Strictly 2023, Movie Week, Main Show: Manchester Accented Tinnitus

This is exactly how I write these recaps.

This recap is wearing lederhosen.

Once again Movie Week opens with Craig and Anton failing to act their ways out of a paper bag as Anton decides to go on a covert mission as Ant-on Man to make sure that none of the couples are slacking and the fact he mostly flew around at crotch height shouting things like this should not reflect badly on his character…

Nikita Kanda’s unique brand of stomping may not serve her well in a Jive but my God if she can’t pummel the hell out of a tiny pervert

as you can see, absolutely seamless CGI and definitely not a flavour of off-puttingly animated aliens to come – particular shout out to the misaligned eyelines of Layton and Nikita

and the mid-point of Anton’s shrinking

he looks like an Oompa Loompa that’s about to sing Craig off into a rocket to the moon because he bellowed “FOUR!” at Jody and Jowita with a little too much passion.

It wouldn’t be Strictly without a big opening Movie Week Disney routine, this time with 80% less cosplay as we lay our scene in Giovanni’s Cinema of Nostalgic Sadness

where apparently there’s an illicit piracy scheme as Neil sits in the back row painstakingly drawing every single frame of the film he’s watching eating nothing but the popcorn kernels Giovanni throws at him

if he draws enough movie accurate Steamboat Willys he gets to draw some hardcore rated-R Robin Hood: The Fox That Fucks fanart, a film Strictly has somehow avoided drawing from in the 15 years we’ve been suffering through Movie Week and the 5 years since they hired whoever it is in the production crew has a FurAffinity account

not that I should be encouraging the sort of deranged face paint that has lead to permanently confused and slightly distressed Graziano

but two people dressed as foxes dancing the foxtrot kind of writes itself

ALAS, no foxes – but there was covert cosplay as Nadiya got to dress up as The Blue Fairy to doom Real Boy Kai to a life of wearing nothing but lederhosen

much to unpack. And because *SOME PEOPLE* got pissy last year about the fact Dianne was Tiffany Valentine from The Bride of Chucky and not Ariel

she got to be Ariel this time (congratulations Jane, you won)

Vito got to keep his role of Prince Eric – and the two of the make for an alarmingly accurate Lady and the Tramp

Giovanni was sadly not reprising his role of Ass Shaking Warthog, but the memory still haunts him

having a couple of moments where they clearly tried to reference the dancers with the on-screen clips did somewhat paint them into a corner because there were extensive Aladdin and Pocahontas bits for them to navigate through and they did their best by playing their ethnically ambiguous Uno reverse cards

nailed it.

The Disneyfication did not stop there as the evening would be hosted by TessBoat Willy and Claudia WinkleMinnie

I do think that Claudia would have absolutely been down for doing the whole show dressed as Minnie Mouse but they’d only rented the mascot costumes for an hour and Vicky needed to steam clean them because she was not going to lose that deposit, she’s got 13 couples to dress next week and everyone was already down to about one third of a concept this time. So everyone got to walk on with a mascot who was promptly never seen again

I am obsessed with the fact Goofy is centre-frame as though he’s the head judge (AND WITH SHIRLEY’S SCORING THIS EPISODE HE MIGHT AS WELL HAVE BEEN!) but Daisy Duck did kind of serve

the fact someone navigating an unergonomic Daisy Duck costume has better Charleston swivel than Nikita really did end her before the show even began.

Batman and Floppin’
Jive / The Batman Themetune – Batman

Someone has to open up Movie Week and a Batman themed jive is probably a fairly safe bet – a universally recognised property, fun music and everyone loves a jive, right? RIGHT, NIGEL?

you cannot convince me that that’s Nigel Harman under there – that is just any man in his 50s they found in the Tesco Express, Nigel is backstage somewhere meditating in the Les Dennis Naptime Broom Cupboard because this was a NOSEDIVE in quality, but in true Movie Week fashion there was something in the water, and it was enough gin to take down an elephant

