Strictly 2021 – Week 7, Main Show: What’s 935.57km Between Friends?

In order to pay for Vicky Gill’s ostrich feather loans, Tess Daly is having to auction off her entire living room.

It’s Post-Halloween which means nobody is working harder than the poor person who has to pin poppy badges to athleisurewear and samba outfits for the next 4 weeks.

After Halloween Week, Vicky Gill is obviously in some sort of tailoring hangover and in order to show some solidarity for the exhausted wardrobe department, Claudia decided to show up dressed as a groomsman that’s at least 5 drinks in to the wedding reception and about to give an incoherent and overly sentimental speech that sounds a bit like he might in love with the groom

and Tess was just an aghast spectator at this You’ve Been Framed goldmine of a wedding

TessBot in pleasant beige? You’d never have guessed!
And playing the role of Slightly More Aghast Bride was of course Shirley Ballas

as for the other judges, I’d love to go to any party that Motsi’s dressed up like this for

her hair game this series has been off the charts and just an unabashed display of Black style and beauty – I find myself as excited to see what she’s going to be looking like as the dancers.
And Craig seems to have finally got my note about dressing like a Vegas casino restaurant

and every casino restaurant needs a maitre d’ who could double as a dinner theatre magician in a pinch

the name “Anton du Beke” does after all have the ring of someone who performs the same card trick to increasingly exasperated audience members.

Adam Peaty and Katya Jones
Jive / Little Bitty Pretty One – Frankie Lymon

Fresh out of the bottom 2 and Adam’s biggest take away from the experience was that he needed to now show more emotion and vulnerability, unfortunately for him they weren’t throwing him a bone and letting him contempowaft his feelings out to What The Water Gave To Me by Florence and the Machine (you can have that idea for free Katya). Instead he was having to go on this quest for emotional tenderness in a jive… set in a pool hall. Now, if this was Aljaz he’d have done a whole stealth-movie jive and gone for The Hustler (1961) but this is Katya Jones so we got 50s Themed Diner with Bisexual Lighting

and given that all of Adam’s training footage on It Takes Two mostly looked like a man furiously kicking a puddle of treacle, this Jive was ten times better than it had any right to be

he still lacks a sense of control at some points, especially in his free leg, which I’m not sure the billowy arse-hiding trousers were particularly helping with and only made him look more like a man desperately trying to put trousers on because somebody knocked on the door and it’s Sunday, so who’s wearing pants?
My favourite part of the routine though was Adam leaping onto the (very low) pool table and then Katya having to very carefully make her own way up

once bitten while clambering out of a haunted piano, twice as shy. At least Adam was mildly more useful this time

Is this the emotional vulnerability?
The judges were kind of hot and cold on the dance as a whole, praising the amount of personality he displayed, which I think roughly translates to emotional vulnerability in Jivenese but they did notice a mistake and some hesitancy which explains the wash of 7s, with Craig going one point lower for a lack of transitionary dancing and Katya still being absolutely over the moon as though a 6 at this point in the competition isn’t a deathknell.

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

Continuing the strong bisexual lighting theme of the evening, Krishnan Guru-Murthy was on hand to deliver the Terms and Conditions and very much looked like he was about to give us a 2 hour video essay on Cultural Marxism and how it pertains to whatever petty internet drama is currently kicking off

a sad lack of ironic cat ears, nya.

Rose and Giovanni
Samba / Cinema Italiano – Kate Hudson

With Rose back in Latin and feeling nervous, Giovanni had pulled from the pages of Dr. Bychkova’s High Concept Realities and was producing a fashion show themed Samba, which is putting himself under a lot of pressure considering the running history of Strictly and Fashion Show Routines

and in order to prepare herself for her catwalk experience, Rose was being sent to help Vicky who was still very much recovering from her Halloween Hangover

eagerly awaiting Strictly Come Beading next June.
Unfortunately for Rose and Giovanni, they never were going to quite hit the lofty heights of Luba tossing fur coats at mousey assistant Amy while Nadiya lives out her Victoria’s Secret Angel fantasy

Really I’m mostly talking about this routine so much because I wanted to type “Nadiya Bychkova” and “Victoria’s Secret” in the same sentence and get me them blog hits.
But you know, getting to spend an evening looking like the love-child of Ariana Grande and a bordello lamp isn’t bad

AJ Pritchard had to spend his entire fashion routine experience as the world’s most inept looking member of Kevin Clifton’s security team

but it did give as a moment of TessBot existentialism as she has a moment of crushing self-cringe

I will actively start campaigning to get Tess a knighthood for her services to television one of these days.

