Sunday, 27 January 2008

Under and out

Show 3: 27th January 2008

So, after last week's devastating loss of Whatsername, from which we will almost certainly never recover, and the tragic midweek self-elimination of Michael Underwood after he broke his ankle in rehearsals, it is very much all go and I for one am on the edge of my seat. Literally, actually; not for reasons of tension, just because I'm more comfortable that way.

Last week! Eleven celebrities took to the ice! There was a fuckup on the scoreboard and Linda got the first six of the competition, albeit erroneously. People had problems! Tim and Whatsername were in the skate-off, and despite Whatsername being much better the second time around, the judges saved Tim anyway. Never mind, though - at least she has the joy of returning to complete anonymity. [But...WHAT ABOUT MY ANDREI? - Carrie] Tonight! Things are getting tougher! And it's all over for Michael, in footage that I'm sure will be teased and replayed constantly throughout the show.

Phil and Holly take to the podium, and Holly appears to be wearing an old dress of Marilyn Monroe's that's several sizes too large for her. [I'm actually a bit worried that she might have a wardrobe malfunction. - Georgi] [The boyfriend was watching this with me (well, he was in the same room while I was watching it), glanced at the screen and asked, "What is wrong with Holly Willoughby's breasts?" Ah, the perils of too much tape on your bosom, leaving your decolletage unyielding and shiny. - Carrie] Phil points out how the "big news this week" was Michael breaking his ankle, and definitely not the unexpected death of a young Australian actor or anything. Seriously, let's not blow this out of proportion: it was big news to people who care about this show, and I don't mean to offend any of those people, but it's hardly grounds for a leader in The Times, is it? There's a big awww from the audience, and Holly pouts, which is appropriate for her attire if nothing else. Holly tells us there will be another star, of the female variety, taking Michael's place. Who will it be? Gosherama.

Phil introduces Jayne and Chris, and to provide their musical accompaniment (and he declares this with an entirely unmerited amount of enthusiasm) - WESTLIFE! Ugh. They're singing 'World of our Own', which is one of their more bearable singles, but that's a bit like being one of the less hostile strands of MRSA, comparatively speaking. And Jayne and Chris's routine is a bit boybandy in honour of this, and it's embarrassing me, so I shall be scanning forward now. Ah, the joys of timeshift viewing. (Westlife are not on skates, in case you were wondering. Bunch of cheats.)

Phil tells us about this week's required element: the Pairs Spin - the couples have to spin in hold for a minimum of two revolutions. Sounds easy, but according to Jayne, it's pretty difficult and the celebrities have struggled with it because too much practice makes you dizzy. Chris mentions a "grey cloud" that descended after Michael had to pull out, because his big personality lifted everyone else up. And to see who's replacing him, let's join the skaters: Gareth, Linda (who has stolen Amy Winehouse's old hair), Samantha, Chris, Aggie (being carried by Sergey [What's new? - Georgi]), Steve (his future's bright. His future's Orange), Greg (who's in a tux!), and eighth is our new star, the one who everyone guessed it was: Zaraah Abrahams from Coronation Street, who's dancing with Fred. Yay, Fred! [If another celeb gets injured, do we get Andrei back? - Georgi] [Hope so. Maybe sabotage is in order. - Carrie] Following her are Tim and Suzanne. Kind of odd and anticlimatic to reveal the new contestant right in the middle of the presentation, but what do I know?

Phil gives Zaraah an extra-special welcome, just to make sure we didn't blink and miss her, and then we're on to the ads. After the break, Phil welcomes us back to "possibly the most gripping show on television." I think whoever wrote tonight's script made some kind of sacrifice to the gods of hyperbole. Holly and Phil then welcome the judges [while the music is playing, and the audience are clapping along, drowning them out - Georgi]: Karen, Nicky [who Phil is still taking the piss out of for that "poem" in week 1, I'm pleased to see - Georgi], Jason (who gets booed, natch), Ruthie, and Robin. Phil reminds us how the scoring works, and Holly invites us to get on with the show. Yes, let's. Fucking hell.

Gareth's on first, and we see his routine from last week, which was a hit with the judges. His VT tells us that he's brimming with confidence, so this week he's got an ambitious routine. Gareth tells Maria off for being negative this week, and Maria kind of looks like she wants to lamp him, but Gareth says he enjoys their relationship. They're skating to 'Wake Me Up When September Ends'. How seasonal! I know bugger all about ice-skating, but it all seems to go fairly smoothly, including the pairs lift. Gareth does a lift of Maria near the end where she does a scissor-kick thing over his head (look at my technical knowledge!) and then flies over his shoulder. I'm now informed that this is actually called a roll-up into a crucifix. I like my terms better. The scores are in, Karen 4.5, Nicky 4.0, Jason and Ruthie 3.5, and Robin 4.0, for a total of 19.5. Not too shabby, indeed. Phil congratulates them on a great start. Gareth says it was tough this week, and reminds us again that Maria has been moody. I'm sure she's very happy about that. Phil asks why Maria has been moody, and she says something non-committal about it being a lot harder this week. [I was almost expecting Gareth to say it was her time of the month. Seems like the sort of thing he'd say. - Georgi] Phil asks Jayne and Chris if they ever bicker, and Jayne says, "Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes." Hee. Over to Holly and the judges, and Karen congratulates Gareth for being the first male celebrity to attempt to support his partner in a roll-up. [I congratulate Maria for not being scared of being lifted by such a wimpy-looking guy. - Georgi] Jason tells Gareth to lift up his head and present the lifts, if he wants to improve. Gareth agrees with all of this, which is handy.

Next up are Linda and Daniel, hoping to get a real six this week. Their routine this week is jivey, according to Chris, and seems to involve a lot of spirit fingers. They fall a lot in rehearsals, and Linda hits Daniel, again, some more. Phil reminds us that Daniel is living with Linda while they're training, and Linda's kids talk about how great he is. Linda says that it's been fun, and she's sure they'll be friends forever. Then there's an unnecessary "comedy" shot of Daniel in a bubblebath asking for Linda to come and do his back. [Sod Dancing on Ice, give them their own sitcom. - Georgi] [It can be scheduled after Alesha's sitcom My Two Nans, which will be written by us. - Carrie]

Obligatory titanic pause before the music kicks in: it's 'Candyman'. Part of their routine involves Linda doing the mashed potato while sat on Dan's shoulders. Their pairs spin goes well, and there are lots of kicks and flicks, though I doubt the judges of Strictly Come Dancing would be all that impressed by them. Although I dare say they're much harder to do with ruddy great ice skates on your feet. Scores! 3.5 from Karen, 3.0 from Nicky, 3.0 from Jason, 4.0 from Ruthie and 3.0 from Robin for a total of 16.5 again. Phil asks Linda how it went, and Linda says her feet went a bit wrong. Nicky says "The name of the show is Dancing on Ice and at the beginning of that you showed that you can dance on ice." Well, that's cleared up any confusion, thank God. Nicky tells Linda that she needs to do more skating on her own if she wants a better mark from him in future.

Samantha and Pavel are up next, and Samantha's confidence seems to have been bolstered by not being in the skateoff last week. Samantha has even asked to do more difficult lifts. [And again we see Samantha telling Jayne, Chris, Karen and Pavel how they should be choreographing ice-dancing. Shut up, you crazy bint. - Carrie] There's a fall in rehearsals that very nearly leads to Pavel being emasculated when Samantha's boot goes into his crotch - actually ripping through his jeans, but thankfully not penetrating his underwear. Samantha laughs uproariously; I suspect Pavel finds it marginally less funny. [Poor Pavel. I worry for his manhood if he has to dance with that maniac for many more weeks. - Georgi] [I found it mildly exciting to see Pavel's underwear. - Carrie] Samantha says they will be putting "blood, sweat and tears into this routine - literally". Well, we've seen one out of the three, so I shall look forward to the other two. I assume the sweat will only be visible to viewers watching in HD, though. Damn my antiquated telly!

Sam and Pavel are dancing to 'You Can't Hurry Love', and start across the ice from each other. The beginning involves quite a lot of dancing, but not a lot of skating. Things go a bit static in the middle but there's a very impressive, if possibly slightly fumbled, lift, and the Pairs Spin is present and correct. Scores: 3.5, 3.0, 3.0, 3.5, 3.0 for a total of 16.0. Phil asks Pavel how his trousers are, and Pavel refers to it as a "close call". Samantha didn't do the splits in rehearsals, and is feeling the burn now. Robin tells Samantha that the lifts were fantastic, but she needs to work on the skating content. He also tells Pavel that this is why he was a solo skater. Hee. Ruthie tells Sam that if she can do the splits then her lines should be better, and that her routines are always just "nice", even if Ruthie's English teacher said you should never use that word. Hey, so did mine! [And probably English teachers everywhere. Although, bizarrely, I remember being told that by my Home Economics teacher. - Georgi]

Oh, what a surprise: pre-ads teaser of Michael crying after his injury. I didn't expect that at all! What do we think, six more of those by the end of the show?

Chris and Frankie are next, having scored 20.0 for two weeks' running. In rehearsals, Chris is struggling with the required element, and looking a bit tearful. He also appears to have a big zit on his forehead. "I think that'll be our big challenge this week," says Frankie. "If we pull it off, it'll be Team Fountain. If not, it'll be Team Failure!" Hee! I love her gallows humour. Chris mentions the dread word "skateoff", and Frankie scolds him. They're skating to 'Rule the World', and there's an impressive bit at the beginning where she cartwheels over his head. They also do the rollup into the crucifix (which Chris does one-footed, apparently), and end with the Pairs Spin. Scores! 5.0 from Karen, 5.0 from Nicky, 4.0 from Jason, 4.5 from Ruthie, 5.0 from Robin, for a total of 23.5. Highest score of the series. Chris says that he was trying to look at Frankie to connect with her this time around, and was worried he'd fall during the Pairs Spin. Nicky says that Chris has "very nearly" crossed over from ice-hockey player to ice-dancer. He thinks Chris can still be more fluid, but is doing brilliantly for week three. Jason tells Chris that he saw a connection between Chris and Frankie for the first time tonight, and says he wants to shake his hand. Who is this man, and what has he done with Jason?