NOTHING about this was worth a 7! Hell, I question the 6s! Not even Nigel nd Katya believed them because Nigel stomped on that floor like it was responsible for killing his parents outside the opera house

it was at this point that I began to think that Nigel was a method actor and in order to get ~into character~ he had actually scaled the Elstree Studios with nothing but a rope

and by “this point” I do mean “the very first thing that happened in this jive”.
Weirdly, I don’t even think Katya was particularly good in this routine but to be fair, I’m sure it must be difficult for even the most professional of dancers to be dancing in a child’s fancy dress costume Vicky Gill ordered off Amazon

the absolute lack of any sort of sparkle or texture makes it all the more lifeless – which isn’t inaccurate because the 1966 tv series (IN MOVIE WEEK????) did also look like it was held together by masking tape and flop sweat

and sadly we weren’t getting the Tits and Ass Batman because Vicky hasn’t yet learned how to make reinforced nipples strong enough to survive a jive

although I will commend them for the little smiley face on the Bat Logo particularly because it looked so happy and Nigel looked… so like a father who had drawn the short straw and had to go trick-or-treating with the kids

the symbolism of BatNigel wasn’t particularly cohesive though, imaginably the editors weren’t quite sure if they’d got clearance on the Bat Logo so if you want to call Nigel all you have to do is flash a ClipArt disco ball into the sky

this particular distress call came from the cuticles of the Girl Behind Craig

I do believe she’s actually Amanda’s daughter which does make the fact she spent the entire night looking like she would rather be ANYWHERE else that much funnier.

I did see a lot of people saying that Katya should’ve just been Batgirl but I truly think that was the least of their worries and if she had been, the merry-go-round of infinite confusion that they finished the routine on would’ve looked even more like two binbags having a fight inside a revolving door

I feel like we’ve had this discussion before but I can’t help but feel that a cape is not conducive to good jive, especially a cape that is so determinedly trying to become a bib

this is exactly what Edna Mode was talking about

except in this instance the jet turbine is also wearing a cape.

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

Last week the Ts&Cs special guest was Ed Balls which I didn’t cover because I’m incredibly tired of the legacy of that Gangnam Style routine but this week’s Very Special Ts&Cs Guest was none other than Amy Dowden which was very sweet and I loved that she stayed up on the balcony for the whole evening

fingers crossed she’ll be up for taking back her mantle as Protector of The Nice Men soon, but Lauren has done a wonderful job as substitute Ferryman of the River Stryxtly.

Anne Robinson and Questionably Politically Aligned Ken
Quickstep / Do-Re-Mi – The Sound of Music

Maria von Trapp costumes are quite hard to do because you can easily end up looking like Princess Diana or Charity Shop Sue and if you’re really unfortunate you end up looking like you’re about to call someone The Weakest Link at the Renaissance Fayre

but talking about Anne Robinson the level 6 College of Whispers Bard is kind of burying the lede(rhosen) when she’s dancing with an armchair that joined the Hitler Youth

imaginably when Angela heard they’d be doing The Sound of Music she thought “Oh great, Kai’s going to be wearing the Harrod’s Doorman outfit again! He looked nice in that!”

and then he had to come out of his dressing room to tell her he’s going to be playing a 5 year old named Hedwig with the hair of someone apologising for a political scandal

the whole dance was a blur because I did mentally check out when Kai had to lipsync to the baby-voiced “A! B! C!” right at the beginning

not a fan when Tess does it, hate it even more when a man wearing lederhosen does it.

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

Duelling Animorphs
Paso Doble / The Puss Suite – Puss In Boots

Given that Puss In Boots is obviously peak Spanish cinema (Pedro Almodovar found dead) they obviously needed to honour the Spanish culture in the only way Strictly knows how – by screening YouTube clips of it in an empty tapas restaurant

this looks like an episode of The Batchelor that rapidly turned into a hostage situation and Zara’s Warrior Catsona was going to have to fight her way out

the show was very keen to push the novelty of the sword fighting paso doble all week, and there were two distinct levels of excitement for it as Zara’s stomach hit the floor every time someone mentioned fencing

I feel pretty safe in saying that fencing is the hottest olympic sport – I think a saber can do a lot for you

unfortunately for Graziano and Zara they never quite managed to get the speed and sharpness required for a pants-dropping flèche because their safety swords had all the weight of uncooked spaghetti

the most aggression and passion they ever got out of the sequence was when the two of them just hucked their swords at the orchestra

truly it is the season of projectiles – we’re now 4 hats, two swords, a pair of sunglasses and Zara herself deep into improvised thrown weapons

very little this episode brought me more joy than the moment Zara went spinning across the floor perfectly supine like she was giving a yoga class in a centrifuge machine

it’s a perfect encapsulation of how stiff the rest of this routine felt, which was not aided by the fact that in the shadows lurked an audience of gyrating feral cats, their eyes constantly aglow

they did at least help make Zara and Graziano’s cat costumes seem… better? Strictly does have a long and storied history with the anthropomorphisation of animals for the purposes of light entertainment AND DEFINITELY NOT ANYTHING ELSE

and prior to the OnesieGate last year, I would never have trusted the Strictly wardrobe team to have gone anywhere near Kitty Softpaws and her gimp mask

but they do seem to have learnt their lesson from the bussing that everyone’s least favourite meerkat-cum-bathmat got last year so Zara just got to be a sexy bare minimum cat as her Halloween Week theme bolts 4 weeks early