I don’t know if I’ll ever truly love a samba, I just find it an awkward dance or at least an awkward dance within the Strictly Samba Oeuvre BUT, having said that, Rose has done some of the most natural looking samba walks I’ve ever seen on the show

And the judges are full of praise for the routine too, Anton being the only one to be a little cool on it and then apparently being shamed into giving it an 8 despite the fact he was very obviously getting ready for that 7 paddle.
My biggest issue is that some of the sections did feel like they went on for a bit long and very much felt like Giovanni trying to fill up a routine without complicating it

which is probably a smart call given Rose’s hesitancy when it comes to the Latin routines, could have maybe ventured beyond several seconds of novelty dashboard hula girl though.

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

A Half Empty Tube of Toothpaste and Amy Dowden
Pepsi Doble / Amparito Roca – Jaime Teixidor

After under-performing in last week’s Roadside Devil Tango, someone thought it was a great idea to bring in Harry Judd, who also did a Halloween Tango in the days when this was as far as Vicky was willing to go with Halloween costumes

every day of her life, Vicky Gill will rue the moment she dressed Ore and Joanne up as a pair of cursed sweetshop owners

I can’t explain it, but that was the turning point for Halloween Week being a schlep.
As it turns out, being peer pressured into giving an adequate performance does a body good because Tom and Amy’s Colgate sponsored Paso Doble was really rather brilliant! And if you’ve wondered where the Waltz Bridge has been hiding, it turns out it was getting Barcelonified

it’s reading slightly Venice but what’s 935.57km between friends?
As Shirley said, there are two types of Paso: Angry McBullfighter and Balletic Tradicional – quite frankly rude of her to forget Space-age Erotica

I will not stand for this Iveta Lukošiūtė erasure. None of us can truly blame Iveta for yeeting herself off the show after three series.
They were very much playing it as the balletic and traditional Paso which is why so much of this felt like two people walking through the Bolero and thus mercifully looking less like a pair of swans having the worst sex of their avian lives

and is why they were dressed alarmingly like the sort of person who camps outside Buckingham Palace 5 days ahead of whichever royal event we reach next…

keeping that joke vague for reasons.
It’s amazing how many things blue, red and white can represent: unhinged patriotism, Pepsi, Colgate, a barber and of course The Stranger Things Hat – look, I googled “red, white and blue items” for this joke and that hat came up several hundred times, blame the algorithm.
It’s always nice to get a very traditional seeming Paso, we do need a break from Angry Vamping sometimes and there’s always a nice melodrama to it, which I’m not quite sure Tom ever fully succeeded in bringing, or at least his brand of melodrama is very Toddler Who Doesn’t What To Do His Chores which did make the whole thing seem a little funny times

I hope they checked that that pose isn’t some fringe alt-right signal because it has… an energy about it.

It was certainly Tom’s best dance and very much felt like a turning point for his Strictly trajectory which is almost certainly Ditched In Blackpool because Amy seemingly refuses to do a McFly routine – DYE YOUR HAIR 5 COLOURS DOWDEN AND GIVE US WHAT WE DEMAND.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig
: 9
Motsi: 10
Shirley: 10
Anton: 9
TOTAL: 38

A Mechanic and A Posh Girl Who Owns a Car
Quickstep / What a Man Gotta Do – Jonas Brothers

In order to do their bit to ease Vicky Gill’s Halloween Hangover, Rhys and Nancy were going to be playing the role of Mechanic and Posh Car Owning Woman which meant they could at least get away with just putting Rhys in some overalls and Nancy could wear a flowy dress that Debenhams failed to shift in its closing down sales

get Rose to throw a few sequins on it and you’re golden!
The prop department could have maybe done a better job of sourcing half a car prop that made Nancy seem evenly slightly more affluent

although I do appreciate the Hyacinth Bucket narrative that it lends the dance. Someone is going to tell me that’s some rare Cadillac model that’s worth several small houses but I only really care about novelty cars as approved by Amy Dowden.
And with Vicky on her knees, the props department apparently still skint after building an origami boat, it was up to the VR people to bring the magic

I just love the fact that:
A. Nothing in this routine was aesthetically cohesive.
B. Someone had to spend several days of their life creating a CGI car lift.
And C. Rhys had to act like he was repairing a car and nothing has ever made me want to be in the Strictly audience more than to watch him waving a comedically large and glittery prop spanner at thin air.
And oh… that prop spanner caused issues for Craig who thought it’s 10 second appearance in the routine RUINED the sacred elegance of the quickstep, which looked like it exasperated Nancy ever so slightly

Where was this energy when they made her dance a Viennese Waltz with a bag from Footlocker in Week 1?