Next: Aggie and Sergey. We're "treated" to a recap of Aggie's horrifying routine from last week. Their routine this week is to 'Total Eclipse of the Heart', which is one of my favourite songs ever, and I've already got bad memories of it from Niki on The X Factor, so I don't want more. Chris says that Aggie has problems with skating (no shit), and Aggie takes time out to compose a sonnet in Sergey's honour because he's just that awesome, apparently. [I wonder if she took any tips from Nicky? - Georgi] Like Samantha and Pavel they begin the routine apart - they start with their backs to each other so Aggie can turn around on "turn around", of course. [I loled. Straight from the Brian Friedman school of literal choreography. Also liked the big Gothic house image beamed onto the ice. - Carrie] The required element passes without incident, but Aggie trips after her knee slide and only Sergey's quick reactions stop her going over. Aggie spends a lot of her time being lifted by Sergey, to no one's great surprise. Scores: 2.5, 2.0, 2.0, 3.5(!), 2.5 for a total of 12.5, Aggie's best score so far. Aggie says that's only the second time she's stumbled in the routine, after all the times she's done it. Jayne confirms that Aggie did it well in rehearsals, and Chris thinks she was more relaxed. Ruthie says she marked Aggie high because there was a huge improvement - her lines were better, but she needs to look less ungainly when she gets lifted. Karen says it's Aggie's best week, but her marks reflected the few mistakes that Aggie made. Sergey makes Same Difference-style frantic "vote! vote!" gestures. [Sergey is great. He is very good-humoured about being lumbered with Aggie. - Georgi]

Steve Backley next. I always forget he's in this, which probably means he's going to win. He's been given a faster routine this week to get his arse in gear (Chris says the word "booty", which sounds hilarious coming out of him). Steve has problems with the arm movements in the routine, and may be in for a Greg Rusedski-level embarrassment. They're skating to 'Mony Mony' (is that how you spell it? I have no idea, don't e-mail me). His movements are quite laboured, and there do appear to be a few chunks where he does very little and Susie does all the work. [Maybe she thought doing a 1.5-rotation axel jump would detract from the fact that Steve was really doing fuck all? - Georgi] Also, his Pairs Spin is rubbish, to my eyes. Scores 3.0, 3.5, 2.0. 3.0, 3.0 for a total of 14.5. Steve thinks they did well, but is disappointed with the 2.0 because he thinks it was out of his comfort zone (drink! Twice, in fact, because he repeats it). Holly asks Jason to justify his 2.0, and Jason says that Steve isn't getting faster, he's not finishing his movements, and all of his punches looked like a little girl having a tantrum. Well, he would know. [Jason reminds me of Ming the Merciless this week. - Georgi]

Learderboard: Chris and Frankie out in the lead by quite some mileage, and Aggie and Sergey in their new des-res at the bottom.

Time to finally see what happened to Michael: he begins in high spirits learning his new routine. The fall itself isn't caught on camera [Boo! - Georgi], but we do get to see Samantha Mumba wincing in reaction to it. Mel says that Michael was doing a back-cross (whatever one of those is) [skating backwards, crossing your skates over - Georgi] and his toepick got caught on the ice, and he went over. At the hospital, Michael cries and declares it "so typical, so stupid" that this has happened, and is worried that Mel will be disappointed. He says he's never broken anything in his life before (in which case: how is this typical?) and he's gutted to be out of the competition. Michael is teary in the studio and says that he's had such a good time doing the show that he doesn't want to be remembered for this. Michael explains that he had to stop quickly to change direction and that Mel's constantly been harping on about him learning to stop properly. They'd both been hoping it was just a twist so he could carry on, but no such luck. Jayne and Chris bring the flowers, and there are more tears. I need a drink.

After the break: it's Greg and Kristina. Greg's routine is James Bond-themed [which explains that 007/911 comment Jason made on yesterday's show - if they're going to make song-related puns, at least tell us what they're skating to! - Georgi], and he has some very daring lifts to attempt. Kristina, somewhat naturally, is a bit worried about all of this, which is making Greg nervous in turn. Some bloke from The Bill tells him to be less smiley. [If you're going to get acting lessons, at least get someone famous to teach you. Or good at their job. Or Stefan. - Carrie.] They're skating to 'Licence to Kill'. A lot of the routine involves Greg standing there with Kristina dancing around him, but the lifts, once they get going, seem to go well. And his Pairs Spin is better than Steve Backley's, even if that's not saying much. Scores: 3.5, 3.5, 2.5, 3.0, 3.0 for a total of 15.5, their best score to date too. Kristina confirms she did feel safe doing the routine. Aww. [If I'm not mistaken, that's because they didn't actually do the upside-down lift that she was scared about in training. - Georgi] Jason says that it was an improvement for Greg, and having created a persona helps him because "you haven't got one". So, is that why Jason's adopted the bitchy-queen persona? I do wonder. Nicky says that Greg was less ungainly than before, which is always nice to hear, I suppose.

Here's our newbie: Zaraah, dancing with Fred, who's stuck wearing pink again. Zaraah says she got a phonecall saying "we need you, reserve!" and blows a bit of a raspberry. She's had to keep up with her skating, as a reserve, since November, but had never skated with Fred until last week. Eep. Their song is, aptly enough, 'Take A Chance On Me'. Zaraah looks really pretty in her pink dress; it's a great colour on her. She's doing pretty well, actually - she does what I can only assume is a reverse crucifix, which is a little awkward, but is good under the circumstances. Her pairs spin goes well. The whole routine could do with a teeny bit more fluidity, but other than that: colour me impressed. Scores: 4.0, 4.5, 3.0, 3.5, 3.5 for 18.5 in total. Phil asks Zaraah if it's the scariest thing she's ever done, and Zaraah is still hyperventilating. Chris says that this is her week one performance, so it's great for her to have done so well. Nicky says that she's showing straightaway that she can skate on the ice, which is important. YES, WE GET THE POINT OF THE SHOW, NICKY. Contrary to popular belief, Samantha Mumba has not whacked every member of the audience on the noggin with an ice skate. We are not suffering from brain damage. We know that the contestants need to skate on the ice, Nicky, so how about retiring that phrase from now on, eh?

Skate-off survivor Tim's up next, and is scolded by Chris and Jayne for wanting to do stuff he can already do. "That's not really where we're heading," said Chris to the camera, somewhat crossly. Chris and Victoria are skating to 'Under Pressure'. The Ironic Song Choice division really earned their pay this week, didn't they. Victoria appears to have come to the party dressed as Cyndi Lauper, by the way. Their routine is serviceable if not hugely exciting. Scores: 3.5, 4.0, 3.0, 3.0, 3.0 for a total of 16.5. Phil asks if they felt UNDER PRESSURE this week, and Tim confirms that the liquorice legs are still there. Tim says he's so unused to skating at this stage that he doesn't know what he's doing right and wrong. Chris says it's an improvement, and they're going to push him for more lifts in the future. Robin says that Tim hit the nail on the head: it's his confidence that's letting him down at this stage, but assures him that it will come. Although possibly not if he keeps ending up in the skateoff.

Adverts. We're nearly there, folks! Don't give up on me now! On the return from the break, Phil points out that Samantha is missing because she re-injured her hamstring doing the splits earlier, and more news will be coming as we know it. Y'hear that? Don't die in the next ten minutes, Hollywood actors! Your deaths will go unnoticed while we all worry about Samantha's hamstrings! Suzanne is the last to go on, and we get a clip of her being told last week to show more expression in her face. Suzanne says in rehearsals that if she concentrates on her face, her feet stop working, and vice versa. [I wouldn't be talking about "losing my face" - surely it's tempting fate after what happened last week! - Georgi] She and Matt are skating to 'Somethin' Stupid', the horrid Robbie and Nicole version. They do two Pairs Spins, one after the other, and one is quite show-offy. There's a crucifix lift that appears to go wrong, and it looks like Suzanne's about to fall, but thanks to some hard work from both her and Matt, she remains upright. Unless it was all planned and part of the leg hook - I told you I know nothing about ice-dancing. Scores: 4.5, 4.5, 3.5, 3.5, 4.5 = 20.5. Another good score, but not a personal best, just since they're in vogue this week. Karen tells Suzanne her priority should be her feet ("we are on ice, not Broadway"). Jason rolls his eyes, and says that they are still meant to be dancing on ice (JESUS CHRIST IT'S CONTAGIOUS) and that he was expecting more from her this week. Karen tells him that he's missing the point and he's got the wrong show. I'm not sure how, since the judges seem to getting paid for every time they mention the show's name this week. [Incidentally, I love that when Phil is talking to Torvill and Dean, he holds his mike out to them even though they have their own mikes and he's nowhere near close enough to pick up their voices. Hee. - Georgi]

Final shot at the leaderboard: Chris and Frankie and Suzanne and Matt at the top, and Steve and Susie and Aggie and Sergey at the bottom, but Phil reminds us that should we wish to, we can indeed turn it upside down. I do not wish to, and shall not be voting. Look elsewhere for your monies, ITV! Video recap. We were all there, we know what happened, so I shall rest my typing fingers at this stage.

The show's running over, so Phil and Holly deliver their final pieces to camera at about twice the normal speed. Samantha's back for the final line-up, and smiling, so she's not dead of a hamstring-related injury or anything. Holly reminds us to return at ten to nine for more Westlife, and if there were anything less likely to get me to tune in, I can't think what it is. But I have a duty to recap, and recap I shall, so see you all then!

Results show

Welcome back, the lines are! I still don't understand why they can't make time for a quick recap of the numbers before that.

Holly lies that they have a real treat for us, because what comes next is actually Westlife [that's "the AMAZING WESTLIFE!!!" - Georgi], singing their new single 'Us Against The World'. A truly professional writer never goes for the obvious joke, so I shall let that pass without comment. If you have ever heard a Westlife song in your life...well, I'm very sorry for you, but what I was actually going to say is, you've heard this one. Nothing new to see here, folks. And this time I'm watching in real-time so I can't even skip it. Modern technology, you have failed me! Oh look, here come the professional skaters! It's nice to watch them, actually, [when you get the chance - stupid director, who wants to see Westlife singing? - Georgi] because that's one advantage this show has over Strictly Come Dancing: the excitement generated by seeing the pros dance together is greater, because they're just so much slicker than when they're dancing with the celebrities. (No big slam on the Strictly pros, obviously, they just aren't quite so hampered by dancing with big clumping heffalumps. Most of the time.)

Oh thank God, that song's over. I think that was terrible even by Westlife's standards. Phil plugs the Make Me a Star spinoff, otherwise known as Holly Willoughby Tries To Do Something To Justify Her Salary. Recap of earlier: Gareth and Maria pulled off the lifts they were worried about, and Maria does a good job of hiding the fact that she hates Gareth. Linda feels bad for messing her feet up, but Daniel is characteristically chirpy about it. Samantha's in a lot of pain [I wanted her to say, "I'm on a lot of drugs right now..." - Georgi] and dull-aching after her hamstring injury, not entirely dissimilar to how I feel after having sat through Westlife. Chris thought his 5.0 was a mistake, like last week. Awww. [He obviously has as much faith in Nicky's marking abilities as we do. - Georgi] Aggie thinks she's done so much better and could've done much better, but Sergey is looking cheerful as ever. I quite love Sergey, but not in a sex way. Steve railing against Jason, much as everyone does. Greg focusing on the fact that there was indeed a compliment buried somewhere in Jason's usual cul-de-sac of Mean Girl. Fred and Zaraah being adorable together backstage. I'm glad they've given Fred someone he stands a ghost of a chance with, although obviously the results aren't in yet so let's not tempt fate. Tim promising to do more lifts if he's back next week. Suzanne apologising to Matt in a weird voice for tripping, Matt trying to look like he doesn't mind even though he obviously does, even if only a little bit.

