Sunday, 25 January 2009

Well, I guess it would be nice...if you could skate

Co-ed week
Tx: 25th January 2009

Last week, ladies did skating! Jason was rude to people! Coleen whinged and cried! Bissix left, which more importantly means no more Andrei! This week! All 11 couples skate!

Titles!

Phil and Holly welcome us to this week's show - Holly's looking very pregnant and lovely now, and is in a white dress with an odd black velvet belt. Phil, meanwhile, is wearing a waistcoat, and a tie pin. He promises us an action-packed show, and she reminds us of the rules of the competition.

We meet our skating stars - Ellery and Frankie; Jessica and Pavel; Donal and Florentine; Coleen and Stuart; Jeremy and Darya; Melinda and Fred; UGH RAY UGH and Maria; Michael and Mel; Zoe and Matt; Todd and Suzie; and Roxanne and Dan.

And then we meet Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. As predicted last week, Chris has put a stop to Jayne getting fancy ideas above her station, and has prohibited her skating today. Instead, she is standing by his side, where she should be if she's not in the kitchen baking him cake, and looking very pretty in a floor-length black dress. He moans about being jealous of Jayne skating, but he and they will be back next week.

Chris is excited about tonight; Jayne thinks this week has been overwhelming for some people. And it's time for the first required element of the series - a toe-step sequence. You all know what that is by now, I shan't explain it. Chris says it's about precision, and going from the gliding edge to the pick back to the gliding edge with speed. Jayne reveals that some people have struggled. Shocker. Phil says anything could happen. Oh, Phil, tempt fate, why don't you?

And here are the ice panel - Karen Barber, who apparently offers the skaters a shoulder to cry on, though I'd have thought that's more likely to be the other way round; Nicky Slater and his "sharp mind"; Jason and his meanness; Ruthie and her razzle-dazzle; and Lord of the Ice Robin Cousins. Holly giggles that that's her favourite introduction she has ever given to Robin. Heh. He tells us the contestants need to stop being much of a muchness, otherwise nobody will vote for them. Fair point.

Phil says Jason and Bissix argued after last week's show, and there was mascara and tears all over the place, and we all know where this is going - "I've never seen Jason so upset." Snort. [Please. Like Jason didn't botox his tear ducts closed for good years ago. - Steve]

Time for first couple Ellery and Frankie. Last week, Ruthie tried to get off with him. This week, he thinks it is like a new challenge. Mostly, I'd say, because it is. Frankie is loving his work and is generally encouraging in a rather sweet way. Ellery's rhythm is questionable [this would never happen on Strictly - Steve] - "a unique style," says Chris in an uncharacteristically tactful way. There's a walking section in the routine, and Frankie worries that he looks drunk.

They skate to Five Years Time, and it's not as bad as the VT makes out (surprisingly), though there's a stationary bit at the start with some armography (c Craig Revel Horwood) that's dreadful. Once the skating starts, it's fine, if a bit clumsy at time. Gubba tells us that Ellery's thighs are four inches thicker than Frankie's waist. Ouch. Scores - Karen 4.0, Nicky 3.5, Jason 2.5, Ruthie 3.0, Robin 3.0 for a total of 16.

Ellery really enjoyed it and thought it was thrilling and inspiring. Chris says there was a problem with coordination at the beginning, but he brings his own personality to it. Karen says that though the rhythm wasn't together, it was still there, and non-synchronicity is apparently a reason to give high marks. Jason says Ellery lacks style and grace, and the start of the routine was moronic, and not entertaining. Robin says the skating was no better than it was in the first week, and he was expecting better. So...Robin's marking relatively now? Ellery says he will work harder. Bless.

Break!

Last week, Jason told Jessica she needed more passion, but Jessica's husband, Mr Jessica Taylor, was impressed with her skating and would like her to win. Thanks for that, KP. This week, Pavel feels she still has some issues with expression. Mr Jessica Taylor is no longer in the country, as he's too busy playing cricket in St Kitts, but to help her with the emotion of this particular routine, she and Pavel are performing to a song that the Taylors had at their wedding.

It's DJ Sammy's version of Heaven. No, seriously. And they didn't have it AT their wedding; it's on their wedding DVD. I don't even know how that would work. Did they sell copies? Is DJ Sammy's video a hidden extra? [And when is it out on Blu-Ray? - Steve] It's a beautiful, lyrical programme, and the last move is nice, as Pavel drops to the ice, slides, and balances her on his knees. Scores - Karen 4.5, Nicky 4.0, Jason 4.0, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 4.5, for a total of 20.5. Jess hopes she's melted "Mr Frosty's heart", and Holly says she would have been in floods of tears if she had to skate to her wedding music. Then Phil asks the bizarre question - at her wedding, did she ever expect to skate to that music? Well, no, obviously. Jayne says it is a difficult routine with difficult lifts. Jason says she doesn't portray the emotion that she feels inside. Phil asks if it would have helped if Kevin had been her partner, and she says no, because he would fall over. Robin says the routine was lovely and the partnership is growing.

Donal has been packed off by Florentine to ballet lessons this week, except not proper ones, the ones his toddler daughters go to. Not sure exactly how much help they'll be. Chris has choreographed a slide along the judges' desk to begin the routine, and I suspect "using the judges' desk" may become the new "sitting on the steps" in terms of lazy, clunky choreography. They skate to Dock of the Bay, and the beginning section is just so jagged and ugly. The rest is all right. Scores - Karen 3.0, Nicky 4.0, Jason 2.0, Ruthie 3.0, Robin 3.0 for a total of 15.0.

Phil wishes Donal a happy birthday, and the rink is the strangest place he has ever celebrated. Chris says he's done the routine better in practice, but it is a pleasure working with Donal because he is so experimental. Ooo-er. Nicky says that there is lots of skating content in the routine, but he half-presents it, and must learn to give it large and "whap it out to me". Ruthie feels Donal falls down with performance, and is booed for her trouble.

Last week, Coleen cried and whined and really pissed me off. She has changed her mind this week, though, because getting through last week was better than any other award she has won. What other awards has Coleen won, please? Anyway, now she doesn't want to be a namby-pamby girl who says she can't do anything, and she wants to push herself more. In her mind, she's still young, and there's only so much she can talk about how old she is. Now, this is a Coleen I can get on board with.

They skate to Islands in the Stream, and the increased amount of fun that she's having is evident. There's a few tricky lifts in there, she's a bit wobbly on the spiral, but she looks happy, and that's much better to watch. Karen 3.5, Nicky 4.5, Jason 2.5, Ruthie 3.0, Robin 3.5 for a total of 17.0. Phil goes to hug her but she doesn't seem to notice. Coleen is delighted and says it feels great now. Her husband is crying like a baby. Jayne says she couldn't have skated it any better (Coleen, I mean; am fairly sure Jayne could). Nicky was relaxed and enjoyed the routine, and hails her achievement - so basically it's a 4.5 for effort and general patronising of the older lady. Jason says what she lacks in technique she makes up in performance, and she needs to improve her lines.

Jeremy has a sexy, difficult routine this week, according to Jayne. He thinks it's tricky and has many steps. We find out that his brain is like an Etch a Sketch, and he has to shake his head when his thoughts are getting overloaded. He falls down with vim while practising the toe-steps, and swears a lot.

