Sunday, 3 January 2010

Cat's got the cream

Auditions: 2nd January 2010

Before we get going with the recap, a few matters of business: first of all, this blog is the first of at least two collaborations between Telly Bitching and the superbly talented Monkseal (hello - Chris) . While Chris is coming over to join me to recap this for one of our blogs, I'll be going over to join him for a bit more collaborative recapping when American Idol starts again in a few weeks. It will either be the most inspired union since cheese and pickle or a horrible, horrible mess. Let's hope it's the former, eh? And the second matter of business concerns the blog's title: yes, we know that So You Think You Can Bitch would've been a better one, and believe me when I say that was our first preference, but Blogger told me it was unavailable, so I can only assume some chancer beat me to it (and then didn't even bloody use it - Chris) , and we had to settle for this one, which I think is at least a satisfactory compromise. Right, with that all sorted, shall we get on with the show?

We begin with some slow motion footage of people doing dancing and that, while Cat Deeley informs us that for the past six years, a certain show has taken American audiences by storm. Well, you would say that, Cat: you've been presenting it. I think we need a slightly more impartial testimony from someone if we're to really believe what we're being told. Anyway, it's finally arrived in the UK - hurrah! Cat informs us that over the next hour, we'll be seeing all the drama of this dance extravaganza. Since this audition show is 75 minutes long, she doesn't clarify what we'll be doing for the other 15 minutes, but part of me hopes it's a focus group, just so I can scrawl "MARY MURPHY FOR GUEST JUDGE" on a bit of paper and hand it to someone with the power to make it happen. Cat VO continues that the judges have been searching the country for the individual who will be crowned Britain's Favourite Dancer. Note "favourite", not "best", which is probably just well after all the wank there was from certain corners of the internet about Chris Hollins winning the last series of Strictly Come Dancing. There are lots of shots of a very muscular man in tiny blue shorts, and I'm glad this show's making an early stab at securing the shallower viewing demographics. There will be cheers and tears, and the judges will be tough. This! Is So You Think You Can Dance!

Titles, which have been lifted pretty much wholesale from the US version, albeit with the theme music slightly slowed down, presumably so as not to alienate the old people who watch BBC One on Saturday nights. Still, I'm glad it made it over more or less intact, because Chris and I have referred to this show as "Shoogaboogabooga Dance" after the theme music for ages, and hopefully at last people will know what we're going on about. Well, I can dream.

Cat sways down an alleyway in a slightly ungainly fashion while repeating the show's remit, and revealing that the winner will get to dance in Hollywood and net themselves £100,000. A gaggle of waiting hopefuls cheer and bust out a bit of freestyling. We meet the judges: first of all, there's Nigel Lythgoe, best known to viewers in the UK for repeatedly calling Kym Marsh a fatass during Popstars. We see some footage of Younger Nigel being an (not very good - Chris) Actual Dancer, and some footage of him being an Emmy Award Winning TV Producer, and then him striding through an eerily deserted stage door of BBC Television Centre, complete with obedient mooks who open doors for him. I worked at TV Centre for several years, and let me tell you, back then you considered it a courtesy if people remembered not to let the door slam in your face. Ahh, the good old days. Nigel recalls the time when the press nicknamed him "Nasty Nigel", and says that he doesn't think he's ever been nasty, he thinks he's just been honest. Your mileage on that particular point is likely to depend on whether you thought Kym Marsh really was a fatass (or if she was annoying enough that it was funny anyway - Chris). He says that he's real, and if he tells someone they're not good enough, it's because they really aren't.

Joining Nigel will be former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips, who really should learn to say no (end sentence - Chris) to red highlights and backlighting, because they don't do her any favours. A slightly more flatteringly lit Arlene puts in an early bid for the Nicky Slater Memorial Mentioning The Title Of The Show As Often As Possible Award, saying "I hope we get a lot of dancers that think they can dance, and that we think can dance." Well, yes, that would be helpful (also, such a lie. They want people who don't think they can dance, so bounteous Judge Arlene can reveal it to them, and they can be humble, and then they can cry - Chris). Nigel says that Arlene has been a dancer, a choreographer and a judge, so he can't think of anybody better to be a judge on this show. The next few seconds are drowned out by Chris and me screaming "MARY MURPHY!" at the tops of our voices. Arlene says she will judge honestly, critically, firmly, but fairly. Nigel tells us that he and Arlene used to be contemporary choreographers at the same sort of time - she was working with Hot Gossip while he was with The Young Generation, and they've been friends for a long time. He says he has no doubt that Britain's favourite dancer will be a great dancer with tons of personality.

