The buttons have been banished and nature is healing.
This recap has been cryogenically frozen.
Krishnan & Lauren
Samba / Bamboleo – Gipsy Kings
Of course the only way to start the Remembrance Weekend Strictly is with a very respectful cocktail bar samba as we pour one out for Are Troops™ – I hope they like a dirty martini
apparently wardrobe is really feeling yellow and blue for their potential Disaster Latins this year
although thankfully this one came with significantly less sudden and acute existential dread because Lauren managed to at least find 1 samba move that Krishnan enjoyed doing so a significant portion of it was spent dancing like an idling Quaquavel
it was pretty clear that Krishnan hadn’t quite gelled with the rest of the routine, he was just a little bit stiff and once again doing a lot of samba walking that mostly just felt like walking
his samba rolls weren’t as smooth as they’d need to be in Week 8 and he looked more like someone doing particularly well on a mechanical bull than the star of the Rio Carnival
I do applaud Lauren for not attempting the hide the very apparent gap in dance ability between Krishnan and the rest of the cast with some sort of horrendous gimmick – she could have easily wasted 30 seconds of the dance lowering Krishnan from the ceiling on an MDF guitar, and perhaps in retrospect she might have wanted to
obviously that was being saved for Blackpool so we’ll never get to see that or how Claudia is going to top an extremely high quality life-size cut-out of Jay
how much could it possibly cost to have his face rendered in the Blackpool illuminations? I was trying to work out when they could possibly have had the time to make the life-sized cut out but it could have been any time within the last 8 weeks because Jay, like most university age guys, owns exactly 1 polo shirt that he wears everywhere. Was he even there every night or were they just replaying the same stock footage? Does he even really exist? Welcome to my seminar on Jay Trutherism.
Bobby Brazier & Dianne “Florence Griffith Joyner” Buswell
American Smooth / Ghost of You – 5 Seconds of Summer
For a VT that opened with Dianne meticulously explaining what an American Smooth was
this sure did all go absolutely nowhere
I’m not sure it’s ever been this apparent that someone who has got as far as Bobby has is only taking part on the whim of their agent alone – he just woke up one day with a DM on Instagram saying “Strictly?” liked it with a single heart emoji and the rest is history. BUT QUICK! Deploy the Heartwarming Family VT Smokescreen
and of course you have to make sure that Bobby’s National Television Award is constantly in frame
it’s not nearly as unsubtle as HRVY’s family always sitting in front of his framed and mounted discography awards and I wouldn’t blame it if you thought it was a Saachi inspired knick knack straight off of Not On The Highstreet, where I imagine they also got the stealthy little FUCK that made it onto Saturday night primetime (which is also what I call Bobby)
but at least everyone was wearing a poppy.
To the dancefloor where Bobby is… playing the role of one of the Pevensie children being evacuated to a countryside estate during World War 2, obviously he’s an Edmond in Peter clothing, he’d sell Dianne down the river for subpar confectionary in a heartbeat
naturally Dianne is playing the nebulous and illusive concept of Narnia in one of her signature contemporary ballroom numbers that is but 4 metres of excess fabric away from looking like two Kleenex caught in an updraft
if they’re not going to add “Contemporary Ballroom” as a category like Dancing With The Stars Ireland has, Dianne is going to force it into existence one obscene move through her partner’s legs at a time
you would think that Dianne slipping between Bobby’s legs like a toddler escaping the clutches of a parent would be the strangest move she could pull in a ballroom number however a large amount of this routine came across as Dianne desperately trying to escape Bobby and when she ran out of illusive choreography she just… pulled the sort of madwoman sprint worthy of only the most tragic heroine in a Victorian gothic horror novel who is slowly losing her mind
there’s a version of this dance to Wuthering Heights that I would be very interested in watching – naturally it would also involve the two of them fighting on the staircase with a sword and a candlestick
Shirley was particularly impressed with the coverage of the floor which is certainly one way of describing Dianne tiring out Bobby like she was trying to escape a feral honey badger – which is some fair praise and I’ll take that over Anton feigning absolute astonishment to the point of it coming across as slightly sarcastic
both he and Shirley thought this was the first time they’d truly felt like Bobby was leading the dance, which is understandable because neither of them were privy to Dianne dragging him to turn in the right direction however for Craig, it was Bobby’s hands that were the issue, and Dianne should really have known better than to have the man with the wingspan of an albatross doing the sort of contempowafting shadow work only the most sylph-like of dancers can get away with
Dianne looks like she’s some sort of fay spirit of Greek mythology that will probably love you and curse you in equal measure whereas Bobby looks like he’s in the middle of a 6 year cross-Atlantic flight (SURPRISE BIRD FACT! – Albatrosses are ridiculous.) And all this talk of big phalanges was a nice Argentine Tango pre-game for Horndog Tess
that’s the face of a woman fighting impulsive thoughts.