He and Darya are in lime-green skating to Faith. Jeremy is singing along, and it's energetic, to say the least. The toe-steps are OK, but it's a bit meh. I like the circle thing he does at the end. Scores - Karen 4.0, Nicky 4.0, Jason 2.5, Ruthie 2.5, Robin 3.0, for a total of 16.0. Karen says sometimes he doesn't look like he attacks it enough, but this week she will give him the benefit of the doubt. Ruthie doesn't think he should sing along, and Jason concurs. She was underwhelmed. She is booed. Jeremy looks so angry.

Melinda and Fred survived last week's skate-off, and she is sad because either "we're not very good" (except Fred is pretty good, I'd say) or people don't like them. Chris thinks Melinda has had her confidence knocked this week and has a mental block at the moment. He tells her not to look at the big picture. Melinda's kids turn up at the rink, and they get to skate with Fred. She is full of enthusiasm again and is now going to skate for her children. Um, yay?

They're skating to Both Sides Now, and there's lots of ballet-esque moves in the routine, which look pretty and elegant. Her hair extensions on the other hand do not. Scores - Karen 4.0, Nicky 4.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 4.0 for a total of 19.0. Oh, Nicky, srsly? Your judging gets worse. That routine is no better than Coleen's? Melinda admires her beautiful routine and beautiful partner, and tells us that she has Vaseline on her teeth so her lips don't stick to them. Holly goes to Nicky and points out that he's giving out some very high scores tonight, and there's a pause, which is filled by Ruthie sotto voce: "Yeah, but where does he go?" Excellent point. Nicky praises the entirety of the routine, and then makes a comparison between her and Coleen. Ruthie doesn't know what Nicky will do from here, because there are more people to come, and Coleen and Melinda simply don't compare. She loves watching Melinda and her lines, and she looked like she enjoyed it.

Ray and Maria are on next. Cannot. Bear. It. My. Poor. Eyes. He and Maria bounce around backstage, he's in a shirt slashed to the navel, and I'm off to the kitchen. Sorry. Back in a bit.

Right, where was I? Gubba talks about Jimmy Tarbuck and "Silly Black", and the scores come in - 5.0s across the board for a total of 25.0. Ray says there is an element of danger every time he goes on the ice because he is so excitable and hyperactive LOLZOMG! Maria says it has been an up-and-down week, but is generally speechless. Chris fears that Ray is setting his bar too high, and then shoehorns in a self-aggrandising bit - "We know what that's like."

Then Ruthie takes on Nicky again - "How can you say that's only a point 5 better than Coleen?" Jason grins. Nicky says he would love to have given more marks, but he has had a directive from Robin, and he is putting Ray in first place, "as I knew I would". So - Robin has told Nicky not to give 6.0s, but he has not told him to stop marking relatively and generally like a twonk? Jason interrupts the bitching to talk about "our little ray of sunshine"; Karen says he is one of the best ones EVAH. Ugh. Ugh ugh.

Michael has been forced into the gym this week to tighten up his wobbly core. Everyone says "wobbly" too much and it begins to lose all meaning. There's a training montage a la Rocky, including a fabulous bit where Michael has to weight-lift Mel, and she throws Swiss balls at his face. ["My plastic surgeon doesn't want me doing any activity where balls fly at my nose." "There goes your social life." Sorry, carry on. - Steve] Their routine this week is fast - it's to Fascination. They're quick across the ice, and loving Mel's hot-pants outfit. He does still look shaky when he has to do anything by himself. Scores - Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.5 and Robin 3.5 for a total of 17.0.

Phil tells us that Michael took a tumble in the dress rehearsal, and Mel interrupts to say, "WE took a tumble", which could be interpreted either as solidarity or a dig. Everyone says "wobbly" some more. Phil asks if his core is stiffer now. Ha. Jayne thinks Michael did well, because she's nice like that. Jason says Michael's hands are still fused together and tight with tension, and points out that he's had much more training than all the others. Robin says that if routines get faster, he needs to think faster rather than push his body faster. Michael says that Jason is right and he has had more opportunity, though his previous training hasn't proved an advantage, but he will try hard and get better.

Zoe was happy that she and Matt got nice comments last week. Matt is pleased that they are up near the top, but now Zoe is feeling the pressure - they only have ONE WEEK to learn their new routines, and she is not quick to pick things up. In the dress rehearsal, she crashes to the ground, and then she weeps. Matt is encouraging and reassuring.

Looks like her confidence is knocked, though; they're dancing to Rise (beginning with some admirably literal choreography). As Zoe skates past the judges' panel, she stumbles slightly, and a panicking Head Judge Robin Cousins waves his hands, in an effort to keep her upright, which is entirely adorable, and entirely pointless. [I did think that was some very dignified flailing on Zoe's part. That's not easy to pull off. - Steve] Scores - Karen 3.0, Nicky 3.0, Jason 3.5, Ruthie 4.0 and Robin 3.0 for a total of 16.5. Phil admires the way she recovered from the trip. She says it's been a tough week for everyone, and she is having a wonderful time, la la la. Chris says Zoe lives every moment and challenges herself. Ruthie did not care about the stumble, and recommends that Zoe dig deep and believe. Right. Karen says nerves can undo hard work. RIGHT.

Last week, Todd was fucking dreadful, but he got the sympathy vote. This week, he is still fucking dreadful, and he manages to semi-kneecap Suzie. He too is skating for his children, who mock him roundly for his ineptitude.

They're skating to Help (Suzie's outfit is grotesque, by the way). Everyone's all "COME ON, TODD!" His facial expressions are dreadful for an actor, and he misses a couple of steps at the start, so he's standing there waiting for Suzie to take his hands for a good couple of seconds. His spiral is abysmal. And then Todd is supposed to skate by himself, but loses his footing and all ability whatsoever and just slides off down the tunnel. Poor Suzie is just carrying on with the routine regardless. He reappears at the end, and is met with a rapturous reception. Gubba tells us that something along those lines was choreographed into the routine, but not quite to that extent. [Phillip Schofield said later on his official website that Todd had to be picked up by a member of the crew and pushed back out. - Steve] What, not to the extent that he nearly fell on his arse and didn't come back out when he was supposed to? Gubba is practically incoherent (more so than usual) with laughter. Scores - Karen 2.0, Nicky 2.5, Jason 1.0, Ruthie 2.0, Robin 2.0 for a total of 9.5.

It is officially Phil's favourite moment ever on Dancing on Ice. Todd was worried that he wouldn't come back out of the tunnel, but he loved it. Chris says that Todd added to the choreography he was given. Robin says none of us will forget that in a hurry, and it was much better than a fortnight ago, even if it was entertaining for all the wrong reasons. Jason is worried that Todd will leave the competition in a body bag, and hopes he is being paid a lot of money.

Finally, Roxy and Dan. Last week, she was upset that Jason didn't like her sexy face. This week they are doing an upside-down lift which threatens to blind Dan. "Your SKATE is ON MY FACE!" he tells her. They're skating to Genie in a Bottle, and when it comes to the lift, Dan grabs her leg and pushes the blade far away from his face. Ha. Gubba calls her "little miss sexy". Ew. Scores - Karen 4.0, Nicky 4.0, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.0 and Robin 4.0 for a total of 18.0.

Roxy is pleased to do better than last week, even though she didn't have very long to learn the routine (though presumably the same length of time as everyone else). Dan is pleased to still have his eyes, and says he trusts Roxy. Chris has a lot of fun with Roxy, apparently. EW. Jason felt she dipped in and out of the performance, and offers advice on Egyptian arm choreography. Karen thinks she has improved a lot this week.