Cat tells us about the temporary judges who'll be helping out for the auditions tonight: legendary choreographer Priscilla Samuels (of whom we will see almost nothing), "Prince of UK commercial dance" Sisco Gomez, and Louise Redknapp, "trained dancer and ex-member of girlband phenomenon Eternal". Chris and I can't agree on whether Eternal were a phenomenon or not - he thinks not (because they didn't even have a top 3 single whilst Louise was in them. So not a phenomenon, except in the same way that potato blight is a phenomenon - Chris), but I was a massive stan back in the day and so think they totally were. In fact, Eternal was the very first gig I went to, with support from Michelle Gayle and MN8. Oh, the 1990s. Anyway, Louise is the guest judge we'll be seeing the most of tonight, and I think she comes out of it fairly decently, but we'll get to that over the course of the next 70 minutes.

Time for the auditions: Cat reveals that each dancer will have a minute to perform for the judges, and that there are 100 golden tickets available for the next stage, Choreography Camp, and the best dancers will sail right through. Those who don't impress will go straight now, and borderline contestants will have to wait around for a bit and do some partner work in the afternoon session.

We start in London, of course, with a slightly sozzled-looking Arlene telling us unnecessarily that London has lots of dance schools and theatres, so there should be lots of good dancers here. Nigel says he's not just looking for the best dancers, but the ones who have the potential to grow. At this point I feel it may have been unwise of the BBC to release the identities of the Top 14 contestants before Christmas, because it robs us of much suspense when we already know that first auditionee Charlie makes it to the live shows. Nigel perves over her for a bit before she does her routine to NSYNC's 'Pop'. Over the video, Charlie's VO tells us that she's 19 and from Beckenham, and has been rejected a lot at dance auditions, so she wants to prove to herself and the judges that she's Britain's Favourite Dancer. I'd say she really ought to be using "could be" in that sentence, because it's unlikely she's Britain's Favourite Dancer right now if she can't even book a gig (it would also help if she wasn't a bit rubbish (by the standard this show sets, don't hit me Charlie stans) - Chris). Her audition is energetic and show promise, though it maybe lacks a little refinement. Nigel says that her technique is good, and there's a nice quality to her work. Arlene says that she's absolutely phenomenal, and Sisco says that he lives for her, calling her a little firecracker. Well, I'm glad we're not overdosing on the hyperbole from the off or anything. Charlie gets a callback for the afternoon, but no golden ticket just yet. But she will get one, because she's in the Top 14. Because we already know this.

Next up is Roz Lynch from Dundee, who will get a lot of screentime tonight even though we know she doesn't make the finals. Roz is a Real Woman like Jodie Prenger and doesn't look like those typical skinny dancers, which we will hear a lot tonight. However, she's confident in her ability. Of course, on The X Factor this would all be a lead-up to one of those "hilarious" shit auditions, but because this is the BBC, she's actually pretty good. She's got good control of her body and moves around the stage pretty fluidly. Nigel says that she's certainly not the stereotypical dancer, and Arlene says she is proof that big girls can dance. Nigel warns her that there is partner work ahead, and that he wouldn't want to lift her, at which Roz is all "yup, yeah, I figured." However, the judges unanimously vote to put her through to the next round, and she's chuffed.

Montage time! The judges are seeing lots of people will potential. Arlene tells someone: "So you think you can dance? Yes, you can!" Arlene, sweetheart: this is the digital age. If people want to know which programme they're watching, there's a button on the remote that brings up an EPG which will tell us. We don't need you to remind us every five minutes, and if you continue to do so, then I assure you that you and I are going to fall the fuck out very quickly. Lots of dancers are very pleased to get through but, Cat's VO warns us, no one so far has shown real star quality. That doesn't bode well for Charlie, does it? Nigel says it's difficult to blow him away (not what I hear - Chris). Gosh, I wonder what's coming?

Cat tells us it's late in the afternoon as 25-year-old Hugo Cortes (the muscular guy in the tiny shorts we saw in the previews) takes to the stage. Hugo tells us he's from Brazil, and he's here to see if he can dance. There's a rare sighting of Priscilla on the judging panel, as Hugo does the splits and Arlene moans in pleasure. Hugo says that he lacks confidence and just came to do the audition to see how far he could go. Hugo's actually pretty amazing, pirouetting around and executing all these awesome balletic moves. Nigel calls a halt to the audition and the audience whoops. Nigel tells Hugo he's superb, and says that seeing Hugo on the stage he wondered if he was wearing a special effects suit of some kind. Heh. Arlene says that it's not often she watches dance and gets goosebumps (come off it, Arlene, we all saw you getting hot and bothered repeatedly on Strictly (over Lisa Snowdon - Chris), but seeing Hugo move, she wondered where he's been all her life. "He wasn't born for most of it, love!" crows Nigel. Priscilla says that the reason the show has come to the UK is to show off dancers like him. From Brazil. Hugo gets a golden ticket and is very excited.

