So, left in we have: Lisa; Louis; Dani: Denise and Kimberley. Of those, Lisa is the only one not yet to have scored a 10. Kimberley and Denise have both been in the dance off. Denise has topped the leaderboard seven times; Louis twice; Kimberley and Lisa once and Dani never (or should that be, not yet?) This means that everyone who has topped the leaderboard this series is down to the final five.
I’m afraid I have all this on a spreadsheet so I’ll tell you one more thing. Lisa is the only one left who the judges have ever put in the bottom two.
OK, two more. I’ve added up the total scores for the five remaining dancers and they rank in this order: Denise; Kimberley; Louis; Dani; Lisa. So, the show starts with the usual pratting around from Bruce and some odd VT of the remaining celebs pretending to race each other. Tess has hit the mark in a little black dress. It’s time to start dancing people, they’re doing two dances each.
Dani: dancing the American Smooth. It’s elegant, clean, smooth but with fast footwork. There’s a gorgeous lift though to me she looks slightly sticky going into it and overall she looks quite tense. It is lovely but it just lacks that extra something. Len praises her technique, the heel turns and the lifts but feels the frame could be stronger at times. Bruno agrees and liked the Ginger Rogers touches. Craig liked the start but said the hand position in the first lift needed attention. Darcey says there was a lovely quality and elegance throughout but that she misses a little sparkle and it was a bit safe.
Louis: jiving. He has lovely character and movement and his performance skills have improved amazingly. However, it is flat footed and a little slow. The tricks were effortless and spectacular, particularly the back flip into the splits but at this stage in the game it’s not as good as I would have hoped. Bruno says his performance has really improved but says the kicks and flicks were not sharp enough. Craig agrees and says he his feet are sickled and he’s flat footed. Darcey says it was a fun routine with great style but that Louis is perhaps too supple to give the kicks the snap they need. Len says it was too casual, the dance lacked quality and his foxtrot better be better than that.
Denise: dancing the tango. She has beautiful shaping and sharp, clean footwork, she didn’t quite hold my attention but that’s probably just my bias. Craig is effusive but says there was a little gapping so Bruno shouts at him. Darcey says her attack was extraordinary but says to watch her kicks. Len has a go at them for making trivial objections which given what he’s just said about Louis shows an alarming level of hypocrisy for someone who’s supposed to be head judge. Bruno says it was fantastic and sensational.
Kimberley: dancing the American smooth. It’s gorgeous and she looks absolutely amazing. Her partnership with Pasha is such that to the untrained eye it’s starting to look as if they’re both professionals. The song, Fever, is a great match to the dance. Darcey loved it saying she looked like a film star. Len wanted more in hold and says she looked like Jessica Rabbit. Darcey says forget Jessica she looked like Cyd Charisse which let’s face it is a far more flattering and less sexist comparison. Bruno, bless him, gets rather carried away. Craig says she could go straight on stage with that routine.
Lisa: dancing the salsa. Allegedly. It looked like all the other Latin dances she’s done. True, she’s obviously in party spirit but she’s also hesitant, not clean enough and loses timing. There aren’t really any recognisable salsa steps and at one point she does something that might have been a floor spin but Robin has to heave her to her feet. It’s not pretty and we didn’t really need a homage to Ann Widdecombe. Robin is very obviously out-dancing her but he can’t really hold himself back any more. You can tell when you watch the professionals with their professional partners just how much they hold back even with the best celebs. But when you watch them with their celeb partners they pull their punches and make sure they look like a team. Except not in this case.
Len says she was so much fun, Bruno found the crash landing hilarious and thinks there’s no point in making a technical assessment. Yes, Bruno, yes there is. I think you’ll find a technical assessment is your job. Although if you like, here’s one I prepared earlier: it was a train wreck, an embarrassment and an insult to Nicky who got voted out so that we could see this. Craig was giggling too much to say anything and Darcey says her partying is fabulous and she loves her. Really? I mean really? Then they give her the same score they gave Louis, which is utterly insulting.
For the halfway break we have clips of the celebs saying how much they want to get to the final. It seems that if you can’t wheel out a small child, you must borrow one from the nearest available relative. Failing that, grab one off the street if you think you can get away with it. Louis doesn’t bother with this pathetic, attention seeking trick which I suspect has gained him as many votes as it’s lost him, hopefully more.