And that's the last one in this week's Dancing on Ice epic. Recap - Ellery being drunk; Jess reminiscing about her wedding; Donal doing ballet; Coleen having fun and not whinging; Jeremy having faith; Melinda doing it for the kids; UGH RAY UGH; Michael and his wobbly core; Zoe not falling thanks to the power of Head Judge Robin's hands; Todd skating off and failing to reappear; Roxy not blinding Dan.

The lines are now open! Vote, bitches!

Results show

Earlier! 11 couples danced ON ICE for our votes, and now one must piss off and never darken a rink again!

Phil welcomes us back, and the phone lines close. Time for a recap - Ellery thought he did quite well, Frankie thought Jason was too harsh; Jess finds it difficult to put emotion in her face; Donal was nervous, and would be happier in a maximum-security prison, and I'm sure Florentine would be happier if he were there too; Coleen's kids are living the dream, and she wants to do it for them, and she is not old, she is 43 (except nobody called her old, except herself, if I recall correctly); Jeremy threw a tantrum because Ruthie criticised him; Melinda's confidence is back up again and she hopes not to be in the skate-off; Ray is proud, like, and "couldn't do nothing without Maria" (well, duh); Michael is ready to push the boat out; Zoe likes getting lovely comments; Todd reveals EXCLUSIVELY that he slipped; Dan is relieved that he hasn't got a permanent wink, courtesy of Roxy.

Holly gets final comments from the judges. Karen thinks Ray and Melinda did well with the required element; Robin thinks the girls rocked it tonight, and Coleen and Melinda were the best ones (apart from ugh Ray ugh).

Phil has got the results, and touches his ear to prove it. The couples through to next week are - Melinda and Fred; Ray and Maria; Zoe and Matt; Jessica and Pavel; Roxanne and Daniel; Donal and Florentine; Coleen and Stuart (that's all the girls safe, if you're keeping count); Michael and Mel; and obviously the last couple who are definitely safe will be revealed right after the break.

WHY IS EVERYONE SURPRISED WHEN HE DOES THAT? He does it EVERY WEEK.

Back after the break, and the final safe couple are - Todd and Suzie! Jeremy and Darya skate away and Phil tells them off because they have left the ice too early, and they skulk back shamefacedly. Holly asks what they should do - Ellery needs to be more rhythmic, and Jeremy needs to give a good personal performance and not sing along.

Anyway, everyone skates. Ellery looks like he's having more fun and is caught up in the music a bit more. At the end of the routine, Frankie tells Phil that she's always proud of Ellery. Aw. Jeremy has his rabbit-in-headlights face on again, and he stumbles a couple of times, and just generally looks knackered. He admits to Phil that he had a few wobbles, possibly because he used up everything he had last time. And then he says rather ungraciously, "I didn't sing along this time!" Jayne says he put everything into it, and that's all we can ask of him.

Time for the judges' verdict. Karen saves Ellery; Nicky saves Ellery; Jason saves Ellery; Ruthie saves Ellery; and Robin completes the clean sweep. Jeremy looks so pissed off, it's really quite amusing. Montage of their highlights to the tune of Macho Man (snigger) - blushing at each other when they met, falling over, their week 1 performance. Back rinkside, Jeremy tells us, "Despite what the judges said, that earlier skate was the most fun I have ever had," and then he says that Ellery deserved to win because he was best. Everyone congratulates each other and will miss each other, and then Phil takes Jeremy and Darya's bouquets from them so they can do their lap of honour. And then he thrusts the flowers at Holly, who is pregnant and surely should not be doing that kind of menial carrying work.

So we lose Jeremy without ever really getting the chance to look at his chest, even though they force us to see Ray's pecs every week. It's a cruel, cruel world. Join Steve next week!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Single ladies (put a rink on it)

Show 2 - The girls
Tx - 18th January 2009


I swear to God, if they play that fucking Sugababes song tonight, I am walking.

Last week: the boys were on the frontline, and the gloves were off, says Phil. Ruthie decided that "you are a hunk" qualified as constructive feedback, Ray came dressed as JonBenet, Todd looked like a lemon in more ways than one and lovely Graeme went home.

Tonight, the only contestants I give a shit about ladies are on the ice, at long last! Melinda says that you can't have fun when you're scared, Soap Bitch Gemma Bissix is putting Roxanne off, Coleen is losing the will to live, and pretty much everyone is crying. As it should be.

It is Sunday night, and we are live! Though I am watching on a very slight delay for recapping purposes, and also because I was watching the new episode of 30 Rock beforehand. Phil and Holly arrive, and Holly's boobs are present and correct - possibly even more impressive with the pregnancy? [Absolutely. It suits her, though. - Carrie] Phil welcomes Jayne and Chris and the professional skaters, which means that it's another routine where Jayne takes centre stage and Chris comes on briefly at the end - hurrah! The routine is to 'Spice Up Your Life' and there is fire everywhere! Jayne looks like this is the most fun she has had in her entire life, bless her. There's a really awesome bit where she does a kind of loop-de-loop while being borne aloft by two of the guys, like she's a boar on a spit or something. It looked a lot cooler than I just made it sound. The routine ends, and Chris is nowhere to be seen. Hee. I think I'm really going to enjoy the opening numbers this year.

Phil calls Jayne "posh and sporty, but not in the least bit scary". I don't know, I'm kind of scared of her. Oh, and here's Chris - looking slightly miffed not to have been in on the hot skating action. Chris says he feels like a "lame duck". Oh dear. Jayne tells us that the girls are nervous and excited and looking gorgeous. Chris says that there are a lot of daredevils amongst them.

Holly lies that the girls have got a lot of live up to after last week's snoozefest. But before we get any actual competitive content, let's meet the skating stars: Roxanne and Daniel are first, Donal and Florentine are second, Melinda and lovely Fred are third (wow, Melinda's eye make-up is terrifying), Ellery and Frankie are fourth, Coleen and Stuart are fifth (she gets a huge cheer, and I keep hearing his surname as "Wiggle" even though I know it isn't), sixth are Jeremy and Darya, seventh are Zoe and Matt (looking like an explosion in a paint factory), eighth are Michael and Melanie, ninth are Soap Villain Gemma Bissix and Andrei [yay! - Carrie], tenth are Ray and Maria (boo, hiss, etc), Jessica and Pavel are eleventh [yay! - Carrie], and finally, of course, Todd and Suzie (he can barely even stand up straight on ice. Would anyone else watch Standing Up Straight On Ice? Because I think I would).

The black and white flicker appears in the top-right corner, so we know a break is on the way. Does any show on ITV use that any more besides this one? It seems so archaic, but in a sweet sort of way. And indeed, after some pleasant inanities from Phil and Holly, here is the break.

Back from the ads, and Holly introduces the ice panel: double Olympic competitor and weepy coach Karen, stater of the obvious Nicky, pantomime villain Jason, neither use nor ornament Ruthie [oi, watch it. Ruthie's constructive criticism may not be up to much but she is vey vey pretty and talented. Also I am quite amused by her leching at the men and not getting flustered, like some other judges I could mention - Carrie] and Head Judge Robin, who is the unfortunate victim of another one of Holly's slips of the tongue (she tries to say "there isn't anything he doesn't know about skating" but almost says "there isn't anything he knows about skating", HAHAHA).

