Strictly Come Dancing 2022, Week 12, Main Show: Manchester Omelette

“Why are you booing me? I’m Seven!”

What happens under the motorway, stays under the motorway.

If you, like me, were wondering why they waited so long to absolutely stack an episode with paso dobles – it’s because they just wanted to maximise the drama in the semi-final’s cold open

it doesn’t work quite so well when you’re doing your waltz in the smoking shelter

and I was very appreciative that they went all out on the paso spoilers because it gave me enough time to prepare for Will Mellor’s paso face

it’s much less “sexy smoulder” than it is “I told you not to touch the thermostat!”

Fleur East & Vito Coppola
Paso Doble / The Time Is Now – Moloko

As it’s the semi-finals, the first round of VTs had to take place in various cinemas where the couples watch the judges perform the compliment sandwich of praising one routine, bringing up a misstep and then praising another routine. And apparently one of the cinemas might have doubled up as a yoga centre going off the wall hangings that look like the sort of thing a roommate that did a gap year in India, only wears hemp and smells of patchouli would hang on her dorm wall

every time you perform the downward dog you run the risk of coming up with several pieces of popcorn suck to your forehead.

With Fleur doing the Paso Doble, there was of course always going to be the discussion of how much power she puts into a routine, a discussion that gives me The Ick™ more and more every time they do it, but then she did also start the routine by pulling this face

it’s a little heavy on the bottom teeth babe, which is taking it from Spanish passion to threatened llama territory but she did dial the teeth factor back once she had more non-face specific choreography to focus on.

As for the actual performance, I wish there was more of a moment for Fleur to stand out, some sort of big flourish (Fleurish?) but we did get Vito doing some remarkable spinning

like I would have loved to see what she would have done with a Helen Skelton foot tappin’ solo – not that the song really made room for much of a big moment – I think it’s a song that works better for an early series Paso because it’s a lot less grand. Ellie Taylor would have probably faired better with this and Fleur and Vito could have given us a real meaty Les Toreadors paso, not that this routine wasn’t meaty…

But I really loved the production as a whole – LOVED the colour scheme, something about green really works for me and I think that made the whole thing seem a lot edgier and more dynamic than it actually was

I did love that Vicky Gill had turned up on It Takes Two with Fleur’s outfit and had to emphatically stress that she would be adding more to the dress because at that moment in time it was a bit of an Ola Jordan Special

at least they added nothing to Vito’s outfit, therefore maximising the sweaty Vito content

Meanwhile, Fleur once again stands next to him having barely broken a sweat – clearly her personal training gig is doing her wonders, as her love of doing some sort of a plank in a routine will demonstrate

In the end most of the “adding more” into Fleur’s outfit went into the skirt, which was a geographic bafflement of fabric, even for a paso skirt and they were doing everything to show off how much fabric was involved in it

it’s like a bird of paradise doing The Angelina Jolie leg move

that is the STUPIDEST image I have created for this blog.

And then on top of looking a bit like they were doing a vanishing act involving a poorly hidden trapdoor on Britain’s Got Talent, it had this weird sort of flamenco umbilical cord that Vito dragged her around by

which is what Craig dinged some points off FOR, because the footwork became slightly muddled here – which is fair, you try being dragged around by your umbilical cord and see how you like it.
Meanwhile Anton loved every bit of it and Motsi said “it was like watching a lion parade” and you could just about hear Hamza shouting “YOU MEAN PROWL! LIONS PROWL! THEY DON’T PARADE! THE L IS FOR LESBIAN NOT LION!” from the balcony.

Craig: 8
Motsi: 9
Shirley: 8
Anton: 10

A quick interlude to acknowledge how excited Ariadne circa 2009 would have been to see Greg James in the bath

three different scented candles and a candlestick is a bit of an overkill though.

Helen Skelton & Gorka Marquez
Waltz / Only One Road – Celine Dion

Off to Helen and Gorka’s viewing of the judges, which looked like it was taking place in a cinema refurbished by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen in 2002

the crushed velvet, the chunky brocade AND leather trousers? it’s like a UN meeting of horrific fabrics. And apparently cinemas are now super into wall art with Helen and Gorka finding themselves observed by what looks like the mounted head of the Demogorgon from Stranger Things

the main thing the judges were looking forward to was Helen dancing a slower, more internally intimate dance now that Helen’s Got Her Groove Back (2022) although I am personally vehemently against waltzes happening any time after Week 10 – at least make it interesting by adding the nausea risk of a Viennese Waltz. They can harp on about how the slowness of the waltz is the most difficult thing in the world all they want, it will always feel like Ballroom Dancing For Dummies™ to me, I mean there was a reason it was half the casts’ first routines from series 2 until series 10 – just ignore the fact for most of those series the rumba was often also some people’s early routines – how did we suffer through so many years of Week 2 Rumbas? Good God, what a grim and unusual punishment.

