Da-da-DA-da-(*insert jingling bells here*)-Da-da-DA-DA! (*insert more jingling bells here*).
Yes that’s right folks, it’s the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special! Only this year with a RADICAL new format, in that all 5 contestants have never appeared on the show before. Far out, man.
It all starts well enough. A pyjama-clad Matthew Cutler (provoking scenes of mass hysteria to the point where my ear is still ringing 15 hours later) leads the Professionals through a bizarre group dance number which climaxes in the contestants jumping out of cardboard boxes. Typical, isn’t it – all those things they must have had for Christmas, yet all they’re interested in is the box.
Following this, everything else seems to be reassuringly the same. Bruce enters as flamboyantly as ever (“why has he just flashed that Christmas tree?” enquires an eagle-eyed Mama VG), plus Tess’s outfit is up (or should that be down) to the usual standard – which this week seems to be based on that of the Innovations Catalogue. It’s strapless, it’s strapped, it’s off the shoulder, it’s satin, it’s velour, it’s long, it’s short – I bet it probably opens jars, has a torch function and pumps up car tyres too, if pushed.
Anyway, time for the all-new shelebriddy contestants! And it’s John Barrowman! “Hey, Mom! Look what I found under the tree!” he shrieks, clutching a valiantly-grinning Kristina Rihanoff. “Still, I bet his mother’s pleased, given what he usually manages to find under the tree” snarks an increasingly-weary Mama VG. I sympathise re weariness– 30 seconds of listening to John Barrowman and I’m already revealing the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden to anyone who’ll listen. “I said I’d only do this if I was covered in bling!” squeals Barrowman. Unfortunately, the BBC costume department seemed to have stopped listening after the first letter and covered him in bubblewrap instead. An easy mistake to make, I’m sure you’ll agree. Anyway, they do a Quickstep, which to me just looks like a Panda Pops-addled infant racing around at a school disco. Still, the judges liked it a lot and the audience are “standing up!” (DRINK!)
Next, Ronni Ancona and Anton Du Beke. And Ancona does herself no favours in the VT beforehand, it has to be said. This state of affairs continues onto the dancefloor, with the most bemusing Viennese Waltz I think I’ve ever seen. And for once I’m with the judges – Bruno’s “niiiiiiiiice in hold, looking for your handbag whilst out of it” summary is hard to deny. Except if you’re Ancona, who comes across as resistant to criticism, brittle and frankly just plain miserable. She doesn’t seem to like Anton very much though, so she can’t be all bad. And Len said fleckle! (DRINK!)
Next up, Vince Cable and Erin Boag. Vince looks pretty nervous. Still, at least if he goes wrong, he can blame Labour for it (look, we agreed you wouldn’t do this – Impartiality Ed.). Anyway, his Foxtrot is the best dance of the evening so far, given that it actually features proper dancing. He leads and looks, well, like a dancer. Plus he manages not to change his mind and do a different dance halfway through (final warning, VG – Impartiality Ed.). The judges rightly like it a lot and we get a joke from Craig about Cable’s “tendency to lean to the right” which has ensured Craig the Freedom of VG Towers for evermore.
Fern Britton and Matthew Cutler now. And they certainly seem like the nicest couple so far. They do a Jive, which features lots of what Our Len would term “mucking abbbbaaaaaht” at the beginning, though Len doesn’t mention this afterwards (PUT THAT DRINK DOWN!) followed by footwork best described as “intermittent”. She still scores higher than Ronni thing though, whose facial expressions in the background are increasingly resembling those of a woman trying to remember where she keeps her kitchen knives, bin liners and “burying bodies in a layby off the A21” outfit.
Our final contestants are June Brown (Dot Cotton!) and Vincent Simone (Vinthent!). June is 83! We only hear about this once though, unlike certain other contestants from this series which I’m too elegant to name (*cough PAMELA cough*). June and Vincent do a Tango set in an Italian restaurant. The continual bewilderment on June’s face throughout speaks for us all. Still, we get lots of Bolognese and Tagliatelle-based puns from the judges, which are pasta joke (I know, it’s like I’ve got Stockholm Syndrome or something).
The scores are combined with the audience votes and it’s victory for the Barrowman! Poor Vince. Still, Barrowman goes up in my estimation by dashing over to the trophy and holding it aloft before anybody can stop him for the small matter of the presentation ceremony itself. TV gold.
We end on a group dance featuring the final 5 from this year’s show, which is oodles more fun than the rest of what we’ve just had to sit through. And we get yet another appearance from our old friend the BBC props dept door! Just goes to show that a door is for Christmas as well as for Life.
And that’s it. I can see why changing the format to feature new celebrities seemed like a good idea. However, all it resulted in was the celebrities looking massively nervous having only had a very small amount of training (as Bruce continuously reminds us – it’s a good job I didn’t include this in the drinking game, I’d be comatose by now) and also strangely unenthusiastic. As irritating as John Barrowman was, at least he looked like he was enjoying it.
Two words – damp squib. Moral of the story – if a format ain’t broke…
Posted by an unimpressed Velocity Girl