Tag Archives: Natalie Lowe

Strictly Come Dancing: *Everything* needs to be leaner

I must confess to experiencing Strictly ennui this week. How much of this is the result of watching Singin’ in the Rain on BBC2 this afternoon I can not say. Though as I sat transfixed by the glorious Gene Kelly (not to mention the brilliant Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds) I knew I would be turning a more critical eye than ever on SCD.

But it’s not all Gene Kelly’s fault. I have to confess that I can no longer bear to watch the dull VTs of training and other loosely-related shenanigans or Bruce’s terrible and/or homophobic jokes. I am prepared to risk missing a nugget of TV gold if it means saving my brain from these horrors.

I am also beyond tired of the pantomime reaction from the audience to the judges’ (usually) constructive criticism. I’m surprised Len hasn’t snapped back at them before now to be honest.

And don’t get me started on Bruce perpetuating the myth that a straight man needs protecting from a gay man who finds him attractive. That’s a whole other blog post on its own.

These, then, are the things that I did enjoy this week:

  • Alex’s energy, though even I could see her kicks and flicks were not crisp enough *learned from the master face*
  • Twitterer @fionalaird’s comment on the lovely Audley, that he “basically stands around in time to the music”. I fear this will be his last week.
  • I’d pay to watch Harry make a microwave meal for two, so very happy with his Argentinian tango. I’m with Velocity Girl on predicting a place in the final for Harry.
  • Jason showing the audience why Craig’s on the panel – so that the celebrities can listen to constructive criticism and improve their performances.
  • Chelsee was lovely to watch, I’m hoping she makes it to the final as well.
  • Robin doing the Argentinian tango. What do you mean I’m supposed to be watching Anita Dobson? Robin’s mesmerising, and Anita’s not. No matter how good her legs look ‘for her age’.
  • The threesome in Holly’s training room. Brendan becomes infinitely less annoying when he’s dancing with Artem. (And yes, poor, brave Artem – the hottest man on the show, stuck on the sofa. Let us cross everything and hope he’s back on the dancefloor soon.)
  • Russell Grant looking like something out of Doctor Who this week in that sparkly yellow eyeshadow AND incorporating a costume change. Even if he did look like a giant Ferrero Rocher as Len phrased it.

I’m sorry to be such a grump, but truly Strictly could do worse than listen to the advice Craig would dish out to it: “Dahling, you went on too long, there’s too much padding. It needs to be crisper. And dump the doddery bigot who can’t read the teleprompter.”

Posted by Jo the Hat

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Strictly Come Dancing: Goodness, gracious, great balls of glitter

My crystal balls are in my pants

It’s bad news when someone mentions something daft and YOU CAN’T GET IT OUT OF YOUR HEAD. I’m looking at you Mrs Our Man In The South. You and your comments about Russell Grant’s highly visible testicles. It was fine before. It had never crossed my mind to look ‘down there’. And bless him, but Russell’s not a man whose physique your eye is normally drawn to. Not like Harry Judd. But once you know, you just can’t look anywhere else. I’m not sure if it’s the clingy fabric of the costume, or if he should be wearing rather more supportive underwear. A ‘cup’ of some sort? I dunno. I’m not an expert. I know a bit about the use of heavily engineered, built-in bras in the women’s costumes to keep their modesty intact (despite Chelsee’s anxieties last week, the engineering held, it all worked fine – nothing was seen). But frankly I’m at sea when it comes to keeping male genitalia in its proper place in dancewear.

Actually, the woman I blame first and foremost for the downhill slide into silliness in the testicular region is Sue Perkins. She was tweeting about the up-coming appearance of a squirrel with monumentally vast bollocks prior to the final show in the Great British Bake-off series. I now can’t even remember who won the bloody thing, nor anything they cooked in the show. All that hard work and you’re upstaged by a well-endowed rodent. Must be sickening.

Nut job

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Strictly Come Dancing: Scary stuff

Ooh, Miss Jones

It was Halloween Special on Strictly. I must confess I’m of an age when I’m not sure Halloween, as an event, merits a special of anything(apart from Psychoville). Far too much fuss made of it these days. When I was a kid, you might have a bit of enforced apple bobbing and a pumpkin in the window, but that was it. Now, we have a whole Saturday night’s light entertainment on both channels devoted to it.