Graziano did not fair quite so well, I think there are 100 ways it could have been worse and 99 of those involve a morphsuit but he does still look like the halfway point between Anton dressed as a Pirate and a baked bean

sometimes I get halfway through making an asset for this blog and I really do have a sudden urge to start smoking despite never having smoked before.

Graziano’s cat makeup did also make him look perpetually confused and upset by anything anyone said or did all night – “TO VOTE FOR ZARA AND GRAZIANO…” *sad cat face*

not that he and Zara had much reason to not be confused and upset as they scored a string of Movie Week 6s which when converted to non-themed Week scores means 4

the absolute death of me might be the fact Shirley keeps saying “I disagree with Craig” whenever he gives a negative critique, goes on to praise (read as “lie through her teeth”) the routine and then give the EXACT same score as him. Granted I think Craig was glamoured by the fact he may have found some stunt casting for next year’s pantomime, although given that Zara failed to weaponise a 1 million strong Instagram following this week I wouldn’t hold your breath for “Puss In Boots with special guest star Zara McDermott”.

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

Rizzo and Kenickie
Viennese Waltz / There Are Worse Things I Could Do – Grease

We’re 21 series into Strictly at this point so naturally the show is now just an ouroboros of its own tropes, one of which is the recurring use of Grease, and if you want to know how Grease’s relevancy is doing: when you google “Rizzo” it’s a battle between Stockard Channing and baseball player Anthony Rizzo for relevance


I would like a Muppet do-over now that wardrobe have learned their lesson about fun-fur, prosthetics and onesies.

We did have a Grease routine just last year when we reached our 6th Sandy and 8th Danny Zuko. This year however we get our first Rizzo and Kenickie (with returning special guest star A Medium Amount of Grease Lightning)

although I guess you could argue over whether Baby Johannes or Neil Jones Before He Became Unbearably Annoying was an extremely unconvincing Kenickie

either way, the dip out of Sandy and Danny territory does mean we’re just *that much* closer to some Grease 2 deep cuts.

Obviously this is, I believe, the first time a male contestant has done a routine in drag as the BBC continues to do pinky tests for casting a drag queen (just give me the 6 week Tia Kofi disaster run, I crave it)

Layton is absolutely doing the very best he can with that wig but the look doesn’t entirely scream Rizzo so much as it does “period drama about a woman in STEM whose colleagues aren’t going to take her seriously because of racism and misogyny”

but he’s perfectly captured the Unconvincing Teenagerness of Grease, and really I think that’s all that matters – nothing sells a Grease routine quite like the nagging thought of “Sir, you are 30” when you watch it. That wasn’t quite enough for the judges who really laid bare the distinct line between Layton and everyone else as Shirley and Anton gave him an in-depth masterclass in posture IN WEEK THREE

that’s usually week 5 “we’re losing patience with you” pettiness and Craig seemed as tired of Anton’s masterclass as Amanda’s daughter did of being there

Muuuuuuuum. Do your rumba, I wanna go hoooooooooome.

Layton seemed to see the walls closing in on him as Anton dropped into the sort of critique that’s impenetrable to anyone but an experienced dancer

I think he’s safe from the bottom 2 for the front end of the competition but I do think it’s a coin toss between whether he or Amanda is going to have to bare the weight of being a latter end destroyer and what a headline making Musical Week showdown that’s going to be.
I don’t actually disagree with the judges, particularly Craig because Layton did start the routine like it was a paso doble in which he was about to eat Nikita alive

and I really could have done without the final aeroplane not-lift lift

especially when there were some really graceful spins in the rest of the routine that would have made equally good finishing points

watch your routines back and truly ask yourselves “Do we look like a fairground ride doing this?” and if the answer is yes, TAKE IT OUT.

A string of slightly soul crushing 7s and a 100 yard stare

smile and wave boys, smile and wave.