Back to The Very Hard And Difficult Waltz, which I did half expect Kevin McCloud to interrupt because it looked like it was taking place in a partially renovated warehouse conversion

unfortunately Helen and Gorka were not dressed up like a couple obsessed with concave glass windows and slathering bricks in yogurt to try and make lichen grow quicker to meet the environmental building regulations – and Helen’s dress was just very pretty, especially the back (but I do wish the bodice was a v-shape into the skirt)

that is the one benefits of a waltz, you can guarantee a sensibly beautiful dress. Mostly…

the fact she wore the overwhelming poppy lesion dress on Remembrance Weekend makes it that little bit more gauche, but hey, at least she won Poppy Wars.

There’s not much to really say about a waltz – it was very pretty and everything you could want from the routine, which would ultimately make for a very good contrast to her Argentine Tango that was, like most of us, the only thing Tess was thinking about

Craig however did think the routine was a little stiff, which I do kind of agree with, at least for certain sections and coming out of one or two of the big, more dramatic moments felt a little fumbled

but for the most part it was very competently danced and the footwork, when you could see it through the duffer levels of foot masking floor fog, was very good and there weren’t any moments where it looked or felt messy, until they got up to the balcony and everyone thought Gorka had cut Helen’s toes off like a lucky rabbit’s foot – he insists he said “toast”

I just enjoy that toast is such an important part of Helen’s daily schedule that it can be used as leverage against her. Do the fleckerl again, or there’ll be no wholemeal bread for lunch!

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

Hamza Yassin & Jowita Przystal
Charleston / Pencil Full of Lead – Paolo Nutini

Hamza and Jowita actually went to the same cinema as Fleur and Vito, they had just dimmed the lights to make it less obvious – it probably would have been silly to rent 5 different cinemas for 3 minute VTs, especially when you’ve got an entire digital motorway pass to render but we’ll get to that nonsense later. For now we’re with Hamza and Jowita in the cinema, where hamza did think he was watching a feature length nature documentary because Shirley was dressed like a bleeding tooth fungus

and Jowita was reacting to everything like I did when every twist in Parasite happened

interesting to note that the most they critique Hamza was actually criticising Craig for giving him an 8 for his couple’s choice routine because everyone seems to have deleted the Jurassic Rumba from memory real quick

The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972.)

Out on the dancefloor and we find ourselves in Hamza and Jowita’s cosy living room, where I did genuinely think they were dressed like some sort of elephantine pantomime horse

of course it was necessary for the big reveal as the their luxury hunting lodge chic living room transformed into a Lisa Frank highlands nightmare which was some cool set trickery

they could however have probably found a different sofa cover, or at least one that was a little easier to pull away for whichever poor soul was having to crouch behind there

unless it was Neil in which case SUFFER AT THE HANDS OF THE BLANKET.

This was of course our first Kilted Charleston, however it’s not our first kilted routine with Hamza joining the lofty and drafty highs of JJ Chalmers and his modesty fog

Dave Myers doing the most Scottish tango that ever tango’d

and of course Kenny Logan wearing more skirt than Ola in their paso doble

it’s The Ola Jordan Special!

Craig did commend him for the bravery of wearing the kilt and we did get regular flashes of his bright pink dancing knickers, which he was very much doing on purpose

and the kilt wasn’t the only thing being lifted because of course Jowita was using this as another excuse to live out her dream of flying

I suppose having a wholesome Scottish naturalist swing you around like he’s about to perform the hammer toss is easier than building a plane out of a chicken coop

and very little has brought me more joy this series than the look on Jowita’s face every time Hamza is about to put her through a particularly adrenaline fuelled series of aerial acrobatics that in any other hands would have the potential to be VERY SNOWDANCE-esque

but as exciting as the lifts were, the rest of the Charleston didn’t really stand out to me because it didn’t feel like anything we hadn’t seen before – it was very well danced and as the judges said he made it looks very light and easy which is saying something amongst a series full of Charlestons that often felt like community service but maybe we get some new choreographers because the Jenny Thomas well is running dry, which is fine because she’s been churning them out since 2009 but I suspect some of these more recent efforts wouldn’t pass a plagiarism test.

Craig: 9
Motsi: 10
Shirley: 10
Anton: 10

Molly Rainford & Carlos Gu
American Smooth / Easy On Me – Adele

For their Cinematic Masterclass, Molly and Carlos were booked in for quite the horror film as the whole point of it was to mostly ram home the fact the general public have repeatedly let her down

to be fair, those were the faces I pulled the entire way through their couple’s choice routine too.