Dani: for her second dance she has the Argentine Tango, so no pressure there then. She has great control and rhythm and her balance in the difficult moves is amazing and much improved from the first weeks. The kicks are sharp and very fast but once more I’m wondering if it’s really ‘wow’ without being able to tell you why. Len said he loved the start, which they did without music but with so much hollering from the crowd that I couldn’t tell what was going on. He praises her for mastering the technique. Bruno calls her the lady of the night which I assume he meant as a compliment. Craig says Vincent has taught her well but noticed one bumpy lift (really? What about Lisa’s floor sweeping moment, or were you asleep for that?) Darcey enjoyed the intensity and control but wanted perhaps a slightly crisper leg action.
Score: 38 (Total 72, 3rd)
Louis: foxtrot. I stopped writing and just sat there and gawped so you’re on your own. Sorry. It’s here on catch up. On It Takes Two Ian Waite said that Flavia had given Louis a lot of content and indeed she did. You see something new in it each time you watch it and I should know, I’ve watched it once or twice. Per hour. I may be biased. Craig criticises his thumb (ahem, where was Lisa’s thumb?) but loved it. Darcey says it was superb and he almost made it look too easy. Len said some of the rise and fall looked like bobbing up and down. Well at least he can actually do rise and fall. Lisa gets stuck on the fall. Bruno says he is a smooth operator who is back on top.
Score: 38 (69, 5th)
Denise: rumbaing, not my favourite dance. It’s clean, controlled and well acted with the beautiful shaping that I’ve come to expect from Denise. She is however wearing a wafting, floaty dress which I suspect may hide a multitude of sins. Darcey says some moves were a bit broken up but she gave a beautiful feeling. Len says it won’t be a proper final if she’s not there. Whatever, Len. Bruno says he was deeply moved and I hesitate to ask in what way. Craig says it was gorgeous but thought the dress might have been used to cover her hip action.
Score: 38 (77, 2nd)
Kimberley: dancing the Charleston. It’s fabulously goofy, beautifully acted and makes great use of the music and lyrics. There was a triple combined cartwheel from the two of them along with amazing lifts. Len says it was fun, frivolous and all you want from a Charleston. Bruno says she was flying high. Craig thought it was fabulous and Darcey calls her a quirky, naughty flapper.
Score: 40 (78, 1st)
Lisa: dancing a foxtrot-based American Smooth without lifts. So that’s a foxtrot then. She has her name in lights behind her, as if we didn’t already know that the producers have gone bonkers and think she belongs on Broadway. Her footwork is off, she gets left behind and the whole thing is distinctly meh for the semi-finals. Watching her you realise that’s not just gapping, it’s M&S gapping. You could drive a bus between Robin and Lisa when they’re in hold, if you were so inclined. Bruno praises the jazz and pizazz, and says she’s in a league of her own. Craig loved the stylised stuff but throws in a comment or two about the gapping and her free arm just in case we’re starting to think he’s biased (newsflash Craig, you’re too late). Darcey says she could be a musical theatre star and her lines are perfect in the mirroring sections. She says the only fault is that Lisa raises her shoulders in hold. Oh I give up. Len then says she is the ‘people’s champion’. No she isn’t Len. You know when they say it isn’t over until the fat lady sings? Well in my opinion, Lisa should start singing.
Score: 32 (63, 5th)
Lisa is indeed in a league of her own. It’s just a shame it’s the Vauxhall Conference not the premiership with the other four who are left. I know she’s proven that larger ladies can dance and that is a great thing. She had moments when she was wonderful, particularly early on in the series. However she simply has not improved in line with the others and to keep her in solely for her size rather than for her ability is patronising.
I suspect the producers are involved in something of a stitch up. Lisa will be appearing in Craig’s Strictly Confidential show, hence his lack of critique of her abilities. The producers know what the voting patterns are even if we don’t. We can guess that Lisa has a substantial fan base since she’s been near the bottom of the judges’ scoring without ever being in the dance off. We also know that Denise could fall over and win against anyone in a dance off. As a result, any fans of Louis, Dani and Kimberley know they need to phone in and vote, otherwise they risk seeing their favourite in the dance off with Denise.
The producers may be many things but they’re not particularly thick. By praising Lisa to the hilt they raise her voting profile and that of at least three of the other four contestants. So we keep voting so that they can pay off George Entwistle. Nice. Let’s see what the dance off brings. I know this much though – if Lisa is in the final this year, I’m never watching Strictly again.