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

Charity Shop Sue and A Fosse Paladin
Charleston / Who’s Got The Pain? – Damn Yankees

If you ever need to work out who the professional dancer in the room is, simply play a clip of any Bob Fosse routine and they will be the one that starts cheering like a football hooligan

or the one that’s about to be land a life sentence for murdering the person who asked “Who’s Fosse?” with a jazz shoe

no jury from the Chicago courtroom scene would commit you.

The handy thing about being handed a Bob Fosse routine is that there’s pre-existing choreography for you to crib from so you at least have an advantage over the unfortunate soul trying to work out how Cher Horowitz jives. The downside is it’s Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon who are truly superhuman dancers

I would like to know how many times Carlos and Angela practiced that insane crabwalk before giving up on it and just adding a nod to both it and the presumed failures of their core muscles

and both Angela and Carlos HAVE core muscles! But what they lacked in interdependent crabwalking they more than made up for in extremely passionate goose honking which the subtitlers merely captioned as “Ugh!” and I don’t think that does it much justice

and imaginably Nikita had to go lie down backstage because all the honking felt like a personal attack after last week’s goose stomping charleston

and for the second year in a row, the Charleston topped the leaderboard as they scored mostly 9s

except for Shirley who scored them an 8 and just about went full Mr. Burns “Are they cooing me?” when she started getting booed for it

that 8 begins to look an even weirder choice in about 50 minutes time when she takes enough Couple’s Choice Crazy Pills to knock out a medium-sized horse.

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

A Strictly Retro Supplement

A Pair of P-P-P-P-Penguins!
Cha-cha-cha / Boogie Wonderland – Happy Feet

Movie Week began 13 years ago in the Series 8 Quarterfinal and had the distinct honour of finally pushing Ann Widdecombe out to sea – I truly forget just how long we had to suffer through that debacle (10 WEEKS!) and I could use one of the routines from that Movie Week for this week’s supplement, and it would have been Kara Tointon going through the most intensely emotional shit of her life but the upload quality is…

you can tell how big each person’s fanbase was based on the resolution of the surviving uploads; for instance, Gavin Henson was barely clinging on in 144p

while Matt Baker’s False Teeth laden Austin Powers Jive is in glorious 720p

however I won’t be covering it for reasons that this segment of the recap exists for (if you were wondering why we don’t hear from Aliona anymore.)

So instead I shall be covering my favourite Movie Week routine of all time by turning the clocks back to 2015 when this was the worst that could happen to you if the wardrobe department said they were dressing you up as penguins

and now you’re rolling your eyes and saying “of course she thinks Jay and Aliona’s Pulp Fiction Jive is the best Movie Week routine – EVERYONE DOES!” but I am actually knocking on your door asking if you have a moment to learn about my Lord and Saviour Ainsley Harriott and Natalie Lowe’s Happy Feet Cha Cha Cha – I will, hand on my heart, say that it is one of the best stylisations of a Movie Week theme that they’ve ever done – there is no terrible wig, there’s no stage eating set piece and there is no bold and ill-advised attempt at movie accurate animal makeup; they’re just kind of vaguely dressed like penguins in a charming sort of 40s musical interlude kind of way

Was it a good cha cha? Absolutely not, I don’t know if there are four more opposing forces than the cha cha, moving like a penguin, disco music and Ainsley Harriott himself who danced everything like he was made of bee-filled jelly

while pulling this face for just about the whole thing

truly a case of an immovable object meets an unstoppable force meets insurmountable pressure meets an unassailable surface.

It is a completely all over the place, almost unintelligible routine – there’s a tap section, there’s the angriest penguin cha cha, there’s part of it that looks like The Haka, this part where Ainsley almost forgets to pull Natalie through his legs because he’s completely lost in the call of the Antarctic

and by the end of it Natalie had clearly maxed his choreography learning credit card so just told him to do some penguin freestyle for FAR TOO LONG

before revealing that the whole thing was actually a statement about climate change

the fact they almost completely missed the projection of the melting ice shelf is the cherry on top, there was no better way for this disaster to have ended.

Cher Horowitz & Her Ex-Step Brother (It’s Legal But It Feels Wrong)
Jive / Kids In America – Clueless

There are few things more cruel than making someone who was in the Bottom Two for a Charleston do a Jive the very next week

and they really were throwing all the SHE’S RELATABLE! tropes at her after last week’s Girls’ Night Out To An Empty Pub it was time for the cosy sleepover that she had definitely set up

nothing quite puts the writing on the wall more than when Gorka stops trying to make the VT setups sound even remotely convincing and his only condition that he would go was if he got to go incognito mode but because Luba was using their only fake moustache, he had to go as LeatherFace making a career change as an aesthetician

nothing translates less well to screen than sheet masks because you will either end up looking like you’ve been involved in a terrible edible underwear accident or that little girl who put ham on her face

but you know, at least they got to watch a Best Bits of Clueless YouTube montage while eating the popcorn they stole from Adam’s children

like taking candy from a baby.

