Strictly 2022, BBC 100 Week, Main Show: Street Dance Spaghetti

Any hole is a goal.

Category is: Death By Theme.

We start our Celebration of the BBC Turning 100 Week (Working Title) with a trip across the BBC televisual landscape – starting with Huw Edwards somehow finding enough time between the bi-weekly governmental disasters to play the ukulele for Jowita and Giovanni

my favourite part of it being the fact Naga didn’t quite know what to make of any of this because I imagine she wasn’t actually watching anything and was just told to “react to Huw Edwards playing the ukulele”

as an act of kindness they also incorporated Question of Sport to remind everyone that Question of Sport still exists after The Annexation of Sue Barker, less of a kindness was having the Top Gear men doing Dad Bantz™ and forcing me to watch the most Top Gear I’ve ever watched since accidentally catching the last 5 minutes while I waited for Doctor Who to start.
And if you ever wondered what happened with Anton’s plans to steal the glitterball trophy

Meanwhile Tess and Claudia are behaving like a pair of rogue Sims in the Match of the Day studio

I think? I don’t watch sporting magazine shows unless there’s a minor league football draw happening in which case I am needlessly invested in who The Wetwang Wagtails are going to play for the Piffle Ball Cup.
Then some time on Saturday evening the judges were all bussed over to the University Challenge studio to film a bit where we learn how to say “It’s never too early for a 10 from Shirley!” in google translated Latin and all of them are somehow less formally dressed than your average Oxford team

and Craig had a particularly busy week of it because he also had to pirouette out of the smoke and onto the stage of Live At The Apollo like Satan himself was about to do a stand up set

and everyone had to wonder who the hell he was dancing with because his prestigious line-up of accompanying dancers were Cameron “The Forward Roll” Lombard, Michelle Tsiakkas, Lauren Oakley and Neil “inside of me are two wolves and each is as off putting as the other” Jones

they also visited the MasterChef kitchen to accidentally create a Renaissance painting

and I imagine the pro dancers all had to toss a coin to see who would be the next sacrificial culinary lamb after Katya put fettuccini in a pie

and it wouldn’t be a tour of the BBC output without a trip to the Eastenders set where a very intense Emma Barton does indeed ride again and it only took one (1) human sacrifice

and in the biggest twist of the night, in order to get us seamlessly back to the studio (because all of the transitions between the different sections of this montage were of course seamless) Luba reveals that Kai isn’t the only traveller of time and space as they desperately have to make use of the TARDIS they hired for the evening

and in the studio we’re joined by Tilda Swinton Owain Wynn-Evans on drums as a trap to get him on the 2023 cast

and they brought Pudsey in to play the Grange Hill theme tune because it specifically calls for someone in a lumpy mascot costume to just mash a keyboard for several seconds

and of course the star of the whole production is (for some reason) Duggee from Hey Duggee

Luba is willing to partner him in 2023 – like that episode of Project Runway where the designers had to create clothes for Betty Boop in the year of our Lord 2018


For the big celebratory episode, Claudia continues to give Matt Goss’s white suit new life and Tess was dressed as the Tinman’s femmebot wife

while Shirley was doing a lovely ode to the iceberg lettuce that we’re now governed by

and Motsi was paying homage to one of my favourite fashion moments in recent memory, the dress Cynthia Erivo wore to celebrate the evisceration of some Les Mis themed couple’s choice

remember this, it’s important later!

Helen Skelton & Gorka Marquez
Charleston / Blue Peter

A Blue Peter themed routine of course means a trip down memory lane for Helen, remembering such times as being the first person to cycle across the South pole

her physically and emotionally taxing run across the surface of Tatooine

the incredible moment where she lived out all of Matt Goss’s dreams

the terrifying moment she did tightrope in a full on smokey eye for some reason

and of course that time she faked her own death and moved to Panama

which is all well and good, but has she ever tried having to learn how to quickstep AND act in Waterloo Road in the same week?

