, who is by all means Queen of the Bizarre Jumpsuit, apparently found herself uninvited to the little soiree that Shirley and Motsi were clearly throwing that evening

black seemed to be the trend alert of the weekend, which would be the one time Claudia decides to show up like she’s leading a revolution in Pleasantville – she’s only a week early for Movie Week because yes, we are indeed planning on doing Movie Week with 14 couples so pray for whatever shred of sanity Vicky Gill has left, SHE’S A WOMAN ON THE BRINK – it’s not easy negotiating ostrich feather prices over Zoom calls!

Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu
Cha-Cha-Cha / Reach Out I’ll Be There – Human Nature

If you’re wondering how Nancy Xu manages a post-weekend debrief, it’s with a stiff drink in a privately rented cocktail bar at 9 in the morning

I imagine Rhys was allowed a single glass of freshly squeezed orange juice – she is a responsible parent after all.
And after a week of being contained by the sophistication of a street-side Viennese Waltz in a bus stop, Rhys was finally being allowed to unleash his pent up Cbeebies energy into a Cha Cha Cha, a dance that is very close to Nancy’s heart. Which might explain the distinct lack of torture devices brought out in their training, and Rhys was even granted a pair of shin guards as a treat

Nancy is a merciful Goddess.
You can imagine that Rhys Stephenson dancing any sort of Latin number went just as you’d expect – like he had 1000 volts of electricity coursing through his body

Perhaps Nancy isn’t such a merciful Goddess. But I too would punish any available man if I was given the wrong cocktail

The whole dance is just ever so slightly very frantic to the point of almost being a little bit uncomfortable to watch at times – it is interesting that Rhys seems to be much better out of hold than in it with the judges commending his “hip hop freestyle” – so brace yourselves for that couples choice routine, we’re all going to need a lie down and a nap after it.
Motsi at least notes the fact that while Rhys has A LOT of energy, he does need to focus it and not behave like a Pikachu in a fit of confusion firing thunderbolts in every conceivable direction. Meanwhile Shirley was enthralled by his charisma and ponders the possibility of Rhys ever ending up on the West End as though he wasn’t put on this show exclusively to get him onto a West End stage.
I am however very sad to report that Nancy’s Cha Cha Scarf apparently had nothing to do with a routine

WHERE IS MY WINTER WEAR CHA CHA?

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 7
Motsi: 8
Shirley: 8
Anton:
7
TOTAL: 30

Nina Wadia and Neil Jones
Tango / Would I Lie To You? – Eurythmics

The moment I heard Nina was going to be camping her way through a tango I was THRILLED, by all means bottle the concept and hook it to me veins. Which is why this routine was all the more disappointing as nothing about it really gelled except for the fact Nina has obviously spent years honing the facial expression of a woman scorned

such is the benefit of being an Eastenders alumnus.
But much like Katie’s tango last week, I’m not sure the song choice inspired the best routine they could have pulled out – sure the narrative of Would I Lie To You? by Eurythmics is fun and suited to a tango but I think Nina would have been stronger with something much more traditional, and then it also might have made Neil’s decision to put in some Argentine Tango elements seem slightly more coherent – because they certainly threw Nina off rather horribly. But who could blame him for sneaking in elements of other dances because I imagine it was becoming a little obvious that these two are heading for a First Boot – not even the invoking of The Beyoncé Clause could help them.
And she’s not even going to win Family Member Feud if all they can bring in are a motley crew of Eastenders actors

It’s babies, dogs OR DEATH.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 3
Motsi: 5
Shirley: 5
Anton:
5
TOTAL: 18

Adam Peaty and Katya Jones
Quickstep / Are You Gonna Be My Girl? – Jet

Continuing the bizarre trend of Urbanscape Ballroom Dances set by Nancy and Rhys in their bus stop Viennese Waltz, Adam and Katya’s Quickstep of course takes place on the tube where Adam is dressed up as a sort of Chippendale Librarian and Katya is a banana flavoured genie willing to grant him three wishes