As well as this being a Charleston to Jive death spiral, this dance also highlights Gorka’s other kryptonite – high school jive-a-thons

as we go live to the Class Debate where Nikita is in the middle of her impassioned talk about the Haitians that sadly they did not dub in

I do applaud the bravery of the set designers – they could have just written “DEBATE!” on that blackboard and it would have been fine, but they decided to risk the potential eclipsings and creation of the all important ASS DEBATE

in the yellow corner we have Nikita advocating for Vito

and in the tie-dye corner, we have Gorka advocating for… Gorka

good points were made all round. We’ll settle this debate with Ken Dolls at Dawn tomorrow.

Is it obvious that I’m doing A LOT to not talk about this routine? Because it was not good and the writing was so obviously on the wall they might as well have written “LAST DAY OF TERM!” and drawn a cartoon dick on the blackboard. The judges were VERY kind because of it – just a series of damning softballed critiques so she could at least end the series feeling better about herself than last week

SHIRLEY, the whole thing started with them taking a solid 6 seconds just to line up back to back while seemingly having a tactical war meeting about how best to wipe out the few floorboards Nigel had left in tact

not helping her unique ability to make the centre of her foot touch the floor first was the fact they had put her in a pair of trainers, which albeit made for a cute outfit and she certainly drew a long straw with wardrobe

but when you’ve just been HEAVILY critiqued for marching around like the Major General of the Canadian Goose Army, being put in a pair of hightops isn’t going to help. You’ve just put a goose in trainers. Although some geese are built different

thoroughly recommend googling “goose wearing shoes” when you’re feeling down but don’t read too much about Andy the Unwebbed Goose, it will make you feel worse. But nothing can make you feel worse than Nikita seeing Gorka in the balcony monitor bracing himself before the judges had even said any of their scores

Gorka, you made Sad Cat even sadder.

Craig: 4
Motsi: 6
Shirley: 5
Anton: 6

Mirabel Madrigal & The Personification of Generational Trauma
Viennese Waltz / Waiting On A Miracle – Encanto

After managing to score herself a beach day last week apparently the “Ellie gets all the nice things!” sentiment is growing so this week everyone else got to go and pretend they were having nice comfy movie night in the quietest tapas restaurant in the world or at home with the friends, family or two women stuck in a War of the Roses situation while Ellie and Vito had to have a very ascetic viewing of Encanto on a tablet. On the floor of their training room. In glaring daylight. With no cushions. And no snacks.

but Saturday night is where it pays to be a production favourite and I don’t think anything lays it more bare than both Zara and Ellie stressing the impressiveness of their animated feature films

and Zara being rewarded with an army of CATS (2019) rejects and Ellie getting a very pretty particle effect that was a decent enough nod to the film and worked well with their choreography

God doesn’t choose favourites but not all of God’s children had to ask to have a meet and greet photo with Madison Beer (who could not be bothered to stand up and MADE YOU AWKWARDLY CROUCH) while wearing badly drawn whiskers and fully knowing she was in the bottom 2

instead Ellie and Vito just got to look like 2 librarians who were about to give up on love in a Richard Curtis movie

Ellie’s costume was genuinely lovely meanwhile Karen had to play the role last year in the most flammable looking fabrics imaginable

God doesn’t pick favourites but…

This was somehow both the most subtle and hammiest routine of the night, and I’m not just talking about Vito cutting off Claudia so he could weaponise the Disney Adults

I still can’t work out if Ellie was cutting off his Miss Universe “… and world peace” speech like the strings of a Bill Ross composition or fuelling the fire

it was somehow both extremely sarcastic and very saccharine. And Zara was suddenly realising, you can’t weaponise the DreamWorks Animations Kids.

During the routine though, Ellie had one thing on on her mind, she WANTS a role in a touring production of SOMETHING, she’s already perfected that 1000 yard stare out over an adoring audience

and Vito makes for the perfect stage mother as he cribs notes the couple who have their next dance were given by the judges

next week they have the Samba so I hope Ellie is prepared for the back alley pelvic surgery Vito is arranging in order to turn her hips into a Lazy Susan

Mad Scientist Nicky Burn to operate

he’s expensive but doesn’t leave a paper trail.