Out on the dancefloor and it’s a much more sedate affair with the routine not being themed around another extreme charity challenge, and instead it’s craft time in a pair of outfits that I’m not sure entirely scream “Blue Peter” to me

possibly mostly because Gorka wasn’t dressed as Shep given his previous canine predilections

but I guess making them dance a Charleston in a sensible jumper and a £12,000 collie suit like that Japanese Man with far too much money

would probably have amounted to some form of torture and violated at least three of the laws in the Geneva Conventions. But I do think they could have found a better outfit for Helen than Your 5 Year Old Daughter Who Likes Trucks

but oh the perils of crafting, high off the fumes of scented gel pens and PVA glue, Helen was convinced she had been challenged to do some extreme miming for Children In Need

and while she vamped it up something fierce to camera, Gorka, completely oblivious to his partner’s sudden case of The Deburaus, just went and made friends with bootleg Kirby

before finally realising he better do something about this situation before she traps the entire studio audience in an invisible glass box like a Mr. Mime starting a forced death cult and tethered her to him with one of those child-leashes that always makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable


all of this being entirely essential to the creation of your very own Strictly Judges Nativity scene

from left to right we have Looney Tunes Peter Lorre, RuPaul, Kym Marsh’s stunt double for when she gets too busy and Stephen Mangan. And next week they’re teach you how to make a little baby Bruno Tonioli for the manger through the medium of a Salsa. The props department haven’t had this much fun since they had to create a bespoke two person origami boat

so at least it all paid off with Shirley being so overcome by the whole routine that she had to give Helen’s critique standing up

which you’d think might lead to a 10 in the 5th week of the competition but alas, it was a very respectable 9.
It was a bit of a transformative dance for Helen because she managed to keep the energy throughout – most of it was just a PVA induced hallucination and it’s a little hard to stop smiling when you’ve got industrial strength double sided tape keeping you together like the last surviving model for Tracy Island, but I think her praises were well deserved and I very much enjoyed Gorka running away from the judges like an escape monkey

and having threatened her with no more access to safety scissors, Claudia did manage to keep Helen off of the coffee table this time, and it turns out she’s now the joint record holder with Giovanni for the most Charleston swivels

Giovanni is on the phone with his lawyers


Craig: 8
Motsi: 9
Shirley: 9
Anton: 9

The Doctor & A Weeping Angel
Tango / Doctor Who

Having spun the roulette wheel of Doctor Who monsters and only narrowly avoiding being dressed up as a Dalek, Dianne was instead playing the role of a Weeping Angel – the slightly stone-coloured face makeup mixing with her fake tan leaning a little swampier than one would like

Given that it was palpably obvious that Tyler hasn’t watched a single episode of Doctor Who in his life, he did have to watch the Blink episode and the poor man has not shut both eyes at the same time for 3 whole days and is very suspicious of every garden gnome he sees but as a reward for being a brave boy, Dianne did buy him a new torch

he shone it into everyone’s eyes and had it confiscated by the time Molly was shoving mashed potato in Carlos’s face.

Tyler’s short-lived incumbency as Miscellaneous The Doctor starts in the midst of the most inert game of hide and seek you’ve ever seen

but points for a fairly decent use of CGI for once! It happens once a series, so don’t get used to it – we’ll be back to uncanny farm animals and footwork obscuring dinosaurs before you can say “Two themed weeks in a row, what is this Dancing On Ice?”

The thing with the Weeping Angel is their whole trademark is that you have to look at them to stop them from killing you, and the routine started out very well with Tyler stalking around Dianne like a man pretending to be making an informed decision about the second-hand car he’s buying

but with this being a dance you do have to look your partner in the eyes at some point (someone probably should have told Dan Walker that last year) which did make the theme a little redundant from about 10 seconds in

and that’s fine, I think the strongest routines of the night were the ones that took the bare minimum of whatever BBC novelty they’d been lumbered with, but there was a lot of cool things they probably could have done with the whole “if you look at her she stops moving” aspect of it, Especially because the judges did go on to criticise the routine for not having enough still moments – but it is hard to put still moments in a routine to music that goes pretty hard and doesn’t have lyrics that imply stillness! Although I did like the homage to the fact the moment you look away from a pear, the Weeping Angel of the fruit world, in a fruit bowl they go horribly limp

Shame on me, I shouldn’t make fun of a man’s rapid onset flaccidity.

The whole thing did lack a certain amount of drama, it certainly didn’t reach the heights of melodramatic absurdity as Stacey Dooley and C3POHNO

and so Tyler spinning Dianne and getting immediately back into frame was the only thing that the audience had to get excited about and even then I’m 90% sure it’s because of the lighting

and we could have done with more like that to at least stop them from trying to clap along to a theme tune that you can barely drum your fingers along to! CUT. OFF. THEIR. HANDS. I know it was you Dick and Dom

perhaps they were trying to disguise the fact they were shouting “BOGEYS!” the entire way through it.
But to say it lacked drama entirely is a fib because I did enjoy the peril of Tyler being forced inside a TARDIS in which someone has left a smoke machine running for 90 seconds and emerging coughing and spluttering like he’s been smoking 20 cigarettes a day since he was 6 years old

Strictly Come Dancing, taking out respiratory systems one oesophagus at a time!
The judges found it to be a technically great routine but lacking in some creativity – which might be because Tyler spent a whole day’s worth of training travelling to Mauritius because his brother decided to throw a very inconvenient wedding and Luba was wasting valuable TARDIS time travelling between Albert Square and Elstree – my brothers better know that if I ever have to choose between them and a Doctor Who themed dance, I will be putting on that bowtie and waltzing with a Slitheen.

