Strictly 2022, Blackpool Week, Main Show: Platonic Woman-shaped Friend

This is fine.

Welcome to the Cameron Lombard Blackpool Showcase!

They’re baaaaaaaaaaaaaack

and for their triumphant return to The Home Of Ballroom, the wardrobe department were being pushed to their limits, because not only were they having to dress everyone up like a box of Quality Streets (nothing surprises me less than Neil Jones being the Toffee Penny)

for some unknown reason they’d also decided they were going to do some outdoor dancing in the middle of November IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, so of course Vicky Gill and Gang had to frantically find a company that sold Strictly appropriate raincoats in bulk – thankfully they did and everyone wasn’t having to dance around in Spongebob-branded ponchos from Nickelodeon Land

Johannes was of course fully prepared in the event that the raincoats didn’t arrive

one day Johannes’s dance wardrobe will adequately reflect the Hollywood recluse of his civilian clothing.

And so, fully prepared for any weather event, everyone was ready to paint Blackpool red

it is very important to be aware of you Biopollution Levels and raise awareness for the Bloomington Public Library in Illinois – books are important, both for reading and jive training

of course the destination was The Tower Ballroom – sadly they made the decision not to arrive by The Porn Train despite there being a perfectly good Porn Train on hand (it’s behind Michelle and Katya)

sadly they wasted the Blackpool Attractions budget on Graziano getting to meet either Kym Marsh’s or Kate Middleton’s waxwork figure, depending on how long and hard you look at it

and she doubles as the bouncer for the lift apparently because apparently it needs it

NO HEAVY PETTING IN THE ELEVATOR! Save it for the train.

the elevator obviously being responsible for bringing everyone up to the Ballroom, but truly nobody made an entrance like Shirley Ballas cannonballing out of the elevator in a baroque blaze of gold lamé

that’s two years of pent up Blackpool right there.
But my favourite part of the routine had to be the birth of my new favourite Strictly Power Couple, Nikita “The Big Purple One” Kuzmin and Motsi Mabuse

if Anton and Giovanni can have a travelogue, so can Nikita and Motsi – I don’t care where they go or what they do, I just need more of the perfect dyad of chaos.
My other favourite part of the routine was Nadiya being lifted aloft like the Blackpool Tower itself and then the show IMMEDIATELY cutting to a shot of the tower going up in fireworks

I know you’re excited about being back in Blackpool guys, but cool it on the orgasmic imagery, look what you’ve done – you’ve made Nadiya a beacon of horniness – buy her 2023 calendar now, available on the Instagram Marketplace!

Tess and Claudia sadly did not take paRt in the opening number, with Claudia shuffling on later dressed as my raised eyebrow when the distinctly Blackpool judging starts and Tess as the social media content green screen

wait a minute… that gives me an idea…

MY BOY! My beautiful, medium-sized boy!

Hamza Yassin & Jowita Przystal
American Smooth / New York, New York – Frank Sinatra

With the emphasis of the return to Blackpool being on the prestige of the Tower Ballroom and the donkey rides not getting a single mention at all during It Takes Two, of course they had to start with the classic Feather and Tails American Smooth

Much Art, Very Deco – which of course Anton lavished praised upon as “the routine I would have loved to do” which he might got to have done more of but he instead made doing things like this his Strictly schtick

you cannot opine for the frothy ballroom number when you should be in jail for making a mockery of Latin dancing

Oh. You’ve done that already, Mr. Beak.

Being a Foxtrot-style American Smooth, it did of course have a lot of the elements that made us fall in love with Hamza in the first week – including his light little skipping

and as much as I will never tire of him tossing Jowita around like a flyweight caber, I think that’s my favourite step Hamza does and I’ll be fine if his inevitable show dance is just 90 seconds of him doing that, and I’m sure Jowita can find a way of sneaking it into his Viennese Waltz come the time.
I do think Hamza could have gone a little bigger and put more strength into some of the accent work, you want to feel like his arms are responsible for doing the big beats, but Hamza was a little tentative and looked more like he was trying not to scare a baby deer

I know Jowita looks a bit like she might be startled by any sudden movements and gracefully hightail it into the nearest forest never to be seen again, but I assure you, she can take it – she did after all do THIS on what was her almost unintentional audition for a place on the Strictly pro roster

couldn’t have tried that in this routine, huh Jowita? You had the extra dancers – I’m sure Hamza could have managed both you and Lauren – I’ve seen him lugging around a Red Dragon Camera before and you two are probably half its weight and cost less in insurance!