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

Romeo + Juliet
Samba / Young Hearts Run Free

And the geese JUST. KEEP. COMING.

sadly Dianne’s wings did have to be clipped after the two of them had managed to tear themselves away from the vintage Windows screensaver

I do love that this year’s Movie Week was just an elaborate way of allowing Dianne to test out a couple of new hair colours

I really liked her in the Brunette movie-accurate Claire Danes wig, possibly because it looked reasonably enough like actual hair (circa overly flat-ironed 2008 teenager) but while they had really gone all out on turning Dianne into Claire Danes, Bobby didn’t fair too well by comparison, although to be fair it’s much easier to recreate an angel costume for a samba than it is to turn chainmail into a samba shirt

I would like to see the version of Bobby’s outfit that came with a set of fringed samba pauldrons but again, Vicky had 14 couples to dress AND a Barbie routine to perfectly kit out so Bobby had to settle for the blouse your mother bought from M&S to wear at Christmas in 2007 because she was a little bit self-conscious of her upper arms

self-consciousness however is an aspect of the human condition that I’m not sure Bobby has or ever will experience given his tendency to just say the first thing that comes into his head and the unhumble pelvicness of this whole routine

which of course the judges go mad for and none of them bring up the interlude which was one of the whitest things I have ever seen

the rest of the routine? You could not convince him he was not the last man alive, then they hit that drum break and suddenly he was Steve from accounting in a corporate mandated team building exercise and for the briefest of moments I found him genuinely endearing.

Of course because someone has done the Samba, Anton has to joke about it because even when he’s not murdering Latin dance by his own hands he still has to kick it in the shins – but there was a reverberating praise for Bobby’s rhythm and how much he enjoyed the dance and the fact he hadn’t prioritised pleasing the judges or “his partner” (DIANNE HAS A NAME MOTSI)

but truly no partner pleasing was going to happen if you’re going to court someone like a viagra addled cobra

or doing the worm and plank (my favourite of Aesop’s fables and least favourite page of the Kama Sutra)

nothing says “this is sexy and cute” quite like going completely rigid as though you’re trying to avoid a bear attack and then barrel rolling away. Perhaps they should have tried it while spinning

big night for planking.

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

Sad Pixar At Its Best
American Smooth / Married Life – Up

Unfortunately this week Jody was only able to do minimal training due to the fact he couldn’t wear his prosthetic leg due to swelling – he could absolutely have taken the week off and I don’t think most people would have minded this early in the competition but it is a more nuanced and layer decision than just shrugging and saying “I’ll take it easy this week!” because we’ve seen the pressure put on contestants with disabilities in the past to constantly perform at their best and the moment they falter it’s used against them by the ~people with reasonable concerns~ and said ReaSoNaBLe CONceRnS are always a bit eugenics-y for a light entertainment show involving excessive amounts of glitter so I can see why it was important to Jody that he go through with this performance even with only 2 days of training and a rented copy of Up under his belt

and they did the best they could given the time crunch but you could absolutely tell that this was two fifths of a routine barely held aloft by 10,000 helium balloons because the whole thing lacked a preparedness and there was an emergency 16 second floor routine

followed by 30 seconds of absolutely no dancing but my God was he going to make you remember where you were when you first watched Up and didn’t expect THAT prologue – I was naively expecting a dog that said “SQUIRREL!” and not to have my soul dragged out of my body and spend the next 15 minutes depression-eating popcorn and I can’t wait for Shirley to go home and very clearly experience it for the first time because she’s been suckered into it

oh babe, you’re in for it.
Am I slightly surprised that the first Up themed routine we’ve had was “my wife suffered a miscarriage and it derailed our entire life plan” and not “boy scout with funny dog do a Charleston”? Yes – that ballpit of ferrets really does throw out some curveballs.

Craig did still take a little bit too much joy in bellowing “FOUR!” at the two of them

but with Nikita very obviously having stomped her lost stomp and no Les Dennis on hand to wobble his way through a Jive to Time Warp while dressed as Riff Raff, this was potentially his last opportunity to do so.
Speaking of Riff Raffs – for no other reason than it being ingrained in my memory FOREVER, remember Seething Bald-capped Brendan Cole?

that WHOLE moment between him and Len was Strictly at its finest and it is ALL preserved in glorious 240p by the Michelle Williams stans of YouTube. We will probably never touch that level of divine reality tv nonsense on Strictly ever again. Strong contender for the Retro Halloween Supplement.