Holly's back with the judges. Ruthie thinks Chris stood out tonight. Holly says it's been a night of Broadway vs. Skating, which: what? Welcome to County Nonsensical, population: one H. Willoughby. Karen tries not to look too nonplussed, but says that everyone's doing really well considering it's only week three. Format change this week: none of the results are getting announced until after the break. Controversial!

Back from the break, and Philip is SHOUTING AGAIN. I don't like Shouty Phil, but that's the hazard of hosting an ITV reality show, I s'pose. The couples who are safe, are: Greg and Kristina (who both look very surprised), Gareth and Maria (and the creature living on Gareth's head tries to atta- oh, wait, it's just his hair), Suzanne and Matt (who do a hoedown off the ice), Zaraah and Fred (yay!), Aggie and Sergey (oh Scotland, when will you learn?), Chris and Frankie (who looked like they were getting worried by their names not having been read out yet), Tim and Victoria (HUGE sigh of relief), and... Linda and Daniel. What a rubbish attempt at suspense- like the Emmerdale contestant is going to get kicked off this early. So Samantha and Pavel and Steve and Susie are in the skateoff again. Oh no, Samantha's going to have to do the splits again! [And Phil is going to have to decide for good how he's going to pronounce "Pavel". - Georgi]

Chris and Jayne advise them to give it everything - Steve has to punch harder, and Samantha has to really live the dance this time. Samantha and Pavel are skating first in the skateoff, Samantha gives it a good go, but it's perhaps a little lacking in energy, and for a second it looks like the lift may be in trouble, but they get it back together. There are no splits this time, by the way. Samantha admits as much when she steps up to meet Phil, and says apologetically that she did her best, but she's strapped up at the moment. Steve and Susie return to repeat their routine, and his punches are just as girly second time around. Hmm. Given the obvious fact that Aggie wasn't going to end up in the real bottom two for a few weeks yet, I kind of think this was a fairly fair bottom two, since neither routine was that great, and neither of them really stepped it up considering their place in the competition was at stake. Chris lies that Steve's punches were better that time, and Steve says he couldn't have given it more, which sounds like an invitation to be sent home, if you ask me.

They go back onto the ice. Karen says it's tough, but one person fought for everything: Steve. Nicky thinks there was more courage, character and energy in Steve's, so he saves Steve. Jason says that the skateoff is about fighting to stay in the competition, so he saves Steve. Ruthie says that Steve gave it all guns firing, not that it matters, and Robin would've saved Steve as well. [For fuck's sake. Sorry, Steve may have put a bit more energy into his routine, but it was still terrible! He was out of time on practically every movement. He crouched down to swing Susie under his legs about two seconds before she was ready to do it. If Steve had done his routine like that the first time round, he would still have got worse marks than Samantha. Shame on you, Ice Panel. - Georgi] [See your point, but I like Steve Backley, who looked like he was bovvered, and I don't like Mumba, who IS INJURED, and I'm worried for Pavel's safety, so - good call. - Carrie] Samantha doesn't seem too upset, and congratulates him as soon as Jason announces his vote. Samantha says she really enjoyed herself, and some flowers which match her outfit, and we see her highlights. She really has come on since her early days, since she no longer screams when she's being spun around. Samantha says she would do it all again in a heartbeat if she could, which coincidentally is almost as long as she lasted on the show anyway. Despite the bumps and bruises, Samantha says she plans to continue skating for fun. The goodbyes feel a bit forced and awkward, which makes me suspect that no one is especially sad she's going home, including Samantha herself. They skate off for her lap of honour [which: is it, strictly speaking, a lap of honour when you've just lost? - Georgi], and Pavel's testicles breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Next week is apparently 'A Night on Broadway' with the contestants all skating to songs from Broadway musicals [YAYZ! - Georgi], so expect Holly to make further impenetrable comments about ice vs musicals or whatever it is that goes on inside her pretty little head. See you then!

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Dancing on Ice: Make Holly a Star

Okay, so Strictly Come Dancing has It Takes Two, but that's not schedule-filling on Saturday night (when Dancing on Ice rightfully ought to be on). So what's this Dancing on Ice: Make Me a Star all about? Let's take a look.

Holly seems to be in charge - no sign of Phil. Eek. She's wearing a high-waisted black skirt which suits her a lot better than the dress she was wearing last Sunday. Not so keen on the beige blouse though. How will she cope with having her very own show? Let's face it, our Holly is no Claudia Winkleman.

Dancing on Ice Champion of Champions Kyran Bracken is on first, with his partner Nina Ulanova. In case you didn't know, he's now ice-skating professionally with Holiday on Ice - skating has Changed His Life! I was a big fan of Kyran when he was on the show, but I'm not sure I'll be able to forgive him for skating to My Heart Will Go On. He's incredibly good, though, considering he used to be a rugby player. Ooh, fireworks! Kyran has his serious face on. They do an amazing upside-down lift towards the end of the routine - I'd like to see any of the celebs try that one. Okay, Kyran, I forgive you for the Celine Dion because it was quite a sweet routine. [Also, to be fair, it wasn't Celine Dion singing. - Carrie]

Holly has a new studio. Michael Underwood has broken his ankle and is out of the competition - of which more later. Holly does a lot of autocue-reading. Now we're treated to a recap of last week's show, with a voiceover being overdramatic about everything that happened. Nicky couldn't work the scoring properly and Jason bitched about everyone. Oh, what a surprise, there's Suzanne's accident again! And a close-up of the hole in her head, just in case you missed it on Sunday. Tim and Natalie were in the skate-off. Ruthie was shocked because the worst skaters weren't in the skate-off. Has she ever watched reality TV? Deal with it, Ruthie. Head Judge Robin Cousins says it should have been Aggie and Greg. Of course, Tim got through and Natalie went back to... wherever she came from.

Holly is very excited about the new audience competition - "a search for Britain's most exciting ice-skating talent". The VT tells us they're looking for "the UK's most entertaining ice act". So not so much a skater as a variety show on ice. Britain's Got Talent on Ice? Now ITV seem to be ripping off their own shows. So, it's not really as exciting as it sounded last week. Holly is joined by Jayne and Chris to big it up. Chris claims to be "really excited". Holly asks if they're looking for a new Torvill and Dean or Robin Cousins? Jayne: "Absolutely not!" Because there can be only one. How dare you even suggest it, Willoughby? Apparently they're looking for "all ages, all shapes and sizes, something that will entertain the public and us". Holly: "So not just skating - people doing crazy things on ice?" Chris: "Yes." So hopefully we might get some funny tapes of the dud auditionees, who will probably be more entertaining than the eventual winner - who will perform in the final of Dancing on Ice 2009. Chris: "It's a huge honour." What, like meeting the Queen or something? Well, I suppose Jason will be there - ho ho.

After the break - Westlife prepare for ice début. The judges - UNCENSORED. (Apparently Jason can get EVEN RUDER.) And MICHAEL is INJURED! And CRYING. Will they show his ankle actually breaking? Surely that's what the people want...


Westlife are on Holly's sofa, "poised to make their début on ice". They won't be skating or anything though, will they? No, in fact Torvill and Dean will be skating around them "like cones", which they've been rehearsing this afternoon. Because it's very difficult to concentrate on singing when you are being skated round, presumably. They're doing two songs - as though one isn't more than enough. Chris seems to be touching them a lot in rehearsals. Don't they have bodyguards to deal with people like that? Holly suggests that he could be a new member of Westlife and one of them (don't ask me!) calls him "a young Barry Manilow". At least he said "young", Chris.

It seems the judges have some secret opinions about what will happen this week. To that end, their VT is filmed in a shadowy room, and they're speaking in hushed tones so the celebrities don't hear them. [They seem to be having a secret dinner party, to which Karen and Nicky are not invited. - Carrie] Head Judge Robin thinks Gareth will be interesting this week because he's skating to Green Day, which could be difficult music to pull off. He adds that he'll be excited to see Steve Backley this week. Ruthie interjects: "I'm excited to see Mr Backley every week." A woman after Carrie's own heart, I think. [Heh. I love Ruthie. - Carrie] Jason says he's looking forward to seeing what Linda can do. Ruthie says that Suzanne's skating is good, but "It's like the lights are on and nobody's home". I think she's being harsh. [Or perhaps she saw Suzanne towards the end of her run in The Rocky Horror Show and has noted her tendency to go through the motions. - Carrie] Tim will be "under pressure" this week. Jason thinks he's "letting his masculinity get in way. There's going to be Lycra and sequins - just enjoy it." Easy for you to say, macho man. Samantha really needs to start performing this week, and Chris needs to connect with his partner. Kindly Head Judge Robin says that despite the bad skating, he can't fault Aggie's commitment and enthusiasm. He's sounding disturbingly like Karen - who, incidentally, seems to have been too busy to appear in this VT. Jason gets in a final poke at Greg, who was "dreadful - not 007, 911".

Finally, the inside story on Michael Underwood's accident. He and Mel were having the usual laughs in training - and the usual falling over. But Michael was feeling upbeat: "This week is going to be a clean routine. That's a Michael and Mel part-guarantee." We don't see the fall, just Samantha watching from the sidelines, but we're told that he went to do a back cross - quite a standard step - but his toepick caught in the ice and he went over it. All we see is Michael laid out on the ice. What is the point in watching an ice-skating show if you don't see the injuries as they happen?! Michael is stretchered to hospital, saying, "It would be so me to go out like this, not even voted out." But an X-ray reveals the worst - his ankle's broken. Michael can't believe it. He's crying - but we'll let him off, since he just broke his ankle. Give the man some bloody privacy for a minute! Or, y'know, not. Michael: "So typical. So stupid. Mel will be so disappointed... I've never broken anything in my life. I can't believe I'm out of the competition."