With his return to traditional ballroom (feel free to start Paso discourse in the comments) Rhys was obviously having to concentrate on his frame, which Anton has taken every opportunity to tell him is leaning far too far back and you could see him throughout the dance concentrating so hard on it

and so when he got the critiques that it was too far back still, you could just about see the life leave the poor boy’s eyes

well that’s another week of Strictly Come Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for Rhys. He’s going to come back in his next ballroom routine just leaning completely over Nancy like a man trying to explain the meaning of a newspaper article to the female journalist that wrote it.
But there were positives! They covered the floor beautifully and moved incredibly smoothly across the floor while in hold regardless of it being too far back

and you know, his parents were going buck wild for it

and that’s Strictly magic.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig
: 7
Motsi: 9
Shirley: 9
Anton: 9
TOTAL: 34

Tilly Ramsay and Nikita Kuzmin
Tango / Kings & Queens – Ava Max

In order to strengthen his case for Continued Pro Partner Status, this week Nikita was adding to The Lexicon of Chess Themed Tangos, shockingly none of which are from Chess: The Musical. There is however Karen’s Tantric Sex Chess Tango

or Pasha Kovalev Breaks Free from Ashley Roberts’s Chess Dungeon

or Natalie Gumede and Artem play to an audience of chess pieces

also mentioning Natalie and Artem’s Argentine Tango is a good excuse to gif THIS moment

Tilly and Nikita never quite reach the drama of any of those examples, because this is after all Tilly Ramsay, professional 18 year old, we’re talking about so it’s all a little bit Disney film in which the evil queen seduces the protagonist’s vanilla love interest through the magic of a statement lapel

Nikita did of course have to be fully buttoned up because he used all of his unbuttoning privileges up on It Takes Two this week

let it be known that I do feed The Nikita Stan Army well.
And the whole high white collar and slicked back hair works well for him and does make him look like the only time Peeta Mellark was ever hot

you really wasted that Hunger Games Paso on AJ and Saffron, huh guys?

I really liked this routine but I’m not sure if I liked it just because of the visuals – the floor projection worked a TREAT

because I’m not quite sure I got the intense drama that the judges praised so highly, but once again, they’re not treated to close-ups of the dancers’ faces because Tilly was a little nothingish behind the eyes and clearly concentrating very hard on her steps and counting, which worked well in that regard because she was on time for everything and for the most part the routine felt sharp and tight, I do think they over shot the floor slightly and got a bit boxed in by the steps at one point though

Craig didn’t like how much the routine stopped and started, but I think that was all part of the theme and the way a chess game works with one move, then the other but Craig isn’t a year two chess champion like Tilly so maybe he just wouldn’t understand or appreciate the preservation of the artform that is chess.

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

Dan Walker & Nadiya Bychkova Take on Hollywood
Couple’s Choice / Classic – MKTO

Well it’s nice that, if nothing else, Sara and Aljaz’s bonkers sex dream of a dance last week seems to have started a trend for Thoroughly Confused Couple’s Choice Routines because I’m still trying to work out why this was themed around the premier of this Michael Bay Clipart Extravaganza

we are at least making baby steps towards Nadiya Bychkova finally getting to star as a Bond Girl. The outfits for their routine might have slightly undone those though