I very much want to know what the aesthetic aim for this routine was because absolutely nothing feels like it belongs with each other, which might explain why Adam’s body seemed to be magnetically repulsed by Katya leading to some rather glaring gapping throughout the routine. He had said in the VT that he had struggled this week because “he’s used to being flat” which is certainly *an* excuse and we were treated to an all too long and lingering shot of Katya massaging The Peaty’s Feeties

so which of the Strictly producers has a WikiFeet account, then?
His apparent proclivity for being flat did mean that Katya kindly choreographed a press-up interval halfway through the routine so that he could both catch his breath and showboat in true Olympian fashion

Katya Jones continues to give us the content we demand.
And while the flying press-up might have been impressive, the rest of the dance was a flurried, sweaty panic that the judges read him to filth for but one thing remains a constant

I’m glad to see Vicky Gill at least still has the time to perfect the fit of the trews.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 4
Motsi: 5
Shirley: 5
Anton:
5
TOTAL: 19

Katie McGlynn and Gorka Marquez
Jive / Good 4 U – Olivia Rodrigo

And now for the moment that Vicky Gill’s 14 couple costuming fatigue truly becoming glaring because Katie was by all means dressed by catapulting her through a Hot Topic and just hoping for the best

Honey, I am so sorry but there are only so many sewing machines, I can’t imagine that Vicky Gill has built up this big a grudge in only a week.
They are of course the victims of the compulsory annual high school themed routine, which might explain why Gorka showed up on It Takes Two looking like Danny Zuko

come Saturday night and he had unfortunately been downgraded to Meathead Who Peaked in High School No. 4

God bless the fact both he and Katie were dressed as a pair of high schoolers that would absolutely, under no circumstances, even think about running for class president. It’s like nobody on this show has ever watched an American teen movie. And of course because they’re high schoolers, seemingly from anywhere between 1980 and 2003, they’re dancing to an Olivia Rodrigo track – which Katie describes as “kooky” and has evidently somehow remained immune to Olivia Rodrigo’s nostalgia for *checks notes* Glee. Suddenly I am the Crypt Keeper. My bones are dust, my skin is parchment.
As for the routine, it’s hard to say because much like Anton, I was a little distracted by the optical assault of it all, and particularly the moment they shattered the Strictly 4th Wall and for some reason had a whole segment filmed behind the lockers and nobody thought to even try and make it look a little snazzier

WHY WOULD YOU FILM FROM THIS ANGLE?
As for the routine, the judges weren’t enamoured with it and while they praise Katie’s charisma and infectious personality, her balance and coordination were about as good as her outfit as she had a few stumbles here and there and constantly had to look down at her own feet towards the end.
Personally I liked the dramatic pointing, which somehow Katie managed to fumble as well, making Craig’s 4 seem even slightly generous

River Medway’s influence

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 4
Motsi: 6
Shirley: 5
Anton:
6
TOTAL: 21

Greg Wise and Karen Hauer
Sentimental Disco Dancing / If You Could Read My Mind – Ultra Naté, Amber & Jocelyn Enriquez

We’re all of the opinion that Week 2 is FAR too early to be breaking out the Couple’s Choice routines, right? Everyone is still trying to understand Shirley’s Fundamentals™, I don’t think disco wafting is helping much, lads. And it wasn’t just Disco Wafting, because Greg was in fact dedicating his disco routine to his sister who sadly died from cancer so it was Sentimental Disco Wafting. And you know you’re in a for a heart-wrenching VT when it starts with the two of them sharing The Chaise Longue of Grief