Craig: 8
Motsi: 8
Shirley: 8
Anton: 8

Half Of ABBA
Jive / Eurovision

So the BBC is still too cowardly to fully commit to a purely Eurovision themed week, but they’re clearly testing the waters with last week’s 2 Eurovision songs and Fleur and Vito getting an explicitly Eurovision themed routine with their Waterloo Jive, and imaginably are keeping Spaceman for a showdance in which they can launch someone off the balcony with the glittery harness – and we know Will Mellor is no stranger to a harness

I can’t believe that episode of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps is sitting there on Iplayer and nobody is doing anything with it!
And even with Fleur’s boundless energy and on demand personal training side gig apparently she was struggling with jive training, being reduced from runaway Latin train to all the mobility capabilities of a Greggs sausage roll

which does probably explain why they had to sit on some well arranged beanbags to watch a Eurovision clipshow like they were having a very cute sleepover

the BBC nixed the part about the sexy pillow fight that Fleur’s husband kept trying to script in – Marcel, just post it on WattPad like Zoe Ball.

And of course because this is Strictly and nothing can ever be subtle, Fleur and Vito were in the best replicas of the Waterloo costumes the department could manage, with Vito’s suit almost certainly being Anton’s Austin Powers suit being given life anew and made as chest baring as possible to at least try and distract you a little bit from his wig

It was also very nice of Helen and Gorka to craft Vito a cardboard guitar! And while Fleur’s Agnetha costume is pretty bloody fantastic (I LIKED IT, THERE I SAID IT) the glittery belt and extreme blowout does somehow take it from Scandinavian pop singer to the most renowned space pirate of the Kuiper Belt. But really, talking about the costumes is somewhat burying the lede when Vito and Shirley are apparently sharing a wig for the evening

and while Vito loved nothing more than swishing his locks for most of the evening prior, the moment this jive started he and that wig were at war with one another

I have never seen a routine danced with such disdain for the costuming since Nancy Dell’Olio fought a feather boa and lost during a waltz all those years ago

and while Vito fought that killer toupee with all of his might

Fleur was busy stamping, pummelling and bludgeoning this jive to death like she had been paid to perform a whack on that dancefloor

it was a little bit of a stampy jive – certainly not the stampiest of the series though – and she was at least managing to do it at a jive speed while staying on time with the music – there were some really cute moments like when she was kicking to the piano notes

and like Shirley and the judges all put a lot of emphasis on, it was much more controlled than when she came out dancing a Cha Cha Cha like she was a one woman army against the entire Royal Navy. But as improved as her control was, I’m not sure it was a particularly clean routine but Vito put as much content as he possibly could into it and I’m not sure quite how well the little swing between the legs bit went because Fleur was pulling this face the entire time she was doing it

but I too would have been fearing for my life if I was doing that knowing my partner was operating at a 70% visual impairment because he’s wearing a polecat masquerading as a wig.
As well as learning never to trust the hair and makeup department ever again, Vito might also want to learn how to manage his Pyro Budget a little better too because opening up with the flaming peacock only seconds into a routine

and ending with what can only be described as the pyrokinetic equivalent of Tyler’s rapid onset flaccidity seemed a little unbalanced

You see, you use the big flames at the end to distract everyone from the fact your dance partner is exhausted and can barely breathe anymore.
But it was a fun, silly routine and the audience went pretty wild for it and Vito and Fleur were going to milk every damn second of the thunderous ABBA induced applaus

meanwhile Dan Walker just looked like he was having flashbacks to his crustacean jive

“Why couldn’t I have been Agnetha?” he cries to the heavens as God whispers back “Because you’re more of a Benny.”

