Monday, 13 November 2017

Strictly Come Dancing Week 8

It's Week 8 and the remaining nine couples have one thing in their sights.  Blackpool!  Yep, next week sees Strictly broadcasting live from the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool.  It's the home of dance and has hosted so many dance competitions over many many years and many of the pro dancers have special memories of performing there over the years.  It's always a spectacular event with great routines, great costumes, extra dancers and of course the famous springy ballroom floor.  To get there is the one aim of all the contestants but sadly one will not make it.

Following the shock of last weeks departure of Aston, one of the series favourites to lift the Glitterball means no-one is safe, anyone can be voted off so it's time to raise the bar and get your serious dancing shoes on.

First up this week was the adorable Susan.  I just love her routines with Kevin.  I think Kevin knows that he and Susan won't make the final so he is just having fun and using his talented choreography to highlight Susan the best he can.   She's had a wobbly couple of weeks of late with her Cha Cha Cha and her Halloween week Foxtrot, however, last week saw an improvement in the Jive and this week her Tango was pretty impressive.  She really gives it her all on the dancefloor and although her technique isn't always perfect, her effort is A+.

Second on the dancefloor was my lovely Joe.  Yes, he is my favourite, I have loved him from the start when he smashed his Jive in week 1 and although he was up and down for a few weeks, he has been steadily improving with a great Paso, a beautiful Foxtrot and a fabulous Charleston in weeks 5, 6 and 7 respectively.  This week saw him tackle the notorious Rumba, a nightmare for some especially the male celebs but he nailed it. It was stylish and smooth and he and Katya have a great connection and wonderful chemistry on the dancefloor.

Next came Ruth with a Foxtrot.  Ruth has been struggling lately and hit an all-time low last week with the Paso and sadly this week wasn't much better.  She was choppy and not very graceful and for once lacking in any kind of humour to save her.  Bottom of the leaderboard yet again.

However, following on from Ruth was Davood and he was doing the Charleston.   It was FANTASTIC!! He is slowly coming up and up and the others need to watch themselves because he is a real contender for the final.  He was cheeky and cheerful, he had swivel in his feet and his strength on the lifts is incredible.  Another one to watch.

Next to dance was Gemma.  Now, I really liked her Viennese Waltz.  I thought she looked very elegant and graceful and she performed an amazing number of turns at the end, so much so she went dizzy.  However, the judges didn't really rate her that highly and felt she wasn't up to standard although she did end up mid-table.  Still, I hope she's safe because I really enjoy watching her.

Alexandra was next and she and her partner Gorka were performing the first Argentine Tango of the series.  I like the dramatic feel of the Argentine Tango and I especially enjoyed the one from Lousie Redknapp last year so I was looking forward to this, even though I am not a fan of Alexandra.  She didn't disappoint me though and her footwork was excellent and the whole feel of the dance was sharp and sexy from start to finish.

Mollie was up next and she was dancing the Paso Doble.  Mollie has been in the dance-off for the last two weeks so she must have been hoping to improve but her confidence is shot.  You can tell when she dances and the judges picked up on it, although I don't feel it was as bad as they marked her. The scores won't have done well for her nerves.

Jonnie was our penultimate dancer of the evening. He was also doing the Foxtrot, it's a dance that a lot of celebs have struggled with this year and Jonnie was no exception.  After a bad couple of weeks doing Latin numbers, I was looking forward to seeing him return to the comfort of ballroom this week.  However, he looked very uncomfortable and his posture seemed all wrong.  It was almost as though he was concentrating so hard on holding his lower half in (which is hard for an athlete as that's where their power comes from) that everything else seemed to be lost and he did not look comfortable at all.  he could be in real danger this week coming in just above Ruth on the leaderboard.

Closing the show was Debbie.  She was dancing a Salsa this week, trying to emulate her perfect score of last week.  Sadly, it wasn't quite up to par and a few little mistakes should really have cost her more than it did.  I think she was slightly overmarked by the judges but it was still a great routine and a jaw-dropping spinning lift that shows just how agile and nimble she really is for her age.

