Strictly 2022, Week 1, Main Show: Medium Sized Glue Factory

Recap ahoy!

Missing: One Medium Sized White Horse, please return to Tess Daly if found.

WE’RE BACK! And we’re starting with with a bang, quite literally as Dianne seems to have walked face first into a door

someone at KISS FM, can you put some of those bird stickers on the windows? It might help and not hinder her in her attempt to free Tyler from his life of mundanity

as this was the theme of the opening – the professional dancers whisking their partners away from the grey tones of the BBC Towers to their new sparkly Strictly Wonderland

except for James Bye, who may have been murdered by Amy?

PLOT TWIST! cue the Doof Doofs!

And of course we have to have our big opening number, in which various pros had been taken prisoner and forced into a life of parakeet servitude, with Cameron and Neil finding themselves on cage turning duty like a pair of cave trolls in Middle Earth’s equivalent of Brazil

it’s hard work being a benched pro, but at least it’s honest work. I can only imagine they were also responsible for winching Tess and Claudia down from the ceiling looking like the angel and devil sitting on Elton John’s shoulders

they of course thank Jason Gilkison for the routine as if they even needed to tell us that he had put together a routine involving a metric tonne of chest glitter that Vito is going to picking out of his chest hair for the next 8 weeks.

And of course, we welcome in the judges, who also made rather brave entrances during the opening number, meaning Craig is never allowed to offer a critique on anyone else’s dancing ever again

and he said Richie looked like he was on RuPaul’s Drag Race? Mind you, it’s still better vogueing than Michelle Visage.
Meanwhile Shirley just became a whirling dervish purely because she finally got her dance with Kai

we’ll have to debate who was going faster in their spins, Shirley or Graziano who is still feeling motion sick despite filming the routine in July

but Shirley was back to her Head Judge Formalwear for the main show

meanwhile Motsi was dressed like she as sponsored by Crayola

and if videogames have taught me one thing, it’s that she a Tess Daly are now mortal foes, doomed to fight one another for the rest of time

my money is on Motsi having one hell of an uppercut, Tess stands no chance.

Craig and Anton weren’t about to give up the one moment of wardrobe fun they’ll have until Halloween Week wherein they’re dressed up as Ryan Gosling’s Ken and the chef with a raccoon on his head in Everything Everywhere All At Once

you can decide who’s gonna be who.

There are of course some big changes since last year – there’s no perspex separating the judges for Motsi to rap her knuckles on, there is a full out of tune audience which sadly means we have lost our cafe terrace which I had really enjoyed having last year but this does mean that Claud 9 has reopened to the paying public, and according to Fleur East, shoes are not mandatory

Ma’am, please stop feeding WikiFeet before midnight, it’s growing too powerful.

Kym Marsh & Graziano Di Prima
Jive / Yes – Merry Clayton

Kicking off the show and getting the whole shebang arollin’ was Kym Marsh and Graziano, who upon being served a plate of meatball marinara, having “BELLISSIMO!” relentless chanted at him and receiving his 6th Italian flag apron realised he is on a one way trip to being made to do a Super Mario themed routine in the name of pleasing Kym’s three grandchildren

Do you wanna be Mario or Luigi, babe? Either way, Kym better get a whacking great fake moustache because I’m not having a Princess Peach cop-out.

Kym imaginably won a thumb war against Kaye Adams and was thus given the obligatory daytime television set for her routine

sadly they hadn’t bothered to get Gethin Jones to come in and run around in the background like a hooligan

He wasn’t even in the audience! Although, I might not have pitched up either if I found out my co-host was doing a routine that was based on how much she hates me

sadly that pent up rage didn’t quite make it into her Jive, which she was dancing at half speed

and we were treated to three of these jives in week one – it’s a daring gamble with a high risk of an ankle injury to reward ratio, let’s see how it turns out for them

ouch, usually you get a +2 on your score rolls for being the series opener, but Craig and his 4 paddle were competing to become this year’s hottest couples Halloween costume. But it did also balance out Anton’s nonsense 7, which he justified for “an injection of speed” but he does think walking up the Sainsbury’s travelator is a high octane thrill, so I can see why he thought Kym kicking her feet with the tenacity of someone trying to get a pebble out of their sandals was ~speedy~.