Ugh, and then it's time for my least favourite lazy storytelling device of all reality TV: "and then the floodgates opened!" Lots of amazing people turn up (including Top 14 contestant Yanet), but we don't get to see any of them for long because we're off to Manchester. Nigel says that northerners have a great sense of humour, because they have to. First up is contemporary dancer Robbie White, who looks a bit like the outcome of Iain Lee mating with Draco Malfoy, and is also in the Top 14. He confesses that he has long limbs that make him look like a drunk spider, so he's got to do something with them. Cat informs us that Robbie has never danced professionally in the UK (I am immediately at this point imagining him being Aladdin to Kimberly from The Apprentice's Jasmine in Eurodisney - Chris) and is desperate to work closer to his family. Robbie auditions, is great, and gets Nigel and Arlene very excited, and gets a golden ticket. Next is Glasgow-born Claire Meehan, who leaps and bounds around the stage. Arlene says that people won't see how brilliant she is because Claire performs with a sense of modesty, and she'd love her to explode and show the world how good she really is (because if there's anything the reality tv viewing audience love it's women who are aware of how good they are - Chris). Claire goes backstage to see Cat, who reveals that Claire has a golden ticket, which Claire is pleased about in a modest sort of way.

And the stars keep on coming, including Top 14 contestant Gavin, and a blond girl whom I don't recognise. Next up to get an actual audition segment with the judges is 19-year-old Northern Irish Latin dancer, Jordan Stone. Backstage she tells Cat that she hasn't danced for about a year and this seemed like a good opportunity to get back into it. She was ranked fourth in the world in the under-21s, but then her partner decided he didn't want to dance with her any more, so they split up this time last year, and she hasn't danced since. Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe we have our first first SYTYCD:UK sob story! At least it's not being milked to Dead Relative levels just yet, though. Jordan does a sultry Latin routine, and Nigel says that some people just demand your attention on stage, which is what she did. He clarifies that she usually works with a partner, and Jordan says that she did find it a bit difficult on her own. Guest Judge Louise Redknapp says that she enjoyed watching her, and would be interested to see how she would be choreographed. Arlene likes Jordan's arms and thinks they're like Camilla Dallerup's (on the verge of snapping off in a light breeze? - Chris), so it's an automatic yes from her. Jordan makes it through to the afternoon session.

Then we're back in London, and -- hold on, what the fuck is this? We're told that the next auditionee is confident 34-year-old Fabia Cerra, but regular viewers of reality TV will know her as that woman with the massive tatas from Britain's Got Talent. Does this show think we don't know who she is, or are they hoping we've forgotten, or are they somehow unaware that she's already done the reality TV route? Also, she appears to have become a year younger since BGT, if the age given for her on the always-reliable Wikipedia is accurate. Fabia thinks Nigel will be impressed with her large burlesque moves. She performs to Flashdance and inelegantly rolls around the stage, while her VT informs us that not a lot of big women are as flexible as Fabia. She's slightly more together when she gets up off the floor, but she struts towards the judges and appears not to notice the edge of the stage, plummeting neatly into the auditorium. There are several excellent camp reaction shots of other dancers gasping in the audience, while Nigel calmly calls for a medic. Fabia is stretchered off for an x-ray, while hamming it up for the cameras. (What I liked about this was that it showed Fabia off as a deludanoid, saying "LARGE WOMEN CAN DANCE!" with the neat comparison of Ros only a few seconds before, showing that LARGE WOMEN CAN DANCE, but none of those LARGE WOMEN are Fabia Cerra. It also highlighted the reality tv snobbery chain, where the BBC treats an ITV contestant like scum, just ITV did when Shabnam from Big Brother showed up on Britain's Got Talent. Sorry I'm rambling already... - Chris)

Cat soberly VOs that even those who didn't fall off the stage weren't guaranteed of progressing, as several hopefuls are dismissed with comments like "that was slightly amateur - it would be great in an old folks home", complete with post-elimination angry VTs about how the judges don't know what they're talking about.

