As Joan Rivers would say, ‘Strictly Come Dancing. Can we talk?’ Having just witnessed Nancy dell Olio’s ‘paso’ puts one in mind of those old Vaudeville acts where the boy dancer would attach at life-size marionette in full evening dress to his patent leather tap shoes and perform a Fred and Ginger routine in hold. Poor old Anton pumps Nancy’s arms like a demented Gepetto with a rictus grin bordering on anaesthesia as the p0or old sack of silicone is hurled round the dance floor like the paper bag in the opening credits of American Beauty.
I think we all have to grasp that Nancy dell Olio is not in the same show as the other contestants. I would hazard a guess that she’s not on the same astral plane. In Nancy’s mind, our heroine is a teenage vamp at one of Berlusconi’s Bunga Bunga parties dancing the dance of the seven veils. In reality, there comes a time in every Salome’s life when she can’t afford to drop the seventh veil. Credit where it’s due, Nancy’s got a nice set of pins. But she’s less sure on her trotters than Bambi on ice.
Craig’s comment about Anita Dobson’s jive, likening her to a Bonnie Langford tribute act being chased round the dance floor by a dalmatian, is already shaping up as the simile of the series. But I thought her American Smooth this week was a delight. Funnily enough, I met a lighting guy who had recently worked with Anita at Glyndebourne this year (not her, me) and he told me she was the definitive word-perfect, consummate professional both on stage and off. Nobody will forget her star turn as ‘thirsty’ Angie Watts in Eastenders and I think we’re seeing a little of that steel butterfly performance creeping in to Anita’s Tess Daly debriefs. Watch and learn Lulu if you want the Pamela Stephenson vote this year.
When we all first clapped eyes on Chelseeeeee I think the nation arched a collective eyebrow in a Lady Bracknell fashion wondering who she was. But that’s the beauty of Strictly. It did for Aleisha Dixon what Professor Higgins did for Eliza Doolittle and I would put a nifty on Chelseeeee going all the way this year. Bruno didn’t leave anyone in doubt that if he wouldn’t go all the way for Harry Judd this week, he’d clearly go pretty far given half the chance. Interesting, isn’t it, that Harry has sex appeal doing moves that the professional male dancers execute with too much teeth, tits and hip action to raise a smile let alone anything else.
Strictly’s talent scouts are I think falling into typecast territory this series that mustn’t, God forbid, stoop to X-Factor depths of cynicism. We’ve got Russell Grant as the Anne Widdicombe de nos jours, Robbie Savage as Darren Henson, Holly Valance as Lisa Snowdon and the One Show’s Alex as a mouse that might just roar as loudly as Jill Halfpenny many moons ago. As Alex herself proved, the BBC is prone to clone. However, I think we’ve got a sufficiently entertaining line-up to prevent us all committing mass suicide before Christmas. Let’s face it, Rowley, without Strictly we’d all lose the will to live.
Sportsmen and women always do well on Strictly which is why I was absolutely thrilled that Audley Harrison wasn’t out for the count after the first dance-off. I should really think more like a sportsman than a hysterical creative sometimes. The will to win has to conquer one’s insecurities. The drive to improve is I think the secret weapon in every profession. Far be it from me to say that the taking part rather than the winning is the point. We all want to win. But I think it is a wise man or woman who knows when to pick their fights.
The Strictly judges do not, by and large, know when to pick fights but they sure as hell know how to stage them. Len Goodman is morphing into the Laurence Olivier character in The Entertainer. Before Craig has even drawn breath, Len strikes a pose in profile that would do Dame Edith Evans proud before berating everything Craig says with folksy cheeky Cockney patois such as ‘you’re gettin on my wick, sunshine’ or some such. I believe he even called Craig puerile this week. Craig, my dears, is not puerile. In fact, of all the front-of-housers on Strictly I’d say he is the least affected and most honest.
Of course I am biased because his was until this year my role as fashion critic at Royal Ascot for the BBC. You are briefed to be the demon queen and make the audience boo and cheer in equal parts. It is an art to make sure the aforementioned are 50/50 and never tip the scales too far. I rather dote on Mr Revel Horwood’s dimples because he tells his truth knowing full well he’s speaking what the audience is thinking and takes the bullet that allows the other three panto acts to mug and caper for the cameras.
I missed last night’s live Strictly because I was having such a lovely time with my oldest London friend Lee (aka the Unsinkable Molly Brown) celebrating his 40th birthday. We were cocktail waitresses together in Soho back in the day when Fanny was by gaslight. Anyway, Lee’s family are salt of the earth quality and were all avid fashion watchers at Ascot. So, inevitably, the subject came up as to my sabbatical this year. I still don’t feel sufficient distance to talk about it. Silly I know. More to the point, even a mention of the Royal 2011 has me waking-up from nightmares that I’m asked to leave the Royal Enclosure because I don’t have the correct badge.
That’s where I need to take a leaf from Audley. Pick your fights and keep your strength for the knockout blow. Until next time…