In keeping with the theme, the show starts with a mildly embarrassing Addams family group dance, before a terrifying wizened member of the living dead appears – oh, hang on – it was Brucie, making the traditional weekly grab for Tess’s upper thigh.

Like Velocity Girl, in last week’s review, I must confess to getting a bit fed up with all the padding in Strictly at the moment. The show is plenty long enough without all the quirky videos. It’s fine to see a bit of training, but all this; “Alex was told by the judges last week that she needed to be sexier, so I decided to take her to a live sex show” is wearing a bit thin. We had Chelsee and Pasha visiting a school, Alex and James abseiling (yeah, yeah – it wasn’t really a sex show, but you get my drift), Harry and Aliona poncing about in the London Dungeon, and a horrific dream sequence for Jason featuring Ann Widdecombe of which the least said about, the better. In the words of Len, please stop all this messing about. A bit of training, and just do the bloody dance. For the last couple of weeks, we’ve recorded Strictly, which means you can whizz through all the extraneous nonsense and save a good half hour. I’d recommend it.   Continue reading

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Strictly Come Dancing: Brace Yourselves!

It’s back! The countdown to Christmas begins with the proper return of Strictly Come Dancing (I’m ignoring the pre show the other week when we saw which professional had been landed with which celeb). Even the announcer beforehand seemed to be camping it up for the start of the Strictly season.

Unlike X Factor’s drastic revamp, Strictly has kept things pretty much the same. Bruce’s ‘jokes’ remain as strained and awkward as ever, and his carer, Tess Daly, continues to wear the weirdest of outfits, prompting the weekly, “what has she got on?” from Mrs OMITS. I do like Bruce, though. There’s something comforting about having him still as a regular Saturday night feature on our screens (I know it’s Friday, but you know what I mean). My Mum doesn’t agree. She is visiting for the weekend, and watched it with us. At one point, Bruce quipped “I nearly went off there.” I distinctly heard “I wish you would”, emanating from the aged P.

The judges remain unchanged too, though Craig Revel Horwood has had a new hair cut foregoing the mullety look of last year. Len Goodman’s still a bit grumpy (‘You’re getting on my wick already”, he said to the audience after they booed a negative comment), Shy and retiring Bruno Tonioli needs to work on his confidence but I’m sure will come out of his shell as the series continues, and Alesha Dixon provides a generally supportive and matey flavour to the comments  from someone who’s been there and done it. I like Alesha, but I do hope she manages to sort out her tenses this year -“You was excellent” does tend  to grate a bit after week five.

For the first weekend (half on Friday, and half on Saturday) no one leaves the show, but their points do get carried forward to next week when someone will be kicked off. I know she hasn’t danced yet, but my money’s on Edwina Currie as the first to go. Not sure why, other than I find her irritating. Always have. Mind you not as irritating as Ann Widdecombe last year, and look what happened to her.

One of the strengths of Strictly is, I’ve always thought, Dave Arch and his Orchestra. That band can do anything. The vocalists are consistently amazing, often delivering performances that outshine the originals and add to the sensitivity of the dancing. Amazing stuff.

This year, we do get the option of live commentary from Karen Hardy and a celeb (tonight, Katy Brand) on the red button, but I instantly forgot that, and didn’t avail myself of their services.

Holly Valance (emphasis on the ance) and Artem kick things off with the cha cha cha, and for a first dance, put in a pretty solid performance. Holly said that her experience of cavorting around in pop videos doesn’t make her a dancer, but it obviously gave her a physical confidence that your present correspondent never developed during ‘music and movement’ at school.

Len said, ‘not the best first dance I’ve seen’ (booo), ‘but it was close’ (hurrah!)

Dan Lobb (from Daybreak – I know – I’ve never seen it either)) and Katya Virshilas do the waltz, and to my untrained eyes, seemed to do pretty well. Craig wasn’t pulling any punches though, even for a first night; ‘hideously rigid topline’ and ‘transformations were clunky’ or something.

Next came Lulu and Brendan Cole with a cha cha cha. Hopes had been high for Lulu, who looks in great shape, and is a proper showbiz legend, but who looked devastated to be given Brendan has a partner. Oh dear. It all went very wrong. Len succinctly summed it up; ‘lots of boombangabang, but nothing to shout about.’ Craig was even more focussed in his critique; ‘disaaaaaaaaster’! Alesha was more encouraging, but then she can’t criticise Lulu can she?

