Strictly Come Dancing: Six things from Week 10 to talk about
PUBLISHED: 07:16 26 November 2018 | UPDATED: 07:16 26 November 2018
Strictly Come Dancing took a dramatic turn as Graeme Swann was voted off, but why was Ashley Roberts in the dance off? Why were the judges in such a mess? And why was Rod Stewart dressed like an extra from Sharpe?
It was a rich seam of Strictly in the TV guide bedrock this week, delivering on everything you can hope for on live television: things going very well and things going very wrong.
Stacey Dooley and Faye Tozer delivered some great dances, the judges lost their collective marbles and Ashley Roberts discovered that her gyration doth buttered no parsnips.
Rod Stewart also turned up for some lumpy crooning. Thanks Rod.
With so much to unpack before Musicals Week (a deluxe afterthought lost in the sea of Blackpool and Lindyhop-athon gimmicks) we best get to work:
Avid readers will know I’ve used this pun before - and if it wasn’t so elegant I would not have to use it twice.
A very humble exit from the rank outsider Graeme Swann this weekend. Punching well above his weight in Week 10 was quite a feat, but his shock opponent in unpopular popstar Ashley Roberts consigned him to the Strictly bin.
Usually the judges can fall back on such torturous catchphrases as “This is such a hard decision” and “ You both really gave it your all”, but with the chasm between the two so wide, they were swapped for “This is a no-brainer” and “The much stronger couple on EVERY level” - it was pretty savage.
Maybe next week they can set the Strictly lions on whoever loses as a sign of their disrespect.
He and Oti were never going to win but they were good value Saturday night entertainment, like Scott Mills as a crab or Naga Munchetty as a mermaid... and Swann was a sailor? Is it a coincidence or is there an unconscious BBC bias against nautical-themed numbers?
More on this conspiracy as it develops.
Almost danced it too well
Alexandra Burke was in the audience this week to exorcise some demons. Plagued by a lack of public support but limping onto the final, she was in the dance-off twice despite leading the competition from the final. Enter Ashley Roberts.
Ashley has been first or second on the leaderboard every week, despite getting her lowest score for five weeks with a Samba.
There was a lot of flack for her lack of ‘bounce’ but praise sung of her ‘gyration’ - there are technical ‘terms’ I as an armchair heckler feel I should not bandy about like a pro.
She has seemed personable and her Contemporary dance in honour of her father brought tears to the eyes of viewers, but apparently this goodwill and lack of a profile in the UK has left her in danger of elimination from almost anywhere on the leaderboard.
You could see the cogs in her brain jamming as she stood talking to the judges after getting the Red Light of Doom - she was not prepared for that.
The BBC will not reveal the effect the public vote has on the leaderboard or the number of votes cast - even under Freedom of Information requests - so Ashley might just have been left alone by voters mistaking her for a safe bet to go through.
It was great TV though. Almost as good as these four...
A nation as one rubbernecked a televised car crash on Saturday night. So keen were the producers to impress the importance of the Lindyhop-athon (strike me please) that they forced it into every segment with Claudia, every It Takes Two show - even the podcast bristled with more name-drops than the new BBC Sounds app.
Fresh from her Friday night seminar and booze-up at Prue Leith’s Judging 101, Shirley Ballas proceeded to read the results in the wrong order, causing TessBot 3000 to melt down and leave Winkleman to steer the show from the rocks.
Not content with letting that cat out the bag, she also got the professionals mixed up, at one point awarding an unknown number of points to Charles and Diane.
The judges and hosts couldn’t even hold it together for a recap on Saturday night, as the life raft of Claudia’s presenting skills was punctured, mistakenly reordering the points from the extra group dance to the wrong couples for a short time.
It would have been less poetic if the challenge had not had An Idiot’s Guide To Lindyhop-athons presented in a VT with Shirley just moments before.
Couples Choice of the week: Joe goes full High School Musical in a ball-heavy routine that split the judges. Craig and Darcey gave a seven and eight, but the booze-some twosome of Shirley and Bruno gave it a 10 each.
It cannot be stressed enough - there was a lot of ballwork. The props were on theme for the basketball motif but with neither Joe or Diane knowing how to do anything other than roll it down their backs roughly in sync, it was all really weird.
Craig wanted to see “more grunge, earth and homeboy” - truly speaking for a nation there, Craig.
Before Blackpool, Lauren and AJ looked to be turning a corner on the dancefloor. She was adding character, she had energy, her timing was improving - but two dances later it appears her days should be numbered.
Should is the operative word there. Bottom of the leaderboard twice in a row and still no appearance in a dance off? The Steadman clan are clearly a dedicated voting fan base.
However, it could be her boyish paramour guiding them up to the quarterfinal stage. Since his arrival, AJ has made it to the semifinal stage with Mollie King and Claudia Fragapane.
One was a popstar and the other was an Olympic gymnast, so AJ may have his work cut out this year. Lauren is easily fit enough to keep up but doesn’t have the same sense of rhythm they had.
Honourable mention: Charles Venn also dodged the dance-off thanks to the public vote. His Rumba next week will surely be followed by the deafening clanging of thousands of wedding bands being thrown to the ground in a haste to climb him like a tree.
Waiting in the wings
Sunday’s showdance with the professionals and visiting troupe Candoco Dance Company was a great end to the weekend.
The group, including a wheelchair dancer, one woman with a prosthetic leg to the hip and another with one leg alone, opened the results show with a great routine, dramatic lifts and romantic dancing.
An excellent example of tactful choreography without the literal lampshading Strictly often uses, all from ex-judge Arlene Phillips.
Also, after Shirley’s clanger with the scoring, the producers were probably quite happy to have ex-judge Arlene back on set to chat about the good old days and contract negotiations. Probably.