Strictly Come Blogging

Louise. Lou. Loulabelle. Loulabelle44. Louby.
Proudly blogging about Strictly Come Dancing ALL YEAR ROUND since 2006. Always spoiler-free.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Saturday Service: Week 12

It's the semi-final, which means two brand new dances for the remaining couples. The pressure of two dances seems to have tripped up some of the celebrities.

Joe & Katya's American smooth wasn't as Hollywood as I had hoped it would be. The ending lift was good, but some of the others were a bit hard going. His arm lines were a bit dodgy in a few places. It was a lovely performance, but I just wanted a bit more.

Their Argentine tango followed a similar path. I really wanted it to be better. It was a bit laboured in places. There were a few stumbles, and it lacked finesse. There were some good lifts, and he had the mood nailed. I really liked the end lift. It was good, but not good enough.

Alexandra & Gorka's Viennese waltz took too long to get into hold for my liking. Otherwise, it was elegant and controlled. Unfortunately, it just didn't stop my heart and excite me.

The salsa, on the other hand, was a completely different story! Amazing Alexandra stole the show. Their salsa was hot, hot, hot. Fantastic lifts. Showstopping performance. Great armography. It was everything a semi-final performance should be. Totally worthy of four 10s.

Mollie seemed to be channeling her inner showpony during her samba. She seemed to trot around looking at AJ, rather than dancing. She looked gangly and awkward. There were a couple of errors in the routine, which left her on the wrong foot. It was just all a bit wobbly and unconvincing.

Their waltz was much better. It was a very magical, romantic waltz. She looked confident and serene. And AJ used Anton's old trick of 'if in doubt, pivot'. There were rather a lot of them. 

Gemma & Aljaž's rumba was enjoyable to watch. It was calm and understated. Her legs were nicely controlled, and had a great mood. But as the judges noted, it just lacked a bit of feeling. She needs to use all of the music.

Their tango was much better. Despite a very dodgy song choice in My Sharona they performed very well. It was staccato, it had attack and mood. Gemma's frame was lovely and she held it well. A lovely routine.

Debbie & Giovanni's jive was definitely one of Debbie's most awkward dances all series. She was still a bit straight-legged for me and she did really awkward things with her arms in places. But Debbie throws herself into every routine so much that it was still fun to watch, even with its awkwardness.

Their foxtrot was lovely, lovely, lovely. It was pure foxtrot. Well, it was until they went out of hold at the end. It had the kind of Hollywood vibe that makes a good foxtrot. So gorgeous. Everything about the routine made me smile, including the confetti cannons.

So who will make the final? There's no question that Alexandra should be there. Her salsa was the dance of the series so far. I think it's clear that Mollie isn't in the same league as her fellow competitors, and if she is in the bottom two, I'm convinced that the judges would save the other couple, no matter who they're up against. I really don't want to think about a bottom two that Mollie is not a part of.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Sunday Service: Week 11

Quarter final time. Theme week again. Why we have to have movies and musicals, I'm not sure. 

Gemma's quickstep training footage revealed that there had been a lot of gapping between her and Aljaž during rehearsals. The performance was better, but they still could have been closer. I found the extra dancers really distracting.  I liked the showbiz elements of the performance, but it lacked content for me. They spent too much out of hold, give gave it the look of an American smooth. Not a good week to have a bad week.

I did not get Molly & AJ's rumba. First, Hopelessly Devoted... was a questionable song choice. Then she danced it in flat shoes. And then there was a massive lift in the middle. And it seemed to take about two hours to get into hold. She performed the routine very well, but it was balletic rather than Latin American. She had a nice hip action, although I'm sure it could have been better in heels. Risky to do such a controversial routine at this stage.

Money, Money was also an odd song choice. It doesn't exactly scream rumba. But somehow Joe & Katya made it work. There were some nice natural rolls and voltas. Decent hip action, especially for a male celebrity. I actually think the theme might have helped rather than hindering them.