So by the end of the evening, the leaderboard looked like this

Davood & Nadiya38
Alexandra & Gorka38
Debbie & Giovanni35
Joe & Katya33
Gemma & Alijaz28
Susan & Kevin27
Mollie & AJ22
Jonnie & Oti21
Ruth & Anton18

So Sunday night saw a beautiful Remembrance Day routine from the Pro Dancers and a performance from Seal, accompanied by a lovely performance from Anton and Nadiya.

Then onto the results and the first couple into the dance off was Jonnie.  Not really a surprise given his position on the leaderboard and it certainly wasn't his best dance.   He was joined in the dance-off by Ruth, which shows there is justice in the world.  So it was the battle of the Foxtrots.  Ruth went wrong after about 20 seconds and whilst Jonnie didn't look much more comfortable than he did the first time around, the judges felt he had improved and unanimously chose to save him and send Ruth home.

So once again Anton misses out on Blackpool, it's time the poor guy caught a break but sadly not this year.  it's farewell to Ruth and for the remaining eight celebs it's time to bring out the Kiss Me Quick Hats and the stick of Rock.  Blackpool here we come!

Until then, keep dancing! 

Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1

Monday, 6 November 2017

Calendar Girls - Nov 2017 - best end of a series - #CalendarGirlsBooks

Calendar Girls is hosted by bloggers, Flavia the Bibliophile and Melanie Noell Bernard – both have amazing blogs full of fun, bookish posts. Calendar Girls is a brand new monthly blog event inspired by Neil Sedaka’s 1961 song Calendar Girl. Just like in the song, we decided to use a specific theme for each month and choose a book based on these themes! The event is meant to incite discussions with other bloggers about books we’ve read and loved, is meant to help bloggers meet other bloggers, and also for bloggers and readers to find out about blogs which they normally may not have come across! Want to know more? Click on the links above! And it’s not too late to jump on the Calendar Girl train! Join now!

Best End of a Series

I was kind of stumped for what I was going to pick for this one. There are so, so many series endings that I hate that it was hard to think of what one I would consider the best. I hated the way Mockingjay ended off The Hunger Games series, I thought that one death at the end just ruined it. I had the exact same problem with how the Divergent series ended in Allegiance. And a similar problem with Champion's ending for the Legend series. I couldn't even bring myself to finish the last book in A.G. Howard's Splintered series because I found out about her cop-out ending and got pissed off. I didn't make it to the end of the second Cassie Clare Shadowhunter series because the 5th book annoyed me and I found out that Clare is not a nice person which put me off wanting to read the last book. To this day I still have not read The Last Battle because I found out what happens and didn't like the way it ended Narnia.

I was video chatting with Angie yesterday and she pointed out that the obvious answer should be Deathly Hallows and I replied with she's right except for one very, very big reason why I will never say that book is the best ending to the Harry Potter series. The Epilogue. It was satisfying in the moment of first reading, but that hasn't lasted. I especially can't forgive the epilogue of Deathly Hallows because it begat Harry Potter and the Cursed Child which is just bad - it's like badly written fanfiction and I just can't think of it as canon. So if I could say "Deathly Hallows minus the epilogue" that would be my answer. But I can't justify that because the epilogue exists and cannot be unattached from the novel, and therefore I cannot and will not pick it as my choice for best end of a series.

Now don't go thinking that I just hate series endings in general. There have been a lot of series endings that I have actually really enjoyed. I think Darkest Road ended the Fionavar Tapestry perfectly. I love how L.J. Smith ended the Dark Visions series in The Passion. Of all the Kelley Armstrong series that I've read her endings have never let me down, there's Forest of Ruin, The Reckoning, and The Rising. Patricia C. Wrede ended the Enchanted Forest Chronicles superbly in Talking to Dragons. Blood Prophecy was a satisfying ending to Alyxandra Harvey's Drake Chronicles. And really, you can't go wrong with Rick Riordan, I feel like he always ends his series really well.

