Sunday, 24 April 2011

Turning the Paige

Top 20 Results: 23rd April 2011

Cat's there with her mic at hand, possibly wondering whether she can just nip off back to LA without anyone noticing if the viewing figures dip any further, maybe catch up on her Netflix rentals and get some sushi with Ryan Seacrest. She reminds us that earlier this evening, "20 fantastic performers" staked their initial bid to become Britain's favourite dancer, after which some of us may have done some voting, and the lines are now closed. We're about to get our first boot of the Top 20, but who will it be?


After the titles, we begin with arguably one of the best set pieces of the series so far: the entire Top 20 positioned around a large banquet table, the guys all in ruffled shirts, the ladies all in black and red can-can dresses. (My apologies; fashion history is not one of my areas of expertise, so I cannot give you the technical name for what they're wearing, but if I said "sailors and whores in a bawdy period farce", you should hopefully get something fairly close to what they're wearing.) We open with Yael Naim's slow, mournful cover of 'Toxic' by Britney Spears. Shane is sitting at the head of the table, and summons Steph from the other end, apparently having her in some kind of thrall, as she spins to his will and he moves her to the front of the stage, while behind them, several other pairs couple up. Shane starts to nibble on her neck, and suddenly we're back in the Britney version, and it's sexy vampire time again! Well, they may not technically be vampires, but there's definitely some undead stuff going on. Suddenly it becomes more of a group formation, as everyone does 'Thriller'-style zombie movements, with Danielle and Kirsty in particular making excellent faces, and Rithy gets borne aloft again from the back of the pack [wiping pretend blood off her mouth <3 - Chris] - just lifted into the air this time, though, not thrown. It's a great routine because it's fun, colourful, incredibly exciting to watch, and danced with precision by just about everyone - I was watching closely looking to pinpoint a weak link, and I couldn't find one. Now, that may have just been because 20 people on one stage can get a bit crowded and the crap ones might have been hiding at the back, but either way, it's a bit of a triumph of stagecraft.

Cat enters, telling Shane as she passes him that she wants to suck his blood, and then cackling. Careful, Cat, we're not quite post-watershed yet. She asks us all to applaud the dancers, and the choreographer Beth Honan. And I don't usually do whatever the people in the little box tell me to do, but on this occasion, it was pretty good, so: *applauds Beth Honan and the Top 20. Yes, even Paige*

Cat continues that we'll be sending two contestants home tonight, and Jennifer Hudson will be here with a fantastic performance, presumably thanks to Nigel pulling a few transatlantic strings. Hey, maybe we'll get Pia Toscano next week. [I bloody hope not - Chris] Cat reminds us that the lines are closed and the votes have been counted and verified. For those of you who weren't around last year, here's how it works: the two couples with the fewest votes will be separated, and each dancer will perform a 30 second solo. The judges will then decide which two dancers to send home, and if those two dancers were partnered together, then the remaining couple continues unaffected, but if it's a "one of each" scenario, then the survivors will be dancing with each other next week. Got that? Good. We're invited to welcome the judges back, but I might hold off the applause on this occasion.

Since we've only got half an hour for the results, we're going to get right on with things. I'd almost forgotten what it was like when results shows were just 30 minutes long; it really does make the whole process seem a lot more time-efficient. We begin with a quick recap of the first group of contestants: Danielle and Luke gave us a samba of sorts, and Nigel criticised the lack of connection between the two of them, as well as the lack of sexiness. Luke hopes that the audience at home will see the connection that Nigel couldn't. Katie and Lee C gave us a lyrical hip hop routine that was one of the better examples of Kate Prince's hackwork (hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, unless it's a digital clock, where in most cases it just flashes angrily at you and is always about five hours and 23 minutes out), and Sisco was loving Katie's work, but thinks Lee needs to "pull up". If anyone gave me advice like that, my first response would be to check my trousers and make sure they weren't slipping down. Lee doesn't give a shit what Sisco said (♥) because he enjoyed it. Charlotte and Matt performed a foxtrot ("FOXTROT?" screamed Charlotte. "WHAT IS AN FOXTROT? HOW DO I IT?") and Arlene thought Matt was about to make it "the hottest dance in Scarborough", which I'm sure was meant to be a compliment, but doesn't really sound like one (no offence, Scarborough). Nigel thought Charlotte was a ginger scally. Sorry: "Ginger Scally", as in FRED AND GIIIIIIIINGE. Matt and Charlotte are both utterly intolerable afterwards, as is to be expected. Stephanie and Ryan were upstaged by their own lasers, and are clearly in huge trouble because no one had seen Stephanie until last week, and everyone seems to hate Ryan, including the judges. Backstage, Ryan wonders what it will take to impress Nigel, saying that he gave it everything but it wasn't enough. Steph says that opening the show is really tough, and she just hopes that people pick up the phone. Katrina Ballerina and Tapper Tom (most perfectly suited pair ever, am I right?) gave us an utterly ridonkulous hip hop routine that went right out the other side of incomprehensible and became incredibly awesome. It rendered Sisco incoherent (like that's anything new), and Tom sounds like the whitest person alive when he tells the cameras backstage that he and Katrina have "secret swagger". [Tom and Katrina's Secret Swagger Club <3 - Chris]

These five couples are on stage with Cat, dressed for their solos if they should have to perform them. She starts with Charlotte and Matt, whose level of public support is not even remotely in question, so it makes sense to get them out of the way first. Despite Nigel's grousing about the lack of "actual foxtrot", they're through, of course, and jump about and scream and make their way into the pit of sanctity. Katie and Lee C are next to learn their fate, and they're safe too. Lee's overcome and hugs Katie, but it's a bit awkward because she's clapping and he basically traps her arm between their chests in his overenthusiasm. Katrina Ballerina and Tapper Tom are next, and they're safe too. Hooray! He carries her off the stage. So it's between Danielle and Luke and Stephanie and Ryan: one couple is under the Latin curse and the other has no fans. Both unenviable situations to be in, but which one's worse? On this occasion, the Latin curse has finally been gazumped, as Danielle and Luke are safe, while Stephanie and Ryan are in the bottom two. Well, bottom four. Oh, you know what I mean. Cat asks Arlene if she's surprised by the outcome, and Arlene says not really, because it wasn't a phenomenal routine, and since choreographers are blameless on this show, Ryan and Steph are criticised for not selling what they were given well enough. Cat tells us that Steph and Ryan are going to wow us with their solos, and then we hit the second recap montage.

Rithy and Shane were amazing sexy cat burglars, and Arlene was thrilled that "the lazy beach bum guy" was gone. Backstage, Shane bites Rithy's neck. He's really taking this method acting lark very seriously. Paige & Gian Luca performed the worst piece of choreography ever to come from a mind that isn't Kate Prince's. [Everything Paige did came from Paige's brain alone. I'm not blaming Mandy Moore for that - Chris] Sisco criticised Paige's posture, and she fell on her arse. Paige is absent from the backstage interview, leaving Gian Luca to apologise on her behalf, and say that he feels bad for her, because he just saw her fall (as do we, again) and there was nothing he could do. Alice and Charlie's contemporary routine was held up almost entirely by Alice, though Arlene's feedback for Charlie was surprisingly positive. Alice begs to be allowed to come back next week. Kirsty and Lee B defied all expectation by giving us the best routine of the night, and were singled out as the week's strongest dancers by Sisco. They scamper backstage, squealing with delight. And finally, Bethany Rose and Israel gave us a disco routine, and Sisco thought they both delivered a "camptastic" performance. Israel confesses that they were shaky in rehearsals, but it went well on the night.

Time for these five to discover who's safe. Kirsty and Lee B are first, and Cat's summary of their feedback is that Arlene said this wasn't Kirsty's style. Weirdly, this is delivered like it's a criticism, even though in context, Arlene was making the point that the show keeps insisting Kirsty is a contemporary dancer when that's not her genre of comfort, and therefore it was impressive for her to do well in it tonight. They're safe, thankfully, because I would have been seriously angry if they weren't. Rithy and Shane's Broadway number was Nigel's favourite routine of the night, and they're safe too. Woo! Israel and Bethany Rose are also safe, which leaves Alice and Charlie and Paige and Gian Luca fighting it out for that last safe spot. I have to admit, when I watched this first time around, I really did think it could go either way. It's hard to know if the usual "teenage girl vote" applies on this show, since they're probably all watching Sing If You Can anyway, and that's where I'd expect the majority of Charlie's fanbase to be. Paige and Gian Luca gave a performance that fizzled out, per Louise, while Nigel wanted Charlie to grow in the competition. The couple in danger is...Paige and Gian Luca. Alice kisses Paige on the cheek and says "you're a firework!", which will make sense in a minute, and is sweet in a dorky sort of way. I get the impression that if we'd actually seen Alice at all before the live shows, I'd have quite liked her. Cat asks Louise if she's shocked by the result, and Louise replies "shocked: no, sad: yes", and points out that if you can't be consistent from start to finish in a routine, it's going to let you down. Cat, bless her, tells them that she can't wait to see their solos and attempts to paint this as a positive outcome, because this means they get to dance for us again. Nice try, Cat, but the look on Paige's face says she ain't buying what you're selling.

Cat asks Sisco why the solos are important, and he says that it's the last chance they have, and they have to burn the floor and *FUTILE ATTEMPT AT CATCHPHRASE REDACTED* and prove to the judges why they deserve to stay in the competition. First to dance is Stephanie, who gives us some serious salsambcha action to 'Conga' while pulling all kinds of sexy faces and looking a bit like Sophia Bush. Also, it is my great delight to report to you all that the crowd this year are not yelling out the numbers in the countdown. [THANK FUCK - Chris] Ryan performs to a disco track that I don't recognise, and his solo is fine, but I don't think it's likely to change the judges' mind on him at this point. Sadly for him I think he'd have been toast whatever happened. Paige is dancing to Katy Perry's 'Firework' (see?) and performs an acrobatic routine with a lot of backflips in it, which I thought was a bit sloppy and not as good as Steph's solo. Finally, Gian Luca gives us a ballet-inspired contemporary solo which didn't really do it for me, but given the judges' aforementioned lack of interest in Ryan, he's probably fine.

To keep us entertained while the judges deliberate, we have Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson here to perform for us. She's singing 'Feelin' Good', a song that I used to love before I heard too many overegged cover versions of it. Unfortunately, this is another one: she drags out the opening to a ridiculous degree. Having taken about three weeks to sing the first five lines, she then proceeds to rush through the rest of the song, not bothering to enunciate, as a result of which we have a "possum on the tree" and the "shit of a pine". Not your finest work, J-Hud, I'm sorry to say. [I enjoyed the part where she opened her mouth so wide that she swallowed all of humanity - Chris] Also, this is blatantly a pre-record, despite the best efforts of the show to pretend otherwise, because they could never have set up the band in the little time that they had between the solos and this number, and J-Hud and Cat are never seen in the same shot.