Robin tells Holly that the women have to be equals (feminism ftw!) and to be carried without just being props. And that is apparently it for judges' preliminary chat this week. Apparently Phil slapped Jason around the head last week? I didn't notice this. Anyway, Phil assures the viewers concerned about injury that he didn't hurt himself at all, lulz. Eighteen minutes into the show and we finally get to contestant number one!

Roxanne reminds us that we know her from Emmerdale, and tells us that she is lazy, does not go to the gym, and likes to eat chips. She's well qualified to blog this show, if not to actually be on it. [Oi, watch it! - Carrie] In training, she cries a lot, but then meets Daniel, who is quite the harsh taskmaster, leading to a Sports Training Montage. Roxanne gets the hang of skating, but her work with the choreography is less impressive. Roxanne refers to herself as an "unstable person", something Soap Villain Gemma Bissix clearly knows all about. She falls in rehearsals and worries about falling on the live show.

They will be skating to 'Take A Bow' - ooh, Madonna or Rihanna? Let's see. Oh, Rihanna. Feh. Although the opening line of "you look so dumb right now" is oddly appropriate given Roxanne's clunky mannequin choreography, I suppose. Once they actually get skating, however, things look more promising. It's a little hesitant, but fairly appealing. Gubba tells us that Roxanne's costume is the skimpiest of the night. We see recaps of her rotating sash lift, and her plank finish (lol). Scores: 3.0 from Karen, 3.0 from Nicky, 2.5 from Jason, 3.0 from Ruthie and 3.5 from Robin, for a total of 15.0.

Roxanne cannot speak because her mouth is dry, and never thought she'd actually get to be here given her standard in training. Daniel says she's worked very hard and he's very proud of her. He says that he's been putting apples in her chip butties, heh. Chris says Roxanne really puts the hours in, and makes the moves her own. Jayne says that Dan brings the best out in his partners.

Robin says that when it worked it worked very nicely, but when her nerves kicked in, her whole body tensed up. He thinks things look promising for the future, though. Jason thought the execution of the choreography was terrible at the start (this is true), and that she was chewing with her mouth and licking her lips, and there were very stunted lines. Karen disagrees, and is applauded for such, and tells Roxanne that through hard work she will get higher marks. Also, through better skating.

Next are Melinda and lovely Fred. Melinda is a model and TV presenter, but on Five, which doesn't really count. She feels like a five-year-old and enjoys being whirled around by Chris, but is scared, generally. She starts well with the choreography, but admits she's dreading the judges' criticism and doesn't want Jason to call her "a pig on ice skates" because she isn't thick-skinned at all. We see her backstage last week going "oooh!" at all of Jason's "witty" "barbs", which made her tense in rehearsals this week. And seriously, woman, if you get this uptight over criticism directed at OTHER PEOPLE, you need to get it together.

Melinda and Fred are dancing to 'Love Song' by Sara Bareilles. She's lighter on her feet and more natural-looking (insert obvious joke here) than Roxanne was, though I think she's helped by her choreography whereas Roxanne was hindered a little by hers. Fred does seem to be doing more than the lion's share of the work, though, and there are points where she seems to be struggling to keep up. There's a cartwheel at the end, which is nice. And Fred still looks like Jensen Ackles, so all is well on that front.

Gubba tells us about the ages of Melinda's children, then recaps the rotating double stag and the back-to-back arabesque. Scores: Karen 3.5, Nicky 2.5, Jason 2.5, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 3.5 for a total of 15.5 Melinda looks cheered by this, despite the apparent knowledge that Jason is going to be MEAN. Melinda thanks Fred for being a brilliant trainer/counsellor/therapist. Heh. Halfway round, she says, her lips stuck to her teeth. Well, ice will do that to a person. Jayne likes Melinda's presence and calmness on the ice.

Holly talks to Ruthie, who is always good for nothing: she thought Melinda was gorgeous and a joy to watch, but she needs to work on the fluidity. Jason tells Melinda not to liken him to another show's inane judge because he would never refer to her as an ice-dancing pig (AND ARLENE NEVER SAID THAT ARGH ARGH ARGH HOW MANY FUCKING TIMES), more an ornamental pooch. He says she needs to turn out her legs and land more gracefully, and her presentation needs to be looked at because it is messy. Ruthie takes issue with this and says again that Melinda is a joy to watch. How helpful.

Back from the break, Alan Carr is in the audience, to a rapturous reception. Phil suggests he should skate, but Alan insists he'd be like a dog on lino. Apparently Alan came in support of Michael, but got the wrong week. Oops. Someone in the audience has a sign reading "I'm in the mood for DANCING ON ICE." I think Nicky gave it to them. Jessica's husband Kevin does not want to see her fall over and go boom. Are there limpet mines on the ice? [Oh, Kevin Pietersen. I loved that you tried to be nice and encouraging and say you were so glad to be supporting your wife, but in fact you ended up just saying that she'd done fuck all in terms of a career for four years. - Carrie] Oh, apparently the sign belongs to various types from Loose Women: Jane McDonald is all "fuck the Nolans, we're her family". Sherrie Hewson complains her back is hurting. Oh, save the whining for Monday lunchtime, lady.

Okay, seriously, Coleen's VT contains the best two-second summary of Loose Women ever: Coleen says "chocolate" and the audience goes "WOO!" Seriously, isn't that all you need to know? Apparently it is better than men - who knew? She is very excited to meet Torvill and Dean - it's as exciting as when she met the Osmonds. She is such a fangirl, and it is actually quite sweet. Jayne thinks Coleen needs more confidence, and Chris thinks Coleen puts herself down as a matter of course. She fears the other girls with their youth and tininess. She complains that it doesn't feel easy or lovely, and Stuart has absolutely no truck with that shit. However, in rehearsals, she does actually start to enjoy herself a little bit.

They are skating to 'Dream A Little Dream Of Me'. Holy cow, this is the cheesiest routine I've seen in ages. It also appears to be lifted from an entirely different show called Stepping From Left To Right On Ice. It does eventually liven up, though there are some slips as she comes down from her lifts - nothing major, but they are there. Still, she's no Aggie Mackenzie, so that's something. She does a rotating stag and a teapot, apparently Scores: 2.5 from Karen, 2.5 from Nicky, 2.0 from Jason, 2.5 from Jason and 3.0 from Nicky, for a total of 12.5. Coleen tells Phil off for laughing at her and says she doesn't care about the score, but appears to be on the verge of tears. She is glad it's over, and enjoyed the end. Dammit woman, my friend Sarah would KILL to be on this show - at least try to have some fun, can't you? Chris says it has been an emotional rollercoaster for her, and wants to congratulate her for actually getting through it.

Robin says that her nerves didn't show - the skating was messy, and everything is nice and needs to get better, but he was pleasantly impressed. Karen says the marks don't reflect her effort, that her confidence will come and then it WILL feel lovely. Stuart is totally thinking "don't contradict me, lady!"