I would have thought Greg Wise was above putting his feet on faux-antique furniture but apparently I am to be constantly disappointed in men.
I was very worried about how I was going to talk about ANY of this and then the judges’ scoring came and while Shirley and Anton were happy to oblige with the emotionally prescribed 7s, Craig is apparently on a one man mission to obliterate couple’s choice from the competition and gave them an ice cold 3 – which I genuinely screamed at like I had just witnessed someone kick a baby. I do agree with Craig, both in that Couple’s Choice is a blight, and that Greg’s dancing was very placed and cardboardy, nothing really flowed from one move to the next and it felt like I was watching a Saturday Night Fever training montage for the most part. And he did look a bit like your dad getting slightly lost in a supermarket at one point

I do however think the lifts were done remarkably well for Week 2 of the competition and should have maybe been worth a 4

which you know, isn’t much more but seems slightly less cruel than giving the man who just talked about his dead sister A THREE.
The disco number did at least mean we got to see Karen in a spangled jumpsuit though

so maybe it wasn’t entirely a loss.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 3
Motsi: 6
Shirley: 7
Anton:
7
TOTAL: 23

John Whaite and Johannes Radebe
Cha Cha Cha / Star Struck – Years and Years

Coming in to his Cha Cha Cha, John was struggling with the flamboyancy required for the Latin numbers which in the days of old would have lead us into a comedy VT in which John meets up with Baga Chipz in a nightclub in the middle of the day to put on a number for a fake audience of 6 people. In Thankfully Comedy VT-free Strictly, they’re merely reclaiming Carpool Karaoke from The Forces of Evil Whomst We Do Not Name

I salute their efforts, you’re fighting the good fight, boys.

John may not have fully gotten over his fear of being flamboyant, there were a few moments here and there where you could feel a sense of awkward restraint but the routine was still incredibly fun and their synchronisation was damn near faultless

and for a routine that had John dancing on his own a lot, he really knocked it out of the park. Shirley does point out that they could do with more contact between each other as it’s kind of integral to the Latin styles and I’d be curious to know why Johannes didn’t – I think we all kind of know why but when your routine is set to Star Struck by Years and Years and you’re dancing in the Bisexual Pride Planetarium

you might as well go the full gay hog.
And because they were dancing to a Years and Years song and the BBC very much wants to keep that Olly Alexander 4 Doctor Who hype train going, they get a very special video message from Olly himself and I have never seen a better visualisation of The Gay Gasp™ than this

10S ACROSS THE BOARD!

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 8
Motsi: 8
Shirley: 8
Anton:
7
TOTAL: 31

Anton absolutely knocked off a point because nobody laughed at either of his two jokes, so that one’s on the audience.

AJ Odudu, Some Lunch and Kai Widdrington
Foxtrot / Tears Dry On Their Own – Amy Winehouse

While the fun, frenetic energy of the jive suited AJ to perfection, she was worried about how she’d manage to cope with the elegance and sophistication of the Foxtrot. But never fear, because Kai had just the thing to help her! A beautiful dress? No! Better. A beautiful piece of music? NO! BETTER! A fuck-tonne of sparkles? NO! BETTER:

Hey, it’s worked in the waltzes for time immemorial!
As it turns out, elegance was not Aj’s biggest worry as she barely manages to cope with the spins in her foxtrot and the fact she ended up sprawled on the floor like Bambi at a pride event doesn’t bode phenomenally well for her Viennese Waltz

Potentially the best training outfit of the series though!

Out on the dancefloor AJ looked the absolutely picture of elegance though in a dress that is quite lovely and the one little wig they tote out every year when they make the one non-white woman left dance a Dreamgirls number in Musicals Week and Craig naturally pulls a Louis Walsh and tells her she looks like a young Diana Ross

the one thing ruining the illusion is the fact the Strictly Luggage Woes continue as AJ has to make carrying around a brown paper bag look graceful and not like she nipped to the deli for a panini

meanwhile Kai looks like a snooker player from the 50s has been temporally displaced, which is to say Kai looks like Kai

the judges are all full of praise for the routine with Motsi praising AJ’s spine to the point where she might want to invest in some bodyguards because Motsi’s about to pull a Creepy TikTok Bone Collector

RUN AJ, RUN AS ELEGANTLY AND WELL-SPINED AS YOU CAN!
The only real source of criticism for AJ is the fact Craig thought she had some minor foot placement issues and Shirley wants her to connect more with the music.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 7
Motsi: 9
Shirley: 7
Anton:
8
TOTAL: 31

By all means, AJ Odudu dominations continues, apace.

