This week’s Strictly Come Dancing recap is a little later than usual due to the fact that we were down at BBC Television Centre to see all the action take place live.
Halloween was the theme of the week following on from last week’s glitzy Hollywood Week. The 12 remaining couples fought it out to stay in the competition and score votes from the public, as well as high scores from the judges.
In the studio the atmosphere was electric as we watched each of the couples perform. There were some major improvements, a couple of disappointments and a mixed bag of comments as usual from the judges.
The show kicked off with a group dance featuring all of the celebrities and the professional dancers. Choreographed to Thriller, the routine was a spooky extravaganza that set the tone for the night and wowed both the studio audience and the viewers at home.
The first celebrity couple to take to the floor was Dani Harmer and her partner Vincent ‘Spooky’ Simone. After last week’s stunning Foxtrot the pressure was on for Dani to match that performance. Could she do it with her Scooby Doo inspired Cha Cha Cha? Len compared the dance to sausage sandwich saying it was ‘tasty, satisfying and sets you up for the day ahead’. Bruno said Vincent looked like Denise Welch in his costume going on to say that Dani needs to loosen and expand her lines. Craig said it was clean and fast but agreed with Bruno’s criticism. Darcey disagreed with Craig telling him he was wrong but told Dani she packed a lot in at a fast speed.
TV critic Richard Arnold was next up with his professional partner Erin Boag. Last week it seemed that Richard had turned a corner with Craig after the notoriously mean judge admitted he liked his Quickstep. For Halloween Richard had to get manly and serious for a Paso Doble. Did he manage to pull it off? Bruno said Richard was like ‘Gary Numan in a bad temper’ but said his execution wasn’t good. Craig liked the cape work at the beginning of the routine but told him he needs to dance into and through the floor. Darcey said Richard was the ‘most spooky matador’ she’d ever seen but advised him to clench his glute muscles to help his tilt. Len called Richard a ‘great big, butch bullfighter’ praising him for ‘giving it some’.
Strictly favourite Lisa Riley hoped to continue her winning streak with partner Robin Windsor this week. Last week saw the actress impress with her Jive but this week she was going for all-out-fun with the Charleston. In her intro VT Lisa promised to sort out her footwork to impress Len. Did she manage it? A standing ovation from the audience was a good start but for the first week not all the judges were happy with Lisa’s performance. Craig said it was ‘acted well’ but ‘danced poorly’ criticising her swivel action. Darcey disagreed saying it was the fastest Charleston she’d seen and thanked Lisa for working on her spring and bringing lots of action. Len said it was ‘fun, speedy and had lots of energy’ going on to call it great. Bruno commented on Lisa’s ‘facial acrobatics’ but said the footwork could have been sharper’. Not the best week for Team RiRo.
Former EastEnder Sid Owen was next to the floor with his partner Ola Jordan. Last week he found himself at the bottom of the leaderboard. For the past week he’s rehearsed with Iveta Lukosiute as Ola had to fly to Poland to see her mother who had suffered a heart attack. Thankfully she was back for the live show but the couple didn’t have long to rehearse together. Could he climb back up the leaderboard with his Cha Cha Cha? Darcey said she enjoyed seeing more dance content but pointed out she could see the worry on his face throughout the routine. Len said he wants Sid to do well but asked him to take more risks as he felt he was playing it safe. Bruno said Sid lacked ‘detail and accuracy’ and Craig called it a ‘Halloween nightmare’.
Former Westlife singer Nicky Byrne took to the dance floor next with his partner Karen Hauer. Nicky’s not had the easiest ride since the show started but last week’s Quickstep seemed to be a turning point for him with Craig saying he was being won over. Dancing the Tango could Nicky build on his improving dance technique? Len said it was ‘sharp and crisp’ but a bit stompy with the footwork. Bruno said Nicky ‘went at it like a rooster with a booster’ but agreed it was a bit stompy. Craig said Nicky needs to sort out his posture but admitted he really liked the routine. Darcey said it was entertaining but agreed with the other judges about his footwork.
TV presenter Fern Britton was next to try and impress with her killer dance moves with partner Artem Chigvintsev. Last week’s Charleston went down well but this week Fern had to tackle the American Smooth. Could she get a good reaction once again? Bruno said Fern was ‘too beige’ in her performance whilst Darcey said she thought it was smooth and loved the bad Queen in her. Len rounded out the comments saying Fern had the ‘how’ but not the ‘wow’ telling Artem to push her harder.
