TV Review: Strictly Come Dancing, BBC One, Saturday 1 November, 6.05pm


Although it pains me to do so – because in the event that I’m ever moved to vote (although it hasn’t happened yet), I won’t be able to – I had to watch this week’s Strictly Come Dancing on the iPlayer again. It’s just on too early, right around my little boy’s bedtime. Surely classic Saturday night entertainment could be a teensy bit later…?

But I am pregnant and one of the more annoying things about pregnancy is waking up at odd hours and being WIDE awake. So I was up and catching up with the events of last night’s Strictly at 5.30am. Was it worth it? It certainly was.

Like its US counterpart, Dancing With the Stars, Strictly is at the half-way point. It doesn’t feel like it to me, I feel like we’ve only just got going. Although Phil Daniels does seem like a long time ago. And, like Dancing With the Stars, the couples were each doing a different dance this week. I like that. It’s harder to compare quality, but variety keeps things interesting.

I found at the beginning of this week’s show that I was actually feeling rather fond of old Brucie. He made a joke about Simon Cowell, then he commented on the “beautiful women” and said, “If I was 10 years younger…” I was thinking that he could be 50 years younger and still be in with a shot with a few of them and I just felt… aaah, national treasure. It’s probably a form of Stockholm Syndrome…

Austin Healy was out first with the quickstep, which is one of my favourite dances. There was nothing really in the choreography to thrill me, but all the way through I was thinking, “God, he’s good.” His footwork looked flawless to me, it just didn’t excite me. I expected the judges to love it and Len called it “perfection”. Bruno called it “majestic”. Craig said he spotted two timing issues, but he loved it. Arlene called it “dazzling” and “as exciting as Lewis Hamilton in the Formula 1”. See, I wouldn’t find that the least bit exciting either. Len gave it a 10, but it was an 8 and two 9s from the other judges. (How unlike Bruno to mark lower than Len!)

Brian Fortuna carried Heather Small down the stairs at the beginning – I think they may be trying to show a bit of personality. They gave their cha cha cha a big build up, but it was… all over the place. At times she looked like she was loving it and going for it. At other times, she looked like she was being flung around the floor and she didn’t really know what she was doing. At one point, I shouted, “Dance, woman!” because she looked like she was walking it. Arlene called it “sluggish”, which is a good word for it. It looked like she was doing it for the millionth time and she’d had enough.

I really liked Jodie Kidd’s waltz. She looked like a Disney Princess and it was a rather Disney dance. It gave me the shivers at one point, which is the first for a while. Despite liking it, Craig called it a bit “too saccarine, too Mills & Boon” and I agree. If he’d said “Disney” I would’ve punched the air. Len liked it too, but said she should’ve been doing heel leads and instead she was “all balls”. Is it wrong that I’m 37, but I still laugh whenever Len says “balls”?

I said last week that this week should be Andrew Castle’s week to go, but, on the basis of his samba, I’m not so sure. It was a total “Dad dance” but it made me laugh quite a lot. Also, he crocked his knee in training, so that might have got him some sympathy votes. I agree with Arlene that he needs to let himself go. He’s still too careful and, at this point in the competition, it’s not good enough.

My favourite from last week, Lisa Snowdon, did the tango this week and I loved it again. I realised about halfway through that I was holding my breath. She looked amazing and I also realised that I might be a bit in love with her, which is funny because it’s usually Brendan I’m in love with. Her best dance so far by quite a way, I think. She got three 9s and an 8.

I saw Anton du Beke on It Takes Two during the week and he praised James Jordan for choreographing Cherie Lunghi brilliantly. He said that he designs each dance in a tempo she can cope with. I would never have noticed that, but, if he’s right (and I’m sure he is), she was very lucky to get the partner she got. I’ve gone off her a bit though because I thought she was overmarked last week (after the disastrous opening).

Anyway, if you thought last week’s opening was bad, that was what the entire dance was like this week. I actually ended up hiding my eyes. For the first time, she actually looked like the oldest contestant and she messed it up repeatedly. The judges didn’t have many good things to say about it, but I thought they were still too kind. She reminded me of Kate Garraway. Awful.

If Andrew Castle doesn’t go this week, it should be John Sergeant. Again, cute as he is, he’s no dancer. This week he had a foxtrot, which could count against him. He’s better at ballroom, but his latin is a lot funnier. Christina is brilliant though because they danced to I Wanna Be Loved By You and she, of course, is a total and utter blonde bombshell. She did all the dancing though. John said he’d like to stay in another week, because he’s almost lost two stone and another week might do the trick. Bless him.

Tom Chambers’ paso doble was a weird one. It had loads of great elements, but it just didn’t say paso to me for some reason. I think it might be because he looks like such a – and I apologise, but there’s no other word for it – cock. Entertainingly, the judges had a big row about the use of the cape, with Len thinking it’s a gimmick and the others all loving it.

Christine Bleakley’s american smooth was lovely, but it didn’t thrill me. She looked gorgeous, the music (Singing in the Rain) was perfect, but she’s starting to look gawky again. Also, I think they must have missed up at some point because they finished before the music ended. Bruno said her top half was singing in the rain, but her bottom half was dancing in a puddle. Arlene said her top half was Hollywood, while her bottom half was dead wood. Heh.

Rachel Stevens’ jive was really cute (she looked like Tinkerbell), but at times Vincent seemed to put in too many tricks and it was a bit awkward (“sticky transitions”, Craig said), but she looked like Tinkerbell. I thought it was still a teeny bit tentative. Len was disappointed saying it was “competent” but it didn’t wow him. Maybe they need to take Rachel to an acting coach (did you ever watch Miami 7?) and get her to let go a bit more.

At the end, Austin and Erin were top and John and Kristina bottom. And I realised I’ve been spelling “Kristina” wrong all these weeks. Sorry about that.

A much, much better show than last week. Shame they can’t all do different dances every week…

Oh, so I need to make a prediction, don’t I? Let’s see. I’d like to say Andrew and John in the bottom two with John going home, but I think it might be Heather and John in the bottom two… with John going home. Actually, I’m not even sure of that. It pains me to say it, but I can see Heather and Christine in the bottom two. With Heather going home. There. That’s not hedging my bets, is it?

Strictly Come Dancing, BBC One, Sunday 2 November, 8.15pm

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