Craig: 7
Motsi: 8
Shirley: 9
Anton: 8

A Pair of Duffs
Foxtrot / A Neutered Eastenders

Of course James had to an Eastenders theme tune, he does of course owe the show a great deal of gratitude for saving him from a life of *checks notes* a scaffolded and shampoo salesman – oh what a couple’s choice routine that’s going to be! But more importantly, a soap opera routine means that Amy can go Full Theatre Kid Mode again as in fair Walford we lay our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean – two figures, both alike in indignity, emerge from thy Queen Vic

they rage

they opine to the heavens about their tragic love

they quarrel

they swing around that unstable lamppost that somehow continues to pass safety inspections despite having a worse postural line than James in 60% of this routine

BUT THEY LOVE (cardboardly)

and their love must stay secret, so they nip round the side and have a quick make out session by the bins – it’s the Strictly way

honestly though, what was this bit? It felt like an eternity but in actual fact only lasted about 4 seconds and I can only assume Amy forgot that half the back floor would be taken up by a medium-sized pub. Or she did and she needed to take camouflage while she gave James a war meeting, and the only way to hide when you’re wearing a dress whose horror can probably only be adequately expressed in some long forgotten Germanic word is to hide behind a whole pub

because I think the biggest issue with their routines is that James is quite obviously being extensively talked through them – Amy has perfected the art of talking through that rictus ballroom grin without moving her lips and could sweep Britain’s Got Talent as a mildly successful ventriloquist if she had a cute enough puppet, James however has not perfected the art of not looking like you’re hanging onto every word of your partner

these aren’t so much dances to him as they are audiobooks with occasional interactive elements like swinging your partner around like you’re a washing machine with a grudge

the emotional fluctuations in this routine were wild, and appropriately soap-operatic I guess but I’m not entirely convinced how much of it was acting and how much James just wanted this routine to die in a spin cycle.
And the judges went IN on them and as Craig gave his pretty thorough takedown of the fact the beginning was an American Smooth and James had the posture of Tyler West suffering from rapid onset flaccidity and everyone waited for him to toss out a scrap of praise

and then only going on to say that “You’ll be able to improve” like he was already in the dance off – and the walls began closing in on James that he had only been kept around for this one singular routine and they’re about to hang him with some god-awful Halloween themed salsa

while Amy didn’t take a single word of it in after being told she’d accidentally choreographed half an American Smooth as the Ironside Siren began to blare in her ears because everything was seeming eerily familiar

Bubbly’s in the fridge Amy.

Craig: 6
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 6
Anton: 7

Karren Brady & A Snake Oil Salesman
Paso Doble / The Apprentice

Sadly we don’t get an extensive slide show of The Apprentice’s most iconic moments – the things I would give to see Nikita doing his reverse pterodactyl impression or Ellie questioning France’s fondness for children are boundless – instead all we got was Ellie and Nikita doing a little Find The Items Task skit in which Nikita looked distinctly like someone I would never trust with a map

and Ellie Simmonds may be a great swimmer but she cannot act her way out of a paper bag so, TO THE BALLROOM WITH HASTE!

where much like Ellie learning throughout the week that a paso doble isn’t all about looking like you’re about to go into one-on-one combat with a viking

Nikita clearly learned that a The Apprentice themed paso isn’t all about being The Apprentice themed and instead they took the minimum of essentials – there was a boardroom table and he looked like an entrepreneur who smelled of £1,200 per litre sandalwood and whose strapline is “wellness instructor”

after the introduction in which two mafia families make a deal through the medium of Rock, Paper, Scissors with Nikita winning as Ellie hasn’t learned he always plays Paper was just paso

it does also of course help that Montagues and Capulets is a great piece of music and translates quite well to doing a lot of traditional paso stuff and with there being so much good quality paso doble in there, we do of course have to address The Illegally Assisted Elephant In The Room

as Craig said, it would have been fine if it hadn’t gone on for so long but Nikita is drawn the drama like a candidate on The Apprentice is drawn to the word “Synergy”. And putting an illegal lift does feel like a distinctly The Apprentice thing to do, it’s the “buying a paper skeleton instead of an anatomically correct medical skeleton” of ballroom discourse

I’LL NEVER FORGET YOU FILIPÉ! (someone please save me from the inane reality TV tidbits that are lodged in my brain like shrapnel)

But the paso of it all was rather great and Nikita spent a considerable amount of the routine on his knees

as Ellie prowled around him like Karren Brady waiting to ask someone what time they’re meant to be delivering a whole van of fish to the restaurant knowing full well they haven’t organised it and that they’re going to have to run from door to door trying to sell handfuls of sardines to the residents of Chelsea

and then they also did this which I’m not saying Karren Brady has ever done with a candidate from The Apprentice because that would be an HR DISASTER

but in a move that Karren has done many a time, the whole thing ended with Ellie ripping Nikita’s heart out and absorbing his youth

it’s why they had to stop doing The Junior Apprentice.