It was a great show opener, made even better by the fact the camera team hadn’t managed to break into Shirley’s Blackpool Liquor Cabinet yet, so there weren’t any sudden crash zooms and weird angles that made it feel like you were watching the whole routine while in the middle of a car crash – lucky for some. And with it being Jowita’s first time on the Blackpool dancefloor and getting two 10s, she looked fit to burst after their scoring

I’m glad she’s getting nice things – she and Nancy are going to have to wrestle for the new Queen of Pros title.

Motsi: 9
Shirley: 10
Anton: 10

A Sam Ryder Interval

The Nation’s Emotional Support Labrador deserves to be acknowledged for his services to increasing everyone’s serotonin levels – and if he isn’t on the 2023 cast list, I will be writing a strongly worded letter to whoever didn’t try hard enough to get him to sign his name on the dotted line. And while I’m making wishes, partner him with Nikita – it’ll be like watching two golden retrievers having the time of their lives.

Molly Rainford & Carlos Gu
Jive / Bandstand Boogie – Barry Manilow

With Carlos having competed in Blackpool 12 times before and practically yawning his way through every mention of its prestige, they had no choice but to punish him by putting him on the Star Flyer with Definitely Molly And Absolutely Not A Lowly PA In Incognito Mode in the most miserable weather imaginable

which seemed to work as he desperately screamed to be put down, he’ll stop yawning! He’ll do the damned Jive if he has to! And he was certainly going to be putting the spring floor to good use for my least favourite dance move, The Flying Blowjob

how’s this for age appropriate storytelling, Shirley?
Carlos was certainly going big on the attention grabbing choreography moments, like Molly being flipped like a trick wall in Scooby Doo

it’s a Blackpool favourite

but he needed to because Lauren and Michelle were vamping it up as the supposedly-background majorettes

Michelle has never met a camera she won’t look directly into and cock a saucy eyebrow at, and it seemed the camera operators agreed if this shot that perfectly frames and tracks Michelle while completely cutting Molly out is anything to go by

this was the start of the camera team’s descent into madness – with the rumour being that they had forgotten how springy the floor was and needed to reorganise the camera plans pretty last minute and it’s definitely nothing to do with the routines that had sloppy camerawork being for couples that the show is less invested in – why would you suggest such a thing? The rapid zoom out of the middle of the empty floor really added to Molly’s Big Band Jive

and of course a Big Band Jive to Bandstand Boogie would never be complete without a Big Band Bandstand Boogie Bandstand

which despite being a favoured set piece on Strictly, they seem to build a new one every time – do they sacrificially burn them after every routine? There’s at least 2 series of Changing Rooms worth of MDF involved in that thing, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen could have made so many obscenely intrusive shelving units out of it!

The judges were a little lukewarm on the routine – she did cope well with a lot of very quick, scattershot choreography and covered the ballroom as much as a quickstep would but I think outside of the intoxicating fumes of the Blackpool Ballroom, I don’t think this would have scored 9s because as good as the big “wow moments” were, the more standard, box-ticking jive elements didn’t seem quite polished enough.

Motsi: 9
Shirley: 9
Anton: 9

Kym Marsh & Graziano Di Prima
Paso Doble / A Rihanna Megamix

We did it Joe! We finally got Graziano to Blackpool with a partner – which to be air, he’s only had one other shot given that they never went to Blackpool last year – and the quicker his partnership with Vick Hope is jettisoned into obscurity the better, which he seems to be trying to erase himself by just how pointedly he keeps calling Kym ihs best friend – clearly last year’s WattPadd shipping free-for-all scared everyone, it’s friend zones all around.