Audley Harrison and Natalie Lowe performed a waltz and he was surprisingly light on his feet for such a large chap. Len liked it, though Craig was back in the ‘disaaaaaaster’ zone, moaning about his hands or suchlike. I’d be careful laying into his hands too much, to be honest, in case he gives you a closer look, Craig.

Robbie Savage and Ola Jordan were next.  Hmmmm. I like Ola, and it turns out we share the same birthday, so she gets my vote. The Savage fella, I’m less sure about. To my mind, being known as the dirtiest player in the Premiership is nothing to boast about, especially when one looks like a preening fop, and this bad boy image is going to get rammed down our throats until he’s voted off. They danced to – ahem – ‘Bad Boys’. A bit of strutting and some dodgy pelvic thrusts, and Craig rightly pointed out that it was all about the look rather than the dance.

Anita Dobson & Robin Windsor turned in a very nice waltz. You can tell the performers – they have a distinct advantage over sportsmen and other celebs who don’t have that experience of expressing themselves on stage. The judges loved it.

It was the turn of Russell Grant and Flavia Cacace next. I must confess a bias here as Flavia is my favourite professional and looked stunning.  I wasn’t really looking at Russell Grant, though I hear he did quite well for a ‘comedy’ turn and will probably be very popular. Mrs OMITS queried whether you could see his testicles down the leg of his trouser, but, as I say, I wasn’t looking.

In the round up clips at the end of the show, Holly Valance looked even better than she had first time round. By then we’d realised what everyone else looked like, and she and Anita Dobson were in joint first place, with Lulu, rightly, and unfortunately, languishing at the bottom of the table.

Tonight, the remaining celebs get to Dance. Will the collision of Edwina Currie’s and Nancy Del Olio’s egos cause a rethink of the laws of physics? I can’t wait to find out.

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Strictly: The hobbit pips the hare to the post

Was that a great surprise? Cute plucky little Chris Hollins and perky pretty Ola Jordan winning the public vote to win the 2009 Strictly Come Dancing? No, of course it wasn’t. They haven’t been in a single dance-off for the whole series. The voting public adore short, happy people. Tall, better looking, confident and naturally more talented people will never be that popular. It’s not about who dances best, which is fine, except the programme has consistently fudged what the criteria is for winning.

Although in fairness, Chris did dance very well in all four of his dances last night. He and Ola did better than Ricky and Natalie in the side-by-side Lindy-hop. Perhaps benefiting from being closer to the ground in a bouncy, hoppy number since ‘bouncy and hoppy’ is what epitomises Chris and Ola. And boy have they practised over the months. Hundreds of hours of hard slog. For that reason, I’m pleased that they won. Without a shadow of a doubt, Chris has improved vastly more than Ricky because he really wasn’t great when he started. Not that Ricky hasn’t improved too, he has, but the fool made it look too easy, and that didn’t endear him to people. Expert after expert tried to tell us how extraordinary his technical achievement has been. ‘Amazing musicality, great finish’. Ricky’s hands-free spinning shoulder lift last night (I’m not using the correct technical term obviously) was ‘incredible’, said Bruno. ‘Takes years to learn’. He might as well have been speaking Finnish. The pain never showed, Ricky was too cool for school. And Natalie didn’t help by being long, lithe, blonde and wearing very little. At one point last night she seemed to be dancing in a swimming costume, inexplicably. I think, deep down, we resent people for being that damn good. Why would we want to reward that?

People saw nice looking but ordinary Chris dancing week after week with pretty Ola and thought ‘I could do that!’ (although I have noticed how much leaner and fitter he has become over the weeks). Ola is married to someone we know and quite like (who sports a silly haircut so is never too cool for any school). Chris has a steady girlfriend we hardly ever see and lives with his mum and dad. He and Ola are sweet but very unsexual, and their sincerely affectionate friendship is in itself fascinating. In what other forum could two heterosexual people kiss, cuddle and become so incredibly intimate and yet we readily believe they are not having sex? I did wonder if Ali and Brian (and Ricky and Natalie?) had to lose for being too bloody obviously happy together on and off screen. Their intimacy beyond the dances may have made viewers feel excluded.

Anyhoo. What I’d like the programme makers to do now is sit down with the judges and decide clearly what the criteria is for winning the glitter ball trophy. If it’s entertainment, fine. Improvement over time? Also fine. Just make sure the way it is judged allows that to happen. Then people will know what they are spending their money on for those phone votes.

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