Aside from the paper skeleton of table dismounts, the judges liked the routine and I particularly appreciated Motsi drawing attention to the fact that Nikita has been so good at choreographing routines that can only be danced by Ellie and himself because of the way he’s using Ellie’s height to create more dynamic and interesting choreographic decisions.

Craig: 6
Motsi: 8
Shirley: 8
Anton: 8

The Cursed Children
Couple’s Choice / Grange Hill

With it being a couple’s choice (that I’m truly not sure the couple had much choice in) and Molly’s wikipedia page being a little bit barren because she unfortunately didn’t make like Rhys Stephenson and add a link to her birth announcement on, we were finally getting to know a little bit more about her and her hot dad

but they were in a bit of a pickle – you either acknowledge ITV’s existence and talk about her being on Britain’s Got Talent, or you talk about the fact she went to theatre school and open that whole can of Ringer Worms. Naturally they went for the latter

my dreams of having Lady Leshurr on the show growing ever fainter as her name is written on the Dancing On Ice Blacklist with indelible ink.
I had hoped that with Molly doing a Grange Hill themed routine that we might get a bigger glimpse into the Nova Jones Cinematic Universe, you know, maybe have Carlos dress up as Jonarchy from The Monarchy who I might be a bit gender envious of?

but I also understand that Carlos was a touch busy working out how on earth you choreograph a dance to a piece of music that sounds like you put a duck in a tuba and rolled it down a hill, and it turns out the solution is mostly do a lot of this

which in turn just looks like A LOT of this

they were utterly hamstrung by this piece of music and I thoroughly believe they could successfully sue someone over it, and I am willing to train as a lawyer for the next 7 years if Carlos and Molly are willing to hold a grudge for as long as James Jordan does.
The music isn’t entirely to blame, part of the offputtingness was also the fact two people over the age of 20 were dressed as school kids which never fails to make me feel at least a little bit ick especially when you’re going to do quite as many just about directly up the skirt shots as there were in this routine (not pictured because I have a moral compass)

I still haven’t recovered from the trauma of seeing Blood Brothers on a GCSE art trip where I learned three things:
1. Shoes Upon The Table is an unsung musical masterpiece.
2. I never want to see an adult playing a child ever again.
3. It’s perfectly valid to transition just because you shared a hotel room with 4 horrible boys.

As a few of the judges mentioned, it wasn’t a routine with much light and shade, though I think the biggest strength of it was probably Molly’s characterisation, I found her to be quite fun to watch and I’m sure her time as a CBBC actor really helped with that, but the actual choreography could have used a little more of that and the only bit the audience managed to get particularly enthused about was Carlos doing the sort of thing a teenage does after watching a montage of parkour videos

other than that it was pretty much crickets except for the people in the front row very obviously being forced to clap by Greg the Malevolent Floor Manager who lurks in the shadows and makes sure everyone boos Craig whenever he’s right and mixes up the Smash™ for Carlos to rub all over his face

and Tess wasted no time in running onto that dancefloor armed with towels for him to clean himself before he created a potatoey trip hazard for Hamza and Jowita

The judges weren’t great fans either and I did feel really bad for Carlos because he’s basically spent every interview he’s had talking about how he’s never choreographed anything like this before so he was just throwing street dance spaghetti at the wall and hoping it would stick. It did not stick and now Kym is feeding the spaghetti to Graziano.
But truly I did not feel more sorry for anyone than I did Molly’s dad, sitting in the audience like he’d just seen his entire family killed and needed to seek revenge for their deaths

I hate to see a hot guy like this.

Craig: 6
Motsi: 8
Shirley: 8
Anton: 8

A Couple of Penguin Scientists
Quickstep / BBC Nature Programming At Large

Picture this: the year is 1981, Oti and Graziano are living their best lives while trapped in a Hall & Oates music video

but this wasn’t to last as Graziano had a secret… He’d signed up for a 7 month expedition to study polar bears in the Arctic – Oti was heartbroken

but as much as Graziano loves a polar bear, he’s not a man built for the Arctic – he’s very sensitive to the cold and can barely stand to open the fridge! So he fled back to… honestly I’m still kind of confused as to when or why this Christmas party was happening but he interrupted it to declare his love to Oti

but what of his fellow polar bear scientists? Graziano having stolen their sled and huskies left them stranded, stumbling through the snow and ice