Craig: 4
Motsi: 6
Shirley: 6
Anton: 7
Total: 23

Tyler West & Dianne Buswell
American Smooth / Falling – Harry Styles’s Flop Era

Making his big debut and being launched into the spotlight from relative obscurity was this year’s biggest WHOMST?: Tyler West, who apparently DJs in the London Eye’s pods

and if you ever forget his name, they do helpfully label him

it’s very hard to find any information on Tyler, it’s a slightly generic name but if he is the Tyler West who played professional handball: congratulations, and if he isn’t, I dunno… steal his identity? Nobody’s gonna know.

He was of course partnered up with Dianne, who is just so relieved that she had someone that she can do some minorly contemporary choreography with, such daintily rolling across the floor

Ma’am, you are one chingrab-to-camera away from fully Neil Jonesing yourself, have some restraint.

Despite Dianne rolling along the floor like a chipolata escaping a buffet table, they were dancing an American Smooth to Falling by Harry Styles, which got Tyler West very emotional

whether this was because he has a connection to the song or just because we’re in the midst of the Don’t Worry Darling AND My Policeman discourse could be debated. I’m just mad the song wasn’t Airplanes by B.O.B because the start of the routine was giving me some serious MordeTwi energy

I am afraid my onlineness is terminal, I apologise profusely, both to everyone in this universe and the one where Dianne and Tyler were indeed dressed up as MSPaint renderings of Twilight Sparkle and Mordecai for Meme Week.

The big thing with an American Smooth is always the lifts, which is why putting them in Week 1 should probably be illegal, but nonetheless Dianne was going BIG – it’s been 4 years since she made it beyond Week 4, she knows she’s on borrowed time unless Shirley finds a way to break the spell and keep Tyler in the competition long enough to spell her phone number out using her paddles – here’s hoping there’s no 6s in her number

The way she just stuck with the 7 because Craig gave him a 4 <3

Their big lift in this routine was the Angel Lift, which they pulled off incredibly well, even if you could see Tyler bracing himself like he was having an entire rugby team running at him and not a 5ft2″ Australian woman

the judges were very complimentary of the confidence they have in each other, or at least they were once Anton stopped malfunctioning as he struggled to find a way to describe Dianne’s physique without sounding like a total creep, eventually spluttering out “Slight…. lady?” – “Slight lady” also being how I describe myself, for very different reasons.
Meanwhile Shirley was of course focusing all of her attention on Tyler and doing her best Jessie J impression

I miss the popstar Illuminati conspiracies of 2011 – a vintage year for foilhattery.
Craig however was not feeling the emotional connection and called them “pedestrian” both because it was quite vanilla and because Tyler does a lot of walking. But the only judging that matters was Tyler’s mother, who did become the inaugural Weeping Mother of 2022

I hope she’s ready to have that camera shoved in her face every week, because if I don’t see a single tear when Tyler dances a samba to the Desmond’s theme tune during 100 Years of The BBC Week, I will cancel her.

Craig: 4
Motsi: 5
Shirley: 7
Anton: 6
Total: 22

Jayde Adams & Karen Hauer
Samba / Dirrty – Christina Aguilera

FINALLY. Karen gets the same-sex partnership that her hair has been trying to manifest since 2018

and God bless her instantly whipping out a Samba to Dirrty by Christina Aguilera the second she got paired with a woman – less God blesses to the producers for making them theme it around actual cleaning instead of greasing Karen up and sending her out in a pair of chaps, so Jayde and Karen were in overalls that were very much Silky Nutmeg Ganache in flavour

the art of a reveal is for the reveal to be unsuspected, this is practically floodlit. I was however worried that, much like Silky, Jayde might end up waddling around the stage with a deflated Violet Beauregard between her legs

thankfully that image shall remain within the theatre of the mind as Jayde managed to get the overalls off, albeit with the ferocity of a magician who just messed up his 7th attempt at ripping a tablecloth off without taking the crockery with it