Debbie & Giovanni's Viennese waltz American smooth was a delight. The opening was beautiful. The turning in the routine was relentless, but Debbie coped really well. The whole number had great musicality. The fleckerl/standing spin was well executed. On top the the technique, Debbie's performance was on point. Great chemistry. Gorgeous. Loved it.

Davood & Nadiya's Argentine tango was the most exciting choreographically that we've seen. However, there were some nice lines. The judges were right about Davood's balance, which wasn't as strong as it could have been. He doesn't fully use his core strength. However, personally, I find Davood has a charisma on the floor. I find him engaging to watch.

Alexandra & Gorka was as fantastic as they always are. Their Charleston was fabulous. It was slick. Alexandra showed great musicality. A brilliant performance once again. She's been very lucky to have such a crowd-pleasing routine so close to the end of the competition.

So who should go home? For me, it would be Gemma and Mollie in the bottom two. Gemma just wasn't as strong as she was in past weeks. I still don't see what the judges see in Mollie, and I think it was arrogant of AJ to put a lift in the rumba. Personally, I'd send Mollie packing. But it's is so close. Who knows who will even be in the bottom two. Someone is voting for Mollie all these weeks. Maybe she's been saved from the bottom two again.

It's going to be a very interesting show tonight. Roll on 7.15pm!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday Service: Week 10

Week 10. Definitely the business end of the competition, where comments and marks matter more than ever.

Joe & Katya's quickstep was so good. It was light and speedy. The choreography was amazing, especially when they went back-to-back and belly-to-belly. Great timing through. I loved it.

Alexandra & Gorka's rumba was pleasant enough. It was much neater than some of Alexandra's other Latin dances have been. I thought their chemistry was OK. There was a connection between them in my opinion. I did agree with the judges about Alexandra's need to stretch out further, and go on forever with the movements. Not a showstopper, but decent.

I actually really enjoyed the concept of Gemma & Aljaž's samba. I actually thought it was a great way to introduce a theme to a dance without it becoming a distraction from the core dance. It seems the judges didn't agree. I thought Gemma's technique was good. She really sold it, and looked as though she really enjoyed it. Her hands were odd on the promenade runs, but I don't think it was as bad as the judges made out.

Mollie was better this week than she has been in recent times, but her quickstep with AJ left me a bit cold. The choreography just didn't move me. It was a but dull compared to Joe & Katya's. It was clean for the most part, but there were a couple of off moments.

Davood & Nadiya's waltz was a bit frantic for me. It lacked light and shade. The choreography was too busy. Davood seemed to dip his shoulder on some of the pivots which looked a bit weird. I can't help but wonder how Davood would be with a different partner. Can you imagine him with Natalie? Davood danced the routine well, of course. There is definitely something very charming about the way Davood dances.

If anyone was going to nail an Argentine tango, it was going to be Debbie. She and Giovanni did a phenomenal job. Those legs! Intricate and intimate. Just amazing.

Susan & Kevin's American smooth was cute. She needs more strength in her upper body. She lacks poise and frame, which she should have nailed by now. However, her performance was much more glamorous than I expected. She is still entertaining, and this routine showed her versatility in performance terms.

The paso doble-athon felt more like a real competition situation than any "-anthon" since the group Viennese waltz in Series 1! It was great to see the couples all on the floor at once. I just wish they could red button an option of a balcony-cam, so you can choose who to watch, rather than seeing what the camera shows.

My favourites this week were Joe, Debbie and Gemma. I fear for Gemma however. Aston had a bad week, and look what happened! If the public votes with the judges, it could be the end for her. Personally, I think it's time for Susan to go. I wouldn't be sad to see Mollie go either. I thought she was overmarked last night. I guess we'll find out in a couple of hours.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Panto Round-Up

Since returning from holiday, I am feeling quite festive. So I thought it was time for my annual panto round-up.

Here is where you can see the stars of Strictly past and present (Debbie!) treading the boards this Christmas.