As it was Graziano’s first time in Blackpool WITH A VERY PLATONIC WOMAN-SHAPED FRIEND, he had to experience all of the Blackpool novelties, including the arcades where they frittered away Helen’s Kids’ two pence pieces

meeting the stunt double Kym Marsh uses to host The One Show 2: This Morning Boogaloo when her days are too busy

and… fish and chips as served by Molly’s Madame Tussaud’s Stunt Double

I mean, after being served a Carbonara with mushrooms and ham in it earlier in the week, I understand the Italian scepticism of Kym Marsh putting any food in front of him, but it clearly says Fish and Chips on the box – does he know you can get fish and chips outside of coastal towns? Or is he some sort of aristocratic Italian vampire that never actually eats?

which does maybe explain why Kym was flapping around the training room like she might turn into a bat at any moment

Count Di Prima, confirmed.

The Blackpool Experience™ and battered cod weren’t the only firsts for Graziano, because this was also his first Paso Doble, which is a shame because he is on record as saying it’s his favourite dance so I wish they had given him a real proper, meaty traditional paso to sink his teeth into and not… a Rihanna megamix that doesn’t even have Disturbia or S&M in there, which are the only vaguely Paso Rihanna songs I can think of. It has the same energy as Nadiya saying that the Charleston is her favourite dance and then being doomed to very rarely dance them because they keep partnering her with awkward men that are more limb than man.
As you can probably tell, I did not like this routine and I think they were up against some tough material – I don’t know how you’re meant to infuse it with that “Spanish feeling” when you’re dancing to Radio 1 in 2010 which gave it vibe that it might become The Macarena at any given moment

bit of a concern that your Paso looks so much like your samba

I just know she could have done this better with music that gave her more atmosphere – we saw how much she thrived with that Argentine Tango, imagine the camp glory of her dramatic crotch reveal to the blaring parp of an operatic trumpet and not… Rihanna singing “treat me like a hot ride”

But truly the star of the show was Cameron, who was going to take every moment he possibly could to make sure you remembered him

My second favourite medium-sized boy was paso-facing for his goddamn life – and he may not have done a forward roll, but I did enjoy his little jump off of the staircase

there’s no end to his death-defying playground stunts! Truly he was the hardest working person this evening and I hope that means he’s going to get an opportunity to be on the main billing next year – but who’s gonna step down? Giovanni to pursue his desire to apparently crash himself upon the rocks of Being The Anton?

either way, the backing dancers kind of made this routine – with Craig praising how smoothly she went from man to man (make your own joke about her Wikipedia personal life section here)

I still think it was too conservative though – where was our Big Slutty Avant Garde Blackpool Paso?

(Neil enjoyed that far too much)

it’s a genre, RESPECT IT!

Motsi: 8
Shirley: 8
Anton: 9

Tyler West & Dianne Buswell Aboard The Porn Train
American Smooth / A KC & The Sunshine Band Megamix

Tyler was SUPER excited for Blackpool and defnitely hadn’t heard of the Tower Ballroom like 5 minutes ago, no it’s been his dream to perform a disco salsa in there to KC & The Sunshine Band’s best hits for at least 2 weeks now. But as is want to happen, one must suffer for their art

apparently being forced to ride The Big Dipper in the mid-November rain was punishment for dropping Dianne too many times in training, which I’m not sure is *entirely* the case… ROLL THE TAPE

I HAVE RECEIPTS, BUSWELL! There’ll be an HR complaint about this, and to make up for it you have to take Tyler to the Blackpool Illuminations and listen to him explain the history of LED lights to you.

With that taken care of, it’s all aboard The Porn Train!

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of The Porn Train, a phrase coined over on Monkseal’s recaps, in 2013 the launch show used a steam train for their big opening number which as it turned out had been used in a porn film, which certain newspapers found SCANDALOUS (this is actually more common in film and TV than you think)

and for weeks afterwards Helen George couldn’t stop thinking about the suspicious stain she’d had to sit next to.