And Motsi was trying to spin the general bad vibes of Bobby chasing a woman around the dancefloor into gold
extremely me in 2008 defending Edward Cullen energy.
Angela Rippon & Kai Widdrington
Paso Doble / Hung Up – Madonna
Well, apparently Angela should have read the fine print of her contract a little more carefully because after 7 weeks of the most carefully curated BBC Luvvie run in Strictly history (Big Band Latin, vintage crooner ballrooms, high camp gubbins) the goodwill seems to have expired and instead of trussing Angela up in the traditional trappings of an authentic Paso the entire wardrobe and makeup department threw 7 weeks of pent up nonsense at her all at once
they both appear to be dressed as the front seats of a Chevrolet Impala and Angela appears to have been styled as Rick from Rick and Morty
so Kai is now two for two on aesthetically befuddling Paso Dobles after his and AJ’s apocalyptic Kansan windfarm
and now his and Angela’s Cyberpunk 2077 steampunk virtual reality
the boy just really loves to stomp his way across a dystopian future, and naturally because the the song explicitly mentions time and it takes a lot of power to time travel to the year 2077, Angela had to serve as his Adult Human Pocket Watch in order to wind the clock forward
there’s a whole essay to be written about this show objectifying women as timepieces and one day I will write “It Takes Ten-Past-Two to Tango” as my magnum opus but for now we’re just stuck with extremely ugly paso doble that even Angela seemed to think was going on for too long (I cannot stress how much I hated it)
the weirdest part of it is the fact they so obviously wanted to get Angela to Blackpool and they must have known that the Blade Runner cuckoo clock wasn’t going to be a real vote getter – it’s on the same side of uncannily unrecognisable as Graziano in questionable cat face paint and there’s nothing like an overwhelming migraine of a theme to make your footwork and choreography seem a little bit sloppy, although the judges disagree and threw a string of 8s at her with Anton praising the “lack of wafting and faffing” which is understandable after Dianne’s 90 seconds of avoiding any Viennese Waltz content in a Viennese American Smooth but did he forget the full 20 seconds of playing Hickory Dickory Dock at the beginning?
and absolutely not helping the Angela Rippon Blackpool Conspiracy Train (which I am the conductor of, CHOO CHOO!) was Shirley pointing out the moment Angela nearly went arse over anime OC hairstyle as Icarus high kicked too close to the sun and melted his waxen hip
and saying “it doesn’t matter!”
don’t worry, sometime within the next 5 hours it did start mattering, and of course the whole thing was garnished with just a touch of patronisation
Shirley, she’s famously the oldest Strictly contestant and 16 whole years older than you but perhaps the cryogenic freezing really paid off
Tired: Angela Rippon being dragged to Blackpool.
Wired: Angela Rippon has been Cryogenically frozen and sealed in a vault below the Tower Ballroom to be dug up in 100 years time and has for the time being been replaced by the most sophisticated piece of artificial intelligence known to man: Emma Barton in a wig.
Nigel Harman & Katya Jones
Couple’s Choice / Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars
Couple’s Choice time so that means a trip down memory lane
for some reason his Wikipedia entry doesn’t make nearly as big an issue of his Olivier Award as it does the 4 times he won Sexiest Male at the various Soap Awards (which serves as an interesting insight into the precise moment someone stops being Peak Sexy – 33 years old, apparently)
I knew Nigel had won an Olivier Award, I hadn’t realised what role it was for – I had just assumed it was for something boring like Guys & Dolls and not because he’d spent a year crouched behind a blanket jiggling a pair of fake legs as Lord Farquaad in Shrek: The Musical
remember when I thought Nigel’s gimmick was going to be meditation and wellness and instead it’s become tossing a coin as to whether you get an entirely new personality or the sort of anecdote your estranged father blurts out because there’s been too long a silence at the dinner table
he’s either James McAvoy in Split or Kirk Van Houten from The Simpsons, either way I imagine he sleeps in a racecar bed.