and Vicky Gill had held nothing back for the final outfit, which is a surprise considering that Molly Rainford has to be dressed as a sensory overload every week for the CBBC audience

the pleather knee-high galoshes were a curious choice and certainly didn’t help her footwork, which was very flat-footed and heel-led but it was a fun routine and she certainly had the hips down with her to-camera moment

it was less good in hold, where she had a look of despair on her face the likes of which I didn’t think I’d see again after Rhys’s Calamity Jive last year

and by the end of the routine she was having to cling to Tess Daly for dear life in order to remain in the land of the living – which is a bit like trying to warm yourself up by standing in an industrial freezer

and while there were a lot of calls for better technique from the judges, she got the highest score so far, so I think that’s a Nose Boop for Jayde

Karen very much becoming The Nouveau Oti, as she deserves.

Craig: 4
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 6
Anton: 6
Total: 23

Kaye Adams & Kai Widdrington
Tango / Voulez-Vous – ABBA

Now for the first of last year’s Finalists, Kai, who wasted no time in reminding Kaye of the would have made it all the way to the final if it hadn’t been for that meddling talus bone

I imagine it was revenge for Kaye making us all think about her “upside-down twerking”

Karen just fully shutting down the moment Kaye said it <3

Twerking however was not going to help her this week because she had been given the tango, although given the content of Tony Adams’s tango, Kai might as well have just thrown a beat breakdown in the middle of it all. Instead, to help her, Kai was taking her back in time to her previous life as Fifi la Touche – who works for the French Resistance in ‘Allo ‘Allo! alongside fellow Voulez-Vous Tangoeer, Monsieur Pamplemousse

Quite why she went with such a distinctly unsexy name, I don’t know but at least it stopped them from making their team name KaiKaye which manages to sound like both a slur and a sex act, truly the most cursed partnership, let us never speak of it again.
Anyway, through the wormhole and onwards to Fifi!

time travel is not nearly as sexy as I thought it would be but here we are with Fifi la Touche in Kaye’s personal Hell

at least there’s a bar for them to waste almost 40 seconds of their routine at – which was Motsi’s favourite part as she reeled off how much control and composure Kaye had displayed before revealing that she had buried the lede and was actually talking about Kaye just standing at the bar moving around in a 2 foot area of space

to be fair I imagine it took an incredible amount of restraint for Kaye to not down the dry ice martini like it was a cyanide pill the second the band struck up

but in failing to do so, Kaye was forced around that dancefloor, turning the majority of Kai’s choreography into spaghetti AND YET, a hero emerges from the most unlikely of places because after scoring three consecutive routines with 4s, Craig decided that THIS routine, this routine in which Kaye was about 4 lifetimes behind Kai, living her life as an Irish milkmaid called Gertie McManus in 1854, THIS ROUTINE, was worth a 6

it was because of the ABBA wasn’t it?

Craig: 6
Motsi: 5
Shirley: 5
Anton: 5
Total: 21

The Amy Dowden’s Nice Men Cinematic Universe: Eastenders Expansion Pack
Jive / What I Like About You – The Romantics

James Bye really wanted to tease us during the launch show, offering the faint hope for three whole same-sex couples

Ladies and Gentlemen, James Bi.

But as the only man in the cast that looks like he’d be cast in a regional pantomime, there was only one woman that they could possibly pair the man with the rosey cheeks of a new born baby with…

once again, all’s right with the world: the audience is clapping out of time, Dave Arch is playing fast and loose with the art of a cover and Amy has a very affable man on her arm.

They were of course the second of our three jives this weekend, with Amy upcycling her outfit from her Hairspray jive with Karim in the hopes that it would bring her good luck

it did not in the end bring her much good luck with James having a few hairy moments throughout the routine and getting his frustrations out by throwing the vinyl records into the audience like they were novelty The Cha Cha Chas branded shurikens

Nikita was very happy that someone had taken the time not notice him, even if it was something of an assassination attempt

I imagine it’s hard to have a conversation with Matt Goss who I fully believe is probably prone to getting a bit distracted by his own reflection in the table.