So after all of that, which novel did I end up choosing as my pick for the best end of a series? Let's see:

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Strictly Come Dancing Week 7 - Halfway through

Welcome back my lovely dance fans.  Halfway through the competition now and only 10 couple left.  Some surprises this week, some good, some bad, some ugly.  An unexpected score of four, the first perfect 40, Craig on his knees in adoration and Anton on the floor underneath Ruth!!! What on earth is going on under those Strictly lights?

First up to dance this week is Alexandra.  She was dancing the Cha Cha Cha, which has proven to be quite a tricky routine this year.  Not many celebs who have performed it so far have come out of it too well.  Not Alexandra though.  As much as I don't like her as a person, she definitely lit up the dance floor with a fantastic performance.  It was certainly one to set the standard of the show, scoring her an almost perfect score of 39.

Following her was Mollie.  She was dancing the Foxtrot and she was certainly more comfortable to be back in hold and back to the ballroom.  Apart from a slight slip up about halfway through, she looked elegant and graceful and it was definitely one of her better dances.

Next up was the cheeky chappie Joe.  He and Katya were doing my favourite dance, the Charleston.  They were dressed as little drummers and he had the cutest rosy cheeks.  The dance was pretty great as well and it was enjoyable, cheeky, not too cheesy and very well executed.  Scoring them an even run of 9s from each judge, he's looking better and better for the final.

After Joe came Gemma doing a Salsa.  I like Gemma, she's been looking better and better as the weeks went on but sadly the Salsa was not for her.  She seemed very hesitant, as though she was scared and seemed to really struggle with it.  She had moments where she loosened up but then she'd overthink and it became laboured again.  She might be in danger this week.

Talking of struggling, Aston was doing the Viennese Waltz and again, it was not his dance.  He's definitely better at Latin than Ballroom and the whole theme of the dance seemed at odds with the style of Viennese Waltz.  He got marked 4 by Craig, he's never had a score that low the whole series, the rest of the judges were more generous with 7s but it put him next to the bottom of the leaderboard, a very unfamiliar place for him to be.

If I thought Gemma and Aston were bad, Ruth was a sight to behold and not in a good way.  She was dancing the Paso Doble and it was awful.  It was choppy, it was stompy, it was unbelievably camp and even Craig described it as a drag act.  To top things off, Anton then fell over at the end of the routine and Ruth landed on top of him (although not sure we needed the dramatics from Ruth, I won't say anymore but check out the clip for yourself.  My eyes!)  The best part of this routine was the singer.

Finally something good again and it came from the lovely Debbie McGee.  She was doing the Tango this week and although the music seemed an extremely odd choice and for me, it seemed totally wrong, but the dance itself was flawless and she scored a perfect 40.  In a Strictly first, Craig stood up, came around the front of the judge's table and got down on his knees and bowed to her, he was that blown away by the sheer quality that came from her.  Giovanni knows how to bring the best out of her and she certainly delivered this week.  The lady is amazing.

Ahhh Jonnie.  The lovely Jonnie Peacock and I really do mean lovely.  The man was looking pretty smoking hot tonight, in my mind, he's channelling Chris Hemsworth in Thor (but that could be because I went to see it Friday night) but he was looking mighty fine tonight. It's just a pity his dancing isn't as hot as his body.  He's another one, like Mollie, who is not good at Latin and needs to loosen up a lot.  Oti knows how to showcase a partner and the lifts she gave him and the trust she has in him are incredible, the routine was just let down by the lack of hip action and fluidity from Jonnie.  Hopefully, he'll be back and in the ballroom again next week, just please let's have him back in hold.

After a rough couple of weeks, Susan was up doing the Jive and oh my what a jive.  Like her Quickstep a few weeks back, she was light on her feet, she was always moving and bouncing around the floor like a trooper.  After narrowly avoiding a dance-off in the last two weeks, tonight she thoroughly deserved her place in the top half of the leaderboard.

