Monday, October 25, 2010
Strictly: Stockings and suspense
Two reasons the US Dancing with the Stars doesn’t work. They use props to disguise that they’ve not got the dancing chops and the celebrities are overmarked so much that you wonder what happens to our Len and Bruno on their transatlantic flights.
Now on Strictly Come Dancing, we’re getting props aplenty: this week the Play School windows with Matt and Aliona, the “strumpet” wine glasses with Felicity and Vincent, the flying rig for Ann Widdecombe. Plus we’ve had card tricks and even wellies. There was a time when Len used to object if they had so much as a cape.
We’re also getting very high marks: couples this week, a month into the three-month series, came within whiskers of getting 10s.
But not unreasonably so. Unlike previous Strictly and unlike all Dancing with the Stars, the dances have boomed into life immediately and the standard now is what we’re used to seeing much later in the series. I’ve even had a brief glimpse of that intangible moment that makes Strictly so good: the dance that blows you away. While Kara Tointon’s routine was niggle-marked by the judges, she had the music. Wasn’t just doing the steps well, she was dancing the music.
Reminds me of when I knew John Sergeant was going to be trouble. On one of those “we’ve just met for the first time, really” items, his professional dance partner Kristina Rihanoff asked if he could hear the music. “I’m not deaf,” he said. Despite his known Broadway dance experience and the way his frame is as ruggedly athletic as mine, that’s when I knew he’d be out in a week.
Things you might not want to know: Strictly’s results show is indeed recorded on Saturday nights while we’re all out but naughty people allegedly post the outcome online around 10:30pm. I haven’t looked. Let it be between you and your conscience if you bookmark the DigitalSpy.co.uk forums. I would offer that betting shops have probably figured this trick out by now.
Things you have no reason knowing: I am the only man on Earth who does not, um, respond to stockings and suspenders. I think they look silly. Consequently Erin had the worst costume of the night for me.
But then it was a poor night for frockwatch: it’s always a little bit rubbish when Tess Daly gets the best outfits.
Still, if the dresses were lacking, the dancing wasn’t and that’s probably the best way around, sulk, stomps foot, shrugs like a teenager. And the dances are good: it’s hard to remember how much conversation and nipping out to put the kettle on we used to be able to have during last year’s routines.
You do wonder if the standard can keep up - and whether it’ll be a bit dull if they all get to 10s in week five and have nowhere else to go for the rest of the series. I’m not saying a word about 11, but we’re all thinking it.
We just need to get rid of the deadwood now. And with Peter Shilton gone, we’re making a start.