Following this, Cat informs the untrendy BBC One Saturday night audience that one of the most popular forms of dance in all the auditions across the country was that hip-hop stuff that all the kids are doing these days. Louise tells one girl who won't be making the Top 14 that it's hard to make locking look effortless, but she did. As someone who has an awful lot of trouble securing his own front door when he goes out, I concur. 18-year-old Billy from Edinburgh gets a featured slot, and is wearing a colourful hoodie that I rather covet. He thinks he's in the Top 10 dancers in the UK (spoiler: he's not in the Top 14 dancers on So You Think You Can Dance, though). He does a breakdancing hip hop routine to 'Pump It' by the Black Eyed Peas, which goes down well with the crowd - but what about the judges? Featured Judge Louise Redknapp tells him that this is how hip hop should be done, because he made her smile and want to get up and dance. Arlene says he's full of personality and has fleet footwork, and performs with warmth and a gorgeous smile. "What a lucky boy you are!" she says admiringly. Nigel tells him that he has a really good back somersault and he performed with incredible confidence, but wants to know how he'll cope when he can't do the steps. "I'll do the steps, but I'll make it look better," says Billy, and this seems to go down well with the judges, who opt to bring him back for the afternoon. Some more hip hop dancers get through, including TOP 14 STAR Mark from Milton Keynes, who posts lots of videos of himself on YouTube. He says that he has babies all over the world, and then frantically corrects himself that he has students all over the world. (OFSTED approved teaching terminology right there - Chris) Damn, I thought we were in for a juicy scandal there. Arlene says that when someone loves and feels the music as much as he does, it doesn't get better than that. Nigel agrees that he wants to see him again.

Next up is Tommy Franzen (TOP 14) (unfortunately 80% less hot than in his website photo...-Chris), who will be doing a fusion of b-boy and contemporary. Around 60% of the BBC One Saturday night viewing public respond, "y'wha'?" Arlene is on the edge of her seat watching him in a very literal sense, and says he thrills her with his intensity. Sisco loves him and thinks he ticks all the boxes, and awards him a golden ticket. Hipster-looking Lizzie Gough (TOP 14) is next (and is amazing - Chris): she trains every day, and talks about "growing within myself as a dancer", if that means anything to you. Nigel calls her an exceptional talent, and Arlene says that Lizzie moved her, taking hip hop and popping and turning it into something extraordinary. Arlene says that Lizzie is certainly in her Top 100, and Nigel agrees and hands over a golden ticket. Lizzie's reaction backstage is kind of brilliant, she's all "um, okay. I kind of wanted to do the afternoon session, but I'm not going to rock the boat." (amazing - Chris)

Cat informs us that the judges welcomed couples who wanted to audition together, and one that stood out was ballroom dancers Graham and Robyn from Manchester. They do a passable salsamba for their audition, and Nigel tells Graham that his technique is stronger than Robyn's, while Robyn was lazy and more of a social dancer. Arlene agrees that Graham is talented, while Robyn treated it more like a part-time hobby. Robyn tries to assure them that she is passionate about it, but to no avail. Nigel says that they can only judge what they've seen, and as far as he's concerned it's yes to Graham and no to Robyn. Arlene feels the same. Featured Judge Louise Redknapp would've said no to both (and to be honest, after seeing their audition a second time for recapping purposes, I'm inclined to agree with her (this is why neither you nor Louise will ever make it in the world of reality tv talent judging. YOU HAVE TO put through one and not the other. That's the whole point. THEY MIGHT GET DIVORCED! DRAMA! - Chris)- they were both reasonable dancers, but not really up to the standard of quality that this show is looking for), but since she's only a part-timer, Nigel and Arlene overrule her and put Graham through. Backstage, Robyn says she's happy for Graham but upset for herself. Graham says he couldn't have got through without her. And he probably won't be getting much further without her, either.

Now a brief break for a comedy contestant: 33-year-old part-time university lecturer Tiago Gambogi (and I have no idea if I've spelt that correctly - would it kill you, producers, to give us some chryons with people's names on them, to save the sanity of bloggers everywhere?) who has improbable hair and a very hairy chest, and is in a stripey catsuit. He runs around like a madman, prompting Nigel to refer to him as a "dancing deckchair" and does a fairly unconvincing routine. The whole thing is clearly a set-up from the get-go, because Nigel even gives Tiago the opportunity to say what he expects to happen (predictable answer: "It's a yes! Golden ticket!"), but the judges kindly disabuse him of the notion that he is what they are looking for. A montage of people in eye-catching costumes and/or with ill-advised choreography follows, with Nigel telling one auditionee that she'd be perfect if anyone ever makes a musical of The Exorcist (Andrew Lloyd Webber, I'm looking at you. "YOU COULD BE PAZUZU!" - Chris). Still, at least this show does things the right way round: focuses on the good auditionees and for the most part leaves the comedy failures for the montage. I hope you're paying attention, The X Factor.