They were doing the American Smooth this week which is interesting because Carlos has gone most of the series without having to lift Molly – they did a little lift in their Argentine Tango which wasn’t exactly Adam Peaty whipping Katya around like he was trying to put a coat on in torrential rain and if their one, solitary lift in this American Smooth is anything to go by, I assume Carlos, much like Jade Jolie, refuses to lift anything that weighs more than 5 pounds

but it was a very sweet and tender routine that didn’t really call for anything particularly effortful – as you would expect from a routine to one of Adele’s wine mum era songs

not that that would stop Tess from bulldozing into the end of it by simpering at Molly like she was a chihuahua that managed to follow a command for the first time

perhaps she was confused by the fact Molly was wearing the most Nova Jones-esque outfit she’s worn all series, which is saying something when her Samba outfit looked like this

I think it’s down to that particular shade of blue and the structural hair – it’s very CBBC IN SPAAAAAAACE!

which did make it quite funny when Anton described her as looking like she was one of the silver screen goddesses of yore, which I didn’t get from this routine at all but Anton is legally obligated to reference the 1940s at least once every week.

Most of the judges loved the storytelling side of it, which I thought was also very good – I found the relationship between the two of them to be very believable but the Adeleness of it all does feel like a bit of a poisoned chalice given that both of them have talked A LOT about how much they love Adele and would love to dance to one of her songs – I mean, Carlos even has a matching Adele tattoo

and yet still somehow not the most questionable tattoo amongst the cast because I am all too aware of what lurks beneath Neil Jones’s shirt, someone’s never going to get to wear the mesh paso shirt because they fed the bad wolf.
So the two of them finally getting their Adele themed dance does feel a little bit like their Strictly storyline is done and dusted. Unless you know, someone over egged their paso doble.

Craig: 8
Motsi: 9
Shirley: 9
Anton: 10

Will Mellor & Nancy Xu
Paso Doble / Uccen – Taabli Brothers

ruh roh.

This Paso Doble has been much anticipated and the show has done everything in its power to build up the hype for Will Mellor’s inevitable foray into mesh shirts and high waisted trousers and on that level, this routine was doing it for me – Nancy looked like Frida Kahlo and Will Mellor was the sexiest piece of William Morris furniture I’ve ever seen

the arts and crafts era vest wasn’t the only questionable wardrobe decision because for some reason they’d given him a child’s sized cape to try and swish around

and the more he swished it around (and he was swishing it FURIOUSLY,) the smaller it got and by the end of it he had little T-rex arms and looked like one of the March sisters bundling up for the winter

I guess that makes him the Beth…?

It was an unfortunate start and whether or not it’s to blame for the rest of the muddled technique I can’t say but it was certainly to blame for Will dancing his way through the whole thing with a contempt that burned with the intensity of 1000 suns

which was kind of the main problem – it was ALL drama, so there was nothing for the drama to really contrast against but there were parts of it that I really liked – particularly the clapping section which I think required him to loosen up a little bit

and I’m sure these two both thought this was on for a perfect 40 – and I can’t blame them, that’s basically the narrative the show has been running – they were even dancing to the music for a paso that won Dancing With The Stars an Emmy – this was absolutely meant to be The Moment of the evening. And then Shirley Ballas hit them like a meteorite

you know it’s bad when she has to take a moment to collect herself before giving her critique, like she’s calculating how she can do it in the campest way possible. And then she said the words I think Will Mellor had dreaded his ENTIRE time on this show “You had the arrogance” – it’s just not a very endearing critique

complete shellshock, a magnitude 8 shake to the core the likes of which we haven’t seen since Cynthia Erivo told Tom Fletcher he was an emotionless sack of flesh after his Couple’s Choice

I always forget that the critique of that dance ended in all of the judges singing “Let It Go” at Tom

that Musicals Week is an almost perfect hour of television.

But back to the emotional extermination of Will Mellor

the only judge really backing his corner was Motsi who praised the fact he left his heart on that dancefloor, which is certainly one way of describing it. But he also had the support of all the other pros, particularly Amy who obviously recognised a little bit of what was going on

and of course Nikita was going nutso because… he’s Nikita.