Judgement time! Stephanie, Ryan, Paige and Gian Luca return to the stage, and Nigel's ready to give us the results. Nigel says that it's sad to see people go home on the first night without having time to grow. We've already had one non-elimination week, Nigel, I'm not sure how many shows you expect these people to take to warm up. Gian Luca is called forward, and told that it's hard to judge him this evening because he was let down by his partner, but they know he has great technique and they'll be judging him on past performance. Ryan is called forward, and Nigel brings up the "what do I have to do to impress Nigel?" quote from the backstage video, pointing out that it's the voters Ryan needs to impress, and he's obviously not done it. He says that Sisco said the routine had no substance, and he thinks that was an unfair comment, because a good dancer will always make a routine great. Sisco chimes in that he agrees with Nigel on this point, but his mic is down so it's barely audible. I prefer un-miced Sisco. Paige steps forward before she's called, and Nigel calls her "a fun, fireball of talent" and tonight it all went away, and says that they'll have to judge her on past performance too. [I loved that - "we'll have to judge you on your past performances...which were also obviously not very good, because you're going home - Chris] Stephanie is called forward and is told that she served it up tonight, showing how a sexy Latin routine should look, but her first routine was not memorable. Nigel says that the judges' decision was unanimous, and asks Paige and Ryan to step forward again, because they're going home.

Ryan takes it on his magnificent cheekbones, while Paige is absolutely distraught, sobbing audibly. Steph puts a reassuring arm on both their shoulders, while Gian Luca gives them both a kiss on the cheek. Steph and Gian Luca make their way sombrely to the pit of sanctity, and will be paired up next week - I'll be interested to see how they work together, actually. Cat's aware that Paige is hating this, and tries to console her by pointing out how much support she has in the audience. As the audience applaud for them one last time, Ryan gives a half-hearted smile and wave, while Paige just looks utterly defeated, and they both have to stand there with their disappointment in full view while Cat reminds us to come back next week. Please. Don't leave us. Before Cat can finish her sign-off, Charlotte and Alice run on to hurl themselves at Paige, and Ryan gets a big hug from Steph, who seems genuinely fond of him. The rest of the Top 20 - now the Top 18 - are soon on the stage, shrouding the evictees in hugs, sympathy and a bit of leftover sweat. There's no dance party, just a sense of sad solidarity, and we end on them all linking arms for a giant group hug. D'aww. See you next week.

So You Think You Can Eat The Scabs Off Kirsty's Feet?

Top 20: 23rd April 2011

Welcome to "So You Think You Can Dance?". This recap has been written so that you can enjoy it later, at a time that suits you. Unfortunately Cat on the other hand, is trapped inside that leopard-print hoodie monstrosity from last week for all eternity.

Last Week : Kate Prince got her Archers on, Luke & Shane were upside-down vampires, lots of people ran around in white nighties with the same hair-do like the video for Wuthering Heights but shit, Matt tapped and everyone else in his group felt the cool breeze of a bus going over their foreheads, and Cabbage Alice, Fat Deaf Old Kirsty and Cheekbones Ryan all threw glitter at one-another and grinned, but in the end it was for naught, and the current Blue Peter presenter line-up remained intact.

All that however, is now irrelevant, as the COMPETITION STARTS HERE. Everyone's been paired up at random (*cough*) via the means of Cat's Hat, they'll perform once each, and one boy and one girl will GO HOME. Meaning they will no longer be in the running to win the grand prize of a holiday to Disneyland, whatever we can get from the judges handbags in a whipround, the title of Britain's Nicest Dancer, and the So You Think You Can Dance chequebook and pen. [And a cuddly toy! - Steve]


Once the credits are over, and the last bits of that hip-hop dancer who flies into the camera at the end have been scraped off the lens, it's time to meet our Top Twenty. Again. All of them. In case you'd forgotten, or you don't trust wikipedia (and who can blame you given that it currently lists Bethany-Rose's genre as being "ballet") they are :

Cabbage Alice : who has an unfortunate red dye-job and thinks she looks like Rihanna
Charlie Whee! : who this show is trying to make into Beiber 2.0 - the Poshening and who does Contortion Hip-Hop
Bethany-Rose Lee : Who didn't quite make Top 14 last year, and possibly won't this year either
Gian Luca Loda : Who is Italian and nothing more
Charlotte The Barmaid : Who I actually remember not hating at one point in my past history (imagine that could be a thing that was!)
Israel Donowa : Who murdered Gay Bruce lest we forget.
Danielle Cato : Who suddenly became Not-Fodder last week, like a moth emerging from a chrysalis BUT WITH SOME GLITTER ON ITS WINGS
AndrogyLee : If he doesn't do a solo to "Dude Looks Like A Lady" at some point I will be very disappointed
Katie Love : Follows Arlene around all day going "Are You My Mummy?" in a creepy child's voice
Lee-Boy : Welsh and likes rolling around on the floor, which is always a good combination from my perspective
Katrina Ballerina : *Pre-emptive fit of the giggles*
Angry Luke : Can get his leg up over his head, believes walking has a place in dancing, SO MANY FEELINGS
Fat Deaf Old Kirsty : Like Pineapple Dance Studios, BUT REAL
MATTFLINTMANIA : Winning, and not in a Charlie Sheen way
Generic Paige : Shy, like Lizzie, and the comparisons end there
Cheekbones Ryan : Can we please try to get him eliminated ON HIS BIRTHDAY?
Fierce Rithy : Just finalising the wording on the retraining order against Cat as she dances.
Australian Shane : *sigh*
Professional Stephanie : Sadly bereft of Zombie Slave Boys this week
Tom : The Other Tapper

And that's all we've got time for on So You Think You Can...oh ok, not really, but it does go on rather. I'm glad they were in alphabetical order so I could prepare myself for it ending and the re-entry into the programme proper. Once they're done doing bad flirting with each other across a cavernous space, Cat srruts out and shows them all how bad flirting is REALLY done, as they all skitter back to their holding pen as she wobbles her boobs at them and honks "OIM DOING A SHIMMAY!". I am a Midlander too. I feel her pain. It's not the best accent to try to hook up with. [Hey, it worked on me. - Steve]

She welcomes us all to the show and sadly informs us that tonight we're going to have to brace ourselves and find it in our hearts to cut two of the 428 dancers we're starting the competition with. I CAN'T CAT, THEY'RE ALL SO AMAZING! She cracks a joke that Doctor Who has it easy compared to the terror the contestants will face tonight (although much like Doctor Who, I'm going to forget everything that I've seen the second I take my eyes off it), PARTICULARLY THE JUDGES OH MY GOD THE TERROR.

Sisco Gomez : dressed like a cross between a sea-urchin and a lychee
Louise Redknapp : Looking like she's mistaken a waffle-iron for a sun-bed
Arlene Phillips : Wearing a chunky bike-chain round her neck and more bizarre tonight than I've ever seen her and that's saying something
Nigel Lythgoe : Reliably the same from show to show.

As they're introduced they get the standard array of whoops and whistles, and then Nigel wishes everyone a very happy Easter. I wish I could appreciate it, but my bum-hole is already puckering at all the horrific shoe-horned in Royal Wedding references we're going to get next week. I'm already envisioning a group number with Lee-Boy gingered up as a body-popping Prince Harry, Katie Love as Momma Middleton, and Fat Deaf Old Kirsty and AndrogyLee as the happy couple. Which way round, only you can determine.

Nigel then spends a good minute and a half explaining to the audience that if you vote for someone, it makes them less likely to go home. THANKS NIGEL! Cat mops up the rest, by explaining that we're voting for couples this evening. The two couples with the fewest viewer-votes will be split up to dance four solos. The judges will then send home one boy and one girl, the survivors then fused together to make a new couple, which will advance onwards, still probably doomed.

First couple? Cheekbones Ryan and Professional Stephanie looking very Top Shop indeed. They will be dancing..."Commercial". Which I think is a new genre for this show. Let's see how they explain what this one is then... Stephanie starts their combined VT saying that last week was a wonderful feeling for her, because everyone loved the Contemporary Piece she was a thoroughly anonymous part of. Meanwhile we cut to Ryan saying that conversely he HATED last week, as we cut to a clip of him pointing to his bum and shaking it up and down. This was part of the dance incidentally, not Ryan's commentary on it. It was kind of mine. He says that this means he's got a lot to prove this week. Oops.

Hat pick now, and all the girls are still in costume from their Birds Of Vague Empowerment routine last week. The boys sadly are not still in costume from THEIR group-number. Bloody BBC. Stephanie stomps out awkwardly, and stands there waiting to hear who Cat has match-maked her with, as we cut to Ryan gazing wistfully at her like a community-theatre Mr Knightly, like we're supposed to think this is FATE. When his name is finally called, they both leap up and down screaming and he gushes about what an AMAZING partner he has. AMAZING. It's quite sweet, given how obviously doomed they are in hindsight.

Commercial is being choreographed by Paul Domaine, who did the Jazz Vampires routine last week, so it's blatantly what was deemed "Pop-Jazz" last year eg Dancing To Do Behind Pop Stars. Paul Domaine explains this himself in not so many words : it's a fusion between jazz dancing and street dancing apparently. Jazzing in the street. In rehearsal Ryan clearly struggles and whines that it's really haaaaaaaaard. He's having to relearn a whole new style of lifting, and forget all of his technique. And grammatic structure by the sounds of it. Cue lots of shots of him dumping Stephanie on her arse and her laughing about it. Backstage she laughs that she feels like she's partnered with a furry/fairy (?) elephant given all the grunting and noises he's making, as Ryan simpers slightly that's she actually really EASY to lift. Stephanie demands that he write this down, so she can get it laminated and STAPLE IT TO HIS FOREHEAD.

Ryan became one of Stephanie's subservient Male Slave Zombies so easily didn't he? I think it's best for him that got out here, otherwise he'd be stuck following her for the rest of her life, manning a wind-machine to help her make grand-entrances to glamorous clubs/Netto. YOU'RE NEXT GIAN LUCA.

We cut now to an empty studio before the performance, as Ryan and Stephanie hug one another in delight and grin dementedly about how the lighting for the routine is spectacular, and exciting, and outrageous, and contagious, and amazing, and it's fierce, and it's going to come out into the audience and make Stephanie and Ryan feel like popstars. Ryan semi-ironically quips that they'll be J-Lo and Justin. Stephanie guffaws, with her face fully clearly reading that she knows that they're H & Claire at best. Ryan closes by saying that he really wants to get it right, and doesn't want to go home tonight.


They're dancing to "On The Floor" by American Idol Judge Jennifer Lopez and...I really hate when shows go down this route with critique, so excuse my massive hypocrisy, but I can't help but feel that the biggest problem with the routine is that Ryan is serving up the least convincing portrayal of heterosexual desire I think I've seen outside of a Carry On film. The routine is clearly supposed to be carried mostly by the chemistry, and Ryan's face is reading entirely "yes mamma, shake it! Capital knockers! Loving your vagina! Can't wait to get me a slice of those labia!". There's one section in particular where he creeps up behind her, rips open her top and smooshes her boobies, which would get at least fifteen complaints by worried Christians to OFCOM if it was done by ANYBODY else, but such is the lack of heat that it passes on unremarkably. I think Ryan and Stephanie could have (awkward, abortive, him looking at Australian Shane in the wings the whole time) actual penetrative sex on the stage and the most they'd get is a raised eyebrow.

Anyway, yes, the lack of chemistry shows the choreography up as being quite flimsy, the lasers play, it's all a bit awkward.

They finish by throwing themselves flat out on the floor, if only to make me feel a bit bad because...they did try. Cat pulls them and calls them over, whittering about how she remembers "big fish, little fish, cardboard box" from "back in the day". Whenever Cat's day was. I think it was a Thursday. Cat asks Nigel to begin the critique. He begins with an "erm...". Well, quite.