Cat informs us that the solo auditions are now over, and the contestants who've made it this far now have to prove themselves with some choreography to get themselves a golden ticket. They'll be taught a routine to the Pussycat Dolls' 'Hush Hush Hush Hush' by leading choreographer Paul Domaine, and if they can master it, then they're through. If not, they're off. Billy is singled out as struggling with the moves. Nigel tells him he can still go a long way in this competition, but it'll have to be "in another season" - Billy's out. Also, I like the confidence that Nigel displays throughout this episode that this show will be successful enough to get another season/series. Then again, Strictly Dance Fever got two, so surely this has to at least match that? Billy takes his elimination on the chin and exits, promising that we'll see him again soon. Real Woman Roz handles the routine well - Nigel says that couples work was difficult for her, and he's not sure she'll get through to the show, but she has got through to the Top 100, so she's got a golden ticket. Roz runs out and cries on Cat in disbelief. Jordan gets through as well - she got lost during the routine, but was impressive enough at the beginning to merit a golden ticket. Several more people whom we have seen before but have not been given names for get through. With all of the golden tickets given out, the judges all high five each other - or at least attempt to do so, and fail rather embarrassingly. (Also, I'm slightly confused about the timeline here - presumably there were several "afternoon" sessions in the various cities, rather than just the one that the show implies there was, otherwise the whole part of people coming back "for the afternoon" gets really confusing because it means Nigel and Arlene were in several cities at the same time, and the idea of there being more than one of either of them is not something I wish to consider.) (a wizard did it - Chris)

Various members of the Top 100 (and there clearly aren't 100 of them in the shot that we see, so that does suggest there were several of these sessions held rather than just the one) celebrate their triumph, but Arlene isn't convinced just yet, pointing out that some of them were out of breath just after a short routine, and that the demands on them in Choreography Camp are going to be much tougher. Nigel informs us that Choreography Camp is three days of hard labour, a physical and mental test of every style they can throw at them.

The first technique being taught in Choreography Camp (held at Television Centre, in case you were wondering) is ballroom, which is being taught by overexposed Strictly Come Dancing a-hole James Jordan (and also Kristina Rihanoff, who is apparently not important enough to get mentioned in Cat's VO. Poor Kristina). James thinks that they will struggle because it's partnered dancing, where the male dancer has to lead and the female dancer has to follow. It's familiar territory for ballroom dancer Graham, but less so for Gavin, who trips in the dressing room practising his moves. Roz, who fears being lifted, is partnered with a Scottish guy, who fears lifting. That seems unfortunate (/contrived - Chris). Top 14 star Alastair admits it's "nerve-wracking". Milton Keynes Mark and Tommy are concerned that it's far from their wheelhouse. We only see brief smatterings of the actual performances, and then the judges (at this stage: Nigel, Arlene, Louise and bloody James) pass their verdict. Robbie gets through, as do "Bethany and Martin", whoever they are. Top 14 stars Anabel and Charlie succeed - in fact, everyone in their group does. Robbie tells Cat it was the first time he's ever done ballroom, and he really enjoyed it. Cat asks him about the lift at the end, and Robbie offers to demonstrate it with her. Cat declines, telling him: "we were friends until you asked me that." Hee.

Apparently the ballroom section got rid of 44 dancers, leaving us with 56 hopefuls still remaining, but the hard work continues with a hip hop routine choreographed by Kate Prince, of Into The Hoods. She thinks the dancers will find it a tough routine to learn because there are lifts and acrobatics. Top 14 star (and eventual winner - Chris) Alastair admits to being "a hip hop virgin". The rehearsals do not look promising, with Graham and Roz both struggling. There's a vaguely pointless insert here of Graham making Robyn go shopping with him in American Apparel for hip hop clothes to wear, which seems a little insensitive (at least they didn't black him up - Chris), quite frankly. The routine proves pretty difficult, with people getting sat on and kicked in the head and whatnot, and the performances take place at quarter to 10 at night. The performances are a bit of a mess - everyone looks shattered, and several people fluff large chunks of the routine. Arlene mutters to Nigel that she's made a list of people who absolutely can't do this at all (YOUR NAME VILL ALSO GO ON ZE LIST REDKNAPP - Chris). Erk. Nigel tells everyone that even though it's a tough routine and it's late at night, there's so much lacking in the routine he's just seen. Arlene says that hardly anyone even caught her eye. So Nigel sends everyone away, and they'll have to do it again in the morning. Everyone says they did terribly, including TOP 14 STARS Gavin and Alastair, while thus-far unseen TOP 14 STAR Chris says that they've been dancing from 6:30am to 10:30pm, which has been "16 hours of craziness". Well, at least he's good at maths, I guess. An unimpressed Arlene says they will be seeing everyone again, and she might as well just stay in her chair because she'll have to be back in a couple of hours. Oh, Arlene. I'd advise you get your beauty sleep.