Unless they’re in need of a Bond Girl called Malibu Barbie? And speaking of Barbie…

you know, had you told me that Dan Walker would be dressed as Toy Story’s Barbie and not in some way referencing the whole Mi Amigo war memorial that he helped out with for his couple’s choice at the beginning of the series, I would never have believed you but ever since his School Disco CBT session with Dr. Bychkova, this direction does make more sense.
Quite why we had a whole pre-dance VT dedicated to taking Nadiya to another stadium I don’t quite know

but at least she got to actually walk around it with Dan and didn’t have to stand 1000 feet away from him at all times

their partnership has grown so much! Dan now only needs 5 feet of daylight between the two of them to maintain his purity.
I did however love the fact the VT was almost exclusively set up so that Dan could talk about commentating the match where David Beckham scored in a free kick against Greece and then the show obviously couldn’t obtain the rights to the footage so had to settle for a Beckham Montage of Press Photos instead

it’s not *quite* the same.
And then all of it was irrelevant because it had NOTHING to do with the routine other than the fact Dan mentioned he and Nadiya dance to Classic by MKTO in their training sessions. It’s another of Nadiya’s High Concepts, which is why there was a bench

I’m mostly shocked that they didn’t just cave in to the almost crushing pressure of the audience expectations for them to bring out the old Dan Walker Crustacean Shuffle but Nadiya does apparently have some restraint, or not given the very literal Junior School Talent Show dancing she had Dan do

my favourite moment being “kiss like Prince” and Dan blowing her the most chaste kiss

and then most of the dance had the almost overwhelming vibe of a very panicked single father trying to take care of his daughter on a day trip to Alton Towers

And you know, the whole routine ending with Dan Walker tearing through Nadiya’s throat and then finishing in a dramatic pose with her jugular just fully removed in the background is… potentially a sinister omen

of course because it’s couple’s Choice it does, despite there being no sentimentally to ANY OF IT, get the usual smattering of Emotionally Prescribed 7s, except from Craig who throws it a 6 because he was forced to cringe his way through it

but Shirley, who Anton referred to as “Our Lady Captain” and I hate it so much, evened things out by giving him an 8 because he got an extra point for singing along to the song – Riyadh Khalaf FUMES, but Dan was very happy

his limbic reaction to any amount of positive praise being to quickly walk away, is a highly relatable quality.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig
: 6
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 8
Anton: 7
TOTAL: 28

John and Johannes
Rumba / Shape of My Heart – Sting

And here to save us from Dan Walker’s onslaught of vanilla heterosexuality is John and Johannes’s rumba which will have Zoe Ball’s fanfic writing fingertips burning

I have to admire the dedication to pinning poppies to even the flimsiest of shirts just to make sure this routine didn’t upset a particularly ruddy faced portion of the population more than it was inevitably going to.
And not only did they have the pressure of every amateur erotic novelist and slightly giddy queer person on them, but Sting sent them a video message and you know…

good to know that in the hierarchy of the Strictly audience, Sting ranks at least 1 rung higher than The Gays™.
Both of them have spoken quite a bit this week about how they’re expecting complaints over this routine which immediately conjured up images of them trying to Darren and Letitia Dean us with Their Redacted Cha Cha Cha but what we got was just a very elegant, very sensual rumba and like Anton said, it almost transcended beyond the rumba and entered the realms of Actually Good Contempowafting™, no word on how much harder that is for a male celebrity… The only real critique the two of them get is from Craig who thought that John could maybe have made his hips slightly more pronounced which would have aided the bending and straightening of his legs, which he admitted was him being very picky and a little petty but then Motsi swooped in to tell him that his hand could have been held an inch lower, which might be the most delightfully petty critique of a dance and apparently worth deducting 2 points for <3.
And while those two picked at the minor mistakes like a pair of footling vultures, Shirley, Rumba Queen & Lady Captain, was getting very choked up about just how emotional and moving the dance was and it was very sweet to see.
I’m honestly just ecstatic that this was the first same gender rumba we got because there’s no denying just how good it was and I think it’s worth noting as a pretty landmark moment in television and when they talk about it in the university reference books of the future, I would like them to include a footnote about Johannes’s gorilla fur turtleneck

I just think it’s equally important.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig
: 8
Motsi: 8
Shirley: 10
Anton: 9
TOTAL: 35

AJ and Kai
Charleston / Don’t Bring Lulu – Dorothy Provine

I have been joking all series about how Kai is a temporally displaced barman from anywhere between 1880 and 1950 and I would like to now present Exhibit A in my case to prove this to the jury