We’ve had many a Disco Salsa over the years on Strictly, for better or worse…

but Tyler’s might be the Discoiest of them all – the only thing missing was Tess riding in on a white horse like she was Bianca Jagger celebrating her birthday at Studio 54

I thought for sure I’d see my boy again this week, yet the only medium-sized white beast I saw all week was Tyler’s arse

was this framing intentional? Or was the camera operating donkey 3 gins to the wind? It’s hard to tell, either way – I appreciate the rampant horniness, as did Motsi who declared “I’m going to get on that ride!” during her critique, only 5 seconds later realising what she had said


I do think the trousers could have been tighter – I mean, Matt Goss could barely feel anything below the knees

but it might have made the absolutely bonkers lifts that were 90% just uncompromising positions to be caught in a little harder to execute – and they were already hard enough with Dianne being dressed as a Disco Wookie and shredding Tyler to ribbons like a snakey cheese grater

I don’t think Dianne has ever had a partner she could do this with – I wouldn’t trust Richard Coles to lift my shopping bags, Joe Sugg has the upper body strength of a broom, Dev was too slippery with body paint most of the time, Max George was… head empty and she was simply dancing with the incorporeality of the universe in 2021 – so it’s no wonder she wanted to go balls to the wall for this salsa, which they got a lot of praise for – although Craig thought Tyler’s gyration was too boxy, which he proceeded to be pissy about the entire evening – clearly upset about not having been treated to the close-up of Tyler’s butt.

Motsi: 9
Shirley: 9
Anton: 9

Ellie Taylor & Johannes Radebe
American Smooth / You’re My World – Cilla

Having been given the Friendship reprieve last week, Ellie and Johannes were once again coming up against the concept of romance and Johannes was really trying to get into the mood

yeah, I think I found the problem with the rumba.

Luckily they weren’t having to go quite as intense as their Rumba required them to – they’re not Will Mellor, this American Smooth shall not fuck – and instead they were going for something much more waltz-like and Ellie’s just supremely lucky they didn’t dress her up as Cilla

I’m also so used to every drag queen on Drag Race UK worth their weight in salt opening up a walk-in wardrobe of comedy denchers, shoving a pair into their gobs and spluttering their way through a bulletpoint list of Cilla quotes so the fact that whoever was singing You’re My World wasn’t doing exactly the same really threw me for a loop.

Waltzy American Smooths are never really my favourite American Smooths but they had to do a Cilla nod for Blackpool and I guess You’re My World is her best loved song because it doesn’t sound like it’s being sung by a goose with strep throat choking on a piece of bread, so Waltzy American Smooth it was! Like with many of Ellie’s dances, I feel like her out-of-dance characterisation was the strength of her routine (shade rattle) but I really liked the transition from her coy walk to the quicker section

I was less of a fan of the transition from said quicker section to intense close-up of Ellie’s armpit

a whole week of emphasising how much bigger the Blackpool Ballroom floor is and the cameraperson still couldn’t find enough room to back up into, and whichever donkey in a trench coat was on Camera 3 for Molly’s Jive had returned, treating us to the first American Smooth in Hyperspace

I guess it made the routine a little more exciting? As did watching Ellie fumble with the belt for her ascension into the Blackpool Illuminations

I know that panic, I’ve been trapped in a dress in a Marks & Spencer changing room before – WHY WOULD YOU SELL A LACE BODYCON DRESS WITHOUT A LINING, MARKS? WHY? WHY DID I PUT ON A LACE BODYCON DRESS WITHOUT A LINING?
Luckily Ellie did manage to successfully buckle herself in and a whole 15 seconds of her routine was dedicated to her being a heavenly cockatiel

I do feel like they could have made the belt blend in a little better with her dress but wardrobe was a bit stretched for time with Fleur’s Tinmancé get-up, poaching every exotic bird in London Zoo for Nancy’s costume and making like 10 costumes for Cameron.

