Yes, that’s right it’s Halloween week, or as I prefer to call it ‘Crimp your hair and paint your face white’ week. But if the quite frankly terrifying image of Anton Du Beke dressed as a scarecrow was not harrowing enough for you, then the arrival of Halloween week is further reinforced by the arrival of those hideous scripted VTs and the presence of last year’s contender Lisa Riley and Judy [you know, Tim’s mum] Murray’s presence in the audience. Judy’s connections to Strictly, anyone?
We are nearly at the half way point of the competition which means ‘Journeys’are starting to emerge, although it hasn’t been a vintage year thus far for the much loved ‘Emotional Rollercoaster’. All we’ve cobbled together is that Ashley [Taylor-Dawson] is very tired, Fiona [Fullerton]gets nervous (but then so would I when faced with performing a Rumba to mid-tempo Westlife),Patrick [Robinson] has a baddie hand and Sophie [Ellis-Bextor] fails to be forever overshadowed by her fabulous Charleston.
Meanwhile at the top of the leaderboard, things are as you were. No one can come close to Natalie [Gumede] in terms of technicality and the judges seemed to be marking her on her own personal ‘Natalie scale’. If her performances had been turned out by anyone else it would be 10s across the board, but of course, in the producer’s efforts to create a bit of faux suspense she has been held firmly with 8s and 9s until Darcey and Bruno finally gave in this week and produced the inevitable 10s. A little unfortunate it would seem, for one of the more low impact dances. It will be interesting to see if Artem challenges her with some wild choreography in coming weeks. I only hope he didn’t use up all of his material on ex-partners Kara Tointon and Holly Valance.
BBC Breakfast’s Susanna Reid has remained impressively consistent. She throws herself into the character of each dance without so much of a hint of self consciousness which has paid off in the judges’ scores. Unlike Natalie she has come from nothing in terms of dance training making her achievements even more inspiring. Moreover her relationship with partner, Kevin-from-Grimsby has made them a highly likeable partnership. I’d be surprised not to see them make the semi-finals.
Abbey Clancy also remains consistent but this week’s visit to the bottom two suggests she might not have nailed the public vote. She had already played the cute child card a couple of weeks ago, so things must be a little tense. Her Rumba was largely praised by the judges but for me her Latin routines are becoming a little predictable with pouting, posing, Aljaz taking the role of the sexy Frankenstein and not much else. Her standout dance remains the Tango, full of drive, intent and drama. Hopefully she can turn out more performances like this.
Returning to Halloween week – there were notable performances from comedy favourites Dave Myers and Mark Benton, although not always for the right reasons. Mark’s partner, Iveta is emerging as one of the greatest professional additions in recent years. Not only due to her pedigree as a Ten Dance champion but for her ability to perform numerous comedy routines delivered with the sternest of poker faces, this week she unveiled her ‘deadpan disco face’ whilst performing (near naked) the campest of Pasodoble’s to I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper. Lady Gaga has nothing on this girl.
Other moments of joy: previously despatched professional Robin Windsor regularly lurking back of shot behind Tess Daly, casually stood in skin-tight mesh vest and zebra print trousers; Bruce calling Darcey, Dave and everyone pretending it was fine (yah?); various professionals obvious distain for delivering scripted lines in the awful VTs (undoubtedly this is done best by Rachel Riley’s partner, Pasha). Ben Cohen’s topless Pasodoble combined with partner Kristina’s crazy-wide-eyed glare indicating her first half decent contender in three years. The girl has already got their Showdance all worked out.
With newly departed Rachel it remains to be seen whether this will jolt the public into some sensible voting, although with Blackpool approaching and more inevitably themed weeks, this seems doubtful. We should perhaps be thankful though, that there is no Wembley this series. As Dave might say, “Bin worse, Tessa.”
First published on LondonDance.com