The judges were fairly lenient with the mistakes, especially Craig who scored him two whole points higher than Kym Marsh, presumably because Amy and James will waste no opportunity to bellow about how James has no previous dance experience while Kym obviously has the advantage of having done chair jive exercises with Katya Jones every morning on The One Show 2: Early Morning Boogaloo.

Craig: 6
Motsi: 5
Shirley: 5
Anton: 6
Total: 22

Richie Anderson and Giovanni Pernice
Cha-Cha-Cha / I’m Your Man – Wham!

Having become the benchmark for deaf inclusion on television last year, Giovanni finds himself this year becoming The Patron Saint of Straight Mates, partnering up with Radio 2’s Richie Anderson – and nobody is more thrilled than Zoe Ball whose fanfic writing hobby has advanced to private theatre performances

she’s in the process of writing one hell of a rumba, do not disturb her art!

For their first dance they were dancing the Cha Cha Cha, although Richie had decided otherwise, having failed to fully grasp the Pesto Pasta Cha Cha Cha counting scheme for Ballroom Babies that Giovanni had taught him, he instead turned his entire performance into a lipsync for his life as he merrily sang along to I’m Your Man with barely a care in the world for the concept of timing and counts

but oh what a lipsync it was! Starting off strong with a turn to camera that put the Dramatic Groundhog to shame

I was genuinely quite surprised by how well he moved, sure it was a little jerky but for a man that sits in chairs like Nosferatu, I think he did quite well

Craig however thought it was a little stiff, but only Richie can know for sure

Motsi’s biggest concern was about Richie’s breathing, again only Richie can know for sure

but she also wanted him to listen to the music more to help with his timing – I personally thought that the issue was that he was listening to the music a little too much – he did not drop a single syllable of the song. The pesto pasta however? It’s all over the floor, it’s in Giovanni’s ears, Graziano’s having war flashbacks to his dinner with the Marshes – it’s a nightmare. But no matter what, Matt Goss seemed to have had a religious experience after it all

do it Nadiya, make him to an 80s camp classic cha cha cha, he’s too shy to ask directly.

Craig: 5
Motsi: 5
Shirley: 6
Anton: 7
Total: 23

Helen Skelton & Gorka Marquez
America Smooth / You Send Me – Aretha Franklin

I am on record as pre-emptively picking Helen Skelton as the winner of this series, my chances of success somewhat slipping the moment she turned up to her training with Gorka without a single pair of shoes

as a child, I once turned up to the airport to go to South Africa without a single pair of shoes – I wasn’t even wearing any, so it could have been worse. Gorka however is just happy to have something of a ringer on his hands again. However, one wrong move Helen and he’s going to dress up as a sheepdog and crash this ship on the jagged rocks of puppy play

Katie McGlynn still can’t look at a dalmatian.

Their dance this week was the American Smooth which they were doing in the Foxtrot style and for me it lacked a little dynamism and in all honesty came across a little dull – possibly because she was sandwiched between Richie Anderson’s Heaven: The Rusical and Molly Rainworth’s sensory overload, there wasn’t a great chance of Helen playing the part of a very twee prairie girl who just longs to visit the big ol’ city doing a very by-numbers American Smooth Foxtrot to make much of an impact

although, the piano that she smashed to smithereens in a worse attempt at pretending to play the piano than Katya Jones “playing” Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata from 40 feet away in a darkened room would beg to differ

and I think the scoring for this routine showed the biggest difference between last year’s big bang of a return to “normality” and this more regular series because last year I do think this probably would have scored a couple more points, purely because of Shirley’s trigger happy 7 paddle. And it would have had significantly more feathers, there wasn’t even a single sequin on the girl, not even a fun novelty Paperchase pencil and diary – they just handed her the floor-manager’s notebook and B2 pencil and wished her the best, all the prop money obviously being spent on Tony Adams’s massive phallic symbol.

