Kate's writing the girls this week, I'm writing the boys, and I am going to be sort of nice about Gregg Wallace. This is your 500-word warning.
But first! It's Tom and Iveta. Last week I didn't get to write about Tom. But my verdict was this:
Tom is the blandly handsome Disney prince who is totally wrong for the sparky, modern-day heroine, and doesn't get why she likes reading books and hanging out with the birds and animals. He's well-meaning, he's sweet, but he's just not as fun or sexy as The Beast (/Mark Benton. I loved Mark Benton).
This week, Prince Handsome gets the salsa and says in a flat, emotionless voice 'Now I can really let loose... Now I can let my hips do the talking.' Iveta proves she is still a Strictly rookie by choreographing to the same music Mark Ramprakash and Karen Hardy used for the salsa that went so wrong, then so very right, aka one of the Golden Strictly Moments Of All Time. Tom and Iveta can only suffer by comparison. Clearly, all the old lags (Brendan, Anton, er, that's it) neglected to mention it, and were all like 'Hot, Hot, Hot. Hmm, let's think... Nope... No, I really don't think anyone's ever used that song to dance a totally brilliant salsa to that will be a million times better than yours. You should totally go for that.'
Tom throws himself into it and is only slightly undone by some tricksy armography. That, and the fact his 'Being Fiercely Sexy' face is more 'Trying To Manouevre A 4-Seater Corner Sofa Around A Narrow Stairwell.' He also confuses me by dressing as a male gymnast. When I first saw his outfit, I was hoping his salsa with Iveta would be a sexy Latin dramatisation of Louis Smith's intense tussle with Krisztian Berki for the pommel horse title at the London 2012 Olympics. MISSED OPPORTUNITY, IVETA.
After their scores, Tom tries to hitch a ride on the Pasha Love Train by thanking him for all his help. Not so dumb after all, Prince Handsome.
Can I say at this stage that it's two for two with Tess and Claudia's dresses? They both look brilliant. Claudia scores extra points for serving her formal evening dress with a side order of 'Pauline Fowler cardigan draped round the shoulders'. And the judges have ramped up their dance-on. Darcy seems a little self-conscious, but the other three look like they're cutting loose at a wedding reception that's had a free bar for the last six hours.
Next man up is Simon. His jive was one of my favourites last week. Now he gets the tango. Slow down there, Simon. You're using up all the good dances. At this rate, he'll be left with the rumba and the Viennese waltz in the semi-finals. I like the routine and its brilliant Tricky Tango Legs section in the middle, but Simon needs more attack, or gertcha as Len/Chas/Dave would say. Also, sorry Simon, but I'm distracted by the site of Dave Arch in the background, headphones on and an electric guitar strapped across him. Aww, look, he's back in his bedroom as a young teenager jamming along to the Brothers In Arms album and dreaming of a future where he accompanies one of the blokes off MasterChef as they dance a kitchen-themed Charleston.
Which brings us to…
Gregg. Greg, Gregg, Greggg. Here is what my colleague Tweeted during the show.
We know Gregg has milked his 'I love puddings, me' persona on MasterChef, but it's surely reached personal crisis point. Gregg feels better when Claudia presents him with a pudding in Week 1. Gregg takes a pudding into training to apologise to Aliona for messing up. Gregg presents the judges with a cakestand of treats before he dances. Gregg sticks his head in a pudding for slapstick lolz.
Gregg, lie back on this couch and tell me about your childhood. Also, try a Hula Hoop. Savoury things can be nice too, you know.
Gregg's Charleston isn't very good. He knows it. We know it. Aliona knows it and is flicking through the autumn holiday brochures while Gregg practises his double hop. At the end, he carefully removes his glasses pre-cake-face and let me say this: there is no one more naked and vulnerable than a glasses-wearer without their glasses. My heart bleeds a little bit for Gregg and his constant thanking of Aliona for her patience and his bravado that is drooping like a slack cake mix.
Gregg's confidence is a fragile brandy-snap basket and what is there inside? Luckily he's going to have a lot of time over the next ten weeks to figure it out. Good luck, Gregg.
Also, Aliona's outfit tonight verges on self-parody.
Jake is the first person this series to make me do Swears Of Surprise from my sofa. That swearing is 'Shit the bed'. God knows who I've got this expression from, but I hate it and please could you take it back again.
Anyway. Hips! Lifts! Chest shimmies! Neckography! This is PHENOM.
Darcy and Bruno are standing. Ian Beale In The Audience is grinning and applauding and looks like a nodding dog on a parcel shelf. By rights, Jeanette should have sustained about seven neck fractures.
It is so good that I do not even realise they are dancing to Mambo No 5 until I watch it a second time. I can pay it no higher compliment.
Jake is pretty nonchalant about the whole thing afterwards. Jeanette ruins it by doing needy phone hands.
And here's Tim and Natalie! And here's that moment when the older male contestant pulls off a strangely sweet and dignified waltz that makes you feel a little bit teary! Only they've bookended it with an astronomy theme, because if it's not moving, and especially if it is, Strictly will stick a theme all over it. Hey, Len. I've made you a cup of tea. It's Hot Beverage Half-Hour! Wooo! We're really MILKING this! Etc.
*Brrrrring, brrrrring. Brrrrring, brrrrrring.*
'Alright? Is that Harry from McFly?'
'Hang on, just let me turn down George Clarke's Amazing Spaces. Love that guy. Yeah, hello, who's that?'
'It's Mark Wright, mate.'
'Mate! How's it going?'
'Yeah, good, good. I just wanted to ask you about Strictly.'
'Oh sure, how's it going?'
'Well, last week was great. Not going to lie. I totally smashed it. This week, it's the foxtrot.'
'Mate, chicks LOVE the foxtrot.'
'Yeah, yeah, it's OK but... it's just... Karen's done this choreography and it's... really, really lame. Like, totally cheesy and I have to flap my arms and look like a dick.'
'Mate. I feel for you, bro. I've totally been there. Aliona loved that shit. It's all good, though. You've just got to suck it up and get through it and wait for the tango, or some dance when they let you pretend to play the drums. At least they haven't dragged out that crappy pretend archway covered in plastic flowers for you.'
'Shit. I didn't realise. I'm so sorry. Look, don't worry about it. You know what? When you've got the suit and the bow tie and the tails on, it all comes together. It won't seem so weird, I promise.'
'Well, that's the other thing. I've got this knitted jumper that's covered in sequins and a pair of trousers with a label in the back that says 'Byker Grove costume dept. Boys. Aged 14-15.'
'I'm coming straight over.'
After a personal good luck message from Robbie Willams in the first show, who will be Scott Mills' Celebrity Wellwisher this week? Chris Martin? Jennifer Lopez? Ban Ki-moon?
Oh. Nick Grimshaw. Oh.
Words I have to say to Scott about that tango: Posture. Relaxation. Faces.
Words I have to say to Joanne From Grimsby about that tango: for the love of god, stop swinging that ludicrous ponytail into Scott's face all the time you're dancing. Give him a chance! And get a bloody trim. I can practically see the split ends from here.
I like Joanne. She's a good addition.
Last week Steve Backshall danced a motorbike-themed vest-wearing tango that was pure MeatLoaf video - and I say that with love. But all the objects in the rear view mirror that appear closer than they are can't elevate his Indiana Jones-themed cha-cha to the same level. You say Indiana Jones-themed cha-cha, I say Indiana-Jones-themed male stripper at a hen night.
Phew. That was week 2. Next week, it's Movie Week. We'll be here. Hope you will be too. xx