Strictly 2021 – Semi-final, Results Show: Contractual Midriff Quota

I needed a striking header imagine and I’m afraid it was this or Neil Jones looking like your Bad Vibes Uncle. Consider me merciful.

It’s the last hump before The Final and somehow the Halloween pro dance continues to haunt me. You’ve been warned.

Having failed to think of the repercussions of taking The SAVOY (that’s Schedule Altering Voyager Of Years) back back to The 40s and then stopping off in Oti and Graziano’s period of heartbreak, Kai inadvertently fluxed us all back to the glory days of the professionals dancers’ university years – where young Graziano was still studying hard for that PHD in Penguin Behaviours and yet to learn of the dapperness of a fedora…

or the heartache that his dedication to spheniscidine kind will lead him to… Should’ve done English Lit.

Meanwhile Aljaz in his newsboy cap (which he in inexplicably wearing backwards) wanders around with a stack of books and somehow managing to look like Keroppi the Frog from Hello Kitty

with a Hello Kitty movie in production, get ready for that Movies Week routine lads.

Aljaz and Graziano got off quite lightly in terms of the wardrobe in this routine, Jowita and Dianne weren’t quite so lucky as the pair of them found themselves dressed by setting the Shein filters to Chaos

Never has the styling of a routine been so encumbered by the contractual midriff quota, of which Gorka was heftily contributing to

meanwhile Nadiya managed to bargain herself out of any sort of argyle and a hat

I had thought she might be able to broker herself a deal to be The Sexy Ghost that haunts the erotica section, she did after all manage to convince someone to let her dress up as Sexy Saruman in the Halloween routine

I still want a full true crime documentary podcast about HOW that routine happened AND WHY.

As we know, every library needs a head librarian and if I had to guess who it would be, I would have happily bet £50 on it being Amy Dowden – she’s accompanied by an eternal, slightly stern “shhh” wherever she goes. And if there’s a single pro I would have never cast as a person who runs a library, it would be Neil Jones

the man is the Kindle you got for Christmas and only use for the occasional Nigel Slater recipe made flesh. Also, rude of them to dress him like a 60 year old man when Kai is RIGHT THERE practically begging for a cosy tweed suit after his rumba blouse. But Neil Jones isn’t like other librarians he’s a cool librarian…

Yes, I am sad to report that this was indeed a Neil Jones street dance, including such daring moves as… this old favourite

WHO KEEPS DOING THIS AND WHY? WHAT DOES IT *MEAN*? And because the choreographer thought they had really pushed the boat out with the ol’ thread-the-needle, Neil had to settle for dramatically removing his blazer as his choreographic crescendo

God bless the fact it cut to that piece of dance prowess after Cameron did some semi-passable Strictly Brand Breakdancing

They’ve come so far since Jamie and Karen spun around on the floor like a pair of slowly dying flies

WAIT A SECOND. Cameron, you’re 9 years old in 2021, HOW ARE YOU HERE? Kai, what have you done? Fix this! Fix it now! Someone’s going to end up as their own grandfather if you don’t! Sorry, I should have cut to the chase and said “Nikita will end up as his own grandfather if you don’t!”

nothing says “Bad Vibes Marty McFly” (who McFly is named after, did you know?) more than a backwards baseball cap.

Luckily before Nikita could do anything to upset the timeline more than Kai going back in time and wooing Louis XVI, we return to present day Elstree where Tess has forsaken the somberness of funereal Results Show black for extremely lively pink and Claudia seemed to have donned a full ocelot catsuit before maybe thinking that was going to look a little gauche so put on a blazer to make it 70% more respectful

meanwhile nobody else cared and Shirley showed up in particularly celebratory blue sequins

and Motsi continued her quest to make Disco Week happen

You know what? A disco poncho is a solid argument for it, I’ll let them do 1 (one) disco Paso Doble to test the waters, see if it pays off like it did Sara’s Discotine Tango…

Anton was in black tie and Craig was on hand to help usher anyone to their seats if the need arose

you wear red velvet at your own peril.

And now for the last and very short walk through the Monkseal Memorial Safety Sex Face Gallery as we discover our first set of finalists, who are of course…

A positivity cannibalistic effort from these two, just devouring one another whole. That’s the power of an Argentine Tango for you.

And of course, we must now go to the first of our bottom two, with the couple being bathed in the the big red light being…

Gotta say, the shirts look pretty fab under red light. It’s also a result that largely takes the suspense out of who else is going to be in the bottom two. The advice for them comes from Shirley, because I imagine most of the others would have just told him to slip Dave Arch a tenner to play Jailhouse Rock instead. Shirley has, kind of, more practical advice in that John just needs to do what he did previously, she did after all give him a 10 for the routine.