Michael joins Holly in the studio. Although we've just seen it, Holly asks him what happened. Michael says it was a normal training day, which sounds a bit like the beginning of a horror-movie trailer. Jayne and Chris have made the routines harder this week, though, and he was "giving it 120%". Even Karen had noticed that he was working hard, and said she was proud of him. He wasn't trying to do a triple axel or anything, just trying to stop. On the plus side, Michael says, "It's not a head injury or anything", but Holly sensibly still thinks a broken ankle is pretty bad. "There was a lot of pain but I didn't hear a big snap," Michael tells Holly, who looks incredibly squeamish. He didn't realise how bad it was because the swelling wasn't that bad at first, but the X-ray lady "looked at me and shook her head". Holly: "How's Mel?" Well, she doesn't have any broken bones, so she's probably doing alright by comparison. Of course, she's upset for Michael, though. He does seem genuinely upset to have gone out like that, bless him, but at least he hasn't been in the competition long enough to become annoying.

I have to say - Willoughby has conducted herself a lot better than I was expecting. I think her problem on DoI is having to stand around looking pretty while Phil talks all the time - it's probably difficult not to look vacuous. [I think maybe Willoughby is just too pretty for her own good. - Carrie] Getting her own show is probably a good career move.

On tomorrow's show, a mysterious new arrival will be replacing Michael - skating with Fred, we hear, despite Carrie's one-woman campaign to bring back Andrei. Tim: "This could mean a whole new competition." I'm not even going to start on what a meaningless comment that is. Plus, of course, Torvill and Dean will be skating with Westlife. Steve will be here with in-depth analysis - don't miss it!

Monday, 21 January 2008

Spiralling out of control

Week 2 - Sunday 20th January

Last week - Dancing on Ice EXPLODED back on to our screens! Cue vast amounts of gratuitous pyrotechnics. Yes, somebody got a big budget increase for Christmas. This week - watch the celebs skate their feet off! Or, in the case of Suzanne Shaw, possibly their heads. There's nothing like the potential of a seriously injured celebrity to boost your audience figures. This is Dancing on Ice - live!

The producers have chosen an interesting presenting combo - best and worst sort of thing. I'll leave you to work out which is which. Holly Willoughby seems to have inherited Kate Thornton's dresser, so on the plus side, that's one less person on the dole. On the other hand, Holly has to wear these outfits. I almost feel sorry for her. But not quite. [This week, Holly is wearing a dark green Fifties-style dress that is at least two inches too long for her. She looks like a little girl playing dress-up. - Carrie][Thankfully no blue eyeshadow though. Yet. - Georgi] Anyway, Phil whets our collective appetite by telling us it's been "a painful week" - yayz, celebrities in pain! Holly reminds us that "there were tears" last week when Sarah Greene was voted off. Phil: "Yes, I shouldn't get so emotional." Sniggle.

But wait, here are Skating Legends Torvill and Dean! [Jayne and Chris! - Carrie] They're skating to "Feeling Good", and actually their routine is pretty awesome. I mean, they sell this whole show on the basis that nobody really cares about watching celebs learn to skate, as long as we get to see Jayne and Chris back on the ice once more - and to be honest, I'm always a bit disappointed since they have neither the size of rink nor the athleticism they had in 1984. Every week they seem a little bit more out of breath. [Damn that ageing process. - Carrie] But I digress - this week's routine was good.

At this stage in the competition, there are still so many contestants it's hard to keep track of them (especially when you have no idea who the fuck they are), so here's the rundown: Linda and Daniel; Chris and Frankie; Natalie and Andrei; Greg and Kristina; Aggie and Sergey; Tim and Victoria; Suzanne and Matt; Steve and Susie; Samantha and Paul; Gareth and Maria; Michael and Melanie. I haven't picked a favourite yet, though Greg and Kristina are in the front-running, I reckon.

This week, the couples have to include a required element in their routine - the lunge into spiral, which is kind of self-explanatory as long as you know that a spiral is basically skating with one leg out behind you. [That confused me in a few routines, I must say. I kept shouting "You're doing it wrong! You're supposed to go in a circle!" Stupid inappropriately-named skating manoeuvres... - Steve] I must say, it seems quite difficult for the second week; then again, the celebs' basic skating skills also seem better this year. Jayne: they have had to learn a new routine in six days. Chris: six days, blah blah blah. This is going to get tedious very soon.

Lest we forget, the Ice Panel are also back. Holly chats to them a bit. Not sure why. She reckons Jason's feet are "almost as quick as his tongue" - not sure how she'd know. [HAHAHA! - Carrie]

This week, we actually have time for a routine before going to a break, and Linda and Daniel are up first. Last week Ruthie accused Linda of being carried around the ice, so hopefully this week she's been working on her skating. We are big fans of Daniel's glasses that he wears in training, but I think if I was falling over all day (as they all seem to in training), I'd put in my contact lenses. Apparently Linda is finding it "hard to remember what comes next". That could be a problem. Linda has been beating Daniel up; "His bum's the only thing I haven't hurt yet - his lip, his privates, his knee... I love Daniel, and the last thing I want to do is slice his face open with my blade," Linda confesses. Awww, bless.

On the ice, Linda doesn't really look like she knows what she's doing half the time, but their routine has quite a lot of content. Daniel looks like he's holding her up on the spiral though. With a bit more confidence, they could go a long way. Last week, they scored 16.5. This week, the judges' scores are: Karen - 3.5; Nicky - 6.0 (and the nation collectively shouts "WTF?!?"); Jason - 3.0, Ruthie - 3.0, Robin - 3.5, for a total of 19. Shurely shome mishtake? Phil looks shocked, and points out that Nicky is shaking his head. "I pressed 3.5!" he protests. Sure you did, Nicky. Can we give him paddles next week, or would he still get that wrong? "I'm keeping it!" screeches Linda. But since it was a "technical" "hitch", Nicky is allowed to change his score to 3.5, giving Linda and Daniel a grand total of... 16.5, exactly the same as last week. Daniel says he's proud of Linda - drink! Nicky says he loved the start, their chemistry and their danceability [dance ability? - Carrie][I did ponder that for a while, but I think he meant danceability, however unlikely it may sound- Georgi]. Jason, for a change, agrees with Nicky - he loves to watch their partnership and thinks they have sincerity in interpretation, but Linda needs to take more care into and out of the lifts. Holly pauses to allow for booing of Jason's constructive criticism, but strangely none is forthcoming.


Next up are Chris and Frankie. They were top with the Ice Panel last week, but were criticised for their lack of connection. In his VT, Chris is whinging about having to work Tuesday to Friday, up to 14 hours a day, and not having time to train. Look, I don't have time for this. If you don't have time for the training, don't sign up for the fucking show, alright? [I think I can speak for the sizeable volume of people who wouldn't especially miss him if he disappeared out of Hollyoaks Village for a few weeks. - Steve] Frankie says Chris is exhausted because he's not used to this level of activity, which leads to him being all sulky in training. "I can't do it!" He may have taken whining lessons from Lee Otway. ["I want Shaaaaane!" - Carrie] Get on with it.

They're skating to "Hey There Delilah" by the Plain White T's. The spins and lifts are good, and their spiral is side-by-side, which looks more difficult than the variety where your partner is basically holding your arms up in front to make sure you don't fall on your face. Although we would enjoy that. Gubba says Frankie is "fresher than a spring daffodil", which I think is his way of saying her dress is yellow. The scores are: Karen - 4.5; Nicky - 4.5; Jason - 3.0 (boo!); Ruthie - 3.5; Robin - 4.5, for a total of 20. Now they've left the ice, I notice Chris has a hairy chest on show. Clearly he learnt from Stefan Booth in series 1. More blah about having to learn the routine as well as his lines from Hollyoaks. [Hang on. They have scripts for Hollyoaks? - Carrie] [Yes, but they're written in crayon and usually covered in drool. - Steve] It's not as though he's going to get them mixed up. Ruthie tells Chris that their partnering was better, but she wants to see "more going on in your face". He is an actor, after all. Head Judge Robin Cousins says something about their required element that I didn't really understand, but I think it was to the effect that it was difficult but he pulled it off. Chris didn't know what the fancy name for it was: "I just stick my leg out and turn to the side".


Natalie and Andrei are next up. We still have no idea who she is, but we like our Andrei. [I love me some Andrei, as Lorrell almost says in Dreamgirls. - Carrie] Chris says that last week Natalie was "like a deer in the headlights", and Andrei helpfully told her to breathe. Andrei is "getting frustrated" in training because Natalie is having trouble getting in position for the lift. Although he looks as docile as ever, to be honest. Surely it's not the producers trying to shoehorn in some drama? [Bless Andrei. I can't imagine him ever losing his temper. He didn't even get cross with weepy Clare Buckfield. The man is a saint. - Carrie][Andrei doesn't strike me as the kind of man who could be cross with a weeping woman. - Georgi]

They're skating to Leona's "Bleeding Love". I wouldn't choose a song involving anything to do with blood - it would be too ironic were someone to get injured. Natalie gets in the required lunge and spiral early in the routine, which makes me suspect that Torvill and Dean weren't sure she would make it to the end. Gubba says something about "Peter Pan meets Nemo", which: WTF? And then proceeds to invent many aquatically named moves: the seahorse, the prawn wrap, the lighthouse. Hmmm. The judges' scores are in: Karen - 3.5; Nicky - 2.5; Jason - 2.5; Ruthie - 2.5; Robin - 3.0, for a total of 14. Which is not great. Natalie admits that the overhead lift was hard, and "I thought my bottom was going to slip off his hand!" Surely if you were going to trust anybody to lift you, it would be Andrei? Of course, she continues, "But it was okay because Andrei's so strong." Hee! Jason says he was "disappointed at this point in the competition" - what, week 2? "If not for Andrei's strength, you wouldn't have got up there" - well, duh. Karen retaliates that Natalie did "a lot of different skating and she does it solo". Plus, of course, in Karen's book she gets points just for turning up. I might give her points for having sparkles in her hair.

We have a pointless look at the leaderboard after three couples have skated - Chris and Frankie are top, Natalie and Andrei are bottom, with Linda and Daniel sandwiched in between. Time for a break, but first another preview of Suzanne's horrible fall. Enough with the injury porn!


Hooray for Greg and Kristina - probably the cutest couple in the competition. I really want them to get better so they don't get voted out. When I say "them", obviously I mean Greg, who according to Kristina needs to "get some rhythm in his body". Jason compared him to Herman Munster last week, and this week's routine has even more dancing. Chris says Greg "has to get his dancing shoes on". He's probably better off with skates, I reckon. Ho ho. Greg is feeling discouraged because he "didn't really create a performance in week 1". He can certainly talk the talk. Anyway, off he goes to dance classes, along with his wife ("Come on, John Travolta!") and baby. Awww. Is it just me, or does his wife seem a bit pissed off with Jason?