Had they led with the 4 Sexiest Male Awards, this probably would have been a very different routine (Couple’s Choice to Pony by Ginuwine, WHEN?) but because we’re choosing to focus on the Olivier and the nebulous concept of love over your mum getting a bit flustered at 7pm on a weekday
we got Lala Land instead of Magic Mike [tone indicator unclear but well done to Nigel for saving Jazz]
and it was a cute routine, I think Katya is a very good narrative choreographer and she always puts something interesting in, it’s not always successful and it’s not always pretty, but you know, her crawling along the floor like Spongebob slowly morphing into a snail was… at least new
you would be forgiven for thinking that the amount of time spent crawling on the floor like a mollusc that this routine was very Dianne Buswell coded – and it was given there was also a strong sense of contemporary ballroom and as though it could be used in an advert for fabric softener
but at the same time it felt like it might have been a child’s ballet recital which I blame on there perhaps being a few too many jumps but I can’t begrudge them because I fully believe Katya added so many because Nigel just really liked jumping
and there’s something very joyous about watching a 50 year old man attempting to sissonne like he’s doing his primary dance exam
I am the parent holding the camcorder trying not to cry because I’m just so proud of my 4 times Sexiest Male Award winning son – scrap my essay on feminine ticking timebombs, we’re diverting to Strictly’s dismantling of toxic masculinity and whether it’s on purpose or just a happy little accident because on one hand you’ve got literally everything everyone else is doing and on the other you’ve got Giovanni staring into the middle distance as the crushing weight of being perceived sinks in.
Ellie Leach & Vito Coppola’s Shirt Allergy
Rumba / True Colours – Cyndi Lauper
Despite the fact their VT played out like a scene someone used to buff out their NaNoWriMo entry that definitely wasn’t just a Vampire Diaries fanfic that they’re going to accidentally send to their Film Studies tutor instead of their essay on Darren Aronofsky as an auteur
Vito insists that this was not a FILTHY, DIRTY, YOU’VE BEEN A VERY BAD GIRL Rumba this was actually a deeply personal insight into Ellie’s growing confidence as a dancer with Vito playing… a fraction of Ellie herself
and between that, the pastel colour choices of her dress
the tasteful rainbow sparkles
and the fact they were dancing to the “When Will My Reflection Show?” of synth-rock this may have been the most accidentally Trans coded dance since that time Brendan Cole and Lulu had a crisis of gender
Despite the fact Vito was apparently doing his best to keep the sexy subtextual (sure babe, that’s why the tits were out)
this did not stop Anton going absolutely rigid for a Rope Spin
shush Craig, Anton’s average Rumba score is only 20, let him get his rocks off on the rope spin.
A Retro Recap Supplement
Mollie King & AJ Pritchard
A Disaster / Whenever, Wherever – Shakira
You’d be forgiven for thinking I had already recapped this dance because I bring it up FAR TOO often but truly Mollie and AJ’s Samba is my Roman Empire, or at least my Medium-sized Ancient Egyptian Empire
Was there ANY reason for this routine to be dressed loosely as Ancient Egypt? No, but I guess we should just be happy they hadn’t dressed AJ up as Tutankhamun or made them do the “walk like an Egyptian dance” instead what we got was Mollie samba rolling like a slowly unfurling springroll
while Bruno screamed for help from the sidelines as he watched the two of them absolutely murder the very concept of a samba
while Mollie and and AJ were having very different ideas of facial expressions to pull to camera
Mollie did not know where she was during this entire routine, she was just being gyroscoped into a sense of complete incorporeal nothingness and poor AJ was left to navigate her around the dancefloor like he was a mafia goon disposing of a carpet-wrapped body in the Hudson River.
