Here at And Dave Arch Played On…, we are constantly striving to innovate and grow the reading experience for you, our Strictly-loving comrades and valued clients. This week, Kate and I have dispensed with notions of gender and split the dancers down the ballroom/Latin divide. So hold on to your hip action (hmm, needs work), here I am with the Latin report (also the Charleston).
Kevin and Frankie
It's easy to think of Kevin and Frankie as adorable little pocket people, with their little pixie haircuts and little pixie faces. I don't buy it. They coldly execute a major psyche-out this week by ditching a whole day's training to go to bloody well Grimsby. Like, 'What? Oh yeah, we're just taking a day off. We might do some training tomorrow. We might go to Whitby instead.' On their seaside special VT, Kevin is wearing red trousers AGAIN. It's almost like he doesn't read this blog. The pair are dancing the cha-cha to Call Me Maybe. High marks from me, but the judges have a bitch about Frankie's bent legs. Picky, picky, picky. During the dance Frankie strokes Kevin's face a lot. I think there are many, many people who want to stroke Kevin's face, and that is why Kevin and Frankie will win [possibly. Also they are good at dancing].
[As an aside, Claudia is on brilliant form this week, with the highpoint her laughing-assassin takedown of Donny Osmond.]
Simon and Kristina
One particular newspaper has done some pioneering investigative journalism this week into Kristina's extraordinary powers of sexiness, and how they were directly responsible for her and Simon landing in the dance-off last week. This is in contrast to well-established proof that the middle of the board is always a notoriously dangerous and vulnerable place to be ('Gabby Logan's Theorem', for scholars). We will return to this startling new research in more detail another time, if I get round to writing it, for here and now, we must deal with the here and now. Kristina's Superpowers Of Sexy have rendered her a Kinky Pearly Queen this week. I'm not sure if anyone's made that particular p**n film yet - The Lambeth Pork, anyone? And actually what is Down At The Old Bull And Bush even about? Anyway, it's the Charleston for Simon and Kristina and, man alive, they are working those Charleston faces hard. I think they may have heard the backstage rumour that if you gurn hard enough during your Charleston, you can be transported back to the 1920s, and Simon is eager to meet pioneering feminist playwright Sophie Treadwell to discuss his theories on her masterpiece of expressionist theatre, Machinal. It's safe to say Simon is back to delivering on the promise we saw during his week one jive, although this is all a bit grating for me.
Alison and Aljaz
Forgive me for I am not feeling very well and may be delirious but here is the point I actually laugh at a Strictly VT, possibly for the first time since 2006. It is heartening to think that all I might need to make me happy in this terrible world is Alison Hammond from This Morning carrying a cardboard cut-out of Jay-Z and Aljaz doing sad faces. But what sad faces. I would buy a DVD of Aljaz making sad faces. But let's talk about the samba. No one can make a sad face during the samba. That is the samba law. Other tenets of samba law are that participants must find it incredibly hard (Alison gives it more than most, but yep, tick) and the judges must enforce just how incredibly hard it is (not in those words, but again, yep). Also compulsory: more fringing than a Claudia lookalike convention that is coincidentally happening in the same hotel as a Slade fans' weekender. Tick tick ticktickticktick. Surely Alison will have to do some ballroom dancing soon. Ah yes, she is doing the tango next week. It's ballroom, but kinda latiny.
Steve and Ola
If James Jordan is to be believed - and you'd be forgiven for not reading any further - Ola has been vomiting all day. When you see the way Steve is twirling her around like a majorette with a baton, it is understandable. This week, Steve has discovered he can do a chest shimmy and, give praise and thanks, he wants to share that gift with the world. Come and shake your chest with Steve! It feels amazing! Global cults have started on less than this. The problem lies with the rest of his body. His steps are a little clunky and placed and his hips are not really happening, but he does go the full Logan (K, not G) lift-wise. Ola must be hoping the rumba is many, many weeks away. I think the answer may be to turn the pursuit of strong, flexible hips into some kind of extreme physical challenge – possibly involving wildlife – that Steve would enjoy. Hoisting a crate of shire horses into the sky using only a pulley system attached to Steve's belt? Shire horses have a famously placid temperament, perfectly qualifying them for this potentially stressful venture. It's an idea, that's all. I've got diagrams, if anyone wants to see them.
Pixie and Trent
Now, I know I talk a lot about hair and costumes at the expense of any actual dancing insight, but we really do need to talk about Trent's shirt. a) It's so, so nasty – I mean Mark Owen would have turned his nose up at this in 1993, and b) It's all untucked and undone, like he's just thrown it on after getting out of the sack with someone who, in this case, looks uncannily like a close blood relative. Well done, Pixie and Trent, you have succeeded in making the rumba even more icky. Look, I'll be honest, I have no interest in any rumba ever, except maybe Sophie and Brendan's which apparently wasn't rumba-y (=sleazy) enough, but I can see that Pixie brings all her Italia Conti acting skills to her performance, Real Tears and all. It doesn't wash with the judges, who criticise Pixie's hips and Trent's choreography. No one mentions the shirt. Unbelievable.
Tim and Natalie
Somewhere recently, in a place that I am currently unable to find, Kate referred to the cruel (my word, not hers) Strictly tradition of the old man paso. And the wardrobe department have really embraced tradition here. It's quite a feat to ramp up Tim's eccentricity, but here he is, conjuring the impression of a distracted but happy loner wandering around his back garden flapping a tea towel at next door's dog and asking the neighbours to address him as José. Still, I certainly don't find this the most uncomfortable dance of the evening to watch. Tim doesn't take the aggressive approach – he takes the walking-is-good-for-you approach – but Natalie is sincerely lovely to him afterwards. Please can Natalie get a nice limber sportsman next series? I reckon Andy Turner would be available. (Just a little something for my fellow athletics fans.)
Sunetra and Brendan
First of all, Brendan Cole, take three house points for using actual bongos as bongos during your salsa, and not Sunetra's chest, stomach or buttocks. Whoever thought I'd be this glad to see some bongos on a stage. Life constantly surprises us if we let it. Sunetra looks nervous at the start – with good reason as it turns out, but she covers her mistakes like a pro, and by the end, her Fun Mum Who Also Happens To Be Really Good At Dancing status is firmly restored. Darcy goes on about Sunetra's arms AGAIN. WTF, Darcy? They're just arms. Afterwards, Sunetra is worried that her dress lifted up during the dance. Oh Sunetra, where have you been for the last 11 series?
Jake and Jeanette
This jive starts so brilliantly, I find myself whispering 'Holy Jill Halfpenny!' under my breath. This, I admit, was premature. Still, at the start, Jake's sharpness and commitment and masculinity are quite something. Later, it's all more laboured – I think he almost slips over, and one of his arms is not pulling its weight (hey Jake, why not talk to Sunetra about that, both of hers are bloody brilliant, apparently). Despite that, it might be my dance of the night - slightly underwhelmed as I am by Caroline and Pasha's quickstep. Through it all, Jake remains heroically understated. Bad feedback is treated with a philosophical nod. Good feedback is greeted in the manner of a man being told the clothes dryer he wants in Argos is, indeed, in stock. Jeanette wins best dressed in show.
And that, my friends, was your week in Latin. Feedback below.