Judi Love and Graziano
Samba / Get Busy – Sean Paul

Every now and again there is a piece of television that captures the nation by storm: Bodyguard, Line of Duty, Suranne Jones’s Submarine Misfortunes and of course this Saturday night: Judi Love’s Arse

by all means, tear down and burn The Louvre and erect a monolithic sculpture of Judi Love in its place because this weekend Judi destroyed art and rebirthed it anew – we have finally seen the face of God and it is a holographically fringed pair of twerking buttocks.
Was the routine technically good? Absolutely not, but my God was it fun to watch Judi and Graziano become collectively possessed by the spirits of a pair of mid 90s video girls and just go ham on that dancefloor

and after a slew of fairly middling dances and some lovely, rather sedate ballroom, it’s exactly what the mid-point of the show needed and they certainly got the party at The Jumpsuit Soiree going

Meanwhile, Tess seethes in her office shirt.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 6
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 6
Anton:
6
TOTAL: 25

Truly only Motsi understands art.

Dianne Buswell and A Wobbly Lamp Post
Tango / La Cumparsita – Machiko Ozawa

Oh, how generous of them, I needed a lie down and a power nap after the maelstrom that was Judi Love. However I am deeply unsettled that with Movie Week coming at us next week that Dianne wore both a cloud print jumper and an aggressively yellow one

please let this not be foreshadowing The Simpsons Nightmare 2: Springfield Boogaloo. My heart cannot take it or the inevitable, ill-advised Dear Evan Hansen routine we churn out in Musicals Week. SOMEONE STOP THEM BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.
As for this routine, it was a little wobbly here and there, mostly because while everyone was busy apparently making a giant origami boat for Sara Davies to happily bob along in, they didn’t have the time to secure Dianne’s lamp post as well as they could have

and surprisingly, Robert did actually manage to control his innate need to mug to camera at all times and actually had quite a good tango-face

after all what’s more intimidating than a sphynx cat trying to make your head explode through the power of telekinesis?

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 7
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 6
Anton:
7
TOTAL: 27

Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice
Salsa / Cuba – Gibson Brothers

Rose got dealt a truly cursed pair of dances with the Jive and the Salsa. The Jive is a murder-beast unless you’re some kind of Wunderkind like AJ and the Salsa is… well it’s the Salsa so it was nice that at least Rose got a decent outfit again this week

I will pretend I did not see the back which had by all means been laced up with whatever novelty shoelaces Vicky Gill could scrounge from the production runners

I imagine she’s still indebted to several Venezuelan ostrich farmers so you know, make do with what you can.
Rose however had bigger issues as Giovanni was insisting on throwing her around like she was Janette Manrara

the lifts were rather impressive and I love that everyone was clearly trying to goad her into saying they were terrifying and she was really nervous about them and she was just thrilled by them and just about asking Giovanni to add another twist and a loop-the-loop to them like she was building a killing machine on RollerCoaster Tycoon. The dismounts were a little laboured in a couple of them but the fact she came out of every single one of them with a beaming smile on her face managed to mask it at least to the point where I didn’t fear for her life when the next one began.
As for her dancing, there’s some awkwardness here and there, as Motsi said it’s largely down to her steps being a little bit too big so they come across as slightly clunky but for a week 2 Salsa, it’s certainly one of the easier ones to watch.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 6
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 6
Anton:
7
TOTAL: 26

Sara Davies and Aljaz Skorejanic
Foxtrot / Dream a Little Dream of Me – Cass Elliot

In the words of one Laganja Estranja, “Oh? Y’all wanted a twist, ‘ey?”