Craig Revel Horwood (judge), Snow White - Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Robin Windsor (ex-pro), Aladdin - Spa Theatre, Bridlington

Claire Sweeney (Series 1), Sleeping Beauty - Central Theatre, Chatham
Julian Clary (Series 2), Dick Whittington - Palladium, London
Claire King (Series 4), Peter Pan - Grand Opera House, Belfast
Brian Capron (Series 5), Aladdin - The Plaza, Stockport
Rachel Stevens (Series 6), Jack & The Beanstalk - Bournemouth Pavilion, Bournemouth
Jessie Wallace (Series 6), Snow White - Churchill Theatre, Bromley
Ricky Groves (Series 7), Sleeping Beauty - Cloud 9, Barrow-in-Furness
Ann Widdecombe (Series 8), Aladdin - Marina Theatre, Lowestoft
Dani Harmer (Series 10), Jack & The Beanstalk - Shaw Theatre, London
Lisa Riley (Series 10), Jack & The Beanstalk - Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
Dave Myers (Series 11), Peter Pan - Harlequin Theatre, Redhill
Alison Hammond (Series 12), Cinderella - Festival Theatre, Malvern
Simon Webbe (Series 12), Aladdin - Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe
Danny Mac (Series 14), Cinderella - Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham
Brian Conley (Series 15), Cinderella - Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes
Debbie McGee (Series 15), Beauty & The Beast - Grand Opera House, York

John Barrowman (Christmas 2010), Dick Whittington - Opera House, Manchester
Su Pollard (Christmas 2011), Snow White - Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury
Bobby Ball (Christmas 2012), Snow White - Lyceum Theatre, Crewe

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Service: Week 9

Blackpool. Always hyped up. Always under-delivers. Thankfully, being on holiday meant I missed all the hype, and didn't even know who was dancing to what.

I liked the showgirl theme of Mollie & AJ's Charleston, but Wings was a terrible song choice. Mollie looked quite qangly. She really needs to keep legs straight and point toes to help avoid that. The lifts were good, but the entrances and exits into the lifts were awkward and laboured. Mollie lacked swivel.

Kevin gets to do paso at Blackpool again. Apparently his five-year long desire to theme the dance around Strictly Ballroom had been quite the hot topic this week. I was left a bit cold. Susan had the drama - she always finds the character of the dance. She really needs to close her feet together, though. The whole thing looked untidy because she doesn't finish things off properly. She also lacked shaping. It was OK, but not her best dance.

Debbie's samba lacked hips for me, which was especially notable on the voltas. Nice samba rolls, although feet looked untidy to me. Nice promenade runs. Her chemistry with Giovanni wasn't quite a good for me this week.

Jonnie & Oti's tango was quite disappointing. Their reliance on the extra dancers did little to enhance the performance. Jonnie's terrible posture strikes again, his bottom was sticking out and distracted from everything else. He looked like he was concentrating too much, rather than performing.

Gemma & Aljaž's American smooth was a lovely dance. Took a bit too long to get going, but once it did it was great. It was very neat and tidy. Nice release of the toes on the backward steps. Lovely lifts.

There was too much Nadiya, not enough Davood in their paso. Once again Nadiya didn't give him enough to do. It worked in the rumba, but not here. Paso is one of the few dances when the man can shine, rather than just presenting his partner.  Davood had nice lines and great shaping. He had power and intent. He deserves better than the choreography he is being given.

Alexandra & Gorka's quickstep was big and glam. On point as always. They totally nailed it. Complete Hollywood. The type of thing we long to see in Blackpool.

Joe & Katya's salsa was interesting. Joes's entrance was like something from Catchphrase - "Say what you see". He was sitting on a clock. Literally riding on time. Aside from that, I though it was good. Great lifts, which were really ambitious, too. Katya is not afraid to trust her partner. It was a great routine. High energy. I liked it.

There is no question in my mind that Jonnie should be in the bottom two. I'm beginning to wonder if he still wants to be there. I think Mollie should probably be there with him, although Susan could also be in danger.