He goes on to say that they were over-shadowed by the lighting, and in fact that was the best part of the routine. He says that Ryan clearly has no love or feel for the music, and whilst Nigel isn't really sure what Commercial is, he knows it wasn't that. Sisco explains to the old man nicely that it's "pop culture", so Ryan's clearly WELL out, unless by Pop culture you mean enthusing about Joss Whedon on internet messageboards. Stephanie then gets slagged for not dancing in heels, and also having a sloppy leg in her pirouette.

Arlene starts her crit by yelling "I WANT DYNAMITE WITH A LASERBEAM!" to no reaction whatsoever. Oh Arlene. [♥ - Steve] She tells Stephanie that she had a lot of attitude when strutting around, but when it came to the lifts her nerve deserted her. She advises her - "when your feet fail you: use your face". Arlene's First Law Of Pub-Fights there. She also slags Stephanie for not wearing heels, and also for not bedding down into the music, because "anyone can bed in with J-Lo". Looking at Marc Anthony, that is kind of the conclusion I'd reached as well. Louise follows by saying that she loved the atmosphere they created, but she thinks nobody's going to remember this routine in an hour's time. Mostly because they'll still be talking about the "chimney sweep's fart" effect employed by whoever was doing your make-up Louise.

Sisco closes by saying that he's a gonna keep it real, and it'll get him into trouble, but he thought Ryan & Stephanie did great given the shitty choreography they were given. Ryan whoops and yells "YEAH! SISCO!" meaning he's just put himself on Paul Domaine's shit-list. No sexy vampires for you Ryan. Sisco says that he wishes them luck, particularly Stephanie, cause she's amazing. Nigel starts blithering and shouting, clearly trying to keep his jazz-choreographer in the room and not storming out in a huff, but Cat ignores him to give out Ryan and Stephanie's number. Oh, we'll be hearing about this later.

Next couple are Matt Flint and Charlotte Scally, as the audience scream their lungs out for MATTFLINTMANIA! Cat says that she feels like there's a slight touch of confusion in the air. Did someone show Charlotte a globe and she started panicking that all the Australians are going to fall off? POOR SHANE! They will be performing something called a...foxtrot?

In their VT we're both reminded that last week both Matt and Charlotte BLEW THE JUDGES AWAY (well...Charlotte didn't, but that's how it's edited so erm...POWER COUPLE! FLINTSCALLYMANIA!) and now they're lucky enough to be paired together in form a super-team of judge-pleasing eleganza. Charlotte gushes about how happy she was to be paired with Matt (who wouldn't be, eh ladies?) but then we're shown them getting their dance choice. Which is foxtrot.



Matt : Foxtrot? FOXTROT?! Sounds poofy to me. We dunt have foxtrot in t'North. Ah'm from Scarborough - we don't do ballroom, and we dunt have Google neithers so I can't be proved wrong in 5 seconds.

Scally : WHAT'S A FOXTROT? IS IT A MAKE OF CAR? HERP DERP BERP *walks into window*

I am clearly missing something about foxtrot, because it's the easiest dance on Strictly (it is, sorry, they give you 20 points for turning up), and it's never eliminated someone on this show. Why are they making such a big deal of it? It's so easy it's being taught to the couples by Shouty Salsa Chris and Mute Jaci from Strictly of old, who aren't even specialist ballroom teachers so far as I'm aware. Anyway, Shouty Salsa Chris marches in yelling his head off about how hard foxtrot is, and how Matt and Charlotte are really going to have to push to portray elegance, and the story of the routine is a girl who is just a figment of the guy's imagination, just like Mute Jaci.

Matt mumbles on that they don't have elegance in the North and Charlotte does an awful fake posh accent and this is giving me a headache, can we move on please?

Out on stage, and clearly she was right to worry/mug for days about her elegance, because she really isn't showing an awful lot in the routine (to "The Way You Look Tonight"). It might be the candy-floss pink dress, or the fact that her hair has been done by the same person who has apparently done all the girls hair tonight, but she seems a bit juvenile and her movements are a bit clumsy. He's really good when he's on his own (there's a nice shoe-shuffling solo at the beginning that has very little to do with the foxtrot, but which is nice anyway), but he does get pulled into her leadenness when they're together, and the stuff in hold is a bit clumpy. S'alright I guess, but I don't think this sort of stuff is her ballpark, and it pulled him down a bit. They close with a lift that starts well, but dissolves into her clumping off him with her dress all over his face, then she disappears off into the ether.

Cat calls them over, with Charlotte still giggling and snorfling about how she loves her dress and she doesn't even know what a foxtrot IS, IS THAT BAD? Yes Charlotte. Yes it is. Arlene starts for the judges, saying that Matt just made foxtrot the hottest dance in Scarborough. looks like he waggles his crotch in response. I guess he knows how to work Arlene. She carries on that technically it was crap, but they made up for it by making the dance "movie star possible". Indeed. Louise next, and Cat informs her that her face was like *this* throughout (*this* being "a seven year old's beatific devotion to Donny Osmond"). I feel we should circumvent Louise actually speaking for all her critique in future, and just have Cat interpret her faces like Marlee Matlin's signer.

Louise's actual critique? Foxtrot is REALLY HARD but they made it look great. Also Matt is like, really pretty and thing. MATTFLINTMANIA! Sisco follows by saying that he loves Matt's lines and extensions, and that he never knew that Scally could be so elegant. Who knew that chalk and cheese went together so well? I do! Try them in a sandwich Sisco. In large quantities. You'll be BLOWN AWAY. Maybe even add some potato! And grit! Nigel closes by saying that foxtrot is a piece of piss and that QUICKSTEP is the true kiss of death. Oh and foxtrot and tap are really close together, and Fred Astaire did both, so this should have been no trouble for Matt. Nigel is OFF-PISTE tonight I tell you. Oh and he's no going to call Charlotte "Ginger Scally". I don't know Nigel - even in that video where she got molested by a silver midget alien spaceman, Geri was never quite THIS annoying. He closes by saying that he thought there were good technical parts - the rise and fall, the chassis, but this only prompts Arlene to start pointing out that the hold was god-awful, so we move swiftly on.

Next couple are Lee-Boy and Katie Love, Lee-Boy looking as awkward as humanly possible, which is about average for someone stood next to Katie Love, who is currently impersonating a cheery manga. They will be dancing Lyrical Hip-hop, which can only mean one thing...

Yes it's my own personal nemesis, Kate Prince. Yay. But first, Lee-Boy says that his favourite part of last week's show was performing topless, which combined with the accent give me happy Gavin Henson flashbacks. Katie Love says, much like a cannibal's first taste of human flesh, she never knew she'd love performing on live tv as much as she did. I can see this being...a pairing. Lee says he's very happy with his partnership this week, and also with the fact that, one week after Nigel said that we'd possibly never see any of the hip-hoppers ever hip-hopping of them is hip-hopping.

My Nemesis Kate Prince explains to us that this routine is about two flatmates who have always harboured secret sex-feelings for one another, and one day over breakfast, their feelings COME ALIVE. Has anyone ever revealed their secret long-held feelings for one another over cornflakes? I have never had secret sex-feelings for a flatmate, but surely it's more of a "taking the piss out of Judge Judy" sort of route to reveal? Now THERE would be a routine. Arlene could be Judge Judy. Sisco could be the perp. Lee-Boy and Katie Love could make out for the first time as Judge Judy yells "WRONG! YOUR CASE IS DISMISSED! GOODBYE!"

The two of them struggle a bit with their characters, so Kate Prince asks them what they think their motivations are. Lee-Boy says he's chasing after Katie Love. Katie Love says that she thinks she's teasing Lee-Boy (SURPRISE!). She illustrates this by wiggling her bum at him and yelling "COME ON! LOOK AT THAT!". I could grow to not mind Katie Love. Kate Prince chews Lee-Boy out mildly for not expressing enough emotion (again, Henson flashbacks), and Lee interviews that it's very difficult for him to portray love when he doesn't feel it as a true emotion towards Katie Love? How could you NOT be feeling love for Katie Love? It's her NAME and her entire existence and everything. She's lying back and imagining Arlene Lee-Boy, clue yourself in and do likewise. (Incidentally, there is a packet of Kelloggs cornflakes in this rehearsal room, (OH YES, THERE ARE PROPS!) and the BBCs blurring out of it is hysterically bad.)

In order to improve their chemistry, Lee-Boy makes Katie Love breakfast in bed and does goo-goo eyes at her ineptly. And by "makes", I mean he pours orange juice into a glass, bran flakes into a bowl, and yoinks a fruit-bowl off a hotel lobby reception desk. He brings her the breakfast, and they both pretend to not hate one another as "Love Is In The Air" plays on the sound-track, reminding me we haven't had any hilariously appropriate "Love" related song-choices for Katie Love yet. Maybe "(Katie) Love In An Elevator"? "(Katie) Love Hangover"? "(Katie) Love Will Tear Us Apart, And Then Feast On Our Flesh"?

Out to the stage now, and as usual for a Kate Prince routine, if you squint, you can just about see the dancers around the props. There's a fridge, a table, two stools, four bowls, and a packet of cornflakes. All of these are used in various ridiculous ways throughout. The routine is to "Starry Eyed" by Ellie Goulding, which is actually a decent choice, and gives the storyline of the routine more shape than the choreography does. [As much as I liked the music for this, when they walked out in pyjamas rubbing their eyes, I was kind of hoping for 'Tik Tok' by Ke$ha. - Steve] For a start, they start under the table which makes me think they've shagged already. Although maybe that's how the kids do things these days. Anyway, Katie Love and Lee-Boy munch on their cornflakes, then get a pure LSD hit from the drugs their other flatmate hid in there, and then they starts running round the kitchen trashing the place and shagging up against the fridge, possibly, I don't know. If I had flatmates who revealed their secret sex-feelings all over their cornflakes I'd probably be grateful if they cleaned up after themselves.

In terms of the performance, she's out-performing him, but I think he might have her technically, at least on the hip-hop elements. They're both pretty good though, even if she does possibly shatter her coccyx failing to hop herself up on one of the dumb props, I forget which one, at the end. Oh and when they kiss it's the most obvious case of stage "my lips are TIGHT together and smashing into your philtrum" from him I've seen in a while. Pretty good, would be better without all the bits I attribute to Kate Prince.

Cat calls them over, and asks Katie Love if that's how she wakes up every morning (/calls Katie Love a massive slag). Katie Love agrees. Sisco starts for the judges by saying that Katie Love was a star out there on the stage, and she was in character from the first second of the routine. Lee on the other hand, needs to "pull up", because he just got schooled in his own genre by a contemporary dancer. I would have thought, looking at their collective pants, pulling up was anathema to hip-hoppers (/Old Man). Katie Love looks vaguely outraged on Lee-Boy's behalf. Lee-Boy on the other just promises to do better.

Arlene follows by screaming that she "LOVES A GOOD KITCHEN-SINK DRAMA" (I don't think there was actually a kitchen sink in there, but I wouldn't put it past My Nemesis Kate Prince) but Lee really needed to do better, because he was out of time and didn't isolate his chest. Katie Love is going cross-genre, so he needs to do the same. Nigel says that he agrees, but Lee isn't really a dancer, he's more of a breaker, and just does tricks without music, so he's pretty much always going to be outside of his genre.'ll come with time though...erm...probably...KATIE LOVE IS A STAR.