Closing the show was Davood.  Thankfully, Nadiya has eased up on trying to be sexy all the time and focussed on his technique and made it more romantic than sexy.  Their American smooth was polished, elegant, well timed and classy.  As for that one-armed lift, it really brought the house down and was a perfect end to a fabulous show.

So by the end of the evening, the leaderboard was looking like this:

Debbie & Giovanni40
Alexandra & Gorka39
Joe & Katya36
Davood & Nadiya35
Susan & Kevin29
Mollie & AJ27
Jonnie & Oti27
Gemma & Alijaz26
Aston & Janette25
Ruth & Anton22

Very surprising to see Aston where he was but it just shows how quickly things can change from week to week.

On to Sunday night and following a Prince tribute routine from the pros, it's down to the important stuff and the votes are in.  Amazingly the first couple into the dance-off is Aston and Janette.  I honestly never thought this would happen.  Given the way he has been throughout the series, I would not have expected to see him in a dance-off this soon.  He will face Mollie and AJ who sadly have been here before in last weeks face off with Simon and Karen.  Both couples were massively improved on the night and the judge's decision was so close.  Craig opted to save Mollie, but both Darcey and Bruno opted to save Aston.  This meant that Shirley, as head judge got the casting vote so whoever she voted for went through.  In a MASSIVE shock, she voted to save Mollie and AJ which meant Aston is out.  I would have bet my house on Aston being in the final. It's a good job I don't own a house really.

So now the competition has been blown wide open and with four slots open for the final, and one of the front-runners now eliminated it really is anyone's for the taking.  Nobody can take their place in this competition for granted and they all need to be dancing their socks off to get through.

Next week sees the first Argentine Tango of the series and the remaining nine couples fighting for a place in Blackpool's famous tower ballroom. My apologies in my last post, I thought Blackpool was next week but it's the week after.  Week 9 is Blackpool week. However, it's certainly getting interesting.

Until then, keep dancing!

Week 6 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Tasty Tuesday - Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

  • 175g (6oz) butter, cubed plus extra for greasing
  • 175g (6 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 275g (10oz) caster sugar
  • 80g (31/4 oz) plain flour
  • 40g (11/2 oz) cocoa powder
  • 100g (31/2 oz) pecan nuts, chopped
  • 100g (31/2 oz) fudge, diced

20cm (8in) shallow square baking tin or silicone pan

  1.  Put the butter and chocolate into a large bowl placed over a saucepan of just-simmering water (making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water) and heat, stirring occasionally until the butter and chocolate are melted and smoothly combined. Remove from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature.
  2.  Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3.  Grease the baking tin with a little butter and line with baking parchment or place the silicone pan on a baking tray.  Put the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and whisk together until the mixture is a pale colour and has doubled in volume, about 8 minutes.  Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg and sugar mix and fold together.
  3.  Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and fold in gently, then fold in the chopped nuts and diced fudge.  Spoon the mixture into the baking tin or pan and gently level.
  4.  Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the brownie is just set.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little in the tin or pan before turning out and cutting into 12 rectangles. Serve either hot or cold.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Strictly Come Dancing Week 6 - Halloween Week

First of all, I must apologise for not posting a recap of Week 5.  The time just got away from me and every time I remembered it needed writing, I was distracted by something else.  So many apologies to anyone who reads my ramblings.  So just to sum up last week in a few sentences, Joe got his first 10 for his Paso, Debbie is back on form after a fabulous Rumba and topped the leaderboard, four couples were joint bottom (Brian, Susan, Simon and Ruth), Anton DuBeke blinded the nation with a bright pink frilly shirt, Bruno Tonioli was absent from the panel due to prior commitments and Craig Revel Horwood fell off his chair impersonating the aforementioned Bruno.  I think he's been on the happy pills as he wasn't his usual scathing self to most contestants but you have to check this out. Seriously, never seen anything so funny.

So the results last week on Sunday, the bottom two were Simon Rimmer against Brian Conley in the dance off.  Both performed badly in the dance-off, Simon fell over and Brian forgot the routine.  In the end, all four judges chose to save Simon and Brian left the competition.

