01.11.08 After me daring to suggest in recent weeks that the shark is circling around "Strictly Come Dancing", two things happened. The first was that it hammered Simon Cowell’s X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent at this week’s National Television Awards; the second was that, finally, this week, the show came good after a few off-the-boil weeks.
Why was this week different? Well, Brucie was on very sharp form for starters (did he get a new scriptwriter?), and there wasn’t that undercurrent of tension present in recent weeks.
This week also saw the standard of dancing significantly improve, well most of it anyway - John Sergeant and Andrew Castle were still there - but most of the ‘dead wood’ has now been evicted from the competition.
The first 10 of this series was awarded to - no surprise here - Austin Healey. The little rugby man is so far ahead of everyone else in the contest that he is now unstoppable. Although I thought the same about Colin Jackson in a previous series, so anything is possible. His closest challenger, Tom Chambers, delivered a dramatic paso doble. I’m glad that his partner Camilla has really come into the spotlight this series. It will be good if either she or Erin (Austin’s partner) win this year.
There’s something bothering Brendan Cole this year, it’s as if his heart isn’t in it, but he’s still doing his best to turn Lisa Snowdon into a contender. Their tango this week was particularly good.
Arguably the most improved of the celebrities over recent weeks is previous bottom-two Jodie Kidd, who has blossomed gracefully in ballroom, however she will be tested again once she has to do the Latin again.
Someone who has been shown up in Latin is Cherie Lunghi, who has been overmarked and overrated since the beginning. Why is she being talked up by the judges so much? Is it just cause she’s ‘mature’? She hasn’t really done anything special IMHO.
Christine and Matthew were a little dull, as they seem to be every week: is it only Matthew’s fanbase that’s keeping them in?
Dance-Off: Despite John being bottom of the judges’ scoreboard, he has become the cult audience favourite of this series: search for John Sergeant’s paso doble on YouTube for evidence! There has been some controversy over recent weeks regarding possible racial voting bias by the public, which resulted in two black contestants, Heather Small and Don Warrington in the bottom two. Don went that week, but Heather survived and after all the media coverage, she managed to stay out of the bottom two last week. Heather is paired with one of the new dancers this year: the excellent American Brian Fortuna who is amazing in his Latin discipline.
This week when it was ‘as you were’ and the bottom two would be her and A.N. Other. That other person being GMTV’s Andrew Castle, who managed to keep up that programme’s incredible tradition of presenters with two left feet. Being paired with attention-seeking Ola Jordan didn’t help either: she was never a favourite with the public. Punching the air and shoulder-shimmying does not a great Latin dancer make, and his time was finally up. Heather meanwhile made some improvement in her cha-cha-cha to "American Boy", however her days are also numbered: who will be in the bottom two with her next week? Will it be time for the ‘shock eviction’ of one of the favourites perhaps?