It's morning, in what looks like a pretty nice hotel, and the contestants are having breakfast. IS OUR LICENCE FEE PAYING FOR THEIR SAUSAGES etc etc. Robbie thinks today will be even tougher than yesterday, because they have to redo the hip hop and do two more dances on top of it. Someone who I think may be TOP 14 STAR Hayley (but may possibly be someone else entirely) says that she's psyched herself up for a tough day. Graham says that the hip hop was tough, and he didn't realise how hard it was going to be. Back at TVC, Cat introduces the second attempt at the performances. Graham fails spectacularly at the routine, and is criticised by Arlene for not even trying to look comfortable with it, so he and his partner are sent home. Roz is in the next group, and Nigel tells her that she's not staying in the competition because she's an inspiration (THANK GOD), she's staying in the competition because she's good enough. Which she does actually appear to be, thankfully. Although Roz is getting an awful lot of screen time for someone who doesn't make the Top 14, I'm glad they aren't hammering home the REAL WIMMINZ ARE INSPIRATIONAL thing too much. TOP 14 STAR Alastair impresses Arlene because he managed to look comfortable with hip hop despite it not being his discipline (so winning - Chris) Hugo advances, while more people we don't know advance, some narrowly. There are 48 dancers left at the end. So, the unspeakably hard routine only ended up cutting eight people? (I would imagine they had to make up for a short-fall, after half the auditionees fled the building upon being told they had to partner James Jordan, on the presumption that this meant they would automatically be eliminated within about 3 weeks - Chris) Hmmm.

The next round is Broadway, which will be choreographed by Olivier-award winning choreographer Stephen Mear. They'll be dancing to 'America' from West Side Story, much to the delight of the remaining contestants. It does actually look like a really fun routine. TOP 14 STARS Charlie and Drew are dancing together. The contestants have just an hour to learn the routine before performing for the judges, and for some of them, it shows. Nigel does an actual headdesk at the end, and criticises them all for not remembering that they're portraying (jive-dancing - Chris) gang members. Jordan is criticised for not picking up the rhythm of the piece, and is sent home. She tells the camera, "I obviously wasn't good enough." Well, this is all very unsatisfying. Where are the bitter tears? Why is everyone on this show so level-headed?

Milton Keynes Mark says that it's hard to see people being cut. Though again only eight of them went, because 40 proceed to do contemporary dance with Mark Baldwin, artistic director of the Rambert Dance Company. He tells the remaining contestants that he looks after 22 of the world's best contemporary dancers, and he's expecting similar standards from them. The routine is to 'Happy' by Leona Lewis, which I know will make Chris happy ("So what if I'm boring? So what if I belt loud?" - Chris). He gives them some technical advice, which is nice to see, and seems to be quite encouraging. Drew says that it's getting more and more intense, and Roz is still struggling with being lifted, which prompts a flashback that unfolds in a way that's slightly different to how we saw it first time around: naughty editors! Roz (who is wearing a nametag that says "Rob" for some reason) is worried about letting her partner down. Some random dude says that they are literally dancing for their lives. Since he is not a TOP 14 STAR, it's just as well he's using that word incorrectly. As someone who enjoyed season six of the US version, I am pleased to see (eventual winner - Chris) Alastair sporting Jakob Karr Memorial Tiny Stretchy Pants. Milton Keynes Mark says that this must be why he's here: to test himself in all these styles that he doesn't know. He and his partner (Tanatha, a tap dancer) seem to struggle a bit with the routine to my eyes, but Arlene sees it differently: she thinks that seeing them move her to tears and having grown from their first appearance is what this competition is all about (I know I'm only here to see Arlene cry - Chris) Nigel asks Mark if anyone's ever spoken to him about the hydraulics of his feet and his knees. Mark has no idea what Nigel's on about, and so Nigel takes from that that he is a natural talent because he's been using them well anyway. He cites Mark as a great example of the raw talent that needs refining that this competition is searching for. Mark and Tanatha celebrate cutely. Roz struggles to get the lift off the ground necessary to complete this routine, and Nigel says that they've found the "flaw in [her] armoury" (he also says that it was very difficult to find which...given all that the woman ever said was "I CAN'T DO LIFTS!" over and over again... not so much - Chris), and while she's impressed them throughout the competition, this is where the story ends for her. Roz takes a moment to say how far she's come, because she's developed so much in her partnering - "I don't get lifted, I teach boys how to lift" - and thanks her partner (Alan, his nametag says) and she knows there's more in her. She's one of six dancers who didn't make it through this stage.

