Tonight the Strictly team have de-camped from London and headed north to Blackpool. Viva Las Vegas ! The show opens with feathers and show girls, to the song of the same name by Elvis.
There are fireworks, and then Bruce & Tess appear – Tess in palazzo pants for a change. In siren red.
Patsy Kensit opens the show in Blackpool, looking slightly tentative. Do we have Party Patsy in the samba ? She starts a little stiffly, losing balance and looking a little heavy – but as ever, she is acting her way through. And what an outfit ! Pink and black sequins, feathers and bows.
The audience responds very well – will the judges ? Len mentioned the atmosphere, and he enjoyed the basic steps but noticed the point where Patsy ended up on the wrong foot, possibly due to her excitement ! Bruno found her glitsy and sexy, though her timing was out sometimes. Craig wanted a bit more life in her free arm, and did find her a little stompy. The judges give her a score of 28.
Kara & Artem follow with their American Smooth – in training Artem has been injured quite badly during a lift, and the couple are not sure whether they will be able to carry on. Artem is trying not to show Kara just how much pain he is in – and she is crying because she’s seen through that. Artem is made of iron though ! You can see the lift in this photograph :
It’s a dramatic start, and the lift that troubled them in reherasal is spectacular. Lots of shadow steps, to Cry Me a River – appropriate after the rehearsal drama.
Bruce pays tribute to Artem, who completed the routine even though his shoulder injury is quite bad and he’s in a lot of pain. Alesha was seduced by the mystical nature of their dance, and Bruno said the routine was “inspired and inspiring” – blending elements of the Paso Doble with the America Smooth.
Craig agreed – noticing Kara’s arm placement which is beyond exquisite. Len has trouble judging a foxtrot based American Smooth with no steps in hold – he loved the routine but it wasn’t a foxtrot – so how can he judge it ?
Kara said how hard it was for Artem to choreograph to that music, and the judges score them with a 10 from Alesha and Bruno, and a total of 35 (Len gave them a 6).
Much is expected of Matt Baker, and his dance partner Aliona Vilani. Will the Blackpool atmosphere propel him towards a 10 ? They begin apart, with Matt working the crowd. He’s got the samba beat down, and ends with a triple back flip ! The audience go wild ! Will the judges ?
Bruno had never seen such action from a non-professional, and Craig enjoyed the hip and bounce action, and finally, he found improvement in thumb-gate. Len wasn’t so keen on the back flips at the end, but Aliona expected that. They score a ten from Alesha and Bruno and overall 39.
Felicity & Vincent have the American Smooth; last week they were in the bottom two and so this week they have to dance from the heart.
Felicity doesn’t like to look at her poses in the mirror, but Vincent says “sometimes it’s good to face the truth.” Felicity starts off on the red carpet, sunglasses on, all movie-star elegance. The dance is less elegant, but the lifts are beautiful.
Craig would have liked more rise and fall, and more efficient spotting. Len thought the lifts were excellent, but said that it lacked movement around the room. They score 30 – their highest score to date.
Halfway through, Matt & Aliona lead the field, with Patsy & Robin at the bottom with 28 points.
Gavin & Katya are next with the samba; he’s been missing his kids this week but he knows that he needs to be strong. Katya has planned a lift which many of the professionals are not able to do !
Gavin starts off behind a mic, and quickly takes hold with Katya, but the difficult lift doesn’t work and Katya looks very uncomfortable. After that the routine loses momentum. Bruno notices Gavin’s nerves, which is why he loses the drive of the dance.
Gavin looks pretty upset, even though Bruno tries to encourage him. Lame and lacklustre, says Craig. Len said that was totally wrong from Craig, parts were excellent and overall it was a very good performance. They score 27.
Scott & Natalie receive a very loud response from the audience.
Bruce starts tap dancing – and introduces the couple’s training.
In training, the samba moves are quite alien to Scott. Natalie asks him to “embrace it babe.” Scott thinks that promenade runs sound like something you’d need to get tablets for !
Scott is certainly trying and the music is uplifting; Natalie looks pleased and the audience are on their feet.
Alesha said the she could see how hard he’s worked and he was very convincing. Bruno is beside himself, saying that Scott always performs and always delivers.
Craig said it wasn’t good; he didn’t like it at all. They score 32.
Pamela Stephenson has just got better and better, often writing about her weight loss during the show and how her confidence has been boosted.
Expectations are high !
In training, James and Pamela try to introduce danger and risk-taking to the performance.
But Pamela nearly fell on her head in training, so who knows ?
Dancing the American Smooth, they start off on chairs, Pamela with a feather boa, and dressed in sliver, white and black, fairly pushing James around!
Lovely under-arm turns; not easy…. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps… as the music says.
The lifts are smooth and well delivered, and Pamela acts her way through the whole dance.
The final lift, a shoulder lift, is held until they reach the judges position. Bruno wanted hanky panky, and said he got it. He said it was absolutely beautiful.
Craig loved the structure of the routine and said how well danced it was.
Len thought it was the best American Smooth of the night, with Alesha calling Pamela the Queen of Blackpool tonight.
Pamela loves risks, and James pointed out the microphone malfunction throughout the dance – what a pro.
They score a 10 from Alesha and Bruno, giving them 37. Are they happy ? You bet !
Ann & Anton tackle the samba – or at least, tackle an interpretation of it !
In training, Anton senses this won’t be a traditional samba.
A samba roll is attempted in training but says that it’s not an appropriate move for her.
Ann is dressed in canary yellow with extra custard fringing, and Anton has gold sequinned trousers and matching custard top. Eek.
Ann does try to look up more, and they attempt a small jump, but essentially Ann is stuck to the floor. The crowd go wild when she attemts a very ungainly, inelegant floor spin with one leg in the air. Big Bird eat your heart out. Remember Sesame Street ?
Craig says that Sesame Street meets Strictly was overwhelmingly awful. Len thought is was like haemorrhoids – they keep coming back more painful than ever, but it made them laugh.
Ann & Anton score a 1 from Craig, and a total of 13.