and there wasn’t much time left for our brave duo with the ravenous and apparently multiplying Polar Bear that ruined Danyl Johnson’s performance of Man in the Mirror closing in around them

and the cold was beginning to set in because Graziano also took all of their horrible, horrible protein dense snacks with him

and he’s not talking about his face.
But there’s one last thing they can do! And apparently it’s not to huddle together for warmth like a pair of penguins as Jowita sheds her coat like she’s about to streak across Lord’s Cricket Ground

and so they must quickstep to keep the frostbite at bay like people who believed you could dance tarantula venom out of yourself

and for two people that were about to succumb to hypothermia, it was a pretty fun little routine with only one little stumble where Hamza over balanced, but they could have tried the old Amy Dowden trick that admittedly didn’t even fool TessBot

My only real issue with this routine going in was the choice of music and while I do still think that dancing to Imagine Dragons very much made the whole routine feel like it was trying to sell me an electric car, at the same time I wasn’t really listening to music for a lot of it because Hamza’s hair was doing The Thing

I demand that he gives me a twirl in every routine

but for the first time I did think his hair was about to hinder a routine because as he went to grab Jowita’s hand for the final sprint down the length of the dancefloor, his locs were apparently feeling a little lonely and also grabbed her hands

but she managed to get it free as the two of them stood triumphant in their acceptance of their cold, chilly deaths

and also apparently the complete collapse of the polar bear’s iceberg – GUYS, YOU CANNOT QUICKSTEP IN THE ARCTIC! Look what you did! That’s 2 less gummy looking CGI Polar Bears in the world! How are you going to tell that to Walker, Arktos, Victoria and little baby Brodie down at the Highland Wildlife Park? Cheers, polar bears are crying now. Nice on.

Like a nice sorbet, this frosty quickstep was a very welcome palate cleanser after Carlos’s faceful of mashed potato and the judges were very quick to praise Hamza for his natural dance ability and charmingness while all he wanted to do was go and sit down because he was sweating more than he did when he jived in a boiler suit

sadly all of the towels were preoccupied with trying to get synthetic potato out of Carlos’s pores.

Craig: 8
Motsi: 9
Shirley: 9
Anton: 9

Two Very Bad Doctors
Tango / Casualty

I have been dreading this routine all week as all the horrors of what a Casualty themed tango could entail tore through my mind – tear-away scrubs, a paramedic jumpsuit tango dress, the horrible lighting in a hospital waiting room, syringes… And then it was actually quite good? Much like Ellie and Nikita, they took the theme only as far as it needed to go with their VERY cute opening bit as the Strictly Come Medical School Cinematic Universe expands into A&E

give Johannes a BAFTA for the delivery of “How are we going to save this fake mannequin’s life!?” – and hey, give one to whichever producer made them use a fake mannequin and not have Neil Jones in that bed faking appendicitis – it’s always as much about what isn’t there as is there.
Everything after Ellie and Johannes teaching you how to lose a medical license in under 15 seconds was, like an apple-flavoured can of pop, kind of good tango and inexplicably sexier than a Casualty Tango needed to be

I’m guessing she learned that from her visit to Charles Venn, who she spent most of her time brandishing her neck at like she was daring him to turn her into a vampire

Halloween Week is next week, Ellie.

I did still feel like the whole thing was a little bit awkward, I know the tango is by it’s nature meant to look a bit like two very tall people are dancing together while also trying to look as short as possible and with Ellie being all limb it was a little more noticeable, but I did very much enjoy her Angelina Jolie clock spin

slightly less keen on the bit where it looked a bit like Johannes was teaching her how to walk again after she’d been involved in a zany carousel horse accident

also I cannot believe they didn’t use the opportunity to write J&E during Johannes and Ellie’s dramatic end


In what might have truly been a genius move on Johannes’s part, the judges do spend most of the critique talking about his little acting moment and merely throwing a glancing piece of praise to Ellie’s technical improvements, although Craig thought the actual tango was a bit generic and wanted it to be nothing but Scrubs: The Musical throughout – can you imagine though, instead of the head flicks it’s just Ellie zapping Johannes with a defibrillator?