Craig: 6
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 6
Anton: 7
Total: 26

Molly Rainford & Carlos Gu
Samba / Kiss My (Uh Oh) – Anne-Marie & Little Mix

Ushering in the spate of new pros is Carlos Gu, who is having quite the effect on the nation

and I would just like Carlos to know that I am free on Thursday night if he is also free on Thursday night when I am free on Thursday night.

Like the newbies Nancy and Nikita last year, he is of course partnered with the CBBC personality, Molly Rainford, the star of Nova Jones which is actually a real show and not a BBC psyop campaign, who knew? And like many a children’s entertainers before her, the wardrobe department are struggling to find the balance between dressing her like a 21 year old and like the aspirations of a 7 year old

Hun, I hope you’re adequately braced for the theme weeks because you’re not getting out of them without being put in a miserable Disney princess wig at least once.

I was slightly surprised that Vicky Gill managed to restrain herself and not go the full Nova Jones on Saturday night, instead she’s just raided the discarded transformation challenge outfits from Sewing Bee

the insane drapery of the top aside, the skirt is very pretty and I think did her a lot of favours in this routine because while she did very well and she gave it all the personality that you could hope for from a through-and-through theatre kid, there were a few moments where she was dancing like a non-articulated Barbie doll

but it was better than her launch show dance which looked a bit like she had tried to learn the choreography by watching YouTube videos at a sleepover

I have never been more glad to see such rapid improvement and I thoroughly enjoyed their tandem spins down the centre of the floor

I’m just relieved that it seems the weekly Carlos Gu Content™ will continue for quite some time and also Molly seems a lovely girl and I look forward to her inevitable Space Man American Smooth.

The judges were very complimentary of her too and you could really feel a shift in their energy after this routine – Motsi certainly perked up quite a bit which is why I think this samba would probably have been a better opening number than Kym Marsh performing a very slow Gethin Jones call out post.

A Hatless Matt Goss & Nadiya Bychkova
Quickstep / Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder

Despite Richie’s manicness and the general mystique of Tyler West, the most fascinating contestant of this series is Matt Goss. His collection of hats, the unflappable placidity, the fact I’m 90% sure he only speaks in Rumi quotes – he is a riddle shrouded in an enigma wearing a hat. And only adding to the intrigue is his partnership with Nadiya, which feels like a hostage situation except you’re not quite sure who has taken who hostage

I cannot wait for him to introduce her to hats like Dan Walker introduced to her Sheffield.

Their dance this week was a Quickstep, which probably wasn’t the best place to start for a man that always has the energy of someone that’s in the middle of getting a massage and it rather showed, with there being a fair few points that did look a bit like he was performing in a Laurel and Hardy skit

his frame was the worst part of it all, but his footwork was alright and he hit the accents of the dance extremely strongly, which is always the most fun part of the routine

and oddly gives me a little bit of hope for his Latin dances.
I imagine it didn’t help the second half of the routine that Nadiya became hoisted by her own L’Oreal sponsored petard and had to scream “MATT GOSS, TAKE THE WHEEL!” as her face became covered with hair

I am honestly shocked that Matt didn’t stop the routine there and then to help Nadiya get the hair out of her face before gently whispering into her ear “This never would have happened if you’d worn a hat.”

Anton and Shirley were not enthused about the performance, with Shirley giving my favourite style of critique and complimenting Matt Goss’s metrosexuality before telling him his frame was horrendous, his arms were hellish and that she hated him, but my God did he sit in that makeup chair for 2 hours really, really well – and to be fair he is groomed to a feline precision

he has an almost potent CATS (2019) energy and I must simply beg for him to do a Skimbleshanks The Railway Cat Charleston during Movies Week

I want SkimbleGoss. I need SkimbleGoss. I crave SkimbleGoss.

Craig was much more complimentary of the routine which I’m almost certain he did purely because Matt had stopped Anton mid-critique to ask him to tell him what he did well

Motsi was particularly thrown by Craig’s sudden change in disposition and looked to the heavens for further signs of the apocalypse that it was certainly heralding

and then despite the lot of them bickering over Craig’s positivity they all gave him a cleansweep of 5s. Well done lads, lets not waste this much energy ever again.