Louise finishes by saying she likes both, as quickly as possible, so she can put out the small blaze that has just ignited in the back of her hair, like a bush-fire. Already she can smell bacon. As their numbers are read out, Katie Love tilts her head onto Lee-Boy's shoulder in support. He completely ignores her.

Next couple? Fierce Rithy and Australian Shane! Huzzah! I feel a spark of actual legitimate excitement! Hooray! They will be dancing Broadway, which of course means Giant Lady. Huzzah again!

In their VT we're given a brief reminder that last week was a Good Week for Rithy, as she managed to look sexy in hip-hop (cue Rithy saying she doesn't know what Louise was on about, cause she was dressed as a granny), and a Bad Week for Shane, as the judges trashed him following Jazz Vampires for no good reason (cue Shane saying that the judges trashed him following Jazz Vampires for no good reason), before their glorious union is revealed. Rithy notably looks a bit awkward, which she reveals is because of the Ian Waite meets Jeanette Krankie height difference, but Shane looks pleased enough. They're told they have Broadway, and Rithy looks doubly put out, but, you know, she doesn't start squawking "WHAT'S BROADWAY?! WE DON'T HAVE THAT IN BRAZIL? IS IT GIN?!" like she so easily could have.

Giant Lady explains that this routine is going to be based around Mr & Mrs Smith, which is one of my favourite films that I have never seen. Both Rithy and Shane are going to be sexy spies, on the same mission, and then they're going to beat the crap out of one another. SHANE-RITHY MEGAPAIRING! GIANT LADY! ASSAULT! What could go wrong?

There then follows a scene where Shane extra-double makes sure with Giant Lady that he knows what his character is supposed to be, so the judges can't pull any of that "we feel you weren't sufficiently vampirey" nonsense they did last week, but mostly I'm distracted by his lower portions (not for the first time). He's wearing really weird bottoms where one leg is a trouser leg and one leg is a short leg. This lead to me hoping that part of the routine features them literally tearing bits of clothing off one another but no...that's just fashion these days. I think at some point Giant Lady tells him to channel Daniel Craig as Bond which...yeah, REALLY expressive there.

Fierce Rithy's all "my storyline is my awesomeness, fit that into a VT!" and then she and Shane have a play-fight up against a wall. Erotic.

To the stage now, and they're dancing their Broadways to "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" - the Nicole Kidman remix, as their super secret sexy spy mission is to steal a diamond. It's actually a really cute routine - more silly and cutesy-sexy than the violence promised. I mean, they throw one another round a bit, but it's not really actually violent. Also they both look a million dollars, with Shane working a Milk Tray Man ensemble like the tall cool drink of water that he is, and Rithy filling every corner of her cat-suit. It's a lot of Get Smart-ish 50s antics, tumbling, and wacky sexy spy faces. More Boris & Natasha than Mr & Mrs Smith, but it's good clean fun, and they look great doing it. At one point Rithy seems to have a bit of trouble with her flaps (ON THE BAG SHE HAS TO PUT THE DIAMOND IN, YOU FREAKS) but other than that? Seamless.

Cat calls over the Brazillian and the Australian and tries to get a laugh out of the fact that their names form "Shane Ritchie". They both look a bit bemused. Nigel starts for the judges, gushing at both, saying it was the best routine of the night so far, Rithy showed what hip-hoppers could do, and Shane was so strong out there. Nigel is proud that his nonsense critique of last week had some positive effect. I'm so sure that's what it was Nigel. Arlene follows, telling Shane that he was bang-on 50s Broadway and the whole "lazy Bondi Beach surfer thing" that Arlene apparently saw through the prism of her stereotyping is now GONE. Oh and Rithy is Little Miss Broadway and who knew?

Louise follows, taking a break from fighting off Geri Halliwell who's come to get her hair from the Mi Chico Latino video back, to tell Shane that he's really getting there, and Rithy is just getting hotter and hotter. Given that she's basically wearing plastic Louise, I would imagine she is yes. Sisco closes by saying that Rithy is a great representative of New School dancers, like what Sisco is (DO IT LIKE A BARROWMAN DEM SUGA SUGA) and also Shane proved the judges wrong after their mean comments from last week, which he disassociates himself from entirely (*raspberry*)

Next up Charlie Whee! and Cabbage Alice, who are apparently going to be learning a whole new language. I hope it's Urdu.

We're reminded of last week when Charlie Whee! flew through the air, as the show continues its bizarre attempt to make him Justin Bieber, by playing that "Baby Ooh Noo" song over the top. I really don't think it's going to happen show, but you keep on trying anyway. We're reminded Arlene called him out for his lack of tricks, and Charlie assures us that he many more, which will be shoe-horned into every routine possible. Oh and also Alice existed.

It is revealed that they were the last couple to be paired up, which means that Alice is even more of an after-thought than I thought possible. To make the whole Bieber thing worse, he insists that not only does he look like Justin Bieber (he doesn't), she DEFINITELY looks like Rihanna (she doesn't). She chooses to reiterate this comparison in the corridor. WHY? They're told they have Contemporary, and both seem more or less fine with it.

My hopes are picked up a little by the fact that Mandy Moore is the choreographer. I guess her flight back to America got delayed and she thought she might as well stick around. She explains that the routine that Charlie and Alice will be performing is a celebration of young love. But not the Gary Glitter kind. Charlie says that he's done some contemporary before, but it's not really his thing. His genre is "contortion breakdancing". Yeah, I don't think that's coming out of Cat's Random Hat any time soon. I think some of the dancer who actually have spines might struggle with it.

Anyway, it turns out that Mandy Moore uses lots of words that Charlie doesn't understand, like "chassis", "saute" and "sesquipedalian". Charlie expresses this to Mandy Moore, and Mandy Moore finds this adorable and charming. After much learning and sharing and growing and Mandy Moore doing a weird Saturday Morning Kids Cartoon voice, Charlie Whee! learns that to saute means to jump. As ever, Alice is also present. [Interesting that an entire VT is devoted to Charlie not knowing what saute means, but Charlotte never having heard the word "foxtrot" was brushed under the carpet. - Steve]

Out to the stage, and what song has Mandy Moore chosen to represent the spirit of young love? That's right, it's Amazed by Lonestar, a song so middle-aged that the list of notable covers on wikipedia runs "Bonnie Tyler, Duncan from Blue, Boyz II Men, Ben Mills and a German X Factor runner-up". The video-wall is showing a sunset on the beach, they're both dressed up like they're in an M&S advert, and the whole thing is so bloody Nicholas Sparks I'm afraid she's about to die any second from lurgy/virginity/being hit by a bicycle. They jump around a lot - she looks like she knows what she's doing and is a bit scary about it, and he really doesn't but pulls woobie-face a lot, which is really a better representation of teen love than the routine danced well would probably be. S'alright. When they finish, Mandy Moore looks 50% proud 50% disappointed from the sidelines.

Cat pulls them over by calling it the Justin Bieber/Rihanna (Evil Bisexual Steven Beale/Kara Louise from Big Brother 8) duet the nation has been waiting for. I personally am uncomfortable with the idea of a real Justin Bieber + Rihanna duet, just because she would actually eat him. Arlene starts for the judges by acknowledging that Alice exists, but she finds it really hard to critique Charlie, because he has enough emotions for all ten male dancers (really? Even Angry Luke?) but his technique is poor. But he speaks the language of dance. But he needs to own it with his body. But that was beautiful.

Sisco says that he agrees with Arlene (which bit?). Alice exists, but Charlie needs to use the hydraulics of his feet some more. Charlie uses his word that he learnt this week in response, and Sisco replies that he needs to be a better support system for that girl whatsername there, but it was beautiful anyway. Arlene then breaks back in to thank Mandy Moore for really pushing the dancers to do things they've never done before, and by "dancers" she of course means "Charlie".

Nigel follows up by saying that Charlie's saute sucks...............BUT HIS SPIRIT DOESN'T. Can the BBC not flash up a brief "barf warning" for sentences like that, like they do with spiders in the Metro? Nigel hopes that Charlie is long around to learn to be good at dancing, and also Alice exists, and was quite good. Louise doesn't speak, as she's applying a jet-hose to her face to try to get the worst of it off. Meanwhile, Cat notices that Charlie flicks his hair a lot, so decides to bully him for it mercilessly, cackling as he sprints away. Bless Cat.

Next up are Generic Paige and Gian Luca, dancing Jazz. As they're introduced he properly mugs to camera in character a lot, and she gazes off into the middle-distance. Sounds about right.

VT reminds us that last week Paige was "our shy one" (/unable to string a sentence together) and Gian Luca got praise for his contemporary work. Oh and Nigel also compared him to Michael Corleone from the Godfather, which was a bit because he kind of resembles a young Al Pacino, a bit, if you've had whatever happened to Louise's eyes this week happen to yours as well, but mostly because he's Italian.

As such, we now get a montage of Gian Luca "doing his Godfather look", Paige being scared of Gian Luca doing his Godfather look, Gian Luca talking about how he's been scaring Paige with his Godfather look. Who needs a personality when you've got a nationality? Mandy Moore pops up to let us know that this was her fault and we can direct all complaints to her, and I possibly will. She tells us that the theme of the routine is that Paige thinks that Gian Luca has cheated on her, and boy is she pissed! Paige lows that this week she is playing a crazy jealous Italian lady, as we watch her slap Gian Luca around like she's a Boots advert, whipping him in the face with a towel and smacking him round the face hard. HERE COMES THE GIRLS! Gian Luca closes by saying that Paige has to keep the feistiness up in the routine, because they don't want to go home.


Out on stage they're dancing to "Forget You" by Cee-Lo Green, as Cat informs us very quickly that Gian Luca will be playing an Italian gangster (in every routine from here on out, because he is ITALIAN). He starts by jumping around heavily on the stage doing flirty eyes whilst she...stands on a balcony throwing shoes about and ripping clothes, screaming and thrashing about like Ursula The Sea Witch when she gets harpooned to death. Eventually she gets to the floor and they do some pretty decent tumbling and drama faces before she...falls on her arse and never really recovers, and they both improv into and around one another, with absolutely no connection whatsoever. This goes on for quite a while. They just about recover to get her up the balcony again at the end. It's as bad a performance as I can remember on this show. Even the UK version. In the audience Mandy Moore's face reads "great. I had Charlie Whee! slopping around and now this. Burn the tapes. And Paige."

Cat pulls Paige & GianLuca over by telling Paige that she still looks really angry. Can't think why. The Human Remains of Louise Redknapp begin the judging, saying that she really liked that they saw a different side of Paige tonight, but the routine's power fizzled out towards the end. Still, at points it was the best that she's seen Paige dance in this competition. Jesus, how bad is she normally? Sisco follows up by saying that he loved Paige's character but she's far too clumsy. Someone in the audience actually shouts "HATER! BOOOOOO!" and Sisco gives this the drama-face in response that it deserves. It was good, but she needs to work on not falling over quite so much. This isn't "So You Think You Can Fall Down?".

Arlene next, saying that she loved Paige's character, and if her man didn't return home for the night, she'd be doing what Paige did (toppling around as though drunk and falling on your arse? Yes, probably). But she needs to work on her posture. Nigel finishes by getting to the point that someone else should have perhaps mentioned by now - her falling on her bum. Paige admits that she did, but Nigel praises her for carrying on regardless. And they performed well up until that point. Gian Luca's role/existence in this routine (/show beyond being a big Italian stereotype) gets mentioned for the first time, as Nigel sympathises with him for having to deal with Paige after the slip when she clearly didn't know what she was doing. Gian Luca grabs the mic from Cat and gives the standard "the show must go on" speech, but we're in a post-Strictly world now where you have to pretend every mistake is your fault, even when it clearly isn't, so I'm sure he lost points with the audience for not going "PAIGE SLOPPING AROUND LIKE BRUNO TONIOLI ON ICE IS CLEARLY SOMEHOW MY RESPONSIBILITY".

