Strictly 2021 – Musicals Week, Main Show: A Woollen Bandolier

No soul, just vibes.

Was I dreading Musicals Week? Absolutely yes. And yet did I live while Tom Fletcher’s spirit died? Absolutely yes.
A night of iconic moments awaits.

We start Musicals Week as the show intends to go, rip-roaringly confusingly sexy

of course, we’re opening with a Cabaret number and somehow with the whole thing being set in The Kit Kat Club, Kai managed to escape being cast as a barman

welcome to a lofty upgrade to Sexy Mesh Dance Troupe! Although God bless the guy, it’s just programmed into him to walk like he’s a jaunty, turn of the century New York dock worker

I know everyone is doing the exact same choreography but it’s his own personal, unique curse.

And while yes, be-meshed Emcee Giovanni was very much Doing It For Twitter, it would be remiss of me not to give The Nikita Kuzmin Stan Army what they want

it’s a pity that they’re absolutely, under NO circumstances going to let Tilly near an Argentine Tango because… Very Pretty, Slick Nikita is my personal new favourite Nikita. Apologies to Gentile Picnic Nikita Who Doesn’t Understand Spoons.

Of course every Cabaret number needs its Sally Bowles and doing us the honour and having the time of her life was Oti

and Johannes was just really happy to be there and have a hat

Look, it’s a Strictly themed week and if the Halloween Week pro dance taught us anything, that can go VERY badly so it must be quite a relief when you open your costume bag and find out you’re just in a mesh vest and a bowler hat and not in Beauty and the Beast’s distressing, glittery Gaston muscle suit. THAT’S NOT A CHALLENGE VICKY, I know you have that muscle suit ready to go but please spare us, I beg of you, I’ll give you all the ostrich feathers you could possibly want.

In honour of Musicals Week, Tess had indeed come dressed for her star turn as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: The Musical

I can only imagine she lost a coin toss against Dianne as to who got to wear the jumpsuit in the same fabric

You won this battle Buswell, BUT YOU SHAN’T WIN THE WAR!

As for Claudia, she was dressed as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde 3: Devil’s Advocate

apparently loose hip scraps are super in right now.

Shirley continues a run of white outfits, this time looking distinctly not like she was about to marry her 3rd husband in a city hall

and then came Motsi and the first of our two guest judges for the evening: Motsi Mabuse’s Wig

this is top tier, this is EVERYTHING I want from Strictly and so, so much more and to cap it all off, the makeup was STUNNING

And of course we have Craig’s replacement for the evening and Just General Icon, Cynthia Erivo who certainly got the Bring Drama memo

you know someone’s not playing around when they come in wearing a caped gown.

Maria von Trapp and a Harrods Doorman
Waltz / Edelweiss – The Sound of Music

Whoever determined the running order of tonight’s show really decided they wanted to go for maximum psychic damage as we start with a palate cleanser of a waltz that we really could have done with having at the end of the show. Although not all was as bad as it seemed because we ended on a Charleston in Waltz timing anyway.

So fresh off the back of their Paso which apparently I’m going to have to go on a nationwide tour defending the shit out of, Kai and AJ were granted the sweet relief of a waltz in Week 9. And even more importantly, a waltz to Edelweiss – it’s all so delightfully vanilla that it’s hard to believe this routine wasn’t handed to Dan Walker on a silver platter.
And it was everything you could possibly want from a Sound of Music waltz, it was gentle, it was sweet, there was a short wig that did AJ’s bone structure WONDERS

probably for the best that they didn’t go full military regalia for Ol’ Captain von Trapp, it is reading a touch hotel bellhop though.
And of course there was an abundance of fake snow, a fleck of which stuck itself to AJ’s mouth and did make her look a bit like she was dancing with a Compeed cold sore patch

and the judges very much used this as an opportunity to praise her for coping with anything that could happen during a dance as though this was akin to Karen Hardy having to X-out her salsa because of a microphone tangle. Meanwhile Tom was payed DUST for the microphone mishap in his tango – we really should have seen the complete breaking of the man coming.

And as a thank you to everyone for keeping them in last week they tried to remake the quivering sexuality at the end of their Argentine Tango

not sure it works as well when you’re both dressed like you’re attending a private school formal but I appreciate the effort nonetheless.
I did also love that at the end Tess told them that “you could hear a pin drop after their stunning performance!” – meanwhile the audience is giving them a standing ovation and if you want to know what gets Dan Walker going like a football hooligan, it’s apparently a waltz to Edelweiss

we all have our unique thrills.