There were a little too many technical issues for a lot of the judges, particularly Shirley who mostly praised the music and Craig who criticised the clunkiness of her transition out of the lifts – and it’s probably an indictment upon the routine that when he said that I said “Lifts? Were there lifts?” completely having forgotten they did this (which Ellie’s dress at least makes look very pretty)

it’s the peril of the harness, it kind of becomes the only thing people remember, but I can’t say the image of Ellie sitting like a lemon in the background while Johannes and his dance troupe has a little dance break wasn’t one of my favourite visuals of the night

Guys, you can stop vamping now, I’m all strapped in. Guys? GUYS!

Motsi: 8
Shirley: 8
Anton: 8

Helen Skelton & Gorka Marquez
Quickstep / Valerie – Amy Winehouse (and none for The Zutons)

Well Nadiya has nothing to worry about because CLEARLY Gorka isn’t going to give The Suspiciously Italian Sounding Yorkshire Barmaid a run for her money in the pint pulling department

I’m not even a beer drinker and I’m offended by that pint, but I’m not surprised given Gorka thinks cheese and crackers are a bar snack – he’s a wine guy through and through, which is why all they did was a half-hearted cheers and neither pint went near their lips, not that Helen could physically get passed that head if she tried

I’m very intrigued by Gorka’s three wrist belts though – what level of Karate is that?

Helen and Gorka’s Blackpool Bar Crawl wasn’t just an excuse to day drink though as their quickstep was set outside a pub that can’t seem to decide if it’s a Pub, A Bar, Matt Goss’s Well-polished Vintage Diner, A B+B or a mafia front

I also can’t tell if the sign is intentionally vandalised or if sometime during the drive down to Blackpool they lost The D (goals) either way, The Faux-punk Quickstep starts at the end of a night out and you can tell it’s the end because Lauren is drunk acting to a degree that feels like catnip for a producer looking for next year’s duffer target

the story we were promised was “Helen and her girls” meeting “Gorka and his lads” – with Gorka’s “lads” at some point becoming Just Cameron

imaginably Neil wasn’t allowed to take part in the Routines because there had been a mix up with his luggage and they’d only packed the Colonel Mustard outfit and the seagull costume in his sizes

such a shame, but I have no doubt Cameron would have been more than willing to play 3 other parts in this routine – instead his role was Gorka’s Rival for Helen’s affections – which not to be rude to Cameron but is a bit like making a Pomeranian fight a Doberman – he’s very cute but Gorka is… Gorka – as Cameron will attest to

yeah, that seems better – Helen and Cameron competing for Gorka’s affections I can buy. It was hard to tell if the crowd were going absolutely wild for the Cameron and Gorka’s kiss (the intensity of the impact and length of snog seeming to surprise even them…) or because everyone really loved Helen and Gorka’s routine – because it was a very good routine and I loved the production of it – the music was great – the outfits were really good (even if you could tell it was a hurried adaptation of the outfits from the Elvis routine)

but this is what I wish Kym and Graziano had been wearing for their Ballroom Blitz Quickstep, and if they need it for Musicals Week, The Blonde-Backing-Dancer-Who-Is-Not-Luba-Or-Nadiya’s sort of demi-apron would be a perfect costume for Madame Thénardier in a truly cursed Musicals Week Viennese Waltz

or is it too soon to be discussing Les Mis themed Musicals Week routines…


Much like Gorka’s last time in Blackpool, all the way back in 2017 with Alexandra Burke, he had danced a 39 scoring Quickstep with Craig once again being the only judge to withhold his 10, the memories of it completely overwhelming him

there were a lot of emotions going on – scoring 10s, his daughter finally meeting Will Mellor, Cameron awakening something inside of him, Sam Ryder’s osmotic joy, the Beyoncé static in the air…

Motsi: 10
Shirley: 10
Anton: 10

Fleur “Beyonce” East & Vito “Poor Michelle” Coppola
Couple’s Choice / A Destiny’s Child Megamix

Good Lord. What a routine – and it could have gone any which way because Fleur was facing some severe obstacles – we know the perils of being dressed entirely in silver in the lead up to Turkey Season

and of course Blackpool Vanity Projects don’t always go to plan…

that routine still brings me out in hives – both the fact the judges seemed to not know what Vogueing was and Michelle Visage WAAAAAY overestimating her ability to Vogue.