So onto this week and Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.  Yes, it's Halloween week on Strictly.  This means more amazing costumes, lots of practical jokes and Craig.  Yes, Craig was back to normal this week, it was pretty unnerving watching him be nice to people.  There were some fantastic dances in the mix as well which always makes for good viewing however, there were a lot of horrors.

Although saying that, first up was Jonnie and I'm glad to see his sense of humour showing.  What else could a partial amputee be other than a pirate?  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to save his Cha Cha Cha and the rest of him was as wooden as his leg.  Not his best dance at all!  Next up was Ruth as Samantha from Bewitched and it's a pity her dancing isn't as good as Anton's rabbit impression.  The judges think she's improving but I thought Jonnie's leg had more life in it.

Then it was Simon's turn and his American Smooth was anything but.  Again he was wooden and how he has remained in the competition this long is a miracle.  His best bit? Having to not speak during the judge's comments because he had a mouthful of dry chicken.  That'll teach you to eat your props!

Finally, we got some decent dancing next and it came from Gemma.  She and Alijaz did a Jive dressed as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  For someone whose own mother described her as a baby elephant, she is light on her feet and her kicks and flicks were pretty impressive to an untrained eye.  I hope she goes a lot further in this competition.  Speaking of going further, my mate Joe was on next.  Now I have mentioned before about Joe being very up and down in consistency from week to week.  He'll have a good dance then he'll have a bad one, another good, then bad etc.  So after having a storming week last week with an amazing Paso, I was expecting a bad week for him but I was delighted to see another fabulous routine.  Even dressed as a spider couldn't make me stop watching his Foxtrot, I loved it.  He's another one I want to see stay for a while longer.

Next up were a pair of cheeky devils, Mollie and AJ.  Dancing to Kylie Minogue no less. Their Cha Cha Cha was a lot better than Jonnie's but she does need to loosen up.  She's said many times that she prefers to be in hold in the ballroom dances, she's not keen on the Latin.  Next up was Alexandra and she was dancing the Tango.  Her routine was pretty good, which is fairly consistent for her, although she had a bad week last week with her Samba.  Her eyes freaked me out this week though as she had a contact lens in one as part of her costume (she was a zombie) but it gave me the shivers.

Davood was next, his dance was the Rumba and he's the first male celeb to dance this so far this series.  It's known to be difficult for male celebs to dance, not sure why but that's always cropped up every year.  Now I'm no technical expert so I am only going by what the judges said which was that it lacked much Rumba content, but as a dance to watch it was a nice routine.  Next up was Susan and she was dancing the Foxtrot to Killer Queen by Queen dressed as the Queen of Dragons from Game of Thrones.  Enough said really, not her finest hour and the studio singers could NOT sing the song, it was an appalling version.  Poor Freddie Mercury must be spinning in his grave.

The last two dances of the night belonged to Debbie and Aston.  Debbie was first dancing the Charleston and was incredible.  The legs on that woman are in better condition than many people half her age, she's amazing and thoroughly deserving of her near-perfect score of 39 (you meanie Craig, only a 9).  She was followed by Aston and he did the Paso Doble.  On paper, it didn't sound like it would work.  A modern Paso with contemporary hip-hop moves to the Nirvana song Smells Like Teen Spirit.  It sounds like a recipe for disaster but this is Aston and as much as I don't like him, he made it work and bagged himself a couple of 10s from the judges.

So by the end of the night, the spooky scores on the devilish doors were 

Debbie & Giovanni39
Aston & Janette38
Alexandra & Gorka35
Joe & Katya32
Gemma & Alijaz30
Mollie & AJ27
Davood & Nadiya25
Ruth & Anton22
Jonnie & Oti20
Susan & Kevin18
Simon & Karen16

So the results show on Sunday night and the scariest thing about it? No not Craig Revel Horwood (I do like him really) or Shirley Ballas (can't stand the woman).  It was a performance from the group Steps.  I think I've been sucked into a Time Warp, oh no they've just reformed.  Oh dear lord!

Moving swiftly on!