Mollie never was much of a Latin girlie and she was middlingly fine at ballroom at best, I think she only ever scored over 30 like 2 or 3 times which is wild for semi-finalist, as is being scored a 4 in Week 12 of the competition
but my God if I didn’t love that every time they did a Latin number AJ would include an entire bridge of Mollie dancing like an early 2010s Emma Stone character because she was physically incapable of anything else
their Salsa is also worth a revisit, it’s not better.
Angela Scanlon and Carlos Gu
Waltz / With You I’m Born Again – Billy Preston & Syreeta
There’s nothing quite like a beautifully inoffensive waltz to truly stump the snark – I was very tempted to just sub in the recap of her Black Swan paso that’s sitting in my drafts but then the judges decided that they would find something to discourse about amongst themselves, and none of it was about how just over 30 seconds of a 2 minute routine were spent with Angela on her knees having re-assumed the role of swan
we’ve found her niche – she’s like the WB Frog but instead of only being able to dance when nobody’s watching, she can only dance when she’s spiritually connected to waterfowl – she goose honked her way through her Charleston, evil swan’d through a paso and now glided elegantly through her waltz like a swan that knows it’s better than you
I was bullied by a swan for three years while at University in York, consider me triggered.
The consternation amongst the judges was that Craig thought there was “an unforgivable amount of gapping” and then lumped her in with everyone else that had been given the default 7
nobody else agreed with him, least of all the audience who booed so loudly the camera began shaking but my favourite part about it, and I can’t screenshot it and I can’t afford to waste any of my storage space on a 3 second video, was Tess’s absolutely scandalised “What? NO!” after he said it – she was all in on this routine, she sounded like she was going to burst into song as she welcomed Angela over
the other judges all loved it and were out for Craig’s blood
Shirley went so far as to say it was the best footwork she’d seen in a waltz this series, which wasn’t hard considering there haven’t been that many and one of them was Angela Rippon doing more of a fart than a fleckerl but somewhere I imagine Adam was scandalised, in lieu of an appropriate screenshot, here’s Basic Man Seat Filler James Bye looking as though he was wondering where his sharing packet of M&Ms has got to
as one default male supreme dies, another shall rise.
Layton Williams & Nikita Kuzmin
Argentine Tango / Tattoo – Loreen
Well, it looks like we have a little bit of contention over the rights to the Team Aubergine title – in one corner you have Vito Coppola’s Suspicious Parmigiana
and in the other orner you have Layton and Nikita’s incredibly snappy purple suits
and the only way to resolve this Eggplant Thunderdome situation is with sexy mud wrestling, those are just the rules.
This was of course our third Argentine Tango and you know what they say, third time’s the charm – I was not a big fan of Rippon’s and I hated Bobby’s, THIS ONE HOWEVER – much like an all too eagerly grinning Horndog Tess, shook me
there are parts of this routine that felt genuinely impossible and a complete defiance of the laws of physics as they pertain to the human body or as though their legs should have ended up tangled like a bowl of spaghetti, which is always a good sign of a great Argentine Tango
as was the fact Shirley blue screened afterwards and completely stopped computing
Shirley.exe has very much stopped working, please restart or call the number of the manufacturer under her left foot. But she wasn’t the only one, the whole audience was giving a prolonged standing ovation and Nikita’s Argentine Tango Persona, much like Tinkerbell, continued to live as long as they clapped while Layton woobie faced to the middle distance like his life depended on it
oh he has had this Nikitatine Tango brewing inside of him ever since they wouldn’t let Tilly Ramsay so much as make direct eye contact with the dance and you can tell how pleased he was with how this had gone from his shit eating grin as the standing ovation entered its second minute
he’s a humble king though
and it was at this point that Motsi lost complete control and descended into full mother at sports day foghorn mode
and then dubbed the routine as being untouchably iconic
before caveating it as “within the Strictly universe” in case someone wanted to open a tin of Argentine worms
and guess who’s got her can opener at the ready
it’s the slightly passive aggressive “I have been all over the world” for me.
It was very obvious this was heading for a very high score and given none of the judges had offered a single critique, including Craig who had been crapping on everyone else all evening
so a very real chance of a 40 and then…. a complete wet fart
I would like a full 2000 word explanation or else I will be joining Motsi in asking God to smite him
you have until Friday.
And that’s it for Week 8! The Results Show will be up later in the week and then it’s off to Blackpool!
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