At this point, they’re doing this just for me.
I don’t quite know where elven wife Galadriel Bychkova entered the picture but with AJ and Kai dancing a Paso next week, maybe we’ll get some more answers. But this week they are of course dancing The Charleston, a dance that AJ has apparently wanted to learn since she got cast on the show, so she was obviously putting A LOT of pressure on herself – and there’s the fact the Charlestons this year have all been pretty stellar and fun. As far as I’m aware though, AJ blew them all out of the water with this routine. The character she created and the way she moved just felt like she had become a Max Fleischer cartoon, and in Lieu of a Horny Adam Peaty Gif Gallery, here’s AJ’s Charleston just about Gif’d in full:

and she didn’t drop it for a second, she entered Kai’s Open Plan Ballroom cum Livingroom and tore the place up

could maybe have got her a chaise longue that looked a little less like you’d got it straight from DFS though lads, but I get it, it wasn’t cheap to rent a well stocked liquor cabinet from Shirley.

I really can’t sing the praises of this dance high enough, this Charleston is to me what Chris Hollins’s is to everyone else. I think what I loved most about it was the fact it was high energy and it was very much a Charleston but nothing about it felt obnoxious which is often my biggest issue with the dance. And it seems (most of) the judges and I were on the same page with Motsi seemingly transcending to another plane of existence and Shirley rifling through her paddle bag to look for anything bigger than a 10

nice to know even the below-the-desk paddle bags are a little glam.
And then there’s Craig who simply said “A.MAZ.ING.” and offered no other critique

Yeah, me too AJ.
I’m going to need him to write me a 5000 word essay about just why he didn’t think this routine was worth a 10, it’s due this Friday and failure to comply will be met with stern words from Motsi Mabuse

Judges’ Scores:
Craig
: 9
Motsi: 10
Shirley: 10
Anton: 10
TOTAL: 39

Sara and Aljaz
Quickstep / 9 to 5 – Dolly Parton

To think I thought Karen From Finance’s Dolly Parton cosplay would be the worst Dolly look to grace television this year

not that anyone else actually watched Drag Race Down Under.
And then the Strictly wardrobe department, in their Halloween induced fugue state, decided that the closest they could get was 80s sitcom wife whose only jokes are about domestic chores and has never filmed a single scene outside of the house

but most shockingly of all that given the fact the routine was to 9 to 5 AND was seemingly set in the LEGO Quality Control Workshop

and yet not a single soul said the phrase “girlboss” and we’re now three routines in that have in some way referenced Sara as A Very Hard Working Feminist Icon™ – well, 4 if you count the time she helmed an origami boat, which I guess we should: smashing glass ceilings and all that jazz.
As ever, Sara excels in ballroom, especially when she can spend a fair bit of it in hold, not quite sure I needed to hear Shirley calling her “a snuggle bunny” but there’s no going back now. I’m mostly just surprised someone managed to outweird Anton going so crazy for this routine that he hooted like an owl stuck in a steam train’s whistle

but it was worth getting excited over because they moved incredibly across the floor, which is all you really want from a quickstep

there is still some tentativeness when she’s moving backwards but I think the camerawork disguised it a fair bit for the audience at home. I’m not quite sure it deserved a higher score than Tilly and Nikita’s tango but that might just be because I’ve always been more of a Chess player than a LEGO builder

Judges’ Scores:
Craig
: 8
Motsi: 8
Shirley: 8
Anton: 9
TOTAL: 33

And with that all said and done, we move to our leader board:

  1. Reliving Kai’s Glory Days
  2. Tom and Amy, sponsored by Colgate
  3. Thee Gay Rumba
  4. Rhys and Nancy in The AA: A Musical Misadventure
  5. Hot-steppin’ In The LEGO Factory
  6. A Samba But Make It FASHUN
  7. The Underappreciated Art of the Chess Themed Tango
  8. Dan and Nadiya Take on Hollywood For Some Reason
  9. Bisexual Pool Hall Jive

And in the Results Show we’ll find out which of our 9 couples will be the next to get the chop

And if you’ve enjoyed this recap of the Strictly’s Week 7 Main Show and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small donation via my Ko-fi HERE.

One thought on “Strictly 2021 – Week 7, Main Show: What’s 935.57km Between Friends?

  1. Jill Sleight

    Shirley whipping out that 10 paddle for J&J without hesitation, I lived. I need to watch it back because I felt like I couldn’t concentrate on it properly first time around because I legitimately felt so stressed but so so proud.

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