Greg and Kristina are skating to "Dance the Night Away", opening with a step sequence in which Greg demonstrates that he needs a lot more dance classes. Sorry Greg, but you have no rhythm. He makes up for it with enthusiasm though - and at least he can skate. "Is he more Fred Astaire or Fred Flintstone?" ponders Gubba. The judges' scores are predictably low: Karen - 3.0; Nicky - 2.5; Jason - 1.5 (BOOOOO!!!); Ruthie - 2.0; Robin - 2.5, for a total of 11.5. Greg says he was so nervous, he couldn't relax and enjoy it. Apparently dancing is one of his worst fears. Why did he sign up for Dancing on Ice then? (The clue's in the name.) [He says, "I thought it was Skating on Ice!" Heh. - Carrie] Kristina calls him a "big sweetheart": "He's trying so hard!" They are so adorable. Holly reminds us why she isn't allowed to do any of the important bits of script, by accusing Jason of giving them his lowest mark so far; "No, I gave a 1.0 to Aggie," he responds. For God's sake, Willoughby, it's only week 2! Try to keep up. Anyway, Jason says Greg showed no improvement and had a constipated face [look who's talking - Steve], plus it was so dull his mind was wandering. If he can't concentrate on a two-minute routine, I'm thinking they ought to get a judge who can. Nurturing Head Judge Robin Cousins says he has to agree with Jason from a performance point of view, but the skating was better - Greg just needs to take control. Rrrrr!

Speaking of Aggie, she and Sergey are up next. Aggie still seems to spend most of her time in training falling over. I really think she ought to be voted off before she gets hospitalised. It'd be for her own good. To prove my point, she gets a pain in her back ribs during the studio rehearsal. Aggie is annoyed because she "wants to do something decent and I'm nowhere near".

In the audience, someone has a "Scotland OAPs" banner - fuck right off. I mean it. I'm far too busy trying to figure out why Aggie is wearing a flamingo - I don't have time for your misplaced nationalism. They're skating to "I'm a Woman", presumably because someone thought we might not have noticed that Sergey is YOUNG and Aggie is OLD. Aggie is being carried around a lot, and her limb extensions aren't very good. Gubba calls Sergey her "Russian toyboy, young enough to be her son". Grandson, you mean. The scores are in: Karen - 2.5; Nicky - 2.0; Jason - 1.5; Ruthie - 2.0; Robin - 2.0, for a total of 10. Last week they got 10.5, which suggests they may have actually got worse over the course of the week. Phil says they are "meagre scores for the effort involved". They're not marks for effort! Aggie says she's "bandaged all over and in such pain, but that's no excuse". Why mention it, then? She says they have a Scottish word which means "dogged determination". Chris says they have "a mountain to climb". They have those in Scotland too. Karen says she was "glad when the routine was over" - me too, but for different reasons - "and you were still in one piece. Keep working hard and it will pay off." Yeah, that seems a bit over-optimistic to me, but what do I know? Jason admits Aggie was "less catatonic" this week [splitting hairs, but can you be "less catatonic"? Surely you're either catatonic or you're not. - Steve], but he's "going to be straight (as if!) with you - you're not very good. I don't think you're going to last long." Well, that'll guarantee the whole of Scotland voting for her.

After the break - Suzanne's "dramatic accident"!!!!!!!!!!11111!!!!11! [ZOMG, Suzanne had an accident? WHY HAS NOBODY INFORMED ME OF THIS? - Carrie]


No, not yet. First - look! Who should it be in the audience but Duncan from Blue? Phil has a quick chat. Duncan from Blue says it's nice to be sitting and watching it this year. Who will he be supporting? His old partner Maria and her new boy Gareth, of course. From his perspective, it must be a good thing that Dancing on Ice has moved to Sunday nights, because otherwise he would be too busy lighting up the stage in London's Trendy West End.

No, still not yet. Tim and Victoria are first. They had no chemistry last week, which Tim says is because he was concentrating on the routine. This week they have three jumps in the routine - risky. Tim and Chris seem to be cavorting around on the ice. Ewww.

They're skating to "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic", and I would deduct a few points for having anything to do with Sting, even before he started releasing albums of lute music. Tim doesn't look too stable, especially on the counterbalance, but they do a nice step sequence. Gubba says they "really did catch the mood of the music", but I feel that would have required several props. I'm thinking top hats and white rabbits. The judges' scores are: Karen - 3.5; Nicky - 3.5; Jason - 2.5; Ruthie - 3.0; Robin - 3.5, for a total of 16. Tim admits that he made a mistake in the intro, but Victoria got him through it. Jayne wibbles about how many different steps they did. Tim says he wasn't looking at Victoria much because he was too busy praying. Head Judge Robin Cousins says Tim was "a completely different person", but he needs to focus rather than looking around because "the toe picks will come up and bite you in the bum". I'm not sure whether that is logistically possible, but I'd like to see it. Ruthie says he needs "more uplift". Surely he's had enough plastic surgery already?

Now is the moment we've all been waiting for, and the VT is introduced by Phil: "They're one of the bookies' favourites - or is that just Hear'Say?" Ha ha. That's Suzanne and Matt, in case you didn't realise. Suzanne says the big lifts they did last week "really hurt!" In training, Chris philosophises about skating: "With ice, you've got to attack it but at the same time you have to respect it". Whatevs. Finally, we get to see that horrible fall in rehearsals. Then, in case it wasn't bad enough, we get to watch it again in slow motion. Matt had to dive over Suzanne and in the process caught the back of her head with his blade. Ouch! Oh yeah, and let's get in a close-up of the injury for good measure.

This evening, Suzanne appears to have recovered somewhat, although we are forced to ask ourselves the questions: is that fake hair? And, if so, is it to cover up the huge hole in her head? They're skating to "When You're Gone". This is definitely the closest thing to dancing we've seen this evening. I think Gubba just called a move "the charming horse". You couldn't make it up! Unless he is. The scores are in: Karen - 4.5; Nicky - 4.5; Jason - 3.5; Ruthie - 3.5; Robin - 4.5, for a total of 20.5. Phil asks Suzanne if it was unnerving to see the VT of her fall just before performing. "I didn't actually watch it (you madman)!" she replies. Well, you wouldn't, would you? [I didn't, and I don't even know Suzanne. I can't imagine why anyone would think she'd want to watch her own head getting sliced open. - Carrie] Matt says ice skating is "one of the most dangerous sports", with the "apparatus - the ice and the blades". The jury is out over whether ice can validly be called apparatus. Chris sneaks in a jibe about how he's "got holes in my head - from Jayne!" Yes, but I'll bet she still has the psychological scarring. Nicky says he was excited by Suzanne's grace - but fortunately not excited enough to write her a poem. Holly says they're like "a skating Barbie and Ken", which may be one of the most insightful comments ever to escape her lips. [Suzanne and Matt skating dolls would be ace. I'd buy it. - Carrie][Ooh, I want an Andrei doll. And maybe Pavel to keep him company. - Georgi] Jason says it was graceful, but Suzanne needs to "soften the hard look" on her face. Ruthie says she wants to see more interpretation of the music. [It really bugs me when Ruthie goes on about how she couldn't tell what the song was if she hadn't been listening. THAT'S HOW MUSIC WORKS, you daft cow. No matter how good Suzanne might've been - and I did think she was great this week - I doubt anyone could've told what she was dancing to if they'd had their set on mute. - Steve]

It's time for a slightly less pointless look at the leaderboard. Suzanne and Matt have claimed the top spot, and it's no surprise to see Aggie and Sergey languishing at the bottom.


Steve and Susie are next to skate. Steve is 6'7" in his skates. Cue loads of boring talk about how difficult it is when you're so tall. I don't remember David Seaman whinging this much. [But! It is DIFFICULT for TALL PEOPLE to DANCE. Has Penny Lancaster taught you NOTHING? - Carrie] Steve has been training so much he hasn't had time to see his family, so he takes them ice skating. "Is Dad going to win or lose?" "Lose!" chorus his delightful children.

They're skating to "Stand By Me", and the routine is full of content but not a lot of grace, and Susie looks like she's holding Steve up on the lunge into spiral. Gubba: "When he falls, it's like slow motion - it's ages before he hits the ice." Gubba - not that good when it comes to physics. The judges' scores are: Karen - 3.0; Nicky - 3.0; Jason - 2.0; Ruthie - 3.0; Robin - 4.0, for a total of 15. Steve thinks it was "brave of Susie to get upside-down on my skates with L-plates". Jayne wibbles about how hard they've been training. Holly thanks Head Judge Robin Cousins for awarding them a 4.0. Robin says it's "quality over quantity", and that it's "not fast-flowing, but I'll take the gentle giant". Jason criticised them for being "slow into everything, especially the lifts", which are "supposed to impress us". Oooh, get you. He concludes that it was "safe and dull". Nicky says that Steve needs to get "down in the ankles and down in the knees", but "the potential's there".

Next up, it's Samantha and Pavel, who survived the skate-off last week. Samantha seems completely mad, but I'm finding her irritating rather than endearing. This week, though, she's "in competition mode" and "working my ass off". Chris psychologises her: "Samantha's still nervous on the ice. She has to let go of her fear." In training, Samantha's having problems with two back-to-back spinning lifts, and insists, "I need to come to a complete standstill." What makes her think she can dictate the choreography? Pavel is not impressed. [I love Pavel. He is very sanguine. I am impressed by the Eastern European boys' patience with their loopy and/or shit celeb partners. - Carrie]

For some reason, they're wearing flesh-coloured outfits with sparkly bits on. Pavel's nipples are visible. Samantha's aren't. I don't seem to have made any notes on their actual routine - I may have been distracted - but I think it was probably average. [You were too busy asking silly questions about the colour of their costumes! - Carrie][Look, she may be black, but the flesh-coloured costume was still too dark for her skin! - Georgi] The scores are in: Karen - 3.5; Nicky - 3.5; Jason - 2.0; Ruthie - 3.5; Robin - 3.5, for a total of 16. Karen thinks the experience of being in the skate-off last week made them work hard, and Samantha has "beautiful lines", but she needs to trust Pavel more. Jason says that her leg lines aren't projecting out enough. Phil asks, "Will it be Goodbye Sam?", which Carrie recognised as a reference to an old Cliff Richard song - I'm obviously too young to remember it. [Or! I am just a fountain of knowledge about classic pop. - Carrie] [You just keep telling yourself that, Grandma. - Steve][The idea that Cliff Richard ever released a song about ditching the boys for the girls has been amusing me ever since, though. - Georgi]

Gareth and Maria are joking around in training - and even Chris thought it was fun. Jayne rather demurely says Gareth's skating is "very entertaining". Gareth: "What does that mean?" Jayne: "It's good!", with thumbs up for emphasis, or possibly because she's still not sure he understands.