Craig: 4
Motsi: 5
Shirley: 5
Anton: 9

Agents E & K
Couple’s Choice / Men In Black – Men In Black

The thing with Couple’s Choice is that it always has to come with an overly sincere and/or emotional VT which works when you’re about to do the first ever Contemporary Disco Waft for your dead sister and less so when you come out like a ragingly horny dungeon mistress

and Movie Week makes it even more disparate because I am going to spend the ENTIRE VT waiting for the penny to drop as to what possible emotional reason you could have for wanting to do a Men In Black themed routine. Sadly it turns out there wasn’t one BECAUSE WHY WOULD THERE BE? Nontheless, it’s a Couple’s Choice so it had to be dedicated to… the nebulous concept of familial love… you know, just like Men In Black. But truly the reason for the MiB routine was the fact the graphic operators had got their hands on the Interplanetary Expansion Pack and mum said they could stay up late to try it out

I did not have high hopes for what the inevitable badly animated alien would look like but when hench Mike Wazowski plonked down from the ceiling I felt true joy – the cherry on top was when he appeared again at the end of the routine and, for lack of a better phrase, was sucked off but the sound effect for it only triggered a full 3 seconds too late

and yes, the fact they did have to go to a super wide shot to accommodate the absolutely necessary sexy alien (I SAID IT) the fact Eddie was handling Katya like she was the Big Mystery Fish™ from an episode of River Monsters that’s ALWAYS a sturgeon did get kind of lost

two uses of the DeviantArt Mike Wazowski did also mean there was no budget left for the portion of the routine where Karen and Eddie were having to pretend to slide around high tech projected computer screens so the two of them just looked like two Dungeons and Dragons nerds roleplaying a spellcaster battle

Karen, that’s an illegal use of a double shield reaction.
They had really gone all out with the furnishings of this routine for maximum MiB authenticity and I’m sure whoever found the authentic egg chairs was very proud of themself

as was whoever repurposed the the Glade air freshener as the neuralyzer

you’ll lose your short term memory in a hazy scent of clean linen and lily of the valley, which might explain Shirley going off the deep end for this routine

but I can see that it might have been hard not to be completely glamoured by the moment Eddie and Karen simultaneously lept like a pair of spawning salmon (a lot of fish stuff going on here – SHARK TALE CAR WASH CHA CHA WHEN?)

it’s going to be hard to beat this as my favourite screenshot of the series but I welcome everyone to try.

The best part of Shirley’s premature 10 was the fact clearly nobody thought this routine deserved a 10 because Nikita looked like he was watching the universe collapse when Shirley started doing her rhyme

and Karen herself was just very frankly “what the fuck ?”-ing directly to camera

meanwhile, Zara was just thrilled by an 8

inside of you are two cats.

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

Mario & Princess Peach Princess Daisy Toadette BIRDO? Fine, I’ll Be Luigi
Jive / Take On Me – The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Apparently the only 2023 property to make enough of an impact to warrant immediate Strictly-fication is the Super Mario Brothers Movie – which is also the second ever Nintendo property to make it this far, the first of course being the Pokemon Paso Doble which was the Strictly makeup team at their most chaotic and evil

every year I burn a bundle of sage to ward off Gamer Week.
I also forgot that that routine opens with Will Bayley screaming “POKÉ DOBLE, I CHOOSE YOU!” and it’s a level of cringe (and I hate to use that word) that I haven’t experienced in a while – it was made worse as I accidentally had my volume at 100% because I had been method recapping and giving myself the full Luba experience of having a man screaming into my right ear all the time

she’s going to have Manchester accented tinnitus for the rest of her life – she’s in for quite the compensatory pay out because they both owe her for that and the moustache they obscured a good deal of her face with

never underestimate the abilities of the Strictly Come Dancing witness protection programme – when was the last time you saw the Medium-sized Horse?