It's not over yet, though - for those who survived day two, they're getting split up into groups, and one member of each group must pick a CD out of Cat's box (fnar) (Them not having to choreograph a dance to "Let's Get Ready To Rumble" - this show's first mistake - Chris). They then have to listen to the music and choreograph a routine overnight and perform it for the judges in the morning. Nigel says that normally what happens in this sort of scenario is that one person will take over and everyone else will either let them lead or fight them for the honour, when really the challenge is about teamwork. Some groups get on with it straight away, while others have creative differences (TOP 14 STAR Yanet appears to be having a bit of a diva moment, which looks awesome). Mark says it's "like EastEnders in there" and Drew teaches some of his group a routine which involves him going "da-da-ba-da-pas de bourrée", which pretty much instantly makes him my favourite, just because I love it when dancers do that. Yanet looks on with something that's either disbelief or silent acquiescence (or trapped wind - Chris)

Contemporary dancer Martin is in a group full of hip hop dancers, which he thinks is working well because they're helping him out a lot. Or THROWING HIM UNDER THE BUS, as we shall see in a minute. He says that they'll stay up all night if they have to. Another group all come from different disciplines, which they think will help them. Many of them are still working hard after midnight, and the final group to go to bed is Martin's group, at 3:30am.

A few hours later, they're back at Television Centre to perform their routines. Martin's group is on first. Cat reminds those of us with memory problems that he's a contemporary dancer who has to perform a hip-hop routine choreographer by the rest of his group (which includes TOP 14 STARS Lizzie, Tommy and I think Mandy). Incidentally, they're dancing to 'Stronger' by Kanye West, so I'd say they were fairly limited to what styles they could've done outside of hip hop that would've really worked with this music. Nigel tells Martin that he's just been THROWN UNDER A BUS by his group because he hasn't done any hip hop before, and he's supposed to be showing them that he deserves to be in the Top 14 with a routine like that. He says he hopes that whoever choreographed that routine for him is HAPPY WITH THEMSELVES NOW. Louise counters that surely it's down to Martin to speak up if he's not comfortable with the routine, and she's got a point. Nigel's all "yeah, if I'd have been Tommy, I'd have just let him go under the bus." Wow, Nigel really wants to provoke an internet wankstorm when Martin gets cut, doesn't he? Which he does, right there. Lizzie feels like she's let the team down, because it was supposed to be teamwork. Martin is fairly chipper as he goes, saying he did the best he could.

The next group involves TOP 14 STARS Drew, Mark, Yanet, and someone called Leanne. They are also dancing to 'Stronger', so I'm guessing the CD selection wasn't that vast. Nigel tells Leanne that style of dance didn't suit her. Arlene says she's sure Yanet choreographed that for her, and when Yanet does it, she's smouldering, but Leanne treated it like it was a game. Leanne goes home, but the others all stay, of course. Leanne says that they've told her all along that she needs to grow up, but that is sort of her dance style - she will grow up, she says, because people do, but she doesn't think she'll change how she dances.

The next group features no TOP 14 STARS, and it shows: it's a hot mess. Nigel says that not one of them shone. The guy at the end decides to speak up in the reality TV spirit of "I'm just telling it like it is" and says that other members of the group were negative. (Not going to lie I would have DOUBLE ELIMINATED him right there for that "negative energy" bollocks and told him to not even think about comin back for the next series/season - Chris) "Maybe you should've said that last night?" one of them retorts. Then they all start bickering about who choreographed what and who was responsible for what. Tanatha speaks up and says that even though it was too hard for her, she kept trying and didn't complain, and then brilliantly sums up the whole thing for us: "you can make excuses 'til the cows come home, but the bottom line is, it looked like cack." (Head Judge Tanatha please - Chris) Heh. Everyone is sent home, though Nigel encourages them to stay strong, keep working, and reapply for the fabled second series (EXCEPT YOU TUBBY - Chris). Outside, Tanatha says that onstage, they didn't even represent dancers that supported each other. The Backstabber is not present for this interview with Cat, interestingly. I'm glad he got cut, anyway: no one likes a tattletale (twat - Alliterative Arlene/Chris)

The next group features TOP 14 STARs Annabel and Robbie, and two people I don't recognise, and they have an awesome gimmick of the girls being blindfolded at the beginning of the routine. It's a pretty great routine, actually, to Mariah Carey's version of 'I Want To Know What Love Is'. Nigel calls it one of the best choreographed pieces he's ever seen from a group like this on any season anywhere in the world. SERIES, Nigel. In this country, we say series. One group featuring TOP 14 STAR Chloe (and eventual winner Alistair - Chris) tit around with party hats on and get good reviews, and another group I don't recognise are also well-received.