Leaderboard: Melinda is in the lead, Roxanne is second, and Coleen is third. Phil reminds us that our votes will be important to save our favourite skaters. Before there is any more ladyskatin' action, we catch up with the boys: Todd says that to survive was fantastic, and Jayne does a fantastic lip-purse at the prospect of giving Todd more steps next week. Todd suspects Suzie will not let him lift her. Michael says that his performance on the show was the worst he'd skated all week. Donal said that the skate-off reminded him of the time he had a gun to his head. I am so sure. Frankie is having trouble co-ordinating "Hanley" and says that when he walks ON ICE, he looks drunk. Ellery is not given a chance to refute these allegations. Jeremy said that he wasn't perfect last week, but it was the best he could do. His next routine is more uptempo and therefore harder. Ray attempts to fake surprise at his good comments from Jason last week, and falls over a lot when required to skate more slowly. [In that case, make him skate SLOWER. - Carrie]

Back in the studio, Jeremy hopes that quicker steps will help him "get into the groove". Ray can tell the girls have got their game faces on. His week has been "sand" and he can't wait to get back out there. Todd is hoping to be better next week.

Next up is a star we prepared earlier: Zoe. She's done wingwalking and thrown herself out of plane, but THIS is scary, apparently. Chris thinks Zoe is a hidden talent, and Zoe throws herself right into training. Her training footage is quite comical, and Zoe says that while she is enjoying it, she's panicking underneath. Like Melinda, she was scared watching it all from backstage last week. Surprise surprise, back in training, her nerves are affecting her performance. She worries about fucking up on the night and Matt is all "dude, you won't". I like how Zoe cries with a big smile on her face - the true mark of a children's TV professional. Or, if you are a poster on an internet forum, A FAKE H00R. [I like that Matt genuinely calls people "dude". - Carrie]

Zoe and Matt are skating to 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', aka reality show kryptonite. But are its effects lessened when you're dancing to it instead of singing it? She's pretty good, actually - the skating is a little frantic and sloppy in places, which looks like nerves to me, but overall I think she acquits herself rather well. Gubba tells us she turned down a panto role to be in this show. Hear that, Todd? SHE TURNED THE PANTO DOWN. We recap her low-aeroplane spin and her double stag. Scores: 4.0 from Karen, 4.0 from Nicky, 3.0 from Jason, 3.5 from Ruthie and 4.0 from Robin for a total of 18.5. Zoe is very pleased with her scores, and says she's wanted to do this since she was a little girl. She was a little girl in 2006? She talks nineteen to the dozen about wanting to stick around and get better and stay enjoying herself. Chris says this was one of her best performances, and that the first thing Zoe said to him when she stepped off was "I made some mistakes!" Aww.

Nicky says she did well with difficult choreography and shone throughout. Ah, but was she dancing ON ICE, Nicky? Jason said she was fun to watch and had great partner interaction, but in her lifts she was hunched and crunched, so she has to elongate her neck and use her lovely decolletage. Phil says, a propos of nothing, that Holly thinks Zoe looks like Truly Scrumptious out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. We are promised tumbles and tears with Jessica and Gemma after the break.

We're back, with Soap Villain Gemma Bissix, who says she is "best known for her role in EastEnders". Pfft. She will always be Dame Clare Devine-Cunningham, Child Torturer Extraordinaire from Hollyoaks to me. Gemma likes a challenge, and this is a hell of a challenge. She wants to be the best and get a six. A Bissix? Sorry, that was lame. She sees Roxanne as her biggest competition, Soap North vs Soap South. Gemma struggles, however, in her training with Andrei - she wants to be good, and she thinks she is not. She wants to restart a routine that goes wrong, and Andrei tells her off because she can't do that on the live show. Gemma worries that she might not be able to get it right on the night. [Ooh, vaguely irritated Andrei. Rrrr! - Carrie]

Gemma and Andrei are skating to 'The Power Of Love'. They don't fanny around with any static choreography at the beginning, which automatically gets them brownie points with me. Gemma is a little bit wobbly, and pulls a marvellous "ooer" face when one lift doesn't go quite as planned, but again, I'm quite impressed. We recap her arabesque and towering lift of love (the hell?). Scores: 2.5 from Karen, 3.0 from Nicky, 2.0 from Jason, 2.5 from Ruthie and 3.0 from Robin for a total of 13.0. Phil asks the superfan how it was to get out there: Gemma is out of breath, but was ecstatic to get out there and do the routine. She wasn't happy with the routine, though, and thinks the scores speak for themselves. Andrei tells her she did well. Jayne says that Gemma had a rough day yesterday, but should be proud of her work today.

Holly's with the judges: Robin says that Gemma has good legline and good turnout, but she needs to turn out her foot to match her leg, and that her air positions are nice - she needs to relax, because the skating was tentative. Ruthie says that Gemma's determination will hopefully keep her in, but she needs to become more solid, and "grace" is the word of the day. Dictionary.com begs to differ with you, Ruthie: it's actually "narcolepsy". So nerr.

And finally, the lovely Jessica Taylor from Liberty X, and also Strictly Ice Dancing (where she was ROBBED), which is tactfully referred to as "another television skating competition" by Phil's VO. She is very confident on the ice and works well with Pavel, but she gets apprehensive when faced with ice choreography. She's worried about tripping over Pavel, and reveals herself to be the person crying bitterly from the intro after falling and hitting her head - though she admits it was more from being scared than anything else.

Jessica and Pavel are skating to 'La Isla Bonita', which was the first record I ever bought, fact fans. She's very good - very smooth, very confident, and this is a tricky routine. Gubba then annoys me, and Carrie I suspect, by referring to her as Mrs Kevin Pietersen. [I snarled. But then I don't suppose you can expect anything else from Gubba. - Carrie] Apparently this is the first time Mr Jessica Taylor (ha! How do you like them apples, Gubba?) has seen her skate, because she wouldn't let him spy on her during rehearsals. We recap her backfloat spin, and her hoover. Apparently. Scores: 4.5 from Karen, 4.5 from Nicky, 3.5 from Jason, 4.0 from Ruthie, 4.5 from Robin for a total of 21.0 - the highest score of the night, in case you weren't keeping up.

Jessica loved everything about this, and is very pleased her husband and family have given her such great moral support. Chris was worried about her at first because she concentrates so much that he thought she might forget the performance, but he needn't have because it was great. Holly asks Nicky for his feedback, and Nicky looks at Karen. Holly signals for his attention, and then Nicky gives his feedback: he thought they'd work well together before he came to "this event", but there's more than that: he's seeing such intricacy and great content done so well, he thinks she's a cert for the final. Jason thinks she's stunning to look at and she has beautiful lines, but he didn't see any Latina pasion. Jessica demonstrates a move and he's all "yes! There it is! But I didn't see it on the ice!" And then everyone starts fighting, and Holly has to shush them.

Final leaderboard: Jessica in first, Zoe second, Melinda third, Roxanne fourth, Gemma fifth and Coleen last. I'm predicting Gemma and Melinda for the skate-off, in case anyone's interested.

The lines are now open! We get a recap VT: Roxanne being tentative but showing promise, Melinda floating on Fred's back and looking like Amanda Holden, Coleen hating every moment but needing the money, Zoe clicking her fingers, Gemma wobbling on her lift, and Jessica lacking el fuego en la sangre, apparently. Lines close at the start of the results show, folks. We'll be back at 9:30pm when two skaters will battle it out in the dreaded skate-off. See you then!

The Skate-Off

Earlier tonight, six couples danced ON ICE for your votes. And yes, one of them must leave the ice for good at the end of tonight's show. Let's get on with it, shall we?

The opening titles still look like a Butlin's advert, however many times I see them.

The lines will be closing in a matter of seconds, Phil informs us. Holly does her Sympathetically Grim Face as she reminds us that however much practice they put in, it will not have been enough for one couple.