Next up, it's Luke and Danielle, performing Samba *LATIN CURSE ALARM*

The VT kicks off by reminding us that last week was a Good Week for Luke and Danielle both, with the former getting mad props for her Jazz Vampire routine in comparison with dull ol' Shane, and the latter being officially upgraded from "Fodder" to "Dark Horse". How grand for her. We're shown that Cat's Hat Of Random paired them up second-to-last, and I would imagine they were quite relieved to find one another together, given the alternatives of technique-free Charlie Whee and...that other girl. This will change. Luke interviews that he is indeed glad that they're together, because they're both Judges Favourites, but it also means a lot of pressure on them to live up to that billing. I would imagine the audience's impression of you is still mostly choreographing a walk then throwing a strop Angry Luke, so don't worry too much.

Choreographing the samba are, of course, Shouty Salsa Chris and Mute Jackie. He bellows like Brian Blessed in a wind-tunnel that Luke and Danielle are both really good technically, but they're struggling to really capture the emotion of the dance and express it to one another (/hate each other). Luke snorts derisively that it's difficult to get that instant chemistry going because they don't know one another, but she's a very pretty girl, so he guesses it should be easy. I've got a feeling that Angry Luke's Angry Feelings have found another target, because they really don't seem to be getting on at all, one little bit.

Shouty Salsa Chris yells some more, whilst Danielle says that she's just a quiet timid, shy girl, so this whole raunchy thing isn't really her thing. Shouty Salsa Chris tries to bring her out of herself by molesting Mute Jaci and ramming his tongue down her facial holes. This doesn't really work, although Mute Jaci seems quite pleased, in a bemused sort of way. We close with Danielle saying that if they want their samba to work they really need their chemistry to work out, prompting Angry to deliver a very scripted Butlins "what(campers)? Like this?" before nibbling at her ear like disinterested bunny.

CONFIDENT IN THEIR SEXUALITY! [Just like Mariska Hargitay! - Steve]

They're dancing to "Livin La Vida Loca" whilst the sun goes down on the video-wall, but I would imagine this is a sunset of Mature Adult Sexuality , rather than one of The Beauty Of Young Love To A Hickety-Yick MOR Soundtrack". Except it's "Livin La Vida Loca", so there's nothing very mature about it at all. He's throwing himself into it, all arms and legs and "HA!" faces, and she's doing her best to keep up, but for once the VT wasn't misleading. There's pretty much no discernible chemistry here at all. They're barely making eye-contact and they're a bit flaily around one-another, particularly in the lifts. It ends with him dumping her and walking off towards Sisco. Can't say as I didn't see it coming.

Cat pulls them over, saying that she thought she saw a bit of Fonzie towards the end there. Given the skirt that Danielle's sort of wearing, I think I might have as well. Nigel starts for the judges by telling Danielle that if Dr Frankenstein had the opportunity to build the perfect human body, he'd take all the parts from Danielle. Nigel then proposes to Danielle, they get married, it doesn't work out, she puts him through the wringer in divorce court, and she opens her own dance studio with the alimony. This happens in five seconds flat, whilst Angry Luke pulls "what a fucking perv" faces at the side. Oh erm, anyway, there was no sex or spice, but call me Danielle?

Louise follows, picking clumps of her skin off the desk and applying them back to her skull like plasticine as she talks, as she responds to a question from Cat asking if Louise thinks that Angry Luke and Danielle will ever not hate one another. Louise says "no". And she KNOWS. As do the Bennett Sisters. Sisco follows, saying that he agrees that there was no Latin flavour to the dance. It bounced, but it did not marinate. DAMNING HURTFUL words from Sisco there. Cat reads out their numbers. They continue hating one another.

Next up? Katrina Ballerina and The Other Tapper, which is such a fodder pairing that I'm glad they came out and then this happened. They will be dancing hip-hop. She is dressed as a geisha, he is dressed as Indiana Jones' secret boyfriend.

In VT Tom says that his favourite part of last week was when he got to briefly breathe the same air as MATTFLINTMANIA! Katrina Ballerina's favourite part of last week, or indeed her least favourite part of last week, or her opinions on anything beyond blinking her little Sarah Teather face is neglected entirely. Such a fodder pair, I swear. It's like watching two "comedy sidekick to the romantic lad" characters get it together in a rom-com - so heart-warming. We're shown them getting paired up, they seem satisfied with that. They're told that they have hip-hop, they seem fine with that, and don't say, start claiming that hip-hop doesn't exist in Hampshire or anything like that.

They're being choreographed by Simeon Qsyea aka the Hip Hop choreographer from last series who I actually didn't dislike. He tells us that the routine will be on a Pinocchio theme, with Tom as an archaeologist cum window-dresser (QUICK! SHOW HIM PLAYING POOL AGAIN JUST IN CASE WE THINK HE'S GAY!) and Katrina Ballerina as a model that he brings to life with a kiss. So not so much "Pinocchio" as "Mannequin" then. I don't remember Gepetto bringing Pinocchio to life by means of frenching him. Thankfully.

Simeon says that Tom is picking up the moves well (*cue clip of Tom dropping Katrina Ballerina on her back*), but Katrina is suffering a bit of a culture clash moving from ballet to hip-hop. One day we will actually SEE Katrina doing ballet, although hopefully it won't be for a while given that it's almost certainly only going to come as part of a solo-off. Anyway, Katrina starts to wig out and stressing over the newness of the discipline, and Tom very sweetly takes her aside and tells her that she doesn't need to push herself as hard as she does. YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL BRIDGET JONES, JUST AS YOU ARE. etc etc. Simeon's advice is to tell them both to go out and do some hip-hop karaoke. Katrina giggles, with Tom's arm around her, that she just knows she's going to hate it.

Jump-cut to Katrina and Tom bellowing along to "Golddigger" by Kanye West, both as cute as buttons, and then talking about their "swagger" I may become a gross awful shipper over these two, I warn you now. [I understand, but I reserve the right to point and laugh as soon as you start writing slushy fanfic. - Steve]

Out to the stage now, where Katrina's still in that ridiculous problematic costume, as the band strikes up with that awful Black Eyed Peas song. No, not that one. The other one. Not the OTHER other one. The REALLY bad one. Tom fusses over his model, pecks her on the cheek, wanders off, and then Katrina SPRINGS TO LIFE and starts throwing shapes all over the place, hurling energy about like nobody's business. It's just so nice to see someone throw themselves into the routine with such abandon after mostly awkward efforts at working across styles so far. She's not GREAT (a lot of her moves seem unfinished, she fair slops around the floor in a grounded section), but there's something so infectious about her performance, as evidenced by the ROAR the routine gets at the end that really kind of makes it an unfodderising moment, probably admittedly for all of about two weeks. [Exactly. This is why Nigel had a point about a good dancer being able to make something of a poor routine - not that this was a bad routine at all, but at least 50% of the reason it was amazing was because of the performance. - Steve] Tom is also there, looks hot. At the end he kisses her again, causing her to turn back into a mannequin. *sniff*. So sad. So star cross'd.

Cat calls them over to the judges, citing the name of Scarlett O Hara to reference Katrina. As if there weren't enough awkward cultural mish-mashes in that whole routine that she can't bring the Civil War American South into it. Sisco starts for the judges, leaping to his head screaming "BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAP BRAAAP BRAAAAAP". Tom laughs his head off and Katrina looks at him, uncertain as to whether this is a good or bad thing. Oh Katrina, it's Sisco, it's ALWAYS a bad thing on some level. Sisco apologises for "going hood", and continues to speak ghetto-drag-queen in praise of Katrina until Cat forces him to unambiguate himself and say that she was good, just to deconfuse her. Of course Sisco then ruins this by telling Tom that he needs to "pull up", just as Lee-Boy does. Boo! LEAVE MY SHIP ALONE!

Louise follows, wondering why she can suddenly only see out of one eye, saying that she loves Katrina's willingness to throw herself into a new genre, but Tom really needs to improve, because this is two weeks she's felt he paled in comparison to his partner now. Cat says that Louise is tough. Judging from how she looks, she certainly looks like she's been cooking long enough to be. Arlene follows on, saying that Katrina is what this competition is all about (all of a sudden) but Tom's Tutting was out of time. My tutting at the judges being mean to POOR TOM though, is entirely in time.

Nigel finishes by saying that he thinks Simeon did a great job by the two of them, because the routine was certainly memorable enough to get votes at the end of the programme, as opposed to, say, Ryan & Stephanie having a gay old time in Laser Quest. Tom and Katrina Ballerina continue to be adorable, and then run off.

Next pairing is Fat Deaf Old Kirsty and AndrogyLee, which I'm feeling is the genesis for a "Raggy Dolls - The Next Generation" series in waiting. Cat informs us that their week was full of foot phobias and flesh-eating fish. And possibly also dancing.

VT shows Lee saying that last week was great, because the crowd was insane (I was there - it wasn't) and Kirsty says that she loved every moment she was up there on stage (I was there - she did). They're then paired up, and they have a great laugh about their complete and utter incompatibility, what with Lee's Androgynous Emo Stylings, and Kirsty's Bubbly Blonde Awkward Enthusiasm. Lee grins, somewhat ironically, that maybe Kirsty can teach him how to smile. SHE ALREADY DID LEE, SHE ALREADY DID. (/Nigel's Barfomatic Quote Generator).

Cat then informs us that Lee and Kirsty picked Contemporary out of Cat's Hat, and will be working with Sarah Boulter, who did the Boys Routine last week, and who therefore AndrogyLee presumably has a deep and abiding fear of. Sarah tells them that their routine this week will be about a man who loves a woman, but feels he is unworthy of her love in return. Deep. Power up the Barfomatic Nigel. Anyway AndrogyLee interviews that both he and Kirsty were uncomfortable at the start of training, because they're both jazz dancers and this isn't their style. But wait! Kirsty's not just uncomfortable because of that! She...has some sort of foot phobia! And she'll be dancing in bare feet! So that's why!

I have to admit as "I might not able to perform to my full potential this week" reality-tv excuses go "I am afraid of my own feet" is at least a new one. [I'm with Kirsty on this one; feet are disgusting. When I watched Black Swan, I was fine with all the jump-cuts, but the close-ups of feet freaked me the fuck out. - Steve]

To remedy this phobia, AndrogyLee, dressed in the T4 off-ramp collection takes Kirsty to get her feet chewed at by carnivorous fish. No, me either. Kirsty screams her head off, we see lots of tiny little fish nibbling at her...let's say be kind and say "dancers feet" and it all feels a bit pointless, but they seem to be bonding, so that's nice.

On stage now, and Kirsty in a GIANT DRESS, which is hiding some sort of podium, as AndrogyLee sits watching her from behind on the floor in spotlight. Then "Turning Tables" by Adele starts up and they start dancing's actually legitimately really very good. They're both acting the hell out of it, and their movements are very quick and aggressive when they need to be, but also soft and delicate when the choreography calls for it. He gives good anguished, which is no surprise, and she gives good imperious, which kind There are hidden depth to Fat Deaf Old Foot-Phobic Kirsty, and I'm glad we're seeing them, although it'd be nice if we could peel her off Contemporary some time soon. High drama, high glamour, well staged. Very good job, and the best of the night.