Craig: 7
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 7
Anton: 8

A Pair of Duelling Victoria Woods
Charleston / The Ballad of Barry & Freda

This week on Jayde Adams’s Strictly Wishlist: A Victoria Wood Routine, specifically the Ballad of Barry and Freda, the Barry in this situation being Brunhilde who you have to call “Barry” in polite company because it’s 1986 as Karen and Jayde’s outfits will very loudly tell you

and much like Kenneth Branagh going through that phase when he thought he had the directorial capacity to direct self-insert Shakespeare adaptations and that current phase where Kenneth Branagh thinks he has the directorial capacity to direct self-insert Agatha Christie adaptations, this was very much a hoisting by one’s own hubris and was conceived only on the basis that Jayde would get to sing a bit of the song as a self-insert Victoria Wood

and then didn’t actually do a great deal of Charleston once she had been torn away from the piano as she spent a good deal of the routine standing in one place bobbing up and down like a Chucky Doll waiting to attack while Karen Charlestoned around her

it was a disappointing routine, which is a shame because I do think a Charleston to this song could have worked and been really funny but this is Strictly and so what we got was kind of a neutered version of what I’m sure was what she would have liked to deliver.
It should have been obvious this was a no go when the instrumental completely drowning out most of the lyrics so the slapstick gags weren’t really landing – except of course for the “BEAT ME ON THE BOTTOM WITH A WOMEN’S WEEKLY!” which the singer was going to make sure you heard from 10 miles away – but even that was a bit of a letdown because they had gone as far as to make a Strictly Weekly prop

the LEAST you could have done with it was beat Karen on the bum with it, but instead all we got was a family-friendly playing of the bongos as Chekhov’s Print Media failed to pay off

Katya and Tony’s cha cha cha had as much beating on the bottom as a Charleston to a song that explicitly calls for beating on the bottom

The judges mostly had to gingerly praise the characterisation of the routine because she really did look like what I think Victoria Wood would look dancing a Charleston but Craig particularly dug into the general… not greatness of the routine, unleashing Pissy Karen in the process and it is quite funny to watch someone seethe in a haircut that has plagued many a person’s junior school photos

But God bless Motsi for trying to soften the blow by calling Jayde the best entertainer and then forcing the audience to cheer like Fleur East forcing the dancefloor to give her its lunch money


Craig: 6
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 7
Anton: 8

AC12’s HR Nightmare
Viennese Waltz / Line of Duty

Having been in two (2) whole episodes of Line of Duty, Will was the natural choice for dealing with the task of having to dance to the theme tune – although I still think Tony Adams could have made an alarmingly good Ted Hastings, but I did enjoy Will having to hover around in the background of a lot of shots looking like a member of the crew had accidentally found themselves in the shot

I might try pitching up to Elstree with a lanyard and seeing if looking authoritative enough gets me anywhere.

Luckily because he had recovered from his illness, we weren’t having to theme it around those episodes where Steve Arnott spent most of his screentime in his apartment drinking screw cap wine which he had weirdly used a corkscrew to open (I’ve never seen a better onscreen metaphor for depression)

No, Sad Boy Will couldn’t come to phone right now, because Bad Cop Will was in session and imaginably grilling Nancy over Nikita’s illegal lift and who put him up to it

and Nancy was having none of it, and I greatly enjoyed her basically screaming “YOU WOT MATE?” in the middle of a damn Viennese Waltz

this was only really a Viennese Waltz in a very loose sense with most of it being spent out of hold, the different between this and Vito and Fleur’s out of hold Viennese Waltz being that this was a theme week so the judges don’t mind when you kind of just twirl around one another like interplanetary dodgems instead of doing as many nausea inducing spins as Graziano forced Kym to do against her will

a lot of it leant quite a bit into the paso doble, mostly because Will is apparently just very into handling Nancy like she’s a cat resisting a trip to the vet

and a good part of that rage may have been because apparently someone had missed a spot of mashed potato on the floor and he did almost fall on his arse

so far the main suspects are Molly’s Hot Dad, driven to the edge by seeing his daughter scoring “only” 30 or Tess Daly for withholding adequate towelling supplies. But Will has a different lead, the call is coming from inside the house!

And she would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for THOSE GROWN ADULTS dressed as meddling kids!

I truly didn’t think anyone could top an ending to a Viennese Waltz when Rose and Giovanni ended theirs by having Rose storm off stage like a drag queen having a sulk in Untucked

but do you know what? Will Mellor giving far too big a thrust as he cuffs Nancy and then vamping to camera like this was going straight onto OnlyFans might have done just that – and Craig seems to agree if his reaction to Tess asking him if he noticed Will’s skid is anything to go by

Maybe they were correct to add a depressive safety buffer to his rumba – I look forward to their Argentine Tango themed around the spiralling cost of living crisis lest we all get too horny for it.