Judges’ Scores:
: 9
Motsi: 10
Shirley: 10
Anton: 9

Some Very Loose Feet and Nancy Xu’s Poor Shins
Jive / Footloose – Footloose

Before we get to this murder dance, I think we should probably just take a moment to be thankful that Rhys wasn’t made to Jive to one of the many speak-rapping songs from Hamilton, we all heard what the band did to You’re Welcome from Moana in Movies Week… So you know, things could have been worse. For us.

Rhys and Nancy were clearly well aware that Rhys’s entire Strictly purpose in life was to be the one to do The Musicals Week Jive and with Rhys looking like a tired, sweaty husk of a man in all of their training footage, you can tell they were putting in the hours this week

and then it all went a bit pear-shaped for the two of them didn’t it? As Rhys never quite managed to figure out his kicks or his flicks and you could almost feel his rising frustration as he just furiously took it out on that poor innocent dancefloor

and I’m pretty sure he kicked Nancy at least 4 times given how out of sync he was

and with 1000 volts of electricity coursing through him at all times, that must have hurt A LOT.
And with it all going to absolute shit before our very eyes, we were treated to an extreme close-up of the carnage

and then just to drive the point home, Tess loudly hoots “YOU MADE A MISTAKE!” at least 3 times because apparently she didn’t see the literal life leaving Rhys’s body as the dance ended

Well, that’s another week of Strictly Come Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for Rhys, have your clipboard at the ready Claudia!

The judges, sensing that Rhys is a boy on the edge of a Black Swan-style breakdown go VERY ease on the poor boy, all the while Tess is in the background still hooting about the mistake. They mostly fell back on praising his characterful performance because he is after all the best hope of a West End debut once the series ends, he’ll just not be welcome in The Novello.

Judges’ Scores:
: 8
Motsi: 8
Shirley: 8
Anton: 8

Bad Vibes Siblings
Contempowafting / On My Own – Les Misérables

Welcome to what has to be one of the most baffling routines that Strictly has ever put out – sorry to Nadiya and Dan Take On Hollywood For No Reason but you’re going to have to relinquish the crown to Emotionally Confused Les Mis Contempowafting.


I just don’t know why this routine exists because everything about Tom’s Strictly journey feels like it’s been leading up to this grand, romantic gesture to Giovanna and a couple’s choice would have been the perfect opportunity to do so, and with so many musicals about finding true love and you know… BEING HAPPY, Musicals Week would have been an even better fit. BUT NOPE, instead he wanted to dedicate a dance to his sister who happens to be a West End actress, which is sweet and cute and very Tom and Amy’s Affable Brand. The problem being his sister’s big role is Éponine from Les Mis and Éponine’s big song is the second biggest dirge of the show. And is about unrequited love… You sure about this Tom? You sure you want *this* song to be the one you dedicate to your sister? ARE. YOU. SURE? It’s not too late to dress up as a lion and crawl about the dancefloor to Can You Feel The Love Tonight? I mean it kind of is because Vicky Gill has already made Amy a woollen bandolier

and if Nadiya wasn’t allowed to nope out of being dressed in something that’s been languishing in the lost property box since the 60s, you’re locked into the vague aesthetic trappings of the French Revolution.

Speaking of vague, this routine… As much as this was surrounded by Tom dubiously dedicating it to his sister, this was a Sad Amy Passion Project through and through

which does make sense considering the whole song is a solo from Éponine. As for Tom’s role, he was mostly just moving her around and through some lifts like one of the puppeteers that operates Joey, the horse in Warhorse

they’re impressive lifts and stunts but he barely registered at all through this routine, there was no strength or power to any of his movements, which I can’t even really blame him for because he had no emotional reason to be dancing this, what should have been, quite emotionally raw dance. Which I cannot stress enough is about unrequited love. Instead the only emotion they managed to squeeze out of this routine was to send Theatre Kid Twitter into a civil war over who is the superior Éponine – if you want to cause maximum chaos, the answer is always Samantha Barks, but specifically Samantha Barks in Les Misérables: The Anne Hathaway Oscar Bait Story.

And so, fresh off the back of Rose and Giovanni’s Couple’s Choice, one of the most well received dances of the series at large, Tom and Amy clearly thought they had had their own Big Moment… And then the judging panel hit them like a tidal wave, criticising the fact it didn’t actually feel particularly emotional and just leaving Tom utterly shellshocked and Amy grittily smiling her way through it with a stare that could see through time and space

just complete and utter bewildered devastation, not an ounce of them left alive, those are broken people. They are… Les Misérables. Should have done the If I Only Had a Brain Charleston like I told you to, Dowden. I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU! WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU!