Cat calls them over by talking about the fish, and asking what they did to Kirsty and AndrogyLee's feet. AndrogyLee says very matter-of-factly that they bit the scabs off. Everyone recoils in horror and disgust, and Kirsty lets rip a massive belly-laugh. Nigel starts for the judges, saying it was intense and wonderful and beautifully danced, but then implies that they got lucky by getting good choreography and landing near their home-genres. Which...that's the structure of the show Nigel, well done.

Arlene follows up, saying that Kirsty and AndrogyLee are probably two of the most enigmatic dancers in the competition. Really? Fat Deaf Old Foot-Phobic Kirsty? Enigmatic? OK... She then says that she disagrees with Nigel, and that Kirsty wasn't at all in her genre (FINALLY! THANK YOU!) and she danced beautifully. She does think that both of them need to work on their feet, and use wooden rollers to gain an in-step. I have a massive in-step Arlene, how do I get rid of it? HELP ME FOOT-DOCTOR HELP ME!

Louise, still rapidly disintegrating, follows up by saying that she really liked that routine, because it showed a different side of Kirsty. Normally she's an unbearable ham, but tonight she really gave a very intimate performance. Oh and Lee was as "intriguing" (/femmy) as usual. Sisco closes by calling it an emotional trip, and the best routine of the week, with them the best dancers of the week. I hate agreeing with Sisco quite as often as I have done this week. Feels WRONG.

Last up then, are Israel and Bethany-Rose Lee. Cat introduces them by saying that this week she doesn't know if Israel & Bethany-Rose were practising their dancing or auditioning for Casualty. Can't say as I'd blame them if it were the latter. Can't hurt to get a head-start.

In their VT, both Israel and Bethany-Rose remind us that last week was a Good Week for them. Well really, it was more of a "Upper End Of Average Week", but they'll take what they can get. They too seem perfectly fine with being paired together (BOO! MORE HATE-FILLED MISMATCHES PLEASE!), although when they're told they've got Disco, Israel's eyebrow does a .9 of a Roger Moore. Maybe he doesn't know that Disco means the return of...

GIANT LADY. Huzzah. She says that disco is a fusion of many different cultures (most of them gay and/or black) and also involves many, many dangerous lifts. Huzzah again! Let's close the show on a crippling injury! I know you can do it guys! This of course means a montage of Israel dropping Bethany-Rose on her face and poking her in the eye, and worrying about it to camera. Bethany-Rose's opinion on Israel's repeated attempts to destroy her are not recorded, except to say that she's more tender than the feelings that Charlie Whee! gives Nigel in his Barfomatic place.

Somewhere backstage Bethany-Rose has a word though, as Irsael is carted off to the gym, where he pumps iron whilst she watches, nomming at a pink cupcake, gleefully calling him "Izzy" and try to push him on to develop some muscles somewhere. We close with him attempting to bench-press her, and her collapsing down onto his face and upper-chest laughing awkwardly. Hopefully this is part of the routine.

We join things in medias twirl, as Israel and Bethany-Rose are beginning their disco routine (to the Beyonce bit of "One Night Only" from the hit movie "Beyoncegirls", starring Beyonce), in the middle of a rotating lift. This is probably fortunate for him, as he demonstrates for a lot of the rest of the routine that getting into and out of lifts isn't really his thing. So it's a bit of a pisser that he's got Disco then. He is at least smiling throughout, often slightly manically, but it's still smiling. Bethany-Rose is alright, albeit a bit anonymous and not really selling it very hard. Up-tempo, enjoyable, a bit sloppy, but it'll do. I can't help thinking they were really helped by performance position in terms of this "BUT DO YOU REMEMBER IT AT THE END OF THE EVENING?!" thing they're pushing tonight.

Cat calls them over and says that they were very shaky in rehearsal, but that went much better. Israel looks unconvinced, although I'm not sure as to whether it regards the first or the second half of that sentence. Arlene starts by bellowing "I LOVE A GOOD HUSTLE!"(who doesn't?) but she then follows by saying that Israel was too afraid of Bethany-Rose in the lifts, and Bethany-Rose's feet weren't quite sharp enough. Louise, hanging onto existence by her very last thread, says that Israel made her feel nervous throughout the performance, and she didn't like it. She gets that he's a hip-hop dancer, and so not used to working in a pair, but he didn't look comfortable handling Bethany-Rose up there.

Sisco follows by saying that Israel may not be the most stable partner, but he really loved that he tried his level best with GIANT LADY'S DEADLY LIFTS. Giant Lady smiles gleefully at the idea of her own DEADLY LIFTS in the audience. Nigel finishes by saying that he remembers seeing Arlene's movie (*look of panic sweeps over Arlene's face*) "Can't Stop The Music" (*look of relief passes over Arlene's face*). That's pretty much it for that point. Then he praises Israel for his energy and exuberance and we fall into an awkward bit about how Israel's probably never lifted a girl into the air and spun her around before EH, EH? Israel looks terrified and garbles out a non-sentence before Nigel quits being gross and moves onto Bethany-Rose. Who was also exuberant. Oh and he also hates those flat-shoes that she's wearing. Sisco tells him derisively to blame wardrobe and styling (OH THE IRONY) and we are done for the dancing portion of this evening.

Still time for some more Judging Madness though. Cat asks Nigel what he thought of the overall standard this evening. He says that he felt there was a real theme of one partner in a routine letting the other one down. I'm guessing he means... Ryan, Lee, Charlie, Paige, Tom and maybe Israel? Wow, that's a lot of boys. He really should mean Scally as well, but he probably doesn't. He does know that many of them were working outside their jahhhhhhhhhhhnres, but he thinks there are quite a few who are at danger of leaving this evening.

Arlene is asked if anything surprised her tonight, as if anything could any more, and she replies that Katrina Ballerina Goes Hip-Hop did, because she never thought she'd see her doing anything other than looking blandly elegant. Personally I never thought I'd see her do ANYTHING, so it's even more of a surprise to me. Louise's Corpse is asked who she thinks stood out as being good this evening. She says Fat Deaf Old Foot-Phobic Kirsty & AndrogyLee, obviously, because they really threw themselves into it. Sisco is next, and picks out Tom (*snort*) and Paige (*duh*) as the most likely to be leaving this evening. WHAT IS THIS HATE-BONER FROM THE JUDGES TOWARDS POOR TOM?! (*power votes*)

Nigel is then asked by Cat how the voting works, and he says that people will vote on who they remember, based on the VTs and their back-stories, and also a bit the dancing. He then gets all weird, yelling "POP QUIZ CAT, DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST DANCE YOU SAW THIS EVENING?!" like if she gets it wrong he's going to have her mother killed or something. Cat replies that she knows there were lasers and Nigel barks at her all "WHY ARE YOU REMEMBERING THE LASERS AND NOT THE DANCING?!". Cat pretty much stares at him until he shuts up.

PHONE LINES ARE OPEN! WOOO! So here's a quick reminder of the evening's routines :

H & Claire get the laser treatment ; WHAT'S FOXTROT HERP DERP HERP DERP ; The Kate Prince Sexual Breakfast Club ; Rithy & Shane are sexy spies ; Nicholas Fizzles ; The Worst Routine In The History Of This Fair Show ; Luke & Danielle hate one another to a Latin beat ; Katrina & Tom become my OTP ; the most bearable use of Adele on tv all year ; Karen Bruce's DEADLY LIFTS claim another victim

Steve will have your results recap in a separate entry. Not to give away who leaves, but I am 50% delighted, 50% devastated. I loved my Ryan Cheekbones.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Live and schticking

Top 20 Showcase: 16th April 2010

So after three weeks of auditions, more auditions, choreography camp, and BARROWMAN and Sisco's school of heterosexuality, we're finally getting to the important stuff: the live shows! We might even be able to offer you a bit of insight above and beyond what appears on your telly screen this week (assuming that anything on this blog passes for "insight" in the first place), since Chris and I actually managed to be in the studio audience for tonight's show. That's how dedicated we are. And how much we want to befriend Nigel. [Woo! Nigel! LOVE YOUUUUUUUUU! - Chris]

Cat reminds us that during the auditions, they searched the nation and found some incredible dancers, but even that wasn't enough to satisfy those mean ol' judges, who found some contestants fat, old, boring or all three. However, 20 dancers were thin, young and exciting enough to qualify for the live shows, and now they're get to showcase their dazzling talents in front of the viewing nation. The winner gets the chance to dance in Hollywood and £50,000 (a prize fund that, Chris pointed out to me earlier this week, is only slightly less than the money given to the winner of RuPaul's Drag Race, which airs on cable to an audience of about half a million viewers. Whether the winner of this show also gets a shitload of free vodka remains unconfirmed.)Nonetheless, everyone's out to win, and this! Is Shoogaboogacandance!

We open with a group number featuring the entire top 20, performed to Rihanna's 'Don't Stop The Music', in which the boys are all sexy sailors and the girls are all the secretarial staff at naval college, or something. One thing that's quite promising from the outset is that there seems to have been a noticeable rise in quality from the audition stages - Fat Deaf Old Kirsty in particular is a lot sharper in this than I've ever seen her before. Danielle gets a featured spot and wastes no time making love to the camera. As they're all paired up, I wonder if this will be who they'll dance with when the competition starts properly next week. I'm inclined to think not, because Matt's dancing with Kirsty, which seems like a very odd partnership, but then stranger things have happened on this show. [Like Sisco - Chris] Ryan also makes the most of an opportunity to get some camera time, and Lee C gets a featured spot doing a backflip and some impressive breakdancing. Tom and Matt are also given their own bit to do, which is as tappy as you can actually be when you're not wearing tap shoes, and invisible Alice seems to be struggling a bit at the end.

Cat arrives and welcomes us to the show, bringing us the good news that no one's getting eliminated this week. Hooray! I actually think this is a really good idea, and it's a shame they didn't have time to do it last year - considering the dancers are all about to be thrust out of their comfort zones, it's helpful for us to see how good they are at what they claim is their area of expertise (for most of them, anyway). Of course, they will still be subjected to the judges, who get their own VT, but it's made up almost entirely of bits we've already seen, so I'm just going to skip that if it's okay with everyone. Arlene and Sisco enter from stage left - Arlene is looking lovely in a white dress and a snazzy pair of red shoes, and Sisco is looking...very Sisco-esque. He's scraped all his hair back à la Beyoncé in the 'Single Ladies' video, and appears to be going for some sort of bonda matador look. Maybe he'll be doing a paso doble later? Louise and Nigel enter from stage right, with Louise in a shimmery, glittering dress and Nigel in a silver suit. On-set Insight #1: Louise's dress doesn't seem to have gone down terribly well with viewers, but I can only assume this is a "failure to translate to TV" issue because in person she looked absolutely stunning.