As the lights go down and Gareth and Maria wait for their music to start, some loudmouth in the audience yells, "Come on, Maria!" It sounds suspiciously like Duncan from Blue. They're skating to "Hard to Handle", and at the beginning Gareth is singing along, Kenny Logan-style - presumably not so that he knows where the beat is, though. Maria is sporting a rather daring red jumpsuit, and Gareth is sporting his Acting face. There's a lot of energy and it's a lot of fun, definitely the best performance level of the night. I want not to like Gareth Gates, but this is good stuff. The scores are: Karen- 4.0; Nicky - 4.0; Jason - 3.0; Ruthie - 4.0; Robin - 4.5, for a total of 19.5. Gareth says he's changed his mindset this week, and no longer wants to be the next Jayne and Chris. Chris commends their speed over the ice, and thinks Gareth brought out his character in this routine. Holly says she's just fallen in love with Gareth Gates. *gag* Head Judge Robin Cousins says Gareth is "transformed", it was a real team effort, his timing was "on the money" - overall, it was a great performance.


Phil: "We've seen ten fantastic performances..." Us: "Well, two really."

Michael and Melanie are the final couple to skate. Jayne says that Michael needs to "show his sensitive side", and Michael admits that he needs to take it more seriously because this week they'll be attempting a "high-risk manoeuvre" - the death spiral. Michael: "Don't give me the death spiral! Give me the quite-easy-to-do spiral!" I have a feeling that Michael will be DoI's Dominic Littlewood - everyone will like his cheeky chappie persona for a couple of weeks, at which point it will become incredibly annoying, so let's hope he won't have to rely on it to keep him in the competition.

They're skating to "Wonderful Tonight", and unfortunately there's a wardrobe malfunction right at the start of their routine, as one of Melanie's blades catches in Michael's braces, which are left dangling over his shoulder for the rest of it. That must be distracting, and he does a good job of carrying on, although in the first lift, he barely manages to lift Melanie off the ice. Gubba calls it a "belt and braces performance", ha ha. The scores are: Karen - 3.5; Nicky - 3.5; Jason - 3.0; Ruthie - 3.0; Robin - 3.5, for a total of 16.5. Michael makes a Janet Jackson reference, "At least I kept my chest in!" Mel says it was fine, because he kept going and they finished with the music. Chris observes that Michael is "obviously used to unhooking himself" like that, and I'm not really sure what he's trying to imply. Nicky loved the "entertainment value", and I'm not sure whether he means their skating or the costume problems. Jason says that he did well to recover, but says it "looked like you were trying to restrain a rather large dog on a lead!" Will Jason never learn not to compare ladies with dogs? It seems not. Mel looks outraged.

At last, it's all over, and there's just time for a final look at the leaderboard and a recap of all the performances. Phil keeps reminding us that we can "turn the leaderboard upside-down" - but frankly, with Aggie at the bottom, I don't know why you'd want to. They'll be back in an hour's time for the results.

Results show

If there's one thing I like, it's the countdown to the phone lines closing. It's so '80s kids TV. [It's so weird that they close the lines right at the start of the show, though. You'd think they'd find time to give out the numbers and talk us into a last-minute vote first. - Steve]

Now, while they "count" "the" "votes", another recap. Nicky got his score wrong, but Linda and Daniel laugh about it backstage. Greg says he'll be practising his dancing at home in front of the mirror. Sergey says Aggie is his hero. Tim's disappointed because he performed better in rehearsals - Victoria agrees. Suzanne is chuffed, because she's "not a pro skater". You don't say. That's only the ENTIRE POINT OF THE PROGRAMME. Steve compares himself to a giraffe. Samantha thought she could have skated better, but is hoping to be saved. Gareth had fun, and is also chuffed with his scores. Michael seems determined to retain his cheeky chappie label. [Celebrities are dull, aren't they? - Carrie]

At last, ITV's masterplan in scheduling DoI on Sunday evenings becomes clear - next Saturday at 8.30, tune in for Dancing on Ice: Make Me a Star - your very own chance to skate on the show! I'm excited and perturbed in equal measures. Hopefully we'll also get to see more show performances from the professional skaters. Next week, we'll see the return of last year's winner, Kyran Bracken. [If only the Beeb would copy this idea for Strictly. - Carrie]

After that bit of news, it's time for *touches earpiece* the results. So, in no particular order, the couples who are through are: Greg and Kristina, who look surprised and thrilled; Suzanne and Matt - no surprise there; Chris and Frankie; Aggie and Sergey - don't kiss him! It's practically paedophilia; Gareth and Maria; Linda and Daniel; Michael and Melanie; Samantha and Pavel - obviously she has some fans after all. To find out the final couple who are safe, we have to wait until after the break. As an aside, I'm amused by the fact that Holly isn't even trusted to read out the results with Phil. [Even Tess Daly is allowed to read out half of the results with Brucie. Although I guess Brucie is now the biggest liability, annoying though Tess can be. - Carrie][Phil is definitely ahead in the not-being-senile stakes. - Georgi]


So, the final couple to get through is... Steve and Susie! That leaves Natalie and Andrei and Tim and Victoria in the skate-off. Sit-on-the-fence Chris looks a bit surprised and says, "If it was up to me, I'd keep them all." That's not how you play. Jayne advises Tim to "stay in the ring" and not skate so close to the barriers, and advises Natalie to "enjoy it more". It's easy for her to say.

Natalie and Andrei skate first, and their routine is okay. Whilst taking his bow, Andrei looks resigned to his fate. [Poor Andrei. Poor me. Poor viewing public. Maybe he can skate with Tim next week; I don't really care about Victoria. - Carrie] Torvill and Dean think they skated much better this time, and jokes about Andrei's pancakes persist into a second week. Tim and Victoria skate again, and he seems to forget what he's doing a bit at the end. Carrie observes that, "Tim is a twat - and not even in a good way." Harsh but fair. He is better at skating than Natalie though, and I think that will probably see him through.

Me: "Do you think Karen will cry?" Carrie: "It's only week 2!" Karen is crying, but votes to save Natalie because Tim made mistakes. Nicky votes for Tim, who had "more skating and more content". Jason says he is voting for "performance, and someone entertaining" - Tim, in other words. [It was hilariously how he declaimed it like Brian Blessed, as though he was saying something of huge national importance. - Steve] Ruthie says she could see from their faces that one couple already felt they had lost, so she votes to save Tim. With three votes, Tim and Victoria have got through, but Head Judge Robin's (non-)casting vote goes to Natalie, for "performing better second time round".

They're treated to a quick VT of their best bits - mainly Natalie falling over a lot. We won't especially miss her - we still don't really know who she is - but we will miss Andrei and his pancakes. As Natalie says to him, "You've been the best bit!" Aww. Phil gets in a shameless plug for the fact that the losers will be appearing on This Morning on Monday.

The survivors have Just Six Days to learn another routine! Next week, Jayne and Chris will be skating to a live Westlife performance, but don't let that put you off - join us for all the latest bitching.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Getting our skates on

Hello, all, and welcome to Bitching on Ice - an analysis of ITV1's celebrity performing arts contest that will doubtless be affectionate and scathing in turns, where appropriate.

Phillip Schofield sounds very eager to be back on weekend television, and promises faster! higher! harder! skating action, under the watchful eyes of Torvill and Dean. Who's got what it takes to go ALL THE WAY? This is Dancing on Ice - 2008!

Cue titles - same Bolero-introduced music, but different footage, with Jayne and Chris looking like they have fireworks attached to their boots.

The camera switches to the rink, and Jayne and Chris appear from a chandelier, for reasons best known to themselves. [If they hadn't been touring the country mercilessly all year, I would have suspected that they had in fact been suspended in time since the end of the last series, and that was their time capsule defrosting. - Georgi] They are joined by the professionals and skate to Shirley Bassey's version of Get The Party Started. They really should have got Rhydian to sing it. There's a fire juggler. There are clowns. I really wish I hadn't commented on their lack of insane choreography in my preview for the Guardian.

It's Phil and Holly. Holly looks like she's morphing into Katherine Jenkins [or Morticia Addams? - Georgi]. This is Not A Good Thing. [Depends if it means she gets to shag Gethin Jones or not, really. - Steve] Jayne and Chris join the presenters, and there is much hugging and kissing. Torvill and Dean are very out of breath, bless them, and they wheel out their usual anodyne platitudes about how nice the celebrities are and how hard everyone works and so on. I am actually very impressed by how Christopher Dean has toned down his fearsomely competitive personality for his creative direction slot,and become a nice but dull middle-aged man. Does anyone else remember that documentary from about 15 years ago where the camera crew followed him and Jayne round during training, and he was an appalling bully and made her cry all the time? (I do! 'Don't cry at me, JAYNE, you're a dead weight!'-Joel) You wouldn't guess it was the same man.

Time to meet this year's contestants. If you don't know by now, here they are -

- former tennis player Greg Rusedski, skating with Kristina;
- Hear'Say and Darren Day baby-spawner Suzanne Shaw, skating with Matt;
- filthmonger Aggie McKenzie, skating with Sergey, who missed last series and looks about 12;
- ex-Blue Peter and Children Ward's Tim Vincent, skating with Victoria;
- Prince Harry's chum and purported sports journalist Natalie Pinkham, skating with Andrei, who is lovely;
- Olympian Steve Backley, who looks very awkward indeed, skating with Susie, who is Andrei's wife;
- Going Live presenter and star of Ghostwatch Sarah Greene, skating with Fred (Greeno and Fred - best combination ever.-Joel);
- reality TV whore Chris Fountain, skating with Frankie;
- Samantha Mumba, who is optimistically laying claim to the job title 'film star' [I loled. - Steve] (I maintain that she has starred in a film and therefore can legitimate call herself a filmstar if she wants.-Joel), skating with Pavel [who almost drops her ON HER HEAD OMGZ! - Georgi];
- Michael Underwood, who I'd never heard of before the last week of The X-Factor, skating with Melanie;
- Page 3 old-hand Linda Lusardi, skating with Daniel;
- and finally Jordan's boy-toy and celebrity stammerer Gareth Gates, skating with Maria.

Phil reminds us that this is a competition, and promises us our judging panel shortly. Except of course WE HAVE TO GO TO A BREAK FIRST.