Recap With Added Extras: Roxanne was swishy, and Robin thought she and Daniel were a lovely match, but she was nervous, while Jason thought her initial execution of her choreography was awful. Roxanne admits backstage that her legs were like jelly and she stumbled a few times, but she tried to carry on regardless. The Beautiful South would approve. Melinda the ornamental pooch was clumpy in her landings, per Jason, while Ruthie thought she was beautiful. Melinda thought that being called a pooch was preferable to being called a pig, and is grateful that Ruthie was nice. I'm A Nolan Sister, Get Me Out Of Here was glad it was over, though Robin didn't see her nerves. Backstage, she admits it was everything she thought it would be. She doesn't quite clarify if this is good or bad. Nicky thought Zoe shone throughout her difficult routine, and Jason thought she was fun to watch. Backstage, Zoe was thrilled that Jason was nice to her, and constructive to boot. Matt, of course, does not get a chance to get a word in edgeways. Speaking as someone who once interviewed Zoe and was faced with the prospect of transcribing it afterwards, I can confirm she is always like that. She's lovely, though, if that helps. [Namedropper. - Carrie] Gemma the Fangirl struggled coming down off her lifts, and Robin thought she was only okay, while Ruthie thought she needed to become more grace (sic). Gemma says she wasn't nervous before she went on, but she just went to pieces when she went on. She is struggling with the grace because she is a TOMBOY. Jason felt Jessica lacked passion, and backstage she thought she had been bringing the passion. Pavel says they will do it next time: "there's plenty of talent and good looks there," he says, pointing to Jessica. Bless. [Also, would quite happily back Pavel in a fight versus Kevin Pietersen. - Carrie]

Phil's with the boys: Michael thought the girls were great, and that the boys need to raise their game next week. Ellery felt nervous for the girls, so even though it was his night off, he found it hard to relax. He thinks the girls were much better than the boys. Donal advises them all to remember to smile. Jayne thinks the boys are desperate to get out there and skate again. Chris thinks the nerves got to a few people.

And Holly's with the judges: Nicky thought that Gemma needs to go past where she think she can - less talk, more action. He tells them to believe they can fly, as R Kelly would put it. Jason was surprised by Gemma for being all mouth and no skates, and Zoe for turning in a great performance.

Phil has the results (touches ear, despite lack of obvious earpiece). The first couple safe and skating next week is: Coleen and Stuart. Coleen looks shocked and pleased, in a horrified sort of way. Also safe are: Jessica and Pavel and Zoe and Matt (yay!), and the fourth couple is...going to find out after the break, obviously.

Adverts. Is that Mad Di Barker from Bad Girls advertising Thomson and First Choice holidays?

Once we're back, Phil reminds us that only one remaining couple is safe, and it is...Roxanne and Daniel, like anyone really thought the Emmerdale star would be in any danger in week one.

So it's Melinda vs Gemma in the skate-off (I knew it!), skating once more with a clean slate. Or should that be a clean skate? Jayne says it's going to be tough for them. Chris says that Melinda needs to remember her great rehearsal, while Chris says that Gemma needs to get into the zone and stay with the blades. Okay then. [If they didn't stay with their blades, it would be difficult to Dance On Ice. - Carrie]

Melinda and Fred are up first. Melinda's skate-off seems a little smoother than before, though there's still some clumsy legwork going on. Afterwards, Melinda tells Phil it's terrifying: you want to cry but you have to keep it together. She admits she was expecting to be in the skate-off, but she feels she did it better this time around. Fred thinks she was more relaxed this time. Chris says it was indeed like her good rehearsal.

Now it's Gemma and Andrei's turn. Gemma seems more hesitant but less wobbly this time around, if that makes sense. Again, I'd say this was better than her earlier performance. It's going to be a tough one - if it were down to me I think I'd save Gemma, but it could go either way. Gemma tells Phil she doesn't want to go home - when Phil asks if she's disappointed to be in the skate-off, and Gemma practically shouts that she's the show's biggest fan so she wants to stay for another week. She adds that she hasn't cried in three years, but she's cried four times this week. Wow, she really wants this. I'm quite amazed. Chris and Jayne think she was much better the second time around.

It's judgement time: back onto the ice to face the judges. Melinda kisses Gemma and they hug. Aww. Melinda doesn't seem to know where she's supposed to stand, and Fred has to pull her back out of Gemma's way. Heh. The crowd go wild and start shouting names. Karen says they both did themselves proud, and is sorry, but she votes to save Melinda. Nicky says one person gave a much better performance, and votes to save Melinda. Jason wonders whether he should save Cardboard Cutout 1 or Cardboard Cutout 2. Fine talk from a stock panto villain. He votes to save Melinda. It's academic at this point, but Ruthie and Robin both vote for Melinda. Gemma is distraught, as you might expect. She vows to come back every week - she's very excited that she gets "me plus one for the rest of my life on Dancing On Ice!" She's gutted to be out, obviously, but is proud of what she achieved having never stepped on the ice before beginning training. She thanks Andrei and says she wouldn't have wanted to have anyone else as her partner. [Fair enough. - Carrie] Jayne says that it's disappointing, but someone has to go. Phil is gutted to lose the fangirl and Carrie is gutted to lose Andrei.

They skate off to do their lap of honour, and Phil tells us that next week boys and girls will be competing together! Whoop! Join us then!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Saux long, farewell

Show 1 - The boys
Tx - 11th January 2009

It's back! 13 (13!!!!) celebs are going to face one of the greatest challenges EVAH, according to Christopher Dean. Ray Quinn is punchable. Michael Underwood has a lot to prove. Ellery Hanley is a SPORTSMAN. Jessica Taylor is sobbing at Pavel, who must be wondering why he keeps getting lunatic women. This! Is! Dancing on Ice! 2009!

Titles!

Scary voiceover man says, "It's Sunday night. It's Dancing on Ice!" And there is a weird interpretative dance routine, where Jayne gets to dance with people who aren't Chris, and looks very happy about it, particularly when she gets Matt and Dan to be her Boys in a routine to Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps. There are odd people in geisha facepaint doing dancing on the edges of the rink. Has Brian Friedman infiltrated this studio too? Chris comes on at the end while Jayne does flying, and his role is principally to spin her around and then avoid being decapitated by her whirling blades of death, which he does.

Here are Phil and Holly, who is positively blooming with her tidy little baby bump. They embrace like they haven't seen each other for years. They thank the company of skaters, even the mad ones in the odd make-up. Chris and Jayne join them on the stage, and Chris is at pains to point out that he is only a little bit injured and he is not doddery, doddery he is not, and he will be back ASAP, so Jayne had better not go getting any grand ideas about choreographing her own routine.

Time to meet the stars - ex-Hollyoaks and Holby actor, now reality TV whore Jeremy Edwards and new girl Darya Nucci; Loose Woman and Nolan Coleen Nolan and new boy Stuart Widdall; investigative reporter Donal MacIntyre and the other newbie Florentine Houdiniere; soap villain Gemma Bissix and my lovely Andrei; Tucker Jenkins/Mark Fowler and Susie; popstar and Kevin Pietersen's wife Jessica Taylor and Pavel; rugby league player Ellery Hanley and Frankie; Swindon's finest [if you don't count Billie Piper - Steve] Melinda Messenger and Fred; spawn of Satan Ray Quinn and Maria; another reality TV whore Roxanne Pallett and Dan; Guardian-reading heterosexual Graeme le Saux and Kristina; Blue Peter presenter Zoe Salmon and Matt; and finally, making it an uneven and unlucky 13, ankle-breaking Michael Underwood and Mel.