Cat returns to the stage and looks at the wrong camera for a good ten seconds (ahh, live TV) and reminds us that the dancers will be showcasing their strengths tonight, but we'll be chatting to the judges first. Nigel tells us that the dancers can relax tonight because there's no danger of elimination, and this is a chance to show us who they are. He tells us that in that first routine (courtesy of Mandy Moore), we saw how clean the dancing is this year, and he adds that while we had some great individuals last year, this year the group as a whole is strong. Cat asks Louise what the dancers will be feeling, and Louise thinks they'll be anxious, nervous and excited, but they just need to come out and give it their all. Cat then turns to Sisco and does an Elvis impression that at first I mistook for a growly sex face. I have to say, I was quite relieved when I worked that out. Nigel's clearly reading my mind, because he likens Sisco's hair to "Elvis and Beyoncé" and Cat points out that that's "two divas in one". Three, surely? Sisco reminds us once again that THIS IS NOT BRITAIN'S BEST DANCER THIS IS BRITAIN'S FAVOURITE DANCER, THAT'S HOW THAT CLUMSY OX CHARLOTTE AND FAT DEAF OLD KIRSTY GOT HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE, and that they have to - wait for it - "live". This gets absolutely no reaction from the studio audience, and I have never been prouder of a group of total strangers with whom I'd been thrown together in my entire life. After that, Arlene explains that next week everyone will be dancing with partners, and they'll have to have chemistry and they'll need to remember what they had in that first routine, which "looks like it was mixed by Brian Cox in a science lab, they need all the chemistry they can get". Except Brian Cox is a physicist, so he probably doesn't do all that much mixing in the lab. [Maybe she's talking about the Brian Cox Pantene advert that is no doubt imminent - Chris] Still, Arlene without those slightly clumsy turns of phrase wouldn't be Arlene, and I for one wouldn't want her any other way. Cat also draws our attention to Arlene's subtle but snazzy diamond accessories, and the audience whoops rather mutedly. On-Set Insight #2: I don't think many of us could actually see them from where we were, hence the slightly quiet response. I whooped loudly anyway, because I'm easily led.

Time for our first group number, from Shane, Bethany Rose, Luke and Katie. VT, anyone? Oh, I think so: we start with Katie, who tells us that she's crazy and scatty, because she likes food and music. Whoa, steady on there, YOU LOON. Primetime BBC1 is just not ready for your madcap stylings. She continues that she's not too precious about image and is quite happy to do whatever's asked of her in that respect: "if you can't have pink hair when you're 24 and on the telly, when can you?" Next up is Shane, who is from Australia, and illustrates this by posing outside a Walkabout. Presumably his choice was either that or just walking around Acton. He's been here for about 10 months, and doesn't consider himself a typical Australian because he can take or leave things on the BBQ front, although he does like Vegemite. I feel like I am learning a lot here. His mum hasn't seen him dance in five years, but has come over to watch him on the show. Bethany Rose is from Devon, and loves animals because they don't answer back. Although they do bite. She didn't make it onto the show last year, you may remember, and says that she's spent the year working hard. Luke is 30 (gasp!) and from Leicester - he's been working on shows like Cats, Grease, and Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert recently, but he's ready to be in the spotlight and do something bigger and better. They are the Jazz group, and illustrate this by doing jazz hands, naturally.

They're performing a vampire-themed routine to Evanescence's 'Bring Me To Life', which begins with Luke and Shane suspended from the ceiling upside down, and frankly they've both got my vote for being able to do that without vomiting all over the studio. Bethany and Katie are presumably vampire fangirls, and start macking on the guys as they're lowered from the ceiling [either that or they love Spiderman and got CONFOOSED - Chris], and then get their own little featured spot over the side of the stage so that we don't have to watch Luke and Shane releasing themselves from the harnesses, and then there's a bit of snarling from the guys before an acrobatic display - Luke and Shane's aerial cartwheels are particularly impressive. Luke is going above and beyond in his commitment to the roll, going as far as to lick Katie's ear in the middle of a lift. It ends with the girls throwing themselves into the boys' arms and being carried off to the crypt or whatever.

Cat calls it "Twilight meets Liza Minelli meets jazz hands meets 'I wanna suck your blood'." Indeed. Nigel namedrops choreographer Paul Domaine just to help things along, and credits him for tapping into the general vampire lust that exists in popular culture right now. He thinks they were very sexy vampires, but he thought that Shane was a little toothless "and for a vampire, that's no good, son." He thinks Shane needs to get into character a lot more. Luke, on the other hand, was bang on and the girls' technique was fabulous. Cat asks Shane to give us an evil look, and I assume Shane probably didn't have to look far to summon feelings of murderous rage right now. Arlene thinks they set the standard flying high, and she really got her teeth into the routine. She thinks that Bethany and Shane had dead arms and she wants to see them "LIVING!" Again, no reaction to this. Keep it up, audience! Also, Arlene: please don't assume that just because Sisco keeps saying "living!" that it's ever going to catch on. He said it frequently last year, when this show had about two million viewers more than it's getting at the moment, and it didn't work then, so I really don't think it's going to happen. Louise agrees with the dead arms in places, but says that they all brought the power and made the routine work. She agrees with Nigel that Shane needs to lose his inhibitions. Cat asks Sisco if first-week nerves are to blame for Shane's issues, and Sisco non-answers that he doesn't know what show the others were watching, because that was hot. He thinks they were all believable, and he was jealous of the kisses. He thinks they all did well. And if I may throw in my $0.02 here, obviously I know shit-all about dancing, but I didn't see anything wrong with Shane in this routine at all. He was just "on" less than Luke was, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The jazz dancers trot off, and it's the hip hoppers: Lee C, Rithy, Charlie and Israel. Lee tells us that he had encephalitis when he was seven, which scrambled his co-ordination, and the doctors suggested trampolining as part of his recuperation to help him restore it. He went on to be a champion trampolinerist, and was inspired by a breakdancer in a club to move into dance. Rithy is Brazilian and crazy and loves people. She appears to be one of those people who couldn't sit still even if her life depended on it. She says it doesn't matter what you do as long as you do it with passion. Israel is the youngest dancer on the show, and has only been dancing for four years - he thinks he's good, but he wants to be better. He has supportive parents, which is nice. Charlie is currently studying a degree in circus, and even Charlie's like "yeah, who knew that was a real thing?" I imagine that David Cameron is tabling motions to cut all funding for things like that as we speak. He says that he's got a few tricks ready for the live shows.

They're all dressed as old people, so you know right away that Kate Fucking Prince must be behind this routine. The theme from The Archers plays and everyone mugs their very best old-people behaviour (incidentally, with Charlie in a tweed jacket and his hair parted on one side, he kind of looks like Matt Smith as The Doctor). Lee fiddles with the wireless and retunes it to Run DMC's 'It's Like That'. Charlie and Lee show off their best breakdancing moves first of all, before Rithy and Israel do some interesting work with their canes that involves contorting themselves around each other. Charlie and Rithy do backrolls over Lee and Israel respectively, and Charlie's hat flies off in the process, meaning that it's right in the way of the next bit, where they're all lined up on the floor, jumping over each other, although full marks to Lee for thinking quickly, and grabbing it when he gets near and lobbing it offstage somewhere. Charlie does some of his contortions at the front, while Lee and Israel chuck Rithy into the air cheerleader-style. It ends with Charlie retuning the radio to 'Barwick Green' again and everyone remembering that they are old and stuff. Ugh. Still, at least there weren't any tramps involved. Kate Prince applauds in a fairly surly fashion.

Cat summons them all over, and they all stagger over, old-person like. You can't knock their commitment, I guess. Sisco says that that piece is exactly how he imagines Nigel's house. Nigel chips in that that was Arlene's last birthday party. [33 again! - Chris] Sisco loved their commitment and they left him wanting more. He can't wait for them all to get hip hop again, which could conceivably never happen. Louise loved that we had hip hop and theatre, and she loved the synchronisation, and she thought Rithy made hip hop sexy [Hip hop of course generally being a genre known for it slack of overt sexuality - Chris]. Cat interjects unnecessarily that Rithy "held her own, and there's three guys up there." Should we be surprised by this? I don't like this general idea of humouring the girl by pointing out that she did well by not sucking in comparison to the guys, especially when Rithy genuinely was great in that number on her own terms. Arlene loves their acting and personality, and calls Charlie "Bieber baby", telling him that she loves his tricks but he needs to start learning some new ones. Charlie assures us that he has more tricks up his sleeve. Nigel agrees that they've taken a risk with Charlie and they're expecting him to grow. He turns to Rithy (pronouncing it as it's spelt, rather than "Richie" like everyone else has been saying), pointing out that she's not even a b-girl and did so well in this, despite being out of her element. He's looking for Lee and Israel to provide some exciting moves, and he knows they're going to be really exciting.

Up next are Danielle, Katrina Ballerina, Gian Luca and Stephanie with a contemporary piece. Danielle cops to being a total Britney Spears fangirl, and we see a photo of her as a teenager with a bad blonde dye job. She's very excited about the first live show. Stephanie lives in Kent (hooray!) and her specialty is Latin dancing. So quite why they've lumbered her with a contemporary routine, I'm unsure. Mind you, she's not the only one with this problem tonight. Just wait until you see what Fat Deaf Old Kirsty gets stuck with. Danielle's been working as a professional dancer (as Cha Cha in Grease, by the looks of things), but she wants to learn all the skills on this show. Katrina works at her mum's dance school, and was taught ballet by her mum when she was five. Anyone else hoping we're going to get some kind of Black Swan moment from the two of them at some point, or is that just me? [WHERE'S MY SWEET GIRL? Still here mum... - Chris] She's hoping that being the only ballet dancer will help her stand out. Gian Luca is Italian, and is also ballet-trained, and is a part-time model. He's the oldest dancer here, but thinks that's an advantage because he has the experience.

I'm sure you will all be shocked to learn that this contemporary number features everyone in billowing monochrome outfits soundtracked by serious MOR music - in this case, Andrea Bocelli's version of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'. Not that I'm suggesting this show is a bit overly-narrow in its display of contemporary dance, or anything. (And yes, I'm going to eat those words after the next routine, but I feel my point stands all the same.) Danielle stands out as the best in this routine - there's just something incredibly watchable about her, although Stephanie and Katrina don't exactly embarrass themselves either. Gian Luca is a bit harder to pin down - he seems to have more of an enabling role in this routine than anything that's specifically his own, but he's not wowing me.

Louise loved the change of pace and sound, and says that contemporary is about digging deep and immersing yourself in, and she thinks Danielle conveyed every emotion in that routine. Danielle says that she's so emotional, because she loves that song and loves dancing with these amazing dancers. Sisco thought they complemented each other brilliantly, and he felt like he was watching a company. He thinks the bar has been set very high for all four of them. Cat asks Arlene if it's impressive for them to have developed chemistry so soon, and Arlene says that they have technique for days and own their bodies. She credits Gian Luca with "the passion of a Bruno Tonioli or a Vincent Simone" (HA!) and Nigel adds that as he's got older he can't believe how much he enjoys watching the marriage of music and movement, and he found this very uplifting and moving. He tells Gian Luca that he reminds him of a young Michael Corleone from The Godfather and asks him if he has mob connections. Hmm. It's no "you're like a little Lenny Henry!", but it still makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.