Craig: 8
Motsi: 8
Shirley: 8
Anton: 8

Tony Adams and Katya Jones Doing The Pentathlon
Cha Cha Cha / Grandstand

With only one routine to showcase all of the BBC’s sports coverage, Katya was going to make sure she covered ALL of the BBC’s sports coverage: we had swimming which gives me hope that one day we’ll get a Tango to the Jaws theme tune (C’MON HALLOWEEN WEEK!)

we had golf

we had Katya failing to score a goal and then the football lingering at the bottom of the dancefloor, just waiting to screw up Tony’s New Yorkers which are 50% of the dance moves Tony knows how to do

there was tennis

and I did appreciate that having failed to kick the ball, Katya locked eyes onto that racket like her life depended on it – if she dropped it, that stage hand would have no hands left to stage with

and there was even… rowing? which had to be shown from this angle because if you can’t show Jayde Adams spanking Karen with a Women’s Weekly, you can’t show Tony Adams doing some high octane thrusting without an obstructing Katya

and despite all of that, there was a genuinely surprising amount of Cha Cha Cha in this routine, which is more than I can say for two of the three Cha Cha Chas that appeared in Movie Week and Katya certainly never had him stand in the middle of the dancefloor while she did a peripheral cha cha cha around him… Amy.

I didn’t say it was *good* cha cha cha, but it at least existed and was recognisable as such even if it was happening to a time and rhythm that left Shirley looking like she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown

Craig said it reminded him of the staircase scene in Death Becomes Her but I was reminded of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (not the dead body in a trunk part… although) but rather the scene in which James Stewart is interrogating Farley Granger while he plays a piece on the piano that is wildly contradictory to the rhythm of the metronome – and that’s exactly how Tony dances and it makes me very anxious. But God if I don’t love him for shouting “SHIRLEY, GO HOME!” when she scored him a 6

and that’s why you got turned into a bat Tony

good luck doing a box step now!

Craig: 3
Motsi: 6
Shirley: 4
Anton: 6

Kym Marsh & Graziano Di Prima
Quickstep / Come Dancing

And seeing us out in a blaze of slightly disappointing METAness are Kym and Graziano with their Come Dancing themed Quickstep which is basically just a dance themed dance, to Ballroom Blitz because it has the word Ballroom in the title? And I did really love the vintage trappings of the whole routine – I thought Kym’s full on 80s fantasy dress was pretty damn glorious

I don’t think they should have allowed Helen and Gorka to construct her headpiece out of bottlecaps and bendy straws though

and of course, they had allowed Angela Rippon out of the cupboard to introduce the routine as a nod to her glory days as the hostess of Come Dancing, but someone could have told her about the mustard stain on her jacket

she was just thrilled that she doesn’t have to talk to another person that’s been scammed by a Nigerian Prince though – and if you’re wondering who’s smuggling snacks into the studio, it’s Judi Love who apparently has a whole coffee machine under her chair

And as much as I liked the cute retro feel and Kym hamming it up as a ballroom diva

and I LOVE Ballroom Blitz for a quickstep – I don’t feel like the two went together, Ballroom Blitz is a fantastic bit of grimy glam rock and it would be my first choice for a Halloween Week quickstep – I would insist on being dressed up as the ghost of one of the Romanovs (not in this political climate you won’t) whereas I thought Kym and Graziano looked like they were dressed for Walking On Sunshine and I think that might have been more Kym’s speed because this was a quick quickstep and it did feel like Graziano was dragging her through it right from the beginning

and for the dance that was meant to be a triumphant closer to the evening and pay homage to the origins of Strictly, it kind of didn’t manage to capture the necessary excitement and energy, although I did enjoy the Quickstep Barbie portion of events

but it was also probably a mistake to remind Shirley of her mortality as she remembered she was 17 when she appeared on the show and Kym had loudly declared Come Dancing “incredible if you think how long ago this was” in her pre-dance VT

It’s never too early for a passive aggressive 6 from Shirley.

Craig: 7
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 6
Anton: 7

And that’s it! Over to our leaderboard

1st Craft Services35
Lost And Afraid In The Arctic35
3rdDoctor Whomst?32
Bad Cop, Badder Cop32
6thBoardroom Blitz30
Schools Out For Good30
8thBootleg Medical School29
9thA Victoria Wood Deathmatch28
10thThe Ancient History of Come Dancing27
11thMad Amy 2: Eastenders Boogaloo26
12thAll Sport And No Play Makes Tony A Dull Boy19

And I’ll see you for the results recap!

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

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