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

Fleur East & Vito Coppola
Charleston / Tu vuo Fa L’Americano

Our second Charleston of the evening takes us from the cosy highland hunting lodge to the cobbled streets of Naples where Fleur and Vito are hitting every Italian stereotype with a sledgehammer like they were trying to make the Miss Saigon routine look practically tasteful – they might as well have had Vito in a moustache saying “It’s a me, Vito!” – they were already having him play both the role of waiter and diner compelte with Italian flag apron

I’m beginning to think the theme of this whole Charleston might have actually just been Kym and Graziano

especially given the fact Vito was having to chow down on some visibly disappointing spaghetti – it’s the way it all moves as one lump that particularly gets me, the stuff was boiled 2 hours ago

and if you’re wondering why he ate it with his fingers, that’s actually a Naples thing – it’s traditionally macaroni though – and the kids that did it, and became the figures of postcards and travel posters, were known as “Mangiamaccheroni” (Macaroni Eaters)

take notes, there will be a pop quiz at the end of the series [there won’t be, I do not have the time.]

But Vito could have pretended to eat it, nobody would have doubted his Italianness and maybe then he wouldn’t have spent most of the beginning of the dance choking on a mouthful of spaghetti with the texture of a shoelace! I suppose we should just be thankful he didn’t end up looking as upsetting as Richie did by the end of his samba

there’s a lot to question about those onesies but the addition of the belly fringe is top of my list when I finally get to interrogate Vicky Gill.

As for what Fleur’s role in this Neopolitan hate crime homage was… they had to get a vespa in there somehow

she got hit by wardrobe’s 10 routine fatigue because that dress is straight off the high street with barely a bead or rhinestone in sight and is lucky to have survived one go at this Charleston, let alone two! I do wish her shoes were red – I found the stark black to be really distracting and made parts of the routine look a lot choppier than it probably was

but given my earlier complaint about the Charlestons feeling a little repetitive and uninspired – this one did have a nice few little flourishes here and there, I enjoyed the chef’s kiss and sprinkling of the cheese – I’m not entirely sure why it was preceded by a baseball swing but… sure?

and then of course the napkin wielding interlude

sorry, then of course the napkin wielding interlude

she got better critiques from the judges than I had expected because I very much came into this semi-final thinking they were about to run Fleur over with a glittery bus and a Charleston felt like the perfect opportunity to do that no matter how good she was, and in fact the only judge to criticise anything about it was Craig who *deep sigh* said she was a little too controlled

yeah, me too babe.

Craig: 9
Motsi: 10
Shirley: 10
Anton: 10

Helen Skelton & Gorka Marquez
Argentine Tango / Here Comes The Rain Again – Eurythmics

Well, we got the Argentine Tango we wanted and in true Strictly fashion it came with an almost unintelligible theme

I guess the Public Pool of Sexual Frustration is closed on Sundays and the next best place was under the motorway overpass in the pouring rain? They could have at least gone all out and added in a CGI cybergoth dance party

or at least made them where the masks…


Where’s *that* Countryfile special?

After last week’s Couple’s Choice this Argentine Tango did have a tough act to follow and you know, with Gorka not being in a corset there’s only so far that roadside sexiness can get you and I’m not sure, as a whole, it hit quite the same high and it might have been a little bit to do with Helen being a little spooked by the fact her heel got caught in her dress a few times, with the hemline very much coming off second best

the wild thing is that apparently it happened in the dress rehearsal too so this was after they altered the dress to prevent it from happening. But in some ways it added to the feel of the dance, it is the risk you run of having a tryst in the brambles.

Anton and Motsi were both very much wooed by the storytelling of the whole thing and I was surprised that it managed to get 10s given that Tess wasn’t visibly flustered by the end of it but I’m also not surprised at all given that Anton was embracing End of Term Judging and was ardently not going to score anything less than a 9 – it does get to a point where we might as well replace him with a secondhand TV on a trolley playing The Land Before Time, doesn’t it?

Of course after the dance the couples were having to do their best appeal to the general public – Vito and Fleur’s was very much a resigned shrug and an almost apologetic “I guess you could vote for us” – meanwhile Gorka, sensing the momentum behind Helen’s public vote, went into full emotional charity appeal like she was frail donkey in Morocco that you could sponsor for £4.50 a month which Helen hated every second of

I imagine she’s given him a list of things he’s not allowed to mention in interviews and she doesn’t believe for a second he has the self-control to not mention them.

Craig: 9
Motsi: 10
Shirley: 8
Anton: 10

Hamza Yassin & Jowita Przystal
Waltz / What The World Needs Now – Burt Bacharach

There’s drama in the Countryfile Group Chat because SOMEONE sent Hamza a video message of support and not Helen

get ready for the pastoral civil war, and to think it all started with a waltz like this is the 1700s.