Aston's Departure

As you can tell by the lack of updates, I have been on holiday. I have decided not to write blog updates about the weeks I missed, as I'm sure no-one wants to read jetlagged ramblings about what happened two weeks ago. A post about last night's update will follow shortly.

However, I could not get into Blackpool without discussing the untimely exit of Aston & Janette. It's been just over 24 hours since I discovered this news, and I still can't believe it.

I'm not sure what happened. Did the public think they would be safe anyway? Or did the public listen to the judges' comments, take them on board, and decide not to vote for them? Do the judges have that much power?

I still can't believe that Aston is gone. I thought he was a lock for the final alongside Alexandra. When I saw he was in the dance-off, I presumed he'd be safe. With the exception of Alexandra, I thought no-one could topple him. 

I didn't think their Viennese waltz was all that bad! It was better than Mollie & AJ's performance in my opinion. And Aston had so much more potential. Totally robbed. It'll take the rest of the series for me to get over this one.

I guess that means Gemma and Debbie will both make the final. But it's made everything a lot less exciting.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Saturday Service: Week 6

Strictly's Halloween week was a show of two halves. Some ropy old performances in the first half, some terrible ones in the second.

Jonnie & Oti's cha cha wasn't that great. It was very ploddy. Jonnie's been pretty good in recent weeks, but this week he seemed to just stand around while Oti danced around him. It was just a bit off. And I couldn't get past how much he looked like Tim Minchin.

Ruth & Anton's quickstep was really bumpy. There was a big gap between them for a lot of the routine. They seemed to go up and down at different times as they trotted around the floor, it looked as though Ruth was fighting against Anton instead of dancing with him. It was messy and heavy. Hard to watch.

Simon & Karen left the smooth out of their American smooth. The whole thing was flat and walky. The fleckerl was pretty weak, but at least he attempted it and didn't do a standing spin cop-out. Again, it wasn't nice to watch.

Gemma & Aljaž's jive wasn't the best. I enjoyed the routine, but it all felt a bit heavy. I can't put my finger on why. Gemma's leg action was lovely, proper retraction. There was lots of content in the routine. It just missed the mark.

Joe & Katya's foxtrot was kind of strange, and I can't decide if I liked it or not. It took a bit long to get going, although I did like the opening section. Joe has good timing, but the performance didn't look as confident has it has in past weeks. I liked the armography section in the middle, but it detracted from the foxtrot content a bit. Great pivots, though.

Mollie's cha cha was really wooden. I kept waiting for it to get going, and it just never did. Lots of wriggling, but not much hip action. Maybe they suffered with AJ being poorly at the start of the week. I don't know. But I didn't enjoy it.

Alexandra & Gorka's tango put things back on track. It was sharp. It had loads of drive and drama. My only criticism is that she needs to make sure she points her toes on all of the kicks. She does it some of the time, but not all of the time. Loved the part where she held her frame and Gorka walked around her.

I loved Davood & Nadiya's rumba. It was haunting and beautiful. I thought Davood did pretty well for a male celebrity. I agree with Shirley that the routine lacked content, but that's on Nadiya, not Davood. I hate it when the judges punish the celebrities when they don't like the routine. The same happened to Greg & Natalie last year. It's not fair on the celebs.

I thought Susan & Kevin's foxtrot was decent enough. It was a bit walky, not amazing. It was confident, though. I think the judges were a bit harsh on Susan tonight. It wasn't as bad as they made out.

Debbie & Giovanni's Charleston was fun and lively. It was enjoyable to watch, and packed with steps. Debbie had a lovely swivel, better than most celebs. However, the lifts weren't perfect, and she nearly fell over at the end of the routine. Good, but not worth tens.

Aston was doing very odd things with his upper body on the appels, especially at the beginning of the paso routine. The second half of the routine was better. His lines were pretty good, and he showed great strength. Janette's make-up was the best of the night, too.

Davood and Alexandra were my favourites tonight.