Before Tess gets around to supergluing Rhys to the Glittery Road to the Final, we get a chat with Giovanni and Rose where Giovanni promises us a very elegant and sophisticated Show Dance – BOO, GIVE IN TO THE FILTH. But he also promises us “the biggest prop we’ve ever seen on Strictly.” Is it an origami warship? A regular sized horse prop? 4 slightly too wobbly street lamps? The Coca Cola Lorry they ordered for Rhys when this was initially going to be a 4 person finale and he was the biggest ringer? GODDAMMIT ROBERT WEBB YOU WASTED SO MANY PEOPLE’S TIME. Whichever way it goes, is Rose going to descend from the ceiling on said prop as The Harness Candidate? That’s the most pressing question and for the time being, their lips are sealed.

Obviously after nearly causing havoc with the Kuzmin genes and nearly erasing Cameron from our timeline – (WHO WOULD DO ALL OF THE FORWARD ROLLS THEN KAI? WHO?) Kai’s SAVOY had been impounded for the evening so nobody could quickly nip back to 2010 and yoink Eliza Doolittle off the cusp of obscurity to come and perform Pack Up for us – so there’s no musical guest for the evening and nobody is any the wiser as to where Eliza Doolittle is, least of all her Wikipedia page. [Proofreading-Ariadne doesn’t know why Past-Ariadne came so hard for Eliza Doolittle either.]

So it’s pretty much straight back to the results, of course there was a Judges’ Best bits which sadly didn’t feature Cynthia Erivo eviscerating Tom’s Couple’s Choice Routine or nearly enough of Motsi furiously tapping on the perspex divider. Unsurprisingly, none of Craig’s incredibly uncomfortable jokes about Motsi and her outfits featured either… nor did Anton uttering the phrase “Lady Captain” – I approve of the decision, the quicker we erase the phrase the better.

And so the result which was rather painfully obvious given that in order for AJ to be in the bottom 2, Rhys would have needed to basically top the phone vote which… Nancy clearly realised wasn’t happening as she bobbed her head along to the tension music like a certain bobble-headed insurance dog

and sure enough, Rhys and Nancy are indeed the second Red Light Couple while AJ and Kai have to do their best to remain at least slightly composed as it dawns on them that they’re finalists

I’m afraid, I would not have been as composed, I’d have been swinging those pompoms around like a well-feathered cowgirl.

As for the advice for Rhys, Motsi does her best and just tells him to “prove yourself to yourself.” which to me was an invitation for him to go The Full Kuzmin and once against take a samba to the realms of ill-advised joyously cringe nakedness – I’d love to have seen Nancy’s reaction if he had done it. Just a full X-ing of the routine and she makes him finish his samba like she made him start his tango – ALL ALONE.

In AJ and Kai’s interview there is NO NEWS of next week’s Show Dance or their chosen dances and it is instead just several minutes of Shipper Bait as AJ repeats that Kai has awoken something inside of her that she’s never felt before while looking ddirectly down the barrel of the camera almost daring me to write that goddamn rumba fanfic

No. Kai’s grandmother ruined the mood.

And so, to the dance off which is a rather short affair considering John and Johannes pretty much just mirrored their Jive performance from The Main Show while just perhaps looking slightly more knackered considering they had (in real life) probably only danced it a mere 3 hours beforehand. While Rhys and Nancy, fully in the knowledge they’re going to go home no matter what, just go absolutely ham with Rhys performing this with the same unhinged determination as his Electroshock Cha Cha Cha

if you’re going to go out, you might as well do it swinging! And involunatrily jerking, I suppose.

They do have a slight blipse when Nancy’s heel gets caught in the fullness of her feathery loincloth though

but it certainly didn’t phase her or Rhys, who in all honesty by this point was so lost to the rhythm he was tasting sounds.

It is in the end a unanimous decision to save John and Johannes, I thought Shirley might throw Rhys one last West End bone and say she’d have saved him but alas… They get a wonderful send off though, with the pressure of the competition well and truly off Rhys felt like he was finally relaxed and actually himself. I think out of all the contestants the competition kind of got to him the most – and I imagine there’s a significant pressure that comes along with being partnered with a first time pro – Kai at least had done Dancing With The Stars: Ireland before Strictly.

It does feel like it’s been a bit of a frustrating series for Nancy, obviously, your first series is a bit of a baptism by fire and it took a while for Nancy to kind of work out what worked for Strictly rather than a traditional dance competition. It didn’t help that it very much felt like the show was actively marketing Rhys to anyone who had a nostalgic Jukebox musical going in the West End. I get the impression Nancy is a much more modern, creative dancer than the theming and song choices they gave them allowed her to be. Due to that, I’d love to see Nancy get a sportsman next year, someone she can be a little more daring and creative with, but Rhys was a great way for her to cut her teeth and introduce herself to the competition properly. And I’m even more thrilled that their final dance was the Haribo-fuelled School Disco chaos we dared to dream it would be

Shine on you crazy kids.

And so, we did it. We got our ideal Top 3

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