Kicking off an anxious night for the celebs – after all, no one wants to go first – was Thom Evans and his partner Iveta (who the retired rugby player has aleady admitted to having a crush on) dancing a sexy salsa to get the crowd feeling ‘hot, hot, hot!’ It wasn’t bad, but Bruno cautioned against putting in too much momentum for the entire dance – it needs highs and lows to really work.
Next were Jennifer and Tristan, and the poor Mrs Brown’s Boys actress was looking every bit as nervous as she had in week one, perhaps not surprisingly after her low marks. She admitted her posture was suffering, with nerves making her shoulders hunch up, so she’d been concentrating on correction that for her waltz. To be honest, it hadn’t worked too well, although the judges kindly pointed out that she was beginning to engage emotionally with the dance. We think she needs to spend this week alternating between a spa holiday and having a laugh with her comedian partner Brendan – that should see her shoulders lose their tension!
Simon from Blue and Kristina were next, and the boybander seems to have fallen under the curse of high expectations! His tango was pretty good – and great for only week two – but the judges, especially Craig, were obviously expecting more. We think he needs to up his game a touch to match his pop-pals Frankie and Pixie, but he should be safe for many weeks to come.
Then it was time for Gregg Wallace. Oh Gregg. We felt ever so sorry for him during his Charleston, as he was trying so very hard. Aliona was happy to taunt him with whipped cream, and the poor chef ended up planting his face in a pudding, all to try and please us. Bless him. But it was a bit of an (Eton) mess. On a side note, we loved seeing Tess tenderly wipe his face with a bit of tissue – you can tell she’s a mum of two!
Next up were Alison and Aljaz who brought us a lively teacher-pupil themed foxtrot. Len felt she wasn’t as refined in hold as she should be, but everyone was left with huge smiles – she’s a bit of a ray of sunshine, isn’t she? We’re a little uncertain how she’ll cope with the more moody, emotionally laden dances, but for now she’s holding her own.
From one treat to the next, Jake Wood and Janette brought us the most joyous salsa we’ve ever seen. A notoriously tricky dance for men, the salsa involves total confidence coupled with snake-like hips. Not a problem for the Eastenders star, who wiggled like there was no tomorrow, and completed some fiendishly complicated twists and lifts. We were left beaming and so were the judges, scoring him a mammoth 35 points – incredible for only the second week. We’re excited to see what’s next for this pair.
Bringing us back to earth with a bump was poor Judy Murray, whose nerves were clear from her forced grin. We really felt for her – especially dancing after Jake. She was whisked across the floor by Anton during a tennis-themed chacha, but it was all a bit hard to watch. She needs to join Jennifer on a relaxing spa break this week!
Caroline’s tango was very capable and suitably moody – particularly when the music seemed a challenging choice – and was followed by a charming waltz from Tim, with great rise and fall (Len was happy).
Then Sunetra unleashed her inner disco diva in a fun chacha. The general consensus was that her arms are fab, but her legs need work – so at least she’s halfway there!
Mark and Karen brought us a sweet American smooth (my favourite of the dance styles) and left Bruno pleasantly surprised, although he did get into a catfight with Craig about arm placement…
Next up was another nervous Nellie, this time DJ Scott Mills whose confidence had taken a battering after being bottom of week one’s leaderboard. This time he’d been given a tango, which everyone agreed was an improvement, but he was told off for smiling at his partner Joanne.
Popstar Pixie and doppelganger Trent gave a dreamy waltz which Bruno – and we – thought was ‘pure artistry’. The other celebs must be spitting feathers, especially when they barely had a chance to train over the week! She scored a hefty 35, plonking her top of the leaderboard alongside Jake.
Second-to-last came wildlife guru Steve Backshall who, we’ll admit, we adore. What a sweetie. This week he had lots of enthusiasm – and bum wiggling – but ultimately left the judges unmoved. Never mind.
Finally Frankie performed a Charleston fusion, combining elements of jive and rock n roll, not to mention a fun Happy Days inspired set. It was busy and dizzy and we thought it was fun, but the judges were clearly expecting perfection after her magnificent efforts last week.
Still, the dance off was between Gregg and Jennifer, and ultimately, despite his best efforts, the Masterchef judge was sent packing. Poor chap.
We’re now settled in for Saturday nights right up to Christmas – it’s like Strictly has never been away, isn’t it? We’re starting to work out who our favourites are too… Are you?