Strictly 2022, It Takes Two, Week 4: Claudia Winkleman’s Grinch

Are you there, God? It’s me, Rylan.

Well done to everyone for getting through an entire week of talking the BBC’s Centenary without singing happy birthday – Celebrity MasterChef wasn’t as lucky.

MONDAY: Ethically Sourced Granola

Matt & Nadiya
Oh boy did my heart sink the moment they cut to the wide shot of the studio and it was just Nadiya sitting on that sofa, but given Matt’s reactions to some of the scores I wouldn’t have been entirely surprised if he’d pulled a Danny John-Jules, but apparently he’s just “filming with the Philharmonic Orchestra” which is why he was Skyping in from what looks like a nightclub that is almost certainly just a money laundering front

the suit and low resolution really give him a touch of the 80s game show host.
There’s no bothering with a best bits reel because a slow zoom in ON a singular Nadiya would probably have noT been fun so instead Matt sort of just describes his own highlights reel, which is mostly waxing lyrical about the incredibly earnest and sincere Top Gun Viennese Waltz, may nobody ever ruin it for him.

Hamza & Jowita
As it turns out, the key to Hamza’s humbleness and good naturedness is the fact he doesn’t look at Twitter and instead just has Jowita read nice tweets to him while he eats his ethically sourced granola like a scene from Downton Abbey – although I’m not sure there’s a single mean tweet about Hamza out there, he’s impervious to snark.
It’ll be hard for him (or anyone, really) to top that salsa but this week they do have a Quickstep which will obviously be themed around the BBC’s Nature Programming and with all the classical music and jaunty little theme tunes at their disposal they’ve chosen… On Top of The World by Imagine Dragons so there’s no way the whole dance isn’t going to feel like an advert for the latest model of electric car. The Springwatch theme tune was RIGHT THERE! And you could have dressed them up as puffins and everything!

Jornanne’s Chornography Corner

We’re all going birdwatching with Hamza after this.

Fleur & Vito

So clearly the show is unhappy with the lack of fanfic being written about this year’s cast, not that they have to worry for much longer because apparently Fleur’s husband is knee deep in his own Fleur x Vito fanfic having pushed for the sexiness of their Argentine Tango to be cranked up over the week. We’ll see if he’s managed to convince them to keep going for their *checks notes* Jive to Waterloo. I know Waterloo won Eurovision Brighton 1974 and I shouldn’t wish absurd themes upon anyone but I was hoping 100 Years of the BBC would be a little more niche and specific – Waterloo could be used in any week, now’s your chance to launch someone out onto that dancefloor and make them samba to the Buttery Biscuit Base remix! Dave Arch would have had a ball!

TUESDAY: The Bearded Tit Incident

Tyler & Dianne
Very excitingly, we’re getting a revisiting of one of the most cursed dances of all time, because Cyberman Kevin Clifton very much still haunts my dreams

everytime I think about him, the fillings in my teeth hurt.
I’m curious to know how they’ll dress because the obvious tie in here is that Ncuti Gatwa will be the first Black man to play the Doctor but a far as I’m aware, there hasn’t been an outfit reveal so what I’m saying is PUT HIM IN THE CHEST WINDOW OUTFIT FROM THE BAFTAS YOU COWARDS

and we know Dianne is up for looking as cursed as possible

but the question is which terrifying and makeup heavy Doctor Who monster will she be: a repeated Cyberman? Madame Vastra? Horribly Humanoid Dalek? James Corden?
But they’re tentative about their likelihood of more 10s because Tyler is having to jet off to Mauritius for his brother’s wedding, it’s not like he survived a Jive, a Marathon and a Charleston triple billing or anything. But in order to keep their spirits up they got a video message from Christopher Eccleston looking like a nervous pigeon that got stuck in the Underground and hasn’t seen daylight for 4 months

he has demanded a funky tango and it would be a shame to disappoint him.

Clifton’s Choreofton’s Corfton

The birdwatching didn’t go well. Rylan doesn’t want to talk about the Bearded Tit Incident right now.

Helen & Gorka
Apparently these two have gone full method with their Blue Peter Charleston and decided to show up as Janet Ellis and Mark Curry for the evening

no news yet as to how much of their Charleston involves the recreation of the Lulu the Elephant incident but there are apparently a lot of tricks and we know the graphics department has a gummy looking elephant pre-rendered

but as much as they’ve been focusing on Charlestoning, Helen has been giving Gorka a crash test in sticky back plastic and safety scissors – he’s made 7 homemade birdfeeders this week and Helen may or may not have done some Charleston training – the conversation leaned more into discussing her wingwalking than training talk.