I think it will be an injustice if Simon is not back in the bottom two tomorrow. But who else? Could be Ruth, could be Jonnie, could be Mollie. There is no doubt in my mind, though, that Simon should be going home now.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

AJ Will Dance On Saturday

AJ missed training earlier in the week as he was ill, so Mollie began the week training with professional dancer Patrick Helm instead.

But no reference was made to this on It Takes Two tonight, where AJ appeared with Mollie, and looked to be fighting fit.

Blue Peter Presenters Join CIN Special

Following in the footsteps of newsreaders, Call The Midwife cast members and Olympians, this year Blue Peter presenters will take the Strictly plunge for Children In Need.

The couples are:

Anthea Turner & Brendan Cole

Dianne-Louise Jordan & Pasha Kovalev
Konnie Huq & Neil Jones
Radzi Chinyanganya & Chloe Hewitt
Tim Vincent & Dianne Buswell

The couples will perform a group number, and a winner will be selected from that.

Gethin Jones is the only Blue Peter presenter to have participated in the main series of Strictly so far, but as we've seen many celebrities make the leap from specials to the main series, maybe this will open the door for one of them if they prove popular.

Their performance will be broadcast as part of Children In Need night, 17th November, on BBC One.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday Service: Week 5

Bruno, Bruno, wherefore art thou Bruno? A three-judge panel for the first time ever on Strictly. Scores out of 30 only. Strange old week.

Davood & Nadiya's jive was fun and energetic. It didn't set the floor alight, but I enjoyed the routine. Some nice tricks, although should cartwheels be in the jive? I think they should have done enough to stay out of the dance off this week.

Mollie & AJ's Viennese waltz was gorgeous. A lovely underarm turn on the bridge was beautiful. It too way to long to get in to hold, but I didn't really mind because I enjoyed watching it so much. In hold, it was lovely. Smooth, elegant, dreamy. Loved it.

Simon & Karen's Charleston was very clever. Simon generally stayed on the spot while Karen ran around him. It was pretty together. A few little errors. No swivel at all. I liked the routine, but Simon's performance wasn't wacky enough.

I'm afraid I wasn't that keen on Debbie & Giovanni's rumba. It lacked chemistry for me. It was better than last week - Debbie had worked on her legs, and it was was more earthy than before. I'm afraid it just didn't move me as much as the judges. Can we just take a moment to appreciate Craig's Bruno impression though? Brilliant.

Brian & Amy's jive was OK, but not great. Brian was way too flat-footed and stompy. It was slightly behind the music at times, not exactly out of time, but just a split-second out in places.

Susan & Kevin's cha cha was quite fun, but lacked technique. She needs to bring her feet toegther - you could drive a bus between her legs at times. She lacks hip action. The steps got away from her. Great performance, but not her best.

Aston & Janette's waltz spent way too much time out of hold for my liking. I liked the chemistry, but not so much the routine. Aston was leaning forward over Janette in places, particularly during the pivots. He needs to keep his upper body back a little more.

I did not enjoy Ruth & Anton's campy samba. Ruth spent most of the routine looking at Anton to see what came next. It lacked confidence. Ruth's hip action was hit and miss. Voltas were not pretty. Nope.

The only thing I didn't like about Gemma & Aljaž's foxtrot was her face. It was a bit dead, and her eyeline was way too high. As Darcey noted, she was looking at the ceiling. Her eyes were rolled back in her head. The quality of her dancing was lovely, however. A very nice routine.

I loved Joe & Katya's paso. Outstanding. With that hair and outfit, Joe totally looked like Darren Bennett... I loved the content. Joe danced it incredibly well. He was in control, and was so good that I really didn't look at Katya very much. Totally undermarked by Craig.

Another great performance from Alexandra & Gorka. It lacked a bit of flow for me. Like last week, she's still not always bringing her feet together. She has great isolations, body rolls to die for. She is a lovely dancer, so it's hard not to be super-critical.

Jonnie & Oti's routine was pure quickstep. No faffing about. No filler. Jonnie did a brilliant job. His topline is looking better. It was confident. A great end to the show.