Into the dance-off were two completely different couples.  Simon and Karen (no surprises there) but they were up against Mollie and AJ.  I really can't understand how she was in the dance-off.  I admit she's not the best in there but there was no way she was in the bottom two surely.  Anyway, they both performed again and in a unanimous 4-0 vote, Mollie won out over Simon and finally, justice was served and Simon Rimmer is eliminated.  I don't dislike the man, but he should stick to cooking as he is good at that.  Dancing however, not so much.

So next week is week 7 and all couples will be hoping to impress the judges and viewers in the hope of surviving to the following week which is Blackpool! Everyone wants to dance at Blackpool Tower but unfortunately, one couple won't make it.  I bet it's Ruth, poor Anton never usually gets to Blackpool.

Until then everyone, keep dancing!

Week 4 | Week 3  | Week 2 | Week 1

Monday, 16 October 2017

Strictly Come Dancing 2017 - Week 4

WOW! What an amazing week of dancing.  Our remaining thirteen celebs have really upped their game this week, well most of them anyway.  For me, Week Four is always a bit of a comedown after Movie Week but this year, OMG! Sorry about all the capital letters but seriously folks, this week saw some outstanding performances and some real surprises and our first 10s of the series.

First of all, I am really taking a dislike to Shirley Ballas.  When she first joined as head judge, I thought she wasn't too bad but as the weeks have gone on, she is overly harsh to the dancers she clearly doesn't like and she is definitely biased.  She also needs to learn the names of the celebs she is talking to.  In the first week, she called Chizzy 'Lizzie' and had to be corrected by Darcey.  This week when criticising Charlotte, she called her 'Mollie'.  No-one bothered to correct her, they probably didn't think it was worth the effort, given her attitude.

Anyway, onto the dances.  First up was Debbie and I have to say the last two weeks have seen a drop in standards from her.  This week her Cha Cha Cha wasn't as good as we would expect, given how lithe and supple she has shown herself to be.  I had previously thought she was heading straight for the finals but now she may have some competition on her hands.   She did do an amazing standing split though. Next up was Brian.  Brian never fails to deliver the entertainment factor even if the technique isn't always spot on.  He was dancing the Paso Doble and was dressed as a rock star.  He really amuses me and he is genuinely delighted with the scores he gets and is always so thrilled with any positive comments he gets. Next up was Mollie doing the Salsa.  Mollie is slowly improving but she needs to loosen up a little, although this week wasn't too bad.  Again, like in last week's American Smooth, AJ put in some amazing lifts and apart from the final one where she hit the floor slightly, they were impressive.

Davood was next and he had been previously criticised for the routines being overly sexy and not enough dance content.  This week he had the Viennese Waltz and all the spinning and turning left him physically ill.  In fact, it was touch and go if he would be able to perform after the dress rehearsal on Saturday afternoon.  He suffers from motion sickness so he resorted to wearing anti sickness bands on his wrists and he got through it. Not only did he get through but he scored his highest mark yet and gave a beautiful performance, not sexy but romantic. Next, we had Charlotte.  I do like Charlotte, she is such a sweet girl, it's just a shame she can't dance.  She did the Jive this week and she did show some improvement from the last two weeks.  She is heading in the right direction, she just isn't in the same league as some of the others and won't last much longer.

Following Charlotte was Joe.  Now Joe is this year's Greg Rutherford for me.  If you recall last years blog, I had a real soft spot for Greg and was gutted when he left, even though I knew he wasn't going to make it to the final.  Joe is the same for me this year.  I adore him, he's such a cheeky chappie and he really tries hard.  The problem is that he isn't consistent enough.  He had two great weeks in week 1 and week 3.  Unfortunate, y he then dipped in Week 2 and again this week.  His Cha Cha Cha was too wooden and stilted and not his best routine.  Knowing Joe, he'll be back next week with a great performance. Ruth was doing the Tango this week.  Now I have never been a big fan of Ruth but this week I was actually quite impressed.  She had a good hold, good frame and never missed a beat.  You could tell she really worked hard at this routine and clearly, the Tango is her dance.  She actually deserves to stay this week, which is not something I have previously thought of her.