Tony & Katya
A fairly closely guarded interview which didn’t really reveal anything about their Grandstand Cha Cha Cha which makes me worry that Katya has something dastardly up her sleeves – the fact she was dressed like an occultist who trades in souls not doing much to help the feeling

but she has given Tony strict instructions to not listen to his inner thoughts and instead focus only on the soothing sound of her voice and swinging pendulum in front of his eyes

I for one can’t wait for the No Thoughts, Head Empty Cha Cha Cha.

WEDNESDAY: Hat Wearing Supreme

Molly & Carlos
As one hat wearing supreme fades, another must rise

Molly herself is of course no stranger to a statement hat

No I’m not going to explain this one – you go and watch all of Nova Jones in a single afternoon yourself.

Excitingly for Molly, Janette came into this interview with a whole maths class worth of stats, which did actually seem to be true for once, as Molly has the highest total score of the series having scored at least 31 or higher so far meaning she’s on just about the exact same trajectory as Alesha Dixon

also shocking to remember that they made some of the couples dance rumbas for their first dances in 2007, can you imagine that now? Shirley would devour the lot of them. All this talk of Alesha did mean that Molly finally got to mention that it was Britain’s Got Talent that started off her career, it only took 4 weeks.
And with a Street / Commercial couple’s choice up their sleeves this week I doubt their scores are about to slow down any time soon as Shirley’s bound to throw a 10 at them, she needs 36 to keep on that Alesha Dixon creep though.

Janette Manrara Struggling To Interview Anton DuBeke For 10 Minutes:
Having shed enough couples, they are now beginning to have to pad out the show with some extra gubbins, this week’s Extra Gubbins being Anton DuBeke in an interview that, much like Gorka’s homemade paper mache fruit bowl, felt like it was only being held together by duct tape and PVA glue with Anton immediately kicking off the whole thing by talking about how disappointed in the series he was until Hamza flipped Jowita around like he was going for a Pancake Day record, which he has not stopped thinking about

and then went on to roast the group numbers on the launch shows as “everyone just muddling about” which to be fair isn’t wrong and it was brave of someone on the show to finally admit it.
Braver still was Janette trusting Anton to play a game with her using the touch screen in which he had to sort everyone into 4 categories – suddenly realising he had left Tyler until last and throwing him into the Ballroom Star despite having danced one middlingly successful ballroom routine

and he’s very eager to push Kym as a Latin Sensation while constantly bellowing about how good her Samba was…

maybe don’t rave about how you gave it a 9?

Pro Dance: Captain Planet, He’s Our Hero!
If you’re wondering why Hamza wasn’t given the Planet Earth theme tune, it’s because Jason Gilkison stole it for this week’s pro-routine which is about protecting the planet with various pros embodying the different elements: Dianne being fire because she’s a redhead

Nadiya is air because she’s blonde, ethereal and if anyone has an X-men style villain arc and tries to telekinetically destroy London, it’s probably her

and Johannes is Earth because he’s… grounded and one with the animals *side eyes Jason Gilkison*

we don’t find out who will be playing water but I hope it’s Luba and I hope she’s painted blue, Blueba if you will. Then of course Vito is playing the super secret 5th element: Live, Laugh, Love

every friendship group needs a Ma-Ti.
(and Nancy may or may not have a tail in the routine)

Jayde & Karen
Fresh from their trip to the Wild West in which Jayde became the sheriff of a small saloon town and Karen ran the best little whorehouse in texas

they’re here to discuss their Victoria Wood Charleston and everyone is still beating around bush as to whether anyone is going to be beaten on the bottom with a Women’s Weekly but Karen does promise she’ll be upside down for most of the routine so… the odds are looking good?

THURSDAY: Librarian of the Emerald City

Ellie & Nikita
Oh how quickly this interview went down hill with Nikita turning up looking very dapper in a pink velour suit and bowtie that I’m almost certain must have meant they were filming a pre-show VT that evening

and if you’re wondering where the matching trousers are, Jowita wore them on Monday

and then very promptly everything dissolved into absolute chaos as Janette made Nikita put the cheek retractor back in, which I’ll be honest, he did a little too quickly and easily and then Ellie had to guess what Strictly-relate words and phrases he was trying to say

with most of the game being Ellie shouting “CLAUDIA WINKLEMAN’S GRINCH!” at him – clearly there’s quite a lot backstage goings on we never get to see.
With the production team having finished barely disguising their fetishes, Ellie and Nikita reveal they’re doing a paso doble themed around The Apprentice so if Pants Man doesn’t make an appearance I’m going to be very disappointed

or at the very least have Nikita do a reverse pterodactyl impression! And because so much of the time was taken up with putting foreign objects in Nikita’s mouth, Ellie doesn’t get to practice her paso face down the barrel of the camera but I’m expecting something a little like this

and Nikita better be playing the part of the candidate whose business plan it turns out was just a few unicorn stickers and inspiration quotes he put in a binder.