Craig: 5
Motsi: 5
Shirley: 5
Anton: 5
Score: 20

Ellie Simmonds & A Chaos Gremlin
Cha-Cha-Cha / Dance – DNCE

As is tradition, the Olympic swimmer must be met at a body water like they’re some sort of Selkie, with Ellie not being given the privilege of a heated indoor pool and having to make do with wild swimming, which I’m not entirely sure Nikita appreciated, but my God did I love to watch him doing some top tier Mum Swimming

he spent 35 minutes on his hair, he was not getting bogwater on it! And they were not going to let you forget that Ellie is a 5 times gold Paralympic medal swimmer, setting their first routine at a swimming pool – mostly so that Nikita could go to a luxury spa as a reward for suffering through the humiliation of wearing a scuba suit on national television

which certainly beats being taken to an empty swimming pool to watch a very odd Argentine Tango in the middle of October

I’ll never forget you, Adam Peaty’s Swimming Pool of Sexual Frustrations

and in a complete contrast, Ellie and Nikita were going very Barbie and Ken with their poolside routine

inside of you are two swimming pools

Which will you dip into?

This was just a really fun routine and Ellie was pretty fantastic and I really love what Nikita did with this routine – he’s a great choreographer and really gave Ellie a lot of time to showcase herself and just be sexy

the biggest fear when they cast someone with dwarfism was that they would be infantilised or patronised with their routines and choreography (even with Strictly being a bit of a leader in disability inclusion) and I did feel a jolt of fear the moment they were treated to Stone Cold Sober by Paloma Faith as a backing track during their VT which is usually a death knell for ~quirkiness~ but this was just the sound supervisor being very literal about Nikita making the rookie error of not bringing cocktails to the pool

I would just like to point everyone’s attention to Nikita’s personalised crocs and once you’ve found it in your heart to forgive him for them, I thought the way he catered to Ellie in this routine was very good and he certainly used her dwarfism to their advantage

That is the cleanest a between-the-legs piece of choreography has ever gone between a pro and their celebrity.
I personally thought they ended up being a little undermarked to be honest, which surprised me given the amount of praise the judges heaped on them, but they might have penalised them for Nikita making winking look like Helen Skelton playing the piano

my new favourite genre of image is Ellie Simmonds looking great while Nikita looks like Ed Miliband trying to eat a bacon sandwich

he’s perfect, I hope he never changes.

Craig: 6
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 7
Anton: 6
Score: 26

Tony Adams & Katya Jones
A Midlife Crisis / Go West – Village People

I’m not sure anything in this world could have adequately prepared me for the full scale of horror that a Go West Tango would entail – and revealing that this was their dance on Saturday morning was certainly not enough time for me to emotionally fortify myself for Tony Adams to descend from the ceiling straddling a golden cannon like Major Kong doing an advert for erectile dysfunction

I just hope they didn’t send my favourite Medium Sized Horse to the Medium Sized Glue Factory in order to both pay for the massive cannon and the licensing from Arsenal, although I’m sure they’re getting a kick out of Katya being in a full tango dress turned football kit

which to be fair, looks better than it has any right to – Vicky Gill works some dark magic sometimes.

The tango was very much peripheral to the footballness of it all, with them momentarily forgoing the facade that Tony was trying to dance to have a little junior school PE lesson in the middle of it all

which I am reliably informed is actually a goal celebration – they really misjudged the core audience here. And while it is a little bit annoying, I did love the fact Katya kicked off (heh) the whole routine by puppeteering a football like she was in a production of War Horse

and all the shenanigans did save us from having to witness too much of Tony Adams stalking around the dancefloor like a stork that someone had tried to put through etiquette school

and despite all the talk of arsenal, football and Tony Adams’s career as a footballer, Motsi just kept calling him “a soccer… man” and generally struggling to say anything truly positive except “there was a transformation” – which I think was aimed at all of us because every time I watch this routine I forget 5 months of my life. Shirley did at least tell him that he has good potential for a great ballroom frame which she did owe him after she spent most of the routine in hysterics while Katya died inside

it’s a bit like Dan Walker came back from the future for a second go.