But first I must address some BEEF. Not to put Vicky Gill on blast for the fiftieth time this recap but I have been looking forward to this dress since I saw the sketch on It Takes Two

it is A DREAM – those sleeves are everything I have ever wanted and so much more. And then in true Wish.com style, Sara Davies emerges on Saturday night in a dress that is technically that sketch but also absolutely one that looks like it was made from two 80s wedding dresses in a Sewing Bee challenge

her hair and makeup are gorgeous, you can’t go wrong with a statement red lip but wherever this fabric came from needs to be investigated because it’s clearly HELL.

My issues with the dress aside, by all means going in to this routine I was… worried because the very concept of “I emerge from an origami paper boat” is so absurd that it could only be thought up in order to mask a very bad routine and waste as much time in the beginning of the routine as possible, we call this Antoning. And yet, while it is very non-qualifying Eurovision act energy

there was actually an extremely good routine in there and the whole crafting narrative of it was merely to goad Kirstie Allsopp into giving bad opinions on Twitter. Which to be fair isn’t difficult, you merely have to mention you have a washing machine in your kitchen and she goes into a frothing rage, somehow drawing out discourse for several days.
The routine being so good in fact that literally everyone is just a bit stunned

and Shirley even says “I’m not sure I have a mark high enough in here to give you!” which is a bit weird because instead of bringing out a hastily made 11 paddle she gives the dance a 9, which does suggest 10 paddles are kept under lock and key until the producers deem the time right.

It does seem a waste that the Origami Boat prop will likely only ever see 90 seconds of TV time, so if Amy and Tom can’t return, I suggest we replace them with Luba and The Big Immovable Paper Boat.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 8
Motsi: 8
Shirley: 9
Anton:
9
TOTAL: 32

Dan(iel) Walker and Nadiya Bychkova
Paso Doble / Giant – Rag’n’Bone Man & Calvin Harris

This week Nadiya and Dan were giving us this year’s first Paso Doble and from the grab bag of 5 possible Paso themes: Authentic Spanish, Gladiatorial, Sex Dungeon, Vampire Angst and Movie Week Randomizer the two of them are going to Ancient Rome. Or you know, The Chester Roman Amphitheatre

which has the most passive aggressive opening times

and Nadiya has quite the concept cooked up for the two of them

Revolutionary.
I for one am shocked that Nadiya wasn’t prepared to dress up as a lion for this routine, but then she probably wouldn’t have been able to make her favourite pair of Paso Doble Ankle Boots™ work with the outfit

as for Dan’s outfit, it is both at once Gladiator and Power Ranger Villain of the Day

the intimidating effect is slightly ruined however by the fact he insisted on wearing a pair of Formal Gladiator Trousers, you know, for when Nero has a charity gala. He did apparently refuse the muscle suit they offered him and I for one am furious that we didn’t get to see his tiny little head on the body of a Barbarian but I imagine the muscle suit would have by all means probably made his shaping in this even worse because while he fully committed to the character of his business savvy Spartacus, his poses were a little stop-and-start-y and some technique was lacking but it was a fun dance to watch leaving Motsi totally lost as to how to judge it and Anton screaming into the void

but that could have also just been their reactions to the meagre amount of eyeliner that Dan hadn’t managed to sweat off and made him look like the world’s most depressed gladiator

Everyone asks “Who is Spartacus?” but nobody ever asks “How is Spartacus?”

They still got a decent score and I think Dan has been a really good partner for Nadiya who he is dragging into the silliness of the show like me lugging groceries back home after a shop at Big Tesco

Kristina Rihanoff will be demanding royalties however.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 7
Motsi: 6
Shirley: 6
Anton:
7
TOTAL: 26

Ugo Monye and Oti Mabuse
Foxtrot / Bring Me Sunshine – The Jives Aces

Well if anything, Oti’s summoning of The Samba Demon last week certainly brought about quite the change in Ugo as like Sara he has some rather vast improvement which is surprising because they had a quickstep this week and after Adam Peaty’s quickstep was basically a panic attack set to music, I was very worried about Ugo! What we got however was a delightfully chirpy little number!