Joe was the best of the night for me, followed by Jonnie and Mollie.

Brian, Simon and Ruth could all be in trouble this week. They were all the the bottom of the leaderboard, and I don't think any of their routines were good enough to save them. I think I'd like to see Simon go. I think he was better this week - Charleston is not as technical as other dances - but he lacks some of the quality and performance than help Brian and Ruth get away with dodgy dancing.

I guess we'll find out tonight.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bruno To Miss Saturday's Show

Bruno Tonioli will miss this week's Strictly Come Dancing.

According to The Sun, Bruno was always scheduled to miss this week's show due to another engagement. It is the first time Bruno has ever missed a recording.

A spokeswoman told the paper: “As was always the plan, Bruno Tonioli is not on the judging panel this weekend due to a very busy work schedule. He will be back as normal for our Halloween special and the rest of the series."

There will be no guest judge, so presumably scores will be out of 30 for this week only.

I wonder if the participants are a bit gutted, as they realise they are less likely to get cheeky 10s without Bruno.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

James & Ola Announce Debut Tour

Former Strictly pros James & Ola Jordan have announced their first live theatre tour.

James & Ola Uncensored: It's Hot, Dirty & Dancing!
The show, James & Ola Uncensored: It's Hot, Dirty & Dancing!, will tell the couple's 18-year personal story and career through dance. They will be joined by a company of dancers, and will perform numbers in a number of styles.

The couple said: “It’s great to be able to do our own tour, our way, and to offer something totally different to any other dance show. We want to perform a sexy, edgy interpretation of our life story, whilst still having all the sparkle and fun people expect from us - and the best part is that we get to dance together again, we cannot wait! ”

I'm quite shocked it has taken them so long to head out on tour. Most other Strictly pros have toured, some for many years. Having waited so long, I'm sure the nation's expectations are high.

The tour will begin in Blackpool on 3rd March, and visit 22 venues, ending in Liverpool on 2nd April. Tickets will go on sale tomorrow (20th October), and will be available from Ticketmaster.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ball vs Villani

A strange spat between former Strictly contestant Johnny Ball and his pro partner Aliona Villani has unfolded this week.

Johnny was the first celebrity voted off of Strictly in 2012. Early in the week before the elimination, Aliona fractured her ankle and was not able to perform. Iveta Lukosiute was drafted in to replace her, but they were voted off the show after the first performance.

This week, Johnny stated to the Sun on Sunday that his exit was fixed. He said: “It was a fix and it broke my heart. Aliona fell on a flat floor in flat shoes and said she had broken her leg. The next day she flew to the South of France for a pre-arranged weekend with her boyfriend.”

Johnny was voted off that weekend: “When I was knocked out [Iveta] said, ‘That’s funny, my contract ends on Tuesday’.”

It's possible that Iveta was only drafted in for a week, as the production didn't know exactly how long they would need her. If Johnny had gone through, they would have signed her for another week. I don't think her protracted contract is related to his exit. It just makes business sense.

Aliona has taken exception to the accusation that she faked her injury, and claims she has not instructed her solicitors to take action. She tweeted:

I suspect that it will all blow over, but I shall be keeping an eye on this one.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday Service: Week 4

A few changes to the leaderboard this week, and an entertaining Saturday.

Debbie & Giovanni started the show with their cha cha. As always, Debbie was in time with the music. The routine had lots of good cha cha content. In fact, Debbie kind of reminded me of Camilla Dallerup on the floor. Her développé in the middle of the dance was gorgeous. However, her knees were too straight throughout, which gave the whole thing an odd look. Not Debbie's best.

Brian & Amy's punky paso was quite good fun. Brian was quite commanding. It wasn't technically correct, but there were a nice mix of steps and I liked that they used the mic stand as a cape stand-in. Odd, but it kind of worked. And I liked Amy's Michelle Visage look.