But I truly don’t believe there’s a single alternative universe in which Fleur doesn’t absolutely body this routine because she was going at it like her life depended on it – for 90 seconds on Saturday the 19th of November 2022, Fleur East and Beyonce Knowles were mind melded

it was basically everything that was good about her Week 1 Cha Cha Cha – the uncanny ability to camera spot with sniper-like precision, bucket-loads of personality, stage presence, speed – but all with a control that stopped it from feeling like she was trying to tear down civilisation itself, although I do think Mesopotamia would have quaked during the Lose My Breath breakdown

it was everything you could have wanted from a very music video-y commercial routine to Destiny’s Child that wasn’t have to try to be something else – we would never have got half the weave patting if this was trussed up as a paso

that’s not a dare to make a Destiny’s Child Paso by the way, even if Survivor might kind of slap with a few castanets thrown in like MasterChef contestants slinging Chorizo into anything for ~Spanish flavour~.

It really should have been the show closer, if I were Will and Nancy, my heart would have sunk the moment I saw Motsi and Shirley hyping Fleur up from the sidelines

how do you top that?
And then despite everything else in the routine, she and Vito still had the stamina for a competitive plank-off at the end (with mandatory unblinking eye contact, of course)

it really wasn’t much of a suprise that this routine would get the full 40, especially after Shiley had given the game away the moment Craig’s 10 paddle came out

but it was still lovely to see Fleur and Vito celebrating so enthusiastically for it

I think I’ve seen that move somewhere before

the gifs that never stop giffing.

Motsi: 10
Shirley: 10
Anton: 10

Will Mellor and Nancy Xu
Samba / I Go To Rio – Hugh Jackman

Every year we have to acknowledge the most distressing training outfit, and while I was very willing to give it to Jayde’s patchwork Onslow from Keeping Up Appearances outfit

Week 5 seemed a little early so I held off. Well, I’m calling it now in Week 9 – Nancy’s Reverse Thong that makes it look like she’s got her head on backwards is The Most Distressing Training Outfit of 2022

and as uncomfortable as I did find watching her gyrate around in it, I did enjoy the pan from Nancy going at it, to a very confused looking Will

I don’t quite know why they were trying to convince us that Will was struggling with the hip action though, we’ve seen him dance 8 times before this, if there’s one thing we can guarantee in a Will Mellor Latin routine, it’s going to be The Hips™

as Claudia felt first hand

Craig did seize the opportunity to immediately fire shots at Tyler

I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to watch Will Mellor teaching Tyler West a thing or two about gyration, but Dianne looked distinctly pissed off up in The Clauditorium

What’s that coming over the hill? It’s a Pissy Buswell! Strap in.

There was still something a little haphazard about the whole routine though, not least of all the moment he nearly completely wiped out during his spin

it might not have been The Beyoncification of Blackpool but it was still a good show closer – very fun and EXTREMELY camp – I mean the whole thing was basically a Pansexual Pride float – stan allyship

and just when you thought it couldn’t get any camper, out came the ribbon twirler

which didn’t last nearly long enough if you ask me and at the very least they could have had Cameron going at it in a hula hoop – don’t half arse your rhythmic gymnastic intervals!

Motsi: 9
Shirley: 9
Anton: 9

And that was that that! Over to the Leaderboard

1stThe Beyoncification of Blackpool40
2nd Gorka X Cameron: My Personal SlashFic39
3rdObligatory Frank Sinatra38
4thThe Big Band Bandstand Boogie Bandstand 35
The Pansexual Pride Float35
7thHopefully The Last Pop Paso33
8thThe First American Smooth In Hyperspace31

See you in The Results Show Recap!

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2 thoughts on “Strictly 2022, Blackpool Week, Main Show: Platonic Woman-shaped Friend

  1. hnotters

    Thank you for this blog, I have laughed so much! The Bacofoil GIFs, Cameron’s Paso face and the ‘interesting’ camera work- I loved it!

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