Aston was up doing the Quickstep next.  Now you all know I am not an Aston fan, but I have not been able to criticise him much.  UNTIL NOW!  He was still good, compared to a lot of the others, but the Quickstep was not his dance.  He's definitely a Latin man, the ballroom is not his forte.  He just seemed to struggle to keep up with the pace of the dance and didn't look comfortable at all, although he still continued to play to the cameras with his cockiness.  At the other end of the spectrum, Simon was dancing the Samba and it was bad.  He hasn't got the natural sway needed for this dance and it was awkward to watch.

Up next was Gemma dancing the Paso Doble.  Oh my word, this girl has come on leaps and bounds since week one and has steadily improved week after week.  This was an amazing Paso and her whole performance was smooth, polished and fierce.  Oh boy was she fierce.  She scored a whopping 35 points and has impressed the judges.   However, she was followed by Alexandra and if I thought gemma's performance was impressive, Alexandra just blew everyone away.  It was almost like deja vu from Ore last year.  Ore scored 39 for his jive last year in week four.  This year Alexandra performed the Jive in week Four and also scored an incredible 39 points.  She got 3 10s, the first of the series, with only Craig scoring her 9.  The poor girl was just so overcome she burst into tears. (She lost her mum just after joining the Strictly line up and she was just overcome with the whole result.)

Next up we had the lovely Jonnie, or should that be the sexy, sultry Jonnie.  Oooooh, his American Smooth was incredibly smooth.  He's also one getting better and better and moving up that leaderboard.  Of course, he has the incredible Oti as a partner, her routines and choreography are just outstanding, as we saw last year with her partnership with Danny Mac so she knows exactly how to get the best out of her partners and knows how to show them off to the best of their abilities.
Our final dance came from Susan and she was also dancing the Quickstep.  She was absolutely brilliant and so light on her feet which I didn't really expect from her.  The routine was lively and fun and a fantastic tribute to Morecambe & Wise at the end.  What a way to end the show.

At the end of the night, the leaderboard looked like this

Alexandra & Gorka39
Gemma & Alijaz35
Aston & Janette32
Jonnie & Oti31
Susan & Kevin30
Davood & Nadiya29
Debbie & Giovanni27
Mollie & AJ27
Joe & Katya24
Ruth & Anton24
Brian & Amy21
Charlotte & Brendan19
Simon & Karen19

On to Sunday night and the results.  The first couple into the dance-off was Davood! I don't think anyone expected this, there were a few gasps and stunned faces all around.  He took it well, although I don't think he relished having to spin round so much again.  He was joined in the dance-off by Charlotte which wasn't wholly unexpected.

Davood actually performed even better in the dance-off, correcting a mistake from Saturday night (he actually lifted his partner off the ground slightly which is illegal in the Viennese Waltz). This time he left her lower to the ground so her feet remained on it.  Charlotte still performed badly so it was inevitable that she would be the one to leave.  As I said, lovely girl but she just can't dance so in the end, it was the right result.  It was unanimous with the judges as all four votes went to Davood.

So, a great week and the bar has been raised.  Let's see what week five will bring us.

Until then, keep dancing.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Strictly Come Dancing 2017 Week 3 - MOVIE WEEK

Da da da da da da da, da da da da da!

It's time for Strictly to hit the red carpet as it's Week 3 which can mean only one thing.  It's MOVIE WEEK!!  No prizes here for guessing this is my favourite week, with Musicals Week being a close 2nd.  There were some Oscar-winning performances and some Razzies too but it was a Spectacular Week!

A huge shout out to the make-up and wardrobe departments.  I mean, the dancers look great every week but themed weeks are always outstanding when it comes to the costumes and the whole look in general.  Strictly really does go to town for Movie Week (Hollywood or La La Land).

So after an opening number from the celebs and pros, which paid homage to La La Land but wasn't my cup of tea at all, we move onto the celebs third dance.  14 remaining contestants are hoping to avoid the dreaded dance-off and elimination but which were Best Heroes and which were best Villians?