It’s honestly one of the most iconic Strictly moments and the fact it all ended with the judges singing, in unison, “Let It Go” capped it all off perfectly, it was ART.

Judges’ Scores:
: 7
Motsi: 8
Shirley: 8
Anton: 8

Anna McFrozen, A Bad Wig and Hans Westergaard
Quickstep / Love Is An Open Door – Frozen

Given that Motsi drained the show of its Frozen budget by singing a whole 1 bar of Let It Go in the Judges’ Debrief in Week 7, Rose was in Particularly Off-brand Anna Cosplay

the startlingly chartreuse skirt does at least distract you from the fact she’s but half an inch short of being lumbered with Jennifer Lawrence’s Tiny Baby Bangs

They could have done at least 1 thing to Rose’s poor miserable straight-out-of-the-bag wig.

My biggest gripe with Musicals Week, and Movies Week for that matter, especially if they’re using a Disney property, is that they come with pre-established choreography that the portion of the audience who are familiar with and excited for it, expect to see and I think that comes to the detriment of the dance, which was a little bit of the case with this routine. There was A LOT of faffing about at the front of the routine. Was it cute? Absolutely!

and then there was more of it at the tail end of the routine, which at least gave The Daily Express a couple of clickbait headline images to choose from

but you know, for the 57 seconds of dancing that the two of them did do, and yes I will include the break to do the robot in that 57 seconds

it was a very good, well executed quickstep, for the most part and I do have to wonder if, as much as being a Musicals Week staple, some of the severe reduction of actual dance content was because Rose was struggling with the choreography – one particular step gave her the most issues and with every attempt in her training VT looking like a cat that’s scared of its own reflection, I was slightly worried

as it turns out, she was fine, it was Giovanni who made the slip-up on the night as they become a little stuck right in front of the judges – Cynthia was at least forgiving of it. Show her bad contempowaft though and she’ll eviscerate you.
The error did at least have Rhys breathing a sigh of relief

he aged 40 years in that Jive.

Judges’ Scores:
: 10
Motsi: 9
Shirley: 9
Anton: 9

Two Conservatively Sooted Chimneysweeps
Viennese Walt / Chim Chim Cher-ee – Mary Poppins

My biggest concern when I found out we were getting a Chim Chim Cher-ee number was the sooting because I have seen some productions of Mary Poppins where the chimneysweeps trip the blackface fantastic, so this was a relief

and much like their sootiness, the whole dance was a little conservative – if I thought Dan Walker’s blown kiss in his couple’s choice was chaste, this was practically Amish

and while I get it, soot wart riddled Edwardian chimneysweeps from Mary Poppins aren’t the most romantic of characters, this was a Viennese Waltz and we could have used a little more romance and not so much DAYLIGHT AT ALL TIMES, THESE ARE JUST GOOD CHUMS! I can still feel Johannes’s fear of the reaction to him dancing with John, which is valid and I don’t want to it to feel like I’m being dismissive of it, but it is slightly hampering their ballroom dances, there just isn’t a depth to them, and maybe that’s just because Johannes isn’t such a ballroom boy, because their rumba was great and if they could just bring a little of that to their foxtrot or their waltz, I think we’d be in for a stunner of a routine. Technically? The dance was great, there was some really beautiful, fluid choreography in there

and I think it was a successful blend of musical theatricality and a ballroom dance, but it did feel a little like they were just going through the motions of it and thus, a perfect sweep of 8s from the judges.

Judges’ Scores:
: 8
Motsi: 8
Shirley: 8
Anton: 8

Matilda Ramsay-Wormwood-Terwilliger-Smith and A Schoolboy In The Midst of a Growth Spurt
Couple’s Choice / Revolting Children – Matilda: The Musical

Remember when Jamie Laing had to do Everybody’s Talking About Jamie for Musicals Week just because his name was Jamie? Well, this was exactly the same logic but at least Matilda “Tilly” Ramsay didn’t have to field 100 questions about whether she was using this opportunity as a coming out story or not. Not to invalidate the lesbian subtext of Miss Honey, who Nikita was sadly not dressed up as. Spoil sport.