Phil and Holly explain the concept of the show, and it's gone a bit Strictly because it's boys only this week. But of course we don't actually get to see any of them skate till after the break.

When Phil welcomes us back, he feels the need to remind us about the way the show runs again, before introducing our judges - Weepin' Karen Barber, Bloggin' Nicky Slater, Snarkin' Jason Gardiner, Singin' Ruthie Henshall [looking rather bloated this year, I thought - Steve] and the Amazin' Robin Cousins. Holly and foetus go to chat to Robin to ask what the boys need to do to impress tonight. Answer - be good at skating and leading. [And dancing. On ice. Sorry, wrong judge. - Steve]

19 minutes in, and it's time for our first skater. Jeremy is enthusiastic and wants to learn, and is adamant that putting in the hours will result in success. [He also looks like he's melting, from certain angles. Though he's still aged far better than I have, so I'll shut up now. - Steve] He is gleeful at being partnered with the beautiful Darya - "ding dong!" he murmurs. She is similarly pleased. The happiness doesn't last long. Jeremy is not a natural on the ice, and he doesn't seem to understand that Jayne and Chris have been skating together for the best part of the last half-century, whereas he and Darya have been skating together for the best part of a fortnight.

Their routine is to Spandau Ballet's True, and God love Jeremy, but the look of absolute frozen fear on his face is something to behold. It's exactly the same expression that Charlie Brooker mocked so admirably when Jez was presenting his cookery show - panic when the producers are yelling in his earpiece, "Get out of the frame, you stupid fuck!" At the end, he finally smiles and looks relaxed. Gubba makes an ill-advised topical joke, and suggests Jez should wear a sequinned thong in an effort to garner votes. Scores - Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 2.0, Robin 3.0 for a total of 15.0. Jez is self-deprecating in his comments; Darya says he is lovely and she is lucky to have him as a partner, and Phil just talks over the top of her, which is unlike him.

Nicky says he takes his hat off to Jeremy's smoothness and the way he is trying to present Darya, and says that skating with so much content and "to pull it off" is a great achievement. I snigger, because I have a mind in the gutter. Ruthie says, "It is VERY early in the competition." Yes, Henshall, it's the first blinkin' dance! She says that everything he thinks is expressed on his face, and suggests he uses his "lovely smile" a bit more.

Donal Macintyre is clearly short of a bob or two. If we have to have an investigative journalist on the show, personally I'd rather have seen Roger Cook. Is he still alive? In fact, even if he's not. Donal says nothing scares him, and he is comfortable in prisons and with gangsters, but he is nervous and uncomfortable when it comes to skating. Jayne and Chris sandwich him and walk him around the rink. There is a minor problem in that Donal has to do a day job in South Africa, but fortunately The Abroad also has ice rinks! He walks onto the ice with a man whose tracksuit is the most patriotically Springbok thing I have ever seen, and I comment to my friend, "I bet that's the South Africa coach." Lo and behold, the caption comes up, SOUTH AFRICAN COACH. He doesn't have a real name. Just a job title. Then Donal has to go to America and skate there too, and he lists all the countries he will skate in before the end of the series. Chris hails him as his hero for his determination. Donal would be gutted if he went out in the first round.

Donal and Florentine are skating to Rock Star, and the pseudo-line-dancing combined with this dreadful song is enough to drive me into the kitchen until the end of the routine. I'm told that his speed wasn't bad, his face showed a little too much tension at times, but he definitely worked hard at making it look good. Scores - Karen 2.5, Nicky 3.0,Jason 2.5, Ruthie 2.0, Robin 3.5 for a total of 13.5. Donal enthuses about how lovely everybody is and how much he sucks and how he will be better in the skate-off. Florentine talks about Donal's Journey, even though this is the first week. Drink! Donal has lost three stone and is "orange as an Oompa Loompa". Chris calls Donal his rock star. Ew.

Robin says that Donal was in control of the partnership and that is the important thing; the skating will come. Jason is impressed, pointing out the excellent eye contact, and recommends that he keeps that in the lifts too. He concludes by saying, "You're not as bad as I expected, or as bad as you think you are."

Coming up - the girls being feisty, and Todd Carty attempting to break Chris's leg, much to Jayne's amusement.

Break!

Back. Todd Carty has done much acting, but not much skating or dancing. Jayne and Chris drag him around a bit, then he falls over, kicking Chris's legs out from under him. "Yay! Good work!" cheers a clapping Jayne. We see that Todd is not good at skating backwards, but he does not have time to practise because he is in PANTO in the PROVINCES and needs to travel two hours down the road to Bristol and the nearest rink. Susie gets cross with him and shouts at him. Todd doesn't seem all that fussed.

They're skating to (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, and before they begin there is much whooping and encouragement. Todd manages to skate by himself for a bit before Susie circles him and proceeds to lead him around, including in a spiral where his footwork is ridiculously jagged. They both laugh throughout the routine. Gubba reminds us that ice is slippery. Scores - Karen 2.0, Nicky 1.5, Jason 1.0, Ruthie 1.5, Robin 1.5 for a total of 7.5. Phil tells Todd that for entertainment value he deserves straight sixes; Todd declares that he loved every single minute. Chris says there is a showman inside the skates, and he needs to be let out; Todd adds that he is a slow learner, but Susie is amazing - the usual stuff.

Karen congratulates him on making it the whole way through the routine. Jason is booed before he manages to speak, and then shows that the audience may possess psychic powers by telling Todd that he moves like he's crapped himself. I half-expect Holly to have to interrupt and apologise to the easily-offended viewing public, and feel sure that the Daily Mail will be outraged in the morning. Nicky says Todd is like Eddie the Eagle in that he is rubbish but we like him.

VT of the girls - they are feisty, determined and gorgeous. Jess keeps fallng over and dragging Pavel on top of her. Wise lady. Make the most of it while hubby's preoccupied, right? Coleen whines. Melinda is terrified. Matt is fed up with Zoe's gabbling. Gemma wants to win, and is willing to strangle Roxanne to do so. They wrestle each other around the rink, but are at pains to point out that they are only teasing. Gemma tells Phil what a fan she is of the show. Phil asks Jess how she's coped with a difficult week, which I take as a reference to the problems her beloved has had, but she stays on-message and talks about the skating. Coleen whines. [They should've got Bernie Nolan on instead, then they could've pitted Ray Quinn against his former soap mum. - Steve]

Break!

Ellery Hanley's up next. He has met Jayne and Chris before. They were wearing Eighties shorts. Hilarity ensues. When he begins to skate, he doesn't look bad at all. Chris admires his enthusiasm. However, it emerges that Ellery cannot tell his left from his right. "This is a whole new ball game!" he admits. It's not a ball game at all, Hanley! Frankie suggests getting satnav to tell him when to turn left and right, and then giggles at her own gag.