Much like the earlier waltz, there’s just not much to write about – it was just a very cute, clean and simple routine with the added joy of Hamza’s hair being untethered from his shirt and swinging out behind him whenever they did a spin

I don’t know why this wasn’t a viennese waltz, but I can only guess that the centrifugal force may have put too much pressure on his roots.
But as well danced as it was, Shirley was obligated to find some sort of slight fault in the whole thing because they need to score Hamza *a little* low in order to add some sort of jeopardy going into the final, not that the audience was having any of it and promptly booed her for claiming Hamza’s arm was twisted

tell that to Motsi

I will be keeping that soundbite for future use so beware, Ballas.

Craig: 9
Motsi: 10
Shirley: 9
Anton: 9

Molly Rainford & Carlos Gu
Paso Doble / Survivor – The Traitors Soundtrack


Stavros Flatley?
To be fair, even she seemed to be confused by that one. Guys, they weren’t even on the same series of Britain’s Got Talent, what are you doing? At least she and HRVY did an Antibullying campaign together that one time

I’m amazed he had the self-restraint not to sit in front of his gold record award like his family did throughout series 18

I’ve never seen anyone more insecure about their claim to fame on this show before, I’m surprised he didn’t make them dub him an author too.

The third and final installment in our trilogy of matadors and I guess, as they say, third time’s the charm because OH. MY. GOD. What a paso doble this was! Every part of it just worked – the outfits were GREAT

Well, mostly. I can only assume that Molly found the original neckline to be a little too revealing and didn’t want to suffer the same fate as Georgia May Foote whose legacy is the most replayed portions of her routines always being he chestiest portions of her routines

Call your dad, he’s spending too much time on YouTube.
But sadly the best the wardrobe department could do at such short notice was whatever that macrame boob beard was

but I did like the gold of the outfits, a little bit of which was because it reminded of the baffling paso that Kai and AJ did last year that I am still, to this day, trying to parse

Molly and Carlos’s was a much better production though – the use of the spotlights really added to the drama and grandness of the whole spectacle

a special shout out to whoever was manning the spotlight as Molly skidded across the floor like berserk Roomba, you were doing a better job of keeping up with her than the poor camera operator during the part which looked like Molly was doing a try out for the Great British Women’s 100m relay team

it’s not quite as bad the donkey in a trench coat that was filming their jive but I’m beginning to question if Molly has somehow mortally offended the camera crew.
The only part of the production that I questioned was the use of the red lightning

it very much felt like the leftover of whichever Stranger Things themed paso doble they were originally meant to give Will during Halloween Week – look, him squelching barefootedly around the ballroom while dressed as a particularly upsetting Vecna would have been better than him running around with a bath towel pretending to be a vampire

I vant to suck your blooooood!

With Molly’s paso being as good as it was, Shirley did use it as her opportunity to launch her Make Tens Great Again campaign by shouting “RESPECT. A. TEN.” as she scored Molly

which is also what I write on all my dating app profiles.

Craig: 9
Motsi: 10
Shirley: 10
Anton: 10

Two Cool And Fresh Teens
Couple’s Choice / Hits Radio Manchester

Well, if you thought William Melloriam’s paso doble was over egged, strap in because you’re about to be force fed a Manchester Omelette

I think we mostly need to just take a step back and reassess couple’s choice because… we have strayed too far from the light and Oti Mabuse probably is to blame after striking gold with her and Bill’s Rapper’s Delight couple’s choice

and now everyone wants to recreate that and nobody wants to do ContempoWaft because they don’t want to be lumbered with a thumbnail like THIS

so now we’re churning out a street/commercial routines and drying up the move pool faster than we exhausted Jenny Thomas’s Charleston Vade Mecum and Will’s Manchester Medley felt like the abandoned child of Tyler’s Garage MegaMix that was then adopted by Dan Walker’s couple’s choice like one of those cats that adopts a duckling

am I irrational for hating this routine as much as I do? Probably! But I just found the sight of them being dressed like they had fallen out of a Frosties advert from the 90s to be a bit, and I hate to use the word… cringe

Nancy just about gets away with it – Will Mellor and his grizzled dad beard most certainly does not, it’s just bad vibes central but because the judges don’t really know what to do with anything that doesn’t present like ballroom or latin, they kind of just throw praise at it and flop it down in front of the voting audience like a cat gifting you a dead mouse

shocker – we hated the bucket hat.

Craig: 9
Motsi: 10
Shirley: 9
Anton: 10

A Voting Lines Are Open Round Up

And now to our leaderboard:

2ndPasoing At An 1175
3rdLittle Italy (2018)74
4thHelen’s X-rated Countryfile Special72
5thA Very Eggy Will Mellor70

and I’ll see you for the very short Results Show recap because the football ate our pro dance.

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