As a card carrying member of the Tilly Ramsay Fan Club and Esteemed Gifstress to the Nikita Kuzmin Stan Army, it does pain me to say that I did not enjoy this routine. BUT, one of my greatest fears in life does so happen to be adults dressed as children – I think it all started when I saw Blood Brothers as part of a GCSE art trip and my main take-aways were Shoes Upon The Table is an unsung musical banger and that I never want to see a 30 year old man playing a 6 year old EVER AGAIN. So it could have been worse, these two kind of just about get away with it looking like a Back to School with George at ASDA advert

but I did still feel supremely anxious throughout the whole routine, and maybe it was because it all started with Tilly having to concentrate super hard not to fall off the desk because she had to whip her blazer around like a madwoman

and apparently that wasn’t enough prop-work for Little Nikita Junior as for some reason he choreographed this whole bit in the middle involving a book, which as it turns out is not the most ergonomic of props

the worst part though, and by “worst” I just mean the part where I screamed and had a visceral reaction was when I thought they were about to do the Pinocchio and Evil McSnake-face Lift from That Cursed Halloween Routine

I have never been more relieved by a choreographic fake-out.

My misgivings aside, the judges go BALMY for it, they think it is the best thing since… well Rose and Giovanni’s Couple’s Choice because it did go on to get a full 40 points… How you feeling Tom?

Ah, the face of scarecrow Charleston regret.

I don’t know if they really deserved a 40, but it does make the Les Mis Contempowaft being completely panned that much funnier.

Judges’ Scores:
: 10
Motsi: 10
Shirley: 10
Anton: 10

Debbie Reynolds and Definitely Not Gene Kelly
Charleston / Good Morning – Singin’ In The Rain

God bless that the lead in to this routine was “Dan is hoping he’ll finally break into the 30s with his Charleston.” and the last time I believe this happened in a full cast season was with Mark Benton in Series 11 – it happened with Jamie Laing too but there were only 3 judges so I’m not counting it. And if there’s one routine that’s pretty much guaranteed to get you a 30, it’s The Charleston, a routine that Nadiya apparently really loves which makes the fact she has danced it once on the show with Davood in 2017 a little bit sad. What makes it doubly sad is her outfit which looked like it had been languishing in the BBC lost property box since the 60s

granted the embellishments at least make it look significantly better than it did on Thursday’s It Takes Two wherein the entire audience panned it, so bravo to Nadiya for going ahead with it, even though the Strictly Instagram uploaded this photo of the two of them prior to their routine and I genuinely thought she had rejected the dress

She does after all not get out of a negligee for less than £10,000.

Dan had only one thing on his mind though, given that they were dancing to Good Morning from Singin’ In The Rain

you can take the man out of BBC Breakfast but you can’t take BBC Breakfast out of the man.

Nadiya meanwhile was mostly unsure whether Dan’s command over his own body would extend to doing a forward roll while I had my own concerns about whether this sofa was safe to touch?

What questionable rummage shop did you find that at?

I can only imagine that a week of Dan Walker perfecting his forward rolls, imaginably with guidance from the rolypoly sommelier himself, Cameron, that the sofa’s already dying springs were completely shot. And there was no budget left to replace it because the props department had gone all out and brought in Shirley’s entire home bar, gin stock and all

but of course Daniel Walker being the good Christian man he is, was not imbibing this evening, he has church in the morning

he’ll have a decaf tea, please.

As far as Charlestons go, this was maybe the slowest one we’ve ever been treated to and Dan, while having significantly improved his presence while dancing, still feels like he’s having to concentrate really hard to get through a routine which does somewhat make his dances feel laborious and a bit of a chore. But there were flashes of a very good, slightly too slow, dance in there and then a camera decided that was enough of that and promptly died a death

shout out to my Television Production Tutor who will no doubt show this clip endlessly in Studio TV Seminars to illustrate the perils of live television. Love you, Patrick.

Dan does have some of the same problems as John in that Nadiya is so poised and elegant that you really notice her finishing and little flourishes here and there so when he does three quarters of a move before letting the last little bit tail off into nothing, it really, really stands out.

Judges’ Scores:
: 7
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 9
Anton: 8

And so, to our leaderboard:

  1. Back to School with George at ASDA!
  2. A Premature Palate Cleanser of a Waltz
  3. The Obligatory Frozen Routine
  4. Rhys’s Only Purpose In Life Going Up In Flames
    • Chimneysweeps WHO ARE JUST FRIENDS.
  5. Complete Emotional Bafflement and Devastation
    • A Charleston in Waltz Time

Find out who amongst our dwindling cast does not survive Musicals Week…

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

2 thoughts on “Strictly 2021 – Musicals Week, Main Show: A Woollen Bandolier

  1. Grace

    I’ve only just discovered your Strictly reviews (better late than never…) but I absolutely LOVE them! Your humour is right up my street (unlike Dan’s ‘dancing’). Thank you for taking the time to write these!

  2. GeordieGump

    Likewise have just discovered you via the Digital Spy Strictly Non-appreciation thread.
    Great review…clips…stills… and loving your take on it all…
    Thankfully…the madness that is Musicals Week has faded for another year.

Leave a Reply