Right, now we can meet the judges, or "The Ice Panel" - Karen Barber, Nicky Slater, Jason Gardiner, RUTHIE HENSHALL (RUTHIE HENSHALL!!!!), and Head Judge Robin Cousins. Hooray! Well, apart from the fact that I love her, I imagine Ruthie will be a vast improvement on the fifth judge from previous series - Krez, who seemed to have wandered in off the street every week with her hair growing ever higher, and last year's Natalia, who often struggled with her English vocabulary [Racialist! - Georgi] so chose instead to beam at contestants when she was pleased with them. [I love Ruthie Henshall as much as the next person, but I'm not so sure about having two non-skaters on the Ice Panel. It's not as though the skating experts don't understand the performance aspects, is it? - Georgi] (Also, Ruthie's kind of a bitch.-Joel)

Holly welcomes the judges back. Karen has been shifted to the far end of the bench [so Head Judge Robin Cousins is in less danger of being on the receiving end when she starts bawling and the snot starts flying - Georgi], where Nicky used to sit, and Ruthie is sitting between Jason and Robin. Robin talks about how hard everyone must work. Ruthie is looking for RISK-TAKING and PERFORMANCE and REMEMBERING ROUTINES (maybe she should have been judging Strictly and given Matt di Angelo a piece of her mind?). [I am looking for SKATING ABILITY. Anyone? No? Sigh. - Georgi]

Greg Rusedski is the first one to skate tonight. He tells us he is a tennis player. He grew up in Canada, so of course he can skate, because it is THE LAW to learn there. He says he is competitive, which is helpful for a professional sportsman. In rehearsal, he asks for a faster partner, and criticises Torvill and Dean. Chris may hit him. Even placid old Jayne snarks, "Greg gave us a really good lesson in choreography today." However, Greg may be able to skate, but he can't dance at all. But then again, nor could Kyran Bracken, and he's done OK. [Greg's kind of adorkable. - Steve]

Greg and Kristina are skating to I Got You Babe. I'm actually quite surprised these two have been paired together, as I'd guess he's the best part of a foot taller than her and they look a bit strange. Still, as we know, it's also very difficult for couples to skate together if they are the same height - isn't that right, Sean and Marika? Tony Gubba commentates on the action replay and makes lots of tennis-related puns. Drinks! Scores are in - Karen 3.0, Nicky 3.0, Jason 2.0, Ruthie 2.0, Robin 3.0 - 13 out of 30. Ouch. Chris says that tomorrow he is going to teach Greg to play tennis. Heh. Nicky says that nothing is joined up and Kristina is leading. Jason, who is now bald, reminds us it is a competition and likens Greg to Herman Munster. Booooo!

Suzanne and Matt are spinning round in adorable circles backstage. Bless. We see Suzanne stumbling in rehearsal, but Jayne and Chris are quite positive about her chances. Matt says lots of nice things about her - "awesome"! Suzanne falls over and swears. She has been working too hard and is having problems with balancing mummyhood and skating. Aw.

Ooh, they're starting separately - very unusual this early on to see a celebrity skating without the support of their partner. Anyway, they're performing to Hips Don't Lie, and though she looks a bit like she's sucking on a lemon, I quite like this - quite a few scary lifts and throws chucked in there. Gubba enthuses about the amount of content in the routine. Scores - Karen 4.0, Nicky 4.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 4.0, for a total of 19.0. Suzanne is excited. Oh, I'm loving her make-up - lots of glitter around her eyes and beads in her hair. Matt seems to like his partner this year much more than last year. Hmm. [Or is that we like her better? - Georgi] Robin says it was a week 3 or a week 4 performance, and advises her to relax. Suzanne's little boy is waving banners in the audience. Cute. Ruthie seems to be saying that she is judging relatively because it is week 1. That's Nicky's shtick, Ruthie! Don't steal it from him! [Because fuck knows what ridiculous method of marking he'll invent next. - Georgi]

Another ad break.

Phil promises us MUCH MORE EXCITEMENT. Clearly it will come with the OLDEST-EVER CELEBRITY, Aggie off How Clean Is Your House? We see her first day on the ice - she falls and cracks her head. Ouch. She does the same again a week later. Sergey is wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with Made In The 80s - is he taking the piss? In dress rehearsal, Aggie pulls a hamstring. Oh dear God, she's going to be DoI's Kate Garraway, isn't she? (I love how she screams every time she falls down. Which is a lot.-Joel)

And OH DEAR GOD, they're skating to Build Me Up Buttercup. They make it through with a couple of lifts, and no broken bones, so well done both. Someone in the audience is urging SCOTLAND to vote for AGGIE. [Unfortunately since the whole Leon fiasco, I think we're all agreed that Scotland should be disenfranchised when it comes to reality TV voting. - Georgi] Who says ITV's light entertainment is formulaic? Scores - Karen 2.5, Nicky 2.0, Jason 1.0, Ruthie 2.5 and Robin 2.5, for a total of 10.5. Phil thinks it is unfair. Aggie thinks she can do a lot better because she was nervous. Chris says that it is the beginning of the series and it is difficult to recover from injuries when you get old. Sergey hugs Aggie and says that they will bounce back because they work hard. Aw. [Sergey is hot. I never said I wasn't shallow. - Steve]

Jason says that Aggie needs to overcome her fears because at the moment it looks like Sergey is flinging around an OAP. Karen says the marks don't reflect effort, and she wishes she could mark her higher, but she can't. Nicky tries to interject and say that he would mark her with a 6.0 for courage. [See what you've started, Ruthie! - Georgi] Clearly he doesn't think he's getting enough screen time.

Next up, Tim Vincent and Victoria. They are wearing a great deal of gold lame. We see them in rehearsal - Tim is tentative and uncoordinated, but hey, he lives in LA, so he wins. Chris says that Tim is the weakest skater, probably because he's doing bugger-all practice. Karen tells him that he falls over quite gracefully. It's just a shame he can't skate gracefully too.

They're skating to She's A Lady, and for some reason Tim is clutching his buttocks at the start of the routine. He seems OK when they're standing on the spot and dancing, and you can tell he's nervous about skating, but Victoria is doing most of the content here and I suspect Jason will annihilate him for that. I quite enjoyed the routine, though. Gubba says that Tim is hoping for the vote from the valleys, because he is FROM WALES. [Their telephones don't work though. Ask Rhydian. - Georgi] Scores - Karen 3.0, Nicky 2.5, Jason 2.0, Ruthie 2.5, and Robin 3.5 for a total of 13.5.

Phil chats to Tim, and...has he had some work done on his face? [A clue: he lives in LA. Isn't it the law, or something? - Georgi] Or is he just subject to the ravages of time? Jayne says the routine was very sexy. Ruthie tells him to develop some rhythm and work on the dancing because the rest of the contestants are better with the moves. [Suzanne maybe, but Greg and Aggie? Pshaw. - Georgi] Robin agrees to an extent, but admires Tim's bravado.

Now it's Natalie Pinkham, who is very beautiful but I can't say I'd recognise her if she punched me in the face. However, she has the advantage of skating with Andrei, who is one of my favourites. We see some of her daredevil type escapades on television, and if she jumps off cliffs into waterfalls, I wouldn't have thought skating and being lifted into the air by Andrei (who was called a "human winch" last series, maybe by Duncan?) would hold too many fears. Chris doesn't think she's a natural skater, but thinks she has the right attitude to do well. Natalie is reluctant to let go of Andrei, which is understandable. "Can I hold your hand one more time?" she pleads. She's then shunted off to dance class to make her more graceful. Hey, it worked for David Seaman.

Natalie and Andrei are skating to About You Now. I like Natalie's dress; it is red and shiny. Their footwork isn't always synchronised, but she extends her legs well and the lifts look good. Scores - Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.0, Jason 2.5, Ruthie 3.0 and Robin 3.0, for a total of 15.0, which is quite respectable. Natalie says it is the scariest thing she has ever done, and apologises to Andrei for her stumble. Andrei says he is proud of her. Drink! He draws a confusing pancake metaphor. I love Andrei. Have I mentioned that? Jason criticises her hands and body in general; Karen tells her she did well to carry on after the stumble. Holly Willoughby is so vacuous.

Ad break!

It's Steve Backley! I love Steve Backley! When I first started watching sport properly, he was one of my favourite to watch as I always liked his rivalry with Jan Zelezny. So, with that caveat in place, I do want him to do well. Jayne Torvill notes that he is very tall. Steve stumbles in practice and Chris automatically goes to catch him, then realises that's probably not a good idea. Steve has a false hip! His partner Susie has a nonsensically broad Geordie accent. She does not want him to get injured. It's a bit late, though - he's covered in purple bruises. Come on Steve!!!1111"!/zomg/!1!111!!!!

They're skating to For Once In My Life, and Susie has a lovely dress - light blue and sequinned around the bosom. Steve's children are in the audience with a Good Luck Daddy banner. He looks a bit ungainly and nervous. Send him to Seaman for "skating while over six foot four inches tall" classes! Scores - Karen 3.0, Nicky 2.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 3.0, for a reasonable total of 15. Steve is pleased, particularly with the score from Jason, and claims to have loved the training. Chris is going to make Steve skate with more speed next week. Nicky is impressed with Steve's posture, but thinks that he is nervous with the skating. Ruthie rolls her eyes and says that Steve's interpretation of the music was brilliant - "Even if the music had been turned down, I would have known it was Frankie."

It's Sarah Greene! Phil makes a gag about knowing her already! AHAHAHA! She is skating with Fred, the lucky girl, and I'm fairly sure that she will be easier for him to live with than Kay Burley was. The coaches want Sarah to get out of her comfort zone. There is plinky-plonky piano music as she looks pensive about how HARD it is to SKATE. They are skating to Downtown, and when she hears it she tells Chris, "I love this song", and wells up. It reminds her of a romantic break in New York with her husband Mike.

Anyway, they take to the ice, and they're clad in pink, and they're skating what seems to be a fairly complex programme. There are a few glitches, including a slip at the end, but this is quite good, so the scores look pretty harsh - Karen 2.5, Nicky 2.0, Jason 2.0, Ruthie 2.5, Robin 2.5, for a total of 11.5. Sarah and Phil bicker; Jayne says she thought it was a good skate; Nicky recites a poem "Dancing on Ice for you is a lot between the ears/ So I invite you to throw away the years, throw away the fears/ Enjoy every moment and we'll see laughter, and happy ever after, and not tears." That's a shit poem. [I hate poetry, and the fact that it causes people to spout bollocks like that is one of the many reasons why. - Steve][I can tell Nicky is going to be a problem this series... - Georgi] (Bullshit scoring, I'm afraid. Poor Greeno.-Joel)Robin tells Sarah she looks fantastic. Oh, the traditional middle-aged lady's backhanded compliment (see also: Letitia Dean).

Next is reality TV whore Chris Fountain, who used to play ice hockey, despite not being Canadian, so he can skate already. Jayne tells Chris D that Chris F is faster than him, and cackles. Chris F is not used to the toe picks, and keeps falling over. It is funny. He threatens to file them off. Partner Frankie is looking a bit pissed off by it, and keeps screaming in horror - unsurprisingly, as he's trying to lift her and then collapsing.