Another outstanding dance from Aston Merrygold this week.  He and Janette were dressed as Trolls and dancing the Cha Cha Cha and to quote Craig 'You are good aren't you darling?'  He is good, but he knows it too which is what puts me off him.  I think unless something goes drastically wrong, he's going to make the final.  He's another Danny Mac, but whereas Danny Mac and Aston both had prior dance experience and from week one they led the field, Danny was likeable and genuinely modest about his abilities whereas Aston just comes across as cocky.  It may be just me but something about him annoys me.  My favourite routine this week came from Gemma Atkinson and Alijaz.  They were doing the Charleston and the music was 'The Bare Necessities' from The Jungle Book.  Disney and Charleston.  My favourite movie genre and my favourite dance.  I was either going to love this or hate this.  Fortunately, I loved it!  It was playful, well danced and even Alijaz losing an ear didn't change how much I enjoyed this routine.  Gemma is improving week after week and she's having so much fun with it.

Also improving each week is Molly King.  Her American Smooth was just that.  Smooth, outstanding lifts and a fantastic connection with her partner AJ.  I said from the start I wanted her to do well and after an iffy jive in week one, she's really started to show promise now and her performances are getting stronger.

Another one of my favourites was Joe McFadden. He had a bad week last week with his Tango after a great first week Jive.  He was certainly the comeback kid this week as he danced a Doctor Zhivago themed Viennese Waltz and the difference was amazing.  It looked almost flawless to an untrained eye.  What gets me is the fact he can't stop smiling. It will make his Paso Doble interesting if he gets to dance that, he can't be smiley and happy during that.

Speaking of Pasos, we had two very different ones this week.  We had a halfway decent one from Jonnie Peacock and a truly dreadful one from Rev Richard.  Also struggling were Simon Rimmer (another Disney routine but awful), Ruth Langsford (as a Bond girl, please no!) and Charlotte Hawkins (Top Gun, more like a loaded gun at her head).  Debbie McGee didn't perform well this week although I think she was penalised unfairly with an unknown rule from Craig.  I've never heard the 10-second rule mentioned before when judging a Quickstep and I'm sure Simon and Karen had the same but it wasn't brought up.  Much improved was Brian Conley who's Wizard of Oz themed American Smooth was fun and entertaining, if not entirely technically correct. He certainly had a lot of fun with it and he was so overjoyed at getting a 5 from Craig, it was so sweet.

So at the end of Saturday night, the leaderboard looked like this:-

Aston & Janette35
Alexandra & Gorka33
Joe & Katya32
Gemma & Alijaz31
Mollile & AJ30
Debbie & Giovanni29
Jonnie & Oti26
Davood & Nadiya25
Brian & Amy22
Susan & Kevin20
Simon & Karen19
Charlotte & Brendan17
Ruth & Anton15
Rev Richard & Dianne14

So onto Sunday night and the votes are cast.  First off was an AMAZING Disney themed dance by the pros.  As a Disney fan (have I mentioned this before?), again I was going to love or hate it and I LOVED IT!  It was a spectacular sight.  Thumbs up to the pros for this.  There was also a midway performance by Sheridan Smith which I wasn't expecting to like but I did.  She can sing and create a performance and combine well with the pro dancers, a lot of guest performers on Strictly are either poor mimers or you can't hear them.  This was actually very very good.
Onto the eliminations and the two couples into the dance off are Simon and Karen up against Rev Richard and Dianne.

Neither couple performed well, however, the right decision was made to save Simon and we say farewell and Hallelujah to the Rev Richard as he leaves the show.  He was entertaining but cannot dance so it is right that he departs now and doesn't become another Ed Balls and linger longer than he deserves.  Without the technique, there is only so far entertainment can take you (Brian and Susan take note).

So the remaining 13 couples continue to Week 4.  Let's see what drama unfolds next week (unless Brendan can keep his mouth shut).

Until then, keep dancing

Week 2 | Week 1