Leaderboard topper Denise Van Outen must be feeling the pressure after being highlighted as one of the celebs to watch during this year’s competition. Last week’s Toy Story inspired Foxtrot with partner James Jordan won the judges and the public over. Could Denise hit the top of the leaderboard again with her sexy Cha Cha Cha? Craig criticised Denise’s leg to hip action as jolty with Len saying that her leg action was as crisp as he would have liked. Bruno called it ‘kinky and slinky’ but said she needs to work on the basics.
Michael Vaughan has been mauled by the judges every week since joining this year’s Strictly line-up and found himself in the bottom two. Despite a disastrous Cha Cha Cha, Michael was back and ready to fight on with a Quickstep. Could he finally win the judges over with his partner Natalie? After his performance Michael received a standing ovation from the studio audience (ourselves included). Darcey said ballroom is Michael’s thing and commented on his technique when in hold. Len said he’s glad Michael didn’t leave the competition last week and teased he may finally get a 7 from him. Bruno called it ‘a miracle’ and said Michael was incredible in hold. Craig simply clapped and smiled when asked for this comments. What a turn for the books!
Olympian Victoria Pendleton suffered a costume issue during last week’s Rumba just as she was starting to show what she can actually do on the dancefloor. For this week’s Halloween show Victoria danced the Tango with her partner Brendan Cole but could she finally get a routine right all the way through? Len labelled it a ‘proper Tango’ whilst Bruno said he loved ‘the haunting beauty with a hint of madness’. Craig said Victoria lost a bit of posture but admitted he loved the routine. Darcey said it was wonderful to see Victoria’s fight and called her ‘the Tango woman of the night’.
Actor Colin Salmon performed an Argentine Tango last week amidst his hectic work schedule. This week he danced a Salsa with partner Kirstina Rihanoff. With more time for practice did he manage to polish up his technique? Craig told Colin to concentrate more on his footwork labelling it ‘haphazard’ and ‘messy’. Darcey said it was a ‘saucy Salsa’ and liked Colin’s hand movements. Len said Colin made a major error but we didn’t spot anything. What did he do wrong? Something to do with the moment Kristina passed through his legs.
Louis Smith is the celebrity that is improving the most week-on-week as he comes out of himself and shows his true ability. Last week’s Dirty Dancing inspired Salsa divided the judges but still scored Louis pretty highly. For this week’s show Louis danced a scary Tango with his partner Flavia Cacace. Did he continue to impress the judges? Craig called it ‘ineffable’ saying he loved it whilst Darcey said the middle of the routine was ‘fabulous’ calling it ‘the best Tango of the night’. Len said he wished the clocks could go back so he could see the routine again. Bruno said it was a ‘Tango with a bite’ going on to say it was ‘the first killer Tango of the season’.
The last celebrity to dance was Kimberley Walsh and her partner Pasha Kovalev. Kimberley has been one of the best dancers on the show this series and the judges keep saying they have high expectations for her. Last week’s Quickstep was a hit with the judges but could Kimberley do even better with her Little Red Riding Hood themed Paso Doble? Darcey said Kimberley sold the routine for her all the way through whilst Len said it was a competent performance but he would have liked more aggression. Bruno said it was a cross between Twilight and Little Red Riding Hood praising Kimberley’s lines. Craig agreed with the other judges saying it was ‘fiery and punchy’.
As Kimberley left the dance floor the Halloween special of Strictly came to an end as all 12 couples had done all they could do to impress the judges and the audience at home.
The leaderboard for the evening was:
Louis Smith and Flavia Cacace – 35
Kimberley Walsh and Pasha Kovalev – 31
Michael Vaughan and Natalie Lowe – 31
Victoria Pendleton and Brendan Cole – 31
Denise Van Outen and James Jordan – 28
Dani Harmer and Vincent Simone – 27
Lisa Riley and Robin Windsor – 26
Nicky Byrne and Karen Hauer – 26
Colin Salmon and Kristina Rihanoff – 24
Richard Arnold and Erin Boag – 22
Fern Britton and Artem Chigvintsev – 21
Sid Owen and Ola Jordan – 17
Tune into BBC One tonight at 7.20pm to find out which couple will be leaving Strictly Come Dancing.