The remaining 26 dancers get the chance to do another solo for the judges, and they all look pretty impressive, but we only get to see brief glimpses of each one. Cat informs us that there are 10 girls and 16 guys left, and it's time for the judges to go away and point at photographs to pick the Top 14! Claire says it's out of her hands now and the judges will decide, the likes of her abide, spectators of the show, always staying low, etc. As they retreat through BBC corridors, Louise says that she's already picked members of her Top 14 in her head before the solos, but now she's questioning her decisions. Arlene says that on the other hand, there were people she'd dismissed who she now doesn't want to leave behind. The judges make vague comments about HIM being good and HER only having done one good routine and we don't know who they're talking about, and it's all to build tension for a result we already know (between people we know nothing about - Chris), so I'm just going to skip over this bit.

Time to announce the results: 25-year-old jazz dancer Chloe Campbell is through, though Arlene feels she only truly excels at Broadway. 30-year-old Mandy Montanez is older than everyone else and has retired three times because her career in the UK has "flittered". Arlene thinks she doesn't have quite enough sense of herself, but she tackles everything with such spirit that she's in the Top 14. Yanet Fuentes, whom I love but I'm sure the voting public is going to hate, also gets through. 29-year-old Arthur is cut, with the old "we don't think this season is right for you" excuse. Someone else is cut, and worries about going home to tell his mum (that he's gay - Chris) he hasn't made it. Robbie worries that they've cut better dancers than him already, and really wants to be successful in the UK as he's only danced abroad. Louise tells him that competition in the boys' category is fierce, and they worry that he's only strong in one area and not others, but his growth has convinced them he deserves a spot in the Top 14.

More anonymous people get cut and vow to return next year. Lizzie is told that she has no feel for the ballroom, and if it was just based on her hip hop they'd say yes...and they're still saying yes! She's through. Hugo is the next to hear his fate, but there's a problem: he's got a work visa for one company that they haven't been able to transfer at the moment. Nigel tells him he has set the bar very high for everyone else, but unfortunately he is ineligible and they cannot use him. If he can sort it out in time for next series (Nigel actually gets it right this time! He must be reacclimatising!) they'd love to see him again. (I love that Nigel did that. 95% of the people watching seem to have liked Hugo best, so now there HAS to be a series 2 right? (In which Hugo gets cut at Choreography Camp) - Chris) Mark tells us that he has lucky socks, and they seem to be working for him, because he's through. Alastair, Chris, Drew and Anabel are all through. There are two spaces left, and Gavin is stressed that he won't get one of them. He says that he's just a boy from a Chinese takeaway (Britian's Got Talent Auditions are that way mate - Chris), and Louise tells him that the judges have deliberated over him because his solo and group dances were weak today, but he's shown them overall that he's a really capable dancer, and they've decided to invest in him and take a risk by putting him through. Gavin cries and promises to work really hard for them. Aww. There's only one more space left in the Top 14, which goes to Tommy. And the final spot amongst the girls is between TOP 14 STAR Charlie and Claire. Seriously: no tension here at all. Nigel tells them that Claire is the better technical dancer, while Charlie is the better performer, so who do they take? TOP 14 STAR Charlie, of course. (boo! Claire wuz robbed for that fake bitch Charlie etc etc! - Chris) Charlie cries, thanks the judges, and promises to work hard.

So here's our Top 14: Alastair (yay - it's always nice to back a winner!), Chris (who?), Drew (pas-de-beYAY), Gavin (boo for his BGT sob-story!), Mark (yay because he is on YOUTUBE!), Robbie (yay because he is NORTHERN!), Tommy (boo for throwing thingums UNDER THA BUS!), Anabel (BOO for looking exactly like Lizzie but being only 1/10 as good), Charlie (boo for not being very good/an ENTERTAINER), Chloe (who?), Hayley (who?), Mandy (hoot hoot who?), Lizzie (YAY!) and Yanet (YAY! - all Chris). Next week, they'll begin the battle to become Britain's Favourite Dancer in the live shows, and Chris will have the enviable job of recapping it all for you. I hope you'll join us!


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