They're skating to I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor. Their costumes look like they've been spattered with paint, and Frankie has a cute little skirt with net petticoats. Chris is extremely fast across the ice, and he does a nice dance routine on his blades. [Although he did look a bit like he was about to fall over throughout his little step sequence. Perhaps they just worked his way of skating into the routine? - Georgi] Frankie looks delighted not to have incurred serious injury, Chris whoops. Scores - Karen 4.5, Nicky 4.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 4.5, for a total of 20.0 - straight to the top of the leaderboard. Frankie says that playing ice hockey is not an advantage for ice skating, because lots of sports are played on the ice, for example curling, and dancing with a partner is something entirely different. Jason says there is no finish and no interpretation and no connection between the partners (notably, Ruthie and Robin nod vigorously in agreement).

Ad break!

Back after the break, and Phil says, "She can sing, she can act, but can she skate? It's Samantha Mumba." There are so many jokes to be made there, but I shan't. Ooh, we see a clip of Gotta Tell You, which is still one of my favouritest pop songs of that era.[Me too, although I prefer 'Always Come Back To Your Love'. - Steve] Samantha is pleased to meet Jayne and Chris but screeches in horror when she is being lifted. She does the same when she's skating with Pavel. Pavel tells her that she won't learn by saying no. Yeah, yeah, Pavel, bet you say that to all the girls. They skate off, and Samantha falls. Pavel drags her up, and she complains, "My right knee, it went out and in." Pavel replies, "Oh, that's not good." She looks at him and says, "Do you know what I mean?" It is very, very evident that he doesn't, but he says he does anyway just to shut her up. She takes two weeks off, and when she comes back she's even more hesitant than she was before.

They're skating to some weird acoustic version of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (who is DOING this? Anyone? Is it the Strictly house band? It sounds like someone I should know). [I'm reliably informed it was Winehouse. - Steve] Anyway, she doesn't fall over, so I don't know what all the fuss was about. Scores - Karen 3.0, Nicky 3.5, Jason 2.5, Ruthie 3.5 and Robin 3.0 for a total of 15.5. Samantha is pleased to have made it through to the first live show after ALL THE PROBLEMS SHE HAS HAD. Jayne admires Samantha's musicality. Jason was expecting more from her than he got. Ruthie looks appalled, says she had beautiful lines and sneers at him. Heh. [FFS, Jason and Ruthie are having a fight about Samantha's dancing ability. Surely those two ought to be able to agree on that? - Georgi] Robin agrees with Ruthie, and applauds their chemistry.

Michael Underwood is the next celebrity, except I don't think he is famous because I have only ever clapped eyes on him once before. [He's C-list at best, but I'd still be 100% more likely to recognise him than Whatsername Pinkman. - Steve] He falls over in rehearsal and knocks over a bystanding member of the crew. [Well, if they will put camera tracks on the ice... - Steve] Melanie keeps laughing at him and they are getting no work done because of all the hilarity that is ensuing. Michael fears Greg and Gareth - Gareth because he is good at ice skating, and Greg because he is so insanely competitive.

They are skating to Walking on Sunshine. Michael is gurning at the camera, which was a tactic Bonnie Langford used to great effect previously. He seems to have problems coming to a stop, but apart from that the skating definitely looked better than I thought it would. [Also, bless, he looks very pleased with himself for not falling over on the knee-spin at the end. - Georgi] Scores - Karen 3.0, Nicky 4.0, Jason 2.5, Ruthie 3.5 and Robin 3.5 for a total of 16.5. Michael thanks Mel for keeping him under control, and Mel thanks Michael for holding her up when she stumbled earlier. Ha! Nicky says that holding the lady up is a vital skill for male ice dancers. Jason says though it is unsightly, the fun is infectious. Whatevs.

Ad break!

All the way from the Woolpack, it's Linda Lusardi, who is a former model, turned actress. She claims to have spent half an hour on the ice in her entire life, and is scared of hurting herself. She hurts herself and is RUSHED to hospital with a SUSPECTED BROKEN FOOT. From what I understand of the diagnosis, she's torn a ligament and ripped a bit of bone off in the process. She gets back on the ice four weeks later and is very scared and worried about playing catch-up with the rest of the contestants.

They're skating to She's The One. We have a close-up of the judging panel as the routine begins, and though most of them are looking stony-faced, Ruthie is smiling at Linda and Daniel in encouraging fashion, which is nice. I've always wondered why the judges on Dancing on Ice don't applaud the couples when they skate on. Aw, this is a sweet routine, and Linda looks a bit scared but otherwise OK. Tony Gubba makes a joke about Daniel moving into Linda's house. Yes, we're very likely to believe that Daniel is in the midst of a torrid affair with Linda Lusardi. [Why on earth is he in her house, though? Does she have her own personal ice rink? - Steve] Scores - Karen 4.0, Nicky 3.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 2.5, Robin 3.5, for a total of 16.5. Ruthie explains that she thought the performance was beautiful and touching, but felt that Daniel was supporting Linda a little too much. [This is more like it - we will not stand for women being carried around because they can't stand up! I'm talking to you, Langford. - Georgi] Karen says that she is pleased Linda has made it here at all - so, what, marks for turning up? She adds that there is more to come - so, what, marks for potential? Daniel and Linda clap each other and hug.

Finally, Gareth Gates, who calls himself a singer-songwriter. There is much LOLzing in my house. He is ludicrously hard-working and very hard on himself. Chris thinks Gareth is his own worst enemy, and Jayne says he has a bad habit of stopping mid-flow rather than working through the mistakes. [And Karen threatens to be cross with him. I am struggling to imagine it. - Georgi]

Gareth and Maria are skating to Beautiful Day, and I could be imagining it, but I think his head is dropping far too much, far too often. [On the plus side, I'm loving Gareth's mint-green shirt and pinstriped white waistcoat combo. - Steve] There are some nice bits, and it doesn't look like there are any major errors, it's just a bit laboured for my tastes. Scores - Karen 4.0, Nicky 4.0, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 3.0, for a total of 17.5. Phil has a pop at Gareth's negativity, Jayne says he did great, Jason has a pop at Gareth's negativity. Holly screeches, "We believe in Gareth Gates!" [If I refuse to believe in him, does that mean he doesn't exist? - Georgi] Nicky tells him his head and shoulders are down. Yes! That's what I said! [Don't get too excited - that means you're thinking like Nicky. Your next rundown will be composed entirely in terrible poetry if you're not careful. - Georgi]

So that's it. The leaderboard has Chris and Frankie at the top, and Aggie and Sergey at the bottom. We are urged to vote before the results show in an hour's time, and are kindly provided with a recap. And we're out! Join me later for the results - and the skate-off!

Results show

Earlier tonight, 12 couples danced on ice for OUR VOTES! Now we're back at the rink, ready for the results, and the bottom two couples will skate off to stay in the competition. Phil and Holly welcome us back, and reiterate the entire concept of phone voting. The lines close - the audience "wooooooo" in scary-ghost fashion.

We see snippets of the routines again, interspersed with backstage gossip. Greg reckons that Herman Munster and he are both "loved giants". Suzanne is a Ruthie Henshall fan girl, and understandably so. Aggie was expecting minus marks. Tim thinks his personality compensated for the lack of skill. Natalie doesn't know why she stumbled, and Andrei looks on benignly. Steve admits he was nervous, but says everyone is, and you have to deal with it. Sarah enjoyed herself, and Fred tells her that is the important thing. Chris confesses he nearly fell twice, and was relying on Frankie (who is like a little doll) to hold him up. Samantha is happy she didn't fall over. Melanie is crying because Michael makes her laugh so hard. Daniel makes Linda smile. Gareth thinks it went well and wants to stay in the competition. [And at this point I note that contrary to my prior observation, Gareth's waistcoat is sequinned, not pinstriped. I still sort of covet it, however. I always forget how gay I am until I watch this show. - Steve]

Wow, stunning insight to our contestants there.

Holly talks to the judges some more. Ruthie thinks the standard of skating was fantastic, and thinks Michael should progress for his improvisation. Robin says that competition will get tougher and everyone must continue to give 100 per cent. [He means 110 per cent, doesn't he? - Georgi]

Hooray! Phil is about to get the results, and touches his ear! Drink! The first couple through is: Linda and Daniel! Also safe are - Chris and Frankie! Michael and Melanie! Gareth and Maria! Suzanne and Matt! Steve and Susie! Natalie and Andrei! Tim and Victoria! Greg and Kristina!

Ooh, so we are left with three ladies - Sarah, Samantha and Aggie - and the final couple who will definitely skate next week will be revealed after the break.

So we're back, and the final couple who will skate next week - Aggie and Sergey! What the fuck?! [Hardly a surprise. I mean nothing against Aggie, as she seems lovely, but she had a lot of things counting in her favour: the woobie vote from all her accidents, the sympathy vote for the person at the bottom of the table, and the never-to-be-underestimated vote for people who are SCOTTISH. - Steve] Right, we need Sarah Greene to stay, I think, but I suspect she won't. Maybe Phil could pull a few strings with the judges. Jayne and Chris murmur platitudes about being a big family.

Sarah and Fred go first. Phil gives her a cuddle, and she says that this time round was much more nerve-wracking. Samantha and Pavel go second - still really hating that version of the song - and Jayne says that she skated better this time round. Samantha says she was more nervous but thinks it went better than before.

Time for judgement. The couples go back on to the ice to face the judges. Karen saves Samantha; Nicky saves Samantha; Jason saves Samantha; Ruthie saves Samantha; and head judge Robin Cousins, whose casting vote makes no difference whatsoever, saves Samantha too. Poor old Greeno. And poor Fred. [Poor, pretty Fred. Sigh. I was hoping he'd get some time with a nice partner this time around, after being stuck with Kay Burley last year. - Steve]

Phil is gutted. Heh. Sarah says it has been a privilege being involved in the show, and she will not be hanging up her skates. Instead, she will be going down to Slough ice rink and carrying on with her new hobby. That was impressively gracious. [And I am tempted to go down to Slough ice rink and skate with her, because she is awesome. And anyone who has seen me skating will see how motivational Sarah had to have been to get me anywhere near an ice rink. - Steve]
(Poor Greeno. She didn't deserve to go first week, because she is lovely. I hope she comes back and skates Ruthie and Jason's faces off.-Joel)
Phil and Holly bid us farewell, and Jayne and Chris wave. Well, it was an action-packed hour and a half. [I counted two and a half hours... or did it just feel like it went on forever? - Georgi] Join us next week!