Of course because the Super Mario Brothers Movie was one of the biggest kids movies of 2023 and will probably be the jewel in the BBC’s Children’s Christmas TV Schedule Crown, Adam had to go and watch it with his wife and kids

… and Luba, of course

the disparity between his wife, clutching their two kids and dog while wearing beige luxury merino wool loungewear and Luba hurriedly throwing a blazer over her sports bra like she didn’t truly know what this filming set-up would involve because the last time she did movie week she got a 4 hour lecture about how Rian Johnson had ruined Star Wars

I’m sorry – Adam’s wife just laughed a little bit too hard at the reveal that Luba would be Luigi for me to not insist that they hate one another

the kids did not budge, much like Adam during all the more flexible moments in the routine

at last, the millenial with backache representation I can identify with! But what the routine may have lacked in flexibility and nimbleness (this jump is… it’s like a cat saw its reflection in the mirror for the first time)

they did make up for in cardiovascular crowdwork

there was A LOT of this routine that just felt like Luba was running a fitness bootcamp – I’m sure she’s just thrilled that she finally has a partner that has more dance ability than the average pick-up truck – Cars themed paso doble to Cars on the Road WHEN?

I imagine Cars is also on the list of franchises that Strictly will never touch but they could put wheels on Angela Rippon and call her a bike

I do think the judges forgave a lot of the RUNNIN’ ABAHT on the grounds they were convinced that it must have looked better at home with all the overlayed graphics…

it was… certainly busier and bootleggedness of the Not Quite MarioVerse lent the routine a quaint knock-off of Mario 64 you bought at the Harare flea market in 1998 called “PlumberBoy 69” vibe

I don’t know if they have a “team name” yet or even if they have a big enough fanbase to have been granted one but they will now be Team ALDUABMA to me forever.

Craig wasn’t quite as forgiving as the other three judges – he obviously brings his own flask in and wasn’t drinking the same Kool-Aid but even after he called it stiff and stilted, Adam still had the bravery to shout “I DID WELL DIDN’T I!” at his brother and immediately regretted it when three seconds later Craig scored him a 5

what’s the opposite of a Safety Sex Face?

Craig: 5
Motsi: 7
Shirley: 7
Anton: 7

Emcee and Sally Bowles
Charleston / Money, Money – Cabaret

Well, if you want to know who isn’t winning the Drag Race family resemblance challenge any time soon

I do hope he wore that home and just sat there eating his tea while his son sweated bullets as he wondered quite how bad a Matchmaker from Mulan themed Charleston could be

they were of course doing cabaret, which his son still agreed to come sit in the audience for despite full well knowing there would be a projectile hat involved

and he did a great job of being Solemnly Approving Gen Z Audience Member (because *someone* wasn’t pulling her weight)

those were the actual subtitles when Claudia had everyone cheer for him – the caption writers were having a great time between that and Lauren going all out on the fart noises

Krishnan sadly didn’t get in on the farting – he does have to leave at least a part of his reputable career intact because those “he bruised his son’s shin with a top hat” allegations will haunt him.

One of the best things about Movie Week, and potentially its only redeeming quality, is it does always deliver a surprise and if 5 weeks ago you had told me that Krishnan Guru-Murthy was going to be doing a Cabaret Charleston I would have had multiple concerns. And also been very intrigued as to which man in his life had slighted him

sadly no corsets, human vehicles or extremely pointed jabs at Quentin Tarantino were on display

BUT! It was still a surprisingly good Charleston – granted I think you can easily hide some of the less good dancing behind the characterisation of your Emcee, as well as Lauren doing this (you decide where the fart noise goes)

but the fact Krishnan can, and did, pull off a very good characterisation of Emcee is in and of itself a fun surprise – he certainly won’t be getting an Acting Class from a man that’s appeared in Doctors 3 times as different characters

I miss him more and more every day.

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

And that’s it for Movie Week 2023! See you in the Results Show Recap!

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

5 thoughts on “Strictly 2023, Movie Week, Main Show: Manchester Accented Tinnitus

  1. Jo Atkinson

    I always love a good Ariadne recap, and this one hits all the right spots! I loved that you did a retro section as well, because yes, I too bemoan the lack of quality archive footage. I loved Kara and Artem back in the day, and I think some of the dances I loved are disappearing off youtube. I’ll happily petition for you to have access to the BBC archives and get your mitts on the good stuff. I don’t know how, but I had managed to erase the pokemon paso from my memory, so uh, thanks for bringing that back! X_X The Anton Pirate to Baked Bean morph? Absolute triumph. Your gift for weaving popular culture into your recaps is what makes you so good at them, and I always look forward to reading them 🙂 <3

  2. cofruitrigus

    It’s probably just the hair but Bobby’s giving me more Zeffirelli’s Romeo than Lurman’s? Great work as always! I gasped at the alien getting sucked off.

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