Craig: 3
Motsi: 4
Shirley: 4
Anton: 4
Score: 15

Will Mellor & Nancy Xu
Jive / Livin’ La Vida Loca – Ricky Martin

The last of our three jives this week and the only one that really managed to feel like a jive – not least of all because they got great production value with their outfits and set

the biggest test with starting on a big prop is how you get off it – you can leap from it like Richie Anderson at a soft play centre, strut down it like Molly Rainford dressed as a paperchase notebook OR, distract everyone with an ostrich mating display while your partner just casually descends like he’s been called for tea in the background

I’m assuming Nancy spent so much time putting him through various unfilmable torturous methods of teaching him to kick and flick that she neglected to focus on the art of vamping down a set of stairs. But my God he vamped everywhere else and sold the everloving God out of this routine, which is what you’ve kind of got to do in Week 1

it was a little bit a Case of the Peatys in which I think he had the attitude and personality down so well (and his butt looks good in dance trousers) that the judges were kind of glamoured by the excitement of it all and as fun as it was to have a jive that was actually a jive speed, it was a little bit uncontrolled

I thought that spin was going to end in with the front row of the audience in a 6 person pile-up and I think if you silhouetted the routine, this wouldn’t have scored 9s but might have still pulled 8s and a 7. It probably also helped him that everyone was desperately trying to forget Tony’s Tango and what can I say? Will Mellor politely polishing his arse was enough to banish it completely

I’m not gifing their training footage because he was wearing very thin trousers and I got complaints when I did it to Adam Peaty last time.

Craig: 8
Motsi: 9
Shirley: 8
Anton: 9
Score: 34

Ellie (Taylor’s Version) & Johannes Radebe
Quickstep / I Am What I Am – Klaus Hallen Tanzorchester

The last of last year’s finalists, Johannes, is this year paired with Ellie Taylor which delights me no end, both because I love her and because I went to a pottery event recently and met the potters from Pottery Throwdown and as I was talking to them, someone took a photo of me and I heard them say “That’s Ellie Taylor!” – I look absolutely nothing like Ellie Taylor, I’m just tall, brunette and have arms like a gibbon, but it thrills me that somewhere there’s a person with a photo of a random woman telling everyone they met Ellie Taylor. And I WISH I looked like Ellie Taylor

their whole routine was rather lovely, but a special shout out to their Mrs. Maisel cosplay, which was kindly pointed out to me because they couldn’t directly mention it on the show and I keep forgetting to watch the The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel despite everyone telling me I’d love it. I’m sorry, I’m too busy watching cartoons on Netflix that’ll probably be dropped after 2 series with absolutely no wrap up.

It wasn’t the quickest quickstep that ever quickstepped but Ellie moved well and held her frame very well throughout her little canter around the floor

there were apparently issues with her footwork that didn’t seem glaring to me and Johannes had certainly done a good job of getting her to not prance around he dancefloor like The Medium Sized Horse

but I think Ellie had a harder time controlling her facial expressions because she has the elastically emotive face of an Aardman character and it exemplified itself during the reveal of her scores when she just completely lost her mind over 7s and an 8

she really couldn’t quite believe her scores and the positive critiques

ain’t that a mood.

A Beautiful Flamingo & Jowita Przystal
Foxtrot / Islands In The Stream – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton

First of all, a big congratulations to the production team for showing enough restraint to not have Ranger Hamza doing a Foxtrot while dressed as a fox to a John Lewisified “What Does The Fox Say?”. As a treat, you have my full permission to dress him up as Basil Brush for 100 Years of the BBC Week and make him do a Salsa to Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! by the Vengaboys.

Hamza was ticking off a lot of boxes this week – his routine saw the return of the rowboat (non-origami)

and of course Jowita was welcomed into the fold of the main cast of professional dancers with an obligatory VT involving a projector at an empty community theatre

which would ordinarily send shivers down your spine because the likelihood is that this event is going to result in your male partner (and it is always the men) explaining their love of films to you like a year one film and television undergraduate who just learned what he phrase “mise-en-scene” means

Luba still wakes up screaming in the middle of the night about Jason Bell forcing her to take Buzzfeed quizzes to find out what colour her lightsaber would be.
Hamza however, is a good man and instead treated Jowita to documentaries about penguins which is quite frankly the perfect date night

it’s honestly king behaviour.