They are skating to Born To Run, and Frankie is wearing a Bacofoil bikini. The highlight of this routine is the slow-motion running. Because the song is Born To Run. DO YOU SEE? Frankie goes mental at the end and starts hugging and high-fiving him. Scores - Karen 3.5, Nicky 4.0, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.0, Robin 4.0, for a total of 17.5. Ellery does his Oscar-winning speech, saying it's the most beautiful sport he's ever done. Frankie says it's an honour to work with him. Chris says, "I didn't think anyone could work harder than we do, but he does", thereby turning what was supposed to be a compliment into an arrogant egotistical aside. Robin says that Ellery reminds him of "another rugby player at this stage of the game", and then goes on to name him - "he being Kyran Bracken" - like we couldn't have worked out who it was he meant. Ruthie is happy now she has her muscular sportsman to lust after, proclaiming him a "hunk".

I must confess here that Ray Quinn is a bete noire of your Bitching team. From his smug swing stylings on The X Factor to his Baby Ballroom judging to his omnipresent grin on the tube posters for Grease, for us he encapsulates most of what is wrong with humanity. Maria's drawn the boy singer straw for the third year running, and shockingly seems to be happier with this year's pick than she was with whinging Gareth Gates. We are reminded of him crucifying Sinatra standards live on television, and then he talks through his nose about how amazing he is and how much he loves skating. As a rollerblader, he can skate quickly already, and gets carried away from time to time, which makes me worry about Maria's safety. "Sometimes I lose control of myself and get overexcited!" he declares. I vomit.

They're skating to Mmm Bop, and though it appears to be fast and accurate and technically impressive, I cannot bear to watch him. I fear this may be the case for the rest of the series, so the recaps will be lacking slightly, unless Steve can force himself through it. [I'll do my best, but I can't make any promises. I lasted long enough to see him skating onto the ice looking like JonBenét Ramsey before curling up into a ball and crying. - Steve] Scores Karen 4.5, Nicky 5.0, Jason 4.5, Ruthie 4.5, Robin 5.0, for a total of 23.5. Ray whines, "WAIL POOR ME NO ICE-RINK IN LIVERPOOL." Chris says it will be a challenge to push him week after week [not if he's standing on the edge of a cliff, I shouldn't think - Steve]; Jayne vows that they will. Heh. Over with the judges, Holly asks Nicky if that was a demonstration of a celebrity leading their partner. I tell my friend watching with me that this will mark the first Slater "it's about DANCING ON ICE" comment of the series, and lo, so it occurs. Slater also says that Ray has a Sinatra swagger (no) which he's sure works for the laydeez (no) and works for him too (NO. JUST NO). Jason is excited that there is somebody who is brilliant, and he hopes he is in the final.

Break!

Graeme Le Saux is rehearsing with a chair for some reason. We all know how difficult chairs are to work with. [They're nothing compared to the trials of a hat or a cane, I'm sure. - Steve] He seems to be getting on OK with skating and with the choreography, and then manages to fall and smack his head on the ice, splitting his lip open. Kristina is all upset. Hang on. She has got a brace on her top teeth, bless her. When they're out and ready to skate to I've Got You Under My Skin, she's not doing her usual smile - it's a closed-mouth one, so you can't see her teeth, in the same way as 13-year-olds do when they get train-tracks stuck on. BLESS. Le Saux offspring are in the audience to see a nice routine; Graeme's a little awkward on the choreography in places, but the skating seems reasonable. And he kisses her hair at the end. BLESS! Scores - Karen 3.0, Nicky 2.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 2.5, Robin 3.5, for a total of 14.5. Graeme is delighted with that. Kristina is proud of him. Drink! Jayne thought he gave the best he could, and wants him to use more of his personality. Ruthie says it was a good performance, and there is then a minor debate about whether the shoulders of his jacket obscure his head lines. Karen tells him to relax and the marks will improve.

And the final couple - Michael and Mel. We get to see his hilarious waaaaaaaaaailing in hospital - "I've BROOOOOOOOOOKEN IT! I caaaaaaaaan't BEEEEEEELIEEEEEEVE it! It's sooooo TYPICAL!" He still has FLASHBACKS of the accident and needs to build his confidence up. When he falls for the first time, Mel cheers - "First fall!" - and tells us wisely, "That's how WE LEARN." Michael does not expect to get through the routine without anything going wrong.

They're skating to Have I Told You Lately, and Michael is right, there are lots of little glitches here that I suspect he'll be marked down for simply because he had all the technical training last year. There's a bit where Mel comes out of a lift and lands on his boot, and another where she's down on the floor and reaches back for his foot, which is not there, and her hand is scrabbling around on the ice instead. Scores - Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.0, Jason 2.5, Ruthie 2.5, Robin 3.5 for a total of 15. Mel wibbles about Michael's courage, and then Jayne and Chris weigh in too. They all keep saying how good it is to have Michael back. Jason points out a few presentation problems, beginning with the hands, and a "wobbly core". Karen doesn't want to give constructive comments, she wants to tell him she is proud of him for coming back and to warn him to stay safe this time. Thanks for that, Barber, you tear-filled waste of space.

So that's your lot. Time for a quick look at the leaderboard - Todd and Susie are firmly at the bottom, and Maria and her devil's minion are at the top - and a time-filling recap in which we are urged to vote. Holly reminds us that nobody wants to leave, so vote vote vote, and then we thank our skating stars. Results will be announced in an hour!

Results show

Earlier tonight! Men skated! Now it's the results!

Titles!

Phil welcomes us back and warns us the lines will close shortly. Holly tells us YET AGAIN that nobody wants to leave, and then it's time for Hot! Backstage! Action! Jeremy was pleased that Nicky was complimentary, and doesn't want to skate again. Donal thinks it is a privilege to skate. Todd is happy that his sons were there and it was a wonderful experience. Ellery liked Ruthie's comments, which made him blush. Maria and her partner are happy but for the benefit of my sanity and my stomach ulcer we will be ignoring them. Graeme is happy because Kristina is happy. Mel tells Michael they weren't as bad as Jason said. Or at least she wasn't.

Phil asks the girls what they thought of the boys. Melinda says they are all proud of them. Zoe reiterates this, and says they are all looking forward to skating next week. Coleen whines. Jayne says how beautiful the girls are; Chris leers at them in a horrid Benny Hill way. Robin says that the boys collectively set a high standard. Nicky talks about someone called Roy. Jason says that Donal stood out for the way he was attempting a performance.

The results are in! Phil touches his ear. I whoop. In no particular order, the safe couples are - Michael and Mel; Ray and Maria; Jeremy and Darya; Ellery and Frankie; and then obviously when it's down to the final three couples, there's a break. After we've had our fill of adverts, we learn that Todd and Susie are safe.

So Graeme and Kristina skate off against Donal and Florentine. Jayne says that whoever leaves tonight, they have to know they've made a huge improvement, and Chris tells them to go for broke, as there's nothing left to lose. Anyway, both couples skate, and Graeme has rid himself of his head-obscuring jacket in an attempt to please Ruthie. He tells Phil, "I wanted to actually go and give it to Ruthie...the jacket, that is." HAHAHAHAHA. Phil tells him, "That would have got you through to next week." HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!

But it's too little, too late - the judges vote in a clean sweep to save Donal. There is much hugging, and Jayne gives them their bouquets. Graeme is pleased he won't mash his face up again, but he will miss Kristina. [And I will miss Graeme, because he was quite nice to look at. - Steve]

So Graeme and Kristina are out in the first week. He's sanguine, she's upset, and I'm vaguely disappointed, but at least this means I can throw my entire weight behind Bissix and my Andrei. Join Steve next week for ladyskatin'!