And the quality of his dancing does rather take everyone aback a bit and while Motsi was on the hunt for spines this evening, Ugo might want to insure his left hand because by Anton’s judgement he has the best left hand in the competition. I would now like a full break down on which celebrity has the best of each body part and then we can Frankenstein together the ultimate Strictly 2021 contestant. So far we have Ugo’s left hand, AJ’s Spine and we can squabble about whether our dance monster gets the arse of Adam Peaty or Judi Love. I know which corner I’m fighting for

I do also love that Ugo has spent the entire week saying the word “boobies” in every interview he possibly could, much to Janette Manrara’s panic on It Takes Two so with Oti and Ugo’s names being difficult to portmanteau, I guess Team Busty it is.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 5
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 7
Anton:
6
TOTAL: 26

Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin
Charleston / Yes Sir, That’s My Baby – Firehouse Five Plus Two

Well, these two start out their Strictly segment as I imagine they intend to continue: by baiting the Daily Mail with a picnic

although slightly ruining the mood is the fact Nikita seemed to be eating jam with a Swiss Army Knife

nothing quite says Afternoon Tea quite like military efficiency.
I imagine Nikita just carries that knife around with him because at this point Gordon Ramsay is a very real and imminent threat to his life.
They do get to do Series 19’s first Charleston which Tilly was feeling a little uncomfortable about given that it requires her to be quite boisterous and if she’s ever feeling self-conscious about her dancing in the future, I just want her to know that even by accident she vogues better than Michelle Visage

and she really had no need to be worried because her Charleston was an absolute joy to watch and I think her slightly reserved nature helped that! I personally find the enforced face pulling in a Charleston to be nauseating and I will stand by Sophie Ellis-Bextor performing a Charleston like a po-faced Chiparus sculpture as the best Charleston in the Strictly Lexicon. But I liked Tilly’s too, granted I want to sacrificially burn the boots they made her wear

who looked at those demi-western boots and thought “Yes, they go with this outfit!”
The choreography was your standard Charleston affair and while all of it was fun and incredibly synchronised, it was hard for any of it to top the mid-dance sepia toned badminton break

and with Tilly pulling the routine off magnificently, of course it reduced Gordon Ramsay to tears

thus destroying toxic masculinity forever, can you believe it? And obviously sending Tess into a baby-voice so high pitched that even [ARIADNE I DON’T LIKE WHERE THIS JOKE IS GOING] which is less surprising than Gordon Ramsay having actual, working tear ducts.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 8
Motsi: 9
Shirley: 9
Anton:
8
TOTAL: 34

And that’s that for the evening, and here’s the leaderboard of this weekend’s untallied dances:

  1. Sara and Aljaz’s Origami Redemption
    • Tilly and Nikita’s Daily Mail Baiting Picnic
  2. John and Johannes Visit Bisexual Space
    • AJ Just Wanted Some Lunch, Kai
  3. Rhys and Nancy’s 1000 Volt Night Out
  4. Dianne and a Lamp Post
  5. Rose and Giovanni’s Lift Spectacular
  6. Judi Love’s Redefining of the Art World
    • Dan and Nadiya’s Financial District Gladiators
  7. Ugo Monye’s Left Arm
  8. Greg and Karen’s Sentimental Disco Dancing
  9. Katie and Gorka’s Uncanny High School Experience
  10. Adam and Katya’s Musical Panic Attack
  11. Nina and Neil’s Tango of Broken Dreams

And if you’ve enjoyed this recap of the Strictly’s second week and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small donation via my Ko-fi HERE.

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