Penguins were sadly out of the question when it came to their foxtrot, but perhaps we can revist them for a cha cha cha

it’s a big night for Ainsley on the blog.
Instead, Hamza was focusing on the Greater Flamingo, more because he was very dashingly dressed in pink rather than any evidence that a bird that’s basically nothing more than candyfloss and oddly placed joints would be good at foxtrotting

Hamza however was magnificent at foxtrotting, just so light and elegant on his feet, the little skippy spins he did with Jowita were sublime in their lackadaisical effortlessness

he really is a stunning dancer and when he spins or turns and his hair fans out out behind him, it honestly takes my breath away

it’s one of the most majestically beautiful things I’ve ever seen and I’m so glad he decides to wear it down and naturally – I think that’s very important to both him and a lot of people watching the show.

Motsi: 9
Shirley: 9
Anton: 8
Score: 34

Fleur East & Vito Coppola
Cha Cha Cha / Let’s Get Loud – Jennifer Lopez

Good for Fleur East for holding out for the Strictly offer because I imagine she has increasingly desperate Dancing On Ice invitations shoved under her dressing room door every year and quite honestly, nobody really wants to do Dancing On Ice anymore – it is an exercise in self-flagellation, plus it won’t result in a potential The One Show gig.

She’s also partnered with one of the new pros, Vito Coppola-Chesthair

somebody keep Matt Goss far away from him, I don’t want him persuaded into a full body wax by a few whispered wisdoms.
All the new pros ended up with really strong partners this year and I imagine Vito was pretty thrilled to land Fleur – she has a bit of a performance background, she’s got a great personality and she’s used to being on TV. Her only downside is the wreckless driving

I am simply a girl standing in front of the BBC asking them to stop doing song reveals while the celebrities are driving – “my dance partner started playing ‘Let’s Get Loud’ by Jennifer Lopez” is not covered by insurance.
It was hell of a song to land for their Cha Cha Cha though, almost *too* hell of a song because Fleur became possessed by the spirit of J-Lo and was dancing this cha cha cha like she was Helen Skelton playing the piano

she could have destroyed entire civilisations with the way she stomped and hit the beat. It all felt very popstar to me – if you filmed this routine for a music video and used sharper camera cutting, it would be phenomenal and nobody would really notice that you were dancing like a one woman army against the Spanish Conquistadors.
I do however think it’s better to start off coming across a little too strong – I would rather the judges had to tell someone to maybe have 4 less Red Bulls before hitting the floor rather than Shirley having to hand them a funnel and packet a sugar in the vane hope of coaxing an ounce of energy out of them.

Motsi: 7
Shirley: 7
Anton: 8
Score: 29

And that was that! And here’s our Week 1 Leaderboard which will carry over to next week:

Leaderboard, Week 1:

  1. Romancing A Beautiful Flamingo
    1. An Actual Jive Tempo Jive
  2. A CBBC Sensory Overload
  3. Fleur East Destroys London
  4. The Stealth Advert For The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
  5. Helen Skelton vs A Piano
    • Ellie Simmonds and Her Gremlin Visit The Pool
  6. A Gethin Jones Callout Post
  7. Not Too Sexy Dirrty
    • Richie Anderson’s Lipsync For His Life
  8. Can We Pretend That Airplanes In The Night Sky Are Shooting Stars?
    • A Vinyl Record Throwing Ninja
  9. I am Fifi la Touche and I work for Zee Resistance.
  10. Matt Goss Is Powerless Without His Hat
  11. Very Foot, Much Ball

A really good first week, I’m a big fan of this cast and the pairings are some of the most spot on we’ve ever had, I think everyone is extremely well matched and I thoroughly look forward to seeing how the whole thing unfolds!

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

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