Tag Archives: Ricky Whittle

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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Strictly: everyone loves a tryer

So the last woman celebrity, Ali Bastian, is out of Strictly, despite she and Brian scoring full marks on their American Smooth. They are a couple both on and off the dance floor, and I’ve been obsessing all series about what would happen if they split up in real life but had to keep on wrapping their arms around each other in the dance studio for ten hours a day. It could have been murder on the dancefloor had Ali not seemed an entirely calm sort.

Nothing was going to knock the phenomenally popular duo of Chris Hollins and Ola Jordan out of the final, even dancing better. I had wondered if Ricky Whittle would go, because although patently the best dancer since the beginning, he seems to have become less popular with the public since the running-over-the photographer (allegedly) incident. I think there is something behind the eyes that comes across as rather too smooth. Mind you, I’m always suspicious of people who seem just a little too good looking, and I suppose that’s not his fault.

Despite inelegant hands and not being as good a dancer as Ali (or Zoe Lucker, or Jade Johnson), Chris has had more of a ‘journey’ (I had to clench my teeth to write that). All it means is he’s improved more over time. And ‘Strictly’ is an apt term for this ‘journey’ since Ola has taught him by means of vicious nipple twisting. Anyway, he has the Jack Russell look of a plucky little tryer about him and the voting members of the nation have very much taken him to their hearts, so it was no surprise that he found himself in the final.  

But my favourite dance of the evening was when the lovely Darcey Bussell took to the floor with the adorable Ian Waite. That woman bends in ways that frankly make my eyes water.

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Strictly: my schoolgirl crush

Oh how bloody marvellous. The woman whose very name conjures up images of complicated Victorian undergarments, Darcey Bussell, has joined the judging panel for the last few show of Strictly Come Dancing. I know she’s had a staggeringly successful career as a prima ballerina, but since I don’t give a stuff about ballet, its not her pas de deux that impress me. It’s more that she seems a genuinely decent, down to earth sort. And for a beautiful, frighteningly bendy and really rather elegant woman, she’s not afraid to send herself up. She did this particularly divinely in French and Saunders a few years back. I find Bussell to be warm, straightforward and competent, and gorgeous too of course. Like the head girl we were all secretly in love with.

So now she’s sitting pretty (and defusing a few handbags at dusk) on the judges’ desk between Craig Revel Horwood and Len Goodman. We got two shows last night. In the first, the remaining four couples performed two dances apiece for the first time, and in the later show, we got Bette Midler, Vincent and Flavia doing a thoroughly dirty and most excellent Argentine tango, a group dance that will for ever remind me of the Summer Time Specials of the 70s, all of which built up to the dance-off. Laila and Anton were going to be in it for sure, despite the most fabulous purple dress, they didn’t have a good night. The other couple should have been Chris and Ola, but they are so popular with the public, it wasn’t. It was Ricky Whittle, despite an almost flawless couple of dances. I guess the public were not keen on his extra curricular activities in the previous week.

So unless Ricky cocked it up massively, it was going to be farewell to Anton and Leila, and so it proved. They are an endearing, but also rather odd couple. There was the early ‘Paki-gate’ story, which they survived. Leila sprained her ankle one week. She is the most extraordinarily beautiful woman, who looks spectacular in every outfit, be it a tasselled cat suit, or an elegant red swirly number. Anton is an odd looking chap, who seems to have been beamed down from another planet. She asked him once if he sleeps in his tie. You don’t get the white hot sexuality off him that you get from Ricky, but Anton is very funny, and he and Leila seemed to have grown genuinely fond of each other.

But they were the right couple to go. Now we’re left with Ricky W, Chris Hollins and Ali Bastian. Everyone has had Ricky down to win from the beginning, but I’m rooting for Ali. I’m less keen on her partner, Brian, who seems rather controlling (it may just be that he’s American and so upfront about how competitive he is, I’m not sure) but she seems a decent, plucky sort, and she works her socks off every week, despite two injuries.

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Strictly: sorry to see you go, Nat

So Natalie Cassidy and Vincent Simone have had their last dance on Strictly. It’s a bloody shame. Not because it wasn’t time for her to go, in fairness, it probably was, but because, in some ways, she was the show’s Cinderella. Here was a woman who loved, literally, every step of the way. She represents every one of us that didn’t play Mary or an angel in the school play, who would love to be dressed up by a Fairy Godmother to look like a princess, then be taken to the ball. And she certainly seemed to have a ball, every single week she shone with enthusiasm and joy. It was infectious.

And she had a lovely relationship with her partner too.  I’ve found Vincent Simone, although a terrific dancer, a bit of an irksome show-off in the past, but with Natalie, he became entirely endearing. My favourite moment of the whole series so far was him trying (and failing) to do a roly-poly with her giggling away at his efforts.

Their Rock and Roll performance was never going to light up the night this week because, bluntly, she’s a normal sized woman and Vincent is not a huge guy. It was never going to be their dance. It needed tricks and throws, and the pair of them were not physically suited for it. Had they got the Charleston, it may have been a different story.

When they were against Ricky Whittle in the dance-off, we all knew who would go through. But it felt like the whole room stood up to cheer her and Vincent for the pleasure they had brought us all.

Thanks Nat, sorry midnight struck so soon.

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Strictly: More bitch slapping, less back slapping

fwOne irksome thing about programmes like Strictly Come Dancing is that you are  forced to face reality -characters you adore from TV series are actors. Pah. Dull dull dull. I have no interest in hearing anything that contradicts my happy fantasy world. I don’t want to know that the fabulously evil, scheming Tanya Turner in Footballers’ Wives is Zoe Lucker. And when she’s competing against arch FW’s rival, Amber Gates on the dance floor, I don’t really want to know that it’s really actress ‘Laila Rouass’ and that they like each other. I want an unseemly Dynasty-like cat fight with hair extensions being ripped off, glittery eyeshadow being smeared and sequins hitting Brucie in the eye. All this ‘good sport’ nonsense is so disappointing.

But anyway, it was ‘Ding Ding, Round Two’ for Strictly, and the second lot of celebs got wheeled out. In the case of jockey, Richard Dunwoody, he danced like he was on wheels, bless him. Tuffers was smooth but with an appropriate touch of the louche, looking like he still had a fag tucked behind his ear. Ricky Whittle was too good and knew it, so I don’t like him so much. We all wanted Jo Wood to do well, and she looked like a gorgeously mature version of Calamity Jane, but sadly she was no Doris Day in the fancy dancing stakes.

CKEver since Queer as Folk, I have loved Craig Kelly, but as with Jo Wood, the lovely boy looked like could have done with a big fat spliff to loosen him up a bit. But I hope popularity with the public will mean both of them manage to stay in for a while.

And über-Strictly fan Natalie Cassidy from East Enders? She did fine, and her dress was beautiful, but I’m not entirely sure how I feel about her yet. I’m not sure if I’m mentally up to allowing her to step out of  Walford.

I know that the viewers who are devoted to dance and know their stuff still hate Alesha as a judge, but she seems ok to me, so there.

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