Up next are "our Broadway brat pack" - Lee B, Charlotte, Paige, Matt and Tom. Tapper Tom says he's not a typical dancer, he's a lad's lad (shots of him drinking beer and playing pool and DEFINITELY NOT DOING ANYTHING THAT LOOKS GAY OR ANYTHING). He wants to bring tap to a wider audience and make people realise how difficult it is. Paige is a disco dancer, and looks as bored by her own VT as I am. She likes dressing up, although she needs to work on her "I ENJOY THIS!" face if she plans on doing this sort of thing on a regular basis. She's shy and nervous, but she comes alive when she dances, she assures us. Lee is from Plymouth and is a jazz dancer, but was apparently not allowed to be in the actual jazz routine, so I guess he's another person not exactly giving us his specialty tonight. He says that he doesn't try to be different on purpose, but he just stands out anyway, and this segues into a rather cruel montage of people walking past him and pointing and staring. I mean, he's not THAT weird, guys. [I thought it was supposed to be people having their heads turned by his androgynous sexuality rather than his weirdness. Which would probably be a bit kind NO OFFENCE ANDGROYLEE - Chris] [Well, I assumed the same thing, but even in that context, I'm struggling to see his appearance to be as noteworthy as the show seems to think it is. I mean, he's a lean dude with long hair, we had tons of those where I grew up. - Steve] Oh, and it's soundtracked by The Killers' 'Somebody Told Me', as in "somebody told me that you had a boyfriend that looked like a girlfriend." Seriously, show, lay it on thicker why don't you. He thinks he can bring something individual to the competition. Charlotte is also a jazz dancer, and is BUBBLY AND OUTGOING. On-Set Insight #3: her friends were sat in front of us and were super-loud, and kind of rude to the other dancers. Not that this should have any reflection on Charlotte herself, who I'm sure is perfectly lovely, but I feel it merits saying all the same. She says that some people say she looks like Christina Aguilera. If this is true, they're wrong: she looks like Sheridan Smith in Two Pints Of Lager And A Pint Of This Show Should Have Been Cancelled Years Ago. Matt's VT is soundtracked by 'Thinking Of Me' by Olly Murs, which I'm hoping is the show's way of suggesting that Matt too is a bit of a bellend, but we'll see. He's an adrenaline junkie, and he likes FOOTBALL AND MANLY NOT-GAY THINGS! He wanted to be a dancer because he thought it would improve his chances with the girls, AND IT DOES LOL NOTGAY!

They've got a bit of an overall Broadway montage, which starts with something that I believe is from A Chorus Line and showcases everyone, before Lee, Charlotte and Paige are sent offstage to allow Matt and Tom to do a tap duet. And it's not that it's not enjoyable or impressive, but it does go on for quite a while, and none of the others get anything like the same amount of exposure in the routine, so it does feel a tad unfair. Lee at least gets a little bit of a solo spot immediately afterwards, although the camera disappears in the middle of it, and Charlotte and Paige eventually get to go at the front for 'Anything Goes' - briefly. Seriously, if I were them, I'd be feeling short-changed right now.

Cat calls Matt "heartbreaker" (I'm so pleased we've got an entire series of *that* to look forward to), and Arlene says it was the campest thing she's seen all year. I wonder if Tom and Matt are annoyed that all that energy they spent on being MANLY AND NOT GAY in their VTs was for naught. She loved the tapping, but she thinks Tom needs to keep his arms strong, and she thinks Lee was great in the lift, and the girls have great personalities, but they need style for Broadway, to think "neat and clean". Nigel thought it was entertaining, but felt it was both a mash-up and a mess-up. He's quick to exonerate Giant Lady, the choreographer, from blame in all of this because she just did what was asked of her given the mixed bag of talent, but Nigel would've liked to see the tap as its own routine and Lee and the girls as their own routine, but putting them together felt a bit disparate. He thinks they'll all do well in the competition, and he hopes for a proper tap duet from Matt and Tom at some point. Louise says that Broadway is entertainment, and the tap really worked for her and brought the room to life. She tells Matt that he made it look easy and Tom needs to make sure he can keep up. I have a feeling that I'm going to be an enraged Tom stan by the end of the series if people keep insisting he's playing catch-up with Matt. Sisco disagrees, because he loved it, but he thinks Paige needs to hold her centre of gravity, because she's sloppy on her landings and her posture on her pirouettes is extremely ugly, but as a whole it was great. Cat reminds us that Paige is the shy one, and Paige backs this up by being fundamentally incapable of stringing a sentence together. Good job she's not on So You Think You Can Articulate Yourself Effectively, I guess.

Finally we have Fat Deaf Old Kirsty, Ryan and Invisible Alice, who seem to be "the leftovers" and have been classified as "contemporary". Fine for Ryan, who we saw audition with a contemporary piece, but Kirsty? Need we remind you what happened when Kirsty attempted contemporary last time? This doesn't bode well. Ryan is from the Isle of Wight and has cheekbones, and reminds us of his ill-advised sob story. Remember: my brother died of cancer makes you sound sympathetic. My brother died of cancer on my birthday makes you sound like you have a really odd set of priorities. [Given as how the Internet loves to show off its ZOMG EDGINESS AND CYNICISM by whinging loudly about "sob stories" at every possible opportunity I personally doubt it'd make much difference - Chris] Anyway, dancing helps him through his emotions, and he's much happier now. He does endear himself to me a little bit by saying that he's been training in all the different genres like a madman, because it's not like he's going to get this chance again. I like that attitude a lot. Invisible Alice is from Leicester and has never been seen before. Her family is very showbiz - her great grandfather was a jazz singer, and her grandmother is 85 and still tap dances. She hope people see her for who she is. But who is that? Buggered if I know. Kirsty used to do burlesque dancing with a girl group, and got to dance with Dita Von Teese. Dita Von Teese does seem quite happy to turn up for just about anything, though, so I'm not sure how much of an endorsement this is. Kirsty says that they found she was deaf when she was 12, adding that people had been assuming she was a daydreamer ("I probably was daydreaming as well, but it was because I couldn't hear anything anybody was saying" ♥). She adds that she doesn't consider it as a disability and doesn't want to be known as "Poor Kirsty". I'm guessing she's not going to be crazy about being called Fat Deaf Old Kirsty, in that case.

Now, in this routine's favour, it is a contemporary routine where no one is wearing white, and where the music actually has a tempo to speak of (Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy'). Unfortunately, that's about the only good thing I can say about it. They appear to be on the set of Not Going Out, and while all three of them are doing their best to sell what they've been landed with (Kirsty in particular is all eyes, tits and teeth throughout, though Ryan and Invisible Alice aren't far behind), but the routine as a whole is just a mess and doesn't really make sense as a narrative or as a showcase of technique - at one point Kirsty grabs a bowl full of glitter and starts chucking it around everywhere, making it all just look like they're all high. [LOL MENTALLY ILL!!!!!! - Chris] It ends with them all leaping off the stage. I don't blame them.

Louise thinks they gave it 100%, but there's a fine line between dancing and acting, and she thinks the overegged acting detracted from the dancing. Sisco surprises himself by agreeing with Louise, saying that he doesn't know if this is what the requirement was, and if so they did what they were told, but it was too cheesy for such a gloomy song. Arlene says that we all know she was not a fan of Kirsty, but she's eating her words now because she couldn't stop watching her in that routine. She hopes they were all required to look crazy. Cat asks Kirsty if the craziness was a requirement of the routine, but Kirsty isn't looking at her and so can't really hear her properly, but eventually all three of them confirm that it was deliberate.

So everyone's performed, but we still have two more group numbers. First up are the boys, who will be working on a contemporary routine taught by Australian choreographer Sarah Boulter, who explains that the routine is about the strength and power of a man, to show off the boys' physicality. [As excuses for stripping goes, that one's up there - Chris] Israel says that there's a lot to think about. Sarah insists that the boys take their shirts off, and this is not a happy development for everyone. She also suggests they need some fake tan, so the girls come in to paint them all orange. Seriously. I hope none of these girls are beauticians in their downtime, because this point does not speak highly of their skills. Charlotte tans Lee, who says it's fine, "as long as I don't turn out like Scally". Hee! Charlie thinks he looks like an Oompa Loompa. Sarah has complete trust in the boys and thinks they'll be terrific.

This, for my money, is the best routine of the night, and not just because of the shirtlessness. It's visually arresting, with each of the solo spots being single out in spotlights, and being lit directly from above giving it all an otherworldly quality. It features some genuinely breathtaking choreography, and the guys deliver what's asked of them and more. I can't help noticing that in comparison to the rehearsal footage, some of these guys have had some serious waxing done [BOO! - Chris] - Matt and Ryan most noticeably. Shane has an incredibly muscular back, and to that end is probably the only one of the ten with the physique to really sell this piece.

Nigel wonders if the absence of shirts is part of the BBC cutbacks. He thinks that the shirtlessness and tanning helped us to see the bodylines, and it's clear to see how hard it is to be a strong, masculine male dancer. Arlene calls it a "chest fest", and some were showing off their best bodies and their best tricks, while others weren't, but it was "hot". Louise thanks Sarah for making the shirtless decision, and she thinks Shane and Luke brought the masculinity and power required. Sisco fans himself, and says that he was worried about whether they could pull it off, and they did - but some of them only *just* managed it. He doesn't specify who, which isn't terribly helpful for the audience or the contestants.

Time for the girls to see if they can better that. They've got a routine from Kevan Allen, which is about "ten birds that come to life at night and become sexy, vibrant women" - it's very lyrical and jazz-focused. Alice says that everyone's having to concentrate very hard. Kevan's impressed with how well they all gel together. Kirsty thinks that if it works it's going to be amazing, and is reminding me more and more of The Prenj with every second of screentime she gets. We see them rehearsing their apartment, and Danielle says how nice it's been getting to know everyone, with Stephanie adding that being temporarily in a position of non-competing helps. Danielle says that they're dancing to one of her favourite songs (again? Is there anything she doesn't like?) and she hopes they can outdo the boys.

They're dancing to 'Fighter' by Christina Aguilera which is indeed an awesome song. Their challenge is different from the guys', because here it's more about whether they can capture the drama while remaining in synch with each other. For the most part, they do a fine job - Danielle, Bethany, Kirsty and Rithy are the standouts to my eyes, but Charlotte and Katie aren't far behind.

Nigel has a feather in his hair, which he claims came from Arlene, and cracks a terrible joke about how many people will be "tweeting" about this. Oh, NIGEL. Sisco thought it was better than the guys, and that they killed it. Louise thinks the competition is on and can't wait for next week. Arlene says it's about the legs and how they use them - "girls, you used them, and next week you'll be using them to kick each other out the door!" Indeed. Rithy's all "oh, snap!"

Cat decides to put the judges on the spot - even though no one's going this week, she wants to know who'd be in trouble if they were, and who's got off to a great start. Sisco squeals and refuses to say, but he does have one boy and one girl in mind. Cat declares him "rubbish". Word, Cat. Nigel says that he was uncomfortable with Ryan, Alice and Kirsty working together, but it's going to depend on what they pull out of the hat next week and who they're partnered with. He thinks the first contemporary routine was the best. Arlene thinks Ryan, Shane and Tom need to "get it up" *titter* and get stronger to keep up with someone like Matt (sigh), and the girls like Paige and Charlotte who lack technique but have personality (I seriously can't believe that Paige of all people is being painted as having got through on the strength of her personality) need to take some notes from Danielle, and Louise agrees that Ryan needs to try harder, and her favourite was Danielle, who makes everything look easy. Sisco adds that it's only week one, and everything could change.

So that's it! Next week we have actual eliminations, so shit is gon' get real. We finish with the obligatory DANCE PARTY, slowly panning around the Top 20, with everyone being fairly subtle apart from Ryan, who full on leaps at the camera, presumably in direct response to Louise's request for him to own the stage from now on. Chris will be here next week with the lowdown on the first elimination show - don't miss it!