Mollie & AJ's salsa lacked fluidity. There were some really clunky transitions. There were some nice moments, but it just didn't flow. Before the series started, I really thought Mollie would be riding high, but she's got some work ahead of her if she's going to be a contender.

Davood looked really gorgeous in hold. His Viennese waltz was graceful and smooth when Nadiya was in his arms. I liked the lyrical elements in the choreography, but there was just too much out of hold for my taste. And there was an illegal lift, which since Craig 'Guardian of The Rules' Revel Horwood mentioned it, must still be a thing. He needs to take care not to lift Nadiya too high.

Charlotte & Brendon's jive took way too long to get going, although you have to love seeing Brendan slide down the banister. They used up a lot of music on the close, too. The whole middle part was a stompfest. Charlotte was really heavy footed for someone so light. She seemed to be chasing the music throughout the dance. She also needs to watch her arms, which looked a bit odd, and she needs to point her feet on the kicks.

Joe & Katya were not as strong as last week. He needs to be careful with his arms when they're not working. They looked really awkward, just dangling rather than being placed. He also had a few weird facial expressions, like he didn't know what a cha cha face should be. I wasn't that taken with the choreography this week. OK, but not great.

Ruth & Anton's tango got better as it went along. There was a lot of gapping early on, but they got closer, and then it started to really flow. It had great drama. Ruth needs to be careful not to go up and down in places and keep it flat. But it was pretty good, her best dance to date.

Aston & Janette's quickstep had good musicality - I liked the little chorus break. It was light and bright throughout, and Aston had great timing. He just needs to point his toes, and watch out for occasional gapping.

Simon & Karen's samba was a low-point of the night. There was a noticeable mistake at the end, and was there one near the start too? Something weird definitely happened. There were lots of basic steps - voltas, botofogos, walks, promenade runs - Karen did a good job choreographically. But there were timing issues. Simon tried hard, but it wasn't his dance.

Gemma & Aljaž's paso had lots of content.  It was strong. Gemma's timing was brilliant. She was on it all the way through. I liked the little break with the claps in the middle, and the confetti claps at the end were one of my favourite use of props (is glitter confetti a prop?) ever. A good job.

I feel a bit bad. I didn't like Alexandra & Gorka's jive as much as the judges, or most people of Twitter. That doesn't mean it was bad, it certainly wasn't. Alexandra is one of the strongest celebrities in the competition. I think Alexandra needs to make sure she keeps her feet together to make it neater, and she needs to straighten her legs a bit more in places too. I liked the jive, I just didn't love it.

I felt as though Jonnie & Oti's American smooth was a bit messy. He needs to watch his top line in places. He also needs to keep watching his bottom, which was stuck out at the beginning of the routine. His footwork was nice, and I liked the lifts in the middle. But it just felt a bit all over the place.

Susan & Kevin's quickstep was a lovely end to the show, which left me with a big smile on my face. It was better than I expected. It was light and fast. Such fun! It was a proper quickstep, very energetic, and very together. Susan & Kevin have such a great partnership. Loved the nod to Morecambe & Wise toward the end. A complete delight.

Susan and Gemma were my favourites of the night, and I really enjoyed the improvement that Ruth had made. I think the bottom two on the leaderboard should face the dance-off - Simon and Charlotte. They were definitely the weakest of the night. I'd probably send Simon home, but it would depend on the dance-0ff performance.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

NTAs: Vote For Strictly

It's time to vote for your favourites for the National Television Awards once again. This is the longlist vote.

Strictly is, as always, in the Talent category, against The Voice Kids, Britain's Got Talent, Let It Shine, The Voice UK, Pitch Battle, Sing: Ultimate A Capella and The X Factor.

Tess and Claudia are both in the TV Presenter category.

Craig, Darcey, Bruno and Shirley are all in the TV Judge category.

A a tribute to Sir Bruce, the Entertainment Award has now been named in his honour.

Click here to cast your votes. You have until 11pm on 23rd October. The shortlist will be announced in January, and voting will re-open then.