Will & Nancy
They were very much on the rumba defensive with Will falling just short of declaring war on the judges – the only thing keeping him from challenging Craig to a joust in the carpark being Nancy’s threat of 6 more hours in the cage. But with the Phlegmiest Rumba behind them, it’s onto a Line of Duty Viennese Waltz with a very encouraging video message from everyone’s favourite star of 2 episodes of a 36 episode series, Danny Mays who was at least at home and not on an escalator in the underground

Will seemed genuinely pleased while Nancy just smiled and nodded desperately wishing they’d given her the damn Call The Midwife theme instead.

Frock Handles?
Starting off with an incredible display of word salad, Vicky Gill introduces us to a “Kat Slater vibes foxtrot gown” in leopard print and whatever clashing fabrics she could get ahold of

do we think Amy has the aplomb to pull off something that looks like an Eastenders hellcat aboard the Titanic would wear though?
The mannequin reveals are that Jowita might actually be dressed as an ostrich for her’s and Hamza’s quickstep

they’re certainly quick?
And then Ellie comes face to face with her dress, which I think is lovely and I would happily wear every day because who doesn’t want to look like the Librarian of the Emerald City

but you know… Librarian of the Emerald City hardly conjures up images of a paso doble.

Ellie & Johannes
The likelihood of there being tear away scrubs in their Casualty Tango looks increasingly likely as we’re promised it all takes place in the emergency room with a patient who they abandon to bleed out while they dance out their emotions like a less well received musical episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Why can’t Ellie Taylor have nice things? She looked so good in weeks 1 and 2 and now suddenly Vicky has the key to her occupational dressing up box.
In order to get Ellie into the right frame of mind for her Casualty Tango they seanced in a message from Duffy from the heavenly beyond

and in that moment Ellie kind of regretted that she was about to play a medical tango like Joey Tribbiani plays Dr. Ramoray.

FRIDAY: High Octane Thrusting

Kym & Graziano
In what has to be a new record for these two, Graziano managed to get the first “she’s a very busy woman” into the conversation in under 30 seconds – they usually allow for 1 minute of patter before swinging that in there – but it’s also pretty clear that Graziano has taken being in the bottom 2 very personally, falling just short of threatening the entire voting audience with bloody murder and instead going on several extensive inspirational speeches to Kym that really just sounded like the most furious marriage proposals you’ve ever heard. But they’ve got a routine that should be pretty crowd pleasing this weekend with a quickstep to glam rock banger Ballroom Blitz as an homage to Come Dancing – and it looks like she’s going to have a pretty incredible dress if her training skirt is anything to go by

and there shouldn’t be a single medium-sized private jet in sight!

James & Amy
Sadly James wasn’t able make off with the very dashing suit he wore last weekend because Vicky had to get it back to Patrick Grant by sunrise on Sunday morning and he takes £10 out of the deposit for every crease.
Naturally James had to do a routine to the Eastenders theme tune but he and Amy have promised us a twist in the music which surely means the whole thing ends with Amy screaming “BUBBLY’S IN THE FRIDGE?” while tearing James and the entire studio to shreds

I mean it’s about time they let out all that rage that’s quite clearly simmering beneath the surface – she has a lot of post-Les Mis contempowaft feelings to work through

what truly awful theme do we think will scupper Amy this year? I’m guessing Halloween Samba with James dressed as Charlie Brown and Amy as the Great Pumpkin but ~sexy~.

The Friday Panel:
This week’s Friday Panel were Sara Davies wearing enough leopard print for Vicky Gill to make a Kat Slater vibes Foxtrot Gown out of

Owain Wynn-Evans cautiously toeing the line of potential casting for 2023 and of course dressed like a table at a car boot sale that you can’t afford anything from

and last but not least, Angela Rippon who was mostly there to have Rylan and gang fawn of her

I did howl when she’s called Tyler and Dianne’s routine from last weekend “their amazing choice” and much like Shirley I do imagine she spent a while using Bing to try to find out more about that Megamix In The Garage and is hoping for a weekend of maximum chaos by choosing Will and Nancy for elimination

and scandalising the whole room in the process

on the topic of Will and Nancy, Sara basically called everyone out for making Will dance a rumba when the warning on the bottle of cough syrup Nancy poured down his throat beforehand almost explicitly says “do not operate heavy machinery or dance a bloody rumba for at least 2 hours after taking.” before deciding that Ellie and Johannes were about to have their medical licenses revoked

and as loathe as I am to agree, I think she may well be right, while Owain continues to the be the obligatory person pumping for Tony Adams’s downfall

Honey, their cha cha cha has at least 10 seconds of high octane thrusting in it, he ain’t going anywhere.

This does feel like a week that could really be anyone – there’s very little Latin on the menu and the only real Death By Theme I can sense is from Ellie and Johannes’s routine and you know the papers are plugging for them to be eliminated because the Casualty On The Dancefloor headlines are basically writing themselves, but I am also worried about that boardroom paso doble.

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